12.15.2011

Tater Tot Casserole


First, it is really hard to take a good picture of this casserole...of most casseroles actually! Second, this is one of those comfort food dishes that sticks to your ribs and fills you up. You probably have most of the ingredients in your pantry too! Tater Tot Casserole is just one of those yummy meals that I make when the weather starts to get cold and when I know I will want leftovers for awhile. Kurt loves this meal too and he is always satisfied when I make it. I should add that this is not a healthy dinner but it is quick, easy, and totally YUM!

Tater Tot Casserole
Source: Jenny, a Friend

Ingredients:
1 bag frozen tater tots
1 lb. ground beef
16 oz. reduced fat sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Add ins (I use 1 can of corn and 2 small cans of mushrooms)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Pour bag of tater tots on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. 
2. Brown the ground beef. While beef is browning, mix the sour cream, chicken soup, any add-ins, and 1 cup of the shredded cheddar cheese in a large bowl. When beef is cooked add it to the mixture and mix well.
3. Pour beef mixture over tater tots and spread out evenly. Sprinkle remaining shredded cheddar on top.
4. Bake in the oven for 45-50 minutes or until casserole is bubbly and cheese is melted.

12.07.2011

Easiest Pumpkin Muffins Ever. Period!

(So I totally ate all these muffins before I got a picture so next time I make them I'll update the post...sorry!)


 Interested in making something so simple it only has 2 ingredients? No? Well how about if I told you it's also unbelievably delicious? Yes! Can I have an AMEN?!

If you haven't heard the word on the street yet, it's all about these pumpkin muffins. You can find them on many food bloggers sites and for good reason. All you need is a box of cake mix and a can of pumpkin. Yes, I know, we are past the traditional "pumpkin season" since Thanksgiving is over. Well too darn bad because these puppies are a must-make! They are moist and dense and just plain old delicious. A hot tip from one of my co-workers said that if you have applesauce you can also add a heaping tablespoon of it to the mix for an added softness. I'm sure I say this a lot but trust me, these you just gotta try!!

Easiest Pumpkin Muffins Ever
Source: Food Blogs, Friends, Family

Ingredients:
1 box cake mix (yellow, spice cake, chocolate cake, white cake)
1 15 oz. can of pumpkin

Directions:
1. Mix box of cake mix (I used spice cake) with the can of pumpkin. Optional - add heaping tablespoon of applesauce.
2. Scoop with an ice cream scoop (if you have one) into muffin tin. This made 12 muffins for me.
3. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until the tops have started to brown.
4. Serve! I've been told that cream cheese frosting on these muffins is sinful or you can dust them with powdered sugar...or just eat them plain!!

11.17.2011

Teryaki Chicken All Grown Up

Sorry the picture sucks, I was so hungry and it smelled so good I couldn't wait!!
If you have looked back on some of my early posts you may have seen my Teriyaki Chicken Nuggets recipe. I was feeling exceptionally lazy last Sunday night but still wanted to make a nice dinner for my hardworking husband. I knew that my Teriyaki Chicken Nuggets are one of his favorite meals and I rarely make them because I hate how my house smells after frying up chicken not to mention the work it takes to cut up and bread all the nuggets. I decided that I could probably use the same sauce recipe and instead of cutting up the chicken into little nuggets I could just pound them out thinner and use the whole chicken breast!


My idea worked like a charm (obviously ;) and the chicken was delicious! This method was so simple and so tasty that I will definitely have to work this into the rotation more often. I would suggest cooking the chicken just a little short of done because you will stick it in the oven for about 10 minutes. I always serve this dish with white rice and spoon some extra sauce over the rice because it is sooooo tasty!! I hope you can give this recipe a whirl and if you do, let me know what you think!


Teriyaki Chicken All Grown Up
Souce: Me and My Mama


Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp. Lawry's Seasoned Salt
1-2 eggs beaten
oil for frying
Glaze (I personally double this recipe as I like a lot of extra sauce for dipping):
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. honey
1/4 cup teriyaki sauce or teriyaki marinade
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp ginger (fresh is best but powder is good too)


Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix soy sauce, teriyaki marinade or sauce, ginger, honey, and garlic in a pan and heat on medium heat.
2. Heat a thin layer of vegetable oil in a frying pan. Slice chicken breast in half horizontally or pound out your chicken breast to desired thickness (mine were about 1/4-1/2 inch).
3. Mix flour, salt, pepper and Lawrys in one bowl. In another bowl beat 1 egg. Dip each chicken breast in egg then in flour mixture then place on a plate.
4. When oil is hot add all chicken breast, or as many as can fit, into the frying pan. Fry on both sides just short of doneness. Immediately transfer to teriyaki mixture and make sure both sides are coated in the teriyaki sauce.
5. Place chicken on a wire rack on a baking sheet and put in oven for 10 minutes, basting chicken with teriyaki mixture halfway through.
6. Serve with white rice and a vegetable. I use the extra sauce to dip my chicken in as well!!

