Monday, March 30, 2015

Easter Egg Tie Dye Experience

Last week I asked my guy if he planned to dye eggs with his girls this year for Easter. (Secretly I asked because I love coloring eggs and haven't in years!) I think it's something that every child should experience for Easter and make the table look pretty. He agreed and this past Saturday it was dye time!

His youngest went shopping with us and picked out a tie dye Paas kit. I had no idea how it was going to turn out, but I figured we could always just do basic dying as well if needed.

We boiled up 15 eggs and three ended up cracking in the boiling process. Those became my eggs to dye :) I did have better luck at my guy's house having non-gray yolks. Start with cold water, heat up slowly to a boil, cover, reduce to low and let sit for 12 minutes. Instantly get them in cold water and keep cold.

I'm pretty sure we had a record use of cups when dying the eggs. We needed 6 for the tablets plus one for a rinse and then we were all drinking water as well - 11 cups for one afternoon! Luckily my guy has a lot of cups!

The kit called for just 3 Tbsp. of vinegar (no water dilution) in each cup with the magical coloring tablet added. This is a lot more concentrated of a dye than when I did them as a child.

The trickiest part of the process was getting the little pipette into the holes we had to poke in the tie-dye mold. Oh yes, this kit was quite complicated, but the end results turned out really pretty.

Here's our process:
1) fill cups with vinegar
2) drop in fizzy tablets and watch them turn colors
3) see that red is extremely pale pink and that our kit came with two blues and no purple
4) see the girls really bummed about the color choices
5) punch through the designated holes in the mold
6) wet the small cloth provided and wrap it around an egg
7) place the wrapped egg in the mold and snap the mold shut
8) press the mold shut repeatedly because the snaps didn't work and give up and hold it closed for the kiddos (results in dyed fingers for the adults)
9) Take the pipette and suck color into it from the cups
10) insert the pipette into the tiny hole and squeeze the color onto the egg.
11) be care with said pipette because you only get one and it's pretty cheaply made
12) repeat as often as you like with whatever colors you want until egg is to your liking
13) unmold and unwrap the egg and reveal the tie dye
14) do only 8 of the eggs as tie dye because it takes a long time for each egg to be completed
15) show the girls how to write on an egg with a white crayon and then dunk it in the dye directly
16) complete the rest of the eggs in this new format because it's quicker
17) try to get the dye off the girls hands so they don't look dirty
18) admire the eggs

All in all the tie dye eggs turned out pretty cool and I think the girls liked being able to write on the eggs.

The youngest was so excited she wanted to eat one of her eggs as a dessert. We had made brownies for dessert and she wanted it with her brownie. We asked her to enjoy her brownie first and then she could peel and eat her egg. I had an inkling that because it was pretty on the outside, she thought it was a sweet treat and my suspicions were right. After peeling it and cutting it open, she took one bite and disgust was written all over her face. I think she was hoping for a sugary taste. So we now know she isn't a fan of hard boiled eggs, or at least not as a dessert item :)

The other daughter loved it and had some mayo with it to make it more like a deviled egg. And now I'm craving deviled eggs so I might need to boil up some eggs and make that for myself!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Grilling Time

Last week Friday was a beautiful start to Spring. The temperatures reached into the 60s by mid-day and the sun was shining. Unfortunately the weather didn't look like it was going to stay for long and Wisconsin was going to be back into the 40s the next day.

So.....being the hostess that I love being, I texted my friend group and invited them over for my first grill out of the year. How I host a grill out is that everyone brings their own meat to grill and a side to share. I handle the grilling and supply a side myself, and then we eat, drink and talk about life. It sounded like I was going to have a great turnout and the Badgers were also playing that night in the NCAA Tournament and although I don't have cable, the bar nearby did, so we planned to walk there after dinner. 

I did a test run earlier that week with my grill. I hadn't been able to use it all winter because of a massive snowdrift on my patio. So when that finally melted, I opened up the gas on the grill, turned the knob and on the second try, it started right up. I planned to test the grill on marinated chicken breasts - thanks Sendik's. And for the side, I sliced up some veggies I had in the house, added some seasonings and grilled those as well.
The grill did it's job and cooked up the chicken perfectly. Last year, I bought a vegetable grill pan and it is my favorite piece of grilling gear. It is a metal pan and has small holes in it to release the moisture from the veggies but not have the veggies fall through.

Once everything was grilled up, I packaged it in my 9 X 13 pan with a lid and headed to my guy's place.  Have dinner, will deliver!

He was so surprised with what I brought for dinner. The pan kept the food warm and steamy so it didn't drive out on my short drive. Everything was delicious and we had happy bellies at the end.

