May 31, 2011

Summer Quinoa Salad


This is one of my favorite summer salads, and the recipe comes from one of my favorite nutrition experts Dr. Miriam Nelson.  Check out her StrongWomen website for more great recipes.

 

  
Quinoa Summer Salad

Ingredients (serves 4)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup quinoa (uncooked)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • 2 fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup summer squash, chopped
  • 10 grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  • Whisk together the olive oil, 1 T of lemon juice, and garlic.
  • Pour into a medium saucepan and add the quinoa.
  • Stir occasionally until lightly browned (about five minutes).
  • Add the broth and bring to a boil.
  • Simmer, cover, and cook until quinoa is tender (about fifteen minutes).
  • Remove from heat and pour the mixture into a bowl; toss with parsley, basil, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes, peppers, onion, salt, and pepper.
  • Let cool and serve cold or at room temperature.
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May 29, 2011

Buttermilk Pound Cake

Chris' 37th birthday is today, and his birthday cake request is always pound cake.  I never had pound cake until I met Chris and I'm happy he introduced me to his favorite cake. It's great on its own, but especially delicious when topped with whipped cream and fresh berries!



Buttermilk Pound Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients (serves 10)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 of a lemon, both zest & juice
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Spray an 8 or 9-inch loaf pan with canola spray.
  • Mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat butter with sugar.
  • Mix in the eggs, one at time, beating well after each addition.
  • Stir in the lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla extract.
  • Gently mix in flour mixture alternately with the buttermilk.
  • Pour batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake in preheated oven for 50-55 minutes.
  • When cake begins to pull away from the side of the pan it is done.
  • Let cool in pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack and cool completely.
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May 23, 2011

Raspberry Gelato

Today was not so bad for a Monday.  I was able to try out my new ice cream maker for the first time, and we enjoyed decadent raspberry gelato for dessert this evening. 
The ice cream maker was really easy to use and I'd highly recommend getting one...at least based on my first and only experience :)



Berry Gelato
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Ingredients (1 quart)
  • 12 oz fresh raspberries or strawberries (hulled)
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 2 cups milk (skim is ok, but whole milk tastes even better)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon or lime juice
Instructions
  • Process berries, sugar, and milk in a blender until smooth. Pour into a glass bowl.
  • Add in the cream and stir just enough to combine (do not whip the cream). Then, add the lemon/lime juice and stir.
  • Cover and refrigerate for at least four hours and up to overnight. At this time, also freeze your ice cream maker container.
  • Transfer the mixture into an ice cream maker and process for 15 minutes. Serve immediately or freeze up to one month. To freeze, transfer to a freezer-safe container and press plastic wrap on top of the gelato inside the container.
  • If you serve the gelato immediately, it will have the consistency of soft serve ice cream. After several hours in the freezer, it will become as hard as traditional ice cream.
Recipe Source: Apple A Day
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May 22, 2011

Milwaukee Food Tours - Third Ward

Chris and I really enjoyed the Milwaukee Food Tour we took last night, and I promise I'm not just saying that because I was invited on the tour free of charge.  People tell me I'm too blunt, so you can be assured that this post will reveal my 100% honest opinion of the tour.

During the 2.5 hour, one-mile tour, we visited 4 restaurants and ended the evening with champagne and chocolates.  Below is a list of the places we visited...

The Soup & Stock Market
Rustico Pizzeria
SPiN Milwaukee
Tulip Restaurant
Cuvee Lounge

The tour started at the Milwaukee Public Market, which is one of those places I've wondered about the past two summers as I drove past to attend Summerfest, because I had no idea what was inside.  It turns out that it was modeled after the Pike Place Market in Seattle.  Having been to both, I can tell you that the Milwaukee version is cleaner and a lot less crowded.  Chris and I are both looking forward to going back to explore more of the market.


Our first sample of the evening was tomato bisque soup from The Soup & Stock Market, which was really good.  Chris enjoyed it too, and requested that I make it at home.  He also mentioned that I should suggest it to someone we know (who shall not be named) that makes terrible tomato soup...I'll let him handle that :)


We sampled our soup from the second level of the Milwaukee Public Market, in an area that is used for cooking classes.  I saw this sign as I was leaving, and after perusing their class schedule when I got home, I'm having trouble deciding which one I want to try first.  I think it'll be Summer Harvest on June 22...anyone interested in joining me?


From the market, we walked along the Third Ward Riverwalk, which despite the gloomy weather was a really pretty area, and looked like it'd be great spot to be in warmer weather.


From the riverwalk, we entered through the back door of Rustico Pizzeria, where we sampled a delicious margherita pizza.  Chris and I both love Italian food, and I can definitely see us returning to Rustico.  The owner, Brian Zarletti, stopped by our table during our visit, and it was really interesting to hear him talk about Rustico.


Our third stop of the evening was at SPiN Milwaukee, which is a restaurant/bar/ping pong club  I've never seen anything like it.  Chris and I immediately agreed that we need to go back when his sister visits us in July.  I saw people of all ages playing ping pong, all of whom looked like they were having a great time.