10.18.2011

Hot Hammie Sammies


Now, what would you expect a pasta lover to eat on National Pasta Day (which was yesterday, 10/17, by the way)?!! Probably not Hot Hammie Sammies huh? I have failed as a blogger and on National Pasta Day I failed to find a recipe to make in time. It's been hectic in our household lately and I just haven't had the time I want and need to read my food blogs and scour for new recipes to try. So I used what we had on hand and made this hot little number.

Hot Hammie Sammies are pretty freaking awesome sandwiches! They are quick, easy, delicious, and can be made ahead of time and popped in the oven when you are ready to eat. The sauce is buttery and mustardy (is that even a word?) and the bun is sweet and it really is a perfect combination. Normally I make these on little hawaiian rolls and they are great as an appetizer or to eat a couple (or 3 or 4) for a main dinner sandwich. Last night I didn't have those sweet hawaiian rolls so I just made them on kaiser rolls. And, to make sure I had something pasta related, I made a boxed pasta salad to go along with it. I never said I cook fancy food, just easy and delcious meals! ;)

Next time you have a party or need an easy dinner, try these out and let me know what you thought!

Hot Hammie Sammies
Source: Tee, a friend

Ingredients:
Sauce:
1 stick of butter
1.5 tbsps of yellow mustard
1 tbsp of minced onion
1/2 tsp of Worchestershire sauce
Poppy seeds

Sammies:
1 1b. ham
1 lb. swiss cheese (or about that much)
Buns or rolls (hawaiian rolls if you can find them or any small to medium sized roll that is sweeater)
Aluminum foil

Directions:
1. Preheat over to 350 degrees. Melt the butter in a small bowl. Once melted, add mustard, onion and Worchestershire.
2. Slice rolls in half. Spread some sauce on each side of the bun (I used a spoon and spread it around). Sprinkle poppy seeds on one or both sides of bun to your liking. 
3. Layer cheese and ham on bottom bun and replace the top bun.
4. Wrap each sammie in foil and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and serve warm!

**You can also leave them wrapped in the foil and they will stay warm for quite some time. Or you can wrap them up and put them in the freezer instead of baking them. They last about a month in the freezer before they get hit with freezer burn. When you want to bake them I just take them out of the freezer and bake them 12-15 minutes.

9.29.2011

Creamy Roasted Tomato Pasta


The other night Kurt was going to be at the UW Badger football game so I had a free night where I didn't need to worry about dinner for him. And as the saying goes, "when the cat's away the mouse will play!" When Kurt is gone I usually make pasta (duh) because I honestly could eat pasta every.single.night. One of my favorite blogs is Stephanie Cooks and she is as big of a fan of pasta as I am, probably one of the reasons I like to read her blog so much! She made this delicious Pasta with Marscapone and Roasted Grape Tomatoes that I had been eyeing up and figured that, since Kurt wasn't home, it was probably a good night to make it. So I picked Riglee up from daycare and stopped by the grocery store on the way home. Well, this is not my typical grocery store and when I went in there I found pasta that would work but I could not find marscapone cheese! Sadly this store did not carry marscapone cheese and the confused worker looked at me like I was from out of space asking for this "specialty" cheese. So I improvised on this recipe and used cheeses that I had at home instead.


I was actually surprised at how yummy this turned out and I am even more excited to try the Pasta with Marscapone and Roasted Grape Tomatoes now! This dish was very creamy with an underlying tomato flavor that was just delicious! I didn't have a full pint of tomatoes and I think having the full amount of tomatoes would have really kicked it up a notch. The cream cheese made this really creamy and the goat cheese added just enough tang to the sauce. The flavors really went well together, so well in fact that I had 2 full bowls and went back for thirds only to realize I should probably stop since I've eaten over half a pound of pasta by myself! Give it a try and let me know what you think!


Creamy Roasted Tomato Pasta
Source: Me, Adapted from Stephanie Cooks


Ingredients:
12 oz uncooked smaller pasta (I used Barilla tri-color rotini)
4 oz. reduced fat cream cheese
2 oz. goat cheese
1/4 cup white wine
1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes
olive oil (EVOO)
salt & pepper
garlic salt


Directions:
1. Halve tomatoes and place on a foil liked baking sheet. Drizzle with EVOO and add salt, pepper and garlic salt to your liking. Roast in a 375 degree oven for 20 minutes, stirring halfway through.
2. While the tomatoes are roasting, bring a pot of water to a boil. Once boiling add pasta and cook as directed to al dente. Reserve 1 cup of the cooking water and drain pasta.
3. When the tomatoes are done roasting, pour them and any EVOO into a big bowl. Mash them with a fork or a potato masher.
4. Add white wine to the tomatoes. Then add cream cheese and goat cheese and stir to get the cheeses to start melting. Add pasta to the pasta/cheese mixture and stir until both cheeses are completely melted and serve!


**You can add parmesan cheese to the mixture or sprinkle some on top for serving. Being as I'm from Wisconsin I firmly believe the more cheese the better!

