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

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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

Christmas past….

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What the heck happened to January?  Although, with the craziness happening in my family & the weather issues we’ve had this month, it feels like it was three months long.  I once again fell off the blogging train, not being here since Thanksgiving, and am sorry for that.  As per usual, one of my goals this year is to post more often…we will see how that goes!  This post, is more about fun & memories, than food & recipes…but there is always food in our memories, so I guess it’s all of the above!

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After another crazy busy holiday basket season, we decided that we would take a surprise trip out East, to see my husbands side of the family for Christmas.  We only told one person, everyone else, we just surprised.  It was great, but in hindsight, we should have told a couple more people, just so we could have seen everyone and spent more time with others…

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We had plenty of “coffee talk” time…

Shrimpin'

And we were able to help prep for the big feast on Christmas Eve…we are “shrimpin” in the above pic…

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And that big feast…oh there was a little of everything….Shrimps done three ways, Baccala, Scallops & other fish dishes, Minaste, white spaghetti’s & spaghetti with sausages, appetizers & dips, a giant pan of ridiculously awesome potatoes that were perfect with the Prime Rib, which was in the other room…  Over thirty people, eating, drinking, having a perfect Christmas Eve!

We even brought a little snow out for everyone…beautiful isn’t it?

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(photo above courtesy of Visit Philadelphia)

There are certain requirements food-wise, for us when we visit our family out East.  Dunkin’ Donuts (but did you hear, they are coming to Minnesota!) & Wawa… but number one of the list; Cheesesteaks & Hoagies…from Ice House in Pottstown.  One year we went out East and did a little taste test between the two most famous Cheesesteak places in Philly, Pat’s & Geno’s.  We had a favorite between those two, but hands down, Ice House, is the place to go for a great Cheesesteaks & Hoagies.  Like em’ on Facebook here to see all the deliciousness that happens in their joint.

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Second food requirement on our list; Tomato Pie.  People, this is the stuff.  Served at room temperature, it’s not pizza, but a soft crust, topped with a tomato (paste almost consistency) sauce and Romano cheese…It’s addictive and so delicious.  The only place to get them is Corropolese (we went to the location in Douglassville).  They have them stacked up, ready to go, and they go.  We went in to get bread for the big feast and the lines were incredible!  I chatted with some of the other people in line and they come from counties around for the bread & Tomato pie.  It’s that good!

Veggie Pie

They make other versions too, and this time we tried a Sweet Pepper Pie as well.  It was really good, but my heart lies with Tomato Pie.  Now, if I could just figure out how to make it at home….

Wine for Dummies

There were so many other great memories that week, that this post would be twenty pages long if I went on about them all.  Of course we visited the local wine shop when we first got in…and this wine caught my eye.  Have you seen this anywhere?  I tell you what, just about anybody can make wine nowadays, can’t they….and no, I didn’t buy any.  🙂

This last day of January, is also the Chinese New Year, year of the Horse.  There are some pretty interesting predictions for the year…read them here if you are curious!

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I made these beautiful cookies last year for the Chinese New Year and kicked myself last night when I realized it was today…hmmm…maybe I have everything to make at least one of the recipes…

Are you watching the ‘big game‘ this weekend?  We are, but not really rooting for either team…but the kids want to eat like we are having a party, so we’ll try a few things like this recipe for Chicken Ranch Nachos, um yes!  And my son would love this Pizza Nachos recipe.  Or this recipe for Artichoke & Asiago Poppers …or maybe even these adorable individual Seven-Layer Dips….I love these kid friendly Mini Corn Dogs and my kids would love these Coconut Crunch Chicken Strips with creamy Honey-Mango dipping sauce.  The possibilities are ENDLESS!

What are you making?

Thanks for reading along, stay warm my Minnesota friends and have a great weekend!

Cheers, Shawn

Where have I been…?

Dad's 70th

Hello lovelies!

I am SO sorry I’ve been away…fallen off the blogging train…but I have really good reasons why, the biggest of which I can’t share with you yet!  It’s a big Career/Life change for me and I have to wait until the timing is right, to share/announce it to the world, so I hope you’ll hang in there on that!  And I know I promised you a summer filled with “sippers” and salads…and sadly, I had to put that on the back burner for now.  Hopefully I will get to share at least a couple more posts, with some of the salads & sippers I have enjoyed over the summer, so stay tuned and thank you for your understanding!

