Sunday, February 17, 2013

Energy Balls

Energy Balls
It's hard to make any recipe with Balls in the title without thinking of Alec Baldwin as Pete Schweddy on SNL.  But, if you can get past that...and maybe call them's a good recipe:

No-Bake Energy Bites 
1 cup (dry) oatmeal 
1/2 cup chocolate chips 
1/2 cup peanut butter 
1/2 cup ground flaxseed 
1/3 cup honey 
1 T chia seeds
1 tsp. vanilla

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Whipped Goat Cheese Appetizer

I just love food.  Can you tell?  I like to try new things; however, I don't eat out at restaurants too often.  That being said, I'm fairly selective when I do.  We have found some new places by using Groupon, but one of my favorite restaurant explorations is due to City Tins.  What are they?  Kind of an upscale-ish Entertainment book that has a local flavor.  Even better, they are sold by the orchestra children as a fundraiser, so a few dollars in Eleanor's orchestra travel fund.  So, I'm even out a bit less than the retail price...and then I get the $10 off at many of the places we like to go anyway (after spending $25).  It's hard to argue with a discounted local coupon:)

Anyway, in addition to a number of our tried and true favorites, we tried a new place the other night, Cafe Centro in a fun neighborhood of Milwaukee.  We like the neighborhood since it reminds us of our Minneapolis neighborhood...just a bit more funky urban than our present suburban home. The menu looks fabulous and Paul and I split a pizza for an entree.  The entree splitting meant we would have room to eat an appetizer as well, so we ordered the whipped goat cheese appetizer.  Hmm..nice and hot and creamy seemed to be just the thing for the winter night.

The following night we were headed to a party.  An, "it's not the end of the world" party that was my kind of casual fun and nearly last minute party.  Taking an appetizer was optional; however, I wanted to replicate the fabulous appetizer of the previous night.  So....goat cheese (room temperature) whipped with a bit of cream. For the balsamic topping I heated some fig jam and balsamic vinegar and poured it over the cheese.
I think I'll have to repeat this recipe and the restaurant with my 2013 City Tin!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Morning Buns

Morning Buns:
I love it when a couple things I love come together.  Like a bookstore and a coffee shop.  Like a bookstore, and coffee shop organized run.  You know, stuff like that.  That's how it was when I got the call from my mom that Cook's Country was making morning buns ala Ovens of Brittany style.

Cook's Country, for those of us that are cable-less, is one of the primo cooking shows we can access.  There are a number of others; however, I really enjoy this show where there is often a taste test, and an equipment comparison.  This show was featuring morning food from restaurants, and they were featuring one of my favorite places, Ovens of Brittany.  Ovens, as it was casually known, was THE local food movement place in Madison in the late 70s and early 80s and featured these buns of decadence.  I have looked up some recipes on how to make these over the years, but the ones I have found require many days of planning.  Here's one that works well to make on a Saturday afternoon and have them to eat Sunday morning.  Count me in!

I must confess that I have made these twice.  The first time I made them as the recipe states.  The second time I did not have sour cream but used vanilla non-fat yogurt.  That worked well also and I didn't notice a difference.  I think it's the time I tell you how that decreases the calories...but with 24 tablespoons of butter that seems silly.  It did cut out a few of the calories...kind of like having a Diet coke with a cheeseburger and fries.  I guess it's a good idea to cut where you can, especially if it isn't noticeable.

This is one of those things to enjoy in moderation!  It made for a wonderful winter morning breakfast.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Chicken and Kale Potatoes

I referred to my value package of chicken breasts...probably not very PC since they weren't locally raised with classical music in the background; however, it was worked for the week after a swim meet.  I got this idea off Nicole's blog (  I mixed up her chicken recipe a bit but was fairly true to the mashed potato and kale recipe substituting oriental kale for the regular ol' green kale she used.  Just because it was available and a tiny bit cheaper.

This meal was great.  So good that it prompted a lunch time text from Eleanor to me telling me that my food this week rocked!  Nothing like that to make a stressful workday seem just a tiny bit better.

Salt and Vinegar Kale Mashed Potatoes from the link above.
2 lbs yukon gold potatoes, cut into 2-inch cubes
2 Tbsp butter, divided
1 bunch kale, ribs removed and torn into small pieces
6 Tbsp white vinegar vinegar
1/4 cup skim milk
1/2 tsp salt
Directions: Bring 2-3 quarts of water to a rolling boil; add potatoes. Boil potatoes for 20-30 minutes or until fork tender.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Once hot, add the kale and saute until wilted and tender, about 4-6 minutes, stirring often.
Using a potato masher, mash the potatoes with the vinegar, remaining tablespoon of butter, milk, and salt, until desired consistency is reached. Mix in kale and serve hot.
Flatten chicken breasts.  Dip in beaten egg and then in breadcrumbs seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper.  Saute for a minute or two in 1 T or so of oil.  Place on baking sheet and top with goat cheese mixed with diced apple and bake until the chicken is done.
I didn't measure anything.....ooops.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Butternut Squash and Bleu Cheese Pasta

This meal was yummy.  Seriously seriously excellent.  We had a large swim meet the other weekend, and it took a bit of organizing and planning to have good meals the following week.  I'm not complaining, because I do like being a volunteer at activities my child has chosen, but it's a lot to have 12-16 hour days at a pool on a weekend and turn around and get ready for the week.  Both girls raved about my awesome meals which made me really happy because the weekend prior was CRAZY.

