Sunday, August 10, 2014

Trattoria Spaghetti

Scott just got home from his fraternity's alumni golf weekend. I had a pretty laid back weekend-a good friend, Julie had her bridal shower which was so cute! Great brunch (and sangria!) from Thunder Bay-I'd definitely recommend it for your next gathering!

The Sangria!

Super cute. I LOVE the tags :)

Flowers in Julie's wedding colors :)

A very sunny picture of Megan & I
 After the shower, I had a busy weekend of cleaning and organizing the apartment. I had been wanting to clean out our storage closet and spare bedroom forever. It seems as though we never truly unpacked in the spare room. Now it looks like a bedroom a bit more!

After all that this weekend, I just wanted to have a relaxing night once Scott got home. This meal takes about 20 minutes. It has a lot of veggies in it, and still a lot of flavor without a ton of fat for you. It's also meatless, which I'd like to try to do a few more times a week when possible! I changed up the recipe (which I put below) with what vegetables I have on hand. You can certainly add whatever you'd like to it!

Trattoria Spaghetti-adapted from 365 Last-Minute Meals by Better Homes and Gardens
Total Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 9 ounces dry spaghetti
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 green pepper, diced
  • 3 tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 2 ounces crumbled feta cheese with garlic and herbs

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain then return to pan or a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, mushroom and pepper and stir for about a minute. Add in tomatoes and carrot. Cook, covered for about 5 minutes, stirring occassionally.

Add tomato mixture to pasta and mix thoroughly. Stir in feta cheese.

Heat's Homemade: Laundry Detergent

I got this recipe from a good friend of mine. I am never, ever going back to store-bought laundry detergent. I paid about $30 to get this all put together. I started using it at the beginning of the year, and we aren't even half way through it! It works just as good as regular detergent, and smells great. It's a bit of a pain to make, but totally worth it. You just need to make sure you have a really big storage container for it!

Laundry Detergent

  • 4 pound, 12 ounce box of borax
  • 3 pound, 7 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda
  • 3 pound container of Oxy Clean
  • 28.2 ounces Ivory Bar Soap, grated
  • 4 pound box Arm & Hammer Baking Soda
  • 55 ounce bottle of Purex Crystals Fabric Softener
Mix all ingredients together in a large container. User 1-2 tablespoons per load.

Peach and Blueberry Tart

I don't have a true tart pan, so I used a standard pie plate for this recipe. It was a fine recipe, but not something I would have to make again.

Peach and Blueberry Tart-adapted from Taste of Home
Total Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Serves 12

  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 2 cups frozen blueberries, thawed
  • 2 cups frozen sliced peaches, thawed
  • 1 tablespoon honey
Crumb topping
  • 1/4 all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup old fashioned oats
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a small bowl, mix the flour, sugar and cinnamon; stir in butter just until blended. Press onto the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack.

In a large bowl, combine the blueberries, peaches and honey. Toss to cotat. In a small bolw, combine all the cumb topping ingredients.

Spoon fruit mixture into crust. Top with crumb topping. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and filling is bubbly. Cool on a wire rack before serving.

Try Again: Cream Cheese Banana Bread

I have had the worst luck baking lately. I don't know why, but things just haven't been working out. I didn't even take a picture of this failure. The bread overflowed the pan AND then (not surprisingly) it didn't cook all the way through. The top that was cooked did taste really good, so I'll definitely try again-probably in two bread pans.

Cream Cheese Banana Bread-adapted from A Cook's Quest
Total Time: 1 hour
Makes 1 loaf

  • 3/4 cup softened butter
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix the butter, cream cheese and sugar until well blended. Add the eggs and mix until blended. Add the remainder of the dry ingredients and mix until just blended. Mix in bananas and vanilla.

Pour mixture into a greased bread pan. Bake for about an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Nacho Chicken Rolls

I don't think I've ever made stuffed chicken. The chicken breasts I had for this recipe were gigantic. I really had to pound them down! If you can buy chicken cutlets, that would make it much easier. The recipe was a bit messy, but totally worth it in the end! Putting the crunch, cheese and refried beans together with chicken made my night!

Nacho Chicken Rolls - adapted from 300 Under 300
Total Time: 55 Minutes
Serves 6

  • 1 can fat free refried beans
  • 1/4 cup fat free cheddar cheese
  • 6 wedges Laughing Cow swiss cheese
  • 1/2 cup bran cereal
  • 8 tortialla chips, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon taco seasoning
  • 2 dashes cayenne pepper
  • Six chicken breasts or cutlets, pounded to 1/3 inch thickness
  • 1/4 cup taco sauce
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9x11 inch baking pan with cooking spray and set aside.

To make the filling, combine the refried beans and both cheeses in a medium bowl. Mix thoroughly and set aside.

