Saturday, January 7, 2012

Our Site is Moving to WordPress!

Come check out our fresh new WordPress site:

We're going to be adding some great new features this year to enhance our site for our readers: Amber's Healthy Tip or Recipe of the Week, Monthly Restaurant Reviews, Jason's Food Photography Tips, Bi- Weekly Food + Drink Explorations and of course our regular cooking diaries each week.  Happy New Year!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

New Year's Crown Pork Roast with Cornbread Stuffing

Welcome to 2012! We hosted a great diner party to ring in the new year and our menu was based on a few key components: easy, budget friendly, delicious, impressive.
Amazingly, this meal was all of those and more.  We had each couple bring a component to share: appetizer, salad, dessert and as the host we prepared the main entree.  This not only took a lot of pressure off us for all the little things that can add up in money and time, but it also allowed each guest to contribute something they love.  We chose crown roast pork for it's beautiful presentation and it is very budget friendly at $5/ lb.  Our sides are all produce- whole foods with simple prep and ingredients which we mostly had on hand.  Our grocery list was very small- veggies, herbs, the roast, fresh bread, fresh flowers, wine/ champagne and our cheeses.

Our menu looked like this:
Assorted Cheeses with Fresh Baguette Slices
Spinach Artichoke Dip
Sliced Tenderloin of Venison
Panko Crusted Shrimp
Shrimp Cocktail

Wedge Salad with bacon, avocado, blue cheese, tomato and red onion

Main Course:
Crown Roast of Pork
Cornbread Stuffing
Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Carrots with Garlic, Lemon and Parsley
Parsnips in a Parsley Herb Butter Sauce
Homemade Butter with Honey
Homemade Chimi Churi

Ice Box Cake, ( Chocolate Cookies layered with Vanilla Ice Cream)
Chocolate Dipped Fruit

We had a wonderful time serving our guests and enjoying the party, everything timed perfectly.  We made sure to prep all our sides the day before and some the morning of.  The parsnips, potatoes and carrots were all tossed in their goodness the day before and in sealed bowls in the fridge, we seasoned and sealed the roast the night before, the Cornbread was baked off in the morning and then all assembled and in the fridge, we made the sauces/ butter day of, and 5 hours before serving time we took out the roast to come to room temperature.  Each of the sides were oven and stove top ready and just needed to be cooked off.  Doing a roast is the perfect way to have an easy dinner party- it needs to cook for a while so you have time to prep ( or nap if the prepping is done!) and then when it rests you can finish off all the cooking in the oven with the sides- while we enjoyed the salad with our guests.  Read below for all our recipes on how we made this easy, budget friendly, delicious, impressive meal:
Cornbread Stuffed Crown Roast of Pork
adapted from Paula Dean
Pork Roast:
6 tablespoons olive oil
8 cloves garlic, chopped
4 tablespoons chopped fresh sage
2 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons pepper
1 (10-pound) crown of pork, rib ends frenched
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1 large green bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium white onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
6 cups crumbled cornbread ( my recipe used is next)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1 teaspoon hot sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

For the pork roast: In a blender, puree the oil, garlic, and sage until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Rub the mixture over the pork roast, making sure to cover the areas between the chops. Transfer the pork to a roasting pan and cover it with foil. Refrigerate it for at least 2 hours and up to 48 hours. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour before roasting.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Turn the roast upside down (rib bones down) in the roasting pan. Roast for 20 minutes, and then reduce the heat to 350 degrees F and roast until an instant-read thermometer reads 155 degrees F when inserted 2 inches into the center of the meat, about 1 1/2 hours more.

For the stuffing: Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the green pepper, onion, celery, and garlic and cook until softened, stirring occasionally, for 7 to 10 minutes. In a large bowl, combine the vegetable mixture with the crumbled cornbread. Add the eggs, broth, rosemary, cilantro, hot sauce, salt, and pepper and stir to combine. Slowly stir in more broth, if needed, until the stuffing is moistened. Press the stuffing into a 2-quart casserole.

Thirty minutes before removing the roast, place the stuffing in the oven. Bake until golden, about 45 minutes.

