Friday, May 19, 2017

Ginger Lime Summer Hummer #SharpenYourKitchenIQ & A Giveaway!

Happy Friday everyone!

We are going to have some fun today because today I am sharing two products given to me my KitchenIQ. I was given these kitchen products to review, but opinions are my own.  

V-etched Better Zester is the first kitchen tool I want to talk about because it is ah-maz-ing. 


I have a zester that I thought was awesome, but the Better Zester is even better. I made an Instagram video earlier this week that you can check out here and talked a little bit about some of the unique features of this zester. The Better Zester has a protective cover to protect the microplane from dulling and wearing faster than it should. The Better Zester has a unique curved shape and I really like how it allowed me to get a good angel on my citrus fruits to efficiently get as much zest as possible. My only complaint is that it is a little larger and fits a little awkwardly in my drawer- I almost wish is folded.  My favorite feature was the fresh zest storage container. I  make a mess when I zest and think helped to reduce my zest waste significantly. I find that it is many time the small conveniences that get me to experiment in my kitchen. The Better Zesters consumer friendly feature make it a happy addition to my kitchen. 

The Grate Ginger Tool is the second kitchen tool I received from KitchenIQ. This is another amazing product I am so excited to share with you. 

Truth be told ginger is not something I use often in my kitchen. Many time I avoid it because it can be a pain to prep. I was excited to try this tool because I am all about simplifying prep work whenever possible - #worksmarter! Click here for my Instagram video of this The Grate going to town and peeling the ginger! The Grate peels, grates, slices and extracts juice. It is a small size and does not take up a lot of space for all the jobs it does. My test of this product was peeling and I could not believe how fast and easy it made peeling ginger. The peeler is almost like a little spoon and got the job done so quickly! I also loved the slicer. Think of it as a mini mandolin- it is sharp so watch your fingers.  This is another product that I absolutely loved. If you use ginger this is a must have for your kitchen. It is easy to use (and washes well too- a must for this mom).  I think it is worth noting that this product can work with more than ginger because it will likely attract more folks to give it a try knowing it is versatile enough to work with just about any root vegetable. 

I wanted to create something taste using my new kitchen tools. What better way to celebrate summer on the horizon than a refreshing cocktail.  I love Moscow Mules and Summer Hummers, and decided to make combine my favorite flavors from these drinks. First, I made an easy Ginger Lime Syrup to sweeten my drink. 

Ginger Lime Syrup


Ingredients

Zest and Juice 1 medium Lime
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled sliced 
1 1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar 

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a small pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain, cool and pour into a jar. Store in fridge up to 1-2 weeks. 


So, next we come the cocktail. The best part. Like I said my inspiration was a cross between a Moscow Mule and a Summer Hummer. I opted for a vodka cocktail and I used limeade versus the traditional lemon is a summer hummer. I used a store bought limeade (I used Simply Limeade), but you could make your own. So how was the finished product? Delicious. The flavors works really well together and the drink was so refreshing.  The recipe below is for 1 drink, but I would say the recipe for the syrup will make about 5 drinks. 


Ingredients

1 1/2 - 2 shots vodka
1 1/2 shot ginger lime syrup (recipe above)
1/2  cup limeade (store bought or homemade)
Ice & fresh lime wedges

Instructions

Fill glass with ice and pour vodka over ice. Top with syrup and limeade. Stir with straw and garnish with a fresh lime wedge. 


KitchenIQ has been generous enough to offer a giveaway to my readers!  The prize pack is both the kitchen tools reviewed in this post and the V-etched Spice Grater! Enter in the Rafflecopter tool below and  I winner will be randomly selected next Friday! 
This contest is only valid for U.S.  residents. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Weekly Meal Planning 5/14 - 5/20

Whew, I am late to the party with this post! I was sick almost all of last week and into the weekend and am playing catch-up this week. And by "catch-up" I mean starring at my now enormous pile of laundry and empty refrigerator.... Thankfully I was feeling pretty much back to normal by Mother's Day.  

How did your spend your Mother' Day? I started my day with Pure Barre and then we picked up my mom and had a long morning at the park. I grabbed Kellen McDonald's for lunch and went home for naps. I relaxed and watched t.v. and Ron cleaned-up the house. In the evening we headed to my parents for pizza and more playing outside. I kicked Ron's ass at Horse and that was an awesome win.

Look at this sweet pic:



This week has been pretty low key so far since last week was so up in the air. I did a Pure Barre class and will do another tonight. I am also planning to see the new movie in the Alien franchise with my Dad and Ron on Sunday. I am so excited to see it! Saturday is my sister's birthday and we are planning a little family dinner to celebrate! 

This weekend was also my friend Emily's  No Child Wet Behind diaper drive. They collected 23,000 diapers!! The hustle is strong with that one. 

In other news, Cheese Curd In Paradise now has it's own Instagram account! Click here to follow. I previously had all my blog related posts filter in my personal account, but that seemed a bit too much to have them combined.  If you want to follow my personal Instagram you can click here

Have a great week everyone and stay tuned for a giveaway post on Friday!

