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Monday, July 30, 2012

Cheddar Soup & Greens


Who doesn't love cheese? I cannot imagine a world without this amazing stuff. From the rubbery Kraft singles I adored as a kid to a 10 year aged cheddar... it's bliss. Tonight I created a soup somewhere between a broccoli cheddar and a traditional potato soup. I paired my soup with a light green salad with diced avocado. 


Cheesy Cheddar Soup
(serves 4-6)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 tbsp butter
1 1/2 cup chopped onion
1 tsp each of: dried basil, thyme, garlic, onion and paprika
3 tbsp flour
2 cups diced red potato
1 cup diced carrots
2 cups milk
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup water
2 cups broccoli 
2 cups sharp shredded cheddar cheese
Green onions for garnish


In large saute pan, add olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and seasoning to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender, then melt in butter. Sprinkle with flour; cook stirring onion mixture constantly with a whisk until combined. Add potato, carrots, milk, broth, and water to pan; bring to a boil. Add broccoli, then cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Add cheddar cheese and cook until cheese melts, stirring frequently. Garnish with green onions. 

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Butcher and the Boar

Our Table 

Pickle Plate 

Shrimp Cocktail 

Long Rib 

Fried Green Tomatoes 

Sausage platter 

Lobster Grilled Cheese 

Mussels 

Stuffed Jalapenos 
Berry Shortcake 



For my 25th birthday on Tuesday, I went out to eat at the Butcher and the Boar, a new downtown Minneapolis hot spot on 1121 Hennepin. For weeks now everyone has been raving about this place so of course it was first on my list of birthday dinner spots. The restaurant is run by Jack Riebel, formerly of the Dakota Jazz Club. The concept for Butcher and the Boar includes regional american cuisine, great beer and better bourbon! The restaurant is fairly large with a "beer garden" outside where the atmosphere is notably more casual where they feature hot dogs and beer, an outdoor service patio, two bars, a large open kitchen and the inside dining room. The decor is dark and masculine with copper penny flooring, tree stump cocktail tables, dim lighting and rustic wood chairs and tables. Their menu is designed for a shared dining experience where the table orders as a group. You'd be hard pressed to find your traditional three course meal at this place. The menu is divided into greens, snacks, waters, butcher, meat, prime, sausage and sides. I like the menu style, the appearance is simple yet stylish and invites the opportunity for multiple meal options, unless your a vegetarian ;). The restaurant smokes their own meat in the basement, making their meat, sausage and butcher features the obvious highlight. As you can see for my photos, we had quite the feast. Everything we ordered was tasty and hearty, from the creamy lobster grilled cheese, to the crispy and salty fried green tomatoes. To make it easier, I'll give you a list of items we tried along with a rating, for your future dining  guide!

*=  tasted awful, will never order again
**= it was ok, filled the tummy 
***= delicious, exceeded expectations
****= could have as my last meal! 

Pickle Plate: *** (delish aperitif)
Shrimp Cocktail: ** (nothing too unique)
Long Rib: **** (tender, loved the tabasco-molasses BBQ)
Fried Green Tomatoes: *** (crispy and delicious)
Sausage Platter: *** (fun to try three different types)
Mussels: ** (I've had much better- broth fairly simple)
Lobster Grilled Cheese: *** (ummm think about it!)
Stuffed Jalapenos: ** (unique- filled with peanut sauce) 
Berry Shortcake: ** (biscuit was dry- dessert clearly not the 
                               specialty)










Thursday, July 19, 2012

Apricot Pork & Coconut Corn Trio Lettuce Wraps

For dinner last night, I made lettuce wraps using corn and apricot pork. My initial idea was to make tacos al pastor, a popular Mexican pork dish made with pineapple and chile. I used apricot nectar as a pork marinade instead of pineapple juice which added a sweet, full bodied flavor. In addition to pork, I sauteed three types of corn, hominy, corn and roasted corn with cilantro, red onion and coconut milk. 


Coconut Corn Trio
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 can white hominy 
1 can sweet corn
1 bag frozen roasted corn
1 large red onion, diced
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
1 tbsp minced garlic  
1/2 tbsp cumin
Pinch salt and pepper 
3/4 can light coconut milk 


Heat a large skillet over high heat, adding olive oil. Add hominy and cook 2 minutes until lightly charred, then add corn, onion, cilantro, garlic and spices. Saute together over medium heat for 1 minute. Add coconut milk and saute until mixture begins to boil, reduce to a simmer until thickened. Plate with pork in lettuce wraps garnished with cilantro and basil. 


Apricot Pork Marinade
1/2 cup apricot nectar
1 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 cup coke
1/4 cup cider vinegar 
1 tbsp minced fresh garlic
1/2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp brown sugar
Diced pork shoulder


Mix marinade together and saute in small sauce pan until thickened. Cool down and pour over pork in ziplock bag. Refrigerate overnight. 










