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Posts Tagged ‘food’

Kitchen Adventures

Who doesn’t love a good kitchen adventure?  Whenever I enter the kitchen I always expect the unexpected.  That’s not to say I’m a bad cook, but with Husby being such a good cook I “let” him spend more time in the kitchen than I do.  Because of that I get a little out of practice.

My latest adventures started with making Milano cookies, from scratch.  OK, so they’re not actually Milano cookies, but same diff.  I thought it would be fun to try something new.  They were putzy, but well worth it.

First you make the dough tubes.

Bake dough tubes until they turn into oval cookies.

Top one cookie with chocolate and top with another cookie and you’ve got so much cookie goodness you won’t believe it.  The putzy part comes with the baking time – 15 minutes per pan times about 5 pans.  When it comes to cookies that’s too long, because who wants to wait to eat a cookie?  It was so worth it though.  They were much more substantial than the store-bought kind, and Husby said he liked them better!  I did too.

For Easter I thought I’d make some homemade buttermint candies.  I made them once before, but forgot how 5 1/4 cups of powdered sugar can make the kitchen covered with sweet dust.

I thought the pictures could capture how utterly dusty things got, but compared to what I saw in real life these pictures are pretty tame.  However, the end results were great.  These little pillows of sweetness are set out to dry for at least 8 hours before serving or storing.  Another long wait!

Last, but not least, an important PSA for those who prepare food with hands versus utensils.  Secure your jewels, or this might happen when you’re mixing your meatloaf with your bare hands.

Luckily I noticed it before the mixing was complete.  Diamonds and gold aren’t great for the digestion.

Time spent in the kitchen is never wasted time.  Despite the time (anxiously awaiting the finished product), mess, and occasional jewelry mishap I’d have to say making food is something everyone should know how to do.  Adventures happen everywhere, even in the kitchen.  Enjoy!

 

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Sweet Baby Weenies*

Oh what a wonderful Christmas I had.  I hope everyone else did too.  Even though the initial flurry of Christmas is over, I like to bask in the glow of the Christmas tree until the Epiphany (the 12th day of Christmas) and reflect on the wonderful cheer that was spread in my little world.

One of the traditions in my family is that every household hosts “Christmas Cheer.”  These little gatherings are an opportunity for everyone in the family to get together to celebrate the season and to see how each household has decorated for the holiday season.  This year there was a newcomer to the mix.  My nephew Paenney has recently moved out of his parents’ house and into one of his own.  What a lovely surprise to get an invitation to his house for some holiday cheer!  He requested a heavy appetizer from the guests in attendance.  Pot luck is always a hit.

I brought some mini reuben appetizers, my mom made queso, my dad made a salami torte, Charlotte made pickle dogs and Mexican roll-ups.

Mexican roll-ups, salami torte, crackers, and pickle dogs. Yum!

 

Queso and chips, mini reubens with rye bread, and the coup de grace…

It was a wonderful variety of food, but the coup de grace was Paenney’s appetizer…

Sweet Baby Weenies.

Sweet, sweet baby weenies.

What could be better than mini hotdogs smothered in a sweet barbecue sauce?  Nothing fancy, everything delicious.  Paenney prepared a whole crockpot full of these delicacies and luckily had enough left over to feed himself for lunch at work the next day.

I salute Paenney for taking on a Christmas Cheer gathering for his family so soon after getting his own residence.  I also salute Paenney’s roommate for putting up with the likes of us for an afternoon.  Paenney also decorated his house to welcome Santa with a tree and plenty of other wonderful decorations throughout the house.

It’s hard to believe my little nephew is on his own, but I’m delighted to see he holds onto the traditions of our family, hosting a Christmas Cheer, and serving his guests the ever popular Sweet Baby Weenies.

Thanks Paenney!

*This is what Paenney calls this delectable treat.  He loves them nearly more than life itself.

It’s not too late to serve the Sweet Baby Weenies – New Year’s Eve will be upon us soon.  Weenies are the perfect way to ring in the New Year!

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OK, I’m pretty sure you guys know what’s coming up in this post.  This time of year I’m very predictable.

IT’S MINNESOTA STATE FAIR TIME!

I know it’s not everyone’s bag, but I can’t understand why not.  For crying out loud, people come from other states just to visit our state fair.  Why?  Because it’s the best state fair in our state.

Today is the first day of the Minnesota State Fair and for the first time in a long time I’m going to attend on the first day, with my friend MaryAnn.  The first thing on my list of things to do is eating a deep fried Twinkie, if indeed they still have deep fried Twinkies, what with the whole Twinkie-going-south thing.  MaryAnn is looking forward to some deep fried pickles.  Deep fried.  It doesn’t matter what kind of food it is, as long as it’s deep fried, and maybe even on a stick.

