Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Ride & Dine

Earlier this year, I was treated to lunch at a client's office and they served us pizza and bread sticks. The pizza box was unmarked and really tasty, so I asked where it was from. They told us they have a great relationship with Ride & Dine just up the street and order them all the time. I made a mental note to definitely try them out myself soon.

Lent time came around and fish frys are extremely popular meals to eat on Wednesdays and Fridays for Catholics (or really anyone that lives in Wisconsin). I saw on Facebook that Ride & Dine offers a nice fish fry at a very reasonable price so I called them and placed an order to go. I scheduled the pick up for a certain time and when I stopped in, the order was ready to go and piping hot.

Even in the short drive to my guy's place, the food stayed very warm and crispy. Each fish fry comes with 3 nice-sized pieces of battered fish, french fries, rye bread, coleslaw and tartar. I splurged and order the deep fried pickles too. Everything was great. The fries were super crisp on the outside and mushy on the inside. I call this a double-fried fry, but I'm not sure that is the right term. The coleslaw was pretty basic, but a little pepper added by yours truly made it tasty.

And the pickles were really yummy. They come with a dill ranch dipping sauce. I like that they are spears and not slices because I can taste more of the pickle and not the breading. We were big fans and had almost clean plates by the end. There was so much food, we just couldn't finish it all.

I kept this place in mind the next time I needed a good meal. One evening, after running a few errands, I ended up heading to my guy's place. They had already had dinner, so I stopped into Ride & Dine and scoped out the menu for something delicious. I decided on the pulled pork and took the menu's suggestion to try it with melted cheese. I again order the fries because I liked them so much last time.

I took a seat at a table while they prepped my meal and checked out the decor. Though I don't have confirmation from anyone at the restaurant on this theory, the name makes more sense to me. There were jersey's hanging on the walls that I believe to be from motor-cross racing (or another type of racing). I am guessing the owner has a love of riding and dining :)

The menu hangs behind the counter on a very tall wall and though they offer a lot of items, I didn't find the menu overwhelming.
My meal was ready in a few minutes and I headed off to my guy's place. I ate as soon as I got there and the sandwich was wonderful. The pulled pork had a lot of flavor with some BBQ sauce mixed in and the addition of melted cheese is a must. It really brought another level of savory, deliciousness to the sandwich.
I was a member of the clean plate club that night and I can't wait to go back and check out the place again soon. They are very active on social media and post pictures of their food and specials frequently. This really helps show their diverse menu. They are closed on Sundays but open Monday - Thursday 11 - 2 and 4 - 8. Friday and Saturday they are open 11 - 9. Definitely take a ride and dine with them soon! (pun intended)

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Grilling in Wisconsin

The weather was just too wonderful last week to not take more advantage of being able to grill out. I searched through my Pinterest posts and found Greek Kabobs that sounded amazing and Pinot Noir Burgers. I had almost everything in the house for both of these and set to work.

First up the Greek Kabobs. I thawed out some chicken breasts that I had in the freezer, sliced them in to thin pieces and then threw them in a Ziploc bag with the marinade. I didn't have Greek Seasoning, but I had almost everything that comprises it and made it myself. I omitted the marjoram. I let the chicken marinate while I made the avocado tzatziki sauce. I also soaked the skewers at this time to help prevent them from burning so quickly on the grill.
The sauce came together really easily and my only substitution was sour cream for Greek yogurt because I didn't have any in the house. While I let the chicken marinate a little longer, I made my potato packets. Using my mandolin, I chopped up potatoes and carrots and sprinkled them with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add other spices if you would like.  Spray the aluminum foil with cooking spray and then add a dab of butter to the top of the pile.
Then seal it up tightly so the steam doesn't escape. This went on the grill before the chicken because it was going to take a bit longer.

 I threw the packets on the grill and skewered up the marinated chicken.

The directions said to only have them on the grill for 4 minutes per side, but I found that it took a lot longer to reach a safe consumption temp for me. Maybe their grill was hotter than mine. But when they were done, they smelled amazing. Notice the charring on the skewers - even with the water, they still burned.

Then it was time to unwrap the potatoes and serve up dinner. Everything was great. The chicken came off the skewer nicely and the tzatziki was nice and refreshing. The Greek flavors really came through the meal. And as always, the potato packet was delicious and filling.

Next up were the Pinot Noir Burgers. I didn't have Pinot Noir in the house, but I had a bottle of New Age red that I substituted. I sauteed the mushrooms and onions in some of the wine and then set those on the side.

