Saturday, June 30, 2012

Greek-ish Beer Can chicken

A quick search of beer can chicken on the web will provide more information than needed.  So, I won't detail the process here.  Basically, the chicken cooks from the inside due to the liquid as well as the outside, so it's a quick way to cook the entire bird on the grill.  The can doesn't need to be a beer can, and a soda can was used on this round.  And the liquid doesn't need to be beer.  This can had some lemon juice, water, rosemary, and garlic in it.

We do have the stand that makes this a bit easier and my advice is to get that.  It prevents a potential burn, so well worth the cost.  In fact, we bought two stands since making two chickens isn't twice as much work.  Although we didn't make two this time it does make sense to have more chicken in the freezer for quick meals.

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Friday, June 29, 2012

Apricot Rice Pudding Pops

Apricot Rice Pudding Pops from Bon Appetit

Lately I have been intrigued by different popsicle/pops/frozen treats on a stick.  I guess it was the heat spell we had that got me thinking about these confections; however, it was this recipe that really made me want to try it.  I had some molds from years ago but had struggled getting the pops out of these, so I bought some new ones to experiment.  There are quite a few recipes on the internet, so I think this will be a good project for Eleanor when I'm at work.  It seems like a tiny bit of effort for a big reward, in general.  Perhaps a bit easier than making cookies:)

Paging through my recent Bon Appetit I found these and was really intrigued.  A trip to the Asian grocery store was not in my immediate future, so I did something I usually do anyway.....adapt.  The adapted version was good, so now I'm excited to try the original.  I suspect that the original is that much better!

My version:
1-3/4 c plus 2 T combination of coconut milk  from a carton) and skim milk
1/4 c heavy cream
1 t ground ginger
1 t vanilla
3 T sushi rice
1/4 c sliced dried apricots
1/4 c sugar
Place rice and 1/2 c water in a small bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.  Drain and add to saucepan.  Add milk, coconut milk, cream, ginger, 1/4 c water, and vanilla in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover, and simmer until rice is very tender, 30 minutes or so.   The original directions state not to stir it...which was very hard to resist.  Let cool slightly and add sugar and apricots.  Pour into molds and freeze until beginning to set (30-45 minutes).  Insert a stick into each pop and freeze another hour or so.  

More fun experiments to come.
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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Grilled Sweet Potatoes

We're sweet potato fans.  But the only thing maybe a tiny bit better than sweet potatoes....sweet potatoes on the grill.  I parboiled some whole, cut them into wedges, brushed with olive oil mixed with lime juice and a bit of chili powder, and grilled.

The only problem with these is that I didn't make enough!  I made three huge potatoes and would make more next time since they were great leftovers.
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Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Crockpot Buffalo Chicken

I don't know how it is in other parts of the country/world.  But in the midwest...when someone dies or is sick..people bring food (and toilet paper).  When my mother in law died a few months ago, the Fargonians were put into action with keeping us well fed.   We received delicious caramel rolls, and every type of hot dish (this is North Dakota, so it's not a casserole) imaginable, and soup and desserts.  One of the things that was really memorable was this Buffalo chicken in a crockpot.  My in law's neighbors provided dinner one night and came with boxes of food.  What was so impressive about this meal is that they really thought of everyone.  Although one crockpot had this spicy chicken...another just had plain.  There was an egg free dessert for the allergic person along with another dessert for others.  It really was considerate.  Extra considerate.

This chicken was made by a former neighbor.  If you're tracking this, it was made by my husband's sister's former neighbor who is now a current neighbor of our nephew and family.  Just sayin'----that's how things work in North Dakota!

It seemed like it would be more complicated than this.  But it's just...make shredded chicken and add wing sauce. I put a bit of water in the crockpot with the chicken breasts.  Once cooked the meat was drained, shredded, mixed with some wing sauce and frozen celery I found in the bottom of the freezer and put back in the slowcooker.  It was a 2 day event at this house.  The original did not have the celery, but I'm trying to empty the freezer in anticipation of vegetable overload this summer. 

