Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Julia Childs' Puff Pastry: Do not be afraid!

First, you need this book to make this amazingly easy puff pastry. Second, nothing in the freezer section holds a candle to this - and the kudos you will get for attempting such a "big" dough. Last - oh the things you can do! Puff Pastry is going to be great wrapped around a brie and a chutney madee with cranberries and pears. The leftover dough is 100% potential - beef wellington, appetizers, a simple jam tart... mmmmm.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Cookie Exchange: Cardamom Pistachio Butter Cookie

I love finding new Christmas Cookies that are really tasty - and unique. These tasty butter cookies have a nice, mild cardamom flavor and topped with pistachios, coconut, and orange zest.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Stocking Stuffer Round-Up

Great gifts don't have to be expensive - a good gift is something that is useful and wanted by the recipient (not just the gift giver!) Do they have everything they need? Get a consumable - like chocolate or alcohol.

Here are some fun ideas for the stocking, gift exchange, or even gift wrap bling!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Impressive: On Hand, No Time, and Little Mess

In 72 hours, my first semester of law school will be over. Scary.

I wanted something other than a can of soup for dinner, but didn't want to take much time to deal with it. Plus, I really didn't want a mess to clean up - again, the time constraint. I can use that time for studying - and writing a blog post! So efficient.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Cookie Exchange!

I've read a few FB updates from friends who are frantically baking for an upcoming Exchange. It's pretty exciting to read about as I rewrite my Torts Outline in the Library as opposed to getting flour all over the kitchen and making a triple batch of Butter Cookies...

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Bring Back the Cheese! And other fun Appetizers.

It's almost PARTY SEASON!

Here are some fun and easy ideas that let you get to the party on-time.
Nuts - The Cheese Ball - and a Relish Tray

Monday, November 23, 2009

Dreamy Popcorn - as simple as it gets

After an early dinner, I sometimes get the urge to just keep on eating. As I love food - it's not too surprising. However, I also like to fit into my clothes and not blow up like a whale - so I try to keep it under control. So - I've been resorting to popcorn at night. It's the PERFECT evening snack, easy to share or not and extremely easy to snazz it up with some "GOURMET" style flavors. *** Perfect for after holiday meals when the family is just hanging out - and you don't want leftovers!***

First: go for the gold and make the popcorn on the stovetop. Microwaves don't cut it here. It's easy and cheap - and makes your kitchen smell like a high school basketball game (in a good way.)

Old-School Popcorn

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Let's Get Punchy!

punch [puhnch] –noun

1. a beverage consisting of wine or spirits mixed with fruit juice, soda, water, milk, or the like, and flavored with sugar, spices, etc.
2. a beverage of two or more fruit juices, sugar, and water, sometimes carbonated.

Make your holiday hosting a BREEZE by preparing a punch or other big batch beverage for your next gathering. Read More and Click on the beverage for the link to the recipe.

Mulled Red Wine (adapted from Barefoot Contessa and Gourmet)
- Main Tastes: Red Wine, Citrus, Kirsch,
- Serve Warm - will make your house smell delicious!

Admiral Russell's Christmas Punch (Bon Appetit)
- Main Tastes: Lemon, Cognac and Sherry

Sherry Eggnog (Esquire)

Homemade Hot Chocolate
- great to have on hand for the kids
- keep a bottle of peppermint schnapps handy for the adults

Friday, November 20, 2009

How do you find the right spot?

Right spot to eat? Right spot for a "fun and spontaneous" date? Right spot for a lazy Sunday afternoon? Right spot when you were too busy all day to find the right spot but still want to have a fun night with someone special?

Saturday, November 14, 2009

How to be "A Good Wife" (a la 1954)

Betty Draper must have missed this class in high school.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

"plug and play" tool for Thanksgiving Dinner

This is a must to check out! A simple quiz to see how exotic or traditional, easy or gourmet, many or few people - all to kick out a great menu for the great fall get together.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Coke Addict

I'm sitting in a library, trying to write. There are two things that will help me here - some caffeine, and to just start writing something, anything (like a blog post.) Big LEGAL MEMO on Defamation and Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress is due on Tuesday. I sometimes wonder if law profs are trying to find the line of IIED - and go right up to it. They all say that you can't really win an IIED case - I think it's their way of protecting themselves...

