Friday, November 13, 2015

Pickles, Pickles, Pickles

Recently I was contacted by Oh Snap! Pickles and asked if I am a pickle lover. That couldn't be closer to the truth. I love pickles - the crisp crunch of a dill pickle is something I really enjoy!. I could probably eat pickles every day! It's a must purchase for me each year at State Fair.

If you aren't familiar with Oh Snap! Pickles, they are individually wrapped pickles and can be found at Wal-Mart and soon at area Kwik Trip gas stations. And they are from Wisconsin!

In honor of #NationalPickleDay on Saturday, November 14th, Oh Snap! Pickles is running a contest to find the pickle on their website for the opportunity to win $100 and an assortment of products!See the details on their site.

Here are the contest details:
  1. Like Oh Snap! pickles on Facebook
  2. Find the hidden Oh Snap! Pickle on the contest page
  3. Enter name, email, and location of the Oh Snap! pickle for the chance to win $100 and free product samples.

Also, in honor of National Pickle Day, I thought I would share some of my pickle posts with you that I love. 

1. My grandpa used to make big pickles and have them in a big crock jar in his fridge for us to enjoy!

2. Pickle & Olive Roll Ups are one of my favorite party foods to bring. They are easy to eat and always a big hit. 

3. Deep Fried Pickles or Frickles from Ride & Dine or anywhere are always a yummy treat. I even made baked pickles in the oven that were amazing! 

So if you have an opportunity, enter the contest and see if you win. And enjoy a nice crisp dill pickle tomorrow in honor of it's day!

Friday, November 6, 2015

All Whisked Up - November

It's the November edition of the Wisconsin Whisk All Whisked Up Challenge! How this works is that Members of the Wisconsin Whisk group are blindly sent a blogger by the organizers and sent their info via email. We are to wander through their blog, learn about them, and cook one of their recipes.

This month, I was given YummySprout as my blind blog. Tara, from the Madison area, creates her own recipes, with the occasional inspiration from other recipes she finds online. She also teaches cooking classes at Whole Foods in Madison for children and adults. I love that she is getting the kiddos active in cooking at such a young age. This really instills great food choices at a young age.

Tara and her girls have some food allergies and intolerances that put them on a stricter diet -- soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free. Tara's blog is filled with amazing recipes that don't lack flavor or fun even with these restrictions.

Because I am a lover of all things pumpkin, when I came across her recipe for Pumpkin Honey Cake. I don't have a gluten intolerance so I used regular all-purpose flour in my recipe but that was my only edit to keep it as true to the original as possible.

The other great thing about this recipe is that I had all the ingredients in my house. My guy just moved in with me on Halloween weekend and that meant an influx of food items. I was very happy to make this cake to help empty my pantry.

I mixed all the wet ingredients together in my "new" bowls. My guy had some really wonderful bowls so I gladly donated my college-era bowls to Goodwill and used these wonderful ceramic bowls.

Cooking with pumpkin makes such a beautiful colored batter, don't you agree?

Something new that I have never done with a recipe before but might do this from here forward, putting some butter in the pan and place the pan in the oven while it preheats. This allows the butter to melt and coat the pan.
I couldn't help but watch this cake rise while baking in the oven. There was no need to burn my pumpkin candles while this was in the oven. My house smelt like absolute heaven!
I pulled it out at exactly 40 minutes and my toothpicks came out clean. The cracks on the top also let me know it was done.

I let it cool just a bit on the stove before sneaking a piece. I drizzled some honey over and dug in. This was excellent. It wasn't as sweet as a typical cake, but I didn't mind. The honey added extra sweetness to it.
My guy and the girls had a piece before school this morning and they too liked it. My guy told me it was more of a savory and not overly sweet treat but he liked it. I liked that there wasn't processed white sugar and instead used honey for sweetness. We did think that cream cheese frosting or a powder sugar drizzle would be awesome on top of this cake. This will definitely go on my list of fall treats!

I love being paired up with other Wisconsin blogs. It opens my eyes and belly to other's cooking styles and let's my kitchen adventures continue. So far, I am two for two on recipes that were enjoyable. Last month's Loaded Cauliflower Casserole will be added to the Thanksgiving table this year!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Southwest Pasta Dinner in a Hurry

With my life changing in the next few weeks when my guy and his little ladies move in with me, I decided I needed to create more meals in a hurry. I typically eat later at night after I wind down from the work day, but the little ladies eat pretty much right when they get home. So with my guy and I both working full time, I needed to find meals that work in a hurry that are yummy.

