Wednesday, December 23, 2009

fresco fives

fresco is a great Food Fight restaurant that I've posted about before. It's on the top floor of the Madison MoCA and has a great view, especially when the surrounding rooftops are snowy like they were last weekend. We have been meaning for some time to catch fresco's $5 late-night menu and now we've been there two weekends in a row.

fresh pear martini

pomegranate-ginger champagne cocktail

midnight breakfast sandwich: shaved ham, poached egg, gruyere, parmesan mornay sauce, and microgreens on a croissant

fresco "sexy fries" with ketchup and chipotle mayo

pumpkin bread pudding with maple-nut ice cream

The "5ives" run Monday-Thursday 9-11 and Friday-Saturday 10-12. The atmosphere can be dressy or casual and it's not been overly busy either time we've been there. Everything that we have ordered has been great. Nothing is particularly sexy about the "sexy fries", but they are tasty. I really enjoyed the bread pudding though I usually am not crazy about bread puddings. Not shown are the creme brulee or the buttermilk beignets, but both are excellent. The breakfast sandwich is hands down a favorite--I would order it every time. fresco is a great value for late-night food (that I would eat any time of day if I could).

Thursday, December 10, 2009

did you just say bacon?

It seems that Matt and I have practically lived off of bacon lately. In October, we bought 5 pounds of bacon from one of our favorite farmer's market meat vendors. After having their surprisingly smoky, thick, and fatty bacon, any other bacon is somewhat unsatisfying.

Here are a couple of recipes we've made lately. I didn't feel like typing them tonight, so you have the links.

pan roasted fingerling potatoes with bacon and crispy sage

This potato dish was very tasty, made with sage leftover from Thanksgiving dinner and the last local fingerling potatoes of the season. On the sandwich, a sweet and tangy caramelized onion thyme jam.

chocolate chip pecan bacon cookies

The cookies were a really nice sweet/salty combination. You might not know that bacon was the salty element--it had a texture somewhat like toffee. Matt used the thin cookie recipe, though I'm sure the thick ones would be great as well. I'd like to try some of the other recipes at the NPR site too.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


I'm enjoying my first snow day at home for this school year. We have several inches of snow and more on the way. It's a sunny and pleasant day to be inside and cozy.

our backyard

It's lucky that I picked up a warm new skirt this weekend from Good Style Shop. It's a handmade 1950's wool circle skirt in red, blue-green, and brown, perfect for wintry weather. I also love this double-breasted cardigan as it winterizes many of my more summery dresses. I'm not sure what it is about this outfit that made want to stand with my hips pushed forward.

cardigan - H&M
top - Urban Outfitters

skirt & shoes - Good Style
necklace - thrifted

tights - Target

monroe street

In the past couple of months, we've tried a couple of great restaurants on Monroe Street in Madison: Brasserie V and Pizza Brutta.

The meal at Brasserie V was for the anniversary of six years together. The restaurant is Belgian-style, with an extensive beer list and a warm, casual atmosphere. The menu offers more pricey seasonal entrees and more affordable sandwiches and salads.

Belgian salad: frisee and grilled endive, egg, bacon, almonds, and apple cider vinaigrette

my entree: maple & beer brased pork belly on polenta with crispy fried fennel

Matt's entree: steak frites in cabernet pan sauce with sauteed greens & fries

The pork belly was unique and incredibly rich. The sweet maple sauce nicely complemented the creamy polenta and tender, fatty pork. Matt's steak was tender and juicy and we enjoyed the peppery fries with two kinds of aioli.

At Pizza Brutta, you order your pizza at the front counter, take your seat, and receive the traditional wood-fired pizza Napoletana in less than 5 minutes. The crust is softer than other pizzas we've had of the same style, but that doesn't detract from its appeal. Pizza Brutta is dedicated to including local and organic ingredients on the menu and there are many other flavor combinations on the menu that I am eager to try.

the diavola: basil, pepper flakes, spiced salami, pepperocini

Saturday, December 5, 2009

leftovers (still)

pea & potato cakes

I love to make these pancakes when I have leftover mashed potatoes. They're not pretty, but they're always delicious. I have made this several times, and not yet gotten them quite right. Take the advice in the note at the bottom: adjust the recipe as needed to make the consistency sticky and somewhat thick. If the mixture is too wet and runny, the cakes will fall apart. But don't be afraid! They're quick and worth the effort.

