So after more than five years without a visit, I finally made my way back to my old alma mater - the University of Wisconsin - this past weekend. U-Rah-Rah, how I've missed you Madison! Although time, money and circumstances have kept me away from my beloved college town for so long, I will forever be a Badger - even while living amongst smug SEC people. Not that I'm bitter or anything...Moving on...I had such a blast wandering around the campus and revisiting all of my old haunts and watering holes. The school looked gorgeous, the weather was brisk but sunny and the food was terrific. On the agenda: a football game, trip to the nation's largest farmers market and a pub crawl with old friends that included a stop by my favorite German bierhall. What more could an alum ask for? (Well, other than a game day victory, but I digress.) As for food, here's a sample of what we ate: macaroni & cheese, bratwurst, beer cheese soup, beer-battered cheese curds, ice cream, more brats and more fried cheese curds. Are you sensing a trend? If it's comfort food you want, or fabulous microbrewed beers at insanely low prices, Mad-Town delivers. I ate possibly the best mac & cheese I've ever tasted over the weekend. And let's put it this way, my boyfriend - enjoying his first trip to Wisco - chowed down on a burger served on a pretzel roll and topped with a one-quarter pound bratwurst patty, applewood smoked bacon and cheddar cheese. Woof-dee. I felt full just writing about that. I think if it wasn't so cold, he'd be willing to move there just to soothe his newly-discovered cheese curd addiction. Seriously, if you've never been to Madison or Milwaukee, you should really check it out. Just not in the dead of winter.
Anyway, for all you dairy lovers, here here are a few low-calorie variations of cheesy recipes, courtesy of Hungry Girl.
HG's Too-EZ Mac 'n Cheese
1 package Green Giant Family Size Cauliflower & Three Cheese Sauce (freezer aisle)
2 cups uncooked Ronzoni Healthy Harvest Whole Wheat Blend Rotini Pasta (or another whole-wheat or whole-wheat-blend pasta)
3 wedges The Laughing Cow Light Original Swiss cheese
Prepare pasta according to the instructions on the box, and then drain well and set aside. While pasta is cooking, place contents of the cauliflower & sauce package in a large microwave-safe bowl. Cover and microwave for 12 - 16 minutes, until sauce has melted and cauliflower is hot.
Once the bowl is cool enough to handle, remove it from the microwave and add cooked pasta. Set aside. Unwrap cheese wedges and place in a small microwave-safe dish. Microwave for 30 seconds. Stir until smooth, and then add to the bowl.
Mix thoroughly, ensuring that the Laughing Cow cheese is evenly distributed and the pasta and cauliflower are coated in cheese sauce. If you like, season to taste with salt and pepper.
HG's Fiber-ific Fried Cheese Sticks
2 light mozzarella sticks (50-60 calories and 2.5g fat per stick)
1/4 cup Fiber One bran cereal (original)
2 tbsp. fat-free liquid egg substitute
salt, pepper & Italian seasonings; to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor or blender, grind Fiber One to a breadcrumb-like consistency. Place crumbs in a small plastic container with a lid. Season crumbs with as much salt, pepper and Italian seasonings as you like. Set aside. Cut cheese sticks in half, so that you have 4 sticks. Place sticks in a small bowl, and pour egg substitute over the top of the sticks. Swirl egg substitute around so that it thoroughly coats the sticks. One by one, transfer sticks to the container with the crumbs. Cover container, and give it a shake to coat the sticks in the crumbs. Carefully return sticks to the dish with the egg substitute, and coat them again. Next put sticks back in the crumbs container, cover, and shake once more to coat (try doing this two at a time the second time around). Place sticks on a baking dish sprayed lightly with nonstick spray. Spritz the tops of the sticks with a quick mist of the spray. Place dish in the oven, and bake for 10 minutes (or until the first sign of cheese oozing out). If desired, serve with warm marinara sauce.
Now, for a little taste of a football game at Camp Randall, check out these video clips.