Confession…

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Excuse me readers, for I have not penned.

It’s been almost a month since my last Impression…

Restaurant Impression that is…

There are several restaurants we’ve tried over the past few months; but I haven’t written a single word. I’d like to say that’s because I’m busy enjoying summer. But, truthfully, I think I’ve had a case of the summertime blues. And because I was feeling that way, I was angry because I wasn’t appreciating summer like I told myself to this past winter. Being angry about being sad was a vicious cycle!

But I think I’ve discovered the root roots from which these feelings have stemmed. And I have plans in place to turn them around… Because I have nothing really serious to be sad about when I’ve got beautiful summer weather, day lilies smiling back and me…

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… not to mention a trip to Australia to look forward to this fall!

The #100HappyDays Challenge has helped me with this, too.

Part of the downer, is my running progress. I can’t even begin to tell you how frustrating it is to have so much trouble getting back to the point where I was pre-back surgery a year and a half ago. I was slow then. I’m even slower now. Urgh.

Rob and I did the Bacon Chase 5k this weekend.

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It was a cool theme, but far too many people for Rob (2200). And while it was a fun, casual event and the course was pretty easy and flat, I couldn’t run the entire thing. I know most of it was in my head. Because the crowd was so huge, Rob stayed back to run it with me. He could have injured himself running so much more slowly than his ability. And while I appreciated his gesture, I just felt guilty holding him back. And there were times I felt he was crowding me. It wasn’t his fault. It was all inside my own head.

This was an untimed race and we left our iPhones behind. I learned that part of the reward of finishing a race is learning your time.

Then there’s the re-occuring back pain. I’m in the process of taking my doctor’s 3x3x3 approach.

Get over it, Carrie. Better days are ahead!

And now it’s time for…

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • MondayGrilled Pork Chops with Mushrooms and side salad
  • Tuesday - Cooking for the girls. I think I’m going to make this Ground Turkey Zucchini Skillet, based on what I have on hand. But it sounds a little boring. Any other ideas out there?
  • Wednesday - Angel Hair Pasta with San Marzano Meat Sauce
  • Thursday – leftovers
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday - Dinner out with the Girls
  • Sunday – TBD

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

Rob and I are starting a Run Streak! Starting Wednesday, we are going to run 1-mile per day, no matter what,every day up until we leave for Australia this fall. It’s how we decided to make ourselves accountable to continue to run when we don’t have a race scheduled! We may increase the amount on some days or add other cardio or strength training, but we have to do at least one mile and keep improving on our individual times. There’s no way we can’t fit a mile in!

  • Monday – REST
  • Tuesday REST
  • Wednesday – 1-mile run
  • Thursday – 1-mile run
  • Friday – 1-mile run
  • Saturday – 1-mile run
  • Sunday – 1-mile run

Cheers to moving forward!
Carrie

 

How to Choose a Restaurant for Restaurant Week

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Restaurant Week is happening soon in the Twin Cities! 

July 20th – 25th

And while passing through my hometown this weekend, we learned that Green Bay is hosting a Restaurant Week soon as well: July 10th – 17th. Check it out at GBRestaurantWeek.com.

Restaurant Week is offered a few times per year in many cities throughout the U.S. It’s a great opportunity to enjoy three-course lunches or dinners at $15 – $30 per person.

We’ve taken advantage of  Restaurant Week a time or two, sometimes multiple times in one week! In the Twin Cities, there are so many options. How do you choose!? Here are some tips on how to narrow them down. Most of us can only afford to take advantage of one or two. So, let’s make the most of it!

How to Choose a Restaurant for Restaurant Week:

Dates and Locations

What dates are you available? Do you want to have lunch or dinner? Restaurants all over the Twin Cities Metro area participate in Restaurant Week. Living South of the River, I’m not going to want to dine in the northern suburbs and fight rush hour traffic on a weeknight. Are you available for lunch during the week? This is a time for a real deal!

Try Something New (or stick with a favorite!)

One of our rules when choosing a restaurant for Restaurant Week is that it must be a place where we’ve never dined before. This is a restaurant’s opportunity to showcase its signature dishes and win you over! On the other hand, if your favorite restaurant is participating in Restaurant Week and offering your favorite dish, by all means, take advantage.

Menu

This is by the far the biggest determinant for us when choosing where to dine. It is important that you look at the Restaurant Week Menu online before deciding. Many chefs choose their most popular dishes or items that represent them the best to introduce you to their cuisine and give you a true taste of what makes them unique.

However, for some reason, other restaurants seem to offer boring selections. For example:

Appetizer: Caesar Salad or French Onion Soup

Entrée: Sirloin or Spaghetti & Meatballs

Dessert: Chocolate Cake or Strawberry Cheesecake

Really? That’s all you’ve got?

While these menu items certainly can be made really well, I want to taste the creativity and the character of the restaurant. When it comes to showcasing your menu, spice it up. In fact, SEASON IT ALREADY!

We don’t even bother with the restaurants who don’t list their menus. And of course, if you have any dietary restrictions, make sure that you can eat what is offered. Most restaurants won’t deviate from the three-course menu during Restaurant Week, but it doesn’t hurt to call and ask for substitutions if it’s a place you really want to try.

