Smokey Roasted Cauliflower

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Here’s a little trick, use smoked paprika to get the smokey taste of bacon without the mess, fat or calories. Also great to use in vegetarian dishes. I used it here with this roasted Cauliflower to enhance the roasted taste and add some depth of flavor.

Smokey Roasted Cauliflower

1 head cauliflower broken into florets

1-2 T olive oil ( or substitute your favorite oil)

1 T lemon juice

1/2 t salt

1/2 t-1t smoked paprika

Preheat your oven to 400. Toss Cauliflower with oil and lemon juice until well coated. then sprinkle on salt and paprika and toss again. lay on a baking sheet and put in the oven. cook for about 20 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft and starts to brown.

 

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours

My husband recently had to go to Minneapolis for a business trip and seeing that I have a major case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and I am trying to visit all 50 states before I am 50, I flew up and met him after his meetings on a Friday evening. We only had until Sunday to see what the city had to offer but if you know me, that fact wasn’t going to stop me from seeing everything on my to do list, which when I travel is usually beer, food, and anything I can take a picture with. Sure I may miss out on some of the so called must sees but I always have fun and Minneapolis was no exception, in fact it was one of the best weekends we have had in a long time.

First stop : Beer. I was thirsty after traveling and we needed to come up with a game plan, we were staying downtown and there was a bar called The Local (931 Nicollet Mall) that was close by and served craft beer, sold. We stopped in here for an appetizer and a few pints. They had a decent beer selection as well as a full bar. It’s an Irish Pub and the food while decent was nothing to write home about but we met some locals and talked to the bartender, they were all friendly and gave us some suggestions on what to do and see while we were there.

I had googled and locals had suggested Butcher and The Boar, so we knew this had to be on our list and that we may need a reservation, we called from The Local and the only time we could get in was in about an hour. No problem we are nothing if not adaptable when we travel, time for a quick change and a brisk walk and a picture with the Mary Tyler Moore statue.

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours

Luckily our table was not quite ready when we got there, this gave us a chance to check out their Beer Garden out back.

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours. Butcher and the Boar Beer Garden

 We had a local beer while waiting for our table, they also serve house made sausages if you need a bite. We waited for the real thing inside and I am glad we did, the menu is divine and the food is awesome. We ordered way too much, but loved all of it. Some highlights were the Beef Long Rib, House Pickle Plate, Homemade Braunschweiger, Blackened Cauliflower, oh and anything on the menu.

Butcher and The Boar Minneapolis, Beef Long RibIButcher and the Boar House Pickle Plate and Smoked Olives

With our bellies full of beer and food we walked back towards our hotel and checked out the sights. We had big plans of maybe going somewhere else but we were tired and did I mention full, so we decided to get some sleep and get an early start on tomorrow.

We woke up and headed down to the local Mill City Farmer’s Market. I think this is always a great way to get to know a new city and this was no exception. Quirky food trucks, local produce and flea market finds, I even got a cool vintage apron for only $10. The nice thing about this market is that it is right outside the Mill City Museum and has views of the Mississippi.

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hoursA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Mill City Farmers MarketA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Mill City Museum A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours

From there we walked along the Mississippi, across the Stone Arch Bridge and down Main Street. Great sites, relaxing parks, and lots of history. Again now we are thirsty and what is a girl to do? Find a local Brewery. The closest one according to our map app was Dangerous Man Brewing, it was a bit of a hike but it was a beautiful day so we did it and it made our liquid reward that much sweeter or should I say hoppy. There was a line to get in when we arrived so we knew we mad a good choice. We tried several different brews and they were all great and the staff and atmosphere was friendly and inviting.

