Archive for August 2011


Green Chile Cheeseburgers & Fries

August 30th, 2011 — 11:09am

august-2011-069More great recipes from the party! The following recipes are from the cookbook Bobby Flay’s Grill It. Jill and Ryan took the recipe for Green Chile Cheeseburgers and made it their own by creating sliders. The smaller sized burgers were perfect for the party since there were so many other great foods to try. I also enjoyed the accompanying “Old Bay” grilled steak fries. The whole meal—everyone’s combined contributions—was truly a culinary masterpiece. And the ultimate summer feast.

Green Chile Cheeseburgers (from Bobby Flay’s Grill It!, Serves 4)

2 pounds ground chuck, 80 percent lean
2 tablespoons canola oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 thin slices Chihuahua or provolone cheese
4 good-quality hamburger buns
Green Chile Sauce (recipe follows)
4 thick slices beefsteak tomatoes
4 picked jalapeno chiles, thinly sliced

1. Heat your grill to high.
2. Form the meat into 4 burgers, each 1 inch thick. Brush with the oil and season liberally with salt and pepper on both sides. Place on the grill and grill until golden brown and slightly charred, 4 to 5 minutes. Turn the burgers over and continue cooking to medium, about 4 minutes longer.
3. Place 2 slices of the cheese on each burger, close the lid or tent with foil, and cook until the cheese has just melted, about 1 minute.
4. Place the burgers on the bun bottoms and top each one with a few tablespoons of the green chile sauce, a slice of tomato, and some pickled jalapeno. Place the bun tops on top and serve immediately.

Green Chile Sauce (makes approximately 1/2 cup)

2 poblano chiles, grilled, peeled, seeded, and chopped
1 medium red onion, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and grilled
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or oregano leaves
1 tablespoon honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Combine the poblanos, onion, garlic, cilantro, 1/4 cup cold water, honey, salt, and pepper in a blender and blend until smooth. Adjust the salt and pepper. The sauce can be made 1 day in advance and kept covered in the refrigerator. Bring to room temperature before serving.

“Old Bay” Grilled Steak Fries (Serves 4)
1 tablespoon ground bay leaves
2 1/2 teaspoons celery salt
1 1/2 teaspoon sweet Spanish paprika
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon crushed red chile flakes
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamon
6 Idaho potatoes, scrubbed
Kosher salt
1/2 cup canola oil
Chopped fresh chives, for garnish (optional)
Fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish (optional)

1. Combine the bay, celery salt, mustard, paprika, black and white peppers, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, ginger, chile flakes, and cardamon in a small bowl.
2. Put the potatoes in a pot of salted cold water, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, but still firm, about 10 minutes. Drain and let cool before cutting each potato lengthwise into 8 thick slices or spears.
3. Heat your grill to high.
4. Brush the potatoes with the oil and season with the spice rub. Grill until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. Serve sprinkled with chives and parsley, if desired.

Comment » | Iron Chef Dinners, Kristin's Kitchen

Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella)

August 29th, 2011 — 2:27pm

august-2011-067Another fantastic recipe from the surprise party, and a great way to put those fresh tomatoes to use.

Italian Bread Salad (Panzanella)
(From Cooks Illustrated; serves 4)

Note: The success of this recipe depends on ripe, in-season tomatoes and a fruity, high-quality olive oil (the test kitchen prefers Columela Extra-Virgin).

6 cups rustic Italian or French bread, cut or torn into 1-inch pieces (1/2 to 1 pound)
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds tomatoes, cored, seeded, and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 cucumber, peeled, halved lengthwise, seeded, and sliced thin
1 shallot, sliced thin
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 400 degrees. Toss bread pieces with 2 tablespoons oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt; arrange bread in single layer on rimmed baking sheet. Toast bread pieces until just starting to turn light golden, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring halfway through. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
2. Gently toss tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in large bowl. Transfer to colander and set over bowl; set aside to drain for 15 minutes, tossing occasionally.
3. Whisk remaining 6 tablespoons oil, vinegar, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper into reserved tomato juices. Add bread pieces, toss to coat, and let stand for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally.
4. Add tomatoes, cucumber, shallot, and basil to bowl with bread pieces and toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

1 comment » | Iron Chef Dinners, Kristin's Kitchen

Beefsteak Tomato Tart

August 26th, 2011 — 8:19am

august-2011-046One of my favorite dishes from the party was a tomato tart Larry and I made together – supposedly our contribution to the Iron Chef dinner. It’s a great recipe, especially this time of year when fresh tomatoes are so plentiful. It’s incredibly flavorful and relatively easy to make, too.

