Monthly Archives: September 2013

Mediterranean Pork Chops {Food & Fitness Link-Up}

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I made two blog-post worthy meals out of last week’s

Food & Fitness Linkup!

I’ll be showcasing one today.

Mediterranean Pork ChopsMy plan for Tuesday was to make some sort of pork chops with pesto green beans or zucchini and onions with herbes de Provence.

I decided on the zucchini and onions because I had three zucchini in the fridge that needed to be used and also found some fresh mozzarella which I no longer had tomatoes {gasp!} to make a Caprese salad.

So I improvised.

Yes. Me. Little Miss Follow-the-Recipe played the thing by ear. This always makes me nervous because I’m not sure what I’ll do if Rob doesn’t like what I make. We already go out to eat too much and I fear that if I don’t make something fabulous, he’ll want to eat out more. {I’m trying to push it in the other direction for both our health and pocketbook’s sake!}

In any case, I knew that Melissa d’Arabian’s Sweet Vegetable Saute side is always a hit with Rob, so I wasn’t too worried there. However, the last time I made pork chops with a Tuscan herb rub, I over-seasoned the meat, which made them nearly inedible. We had to scrape off much of the seasoning. It was also an herb rub I hadn’t used before, so I wasn’t very familiar with it.

Tip: When trying out new spices, use a little less than you think. You can always add more later.

This time, I decided to use my absolute favorite herb blend ever – the Rosemary Herb Seasoning Mix by Pampered Chef. Unfortunately, this blend has been discontinued. I don’t know what I’ll do when I’m out. It’s what I like to use when I make popcorn my favorite way. If anyone has the exact blend for this seasoning, please send it my way. I’ve tried to look it up online and there are so many different variations or guesses. But I don’t want any other Italian Seasoning mix, I want THAT blend!

In any case, for these Mediterranean Pork Chops, you can use any of your favorite Italian Seasoning Blends, Herbes de Provence or fresh herbs of your choice. You are just gong to have to play around to find the right mix for you.

Mediterranean Pork Chops with Sautéed Zucchini and Onions

  • olive oil (I used garlic infused olive oil.)
  • onion
  • zucchini
  • Italian, Tuscan or Herbes de Provence seasoning (to taste)
  • 4 pork chops (approximately 1 lb)
  • 4 oz fresh mozzarella (sliced)

Method:

  • Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Start chopping and cooking the Sautéed Zucchini and Onions by following this recipe. If you don’t like onions, you can skip or use yellow squash or bell peppers. It doesn’t matter how much you use of each veggie, just season with Herbes de Provence, salt and pepper to taste. The dish can hang out and sauté on low for as long as you making the rest of this dish.
  • I like to pound the pork chops thin if they aren’t already. Then, brush one side of the pork chops with olive oil and rub with Italian seasoning mix to taste. Since my first over-seasoning debacle, I tend to under-season now because I know I can add more later. Don’t forget to add salt if your seasoning mix does not contain any.
  • Lightly spray a pan (I used a grill pan) with cooking spray or olive oil and heat to medium-high.
  • Once hot, put the chops in the pan, seasoned-side down.
  • Brush the remaining side with the olive oil and rub with more Italian seasoning.
  • Sear the chops for 2 to 3 minutes on each side.
  • Transfer the chops to a baking sheet or pan.
  • Top with slices of fresh mozzarella.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until cooked through and mozzarella has melted.
  • Drizzle with a little good quality extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little kosher or sea salt to finish.

Enjoy!

So what’s up this week?

planningWe have a lot coming up this weekend, so I’m not planning my days out exactly. Instead, I know that we will be eating at home four of the days and will just cook one of the following on any given day.

Food:

  • Dinners:
  • Breakfasts – Peanut Butter Toast, Granola with Milk
  • Lunches – Leftovers and Snack Lunches (This week, Poorman’s Caprese, cantaloupe, a piece of dove dark chocolate, Chobani yogurt, and a Tbsp of cashews.)

