Friday, January 27, 2012

Corner Clean Up

Our kitchen is a u shape, so we have a corner that isn't that easily visible from the rest of the kitchen. I have used this area as a dumping ground for just about everything since we moved here. I decided it was way past time to clean this area up.

Here is the view from the main area of the kitchen. See it doesn't look too bad.

Corner Clean Up

And here is the view from a different angle. It looks like a natural disaster came through. No one would even know we have a coffee maker in there.

Corner Clean Up

Most of the disaster is printed recipes that I never look through, random cookbooks and plastic containers I couldn't quite part with. I went through the cookbooks and moved the ones we use to a cupboard designated for cookbooks. I moved the ones we don't use often to a bookshelf in our extra bedroom. I also went through all the printed recipes and only saved the ones we use regularly. I moved the baking supplies and the ice cream maker to the cupboard above. The plastic containers were sorted through and some were thrown away and the others moved to the area above the cupboards. We actually use the chai tea mix often so I put that in a mason jar instead of the ugly container it came in.

Here is the after result. Much better.

Corner Clean Up

And here is our cupboard for cookbooks and the much condensed version of the printed recipes.

Corner Clean Up

The whole project only took a couple hours and it was so worth it in the end.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Spicy Kale Lasagna

We made this lasagna on Saturday and it was so good. I had wanted to make this for a long time, but I thought that Patrick wouldn't like the kale part. It turns out he really likes kale and we actually had another kale dish tonight. If you are skeptical of kale, I highly recommend you try this recipe. It may just convert you to a kale lover.

Kale Lasagna

Spicy Kale Lasagna
Serves about 8

What You Need
1 pound no-boil whole wheat lasagna noodles (or noodles cooked according to the package instructions)
1 1/4 pounds kale (around 3 bunches) or substitute spinach
4 cups cottage cheese
3/4 cups parmesan cheese
2 cups mozzarella cheese
3 tablespoons olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
28 ounce can crushed tomatoes (with herbs, if available)
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Kosher salt
Fresh ground pepper

What To Do

1 Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2 Prepare the kale: In a large pot, bring salted water to a boil. Remove the stems from the kale. Boil the kale for 2 minutes, then drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Using a towel, wring out as much water as possible from the kale. Chop it and season with salt and pepper.

3 Make the tomato sauce: Meanwhile, dice 3 cloves garlic. In a cold saucepan, combine garlic, 3 tablespoons olive oil, 1 scant teaspoon red pepper flakes (or less depending on your spice tolerance), and 1 teaspoon salt. Bring to medium high heat, stirring as the mixture heats up. Saute for about 30 seconds, then add the crushed tomatoes. Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes, until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon lemon juice.

4 Make the filling: Strain out all liquid from the 4 cups cottage cheese (squeeze it in a strainer, if necessary). Add 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups mozzarella cheese, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper.

5 Assemble the lasagna: Place a thin layer of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 9” x 13” baking dish. Cover the sauce with a layer of noodles, then half of the cheese mixture, half of the kale, and half of the remaining sauce. Add another layer of noodles, the remaining cheese, and the remaining kale. Top with the remaining noodles, then the remaining sauce. Sprinkle the top with 1/2 cup mozzarella and 1/4 cup parmesan.

6 Bake for 45 minutes, until bubbly and browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Source: A Couple Cooks

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Cooking Castle Style - Greek Quesadillas, Green Bean & Parmesan Soup and Blackberry Cobbler

Yesterday was so much fun. Kate is getting married this year so we went and saw her wedding dress before lunch. And then we went back to our house for some cooking and good conversation. For this cooking lesson we decided on quesadillas, soup and cobbler. Everything turned out really good and even better everything was super easy to make. Hopefully this will be something that they can easily make in their own kitchen.

Greek Quesadillas

Greek Quesadillas
Makes 4

Notes: Feel free to use whatever quantities desired of the ingredients below, and substitute or omit ingredients according to your own preferences!

What You Need
8 whole wheat tortillas
Fresh spinach (about 2 cups)
One red onion
Jarred red peppers or sundried tomatoes
Black olives
Mozzarella cheese, shredded (a handful or so per serving)
Feta cheese (a few tablespoons per serving)
Oregano (dried or fresh)
Red pepper flakes (optional)

What To Do

1 Chiffonade the spinach. Thinly slice the red onion, red peppers, and black olives.
2 On a plate, place a tortilla. Sprinkle with your desired quantities of spinach, red onion, red pepper, black olives, mozzarella, feta, oregano, and red pepper flakes (if using). Be careful not to overload.
3 Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat for a few minutes. Place the loaded tortilla on the griddle and place another tortilla on top. Cook until browned on the bottom, then flip and cook until browned on the other side (a few minutes per side).

Remove the tortilla and cut into wedges with a pizza cutter. If making several quesadillas at once, you can keep them warm in a 300°F oven.

Source: A Couple Cooks

Soup & Cobbler

Green Bean & Parmesan Soup
(Serves 4)

1 stick butter
8 ounces green beans, trimmed
1 garlic clove minced
2 cups vegetable stock
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup single cream
Salt and black pepper to taste
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan or in a microwave safe bowl.
Add the beans and garlic to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes over a medium heat, stirring regularly.
Stir in the stock, and season with salt and pepper.
Bring to the boil, and simmer for 10-15 minutes, uncovered, until the beans are tender.
Pour the soup into a blender and process until smooth.
Stir in the Parmesan and cream, and sprinkle with the parsley, then serve.