I have had a recipe for Southwest Pasta pinned to my The Main Event board on Pinterest. I used this as a base for my meal, but made a lot of adjustments to make the dish go farther and add more flavor.

I doubled the recipe to start and boiled an entire bag of tricolor noodles. Then I browned an entire pound of meat with 1/2 a purple onion. Then I mixed in 3/4 of a can of sloppy joe mix, a can of black beans (drained and rinsed) and a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies. I added some garlic powder and cumin.

Then I added the noodles with the rest of the sloppy joe sauce. This helps break the nood
les apart after they are sitting for a bit. And I added in 1 cup of shredded cheese.

At this point, I served myself up a bit to try. The flavor was amazing but soon the green chilies overpowered my tender taste buds and I wished I had some sour cream in the house.

Alas, I was out, but I found a package of 1/3 less fat cream cheese. I chopped up the block and mixed it into the entire dish. I knew that letting it sit would only increase the flavors so I didn't worry if this was too much.

I added a small bit to my plateful and it turned out perfectly. I am very happy with this dish and maybe using regular diced tomatoes will help bring the heat lower for the little ladies too! But I think this dish will be something they will like. 

This entire meal took about 20 minutes to put together. Boiling the noodles and browning the meat takes the longest, the rest is just opening cans and mixing things together.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Fall Apple Crisp

My favorite month of the entire year is October, and maybe that's because it starts out with my birthday and ends with Halloween! I also love the leaves changing color, cooler temps, and pumpkin/apple flavored everything.

At my job, we bring in a treat on our birthday to share with the team. I decided to make an apple crisp, a favorite treat of mine and perfect for the fall weather. My dad used to make an amazing apple crisp with wheat germ. It was my brothers and my favorite breakfast. I couldn't find that recipe and i didn't have any wheat germ in the house, so I went on a search for other options.

I had plenty of apples in my house and found a recipe to use as a template before having some fun on my own with the flavors.  I really wanted it to taste like you are eating fall (haha)

I started by doubling the recipe so I would have enough to feed everyone at work (and have a few leftovers for myself to enjoy).

My Aunt bought me this awesome apple cutter a few years ago for Christmas. It cuts in either 8 or 16 pieces. I realized that by using the 16 piece option, I didn't need to really slice the apples any thinner and just had to remove the peel from each piece. I love time savers in the kitchen.

Here are my alterations to the recipe: (remember I doubled it)

Filling edits:
- I used 9 apples - I like a lot of apples in my crisp!
- I used 5 Tbsp. butter instead of 6 (trying to cut back on fat)
- replaced the vanilla with Maple Syrup as I didn't have any vanilla at home
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon and 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- 2 Tbsp Flour and 2 Tbsp. Chai Protein Powder

Topping edits: 
- I used 3/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup of Chai protein powder in the crumb topping
- I used 1/4 tsp cinnamon and a 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- I used only 8 tbsp of butter for the topping (tried to but back a bit)

And after those edits, I followed all the mixing ingredients to a T. Even with less butter in the filling and more apples, I felt there was still plenty of coating on all the apples.

I am so glad that I purchased a pastry blender as doing this with a fork would have taken forever. 

 There was plenty of crumb topping to generously cover the apples. 
Voila! The end result was bubbling at the edges when I pulled it out of the oven. I let it cool uncovered for about an hour and then covered it until the next morning. The topping did get a little soggy but by removing the lid at work, it crisped up again.

My coworkers raved about it. They warmed up their pieces in the microwave for just about 10 seconds and someone even told me it was like something from a restaurant! I brought home the last bits for my guy to try and his words were "you can make this anytime you want."

So I would say this is an overwhelming win for me in the baking department. And I just happen to have more apples at home that are ready to be baked with :)

Friday, October 16, 2015

Raised Grain Brewery

My friend Tiffany works in specialized retail on the east side of Waukesha and Raised Grain Brewery opened very near her job. I met up with her one night after work and we headed over to check the place out.

We ended up going during their Grand Opening celebration and although the place was very busy with patrons, we were able to find some stools at the bar without a problem.

The bartenders/owners were all present and very welcoming. They greeted us as soon as we sat down and got us some menus to review while they waited on other patrons. The menus describe each beer they have available so it took us a bit to get through.

