Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Raw Kale Salad with Tomato & Avocado

After eating out for like five days straight, I felt like Monday was a day for a light, healthy dinner.  Before going to work, I looked in my crisper and saw the big bunch of beautiful kale that I bought on Sunday at the Farmers' Market.  Kale is such a tough green that I wasn't sure I could make it into something that wasn't sauteed greens or more delicious kale chips.  BUT I remembered that my new cookbook Clean Start has a recipe for raw kale salad and decided to give it a whirl. 

While it's certainly fine to eat a super crunchy salad, but I wanted to try out Clean Start's tip to delicious kale salad: massage.  Yes, you read that right, you have to massage the kale in order to make a tender salad.  Ah the things we do for our food.  But it totally worked!  This massage technique left me with a delightfully crispy kale salad.  Plus, the salad was still crunchy and perfect the next day for lunch!  The ingredients in this salad are completely up to you, but I would not skimp on the ginger.  It added an extra burst of freshness that was hard to beat!  This recipe is adapted from the Clean Start cookbook and will make two very large salad portions

One big bunch of kale
1 1/2 tbls extra virgin olive oil
1/2 avocado, peeled and chopped
1 heirloom tomato, chopped
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
2 tbls roasted sunflower seeds
Juice from half of a lemon
Juice from half a lime
Sea salt

Wash and dry the kale thoroughly.  Remove the stems from the kale leaves and rip or chop into bite-sized pieces.  Put the kale into a large bowl and add in the olive oil.  Massage the oil into the kale leaves until they are fully coated.  Add in a pinch of salt and avocado.  Massage the kale leaves again until they are fully coated.  Work the avocado in there!  Set aside to marinate for 15 minutes.

Add in your lemon/lime juice, chopped tomato, grated ginger, and sunflower seeds.  Toss and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Eat and enjoy! know what would have been great in this salad?  goat cheese......... 

mmm farmers' market tomatoes made this salad extra tasty!
Adjust the salad fixings to fit your refrigerator contents, your farmers' market, and your taste.  But don't forget the kale massage and the ginger!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Restaurant Review :: Anodyne Coffeehouse

Is it just me or has August been insanely busy this year?  My goodness!  I can especially tell now that I'm blogging because my most recent posts have all been about restaurants and not about new dishes I'm cooking.  That's not to say that I haven't been cooking...I just haven't made anything new.  I have revisited a few of my old favorites -- fried rice, quinoa with sundried tomatoes, salad with my fave dressing -- but I went to the market today with some new recipes in mind and hopefully I'll have some delicious snacks ready for you guys this week!

But in the meantime, I met two good friends today for brunch at Anodyne Coffeehouse in the Kingfield neighborhood of South Minneapolis.  I'd never heard of Anodyne before, but my friend gave it a good review and the online menu looked very promising.

First, it's completely adorable.  There are a few sunny seats outside, but most of the tables inside are made for two.  If you are a group of three (like we were), you have to snag some of the amazingly comfortable couches and chairs and cozy up next to a coffee table.  I love eating out but feeling like you're eating in.  Anodyne also has a long table in the middle of the coffee house for people who want to plug in their computers and surf the interwebs.  Genius!  And the menu was written in chalk, natch, featuring some tasty-sounding options.

Since I'd already had a donut at the Farmers' Market (oops) and a piece of zucchini bread at my parents' house (double oops), I opted for the oh-so-healthy sounding Anodyne Oatmeal.  I vaguely recalled reading the differences between that and the "ordinary oatmeal", but there were no descriptions on the chalkboard menu to double check.  Instead of asking, I just went for it.  And a pot of tea, please.

Mmmmm....these oats were thick and chewy, filled with delicious additions.  I tasted chunks of sweet pear, bits of tart cranberry, and the crunch of pecans all mingled together in the mouthfuls of warm, hearty oats.  But these aren't just ordinary oats -- they are fortified with super healthy wild rice!  Topped with a bit of brown sugar and a quick pour of soy milk and it was oatmeal perfection. 

Good atmosphere, good food, and wonderful friends all made for a great Sunday morning brunch!  I'm glad Anodyne is now on my's the perfect little place to stop in when you need a fabulous bite to eat. 

