Showing posts with label lemon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label lemon. Show all posts

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Crispy Parmesan Chickpeas

As a part of my 2018 goals, I've been trying to find healthy snacks to eat at times of hunger. Rather than keeping chips and cookies in the house, my go to snacks have been whole, unprocessed foods. Marathon training requires me to fuel my body with nutrients and vitamins, and snacks from the center aisle of the grocery store just don't cut it.

Recently I tried these crispy chickpeas and found them even more satisfying than any bag of potato chips! They are prepared quickly on the stove top and topped with parmesan, oregano and lemon rind. The combination of salt and citrus was surprisingly good and complemented the natural flavors of the chickpeas perfectly.

The next time you are feeling those late night hunger pains, don't reach for a crinkly bag of chips or a tube of cookies. Keep a can of chickpeas in your pantry and you'll always have a healthy and tasty treat at the ready!


One Year Ago: Cookie Dough Egg Truffles
Two Years Ago: Salted Toffee with Toasted Almonds
Three Years Ago: Raspberry & Cheesecake Mousse Entremet
Four Years Ago: Portuguese Bread
Five Years Ago: Chicken Florentine Pasta
Six Years Ago: Peach Macarons
Seven Years Ago: Chocolate Buttercream Truffles

Monday, May 30, 2016

Raspberry-Lemon Soda Floats

With the unofficial start of summer here, it's time to celebrate all things ice cream! All this week we will be enjoying ice cream-based recipes to help keep you cool all summer.

Today we start with a classic summertime recipe - the ice cream float. I remember drinking many floats during my summer vacations. I think they consisted of cherry Crush poured over vanilla Perry's Ice Cream. For ice cream week 2016, I decided to amp up my ice cream float with a homemade soda and a new Perry's flavor.

The ice cream featured in my raspberry-lemon soda floats is called Lemon Chillo. It's a lemon ice cream with cookie swirls. If you don't have access to Perry's Ice Cream (i.e. you live outside of the WNY area) you can go ahead and use a lemon ice cream or sorbet.

The raspberry soda comes together really quickly too. The only ingredients you need are raspberries and sugar! I carbonated my soda with a siphon, but you can use bottled, plain seltzer water if you haven't bought a siphon yet!

What are you waiting for? Stop making boring ice cream floats. Mix up your flavors and toss chocolate ice cream into cream soda. Pour coconut seltzer over pineapple ice cream. Don't limit yourself to just plain vanilla! (And let me know what unique flavor combinations you come up with!)

Disclaimer - As a member of Perry's Ice Cream Inside Scoopers team, I received the new summer ice cream flavors to test out. I've been enjoying Perry's Ice Cream since I was a kid and I'm so happy to be able to support a locally owned and produced (and delicious) product. Other than free ice cream, I have not received any compensation for this post. All opinions are my own and I totally ate all of the ice cream they sent me. All by myself.

One Year Ago: French Toast Ice Cream Crepes
Two Years Ago: Quiche with Sweet Peppers & Sausage
Three Years ago: Funfetti Mallomars
Four Years Ago: Tarragon Chicken & Pesto Potatoes
Five Years Ago: French Baguettes

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Raspberry-Lemonade Jellies

I was working with this recipe a few weeks ago when I was trying to make jelly beans. While the jelly beans didn't work out very well (total fail actually), this recipe was a complete winner!

The original recipe was a plain lemonade recipe, but I've been meaning to try out more of the candy oils that I bought from LorAnn Oils. If you want to go more natural, you can leave out the raspberry candy oil and use just the lemon juice to flavor the candies.

This is actually the second batch of gummies that I made. I tried coloring the first batch with two different kinds of food coloring. Rather than resulting in a pretty pink color, the food coloring pooled up and streaked through the liquid candy mixture. Both liquid and powdered food coloring did absolutely nothing. The moral of the first batch? Don't try to color these candies, it just won't work.

The flavor of these gummies is out of this world! The raspberry candy oil adds the right amount of sweetness to a very tart lemon base. This recipe would probably also work really well with a bunch of different fruit juices. I'm thinking that a watermelon candy would be amazing for the summer!

What kind of gummy candy would you like to see on WITK? This recipe was so quick and easy, I can see making it time and time again.

One Year Ago: I didn't blog at all in May or June last year! Insane!
Two Years Ago: Roquefort Potatoes
Three Years Ago: Thai Chicken Salad
Four Years Ago: 3 Musketeers Bars

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Raspberry & Cheesecake Mousse Entremet

Recently, we had a "Bake Off" at work. In reality, it was just a day where everyone brought in homemade goodies and ate way too much sugar. There were no winners and no losers, just a whole lot of sugar. Well, maybe the diets were the losers of the day. I'm pretty sure that I didn't have lunch that day.

