Goulash, like the good ol’ days…

I grew up in a little river town, in southeastern Minnesota…at least for the years of my life I remember anyway.  I was born in Iowa and lived there until I was starting Junior High School…

This dish, has all the feels for me…I remember crowding around a little table, in the middle of a tiny kitchen that also served as the back entrance of the home, with my boyfriend (at the time-I think I was in 10th or 11th grade…), and his two other brothers, sometimes their girlfriends, and their ever-patient and wonderful Mom, who made this for all of us.  I remember eating so much of it, and the buttered white bread on the side, along with big glasses of cold milk, until I felt like my stomach was going to burst! Ahh…this was some good stuff!  When I stumbled across this recipe, on one of my favorite food-blogger’s YouTube channel, I thought, “no way, this can’t be the same recipe?!’ and lo and behold, it was! I literally could have eaten the WHOLE POT! 😂 I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did!

Makes enough for “at least” four BIG bowls…
Adapted from THIS recipe…

Olive oil-(just enough to sprinkle in the bottom of your pan)
1 large yellow onion, diced
1 & 1/2-2 pounds ground beef
4 cloves garlic minced
2 generous teaspoons kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2 teaspoon black pepper, plus more to taste
Cayenne pepper if you want…
2 teaspoons regular paprika
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 tablespoon Hungarian paprika (taste at this point, add more if you want)
2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs (blend of oregano, thyme, rosemary, sage, parley, basil)
1 or 2 bay leaves
1 quart chicken broth (or you can use plain water)
1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes (I used the fire-roasted kind!)
1 (24-ounce) jar prepared marinara (I used spaghetti sauce) sauce, rinsed with 1 cup water
2 tablespoons soy sauce (DON’T skip this!)
2 rounded cups elbow macaroni
1 packed cup shredded white cheddar cheese & freshly chopped Italian parsley, as a garnish

Preheat a stock pot on the stove to high…add olive oil and onions. Saute for a minute or two, getting it good and hot. Add in ground beef and using a wooden spoon or similar, chop up the meat as best you can. Continue cooking the meat until all of the liquid has evaporated and the meat is cooked thru. Add in the garlic and stir to cook. Then add in all your spices, including the salt & pepper, but waiting on the bay leaves. Cook until you really smell all those spices “blooming” in the pan. Then add in your broth or water…diced tomatoes and Marinara sauce. Then add the soy sauce…as Chef John says, don’t be tempted to use Worcestershire sauce…trust me on the soy sauce. Let this mixture bubble away on the stove on medium, for at least 20 minutes if you can.

Add in your macaroni noodles and stir frequently, (or they’ll stick to the bottom of the pan!) until the noodles have cooked and the sauce has thickened. Add in the fresh chopped Parsley and once in your serving bowls, top with shredded cheese & parsley, if desired.

Serve with a loaf of sliced white bread and REAL salted Butter! 😍

Enjoy friends! 💗

 

 

 

Open Arms of Minnesota – Harvest Pop-up Dinner…

Last night, my husband and I had the opportunity to attend the Harvest Pop-up Dinner, hosted by Open Arms of Minnesota, a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.  Each year, they “host intimate, multi-course feasts prepared by our talented chefs. For one night at a time, our beautiful facility in South Minneapolis transforms into an ephemeral communal dining experience, where you’ll savor an inventive meal and meet others passionate about great food.”  And a feast it truly was!

I didn’t know much about Open Arms prior to last night; my husband has done some consulting work with them, via his position within the Minneapolis Public School system. I quickly learned that they are doing incredible work in our community, and have been since 1986!  When I was a kid, I used to volunteer with my Grandmother, delivering Meals-on-Wheels to people in my community.  That work has left a life-long impression on me…something I have wanted to do again.  I am so excited about what Open Arms offers for volunteer opportunities and look forward to getting it on my calendar soon!

Okay, let’s talk about the food!

The volunteer Servers passed hors d’ oeuvre’s and this was truly my favorite thing of the night…stuffed Squash Blossoms with Poblano Crema! I literally could have eaten an entire plate of them!

Turnip & Cherve on Everything crackers (which I believe were made in-house!)

They also have a cocktail sponsor for each event and this year it’s Du Nord Craft Spirits. This delightful drink was called the “Wealthy Apple” and will definitely be on my Fall cocktail menu!

Thanksgiving tip…”garnish with drunken Cranberries”…yes please!

