Friday, July 1, 2016

Grilling Steaks



Summertime in Wisconsin is when my grill really gets a workout. I am almost embarrassed to say my first gas tank on my grill lasted two years before fizzling out--with burgers on the grill! Maybe I just got lucky and got a super filled one? I really do grill a lot, but when it's just two people (or sometimes one) you don't need a ton of gas. And I have a Kwik Trip really close for exchanges, so those burgers never went to waste--the new tank was on before they could even cool down.

July 4th is a grilling day across this great nation and I partake every year. Obviously July 4th has a much bigger meaning than that, but if grilling out in our backyards definitely says freedom to me. Thank you to all our service folks--past, present, and future-- for this day of celebration. There is always a get-together somewhere and if I'm not "manning" the grill myself, I'm bringing something delicious to grill at someone else's event.

The Wisconsin Whisk group sent out an invite in June to do a BBQ blog hop and I was assigned grilled meat. So many recipes went through my head.

This year, we are fortunate to have two family's providing their grills to us on the holiday weekend. We are spending the 3rd with my guys family in the Appleton area. The adults are all getting steaks and the kiddos get hot dogs (they don't appreciate good meat yet!). On the 4th, we are spending time with my parents and not sure what will be grilled yet, but it will be something awesome.

Last weekend I had my folks over for an impromptu grill out. We marinated some steaks and thawed some 'dogs for the girls. Though steaks don't always need a marinade, when you don't spend top dollar, you can sometimes enhance a steak's flavor with a few key seasonings.

I have become a huge fan of vinegar and read a few years ago that it helps break down meat proteins to make them less tough. I don't want to take away from the grilled meat flavor too much so I keep my marinades simple and only on for a short length of time.

For our steaks, I made a simple marinade from Red Wine Vinegar infused with garlic, minced garlic, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, EVOO, salt, and pepper. See below for measurements for two small steaks.

I only let the steaks marinate for two hours and then brought them back to room temp before grilling so they would cook evenly. I am still mastering steaks on my gas grill as it has warm and hot spots. I am very cautious with overcooking, so I use a meat thermometer to check internal temp. And I always remember that food continues to cook even after removed from the heat. LET IT REST!

My parents brought over some thick petite fillets and though they only marinaded for a half hour, my parents still tasted the added flavor and were impressed. It added just enough extra to the meat without taking away from the quality that we bought.

On the side we had boiled corn on the cob, shrimp pasta salad, fresh watermelon, and peanut butter frosted chocolate cupcakes for dessert. This was a meal that scream cookout to my fiance and I. We were so happy with the turnout of everything. And yes in Wisconsin, watermelon and corn cobs are ready for the season, so eat up! Happy Independence Day Everyone!



Easy Steak Marinade (for 2 steaks)
1/2 tsp. minced garlic
1/8 cup Worcestershire sauce
1/8 cup soy sauce
slightly < 1//8 red wine vinegar (I used a garlic infused)
1 Tbsp. EVOO
dash of salt
dash of pepper

Put all in a Ziploc bag with the steaks (we selected think filets, but it worked well with fat cuts too - about 1 lb meat total). Seal and turn end over end to get the marinade all over the steaks. Place in fridge and flip bag after 1 hour. Marinate 2 hours max. Grill to your liking and enjoy with your favorite side dish recipes.



See all the other participating Wisconsin Whisk bloggers' recipes at the link below.











Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Wings Around Waukesha: Bullwinkle's

Bullwinkle's (Formerly known as Panos) is a sports bar and banquet facility just barely outside of the Waukesha city limits in Brookfield. I have been here a few times for both banquets and food, but I just tried the wings for the first time on my latest visit.

Friends of ours had just returned from an amazing European vacation and we met up with them to catch up and hear all about the trip. We decided to grab a table in the bar area. If you ever want to watch a sporting event with friends, this is your place. There isn't a seat in the bar that you can't see at least four TVs from! And the decor is extremely sporty - very different than the banquet rooms downstairs. They do have outdoor seating but it was a little chilly and being out front, it's right near noisy Bluemound Rd.