Rather than baking a cake or a batch of cookies, I decided to go big and prepare an entremet. I was dreaming of a light and bright dessert that tasted like spring. The joconde sponge cake came together quickly and holds a citrusy layer of lemon cheesecake mousse and the lightest raspberry mousse ever.

A small serving of this dessert was enough to satisfy my sweet tooth. It only lasts in the fridge for a day, as the cake absorbs the moisture from the mousse. I reccommend making this cake over the course of two days.  Day 1 - prepare the sponge cake, cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge for the second day. Day 2 - Cut sponge cake, make cheesecake mousse, make raspberry mousse, fill cake.

I know it looks like a lot of work, but it's totally worth the effort! It's got great wow factor for a dinner with friends, or trying to win a bake off!

One Year Ago: Whole Wheat Pasta with Cabbage & Leeks
Two Years Ago: Chicken Florentine with Pasta
Three Years Ago: Honey roasted Root Vegetables
Four Years Ago: Gorgonzola Risotto

Monday, December 2, 2013

Cherry-Lemonade Marshmallows

Sometimes it's fun to give and receive handmade gifts and nothing is more fun to make and give than marshmallows! I've made a long list of different varieties here at WITK, including peppermint, blueberry and birthday cake. These marshmallows are a little different because they contain no corn syrup!

That's right, these marshmallows are actually made using chemistry! The main ingredients for these fluffy pillows are sugar, water and cream of tartar.  Cream of tartar is actually the mild acid - potassium bitartrate. By adding this acid to the sugar solution and introducing heat, the cream of tartar actually catalyzes the breakdown of the sugar (sucrose) molecules into its components - glucose and fructose.  Do you know what is in corn syrup? It's glucose and fructose! We just made our own corn syrup, in situ! (thought I would throw in a little more sciencey verbage for you there.)

So if you aren't a fan of using corn syrup, you should give this recipe a try! The combination of cherry and lemon makes these more of a summer flavor than a winter one, but who doesn't want to be reminded of those warmer days? Whip up a huge batch of these and hand them out to your friends this holiday season! You can even use organically grown sugar and organic cream of tartar (I'm thinking it's collected from organically grown grapes?) and make organic marshmallows!

One Year Ago: Apricot-garlic Pork Tenderloin and Potatoes and Fennel
Two Years Ago: Coconut Brownies
Three Years Ago: Salted Caramel & Chocolate Crostata

Cherry-Lemonade Marshmallows
Adapted from Sweet Confections

These marshmallows came out a little airier and stickier than my usual recipe. This makes a lot of marshmallow, the recipe is easily halved if you don't want two full pans of marshmallows!

For the Lemon Layer
1/4 cup cold water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1 cup water
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon lemon zest

For the Cherry Layer
3/4 cup pureed cherries
3 tablespoons powdered gelatin
1 cup water
3 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt

For the marshmallow coating
2 cups cornstarch
1 cup powdered sugar

Lightly coat two 9x13-inch pans with cooking spray. Gently wipe out the excess with a paper towel.

In a small bowl, whisk together cold water, lemon juice and powdered gelatin. Set next to the stove and allow to bloom.  In a 4-quart pot, combine water, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Clip on candy thermometer and cook until sugar dissolves and temperature reaches 250ºF.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Add bloomed gelatin and whisk until dissolved.

Pour marshmallow syrup into the bowl of your stand mixer.  Whip with the whisk attachment on high for about 10 minutes.  Add lemon zest and whip for another minute, or until batter is shiny, fluffy and almost completely cool.  Pour into the prepared pans, half in each pan.

Clean out all your equipment and make cherry marshmallow layer!

In a small bowl, whisk together pureed cherries and powdered gelatin. Set next to the stove and allow gelatin to bloom.  In a 4-quart pot, combine water, sugar, cream of tartar and salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat and clip on your candy thermometer. Boil until the sugar dissolves and the temperature reaches 250ºF.  Remove from the heat and let cool for 5 minutes.  Add gelatin and whisk until dissolved.

Pour marshmallow syrup into the bowl of your stand mixer and whip on high for 10-12 minutes, until shiny, fluffy and almost cooled.  Add some red food coloring if you want a darker color. Pour cherry marshmallow batter on top of the lemon layer.  Let marshmallow sit for 4 hours to solidify.

