Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cheesy Meatball Sliders

Do you like beef? Lots of ooey, gooey cheese? Marinara sauce? Cute slider buns (OK, I might be alone on that one)? If so, then you'll want to make this recipe!

This is another one from Iowa Girl Eats. When I saw it, I knew Nate would love it, and I can't help but love anything stuffed with string cheese. Mmm ...

These sliders were really, really, really (you get the picture!) good. I probably said that a few times as we ate dinner. Nate loved them, too (beef and cheese? I knew it was a winner!).

I followed Kristin's recipe pretty much exactly, except that we halved the recipe so we had 8 meatballs rather than 16 (although, thinking about it now, we should have made more!), and we made up our own Italian seasoning mix -- dried parsley, basil and oregano.

We will definitely be making these again, and we're already brainstorming different varieties. One that we will likely make soon is Greek meatball sliders -- meatballs stuffed with feta and topped with tzatziki, tomatoes and red onions. Yum!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Step Aside, Mashed Potatoes

There's a new kid in town. New to us, anyway.

I'm talking about root vegetable mash. I've had it a few times before (the side dish they serve at The Eatery stands out as one of the best I've had), but never attempted to make it. Last weekend's pre-Thanksgiving feast with foodie friends turned out to be the perfect opportunity for making it.

I looked up some recipes online, but ultimately just bought whatever root veggies I could find at the farmers market and added anything else that sounded good and made sense.

The recipe was super easy and very delicious -- the worst and most tedious part was peeling and chopping all of the vegetables. Here's what I used and what I did:

  • 3 big sweet potatoes
  • 4 potatoes (Yukon gold, red potatoes -- anything works)
  • 6 medium-sized parsnips
  • 2 celery roots
  • a small carton of heavy whipping cream
  • about half a stick of butter, cut into pieces
  • garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Peel and cut all vegetables into small cubes Fill a pot (I had so many vegetables that I need to big pots) with salted water, place cut vegetables inside and bring to a boil. Simmer (don't turn the stove too low -- you'll wnat some bubbles) for about 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.

Drain, and place back in pot. Mash vegetables with a masher. Pour in cream and butter, and shakes of garlic, pepper and salt, and beat with an electric mixer. It should be ready to eat then, or, if serving it later, just put back on the stovetop to heat up. This made about 10 servings.

That's all there is to it! I can't wait to try making this again. I think it would be good with any sort of vegetable you can find -- rutabagas, turnips, carrots included. If I made it again, I might tone down the cream (and use skim or 2% milk) and butter. But it's probably tastier the way I made it!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Enchilada Pasta

I've been slightly obsessed with reading one of my favorite food blogs: Iowa Girl Eats. "Obsessed" might be over doing it. Maybe I should just say I look forward to reading it every day, and always make a point to find it at the end of the day or early the next day.

Anyhoo, I came across this post of hers from the other day about an Enchilada Pasta, and I was immediately drawn to a recipe with Mexican flavors that also feature pasta. Score!

The dish was really pretty good, and it was nice to have everything -- protein, a starch, dairy and veggies -- all right in one dish. If I did it again, I might had some black beans to the mix. All in all, it was really good, although it kind of reminded me of a fancier -- or slightly more complicated -- Hamburger Helper-type meal.

Nate and I worked on this meal together, which meant we kind of made up some parts as we went along -- which included both putting varying amounts of spice in the dish, making it a super spicy meal. Good, but spicy! He may have wiped his brow a few times throughout the meal.  

From the start, I decided to change a few things about the recipe. We used ground beef instead of chicken, mostly because we had some in the freezer we needed to use up. Also, we're not sour cream fans, so I subbed plain Greek yogurt, which we always have, for the sour cream. 

Here's what we did for our Beefy Enchilada Pasta:
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • a pinch of two of habanero powder
  • 1 Tbs.-ish olive oil 
  • 2 small red onions, diced
  • 1 small zucchini, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 15 oz. can red enchilada sauce (I used medium spice level)
  • A couple (OK, maybe 10) shakes Cholula sauce) 
  • 4-oz. can diced green chilies
  • 1/2-ish teas. chili powder
  • 1 teas. cumin
  • 1/4 teas. salt
  • 1 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt 
  • 8.5 oz medium sized pasta (I used whole wheat penne)
  • Toppings: chopped avocado, tomatoes, green onions and/or sour cream, if desired
Brown beef and onions, mix in habanero powder and any other spices you'd like.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté zucchini and cook until tender, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant.

