Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Simple Irresistible Catering

You know a company is utilizing social media properly when its posts drive you to make a purchase. This is the case for my sudden impulse to try Simple Irresistible Catering. Because of the business' activity on Facebook and Twitter, I was able to find out that in addition to catering small events, they offer "Take and Bake Meals" that you can order thru the website or come into the shop and grab-n-go.

I checked out the website and it took me a long time to slim my list down of what to try first. I got a half order of the stuffed meatballs, an order of the glazed carrots and a half order of the Italian sausage lasagna. I scheduled to pick them up 24 hours later at the shop and they were ready and waiting for me completely frozen in oven safe aluminum containers. Directions are right on the lid so you can't misplace them when you are ready to heat them up.

During my pickup, Megan, the owner, and I got to chatting a little bit and I found out even more about her ties to Waukesha and her love of food (which we obviously share!). She and her sister have worked at some of the downtown businesses and Megan decided to take the plunge and start up her own business in downtown because she loves the area. She has had great success with catering small custom events and her business is really growing by word of mouth and by those that have attended her events and are planning one of their own.

Ok - let's get into my food. I originally chose the meatballs to serve to my boyfriend and his boys but I just couldn't wait to try them. Sports and tournaments kept postponing our dinners together, and I was getting impatient on trying these, so I went for them all on my own.

I used my new oven to get these heated up and cooked some spaghetti while I waited for these to finish. The oven worked perfectly on convection and the directions were easy to follow and worked perfectly.

The meatballs are almost 2 inches in diameter and smelled heavenly when I pulled off the lid to finish cooking them. I couldn't wait to try her sauce as the only sauce I had on hand was "sugar free from a can." You can't really get more bland than that. I could see the chunky tomatoes in hers and you can see the spices and herbs in her sauce.

I plopped two meatballs on top of spaghetti and covered it with her sauce. I did add a bit more of my own, because I love sauce and then added a little Parmesan to top it all off.

The meatballs were scrumptious! Just the right amount of cheese in the middle of them and tons of Italian flavor. I wanted to eat more but I didn't want to be gluttonous. I chopped them up and mixed it in with my spaghetti and sauce so I had a little with each bite. Her sauce really had excellent flavor - I would buy just that if she would jar it :). And I think two meatballs is the perfect serving size. Some nice sauteed vegetables on the side or garlic bread would have really pulled this meal together but alas, I didn't have any and didn't think to order her Parmesan Garlic Bread  or Garlic & Herb Butter Vegetable Medley. 

A half pan (6 meatballs with sauce) is $9.95 + tax and this would have served my boyfriend and his kids just fine with pasta and garlic bread. So let's add $5 for that and we have a meal for the five of us for around $3 a person. Can you go anywhere and get that good of a deal? Not that I can think of. As an example, we went to Taco Bell with the kids for lunch and it was over $25 for us to eat and we weren't even satisfied with the quality of the food presented to us and the kids were still hungry. Simply Irresistible is homemade by a local business for a great price. I am definitely a fan and can't wait to try her other entrees I ordered.

A little more on Megan and her biz:

Megan graduated from WCTC's Culinary Management Program and is a proud member of the American Culinary Federation.

She doesn't have a specific catering menu because she really enjoys working with the individual clients to provide them just what they want. She does offer all of her take and bake options for catering too!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Waukesha Upcoming Events

This weekend is the next Art Crawl in downtown Waukesha. Unfortunately I won't be able to make it as I will be standing up in my friends wedding. But I did want to share with all of you the fun things planned for this weekend and the coming weeks.

This isn't an event but I did want to share that the Clarke Hotel is now serving complimentary breakfast to their guests. This has been a long time coming and the first step in the revamping of the hotel and restaurant. I can't wait to try out the restaurant once it's open.

Every Friday thru Sept. - Waukesha Friday Night Live - 6:30 - 9 pm - listen to great music and entertainment on the streets of downtown.