But aside from that, I have also been busy with family stuff…my Dad turned 70 last week and we had an intimate little gathering at his new house, not too far from where I live.  My family life is complicated (isn’t everyone’s?) and with that said, the nicest part of his celebration was having ALL five of his children (two of which flew in from Portland – all from three different marriages – ranging in age 7 up to 45…there’s the complicated part!) here to celebrate with him!  He said it was one of the best times of his life, so I know we did a good job!  My Dad is a pretty simple guy, he loves to eat (something we obviously have in common!) he loves to relax & listen to music, and when asked what he wanted for his birthday, his response was pajamas!

And a band…and a keg…and cake.

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(sorry about the bad picture quality…it was getting dark & I didn’t want to blind him with my flash!)

I found my Dad some fun pj’s, as he wished, with super heroes on them. I thought it was  appropriate for all he’s been going through lately.  And how fun is for him to feel like Superman when he’s 70?!?!  🙂  One of the best parts of the evening, besides the ridiculous (as in good) cake he made me make him…(it was a homemade chocolate cake-which you’ll never believe, I’ve never made before) was the entertainment my Dad hired himself. (see above) His name is Loren Wolfe and you have to consider him for your next event!  He does a lot of music from Willie Nelson & Johnny Cash, two of my Dads favorites.  We had a very small group, so he just set himself up on a bar stool and sang whatever we asked him to!  He changed into different costumes throughout the night as well!  It was a perfect thing for our small group and something my Dad will never forget!  Thank you Loren! ❤

The cake

Oh, and that first-time-ever-made cake…it also had homemade chocolate fudge frosting, you know, the kind you cook and it hardens after you’ve frosted the cake.  But he just didn’t want that particular frosting, it also had to be a minimum of an inch thick!  Let’s just say, the cake was amazing, but we all groaned afterwards from the sweetness of it all!  And, I think he’s put on five pounds in the past week just trying to finish it before it goes bad!  If you are interested in the cake recipe, you can find it here.  The frosting is a keeper and both of my kids favorite part.  You can find the frosting recipe here.

Daisy

Hiking

Declaration reading

Beyond the birthday boys celebration, we’ve tried to grab ahold of summer as tight as we can and enjoy every beautiful summer day, of which we’ve been blessed with many, this summer.  We’ve done tons of hiking, exploring the gorgeous Minnesota State Parks we are fortunate to live close to.  I’ve grilled & smoked as often as possible and have discovered a few new favorite dishes I hope to share soon.  (like Watermelon Pickles!) And I think I figured out what the heck I’ve been doing wrong with my fresh Ricotta cheese…sorry to those I’ve had to practice on.

Watermelon Pickles

Oh and a few cocktails have been had…can you say Watermelon & Malibu Black Mojitos? 🙂

Watermelon Mojitos Malibu Black Mojitos

We spent a fun day watching our local parade for the 4th of July, just before that, got to listen to a reading of the Declaration of Independence, and than after, grilling out with family and sneaking off the watch the fireworks in a favorite spot.  Things have started to cool off a bit, which I am kind of bummed about…there’s just something about the hot, hot heat…the kind that heats you to your core, that I love about summer.  Our garden has been kicking out kale, radishes, beets, yellow beans, and zucchini.  With this colder weather, I am worried about our tomatoes, peppers and so far, it looks like we’ll actually get Fennel & Corn this year!  I am not ready for jeans & sweatshirt weather, so get it together Mother Nature!

Garden

Okay, some other exciting news……

I’ve been approached lately, asking to volunteer on some really great events, most of which I’ve had to say no, for now.  With all that I am juggling, I just don’t think I can do the job right, so sadly, I’ve passed on some really fun things!  One of those, was to help judge the Uptown Art Fair’s Culinary Arts Competition again this year.  It’s happening right now, this weekend and if you’ve never been, GO!  Lot’s of my Fortify friends will be there, so be sure to stop and say hi to those lucky food bloggers, photographers & media peeps helping crown another champion this year!  You can read more about my adventure from last year here.  (oh & in case you are wondering, the picture is Chocolate-Beer Risotto…with grapes…yep.)

