Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Tuscan White Bean Soup

It is soooooo cold in Wisconsin. We had this bump of "warm" weather, and now back to cold is not so fun. I actually like winter, but not when it is below zero....mainly because my kids are trapped in the house and start to go nuts. We have been avoid most child heavy public places because the flu is going strong so we have been feeling a little cooped up. I am not a person that is skiddish about germs, but I am really trying my best to keep the boys healthy. I saw a GIF yesterday that was a person snapping their head around and glaring at the sound of a person coughing....my fingers are still crossed for a healthy family. I feel after the double hand foot and mouth plague in fall that we might get a pass. I am now knocking on anything wood in my house.... 

Today, I am sharing a delicious soup recipe from Carrie's Experimental Kitchen that will warm you, or comfort you if you are under the weather. I added bacon to our soup, but that is not in the original recipe. The recipe uses chicken broth and is not vegetarian, but you could easily sub in vegetable broth to make it a hearty vegetarian meal.  We also topped ours with a little additional cheese because...well.... we love cheese.  This recipe was so good 

Tomorrow is my birthday! I don't really have much planned aside from dinner with my family at one of my favorite restaurants. I am keeping my fingers crossed for some birthday cake as well! 


Ingredients

3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
8 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
5 strips of bacon, cooked and chopped
1 cup dry ditalini pasta
1/4 cup Romano cheese, grated (plus extra for topping)
Salt and Pepper, to taste


Instructions

Saute celery, onion, and garlic is a medium soup pot. When vegetables begin to soften, add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Add beans and pasta and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for about 15 minutes and add the cheese and bacon. Continue cooking another 5 minutes until pasta is tender. Season with salt and pepper. 

Ladle into bowls and top with additional cheese if desired. 

Friday, February 2, 2018

Instant Pot BBQ Ribs

So, I got an Instant Pot for Christmas and have been trying out all sorts of recipes.  In the event that you live in a cave and this is your first time to recipe-land on the internet, the Instant Pot has blown up all over the place. I was skeptical at first, but it turns out that it is getting rave reviews because it is pretty great! Ron and I loved how fast it cooked, and wanted to do an ultimate test and make ribs. Ribs are an all day thing normally, but with the Instant Pot they are done in under and hour- AN HOUR PEOPLE.  I opted to try out this recipe from I Wash You Dry because it received great reviews and seemed simple for a pressure cooker novice like myself.  I stayed pretty true to the recipe, but I halved the sugar in the rub because I like don't like my ribs too sweet and do not prefer a heavy coating. I also omitted the cayenne because the boys are hit and miss when there is a little kick in their bbq. The cooking time for our rack of ribs was perfect and they fell off the bone. I might use a little more liquid smoke next time because the one thing they miss by omitting the long smoke is the deep flavor in the meat. We made one rack but, per the author, you can double the meat and spices, but keep the liquid amount the same. Overall, we really liked this recipe and will certainly be making it again! 

This was the first time Kellen and Rowan tried ribs and it was a success. Rowan wasn't crazy about having sticky fingers, but Kellen loved it and asked me to make it again the following night. Kellen seems to be coming out of the a picky stage and is getting very brave about trying new foods. Rowan previously would try anything and is now getting a little skeptical. Rowan's benefit is that his mother has seen the cycle once before, and can rest assured that it is a phase. I enjoy the perks of having two crazy boys when I can get them! 

This weekend we are looking forward to Kellen's basketball and my sister-in-law's graduation! We are also starting house hunting and are going to check out a potential property in the next few days. The idea of moving seems a little overwhelming, but we are in desperate need of space for the four of us (well 7 if you include the cats).  


Ingredients

1 rack of baby back pork ribs
1/8 cup brown sugar
2 Tbl chili powder
2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp each: salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, onion powder
1 cup water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 - 1/2 tsp liquid smoke, optional
2/3 cup bbq sauce


Instructions

Remove the lining from the bottom side of the ribs by running a knife under the skin and then using a paper towel to grip and remove completely (you could ask the meat counter to do this for you). 

