April 05, 2014

Week One in Wisconsin

My first week in Wisconsin has flown by.  So far I've spent time in Green Bay and Milwaukee, visiting my dad's family and attending a work conference.  I am loving being back in Wisconsin, despite the chilly temps.  After months of seeing nothing but high-rise condos in the skyline, wide open spaces and family farms are a welcome sight.

Not surprisingly, I've been dining out a lot on this trip.  First up was Rustique in Green Bay, a great little pizza restaurant located in a 112 year-old chapel that I found by searching Trip Advisor recommendations.

The space is quite small so we had to wait awhile for a table but it was so worth it.  They have pews for seating at some of the tables which I thought was pretty cool.

Now that all my siblings are of legal drinking age, it's fun to start the evening with a drink.  My sister and I ordered blackberry crushers (made with Grey Goose, Chambord and fresh blackberries) and my brother ordered a Spotted Cow.  I love New Glarus Brewery's glasses with the Wisconsin fingerprint saying "Drink Indigenous."

Mac and cheese pizza is one of my favorites and Rustique's version is just as delicious as Ian's version, or from what I remember.  I'll need to have at least once slice when I'm in Madison later this month to be certain :)

The next day we headed to Renard's Cheese in Door County, stopping by Wequiock Falls on the way.  It was a wet, muddy mess there but so cool to see both the frozen and flowing waterfalls.  That's my dad below, wearing his Badgers shirt for the Sweet Sixteen game that evening.

After a fun weekend in Green Bay, I headed to Milwaukee.  As part of the work conference we dined at both Firefly and the Safe House.  Both the food and service at the Safe House were terrible and I would never recommend that anyone eat there.  I do think it's worth stopping in for drinks though just to see what it's all about.

Firefly on the other hand was a great experience!  Everyone I talked to loved their food and we had great service.  I ordered a pear and chevre salad containing lettuce, white wine poached pears, goat cheese souffle, candied walnuts and white honey balsamic vinegar which I'm anxious to recreate at home.

Their cocktail menu had some great choices.  First, I tried a lemon twist made with muddled lemon and sugar, citrus vodka, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and seltzer.  Next up was a cranberry basil made with muddled fresh basil, Wisconsin cranberries, vodka and seltzer.  Did I mention that it was an open bar? :)

I dined out with friends on Wednesday and was thankful they suggested Cafe Manna.  It felt great to take a break from cocktails and sip a limonade instead (made with fresh limes, kale, swiss chard, pear, agave and water).  I ordered their peace bowl which I first tried at Feasting for Fido.

Last night I headed to Cafe Bavaria with my friend Jacquie.  It's a restaurant I hadn't heard of until Lisa's blog post which just opened in February and is already very popular!  There was a long wait for a table, so we started with drinks at the bar.  I chose a Schofferhofer grapefruit beer made with hefeweizen because it was recommended by Lisa.

I couldn't help but order Wisconsin cheese curds as an appetizer, which is definitely not something I can get in Miami.  They were good but not the best I've had.  The best ones can only be purchased every other year at Cheese Days in Monroe, Wisconsin.  The line is insanely long but it's so worth it.    

As to be expected in a German restaurant, the menu is quite meat heavy however they do have some great vegetarian choices.  I ordered a spinach salad that came with pears, walnuts and dried cranberries.

For our next round of drinks, we asked for grapefruit beers and were brought Stiegl Radler tap beers, which surprised us but we both liked it even more than the Schofferhofer.  The Stiegl version is a mixture of grapefruit, orange, and lemon juice combined with beer.

It wasn't until the waitress mentioned the name radler that I realized it was Amstel Radler I was drinking at the South Beach Wine and Food Festival back in February which Rachel Ray compared to Fresca.  Upon further research it turns out that radler is a beer-based mixed drink popular in German speaking regions, similar to a shandy.

I'm back in Green Bay this weekend, heading to Madison soon.  While I miss my boys back in Miami, I am thoroughly enjoying seeing friends and family.  It was also nice spending time with co-workers who don't meow and lick me.

