Friends forging a course together through the unexpected

Trying my Hand at Pickling September 1, 2015

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 6:14 pm
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So I could spend some time in this post apologizing for my long absence, or I could just get on with my post.  I don’t want to make excuses so I’ll choose option two!

Along with my theme of being behind, I realized one of my Christmas gifts from Dave has gone unused.  He got me a box of spices from Urban Accents.  I was really excited about it when I got it, but I stowed it away and you know what they say about out of sight out of mind…I opened the box up and one item in there really caught my eye: a Sweet & Tangy Pickling Spice.  I have never made my own pickles before and I thought I’d give it a shot.

box of spices

My town has a Farmer’s Market every Thursday morning.  The problem is I usually remember it as I drive past it on my way to work.  Last week I remembered on Tuesday and I made sure I was up in enough time on Thursday to go on a walk, stop by the Farmer’s Market and pick up some farm fresh cucumbers!  The packet in my spice box only called for 1lb of cucumbers, but the deal was $7.50 for a plastic grocery bag full.  I had $8 cash on me so it seemed perfect.  Fast forward to this past Sunday when I started this recipe and I realized 1lb is only 3 cucumbers!  Needless to say I need to come up with something to do with all the rest of the cucumbers I have now.

The recipe doesn’t require much:


1 lb cucumbers, 1 cup white vinegar, ½ cup granulated sugar, 1 cup water1 packet pickling spice


  1.  In a medium pan, pour the water and vinegar in and bring to a boil.
  2. Open the spice packet and add it to the boiling mixture along with the sugar.


3.  Make sure the sugar is dissolved and then lower the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.

4.  While the mixture is simmering, wash and cut the cucumbers into spears.

5.  Place the spears in a heatproof dish and pour the hot mixture over the spears.

6.  Let these sit for 1 hour at room temperature.


As you can see in this photo, I first poured the mixture into a bowl.  I immediatly realized the mixture wouldn’t cover the cucumbers so I moved the spears and mixture to a shallow dish.  This still didn’t cover them completely so every once and awhile I’d turn the spears making sure they call got a fair time to soak.


 After the hour was up, I tried a pickle and it was delightful.  The only thing that was lacking was the temperature. I like pickles cold.  The package told me to serve the pickles immediately or refrigerate.  I decided to refridgerate so I could get the cool crunchy pickle I craved!  I fit all the spears into a tall glass jar (I knew I kept these for a reason!) and proceeded to pour the mixture into the jar.  Well that filled up about ¾ of the way.  I knew they needed to be covered completely so I ended up adding some water.  I screwed on the top and then turned the jar upside down a few times to make sure the mixture was fully combined.  I was pretty pleased with how easy it was to do this and how accomplished I felt.  Do you have a special recipe you use for pickling?  I’d love to hear about it!


Mustard Herb Pork Rack December 31, 2014

Filed under: Karla — Uncharted @ 7:26 pm
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Before we were married, Matt and I started a tradition of celebrating our Christmas a day or two before Christmas Eve. This way it could be the two of us and not combined with our families regularly scheduled festivities. The tradition grew to include preparing a meal, presents and then a special breakfast for the morning after.

This year we decided to change up our Christmas meal. For the last three years we have dished up an herb roasted lamb rack with mustard roasted potatoes and asparagus with a hollandaise sauce. Inspiration fell into my mailbox in early December from my butcher. In their weekly newsletter they listed a bunch of holiday dish ideas and one was a pork rack. I told Matt about the idea and he was on board. Since we like having leftovers, I ordered a rack for six people.

I had Matt pick up the rack after work the Monday before Christmas. When I got home, he asked me if I wanted to see the piece of meat. I was a little curious and said sure. He came out with a huge rack featuring 13 ribs! Definitely more than enough for six people.

Now I just needed to find a recipe…good thing we have the Internet. In one of the top five results for roasted pork rack, I found it. A rack of pork with an herb-mustard crust. The recipe called for only a six rib roast, so I cut the rack in half and freezed what was leftover.