The swim meet was a blast with Olympians swimming along with our age groupers.  There is a bit of added stress with the parking situation, trying to get my girls where they need to be and being the assistant volunteer coordinator.  And baking some potatoes and making dip in between for the coaches.  I shouldn't forget about snow removal duties on the homefront either. Ah...what fun!  And work is really really busy right now:)

I bought a value package of chicken breasts and parceled that out into 3 meals the week following the meet. and this was the other recipe.  The picture doesn't show much squash; however, there was plenty of squash in most helpings as well.

Preventionrd's meals tend to be a good place for me to find a recipe or two. I changed this a bit from her original using skim milk instead of the 2%.

Creamy Butternut Squash Cavatappi
4 cups (1/2-inch) cubed peeled butternut squash aka one squash's worth
2 1/2 tsp olive oil, divided
1/2 tsp kosher salt, 
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, 
8 oz uncooked cavatappi
1 cup (~1/2) onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup skim, divided
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 large egg yolks
2 oz blue cheese, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)

Preheat oven to 425 F.
Combine squash, 1 1/2 teaspoons oil,  salt, and  pepper on a jelly-roll pan. Bake at 425 F for 24 minutes or until tender, stirring once.
Cook the pasta. Drain pasta; keep warm.
Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion and garlic; sauté 3 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in 1/2 cup milk. Combine remaining 1/2 cup milk, flour, and yolks in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Slowly add egg mixture to pan, stirring constantly with a whisk. Cook 5 minutes or until thickened, stirring frequently with a whisk.
Combine squash, pasta, and milk mixture in a large bowl; toss gently to coat. Sprinkle with cheese.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Chicken Pizza

 I was really trying to have a week of good meals this week while we recover from last weekend's swim meet.  It was a crazy weekend but a lot of fun....just didn't leave much time for the regular weekend duties like laundry, cooking, and cleaning.  And there was not any relaxing going on in this house.  I think I'm ready for a weekend with some recharging built in.

Anyway, I had a value package of chicken breasts in the freezer.....not something that is on my usual grocery list; however, I decided to take it out and use it for three different chicken meals this week.  I cubed and sauteed some and had it in the refrigerator for a meal to quickly come together the other night.

I made pizza dough...just a usual recipe in the morning before work and when I got home 12 hours later it looked great.  I kneaded it and let it rest for 20 minutes or so and shaped it into this gorgeous dinner.
6 cheese Italian blend
garlic, minced
cooked chicken
dried basil and oregano


Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Crockpot Tex-Mex chicken

This idea came to me out of near desperation.  I knew that it was going to be a crazy day at work and after I got home...running Eleanor out to the gym in Waukesha. means dinner won't be until after 8 pm for two of us.  Paul was at work late getting ready for a trip to a number of Asian cities, and Luisa was at swim practice arriving home around 7.  Different dinner times, people in and out between swimming and basketball spectating...sounds like a slow cooker kind of night.

Looking in my pantry I found the makings of a dinner...hooray for a well stocked pantry.

chicken breasts
1/2 red onion, chopped
16 oz frozen corn
can black beans, drained
1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
juice of one lime
1 t cumin

OK.  No picture since it was late when I got home.  But, this tasted great served on a tortilla with a bit of cheese.  For sure I will be making this one again!

Monday, February 4, 2013

Spinach, Bean, and Chorizo Stew

I'm always looking for a quick and healthy dinner, so I was extra happy when I found this in a recent Bon Appetit magazine. 

Spinach, Bean, and Chorizo Stew
I followed the recipe pretty closely but substituted 1 t or so of dried thyme for the fresh. 
The three of us home the night I made it liked it......tasted like a bowl of nutrients.  In a good way.

Friday, February 1, 2013


Eggs!  Fresh Eggs!
These come from my friend Debbie who lives in a very cool little 'burb just north of us.  She lives in the city, but it's one that allows residents to have chickens.  Ironic since the garage behind her old house had a chicken coop along the side.  She did a bit of repair and now has a beautiful place for these gorgeous eggs to be laid.

I probably don't need to tell you that these were delicious!