Tag Archives: Recipes

Strawberry Basil Soda

Yesterday, we participated in the Walker’s Point Food Crawl in Milwaukee.  One of the restaurants on the Food Crawl, Meraki, had several homemade sodas on the menu, including basil soda.  In spite of my initial reservations, I decided – why not?!?!?!  And . . . . drum roll . . . the soda was by far one of the best things I have ever had!!!

Inspired, I decided to try and make my own basil soda.  I found this recipe, and made it my own:


  • 1 pound strawberries, trimmed
  • 1 cup water
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 3/4 cup basil leaves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • Soda water


  1. Puree strawberries in a blender.
  2. Add strawberry puree, water, lemon juice, basil, and sugar to a medium sauce pan.
  3. Heat over medium-high heat until boiling.
  4. Simmer 5-8 minutes stirring frequently.  Do NOT walk away, the mixture could easily boil over and that is a mess one would not want to clean!
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  6. Strain syrup.
  7. For serving, mix 2 tablespoons of syrup, lots of ice, and soda water (and vodka if you are over 21) in a glass.
  8. Enjoy!

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When asked for comments, Ryan stated that the soda was “an explosion of deliciousness,” and “like Six Flags Great America — a roller coaster in my mouth.”  I think he may have had too much sugar, Murphy and I will monitor him closely.

I also made honey ginger peach soda, but I don’t think I am quite done with that recipe yet.  It still needs a few more tweaks!  I am also thinking about trying blueberry mint!  What other combinations should I try?

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Ryan’s Peanut Butter Cookies

A few weeks ago Ryan and I were grocery shopping, and he decided he needed peanut butter cookies.  Instead of buying pre-made dough from the store, I promised Ryan that if he found a recipe online I would make him homemade peanut butter cookies.

So, when we got home off Ryan went to his office, with Murphy close on his heels, to research peanut butter cookie recipes.  Twenty minutes later my boys came back downstairs with a marked-up recipe.  Not only had Ryan found a recipe, but he had made revisions!!!!!  This had the potential to be truly horrible — the last “recipe” Ryan came up with was mixing Fritos with peanut butter for a snack.

Nevertheless, being the “good” wife I am, I followed his recipe as requested (and he says I am incapable of “obeying”).  Here is the recipe he found as a starting point, here is what we ended up with:


  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 cup Reese’s Pieces


  1. Preheat the oven to 340 degrees.
  2. Mix together butter, brown sugar, and peanut butter until smooth.
  3. Add egg, milk, and vanilla.
  4. In a separate bowl, mix tougher flour and baking soda.
  5. Add the flour mixture to the to the peanut butter mixture.
  6. Mix in Reese’s Pieces.
  7. Drop rounded spoonfuls onto cookie sheets (Specific Ryan Instruction: use parchment paper to make clean-up easier).
  8. Press down with a fork in a criss-cross pattern (also a Specific Ryan Instruction because apparently peanut butter cookies must have a criss-cross pattern).
  9. Bake 8-10 minutes.
  10. Let cool for a few minutes before moving to a wire-rack to cool completely.
  11. Eat a few (or all of them) while they are still warm.


Ryan and Murphy were both pleased with the end-product.  I am thinking I should put Ryan in charge of finding more recipes!!


Recipe Notes:

  1. You may need to preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  I use dark, non-stick pans, so I always turn the oven down about ten to fifteen degrees.
  2. I intentionally omitted the salt because we are trying to use less salt.
  3. I like to refrigerate my cookie dough for at least 30 minutes before baking, but this isn’t necessary.
  4. Ryan thought that the cookies were better they next day when they were cool from being in the refrigerator.


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Buttermilk Pancakes

Murphy and Ryan love “cakes” for breakfast, and it is definitely a better alternative than mulch for breakfast.

I am also discovering that pancakes for breakfast, will make your husband do anything.  I think they have some sort of magic mind control powers.  Since breakfast, Ryan has cleaned the entire kitchen, is now vacuuming the entire downstairs, and plans to give Murphy a bath later (shhhhh, don’t tell Murphy).

Did somebody say bath?

Did somebody say bath?