Anodyne At 43rd Reviews in Minneapolis

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Restaurant Review :: Broders' Pasta Bar

I still remember the first time I went to Broders' Pasta Bar in South Minneapolis.  I was blown away by the intimate atmosphere, the friendly service, and the pasta dishes featuring homemade pasta.  Ever since then, it's been my favorite go-to pasta place in the Twin Cities.  I've had New Year's Eve dinner at Broders, given Broders gift certificates as Christmas presents, and eaten there whenever I have the chance! 

Last week I met my friend Rachel at Marathon Sports, my favorite running store located conveniently across the street from Broders.  I needed to stock up on some new running shoes and find some gear for the upcoming Ragnar Relay.  Afterwards, we were both starving and decided that carb loading at Broders two days before Ragnar was probably the best idea ever. 

The weather was amazing outside, so we contemplated eating on the beautiful patio.  But they were offering a different menu for the patio, a selection of Italian small plates, and we were really in the mood for a satisfying pasta dinner.  So sadly, we couldn't eat on the patio.  That's the only negative thing I've ever said about Broders!  The bread basket was a delish starter, and we dipped our pieces of bread in olive oil and pepper.  (Full disclosure: Rach and I went through almost half of a bottle of that olive oil!)

Mmm, a mix of foccacia, flatbread, and Italian bread.  For my main course, I opted for the rosemary pasta with tomato and cream.  I wasn't really sure what to expect!  Then my pasta plate arrived and I began to swoon.  The rosemary permeated the entire dish with its sharp, woodsy flavor perfectly.  The sauce was creamy, light, and pink!  It had all the loveliness of a cream sauce combined with the sweet bite of a tomato sauce.  Perfection!  Plus, I probably don't even have to tell you how delish the pasta was.  Perfectly cooked, lightly seasoned, and amazing.  The pasta just melted in my mouth.  I intended on saving half of the dish to have for lunch the next day, but somehow it just disappeared off my plate......!

In addition to the pasta bar, they also have a deli across the street that has pizza, sandwiches, and other yummy on-the-go food.  Both are right on 50th and Penn, super close to Lake Harriet.  I know there are a lot of pasta places in the Twin Cities, and some of them get a lot of hype in the press.  But I assure you that Broders is one of the best. 

Broders' Southside Pasta Bar Reviews in Minneapolis

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Restaurant Review :: Swede Hollow Cafe

Friday was Leigh's last day as my coworker (SAD!), so we went out for a pre-work breakfast to celebrate our tenure together as clerks and her new adventure as a solo practitioner.  I'd heard wonderful things about Swede Hollow Cafe in the Dayton's Bluff neighborhood of St. Paul, but had yet to check it out, so this was the perfect opportunity!

Swede Hollow Cafe looks like a typical cafe: walls adorned with local art, tables jammed cozily into a small space, regulars coming in for their cup of coffee, and a morning menu featuringpastries and other tasty treats.  That morning was relatively nice, so the doors and windows were open, creating a wonderful morning atmosphere.

Plus, they have a completely AMAZING patio that would be the perfect setting for enjoying a morning meal.  But I bet that fountain would have lured me into some kind of anti-working stupor, and I would have stayed there all day long!  Not that I wouldn't have enjoyed it....!

But the menu is anything but typical.  I weighed my options (pastry or quiche....or both....) and decided to get the vegetarian quiche special for the day, which had cauliflower, tomatoes, mushrooms, spinach, and feta cheese, topped with a bit of rosemary. 

Oh my stars.  This quiche was an absolutely stunning success.  I am very particular about my morning egg dishes -- I don't like the eggs to be too soft or undercooked, otherwise it just ends up too egg-y.  Swede Hollow did not disappoint me.  The eggs were creamy and light, but not undercooked.  Instead of the eggs being the catalyst for the creamy texture, they had to have used something else to achieve that amazing consistency.  Like cream, or the cheese, or magic.  I really should have asked them for their secret.  I was worried that the feta would be overpowering and punch me in the face with its flavor, but again, magic.  There was just a slight hint of feta cheese in the background.  The veggies were cooked to perfection, adding some texture and flavor to the magical eggs.  And the crust was perfectly flaky.  Overall, an epic win. 

