Saturday, November 27, 2010

Raspberry Strippers

FOUND IT: My sister-in-law directed me to this recipe at

These cookies might look complicated, but they're quick and easy. Also, the ingredient list is pretty easy: I was able to make them with stuff I had on hand.

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 5 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup raspberry preserves (I used peach. Almost anything would probably work.)
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp fresh lemon juice (the juice of one small lemon)
  • 1/4 tsp almond or vanilla extract
Beat sugar and butter until well combined. Add the vanilla and egg white and mix again, until well combined.

In another bowl whisk flour, cornstarch, baking powder and salt together. Combine with the wet ingredients and mix until stiff dough forms.

Lightly flour a work surface and your hands, and turn the dough out onto the surface. Form the dough into three 12 inch long logs, and place them on a greased cookie sheet. Form a 1/2 inch indentation with your finger or a wooden spoon the full length of the logs, then fill the indentation with the raspberry preserves.

Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until lightly browned. While they're still warm, combine the powdered sugar, lemon juice and vanilla/almond extract, and drizzle it over the logs. Slice the logs into 1 inch slices immediately, but let them cool for about 10 minutes before you separate them.

Spinach Artichoke Mac and Cheese

FOUND IT: At the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's mac and cheese site.
MODIFIED IT: Only to change the blend of cheeses a bit.

There's really no such thing as a healthy mac and cheese. By nature, it's a combination of carbs and fat. That's why it's delicious. With that said, this one isn't as unhealthy as most of the others.

  • 8 ounces uncooked macaroni
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 10 ounce package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 14 ounce can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese (about 12-16 ounces)*
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
* - I only had half a pound of Fontina, so I supplemented it with some Muenster and some sharp cheddar.

Boil pasta as usual. Drain and set aside.

While the pasta is boiling, whisk together the milk, flour, salt and pepper. Once that's combined, stir in the pasta, spinach, artichokes and cheese. Stir until blended, then pour the mixture into a 9x13 baking dish. Combine the parmesan and bread crumbs, and sprinkle them on top. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.

Bake at 350 for 40-45 minutes.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sesame Glazed Brussels Sprouts with Chicken

FOUND IT: In Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. If the fact that this book got me to try (and like) Brussels sprouts doesn't convince you to buy it, I don't know what will.

My wife loves to make me try new things and give me guilt if I don't want to. She's told me countless times she doesn't like Brussels sprouts (and I'd never had them), so I set off to find a way to make them as something like revenge.

I don't think either of us expected to find a Brussels sprouts dish we'd make again, but that's what happened. This one was excellent.

  • 3 tbsp sesame seeds (I didn't have these on hand so I skipped them)
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces.
  • 2 tbsp minced ginger (I bought it in a tube.)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lb Brussels sprouts, washed and with stems removed
  • 1/2 cup chicken stock (or other stock, water or white wine)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Soy sauce and lemon wedges, for serving*
* - I forgot to put these on the table and neither of us missed them.

Toast the sesame seeds in a large, deep skillet (choose a skillet you can cover) over medium-low heat until they begin to brown but don't burn - 5-10 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.

Add the oil to the skillet and turn it up to medium-high. Add the chicken once it's hot, sprinkle in some salt and pepper and brown it for roughly 5 minutes. Add the ginger and continue to cook for a minute or so, then move this mixture to a plate and set it aside.

Add the sesame oil, Brussels sprouts and stock to the pan, sprinkle it with salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover and lower the heat so the mixture bubbles slightly but does not boil. Cook until the sprouts are tender - roughly 10 minutes. Add more liquid if needed.

Once the sprouts are tender, uncover the pan and return the chicken to it. Raise the heat to boil off any excess liquid and cook until the sprouts and chicken are glazed and browned. Don't stir too often - let the mixture cook for a couple of minutes, then give it a quick stir, then wait again. Stir in the sesame seeds once it's done and serve.

Potato-Leek Gratin

FOUND IT: In Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook.

We're all familiar with the usual way to make potatoes good: Slather them in butter, cheese, or something else loaded with extra fat. This recipe is simple and pretty good despite the fact that it uses a relatively low amount of those extras.

