Monday, October 5, 2015

Little's Lunches and Mac 'n Cheese Please

Happy Monday! Here's what we had in our lunchboxes last week:
Monday: I rolled up wheat bread and roasted red bell pepper hummus around carrot, cucumber and celery sticks to make sandwich sushi rolls, cheese sticks, veggies with honey mustard and a fruit strip
Tuesday: PB on raisin bread, cheese, red bell peppers, quinoa salad and apple cinnamon straws
Wednesday: M had a field trip, so he got a PB&J, cheese stick, granola bar and dried apples. B got a PB&J, pretzels, veggies and kiwi
Thursday: Cheese, quinoa salad, crackers, a mini banana muffin, a carrot cake energy ball, bell pepper strips and honey mustard
Friday: Cheese stick, hummus carrots and olive wrap, veggies and honey mustard, oyster crackers and grapes
That's what we had for lunches, and this is what we had for dinner
Roasted Poblano and Corn Mac 'n Cheese! It's my entry for a recipe contest and it's up for voting right now. If you have a moment, please go give it a vote HERE!
Corn and Poblano Mexi-Mac 1 lb. elbow macaroni noodles 1 Tablespoon salt 1 poblano pepper 1 teaspoon vegetable oil 4 Tablespoon unsalted Kerrygold butter, cut into small cubes 3 cloves garlic, minced 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 cups milk 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 1/2 teaspoon pepper 7 ounces shredded Kerrygold Dubliner cheddar cheese 3 ounces shredded Kerrygold Aged Cheddar cheese 1 11-ounce can Mexi-corn, well drained 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs 1 cup diced tomato 1 Tablespoon diced jarred mild pickled jalapeño peppers 1 Tablespoon chopped cilantro 1/8 teaspoon salt Preheat oven broiler to high heat. Add the pasta and salt to a large stock pot of boiling water and cook according to package directions. Drain well and set aside. Brush the poblano pepper with oil and place on a small foil lined cookie sheet. Place under the broiler, watching closely for 3-5 minutes, or until skin is blackened and charred. Flip the pepper over and allow the other side to char, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven and place the poblano in a small bowl covered tightly with plastic wrap. Set aside to cool, turn the broiler off and set the oven to 375 degrees. Once the pepper is cool enough to handle, peel away the charred skin and remove the stem and all the seeds. Chop into a small dice. Add 3 tablespoons of the butter and garlic to a medium sauce pot over medium high heat. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Whisk in the flour and continue to cook, about 3 minutes. Slowly whisk in the milk, stirring constantly until smooth and cook for about 5 minutes and allow to thicken. Stir in salt, pepper and cheeses, working in batches, allowing it to melt completely before each new addition. Remove from heat. Pour sauce over macaroni, chopped poblano and corn and stir until the macaroni is coated evenly. Pour the mixture into a large well-greased baking dish and top with panko and remaining butter pieces. Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until top is crisp and golden. In a small bowl stir together the diced tomato, diced jalapeños, cilantro and salt. Once the breadcrumbs are crisp, remove the macaroni from the oven and serve immediately with the tomato mixture.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Little's Lunches

Happy Monday! Here's what we had in our lunchboxes last week:
Monday: cooked apples, broccoli cheese cornbread, carrot raisin salad, carrot cake energy bites, cucumber sticks and black olives with honey mustard
Tuesday: Beef and Cheese Quesadillas, raisins and peanuts, carrot and cucumber sticks
Wednesday: Turkey Honey Mustard Sliders, deviled egg, carrot raisin salad, belvita mini crackers, freeze-dried apple slices
Thursday: cheese stick, beef jerkey, carrots and cucumbers with honey mustard, carrot cake energy bites and pretzel sticks
Friday: Cheese Quesadillas, cheese cubes, carrot cake energy bites , quinoa mexican salad on baby spinach

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The Picante

Do you love grilled cheese sandwiches? 
How about a grilled cheese sandwich loaded with chorizo, roasted corn, poblano peppers, a cilantro vinaigrette and Pepper Jack and Cheddar cheeses?
When I saw that the Wisconsin Cheese Board was hosting a Grilled Cheese Recipe Contest I had to enter and I was so thrilled when they awarded me second place! The first picture is the one I submitted, the second is the one they took.....I think they're both gorgeous and it makes me want a bite!
They sent me $5,000 and a gorgeous basket of gourmet cheeses!
I just want to show you how messy a day of recipe testing can get around here......sometimes it's not pretty
Be sure to check out the Grilled Cheese Academy to see all the other gorgeous entries!