Pea & Potato Cakes

3/4 c fresh or frozen peas
4 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced (or 2-4 green onions, sliced)
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cups cooked mashed potatoes
1 cup cheddar cheese (about 4 oz)
2 tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp sald
1/4 tsp black pepper

In a small saucepan, bring 1 inch of water to a boil over high hear. Add peas and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain, put in a medium bowl, and cool slightly. (If using frozen peas, just set out to thaw.)

Wipe the saucepan clean and heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook 4 minutes, or until soft. Add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes. Place in a large bowl and cool slightly.

Add the peas, potatoes, cheese, flour, salt, and pepper to the bowl. Stir until well-blended. Shape into 8 round cakes.

Heat 1 1/2 tbsp of the remaining olive oil in the same skillet over medium heat. Add 4 cakes and cook for 8 minutes (I let them cook as long as it takes to get a good sear on the one side. They stay together better that way.) Transfer the cakes to a plate to keep warm and repeat with the remaining 4 cakes. Serve with mesclun salad.

Note: If your leftovers are made with butter or milk, omit the cheese and add a little more flour to bind them. Always test a small cake first for consistency.

from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool

Friday, December 4, 2009

more leftovers

turkey blt soup

I used up some of our bountiful turkey supply and some leftover potatoes to make this tasty soup. Enjoy!

olive oil for drizzling
6 slices bacon, chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
3 small celery ribs finely chopped
2 small to medium carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt & pepper
3 medium starchy potatoes
2 quarts chicken stock
1 14-oz. can diced tomatoes or 1 pt. grape tomatoes, halved
handful flat-leaf parsley, chopped
1-2 cups shredded turkey (optional)

Heat a medium soup pot or deep-sided skillet over medium heat. To the hot pan add a drizzle of olive oil and the bacon. Cook the bacon until brown and reserve. Drain off all but 2 tbsp. of the remaining fat and add the chopped celery and carrots. Cut the leeks lengthwise and then into 1/2-inch half moons. Place the sliced in a colander and run them under cold water, separating the layers to wash away all the trapped grit. When the leeks are clean, shake off the water and add to the celery and carrots. Stir the veggies together, add the bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper. While the leeks cook until wilted, 3-4 minutes, slice the potatoes.

Cut each potato into thirds crosswise. Stand each third upright and slice it thinly. The pieces will look like raw potato chips.

Add stock to the vegetables and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and add the potatoes, tomatoes, and turkey (if using). Cook for 8-10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender and starting to break up a bit. Add the reserved bacon and parsley and stir adjust the seasonings.

adapted from Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals

Saturday, November 28, 2009


Somehow I've made it more than a month without posting a thing. And I've started the last few posts with apologies like this one. I hope to get back on track!

Anyway, I hosted Thanksgiving at my house this year for the first time. It was truly a team effort with my parents, husband, and brother each helping with an aspect of the meal. My mom made the turkey and several of the sides. My mother-in-law contributed stuffing to our meal as well, even though she was hosting her own dinner at her house.

apple, onion, and celery stuffed turkey

gruyere beer bread

butternut squash coleslaw & sage sausage stuffing

cream cheese filled pumpkin cupcakes

Saturday, October 31, 2009

butternut squash curry with cashews

In an attempt to use the myriad of squashes we've accumulated from our CSA, I made this curried squash (for myself only: Matt wouldn't touch the stuff). It was not nearly spicy enough for me, perhaps because I used whatever mild curry paste I had in the fridge. However, it did turn out quite well when I added a generous forkful of Asian chili garlic paste. Very rich and filling for chilly evenings.

By the way, our CSA has come to an end for this year, bringing with it feelings of sadness but also of relief. The task of keeping up with the produce was a bit daunting. Will I be ready to dive in again next June? Most likely, yes.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Waldorf: turkey burger with arugula, dried cherries, blue cheese, walnuts, and Dijon mustard
orzo with mustard greens, lemon, and parmesan

Here's another selection from the Cheese & Burger Society website. I recommend you listen to the humorous voiceovers that accompany the burger pictures and descriptions. The only alteration to the recipe was to use a turkey patty instead of beef. The flavors worked very well with the milder meat, though I'm sure beef would be fine as well.

