Friday, September 22, 2017

Italian Sub Pasta Salad and a Life Update!

TGIF Everyone (do people still say that?)!

I am sharing a delicious pasta salad recipe because if you're experiencing the late September heat wave like Wisconsin is you can appreciate a cool dinner late in the season. 

I love cold Italian subs. Meaty and filling with crisp veggies and a zesty dressing....maybe add a few spicy peppers ass well- yum. This pasta salad is really easy and is a crowd  pleaser. The only thing that takes a little bit of time is the chopping, but it is worth the time! The dressing has a red wine vinegar and olive oil base and I dress it up with some oregano and a little garlic. I like to use a shaped pasta like radiatore (pictured below) because I feel that it grabs all the flavors and herbs in the nooks and crannies.  I like veggies in my pasta salad to balance the spice from the hard salami and zesty dressing and peppers. I like bell peppers, banana peppers, tomatoes, olives, and green onion. If my husband was not eating this I would certainly add some mushrooms as well! 

So what else is new in my world? Well, I left my job of about 7 years in August to return to school! I desperately needed more time with my children, and unfortunately those weren't options for me if I stayed at my former job.  I did a lot of thinking over the past 7 months, and after meeting with my licensing program, lots of talking with my family, and lots of personal contemplation- I left my job.  I enjoyed my previous job, but it wasn't my passion but I happened to be really good at it. I am currently taking classes to get my license to teach Social Studies. Since I already have a bachelor's in a related field I will not have to be in school for long. Right now I am taking classes and tutoring at my Alma Mater in Green Bay. Civics and history are a true passion of mine, and I am enjoying learning more. I am also looking forward to having summers and time during the holidays with my boys while having a challenging career.  This transition has given me a lot of perspective and I didn't realizing how much I was missing. I didn't realize how my life was comprised of going through the motions and rushing all day long.  

I will give you more updates on school as I chug along on this new adventure!


Ingredients

for dressing:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp oregano 
1 tsp basil 
1/4 tsp salt 
1/4 tsp pepper 

Whisk together and set aside

1 lb shaped pasta, cooked according to package instructions
2 bell peppers (I used yellow and orange), chopped
1/3 cup sliced black olives
6 oz hard salami chopped
1/3 cup sliced green onions 
1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved 
8 oz mozzarella petals, halved
1/2 cup chopped banana peppers


Instructions

In  large bowl, add pasta and all veggies, meat and cheese. Pour dressing over the top and stir gently to evenly mix all ingredients. 

Cover and store in the fridge about 30 minutes before serving. 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Slowcooker Beefy Taco Noodle Soup

Hey everyone! 

Popping in to share a delicious weeknight soup with you! I am part of a soup swap and I have sadly had a mediocre showing with providing recipes, but this month the theme was "Quick Weeknight Soups". That is a theme I can get behind with school in full swing. This month Amy author of Amy's Cooking Adventures is our host and many thanks to her for organizing! Next month I am hosting so I had better get my butt in gear! 

I decided to make a slowcooker soup for the swap. My kids love tacos and I like to make different dishes using taco flavors because I know they will love it. I also added a few noodles because it is another food my children love! I added two different types of beans to make the soup even heartier. This soup is so easy and it is nice to get home and not worry about cooking dinner. 

We have had a few life changes I alluded to a few months ago and I will post more details on that later this week to give you guys an update! 

I also have to add it is ironic that I am sharing a soup today because it is 85 degrees today! However, this soup does not require your stove to simmer the soup so your house can stay cool!  


Ingredients

1 lb lean ground beef
1/2 a medium onion, diced
1 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed
1 (15 oz ) can pinto beans, rinsed 
1 (4 oz) can diced green chilis
1 can original Rotel
1 taco seasoning packet 
1 ranch seasoning packet
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp ground cumin
5 cups low sodium chicken broth 
2/3 cup frozen corn
2/3 cup uncooked elbow noodles

Grated cheese, sour cream and corn chips for toppings


Instructions

Brown ground beef with onion. Drain.

Add to the slowcooker, beef/onion mixture and all remaining ingredients with exception of corn and noodles. Cook on low 4-5 hours.  During the last 30 minutes of cooking add the corn and the noodles. Stir and replace the cover of the slowcooker. Cook till noodles are tender.  Salt to taste. 

Serve and garlic with cheese,  sour cream and corn chips

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