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Mimosa Sunrise

Today, June 21, is the summer solstice. For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, it is the longest day of the year. What better way to commemorate this day than with a sunrise drink? (No, I don’t mean a drink at sunrise. Unless you are so inclined of course. No judging here!) My first thought was tequila sunrise, but I wanted something different, so I tried a Mimosa. So fun! I’m pretty sure you could drizzle grenadine into any orange juice based drink and make the lovely sunrise effect. What I like about this drink is that it is

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National Martini Day!

Good Morning! June 19 is National Martini Day. So, of course, my decision for what to make was already made for me. A martini, obvi. But which one? The traditional martini is made with gin and vermouth, garnished with olives or a lemon twist. Purists will say to only stir a martini. Some, like James Bond, feel martinis should be shaken not stirred. I for one, do NOT intend to disagree with 007.   What I think is much more fun is the development of martinis with all the other types of liquor available. Since I prefer vodka to gin,

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Cranberry Grapefruit Kiss

Here in Madison, Wisconsin there used to be THE perfect (to me) restaurant. It had something for everyone: think bar food, wonderful salads and appetizers, decent prices, plenty of seating, a casual, friendly crowd, and in the summer a HUGE outdoor patio. Those who live in Wisconsin LOVE places with outdoor seating, even though it’s relevant only 3-4 months of the year. It makes up a tiny bit for those days of winter. ⛄️ So, I was particularly sad when this restaurant closed. Something about using the (truly awesome) location for a different purpose. What?! Don’t they know? We NEEDED

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Easy Pasta Salad

When a quick salad is needed to go with whatever is on the grill, pasta salad is an easy choice. I typically use whatever fresh vegetables happen to be on hand plus cheese and meat according to preference or mood of the day. I have found this to be a good venue for whole grain pasta, since the use of a dressing makes it hard for those “picky eaters” to distinguish between the “white stuff” and whole grain. This time I used tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, yellow bell pepper, green onions, salami and mild brick cheese with rotini pasta. My dressing

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Juicy Lucy

Have you ever heard of a “Juicy Lucy”? No? In that case, I will consider this my public service message for the day J. A Juicy Lucy is a cheeseburger with cheese inside the patty instead of on top resulting in a melted core of cheese. Cool, hey? Two bars in Minneapolis claim to be the inventor of the burger, though other bars and restaurants have their own interpretations. One, “Matt’s Bar, where I had my first JL (and not my last) ” uses a different spelling: “Jucy Lucy.” Cooking the cheese in the burger gives you two “wins.” The

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Grilled Pizza!

Make it Vegetarian OR Meatlovers! Pizza is America’s favorite food, according to a survey by the California Pizza Kitchen. (I’m sure they were COMPLETELY unbiased, LOL). But it is summer, and we love to grill. So can we combine these two loves? Yes, we CAN! Grilling pizza is essentially just a technique to get used to, particularly for the crust. Once you have that figured out, the rest is easy. The pizza can then be customized with whatever ingredients are preferred. Please note: I do all my grilling on a gas grill. In theory this can also be done on

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Quinoa Edamame Salad

With summer coming isn’t it nice to have an “easy button” to throw together last-minute salads? This one is something I quite literally THREW TOGETHER, using .. whatever .. in my fridge and freezer. I liked it so much, I make it regularly. On purpose! Both quinoa and edamame provide a protein punch. Corn gives hints of sweetness, and grape tomatoes provide a mild tang. I’ve also used cooked carrots and peas with success.  The possibilities are endless! One note about edamame: when I find a package labeled edamame in the freezer section, it is a package of beans in

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Asparagus and Cannellini Bean Salad

I was raised on a farm where we grew our own asparagus, so for me this vegetable always shouts “Spring!” Luckily, due to the marvels of modern growing and shipping practices, we have access to this vegetable almost year round. But let’s face it: Asparagus is still best in the spring. Sometimes all you want to do is steam your asparagus and have it on the side with fish or even steak. But other times, you want something different. And for that we go to one of my cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen. And it delivers! By including cannellini beans

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Spicy Mushroom-Noodle Soup

You know, ramen has come a long way. I don’t think I ever heard of it until I was in college. At the time, ramen meant cheap instant noodles with a flavor packet. And cheap! What were they, three or four packs for a dollar? Perfect dorm room fare: Carbs that didn’t require a lot of cooking or kitchen equipment. Of course, you were always hungry an hour after. Fast forward to today. Ramen has been dressed up and taken downtown. Seems like there’s a ramen restaurant on every other corner, each claiming to be better than the last. How