  • 1 1/2 lbs potatoes, thinly sliced (I used Yukon Golds)
  • 1 lb leeks, trimmed, rinsed well and thinly sliced (you could probably use onions if you don't have leeks)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • Dried thyme
  • 1 cup bread crumbs
  • 2 tbsp melted butter
Put the potatoes and leeks in a 9x13 baking dish and toss them with the oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and thyme, then cover with foil and bake at 375 for 30-40 minutes, until the potatoes are just starting to get tender.

Remove from the oven at this point and give them a quick stir. Then, combine the melted butter and bread crumbs, and crumble this mixture over the top. Press everything down a bit and return to the oven without foil at 425 for 15-20 more minutes, or until the bread crumbs have browned.

Pasta with Roasted Eggplant and Meat Sauce

FOUND IT: I recently purchased a copy of Mark Bittman's Food Matters Cookbook. So far I've made four recipes out of it: Three so good I'm adding them to this site to make sure I use them again, and a fourth so bad I almost ripped the page out of the book so I wouldn't accidentally make it again.

MODIFIED IT: Only slightly to adjust to ingredients I had on hand. Modifications are noted in the ingredients.

  • 1 1/2 lbs eggplant, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 8 ounces ground beef or lamb (I had venison on hand, so that's what I used)
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp roughly chopped garlic (I used minced)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (or 1 tbsp fresh)
  • 3 tbsp tomato paste*
  • 6 ripe Roma tomatoes, chopped (or canned and drained)
  • 1/2 cup red wine or water
  • 8 ounces pasta
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
* - I had one of those small cans of tomato paste. 3 tbsp was about half of it, but I used the whole thing since I hate wasting it.

Combine the eggplant, ground meat, onion and garlic in a large roasting pan, drizzling with the olive oil and sprinkling with salt and pepper. Roast at 425 for 40 minutes, stirring once in the middle to continue to break up the meat.

Add the bay leaf, oregano and thyme, then the tomato paste and stir it in. Stir in the tomatoes and wine, then return to the oven for 10-15 minutes more or until the mixture has thickened. Take out the bay leaf.

Cook the pasta, and toss with the sauce. Top with some grated parmesan and enjoy.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Eggplant Calzone

FOUND IT: I saw Guy Fieti make it on Food Network.
MODIFIED IT: To simplify and replace some equipment I don't have.

This is a nice way to hide some eggplant, if you're not a big fan. It creates some extra filling, but there weren't any complaints about that here: I mixed it in with some tortellini and made a pasta bake.

Also, this may seem like a lot of ingredients, but don't be scared off. It's pretty easy, and most of the ingredients are things you might already have in your pantry or can easily find.

  • 1 tube of premade pizza dough*
  • 1/4 lb prosciutto, roughly chopped
  • 4-8 ounces Italian sausage
  • 1 small-medium eggplant, skin-on, cut into 1" or smaller cubes.
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup ricotta
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted**
  • 2 tsp parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp basil leaves, chopped
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp dried rosemary, either leaves or ground
  • 8 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced 1/2 inch thick
* - Yeah, I cheat and use premade pizza dough. I've never had much luck making my own, and mixed results with other options.
** - You can either toast pine nuts in a single layer in a small pan until you can start to smell them, or in a 350 oven for five minutes. Or you can skip them.

In a large saute pan on medium-high heat, crumble and brown the Italian sausage, and add the prosciutto when it's about halfway done. Cook until the sausage is cooked through and the prosciutto is starting to get crispy. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside.

Add the olive oil to the pan, then the eggplant, then some salt and pepper. Saute for roughly 5-6 minutes, then add the garlic and the red pepper flakes. Saute for another minute or two (careful not to burn the garlic), then add the tomatoes, and some more salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer the sauce until all the extra liquid is gone, 6-10 minutes. Add the meat back to the sauce and remove from the heat.

In a small bowl, combine the ricotta, 1 egg, the parmesan, pine nuts, parsley, basil, and some salt and pepper. Gently add this mixture to the sauce.