Yum...a bit of bleu cheese and some shredded cabbage really took this to the next level!
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Strawberry Shortcake

Fresh Strawberries.....time for shortcake!  I have used a number of different recipes for shortcake over the years...but have found that Eleanor's famous biscuit recipe adapts well and is one of our favorites. 
Baking Powder Biscuit Shortcake:
2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 t salt
1/4 c sugar
6 T butter
about 3/4 c milk
Preheat oven to 45o degrees. 
Mix together the dry ingredients.  Using a pastry blender mix in butter until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in enough milk until it makes a soft dough.  Knead dough on a lightly floured surface.  Cut with a glass for rounds shape and place on silpat.
Bake 8-10 minutes, until browned.

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Shrimp and Vegetable Pasta

This one is from The New Basics Cookbook....Shrimp and Vegetable Pasta...
adapted, of course.

This is the recipe that prompted my grandma to bring a can of spam and a couple slices of white bread to my house.  She just didn't understand how we could eat all those............vegetables!  As I mentioned in my post about her soup (BTW: her soup is delicious....posted Nov 28, 2010), it is a bit difficult to argue the vegetable benefits with a healthy 90 year old.

Be that as it may, I like vegetables.  And I like this pasta recipe.  When we were eating Eleanor asked why she doesn't remember having this before since it's so good.  I suspect that the long ingredient list is part of the reason....but most likely I just forgot about this.  The recipe adapts well to whatever vegetables are on hand...and is colorful.  My thought is that the fresh dill is a must.  After that...substitute away!  I made half the recipe in the link and used cooked shrimp (I will tell you why in the next paragraph),  It came together quickly (despite the long ingredient list) and was a great dinner for a warm summer night. 

My plan was to make this without the shrimp since fish tacos were on the menu the same week.  After Paul was home and called me as I was leaving work he inquired about dinner.  I mentioned that I was making this without the shrimp(in hopes he would start dicing the peppers).  I guess that was disturbing to him(either the lack of shrimp or doing the work of dicing the peppers), so he ran to Sendik's to get a bit of cooked shrimp from the deli.  He's been on a bit of a protein bend lately, so he was glad to do it for that reason as well.  The cooked shrimp made this dish come together really quickly.  And I will was really really good with the shrimp.
before the pasta is added

1 lb shrimp,peeled & deveined
1yellow peppers, 1/4" dice
1 red peppers, 1/4" dice
1/4c chopped fresh dill
1 t dried tarragon
1tb chopped chive
dash dried red pepper flakes
couple grinds salt and couple grinds pepper
1/4c  lemon juice
1/3 c olive oil
1 1/2c frozen peas
8 oz pasta

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Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sugar Cookies

I love how recipes tell me a bit of a story and/or bring back a memory.  Like this one makes me think of when my job required me to go to various clinics to meet with the physicians.  Although I do that occasionally now, it's not my daily job I miss some of the people...and I miss the physician who gave me this recipe.  She got the recipe from one of her patients and sent me a copy of the recipe her patient wrote.  For quite a few years we called these "Old Lady Cookies" at my house in honor of the woman with the slightly shaky writing.  There's an adorable note on the bottom of the recipe "make them smaller so you have less crumbs when making these for small children"!

The recipe makes a humongous batch so it's often the cookie recipe I use to take to swim meets or a practice treat.  In fact, some of the coaches who don't normally eat sweets will even eat a couple of these.  I think it's just because the taste reminds one of grandma's house:)

Last week we were invited to a cycling party.  No, not a party where we were actually cycling...but a party to watch racing.  The event takes place in Wisconsin and is called the TOAD.  Tour of America's Dairyland.  Anyway, it was a party with a note to bring ourselves and cash for a prime (which is even mentioned in the summary of Day 1), but I just couldn't go empty handed.  We spent quite a bit of time thinking about a perfect host/hostess gift with a cycling theme; however, we ended up thinking cookies won't collect dust on a shelf or clash with anyone's decor.