Once seated, we were served our Amuse-bouche, which was this velvety smooth, beautiful Carrot-Ginger soup, with Chive & Truffle Popcorn garnish. I have long been a fan of Carrot-Ginger soup, since we made it for our first course back when I was a member of the Hospitality Management Club at Normandale Community College and we hosted our first fundraising event.  That soup haunts me to this day…

Did I mention there were wine pairings throughout the meal?  This Chateau Graville-Lacoste Blanc was served just before our next course and was a wonderful Summer wine that paired beautifully with my Scallops!

Our first Entree was Scallops (look at that sear!) served on a Leek Purée (wish I knew how they made that!) and had just enough house-made Kimchi and pickled Radish to give it a nice little kick.  The Scallops were cooked perfectly, something difficult to do for a crowd! They melted in your mouth…bravo to the Chefs who served that course!

Look at this GORGEOUS bowl! This was our Intermezzo…Yogurt with a Beet swirl and Mint. It also had some little herb flowers and a few pops of Ground Cherries that added to the freshness of this dish.

Next wine pairing, G.D. Vajra Langhe Rosso which came just before our Second Entree.

The Chef described this Citrus & Maple Smoked Quail as “tiny Chickens” and tiny they are! I am usually one of the first ones to grab a Chicken leg when My husband bakes one up for us, and to hold that tiny Quail leg while attempting to eat the meat from it, was definitely an entertaining part of the night!

All good things must come to an end…and although my stomach was ready to be done, my mouth was not!  This Lemon Verbena Tres Leches Cake with fresh berries was paired with a Whispering Angel Rosé, and was a delicious end to a fantastic meal!

Not pictured, the beautiful bread selection at each table, and the fun “goodie” bags they sent us home with, that contained a jar of Dilly Beans! One of my favorite things to include in a Bloody Mary! Open Arms actually has five of their own farms (Open Farms), where they grow vegetables and herbs for their kitchen and offer a CSA program as well.  Learn more about all of that HERE.

Next month, September 27-28, 2019, Open Arms is hosting their annual Cook-a-Thon, where they will attempt to make 12,000 meals in 24 hours.  Teams of six will spend two hours cooking in the kitchen, preparing and packaging nutritious food for Open Arms of Minnesota’s clients living with life-threatening illnesses in the Twin Cities.

Every member of each team will be asked to raise at least $150 to support their work, resulting in at least $900 raised from each team to support nourishing meals for neighbors in need.

This event will put the Open Arms’ kitchen at least a week ahead of production before the end of the year and add significant capacity to their efforts to provide nutritious, delicious food to more than 1,000 people in the community, each week!  To learn more about how to apply to get these meals, go HERE.  I think this sounds SO fun…who wants to form a team with me?!

It was a wonderful event and I look forward to the opportunity of volunteering and attending another Pop-up dinner!  I hope you’ll take a minute to visit their website and consider donating time and/or financially to their amazing work!

Cheers, Shawn

Hazed & confused…but it was SO fun!

This past week, the hubby and I took in the Growler Magazine’s event in St. Paul, called Unlabeled: A Blind Tasting Beer Festival. This is a brand new kind of beer festival series, never before seen in Minnesota (or the U.S. for that matter!) which consisted of a blind tasting of 48 (plus one bonus beer they added at the last minute!) Hazy IPA’s from local breweries.

I had been looking forward to the event for weeks, studying up on Hazy IPA’s, what they were looking for when “judging” each beer and “virtually” getting to know the breweries that were participating and what possible beers would be there.  I was feeling nervous…I wanted to take it seriously, while having fun and trying NOT to get too inebriated at the same time. Let’s just say, we mostly accomplished all three! 😂🙌

We started off with two of the different “color” sample stations, and then decided to take a break and visit some of the education booths they had.

One of those, was the “smell vial” test you could take. 9 jars were filled with different things and you had to guess what you thought each one was.  My husband is a super taster/smeller and of course only got one wrong.  He claims it was a “green Mango” and that thru him off.  I don’t doubt for a minute he is wrong about that.

Next up was the Mighty Axe Hops booth. This is a local hop grower in the Foley, MN area, and had some samples of beer made with some of their hops.  Definitely something I want to learn more about, and this event (see above) might be one I have to check out.

 

After that, we continued sampling…collecting stickers for the beer fridge back home…tried to find some shade…started meeting some super fun people and just continued to enjoy the event!