OK - so I'm writing now. Words are starting to dance around in my head - that's a good thing. Now - caffeine... but, I've decided to give up artificial sweeteners whenever possible... so, my FIRST COKE! No diet today! I ran over to the little deli near school and grabbed a wrap for lunch - and a can of Coca Cola. Coke Classic. I don't even know the difference between Coke, Coca-Cola, Coke Classic. Is there a difference? Whatever - it won't change my claims of actionability for defamation.

Want to bake something with Coke? Check out this Coke Cake.

There - I think I've just accomplished my two goals of the moment. Now, back to writing something legally smart.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Dutch Apple Pie for a fall BBQ

Apple pie just seems like the right thing to do in the fall. Looking for some way to add something new - I decided to try out the Dutch Apple Pie recipe with some modifications from Cook's Illustrated Fall Entertaining (2009 cover recipe - still on the shelf). Check out the magazine for the full recipe. It's worth the $8.

This recipe breaks the process down into three parts: the bottom crust, the apples, and the streussel topping. This proved to be helpful on a busy day that made me leave the kitchen several times between steps.

Crust: baked blind, and using cold vodka for part of the water. Very smart. You can get vodka much colder than water! If you don't keep it cold, measure it into a small ziplock and throw it into your freezer while you get everything else together.
Scate's Tip: I used pear vodka.

Apples: The apples are cooked down in a big dutch oven before assembling the pie. This is a great way to manage the amount of liquid that goes into the finished product.

Scate's Tip: you need liquid! After cooking down the apples, if you don't have much liquid left over, add about 1/4 cup of apple cider to the cream. This will really help your pie meld together. Also, I don't like raisins with apples - so I used finely chopped dried apricot. It added a nice color and was really perfect for this pie.

Scate's Tip: Check out your farmer's market for apples! I was able to chat with a woman from the farm - she knew everything there was to know about apples and apple pie. It was really helpful. I got some harrelson and something else that was soft... I can't remember! Look for a mix of crisp and soft, and sweet and tart.

Streussel: mixed with a little bit of white cornmeal! This made it retain the crunch even after sitting on the counter for a bit.

Scate's Tip: Avoid over mixing - you want the lumbs to create a great topping.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Justice by way of Annie's Shells (pep'd up!)

I'm doing an A-1 job studying tonight. Feeling the first signs of a sore throat today (ACK!) - I decided the full-force attack plan had to get enacted, then I could study better.

Step 1: Target pit stop after school. Load up on Zicam stuff, they're out of echinacea???
Step 2: Don't touch anything or anyone on the bus ride home. Pop a zinc lozenge.
Step 3: Get my sweat on - run 3 miles with bursts of speed. It will help get blood moving, i'm sure.
Step 4: Shower. Run salt water through cavities to find and DESTROY the bad bugs. Pop a zinc lozenge.
Step 5: Incorporate peppers into a "comfort food"/study dinner.
Step 6: Mango sorbet and sleepy-time tea. Hope this leads to a good night of sleep!

Annie's Shells and Cheese - they used to be the fancy mac n'cheese that families had in Boulder when I babysat (in undergrad). Organic food was so young and new, but in Boulder - it already had a strong hold of the market in the late nineties. Somehow, eating "organic" mac n'cheese makes it seem healthy. However, it does not manage to take away the "i'm a student now!" fun dinner.

This past weekend, I spotted these great peppers at the farmer's market. They were sold as "sweet, and creamy" when cooked. Hmmm... i've never had a 'creamy' pepper before. Sounds good. Looks even better sitting on the counter ALL WEEK waiting for a dinner to call home.

Since I was just cooking for my self tonight - into the Annie's shells it went! This was so tasty! I threw an all-beef hot-dog and one of the peppers into a little non-stick pan while the noodles boiled. I let the pepper and dog get all dark and cooked through - pulled it off the heat just as the noodles were done. Drain the noodles, slice the dog and pepper (can keep all of these seeds - not spicy at all). I stirred in the pepper and hot dog before the sauce ingredients. I'm not sure it would really matter - I was hoping that the pepper would help flavor the sauce. Maybe it did - but not noticibly.