Ah...cycling.  One of my favorite spectator sports.  We are fortunate to have a couple cycling tours come through the area each summer, and my understanding it that it is due to Tom Schuler.  I'm anxious to read a book detailing the cycling migration to the US.  The man of fame mentioned above even stopped at the party we attended (which was an awesome party with good company, a plethora of fit and interesting people, and The Super Slider Truck).   There's another tour coming through after the TOAD, so more cycling fun is in store for the summer.  We had offered to house a couple of the TOAD cyclists but someone else was able to house all 4, and we couldn't do that many, so we lost that bid.  I was sad it didn't work since it would have been fun to get to know some of the cyclists a bit more.  I'm thinking that there may be another opportunity....

Sugar Cookies
1 c each...powdered sugar, granulated sugar, butter (softened), oil
2 eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 t salt
1 t cream of tartar (don't reach for the tarragon in the early morning.  The letters t-a-r can be deceiving)
1 t vanilla
4 1/2 c flour

Cream the first five ingredients together (through the eggs). Add the rest of the ingredients.  Chill dough overnight.
Form small balls (recommend 1 level tsp)
Roll in sugar and flatten with the back of the spoon
Bake 6 minutes at 375 degrees.

They are fragile so let them cook a couple minutes before removing from baking sheet.

Watching the high level of sports is getting me really psyched for the Olympics.  I love the Olympics!  We're so excited watching friends at swim trials.  And one of the triathletes is a Milwaukee gal doing some of her swim training with our kids, so it is VERY cool for Eleanor to know an Olympian so well.  In fact, she was the one who asked us about hosting the TOAD riders.  Her boyfriend was one of the racers and stopped at the party we attended. That's how Milwaukee rolls...".it's a small world" should be our city motto.
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Friday, June 22, 2012

Cinnamon Roll Muffins

Naked cinnamon muffins

Cinnamon Roll Muffins 
Saw these on foodbuzz and thought it would be a good idea to have another breakfast trick since it's nice to be able to start the day with something tasty for breakfast.  It's a good plan to have an arsenal of breakfast recipes to be prepared for the question, "what's for breakfast?".   And something like this usually covers Eleanor for a snack or two during the morning depending on her hunger level since there are some things she devours the entire batch in one meal!  Any recipe that ends with these words..."Have fun, lick your fingers, be happy" sounds like a winner to me;  check out the link for the original version.  Other than a few small modifications my version wasn't too different from the one from Une Gamine dans la Cuisine. 

Cinnamon Roll Muffins
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/3 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

1 cup milk with 1 T lemon added (to simulate buttermilk)
1 egg, lightly beaten
zest from 1 lemon
1/2 cup tightly packed, brown sugar (light or dark)
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
3 cups flour (extra for dusting)


1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/4+ tsp. ground cinnamon
1-2 T. milk

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Butter or spray a standard 12-cup muffin tin.
Prepare the filling: In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar and cinnamon; Set aside.
Prepare the dough: In a separate small bowl, lightly beat together the buttermilk and egg; Set aside. In a large mixing bowl, combine the orange zest, brown sugar, baking soda, and vanilla. Whisk to combine. Add the milk/egg mixture and, using a fork, mix everything together. Add the flour and gently mix all the ingredients together with a large wooden spoon or rubber spatula. [Try not to over-mix.]
Place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead for a good minute. Grab the rolling pin and roll the dough out into a 12 x 24-inch rectangle.
Use a pastry brush to coat the entire surface with the melted butter. Sprinkle with the brown sugar/cinnamon mixture, and gently press it into the dough. [Not too hard, just enough to make it adhere to the butter.]
Starting on the longest side, begin rolling the dough into a tight log, stretching slightly as you roll. If the ends are scraggly, cut them off with a sharp knife. Cut the log into two equal pieces, and cut each of those pieces in half. (You'll be left with 4 logs of dough.) Cut each log into 3 equal pieces (12 all together). Place each one into the prepared pan. Bake for 13-15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow the muffins to rest in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Cool completley before adding the drizzle.

Drizzle: In a small mixing bowl, combine the confectioners' sugar, cinnamon, and milk. Mix until well-combined and smooth. If it looks too thick, add a little more cream until it thins out enough to glaze. Dip a large fork or small whisk into the glaze and allow it to fall onto the muffins. Make zig-zag patterns it you like, or simply smear each muffin. 

