Friday, May 31, 2013

Kale, Feta, and Craisin Pasta

Two Peas and Their Pod
Here's a blog link to one I stop in and visit every now and then.  It's just a good place to stop and get a few ideas....especially if I need a dessert recipe.  Don't get me wrong, there are some good dinner ideas as well, it's just that they bake a bit more than I do. 

This recipe just appealed to me as a great easy weeknight meal.  As anyone who knows us will attest, we're huge pasta fans.  And then add something like good-for-you kale, and salty feta, and sweetness of craisins, and all the pretty colors.  Yep, that one is sold on all of us.  I just may have found my go to recipe when the kale starts to get slightly out of control this summer.

It was looking so good that I forgot to take a picture of it.  but, it seems a shame to have you go on another day without trying this, so I'll post this now and refer you to the link above for the recipe and a picture.  When I make this again, and I will make this again, I hope to get pictures. 

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Sweet Potatoes with Pulled Pork

Sweet Potatoes with Crockpot Pulled Pork

Wowie.  Zowie.  This looked fabulous when I saw it on Nicole's blog (like how I refer to her like I know her?),  I'm going to tell you all the reasons that this sounded fab to me:
1.  Crockpot
2.  Barbecue Sauce
3.  Sweet Potatoes
4.  Eleanor will like it because the barbecue sauce is not mixed with the meat.
5.  Paul will like it because it involves beer.
6.  Eleanor will like it because it has sweet potatoes
7.  Crockpot
8.  Crockpot
9.  Crockpot

As many people know, spring was slow to arrive in Wisconsin this year.  That meant a bit more crockpot meals than usual; and this is a good one.  The tricky part of this one is having it on a night that I have time to bake the sweet potatoes before dinner, but I found just the night a couple weeks ago.  

Slow Cooker Beer Pulled Pork-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes – pork adapted from Bake Your Day, potatoes from The Novice Chef
5 lb center cut, boneless pork loin roast, trimmed (4 lb after trimming)
12 oz of your favorite beer
1 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tsp liquid smoke
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp cumin
4 medium sweet potatoes
3/4 cup BBQ sauce
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, sear the trimmed roast on each side, 2-4 minutes or until slightly golden; remove to crock pot.
To the crock pot, add the pork, beer, soy sauce, liquid smoke, shallots, garlic, onion, pepper, and cumin; rotate meat to coat.
Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours.
Remove pork from crockpot and drain.  Shred meat and place back in the crockpot.  I served it like this with the bbq sauce on the side and a bit of cheddar cheese.  Eleanor's tomato aversion includes bbq sauce, so that's why I kept it separate
Pierce potatoes with a fork and wrap in foil.  Bake at 350 degrees for about 60 minutes or so, until fork tender.  

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream

We love Jeni's ice cream book.  It's one of those books I checked out of the library, and that convinced me to put it on my wish list.  Lucky person that I am, my parents sent it to me.  So, I got a fun surprise in the mail and now own this.  That could be a little dangerous.....but we're trying to limit ourselves to once a week for the ice cream maker.  
This had some good salty and sweet flavors along with creamy and just that hint of cayenne to make it spicy...without being really spicy hot.  Just a nice additional flavor to go along with the others.
So many hard to choose favorites. 

Bangkok Peanut Ice Cream
1 1/4 C whole milk
1 T plus 1 t of cornstarch 
1 1/2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 C natural peanut butter 
1/2 t natural fine sea salt
1 1/4 C heavy cream
3/4 C unsweetened coconut milk (not light)
2/3 C sugar
1 T light corn syrup 
2 T honey
1/2 C unsweetened shredded coconut, toasted
1/8 t cayenne

In a medium bowl, cream peanut butter and cream cheese and salt together and set aside.
Toast you coconut, being careful not to burn it. I prefer to put mine in the toaster oven for about 2 minutes, on toast.
Take 2 tablespoons of the milk and mix the corn or tap starch and milk together, and set aside.
Combine the milk, cream, coconut milk, sugar, honey, tapioca syrup, and ginger over medium high heat until it comes to a rolling boil, about 4 minutes.
Once it comes to a boil, take it off the heat and add the milk/starch slurry. Return to medium high heat, for abut 1 minute, until slightly thickened.
Remove the ginger (of added) and slowly whisk the hot milk mixture into the peanut butter mix, until smooth.
Add the cayenne pepper and toasted shredded coconut, and chill over night.
When its thoroughly chilled, freeze according to you ice cream makers instructions. It will be soft, so freeze for 2-3 hours before serving.
* The recipe is perfect! It tastes just like the real thing. The texture is smooth and creamy and professional tasting!

