Friday, December 27, 2013

Little Blessings: Grateful for 2013

It’s nearly 2014. 
How on earth did that happen? 

It seems like just yesterday, it was 1998. We were naïve young newlyweds whose eyes were blinded by love and filled with hope for an unknown future.

Now, 15 years later, we still feel like newlyweds. Our dreams are still big, and we still carry that burning blaze of hope in our hearts.

What that means is that, here in 2013, we’ve got an awful lot to be grateful for.

Here’s our top ten list, in no particular order.

LITTLE BLESSINGS:  We’re thankful for friendly smiles, foraged ramps gathered and made into pesto in the spring, the flowers and wine friends bring to dinner, the joy of being together and stolen time used to can tomatillo salsa.

AMAZING FRIENDS AND FAMILY: We are indebted to all the people who’ve supported us, cheered us on, and held us up as we’ve taken on any number of crazy projects (see below). We’re especially grateful for the prayers. And the love. And yes – the big hugs that came when we needed them most. You all know who you are.

BUTTERY GOODNESS: Our hands are still greasy, thanks to a renewed contract for recipe development with the American Butter Institute. Currently, we’re working on perfecting recipes for weeknight chicken and dumplings and homemade granola bars.

HEALING: A nasty fall down the basement stairs in June had Paul in a cast for nearly 12 weeks this summer. Grateful he healed well and no surgery was necessary. Also super grateful for our lovely neighbor who mowed the lawn ALL summer! Thank you so much, Doug!

CHEESE COMAS: After getting a great deal on cheese at the American Cheese Society Conference in July (Paul’s bum ankle in tow), we threw an amazing cheese tasting party featuring over 50 different cheeses made in the U.S. Grateful for the opportunity to indulge our senses in all that fromage, and thankful for all the brave friends who joined in on the fun and helped us put a dent in 60 pounds of delicious dairy.

GENEROUS PEOPLE: We’re keenly aware that every one of us has the power to make a real difference in the world. But, we were blessed this year to see what happens when people work together for good. Our food-focused social organization, MKEfoodies, raised $8100 at this year’s holiday bake sale to benefit the organization, Cookies for Kids’ Cancer. And we’re grateful to everyone who so generously traded their resources for boxes of sugary treats.

COCKTAIL WEEK:  We were privileged to be one of the organizations at the helm of Milwaukee’s first ever Cocktail Week this past September.  It was a whirlwind of great food and artful cocktails. And it made us proud of our city and the talent harbored here – both in the food and cocktail industries.

ENTREPRENEURSHIP: We were blessed with the resources (including two investors) to launch our very own company, which we named From Milwaukee with Love.  The web site launched on December 1, and we now spend our free time shipping awesome little boxes of love (artisan foods made here in Milwaukee) across the country.  Visit us at

A POTENTIAL BOOK DEAL: Thanks to all of her freelancing, Lori landed her first ever book offer from a small indie publisher in South Carolina. They’d like her to pen a book about the food scene in Milwaukee. Only time will tell if she’ll take them up on it. But, it’s still pretty awesome.

HEALTH AND HAPPINESS: Despite working five jobs (literally), and getting very little sleep, we’re both still sane and walking upright. We have three lovely furballs who warm our feet at night. And a little gingerbread house that keeps us warm and dry.

ALL OF YOU: Thanks to all of you who kept on reading this year, despite the fact that our blogging came in fits and spurts. You've been the heart of what we do -- and the inspiration for us to continue in 2014.

Wishing you the best of the best in 2014!


Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Cookie Ideas

Gosh, time flies! Christmas is right around the corner, but there's still time to do a bit of baking (at least we sure hope there is, since we're a bit behind this year).  
If you're looking for great recipes, here are a couple of our very favorites, along with a couple of links where you can find some of the most delicious holiday treats around.
This crisp flaky cookie is filled with cinnamon, sugar and nuts -- and rolled in powdered sugar. 
So good -- they melt in your mouth.

If you love chewy old fashioned molasses cookies, these are a great go-to recipe. And they're
super easy, since you don't need to soften the butter before mixing up the recipe!

And you can find even more over on the Go Bold With Butter Pinterest Page.

OR in the brand new Holiday Cookies Recipe e-Book.

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Monday, December 2, 2013

Three Awesome Gift Picks for Cooks

I'm not sure if we've ever done a gift guide here on Burp!  But, it occurred to me that I love reading other people's ideas for what makes a great gift, so maybe the same was true for each of you.

Here are a few of my favorite tried-and-true gift ideas. I own every single one of them, and I'd buy them ALL over again.