Fitness:

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I stopped running because my back was starting to hurt again. I switched to walking. Last week, the plan was to increase my walking mileage by 10% of the previous week. So my goal last week was to walk just a total of 8 miles.

But I didn’t do it.

By the end of the week, I realized that I need a better plan. I need some more structure. A goal. Then I remembered that what I wanted to do is finish the LOST Virtual Races. Joe has added four more races to reflect the last Stations of the LOST Dharma Initiative. Originally, I wanted to do the Couch to 5k, get back to running those and then run the last 7k, 8.15k, 9k and 10k stations.

If I can’t run right now, it’s time to get back to fitness walking. So my plan is to finish these stations by walking them, but not at a leisurely pace. I need to push myself!

So on Sunday, I completed the LOST 7k – Staff Station!

LOST Station 7 – Staff 7K

Complete!

What is your favorite way to eat pork chops?

Cheers~
Carrie

NatureBox – A New One {Review}

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Subscription Box Saturday

Somehow, somewhere, I got a deal on NatureBox. I completely forgot about it (despite the email that it shipped) until it showed up on my doorstep! So it was a nice little surprise.

What:

Each month, you receive “15 to 20 servings” (five full-sized packages) of healthy snacks. I like the fact the the quality standards of their snacks:

  • No High Fructose Corn Syrup
  • No Partially Hydrogenated Oils
  • No Trans Fats
  • No Artificial Sweeteners
  • No Artificial Flavors
  • No Artificial Colors

How much:

$19.95/month. After you receive your first box, you have the option to pick your own snacks. You can also upgrade and add snacks for an additional charge.

If you want more snacks (say for a family or party), you can get 10 full-sized snacks with the $29.95 Happy Snacker Box or 20 full-sized snacks with the $49.95 Smart Snacker Box.

Here is what I received in my first box:

NBContents

I gave some thought to the $20 per box for five snacks. That would make each of these bags $4, not including shipping. I could see each of these easily priced at $3.99 at the store, especially at an all-natural foods type store. So it isn’t a bad deal. Let’s go through each item:

I love almonds, so I opened these first. I love the blueberry flavor! I promptly started rationing them into snack bags for the coming weeks so that I didn’t overeat them. I’d get these again any day.

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Think Fritos, but better! I didn’t get many because Rob finished off the bag. Another winner! I loved how flavorful the spices were.

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I was looking forward to these, because you know how I love chocolate! I was highly disappointed. There was some cocoa flavor, but the texture was a little styrofoam-like, almost stale. I had Rob try them, just to see his reaction and find out his opinion. This is what he said:

“Where’s the frosting?”

Aha. That could be what’s missing. Not exactly a healthy snack anymore, though.

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I love rice crackers, so I really loved the flavor and crunch of these… at first. Rob said that they tasted like seaweed. Each time I had a serving, I liked them less and less.

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I love this combination of dried fruit. If you received these in a box where you received nuts or something, you could mix ’em up to make some trail mix. Some of the best dried fruit I’ve had.

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For the record, I served the remaining Teriyaki Twists and Cocoa Waffle Wafers at a party. They were still left at the end of the night.

I liked NatureBox, but in the end decided to cancel. I thought about giving the option to pick my own snacks a chance. It just seems like a lot of snacks for me to receive! I’d feel the need to be snacking all of the time and not necessarily on fruit and veggies. In order to cancel, I had to call customer service. They do not accept emailed requests to cancel. While they suggested I give the you-pick-’em snacks a chance, they were very kind about my decision to cancel. They did offer me a discount on my next month to stay, because you really do need to give something more than one shot before you fall in love. Such was the case with me and Sons of Anarchy, Downton Abbey and House of Cards. When I did Wine Tastings, I teach everyone that the first taste is never the true taste.

But alas, NatureBox and I have parted ways. However, if you are looking for some healthy, minimally processed snacks for your family, I would recommend NatureBox for the high quality. You may not love every snack, but you’ll get a chance to try new ones or just pick the ones you like if you want. They do offer specialty boxes and boxes for those who have dietary restrictions as well.

You can join now for 25% off your first box by using the code REFER25.