If you would like your husband to turn into a super husband, here is my favorite recipe for buttermilk pancakes (adapted from here):


  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • Frozen blueberries (optional)


  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon with a whisk.
  2. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and whisk just until blended.
  4. Let sit for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Cook over medium to medium/low heat (depends on the size of your burners) until golden brown on each side. If adding blueberries, add them right after you pour the batter on the pan/griddle.
  6. When finished cooking the humans’ cakes, make three small cakes for your spoiled dog.
Behold the magical cakes:
Pancakes & Sausage
Perhaps the secret powers of the cakes are too strong.  As I was typing this, Ryan came over and vacuumed me.
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Homemade English Muffins

On Friday night, Ryan and I went to the grocery store (I know married couples sure know how to have fun), and Ryan wanted to buy English Muffins.  Instead of just agreeing with him, I made the mistake of asking him if he wanted me to just make homemade English Muffins.  Of course he said yes.

We tried this recipe once before over the summer, and it turned out great.  It does take a bit of work, but on a cool-fall Sunday morning, with a fresh cup of coffee in my hand I don’t mind.

Here is the recipe that I started with.  I pretty much followed it exactly, with only a few tweaks.  Most of my changes were because I used the stand mixer with a dough hook instead of kneading the dough.

  • 1 cup of warm water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 5 cups all purpose flour (+ extra for sprinkling)
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • Cornmeal
  1. Add water to bowl of stand mixer.  Sprinkle the yeast over the warm water.  Set aside for 5-10 minutes
  2. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, butter and honey until the butter is melted. Cut the butter into small pieces so that it melts quickly. Let cool.
  3. Add milk mixture to the water/yeast mixture
  4. Add flour and salt.  Using a dough hook attachment mix in the first three cups of flour until most of the flour is incorporated.  Add salt and remaining flour, and mix until a ball forms.
  5. Lightly sprinkle cornmeal on two cookie sheet. 
  6. Split dough in two.
  7. Roll out the dough (you will need to add flour so that it doesn’t stick) until its a 1/2 inch thick.
  8. Cut out circles (I used  a water glass, so mine were a bit on the smaller side), place on a cookie sheet, and sprinkle the top with cornmeal.  Cover and let sit for 45 minutes.
  9. **Optional** If you do not have a warm/sunny spot for the dough to rise in, preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Place the cookie sheets in the oven, and turn the oven off.
  10. Heat a cast iron pan (or any other pan with a heavy bottom) over medium heat.
  11. Place each muffin the pan and cook on each site until browned (think medium brown/golden brown not dark brown).  Flip and repeat.
  12. Then eat!!!

I like to top my English muffins with either honey or peanut butter, but you can add whatever you like.


Also, Murphy wants you all to see his new bow tie.  Someone loves him very much and made him a new knit bow tie!!!



It isn’t the best picture, because Murphy loves napping about as much as he loves his bow ties!!! Murphy decided to try mixing prints – what do you think of the red bow tie with the blue paisley collar?? I told Murphy it was a little much, but Murphy insisted that the ladies would love it.

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Berger Cookies Recipe

And yet, another recipe that I plan to change.

Here is the recipe – here.

I used version 2, not version 1.  I pretty much followed the recipe exactly, except I used brown sugar instead of white sugar, because I was out of white sugar.  Next time, I plan to use dark chocolate instead of semi-sweet.  I also think that I would use the shortbread cookie for other recipes, possibly with jam instead of chocolate, or in addition to the chocolate :).

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Also, by sheer happenstance, I stumbled upon one of the most amazing combinations ever.  Berger Cookies and Popcorn – the sweet and salty combination is amazing!!  So, I am thinking of finding some way to combine the two in an official recipe – any suggestions???? Popcorn cookies???

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Pit Beef Recipe

Here is recipe I started from for the Pit Beef – here.

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I needed to change the recipe because I was cooking the meat inside and not outside.  Here is the recipe I ended up with:


  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder
  • Kaiser Rolls
  • Eye Round (2 1/2 to 3 pounds)
  • “Tiger Sauce”


  1. Combine the garlic powder, black pepper, salt, and chili powder.
  2. Place the dry rub all over the eye round, and let the round rest in the fridge.  I placed mine in a plastic bag, and let it rest for about 4 hours.  I then removed the the round and allowed it to come up to temperature on the counter for approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  4. Heat cast iron pan over high heat.
  5. Sear meat on all sides, then cover meat and place it in the oven for approximately 45 minutes or until meat is the desired doneness.  I wanted something closer to medium than rare.
  6. Allow meat to rest for approximately 15 minutes, and then slice to desired thickness.
  7. Pile on a Kaiser Roll, top with Tiger Sauce, or whatever else you want, and enjoy.  For the Tiger Sauce, I mixed together a little horseradish, greek yogurt, and siracha sauce.