Every Saturday thru Oct. - Waukesha Farmer's Market - 8 am - noon - On the riverfront in Waukesha, see a great selection of products from local vendors.

Saturday, Aug 2:

The 82nd Art Crawl is being held from 4 - 10 pm. Here is a flyer with all the information.

But before the Art Crawl the Duck Race will be held at 12:30 pm on Saturday, Aug. 2. The launch will happen at the Barstow Bridge and here is more information.

Tuesday, Aug 12: 

VOTE - Use your voice and vote in the primary election. This primary will decided the next Sheriff of Waukesha County because their is no democrat on the ballot. 

Friday, Aug. 15:

Run From the Cops 5K Fun Run - Details here 

In addition to these special events, the downtown businesses have live music and entertainment scheduled throughout the week as well as food and drink specials - so many it's hard to keep up with. Hope you can make it downtown to experience one of these events. 

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Fair Food

This past week, I worked at the Waukesha County Fair for my company. I was on the grounds everyday for long hours and this gave me the opportunity to look at all the different foods and eventually try them. I have to get myself ready for the Wisconsin State Fair and what better way to start but at the Fair that leads up to State.

I didn't eat all of the items below but I had some great food sampler friends that allowed me to share their eats on the blog too!

Nachos - these will be back at the Fair next year - hopefully. This was a meal for two, but when I was ridiculously hungry on Saturday afternoon, I polished them off all on my own :) Seasoned chicken, nice freshly made chips, beans and cheese. They then provided jalepenos, sour cream and salsa to add on your own. All this for just $7 - it was amazing! 
Deep Fried Oreos - I know they have these at State Fair and I had them last year - AMAZING. The cookie gets soft from the frying and they are almost like whoopie pies.
Chicken on a Stick - Locate an Asian food stand and this should be an easy find.  It was marinated in terriyaki sauce and my friend ate it so fast because it was delicious.
Whiskey Flavored Ice Cream Root Beer Float - Sprecher was at the Waukesha County Fair for the first time this year, and I just needed something sweet on Saturday night. This hit the spot and the whiskey flavor really comes out when the ice cream melts into the root beer a bit.
I didn't' eat these, but aren't these hedgehog cookies too cute :) 
Gyros from Niko's Gyros  - They do the Fair and Festival circuit and have excellent Gyros. The meat was nice and flavorful and they gave me extra tzaziki sauce which I love!

Taco - for just $2 each, you were provided flavored meat and all the toppings you could want. My mom was really happy with her selection. My dad went for the chicken nachos and he agreed they are great!

We now have a Celebrity Cream Puff eating contest using people famous for supporting our Fair. I'm not a fan of cream puffs, but our Fair celebrities really enjoyed themselves!
Funnel Cakes - This is my favorite Fair food ever. It takes me back to the days of when my church festival, St. Joseph in Big Bend, would have funnel cakes. The booth would constantly pop the circuit breaker from cooking so many and overheating the little fryers. But they sold like crazy and they were selling like crazy at the Fair too! It is just so delicious and easy to share. I did choke on the powdered sugar, but it's not a funnel cake until you do :)

So next up is State Fair and I have a few new foods that I am excited to try so I really hope I get there some night. Topping the list is Peanut Butter Bacon Bison Burger, Shark on a stick, and the BBQ Chicken Cone. My eats from last year were pretty good, so I'm hoping for the same result this year :)

They even have a Gluten-Friendly menu - that is awesome!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Waukesha County Fair

You may or may not know that my company works media relations and promotions for the Waukesha County Fair . And for the last eight years, I have put in the extra hours to make sure we get the Fair the best  media coverage we are capable of for this organization.

We have had good Fairs and bad (many more good than bad, but you can't control the weather) but regardless, I could not ask to work with a nicer group of volunteers and one heck of an amazing Executive Director who put their heart and soul into this Fair to give you the best event in Waukesha County every year. If you see them on the Fairgrounds when you go (yes when, not if!), please thank them for all their work.