What is your favorite flavor of almond or favorite type of trail mix?

Cheers~
Carrie

Barrio Tequila Bar

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I’d been wanting to go to Barrio for a while.

I learned on a trip to Puerto Vallarta that I earned through The Traveling Vineyard, that I like tequila tasting as much as I like wine tasting. I also learned a thing or two about tequila.

  1. Jose Cuervo gets away with calling themselves tequila because they are 51% agave and 49% caramelized sugar. For that reason, it’s not a friend of MINE! {For the real deal, look for 100% agave instead.}
  2. I have expensive tastes in tequila.
  3. I was margarita’d out when I got home and thought I’d never have another one again.
  4. But give me some anejo on the rocks with a squeeze of lime and a splash of cointreau and I’m good.

Wow. I think that trip was back 2007. Time flies. I think I’ve recovered from no-margarita-ever-syndrome. But I still rarely drink them. Still, Barrio didn’t seem like a place where I could drag Rob. We’d always pass it by in Minneapolis while walking along Nicollet Mall. So when it was my turn to choose where to dine for girls’, night, I suggested Barrio.

There are three locations – one in Minneapolis, one in Edina and one in St. Paul. Based on where the three of us live, no location stood out as more convenient. So I chose St. Paul because, there, Barrio is situated in Lowertown. I figured that after dinner, if we weren’t really feeling Barrio, we could head over to the Bulldog for some brews, Bin Wine Bar if we wanted something more mellow or I could even return to FACES for a drink. They are all right within walking distance of each other, facing Mears Park.

We arrived early on a Saturday night and very few people were there. That’s because, well, it’s a bar and early on a Saturday night. However, there were still some really drunk people there at the table next to us! It had me wondering how long they were there.

Inside, it felt spacious and although it was still light out, I imagined it could feel a little dark and ominous in the evening. I loved the candelabra-styled chandeliers.

As much as I would have liked to try one of their tequila flights {they have a whole menu of tequilas!}, none of us really have that kind of dough to throw around at the moment, especially with my expensive tastes! So we each opted for one of their fun tequila cocktails instead.

Kim’s:

Mama Cita Hibiscus margarita with pineapple and orange juices, cabrito blanco and a splash of cava ...9.5

Mama Cita
Hibiscus margarita with pineapple and orange juices, cabrito
blanco and a splash of cava – $9.50

Mine (almost gone!)

Macho Comacho Blood orange margarita made with ancho infused tequila and a splash of cava ... 1 0

Macho Comacho
Blood orange margarita made with ancho infused tequila
and a splash of cava – $10

Jen’s:

Cesar Chavez Our champion margarita with cabrito reposado, mandarine napoleon and orange ... 1 0

Cesar Chavez
Champion margarita with cabrito reposado, mandarine
napoleon and orange – $10

Of the three, I liked mine the best! I can’t believe how perfectly balanced the chile was in the drink. You could definitely tell it was there, but it was neither overpowering nor too subtle.

The menu isn’t very large and most of it consist of appetizers, small plates and tacos. All of the flavor descriptions sounded like they knew what they were talking about when it comes to elevating Mexican cuisine. We each decided on one small item and then chose to share a couple of small plates, too. The food came out randomly, just as if you are to order tapas.

Kim chose:

Sugarcane Skewered Tequila Shrimp • tequila, lemon and ginger marinated shrimp are grilled and served with lemon mojo ...7.5

Sugarcane Skewered Tequila Shrimp
tequila, lemon and ginger marinated shrimp are grilled and served with
lemon mojo – $7.50

Jen and I each ordered a taco:

Barrio4

Pork Carnitas Taco
duroc pork shoulder slow cooked in cinnamon and orange with salsa verde, onion and cilantro – $4.50

That is my kind of taco, with the dual corn tortillas with which to wrap the filling. They make me think of what a street taco should be like. We’ve had similar ones at Chino Latino. And there’s something about shredded pork with salsa verde and cilantro that I always love!