Combine the brown sugar, chili powder, parsley, salt, pepper, cumin, garlic powder, and onion powder in a small dish and rub all over the ribs.

Place the rack in your pressure cooker and curl the ribs inside the pot, standing on their side, wrapping around the inside of the pot. Pour in the water, apple cider and liquid smoke (if using), being careful to not to pour over ribs and wash off the seasonings.

Secure the lid, making sure the vent is closed. Press the Meat button and set to 25 minutes. Let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes, then quick release the rest of the way.

Carefully remove the ribs from the pressure cooker and set on a foil lined baking sheet. Brush down with  BBQ sauce, and broil in the oven for 5 minutes, but make sure it doesn't burn.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

No-Peek Beef TIps

Kellen started a basketball program at the Y. The program is for fun and to introduce the kids to the basics. Kellen is the youngest in the program for 5&6 year old kids, but he is the tallest of the group. I am not surprised that Kellen is tall for his age because I am 5'10" and Ron is over 6 foot. In the past few weeks I have run back to stores to return 8 different pairs of jeans to before finally finding a pair that fits his frame. Kellen needs the length of a size 8, but the wait size of a size 6. I finally found that Target's Cat and Jack brand size 7 slim works for Kellen. Thanks goodness because his pants could have reached high-water status pretty soon. 

Since I have a pair of boys with never ending growth spurts I love finding meals that all 3 of my boys love. This recipe is from Sarah at A Taste of Home Cooking and after her rave review it was on my meal plan. I made a small few adjustments to the recipe. I omitted the mushrooms because Ron is not a fan (I so wish he loved mushrooms!), used low sodium beef broth, and I cook mine in a dutch oven versus a casserole dish. I have not made this in a slow-cooker, but I imagine that it would be yummy. I like to serve this with mashed potatoes, but egg noodles or rice would also be delicious (I am actually making this tonight and serving with rice for the boys). I normally serve a roasted veggie on the side (green beans are the boys current favorite). 

Last night Ron and I had a date night! We grabbed dinner at a bar close to the house and I had a delicious wrap with smoked turkey, avocado, bacon, jalapeno wrapped in a cheddar jalapeno wrap- so good. We went to see a the movie The Commuter after dinner, and really enjoyed it. We like Liam Neeson and got hooked on his action movies after watching Taken when it was released. Today I am headed to Pure Barre, and then a Target run before coming home because my groceries are getting delivered. Have you used a grocery delivery service ever? Ah-maz-ing! We use Shipt, but I know there are a lot of different options out there. 

Have a great Sunday everyone! 


Ingredients

2 1/2 - 3 lb beef chuck roast or chuck eye, trimmed of fat and cubed 
12 ounces white button mushrooms, cleaned and sliced (Optional)
1 (10.5 oz) can cream of mushroom soup
1 (0.87 oz) packet brown gravy mix
1 (1.25 oz) packet Lipton dry onion soup mix
1 cup reduced-sodium beef broth


Instructions

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Place cubed meat  in a 9 x 13 baking dish or a medium dutch oven.

In a large bowl mix the soup, gravy mix, onion soup mix and water together. Pour over the meat and toss to combine. Cover the dish tightly with foil or cover with dutch oven lid. Bake for 3 hours. Remember, no peeking! 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Weekly Meal Plan 1/7 - 1/13

Happy New Year my friends! 

Do you like New Year resolutions? I am all about them if they are reasonable and, for me, they have been good motivators. That being said, I am not one of those people who makes drastic changes for the New Year- just little adjustments.  So, for 2018 I have two resolutions and a couple bucket list items for the year. Resolution 1 is to get back blogging 3 times a week! I have had to put a lot on the back burner when transitioning from working to school, and unfortunately one of those things was blogging. Resolution 2 is to reach 500 Pure Barre classes in 2018. I completed 250 in September after doing barre for about 16 months, and I am hoping I can reach my goal in late 2018! Other things on my 2018 bucket list are a short vacation with Ron, getting our house ready to sell (eeekkkk), and try a cycling class.  Nothing to crazy over here! 