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Classic Potato Salad

Does anything say summer more than potato salad? (Okay, maybe ice cream, popsicles, shorts, sandals, suntan lotion – you get the idea…) I have a true love affair with potatoes and therefore potato salad. I also believe that everyone should have at least one “go to” potato salad recipe that they love and can rely upon. (I have three, at last count) There are many different potatoes and ways to make the dressing, and you might have your own preferences, but here are mine: Potatoes: I use red potatoes, baby-sized if possible. The reason? It’s such a bother to peel

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Quinoa with Broccoli and Parmesan

This is one of my “go to” dishes, any time of year. It takes a mere 3 ingredients and only minutes to assemble. With two of those ingredients being quinoa and broccoli, this dish packs a punch of superfood action covered in one swell foop! AND it’s truly delicious! Since May is coming to a close I wanted to be sure to mention that it is Celiac Awareness month. Celiac disease is an autoimmune condition in which the ingestion of gluten leads to damage to the small intestine. So many people seem to be affected by this! Fortunately, there are

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Cheesy Brat Stew

Since Memorial Day is upon us, I thought I would post this recipe just in case you’re about to throw some sausages on the grill, and are worried about having leftovers. This stew is so yummy, you might want to cook up some extra on purpose! The recipe is meant for bratwurst or Polish sausage, but really almost any sausage will work. When I made this recently I used 4 bratwursts and 2 Italian sausages – naturally, because that’s what was in the fridge! I can’t give you a link for this recipe, because I got it before there was

Mediterranean Salad

Mediterranean Chopped Salad

If you are looking for a salad that is bursting with bright, fresh flavors, look no more! This “Middle Earth” delight has a simple vinaigrette dressing that, through some alchemy, “pops” the flavors of the tomatoes and cucumber; “crunches up” the taste of romaine lettuce; and smooths the palate with feta and chickpeas. Kalamata olives provide the “Ta dah!” moment with an exclamation point of piquancy. I absolutely love the flavors and textures of this. Transport your taste buds to the Mediterranean! This recipe comes from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook, from America’s Test Kitchen. I made a few small adjustments

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4 Ingredient Coleslaw

I think there’s a rule that you can’t serve pulled pork without coleslaw. (Maybe it’s just a guideline). Contrary to popular opinion, coleslaw does NOT have to come from a deli. It is, in fact, one of the easiest salads to make and you probably have all the dressing ingredients on hand already! Buy yourself a package of pre-shredded coleslaw mix and you are good to go! If you are determined to make this COMPLETELY from scratch, you can shred your own cabbage. You could also simply leave a knife out so it looks like you slaved all day over

Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork – Instant Pot

Includes Dry Rub Recipe for Chicken or Pork Memorial Day is coming and you’re probably planning to grill, but if the weather is sketchy or more meal choices are desirable, pulled pork is an excellent and easy choice. Plus, you can make it in your Instant Pot, which frees up other cooking methods for additional menu items. If you don’t have an Instant Pot, just use this rub. Then, slow-cook your meat in the crockpot (at least 6, up to 12, hours on low). Dry Rub First, the dry rub. A couple of years ago, I started using dry rub

roasted carrots

Roasted Baby Carrots

Something I always have on hand are baby carrots.  They’re the perfect snack, any time of year.  Some call them the perfect health food, too, as they provide beta carotene, fiber, vitamin K, potassium, and antioxidants. They are also thought to lower cholesterol levels and improve eye health. Sign me up!  I like carrots raw as well as steamed.  But if you haven’t yet discovered the rewards of roasting vegetables, using this method on carrots takes it to another level. According to the carrotmuseum.co.uk (there is a website for EVERYTHING), a “true” baby carrot is basically an immature carrot. If

