Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Pudding Shots

So the story of pudding shots (think Jell-O shots but made with pudding) goes back to a few weeks ago, when Nate, my parents and I were on a motorcycle trip around southwest Wisconsin. We stopped at a bar in a very tiny town (Gratiot, WI, to be exact) for a drink before heading back to our homebase for the weekend.

We all ordered beers, and in addition to those beers, the bartenders gave us little cups of what looked like frozen yogurt. It turns out, they were pudding shots--little alcoholic desserts made with four simple ingredients: pudding, schnapps or Pucker, milk and Cool Whip.

The ones they gave us first were strawberry or raspberry (really can't remember, and that has nothing to do with drinking) and delicious! I thought they tasted like taffy. We another one--one with a chocolate pudding base, I believe--which was equally good. The bartender kindly shared the recipe, and Nate and I knew we'd be making them someday soon.

That day came last weekend, when Nate and I went to that cookout in which we took the roasted corn salsa. We thought it would be a good opportunity to try making them.

Nate couldn't find Pucker at the liquor store he stopped at, so he got a bottle of watermelon schnapps, which worked out just fine. They're so easy to make--the hardest part is finding appropriate popsicle sticks for them!

Pudding shots

  • 1 cup milk

  • 8 oz. Cool Whip

  • 3/4 cup schnapps or Pucker

  • 1 small package pudding (they told use to use white chocolate, which I couldn't find, so I picked up cheesecake pudding)

Put everything in a large bowl and whisk (don't stir with a spoon!) everything together. The mixture will be chunky at first, but keep whisking--it gets very smooth.

Pour into small plastic or paper cups, place some type of popsicle stick in the center (we used toothpicks and broken plastic spoons) and freeze overnight.

These were also a hit at the cookout, and everyone was talking about the different flavors you could try--chocolate pudding and creme de menthe was a popular idea.

Roasted Corn Salad

I'm not quite sure how I ended up there, but I can tell you it started while I was perusing the JSOnline's food page. The picture of the black bean tacos/burritos with rice caught my eye, and before I knew it, I was deciding to make the roasted corn salad that's on this page for a cookout last week.

The recipe was really easy, and I followed it exactly--everything sounded good to me! You could do a lot of different things with it--make it more spicy, add some chipotle flavor, use fresh corn rather than frozen--which is nice.

The dressing was nice and light--I'd make that again for regular dinner salads.

It was a hit at the cookout, and tasted great even leftover. I call that a success!

Grilled Quesadillas

I've been CRAVING quesadillas, so I decided to put them on last week's menu. We thought we'd try something new and a little different, but something that made complete sense--cook them on the grill, rather than in a skillet. It turned out to be a great idea!

While the way we usually make quesadillas is very good, it was fun to try something different. We also used smaller tortillas (I know I once mentioned I'd never buy tortillas again, but I caved and picked up a package of fantastic La Tortilla Factory white corn tortillas at Outpost. When I don't make my own, these are definitely the ones I would buy), a little less cheese and didn't pile tons of ingredients on them.

I'd try to tell you exactly what we used and what we did, but we really kind of made it up as we went. But here is a general idea of how to make grilled quesadillas:

  • Package of 8 tortillas

  • 1 chicken breast

  • A couple small sweet peppers, chopped

  • About 1/4 of a red onion, chopped

  • Jalapeno(s) to your taste, chopped

  • Mixture of spices: garlic powder, garlic salt, pepper, salt, coriander, cumin, chili powder, etc.

  • Shredded cheese

Preheat grill on medium-high heat. Turn to medium-low when ready too cook.

Meanwhile, cook chicken in a skillet on the stove top with peppers and onion until chicken is done and vegetables are tender.

Using a cookie sheet or tray, place four tortillas on the tray. Sprinkle cheese on each tortilla, and top with chicken mixture. Top with more cheese and the other tortilla. This way you'll have the quesadillas ready to place on the grill.

Place on the grill and cook until cheese melts and tortillas are brown and a bit crispy.

Do your best to flip them over and cook until tortilla looks the same.

That's it! It went A LOT quicker doing it this way, and they tasted just as good, if not better. We served ours with some spiced-up black beans and guacamole and chips. Yum!

Monday, July 11, 2011

Restaurant Review: Jalapeno Loco

Nate's sister and a friend were in town last week and staying at a hotel near the airport. We wanted to meet up for dinner, and I figured this would be a great time to check out a place I've heard only good things about: Jalapeno Loco, right across the street from the airport. Over the years, I've heard many people say how good the food is and how authentic the dishes are. I knew I'd like it.