Looking for a little last minute stocking stuffer for the creative cook in your life? A hostess gift? You really needn't look further than this handy set of recipe dice from Leafcutter Designs, an amazing little company that makes really cool stuff from eco-friendly materials. These adorable dice feature over 70 ingredients that can be used in recipes.
Just roll the dice, pick up the fresh products at the grocery store or farmer's market, and get to cooking. It's just $16 and it also comes in a vegetarian version. If you ask us, that's some of the cheapest cooking inspiration you can find!  Check them out.

On the other hand, a not-so-cheap, but oh-so-worth-it find is the Thermapen.  It's the perfect gift -- because who wants to spend almost $100 on a thermometer for themselves? 

If you have ever sat -- impatiently -- with your meat thermometer poking out of a roast while waiting for it to register the temperature, only to find that it never seems to give you an appropriate reading, this is for you.

If you frequently burn yourself trying to take a temperature reading on foods that are cooking on your grill, this is the perfect solution.

The fact is, Thermapen is hot stuff. Originally designed for commercial kitchens and labs, this little work-horse gives you an accurate temperature reading in 3 seconds flat. It doubles as a candy thermometer (so you don't need two types hanging around). It's also water resistent, it comes in pretty colors, and it's super easy to use. Oh -- and the battery life is 1500+ hours. So, unless you're poking meat for a living, it should last you a good long time!  

I got one of these fancy little buggers for Peef last year on his birthday, and I can't tell you the sort of happy dances he's been doing ever since.  So, this is also the perfect "man gift."  Well worth the $96.

You wouldn't think a cherry and olive pitter would make such a huge difference in a cook's life. But, a good one really does.  The OXO Good Grips pitter works like an absolute charm. 

It plows through pounds of Door County cherries in no time, and it does its best to keep hand-fatigue at a minimum. It also features a splatter guard to keep juice from spraying everywhere.

As for olives, you can thank your lucky stars that you'll never have to buy those mushy pre-pitted Mediteranean olives again.

For just $13, you really can't go wrong.

We're linking out to web sites where you can get more information (or order) these items.  But, please remember -- whenever possible -- buy your gifts from local, independently owned shops!  It really makes a difference for those businesses. AND it keeps money in your local economy.


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Local Shout Out: Taste of Home Annual Recipes 2014

We try not to spend too much time hocking products on the blog. After all, that's not why you're here. Right?

But, every now and again we want to give a shout-out to a local company like Taste of Home.

Did you know they were in Wisconsin?

Yup -- they've got a cooking school and test kitchen right here in Greendale, Wisconsin. In fact, Reiman, the original publisher, founded the magazine right here just minutes outside of Milwaukee. The publication has since been taken over by Readers' Digest, but the headquarters remains intact.

Now, Taste of Home is unique because it's based on recipes created by regular old human beings. People with kids. Families. Day jobs... at least I think some of them have day jobs.

But, all of the recipes have been tested. In fact, the expert staff in Taste of Home's Test Kitchen test 8,000+ recipes every year. Can you even imagine?

Of that 8,000 just over 500 made the cut for this year's annual recipe collection. So, my guess is that you can be pretty certain that the recipes are tasty, accurate, and easy to pull together.

They're running a promo right now through which you can preview the book for 30 days for free before buying it (for $19.95 plus s/h), which doesn't seem like such a bad deal. After all, maybe you want to check it out to see if it would be the perfect Christmas gift for your mother-in-law, your sister... or... yourself!  We won't judge.

Here's the link.

And here's a bit more about the book.

The book is diverse in its offerings -- including selections of appetizers, main dishes, sides, soups, salads, and desserts. There are also special chapters for quick fixes, mom's best meals, weeknight solutions, holiday celebrations, cooking lighter and potluck pleasers.

Here's just a sample of what you'll find.

And there are more in the book that you can't just find online... like Tuscan Roasted Asparagus and Mango Pork Roast.

Yeah, I'm drooling now too.
It's a little close to dinner time.


Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Spirited Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal

Peef is generally in charge of breakfast at our house. He makes a pretty mean pancake, loves bacon, and knows his way around a pot of oatmeal. So, he can generally pull off a pretty good morning meal.

But, some mornings he pulls out all the stops. This past Saturday was one of those days.

I was sitting in the other room pulling together an article for and Paul was shuffling around in the kitchen.

I heard the clatter of a few dishes, the rubbery vaccuum sound of the refrigerator door, and the metallic tinging of spoon against stainless steel saucepan.

It wouldn't have been difficult to guess that he was making oatmeal. But, without a drop of milk in the house, I wasn't exactly sure how he was going about it.

Turns out he was getting creative with the quart of Sassy Cow Pumpkin Spice eggnog we bought at the co-op the other day (we have this inane compulsion with eggnog that means we buy it from the very first moment we see it available in the store until the mysterious moment in January when it disappears).

But, I didn't know that until he brought me a bowl of the most ultra-creamy deliciously spicy oatmeal I've ever eaten.  On top of everything, he'd finished it off with a glug of pumpkin spirits from our own local Great Lakes Distillery.

