My sister lives a few hours away in Iowa – it’s the most boring drive, ever. The majority of the “scenery” is nothing but cornfields. There is one little area of the highway where you can spot a buffalo farm, though…you know it’s a boring drive when you start holding out hope for a possible buffalo sighting…
Other than my end destination, the best part of this trip is that it gives you plenty of thinking time and, of course, I usually spend this time thinking of new foods I want to try out and different Twin Cities spots I need to visit. As you can imagine, I wind up getting a little bit hungry on the way! I was so lucky last time I visited – by the time I arrived at her house, Annie had made a saucy, delicious pot of one of my very favorite dishes – Green Curry.
It was so fantastic, I stole her recipe and recreated it here at home for dinner last night – I think you’ll like it!
One of the great things about a curry is that it works perfectly as a vegetarian or vegan dish if meat isn’t your thing – the curry paste is both vegan-approved and gluten free. I make Annie’s recipe with chicken, but you can leave out the protien for a dish that’s just as yummy and filling! For mine last night, I really copped out and just bought some fresh, pre-cut stir fry vegetables from the grocery. The bag had everything I needed – snow peas, carrots, some cabbage, broccoli – and cut down my preparation time at least in half, after a long day at work.
Another awesome aspect of making curry is that it’s basically a one-pot meal. Other than cooking the rice in a different pot or rice cooker, everything else pretty much just gets cooked together. Less dishes to wash is never a bad thing!
We held back just a little bit on the green curry sauce so that it wouldn’t get too spicy for The Redhead and she loved it! As I mentioned in the veggie fries post, she’s not too excited about eating veggetables, but she ate the chicken, sauce and rice with a smile and she at least gave a carrot or two a try. The fresh basil in the curry tastes amazing and the dish is so warm, flavorful and fragrant – one of my all-time standard favs (it also makes awesome leftovers!) This post is really making me want to take an adventure to some local Asian Markets in the cities…hmmmm….future post, perhaps?! Give this dish a try and let me know what you think!
Here’s the Recipe!
4 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Cups Jasmine Rice
1 White Onion, diced
4 Cloves of Garlic, minced
1/2 Tablespoon fresh, minced Ginger
2-4 Tablespoons of Thai Green Curry Paste, to taste
1 Cup fresh Broccoli florets
½ Cup Carrots, sliced
½ Cup fresh Snow Peas
2 Stems (with leaves) of Fresh Basil; additional Fresh Basil leaves
2 Cans High-Quality Coconut Milk
2 Chicken Breasts, cubed (if desired)
Salt, to taste
- Cook Jasmine Rice, as directed on package (can stir into 2 ½ cups boiling water, cover and simmer for 20 minutes until firm, but cooked)
- Heat olive oil in large, deep skillet and sauté onion and garlic until golden brown
- Add green curry paste and ginger and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly (this will really bring out the flavor in the curry paste)
- Pour in both cans of coconut milk and whisk until curry paste is incorporated (the coconut milk will probably have separated into a thin, clear liquid and thick white solid – this is normal, just whisk a little harder J )
- Add vegetables, stems of basil and meat and allow to cook at a medium temperature until veggies and chicken are thoroughly cooked and sauce has reduced and thickened
- Salt and/or add more curry paste, to taste
- To serve, remove the stems of basil and discard, then ladel sauce over rice, adding fresh basil leaves
- For an added bonus, serve with wedges of lime – it’s great squeezed right in the curry!
JJ’s Coffee Company & Wine Bar
Eden Prairie, MN
I’m going to be in huge trouble when I get home!!!
I told my husband that I would just be making a short trip out for my weekly Coffee Shop Sunday segment and then run a couple of errands and instead, I’ve been relaxing in this comfortable booth, enjoying baked goods and delicious coffee for a little over two hours now!
But I swear it’s not my fault! I blame JJ’s Coffee Company & Wine Bar for having the most inviting, comfortable seating and friendliest staff in the Twin Cities. The oversized leather chairs gathered around the fireplace give you no choice but to get comfortable and stay a while…I’m pretty sure this place is equipped with some sort of time warp – and I love it!
JJ’s moved into Eden Prairie in August of last year and is locally owned by a husband and wife team whose passion for their business shows in the lovely details of their shop, and who keep it local by choosing to serve coffee made from specialty beans roasted right here in Minnesota.
I am delighted to say that this Coffee Shop Sunday features a two-in-one bonus: a coffee shop and wine bar in one! I can’t live without good coffee and I adore good wine every bit as much, so this is an exciting find for me…I have to say that I kept to the coffee for this visit, but am going to have to make up for my absence today by scheduling a date night with the husband soon!