On a sheet of parchment paper, roll out your pizza dough and make sure the rectangle is fairly even. Sprinkle the rosemary and oregano over the dough, then add the sauce mixture to half of it. Fold the dough over and roll the edges closed. Beat the remaining egg with a tablespoon of water, then brush that onto the outside of the calzone.

Move the parchment paper onto a cookie sheet and bake at 500 for 15-18 minutes, or until golden brown. Let rest for at least five minutes before cutting into it.

Stuffed Pork Tenderloin

FOUND IT: I saw Claire Robinson make it on Food Network.
MODIFIED IT: To simplify and adjust a bit.

This recipe looked great when I saw it the first time, but it took me a couple of attempts to really get it right. This version of the recipe includes modifications I made to simplify and improve.

  • 1 small onion, roughly chopped*
  • 1 garlic clove, roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups mushrooms, roughly chopped
  • 4 ounces italian sausage
  • salt and pepper
  • a splash of whiskey
  • 1/2 cup cornbread, dried and crumbled**
  • 2 tbsp chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 pork tenderloin
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
* - Roughly chopping something that's going to go into a food processor is one of my recipe pet peeves. However, it is important here that the chunks of onion, garlic and mushrooms going into your food processor are roughly the same size.

** - I didn't have cornbread on hand for either attempt. I used a couple of stale biscuits for the first attempt, and cubed sourdough bread the second time. Both worked out well.
In a large pan, crumble and brown your Italian sausage over medium-high heat. While it's cooking, pulse the onion, garlic and mushrooms in a food processor until finely chopped (Do not make them into a paste, like I did the first time). Once the sausage is cooked through, add the onion, garlic and mushroom mixture, salt and pepper and saute until the liquid has evaporated, about 8 minutes.

Once all the liquid has evaporated, remove the mixture to a medium bowl. Reduce the heat and add your whiskey to the pan, scraping with a wooden spoon to deglaze. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cornbread and parsley. Once the cornbread has soaked up all the whiskey, add it to the sausage mixture.

Slice your pork tenderloin the long way, but not all the way through. Open it up and pound it into a thin, flat surface, roughly 1/2 inch or less thick and 6-8 inches wide. Salt and pepper the tenderloin, then paint the upward-facing side with Dijon mustard. Add the stuffing mixture on top of the mustard (you may have some extra). Then, roll the tenderloin and secure the roll, using either kitchen string or toothpicks (three toothpicks is usually enough). Drizzle some olive oil on the roll and sear it on the grill, roughly 5 minutes on each of four sides. After that, remove it to indirect heat, close the grill lid and let it cook 10 more minutes.

Use a meat thermometer to check when it's done (you're looking for 145-150), but be careful when doing so: The stuffing inside will be warmer than the meat, so if your thermometer is in the stuffing it'll read as done too early.

Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from the grill and allow it to cool for at least five minutes before serving. Serve by slicing into medallions.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Tabasco and Asparagus Quinoa

MODIFIED IT: Just to simplify a bit.

I discovered I like quinoa this spring. I guess that's not a huge leap, considering I also like couscous. This recipe calls for chopped asparagus but I've also made it with pea pods, and I'm assuming it'd probably work with any vegetable of a similar shape and texture. I'm planning on trying it with green beans next.

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 25 drops tabasco sauce
  • 3/4 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 lb fresh asparagus, cut into bite size pieces (or pea pods, or green beans, etc)
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 3 cups water
Combine quinoa, water and 1/2 tsp salt in a large pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until you can see little curliques in the quinoa (you'll know what I mean when you see them.).

While the quinoa is cooking, combine the butter, mustard, tabasco sauce and salt in a food processor, and let it run until the mixture is light and fluffy. You might have to stop it to scrape down the sides once or twice.

Cook the vegetables via your favorite method. The original recipe says to boil them for a minute and then shock them with cold water. Steaming would likely work too.

Combine the hot quinoa with the butter and vegetables, and stir until it comes together.

Wisconsin Cherry Muffins

MODIFIED IT: To make it slightly healthier.

