Archive for the ‘Cooking’ Category

Welcome back, Food-Friends!

Whew!  Sorry about the sabbatical!  Around the time the last post popped up, both we admins gotta incredibly busy!   We were not too busy to enjoy some great new places, and create some killer dishes.  A few things are going to be taking place in the interim we’d like to share with you, loyal readers:

We finally got around to taking a joke and making it a reality.  A while back, whenever there was a restaurant we were jonesing to try we’d always refer to it as “A Bullet Point”.  I finally got around to making the bullet list and not only will we be trying our best to traipse our way through it, we’ll be posting reviews for your benefit.  (I’ll link to where some of the reviews have already been posted)

SEEDS!  We ordered some seed plants to get a head start on herbal goodness.  The plan is, she will be planting them and raising them in direct sunlight (My house is ridiculously dim) Once they take hold, they’ll be transferred to “the big pots” on my outdoor patio.  This will mark our first attempt at seed growth as opposed to our picking up various herbs etc. at the local Farmers Market.

FITNESS!  We’re training for a 1/2 marathon!  This is a first for both of us, and so we’ll be occasionally sharing recipes that we come across in our training manuals (“What’s that?  You advise eating MORE carbs while long-distance training?  Very well…I accept, sir.” ) and occasionally keeping you in the loop as to our progress.  (ICYC- We’ve been at it for about 3-4 weeks of slowly increasing progress.  She, has gotten past the 8 mile mark and has been cross-training to supplement it.   For my part, I’ve happily topped out at 5 with weekly increases…and weights.  I’m still closer to 200 lbs than I care to be, but hoping to get “leaned” up in time for the June race.)

Oh, don’t worry.  We won’t be turning this into a fitness blog.  But if you are reading here and have any tips or have ran a ‘thon, please comment away!  We welcome the advice/feedback.

That’s all for now.  I’ll be posting the restaurants later this week from our dream “bullet” list, in addition to a new review on a fancy little NE bistro that just opened down the street from us. 

Welcome back, friends!

(ps:  These are links to the Minneapolis Finder Forum.  If you poke around there and find a spot to add your own two cents in any of their forums, please do so!)

(pps: I’m only going to post the last few months worth of reviews.   A “*” will indicate one that we really liked)

Taj Grille- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about11411.html

* Pizza Luce’ Brunch- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about11469.html

Il Gatto- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about11669.html

Shish Brunch- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about11670.html

Pop! Brunch- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about11820.html

* Bar Lagrassa- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about11868.html

*Duplex- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about12210.html

*Amici Bistro- http://forum.minneapolisfinder.com/about12360.html

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Too much of a good thing?

I admit this much about food.

I fall prey to my eyes being bigger than my tummy.  And in the summer time after lumbering out of bed on a sunny Sunday,  sometimes skipping breakfast to beat the crowds, and then heading to the gorgeous Farmer’s Market it’s all I can do not to throw my cash at the Bratwurst seller or to scarf a bag of mini-Donuts while I peruse the fresh produce and artisan wares.  The way we hit the market is that we go with a general idea of what we plan on making- Whether it’s a late brunch or dinner- and play it by ear.  (This, friends, has its drawbacks.  As it raises the ultimate vicious circle of “Well what do YOU feel like making?”…scary)

Speaking of which, do you like “3-for-1” deals like I do?  I dig a bargain like the next person.  I find that buying ingredients one basket for one meal at a time just doesn’t feel as budget conscious as the “Three for ‘$’ ” deals you’re offered.  So what do you do if you go in wanting red potatoes and maaaaaybe broccoli and walk away with the additional peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, and Morton Soft Water Salt Pellet sized bag of spinach?

Improvise…(Cue jazz music here)

Our previously mentioned stir-fry dish in the last post is one of the initial reasons we hit the “LFM” (Heretoforthwith- Lyndale Farmer’s Market) but we  ended up with a lot of  extra produce (in the 3-fer packs) that I worried (I worry) about what to do with.  Soooo-  Wraps came first (Monday).  And then, we improvised.  It’s pretty easy, and we hope you enjoy:

We (You, gentle reader) had green pepper, tomato, spinach, and onion left over along with a mega sized bulb of garlic (Which, IMHO, you should always have one on hand.  Or two.  We smell.) I tend to make  bulk pasta purchases of varying noodle types so you have a variety to play with and tonight’s celebrity noodle?  Garafolo…complete with caustic observational mid-nineties humor.   (It’s like rotini, split down the middle)

Lastly, but not leastly- Early in the market season we stocked up on several different herbs which we potted.  Just 2.5 weeks since potting, we’ve been able to reap the bounty and at a bargain.  Fresh beats spice rack herbs hands down.  For this, we used Basil, Oregano and Thyme.

-Chop tomato, zucchini, onion, and green pepper.  MINCE the garlic and the herbs.

-In a medium to large skillet lightly coated in olive oil, sautee ‘ the onion and tomato until the onion becomes slightly translucent.  Add  garlic and  bell pepper.  Keep stirring so it doesn’t start to burn and stick to the bottom of the pan.

