May 27, 2012

5-Bean Salad

This recipe is one of my favorites to bring to a summer picnic.  We're heading to Madison today to celebrate Chris' 38th birthday with a picnic and boating.  Although we both love this recipe, it makes a lot, so it's better to make it for a group.


I find that bean salad from the deli or salad bars is hit or miss.  Many times the sugar to vinegar ratio isn't quite right.  It either makes you pucker or it's too sweet.  I think the ratio with this recipe is perfect.


Another reason I like this salad is that you can add almost any type of beans from your cupboard.  Today, I used kidney, wax, lima, green and garbanzo. 






5-Bean Salad
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Ingredients (serves 12)
  • 5 cans (15 oz each) of beans, rinsed and drained (I use kidney, lima, green, wax and garbanzo)
  • 1 cup chopped sweet onion
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 2/3 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
Instructions
  • Mix beans with onion and bell peppers in a large bowl.
  • In a small saucepan, combine vinegar, oil, sugar, herbs and salt. Stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves; do not boil.
  • Pour warm dressing over bean mixture, and marinate for at least 2 hours in the refrigerator before serving.
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May 23, 2012

Strawberry Gelato

Today I used my ice cream maker for the first time this season, and now I cannot stop eating strawberry gelato.  It is so good!  The fact that I used whole milk and heavy cream probably has something to do with it :)

In the photos below, you can see the difference between fresh-from-the-maker gelato and gelato that has been in the freezer for a few hours.  After 8 hours or so, this gelato will become just as hard as traditional ice cream.



So what's the difference between ice cream and gelato?  I remember discussing this with a friend from Italy and he said the English word for gelato is ice cream, which only further confuses things.

Just recently on our pizza bus tour, our guide explained that the churning methods, fat content and serving temperature differ.  Ice cream legally has a minimum of 10 percent fat, while gelato is made with a greater proportion of whole milk to cream, so it contains more like five to seven percent fat.




One of my favorite aspects of homemade ice cream, is just how easy it is to make.  After processing the milk, sugar and strawberries in my food processor, I transferred the mixture to a glass bowl and chilled it overnight.

I love Pampered Chef batter bowls, and they're ideal for making ice cream because they have a pour spout and a lid.  After the mixture has chilled, just pour it into the ice cream maker, flip the switch and 15 minutes later you have delicious gelato.


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 or food processor 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 20, 2012

Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake

I love this time of year, when rhubarb is growing plentifully in my friends' gardens and they're willing to share with me :)  One of these days, I should plant some rhubarb myself.

The recipe I made today comes from the blog White on Rice.  They've called it bars, but I've renamed it because I think it tastes much more like a cake...delicious strawberry-rhubarb cake, that is.


I can't believe it, but until today I had never made homemade whipped cream.  This is going to ruin any credibility I had, but it doesn't taste any different than Cool-Whip to me.

I know some people are passionately against Cool-Whip, including my friend Jacquie who gave me this rhubarb, but I like it :)
  
Strawberry-Rhubarb Crumb Cake
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Ingredients (serves 9)
Streusel
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
Filling
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 lb rhubarb, cut into 1/2" pieces
  • 1/2 lb fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced 1/4" thick
Base
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 1/4 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 3/4 teaspoon vanilla
Topping
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
Instructions
Prep
  • Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9" square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a 2" overhang on two sides. Spray foil with Baker's Joy or grease and flour the pan.
Streusel
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together butter, brown sugar, and salt. Add flour and mix together using a fork to create large crumbs. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Filling
  • In a medium bowl, combine brown sugar and 1/3 cup of flour. Add rhubarb and strawberries, stirring until coated.
Base
  • In a small bowl, stir together 1 cup of flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, add butter and powdered sugar. Beat until light and fluffy, starting on a low speed to avoid flying powdered sugar. Slowly add eggs, vanilla extract, and flour mix, mixing just until incorporated.
Assembly
  • Spread batter in prepared pan, top with strawberry-rhubarb mix, then add streusel topping.
Bake
  • Bake for 50-55 minutes or until golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan, then remove from pan using the overhanging foil tabs.
Topping
  • While the cake bakes, whisk together whipping cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract in a stand mixer until firm peaks form.  Set aside in refrigerator until ready to serve.
Serving
  • Slice cake into 9 or 16 pieces, and top each piece with whipped cream.
Recipe Source: White on Rice
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May 17, 2012

Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Beets

After enjoying a beet salad with warm goat cheese (salade de bettrave) at a local French restaurant (Le Rêve), I was anxious to recreate it at home.  Their menu description of the salad is - roasted beets, warm chevre, toasted walnuts, watercress, balsamic vinaigrette.

