Tag Archives: mac and cheese

His & Hers Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese

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This past weekend, I made an impromptu visit to see my friend Stacy. While there, Stacy was kind enough to help me get my sushi fix!

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I was delighted that my visit included not only going to one of the painting classes with which I’ve been obsessed, but also that it was a fundraiser for Stacy’s daughter’s school.

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There was an excellent turn-out.

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Stacy made painting one-handed look like a breeze. But the cast on her broken arm did make for great shadow entertainment on her canvas. E.T., anyone?

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And a couple of hours and glasses of wine later, this:

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…became this:

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Wait? Who set Stacy’s hand on fire?!!

~

So what’s on tap this week? Well, first I think I should share a dish I made last week with all of you. Because sometimes I get ideas for meals or snacks when people post what they’ve eaten. I’m sharin’ the love. I’ve definitely gotten some great ideas from these gals.

Last week, I made this Bacon and Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese for the first time.  I really wanted to make my husband swooooooon! I knew it was high-cal, so I separated into six servings instead of the suggested 3 – 4. I dished up our meals into his and hers servings:

His was topped with a little extra bacon and blue cheese crumbles. Hers was a slightly smaller portion served over a bed of spinach and topped with chopped tomatoes. The only trouble I had making this dish is that it was really runny. And if there is anything Rob despises, it is a runny sauce! I tried to let it sit, but it was starting to get cold; so I popped it back on the heat and slowly stirred in some corn starch. That seemed to do the trick.

Rob went absolutely nuts over this dish.

He said he’d order it in a restaurant any day and that it’s probably the best mac and cheese he’s ever had! I wouldn’t go that far. It was great, but I’m not a huge bacon-in-my-food lover. Yes, I just said that. I’m an alien to this planet.

I’m trying to incorporate more meals into our routine that Rob will love and just serve smaller portions, rather than trying to make healthy things he gets bored with or just doesn’t want to eat.

We had a couple free plates coming, so we are trying Plated again this week. To read my Plated review, click here. If you want to give it a try yourself, click my referral link, to get two free plates yourself!

Now for this week:

planning

 Food

Dinners:

  • Monday – Fontina Polenta with Roasted Spring Vegetables from Plated.  Meatless Monday! We were originally going to go with the amazing Grilled Cheese concoction with the chickpea-tomato salad, but they were sold out by the time I placed the order. Lesson learned!
  • Tuesday – Lemongrass Pork with Vermicelli Noodles from Plated.
  • Wednesday Beer and Beef Risotto. Hey, I made Rob soooo happy with the Blue Cheese and Bacon Mac & Cheese last week, that I thought I’d go with another combo of things my husband loves: Beer, Beef and Risotto. Crossing our fingers it rocks his world just as much!
  • Thursday – Leftovers
  • Friday – Family in Town
  • Saturday – Family in Town
  • Sunday – Family in Town

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 5, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 5, Day 2
  • Thursday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 5, Day 3
  • Sunday – REST

 What is your favorite twist on Mac and Cheese?

Cheers~
Carrie

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In a Gutter in Green Bay… {Closed}

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So, the Townline isn’t the only eating and drinking establishment that has shown up in my parents’ neighborhood since my move to Minnesota…

We have been to The Gutter a few times…

Okay, so it’s a bowling alley with a bar and restaurant. And it has changed hands a few times. I believe it was called the ProBowl when it first opened. They served food, mostly pizza. As The Gutter, they used to outsource their food to Cranky Pat’s. However, Pat has moved on since {too cranky, perhaps?}; and now the Gutter is serving up delights from its own newly-established menu.

Rob and I like this place because they serve local beers. It was the first time that we had O’So Night Train ON TAP, the beer that my dad. It was no longer available on this past visit, but just look at these draft prices!

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{P.S. I’m making no apologies for my horrible photos in this post. We are in a Gutter, after all.}

We often order the Stone Arch Tilted Kilt Scottish Ale (Appleton, WI) at Townline. But it was at The Gutter that I first discovered the Titletown Green 19 IPA (Green Bay, WI) this past year! As far as I remember, Titletown Brewing Company was the first brewpub in Green Bay. I didn’t even know that they were now producing beer for consumption off premises. I especially like the name of this beer: Any Packer fan can recognize Green 19 as a play call Rodgers yells on Sundays!