Then we got a few plates to share:

Grilled Chicken Chimichurri • skewered chicken is marinated in chimichurri and served with a mango-black bean salad ...8.5

Grilled Chicken Chimichurri
skewered chicken marinated in chimichurri and served with a mango-black
bean salad – $8.50

The chicken on these skewers was way over-charred. That is all I could taste. That’s really sad because chimichurri has such a lovely, fresh flavor that would have made this chicken sing. The black bean side salad was good and would have rounded this dish out perfectly if it weren’t for the lasting char flavor.

And I thought I’d love these since I once learned how much I love the spice of guajillo chiles:

Adobo Grilled Chicken Quesadilla guajillo, chipotle and garlic marinated chicken filled flour tortilla with queso oaxaca, roasted corn and poblano peppers ...8.5

Adobo Grilled Chicken Quesadilla
guajillo, chipotle and garlic marinated chicken filled flour tortilla with queso
oaxaca, roasted corn and poblano peppers – $8.50

I was right! The have the perfect balance of flavor and heat! I think the poblano peppers added something extra, too. I would highly recommend the quesadillas here. Okay, so if I’m in Lowertown, St. Paul and craving quesadillas, how am I to choose between Barrio and The Bulldog?!

And as I suspected, we were feeling a little mellow, so we opted to head over to Bin for a glass of wine afterward. But alas, they were closed for a private event. We enjoyed our after dinner drinks at FACES instead.

I think Barrio is a great place for groups. If you are eating {or just need to soak up some of that tequila!}, there’s lots of stuff to share. And if you like to tequila and fun cocktails, you won’t be disappointed.

They do have happy hour pricing on food and beverages and offer private party menus, too.

My husband is not a fan of sharing plates with others when dining out.

What is your stance?

Do you like to split appetizers and dishes to try many things?

OR

Would you prefer to keep your plate to yourself?

Cheers~
Carrie

A Year in Review… And a Magical One Begins

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It’s been a year.

Rob’s parents sent a nice card this week. My mother-in-law wrote a note that I should only do what I truly want to do today. I loved that message. If I would have thought ahead, I would taken the day off of work. 😉

But despite that, I am going to make it the best day possible. I’ve recently learned a new way of life. It’s something that I can’t believe has taken me this long to realize.

Before I get to that, let’s go back to what I posted last year – the list of what I *thought* I wanted to do by now. Boy have things changed! A lot of the list is running-related because I was in full swing at the time. Let’s take a look at what I’ve completed, what I haven’t, where I may have changed my mind and what I’d still like to do.

This list was written 9/26/12:

  • Do a Beer Run – I still would like to do this one day. They look so casual and fun.
  • Do a Color RunCOMPLETE!
  • Complete a 5-mile raceCOMPLETE! It was one of my slowest, but happiest races.
  • Incorporate weight-lifting into my fitness routine – Not even close.
  • Run a 10k race – Running is off the table for a while.
  • Take a trip abroad to a country I’ve never been – We travel somewhere internationally every year. This year, however, with two weeks off for back surgery and, well, less money due to said surgery that left little resources to go abroad in 2013. However, holding off scheduling an international trip meant that when I learned about a friend’s wedding in L.A. that I can attend and will extend a little vacation there!
  • Use my Bahamas Cruise Gift CertificateYou can read about that trip here. I guess that could have counted as international.
  • Reach my goal weight – Ouch. The hard truth is that I lost almost half the weight I wanted to over the course of a year. Since my back surgery, I’ve gained 12 pounds back. No excuse. I know what to do. I just can’t do it running right now. It’s time to adapt.
  • Read more booksYES! Among them include:
    • The Hunger Games series
    • 50 Shades series (Yes, I had to find out what the hype was a about. But if I see the word “murmur” one more time…)
    • Through a Dog’s Eyes
    • In a Dog’s Heart
    • Stuff Parisians Like
    • Histoire de Z’idiote This one’s in French, but I don’t recommend it. It’s about a little shih poo that looks just like Sophie! It was fun to read to feel like I haven’t lost all of my French, but the book was very bizarre! I am still grateful that Rob found it and I had the opportunity to read it.
  • Run around Lake CalhounNo, but I walked it and then some.
  • Run in Eau Claire, WI – No. Running is off the to-do list for the time being.
  • Run the Challenge Obesity 5k in AprilWell, I didn’t run it, but I did walk it post-surgery!
  • Write more concise posts – Even if I tried to convince you of this, you probably wouldn’t agree. 😉
  • Create a written bucket list – I’ve come to realize that I don’t need this. If there is something I really want to do, it’ll be on my mind. That’s all that matters! A vision board is more suitable. Visualization is key!
  • Organize Rob’s favorite recipes in one place – COMPLETE! Reluctantly, I joined Pinterest, but only for organization of favorite recipes and those we want to try.
  • Do something {even a little something} for someone else – every single day – I don’t even know how I could begin to measure this.
  • Organize Music – NOPE. A winter project perhaps?
  • Put together a wedding and honeymoon album – NOPE. Add that to the list of wanting to put together a photo album of our trip to Ireland for my in-laws. I’ve been meaning to do that for months. It’s a matter of organizing all of the photos and selecting the best with a slooooooowwww computer.

