My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

One Little Wedding Post

Wow, I can't believe the wedding is over. It was such a gorgeous day and we had a ton of fun celebrating with our friends and family. Wow!

We haven't received our professional pictures yet, so we only have pictures from our friends. Here's one my cousin just sent to me. I'll be sure to post more in the next post once we get them organized.



I do want to take a moment and plug all of the businesses that helped make this happen.

Ceremony Site: Normandale Japanese Gardens
Reception Site: Atlas Grill (Ken Cole is very easy to work with!)
Officiant: Rev. Michael Tkach Paquin (such a nice guy!)
Photography: K2 Wedding Photography (old friends of mine from Proex days)
DJ: DJ Jake Rudh (a fellow recruiter and pro DJ)
Cake: Tres Leches from French Meadow Bakery
Flowers: Der's Flower Farm in Farmington (we picked and arranged ourselves)
Bridal Dress: La Sposa from Brides of France
Menswear: Macy's
Rings: Arte Bella (mine) & Studio Vincent (his)
Bridal Jewelry & Cufflinks: Swarovski
Limo: River City Limo
Hair: Tiffany from Signature Salon Spa (she came to our hotel room)
Make-Up: MAC in Downtown
Nails: Rosy Nails in Eagan
Hotel: Crowne Plaza in Downtown Minneapolis
Invites, Programs, Placecards: We made all these ourselves and got our paper at Paper Depot & Anchor Paper


If anyone needs more info on any of these vendors, please let me know.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

Sweet and Sour Tofu with Broccoli & Big News!

Hope everyone is doing well out in blogworld. Things have been very busy for Ryan and I over the last year and I haven't exactly announced the reason for us being so busy, but figure it's about time. We're finally getting married!!

After being together for almost half of our lives (15 years) and being engaged for 10 of those years, we decided to get married. We've been intensely planning a very fun wedding for our friends and family and the date is quickly approaching. We get married next Saturday here in the Twin Cities. The ceremony will be at a Japanese garden surrounded by our closest friends and family and we're holding a reception in downtown Minneapolis for about 130 guests.

I've planned plenty of conferences and events over my lifetime, but nothing as major as this. It's seriously the ULTIMATE event and we're lucky we're so organized. Boy do people look surprised when we whip out the spreadsheets :) After this weekend, we should be all set for the big day and able to enjoy the next week.

So, if I'm not posting for awhile, now you know why. It's always odd announcing personal news on a blog, but figured you've all been with us in cyberspace for the last couple years and should know what's up.

We haven't had too much time to cook because we normally get home around 10pm, watch a TV show, and go to bed, but every once in awhile we make some food. Sweet and Sour Tofu and Broccoli is one of my all time favorites and I love that Ryan made this for us when he got home early one day.




This time we were going to add zucchini, but forgot. Oh well. Ryan used 1 tablespoon of molasses instead of 1 teaspoon and instead of ruining the dish, it gave it a whole new flavor. I loved it!

We'll see how posting goes over the next week. During our honeymoon, I'm hoping to not have any contact with a computer, but maybe I can look into that auto-posting feature so you think I'm on top of things - ha!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Fennel Halibut with Fennel Tzatziki & Beet Salad

Ryan and keep saying we're going to make some halibut that has been in our freezer for months now. However, we never actually make it. It was the forgotten item until now! We received a bunch of fennel in our last crop share and we usually just grill it.

However, I found this recipe out on Cooking Light.com and thought it would be fantastic to use for our halibut.



Fennel-Marinated Halibut with Fennel Tzatziki

Ingredients
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons fennel seeds, crushed
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
4 (6-ounce) halibut fillets
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup shredded fennel bulb
2 teaspoons chopped fennel fronds
1 garlic clove, minced
Cooking spray


Preparation
Combine first 5 ingredients and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large zip-top plastic bag; add fish. Seal and marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally.
Preheat broiler.

Spoon yogurt onto several layers of heavy-duty paper towels; spread to 1/2-inch thickness. Cover with additional paper towels; let stand 5 minutes. Scrape into a bowl using a rubber spatula. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, shredded fennel bulb, chopped fennel fronds, and garlic. Cover and refrigerate.

