Thursday, March 31, 2011

Almost April


Glad you all enjoyed the re-cap on my latest cooking class! The next one is coming up on April 8th and is titled Spring Fling—it’s going to be all on how to prepare a spring themed five course meal highlighting produce that is in season now, so stay tuned for that! =)


The past week has been a busy one which is the norm lately. Friday I was down in Minneapolis again at the Kenny Chesney concert! It was a great show—Billy Currington and Uncle Kracker opened for him and the show ended up being 5 hours long—it was Kenny’s birthday the next day, so he insisted on jammin’ till midnigh. We definitely got out money’s worth at the concert!!

Before the concert though, we decided on Red Lobster for dinner. I was dying to try their new Lobster Feast! After much debate, I decided on the Grilled Maine Lobster and Shrimp. “A wood-grilled split Maine lobster tail, paired with two skewers of garlic-grilled shrimp topped with creamy lobster butter sauce. Served over wild rice pilaf.” I got it sans rice and subbed a baked potato instead.

Two words: excellent choice!


Then we were off to the concert.

Had to have the right apparel of course—cowboy hats!



Here’s a few videos from the concert too—Kenny Chesney ones coming soon!

Being that the concert was on a Friday, we had the whole weekend to fill yet. We ended up spending it at the Mall of America and just hanging out. There was some giant chef’s cook-off going on at the mall this weekend, we caught a few glimpses.


Shopping and eating out—I’d say that’s a guaranteed good weekend, right?!

Speaking out eating out, Saturday night we went to a new-to-me place called The 5-8 Club in Champlin. It’s actually been featured on Travel Channel’s Food Wars and Man Vs. Food. They are famed for their “Juicy Lucy Burger” which is basically a 1/2 lb burger stuffed with cheese. Did I go with their most popular item? Nope. But what I ordered was still pretty amazing!!


The Buffalo Chicken Sandwich with Jojo Fries


We came home with some leftover food like usual, so I already had my thinking cap on for what to do with the half of a baked spiral ham we had. I decided to use it two different ways so that we didn't get bored!!

First up: Ham, Broccoli, and Pepper Jack Stuffed Potatoes



  • 1 tablespoon (1 turn around the pan) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, chopped
  • 1/2 pound baked ham from a deli ham, sliced 1/8-inch thick, cut into 2-inch thick strips
  • 4 oz pepper jack cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons butter, in small pieces
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup chopped and cooked broccoli florets
  • Salt and pepper
  • Directions:

    Rub potatoes with a drizzle of oil and pierce skins with the tines of a fork. Microwave on high 12 minutes or until tender.

    While the potatoes cook in the microwave, heat a small skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil and saute chopped onions 2 to 3 minutes or until bits are just tender.  Add in broccoli and ham to heat through. Set aside.


    Cool potatoes for 5 minutes, split potatoes down the center, and scrape flesh into a bowl. Set skins aside on a non-stick baking sheet. Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 6-inches from the heat source.


    To the cooked potato in the mixing bowl, add shallots, ham strips, broccoli,  grated cheese, butter, milk, and season with salt and pepper. Mash mixture with a potato masher or dinner fork until mixture is combined, but not entirely lump-free.

    Scoop mixture in even amounts into skins and broil 2 or 3 minutes to lightly brown stuffed potatoes on top.

    Second up: Ham and Pineapple Bisquick Bake



    • 1 1/2 cups chopped fully cooked ham
    • 1 can (8 oz) crushed pineapple in juice, drained
    • 4 medium green onions, sliced (1/4 cup)
    • 1 cup Original Bisquick® mix
    • 1 cup milk
    • 2 eggs
    • 2 teaspoons yellow mustard
    • 1 cup shredded Colby-Monterey Jack cheese (4 oz)


    • Heat oven to 400°F. Spray 9-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray.
    • Sprinkle ham, pineapple and onions in pie plate. In medium bowl, stir Bisquick mix, milk, eggs and mustard until blended; pour over ham mixture.
    • Bake uncovered about 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 3 to 4 minutes longer or until cheese is melted.


    What is your favorite recipe featuring ham?

        Tuesday, March 22, 2011


        Just when you think Minnesota is finally ready to say goodbye to winter, you get this..


        I have my fingers crossed that Mother Nature is possibly pulling an early April Fool’s joke? It’s most likely not the case, but hey, a girl can hope right?


        Lately I’ve been cooking more than usual, so be ready for a flood of new recipes, videos, and product reviews.

        How about starting today with 4 recipes? I taught yet another cooking class for my town’s Community Education program this past Friday.  The theme?



