Home Cooking!

Even though eating out in Jerusalem has been a lot of fun (as evidenced by my several ‘Jerusalem Cafes‘ posts), there’s always something fun about cooking at home. In the past week or so, I’ve had fun turning the contents of my fridge and impulse buys at the fruit-and-vegetable stands into good dinners.

Earlier in the week I made a sweet potato, egg, and cheese melt. I started by roasting slices of sweet potato (about 25 minutes at 450º):

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After roasting, I removed from the oven and added two sliced chopped tomatoes, 6 eggs, and shredded mozzarella cheese:

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I broiled in the oven until the egg whites were completely cooked and the cheese a little browned (it took a little more than 10 minutes in my oven, but my broiler is not very good, so it would probably take a lot less with a better broiler):

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I served with sliced peppers and hummus (in total, this was enough for 3 servings):

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Later in the week, Noah and I made an eggplant tomato sauce to go with goat cheese-filled beet gnocchi. The sauce was extremely easy to make. I finely chopped two shallots, two cloves garlic, and put them to heat in a skillet with a little butter. After just a couple minutes, I added half an eggplant, 1 tomato, and half a can (15 oz) of tomato sauce:

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Noah was on skillet duty:

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The gnocchi was from a nearby bakery and it looked awesome! The beets gave it a purple-ish tint:

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The gnocchi only needed to cook for two minutes, so I waited until the sauce was nearly done (about 10-15 minutes) to put them up. In total, the meal came together in twenty minutes or less.

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Finally, I made beef and parsley burgers for lunch. For the burger patties, I mixed about a 1/2 pound of ground beef with 1 egg, 1 T whole wheat flour, and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. I mixed everything together and cooked on a skillet for about 3 minutes on each side. We ate the burgers on whole wheat rolls with an assortment of salatim and vegetable toppings:

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It’s amazing how the internet enables everyone to have access to an essentially unlimited collection of recipes and food ideas! Every day I add more recipes to my ‘to cook something like this’ list…so there are a lot more dishes on my mind to make in the upcoming weeks. 🙂

A Guide to Spring (in Minnesota)

It’s definitely supposed to be spring right now. Yet, as I write this, snow falls. So, here is a guide to enjoying the season of rejuvenation in Minnesota.

1. Don’t fear the white stuff! If it’s snowy, then you might as well take advantage of it. Noah and I recently went skiing at Theodore Wirth Park. The park in north Minneapolis has 20 miles of cross country skiing trails, tubing, and snowboarding areas.

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We enjoyed a little over an hour of skiing, and we got a great workout. The trails were beautiful!

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2. Celebrate indoors! Luckily for me, the holiday of Purim provided a perfect opportunity to have fun inside. I invited friends over to make the traditional triangular-shaped Purim cookie, hamantashen.

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Another Purim tradition is costumes, so it seemed like the perfect opportunity to dress like a taco:

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And a person wearing footie pajamas (read: not really a costume):

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3. Try new food! One of the best indoor activities I know is eating, so I’ve enjoyed spending more time in the kitchen as well as trying some new restaurants.

We tried Victor’s 1959 Cafe, a Cuban restaurant in south Minneapolis.

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The restaurant featured lots of unique Cuban dishes, and I was excited to try a vegetarian dish with yuca and plantains. Noah had a salmon dish with beans, rice, and plantains.

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We also tried a Cuban beer and a Cafe Cubano (espresso sweetened with sugar and a tiny bit of milk):

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Highlights from my kitchen have been chicken with caramelized onion and cardamom rice from the Jerusalem cookbook:

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Salmon with thyme, broccoli, and rice:

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Peanut butter granola from CarrotsnCake:

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And cilantro burgers:

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The cilantro burgers were incredibly easy to make. Recipe as follows:

– 1 lb. ground beef
– 1 bunch chopped cilantro
– 1/4 cup chopped onion
– 2 eggs, beaten
– 1/2 cup flour

Mix everything together and then broil for 8 minutes on one side and 5-7 minutes on the other side (depending how pink you like it).

Sunnyside Drive

There’s an area around 44th and France that is full of ambiguity – are we in Minneapolis? Are we in Edina? One thing, however, leaves no ambiguity: the food.

Just off this intersection is a small street called Sunnyside Drive. The food on Sunnyside Drive is as delicious as the street name is cute. Next door to one another are two iconic and delicious Minneapolis institutions.

The first, Convention Grill, is an old classic.

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Convention Grill has been serving old style burgers, fries, and malts since 1934. Darn, it is good! I went with a friend for lunch. I got a burger and she got a grilled cheese:

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We also shared a half basket of fries (this is huge – I imagine the full basket would serve four people easily):

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I couldn’t resist the malt menu, so I ordered a peppermint shake.

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This was, unfortunately, a disappointment. Half the glass was filled with Andes mints. I would have preferred more milky goodness and less minty chew. Previously mentioned friend ordered a hot fudge sundae which is unpictured (but very good!).

In contrast to Convention Grill, the second place of yum on Sunnyside Drive is a relatively new addition to the Minneapolis food scene.
Hello Pizza is the baby sister of Pizzeria Lola, offering a more casual atmosphere, pizza by the slice, and easy walk up service.

