Brunchy Mary 🥃


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This one goes out to my friend, Don.

What seems like another lifetime ago, I spent A LOT of time at Mickey’s Tavern. So much time, in fact, that I married one of the bartenders and after that didn’t work out, dated another. That’s an entirely different blog altogether, though.

The latter was (and still is) in charge of the very popular bloody mary mix, having to make at least 20 gallons each weekend (more often in the summer). Over the years, I helped out enough to know how it’s done and keep the recipe close because it’s his pride and joy.

Anymore, I find the bloodys there to be a little too chunky for my taste, so I’ll share with you the recipe that I enjoy now (made for me by my current boyfriend—who is neither an employee of Mickey’s nor a bartender).

The many containers that bring the drink to life.

A wide-mouth pint jar is my favorite bloody vessel. Into it goes ice and vodka, a few turns of salt and ground pepper. Then about 2 teaspoons of ground horsey, a shake of Annie’s Worsh sauce (it’s vegan!) and a couple of blops of Valentina (I find other hot sauces to be too vinegary).

Seasonings.

Fill up the jar with a little can of V8, stick a pickle, and trim a celery stalk.

YUM

If you’re feeling extra, you could add some jalapeño salt, which we just discovered and find to be amazing.

Bloody Mary

A simple but elusive beverage.
Prep Time10 mins
Servings: 1

Ingredients

  • 1 can V8
  • 3 counts vodka
  • 2 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 1 tsp Annie's Worchestershire
  • 1 tsp Valentina
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 pickle
  • 1 celery stalk

Instructions

  • Mix everything except vegetables in a glass. Serve with pickle and celery.

Tasty Tostadas 🌮


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There isn’t much that’s more satisfying than a crunchy corn tortilla slathered (you heard me) with beans, topped with diced onions, cheese, tomato, and lettuce.

First, though, I need to hop on my high horse, so gimme a boost here. OOMPH, thank you!

WHAT in the ACTUAL F*&K are food dyes doing in CORN TORTILLAS? Woodman’s carries five or six brands of tostada shells and all but two have artificial food dyes. I have a long-standing personal grudge against and will go out of my way to avoid buying foods with added yellow, red, and/or blue in them. Especially considering that a corn tortilla is, and only needs to be: corn, salt, and water. I mean, it doesn’t need to be YELLOWER.

HOT TIP: Full Circle uses turmeric instead of yellow #5 in their pickle products.

Whoah, Nellie! *hops off horse*

Aaaanyhoo, the El Milagro brand is without weird substances: stone-ground corn, corn oil, salt, and Cal (about which I just learned). They also have the best soft corn and flour tortillas in the world (or at least in my world).

The little tostada army.

Choose your tortilla pairs carefully because they have to sort of stack together. The curvy bendy of them makes this a little like a puzzle, but you’ll get it. Find (or make!) your favorite refried beans and schmear enough to cover the top of each of the bottom half of the pair (that was confusing… let’s look at a photo):

The Four Bottoms. A band name, perhaps?

Top the bottoms with diced white onion and cheese and grab the tops and schmear the bottoms of those with more beans! This is getting nuts. Or beany.

Finally, more beans go on top of the top, along with more onions and cheese. We like beans, onions, and cheese in this house.

In the oven that I remembered to preheat (this time!), these go for 10 minutes and then get another three or four, depending on hunger and cheese meltage.

While they’re getting toasty, chop the tomatoes and lettuce, and gather your assortment of topping notions.

I like that green chile salsa so much, I buy two jars at a time.

Top, serve, eat.

Tostadas con Frijoles Refritos

Quick, easy, delicious. You CAN have all three!
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Hispanic
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 8 tostada shells
  • 2 16 oz. refried beans, canned
  • 2 c white onion diced small
  • 1 c mixed cheeses shredded
  • 1/2 c tomato diced
  • 1/2 c romano lettuce chopped

Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 350º and line a cookie sheet with parchment (this is not entirely necessary, but I don't like washing cookie sheets).
  • Spoon a layer of beans onto half of the shells, cover with onions and cheese. Spoon a layer of beans onto the other half and make a bean sandwich and spoon beans onto the top of those shells. Cover with onions and more cheese.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then check cheese for the desired doneness. If you like it meltier, leave 'em in for three to five more minutes.
  • Remove from oven and plate; top with tomatoes, lettuce, salsa, sour cream, and any other thing you'd like!

Airy Onion Rings 🧅


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At some point in my twenties—earlier than it should have—fried food began to disagree with me. Fried cheese curds, fish, mozzarella sticks, mushrooms… and onions. Although, I never really like onion rings because they were usually embarrassing to eat; the breading slid off in my hand while the soggy, greasy onion hung out of my mouth like a cow’s tongue. I paint a pretty picture, don’t I?