And you can't forget about the giant mugs of hot coffee!

So if you are looking for a new breakfast spot in St. Paul with a charming atmosphere and amazing quiche, check out Swede Hollow Cafe on East 7th Street.  And Leigh had rave reviews for her breakfast sandwich: eggs, bacon, tomato, and spinach on a fluffy croissant, complete with melty cheese! 

I'm sure the rest of the breakfast eats are just as wonderful.  And I will be going back.  Soon.  I have to try the pastries and the three-cheese sandwich on the lunch menu.  It's for the blog, after all :)

Swede Hollow Cafe Reviews in St Paul

Monday, August 15, 2011

Potato Salad with Dill and Relish

This Friday I am running the Great River Ragnar Relay with my team, Rock Flag & Eagle.  If you haven't heard of the Great River Ragnar, it's a 196-ish mile relay race that lasts about 26 hours and runs from Winona to Minneapolis.  You run on teams of 12 divided into two vans of 6, and while it sounds hellish and slightly disgusting, well, it is.  But it's also so much fun!!!  This is my second year as a captain for Rock Flag & Eagle, and we had our pre-race team BBQ on Sunday evening.  I tasked myself with bringing a salad of sorts, and so I turned to an awesome recipe for potato salad that I found two years ago from a work friend.

This potato salad is delightful.  The recipe is simple and flavors are a bit fresher and brighter than your traditional potato salad.  Plus, using green onions instead of white or red avoids that rogue crunchy texture that, at least to me, is so off putting about traditional potato salad.  But if you prefer that crunch, add in 1-2 finely chopped celery stalks and you're all set!  This potato salad is perfect for a BBQ or potluck, and it will serve 8-10 people in side-style portions.  Have leftovers?  Save 'em....this dish eats just fine the next day with a fresh sprinkling of salt and pepper and a dash of fresh dill!

3 lbs Yukon gold potatoes, washed and diced into 1-inch cubes
4 scallions, sliced thin
3 tbls freshly chopped dill
2/3 cup mayo
1/3 cup sweet pickle relish
2 tsp white wine vinegar
Salt & pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with water and add about a tablespoon or so of salt.  Add in your potatoes and turn on the stove, heating the potatoes until the water boils.  Allow the water to boil until the potatoes are tender, about 3-5 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and put them into a large bowl to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together the mayo, relish, vinegar, and salt and pepper (maybe a teaspoon of each to start...add more if you like).  Set aside.  Once the potatoes are cooled, mix in the scallions and dill.  Pour the dressing over the potatoes and gently mix to coat.  Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.  Serve chilled. 

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls

My good friend Lauren from college is moving this summer to start graduate school in Boston.  So obviously, we couldn't let her go without throwing a little shindig in her honor!  I wanted to bring a yummy snack for the party, and I first made a spinach dip from the Joy of Cooking cookbook.  After a ton of reworking, I decided that the recipe was a total disaster.  Ugh.  Don't make it!!

Lauren loves chocolate and peanut butter, so my next attempt was Chocolate Peanut Butter Balls from this awesome cookbook that, coincidentally, I bought in Boston!  It's called Clean Start by Terry Walters, and it's awesome.  Kind of like these tasty morsels.  Wow were these insanely easy to make and insanely easy to eat!!  I looooved them, and so did my friends!  (They also said they liked the dip, but I think they were just being nice because that dip tasted like pure evil.)  If you're looking for a Reeses-type snack that's a bit healthier, look no further!

1 cup natural peanut butter
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/2 cup crispy rice cereal
12 oz chocolate chips or chocolate squares (semisweet or dark chocolate)

In a food processor, combine the peanut butter and maple syrup.  Once combined, gently stir in the rice cereal.  Form the mixture into penny-sized balls and put on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.  If the mixture isn't sticking together, add some more rice cereal. 

In a small saucepan, melt the chocolate over low heat.  Once melted, turn off the heat.  Put the peanut butter balls three at a time into the melted chocolate.  Turn lightly with a small spoon to coat with chocolate.  Remove with the spoon and place back onto the parchment. 

Once finished, put the pan into the refrigerator to cool for about an hour.  YUM.