Drizzled muffins

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Breakfast Quinoa

Another stop on my breakfast train.  I had this idea in the context of protein.  As in...getting more protein into the diet of a pint size swimmer in this house.  In general I'm not too concerned about protein requirements...generally thinking that we get plenty in our diet; however, Paul was talking to our cyclist/runner/neighbor/swim mom/doctor friend and they ended up chatting about protein.  She is an accomplished athlete, has two daughters who are competitive swimmers at the college level....and her husband is an Ironman.  And he isn't just a participate and finish the event kind of guy...he's a real competitor in the event.  Now that I have listed her's a bit more obvious why I listen when she mentions protein needs for a young competitive athlete!

It was a good project for Eleanor to add her protein intake for a few days.  And a nice assignment for the beginning of summer.  We have decided that generally she does get enough; however, with the summer schedule of extra workouts an increase is in order.

Although quinoa makes a frequent appearance in savory dishes in this house, the idea of a sweet quinoa seemed an additional way to increase the protein while disguised as a carb-y food:)

Quinoa needs to be rinsed or a bitter taste may remain.  

Cook 1 c quinoa in 2 c milk.
Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon.
Serve with fresh berries.
Simple and delicious!
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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Chicken Satay

 Chicken Satay
Peanut Dipping Sauce.  Hmmm...excellent dipping sauce choice at Cafe Hollander to go with the sweet potatoes frites.  Yep, that was my pick when eating there late last week.  First of all, I would like to say that frying potatoes...whether sweet or regular, calling them frites, and serving them in a paper cone is absolutely brilliant!  I mean, it hardly seems like an unhealthy food if you frame it that way.  That order at Hollander was the inspiration for this meal.

I made the chicken satay fairly close to the recipe in the link above.  The peanut sauce had mixed reviews online, so I started by making it as the recipe stated and thought it needed a  A tiny bit of tamarind sauce seemed to do the trick.

Sweet potatoes were parboiled until barely tender.  Then cut into wedges and brushed with a lime juice and olive oil mixture.  Sprinkled with chili powder and grilled.  They were fabulous:)

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Spicy Sesame Soy Rice Noodles

I saw this on one of my favorite food blogs and wanted to make it some evening soon.  The opportunity was there the other night...and I was even able to use some edamame already in the freezer.  The author of that blog is cleaning out her stockpiles of food in preparation for a move; I am cleaning mine in preparation for summer harvest.  Just seems like a good idea to get to the bottom of that freezer (and the back of the pantry) every so often.  At times I will do the pantry cleanse...but it's a bit more controlled this time.  Just thinking that it will be nice to have room for vegetable storage....

The garden is growing a bit.  At least it's growing enough for me to have my chives and my cilantro in this dish.  Something (besides us) has been eating away at the parsley, so I have to harvest a bit of it to be sure we get some.  My parsley plants were gifts from a friend who has moved, so I need to keep them alive so there's just a tiny bit of her left in Wisconsin.  Cilantro always seems a bit on the wimpy side when I try to grow it; although I do dedicate a small bit of space to it.

I'm not a huge gardener but enjoy my tiny (very tiny) bit of fresh ingredients right from my yard.  The arugula looks great as do the onions.  We'll see what else come our way.

 Recipe is from
It was adapted very very slightly by me. 

Spicy Sesame-Soy Rice Noodles with Tofu and Edamame
1 package extra firm tofu, cut into cubes
 I drained mine a bit and pressed it to remove excess water.  I placed it in a colander with a plate on top and a jug of vinegar on the plate.  I did this for an hour or so.  That helps to hold it together a bit more in the cubes.
 8 oz dry Pad Thai rice noodles
1 T olive oil
1 T toasted sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup low-sodium vegetable broth
3 T soy sauce
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 1/2 cups shelled, frozen edamame (unsalted)
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
chives, chopped

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Line a baking sheet with parchment and mist with olive oil. Arrange tofu on baking sheet, misting with olive oil to coat. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly browned.
Meanwhile, bring a small pot of water to boil. Add the rice noodles and cook for 6-8 minutes, until al dente. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.
Heat the olive and sesame oil in a large saute pan or wok over medium-high heat. Add the garlic; saute 1-2 minutes Add the noodles and toss for just a few seconds.
Add the soy sauce, broth, and red pepper flakes and toss. Stir in the tofu, edamame, cilantro and chives. Serve hot with rooster sauce for some extra heat.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

