Archive for July 2011

Door County Pre-Race Pics

July 31st, 2011 — 3:40pm

I have so many wonderful memories and pictures from my recent weekend in Door County. It’s always one of my favorite weekends of the summer. To have the opportunity to both spend the weekend and race there is a real treat. There’s many things I’ve grown to love about the race—the challenging and beautiful course, the massive ice bath at the finish line, and the fact that it’s superbly well-run. But hands down my favorite part of the race is seeing so many friends. It’s amazing how many people I know who do this race every year…friends like Lauren & Brodie, Julie & Matt, Miranda & Tom, Dano, my friends Jessica and Jenny from college, the team from Endurance House…and the list goes on and on. What fun. It just really doesn’t get much better than that.

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Chicken Enchiladas Verdes

July 31st, 2011 — 3:20pm

june-2011-096The recipe below for Chicken Enchiladas Verdes has become of one my favorite options for a quick and easy weekday meal. It’s the real deal—tasty, flavorful, nutritious, and best of all, reheats amazingly well for lunches and leftovers. You could say it’s a meal that keeps on giving. I used La Victoria Thick ‘n Chunky Salsa Verde (Medium), which seemed to make the meal extra delicious—it’s a great combination of tomatillos, jalapenos, onion and garlic. Enjoy!

Chicken Enchiladas Verdes (from Real Simple; serves 4)

bone-in chicken breasts (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)
16-ounce jar mild salsa verde
2 cups fresh cilantro sprigs, plus more for serving
1 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
1 1/2 cups frozen corn, thawed
8 ounces Muenster or Monterey Jack cheese, grated
kosher salt and black pepper
6-inch flour tortillas
rice, for serving

Heat oven to 400° F. Place the chicken in a medium pot, add enough water to cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes; remove from pot and let cool. When cool enough to handle, shred the chicken, discarding the skin and bones; place the meat in a large bowl.

Meanwhile, in a blender, puree the salsa, cilantro, and ½ cup of the sour cream until smooth. Transfer to a small saucepan and simmer until slightly thickened, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in the remaining ½ cup sour cream.

To the chicken, add the corn, ½ cup of the sauce, 1 cup of the cheese, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper and toss to combine.

Spread 1 cup of the remaining sauce in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Roll the chicken mixture in the tortillas (about ½ cup per tortilla) and place seam-side down in the dish. Top with the remaining sauce and cheese. Bake until bubbling and beginning to brown, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with cilantro, sour cream, and rice, if desired.

1 comment » | Kristin's Kitchen

Graze Restaurant Week Menu

July 28th, 2011 — 11:25am

Madison’s Restaurant Week is a popular bi-annual tradition. For just $25, you’ll enjoy a three-course meal at your choice of Madison’s finest dining establishments.  As part of this week’s summer version (Jul. 24-29), I had dinner at Graze on Tuesday night with Jill, Ryan, and Larry. Between the four of us, we ordered each item on the menu. It was a great meal. My only complaint was that the dishes weren’t terribly representative of Graze’s day-to-day menu. I’d recommend either the linguini or heirloom tomato salad for an appetizer, the whitefish as an entree, and the caramel brownie sundae for dessert.  There’s still a few days to get out and enjoy Restaurant Week! Graze doesn’t take reservations, but if you’re there by 5:30 or 6 p.m., you should be able to get a table relatively quickly.

Pictured from top left:


  • Steamed Mussels Linguini: Market peas and white-wine spring garlic cream sauce.
  • Snug Haven: Tomato gazpacho, cornmeal-breaded rock shrimp and smoked paprika.
  • Real Foods: Heirloom tomato salad, grilled corn, fresh mozzarella cheese and basil.


  • Seared Wisconsin Whitefish: Potato roesti, green and wax beans, Canopy Gardens cherry tomatoes, caper and herb creme fraiche and white fish roe.
  • Spiced Jordandal Pork Loin and Crispy Pork Belly: Corn, sweet onions, 10-year cheddar polenta and espresso-chili sauce.
  • Bulgar Cakes: Summer market vegetable ragout, warm oven-dried tomato-olive vinaigrette and lemon Greek yogurt.


  • Salted Caramel Brownie Sundae: Red currant syrup, vanilla frozen custard.
  • Warm Bumble Berry Buckle: Vanilla frozen custard.
  • Chocolate Mousse Parfait: Door County tart cherries, chocolate cookie crunch.

Comment » | Madtown Lovin', Restaurant Reviews

Flank Steak with Chimichurri

July 22nd, 2011 — 11:33am

june-2011-3931A few weeks ago I shared photos from a recent visit to my family’s cabin in Northern Wisconsin. One of the things I enjoy most about being at our cabin is the opportunity for lakeside dining. There’s nothing quite like enjoying a great meal outdoors while watching the sun set over the lake and listening to the loons call.

My favorite meal during last month’s trip was one Larry and I made with flank steak given to us by farmers John and Dorothy Priske of Fountain Prairie Farm. With a little advice from friends (“Sear the hell out of it and serve it with chimichurri”) and a Google search that came up with an inspiring  blog post, we had all the elements needed to whip up a fantastic meal. The recipes we used (both below) are featured in Emeril Lagasse’s 2009 cookbook Emeril at the Grill. Needless to say, the meal was fantastic—definitely one I’ll remember for quite some time. The food, the company, the scenery…unforgettable.