In a food processor, grind the cereal to a breadcrumb-like texture. Add chips, taco seasoning and cayenee pepper and pulse slightly. Transfer to a plate.

Lay chicken on a clean, flat surface. Spoon the filling into the center of the chicken. Carefully roll each over the filling and secure with toothpicks. Cover each cutlet with 1 tablespoon taco sauce then roll in the crumb mixture. Gently transfer to the baking pan.

Cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove fil and bake for another 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.

Beef Stroganoff

I finally made a beef stroganoff recipe that didn't suck! The first few times I've tried since we moved back to the Milwaukee area (three years ago), they failed miserably. I thought this recipe had really great flavor! I think I'll use a true can of cream of mushroom soup next time. I've been using this mix, but I wanted it to be just a tad thicker! I served with potatoes, but you can serve with pasta too (I prefer egg noodles). I'm not sure where I got the recipe, so no credit, unfortunately.

Beef Stroganoff
Total Time: 7 hours
Serves 4

  • 1 1/2 pounds stew meat, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons cooking sherry
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 1 cup onion, diced
  • 1 pound mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 cup fat free sour cream
  • Pasta or potatoes for serving
Place all ingredients except pasta and potatoes in a 5-quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beef is cooked through. Serve with pasta or potatoes.

Salmon with Quick Ratatouille

I absolutely loved this recipe! The ratatouille is one of the best things I've ever made! The salmon turned out perfectly too. It's a super quick recipe that's a real meal! And, I think my picture looks pretty close to the one in the recipe book too!

Salmon with Quick Ratatouille-adapted from 30-Minute Dinners by Better Homes and Gardens
Total Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 4 salmon fillets
  • Penzey's Trinidad Marinade and seasoned pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small eggplan, peeled and cubed
  • 14.5 ounce can stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
  • 1/2 tablespoon seasoned pepper
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Sprinkle fish with the trinidad marinade and seasoned pepper. Place on a baking sheet and bake until fish begins to flake (about 4-6 minutes per 1/2 inch thickness).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add zucchini, eggplant, tomatoes and seasonings. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Serve with fish.

Tuna Chef's Salad

For one of my shower's my cousin gave me a wonderful salad set. I was so excited to finally use it! When I made this salad, I figured it was going to be just another salad-nothing special about it. Was I wrong! I thought the tuna really added to it and made it flavorful. We also made some killer hard boiled eggs to go with it!

Tuna Chef's Salad-adapted from 5 Ingredient 15 Minute Recipes by Pillsbury
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 9 ounces iceberg lettuce
  • 10 ounces tuna, drained if in a can
  • 4 hard-boiled eggs, sliced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • Croutons and dressing of your choice for serving, optional
In a large salad bowl, arrange tuna, eggs, carrots, cheese, and crutons over the lettuce. Serve on four plates with dressing of choice on the side.

Sausage Rolls

I don't know why, but I was a bit nervous to make this dish. They turned out absolutely fantastic! I remember eating them and just saying, "this is one of the best things I've made in awhile!" The best part is, it could really be made with your favorite ingredients-olives, ground beef instead of Italian sausage, cheese, whatever you want! The puff pastry makes it just decadent. I dipped my rolls in ranch, but you could use your favorite condiment.

Sausage Rolls-adapted from Every Day with Rachael Ray
Total Time: 45 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 3 Italian sausage links, casings removed
  • 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thrawed but chilled
  • 1 egg, beaten
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Crumbe the sausage into a large bowl and mix in bread crumbs and bell pepper.

Line a work surface with parchment paper. Set the puff pastry on top and roll into an 11-inch square. Cut the pastry in half. Roll sausage mixture into 11-inch logs and place one log on each half of the pastry. Brush the long side of the pastry with the egg. Wrap the sausage in the pastry, press the seam to seal, but do not seal the short ends.Transfer to the baking sheet, seam side down. 

Brush the tops with the remaining egg. Bake until puffed and golden, 25-30 minutes. Quarter each roll. Serve with ranch or your favorite condiment.

Beef and Lentil Bake

I don't know that I've ever had lentils in my life. I was a bit worried about this recipe, but figured I'd give it a try. Truth be told, Scott nor I really loved it but maybe it's just an aquired taste. I'm not quite sure :) We used the leftover beef from the 40 Clove Garlic Beef-I love those secondary uses!

Beef and Lentil Bake-adapted from The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbook by Erin Chase
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves 4

  • 1 cup green lentils
  • 2 cups shredded, leftover, cooked beef roast
  • 1 cup white rice, cooked
  • 8 ounces tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons white distilled vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium saucepan, add the green lentils and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer, tightly covered, for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Drain.