The burgers were a little moist because of the added wine, so we formed them and then set them in the fridge to firm up a bit before grilling them. I would suggest next time to really mash the burger into a ball as they are still very moist and crumbly on the grill. None fell apart and I have always heard that over-mixing the meat can make a tough burger.

With the burger, I also grilled up some pineapple and more potato packets.
Then it was time to assemble. I had Swiss cheese that we put on the bottom bun, topped by theburger and then the mushrooms and onions over the top. We did add a little Miracle Whip to the top bun for added flavor.
All said and done, the burgers were cooked medium well and had really great flavor. The pineapple was a great treat and the potato packets are always a great addition.
I will keep this on my repertoire as another way to make a grilled burger. I made some great ones for a Packer party in Fall for my friends and I think this ranks right up there with them.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Miller Park 2015

Saturday was my first trip to Miller Park to cheer on the Brewers. My friend invited us to enjoy a tailgate and celebrate her 30th birthday at the game and we jumped at the chance. There was a special on tickets and on select food items in the stadium for this game, so it made it even a better trip.

We coordinated before the big day to figure out the tailgate food and everyone brought something to share. We had brats, burgers, beer dip, taco dip, guacamole, sour grapes, cookies, Jell-o shots, veggies and dip, pasta salad and cake. Everything was DELICIOUS and we couldn't ask for better weather for the tailgate. Our tailgate neighbors were celebrating a bachelor party and brought a Justin Bieber pinata. It took two guys to bust it open and in addition to a lot of candy inside, there was a Playboy. Ha ha.

After indulging in copious amounts of food and tasty drinks in the parking lot, it was time to head into the game. A heads up that it takes a little longer to get into the game this season because of the metal detectors that everyone must go through. You need to remove your cell phone and any large metal objects and place them in a bin. Purses also are searched as you walk through the detector. It went rather smooth but it still slows down getting in.

The birthday girl selected us seats on the 300 level between first base and the right field player. We were in the front row! They were great seats and the Brewers got things off to a great start.

By the 3rd inning, we decided to wander for food and I had read about the Deep Fried Nachos on a Stick. I'm always one to try new food and so we went on a hunt to find them. After walking around our floor for a bit, we found a sign that told us they were right by our section if we would have just turned left instead of right. So we headed back and ordered it up ($9 for two sticks) along with a $4 beer and $1 soda (specials for the day).

The nachos on a stick look like corn dogs but are beef and refried beans with nacho cheese Doritos crumbled on the outside as the breading. Then its deep fried and drizzled with sour cream and nacho cheese. It's served with a side of salsa.

Right away I was bummed with the little bit of sour cream and nacho cheese on the outside. I'm a fan of both and love my nachos smothered in them, but I was ready to give this a shot.

My first bite was......interesting, crunchy on the outside and a refried bean consistency inside. Right away I knew this wouldn't replace my Cactus League Nachos. I prefer the crunch of a chip and being able to choose what toppings I scoop on the chip with each bite. The nachos on a stick definitely lacked the nacho cheese that make nachos, nachos.

I ate one and a half of the sticks and decided against finishing the rest. It really wasn't a replacement for nachos and it was a lot of bean and beef inside. I'm glad I tried it, but I will pick the mashed potato parfait, Cactus League Nachos, brat with secret stadium sauce or waffle fries with nacho cheese, ice cream sundae or anything else in the stadium before ordering that again.

It didn't damper my spirits of the game and the team played an incredible ball game winning 6 - 0. The Racing Sausage Race had a little controversy again with Pittsburgh. The catcher cut off the Italian during the race. Boos could be heard throughout the stadium for about 10 minutes straight. The Polish won that race. I quickly jumped on Twitter after the race to see what fans were saying and this by far is the best tweet I found from @ADBinMKE - "Francisco Cervelli interfered with the Italian sausage in the sausage race. Talk about irony. #brewers"

As for the Brewers, this was the first win of the season and everyone in our group agreed they won
because we were there! I'm definitely excited for more games, tailgate fun, and trying some other
new (to me) foods at the stadium this season. Go Brewers!

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Pasta Sarah

A few weeks ago, my creative juices were flowing and I decided to make a pasta dish for dinner. I didn't really know what I wanted to make, so I just grabbed some ingredients out of the fridge and let the magic happen. 

I had some Italian sausages from Sorgs Quality Meats and Sausages so I chopped them up and decided to pan fry them. browned them and made sure they were cooked through and then removed them from the heat and set them on the side.

