Easy Ham & Cheese Quesadilla

The other day I had a hankering for grilled cheese, but I’m watching my girlish figure–and by girlish I mean I am developing man boobs. Not good.

Anyway, I found some awesome whole wheat tortillas in the fridge that we bought recently at a local grocery store called Miller’s. The store often has local products, and sell locally made tortillas that are flat out amazing, by the Gitto Family Farm n Kitchen (Watertown, Wisconsin). The tortillas are light and airy and when you cook them in a skillet they become even more delicious, so they are perfect for soft tacos or in this case, quesadillas. And their whole wheat variety are not “woody” but also light and airy.

So making a “grilled cheese” in this way was the perfect compromise, and in some ways even better than the real thing.

Basically I heated up a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and put a couple of thin slices of ham and a cut up slice of American cheese (the deli kind preferably) on a tortilla half with a squirt of spicy mustard. I did this with a second tortilla and then put them in the skillet together, spraying the tops with cooking spray. After a couple minutes (or maybe just 90 seconds–be sure to check), I flipped the quesadillas over and cooked another 45 seconds to a minute or until browned. Then I removed to a plate and cut into segments with a pizza cutter.

I didn’t serve with anything to dip in but you could indeed use salsa or sour cream or even more mustard. Oh, and you have to serve some pickles on the side, like the giant garlic dill chunks I got from Tony Packo’s online store. Yum. Now I’m hungry again!


Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival–fun and flavor for all

Chef JimThanks for the fine folks at Grassland Butter, I took my wife and 5-year old son to the Sun Prairie Sweet Corn Festival two weekends ago. We moved to Wisconsin two years ago and this was the first time we went to the fest. It also certainly won’t be the last time. The food was great, the rides were great for our thrill-loving boy, and the weather was perfect as well (75 and sunny).

Chef JimGrassland was an official sponsor of the event, which meant their butter was the perfect companion to the sweet corn. We were amazed at the production line for the corn–as we waited with our tote, we watched the corn come out of the steamer in husks, after which we had to peel (ouch!) ourselves. Then we brought the corn to the butter table, where the fine folks rolled our corn in a gigantic block of Grassland butter, and then we made our way to the hanging salt shakers before gorging ourselves with the corn. Of course, it was peak season and the corn was delicious, but the Grassland butter really did take it to another level. My only regret was that I totally forgot about the grilled cheese sandwiches, which are also slathered with the butter and supposedly a fair favorite. Next year though!

Chef JimBefore we ate, our son dragged us to pretty much every ride there was, and every weird haunted house “ride.” My wife had the pleasure of going on just about everything, while I skated by only going on the flying swings with him once. He had the best time, and that is always the most important thing.

Chef JimSo, is it next August yet?


Restaurant review: Bluephie’s/Madison, Wisconsin

Okay, let me be clear about one thing. I’ve never written a restaurant review in my life, and I don’t want this to be a place where you will find snarky and snobby food critiques. But I will tell you about places I eat at the way that your friend, family member or neighbor would.

So last weekend, my wife and I got a babysitter and went to one of the restaurants we’ve been meaning to try since moving to Madison almost two years ago–Bluephie’s on Monroe Street on Madison’s near west side. The place is known for it’s extremely funky and unique menu–but it’s not pretentious. The menu is very much like interesting takes on everyday food.

Chef JimAnd as we sat down, my eyes automatically slid down to the grilled cheese section–and I couldn’t not order what I saw–a grilled cheese with pulled pork, mac & cheese, and caramelized onions. And I mean, all of those things IN the sandwich. But first we ordered drinks, and I had a Lake Louie Cream Ale–a Wisconsin brew that is just outstanding, and smooth and creamy as its name suggests. We ordered the tater tots as an appetizer, and we didn’t mind one bit that all of our food came at the same time. The grilled cheese was…..I won’t mince words here….ridiculous. And I mean that in every good sense of the word. It was one of the five best grilled cheese sandwiches of my life. The pork was tender and delicious, the cheese was oozing, and the mac and cheese and onions were subtle but added to the flavor. Damn. The tater tots, which are giant balls of shredded potatoes, mixed with cheese, were phenomenal and served with a chipotle mayo. I also had the spinach peanut curry soup–which had lots of flavor without being too heavy on the curry.

Chef JimMy wife had the Chickpea Chop sandwich, which was chickpeas, roasted peppers, artichokes and feta cheese with a lemon aioli. I didn’t try it but she loved it. Then for dessert we had a piece of red velvet cake that was the size of a bowling ball. Well, maybe not that big. Maybe the size of a football. But we had a few bites, then ate the rest for breakfast the next day. Ah, nothing like a happy belly.

The service was also excellent. Our server was informative, efficient and not annoying. That last part is always a plus.

Anyway, if you live in Madison and haven’t tried Bluephie’s, go check it out. And if you’re planning to visit, Bluephie’s is a must for something unique and very much Madison.


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