My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Monday, November 29, 2010

A Thanksgiving Treat

I hope you had a great weekend! We did our first Thanksgiving meal with Ryan’s family and our second meal at my family’s house. Lots of food all around and I brought Candied Sweet Potato Casserole.


Sweet potato casserole is not something I grew up with and in fact, I don’t think I had a sweet potato until I was an adult. Three years ago I brought this dish to Thanksgiving and everyone seemed to like it, so I brought it again this year.


I baked both pans the night before until the sweet potatoes were slightly tender so I wouldn’t use up much oven time/space at the host houses. On Thanksgiving day, I warmed the potatoes up for about 10 minutes in the oven before adding the marshmallow topping and baking until browned (about 10 more minutes). I’m so glad I discovered this recipe to serve as a Thanksgiving treat.

Do you have a dish that you like to bring to holiday gatherings?

Monday, November 22, 2010

Dinner Menus - Now in Chalk!

It’s pretty well known amongst my friends and family that I’d love to move closer to Minneapolis and get the heck out of the ‘burbs. While it may be a great time to buy, it’s also a horrible time to sell, so we’ll stay put for a little while longer. Instead, we’ve decided to rearrange our house and give it a good refresh.


I’ve always wanted a chalkboard in the kitchen and now I finally have it! Ryan painted this on a wall that goes from the kitchen to the living room. I’m hoping this will help answer the “what’s for dinner” question that Ryan always asks. Now I can simply point to the chalkboard instead of searching for my paper lists.

Ryan, the handyman in our house.
I hope to keep it updated (unlike the graph paper calendar I created that never progressed past October 2009).  So, I might should take pictures and post it periodically to keep myself accountable.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Brioche Caramel Rolls


Remember that bake-a-long that I was doing with Catherine and Victoria? The one where we pick recipes from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day and blog about our results…well, I haven’t exactly been baking along. Don’t get me wrong, I tried a few times, but failed. The problems started when I made Aunt Melissa’s Granola Bread and after 2 ½ hours, the dough barely rose. I baked it anyway and my house started to smell like burnt chemicals – perhaps something just didn’t go right.


I thought, “better luck next time”, and eagerly mixed up a batch of Sunflower Seed Breakfast Loaf, our next assignment. But, yet again, this loaf fell flat too.

The sunflower seed dough was tossed and I moved onto the Oatmeal Pumpkin Bread…flat again! Frustrated, but not ready to give up, I discussed my issue with Catherine who thought maybe my water was too hot, killing the yeast right away.

I bought new yeast and got into the brioche assignment; this time using my laser thermometer to make sure the water temperature didn’t go over 100°. While the dough didn’t rise as much as I had anticipated, it still seemed to be working better than my previous attempts, so I moved into making caramel rolls.


Success! The brioche made for sinful caramel rolls that I couldn’t stop eating. Yum! I’m glad I stuck with the project despite several failed attempts; caramel rolls were a great reward.


Not sure what we’re picking next, but I’m eager to keep baking!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Now Open: Peace Coffee Shop

Woo hoo! I visited the new Peace Coffee Shop and it is so cool! I may be a bit biased because I happen to love Peace Coffee both for their amazing coffee and for their local involvement, so it comes as no surprise that I'm excited about the coffee shop.


Last week after the Free Arts Art Heals breakfast, I was running a bunch of errands that put me in the Longfellow neighborhood. As I was driving down Minnehaha, ready to head home, it struck me that the new Peace Coffee Shop was only a few blocks away and it was open!


I entered the coffee shop with a big grin on my face and was greeted with an equally big grin from coffee shop manager, Monika.


I already had my coffee for the day (darn!) and ate lunch (double darn!), but wanted a reason to linger and absorb the atmosphere, so I went for the soup of the day, African Peanut Soup and grabbed a seat.

Flavorful and warming African Peanut Soup.
After spotting CEO and Queen Bean, Lee Wallace, in the Brew Lab, we chatted for a bit about the new coffee shop and what the public can expect:

Be prepared for a great cup of coffee, however you like it.


Experienced baristas can pour a simple cup of coffee, make special recipe mochas and chai, or deliver the perfect pour over and French press.

Get ready to learn.


Peace Coffee wants you to learn how to do it yourself. Not only will a Brew Lab host trainings and workshops for the general public, but baristas are ready to share tips and tricks while preparing your coffee. Brew Lab events will be posted on the website as they are scheduled.

Local partnerships are oh-so-important.


Soups are brought in daily from The Wedge Co-op and chewy bagels come from Common Roots Cafe. I wouldn’t be surprised if more local partnerships crop up as Peace Coffee has a strong network to tap into.

