Thursday, November 27, 2014

Counting My Blessings

Thanksgiving: the biggest cooking day of the whole year! This year I was on a quest to make a stuffing that beats my dad and brothers favorite Stove Top from a box. I have to say that this Williams-Sonoma recipe was pretty tasty and I think I accomplished my goal! The only change I decided to make was sub out the chestnuts for water chestnuts. More mild flavor with the same crunch. Not only was is a great recipe but it is also quick and easy. You could even whip it up to pair with your week of turkey leftovers. (And I hope you do!)


  • 4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter 
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped 
  • 8 oz. assorted fresh mushrooms, such as
      cremini, oyster and shiitake, brushed clean
      and sliced 
  • 1 1/2 cups steamed chestnuts, halved 
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste 
  • 12 oz. mild Italian sausage, casings removed 
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme 
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh sage 
  • 3 Tbs. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley 
  • 1 box focaccia stuffing 
  • 1 3/4 to 2 cups turkey or chicken stock 


Preheat an oven to 375°F. Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the onion and sauté until soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the mushrooms and sauté until the mushrooms are soft and the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the chestnuts and sauté for 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the mushroom mixture to a large bowl.

Return the pan to medium-high heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring and crumbling with a fork, until cooked through, about 10 minutes. Stir in the thyme, sage and parsley and transfer to the bowl with the mushroom mixture.

Add the focaccia stuffing to the bowl and stir to combine. Stir in 1 3/4 cups of the stock. The dressing should be moist but not soggy. Add more stock if needed.

Spoon the dressing into the prepared baking dish and bake until the dressing is browned on top and heated through, about 1 hour. If the dressing begins to brown too quickly, cover the pan loosely with aluminum foil. 
Serves 12.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Easy Hot Cocoa Mix

Looking for cute Christmas gift ideas? 

These hot cocoa mason jars only take a few minutes, a few dollars, and a bit of creativity, and you will have some fun handmade gifts to give to your friends and family!

2 cups nonfat dry milk powder 
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup powdered non-dairy creamer
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa

Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and seperate into an airtight container. Add the instructions below to the top of the container. Then make your containers cute by adding ribbon, bells, a Christmas ornament, candy, marshmallows, and/or some Baileys, Kahlua, and Rum Chata to add in like me! 

<Stir 1/3 cup mix with 1 cup hot water. Enjoy!>

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Homemade Croutons

Nothing is better than being home for the holidays…especially since I get an entire week to cook alongside my mom in her beautiful kitchen! 

This morning I woke up to my favorite breakfast – poached eggs and thick sliced bacon over spinach topped with blue cheese, walnuts and sweet vinegar dressing. I washed it down with hazelnut flavored coffee from a cute store in Baraboo, WI where you can buy a variety of flavored coffee beans called Coffee Bean Connection. ( I highly recommend my 608 coffee drinkers to check it out. (My favorite is the snickerdoodle) 

Next came lunch and my turn to cook! It was a pretty dreary day so decided to make butternut squash soup and homemade croutons. I started by boiling about 6 cups of butternut squash with 8 cups of chicken stock. Meanwhile, I sautéed a sweet white onion and an apple to add when the squash was ready to puree. I love this soup because it’s so easy to make! When the squash was soft I added the onion and apple just used an emergent blender until the soup was smooth. I decided not to add any additional spices since I was making croutons but nutmeg, cumin, ginger or curry are great additions if you prefer to cook this soup solo! 

Don't my moms flame colored Le Creuset French oven and salt crock just scream fall? They are both perfect for soup! 

For the croutons, I cut a mixture of week-old French bread and whole grain baguette and added to a mixing bowl. (About 4 cups total) To flavor the croutons, I added 1/3 a cup of olive oil, 1 teaspoon of oregano, 1 teaspoon of basil and 1 teaspoon of thyme, salt, pepper, and 2 garlic cloves to a small sauté pan and cooked for about 5 minutes. Last, I removed the garlic cloves and drizzled the hot oil on top of the bread cubes, mixed well, then transferred to a cookie sheet and baked on 350 for about 10 minutes. 

To serve, I topped my soup with a mixture of sour cream and milk to give the soup a creamy texture! My kinda lunch for a lazy day at home sweet home :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Quinoa Indian Chicken Curry

Although quinoa seems to have just recently become a popular whole grain alternative, its first human consumption dates back around 4,000 years ago. The Incas are believed to be the first to discover it in regions of Chile, Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Columbia.  Today, you will find it sold in almost every grocery store. 