While we read about the beers, I also took in the atmosphere. The bar reminds me of Sweet Mullets in Oconomowoc with a rustic/industrial vibe. Beautiful wood shelves behind the bar, growlers and glasses, and the window behind the taps to see the brew room.
Bar Top - picture doesn't do it justice so go see it in person!
The bar top is an absolutely gorgeous wooden masterpiece that according to their Facebook page, weighs 1000 pounds. My photo does not do the top justice, so please stop in and see it for yourself. The light fixtures and design was all put together by the owners and are very industrial rustic. 
Tiffany and I each decided to do a flight so we could try a variety of their beers. The beers are numbered on a chalkboard and the bartender provides you a mini chalkboard to write down your selections. That mini board is then magnetically stuck to a muffin tin that has your four beers and some pretzel bites..

Tiffany and I shared our flights so we could try almost all the beers. We both chose #3 so #5 was missed this time. But fortunately #3 was excellent and we each were then able to enjoy the full sample.

About the Beer:
Kolsch - nice and light
Spring City Amber - A very good Amber, nice nose and flavor
Imperial Stout - pretty heavy in taste and a lot of coffee - Tiffany really liked this but it was too heavy in coffee for me.
Birdseye Belgium Trippel - This was my favorite and I could drink this all day. It's bold and full of Belgium. But with 9.23% alcohol, I will have to be careful not to overindulge too quickly!
Six Stone Scotch - very easy to drink and much like a Kilkenny for me.
Riggenaut Rye IPA - This one was extremely hoppy for me.
Ah Ha IPA - This one was hoppy as well but I did like it quite a bit.

Between Tiffany and myself, we both thought the Amber was a great beer, Trippel is delicious, and Ah Ha has a unique tastefor a hop-heavy beer.

I overheard the owners talking about having more new beers to try soon (something about a Cherry IPA???)

With all of this great beer available, you need to pair it with more than pretzels. The brewery serves frozen pizzas and jumbo soft pretzels. But on most Thursdays, Smokey O's Food Truck can be found outside serving up their great smoked eats.

The brewery provided us a menu to decide what we wanted to eat and then Tiffany went outside to order it and bring it back in. She surprised us with three selections - pork Banh Mi sliders, pulled pork Panini, and pork Tacos.

The Banh Mi sliders have a solid spice kick but I really liked them. The Kings Hawaiian buns add the perfect amount of sweet to help compliment and calm the heat. Very fresh in flavor too!

The Panini was heavy on the chipotle flavor but still delicious. The crunch of the bread with the melty cheese was excellent.

The Tacos were loaded with fresh ingredients and flavors. They were a little messy to eat but very delectable.

This was a very solid first experience of the brewery and I will be happy to come back again and try more of the beers. And if a food truck isn't available, I read that Raised Grain will let you bring in food from other spots as well to enjoy with your beers.

I also read that they are offering Yoga classes in the brewery. For $10, you get the class and a beer after. Get in your workout and enjoy a delicious beer after. I might just have to try a class!

Friday, October 9, 2015

All Whisked Up Challenge!

Earlier this year, I was invited to join a group of bloggers called Wisconsin Whisk. I felt extremely privileged to be asked and joined instantly. I haven't been able to attend the meetup in Madison or the virtual meetup to find out more about the other bloggers, but the Facebook group is providing me some great recipes and new blogs to follow. 

One of the things that I have been able to be a part of is the All Whisked Up Challenge. Members of the Wisconsin Whisk group are blindly sent a blogger by the organizers and sent their info via email. We are to wander through their blog, learn about them, and cook one of their recipes. 

I was given Edesia's Notebook, a blogger based out of Kenosha. No her name is not Edesia, as that is the Roman goddess of feast. Lesa, is a mom of two girls and wife of a pastor, and she enjoys cooking for her family and church. Like myself and most Wisconsinites, she is a fan of cheese!  I won't hold it against her that she is a St. Louis Cardinals fan (Go Brewers!) because she has lived in other states before making Wisconsin her home. 

Her recipes are easy to follow and don't involve too many ingredients--this is the perfect pairing for me. I am not an overly complicated cook myself and quite a few of her recipes sounded amazing. I also love the style of her blog, she has her recipes indexed and that has been a goal of mine for a few years and I just haven't gotten around to it. Goal for 2016!