Beefsteak Tomato, Mortadella & Wisconsin Emmenthaler Tart

(from Fresh from the Market; serves 6)

1 sheet store-bought frozen puff pastry, preferably Dufour brand, thawed
2 tablespoons Raye’s whole grain mustard
12 slices Wisconsin Emmenthaler cheese, 1/8 inch thick
6 slices mortadella, 1/4 inch thick
3 large vine-ripened or beefsteak tomatoes, thinly sliced
3 thinly sliced garlic cloves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Unfold the puff pastry sheet on a cool, lightly floured surface and roll it out to a 1/4-inch thickness. Trim the pastry into a 12-inch round and place it on the prepared baking sheet. Using a fork, prick the pastry in several places.

Brush the pastry with the mustard, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Lay 6 clis of cheese over the mustard, then top with the mortadella. Lay the remaining 6 slices of cheese over the mortadella. Arrange, the tomatoes atop the tart, slightly overlapping to form a circular pattern, then scatter the garlic over the tomatoes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil. Bake until the pastry is golden brown, the cheese is hot and bubbling, and the tomatoes are slightly caramelized, about 30 minutes.

Drizzle the tart with the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and serve immediately.

Comment » | Iron Chef Dinners, Kristin's Kitchen

The Big Surprise

August 25th, 2011 — 10:22am

august-2011-0811Apparently the planning for my 30th surprise birthday party began in early July at the Iron Chef Grill dinner. Larry ran the idea by my friend Lauren, and she helped spread the plan among my other friends. They decided August’s Iron Chef dinner would be the perfect rouse for my surprise birthday party. So afterward, when the group exchanged e-mails to decide the date and theme of the August Iron Chef dinner, little did I know all of the details had already been determined.

I can’t even begin to imagine how much time and energy Larry spent planning the party—what I’ve begun to piece together is that he made countless phone calls to my mom and friends to coordinate logistics, designed an invitation to send to my closest friends, prepared a gourmet party menu, and searched tirelessly for the perfect party decorations.

All the while I thought I was preparing to go to the August Iron Chef dinner. The theme was “Farmers’ Market.” So Larry picked out a couple recipes, and we shopped at the farmers’ market on Saturday to pick up ingredients. Looking back, Larry did buy an incredible amount of vegetables (enough to feed an army), but at the time I didn’t think twice about it.

Also part of the plan was that earlier in the week Lauren and Brodie had invited me to do an 80-mile bike ride on Sunday morning (the day of the party), which I happily agreed to since I needed to get in a long training ride. Meanwhile, Larry woke up before sunrise to begin meal preparations and to go over to Jill and Ryan’s to set up everything. When I got back from the ride, Larry met me at my apartment to finish our supposed Iron Chef preparations.

When we arrived to Jill and Ryan’s house and stepped inside, I could see Lauren and Brodie standing in the kitchen at the end of the hallway. But they’re part of Iron Chef, so everything looked normal. I greeted them, and as I walked into the kitchen, I remarked how great Jill and Ryan’s recent kitchen remodel turned out. That’s when everyone yelled, “Happy Birthday,” and I turned to take in a big group of family, friends, and co-workers clustered to my left. I was shocked and it took several moments for everything to sink in. It was an incredible surprise. And best of all, I had absolutely no idea it was coming.

The rest of the party was wonderful. It was so great to celebrate with my family and closest friends. The food was amazing—Green Chile Cheeseburgers, Guacamole, Raspberry-Thyme Spritzers, Old Bay Grilled Steak Fries, Panzanella, and a beautiful cake with plenty of ice cream. Thank you to everyone who was part of the celebration and helped make my day so special. I am lucky in so many ways.