Here's my veggie recipe:
Use any veggies you like that are great to grill - potatoes, asparagus, peppers, zuchinni, onion, carrots.
If you are using potatoes and carrots, they tend to take a little longer to grill than other veggies. I helped them out by steaming them in the microwave for a few minutes before grilling them.

Chop everything into bite-size pieces. Drizzle with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar. Add some Montreal steak seasoning and garlic powder. (I didn't have onion to grill up so I added a dash of onion powder as well). Add a dash of salt and pepper, toss the veggies around to coat and you are ready to grill them. I would suggest stirring the veggies around on the grill every 3 minutes or so to prevent pieces from burning. The EVOO helps prevent sticking but if you don't want to add the oil, spray both the veggies and the pan with cooking spray first.

When the veggies are done, transfer them to a bowl and add a Tbsp of butter to them. (You can skip this step).

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Qdoba: Bacon Jalepeno Queso - Ole!

I was contacted by Qdoba last month and made aware of a new queso that they planned to unveil in March. I was pretty excited seeing as my favorite thing on the Qdoba menu is the three-cheese nachos! When I was told the queso had bacon and jalepenos in it, I knew this was right up my guys alley. So we stopped at Qdoba on the day the new queso launched.

We stopped in and I chose the three cheese nachos and asked or the bacon jalepeno queso with chicken. My guy went for a chicken burrito and also got the bacon jalepeno queso.

I love the Qdoba really let's you customize exactly what you want the entire way through the building process. Nothing goes in it without checking with you first. Truly customized.

Qdoba also has the fancy touch-screen beverage machines that allow you to not just get lemonade, but maybe add cherry or raspberry filling to it. Because my guy and I are both not drinking soda during Lent, I chose raspberry lemonade and he chose Orange Hi-C (total flashback to McDonald's birthday parties!)

We sat down at a booth and looked at all the glorious food in front of us. I always ask for the chips on the side because I don't like when the chips start to get soggy.
And then we dug in.

The queso definitely has a kick, but it's delicious. It's probably my new favorite cheese. There is just enough bacon and jalepeno flavor but it doesn't overwhelm. My guy thought it was great on his burrito. Eventually I needed an extra side of sour cream to dull the jalepeno a little more on my nachos, but remember I do have more sensitive buds :)

I also saw they have a new savory smother for the smothered burritos and Quesomole that sounds like something I will have to try really soon. We couldn't be that glutinous and try it all at once! 
We left with very happy bellies and we both finished all our food. It was really, really good and I hope you have a chance to try it soon.

Roaring Forks (Qdoba) provided me compensation for a post featuring their product, but the review is my own honest opinion of the product.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Plowshare Marketplace

Every time I go shopping with my mom in downtown Waukesha, we have to make a stop at Plowshare Marketplace. It is my mom's favorite shop and I love checking out the ever-changing inventory of Fair Trade goods. I asked the store manager, Sara if I could chat with her and get a bit more about the store. She happily obliged and I am excited to share the story with all of you. 

Sara has been the manager of Plowshare Marketplace since 2011 but the store is in its 26th year in Waukesha. It was the first Fair Trade shop in Wisconsin! It moved from the middle of downtown to it's current location in the Avalon Square building in 2008, allowing for more room and a reorganization of the store.

The store is divided by category - clothing, food, toys, jewelry, etc and has products from approximately 30 developing nations. My personal favorites are the scarves and clothing. I attended Plowshare Center's fashion show last fall and was able to see the fashion on local models and really had the chance to see how things looked off the hanger. I am a big fan and love the hooded sweatshirt I picked up at the sale.

So what is "fair trade" and what makes this store unique? I think Plowshare's website explains it best.

Sara shared with me that the artisans are given half of their payment in advance for the goods requested so they can purchase the materials. Unlike other artists that need to wait for the items to be sold and have to sell the products themselves, these artisans are paid upon completion of the goods and its up to stores like Plowshare and other Fair Trade organizations to then sell the goods. And of course these artisans are paid a fair wage for their goods to help them prosper.

I asked Sara her favorite part of working at Plowshare Marketplace and being an artist herself and a (fellow) Carroll Alumi with a Fine Arts degree, she loves the shopping. It's a great mix of art and culture. She knows the hard work that went into creating each and every piece in her store and it gives her pride to display them. These items are unique and one of a kind.

Sara hasn't had the opportunity to travel to the countries that Plowshare purchases from, but if she was given the opportunity to travel, Nepal and Ecuador top her list.

Sara has so much passion in sharing Plowshare Marketplace and the story with me. "We are a generation that can make an impact in the world and bring more social awareness." So powerful and so true. When I need to get a present for someone and wasn't given a specific idea, I usually head to Plowshare because I know I will find a one-of-a-kind gift that has a great message behind it. Not to mention, the A-List also named them one of the best gift shops in the Milwaukee area.

