Thursday, August 16, 2012

August 16th is National Bratwurst Day!!

It’s National Bratwurst Day! What kind of a good Wisconsin girl would I be if I didn't recognize this as a true National Holiday??  

Did you know that the name bratwurst combines two German words?  "Brat” which means “fry” and “wurst” which means “sausage.”  Read more about brats here:

Bratwursts originated in Germany (hence the German name) and have been around since the 14th century. These sausages are generally made from pork, veal, or beef and are usually grilled or fried.  True Bratwurst aficionado's never, ever, never eat brats with ketchup.  Never.  Spicy brown mustard, onions, sauerkraut - YES.  Ketchup - no - no - No - NO - NO!!!!!!!!!.
Brats are tremendously tasty right from the grill.  Some people pre-cook them to reduce the grilling time.  You can boil them in water, or do what most Wisconsinites do and boil them in beer.  Here's a recipe straight from Johnsville - they make a mighty fine brat.

Johnsonville Brat Hot Tub (
large (11-inch x 9-inch x 2 3/8-inch) aluminum foil baking pan 
2 to 3 cans (12 ounces each) beer* 
2TBLS butter 
medium yellow or white onion, sliced
Brats - of course you should use Johnsonville brats!
Put the pan right on the grill - pour in the beer, and add the butter and onions.  Grill the brats to a juicy, golden-brown perfection.  Serve immediately or place brats into the steaming hot tub.  Let soak for a while then serve. 
*Do what Julia Child always recommends.  Never cook with a beer that you wouldn't normally drink.  Ok..she said that about wine, but you know what I mean.  I suggest a hearty Wisconsin beer.  Something from Leinenkugels ( or New Glarus Brewery (  

Here is a really creative way to serve brats - as an armadillo egg.  Not a real egg - doesn't even include an egg.  Just an egg-shaped, bacon covered taste sensation!!

Armadillo "eggs"

6 medium to large jalapeno peppers (remove stem, cut in half and remove all seeds)
Cream cheese or goat cheese
12 slices of bacon
3 grilled bratwursts, cut into 1 inch chunks

Take one half jalapeno and fill with cream cheese.  Cover cream cheese with 1/4 of a chunked bratwurst.  Wrap all of this in one slice of bacon.  You can secure with toothpicks if necessary.  Repeat with remaining ingredients.  You will have 12 "eggs".

Place on grill (try to have cheese-side up) and cook until bacon is crisp and done.  No need to turn.  You can also bake these in a 350ยบ oven until bacon is crisp.

Get creative with this recipe.  Experiment with different soft cheeses and different meats like sliced chicken or turkey.  Don't like the heat of a jalapeno?  Try with bell peppers instead (use only 1/4 of a pepper or you'll need more bacon to wrap).  Always, I repeat, always, wrap in bacon.  No substitutions allowed there.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

1,000 hits!

YAY!  I finally reached 1,000 hits on this blog today.  

So happy to share my thoughts with you all.  

Stay tuned....more to come!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

National Zucchini Day!

Yes - it's finally here!  Today - August 8 - is National Zucchini Day!

I don't make this stuff up folks. says so:  National Zucchini Day

By now, everyone's garden is bursting with these babies.  Let's celebrate with some new ways to eat this versatile veggie.

Grilled Zucchini

This is one of my favorite ways to fix zucchini - probably because it's the easiest.  

Measurements aren't really that important - just enough for how many you're feeding (or make lots and reheat for lunch!)  I try to have an equal amount of each of the veggies below - but go with what you like.

Zucchini - cut into medallions or thick sticks
Yellow Summer Squash - cut into medallions or thick sticks
Green bell peppers - cut into inch-sized chunks
Yellow onion - cut into inch-sized chunks
Olive oil
Sprinkle of Red pepper flakes (more or less for heat)
Sprinkle of Dried oregano
Couple shakes of Garlic Powder
Salt and black pepper to taste

Place the cut up veggies in a large bowl.  Pour enough olive oil over to coat well.  Season with desired seasonings and toss to distribute.  Place in a grilling bowl (here's one similar to the one I have - Grilling skillet) and pop in grill.  Stirring and tossing often, cook until veggies are browned.  Try not to let them get too mushy.

Mix and match any veggies you like or what you have on hand.  I have used yellow and red peppers, sweet and/or hot banana peppers and asparagus - but you can add what you like.  Sometimes I vary the seasonings as well - dried basil instead of oregano, for example.