But because this visit was over the Christmas holiday and I had never had it before, I tried the Hinterland Winterland (Green Bay, WI). It’s a nice winter ale with just a hint of juniper. Very enjoyable.

Their Winter Warmer drinks and Daily Specials were nothing to scoff at either:

And the descriptions on the new menu were very impressive. So much so, that I had no idea what I wanted! I finally settled on something.

Black Oak Sausage & Gourmet Mac N Cheese Pan Seared Black Oak Sausage with Roasted Pepper an d Onion Cheesy Cheddar Mac 10.99

Black Oak Sausage & Gourmet Mac N Cheese
Pan seared Black Oak Sausage with roasted pepper and Onion Cheesy Cheddar Mac – $10.99

I didn’t love the dish. I think it was the kind of sausage that didn’t suit me. But I liked it enough to eat the leftovers the next day. My favorite part were the added onions for texture and flavor.

But it was way too much food. This huge portion of pasta came with not only a salad, but also the choice of a side. I chose these to share with my husband and dad:

Truffle Fries Fresh Cut Fries Tossed in Truffle Oil, Parmesan Che ese, Parsley, and Served with a Side of our Homemade Alfredo Sauce. P erfect for Dipping! 5.99

Truffle Fries
Fresh cut fries tossed in truffle oil, parmesan cheese, parsley and served with a side of their homemade Alfredo sauce

They weren’t bad, but I didn’t get much truffle flavor as I did the aroma. Plus, it was just too much to eat! The boys each opted for a specialty burger.

The Gutter Burger Brulee Juicy Course Ground USDA Choice Beef. Caramelized w ith our Gutter Spice, Chipotle Bacon Rashers & Smot hered with our Homemade Alfredo. Brulee’d then Topped with Crispy Parmesan 8.99

The Gutter Burger Brulee
Juicy course ground USDA choice beef, caramelized with Gutter Spice, chipotle bacon rashers and smothered with their homemade Alfredo. Brulee’d and then topped with crispy parmesan – $8.99 

Both Rob and my dad loved the flavor of their burgers. It was a unique preparation and combination of toppings that I’d never seen before! Rob said that it was just a pre-formed patty, probably out of the freezer, but that it was seasoned very well. So he wouldn’t have any problem ordering it again, nor the side of tots he got with it.

Moral of the story? Don’t judge. You can get some fancy food in The Gutter.

What kind of gourmet food have you found at a bowling alley?

Cheers~
Carrie

Cooking Like a Homesick Texan – Part 1

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This weekend, knowing I had ample time so I wouldn’t feel rushed, I decided to finally make an attempt to cook from The Homesick Texan Cookbook.

You are probably thinking, What?! She cooks?”

I don’t blame you after all the posts I’ve done about restaurants and dining out. It’s understandable that you might think that I don’t/can’t cook. But that’s just not the case. I’m still quite the novice and I’ve had some absolute disasters in the kitchen {just ask my husband}, but I do like to cook on a semi-regular basis.

I love coming up with wine pairings for all types of cuisine, but for some reason, I decided I wanted to pick up some Coronas instead. It’s summer and we’d be enjoying some Tex-Mex, so I thought it was only natural:

Poblanos ready for roasting, Coronas with lime and The Homesick Texan Cookbook

When it comes to beer, Corona is pretty much the only lager I’ll drink. And it can’t be done sans lime. I’m not so much into light beers either, but I suspected with Corona that it couldn’t make much of a difference. So I decided to do a side-by-side taste test. And I was right; there was no difference. Well, except for the approximately 50 calories per bottle, of course.

Earlier in the week, I asked Rob to thumb through The Homesick Texan and mark any dishes that looked good to him. I had already marked a few myself:

But I wanted him to have first pick of what I’d make. His choices?

Poblano Mac and Cheese

and

Sausage Balls

I told him that the Sausage Balls would have to wait. They are more of an appetizer and the recipe makes 36 balls. Rob is not one for leftovers, so I didn’t want those hanging around the house, or wasted. So, if you invite us to a party anytime soon, let me know if you’d like me to make them!

Still, I did have an idea.

When I was thumbing through the cookbook, I saw recipes for Mexican Chorizo. I can make my own chorizo?!” I thought. I looked at the ingredients and the instructions. It didn’t look too hard. That’s when the idea hit me: Rob loved the Adult Mac & Cheese with chiles and andouille at the Burnsville Ale House. I could add chorizo to this Poblano Mac and Cheese!