TJs Arugula Ravioli

 Trader Joe's Arugua and Parmegiano Reggiano Ravioli
 A pretty good ready to make food find.  The strange thing I need to report is that the package instructions state that the package should be opened at least 4 minutes before adding to the boiling water.  Hmm...who knew ravioli needed to breathe?  Just like a bottle of fine wine, I guess.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

White Chicken Lasagna

White Chicken Lasagna adapted from: One Ordinary Day

Recipe:  White Chicken Lasagna

lasagna noodles  (I used no-bake noodles – about one box.)
2 T. butter
1 onion, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 c. flour
2 c. chicken broth
2 c. nonfat milk 
2 c. Italian blend cheese, divided  
1/4 c. shredded  Parmesan cheese
1 tsp. basil
1 tsp. oregano
1 c. part-skim ricotta cheese
1 1/2 c. cooked and shredded chicken ( I used grilled )
1 small box frozen spinach, thawed and drained; liquid squeezed out
1 small box frozen butternut squash puree, thawed

Melt butter in a large saucepot.  Add onions and garlic and cook over medium heat until translucent.  Add flour, salt, and pepper.  Cook flour mixture 1-2 minutes.  Add chicken broth and milk.  Bring to a boil; cook and stir 1 minute.  Turn off heat and add 1 cup mozzarella cheese.  Stir in dried spices.

Lightly spray a 9×13″ baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Ladle some cheese sauce onto the bottom to thinly cover.  Add a layer of lasagna noodles.  Layer with more cheese sauce, the chicken, and the ricotta cheese.  Add another layer of pasta.  Top with cheese sauce, and spinach.  Add another layer of pasta.  Top with cheese sauce.  Using a spoon, spread the butternut squash puree over the cheese sauce.  Top with remaining 1 c. mozzarella cheese.  Add final layer of lasagna.  Top with remaining cheese sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and continue to cook until bubbly.  If cheese doesn’t brown on top, turn on the broiler for the last couple minutes.  Allow lasagna to sit about 15 minutes before serving for easier slicing.

My recipe significantly decreased the cheese called for in the original (or more original) recipe.  We liked not ever having the really cheesy version....I would say it's a good idea to decrease the fat.   In addition to learning that it is good even with decreased cheese, I learned that squash can be purchased in the frozen vegetable section.  Honestly, I never knew that!  It's probably because I end up with quite a bit in my freezer during squash season.  That's a good thing to know since it may serve as part of a back up plan at some point.

Those grilled chicken breasts sure come in handy since that added some nice flavor to this dish.  It's a great plan to have a few of those frozen for recipes such as this. 

The blog linked above has a gorgeous picture of this lasagna. Although it would be delicious with a salad, I admit that this is all we had for dinner that night.  Paul was skeptical about this but converted to a fan after one bite.

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Saturday, June 16, 2012

Sauteed Brussels Sprouts on Baguette

Sauteed Sprouts 
This recipe called to me:)

We love Brussels Sprouts...and also love baguette, so the combination seemed like it would be a winner.  It was, even without the tomato.  I used baguette (as I mentioned), so the topping and vegetables used just about an entire loaf. 
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Friday, June 15, 2012

Strawberry Fro Yo

 Fro-yo without an ice cream maker

Skim milk yogurt (home-made, of course) was a fine substitute for the whole milk in this recipe.  This was great...even made without an ice cream maker. I just used the technique of pouring the mixture in a pan and putting it in the freezer stirring it every 30 minutes or so for 3 times. 

We had an ice cream maker long ago (maybe a wedding present?) and the canister no longer got cold enough to freeze the mixture, so we tossed it.  I think it would be a fun thing to have, but I can go with this method for this summer.  I think I just discovered a great summer dessert! 