In large skillet, add enchilada sauce, Cholula, green chilies, salt, chili powder and cumin. Stir to combine then simmer for 10 minutes, stirring every so often. Add Greek yogurt, cheese and beef to skillet. Mix to combine, warming the skillet if necessary for the cheese to melt.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions. Drain and mix pasta into cheese, beef and veggie mixtures. 

Serve garnished with avocado and tomatoes (and green onions and/or sour cream, if desired).

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Blog Promise

So ... you could say it's been a while, eh?

This past month and a half has been a bit crazy. I started a new job about two and a half months ago, and while I'm really, really enjoying it, it's busier, faster-paced and has a bigger workload than I was used to. So, I've been coming home quite tired and not really willing to look at a computer screen for any longer.

We have also been lax in cooking interesting and blog-worthy meals. The meals that I've had out, well, frankly, I haven't felt like snapping pictures -- or my battery ran out, which is what happened at ethnic dining night at G. Mirch Masala, a new Pakistani restaurant on the northside (get there -- it's REALLY good!).

Plus, I recently took a girls' trip to Las Vegas, so there was no cooking being done right before the trip or right after. However, I will let you feast your eyes on some of the food we ate while we were there.

But, enough excuses. It makes me sad that I haven't blogged lately, and I've even had a few people ask me about it. So I'm making a promise to you, blog readers, that I will post at least twice a week -- mostly likely Tuesdays and Thursdays, and maybe over the weekend if you're lucky.

So, please keep reading, commenting and trying out the recipes for yourself!

And don't forget the eye candy:

Ricotta gnocchi with fennel sausage sauce at Wolfgang Puck's Bar & Grill at the MGM

The best burger Ann, my friend and travel buddy, has ever had at Wolfgang Puck's (I tried a bite -- it was DARN tasty!)

The LEO omlette (lox, eggs and caramelized onions) and roasted potatoes at Serendipity 3

Ann's breakfast quesadilla

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Connect With Me!

Wanna connect via Facebook and Twitter? "Like" my page on Facebook, and follow @onmytableblog on Twitter! You can always email me, too, at

Thanks for reading!

Green Chile Chili

There are many things I love about Colorado -- the mountains, the craft breweries, the skiing and hiking, the laid-back lifestyle -- but one of the things I love most is that you can order delicious, homemade green chile chili just about everywhere you go.

Whenever we're in Colorado -- and we're there a fair amount, with Nate being from Colorado and having plenty of family members there -- I'm always sure to order a cup or a bowl. The style I've had in Colorado always has pork in it and is very thick. It's often served over other foods, such as burritos. Yum!

Green chile chili is always something I've wanted to make and for some reason never did. Until now.

With the cool fall temps and changing leaves, I figured now would be a good time to make our first batch of chili of the season. Nate and I both consulted a few different green chile chili recipes for ideas and insight, and then came up with this recipe.

I have no idea how traditional it might be (I have a feeling it's not too traditional at all), but I can tell you this -- it was delicious, and we will definitely be making it again. It had just the right amount of heat for us (it might be a bit much for those who don't like things too spicy) and the pork and Great Northern beans made it very satisfying. 

Green Chile Chili
  • 1.25(ish) pounds pork (I can't remember what we used, but shoulder or pork butt would work) 
  • 4 Anaheim chiles
  • 1 Poblano pepper
  • 1 banana pepper
  • 2 small red chiles
  • 1/2 jar tomatillo salsa
  • 1 can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 teas. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • flour
  • olive oil
Cut pork in about 1/2-inch to 1-inch pieces (you can cut it after cooking, too, which is sometimes easier). Dredge pork in flour. Heat olive oil -- about a tablespoon -- in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook pork until browned.

Meanwhile, turn oven broiler on high. Place peppers on a foil-lined baking sheet. broil peppers and chiles, other than the small red ones, until blackened, rotating as needed (I think this took me about 20 minutes total). The small red  ones were too small to broil, and ended up crispy. I would just chop those and throw them in with everything else. After the peppers are blackened, place in a plastic bag and seal for about 15 minutes. Peel skin off the peppers, de-seed if desired and chop. 

Add pork, peppers and rest of ingredients to a slowcooker. Cook all day on low (you could also do this on the stovetop for a few hours, but I like how flavorful soups/chilis get in the slowcooker). Serve with cornbread, shredded cheddar, tortilla chips or anything else you'd like.