        First, take a look at my other classes here:


        Chocolate Bread with Chocolate Butter


        • Butter, for pans
        • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
        • 2 cups sugar
        • 3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
        • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
        • 1/2 teaspoon salt
        • 1 1/2 cups milk
        • 1 cup vegetable oil
        • 3 large eggs
        • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 2 cups semisweet chocolate morsels
        • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
        • Chocolate Butter, recipe follows


        • Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter and flour (2) 9 by 5-inch loaf pans.

        • In a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, and salt. Beat in the milk, oil, eggs, and vanilla at medium-low speed with an electric mixer until combined. Beat in the chocolate morsels and pecans. Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared pans. Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean, about 1 hour to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Shield the bread with aluminum foil to prevent excess browning. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes. Remove the bread from the pans and cool completely on a wire rack. Serve with rich Chocolate Butter, if desired.

        Chocolate Butter:

        • 1/2 cup butter, softened
        • 2 tablespoons hot fudge topping


        • In a small bowl, beat the butter and fudge topping at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Cover, and refrigerate. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.


        Chicken with Cocoa Tomato Sauce 


        • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves
        • 1/2 teaspoon salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon salt
        • 1/4 teaspoon pepper, plus 1/2 teaspoon pepper
        • 3 tablespoons olive oil, for cooking
        • 1 cup chopped onion
        • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
        • 1 pint tomato sauce
        • 1 pint diced tomatoes
        • 1/2 cup chicken broth
        • 1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
        • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
        • 1 teaspoon dried basil
        • 1 teaspoon sugar
        • Yellow or white rice, cooked and kept warm


        • Season both sides of chicken breasts with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. In a cast iron skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook until browned, about 10 minutes on each side. Remove the chicken from pan to a plate and set aside.

        • Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, onion, and garlic to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, chicken broth, cocoa, oregano, basil, sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of pepper. Stir until well blended. Return the chicken to pan, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Turn chicken over and continue cooking, covered for 15 minutes. Arrange the chicken on a serving platter and serve over rice.

        Recipe adapted from Paula Deen



        Chocolate Chip Cheese Ball


        • 1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
        • 1/2 cup butter, softened
        • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
        • 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
        • 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar
        • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
        • 1 cup mini marshmallows
        • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate morsels
        • 1 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts
        • Chocolate and honey flavored graham crackers and fruit


        • In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese and butter.

        • Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy. Add the confectioners' sugar, cocoa, brown sugar, and vanilla.

        • Beat until well combined. Add the marshmallows and chocolate morsels. Stir to combine well. Cover and chill for 2 hours.

        • Form the mixture into a ball, then roll it in walnuts.

        • Arrange the cheese ball on a serving platter and serve with graham crackers and fruit.

        Recipe adapted from Paula Deen


        Peanut Butter Crunch Brownies

        (aka better than crack brownies)


        • 1 batch brownies (boxed mix)

        • 1/2 cup salted peanuts 1 cup chopped

        • Reese’s peanut butter cups

        • 1 1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

        • 1 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

        • 1/2 tablespoon butter

        • 1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies Cereal


        • Mix brownies according to directions, and bake for 20-25 minutes in a 9 x 13 baking dish. Remove and top with peanuts and peanut butter cups, and bake for 4-6 minutes more.
        • While they are finishing baking, melt chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir in cereal. Remove brownies from oven and evenly pour chocolate mixture over top.
        • Refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

        Recipe adapted from How Sweet It Is

        And here’s some more random shots from the night…




        CIMG4837 CIMG4840




        What is your favorite chocolate recipe?

        Thursday, March 17, 2011

        Spring Break

        Thursday already?

        Happy St. Patty’s Day!


        Lucky Charms Cupcakes

        {Va-va-vanilla cake topped with whipped vanilla frosting, and garnished with Lucky Charms cereal.}


        Andes Mint Chocolate Cupcakes

        {Andes Chocolicious Cake studded with bits and pieces of chocolate mint candy bar, topped with a whipped mint frosting, and garnished with more chocolate candy bar pieces.}


        Wow, I guess time flies when you’re on the last stretch of the semester! I can’t complain though, I had a great spring break that was busy, yet relaxing in the way of just not having to get up and go to class. I spend the week down in Minneapolis which is always a good time. I’ll keep the words to this post on the sparse side and just fill you in with pictures. By the way, if you haven’t noticed I am playing extreme catch up with my Google Reader, so hang in there! =)

        We kicked off spring break by going out to Dave and Buster’s, which if you don’t know, is like a big restaurant/arcade all in one. Tons of fun!