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Thursday, June 14, 2012

Grilled Chicken Panini

I bought the value package of chicken at our Sendik's store and decided to pound the breasts flat and grill them.  This is a great idea...highly recommend doing some of that type of work ahead preparation.  We did that while the grill was going for another meal.  I chopped one of the breasts to use in a lasagne, froze some of them for salad, and used a few in this sandwich idea.

This sandwich had garlic mayonnaise (made just how it sounds....recommended by Kelly, the sandwich queen), grilled chicken breasts, fresh mozzarella (sliced) and a few basil leaves from the garden.  All this was grilled on the panini press.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Pork Tenderolin on the Grill

Pork tenderolin marinated in soy sauce, agave nectar, freshly squeezed lime juice with some chopped ginger.  Then it was grilled.  Served with roasted broccoli and roasted potatoes.  Ah....summer.  It really doesn't get much better than this!
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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Bacon, Fig, and Goat Cheese Sandwiches

We're just starting a good season for sandwiches.  I love putting a few fresh ingredients into a sandwich, throwing it on the panini press, and having a quick dinner.  It's just one more thing to love about summer.  So, I thought I would get a start on the summer sandwich season by trolling the internet.  Good idea...I found an idea for a sandwich with bacon, goat cheese, and dates. I had dried figs, so I used those (sliced). 

Mmmm...with some roasted carrots, potato chips, and fresh berries.

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Tofu Pudding for Breakfast

Remember all that tofu I bought at the Asian Market?  Well, the last package had a looming expiration date which I noticed after I planned my weekly menu.  I remembered making tofu pudding for Eleanor when she was a toddler...and thought it would be a fun way to use that last package.

In a blender combine:
1 t vanilla
4 T or so cocoa powder
2 T sugar (or more to taste)
milk to the desired consistency

Refrigerate and top with fruit.
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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Cheesy Serrano Stuffed Chicken

Cheesy Jalapeno Stuffed Chicken by

This just sounded good to me...and it was.  Maybe it was the grapefruit margaritas...but I think it was this chicken too.  

Cheesy Stuffed Chicken
  • 2 slices center cut bacon, cooked and crumbled
  • 1 serrano pepper, chopped
  • 3 oz  cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 c shredded cheddar jack
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 3large chicken breasts pounded to 1/4" thick
  • 1/2 cup Italian seasoned whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 juicy limes, juice of
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  •  non-stick spray
Place chicken cutlets on a working surface and spread 1/3 of cream cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one, secure the ends with toothpicks to prevent the cheese from oozing out.

Place breadcrumbs in a bowl; in a second bowl combine olive oil, lime juice, salt and pepper.

Dip chicken in lime-oil mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down on a baking dish. Repeat with the remaining chicken.Place in a lightly sprayed pan and bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes or so (until the chicken is done).
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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Grapefruit Margarita

I was looking for something to go with the jalapeno stuffed chicken breasts.  Something besides broccoli.  Something to drink.  Hmm......milk juice water margarita!  Yep, that's what this Friday night needs....a margarita.  Lucky for me I had recently come across this recipe in the latimes. I cam across this recipe while cruising cyberspace looking for some fun new menu ideas.  This won't work for a dinner...but will work quite well as an addition to the evening!

I was dreaming of a warm Friday night when planning the menu.  However, as Wisconsin spring weather often is, a day later found a cold wind coming off the lake, so that doesn't make for a fun evening outside for those of us along the shore. Since I had the ingredients for both the margarita and the stuffed jalapeno popper chicken breasts, I decided to go with it for dinner. Nice way to end the week and start the weekend!

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Friday, June 8, 2012

Artisan Bread in a Crockpot sister climbed Half Dome at Yosemite the other weekend.  And I made artisan bread in a crockpot.  It's nice that we sisters can share our accomplishments.

This was posted on Artisan Bread in 5.  I liked the conversation starter of making bread in the crockpot, but I didn't see much of an advantage otherwise since the time is similar to making it in the oven.  I guess I could make it at my desk and eat some fresh baked bread at work.  Talk about a conversation starter!  The more I read it seems like the advantage is breadmaking in the summertime when it's less likely to seem like a good idea to heat up the kitchen with the oven.  OK, I can buy that.  But, for now, I just made this in the crockpot to talk about doing it.

