Sloppy Joes & Chocolate Malts!

Good Morning MIAMI!  I bet you are starting to wonder each week just “where in the world is Robin?”  I wonder that myself sometimes.  🙂

This week…I am in Miami for both work & pleasure.  I figured if I was making the trip South, it was worth adding on a day or two to soak up some sun.  With that in mind, I called up my sister and sister-in-law and suggested they meet me here.  No coercing necessary and their flights were booked.  Isn’t it amazing what a little sun can do?  🙂

With sun-kissed cheeks and a GB trip to the SuperBowl just weeks away, there is a lot to be celebrated.  (It’s the little things in life.  Remember that.)  I promised you I would share our celebratory dinner last Sunday night after the GB win over the Bears.  You were probaby expecting something fancy…like steak….or lobster…but NO…this dinner included a childhood favorite of mine:  Sloppy Joes & Chocolate Malts.  I can’t tell you the last time I had sloppy joes.  I am pretty sure I was under the age of 18 and living in my parents house.  A chocolate malt…even that was probably ages ago.  So with this win, I decided it was time to pull out a couple of old favorites. 

I will never forget the nights my mom would come home from work and say we were having sloppy joes for dinner.  Music to my ears!  I am not sure if it was the sloppy joe I was all that excited about…looking back, I think it had a whole heck of a lot more to do with the chocolate malt that would accompany it.  🙂  It wasn’t too often we were allowed treats.  No Happy Meals (ok, rarely).  No fruit snacks.  No twinkies.  But every now and then…there were malts!  Thank Heaven.

To start this old-school dinner, I whipped up a couple of our everyday salads…what we call the “Boudreau Balsamic Salad” at our house.  I don’t remember having a salad with this meal growing up….but we are pretty serious about our veggies these days!

Next up…making the sloppy joes.  After reading several recipes on the Food Network, I opted to go with Rachael Ray.  With 467 reviews and 5 stars…I thought it was safe.  One minor adjustment…the addition of a chopped jalapeno.  You just gotta have some KICK!

SUPER SLOPPY JOES

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef sirloin (or chuck)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend, such as McCormick brand Montreal Seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, chopped (Robin’s addition)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worchestire Sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 crusty rolls, split, toasted, and lightly buttered
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat.   Add oil and meat to the pan.   Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up.   Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning.   Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine.   When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet.   Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes.
 
 
Add tomato sauce and paste to pan.   Stir to combine.   Reduce heat to simmer and cook sloppy joe  mixture 5 minutes longer.   Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile sloppy meat onto toasted, buttered bun bottoms and cover with bun tops.   Serve with your favorite sides…a kosher dill pickle and a couple of chips! 
 
Sloppy & Satisfying.  Have plenty of napkins on hand! 

Last, but CERTAINLY not least….we whipped up batch of Chocolate Malts!  Ryan was new to this process but he caught on quick.  Last year for our 13 year anniversary (really, what!?), I bought him a “real” malt maker so we could make malts the way my mom and grandma always made them.  I still remember my grandma’s malt maker.  Sweet memories.  🙂

 

Apparently a year later, we still hadn’t used the one I bought.  But with a quick tutorial, he was on his malt-makin’ way!    A couple scoops of vanilla ice cream.  A couple tbsps of chocolate malt mix.  A swirl of hershey’s syrup and a quick pour of milk and blend away!  Finish with whipped topping and a cherry.

They were as good as I remembered…

Heavenly really.

Can you tell by the look on his face?

Truth be told…my malt was GONE in a flash.  And being the thoughtful husband he is, he let me finish the last sip of his too.  🙂  YUM!

Treat yourself to a childhood favorite this weekend.  You would be amazed at what a little bit of sunshine can do…And you would be amazed at what reliving a childhood memory can do!  This tradition shall live on in our house!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

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Showered with Pizza…Vino…& CUPCAKES!