Tasty for a Thursday while going over my Lawyering Skills material. I came up with a great mnomonic device to remember all of the US Supreme Court Justices:

The Super Active Girl
Sails, Bikes, Runs*
and Sometimes Kayaks.

(Thomas, Stevens, Alito, Ginsburg, Scalia, Breyer, Roberts (CJ), Sotomayor, and Kennedy).

Who knows - it could be on the test tomorrow. Even if it's not - it's something every law student SHOULD know!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Favorite MPLS Burger Joints

*** HOME: I have yet to taste a burger that beat's H's magic recipe. With freshly ground beef (ground with butter) - they are juicy and tender. I'm trying to find something that will beat it - but have not had luck yet. I understand that not everyone lucky enough to have their own H. with a magic homemade burger, so here are my favorites found on the quest so far.

#1 Firelake: Located in downtown, around 7th and Lasalle. This was the truest burger that brought me back to childhood memories of pickles, tomatoes and mayo. Juicy, upfront with taste, and not pretending to be anything but a darn good burger.

 #2 Busters: located in south MPLS next to a Baker's Wife. H had the read burger, I tried the buffalo burger. Typically dry, as buffalo is lean, this was so juicy - i had to ask. Did they pour bacon fat all over this? Lo and behold, bacon is chopped up and mixed in with the buffalo meat! Good thing I didn't really want a LEAN burger! Tasty though...

 #3 Burger Jones: The white trash burger for H and the house-made Veggie burger for me. The WT burger was a little over the top with deep fried cheese curds, 1/3" slab of velveeta, and chicken fried bacon. The veggie burger - unreal. Whole beans - black and kidney - and cornmeal to help hold it together really add a wholesome and filling burger. Mushrooms add deep flavor, good quality swiss and a bit of pico de gallo with cilantro help pull the tastes together. Worth a drive out of downtown,

 #4 112 Eatery: Brie on anything makes for a good evening. This is a place where you can get a rare hamburger if you can handle cool meat. It's big and on an english muffin - all for about $9. Can't beat that with a stick.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Restrictive Diet? Sites and Meal Ideas

I hear "gluten-free" more and more these days. My college roommate found out she had celiac's disease (allergy to gluten) a few years ago. Most recently, one of my oldest childhood friends was advised to try a restrictive diet for two weeks. She has to cut out Gluten; Citric Acid; MSG; Refined Sugar; and Aspartic Acid. I connected my two friends, but am still interested in the findings as a conscientious hostess. I thought it would make for a fine blog entry.
The million dollar question: What can she eat?????

Gluten: a composit of two proteins found in grass-related grains like wheat, rye and barley. (wiki)

Celiac's Disease is caused by a reaction to a gluten protein. offers a wealth of information including recipes. The biggest task is reading labels - on everything that you would put in your mouth. Not only food products, but also Alcohol and OTC drugs. The average joe would be amazed at what has gluten thrown into the pot before selling a product!

There are books and websites that help point out the answer to our million dollar question. Bellow is some info that I found.

Book: Gluten Free Shopping Guide 2009/2010 edition
Basic Diet Information

"Safe Alcohol"
- many hard liquors and wine are safe if made from something other than wheat: potato vodka (Belvedere is my fav), rum, tequila, wines, gin, ciders, even gluten-free beer (read the labels - watch out for additives.)

"Safe Ingredients"
Corn Products (gluten, starch, meal, sugar, syrup, etc.)
Rice Products (flour, starch, syrup, vinegar)
Soy Products
Tapioca (flour, starch)

How to Adapt Recipes
1. Focus only on the items in the recipe that need to be adapted. Choose a recipe with very little flour or gluten-containing items. Sometimes the flour can be omitted. (Breading or flouring meats can easily be omitted for most recipes.) Concentrate on the major flavors. Serve simple fruit and vegetables while gaining skills. Think "omit" or "substitute" while reviewing a recipe. Perhaps mark problem ingredients in a recipe.

