Friday, August 31, 2012
This dish just kind of worked. It was completely experimental to the point where I had a backup plan of scrambled eggs if a disaster ensued. You see, Mark's sister had given us some produce from her garden and one of those items happened to be beets. Up to this point I had never had a beet in my refrigerator and had only recently introduced them to my palate. The beets longingly stared at me for four days from the second shelf of the refrigerator before I decided it was time to have a go at creating something with them.
I almost immediately knew what I wanted to do with the beets, make a plant burger. This might have been because my most recent encounter with them had been in this form and was an enjoyable experience. After scoping out the kitchen I noticed some tofu that was in desperate need of being used before getting forgotten. I started doing a little research and went off that to help brainstorm my own version of a plant burger. Since veggie burgers tend to be mushy enough as it is I pressed the tofu and cooked up some rice (I don't know what the rice does but many of the recipes I looked at used some). Throughout the rest of the afternoon I wrote down my incoherent thoughts until I came up with something that looked like it had a chance of being edible and maybe even slightly pleasant.
I got to work chopping, sautéing, and food processing my burger patty mixture. After the patties were formed I threw them in the freezer in hopes of firming them up a bit. This didn't work but it was worth a shot. Then I fried them up, threw them on buns topped with cheese, greens, and condiments and dug in.
Thursday, August 30, 2012
|Our food ticket (named after streets in St. Paul)|
Doing brunch had been on our summer bucket list so meeting up one Saturday after our Farmer's Market trip was an excellent opportunity to fulfill that bullet point on our list. On the ride to the restaurant Ben & Angie warned us that the place was small and had fend-for-yourself seating, something that would have thrown me off had I not been briefed beforehand. Sure enough and true to the description the place was small and extremely busy. Knowing we were newbies, Ben & Angie ordered quickly and hustled to find us seating while Mark and I mulled over the menu. After finally ordering we took our seats on the two stools at the bar that Ben & Angie had secured for us and waited for our food to arrive.
Mark went with a full stack of flappers complete with apple, brie, honey and walnuts on top. I wish I could have snapped a picture of the look on my face when Mark's HUGE plateful of yeast-based pancakes arrived. They were smothered in the above mentioned toppings and were delicious.... for a few bites. After a while they were just too heavy for me. As luck would have it Mark loved them, especially the thickness of the pancakes. He could see how these flappers worked as sandwich bread (one of the ways you can order any of the sandwiches on the menu). Mark also thought the brie was a great addition to the pancake toppings. However, he noted that there was just too much honey. The honey was literally covering the plate, he couldn't even eat the bottom flapper due to the saturation.
|Ready to dig into his stack of flappers|
|Close up of the apple, brie, walnut flappers with honey|
|My yummy frittata|
*The Minneapolis location is the one featured on Diners, Drive Ins, and Dives.
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
|Mark's Zoolander face|
Obviously we had scope the place out for ourselves. The menu looked good, but they had some big expectations to fulfill. For starters, did they have a cool french-looking waiter to give Mark free iced tea?
Due to the fact that the restaurant is all the way in St. Paul (Minneapolis, you feel me?) and Mark had to work all week we went for dinner. As with most Restaurant Week participants, Mertiage put together a 3-course meal menu for a fixed price of $30. So it's a nice way to try some of the best restaurants in the city for a reasonable price.
|Restaurant Week menu|
|Luckily, I remembered to take a picture|
before devouring and asking for more
Saturday, August 25, 2012
My Monday-Friday breakfast is usually one of two things: cold oatmeal or an egg sandwich. Both are extremely easy to make, delicious, and fill me up after my workout.
One day I will get around to posting the cold oatmeal recipe (maybe when I don't prep it at 11:00 pm I will remember to take pictures!), but for today it will be an egg sandwich that I seriously can not get enough of. It has cheese, vegetables, avocado, and garlic smushed between two slices of bread.
There are endless possibilities for twists you could make on this sandwich to turn it into your own. It's also one of those recipes you could make a couple servings of ahead of time for on-the-go meals.
