Friday, August 31, 2012

postheadericon Foodie Pen Pal

The Lean Green Bean

About a month ago, I became familiar with the Foodie Pen Pal program sponsored by The Lean Green Bean blog (great blog, BTW).  So I signed up and gave it a try!

I was paired with a super-nice blogger, Vickie from Midwestern Ramblings.  Vickie lives in Kansas City, which turned out to be great for me, because she sent me so many wonderful food products from her hometown!

When I first opened the box she sent me, I was so excited that she included a nice note with her "supplies."  She knew we love coconut around here, so she kindly included a recipe for Coconut Congo Bars...look for this yummy recipe to be tried soon.  I LOVE Vickie's cute recipe cards.  Mine are BOR-ING!

Little did Vickie know this would be my favorite item in the box.  I LOVE trying regional honey!  I have way too much honey right now, but this will go to good use soon.

Did you know that when you first move to a new area, you should make a point to begin using honey from that region?  The honey will contain regional pollens, etc. that can help you acclimate to the new allergens in the area.  Honey is amazing like that.  

Look at all of these yummy treats!  It might just have to be BBQ time over here soon.  Bill and I were just talking about eating more salads and "the Pink Stuff" will be just perfect.  And how did Vickie know how much I LOVE PENZEY'S???  Hmmm...maybe it was because of a post I had about Penzey's a few months back.  

Last, but certainly not least, Vickie included these beautiful note cards from the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. A KC gem!  This was a nice idea and it inspired me to go out and get MY pen pal something similar, so thanks for letting me steal that idea, friend. 

Vickie happened to mention to me that she works at a veteran's hospital.  Thank you, Vickie, for all you do for our disabled and ailing veterans. I am sure the folks you interact with are the better for it, as am I for being your pen pal. 

Vickie was a great pen pal!!  Please visit her blog and learn a little more about her!!

To see what I sent my pen pal, visit Karen's blog at Read:Cook:Live.  

Until next time, 

Monday, August 27, 2012

postheadericon Frosted Cashew Drop Cookies

Happy Monday!  On July Fourth, Bill and I attended a party where we had these GREAT cookies.  Bill couldn't stop raving about them (and eating them!), so we asked for the recipe.  Bill's friend said they were cashew cookies with brown butter frosting.  

So a few days later Bill looked up the recipe and sent it my way.  "You should make these," he said.  So I did!  These were so yummy and I wanted to share the recipe with you.  This recipe is from the Land O Lakes website; I took a look at the site and there are lots of great recipes...take a look and give these a try!

Frosted Cashew Drop Cookies

1 c firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c butter, softened
1 egg
1 t vanilla
2 c flour
3/4 t baking powder
3/4 t baking soda
1/3 c sour cream
1 3/4 c cashew halves

1/2 c butter
2 c powdered sugar
3 T milk
1 t vanilla

Heat oven to 350°F. Combine brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter in large bowl. Beat at medium speed, scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add egg and vanilla; continue beating until mixed. Reduce speed and beat, adding flour, baking powder and baking soda alternately with sour cream, until well mixed. Stir in the cashews by hand.

Drop dough by level tablespoonfuls, 2 inches apart, onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Melt 1/2 cup butter in heavy 1-quart saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until butter foams and just starts to turn golden (4 to 6 minutes). Immediately remove from heat. Pour into medium bowl; cool 5 minutes.

Add powdered sugar, milk and vanilla; beat until smooth. Frost cooled cookies. Top with cashew half, if desired.


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Sunday, August 26, 2012

postheadericon What I Did Today...

Well, this morning I got up early and participated in my first triathlon.  My goal was just to finish and I did!  In one piece too!  

The race was in Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin.  They have a beautiful facility there and the race was very well-run.  

Me post race...Victory Comes in "supplies"

When I came home, Bill made me waffles :)

As this is a cooking blog and not a Sara's exercise blog, here is the recipe.  Enjoy!