7.26.2011

Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi (Copycat Recipe)


My husband definitely does NOT love pasta dishes like I do. I have to limit myself to one pasta dish every week at most or else he gets sick of eating pasta. Seriously, who gets sick of eating pasta? And how did I marry such a man?!!! Luckily, he has other redeeming qualities and I can overlook this one tiny flaw.

Imagine my surprise when Kurt asked me to make Pesto Cavatappi like he gets at Noodles & Company! I was stoked for two reasons: 1) Kurt was asking me to make a pasta dish and 2) I got to try a new recipe! I didn't have this recipe handy so I first went to the Noodles & Co. website and saw what was in the dish which looked simple enough. Next I did what any good super sleuth would do, I googled the recipe! I found the recipe at Yahoo Answers where a former Noodles & Co. cook posted his recipe and it looked very simple (yay!). The only issue is that he posted the recipe for a one person serving, I wanted to make a whole bunch of pasta. I ended up guestimating on the quantities and was lucky because it tastes pretty much exactly like it does at Noodles & Co.!! I made a side of shrimp for Kurt to add to his dish and he said it was absolutely perfect....he even went back for thirds!! There is nothing as exciting and fulfilling as trying a new recipe and it working out beautifully! 

Noodles & Company Pesto Cavatappi (Copycat Recipe)

Ingredients:
3/4 box cavatappi noodles (you can use any shapes you like but use a hearty noodle)
1/2 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 pint sliced mushrooms
1/3 cup white wine
1/4 cup cream
7 oz. pesto (I used store bought but I bet it would be amazing with homemade)
EVOO (Extra Virgin Olive Oil - hellooo, Amy!)
shredded parmesan cheese

Directions:
1. Cook pasta as directed on packaging.
2. While pasta is cooking, saute the tomatoes and mushrooms in about a tablespoon of EVOO.
3. When the pasta is almost done, add the wine to the tomatoes and mushrooms and reduce for 2 minutes. Then add the cream to the tomatoes and mushrooms and reduce for another 1-2 minutes. Add the pesto and stir well.
4. Drain pasta and add to the pesto mixture. Stir very well and let sit a minute to soak up the pesto.
5. Plate and top with shredded parmesan cheese!

7.24.2011

Penne with Peas, Bacon & Goat Cheese



Wowza, this was amazing! Like, I think I want to make it again tonight and tomorrow night amazing! Kurt was out of town on Friday night and I spent all day at home babysitting my niece and Riglee since daycare was closed. Do you know there is really not a lot on tv during the day? Well I do now. Luckily Food Network and the Cooking Channel had a few good shows on. I caught a glimpse of a couple pieces of an Everyday Italian episode and Giada made this Penne with Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese dish. It looked pretty darn good. So at 4:00pm when I was trying to decide what to make myself for dinner I thought about this dish. I definitely did NOT want to spend an hour prepping and roasting butternut squash but I definitely DID want this goat cheese sauce she made.

I picked my brain for what might be simple and delicious to go with this creamy goat cheese penne and the first thing that came to mind was panchetta and peas! Well panchetta costs and arm and a leg so I scratched that and cheaped it down to bacon. Don't worry, the bacon was a perfect match to the dish. The bacon was perfectly salty and crunchy, the peas were a sweet pop in your mouth and the goat cheese was tangy and creamy to tie it all together. Not to bad for the first meal I've really every just "thrown" together! Not only is this Kurt approved but my sister-in-law, who swears she DOES NOT like goat cheese, couldn't get enough of this pasta!! This is a quick and easy go-to meal when you want something simple with a gourmet feel. Yum-O!!

Penne with Peas, Bacon & Goat Cheese
Source: All Me!

Ingredients:
1/2 lb. mini-penne noodles
4 oz. goat cheese at room temperature
5 slices thick cut bacon (or panchetta)
1/4 cup onion
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 cup starchy cooking water, reserved

Directions:
1. Boil the water and start cooking the penne. When penne is almost done add peas to the water to heat up.
2. While the penne is cooking, slice bacon into about half inch strips and dice the onion. Saute bacon and when bacon is halfway done add the onion to cook. When the bacon is crispy and finished cooking, remove to a plate with a couple paper towel on it to get soak up the grease.
3. Put goat cheese in the bottom of a big bowl. When the penne is done, reserve about 1 cup of the cooking water. Spoon penne and peas into bowl with goat cheese. Add a little cooking water (maybe 1/4 cup) to help soften the goat cheese and make it creamier.
4. Add the bacon and onion and mix until the goat cheese is creamy and coating everything. Add more starchy cooking water if the goat cheese isn't melting or you want it creamier. Serve and enjoy!

7.14.2011

Tortilla Roll-Ups



A couple weeks ago I had to make an appetizer for a family gathering. I was at work and it was almost time to leave and I was heading to the grocery store after work. I was scouring my recipes online to see what appealed to me and I couldn't find an appetizer that was quick, easy and cheap. What's a girl to do?! Well, this girl asked her male co-workers. Luckily, my buddy Matt suggested these roll-ups and after a quick e-mail to his wife, I had the recipe in my hands!