Monday, May 27, 2013

Passion Tea Lemonade

Passion Tea Lemonade, a recipe found by Eleanor and recommended that I make it; however, she found recipes calling for additional sugar or a simple syrup.  We just made some Tazo passion tea and some lemonade and mixed them...about half of each.  I have never had the Starbuck's version (and I don't think she has either), but we're pretty pleased with this version.

So glad that it's finally warmed up around here so we can enjoy things like this!

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad (preventionrd version)

Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Salad (half baked harvest version)

Two versions of this delicious salad before I even give you my version.  It's funny...I saw this on Nicole's blog from preventionrd but went to the original to print it.  I ended up making my version much closer to preventionrd's.  Basically, we both increased the vegetables and decreased the oil just a bit.  I rate this really high and thought it was fabulous.  

I made a batch and took it to work for lunches....I was in a good mood all morning thinking about this...and it didn't disappoint.  It had the great Buffalo chicken flavor but none of the mess of wings and the good health benefits of quinoa and vegetables.  I really think I could sell bowls and bowls of this stuff.  It's just that good.  

Tieghan, from halfbakedharvest, really figured out a good one in this recipe.  I'm excited to look around her blog a bit more since anything even close to this would have to rank pretty high on my list. 
  • 1 cup quinoa (I used red quinoa)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 grilled boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 1 cup shredded cabbage
  • 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, plus more for garnish
  • chives, to tast
  • Dressing
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup wing sauce (I recommend Franks)
  1. In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse quinoa well and drain. In a medium pot, combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil, then cover and turn heat to low. Cook until all the water is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat, fluff the quinoa with a fork.
  2. Heat a medium size skillet over medium high heat Add a drizzle of olive oil and saute the broccoli for about 5 minutes. You want it to just start to soften, but still be crisp. Remove from the pan and set aside. 
  3. When the quinoa is ready add the chicken, broccoli, carrots, shredded cabbage and as much of the dressing as desired (I ended up using all of the dressing, but we like things extra saucy) toss well. Add the blue cheese and chives. Toss again and serve warm with extra blue cheese crumbles and green onions.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Chicken Ranch Pizza

Chicken Ranch Pizza from seededatthe table

Paul wasn't too thrilled about this pizza since it didn't have tomato sauce, but I think I won him over on the bacon.  It was a great dinner...and came together fairly quickly since we had grilled two extra chicken breasts on the weekend.  That's my tip for easy meals during the week....the grilled chicken breasts can be used in different ways and it sure cuts down on the cooking time during the week.

I used one chicken breast for the Buffalo chicken quinoa salad recipe which I will post a bit later.  The other one was used for this pizza.

Seededatthetable's author, Nikki, really did a great job with this recipe; however, I had a few adaptations (shocking, I know) which are listed below.  

  • pizza dough 
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing (1/4 c sour cream and 1/4 c mayonnaise mixed with 1 t sliced chives, 1 t dillweed, 1/2 t garlic salt)
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar cheese
  • 1 grilled chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 4 slices bacon, cooked crisp, crumbled
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced small
  • 2 T sliced chives
Place pizza stone in the lower third of the oven. Heat the oven and stone to 500 degrees for at least 30 minutes. Shape the pizza crust dough and transfer to a pizza peel or sheet of parchment paper dusted with semolina or cornmeal.
Evenly spread the ranch dressing over the pizza crust, leaving a 1-inch border for the outer crust. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese, then layer the chicken, bacon, tomatoes and green onions. Top with the cheddar cheese.
Slide the pizza onto the hot stone. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Buckeye State Ice Cram

Buckeye State Ice Cream
I have never been to Jeni's ice cream stores and have never tried it when I have seen it at the grocery store.  Likely I won't try it due to the nut contamination I sure am enjoying the recipes at home.  This was one of our more recent tries....and will probably be repeated at some point in this house.  It was a tiny bit too sweet for us, especially when topped with some of the chocolate bombe topping (like Magic Shell or Dairy Queen's dipped cones), so I think the next time I will probably decrease the corn syrup by half and maybe be a little bit short when measuring the sugar.

