Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/30 - 12/6

Happy Tuesday! Nothing like a long weekend to get your meal planning away from you!

Thanksgiving/this weekend was so much fun. I loved having the extra time off to spend with family. On Thursday morning Kellen and I prepped for our Thanksgiving feast. Kellen was my cranberry helper. He loved squeezing the oranges and stirring the cranberries. He has become very interested in helping me in the kitchen and always wants to "pull up his chair". I love it. 

We enjoyed a big meal with the family and relaxed the rest of the afternoon. My cousins headed to a very wet and cold Packer game and we stayed in to enjoy warmer and drier temps....and extra rolls! 

I really do not get into Black Friday shopping (it sounds like hell to me) and we opted to go bowling with the kids and order greasy bar food. The kids loved it and did pretty well with the assistance of a little ramp and a few bumpers. 

We headed home for naps shortly after because we had tickets to visit the Garden of Lights at the Green Bay Botanical Garden. It was really chilly, but the lights were lovely and the carriage ride was a lot of fun. We also got a chance to see Santa and Kellen asked him for a candy cane and a shotgun....much to my surprise.... ahhh toddlers....  After the lights we all went to my  parents house for pizza and leftovers. We headed home after and all crashed hard!

The following day, Kellen and I headed over the say goodbye to one set of cousins and have lunch. I had to head home shortly after so start dinner because my in-laws were coming up for the evening. I made my favorite scalloped potatoes and ham recipe and we enjoyed a delicious apple crisp with ice cream. The kids had a a lot of fun playing together and got a chance to run off some energy. 

On Sunday, we relaxed after a full weekend. Kellen was climbing the walls a bit and I met my friend Kayla and the Wildlife Sanctuary to left him run in the fresh air. After lunch, naps and grocery shopping we put up our tree and started to decorate our house! I can't believe the Holiday season has arrived! I love this time of  year and it was so fun to watch Kellen participate in decorating the tree this year! Kellen calls the tree his beautiful Christmas tree and keeps yelling at the cats to stop knocking his carefully placed ornaments off. 

Last night I met a few girlfriends for dinner at one of our favorite places. I have a delicious salmon with an apricot curry sauce. Yum. This week we have swim and are getting some holiday decorating done. I am doing really well with my shopping, but might need to start some wrapping so everything isn't in gift bags like last year when I lost my patience to wrap.... 

Have a good week!

Monday: Dinner with Girlfriends
Tuesday:  Ham Salad Sandwiches, Chips and Fruit
Wednesday: Out for Dinner after Swim
Thursday: Chicken Curry with Potatoes, Carrots and Chickpeas and Rice
Friday: Pan Roasted Salmon with Pesto Feta Sauce, Wild Rice and Roasted Broccoli
Saturday: Ron's Work Holiday Party
Sunday: Roasted Dijon Pork Tenderloin with Blue Cheese Mustard Sauce, Roasted Potatoes and Roasted Cauliflower

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Chocolate Toffee Cookies #SecretRecipeClub

Secret Recipe Club is cooking up an amazing theme for the holidays- Holiday Treats!

I received the blog Amy's Cooking Adventures and I really lucked out! Amy has a wonderful arsenal of different recipes for cookies, brownies, cakes and even frosting! Amy is a busy wife and mom and, like myself, learned to love cooking as an adult and newlywed/new mom. I love her families philosophy that take-out is always and option because taking risks in the kitchen is fun and results in delicious results. I had about  10 recipes bookmarked, but ended up picking between: Chocolate Candy Cane Blossoms, Chocolate Toffee Cookie, Ultimint Christmas Candy Cookies, Thin Mint Pie, Candy Cane Cupcakes and Peppermint Patties. Ultimately, I decided to make the Chocolate Toffee Cookies because my husband absolutely loves toffee bars and I knew he would adore these cookies. The cookies are very easy to put together and even give a baking break while you wait for the dough to chill!

So how did my brood like the holiday treats? They loved them! I had little doubt that these would be a success because of my hubby's love of chocolate and toffee, but it is always nice to get that reassurance that you made a tasty treat that your family loves. I only made a few adjustments to the recipe by reducing the amount of nuts and microwaving the chocolate to melt versus using a double boiler.