I liked these tortilla roll-ups because they are actually really versatile and you can make them ahead of time and they are still very tasty. I'd like to try some additional add-ins and different flavors of cheese to mix it up a bit but it is yummy just the way the original recipe states. This is a great go-to appetizer when you are in a pinch!



Tortilla Roll-Ups
Source: Matt's wife


Ingredients:
Flour tortillas
1 (8oz) package of cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sour cream
1 ranch packet
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
3 tablespoons chopped black olives
Any add-ins: jalapenos, salsa, tomatoes, beans, chicken, etc


Directions:
1. Mix all ingredients.
2. Spread onto tortillas.
3. Wrap each tortilla in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Slice and serve!



7.04.2011

Berry Cheesecake Parfaits



I had been eyeing this recipe on Kraftfoods.com for quite some time. All the reviews were positive and it looked pretty easy to make. I think I was waiting for the berries to be in season so I didn't have to pay an arm and a leg for them. For the record, I like my food quick, easy, delicious, and CHEAP! I figured that since today is our nation's Independence Day and everything is red, white, and blue, this would be a perfect day to dive in. Not to mention the blueberries and strawberries were on sale!

This is an excellent summer dessert! It is light, creamy, fruity, and refreshing on a hot summer's day. I didn't have Cool Whip so I didn't add that but the dessert was still amazing. I think the Cool Whip just makes it a more fluffy and less dense pudding. This dessert would be a great addition to any potluck or dinner party if you put it in a trifle dish to serve a crowd. After making it I was thinking about all kinds of variations of it as well. You could do chocolate pudding with brownies, you could subsitute pound cake for Nilla wafers, you could use lemon pudding instead of vanilla for a more citrusy taste....the possibilities are endless! 


Ingredients:
1 package (8oz) cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups cold milk
1 package (3.4oz) Jell-O vanilla flavor instant pudding
1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip whipped topping, divided
24 Nilla Wafers, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 cups mixed blueberries and sliced fresh strawberries
 
Directions:
1. Beat cream cheese in medium bowl with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk.
2. Add dry pudding mix and mix well, about 2 minutes. Whisk in 1 cup Cool Whip.
3. Layer half of each of the wafers, berries and pudding mixture in parfait glasses. Repeat layers.
4. Top with a dollop of Cool Whip and garnish with berries.

6.12.2011

Noodles & Company Macaroni & Cheese (Copycat Recipe)


If you have ever been to Noodles & Company and had their Macaroni & Cheese, then you know that this stuff is like crack-cocaine for the mac & cheese lover! When you get this at Noodles & Co. it comes in a bowl that has the cheese sauce ladeled into the bottom, then they place the noodles on top and finally sprinkle some shredded cheese over everything. When you get it you immediately mix it up so that the shredded cheese can melt and bind it all together. Finally you dig in and get a big forkful of noodles, pull it up to your mouth and watch as the cheese just strings away from the dish. That first bite is like ooey gooey goodness as it all melts in your mouth!! I seriously think that sometimes I see rainbows when I'm eating this!! **salivating**

I have tried many many times to just replicate this dish without ever using a recipe and had failed every time. Yesterday Kurt was out of town and I had a serious craving for this mac & cheese. Finally I did what every good researcher does, I Googled this dish! Duh, this should have been something I did ages ago! I found the same copycat recipe on many websites so decided that it was probably good enough to try. I was pleasantly surprised when I made it, the cheese sauce was gooey and cheesy, the noodles cooked al-dente, and the cheese on top added a little extra flavor. I thoroughly enjoyed mixing this up and watching it turn into the most yummy macaroni and cheese ever!! Oh, and did I mention that it is super easy to make?! This has now turned into my go-to recipe for macaroni & cheese.

I should note that the cheese sauce is really thick, a lot thicker than Noodles & Co.'s sauce. I cut this recipe in half when I made it (still plenty for 2 people) and I made a roux with only 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour and it was still really thick. Next time I might try just heating the half and half then adding the cheese.



Noodles & Company Macaroni & Cheese (Copycat)

Ingredients:
1 lb. elbow noodles
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
3 cups half & half
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/4 tsp pepper (or to taste)
3 cups Monterey Jack or Colby Jack Cheese (I used Monterey Jack)
Directions:
1. Cook pasta according to package directions.
2. In a large saucepan melt the butter over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes, making a roux. Gradually whisk in half & half until thickened. Stir in salt (and pepper if you like).
3. Remove from heat and add cheese. Stir until cheese melts.
4. Ladel cheese into bottom of bowl. Spoon noodles on top. Sprinkle with fancy shredded cheese (monterey jack or mild cheddar is best).