This year, I’m not putting together such a list. Not because I feel like I’ve failed or that these are like resolutions, but because I’m learning more and more about gratitude.

For the first time, ever, in my life, I’m filling up a journal. I’m not talking about this little public weblog journal I have of favorite places to eat and such around the Twin Cities metro. I’m talking about a real, hand-written journal. A friend gave me this leather-bound journal at my bridal shower a few years back. I’ve recently labeled it as my:

gratitude journalIt sat empty, without a marked page until February of this year. I was afraid to write in it, afraid to ruin another journal. You see, over the years, I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve started a journal. But it always made me feel bad. The words I permanently penned to the page were harsh and embarrassing to look back upon after the fact.

They were so negative.

You see, I thought journaling was supposed to be about that. I thought by writing my thoughts and feelings that I would feel better… that I would work out whatever it was that was bothering me whenever I ran into a challenge in my life.

But I was wrong.

Instead, I felt worse. And later, I always felt ashamed by what I had written. So many journal pages have been torn up. Journals themselves were thrown away because a few pages were tainted. I wanted to start fresh with a new one.,, with new words… to begin a new chapter in life. This never worked.

Until I started writing about gratitude.

journal

This journal is now three-quarters full. I’ve never kept a journal this long. At the beginning, I didn’t journal in it every day. In fact, I went months without doing so. But when I came back to it, I didn’t feel the need to start over. I didn’t feel ashamed, guilty or negative about anything written in it.

So I’m focusing this year on Gratitude.

I’ve been reading the book The Magic, by Rhonda Byrne. You know, the author of The Secret. I’ve always loved learning about the Law of Attraction and I even have the audiobook as well as that of The Power. However, I was never quite sure how to implement everything. Sure, there were suggestions. But I needed structure. The Magic gives me homework every day for thirty days. Yes, I’ve started and stopped the book a few times. But there are two practices in it that I now use every day.

And even those have changed my life.

And let me tell, you my world is a better place, no matter what is going on in my life. Because no matter how difficult things may be, there is always something for which to be grateful.

Today, I’m grateful for another year.

Cheers~
Carrie

Winehaven

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Happy Wine Wednesday!

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve had trouble finding Minnesota wines that I’ve liked. I’m a little snobbish about wine, but not entirely. It’s just a difficult climate in which to grow grapes, even with the University of Minnesota attempting to develop those to withstand the elements here.

Winehaven

But winemakers have attempted such in every state. There is a winery in every single state in the U.S.! When a couple of girlfriends and I went wine tasting around Minnesota about ten years ago {I can’t believe I met my husband ten years ago last Thursday!}, I was quite disappointed. I had tried much better wines in Wisconsin! It could have had something to do with the fact that, at that time, I was just delving into my wine education and really learning what makes a wine great.

