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Archive for September, 2010

One of my favorite meals from childhood is Pot Roast. You know, the big hunks of meat surrounded by potatoes and carrots, all in a thick gravy. It cooked for hours and made the house smell warm and inviting. I rarely have time to cook meals that take that long, but I still like to make nice meals, so I was excited when I saw this recipe for Pressure Cooker Pot Roast from Cooking Light.

I received a pressure cooker as a gift a year or so ago and used it once to make soup. But frankly, I find it rather intimidating. But I pulled it out for this recipe. And it was pretty good. The beef cooks at High Pressure for 35 minutes, then the vegetables for one. It sounds quick, but it takes a while for the cooker to come to high pressure and to come down from low pressure, but the meat and the vegetables were both very tender (just like I remembered), but the flavor just wasn’t there. I can’t help but think it wasn’t because it cooked quickly, and not for hours in the oven.

But the cool thing is that I’m not longer intimidated by the Pressure Cooker. Okay, maybe just a little bit. That’s  a lot of pressure!

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Wild Rice

A few relaxing days in the beautiful town of Bayfield will do wonders for a stressed out soul. A meal at Wild Rice, located just outside Bayfield, will make it even better. We ate at Wild Rice the first time about six years ago and we’ve been dreaming of going back ever since. Imagine the best restaurant you’ve ever been to. Now imagine it in the north woods, deep in the thick of the forest overlooking Lake Superior with black bears and other wild life wandering by. Imagine a beautiful building, with huge windows, outdoor fireplaces and trees growing between walls. That’s Wild Rice. And I haven’t even told you about the food yet!

We went last Saturday night and we knew we wanted to have the full experience. We left Daughter with the grandparents, and showed up a bit early so we could enjoy a glass of wine in the beautiful bar. I had a glass of Cellar No. 8 Pinot Noir, and Husband had a martini. Shortly after we arrived the bartender delivered a bowl of cheese puffs, tiny cheese puffs, full of flavor and highly addictive.

There were a number of people in the bar, and everyone was friendly and chatting about the black bar that had been rummaging through the dumpster moments before we showed up. One woman even passed around her phone so we could see the photo she took of the rascal.

After we were seated, and had a moment to go through the menu, an Amuse Bouche of Golden Tomato Soup arrived. Just a bite or two and it tasted exactly like a sun-ripened yellow tomato should.

For appetizers we shared the Salmon Carpaccio, which came with truffled potato salad and creme fraiche, and the Mussels with Crawfish, Spinach and Tomato Broth. Both were delightful, but I preferred the Mussels. The tomato sauce was light but just hearty enough for fall.

For my entrée, I chose the Duck Breast served with a Wild Rice Crepe and Butternut Squash Puree. I honestly chose it because of the sides, but the Duck was really, truly amazing. It was perfectly prepared, with a crisp outside and tender inside. The crepe and squash were the perfect combination. Husband ordered a Bison tenderloin, which looked (and tasted, yes, stole a bite) amazing and so perfect for a September meal.

We couldn’t pass on dessert. Even after everything we had eaten. It’s just not possible to drive 4 hours and skip dessert. Husband let me chose, so I picked a platter with a Pots de Creme (heavenly), cinnamon shortbread (sharp and crisp) and a Brownie Bite (fine, but nothing compared to the other two). I was in heaven. We were almost fighting each other for the last bits of the Pots de Creme it was so good.

We rolled out of the restaurant fat and happy. On the way back to our hotel we joked about sending Daughter home with the grandparents and going back there the following night. And the following. And the following. But we didn’t. But we do know we aren’t waiting another six years before we make it back there. If you’re ever in Northern Wisconsin, or even Southern Canada, for that matter, stop by Wild Rice. It’s a treat, a real-live-won’t-dissappoint-you treat.

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Met a friend for a quick lunch out in the Suburbs yesterdat. We went to Kona Grill for Sushi. Not too bad, and  a nice break from a hectic day. What’s your favorite daytime escape?

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I met a couple dear friends for dinner on Monday night at a neighborhood favorite, Al Vento. I’ve been there a number of times for both dinner and brunch and I’m always happy to return. Monday night was no exception and a real treat. Not only was the company fan-tabulous, but the food was absolutely amazing.

We started with two Bruschetta, including the Olive Tapanade and the Sweet Corn Relish. I passed on the Olive option in exchange for more the Corn. And it was a great choice. The corn was so fresh I half expected to see a corn field behind the restaurant. And there was just enough red onion to give it a kick.

For my entree, I chose the Halibut over Cauliflower Corn Risotto with an Heirloom Vinagrette. Again, the corn. And I was so, so happy with my choice. The Halibut was prepared perfectly, crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside and surprisingly hot when it arrived. The rest of the plate accented the fish nicely and I am still dreaming of that Vinagrette today. We passed on dessert, although their tiramasu is just stunning and quite authentic. (I sort of speak from experience…)

It was a lovely meal, with lovely ladies, on a lovely patio, on a lovely fall evening. I wish we could do it every week…. Ah…..

That’s it for me for the week. We’re heading Up North to the South Shore for a few days….  lots of great food up there and you can read all about it next week. Happy Weekend to you!

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This past weekend was absolutely beautiful. The sky was blue, the temperature hovered around 70 degrees and there was no rain in site. On Saturday we went for a bike ride to the playground. On Sunday we took a long walk through Minnehaha Park and stopped at Sea Salt for a scoop of Sebastian Joe’s Ice Cream. But the line was out the door. And we were impatient. So we wandered through more of the park and started heading toward the DQ on the way home. That line was also out the door. And around the building. Oh well, we’re still impatient. But by the time we got home we still wanted ice cream, so I popped into the car (again, why didn’t I take the scooter?) and drove across the river to Izzy’s and picked up two pints  Yum. Izzy’s! I got the Salted Caramel and Chocolate Dulce de Leche. (And did you know they updated the flavors they have available every three minutes!) So not only did we fulfill our ice cream craving, but we also have a stash in the freezer for the next time it hits. Which I’m sure will be soon. Really soon.

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Meatless, Um, Sunday

We made a meatless meal last night because I’m actually going out to dinner tonight with the girls! But I had the recipe and the ingredients, so we just celebrated Meatless Monday a day early. We made Skillet Lasagna from the Food Network. An old friend (who I reconnected with at my 20th high school reunion) sent me the link. It came together very quickly, and then it simmers for 20 minutes to cook the noodles. And it was good, but not great. I really missed the thick, simmered sauce found in a traditional lasagna, and the melding of flavors that happens while a lasagna bakes in the oven. But for a quick, meatless, weekday meal it seemed to work. I think this would be great for kids and I’ll be sharing a bit with Daughter tonight.

Any other meatless ideas for me?

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Now that the weather has turned a bit colder, we turned to this old standby: Lady and the Tramp Spaghetti and Meatballs. It’s versatile (we’ve used ground turkey, beef and bison), comes together quickly (especially when Husband makes the meatballs) and is really, very delicious (add a touch of crushed red pepper). The meatballs are moist and full of flavor and it’s hard to tell that it’s a jarred sauce. With the addition of fresh basil from the garden, it was a a fabulous meal. Oh, and the glass of Pinot Noir didn’t hurt either.

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