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. 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Bang Thai Curry

I had this recipe in my file for a number of years but didn't make it.  We like ( curry dishes; however, there are only so many meals to make and so many times we want curry.  But, I'm not sure why I waited.  This one is going into the rotation of meals at this house since it comes together quickly and is tasty.

The restaurant, Bang Thai, was formerly in a 'burb to the north.  We don't eat out very often...but when the restaurant was around we were really into very few meals out of the house.  And even fewer meals to the north of our house since we tend to want to head more downtown than suburban when the urge to eat out hits us.  Anyway, we knew the owner from the Y, and we are always looking for good Thai food, so we did stop once or twice.

This recipe is a keeper.....glad I kept it this long and will make it more frequently now that it's in my mind.  I did not get a picture of this delightful dish, so next time I make it I hope to remember to do that.

1 T green curry paste
3 T vegetable oil
2 c chicken breast
2 t curry powder
2 c coconut milk (I used lite...and Trader Joe's brand)
1 c water
1 c cubed potatoes
1/2 c cubed white onion
1/2 c cubed tomato (I omitted)
3-4 t fish sauce (I used the brand from the Asian grocery store)
1 t sugar
1/4 c green onion

Heat pan and then add curry paste and oil.  mix well stirring 1 min.  Add chicken and curry powder.  Stir well and add coconut milk. Add water, potato, and onion and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook until potato is tender.  Add tomato (if using), fish sauce, and sugar.  Cook 5- 10 minutes.

Top with green onion and cilantro and serve.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Brussels Sprout, Bacon, and Cheese Pizza

This was a good find....and really, how can one go wrong with bacon, goat cheese, and Brussels sprouts?

I saw this on Nicole's website,  Of course my own spin was needed on this one; however, I did stick as close as I could remember to the original.  Sometimes I will print off the recipe or take the computer into the kitchen; however, this one was a read, memorize, and make.  Hmm....guess my memory isn't as good as I thought it was.  I think her version with balsamic vinegar sounds better than my version....although mine was good too.

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, and Goat Cheese Pizza adapted
1 lb pizza dough  (I used the quick recipe with part whole wheat and part white flour)
4 pieces of bacon, chopped
10 brussels sprouts, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced

3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
3 oz fontina, shredded
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
Preheat to 500 degrees.
Meanwhile, cook the bacon in a medium skillet, stirring often, until just crispy and lightly browned, 4-5 minutes.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and drain a bit of the grease.  To the bacon drippings, add the brussels sprouts, red onion, garlic and  saute 2-3 minutes or until brussels sprouts are slightly softened. Remove from heat.
Stretch the pizza dough into a 14-inch circle.  Sprinkle the dough with the fontina, leaving a thin border around the edge.  Evenly distribute the brussels sprouts mixture, then top with the bacon.  Top with goat cheese.
Bake 10-12 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the toppings are cooked through.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool 2-3 minutes before slicing and serving.
I was a bit concerned on the crowd pleasing score....but no worries.  Everyone raved about it!

Brussels Sprouts, Bacon, Goat Cheese Pizza

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Fruit Breakfast Pizza

This idea was from Bread in Five and turned out to be one of the most favorite breakfasts I have ever made (and I make a lot of breakfast in this house).  I used the quick crust no rise dough recipe, topped it with fruit and goat cheese.  When it was done, I poured just a bit of lavender syrup over the top.  I think it really helped that we had some good berries from Florida.....the good fruit is getting closer to the upper midwest.  And the days are getting (slightly) warmer and longer.  I think I'm ready for some good produce from the CSA and my tiny garden!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Lavender Simple Syrup

Zoe's lavender simple syrup

I'm a huge fan of the Artisan Bread in 5 concept and books.  Why am I such a huge fan?   Many reasons, I guess.  I like the fact that bread is incorporated into a healthy diet.  I'm a skeptic on the whole gluten free thing with the exception for the people who really can't tolerate it.  I do think that there are people whose bodies can't do gluten; however, many people are jumping on board and it seems a bit extremist.

Remember the whole fat free craze?  People went fat free and lost weight.....only until we got fat free processed food.  Sugar free eating was a sure-fire way to lose the pounds until the snack well sugar free snacks were everywhere. Then people went all Atkins.  Guess what, they lost weight.  Until there were easily accessible snacks that went along with this diet.  I remember a friend telling me that it worked.....but when discussing the diet he admitted that he had to give up his 2 regular sodas a day.  And when he opened the cupboard he couldn't find anything he could have.  Gee, did that have anything to do with losing weight?  Gluten free is the diet du jour.  Someone I know swears that must be a problem for her friend.....sure it has nothing to do with eating fast food.  But, the artisan bread in 5 folks are giving bread some good press.  Seriously, I just think eating bread in moderation with whole ingredients is better than eating processed food, for most of us.