This ice cream was like eating a peanut butter cup....very tasty:)

The chocolate bombe topping  (not pictured...stay tuned for another day)...who knew this stuff is so easy to make?  Just melted chocolate and coconut oil.  A fabulous addition to all these ice creams I'm trying.  

Buckeye State Ice Cream from Jeni's Splendid Ice Cream at Home
2 cups whole milk
1 TB plus 1 tsp cornstarch
1-1/2 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter
1-1/4 cups heavy cream
2/3 cups sugar
2 TB light corn syrup
2 TB honey
4 oz. chocolate (55% to 70%) chopped

1. Fill a large bowl with ice water, set aside. Mix 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Whisk the cream cheese, peanut butter, and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. 
3. Combine remaining milk, cream, sugar, corn syrup, and honey in a large sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil of medium-high heat. Boil for 4 minutes. (Keep a watchful eye on it to make sure it doesn’t boil over the sides of the pan) Remove from heat and gradually whisk in cornstarch slurry.
4. Place pan back on burner and bring the mixture back to a boil and cook, stirring with a spatula until slightly thickened – about 1 minute. Remove pan from heat (again).
5. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the peanut butter mixture until smooth. Keep whisking… Once it’s smooth pour the mixture into a 1-gallon freezer bag and submerge in the ice water. Let sit until it’s chilled, at least 30 minutes.
6. Pour ice cream base into the frozen canister and being spinning.
7. While the ice cream is spinning, drizzle a bit of the chocolate bombe or plain melted chocolate through the opening at the tip of the ice cream maker. 
8. Pour ice cream into a storage container and freeze for at least 4 hours, until firm.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cumin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

Cumin Spiced Pumpkin Seeds

These were one part, one fabulous part, of a great dinner.  I made the pumpkin seeds in the morning and was requested to make another batch.  In fact, I made two batches with the pumpkin seeds on hand being the limiting ingredient.  Eleanor loved these so much that she went to the store and got even more so she could have them in her lunch the next day.  I guess the sour lime and the sugar make for some good flavors.

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • Kosher salt
  • Heat the oil in the pan.  Add the pumpkin seeds and shake until mostly brown, about 4 minutes.
  • Add cumin (I used ground instead of seeds since that's what I had) and sugar and lime juice.
  • Stir.  Remove to cool on a pan and sprinkle with salt.  Let cool on a pan and break into pieces. 

  • Friday, May 17, 2013

    Marga-tini, Cilantro Style

    Paul and I teamed up to create (or recreate) this fabulous beverage.  We went to the Harley Davidson museum last weekend and then stopped in the restaurant for a drink and an appetizer...just because it was such a beautiful Sunday. Harleys have been a Milwaukee product for 110 years.  Yep, 110 years.  It's a classic Milwaukee thing...and one of my favorite memories was Eleanor and her friends at the 100th selling lemonade as the bikers rode up and down our street.  It was a having a parade nearly 24 hours a day.  The kids would stand out-side and wave to the bikers.  And the lemonade stand was fun with bikers from all over the world (yes, world) stopping at this lemonade stand and to chat a bit.  They also sold blueberries for 1 cent each and these little girls would count them out for the Harley dudes.  The entire Milwaukee area was quite a party that weekend with,"Welcome Home" signs for the bikes.   Ah...great memories.

    I have to admit that I haven't been at the museum before since I'm just not that into motorcycles; however, I enjoyed the historical perspective and how the company has adapted over the years.  The location is beautiful and makes me regret not having seen this before this month.  The restaurant where I had the inspiration for this drink is a beautiful setting...nice architecture, river-side setting, and the cilantro-rita drink.  I'm sold.  

    But making these at home seemed like a fun challenge.  I love to try something and then work to re-create it.  This one, while maybe not exact, pleases me with the final product.  

     I ordered this and knew that a re-creation was in order.  The only thing I saw on the menu was the ingredients...and I really don't know if I got those right; however, this was our creation.  

    Simple syrup:
    1 c water
    1 c syrup
    5 sprigs cilantro
    Bring to a boil and boil until clear.  Let cool to room temperature and remove cilantro.  Refrigerate syrup until ready to use.

