Sunday, July 31, 2011

Busy Last Few Days

My husband works every other week. On his weeks off we try to pack as many things in as possible. On Thursday I had plans to go with my girlfriend on a scenic boat ride around Milwaukee but she cancelled on me and I was forced to take my hubby instead lol! Did I mention it was using Groupons most of the week?
Groupons are a discounted coupon available in most areas.

Our next Groupon stop was John Hawk's Pub in downtown Milwaukee. I was unimpressed. We sat inside or attempted to. We didn't know where to go and there was no one inside. Finally a hostess told us to go wait out in the waiting room. I am not sure why? We waited a few minutes and were seated only to wait about 10 more minutes for someone to wait on us. The service was incredibly slow. The food was so so. Not somewhere I want to eat again.
Friday I had off work. It was another fully packed day. We had ressies to get my daughter's pics taken at hte Picture People with yes, another Groupon. Beforehand we stopped to use a Groupon at Takera Sushi restaurant. We got there a bit before 4:30PM and didn't realize they weren't open yet.

We had some time to kill and I realized I hadn't cut my daughter's finger nails. There was a salon right there named Polished. I came in an the male receptionist was outside and said he would be right with me. I asked if someone could cut my daughter's fingernails and he said "No. We are all booked." This is literally something that would have taken them 2 minutes to do but since the receptionist was so rude I will never go back again. He literally could have handed me a clippers and I would have done it myself.

Finally our restaruant was open and I didn't take my camera lol! The food was very good. My oldest daughter and her friend had the shrimp tempura. Thankfully it was on the kids menu because the adult price was $18.00. My hubby had the chicken terriyaki. And I had the sushi plate with an eel and avocado roll and some pieces of Naguri.

We got to the mall around 5:30PM and checked in with the Picture People. Luckily they had two cancellations! We were able to get in right away and didn't have to wait for our pictures. This was another awesome Groupon deal.
After dinner we headed to use our last Groupon. It was at Cold Spoons Gelato. We had gone to use this Groupon previously but they were not open. I chose a Snickers flavor and Salted Caramel flavor. Both were delicious. My youngest tried the Smurfberry.

All in all it was a fun last few days. Back to the grind tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken and Shrimp Etouffee' Hits the Spot

I have long been a fan of Southern cooking. As a child my Mom waitressed at a restaurant named Vnuks. That was my first taste of Cajun food. I was willing and still am willing to try everything and anything. I have passed on that trait to my kids thankfully.

It's still very hot here but I made this dish with just the right amount of spice. I leave it toned down with spice for my family and have a bottle of hot sauce available at the table. The dish itself comes together in about 15 minutes.

Chicken and Shrimp Etouffee'

1 boneless skinless chicken breast cubed
1/2 bag shrimp devained (I am using precooked devained)
2 Andouille sausage links cut into coins (used Johnsonville)
2 cups chicken stock
2 TBSP tomato paste
2 Bay leaves
hot sauce
1/4 cup Canola oil
1/4 cup flour
1 onion diced
1 clove of garlic minced
1 green pepper diced
2 stalks celery diced
salt and pepper
white rice

Save time by having all your ingredients ready to go. I make my rice in a rice cooker. That's one less thing I have to worry about. In a large frying pan add the oil. Once shimmering add the flour and brown for 2-3 minutes stirring with a whisk to prevent lumping. Next add the veggies. Stir into the flour and brown for another 3 minutes. Add the 2 TBSP tomato paste and sausage and brown for another minute. Now add the chicken stock and Bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. Add the cubed chicken and cook for 5 minutes more on medium heat or until the chicken cubes are no longer pink. Lastly add the shrimp. Since they are precooked you only need to bring them to temperature. Serve over rice.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Crock Pot Meatball Subs, Tabbouleh, and Falafel

It was a week from hell this past week. The weather here in Milwaukee was unbearable. Temps were near one hundred and the dew point was very high. That made for a week of quick meals that didn't require baking or much use of the kitchen. This week is going to be in the 80's temp wise. I have a few things planned like clothes shopping and a cruise of Lake Michigan with my friend made all the much better with alcohol.

