Bonfyre American Grille, Madison, WI

Truffle Fries - Bonfyre Grill, MadisonAfter an afternoon of mini golf on our first day in Madison, we were relieved to settle down for an early dinner at Bonfyre Grille. The exterior was kind of blah, while the interior was quite nice. Think classic American grill house with lots of wood grilled dishes.

Our table of nine shared two appetizers, which was plenty of food to go around. You can’t go wrong with truffle fries ($8)! Crispy shoestring fries topped with asiago and truffle oil. There’s aioli for dipping, but you really don’t need it. The fries were nicely seasoned, and the truffle oil was flavorful, but not overwhelming. It’s basically a party in your mouth!

Maytag Bleu Potato Chips - Bonfyre Grill, MadisonOur other appetizer was the maytag bleu potato chips ($9). Potato chips topped with maytag bleu, pepperjack, tomatoes and scallions. I’m not sure how I feel about the combination of blue cheese and pepperjack… seemed mismatched, but then again, I’m not the biggest fan of blue cheese. The chips were tasty though. Too bad most of it was drowned in cheese. You just need a teensy bit of cheese as it’s really rich.

John and I shared a side of the grilled caesar salad. The dressing was a bit much for me, and I should have asked for it on the side. However, the grilled romaine was good. Grilled Caesar Salad - Bonfyre Grill, MadisonJohn’s angel hair pasta ($14) was tossed in infused chili oil, onions, pine nuts, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, garlic, basil, with parmesan and goat cheese for toppings. This normally comes with eggplant, but John asked them not to include it. The chef substituted with mushrooms, which is, unfortunately, another thing he won’t eat. More mushrooms for me! I wouldn’t think to use chili oil with pasta, but it works. Angel Hair Pasta - Bonfyre Grill, MadisonThe kitchen must have had a surplus of mushrooms because my spring risotto ($16) also came with mushrooms even though it’s not mentioned on the menu. Creamy lemon zest risotto with asparagus, mushrooms, roasted tomatoes, spinach, onions, parmesan, and asiago cheese. It almost looks like it’s missing a spoonful of risotto, doesn’t it? I rarely have risotto, so this was a real treat, especially with some extra black pepper. Spring Risotto - Bonfyre Grill, MadisonIt was very kind of John’s parents to treat us all to dinner. Everyone was too stuffed for dessert as the entrees, including the kids’ meals, had good sized portions. The meat eaters indulged in marinated steak, baby back ribs, and even rotisserie chicken. Everything seemed reasonably priced, and John’s parents were surprised by the total when the waiter brought out the bill. Good spot for dinner if you’re ever in Madison!

Blue Spoon Cafe, Madison, WI

Blue Spoon Cafe, MadisonI’ve been a little slow at transferring photos off my iPhone lately, but here are a couple from our recent trip to Madison when we visited Blue Spoon Cafe in a quaint little town called Prairie du Sac. A casual little cafe with a tiered patio in the back with views of the Wisconsin River. I’ve visited Madison before, but this was my first visit not in the middle of winter. Green and peaceful. It’s so charming this time of the year.

Blue Spoon Cafe, MadisonBlue Spoon Cafe has a great selection of burgers, wraps, sandwiches, and the like. The ingredients were fresh and oh so colorful. I was tempted by the veggie quesadilla, but I opted for something lighter instead. Half a veggie sandwich with a side salad topped with avocado vinaigrette. The sandwich was packed with hummus, baby spinach, avocado, red onion, kalamata olives, cucumber, and artichoke hearts on cracked wheat bread. Not bad for a quick outdoor lunch overlooking the river on a sunny day.

Introducing the Spiral Slicer

Vegetable Spiral SlicerIntroducing the newest toy in our kitchen: the vegetable spiral slicer! There are several similar models on Amazon, and ours was just $20 with free shipping. I love noodles and have been wanting to make zucchini noodles for some time, but there was no way I could do this by hand. I’ve heard about people who try to slice noodles by hand — so tedious! I was worried that the spiral slicer wouldn’t work very well, but that was not the case at all. Gently turn the handle, and it all goes very smoothly. In fact, it was so fun to use that I had to stop John from spiraling so I could try it before we were all out of zucchini!

Zucchini noodles with marinara sauce, sauteed mushrooms, and asparagus. A simple veggie focused meal with a little help from the spiral slicer. I’d love to do something with potato ribbons… maybe fry them up so they’re nice and crispy. Any other ideas? Zucchini Noodles with Marinara Sauce, Mushrooms, Asparagus

Vegetarian Ramen Burgers

Vegetarian Ramen BurgerWhenever we watch MasterChef, we always make sure we have something good to snack on or else watching that show would be torture! Last week, a ripe avocado in the kitchen inspired us to make ramen burgers. All the ramen burger places in NYC don’t offer a vegetarian option, so we make our own! This is the second time we’ve made these. A nice juicy Gardein burger patty, sauteed mushrooms, sliced avocado, and sriracha sauce. This time around, we reduced it to 1/2 egg for each burger bun. The egg acts as the glue to hold the noodles together. I really like that the noodles held together, but were still loose and bouncy in along the edges of the bun. Tasty, but messy to eat!

BBQ at the Englewoods Cliffs, NJ

Englewoods BBQ, New JerseyEarlier this summer, Chang invited us to a BBQ at the Englewood Cliffs. Lovely setting with a great view of Manhattan. It was a bit of a drive, especially as Google maps kept causing problems along the way, but it was a nice place to spend an afternoon with friends. Ken got a good shot of Chang tending to the grill before we arrived. So much food! Englewoods BBQ, New JerseyThe boys spent a while tossing a frisbee around, but it kept ending up in the river. Oops. Poor Chang kept going to fetch the frisbee in his flip flops. Tossing small pebbles in the river ended up being a much better activity.
Englewoods BBQ, New JerseyWe brought a refreshing Israeli salad with finely diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers topped with a drizzle of lemon juice and tahini. However, the highlight for me was the tofu slices. I pressed the tofu, then froze it overnight. Once it had thawed, I marinated it in a mixture of lemon juice, brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, and sriracha. The acidity and light heat of the marinade were perfect. I could not stop eating the tofu! Englewoods BBQ, New Jersey

Labor Day Feast

Vegetarian Plate for Labor DayHope everyone had a great Labor Day weekend! Since we were out of town last weekend, we spent Labor Day weekend at home. Quiet time at home with the cats. :) We picked up some veggie treats from VP2. Vegetarian fried chicken, fish & chips, BBQ kabobs. I also decided to make a batch of buttery biscuits. It’s been over a year since I’ve made these beautiful biscuits! Added fennel seeds and shredded cheddar for extra flavor. What a meal! We also had some veggie burgers topped with avocado last night. No pictures though. Gobbled the burgers up too quickly!

Trailer Park Lounge, Chelsea

Trailer Park Lounge, ChelseaAfter dinner at Devi, we stopped by Trailer Park Lounge for a few drinks. Liana was celebrating her last day of work before going on vacation and starting a new job. You don’t see many themed bars around here, and trailer park theme is just so not NYC. Neon signs, kitschy decor, plastic flamingos, and a tiki bar. Fun place to come with a group. We shared a pitcher of a blue cocktail called Jim Bob’s I.Q. It was quite deadly. Just thinking about that blue concoction makes my head hurt a little! They also have a good selection of food, from burgers and hot dogs, to nachos and mac & cheese. We’ll have to try the food if we come back! Trailer Park Lounge, Chelsea