Friday, February 5, 2016

Superbowl Eats

The big game is this weekend! Are you going to watch....the commercials? That's about all I really care about this year, and even half of those I have already seen online. Being the advertising industry, I do find it fascinating how much money is spent for 15 seconds and that the payoff is great enough to come back and spend more the next year!

Anyways, I will be heading to a friends to watch the game on Sunday night and we are going to bring over chili cheese dip. This is probably one of the easiest, but tastiest dips to make. One can hormel chili (beans or without doesn't make a difference) and half of log of Velveeta. Chop up the velveeta to help it melt easier and set the crockpot on low to let it get all melty and gooey. Serve with tortilla chips.

Sorry I don't have a picture of that to share of my own but I found this one online from Hormel

And here are some other tried and true favorites of mine - Bacon wrapped Parmesan Crackers. These do take a few hours in the oven to make sure to give yourself enough lead time.

Put foil in the bottom of a jelly roll pan and then put cooling racks in the pan. Cover the racks with Club or Townhouse style crackers. Next put a teaspoon of grated Parmesan on top of each cracker and wrap a half piece of bacon around the cracker so that barely any cracker is visible. Repeat until you are out of bacon or crackers.

These cook "low and slow" 250 degrees for two hours. The bacon will be crispy and the cracker will have absorbed a lot of the grease. These are a huge hit and I bet you can't eat just one. Here are the full directions from my favorite blogger and TV show - Ree Drummond, Pioneer Woman

This next one is really fun and something I came up with before seeing the popularity of this on Pinterest -- Chicken and Waffle Sliders. I bought mini frozen waffles, a huge tray of chicken tenders from Sam's Club. I created my own "nugget" breading and cooked them off in the oven. I'm sure chicken nuggets from the frozen section would work just as good.
 Toast up the waffles and assemble. Use a warming tray or serve immediately.

I offered Syrup, BBQ and Ranch for dipping and the overall favorite was Syrup!

Bacon Wrapped Water Chestnuts are a huge hit as well - anything with bacon really is. Here is the recipe we follow to make these bad boys!

And if these aren't enough for you, here are a few past blog posts of mine with more recipes:

Packers Playoff Game Snacks
Game Day Snacks
Party Snacks
Touchdown Deviled Eggs

Monday, February 1, 2016

225 So. Soooooo Good!

I shared with all of you my first experience at 225 So. - Mia Famiglia and I gave it rave reviews back then.

I returned last month with some co-workers for Happy Hour and enjoyed some wine, appetizers, and flatbread. We stayed well past Happy Hour talking about everything except work (like you should) and loved that the owner kept coming over and checking on us. He even told us to throw something at him if we needed anything. I love his fun spirit and smile that I see - such joy in his business.

Last week, I introduced my friend Tiffany to 225 So. She knew the business from the Waukesha Farmer's Market but just hadn't had the opportunity to check it out yet. The place had a decent crowd for a Thursday night and the aroma from the kitchen was heavenly.

I walked Tiffany a bit through the menu before our server came over and explained to her what I have already tried and loved. The server then went a bit more in depth for Tiffany explaining that the chef was classically trained in Sicily and so some of the items might have a bit more spice. But also that everything on the menu except the handmade ravioli can be prepared gluten-free. This is awesome news to those that have a hard time finding restaurants that can provide this sort of catering on their menu.

We pursued a bit longer and selected a pasta entree each and I told her that we must have the bruschetta. It came out really quickly and looked scrumptious. I couldn't wait for her to try it. The balsamic is out of this world good!

I ordered the Whole Wheat Pappardelle with braised beef, pearl onions, mushrooms, and capers in a light cream sauce. It was PHENOMENAL. I was hesitant on the capers as I haven't been much of a fan from past experiences, but this dish pulled everything together and it was delicious. I paired it with a glass (or two) of Chianti and it took it to an even higher level.

Tiffany order the gnocchi and she loved it. Again she tried something unique and we both took home leftovers with excitement of when we get to eat it next.

We didn't save any room for dessert, but next time we must. I have heard so much about their Tiramisu that I have to try it. We didn't hurry out after our meal, but instead enjoyed the ambiance and chitty-chatted while finishing our drinks. It's a very warm and inviting space. I can't wait to go back again and definitely need to introduce my guy to this place soon!

There are so many amazing things happening for 225 So. and I hope that although it's off the beaten path, that it becomes a local favorite for others like it is for me! They have been granted some land from the city of Waukesha for an urban garden. I don't know much more about this at this time, but it's going to be by the river and then they can have "extremely" local produce!

They also have a great Happy Hour from 4 - 6 on Tuesday - Thursdays. Great drink specials, 1/2 price appetizers and $2 off the flatbreads. The Duck Confit flatbread gives Bernie's Tap Room some stiff competition. Luckily each are unique enough that I don't have to pick a favorite! And finally, you can purchase their sauces and ravioli at the restaurant and at the Farmer's Markets. See their recent interview on Fox 6.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

New Year's Eve in Waukesha - 2015


2015 is coming to an end, but not without a big bang to close it out. Many local places are hosting some sort of New Year's Eve special and I wanted to share with you what I found out.