-Bring a quart of water to a boil, add a tablespoon of salt, and add your pasta.  Cook pasta to directions, but keep watching it!

-When the veggies look slightly soft, add the spinach.  This is when you’ll need to really babysit it since the spinach will get wilty fast under the heat.   After the spinach does get dark and a little wilty (Don’t let it burn!)  add the minced herbs.   Turn the heat off.

-Drain the pasta after it is al dente and rinse in cold water.   Transfer back to empty pot.

– Add Sauteed veggies and toss/mix until uniform.

-Add feta or fresh grated Parmesan, cracked black pepper, or cracked sea salt.  (And red pepper flakes if you want some kick).

Serve with fresh warm crusty bread and a dipping sauce, or leftover olive oil with grated parm and pepper mixed in.

Total prep time- 25 minutes.

ps: Many of these veggies were pre-chopped from our wrap experience the night before which expedited cooking/prepping.

pps:  Our original goal was to use farfalle.  If you experiment with other pasta and it blows your mind? Post it here!

ppps: What do YOU like doing with the extras laying about the house?  Do you improvise with things sitting behind the box of Uncle Ben’s?  A dusty box of scalloped potatoes?  Frozen mixed vegetables?  Can you make magic out of random objects in your crock pot?  If the world…were to end…tomorrow:  Could you cobble together a feast out of condiments and stolen Equal packets from Caribou???

And, GO!

Summer’s bounty begins

I love the Minneapolis Farmers Market on Lyndale Avenue.  If you do too, consider becoming a fan of it on Facebook.  Today they’re asking people to post their favorite locavore recipes–things you like to make with produce you find at the market.  Some of the good ones will be read on “Fresh and Local” this Saturday on AM950.

Here’s what I posted:

Heat a couple Tbs peanut or vegetable oil in a saute pan or wok. Add a tsp brown mustard seed and wait for them to start popping. Then add chopped red onion, chopped curry leaf, and a little ginger syrup. After a few more minutes add chopped baby red potato wedges, a cup of water and a pinch of salt. Cover and simmer. Over the next 15-20 mins, gradually add: chopped broccoli, chopped zucchini, chopped bell pepper, 1 Tbs garam masala powder, 2 Tbs lemon juice, and a can of diced tomatoes with juices. When potatoes and the rest of the veggies are tender, add spinach leaves in handfuls until wilted. Serve over rice.

It was scrumptious! And almost everything came from the Farmers Market or our backyard herb garden.

I threw that together this past Saturday and enjoyed the leftovers for lunch yesterday.  We still had a lot of produce leftover, so last night for dinner Mike and I made one of my favorite indulgences.  It’s an indulgence not because it’s unhealthy in any way (on the contrary, it’s bursting with good-for-you vitamins and antioxidants), but because we can only eat it on evenings when we have no need to leave the house for at least 12 hours after imbibing it.  It’s stinky, you see.  Very, very raw and stinky and delicious.

Raw veggie wraps:

Medium whole wheat or flour tortillas

Assorted veggies, chopped (last night we used zucchini, bell pepper, fresh spinach, garlic, green onions, roma tomatoes, cilantro from the herb pot, and avocado, but you can use whatever you have on hand)

Thai-marinated tofu (packaged, available at your local co-op)

shredded cheese (optional)

Heat the tortillas in a skillet; top with assorted veggies, tofu, and cheese if you want it.  Wrap it up.  Go to town.

Yes, we use raw minced garlic.  Raw green onion.  It’s just a riot of flavor and freshness.  You can feel your blood getting frothier and more exuberant with each bite–teeming with nutrients and goodness.  And as long as you eat it with your loved one and barricade yourself indoors for the next dozen hours or so, you shouldn’t offend anyone’s nostrils too badly.  (And by the way, garlic is an aphrodisiac, so eating this with your loved one and barricading yourselves indoors for 12 hours can be a lot of fun).  The health benefits of these veggie wraps are too numerous to name–fiber, iron, antioxidants, good fats, protein and vitamins are just the beginning.

What other magical summer food does June usher in?  Smoothies, of course!

I finally bit the bullet and went to Target last weekend and procured a blender, some frozen mixed berries and frozen yogurt.  And I’m hooked.  This is the very simple smoothie I’ve been making so far:

1 cup frozen mixed berries

1/2 cup orange mango juice

1/2 cup Hagen-Daaz frozen yogurt

one chopped banana

Mix it all up, and drink!  Dee-licious.  I just bought this book on Amazon to help me expand my smoothie horizons a bit.  I want to experiment with flax seed and soy milk and tofu and vanilla extract and peanut butter and lots of other things!  If anyone has any favorite smoothie recipes or websites, let me know!

Believe it or not, even after our last two heaping-with-veggies meals, we STILL have more produce leftover from Saturday’s trip to the Farmers Market.  So tonight we’re going to use up the last of the zucchini, peppers, and spinach in a simple pasta dish.  Yum.

And to think this is only the beginning of summer’s bounty…