2. Avoid recipes that rely on convenience foods. Go back to the "from scratch" recipes the convenience food replaces. Learn to make the basic sauces and gravies often used in casseroles and soups.

3. Look in a gluten-free cookbook or Lifeline for a similar recipe. Compare proportions, they are the key. Flour and other ingredients that act as thickeners are compared to the amount of liquids in the recipe. Keep proportions nearly the same for your recipe. Given the same amount of liquid, it takes less starch to thicken than flour (cornstarch vs. corn flour).

4. Use commercial or home-made gluten-free substitutes. For example, gluten-free macaroni, bread and corn tortillas.

5. Don't make anything more complicated than it already is. But do take family health concerns, likes, dislikes and food dollars available into consideration.

I just made a great "gluten-free" breakfast: 1 egg (fried) and a salted sliced heirloom tomato from a neighbor. Tasty!

What are your best suggestions? Favorite meals? Favorite brands? Favorite websites?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Beat the Chill with Cardamom and Coffee

The cool air of fall is finally decending on Minnesota. This is more shock than complaint. However, 80 degree weather everyday in September while I'm in SCHOOL while June, July and August was closer to 60 degrees... So strange. Today - I think it only went above 70 for a minute or two - so it's starting to feel like change is here!

Cardamom is one of my all time favorite tastes. It's unique and really brightens anything it touches. It seems especially appropriate for breakfast treats - probably because I grew up with Finnish Cardamom Bread - otherwise known as Biscuit.

Today - it was Cardamom Biscotti paired with papaya. Who would have guessed? It was delicious paired with my americano while hanging out at a cool St Paul coffee shop - Nina's on  Selby. You can check out my version (from my VERY FIRST POST!) on Banana Cardamom Biscotti or check out the tasty Chocolate Cherry Almond version if you are looking for some tasty recipes.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Natural Sweetener: Maple Syrup in my coffee!

    Sometimes - I just can't sit in the library and I don't want to hold my condo hostage from my husband - so I go to a coffee shop to study.  
    Using maple syrup in my skim 3 shot latte was purely accidental - really more laziness in the guise of creative ingeniuity. Here I am with my highlighters, books and laptop spread out across the tiny little coffee-shop table. With everything in place - I didn't feel like walking over to the sugar and cream stand to make my strong latte a little more sweet. So - I used the maple syrup that came with my oatmeal.

First - maple syrup in oatmeal. This is really good! The taste is a bit more refined than just brown sugar. I think the liquid form also helped the taste spread through the oatmeal more easily and throroughly than sugar crystals.

Second - maple syrup in a latte is really fantastic. I learned (ck the food facts) that this natural sweetener is only 60% as sweet as white sugar. It also has added nutrients of Magnesium and Zinc. This is a much better alternative to unnatural *fake* sugar in my book! Of course, I'm not diabetic - so I don't have to worry about blood sugar issues.

I'm quite certain that this accidental and lazy discovery of mine has been perfected by many out in the world of foodie internets. So - what kind of suggestions do you have? Below are some more sites that I found interesting regarding the use of natural sweeteners - but I love hearing real stories!

LivRite alternative sweeteners in the home
US News article on natural sweeteners
Recipes from the Minnesota Maple Syrup Producers website

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Super Easy Pickled Peppers

Time to harvest the fruit and vegetables that have been growing in the garden! In my "urban" garden, our peppers really took off in late summer. I wanted to preserve them in some way - without needing to worry about canning methods or equipment. This whole process took about 20 minutes. Easy enough for anyone! The brine can be altered to your taste. Have fun.
Pickling some Peppers
Glass Jars with lids
1 pound fresh jalapeno peppers, washed (I added in 1 habenaro into each jar for color)
2 1/2 cups water
2 1/2 cups vinegar (I used white distilled vinegar)
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons canning salt
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons whole coriander seeds
3 cloves garlic, peeled and whole
2 tablespoons black peppercorns

1. Prepare the peppers: either slice or stab. I made one jar of sliced and two jars of whole peppers. For the whole peppers - cut an X in the tip and stab a few times in the sides. This helps the pickling juices penetrate the pepper. Put the peppers in the clean glass jars, leaving about 1 inch at the top.
2. Make the Brine: In a non-reactive saucepan, bring the other ingredients to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for five minutes.
3. Fill the jars: Remove from heat and let cool for five minutes, then pour the brine over the jarred peppers. Place the lid on the jar and let cool. Once cool, refrigerate for at least a week before using, if possible.