Some people drink bloody Marys in the morning... we just eat spiked oatmeal ;)

In case you can't find the Sassy Cow Pumpkin eggnog where you live, here's a version of the recipe using a bit of pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spices. And yes, it's just as good.

Spirited Spiced Pumpkin Oatmeal


Thursday, October 24, 2013

Self Doubt in Recipe Development: Or the story of how I won an iPad

A really beautiful thing happened to me at the end of September. I won second place in a recipe contest. But, wow - it was a big surprise. Especially since it happened right as I thought I was losing my "touch" with regard to recipe development.

The contest was sponsored by Hodgson Mill. It was called "Summer Pastabilities," and it was a project I took on because I was going through a pretty fallow period in the kitchen and I needed something to get my creative juices flowing again.

I can't say the process was easy. In fact, I had a number of moments when I wondered what right I had to be entering any sort of recipe contest. I felt like I'd lost every modicum of inspiration I'd ever had.

All told, the original recipe I created was alright -- though better in theory than in practice. It incorporated myriad end-of-summer ingredients like cherry tomatoes, sweet corn, fresh basil, bacon, and feta cheese. And it was dressed with a lovely lemony dressing. But, there was something about it that just didn't feel right.

It wasn't great. And no matter how many times I went over the recipe in my head, I couldn't think of a way to make it better.

So -- despite the fact that I didn't really have the time or energy to put toward a new recipe --at the very last minute I changed my mind and decided to go with a completely different concept, a Thai-styleshrimp salad with fresh cucumbers, red and yellow sweet peppers, cilantro and a coconut-lime dressing augmented with fish sauce for a bit of umami and a bit of kick from Thai red curry paste.

The recipe took a bit of finessing. But, I finally got it to a stage where I felt like it was "good enough."
So, we got the pasta salad together, shot the photos, and then enjoyed the salad for dinner.

But, by the next day, I was having misgivings about the recipe. Maybe it was too spicy... too limey... not flavorful enough... maybe the slices of cucumber were too big... But, there was no time to give the recipe another round of tweaking, so I sent it off to the judges.

When I received an email that I'd been chosen as a winner, I think I just about fell out of my chair. I was stunned. And thrilled. And really honored. But, despite the awesome news, the self-doubt started to creep back in.

I started to wonder what all the other recipes were like. Maybe they just weren't very good -- or maybe mine just happened to get lucky. That had to be it -- right?

But, as I perused the recipes that had been submitted for the contest, I found myself in a place I've not been for quite a while -- a good place. It was a spot where I really felt honored to be doing something that I really loved and that... maybe... I was even good at. After all, there were a lot of really creative recipes out there. And most of them sounded like they would have been more-than-worthy of placing in the contest.

The moment wasn't about ego. But, it was an affirming moment -- one of those times when you become acutely aware that you are in the right place at the right time... doing the right thing.  I'm sure many of you can relate! Such a great feeling.

The iPad I won came in the mail last week... and every time I look at it, I think about how blessed I am. And how awesome it is to be in the kitchen, doing what I love.

Check out the entire list of entries, including my Bow-Thai Pasta HERE.


Saturday, October 19, 2013

A New Business and Turkey Meatballs with Blackberry Barbeque Sauce

Where has the time gone?

Seems like just yesterday we were complaining about the heat and humidity of mid-summer. And now, suddenly, we've jumped full-on into the lap of autumn.

I'm not one to complain, as I really love it when there's a slight chill in the air and the breeze smells of musty leaves. But, I'm shocked that I didn't even see it coming this year.

One of the reasons is that I've been spending quite a bit of my free time doing research, talking with designers, and crunching numbers for a new endeavor that Peef and I are taking on this fall.

The business will be called "From Milwaukee With Love" and it will be an online retail store specializing in gift boxes filled with artisan food products made right here in the Milwaukee area. 

The concept has been a long-time in coming - and more details are forthcoming - but for now, let's suffice it to say it's been a labor of love that's really served to bring together my freelance writing, my love for the city of Milwaukee, and my desire to really showcase all the amazing food that's being produced right here.

I won't bore you with too many of the details here, but I'll let you know when we get things up and running, and you'll be able to follow our progress on Facebook and Twitter in the upcoming weeks.  Until then, I hope to keep up with at least a modicum of the recipe development and delicious food sharing I've always enjoyed so much here at Burp!

For today, I figured I'd dig down in my recipe file and share something deliciously different -- but seriously useful. I know you've all got football parties and family gatherings coming up, so I thought I'd take the time to share a recipe that should come in handy for any number of those things.

