Ziti with Broccoli and Ricotta Sauce
March 27, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes

This is a great way for someone who loves Ricotta to make a nice thick creamy sauce for pasta without all of the usual calories, as the recipe calls for part-skim or low-fat Ricotta.  Unfortunately in our house, this recipe received mixed reviews.  I thought it was okay (not great), D.Jones thought it was okay as well, but was put off by the texture of the ricotta, and Cooper wouldn’t eat anything except the broccoli, so I’m guessing he had the same issues because he loves pasta.  If you love Ricotta though…this may be for you.

Taken from Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin.

Ziti with Broccoli and Ricotta Sauce

1/2 lb. ziti or penne (I used whole wheat)

1 T. unsalted butter

1 T. olive oil

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)

3 scallions, thinly sliced

4-5 cups of small broccoli florets

1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese, at room temp

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup grated parmesan

1/4 tsp dried basil

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1/4 tsp salt

fresh ground black pepper to taste

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, then cook the ziti until al dente. 

In saucepan or skillet, heat butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes and scallions.  Saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add broccoli and toss to coat, adding 3 T. or water.  Cover the pan and cook until broccoli is just tender and bright green (about 5 min?).  Keep warm over low heat.


In medium bowl, beat together ricotta, milk, Parmesan, basil, oregano, salt and pepper, along with 2 T. of the boiling pasta water.

Drain ziti in colander.  Place in large serving bowl or return to the pot.  Stir in the ricotta mixture to coat, then toss with the broccoli and serve immediately. 


I served ours with just a side salad of mixed greens tossed with a Balsamic vinaigrette.



Buster’s on 28th – Good for a Cold?
March 26, 2009, 3:48 pm
Filed under: restaurants

I don’t actually have any medical evidence to back up my claim, but it sure did make me feel better.  My findings:  With one out of one subject experiencing reduced congestion and improved feelings of overall well-being after consuming dinner and beer at Buster’s, I have reason to believe that Buster’s on 28th is good for a cold.

Buster’s on 28th is a standby for us because the booth backs are high (ie; perfect for an active 3 year old in tow), the noise level is just high enough to drown out any of said 3-year old’s whining and/or demanding of corn dogs.  Which brings me to another point…bribing him with Buster’s corndogs is usually enough to get him to quietly play with some matchbox cars in our booth while D.Jones and I can enjoy some semblence of a relaxing dinner out.  Perfect!

Last night we were happy to notice that the menu had been updated.  Well, sort of happy.  I was sad to see my favorite salad taken off the menu, but was simply tickled to see that they had added a Capreses Panini…which I promptly ordered.  Along with a Franziskaner Dunkel for good measure.

The panini was absolutely deelish and the Dunkel clearly didn’t disappoint. 

I love that the servers there are well-versed in all things beer, are always friendly as can be, and the food almost always arrives relatively promptly.  A must-have for diners with kids, right?

Anyway, the scrumptious and warming Caprese Panini with a nice cold beer were enough to have me leaving the restaurant not quite as annoyed by Cooper’s constant barrage of “why’s?” which is his new thing, and not quite as sniffly as when I entered.   So maybe it can be said that not only is Buster’s good for a cold, it can also be good for the psyche.

Crusty Potatoes, Tomatoes, and Onions
March 25, 2009, 4:38 pm
Filed under: Main Dishes, Uncategorized

From Quick Vegetarian Pleasures by Jeanne Lemlin.  In the book, Lemlin lists this casserole under “entrees”.  I was skeptical, thinking it was more of a side dish than an entree-type casserole.  I was wrong, and served with some fresh haricots verts tossed with slivered almonds, it was a perfect dinner for last night’s cold, rainy weather.  Fantastically warming and hearty, the lengthy baking allows for the potatoes and onions to slightly carmelize making the top layer crunchy and the potatoes, tomatoes and onions underneath, soft and tasty.

Crusty Potatoes, Tomatoes and Onions, Baked with Olive Oil and Garlic

6 medium potatoes, peeled, havled and very thinly sliced

3 large onions, halved vertically and thinly sliced

4 garlic cloves, put through a press or minced

1 28-oz can of plum tomatoes, chopped and drained (I used pre-diced)

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 cup olive oil

3 T. water

2 tsp dried oregano

salt and fresh black pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400F.  In large bowl, combine potatoes, onions, garlic and tomatoes.  In a small bowl, beat together tomato paste, olive oil, water, oregano, salt and pepper.  Pour over the vegetable mixture and toss to coat well.  Spread into a 12x7x2 baking dish or any 2 1/2 qt shallow dish.  Cover tightly with aluminum foil and bake 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake 45 minutes longer, or until potatoes are tender and top begins to crisp and carmelize.