Holiday treats are something my family looks forward to every year. I love to make different candies and cookies to share with family and friends. These cookies are a fantastic addition to my holiday spread and certainly help me get into the holiday spirit. We have our tree up and are starting some of our favorite holiday traditions- to say we are excited for the 2015 holiday season is an understatement!

Thank you Amy for a delicious new recipe!


½ cup all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
1 lb bittersweet chocolate, chopped
¼ cup unsalted butter
1 ¾ cups brown sugar, packed
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
5 regular sized chocolate covered English toffee bars (such as Heath), coarsely chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
Sea salt (optional)


In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.

Microwave the chocolate in a glass bowl stirring at 15 second intervals till completely melted. Stir in the butter, stirring constantly until very smooth.  Set the bowl aside and allow the mixture to cool to lukewarm.

Meanwhile, beat the sugar and eggs in the bowl of an electric mixer until it becomes thick, about 3-5 minutes.

Beat in the chocolate mixture and the vanilla.  Add in the flour mixture.

Using a spoon, stir in the toffee and the nuts.  Cover the bowl and chill until firm, about 30-45 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Using a two tablespoon cookie scoop, drop the cookie batter onto the sheets, about 2 inches apart.  Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sea salt (if using).

Bake until the tops are cracked but the cookies are still soft to the touch, 12-15 minutes.

Makes about 40 cookies

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving Leftover Round-Up

I know that Thanksgiving hasn't even happened yet, but it is a great time to collect a few recipes to use all of the Thanksgiving leftovers. My family loves cold turkey sandwiches, but I can't stand them (cold meat-blah!) and always am on the look out for new recipes to use the delicious holiday leftovers. I have picked a few of my favorites and reader favorites to share with you.  Some use chicken, but turkey can easily be substituted. I usually have some leftover pumpkin and always make the error of grabbing an extra sweet potato that I didn't need so I included a few recipes for those leftovers as well. 

I am so excited for tomorrow. My Dad and I are doing the cooking and we will have a lot of family in town. We are planning the following for our menu:

Simple Roasted Turkey and Gravy
Mushroom, Onion and White Wine Stuffing
Mashed Potatoes
Vanilla Maple Sweet Potatoes with Marshmallow Topping
Orange Scented Cranberries
Homemade Green Bean Casserole
Homemade 3 Cheese Mac and Cheese
Red Wine Mushrooms
Cheese Beans (a tradition for Ron's family!)
Superfood Green Salad (Thank you Costco!) 
Pecan Pie, Apple Pie and Pumpkin Pie

I am already drooling. I am responsible for making everything but the turkey, stuffing, salad, rolls and pies....I have my work cut out for me and the prep will start tonight!

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and here is the round-up:


Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip

Crockpot Cabernet Blackberry Turkey Meatballs

Sweet Potato Coins with Blue Cheese 

Sweet 'n' Salty Roasted Pumpkin Seeds


Turkey Herb Dumpling Soup

Thai Chicken Curry and Butternut Squash Soup

Chicken Bacon Ranch Tot Casserole

Chicken Saltimbocca Spaghetti

Weeknight White Chicken Chili

Chicken Curry Soup

White Chicken Enchiladas

Cheesy Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

Baked Pumpkin Goat Cheese Alfredo with Bacon


Sweet and Salty Arugula Salad

Potatoes Romanoff 


Velvet Pumpkin Bread

Harvest Pumpkin Ale Bread

Monday, November 23, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/23 - 11/29

Happy Thanksgiving week! One thing I am certainly thankful for is the short week and a long weekend ahead filled with lots of delicious food and fun with family. 

This weekend was a lot of fun! I went to a painting and wine (water for me!) evening with my mother-in-law and sister-in-law at a studio where my sister-in-law has her personal training space. We painted a few festive pumpkins and a pumpkin spice latte. It was so much fun and I really enjoyed the how casual it was, but how many tips and tricks we learned. I really enjoy painting and have take a few classes in the past and I can't wait to try another one of these workshops! 

My finished product:

On Saturday morning we bundled up because it was under 30 degrees in Green Bay and we were headed to the Holiday Parade! Kellen absolutely loved it, but we all got a bit chilly by the end of the parade and needed to sip hot chocolate. Kellen was ready to throw in the towel and go home until Santa turned the corner! He was so excited he needed to do a two handed wave and was thrilled when Santa waved back! I have a feeling that this Holiday is going to be a lot of fun! 