It's delightful! I hope you agree.
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
So if you have someone close who doesn't like celery, deeming ants on a log a non-option, try replacing it with carrots for an easy afternoon snack.
Celery Haters Ants On A Log
1-2 tablespoons peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
Slice carrot(s) into mini sticks.
Spread peanut butter onto carrot sticks.
Top with raisins.
Every time that restaurant week comes around, Tara and I spend hours researching and debating which restaurants we want to visit. This summer, we had narrowed our lunch restaurant down to a few finalists, and the winner was Fire Lake Grill. While Fire Lake isn't one of the celebrated restaurants in the Twin Cities, it had some great choices on the restaurant week menu.
We visited Fire Lake on a weekday. I got off of work, and we walked over to the Radisson hotel. The host showed us to our table where we were seated in generously-cushioned chairs. When our waitress came, we had to specially request restaurant week menus, but she was happy to provide them.
|Restaurant week menu|
Monday, August 20, 2012
So things got kind of hectic around here last week. One thing after another came up, before I could breath it was Friday and I had about 1/2 lb of VERY ripe strawberries in the refrigerator. My first instinct was to eat them right then and there, but then I remembered seeing a recipe for banana peach muffins earlier in the week that I really wanted to try. So I just replaced the peaches with strawberries.
Problem solved. Q.E.D. (I know that isn't being used correctly, it's an inside joke).
I played around just a little with the recipe by lowering the amount of maple syrup and replacing half the oil with applesauce. Not because the recipe wasn't healthy enough as is, but because I had (still have) some applesauce that needed to be used and I like to play around with recipes to make them my own. Following exact directions is so 3rd grade, am I right?
These are light enough to be part of a breakfast, small enough to be an afternoon snack, and sweet enough to be a dessert.
These also freeze well. Just put leftovers in an airtight container and place them in the freezer. When you crave one, take it out and defrost in the microwave!
It's my new go-to muffin recipe and I can't wait to try them with other kinds of fresh fruit.
Whole Wheat Strawberry-Banana Muffins
Adapted slightly from here
1 1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup thick cut oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup applesauce
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
2-3 ripe bananas, mashed (I always keep frozen ripe ones in my freezer)
1/2-1 Ib strawberries, sliced
1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional but recommended, preferably Saigon cinnamon
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Combine flour, oats, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
In a separate smaller bowl combine applesauce, oil, maple syrup, mashed bananas.
Mix wet ingredients into dry, then add sliced strawberries and fold gently until barely combined.
Either line a muffin pan with liners or spray pan with cooking spray and fill 3/4 of the way full.
Bake for 20-22 minutes or until golden brown and the sweet aroma of baking fills your house.
Serve warm or cold. Both are delicious.
Sunday, August 19, 2012
|Our turtle, Zooey|
Friday Evening (8.17.12): We started our new apartment search by viewing a place in Golden Valley; the place set the bar pretty high. Then we went to Bed, Bath, & Beyond to purchase some much needed new Brita filter, went home and ate dinner (dessert too!), made some notecards for Mark, and watched some Dark Shadows!
|Friday night dinner: slow cooker vegetable-pasta soup|
with ham & cheese sandwiches
|If I write out the formulas that makes me smart, right?|
|Dessert from Cocoa & Fig|
|FINALLY some Dark Shadows!|
Saturday, August 18, 2012
- You like chocolate
- You like peanut butter
- You like oatmeal
- You are a fan of healthy, filling breakfast recipes that have no added sugar
Double Dark Chocolate-Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
Inspired by these
1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2-1 tablespoon dark cocoa powder
pinch of salt
1/2 mashed banana (or 1/4 cup applesauce)
1/4 cup milk (I used almond)
1 tablespoon peanut butter, divided
1-2 tablespoons dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a small bowl combine oatmeal, cocoa powder, and salt. Then add mashed banana, milk, chocolate chips and 1/2 tablespoon of peanut butter* stirring until well incorporated.
Pour mixture into 1 cup ramekin and place in the oven.