March 26, 2014

Spring Break 2014

First it was French-Canadians that invaded and now the spring breakers are here.  My sister Brianne turned 21 last month and we celebrated during her spring break.

First up, a trip to the Florida Keys.  Room rates are ridiculous right now, so we just did a day trip to Key Largo, which is about 1.5 hours from our apartment.  It was our first time at John Pennekamp  Coral Reef State Park and it's a place I definitely want to visit again.

There are quite a few activities to choose from there, including kayaking and snorkeling / scuba tours.  This time around we opted for the glass-bottom boat ride.  It sounds great in theory but in reality, there were a lot of motion sick people on the boat.

After departing a boat full of pukers, we headed to Knaus Berry Farm since Homestead was on the way home and I had heard rave reviews.  Almost all of South Florida's farming happens in Homestead, which is also where our CSA farm is located.

I knew Knaus was popular but the line still shocked all three of us.  Thankfully it was well organized into three separate lines - bakery, produce and ice cream.  We stood in the bakery line under the blazing hot sun for awhile before deciding the short ice cream line looked much better. 
I was jealous of the people with umbrellas, and plan to bring one next time when we determine if the bakery line is worth the wait.  Here's what cracks me up, despite the hot temps and the need for an umbrella in order to stand in the sun people are still wearing long pants. 

Bri and I both got strawberry shakes, which were so good!  Just based on the ice cream offerings, I would recommend a visit to Knaus Berry Farm, if you're in the area.  By the way, those are capris not long pants that we're wearing the photo below :)

The next day we headed to South Pointe Park which is at the southern tip of South Beach.  Again, it was a place I'd heard great things about but after visiting I'm not quite sure I understand the attraction. 

However, I know a lot of recommendations come from people who are there during sunset, so maybe that's a worthwhile time to visit.  There's an ok view during the day (photo below) and there's a small beach but it's quite a hike from the parking lot.  Oh and parking is $20.  Yeah, we likely won't be back.

Our fun for the day was parasailing with Miami Beach Parasail.  Neither Bri nor I had been parasailing before and we both loved it!!  I think Bri said it best, when she said it felt like sitting in a swing.  It was very stable and surprisingly quiet.  We could easily hear each other as we chatted in the sky.

You have the option to stay completely dry while parasailing, otherwise they will dip your feet in the water as you're coming back onto the boat.  However in our case it was a full splash-down.  The boat driver said it looked like we were having so much fun he thought we'd enjoy getting completely soaked.  I wouldn't use the word "enjoy" but it certainly made it memorable!

Chris' favorite dive bar in Miami is the Sandbar Lounge, so we had to take the recently turned 21 year-old there.  When we explained the occasion the bartender suggested we order sex on the beach, which was perfect for a young kid in a tropical destination who likes fruity drinks. 

I really like the Hollywood Beach Broadwalk, so I took Bri there on a vacation day when Chris headed back to work.  I still find it awkward that Hollywood chose the term broadwalk instead of boardwalk, because anyone not from around here assumes you misspoke and that you meant to say boardwalk.

According to the Travel Channel "In Hollywood, a vintage Florida beach town 10 miles south of Fort Lauderdale, they call their 2.5-mile coastal path the Broadwalk to emphasize the wide proportions that allow joggers, strollers, skaters and bikers to share the space with ease."

We tried hard to enjoy our time at the beach, but it was so windy that we were being pelted with sand.  It kind of hurt on our legs but we called it quits when it started hitting our faces. 

From there we headed to The Counter, a new restaurant in Aventura, for lunch.  I was impressed with the number of vegetarian options, especially considering that it's first and foremost a burger place.  It's a unique restaurant with locations mostly in California, Ireland and the Middle East.

On Bri's final night we headed to Fort Lauderdale to check out Las Olas Boulevard, a one-mile stretch of road with restaurants, bars and boutique shops.  On the far end is Rocco's Tacos & Tequila Bar.