We decided to keep our roasted mustard potatoes because they are delicious and rounded out the meal with honey-glazed baby carrots and broccoli. The recipe called for a gravy, but I opted not to make it and Matt and I both thought the roast was just right without it. We liked the meal so much we agreed to make it again today for New Year’s Eve.

Our NYE dinner

Our NYE dinner


Here’s my recipe adapted from Fine Cooking:

  • One 6-rib bone-in pork loin (about 4 lb.)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbs. extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 shallots, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground smoked paprika
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 3/4 cup panko bread crumbs (about 2 oz.)
  • 2 to 3 Tbs. Dijon mustard

Heat the oven to 425°F. Season pork with salt and pepper to your tasting. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. If you have a flameproof roasting pan or a large ovenproof skillet, use that. Unfortunately, I don’t have one yet, so I just got my 12-inch All-Clad saucepan dirty.

With your skillet of choosing, brown the fat-covered surface of the pork until it turns a deep golden brown. This took me only five minutes. Then I moved the rack to my roasting pan and turned it so the roast rib side  was facing down in the oven. I basted with the remaining olive oil every ten minutes, for 30 minutes.

While the meat roasted I started on the bread crumb mixture. In a skillet I melted the butter and add the garlic and shallots until they were soft. Then I add the the cumin and smoked paprika and stirred until they were well mixed. Once ready, I removed the mixture from heat and stirred in the parsley and breadcrumbs. My bread crumb coating was ready!

After the pork had roasted for 30 minutes, I brushed the surface with the mustard and coated the roast with breadcrumb topping, pressing down so it adhered. Then I turned the oven down to 375°F and cooked the roast for another 30 minutes. Once my time was up, I took out our meat thermometer to make sure it registered at 145°F and it did!  We let the meat rest for 5 minutes by covering it with foil before we carved it, mostly so I have time to get the side dishes ready!

It’s a great holiday dish and I think this might be a new holiday tradition for us. Now we just have to pick the holiday!


Fast Chicken Fajitas August 12, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 10:32 pm
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Tonight I had to make a super fast dinner.  As you may have noticed from my last post, I’ve been a bit stressed lately.  This week I have to travel for work, I still haven’t packed and Dave’s coming over for dinner.  I didn’t plan on going grocery shopping this week since I would only be home 2 days, but I did a quick stop by Trader Joes last night so we’d wouldn’t have to go out tonight.  I decided on chicken fajitas.  All I had to pick up was some chicken and some frozen peppers and onions.  I already had tortillas, cheese,  salsa, jalapenos, and greek yogurt (my new replacement for sour cream) at home.
photo 2Today while at work I remembered that I don’t have any seasoning packets at home.  I didn’t have time to grab anything on the way home so I Googled ‘homemade fajita seasoning’ once I got home and found a couple recipes.  I honestly wasn’t even paying attention to where it was from.  I just got excited because I found one that included a pretty unique ingredient….soy sauce!  It was too intriguing not to try so below is the recipe from About.com by Laura Dolson.  I didn’t exactly have time to marinade the chicken so I wisked it together and placed a pound and a half of cut up chicken in the mixture for 10 minutes.

Marinade Ingredients:

¼ cup lime juice
¼ cup soy sauce {yes really!}
2 tbs olive oil
1tsp chili powder

I cooked the chicken in two batches in a bit of heated olive oil and then set the chicken aside.  I opened my bag of frozen fire roasted bell peppers and onions from Trader Joes and cooked those for about 5 minutes and then returned the chicken to the pan to heat everything together.  It was that simple!


photo 1


Mastering the Trifle May 28, 2014

Yay for warmer temperatures! Boy, did we just get spoiled with the lovely weather over Memorial Day Weekend. Matt and I had a great time grilling out and making s’mores with friends and family practically every day this past weekend!

Now that Chicago is embracing warmer temperatures I’ve been looking for easy/cool desserts to make. One dish that I’ve been wanting to try making is a trifle. I hunted around pinterest and found a few options that could work. However, I made a game-time decision while grocery shopping to modify a recipe I found on the back of a Betty Crocker Angel Food Cake mix.


