Adjust as needed to make delectable dishes

Swapping ingredients to fit your taste goes a long way in cooking up creative, new favorite foods

Finding a recipe to fit all of your family‘s tastes can be a daunting task, but Katie Bjerning of Grafton has some tips.
“Don’t be afraid to adjust recipes to your tastes. If you don’t like spicy, only add half the amount of jalapeños or whatever the recipe calls for or vice versa,” she said.
“Lots of ingredients can be swapped for another so if you find yourself out of something, just Google a good substitution instead of running back to the store.”
Bjerning is a member of the Facebook group What’s Cookin’ Port Washington?, where she gets some of her inspiration.
“It’s nice to see what others are making,” she said.
Bjerning finds some recipes on Pinterest and she loves the “Half Baked Harvest” cookbooks.
“They have outstanding recipes that are truly very easy,” she said.
She suggests shopping seasonally to get the most inexpensive and freshest ingredients and to hit farmers markets or the Ozaukee Area REKO Ring on Facebook for fresh produce.
One adjustment Bjerning makes is to keep things simple. She doesn’t make lasagna, instead making a ravioli bake that is easier but tastes the same.
She is known for the trifles that she brings to family gatherings. Following are some of her favorite recipes, including one for the first trifle she made that she has altered each time since.



Chocolate and Fruit Trifle

1 package devil’s food cake mix
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup cold water
1 3.4-ounce package instant vanilla pudding mix
2 cups heavy whipping cream, whipped
2 tablespoons orange juice
2 cups fresh strawberries, chopped
2 cups fresh raspberries
2 kiwifruit, peeled and chopped
    Prepare cake batter according to package directions. Pour into a greased 15-by-10-by-1 inch baking pan. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack. Crumble enough cake to measure eight cups and set aside. Save remaining cake for another use.
    In a large bowl, whisk the milk, water and pudding mix for two minutes. Let stand for two minutes or until soft-set. Fold in the whipped cream.
    Spread 2-1/2 cups pudding mixture in a four-quart glass bowl. Top with half of the crumbled cake, then sprinkle with one tablespoon orange juice. Arrange half of the berries and kiwi over cake.
    Repeat pudding and cake layers and sprinkle with remaining orange juice. Top with remaining pudding mixture. Spoon remaining fruit around edge of bowl. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
    Makes 12 to 16 servings.


Peruvian Lomo Saltado

1-1/2 pounds beef tenderloin, thin sliced
1 big red onion
2 tomatoes
2 garlic cloves
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon aji amarillo
1/2 teaspoon paprika
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 cup beef broth
1 pound french fries
5 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 bunch cilantro

    Place meat strips in a bowl. Add salt, paprika, black pepper and minced garlic. Let the flavors meld.
    Chop onion, tomatoes and cilantro for lomo saltado
    Heat oil in a skillet. Add beef and stir fry until browned on both sides and meat is well cooked.
    Add onions, tomatoes and cilantro, reserving a little bit of the cilantro for garnish, and cook two to three minutes, stirring frequently. Add red wine vinegar, soy sauce, and aji amarillo and mix well until the dish is caramelized.
    Add beef broth and warm through.
    Serve over french fries with a side of rice. Decorate with the remaining cilantro.
    If serving the dish right away, you can add the crispy french fries to the skillet for the last 20 to 30 seconds to coat with sauce, then serve next to the rice.


Turkey Enchiladas

2 cups cooked turkey, shredded
1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
8 soft flour tortillas
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups chicken broth
1 cup sour cream
1 4-ounce can diced green chiles, drained
1 teaspoon dried cilantro
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

    Mix cooked turkey, chili powder and one cup Monterey Jack cheese together. Roll up in tortillas and place in a greased 9-by-13-inch pan.
    In a medium saucepan, melt butter, stir in flour and cook one minute. Add broth and whisk until smooth. Heat over medium heat until thick and bubbly.
    Stir in sour cream, chilies, cilantro, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper, taking care not to boil. Pour over enchiladas and top with remaining cheese.
    Bake in a 350-degree oven for 20 to 22 minutes, then place under high broil for three minutes to brown the cheese.
    These were outstanding…we added black beans and corn to the meat mixture (about a half can of each) when we made them the second time around and it was a great addition.


