Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Week Ahead

Ah....Sunday morning.  A bit of leisure, a bit of housecleaning and laundry, and a bit of planning (along with a run and hopefully a walk).

Last Thursday was the CSA box and a bounty of produce arrived, so I need to work on that a bit.  Yesterday I made the butternut squash and froze that for squash soup in a couple weeks; the produce is a bit overwhelming this time of year so getting some of it into a preserved state helps me feel better!!  We went to a party last night, and I made pico de gallo since there was a bag for salsa making in the box (roma tomatoes and various peppers).  There were also green and yellow bell peppers and a tomato and chard and lettuce and basil and parsley and cilantro and thyme and onions and potatoes and a cabbage.  I think there was even more, but I can't remember all of it!

I made a few meal plans and Paul ran to Sendiks on Friday night. shopping was done early this weekend.  I have a few plans for the week as far as food goes.  With the spaghetti dinners at least once a week I don't go through as many planned meals as I thought, so I still haven't made the stuffed manicotti from last week or the hearty burritos.  So, I have the ingredients for both that are canned or frozen, so those are a possibility for the week.  I'm also eyeing the Chicken Caesar Twist (hmm...if Paul grills brats today he could also grill the chicken for salad later in the week.....)on preventionrd and thinking about lentils with garlic and onions.  Paul's thinking about bratwurst since it was on sale when he was at the store (yes, there is some in our freezer).   Luisa is making kaisersmarrn for breakfast this morning, so I may have another new recipe.

Yesterday was the day of eating though, so we'll see how hungry we are today!  We went to one of our favorite places, Cafe Benelux.  My parents took us there for Eleanor's birthday and then we had a nice afternoon walking on Milwaukee's riverwalk and browsing in a few of the stores in the 3rd ward.  Then we went to a Badger/fall party and ate just a bit more.  Hmm....good thing I hit both body pump and zumba that morning.  And Paul had a bike ride and the girls had swim practice.

The dip I made in addition to the pico de gallo last night was fabulous too.  It's one of those recipes that you really don't want to know what is in it since it is best enjoyed when someone else makes it (think cheese and sausage and salty).  However, I had asked for the recipe after having it at the violin potluck so I made it for last night.  If you do know what's in it, it's best taken to a party,,,,where the salt and fat can be spread among many.  Yes, it was yummy!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Kung Pao Tacos...and I'm Back!

Kung Pao Taco

Guess that was a bit longer blog sabbatical than I had planned!  It's a bit of a change at this house with the full time work...and it impacts my prep time for meals.  We have still been eating well; however, I just haven't gotten around to trying too many new recipes.  And we're still getting the CSA box..that takes a bit of fun/work too.

I'm finding that it really is OK working more hours.  Sure, I really really miss the Wednesdays to catch up on things like grocery shopping, laundry, other errands, and the extra workout day.  But, I like the new work I'm doing.  The house is a bit messier on Friday nights now, but I'm finding it doesn't take too long to get it back to a tolerable level of chaos.  Now that Eleanor has her license and can drive places, I can get to body pump (and have been).  I love body pump, and I'm so happy to be back at it. I missed it, and I'm now realizing how string it helps me to be.    And, I find I'm often running with a head lamp rather than daylight.  But, it's all working.  Having a driver is really going to help things also.

I really do love Nicole's blog,, and often look to her blog for some recipe ideas.  I have been needing some new, healthy, and quick recipes.  That's what I found with this one; it's a good one.  All four of us decided that it's a keeper!  I made it just as the recipe states, but I added green and yellow peppers as well.

Sunday, September 23, 2012


BLT plus avocado.  A fine improvement on an already delicious dinner idea.
One of my favorite summer meals, and one I seem to forget about nearly every year only to be reminded somehow, is BLT.  A fresh grown tomato...nothing else tastes that good.  We have had an abundance of them this year from our CSA box and the kindness of friends.  Yum!

This is typical of the type of meal we have been eating since I have started my full time work adventure.  It's simple yet delicious:)'s the organizational idea from my friend and director of our department at work.  She makes bacon and keeps it in the freezer with bread.  She takes a fresh tomato and lettuce to work and assembles her lunch.  WOW...great idea, Patti!  She said that she is ready when she has a fresh tomato!

I'm enjoying the work and the challenge of learning pieces, and I'm glad that I made this decision.  I do miss having my Wednesdays off since it was so nice to have a bit of catch up time in the middle of the week. And... I'm finding it a bit hard to judge how much produce to purchase knowing I don't have that mid-week grocery store run.  A Wednesday morning 7:30 grocery store run has helped a bit.  I'm so glad to have a meeting starting at 8:00 at the office very close to my house.  I have been dropping the girls off at school at 7:30, running into the store, running home and stowing the items in the refrigerator and zipping in to my 8:00 meeting.  That's saved the week!