March 25, 2009, 2:44 pm
Filed under: Breakfast | Tags: , ,

I am no longer purchasing any pre-made breakfast goodies after I read this  article on the poisons that long-time supposedly family-friendly products and companies like Quaker think are okay to include in the recipe.  Mercury with your breakfast anyone?

Plus, I love muffins and what’s better than homemade muffins!?

This morning I was going to try a recipe called “Fruit Juice Muffins” from Jeanne Lemlin’s book Quick Vegetarian Pleasures.  I started out good, but then honestly, I started looking at a recipe on the opposite page, and accidentally combined the two.  Ooops.  However, the end result was a very delicious little (huge) muffin, so I’ll tell you what I did instead of giving you the “real” recipe.  I’ll call them…

Accidentally Delicious Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour 

1/2 cup whole wheat flour

1 T. baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 cup chopped walnuts

1 medium apple, peeled and grated (I used Pink Lady because they are the best apple on earth, in my opinion)

1 large egg

1/3 cup vegetable oil  (I actually used half olive oil, have vegetable oil only because of availability issues)

1/2 cup frozen apple juice concentrate

1/2 cup water

Preheat to 425F.  Liberally butter the insides and top of either a regular-size muffin pan, or, as I did, a large size muffin tin (only 6 muffins). 

In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.  Stir in the walnuts and grated apple.

In separate bowl, combine oil, apple juice concentrate and water.  Add in the egg, already slightly beaten.  Whip together until well-blended.  Stir into dry mixture until evenly moistened.  Spoon into muffin pan.

Bake 15 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.  Cool slightly before serving. 

Sweetened only by the apples and the apple juice concentrate, I feel wonderful about serving these to my son for breakfast.  Oh, and to myself too, of course.  Deeelish!



Sunday Afternoon Snack Time
March 22, 2009, 8:27 pm
Filed under: Beer, Wine & Cocktails

I’m painting all the wood trim in our house.  It sucks.  This is weekend #2 spent bonding with my paint brust and roller and it’s clear that I’m going to see another of these weekends in the near future.  Blech.

After a couple of hours of rolling and swiping, it was snack time.  With 2 avocados calling my name from the kitchen, and half a baguette left from Friday’s soup, I decided on some crostini with guac.

First, I sliced the baguette thinly, laid out the slices on a piece of tin foil (so I wouldn’t have to scrub a  cookie sheet), drizzled them with olive oil and sprinkled them with sea salt.  Then I threw ’em in the oven on 350 to toast up.  Easy enough.

While they were toasting, I took the pits from the avocados and put the good stuff in a medium sized bowl.   I added diced red onion.  A handful, I suppose…I mean, this isn’t rocket science.  Add what you like.  2 cloves of garlic put thru a garlic press, then 2 dashes of Worchestershire sauce, a dash of lime juice, 3 shakes of my cayenne pepper (usually I’d use one whole jalapeno, but there was none to be found in my kitchen today), and a sprinkle of sea salt.  Mashed it up with a fork and voila! 

I pulled the crostini from the oven, spread each with a nice thick layer of heavenly guac, and yelled down the stairs to D.Jones to come up.  “Should I bring a beverage?” he yelled back?  Hmm….  Let’s see.

1.  Cooper’s napping – check!

2.  I’ve been painting for about 3 hours.  (manual labor?)  Check!

3.  It’s Sunday…what the heck!?  Check!

“Sure!” I yell back…”I’ll split something with you.”

D.Jones emerges from the lower level shortly, with a 1 pint, 6 oz. bottle of Hop Stoopid from Lagunitas Brewing Co., out of Petaluma,  CA. 

At a claimed 102 IBU level, and 7.7% ABV,  I was glad I had said I’d split one with him or who knows where the remainder of the paint could end up.  I didn’t intend to paint the floorboards, too, right?

Bartender D.Jones poured ’em up and the glasses filled up with a nice golden Ale.  They aren’t kidding that this one is hoppy.  It’s very hoppy.  Though I read on Beer Advocate that someone who reviewed it said it could go toe-to-toe with Hopslam…I think he wrote that he wasn’t sure which he’d prefer, and that’s a layup for me.  This is good, don’t get me wrong, but it’s not Hopslam.

D.Jones called it “average” as far as the super-hopped, American IPAs go.  He said it’s full-flavored and decent, and that he likes it, but there are a lot of better beers in the same class.  He went so far as to say it’s not even in the same class as Hopslam, and that it can’t compare to Surly’s Furious.

