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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Cheat day.

Sunday was my cheat day. You know, the day where you can stray from your healthy eating plan and enjoy whatever it is that your little heart desires.

So… this happened.

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‘Tis the season, right?!

Cheers!

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Fat Nat’s Eggs: no frills, all food

A couple weeks back the Polar Vortex roared it’s ugly head for the second time. When Saturday morning hit, I was going stir crazy. So while most people stayed off the road, we kicked the all wheel drive into high gear and headed to Fat Nat’s Eggs for a old school diner breakfast.

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Fat Nat’s is a “no frills” breakfast joint located off of 252 in Brooklyn Park (although there are multiple locations). Nestled in a rather unassuming strip mall, I wasn’t sure what to expect. When you walk in you are greeted by a sign to add your name to the seating list. A server then comes over and escorts parties to their tables. Seating is simple and straight forward— but the scents wafting from the kitchen caused instant hunger pangs.

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The no frills attitude is evidenced in the menu as well.

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I am pretty traditional when it comes to breakfast but with this being my first visit, I thought it only fitting to try one of their specialities. So I channeled my dad and went straight for the biscuits and gravy while my boyfriend opted for the breakfast slider.

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When my biscuits and gravy arrived I knew there was no way I was going to “clean my plate”. The portion was HUGE– literally four oversized biscuits just smothered is gravy-deliciousness. Oh, and did I mentioned it was accompanied by a monster sized plate of hashbrowns and two eggs!

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And the slider looked pretty amazing as well. Stacked high with meat, eggs and hollandaise– it appeared this was a can’t miss!

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The staff was on top of their game, waters always full and quick service. The food definitley “hit the spot” for my nagging breakfast need. I would absolutley return when on the hunt for a traditional diner atmosphere and food!

Check out Fat Nat’s Eggs website to look at locations and their monster menu!

Cheers!

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Garlic and Rosemary Piggy

Work-wise, last week was a long one. So when Friday hit, I was less than thrilled with the idea of cooking but absolutely dreaded the idea of leaving my condo and entering the cold night in search of food. Plus, I had everything I needed at home sans motivation.

After some major vegging out on the couch I mustered enough energy to whip up a pork tenderloin and some quick mashed potatoes and salad. Pork tenderloins are so easy, just season and pop in the oven. But I find myself often doing the same prep each time. To switch it up, I looked around for ideas that other people were using and then jumbled a few together and came up with this bad boy.

Garlic and Rosemary Roasted Pork Tenderloin– here’s what you’ll need:
- 2.5-3lb pork tenderloin
- 6 cloves of garlic
- 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. In a food processor or blender combine the garlic, dried rosemary, onion powder, olive oil, and s&p. This will look pretty green and smell wonderful.

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To prep the meat, pierce the meat with a knife then pour the garlic and rosemary paste over the tenderloin, working to cover the enter loin.

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Place the tenderloin in a baking pan and pop it in the oven– basting throughout the cooking process with liquids from the pan. Cook time will be about 1 hour– use a meat thermometor to ensure that the pork cooks to an internal temp of 145 degrees.

Once cooked, remove the tenderloin from the oven and place on a serving platter. In the baking pan, add 1 cup chicken or vegetable broth and stir to loosen the bits on the bottom of the pan– put in a gravy boat for drizzling!

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The paste keeps the meat nice and moist throughout the cooking process and the seasonings created a nice savory flavor. Full transparency, I used white wine rather than chicken or veggie broth as indicated above– too sweet for my liking, that is why I suggested the broth instead. Also, think next time I will “marinate” the meat in the paste for a few hours before cooking! With these few tweaks, I think I will love this dish even more! Hope you enjoy!

Cheers!

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Whisked away to Talenti Heaven…

With the recent frigid temps here in the midwest, one might think that the cravings for ice cream would subside until at least May. But, that is not the case. Recently, temps hit the negatives and for some reason my stomach was aching for a sweet cool treat.

Now typically, I am a Mint Chocolate chip kind of gal but on this trip to Lund’s a bright orange Talenti sorbetto caught my eye.

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I love sorbet and was hopeful that the Alphonso Mango would hit the spot! Upon first bite, I would have never expected bright orange frozenness to be so delicious. It seriously tasted just like fresh mangoes; fresh, fresh, fresh. How could this be? Well the ingredients are pretty straight-forward; mango, water, sugar, dextrose and lemon. As you can see, this is not only dairy-free but is also, kosher, gluten free, fat-free, vegetarian, vegan and HFCS-free i.e. pretty much covers all the bases.

While I went the fruity route my boyfriend went the opposite and had the Caramel Cookie Crunch. It was the perfect balance of cookie and caramel, making it absolute, melt-in-your-mouth perfection; would be so good with coffee!

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Full transparency, we ate right from the little pints and swapped back and forth. This is the perfect snack to have the fridge to fulfill might late night cravings and curb any guilt I may have had. Next trip, I am trying the Roman Raspberry. I might be the newest Talenti cult member!

Cheers!