I probably should've found this recipe a month earlier, because we're already at the end of cherry season. With that said, if you have some pitted, tart cherries left (or you froze some, like I did), this is a nice use for them.


  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup butter
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup Splenda
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup skim milk
  • 1 cup pitted cherries, chopped (I didn't chop them.)
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a separate bowl, cream the butter, brown sugar and Splenda, then add the egg, then the milk. Combine wet and dry ingredients and stir until combined. Finally, fold in the cherries.

Bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Roasted Cauliflower and Cheese

FOUND IT: This is my creation. It's modified from my beer cheese mac and cheese.

I'm not a big fan of cauliflower but this is one way I'll eat it. If you add enough flavor (and get a good, fresh cauliflower), then it's like a good mac and cheese with cauliflower instead of pasta.

  • 1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite size florets or smaller.
  • 1/2 lb sharp cheddar, shredded
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup beer
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste
Spread the cauliflower in a single layer on a cookie sheet, and drizzle with some olive oil. Sprinkle on garlic powder, salt and pepper and bake at 350 for 20 minutes or so.

Combine the milk, beer, flour, mustard, hot sauce, nutmeg and some salt and pepper in a small-medium saucepan, and whisk together. Once everything is whisked in, add the butter and cook over medium-low heat until the butter melts and the mixture thickens, roughly 3-5 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the cheese, stirring until it melts in.

Combine the cheese sauce and cauliflower in an oven-safe, coverable container, sprinkle more cheese on top if you have any, and bake at 350 for 15 minutes.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Buffalo Chicken Quiche


I liked the concept of the original recipe, but none of the execution. The original called for boiled chicken, which I replaced with a leftover grilled chicken breast from dinner the night before. It also called for celery, which I skipped. I had half a can of black beans left from a dinner earlier in the week, so I tossed them in. And the original recipe's cooking time is way off.

  • 1 premade pie crust
  • 1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed (can be skipped)
  • 1 large or 2 small cooked boneless chicken breasts, chopped
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 2 tbsp buffalo wing sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 oz blue cheese, crumbled
  • 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Press pie crust into a pie pan, poke holes in the bottom with a fork and bake at 400 for ten minutes. Remove from the oven and reset the temp at 350.

Toss the chicken and black beans with the wing sauce and flour, and pour that mixture over the pie crust.

Combine the eggs, milk and salt, and pour over the chicken.

Bake at 350 for 25 minutes. After that time has passed, sprinkle the bread crumbs on top, then sprinkle the cheese on top of that. Return to oven and bake 15 more minutes, or until quiche is set in the middle.

Asparagus Quiche

MODIFIED IT: A fair amount.

I'm on a quiche kick lately and had some asparagus to use up. This must have been ok: Four of us ate all but one slice in one sitting.


Six eggs
1/2 lb fresh asparagus cut in 1 inch pieces (I used closer to 3/4 lb.)
1 cup shredded cheese, divided (recipe called for Swiss, I used cheddar jack)
1 unbaked premade pie crust*
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tbsp onion powder (I substituted Penzey's Fox Point Seasoning)
1/2 tsp salt
Freshly cracked black pepper, to taste

* - I've tried several recipes for making my own pie crust. Homemade pie crust is fine but in the end I've decided it's one of those things that's just not worth the time. A premade pie crust is quick, easy and the difference isn't huge.

Preheat oven to 375, with a cookie sheet in it.

Cook asparagus via your preferred method. (Original recipe called for boiling, but I steamed instead.) Arrange asparagus and half the cheese in the bottom of the pie crust. Combine eggs, milk, sour cream, onion powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl, then pour over asparagus and cheese.

Put the quiche on the cookie sheet and bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes. Then, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top and continue baking until quiche is set in the middle, roughly 5-10 minutes more.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Hot Brats

FOUND IT: My wife's cousin Erik brought it to a party at my house, and it was an immediate hit. He was kind enough to share the recipe.

This is the perfect party food: They're small, so everyone can try one. They've got a great flavor, with just enough spiciness. And they're addictive. The recipe does require you to get started a day ahead, but it's well worth the time.