Remove fish from bag; discard marinade. Place fish on a broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Serve with yogurt sauce.


The halibut was great! We cooked it well and the fennel flavor wasn't too strong, but perfect for this dish.

Alongside the halibut, we served a beet salad, also from Cooking Light.

We didn't have endive or spinach and instead just used some of our salad mix. The salad was great! I think the dressing made it so much more enjoyable as everything mixed together well.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Berry Goodness Muffins

Ryan and I went strawberry picking a few weekends ago (I still need to post on this!) and of course made a ton of strawberry related items.

I wake up much earlier than Ryan on the weekends and more often than not, I'm responsible for making breakfast. I try to hold out until he gets up, but sometimes I'm just too hungry to wait!

One morning I decided to whip together these muffins and figured he could eat them when he woke up. Berry Goodness Muffins are from the Eat, Drink and Be Vegan cookbook.

We used a combo of blueberries and strawberries. I ground my own oat flour using a coffee grinder. It worked out well!

For a muffin with healthy ingredients, it turned out amazingly well! Put a little Earth Balance on there and you're set! We enjoyed taking these for breakfast and snacks.
I'll have to post soon on the other strawberry related items we made. We did make this pie, but ate it too quickly to take a picture :) It is one of those "to die for" pies. Mmmmmm.....

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters

We picked up another crop share today. We usually split the box with Ryan's parents, but they are on a mission trip in Canada, so we have the full box this time.

Let me tell you what is taking up the room in my fridge...10 cucumbers, 8 zucchinis, 3 summer squashes...what the heck can I do with all this?

Luckily our farmers, Laura and Adam provided an awesome recipe for Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters so we made it almost instantly when I returned home with the crop share.

The changes we made are subbing panko for breadcrumbs, subbing Ener-G egg replacer for the eggs and topped it with a little bit of goat cheese. Yum! This will definitely be a way to use zucchini in our house.

Zucchini and Fresh Herb Fritters
(4 servings)

Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 lbs. zucchini, coarsely grated
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp chopped mint
1 cup dried breadcrumbs
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
½ cup parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil or marjoram
Olive oil as needed
1 bunch green onions, or 1 fresh onion including an inch of the greens, thinly sliced

Lightly salt the zucchini and set it aside in a colander to drain for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients together except the oil and pepper. Quickly rinse the zucchini, squeeze out excess water, and stir it into the batter. Add desired amount of salt and pepper.

Film a large skillet with olive oil. When hot, drop batter using a ¼ cup measure and cook over medium heat until golden on the bottom. Turn and cook the second side. Serve hot. Serve with yogurt sauce, salsa or garlic mayo.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Ginger Tofu with Noodles & Greens

I hope you had a great weekend! I have been so run down lately that I spent most of Saturday sleeping...I just couldn't get up! I finally got enough energy to go to the doctor to figure out why my throat has been so irritated for the last 6 days. Not that they had an answer because they rarely do, but at least I don't have strep. I guess I just wait this out and see what happens.

Sunday I felt a little more energized and went on a 4 mile walk (to make up for no exercise last week) and Ryan and I were able to organize our music. I tell ya, it's really hard to categorize M.I.A., Santogold and many of our other new CD's.

We also had some time to cook and having recently got some gorgeous Swiss Chard in our crop share, I knew we had to use it soon.



I remembered a recipe I got from Catherine over at Food Snob a few years ago for Ginger Tofu with Noodles & Greens. It was so long ago that she doesn't even remember it! Of course I substituted the spinach with our Swiss Chard and regular garlic for our green garlic from the crop share :)

Ginger Glazed Tofu with Peanut Noodles and Greens
(8 servings)


½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, smashed
½-inch ginger, minced
¼ tsp red pepper flakes
1 pkg. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 1 hour
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
½-inch ginger, minced
½ small onion, minced
½ cup coconut flakes
¼ cup sesame seeds
½ tsp red curry paste
2 tbsp peanut butter
Whole-wheat linguine
½ tsp salt
¼ cup vegetable broth
2 cups spinach

For the marinade, mix vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, 2 smashed cloves of garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl. Cube tofu and set in marinade; let soak for about 20 minutes.