I know, I’m just Brilliant. Yes, with a capital B.

I thought these recipes would be a little labor-intensive {for me}, so I picked a night when I didn’t have anything planned to do after dinner. I didn’t want to feel hurried. I wanted to enjoy the cooking experience rather than be stressed out about it.

And I think that in total, without rushing and while taking plenty of sips of my Corona, making dinner from The Homesick Texan probably took me about an hour or so. And if I had made the chorizo in advance, the mac and cheese would have been even easier.

To make the Mexican Green Chorizo {aka Chorizo Verde}, I roasted an extra poblano, but also needed two serrano chiles. Luckily, I got a bunch in our CSA box last week:

CSA hot peppers

Yes, Featherstone Farm said they put “hot peppers” in the CSA box this week. How did I know they were serrano peppers? Well, I wasn’t completely sure. I’ve cooked with serranos before, but they do look very similar to jalapenos. However, they are five times hotter! Luckily, I had a leftover jalapeno from my CSA box the week before to compare:

jalapeno vs. serranos

I am grateful for the food processor I bought last year so I could whir together the roasted poblano, spinach, cilantro, serranos and spices:

spicy paste for green chorizo

All I had to do was mix that with some ground pork and cook it up:

Mexican Green Chorizo

Oh boy! The flavor in this chorizo! Talk about well-seasoned! I just made my own chorizo! Yeehaw!!!

Then I put together everything for the Poblano Mac and Cheese and popped it into the oven:

Poblano Mac and Cheese

When it came out of the oven, I served the Poblano Mac and Cheese with a crumbling of Cojita cheese and some of the Mexican Green Chorizo on the side. This way we could taste the mac and cheese without the chorizo first and then mix it in if we desired.

The Verdict?

I don’t think I’ve ever made anything this flavorful at home! Rob had a second helping later in the evening. I was quite proud of this dish and am excited for leftovers for lunch this week. I didn’t ask Rob how it compared to the Adult Mac & Cheese with andouille and chilies at the Burnsville Ale House. I didn’t want to risk bruising my ego. 😉

My only wish was that this Mac and Cheese was a bit creamier. However, this may have been my fault. Author Lisa Fain of The Homesick Texan recommended to add more milk, a little at a time, if when mixing the sauce, it got too think. I didn’t follow this advice because Rob doesn’t like runny, thin sauces. I decided to refrain. Perhaps if I added a little more milk, it would have been creamier?

Come back tomorrow to find out how I used up the rest of Chorizo Verde. I’d like to give a special shout out to Kat, who sent me the cookbook as a giveaway from her blog. She cooks from the book often and I’m often drooling over her photos. Thanks, Kat!

What new dish have you made lately that made your taste buds sing?

Cheers~
Carrie

Burnsville Ale House – Burnsville {Closed}

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Lately, we’ve been hearing and seeing not-so-great reviews about the Burnsville Ale House, a newer pub-restaurant off Highway 13 in – you guessed it – Burnsville. Quite frankly, we don’t understand it. In fact, we’ve been going there quite often. I was planning to write a post on this place after we’d tried a few more menu items.

However, I think it’s time we set things straight.

And now realize that we have tried quite a few things on the menu! And just so you know that we aren’t getting paid by Burnsville Ale House to write this post, I’m going to include the great and the not-so-great aspects of this joint. You’ll learn why we keep going back.

Over the years, the building that now houses the Burnsville Ale House has changed owners and names several times. However, it has still remained popular with bikers. This time around, the renovation cleaned the place up a bit, but the owners kept with the same layout.

While we do still see bikers walk through the door, it really is a place for everyone. In fact, in this sense, I kind of feel like I’m at the bar in the sitcom Cheers when I’m there. You’ll see people from different walks of life just enjoying a cold pint. We often recognize the same characters seated around the bar time and time again. And if you become a regular, they do learn your name. The first time I told my husband that I felt like I was at the Cheers bar was when someone started to talk to someone else all the way across the bar. Did you ever notice that they did that on the sitcom? Patrons didn’t have to be sitting next to each other to have a conversation!

On our first visit, I was honestly stunned by the number of beers in their selection, or lack thereof. This place is called an ALE HOUSE. The Lyndale Tap House and The Valley Tap House each have more than 25 beers on tap, many of which are craft or microbrews.