Quinoa seeds are coated by bitter-tasting saponins which are usually removed prior to being sold. It is best practice to wash the seeds prior to cooking to be sure that bitter taste is removed as much as possible. Quinoa is nutritionally renowned for its high protein and fiber content but it also has the perfect balance of all nine amino acids and it doesn’t contain any gluten! How’s that for a superfood?
Even though all the health benefits are there, I do I have to admit that quinoa is pretty boring without any added flavor. I have had 3 packages in my kitchen cupboard for far too long so I made it my goal this week to think of a good way to utilize it. I have wanted to create an Indian curry dish ever since I stepped into the cafeteria for lunch at my new job. My company caters in Indian food daily from a local Indian restaurant and the aroma always tempts me to try it but I refuse to spend $10+ on lunch when I can get another healthy option for half the price. 
After browsing lots of curry dishes online, I felt pretty confident this recipe was going to turn out delicious. The key to this recipe to avoid over cooking the chicken. I cooked my chicken on medium-low for about 15 minutes and it was super tender! I also would highly recommend the coconut coated cashews I found from Trader Joes. They were the perfect addition!

1 cup quinoa
4 cups chicken broth
2 boneless chicken breasts
4 tablespoons olive oil
6 teaspoons curry powder
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced 
1 cup frozen peas
1 cup shredded carrots
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ teaspoon fennel seed
1/3 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup sour cream
½ cup cashews 
¼ cup fresh cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse and drain 1 cup of quinoa. Add quinoa to two cups of chicken broth and bring to a boil. When the quinoa and chicken broth come to a boil, cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes or until almost all the chicken broth has been absorbed.
2. Cut chicken into 1 inch cubes. Mix chicken to a bowl with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 teaspoons of curry powder. In a separate sauté pan, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and cook chicken until chicken it is fully cooked. Set aside. 
3. Using the same sauté pan, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and cook yellow onion and garlic for a few minutes. Then add peas, carrots, cumin, turmeric, fennel seed, and remaining 4 teaspoons of curry powder and cook for another few minutes.  
4. Add reminding 2 cups of chicken broth to veggie mix and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and stir in yogurt, sour cream, quinoa, and chicken. 
5. Top with cashews, cilantro, salt and pepper and serve. 

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Breakfast in Bed

Making breakfast on Sunday morning before church is one of my favorite weekend activities. This week I decided to add a little fall touch to my French toast! Shout out to one of my best friends for the idea! (Carly Drumm) Enjoy!

¾ cup milk
½ cup pumpkin puree
4 eggs
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
Texas toast

Preheat electric griddle to 350 degrees. In a mixing bowl whisk ingredients until well combined. Dip Texas toast in mixture for a few seconds so the bread absorbs mixture. Transfer to griddle and cook both sides until golden brown. Serve with warm maple syrup and whip cream. Wash down with some pumpkin coffee :)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

A Great Pair...

Today was a good day. My boyfriend, Stephen, who I previously mentioned as my sous chef and forgot to introduce, bought a car! We also achieved the seemingly unachievable task of picking him out a winter coat for our venture up to Wisconsin next weekend. Stephen bought me tickets back in October for my birthday for the Nebraska/Wisconsin game and we have been looking forward to the upcoming family rivalry ever since. Go Huskers!

After a long test-drive we came home to a delicious smelling roast. And let me tell you, it was delicious! I decided not to outline the recipe and spoil my mom’s secret ingredient she adds her roast, as I know most enjoy their own mothers recipe anyway. I did however; want to share a wine Stephen and I picked up at World Market, which was a great pair.

Vino de Eyzaguirre- Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 –Product of Chili

If you haven’t ever shopped at World Market, I would definitely recommend it. Especially if you enjoy good beer and wine at a good price. If you become a World Market Explorer Rewards Member you get exclusive member pricing which usually knocks off a few dollars per bottle and six-pack! It is free to join - check it out!

Happy Shopping :)

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Savory Sweet Salad

After three solid weeks of work travel, my weekend plans included sleep and catching up on my blog. To catch up on my blog I of course had to cook! Since my last three weeks involved an embarrassing number of meals comprised of nothing but cereal I wanted to cook fresh. The recipe below was inspired from the cover page of the fall 2014 magazine Fine Cooking. Salads that mix sweet and savory flavors are my favorite and this combination is not only appealing to the eye but one of the best salads I have ever made! I also love making my own dressings with my Oxo salad dressing shaker. I recently discovered an olive oil and vinegar company in Kansas City called Heavenly which has a great selection and also great recipe ideas on their website ( I also recommend the pictured Penzey herb spice to add to any homemade creation!  

Baby Arugula
Honey Crisp Apples
Goat Cheese
Yellow Heirloom Tomatoes
Red Onion

Two parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar, and herbs