Source: The Soup Bible

Blackberry Cobbler

1 stick Butter
1 1/4 cup Sugar
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cup Milk
2 cups Blackberries (frozen Or Fresh)

Preparation Instructions

Melt butter in a microwavable dish. Pour 1 cup of sugar, flour, baking soda and salt into a mixing bowl, whisking in milk. Mix well. Then, pour in melted butter and whisk it all well together. Butter a baking dish or 6-7 jam sized mason jars.

Now rinse and pat dry the blackberries.

Ladle the batter into a baking dish or the buttered mason jars. If you are using mason jars fill them 1/2 way to 2/3 full. Add a 5-6 blackberries per mason jar.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 1 hour, or until golden and bubbly. If you desire, sprinkle an additional teaspoon of sugar over the cobbler 10 minutes before it’s done.

Source: Pioneer Woman

Friday, January 6, 2012

Smokey Barbecued Pork

It's been a long time since I posted a recipe, but that doesn't mean we stopped cooking. We first made this pork this summer for a party. Since then Patrick has made this quite a few more times and it is really good and easy to make. We buy the pork shoulder/butt roast from Sam's Club and freeze half of it and make one half with this recipe. The roasts we have made are around 7 pounds, so this makes a ton of food. If we don't eat it all in a week we freeze the rest to bring out later. Here is Patrick's recipe.


Smokey Barbecued Pork

Pork shoulder/butt roast
Chili powder
1 Sliced Onion
1 can adobo chili peppers (in sauce)
1 45 ounce (Sam's Club size) jug o' Famous Dave's BBQ sauce

For Sandwiches
Artisan bread

Cut off as much of the exterior fat as you can. Jab the roast all over with a fork and throw it in a crock pot. Salt heavily (at least a tablespoon, maybe two or three depending on size of your meat). Season lightly (probably no more than a teaspoon of each) with pepper, chili powder, & cumin. Slice the onion like you would for fajitas and dump all over the roast. Slice the adobos into small bits and dump all over the roast. Put in a majority of the BBQ sauce (so roast is covered and partially swimming in it). Cover and let it cook on high until the meat easily falls apart when pulled at with a fork (at least prolly 6 - 8 hours). Pull roast apart with a fork, remove bone (one large chunk) from crock pot, stir in the rest of the BBQ sauce, and let cook on high another 1 hour.

Crock pots are kind of goofy with temperatures these days so use judgement. Serve on some tasty artisan bread with provolone.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year's Weekend

Our New Year's Weekend this year was pretty relaxed. On New Year's Eve Day we did some shopping and hung out at home. For New Year's Eve we decided we were going to make a nice meal at home. The menu was beef tenderloin, veggies and bread. We were planning on grilling the tenderloin, but it started raining right when we were going to start making it. It ended up being a complete disaster. We over cooked the meat and the veggies were mushy. At least the cookies and wine were good.

wine and cookies

Since it was snowing and didn't want to drive anywhere we decided to walk to the Sherlock Holmes movie. It is a couple mile walk to the movie theater, so we were both soaked by the time we got there. It was so much fun to be outside while it was snowing.

Patrick and Sara

Walk to movie

On Sunday morning we made these Gingerbread Pancakes. Then we watched the Packer game with Adam and Maran.

Gingerbread Pancakes

We made the trek to Nickie & Nathan's house after the game to celebrate Christmas. It was pretty fun to hang out with everyone and watch Ben open presents.



Ben & Grandma

Monday, January 2, 2012

Christmas in La Crosse

We spent Christmas in La Crosse with Patrick's family this year. We headed to La Crosse on Christmas Eve around noon.

Cass Street

This time we stayed at the Courtyard Marriott in downtown La Crosse. Patrick's aunt works there so we got an awesome deal. Here is the view from our room.

View from Courtyard Mariot

The weather was super nice for December, so we walked around downtown before dinner. There weren't many open options for dinner so we ended up eating at Red Lobster in Onalaska.

Red Lobster Cheese Biscuits

We were disappointed in the lack of Christmas lights in our search at home, but we found some good ones in La Crosse. Check out this one with music and moving objects in Santa's workshop.

Holiday Lights

After dinner and looking at lights we walked to Riverside Park from the hotel. In college I loved going to the Rotary lights. We hadn't been there since 2005, so it was awesome to go again.

Rotary Lights at Riverside Park

Rotary Lights at Riverside Park

Even the UW-L Eagle was in lights this year.

Rotary Lights at Riverside Park

These squirrels were synchronized to run through the trees. They even had a whole light show synced to music, which they never had back in college. It was so fun to go back. There is so much magic in the Christmas lights there, I hope it's not another six years before we get back there.

Rotary Lights at Riverside Park

Rotary Lights at Riverside Park

On Christmas Day we went to Patrick's dad's house for lunch. It was nice to hang out with them. Then we headed to Patrick's aunt and uncle's house for his extended family Christmas. We stayed there most of the day for a white elephant exchange and the Packer game.

On Monday we visited Steve & Sandra's new baby girl Rosemary. After our visit we ate at the mall food court, Patrick had Coney Island and I had Panda Express.

Coney Island

We always talk about winning it big at Treasure Island on our way home from La Crosse. This time we decided to actually stop. We lost our $20 in about 15 minutes so it wasn't worth the trip, but it made for a good adventure.

Treasure Island