Make Reservations

Due to the extreme value and the popularity of Restaurant Week, it’s highly recommended that you make reservations. Not all restaurants will accept them, though. In those cases, call ahead, arrive during “off” hours or prepare to wait.

Then, enjoy a truly memorable experience dining out that you may not have otherwise!

Which restaurant would you try during Twin Cities Restaurant Week?

Which restaurant do you think we are going to try? ;-)

Cheers~
Carrie

Chicken Thighs – What’s Your Best Recipe?

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It’s always difficult coming back from a week long summer getaway. Especially when you are busy at work catching up, you didn’t exactly follow do any of the the running program you had planned, and your dining options and choices weren’t very healthy.

On second thought, maybe it doesmake it easier. I feel gross. I want fresh vegetables. I am sick of sugar. I want to get moving again. I don’t want to feel so sluggish.

When we got back to Minnesota, I knew that I had to formulate a plan for the week quickly. I had to pick some easy dishes that I could put together quickly to make that first hectic week back go smoothly. It’s time to take a look at that Recipe Arsenal!  Rob and I have also decided to try our own thing this week and only eat together once this week. This gives me the opportunity to make myself some fish and chicken. I’m so out of practice and may need your help…

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • MondayGrilled Kielbasa with Sauerkraut and side salad
  • Tuesday - Shrimp with Zucchini & Tomatoes
  • Wednesday - Angel Hair Pasta with San Marzano Meat Sauce
  • Thursday – Chicken Thighs with Grilled Asparagus - What’s your favorite easy recipe using chicken thighs? I have about 2 lbs. I could make 1 lb, or cook them all up for leftovers for salads, etc.
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday - St. Paul Farmer’s Market & Unplug Day!
  • Sunday – TBD

Lunch:

  • Poorman’s Caprese
  • Leftovers
  • Snacks – fruit, nuts or string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – 2-mile run
  • Tuesday walk/yoga
  • Wednesday – 2.5-mile run
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – 1.5-mile race-pace run
  • Saturday – Unplug Day and Long Walk!
  • Sunday – 3-mile run

What is your favorite way to make chicken thighs?

Looking for an easy, no fail tasty recipe!

I am hoping to round up a bunch of favorites into one simple post.

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Wine & Cheese – An Education

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

I’m still alive! I’m just enjoying summer and only blogging when it feels right, ya know?

You may have realized by now that I am a huge fan of Thrillist. I love their candid accounts on things I really want to know… or even things I didn’t know that I wanted to know.

Still with me?

Having conducted in-home wine tastings for 10 years, I know a thing or two about wine and cheese. You can get a simple list of cheese and wine pairings here.

One of the things that I found that stressed some hosts out was how to cut the cheese to go with the wine. To be honest, as much as I love it, I’m no expert on cheese. The point of the wine tastings was to keep it simple and to focus on the wine and education. I’d tell my host to cut into bite-size pieces. It’ll be easy to serve and just the right size for tasting.

But if you want to know the “proper” way to cut and serve cheese, check out this article from Thrillist:

How to Cut the Cheese Like a Frenchman

Overwhelmed? I am. I may have to have a cheese-tasting party just to practice. (Or to try all of those delectable cheeses!) Maybe have everyone bring one type of cheese and I’ll supply the bread and wine? Sound like a plan? Who’s in?

Want to learn more about wine? This is a fun and direct approach, also from Thrillist:

This is How You Talk About Wine

(Or How Not to Embarrass Yourself When Talking about Wine)

I love it. ALL good advice.

Enjoy!

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

King’s Place

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One Sunday afternoon, Rob I were in search of a late lunch South of the River. Originally, Rob had chosen White Castle in Apple Valley; but I objected! Instead, I suggested Vivo since he hadn’t been there yet.

We pulled up to the bar (our favorite place to sit) and ordered a drink. This is where I had that wonderful Pomelo Margarita!

Pomelo Margarita - sauza blanco tequla, fresh grapefruit, st. germain, agave

Pomelo Margarita – sauza blanco tequla, fresh grapefruit, st. germain, agave

I inquired about their menu. Unfortunately, they were serving only the brunch buffet until 4pm. So we brainstormed where to go instead. Rob was trying to recall a good burger joint that he knew was further south. He couldn’t remember exactly where it was or what it was called. He texted his co-worker and we asked the bartender, as well.

We finally discovered it was King’s Place in Miesville.

I had no idea where Miesville was; so we plugged the address into KITT (as our GPS is affectionately named) and drove the 25 minutes further south in search of these burgers.

You can’t miss King’s Place as you pull into Miesville, population 105. And the place was packed… at 2:30 in the afternoon! People were waiting outside with beers in hand. Luckily, we were able to grab two seats at the bar. Most of the people seated at the bar were waiting for tables. But they handed us a couple of menus.

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I was overwhelmed by the number of burger choices! Here are just a few:

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The prices are very reasonable. Burgers come à la carte.

You can add an appetizer as a side, if you’d like.

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More burger choices!