Mix Cornstarch and powdered sugar and place in a large bowl.  Set a mesh sieve over a bowl and get a storage container ready.  Dust your countertop with some of the cornstarch mixture and remove the marshmallow slab from the pan. Dust the top and sides with the cornstarch mixture. Using either a pizza cutter or a chefs knife, cut marshmallow into 1-inch strips. Cut the strips into 1-inch cubes.  Toss the cubes into the bowl of cornstarch and powdered sugar.  Toss to coat.  Transfer marshmallows to the mesh sieve and shake off excess powder.  Transfer to the storage container.

Marshmallows will keep for 2 weeks in an air-tight container.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Bother? - Homemade Jam

Back in the early eighties, my mom tried her hand at making jams and jellies.  Unfortunately my dad dubbed the products "Not like my mom's jams."  The canning materials went into the basement where they gathered dust for the next twenty-five years, until I went poking around.  Which is why last year, I inherited a large canning pot and three boxes of vintage Ball mason jars. 

I have fuzzy memories of my grandmothers basement.  It was dark, dusty and scary for an eight-year old.  It was full from front to back with old furniture, boxes of Christmas decorations and musty vintage clothing.  One corner also held a make-shift shelving unit, built into the stud of the walls, that was filled from floor to ceiling with dusty mason jars.  From what I remember, they were all filled with peaches.  I have no idea why.  My grandmothers house was in Upstate New York, where there are a dearth of peach trees.  If she had jars of jam in her basement, they looked like peaches to my young, frightened of the dark, eyes.

This weeks challenge was to channel my jam-making grandmother, using my moms vintage canning supplies and churn out modern preserves.  There are so many varieties of jams, jellies and preserves available in the grocery store and at the farmers market, I didn't want to make a plain, single fruit jam.  Why make plain strawberry jam when I can buy fresh, locally made strawberry jam at the farmers market right around the corner from my house?

There are a few reasons why you could make all of your own jam.  1. Using fresh, in season, organic fruits gives the most flavorful product possible.  2. Jam-making and canning is a simple process.  3. Make a batch of homemade jam - you have presents for everyone!

For my canning-fest, I chose two very different flavor combos.  First - fresh and bright Strawberry-Lemon preserves.  Next - tangy ginger-pear preserves.  Yes, I decided to go with preserves for both of my jams.  Personally, I like a bit of chunky texture to my spreads and therefore I'm not really a jelly fan.  I also didn't want to go with any tricky recipes that required added pectin from apples or the baking aisle. Maybe I'll give jelly a go once we finish these jars of jam!

Results - the strawberry-lemon jam was bright and fresh.  The recipe was super simple to follow and the jam came together very quickly.  This was exceptional on my morning English muffin and I will have no problem finishing the two jars that I made.  The ginger-pear preserves took a bit longer to make because the pears were very juicy.  Once complete, this jam made a striking change in a traditional peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

When it comes to jams, jellies and preserves I have two suggestions - Head to the farmers market or "Pick your own" farm and stock up on local, in season produce.  And, when making your own jams, try something a little different, you can get strawberry jam anywhere.

One Year Ago: Peanut Butter and Chocolate Ice Cream

Important!  When it comes to canning, you want to be sure to follow canning rules to ensure a safe product.  To sterilize your jar and lids - Bring a large pot of water to a boil, it will probably take between 15-30 minutes for your water to boil.  Get it ready in advance.  Add your jars to the pot and boil them for 10 minutes.  Remove with tongs and pour out the water.  Let jars cool on the counter top on a kitchen towel.  Place lids in a heat-proof container and pour a few ladles of boiling water over them.  Try not to touch the inside of the lids with your fingers.

Once the jars are full, return them to the water bath and process for the required amount of time.  Remove them from the water bath and set them on a kitchen towel.  Let the jars sit at room temperature for 12 hours.  You should hear the jar lids pop closed after a few minutes.  If the lids haven't sealed in an hour, put those jars in the fridge.

Strawberry-Lemon Preserves
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation

2 pints strawberries, hulled and coarsely chopped
2 lemons, washed
1 cup sugar

Cut the ends off of the lemons.  Cut lemons in quarters and remove the seeds.  Slice lemons very thinly, about 1/8-inch thick.  Gently toss strawberries, lemons and sugar in a large bowl.  Cover and put in the fridge overnight.

Prepare 2-3 1/2-pint jars and their lids.  Combine fruit with 1/3 cup water in a large saucepan with high sides.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Pour fruit into a colander and collect the liquids in a bowl below.

Return liquids to the pan and bring to a boil.  Cook for 15 minutes until the liquids are reduced to a syrup.  Return fruit to the pan and bring to a simmer.  Stir frequently and cook for about 20-25 minutes.  The strawberries should hold their shape, but be shiny and glossy.