This sandwich combines all of my favorite taco truck flavors in one melty cheesy sandwich! Chorizo, roasted poblano peppers, Mexican street corn salad and a cilantro vinaigrette are all tied together with Dos Quesos! Melty Wisconsin Pepper Jack and Aged Cheddar are the star of the show in this delicious grilled cheese sandwich!

4 ounces fresh Mexican bulk chorizo sausage
1 large ear of corn, husks and silks removed
1 small to medium poblano pepper
¼ cup olive oil
1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
4 teaspoons lime juice
¼ plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon cumin
3 Tablespoons room temperature butter
8 slices bakery jalapeno cheddar cheese bread
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 small clove garlic
1 Tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
4 ounces Wisconsin pepper jack cheese, sliced
4 ounces Wisconsin aged cheddar, sliced

In a medium skillet, fry the chorizo, over medium-high heat until browned and cooked through. Drain on paper towels and set aside. 
Brush the corn and poblano pepper with 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil. In a large grill pan or on an outdoor grill set to high heat, char the poblano until the skin is black and blistering, about 3-5 minutes. Remove from the grill, wrap it tightly in foil and set it aside allowing it to steam. Grill the corn, turning frequently, until all sides are evenly charred. Once cool enough to handle, cut the corn kernels away from the cob and peel the blackened skin off of the poblano. Place the corn kernels in a small bowl and stir together with the mayonnaise, 1 teaspoon of the lime juice, 1/8 teaspoon of the salt and the cumin. Remove the stem and seeds from the poblano and slice into strips. 
Butter each slice of bread on one side only. 
Place the cilantro, garlic, 1 Tablespoon of the lime juice, jalapeno, 2 Tablespoons of the olive oil and ¼ teaspoon of the salt in a small food processor and blend until smooth. Spread mixture evenly on unbuttered side of each bread slice.
Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium-low heat. Place 4 bread slices in skillet, buttered-side-down. Top with remaining ingredients in this order: pepper jack cheese, chorizo, poblano strips, corn, aged cheddar. Top with 4 remaining bread slices, buttered-side-up. 
Grill sandwiches until bottoms are lightly browned, and the cheese begins to melt. Carefully flip the sandwiches over. Cook other sides until bread is golden and the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes per side.

Monday, September 14, 2015

Little's Lunches

Happy Monday! I hope y'all had a great weekend. I was shocked this morning to walk the kids to the bus and it was chilly! I know we will still be sweating on Halloween, but it was nice to have a sneak peek of fall weather. Here's what was in our lunchboxes this week:
Monday: Labor Day, so lunch was at home!
 Tuesday: Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad, peanuts, Key Lime Yogurt, grapes
Wednesday: Cheese Tortellini Pasta Salad, green beans, sunflower seeds, cheese cubes and pineapple with blueberries
 Thursday: Turkey and Chive cream cheese on whole wheat bread, baybel cheese, carrots and honey mustard, strawberry pineapple fruit crisps
Friday: Turkey, spinach and chive cream cheese wraps, carrot raisin salad, belvita bites crackers, fruit strip

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Macy's Great American Grilling Guru