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There are hot dogs, too…

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After we ordered, we saw this on the wall. Rob decided to give it a try…

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No, not the Fireball! The Cabin Fever Maple Whiskey. I took a whiff and it smelled incredible! We may have to find it and bring it back for my dad come Christmastime…

So what did we ultimately choose?

Rob:

Shortstop Burger - bacon sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, sour cream

Shortstop Burger - bacon, sauerkraut, cheddar cheese, sour cream

Carrie:

Slugger - American cheese, lettuce, tomato green pepper and homemade horseradish sauce.

Slugger - American cheese, lettuce, tomato green pepper and homemade horseradish sauce.

The burgers were very, very good. I’ve never had a burger with raw green pepper on it like this. And I always forget how much I love horseradish sauce until I have it again!

We both were happy that we went. We agreed that we probably wouldn’t make the trek out there purposely again. But if we were in the neighborhood, maybe on the way back into town or golfing nearby, it’d be worth a stop.

What’s your favorite small town joint?

Cheers~
Carrie

It’s Been A Week + Recipe Arsenal

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It’s been a week since I posted. Where has the time gone?

But I did put together a new Recipe Arsenal on the site. Sure, many of these recipes are pinned, but I wanted to share them with you and introduce you to some of the places where I find recipes. These particular links are my tried and true go-to recipes.

And I really do need a list like that this week!

planning

I don’t have anything planned for cooking this week because we are prepping for vacation. {No, it’s not time for Australia, yet! But I have been busy planning that, too!} This list will make it easy to pick things out of my pantry when I need to throw something together this week.

And as for fitness, we are still running.

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What’s in your recipe arsenal?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

Grapefruit + Tequila = Summer

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I’ve just discovered one of the most refreshing cocktail combinations that I’m going to declare as my Summer 2014 cocktail of choice!

Grapefruit + Tequila

Why have I never thought of this before?

After I earned an all-expense-paid trip to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico through The Traveling Vineyard, I came back swearing I’d never drink a margarita again. But I still love tequila. And after a tequila tasting there, I found what my true preferences are. So occasionally, I’ll have an Añejo on the rocks with a splash of cointreau and squeeze of lime.

That was until we visited Boneyard Kitchen and Bar {Restaurant Impression to come!}, a newer restaurant in Uptown Minneapolis which is housed in the old Old Chicago space. I don’t know why, but my eyes were immediately drawn to this drink:

PALOMA – cabrito tequila, grapefruit soda, fresh lime
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I failed to take a photo; but it was one of the most refreshing drinks of my life. They used Cabrito Tequila, which I hadn’t had before. I’m sure it’s a good value one; but what is more important is that it is 100% de agave. It was excellent in this mix. And I was soooo thankful that they did not use Jose Cuervo Gold!

Tequila Tip: When buying a tequila, look for 100% de agave on the label. Jose Cuervo Gold is 51% agave, 49% carmelized sugar. What a rip off!

The other great thing about this recipe is that it is sooooo quick and easy!

Paloma

Ingredients:

  • ice
  • 2 oz tequila (reposado)
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • pinch salt
  • grapefruit soda (approx 6 oz) - {We prefer San Pe, but you can also use Jarritos, Squirt or a some grapefruit juice mixed with lemon-lime soda}

Method:

  • Combine tequila, lime juice and a pinch of salt in a glass.
  • Add ice.
  • Top with grapefruit soda.
  • Stir.
  • Garnish with lime or grapefruit wedge if desired.

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Then, a week or two later, I discovered this beauty at Vivo Kitchen:

Pomelo Margarita - sauza blanco tequla, fresh grapefruit, st. germain, agave

Pomelo Margarita - sauza blanco tequila, fresh grapefruit, st. germain, agave

Okay, so I didn’t think to share it with you until it was half gone. Sorry. Because of the addition of St. Germain and fresh grapefruit, it tasted different than the Paloma. But it was just as refreshing. I loved it.

You can do a search online for Pomelo Margarita recipe. Note: A pomelo is similar to a grapefruit – maybe a bit sweeter. But as Vivo did, you can substitute grapefruit if you don’t have access to a pomelo or pomelo juice.

How did I not discover grapefruit and tequila until now?!

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Now it’s time for:

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • MondayGrilled Kielbasa with Sauerkraut  – Do you have any good ways to season sauerkraut? I am not making mine from scratch. My cousin canned some and gave some to me!
  • Tuesday - Painting Night! I have been going through withdrawal. It’s been a while! We will be dining at the Med Cruise Cafe before pulling out our brushes.
  • Wednesday - Pork Chops with Roasted Vegetables and Best Oven Fries
  • Thursday – Leftovers
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday - Happy Fun Day Saturday! We are joining some friends at the NE Social and Dangerous Man Brewing (Beard, optional.)
  • Sunday – Brunch in the am, dinner TBD.

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – 2-mile run
  • Tuesday cross train/yoga
  • Wednesday – 1.5-mile race-pace run
  • Thursday – cross train/yoga
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday –2.5-mile run
  • Sunday – Walk

What is your favorite cocktail this summer?

What is your favorite grapefruit cocktail?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

 

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