Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Almond Basil Pesto

I have said it a hundred time but will say it again, I love pesto. 

One great thing about pesto is the versatility of it to create different types of pesto.  Normally, I like the use toasted pine nuts in my traditional basil pesto, but I like to throw in a little twist every so often.  In this case, I opted to use almonds over traditional toasted pine nuts. I really like this variation because the almond adds a bit more nutty flavor and creates a more robust pesto. In addition to being tasty almonds pack an even bigger protein and potassium punch than pine nuts. One thing I find with the almonds is that they create a little thicker pesto and you made have to adjust the olive oil as you blend depending on your preferences. 

I absolutely love this recipe and it makes me a bit sad because fresh basil will be quickly gone from gardens and farmer's markets.  This pesto freezes lovely and, if you are like Ron and I, makes a bunch to hoard in your freezer to enjoy during the cold months. 

Tonight I am getting my hair cut and hopping over to the gym of a bit before picking up Kellen's new cloth diapers (I am an addict and Bumgenius has a new print!).  Afterwards, Ron and I are going to have a late dinner after Mr. Kellen retires for the night. 

Tune in tomorrow for a recipe to show what you can do with this amazing pesto! 


2 cups packed basil leaves
1/8 cup slivered almonds
3 fresh garlic cloves
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2-2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil (Adjust depending on thickness)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper


In the food processor, add food processor add the basil, Parmesan, almonds, garlic, salt and pepper. 

Secure the lid and add the oil as you process the pesto until it is smooth. 

Remove from food processor and store in an airtight container or freeze.  Yields about a cup of pesto. 

Yields about a 3/4 to 1 cup of pesto

Monday, September 1, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 9/1/14 - 9/7/14

Happy Tuesday!

I am a little behind this week because of the holiday and my husband using the computer for fantasy football last night!

This weekend was soooo fun! I didn't want it to end and for September to begin.  On Friday, we went out for fish and got ready to head to Door County the next day.  On Saturday, we loaded the car and headed to the cottage. We played on the beach, splashed the waves, made a sandcastle and enjoyed the creek until it was time to grill burgers and eat dinner. 

My sister and nephew headed out after dinner, but we stayed to enjoy The Farm the next day.  Kellen loved all things farm related these days. He took a special liking to feeding the goats during this trip. I love The Farm and will miss going after September. We are going to try and sneak in another trip before it closed at the end of the month until Memorial Day. 


In the evening we headed to one of my favorite restaurants in Door County, The Whistling Swan.  The meal was fantastic! I had seared scallops with radishes, bok choy and black garlic cashew puree. The table shared a few appetizers, green curry mussels, creamy dill cucumber (Kellen's favorite) and radishes with salted goat cheese butter. Kellen had Swedish meatballs with homemade noodles and lingonberry jam..... he loved it! After the meal, we shared a chocolate mousse dessert with graham cracker and toasted marshmallow.  It was like one gigantic s'more!

This week we are have a few things in the evening (haircuts, workouts, doctor appointment, volleyball), but all that is nothing because Thursday is the FIRST PACKER GAME!!!!!!  I must say that the start of the regular season softens the impact of the beginning of September. My parents are coming over and we are going to order pizza and have some nachos. This weekend we have a birthday party on Saturday and my friend Emily's Belly to Baby Expo is on Sunday. 

Have a great week!

Here is what is on tap:

Monday: Tatertot Casserole and Green Beans
Tuesday:  Bang Bang Chicken Skewers and Couscous
Wednesday:  Italian Pork Sandwiches and Caprese Quinoa Bake
Thursday:  Go Pack Go! We are ordering pizza and I am going to make some baked nachos!
Friday: Grilled Chicken Scampi Skewers, Roasted Red Pepper and Pesto Risotto and Cauliflower
Saturday: Out
Sunday: Grilled Steak Fajitas , Beans and Rice

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Grilled Corn, Tomato and Bacon Salad

One of my favorite salads is grilled corn, tomato and avocado with a lime dressing.  I am always trying to find different ways to use grilled corn because it so delicious right now.  I put together this simple salad to serve alongside grilled chicken for a weeknight dinner. I love how quick and easy this recipe is and how perfect it fits with all kinds of meals.  Ron and I both loved this salad, but Kellen went nuts over it. He really likes corn, bacon and tomatoes and I knew it would be right up his ally.  I also like to serve this right away because it is really yummy when the corn is a bit warm.  I also like it when the bacon is nice and crisp so I usually try to make this in smaller batches. 

Tonight I am trying to get everything together for our weekend in Door County- so excited! My sister is planning on making dinner on of the nights, and I am hoping heading up the peninsula is on the agenda as well! We are also going to take a trip to The Farm for the kids (and adults too).  I can't believe summer is coming to a close. See you all in September and have a fun Labor Day weekend! 


4 ear of fresh sweet corn, shucked
1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/2 tsp sugar


Grill the corn until starting to char. Allow to cool slightly then remove the kernels from the cob with a knife. 

