Archive for February, 2009

A few weeks ago I signed up for an e-newsletter from Twin Cities.com that would be sent to me each week with a Slow Cooker recipe. I’ve received three recipes so far and not once has sounded appealing. The options have been Peanut Chicken Thighs, Brisket and Pork with Plums. I’m not sure why, but none of those really caught my eye.


But then, I was nosing around the web and I ran across this article on Epicurious.com about using slow cookers and I found a list of delicious recipes to try. Husband and I are preparing for a major change in our lives, and the slow cooker might just be a major help when it comes to dinner.Take a look at the options: Chicken Paprikash, a Chicken Stew and even Chocolate Chip Cookies! I think I know what our first dinner with the slow cooker will be….

Anyone have a favorite slow-cooker recipe to share?

PS: I got the weekly email blast this morning after I posted this last night. And guess what? This one sounds great. healthy, full of vegetables and great for a, um, snowy day.

Red Lentil and Vegetable Curry

Lentil Curry

This low-fat meatless main course is good with a side of yogurt and chutney. It’s also great over rice or wrapped in a tortilla and eaten burrito-style. The recipe can be cut in half, but since it freezes well, make the full recipe and freeze the leftovers.
-Kathie Jenkins, Food Editor

Makes 6 to 8 servings
  • 1 pound dried red lentils, picked over and rinsed
  • 1 onion, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 cups zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 4 cups water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Fresh cilantro, optional

To assemble: Place lentils, onion, celery, carrots, zucchini, coriander, cumin, garam masala and ginger into crockpot. Add water. Stir well. Press mixture down so most of it is covered by water.
To cook: Cover and cook on low heat for 8 hours or until lentils are tender.
To serve: Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with fresh cilantro. Serve with yogurt.

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Met a friend today for lunch at an old Favorite, Cafe Brenda. I have never been disappointed in their food, which is maybe why I often look for excuses to go back there. Today I ordered one of their specials, a Winter Vegetable PIe, Served with a salad with roasted beets, apples and a balsamic dressing. I should have taken a photo of the plate when I was done because it was totally empty. Not a grain of rice. Okay – maybe one or two. But it was so good. I believe it contained leeks, parsnips, squash and obviously some other good stuff. The crust was light and delicious without being rich. The rice was a nice addition to the savory filling.

This is one of those dishes that will haunt me. I wonder if I could get the recipe or try to find something that could come close. Any ideas, faithful readers?

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Jen and I tried to go to the new Thai place, Sen Yei Sen Lek, in NE Mpls on Saturday night after swinging by birdxbird, but there was a serious wait. And I had serious hunger. The tables were full, but the lobby wasn’t, and with the large number of tables in the place I really wondered if we would really wait that long. But we ditched, we’ll try it another time with a reservation, and made it across town to a real favorite, Pad Thai on Grand.

We were seated immediately, ordered quickly, and had spring rolls and vegetarian curry puffs on the table before our name would have even been called at the other place.

The spring rolls were light and airy and the curry puffs were full of real vegetables (like, I could make out the peas and carrots and stuff) with just a hint of curry and a sweet/sour dipping sauce.


Jen ordered her old standby, the Tom Yum Soup with Tofu and I went with a classic favorite, the Green Curry with Shrimp. Shortly after we sat down we were full of delicious thai food and very happy.

We were bummed that we didn’t get to try the new place, but thrilled that we have Pad Thai on Grand to go to when the desire strikes. I’ve never been disappointed with their food or the service. Yum.

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We made it over to the new Cheeky Monkey Deli in St. Paul this weekend for lunch and we were not disappointed. It’s located in the Zander Cafe’s old space, but has been totally redone with red walls, retro art and a great fireplace in the back. It’s a comfortable setting, where you order at the counter and they bring the sandwiches out to your table.


I ordered the Shrimp Roll, which turned out to be really amazing the second time around. The first one they brought out to me had nearly-raw shrimp pouring out of it. I’m an adventurous eater, but I’m not touching raw shrimp. So back it went and out came another with multiple apologies and a bowl of their homemade coleslaw to keep my busy while I waited. Husband had the Cubano sandwich and friends had the Cumin Pork sandwich and the Muffeletta. They all raved about their sandwiches.


And considering they smoke, etc their meat on site, they should be good. I mentioned that my shrimp roll was almost as good as Sea Salt’s Shrimp Po-boy and Husband said, “Careful, you’re treading on thin ice there.”. It was really good, different than Sea Salts because these shrimp were not breaded and deep-fried, but still. very close. I can’t skip a mention of the chips, which are called Salt and Pepper chips and were also homemade. They were tender, thin and really crisp. Yum.


Three of the four of us had also ordered chocolate dipped macaroons, which were nearly as good as those at the Salty Tart. Close, really close.\

Can I be picky now? The sandiwiches are served in adorable wire baskets. And while this looks cool and different I found it hard to eat out of. Given my shrimp roll was a bit messier than the other sandwiches, it would have been nice to have a plate so I could set it down between ooey, gooey bites.


We’ll go back. Not sure when, because it’s a little out of the way for us, but it’s in a great neighborhood. And they serve wine and beer. So, nice job Cheeky Monkey and best of luck with the new venture!

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Yes, another post about something sweet. It is the week after Valentine’s Day afterall, so what’s a girl to do. I promise next week I won’t tempt you with anything too sweet. Okay, maybe I will.

Anyway… the photo above is of just part of the most beautiful cake a few of the girls ordered for my shower last weekend from Wuollet’s Bakery. We have a monkey theme going on and I think they did an amzing job with the monkeys, the jungle and even the bananas. (Did you see the bananas?) So cute. It was hard to eat these little guys. Sort of.