I think my summer flew by quicker than I expected since I hit the ground running as soon as the last school bell rang! The very first day of summer I was on a 6 am flight to Nashville to compete in the Macy's Grilling Guru competition! 
My recipe for  Ancho Orange Grilled Shrimp over Mexican Street Corn Polenta with Poblano Relish and Cilantro Vinaigrette got me one of 6 spots to compete and it was so much fun!!
I met new friends, got to catch up with old ones and tour a city I really love!
Here are some of the highlights:
It was so exciting to walk up and see the stage the morning of the contest! Instant butterflies! It was also cool to hear that the grill tools box set was ours to keep!
Y'all it was SO HOT cooking on those grills in full sun in the afternoon, I really thought I was going to pass out a couple times, and I know a few of the other contestants were feeling sick from it as well. I was trying to stay calm and focus as best I could but I ended up burning my hand really badly about halfway through our time. Unfortunately that totally had me frazzled and I wasn't able to regroup like I wanted. I did the best I could though, and even though I didn't win the grand prize I feel like the finalist package was wonderful! A fun trip with my husband to start the summer off with a bang, a grill tools set and a $500 Macy's gift card- not bad for a day's work, right?
It was equally fun and nerve-wracking to serve the judges, Stephanie Izard and Michelle Bernstein. I usually forget my name and what I'm supposed to say once I get in front of judges but I was able to tell them the name of my dish and I explained how I came up with it as well, so I was really glad when that was over!
In our down time we really loved exploring the city. We got to see the Country Music Hall of Fame, we had some fabulous meals and we got to see a few really good bands play as well!
Ancho Orange Grilled Shrimp over Mexican Street Corn Polenta with Poblano Relish and Cilantro Vinaigrette
1 poblano pepper
4 ears fresh corn, husks and silks removed
2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

Cilantro Vinaigrette:
2 cups packed cilantro leaves
1 large clove garlic
½ of a jalapeno, seeds removed
2 Tablespoons lime juice
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon salt

Mexican Street Corn Polenta:
1 ½ cups chicken broth
1 ½ cups whole milk
1/2 cup quick-cooking polenta
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup crumbled cotija cheese
2 Tablespoons mayonnaise

Ancho Orange Grilled Shrimp:
Zest of 1 navel orange
2 Tablespoons navel orange juice
1 Tablespoon orange marmalade
2 Tablespoons honey
1 ½ teaspoons ancho chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon coriander
½ teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon salt
1 ½ pounds peeled and de-veined jumbo shrimp

Poblano Relish:
1 ripe avocado, diced
¼ cup diced red onion
2 teaspoons honey
Zest of 1 lime
1 Tablespoon lime juice
¼ teaspoon salt

Brush the poblano and ears of corn liberally with the vegetable oil. Place the poblano and corn on a pre-heated, oiled grill set to high heat for about 5-7 minutes, flipping frequently until each side is evenly charred. Remove the corn from the grill, wrap the poblano tightly in foil and set aside. Once cool enough to handle, cut the corn kernels off the cobs and peel, seed and chop the poblano. Lower the grill to medium-high heat.
To make the Cilantro Vinaigrette, blend together the cilantro leaves, garlic, jalapeno, lime juice, olive oil and salt in a small food processor until smooth.
To make the polenta, bring the chicken broth and milk to a boil in a large saucepan on the side-burner of your grill. Once the liquid comes to a boil, whisk in the polenta until smooth. Stir in the salt and simmer, on low heat for 3-5 minutes, until polenta is tender. Gently stir in the cotija, mayonnaise and the grilled corn kernels. Keep warm until ready to serve.
In a large glass mixing bowl whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, marmalade, honey, ancho chili powder, garlic powder, coriander, cumin and salt. Add the shrimp to the bowl and stir to evenly coat them. Set aside to marinate for 5 minutes.

While the shrimp marinate, make the poblano relish. In a medium mixing bowl stir together the chopped poblano pepper, avocado, red onion, honey, lime zest and juice and salt.

Once the shrimp have marinated, place them on the grill for 2-4 minutes, or until grill marks show. Turn with tongs and cook on the second side until the shrimp are just opaque but still juicy, about 2 minutes.

To serve, ladle the polenta into large shallow bowls, top with grilled shrimp, then poblano relish and drizzle with cilantro vinaigrette.

Serves 4-6

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Little's Lunches

Happy Tuesday! I hope everyone had a fabulous long weekend!
We had a weekend full of relaxing and good food. I tried my hand at Chicken Fried Steak for the first time since my son is obsessed with it, and it was all gone before I was able to get a picture of it.
For an appetizer I made stuffed artichoke charbroiled oysters that were out of this world! I posted them sizzling off the grill on Instagram- hop on over and follow me there! 
Here's a peek at last week's lunches:
Monday: peanut butter pretzels, potato salad, cheese, veggies and ranch and grapes
Tuesday: Turkey Sliders with BBQ Ranch spread, cheese, peanut butter pretzels, fruit snack, celery and cucumber sticks and honey mustard
Wednesday: Deviled Eggs, veggies, cheese, sunflower seeds, crackers, prunes and a fruit strip
Thursday: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches, mini cheese wheels, celery sticks and dried cranberries with toasted coconut
Friday: Pretzel Sticks, potato salad, veggies, peanuts, grapes and edamame