  • 2 1/2 pounds bratwurst, in casings
  • 1 onion, sliced thin
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cans or bottles of beer
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • Either 1 cup of horseradish mustard or 3/4 cup brown mustard and 1/4 cup creamy horseradish
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 5-8 dashes of hot sauce
Grill brats until browned outside but not cooked all the way through. Allow to cool for 15 minutes or more, then cut into quarters.

Saute the onions (in a soup pot or dutch oven) in the olive oil, then add the beer and the brats. Heat to boiling, then reduce heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Combine the remaining ingredients and add that to the brat mixture. Simmer for another half hour.

Remove from heat, cool and refrigerate overnight.

The next day, reheat the mixture over low heat until warmed through, then transfer to a slow cooker. At this point you can check the flavor and add ingredients to taste. Cook on low for 4 hours.

Brazilian Cheese Bread

FOUND IT: At Simply Recipes

I had seen Brazilian Cheese Bread before (at the farmers' market in Appleton), but never tried making it myself before finding this recipe. The hardest part of the recipe was finding tapioca flour (my local bulk food store had it). Beyond that, this is a simple recipe and the hardest parts can be done well in advance.


  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups tapioca flour
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese (I used pepper jack with good results)
  • 1 tsp salt
Pour all the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. You might have to scrape down the sides a couple of times. At this point, the batter can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Pour the batter into a lightly greased mini-muffin tin, and bake at 400 for 15-20 minutes. They won't really get all that brown, they just puff up like little balloons. They'll be chewy when they're done.

Cornmeal Pancakes

FOUND IT: On the lid of a container of Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt.

These pancakes were made by request, and will likely be requested again. They're light, fluffy and have a great flavor.


  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/3 cup raisins, plumped (I omitted this)
  • 1 1/2 cups Dannon Light & Fit Yogurt, Vanilla or Strawberry*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
* - Normally I don't mention specific brands in my recipes, but in this case I think it might be important. The Light & Fit Yogurt has a more liquidy texture to it that probably helps here...the batter will be thick, so you'll need all the liquid you can get.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt, then stir in raisins (if using). In another bowl, whisk together the yogurt, eggs and oil. Combine the two, stirring until blended.

Heat a skilled or griddle to roughly medium heat, and grease lightly. Scoop pancake batter onto griddle in roughly 1/4 cup increments. Cook roughly 3 minutes on one side, then flip and cook a minute or so on the other.

I served them with maple syrup and fresh strawberries, you can serve them with whatever your heart desires.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Raspberry Clafoutis

FOUND IT: At Stacey Snacks, my new favorite site for finding new recipes to try.

This is a great, easy pastry. Once raspberries are in season, I plan on making this one a lot.


  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp
  • Pinch of salt
  • 3 eggs
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • zest of a lemon
  • 1/4 cup milk + 2 tbsp
  • 1 pint raspberries
  • powdered sugar
Combine flour, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in eggs, butter and lemon zest, whisking until combined. Add milk and whisk until smooth, a minute or two.

Pour into a nine inch pie plate, then distribute raspberries on top. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes, or until it's set in the middle and browning around the edges. It usually takes a little longer than that in my oven - sometimes as much as ten minutes.

Let cool a little, sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.

Vanilla Mousse Cheesecake

FOUND IT: In an ad my wife tore out of a magazine. We think it was Real Simple, but we're not sure.

  • 40 Nilla Wafers, crushed (We used organic lemon cookies instead).
  • 3 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4 8 oz packages cream cheese, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, separated
  • 1 tbsp and 1 tsp vanilla, separated
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tub cool whip
Combine crumbs and butter and press into the bottom of a springform pan.

Beat 3 packages cream cheese, 3/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp vanilla, mixing until well blended. Add eggs one at a time, mixing on low speed until well blended. Pour over crust. Bake at 325 for 50 to 55 minutes or until set. Allow to cool completely in pan.

Beat remaining cream cheese, cool whip and vanilla in a large bowl until blended. Spread over cheesecake.

Refrigerate for four hours before serving. Garnish with berries if desired.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Foodie meme

I'm having a creativity lapse today, so I hope you'll excuse me as I take a moment to see if I can jumpstart it with this food meme I found at A Serving Of Life.