Sunday: Out
Monday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Tuesday: Goulash and Peas
Wednesday: Leftovers/ Subs
Thursday:  Crock Pot Pork Verde Tacos with Jalapeno Sauce with Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad
Friday: Grilled BBQ Chicken, Rice and Grilled Asparagus
Saturday: Out for my Sister's birthday

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cheesecakes Cupcakes

Did you know that I use to hate cheesecake? It's true. Hated it. When Ron and I started dating I founf out he loooovvveeeddd cheesecake and it was early in our relationship that I wanted to do things like bake for him....I don't do that anymore- now I make him play Trivial Pursuit with me so I can win.  I learn to like cheesecake I decided that I needed to learn to make it. The more I made it the more I liked it. My parents never made cheesecake and prior t learning to make it I assumed it was the out of the box stuff. Oh I was wrong...and no offense to you boxed no-bake people...actually that's a lie...the no bake stuff if gross or at least I think so, but I always hated cheesecake and probably shouldn't be trusted with those kind of opinions. 

Since trying many cheesecake recipe you can find these lovelies on here:


I think my favorite is the Triple Chocolate. It as the first one I really "mastered". I also  lllooovvveeeee the Chocolate Peanut Butter one as well.  I have made a few that I never photographed and need to re-make as well. I made a Mile High New York Style and a fresh strawberry, but they were eaten too quickly. 

I have been on a kick with mini cheesecakes lately. The main reason I really like making them is because much of my baking is after kids are in bed and the minis bake/cook faster so I can get them in the fridge to chill before midnight....we have all had that cheesecake that just won't get done.... They aso don't need a water bath to bake....double awesome....but I normally do everything in my power to avoid water baths because I hate them for some reason. I have a lot of strong feeling surrounding cheesecake apparently.....

I want to make plain mini cheesecakes for Easter this year and found this recipe. I made my own sauce from Door County cherries and made a few adjustments, and the end result was delicious! I think this is one of the easier cheesecake recipes I have made and they turned out perfectly.  The one downside of minis is they are less forgiving than a large cheesecake. It is very easy to over bake them. I think that is why I made a lot of large ones first to get a good feel for when they are truly done. If you make this recipe keep a close eye from about 17 minutes on to make sure the center is slightly jiggly. If you over bake they crack and if you under bake they sink. No good. There is not a hard and fast rule and mainly you just need to keep a close eye. 

Like I said, I used cherry, but the original recipe provides a recipe for a strawberry or salted caramel topping and they both sound delicious. 

Tonight we are relaxing around the house. I really need to ut mulch down in my front yard so it doesn't look like a jungle like last year....I give myself a break because I had just birthed another human... This year will be the year the yard looks better! We will see if that actually happens....

Enjoy the cheesecake an have a great week my friends!


Ingredients

15 sheet of graham crackers
7 Tbsp salted butter, melted
4 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Place graham crackers in a food processor and crush. Pour in melted butter and as the food processor crushed the crackers. If you do not have a food processor a sealable bag and a rolling pin or heavy can will do the trick.  Divide graham cracker mixture among 24 paper lined muffin cups (about 1 1/2 Tbl per liner) . Press mixture into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling.

In the mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar with 3 Tbsp flour until well blended. Add softened cream cheese to a to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this by hand too and pour sugar mixture over top. Mix mixture on low speed until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time and blend on low speed, while scrapping sides and bottom of bowl and mixing just until combined after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix just until combined. Tap mixing bowl against counter top about 30 times to release some of the air bubbles. Divide mixture among muffin cups filling each cup nearly full. Bake in preheated oven 18 - 23 minutes (mine were done in 19 minutes), centers should still jiggle slightly, don't overbake (if they begin to crack they are starting to become overbaked). Remove from oven and allow to cool 1 hour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator; chill 2 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator or freeze.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 5/7 - 5/13

I lost my voice on Friday (likely a minor cold) and it is now finally returning..... no cool at all. It was a bit of a bummer because I had a brunch for an AAUW group I am in and had to whisper to people! Fortunately everyone understood and I got to sit in silence and enjoy the meeting and program....sign.  After the Saturday brunch and naps, we headed to Bay Beach for opening day. Kellen and his friend loved the ride and screamed their heads off then entire time. After Bay Beach, we headed home with our friends to grill burgers and relax. 


On Sunday, I headed to a barre class and in the afternoon the boys headed to my in-laws and we went to see Alton Brown with my parents. Prior to the show we stopped at The Cannery for dinner. We shared a delicious cheese board and cheese curds. I had a pork and apple crepe and a side ofgrilled asparagus...so yummy. 



It was so strange getting ready this morning with no kids around. I actually went into work an hour early..... It is crazy how much time I use to have... 

This week I am doing a few barre classes and my friend Emily's  No Child Wet Behind walk is on Saturday!  The walk collects diapers to donate to families in need and they already have thousands of diapers from people who already donated! I am helping with registration and I know Kellen will be sooooo excited over the fire truck! 