On Tuesdays, the wings are half price and it's also happy hour until 7 pm. The happy hour includes domestic beer and rail drink discounts and complimentary appetizers (cheese and crackers and the like). We were there for the wings so we spent a few minutes deciding on the sauces that each of us would try.



Bullwinkle's has a designated wing area on their menu with ordering sizes the sauces listed in heat order. Baby Moose included 10 wings, Mama Moose was 20, and Papa Moose was 30 wings. I tended to stay towards the milder options, but between the four of us we tried terriyaki, sweet Thai chili, Jamaican me crazy, and a few others. I also order deep friend pickle spears.

The wings came out rather quickly and everything was nicely labeled for us. Wings come with celery and ranch or blue cheese. The sauce level on the wings was a decent amount and not overly saucy.

The wings were nice and big and full of flavor. They were juicy and the flavors were great. Our friends like a bit more heat and said the ones they tried could have been hotter, but overall everyone thought they were great.

The pickle spears were a little harder to eat than pickle slices. The spear would separate from the breading and all come out with the first bite. But the breading I did try was delicious. I think I'll stick to slices from here forward when ordering.

Bullwinkle's Rating (Max Score of 5): 4.4

Flavors: 5 Drumsticks (lots of flavors - something for everyone)

Size: 4.5 Drumsticks

Taste: 4 Drumsticks - the grilling gave them top honors!

Price: 2.5 Drumsticks on non-wing night 12.99 for 10! /4 Drumsticks on wing night ($.65 each)

Temp: 4.5 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

Friday, June 10, 2016

Summer Fun Has Begun

Sky Above Pewaukee Beach
Memorial Day weekend was very busy for us, but an absolute blast. I'm still recovering from all the fun, thus the delay in getting this post out. Here's the breakdown starting with Thursday.

Got home from work and went to his daughter's school for their spring concert. After we headed to Murf's for a bite to eat. 

Murf's in Waukesha
Friday we both put in our eight work hours and ran for the doors for the weekend. We grabbed dinner with our friend Kacey at Rox Bar and Grille and then headed back to our place. The guys planned a movie night and I was along for the ride as I had no plans until.......
Rox Bar & Grille, Waukesha
Tory's plans changed for the night and we headed to downtown Waukesha to leave the guys with their movies. We checked out Daylee Public House and People's Park. Daylee Public House is going to have pitchers of New Age wine - first place I have ever found that does that and I'm overjoyed - see you regularly! 
Daylee Public House Outdoor Deck Seating

Daylee Public House libations
People's Park Rooftop
Saturday morning started early with my fiance and I meeting my parents at the Waukesha Farmers' Market and picked up some plants and bread. Then it was over to Roots Coffee Bar and Cafe for breakfast before heading to my parents to hang out. They need to take down a few trees this year so we walked the yard and assessed. Then my fiance and I headed home to grocery shop. 

Roots Coffee Bar & Cafe - Waukesha
Sunday we hosted a Memorial Day grill out with lots of laughter and good eats. People stayed late and it was a gorgeous night.  My wine bottle Tiki torches worked well for decor but aren't strong enough for mosquito resistance. 
Pinterest Wine Bottle Tiki Torches for the win!
Monday I headed out to Pewaukee Lake with Tory and we got their just in time for the parade. We watched the 21-gun salute before finding a nice spot on the sand. After a few hours, we decided to check out the rental option for kayaks and before I knew it, I was heading towards a fun island on the lake. This is by far my new favorite hobby and I will make sure my next vehicle has roof rack so I can do this all the time with my own kayak. I might have also worked out a storage option with an awesome friend with lake property :)
Pewaukee Beach
Kayaking at Pewaukee Beach
By Monday night I was exhausted but we still played some games at a friends' house and enjoyed another great evening. I was pretty much done by 9 pm and my back was screaming at me for lacking in the sunscreen department (paying for that now with itching and peeling!). 
I'm on a boat!
Tuesday was sad to see come, but it was definitely an awesome way to kick off the summer. I plan to get some posts up soon about all this awesomeness in more detail so you can enjoy it for yourself. But any place that I listed in this post is highly rated by this girl! 