    3 oz vodka
    1-1/2 oz lime juice (taken from a mixture that is 1/4 c sugar and 1/3 c lime juice)
    1 -1/2 oz simple syrup
    Cilantro and ice in martini shaker with the above, pour into glasses.  Serves 2. 
    The picture is without lime garnish and red pepper flakes...that's Paul's recommendation for next time.  And there will be a next time.  

    Wednesday, May 15, 2013

    Red Quinoa Salad

    Red Quinoa Salad......great flavors from a recipe off the Trader Joe's red quinoa bag.  I have to admit that I feel a bit torn about using quinoa since reading about the devastation the harvesting of it for Americans is's just that I really do like it so I think I will have to invest in the  fair trade option. 

    Now that I have cleared my conscince about eating red quinoa I can talk about this recipe.  It really wasn't anything amazing or unusual or special...yet the end result was really good. 

    The original result had some grape tomatoes which I omitted and called for cilantro dressing.  I prefer a lighter dressing so the other flavors come through, so I made it as outlined below:

    1 c red quiona, rinsed
    2 c chicken broth

    Cook until the quinoa is done and the broth is absorbed.  Remove from heat and let cool.  Fluff with a fork and add about 1 T olive oil.

    2 c corn
    1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
    juice of 2 limes
    1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
    1 avocado, diced

    Roast corn in a skillet until it is cooked and add to the quinoa. 
    Add the other ingredients, stir, and serve.

    I think this would also be good with mango or feta or red pepper.  It's just a good all around idea for something pretty nice to have in the refrigerator.  And now with a fair trade option I can feel even better about eating this.

    Monday, May 13, 2013

    Mango Cilanto Guacamole

    Two Peas and Their Pod Mango Cilantro Guacamole

    Hmmmm...can you ever have too many recipes like this?  Can you ever have too many mangoes?  or too many avocados?  Sometimes I think that I probably wasn't meant to live in the midwest.  I probably should have lived somewhere with greater food choices for more months of the somewhere with a grove of fruit trees nearby.  A gal can dream, can't she?

    But then, we see the arrival of spring and I am so appreciative of the warmth and the sunshine.  And I really do like winter.....just maybe not the length of it at times.  Until I live somewhere with a lemon grove and some avocado trees, I'll have to get my fix with recipes like this. 

    Since it lacks tomatoes, Eleanor is a fan of this kind of guacamole also...guess that means I will need to make more next time. 

    1 avocado, insides mashed with a fork
    2 T chopped red onion
    juice from 1 lime
    1/4 c cilantro
    1 mango, chopped

    Stir all together and serve with tortilla chips. 

    Saturday, May 11, 2013

    Main Dish Cole Slaw

    Asian Chicken And Cabbage Salad
    I love everything about this recipe....lots of healthy vegetables and some Asian flavors.  I liked the description in Bon Appetit....kind of a detox from vacation and heavy eating salad...light flavors work great.  The authors in the magazine call it Redemption salad.  Well, whatever you want to call it, it makes a great quick and healthy dinner.

    I made it on on warm spring day and we all loved it.  I made it fairly close to the original recipe; however, I took the shortcut of using already shredded cabbage from the grocery store as a time saver.  Gee, add that and rotisserie chicken and making the dressing in the morning and it was a dinner that came together in just a few minutes.

    1 chile, chopped, with some seeds
    1/3 c vegetable oil
    1/4 c lime juice
    2 T soy sauce
    2 t brown sugar
    1 t fish sauce
    1 t grated and peeled ginger
    5 c shredded cabbage
    2 medium carrots, shredded
    handful chives
    2 c rotisserie chicken, shredded
    1 c baby spinach, thinly sliced
    1/3 c chopped fresh cilantro
    1/4 c chopped dry roasted peanuts
    1 t sesame seeds

    Whisk chile, oil, lime juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, fish sauce, and ginger in a bowl.  In a large bowl add cabbage, carrots, chives, chicken, spinach, and cilantro.  Toss with the dressing.  Top with peanuts and sesame seeds. 

    Friday, May 10, 2013

    Salty Caramel Ice Cream

    Salty Caramel Ice Cream Recipe

    I have to admit that I'm a bit intrigued about the Jeni's ice cream craze.  I mean, hooray for Jeni for making some interesting flavors and having a cult-like following.  Unfortunately for us, the manufacturing for the product doesn't work well for an allergy family.  Although, if we're looking at this in a positive light, maybe that's a blessing since it's a bit expensive and not so good for the waistline. 