Monday, July 16, 2012

Dinner...Campground Style!




This past weekend, my husband and I set out to conquer the wilderness. Having both been camping as children, we remembered the great outdoors with glee and excitement for campfires, samores and ghost stories. What we failed to remember was all the work involved, crazed and depraved bugs, heat and sheer discomfort of sleeping on rocks and dirt!
Even our dog Jimmy (pictured) was out of his comfort zone covered with burrs and ticks pining for his sweet blood. After a long day of canoeing down the St. Croix river, we set out on the 1.5 mile trek to our campsite entitled, "dry creek hallow" in the Wild River State Park near Taylor's Falls, MN. We finally reach our campsite around 6 pm hot, tired and covered with mosquito bites despite the nearly full bottle of bug spray we coated ourselves with! For dinner, I brought along fresh green beans and zucchini and delicious chicken tamales. We hoped to light a fire and eat right away, but nature had a different course for us. All of the branches and twigs were slightly damp from the previous nights rain, which made our (fire starting) dinner delay one more hour (which felt like years). As my husband was diligently setting up the rest of our camp, I was desperately trying to nibble frozen bites of chicken from the tamales while simultaneously picking ticks and burrs off of our oblivious pooch. Needless to say, we thoroughly enjoyed our dinner when it finally cooked and thoroughly enjoyed the car drive back into the land of showers, clean water and kitchens!!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Swordfish Steaks with Leek & Cauliflower Puree, Green Beans and Nuoc Cham Vinagrette


Last night, I cooked up a healthful meal of swordfish and grilled green beans over a leek and cauliflower puree. Leeks are often a mystery to many shoppers, including myself. The vegetable looks like a large green onion and appears difficult to transform into an edible dish. Whenever I dine out, leeks are often featured in at least one menu item, so I have been determined to unmask the mystery of the leek :). According to wikipedia, leeks are related to garlic and onion and taste slightly sweeter than an onion. It should be noted that the white root of the leek is the only edible portion, excluding the green leaves. To prepare the puree, I sliced and sauteed the leeks in olive oil over medium heat along with cauliflower, garlic, salt and pepper. After the leek and cauliflower becomes light brown, add the mixture to a high powered blender, slowly adding heavy cream (about 3 tbsp) to create the consistency you desire. The swordfish steaks were cooked in a cast iron pan with olive oil until the inside of the fish is tender and white. Before cooking my fish, I placed it in a traditional Vietnamese vinaigrette (recipe below). 

Nuoc Cham Vinaigrette:
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup warm water
1/2 cup fish sauce
1/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 of a lime, juiced
3-4 cloves of garlic , minced
2-3 Thai chili pepper, minced

Whisk ingredients together until dissolved. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

ABC COOKING SHOW AUDITION TAPE PICS





This morning, my band mates Taylor, Oscar and I recorded an audition tape for a new ABC cooking show hosted by Anthony Bourdain and Nigella Lawson. I will post the tape who I have it loaded, just wanted to share a few fun pics. By the way, I was cooking my favorite dish, chow fun!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rye Delicatessen

A few days ago, I stopped into the new Rye Delicatessen near Franklin and Hennepin in Minneapolis. As soon as I saw the words lox and bialy on their store window, I was determined to try it out. The deli is owned by Tobie Nidetz, a local restauranteur and David Weinstein. The tag line for the restaurant being, "not your grandma's delicatessen" explains the back bar featuring a whole slew of local and international crafts and spirits. The atmosphere is bright and casual with large rustic tables, self ordering and seating. As I walked in, I felt a sense of comfort, there is no pretension at this joint, just good honest food. Their menu is quite large and is written on chalk board-esc panel. I am a huge fan of lox, whitefish and bialys so of course I had to order the platter. Our friends ordered their falafel and jubano (play on cubano :)). I had a taste of the falafel which tasted light and fluffy, and delicious. Rye has all the typical Jewish deli foods your grandmother would approve of, plus much, much more. I am thrilled to have a gourmet Jewish deli in the neighborhood. Mazel Tov Rye!!!!


Click here for a link to their website





Monday, July 2, 2012

Red Wine Braised Kielbasa over Creamy Potatoes & Peppers

Dinner last week was a hearty one, mostly because I had heavier ingredients to use up. My mother gave me some fantastic kielbasa, a Polish smoked sausage. I wanted to change the flavor profile slightly of the kielbasa by simmering the sausage in red wine and butter. Underneath the kielbasa, I cut baby potatoes into fours and crisped them up in a hot pan, adding my roasted peppers and plenty of seasoning. To create a play on traditional mashed potatoes, I added a heavy dose of sour cream to cool down the heat of my sausage while creating a creamier consistency. The kielbasa turned a deeper red due to the red wine and changed the flavor only slightly, which is what I wanted to achieve. This dish would be the perfect match for a fried egg, similar to a hash. If you are looking to fill your tummy and eat like a king, this is your recipe :)