Friday, May 13, 2016

Mooyah Burgers

Brookfield Square has recently added five new spaces to the southeast end of the mall. Three of these spaces became restaurants and I have had the opportunity to try all three already. Jason's Deli is like a Panera but add a salad bar. I will write more about this one another day. Blackfinn AmeriPub is a sportsbar-style restaurant with great unique eats and I will write about this one too in another post. Today I am focusing on Mooyah.

I first found out about this franchise last year when I heard it was being added to the mall. I was curious what it was going to served but figured meat of some sort. Mooyah is a burger and shake quick-serve restaurant. You order at a counter and your meal is made just for you. It is either brought to you or they call your name when it's ready. 

My fiance and I had a wedding appointment in Brookfield and I suggested we check out Mooyah after. He was completely on board. 

Mooyah is not a large place, with seating for about 30. We both chose the regular burger with cheese and one of the things I like the most is that the majority of the toppings are free to add to the burger. Only cheese, bacon, and avocado is an additional charge. I added Swiss cheese, sauteed mushrooms, and grilled onions on a white bun. My fiance ordered American cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo. I asked for a side of Mooyah sauce on the side because you have to see what's so special about their own sauce--it's a creamy thousand island sauce. We also ordered a medium fry because it serves 1-2 people.

We grabbed a table while waiting for our order to be ready and took in the atmosphere. The place is very kid-friendly with coloring sheets and crayons to entertain the littles while there. The artwork is then posted up near the menu. They also have a "Moodle Doodle" chalkboard wall to draw on. 

Our food came out quickly and was served to us on metal trays. I was impressed by the size of the burgers--though flat, mine was bigger than the bun and the bun was pretty big.  They loaded on the mushrooms and onions for me. 

I took a bite and it was impressed. I would compare it to a Butterburger or Kopp's burger but it did have it's own flavor. we both enjoyed the burgers. 

The fries are freshly cut and fried and I was very glad I ordered the Mooyah sauce--we used that as our dip for the fries. The sauce was great - creamy and tangy. And the medium order of fries was perfect for the two of us to share. 

We both said that we would come back again and probably bring the little ladies with us. I think they would enjoy coloring and then seeing their artwork on display! And they would also like the food.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Working Out and Refueling

As you may or may not know, I was training for a half marathon earlier this year. I fell off the training plan with my busy lifestyle and ended up just doing the 5k instead. However, I still want to run a half marathon before my 35th birthday, so that gives me......140ish days to get it done.

Training for a half marathon is quite complex and requires dedication, proper nutrition, and a variety of workouts. It's not advised to just run to prep for a half marathon. Your body will be going through a lot during those 13.1 miles, so you need to make sure you prepare it properly. And that is a whole body experience.

While I currently haven't started training for the half marathon, I do run and walk when I have time to stay active. Two years ago, I worked really hard during the summer months and lost weight and gained muscle. Unfortunately I gained some of that back and more importantly I lost the muscle. So it's time to get back to it.

Recently Nuts.com reached out to me to find out how I incorporate nuts into my workout recovery. It really defeats the purpose of a quality workout to gorge on not-so-healthy options when refueling. You won't get the progress you want and will most likely feel sluggish. Check out this great chart on post-workout snacks.

Here's my method:




Post-run, I make sure that I provide my body the fuel it needs to recover properly--a good mix of carbohydrates and protein. Sometimes I have a vanilla protein shake and other times I eat some nuts or trail mix....depending on my mood. And of course, I give my body plenty of water.