Ok…first things first….THE PACKERS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL!!  WooHoo!  What a fun game…and relaxing Sunday.  I will share our celebratory dinner with you later this week.  In the meantime, let me tell you about what we did on Saturday.  🙂

Saturday marked one of the coldest days of the year so far…and the beginning of the end of a pregnancy for our friends Jeremy & Sara!  It is hard to believe, but their 9 months is almost up and Baby S will be here in no time.  To celebrate, Ryan & I hosted a baby shower for J & Sara at Cedar Ridge Winery in Swisher Iowa.  I know I know…not your traditional baby shower…but it was “our-kind-of-shower!”  No games…just wood-fired pizzas, vino (for those not pregnant), cupcakes, friendship, & laughter. 

 

        …The hosts…                                              …& the Guests of Honor…

To start our gathering, there were apps such as meat & cheese platters, assorted breads, and olives! 

To wet the whistles of our attendees, wine tastings!  A few favorites:  Reserve Red, Marechal Foch, & Five Seasons.

And to satisfy the growing appetites, wood-fired pizzas!  Iowa Bourbon BBQ Chicken, Margherita, and Philly Cheesesteak to name a few!

There may not have been games…but their were gifts to shower Mom & Dad-to-be.    My friend Sarah Granquist recently started selling “Thiry-One”…which includes some of the cutest bags I’ve seen.  So as I planned a little something for this Sara and her husband Jeremy, I thought, why not order them an embroidered “Baby S” tote bag and fill it with some essentials!  Boudreauxs Butt Paste, Aveeno lotions and shampoo, Boogie Wipes, Hinder wipes (lol), a blankie, and a couple little outfits!  If you are wanting or needing to do something similar…check out Thirty-One.  🙂

 

Last but not least…there were CUPCAKES!   If there is one thing you can’t take out of a baby shower…it is cupcakes!  And lucky for me, my good childhood friend Holly is just starting up her business….Cakes…Cookies…Cupcakes.  Aren’t these adorable?  Thank you, Holly!

Some Marble…Some Chocolate Chip…

All topped with buttercream frosting and sprinkled with love!

If you are needing cupcakes for an upcoming event, reach out to Holly.  hollyjlauer@gmail.com  or…find me and I will put you in touch.  🙂

All in all…a great weekend!  Congratulations Jeremy & Sara.  We anxiously await meeting Baby S.  And to the Green Bay Packers…we love you!!

Enjoy your week this week!  It is just the beginning….

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Chicken & Dumplings

And this week, I wish you a good morning from Chicago!  Chicago…home of the Bears who are awaiting a loss on Sunday to the NFC Champs-to-be…GREEN BAY.  HA!  I am travelling again for meetings but waiting anxiously to get home and enjoy a Green Bay Packer game on Sunday.  I am still kicking myself for forgetting to pack my Rodgers jersey!  You might think I am kidding, but I had every intention to wear my green and gold proudly into the meeting today (which will packed with Bears fans).  In all honesty, I expect a close, entertaining game….but I look forward to a “W” for GB.  It is Rodger’s time to shine.  🙂

Growing up in Wisconsin, a love for the Packers is instilled very early on.  I will never forget seeing my dad on the couch every football Sunday afternoon…hooting and hollering at the top of his lungs.  There were years that I would look at him in awe…and confusion…and quite frankly, thought he was crazy.  There were years I would sit there along with him.  And now, I find myself (even when watching the game alone), clapping, cheering, and shouting at the tv…sometimes the same ol’ comments Hot Rod taught me all those years ago. 

Look closely…I was very serious about GB being #1.  Do you see that little finger?  LOL

In addition to my love for the Packers, I also grew up LOVING Chicken Dumpling Soup.  My grandparents would often take my sister and I to a restaurant (truck stop in Abbotsford WI) called “Mr B’s”.  There was nothing I looked forward to more than lunch with Grandpa and Grandma.  My order always included (and never swayed):  a side salad with french (sweet & tangy) dressing and a bowl of chicken dumpling soup.  Since when does a kid order a salad?  Don’t worry…it was really the dressing I was after.  🙂  But the soup….I will never forget the soup.  So this week…(finally)…I decided it was time to attempt homemade Chicken & Dumplings (Tyler Florence style).  I knew I was in for a solid 3.5 hours…but I trusted every bite would be worth it.  Man was I RIGHT!

If you have time this winter, give this recipe a try!  If you prefer a thicker Chicken and Dumplings style dinner, make this recipe exactly as Tyler describes.  If you are looking for a Chicken and Dumpling “Soup”…make this recipe with my modifications.  DELICIOUS.

CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS

Recipe by TYLER FLORENCE

Level:  Intermediate
Serves:  6 servings

Roasted Chicken:

  • 1 (3-pound) whole chicken
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 lemon, halved and juiced; halves reserved
  • 1/4-cup fresh chopped herbs, such as thyme, parsley and rosemary
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed
  • Fresh whole herbs, such as rosemary, thyme and parsley sprigs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.   Remove the neck and giblets from the cavity of the chicken and discard.
 
 
Rinse the chicken under cold water, inside and out. Pat dry thoroughly with paper towels.   Season the body and cavity of the chicken generously with salt and pepper. 
 
In a small bowl, mash together the butter, lemon juice, and chopped herbs.  Rub the herbed butter all over the chicken, as well as under the skin.   Put the lemon halves, onion, garlic, and whole herbs inside the chicken cavity, for added flavor. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Place the chicken, breast side up, in a roasting pan fitted with a rack. 
 
 
Roast for 1 hour until the meat is no longer pink.
 
 
When cool enough to handle, shred the meat, discarding the skin and set aside. Reserve the bones for chicken stock.
 

Chicken Stock:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 1 garlic bulb, halved
  • Reserved chicken bones
  • 2 quarts cold water
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves 

To prepare the stock, coat a large stockpot with olive oil and place over medium heat.   Add the vegetables and saute for 3 minutes. Add the reserved chicken bones, water, and herbs; simmer for 1 hour.  
 
 
Strain the stock to remove the solids and set aside.

Dumplings:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk
To prepare the dumplings: sift dry ingredients together in a large bowl.   In a small bowl, lightly beat the eggs and milk together; pour the liquid in the dry ingredients and gently fold.   Mix just until the dough comes together, the batter should be thick and cake-like.
 
 

Supreme Sauce:

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1/2 cup diced carrot
  • 1/2 cup diced celery
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • Freshly ground black pepper, for garnish
  • Chopped flat-leaf parsley, for garnish

To prepare supreme sauce:
 
In a dutch oven, melt butter and heat oil over medium heat. Add carrot, celery, garlic, and bay leaves.
 
 
Saute until the vegetables are soft, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour to make a roux. Continue to stir and cook for 2 minutes to coat the flour and remove the starchy taste. Slowly pour in the chicken stock, 1 cup at a time, stirring well after each addition.
 
Let sauce simmer until it is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 15 minutes. Stir in heavy cream.
 
Fold the reserved shredded chicken into the sauce and bring up to a simmer. Using 2 spoons, carefully drop heaping tablespoonfuls of the dumpling batter into the hot mixture. The dumplings should cover the top of the sauce, but should not be touching or crowded.   Let the dumplings poach for 10 to 15 minutes until they are firm and puffy.
 
  
 
Season with freshly cracked black pepper and garnish with chopped parsley before serving.
 

ROBIN’S MODIFICATIONS:

  • Add 2 tsp Penzey’s Chicken Soup Base
  • Add 6 cups store-bought low sodium Chicken Stock (additional)
  • Add 1 tbsp chopped Parsley to the soup

Let simmer for 30 minutes or until fully heated through.  Garnish as listed above and serve with love.  🙂

Mmmmmmm.  Comfort.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

The Atlas

“Great restaurants are, of course, nothing but mouth-brothels.  There is no point in going to them if one intends to keep one’s belt buckled.”  ~Frederic Raphael

Good Morning from New Orleans!  I hope you have all had a great week.  I am looking forward to going home tonight…to see my family…to sleep in my bed…and to eat food I like!  LOL  (Seriously…the food down here just isn’t my thing.  Sorry!)

If there is one thing I love about living in Iowa City, it is the plethora of great restaurants!  Sure, I can do the every day chain restaurants (fave: Panera!) every now and then, but having phenomenal local restaurants sprinkled all over town has been a blessing.  Truthfully, after leaving Minneapolis to  move to Iowa City, the last thing I expected to find was great food (seriously….in Iowa?!).  Boy was I wrong. 