At SPiN, we sampled a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich, sweet potato chips and Sprecher beer that is brewed exclusively for SPiN.  With the exception of a cherry beer I tried on a brewery tour in Belgium, I have never found a beer I liked, but I really liked the Sprecher beer.  I also liked the grilled cheese sandwich (made with smoked gouda and pepperjack, roasted red peppers, avocado, and siracha mayo) and the sweet potato chips.


The next restaurant we visited was Tulip, which is a Mediterranean restaurant.  It doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside you're immediately welcomed with live music and gorgeous Turkish lamps.

Chris loved the chicken kebabs that he sampled and told me he definitely wants to visit Tulip again.  I was given the vegetarian option of grape leaves, which I was excited about, because I really liked the grape leaves we had in Greece.  However, at Tulip they were seasoned with cinnamon which tasted very strange to me.  This was the only food I did not like on the tour.


The final stop was at Cuvee Lounge for champagne and chocolates.  This is a space I never would have found on my own.  It's on the third floor of a nondescript building that you access through an elevator behind an Asian art gallery.

Not being a fan of chocolate, I only tried the champagne, which was very good!  Chris sampled the chocolate and liked both.  I really liked the experience of visiting Cuvee but it's probably not a place I would return to on my own.  However, I'd highly recommend the venue as a great place for a wedding reception, which is what it's often booked for.


As we left Cuvee, I noticed a flyer for 2011 Downtown Dining Week, which Chris and I are totally going to take advantage of.  Ideally, the $10 lunch options!  The tour ended with each of us receiving a sample of the "Historic Third Ward Seasoning" specially crafted by The Spice House for Milwaukee Food Tours.  It's an Italian pepper seasoning, that I'm looking forward to trying.

In addition to getting the chance to sample food and drinks at a variety of places, the other aspect of the food tour that I really enjoyed was getting to know more about Milwaukee, and specifically the Third Ward area.  The tour guide talked a lot about the architecture and history of the area, in addition to making additional restaurant recommendations such as Hinterland and Swig...both of which are part of Downtown Dining Week!


In the nearly three years that Chris and I have lived near Milwaukee, we have always told people we live in a crappy city.  I'm not exaggerating when I say that Milwaukee Food Tours changed our impression of Milwaukee.  The tour made me realize that we have never really given Milwaukee a fair chance.

Most of our friends are in Madison, a city that we both love, so that's where we tend to spend our free time.  However, we're both excited to have places in Milwaukee to visit now that we know serve great food.  We have several visitors coming this summer, so this tour was an ideal way for us to learn about places to visit with them.

May 20, 2011

Bake Sale Cookies - baked and bagged!

6 dozen cookies are now ready for tomorrow's bake sale.  I started at 5pm and ended at 11pm, with a quick 10pm break for dinner. I made 12 dozen total, and then bagged the best ones and I'm glad I had room for error.  It wasn't quite as smooth of a process as I was hoping...
  • the treat bags were too small
  • my printer ran out of ink for the labels
  • the icing for the thumbprint cookies turned out differently with each batch I made
  • the Reese's peanut butter cups melted in their wrappers (my kitchen was way too hot!)
However, all is good because now I'm done and headed to bed!


May 15, 2011

Sangria and Salsa

I barely made a dent in my stack of cookbooks from the library because I spent so much time reading Here In America's Test Kitchen, which has a ton of detail about each recipe.  I liked it so much that I made two recipes from the "Party Foods" section last night.  I made One Minute Salsa (p 7) and Sangria (p 15)...can you tell the book had my attention from the very beginning?

I had planned to make Chris' favorite salsa recipe after finding great tomatoes at the Kohl's farmers market on Friday, but then decided to try something different to see how the America's Test Kitchen version would compare, and Chris loved it!  He spiced it up a bit with killer hot sauce he gets from his sister, but he does that with every salsa, nothing is spicy enough for him.

The sangria recipe caught my attention because we have leftover triple sec from Cinco de Mayo.  The book states "the best sangria is based on cheap wine and uses oranges and lemons as the only fruit."  It's also important to refrigerate the sangria for at least 2-8 hours, otherwise it will be "harshy and edgy."  The batch I made was in the fridge for almost 24 hours, and tastes incredibly smooth.  Definitely the best sangria I've ever made at home.

Last time I made sangria I used our glass boot, but I have since picked up a plastic pitcher at Kohl's, which works well for sangria and other drinks served on the patio.  It was 49 degrees when we got home from Madison tonight, but Chris still attempted to enjoy a drink on the patio.


 

May 10, 2011

Wheat Berry and Chickpea Salad

Remember that summery salad I needed to soak wheat berries for?  Well, I finally made it today, and I loved it!  The recipe comes from Joanne at Eats Well With Others.   I made just a couple modifications based on my preferences, no parsley nor tomatoes please :)


May 08, 2011

Sugar Cookies

While looking through my cookie recipes this evening, I decided upon an old favorite - a sugar cookie recipe from my grandma's friend Anne.  It's a great, quick cookie recipe.