Also check out this awesome find!


Here is  what is on tap!

Sunday: Out
Monday: One-Pot Pasta Primavera with Grilled Shrimp and Salad
Tuesday: Goulash and Peas
Wednesday: Subs/Leftovers
Thursday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches and Tomato Soup with Green Beans
Friday: Grilled Cheeseburgers, Pasta Salad and Baked Beans
Saturday: Pizza

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Roll-Ups

I spent the entire day thinking that today was Wednesday. I was mainly excited about it being Wednesday because Survivor is on Wednesday but, alas, it is Tuesday. On the bright side I got to play volleyball tonight and I always enjoy that (even if we lost tonight....boo).

Has anyone watch The Handmaid's Tale on Hulu? I just finished the first episode and am enjoying it. The Handmaid's Tale is one of my favorite books. I have a few books that I periodically re-read because I love them and every time I re-read them I notice something new, contemplate a different idea, or have a different take-away. The Handmaid's Tale, Animal Farm, 1984, The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings, A Time to Kill, To Kill a Mocking Bird, A Man with Out a Country, and Ovid Metamorphoses. Those are just a few in a long list of favorite, but I find myself re-reading these stories and always enjoying them. I also really like Elizabeth Moss as Offred. I wasn't sure how this character would be cast because I oddly do not have a distinct image of her in my mind. 

I wanted to share a taste bite sized appetizer with you tonight.  I am currently loving buffalo chicken after a hiatus while I was pregnant with Rowan and was not a fan of heat...thankfully that love for spice is back.  These are so easy to make and this recipe makes a lot of roll-ups. The recipe is easy to cut in half or even quarter if you are not preparing them for a large crowd. The trick to pinwheels or roll-ups is to wrap them in plastic wrap and chill them before slicing. It allows you to get clean small sliced that do not get flattened when you slice them. It also allows for you to get a thinner slice for appetizer portions.  I used ranch dressing in my roll-ups, but blue cheese dressing or a few blue cheese crumbles would be a tasty addition. 

I am off to bed and ready to call it a night- after I wash all the sand off of course!


Ingredients

2 cups finely chopped cooked chicken
2 (12 oz) container whipped cream cheese 
1/4 cup sour cream
2/3 cup ranch dressing
1/2 cup buffalo wing sauce 
1 1/4 shredded Monterey jack cheese (or pepper jack for an extra bite)
10 8-inch flour tortillas 


Instructions

In a medium mixing bowl, mix together chicken, cream cheese, sour cream, ranch, buffalo sauce, and cheese.  Spread about 1/4 -1/3 cup of the mixture (depending on how “filled” you want your roll-up) on the tortilla leaving about 2-3 inches bare on one side of the tortilla (as you roll the tortilla the spread will fill in this part).  Starting on the side with the chicken spread, roll the tortilla tightly. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 2 hours (or overnight).  Remove from fridge and remove the plastic wrap. Slice into 1 ½- 2 inch slices and serve. 

Monday, May 1, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 4/30- 5/6

My baby took 3 big boy steps tonight. Then I pushed him over because he s not allowed to walk yet....just kidding....I guess. I continue to be in awe at how fast my boys are growing. I wish there was a pause button.  However, when Kellen really gets crazy 4 year old on me......ugh....I likely eat my words in that moment.  Kellen s incredibly independent and self-assured. I know later in life this will serve him well, but holy shit dude.....some days are so exhausting.  We have entered the stage of "I don't have to listen" and "don't talk to me like that"..... sigh.... Such a little person with such confidence, but it can be such a struggle. I hear tis gets better as they get old...I hope that's not something they say just to make you feel better in the moment.

This weekend was a lots of fun- besides a bossy, but cute 4 year old. Friday we made pasta and had friends over. Saturday I went to Pure Barre, McDonald's playland and a Costco/Target run.  Saturday night I met up with a few girlfriends for dinner and drinks.  Sunday was more Pure Bare, a movie date to see Boss Baby (so funny), and dinner with Ron's family!

This week I have a few barre classes (a hardcore intensive on Friday!), a volleyball game, AAUW brunch, and Alton Brown on Sunday! Ron and I saw Alton Brown in Chicago and loved the show. We were so excited when we heard he was coming to Green Bay!

This week's menu is lots of quick meal. I find myself short on time at night and love something quick and easy to we can enjoy our night. 

Sunday: Out
Monday: Cheesy Sausage Tortellini, Salad and Green Beans
Tuesday: Tex Mex Slow Cooker Chicken Bowls with Cilantro Lime Rice
Wednesday: Leftovers/Subs
Thursday: Grilled Pesto Burgers Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Garlic Mayo and Salad
Friday: Out
Saturday: Spicy Beef Tacos and Margaritas

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 4/24 - 4/29

What is on our table this week?  Lots of yummy things. Many of the yummy things spilled over to this week because our entire house, minus Kellen and the cats, had a stomach bug. Now that the grossness has left we can return to meal normalcy. 

