Milwaukee’s Flashing Lights

Ryan and I went to Milwaukee last weekend to visit one of his closest friends, Brad. I had never been before so my expectations were somewhere between low and nonexistent. It turned into one of the best times I’ve had in a while. Good food, great people and a full on dance party. When I hear the music, I just.can’t.stop. A huge thanks to Brad for his wonderful hospitality. We definitely will be back very soon…Here are a few pics from our adventure!

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Since I’m pretty new to this whole blogging thing – I still haven’t figured out the proper way to upload pics and add captions 😦 HELP!

Anywho – the above pictures capture our dinner at Market – one of the coolest places. You can purchase good from a bunch of different “shops” including a seafood “deli” where a lot of the high end restaurants in MKE get there goods. You can also order dinner and eat right at the oyster bar. That’s my lobster dinner up there, amaze.

We also went to a great German Beer Hall- the food looked amazing but we had just come from the Market so only brew hau haus were on our mind 🙂

Yes, that bloody mary has a slider on top of it – Ryan was in heaven.

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Cream Cheese Frosting

To date, this is the best cake I have ever made. Period. I caught my dad eating straight from the pan in the middle of the night. It’s that good. Enjoy 🙂

Ingredients:
• 1/4 cup white sugar
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 3/4 cup butter
• 3 cups brown sugar
• 3 eggs
• 6 very ripe bananas, mashed
• 1 (16 ounce) container sour cream
• 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
• 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3 teaspoons baking soda
• 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F (150 degrees C). Grease 9 x 13 inch loaf pan. In a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup white sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Dust pans lightly with cinnamon and sugar mixture.
2. In a large bowl, cream butter and 3 cups sugar. Mix in eggs, mashed bananas, sour cream, vanilla and cinnamon. Mix in salt, baking soda and flour. Stir in nuts and chocolate chips.
3. Bake for 1 hour, until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Wait until complete cooled to spread a very healthy layer of delicious cream cheese frosting over the cake.
5. Enjoy!

THEE Taco Dip

Cerny family parties are about two things (well three but spending time with the most amazing family is a given 😉 ) cocktails and snacks. There’s always an array of options both in the food and alcohol department and I don’t think our family would have it any other way. In fact, cooking for me really stemmed from watching my grandma Cerny whip up delicious lunches/dinners whenever we’d come for a visit (sometimes both when we’d show up at 10AM and not leave until late at night). Although I’m pretty sure this dip did not come to me via a Cerny, it’s one of my go-to’s especially since i have not met a single folk who doesn’t LOVE it. YUM.

Ingredients:
1 thing of cream cheese slightly softened(neufchatel cheese works great and 33% less fat)
1 container of sour cream (I lighten it up and use low fat)
1 package of taco seasoning
1 bottle of taco sauce
1 bag of lettuce
1 bag of fiesta cheese (or regular cheddar is fine)
2 tomatoes chopped
2 cans of chopped olives
1 bag of tortilla chips (obviously 😉 )

Directions:
Mix cream cheese (neufchatel) and sour cream together while incorporating the taco seasoning. Spread along a 11 x 13 dish, or a round foil pizza pan looking thing (honestly whatever makes about a quarter inch layer is fantastic)
Next, spread the taco sauce atop the first layer, then sprinkle with lettuce, then tomatoes and olives and FINALLY cheese!
Scrumptious and slightly addicting….Enjoy!

English Muffins

I came across this recipe at the beginning of my quest to make homemade breads. I love carbs. Plain and simple. I LOVE English Muffins. Although a tad time consuming, these muffins are completely worth the hassle. I suggest you do it ASAP 🙂


Ingredients:
2¼ cups (10 ounces) unbleached bread flour
½ tablespoon (.25 ounce) granulated sugar
¾ teaspoon (.19 ounce) salt
1¼ teaspoons (.14 ounce) instant yeast
1 tablespoon (.5 ounce) shortening or unsalted butter, at room temperature
¾ to 1 cup (6 to 8 ounces) milk or buttermilk, at room temperature
Cornmeal for dusting