But then I found Winehaven, a little winery in Chisago City, about 40 miles north of the Twin Cities. We tasted wines in what I remember to be a small room in a little red building right on site of the vineyards. I also remember taking about a case of wine home with me that day.

I was quite excited to go back when my friend Jared announced that he would be getting married there! Rob hadn’t been there yet and I thought it would be a great opportunity to do some tasting, too.

However, things at Winehaven have changed! Just this July, they opened up a new (HUGE) tasting room with seating indoors and out where you can relax and enjoy some wine.

winehavenRob and I showed up before the ceremony to do some tasting and to wander around a bit. I would say, while there are some overly-sweet, cater-to-the-fruit-wine-crowd wines on the menu, there are also a couple that kind of impressed me! I thought that would be impossible in Minnesota.

We went home with the following:

Winehaven WineI’m generally not a fan of wine produced from cold-climate grapes. Namely, the ones developed by the University of Minnesota. However, Winehaven’s 2012 Marquette Reserve was my favorite of the day. It reminded me of a deep, bold zin or syrah with a hint of spice. It’s the closest thing you’ll come to California or Pacific Northwest wine quality in MN. (Or at least since I’ve last tasted!) This one’s a silver medal winner.

Rob’s favorite was the Nokomis. This is a grape varietal developed by the family at Winehaven themselves! It produces another drier wine that gives veteran red wine drinkers something to enjoy.

We rounded out our purchase with one of our favorites – PORT. Oh how we love it, so. For us, it’s a little dangerous because it’s high in alcohol. We love the flavor so much that it’s difficult to have just one small glass as dessert or after a meal.  Many ports or dessert wines are sold in half-sized bottles. This one is not!

Correct me if you know better, but I believe that the Grapewinds® Port is made with the Chisago grape, the other grape developed by Winehaven! While it wasn’t my favorite alone, as a fortified wine, I’m in love. It’s rich and luscious and everything I want in a port. It has won awards in San Francisco and the Finger Lakes on at least four separate occasions.

Like most other small wineries throughout The States, Winehaven offers a wide array of fruit wines, as well. By fruit wines, I mean wines made from fruits other than grapes. It’s a really good place to start if you are a newbie wine drinker. Fruit wines can be appreciated in their own right.

But Winehaven is well-known for their mead. That’s right, honey wine. Hence, their cute bee logo you see above! Their experience with honey goes back decades. If you’ve never had mead, you must try it.

But enough about the wines we tried. There was a reason we took in the lovely scenery that beautiful day…

It was the perfect setting for a wedding! My friend Jared married the love of his life on that beautiful September day at Winehaven. I was grateful to have been there. My husband thinks I’m a little obsessed about weddings. But there’s nothing better than seeing the happiness of two people in love while they are experiencing one of the best days of their lives. Especially if it’s one of your close friends or family members.

Here’s one of my favorite photos I snapped while they led us down the pathway through the trees at they winery.

Congratulations, Jared & Matt!

Congratulations, Jared & Matt!

What do you think of your local wineries?

Any favorite wineries or favorite and/or unique wines you’ve found?

Cheers~

Carrie

Devil’s Advocate {Closed}

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This one is long overdue.

We first heard about Devil’s Advocate via a Groupon about a year ago. We’ve been back probably a half of a dozen times since and we don’t live anywhere near downtown Minneapolis. What impressed us first was their rotating tap selection. It’s one of the best in the Twin Cities. On our first visit, the bartender told us that they only get one keg of each beer. So once it’s gone, they switch it up. It’s constantly changing.

Devil's Advocate is the first place where I've had a lambic (frit beer) on tap.

Devil’s Advocate – the 1st place where I’ve had a lambic fruit beer on tap.

We’ve returned on a few occasions, like when we had company in town and wanted to walk around Nicollet Mall {DA is located just a block off Nicollet on 10th Street} and for a late lunch/early dinner reward after our LOST 15k walk. We love to go on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon when there aren’t any big events going on downtown, like a Twins game.

The thing is, I didn’t post on this gem before they changed their menu!