Zucchini "pasta"

Pasta generally doesn't have a lot of flavor - neither does zucchini - so it is a good, low carb/no grain, substitution.  Here are a few of ways to make your "noodles".

1.  Use a veggie peeler.  Simply make long strokes with your peeler.  This will make rather thin noodles.
2.  Use a mandolin.  You can made wide strips of varying thicknesses with this - perfect for the last recipe below.  Here is a very economical one that I use:  Mandolin.  It even comes in its own case for easy storage.
3.  Use a julienne peeler - here's one with a protective cover:  Julienne Peeler  Always a good idea not to include fingertips in your meals.  This will make thicker noodles than the veggie peeler.
4.  Use a spiral slicer.  This will make "angel hair" noodles.  I use this one:  Spiral Slicer

Cooking time will vary with the thickness of your "noodles".  The angel hair noodles take only a minute or two in boiling water.  Run under cool water to stop the cooking process and then DRAIN WELL!!  Use your favorite sauce - marinara, alfredo, etc.  You could probably even cook the noodles directly in the sauce and save a pot to wash!

So you try making angel hair noodles and cook them too I did the first time.  You end of up with a mush of cooked zucchini.  Never fear - you can turn that mush into another fine side dish!

Zucchini pancakes/waffles

1 cup leftover zucchini mush (or use shredded zucchini)
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large egg
1/4 cup almond flour
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes (more if you like it hot)
salt and pepper to taste

Mix together in small bowl.  You can either fry in olive oil on the stove top and make pancakes, or place into a greased waffle iron to make waffles.  If you use the waffle iron - let it sit and cook for a while.  If you open it too soon, you'll split your waffle apart - let the waffle iron do its job!  You can add shredded cheese to this if you'd like.  Experiment with different herbs...dill would be tasty in this.  I usually top with a little butter or a dollop of sour cream.

I haven't tried the following recipe yet...but think I will to celebrate tonight!

Grilled Zucchini Roll-ups
3 small zucchini (about 1/2 pound each), cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
1/16 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
1 1/2 ounces fresh goat cheese
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
2 ounces bagged baby spinach (2 cups lightly packed)
1/3 cup basil leaves

Remove the outermost slices of zucchini; brush the rest with oil on both sides. Sprinkle the zucchini slices with salt and pepper. Grill until tender, about 4 minutes per side. You can prepare the zucchini a day ahead and store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

In a small bowl, combine the goat cheese, parsley, and lemon juice, mashing together with a fork.  Put 1/2 teaspoon of the cheese mixture about 1/2 inch from the end of a zucchini slice. Top with a few spinach leaves and a small (or half of a large) basil leaf. Roll up and place seam side down on a platter. Repeat with remaining zucchini slices. 

You can make these up to a day in advance; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Two thoughts for today + Chocolate Mousse

Yep....gonna say it yet again.  Sugar is poison.  It's toxic.  It should be avoided.  I'm also gonna repeat my saying that high cholesterol is not a disease - it doesn't need to be treated.

To me, sugar is public enemy #1.  Fortunately, the word is spreading.  Here is another like-minded individual's take on the subject:  Apparently 60 Minutes (CBS) and I are on the save wavelength - they re-broadcast their segment, "Is sugar toxic?" tonight.  Missed it??  Watch it here: 60 Minutes: Is Sugar Toxic?

I have also been reading more and more about how bad statins and other cholesterol-reducing drugs are for you:  I will revisit cholesterol levels later - stay tuned!

There are healthy alternatives to sugar.  Here are few I use (with links to my amazon store so you can try them for yourself):
STEVIA:   Stevita liquid - love all the different flavors you can get - I prefer to use this in drinks and cooking rather than baking
ERYTHRITOLNOW Foods Erythritol - good for baking
XYLITOLHealth Garden Xylitol - good for baking do they taste????   I posted my "go to" Chocolate Mocha Cake a while back as well as my No Bake Cheesecake.  Try these and see for yourself.   

OR....try my Chocolate mousse:

Chocolate Mousse

1 cup whipping cream
8 oz cream cheese (room temperature)
2 tbsp peanut butter (optional)
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa 
1 cup sweetener of choice

Whip the cream until stiff peaks form and set aside.
In separate bowl, beat cream cheese until very smooth. Beat in peanut butter (if desired), cocoa and sweetener until well mixed. Take a large spoonful of the whipped cream and blend it into the cream cheese mixture to soften it a bit more. Gently fold the whipped cream into the cream cheese mixture and refrigerate.