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One opportunity I just couldn’t pass up, was to work with the Minnesota Farm Bureau in helping to spread the word about some of the exciting things that will be happening at the Minnesota State Fair this year.  Briefly, there will be live author readings and everyday from 9:00am-9:00pm. They will have Minnesota farmers from across the state available to answer questions consumers may have regarding farm life and food topics. There will also be the Ag Cab Lab–which gives kids the opportunity to sit in a real combine and virtually drive the equipment!

Minnesota CARE

Be sure to “like” the Minnesota Farmers CARE Facebook Page and stay tuned here on my blog, for more information as we lead up to the “Great Minnesota Get-Together”!

Next post coming at you soon……until then, have a great weekend food-lovin’ friends!

Cheers, Shawn

Summer of Salads, let’s talk potato…

Happy Memorial Day 2013

Well hello there!

Okay, so this is post number ONE in our #summerofsalads posts and I really had a hard time allowing myself to start with potato salads!  I wanted to ease you in, start off by talking about the different kinds of greens available and then move on to dressings…but, Memorial Day is coming this weekend and when I think of Memorial Day eats, I think of BBQ & potato salads!  I’m saving coleslaw for the 4th of July 🙂

So, the objective of these posts this summer, is to inspire you with different takes on salads.  So, instead of your basic potato salad, made with mayo, mustard, eggs etc. I am giving you a few twists on that.  Don’t get me wrong, I do love me some traditional potato salad!  When I was a little girl, my Grandmother would make potato salad, putting HUGE pieces of raw onion in it.  (okay maybe they weren’t that big, but to a punk kid that didn’t like onions back then, they were!) I told her that once and she would make a little for me, without onions.  She also did that with chocolate chip cookies sans nuts, fudge the same.  That woman spoiled me for sure.

Anyway, back to this post!  Today I am making you Tarragon Potato Salad.  We pretty much just stumbled on this salad one day, looking for ways to use up our gigantic Tarragon plant in the garden.  We make pork chops quite often with Tarragon & mustard & garlic, so this salad is pretty much all that, minus the pig of course.

Tarragon Potato Salad, #summerofsalads

Tarragon Potato Salad:

potatoes (use whatever type you’d like & one potato for each person you are feeding-I used six small-medium sized russets)

Fresh Tarragon

Fresh Chives and/or onions

mayo (I used 1 cup)

Dijon & whole grain mustards (I used 1 T. of each)

apple cider vinegar (I used 2 tablespoons)

sugar, salt, pepper, a bit of garlic (to your taste…)

Begin by washing up your potatoes and then boiling them until fork tender.  Let cool & remove skins from potatoes.

Whole Grain Mustard

In a separate bowl, mix together your apple cider vinegar, sugar, mayo & Dijon mustard.  Taste to be sure you have a balance of sweet, sour etc.

Fresh ChivesFresh Tarragon

Chop up your fresh herbs.  It’s really important for this recipe that you use fresh Tarragon, so if you don’t have it, look in the produce section at the grocery store.  And if you live close to me, you are always welcome to some of mine!

Herbs mixed in...

Then mix in the herbs to your potato salad dressing and taste again.  Adjust seasonings as you prefer.  Then mix in your potatoes, carefully not to crush them in the process.  Put this in the fridge to chill out and let the flavors get all groovy together!  Enjoy with your favorite BBQ grub!

As I did a little research for this post, I came across the following unique “potato” salads I wanted to share with you!

Warm Bacon Potato Salad – via Steamy Kitchen.  Don’t know where I first saw this recipe, but when I got a look at the picture, I knew I HAD to make it!  You had me at Bacon…and warm…

Sweet Potato Salad  – via The Loveless Cafe.  I am SO glad I found this website!  OMG, wait till you see some of the other recipes they have!  Can you say Bacon Pralines?  Or Carrot Puddin’ or Chow Chow Deviled Eggs….check them out!

Sour Cream-Dill Potato Salad – via Cooking Light.  I’m not usually one for Cooking Light recipes (because this girl likes her fat!) but I do love me a sour cream & onion potato chip so I thought this sounded intriguing!  I haven’t made it yet, so if you do, let me know how you like it!