Barbequed meatballs commonly make their appearance on appetizer spreads or church pot-lucks. This homemade version made with blackberry barbeque sauce capture all the sweet-tart-vinegary goodness of a traditional sauce, while offering up a beautiful color and distinctly fresh flavor. 
Meatballs made with turkey lighten things up a bit, but maintain a rich flavor and caramelized exterior when browned in real butter. And this recipe is perfectly amiable to the use of either fresh or frozen berries, so you don't have to wait for the next batch of fresh berries to make it happen.

Serve as part of your next party spread, or simply served alongside mashed potatoes and steamed vegetables for a distinctly different weeknight meal.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Milwaukee Cocktail Week: It's going to be a blast

If you've wondered where we've been for the past couple of weeks, it's time for us to come clean.

We've been busy planning a HUGE cocktail party.
And not just any cocktail party. This one is a pretty big deal.

We were asked to be a part of the planning committee for the first-ever Milwaukee Cocktail Week. And we were more-or-less put in charge of the food for the Kick-Off Event, which is coming up this weekend.

We took our job pretty seriously. In fact, we went out and found some of the best chefs in Milwaukee and got them to volunteer to cook up a bunch of amazing tail-gate food.

And no -- it's not just your ordinary run-of-the mill tailgate fare.

For instance, here's the line-up:
  • Bavette La Boucherie - a great new female-owned butcher shop in town, owned by Chef Karen Bell, is making up mini Oktoberfest beer brats with pickled mustard seed and sauerkraut.
  • The awesome new spot, Love Handle, is bringing their A-game with garlic sausage stuffed porchetta on a baguette with beer mustard.
  • Paul Funk, expert charcuterie master from Hinterland Erie Street Gastropub is being a little mysterious about his offerings, but we trust he'll come up with something awesome.
  • Joe Muench from Maxie’s, a great restaurant that serves some of the best low-country Southern fare in town is bringing smoked pork and cheese hot links with Bourbon peach bbq sauce and roasted jalapeno slaw. For the vegetarians, they'll be serving up kettle cooked lentil sloppy joes with smoked onion jam (I know, right?) 
  • Chef Justin Aprahamian from one of Milwaukee's best fine dining establishments, Sanford, is pulling out all the stops with his duck sausage with black currant mostardo.
  • Smoke Shack, one of our best barbeque spots is serving seitan sloppy joe sliders made with their house sauce -- which is smoky and chocolatey and delicious.
  • One of my personal favorites, Wolf Peach, is serving up Milwaukee classics like smoked garlic polish sausage, jalapeño cheddar brats and old school classic brats
Imagine all that food paired with expertly crafted cocktails. All for $30. Yeah -- that's what's happening.

Football fans will be able to watch the Packer game on a GIGANTIC television. And people -- like me -- who could care less, will be able to mix, mingle and eat ourselves silly.

I'd love to hang out with you.

So, if you're in the area, you should come. Really.
You may never again see James Beard Award nominated chef Justin Aprahamian of Sanford serving up tail-gate style fare ever again.

And that, in and of itself, is a pretty good reason to show up.

Here are the details:

Milwaukee Cocktail Week Kick-Off
Sunday, September 22, 2013
11:30 AM to 3:30 PM
Horny Goat Hideaway
2011 South 1st Street
Milwaukee, WI 53207
Tickets:  $30 in advance


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Crockpot Korean Beef: For tacos, banh mi or rice bowls

Here in the West, Korean cuisine is known mostly for its beef dishes like bulgogi or galbi. Now, that's probably short-changing the breadth of Korean fare, since there are plenty of Korean dishes that make brilliant use of vegetables. At the same time, it seems Korean cooks know how to make the most of even the most affordable cuts of meat.

This recipe was inspired by the notion that you can always do more with less, especially when a delicious marinade is involved.

If you’ve never experienced the sweet-salty, gingery flavor of slow cooked Korean beef, this is your lucky day. This easy crockpot version is the perfect solution for easy weeknight dinners or leisurely weekend fare. The marinade uses ingredients that you probably already have on hand, 

Pair this flavorful shredded beef with kimchi or slaw for Korean tacos. Make homemade banh mi sandwiches. Or, for a quick weeknight dinner, serve it over rice with sauteed spinach, shredded carrots, scallions, and sliced cucumbers for a Korean beef rice bowl.


Monday, August 26, 2013

Pairdd: Gluten-free Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese

 So, life has been a little crazy around our little Burp! house lately. We've been busy meeting with our new Advisory Team, and launching our new Community Partner program for our MKEfoodies group. And we've been hatching a plan for a new business concept (more on that as things develop).

On top of everything, we've been working with a brand new Milwaukee company called Pairdd to develop gluten-free recipes for their brand new meal delivery service. 

The first recipe we sent over was one of our favorites -- Buffalo chicken mac & cheese. It's creamy and dreamy and a little bit spicy, with all the great flavors you expect from buffalo wings.

Now, you know we love to cook. But, when life gets busy, even we take short-cuts.  So, one of the things we love about Pairdd is that they do all the work for you.