As a Foodie, you know that I am always excited when I get the information on the new foods and vendors at this year's Fair.  And again this year, there is no shortage of new and unique eats. I am personally looking forward to trying the Reuben nachos, bacon cream cheese on a stick and John Deere churned ice cream. (I caught a glimpse of this in action at the Jefferson County Fair this weekend and you will be pretty amazed by this feat.)

Not to mention we have some of the Fairgoers' faves back this year - Catfish Johnny's, Black Angus sandwiches, cream puffs, fudge, Silver Spur, jumbo turkey legs and much, much more. You cannot leave this Fair wishing for more variety. We have it all covered!

Every year, I promise myself that by the end of Sunday, I can treat myself to a funnel cake and gorge on the whole thing myself. But I have yet to keep this promise to myself. By the time I am done working and remember to get one, the food vendors are already closing up shop. So it's my goal this year to have one on Saturday night (instead of waiting until Sunday). I'll just walk more on Sunday instead of ride in my snazzy golf cart :)

There is so much more to the Fair than just food, and I'm glad that I get to see it all - Demo Derby, Live Music, 4-H Exhibits, Truck Pulls, Rides, Games, Vendors, Livestock Auction, Alligators, Fun Run, Classic Car Show, Pancake Breakfast, Animals and again, so much more. Just check out that cake above, such detail and skill from someone so young! I love seeing this sort of dedication and these kids are going to be the ones most likely taking care of me when I'm older. This make me feel really good.

I hope you have some time this weekend to come out to the Fair and if you have never been, come see what it's all about. There are great deals almost everyday to help you save on admission and once you are on the grounds, almost everything is free (midway, rides and souvenirs excluded).

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Noodles & Company has Salads

Sure this place is mainstream and corporate, but I just had to share with you the awesome salads my mom and I got at Noodles & Company.

Who would think to go there for a salad? But honestly, they have really been putting in the effort to have a diverse and cultural menu and I think it's paying off. They have soup, salads, flatbreads and sandwiches in addition to noodle dishes now and the website lists very clearly the ingredients in each dish and the calories.

My mom and I were looking for a quick bite one afternoon and decided on Noodles located at the Shoppes at Fox River in Waukesha. My mom and I are creatures of habit and typically order the same thing every time we go - pesto cavatappi.  But for some reason the salads really stuck out on the menu that day.

I'm trying to watch what I put in my body and make sure I eat for nutritional value as well as taste and this salad seemed to hit the spot. From the website: Spinach & Fresh Fruit Salad Seasonal fruit, crumbled bacon, pecans, house-made croutons, red onion and blue cheese atop spinach with a balsamic fig drizzle. This is right up my alley as I have really been enjoying sweet and savory salads. The onions and bacon brought out just enough savory, to make the strawberries seem extra sweet. The dressing is already on the salad but it wasn't overpowering. I'm sure you can ask for it on the side. 

My mom went for the Chinese Chicken Chop Salad  - Grilled chicken, sesame-soy tossed mixed greens, Asian sprouts, cabbage, red bell pepper, cucumber, carrots, crispy wontons and black sesame seeds. She too raved about the great flavor of all the ingredients together and said she would definitely order it again. 

Her salad came in at 480 calories and she was full but not stuffed. My salad came in at 650 and I too felt satisfied and not full. I'm sure if I took off the bacon, the count would be lower. 

I went back to Noodles today on Capitol Drive in Pewaukee and ordered The Med Salad with Chicken Grilled chicken, romaine, mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onion, olives, cavatappi pasta, spicy yogurt dressing and feta. The noodles in the salad were a unique touch that I liked.

When they say spicy yogurt dressing, you better believe it. Because I ordered it to-go, my chicken and dressing were in separate containers. I tasted the dressing before putting some on my salad and thought it had a kick but would be okay. Apparently I should have used just a 1/4 of the container instead of half because I was feeling the burn. It wasn't overpowering, but eventually it was all I could taste. The kalamata olives are very tart too!  If I would order again, I might suggest getting the balsamic fit drizzle from the spinach salad or using another dressing I have around. But I wouldn't change anything else. 