On Friday I also took my daughter to an organic food store called the Outpost. My normal grocery store stopped carrying Falafel mix and Tabbouleh which is a Bulgar wheat that you make into a salad. I thought the prices were pretty reasonable actually. I am used to instant Tabbouleh. This one it said to boil for 20 minutes. Now I see other recipes on the Internet that don't require boiling. My salad did come out well though. I made enough to last me all weekend. The tabbouleh was not mushy and came out the way it was suppose to. I used 4 cups of water and two cups of Tabbouleh.
Bulgar Wheat with tomato, mint, seedless cucumber, lemon juice and EVOO

For dinner Friday my daughters and I had Falafel balls in pita pockets with cucumber, tomato, and tahini (a sesame paste) My hubby had left over Jerk chicken stew.

Friday was supposed to be meatball sub night. When I went to use the French bread on Saturday, one was a total loss. Well a total loss for the subs. I used the stale bread to make garlic bread crumbs later that night.

I started out first by making the meat balls. I used a pound and a half of ground chuck and this pre-made Bertoli sauce. I really like the taste of their sauce!
I browned the balls on the stove before placing in crock pot

Crock Pot Meat Ball Subs

1 1/2 lbs ground chuck or meat of your choosing
1 cup Italian bread crumbs
1 egg
1 cup chopped mushrooms
cheese (I used Gorgonzola)
1 loaf French Bread
1 jar Bertoli pasta sauce

Brown meatballs in olive oil on all sides on stove top. Move to crock pot and add your favorite sauce and mushrooms. Cook on high for 4 hours. Cut bread into three pieces. Cut down the middle and scoop out the insides of the bread. Add meatballs and sauce and your favorite cheese. Crisp for 5 minutes in a 350 degree oven to melt the cheese.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Spicy Jerk Chicken Stew..Turn Up The Heat!

I am a big fan of Andrew Zimmern and "Bizarre Foods" on the TravelChannel. This week he visited Jamaica. It just so happens I got this recipe from in my email this week about a Jerk stew. One of my husbands' favorite dishes is Arroz con Pollo. This dish is a take on grandma's chicken fricasse'. It does have a kick though even though I removed all the seeds and spines. You may want to use one whole jalapeno diced and seeds removed instead. My whole family ate this dish however. We like the spice!

Jerk Chicken Stew

5 Habeneros diced or 1 jalapeno seeded and diced
2 TBSP fresh thyme
1 bunch green onion
2 TBSP Allspice powder (otherwise you will be fishing out the seeds)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp nutmeg
1/2 c vinegar
1 c beer
2 cups chicken stock
3 cups water
3 cloves garlic
2 TBSP flour
1 onion diced
4 carrots chopped
4 ribs celery
2 lg sweet potatoes cut into chunks
5 pieces chicken thighs
5 pieces chicken drumsticks
olive oil 1/4 cup plus 2 TBSP

Note: be sure not to touch your face or eyes after you touch the habenero!

First thing get all the prep out of the way. Chop all your veggies. Keep the carrots celery, onion, and garlic, on one plate. Chop the sweet potatoes into large chunks.

In a food processor add the thyme(stems included), Allspice, habeneros, salt and pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and about 1/4 cup olive oil. Begin to grind into a paste. Make sure you have the feed whole covered. You do not want to get this in your eyes!

notice I used whole Allspice

Next begin to brown the chicken pieces. Season each with salt and pepper.  Heat about Each batch takes about 10 minutes to brown. The chicken will not release from the bottom of the pot until it's ready to be turned. Leave the juices in the pot.

After all the pieces are browned remove them to a ceramic plate. Throw in all the veggies except for the sweet potatoes.