While there are several I could rave about, a consistent favorite over my last 7 yrs in Iowa City has been ATLAS.  I.Love.The.Atlas.   For those of you who live in the area, I am sure you can agree.  For those of you who haven’t been…give it a try!  A  few of my favorites are below.

Appetizer:  Chips and Salas (seems simple enough, right?)  This salsa is soo good!  It has a smoky chipotle twist.

Other great apps include the Black Bean Hummus, Boulder Rolls, and BBQ Shrimp Voodoo.  Tasty!

My favorite salad (though also on the app menu): The Atlas Mixed Greens w/ Champagne Vinaigrette (the croutons are awesome!)

And my favorite main course:  The Atlas Mac N Cheese!!  (the slow roasted tomatoes on top are to die for! I always order extra. LOL)

Of special note:  the lunch menu offers a “Mini Mac” option….which is plenty!  The dinner portion is definitely enough to feed 2 (if you are up for sharing.)

 

Or if you are like me…taking some home for leftovers is always good too!  (Just don’t forget some extra tomato topping to go.)

Other dinners/lunches that tempt me include the Buffalo Chicken Burrito & Tomato Bisque Soup.  But I’m not going to lie, I have a hard time wavering from the Mac N Cheese.  So.Good.

Take a break from the kitchen this weekend and treat yourself to dinner out.  Support a local restaurant.  They are hard to beat!

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.

Chicken Wild Rice Soup

Well, we made it to the weekend once again!  That alone is reason to celebrate.  I hope your first week back to work in 2011 was as busy and productive as mine.  🙂

I hope that amidst the work though, you found time to cook at least a couple satisfying meals and squeeze in some time for laughter & unwinding with friends.  I, fortunately, was able to do both!   First, I whipped up a batch of homemade Chicken Wild Rice Soup.  Do you remember that trip to the North Shore of Lake Superior that Ryan and I made last August?  During that relaxing weekend away, we whipped up Buffalo Drummies and Roasted Tomato & Olive Oil Linguine.  And on our way out of Two Harbors, MN, we stopped at Buddy’s to pick up some Minnesota favorites!

 

Within seconds of walking in…I knew exactly what I was looking for:  Hand Parched Wild Rice.  With Fall & Winter approaching, what better time to buy “fresh” (if you want to call it that) wild rice and attempt homemade Chicken Wild Rice Soup for the first time.

Rice in hand, all I needed now was a recipe!  Luckily Buddy had a recommendation (go figure!).  Buddy recommended a recipe by Beatrice Ojakangas…he assured me that she was “Good!”  He claims that even Oprah had her on the show.  LOL.  I don’t know if that is actually the case…I didn’t take time to look her up…I just trusted.  And good thing Idid….this soup is good! 

CREAMY WILD RICE SOUP

Recipe Courtesy of:  Beatrice Ojakangas

Serves 6

  • 1/2 Cup raw wild rice
  • 1 1/2 Cup water
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 lb mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1/4 Cup chicken broth
  • 1 Cup Cream
  • 2 Tbsp sherry
  • My addition: 1 rotisserie chicken, cubed
  • My addition: 1/2 cup finely shredded carrot

Wash wild rice in 3 changes of hot water; add to water in saucepan, heat to boiling, cover and lower heat; simmer 35-45 minutes.  Saute onions, carrots, and mushrooms in butter until onion is translucent, 3-5 minutes.  Add flour and stir, cooking for 5 minutes.  Stir in chicken broth and bring to a boil; stir until smooth and flour is thoroughly cooked.  Add wild rice, chicken, cream, and sherry, stirring until heated through.  I let my soup simmer uncovered for 30-45 minutes or until the desired consistency.

Serve with freshly baked bread and enjoy!  Hearty. Comforting.  Classic.

In addition to enjoying a few servings of wild rice soup this week, I also managed to squeeze in a few hours with friends on Thursday night.  Typically a Girls’ Night involves my close group of girlfriends…cooking together, laughing together, and lounging together.  This time however, our group expanded (friends bringing more friends) and we scattered around my kitchen island to indulge in the latest sampling of Tastefully Simple products.  I’ve said it before and I will say it again…I am not a huge fan of home sales parties…there is something about inviting friends over to potentially “buy” goods that just doesn’t sit well with me.  That said, there are some products that are just too good not to share!  (And besides, any reason to have a group of girls gathered in my kitchen is a good reason to me!  How great it was to meet new faces!) 