Anyway, with a hint of sweetness, it was a great compliment to our guac crostinis and made this Sunday’s afternoon snack all too perfect.  Though I think I’ll give the rest of my half to D.Jones to help him numb the ugly Wisconsin loss this afternoon.  Plus, I’ve got painting to do.  Cheers!


Brew Review – Surly 16-Grit
March 22, 2009, 3:17 pm
Filed under: Beer, Wine & Cocktails

My almost three year old often dictates what we’re going to do for dinner on the nights I decide not to cook.  He’s well-versed on some great places in town and usually picks a place that D.Jones and I are also happy to go.  Last night was no exception when, around 4:30 in the afternoon he said “Mommy, I’m hungry.  Can we go to Common Roots?”  Bravo, my boy, bravo!

Now, I am beginning to tire of touting the fabulocity of Common Roots.  Not because they are no longer fabulous, but because last week when I attempted to take my friend Alfred there, we realized there was a lineup of folks looking for a table about 6 deep, so we had to leave to find some place else to go.  I beg of you small business owners, will someone please open another internet cafe in S.Mpls that offers lots of outlets, great food and fantastic beer & wine?  Seriously.  In one night Alfred and I attempted to find a table at Common Roots, Gigi’s and Wilde Roast, almost to no avail!  Thankfully a tiny little corner table at Wilde Roast opened up for us to squeeze into.  Wait.  You know what?  I take that back.  Forget about opening a different internet cafe, instead I beg of owner Danny Schwartzman to open a second location.  Pleeeease?  Pretty please?!  I mean, there’s not a thing wrong with this place.  The food is consistently wonderful, fresh, organic and tasty.  The beer selection is local.  The wine selection is affordable and offers some good organic wines (which are hard to find, in my humble opinion) and they are the most socially conscious, green spot in town.  Cue one standing “o” for Common Roots….and what we need is another one!  I heart them in a big way.

So, when Cooper suggested good old Common Roots for dinner last night, we were happy to oblige.  Plus, D.Jones knew that they had a keg of Surly’s 16-grit available and he’s been dying to try it, so off we went.

When we got there I was overjoyed to see that there wasn’t much of a line.  I’m sure we were right on the early side of the dinner rush, so there were even plenty of tables available.  Score!  Then I saw the little sign indicating they also had their Creamy Tomato Basil soup available.  Double-score!  Man that soup is good!  D.Jones inquired about the 16-grit, holding his breath thinking that they may already have run out due to the limited release and they still had it!  Excellent all around!

We ordered one white bean burger, one grilled cheese, a cup of creamy tomato and a cup of curry squash soup, plus a Surly 16-grit.

The food, as always, was spot on.  Not a thing that could have been better.  And you know they work a miracle in the kitchen when little Cooper Jones asked us to get him a second cup of the curry squash soup.  Wow.

 Now on to the beer….

Surly released the 16-grit, a double-IPA, as what they state on their website was a “farewell to growlers”.  They have released it in limited availability at a few different places around the city. 

In the glass it showed as a gorgeous dark golden hue.  A bartender friend of D.Jones’ had said it was going to be like “Furious-times-three.”  It wasn’t.  It was smoother than Furious to me…perhaps slightly more drinkable.   Maybe because the malt is more apparent and the hops are toned down a little from Furious.  D.Jones would definitely pick a Furious over the 16-grit, and granted, lots of folks are looking for the majorly hopped-up beers when they think of Surly, but to me, to have it a little more subtle was nice.  Now, don’t get me wrong and think I’m saying this is a subtle beer.  It’s anything but!  This beer is bursting with flavors…the citrus of the hops apparent and the overall taste slightly sweet, but balanced.  Very full bodied, as always with Surly.  I mean, Surly has never disappointed us, and this one certainly didn’t.  I’m just bummed that in probably a couple more days they won’t be any more to be had….

Weekend Brew Review – Sierra Nevada 12th Release Harvest Wet Hop Ale
March 22, 2009, 3:01 am
Filed under: Beer, Wine & Cocktails

D.Jones and I hit the South Lyndale Liquors final day of their wine sale tonight and stocked our wine rack with some fabulous buys.   Well, my wine rack, that is….   D.Jones stocked his beer fridge instead, and tonight tried something new.  It’s Sierra Nevada’s 12th Release Harvest Wet Hop Ale.  Approximately $5 for a 24 oz bottle, at 6.7 ABV.  D.Jones says it’s a nice intro to hoppy beers for someone who’s not as much of a hophead as himself.  It’s good, balanced, clean, and definitely worth the $5.  The hops are nice and citrusy like he enjoys, and the finish is dry with a hoppy taste that lingers for a little while, which is an added bonus in his opinion. 

In summary….D.Jones recommends it.  Cheers!