We all have our accomplishments....running a marathon....walking a block.....climbing Half Dome....making bread in a crockpot.....
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Thursday, June 7, 2012

Lattice Crusted Rhubarb Strawberry Pie

I used Elizabeth's recipe from her blog post last May but decided to try the lattice crust.  I remember asking my mom to make a lattice crust when I was a kid, but she never did; I suspect that seemed a bit too fussy for her to weave a crust with young children running around. I have always skipped that part also...just seemed a bit of work to me; however, I did want to try it.  At least once.  Here it is:

I love how it looks...and it didn't take too long.  There is the "cheat" method where the strips aren't woven.  Heck, if I'm making lattice crust I'm going whole hog!  It was well worth the effort when Paul and Eleanor admired it!

If you have read my posts in the past, I have often talked about rhubarb.  I do have memories of pulling out a stalk and munching it down when I was a kid.  Kinda strange?  We also ate chives from the garden. Hide and seek was an especially fun game since snacks could be found right next to the hiding spot if you were strategic about it. Anyway, my coworker offered some of her rhubarb, and I took enough to make Elizabeth's pie.  One pie of it will be enough for us, I suspect.

Wednesdays off are a nice time for me to get a mid week breather.  I imagine I will go back to work full-time at some point, but I hope I remember how nice it is to have a Wednesday off and take one off periodically.  It's such a treat to catch up on some things mid-week.  And there is the bonus of working 2 days, being off, and working 2 days.   My friend Linda taught me to not always think of days off as part of a weekend but instead think of them as an entirely separate issue.  A good idea!  So, this is what I made on a late spring/early summer Wednesday. 

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Taco Night

I think it's fun (really fun) to look at an entire meal in Bon Appetit and make the entire thing.  I was dreaming about that with the June 2012 issue on Tacos! Taco! Tacos! Like the author of this article, I was raised on tacos in a entire kit for making tacos.  It was one of my favorite meals and was a bit unusual for a dinner in the midwest in the 1970s. Most of my grade school friends hadn't even experienced that level of international cuisine, so it was considered quite exotic.  I attributed it to time spent in California by my parents.  However, by the latter part of that decade it seemed to be a bit more common to have tacos on the table.  How that has evolved!

I didn't have the time to make the entire meal for a taco bar at this time, but I am going to hold that thought for the future.  It sounds great to make a number of fillings, a few salsas, and a variety of agua frescas to wash it down.  Maybe this summer we can have this party:)

For now, I made the vegetarian filling (to Paul's dismay) but sweetened the pot for him a bit by supplementing with pickled onions and really spicy salsa.  Really, what's the deal?  His comment was, "tacos without meat?".  We had meat the night before, so I don't think he'll wither away...even with all the bicycling he's been doing lately.  He even had a lot of compliments for the chef after eating these!

Rajas Poblanas
Grilled pork tenderloin was the meal the night before, so I had the peppers roasted and ready before the night I was serving this.  It's nice to plan ahead a bit when the grill is going so it can help prep a number of other meals.  I like to have peppers roasted and often grill some vegetables for panini sandwiches or chicken to freeze and pull out as a topper for a main course salad.   It just makes making these tacos a bit easier by having the peppers roasted....and having things come together in minutes rather than hours.  Good plan for a weeknight dinner!

I made it fairly close to the original but substituted some of my home made yogurt for the sour cream. 
roasted poblano peppers
It's fortunate for me that Sendik's carries the poblano peppers and that they looked good this time of year.  Typically that requires a trip to the southside of Milwaukee to a Mexican grocery store.  Generally they are a bit cheaper at El Rey grocery store, but saving the trip outside of my village border was a good idea this time.  That also meant that the cheese was feta instead of something more authentic like queso fresco.