Deep Fried Twinkies (on a stick) are to die for. I’m not even kidding about this.

So, after MaryAnn and I are done working our tedious day jobs we’re going to meet up at the fair and see the sights, eat the food, and talk some girl talk.

If you live in Minnesota, or even Iowa, Wisconsin, North Dakota, South Dakota, heck, Alaska even, come and see the Minnesota State Fair.  It starts today and continues through Labor Day.  Oh what a time it is!

The Mighty Midway

For the next twelve days you might hear from me about things other than the fair, but know that my heart is at the fair.  Always.

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Bedtime Snack

There is nothing more cozy at the end of the day than the bedtime snack.  The perfect bedtime snack may be different for different people, and it’s possible that a person could be happy with any bedtime snack as long as it’s food, but the perfect bedtime snack for me has to fit certain qualifications.

1. It must be sweet. Salt before bed could cause annoying thirst after I’m in bed which might wake me from my slumber.
2. It must not make noise when I eat it. Bedtime is quiet time, the snack must be quiet too.
3. It’s best served with a good book.

Sweet dreams.

A slice of red velvet and a glass of milk.

 

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MaryAnn’s Pickles

There’s something about someone else’s cooking. Or handiwork. Or home decorating. It doesn’t really matter what it is, if someone else can do something well and you can’t do it at all you appreciate that thing so much more.

Husby made a delicious meat-thing* dinner, and what goes better with hamburger than pickles? And what better pickles are there than MaryAnn’s? She knows how to make pickles and I totally don’t, which makes me appreciate hers that much more. When I take a bite out of these crunchy wonders I know MaryAnn is the most talented cucumber pickling artist since Mr. Gedney.

Look at that savory clove of garlic at the bottom of the jar.  Yum!!!

I could probably learn how to make pickles, but why should I with MaryAnn around? Whenever she offers me a jar of these dilly delights I welcome them with open arms and a watering mouth.  As far as I’m concerned she’s the Pickle Queen and always will be.

Thanks, MaryAnn – keep ’em coming!

* Meat-Thing = a bachelor term used by Husby and Pinky (Husby’s former roommate and my now brother-in-law) for seasoned hamburger spread on a piece of bread, broiled in the oven; served open-faced.

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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.

If you live in St. Paul, MN or any of the surrounding areas you’ve probably heard of Mickey’s Diner.  The original is right downtown.  There’s another Mickey’s over there on West 7th away from the bustle of the city but with the same character.*  It’s called Mickey’s Diner (By Willy).  I’m not sure who Willy is.

Mickey’s is the epitome of the word “diner.”

When we arrived there was hardly anyone in the place.  One other couple, to be exact.  The staff consisted of a cook and a bus person.  The building is old and not exactly spotless, but not dirty enough to make me scared of eating there.

Classic Coca-Cola light fixtures.

I love diners with a counter like this. This is pretty much the extent of Mickey’s. The counter on one side of the aisle and small booths on the other. Quite cozy.

Mickey’s even has a bakery case. I didn’t try any of the bakery items, but they looked pretty good. Especially the muffins. I have a thing for muffins.

I thought it was pretty ironic that Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives was on the TV.

We laughed when we saw the Side Orders on the menu.  Whole pieces of meat.  As a side!  I guess it makes sense if you’re getting eggs and you want a steak with them, doesn’t it?  It seemed pretty funny to us though.  Funny ha-ah, not funny peculiar.  Well, I guess it was peculiar too, at least compared to the other places we’ve been.

Four- and eight-ounce steaks as a side.  Or how about a pork chop?

Finally, after consulting with Sam the cook we decided what we wanted.  We started out with an order of onion rings, just because we’re accustomed to getting an appetizer when we’re out for Dive Night.  The rings?  Okay.  I’m not an onion ring connoisseur, but I thought they were pretty average.

This plate of rings was shared by four of us and there were some left when we were done with our meal. Not outstanding by any means, or else we would have been fighting over the last ones.

We ordered our food and Sam the cook got to work.  I like it when you can see the cook making your food.  That’s called “transparency” in the business world.  I feel much better knowing the cook didn’t spit in my food on the off-chance he took a disliking for me.  Of course Sam was of such superior character he would never spit in the food no matter what his personal feelings.

Sam.

Ray had the most unusual meal of the bunch.  It was called One-Eye Jack and was composed of ham, cheese, and egg on toasted bread.  There was a hole cut in the bread/egg, which is what makes the “one eye.”  He got a side of hash browns with that and they looked really good.

Husby had a patty melt with a side of beans.  He said the sandwich was “fine,” but the beans were not great.  They were overdone, cooked and heated up in the microwave.

Husby’s patty melt. It looks pretty good to me – that bread is grilled to perfection.

Tomato-saucy baked beans. I don’t like baked beans anyway, so these look kind of disgusting to me. Husby didn’t like them much.