When the roast is done, remove it from the oven, tent with foil, and let stand for at least 15 minutes. When the stuffing is done, mound half of it on a serving platter. Flip the roast upright on top of the stuffing. Fill the center of the roast with the remaining stuffing. Slice at the table

Gluten Free Buttermilk Cornbread Muffins
adapted from The Baking Beauties
Yields 12 muffins

1/2 cup butter or margarine
1/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 cup low fat buttermilk
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup cornmeal
1 cup Pamela's Baking mix
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/2 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease muffin pan and set aside.
In a microwave safe bowl, melt butter. Stir in sugar.
Add eggs and stir to combine, Stir in buttermilk.
Add dry ingredients, and stir until few lumps remain, scoop into prepared muffin tin.
Bake for 20 minutes in preheated oven, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow to cool in pan for 5 minutes before removing to cooling rack, crumble and use in the stuffing recipe above!

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Whole Carrots with Fresh Herbs and Garlic
adapted from Tyler Florence

3 lbs assorted fingerling potatoes
1 lb whole carrots, top leaves removed only
2 sprigs fresh rosemary
3 lemons, halved
6 cloves garlic, left unpeeled
2 cloves, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus for sheet pan
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 500 degrees F and place a baking sheet inside to heat.

Add potatoes, rosemary, sage, thyme, and garlic to a medium bowl. Drizzle with olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Remove sheet pan from oven, lightly coat with olive oil, and pour potatoes onto pan. Place potatoes in oven and reduce heat to 425 degrees F. Roast for 20 minutes, or until crispy on outside and tender on inside.

Herbed Butter Parsnips
adapted from Tyler Florence

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 pounds parsnips, peeled and sliced into circles
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Herb Butter:
1 stick ( 1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup mixed chopped parsley
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the olive oil and butter into a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the vegetables and toss to coat them well with the fat; season with salt and pepper. Add 1 cup water and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to a simmer, cover the pot, and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the Herb Butter by combining the soft butter and herbs together; season with some salt and pepper.

Add the hot vegetables and Herb Butter.

Chimi Churi
adapted from

1 bunch flat leaf parsley
8 cloves garlic
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1 lemon (juice of)
2 tablespoons diced red onion
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt

Pulse parsley in processor to chop. Add remaining ingredients and blend.

Homemade Butter

1 pint heavy whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon honey

In a stand mixer with whisk attachment, whip cream with salt and honey until it becomes solid and separates from the liquids, 6-8 minutes.  Drain excess liquid and scoop into serving dishes.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Corn Cakes

With the holidays upon us, so quickly as usual, easy and fast meals are the ticket!  Here you can use easy ingredients that you most likely have in your pantry and fridge to whip up these cakes.  This whole meal is surprising decadent, and filling.  Serve with a small mixed greens salad with fresh cilantro and lime vinaigrette to really round it all out.

Serves 4
adapted from Eating Well

1 cup instant brown rice
6 scallions, trimmed and sliced
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves, crushed
1 cup frozen corn
1 cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed
1 cup tomato salsa, mild, medium or hot

1.Cook rice with the amount of water called for in the package directions, adding scallions, garlic and thyme to the water. Remove from heat and stir in corn, breadcrumbs, salt and pepper. Let stand for about 5 minutes to cool slightly.

2.Whisk eggs in a large bowl until frothy. Add the rice mixture and mash with a potato masher until the mixture holds together (it will be fairly soft), about 1 minute. Shape the mixture into 8 patties.

3.Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a medium nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Carefully transfer 4 patties to the pan with a spatula and cook until browned and crispy, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate; cover to keep warm. Wipe out the pan with a paper towel, add the remaining 2 teaspoons oil and repeat with the remaining 4 patties.

