Sunday, September 28, 2014

Brittany's Sunday Brunch

Fall is my absolute favorite season! It took me awhile (and a few Pumpkin Spice Lattes) to get into the Fall mode, but now I'm happy that summer has turned to fall. We're still getting some warm days and many of the trees are still a lush green. However, I'm hoping that means this Fall will be nice and slow. Believe me, I'm TOTALLY not ready for winter yet. C'mon, I just got use to it becoming fall.

Since it officially became Fall this past Tuesday, I came up with a list of Fall Things I want to do.
  • Visit an Apple Orchard or Pumpkin Patch. Anyone have any favorites in the Madison area they would suggest?
  • Take a drive out to Wollersheim Winery. One, because I love wine. Two, because I love Wollersheim wine. And three, the county side drive should give us a chance to see colorful landscapes. 
  • Visit the dog park often. Bear, as shown above, can't do much in the summer with his thick, black coat. But now that the weather is much more comfortable for him, we can get his dog park fix in! And the view at Indian Lake is pretty gorgeous!
  • Bake and cook with my favorite Fall flavors. I hope to make a savory pumpkin recipe. I always make pumpkin desserts, I think it's time to try something new. Also, crockpot applesauce is calling my name, it looks so easy!
  • Enjoy our fireplace. We recently moved to a new apartment (well, we really just moved down the hall) and it has a fireplace. I can't wait to cozy up next to it!
What's on your Fall to-do list? I'll be sure to give you an update when I start checking off my list.

Have a great Sunday and Go Pack Go!


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Jalapeño Beer Brat Macaroni and Cheese

To wrap up out football theme, I have some macaroni and cheese with all the quintessential Wisconsin fixings mixed into it. 

I made this at my boyfriend’s house. Big mistake. The most useful thing he had was a grill. Real bachelor kitchen. I should have known. It works for him apparently but it almost caused me a nervous breakdown. Now by no means do I have a ton of fancy pots and pans or equipment, but I do have some. Most of it is hand me downs. I might have overreacted to not having the things I’m used to cooking with. That should not be a surprise to anyone though. Cooking in a new place is stressful, but totally doable and you don’t need anything fancy to make macaroni and cheese from scratch.
The stuff in the blue box or Annie’s macaroni and cheese is wonderful, but you just can’t beat homemade macaroni and cheese. I think it is intimidating for most people, but even a sparsely equipped bachelor pad kitchen has the equipment to make it: medium sized saucepan, large pot to boil noodles and a baking dish.

I grilled the brats, but you could totally throw them in the oven or on the stove top, in a pan. If you grill the brats, don’t be like me and spend 6 minutes futzing around trying to take pictures.  The charcoal grill will get to hot with all that air and then everything will go up in flames and your brats will be split open and be flame cooked in 4 minutes.  Lesson learned.

It is all pretty straightforward. If you have never made a roux (butter and flour), don’t be scared. Keep and eye on it and stir constantly. This is what will thicken your cheese sauce. Once it is a light nutty brown, pour in your beer slowly and then the milk. This avoids clumps. Bring this mixture almost to a boil, which means for me where there are tons of tiny bubbles all around the edge of the pan. Add the cheese. Add the brats and peppers.

You’re going to probably look at this sauce and freak out like I did, thinking it is way to runny and that there is way too much of it. I know there can never be too much cheese, but proportions and balance are key to a solid mac. I know I freaked out, but it came out of the oven perfectly, with just the right amount of spice, which will depend on the heat of your jalapeños. 