I think I will try this recipe again, but on a grill, and I also think I will buy an electric knife for the next go round.  As you can see from the picture above, I desperately need an electric knife – hint, hint Ryan.  I think I would also add sauteed onions next time.  The recipe calls for raw onions, but I am not the biggest fan of raw onions.

When it comes to recipes, I always find myself changing the recipe.  Do you typically follow recipes exactly, or do you change them?

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Dutch Oven Bread

Yum Yum Yum!!!!

This may potentially be the best bread I have ever made.  The crust was amazing!!!!I have tried a few bread recipes over the last year or two – here and here – so I am thinking that we may need to have a bread cooking challenge to determine once and for all the best of the bests.  I am sure Ryan will not complain.    In case you haven’t noticed, this house will never be a carb free house.

I started with this recipe from the Lean Green Bean.  I needed to tweak the recipe because I didn’t have any bread flour or whole wheat flour.  I know that one should not mess with recipes while baking, but I have thus far been successful with changing recipes and not having any major catastrophes.

Here is the recipe that I ended up with:

  • 3 cups all purpose flour (plus more for kneading)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of sugar
  • 1½ c warm water
  • 2¾ tsp active dry yeast
  1. Pour the warm water into bowl of stand mixer.
  2. Add yeast and a pinch of sugar and let sit for 5 minutes.
  3. Add salt and flour and stir until a ball of dough is formed.  Watch closely and stop the mixer as soon as a ball forms.
  4. Remove the dough from the bowl and spray with nonstick spray.  Place the dough back in the bowl and cover and let rise in a warm place for 3 hours. (I put the bowl by the window in the sun because it was nice and sunny outside, but otherwise I would have put the dough in a warmed oven).
  5. Remove dough from the bowl and knead for 5-10 minutes.  Place dough back in the bowl and let it rise again.
  6. While dough is rising, place your dutch oven (uncovered) in the oven and preheat to 430 degrees F.  Leave the dutch oven in the oven for 15-20 minutes.
  7. Carefully drop into the dutch oven.
  8. Cover and let bake for 30 minutes.
  9. Uncover and let bake 10 minutes longer.
  10. Remove loaf from dutch oven and let cool. (But do not let it cool too much because warm bread fresh out of the oven is the best!)


As soon as I sliced into the bread, I knew it was going to be delicious!!!!


My only complaint was that it would be difficult to make multiple loaves at one time.  Ryan pointed out that this is probably a good thing because we would want to eat all of the bread right away!!!  That boy sure comes in useful sometimes!!!

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Burrito Bowls

For my first “healthy” recipe, I bring you burrito bowls.

I love this recipe for weekday lunches.  I make a little extra on the weekend, and then I do not have to make lunch in the mornings – a win win for this girl who loves to get every extra minute of sleep in the morning 🙂



  • Quinoa – start with 1 cup uncooked – makes 3 cups cooked Quinoa (I usually use rice, but decided to try Quinoa for the first time – I liked it, Ryan is on the fence)
  • 1.25 pounds Ground Turkey (this is size that was on sale, ordinarily I would only use a pound)
  • 2 cans Diced Tomatoes and Chilies
  • 1 can Black Beans
  • 1 bag Frozen Corn, cooked (I use the steam in the bag variety)
  • Spices (cayenne pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, red pepper flake, etc.) to your liking


  1. Brown ground turkey.
  2. Add spices (I usually add a combination of chili powder, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, red pepper flakes) and diced tomatoes and chilies to the
  3. Heat black beans, adding whatever seasoning you like 
  4. Now for assembly:
    1. 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
    2. 1/4 of the cooked ground turkey
    3. 1/4 of the black beans
    4. 1/4 of the corn
    5. Add cheese, sour cream, and salsa depending on your preference – for weekday lunches I do not add any toppings