Plowshare offers a number of rewards clubs on their food products. They have coffee, tea and chocolate clubs, chocolate being the most popular of course. They are all plans that you buy a certain number of the product and then get your next one free. The rewards cards are kept on site in a file, so there is no need to remember to bring it with you. And the clubs have no expiration date! They also have a birthday club that offers you a discount. 

Plowshare Marketplace hopes to revamp its website in the next few months and unveil a new loyalty club for frequent shoppers. With the new website, they are hoping to start offering some items online for purchase. It would be limited, but Fair Trade shopping, so every new direction can only help right?

So next time you are in town, take a gander through the shop! They even have these beautiful baskets to use (or buy) when shopping through the store.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Downtown Waukesha - Don't Fear the Construction

I took a walk around downtown yesterday on my lunch and took a few pictures. The snow is melting and they are predicting 40s and 50s for the next few days. I'm excited to see all the snow melt!

As I headed over the river on one of the bridges, I couldn't help but notice the right side of the river looks like winter and the left looks like Fall. Come on sunshine, melt that snow and bring us some greenery!

Downtown Waukesha is going to need its faithful followers now more than ever to help share the word that everything is still open despite the construction. Bring your friends and family and don't be discouraged that the roads are under construction. Last year it was Clinton and Main - this year (and into next year) it's the rest of Main Street. But have no fear, businesses are open and you can get to them rather easily.

Here is an article from about the construction and a timeline.

Sidewalks are still open and a lot of businesses on the north side of Main Street have back entrances as well. Those on the south side do not, but I know the city has taken that into account and will make sure that people can get to those businesses as much as possible. There is no getting around this construction - it is necessary and when finished, I'm sure it will bring us an even better downtown.

I walked up from the Riverfront Road to Main Street between the Main Street Apartments and the Antique store. This will definitely see a lot more use during the construction as it's a way to get from behind the businesses to Main Street. And it's a pretty walk as well.

Next I saw that the old Jackson's is having some Time Warner/Road Runner assistance today. I hope that means its nearing it's new opening. I'm so excited for this restaurant to open. My parents loved Mia Famiglia in Hales Corners and this will be the same family.
South Street is going to be alive with new renters in the Prairieville Apartments this summer. The skywalk is in and work was going steadily in the parking garage and units when I walked by. 

Next up I walked down Grand to Main Street and couldn't help notice these two brightly painted buildings on Broadway. What a welcome site for Spring! Burlap & Lace opened a clothing and accessories store to compliment their other shop on Grand. 

I turned left at the five points and headed down Main Street.I couldn't help but notice the large diggers in the road. But I believe I read they are already ahead of schedule!

I turned left onto Clinton and then right on Wisconsin. I noticed this sign helping guide people into the Maple Street lot. This lot is behind Couri insurance and the other main street businesses and is often forgotten. I think it's going to get plenty of use. This entrance is on Wisconsin, just west of Clinton. 
I walked down Wisconsin to Maple and took a closer look at the construction. It's only between Maple and Main Street currently, so you can get to the Clinton lot from Main Street at this time. You can also access this lot from Clinton Street by Hannon's Pub. This lot goes behind a lot of the businesses on Main Street and these businesses do have back entrances from this lot.
In the Clinton lot is a bridge that goes over the Fox River and connects to the Waukesha State Bank employee lot. I believe during business hours, the lot is only for employees, but after hours and on weekends, you can park in this lot.

I also found this map on the City of Waukesha website that shows how many spots are in each lot. Plenty of options when Main Street doesn't allow for street parking. 

So let's not be afraid of the construction and let's embrace it and I'll see you in downtown!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Thunder Bay Grille

During a really cold evening in January, my guy and I decided to go out for a fish fry on a Friday night. It had been a while since either of us had been to Thunder Bay Grille and we figured the wait wouldn't be too long with the place being so large.

I remembered a few years ago, my mom and I sampled their seafood fondue at a Waukesha Biz Alliance Savor the Flavor event and it was the best thing we ate all night. We even went back for seconds (and maybe thirds!) I told my guy if it was still on the menu, we were going to get it.

We did have to wait just a few minutes for a table, but we didn't mind. The bar was busy and it was nice to just sit down on the couches in the bar area and relax before the meal. When our buzzer went off, we were taken to a large booth in the main dining room and I immediately flipped open the menu and saw the fondue. Yay - we were in luck!

Our server greeted us and we quickly put in orders for Mt. Dews (we decided cocktails and the appetizer would be a little too glutinous) and the seafood fondue while we looked over the rest of the menu. Our server suggested that we order a second loaf of bread with the fondue because if we didn't order right away, it takes a while for it to come out of the kitchen. He didn't want us having to wait to enjoy such deliciousness.