1 comment » | Iron Chef Dinners, Uncategorized

Surprise Birthday Party Pics

August 24th, 2011 — 11:27am

I promised to share more details from my surprise 30th birthday party, which took place earlier this month. I’ll follow up this post with the story of how it all happened, but let’s start with some photos first:

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These are my friends who made it all happen – Jill, Larry, and Ryan. I can’t thank them enough for making my day so special.

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It was Larry’s idea to make the whole party Farmers’ Market-themed. I loved these great decorations he put together. Clearly a lot of thought and love went into each and every detail.

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What a spread!

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Crudites and dip in Ball jars

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A picture with my cousin, Madison. My uncle Jeff, aunt Toby, and cousins Morgan and Madison traveled from the MKE area to help celebrate with me!

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Upon discovering a unicycle in Jill and Ryan’s garage, I asked my dad to hop on and give it a try. He’s still got it!

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Enjoying great food and conversation

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My mom and Larry

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The most beautiful cake I’ve ever seen – green, my favorite color. And ice cream, obviously my favorite food.

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Ice cream with plenty of toppings (inspired by a recent article in  Real Simple Magazine)

2 comments » | Uncategorized

RMC Triathlon Race Report

August 23rd, 2011 — 10:43am

august-2011-014It feels like I’ve been racing quite a lot the past few weeks. And the race reports are quickly piling up on me! Next up is the Ripon Medical Center Triathlon, which took place on Sunday, July 31. As many of you know, it’s one of my all-time favorites—the Green Lake setting can’t be beat and it’s also a really well-organized race. The race organizer pours his heart and soul into putting on a successful race and raising money for the RMC Foundation. It’s certainly a race I look forward to every year.

Unlike previous years, I didn’t arrive to the race by pontoon boat, which was certainly a less enjoyable and glamorous experience. Instead, I woke up in Madison shortly after 4 a.m., and armed with plenty of coffee, made the trek to Green Lake. But luckily this year I was more focused—unlike last year, I actually remembered my wetsuit, cap, and goggles (which always help). Upon arrival I did a short warm-up run and then waited along the shore for the race to begin.

The race started shortly after 7 a.m. My wave was the second and included long course females and relays. The combination wave made it difficult to determine which swimmers were my competition. At least a couple swimmers in my wave took off early and I was unable to hang. Turns out they were part of relays, but I didn’t know that at the time. I hung back and tried to focus on my own race and swim the best I could. My arms were a bit tired—I realized then that Saturday’s 2-mile swim at Devil’s Lake probably wasn’t the best decision. But otherwise, the swim went well and was over before I knew it.

The bike course was a new course this year—the changes were precipitated by local construction. But as was the case in previous years, the course  still started with a giant hill heading out of the Green Lake conference grounds. The sprint and long course races followed the same route for at least the first 10 miles. There was a lot of traffic from the two races and many people riding in the center of the road, which made things hectic and somewhat dangerous. I was relieved when the long course split from the sprint. Instantly, I was completely on my own with no other riders in sight. I got down in aero position and rode hard.  Overall, the bike course was challenging and featured many rolling hills.

The transition from bike to run went smoothly. Much like the bike course, the run starts with a giant hill out of transition. It took several minutes for me to catch my breath and find my legs. Otherwise, it was a relatively flat and fast course. About a mile or two in, one of the volunteers exclaimed that I was the lead female. That was the first time I had any indication of where I was at place-wise. Knowing that I’m not the fastest runner, I knew I still needed to stay in the race and run hard.  I felt more comfortable when I reached the turn-around point and was able to see where everyone else was at on the way back. The next female was a few minutes back so I felt confident I could hold the lead. I could feel myself fading the last mile or two. I popped a PowerBar Gel and that seemed to restore a bit of my energy. The last quarter-mile or so was all downhill, which was a great way to finish. I finished the race in 2:17:50. I was the first female – although the caveat is that there were only 39 females in the race. But regardless, I was still happy and proud.

