Thursday, June 29, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 6/25 - 7/1

Hello friends!

I have really been inconsistent lately and I have so many recipes to share with you I need to get blogging! The past few weeks have been crazy with work for Ron and I, but it seems that there is light at the end of the tunnel! I am so late with this meal plan, but I wanted to give you snap shot of our dinner table this week! 

This past weekend my co-worker had an apparel sale and we brought clothes ad hung out. Kellen got a little deep in the pool and I got to jump in after him- scary for both of us, but he was ready to get back in the next day. Later in the day we also sipped on ZIMA with Jolly Rancher (hello high school!). On Sunday, my sister, her boyfriend, my friend Emily and I went to see 47 Meters Down...... Oh. My.God. 90 minute anxiety attack.  

We have taken it a bit east this week because Ron has been slammed at work, but we are both really looking forward to a long weekend in Door County.  I love summer, but I always get a little sad because I wish we had more time to spend with the kids.  We got to have dinner with Ron's parents, sister, brother in law, and brother on Tuesday and that was awesome, as always, we have a lot of fun together. Pure Barre is doing a summer challenge and it has been a lot of fun. The goal is to do 40 classed in 60 days- whew! I am chugging along and hope I can get them all in! 

Have a great week everyone!

Sunday: Bacon Pierogie Bake and Salad
Monday: Tater Tot Casserole and Green Beans
Tuesday:  Out
Wednesday: Subs
Thursday:  Crockpot Italian Pork and Olives with Rice and Asparagus
Friday: Out for Pizza
Saturday: Grilled BBQ Chicken, Mac and Cheese and Peas

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 6/11 - 6/17

What a fun weekend- I am sad it is over!

Friday was Kellen's last day of school and we went out for pizza to celebrate. Earlier in the day the school had a nice little lunch for us to share with the kids, and it was a wonderful mid-day break. 

First day to last day (plus a little extra confidence and attitude- haha).


Saturday I headed to a Pure Barre class to get my seat kicked! I am so in-love with Pure Barre. I think it is harder each time I do it, but it is such a great workout. After class Kellen and I did a little shopping and made a Costco run. Kellen was just in it for the pizza.


Later in the afternoon we headed to the pool with friends and swam for a few hours. Rowan stayed home for a nap, but Kellen loved showing off his skills. In the evening we headed to the fireworks to celebrate Bay Beach's 125th anniversary. 


Today, I did a little more Pure Barre and relaxed at home.  Kellen was hanging out with Ron's parents so Rowan and I headed to dinner with may parents. Rowan was a little charmer- loving all the attention on him! Tonight I am working on a little homework and, but wanted to sneak in a quick post on our weekend!

This week Pure Barre is starting their summer challenge! 40 classes in 60 days....whew! Wish me luck with that! I am also looking forward to a short week and a trip to Chicago to see the Jurassic World exhibit!

Have a great week!


Sunday: Out
Monday: Sloppy Joe's, Chips and Watermelon
Tuesday:  Tuna Noodle Pasta Salad
Wednesday: Grilled Steaks and Grilled Asparagus
Thursday: Out
Friday: Out for Fish
Saturday: Grilled Kielbasa, Mac and Cheese and Peas


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Jalapeno Popper Dip

How is it possible that I have not done an Improv Cooking Challenge in months!!! This is one of my favorite challenges because it pairs two ingredients and allows creativity to take over. It is fun because people make all sorts of things and there is always a different preparation I would not have thought to make.  The ingredients for this month are:  Jalapenos and Cheese.  I am finally getting my taste for spicy food back after it was completely dialed down to nothing while I was pregnant with my sweet Rowan.

I have actually had this recipe sitting in que for a while because I wanted to post it for this challenge, but it was hard to wait because it was so delicious.

I opted to make a slowcooker dip because it is so convenient and doesn’t use heat up the house with a warm oven to create a melty cheesy dip for a crowd.  This is a dip that is certainly work making. In fact, I entered it in my work’s appetizer contest and it won! It is spicy, smoky, cheesy and creamy….so yummy. This recipe makes a large amount and it can be cut in half, but I would make sure that you slightly reduce the cooking time to avoid any potential scorches to the dip. I use one sliced jalapeno on top, but if you want more heat you can scatter more fresh jalapenos on top.