Whisk together vinegar, oil, salt, pepper and sugar. Set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine corn, tomatoes and bacon. Gently toss in the dressing and serve. 

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

My name is Ashley and I am a pickle-holic. 

I love pickles and have since I was a little girl. One of my mom's favorite stories about me as a child was that I would always as for pickles in the morning. The story always involves me requesting "one puckle" and then after getting my treat saying "two puckle, mommy two".  I would probably still do this, but now as an adult can eat the entire jar if I wanted to...heheh.... 

Our farmer's market has been bursting with cucumber and I found the perfect bag a few weeks ago to make my refrigerator dill pickles.  I like to use smaller cucumbers (sometimes called kirby cucumbers) and halve them when I make pickles. I find that larger pickles tend to take longer and sometimes do not full get the garlic dill flavor.  I like pickles that are salty and have a strong dill flavor. The ingredient list below can be modified to fit whatever you prefer in you pickle profile. I also like to use a big glass bowl over individual jars to create a "pickle pot" of such.  

In our house, Kellen and I are the pickle lovers. Ron likes pickles, but it's as in love as Kellen and I. One of my favorite things to do with him after I get home from work is to sit on the couch and share a pickle together. The first time he asked for "more pickle mama" I was so happy. Another favorite we have found this summer is pickles on a stick from the different fairs. I think sharing might die next year because we will both was our own! 

I love this recipe because the pickles


3 1/2 - 4 lb pickling or kirby cucumbers, halved
5 cups water
2 1/2 cups white vinegar
1 Tbl sugar
2 1/2-3 Tbl salt
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
5-6 head of fresh dill
1 1/2 Tbl peppercorns

4 quart container with lid (I use Pyrex, but you could use individual jars as well)


Add water, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt to a saucepan and boil over high heat. Remove saucepan from heat and cool completely.

Combine cucumbers, garlic cloves, peppercorns and fresh dill in a 4 quart container. Pour cooled vinegar mixture over cucumber mixture. Seal container with lid and refrigerate 3-5 days before serving. Pickles should last 6-8 weeks. 

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Coconut Rice

I love finding different grilled chicken recipe for us to try. To me, summer is all about firing up the grill and making all kinds of different marinades.  I am a sucker for anything with grilled pineapple and when this recipe from Laura of Tide & Thyme popped into my reader I put it on my meal plan right away. The recipe called for pineapple juice and I knew that I would have a few chunks of pineapple perfect for grilling. The other thing that immediately drew me to this recipe was making rice with coconut milk. I had never tried this before and thought it sounded like a delicious side to a tropical grilled chicken. I kept close to the original recipe but added a bit of grilled pineapple to our plates.

The recipe was delicious! The flavors of the marinade were not too sweet, but gave the chicken a sweet and salty flavor. The rice was perfect with the chicken. Ron was a little nervous the coconut flavor would be really strong, but it is not at all and gives just the right amount while making the rice rich in texture with a subtle  flavor.  Topped with grilled pineapple- this meal was fantastic!  Kellen was all about mixing the rice with the chicken and pineapple. The little guy is certainly willing try anything these days and his mom loves it (and is crossing her fingers that he keeps it up).  If you are looking for a wonderful summer meal on the grill- give this one a try because you will not be disappointed.

Tonight we are thinking of making a trip to Bay Beach for a little fun on the rides. I can't believe it is almost Labor Day- where did summer go!?


6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts 
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup pineapple juice
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 scallions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
1 tsp of olive oil
6 fresh pineapple rings

For the coconut rice:
2 Tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup long grain white rice
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
1 1/2 cup water


Combine soy sauce, pineapple juice, water, brown sugar, scallions, garlic, and oil in a resealable plastic bag. Add the chicken to the bag, squeezing out as much air as possible, and seal. Gently toss to coat the chicken in the marinade. Place in the refrigerator and marinade for at least 8 hours.
Preheat grill to medium heat. Grill for about 5-6 minutes per side.  Remove chicken from grill and while it rests quickly grill the pineapple to give it a slight char.

To prepare the rice: melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the rice, and cook for about 3 minutes stirring occasionally. Carefully pour in the coconut milk and water, stir to combine. Cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir once more and re-cover. Reduce heat to low and cook for 18 minutes. Remove lid and fluff rice with fork.

Serve the chicken on a bed of the coconut rice with grilled pineapple.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Weekly Meal Plan 8/25 - 8/31

Happy Monday!

We are having a rainy and muggy day in Green Bay, but had beautiful and hot weather this past weekend!

We were originally going to camp, but that fell through and we had a few different adventures at home!  On Friday, I met my girlfriends out for sushi and it was fantastic! I am really loving super white tuna nigiri right now, and totally wish I had a few pieces for lunch. When I got home Ron headed out for a bit with a few friends and didn't get home till 2 am (he was surprisingly not hurting bad the next morning!). 

On Saturday, we made our weekly trip to the farmer's market and found Ron's unicorn food, ground cherries (unicorn food = a favorite food that is very hard to find or you haven't had in a very long time).  Ron munched on these as kid and hadn't had one in years until our trip to Normandy in May. You can imagine his surprise to find them at our market (only one vendor had them). 