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle hot water over the lids.  Add preserves to the jars.  Wipe the lip of the jars clean with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on collars.  The lids should just be finger-tightened.  Process in the water bath for 5 minutes with the lid on the water bath.  Remove jars from the bath and let sit on a kitchen towel.  Do not disturb for 12 hours.

You can store the jam in the pantry.  Store opened jars in the fridge and eat within a few weeks.

Ginger-Pear Preserves
Adapted from Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving

6 pears (choose your favorite type), peeled, cored and chopped
Zest of 3 limes
Juice of 3 limes
2 1/3 cups sugar
1 tbsp grated gingerroot

Prepare 3-4 1/2-pint jars in a water bath.  Place 3 spoons in the freezer.

In a large, non-reactive, saucepan, combine pears, lime zest, lime juice, sugar and ginger.  Bring to a boil over medium heat.  Stir frequently and cook for 15 minutes. 

Test the gel - Take one of your frozen spoons and scoop up some of the liquid from the pan.  If the liquid drips off in small drops, the gel is not ready.  Cook for another 5 minutes, stirring constantly and test again.  If the liquid falls off the spoon in a sheet, it it ready to can. 

Remove jars from the water bath and ladle jar into the jars.  Wipe off the lip of the jars with a wet paper towel.  Place lids on the jars and screw on the collars.  Process jars in the water bath for 10 minutes the the bath lid on.  Remove the lid and let boil for 5 more minutes.  Remove jars from the bath and place on a kitchen towel.  After 1 hour, check to see if the lids have sealed (the tops should not pop when pressed down).   If any jars have not sealed, place them in the fridge immediately.  Do not disturb the sealed jars for 12 hours. 

Sealed jars can be stored in the pantry.  Opened jars should be stored in the fridge.  Try this with peanut butter for a new take on your classic PB&J!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Lemon and Honey Chicken

It's been just over a month with my shiny new braces and I thought I would update you on how it's going!  Here are some answers to the most popular questions that I have been getting...

Shiny braces?  First, I should say that they aren't shiny at all.  My braces are clear.  They aren't the invisalign, retainer-style braces.  The brackets are actually made of a dense, clear ceramic.  It takes people a few minutes to realize that I actually have a full set of braces on my teeth.  From a few feet away they are completely unnoticeable, it isn't until you are talking face-to-face that you finally see them.  The only bit of metal that you see is the arch wire that connects the brackets together.  I'm very happy with the look of them, I actually kind of like them! 

How does it feel?  Like I told you before, the first few days that the braces were on I was acutely aware of each and every one of my teeth.  It was a strange feeling, but that eventually subsided.  I was really concerned about the pain that the braces would inflict, mostly because of all of the stories my coworkers were telling me.  It seems that 80% of the people that I work with had orthodontia work in the past.  From their tales of pain and woe I was bracing myself (ha!) for the pain and stocking up on Tylenol  It really hasn't been that bad.

The first few days, my mouth was tender and I ate a lot of soup and sipped many smoothies (and lost a few pounds).  Now I feel a whole lot better and even ate those tasty chicken wings last week.  I generally steer away from foods that I consider "hard to eat" (such as sandwiches) or "hard to clean-up" (like anything with seeds!).  Occasionally I'll have one tooth or another that is sore, but I know that means something is working and it's worth it.

What about the dreaded monthly tightening?  I was really concerned about the tightening.  I was picturing the orthodontist with pliers, wrenches and other medieval torture devices, tightening the wires and brackets in my mouth.  Let me tell you that I was nothing like that.  In fact I was in and out of the office in five minutes.  After a quick check of my progress, the orthodontist removed the old bands (the ones that hold the arch wire to the bracket) and replaced them with new ones.  Done, braces tightened.  I was pleasantly surprised.

Have I noticed a difference yet?  Yes!  I have been told that as an adult with braces, I'll be much more aware of the changes happening in my mouth.  This must be because I am used to my teeth and bite, any change will be obvious to me.  It's so true!  Each day my bite feels a little different or I can notice that a tooth isn't in the same place it was before.  Even my crazy tooth (some call it a snaggle tooth!) has begun to line up with the rest of my teeth.  I can see my new smile taking shape, only 17 more months to go!

If you are an adult considering getting braces, you should totally do it!  Join me in my adventure, it will be worth it!  Just buy yourself a good blender first.  Not only because you'll want the occasional easy to eat breakfast, but because smoothies are delicious!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Why Bother? 2012 - Yogurt

The dairy section of my local grocery store contains at least a hundred different varieties of yogurt.  I'm thinking that this is not unique to my corner of the world.  I'll bet that your local store has a similarly large selection of yogurts.  From fat free to full fat, organic and chemical-rich, flavors varying from strawberry to chocolate to key lime.  With this endless sampling of yogurts it was a big question to answer this week, why make your own yogurt?  I can give you not one, but three reasons.