While there are still some final touches to be done to the shop, like finishing the tile, inserting some tables, etc., I really like what I see so far and can’t wait to stop by again for the grand opening (TBA) to see the final product. Next time I’ll bring Ryan, my fellow Peace Coffee addict.

Peace Coffee Shop
3262 Minnehaha Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55406

612.877.7760
http://www.peacecoffeeshop.com/

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Broccoli, Brown Rice & Cheddar Casserole

Since I soon have to accept that it is cold out, I figured a casserole would be in order. I usually don’t make casseroles and just the word “casserole” brings back memories of mom’s elbow macaroni, ground beef and green bean concoction that we ate way too many times. (Sorry mom!) I’ve heard that casseroles and hot dishes are just a Midwestern thing, anyone know if this is true?

My friend, Kate, made this broccoli and rice casserole soon after we met last year and I’ve had it bookmarked ever since because it brought back some memories. Way back in the day, one of my favorite things to bring to lunch was a frozen vegetable side from Green Giant. Know which ones I’m talking about? The small frozen boxes of Green Bean Casserole, Cheesy Rice and Broccoli, Green Beans & Almonds, etc. One day, my taste buds noticed a significant jump in sodium content and since then, I haven’t been able to stomach them.

Luckily, Kate’s Homemade Brown Rice, Broccoli and Cheddar Casserole hit the spot and brought back my better memories of Cheesy Rice and Broccoli from Green Giant, only this time it had brown rice, organic cream of mushroom soup, and tons of fresh broccoli. It was so delicious and full of creamy cheesy goodness that I consciously had to put my fork down and stop eating.


This time I made the full recipe, which could have easily served eight. Ryan took it for lunch day after day, loving it as leftovers too. Next time I’ll have to make just half of the recipe.

Thanks for the great recipe, Kate!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Great Combinations: Brussels Sprouts & Apples

Yay, another dinner at home! I had picked up Brussels sprouts from Ann Yin over at Local D’Lish and wanted to make the Shredded Brussels Sprouts and Apple Salad from 101 Cookbooks.


I started by marinating my own tofu using the Veganomican Italian marinade recipe and the leftover container I got from the Surdyk’s Flights event. It works so well for marinating because it has a flat bottom.

Reduce, reuse, recycle!


Then I baked the strips of tofu in a 400° oven for 25 minutes or until slightly crispy, skipping the whole pan-frying step. After the tofu had cooled a bit, I cut it into bite-sized pieces and started the garlic and maple syrup in a skillet, adding sliced apples and tofu at the end per the recipe. I substituted peanuts for pine nuts simply because pine nuts are outrageously expensive, so I rarely have them on hand anymore.


It was a delicious dinner and because it’s so good for you, I didn’t feel guilty eating a ton of it. It's also a pretty easy recipe - I just chose to complicate things a bit by combining recipes.

I might as well be participating in Vegan Mofo this month.  Maybe I'll participate unofficially since I missed the sign up deadline.


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Hearty Fall Dinner

I survived Halloween and even stayed at home!  Last year, Ryan and I read books at a coffee shop, ran errands and went out to eat, which was a great way to people watch. This year we had too many things to do around the house, so I made a last minute candy run and had about 10 groups of trick-or-treaters come to our door.  I "forgot" to put out the mini Snickers, so it looks like I'll be making Snickers cookies soon.


While Ryan handled the trick-or-treaters, I took care of dinner. With three cookbooks open for inspiration, it made for a chaotic cooking session, something I haven’t done in awhile. In just about 1 hour, I made all of this:


Delicious and full of hearty fall flavors, this meal hit the spot. I really enjoyed the process of making the meal too. It may have been a lot of work, but I truly believe cooking is therapy (for me) and I needed some cooking therapy after working so hard on the other jobs in my life.


The chili roasted delicata squash was so simple: cut into rings, remove the seeds and chop into pieces. Toss with olive oil and chili powder and roast for 20 minutes in a 400° oven.


I steamed both parsnips and russet potatoes (in separate pots) before mashing them with a little milk and butter (soymilk and Earth Balance). The gravy is Golden Gravy from Real Food Daily and a favorite at our house. Full of rich nutritional yeast, whole wheat flour, onion and herbs, I could eat this with a spoon.
 

I’ve heard many other bloggers rave about the Veganomican’s Chickpea Cutlets and now I can rave too! Made of mashed chickpeas, vital wheat gluten, breadcrumbs and spices, these thin cutlets crisped up well when pan-fried and were delicious as leftovers too.


My goal is to make more meals like this in the next few months. With all the other food related activities in my life, I haven’t been able to focus on meal planning and cooking as of late. Guess I’ll have to practice saying “no” a little more often.
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