Grilled Southwestern Potato Salad – via Fine Cooking.  I love this salad because you grill all the veggies first and then make the salad.  It has corn, chiles, red onions, peppers, and some crisp bacon. Yes more bacon. YUM!

Potato Salad with fresh stir-ins –  via Recipe.com.  Now this idea is great!  It’s kinda like a potato salad bar, if you will.  Make your basic base potato salad (with or without mayo/mustard) and then set out different “stir-in” that your guests can add.  This post gives you some ideas but you could really go crazy with this idea!

Wishing you & yours a wonderful & relaxing Memorial Day weekend!

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s first #summersippers cocktail post & next week we’ll talk salad basics!

Cheers, Shawn

Where’s Waldo?

Where's Wally scene

A favorite book series to many, the story of Waldo (known to the rest of the world as “Wally”), lost in a sea of people & things.  Your challenge, is to find him.  Always dressed in a red & white striped shirt, with goofy glasses & hat.  Can you find him?

I’ve been feeling a bit like Waldo this past month.  This time of year always kicks my a**.  It’s the end of the school year and I am gearing up for a manageable summer with the kids & two jobs.  It’s a juggling act for three months, but, I am looking forward to spending more time with my kids.  Last summer, I was still working at the hotel so they were on their own for the better part of the day, four days a week.  It broke my heart everyday, leaving them.  I want to get them out this summer; to the park, museums, the beach etc. but know I have to balance that with work.  And this blog!  I am super excited to share my two summer blog series with you; “Summer of Salads” #summerofsalads & “Summer Sippers” #summersippers, hopefully both will begin this week!  Today, I just wanted to share some delicious & fun things I have squeezed in the past month or so.  Enjoy!

Tucci Benecch  Homemade Ricotta in the making!

Homemade Ricotta with Balsamic Syrup  Chef Donald & Chef J.D.

Oh my gosh, people, have you ever made your own Ricotta Cheese?  It’s ridiculous!!!!  Both in taste & ease!  (see top right pic) I’ve been seeing posts for the past year about homemade Ricotta cheese and kept telling myself to try it.  Then one night, after watching Chef Donald Gonzalez (shown bottom row, right, with JD Fratzke of the Strip Club in St. Paul) from Forepaugh’s Restaurant, (owned by the company my hubby works for, Taher Inc.) win the Minnesota Monthly Local Chef Challenge (and the $10k prize!), we decided to get dinner at our favorite MOA restaurant, Tucci Benucch.  We had this Ricotta cheese appetizer that was TO DIE FOR.  (see pic top left) It had lemon & fried Rosemary (um, yum!) and was served with these delicious little toast points.  Sadly, it was a seasonal appetizer, so don’t get mad at me when you go and they don’t have it.  But keep an eye out for it and be sure to go on a Sunday or Monday night, for  half-priced bottles of wine!  Yea!  And then go home and make your own Ricotta cheese!  Do you want me to post a recipe/how-to on it?  It’s super easy, but I certainly can, along with some great ideas of how to use your fresh Ricotta.  Tell me in the comments below!

Hummus!  Hummus Kawarma2

Speaking of my husbands employer, every year, they send the Taher Chef Council, (a group of chefs from within the company) on a trip somewhere in the world.  Yes, he’s very lucky, and no, I don’t get to go along.  This year was Jerusalem and he came back eager to make Hummus & this incredible dish shown on the right, Hummus Kawarma.  O M G…make it!!!  Find the recipe in the cookbook Jerusalem.  I checked out a copy at my local library but you can buy one here on Amazon.  Do you like to make your own Hummus?

Treats from Cat  Cat Cora cooking demo

And speaking of chefs, I was excited to meet Iron Chef Cat Cora at Byerly’s earlier this month.  (she was so tiny & awesome!) I joined my blogging lovelies, Kate from Kate in the Kitchen and Rachel and her very own adorable Cora, from The Realistic Housewife. Chef Cora did a cooking demo, highlighting her new product line called Cat Cora’s Kitchen.  Hey Byerly’s, where’s that recipe for her Olive Oil cake?  I did bring home some of her olive tapenade, in addition to her new cookbook and had that one day on my homemade Ricotta, obviously. (see picture above with Ricotta) YUM!  🙂

Stuffing for Pork Chops  Stuffed Pork Chops

I have been obsessing about Pine Nuts lately.  Yeah, why can’t it be with a less expensive nut…anyway, I’ve been bored with our typical Pork Chop preparations lately so one day, I decided to stuff them.  The recipe has herbs, cheese, zest, garlic, pine nuts & golden raisins in it, and was from Fine Cooking.  You can find the recipe here.  Have a good Pork Chop recipe?  Share it below!