Another disclaimer – I am the biggest advocate for “homemade” foods…but I also understand that there is a definite time and place for some “semi-homemade” favorites!  You might remember the 30th birthday party/Luau that I threw for Ryan…Roasted Red Pepper Shrimp Skewers and Pomegranate Chipotle Pineapple Bacon Bites, anyone?!  The favorites this time around remain the Fiesta Dip, Spin Art Dip, Cinnamon Muffin Melts, Beer Bread, and Merlot Sauce to name a few!  And to top it all off, Tastefully Simple now has a CREAMY WILD RICE SOUP!  Again, I am usually pretty skeptical of packaged soup, but this one tasted like Panera’s!  (Not kidding)  If you need soup in a flash, I highly suggest this one!  (Add some rotisserie chicken and call it done!)  My “book party” is open through Monday…so shoot me an email if there is something you are needing to order from TS.  (robinkattre@hotmail.com)

Enjoy your weekend.  Indulge…and recharge!  Monday will be here in no time.  🙂

Indulge.  In Life. In Love.  In Food.

Mom’s Banana Bread

We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year’s Day.  ~Pierce

 

Happy 2011!  I hope you all enjoyed healthy, happy holidays surrounded by the ones you love.  And as we all work (literally) our way into the new year, I wish you much success! 

As I reflect on this past month, I find that I am apologizing to you all about my lack of posts more than I am actually posting…so for that I apologize again.  🙂  I think have come to finally accept that I cannot post as often as I’d like…not with the longer hours in my “real” job (good things!)…and my personal promise to focus on family.  There have been too many times that my husband has said, “Are you DONE on the computer, yet?”  This hasn’t been an easy realization to swallow…but I accept now that I can’t “do it all”.  Wow.  I said it.  The truth is, I could continue to try to fit it all in….but I wouldn’t be as successful in any one area as I expect myself to be.  And success, by my measure, isn’t easy to achieve. 

With that, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to FOCUS.  Focus on Family.  Focus on Work.  Focus on Fitness.  And Focus on Indulge.  My goal is to share with you via Indulge once a week and more when able.  Once a week is a far cry from my original attempt to post 3 times a week but…if I’ve learned one thing over the years, the only constant is change.  So with the times, I adjust again.  Indulge is such a pleasure for me…and I look forward to that time each week.  So please, keep coming back.  I enjoy hearing from you!  What are your New Year’s resolutions?

Perhaps another New Year’s resolution of mine should be to more carefully proof-read my Christmas cards next year!  For those of you who received the Boudreau Christmas card this year, you may have noticed just exactly what I am talking about!  Unfortunately, in my included Banana Bread recipe there was a MAJOR typo.  Instead of the recipe reading, “….3 Tbsp Sour Milk, 2 Cups of Flour”….it read, “3 Cups Sour Milk”!!  Seriously.  Without flour…and with an obsene amount of milk…all you are left with is Banana SOUP!  I am so sorry for this error.  To my knowledge, only one person actually MADE the recipe…I hope there aren’t more that I don’t know about.  And now that this was brought to my attention, I give you today’s post….MOM’s BANANA BREAD….the correct recipe.  😉

MOM’S BANANA BREAD

Makes 1 Loaf

  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 2 Eggs, beaten
  • 2 Cups Flour
  • 3 Tbsp Sour Milk (add 1/2 tsp vinegar to milk to create sour milk)
  • 3 Bananas, mashed
  • 1/2 Cup Butter, softened
  • 1 Tsp Baking Powder
  • 1 Tsp Baking Soda

Add baking soda to sour milk.  Mix remaining ingredients. 

Bake at 375 degrees for 50-60 minutes. 

 

I don’t know about you, but I prefer mine just slightly undercooked!  YUM!

Remove from pan immediately.  Wrap to serve later…

Or slice and serve immediately!  Top with a healthy dab of butter…

And INDULGE!

People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.  ~Unknown

Make the most of your year.  Make the most of 2011.  Indulge.

Indulge.  In Life.  In Love.  In Food.