Maybe that’s what I expected? Even Burger Jones has more taps and selection than The Burnsville Ale House. If you are going to call yourself in Ale House you need to offer up more than your usual contenders and a couple of specialties.

Still, I decided to give them the benefit of the doubt here. It’s tough to open a restaurant. And having that many taps starting out is expensive and a huge risk. In any case, despite the fact that they may not have a huge number of taps, they do offer a little something from almost every category. And I truly believe that is more important. See, I’ve come around!

Happily, we were surprised to find this on tap here:

A pint of Lucid Cammo – Double Pale Ale {Minnetonka, MN}

We first discovered this Minnetonka, Minnesota craft brew at the Groveland Tap and fell in love. {With the beer, not each other. We were already married at this point. Uh, to each other, not the beer.} This is the first time we’d found the Cammo on tap “South of The River”, and as far as we know Burnsville Ale House is the the only establishment that carries it in the vicinity.

It’s Rob’s go-to beer of choice at the Burnsville Ale House and one of the main reasons the place has kept us coming back. But the Cammo clocks in at 9% alcohol. It’s far too easy for me to have one too many! So when they started to carry another beer brewed by Lucid, I gave it a try. Lucid Air: Unfortunately, the name is accurate. It tastes like air. There is no flavor at all, in my opinion. However, if you like lighter beers, but still want to support the local breweries, this beer may be for you. So, while I prefer to still have a pint of the Lucid Cammo, I’ve been switching over to the nutty Alaskan Amber if I decide to have another.

Join the Tap Team!

Then there’s the food.

The food really surprised us here! Rob, my burger-loving husband, is quite a fan of The Gaspar, although he’s also tried the Bacon Bleu and the Bruschetta Fresh burgers and has been pleased with those as well.

The Gaspar Stuffed with Tillamook cheddar & bacon, topped with caramelized onions $9.95

And while they have been experimenting with the fries, I think they have finally perfected them! These fries are so good that they make Rob’s Top 10 list:

Golden Fries Rather than describe these beauties to you, I’m challenging you to give’ em a try now. I dare you.

Rob also thinks this sandwich is the bomb:

The Bomber – Roast beef, ham, pepperoni, Swiss, Pepper Jack &
giardiniera with shredded lettuce & spicy mayo $10.95

The only sandwich I’ve tried is the Grilled Cheese:

Ultimate Grilled Cheese
Golden-griddled & stuffed with mozzarella cheese,
smoked bacon, tomato & fresh basil $7.95 {sans bacon}

Only I got the bacon on the side:

I like bacon, just not in or on a lot of things. I know… I’m the strangest person on the planet because of this.

So this is my Semi-Ultimate Grilled Cheese with tomato and basil only:

That cheese was so ooey-gooey that I really did want Rob to take a picture of me taking a bite, but the moment was lost…

Speaking of cheese, the only thing that sounded good to me one night we were there was a cheese plate. I didn’t have high expectations because, after all, this is a sports bar kinda place. We joked after ordering this Meat & Cheese Plate, that I’d just be served some slices deli meat and cheese plopped on a plate, like something you’d find at Cub Foods.

And that’s exactly what I got:

Meat & Cheese Plate
An array of deli meats & cheeses
served with garlic bread $7.95

For only $7.95, what did I expect?!

At least my expectations weren’t high. I wasn’t that hungry anyway, so I made a couple mini-sandwiches with the cheese, deli meat, and garlic bread. But by now, I know you are wondering when I’ve ever been able to eat healthy at the Burnsville Ale House. Well, I recently tried the Caprese Salad:

Fresh Salad Caprese
Fresh mozzarella with sliced tomato
& fresh basil, drizzled with herb-garlic
vinaigrette $9.25

YES! This is what I’m talking about! It’s not your traditional Caprese Salad, but light and refreshing. It was exactly what I was in the mood for that day. The flavors were great, not just some tomatoes and mozzarella atop a bed of greens. I hadn’t read the menu carefully, so I didn’t know that this salad was actually dressed with an herb-garlic vinaigrette. After several bites, the flavors became a little overwhelming, but not so much that I couldn’t finish it! I will just make sure to order the dressing on the side next time so I can control my desired amount. Yes, you heard that… I will order it again! That mozzarella was oh-so-fresh and had me flabbergasted why that did not end up on the cheese plate!

And something I would have never ordered, but was recommended:

Meatloaf Sliders
Topped with Guinness
caramelized onions & gravy $8.25

I’m so glad they were recommended! They were meaty, juicy and flavorful. They didn’t even need the gravy. They are definitely an item to order again.