Bake for 20-25 minutes.
Top with other 1/2 tablespoon peanut butter and enjoy :).
*You might want to warm peanut butter for 10 seconds in the microwave to make it easier to incorporate.
Friday, August 17, 2012
Pizza is our Kryptonite, as if you didn't already gather that. Strangely, I rarely ever make it for dinner; mixing and rolling out the dough, assembling the toppings.... It can get to be a lot of work, and I like to leave that work to the local pizzerias (I get all of the reward for doing none of the work). However the other day I just so happened to have some pre-made pizza dough and pesto in the freezer (don't you just love when that happens?).
If all that I needed to do was chop and sauté some veggies, grate a little cheese, put it on pizza dough, and throw it in the oven there was no excuse in my mind.
|Sauteed fresh summer vegetables, doesn't get much better|
Wednesday, August 15, 2012
|"Please form a single file line." Anyone else remember|
hearing that all through elementary school?
For being in such a cramped space it's got quite an extensive menu: sandwiches, pastas, wings.... All of which we wanted to try, but lets be honest Mark and I went for the pizza. We have a duty to the great people who happen to stumble upon this blog to show them the way to great Minneapolis pizza. It's a tasty job, and we are more than happy to do it. No "thank you" necessary :)
Sandwiches, pasta, and wings will have to wait for another day.
Back to the pizza. They do both by the slice and full size pizzas, which makes it a great spot for a quick snack or ordering take out. On the day we visited we were in a bit of a hurry to catch a movie so we went the pizza-by-the-slice route. This worked out well as it allowed us to try more toppings.
Mark ordered a slice of sausage & onion and I got a green pepper & onion. When our two slices came we were pleasantly surprised to see that each "slice" was the size of two normal sized pieces. They were thin crust pizza slices with a respectable amount of sauce, cheese, and toppings. And when I say a respectable amount of cheese I mean quality mozzarella oozing off the sides. As for the toppings: the green bell pepper was fresh and had really good flavor, the rings of red onion were cut thick and not skimped on, and the sausage was marble size (some bigger) and spicy.
We devoured them alongside a tossed salad (that makes it healthy, right?) and it ended up being the perfect amount of food for dinner.
|Look at the size of Mark's one "slice" and those sausage bits.|
For our rating:
1. Crust: 6 - Remarkably sturdy for a thin crust but nothing to blow you away.
2. Sauce: 8 - Mild, good amount, and not overpowering. However, it wasn't on Buca's level.
3. Toppings: 7 - Both of us were big fans of the sauce & cheese but would need to try more topping to give a better rating.
Overall Sweet Taste of Italy gets a 7, the pizza was pretty tasty but the cheese and size of toppings were the only parts that really stood out. Above average and a steal for the price.
Tuesday, August 14, 2012
I'm sure I'm not the first to do this, but I just made banana soft serve with cocoa powder and pretzels. I liked it a lot so I am typing it out for memory sake.
For the fans of the sweet & salty combo this snack is for you.
Sweet & Salty Chocolate Banana Soft Serve
1 frozen banana cut into chunks
1/2-1 tablespoon cocoa powder (depending on how dark you want it)
6 mini pretzels
1-2 tablespoons milk, optional
Dash of salt
sweetener of choice, if desired
Place banana chunks and milk (if using) in the bowl of a mini food processor and blend until almost all the banana chunks are smooth.
Add cocoa powder, pretzels, salt, and sweetener (if using) and finish blending until desired consistency.
Spoon into a glass and enjoy with more pretzels :)
Sunday, August 12, 2012
Thursday (8.9.12): Spent the day at Valleyfair, something we have been meaning to do for years.
|Big breakfast for a big day: quinoa cooked in coconut milk with|
cinnamon & bananas
|Lunch break before going on more rides|
|Waiting in line|
|At the top of the ferris wheel with Snoopy in the background|
|Scene straight out of Little Big League|
Friday, August 10, 2012
*Please ignore the horrible picture. It tastes so much better than it looks.
|Awesome dinner time lighting|
A few hours later I was still milling over what to make and decided to check out my favorite blogs for inspiration (I do this almost everyday). Lo and behold over at Iowa Girl Eats I stumbled upon a grilled corn orzo salad recipe that actually used most of the ingredients I was working with! It came with a recipe for a delicious sounding chili lime dressing to boot!
