I’m not saying I’d sport a cheesehead, I couldn’t name more than two Packers players, and I’ll never refer to a “water fountain” as “the bubbler.” I can’t deny, however, that I may just be falling for this state.
When Ben first choose the University of Wisconsin-Madison for law school, I was not the world’s most supportive fiancée. In fact, I cried at least three times within our first two hours of apartment hunting. From my selfish perspective, in the Twin Cities I had friends, a solid job, and a favorite pizza joint. Why leave just to be in a similar city that had none of the good (friends, job, amazing pizza) and only the bad (miserable winter)?
Maybe it’s the fried cheesecurds going to my head, but I’m falling for this place. (If you’ve never experienced a fried cheesecurd, please book a ticket to Wisconsin immediately.) It certainly helps that my time so far has been all summer wonder—free concerts, outdoor dances, farmers market trip, lazy days at the beach—but there is a relaxed attitude to Madison that I find irresistible. Don’t feel like getting dressed up to go for a drink? Flannel and flip flops are always acceptable. Not in the mood to pay more than $3 for your beer? Try the special on tap. And the epitome of Wisconsin attitude: Lake Culture.
View from the University of Wisconsin-Madison student union.
I might enroll just for this perfect perch.
If it’s a good weekend in Wisconsin, a body of water is involved. Whether you are relaxing on a dock, biking a lake-side trail, or out on a boat, the lake is the place to be. No need for fuss or fancy yachts. Just bring your cooler and (if you are so lucky) your grill.
While Ben and my weekend “lake trips” are typically to one of the city lakes, this past weekend we were invited out to a friend’s family lake house along the shore of Lake Michigan. We spent a glorious 24 hours in the company of college friends playing silly games and enjoying Wisconsin’s finest products: cheese, New Glarus, more cheese, and the beautiful lake itself.
Life could not be sweeter. Or cheesier.
The night after we returned, I already missed our lake side paradise. My craving for sunshine, the refreshing chill of the water, and the scent of a BBQ translated itself into dinner. A piece of the lake life arrived at our table in the form of TILAPIA BURGERS.
Grilled and golden.
I adore seafood, but it can be on the pricier side. TILAPIA BURGERS, however, are an extremely affordable way to enjoy it, without resorting to fish sticks. By using frozen tilapia filets, this recipe generates six servings of restaurant-worthy dining for less than $10, including a side of homemade zucchini fries with basil dipping sauce!
Jalapenos and red onion lend texture…and a kick.
My TILAPIA BURGERS are both hearty enough to satisfy meat lovers (Ben) and healthy enough to please lighter meal champions (Yours Truly). Diced jalapenos lend a kick, and a topping of salsa and light sour cream round out the flavor.
From an aspiring Wisconsin lake bum with love, I give you TILAPIA BURGERS. Bon appetite!
Tilapia Burgers Catch of the day, spiced up for summer.
Quick, healthy, and budget friendly. Uses frozen tilapia, but tastes fresh!
1 1/2lbs.frozen skinless tilapia filets— thawed (or fresh if preferred)
2/3cupsbreadcrumbs,— whole wheat if possible
1large egg— plus 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
2tablespoonsspicy brown mustard
2medium jalapeños— seeded and finely chopped
1small red onion— diced
Olive oil— for greasing skillet
Whole wheat hamburger buns— for serving
1/2cupprepared salsa— for serving
1/2cuplight sour cream— for serving
Roughly cut tilapia into cubes. Add to food processor or a stand mixer. Process (or beat) until the tilapia breaks down and sticks together.
Add eggs, breadcrumbs, garlic, mustard, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, and oregano. Mix until combined, then stir in onion and jalapeño.
Lightly oil a large griddle or skillet (preferably cast iron) and heat over medium. Divide tilapia mixture into six portions. Form into patties, pressing tightly with your hands to prevent cracking. Cook patties until golden on each side, about 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to keep warm. Repeat with remaining burgers.
Toast buns on skillet if desired. Serve burgers topped with prepared salsa and sour cream.
Leftover tip: If not serving all six burgers at once, refrigerate or freeze the tilapia mixture uncooked in a tightly sealed container. Make and grill the patties the night you serve them for the freshest taste. If freezing, thaw in the refrigerator overnight prior to use.