Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Dem Bones

I’m the luckiest girl in the world because I have a husband who cooks nearly every single night.  Every.  Single.  Night.  It’s a very wonderful thing and I appreciate it really a lot.  It gives me time to do my crafty stuff.  Or just sit around letting someone cook for me.  If I just sit around letting someone cook for me long enough I start feeling a little guilty.  I can feel guilty for a long time before I actually do something about it.  This weekend I decided to do something about the fact that I never cook.  I cooked.

We had a delicious meal of barbecued ribs.  I browned the ribs under the broiler early in the morning and whipped up a batch of my famous barbecue sauce, which I haven’t made for a long time because I don’t cook much anymore.  After the ribs were browned I cut them up into serving sizes and put them on a bed of sliced onion in the crock pot.  I poured a cup of my barbecue sauce on top of them and plugged in the crock pot.  Because I don’t cook much I realized an hour and a half later than I hadn’t turned the crock pot on.  Merely plugging it in won’t necessarily make it heat up the food.

No matter, the ribs were finished by 6:00 and were absolutely delicious with some au gratin potatoes and coleslaw.  The meat of the ribs came right off the bones and was moist and savory.

As we sat at the table after we’d finished eating I noticed the rib bones on our plates.  The first thing I thought of was I wonder if I could do a craft project with these bones.  I even said it out loud in front of Husby, who kind of laughed and said, “we could put them in the dishwasher and get them all clean, and then dry them in the sun.”  I thought for a minute.  Hmm…

After dinner I Googled “pork rib bone crafts” and I found this:


I got a little scared because I thought if we actually washed the pork rib bones in the dishwasher then set them out in the sun to dry Jesus might make them alive and they’d sprout little bone arms and legs and smiley faces and start dancing all over the back yard.  That was too much for me to handle.  The bones ended up in the garbage.


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You know how you go on Pinterest and pin all these decorating ideas, DIY projects, and most of all, recipes?  I’m not huge on the Pinterest scene, but I pinned something a while back and finally decided to try it.  The Salted Caramel Cheesecake.  It got a lot of attention on Pinterest and I think the comments to the original post (published in 2011) have been closed, so I thought I’d post my comment here.

I was a little afraid of this at first because quite frankly the amount of salt in the original recipe is astounding.  I made some adjustments and served the cheesecake at a Father’s Day/Birthday celebration for my mom and dad.  To see the original recipe, click right here.

This photo is credited to The Modern Apron. I forgot to take a picture of my finished product. My caramel didn’t have the deep brown color as this one because I was afraid of scorching it. It was still very tasty though.

Here’s how I made the cheesecake:


15 graham crackers
3 Tbsp sugar
1 stick butter, melted

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Place crackers in a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin until they turn into fine crumbs. Put crumbs into a medium bowl. (I crushed half the crumbs in the bag, emptied into a bowl, then did the same to the second half of the crackers.) Add sugar and butter to cracker crumbs and mix until all are combined and the mixture is crumbly.

2. Transfer the mixture to a 10” springform pan sprayed with cooking spray. Pat crumb mixture into the bottom of the pan, and up the sides about 2”.

3. Bake crust until slightly brown, about 8-10 minutes. Remove crust from the oven and allow to cool completely on a rack.


3 8-oz packages cream cheese, room temperature
1 14-oz can dulce de leche*
2 Tbsp flour
1 1/4 cup sugar
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract
4 large eggs, room temperature

* Apparently you can find dulce de leche in the Latin section of the grocery store.  I couldn’t find it in my neighborhood store, so I made it myself.  Empty one 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk into a double boiler and cook over simmering water for 1 to 1 1/2 hours.  It will turn darker, thick and caramely.  Whisk it smooth and let cool a bit before using it in the cheesecake recipe.

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

1.  In a stand mixer beat the cream cheese until smooth.  Add dulce de leche and beat to combine.

2.  Add flour and beat to combine, scraping sides when necessary.  Beat until smooth and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  There should be no lumps.

3.  Add sugar and beat to combine.

4.  Add vanilla and combine.  Then add eggs one at a time, combing thoroughly after each.  Don’t overbeat as that will cause the cheesecake to puff up too much and cause the surface to crack.

5.  Pour cream cheese mixture into cooled crust and smooth the top. 

6.  Bake at 300 degrees F for 55-65 minutes.  The center will be a little wiggly, but the edges will be puffed up and have a nice golden color.  Cool completely on a wire rack, then refrigerate for at least 8 hours.  This allows the cheesecake to become the rich denseness it should be.