Brown for 2-3 minutes. Add the flour and stir in. Brown for another two minutes. Next add in the Jerk paste and brown for 1-2 minutes. Add the beer, vinegar, water, and stock. Also add the sweet potatoes and make sure they are covered by broth. Add the chicken back in and the juices from the plate. Cook on medium high flame for 1 hour. Serve over white rice with cornbread.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

This is one of our absolute favorite boneless skinless chicken breast recipe. It has been extremely hot here so I have been keeping actual cooking to a bare minimum. We have a air conditioner in our living room that has been on for four days!

Blue Cheese Stuffed Chicken Breasts

4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup blue cheese crumbled
salt and pepper
indoor grill

Note: I have an indoor grill that cooks from the bottom and top at the same time. You can also pan brown these and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes or until no longer pink.

Using your hand hold the chicken breast down and with a knife slice sideways to the middle of the chicken breast making a pocket. Dump the blue cheese in a bowl and stuff each breast with 1/4-1/2 cup blue cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Grill on a indoor grill with both a top and bottom for 10 minutes. About half way through I turn the chicken sideways to make hatch marks.

Monday, July 18, 2011

This Week is All About Quick Meals...Black Bean, Chicken, Avocado, Quesadillas

OMG! Wisconsin as much of the rest of the U.S. is going through a heat wave. I work in a public school building that doesn't have air conditioning. I brought my daughter with me to work today and she quickly became ill. I ended up going home from work early and threw her right in the shower. I really don't want to go back there! Besides that  I really hate to see my electric bill this month! I have had the air running for 24 hours straight!

The theme of the week is spending less time in the kitchen and more time in front of the A/C! Last night I threw together some Black Bean, Chicken, and Avocado Quesidillas. The black beans I defrosted from my freezer and I still had a half a head of lettuce left from our turkey B.L.T. night. Avocado's are something I enjoy. In fact I ate a avocado and mayo on toast sandwich today for lunch. Dinner today is crock pot pork tenderloin with gravy and mashed potatoes.

Here is the recipe:

Black Bean, Chicken, and Avocado Quesadillas

1 pk flour tortillas
2 chicken breasts (boneless skinless)then cubed
1 whole avocado cut into slices
1 can black beans (if using canned drain and rinse)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp garlic salt
sour cream
1/2 head lettuce chopped
1 cup shredded cheese
salsa (optional)
a egg pan
and a ceramic plate

In a medium sized frying pan add the EVOO and chicken. Brown until no longer pink. Season with the garlic salt and cumin. In a omelet sized pan spray the bottom with PAM. Add one of the tortillas. Place a handful of cheese on the bottom. Next add the chopped lettuce, chicken, black beans, and cheese. Lay a tortilla on top. Let brown on a medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Flip by covering with a plate and inverting it. Brown the other side of the quesadilla. Serve with salsa and sour cream.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Another Use For Those Left Over Brats, Sunday Breakfast

Here in Wisconsin brats and grilling go hand in hand. Yesterday we had our annual block party. Neighbors whom you never see come out and everyone brings a dish to pass. I a made the loaded potato salad I made a few weeks back and we also grilled some brats.

Sunday is our family breakfast day. With the left over brats and some extra unused potatoes from the potato salad I made a potato and sausage hash for breakfast along with some over easy eggs.
Brat Potatoes O'Brien

5-6 red potatoes boiled until able to pierce with fork
2 brats cut into coins
1/2 green pepper
1/2 small onion diced
olive oil
salt and pepper

First spray the pan with PAM and add a TBSP of olive oil to the pan. Fry the onion and green pepper for 3. Add the sausage coins to warm through. Continue to cook  until the onion becomes translucent. Remove from pan. Once again spray the pan with PAM and add another TBSP of oil. Add the potatoes and cover. Turn every few minutes so the potatoes brown evenly. Every time I turn the potatoes I also salt them. When the potatoes are brown add the sausages, green pepper, and onion back in. Heat through and serve.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Easy Banana Pudding Pie

This pie is very easy to put together. It uses instant banana pudding and a ready made Nilla wafer shell. It can be ready in as early as 5 minutes. Your family will be asking for seconds so you may want to make two!

