A blog about all the things we love, regardless of how uncool they are.

Cream Puffs: The taste of a Wisconsin summer

Posted: June 27th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Recipes | Tags: | Comments: Dork out with us! »

Every summer, it is tradition for Wisconsinites to flock to the Wisconsin State Fair in Milwaukee to get their hands on the famous cream puffs. Folks wait in line for nearly an hour to taste the softball-sized whipped cream sandwiches, and when it’s all over, wait another year before they can have another delicious cream puff.

When our CSA basket arrived last week with a beautiful carton of fresh strawberries, I immediately thought: strawberry shortcake. I searched through stacks of cookbooks for the perfect cake to accompany my new berries. Angel food cake: who has 14 eggs lying around? Pound cake: too heavy. Scones: too messy. Imagine my surprise and delight when I came across this recipe for cream puffs in the old faithful Better Homes & Gardens cookbook. Turns out, they’re super easy to make and only require a few basic ingredients. I made all 12, gave 6 to a friend, and froze the 4 that were left for another day. Delicious!

(taken directly from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook, Meredith Publishing Group, 1996. )

1 c water
1/2 c butter
1/8 tsp salt
1 c all-purpose flour
4 eggs
whipping cream, pudding, or ice cream
Powdered sugar (optional)

1. In a medium saucepan combine water, butter, and salt. Bring to boiling. Add flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook and stir until mixture forms a ball. Remove from heat. Cool for 10 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well with a wooden spoon after each addition.

2. Drop 12 heaping tablespoons of dough onto a greased baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes in a 400 degree oven until golden and firm. Transfer cream puffs to a wire rack and let cool.

3. Cut tops from puffs; remove soft dough from inside. Fill with whipped cream, pudding, or ice cream. Replace tops. If desired, sift powdered sugar over tops.

Makes 12 cream puffs

Best. Labor. Day. Ever.

Posted: September 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Life, Pittsburgh | Tags: | Comments: 1 Other Dork »

Soooooo…… I actually did quite a bit of labor this past Labor Day, but honestly I would be perfectly happy working that much every day of my life if I was always able to take an afternoon break to head over to RIB FEST!

It all started when we were having dinner with our friends, Chris and Lauren, on Saturday evening. At some point in the conversation, Lauren casually mentions that there was “some rib fest” going on over at Heinz Field, home of the Steelers. I couldn’t tell you what Lauren said after that, as I temporarily lost consciousness while envisioning myself with a face covered in barbecue sauce and a pile of rib bones in front of me. If there’s one thing that my father and my Texas roots imparted on me, it is a deep appreciation for meat cooked low and slow and slathered in barbecue sauce. As soon as I came back around, I asked Lauren to tell me everything she knew about this “rib fest” event, and we soon made a plan to attend on Labor Day afternoon. For the next 2 days, all I really thought about was ribs.

As the big event grew closer, I started getting really scared that I was going to be massively disappointed by Rib Fest. What if the food was terrible? What if it was just some run-of-the-mill carnival vendors masquerading as rib experts? What if there were only a few vendors to choose from? However, as we walked in to the stadium grounds, all of those fears were immediately quelled. What we saw were about a dozen rib vendors from all over the country with larger-than-life displays showcasing their trophies and awards from all of the competitions they had participated in and won. And all of them were grilling off ribs 8 racks at a time. It was truly a thing of beauty.

You can see all of the different ribs that we tried above – from 8 vendors in all, with my personal favorites being from a group out of North Carolina. It was also a special treat to get to eat some sausage from a group out of Fort Worth, Texas. However, the wait for those particular ribs and sausage was well over the 90 minute mark – the only bad thing about Rib Fest. The lines were definitely a huge drag, but we made the best of it and would usually split into groups of two and conquer two lines at a time, buying enough for everyone to try. Prices were pretty reasonable – about  $12 for a half rack. All of the ribs we tried we delicious and surprisingly different from each other. Add some baked beans, potato salad, corn bread, and cheese fries and we were all in hog heaven!

We had an absolutely fantastic time at Rib Fest. I’ve always wanted to go to some sort of cookoff like this – be it chili, pies, or barbecue. You better believe that this won’t be our last!

Things we’ll miss about Milwaukee #4 – Sprecher Sodas

Posted: September 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Milwaukee, Uncategorized | Tags: | Comments: 1 Other Dork »

Over the past several years I’ve really grown to love root beer. Being that I don’t drink beer beer, it’s nice to have this drink that people still put some effort in to adding their own personal touch to. It’s always fun to go to a different city or different bar and have the opportunity to try their root beer offering.