   

49 beers to sample is ALOT.  And the last say, 12, well…we kinda powered thru those and by then, most of it was starting to blur together, in more ways than one!  It was fun to see the top picks for the night, including a new brewery close to where I live, called Uncommon Loon.  They were the #3 top pick of the night, just behind Omni Brewing and their delicious “FAD” and Fair State Brewing Cooperative’s “Mirror Universe” both in my top list of Hazy IPA go-to beers. And before the evening got too fuzzy, I managed to guess another one of my favorite breweries, Lupulin Brewing and their “Hooey”.  That was fun, considering I don’t have the palate of my husbands!

By the end of the night, we made the trek up the hill with a group of attendees, who appeared to have had as much fun as us, and one poor guy trying to get what was left of his keg, back to his car in the parking lot!  The hubby and I took turns helping him with it. We think maybe he was with 56 Brewing, but can’t remember at this point, lol!

 

And lucky for us, we thought ahead and rented a room at the Saint Paul Hotel, which oddly enough, after all the years working in hotels in the Twin Cities, I have never stayed there! We LOVED our room and would highly recommend you stay there, if given the opportunity in the future. Elegant, very clean & comfortable…it was a perfect way to end the night! Who knows, maybe we’ll book it again for the next Unlabeled event, coming this October! Buy your tickets here:  https://growlermag.com/unlabeled/

See you soon friends, cheers! 🍻

💗Shawn

Zucchini Coconut Bread~

One of my favorite times of the Summer is when the Zucchini harvest is in full effect…grilled, frittered, put into bread & brownies etc. etc. I love it!  I found this recipe at Two Peas and their Pod, just randomly one day, looking for coconut recipes.  The original recipe calls for AP and whole wheat flour, but I have always made it with straight AP flour. I also have used Vanilla whole milk yogurt and once used Coconut (full fat) Cream as well. Also, you’ll see Coconut Oil in the ingredient list; do yourself a favor and buy a jar.  I use it for many different things…homemade granola…sautéing beef & chicken & pork…tossing Sweet Potatoes in it before baking or putting on the grill.  But ya gotta like Coconut…of course!

Zucchini Coconut Bread

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1 & 1/2 cups shredded Zucchini (squeezed and drained into a few paper towels)

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1/4 cup Coconut Oil, melted

1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt (or see note above) at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon Vanilla extract

1 cup of sweetened coconut

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9 x 5 loaf pan (you could do mini loafs or muffins too!) and set it aside.  Note:  I use the coconut oil to grease my pan, but just make sure you use enough.

In a large bowl, whisk together all dry ingredients. Set aside. In a smaller bowl, combine Zucchini, sugars, coconut oil, yogurt, egg and vanilla extract. Then add your wet ingredients to your dry and mix well.  Once mixed, go ahead and add in your coconut.

Pour into your pan and bake for about 55 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let cool before removing from pan and cutting.  Enjoy plain, with a slather of butter, peanut butter and even topped with some yogurt!

Hope you enjoy, let me know if you make it!

😍 Shawn

Life is busy…

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It’s been just over a year since I last wrote here…that’s terrible!  2016 was a business & family focused year…and honestly, I’ve missed playing with my food!  😜 I didn’t spend much time trying new recipes either, but instead just kept plugging along with our usual favorites.  Sometimes that’s just the easiest route, you know?  This year however, I have decided we need to thin out the freezer storage, so I have been making inventory lists and planning out our meals in advance.  That can be somewhat tricky, because you have to make sure someone is checking that calendar BEFORE you head to the grocery store!  And you know, sometimes you just don’t feel like what you had planned for that night, so the plan gets ditched.  But the last time I looked at our deep freeze, I could actually see parts of the bottom, so we have definitely made some progress!

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One of the things I really want to start doing is cooking from the cookbooks crowding my shelves at home.  Last year I added too many to that collection, with great finds at the thrift store, etc.  Who can resist a bag of cookbooks for $3.00!?  So I may implement a day once or twice a month where we pick something from a cookbook and give it a try.  Then I can share it here with you! Win-win!

2017 dawned as the year I would FINALLY lose those 15 stupid pounds I have been dragging around with me since my babies were born.  I decided in December that I needed to stop convincing myself I “wasn’t a runner” and just give it a try.  We have a treadmill just collecting dust, like many of you I am sure!  So, I started slow…and am still taking it slow, but I am trying to at least run five days a week, for a minimum of 30 minutes each time. Now, don’t be thinking I am running that whole time…oh no, I am not there yet.  I walk a bit in between but try to run as long as I can go.  My goal is a 5K in April, so if I can at least get myself to be able to run that far without keeling over, I will feel successful!

