Cilantro Bison Tacos and Sweet Orange Carrots

I want to preface this post by saying that these two recipes do not go together. I just happened to make them on the same day. πŸ™‚

I had some leftover cilantro in my kitchen from the fish cakes I made last weekend so something Mexican-inspired seemed appropriate. The result?

Cilantro Bison Tacos

This recipe was incredibly simple and came together in less than 20 minutes. First, chop 1/2 of an extra large onion and cook with a little bit of coconut oil. When the onion starts to become transparent, add 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro:

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Add 1 tsp. each of cumin and oregano and stir to combine:

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Once combined, add 1/4 cup salsa and 1/2 lb. ground bison meat:

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Cook for a few more minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Serve with taco shells, tortillas, salad, etc.

Sweet Orange Carrots

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I don’t have any pictures of the process for this recipe, but here’s the rundown:

Sweet Orange Carrots, serves 4
Ingredients
- 1 lb. carrots
- 1 orange
- 6 medjool dates
- 2 tbsp. mint
- nutmeg
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- 2 tsp. water
Method
1. Thinly slice carrots, pit and chop the dates, finely chop the mint 
and place in a skillet with a few shakes of nutmeg.
2. Juice the orange and pour over the carrot mixture. 
Add the zest from half the orange to the skillet.
3. Turn on the flame to medium-high. When the juice begins to boil, 
cover and simmer for approx. 8 minutes (until carrots are tender).
4. While the carrots are cooking, separate the orange flesh from the rind. 
Chop into small pieces.
5. After the carrots are tender, uncover the skillet and add the 
chopped orange.
6. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add to the 
skillet and cook for a minute longer to help the moisture thicken.

Cooking from a book

I have several cookbooks, and I enjoy reading them. But when it comes time to choose a recipe, I very rarely pick one from a book. Instead, I opt for something I saw on a blog or found through a simple google-search. The internet makes it so easy to find recipes that have exactly the ingredients you are trying to use – which often seems more convenient than rifling through the pages of a *gasp* real live book.

I received Jerusalem: A Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi several months ago. I’ve paged through it on several occasions, admiring the beautiful photographs and wishing I were in Israel to enjoy the amazing food, but I had yet to follow a recipe directly from the book.

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Obviously, that needed to change. Last weekend, Noah and I chose a recipe and set to work.

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We selected a recipe for fish cakes in a tomato sauce. We followed the recipe pretty much exactly from the book, so I’m not going to repost it here. Even though I’ve only made one recipe, it was delicious and every recipe in the whole book looked amazing.

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The final masterpiece:

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So good! It was the perfect amount for four servings, so we each had leftovers for lunch the next day.

Soak up the sun

Minneapolis has had a gorgeous summer. There were a few sweltering days in July, but overall the weather has been extremely pleasant – warm enough to enjoy being outside, but not so warm to get that sticky feeling. Given the sunshine, enjoying outdoor activities has been a major highlight of the summer. A few events of note…

the Ordway’s summer dance series

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The Ordway Theater in St. Paul offers free music and dancing on Thursday nights during the summer at Rice Park (right in downtown St Paul). Different weeks have different themes: salsa, polka, swing, etc. We went on swing night. I should take some dance lessons to learn how I’m actually supposed to move my feet, but with a wine+music combination, I think I did alright. πŸ™‚

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the patio at Vincent A Restaurant

Like 112, Vincent A was also listed in the recent edition of Mpls St Paul Magazine as having one of the best burgers in town.

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Vincent A is right in the heart of downtown at 11th and Nicollet, and it has great happy hour timing: 4:30-6pm and again from 8:30-9:30pm. A lot of late happy hours don’t even start until 9:30 at most of the places in Uptown. The 8:30 start time was perfect for a late dinner featuring….

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and since it was happy hour after all…

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These burgers were no doubt delicious, but I’m still more partial to 112.

Obviously.

Stella’s Fish Cafe

Even though I live only a few blocks from Stella’s Fish Cafe, I’ve never been there for a meal. One time I went for an event that offered appetizers (where I consumed a record-breaking amount of hummus and fish fingers), but I had yet to go for the sit-down-and-be-served experience. I like fish a lot, but for some reason fish restaurants are never on my radar when I’m thinking about places to eat out. I guess I’m too focused on burgers and pizza. Ummm, what?

Anyways…I finally went to Stella’s for dinner a few days ago. Since it is an A-plus beautiful summer, we sat on their rooftop. I liked that the rooftop tables had umbrellas, letting me enjoy the sunshine without getting sunburned.

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The table started with salads:

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And I ordered the red snapper special for my entree:

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It came with roasted potatoes and a corn/zucchini salad. Others ordered pasta with shrimp and the swordfish with asparagus:

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Everything was fresh and delicious! We decided to order dessert. WARNING: the desserts are humongous! The menu didn’t say anything about size, so we each ordered one. One probably would have been enough for the whole table though. We ordered red velvet cake, coconut cake, and creme brule:

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Needless to say, there was a lot leftover!