Thanks to Nichole of Cookaholic Wife for organizing these challenges!  Next month the theme is berries and balsamic and I have a tasty ideas in mind!

I think I mentioned before that I am taking a class and it has taken up a lot of my time! I am entering the final week and will, thankfully have a little more time to devote to sharing more recipes with all of you! 



Ingredients

4  (8 oz) blocks of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1 dry ranch dressing packet
2 (4 oz) cans diced jalapeño
1 cup chopped bacon, reserve 1/3 cup for topping
1 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, reserve 1/2 cup for topping
1 fresh jalapeño , sliced


Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix together cream cheese, sour cream, ranch packet, diced  jalapeño, 2/3 cup bacon, and 1 cup cheese.  Spread evenly into a slowcooker. Top with remaining cheese and bacon. Arrange jalapeño slices on top. Cook on low 3 hours.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Slow Cooker Coconut Curry Chicken and Veggies

Man oh man I have been a slacker this week.  My meal plan was really not very exciting- burgers, tacos, subs, and out for pizza.....snooze!  I planned pretty light because I started a 4 week class called Cultural Images in Media for Children and Adolescents. The first week we are studying institutional racism and focusing on historical events leading to many of the current day issues. It is a lot of work, but some of that I gather is due to the fact I haven't taken an official class in over 10 years. However, I have enjoyed the first week immensely. 

If I planned ahead properly I would have put this slow cooker meal on my menu! I love easy weeknight dinners and this fits the bill. This meal is packed with lean chicken and veggies, but has a nice rich quality and spice from the coconut milk and curry paste. I love red curry, but I think you could easily sub green or yellow curry paste depending on what you like best. 

My friend Emily owns Green Bay Douals and this week we worked together to feature easy dinner recipes on her blog. I included some of my (and your) favorites and added freezer modifications if you are prepping for a new baby! Click here to check it out!

I have a winner selected for the giveaway- Congrats to Eva Bakes! 

I am really looking forward to a long weekend. We are staying around Saturday and I will do a little Pure Barre and some much needed yard work. Sunday we are heading to Door County for the day and hoping to catch the firework show in Green Bay in the evening, but we will see what time we get home from Door County. I am looking forward to the first visit to The Farm of 2017! Monday we are planning a relaxing day and grilling in the evening. 

Have a wonderful long and relaxing weekend everyone!




Ingredients

1 1/2 lb chicken breasts
1 can coconut milk
1/4 cup chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 Tbl red curry paste 
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp dried basil 
1 (16 oz) bag of frozen stir fry veggies
Salt, to taste


Instructions

In a medium bowl, mix together coconut milk, broth, tomatoes, and the spices. Place chicken into the slowcooker and pour the coconut mixture over the chicken.  Cook on low for 6 hours. Remove chicken and shred or cut it into bite sized pieces. Add frozen vegetables and cook for an additional 30 minutes. Season with salt if desired. Serve with rice. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Ginger Lime Summer Hummer #SharpenYourKitchenIQ & A Giveaway!

Happy Friday everyone!

We are going to have some fun today because today I am sharing two products given to me my KitchenIQ. I was given these kitchen products to review, but opinions are my own.  

V-etched Better Zester is the first kitchen tool I want to talk about because it is ah-maz-ing. 


I have a zester that I thought was awesome, but the Better Zester is even better. I made an Instagram video earlier this week that you can check out here and talked a little bit about some of the unique features of this zester. The Better Zester has a protective cover to protect the microplane from dulling and wearing faster than it should. The Better Zester has a unique curved shape and I really like how it allowed me to get a good angel on my citrus fruits to efficiently get as much zest as possible. My only complaint is that it is a little larger and fits a little awkwardly in my drawer- I almost wish is folded.  My favorite feature was the fresh zest storage container. I  make a mess when I zest and think helped to reduce my zest waste significantly. I find that it is many time the small conveniences that get me to experiment in my kitchen. The Better Zesters consumer friendly feature make it a happy addition to my kitchen. 