Fall Rotini Pasta Salad

1 pound rotini pasta
Extra virgin olive oil
10 ounces frozen and cubed butternut squash
1 pound Brussels sprouts, top trimmed and halved
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
6 ounces spinach
1 cup chopped parsley
6 ounces goat cheese, crumbled or cut into small pieces
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
For sauce:
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 large shallots, sliced into half moons
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons fresh chopped marjoram leaves, stems removed
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of 1 lemon

    Cook rotini in boiling water according to the package instructions to al dante. Drain.
    Heat one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil in a large cast iron. Add butternut squash and cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the squash is cooked through. Season with a little salt. Transfer to a dish and set aside.
    If needed, add one tablespoon extra virgin olive oil to the same cast iron skillet. Once oil is hot, add Brussels sprouts, cut side down, and cook over medium-high heat for three to four minutes. Turn sprouts over and cook another five minutes, until browned and tender. Sprinkle with salt. Transfer to the dish with the butternut squash.
    Melt butter in the skillet over medium-high heat, swirling occasionally, until butter is browned and releases a nice nutty aroma. Remove skillet from heat and add the shallots, marjarom and garlic. Cook about one minute, stirring, until fragrant. Return to medium heat and add olive oil and lemon juice. Stir in the lemon zest and a pinch of salt.
    Add the cooked pasta to the sauce and stir until pasta is well coated. Season with a little more salt, black pepper, ground cinnamon and nutmeg. Stir in the baby spinach and parsley., then add the cooked squash and Brussels sprouts. Cook everything together on medium heat, stirring regularly, until warmed through. Taste and adjust the salt and seasoning to your liking.
    Transfer the warm pasta salad to a large bowl. Drizzle with a little more extra virgin olive oil, if desired. Top with goat cheese and toasted pine nuts. Serve warm or at room temperature with extra goat cheese on the side.


Vietnamese Peanut Coconut Chicken

1 pound chicken cubed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 can coconut milk
1 jar roasted peanut Vietnamese simmer sauce
1 zucchini, sliced
1 carrot, sliced thin
1 small red onion
1/2 bell pepper, sliced
1 crown broccoli, chopped

    Cook cubed chicken in olive oil over medium high heat until cooked through. Remove from heat and set aside.
    Cook chopped vegetables over medium heat in either butter or olive oil until tender. Add coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add chicken and bring to a boil.
    Serve over cooked ramen noodles or cooked rice.
    You may substitute shrimp or tofu for chicken.
    I added more veggies and it was excellent.


Slow-Cooker Enchilada Pork Tacos With Sweet-Corn Slaw

For pork:
3 to 4 pound pork shoulder
2 to 3 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
1 14-ounce can diced green chilies
1/2 a sweet onion, finely diced
1 10-ounce can enchilada sauce
For sweet corn slaw:
2 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups shredded fresh green cabbage or cabbage slaw
1 jalapeño chile, seeded, diced
Juice of 1 medium lime
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
For tacos:
8 to 12 6-inch flour tortillas for soft tacos and fajitas, warmed, or 4 to 6 8-inch flour tortillas for burritos
Sliced avocado, as desired, for tacos
1-1/2 cups steamed white or Spanish rice, as desired, for burritos
Cooked black beans, if desired, for burritos
Cotija or queso fresco cheese, crumbled

    Spray a four-quart slow cooker with cooking spray. Add pork, taco seasoning, green chilies, diced sweet onion and enchilada sauce and stir. Cover and cook on low for eight to 10 hours or on high for six to eight hours.
    To make slaw, heat grill on high. Brush corn with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and wrap in a layer of foil. Grill 10 minutes, rotating corn three times. Cook 10 to 15 minutes longer, remove foil and cook five minutes longer. Remove corn from grill and allow to cool five minutes. Use sharp knife to cut off corn kernels, and place kernels in a medium bowl.
    Add shredded cabbage, jalepeno, lime juice, rice vinegar, cilantro and a pinch of salt. Toss well, cover and place in the refrigerator until ready to serve.
    When pork is cooked and falling apart, remove from slow cooker and allow to cool slightly. Shred meat with two forks and drizzle with sauce from slow cooker.
    To assemble tacos, place a little warm pork in a warmed six-inch tortilla and top with sliced avocado and slaw. Sprinkle with cheese. Repeat with remaining tortillas.
    To assemble burritos, heat one eight-inch tortilla at a time in microwave for 30 seconds. Working quickly, layer cheese, hot rice, warm pork, black beans and slaw toward one end of tortilla. Fold sides over the ingredients and roll up tortilla tightly. Repeat with remaining tortillas.



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