I had never fried goat cheese before, so I referenced a couple recipes and found it was quite easy to do.  I'm really happy with how my home version of this salad turned out, and was only disappointed in the fact that I forgot to add toasted walnuts.


This salad came together really quickly because I used pre-cooked baby beets from Trader Joe's.  It seems like I find something new to love each time I shop there.  Until I start receiving beets in my CSA box, I intend to keep buying these handy beet packages.
  
The back of the box says "The beet, a vegetable which usually requires somewhat lengthy (and messy) preparation, is now ready to go and just as healthy and delicious as if you cooked it yourself.  Absolutely nothing has been added to these beets."



  
Warm Goat Cheese Salad with Beets
Prep Time: 5 minutes (20 minutes freezer)
Cook Time: 6 minutes
Ingredients (4 salads)
  • 5oz soft fresh goat cheese (chevre)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 6oz baby spinach
  • 3 beets, cooked and sliced
  • 1/2 cup toasted walnuts
balsamic vinaigrette
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
Instructions
  • In a small bowl, stir together the goat cheese and seasonings. Roll cheese mixture into 3/4" balls, then flatten slightly (bottom of a glass works well) into cheese rounds.
  • Freeze for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile whisk together the balsamic vinaigrette ingredients.
  • Remove from freezer, then roll in egg and coat with panko.
  • Heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add cheese rounds and cook until golden and crisp, about 3 minutes on each side.
  • Prepare four plates with baby spinach and sliced beets. Add toasted walnuts, 3 or 4 cheese rounds to each plate, then drizzle with balsamic vinaigrette.
Recipe adapted from: Epicurious.com
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May 11, 2012

Milwaukee Food Tours - Pizza Bus

Chris and I enjoyed our third tour with Milwaukee Food Tours tonight.  Their pizza bus tour is such a great idea.  We were able to see quite a bit of Milwaukee and sample delicious pizza throughout the city.  Our tour guide, Steve, was awesome and definitely made the tour even more enjoyable!

We started out at the home of Milwaukee pizza, the Caradaro Club on Vliet Street.  It was the thinnest pizza I've ever had and was great.  This first stop was a nice relaxing start to the tour, where we had time to order drinks.  I found it funny that all the men ordered beer, and the women ordered wine.

Our second stop was at Classic Slice North, which had my favorite pizza of the evening.  I've never seen such a big pizza!   To give you perspective, we used standard size pizza pans as our plates and my slice hung over the edge.


Next, we stopped at Dick's Pizza and Pleasure on N Milwaukee St to sample coal-fired pizza.  People seemed to either love or hate the pizza here.  It was very different than any pizza I've ever had.  We were given chocolate shakes here too, which I surprisingly loved (surprised because I dislike chocolate).

The dance club on the second level opens at 10:30pm (there's a cover charge after midnight), and from a quick glance upstairs after we finished our pizza it looks like it'd be a fun area.  You can see Chris pictured below showing off his dance moves :)


After Dicks, we headed to Wauwatosa to one of our favorite restaurants Pizzeria Piccola, which I've been to many times.  It worked out really well that this was our final pizza location because I was absolutely stuffed.  I didn't have any pizza on this stop, but didn't feel like I was missing out because I've had multiples types of pizza there in the past.  Plus, I had to save room for gelato!

The outdoor area, set between two buildings, is my favorite part of dining at Pizzeria Piccola.  The weather in Milwaukee was absolutely gorgeous today so it was great to get the chance to eat outside on this stop. 


Our final stop was at Cold Spoons Gelato on Vliet St.  I didn't even realize there was a place to get gelato in Milwaukee, which is just one of the things I love about doing these food tours.  Chris and I had gelato multiple times during visits to Italy, and the quality of Cold Spoons was very comparable!


Each time I take a Milwaukee Food Tour, I like the city more and more.  The tours are great for visitors, but I also think they're great for Milwaukee area residents because it helps you discover places you might not find on your own.

Milwaukee Food Tours - #mkefoodie​hunt

If you haven't heard, Milwaukee Food Tours has been hosting a citywide foodie scavenger hunt this week in celebration of their 5th anniversary and the finale is tomorrow at Milwaukee Cupcake Company.  The first 250 people to stop in between noon and 2pm receive a free mini cupcake (codeword = buttercream).