A bit of menu planning with quick options has been good.
This week we'll be having Elizabeth's hearty burritos, Elizabeth's stuffed manicotti, Grandma Fiorenza's soup,  crockpot chicken tacos and pizza on the grill.  A bit of prep today should make for a good week.  Paul's back in the country, and there's only one spaghetti dinner for my swimmers this week so it means a bit more food and a bit more planning for me.  It's the lunch items that are proving to be a bit tricky, so I'll have to see what is on sale this week.  We're going through fruit quickly with an extra person in the house.

The pizza on the grill is Eleanor's birthday request.  Along with some lava cakes.  That's a bit of work, so today (Sunday) will be the food celebration portion of her day.  I don't think I can manage all that on a weeknight AND watch the Packers on Monday night football.

Enough bloggin'...time to get some groceries purchased and pull it together for the week.  I'm heading to body pump this morning (I can feel my aching muscles already since I have been on a body pump sabbatical), then a walk with Elizabeth.  I think it's going to be a good week!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo

Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo
The link will take you to the original of this recipe; although my version was pretty close to the original.  This soup was good.  Not great, but perfectly fine for a night that ended up being late due to a swim meet.

Just checking in to see if anyone is missing my more frequent posts.  We still have been eating well...and exercising minus the strength training (plan to remedy that in the next few days though).  It's been a lot to adjust to this new fall schedule this year with an extra person in the house (who is delightful, BTW), and a full time job, and Paul's travel.  All is going well and we are still eating things, but I'm feeling like I have a few other priorities right now.  I'm still cooking, it's just that tried and true recipes are what is needed.
Greek chicken pita
spaghetti carbonara
Keeping it simple works for now.
So, don't mind my sporadic posts while I figure this out.  And check back when you can since I expect my blogging cycle will change again.
See you soon....hoping in the next week or so.


4 tsp. olive oil
8 oz. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into small chunks
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 c.)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1/2 c.)
2 medium carrot, diced (about 1c.)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
6 c. low-sodium chicken broth
1 c. orzo, preferably whole wheat
2 large eggs
3 TBSP fresh lemon juice


1. Heat 2 tsp. oil in a soup pot over medium-high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper, add it to the pot, and cook. Stir a few times until just cooked through, about five minutes. Transfer the chicken to a dish and set aside.

2. Add the remaining two teaspoons oil to the pot. Add the onion, celery, carrot, and thyme and cook until vegetables are tender, about five minutes.

3. Add five cups of broth and bring to a boil.

4. Add the orzo and let simmer until tender, about eight minutes. Turn the heat down to low to keep the soup hot but not boiling.

5. Warm the remaining one cup broth in a small saucepan until it is hot but not boiling.

6. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs. Gradually whisk in the lemon juice. Temper the egg mixture with warm broth, whisking the whole time.

7. Add egg mixture to the soup pot, stirring well until soup is thickened. Do not let the soup come to a boil.

8. Add the cooked chicken to the soup. 

Friday, September 14, 2012

Chicken Braised in Cider with Apples and Bacon

Chicken Braised in Cider with Apples and Bacon

4 T butter (used 2)
5 large apples, peeled and cored and each cut into 8 wedges
2 medium onions, cut into half rounds
2 t dried thyme
2 T dijon mustard
1/4 c brown sugar
1 1/2 c cider
2 boullion cubes
8 strips bacon, cut into 1" pieces ( omitted)
8 breasts (I didn't note if these should be whole or not, so I cut into bite size pieces)

Melt the butter and add apples, onions, and thyme until the apples begin to soften.
Add mustard, sugar and cider and stir to combine, melting the sugar.  Transfer to the slow cooker.  Add the boullion cubes, crushing them to dissolve.  Wipe out the skillet and cook the bacon, if using  until crisp and set it to drain on paper towels.   Brown the chicken and transfer to the slow cooker.  Cook on low for 4 hours or so.

This was from Slow Cooker: The Best Cookbook Ever

Hmm...the best?  Don't think so.  This recipe was OK, and by that I mean OK.  Not great.  Not making it again.....hmmm.  It seems like it should have been just a bit better than it was.

Sad dinner:(

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Sometimes You Need a New Plan

We have completed the first week of school at our house.  It was a busy one between my fairly new full-time position, Eleanor's activities, and an exchange student being part of our family this year.  I had planned ahead for meals since we were gone the weekend before the start of school and came home to activities that evening.  There wasn't even a minute to pause.  I had put together a menu plan before we had left for the weekend so I could quickly run to the grocery store while the girls were at swim practice.

The plan worked well.  The first day of school was followed by a swim meet, so I made a crockpot dinner before leaving the house in the morning.  Ah, good plan since we got home around 8:30 that night and everyone was hungry.  The next night I had planned for a soup.  Smart?  I thought so since it would be a fairly quick and healthy one pot meal.  But, wait!  it was a hot and humid day.  I decided to use many of those items and make sandwiches instead.  This ended up being met with rave reviews by both girls and requests to have sandwiches with all the vegetables again.

The panini maker came to the rescue....used it for grilling slices of eggplant, red pepper, and red onion.  Along with some slice sausage and grilled French bread and a bit of feta cheese....a great meal.  Everyone asked that we have this again.  It was basically the soup ingredients made into sandwiches:)

As we adjust in this household to our overall changes, I need to adapt to my new lack of blogging time.  Some of this is due to two teenagers needing to use our shared laptop for homework...and some of it is because I just have a few too many things going on at the moment.