What cooking shows do you watch?

If it's on Food Network I've probably seen it, but the only Food Network show I think is consistently good is Good Eats.

Your must-have kitchen accessory is:
My immersion blender, good knives and silicon spatulas.

What is your go-to ingredient?
Sharp cheddar, pumpkin, hot sauce, Brady St. cheese sprinkle

How many courses should a meal have?
As a somewhat picky eater, I don't really do "courses." I hate being the one sitting around while everyone else eats a salad or soup I'm not interested in. I guess I serve dessert separately, so two courses.

What’s your favorite course?
Disc golf.

What nationality of food do you like the best?
Hmmm...I like mac and cheese, so I guess American?

What’s your favorite meal of the day to prepare?
Dinner is typically the only one where I actually have time to go all out.

Where do you find inspiration when creating a new dish?
TV, magazines, existing recipes that could be a little better, other blogs, restaurant experiences I'm trying to duplicate...

What is your favorite comfort food?
Mac and cheese

Do you ever eat fast food? If so, what?
Does Noodles and Company count? I used to also eat at Quiznos a fair amount, but have been disappointed by the quality the last few times I've been there.

What restaurant do you want to eat at that you haven’t yet?
I'm looking for good barbecue in the Fox Cities.

What’s your favorite dessert?
Red velvet cake. Anything with cream cheese. Boston Cream Pie. Anything chocolatey.

Are there wines or liquors that you cook with?
I hate cooking with wine. I typically attempt to replace it with beer.

How much time do you spend cooking a meal just for yourself?
Very little. If I'm by myself, I'm usually putting in the minimum possible effort, reheating leftovers, making something quick, or eating something my wife doesn't like.

What scent in the kitchen do you love?
Pot roast.

What ingredient(s) do you avoid/dislike?
I will throw away a recipe if I see it uses ketchup. I also don't like green bell peppers.

What’s your secret splurge at the grocery store?
Good cheese. Hard cider. Good bread. Candy.

What’s your favorite midnight snack?
I don't snack much at night. If Laura's having it, I might have some ice cream or popcorn.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Beer Cheese Mac and Cheese

FOUND IT: This one is my own creation - concocted from a combination of a mac and cheese recipe from my mom and my Beer Cheese Soup recipe.

I recently realized somewhat suddenly that I've included a fair number of recipes here, but not my original mac and cheese recipe, the one that started my fascination with homemade mac and cheese. It's also the filling in my Mac and Cheese stuffed meatloaf. And now, it's going to be the 50th recipe on this site. That seems fitting, somehow.


1 lb sharp cheddar, shredded
1 cup milk
1/2 cup beer
6 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons of butter, cut into small chunks
1 tsp dry mustard
1 tablespoon hot sauce
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
salt and pepper
Your favorite pasta - I use Dreamwell's elbows, as they're a little healthier.

Warm the milk and beer over medium heat until they're just threatening to boil. While you're waiting for that to warm up, boil your pasta in a large pot. Once it's tender, drain it and set it aside.

Meanwhile, whisk the flour into the milk mixture, then add all the other ingredients except the cheese. Once the butter melts, stir the mixture until it starts to thicken (if you can drag a silicon spatula across the bottom of the pan and see the bottom before liquid fills in, you're there), then add cheese. Stir until the sauce is thick and all the cheese has melted, then set it aside.

Combine the pasta with the cheese sauce, and enjoy.

Spicy Macaroni and Cheese

FOUND IT: At the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's 30 Days 30 Ways blog.
MODIFIED IT: To replace a couple of ingredients I didn't have.

This recipe isn't as spicy as I expected it to be, although using the Pepper Jack cheese the recipe calls for would almost certainly rectify that problem.