That girl and her recipes know the way to my heart, I swear.
Needless to say I worked off her recipe and created something that both Mark and I loved. Avocado, tomato, chili lime vinaigrette.... What's not to love.
I'm pretty sure the only thing that would have made it better was a margarita. Next time.
Fiesta Rice with Avocado and Tomato with a Chili Lime Vinaigrette
Adapted slightly from here
Serves 2-3 as a side
For fiesta rice:
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1/2 ripe beefsteak tomato
1/8 cup onion, minced
1/4-1/2 jalapeño, minced
For the vinaigrette:
2 teaspoons quality olive oil
1/4 tablespoon honey
1/2 lime juiced
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
pinch of pepper
salt to taste, if desired
Cook rice accordingly to directions on package.
Mix together olive oil, honey, lime juice, chili powder, garlic powder, and salt & pepper in a small dish.
Chop avocado and tomato.
Mix avocado, tomato, jalapeño, and onion in with rice.
Toss vinaigrette on top of rice mixture.
Stir to combine.
Enjoy hot or cold :)
Thursday, August 9, 2012
The other day I asked Mark if there was anything he wanted for dinner. He responded with "tofu". Shortly after I asked him if there was anything in particular he wanted me to do with the tofu, "it's really good breaded and fried" was his no-hesitation answer.
I chuckled a little on the inside...
...but I didn't completely disregard his suggestion, just the fried part.
Breaded tofu sounded appealing, but no bread crumbs were to be found in the cupboards. I then remembered that we had pretzels (my addiction du semaine). Perfect, problem solved!
Baked tofu breaded with crushed pretzels it was and I don't even think he noticed it wasn't fried ;)
|"Pressing" tofu in the Foreman|
|Ready to bread the marinated tofu|
Prezel breading adapted slightly from here
1/2 block extra firm tofu
12 mini pretzel snaps (I used Snyder's of Hanover)
1 tablespoon grated parmesan, romano, or pecorino
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon smoked sweet paprika
Dash of both salt & pepper
1 tablespoon honey mustard*
1/8 cup milk (I used almond)
Start by pressing tofu. If you don't have a tofu press like me just find something to squish the liquid out of the tofu for about an hour. I use our George Foreman Lean Mean Fat Grilling Machine :)
After an hour, cut tofu into shapes of choice (ours became dinosaur shaped by coincidence, hence the name).
Next, in a medium sized tupperware mix together the honey mustard and milk.
Place shaped tofu into tupperware, secure lid, and shake around to coat.
Put tofu mixture in the refrigerator for at least an hour (the longer the better), shaking every once in awhile.
When you are actually ready to bake the tofu, preheat oven to 400 degrees Farhenheit.
Chop pretzels in a small food processor until they resemble bread crumbs and place in a bowl.
Add the cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt & pepper to bowl with pretzels and mix.
Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and lightly spray with cooking spray.
Remove tofu from refrigerator.
Dip tofu pieces into pretzel mix and place on baking sheet.
Bake for 20-25 minutes flipping halfway through.
Serve with barbecue or honey mustard sauce.
*Don't have any honey mustard? No problem! Mix 1 part honey to 1 part dijon mustard for a quick fix.
Most of the time when I find a recipe I want to make I end up tweaking it here and there to make it something more up our alley. But sometimes I see something that looks and sounds so good that I don't want to change anything. This happened when I came saw Jenna's recipe for crock pot carnitas tacos back in July.