As I was rolling the cookies into balls, I got to thinking about snickerdoodles and decided to roll a few in cinnamon and sugar.  Then for kicks, I got out some colored sugar.  It's kind of nice being able to easily make a variety of cookies with one recipe.


Roasted Broccoli, Carrots and Potatoes

The weather today was gorgeous!  Chris setup our gazebo on the patio, and brought up all of outdoor furniture from the basement.  I took care of getting our summer dishes out, and now we're ready to dine outdoors through September :)

I was planning to make a summery salad for dinner this evening, but didn't realize that wheat berries need to soak overnight, so that's on the menu for tomorrow.  Instead I roasted broccoli, carrots and potatoes.


Roasted Broccoli
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 1 large bunch of broccoli
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ground pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese (optional)
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Cut broccoli into florets, do not wash the broccoli.
  • In a large ziplock bag, add the broccoli, olive oil, garlic, salt, and pepper, then shake well to coat the broccoli.
  • Line a 9x13 pan with heavy-duty foil and spray with cooking spray, then arrange the broccoli in a single layer on the pan.
  • Roast in the oven for 15-20 minutes until crisp-tender.
  • Sprinkle with freshly grated Parmesan cheese when served, if desired.
Adapted from: Amateur Gourmet
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All of the veggies were delicious!  I tried Penzey's Chicago Steak Seasoning on the carrots and potatoes which was really good.  We often make foil packets of veggies when we're camping, so I like the idea of being able to bring just one seasoning blend along with us.



Roasted Red Potatoes & Carrots
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 4 carrots, cut into chunks
  • 3 red potatoes, cut into chunks
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
Instructions
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 9x13 pan with heavy-duty foil and spray with cooking spray.
  • Scrub potatoes and peel carrots, then chop into roasting-size pieces.
  • Place potatoes and carrots in a large ziplock bag and add the remaining ingredients. Shake well.
  • Arrange vegetables in a single layer in the roasting pan.
  • Bake for 35 minutes in pre-heated oven.
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May 05, 2011

Cinco de Mayo

Chris and I enjoyed a wonderful Cinco de Mayo dinner this evening!  For an appetizer, we started with margaritas, and chips with black bean salsa.  I followed the International Bartender Association's recipe for our first margarita, using 3oz tequila, 2 oz triple sec, and 1 oz fresh lime juice.

The recipe actually calls for cointreau, not triple sec, but until we win the lottery, triple sec will do :)  We did opt for 1800 tequila in lieu of Mr. Cuervo, however that's only because a $5 rebate was offered.  The recipe is classic, and it's especially smooth with 1800.



I highly recommend all of the recipes we had tonight.  Here are printer-friendly versions...
Black Bean Salsa
Mexican Tortilla Pizzas
Margaritas
Agave Margaritas

I hope everyone had a wondeful time celebrating Cinco de Mayo!  After two margaritas, I'm ready for bed :)

May 02, 2011

Cookies for Kids' Cancer Bake Sale

I've just signed up to bake cookies for the Cookies for Kids' Cancer Bake Sale.  If you live in the Milwaukee area, please stop by the Best Place Tavern on Saturday, May 21 between 1pm and 4pm.

Best Place At The Historic Pabst Brewery
901 W. Juneau Ave.
Milwaukee, WI

The event will feature delicious baked goods made by local food bloggers, bakers, and celebrity chefs, with silent auction baskets featuring items donated by local area businesses.

All proceeds will go to support Cookies for Kids' Cancer, a not-for-profit organization committed to raising funds to support research for new and improved therapies for pediatric cancers.

More info: www.mkefoodies.com
Facebook invite: http://on.fb.me/gQWLAo
Donation page: http://cookiesforkidscancer.kintera.org/mkefoodies
Cookies for Kids’ Cancer: www.cookiesforkidscancer.org

I need to bake at least 3 dozen cookies (or other baked good), so please leave a comment below with the type of baked good you'd like to buy if you were attending a bake sale because I need ideas of what to make, thanks!

May 01, 2011

Banana Split

With May comes the desire for summer treats.  Granted Chris and I shared this banana split on the couch tonight with me under a blanket, but the warm weather will come eventually. 

For our shared split, I added:
1 banana
5 strawberries
2 pineapple rings (canned)
Hershey's chocolate syrup
4 scoops vanilla ice cream

While we were eating, he told me that his mom used to serve banana splits in banana split boats, and then told me I should buy some.  Just one more thing for my wishlist :)

Roasted Beet Salad

One of the very first recipes I made with CSA vegetables last summer was roasted beet salad and it's an awesome salad.  I made it for the second time tonight; this time with walnuts and feta cheese.  I had a bit of trouble with the beets tonight, and I'm not sure why.  Last time they cooked in about half an hour, and the skins slipped right off.  This time it was closer to an hour, and I had to hack away at them with a paring knife to get the skins off.