4.Meanwhile, combine beans and salsa in a small saucepan and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until hot, about 5 minutes. To serve, divide the beans among 4 plates and top with 2 patties each.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Multi-Grain Raspberry Pancakes

There really is no better vehicle for raspberries then a pancake, those finicky seeds get lost in the soft fluffy layers of cakes, and permeate they're sweet goodness throughout.  We found a pint of these pretty berries at the grocery store for $.98 and they were pretty much ready to be be eaten pronto.  So, first thing Sunday morning, was to relax with some coffee and some of these.  It was a great start to a fantastic Sunday- these are packed with nutrients, but taste SO light and SO good.  They'll keep you feeling fuller longer and get you through your 3 mile run + hot yoga class or a chilly Bears game!  :)


Mix together the dry ingredients in a small bowl:
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup old fashioned oats
1/4 cup corn meal
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together the wet ingredients in a medium bowl:
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 1/4 cups fat free milk
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Combine the wet and dry in the medium bowl, batter will be lumpy, then fold in 1 pint of fresh raspberries ( chopped up), you can reserve a few for garnish.  Set your oven to "warm" and place a pie plate on the middle rack.  Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat, spray with cooking spray.  Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, scoop mixture and pour onto hot pan, leaving at space between each pancake.  When the batter bubbles, they are ready to flip.  Cook an addition 1-2 minutes and then place on a pie plate in your oven to keep warm while you finish up the rest.  Serve stacked with real maple syrup and fresh raspberries ( good to-go rolled up with a dab of peanut butter and slices of banana!)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Tofu Garam Masala

The first time we ever tried Indian Masala was at a little restaurant in Sheboygan called the Grotto.  It was amazing.  The flavors are so complex yet familiar and delicious- creamy, mildly spicy, tomatoey- with the bright color ( and mild flavor) of turmeric, with ginger, garlic, onion, coriander, spicy red pepper flakes and finally the Garam Masala blend of spices itself.  Inspired to make this dish at home, much time was spent scouring recipes.  We wanted something simple, not heavy, but of course it should taste like Masala!  And wefound it- of course with our own adjustments to make it even better.  The challenge, and this was a few years ago now, was to find Garam Masala in the spice aisle.  Nowadays you shouldn't have a problem and you can easily find delicious Naan bread to scoop up your sauce with... The original recipe calls for chicken so I'm going to put both ways below, tofu is just as delicious but requires less simmering time and water and more pan searing to crisp it up.

Chicken Masala Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Canola oil
1 large onions, or 2 small ones, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large inch of fresh ginger, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
3/4 rounded teaspoon ground Tumeric
1/2 rounded teaspoon Red Pepper flakes, more to taste
3/4 rounded teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 rounded teaspoon ground Coriander
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded to be even thickness throughout each
1 cup water
2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup plain non fat yogurt, for garnish
2 cups cooked brown rice
Naan Bread

Cut the pounded chicken in to cubes, season with salt and pepper.  In a large dutch oven pan, heat oil over medium flame.  Once hot, sear the chicken on all sides ( about 4 minutes total) and then set aside, tent with foil.  To the same pan add a bit more oil then add onion, garlic and ginger- cooking over medium heat till they just turn golden- 8 minutes.  Add in the peppers, all the spices, tomato paste, and stir till all well coated/ combined.  Stir in the yogurt to combine then add the water and the chicken breasts in a single layer to the pan.  Simmer for 15 minutes till the chicken is cooked through.  Taste and adjust with salt/ pepper.  Then divide the rice between 4 shallow serving bowls, top with one forth of the chicken/ sauce/ veggies.  Add more yogurt and the green onions for garnish, serve with Naan bread. 

Tofu Masala Ingredients:

1 tablespoon Canola oil
1 large onion, or 2 small ones, chopped
8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large inch of fresh ginger, chopped
2 bell peppers, chopped
3/4 rounded teaspoon ground Tumeric
1/2 rounded teaspoon Red Pepper flakes, more to taste
3/4 rounded teaspoon Garam Masala
1/2 rounded teaspoon ground Coriander
3 tablespoons tomato paste
3/4 cup plain nonfat yogurt
1 package ( 16 ounces) Firm Tofu, drained, pat dry with paper towels and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 cup water
2 green onions, chopped, for garnish
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup plain non fat yogurt, for garnish
2 cups cooked brown rice
Naan Bread