I talked with my guy and asked him to help me slim it down to which recipe I was going to make as it was just too hard to do on my own, and we decided upon Loaded Cauliflower Casserole. I had most of the ingredients already at home and only made a few simple changes to the recipe to reduce the calorie and fat count. 

I bought a fresh head of cauliflower and got to chopping. In just about 10 minutes it was tender from the microwave. 

I mixed up the rest of the ingredients that included Lite French Onion Dip, 1/3 less fat cream cheese, and turkey bacon. I also didn't have fresh chives so I used my dried ones. 
Then it was as simple as mixing the rest of it up together and getting it into the casserole dish. 

I topped it with some 4-cheese blend and more turkey bacon and popped it in the oven. 

And in just 30 minutes, it was done and bubbly. I let it rest for about five minutes and then scooped myself a decent portion out and took my first bite.

This recipe is  AH-MAZING!!!! The French Onion Dip is what really puts it over the top. I think that all my party potato recipes are going to include French Onion Dip from here forward. It adds a level of flavor depth that is so good, but not overpowering. I could actually eat this casserole as a meal and I love that it is low carb.

It has for sure become a favorite of mine. 

I urge all my readers to check out Wisconsin Whisk and see what other bloggers from around the state are sharing. I am so happy to be apart of this group and can't wait to see what the future holds! I am already a huge fan of Edesia's Notebook and saw a recipe for Crispy Orange Terriyaki Wings - maybe I'll be the next Wings Around Waukesha post! 

Check out all the other members of the Wisconsin Whisk - All Whisked Up Challenge at the link below.

An InLinkz Link-up

Friday, October 2, 2015

Wings Around Waukesha: Neighbors

While I was coming up with the idea for Wings Around Waukesha and checking out websites of restaurants in the area with wings, I came across The Neighbors Bar & Grille, a place I had driven past a million times but never stopped in.

I read on their menu that their wings are actually grilled and I'm pretty sure my mouth began watering instantly. My guy and I decided to make a venture out there one night for dinner and check out the wings and other menu items.

The bar is a little off the beaten path but on a very busy road, Greenfield Ave., and extremely visible. It's definitely made a name for itself as it's always busy when I drive by. This place is a sports bar  and a great place to watch all the sports action - plenty of TVs that can be seen from just about any seat in the establishment and memorabilia on the walls.Check out their gallery.

We perused the beer menu and selected some micro-brews to enjoy and then it was onto the wings! On Thursdays, wings are half the price they are from the regular menu - a great deal. We ordered 12 and each picked a sauce. Because my buds are little weaker with heat, I went with Sticky which is a BBQ sauce and my guy went with Smokin' A.

We also decided to order entrees as well because we weren't sure if the wings would fill us or not.

The wings didn't take too long to arrive and they were amazing! The grill marks just added that extra level of awesome to wings.

We dug in and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. The wings were decent size and the sauces were delicious. A table sat down next to us and asked us about our wings before they made their order "Are the worth it?" With messy fingers and saucy lips I gave them a definitely head nod that it was a must-order! 

I really love the fact that these were grilled. It really adds a whole new level of flavor to the already amazing wings. We finished them off and the sauces were really good. Though mine was a typical BBQ, it had a hint of sweet and honey that I enjoyed. My guys smokin' A were right on cue with flavor and just a bit too much for me with heat. But we loved them - clean plate club members here! 

As for our entrees,  I went for something really crazy--The Dewey Dog, which is a 1/4 lb. hot dog, stuffed with cheddar, wrapped in bacon and deep fried. I ordered sweet potato fries on the side. My guy ordered the Honey Crisp Apple salad -- Could our entrees be any more opposite?
The meals were excellent, though the cheese tended to ooze from my dog the whole time. But it was still really unique and not as greasy as I was expecting.

We will definitely return for more meals, wings and drinks.

The Neighbors Bar & Grille Rating (Max Score of 5): 4.6

Flavors: 4 Drumsticks (A decent variety - could use something really unique)

Size: 4.5 Drumsticks

Taste: 5 Drumsticks - the grilling gave them top honors!

Price: 3 Drumsticks on non-wing night (almost $1.00 each)/4.5 Drumsticks on wing night ($.50 each)

Temp: 5 Drumsticks - nice and hot

Sauces: Options are Ranch & Blue Cheese

Veggies: Celery is offered

Wet Naps: Not provided with wing order - didn't ask if they had them available