5.24.2011

Portobello, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts


Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200. Just make these melts! These melts are amazing for so many reasons and you will discover all of them when you make this sandwich! These sandwiches are chock full of veggies and flavor, are super duper easy to make, and there is hardly any clean up involved! To top it off, this sandwich can be modified in so many ways, add meat, switch up the veggies, change up the cheese, make it into a panini...possibilities are endless!

I was worried Kurt would not be a huge fan of this dinner because there was no meat and Kurt is sort of your "meat and potatoes" kind of guy. He seemed a little skeptical but after the first bite all I heard was "mmmm" and a muffled "disissooogooooood" so I'm pretty sure that just about anyone will like this sandwich. If that is not enough evidence that you should make this, I gave this recipe to my co-worker who made it for her family. Her 16 year old son grumbled as she was making it and after the first sandwich he ate another sandwich and told my co-worker that this should go into the rotation (he also said that I have given so many delicious recipes I should open a restaurant - I love this kid!!)!

Portobella, Broccoli and Red Pepper Melts
Souce: Adapted from Annie's Eats

Ingredients:
1 bag broccoli florets (I used 1/2 bag)
1 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
1 pint baby portobellas, sliced (I bought the pre-sliced ones)
1 jar of roasted red pepper strips (or you can make your own)
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1/4 tsp garlic powder or fresh minced/pressed garlic
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
4 thick slices country bread
2-4 oz. muenster cheese, thinly sliced (whatever cheese you prefer works)

Directions:
1. Preheat a broiler with a rack placed 4-6 inches from the heat source. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the broccoli and mushrooms on the baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine. Broil 5-6 minutes then toss.

2. Add about 3/4 cup roasted red pepper strips to the mushrooms and broccoli. Broil another 6-7 minutes until the vegetables are tender. Set aside.

3. Meanwhile, combine the mayo and garlic in a small bowl, season with salt and pepper. Place the slices of bread on a work surface, drizzle each slice with some balsamic vinegar then spread each slice of bread with 1 tablespoon of the garlic-mayo mixture.

4. Top each slice of bread with the cooked veggies and then with a slice of cheese. Place the open-faced sandwiches on a foil lined baking sheet and broil until the cheese is melted and lightly browned.

**I made this sandwich again last night only added some goat cheese and used some buns that I had and made it into a normal sandwich. After the sandwich was assembled I put it in my George Foreman and made it into a panini for us....YUM-O!!!

5.15.2011

Layered Mocha Cheesecake



Honestly, after reading the title of this post do you really need to know why I wanted to make this cheesecake?! Well, since you are already here I might as well give you the story. For Easter this year, my in-laws got a huge suite at a hotel/water park in the Wisconsin Dells for the entire family to stay at. We were all in charge of bringing an appetizer. Well, there were going to be 4-5 appetizers so I decided I'd bring dessert. I had been eyeing a Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake from Kraftfoods.com but when I mentioned it to Kurt he said that he wanted a mocha cheesecake. I thought long and hard about what kind of cheesecake to make. In the end....I chose both!!! I am personally not a huge fan of mocha, or anything coffee flavored for that matter, but I am a sucker for my husband and love making him happy with my food. I searched a lot of websites for a good looking mocha cheesecake and, after what felt like forever, found this little gem! There was definitely more prep work involved with this cheesecake but man-alive it was totally worth it! The coffee flavor is not overpowering (which I was afraid of) and the chocolate crust with a chocolate cheesecake layer and chocolate on top.....divine! I think that next time I'd make the very top chocolate layer a ganache so it's a little creamier. Other than that, this was a perfect cheesecake!

Source: Food.com

Ingredients:
Crust:
1 1/2 cups crumbled cream-filled chocolate sandwich cookies (better yet, use Oreo crumbs)
1/4 cup butter, melted

Filling:
2 tbsp instant coffee granules & 1 1/2 tsp instant coffee granules 
1 tbsp boiling water
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
4-8oz packages cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/4 cup flour
4 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled

Glaze:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter
chocolate covered coffee beans (optional)

Directions:
1. Combine cookie crumbs and butter; press onto the bottom of a greased 9 inch springform pan.
2. In a small bowl, combine the coffee granules, water and cinnamon; set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar and flour until smooth. Add eggs; beat on low speed just until combined. Stir in vanilla. Divide batter in half.
4. Stir melted chocolate into one portion; pour over crust. Stir coffee mixture into the remaining batter; spoon over chocolate layer.
5. Place pan on a double thickness of heavy duty foil. Securely wrap foil around pan. Place in a large baking pan; add 1 inch of hot water to larger pan.
6. Bake at 325 for 45-50 minutes or until center is just set and top appears dull. Remove springform pan from water bath. Cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator and refrigerate overnight (this awesome trip prevents cracking!).
5. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt chocolate chips and butter; stir until smooth. Spread over cheesecake. Remove sides of pan. Garnish with coffee beans if desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

This is what my kitchen looked like as the cheesecake went in the oven...total disaster zone!!