Friday, September 4, 2015

Little's Lunches

Hi there! I can't believe we're already finishing the second week of school! This summer flew by for us, and I was busy in the kitchen the whole time. I can't wait to show you what I've been up to soon. For now, let me show you what we had for lunch the first week.
I was pretty surprised when the kids requested "sandwiches. just sandwiches" in their lunchboxes. I sat down ready to get really creative for them and that's all they requested. Go figure!
Monday: Mini Turkey sliders, pistachios and sunflower seeds, prunes, veggies and ranch and a fruit snack
Tuesday: veggies, fruit salad, ranch, crackers and turkey
Wednesday: Turkey Sliders, carrots, prunes, hard boiled eggs and a fruit snack
Thursday: Egg Salad Sandwiches, green apple fennel slaw and applesauce. After I made these I realized my sandwich sized boxes had cracked lids so I used a baggie and ordered another set of yumboxes. I can't wait to get them!!
Friday: Turkey, granola and yogurt, sunflower seeds, pineapple, hard boiled eggs and baby carrots. I didn't realize until this lunch was made how yellow/brown it was! The kids are really loving the little animal "picks" and get excited to see which ones I hid in their boxes that day. They were cheap and really cute!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins

Last night was one of those times where the fridge was bare and I had to make magic with the random items I had left in the fridge and pantry. I had 4 sweet potatoes, 2 ears of corn and a few random cheeses.
I wasn't sure if they would notice that it was a meatless meal, but no one did and I got clean plates and two thumbs up all around. I served it with this Mexican Quinoa- sorta like Mexican rice but using quinoa instead and the changes I made to the recipe were: using salsa instead of chopped tomatoes, ancho chile powder instead of chipotle, added some roasted corn kernels and I topped it with cilantro and green onion. Luckily, my family loved these and I had several requests for the recipe so here it goes!
Southwest Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins
4 small/ medium sweet potatoes
2 ears of corn
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon butter
½ onion, chopped
¼ cup light sour cream (you could use greek yogurt too)
1 teaspoon salt (+ more to taste)
1 tablespoon pampered chef tex-mex rub (you could sub taco seasoning)
½ cup cilantro, roughly chopped
1 cup shredded cheddar-jack cheese
1 cup shredded Pepperjack cheese

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes.
Remove sweet potatoes from the oven when fork-tender. Let cool for 5-10 minutes. Cut the sweet potatoes in half. Scrape the flesh of the sweet potatoes out and place in a mixing bowl, leaving a thin layer of potato inside of the skins. Mash the sweet potato until almost completely smooth.
While sweet potatoes are baking, cut the kernels off the cobs and place it in a heavy cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat with no butter or oil. Sprinkle with salt and other Mexican seasoning (as much as you want). Do not stir! Let corn roast for several minutes before stirring. Let it roast for a few more minutes before stirring again. Continue this for about 10 minutes, until corn is browned and roasted on the outside. Pour the roasted corn in the bowl with the mashed sweet potato.
In the same skillet you roasted the corn in, sauté the onion in the butter over medium heat until soft and translucent. Pour the onions into the mixing bowl with the sweet potato mixture.
Stir the black beans, cream cheese spread, sour cream, salt, seasoning mix, cilantro and cheddar jack cheese. Mix well and then TASTE IT. Add more seasoning if needed and taste it again. Once you like the filling, scoop it into the skins and top each with the pepperjack cheese.
 Broil for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.
If I wasn't making this for my kids, I would have added some pickled jalapenos to the mix, but that would have been too spicy for them. These would be great topped with guacamole too!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Taylor Farms Asian Chopped Chicken Soup