So what is new with me? My kids are growing like crazy and it is going too fast. Kellen turned 5 in December and Rowan will be 2 in April.....where does time go? School is going great and my fall semester was completed mid December and right now I am in the middle of what is called J-Term and it's not so fun. Currently, I am taking 6 credits and J-Term is 3 weeks..... it is a lot of work, but it will be nice to have the credits completed, but it is a lot of work over a short period of time. The more I experience in the education program the more it enforces what a good this decision was for me and my family. I have gotten to spend so much time with my boys, and that has been wonderful. 

So, that was a quick little update, but I wanted to share what is new in our lives and my meal plan! I received and Insta Pot for Christmas and am excited to break it out and give it a try this week! 

Here is what is on tap:

Sunday: Lasagna, Side Salads, and Garlic Bread
Monday:  Insta Pot Baby Back Ribs and Potato Salad
Tuesday: Taco Ranch Chicken Burrito Bowls
Wednesday: Leftover
Thursday: Meatloaf, Mashed Potatoes, and Peas
Friday: Pizza
Saturday: Holiday/New Year Party with Family

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 11/12 - 11/18

Hello Friends!

Long time no chat! After my last post in October, Hand, Foot and Mouth infiltrated our house starting with my 18 month-old on a Monday evening. It just happened to be a very busy week at school for me because we had a group of 5th graders coming to have a tour (by group I mean there were 800 of them from local grade schools). Ron and I split childcare since Rowan was home from school till his fever was down and blisters started to heal. We spent the days cleaning every toy, vacuuming and sanitizing. Kellen had this virus when we was about that same age as Rowan and it was a pain and thankfully Kellen stuck to the table and living room to steer clear of Rowan. However, that following it got worse....Ron got it. My husband is wonderful at many things, but being sick if not one of them. It is somewhat of a running joke between both our families at Ron's behavior when he is ill. I should say that this virus is pretty horrible for adults and this time is was not unwarranted. So Ron was out of commission and I was by myself to keep everything Rowan AND Ron touched clean. I think I went through 8 cans of Lysol and 5 big things of Clorox wipes....who knows what brain damage I gave us with that. I was doing all the childcare, cleaning/sanitizing, meals, and laundry over the next week and a half and was exhausted by the end.  Right when we thought we were in the clear, Kellen puked at school and had to come home. Thankfully I think Kellen's was a fluke, but two days later Ron got a 12 hour stomach bug....and another round of wiping everything down again.  Fast forward to today I think, knock on wood, we are all doing much better. 

I had a few exams this past week which hopefully went well considering out home turmoil. I was able to get out of the house and attend a Board and Brush with some friends. I made a cute stocking holder for the holidays. I love the board projects. They take awhile, but turn out so cute! 
Ron and I also had dinner with my Dad on Friday while my in-laws watched the boys for a much needed break after the past 3 1/2 weeks! Saturday was for sleeping for some, but I was up early for a Pure Barre Empower class before running errands for the week. Kellen brings snack for the class this week so it is always a big shopping weekend when it is our turn.  Today, I am heading over the the barre studio shortly and then finishing Kellen's snack list before coming home for the Packer game at noon. Since Rogers got hurt we have not been doing great, but maybe this week will turn around. 

This week is thankfully pretty slow and later in the week we have Kellen's conferences and are going to attend the tree lighting and the Holiday parade!

Here is what is on tap: 

Sunday: One Pot Baked Ziti, Salad and Garlic Bread
Monday: Pizza
Tuesday: Chicken and Wild Rice Casserole and Peas
Wednesday: Bacon Pierogie Bake and Green Beans
Thursday: Weeknight White Chicken Chili
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Dinner at a friend's house!

Saturday, October 21, 2017

Loaded Beer Cheese Potato Soup #SoupSwappers

It is time for the October Soup Swap is here and I am the host this month! 