I was so excited to eat this meal that I didn't take a picture of the finished product. But I'm sure you can imagine what it looked like!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Chicken with Beer BBQ Sauce

This recipe comes from the Cooking With Beer recipe booklet my parents gave Nate a while ago. The recipe -- Pork Chops With Lager-Infused BBQ Sauce -- obviously calls for pork chops, but we had some boneless, skinless chicken thighs we used instead.

The recipe calls for a marinade and then a BBQ sauce to have on the side. Everything was tasty, and I'd definitely make it again. We (well, really, Nate ...) added a little too much beer to the sauce, it was a little more liquidy than it probably should have been. So stick to the measurements!

The recipe also calls for you to grill the chicken, which we did, but you could bake it in the oven just as easily.

For the chicken marinade:
  • 1 cup lager (we used Lakefront Riverwest Stein
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • 3 Tbs. molasses
  • 1 teas. chili powder
  • 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • 3/4 teas. salt
  • 1/4 teas. black pepper
Combine all ingredients besides salt and pepper in a resealable storage bag. Refrigerate 2 hours, turning occasionally.

Prepare grill for direct cooking. Remove chicken from marinade and discard marinade. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. Grill over medium-high heat about 7 minutes per side or until cooked through. Serve with BBQ sauce.

For the BBQ sauce:
  • 1/2 cup lager
  • 1/3 cup ketchup
  • 3 Tbs. maple syrup
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped onion
  • 1 Tbs. molasses
  • 1 Tbs. cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teas. chili powder

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Simmer 10-12 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Italian Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I've wanted to make lettuce wraps for a long time. I always enjoy them when I order them as an appetizer, and they seem easy and healthy. When I saw a recipe for Chicken Lettuce Wraps in the September 2011 Cooking Light -- even though they're Italian-flavored, rather than the typical Asian-flavored -- I thought I'd give it a try.

I made a few adjustments, based on what we had and what I could find:
  • I ended up cooking the onions a bit with the chicken. I thought the raw onion flavor might be too overpowering.
  • Instead of green olives (which I love but Nate does not like), I used capers, which we already had.
  • I couldn't find Bibb lettuce, so I just big leaves of green lettuce.

Unfortunately, this dish didn't turn out well at all (which, if I would have read the comments on the recipe, I would have discovered others didn't care for it either). It really didn't have much flavor, and surprisingly, the lettuce flavor was really overpowering. I think some of it had to do with the fact that the chicken I used -- while it was safe in the freezer -- was fairly old and dry.

I'd love to try making lettuce wraps again, but I think I'll go for the more traditional Asian-flavored ones. Anyone have a good recipe?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Squashy Mac & Cheese

Upon receiving the September 2011 issue of Cooking Light, I just knew I had to make the cover recipe: Creamy, Light Mac and Cheese (oh, how I love mac and cheese!).

The recipe comes from the magazine's "recipe makeover" section. In this section each month, the Cooking Light staff recreates a classic-but-not-healthy recipe, and cuts down on fat and calories. The classic mac and cheese recipe went from 908 calories and 36 grams of saturated fat in one serving to 390 calories and 6.1 grams of saturated fat.

I really love two things about this recipe: it uses cheese I might not normally use and think of for mac and cheese, and it incorporates butternut squash, which I LOVE.

I followed the recipe very closely, except for a couple of things:
  • I used vegetable broth, rather than chicken broth (I don't quite understand why vegetarian recipes often call for chicken broth when you can easily use vegetable broth ...). 
  • I found a type of Gruyere to use (Compte) from the West Allis Cheese and Sausage Shoppe at the Milwaukee Public Market, but I couldn't find the other two cheeses the recipe calls for. At the cheese shoppe, I asked what would be comparable to pecorino Romano cheese, and they suggested a type of cheese called lamb chop. We had some shredded Romano cheese that I used in place of the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. (I put all the cheeses in the food processor so that I didn't have to grate everything. It worked really well!)

I think the recipe turned out really well, and was filling without being heavy. I would definitely make it again, and might try different cheeses--a smoky Gouda would definitely be tasty.

After reading through some comments people left at the bottom of the recipe page, I might take some advice and eat the mac and cheese without baking it. I think it would be even creamier this way.