Banana Pudding Pie

1 box instant banana pudding (Jell-o Brand)
1 Nilla wafer pie crust
2 c milk (I use fat free)
1 8oz container Cool Whip  (I used vanilla flavored)
1 bananas cut into circles
1 cut banana (don't cut this one until you are ready for the Cool Whip.)

With a mixer combine the pudding and milk. Add 1 of the bananas to the bottom of the ready made pie crust. Pour the pudding over it. Move it to the fridge very carefully. Let set for 5-10 minutes or up to a few hours. When ready to serve cut the remaining banana and place on top of the pie. Add the Cool Whip over that. With a spoon make peaks of the top of the pie by dipping a spoon into the Cool Whip and pulling up.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Balsamic Glazed Pork Medallions

The name sounds fancy but this dish is really easy to make. I am all about meals that are to the table quick. Who wants to cook for hours in this heat? Not me! I found this one on This would taste awesome on chicken too!

I feel so drained! I can't wait for the weekend. We have this thing called South Shore Frolic. It's a festival by our beautiful Lake Michigan and has the best fireworks. On Saturday we are having our block party. Well one more day of work to go anyhoo lol!
Balsamic Glazed Pork Medallions

1 TBSP shallots minced
1 garlic clove minced
1 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp Dijon
1 1/2 tsp sugar

1 lb pork tenderloin cut into 12 slices(I only used half of my whole pork tenderloin)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

In a small sauce pan heat oil and add shallots and garlic. Stir and let heat for two minutes on low. Add vinegar, sugar, rosemary and Dijon. Reduce the mixture to 1/2 cup.

 Heat a skillet over medium high heat coat with PAM and a tsp of EVOO. Add the pork and cook on each side about 2-3 minutes. Add the vinegar reduction and cook an additional minute turning the meat to coat it. I served it with rice.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Plank Grilled Salmon with Teriyaki Honey Glaze

Our favorite thing to do during the summer is grilling out. My husband is the one who mainly does the outdoor grilling. I have to let him have some fun right? My oldest daughter requested this recipe. The fire plank adds a smokey flavor and the terryaki sauce a peppery sweetness.

Note: The planks can be found at Target for around $8.00. Soak them in water for a few hours before you grill and keep a water bottle handy to tame the flames.

Teriyaki Honey Plank Grilled Salmon

4-5 pieces salmon
2 TBSP Honey
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 teriyaki sauce like Sweet Baby Rays
1 tsp lemon juice
2 water soaked cedar planks
water bottle to shoot down burning wood

Add ingredients for glaze. On a grill add the cedar planks on medium high heat. Add the salmon and glaze with  a brush. Glaze every 5 minutes. Grill for 20-25 minutes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Flat Bread Pizza and Mexican Fried Ice Cream

On Friday I had a house of hungry tweens. My daughter was celebrating her 12th  birthday. For dinner we each made pizzas with flat bread and a variety of toppings like mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, pepperoni, and cheese. Each girl was allowed to pick the toppings they like and spread out their own sauce. This is great on pita pocket halves also. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes.
Years ago here in Milwaukee there was a restaurant named Chi-Chi's. They had this awesome dessert named Mexican Fried Ice cream. Here's how to make it.
Mexican Fried Ice Cream

1/4 c sugar
4 tsp cinnamon
cornflake crumbs
vanilla ice cream
wax paper
cookie sheet
ice cream scooper
oil for frying
whipped cream

Form two round ice cream balls per person. Lay on wax paper. Stick ice cream balls and cookie sheet in the freezer.  Ready the rest of the ingredients. Mix the cinnamon and sugar and take the ice cream balls back out of the freezer. Roll in cinnamon sugar and place back into freezer. Next step is to roll in the cornflake crumbs. Place back in the freezer to harden for a hour. Ready about 3 inches cooking oil. Dip the ice cream ball in heated oil for 2 seconds to get a crispy shell. Serve with honey drizzled on top, whip cream, and a cherry.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Baked Potato Salad Is Great for Cook Outs