Comment » | Racing and Training

A Week in the North Woods

August 19th, 2011 — 11:52am

Last week’s trip to my family’s cabin near Minocqua, and a quick visit to Bayfield.

Comment » | Vacation and Travel

Door County Triathlon Race Report

August 15th, 2011 — 11:09am

doorcounty5If you asked anyone who participated in last month’s Door County Half Ironman to describe the race in one word, they’d probably use the word “hot.” What sticks out most in my memory is trudging along during the run in 90+ degree heat on black asphalt with very little shade.

Door County once again marked my first triathlon of this year’s race season. Going in, I felt prepared, but not nearly as prepared as last year—and there are a few good reasons for that. Sunday forecasts called for hot weather, but it was hard to picture anything other than the perfect temperatures from last year’s race.

As detailed in previous posts, I spent most of the weekend exploring and enjoying Door County—activities included a bike ride through Peninsula State Park, a boat ride on Lake Michigan, and a traditional fish boil at the White Gull Inn. When Saturday night rolled around, I was a bit of a head case as I scrambled to get ready for the race. With a little help from Larry and Bob, I was able to pull it together. Most entertaining was when Bob helped me rig up an aero bottle holder with a shoelace when I realized I had forgotten my plastic connector piece at home. doorcounty7

I woke up early on race morning and enjoyed my usual pre-race breakfast: coffee, bagel with peanut butter, and a banana. Arriving early enough at the race site, I had plenty of time for body marking, warming up, transition arrangements, and getting into my wetsuit. The only bummer was that the race didn’t start until 8 a.m.—and I was in wave #14. It was a lot of waiting around and knowing I’d be out racing in the hottest part of the day.

When my wave finally did take off, I got behind the feet of a faster swimmer and tried to hold on as long as I could. I felt smooth and strong. Other than some turbulent water on the backside of the loop, the swim was relatively uneventful. I tried to stay in the zone and swim hard. Before I knew it, I was running out of the water onto shore and volunteers were helping me peel off my wetsuit.  doorcounty4

The bike started off well enough. The first part of the course is smooth and flat, perfect for getting down in aero position and cruising. All went well until about mile 15. At that point, my makeshift aero bottle holder began to fail, causing my aero bottle to fall and touch my wheel. I slowed up and tried to fix it. I didn’t have much luck, but was able to keep it from hitting my tire for the most part. But I had to stop filling it with liquids to do so. At about the halfway point of the bike, I began to really feel the sun and heat bearing down. I popped salt tablets like crazy in an effort to prevent cramping. I think the strategy helped me from falling apart later in the race. The best part of the bike course was seeing Larry and Bob. At one point they sang me a Scottish song, which really lifted my spirits when I needed it most. july-2011-3141

Like I mentioned before, the run was tough. I merely shuffled along and made myself continue to put one foot in front of the other. The heat was oppressive, and most people were walking. I tried to focus on getting to the next aid station where I could drink fluids and dump water on my head. At some point I began putting ice cubes down my sports bra, which seemed to keep me cooler for a bit longer. The last part of the run was particularly torturous as we ran along big open fields with absolutely no shade. All I could think about was jumping into Lake Michigan. The best part was sensing the finish line and cruising down a giant hill that led to the finish chute.

I ended up finishing as the 8th overall female and third in my age group with a time of 5:14:17. It was about 30 minutes slower than my time last year, but I was still pleased. At a race that hot, it becomes more or less about survival. And I survived.

1 comment » | Racing and Training

Iron Chef Surprise

August 9th, 2011 — 7:17am

Shopping at the farmers’ market on Saturday for Iron Chef dinner ingredients…

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Turns out this month’s Iron Chef dinner was only a ruse…

For a surprise 30th birthday party with 30 of my closest friends!

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What a surprise! Thank you to all of my family and friends who helped make my birthday so special! More stories and pictures when I return from vacation next week!

2 comments » | Uncategorized

Word From the Wise

August 5th, 2011 — 3:16pm

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My favorite new sign on the Badger State Trail bike path leading out to Paoli.

2 comments » | Racing and Training

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