5.10.2011

Welcome Summer! Steak & Goat Cheese Salad



Today was B-E-A-UTIFUL!! Summer has finally arrived (at least for a couple days) and it was a breath of fresh air. When the weather finally gets nice here in Wisconsin, I get inspired. I am inspired because there are fresh fruits and veggies at the grocery store, the farmers market start up at the capitol and they have amazing fresh food there....and I realize that I will actually have to get into a bathing suit very soon. This morning I was sitting at work wondering what the heck I was going to make for dinner tonight (very productive, I know). I didn't want anything heavy because it was hot and humid today, I wanted something easy because I don't have much time to cook, and I wanted something different than I've been doing all winter (i.e. pasta and chicken). All of a sudden it hit me, a steak salad with goat cheese! Light, filling, and full of flavor. I did not miss the mark with this one either. Serve this with some crusty bread and a glass of red wine and you have yourself a perfet summer evening dinner!!


In case you were wondering, this was husband approved times 10! He raved and raved while eating and said that we definitely have to make it again.

Steak & Goat Cheese Salad
Source: Cristina Original

Ingredients:
2 four oz steak fillets (or whatever steak you have on hand)
1 bag romaine lettuce, or any lettuce you prefer
1/4 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
2 oz goat cheese, crumbled
balsamic vinegarette to taste
Lawry's seasoned salt

Directions:
1. Preheat grill. Season steaks with Lawry's and cook steaks on grill until they reach desired doneness (ours were medium rare). Once done, leave on plate to cool to room temperature (about 5-10 minutes).
2. Add salad dressing to salad while in bag. Close bag and shake to cover all lettuce with dressing.
3. Pour salad into bowls. Sprinkle tomatoes and goat cheese on salad.
4. Slice steak into thin strips, place on salad, and serve!

5.06.2011

Slow Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta


This pasta is divine! There is nothing I love more than pasta.....except maybe a pasta this easy! I found this on another one of my favorite blogs, Stephanie Cooks. She always has simple, delicious, and (usually) healthy food. One night as I was scrolling through her blog, this picture caught Kurt's eye, which was a total surprise because he usually doesn't request pasta dishes.

I have been meaning to make this now for a week or so and last night I realized that if I didn't use my tomatoes they'd probably go bad. Unfortunately Kurt had plans so I ended up making this for myself and now I am glad I did because I had two helpings with leftovers for lunch! The flavor that the slow roasted tomatoes bring to the dish is wonderful. There is a subtle sweetness that they add to the pesto. I used store bought pesto but if you make your own I think this would be even better! The angel hair is nice because the sauce isn't heavy and a thicker noodle would make this a heavier dish. On top of all these amazing layers of flavor, the whole thing was very quick to pull together. A healthy, delicious, and quick dinner...yes please!


Ingredients:

1 pint cherry tomatoes
Olive oil
Salt
5 ounces chicken
Garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup pesto
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
Parmesan cheese


Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 250.
2. Wash the tomatoes, slice them in half, and lay them in an even layer on a foil lined baking pan.
3. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with salt.
4. Bake until the tomatoes shrivel and "pop", about 20-25 minutes.
5. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the angel hair according to directions.
6. Cut the chicken into pieces, toss with garlic powder, salt, and pepper.
7. Add some olive oil to a skillet, about 2 tbsp, and cook the chicken until cooked through. Remove from the pan and set aside.
8. Once the tomatoes are cooked, add them to a bowl and mash them with a potato masher or a fork, until they break apart and their juice comes loose. Pour the smashed tomatoes into the skillet.
9. Add the pesto, heat the tomato pesto mixture over medium/high heat. Add the angel hair and chicken, tossing until all is evenly coated.
10. Serve with parmesan cheese to taste.

4.19.2011

Bev's Macaroni and Cheese


So I don't know who ev is however I do know that this mac & cheese was pretty darn good! Kurt takes a golf trip every year and is gone for a little over a week. While I hate that his is away, I am allowed to cook whatever I want. This usually means that I eat pasta and drink wine for a week straight (I'm not complaining)! I was in the mood for some serious comfort food while he was gone and that could only mean one thing....macaroni & cheese. I have been looking for a really creamy and delicious macaroni & cheese recipe for some time now. I used to always add the cheese when the milk mixture was too hot so my cheese was always gritty. I've finally learned that I don't need to cook the milk and cheese on med-high heat to make it melt. I am also not a fan of eggs in my mac & cheese, specifically since I don't eat eggs by themselves. I'm always worried I'll end up with mac & cheese and scrambled eggs - yuck! My ideal macaroni & cheese would be along the lines of the Noodles & Co macaroni & cheese but I can't quite figure out how they make that delicious cheese sauce. If you know how to make this macaroni & cheese from Noodles you better post a comment with the recipe!!!

Anyhoo, I found this dish on one of my favorite new sites to search for recipes, Food.com. This macaroni & cheese is very cheesy and creamy, although not as creamy as I thought it'd be but that may be because I used too many noodles. I thought the flavor was good (even though I forgot to add the mustard) and it is definitely something I'd make again. I did find out that it does not re-heat very well so I'd probably half the recipe next time I make it. If you want some yummy comfort food this will fit the bill.