Noodles has figured out salads just like they have pasta and I hope they keep diversifying their menu to stay current.  

Monday, July 7, 2014

Vegas Thru My Belly

Last month, I went on a Las Vegas vacation with the ladies to celebrate my friend's final fling before the ring. We stayed at the gorgeous Aria Resort and Casino at City Center and we were not disappointed. As you all know what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, unless we post pictures on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook to share (which we all did!). But the only part of the trip that I'm going to share on the blog is all of the food we ate while out there.

Though I didn't manage to take shots of everything we ate, I did take a few and luckily the ladies helped out and shared their images with me so I can in turn share them with you.

Let's break it down by location.

When we arrived at the hotel, we were famished and just went to the Cafe Aria and grabbed a drink and meal. This became a hit for all of us and an easy go-to. They have a wonderful breakfast and lunch selection. I had the Club that was seriously the largest sandwich I have ever gotten. I couldn't even eat half of it and we then realized that we needed to order a fridge for our room for our leftovers.

I also had the French Toast and Belgium Waffle for breakfast. They were again gigantic and delicious!

One of the other ladies captured this lovely image of the Eggs Benedict with the hash browns that everyone raved about on the trip. I never had them, but they looked very crispy on the outside and mushy, buttery on the inside.

I also dined for lunch and ordered the Asian Chicken salad that could again easily feed two people!  It was chock-full of all sorts of amazing eats -Napa Cabbage, Romaine, Bibb Lettuce, Carrots, Bean Sprouts, Cucumbers, Red Peppers, Snow Peas, Crispy Wontons, and Sweet Soy Vinaigrette.

Also in our hotel was Jean Philippe Patisserie that had crepes, sandwiches, salads and these amazing pastries. These are really the spotlight and because I have diligently been playing the MyVegas game on Facebook and my phone, I was able to redeem a reward and get some pastries for the mini-party we had for the Bride-To-Be in our hotel room. Pastries start at $7 and go up from there. I purchased 2 small pastries - Snickers and Chocolate Indulgence. Though they are no larger than a coffee mug, the desserts are so rich and amazing, you only need a bite or two. We actually had some left over after all six of us had some bites.

Saturday night, we dined at Gordon Ramsay's BurGR. Though it was over an hour wait for a table, it definitely was worth it. (NOTE: they do not take reservations and the website is completely out of date) They told us they would text us when our table was ready, so we were able to wander Planet Hollywood and here is where I found one of my favorite slots. It paid out every time! I will leave that a secret and get back to the food.

BurGR has a 30 ft. wall of flame to divide it from the casino and all I could wonder it how much fuel they use to keep it burning.
The menus come as part of the table set up - very ingenuitive and as you can probably guess, it's a burger joint.

We had a server and tablehand that took great care of us. The drink menu was on an iPad, which was pretty awesome to flip though. I decided on a grapefruit cocktail and the bride grabbed a martini. The drinks were nice and strong and really flavorful.

Then we had to choose our food. I saw goat cheese and I was sold. I went with the Euro burger that had truffle aioli, argula, tomato and goat cheese on top of the burger. It was seriously the best burger I have ever had. The meat was perfectly cooked medium and the flavors went together so well. I didn't leave anything on my plate.
Another favorite burger was the American - where you choose your toppings. We splurged for 3 orders of fries - two truffle fries and one regular and we definitely could have gotten by with two. However, you must get the fries as they are delicious with specialty ketchups and sauces on the side.

On Friday night, I made us reservations at Twist, one of the bride's top choices for a fancy night out. And Fancy it was.

Right away we were greeted by a the wonderful staff and sat at a table for 6 in the middle of the dining room. Being on the 23rd floor, we could still see the strip out the window and the tables by the windows didn't really interrupt our view.