They of course started us off with some chips and salsa, which were both good. The salsa wasn't as spicy as I would have liked, but it was a good all-around salsa.

For entrees, Nate ordered something we made while we were in Mexico: chiles en nogada. It was really good, but it's hard to follow up when the last time you had it, you were in the local land! It was good though, and I'd order it next time we went. My only complaint was that the sauce wasn't as thick and creamy as it seems it should be.

For my entree, I ordered the Oaxacan mole in a chicken tamale, wrapped in banana leaves. The dish came with two huge tamales and a bowl of black beans. The tamale and mole was delicious. I would definitely want to go back and try one of their other moles. The black beans were just OK--now, I LOVE black beans, but these were pretty plain.

Overall, we had a good experience, and I'd go back. It probably wouldn't be my go-to Mexican restaurant, but I'm always willing to try new-to-me places.

Chipotle Beer-Can Chicken

We've always wanted to make beer-can chicken, but for some reason never have ... until now. We were going to just pick an ol' can of beer and create a spice rub, but then, coincidentally, my mom gave Nate a small cookbook, Cooking With Beer (a PIL Cookbook), she picked up while checking out groceries. And what do you know, the book contains not one but TWO beer-can chicken recipes.

We decided to go with the Chipotle Spice Rubbed Beer-Can Chicken one because we had everything in-house already. The recipe was super easy, and Nate seemed to have an easy enough time getting the chicken situated on the grill.

  • 2 Tbs. packed light brown sugar

  • 2 teas. smoked paprika

  • 2 teas. ground cumin

  • 1 teas. salt

  • 1 teas. garlic powder

  • 1 teas. chili powder

  • 1/2 teas. ground chipotle powder

  • 1 whole chicken (3.5-4 lbs.)

  • 1 can beer (12 oz.)

  • (not part of the actual recipe: 1/4 of an onion)

Prepare grill for indirect grilling. Grease grid.

Combine all spices and sugar in a small bowl. Gently loosen skin of chicken over breast, legs and thighs. Rub mixture under and over skin and inside cavity. Discard (or drink!) one fourth of beer or reserve for another use. Hold chicken upright with cavity pointing down; insert beer into cavity. Put onion in neck to seal in juices.

Place chicken on prepared grid, standing upright on can. Spread legs slightly for support. Cover and cook 1.25 hours or until chicken is tender and cooked through.

Lift chicken off beer can using metal tongs. Let rest on cutting board 5 minutes, standing up. Carefully remove beer can and discard. Slice chicken.

The chicken was soooo juicy, it was delicious. The spice rub was great, too, and you could really do anything you want with it.

We served the chicken with a side salad and some pan-fried potatoes. It was a great Fourth of July meal!

Restaurant Review: INdustri Cafe

Before having dinner there a few weeks ago, I had been to INdustri Cafe twice--once for drinks with friends and another time for an MKE Foodies tweetup, where we sampled a few (too few, in my opinion ...) appetizers. When a Groupon came around for the restaurant a few months ago, I bought once because I knew we wanted to check it out.

We went on a Friday night, the day the Groupon actually expired (I have to watch these things a little more carefully ...). I thought the place might be packed, but it wasn't crowded at all--but on a Friday night in the summer in Milwaukee (and the first Friday of Summerfest), I guess it wasn't too big of a surprise.

Neither of us were starving, so we didn't have an appetizer, but we had already decided we would be ordered dessert. So to start out, we just had some beers--the restaurant has some great local beers on tap, including some from Capital Brewery and Potosi (where, coincidentally, we just were a few weeks ago and where our waiter was from!).

For entrees , Nate decided on the braised angus short ribs served with a golden raisin and wilted rainbow chard Israeli couscous. The meat was incredibly tender and delicious.

For my entree, I went with one of the day's special: a whole fried snapper with a peanut sauce (that was the hook!) and garlic scapes and a side of fried rice. It was my first time eating a whole fish like that (although Nate's ordered it before, and I've had a few bites). I'm not going to lie, it weirded me out a bit, but maaaaaaan was it delicious! We both agreed the flavor would be even better if it hadn't been fried, but nonetheless, it was fantastic. The fried rice was, too. (Sorry for the blurry picture!)

For dessert, we split the whiskey mini apple cobbler with salted caramel gelato. It had the taste and texture of warm granola or oatmeal, but much sweeter. I thought it was delicious while Nate thought it was OK. We agreed on one thing, though--it would have been even better if the apples did not have peel on them.

Overall, we had a great experience--good service, good beer selection and great food--and I know we'll be back.