1. It's so cheap!  That's right, making your own yogurt with save you money.  This is especially true if you want organic yogurt.  Let's do the breakdown.  (All prices are taken from my local Peapod site, prices will vary by region)

1/2 gallon of organic milk - $3.69
1 single serve plain organic yogurt - $0.99
1 single serve plain organic Greek yogurt - $1.99

From my experience, a half gallon of milk will yield approximately six servings of Greek yogurt and 8 servings of regular yogurt.  If you decide to make the entire half gallon of milk into Greek yogurt, you save $8.25! 

If you decide to go the non-organic route...

1 gallon 2% milk - $3.69
1 serving plain yogurt - $0.50 (on sale this week!)
1 serving plain Greek yogurt - $1.25

Servings from 1 gallon of milk - 16 regular yogurts & 12 Greek yogurts
Savings - $4.31 (regular), $11.31 (Greek)

Put that money in your piggy bank!

2. It's so easy!  If you have a food thermometer, this is a breeze to do.  If you are without thermometer, do not worry.  You can still do this.  The hands on time for preparing this yogurt was so minimal, I was able to do several other things at the same time.  If you can put milk in a pot, the transfer it to a jar, you can make yogurt. 

If you own any of the following - an oven, a towel & a pot, a yogurt maker or a heating pad - you can make yogurt.

If you have a container of yogurt in your fridge, you can start making yogurt right now.

3. It's so delicious!  I was a little skeptical at first, thinking that my yogurt would come out all funky and I would be wasting my time.  However, once I popped open the jar of my freshly made yogurt, I was a skeptic no more.  I dipped my spoon in and tasted the fresh yogurt and active cultures and was pleased at the yogurty flavor.  More intense than most store-bought varieties, you can't get fresher than this.

The flavors options are only as limited as your imagination.  Keep it simple and drizzle on honey, sprinkle with walnuts and cinnamon.  Make it fresh and puree seasonal fruit for a topping.  Take it over the top and blend it with a little sugar and cream cheese. 

There we are, three wonderful reasons to start making your own yogurt!  I have been enjoying fresh Greek yogurt all week with my breakfast and I couldn't be happier.  Would I do it again?  I already have. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chicken Francais & Honey-Roasted Root Vegetables

I just finished our shutterfly scrapbook from our trip to Thailand.  That means only one thing, it's time for another vacation!  This is how it usually works out, although not all the time.  We went to Saint Kitts in 2009 and I still haven't finished putting the photos in the album.  I blame myself.  I should have done one of those fancy shutterfly bound books, but I got prints.  I was somehow thinking I had lots of time on my hands and I could scrapbook.  Those photos are still sitting, unbound, inside of the book I plan on putting them into.

Generally, boyfriend and I are pretty terrible at pre-planning our vacations.  We booked out flight to Thailand, exactly one month before we left.  Last year, we planned out cross-Europe adventure a mere ten days before heading to England.  I've been on several "surprise" vacations that I had the evening to pack for.  Our trip to Costa Rica was so close, I did one of the worst jobs packing in my entire life. 

This time is different, I took charge and booked our spring vacation two whole months ahead of time.  In the weeks since, I've bought a new bathing suit, stocked up on sunscreen and looked at excursions.  At the end of April, we're heading to Puerto Rico and setting sail on a week long cruise!  The only problem now, it's so far away!  I have to wait six more weeks before going on vacation?  There is something to be said about last minute planning!

Friday, March 2, 2012

My Macaron Method!

Wednesday I left you with the question of whether I could reproduce my workshop macarons at home.  Today we have the answer.  Yes, I can! 

Sure, it was a little more difficult to do this on my own.  I was wishing that I hadn't gotten rid of my hand mixer while I was whisking the meringue.  All on my lonesome, my arm got pretty tired!  I had to keep switching between left and right arms.  I also learned that I am not ambidextrous when it comes to whisking things.  My left arm is terribly uncoordinated and not at all good at whipping egg whites.  I'll have to give it a bit more practice.

Boyfriend helped to style this particular photograph

The batter was flowing like lava, I think.  I'm still a fan of the disappearing line method for testing the batter consistency.  The batter piped well, forming nice round shells.  The shells dried up in thirty minutes and when I put them in the oven I was hoping for the best.  With my fingers crossed, I set the timer for seven minutes and walked away. 

When I came back to turn the pans I was thrilled to see round tops and pretty, frilled feet!  I can do this at home!  While this isn't simplest recipe, requiring you to heat the meringue over a water bath, I choose to go with a consistent recipe rather than an easy, unreliable one.

