Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Restaurant Review: CRAVE (West End Location)

Earlier this summer I had a rare just-the-girls dinner with some old college friends. We all live in relatively the same area so we met up at the West End in St. Louis Park for dinner at CRAVE. I was looking forward to eating at CRAVE because I had never been and wanted to try it out.

We arrived around 6 pm and luckily we had a reservation because the place was busy. After we were seated our waiter came, took our drink and appetizer orders, and left us to scan the menu.....

We didn't see our waiter for another 15-20 minutes when he came to drop off our drinks and appetizers. By this time we were all starving and promptly placed our orders hoping the previous 20 minutes were just a fluke. I mean, they were busy but not THAT busy.

Unfortunately, we were wrong.

By the time our food actually came it was almost 8 pm. One of the girls I was with still had some planning to do for her job the next day so we each took a couple bites and asked for to-go boxes. When the checks arrived we all already had out our cards, hoping the waiter would pick up on our vibes.

Funny thing happened, knowing that he would get new customers the faster he got us out the door he had our cards back to us in record time!

Now that I got the negative part of my review out of the way on to the good....

The food was delicious!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Spicy Three Cheese Quinoa

Quinoa is Superfood (the superhero of foods). The flavor options seem to be endless and the nutrition profile gets an A+ in my book. Now that we got that out of the way let's talk about what I did with quinoa over the weekend for lunch.

I added cheese.

And garlic & onion.

And vegetables.

And adobo sauce.

Did I mention cheese?

The end result was creamy with a little bit of a kick (thanks to the adobo). The veggies added a little texture to give some life to the tiny beads of quinoa; chicken or hot dogs would work nicely as well. Or bacon. No judgement here. If you don't like spice, leave out the adobo sauce and if you don't have any adobo on hand use red pepper flakes.

Thanks to the quinoa and cheese this dish was filling and satisfying. Next time I am going to put some breadcrumbs on top and bake it for awhile.


Spicy Three Cheese Quinoa

Serves 2 as a main course for lunch / 4 as a side for lunch or dinner


1/2 cup dry quinoa

1/4 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp olive oil

1/8 cup milk

1/4 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

2-4 tablespoons grated romano cheese, divided

2 tsp adobo sauce

salt & pepper to taste

1/8 cup finely chopped carrot, optional

1/4 cup chopped broccoli, optional

1/4 cup chopped kale, optional


Rinse quinoa and cook according to package, set aside.

While quinoa is cooking, chop onion and veggies, mince garlic, and shred cheese if needed.

Heat olive in a skillet over medium heat, add onion and garlic, and allow to cook until fragrant (about 2-3 minutes).

Add veggies to skillet and turn burner to low.

In the meantime combine milk, cheddar, mozzarella, and 1/2 of romano in a small sauce pan over low heat. Stir occasionally until everything is melted, then lightly salt & pepper cheese sauce.

Check vegetables and make sure they are soft, then add then to the cheese mixture stirring to combine.

Stir in adobo sauce and taste, adding more salt and pepper if needed.

Stir in quinoa and mix well. Turn up burner heat to medium and allow to cook for another 5 minutes or so.

Divide evenly between two bowls and sprinkle with the remaining romano cheese.

Enjoy :)

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Spicy Black Bean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Last week ended up being crazy busy for us, as I had to be downtown 3 days in a row unexpectedly. I barely had a second to breathe let alone plan dinner, so the slow cooker was dusted off about a week earlier than expected. Not that I minded spending 15 minutes in the morning to coming home to a wonderfully smelling kitchen.

One of the things I made in the crock pot, besides this delicious chili, was "baked" sweet potatoes. All I had to do was wrap them in foil, throw them in the crock pot, turn on low, and come home with a ravenous stomach and a plan for a quick meal! Have I given thanks to the slow cooker Gods yet?

On the bus ride home I had come up with an idea for the sweet potatoes that involves semi-gutting then re-stuffing them with a tex-mex mixture (a lot like stuffed zucchini or squash). Given my love for the sweet potato/black bean combination and my craving for spice I jotted down a hodgepodge of ingredients I thought would go well with the bean and potato base.

Its basically a "dry" chili with tons of flavor. Now I know this recipe isn't revolutionary in any sense, but it was new to us and ready in about 20 minutes. Mission accomplished.

You could use the mixture as a side dish, filling for a vegetarian burrito, or maybe a sweet potato hash! Oh the ideas that went through my mind as I devoured mine.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Be'wiched Deli

Restaurants with the word "deli" in the title always get my attention. To me a deli is a place sure to have sandwiches, one of my favorite meals because they are endlessly customizable, quick, and, cheap leaving everyone satisfied. Obviously when I first heard of Be'Wiched Deli in the Warehouse District I thought it would be a great restaurant for Mark and me, no research necessary. Upon further inquiry (aka googling) I inserted it on the top of my "must-try" restaurants.