Chai BellaVitano  Radisson Blu Social Media event  Turkey Tetrazzini

A few other random fun things…I finally found the Chai BellaVitano cheese from Sartori.  I LOVE Sartori cheeses, especially the BellaVitano line and this one was as good as the rest!  A new food blogger friend Chris,  who writes the blog, Wedge in the Round,  just returned from cheese-making with Sartori.  LUCKY!  Read about his adventure here.  My favorite Sartori cheese is a tie between the MontAmoré and the Espresso BellaVitano, but this Chai variety had such a great flavor of the spice blends in Chai.  Find it!  Try it!  Also shown above, some delicious nosh I enjoyed at the Radisson Blu Mall of America recently.  I was invited to attend a Social Media special event there and in addition to the delicious food & drinks.  Those little new potatoes were stuffed with creme fraiche and topped with caviar!  I was also given a great tour of this incredible new hotel.  The rooms are amazing & they even have a salt water pool!  I am staying there at the end of the month, for my first board retreat with MPI MN.  Can’t wait!  And last, I made Turkey (Mushroom) Tetrazzini.  Yep.  Never made it before.  Super easy, super delish!

Bacon Pancakes!

And last, I made Bacon Pancakes on Mother’s day.  With chocolate chips.  For myself.  Then later, the hubby made me Eggs Benedict for dinner.  It was all about breakfast that day!  YUM!  If you are a Mom, I hope you had a delicious day as well.  My kids made me the CUTEST things as well.  I have to share!

Dominic - Mother's Day 2013

This was from my son…please note that I am “Fabulous” and that he likes my hair because “it’s curly & fresh” OMG, I died!

Gabby - Mother's Day 2013

And my daughter made me a video, which I posted on my Vine account.  You can watch here.  Again, the cuteness!

Until next time,

Cheers!  Shawn

Restaurant review: Noodles & Company…Slow Braised, naturally raised Pork

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Here I go again, talking about my favorite animal…the pig!  Noodles & Company reached out to me, not long ago, asking if I would be interested in trying some of their new slow-braised, naturally raised Pork, their treat!  Well of course!  Because if you know me, you know I love me some piggy meat!

www.whoeatslikethis.com

I’ve only been to Noodles & Company one other time, and on that day, I actually didn’t order anything for myself, just for my kids.  So I was excited at the opportunity to try it myself.  I went there on a Saturday, for lunch, with three kids in tow.  The place was hopping & after tasting the delicious dishes you see here, I know why!

www.whoeatslikethis.com

Cucumber Tomato Salad…a friend said she always orders this when she goes to Noodles & Company and it definitely stood up to that recommendation!  Even though we are in Minnesota, in what seems to be a never-ending winter, the tomatoes were juicy and delicious.  I liked that the cucumbers were cut small and there was just enough red onion to make it a perfect addition.  This starter had some magically delicious seasoning on it that brought the whole dish together.  I might have to see if I can pry that out of someone…

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Another favorite of mine was the Potstickers (chicken dumplings) and these were a perfect starter.  Fried crispy on the outside and accompanied by a delicious dipping sauce.  You can order 3 or 6 in an order as well.

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Before I made my trip to Noodles & Company, I perused the menu online, as all good food-lovers do, right?  I spied Pad Thai on the menu & knew it would be on my list to try!  The person who took my order, recommended the shrimp with this, but I declined and after the fact, was wishing I would have taken his suggestion!  It was a tasty and light option, great for a quick lunch!  They have a great assortment of Asian dishes, so it will be hard to choose on my next visit.

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The last time we visited Noodles & Company, my daughter ordered the Spaghetti & Meatballs and guess what?  My normally adventuresome kid, ordered the same thing!  She remembered how much she liked it before…meaty & moist meatballs in a sauce full of flavor with just the right amount of spice.