Serving: whole peppers can be seeded before using if you want to difuse the heat. Otherwise, use these anytime you want a little heat. Great in quacamole, on baked potatoes, or on eggs. Anything really!

Storage: must remain refrigerated! These are not "canned" and do not have a shelf life. They will stay in the fridge for up to 6 months.

Special Thank You to M&H for the birthday gift card that paid for this little experiment! It covered 12 glass jars, that HUGE box of canning salt and vinegar. Looks like I need to do some more pickling!

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11: Nat'l Day of Service for foodies

Today is officially the National Day of Service and Remembrance as indicated in the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act.
Whatever your politics, Sept 11 should be an important day for all of us. I remember clearly where I was when I first learned of what was happening. Then watching events UNFOLD in front of me while I was glued to the news. It was such a strange day. Are we safe? How many people? Can we mourne, should we be fearful, what can I do?
Well, today - there is something that we should all do. Today is National Service Day - and many are joining activities over the weekend to help do their part.
Check out - where you can search for volunteer opportunities by location or keyword. Below are some fun activities for sharing your love and talent. What ideas do you have?
Kids in the Kitchen - make a meal for kids staying at the crisis nursery
Food Shelf grocery delivery
Food Shelter meal server
Food Digest Stories and Information- write synopsis of existing FOOD NEWS and information!
Find more in your neighborhood at

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Best Burger in town? Burger Jones?

On a quest to find the best burger in the Minneapolis/St Paul metro area, H and I checked out Burger Jones this past weekend.

It got off to a great start when our waitress dropped off a free terrine of fries! It included seasoned waffle fries, russet fries, and sweet potato fries. Along side of the threesome was a trio of dipping sauces. All housemade - the ranch was my favorite, but the seasoned sour cream and chipotle aioli held their own on the table. The terrine could have fed 12 people - this photo was taken after we made our dent.

On to our dinner. H ordered the "White Trash" burger and I got the housemade veggie burger - a weak attempt to keep it healthy.

WT burger: juicy, medium rare beef topped with fried cheese curds, chicken fried bacon, and a thick slab of velveeta.

Veggie Burger: a mix of mushrooms and beans with cornmeal to hold it together. The cornmeal makes this stand apart from other house-made mushy burgers. It wasn't crunchy - but not mushy either. A tomato slice under the burger and topped with a little pico and cilantro.

We didn't have the stomach space for one of the 'hard shakes' on the menu. It would be a really fun thing to do on a hot afternoon HH on their patio. Maybe next time.
So - there it is. Check out the tally on the sidebar. You can see this wasn't our favorite so far - just the lucky one that got a few photos taken during dinner. Looking for suggestions! Where should we go next?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Book Review: Secret Ingredients

The New Yorker Book of Food and Drink
Here it is - another solo night. Dinner tonight was a slice of quadruple creme chese with crackers and wine. Here, you see the last glass of wine and the start of some FUN reading. If I read anything about intentional torts, I'm going to close the book.
I really don't expect any bad behavior from this particular book. Secret Ingredients is a complilation of New Yorker articles - all relating to food or eating food - spanning from the '30s to today. I've read about eating a 30 course meal in france that REQUIRED purging just to make it through the meal - to eating a true Steak Dinner in New York during the depression.
My favorite detail is that the year is not unveiled until the end of the article. So - you go through the whole article (which are surprisingly long for a magazine article but not bad in hardcover) without a pretense of era. Not knowing the year really lets the reader identify with the story - then to find out the story was published 80 years ago - or 10. I am reminded that people have been eating food from the beginning of time.
So, if you are like me and can't commit to 582 pages of pure food passion - try out the short story compilation built from quality writing throughout the ages.
Being a "foodie" may not be that hip afterall.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Back to School: Best lunches to power the mind

Somehow, going back to school is changing more than just my daytime address. I am finding that the food my body is screaming for (hopefully, not in the middle of Torts!) is different than when I was hanging out in a cube and running to meetings.