This weekend the weather was beautiful and we went to the park to play and headed to the county wildlife sanctuary for an Earth Day event. Kellen and Rowan both loved the outdoor time and watching all of the animals. We also grabbed dinner with my parents at a local broasted chicken restaurant on Sunday. The icing on the cake was beating Ron at Trivial Pursuit. 

This week work is busy with presentations and training, but we have a pretty easy week at home. I am doing a few Pure Barre classes, a volleyball game and a dinner with a few friends on Saturday night. I am also hoping to get the kids outside to play and hoping to start doing a little yard clearing before things get out of hand and it looks like a dump (aka my outdoor space all last year....I blame the baby). 

Have a wonderful week everyone- I will be back tomorrow with a delicious treat to share!


Monday: Chicken Enchiladas, Rice and Beans
Tuesday:  Italian Olive Pork Tenderloin, Rice and Green Beans
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday:  Creamy Taco Mac and Salad
Friday: Grilled Pesto Burgers Burgers with Roasted Red Pepper Garlic Mayo and Salad
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Spicy Beef Chili

Friday, April 21, 2017

One Pot Pesto Feta Pasta with Asparagus

TGIF!

I am really tired today.... I went to see Tesla, Poison and Def Leppard on Wednesday night and I am still recovering from being up till midnight and getting up at my normal 5:00 AM alarm. Now that I am not 22 anymore apparently I can't hang. Sigh. Either way the concert was awesome and I got to drink beer. Double win. 

I love asparagus and when the season starts we eat it like crazy. It obviously has but started popping up in Wisconsin, but it is more readily available making the grocery store prices super cheap. I decided I wanted to make a one-pot pasta with asparagus and my favorite combo: feta and pesto. I threw in a little tomato and bacon because why not? This recipe take about 30 minutes to make which makes it weeknight friendly and those, as you know, are my very favorite recipes of all.  The great thing about this recipe is you can add different mix-ins if your family likes something additional like mushrooms or spinach. My family loved this pasta and, to my surprise, Kellen declared it was the best ever. At 4 years old Kellen is a good eater, but like to have his picky days. However, he seems to have developed a love for all things pesto.....

Tonight we are planning to go out for fish and then a relaxing night at home. I have my fingers crossed for an early bedtime so Ron and I can watch a movie. I think we might watch something new.... but perhaps will re-watch Patriot Games with Harrison Ford and Sean Bean (if you haven't see this before it is great as is Clear and Present Danger).  Speaking of movies, I am so excited for the new Alien movie. So. Excited. I love that franchise and sci-fi.....I have already informed Ron that he is taking me on opening day- my Dad will come too.

Have a happy Friday friends and a great weekend!  


Ingredients

1/2 small onion, diced 
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb dry shaped pasta (a "thicker"  shape like gemelli or radiatori) 
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 3/4 cup milk (I use whole)
2/3 cup pesto 
1/2 tsp black pepper 
3 oz feta cheese (1/2 a regular container), reserve remainder for topping 
1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and chopped 
1/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese 
8 pieces of bacon cooked crisp and chopped 
Tomatoes chopped, garnish 


Instructions

In a pot, saute onion in olive oil till tender.  Add pasta, broth, milk, pesto, pepper, and feta. Simmer until pasta is tender and sauce reduced. Reduce heat to low and stir in Parmesan cheese, asparagus (this will work best with a thin to medium stalk) and 3/4 of the chopped bacon (reserve the rest for topping). Allow asparagus to soften in the warm pasta for 2-3 minutes. 

Portion the pasta and top with feta, bacon and chopped tomatoes. 

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Sour Cream and Chive Dip

I love the transition of winter to spring. I love getting excited that it is going to be 60 degrees outside and everyone rushes outside to finally get some fresh air after the colder Wisconsin months. I am a person who loves the 4 seasons and I think it is the transitions that make it, to me, the best. 

This dip is super versatile and can be served with wedges (pictured), veggies, chips or even on a sandwich. I personally love it with roasted potato wedges, but any dip delivery system will do.  This recipe comes together so fast and only needs to chill for about 30 minutes before serving. Weeknight or party perfect in my opinion! Kellen loved this dip and his favorite thing to dip is celery and pretzels sticks. 

Tonight is an exciting night! Ron and I are going with out friend Amanda to see Poison! Amanda and I are big Poison fans, and are soooooooo excited. We don't get out much these days and finally getting to a concert sounds like fun to this girl! 

The remainder of the week will include a barre class and a fish fry! We are also planning to get to the County wildlife sanctuary for their Earth Day celebration. 

Happy hump day friends. 


Ingredients

1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp garlic powder 
1/2 tsp celery salt
1 tsp dried minced onion
1 1/2 Tbl fresh diced chives
Salt and pepper, to taste


Instructions

Mix all ingredients and cover. Place in fridge to chill for 30 minutes.

Serve with potato wedges, veggies or chips (also great as a wrap or sandwich spread). 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 4/16 - 4/22

Happy Monday friends!

I was off with Kellen today and it was so nice to spend the day with my boy. Working outside the home makes those days few and far between. 