Bev's Macaroni and Cheese
Source: Food.com

Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp dry mustart
1/4 tsp pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
2 cups grated chedder cheese
8 oz dry elbow macaroni noodles, cooked according to package directions

Directions
1. Melt butter in medium saucepan. Stir in flour, salt, mustard, and pepper until smooth.
2. Remove from heat and gradually stir/whisk in milk until smooth.
3. Stirring constantly, cook over medium heat until thickened, about 10 minutes.
4. Remove from heat. Stir in 1 1/2 cups cheese until melted.

5. Combine cheese mixture with macaroni noodles and pour into a 2 quart casserole dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese on top.
6. Bake in 375 degree oven for 25 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.

4.12.2011

CUBcakes!!


In case you didn't notice, we are huge Cub fans (helloooo, we named our daughter Riglee!)! Every other year the Cubs play the Brewers at Miller Park very early in the season. It is always a good rivalry and always a lot of fun. And every other year, three families get together to tailgate and go to the game. The families are the Reulands, the Schmidts, and the Dickens...or as we now call ourselves, the Reuschmidtkens! We all sign up to bring a dish to share for tailgating and we all bring our own beverages [cough cough - cold beer].

This year I signed up to bring a corn/black bean salsa and some cupcakes. I had this great idea to make Cub themed cupcakes....or Cubcakes!!! My vision was a cupcake that the actual cake was a swirl of blue and red batter and then the top would be covered with buttercream and a fondant Cubs logo. In my mind, my cupcake would look like this:


Well, since I know nothing about fondant and didn't want to spend an arm and a leg figuring out how to make it, I decided I'd just make a buttercream logo. And lets be honest, there is no way I am a good enough artist to make the above cupcake...yet ;). So I decided that I would just make a regular cupcake with a homemade buttercream using this recipe from Wilton. I may be biased but they were pretty darn tasty! Let's just say that these Cubcakes were so good that even Brewer fans at work liked them!!

Source: Wilton

Ingredients
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter or margarine softened
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract
4 cups sifted confectioners' sugar (approximately 1 lb.)
2 tablespoons milk

Directions
(Medium Consistency)
1. In large bowl, cream shortening and butter with electric mixer. Add vanilla.
2. Gradually add sugar, one cup at a time, beating well on medium speed. Scrape sides and bottom of bowl often.
3. When all sugar has been mixed in, icing will appear dry. Add milk and beat at medium speed until light and fluffy. Keep bowl covered with a damp cloth until ready to use.

For best results, keep icing bowl in refrigerator when not in use. Refrigerated in an airtight container, this icing can be stored 2 weeks. Rewhip before using.


Makes about 3 cups of buttercream icing.

4.09.2011

Chicken Bundles


As you may know, I am part of a chat board for moms of July babies. These moms are just wonderful for so many reasons! We all share stories of our little ones, ask and answer questions about mommyhood, talk about the challenges we are facing in life....and share yummy recipes! This is one of those delicious recipes that had been shared. I saw the recipe pop up for the first time from one of the ladies as it is a staple in her house. After the recipe first posted, I'd see a new rave review pop up every day about this little bundle of yumminess! I have to admit, they do not disappoint. These chicken bundles are very easy to make and oh-so-tasty! If I make them again like this I will probably add mushrooms as well since we love mushrooms in this household. The other reason I like these bundles is because you can use any type of filling: pizza, mexican, italian, vegetarian...the list goes on and on really. Oh, definitely husband approved!




Ingredients:
1 sm pkg (about 1-1.5 lbs) chicken breasts, browned and chopped
1 8 oz package cream cheese
1 stick of butter
1 small jar of pimientos (I used green olives and chopped them up)
1/4 - 1/2 cup diced green onions
1 tsp minced garlic
salt & pepper to taste
2 cans Pillsbury crescent rolls (8 count)
2 Tbsp melted butter
Italian bread crumbs


Directions:
1. Soften cream cheese and butter and mix together in large mixing bowl.
2. Add pimientos, green onions, garlic, salt and pepper. Mix well.Add chicken and combine all ingredients.
3. Use 2 crescent roll triangles and seal perforations to make a rectangle. I usually try to make it as close to square shaped as possible.
4. Spoon chicken mixture into center (approx 1/4 cup). Pull corners together and seal. Place on a cookie sheet seam side down.
5. Brush bundles with melted butter and dust with bread crumbs.
6. Bake at 375 for 20-25 minutes

If you make these I'd love to hear what you think! Did you do anything different?

4.06.2011

Chicken Primavera with Pasta


So I have seen a bunch of commercials lately about this Philadelphia Cooking Creme and they have piqued my interest. I was searching Kraftfoods.com and saw that they had a bunch of recipes using this creme. As we all know, the easier and faster a meal is to make, the more I like it. This is one of those meals!! This dish has 4 ingredients and comes together so fast! The only issue I had with it is that the sauce is really thick. Next time I make it I will either add some of the starchy cooking water from the pasta or some chicken stock to the sauce to thin it out a little bit. Oh, and in case you were wondering, this is Kurt approved. He did have a suggestion of using angel hair pasta and adding shrimp too, both of which I think would be muy delicioso!