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The youngest of our group, played it safe & went with the Wisconsin Mac & Cheese…cheddar & jack cheeses melted in cream & served over elbow macaroni.  Well played little one, well played!

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My son, the least adventuresome of my two, loves his Buttered Noodles at home, so naturally I let him choose that, as long as he added the Parmesan Chicken to it!  What’s great about Noodles & Company is that they encourage customization and you can add different types of protein to any dish, for example Shrimp, Tofu and of course the new slow-braised Pork!

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I saved the best for last!  Remember, the reason I came to Noodles & Company was to try the new Slow Braised Pork…so what better way to try it?  Barbecue Pork Mac….oh yeah!  First, they take their Wisconsin Mac & Cheese and add crispy fried onions, barbecue sauce & the Slow Braised Pork.  People.  Seriously.  This was ridiculously AWESOME!  And I am not just saying that, I wanted to eat more & more!

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I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the awesome soda dispersing machine they had at this Noodles & Company location.  It’s called the Coca-Cola Freestyle and offers (I have read, but didn’t actually verify…) 125 Coca-Cola drink products.  It’s basically a high-tech, touchscreen soda fountain!  My kids thought it was the coolest thing since sliced bread…okay maybe since the iPod…and apparently so did everyone else, as I had to wait in line, just to take a quick picture!

logoIn addition to the Barbecue Pork Mac, you can get the Peppery Pork Sandwich, which also features the slow-braised Pork.  Or as mentioned before, add the Pork to any of your favorite Noodles & Company dishes!

UPDATE:  I got a note from the nice people I am working with, on this review & I get to GIVEAWAY two vouchers for you to enjoy Noodles & Company!!  Just leave a comment below, or on my Facebook Page and I will randomly draw a winner tomorrow night!  (3-22-13)

They were also nice enough to share the following recipes with us, for you to try at home!

Thanks for “virtually” tagging along & I hope you’ll visit your neighborhood (find locations here) Noodles & Company soon to try the delicious slow-braised Pork!

Cheers ~ Shawn

Truffle Mac & Cheese ~ Recipe for the Home Chef
Serves 4 -6
Ingredients:
Cheese sauce:
  • 1 pint cream
  • 6 oz cheese (your choice)
  • 1 Tb. Butter
  • 1 Tb. flour
  • ½ tsp. Truffle oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Toppings:
  • 1 lb. Macaroni noodles, cooked and drained according to box directions
  • 16 oz.  Mushrooms (your choice) sautéed in 1 oz. butter until golden brown
  • 6 oz. Parmesan or Italian blend shredded cheese
  • 1 cup Toasted bread crumbs
Preparation:
  • Mix the butter and flour together in your hands and set aside.
  • Bring the cream to a low simmer in a thick bottomed pot.
  • Add the butter/ flour blend and stir with a whisk until smooth and slightly thickened (about 5 minutes)
  • Take the pot off the heat, add the cheese and truffle oil and whisk until smooth, season to taste.
  • Mix with macaroni noodles and top with mushrooms, cheese and breadcrumbs

Backyard Barbecue Chicken Salad ~ Recipe for the Home Chef

Serves 4 regular salads or 6-8 small sides

Ingredients:

12 oz. bag of mixed lettuce

8 oz. shredded mixed cabbage, red and green

¾ cup cole slaw dressing

4 chicken breasts, cooked, shredded, cooled

½  cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

¾ cup tomatoes, diced

¾ cup corn

1/8 cup red cabbage

 BBQ Chicken Preparation:

Bake 4 chicken breasts, completely cool and then shred into bite sized pieces.  In a bowl mix together the chicken and ½ cup BBQ sauce.

Assemble:

Mix the lettuce, cabbage (keeping 1/8 cup of red cabbage aside for garnish) and cole slaw dressing in a large bowl.

Place the BBQ chicken, corn and tomatoes on top of the mixed greens, forming the points of a triangle in the center of the salad.

Place the 1/8 cup of red cabbage in the center of the triangle to garnish, enjoy!

Disclaimer~

I was given two vouchers good for two noodle bowls and paid for the rest of my delicious meal on my own. The opinions here are my own and most of the information I didn’t get upon my visit, I found by searching the Noodles & Company website and their online menu & nutritional information.