All natural almonds are one of my favorite snacks of all time. They are great when I am in need of a mid-morning or mid-afternoon snack and keep me from snacking on the junk food snacks that I typically go for. A handful provides a nice snack that is lower in calories and high in protein. Here are some other ideas of great times to eat nuts instead of junk food.

Sometimes I find it hard to find recipes that I feel have adequate amounts of protein for recovery. Nuts.com offers up some great recipes to help you pack your diet with protein in a healthy way.

So while I'm running and enjoying myself this summer in the amazing outdoors of Wisconsin, you betcha I will have some trail mix or almonds on my for recovery! And I know where to go if I happen to run out of them--Nuts.com - Their website has just about everything you can think of.

So please send those kind words of encouragement my way to help me stay on track this time and maybe you will see me out and about running and training this summer!

Friday, April 29, 2016

Mother's Day & Gifts

Mother's Day is right around the corner. I am not one to buy my mom the typical run of the mill gifts and always look for ways to get my mom something unique but that is totally her to show her how much I care.

I was emailed by Uncommon Goods recently and asked if I wanted to partner with them for a post. After a quick gander through their site, I saw many great gift ideas for my mom as well as for anyone when you are looking for that great gift that you won't find anywhere else.

Then I spent time learning the story behind the company. Back in 1999, the founder visited a craft show and was captivated by the unique handmade goods and the talented people behind the art. This gave him the idea of an online marketplace to help these amazing goods get in front of more people.

Uncommongoods offers unique handmade goods and shares the stories behind the artists. I had a hard time slimming down what to get my mom for Mother's Day as there are just so many options. Click here to see some of the great things they have available for mothers.  There are so many things that fit her taste and called out to me.
Uncommongoods.com Mother's Day Ideas

While searching for those goods, I put a few things down in my memory for future gifts when it gets closer to my friends' birthdays.

I found just the right gifts from some suggested links on their page for Mother's Day.  Though I can't share what they are just yet (gotta keep it a surprise from my mom who is an avid reader of my blog), I do plan to share after Mother's Day.

If you are looking for just the right gift, I urge you to consider a gift from Uncommongoods. I know there is something for everyone on the site.



Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Qdoba Loaded Tortilla Soup

I don't often get many packages on my front porch, but when I do, they are boxes full of awesome from Qdoba.

One of my fiance's little ladies brought in a large box from the front stoop and I was baffled as to what could be inside. To my very happy surprise, it was a promo box from Qdoba all about their new Loaded Tortilla Soup. The box contained a flyer, jump drive, canteen, hat, and Qdoba card loaded with two soups and drinks.

My guy found a perfectly chilly night to go try this out. I am always a fan of deep fried tortilla taco shells and it seems that every place has their own way of doing it.

Basically you build this just like any other item on their menu and customize it with what ingredients you want inside. The only difference is the broth that they add to all your ingredients.
My guy and I had our made identically with chicken and all sorts of yummy veggies, etc added.
Of course top it with cheese and sour cream and we were ready to enjoy.
Because the shells are holding liquid, I would recommend this is something you eat right away. I started by breaking off pieces of the shell and scooping up some of the thicker soup with it. It definitely had a kick, but I could manage.
I really didn't think at first that there was much food in the shell, but by the time I made it half way through, I was feeling quite full. It was very delicious and I would order it again but with more sour cream for my sensitive buds!
I really enjoy that Qdoba is branching out in many different directions from their original burrito menu. Their chips and cheese is still my fave in town and you can see me once every other week leaving Qdoba with a three cheese nachos on my lunch. 

If you don't want soup, definitely try the nachos or the girls' favorite, the quesadilla. And the chips, you must get their chips. The lime salt blend on them makes them irresistible for me.

However, with our lack of "late Spring temps" lately, this soup would be a perfect warm up meal to get you thinking of summer heat!  Or have it for Cinco de Mayo next week!

Thank you Qdoba for supplying me with this opportunity to learn more about your latest menu creation and be able to try it. I can't wait to see what you have in store next!