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The inside of Hello Pizza is an interesting mix of cafeteria and traditional New York slice shop – all with a healthy splash of color!

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The pizza choices range from basic to exciting (artichoke hearts, piquillo peppers, and organic pulled chicken).

I ordered a slice of veggie and a slice of the artichoke special, and my dining partner ordered two slices of ‘Hello Rita’ (the classic margherita).

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Can you tell you prefers more inventive toppings? 🙂

In case you are judging me, I did not visit these restaurants back to back. Nor did I even visit them in the same week! I would not, however, frown on such behavior.

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. 🙂

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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.

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? 🙂

It was just

Summertime Things and the Lyndale Tap House

Summer brings sunshine and biking and….

1. Cold Brew Iced Tea

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How did I not know this existed before?! As an avid tea drinker, this is the perfect was to enjoy tea even in the heat of summer. Since I’m not willing to devote the time to brew a big batch, I put on of these bags in my water bottle, fill with cold water, and enjoy!

2. Spotify!

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Okay, so I did know this existed, but I didn’t have an account until recently. Well, technically, I still don’t have an account, but I am able to use my brother’s. Added bonus: slightly hilarious when his facebook feed says he has been listening to today’s top country artists and teen pop boy bands.

3. Summer clothes

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These are two examples of ridiculous summer outfits (the on the right was in a children’s clothes store?!?! Mark my words, no 4-year-old daughter of mine will be wearing shirts advertising her identity as a pin-up), but you get the point. Summer = shorts and skirts and tanks and happiness.

4. Trying new things

As you can probably tell from this blog, I love trying new things around Minneapolis all the time. But for some reason, the summer feels like an especially appropriate time to be out and about, going new places and seeing all the hidden gems of this beloved city. Recently, I checked out The Shout House downtown for the first time.

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The Shout House is a dueling pianos bar, which basically means there are two piano players alternating playing/singing hits from the 50’s through today.

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Songs are chosen through requests from the audience (your request is more likely to get played if you leave a tip), and people in the bar are encouraged to sing along. It was a TON of fun and I definitely want to go back!

In other news…I also tried the Lyndale Tap House recently.

I don’t think the food was anything to write home about, but I wanted to share it on here for anyone who’s interested in going! Lyndale Tap House is known for their burgers and pit beef. Appropriately, Noah ordered the Pit Burger which came with a burger AND pit beef:

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I ordered the beef chili and an appetizer of pretzel sticks:

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The pretzel sticks were definitely the best dish – they came with mustard and cheese sauce. Like I said, nothing to write home about. If you’re a big burger or pit beef fan you might enjoy sampling how the Tap House does it, but I think there are too many superior restaurants around to go here again.

Laramie Food

A few weeks ago I visited my wonderful family in the great western town of Laramie, Wyoming. Highlights from the visit home:

  • spending time with a fabulous mother, father, and brother
  • enjoying the unbridled affection of a certain labradoodle
  • enjoying the sleepy indifference of a beloved yellow lab
  • 16-mile bike ride heading towards the mountains
  • favorite restaurants

Going home always makes me feel like there’s just not enough time to fit in all of my favorite restaurants and at-home meals. During this latest visit, two restaurants made the cut. The first: Altitude Chophouse and Brewery.

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One of Laramie’s finer eating establishments, Altitude almost always has a wait. After a little confusion as to where we could be seated, we got a table and ordered quickly. Our choices: burgers (with waffle-cut fries, of course!) and a vegetable pizza.

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Delicious. As usual. 🙂

The second restaurant we ate at during my visit was Jeffrey’s Bistro. My obsession with this restaurant started during my sophomore year of high school. Yes, obsession was the right word to use in that sentence. Why? It’s a simple answer: tortilla soup Tuesday. This is not your grandmother’s tortilla soup (if your grandmother even makes such a thing). This soup is creamy, tomato-y, topped with melted cheese and tortilla strips, served with warmed wheat rolls, and has the most unparalleled taste of comfort I have ever experienced. Hyperbole, you ask? No way. GO TO JEFFREY’S ON A TUESDAY AND TRY THIS SOUP. You will see what I mean. 🙂

Starting during my sophomore year of high school, myself and a group of about 20 others went to Jeffrey’s every Tuesday for lunch. Sometimes our bowls would even be waiting when we arrived. 🙂 Often times, I would go back for dinner and get it again that night. Sometimes I would go after school to get it again as a snack before sports practice. Like I said, obsession.

Anyway…unfortunately, I was not back in Laramie on a Tuesday, so there was no tortilla soup in my life during this visit. Outside of the tortilla soup, Jeffrey’s is still top-notch with several delicious menu items (and their desserts are phenomenal!). We ordered marsala chicken with apples and sage, Asian-glazed halibut, and the Thai burrito.

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The thai burrito was my order, and it was tilapia, cabbage, mushrooms, carrots, and spicy thai sauce. It came with refried black beans and brown rice.

As I mentioned before, although the food is great, dessert can really steal the show at Jeffrey’s. All of the desserts are homemade (including the ice cream), creative, and deliriously delicious. We ordered a health bar mousse torte (which was milk chocolate homemade ice cream layered with heath bar bites) as well as a blackberry crisp.

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In case you couldn’t tell, my visit home was definitely a food success. Thanks, Mom and Pop! ❤