Basic Waffle Batter

2 c sifted flour
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
2 T sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 c milk
3 T oil

Mix all ingredients.  Pour 3 T batter in a waffle iron.  Cook until done.

Bill would like to add a "pro tip"...make sure to use PAM on the waffle iron prior to making waffles.  Also, Bill likes to add a little vanilla to the batter.  I guess this is a bonus pro tip!

Until next time, 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

postheadericon Barcelona Bites

Eating in Barcelona

My dad recently sent me an article from the Wall StreetJournal about the wine scene in Barcelona.  On the clipping, he wrote, “Sara – no wonder why you came home with wine from SPAIN.”  And he is right!  When I went to Spain and France earlier this summer, I came home with two bottles of wine; both are from Spain. 

The food and wine of Spain are like no other.  I want to tell you about two great experiences I had in Barcelona – lunch at Bar Mut (featured in the WSJ article, go figure) and Bodega Bonavista, a nearby wine shop that had a great selection of wine and an enthusiastic English-speaking owner. 

Source: via Sea on Pinterest

Bar Mut is a pretty well-known restaurant in Barcelona.  So well-known, it was recommended to  prior to my visit.  I was in Barcelona for a very short time, so I sought out Bar Mut for Sunday lunch.  I got a quick lesson in Spanish culture…I got to the restaurant way too early in the day and ended up interrupting the staff enjoying a communal breakfast on the patio.  Whoops!  

When I returned at a decent time, the staff were terrific.  I had a lovely waiter who made sure I understood the menu and suggested wine accordingly.  Although Bar Mut is very well known for its wine selection, I had the best food I enjoyed during my stay.  I had fresh squid and the BEST spinach salad with goat cheese I have ever had.  Actually, it might be the best salad ever.   The staff was very kind and attentive. 

At the end of the meal, I asked the manager where I might be able to find a wine shop open on Sunday.  He pointed me in the direction of Bodega Bonavista, which was a great choice. 

Source: via Emma on Pinterest

Bodega Bonavista is a small wine shop in the Eixample neighborhood of Barcelona.  It is open Sundays (and probably most other days) and, most importantly, the owner spoke English.  We spent a little time discussing the ins and outs of the different varietals and he helped me choose not only a bold, traditional Spanish wine, but also a more mellow blend of traditional Spanish varietals.  Both easily fit into my suitcase home.    

One of the greatest things I learned from my experience at these two great establishments is to ask questions of locals when traveling (especially when traveling abroad).  I took a chance in asking for a recommendation at Bar Mut; the manager was happy to point me to his favorite wine shop.  At Bodega Bonavista, I asked the owner what he would recommend; the result were two fantastic wines that I have enjoyed as a reminder of my special trip to Spain. 

I wish you happy travels on this Travel Tuesday! 

Until next time, 

Thursday, August 16, 2012

postheadericon Cookbook Corner: Farm to Fork

I hate to admit it, I am recommending a cookbook by Emeril Lagasse.  I didn't really like him when he first came on the scene; all of the BAMS!  and the like.  But now, I feel a little different about Emeril.

That guy made the Food Network and then they let him go.  Now, he is a kinder and gentler Emeril.  I actually enjoy him interacting with Martha Stewart and I am happy he has a show on the Hallmark Channel.  I even watch it from time to time!

This cookbooks is great for anyone with a home garden or who frequents a local farmer's market.  It is divided by vegetable with many recipes in each section.  This isn't a super-new cookbook; as you can see, I picked mine up at Half Price Books.

I have made a few recipes and all have turned out great.  A sampling of a few of the recipes I would like to try:

Homemade Applesauce
Cranberry Orange Sauce
Emeril's Anytime Eggnog
Herbed Quiche with Blue Cheese
Roasted Garlic Soup

So yummy (and lots of pictures).  I wanted to share with you a recipe for a hot potato salad, which we enjoyed a few weeks ago.  Here we go!