A place that gets great reviews but doesn't take reservations.  We arrived at 8:30 pm on a Tuesday night to a line of people hanging out the door and decided it wasn't worth the 1.5 hour wait time we were told by the hostess.  I'm even more curious about Rocco's now and hope to attempt dining there again soon.

Leaving Rocco's, we started walking back down Las Olas in search of a new place to eat and ended up stopping at the first restaurant we came to.  Tuscan Grill had a great outdoor dining area next to the river and is far enough away from the sidewalk that you don't feel like you're dining along with the people walking by. 

From there we headed to American Social based on Yelp reviews.  I too give it high praise because they remade my watermelon margarita after I burned my throat on the jalapeno pepper garnish that I incorrectly assumed came on the side and not mixed into the drink.

It was so fun spending time with my sister in the Keys, Miami and Fort Lauderdale.  It was also great timing to get out and enjoy some warm weather activities because I'm heading to Wisconsin tomorrow...for a month!  I return April 28th and will be spending time in Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison and Door County.

March 23, 2014

Wild Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

They say photos are more important than words when it comes to blogs, and my favorite recipe search method proves that.  I often start my search with Google Images and then choose the prettiest looking recipe. 

I loved the look of Table for 2's blueberry ripple yogurt ice cream when I was searching for a frozen yogurt recipe to make with Wyman's frozen wild blueberries.  It's so easy to make, no ice creamer maker required, just a blender.

This was my first time trying wild blueberries, thanks to a coupon I received from Wyman's for a free package.  I love their cute tiny size and found that I prefer the taste of wild blueberries compared to the larger blueberries that are typically in our freezer.
Their size is great for baked goods because they hold less water.  I also made lemon blueberry scones with Wyman's frozen berries, which were delicious but ugly.  It's frustrating when you follow a recipe exactly and the end product looks so different (recipe photo vs my photo).

I've seen a lot of ice cream recipes made in loaf pans but this was my first time trying one out.  I added the blueberries in two separate layers in an attempt to get them evenly dispersed throughout the frozen yogurt.

Notice the plastic wrap overhang?  Yeah, it was way too short to cover the yogurt while it froze, so I had to add more plastic wrap to the top.

Photographing ice cream is a tricky business.  Throw in an 85 degree Miami day and you have to work very quickly when taking photos near a sunny window.  The white serving tray I chose sort of helps hide the melted frozen yogurt :)

Wyman's also produces flash frozen strawberries, red raspberries, mango chunks and berry blends.  I love mango which I plan to buy next in an attempt to make a frozen yogurt terrine with blueberries and mango.

Wild Blueberry Frozen Yogurt

Prep Time: 15 mins + 8 hours freezer time
Cook Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients (serves 8)
Step 1
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
Step 2
  • 32 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 8 oz whipping cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup frozen wild blueberries
Step 1
  • In a small saucepan over medium low heat, heat 1 cup blueberries, water and 2 tablespoons sugar. Do not stir, just swirl the pan using the handle. Cook for 5 minutes, remove from heat, let cool. Transfer to a small covered container and refrigerate until serving time.
Step 2
  • Line a 9x5 loaf pan with plastic wrap, leaving a few inches of overhang. In a blender, mix together yogurt, whipping cream and sugar until smooth. Pour half of yogurt mixture into loaf pan. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of blueberries on top and use a knife to gently swirl the berries into the yogurt mixture.
  • Pour remaining yogurt mixture on top and sprinkle remaining 1/2 cup of blueberries, again mixing them in with a knife. Cover with plastic wrap overhang and freeze for 8 hours.
To Serve
  • When ready to serve, remove loaf pan from freezer and invert onto serving plate. Gently peel away plastic wrap. Drizzle blueberry sauce mixture from step 1 over the frozen yogurt. Cut into 1/2-inch thick slices, rinsing the knife under hot water and drying into between cuts.
Recipe adapted from: Table For 2
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