Comfort Classic

Fall. The leaves begin to turn, there is a crispness in the air and almost an immediately my body begins craving “comfort food” {though my hips are never pleased}. With temperatures dipping into the 60s and 70s as of late, my cravings have been in the soup genre. I am a sucker for tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich; though I have never perfected my soup… until now.

Follow along, I promise you won’t regret it!

Here’s what you need:

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3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 – 14 oz. cans of crushed tomatoes
1 – 14 oz. can of whole tomatoes
2 cups of stock (chicken or vegetable)
1 tsp of sea salt {to taste}
1 tsp of sugar {could go lighter on the sugar}
1 tbsp. garlic powder {to taste}
1/2 tsp of fresh ground black pepper {I ended up adding more to taste}
1/2 cup of heavy cream {I think you could sub with half and half}
6 tablespoons of fresh basil, julienned
Parmesan cheese shavings

This is how you do it:

In a saucepan, saute garlic in olive oil on medium heat for 1 minute – keep a close eye as you don’t want to burn the garlic. Next, add the crushed tomatoes then the whole tomatoes one at a time, squeezing them into the pan; gently breaking them up. After tomatoes have been added, be sure to stir in the juice/sauce from the whole tomatoes, as well. Add chicken stock, salt, pepper and sugar. Cook the soup on medium at a simmer for at least 10 minutes. At this point, I used an immersion blender to puree—if you wanted smooth and don’t have the immersion blender, you could purchase all crushed tomatoes–if you like chunky, no need for alteration or blender. To finish, reduce the heat to low and stir in heavy cream and basil.

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Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and a toasty grilled cheese sandwich!

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Cheers!

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Channeling NorCal in Downtown Minneapolis

A couple weekends ago, I had the honor of celebrating my dear friend Christine and her upcoming nuptials. With Christine’s maid of honor {lovely sister Linds} having her homebase in Boston, we tried to make a weekend out of the bridal activities by having a shower and bachelorette one after the other.

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The bridal shower was hosted by the bride’s sister and cousin and consisted of a fun palm tree theme with cocktails crafted around the various travel destinations of the happy couple {sorry I completely forgot to take pictures}! It was a great time and Christine was surrounded by lots of love and even more laughter.

For night 2… the bachelorette, we started our evening at Marin Restaurant and Bar .

Marin combines inspirations from a Northern California mentality and farm to table approach to quality food, with a distinctly urban vibe.

This concept not only intrigued me but also made me very excited to view the menu and eat the night away!

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The bride’s mother graciously started our evening with a round of drinks sent all the way from Florida. For me, it was champs.

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We were seated in the gorgeous main dining room {check out website for photos} which was warmly lit and very comfortable. The bride was excited to learn that the manager is a friend from high school who kicked off our Marin experience with a beautifully plated amuse bouche consisting of smoked salmon, peppered cream cheese, dill, pickled onion and a housemade chip. Divine.

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The divinity continued when we received the menu. I opted to start with the Asparagus, Frisee, Morel and Grits crouton salad topped with a light tangy vinegarette. This dish was absolute perfection. The salty and tangy of the veggies and dressing mixed wonderfully with simple yet crunchy grits croutons.

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The entree decision was quite difficult. There were a number of items on the menu that sparked my interest. From the Ahi and Scallops to the Ramen and Pork, I had a difficult decision. But after hearing that the evenings special was Halibut over a bed of broccolini, my decision was made. And it did not disappoint.

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One of my favorites gals and fellow bridesmaids, Ashley sat next to me and ordered the oven roasted chicken which looked amazing.

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As a lover of seafood, I was thrilled to have visited a restaurant with great seafood. I believe Marin to be filling a void that we have here in this fine city. I appreciate the diversity of the menu, the great ambiance, spot on presentation and amazing service. I will absolutely be making my way back to Marin Restaurant and Bar in the near future.

No question, the night continued… here are a few snippets… that is all you get!

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Cheers!

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Summer in the City Salad

I am pretty serious denial about the fact the fall is just around the corner. So it should come as no surprise that I am finding every way to savor what is left. Last week I went the food route by combining some of my favorite summer veggies into an oh-so-decadent summer salad with inspiration from the City Sage.

I started by cutting up some of my faves; 2 fresh ears of corn, small red onion, english cucumber, and some grape tomatoes and tossed them in a bowl and set aside.

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Then I pulled out my 2 cup food processor {no need for the big guy} and made an amazing Jalapeno Basil Shallot Dressing.