1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 Tbsp water
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp butter
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1. In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and water. Swirl to combine.
2. Continue cooking until the sugar turns golden brown, swirling occasionally. You’re looking for something that’s about the color of dark honey.  It should take 3-5 minutes.  Or more.  Keep a close eye on it as caramelizing sugar goes from perfect to ruined in a split second.
3. Remove from heat and carefully add the butter, then the cream. Don’t wait until the butter is melted; toss in the butter, give it a whisk, then pour in the cream. It will foam up, seize, and otherwise look like a total failure. Persevere! Add the vanilla extract and salt and continue whisking.
4. Return to medium low heat and whisk until smooth. (Added note: if your caramel is too thin, let it cook for a while over a low heat.)  Allow to cool slightly, about 15 minutes.
5. Remove cheesecake from the refrigerator and pour caramel over the top, letting it pool in the middle.
6. Return the cheesecake to the refrigerator to let the caramel set, about 30 minutes. To serve, cut in slices with a sharp knife.
This dessert was a definite challenge but everyone loved it.  The original recipe has many more teaspoons of kosher salt in the crust and in the cheesecake, but I thought the amount of salt in the caramel was enough for the whole cake.  I can’t imagine having more throughout the cake, but if you’d like to try it out, follow the original recipe.
I’ll definitely make it again, for a large group, of course.  This cheesecake will serve 12-16 people.  If you decide to try it, I’d love to hear how it turned out and how you liked it.
Happy baking!

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Dive Night is a semi-monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.

It’s been a long time since the last Dive Night.  I guess the four of us are getting busier, so we get together when we can.  The dive was the choice of Husby and me, which took me back to my old neighborhood of over twenty years ago.  I spent some time at this place during my single days as it was only a half block away from my apartment, and when Husby and I were dating we’d stop by for a bite once in a while.  We thought it would be a good place to share with Ruthie and Ray, and really fun for me to see what’s happened to the establishment since I’ve been there last.  I present to you, Goby’s.

Goby’s has a new facade since I was there last, but the interior was pretty much the same as it was oh so many years ago.  One thing I noticed right away that hadn’t changed at all ~ one of the regulars.  A little grayer, but it was the same guy.  We were there around 6:30 on a Friday evening and the crowd was more mature, like us.  I have no idea what kind of clientele they have after the dinner hour.

A view from the front door. See that wait person toward the center of the picture? The one with the short shorts? She also had a low-cut top that was very filled out. Besides being very bodacious she was also a very good server. I’m sure the boys tipped her well. I would have too ~ she was cheerful and served our meals perfectly.

Here’s a picture of the game room. It’s located at the back of the bar/restaurant. Lots of games to choose from. Lots. There’s also a juke box that holds lots of your old-time favorites.

Goby’s is a clean place to spend an evening eating, playing, and drinking.  Husby and Ray both got a Stella Artois (if I drank beer that’s what I’d drink because it’s just so classy) but Ray didn’t think the Stella was anything spectacular.  Husby still enjoys it quite a bit.  Ruthie and I got our typical glass of wine.  And now, on with the food.  Please forgive the blurry photos.  I’m still learning how to take pictures in a dark room.

For appetizers we got a basket of deep-fried pickles (Ruthie’s favorites) and deep-fried garlic mushrooms. Both were served with a ranch dipping sauce. The mushrooms were especially good with that garlic-y flavor.

Ruthie ordered a steak sandwich with mushrooms and swiss cheese. She ordered the steak rare and that’s exactly what she got. It looked delicious. She also got a side of onion rings which looked fantastic.

Ray got a hickory burger with bacon, cheese, and a hickory barbecue sauce. He also got a big pile of fries. The buns Goby’s uses for their burgers are my favorite. They’re toasted, but are lofty and kind of squishy. I love them.

Husby had the buffalo chicken sandwich. He got it with chips, which come standard with a burger/sandwich. The chicken was moist and the buffalo sauce was just the right temperature, spicy-wise.

I got the ‘shroom burger. It was a favorite of mine a long time ago and is still as good as ever. Goby’s uses fresh mushrooms and plenty of cheese. I got a side of crinkle fries and seasoned sour cream. The sour cream was a little sweeter than I expected. It tasted more like Thousand Island dressing, but was still tasty.

The burgers are eight ounces but you can also get them as twelve ouncers.  Twelve?!  I love to eat but a burger that big would put me in a food coma for a week.  But it’s available for those with extra huge appetites.