The dessert is very easy to make, you can even buy the angel food cake premade to save even more time and plus you won’t heat up your house or apartment!


Here is the original recipe:

1 pkg Betty Crocker white angel food cake mix

1 ¼ cup cold water

2 cups boiling water

1 pkg (8-serving size raspberry gelatin)

2 pkg (10 oz each frozen sweetened raspberries, thawed)

2-3 containers (6 oz each) Yoplait Original raspberry yogurt


Here is what I ended up using:

1 pkg Betty Crocker white angel food cake mix

1 ¼ cup cold water

2 cups boiling water

1 pkg 8-serving size raspberry gelatin sugar free

2 packages fresh strawberries

2 packages fresh raspberries

1 quart vanilla Greek yogurt (I just bought the generic house brand)


The steps are super easy to follow. First you start by baking the angel food cake. Grab an angle food baking dish like the one below, or if you have 9″ round pans, those will work too!



Next get your mix a mixing. Be sure not to over mix the batter. It should be light and fluffy just after 1-2 minutes of beating. IMG_1405[1]



When the cake is out of the oven and cooling, go ahead and make the Jello. I added ½ package of cut strawberries and one full package of raspberries to the jello as well. Put the Jello in the fridge for about 30 minutes until it is thick but not solidified.

Once your Jello is ready and your cake is cooled it’s time to layer! First start by tearing the cake into  ¾” pieces and drop them into the trifle bowl. Then add dollops of yogurt followed by spoonfuls of the Jello evenly around the bottom. Repeat this layering process until you get near the top of the bowl. I tried to leave about an inch of room between the last layer and very top.

The first layer

The first layer


Lastly I added the remaining strawberries (cut into small pieces) and raspberries as a garnish.

The final product!

The final product!

All in all the trifle turned out great! We took it over to my parents house for a BBQ on Monday and almost everyone went back for seconds! If you’re looking for a light, healthy alternative for a summer dessert I would definitely recommend making a trifle similar to the one I made.


Shrimp & Zucchini ‘Pasta’ April 23, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 12:17 am
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Dave and I were in Barnes and Noble a little while ago and we saw some Paleo Cookbooks.  We flipped through a few and decided to try a few recipes…or rather I decided to try making them and Dave decided to try eating them.  On my aspiration list I have a goal to try a new recipe every month and creating these have put me over my goal so far for the year.  Just this month I’ve made the following Paleo recipes:

  • Pork Tenderloin & Brussel Sprouts with bacon
  •  Italian Sausage & Veggies
  •  Chili
  •  Shrimp & Zucchini ‘Pasta’

We’ve loved all the recipes so far, but I am most excited about the Zucchini Pasta so I’m going to share that one tonight.  I found the recipe through Pinterest and it linked to Courtney’s blog, Sweet C’s Design.

Ingredient List:

4 zucchini, tops and bottoms cut off
1 lb shrimp- peeled and deveined
1/2 cup butter
10-15 cloves of garlic, diced
pepper to taste {I added a bit of sea salt too}


  1. You need to turn the zucchini into pasta noodles- I used my apple corer {believe it or not}to make my noodles.
  2.  Dice the garlic, melt the butter in a large pan, and add the garlic on medium heat.
  3.  Once the butter is melted, add the zucchini and shrimp and turn heat to high.
  4.  Toss zucchini and shrimp often, until shrimp has turned pink.


That is it! It was so simple it kinda blew my mind.  To be honest I don’t think I could/want to eat this way every day.  I’d miss the carbs too much!  But if you are looking for something Paleo or want to cut down on carbs a bit I would recommend trying this.


Healthy Side- Baked Broccoli Fritters January 21, 2014

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 11:58 pm
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After all that aspiration updating and setting I started thinking about how I could achieve more aspirations than I did last year.  I realized that part of my problem is that I am very gung ho when the year starts, but near the end of the year I’m avoiding thinking about my progress because I feel like I’ll never get it all done.  In January I am excited about the ideas I had and I get to work on them right away.  This is especially evident if you look at my spreadsheet I created to track all the different goals I have.  Already this year I have 3 new recipes I’ve tried and my aspiration is to just try 1 new thing!