  • 4 cups pasta noodles, such as cavatappi (a 1 lb box should be sufficient)
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • Half a medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup roasted red pepper (jarred or home roasted), finely chopped
  • 2 jalapeño peppers, seeded and finely minced (I made a half recipe but still used 2 jalapenos. For a full one, I'd use more.)
(Instead of attempting to finely chop these three ingredients, I pureed them all in a food processor.)
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces Colby Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Pepper Jack Cheese, shredded
  • 4 ounces Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded (I didn't have the Pepper Jack, so I doubled up on this)
  • Bread crumbs, to taste
Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to the package directions. Drain, rinse with cold water, and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt 1/2 tablespoon butter in a small skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, red pepper and jalapeño pepper, cook, stirring occasionally until fragrant and tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a medium saucepan, melt 4 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat. Once the butter is completely melted, whisk in the flour. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it turns a light golden brown color, 1-2 minutes. Whisk in the milk until well blended. Cook the mixture, whisking or stirring frequently, until it begins to bubble and thicken, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Whisk in cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add the cheeses to the mixture and whisk until completely melted and well incorporated. Remove from heat.

Grease a 2-quart casserole dish. Return the drained pasta to a large pot. Add in the sautéed vegetables and cheese sauce; mix until well blended. Transfer the mixture to the prepared casserole dish. Cover with bread crumbs if desired.

Bake at 375 for 25 minutes, then allow to cool for at least five minutes before serving.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Round Steak Pinwheels

FOUND IT: I think the initial idea came from a 30 Minute Meals episode. I didn't write down a recipe, I just used the concept to create my own spin on it.

We don't eat a lot of steak in my house, for a couple of reasons: it's expensive, and my wife isn't a big fan. I like this recipe, though, and round steak isn't usually terribly expensive, so I make it from time to time.

  • 1 round steak, pounded thin and either quartered or cut into six longish strips, depending on whether you want large or small servings.
  • Fresh spinach (roughly half of the bag of it you can get at the store)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Sliced cheese (pick a favorite here. I've used cheddar, co-jack, swiss, muenster...all work)
  • Salt and pepper (or your favorite steak seasonings)
  • Soy sauce, to taste
In a medium skillet, heat the oil and add the spinach, sauteing until wilted. It won't take long.

Then, lay your steaks out on a work surface, and season as desired. Place half a slice of cheese on the steak, then a layer of spinach. Roll up the steak and secure with a toothpick. Place the finished rollups in an 8x8 baking dish, and add a little soy sauce to them.

Bake at 550 (yes, 550) for 20 minutes or until they've hit your desired level of doneness. Let them rest for a few minutes before cutting into them.

Deli-style Muenster Mac & Cheese

FOUND IT: At the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's 30 Days 30 Ways blog.

I modified this one a fair amount, because I liked the concept but not necessarily their execution of it. If you'd like to see it done a different way, follow the link over to their site.

With that said, my wife really liked the way this turned out, and was especially happy with the muenster and bread crumb topping. This recipe makes a lot, though, so cut it in half if you're only serving two people.

  • Bread crumbs for topping (Follow the link for a recipe to make them - I just used some I had on hand.)
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 pound elbow macaroni
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces (about 2 cups grated) sharp white cheddar
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 1/2 cup gherkin pickles, drained and chopped (I omit this)
  • 8 slices Muenster Cheese

In a large pot of boiling water, cook elbow macaroni until just al dente (about 6 minutes). Do not drain yet, but turn off heat and let pasta sit in the hot water while you prepare the cheese sauce.

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Sprinkle flour over butter and stir continuously with a spoon as the mixture forms a paste and begins to brown a little, roughly 2 minutes. Then add milk a little at a time, stirring with a whisk after each addition. The paste will be lumpy at first, but will smooth and blend eventually.

Once all milk is added, stir in chili powder, salt and ground pepper. Increase heat to medium, and continue stirring until sauce starts to thicken, about 8 minutes*. Reduce heat to low. Add the cheddar and stir until fully melted. Add the mustard and remove the cheese sauce from the heat.

* - I define "starts to thicken" in this case as the point where you can drag a silicon spatula along the bottom of the pan and see the bottom of the pan before the liquid fills in.

Drain the macaroni in a large colander and rinse under hot water to remove extra starch. Drain well and return to pot. Stir hot cheese sauce thoroughly, then pour it over hot macaroni. Toss the pasta to coat evenly. Pour this mixture into a 8x8 square or 9 inch round baking dish. Cover the top with slices of Muenster, then a thin layer of bread crumbs.

Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. If the cheese on top isn't browning at this point, turn on the broiler and finish it off that way. Let it rest for a few minutes to cool, then serve.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Caprese Mac & Cheese

FOUND IT: At the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board's 30 days 30 ways with Mac & Cheese blog.

Here's an interesting take on mac and cheese. It's very un-traditional, but if you choose a good mozzarella the cheese flavor really comes through, and it also has an intriguingly strong lemony flavor.

  • 1 pint grape tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh basil
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 1/2 tsp pepper, divided
  • 1 pound pasta (medium shells are the recommendation)
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 8 ounces Mozzarella Cheese, shredded
  • 1 8-ounce ball Fresh Mozzarella Cheese, sliced
In a baking dish, combine grape tomatoes, olive oil, basil, lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Toss to coat and bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Remove and let stand.

At the same time bring water to boil over high heat in a soup pot (recipe calls for a medium saucepan, I wanted more room); add pasta and cook until tender. Drain, rinse with cold water, and let stand in a separate bowl.

In the same sauce pan, combine milk, butter, shredded Mozzarella Cheese, 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Cook, stirring continually, over low heat until the cheese melts into a thick sauce, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add the drained pasta back into pan and toss to coat.

Pour the pasta and cheese mixture into an 10×14-inch oven-safe dish (I used a nine inch round) and top with baked grape tomatoes. You can use the juice from the bottom of the tomato pan as a marinade for the fresh mozzarella, if desired.

Place the seasoned Fresh Mozzarella on top of the pasta and tomatoes. Broil on high for five minutes or until cheese is melted and browning.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars


My wife needed a dish to pass for a work Super Bowl party, and requested these. I still have a ton of pumpkin in my freezer, so I was more than happy to use a little bit of it for this. The recipe could still use a little tweaking - the filling is a little plain.


1 cup flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
5 tbsp butter, softened
1/2 cup finely chopped pecans (I ran mine through the food processor)
1 (8 oz.) pkg. softened cream cheese (I use the 1/3 less fat version)
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup pumpkin
2 eggs
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg

Combine flour and brown sugar in medium bowl, then add butter to make a crumb mixture. Stir in nuts. Set aside 3/4 cup of this mixture for topping.

Press remaining mixture into bottom of 8 x 8 x 1 1/2 inch basking pan. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes. Put it in the fridge to cool while you make the filling. Don't remove it until you can handle it without burning yourself.

Combine cream cheese, sugar, pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, allspice, vanilla and nutmeg in large mixer bowl. Blend until smooth. Pour over baked crust. Sprinkle with reserved topping. Bake an additional 30-35 minutes. Allow to cool before cutting into bars.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Harvest Loaf

FOUND IT: This is a family recipe, from a book of them given to me as a wedding gift.

This is a good, relatively traditional pumpkin bread recipe. There's a glaze to add at the end if you want it to be more like a cake, but I skipped it.

  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 stick butter (1/2 cup)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 eggs*
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree, canned or homemade
  • 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  • 3/4 cup walnuts, chopped (I skipped them)
* - About halfway through, the recipe calls for eggs. But it doesn't mention how many, and they don't appear on the ingredient list. I guessed 3, and everything worked out. Two would probably make the dough a little too dry, but four might add some needed moisture.

Spray a loaf pan. In a medium bowl, combine flour, soda, salt and spices. In another medium bowl, cream the butter, then gradually add the sugar, then the eggs. Beat well. At this point, I put the mixer away and do the rest by hand.

Add roughly half the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and stir them in. Repeat the process with the pumpkin, then the other half of the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips and 1/2 cup of the walnuts. Spread into your loaf pan, and sprinkle the remaining walnuts on top. Bake at 350 65-75 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in pan for 15 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack.

Once it's cool, you can add the spice glaze if so desired: stir together 1/2 cup powdered sugar, 1/8 tsp nutmeg, 1/8 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tbsp cream, or enough to give it the desired consistency.