    That being said, I'm pretty darn happy to have an ice cream maker and the ability to replicate some of her flavors.  I love the combination of sweet and salty, so I thought that trying her Salty Caramel flavor sounded like a fun challenge.  I still have some Sicilian salt from my parents' vacation last year, so it seems like a perfect place to use 1/2 teaspoon of this.  Making caramel is not my forte, so it seemed like this would be a good challenge on that front as well. 

    I have to say, this was a fun Sunday project for me.  It dirtied nearly every bowl in the house (um...slight exaggeration) and required reading through the directions thoroughly.  That being said, it came together fairly quickly.  

    Rave reviews to this recipe all around.  It was going to be hard to beat the key lime gelato....this one is right up there on the homemade sweet treat scale as well. 

    I love the blog, the bittenword and the link takes you to the recipe.  I made it just as it states in their blog.  And if you have a few minutes, wander around that blog a sure is a fun place to stop.  

    Wednesday, May 8, 2013

    Key Lime Gelato

    Key Lime Gelato

    I'm a little worried now about having this ice cream maker in the house....freshly made ice cream is just so darn good! And freshly made gelato rocks as well.  

    We're huge fans of lime having fresh lime juice squeezed into water or on tacos just makes everything a bit better.  And now....we can add lime gelato to the list of yummy lime treats.  

    We were having a spring-like day for the first really really nice day of the season since spring has been slow to arrive this year.  I made the base early in the day and then added the lime zest and juice after going to the grocery store in the early evening.  Some friends stopped in as the gelato was churning.  I think that the only thing better than fresh key lime gelato is getting to share key lime gelato with friends.  It was a bit of a celebration as the children in the group had played at state solo ensemble that day.  A great way to toast a job well done!

    I made this pretty close to the original.....why mess with a good thing?  I used 3 cups milk total but 2 1/2 was whole milk and the other 1/2 was cream.  

    Plain Base

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup sugar

  • In a heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the milk and cream. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring occasionally so a skin doesn't form, until tiny bubbles start to form around the edges and the mixture reaches a temperature of 170°F.
    Meanwhile, in a medium heat-proof bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth. Gradually whisk in the sugar until it is well incorporated and the mixture is thick and pale yellow. Temper the egg yolks by very slowly pouring in the hot milk mixture while whisking continuously. Return the custard to the saucepan and place over low heat. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon, until the custard is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon and it reaches a temperature of 185°F. Do not bring to a boil.
    Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a clean bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring every 5 minutes or so.  Once completely cooled, cover and refrigerate until very cold  (the original says at least 4 hours; however, mine chilled for 2 hours or so).


  • Plain Base
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, preferably Key lime
  • 2 teaspoons grated lime zest
  • 3/4 cup crushed graham crackers (see Note), frozen

  • Make the Plain Base and chill as directed.
    Gently whisk the lime juice and zest into the base. Pour the mixture into the container of an ice cream machine and churn according to the manufacturer's instructions. Just after churning quickly stir in the graham cracker crumbs. Transfer to an airtight container and freeze for at least 2 hours before serving.

    Of the two things I have made in my brand spankin' new ice cream maker, this one is my favorite.  Next up is Jen'ls salty caramel, so we'll see if this one can hold its place.

    Tuesday, May 7, 2013

    Cucumber Infused Water

    Infused water....seriously good stuff as I have raved about it before.  A slight bit of flavor just makes all the difference when trying to increase water intake. 

    A different version is made every time I try.

    This one had some:

    Nice and cooling for a warm day which was full of running and being outside and enjoying the sunshine.  At last.....fabulously appreciated:)

    Saturday, May 4, 2013

    Crockpot Potato Salad

    Potato Salad

    Don't put away the crockpot yet!  I was thinking that as we usher in spring we can forget about hearty stews and the crockpot; however, the crockpot does have some summer value as well.  That is, make potato salad without heating the kitchen.

    As I have mentioned, our slow spring really is arriving in the upper midwest.  And with our great appreciation for warmth and sunshine comes our craving for summer-ish foods.  Like grilled salmon.  And potato salad.  I figured it would be a good time to put the crockpot to spring use by trying out this recipe.