Heat a large pot to boil and add linguine noodles and cook according to package directions. Drain and reserve. In a cool pan, pour 1 tablespoon olive oil, add 2 cloves of minced garlic, ginger, onion, and coconut. Turn on burner and heat to medium. Cook until onion, garlic and ginger are lightly brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the tofu cubes. Cook, stirring occasionally until browned. Add sesame seeds and red curry paste and continue to cook until sesame seeds are toasted. Then add peanut butter and cooked linguine noodles. Stir until peanut butter is melted and all ingredients are covered.

Add salt and veggie broth to deglaze the pan. Add spinach and cook until wilted and sauce is thick. Serve with steamed broccoli or other steamed vegetable.


Our sauce didn't necessarily turn out thick, but that was fine. I'm not one for saucy stuff anyway. This recipe was great and really easy to make. I have most of the ingredients on hand on a regular basis, so it's a good throw together meal. In the winter, I'm sure you could use frozen spinach or other greens.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Potluck Potstickers

My 2nd blog post back...that means I'm on a roll, huh?

Thought I'd leave you with some potstickers for the weekend. We have potlucks here at work from time to time and it's always a challenge finding something that doesn't have to stay too cold or too warm since we don't have refrigerators and have to fit everything in a lunchbag cooler.

Last potluck I brought potstickers and served them cold. These are one of my all-time favorite appetizers and besides the prep work, they are pretty easy to make. No one minded them served cold and they were all gone by the end of the day, so I consider that a hit.



I know I got this off of someone's blog a couple years ago, but can't recall who! Here's the recipe:

Potstickers

1 pkg. wonton wrappers
1 cup kale, very thinly sliced
½ cup carrot, shredded
½ cup jicama, shredded
½ c. green onions, thinly sliced
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp oil; vegetable, canola, or peanut
1/3 cup water

Combine kale, carrot, jicama, green onions, garlic and sesame oil in a medium sized bowl. Put about 1 teaspoon of mixture onto each wonton wrapper. Wet edges of wrapper and seal. Set on a plate.

Put one tablespoon oil in a pan. Heat it up and add dumplings seam side up. Fry them on medium until bottoms brown, about 5 to 10 minutes. Then add water and cover the pan. Steam the potstickers until water is gone from the pan, about 7 minutes. You will notice the sizzle sound change. You may need to do this in 2-3 batches.

Serve with various dipping sauces. I use a soy sauce, green onion, crushed red pepper mix for our dipping sauces.

Feel free to share any potluck ideas for me in the future...

Sunday, July 6, 2008

We're Still Cookin'!

Wow, I can't believe we haven't posted since February - time flies by! It's been nice to have a break from blogging. I'm on the computer all day for work, so it's hard to come home and be on the computer even more.

Good news is we're still cookin' and enjoying the summer! The 3rd year of our crop share has started and we are loving the fresh produce and creating recipes from the offerings. I feel like we've grown over the last 2 years and learned more how to manage working with seasonal crops and using everything we get. This year, I tried to have all my recipe options organized so we'd be well prepared when we get every box.


I'll leave you with a picture of our 1st crop share and a salad we made from the offerings...

As you can see, we received a lot of greens - 2 heads of lettuce, mixed greens, spinach, baby Swiss chard, parsley, fennel, green garlic and garlic scapes.


We ate a lot of salads. Here is one with grilled steak, red onions, blue cheese, tomatoes, radishes, and homemade croutons.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Broken Lasagna with Walnut Pesto & Peach Cake

How easy is it to whip up some pesto and toss it with noodles? I found this recipe from Heidi Swanson in my Food and Wine magazine and had to try it! This is one of the best pestos I've made. Sometimes they turn out too bitter or clumpy, but this one coated the noodles very well.