Asian Chopped Chicken Soup
3 cups chicken broth
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large clove garlic, cut in half
1 inch thick slice of fresh ginger
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 ½ Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lime juice
               1 teaspoon sriracha                  
Place the chicken broth, chicken, garlic, ginger and salad dressing packet in a 3 quart pot over low heat. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. In a large soup pot, heat the oil over high heat. Add the salad mixture and sauté for 8 minutes, until vegetables are wilted. Once the chicken is cooked, strain the broth from the chicken and add it to the soup pot. Discard the garlic and ginger and shred the chicken. Add the shredded chicken, soy sauce, lime juice and sriracha to the soup pot and stir to combine. Top each bowl of soup with the wonton crisps and slivered almond mixture.1 package Taylor Farms Southwest Chopped Salad 1 package Taylor Farms Southwest Chopped Salad

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Curry Crunch Chicken Tenders with Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes

As simple as this meal looks and as easy as it is to throw together it is a complete show stopper. It looks totally unassuming and simplistic.
Chicken tenders and mashed sweet potatoes; right?
Red curry Thai chicken fingers coated in toasty coconut granola served with coconut milk mashed sweet potatoes. Those silky creamy sweet potatoes are topped with more of the crunchy granola which reminds me a little of sweet potato casserole minus the sickeningly sweet sugar and marshmallows that typically ruin Thanksgiving sweet potatoes for me.
The flavors are bold, unexpected and earned two thumbs up from everyone at the table!
I just love when that happens.
When I first saw that Golden Girl Granola was hosting a recipe contest it was a no brainer for me to sign up. I brainstormed, settled on what I was going to make, went to the store for all of my ingredients......and then saw on twitter another contestant had made almost the exact same dish I was planning on making.
 Game over. Or so I thought.
Now I'm happier than ever that I did go to plan B because this is even better than my first idea!
When I saw the selection of granolas to choose from, the Home Sweet Honey flavor really stood out to me. I really enjoy taking sweet and savory combos to the next level and that is exactly what I did.
The first thing I noticed when tasting this granola is how toasty it is- it smells like freshly toasted oats, coconut and honey. Why isn't there a candle that smells like that yet?
 Curry Crunch Chicken Tenders with Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes
2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into 3/4 inch cubes
2 teaspoons salt
1 cup Home Sweet Honey Golden Girl Granola
1 pound chicken tenders
2 Tablespoons Thai red curry paste
3/4 cup low fat coconut milk
2 Tablespoons Home Sweet Honey Golden Girl Granola
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
Place the cubed sweet potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Once the water is boiling, add 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. Boil the sweet potatoes until tender, about 10 minutes.
While the sweet potatoes are cooking, place the granola in a small food processor. Pulse 8-10 times until the granola is the consistency of breadcrumbs (a few larger pieces are ok, but the majority should be fine). Pour the crumbs into a pie plate.
Season the chicken tenders with 1/2 teaspoon of the salt and then brush them evenly with the red Thai curry paste. Coat the chicken in the crumbs, pressing to help it adhere. Lay the coated chicken tenders on a parchment lined cookie sheet and spray liberally with non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until chicken is crisp and browned.
While the chicken is baking and once the sweet potatoes are tender, drain them, add them back to the hot pan and mash them until smooth. Add the coconut milk and remaining 1 teaspoon of salt and stir until smooth.
Top each serving of sweet potatoes with granola and cilantro.
Serve immediately.
Serves 4

Monday, June 1, 2015

Little's Lunches 23 and the Giveaway Winner!

Happy Monday! I hope y'all had a great weekend!
Here's what was in our lunchboxes this week:
 Monday: Black Beans, sandwich thin wedges, green bean salad, ranch, shredded carrots, cucumbers and pickles
 Tuesday: Carrot Apple Bread, baby carrots, olives, chicken salad, crackers, ranch, dried cranberries and coconut bites
 Wednesday: Pita wedges, cheese, sunflower seeds, chicken salad, green beans and yogurt
 Thursday: Pita wedges, cheese, hard boiled egg, green beans and yogurt
Friday: Hard boiled egg, Mini-letta Swirls, cucumbers and red bell peppers with basil (right now, M is obsessed with basil and is literally putting it on everything), peaches, mixed nuts and chicken salad
And now for the giveaway!! Thanks so much to everyone that entered!
The winner is Michelle Kusma!! Congratulations!

Pickle Baked Chicken Tenders with Creamy Chili Honey Sauce

Thanks to Hellmann’s 100% Recycled Plastic Bottles and the “Real Taste, Less Waste” challenge I get to share with you a kitchen hack that...