Season your tofu with salt and pepper and a dash each of Tumeric, Coriander, Ground Ginger, Red Pepper Flakes, and Garam Masala, gently combine with your tofu so it doesn't break apart. In a large dutch oven pan, heat oil over medium flame. Once hot, sear the tofu on all sides ( about 10 minutes total) and then set aside, tent with foil. To the same pan add a bit more oil then add onion, garlic and ginger- cooking over medium heat till they just turn golden- 8 minutes. Add in the peppers, all the spices, tomato paste, and stir till all well coated/ combined. Stir in the yogurt to combine then add the water and the tofu to the pan. Simmer for 10 minutes so the tofu is infused with the sauce. Taste and adjust with salt/ pepper. Then divide the rice between 4 shallow serving bowls, top with a breast of chicken and a one forth of the tofu/ sauce/ veggies. Add more yogurt and the green onions for garnish, serve with Naan bread.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Healthier Blueberry Muffins

Ellie Kreiger has been a kitchen staple for us these past couple years.  She has brought 3 cookbooks to our kitchen that have all become indispensable.  Each recipe is based on making healthier and most of the time- fresher more flavorful- versions of our favorites.  Cooking from her books makes us feel good about what we make and what we are eating.  In her latest cook book, Comfort Food Fix,  she shares a healthy spin on classic blueberry muffins and true to form, they are just as tender and delectable, our all time favorites still will always be the Fig Muffins, however!  Using half whole wheat flour, low fat buttermilk, applesauce and zest of lemon are all ways in which these muffins add a nutritional punch and flavor to a muffin!

Adapted from
Ellie Krieger Comfort Food Fix
makes 12 muffins

Nonstick cooking spray

1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour

1 cup whole-wheat flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. table salt

1/4 tsp. baking soda

2 large eggs

3/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup canola oil

1 cup natural unsweetened applesauce

Zest of 1 whole lemon
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract

3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk

1-1/2 cups fresh blueberries

Position a rack in the center of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Coat a 12-cup standard muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a medium bowl, whisk both flours, the baking powder, salt, and baking soda.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and oil until the mixture is pale and slightly frothy. Whisk in the applesauce, lemon zest, and vanilla. With the whisk, stir in about half the flour mixture, then half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and then the remaining buttermilk, stirring until well incorporated.

Gently fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter among the muffin cups, filling them to the top. Tap the pan on the counter to remove any air bubbles. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center of one of the muffins comes out clean, 20 to 30 minutes.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and then unmold. Serve warm or let cool completely and store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or wrap individually and freeze for up to 3 months.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Potato and Leek Bisque

This is a gem of a recipe from our very new Eating Well Cookbook!  It's a great velvety smooth, thick, rich creamy potato soup ( think delicious mashed potatoes!)- next time we'll keep some potatoes chunky and add some peas and lean ham to give it more stew texture and mix this up a bit.

Potato-Leek Bisque
8 servings, about 1 cup each

adapted from Eating Well

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3 pounds leeks, white and light green parts only, sliced
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 1/2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and diced
3 cups nonfat milk
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground white pepper, or to taste
2 ounces grated Parmesan
Thinly sliced fresh chives for garnish

1/4 cup minced pitted Kalamata olives
3 anchovies, minced
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 slices baguette, toasted


1.To prepare bisque: Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add leeks and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, until very tender but not brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Adjust heat as necessary and add a bit of water if needed to prevent sticking. Set aside 1/3 cup of the leeks in a small bowl.

2.Add garlic and red pepper flakes, stir for a minute then add potatoes, milk and broth to the pot. Bring to a simmer (do not boil) and cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes are very tender, 15 minutes.

3.To prepare croutons: Meanwhile, add olives, anchovies and black pepper to the reserved leeks; mix well. Divide evenly among the toasted baguette slices.

4.When the potatoes are tender, remove from the heat. Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in a regular blender. (Use caution when pureeing hot liquids.) Season with the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, lemon juice and white pepper. Divide among 8 soup bowls and float a crouton on top of each. Garnish with chives and Parmesan, if desired.