One day earlier this summer I happened to have a doctors appointment right around lunch time, so Mark blocked off a chunk of the afternoon and we hopped on the bus down to the restaurant. When we arrived it wasn't too busy, but filling up quickly. The place was set up a lot like a diner, complete with a display case full of baked goods, booth seating, and a chalk board at the counter menu.

After mulling over the menu for a few minutes (they have some unique and tasty sounding sandwiches) Mark settled on the smoked turkey on ciabatta and I went with the cup of soup and 1/2 sandwich combination of tomato gazpacho & veggie burger.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Baked Banana Bread French Toast

Now that you have the recipe for my banana bread you can make baked banana bread french toast! At first Mark was iffy about using banana bread as the base, but after one bite he became a believer.
Getting my bread sliced

Ready for the oven

Time to dig in
This was a great breakfast: a comfort dish without being too hard on the body.

And that banana bread? Gets better and better every time I take a bite.

Baked Banana Bread French Toast

Serves 2-3


4 slices banana bread

1 egg + 1 egg white

1/4 cup milk

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon brown sugar

1 teaspoon of cinnamon

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

dash of salt


The night before, leave the bread out to get stale.

The next morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a bowl big enough to hold everything mix together eggs & egg whites, milk, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and salt.

Break apart banana bread into bite size pieces and submerge in egg mixture; set aside.

In a small dish melt butter and mix in brown sugar.

Spray two 1-cup ramekins with cooking spray.

Pour banana bread batter evenly into ramekins and pour brown sugar mixture on top.

Place in oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve hot with toppings of choice.

Enjoy :)

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Banana Bread - As Healthy As I Ever Want It

This past weekend Mark and I were craving french toast but were fresh out of bread. This caused a major conflict for us because we try to only go to the grocery store twice a week, once on Sunday for weekly shopping and once on Wednesday to restock our empty apple inventory... it was Saturday. For normal people just making a loaf of bread to use would probably be an option and a delicious problem solver, but unfortunately I have yet to master the skill of working with yeast. I don't know what it is but nothing ever turns out when I try using yeast. A bread making class is in my future. In the meantime I must get a little creative (or so I think until I do a google search).

Regardless, we ended up happy and with french toast on Sunday morning.

I decided to make a healthified banana bread and use it as the french toast base. Now, I'm not crazy enough to think that lowering the amount of oil and replacing the sugar with honey makes banana bread something I can eat and eat, we wanted a comfort food breakfast and thats what we had. However, in terms of calories and added sugar this recipe is much lower than most while still being tasty (a slice of this has about 100 calories while a slice of Starbucks banana bread has almost 500!). So take it for what you will and remember healthier versions of your favorite treats are still treats and enjoy them accordingly.

Steps off soapbox.

Getting back to this banana bread: I used less sweetener because I made it with very ripe bananas, cut the oil down to just 2 teaspoons, and used half whole wheat/half all-purpose flour. The result was a soft, moist bread that tasted sweet enough to be a dessert and light enough for a snack. It was perfect for the baked french toast I made the next morning (recipe here).
The eggs were for the french toast, not the bread

Topped with butter and honey
As for the leftovers? They will be used as peanut butter and jelly sandwich bread for a post workout snack shortly!


Banana Bread - As "Healthy" As I Ever Want It

Makes 1 loaf,
Serves 10-12


1 1/4 cups flour (I did 1/2 WW and 1/2 all purpose)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

1/4 teaspoon salt

2-3 ripe bananas, mashed

1/4 cup applesauce

1/4 cup honey (I used a little less)

2 teaspoons oil (coconut or canola)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a large bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt; set aside.

In a smaller bowl mix together mashed bananas, applesauce, honey, oil, and vanilla.

Add wet ingredients to dry and stir well to combine.

Lightly spray a 9" by 4" loaf pan with cooking spray.

Pour batter into pan and place in preheated oven.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until top is golden brown.

Enjoy :)

Monday, September 3, 2012

Recipe Review: Quinoa Black Bean Burrito Bowls

So much yum!
Sometime last week I received an email from Mark's sister with a few recipes attached. This is a semi-regular occurrence between the two of us and I always get really excited because we seem to have the same philosophy on food: healthy without sacrificing flavor.

Two of the recipes were ideas for fall apples, one was for a chicken salad, and the other was for a black bean and quinoa burrito bowl. I knew right away that I wanted to try the burrito bowl first; it just called to me like all other mexican style dishes. So I soaked a huge batch of black beans and cooked them up the next day.

Other than using fresh black beans instead of canned I followed the directions exactly topping ours with fresh tomato, greek yogurt, and guacamole. Yum! Being as its the burrito filling without the wrap I thought I would miss the tortilla but I was wrong. Mark didn't even complain! It doesn't need anything else. Both of us just loved it.

Seriously... Make. This Tonight. It's definitely a winner.

Head on over to The Shiksa in the Kitchen for the recipe.
One last bad picture