All the vegetables are peeled, the ingredients pre-measured... it's perfect for a weeknight when you get home late and are seriously tempted to order takeout. Which is exactly the sort of night we were having when our Pairdd box arrived.

Needless to say, Peef was thrilled to just be able to take all the ingredients out of the box and whip dinner up in a flash. 

And the best part is, the meal was absolutely delicious.

Buffalo Chicken Macaroni & Cheese

Want to know more about Pairdd?

Their concept is simple:
  1. First, check to make sure that you're within the Pairdd delivery area.
  2. Then, select one of the delicious gluten-free recipes from the Pairddwebsite. (we'd recommend the gluten free Buffalo chicken mac & cheese... but then, we're a bit biased)
  3. Pairdd does ALL shopping and measuring and delivers all the ingredients right to your door!
  4. You simply follow the step-by-step recipe instructions... and voila!  A gourmet meal in no time.
  5. If you're happy with your meal, head back to the Pairdd web site to refer a friend.  You get $20 off your next purchase, and your friends get $15 off their first purchase!
Even better, from now until SEPTEMBER 31, 2013 you can use the coupon code BURP50 to save 50% on your order... which means you get an amazing gluten-free meal of your choice for just $15. And if you're eyeing up our mac & cheese, be aware it will only be available through next week!

Let us know if you try them out!  We'd love to hear your feedback.


Thursday, August 8, 2013

Summer Pastabilities: Bow-Thai Shrimp Salad

Does anything scream "summer" more than a pasta salad? I don't think so.

Unfortunately, sometimes we get pretty tired of the same old recipes -- macaroni salad with mayo and tuna, basil pesto salad with tomatoes, vegetable pasta salad with Italian vinaigrette... can you say hum-drum?

That's where this delicious vegetable-forward pasta salad comes into play.

If you like Thai food, there's a good chance you'll develop an affection for this fresh summer salad.

It uses hearty whole wheat pasta, briny shrimp, crunchy cucumbers, flavorful sweet peppers, and tender spinach leaves -- all coated with a light Thai-style coconut curry dressing with plenty of lime juice to keep things fresh and bright.

It's crisp and flavorful ... perfect for hot summer days when the mere thought of turning on your oven makes you sweat.

But before you run off to make the recipe, you might want to read a bit further.

This recipe was created for the Hodgson Mill "Summer Pastabilities" contest. Hodgson Mill provided us with the Whole Wheat Bow Ties for the recipe. They've also given us a link to share with you to get a $1 off coupon for your next purchase of healthy whole grain pasta (including gluten-free varieties).

They've also agreed to provide a prize pack to one lucky Burp! reader. The pack includes:
  • Two (2) boxes Whole Wheat Bow Tie (10 oz. each)
  • Two (2) boxes Whole Wheat Medium Shells (16 oz. each)
  • Two (2) boxes Whole Wheat Angel Hair (16 oz. each)
  • One (1) box of a brand new product, Lemon Pepper Quinoa and Brown Rice
  • An assortment of Hodgson Mill-branded kitchen supplies (measuring cups and spoons, spatula, dough scraper)
  • A coupon for a future purchase of Hodgson Mill products
For your chance to win, all you have to do is tell us which pasta you'd use first -- and what you'd make with it.

Giveaway ends on Thursday, August 15, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please leave your email addy with your comment if it's not included with your Blogger profile.


Bow-Thai Shrimp Salad
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 8 minutes
Equipment needed: small mixing bowl, large mixing bowl, colander, large pot, knife, rubber spatula, whisk


3/4 cup low-fat coconut milk
2 T fish sauce
3 T brown sugar
1 T Thai-style red curry paste (or more, to taste)
Juice of one lime (3-4 T)
zest of one lime
salt and pepper, to taste

Pasta Salad:
1 10 ounce box Hodgson Mill Whole Wheat Bow Ties
1 lb medium peeled, precooked shrimp, thawed
2 cups chopped red, orange, or yellow sweet peppers
1 medium seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise and sliced into ¼ inch half-moons
3 scallions, thinly sliced
5 ounces fresh spinach leaves, coarsely chopped
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro


To make the dressing, whisk together the coconut milk, lime juice, fish sauce, red curry paste and brown sugar in a bowl until the sugar is dissolved and the ingredients are well incorporated. Add the lime juice, and lime zest and whisk again. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

To make the pasta, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, add the bow ties, and cook until al dente, approximately 8 minutes. Drain the pasta and immediately run plenty of cold water over it until it is completely cool. Drain well.

Put the pasta in a large bowl, and, using a rubber spatula, fold in enough dressing to coat it generously. Gently fold in the shrimp and vegetables, adding more dressing as needed to coat.