Other Menu Items:

We didn’t take photos of everything. But here’s our take on some other items…

  • The Mad Dog {Annie’s Secret Recipe} “Beefy, cheesy delicious-ness on a hot dog bun!” $3.95
    • Was it wrong of me to assume that this was a hot dog? It’s not. It’s slop on a hot dog bun. I found it kind of disgusting. It seemed like something I might have thought about eating after-bar in college. But even that’s pushing it. I think I’d stick to pizza.
    • But maybe it’d make great hangover food? If you test it out, let me know.
  • Reuben Pizza Corned beef, 1000 Island, sauerkraut, Swiss & Mozzarella.10”/$13.95 ~ 16”/$17.95
    • Rob’s favorite Reuben Pizza is at The Roasted Pear in Burnsville. O’Sullivan’s in Gladwin, Michigan, makes a decent one, too.
    • Rob said said the Burnsville Ale House Reuben Pizza was just okay. He didn’t care for the crust. There are so many other things he’d rather eat here.
    • It’s overpriced. A ten-inch pizza for $14? A full-sized one at the Pear is $13.50. $18 is a lot for a 16″ mediocre pizza. We’re not talking gourmet here. This is no Pizza Lucé.
  • Adult Mac & CheeseServed with garlic toast. Macaroni with housemade cheese sauce. $9.95 Try it with green chilies & Andouille sausage for $1 more
    • Rob loves this Mac & Cheese when he adds the mild green chilies and spicy andouille sausage, giving it an extra kick.
    • He says it’s the best he’s had in Minnesota and possibly the best he’s ever had.
  • NachosLoaded with pepper jack cheese, shredded lettuce, fresh pico de gallo, sour cream & choice of red or green house-made salsa $9.95 Add Black Beans or Beef for $1
    • I see people around the bar ordering these all of the time! It must be the type of food  one instinctively thinks about ordering when at bar-restaurant like this. After all, nachos have become a regular part of any American restaurant menu.
  • QuesadillasThese are not on the menu, but they need to be!
    • A few months ago, chicken quesadillas were a special. They were excellent.I don’t know if the chicken was marinated in lime and cilantro, but those kind of fresh flavors were there. They need to go on the permanent menu. Like right now.

Speaking of quesadillas, one time, I decided to order the Traditional Tacos

Traditional Tacos
Ground beef stuffed in choice of hard or
soft shell with lettuce, tomato & choice of red
or green salsa & a side of black beans {not shown} $8.95

I ordered the hard shell tacos just because I prefer corn tortillas to flour. However, they do their hard shell tacos a bit differently here. I didn’t realize it until they came out. They fry their own tortillas to create the hard shell. If you’ve never had a taco this way, it makes all the difference in the world.

When Rob bit into that taco, his eyes lit up. He loved it so much that he said he’d never get a burger at Burnsville Ale House again. My husband not get a burger at a place where he loves them? What is this world coming to?

We’ll just see if he holds to that. 😉 While I love the green salsa, Rob prefers the red because it’s spicier. I tried it and tasted a hint of smokiness, perhaps it is made with chipotle in adobo.

And if you expect cheese on your tacos, don’t order them here. Can you believe that the first time I had these that I didn’t even notice that there was no cheese? It’s only when Rob ordered them the next time, that he pointed out this detail. This stereotypically cheese-loving Wisconsin girl didn’t even miss it. That’s how good the flavor of these tacos is here. If you really want cheese, I’m sure you could ask to add some. But truthfully, cheese is not needed. I can’t believe I just said that.

Service and Ambiance

We love the service here. It is attentive, but not overly fake. They know when to just leave you alone. It feels like a bar – like it should. But the bartenders do remember you if you visit regularly. The ambiance varies by time of day, so be sure to go at a time that suits your mood. An early weekend afternoon or Happy Hour might give you that Cheers vibe. The patio is very relaxed and perfect when the weather is great. If you got on Saturday night for live music, it’ll be much busier and loud, but you’ll be able to find a nice place to sit and relax.

No matter what, Rob tells his friends that this place is worth for a stop for a pint of Lucid Camo and an order of tacos. I wouldn’t disagree with him. 😉

Do you have a Cheers bar in your neighborhood?

If so, what do you like most about it?

Cheers~
Carrie