Saturday, February 11, 2017

Friday Fun: Fish Taco Bowls

Lent is right around the corner, which means it's almost fish fry season here in Wisconsin! There's nothing like flaky fried fish, crispy potato pancakes with a side of applesauce; and a slice of rye bread just to round out the meal. Anyone else's mouth watering right now? There's nothing like a good fish fry with a Spotted Cow beer. 

But every once in a while, you might be looking for a healthier version. Maybe you're cutting carbs. Or counting calories. Or you're on Whole 30 and feel like it's a roller coaster you'll never get off of. 

Sorry. That's just our cheese, sugar and wine craved delirious feelings talking. We're not seeing pink elephants quite yet. Whether you're doing Whole 30 or not, these fish taco bowls are amazing. Even Kevin, who continues to enjoy carbs and alcohol really enjoyed them. The zesty, spicy slaw pairs well with the cumin seasoned fish. And the creamy guacamole is a nice addition. The whole dish just works. And it's easy to make on a busy weeknight. Rebecca was able to make this while quizzing Sawyer on her spelling words, washing dishes and doing laundry. Yep, she's Wonder Woman all right. 

Fish Taco Bowls
Recipe modified from: Kalyn's Kitchen

3 large or 4 small tilapia fillets (or any other mild, white fish)
2 tsp. + 2 tsp. olive oil
2 tsp. fish seasoning. We used Ruth Ann's Muskego Avenue Chicken/Fish Seasoning
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1 bag coleslaw mix
guacamole, for serving 

Dressing Ingredients:
1/2 cup mayo (We used Tessiemae's)
2 T fresh-squeezed lime juice
2 tsp. Frank's Red Hot sauce (or your hot sauce of choice)
salt to taste


Thaw fish overnight in the refrigerator if frozen. Mix the fish rub, ground cumin, and chili powder in a small dish. When you're ready to cook, pat fish dry with paper towels, then rub both sides with 2 tsp. of the olive oil followed by the fish rub mixture. Let the fish come to room temperature while you prep the other ingredients.

Whisk together the mayo, lime juice, hot sauce and salt to make the dressing. Combine the dressing and the coleslaw mix. 

Brush a stove-top grill pan or heavy frying pan with the other 2 tsp. olive oil and heat the pan about a minute at medium-high heat. Then add the fish and cook about 4 minutes on the first side. Turn gently and cook about 4 minutes more on the other side. (Actual cooking time will depend on how thick your pieces of fish are. Fish should feel barely firm to the touch when it's done.) 

When the fish is done, let it cool slightly on a cutting board, then use two forks to shred the fish apart. Fill bowl with 1/4 of the cabbage mixture and top with desired amount of fish.  Serve right away, with guacamole if desired.

Do you have any Friday Fish Fry recipes you love, or restaurants to recommend? Let us know! 

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew

Monday, February 6, 2017

Monday Meals: Zuppa Toscana

Does anyone else think February is the worst month ever in Wisconsin? It feels like winter has been going on forever, we're depending on a rodent to tell us when spring is coming, and there's still snow to prepare for. Ugh. 

Thank goodness for warm comfort food, am I right? The Wisconsin Test Kitchen has been batch cooking lots of warm stews and soups lately; and the best one has been this Whole 30 approved Zuppa Toscana. Zuppa Toscana has an almost cult-like following at the Olive Garden; and Kevin has been waiting patiently to try our homemade version. 

Verdict? "This tastes exactly like the Olive Garden version!" 

Now that's a little bit of sunshine on a dreary February day, right there...

Zuppa Toscana
Recipe adapted from: My Blue Daisy

2lbs. Italian sausage
1 large onion, diced
1 head cauliflower, roughly cut into florets
2 quarts chicken bone broth
1 can coconut milk
1 head kale, cleaned and de-stemmed
Italian seasonings
Chili Powder

In a large dutch oven, brown the Italian sausage. Add the onion once the meat is almost done cooking. Season with a few shakes of Italian seasonings and a small shake of chili powder. Cook until onions are soft and translucent.

Add the cauliflower, kale and bone broth to the pot, bring to a boil and then reduce heat and allow the soup to simmer until cauliflower is soft and kale is wilted (about 20 minutes).

Once the vegetables are soft, remove from the heat and add the coconut milk. Stir well, and add additional seasonings as needed. Serve warm. 