    Potato just kind of says summer doesn't it?  I recognize that potato salad can be a bit of a personal statement.  My friend, Jean, shared her mom's potato salad with us...and let me assure you that it's top notch.  Likely there is not a recipe since her mom is a farm woman...but it's got some vinegary flavors that are unique.  I crave it at times and Eleanor has begged Jean to bring just a tiny bit back after Jean visits her mom in rural Wisconsin.

    Paul had two roommates when I met him.  And they were two opposites for sure.  In fact, one of them said that they only agreed on three things.
    1.  The Graduate was a good movie.
    2.  Ingrown toenails hurt.
    3.  Potato salad should be creamy.

    Here's my response.....Agree on #1.  Don't know on #2.  Disagree on #3.  I think there's room for all types of potato salad in the potato salad repertoire.  While I was making this I was hoping for a bit of the vinegary goodness, because that just may be my poato salad rule. 

    Wednesday, May 1, 2013

    Agua de Jamaica

    This picture...well, the computer may need to be turned.  I have tried to adjust it on my phone and I have tried on the computer but am not having any success.  

    Sometimes I just get a craving for this....hibiscus flavor with a touch of lime.  Hibiscus flowers are one item that's not stocked at my little grocery store, so it's something I need to stock up on when I'm at the Mexican grocery store.  I'm glad that I can at least get some Tazo passion tea when the craving hits.  

    Monday, April 29, 2013

    Crockpot Pork Tacos

    Pork and Pineapple Tacos

    As I have mentioned quite a bit in the last few weeks....we have the winter that won't go away in the midwest.  In Milwaukee we no longer have snow but it's been cold and the spring flowers aren't here yet.  We're ready...and midwesterners are a hardy bunch and will be an appreciative group of people once warm weather finally arrives.  I'm OK with the delayed warm weather this year because warm weather means that our exchange student will return to Germany:(

    Keep the crockpot going since it isn't grilling weather yet!

    • 3 lb. boneless pork roast 
    • 1 (20 oz) can crushed pineapple, drained
    • 1 (16 oz) jar tomatillo salsa (green salsa or salsa verde)
    • 1 (4 oz) can green chiles
    • 2 poblano peppers, chopped
    • tortillas
    • toppings for tacos: queso fresco, chopped cilantro, lime wedges, more green salsa (We used sour cream, salsa and a sliced poblano)
    1. Combine all ingredients in the crock pot and cook on high for four hours or on low for 6 to eight hours.
    2. Shred pork, season to taste with salt and pepper. In a colander, drain juices from crock pot.
    3. Mix shredded pork with pineapple/salsa mixture that remains in colander and serve in tortillas with desired accompaniments. 

    Saturday, April 27, 2013

    Thai Chicken Wrap

    Even though I struggle with lunches, sometimes I come up with a good idea.  And sometimes I'm the only person who thinks it is a great idea:)

    When we grill (usually on a weekend) we like to make a few extra items.  So, we made some chicken breasts for these yummy wraps.  It's a good way to get a few vegetables in our bodies at lunch....carrots, red peppers and baby greens with a few pieces of chicken breast.  Then I put some Thai peanut sauce on it and wrapped it.  I brought a while wrap to work thinking I could eat half each's just too good to wait so I ate the whole thing (it was a very large tortilla).

    I felt a bit bad about myself eating it...until I talked to our department director who said that she had stopped at Wendy's that day to get a wrap or flatbread type thing...she got fries with that and a diet soda instead of the milk she ordered.  And the fries....never were on her order...but it was a rainy cold day and she had warm fries next to her.  I think we all know how that turned out!

    Anyway, she did make me feel a bit better about eating the whole wrap.  I'm sure that I'll get to return the favor at some point!

    I have found a great lunch idea...easy...healthy...and really really good.

    Friday, April 26, 2013

    Infused Water

    The infused water craze hits our house!  We're big fans of hydrating...with all the workouts that happen with this house as the base it's a good idea to stay hydrated.  The struggle is that plain water is a bit....ahem....boring.  A few years ago we stayed at the Renaissance in Mission Viejo (on hotel points, of course) and that was our first experience with different infused waters.  We had dabbled with a few kinds at home...but now that the craze has hit the midwest, we're really into always having a pitcher of some type of water infusion in the refrigerator.