I am happy to report that we are still eating (mostly) homecooked meals with fruits and vegetables.  I am still exercising (but haven't done body pump in a few weeks), bills have been paid on time, exchange student adapting, own child adjusting to the new school year, house is clean.  OK, so I haven't been a prolific blogger but I expect that will come in line as we go through this period.  Or I may blog less frequently.  Or all of the above.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Corn and Black Bean Salsa

This is one of those recipes/ideas that is never made the same way twice!  At least not by me.

A bit of corn, black beans, red onion, peppers, cilantro, tomatoes.  A dressing of lime juice and oil and a grind or two of sea salt.

I should have measured a bit to post the quantities today, but I was making this so quickly after a weekend away and needing a dish for a potluck just a few minutes after we returned home.

So, for today, there's an idea more than a recipe.  That's just how this crazy first week of school has gone!
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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Pork Satay

Pork Satay
This is a good recipe find from Nicole of preventionrd , as most of the recipes posted on her blog are.  I did not put much of the sauce on the meat as it cooked, instead it was served on the side.  Our exchange student is here, and I just wasn't sure if she would like it our not......I mean, you can always add something...

All four of us liked this, and I could have put the sauce on the meat, so now I know that for next time.  Of course, what's not to like about some heirloom tomatoes, fresh salad greens, grilled potatoes, cantaloupe AND the pork satay?  It was a great dinner eaten outside on a beautiful summer night.

It's a great time of year for the CSA box with gorgeous tomatoes, melons, baby greens, corn, peppers, onions, garlic, and more.  We planned to be out of town the weekend after receiving the box, so I needed to plan a bit and eat the items that possibly would not last.  That wasn't hard to do with things tasting this good!

Ah...the student.  She's great.  And I have a German cookbook as a gift, so we'll be trying things from that as the year progresses.

The girls have been busy and will get even busier as school begins and high school swimming gets well into the season.  This working full-time thing has been OK for a lot of reasons...including meal planning (this is a food blog after all).  It's all in keeping organized and in letting it go on the days/weeks that I am not, I think.

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Satay 
1 small onion, chopped
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/4 cup water
3 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp creamy peanut butter
1 Tbsp canola oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 (1 lb) pork tenderloin, partially frozen
In a small saucepan, bring the first eight ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 10-12 minutes or until thickened.
Cut pork in half widthwise; cut each half into thin strips (note: cutting the tenderloin into thin strips is easiest when meat is partially frozen). Thread pork strips onto eight metal or soaked wooden skewers. Grill, uncovered, over medium-hot heat for 2-3 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Serve with sauce.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake

Rosemary Olive Oil Cake Recipe
I love the herb and sweet combination.  Strawberry and basil gelato. Lemon and lavender squares.  So...chocolate and rosemary cake sounded delicious.  I made it for breakfast rather than a dessert since I am always looking for some new breakfast ideas.  And some blog post ideas.  I adapted it a bit from 101Cookbooks by Heidi, and she had adapted it as well.  Here's my version:

Dry ingredients
2 1/4 cups  all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Wet ingredients:
3 eggs
1 cup olive oil
3/4 cup skim milk
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped
5 ounces  chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
Preheat the oven to 350F. Rub a 9 1/2-inch fluted tart pan with olive oil.
Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl, pouring any bits of grain or other ingredients left in the sifter back into the bowl. Set aside.
In another large bowl, whisk the eggs thoroughly. Add the olive oil, milk and rosemary and whisk again. Using a spatula, fold the wet ingredients into the dry, gently mixing just until combined. Stir in 2/3 of the chocolate. Pour the batter into the pan, spreading it evenly and smoothing the top. Sprinkle with the remaining chocolate and run a fork along the length of the chocolate so that the batter envelops it just a bit.
Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the top is domed, golden brown, and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
The cake can be eaten warm or cool from the pan, or cooled, wrapped tightly in plastic, and kept for 2 days.
All three of us loved this...good mix of flavors!
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

Baked Chocolate Donuts

Baked Chocolate Donuts

What a treat!  I can just hear Bill Cosby talking about chocolate cake for breakfast since this is very chocolate cake-like! I was looking for something a bit fun for the last week of summer yet still be a fairly healthy way to start the day.  I needed to omit the nuts in the original recipe, so I ended up making it as outlined below:

  • 1 cup rolled oats, processed into flour
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 3 tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  •  one egg 

  1. Preheat to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a mini bundt pan.
  2. Put all ingredients in a bowl and mix well.
  3. Pour into pans.  Keep batter level below the center indent if you want them to look like donuts.  
  4. Bake for 12 to 14 minutes, until slightly firm. Let cool in pan and then turn over to pop out.

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Saturday, September 1, 2012

Pumpkin Lasagne

Pumpkin Lasagna
 A slightly different version of my post from 6/17/11 post.
Hmmm...this was OK but not awesome.
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