My Blog on WCCO-TV: Bite of Minnesota

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Black Bean Burritos with Mushroom & Onion

The last week just flew by! I think it was because I had something going on every evening starting with the Best of the Best Party on Monday night, continuing with an awesome Morcheeba concert on Wednesday (thanks, Ryan, for winning tickets), and ending with the Kitchen in the Market party on Thursday.

This next week will be another busy one beginning with a dinner meeting at The Marsh, a menu sampling at The Herb Box and rounding out with several birthday celebrations for Ryan involving Restaurant Week at Barbette and D'Amico Date Night at Café Lurcat. Should be a fun time!

Since home cooking isn't too likely next week and I can't count on leftovers from my restaurant outings, I put together some black bean burritos for a quick grab and go option. I didn't do anything fancy, but here are some simple instructions.

Black Bean Burritos
(serves 6)

1 tsp olive oil
1 red onion , diced
8 oz. cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms, diced
1 15 oz. can Kueners Southwestern black beans with cumin & chili spices, undrained
6 oz. cheddar cheese, shredded
6 French Meadow sprouted grain tortillas

Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add red onion and cremini mushrooms and saute until onion is translucent and mushrooms have released all their liquid. Add black beans and stir until heated through.

Spoon 1/2 cup black bean mixture onto the lower third of the tortilla. Add one ounce of shredded cheddar cheese. Fold in sides and bottom and roll tortilla into a burrito shape. Wrap in foil and store in refrigerator. When ready to eat, place in a 375° oven for 15-20 minutes or unwrap foil and heat in the microwave. Serve with sour cream and salsa.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Smashburger Sneak Peek in Eden Prairie

Earlier this month, I was invited to a sneak peek of the new Smashburger in Eden Prairie. Now, you wouldn't expect that I'd get excited about a burger joint opening (especially with the explosion of burger places in the last year and my lack of burger eating), but I was excited for another reason - it is close to Ryan's work. Even though he brings his own lunch, it is nice to know what options exist for when he needs to escape the office.

Ryan and I met up at the new Eden Prairie location and were instructed to try everything, and we started with the black bean burger, which turned out to be Ryan's favorite. The black bean patty is made in house and can be served in any style, just like their other burgers. We went for the Baja style: pepperjack cheese, guacamole, fresh jalapenos, and chipotle mayo, which paired perfectly with the cumin seasoned patty.

My PR friend urged us to try the new grilled cheese sandwiches, so we chose Swiss, spinach and mushroom. The bread was nicely toasted and had a hint of salt on the outside, just how I make my grilled cheese sandwiches at home! Plus, the spinach and mushrooms were abundant so I didn't feel like it was just cheese and bread.

I got to sample all of the sides and would say the Smashfries coated with rosemary and garlic were certainly my favorite.

The best item of the night was the Sin City Burger. It's not on the menu, but ask and you shall receive a totally sinful burger topped with smoked bacon, grilled onions, cheese, Smashsauce and a fried egg. Nope, it's not good for you at all, which is probably why I couldn't put it down. Each city has their own signature burger and ours is the Twin Cities Burger, a take on a juicy lucy, but it just wasn't as delicious as the Sin City Burger.

I think I used up all my gluttony points on this visit, so next time I vow to stick with the black bean burger and a side salad :)

Disclosure: This was a sneak peek event in which the food is provided at no cost. While free food can't pay my mortgage, it can fill me up for dinner.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tofu Florentine

Can you believe this warm-up we're experiencing here in the Twin Cities? I ran some errands today wearing just the fleece inside of my winter coat - heck yeah! I know it's something that won't last, I mean, come on, we live in Minnesota, but, days like this give us some hope for spring.

On the home front, I prepped some food and planned out meals for next week. Since I recently started a short-term contract back in the corporate world, I found that I'll have to use my weekends wisely by squeezing in as much prep as possible. I made sun-dried tomato hummus, dough from Artisan Bread in 5, and cut up a bunch of veggies for snacks. I also tested recipes for a friend's cookbook, so I have some baked goods for breakfast and/or lunch.

One of my favorite meals to make when I have some extra time has to be Tofu Florentine from Veganomican. There are so many steps: press and broil tofu, boil and fry potatoes, steam spinach & whisk together cheesy sauce, but I think I have the process down so I can move quickly through the steps. It takes up a lot of pots and pans, but this dish is so worth it! If you like to cook vegan and don't have this cookbook, run out and get it now.

From the "diner fries" to the steamed spinach, every bite is delicious. I might have to start making a double batch of cheesy sauce (loaded with nutritional yeast) since I smother everything with it. Yum!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Have You Tried Opal Apples?

I’m pretty tired of the apples I’ve been buying lately. It seems that either they are mushy or the core is rotted. Plus, apples aren’t cheap!

You can imagine my delight when I came across the Opal apple at Byerly’s. I almost didn’t buy it because it was $2.99 a pound and the apple itself was a good pound, but I’m not one to resist new foods regardless of price. In doing some research, I found that while it was discovered in Europe in the late 90’s, it was just released in the American market earlier this year.

At home, I cut it into slices and was amazed at the slight banana flavor of this apple – how unique! Plus, it was juicy and crispy, hitting the spot immediately.

Have you seen Opal apples at the store? Tried them? What did you think?