Restaurant Review: The Eatery on Farwell

A few months ago, the #mkefoodies group held at tweetup at The Eatery on Farwell. Nate and I, of course, were in attendance, and we happened to win a $25 gift certificate in the raffle. Score! We finally used it just a few weekends ago. During the tweetup, we sampled tons of food, and all of it was really tasty. So we were definitely looking forward to our meals.

Neither of us were super hungry, so we didn't start out with any appetizers, but our waiter brought out some tasty fresh-baked bread and butter for us to snack on. With that, we ordered some beers. We both tried a unique brew--The Eatery Brew, which is a sampling/combination of whichever six taps the restaurant has at the time. Maybe surprisingly, it was really tasty! We should try it at home sometime ... 

The Eatery's menu is super extensive, so it took us a while to decide. For meals, Nate had one of the night's specials: steak with a creamy peppercorn sauce, alongside peapods and mashed potatoes. It was all very tasty, and a perfect amount of food.

I ordered an unusual-sounding dish: pig in a pot. Turns out, as odd as the name might be, it was delicious! Inside an actual terra cotta pot--with a flower on top!--was pork tenderloin with mushrooms, sauce and muenster cheese. I had the same vegetables--pea pods--on the side as well as root veggie mashed which was especially delicious and something I can't wait to try to make at home. Even though Nate had the perfect amount of food, my meal came with a ton of food, so I had some to take home, which was great.

All in all, we had a great experience--great service and good food, and there is plenty more on the menu I'd like to try.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Veggie Tacos

Last Sunday, I was craving two things: something vegetarian and something Mexican. Veggie tacos sounded like a good idea, so I did some Googling, and came across a recipe from Eat, Live, Run, a blog I've been following for a while now.

This recipe for Vegetable Soft Tacos with Chipotle Sour Cream provided the foundation for our veggie tacos. We didn't quite do everything the recipes calls for, and used some things we already had instead of buying new.

The second half of the ingredients list is where we went in a different direction. We followed the recipe to bake the veggies and beans, and then for toppings, we used used some romaine lettuce and sliced tomatoes we had leftover. We added some avocado slices and some shredded pepper Jack cheese (next time, I'd opt for a salty Mexican cheese--by the time everything was piled on, you couldn't even taste the pepper Jack).

I think next time I'd try the chipotle sauce, but would probably use plain Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, because I always have some on hand and I'm not much of a sour cream person.

Our version of these tacos turned out really good--there was a lot of good flavor, and despite there being no meat or protein, the tacos were really filling. Also, the recipe says it makes 3-4 servings, but our meal provided 5-6 servings!

Beer-Baked French Fries

As many of you know, Nate is a home brewer. He often tweets (@NathanAlesBrew, if you're interested) about beer trends, new beers and meals involving beer. It was one of these posts that caught my eye.

He posted this recipe for Garlic and Salted Beer-Baked French Fries, and I thought they would pair nicely with some buffalo burgers. The fries were really easy to make. The recipe suggests using New Belgium's Somersault beer, but anything is fine. We used a random bottle we had in the fridge: Scrimshaw, a pilsner, from North Coast Brewing.

The only thing I might do different next time is use garlic powder and/or garlic salt, rather than minced garlic. Many of the bits of garlic fell off the potatoes and burned.

If I remember correctly, we baked our fries for about 40 minutes. Unless they're really thick-cut, I don't think you'd want to bake them for an hour.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Salmon & Peach-Tomato Salsa

I picked up some wild salmon at Trader Joe's the last time I was there and had been keeping it in the freezer for future use. I remembered this Cooking Light cover recipe for Grilled King Salmon with Tomato-Peach Salsa from the July 2011 issue, and thought it would be a good one to make.

And it turns out it was. Super tasty, easy and healthy. I didn't use mint because I didn't want to buy too much and have it go to waste. Also, we only had two pieces of salmon, which were about 8 oz. each. We made the entire batch of salsa, though, and had it with other leftovers later in the week. Lastly, I didn't use grape tomatoes, but rather just regular, big tomatoes because we already had some. I think they worked fine, they just made the salsa a little more liquidy.

The only thing that didn't work so well with this recipe is that we overcooked the salmon, something we do too often. The grill was too hot, so the salmon was rather dry. But, with a lot of salsa on top, it was hard to tell it was overcooked.

I'd definitely make this recipe again, and I'd use the salsa for just about anything--including to just have with chips!