With JJ’s modern and upscale yet relaxed look, I can completely imagine it easily transforming from the sunny, casual coffee shop atmosphere that I’m experiencing this afternoon to a perfect evening spot for sampling wine and appetizers while having good conversation with friends either at the bar or in one of the intimately lit, recessed booths.
Here’s my spread: Cafe MJ and a warm Cinnamon Scone
First, let’s talk coffee – JJ’s coffee is something to come back for, all by itself. My Cafe MJ is a perfectly indulgent combination of espresso, blend of chocolates and cream with a homemade whipped cream topping. It’s a good thing that JJ’s has a drive-through – I may find the need to stop by for another one of these tomorrow on my way to work!
I’m here too late for breakfast, but JJ’s serves scones, cookies, bars and muffins – the cinnamon scone and chocolate banana muffin came highly recommended – as well as made to order sandwiches. This cinnamon scone, drizzled with vanilla icing is warm and absolutely delish. It makes me want to plan on making a morning visit to try one of their hot breakfast items.
Alright – I hate to, but I’ve got to force myself out of this booth and to the grocery store to finish my errands, but I’ll be back soon for coffee or wine or live music – I hope you’ll join me and make the time to try out JJ’s Coffee Company & Wine Bar!
The warm breeze, late evening sunsets and children’s laughter as they play outside – these are some of my favorite things about Summertime. Summer inspires me to take extra moments in my day to just soak in my environment – to enjoy simple, easy living and the freedom that comes from not having to plan ahead to bundle up to go outside or scrape snow off the car before driving like in the certain chilly months to come.
When I think of easy, simply delicious summer food, fruit is the first thing that comes to mind: perfectly ripe, seasonal, juicy, lovely fruit. I made this dish last night and it was so delightful, I absolutely could not wait to share it with you!
I fell in love with this dish right from the start for two reasons: it incorporates healthy and local ingredients for a fantastic alternative to sugary desserts and, maybe even more importantly, it indulges my love for the produce section! It’s a little ridiculous how much I enjoy the process of picking out good produce, but in this age of pre-packaged, pre-made everything, using your all of your senses to choose exactly the fruit or vegetable that you want feels so down-to-earth to me.
Plums are one of those stone fruits that I typically accidentally overlook – it’s not flashy, it’s not exotic, but it IS delicious…and it’s sweet, tart flavor and really comes out when it’s slowly baked in the oven. This recipe does call for a little bit of sugar sprinkled on the tops of the plum halves before baking, but the sugar could be left out completely and the dish would taste every bit as good….on the other hand, you could go the other way and caramelize the tops of the plum halves with sugar and a torch/broiler after they bake for a crunchy, sugar coating!
Every summer, I stock up on home-grown, Minnesota honey from the Minneapolis Farmer’s Market – Marquette Honey Farms is my favorite honey vendor. I can’t get enough, so I was excited to pull it out for this dessert!
A dollop of tangy Greek Yogurt and some roasted hazelnuts and you have one simply delightful, flavorful summer dessert!
Here’s the Recipe:
6 dark plums, halved and pitted
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup 2 percent Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons hazelnuts, toasted in the oven at 375°F for 7 minutes, chopped
2 teaspoons honey
Heat oven to 375°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place plums cut side up on sheet, brush with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Bake until soft and some juices run off, about 15 minutes. Divide among 4 bowls, top each with 2 tablespoons yogurt, sprinkle with nuts and drizzle with honey.
Being a mom, wife and employee, the more hectic and busy life becomes, the more I deeply appreciate the simplest pleasures in life – those lovely moments when something very satisfying comes without too much effort.
This post is going to be a simple one, celebrating one of my greatest food pleasures – garlic herb bread.
Now, I am an equal-opportunity garlic bread eater – I won’t say no to any available version including the frozen kind that come six to a box, but this is my very favorite recipe for a simple, delicious and fresh loaf.
All I do is chop up a handful each of fresh parsley and basil, mince four or five cloves of garlic and stir them into six tablespoons of butter.
I love to buy the fresh French loaves from the Byerly’s just down the street from me – I half it and spread the herb butter on each piece. It can be baked in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees, or wrapped in tin foil and warmed slowly at 200 degrees for about 30 minutes.
The herbed garlic butter and crusty, warm bread smell amazing and, I have to warn you, are very addictive!
As the summer draws to a close in the next few weeks, I hope you take a few moments out of the hectic hustle and bustle, take a breath and allow yourself to savor your simple pleasures!
Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe
Do you have plans for lunch next weekend? Cancel ’em. A favorite place to get dessert? Get ready to reconsider. Plans to cook? Put down the apron.
You need to try Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe – a place that’s much more than the strip mall coffee shop it appears to be!
One reason that I was on the edge of my seat to visit Patrick’s was its charming back story: Patrick Bernet – from French culinary child-wonder to prestigious award winner to military man, he’s acquired an impressive resume’ of positions as Chef and Instructor throughout the world and finally wound up in the Twin Cities (thank you, fate!) as Pastry Chef at the Hotel Sofitel where he decided to open his own bakery and cafe.
Just walking into Patrick’s, the bakery case that runs the entire length of the wall showcases Chef Bernet’s emphasis on beautiful, pastry perfection. Each tray of sweets, cakes, breads and pastry reflect an incredible attention to detail and food perfectionism.
There were so many different amazing looking options, I ended up pointing at and asking about a lot of different items…the woman behind the counter was extremely helpful and offered her recommendation: Sarah Cake. Get ready for this – it looks amazing!
Here’s my spread: Sarah Cake and Iced Vanilla Latte’ (waaaay to hot today for hot coffee!)
First of all, the latte’ was great – really delicious and refreshing! I wanted so badly to take it out and enjoy it in the outdoor seating area beautifully decorated with ivy and lights, but it was so hot I was worried that my cake would melt!
I so thoroughly enjoyed this cake – dark chocolate ganache and candied nuts covering a chocolate mousse, chocolate and vanilla sponge cake, all topped off by a mini pistachio macaroon and beautiful artisan white chocolate garnish.
I honestly exclaimed out loud when I discovered the pistachio mousse surprise in the center!
I really can’t say enough about this cake – it was beautiful, smooth, rich and light, all at the same time. I am going to see it in my dreams.
There were a couple of things that I didn’t care for at Patrick’s: food was served on green trays which reminded me of standing in line at the school cafeteria and there were a couple of small things placed around the cafe that stood out to me as not jiving with the warm, rich ambiance that Patrick’s tries to create, like a large digital sign showing the room capacity. The atmosphere is distinctly charming, though, and obviously personal to its owners which far outweighs these little details.
My next goal is to visit Patrick’s for lunch or dinner – the menu mixes the familiar with French classics: Croque Monsieur on their sandwich menu and Escargot and Duck a l’orange beside Grilled Salmon on the list of entrée’s. I’m also hugely tempted by Chef Bernet’s speciatly burger menu – the “Exclusive Patou™ line Hamburgers” (you’ll want to read it’s story – heartwarming!)…
…luckily, Patrick’s Bakery & Cafe is right here in the Twin Cities – I can feel like I’m visiting France without the 15 hour flight!
Ever since I discovered pâte à chou, I’ve been on the lookout for recipes that showcase my new-found skill, and I think I’ve hit on a winner…a tasty, easy-to-make yet impressive-to-look-at winner!
When I say easy to make, I mean seriously easy – I made these Gruyère and Black Pepper Gougères in 15 minutes yesterday morning while simultaneously straightening my apartment up before friends came over and making sure The Redhead didn’t use her new set of markers to “decorate” the living room walls! They also use one of my favorite cheeses – a slightly smoky gruyère that is deliciously melty and warm inside the crunchy, toasty crust with a little ground black pepper kick.
These are light and bake into hollow puffs which can be eaten warm, right out of the oven along with a meal or even filled with a crab or chicken salad, if you want to serve it as a more substantial hors d’œuvres – I’d love them with wine and fruit!
Here’s the Recipe!
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup water
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/3 cups (4 ounces) gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Sift flour into a small bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring the water, butter and salt to a boil, stirring until the butter melts. Add the flour all at once and stir vigorously until the flour is incorporated and the dough pulls away from the sides of the pan in a ball. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly for approximately four minutes. The dough will continue to pull away from the pan in a large clump.
Scrape the dough into the large bowl of an electric mixer and beat on medium speed until the dough forms large clumps, about one minute. Beat in one egg at a time until each egg is blended smoothly into the dough, about one minute for each.
On low speed, beat in the cheese and the black pepper.
Use a round, one tablespoon ice cream or cookie scoop or two tablespoons (one to scoop dough and the other to scrape dough onto the baking sheet) and spoon mounds of dough about one inch apart onto baking sheets.
Bake one sheet at a time until the gougères are lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Cool five to ten minutes and serve warm.
Gougères can be stored in an air-tight container for up to two days and briefly warmed in the oven before serving.
(Recipe Credit: Real Food by Lunds and Byerly’s, Summer 2010)