 I boiled up some Fettuccine noodles in salted water.
 Then I grabbed some zucchini, gold and red cherry tomatoes and chopped them up.

I put them in a pan with a little EVOO and sauteed them for a few minutes. The spinach wilted really nicely.
Then it was time to put it all together. I chose to cut up the sausage a bit more to 1) make more pieces in the dish and 2) make the pieces more bite size. I received a small tasting of Tomato & Basil cheese from World Market and decided to shred it up and add it to the dish.
I added just a bit of the leftover pasta water to keep it from gluing together and then added some grated Parmesan to complete the dish. In a matter of 10 minutes, this meal was done.
This came together really quickly and smoothly and I think the cheese is what made the meal have such great flavor. I'm sure I won't be able to make this meal taste the same again, but I'm really proud of my creativity. I shall call this Pasta Sarah.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Spring in Downtown Waukesha

Now that the weather is nice enough for me to take a walk on my lunch hour, I have the opportunity to check out all the new and changing things around downtown.

You have probably heard about the Generations at 5 Points/Smokey O's switchero. Generations still has the shades drawn on the front and Smokey O's has paper on the windows. I hope these businesses open soon.

225 South is coming along nicely. The new dark paint color and sign really make the spot look classy. I can't wait to try the food. I love me some pasta!

Spring City Wine Co. will be opening soon next to the Clarke Hotel. Two wine shops on one street is heaven for me. I'm interested to find out more about the wine machines this shop will have.

Crush Wine Bar is having their Grand Opening this weekend with tastings, music, events and more all weekend long. Be sure to check it out. I'm a big fan of the place already!

Fruit of the Spirits Candles is going to be having their Grand Opening on May 2, the same day at the first Farmer's market of the season, Riverwalk for Breast Cancer and downtown Waukesha Art Crawl. This is a great day to open and get your name out there to the masses.

The former Random Twigs location looks to have some action going on inside. Check out LTE Waukesha for more info. I can't wait to see what that is to become.

Burlap & Lace's Boutique on Broadway is a nice addition to downtown. The clothes are so cute!

Frank's Sewing Center is leaving downtown but staying in the city. I understand their parking lot situation and I wish them good luck in their new location on St. Paul. Now we just need to find some entrepreneurs or established business to fill some holes - Frank's Sewing Center, Horse Emporium and I think there are one or two smaller locations available across the street from these on Main. Let's fill up downtown!

On North Street, I walked by Brew City Salvage and it looks like a great business. I will have to check it out when they are open and see what it's all about.

April 25th is the downtown cleanup from 8 am - noon. If you are available, they would appreciate the help in cleaning up the city. Meet at the Springhouse by Waukesha State Bank and you will be assigned a duty.

May 2nd is a huge weekend in Waukesha - The first Farmer's Market of the season held on the Riverwalk, the Riverwalk for Breast Cancer in Frame Park and the Spring Art Crawl in downtown.

I am probably missing a few things in my report, but I hope to stay up-to-date the best I can and share my downtown Waukesha knowledge with all of you!

Happy Spring Everyone!

Monday, April 13, 2015

El Sol de Mexico

My guy and I live on opposite ends of the great city of Waukesha. When I head to his place after work, I drive past El Sol de Mexico on Broadway. It has intrigued me for a while and I have heard good things about the place. I asked my guy if he ever ate there and he hadn't but was up for trying it sometime.

So one evening before we ran some errands, we checked the place out. The front parking lot is a little odd if you come from west, as all the front spots angle the other direction. It was after I squeezed into a spot that I saw they had additional parking around the back of the building. (You wouldn't see that coming from the west though.)

We walked in and noticed the fun decor. The walls are painted bright yellow and blue with decorations throughout the restaurant. We were sat at a booth near the front and I was facing the bar area in the back that looks like a nice area. The kitchen is behind the register area and the middle area of the restaurant is a lot of tables that can accommodate parties of any size.

Chips and salsa were brought to us while we perused the menu. The menu has a ton of options so it  was really hard to come to a decision. Prices were very reasonable, so my guy decided to get a Pina Colada and guacamole and chips to start. The Pina Colada was delicious (coming from a girl that doesn't particularly like coconut).