One thing that might turn some people off is the outdoor smoking.  Smokers stand close to the door, and the day we were there the door was open, so the smoke wafted in a bit.  If that bothers you, you might want to sit toward the back of the room away from the door.

All in all, Goby’s is every bit as good as I remembered it being.  It’s a bar, there’s no doubt about that, but the food they serve is well-made and served hot out of the kitchen and our service was considerate, friendly and accurate, not to mention a perfect hottie.

Whether you go to Goby’s for an after-work cocktail, a very reasonably priced and delicious meal, or to shoot a game of pool or two, you’re sure to have a good experience.  If you doubt it, just ask the twenty-five-year veteran Goby’s patron sitting at the end of the bar.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of this very special Dive Night, which will be posted later this week. 

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When I was in seventh grade I took Home Ec(onomics) in school.  I didn’t do so well in the sewing part of the class, but I did pretty well in the cooking part.  In fact, I did so well with making muffins that during the summer following seventh grade I entered my muffins in the county fair.  And won a blue ribbon!

I love muffins.  I mostly love muffins that are plain or have berries in them.  I won’t eat a chocolate muffin, and oaty muffins are wasted on me.  I thought I’d share my recipe for Blue Ribbon Muffins in case you like muffins as much as I do.  It’s a plain recipe, and you can add a cup of berries to the batter if you like.

First of all, grease the bottoms only of your muffin tin.  Bottoms only.  This is very important because if you grease the sides your muffins might not have a nice, rounded top.  Then, whisk together:

3 cups all-purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup sugar

In a separate bowl mix together:

2 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 cup vegetable oil

Add the wet mixture to the dry mixture and fold gently until the dry mixture is completely moistened. Don’t over stir because then you’ll get air holes or “tunnels” in your muffins. The batter should be lumpy.  Spoon batter into muffin cups.  You can use paper liners if you prefer (and you wouldn’t have to grease the tin at all) but I find that makes the muffins drier than if they are baked right in the tin.

This is a good consistency for muffin batter. The wet ingredients are carefully folded so there is no dry flour in the mix, but the batter is still lumpy.

After the batter is evenly distributed between twelve muffin cups, bake in a preheated 400° F oven for about twenty minutes.  It might take longer or shorter, depending on your oven.

A perfect muffin! Nice rounded top.

Let the muffins cool for about five minutes in the pan, and then remove to cool completely.

Like I said earlier, this recipe can take a cup of berries if you want a more fruity muffin.  I like to add blueberries or raspberries when I’m in the mood.  You can mix up these muffins in the time it takes your oven to preheat, so you’ll never have the excuse of “I have no time to bake.”

These plain muffins are divine with a bit of butter.

You can also freeze the muffins for a later date.  I put them in the freezer immediately after they’re completely cool, to prevent them from drying out.  However, I don’t normally freeze them unless I’ve made two batches.  We can eat one batch of muffins pretty quickly in my house.

Who would have thought I’d still be making the muffins I made forty years ago in Home Ec class?  And why wouldn’t I?  They’re blue ribbon winners!

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The Inspiration

I use Pinterest as a filing system.  I hope that’s why it was invented because it works really well.  The internet is filled with craft ideas, recipes, household tips and all sorts of other things I’m interested in.  When I see something I like I’ll “pin” it and pretty much forget it.  Until that one day when I decide to remind myself of all the things I pinned.  Then I get all inspired and eager to try something new, or sometimes even buy something new. I found some cute little chocolate/pretzel Easter treats on the internet a long time ago and pinned them.

When the Easter season rolled around I decided to try to make them.  After all, someone else did the hardest part of thinking of the idea.  I just had to execute the already brilliant idea.  The original recipe said to use yellow candy melts for the fill, edible black pearls for the eyes, and orange chocolate-covered sunflower seeds for the beak.  I used vanilla almond bark tinted with yellow food color for the fill and for the eyes and beak I used decorating gel.  I also didn’t look at the picture before I started painting on the eyes and beaks so I didn’t have the embellishments in the right position on the pretzel.   The results made me laugh out loud.


Quite sad.

Very serious.

As singular little chicks they didn’t look quite right and I just kept laughing and laughing.  My little chicks looked much better when they were in a group.  You could kind of tell a little better what they were supposed to be.

I took my little Easter chick treats to my mom and dad’s house for Easter.  They were received with great enthusiasm, even though I didn’t do it exactly like they were shown on the site I pinned because 1) I made a treat from scratch that beared a slight resemblance to an Easter icon and 2) everyone in my family loves chocolate and pretzels no matter what they look like.