Since we are on the subject of recipes I will share my favorite one so far.  It was one I had pinned for a long time and when I noticed it I thought. ‘Why have I never made that before?’ I finally went to take a look at the site it came from which ended up being a blog called Stacey Snacks.  The instructions were super easy so I got to work on making my own…Broccoli Fritters!  The main ingredient is broccoli which I don’t usually love, but they involve cheese so they can’t taste too healthy.  This was my logic and I was pretty spot on.  If it sounds good to you here is what you will need to make them for yourself:


  • 16 oz. package of frozen chopped broccoli, thawed and drained of liquid {I used a 14.4 oz bag and I was just fine}
  • 1 cup of seasoned Italian breadcrumbs {I only had plain on hand so I added some Italian seasonings}
  • 1 1/2 cup of grated cheddar cheese
  • 3 eggs
  • salt & pepper to taste

This is so simple I don’t even need to write out steps for you.  I can just show you a picture:

stepsLiterally just measure out all the ingredients, mix them all together, and then place some parchment paper on a baking tray and form patties with your hands.  I will say I was a little afraid at this step because the patties weren’t forming very well.  In fact I felt like I had too much brocoli and I used less than the recipe I was going off of.  Let me assure you everything was okay and the patties became more solid once baked a bit.  Place the tray in a preheated 375 oven and set the timer for 15 minutes.  Flip at that time and then bake for 10 more minutes.  Mine were much lighter than Stacey’s looked so I added on another 5 minutes or so.  Here is the end result:


I tested them on Dave and he gave them his approval.  I am thrilled to add this recipe to my regular rotation of sides.  I feel it can be a carb and a vegetable at the same time, a two-for-one if you will.  Considering I usually just make salad as the vegetable for dinner this is broadening my horizons.


Portabella Mushroom Cap Pizza May 14, 2013

Filed under: Kelly — Uncharted @ 8:57 pm
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I don’t know what it is with me this month, but I’ve been trying lots of new recipes.  Perhaps it’s the fact that it’s finally warm around here and the Farmer’s Markets are opening.  There are always so many vegetables I would never buy at the grocery store that seem much more appealing at the market.   The latest recipe I tried was pizza on a portabella mushroom.  Gasp! No crust!  Believe me you won’t miss it.  Mushrooms are very hardy and more than make up for the missing bread.  Below are all the steps I took along with photos of most every step- I’m a visual learner myself so I always try to take pictures along the way.


Portabella mushrooms
Pizza sauce
Toppings of your choice {I used Tomatoes, green onion, kielbasa sausage}
Cheese of your choice- sliced or shredded { I used provolone cheese slices}
Oven set to 375°F

First things first.  You need to remove the stem and gills from the mushrooms.  Gills are the thin papery like pieces on the underside of the mushroom.  You can leave them there, but they get mushy when you cook them.   I would recommend using a large spoon and scrap the gills off the mushroom while holding it above a garbage can.  It can get a bit messy.  Also be gentle because you can break the mushroom itself if you are too rough and then it will be harder to use for the pizza.


Now place the degilled {yes I made that word up} mushrooms on a baking sheet lined with foil and sprayed with cooking spray.  You can now add however much sauce you’d like to the top.

photo (1)

Once the sauce is in place, go to town adding all the toppings you’d like to your pizza.  I did tomatoes:

photo (2)

Green Onions:

photo (3)

And Kielbasa sausage {not a traditional topping, but it’s what was in my fridge.  It turned out pretty good!}:

photo (4)

Then I added a slice of provolone cheese.  I find slices give much more coverage and are less messy than shredded cheese.  Plus they work perfectly for a mushroom because they are both round.  You can use whatever you like best.

photo (5)

Sorry its so blurry, its the only cheese picture I took

Throw these in the oven for 20-25 minutes and your dinner is ready!

photo (6)


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