    Now that my sister lives so close to that area we won't be staying at that hotel, so good thing infused water is everywhere!  In fact, Eleanor has noted that it is offered at college campuses.

    We've found it's a great way to increase our water intake and use up fruit if it looks like it won't make it into us otherwise.

    Ingredients?  Amounts?  The great thing is that just about anything goes.

    Extra problem
    Oranges...slice one and throw it in
    Last strawberry in the container....slice it and add it to the mix

    Throw some water and ice in the pitcher to cover the fruit and let it develop for a few hours or overnight.

    There are a ton of websites with ideas on good combinationsand some give approximate amounts.
    Fruit Infused Water Ideas

    Wednesday, April 24, 2013

    Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

    Beef Stroganoff

    Not sure why I was cruising cyber-space the other day when I came across this recipe and it just sounded good.  As followers of this blog know, I'm not a huge beef eater.  But, it does sound good to me every now and then...and this is a crockpot recipe...and we are having the winter that seems like it will never end.  Why not have this?  Secretly I had hoped that planning a hearty meal like this would usher in know, just to prove my meal planning wrong:)

    This was a nice hearty dish and needed minimal work on the end of the day.  Note my mish-mash of noodles...just using up some odds and ends from the pantry.

    Monday, April 22, 2013

    Balsamic Strawberry Pizza

    Strawberry Balsamic Pizza

    Not sure how I ran across this recipe, but I thought it sounded fabulous, with a few modifications, of course.
    We were grilling on Sunday....just wishing for springtime in Wisconsin and I thought we should grill a few extra chicken breasts to have on hand.  I knew I would be using a couple for this.  We were also grilling a few sausage samples from a European sausage shop in Milwaukee.  We're avid watchers of Wisconsin Foodie on PBS...and this was a featured location a couple episodes back.  So glad that we finally made it to
    the place.  It's one of the things I love about Milwaukee...easy to hit this place, a Mexican grocery store, and Asian grocery store, and an Italian grocery store in a morning.

    Back to the pizza....
    The link above will take you to the original version of this; but I made so many variations I'll need to outline them below.
    I made my thin crust...the no rise kind; however, I made it before work and let it rise (and probably fall) all day.  Easy to form into a pizza shape when I got home from work.
    The original recipe called for strawberry jam....just a bit too sweet for me, so I didn't use that.
    In addition to making the crust in the morning I fried 3 strips of bacon and kept that in the refrigerator for easy assembly.  I really can't do more than that after a long day at work.  And a long day it we were leaving my co-worker told me to have a good weekend.  Yep, it felt like 5 days' worth of work in one.

    Pizza crust
    Top with mozzarella cheese (about 1/2 c)
    sliced chicken breasts (2)
    bacon pieces
    cut strawberries (3)
    sprinkle with balsamic vinegar (about 2 teaspoons)
    Top with Parmesan cheese

    After it came out of the oven I topped it with arugula.
    Great flavors and textures.......this will be made again!

    Friday, April 19, 2013

    Pho Noodle Bowl

    What's not to like about this recipe?  Lots of fresh ingredients make up this great dinner.
    Paul and I went to a fairly new Vietnamese restaurant a couple weeks ago and enjoyed the noodle bowl.  For sure it was something I wanted to recreate at home, so we tried it the other night.  I roughly doubled the ingredients in the recipe I found...and it was a bit too saucy.  I probably should have used a bit more restraint when I poured the sauce over the vegetables.  Anyway, this was fresh tasting and will be made again in this house.

    My next adventure at the restaurant will be #42 since the diner at the table next to us had that and it looked fabulous.  I asked what it was....he told me #42 and he confirmed it was yummy!

    Pho Hay Tuyet
    That's the restaurant near my house.

    Vermicelli Noodle Bowl

    Follow the link to get to the recipe; I made it exactly as listed...just a double batch!

    Wednesday, April 17, 2013

    Lemon Chicken soup

    Ah....lunches.  I haven't talked about my struggle in getting those together in a bit.  I do struggle...and even a bit more with needing to make one more lunch this school year at the same time I don't have as many leftovers.  It's a pretty good trade-off....we get our exchange daughter instead of the extra food!