The Grate Ginger Tool is the second kitchen tool I received from KitchenIQ. This is another amazing product I am so excited to share with you. 

Truth be told ginger is not something I use often in my kitchen. Many time I avoid it because it can be a pain to prep. I was excited to try this tool because I am all about simplifying prep work whenever possible - #worksmarter! Click here for my Instagram video of this The Grate going to town and peeling the ginger! The Grate peels, grates, slices and extracts juice. It is a small size and does not take up a lot of space for all the jobs it does. My test of this product was peeling and I could not believe how fast and easy it made peeling ginger. The peeler is almost like a little spoon and got the job done so quickly! I also loved the slicer. Think of it as a mini mandolin- it is sharp so watch your fingers.  This is another product that I absolutely loved. If you use ginger this is a must have for your kitchen. It is easy to use (and washes well too- a must for this mom).  I think it is worth noting that this product can work with more than ginger because it will likely attract more folks to give it a try knowing it is versatile enough to work with just about any root vegetable. 

I wanted to create something taste using my new kitchen tools. What better way to celebrate summer on the horizon than a refreshing cocktail.  I love Moscow Mules and Summer Hummers, and decided to make combine my favorite flavors from these drinks. First, I made an easy Ginger Lime Syrup to sweeten my drink. 

Ginger Lime Syrup


Ingredients

Zest and Juice 1 medium Lime
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled sliced 
1 1/2 cup water
2/3 cup sugar 

Instructions

Place all ingredients in a small pot. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from heat. Strain, cool and pour into a jar. Store in fridge up to 1-2 weeks. 


So, next we come the cocktail. The best part. Like I said my inspiration was a cross between a Moscow Mule and a Summer Hummer. I opted for a vodka cocktail and I used limeade versus the traditional lemon is a summer hummer. I used a store bought limeade (I used Simply Limeade), but you could make your own. So how was the finished product? Delicious. The flavors works really well together and the drink was so refreshing.  The recipe below is for 1 drink, but I would say the recipe for the syrup will make about 5 drinks. 


Ingredients

1 1/2 - 2 shots vodka
1 1/2 shot ginger lime syrup (recipe above)
1/2  cup limeade (store bought or homemade)
Ice & fresh lime wedges

Instructions

Fill glass with ice and pour vodka over ice. Top with syrup and limeade. Stir with straw and garnish with a fresh lime wedge. 


KitchenIQ has been generous enough to offer a giveaway to my readers!  The prize pack is both the kitchen tools reviewed in this post and the V-etched Spice Grater! Enter in the Rafflecopter tool below and  I winner will be randomly selected next Friday! 
This contest is only valid for U.S.  residents. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Weekly Meal Planning 5/14 - 5/20

Whew, I am late to the party with this post! I was sick almost all of last week and into the weekend and am playing catch-up this week. And by "catch-up" I mean starring at my now enormous pile of laundry and empty refrigerator.... Thankfully I was feeling pretty much back to normal by Mother's Day.  

How did your spend your Mother' Day? I started my day with Pure Barre and then we picked up my mom and had a long morning at the park. I grabbed Kellen McDonald's for lunch and went home for naps. I relaxed and watched t.v. and Ron cleaned-up the house. In the evening we headed to my parents for pizza and more playing outside. I kicked Ron's ass at Horse and that was an awesome win.

Look at this sweet pic:



This week has been pretty low key so far since last week was so up in the air. I did a Pure Barre class and will do another tonight. I am also planning to see the new movie in the Alien franchise with my Dad and Ron on Sunday. I am so excited to see it! Saturday is my sister's birthday and we are planning a little family dinner to celebrate! 

This weekend was also my friend Emily's  No Child Wet Behind diaper drive. They collected 23,000 diapers!! The hustle is strong with that one. 

In other news, Cheese Curd In Paradise now has it's own Instagram account! Click here to follow. I previously had all my blog related posts filter in my personal account, but that seemed a bit too much to have them combined.  If you want to follow my personal Instagram you can click here

Have a great week everyone and stay tuned for a giveaway post on Friday!