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Sloppy Mo’s

As with most people around this time of year, I resolved to make healthier choices. I have been fairly diligent about it but when my boyfriend requested Sloppy Mo’s (aka sloppy joe’s) and tater tots for dinner, I couldn’t deny his request. What I could do was limit my tot consumption, add a real veggie side, and avoid the canned sauce and make my own. So I did just that!

The steps are pretty straight forward… I started by browning two pounds of lean ground beef with a 1/2 cup of chopped onion and a 1/2 cup of chopped green pepper.

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Meanwhile in a small bowl, I whisked together, 1 1/2 cups of Heinz Ketchup, 2 teaspoons French’s Dijon Mustard with Chardonnay, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and 2 tablespoons brown sugar.

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Once the meat has browned and the veggies are tender, drain the meat and return to the pan. Fold in the sauce mixture and allow to simmer on low for about 30 minutes. If you like your Sloppy Mo’s saucy- pop a lid on the skillet. Like ‘em thick and sticky? Leave the lid off… either way, stir occassionally. Plate and enjoy!!

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Seriously, so much better than the canned sauce and pretty much nothing beats Ore Ida’s crispy tots. Enjoy!

Cheers!

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Rub ‘em down

After soaking in the California sun over the holidays, there is nothing like returning to your own bed, and your own kitchen (though I wish I could have brought the weather back to MN)! In attempts to start the year of on a healthy-ish note, one of the first meals on my list was dry-rubbed pork ribs. The reason I love this so much has to do with the simplicity of the ingredients and the little work needed in order to prepare a delicious, hearty yet healthy meal.

Here’s the run down:
– 2-3 lbs of pork ribs (though I am sure you could use any meat of your choice)
– 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
– 2 teaspoons ground cumin
– 4 teaspoons paprika
– 2 teaspoon dry oregano
– 2 teaspoons brown sugar
– 2 teaspoons salt
– 1 tablespoon McCormick Grill Mates Steak Rub
– 30-ish grinds of fresh black pepper
– 4-6 tablespoons olive oil

I started by preheating the oven to 300 degrees and then set out to make the perfect dry rub. In a small bowl I combined cayenne pepper, ground cumin, paprika, dry oregano, brown sugar, salt, black pepper and McCormick Grill Mates Steak Rub. Once combined, set aside.

I unwrapped the pork ribs and flipped them over with the meat side facing down. It is clear that there is a thin membrane on the back of the ribs, and this must be removed. While it often takes a little fingernail to get is started, this go round I used a sharp knife to lift the end of the membrane, then grabbed tightly with my fingers and removed it in one steady motion. Don’t rush and it should come off in one big piece– discard. I promise you won’t need this!

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The next step was to lightly coat the ribs in olive oil– I know many people use veggie oil but I opted for the healthier route, totally up to you! Once evenly coated, I used my hands to sprinkle and rub the seasoning into the meat; both the fleshy side and the rib side. I did use all seasoning to coat the entire rack. I dropped those ribs on a cookie sheet lined with a silicone baking liner and popped those babies in the oven for 2.5 hours and boy was the aroma in my condo wonderful!

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Once I pulled them from the oven, I let the ribs “settle” on the cutting board for about 10 minutes.
1. Because they will continue cooking
2. To save my fingers for horrendous burns

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After they cooled slightly, I grabbed a big butcher knife and stood the ribs on their side, so as to easily visualize the bones and evenly cut between each rib. Depending the size of the rack, you may need a partner to help hold one end while you are cutting the other. Once cut, time to eat!I sided mine with a diced avocado sprinkled with salt and pepper and his with some homemade cheesey rice.

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These turned out nice a moist but with a bit more kick than I had anticipated, while I loved them, if you are spice-sensitive, I would suggest cutting back on the cayenne. I plan to cut back slightly on the cayenne and incorporate both garlic and onion powder in my next attempt!

Cheers to a new year and to getting on track! Swimsuit season… I can see you in the distance!!!

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Don’t judge a book…

We have all heard the adage “you should never judge a book by its cover”. And I am the first to admit, I have done just that (many, many times). Typically on this blog when I write about food it is either food that I have made or food at/from a restaurant. With that in mind, this might come as a surprise to you but today, I am featuring the Thai Shrimp Bisque with soy and coconut from the cafe at my office. Yup, you read that correctly, the cafe at my office. I don’t know where you work but in most employers’ cafes, the food tends to be pretty run of the mill.

Needless to say, I was stunned when the soup “tasting spoon” hit my lips. Upon first taste, I knew I had to get a bowl.
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The color of the soup was a vibrant orange and rather than being smooth like many other bisques, it was thick and chunky. There were diced shrimp, chilies, green peppers, and long grain rice . The soup had a ton of zip. I say zip over spice because I tend to prefer things on the hot side and I don’t think is quite qualifies as hot. There was nice balance between the zip and the sweetness of the coconut. It was well-balanced and a nice mid-day surprise when I had thought I was going to be lost to salad bar oblivion.

Lesson-learned– grab a tasting spoon, try it out… you might be surprised!

Cheers!

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