Do ahead: You can cook the pasta a few hours ahead, run cold water over it and drain. Spread the pasta in a single layer over a lightly oiled baking sheet. Cover the pasta with plastic wrap and refrigerate.

The dressing can also be made earlier in the day; but keep it separate and toss the pasta salad with the dressing just before serving.

Makes 6 main course servings
Serving size: 1 1/2 cups
Key words: pasta salad, whole wheat pasta, cucumbers, peppers, spinach, coconut milk, curry, Thai, shrimp, seafood, cilantro


Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Cucumber Lemon Verbena Popsicles with a Splash of Tequila

So, I broke down this summer and bought them... a set of popsicle molds.

I've been contemplating them for years, but kept thinking that "I could just use paper cups" or something.

The truth is, having ACTUAL popsicle molds makes a difference.

Previously, I'd talk myself out of making popsicles, since the thought of finding a place in the freezer for a zillion little cups was... less than inspiring. And buying a mold that holds the wooden sticks upright is also a big plus, as far as I'm concerned.

So I did it. I bought the Norpro mold I'd been eye-ing up. It wasn't the costliest model. It may not be the most awesome (after all, they make those Zoku popsicle molds that freeze in 15 minutes). But, the truth is, I don't need instant gratification in my popsicles; I'm an adult, and I can wait a few hours. Sure, the smaller ice crystals would be nice.  But, my ordinary old-fashioned popsicle tray works for a number of reasons.
  1. It was affordable. Less than $15.
  2. The mold is dishwasher safe.
  3. It holds the popsicle sticks straight upright.
  4. The popsicles remain upright in the freezer (and don't make a big mess).
Our first try at popsicles was a raging success. Cucumber popsicles are delicious. And refreshing. And a splash of tequila makes them deliciously adult... I can't take all the credit. After all, Peef went through the work of making them while I was spending the day with a girlfriend. (Side note: I LOVE having a husband who makes me icy treats while I'm off shopping).

Aren't they pretty?

They're delicious too. The lemon verbena is awesome here, though I could see this working with a number of flavors, including lemon balm, cilantro, or tarragon).

I am now officially excited to play around with differently flavored icy treats. Next up (I hope) is to conquer one of my all-time favorite treats, the fudgesicle.


Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Rosemary Garlic Leg of Lamb

Alright, alright. So, this is the worst possible time to post this recipe.
It's hot. It's humid. And the last thing you want to do is turn on your oven to roast a leg of lamb.

I understand. But, I can assure you that you'll want to bookmark it for another occasion -- or pin it to your Pinterest page. Because it's easy. And delicious. And the leftovers will give you fodder for some of the best lamb pitas you've ever eaten in your life.

Meet the garlic and rosemary infused leg of lamb -- one of the simplest and best recipes I've created in a long while.

Best of all, you probably don't need to measure anything.

I used a relatively small leg section for this recipe. It weighed about three pounds, which means that, at 20 minutes per pound, it took just over an hour to cook (I shot for an internal temperature of about 135, which is medium rare; you can go slightly higher if you want, but I'd encourage you not to overcook it).

The size of the leg isn't all that important here. But, the shape of the leg is.  You want a piece of leg that is approximately the same thickness all over -- which means it will cook evenly.

Equally as important is the rub, which you want to apply to the lamb the day before you roast it.

For my leg, I used about six garlic cloves, about 2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary, a teaspoon or so of salt, lots of freshly ground pepper, a splash of red wine vinegar, and an equivalent splash of olive oil.  You'll mix it altogether into a loose paste, and then rub it all over the lamb.  Be sure you poke a few holes in the fat and get the rub into all the nooks and crannies... you'll thank me later.

After the leg marinates overnight, you'll want to heat up some butter over medium-high heat in a large oven-proof skillet. When it melts and the foam subsides, you'll want to brown the lamb shank on all sides. While it's browning, you can preheat your oven to 350F.

When the lamb is browned, pop it right into the oven and leave it for around an hour, probing it with a thermometer to check its internal temperature for doneness.  Then, before carving, let it rest for 10-15 minutes. It will be the longest 10-15 minutes of your life... but I assure you, it's worth it.

Serve up with a nice saute of summer zucchini, onions, and cherry tomatoes sprinkled with fresh oregano and mint.

Makes you smile just thinking about it, doesn't it?
And for a moment, I'll bet you forgot all about the heat wave... at least we hope so!


Thursday, July 11, 2013

Seafood with Pesto from Maria Liberati and a Festa Italiana #Giveaway

Milwaukee is known as the City of Festivals for good reason.  In addition to the world's largest music festival, Summerfest, Milwaukee is also privileged to be the host of some of the world's best ethnic festivals.

One of the tastiest just happens to be Festa Italiana, coming up on July 19-21 (stay tuned below for a chance to win tickets).  Among its other claims to fame, Festa happens to be largest Italian event of its kind in America today.