It used to be a nearly all-meatball menu, where you’d choose the protein source of your balls and then the sauce:

Balls & SauceThen you’d choose the number of balls. You could opt for a bowl of balls or ball(s) on a bun.

Number of BallsIt’s one of the few restaurants in the Twin Cities that I know of where you can find my beloved pretzel bun!

That is why I always find myself ordering triple balls:

Pork Balls on a Pretzel BunAfter determining the pork balls were my favorite on the first visit, I continued to order them each time. They are well-seasoned with a nice little kick of spice on the finish. However, my in-laws found them a tad spicy. While I didn’t consider them spicy the first time I had them, I see what they mean. A word of caution for those of you who don’t like too much spice: These meatballs may be considered a bit spicy for Minnesotans. I think that it’s the mushroom sauce that I liked best, too. The sandwich is finished with melted mozzarella. I can’t tell you how satisfying this is. And I never order meatball sandwiches. In fact, it’s not something I ever think of ordering and I probably never would have if they wouldn’t have started out as a meatball joint.

And if you couldn’t make up your mind, they also gave some combo suggestions for their balls:

CombosAnd if you weren’t particularly in the mood for meatballs, there were always appetizers and daily specials:

C-Appetizers

We’ve tried the poutine and mac and cheese

…neither of which were particularly impressive. However, the meat covering the fries is the same meat that is used for their pork balls. That’s a plus.

Rob has also ordered the burger, which he described as “average.”

Burger~

But then, earlier this month, I received an email in my inbox with a link to an article entitled:

“Devil’s Advocate:

This is the Best Philly Cheesesteak in all the Twin Cities”

I didn’t even remember seeing a Philly Cheesesteak on their menu. Then I read the article and learned that their menu had changed. I wasn’t sure how I felt about that. I liked those meatballs! I sent the article to Rob. He was excited about the new menu and was determined to be the judge of the Philly Cheesesteak himself.

So we did the research…

On a couple of occasions, we had thought that maybe the beer selection at Devil’s Advocate was going downhill. But on this visit, we realized it was our palates that didn’t match the selection on those occasions. Because on this visit, we fell back in love…

Here's one side of the ever-changing beer mendu

This is just the front side of the ever-changing beer menu…

Beers are listed in alpha order by brewery. Let’s zoom in.

Glass SizeYou’ll find the beer listed this way:

Brewer, Name and type and/or style of beerorigin price

Then you get a nice description, which we’ve found, while subjective, is generally pretty accurate. The % ABV is the percentage of Alcohol By Volume. Then they list the style or size of glass in which the beer is served.

Hint: Higher alcohol beers are often served in smaller glasses.

Tip: If you aren’t sure if you are going to like a beer, ask for a taste before you order.

There were so many beers that suited us this time around!

Here’s Rob’s first choice:

Jubilation

Avery, Old Jubilation (Strong Ale) – Boulder, CO

I started with:

Slop Bucket

McNeill’s, Slop Bucket (Double Brown Ale) – Brattleboro, VT

We ordered those before we had a chance to peruse the entire beer menu. And before we even took our first sips, we spotted something on tap that we completely missed!

Then we PumKing

Southern Tier, Pumking (Imperial Pumpkin Ale) – Lakewood, NY

By now, you should know how much we adore this beer. The funny thing is that we aren’t huge into pumpkin-flavored things normally. In fact, I get a little pumpkin-ed out in the blogosphere by winter.

And while there are still meatballs incorporated into the menu, they are no longer the focus:

DAnew1I was looking at ordering the Meatball Hero, but the descriptions are pretty vague. So I asked about the pork balls I loved and if they still had the pretzel bun.

“Yes!” the bartended exclaimed. “That’s our Holy Grail!” I hadn’t even noticed that on the menu. Somehow, I overlooked it. And there is no way I would have known it was on a pretzel bun by that description.

It was heaven.

asdas

HOLY GRAIL – pork meatballs, mushroom, sunday gravy {on a pretzel bun!}

I’m not sure how many meatball sandwiches there are in the Twin Cities, nor do I think I’ve ever ordered one anywhere else. But I’d still have to say this is the best. I was so completely satisfied after this meal. It was near perfection. And that side salad up there? One of the best I’ve had. I subbed it for the fries, which are currently on Rob’s Top 10 Fries List, but I think he may be changing that soon.

