Thursday, December 31, 2009

cacti concoctions

Man oh man, I just can't help wanting to try new foods all the time (and drool over ones I already know and love). I left two of my boys (aka hubby and older bean - baby bean was home taking a nap with grandma on the watch) at Mickey D's playing and I walked across the parking lot to a Latin grocery store. I browsed to my heart's content, seeing something green and fresh, chopped up, in the fridge section. It looked like green peppers but turned out to be cactus, something I've never had but immediately decided I had to try. I bought a bag of the fresh plus a jar of cactus in brine (very spicy!!!). The lovely Mexican couple who run the store gave me some great ideas for how to use it.

I bought some of their homemade pico de gallo, rinsed off some of the jarred cactus (as instructed by the couple), and chopped it and mixed it in together. Lovely with lime-flavored tortilla chips.

And for the fresh cactus, they told me that in Mexico a lot of people blend raw cactus, celery, pineapple, and grapefruit juice together for a breakfast drink. It turned out to be a delicious smoothie - kind of a woodsy, fresh taste from the celery, a hint of sourness from the cactus, and the pineapple and grapefruit flavors melded it all together into one unique drink - it's like nothing I've ever tasted!

If you live in the Middleton, Wisconsin area, then stop by the shop located at the corner of Century and Allen. You'll have fun browsing and buying! (I sure did.)

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

christmas brunch

Lovely family, lovely food. It doesn't get much better than that! (Of course we missed our family and friends in other parts of the country and world - cheers to all of you!)

My mom made a luscious spinach, mushroom, turkey ham, cheesy quiche with a half whole wheat and half white flour base (mixed with cream cheese and butter). Oh. my. word.

Back in the day, my friend Paula from college gave me a marinated fruit salad recipe: You just choose whatever fruit you want and soak it in a mixture of freshly squeezed lime juice, orange juice, chopped fresh mint, and honey. Mmmmm.

And for drinks we had a blend of Simply Limeade and pomegranate 7-Up (idea courtesy of some neighbor friends of ours who served it at their Christmas party).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

savoury veggie bread pudding with v8-tequila sauce

OK, so I got a little carried away here! It all started when we had some leftover artisan roasted garlic bread and it was a little on the stale side (nice crusty bread hardly ever gets old around here, though - this was a fluke for sure). What to do? I just looked up a basic bread pudding recipe (complete with cinnamon, raisins, and vanilla), looked around the kitchen for savoury substitutions, and went a little mad (not so unusual, actually).

I had bought some mushrooms, onions, zucchini, and yellow squash, so I sliced 'em up and sauteed in a little olive oil. Meanwhile, I chopped the bread, had Matthew help me mix up the grated cheese, milk, and eggs, added a few extras, slopped it all together in a greased pan, and baked in a nice relaxing jacuzzi (aka water bath) for a bit.

And shhhhhh, don't tell anybody (oh, maybe I already gave it away in the title), but I made a creamy milky tomato sauce with leftover V8 juice and a few sloshes (whoopsies) of tequila! Mmmmm.

Ahhh, what a lovely bath...

For the savoury veggie bread pudding you'll need:
  • 3/4 loaf stale roasted garlic bread, cubed (or use regular bread and add garlic)
  • 5 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 c. grated sharp cheese
  • 4.5 c. whole milk
  • 2 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 yellow squash, halved lengthwise and then thinly sliced
  • 2 c. sliced mushrooms
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • olive oil for sauteing
  • seasoned salt
  • 1/4 c. flaxseed meal
  • grated parmesan and romano cheeses
For the V8-tequila sauce you'll need:
  • 6 T butter
  • 6 T flour
  • 1/2 c. whole milk
  • 3/4 c. V8 juice
  • few splashes tequila
  • seasoned salt
  • ground black pepper
  • powdered garlic
Do this:

Saute the veggies with seasoned salt in olive oil till tender, then beat the eggs, milk, grated sharp cheese, and flaxseed meal in a large bowl. Toss in the bread and veggies to coat, then dump it all into a greased pan. Grate or shake the grated cheeses over the top. Set that pan in a larger pan with sides, place in a preheated 350 F/180 C oven, then pour hot water into the larger pan on the bottom, about 1 inch deep. Bake about an hour, checking to see that it doesn't get too browned on top - if it does, just cover with foil till done.

Make the sauce just like you would a regular white sauce. (I like to use a wire whisk to avoid any clumps.) Melt the butter in a pan, toss in your flour bit by bit, whisking all the while (whistling if you like, and if you can). Slowly add in the milk and V8 juice, still whisking, and then season with powdered garlic, seasoned salt, black pepper, and slosh in a bit of that fragrant tequila. Simmer (while whisking, of course) till thickened.

Serve in big whopping helpings with a happy splash of sauce on top. Eat with a spoon and a croon.


I haven't been doing much food blogging lately, but of course I've been cooking and eating! Can't stop me!

A few things I've made (and devoured) recently:
Planning on making Tribeca Yummy Mummy's cranberry curd just as soon as I can buy some more eggs. I promise I'll let ya know how it is and what I slather it on.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

it's easy (and yummy) being green

I've been reading about green smoothies online for ages, but when we were living in Japan we didn't have access to the organic ingredients we wanted, and we couldn't actually afford to buy all the loads of fresh fruits and veggies that go into these puppies (each blenderfull is packed!). We were waiting till we moved to the States to go for it - and go for it, we have!

There are plenty of high-powered, professional-grade blenders out there on the market that green smoothie advocates will tell you you need, but actually, my hubby read reviews for all of them, and our new KitchenAid came out on top in all the ratings. We LOVE it.

We also ordered Victoria Boutenko's Green Smoothie Revolution, mainly for the 200+ recipes. I followed them to the letter for exactly one week but have moved on and do my own thang now. They were a good jumping-off point, and I will go back to them again from time to time, but Mamatouille (my alter ego) kicks in and I just can't help adding whatever floats my boat right at that particular moment.

Today's conjuring led to a blender full of organic spinach, cilantro, purple butter lettuce, frozen bananas, frozen mixed berries, fresh tomatoes, clementines (mikan), V-Fusion tangerine and pomegranate juice, and plain yogurt.

Our favorites always include clementines - they just seem to add the right tang to the greens. We made a Costco run the other day and also have fresh mangoes, pineapples, apples, pears, navel oranges, and organic baby spinach. It's fun to add parsley or cilantro, apricots, and the kitchen sink as well.

And the beans DEVOUR them, ask for seconds and thirds, and beg me to make the smoothies at all hours.

It's great because they are getting all kinds of goodness that they wouldn't normally eat loads of - all packed into a slurpilicious cupful (or three).

The only drawback to green smoothies: green diapers.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

hubbard ave. diner

One of our newest pitstops here in Middleton, Wisconsin, and right next to our local library so we can feed our minds and our bods in one convenient swoop.

Above, the "Wisconsin Burger", loaded with locally made cheese and other goodies. The seasoned waffle fries are to cry for. Mmmmmm.

Famous for their decadent pies...

But I couldn't resist the lemon poppyseed cheesecake - one of the best pieces of cheesecake I've ever had, I tell ya.

Stay tuned for my next post where I will show you how we are combatting American-sized portions of (yummy) calorificness with a little somethin' green every day (and what our beans clamor for - seriously)...