To be honest, it’s okay. We all know fried food isn’t very healthy.

Enter the air fryer! We’ve got the breaded fish pretty well down, so putting an onion ring atop a turkey burger seemed like the logical next step.

Our first attempt was without using a recipe and it didn’t turn out so well. I documented it to show that not everything turns out as expected, and that’s okay!

Onion rings, take one.

They weren’t *awful*, they were just a little overdone and stuck together and not breaded correctly. You get the idea.

Take two involved following a recipe of sorts. The air fryer came with a cookbook that has a bloomin’ onion, so we co-opted it for only a few rings. One of the tricks is to soak the onions in ice water until you’re ready to use them. I’m pretty sure this is to prevent them from getting “soggy”.

A cold onion makes for a stiffer fry.

The second trick is to coat with the egg, then cover in the seasoned flour mixture, then dredge in the egg, and cover again with the flour mixture. The third trick is to only put as many onions into the fryer that will fit in one layer without touching.

In order to test the efficacy of this bag of tricks, we did a test batch before starting on the second version for the burgers. The results were positive.

Two rings in the 3qt fryer.

The double-dredge and some avocado spray helped the breading stick and make it the color we expected (I wanted them to look nice on turquoise plates):

This iPhone has an amazing camera.

Atop the turkey burgers again they went. – Yoda.

Don’t be jelly.

The addition of the onions made for a beautiful burger, but its presence was a bit lost among the rest of the amazing tastes and textures. I think if we try it again, we should try them on a couple of Beyond Burgers.

Air-fried Onion Rings

A top, side, front, bottom, or rear for any of your main dishes!
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Servings: 2

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients

  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1/2 c flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • avocado oil spray
  • 2-4 white or yellow onion rings cut an inch in height

Instructions

  • Soak raw rings in ice water until ready to cook.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400º for 5 minutes.
  • Prepare the onions by first dipping and coating them in the egg wash, then dip into the flour, then back into the egg, and back into the flour.
  • Place rings into an air fryer basket, not allowing them to touch (as much as you can manage) and spray with avocado oil. Fry for 7 minutes, flip and spray again, fry for another 7 minutes.
  • Eat by themselves or wherever, really.

Chrissy’s Chicken & Dumplings 🥣🍗


This is yet another Teigen recipe fan-post. Her second cookbook garnered more than twice the post-its as her first book, and this recipe would get four; if there were that many sides of a piece of paper!

Not Chrissy’s, but an indication of what a good cookbook looks like in my house.

Cozy, homey, comfy, round, buttery, and well worth the extra effort of browning, brothing, and shredding the chicken, letting the soup become soup, and dumping the dumplings.

There’s enough chicken called for to have to work in batches. I think I used just a little shy of 3lbs, though the recipe calls for 4. Once all the chicken pieces are sufficiently crispy, you add water and herbs and let the magic happen over the next 60 minutes.

This part was a surprise to me as I’m used to making broth in a slow cooker over the course of 12-24 hours, but that renders the chicken meat pretty useless, and that is the opposite of what we want here.

After an hour, grab your favorite strainer, strain into your favorite large bowl (it needs to hold at least 8 cups), and discard the herbs. Fish out the chicken (see what I did there?) and use two forks to pick the meat off. We’re not going for a shred… more like sumptuous pieces.

Discard the bones and skin—this was very difficult for me—and set the meat aside.

I shouldn’t do this part when I’m ravished.

Back into your Dutch oven, or another vessel, goes carrots, onions, celery until soft, then stir in some flour until it browns slightly.

In goes the chicken, broth, and a potato! Boil then simmer for 20 minutes.

While the soup becomes a magical display of smooth, comforting goodness, prepare the dumpling dough. It’s important to be gentle (read: don’t overwork) with the dough. So, mix those ingredients *just so* and make sure you fret about it! I kid. Cooking shouldn’t make a person fret. I think those energies get into the food and that is why you get tough dumplings.

Dumpler dough!

I used two spoons to size ’em up and drop ’em in. In retrospect, I made them a skosh too big. Less than a tablespoon of dough would have been ideal; they expand more than you’d think. At least more than I thought they would.

After the dumplings dance around and soak up the delicious liquid for about 15 minutes, you’re ready to serve.

This picture doesn’t do it justice. Yum.

I’m not going to post the recipe here because of the unwritten rule of food bloggers, but you can google the name to find the ingredients and instructions, or you can support me (and Chrissy, theoretically) by buying her second cookbook through that link. 🎉

Elotes y Arepas 🇲🇽 🇻🇪 🌽


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Madison, WI is famous for its summer festivals. There is at least one grand one per month that attracts a hungry crowd. You see, at all of these fests, there are a lot of food carts. Some of these are extensions of restaurants that most people can’t get to for lunch. Some of these are carts all on their own with specialties like cheese curds, falafel, more falafel, and 42 other places that I can’t think of right now.