And the guacamole was scrumptious. It tasted like it was whipped and had fresh cilantro. I really enjoyed this treat with the homemade chips.
For my entree, I decided to go with chicken flautas. It's something that I typically order and I wanted to see how it compared to others in the city. Three crunchy flautas arrived with sour cream, lettuce and tomatoes on top. I was really excited to see the side of guacamole as well The flautas were a little tough to cut through with my knife but they tasted great. The chicken had great flavor. The refried beans were really good  - they were light and fluffy. Unfortunately the rice was really bland, so I didn't eat it.
My guy went for the chicken fajitas and they arrived very hot and sizzling, but not chicken. They brought him beef. He decided not to complain as it smelled wonderful and he was rather hungry.
 Check out this video of the sizzle.
The fajitas came with sour cream, lettuce, tomatoes, the heavenly guacamole, rice and beans and flour tortillas (corn tortillas can be ordered as well). My guy concurred on the rice but enjoyed the rest of his meal. I sampled a bite of his fajita meat and it was pretty good. The meat was well seasoned.
The food was great and we definitely will come back. My guy did wish his order would have come right because the restaurant wasn't busy so it should have been easy to remember what we each wanted. But overall we left with happy bellies and will probably come back again.

La Estacion is still my favorite in town, but I haven't been to Casa Ole, Margaritas, La Fuente, (have been to the Milwaukee one) or El Palmar yet. Serrano's is good but a little pricier, Plaza Garibaldi is decent, Taco Amigo is great for a quick bite at lunch. (Casa del Rio was my favorite - the seafood enchiladas were amazing!)

Friday, April 10, 2015

The Best Meal I Have Made My Guy....So Far

Last week, I received the ultimate praise from my guy. This is the praise that every woman that wants her man to be happy loves to hear. What is the best way to your man's heart? Through his stomach. Ok and being loving and supporting and a good listener and all those other things. But as a girl that loves to cook, I love it when I please my man with my cooking. So what was it that I heard him say?

"This is the best meal you have ever made"

And the best part - the meal was sooooo simple, thanks to some Pinterest searching and some Food Network TV watching.

I am a huge fan of Ree Drummond, AKA - The Pioneer Woman. I love her blog, her TV show and most of all her cooking style. She is so down to earth and cooks with normal ingredients. Most of her meals are simple to make and will keep you full and satisfied.

Recently, my guy and I watched an episode of her show where she made creamy herbed potatoes. They looked absolutely fantastic and we were left just short of drooling after the episode. I knew this was something I needed to make soon. Mind you this is not a healthy dish and even though I used a few healthier ingredients than Ree, it's still a splurge side dish.

Start with sauteing some onions in a lot of butter!
I was able to use my new mandolin to slice up the potatoes. It worked like a dream and all the potatoes were the same thickness to cook the same.

Then you add cream cheese (I went with the 1/3 less fat kind)
I used just a small amount of cream (because I had it) and 1% milk to complete the creamy part of the potatoes. I didn't have any fresh herbs, so I just cut back on my dried herb usage. I have read that dried herbs can have double the flavor as fresh so you don't need to use as much.
Stir it all around until everything is smooth and combined and then pour it over the potatoes.
The it's into the oven for about 45 minutes, or until the middle is bubbly. I do think I could cut back on the butter a bit - maybe use half a cup instead of a cup, but that would probably affect the flavor.

While the potatoes were cooking, it was time to make the Paninis. 

I recently got a Cuisinart Griddler and have been trying different Panini sandwiches on it. Cafe de Arts in Waukesha makes an awesome Prime Rib Panini, so I scoured Pinterest and found something similar to try in my press. I think what makes Cafe de Arts Panini so delicious is the sauce, so I made sure to buy some fresh horseradish to use in the mix.

I started by softening some onions with a little oil over medium heat. I didn't actually caramelize them, just softened them up for the sandwich. I nuked some mushrooms for about a minute in the microwave, drained off the water and set them on the side to add to the sandwich.
I made the spread from Miracle Whip, horseradish and mozzarella cheese.  Then it was time to assemble. Oil the outside of the bread and lay that side on the heated Panini maker. Spread the spread over the bread and then put two pieces of roast beef, onions and mushrooms and then 1-2 more pieces of roast beef. Then spread the spread on another piece of bread and place the spread side against the roast beef. Spray the outside of the bread with EVOO and then close the Panini press using light pressure for about 30 seconds.
The sandwiches were done 5 minutes later and the potatoes rested. It was time to dig in. My guy was in heaven. And that's when I heard....."This is the best meal you have ever made" He loved everything about it. The crisp bread with a little heat to the sauce on the sandwich. The potatoes were rich, creamy and irresistible.
I told my mom about the delicious sandwiches and she wanted the recipe as well. I sent it to her and she made them this past week too. She agreed they are fabulous! This meal definitely goes on the list of To Be Made Again (and again and again)!