I selected the theme, "Soups from your State (Regional Soups)". I know there are so many types of soups or flavor combos unique to the different participants, and was excited to see what everyone came up with. 

I decided to make a variation of a beer cheese soup. Beer cheese is, not surprisingly, a popular soup in Wisconsin. It is frequently on restaurant menus using various types of local beers and cheeses.  The beer cheese combo isn't limited to soup in my neck of the woods. It is not uncommon to see if as a sauce for a burger or a dip. In Wisconsin, we are so luck to have a plethora of delicious local cheeses and beer right at our finger tips.  For this soup, I used Wisconsin's Spotted Cow and sharp cheddar from Steve's Cheese. I also decided to load this soup up and pair the beer cheese with a loaded baked potato. This soup is delicious and a perfect blend of a few of my favorite Wisco flavors. 

I am so excited to see what everyone else made from their regions! 



Ingredients

1 tsp olive oil
2 lb russet potato, peeled and chopped (set 1 cup aside)
1/2 cup carrot, chopped
2 stalks of celery,chopped
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, minced 
4 cup reduced sodium chicken broth
1 cup milk 
1 cup beer (I do not recommend using a dark beer)
1 1/2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese (plus extra for topping)
4 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled (plus extra for topping)
3 green onions sliced
Sour Cream
Salt and Pepper


Instructions

Saute potatoes (minus one reserved cup), carrots, celery, onion, and garlic in a soup pot. When vegetables begin to soften and onions become translucent add chicken broth and milk. Simmer till veggies are soft. Blend soup with an immersion blender or in a stand blender. You do not need to blend the soup, but it will result in a much thinner consistency.  Add the remaining potatoes to the blended soup. Add a the beer and cook till the potatoes are soft. Once the potatoes are soft stir in cheese and bacon.  Season with salt and pepper. Top with additional crumbled bacon, shredded cheese, sour cream, and sliced green onions.  

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Weekly Meal Plan 10/8 - 10/14

Well I am a little late on my meal plan this week! I had a few exams last week and two over the weekend in my online courses and I was a bit behind to start my week.  This pas weekend we started by going for pizza and to the play Charlotte's Web with friends. On Saturday, I had barre class and after Kellen, Rowan and I bet our friends at a pumpkin festival for games, pumpkins and cookies. Afterwards, Rowan went for a nap and Kellen and I went to a local craft store for a Halloween slime making craft. Sidebar, how do you say Halloween? I say Haalloween and Kellen keeps correcting me and telling me to say Holloween. He is probably right.... Anyways, on Sunday, I went to another barre class and headed to kid's day at a local haunted house with my sister and friend Emily. The haunted house is for adults, but two days in October they cover up all the gory things and have kid volunteers scare the little ones with all the lights on- with a candy bag at the end! Kellen really enjoys it and it is fun to see all the kids volunteering and working hard to make sure it is fun for everyone coming for a scare. Afterwards we headed to my parent's for the Packer game.  That game was stressful, but thankfully the Packer's won with a minute left to play. 

This week we had swim on Monday and met a few friends for burgers at a place near by the pool. Rowan is enjoying class and is one of the younger kids so some of the skills are a little hard for him still, but he is getting comfortable blowing bubbles and laying on his back (this is very hit or miss for him). Next week the kids get a little playtime since it is his last lesson for the session.  This week for meals are a mix of going out and trying a few new recipes. I am especially excited to try Sarah's chicken stew on Friday! 

Have a great week everyone! 

Sunday: Spaghetti and Meat Sauce with Salad and Garlic Bread
Monday: Culver's after swim
Tuesday: Loaded Beer Cheese Potato Soup and Rolls
Wednesday: Brown Sugar Crockpot Pork Chops, Herbed Rice and Roasted Cauliflower
Thursday: Subs
Friday: Indian Spiced Chicken Stew with Potatoes
Saturday: Out after Pumpkin Patch