I hope your Easter was a happy one and that your sugar coma is short-lived.

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The plan was to make some clam and pasta soup for dinner.  There was also a plan for snow and slippery roads.  I wondered what I could do instead of going to the store to buy some bread sticks or ciabatta rolls to go with the soup.  Make popovers, of course!

Lots of people think popovers are difficult and complicated.  Guess what?  There are only four ingredients and chances are better than good you have them all in your house right now.  Eggs, milk, flour and salt.  Who would guess these four ingredients would make such a delicious accompaniment to a winter evening soup?  The best thing about popovers is that everyone thinks they’re really fancy ~ only you’ll know they’re the easiest thing you could ever make from scratch.  I love them hot out of the oven with some a substantial amount of butter on them.

I make them in popover tins, but you can use custard cups or even muffin tins.

I use a basic recipe from Betty Crocker.  The recipe offered online is the same as it is in my cookbook, which is about thirty years old.  The classics last forever.


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Dive Night is a once monthly adventure undertaken by me and Husby, along with our friends Ruthie and Ray. Each couple alternates choosing a restaurant, one which must come under the category of “dive.” Our definition of dive: a neighborhood gathering spot with a laid-back atmosphere and good food. We’ll find the interesting hang-outs in the Minneapolis/St Paul area. Casual attire required. A sip of beer or wine doesn’t hurt either.

Some of you who are über old might remember this place as Al’s Place. It was established in 1949.

Others, who are not quite über old (like Husby and Ray) might remember it as Stasius. It was established in 1975.

It’s the really young people who have only known this place as Stanley’s Northeast Bar Room.

Don’t misunderstand.  It’s not only young people who frequent Stanley’s.  I was happily surprised to see people of all ages at this Northeast Minneapolis (“Nordeast” if you’re from around here) landmark.  It used to be a favorite stomping ground for Husby and he was excited to see what it had become.  Even the über old people are still coming to enjoy Stanley’s.  It was a great mix, and it was packed.  We had to wait about thirty minutes for a table.

I love to see these old buildings being renovated rather than torn down.  The inside of Stanley’s was right in line with the building’s integrity.

When ordering a drink, don’t ask what’s on tap.  The list is way too long.

The atmosphere was very friendly and it’s the kind of place I would make a habit of haunting every Friday night if I were younger and could stay up past 10:00 p.m.  Remember the days when 10:00 was when things just started to get rolling?  Ruthie’s age really came through when she needed the flashlight app on Husby’s phone to read the menu.

And on with the food…

Mini corn dog appetizer. These things were so dang good I could hardly stand it. The batter had a nice texture with the corn meal and was so crisp. Much better than any corn dog, appetizer or full-size, than I’ve ever had. Sorry Pronto Pup.

OMG. The second appetizer we got were these gigantic deep-fried mushrooms. Seriously, it took three bites to finish one off. They came with a delicious seasoned sour cream. So, so good.

Husby ordered the turkey burger topped with lettuce, tomato, and a cranberry chipotle chutney. He also got sweet potato fries with a chipotle mayo dip. Yum!

Ruthie got a grilled cheese (swiss, cheddar & gouda mix) topped with tomato and bacon on wheat bread. She also got the colossal onion rings with that.

I also got the grilled cheese topped with bacon but no tomato. Mine was on marble rye bread. I also got some really good french fries with seasoned sour cream.

I also got a cup of clam chowder because resistance of chowder is futile.

Ray had the reuben. He gets reubens a lot because he loves them so. This one was packed with a ton of meat and served on marble rye. He also got the french fries and seasoned sour cream.

We were all thrilled with our meals.  They were hot and served to us in a decent amount of time.  And speaking of service, Ruthie thought our server was flirting with Husby.  And why wouldn’t she?  Husby’s a hottie.

One negative thing about or evening at Stanley’s was the fact that we waited a really long time for our check to come.  Our server checked in on us to see how our food was, but after that we didn’t see her for a really long time.  We had to flag her down for our check.  It was a pretty busy night so we cut her a break, but it was worth noting here.

I’d definitely visit Stanley’s again.  It not only has good food, but the atmosphere had a definite effect on me.  Seems like the places we’ve been to recently were frequented by older people, where we fit right in of course.  But Stanley’s was a breath of fresh air with the energy of the younger generation mixed with really cool, more mature people.  Nordeast rocks!

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