Nutritional Information (per serving- these servings were on the large size)

  • Calories – 564
  • Carbohydrates – 66
  • Fat – 14
  • Protein – 42

Cost Information

Item Price Quantity Total
Quinoa 3.39 0.50 1.70
Ground Turkey 3.99 1.00 3.99
Roundy’s Diced Tomatoes and Chiles 0.69 2.00 1.38
Roundy’s Black Beans 0.79 1.00 0.79
Corn 1.00 1.00 1.00
Total     8.86
Servings 4.00    
Total Per Serving     2.21

And now for a Comparison of sorts:

A Qdoba Burrito bowl with ground beef, rice, black beans, and pico de gallo costs at least $6.00 and has the following nutritional information:

  • Calories – 580
  • Carbohydrates – 65
  • Fat – 20
  • Protein – 34
So, I ask you, is what I made “healthy,” what would you do to make it healthier, would you eat it or would you got to Qdoba?
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Smothered Chicken


Yesterday  I came across this fantastic recipe for smothered chicken.

I cut down on the butter and added more chicken, to make it a little healthier (because I am officially on a wedding diet), and overall it was delicious.


I will definitely be keeping this one in the regular rotation!!



Here is the recipe:




  • 3.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (I cut most of these in half because they were so monstrous. We ended up with a total of nine servings worth of chicken)
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/4 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 4-6 cloves of garlic (depends on the size)
  • 1 bag baby spinach
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese
  • 8 ounces sliced mushrooms
  • 2 plum tomatoes (next time I will either omit the tomatoes — to much liquid — or use sundried tomatoes)
  • 4 ounces mozzarella cheese






  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray to make cleanup easier.
  2. Trim fat off chicken and season based on your preferences (I used garlic powder, pepper, paprika, red pepper flake, and little seasoning salt).
  3. Bake chicken for 24 minutes
  4. Melt butter in saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add onion and saute until translucent.  Add half the garlic and saute for 2 minutes.
  5. Add spinach and cook until wilted.
  6. Reduce heat to low and add cream cheese and parmesan cheese.
  7. In a separate pan, over medium heat, melt butter.  Add mushrooms and saute until most of the liquid is gone.  Add the rest of the garlic and salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Remove chicken from oven, turn each chicken breast over, and then top with mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach and cheese mixture, and mozzarella cheese
  9. Return chicken to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes.






I served these with baked french fries (one of Ryan’s favorites!)


And for the rest of you on a health kick, here is the nutritional information.  (I ended up getting nine pieces of chicken once I cut the chicken breast into normal sized pieces)

  • Calories – 333
  • Fat – 11
  • Carbs – 3
  • Protien – 44




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Red Velvet Brownies the Recipe

Public Service Announcement: Please make sure that you have several other people in the house when you make these brownies.  Otherwise there will be nothing stopping you from eating the entire pan of brownies.  They are AMAZING.

The original recipe comes from Newleyweds and can be found here. Follow the recipe exactly because the recipe is perfect! I made a few tweaks because I was short on a couple of things, but I highly recommend not changing the recipe in the slightest.  

Here is a copy of the recipe (with the tweaks that I used) – but in the spirt of full disclosure this is NOT my recipe.  I changed it a bit because I change everything, but if you want the original source go here.


  • 1 cup  unsalted butter (two sticks), at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 container red food coloring
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 6 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a 9 X 13 clear glass baking pan with Pam.
  2. In a stand mixer, beat together the butter and sugar on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. 
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition, then stir in food coloring and milk.  I used half of a container of food coloring  (way less than what the recipe called for) and it was seriously deficient.  The brownies still tasted AMAZING, but they did not look as wonderful as the original recipe.
  4. Mix flour, cocoa and salt in a separate bowl. 
  5. Slowly add in the flour mixture.
  6. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir up the batter with a rubber spatula to ensure the flour is incorporated.  
  7. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 35 minutes. 

I know you are not supposed to, but I cut and ate these and ate a brownie right out of the oven. And then I ate a second.


I told Ryan that next time I am going to add chocolate chips or maybe marshmallows to the recipe.  But now I am thinking that maybe I won’t.  Instead I  am trying to figure out the next time that I will make these wonderful brownies, and where I can buy red food coloring in bulk!

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