And now, what you’ve really been waiting for…

DAnew

Philly Cheesesteak – “South Street Real Deal”

Rob actually let me have a couple of bites of this Philly Cheesesteak, which he agrees is the Best in All the Twin Cities. I concur myself. The bread is crusty on the outside, chewy on the inside and it seems that some of the cheese sauce is poured down on the bread before the meat is laid upon it. Then the meat is topped with the cheese sauce. Even if that isn’t how it’s done, the cheese is so well-distributed that that’s how it tastes like it’s done.

Rob loved the Cheesesteak at the Bulldog in St. Paul just the week before, but this one is even better. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that it’s perfection.

It was either Groupon or another deal site that introduced us to Devil’s Advocate; but it’s the satisfying food and excellent beer selection that keep us coming back.

What meal do you find comforting and satisfying?

Cheers~
Carrie

I Took a Walk…

Standard

It was 4pm on Sunday. We just suffered a Packer loss. It was a rough, close game that shouldn’t have been. We just returned from the Buffalo Tap. But it was an absolutely gorgeous day.

So I decided to go for a walk.

I posted last week that I had decided to stop running in hopes that would alleviate some back pain. I was right. However, I knew I had to keep moving somehow, even if it wasn’t at the same same intensity level. My plan was to walk just one mile every day. I figured that it was a start and I know that walking is the best thing I can do for my back.

I had some rough days. I had some days where that one mile was very challenging. I had a day where my legs hurt almost as bad as The Worst Day before my diagnosis and inevitable back surgery. And I most certainly didn’t keep up with walking just one mile every day.

But I did feel better as the week went on. And knowing that one mile per day equated to just seven miles for the entire week, I was determined on Sunday to finish what I had started.

Only, I walked just two miles the entire week.

Only, I can’t remember the time I walked five miles.

Only, my iPhone was dead.

But I went anyway. I stepped out the door with just a written route and water bottle in hand, along with my thoughts. I had no music, no podcosts, no iPhone to keep me company. Earlier, I had serious thoughts of walking on the treadmill and watching a movie to keep my mind occupied over the five miles.

However, there was no way I was giving up the last day of summer in Minnesota with it’s perfect sunshine and 78-degree and breezy weather. I stepped out with no time, no pace in mind. I had no electronic gadgets to gauge me, not even a watch. I was determined to walk for the pure enjoyment of it.

It was heavenly.

I enjoyed the scent of fresh air. The kind that you open the windows for, but then snuggle under the covers in the fall. In fact, the scents where my favorite part of the entire walk! Occasionally, I’d get the scent of burgers on the grill, or lighter fluid igniting charcoal, or someone cutting the grass or laying fresh mulch.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon. Despite the beautiful weather, not many people were out. I like to count dogs to pass the time while I’m running or walking and during this walk, I only counted seven. Perhaps people were enjoying the last few weekends up at their cabins. Maybe they were napping the afternoon away. I saw and heard no televisions, so I couldn’t imagine that many were inside watching football. The Vikings had already suffered a loss that day as well.

I completed nearly five miles. And when I returned and looked a the clock, I Had been gone for an hour and twenty minutes, about ten minutes longer than my first five-mile race.

Boy does it feel good to walk.

~

Now it’s time for:

planning

This week was all about the audibles!

Food:

Fitness:

Seven miles total (over three days.)

What’s in store this week?

Food:

Fitness:

Increase my walking mileage by 10% (round to the nearest half mile.) Therefore, my goal is to walk 8 miles. Sounds simple, but I’ve got to listen to my body. I don’t want to get injured again!

So, in looking at my meals this week….

If you had to choose, would you go to Heidi’s or Louis Ristorante and what would you order?

Which of chili recipes over at My Bizzy Kitchen would you try?

Have a great week!

Cheers~
Carrie