Stella’s was very good, and if you’re a big fish or seafood fan, then I would definitely give it a high recommendation.

Brasa

Brasa is a family-style rotisserie restaurant in Northeast Minneapolis. They describe themselves as serving ‘comfort food inspired by the creole cooking traditions of the americas and caribbean.’

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Sounds good to me!

In addition to 112, this is a restaurant I had wanted to try for a while. I had been holding out since the restaurant is family style, and I thought it would be best to go with a larger group, making it a perfect place to go with my family after coming home from the boundary waters. Brasa doesn’t take reservations, so there was a bit of a wait when we got there:

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We were seated before too long and then began the challenging task of deciding what to order. There are basically two sections to Brasa’s menu: meats and sides. You order both meats and sides as either a small, medium, or large portion. The menu gives suggestions for how many people each size will serve to help, and they suggest that a meal for one person be one serving of meat and two side servings.

For meat, we settled on rotisserie chicken and smoked beef:

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We went a little crazy with sides (they all looked so good!) and ended up ordering several. We got yellow rice, black beans, fried plantains, crispy yuca (my favorite!), and cole slaw:

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Everything was delicious! Between the five of us, we finished off all the sides and had just a little meat leftover:

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Brasa was great and will also be added to my list of favorite restaurants. I do think it’s best to go with a large group though – it would be way too hard to order only a couple of things. πŸ™‚

112 Eatery

112 Eatery has been on my radar since I moved to the Twin Cities over two years ago. Constantly heralded for their quality food and the magical touch of Issac Becker (a James Beard award winner), 112 always makes it on the list of must-eat Twin Cities restaurants. It took me a long time to get there though because it’s a little fancier than the typical place I would go on my own, and it requires planning ahead since reservations are a must.

On my families’ most recent visit to Minneapolis though, I decided to make reservations well in advance for us to try it. When we got there, a plate of spiced almonds and olives were waiting for us at the table:

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We started the meal with bibb lettuce salads, and fresh bread was brought to the table:

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We also ordered a couple appetizers to share: fresh ricotta with white truffle honey and pan-fried gnocchi with parmesan:

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For our entrees, no one was that creative. We all ordered the highly-acclaimed 112 cheese burger. What can I say? Mpls/St. Paul Magazine did just list it as one of the top 10 burgers in the area:

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I loved this burger. It came with thick slices of brie on an english muffin bun. Amazing. The burgers come without a side, so we ordered a few sides to share around the table:

cauliflower fritters

cauliflower fritters

fried asparagus with aioli

fried asparagus with aioli

french fries

french fries

We were all stuffed at the end of the meal, but I managed to have a few bites of caramel corn that came with the bill:

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112 was an instant favorite, and I definitely want to go back. Parents, want to come visit again? πŸ™‚

It was just

What to do with your baby brother

I have a totally phenomenal brother. He is smart, funny, loving, and an excellent role model for not stressing the small things.

We used to wrestle a lot, but then he got bigger than me and I had to put an end to that. Baby boy grew up:

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Jk, he’s not that big.

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Last week, I had one day with my brother all to myself in Minneapolis, so I had to show him how cool I am by bringing him around to do lots of fun stuff. Here’s what to do with your baby brother for one day in the Minneapple….

1. Go to the Electric Fetus

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The Electric Fetus is first and foremost a music store. They have LPs and CDs from pretty much any artist you can imagine. If you’re overwhelmed by the selection, there is always a music expert working at the music desk to help you.

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Although music is the main appeal, the store also sells a little bit of pretty much everything else.

There’s clothing:

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Books:

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Jewelry:

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And a healthy selection of the most random stuff you have ever seen:

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2. Lunch at Cafe Ena

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With so many awesome restaurants in the area, it was tough to choose a lunch spot, but we settled on the award-winning Latin Fusion restaurant, Cafe Ena. In south Minneapolis at the intersection of 46th and Grand, Cafe Ena is super yum. I didn’t try it myself, but I hear their guacamole is to die for. We ordered a horchata to try (mainly since neither of us had tried one before):

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Horchata is a traditional Spanish beverage made from ground almonds (similar to almond milk plus extra spices). For the meal, I ordered a chicken curry dish:

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and the bro ordered a jerk chicken sandwich on telera bread:

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3. Go to a concert

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Vampire Weekend was playing at the Orpheum. Enough said.

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So there you have it. I am officially a super cool sister.

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Sort of. πŸ™‚

Our Favorite Restaurant

During our trip to the boundary waters, we were in a very remote area. We were a solid 30 miles outside of Grand Marais proper, and we had no phone service, no internet, and – as it turned out – no options for dining. Well, there was one option. The Trail Center Lodge Creek quickly became our favorite restaurant. Admittedly, I did really enjoy the food, but there also wasn’t much competition given that it was the only place to go.