Haven't found a favorite macaron recipe yet?  Give this one a try!  I know that this is my go to recipe from now on.  Thank you DessertTruck!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I have to say, sometimes I am disappointed by a recipe. It holds all that promise, sitting there on the glossy pages of a new cookbook. I have all the ingredients in the fridge and pantry. It seems as though everything is coming together perfectly. Then that first taste, disappointment. That is what happened with these muffins. Look at the pictures, they aren’t even that spectacular to look at. Plain, simple, boring, lemon poppy seed muffins.

The lemon flavor was too mild, the poppy seeds gave nothing to enhance the muffins. I was so sad. Although I did eat each and every one of them. It’s amazing what a little butter can do to spruce up a less than successful muffin recipe. So if you are in the mood for kinda boring muffins, here’s a recipe. I might suggest sprinkling the tops with sugar before baking. You know the kind. The HUGE sugar crystals? What are they called? Anyways, that might pump up these muffins from their current BORING status. So sad. Sad sad muffins.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Blackberry Jam

If you have never been to Madison, Wisconsin, plan a trip. It might sound like a strange place to visit, but there is so much more so be seen than you can imagine. Originally, I was concerned that I was moving to the middle of nowhere. Cowtown, Wisconsin. Would I find things to do? Were there places to go, things to see? What about food? Are there good restaurants in the Midwest?

The answer to all of these questions is yes. While Madison is technically in the middle of nowhere, surrounded on all sides by miles and miles of fields, it is not nowhere. The city breathes life. If you can’t find something to do in Madison, then you aren’t trying hard enough. I had my own personal favorites while living in the Mad-city (it is a city, second largest one in the state of Wisconsin!) and you should plan your trip around what you want to do.

In the springtime head to the Olbrich botanical gardens to see the flowers. Wander the acres, stop in the herb garden to smell the smells, take a moment at the Thai pavilion or warm up in the conservatory. If you come during the summer, be sure to hit the Art Fair on the Square or the Taste of Madison for a late summer trip. Fall is an excellent time to take a bike ride through the fall leaves, on the miles of bike path that criss cross the city. Don’t come in winter, it’s just too cold. No, really, stay away. Go to Florida.

If you find yourself there anytime between April and November, then head to the Capitol. Saturdays from 6am to 2pm you will find the Dane County Farmers Market. It is a mecca for all things fresh and delicious. You can get fresh fruits and vegetables (organic or not), breads, pastries, honey, cheese and so much more. One of my favorite stalls is (was?) located on Main street. A little white tent filled with jewel-colored jars of jam, jelly and preserves. Sparkling in the sun, these jams are all tantalizing, I longed to fill my pantry with all of them.

I don’t live in Madison anymore, but I still have a farmers market. While not nearly as fantastic as the DCFM, I did manage to find some tasty-looking blackberries this past weekend. More berries than I could possibly eat in one week, but just enough to preserve for the whole year. These berries would be jam and my bright summer days would last me through the dark days of the winter.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Peach and Blueberry Buckle

We are coming to those last precious days of summer. August is winding down and fall is right around the corner. As a kid, I always loved this time of year. As we have previously discussed, I’m a bit of a nerd. By the last week of August I was ready to go back to school. I loved getting my school supply shopping list in the mail. I would beg and plead my mom to go to the store and pick everything up right now!

We would go to Vix (in the days before Target in western New York) and I would look thru the aisles at all the new school supplies. Even though I already had two sets of colored pencils, they simply would not do. It was a new year, I needed new pencils! Same goes for folders and pens, binders and erasers. A new year meant a new beginning.

I was always a fairly simple shopper though. I was never one to get bright cartooned folders or Trapper Keepers (c’mon, you remember). I wanted plain colored binders and a matching folder to go along with it. I had that kind of OCD. The organizational OCD. I would write my name on all my new supplies and lay them out, ready for school to start.

In these last few days of August, there is something else to revel in. Stone fruits are at their best right now. I’m talking peaches, nectarines, plums. Those fruits that, when eaten by hand, make an enormous mess of everything in a five foot radius. I find myself in the grocery store or at the farmers market, fondling and smelling the peaches. Keep your peaches away from me, I just might accost them.

When I find some good ones I have a hard time deciding what to do with them. Do I eat them fresh? Do I slice them up and put them over breakfast? How about simmered on the stovetop with cinnamon and nutmeg and eaten warm with ice cream? No, today we make a buckle. There are so many different types of fruit cobbles that I have a slim understanding of how they differ from each other. I think it easiest to define each, as I make them. So for today…

Fruit Buckle – A single layer of cake, generally with berries added to the batter, topped with streusel. Also known as a crumble.