Notes from the Test Kitchen: We made a double batch of soup to share with friends and keep in the freezer. If you're going to double- make it in two seperate soup pots. 

Also, our recipe is "paleo;" you can easily modify with heavy cream instead of coconut milk; completely up to you. Once the coconut milk warms, the coconut flavor dissipates and leaves behind a creamy element. 

Enjoy this hearty winter soup and join us in counting down to the first day of spring.

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday Fun: Chipotle Pulled Pork

Last month, the Wisconsin Test Kitchen celebrated Kevin's birthday in traditional style. Every year we make a big meal, topped off with Chocolate Bread Pudding. Since we received another whole hog for Christmas, we decided to try a new pulled pork recipe. Pulled pork, coleslaw, and cheesy potatoes. That's a pretty solid birthday dinner! The only thing that made it better was watching the Packers beat The Giants. 

Note from the Test Kitchen: the pork needs to marinate overnight- make sure to plan ahead. And don't skip this step: you want the pork to soak up the delicious marinade. 

Chipotle Pulled Pork
Recipe courtesy of: Fashionable Foods

1 Small Onion, peeled and cut into chunks
3 Cloves Garlic, peeled
1 Tablespoon Extra Light Olive Oil
½ Orange, juiced
2 Limes, juiced
3 Teaspoons Chipotle Pepper Powder
2 Teaspoons Paprika
1 Teaspoon Cumin
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1 Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 (3-4 lb.) Pork Loin*
¼ Cup Chicken Broth

Combine the onion, garlic, olive oil, orange juice, lime juice, and spices in a mini food processor. Pulse until mostly smooth.

Place the pork loin into a gallon zip-top bag and cover with marinade. Make sure the pork is coated well. Refrigerate the pork overnight.

In the morning, place the pork along with marinade into the slow cooker and pour in the chicken broth.

Cook the pork for 8 hours on low, or until you can easily shred it with a fork.

YUM!!! Isn't that a beautiful piece of pork? And don't worry- even though the meat soaks in paprika and chipotle; the meat won't be spicy and will be fine for little palates. We all agreed this might be the best pulled pork we've ever made.

Keep this one on file for Superbowl Sunday; it will be an excellent way to end this exciting football season. 

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday Meals: Creamy Balsamic Chicken & Brussel Sprouts

Rebecca in the Wisconsin Test Kitchen is back on the Whole 30 for the second time. Spoiler: the second time is more miserable than the first. By day three, she was craving burritos and scowling. A lot. But day 4 and 5 seemed to tame the savage beast. And some delicious, complaint food didn't hurt either. One of our new favorite Whole 30 recipes is this delicious, hearty dish that only tastes indulgent.

Creamy Balsamic Chicken & Brussel Sprouts
Recipe courtesy of: Chocolate Salad

5 oz cooked shredded chicken
1/2 C brussel sprouts
1/2 C baby bella mushrooms
1 T Whole 30 approved mayonaise (we used Tessiemae's)
1 T balsamic vinegar
1/4 t Italian seasoning
1/8 t garlic powder
1/4 t kosher salt or to taste
fresh ground pepper

In a medium sized frying pan, saute your brussel sprouts (halved) on medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add in your mushrooms (quartered) and cook for about another 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are cooked through. 

Add in your cooked shredded chicken and toss until hot. Take off the heat.

In a small bowl, whisk together your mayo, vinegar, and the rest of the seasonings until smooth.

Pour out over chicken mixture and toss to coat everything.

Not looking to try Whole 30? That's fine; this chicken dish is so delicious even non-Whole 30 fans will love it. And it's easy enough to throw together for a quick, delicious weeknight dinner. 

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew

Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Fun: Crock Pot Ham

One of the thing I wanted in the Arkansas test kitchen this year was an additional crock pot. I mean... can you have too many? 

A Christmas miracle happened this year, and one of my brothers purchased me a new digital Westinghouse Crock Pot. I barely had the crock pot out of the box and was already thinking about new recipes to try. 

The first recipe I chose was Crock Pot Ham. Ham was on sale, and who doesn't enjoy a good ham supper?! It would have been great to get this recipe in time for the holidays, but we made due. And besides, do you ever need an excuse to eat ham? Nope!

