Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hearty Halloween Meal

By Stefanie Dulak

What you eat during a weekend like Halloween in Madison is important. You need something hearty and homey, something that will “soak up” the fun of your weekend. To me, nothing is more cozy than mac and cheese, but in the spirit of fall, I wanted something classier than Kraft. I found this recipe on Food Network’s Web site, and it sounded like the perfect ratio of heartiness to fall-iness. I mean, it has apple in it, and what says fall more than apples? This mac and cheese is easy to make, tastes delicious, and certainly stands up to the excitement of Halloween weekend.

Apple-Sausage Mac and Cheese


  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for the dish
  • Kosher salt
  • 3/4 pound medium pasta shells
  • 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 6 ounces chicken-apple sausage, sliced 1/2 inch thick (I found precooked chicken-apple sausage at Woodman’s that worked great, but I would use 12 ounces instead of 6.)
  • 1 tablespoon mustard powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups apple juice (I didn’t have apple juice so I used 2 cups apple cider and 1 cup water, and it was the perfect amount of apple flavor)
  • 1 pound monterey jack cheese, shredded (4 cups)
  • 1/2 pound extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded (2 cups)
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 35 small butter crackers (1 sleeve Ritz), crushed


  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 2 1/2-quart baking dish (I used a 9-by-12 inch baking dish and regular cooking spray instead of butter). Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil; add the pasta and cook until al dente, about 6 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the sausage, mustard powder, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, until the sausage is golden, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until lightly toasted, about 2 minutes. Stir in the apple juice and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, about 8 more minutes.
  3. Slowly stir about three-quarters each of the monterey jack and cheddar cheese into the sauce until smooth, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in the pasta and sour cream. Pour the mixture into the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with the crushed crackers and the remaining cheese. Bake until bubbly, 25 to 30 minutes. Let rest 10 minutes before serving.

Recipe from

Looking for another cozy and delicious meal? Check out the Autumn Golden Vegetable Lasagna recipe posted at The Dish.


The Cranberry: Wisconsin’s # 1 fruit crop!

This Saturday I attended a cranberry harvest in Warrens, WI.

It was an absolutely amazing experience, and my friends and I enjoyed ourselves very much and learned more than we ever thought we could about cranberries!

Here are a few fun facts we learned:

*The Tomah/Warrens, WI area is called “Cranberry Country” because this area is home to more than 2500 acres of cranberry marshes.

*While Wisconsin has a total of 123,000 acres of cranberry marshes, cranberries grow on only about 13,000 of these acres.

*Wisconsin produces more than 300 million pounds of cranberries annually! Thus, Wisconsin produces over 50% of the cranberries Americans eat every year.

*Cranberry growers wish for cold, cold late-summer and early-fall nights because this weather gives cranberries their deep crimson color!

*Can you guess what Wisconsin’s number 1 fruit crop is? The cranberry!

*Cranberries float because every berry has four air pockets.

*Cranberries actually grow OUT of the water in dry fields! The water is added during the harvest season to make the fruit collection easier (remember: cranberries float!)

And, we even had the opportunity to put on “the boots” and walk into a pond of floating cranberries!