After busy days of hiking and canoeing, we didn’t feel like a long car ride, so it was to the Trail Center Lodge that we headed three consecutive nights.

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Since there wasn’t much around the area (am I repeating myself?!), the Trail Center Lodge functioned as a one-stop shop. Of sorts.

There was gas…

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There were groceries*…
*don’t let this word fool you into expecting a wide selection

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There was the saddest produce section I have ever seen…

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Fun fact: there were more types of mayo on sale here than vegetables. Oh yeah, and don’t bring your pets:

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I am assuming that other boundary waters adventurers had the same thinking we did in terms of not wanting to drive anywhere, because the wait time to get a table was about 45-70 minutes every night. The food was good though! There was a fairly extensive menu with burgers, steaks, salads, and sandwiches. Fresh bread came to the table at the start of every meal:

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And all entrees came with a salad:

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The first night, I got a salmon salad:

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Others ordered the blue cheese filet with pasta, mussels, and a regular filet with baked yams:

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The portions were all very generous and everyone enjoyed the meal.

The second night we went was Friday, and Friday at the Trail Center Lodge means ALL YOU CAN EAT FISH FRY. woop woop. I didn’t get the fish, but others did.

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No one at our table could even finish the regular serving of fish and chips, much less take advantage of the all-you-can-eat option. That is a lot of food!

The exciting thing for me the second night was the discovery of the Trail Center Lodge malts:

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be still my heart

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blended ice cream, I love you. I ordered a chocolate pumpkin malt, and the last night I tried pumpkin peanut butter.

Other food around the table included chocolate milk, fried chicken with fries, chili burger with fries, and another filet.

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There’s no question that the food at the Trail Center Lodge was pretty heavy, but for a few days on vacation it really hit the spot. If you are in the Poplar Creek area, definitely go here. But, then again, if you’re dining out in the Poplar Creek area, you won’t really have a choice. πŸ™‚

Duluth Whole Foods

On our way up to the boundary watersΒ we stopped in Duluth for lunch. We decided to try the Duluth Whole Foods Coop (no relation to the Whole Foods chain).

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The Coop had a neat system where foods were all identified as local, regional, or neither.

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In typical Coop fashion, there was a hot and cold salad bar:

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A made-to-order sandwich bar:

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And a coffee bar:

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There was also a wide selection of delicious looking desserts, produce, and grab-and-go foods:

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After much deliberation, I settled on a salad with a variety of veggies, hard-boiled eggs, honey mustard potato salad, cranberry chutney, and chicken. I also had a ginger kombucha:

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I also had a whoopie pie for dessert. πŸ™‚

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Others in the group had a turkey sandwich, grilled cheese, falafel pita, protein salad, carrot cake cookie, and key lime pie:

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Everything was phenomenal. The only downside was that the coffee bar and made-to-order sandwich stations were extremely slow (like 15 minutes or so to make three sandwiches). Nonetheless, it was worth the wait! So worth the wait that we decided to stop here again for lunch on our way home. What can I say?! We’re creatures of habit. πŸ™‚

I went with the salad bar again this time, but I loaded up on hard boiled eggs and had some traditional potato salad. I also tried a cranberry kombucha drink (unpictured):

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Others ordered turkey sandwiches and a roast beef/ham sandwich:

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Everyone left full and happy. I wish this place were in Minneapolis! The Wedge Coop in Minneapolis is amazing, but unfortunately there’s no sitting area so if you order deli food you have to take it to go.

Other Boundary Waters Trip Posts
Poplar Creek B&B
Hiking and Canoeing

Boundary Waters Hiking and Canoeing

While in the boundary waters, we spent one day hiking and one day canoeing. Rather than finding one long hike, we decided to piece together two shorter hikes for a full day.

Ready to hike with my baby little younger brother:

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The first hike was called Caribou Rock Trail, and it featured some beautiful views of the area as well as some parts of tougher trail that involved a little scrambling.

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The second hike was called Magnetic Rock Trail, and the whole trail was lined with blueberry bushes! This trail was a lot more crowded with families and individuals filling containers with blueberries. We didn’t bring a container to fill, so we enjoyed en route:

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The second day was consumed by a canoeing trip.

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The folks at our B&B helped us bring two canoes to Bearskin Lake:

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We canoed across Bearskin Lake and then walked across a short portage to Duncan Lake:

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The above pictures were actually taken at the start of the trip and not at the portage. I don’t have photos from the water since I didn’t want to risk my camera getting wet. This turned out to be a good call since the canoe with the supplies bag tipped over!

Total, we were out canoeing for about 4 hours, including a short hike and lunch break at Rose Lake Falls by Duncan Lake.