Dangerous Man Brewing MinneapolisA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Dangerous Man BrewingA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours

Guess what, I’m hungry again, big surprise. So we are off to try the legendary Jucy Lucy. We decide on Matt’s Bar, their are local disputes on who invented it or who has the best one. Well I am not sure if this is the best one because it is the only one I tried but I can tell you that it is delicious. So simple, yet so good. Who knew just putting the cheese inside the hamburger would change it into a must have before you die food. This place is cash only and small so if you go right at a meal time be prepared to wait. Also please heed the warnings of letting your Jucy Lucy cool before biting into it, yes it is torture, but will save your mouth from 3rd degree burns.

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Matt's BarA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Matt's BarA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours:Matt's Barr Home of the Jucy Lucy

Ok now I have to admit my biggest disappointment with Minneapolis is that there is no Prince Museum or Purple Rain Park, no purple motorcycle tours, or no Morris Day and the Time Grill. Being a child of the 80’s and from Florida my only images of Minneapolis are from that movie. So my only opportunity to recreate some “Doves Crying” magic is to check out First Avenue (your downtown danceteria since 1970). So we get down there and of course the show is sold out which happened to be Tina and the B-sides, so I didn’t get to go in but did get to see it and all the stars on the wall with the bands that have played there which is a most impressive list. Bonus, I found the one of my favorite band ever and there is a bar right next door.

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: First AvenueA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: First AvenueA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: First Avenue

So now the only place left is Nye’s Polonaise, I will admit we had actually been here earlier in the day and had a great discussion with our bartender, I instantly fell in love. This place was opened in 1950 and hasn’t changed one bit. The decor, the people, the piano bar are all amazing. I knew I had to come back that evening when they were serving food, had the polka band that dresses up like Kiss playing and the sing along piano bar was full of locals crooning out the hits. I was expecting greatness and I got it, it was everything I had ever hoped for. It was like stepping back in time, well except for the college aged hipsters in fedoras, but even they seemed to work in this atmosphere. Also while your there, try the Polish Sampler Platter, great homemade food including locally made sausages. This is a national treasure and should not be missed.

Nye's Polonaise:A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Nye's PolonaiseA Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Nye's Polonaise

A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Nye's Polonaise, Polish Sampler A Weekend in Minneapolis: Fun, food and beer in less than 48 hours: Nye's Polonaise

We stopped at another couple of bars before calling it a night, there was great karaoke at Otter ‘s Saloon and a sign that beckons, You Otter Stop Inn.

We had to leave early the next morning to catch our flight so we just grabbed breakfast at the hotel. Now I know we probably missed tons of cool places, in fact we didn’t even get to see everything on our list but I have to say that Minneapolis was a great time and I think we utilized all of our time wisely. Now I dare you to have more fun than that in less than 48 hours, good luck and have fun trying.

Leftover Avocados ?… Easy Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce

Easy Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce

Sometimes I am terrible at judging how much produce to buy, I usually err on the side of too much. This has happened to me several times with avocados. Avocados have such a short window of perfect ripeness so I am sometimes forced to make something on the fly with my extras. This is how this recipe happened today at lunch. Now I may purposely buy too many avocados so that I can treat myself to this decadent creamy dish more often. Also depending on what type of pasta you use this dish is vegan friendly, and if your not vegan and/or don’t have almond milk in the house you can easily substitute cow’s milk.

Easy Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce

1 avocado peeled, and chopped, pit removed

3 T almond or cow’s milk

2 cloves garlic chopped

1/2 t salt

1/4 t pepper

1/3 c grape tomatoes halved

2 c cooked pasta of your choice

more salt and pepper to taste

Place the avocado, milk, garlic, and salt in pepper in a bowl and blend into a puree with a hand held blender, or toss those ingredients into a regular blender until smooth. Toss with warm drained pasta and tomatoes, season with desired amount of salt and pepper and serve.

Easy Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce

Easy Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce

Easy Creamy Avocado Pasta Sauce

Pinspired : Whole Foods Steak and Corn Kabobs with Arugula and Parsley Pesto

Pinspired : Whole Foods Steak and Corn Kabobs with Arugula and Parsley Pesto

This is another recipe that I found while combing Pinterest, it is from Whole Foods and I loved the simplicity of it. It is a great Summertime recipe because it is great on the grill and uses Sweet Summer corn. I only tweaked this recipe slightly using ingredients I had on hand. The original recipe can be found here or on my Pinterest board “To Try”.