Ruthie had the Classic.  A cheeseburger with hash browns and some Mulligan stew.  I had the same thing only I got french fries with my hamburger.  The fries were pretty good.  The hamburger was too little for the bun and the cheese was pretty lame.  The menu listed three types of cheese so I asked Sam if I could have Swiss cheese.  He said they have “white” cheese.  He said, “Swiss cheese is white, but our white cheese isn’t Swiss cheese.  We only have the white cheese.”  Whatever.  It was laid lopsided on my burger so only half of it was topped with “white” cheese.

Ruthie’s Classic.  It looks like her cheese is more centered on the burger than mine was.  Those hash browns again ~ boy they look good.

The Mulligan stew was something else too.  Something not so good.  It was luke warm and the potatoes were raw and hard.  I couldn’t eat it.

Um, no.

Overall the food at Mickey’s was pretty bad.  Edible, but nothing I’d go back for.  However, there is something I would go back for.  The malt.  Oh my, what a glorious, thick, whipped cream covered malt.

My chocolate malt. The only thing that would have made this better is if it were served in an old-fashioned soda glass.

By the time we were finished with our meal there were some more people in the diner.  They all sat at the counter and no one spoke.  It was kind of creepy.  But Sam the cook was a delight even though the food he served was mediocre at best.  Seriously though, it’s totally worth a trip for the malts (shakes too).  They come in chocolate, vanilla and strawberry.  Yum!

Sam the cook.

* This review is not intended to reflect the food, service, or atmosphere of the original Mickey’s Diner in downtown St. Paul.

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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.

Because of all this busy-ness of summertime we haven’t been able to schedule a Dive Night in quite a while.  But, at long last, Ruthie and Ray, Husby and I were able to find an open evening and celebrate the dive once more.

Ruthie and Ray took us down to the St. Croix River, to a little town called Marine on St. Croix.  It’s an artsy community with really cool houses and a cute little main street.  On that main street stands Brookside Bar and Grill.

The Brookside has four distinct areas to drink and dine.  The bar…

…a dining area behind the bar…

Photo bomb by our waitress and another guy behind her.

…another dining area behind the first dining area…

…and the back yard/patio…

I’m not sure why no one was out on the back patio.  The bar wasn’t even set up.  Maybe they only serve out there when they have live music, which I assumed they have because there was a stage back there too.  There was also a little barnyard scene with a not-life-sized pig and cow.

Of course the Brookside gets its name from being located beside a brook.  Actually, the brook runs right under the restauarant.

There was a cool piece of art on the wall right where we were sitting in the bar.  It’s a little miniature version of the town of Marine on St. Croix.

And there you have the ambiance; moving onto the actual dining experience.

When we first arrived around 7:00 p.m. there weren’t too many people eating or sitting at the bar, yet it took at least ten minutes for someone to acknowledge that we had sat down.  Someone, not a wait person but associated with the restaurant, came up to us when she saw we didn’t have any drinks and offered us a glass of water.  Once our waitress did show up, about three minutes after the first person, our service was wonderful.

Our appetizers were pretty good. We got the bruschetta, which kind of scared me at first because it looked like there was nothing but tomatoes on it. I don’t care for tomatoes that much. But the tasty treat was something I’d definitely get again. We also got the pizza fries, which is basically a pizza crust with some delicious seasonings and cheese cut in strips, served with marinara sauce. Yum.

Ruthie had the build-your-own burger. I don’t know if I can remember everything she had on it, but I do remember gorgonzola cheese, grilled onion, and avocado. She also ordered onion rings, which she described as “doughy.” However, Ray disagreed when he sampled one. Ruthie was happy with her meal.

Ray had the Hunters’ Extreme burger. It’s a half-pound burger stuffed with cheese, bacon, and caramelized onions. This photo doesn’t do justice to the fries – they were the skinniest fries I’ve ever seen! Ray was happy with his meal too.

Husby had the turkey avocado sandwich with hash browns. He was disappointed that “avocado” actually meant guacamole. It was good, he said, but he would have liked a slice of avocado and thought that’s what he would get when he ordered.  He ate three-quarters of his potatoes but didn’t finish because they were a little too greasy. Despite his specific complaints he enjoyed the meal and experience as a whole.

There are some more of those skinny fries. They were delicious with my Brookside Halfer. You are not going to believe this – the halfer is made with equal parts of fresh ground chuck and fresh ground…BACON. How absolutely ingenious is that?! I topped my burger with some provolone cheese.

The Brookside serves burgers, obviously, pizza, a couple of dinner items, and a nice variety of sandwiches.  They also have a kids’ menu.

Having dinner and drinks in Marine on St. Croix at the Brookside Bar & Grill turned out to be a great summertime retreat.  When it comes to their hours of operation, I think they’re kind of flexible.

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