Now that you know what you are baking, head out to the store (or the farmers market) and get yourself some peaches. And some blueberries. There, now we’re ready to bake.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Soy Lemon Broccoli

There are quite a few things that my father and I have in common. We have the same brown eyes (although I often long for my mother’s green eyes), we are both huge nerds (c’mon, PhD chemist here and chemical engineer there, there’s no denying it) and we both excel at calculus. Maybe that last one falls in with the second one… There is one thing that we share that no one else in my family does, a love of broccoli. My mother and brother won’t go near the stuff.

Broccoli (aka little trees) has long been a dinnertime staple in the Wilde kitchen. It just was never made in very large bunches. Growing up, we would get the packages of frozen broccoli from the giant and boil it up for dinner. The little trees would be passed around the table, mostly missing one half of the table. Mom, being a grown-up, was allowed to pass. Brother, being only a year older than me, was forced to put a few trees on his plate (where they would be pushed around for a while before being tossed in the garbage). My Dad and I would generously pile those little trees on our plates.

Personally, I was a big fan of the “leafy” part. I thought they had more flavor and were also way more interesting. The trunk of the tree was less appetizing, but I ate it nonetheless. Broccoli would make the rounds in the vegetable cycle. Corn, peas, green beans, broccoli, anything that the giant had frozen and sent to Wegmans, they all made their appearance in the vegetable cycle. Broccoli was a favorite in the line-up, I could have done without the frozen peas, they were gross.

It wasn’t until years later, living on my own, that I discovered the virtues of fresh broccoli. Buying a crown of broccoli and cooking it up yielded a far more flavorful result than frozen broccoli. Adding things to the broccoli, rather than just eating it plain? Genius.

This dish takes a whole of ten minutes to prepare. Make it when you have no idea what else to put on your plate; you will be very happy with yourself. It is the perfect combination of salty soy sauce and bright lemon. Try not to pair it with an overwhelming main course. Something simple like a roasted chicken or a plain steak would do the trick.

Soy Lemon Broccoli

2 cups broccoli florets

1 tbsp olive oil

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 tbsp soy sauce

1. Heat olive oil in sauté pan to medium heat

2. Add garlic and cook for 2 minutes

3. Add broccoli and 3 tbsp water. Cover and allow to cook for 5 minutes

4. Add lemon juice and soy sauce and cook uncovered for another 2-3 minutes.

5. If you find that you added too much water, but your broccoli is done, remove the broccoli and allow sauce to reduce and thicken, then pour over broccoli.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken Piccata

Nothing says summer to me more than lemonade. If you were to offer me a glass of lemonade in the winter I would scoff at you. Lemonade? In the winter? Why would I possibly want that? Winter is a time for hot drinks and stews, although I could go for a Starbucks apple cider anytime of the year (the baristas think I’m weird for wanting hot apple cider in July). Summertime is time to drink lemonade and limeade. All those tart fruits speak summer to me, although I’m not quite sure why.

Lemonade is one of the least thirst-quenching drinks around. This is not the beverage you should reach for after a long run or while moving your friends couch up three flights of stairs. You should also not have it with salt and vinegar potato chips while sitting in the sun, then go to the gym and teach a class, bad idea.

It is a drink that you must enjoy while doing absolutely nothing. Sitting by a pool and enjoying lemonade is even better. This way, you can have a sip of lemonade, and then jump in the pool to refresh yourself. Summers of my childhood were filled with tall glasses of lemonade, condensation pooling around the base of the glass, letting you know that it was cool and delicious.

Now, in the last hot days of the summer, I find myself wanting citrus. Drinking pitchers of lemonade aside, there are other options for enjoying a refreshing meal. Namely, Chicken Piccata. This dish is lemony and buttery. It can be salty too, if you remember to add the capers, which I did not… The first time I made this dish I fell in love. It’s unbelievably simple to put together (it takes about 15-20 minutes to complete) and is best served simple, alongside a fresh salad.

Enjoy the last warm breaths of summer. Go to the store and get yourself some lemons, get yourself a whole bag. Then make some lemonade, and chicken piccata. Just don’t have them together, or you’ll be drinking glasses and glasses of water for the remainder of the day.