While celebrating what bookends the season for me at the Willy St. Fair this summer, I had the pleasure of experiencing, for the first time, arepas—an unassuming corn disc stuffed with black beans, plantains, and cotija cheese—from the Caracas Arepas food cart.

Sometimes, when I discover something new, I get kinda pissed off that it took so long for me to find it. This exact thing happened with the aforementioned falafel, nearly 20 years ago at the same festival.

I get a little fixated on certain things, and this little maize pocket of goodness is no exception. So, I set about recreating this “simple”, homey, delectable delight—I quoted simple because it only has three ingredients, but it needs to be perfect.

Pre-cooked corn flour.

I spotted the flour on the bottom shelf at Woodman’s and my eyes lit up like a kid’s on Christmas morning. I had pictured looking for one of those little boxes of polenta, but A WHOLE POUND?! Do you even KNOW how many arepas that will produce?! I don’t, actually. But I know it’ll be a lot.

I let a couple of weeks go by cuz I like to ruminate over some things (and elope to Mexico over others) and then decided it was time to dive in. I whipped up a batch of Braulio’s beans and got to work searching YouTube for instructions. I found The Frugal Chef and her arepas video. Water, a little salt, and flour. “Simple.”

I don’t have an action shot of me making the patties, cuz it takes two hands, but it’s important not to overwork the dough cuz that makes them less fluffy inside and then they won’t want to become pockets (you’ll see my solution to this shortly).

Happy, happy, corn, corn.

I pulled out my Green Pan griddle (holy crap, it’s more than twice the cost now) and let some butter dance around on it before gently placing these cakes of wonderfulness onto the surface.

One of them is smiling at me!

After a short while—probably five minutes—I flipped them and put some more butter down in case Side A soaked it all up. Side B should look roughly like the above, and if done correctly, you should be able to slice it crossways and stuff it with beans. This batch turned out a little close-textured (as Mary Berry might condescend), so instead of putting the beans inside, I simply plated them on top! Problem solved. I’m not letting a little overworked dough get in the way of putting these in my face.

Not too shabby.

Top with cotija cheese and dig in.

Since I will never tire of Mexican or Hispanic foods, I thought I ought to throw together some Elotes.

Wisconsin’s corn on the cob season was quickly drawing to a close, but we were still able to grab a few ears. My intention was to grill them on the, well, grill… but, it wasn’t a beautiful summer evening (in fact, it was a freezing fall night), and fixing up the grill for corn seemed too much work. So, I used the next best thing: a gas stove!

I just realized my kitchen is the same color as corn.

Five roasted cobs later, I carefully sliced the kernels off into a bowl. A bowl already prepared with Mexican crema, mayonnaise, cotija, and Chili powder. Stir it up, throw in a little salt and pepper, and serve.

Elote seasoning.

Elotes y Arepas

Tasty, corny, and very much worth the effort*.
*This recipe does not include ingredients or instructions for whatever you want to put in, on, or around your arepas.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time20 mins
Total Time40 mins
Course: Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine: Hispanic, Mexican
Servings: 3

Equipment

  • Flat-top Griddle

Ingredients

Elotes

  • 5 cobs corn
  • 1/3 c mayonnaise
  • 1/4 c crema
  • 1 tsp chili powder chipotle, preferably
  • 1/3 c cotija cheese

Arepas

  • 2 c masarepa (precooked corn flour)
  • 2 c warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp butter

Instructions

Elotes

  • Roast the cobs either on the grill or gas stovetop until an appropriate amount of grill marks appear. Stand a cob on one end and slice the kernels off from top to bottom, leaving none behind. Repeat until cobbed out.
  • While the cobs are roasting, mix together the rest of the ingredients in a medium bowl.
  • Stir in kernels and pop into the fridge to cool.

Arepas

  • In a large bowl, dilute the salt into the warm water. Gradually add flour and mix with a wooden spoon until the dough is pliable enough to use your hands. Mix with hands, being careful to not overwork the dough. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.
  • Make a ball with the dough and work between hands to form a patty—mix oil and water in a bowl to coat your hands to keep the dough from sticking—keeping the edges smooth.
  • Heat a griddle and melt butter. Put patties on the griddle until golden brown spots appear on one side. Keep flipping until both sides are nice and golden.
  • Slice and stuff with your favorite anything and eat it like a sandwich. Alternatively, top with that same anything and eat it with a fork. Adiós!