Roasted Chickpeas

Crispy Roasted Chickpeas

As I stated in my last post, I am focusing this week on ingredients for Buddha bowls: a grain, a green and a bean. Sometimes the bean can be a challenge, so I was really happy to discover that you can roast chickpeas to make a crunchy treat. They can be eaten as a quick snack anytime you are in the mood. I’ve tried a couple different methods to accomplish a nice crunchy chickpea. The ingredient list is short: canned chickpeas, olive oil, and seasonings.  Simple, right? Well – not exactly. Turns out, there are many different approaches to roasting

quinoa

Quinoa

for Buddha bowls and more This week, we celebrate Buddha’s birthday.  We have to pick a week because apparently there’s no agreed-upon date for his birth (or “name day” for you Game of Thrones fans).  So, if you are using the 8th day of the 4th month in the Chinese lunar calendar, the 2019 day is May 12. If you’re using the full moon day of the Vaisakha month of the Buddhist calendar, then it’s May 19. Yeah, I’m confused too. Try Wikipedia, they explain it in great detail. But that brings us to Buddha bowls.  According to The Urban

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Roasted Brussel Sprouts

If you haven’t tried roasting vegetables, then you have really been missing out!  Don’t get me wrong, I love my steamed veggies as much as the next, and they definitely take the least amount of time to prepare, but sometimes roasting brings out different flavors and textures, which makes them seem like different vegetables all together! So, let’s walk step by step on how I roast brussel sprouts.  Now to be honest, I was never that crazy about this particular veggie, which is kind of weird because I really love cabbage, and brussel sprouts are quite similar; however,  I think

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Easy Stuffed Sweet Potato

So, do you have a few leftovers from Cinco de Mayo?  Whenever I make my Brown Rice and Bean Bake , I love eating the leftovers, but sometimes I like a little variety for it.  Of course, you can go with the classic Burrito Bowl: lettuce or spinach with tomatoes, maybe a little sweet potato and avocado, a scoop of the warmed-up Brown Rice and Bean Bake, and you are good to go! Need more? Add cheese! More still? Thrown on some salsa! You get the idea. One day, I wanted something a little more substantial, so I decide to

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Margarita Slush

Cinco de Mayo is almost here, and I couldn’t let go of this theme without a margarita recipe! I have to tell you, margaritas hold a special place in my heart.  When I first moved from Central Wisconsin to the “big city” of Madison, I was a senior in college and joined a high school friend and her roommates in their bachelorette pad.  I vividly remember their reaction when they realized I came with a blender and about 15 pints of frozen strawberries from my parents’ berry patch.  What a fun party THAT was! (I’m pretty sure that’s not what

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Vegetarian Crunch Wrap

Here is something a little different for your menu—a Veggie Crunch Wrap! This is similar to the menu item at a Mexican fast food location near you, but if you make this at home, you have control over exactly what is going into your wrap.  I have made these with seasoned ground beef, as well as with Salsa Chicken, to rave reviews, but wanted to make a vegetarian version for myseIf.  It took me a couple of tries to get what I wanted, and I can tell you that for me, the key ingredient was a nice thick slice of

Black Bean Soup

Black Bean Soup

Happy Spring!  It is almost May, which means green grass, flowers and…snow? We did in fact have snow just last weekend here in southern Wisconsin—kind of a cruel trick from Mother Nature.  As much as spring is warm and wonderful, it can also be unpredictable.  So, it is probably a good idea to keep soup in mind for those cooler days.  And, since we are leading up to Cinco de Mayo, what better choice than Black Bean Soup? Like most soups, this one is easy to tinker with by adjusting the seasonings to suit your personal preference.  The inspiration for

Brown Rice and Bean Bake

Mexican, Vegetarian Today, I am continuing the countdown to Cinco de Mayo, and this time, I have a recipe that is hearty enough to be a main dish for vegetarians and perfectly suited to be a side dish for carnivores. There are plenty of bean-and-rice dishes out there, but most start with white rice, something I try to avoid.  White rice is not a whole grain; all the most nutritious parts, like the bran and the germ, have been removed.  This process removes most of the vitamins and minerals, as well as the fiber.  So, use brown rice whenever possible;

salsa chicken

Salsa Chicken

Instant Pot or Oven This coming weekend will be Cinco de Mayo, so what better time to discuss some Mexican-inspired dishes? I’m going to start with Salsa Chicken because it is a simple way to prepare your chicken to use as the basis for many other dishes. I have prepared this in both an oven and Instant Pot and both work great, so no matter what cooking method you prefer, this is guaranteed to be an easy way to prepare an ingredient for the carnivores coming to your Cinco de Mayo party.  First, start with chicken-I prefer boneless/skinless chicken thighs-they