I bookmarked it in my head until last week when both Mark and I were craving tacos. I told him about the recipe and he was down. We went off to Whole Foods for some flank steak, came home to dust off the crock pot, seasoned and topped the meat, and waited the long 8 hours.
|Ingredients for success|
|Look how deliciously red the flank steak is|
|Rubbed with spiced and topped with chopped produce|
|8 hours later on a corn tortilla and topped with salsa & avocado|
Boy was it worth it. The steak was tender and juicy. The onion, bell pepper, and jalapeño combined for melt-in-your-mouth amazing flavor. Add corn tortillas, salsa, and fresh avocado, and you've got a home run.
Both Mark and I agreed that we wouldn't have changed a thing as far as the meat goes (except maybe adding more jalapeño, we like the heat). We also thought it tasted phenomenal in the tacos, much better than your run of the mill ground beef mixed with taco seasoning.
But we also noted how much like a roast the meat tasted. It wasn't a bad thing, just not what we were expecting. It was a pleasant surprise that left us wishing we had made more meat (we ate the entire 1/2 lb in one sitting). This slow cooked flank steak would taste absolutely mouth wateringly good as sandwich filling, with some melted cheese on top of course.
So if you're looking for a no hassle, tastes-like-you've-slaved-for-hours taco recipe, head on over to Eat, Live, Run and get your slow cooked carnitas on!
Tuesday, August 7, 2012
|Photo Source: Raw Food Life|
That all changed when Mark and I moved in together. Mark was most definitely on the anti-veggies side, which created a huge problem and lots of frustration come meal time. After I got angry with him countless times for not even trying to eat his vegetables I realized I had to take a different approach. One day I asked him "why don't you like vegetables?".
This question and his answer helped us tenfold. This is my first tip: ask them what turned them off to vegetables. For Mark raw vegetables didn't sit too well with stomach, he loathed frozen steam-able vegetables, and he didn't eat salads because he thought lettuce didn't taste like much.
Ok, I could work with that. Then I asked him another important question: "Are there any vegetables that you do like?". There are so many different vegetables out there, why group them all together and proclaim hatred for all?
He responded that he liked broccoli, green beans, potatoes (especially red), carrots, asparagus and loved spinach.
Monday, August 6, 2012
|Being silly, hiding under the bed|
|Made this for supper, but replaced sausage with homemade|
tempeh "sausage"... Delicious
|Farmer's Market loot: carrots, eggplant, corn, zucchini, banana peppers,|
jalapeños, tomatoes, and gorgeously purple onions
|This weeks Farmer's Market treat:|
a whole wheat peanut butter cooke from the Salty Tart
Friday, August 3, 2012
Looking at a base dinner recipe and cutting it down to 2-3 servings or tweaking it to better fit our preferences is something I am pretty comfortable with. With a little more garlic here or less oil there nothing will go horribly wrong, but baking is a different story. Baking is a science and the reason I appreciate Alton Brown and his precision so much.
But does that stop me from taking dessert recipes and attempting to cut them down?
Sometimes they don't turn out, other times they are meh, but on occasion they just work.
I am really happy when it just works (not because I don't like the experimenting because I love it) because for as many times as Mark (happily) tries and critiques my creations its nice to present him with a dessert that he loves.
This peach cobbler is one of those recipes. I could probably tweak it here or there but its good as is and easy to boot!
Make these with any fruit you have on hand and you should probably serve them with vanilla ice cream.
|Doesn't he look post-vacation fresh?|
Anywho, one night after dinner I was hit hard with a craving for ice cream. When I get a craving for something so specific I MUST get it otherwise I will get cranky (I imagine this is what pregnancy cravings are like, or so says my cousin Heather). Lucky for me, Mark is ALWAYS down when I want a treat so the crankiness never develops.
Gosh he's a trooper, isn't he? Me making him go get ice cream with me... I can't imagine how much he must have suffered ;)
After some researching on the interwebz, we discovered this place called Annie's Parlour in Dinkytown that was known to make some tasty malts. Even though there were places for ice cream closer, we figured what the heck? We hadn't been to Dinkytown since college so we gave it a go.
We parked a few blocks away, which turned out to be awesome because we found where Al's Breakfast was located. It's one of the restaurants on our bucket list, so it was nice to see its existence in person as opposed to just reading about it.