After the parade we went out for lunch before heading home to relax for the rest of the day. I met up with my sister and her boyfriend to go see the new Hunger Games movie later in the evening. I really enjoyed it!

On Sunday, Kellen and I ran to the store before heading to my parents in the late afternoon for the Packer game. I made a crockpot apple crisp and someone was pretty excited for it to be done from the moment I put the lid on the crockpot!  

We were all so excited about the Packer victory and am hoping we can keep it up on Thursday! 

This week I am looking forward the Turkey Day. My family from Chicago will be in town and Ron's parents will also be coming to celebrate with us and I am so excited. A few of my cousins are going to the game to see the Packers and Brett Favre. It should be a pretty awesome night!  We are also planning to go the the Festival of Lights on Friday, Ron's family is coming for dinner on Saturday and we are putting up our tree on Sunday! It is going to be a fun weekend! 

I hope you all have an amazing week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday:  One-Pot Chili Mac and Salad
Tuesday: Chicken Parmesan, Pasta and Salad
Wednesday: Out to Dinner
Thursday: Thanksgiving! Roasted Turkey and Gravy, Mushroom White Wine Stuffing, Mashed Potatoes, Sweet Potato Casserole, Green Bean Casserole, Mac and Cheese, Salad, Rolls, Red Wine Mushrooms and lots of different Pies!
Friday: Leftovers or Out
Saturday: Ron's Family are coming over for Dinner- Deviled Eggs, Seasoned Mushrooms, Relish Tray, Scalloped Potatoes and Ham, Green Beans, Salad and Apple Crisp with Ice Cream for dessert
Sunday:  Lasagna Soup, Garlic Bread and Salad

Pumpkin Pasilla Bread + A PRIMO Giveaway

Earlier this year I shared a few recipes from PRiMO Specialty Foods and shared how much I love their product. Well, Primo sent me a new flavor to try, Berry Pasilla, and I knew I needed to make a delicious fall recipe to share with you to show-off the tasty ways to use their preserves. 

The Berry Pasilla preserve is a very unique and tasty flavor. The berry flavor is very bright, but the pasilla pepper flavor reminds me of raisin with a little sweet smoky flavor of cocoa. The pepper is traditionally used in mole sauce, but I wanted to try something different and something I could share with my friend and family over the holiday. 

I opted to make a pumpkin bread with the preserves because I thought that the flavors would be amazing together and I love that pumpkin can naturally carry spice and not be overwhelmed by it.  My bread was delicious and I loved the flavors from the preserves coming through the bread with a hint of spice from the peppers- so yummy! 

PRiMO Specialty Foods is so generous and wants to share some of their amazing preserves not only with me, but with all of you. They have an amazing holiday gift pack with four amazing preserves: Berry Pasilla, Raspberry Habanero, Holiday Pumpkin Spread, and Spiced Cherry. Look at those beautiful jars- I love their retro style packaging!

These preserves would make a lovely gift or are perfect if you have company coming and are laying out a light breakfast for your guests.  I can't wait to share them with my family this weekend because we always make homemade scones and I know my family will enjoy trying the different flavors. Thank you PRiMO for your lovely preserves! Please enter using the Rafflecopter below- giveaway will run till Saturday at midnight!


1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce
1/4 cup Berry Pasilla Preserves
2/3 cups sugar
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup canned pumpkin 


Preheat oven to 350 and spray a 9″x5″ loaf pan with non-stick baking spray.

Whisk together flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon and set aside.  In a large bowl (I use my stand mixer, but hand mixer will work fine) combine oil, applesauce, preserves and sugar. Mix till smooth. Slowly mix in the flour mixture. Add the eggs and pumpkin.  Pour batter into the  prepared pan and bake for 1 hour.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 20, 2015

Szechuan Green Beans and Ground Pork

Oh my goodness....it is finally Friday! I am having an exhausted week and am happy for a little break over the next few days. Plus Thanksgiving is on the horizon and my cousins are coming for Chicago for the holiday and I can't wait to see them!

Since it is the end of the week I am going to celebrate with a wonderful weeknight friendly dinner. This recipe come from CookingLight and is fantastic. I loved how easy it was to put together and how packed it is with fresh green beans. Kellen loves when I prepare a stir fry because he waits by the counter and takes the fresh veggies off the cutting board every time I turn around. I pretend not to notice and he loves it- who would yell at a child for eating fresh green beans?! Nobody in this house- that's for sure! The only adjustment I made to the dish was to use just shy of a pound of ground pork so it would make a little extra leftovers for lunches. I didn't increase the sauce and didn't feel that it was under-sauced, but if you like extra and are using more meat I would adjust accordingly. 