We all have limited time...and make our choices on what to do with that time.  It just seems like a pretty good use of a morning or an evening to fuel our bodies with wholesome ingredients....the purer the better.  But, we all have to do what works best for our lives at the time.  I have a coworker who feeds her kids pizza rolls and hot dogs....because she's a busy mom trying to juggle a lot of things.  No need to be embarrassed to tell me judgement here.  We're all just doing what works for us....our budget of money and our budget of time.  I just feel best eating more wholesome food.  I don't like to support the whole corn syrup thing, so it's an ingredient I try to avoid when hiding in other foods.  I don't boycott it completely....just try to not support that industry.  I can co-exist happily with a pizza roll and hot dog friend....doesn't make anyone a bad mom or a bad person.  Let's just all support each other since we're doing our best.

I try to eat somewhat locally....a challenge in March in Wisconsin.  It's a goal; but those berries from Mexico do end up on my table too.  One of the things I really like is that our local Sendik's store has a label on the produce sign stating where it is from.  The country of origin is on there at least; it's a start to know where the produce started. I think we can all agree that it really does taste best if it is grown closer to where it is sold; however, without a huge freezer and gobs of time to preserve things it's not an option where I live.  Having the labels on the helps in making some choices.  It's funny how those choices can sometimes be misguided.  For example, I tend to by Crystal sugar since it's from Paul's area of the world, yet the workers have been on strike there for a bit and I found out my inlaws try to avoid it for that reason.  I guess if you think too much about every choice there isn't much time for much else.

Hmm, so I'm making lavender simple syrup with Crystal sugar and lavender that is not grown in Wisconsin from a recipe from a midwestern baker who promotes gluten.  -Sigh-  I guess we're just at my comfort level.    She lives in the city, if that's a reason to endorse her:)

I found the recipe for the fruit pizza intriguing as a breakfast idea.  Although I'm more of a savory breakfast gal, I can appreciate some goat cheese and fruit in the morning.  And I do love the flavor of lavender.  I had gotten some lavender a couple years ago at Penzey's; however, I don't think they sell culinary lavender anymore so I may need to find a new supplier. My sister has some in her yard along with rosemary in huge bushes, so maybe a trip to Socal to harvest some is in order.  Needless to say, her dogs smell fabulous after a run through those plants!

I think I'm just yearning for some early summer days when the CSA boxes come rolling in and the local markets are in full swing.  It really isn't too much longer now.  Wowza...thinking about strawberries right off the plant.  I guess this will have to do until we get a few more months into summer.

In theory, I would do this Zoe's way.  That is, keep the lavender blossoms in the syrup and strain as needed. For me, in my life right now, I just need to strain it and have it ready to go.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Sunday Dinner

Sometimes I just want ice cream for dinner.  Or maybe popcorn.  But, being the meal person in my family, I made this instead.  It was good...pretzel coated chicken, the sweet potato salad made earlier in the day, roasted broccoli, and mashed potatoes.  All great......can't wait for leftovers!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Spicy Thai Noodles

Spicy Thai Noodle recipe

I found this blog as I cruised through cyber blog linking to the next.  This seemed like another good Thai noodle recipe, so I noted it and saved it for a week when it would be good to have a container of something in the refrigerator.  I was on a bit of a cooking jag.....getting the refrigerator stocked after a few weeks of throwing things together, and this seemed like a good addition.

Normally when I'm warned about the spiciness of the dish I sorta ignore that warning.  After all, we like things a bit spicy around here. I'm passing on the warning.  These have a bit of spice even though the chili flakes are drained out of the oil.  Don't get me wrong, I liked it....just the right flavor with the sweet and the salty.  Just consider yourself warned;)

Monday, April 1, 2013

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

The idea for this gem came from Pinterest.  Something I just seem to be getting the hang of (watch out world, that probably means it's on the way "out") is this whole Pinterest thing.  Anyway, my version wasn't at all like what I saw; it just closely matched what I had on hand.

This is just the thing to use up some leftover chicken breasts (I do like to bake a few extra and throw them in the freezer).  And it really is like eating dip on bread, in a good way.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches
3 T cream cheese, softened
2 T mayo
2 T Frank's wing sauce
2 chopped cooked chicken breasts
1/4 c bleu cheese
Mix all of the above together and spread on bread.  Grill on a panini press.