Crock Pot Ham

1 3 - 5 lb. bone-in fully cooked ham
3 cups brown sugar
1 12 oz. can pineapple tidbits with juices.

Remove most of the excess fat from the ham.
Score ham in a diamond pattern (just score lightly- do not cut too deeply).
If you purchased a spiral cut ham, ignore this step. 
Place one cup of brown sugar on the bottom of the crock pot.
Place ham on top of the brown sugar.
Pour in pineapple and juices.
Coat ham with remaining brown sugar.
Cook ham on low for 6 - 8 hours.

When finished cooking, the ham will fall off the bone, and you'll have sweet, salty, meaty goodness that you can't go wrong with.

Once you're done with the ham, save the bone for a Split Pea or Bean Soup. This tasty ham recipe is the perfect thing to make during the football playoffs, and you'll have plenty for lunches this week. Win/Win... which may be better than your football team did this season! 

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew

Monday, January 16, 2017

Monday Meals: Curried Lentil Soup

Not sure about you, but the Wisconsin Test Kitchen has done A LOT of indulging over the holidays. There were lots of cookies, glasses of wine and slices of homemade pizza. Oh, and those nachos we made for the Packers playoffs. Mmm, nachos. 

But we need to get back on track with eating healthier. We pulled out the crock pot and started making an effort to cook healthy dinners every night. Lentil soup was one of the first meals we made in the new year. It was our first time cooking with lentils, and we were impressed with how easy they are to cook with, and how hearty the dish was. Give this soup a try, it might be one of your new favorites!

Curried Lentil Soup
Recipe courtesy of: Gimme Some Oven

4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced
1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
6 cups chicken or vegetable stock*
1 1/2 cups uncooked green or brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder**
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
2 bay leaves
2 cups roughly-chopped baby spinach
3 tablespoons lemon juice, plus extra lemon slices for serving
salt and pepper
chopped fresh cilantro leaves, for topping


Add the garlic, carrots, onion, stock, lentils, curry powder, cumin, and bay leaves to the bowl of a 4-quart or 6-quart slow cooker, and stir to combine.

Cook on high for 4-5 hours or on low for 6-8 hours, until the lentils are tender.

Stir in the baby spinach and lemon juice until combined.

Taste, and season with salt and pepper to taste. (I used about 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, but the saltiness of the soup will vary based on your type of stock.)

Serve warm, garnished with lots of chopped cilantro and extra lemon slices, if desired. 

Do you have any go-to recipes to help detox after the holidays? Please leave your recipes in the comments section; we love hearing from our readers!

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew

Monday, January 9, 2017

Monday Meals: Lemon Chicken Tortellini Soup

It seems like everyone is stricken with the cold or flu right now; there are upper respiratory and sinus infections going around like crazy. And we all know the best remedy for a cold: Chicken Noodle Soup!

The Wisconsin Test Kitchen made a delicious, hearty chicken soup last week that all three members of the test kitchen loved. And I don't think it's a coincidence that since we've enjoyed it, none of us have come down with a cold... #knockonwood

Lemon Chicken Tortellini Soup
Recipe courtesy of: Carlsbad Craving

12 oz. boneless skinless chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1 small onion, chopped
8 oz. sliced mushrooms
1 cup carrots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons chicken bouillon
1 tsp EACH dried parsley, salt
1/2 tsp EACH dried thyme, dried oregano, ground cumin
1/4 tsp EACH pepper, red pepper flakes
2 bay leaves
9 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 15.25 oz. can sweet corn, rinsed and drained
12 oz. UNCOOKED fresh cheese tortellini
4 cups loosely packed fresh spinach
2 tablespoons lemon juice plus more to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese (optional garnish)
lemon zest (optional)

Place all ingredients except tortellini, spinach, lemon juice, Parmesan cheese and lemon zest in the crock pot and cook on low for 6-7 hours, or high for 3-4 hours. 

Remove chicken from the crock pot and shred with two forks. Return to crock pot along with tortellini, spinach and lemon juice (add more to taste). Keep on low for 30 minutes, or until tortellini is soft and spinach is wilted.

Serve with Parmesan cheese and lemon zest. 

So, if the germs are getting you down, whip up a batch of this soup, and invest in some hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes. And be thankful it's not the stomach flu...

Stay Cool,
The Cool Dads Crew