        We also spent a day at the Mall of America doing some much needed shopping!

        All of that shopping sure works up an appetite!


        Healthy Express  strawberry frozen yogurt topped with bananas and a layer of strawberries.

        Friday started off with lunch at Jimmy John’s, which I had never eaten at before. I decided on the Totally Tuna, which is fresh housemade tuna, mixed with celery, onions, their tasty sauce, alfalfa sprouts, cucumber, lettuce, and tomato. But instead of getting it on a sub, I opted for the JJ Unwich which is basically a lettuce wrap.


        We had to make our way across the metro to get to the Xcel Energy Center for the Minnesota State High School Hockey Tournaments. I picked up some new diet sodas for the ride.



        I am in love with the blue kind!

        I also tried a new-to-me yogurt


        Weight Watcher’s Amaretto Cheesecake—pretty tasty!

        We had a lot of fun at the games—17,000 people total were there!


        That night, we ate at one of my favorite places ever—Red Lobster!


        I got the stuffed flounder and grilled shrimp with a baked potato—hit the spot as usual!

        The next day we hit up Bunny’s Bar and Grill in downtown Minneapolis—it’s basically a sports bar with superb food!

        I got their tomato basil soup with a spinach and egg salad—I would highly recommend both and cant wait to go back and try more dishes on their menu!


        We spent the rest of the afternoon pretending we were in a tropical getaway, but instead just hit up the water slides at the indoor Water park of America.


        Our last night we decided to go out to a really nice, authentic Italian restaurant. I had never been to a Buca’s so I was pretty excited! It’s a really fun dining experience; they give you a tour of the kitchen, and everything is served family style. So for example, you order 5 entrees and everyone takes a little of each—way fun!




        We ordered the Chopped Antipasto Salad(Diced pepperoni, red onions, pepperoncini peppers, cucumbers, provolone, feta and Gorgonzola cheeses, tossed with our fresh lettuce blend in our signature Italian vinaigrette), Spicy Chicken Rigatoni (Awaken your taste buds with a new favorite - tender chicken breast sautéed with garlic and red pepper, tossed with peas, a spicy rosa sauce and imported Italian rigatoni pasta), Chicken Carbonara (Tender chicken breast, prosciutto and peas with imported Italian spaghetti tossed in our creamy Alfredo sauce), Prosciutto Stuffed Chicken (Breaded chicken breasts stuffed with mozzarella and prosciutto, baked and topped with marinara, served on a bed of pesto cream sauce), and the Garlic Mashed Potatoes (Our famous mashed potatoes made with skin-on red potatoes and dare we mention…garlic).

        Let’s just say when this meal was done, I was one  full girl!


        After all was said and done, we made one last trip to Sam’s Club to stock up on food. To say we barely had any room in the car would be an understatement—we won’t need food for at least a month!




        What did you do for St. Patrick’s Day??

        Monday, March 7, 2011

        Share Your Breakfast


        (California October 2010)

        It’s spring break, and even though I’m not going anywhere warm, it’s still nice to relax!


        Who doesn’t like breakfast? If you’ve been reading for awhile, you know breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I know a lot of you can relate.

        Now your  breakfast can  make a difference with just the snap of a picture and a few minutes of your time.


        Share Your Breakfast runs from January 20 to July 31, 2011, and provides people with multiple ways to get involved. Each time you share a photo or description of your breakfast, Kellogg’s will donate money to increase school breakfast participation through Action for Healthy Kids.
        $1 donated = 5 school breakfasts shared through the grants distributed by Action for Healthy Kids.


        I shared mine…


        Egg white veggie omelet and kamut puffs with sliced banana topped with cinnamon.

        What are America’s most shared breakfasts so far?

        • 31% Fruit
        • 25% Cereal
        • 20% Milk
        • 16% Eggs
        • 12% Toast
        • 11% Coffee
        • 11% Oatmeal
        • 11% Juice
        • 7% Yogurt
        • 6% Strawberries

        And for Minnesota…

        • 34% shared breakfasts include fruit
        • 3% of breakfasts include bacon
        • 0% of breakfasts include beans
        • 18% breakfasts include eggs
        • 18% breakfasts include coffee
        • 3% breakfasts include ham
        • 9% breakfasts include juice
        • 32% breakfasts include milk
        • 12% breakfasts include oatmeal
        • 9% breakfasts include waffles
        • 6% breakfasts include yogurt


        What is your state’s favorite breakfast??