Despite the poor picture quality, you can still see that I used a spring mix instead of arugula and found it to still be good. We only had a couple mushrooms and sauteed them and tossed with the pasta.



Back a couple months ago, this peach cake was going around. We received a tub of peaches from a family member and prepped them for the freezer. We finally got around to making this cake using the frozen peaches. How pretty!


However, I have to say this wasn't my favorite. It was easy to make, but didn't hit the spot. We eventually finished the whole cake, but probably wouldn't make it again.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pizza Time!

Previously, I posed the question if pizza could still count as a meal...well, the answer is yes! Although we've cut down our pizza consumption, it's still great to make every so often.

I make my own pizza dough using my breadmaker and immediately freeze it for later use. We probably have 2-3 pizza doughs in the freezer at all times and it works very well. to put together a quick meal.

I've been wanting to try various cheese-less pizzas for awhile now and finally made a Caramelized Onion Pizza with Walnuts and Sage from the Students Go Vegan cookbook. I've never caramelized so many onions before and boy did everything smell like onion for days! I'll have to wait until spring to make this again when I can have the windows open.

This pizza was super easy...I prebaked the crust, added the caramelized onions, toasted walnuts, and sage. It rocked. I really liked it and didn't miss the cheese, although some blue cheese would be perfect on this in the future.


Another pizza we made was a taco pizza. This is pretty basic as you prebake the crust, spread a bean and salsa mixture and bake a bit longer. Then top with lettuce, tomatoes, salsa, crushed tortilla chips and mozzarella cheese. We went pretty heavy on the bean mixture, but if making for a group would probably cut it down a bit as it makes a mess!



Both these pizzas would be fantastic for a Superbowl party :) Taco pizza used to be my favorite in college, but I haven't been able to find a similar one since. This comes pretty close!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Crusted Tempeh with Root Mash & Miso Gravy

As I love trying new recipes, it's not often that we make the same thing more than once. However, we do go through spurts of favorites and the Crusted Tempeh from Students Go Vegan is definitely a favorite. As mentioned before, this tempeh is baked in a marinade, brushed with Dijon mustard, and coated with a cornmeal mixture before pan frying.

We served the Crusted Tempeh with a root mash of potatoes and parsnips (left over from our cropshare!). The mash was topped with a miso gravy from Real Food Daily. I really love this gravy and could serve it with almost anything. I think the miso has a perfect salt level for me.




One thing I need to work on though is how to mash potatoes...I really need a potato masher because using beaters just doesn't work. Either it's too lumpy or too glue-like. That's why I hand over the mashing to Ryan typically. Just not my specialty!

It's getting colder and colder here in Minnesota. It's that bone chilling, stomach clenching cold, but I do indulge in using my automatic car starter. It's made the Minnesota winters much more bearable! I'm wishing it would snow...at least then it would have to warm up around here :)

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Cranberry and Wild Rice Salad with Pistachios and Pears

When I first saw this recipe in a grocery store magazine, I thought "I HAVE to make that!" We had all the ingredients and it looked healthy.

So, I cooked up some wild rice - it was cooked to perfection may I add! I mixed that with some diced pears, dried cranberries and green onions. It was all topped with pistachios. Yum, Yum!



Here's the recipe...didn't have leeks, so used green onions:


Wild Rice with Pears, Pistachios and Cranberries
(4 to 6 servings)

2/3 cup wild rice
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 leeks, white part only, thinly sliced
2 firm, but ripe pears, cut into chunks
1 tbsp brandy
¼ cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup coarsely chopped salted pistachios

Rinse rice and place in a saucepan. Cook according to package directions.

While rice cooks, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add leeks and sauté until tender, but not browned, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving bowl and keep warm.

Add remaining butter to skillet and raise heat to medium-high and add pears. Sauté, stirring for 30 seconds, then stir in brandy and cook until evaporated. Add to leeks.

When rice is cooked, drain off all excess liquid. Transfer to bowl with leeks and pears and add pistachios and cranberries. Mix well. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt to taste. Serve hot.

In the next year, I'm planning on teaching some cooking classes for community education and would love to put this dish on the menu!

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