Sunday: Out
Monday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup
Tuesday: Goulash and Peas
Wednesday: Leftovers/ Subs
Thursday:  Crock Pot Pork Verde Tacos with Jalapeno Sauce with Corn, Tomato and Avocado Salad
Friday: Grilled BBQ Chicken, Rice and Grilled Asparagus
Saturday: Out for my Sister's birthday

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Cheesecakes Cupcakes

Did you know that I use to hate cheesecake? It's true. Hated it. When Ron and I started dating I founf out he loooovvveeeddd cheesecake and it was early in our relationship that I wanted to do things like bake for him....I don't do that anymore- now I make him play Trivial Pursuit with me so I can win.  I learn to like cheesecake I decided that I needed to learn to make it. The more I made it the more I liked it. My parents never made cheesecake and prior t learning to make it I assumed it was the out of the box stuff. Oh I was wrong...and no offense to you boxed no-bake people...actually that's a lie...the no bake stuff if gross or at least I think so, but I always hated cheesecake and probably shouldn't be trusted with those kind of opinions. 

Since trying many cheesecake recipe you can find these lovelies on here:


I think my favorite is the Triple Chocolate. It as the first one I really "mastered". I also  lllooovvveeeee the Chocolate Peanut Butter one as well.  I have made a few that I never photographed and need to re-make as well. I made a Mile High New York Style and a fresh strawberry, but they were eaten too quickly. 

I have been on a kick with mini cheesecakes lately. The main reason I really like making them is because much of my baking is after kids are in bed and the minis bake/cook faster so I can get them in the fridge to chill before midnight....we have all had that cheesecake that just won't get done.... They aso don't need a water bath to bake....double awesome....but I normally do everything in my power to avoid water baths because I hate them for some reason. I have a lot of strong feeling surrounding cheesecake apparently.....

I want to make plain mini cheesecakes for Easter this year and found this recipe. I made my own sauce from Door County cherries and made a few adjustments, and the end result was delicious! I think this is one of the easier cheesecake recipes I have made and they turned out perfectly.  The one downside of minis is they are less forgiving than a large cheesecake. It is very easy to over bake them. I think that is why I made a lot of large ones first to get a good feel for when they are truly done. If you make this recipe keep a close eye from about 17 minutes on to make sure the center is slightly jiggly. If you over bake they crack and if you under bake they sink. No good. There is not a hard and fast rule and mainly you just need to keep a close eye. 

Like I said, I used cherry, but the original recipe provides a recipe for a strawberry or salted caramel topping and they both sound delicious. 

Tonight we are relaxing around the house. I really need to ut mulch down in my front yard so it doesn't look like a jungle like last year....I give myself a break because I had just birthed another human... This year will be the year the yard looks better! We will see if that actually happens....

Enjoy the cheesecake an have a great week my friends!


Ingredients

15 sheet of graham crackers
7 Tbsp salted butter, melted
4 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
4 large eggs
2 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup sour cream


Instructions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 

Place graham crackers in a food processor and crush. Pour in melted butter and as the food processor crushed the crackers. If you do not have a food processor a sealable bag and a rolling pin or heavy can will do the trick.  Divide graham cracker mixture among 24 paper lined muffin cups (about 1 1/2 Tbl per liner) . Press mixture into an even layer. Bake in preheated oven 5 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool while preparing filling.

In the mixing bowl, whisk together 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar with 3 Tbsp flour until well blended. Add softened cream cheese to a to the mixing bowl of a stand mixer (you can do this by hand too and pour sugar mixture over top. Mix mixture on low speed until smooth. Mix in eggs one at a time and blend on low speed, while scrapping sides and bottom of bowl and mixing just until combined after each addition. Add vanilla and sour cream and mix just until combined. Tap mixing bowl against counter top about 30 times to release some of the air bubbles. Divide mixture among muffin cups filling each cup nearly full. Bake in preheated oven 18 - 23 minutes (mine were done in 19 minutes), centers should still jiggle slightly, don't overbake (if they begin to crack they are starting to become overbaked). Remove from oven and allow to cool 1 hour. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator; chill 2 hours. Store in an airtight container in refrigerator or freeze.