We went to a cook out yesterday at my cousins house. After a long drive after getting lost my cousins husband rescued us and took us back to the house. They grilled huge hamburgers and brats and I made a crowd pleaser baked potato salad. Instead of a mayo base this uses sour cream. This is great for the outside weather and you don't have to worry about it turning like mayo based potato salad. I wanted to buy some chives to put on top but could not find any at my Mom's grocery store.
Loaded Baked Potato Salad

5 lb bag of red potatoes
1 container sour cream
1 cup shredded cheese 1/4 cup reserved for topping
1/2 cup Oscar Meyer Real bacon bits
salt and pepper
fresh chives(if you can find them at a reasonable price)

Cut the eyes off of the potatoes and cut in half if large potatoes. Boil for 25 minutes. Insert fork to see if they are done. They should be fork tender but not falling apart. Drain out water and cool. Once touchable cut into cubes and place in a large bowl. Add sour cream (a little at a time), bacon, and cheese. Add salt and pepper. Cover and let sit in the fridge for a few hours. Taste for seasoning. I made this the night before and added extra sour cream before serving. Top with reserved cheese and extra bacon bits.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Summerfest, Katy Perry, and My Favorite Indulgence

Thursday was a busy day! My girlfriend and I went to the Katy Perry concert at the Marcus Amphitheater. The Amphitheater is on the grounds of the worlds largest music festival Summerfest. It's been around for more than 40 years. Even though there are hundreds of food vendors there, there is something I have to have every time I go to Summerfest. It's the Venice Beach Clubs' fried eggplant strips with marinara. We even went the extra yard and added deep fried mushrooms and cauliflower.
Our next stop was to Jo Jo's Martini Bar. The martinis have downsized in the last few years but they have a great taste. At $10 a pop I only had one!
And to cap off the night we saw the Katy Perry concert. My friend and I almost like it better than the Ga ga Monsters Ball show. It was a perfect ending to a perfect day. We were lucky to see her because she had the stomach flu and ended up cancelling her next two shows.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Tilapia Fish Sandwiches

Our grocery store usually has a pretty good deal on Tilapia. Every few weeks you can find it buy one get one free. Last night I was really craving a Filet O' Fish from Mickey D's but I am trying to save for a trip and I knew I had fish on hand. I breaded them with a combination of egg and Italian bread crumbs and fried them. Unfortunately I didn't take a picture but trust me you will want to try this one.

Tilapia Fish Sandwiches

5 Tilapia Fillets
1 cup Italian seasoned  bread crumbs like Contadina
1 egg
1/4 c milk
salt and pepper
olive oil
paper towels and a paper plate for draining
tartar sauce

In a large non-stick frying pan spray PAM and place about 1/4 c olive oil on the bottom of the pan and heat on medium.  Bread the Tilapia by placing in the egg/milk mixture, into the bread crumbs, and repeat. Continue to bread the remaining pieces. The oil should begin to ripple on the bottom of the pan. Place the battered pieces into the pan and let sit. Flip after 5 minutes. Cooking time should be around 8-10 minutes. You may need to respray the pan with PAM but remove from the heat first spraying away from the open flame. Check your package directions depending on the size and thickness of your fillets.Pieces should flake with a fork. Serve on buns with tartar sauce.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Red Potato Sausage Hash with Poached Eggs

Sunday is our big breakfast day in our house. This Red Potato and Sausage Hash is very easy to make and can be enjoyed any day of the week.
Red Potato Hash

6 large red potatoes boiled until medium tender
1/2 green pepper diced
1/2 onion diced
1/2 log of Bob Evan's sausage tube with sage
salt and pepper
Olive oil

Remove the eyes from the potatoes but leave skin intact. Boil potatoes in a medium sized pot with water covering the whole potatoes. This can even be done the day before. Boil for 25 minutes or until they are medium fork tender. The potatoes should be cooked through but still hold their firmness. Drain off water and let them cool. Dice into bite sized cubes.

