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.