It was even better the next day for lunch! I didn’t try it but I bet this would work great to make the day before, refrigerate and reheat in the oven at your friend’s house or before your own football party. Make it for any party really, it is delicious and oh-so very Wisconsin. I promise. 

for topping:
2 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup gruyere or fontina cheese, grated
1 jalapeno, grilled, seeded and chopped

for macaroni & cheese:
1 lb. sharp cheddar cheese, grated
5 ounce Gruyere cheese, grated

1 jalapenos, grilled, seeded, chopped
1 poblano pepper, grilled, seeded, sliced into quarter inch pieces
4 brats, grilled (I used D&G Sausage Shop bacon and jalapeno brats)
1 lb pasta (such as cavatapi, fusulli or macaroni) cooked to al dente
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup amber or pilsner beer
1 cup heavy cream
2 1/2 cups whole milk

Start by heating your grill to medium heat. Place brats, two jalapenos and poblano pepper on the grill. Cook the peppers for 2 to 5 minutes, or until lightly charred. Cook the brats, turning, for 6 to 8 minutes. 

Preheat oven to 400F, with rack in middle. Combine the butter, panko bread crumbs, cheddar, Gruyere and one jalapeno pepper, in a bowl, until well combined. Set aside for later.

Macaroni and Sauce
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Once butter has melted whisk in the flour, continue whisking for 3 minutes, until the mixture is a light golden color and thick, then slowly whisk in the beer and milk.

Increase the heat to medium and bring sauce to a low boil, whisking constantly (this takes about 8 minutes). Reduce heat and simmer for 4 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Stir in cheeses, until smooth. Add in the remaining jalapeno, poblano and brats. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Cook the pasta in boiling water until al dente, 8 to 10 minutes (a few minutes shy of done). Drain pasta in a colander. Combine the noodles and cheese sauce, until evenly coated. Transfer to a 9 x 12 baking dish, sprinkling topping over the pasta evenly.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until topping is golden.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

April's Sunday Brunch

Happy Sunday funday, friends! Its been another fun busy month with lots of food, friends and sports!

Two of my best friends moved to Cali and came back at the beginning of the month to complete Ironman Wisconsin! I'm not usually a very crafty person, but I figured I could channel my inner crafty, if they could complete an Ironman.

They were amazing. This my friend Tim finishing and his wife finished a few hours later. It was amazing. They both had huge smiles on their faces every time we saw them go by on their bike or foot.  No words. Everyone who completes and Ironman is a crazy awesome human.

I'm pretty obsessed with squash blossoms every year. I had my first fried and stuffed blossom in Rome, Italy, with this amazing Italian tour guide. Swoon.

My boyfriend found us a fresh supply near where he does field work so naturally we picked some, stuffed with goat cheese and peppers, and fried them up. Delicious.

Wisconsin recently had a bit of a cold streak, like really cold, almost freezing kind of cold. I wasn't ready for it but what I was ready for was a fire in the fireplace! My kitty is enthralled with it. It is pretty much like the sun is 2 feet away from her. Because all animals, especially cats love to sun bake themselves until they are hot to the touch.

Speaking of cats and my desire to be a crazy cat lady, have you seen this cat video and this one? Cat truth, fear of vac-uum! Cracks me up every time. I could watch these all day long. I might be a crazy cat lady one day.

I popped my Packer game cherry last weekend! Also had myself a delicious cheeseburger and dumpling soup at Kroll's East, another Green Bay institution. It was like a butter burger on steroids. Delicious.

It was so much fun. Packer fans are a one of a kind fan. No body is better than a Packer fan or the Green Bay Packers. Win or lose fans are dedicated to the death.

The first half of the game I thought I must be bad luck for the Pack. Second half and by the end I'm pretty sure they won because I was there because lets be honest they won out of shear shit luck. That luck was me obviously. Just kidding. I'll stop boring you with football talk now.

Have you heard of the horse collar at Lambeau? 22-inch kielbasa smothered in delicious. Kielbasa might be one of my favorite sausages. Ever. My mouth is watering. Who is watching the Packers or other football team today and making some loaded baked potato rounds or greek hummus dip?

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Rounds

Oh boy do I have a great recipe for you today! Our September theme of football munchies is rolling in once again. These potatoes are sure to be the hit on the appetizer table on football Sunday, or my favorite, Saturday! Go Bucky!