Warm Potato Salad
by Emeril Lagasse

3 oz bacon (you will see I used ham instead)
1 c sweet onion, diced
2 lbs baby potato (such as fingerling)
6 c water
2 T salt
1 T whole grain mustard
1 T black pepper
1 T honey
1/4 c cider vinegar
1/2 c vegetable oil
3 T minced chives (I used dill, because I love it)

1. Place the bacon in a pan and saute until crisp, about 5 minutes.  Add the onions and cook until they are soft, about 4 minutes.  Remove from heat.

2. Cut potatoes into 1/4 inch slices and place them in a sauce pan.  Add the water and salt and bring to a boil.  Then reduce heat and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and set aside.

3. In a medium bowl, combine the mustard, pepper, honey and vinegar.  Whisk to combine.  Add the oil in a steady stream while continuing to whisk.  Add the chives.  Add the potatoes and bacon-onion mixture, and stir gently to combine.  Serve warm!

That's it!  Very easy, for sure.  So give this cookbook a try, you will love it!

Sunday, August 12, 2012

postheadericon Lazy Daisy Cake

I recently saw a blog post on another site asking what desserts reminded the reader of their childhood.  Immediately, I thought of lazy daisy cake, which was my birthday cake of choice for many years growing up.

I did a quick internet search for a recipe, although I know the recipe my mother used was from the Fanny Farmer Cookbook (which was really the only cookbook I can remember her using).  Although the recipe I found uses a "from scratch" cake, don't feel bad if you just use the frosting on a mix cake; I am pretty sure this was what my mom did all those years ago!  I hope you enjoy this recipe!

Lazy Daisy Cake


4 eggs
2 c sugar
2 teas vanilla extract
2 c flour
2 teas baking powder
1/2 teas salt
1 c milk
1/2 c butter


1 1/2 c brown sugar, packed
3/4 c butter, melted
1/2 c half-and-half
2 c flaked coconut

Lazy Daisy Cake


  • In a large bowl, beat the eggs, sugar and vanilla until thick.  Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the egg mixture.  In a small saucepan, bring the milk and butter to a boil, stirring constantly. Add to batter and beat until combined.  The batter will be rather thin. 
  • Pour into a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking pan. Bake at 350° for 30-35 minutes.  
  • While the cake is baking, combine the frosting ingredients; spread over warm cake. Broil 4 in. from heat until lightly browned, about 3-4 minutes. 
Oh, enjoy this one!  Thanks Mom for always making this for me when I asked!

8/13 Update:  I spoke with my mom today and she saw the blog and said she "always made the cake from scratch."  So I stand corrected.  :)  It would be great either way!!

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Saturday, August 11, 2012

postheadericon Product Placement: Gilbert's Craft Sausages

First, I want you all to know that I have no relationship with Gilbert's nor have I been compensated by Gilbert's (although hey, Gilbert's Sausages, give me a call!).

I first heard of the sausages while I was cruising the internet looking at other food blogs.  Being from Wisconsin, these sausages caught my eye.  Gilbert's Sausage can be purchased online, but I looked and noticed they can be purchased at my grocery (Sendik's, for those in the MKE), so we decided a few weeks ago to give them a try.

Oh my goodness, YUM!  First, the varieties are out of this world.

Here is a breakdown of the varieties we have tried.

The Ouisconsin: this is our FAVORITE.  It is a beef smoked sausage with BLEU CHEESE!  Good Golly, Miss Molly these are good.

The Catalana: this is my second favorite (I think Bill likes the bratwurst better).  A smoked pork sausage with mozzerella, chipotle pepper and lime.  Nice and spicy.  YUM!

The Shebeergan: named after the iconic Wisconsin town.  This is a pork bratwurst with a hint of beer.  The best brat out there.  

The Froman: OK, we haven't tried these, but I bet they are great!  Uncured beef dogs.  

I would love to provide you with some recipes featuring these dogs, but honestly, we just straight up grill them.  As a bonus, they are individually wrapped, so you can just pop one in your lunch bag and have a dog in 30 seconds in the microwave.  

Did I mention they are fantastic?   

Give Gilbert's a try!