In a small bowl, whisk the tomato sauce, brown sugar, vinegar and Worcestershire sauce. Spray an 8x8 inch glass baking dish with cooking spray. Combine the lentils, rice, beef and sauce. Top with cheese. Bake for 20 minutes or until cheese has melted.

Green Beans with Balsamic, Mushrooms and Parmesan

Seeing the title of this just made me want to eat it. On top of that, I found this on Pinterest, so, of course, the original poster's image is amazing! A great new twist for your side dishes. I put this together the night before, covered & put in the fridge, and had Scott put it in the oven once we were ready to eat. It worked out great!

Green Beans with Balsamic, Mushrooms and Parmesan-adapted from Kalyn's Kitchen
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 6

  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 pound frozen french green beans
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, grated
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except for the cheese. Toss to coat well. Place mixture on a large cookie sheet. Roast for 20-30 minutes or until beans are tender-crisp. Top with parmesan cheese.

40 Clove Garlic Beef

As I've said many times before, the slow cooker is my friend. This recipe takes a bit of extra preparation by peeling the garlic cloves, but it's so worth it! The roast is so incredibly tender and flavorful. I love eating the cloves! I served this with mashed potatoes and the cooking liquid was a great 'gravy'. I'm putting it in quotes because it's a bit thinner than normal gravy :)

40 Clove Garlic Beef-adapted from The MotherHOOD
Total Time: 7 hours
Serves 6
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, cut into rings
  • 1 1/2 pound round beef roast
  • 40 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 2 1/2 cups beef stock
  • Kosher salt and black pepper to taste
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil

In a medium skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic for about 5 minutes or until fragrant. Remove and set aside. 

Place beef in a 5-quart slow cooker. Top with the remainder of ingredients. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or until beef is cooked through and tender. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Tex-Mex Chicken Salad

I could not believe how unbelieveably good this chicken salad was. It's a Weight Watcher's recipe too, so if you follow the serving guidelines it's good for you as well! It's super fast and keeps well as leftovers too, so you could definitely make it at the beginning of the week for your lunch!

Tex-Mex Chicken Salad-adapted from Weight Watchers
Total Time: 25 Minutes
Serves 6

  • 1 1/4 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup fat free mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup fat free sour cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 orange pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake chicken in a casserole dish for about 25 minutes or until no longer pink inside. Cut into bite-sized pieces.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine mayonnaise, sour cream, cumin and chili powder. Stir in the remainder of ingredients. You can chill for up to two hours for best results, but we ate it right away. 

Farmer's Casserole

I recently finished up having all my wedding showers. They were ah-ma-zing! Here's just a few pictures from my trip to Eau Claire to prep for the wedding, and then the weekend in Minneapolis where I had two beautiful showers and felt so blessed to be surrounded by friends and family!

Beer Cheese Soup from Acoustic Cafe. Pretty much the recipe we've been trying to recreate for years (and we've been unsuccessful at it :(

The absolutely stunning, Pinterest-perfect towel cake that my cousin (and Maid of Honor) gave to me. I was so sad to take it apart.

My parent's cat, Dash. Such a weird cat that's obsessed wtih rubber bands. She won't eat them but plays with them constantly.

My mother and I before the shower my Maid of Honor threw me!

The next weekend, Scott's sister and mom threw me yet another wonderful shower! My parent's drove to Milwaukee from Minnesota to be there. My mom and I went to Savvy Bride to try on my dress and all my accessories for her. While we were doing that, I put this egg casserole in the oven and my dad and Scott played cards. We then sat down as a family to eat this fantastic brunch! It was a bit heavy on the potatoes for our taste, but I'd definitely make it again because it hit the spot on Saturday, and for a few days after at work as leftovers as well! Add your favorite omlet toppings and cheeses to make it your own.

The Farmer's Casserole. Plus, our newly gifted plates & silverware. I LOVE that I know have nice looking pictures with white placeware :)

Farmer's Casserole-adapted from Recipe Girl
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves 8

  • 32 ounces frozen hashbrowns
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  • 2 cups cooked diced ham
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
  • 8 large eggs, beaten
  • 24 ounces evaporated skim milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • Sour cream or salsa for serving, if desired.
Grease a 9x11 inch baking dish. Arrange potatoes in the bottom of the dish. Sprinkle with cheese, ham and mushrooms. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk, salt and pepper. Pour over potato mixture.

At this point you can refrigerate the dish overnight if you wish. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake, uncovered for 45-55 minutes if not chilled, 50-60 minutes if chilled first. Serve with sour cream and salsa, if desired.

Greek Quinoa Salad

This salad puts two of our favorite things together-Greek flavors and quinoa. It's super hearty and protein-packed.I could probably make it every week and be happy!

Greek Quinoa Salad-adapted from Lulu's Recipe Box
Total Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cucumber, diced
  • 1/3 cup kalamata olives, sliced
  • 1 small red onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
In a medium saucepan add water and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium heat and boil for about 5 minutes. Simmer for another 15 minutes or until the water is absorbed. 