    However, that has meant a few more sandwiches for lunch since that works well.  However, Eleanor isn't a huge sandwich fan, so I made soup the other morning.  This recipe was quick and made the perfect amount for two days'worth of lunches for the girls and one lunch for me.  In fact, it was so good that I'm going to do the same thing this next week since I still have some of the fresh dill left.

    Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 onion, chopped
    • 1 celery stalk, sliced crosswise 1/2-inch thick
    • handful baby carrots
    • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
    • 6 cups low-sodium chicken broth
    •  freshly ground pepper
    • 1/2 cup tiny pasta
    • 1/4 cup chopped fresh dill
    • Lemon halves (for serving)


    • Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft, 5-8 minutes. Add chicken and broth; season with  pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until chicken is cooked through, 15-20 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate. Let cool, then shred chicken into bite-size pieces.
    • Meanwhile, return broth to a boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, 8-10 minutes.
    • Remove pot from heat. Stir in chicken and dill. Serve with lemon halves for squeezing over.

    Monday, April 15, 2013

    Black Beans and Rice

    Black Beans and Rice

    What can go wrong with this?  Black beans, rice, feta cheese.  I really liked the idea of adding ginger to the mix.....not something I would put with the more Mexican cuisine flavors; however, it worked.  And it worked well.

    The red peppers would have been nice from a color standpoint....but flavor-wise this was a good and quick dinner.  Thanks, Bon Appetit!

    Sunday, April 14, 2013

    Red Quinoa Salad

    Red Quinoa Salad

    I found this recipe while browsing for a quinoa recipe.  I have to admit that I'm feeling a bit torn about using quinoa since reading about how devastating it is for Bolivia to have all of us eating it; I'm referring to this NYT article.  Yikes.....just when you think that you're doing something good.  I mean, a plant based food....should be better for the planet.  It's a "good for your body food".  I think I'm helping some farmer in a 3rd world country.  I feel so unaware since I hadn't thought about the price increase for the people of Bolivia when I eat this grain.  So, now it's with a bit of guilt that I share this recipe.

    I made this, and I made chicken soup just to have a couple items for lunches this week since I have been a bit lazy and relied on the sandwich a bit more than I had in the past.  I was pretty well stocked with granola from last weekend, so I didn't make any more.  That's my usual weekend duty....make sure I have a few of these types of things for filler for the week.  I am a meal planner, in general, since it makes the week go much smoother.  Here's my list of meals for the week:

    Pho Noodle Bowl
    Crockpot Beef Stroganoff
    Crockpot Pork Tacos
    Chicken Wraps
    Vegetable Paninis
    Vegetable Curry

    Warmer weather doesn't seem to be on its way to Milwaukee this year.  For sure not this week, so the crockpot meals are still sounding good.  Soon we'll have spring greens and fresh local items....

    Also, this weekend I have a craving for hibiscus infusion water.  That's probably from being at XOCO a couple weeks ago!  My plan is to get to the southside of Milwaukee for some good Mexican cooking ingredients.  It's been a pretty laid back weekend for us with a bit of yoga, running, cello, gym-time, violin, homework, cleaning, and organizing.  Club swimming resumes Monday, so it's back the usual level of entropy around here!

    Red Quinoa Salad

    1. 2 teaspoons paprika
    2. 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    3. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
    4. 1 teaspoon ground ginger
    5. 1 teaspoon ground coriander
    6. 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    7. 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
    8. 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
    9. Freshly ground black pepper
    10. 4 large carrots, thinly sliced lengthwise
    11. 1  onion, thinly sliced
    12. 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
    13. 1 cup red quinoa
    14. 2 cups water
    15. 1 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    16. 5 ounces mixed salad greens
    17. 1/2 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
    18. 1/2 cup dried cranberries
    19. 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

    1. Preheat the oven to 400°. In a small bowl, whisk the paprika with the turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon, cayenne, cardamom and 1 teaspoon each of black pepper. In a medium bowl, toss the carrots with the onion and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Add 1 tablespoon of the spice mix and toss to coat. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until tender.
    2. In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa with 2 teaspoons of the spice mix and the water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, about 17 minutes. Uncover, fluff with a fork and let cool slightly.
    3. Spread the greens on a large platter. In the same bowl, whisk the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil with the remaining 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and the zest, and 1 teaspoon of the spice mix; season with salt, if needed. Add the quinoa, cranberries, parsley and roasted vegetables and toss well.