Directions:
1. Stir together the flour, sugar, salt, and yeast in a mixing bowl (or in the bowl of an electric mixer). Stir in (or mix in on low speed with the paddle attachment) the shortening and ¾ cup milk until the ingredients form a ball. If there is still loose flour in the bowl, dribble in some of the remaining ¼ cup milk. The dough should be soft and pliable, not stiff.
2. Sprinkle flour on the counter, transfer the dough to the counter, and begin kneading (or mixing on medium speed with the dough hook). Knead the dough for about 10 minutes (or mix for about 8 minutes), sprinkling in more flour if needed to make a tacky, but not sticky, dough. It should pass the windowpane test and register 77° to 81° degrees F. Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
3. Ferment at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the dough doubles in size.
4. Wipe the counter with a damp cloth and transfer the dough to the counter. Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces of 3 ounces each. Shape the pieces into boules (or round rolls). Line a sheet pan with baking parchment, mist the parchment lightly with spray oil, and dust with cornmeal. Transfer the balls of dough to the sheet pan, spacing them about 3 inches apart. Mist them lightly with spray oil, sprinkle them loosely with cornmeal, and cover the pan loosely with plastic wrap or a towel.
5. Proof at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the pieces nearly double in size and swell both up and out.
6. Heat a skillet or flat griddle to medium (350°F if you have a thermometer setting). Also, preheat the oven to 350°F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
7. Brush the pan or griddle with vegetable oil or mist with spray oil. Uncover the muffin rounds and gently transfer them to the pan, sliding a metal spatula under them and lifting them to the pan. Fill the pan so that the pieces are at least 1 inch apart, not touching. Cover the pieces still on the sheet pan with the plastic wrap or a towel to prevent them from developing a skin. The dough that is being cooked will flatten in the pan and spread slightly, then the pieces will puff somewhat. Cook them for 5 to 8 minutes, or until the bottom of the dough cannot cook any longer without burning. The bottoms should be a rich golden brown; they will brown quickly but will not burn for awhile, so resist the temptation to turn them prematurely or they will fall when you flip them over. Carefully flip the pieces over with the metal spatula and cook on the other side for 5 to 8 minutes in the same manner. Both sides will now be flat. When the dough seems as if it cannot endure any further cooking without burning, transfer the pieces to a sheet pan and place the pan in the oven (don’t wait for the still uncooked pieces, or the ones just out of the pan will cool down and will not respond to the oven stage). Bake for 5 to 8 minutes on the middle shelf in the oven to ensure that the center is baked. Meanwhile, return to the uncooked pieces and cook them, then bake them, as you did the first round.
8. Transfer the baked muffins to a cooling rack and cool for at least 30 minutes before slicing or serving.

Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potatoes

Brussels Sprouts have been popping up on a ton of restaurant menus this past year, mostly sautéed with bacon – ya know, the best way possible 🙂 I was hesitant at first since my last stint with them during my childhood was not a great memory. I also rarely turn down anything with bacon. My experience of restaurant Brussels sprouts have been amazing so why not come up with my own twist, duh.

This is a great go-to side dish and it’s really two in one since the sprouts and the sweet potatoes could be served separately 🙂 Obviously the bacon and gorg cheese can go on both dishes- life’s simple pleasures.

Ingredients:
1 bundle of brussels sprouts
1 shallot
2 – 3 medium sized sweet potatoes
Olive Oil
Sea Salt
Pepper

Optional:

Bacon
Gorgonzola cheese


Directions:
Sauteed chopped shallot over medium heat. Scrubbed clean and with skin on, cut sweet potatoes into bite size….add to the sauteed shallot. While the potatoes begin to cook, trim the brussels sprouts. Once trimmed, add to the sauteed pan. At this time, add salt and pepper to your liking (also feel free to add some additional spices like garlic or thyme). Once the sprouts start browning, transfer mix to baking sheet and put into a 400 degree oven. Cook until potatoes are tender and sprouts are brown and crispy!

If you choose to add in the good stuff (bacon and cheese) pre-bake the bacon in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes (or until crispy). Crumble and put to the side; add bacon and gorgonzola cheese immediately after sprouts/potatoes come out of the oven.

ENJOY!