No matter where you go or what you do, please do it safely. Don't drink and drive. There are Taxis, Uber, and Shuttles as options to get you home safely! 

Here's what I know so far:

The Cooler is offering $40 all you can drink all night.

Mainstream Bar & Grill - The Great Big" perform for their New Year's Eve party. Click for details.

Boscos - Balloon Drop & Glitter Bomb

Bernie's Tap Room - “Your first stop on New Years Eve” As We Count Down to the New Year Indulge Yourself with our Special Lineup of our 23 Craft Beers on Tap including these special brews. Pizza Special - Bernie's Bacon Pizza with Pesto & Duck Confit 16" round $15.75, 12" round 9.75. $3.00 glass of champagne all night!

Spring City Wine House - music by Jake Williams (live piano) from 9pm - 1am, appetizers, and drink specials  - no cover charge

Spurs Saloon - Cowboy Up performs and free pizza and champagne at midnight

Taylor's Peoples Park - DJ Even Steve, drink specials, Free champagne toast at midnight, Rockefeller Fillet & Grilled Shrimp for $24, And they are even having a New Year's Day Brunch from 11 am - 2 pm.

Fox Run Lanes - open from 11am - 2am and have a limited menu.

Cue Club of Wisconsin - $5 cover, free shuttles after midnight. Almighty Vinyl performs.

Nice Ash - Burgundy Ties performs and there is no cover charge. Click for details.

Key Westconsin - Surf and Turf ( a 5oz Filet and a 5oz Lobster tail ) for $19.99.

The Lucky Rabbit - prize filled balloon drop and DJ. 

The Neighbors Bar & Grille - beer and drink specials all night, champagne at midnight and party favors

Meli - Masquerade Bash.

Crush Wine Bar - Pete Lange Duo performed live jazz, bottomless glass champagne fountain, party favors, appetizers and midnight toast. Open 4pm - 1am. Click for details.

I'm sure there will be more and I will update the list as I can, but there is definitely no shortage in having a good night in downtown. Again, please do it responsibly and call a cab if you have had too much to drink.

Happy New Year!!!!!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2015

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is back again this year. I always have such a great time researching, planning, and making my treat for this exchange. I always find a million recipes and have a hard time slimming it down to the perfect one to send out. Here's what I did last year, the year before and even the year before that!

This year I decided on S'mores Cookies from the Chocolate Moosey blog. I did alter the recipe slightly because after the first batch of dipping the cookies in chocolate, I realized they wouldn't be ideal to ship that way. So I modified and put the chocolate on the inside. 

I gathered all the ingredients and my mom's spritz cookie press. I have never used the press on my 
own, so this was going to be a fun experience. 
The dough came together really easily and luckily I had my food processor to make graham cracker crumbs. (Two sheets of graham cracker = 1/2 cup of crumbs almost exact!)

I then found the perfect tip to use for the Spritz and filled up the press with dough.

I then needed to do some testing to find out how much dough to press out to make the perfect sized cookies. My first batches ended up a little large and clunky, so I used less dough on the subsequent batches.

After letting the cookies cool completely, it was time to pair them up and get them ready for the fillings. You want to make sure you pair up cookies of almost the exact same size so when they sandwich together, everything is even.

And these silicone liners worked wonderfully for the cookies. Not a single thing stuck to the pan!
I filled one pan with cookies and topped them with one mini marshmallow each. Those went under the broiler and were watched closely for the toasting to happen. This was about 2 minutes max.
The other tray of cookies were spread with a thin layer of melted chocolate. Once the marshmallow is toasted, immediately sandwich the cookies so the fillings don't get too cooled. You want the marshmallow to smoosh and ooze and stick to the chocolate.

Don't mind the quality of the pans in this picture - this was just used for broiling. But watch the gooey, toasted marshmallow smoosh out when the top cookie is pressed in place.
And the voila, they are complete. I wrapped them up in groups of six per bag and tied them off with fun holiday ribbon.
Then it was time to wrap up the cookies securely with lots of tissue and newspaper for padding and send them to my fellow bloggers.
Of course you have to have a taste tester and my guy was a very willing participant. He loved them. The graham cracker cookie was delicious and he didn't want me to ship them all out!

In return for my cookies, I received treats from three bloggers - salted caramel cashew cookies that were divine from Stetted.
Ginger and Lime cookies from Hot Dinner, Happy Home that were the most unique cookie my guy and I have even eaten. I would have never thought that flavor would have worked and it really did.
Hall Nesting sent me Peanut & Cookie Butter Chocolate Chip cookies that were very large, thick cookie - made perfect for sharing. I could definitely taste the cookie butter.

I love this exchange and look forward to it every year! Here's how it works - you need to be an active blogger that writes about food throughout the year. You sign up and a few weeks later are given the names, addresses, and websites of three fellow bloggers. In return, your name, address, and website is provided to three other bloggers. Then you bake your treats, package them, and ship them out. The hardest part is waiting patiently for your three treats to come in the mail and find out what they are. 

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.