Last year, I wrote a guide to "eating your way through Festa."  This year, I had the opportunity to interview Maria Liberati, former international supermodel, blogger, cookbook author and food and travel writer for The Mortan Report. 

Interestingly, during the height of her modeling career while jet-setting around Europe, Liberati rediscovered the simplicity of Italian food while spending time at her family's vineyard in the mountains of central Italy. She began to experience the real tastes of food that she knew from her childhood. And she created an entirely new career based around her love of Italian food.

Today, Libearti is considered one of the foremost experts in Italian cuisine, culinary travel, wine and culture and has been referred to on occasion as the "Italian Martha Stewart."

I was curious to find out more about Liberati's cooking philosophy, as well as her impressions of Milwaukee and Festa Italiana. Here's what she told me.

She was also kind enough to leave me with a deliciously simple recipe for a great summer appetizer. In turn, I'm sharing that with you.

In addition, if you happen to be around for Festa Italiana in Milwaukee this year, be sure you read to the bottom of the post and enter to win a pair of tickets to the festival (a $26 value).

Sapore di Mare al Pesto (Seafood with Pesto) 
By Maria Liberati

¼ cup diced shallots
3 ripe plum tomatoes, peeled and diced
1 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
1 lb of sea scallops, diced
½ lb small shrimp diced
dash of pepperoncino (hot red pepper)

Pesto Sauce
1 cup fresh basil leaves, remove stems
1 clove garlic crushed
½ cup Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated
1/8 cup extra virgin olive oil
¼ cup pignoli nuts

Wash basil leaves thoroughly and pat dry.

Put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend for 5-10 seconds or until smooth. Add more parmigiano-reggiano cheese to taste. Pesto sauce can be stored in the refrigerator

In a large skillet, sauté the shallots and tomatoes in oil for 3 minutes. Add diced scallops and shrimp and mix thoroughly; sauté for 3 minutes. Pour the pesto sauce over the seafood, toss, and sauté for another 5 minutes. Serve warm or cold over radicchio leaves.

In celebration of Festa Italiana, we'll be giving away pairs of tickets to two (2) lucky readers!

For your chance to win, head over to and check out my interview with Maria Liberati. Then come back and leave us a message telling us what most surprised you about the interview.

Giveaway ends on Sunday, July 14, 2013 at 11:59 p.m.  Tickets will be mailed to the winners on July 15th, or as soon as we have accurate mailing information for the chosen winners.

Winners will be chosen at random and notified by email, so please leave your email addy with your comment if it's not included with your Blogger profile. Entries from the U.S. only, please (and please only enter if you know that you can make it to Festa Italiana in Milwaukee on July 19-21).

Full Disclosure: This giveaway is sponsored by Festa Italiana, who provided us with the product for our giveaway. However, all opinions expressed in this post are our own.


Monday, June 24, 2013

Perfect Summer Dessert: Chocolate Coffee Trifle in Jars

All this talk of six years and coffee mugs was making me hungry for coffee flavored things.

So, it was back into the kitchen with us.
Chocolate is always a favorite of Peef, who is (I do not lie) one of the biggest chocolate addicts I have ever met in my life. He came from a long line of chocolate addicts, and his obsession has rubbed off on me a little bit over the last 14 years.

Of course, that coffee craving still wasn't letting up. So, I reached for one of my favorite dessert solutions:  Kahlua.

I also reached for the recipe for a great buttery chocolate pound cake recipe that one of our colleagues over at the Butter Blog created.

Layering Kahlua-soaked pound cake with an easy homemade chocolate mousse and topping with a bit of whipped cream was a pretty great idea, if I do say so myself.

And yeah -- we put them in jars. Don't laugh. It's not because we've fallen down the hopeless hipster hole. It's actually a pretty smart idea.

Putting them in mason jars not only makes them cute and transportable, but it also creates the perfect portion sizes -- so you won't be tempted to eat the whole friggin' trifle...

Which you'll probably want to do. I mean, just look at it.

It is, in fact, a perfect treat to serve as the finale for your next casual summer cookout or dinner party. And since the components can be made ahead, you’ll be left with plenty of free time to attend to other important details....Like grilling up the perfect steak. Or searing that eggplant until it's absolutely tender.

Chocolate Coffee Trifle in Jars


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Summertime Means Cheese Curds!

What? You didn't know?
Well, you must not be from Wisconsin, then.

For those of us who live here in the cheese capital... dairy is an everyday treat. And cheese curds are the squeakiest of them all. That's why you've got to check out our article in the Summer issue of "Grate. Pair. Share." -- an online magazine showcasing the best of Wisconsin cheese.

Aside from our article, which includes a recipe for a delicious grilled chicken taco salad with seared cheese curds (which are ALMOST as good as fried cheese curds), there are plenty of other great recipes.