This meal was delicious and so easy to put together- I think dinner was on the table in less than 20 minutes. I opted to serve our stir fry over hot rice, but noodles would also be yummy. Easy dinners make me a happy mom- there are fewer things better than that! 

Tonight, I am going to a paint/wine class with my sister in law and mother in law. It should be a lot of fun. I have not been to one before, but have seen a lot of my friends posting about them on Facebook and thought it looked fun! The theme appears to be pumpkin spice latte and I am curious to know how everything works and excited to paint. I really enjoy painting and use to do a lot more of it when I was in high school and a bit in college. It always is like riding a bike when I get to do it and I remember how much fun it is. 

Hope everyone has  good week and an even better weekend! I am looking forward to bringing Kellen to his first Holiday Parade tomorrow morning and we have been told that we will have a blanket of white on Saturday morning- is it really that time of year already!?


1/2-1 lb lean ground pork
1 tsp cornstarch
1/8 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
1 tsp peanut oil
2 1/2 cups (1-inch) cut fresh green beans 
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 Tbl hoisin sauce
1 tsp sugar 
1/2 -1 tsp crushed red pepper
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce


Combine pork, cornstarch, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add pork, beans, and garlic; cook until pork loses its pink color and will easily crumble.

Whisk together hoisin sugar, red pepper and soy in a bowl. Pour hoisin mixture to the pan with the pork and green beans. Cook 2-3 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring frequently. Serve over rice or noodles.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Weekly Meal Plan 11/16 - 11/22

Happy Monday! 

This weekend was filled with fun and surprises! 

On Friday, we relaxed at home and ordered pizza. After Kellen went to bed, Ron and I watched a few shows and got ready for our party the following day. 

On Saturday, Ron had to work from 8 am - 2 pm and I got ready for out party to reveal if our Baby is a he or a she. Lucky for me my friend Kayla had Kellen over for to play while I ran a few errands. We had decided on a taco bar and I stopped at Target for a few last minute decorations. My last stop before grabbing Kellen was to pick up our fabulous rainbow cake with the secret locked behind all the frosting.  I picked up Kellen and headed home for lunch and nap (for him). 

My menu for the taco bar was:
-Taco Beef, Taco Ranch slow cooked chicken
-Fixin's- shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, slices black olives, onions, cheese, sour cream, warm queso cheese in the slowcooker, jalapenos and homemade salsa. 
-Hardshell, softshell and tortilla chips
Appetizers: Seasoned mushrooms, pickle wrap dip and taco dip from my friend Kayla 

The party was a lot of fun and food was delicious! If you saw my previous post you know that we are welcoming a brand new little boy to our house late March/early April next year!

After the party, Ron and I relaxed and put Kellen down.....we get wore out easily these days! 

On Sunday, I did a little shopping and we relaxed at home before heading to my parents for the Packer game. The game was horrible and actually rather boring until the last 30 seconds.....however, that didn't seem to matter....sigh.... 

After the game  we headed home and ate leftover tacos with my friend Emily and watched Wednesday's Law and Order.  However, Kellen got sick in the middle of dinner and threw up all over. In typical toddler fashion he told me he felt great, started jumping and played for the rest of the night..... toddlers are confusing.... Being pregnant and have a couch that now has a slight vomit smell to it might not be a good combination for us.

This week we have a low key week and are hoping to get to the Holiday parade this weekend! I am also trying one of those wine (not for me) and canvas classes with my family as well!

Have a great week everyone- look for a fun giveaway coming up this week! 

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Slowcooked Beef and Noodles and Peas
Tuesday: Crockpot Chicken and Stuffing with Roasted Cauliflower
Wednesday: Out after Swim
Thursday: Dinner with a Girlfriend- Ron and Kellen will have Bacon Pierogie Bake and Salad
Friday: Subs for Kellen and Ron...I will grab something on the run before the painting class
Saturday: Beef and Vegetable Pot Pie with Cheddar Biscuits
Sunday: Chicken Stew with White Beans and Spinach, Rice and Salad