Chicken Piccata
Adapted from: Everyday Italian by Giada DiLaurentis

1 lb chicken breast – either butterflied, or pounded to ½ inch thickness

½ tsp kosher salt

½ tsp black pepper

All-purpose flour

4 tbsp butter

2 tbsp olive oil

½ cup chicken broth

1/3 cup lemon juice

¼ cup capers

1. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper

2. Dredge chicken in flour, shake off excess

3. In sauté pan, melt 2 tbsp butter with olive oil over medium-high heat

4. Add chicken and cook just until browned, about 3 minutes per side

5. Add broth and lemon juice and bring to a boil

6. Return chicken to the pan and cook for another 5 minutes, until completely cooked

7. Transfer chicken to a platter and add remaining butter to sauté pan (add capers, if you remembered to buy them)

8. Pour sauce over the chicken and enjoy!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Crunchy French Toast

Ever since I moved away for grad school my parents missed me. It’s because I’m so awesome. They decided that they simply had to come and visit. Although I’m not entirely sure that it was just me that they wanted to come and visit, perhaps it was the draw of seeing Wisconsin? The mystery of a state known for Dairy products and beer? Personally I was leaning toward the idea that they were coming to see their favorite (read: only) daughter, but I could be wrong. Wisconsin is not just home to cheese with a love of all things brewed. There is a museum, devoted to one man’s love, of mustard.

Our first trip to Madison, Wisconsin was the conclusion of one very long road trip. Well, I suppose it was the conclusion of the trip for me, they still had to make the return trip (winner!). Fourteen hours in two cars, covering six states, our arrival in Wisconsin occurred around ten o’clock at night. The bed at the Marriott was certainly welcoming and, most importantly, stationary.

The next morning we were greeted with a beautiful summer day. If you have never spent a summer in the Midwest, please take a moment to imagine… The sun is blazing down, the temperature is a warm 80 degrees and the humidity made it feel like you were swimming. August in the Midwest is both wonderful and terrible at the same time. Today, it would be the latter, because today, we were moving furniture.

Nothing can take away from the fact that this was to be a BIG day. Moving into my first apartment, by myself, in a state that I had previously only spent two days. It was just going to be a HOT big day, as temperatures were to slowly creep into the low nineties. Luckily I was only moving into a first floor apartment (just a half-flight of stairs to climb) and my dad and I have enormous muscles. 300-lb desk? Sure, one arm. Boxes full of books? Just pile those on top of this couch and I’ll handle it. We’re huge, really.

After taking a mere four hours to move everything from the U-haul to the fabulous apartment, we took a moment to admire our work (read: collapse on the nearest piece of furniture). Taking another moment to drink a few gallons of water and eat a whole chicken (gotta feed those muscles) we were finally ready to enjoy Madison. Wait, perhaps a nap first…

Many more Madison stories are in your future, but the first thing you must do when getting to Madison, it have some ice cream at the terrace (if it’s past noon, you can have a beer). Nothing is more fantastic after a long days work than getting a bowl of UW ice cream and enjoying the breeze off lake Mendota. The boats sail by, the ducks play in the water and the sun sparkles across the lake. Eat your ice cream, get a little sunburn and relax.

The following morning, after our huge muscles screamed at us for a bit, we decided to hit the restaurant and refuel. This was the beginning of a wonderful tradition, Crunchy French Toast. Every Marriott across the country serves this awesome recipe. Listed as a “healthy option,” one can trick themselves into eating the whole plate (do not do this, eat half, save some for tomorrow). On their subsequent returns to both Madison, and Colorado, my parents and I enjoyed many, many plates of Crunch French Toast.

This is a take on the Marriott’s recipe for Crunchy French Toast. While I know someone who has the exact recipe, they were unwilling to divulge the hotels secrets. I’ll have to try harder next time. The original dish is served with bananas and strawberries, while I decided to serve it with a lemon-raspberry sauce. While these are a good attempt, I will still find myself at the Marriott, eating plates and plates of their Crunchy French Toast.

Crunchy French Toast

4 slices of whole-grain bread approximately 1-inch thick
1 cup Corn Flakes (crushed)
1 cup Egg Beaters
1 tsp vanilla
1 pint raspberries
1 lemon
¼ cup water
¼ cup sugar
1 tsp cornstarch

In a small saucepan combine raspberries, water and sugar. Heat over medium-low until raspberries begin to break down. Add zest of half a lemon and cornstarch. Turn up heat to medium-high and heat until thickens. Add 1 tbsp lemon juice and heat until desired thickness.

Mix Egg Beaters and vanilla in a shallow dish. Coat bread with egg mixture, allowing to sink in for a few seconds. Coat bread in Corn flakes, pressing down so they stick. Place coated bread on griddle and weigh down with a grill press (or Panini press or weighted pie pan). Cook over medium heat for 3-5 minutes per side (or until crunchy and golden-brown).

Drizzle 2 tbsp raspberry lemon sauce over French toast. Sprinkle with some powdered sugar if the raspberry lemon sauce is a bit too tart for you! Enjoy!
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