We had a lovely Easter and celebrated with both sides of the family. We ate lots of ham and chocolate, and the kids enjoyed playing outside in the warm weather! The day ended with Kellen, my mom and I finally getting to see Beauty and the Beast! I wondered if it would hold Kellen's attention considering it was over 2 hours long, but he was enthralled. He has loved the beast since he saw the animated version, and loved him in this as well. 

This week I am taking a few barre classes and on Wednesday I am going to see Poison with my friends Amanda-so excited! Amanda and I have had a bit of a Bret Michaels obsession for ....well....years.....as you can imagine this is an exciting evening for us....Ron is coming with too to make sure we don't try and run off. Haha. 

Have a great week everyone!


Monday: Subs
Tuesday:  Chicken Enchiladas, Rice and Beans
Wednesday: Pizza and Poison Concert!
Thursday: Italian Olive Pork Tenderloin, Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
Friday: Out for Fish
Saturday: Creamy Taco Mac and Salad
Sunday: Out for Chicken

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Slowcooker Shredded Beef and Pepperochini Sandwiches

Hello friends!  Happy Friday eve....

I have been so bad about blogging these days! Life has just been busy, but I have so many yummy things to share with you!

So what is new in my world?

1) I just returned from a trip from Disney with my family! I want to devote a post to out Disney experience, but if you follow me on Instagram (@ashleylecker) you probably saw all my fun adventures with my family. 

2) Rowan is 1! His birthday was a few days before Disney and I had a small family party, but am planning a little larger celebration for my boy when it gets a little warmer. 

3) We are starting to look into putting our house on the market. I love our house, but we are slowly getting too big for our space. 

4) I had a few recipes place 1st in Taste of Home recipe contests for my Grilled Ribeye with Blue Cheese Mustard Sauce and Baked Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo with Bacon.  Yay!

5) I still love Pure Barre....it is amazing. 

On to the food! This is a recipe that has a few different variation floating around, but this is my favorite way to eat this type of sandwich. I love slow cooking roasts for sandwiches because the meat is so tender and the peppers give a tang and slight bite to the sandwich.  I like to serve these on bolillo rolls- if you have not tried these hop to it! The roll is the perfect sandwich size and the bread is chewy and holds up to a saucy sandwich like this one.  I like a little provolone cheese on top, but a pepper jack would be delicious as well. 

This week I am getting ready to celebrate Easter with the family. I am doing the cooking at my parents and I am always excited to cook for them. I am planning: ham, scalloped potatoes, roasted asparagus, deviled eggs, rolls and a cheesecake!  We are also going to Ron's family's house and I know his mom will prepare a delicious ham and I am bringing a cheesecake as well. 

Have a great rest of the week!



Ingredients

3 lb beef roast (I use a chuck roast)
1 envelope Italian dressing seasoning
1 envelope au jus mix
1 jar (about 1 - 1 1/2 cups worth) sliced pepperochini peppers
1 tsp black pepper
Sandwich rolls (I like to use bolillio rolls
Sliced provolone cheese


Instructions

Place beef roast in the slowcooker and season with black pepper.  In a medium bowl, mix together italian packet, au jus, and peppers. Pour over beef roast.

Cook on low 8-9 hours. Shred roast and portion meat on the bolillo rolls. Top with cheese and enjoy! 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 3/19 - 3/25

Hi friends!

Long time no see.

Sorry about that. I had a few things that needed attending to and it took a lot of my energy. It is nothing bad (actually really good!), but I can't share yet but will in the near future (no we are not having another baby).

Speaking of babies. My baby is 1 on April 2nd. How in the world did that happen. I feel like he was just born and we just left the hospital. Time went by way too fast with this little man and I know I will be a mess when he turns 1.  

These two melt my heart.


This past Saturday, Ron and I had a date night at home. We grilled steaks and watched Hacksaw Ridge. Have you seen it yet? If you like history/WWII movies like we do you will enjoy it!

In other exciting news we are going to Disney soon! Our bands arrived and I am so excited. Mine is the yellow band ripped out of the case because I NEEDED to try it on right away. I think my sister and I are more excited for the trip than the children. I really want a Dole Whip...and a Mickey Waffle. And to go on the Haunted Mansion ride. 


While I am excited for our trip I am also preparing for the all out madness of over sugared and under-rested children. Maybe I can get some rum in my Dole Whip.....

I find myself getting upset days as I watch my county change under this President. Ron and I refuse to turn a blind eye because it is so upsetting. Such behavior is not our nature, but it has made us more aware of our own actions.  I believe that racism and ableism gain ground when we become complacent and believe that we are not part of the problem. The truth is we are all part of the problem and recognition of our own bias can allow for change. I have found that this can be a personal challenge, but Ron and I continue to try be more aware of our actions and voices.  I feel like the most impctful thing I can do is be aware, be informed, and speak out.  

This week I am doing a few Pure Barre classes (I am still so in love), playing volleyball, Kellen's school conferences, going to Beauty and the Beast with Kellen, and getting ready for my friend Emily's Belly to Baby Expo!