These salty, cheesy, no fork needed snack are the perfect pop-able food to serve next game day, I know I will. Funny thing, when I was testing this recipe out, it was just me and Mr. Bear (haven't been acquainted with Bear, check out here or here). No party and actually no game to watch. I ate them while watching Bride Wars. Yeah, not even close to a sport. But they tasted so good, I think I'll have to make them again this weekend.

This recipe is super easy and probably impossible to mess up. It's really up to you to add what and how much of ingredients you want. For me, I doused on the pepper. The recipe didn't actually call for pepper, but it's my other half when it comes to cooking. I just can't leave it off. Also, I realized I have never cooked bacon before. Ever. Seriously, I have always left the bacon cooking to the experts. Well, my expert wasn't around so I had to try it out myself. Little crunchier than I like but it was perfect on top of the potato rounds. So trust me when I say you can't mess up this no-fail potato rounds appetizer!

Adapted from Pip & Ebby

Red potatoes
Green onions
Olive oil
Kosher salt

I didn't actually use specific measurements, it's really up to your personal liking

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. Slice potatoes and place in a large bowl. Add oil and toss to coat entire surface of potato rounds.
3. Line cookie sheet with parchment paper and spread potatoes out in one layer. Sprinkle salt and pepper over potatoes.
4. Bake for 15 minutes, flip and bake for another 15 minutes.
5. While potatoes are baking, cook bacon.
6. Chop green onions and bacon to small pieces.
7. Once potatoes are golden brown, sprinkle cheese, onions and bacon. Bake another 5-10 minutes.
8. Enjoy!

Bon Appétit!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Kelsey's Sunday Brunch

Happy Sunday friends!

Last weekend we went to our first Badger football game of the season with a couple of friends.  The weather was perfect and we had a great time tailgating beforehand (nothing like brats and beer at 10 am).  There's a reason why Madison gets called the best college football town!

We also spent some time babysitting my niece, Emersyn.  Isn't she just the cutest, eve if she does puncture holes in the tomatoes I have ripening on the windowsill?!

Do you guys ever get in an eating rut?  Lately, Nate and I have been feeling like we are in a serious food eating rut.  I don't even want to think about taking another turkey sandwich in my lunch to work and I want to be excited about dinner instead of eating something that just tastes, meh.  Here's a couple of things we're trying to help us get out of the rut, let me know if you have any other suggestions!
  • Work week lunches have been one of the biggest problems.  I came across Cookie and Kate's 16 Recipes that Pack Well for Lunch and something clicked in my mind; I don't need to take a sandwich for lunch.  Soups, salads and leftovers can also work great. 
  • We're going to pick a big, "fancy" salad to make for dinner each week which we can then pack in lunches as well.  First up was Deb's Kale Salad with Apples, Cranberries and Pecans and it was a success!
  • Plan ahead a couple of recipes to make each week, with one of them being a new recipe (at least for the time being.)
I love a good state classification map as much as the next person so check out The Weirdest Eating Patterns of Each U.S. State or this map of the United Sweets of America.  Cheddar cheese and kringle, I'd say Wisconsin is pretty spot on.

Proof that Americans love pumpkin flavored everything.  Did we really even need the proof?  But really, check out this recipe for a healthy pumpkin spice latte so you can get your fix without breaking the bank.

I'm not sure if wedding favors are actually going to end up making it in our wedding budget, but these 5 delicious DIY wedding favors your guests will love are some great ideas.

A couple of weeks ago I picked up a copy of Jessica, from How Sweet It Is, cookbook Seriously Delish from my local bookstore and I seriously love it!  It seems like all my favorite bloggers have a cookbook coming out this fall including The Skinnytaste Cookbook (Sept. 30) by Gina from Skinnytaste, Homemade Decadence (Oct. 14) by Joy from Joy the Baker and Easy Gourmet (already released) by Stephanie from I Am a Food Blog.  Also, I'm totally crushing on America's Test Kitchen's The Make Ahead Cook.  Which leads me to this question, is it too early to start my Christmas list?


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