Wuollet’s is an institution around these parts and I wish (or maybe I don’t) there was a location closer to my house. They’re known for their cakes, tortes and really all of their baked goods. I drive by the Edina location occasionally and steer my car away from their parking lot. That’s hard. Next time I’ll stop. I’m sure of it.

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Husband is not a big fan of sweets. Which is nice because it keeps them out of the house, and the few that do make it in are mine, all mine. Except for his Mother’s Sugar Cookies. She makes a batch every year for the holidays and I have to admit, they’re damn good. But I usually munch on the other goodies of the season and let him have most of them. This year for Valentine’s Day I finally screwed my head on a little tighter and requested the recipe from MIL so I could make a batch of cookies for Husband. And I’m so glad I did. These cookies are so easy. Just mix ’em up, roll ’em out and bake ’em. Ususally with sugar cookies or cookies you have to roll out, the dough needs to spend some time in the refrigerator. It can become stiff or forgotten. But not these. They pop straight out of the mixing bowl onto the counter and into the oven. I cheated and bought frosting because time was tight and I wanted to surprise him, but a simple cream cheese frosting would have taken just a few minutes longer. The recipe is below, Enjoy!

Quick Disclaimer: Mother-In-Law originally got this from a Better Crocker Cookbook. She wanted y’all to know.


1/2 cup shortening (part butter)
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
2-2/3 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 cup sour cream (I always use full-fat. I don’t know if low-fat would work or not)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Grease cookie sheets. Cream shortening, sugar, egg and vanilla ( I use my stand mixer). Blend dry ingredients and add to creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream. Roll 1/4″ thick on floured surface. Bake 8-10 minutes. Frost or sprinkle with sugar.

(This dough comes together well and it doesn’t seem to matter how many times you reroll it.)

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Chocolate Souffle


Sister sent me a photo of the Chocolate Souffle she and her Husband made on Valentine’s Day and I thought I’d post it, because it looks so good I can almost taste the warm, gooey, chocolate goodness that it’s made from. Isn’t it beautiful? This is one of those recipes I’ll make when the desire strikes, like tonight maybe?

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Happy Belated Valentine’s Day, everyone. For the past few years we’ve been staying home to make Lobster or Crab Legs, but this year we decided to go out. We chose the French restaurant, Meritage, in downtown St. Paul. We’ve been there before and I loved it, so we thought we’d try it again. Unfortunately, it wasn’t quite as amazing as last time. (I know you’ll be disapointed, but I did not take photos. I thought I’d have a meal without the flash and distraction of the camera.)

And that’s a bummer, because, like on Iron Chef, there would have been more points for plating than for taste. But I don’t want to sound harsh. The food was good, even above average, but overall it was all a little disappointing, especially the service. Anyway, we chose the tasting menu, so I’ll walk you through the courses.

First, a tease, Husband had the Oyster-Bloody-Mary Shooter and I had a taste of the Lobster Bisque. Both were pretty good. The first of the five courses was a crab, grapefruit and avocado salad. I thought this was the best course of the night, Husband thought there was too much Avocado. I loved that it was fresh and light and reminded me that Spring will one day come. The second course was a Scallop dish, and they chef was kind enough to substitute Cod because of my past history with Scallops. It was served with braised celery and a blood orange sauce and marcona almonds. It could have used more sauce, quite a bit more, but it was perfectly prepared.

The next course, a beef dish, was also beautifully plated and quite delicious. It included short ribs, a New York Strip, Pomme Dauphine, Carrots and Foie Gras sauce. Again, the dish needed more sauce, the short ribs were good, not great, but the New York Strip was tender and full of flavor and should have been twice the size.

All of the dishes to this point were really good, maybe just a little bland, but overall I was quite happy. And then we were forgotten. Next up was the cheese plate and while we munched on the chunks of cheese and two raspberries thrown together on the plates, we waited for Husbands accompanying wine to show up. It never did. Until we were done and our plates were cleared. At this point we’d already been there for two hours and I was fading fast. She brought us his wine and we requested our fifth and final course so we could get moving. The last course was a Marquise au Chocolate, which was a light slice of Chocolate Mouse, served with strawberries, pistachios and gold leaf. It was nice, not too dense, not too sweet, but again missed the kick that we were looking for.

Overall the food was good and beautiful. The service was slow and unpredictable. But the company was what mattered and I couldn’t have had more fun. Happy V-day, Babe!

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TwinCities.com posted this fabulous Interactive Guide to Local Chocolate. How delicious is that?

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Tracy’s Cheesy Potatoes

Anyone who knows my friend Tracy, knows about her famous cheesy potatoes. It seems like at every shower or gathering someone requests she make them. And once you try them, you’ll know why. They’re so, so, so, good. This is not one of those recipes we could consider light, but then again, did you think they were from the title? Here is her recipe, with a couple of notes. Someday I’ll try a lighter version, but I’m in no rush. These are so good they way they are I’d hate to ruin them

• 1 lb. hashbrown potatoes (I use frozen Ore Ida’s – if I have a bigger crowd, I’ve used as much as 1.5 lbs of hashbrowns without changing the other measurements of ingredients.)
• 1/2 c. chopped onion
• 1 can cream of chicken soup
• 1 c. milk
• 1 c. sour cream
• 2 c. grated cheddar cheese
• 1 tsp. salt
• 1/4 tsp. pepper

Mix all above ingredients together and put in 9×13 baking dish. Cover the top of potatoes with slightly crushed cornflakes. The recipe calls for 1/2 c. melted butter to pour on top of the cornflakes prior to baking. Sometimes I use the butter, sometimes less butter and sometimes not at all, depending on my mood. They taste equally as good without the butter, in my opinion. Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 50 minutes.
Thanks for sharing Tracy!!

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