Pickled Red Onions
This was my bonus item in trying to sell Paul on the meatless thing.  Couldn't be any easier! I was able to throw this together on a Sunday morning and have them sit until we made this meal.
pickled red onions

Toasted Guajillo Salsa
Another weekend project to assemble this and have it ready for a quick weeknight dinner.  I have no idea what kind of dried peppers I used.  We has some from the garden last year that we weren't going to be able to use, so we dried them in the oven and stored them in the pantry.  This was the variety pack of peppers that I pulled out to make this as outlined in the link. It's nice to have those cleared out of the pantry before getting more peppers this summer.
Home-grown dried peppers
roasted garlic
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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Chocolate Chip Caramel Bars

Chocolate Chip Salted Caramel Cookie Bars 
This recipe is from Two Peas and Their Pod...treasure trove of recipes:)

Some days are made for meandering my way through cyberspace....blogs linking to blogs....Ahem, this is why I need to work.  It's just so interesting to look through these.  Remember encyclopedias?  It's a bit like looking something up and finding many other interesting things on the way to the destination.  Anyway, I found this recipe and knew it had to be made, so Eleanor and I worked on it together on a recent Sunday afternoon.  We had driven down the lakefront to try to get ice cream at one of our favorite spots; however, it was a gorgeous day and not a parking place to be found.  We should have taken bicycles as we usually do...but we didn't.  We still wanted something sweet, so making these seemed like a good idea.   The plan was to make them for an end of the year violin party, so all the ingredients were already in the house.  We can always go to the store again and make them for the violin party as well.  Yea...sure...we wouldn't want to try a new recipe without tasting it, right?

These were so sweet our teeth hurt after just a bite or two.  I think it passed the taste test and can be made for a violin party! 
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Monday, June 4, 2012

Sweet Lavender Scones

I love the smell of lavender.  It reminds me of the French exchange student we had a few summers ago....and of California.....

A few years ago I found a shortbread recipe that included culinary lavender cookies were good; but were really more of an experiment than every day cooking, so I have had the jarof dried flowers for a bit.  I thought these sounded like the perfect morning  treat.  Ah....but a cup of tea, a scone, homemade lemon curd, and a quiet moment.

I made the scones fairly close to the original recipe substituting home made yogurt thinned with a bit of milk for the buttermilk.  I did not garnish them with the sugar.  

Sounds like a good way for my day to begin!  Begin means after a swim meet and watching cyclists on the UPAF ride come past my house.  Some times I will be asked about living on a busy street, and I can't speak for all busy streets...but living on one with a constant parade of runners, walkers, and cyclists is energizing!  It was just one of those days with a lot of day since it started early!

This recipe is a keeper! And days in the mid 70s and sunny are keepers too:)
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Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chickpea and Avocado Salad

 From Two Peas and a Pod....Chickpea and Avocado Salad
I found this as often happens when reading blogs.  One blog leads to another...and another...and another.  Pretty soon a couple hours have passed.  This is a good recipe; even though mine was a bit light on the avocado since I had a large can of chick peas.  It was still good though and will be made more frequently at this house.  Eleanor thought it would be a good dip for tortilla chips as well as a sandwich filling. 

Following the link above takes you to the more original version but the condensed version is this:
chick peas
juice of one lime
Mix and mash all of the above together and serve.
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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quinoa Salad

I often end up with odds and ends of things, so it's good to combine them into a new dish.  That's what happened with this salad recipe.
Quinoa Salad
Cook 2 cups quinoa in 4 cups water. 
After it is cooked add:
handful chopped peas, in the pod
2 bell peppers, chopped
1/2 red onion (mine had been roasted on the grill)
handful of golden raisins
3 apricots, chopped
leftover cooked chicken
sprinkle with salt and pepper and olive oil...and drizzle with raspberry vinegar
goat cheese(didn't use it for the photo above...but did for some of the days at work

There was not a recipe for this at all...just trying to use up bits of things in the refrigerator without it seeming like leftovers.   I ate this for lunch a number of days at work and found it filling.  Interesting that I had picked up a couple packages of quinoa...then read in Bon Appetit that it's the "in" food.  That's me...a trendsetter!
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Friday, June 1, 2012


Sometimes you just need to use the things you have.  I created this out of odds and ends in the refrigerator.  Spinach (as my friend Kelly says...fresh spinach makes every sandwich just a bit better), cheddar cheese, ham, and sliced apple.  All this on a tortilla to make a quesadilla.  It worked so well I made this for two separate meals.
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