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I have also stopped drinking alcohol. during the week and cut way back on my carb intake.  I thought both of those would be hard to do, but it’s been a lot easier than I thought it would be.  The cutting back on carbs is easy, because I have always enjoyed protein, so I just make sure I am getting enough of that and I don’t feel deprived. The no-vino part…well, it depends on the day.  lol!  So far I have lost about five pounds, so for a bit over a month, that’s pretty good.  And helps to keep me encouraged and motivated.  I can’t wait until I can run outside…treadmill running is so boring!!! And I really think I will be able to lose the final amount quickly at that point.

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Are you starting to make your menu for the “Big Game” this coming Sunday? I have come across a few things we might try this year.  We’ll have the usual Chicken Wings, because my son can’t live without those. And I am ALWAYS craving Chicken Nachos…so there’s that.  But I did come across this recipe collection and these Loaded Nacho Skins look pretty delish, right?!  And I shared these adorable Baby Blooming Onions on Facebook today…wouldn’t they be fun to make?!  I will have to run for like an hour that morning just to counter-balance the calories I am sure I will be ingesting! But a little splurge now and then is a-okay!  All good things in moderation! 😍

I promise to not stay away so long next time…until then, Cheers! ❤️

 

 

Oh these bars…Banana…Brown Butter…

Brown Butter Banana Bars

Well hello there friends and Happy New Year!  I can say that for another three days, right?!  Then we flip the calendar to February already!  Eek!

This past month has flown by…I’ve been trying to keep my New Year “intentions” going (I like that word better than resolution…doesn’t feel as stressful to me!), along with getting myself organized for another busy year in Real Estate and for once, starting my taxes early!  Crazy right?!

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One of my “intentions” for 2016, is to get out each month, to a restaurant in the Twin Cities that we haven’t been to.  This month we visited Ox Cart Ale House in Lowertown St. Paul, and it was great!  We started with a few appetizers, Crab & Artichoke Dip, Chicken Wings (that’s about as brave as I can get my son to be with food) and the above Smoked Pork Rillettes…it came with tiny & super crisp crostini, pickled veggies (that’s carrots & golden beets…sorry for the weird lighting) and this amazing Beer Mustard! Oh my ❤️

Then each of us had a sandwich of sorts…my non-adventuresome kid had the Bacon Cheeseburger, my daughter tried her first ever Coney Dog (I think they used smoked hot dogs which made it SO much better!) I had the Fried Chicken sandwich and my husband tried the house-made Chicken, Roasted Garlic & Apple Sausage with Caramelized Onions & fresh Herbs.  Everything was SO good!  My sandwich came on a “Milk Bun” which for obvious reasons, made it sound so much better and it was!  We had a sneaking suspicion that they come from a local bakery legend, Danny Klecko at Saint Agnes Baking Co. and we were right!  I am going to get my hands on some again soon!

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I have been itching to get back on here, if only to share a quick recipe with you.  I hope that 2016 will allow more time for this blog, because I really enjoy it.  But, my day… (night, weekend etc.) job in real estate comes first.  Mama’s got to put the bread on the table!  Speaking of which…you have to try this recipe!  It’s like super moist banana bread, topped with a sweet but unique frosting!  If you are like me, you’ll need to put the pan under lock & key, otherwise I will eat the whole pan myself! 😍

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I found the recipe here=> Banana Bread Bars with Brown Butter Frosting  and pretty much followed it to a tee.  I stockpile my overripe bananas all year, and this is one of my favorite things to do with it!  Not that you need to improve on this recipe, but it would be fun to add peanut butter chips or even espresso chips to the bars.  And of course you can always add the walnuts, but I am not a big fan of those.Brown Butter

Browning butter is one of my favorite things to do…it makes cookies, sauces, mashed potatoes & these bars SO much more delicious! Take a stick of butter, place into sauté pan, turn heat to medium high and melt…the butter will then start to boil, (turn the heat down a tiny bit if you feel it’s too high)…whisk continuously until you see the butter begin to foam up and start to turn brown.  Keep a very close eye on it at this stage, because it can burn quickly!  I usually cool mine down a bit for use in cookies and such.