Chicken Primavera with Pasta
Source: Kraftfoods.com

Ingredients:
1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bitesize pieces
2 cups frozen stir-fry vegetables (I used broccoli, carrots, red peppers, & water chestnuts)
1 tub (10oz) Philadelphia Italian Cheese & Herb cooking creme (I used regular cooking creme)
2 cups hot cooked fettuccini (I used linguine and probably more than 2 cups)

Directions:
1. Cook and stir chicken in large nonstick skillet on medium heat 5 to 6 min. or until done. Add vegetables, cook 2 to 3 minutes or until heated through, stirring occasionally.
2. Add cooking creme (and chicken stock or starchy pasta water). Cook and stir 3 min.
3. Stir in pasta until completely coated. Serve and enjoy!

4.03.2011

Dump Cake

While the name is not all that appealing, this cake is soooo delicious! I'm sure you've had it before, it has 5 ingredients and you basically just dump them all in a pan and bake away! Easy peasy and oh so yummy. Yesterday, while nursing a hangover, Kurt turned to me and asked me to make Dump Cake. Since my husband is not really a dessert guy, and even less of a cake guy, I was stunned and very excited....I had an excuse to make cake! So we took a family trip to the grocery store, picked up the ingredients for the cake and for dinner and hurried home. I was not only excited to make this cake because I love cake, I was also excited because I knew it would make my house smell divine! Well, we ended up going to a friend's house for a cookout (first one of the year...let the grilling begin!) and didn't get home until 9pm so we couldn't make the cake. So first thing this morning I assembed and started baking it. My house smells warm and wonderful and the cake tastes even better!

Dump Cake
Source: Mother-In-Law (not sure where she got it)

Ingredients
1 can crushed pineapple in 100% pineapple juice
1 can cherry pie filling
1 box yellow cake mix
1 cup chopped pecans
2 sticks of butter
(I said it was delicious, not healthy)

Directions
1) In a 9x13 pan, layer and spread out the crushed pineapple and the cherry pie filling.
2) Sprinkle the yellow cake mix on top of the fruit then sprinkle the nuts on top of the cake mix.
3) Slice the butter and lay it out on top of the nuts.
4) bake for 1 hour at 350 degrees. Serve and enjoy!

~~It tastes best served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream!
~~If you have made this cake and have a different name for it I'd love to know what you call it, Dump Cake is not very appetizing. ;)

Clearly this was a winner!

4.01.2011

White Fish Tacos



It's that time of year again, time to start eating healthy so I can fit into my bathing suit (that I haven't worn for 2 years!). While breastfeeding did help me lose the initial weight, things are still a little.......soft :/. To combat this "softness" I started working out last weekend. Sadly, since it's been so long since I last worked out, I was sore from Sunday through Wednesday, completely preventing me from working out. I actually did so may push-ups that my elbows were so sore I couldn't straighten my arms! What?! I didn't even know that your elbows could hurt as bad as mine did!

Anyhoo, if I'm not going to be working out, I should probably start eating healthy. Enter fish tacos! Last week Friday I was craving some fish. We didn't want to get a fish fry (fry? that is not on the health food menu) so I suggested making fish tacos. Plus, I saw a few recipes that looked awesome. I decided to try this one from Annie's Eats, she hasn't let me down yet so I knew they'd be delicious!



Source: Annie's Eats

Ingredients:
For the fish:

2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
3 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 tbsp. minced cilantro
¼ tsp. cumin
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 lb. white fish (halibut, cod, tilapia, etc.)
Salt
(I'd personally add a few more spices before cooking the fish to give it more flavor)

For the cilantro cream sauce:
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. cilantro, minced
6 oz. nonfat greek yogurt (sour cream is fine too)
1 clove garlic, minced
Pepper, to taste


For serving:
Cherry tomatoes, quartered
Green onions, chopped (I omitted)
Red cabbage, shredded (I used lettuce)
(Or whatever sounds good to you!)
6-inch flour tortillas

Directions:
1) Combine the lime juice, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and garlic in a pie plate or shallow dish. Whisk together until well blended. Place the fish in the mixture, turning to coat. Let marinate 15-30 minutes.


2) Meanwhile, prepare the cilantro cream sauce. Combine the lime juice, cilantro, greek yogurt, garlic and pepper in a small bowl. Mix until well blended. Refrigerate until ready to use.

3)Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Place the fish in the pan and cook without disturbing, 3 minutes. Flip the fish and cook on the second side 2-3 minutes more. Remove to a plate, season with salt as desired, and let rest for a few minutes. Shred the fish into bite-sized pieces with two forks.


4)Assemble tacos on flour tortillas with shredded fish, cilantro cream sauce and toppings as desired.