Monday, August 6, 2012

postheadericon Campus Kitchen and Orange-Beet Salad

I am so lucky to work for an organization that believes in giving back to our community and encourages its employees to do the same.  Last week, I (and some work colleagues) volunteered at the Campus Kitchen, which is a national non-profit network fighting hunger by preparing meals in shared kitchen spaces in schools/universities using recovered food from the school and other local food sources.  

My experience at the Marquette University location was terrific.  We interacted with Sharon, who volunteers extensively at the Marquette Campus Kitchen site over her summer break.  During the school year, she works in one of Marquette's cafeterias.  

Sharon hard at work

We were amazed at the inexpensive, tasty food Sharon prepared (with our help) for persons in need in our community.  As it is summer, Sharon focuses her meal planning on local produce easily found at farmer's markets.  Campus Kitchen visits a local market weekly and many vendors donate any leftover vegetables to the program.  

Scenes from Campus Kitchen

During our shift, we assisted Sharon in making stuffed zucchini, patty pan squash saute and an orange-beet salad, which I share with you here..

Orange-Beet Salad
courtesy of Sharon Hope, Campus Kitchen

1-2 bunches of beets, boiled, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces

2 TBLS olive oil
4 TBLS flour
1 TBLS ground cinnamon
1-2 c orange juice
1 TBLS brown sugar (optional)

Boil the beets until fork tender.  Peel the beets and cut them into bite-sized pieces.  

In a saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add flour and whisk, making sure the flour is well incorporated into the oil.  Stir for about two minutes, until flour mixture has browned.  Add cinnamon.  Add one cup of orange juice and stir until thickened.  If the sauce appears too thick, add a little more orange juice.  If desired, brown sugar can be added to sweeten the sauce.  

Pour the sauce over the beets.  Mix the beets and sauce together until the beets are coated.  This salad can be eaten warm or at room temperature.  Either way, you will love it!  A great way to introduce your family to beets.  

A big thanks for Campus Kitchen and Sharon for hosting us.  If you would like to learn more about Campus Kitchen, visit  If you are interested in learning more specifically about the Campus Kitchen at Marquette University, visit

Until next time, 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

postheadericon Cookbook Corner - Savory, Sweet Life

TGIF!  So, I LOVE cookbooks. I have forever...I even have a cookbook that my grandmother gave me when I was about five!  I will have to post about that sometime soon :)  

A typical Sunday for me is sitting outside (or watching a Packers game) and paging through a cookbook, imagining the possibilities of a new recipe.  

Recently, I purchased the cookbook Savory Sweet Life by Alice Currah.  Alice is a fantastic blogger and someone I can learn so much from.  Her cookbook is beautiful; all of the photos were taken by Alice and are just lovely.  

One thing I really like about the cookbook is how Alice organized the recipes by occasion, such as Block Party and Dad's Birthday.

I have made several recipes from this fabulous cookbook; I highly recommend it!  

As I had to bring a dish to a tennis event this week, I decided to try the peach croissants from Alice's cookbook.  The results were terrific and I wanted to share the recipe with you!

Peach Croissants
from Savory, Sweet Life by Alice Currah

1 fresh peach
2 TBLS sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 sheet frozen puff pastry 
Egg wash: 1 egg yolk beaten with 1 teas water

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Line a rimmed backing sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the peach in half and remove the pit.  Slice each peach half into 6 slices.  In a small bowl, mix the sugar and cinnamon together.  Set aside.

Cut the puff pastry in half vertically and then horizontally so you have 4 equal square pieces.  Rotate so it looks like a diamond.  Place three peach slices across the center of the diamond from left to right.  Sprinkle one-fourth of the cinnamon mixture evenly over the peach slices.  Grab the top and bottom corners and bring them to the center, pinching them together to seal them.  Repeat the process with each of the remaining squares.  

Place the croissants on the baking sheet.  Brush the puff pastry with the egg wash.  Bake for 25 minutes, or until the croissants are golden brown.  

I actually put the puff pastry into nine sections and make smaller croissants...either way, these are terrific!  

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