In a large frying pan spray with PAM and add the sausage, breaking up with a spoon, and fry til brown. Remove from pan and add about a TBSP of olive oil and the veggies. Season with salt and pepper.

Cook until the onions are translucent. Remove from pan and add another TBSP of olive oil and the potatoes. I cover them with a lid and let go for a few minutes. Remove the lid and add salt and pepper. Flip the potatoes. You are looking for them to get golden brown. Repeat the process a few more times adding salt along the way. Once crispy add the onion, sausage, and green pepper back into the mix. Bring up to temperature. Serve with poached eggs or eggs of your choice.
Poached Eggs

1 TBSP vinegar
6-8 cups of water
A frying pan with high edges
a tea cup
4-6 eggs

Add water and vinegar to the pan. The sides should be high but low enough where you can see inside. Turn heat on low. Look for bubbles in the pan rising to the top. The water should not be boiling. Add the egg to the tea cup. Slowly drop the egg into the water. Do not touch the egg for a few minutes. (Otherwise the egg will make the water murky) When you begin to see the whites turn white use a slotted spoon to turn the egg over in the water. I like my egg a little more solid so I let it cook for about 3-5 minutes when flipped. Use a slotted spoon to remove the eggs one by one to a paper towel. Use the slotted spoon again to move the egg to a plate. Serve over hash.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tequila Lemon Chicken and Cous Cous

It has been so hot out you literally could fry an egg on the sidewalk. I have been looking for things to make on the grill. Of course I sent my hubby to brave the outside heat while I made sure the inside air was working! He came in about 25 minutes later saying he ran out of propane. Just in time though because he was cooking boneless Tequila lemon chicken breasts.

All I had to do was make the cous cous which took all of 5 minutes. Cous Cous is awesome because for a little dry grain you get a lot of finished product. You can also very the flavors by adding different veggies, garlic, or spices.
Note: I used boneless chicken breasts but this would taste awesome on a whole chicken or pieces

Tequila Lemon Chicken


1 airline sized bottle of tequila or about a 1/3 cup (increase to 1/2 cup if using whole chicken)
1/4 c lemon juice
1 tsp tarragon
1 tsp rosemary
2 TBSP olive oil
salt and pepper
1 boneless chicken breast per person

I marinated my chicken for a few hours but you can also marinate over night. Cover with plastic wrap and stick in the fridge.  Grill boneless chicken breasts for 25 minutes or until no longer pink and juices run clear. Or you could bake at 425 for about 25-30 minutes.

Chicken Cous Cous

1 cup cous cous
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 drop olive oil

Boil chicken stock with olive oil. Add cous cous and remove from heat giving it a stir. Cover and let sit 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff with fork and serve.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Groupon Friday: It's Hot!, Hot!, Hot! Outside!

Finally we are getting hot weather here in Milwaukee but it's too hot to cook! Last night we continued our traditional Groupon Friday and went to De Marini's pizza. There are two different De Marinin's. There was a split in the family and two restaurants were formed. I though the pizza was very good and I regret not buying two Groupons.

For those of you that don't know Groupon is a coupon that if enough people buy you get. It is a great discount on things like dining, entertainment, and even sky diving. There is also a Blockbuster kiosk video rental good for 5 rentals I am buying this weekend too. I think that one is a national Groupon.

We don't have any major plans for the 4th but will probably choose to deviate from the normal hot dogs and hamburgers. I am all ready sick of both! My oldest requested salmon. I have an awesome peppered salmon recipe I will use.

I have a few big things this week. I have a Katy Perry Concert on Thursday and my daughter's 12th birthday on Friday. (to which I am not invited lol!) She and her friends are going roller skating. My husband has the pleasure of going roller skating with them. That would be fun to see!