Do you have any fun plans??

Here is my plan for the week:

Sunday: Steaks, Loaded Cauliflower Casserole, Mushrooms, and Grilled Asparagus
Monday: Homemade Corned Beef Hash with Poached Eggs and Strawberries
Tuesday: Spicy Chorizo Chicken Casserole with Rice and Beans
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday:  French Onion Beef and Rice Casserole and Green Beans
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Out

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 2/13 - 2/19

Happy Valentine's Day!

Sorry for disappearing last week- things were a little hectic!

Last week was my birthday and I celebrated with pizza with my family and a relaxing day off. The previous day Kellen stayed home from school and I brought him to the Milwaukee Public Museum with my mom. He absolutely adored it and I was so happy to see him find so much enjoyment in one of my favorite museums.  

Later in the week I went to another Board and Brush class with a few girlfriends and had cocktails after. Here is my finished product- pretty good for being a bunch of lumber 3 hours earlier (The L is sparkly, but it's hard to tell in the photo). 


On Saturday afternoon we went to Disney on Ice to get in the mood for our Disney trip in April. The show was wonderful and Kellen loved the characters (and the cotton candy).


Sunday was spent relaxing and attending Pure Barre. They are doing a challenge called Love Your Body, and it is a team challenge. Go Team Tone! Ron and I also took the boys to the Wildlife Sanctuary to enjoy the unseasonably nice weather. Rowan loved it and had his eyes glued on the different things to see. 

This week is a bit busy, but filled with fun stuff. Last night Kellen and I got ready for his Valentine's party at school with cupcakes and Spider-man valentine's for his friends. Tonight, we are going to see the musical Annie with friends, and I am excited for Kellen to see it!

Have a great week everyone!

Monday: Beef and Rice Casserole and Green Beans
Tuesday: Heart Shaped Cheese Ravioli and Meat Sauce with Garlic Bread (Brownies for Dessert!)
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday: Chili
Friday: Thai Take Out
Saturday: Date Night!
Sunday: Birthday Party

Thursday, January 26, 2017

French Onion Chicken Casserole

Casseroles are going strong in my house and I wanted to share a new favorite inspired by one of my favorite soups.  I saw this recipe and decided that I needed to make my own version of the recipe for my family. This recipe is really easy and soooo delicious. I have been liking to use ground chicken in my casseroles, but if you prefer pieces of chicken that will work, but I recommend cooking it first.
I use it because I prefer the texture to large pieces in my casserole. Also, make sure to leave time to cook the onions, or cook them prior leaving even faster prep. The casserole is creamy, rich, cheesy, and topped with delicious flaky biscuits. This was a big winner in my house.

THis morning I am a little slow moving and tired! My sister and I participated in the Point in Time (PIT) street count last night from midnight until 2 am.   The  is required by Housing and Urban DEvelpoment (HUD) and it is a count of sheltered and unsheltered homeless persons on a single night in January. There is also another count done in summer. Our group did see anyone is our assigned area last night, but normally counts are higher in summer. Needless to say I am a little sleepy after going to bed at 3 am and getting up at 5 am....coffee for me this morning!

Tonight we are relaxing at home after 2 barre classes and PIT I need an early bed time!

Have a great day everyone!


Ingredients

2 large onion, thinly sliced
2 Tbl olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of onion soup
1/3 cup soup cream
1 can french cut green beans, drained
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 beef bouillon cubes, crushed
1 1/2 cups grated swiss cheese
8 flaky refrigerator biscuits, cut into quarters


Instructions

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and grease a 9x13 baking dish with cooking spray.

In a medium saute pan, heat olive oil over medium heat and add onions. Slowly cook till they become a caramel brown color. This will take about 15-20 minutes.

While onions are cooking, cook the ground chicken breaking is apart with a spoon. In a medium bowl, mix together soups, sour cream, green beans, black pepper, and crushed bouillon cubes.

Add caramelized onions to soup mixture and stir. Add the ground chicken and stir.  Layer into the baking dish and bake, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove from over and top with cheese. Next, evenly layer the quartered biscuits on the casserole. Return the casserole to the over and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until biscuits are cooked and begin to brown.

Remove from oven and serve.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 1/23 - 1/29

The weekend needs to be longer folks. 

This weekend was a lot of fun, inspirational, and ended with a disappointing Packer loss. 

Friday we relaxed at home and got take-out. Saturday I took a Pure Barre class, headed to Costco to use my new membership (finally), and headed to my friend Kayla's for children and adult play-dates. We made tacos and chatted while the kids ran around and played.  Prior to the play-date, Kellen and I spent a large part of the morning watching coverage of the Women's March from all over the world. I was not able to join the March, but my Mom went and we are so proud of her. Kellen had many questions and I was happy that he was so engaged with what he was watching. I am so happy to see so many women come together. Issues like equal pay, reproductive rights, education access, and family leave are big issues for me. I have been a member of AAUW since I graduated from college. I believe is activism and staying informed. I have already written to my 3 federal representatives on the imortance of the March and about the confirmation hearings- specifically the Secretary of Education and EPA.  Click here to find your representatives!