Also, tomorrow is the drawing for a grand prize consisting of restaurant gift cards valued at over $650!  According to a facebook update this morning, they've given away 12 of the 15 golden tickets for entry into the drawing, so it's not too late!

I received Golden Ticket # 5 and am looking forward to celebrating tomorrow and trying out Milwaukee Cupcake Company for the first time.  The scavenger hunt is such a cool idea, and the golden tickets are such a great reminder of Willy Wonka and one of my favorite childhood books.





Chris and I have attended two tours in the past - the Third Ward Food Tour and the Photo Walk Tour, which were both great.  Tonight, we're doing the Pizza Bus Tour, which I won tickets for by submitting a photo of my mom in a Mother's Day contest.

Here's the photo and the caption I wrote - "I took this photo of my mom last week and it proves why she needs to attend a Milwaukee Food Tour. Her idea of fine dining is Hometown Buffet!"



If you're not familiar, Hometown Buffet is the re-branded name for remodeled Old Country Buffets, or OCB as my husband calls it.  This restaurant is a favorite of my parents and Chris, and one of my least favorites.  I often get out voted when the four of us decide where to dine :(

This morning I told my mom that I won tickets in a contest using a photo of her, and her immediate reply was "shouldn't the tickets be mine then?"  So I have promised to take her on a Milwaukee Food Tour this summer instead.  I think she would love the Wauwatosa Tour and it's definitely one of my favorite areas to dine, so I'm looking forward to doing that tour with her.

May 06, 2012

Cafe One 24 in Brookfield

I've been dining out for lunch fairly often lately, which is great because it gives me the chance to try new restaurants like Cafe One 24 in Brookfield.  It just opened this year and is all about clean eating. 

Their website states "What does our clean eating philosophy mean to you? It’s all about what you won’t get here at Cafe One24: no additives, preservatives, animal fats, unhealthy trans fats, and high caloric, greasy meals. Enjoy a dining experience rich in taste and service, a glass of wine or a microbrew, and feel really good knowing that everything we serve is heart-healthy, as well as delicious."

http://www.cafeone24.com

My co-worker and I both really liked our meals, fish tacos for her and a veggie pita for me.  We were surprised at how nice the restaurant's interior was considering the strip mall facade.  The atmosphere is great!  Our only complaint was the temperature of the restaurant, which was very cool.

The vegetarian options are limited, at least on the lunch menu, however I will definitely be back to Cafe One 24.  Wisconsinites tend to favor huge portions and cheap deals, so I'm fearful this restaurant may not stick around.

May 02, 2012

Breakfast Quinoa

I had never thought to have quinoa for breakfast until I saw Jessica blog about it on How Sweet It Is.  I loved the idea of combining quinoa, coconut milk, vanilla, cinnamon, pecans and a banana.  Probably because it sounds more like dessert than breakfast :)

I was out of bananas and pecans, so I topped my quinoa with strawberries, walnuts and unsweetened coconut instead.  It was very tasty when combined, but I didn't care for the taste of the quinoa cooked in coconut milk on its own.



Then yesterday, Alison posted a breakfast quinoa recipe which I much prefer.  It is simply quinoa prepared with water, just as you would prep it for most recipes.  I also love Alison's idea of preparing the quinoa ahead of time, and then heating individual breakfast servings.

May 01, 2012

Le Rêve Patisserie & Café in Wauwatosa

Last week, Chris and I had a fantastic lunch at Le Rêve, which is in the heart of the Wauwatosa Village, or at least that's how advertising for Wauwatosa describes the location :) 



Chris and I each ordered a half salad and split the homemade pasta.  You can guess which meaty salad he selected of the two listed below :)  I really liked both my beet salad and the ravioli. 


 
The vegetarian options are fairly limited at Le Rêve, however the quality of their food is so superb that it's totally ok with me.  In addition, I like going to restaurants which have numerous options for my seafood and meat-loving husband.

I enjoy dining in Wauwatosa and now have many favorite restaurants in "the heart of the village."  The area is pedestrian-friendly, and also has some nice shops like Oro di Oliva, in addition to great restaurants.  And the best part is that Yo Mama! is nearby for dessert.

Le Rêve Patisserie & Café
Bartolotta's Pizzeria Piccola
Cafe Hollander
Firefly Urban Bar and Grill (open for dinner only)