Here are a few on our list to try:


Sunday, June 16, 2013

Happy Burp-Day: Let's Drink to Six Years of Burp! Blog

Six years. Wow.
Six years of blogging flies past faster than you'd think.
But, here we are, still cooking up a storm and loving what we do.
And we have only you to thank.

Thank you, dear readers, for reading and interacting.  For hanging tough when we've suffered from recipe block and when we didn't have much to say. For understanding when posts weren't quite as frequent as we would have liked.

We may not have the MOST readers of any blog out there. But, I can assure you that we have some of the best. And we're privileged to have gotten to know you all -- some of you in person, but even more of you online. Thanks to you we have an active Facebook page, a healthy Twitter following, and a blog that we love coming back to day after day.

Over the years, we've run into a lot of people who were amused by the name of our blog, and excited about what we stand for (this makes us happy!). We've also had a host of requests from family, friends, and fans to create a bit of Burp! swag.

Our first attempt was the Burp! t-shirt, which we printed for the first time in 2010 and again in 2012. People loved them, but we decided to do something different this time around.

So, in celebration of our sixth year, we've teamed up with talented local Milwaukee ceramics artist, Kate Riley, to present the first ever Burp! mug. Read more about Kate here.

The mugs are hand-crafted and hand-painted - iridescent black on the exterior, with a flat white on the interior. Best of all,  each mug holds 12 ounces of just about any liquid you can think of -- from coffee and tea to milk or beer.  Beautiful. Functional. And microwave and dishwasher safe.

Mugs are $20 plus $5 shipping and handling.
Proceeds will support MKEfoodies.

Please note that the mugs are hand-crafted in small batches in Kate Riley's studio here in Milwaukee. Right now, we have 30 mugs on order, which we'll mail out as soon as they're finished.  If demand warrants, we'll commission more mugs to be created.


Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tequila Lime Butter Grilled Chicken: The Best Chicken is Drunk Chicken

Ah, yes. Grilling season is finally here.
And is there anything more classic than marinated chicken?

Probably not. But, I'll bet you're bored with your usual recipes.

So, let me offer this suggestion: start mixing your favorite cocktails with your chicken breasts.

Seriously, folks. A chicken breast marinated with a Bloody Mary is positively delicious.

And rum and pineapple will give you an awfully nice tropical chicken dish.

Or pour on the gin and grapefruit juice and make yourself delicious "Salty Dog" inspired chicken.

The possibilities are limited only by your imagination. And your liquor cabinet.

This is our latest "drunken" chicken marinade: tequila lime.

This recipe brings together the flavors of a classic margarita into a deliciously bright chicken dish where the flavors really pop. A tequila lime mop sauce fortified with real butter reinforces the citrus flavor and assists the chicken in caramelizing easily on the grill.

Just look at those lovely grill marks. And no - they weren't made with a sharpie.

Tequila Lime Butter Grilled Chicken


Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wisconsin Classics Revisited: Grilled Chicken Taco Salad and Stuffed Burgers

When it comes to cooking, I really love a good challenge -- which is probably what makes me so fond of recipe development.

I love the tasting and tweaking.  I love trying new techniques to get different results. And I love searching for just the right balance of flavors and ingredients.
A favorite pet project of mine is recreating favorite dishes we've eaten at restaurants -- or thinking of creative ways to revamp recipes that didn't quite make the flavor cut (there's always a way to save a good concept, after all... you just need to bring a new eye to it).
So, this latest project -- creating recipes inspired by things we've eaten in Wisconsin -- was an incredible amount of fun.  Not only did we get to think back to all sorts of fun places we've been in our home state, but we got to create delicious food to go along with it.

Head over to Eat Wisconsin Cheese, and you'll find a deliciously fresh grilled chicken taco salad, embellished with creamy chipotle dressing and crisp, warm seared White Cheddar Cheese Curds. 
The curds have all the flavor of their battered, fried brethren; but, they're quick and easy to prepare, and they taste delicious when accompanied by the auspiciously fresh crunch of romaine lettuce, red peppers and the sweet kick of red onion.

Of course, if you're not in the mood for salad, we've got a solution for that too. 
How about a take on the classic cheeseburger for your next backyard barbeque? Our version pays homage to Mineral Point's Brewery Creek Inn "Stuffed Burger." Jam-packed with Blue Cheese and smoked bacon, and served with melted Colby Cheese, caramelized onions, and barbeque sauce, this delicious creation is a force to be reckoned with.

Grilled Chicken Taco Salad with Seared Wisconsin Cheese Curds

Burgers Stuffed with Bacon and Wisconsin Blue Cheese

Feeling inspired?  Check out the Traveler's Guide to America's Dairyland and plan your next vacation to Wisconsin!  (And don't forget to visit us while you're here! We'd love to meet you!)