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?

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Greek Hummus Dip

Calling all football fans!  Ok, fine, even if you don't like football but are just a fan of munchies you're welcome too!  Throughout September we'll be bringing you recipes that are perfect for tailgating outside of Camp Randall Stadium or watching the Green Bay Packers play on a Sunday afternoon from the comfort of your couch. (Go ahead and insert your own favorite football team if you must.)  These munchies and snacks are the perfect compliment to any football experience!

Truth be told, the first time I made this Greek Hummus Dip was actually for my sister's baby shower.  But don't worry, I know it's football worthy because during said baby shower my dad and brother were downstairs in the man cave watching football and they kept coming upstairs to steal food, with this dip being one of their main targets.

I'm halfway convinced that my dad mainly enjoys dips because they give him an excuse to eat a whole bunch of chips.  His go-to dip is some sort of melted Velveeta concoction, which might be tasty, but when I sit down to enjoy some munchies I know that I usually end up enjoying a few too many so it's better to go with something a little easier on the waistline.

This Greek Hummus Dip is a great healthier alternative.  The base layer of hummus is packed with protein which is then topped with a variety of fresh veggies, dill, olives and my favorite cheese, feta!  Pita chips or veggies are my preferred dipping receptacles.  I like to think of this as the Mediterranean version of taco dip because it has all the same elements, the end result is just a different flavor.

I chose to use Sabra Roasted Pine Nut as my flavor of hummus because I don't like the hummus overpowering the fresh flavor of the toppings, but feel free to use whatever flavor you'd like.  I like using diced red bell pepper as a topping because of the color it adds but green would work as well.  Kalamata olives are seriously one of my favorite things, but if you have green or black olives on hand, go ahead and use those instead.  This is a very easy recipe to accommodate to your tastes or what ingredients you already have on hand.


  • 16 oz hummus, your choice of flavor
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, diced
  • 1/4 cup feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 tablespoon dill
  1. In a serving dish, evenly spread a layer of hummus.
  2. Sprinkle cucumber, red bell pepper, kalamata olives, feta cheese and dill over hummus so it is evenly dispersed and all hummus is covered.
  3. Enjoy with your favorite choice of scooping device, like pita chips or vegetables.
Two Years Ago: Green Olive Red Noodles

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Brittany's Sunday Brunch

To end summer with a bang, my fiancé, friends and I drove all the way down to Houston, TX to see the Badgers take on the LSU Tigers. Although the outcome wasn't what we wanted, the trip was still a blast. 

However, if you asked me to do it again I'd say no. I would much rather fly. The 20 hour, not my style. But the hardest part about the trip was leaving this guy.

This is Bear, our one-ish year old Bernese Mountain dog. He was in good hands at Grandma and Grandpa's but oh boy was the reunion a mutual happy, snuggly time once we got home.

It seemed as soon as the trip was over, the weather became a very comfortable low 70's and the first day of school came. It was like a fall switch turned on. I'm not quite ready for fall but I got out our decorations (not Halloween, that would take it too far) to help get me in the new season mood. I still may not be ready for fall quite yet but I'd have to say fall flavors and recipes are my absolute favorite! Pumpkin, apple, cinnamon, yum! Football favorites like chili, beer-boiled brats, and pulled pork! I just can't get enough of fall food!

Here are some fall recipes that I will definitely be making in the upcoming weeks, because they're that good:
Here is my short list of fall recipes that I'm dying (well not dying but drooling over) to try:

Well maybe once I start making these recipes, I'll finally get into the mode of fall. Have a great Sunday!


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Butterscotch, Chocolate Chip, Pretzel Cookies

I made these salty, sweet, crunchy, chocolaty cookies for my birthday! I am that person who makes their own birthday treats or dinner because that is what I love doing.

I brought them to share at work, but they were not necessary! My sweet co-worker brought in a Chocolate Shoppe ice cream cake and serenaded me while I worked the patio. It was embarrassing and sweet. The cake was amazing! AMAZING! Yum.

No fear though I shared these with friends after work and they got rave reviews. Because who doesn't love salty and sweet? It is the only way to go.