That being said, Milwaukee’s Sprecher Brewery has the best root beer I’ve ever tasted, hands down. I won’t go in to any adjective-riddled descriptions of its taste, but just know that it is incredibly delicious. And if you live in Milwaukee, you can pick it up at almost every grocery store and most restaurants. The Sprecher line also includes Cream Soda, Puma Cola (two of my other favorites), Lo-Cal Root Beer (Emma’s fave), Orange Dream, Ravin’ Red, Ginger Ale, and Cherry Cola.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I will really miss my daily Sprecher – so much so that I have tried to postpone the inevitable withdrawal by bringing a total of 12 4-packs of Sprecher soda with me to Pittsburgh. Sprecher Brewery does offer shipping of their sodas anywhere, but it’s a little cost prohibitive. However, if anyone cares to send me a house-warming package here in Pittsburgh, I will certainly not turn the delivery man away!

The only thing that I can say negatively about these sodas is that I really can’t stand their packaging. I always thought it would be a fun project to redesign their packaging, as I think they could do a much better job of conveying how fantastic their product is through the packaging. It’s on my list of projects I would love to tackle some day, so who knows – maybe I’ll work it out one day and sell it for a lifetime supply of root beer!

Things we’ll miss about Milwaukee #3 – Bombay Sweets

Posted: August 22nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Milwaukee | Tags: | Comments: 2 Other Dorks »

My absolute favorite way to find a new restaurant is through word of mouth. Usually, if someone goes out of the way to tell you about a hole-in-the-wall restaurant that would never grab your attention otherwise, you know you’re in for something special. One such recommendation came to us last Christmas Eve. We were at the annual Niesl Christmas party, talking about our house and our neighborhood with Emma’s cousin, when we brought up the topic of restaurants in the area. He told us that we HAVE to make our way over to Bombay Sweets for lunch sometime.

Boy, I am so grateful for that recommendation. This restaurant has become one of our favorite places in town. It’s all vegetarian, and, just as Miguel had told us, is cooked by two or three women back in he kitchen and served to you on disposable plates. It’s absolutely no frills, the way it should be, and all of the food has real soul. Oh, and did I mention that it’s dirt cheap? I haven’t had anything there that wasn’t outstanding. We recommend Roti Sabji, Samosa Chaat, or the Vegetable Korma. But honestly, my absolute favorite thing that they serve is their chai tea. Perfectly spiced and sweetened, it never fails to hit the spot. I could sit in that quiet restaurant every day with a cup of tea, watching the world go by, and be perfectly content.

Beyond the food on the menu, they also have several cases of snacks and sweet cakes and desserts. It has been awesome this year to get to try a sweet after lunch and make our way through much of what’s available. Emma and I have discovered that we have very different taste in the desserts – her preferring many of the cakes, while I prefer the overly-sweet things that have been drowned in honey.

Things we’ll miss about Milwaukee #2: Cafe Lulu

Posted: August 4th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Food, Milwaukee | Tags: , , , , , , | Comments: Dork out with us! »

Yes, yes…many of the things we’ll miss about Milwaukee will undoubtedly be related to food. I guess that’s because 1) we love food, and 2) there’s a lot of great food in this town! We live near Bay View, an up-and-coming, hip-and-cool area just south of downtown Milwaukee. Bay View is filled with lots of nifty little shops, restaurants, bars and cafes, and it keeps getting better with every passing season. Every business is bursting with personality, from Sven’s cafe – a divey little coffee shop with great sandwiches and mismatched tables and chairs – to Tease, the salon where we always go when we need a never-fail haircut from our fave hair-dresser extraordinaire, Betsy.  So without further ado, we’d like to talk about one of our favorite spots in downtown Bay View: Cafe Lulu at the intersections of Lincoln, Kinnickinnic and Howell Avenues.

Now, I must preface this with saying that Cafe Lulu does pride themselves on the “bar and cocktails” part of their fine establishment, but since we are non-alcohol-drinkers, we’re just going to focus on their fantastically delicious food. Serving mainly sandwiches and salads, and some really awesome ciabatta pizzas, the menu items are creative and fun, and the specials are always awesome. How does this sound: Spanish White Bean Spread for an app, Morrocan Chicken Sandwich for lunch, and a fresh slice of cheesecake for dessert. And the best part about getting a sandwich here is the sides – “chips, Asian slaw or a little of both?” The Asian slaw is ABSOLUTELY TO DIE FOR and the chips are served with yummy bleu cheese dressing – so I suggest going with “a little of both”.

You know how you become a regular at a certain restaurant, and even though you know nearly everything on the menu is going to be delicious, you always get the same thing? Well that’s how I am with Cafe Lulu’s East Indian Chicken Pita (and I always get  it with a healthy portion of Asian slaw on the side). The pita is topped with a serious helping of lime-cilantro marinated onions and this really great yogurt sauce. I usually come out with a pretty strong case of onion breath, but it’s totally worth it, every last bite of it!