Later that evening, my friend Kayla and her kids came for playtime and dinner. The kids are so fun to watch and had a blast chasing around and having cupcakes- sugar rush!

On Sunday my friend Emily's daughter came over while her mom was with a client for the chili cook off and swimming! It was really hot and muggy, but the chili was amazing! The kids shared a burger and apple, and were got a wagon ride all around the park from Ron. After the cook off, we headed over to our friend's for a pool party. The kids swam for almost 2 hours and were full of giggles. After Emily was done and picked up her daughter we headed home and Kellen took a much needed nap. We finished off the evening by ordering subs and watching the Simpson's marathon on FX. 

This week is Ron's last week before classes start! Ron has been back at school adding to his degree and is almost done! I am very excited for him. This week is pretty easy, but we are headed to Door County for Labor Day weekend! I am really excited for a weekend of relaxation and sun! 

Here is what is on tap: 

Monday: Mexican Meatballs, Rice, Grilled Corn and Black Beans
Tuesday: Fresh Pesto Pasta with Grilled Chicken Sausage and Salad
Wednesday: Mufaletta Casserole, French Bread and Green Beans
Thursday: Balsamic Brown Sugar Grilled Chicken, Sweet Corn Risotto and Zucchini
Friday:  Out/Leftovers
Saturday: Door County for the night
Sunday:  Door County for the night

Friday, August 22, 2014

Salsa Verde Chicken Tostadas with Cilantro Lime Crema

Some nights a slow cooker can be my best friend. I especially love it when I want to make a dish with a few extra steps and my protein is already made. Last time we were at the farmer's market it was brimming with ingredients for a fresh salsa verde.  I am not one to use salsa verde often, but love the flavors slow cooked with a protein.  Recently, I have seen a few Pinterst recipes using salsa verde and beer in the slow cooker. I decided to create my own recipe and make tostadas for my family. 

I believe that all tostadas need protien, fresh crunchy veggies and a creamy sauce. Since I had already created one part of my protein I went to work to make a simple refried bean. I am not sure of the technical way to make them, but I put together something simple based on the different seasoning we like at our house.  Next, I made my crema and used fresh citrus and herbs.  I love using fresh citrus juice over a bottled because the flavors are much brighter and have a more natural taste. Finally, I chopped a variety of fresh veggies and got down to the business of assembling.  At first glance, the idea of frying tortillas might sound scary, but it is soooo easy and totally worth it! However, it is important to keep a close eye as you fry because the tortillas can burn quickly. 

Ron, Kellen and I absolutely loved these tostadas! To me, the crema pulls it all together and the chicken is juice and beans were smokey and flavorful.  Kellen is all about different "nacho" combos these days and loves breaking up his tortilla to dip into the beans and chicken. 

Tonight I am headed to KoKo's with two of my girlfriends for sushi. I already planned out what I am getting: super white tuna sushi, bomb maki roll, godzilla maki and a cup of thai shrimp soup.... I am so excited!


For Chicken:
1 - 1 1/2 lb chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups Salsa Verde (you can also use jarred)
8 oz beer (I use Corona)
1/2 tsp salt
1 Tbl Cumin

For Crema:
1 cup crema or sour cream
1 handful of fresh cilantro
Juice of 1/2 a large lime (or whole medium or small)
Sprinkle of salt (optional)

For Beans (you can buy them already made if you like): 
1 Tbl olive oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp chili powder
1 15 oz can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
2/3 cup chicken stock

For Tortillas (you can buy them already made if you like):
8-10 6 inch corn tortillas
1/2 cup canola oil

Diced tomatoes
Sliced Avocado
Shredded Lettuce
Chopped Cilantro
Queso Fresco


For Chicken: 
Place chicken into crockpot. In a medium bowl, mix salsa verde, beer, salt and cumin. Pour mixture over chicken. Cook on low 7-8 hours. When chicken finished cooking, remove it from the crockpot, shred and return it to the crockpot so it can soak in the juice and flavors. 

Following can be prepared after chicken is shredded:

For Crema:
Place crema or sour cream into food processor. Add cilantro and lime juice. Process till smooth. Remove from processor and place in a airtight container in the fridge. 

For Beans:
Heat olive oil in a medium skillet. Add onions and cook till tender. Stir in the garlic powder and chili powder. Add the beans and stock. Gently mash with a fork. Stir until smooth and warmed through. 

For Tortillas: 
Complete tortillas right before you are ready to serve. Heat 1/2 cup oil in a heavy rimmed skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Fry tortillas, 1 at a time, turning once or twice until golden brown. It will take about 45 to 60 seconds per tortilla. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. 

To assemble:
Place fried tortillas onto plate and spread refried beans evenly over the tortilla.  Place shredded chicken on top of the beans. Top with sliced avocado, tomatoes and shredded lettuce, chopped cilantro and queso fresco. Finish with a generous drizzle of cilantro lime crema. Serve with fresh lime wedges if you desire an additional pop of fresh citrus.