In a large bowl, combine the rest of the ingredients, tossing to coat. Add cooked quinoa and toss thoroughly.

Heat's Homemade: Bone Broth

For a long time now, I've wanted to make my own chicken broth. It just seems so silly to spend the money on cans of broth when I could make it for free. So, to prep, I started saving the chicken bones from our dinners in gallon freezer bags and putting them in the freezer. Once the entire bag was full, I decided to give it a try.

It turned out absolutely wonderful! It's rediculously easy, as you'll see. Just put a bunch of stuff, a lot that you will already have on hand, in a slow cooker. Then cook it for 24 hours, put it into freezer safe jars, and you're done!

I've started saving the chicken bones again. I'll probably save beef bones too-you can do the same thing-never buy those cans again!

Bone Broth-adapted from Don't Mess With Mama
Total Time: 24 hours
Makes about 6 cups

  • 1-2 pounds beef or chicken bones (about a gallon freezer bag full)
  • 2-3 carrots, largely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, largely chopped
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon peppercorns
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Water
In a 5-quart or larger slow cooker add all ingredients and fill to the top with water. Cook on low for 24 hours. Carefully strain through a metal strainer or cheesecloth into a large pot or bowl. Dish into freezer safe containers and use in place of broth or stock.


As I was started to register for wedding gifts, I was telling my mom I was thinking of registering for a waffle maker. Even though Scott and I tend to stay pretty basic for our weekend breakfasts (eggs, bacon, toast), every once in awhile I want to try something new, or do breakfast for dinner! Instead of me registering for a new one, my mom gave me hers that was barely used. I'm pretty sure it's from their wedding (26 years ago!), but it works fantastically!

I loved this recipe. It was extremely easy to make, and makes about 3 waffle irons full (my waffle iron makes four smaller waffles, so this was about 12 waffles for us).

Waffles-adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Total Time: 20 Minutes
Serves 5

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Syrup and butter for serving
In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, baking soda and sugar. Add in milk, vegetable oil, egg and vanilla extract and whisk until well blended. Heat up your waffle iron and cook according to package directions. Serve with syrup and butter as desired.


More veggies from Growing Power! I made coleslaw with a head of cabbage. It was a great, go-to recipe!

Coleslaw-adapted from Add a Pinch
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 1 cup Miracle Whip
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons white distilled vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon celery seed
  • 1 head shredded cabbage
  • 1 bag shredded carrots
  • 1 small onion, diced
In a large bowl, combine Miracle Whip, buttermilk, vinegar, sugar, salt, black pepper and celery seed. Whisk until well blended and smooth. Add cabbage, carrots and onion and mix thoroughly. Serve immediately or chilled prior to serving.

Orzo Salad with Kale and Tomatoes

Orzo is one of my favorite pastas. I remember the first time I made it (for my parents-recipe here), I was really nervous because I had never heard of it before. It's easy to make and tastes delicious as a salad. Adding kale and tomatoes to this dish was another wonderful gift from Growing Power! I LOVED it. It was hearty and delicious.

Orzo Salad with Kale and Tomatoes-adapted from Tasty Kitchen
Total Time: 30 Minutes
Serves 4

  • 1 cup dried orzo
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1/2 bunch kale, stems removed
  • 3 roma tomatoes
  • 2 ounces Parmesan cheese, shredded

In a large pot, cook orzo according to package directions. Meanwhile, add olive oil to a small pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and stir just until fragrant. Let oil cool.

In a large bowl, combine cooked orzo, kale tomatoes, cheese and the cooled garlic oil. Toss until well blended. Can be served hot or cold.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Corn on the Cob-Boiled

Corn on the cob is a staple of summer. Scott isn't a huge fan as he doesn't like the corn getting stuck in his teeth, so I don't buy it very often. We'll usually have it at his dad's for Sunday cookouts. I got two ears of corn from Growing Power, so I decided to give it a try!

Our grill has been out of commission for some time. We haven't quite figured out what's going on with it. Scott either needs to spend a day looking at it, or we'll solely use our mini Weber. I decided to Google some other ways to make corn on the cob. I found this recipe for boiling it, and it was quick and delicious! You don't get quite the charred feel as on the grill, but it takes about 10 minutes, and it's done!

Corn on the Cob-Boiled-adapted from Epicurious
Total Time: 10 Minutes
Serves-as many as you want :)

  • Ears of corn
  • Butter and salt for serving
Fill a stockpot large enough for all the ears of corn with water, and put on the stove to boil. Husk the ears of corn, making sure all the silky threads are pulled off. Place ears into boiling water and boil for at least 5 minutes. Serve with butter and salt.


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