When the fondue arrived, it smelled just as I remembered and I already could tell our server was spot on with having us order the second loaf. They do not skimp on the fondue. We were already second guessing ordering our fish frys but figured we could always take leftovers home. The fondue is creamy, cheesy and chock-full of seafood. They are very generous with the portion and the meat in it. We were both in heaven while enjoying it and though we ate a lot, there was still plenty left in the dish.

I found online that the Journal Sentinel posted the Seafood Fondue recipe. I am definitely going to experiment with this some evening as a treat for me and my guy.

Shortly after, our basket of sweet rolls arrived with cinnamon butter. These are delicious but I do miss their cheddar rolls they used to have on the menu.

And then came our entrees. Again no skimping here - we both received large plates filled with food and we knew we would have leftovers.

My guy chose the fried fish and I got the baked. Both of us thought there was a ton of flavor to the fish and it definitely didn't get lost in the fried batter on his. The butter and white wine sauce was the perfect consistency so you didn't lose the fish flavor and just taste all butter.

The french fries were good as well and we each got a rye roll with our meals- carbs galore at our table!

Everything was really yummy and our server was extremely fun and conversational with us, making us laugh the whole time. It really looked like we had enough food for a small family, but it was just my guy and I. The entire experience was great and our server was awesome.

We did take home leftovers of everything. I have never walked out of a restaurant with a shopping bag of leftovers, but there is a first time for everything! The fish and fries heated up really well in the oven. We nuked the sweet rolls for a few seconds and then spent time heating up the fondue slowly so as to not cause the seafood to get rubbery. Needless to say we had extremely happy bellies two nights in a row!

Thunder Bay Grille has a really diverse menu of offerings in addition the massive soup and salad bar. My dad's family used to come here a lot for the Sunday Brunch as the place can accommodate our group of 40+ and the brunch has something for everyone. I highly recommend checking this place out.

Monday, March 9, 2015

St. Patty's Day Recipes

St. Patrick's Day is next week Tuesday, which means a lot of local places are starting their celebrations the weekend before. Some are even running them for the whole month! I pulled together a list of events that I found this weekend for Waukesha - looks like there is going to be a lot of fun going on.

Happenings - The 'Pot of Gold Treasure Hunt' all over town sounds very fun!

Clarke Irish Restaurant - All the time!
They haven't released their special yet, but the menu is already Irish

Good Harvest Market - I'm sure they will have yummies in their deli, but I already saw that Cabbage is on sale!  

Generations at 5 Points - As a nod to St. Paddy's Day we have Shepherd's Pie all month!! Here is a link to the full March Tapas menu

Pat's Rib Place - Smoked Corned Beef available!

Simply Irresistible Catering - Now thru 3/16/15
Leave it to the professional and pre-order your St. Patrick's Day meal.
   "For St. Patrick's Day I am doing Corned Beef and Cabbage, Guinness Beef Shepherd's Pie; and Irish Sausage Rolls (Sausage Rolled in Puff Pastry with HP Sauce) Orders need to be in by 5 pm Friday, March 13 and pickup is late afternoon on Monday, March 16. 

Boscos Social Club - 3/13-3/17/15

The Blue Ribbon - 3/13/15

People's Park - 3/17/15

Lucky Rabbit - 3/14/15

House of Guinness - 3/17/15

Rochester Deli & Periwinkle Bakery - 3/17/15

Bernie's Tap Room - 3/17/15

Nice Ash - 3/17/15
Come meet the Two Gingers "ladies" St Pat's night from 7-9 pm. We'll have tee shirts, beads, hats and other goodies for our favorites.

Fixture Brewing Co. - 3/17/15
Hannon's - 3/17/15

Tally's Tap & Eatery

The Neighbors Bar & Grille - An Irish Feast

MC's Sports Bar 
Join us Tuesday, March 17. We will be open at 11 AM. Corn beef and cabbage specials all day. Serving food till 10 PM. Enjoy green beer and Irish specials all day! KEITH PULVERMACHER Will be playing 7pm-11pm Join us for our annual bash, it's always fabulous!
(sorry, we will not be doing any Tuesday specials or wings this day)

Martha Merrill's Books
I will not be around this weekend as I am heading north to Shawano for a big St. Patty's Day celebration with friends. There will be a parade, music, drinks and lots and lots to eat. Everyone was asked to bring a dish to share. I originally was going to make festive green rice krispie treats, but another treat was asked of me - Chocolate Guinness Whoopie Pies with Bailey's buttercream filling. I think I might just have to take a stab at those.

Other favorite treats that I have made in the past include Lucky Charms Treats, Irish Car Bomb Cupcakes and Guinness Beef Stew. The cupcakes and stew are huge hits with my friends - I served an Irish Soda bread on the side one year as well.. I'm not sure I'll get around to making either of those this year, but maybe I can - depending on how tired I am from the weekend.