Me & Gabby

Not sure if I’ve shared this yet, but my oldest is considering a career in the Culinary Arts!  We are super excited and over the holidays, got her a few beginner cookbooks and hope to start cooking together on the weekends.  I thought it would be fun to blog when we do that, so stay tuned for some fun posts there.

Thanks for following along, wishing you a great end, to the first month of 2016! 😎

Cheers,

~Shawn

Are you considering a move soon?  I would love to help you!  Visit http://www.shawnaugustine.com for more info!

Making Tamales & memories…

November 2015

Greetings fellow foodie friends!

It’s mid-November here in Minnesota and we’ve yet to really see any Winter, which is just fine by me! But, my body-clock knows it’s almost here, because I am craving soups, macaroni & cheese, any pasta dish for that matter and bread and cheese. Oof! I’ve decided that instead of being all proud of myself for knowing how to whip up a creamy béchamel sauce, that it’s actually a curse to know. At any given moment, there are at least five different types of cheese in my refrigerator and freezer, just hanging out, waiting patiently, to get all melty and gooey in a pan of hot pasta. I can have a pan of the creamy devil ready in about 10 minutes…

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The real estate market is going to end 2015 on a positive note, across the country really. Here in Minnesota, many people must have took the month of September off, because we had quite a dip in activity over that time period. A couple of my sellers have chosen to take their homes off the market until next Spring, hoping to do some nice updates to their homes over the Winter. If this past Spring is any indication of what this coming one will be, it’s going to be BUSY! And I am taking advantage of this quiet time to get myself ready for that!

Gabs & Dom

These two… ❤ This fall I had one kid start Junior High and the other started Senior High. They have both been doing really well, even with having to be out the door by 7:15am everyday! Although I despise getting out of bed that early, I do manage to have a very productive day, starting that early!  Both are taking Culinary classes this year, so there is alot of talk about Food around our house!

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One of the things I try to do with my kids, is create food-memories.  I love to make things most people wouldn’t even attempt.  And hope someday, they’ll look back and appreciate that.  A couple months ago, my daughter had a friend come over and we made Tamales together. I have always wanted to try to make them and they turned out surprisingly well! You can actually take a class locally, at El Burrito Mercado, Tamalada, that teaches you how and then you get to leave with a bunch.  Both classes for 2015 sold out already, but they have plans for bigger classes in 2016.  And you can always just buy Tamales (and LOTS more) in their Deli!  Find out more HERE.  We took a field trip there that day, for lunch & inspiration and some last minute ingredients for our recipe.

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We made two different kinds of Tamales that day; Chicken & Cheese. The Cheese ones had Havarti cheese & pickled Jalapeños in them…have you ever had those before?! I am not much for super spicy foods, but I love these and find myself putting them on burgers, sandwiches etc. all the time!

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I think if I do them again, I will steam them flat, instead of standing on the ends like you see in the picture. Doing them that way, was okay, but some of the filling started to fall out of the corn husks as the batter expanded.

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We used a Rotisserie Chicken, which made the process go alot quicker!  Costco now even sells pulled Rotisserie Chicken for you!  Can it get much easier than that?!  There are a million recipes out there on how to make Tamales.  I found a great one, and a video showing me exactly how online.  Click HERE for the video, and HERE for a link to the recipe.  I did use Lard, and wish I would have used a better broth, so don’t skip that part either.

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To go with the Tamales, I made a Tomatillo Salsa, or as she called, Green Salsa.  The girls hadn’t ever touched a Tomatillo before, so the sticky parts inside of the husk was a surprise to them!  You’ll see that salsa and those jalapeño pickles find their way onto a burger shortly after that 🙂

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My family and I are anxiously awaiting our annual trip to the North Shore for Thanksgiving…I will share some pictures while there on my Instagram feed, but mostly hope to really unplug and cuddle and eat and spend time with my sweet family.  We are still narrowing down our menu, and I’ve been relying on my Pinterest Board-Get your Gobble On, for ideas!  Looking forward to fireside chats…brisk hikes…eating…drinking wine…I can’t wait!!! ❤

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And if you are a Minnesotan and haven’t ever been up to Duluth for the annual Bentleyville Tour of  Lights event, get it on your calendar for this year!  It runs from November 21st-December 27th and you can find out more info HERE.

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Wishing you all, a warm, relaxing & delicious Thanksgiving with family & friends!

Cheers! ~Shawn