Whole Foods Steak and Corn Kabobs with Arugula and Parsley Pesto

1 1/2 Top Sirloin Steak

1 T Montreal steak seasoning (optional)

1 lb small yukon gold potatoes

3 ears of fresh corn cut into 1 1/2 inch rounds

1 c arugula

1/2 c fresh parsley

1/4 c  light olive oil

1 t Worchestershire sauce

1 t dijon mustard

1 clove garlic

1/2 t white or champagne vinegar

Place potatoes in salted water and bring to a boil, simmer for ten minute or until they are tender, but not falling apart. remove potatoes from water and add sliced corn, bring water back to a boil and cook corn for 2 minutes. Remove corn and let cool.

In a food processor or blender combine arugula, parsley, oil. Worchestershire, mustard, garlic and vinegar. puree until it is the consistency of pesto. set aside.

Cut Steak into 1 1/2 ” cubes and sprinkle with steak seasoning. Thread skewers, (if using wooden ones soak in water for 1/2 hour prior to threading), alternating steak, potatoes and corn.

Whole Foods Steak and Corn Kabobs with Arugula and Parsley Pesto

Pre heat a grill to med high, then place the kabobs on the grill for 6 minutes, rotating them so that all side are cooked, these will be med-med-rare, cook longer if desired.

Remove from grill, drizzle with pesto. I served mine with a simple salad and rice.

Whole Foods Steak and Corn Kabobs with Arugula and Parsley Pesto

Strawberry Margarita Popsicles

Strawberry Margarita Popsicles

Summer is almost gone but there is still time for POPSICLES, especially ones with tequila. These are yummy and refreshing and great for a cookout. I made these for book club, our book was Bad Monkey by Carl Hiaasen. A fun Summer read whose main character eats a lot of popsicles, so I decided to go with that but jazz it up with a little booze. Be careful when adding tequila or any other alcohol to your popsicles, if you add too much they will not freeze.

Strawberry Margarita Popsicles

6 c Simply Limeade ( found in the produce/juice section of your grocery store)

1-2 T agave syrup ( you could use sugar)

1 t lime zest

1 T chopped cilantro ( optional)

1/4 t salt

1/2 c tequila

sliced strawberries

add all ingredients, except strawberries to a pitcher and stir to incorporate. pour into popsicle molds or small paper or plastic cups. Place in freezer.

Strawberry Margarita Popsicles

Check after about 1 hr and every 1/2 hour after that. When the mixture is frozen to a slushy state. take out and add 2 sliced strawberries to each pop. Push them down with a popsicle stick or butter knife to desired position.(If you add them at the beginning they will float to the top and won’t be as pretty)  Then place a popsicle stick in each pop and place back into the freezer for a couple of more hours. 

Strawberry Margarita Popsicles

 

 

 

Healthy Refried Pinto and Black Beans

Healthy Refried Pinto and Black Beans

Shh I’m going to let you in on a little secret…. I am slowly replacing some of my families meat laden meals with healthier vegetarian options. Some of us have higher blood pressure and cholesterol than we should  (not naming names). One of my families favorites is taco night, and while we usually use chicken or turkey, I thought why not go all the way and just use beans. Canned refried beans are not the healthiest and my motto is that homemade beats processed any day. My younger son who is starting to take more interest in cooking was up for this challenge so he and I made this tasty recipe that would be great as a side or a filling for tacos, burritos and tostadas.

Healthy Refried Pinto and Black Beans

2 cans of beans, I used one Pinto and one black. (check the labels here many canned varieties add sugar, salt etc… I used an organic variety that was free of sugar)

1 t olive oil

1/4-1/2 c chopped onions

1 clove garlic chopped

1 t cumin

1 t salt

1 cup vegetable stock ( you can use any stock or water if watching your sodium)

add oil to large skillet over med high heat, add onion and sauté until soft, add garlic and beans and cook for about 3 more minutes. Add stock, cumin and salt. reduce heat to low and cover.