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Chimichurri

Avocado, Tomato and Red Onion Salad


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Iron Chef Grill Mexican Flavors

July 21st, 2011 — 4:23pm

july-2011-1441July’s Iron Chef dinner was my favorite to date. But sadly, I didn’t contribute much myself. I’ve been so busy at work that Larry stepped in for me, along with his friend Bob—a former teaching partner of his from Spain who originally hails from Scotland. Larry and Bob worked hard to put together two stellar dishes that concentrate on Mexican flavors. The results were impressive. And perfect for any summer barbecue. Following are the recipes for both.

Grilled Corn Mexican Style
(from Buffalo News)

8 ears corn
1/2 cup mayonnaise
3 tbsp. fresh lime juice, or more to taste
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground black pepper, or to taste
1 tbsp. chile powder (I used this, but much less than 1 tbsp.)
1/2 cup Cotija cheese, crumbled or shredded

Prepare a grill for high heat.

Shuck corn and remove silk.

In a small bowl, mix mayonnaise with lime juice, chile powder, salt and pepper.

Put cobs on grate and grill until some kernels are browned, about 3 to 4 minutes, then roll to expose new area to heat. You may hear kernels popping.Grill the corn, turning regularly, until about half or more of the kernels are browned or blackened. Remove from heat.

Spread a coat of chile-lime mayonnaise onto the corn. Sprinkle with Cotija cheese, and serve with lime wedges.

july-2011-1551Roasted Plantains with Mexican Goat Milk Caramel and Nuts
(from Rick Bayless’ Mexican Everyday; serves 4)

4 small to medium black-ripe plaintains
About 1 cup (3 oz.) pecan or walnut halves or whole almonds
About 1/2 cut cajeta (Mexican goat milk caramel, available at well-stocked groceries and Mexican markets)

Cut the pointed ends of each plantain, exposing a small amount of the flesh. Make a shallow slit through the skin on the inner curved side of each one. Lay the plantains on a medium-hot section of the grill and turn them occasionally until thoroughly soft and richly browned, 5 to 8 minutes.

While the plantains are roasting, pour the nuts into a medium ungreased skillet and set over medium-low heat. Stir frequently until fragrant and very lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Pour the cajeta into a small saucepan and warm over low heat. (Or heat in a microwave.)

When the plantains are ready, remove them from the grill and let cool slightly. One by one, peel back the skin and slice the flesh into roughly 1/2-inch pieces, slicing directly (but not through) the plantain skin. For a rustic presentation, pile the pieces into an irregular mound on the skin, then lift the whole affair onto a small deep serving plate. Drizzle each plantain with a portion of cajeta and sprinkle with nuts.

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Door County Weekend (Pre/Post Race)

July 21st, 2011 — 1:00pm



















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Iron Chef Grill – Best Yet?

July 12th, 2011 — 12:55pm











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Iron Chef Grilling Edition

July 12th, 2011 — 12:44pm

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Signs of Protest

July 8th, 2011 — 11:54am

july-2011-051Last night Larry and I went to the opening reception of a juried photo exhibit dedicated to displaying the images of the recent months of protests at the Wisconsin state capitol.The show, titled Signs of Protests, highlights the work of 28 local artists. The exhibit is hosted at the Center for Photography at Madison (CPM), which is located on the near east side of Madison on Paterson Street. Collectively, the unique and diverse images tell a powerful story of the important series of events that have unfolded in Madison in recent months. According to the exhibit website:

This unique photographic exhibition captures the energy and spirit of the iconic, and ongoing, chapter of Wisconsin’s history. As protesters marched in, and around, the Capitol building, photographers from every walk of life were there to capture the dynamic unfolding of events. The exhibition includes a range of human interest images related to the recent protest events, from the blatant to the subtle, from the somber to the humorous, and from the emotional to the contemplative. 4e26e9c1093dcpreview-300

The best part is that Larry’s mom is one of the 28 artists whose work is featured in the exhibit. Hers is a powerful image of a woman  sleeping in protest at the state capitol. As one observer noted, it’s a photograph that captures many  social issues central to the protests. It’s a picture of a woman who clearly doesn’t have much, but is doing what she can to take a stand.

If you’re interested in checking out the exhibit, it’s open each Saturday from 9 a.m. until 3 p.m through August 27. You can also check out a few sample images from the exhibit here. Update (7/22/11): There’s also a great article about the exhibit featured in this week’s 77 Square.

Comment » | Books, Film, and Music

Asparagus and Ricotta Pizza

July 5th, 2011 — 4:01pm

june-2011-106This vegetarian recipe, from the May issue of Real Simple magazine, is another new spring favorite. It’s a great, light dinner and the simple pizza crust serves as the perfect stage for farmers’ market fresh asparagus, mushrooms, and arugula.

Asparagus and Ricotta Pizzas (Serves 4)
1 lb. pizza dough, at room temperature
Cornmeal, for the baking sheets
1 pound asparagus, halved crosswise and lengthwise
5 oz. cremini or button mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups rictotta
1/2 cup grated Parmesan (2 oz.)
3 tbsp. olive oil
Kosher salt and black pepper
2 cups baby arugula
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice


Heat oven to 400 degrees. Shape the dough into 4 rounds and place on 2 cornmeal-dusted baking sheets.

Dividing evenly, top the dough with the asparagus, mushrooms, and garlic, then the ricotta, Parmesan, and 2 tablespoons of the oil. Season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Bake, switching the pans halfway through, until the crust is golden brown and crisp, 25 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, toss the arugula with the lemon juice, the remaining tablespoon of oil, and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Top the pizzas with the arugula just before serving.

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