Monday, October 26, 2009

highly recommended

We had brunch at Marigold Kitchen (right off the Capitol square in Madison) for a second time a couple weekends ago, and it was just as good as we had remembered. It tends to be extremely busy, so you may end up waiting 30-60 minutes for a table. Stick it out. It's worth it. Also, the congestion may be cleared up a bit due to the restaurant now serving brunch on Sundays in addition to Saturdays.

mine: breakfast sandwich with fried egg, cheddar-spiked boursin cheese, bacon, tomato, and scallions on ciabatta

Matt's: duck confit hash with eggs over medium and a side salad

Both of our entrees were delightful. My sandwich is something we had ordered before and would order again. However, you would have to be in the mood for something quite rich when ordering the hash. Nevertheless, it was delicious. My parents and I had also previously ordered omelets there, which were very nice as well.

Let me forewarn you: the process of ordering can be tricky on your first visit. I appreciated advice that I received in an online review, so I will pass it along to you. Be sure to get in line to order your food first--apparently people get a little testy if you grab a table first. Once you've ordered, they'll give you a number, then call your number to seat you when a table is clear. The place actually has a pleasantly cozy and bustling atmosphere once you've been seated. Give it a try!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

simple fall meal

It seems as if I'll only have two posts this month. Both my teaching and my graduate class have kept me extremely busy as of late. There are days when I don't even get my email checked. But I will make an effort to post more often in the coming month.

Goat Cheese Pizzas with Indian-Spiced Tomatoes and Mustard Greens

Anyway, I recently made these pizzas for our dinner. The Indian-style seasonings were quite subdued (explaining why Matt would actually eat something with the descriptor "Indian" proceeding its name). The sauce was flavorful and hearty and the goat cheese the perfect creamy complement. Think of a play on your traditional margherita-style pizza. Most importantly, it was a creative way to use up the mustard greens from our CSA box (only one more week left--sad!).

The one change that I made to this recipe was to use a store-bought pita instead of making my own flatbreads. If you are willing to make take on the task of making flatbread, you have my respect! I recommend brushing the bottom of the pita with a bit of olive oil before topping and baking it. This gives the crust a nice crisp. Enjoy with a salad!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

vegetarians beware

"The Roadhouse": burger patty with gruyere, onion ring, sauteed onion, bacon, and garlic mayonnaise

Monday, September 21, 2009

eat your veggies

zesty zucchini quesadilla

The zucchini shreds and peppers in these quesadillas become soft and then blend right into the gooey cheese. Whether you enjoy vegetables or try to avoid them, this dish wraps the greens in a very appealing (and tasty!) package.

2 tbsp toasted pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
1 zucchini, shredded
1/2 red or yellow bell pepper, finely chopped (I used green pepper and it worked fine.)
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 c fresh cilantro
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 large tomato, seeded and chopped
juice of one lime (2-4 tbsp)
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp hot-pepper sauce (optional)
4 8-inch tortillas
2 c shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini, bell pepper, onion, garlic, and cumin. Cook for 5 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft. Stir in the cilantro, salt, and black pepper. Set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the tomato, lime juice, chili powder, and hot-pepper sauce, if using.

Spread one-fourth of the zucchini mixture evenly over half of each tortilla. Sprinkle each with 1 1/2 tsp pine nuts and one-fourth of the cheese. Fold the tortillas in half.

Wipe out the skillet and cook the quesadillas over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes, turning once, until the cheese is melted. Cut the quesadillas into wedges and top with a generous amount of the tomato mixture and some plain yogurt/sour cream.
recipe from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool

Sunday, September 20, 2009


This weekend I found time to knock out two things I'd been meaning to do for awhile.

1. Attempt a pin curl in my bangs a la Piksi.
2. Take pictures in front of an old hotel in our town.

The hair still needs a lot more practice.

The picture-taking resulted in being shouted/heckled at from a car--Looooook-ing good!

cardigan, H&M
jeans & sunglasses, Urban Outfitters
shoes, Good Style Shop

Saturday, September 19, 2009

what $40 at the farmer's market will get you

watermelon, apples, mixed baby lettuce, leeks, snap peas, red peppers, whole chicken, eggs, parmesan, sharp cheddar, poblanos, goat cheese

I think this will be a tasty week.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

corn chowder

smoky chipotle-chicken corn chowder

In the search for recipes that will use up the piles of corn that we get every week (not that I'm complaining!), I rediscovered this easy recipe for a really tasty, thick corn chowder. I like to use fresh corn in this while it's so tender, but the frozen kernels work fine too. This would also be a hearty vegetarian option if you used vegetable broth and omitted the chicken. It's a great soup for these days when fall is not quite here, but I am wanting something warm and hearty.