Healthy Refried Pinto and Black Beans

Cover and cook 10-15 minutes over low. Use potato masher to mash beans to desired texture, add more stock if needed.

Healthy Refried Pinto and Black Beans

Add to your favorite dish or serve as a side.

Healthy Refried Pinto and Black Beans

 

Spicy Honey Dills: Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

Spicy Honey Dills: Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

No, Im not pregnant but I do love pickles, they are a perfect little snack that packs in a lot of flavor with little calories. They are also great on burgers or any sandwich and so easy to make that you’ll forget about buying them at the store.

Spicy Honey Dills: Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

1 1/2 c water

1 1/2 c apple cider vinegar

2 t chopped garlic

1 jalapeño sliced

1 small yellow onion sliced

5 small thin skinned cucumbers sliced into 1/4 “-1/2″ rounds

2 T honey

2T pickling spice

1/2 t dried thyme

1/2 t red pepper flakes

1/4 t black pepper

1/2 t salt

1 1/2 t dried dill weed

Pour water and vinegar into a med sauce pan. Add pickling spice, thyme, red pepper, dill, garlic, salt and pepper, bring to a low boil and stir in honey. Turn heat off and let cool.

Spicy Honey Dills: Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

Meanwhile layer cucumbers, onions and jalapenos in a glass jar. 

http://hollieshobbies.wordpress.com/2014/08/17/spicy-honey-dills-homemade-refrigerator-pickles/

Add cooled liquid into jar until it covers the cucumbers, put on lid and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. 

Spicy Honey Dills: Homemade Refrigerator Pickles

Purple Potato and Bean Salad

Purple Potato and Bean Salad

Make your plate a little more colorful with this Purple Potato and Bean Salad. Great as a side or a light meatless Summer meal.

Purple Potato and Bean Salad

4 cups small purple potatoes, quartered ( I left the skins on)

1 can white beans, rinsed

1 cup grape tomatoes, halved

1/4 c red onion, chopped

2 T olive oil

2T red wine vinegar

1 T chopped  fresh cilantro ( or basil)

1/2-1t salt

1/8 t black pepper

Boil potatoes until fork tender, drain and add to a large bowl. Add bean, tomatoes, onions,  toss with oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper, add cilantro and stir.

Purple Potato and Bean Salad

Chill and serve.

Purple Potato and Bean Salad

Monster Party Dip

Monster Party Dip

Party time again! This time for my adorable nephew’s 1st birthday, he had a monster theme and I was in charge of an appetizer. I went with a family favorite and old stand by, Spinach Dip but you could add any dip to this cute hollowed out bread bowl.

For the eyes I used toothpicks covered with asparagus stalks then topped them with mushroom caps and inserted black olives into the cap.

Monster Party Dip

For the mouth I cut a red pepper into a tounge and used carrot sticks for the teeth.

Monster Party Dip

and for the arms and feet I used chunks of a separate round loaf of bread and uses the asparagus tips for fingers and toes gut from a radish on his legs. I attached them with toothpicks as well.

Monster Party Dip

 

I think it was a great addition to the Monster Party!

Monster Party Dip

 

Sausage with Red Wine and Smoked Paprika

Sausage with Red Wine and Smoked Paprika

 

These are an easy and great little snack for football, cocktail parties or the holidays.

1lb Kielbasa or other sausage ( Andouille or smoked sausage would be great)

2 T olive oil

1 T chopped fresh oregano or parsley

2 t chopped garlic

1 t smoked paprika

1/2 c dry red wine

Cut sausage into 1/2 in rounds. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over med high heat. add sausage and cook until browned. stir in oregano, garlic and paprika. cook for 1 minute. Add red wine and stir. reduce heat to low and cook for 3-4 minutes. Serve with toothpicks.