When I made these I didn't break up the pretzels before adding them to the batter like I write in the instructions. When I make compost cookies its fun to find whole pretzels in your cookie, having little pockets of pretzel pieces works better I think for these cookies though. You get a little pretzel in every bite this way.

If you didn't have pretzels on hand you could totally try adding potato chips instead! Anything that is  salty and crunchy.

You could easily use mini chocolate chips or all chocolate chips instead of butterscotch pieces. I had butterscotch pieces to use up and I like them together with chocolate so it just made sense.

Adding a little pretzel on top is a cute little way to let people know what is in your cookie. It is not necessary, but pretty dang cute I think. I bet you have all these ingredients in your cupboard and these are a fun and easy treat for you and your friends.


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup butterscotch chips
1/2 cup salted pretzels, broken up into medium pieces


Place a rack in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar. Cream until butter is pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Beat in egg and vanilla extract for one more minute. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and beat on low until almost just combined. Add the chocolate and butterscotch chips and pretzel pieces until just combined.

Scoop dough by the heaping tablespoonful onto the prepared baking sheet. Optional: place a whole pretzel on top of each cookie, pressing it in just slightly. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes or until the edges and tops are golden. Remove from the oven, allow to rest on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.

Monday, September 1, 2014

April's Sunday Brunch

It is a Monday brunch kind of day because it kind of is like a Sunday. It has been another busy past few weeks and especially this past week, with my birthday and preparing for the start of my final year of graduate school.

The other week the boyfriend and I went down to Milwaukee for the state fair and to visit some of his friends. There were cream puffs, corn and other delicious treats consumed. The cute goats and other farm creatures can't be forgotten either.

On another weekend his parents took us to the Renaissance Faire in Bristol. It was a really fun and interesting experience. We saw a glass blowing demonstration, jousting and fire whips. Yes, a man dancing around with whips all aflame.

After a long warm day at the fair, he then had the pleasure of taking me to Ikea to get all the necessary things to make my new apartment liveable. Lucky guy.

I've always wanted to try canning and I know Kelsey has been itching to try it too. I gave pickles a go a couple weeks ago and tried them this past week. They turned out well for my first go at it. My boyfriend and I also made a batch of refrigerator pickles too.

The 7 jars of pickles we made need a bit of tweaking, but next year I hope to be sharing some pickle recipes with you all.

I moved again. I said I would never do it again until I graduated, but then a along came the most loveable cat EVER. That is right, I moved my whole life down the street and got out of my lease all for my cat.

On the bright side I got to spend a few nights at my parents and enjoy some home cooked food and a beautiful view that you just can't get in a downtown apartment.

My awesome friend, Hannah, and I went to the Dumpling Haus at Hilldale Mall. It was amazing. We these dumplings with meat and broth, soup in a dumpling. There was also a delicious soupy, beefy, noodle bowls.

Love me some Asian noodles and dumplings. Oh my goodness, dumplings.  She knows a lot about her Asian cuisine and is actually moving away to Germany and China for the next two years. I see a vacation in my future.

Two days after getting moved into my new apartment, I got started on making a ice cream terrine. There were a few bumps in the road, like the gas not being onto my stove. Cooking in a new kitchen for the first time is tricky.

I walked myself in circles a lot, forgetting where pots, pans and bowls new homes were in the cupboards, but I completed my masterpiece!

 My boyfriends birthday is six days before mine, aka this was his birthday present. The layers went like this from top to bottom: strawberry buttermilk, vanilla and brown butter almond brittle, with strawberry jam. Between each layer was cake and jam.

He loves strawberries and I thought this was more original than a gooey chocolate caramel terrine.A recipe for making an ice cream terrine will be on the blog soon!

More of this cake was enjoyed for my birthday the following week along with a trip to Lombardino's. Love that place. We had the calamari to start, because it is probably the best in town. Seriously.

For my main course I had pasta of course. The seafood pasta with saffron, shrimp and mussels was perfectly simple and elegant.

This weekend was also busy with the Taste of Madison and getting ready for school. Did anyone else go to the Taste of Madison this weekend? What did you get and love?



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