So, what is so different about being a student?

No more "Team Table" or Free Time.
If you know me - you know that I was the most guilty of them all for filling said table (work lunch table) with fun baked goods that I would make during my infinite free time in the evening or on the weekend. Well - no more free time to bake, and no real place to share snacks. I'm sure my peers would love free food. But, I'm not so certain of the sanitary level of each student... it's just not the same as the old team table.

After a summer of PLAY - I want healthy!
I had a really fun few weeks of vacation. Biking 60 miles will do things for your rear, as will sitting in the fun office chair for 8 (more like 10+) - - - imagine that my body is really happy right now. So - when my body is happy, active and healthy - it demands the same in food (most of the time). I find myself craving grapes, apples, salads - the Quizno sub just doesn't look good right now.

Guideline for a great lunch:
1. Real Food - try to avoid processed
2. Filling - but not high calorie (fiber is good)
3. Variety - different colors and tastes
4. Avoid sugar, excess salt and fats

My short list (needs your help!)
- Turkey and Hummus on sandwich round
- Carrots
- Grapes
- pretzels
- mini Cliff bars

What do you like - or do you have suggestions (especially those that don't require refrigeration)?
Get Schooled by Epicurious!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Farmers Market Find: Cream Cheese Brioche

What is the perfect mid-morning snack after discussing 3rd Degree Murder with a Depraved Heart?
Well, this depraved belly wants a cream cheese brioche that has been sitting next to my computer for a whole hour. Thursday means the downtown Farmers Market in Minneapolis. After being away for 2 weeks - i've missed finding my favorite spot. Today - it was located at my bus stop. Cocoa and Fig. They really know pastries and how to make a law student happy!

Friday, August 7, 2009

Roadtrip Week 1: Driving and Hiking in Canada

Today marks day 7 and 2100 miles of a 14 day/4000 mile roadtrip.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Law School Prep: Drinking down a Patty Melt

Law School. 1L. I can count the number of days of summer left on my fingers.

The best way to ease the anxiety is to make dinner with my husband, dear H. What better way to deal with stress than to EAT and drink?!?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bakery Find: Salty Tart in Minneapolis

Salty Tart is located in the Midtown Global Market in Minneapolis. Again - this has not been endorsed or solicitated by anyone other than my love and quest for the best baked goods.
The best question when standing in front of the bakery case - is how much can I possibly hold down - this all looks so great!

I made a morning out of this quest. First stop - a run around one of the many lakes in Minneapolis. I knew that hitting a bakery would take some prework - and so I picked a nearby lake that I had never run around before. Lake Nokomis was full of walkers, bikers and even some on rollerblades. I ran one loop - then threw on the skates for another lap for good measure. GOOD THING - because I was not in any position to only choose one treat from this bakery.

From the case - I chose a nectarine galette (made with half of an organic nectarine and pounds of butter). I also purchased a coconut macaroon and brioch filled with custard. A coffee and water - and I was ready for the challenge. The brioch and macaroon were meant for later - which meant I had them for lunch. The nectarine delight was my special treat. The woman behind the counter said that it tasted just like summer - and she was right.

This bakery was just opened in 2008 - but has already gotten several good reviews. I loved that everything was housemade - and very professionally done. The options were at once unique and traditional. My only wish would be for the Salty Tart to open a location in my neighborhood (that's St. Anthony Main in NE MPLS - Hennepin and University Aves in case anyone from the ST is reading this!!).

Similar post: A Baker's Wife in Minneapolis

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Calendar Girls: biking, pie and fun dinners

Biking through southern Minnesota (from Lanesboro) over a long weekend with two girlfriends: 140 miles biked, 5 pieces of pie, 1 day kayaking and great food throughout the weekend.