We were asked if anyone had allergies to be made aware of and they offered us some small nibbles to enjoy that the chef created for tonight. I don't remember the official names but upper left was a cracker with fig on it, upper right was some fish (that tasted really fishy), the bottom right was a lard wrapped breadstick that was delicious and bottom left was a macaroon tart that tasted sweet and savory.

They came time to order our meals. Although the place came with a floating wine room over the dining room, none of us chose any drinks besides water. We were all recovering from the day at the cabana, so we kept the "water boy" quite busy doing laps around our table.

The menu was simple but decadent. But the service is what really stood out to me. No one's glass was ever more than half empty with water, plates were cleared and tables combed before the next course came out. and the main meal presentation was something I wish I video'd. Six staff got together, took our plates and circled the table. All plates were set at the same moment and silver lids removed together. Each dish was then explained again to us and made sure everything was to our liking before they walked away.

I went with chicken instead of steak - hard decision but it just sounded so interesting, I just had to go unique.

Shimizu Chicken Breast, Morel Cream & Grapefruit Confit
Creamy Polenta, Snow Peas
Tomato Otti Ice Cream
The chicken was the most juicy and flavorful breast I have ever eaten and the morel cream was fantastic. It melted in my mouth. I was a little worried about the grapefruit confit but it added an asian infused element to the dish. The polenta was crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I wasn't a fan of the snowpeas on top because I believe they were cooked with fennel, but I just pushed it on the side and ate the rest. And the tomato ice cream had coconut in it! I had to eat this quick before it melted but it was quite lovely like a gazpacho. I have never had coconut that was sliced instead of shaved but it wasn't too overpowering with the tomato.
Some ladies ordered a salad with their meals, I opted not too, knowing I didn't want to fill up.

Mixed Salads & fresh Herbs with Lemon flavored Olive Oil
Avocado, Dried Tomato, Kalamata Black Olives
Grilled Chicken Breast with Rosemary
Mendiant Toast, Tapenade
I was able to try the toast, that resembles a cheese crisp over the tomato tapenade that looked like Port Wine cheese spread. It was really tasty and I wish I had more crisps to eat it all. Definitely something I would like to try to make at home. 

The Bride-to-be treated herself to a fancy filet of Wagyu beef. We were told that it actually is white when pulled out because of the marbling but then when cooked, that melts into the steak to make it the most "like butter" experience. I was offered a bite and it was actually extremely heavenly. Besides the few bites she offered up, the bride enjoyed the steak very much and had it cooked to the chef's liking. The server even complimented her on knowing how to order.
 After all the plates were cleared and coffee was offered, the server came over with a special dessert from the chef for our bachelorette. We were all able to try it and if this doesn't look rich to you, you are crazy. One bite was all we needed to enjoy this with her. The chocolate was excellent and dark.

Little trays of small desserts prepared by the chef also came to our table - Jellied apricot crisps, mini macaroon looking treats and something with nuts. My stomach had reached it's rich food limit for the day, but others enjoyed it.

I cannot say enough wonderful things about Twist and you must splurge and try this when you are in Las Vegas. You will not regret it. And try all the other places I listed above, I have no regrets and my belly came home happy and inspired to try to recreate some dishes at home. But I will leave the Wagyu Beef to the pros.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Overheard - Vol. 1

I have been considering making this another tab on my site for quite some time and tonight is going to be the first entry. I overhear a lot of fun stuff where I live with retail places and a bar very near. Tonight, I was provided the perfect example. 

What sounded like four grown men leaving a drinking establishment around 11 pm and walking to their respective vehicles and each let out extremely childish yelps of terror when lightning flashed across the sky. It didn't touch down nearby and no thunder followed. 

One guy tried to call the others out on it and that started a yelling match to obviously prove they are macho and tough guys and that they didn't scream. 

Don't worry boys, I don't think any ladies heard you....except just about anyone within 3 blocks! Man those were high pitched squeals! 

Stay tuned for more entries to come. I think I'm going to be hearing a lot more and this could be very entertaining :)