Om Sunday I did another Pure Barre class and then headed to the store for some grocery shopping before going to my parents house for the game. The game was horrible from start to finish, but overall the Packers had a great season and we are already looking forward to next season. I have to say that I am pretty sick of seeing the Patriots in the Superbowl......again. 

This week is pretty low key. I am doing a few Pure Barre classes and participating in a State-wide Point count to bring supplies to our homeless county residents who are not in a shelter. This weekend we actually have no plans! I am planning to see Hidden Figures on of the nights and get a bunch of laundry done! Have a great week everyone!

Monday: French Onion Chicken Casserole and Peas
Tuesday:  Chicken Tamale Casserole, Rice and Green Beans
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday: Chili
Friday: Out
Saturday: Crockpot Buffalo Chicken Tacos and Rice
Sunday:  Beef Stew Meatballs and Rolls

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Smoked Turkey Sausage, White Bean and Pesto Soup #SoupSwappers

The weekend is here along with a new group I am posting with: Soup Saturday Swappers. The group selects a theme and posts our recipe on the assigned date. I love soup so this was immediately something I wanted to try out! The theme for this month is: Healthy Soups. A perfect theme for the new year when everyone is being a little more health conscious. 

I was originally thinking of doing a light version of a cream based soup, but I opted for something a little different. We love pesto and I know it would be perfect along side a hearty white bean soup with a little turkey sausage and a sprinkle of feta cheese.  I know that sausage is not traditionally healthy, but I used a turkey variety to lighten things up. I also opted for a sprinkle of feta, but you could easily leave this off if you wanted to reduce calories a touch more. 

My family loved this and it was the perfect meal on one of our particularly ice cold nights. 

I love that this soup eats like a meal. Sometimes I struggle with the light veggie based soups because I find myself hungry shortly after eating them! That certainly is not a problem with this soup- crammed full of beans and turkey sausage in a flavorful pesto broth. 

This weekend Ron is off to play cards and the boys and I are having a get together with my friend Kayla and a taco bar! We are also really looking forward to the Packer game on Sunday! Green Bay started rallies and other types of events yesterday- Go Pack Go! 

Stick around for next month when we make get inspired by international recipes!


Ingredients

1 lb Smoke Turkey Sausage, halved and sliced
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 (15.8 oz) cans Great Northern Beans, rinsed
1/3 cup basil pesto 
4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
Crumbles Feta Cheese, optional


Instructions

In a medium soup pot, cook sausage and onion with olive oil over medium heat till onion becomes tender. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Add beans, pesto, and chicken broth. Bring to a low simmer and cook for about 15 minutes. Serve in bowls with a bit of feta on top if desired. 

Serves 4. 



Friday, January 20, 2017

One-Pot Cheesy Taco Barley Skillet #CIC

I have no participated in the Crazy Ingredient Challenge in what feels like forever! I missed it!

Theme of barley and salsa has my gears turning and I was excited to put together a dish to share.  Each month blogger participants vote to select two ingredients. Sometimes the selections are pretty tame and sometimes things get a bit crazy. Click the link to view past challenges!

This recipe is one of my favorites for a weeknight: one-pot. We love tacos in our house and I opted to make one of our favorites into a tasty one-pot using barley over a pasta or rice. I also used lean ground beef and black beans to create a perfect weeknight meal. Ron, Kellen, and I all loved this meal and it was so tasty for lunch leftovers the following day. We opted to top ours with a little sour cream (not pictured), sliced olives, and chopped tomatoes. 

Last night I co-hosted a fundraiser for my friend Amanda and it was so much fun. She raised some money and we all got to meet new people! Tonight we are home relaxing and unwinding from the week and gearing up for a Packer win on Sunday!

Happy Friday folks- check out the blog hop below for more salsa and barley creations!


Ingredients

1 1/4 lb lean ground beef
1/2 medium onion, diced
1 packet Taco seasoning
1 can black beans, rinseed 
1 small can diced green chilies
1 1/2 cups medium salsa (I used a thicker store bought variety) 
2 1/2 cups beef broth 
3/4 cup uncooked medium barley 
Salt, to taste
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Black olives
Chopped tomatoes


Instructions

Brown beef and onion until the beef is no longer pink. Add the taco seasoning and stir to coat. Add beans, chilies, salsa, broth, and barley. Simmer 30-40 min or until barley is tender; stirring every so often to prevent burning. Keep a little extra broth or water on hand in case you need to add extra. Season with salt if desired.

Top with cheese and allow it to melt. Top with desired taco toppings (example: sour cream, olives, and tomatoes).





Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Slowcooker Cheesy Potato and Smoked Sausage Soup #FantasticalFoodFight

Welcome to a new challenge I am participating in starting this month- Fantastical Food Fight!