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Once prepared, I scooped a hearty helping of veggies onto a bed of cottage cheese, drizzled with the dressing and had myself a nice, healthy and satisfying lunch. The following day I did the same but added avocados, and that turned it up a notch. You won’t regret making this salad!

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Ingredients:
Basil Shallot Vinaigrette
1 cup fresh basil leaves
1 jalapeno, de-seeded
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp clover honey
1 tsp Koop’s horseradish mustard
1/2 large shallot
1/2 tsp salt
pepper to taste

Veggie Salad
2 ears corn, kernels cut off cob
1 cucumber, thinly sliced and then halved
1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced
1/2 red onion, chopped

Cheers!!

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Gotta have that scoop

As per usual, summer has flown by and I find myself asking, “where did it go?” It seems my weekends have been filled with bachelorette parties, bridal showers, weddings and the like. But there is one summer rite of passage that cannot be overlooked; ice cream.

A couple Sundays ago my boyfriend’s mom invited us out to the Izzy’s Minneapolis location. I have heard a great deal about Izzy’s but never made the trek to St. Paul for that oh-so-raved-about-Izzy Scoop. Genius idea by the way– pick your main ice cream flavor and then receive a small {about melon ball size} scoop of one to try.

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The Minneapolis location is nestled right next to Gold Medal Park and I am pretty certain you can smell the sweet waffle cones being made from about a block away.

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Upon entering {if you don’t have to wait in the line typically out the door} we are greeted by the waffle cone station and that enticing scent. Cue the drooling.

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You are also completely overwhelmed by the sheer volume and variety of flavor choices offered. For my first trip I picked Creme Fraiche as my main scoop and Honey as my Izzy scoop. I quickly parked myself on a chair outside and indulged.

To say the ice cream is thick and creamy or oh-so-decadent is an understatement. This ice cream was pure heaven.

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While it is my understanding that the flavors rotate on a fairly consistent basis, I will most certainly be ordering the Honey again with a different Izzy Scoop. I can’t forget to mention that they also have sorbet, cakes, tubs of ice cream to go and delicious snacks. Izzy’s is a gem for Minneapolis and I can’t wait to go back!

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Twisted eggs and toast

To be quite honest, I really love brunch but have never been much of a breakfast{time} person. Until I realized I could combine a few of my favorite things for a decadent yet super easy breakfast that keeps me satisfied through lunch. Those few favorite things you might ask:

- Avocado
– Egg
English Muffin Toasting Bread
Huy Fong Sriracha

The process is super simple and the outcome amazing! I simply toasted the english muffin bread and smeared it with freshly chopped avocado. While I was toasting the bread, I quickly poached and egg and when perfectly runny plopped it on the avocado and drizzeld with Huy Fong Sriracha.

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In full transparency, while I made two of these bad boys, I was only able to each one. It is so decadent that there was no way I could have had the other. So I suggest starting with one and if your tummy allows go for the second!

Cheers!

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Boom, Chicka…

Here in Minneapolis, there are some great local food businesses and one of my personal favorites is Angie’s Popcorn. My first experience with Angie’s was the oh-so-delectable kettle corn at a Minnesota Twins game. While this may be where Angie’s started to get some traction, they certainly have grown since!

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Angie’s now has an amazing line called Boom Chicka Pop. which has only increased my love of popcorn! I can’t help myself the flavors range from traditional Kettle Corn to Carmel and Cheddar mix. BUT I recently discovered my ALL-TIME-FAVORITE-ANGIE’S-FLAVOR: SWEET & SPICY. I am typically a sweet and salty girl but I do love my spicy foods. So I thought, “What the heck? Let’s give it a whirl”! And boy-oh-boy am I done for!

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The combination of “garlic, cayenne, cumin and paprika for a zippy, yet slightly sweet, fiesta kind of snack”. Did I mention that is also a HEALTHY snack!? Only 70 calories per cup! I am seriously in love; head over sweet and spicy heels in love! I can’t even tell you how many bags I have purchased since my first time but addiction is the only appropriate word to use here.

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If you haven’t tried any of Angie’s popcorn yet #1 you are crazy #2 stop what you are doing, grab your keys and head to Target to pick up a few bags for yourself and maybe a couple for your friends {you won’t want to share}!!

Cheers!

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Remember me?!

Hi there, it’s me (finally),

This blog was started as a way to force me into trying and doing new things while adjusting to a new environment. As life has evolved and I entered grad school you may have noticed that the blog tended to fall to the wayside. Now that I have graduated, I am going to attempt to regain some “normalcy”

In the words of Ms. Angelou herself…

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Hope you will all come along!

Cheers!