5 tbsp olive oil
1 lg onion, chopped
3 large garlic cloves
1 chipotle chili in adobo, chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped (I always leave this out!)
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
salt and black pepper
20 white or yellow tortilla chips
1 quart chicken stock
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
2 10-oz boxes frozen corn kernels (or kernels cut from 3-4 ears)
limes, sour cream (we use plain yogurt), and cilantro for serving

Preheat a soup pot over medium-high heat with 2 tbsp of the oil. Add the onions, garlic, chipotle, celery (if using), coriander, cumin, and a little salt and pepper. Cook for about 3 minutes or until onions are slightly tender, stirring frequently.

While the onions are cooking, put the chips in a resealable plastic bag and smash them up using a rolling pin. You can use a food processor too, but I rarely want to go to the work of getting that out and cleaning it up. In the end, you need about 1 cup of ground chips, so vary the amount of chips you grind accordingly.

Add the ground chips to the onions, stir to combine, then add chicken stock, bring it up to a bubble, and simmer for 8-10 minutes. Add the chicken and corn and continue to cook it for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (it seems weird, but the chicken will actually cook this way).

If the soup becomes too thick, adjust it by adding a little more stock, and if it is too thin, let it continue to cook and reduce it until it is to your liking. Taste and check for seasing, adjust with a little salt and pepper. Garnish with cilantro, and serve with plain yogurt (sour cream) to cut the heat and lime wedges to squeeze in.

adapted from Rachel Ray's Express Lane Meals

Friday, September 4, 2009

more sweets

It's been a long time since I've posted, but I have been very busy preparing for and getting through my first week of teaching first grade. I thought I'd take a breather and make a post.

I've recently discovered that I can actually handle some amount of baking without inviting catastrophe. Anxious to try out my try out my newly realized skills, last weekend before school started I tried out another recipe for baked goods from Silver Screen Suppers. I made Norwegian ice skater-turned-actress Sonja Henie's Scandinavian cookies. They were so good, they just made me want to visit Scandinavia even more.

Sonja Henie's Scandinavian cookies

Much like the banana shortbread cookies I made earlier this summer, these cookies were buttery, crumbly, and subtly sweet. They will definitely be a repeat recipe. The instructions only specified that I use chopped nuts and jelly, so I chose pecans and homemade raspberry jam, which both turned out to be great choices.

Check out the excellent sugar-free raspberry jam and strawberry preserve recipes that I used this summer.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


I'm very tired today, so I don't have much to say about these except that they are so delicious, moist, and help you get your veggies. Oh--and they look so pretty on a sea-foam-green platter! The recipe is a combination of one from the Penzey's catalog and one from my mother-in-law. We have a couple dozen frozen so we can enjoy them year-round. You can also grate and freeze raw zucchini, and could use that to make these during the winter. Enjoy!

Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes

1/2 cup milk
1/4 tsp. white vinegar
1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 3/4 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
4 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups finely diced or grated zucchini
1 cup chocolate chips
chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine milk and vinegar in a bowl and set aside. Beat butter, oil, and sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, vanilla, and sour milk mixture and mix thoroughly. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, cocoa, and salt. Add dry ingredients to wet mixture and stir by hand. Stir in the zucchini and 1/2 of the chocolate chips.

Place cupcake liners in cupcake pans (or grease a 9x13 pan if you prefer a whole cake). Fill each liner with batter 2/3 of the way. Sprinkle the batter with the rest of the chocolate chips and the nuts (if using). Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out cleanly and the cake springs back to the touch (but avoid the chocolate chips!). Let cool, then remove cupcakes from pan.

Monday, August 24, 2009

day dresses

The past week has brought me some great finds. And with the return of "Mad Men" to AMC in the past few weeks, I'm even more excited when I come across beautiful vintage dresses that would have fit right into the office at Sterling Cooper.

flower & cross-hatch dress, Good Style Shop, $28
tie heels, Good Style Shop
belt, Target
close-up of fabric pattern and button

cotton block dress, Good Style Shop, $20
wedge sandals & locket, thrifted

The second dress has a couple of small tears at the seams that will need to be fixed, but nothing major. I also picked up two cute and very cheap items at garage/estate sales on the way back from the farmer's market Saturday.

scale, 25 cents
says "Weighs 30 Pounds by Ounces"

leaf-patterned vase, 10 cents