Since the Secret Recipe Club ended I have been looking for a new challenge now that I am back in the kitchen more. This challenge is similar to the Crazy Cooking Challenge hosted by Tina of Crazy Cooking Mom back in 2012.  This challenge is hosted and organized by Sarah of Fantastical Sharing of Recipes  and I am excited to be part of it. I missed the opening month of December with a shortbread theme, but was excited by this month's theme: Slow Cooker Soups. 

You all know I love a good slow cooker meal and was excited to put a family friendly recipe together. I have been craving a good potato soup for awhile now and this was the perfect opportunity. This recipe is really easy and my family loved it. I kept is simple with prep and cooking. I opted to thicken mine slightly at the end, but you could skip this or make it thicker if you like a more chowder like soup. I put some notes in the instruction section if you are wanting to adjust a bit. 

This soup was perfect for the icy weather we have had this week and heats up perfectly for lunches the following day. I found the 6 hours was a good cooking time for this soup. I think you could go to 8, but I would worry you might have a little scalding of the soup. 

Today I am back at work after an impromptu  ice day with Rowan after his daycare was flooding-yikes! It's that lovely January weather.....

Enjoy the other slow cooker soups in the blog hop below- I can't wait to try some of these!


Ingredients

32 oz frozen cubes potatoes
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 smoked sausage,  halved and sliced (I use smoked turkey sausage)
1 cup milk
4 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup water
3 Tbl flour
Salt and pepper, to taste


Instructions

In a slow cooker, mix together potatoes, soup, onion, and cheese. Add the sausage and stir in the milk and broth.

Cooke 6 hours on low.  Whisk together water and flour till smooth and pour into the soup. Cover and cook an additional 20 minutes to allow the soup to thicken slightly. 

Note: You may add additional flour and water to make a larger amount of the slurry if you prefer a thick soup. This amount will be slightly thick, but still closer to a soup consistency than a chowder. 

Image may contain: text


Monday, January 16, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 1/16 - 1/22

Better late than never this week!

We had a really fun weekend which included my work holiday party, barre class, my niece's birthday party, and the Packer game!  My work party was nice and casual this year, and we went bowling. I am a horrible bowler and got 60 the first game followed by 90 the second.....sigh...

My niece's birthday was at Chucky Cheese and it was Kellen's first time there. He loved it, but it is not a place I will rush back to! It is so busy and way too many kids not being supervised.  I find Kellen's age the be a little challenging at places like this because he wants to be independent but can feel intimidated by the bigger kids. 

The Packer game was stressful with an awesome end! We are so excited to watch them play on Sunday!

This week I am doing a few barre classes and helping host a fundraiser for my friend Amanda. She is a State Representative and has been one of my best friends for years. My Mom is having a party at her house to give support, make some money, and meet new people. 

This week I am also really hoping to see the movie Hidden Figures. I have heard it is great and am excited to see it. I feel guilty not knowing more about this story and have been really a bit about the women and the program, and it is so interesting. 

We are having an ice storm in Green Bay and most of the schools are closed. Kellen goes to a Montessori school and it is open for the day- hope we make it in safe!

Have a great week!


Monday:  One-Pot Cheesy Taco Barley Skillet and Salad
Tuesday: Skillet Rice and Beans with Kielbasa and Peas
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday: Pizza for Boys- I will be at a fundraiser
Friday: French Onion Chicken Casserole
Saturday: Taco Night: Dinner with Friends
Sunday:  Packer Party! BBQ Pork Pulled Pork, Potato Salad, Deviled Eggs, Lil Smokies, Coleslaw, and Cupcakes

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Southwest Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

So school is closed today for Kellen and it reminds me of when I was a kids we would wish and wish for a snow (in this case ice) day, but as a adult it means the morning scramble unless you can stay home for the day as well. The joys of being a parent who works out of the home....

Today I am sharing a perfect cold weather meal, Southwest Chicken Spaghetti. This meal is really easy and my little guy loved it. The recipe is weeknight easy and can be made n advance only leaving you to top with the onion topping and get in the oven. I adjusted the amounts of some of the ingredients from the original and used ground chicken of pieces of chicken. Sometimes I do not like how chicken reheats and like the ground chicken in some casseroles. The crunchy onions are the cherry on top and I usually have to fight Ron and Kellen off before they eat them all off the top of the casserole- sneaky boys!

Did you watch Obama's address last night? It was really moving and makes me miss him already. He and his family are intelligent and classy.  It brought tears to my eyes because it reminded me what an honor it was to work for the House of Representatives during the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Thank you, Mr. President. 

Tonight I am hoping to get to Pure Barre as long as the ice stays away! Happy hump day folks!


Ingredients

1 lb thin spaghetti, uncooked
1 lb ground chicken 
2 (10.75-oz) can Cream of Chicken soup
1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 (10oz) can Rotel Diced Tomatoes with Green Chiles
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
1 (2.8oz) container French fried onions 


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain.

While pasta cooks, cook the ground chicken until completely cooked and no longer pink.

Mix together chicken, soup, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, Rotel tomatoes (undrained), 1/2 cup cheese. Add cooked pasta. Spread into prepared baking dish.

Top pasta with remaining cheese and French fried onions.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until bubbly.