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Gotta getaway…

A few weeks back, I invited “Up North” for a 50th birthday celebration and spa weekend; who would turn that down? Though cold, the weekend was filled with food, drinks, laughs, massages and fun! Here’s a recap.

We kicked off the trip with a few pits stops along the way to grab apps, beers and just take our time on the 2 and half hour trip; no rush at all. But our first “official” stop was at Rafferty’s in Nisswa, Minnesota. The building was rather unassuming and I am pretty sure the only reason we were able to eat was because the hostess was not sure what time they closed. We quickly ordered so they couldn’t send us on our way. A couple pitchers of beer and a few large pizzas were just right to fill the tum after a long day of work and a few hours in the car.

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With the whole weekend focused on relaxation, we headed to the Grandview Lodge for the rest of the night!

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The next morning we were so blessed to wake up to a huge breakfast at the main lodge followed by an amazing hour long massage! The Glacier spa at Grandview Lodge was to-die-for! Just amazing! The staff was spot on, ameneties just perfect and the massage was incredible!

We continued the relaxation theme with an afternoon full of naps and lounging. After freshening up we headed to Prairie Bay for dinner. None of us had been there previous to this visit so we were excited to see what all the buzz was about. This restaurant chose to play a mean trick on its hungry patrons, in that you are able to see the restaurant from the road but it was a maze to get to the building itself. Once again we were met with an unassuming building that could have previously housed a Baker’s Square. At that point… wasn’t sure what to expect.

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This portion of the menu was rather entertaining.

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Purusing the food menu was an adventure, the possibilities seemed endless and most certainly did not fit the building or the decor– but my curiousity was on the rise. After much deliberation I ordered the Sugar Seared Angus Beef Medallions with Toasted Almond Cauliflower Au gratin. I crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Boy was I surprised with this was set down in front of me…

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The meat was cooked to perfection and had a lightly sweet but extremely savory flavor and au gratin was absolute perfection. This steak might be in my top 7… best steaks ever. #mindblown

After dinner it was back to the resort for live music and after-dinner drinks; Up North Style!

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We munched on popcorn, people watched the “locals” and hit the hay! The weekend was just perfect and I would do it all over again (minus the snow)!!

Cheers!

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It’s about time…

Over the course of the 5+ years I have lived in Minneapolis, I would imagine that I have made it to the Bulldog NE quite a bit more than is healthy to admit. With that in mind, it dawned me while visiting last week that I have never featured this NE staple on the blog. Here it goes…

After a long day of work the last thing I wanted to do was cook dinner. So, I was thrilled to learn that my boyfriend shared the same sentiment. We headed over to The Bulldog NE to grab a burger and a drink. The burget list is extensive and has changed a few times over the years. But I was feeling pretty traditional and thus ordered the house burger sans tomatoes add white cheddar.

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The burgers are made from a Waygu beef blend and mine was thick and juicy; while the the bun was soft-as-can-be. I can’t believe I havne’t told you about these fries– they are truly divine. Thin potatoes strips fried to brown and crispy perfection then sprinkled with sea salt…serious heaven status.

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The house burger with fries did the trick, hit the spot, was spot on… all those wonderful phrases you use when something was just what you were craving! If you haven’t checked out The Bulldog NE I would recommend doing so ASAP… and don’t forget to try their amazing assortment of beers…. and the brunch, it is one of the best around!

Cheers!

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They have brunch!?!?

As if my posts have not been telling enough, I love food. Breakfast for dinner, sushi always, Thai whenever, a great burger; I am pretty much equal opportunity when it comes to food and feel like I have a pretty good idea of the scene in Minneapolis. Needless to say, I was floored to learn that Pizza Luce serves brunch! Yes, you read that correctly B-R-U-N-C-H! The Minneapolis pizza hub has had brunch for years, and from the recommendation I received, it might be the best around. So, it goes without saying, I had to try!

No lie, I am pretty sure I sent the server away three times before I decided what to order from their lengthy menu. The drink option was a no-brainer- I went for the pomegranate mimosa!

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As for the main dish– decisions had to be made, so I ordered the Cajun Breakfast Skillet– with one small modification; fresh jalapenos instead of green bell peppers.

Now, to tell you that this was amazing would be a gross understatement. This was absolute perfection. My overeasy eggs sat atop a bed of portabello mushrooms, crispy hashbrowns, and spicy italian sausage topped with creamy and tangy hollandaise.

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This breakfast was not for the faint of heart or those on a diet. But if you are looking to indulge (and we all should) this is one of my favorite brunch places in Minneapolis!

Still shocked they have brunch?! Check out Pizza Luce’s weekend brunch menu–you will not regret it!

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