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Pumpkin pie granola

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One bite of a pumpkin cheesecake sample at Trader Joe’s last week and my pumpkin spice floodgates burst wide open. I’d been sort of inadvertently avoiding it all fall, but it’s nearly impossible to walk around in fall wonderland of the Midwest and ignore the most potent of fall flavor profiles. And when some quick googling told me I could easily work some pumpkin puree into granola, my path was set.  Read more

Nitro café de olla with Cadence Cold Brew

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It will surprise no one who has ever parented or spent much time taking care of a toddler that coffee is now a significant and important part of my life. I’ve long loved it – the smell, the flavor, the heady ritual of it – but for years caffeinated coffee gave me migraines (yes, you’re right, it really was the worst). Whatever divine spirits there may be in the world appear to have taken pity on me, however, because pregnancy changed something in my brain chemistry and I am now once again able to partake. And partake I do, in volume some days, generally with breakfast and again during Aldo’s midday nap.

So I was particularly excited when Cadence Cold Brew, a new Madison company, expressed an interest in new recipes and ways to use their canned nitro cold brew coffee. We generally make our coffee at home (okay, Brett generally makes our coffee at home – what a guy), but when I treat myself to a coffee drink out in the world, I often seek out nitro cold brew. Cold brew in general is more easy-drinking than regular brewed coffee, and the addition of nitrogen makes it even smoother and silkier, with a slight effervescence akin to beer.

After tasting the three varieties that Cadence offers in cans, I knew immediately what I wanted to do – create a twist on café de olla, a rich, spiced coffee drink traditional to Mexico.

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Grilled corn and poblano salad

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We are finally back in Madison after two months of travel, and we’re trying to soak up every last bit of this summer. Aldo is toddling around like a crazy man, and between running after him and comforting the inevitable bonks and bumps that come with new mobility, we’re focusing on all the joys of late summer in the Midwest – tomatoes, corn, eggplant, peppers, melons, and more tomatoes, and more corn, and more tomatoes, and more corn. Most evenings I cut up a hunk tomato for Aldo with some olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and because he’s in the midst of an ardent tomato strike (not his first), I slurp up the leftover pieces from his plate and don’t think twice about it.

The first weekend we were back we were invited over to a friend’s house for burritos, and we wandered the Capitol market that morning to stock up on summer basics (aforementioned corn and tomatoes) and to grab the supplies for a Mexican-inspired roasted corn and poblano salad. I’m a huge fan of corn salads in the summer and generally go with a raw base, but when I saw the poblanos which I knew I’d want to char and peel, I let the corn follow suit.  Read more

Snap pea, radish, mozzarella salad in Le Parfait (with a wine pairing!)

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On Sunday, I taught my last class before starting my summer hiatus. We have grand travel plans this summer, and who wants to be in a hot kitchen on a beautiful summer evening, anyway? Thinking about summer brings back memories of waddling around a kitchen last summer, hugely pregnant, teaching from a stool and trying to avoid picking up my heavy tubs of equipment and groceries. Ha! So glad that’s not me this time around. Instead, I’ll be cooking over a camp stove, eating dinner from a picnic table, and happily lugging around 22+ pounds of purely adorable baby chub in a hiking pack.

Before we head out on our adventure, I want to share with you a perfect summer recipe from this last class – it doesn’t require any heat, and packs perfectly for picnics or lunches or backyard barbecues. The class was a collaboration with my friends over at Table Wine, with special gifts from the French jar company Le Parfait. We put together a beautiful, summery salad of farmers’ market snap peas and radishes with torn fresh mozzarella, dressed with lemon and sesame and garnished with chive blossoms from Vitruvian Farms, and paired it with a lovely Italian white wine (more on that, below).  Read more

Grilled radicchio with fresh mozzarella and garlic vinaigrette

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Two days ago we came back from a weekend trip to Pennsylvania for a wedding, and – just like that – it’s summer. We’ve eaten every meal since on the porch, and one of our first tasks when we returned was to exchange our long-faulty propane tank and fire up the grill for our standby summer dinner menu – a mess of grilled vegetables, some sort of starch (in this case, a quinoa pilaf), cheese (we do live in Wisconsin, after all), and white wine (Trader Joe’s new boxed sauvignon blanc is actually quite fantastic).

But lately I’ve had that itch – the one that drives me to pick out random things at the grocery store and try something entirely new – and this time it was (among other things) a small round head of radicchio that called out to me. I planned a slaw at first, but a quick perusing of cookbooks during Aldo’s pre-dinner nap led me to grill it in wedges. I made a quick vinaigrette (more on that later) and tossed it all with some fresh mozzarella and herbs, and it was an excellent part of what can otherwise be a fairly standard meal.  Read more