Monday, February 7, 2011

Fruitful Labor in Recipe Development

Last spring when I was hiking (and eating) my way around Phoenix, I received a message from Betty Crocker that confirmed that I was on the right path in my food career. After being laid off from my corporate job (that I loved) in February 2009, I decided to take a break from my traditional career and venture into my passions: food and sharing with others.

Some people thought I was crazy, but the people who really know me thought it was the perfect choice. Despite being laid off, I never stopped working. Work just morphed into another form where I traded business casual wear for jeans and conference calls for networking lunches and restaurant openings.

Within a few weeks of being laid off, I started blogging for WCCO-TV (our local CBS affiliate) and then picked up projects as a recipe tester for Robin Asbell's vegan cookbook, a restaurant feature writer for Twin Cities Food Finds, and a blogger for the City Pages Hot Dish column. All the while, I kept trying to meet new people to become further immersed in food and media culture.

Photo Credit:  General Mills website
One of my goals was to learn more about the recipe development and testing process. So, when I received a call from Betty Crocker asking me to develop recipes for an upcoming Bisquick magazine, I jumped at the chance. As soon as I returned from Phoenix, I got to work researching, developing, testing and tweaking recipes until the project was complete. Then I waited…and waited...until the magazine came out last month.

Finally, I can talk about Open-Face Egg Salad Sandwiches:

…and Pear and Cranberry Fruit Pizza:

…and a whole ton of other recipes like Chopped Vegetable Pancakes and Impossibly Easy Ravioli Pie! Grab a copy at the grocery store (near the checkout) or in the magazine racks of your local bookstore. Heck, I've even seen copies at CVS or Walgreens. It will be on shelves until February 15th.

It was a wonderful project and I'm so grateful for the opportunity.  I can only hope more projects like this will be in my future; I can't wait to see what happens!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Four Courses at Haute Dish

After my great dinner of lobster on Friday night, I headed over to The Inn (the former Subo restaurant in downtown Minneapolis) for a birthday hour. I was there for quite some time as I was served a hefty but delicious bourbon drink and needed some time to sip it.

The group I was with decided it was time to "break some stuff" to which I responded timidly, "but.. I don't like to break things". Turns out they were simply talking about keeping the party rolling by heading over to Haute Dish. Whew!

Since I was with a bunch of food lovers (including a chef, an author, and a food writer), the best way to explore the menu was by diving straight in, sampling all four courses. I only snapped a few pictures of the first course (with my little point and shoot), but let me assure you that we tried a good portion of the menu.

I was pretty surprised that a restaurant served a plate of cottage cheese, but it was certainly the best cottage cheese I've ever had. Topped with charred grapefruit segments, slices of fennel, and candied hazelnuts, I never knew cottage cheese could be so fancy.

Poached eggs are all the rage, heck, eggs in general are all the rage as evidenced in the poached egg salad, steak and eggs, and pigs in a blanket (served over scrambled eggs). Check out the fantastic photos on the Haute Dish website - mine hardly do the restaurant any justice.

I wasn't a big fan of the pigs in a blanket or the fried chicken (a bit too salty for me), but I did appreciate the fun twists Chef Landon Schoenefeld used in his creations. Crushed Cheetos served as a garnish on a tender veal dish and the Minnesota staple of tater tot hot dish was truly redefined as haute food.

The array of sorbets for the fourth course were also wonderful with my favorite being the passion fruit sorbet. Luckily, it went relatively untouched by the rest of the table, so I happily finished it off.

Most of the menu is pretty meat heavy, so between this dinner and the sneak peek of Smashburger (to be discussed in another post), I certainly exceeded my normal meat intake. Since I usually focus on healthier veggie based foods, I'm expecting my digestive system to repair itself quickly.

Have you been to Haute Dish? What did you try? Did you get a chance to check out the vegetarian tasting menu when it was offered?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lobster Anyone?

If I had updated my Facebook status on Friday night, it would have been one of those over-joyous and bordering-on-annoying updates, so instead I saved my excitement for the blog and went to bed.

Now, I should admit that I ate not one, but two dinners on Friday night. Indulgent? You bet! Especially because my evening started with lobster.

This fall I visited the Smack Shack with some girlfriends and we swooned over the lobster roll and shrimp po' boy, vowing to return when the food trucks hit the streets again. Check out that lovely sandwich would ya?

Well, I didn't have to wait until summer as Smack Shack has taken over the kitchen at the 1029 Bar in Northeast Minneapolis serving up succulent lobster creations Wednesday through Saturday. On this particular evening, they were putting on a lobster boil. Yep, a lobster boil in the middle of winter in Minnesota…and they had so much fun that they did it again the next night! For $20 you can get all of this:

I strapped on my bib (yes, bibs were provided) and pried open the lobster with some help from Josh Thoma, considering I had no clue where or how to start (apparently, aggressiveness is key). The lobster was extremely good on it's own, but I'm a total butter fan, so of course I dipped a few pieces in butter for good measure. Served alongside the lobster was a surprisingly fresh tasting ear of corn, a piece of sausage and some hearty red skinned mashed potatoes. Yum! I'm totally going back soon - can't wait!

Watch their Facebook page for notifications on events like this. Spots fill up quickly, so sign up right away if you can.

Coming soon…dinner #2.

Disclosure: I received my meal for free as part of the press, but was not required to write about the experience. I chose to because seriously, it's darn good lobster and I'll be back!
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