Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Home for the Holidays!

It goes without question, that most of us enjoy some of the best food of the year around the holidays.  For Christmas this year, my mother definitely out did herself in the kitchen. We enjoyed ham, shrimp, mussels, crab legs, lobster tail, and prime rib while I was home! 

I wanted to share some simple things my mom added to our prime rib sides that were very simple but added a lot to the meal.
First, she added pomegranate seeds to our spinach, apple, walnut, and blue cheese salad. Pomegranate is a very festive additive for the holidays and not just for cocktails. We even added them to roasted carrots for Thanksgiving! 
Next, she roasted pine nuts and added them to our green beans. I think pine nuts are good on pretty much everything but I really enjoyed the added texture and flavor to sautéed green beans. I am going to make these soon but sub haricot verts for the traditional wide wax green beans. 

Lastly, she decided to add equal parts of olive oil, Dijon mustard and parmesan cheese to our roasted potatoes. Mustard is always a good flavor to pair with prime rib and adding it to the potatoes was a great way to add flavor to the meal without taking anything away from the meat. 
Thanks for the delicious food and good company, Mom! We love you!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Thai Basil Chicken

Santa was very good to my cooking blog this year. I couldn’t even get all my new cookware home in my luggage! However, I was sure to fit in an item that I have been anxious to get in my kitchen for some time now – an Asian wok!

I think I was anxious to get back in my kitchen this morning because I found myself grocery shopping at 6 am! I came to find that shopping that early is actually really wonderful and made my Sunday seem extra long.

The recipe below is from the William Sonoma cookbook titled “Chicken”. I will be trying many stir-fry recipes in the next few weeks so check back for more posts! This dish was very light, easy, and delicious. The only critique I would make is if you like vegetables, then add more than 1 red pepper to the mix. Personally, I didn’t think just one was enough.

If you find yourself inspired to take up stir-fry like myself, I encourage you skip your typical grocery store and instead look up a local Chinese food market to purchase sauce ingredients. I bought about 8 different sauces at a store in Madison next to Imperial Garden for $13, which was a great deal!

Hope you enjoy :)

Thai Basil Chicken Stir-Fry

6 tbsp chicken stock
2 tbsp fish sauce
2 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp cornstarch
2 tbsp of vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper
1 or 2 Thai or jalapeño chilies
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb of boneless chicken cut into thin strips
¾ cup fresh Thai basil leaves
3 green onions
1 cup jasmine rice


In small bowl, whisk together chicken stock, fish sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch until fully dissolved. Set aside.

In large wok, heat oil over high heat. Add bell pepper and sauté for 1 minute. Add chilies to taste then garlic and stir-fry until fragrant. Add chicken and cook until the meat loses pink color. Stir in basil and green onions.

Whisk sauce mixture again then pour into wok. Cook until the liquid comes to a boil.

Serve with jasmine rice.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Turkey Kale Quinoa Meatballs


1 lb. ground turkey
¾ cup diced yellow onion
1 cup kale
2 eggs
½ cup quinoa
2 tablespoons butter
1/3 cup crushed croutons or breadcrumbs
1/3 cup Parmesan or mozzarella cheese
¼ cup tomato paste
2 garlic cloves
1 teaspoon thyme
2 tablespoons basil
3 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper


1. Finely chop onion and kale
2. Cook quinoa as directed by normal instructions then sauté in butter for 10 minutes for a little extra crunch
3. Add raw turkey and ingredients into large bowl and mix well with your hands
4. Roll mixture into golf ball sized meatballs and place on baking sheet
5. Spray pan in EVOO and bake on 350 degrees F for 20 minutes (turning your meatballs half way through) or fry in a sauté pan if you like your meatballs more brown
6. Serve with orzo and your favorite marinara - Buon Appetito! ;)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Don't Cry Over Chopped Onions

Chopping is hands down my least favorite part of cooking. Onions are the worst! To give my eyes a break from the burning sensation onions emit, I usually have to stop midway though. A few weeks ago, my mom and I went to demo day at our favorite cooking store in Baraboo, WI called Bekah Kate’s and I found the ultimate solution for dicing onions tear free!

The VeggiChop by Chef’n is a hand-powered tool that quickly dices fruits, veggies, herbs and nuts without the use of a cutting board or knife. To operate, you simply hold the handle and pull similar to a manual start lawn mower. The more you pull the handle, the finer the texture becomes. This kitchen tool has become my new go-to for onion dicing and the perfect partner for homemade salsa or basil creations. Chopping has never been so fun or easy!

For recipes that call for a specific quantity of orange, lemon or lime zest, I love the Chef’n PalmZester. The device slides on your palm for easy movement and stores your zest in compartment which detaches after use. Finally, a mess free zest which can provide you precise measurement!

Tomatoes and strawberries are my two favorite red fruits and are usually bought every time I visit the grocery store. Not only are the Chef’n StemGem Strawberry Huller and Hullster Tomato Corer adorable but they are perfect for getting rid of unwanted stems while saving as much fruit as possible for consumption! And with the Christmas season around the counter they are the perfect stocking stuffer, too! 

Another Chef’n product I recently purchased is the PinPair silicone and French rolling pin. This tool is two rolling pins in one. It comes standard as a rolling pin with silicone skin and with a simple twist you can reveal a traditional wood rolling pin underneath. Versatile and perfect for Christmas cookie cutouts. Tis the season!

For demos of the VeggiChop, PalmZester, StemGem, Hullster Tomato Corer, PinPair and other Chef’n products click here:
Or for directions to Bekah Kate’s and information about the store and upcoming demo days click here:

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Friends with Benefits...

I was born and raised in Wisconsin so liking cheese is pretty much a requirement.

But I don’t just like cheese, I LOVE cheese! Lucky for me, my best friend’s family owns Cedar Grove Cheese in Plain, WI. So after a recent trip home I happily accepted a variety of cheese straight from the factory to experiment with in my cooking.

Cedar Grove Cheese is well known for their high quality traditional and specialty cheeses. The milk for their cheese comes from Wisconsin farmers who do not treat their cows with synthetic growth hormones, some of which are certified organic. In addition, much of their cheese is made without artificial growth hormones (rBGH) or genetically modified ingredients (GMOs). Impressed yet?

If not, you will be after trying this recipe…

For my first experiment, I decided to attempt my very own cheesy broccoli soup using Cedar Grove’s traditional medium cheddar. My desired result was a soup that came in a close second to Panera Bread’s cheesy goodness they call soup. I can honestly say, this recipe surpassed Panera’s broccoli cheddar by long shot! Give it a try by ordering your Cedar Grove cheese here: http://www.cedargrovecheese.com/index.html


4 cups broccoli
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 yellow onion
1 ½ cups of chicken stock
3 cups of Cedar Grove cheddar cheese
¾ heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper to taste

-Begin by shredding the cheese and finely chopping the broccoli and onion. Set aside.
-In a large pot, on medium heat stir together chicken stock, onion, broccoli, and garlic for about 5 minutes. Once it comes to a boil, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.
-Stir in heavy whipping cream and continue to cook for another 3-5 minutes.
-Once the whipping cream starts bubbling, slowly add cheese until smooth.
-Salt and pepper to taste and serve immediately.