Monthly Archives: March 2014

The Roasted Tomato Dressing that I Want to Pour over Everything

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know by now that I absolutely, positively loooooooooovvvvvvveeee tomatoes. With a capital L.

Last week, I discovered this Roasted Tomato Dressing.

And now I want to pour it on everything.

I could eat it with a spoon. That’s dangerous though. With all of that olive oil in it, it’s only meant to be a dressing. So I tried to make it count. I spooned some over my greens. I put a dollop on my 90-Second Egg Sandwich. I put a couple of generous spoonfuls over a nice medium-rare sirloin steak. Mmmm…

I can’t even begin to tell you how good this is.

If you like tomatoes as much as I do…

You. Must. Make This. NOW.

I did change the recipe, slightly, though. Here’s what I did:

  • Realizing that I was out of red wine vinegar, I used the Champagne balsamic that I had on hand. I’m sure that gives it a somewhat different flavor. But I’d like to try it with lots of different vinegars to change it up. Or do I? I love it the way it is.
  • I did not add garlic because I used garlic-infused olive oil when roasting the tomatoes.
  • I used my high quality Italian Extra Virgin Olive Oil when I drizzled it into my food processor. This is not exactly a change, per se. But I try to use my best quality as a finishing oil, not always for cooking.

Now I want to experiment with it. Or do I? It’s Perfect. Just the Way It Is…

Some thoughts:

  • Try using different vinegars.
  • Try using almond oil. {I received some for Christmas and have yet to use it.}
  • Change the ratio of olive oil to tomatoes to lighten it up a bit.
  • Perhaps even turn it into an awesome tomato sauce??

The last one reminded me of Jodi’s Bowl of Love that I once read about. I currently stick to a jarred version that I know is high in sugar and sodium. But we haven’t found anything else to win us over and replace the old standby. But if I can cut or eliminate the oil in this baby, I might have the perfect tomato sauce!

If my Roasted Tomato Dressing discovery wasn’t enough… Later in the week, this recipe was delivered to my inbox: Chicken with a Tomato-Ginger Vinaigrette. I was totally seduced. Coincidence? I think not… I think I know what I”m making the next time I have the girls over for dinner!

Now it’s time for:

 

planning

Food

*This week, I’m trying out Plated. It’s a service that delivers all of the necessary fresh, ingredients {except for a basic few that you should already have on hand} to your door along with the recipes. I’ve been watching it for months now, but wanted to make sure there were two meals that I could make for Rob before testing it out. I also got 50% off my first two dishes for two people. You can, too, by clicking here. I’ll review next week!

Dinners:

Lunch:

  • Salsa Caprese
  • Quick & Easy Bowls I’m going to change up my usual Mexican concoction with an Italian one:
    1. Base – handful of spinach or other greens
    2. Grain/Starch – I was going to add 1/3 cup of pasta, but I’m thinking if I do a cold salad, I’m going to just double the protein
    3. Protein – 1/2 can garbanzo beans, drained
    4. Veggies – 1/3 can Italian diced tomatoes, drained and 1/3 onion sauteed with 1 zucchini
    5. FatFeta – using a light cheese because my sauce is made with lots of olive oil!
    6. SauceRoasted Tomato Dressing…. YAAYAYYAYAYAYYAYA!!!!
  • Snacks – fruit, string cheese and dark chocolate

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 3, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 3, Day 2
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 3, Day 3
  • Sunday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga

What is your favorite homemade dressing?

What is your favorite tomato sauce recipe?

Cheers~
Carrie

One Year Ago Today…

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On year ago today…

…a Shamrock was delivered to us.

This Shamrock:

Shamrock's first night in his forever home.

Shamrock’s first night in his forever home.

We chose to adopt him on a whim. To read more about that story, click here.

Sophie and Shamrock became fast friends…

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Shamrock was pretty nervous around Rob at first. Men scare him, especially men in hats. It took at least a few months for Sham to warm up to Rob. Now they are buds. But we still think Sophie will always be Sham’s favorite. 😉 They play all the time! He’s been the perfect addition to our family.

There are so many pets waiting to be rescued from shelters, just like those where we found Shamrock and Sophie. Please consider adoption when finding your next pet.

If you think you can’t rescue a purebred or a puppy, think again. Read these facts about shelter dogs that might change what you think.

Cheers to one year with our Bugaboo!
~ Carrie

Spooning the River…

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I never did post on the time we had a girls’ night dining at Sea Change, a restaurant known for its sustainable seafood and one of the Top Chefs in America last year. Maybe it’s because I was savoring a rare evening dining at a seafood restaurant. Or maybe it’s just a given to dine there. It’s a well-known, top Minneapolis restaurant and perfect if you are seeing a show at The Guthrie Theater {affectionately just called The Guthrie around these parts} and want a nice, swanky night out.

But if you are looking for a place that is just as tasty, but more casual, head yourself across the street to Spoonriver. Located just next to the Mill City Farmers Market, Spoonriver is a restaurant serving local, organic and sustainable fare with lots of options for vegetarians.

Even after the few times I’ve walked past the place, it took us a Groupon Living Social deal to get us there. Truth be told, I wasn’t really sure what the place was about. The deal prompted me to visit their website to read more about them and check out the menu online. I was sold.

What really took me by surprise was the list of craft cocktails at Spoonriver. I knew I’d be ordering one, but which one to choose? I narrowed it down to two: the Pear Ginger Martini (house infused ginger vodka, La Poire Grey Goose, Cointreau, Domaine Canton, Prosecco) and the Elderberry Negroni (Miller’s Gin, MN Elderberry juice, Campari, sweet vermouth.) {Yes, I bypassed all of those St. Germain cocktails on the menu. I wanted something different!}

Our knowledgeable bartender noted that the Pear Ginger Martini would be a sweeter and the Elderberry Negroni would be tart. So what did I do? Since Rob was driving, I sipped on the Elderberry Negroni before dinner and had the Pear Ginger as dessert! {At the advice of our bartender again, of course. I know, she twisted my arm.}

Elderberry Negroni

Elderberry Negroni

I have to say that the drinks were beautiful! Since we were sitting at the bar, we had the opportunity not only to see all of the cocktails being made, but also smell them! I kept thinking, “I wonder what that is? It smells so good!”

Rob’s choice was the Ophelia – Tanqueray Gin, Grand Marnier, Creme de Violette, lemon.

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Ophelia

Have you ever had Creme de Violette before? We’ve tried it once, in an Aviation at the old Nick & Eddie. {Oh how we miss that place!} Creme de Violette made from very specific violets and is very hard to find. So when Rob saw a cocktail with it on the menu, it was an easy choice.

We got to Spoonriver early, but the place started getting busy quickly. The restaurant is long and narrow, which gave me the impression, at first, that it was bigger than it really is. Make sure you either get there early or make a reservation.

For a moment, I felt like I was at the airport, because I noticed a kiosk with items available to-go. These are perfect for impromptu picnics along the river! What a fantastic idea. But who knows about these?

The food really does shine here, too. Rob found his Grass-Fed Burger quite tasty and impressive, despite the tortilla chips on the side. Not only did I find my Savory Crêpe Special of the Day delicious, but beautiful, too. Inside was warm goat cheese goodness with some veggies and flavorful herbs. I didn’t think to snap a picture until I already dug into this delight that reminded me of France:

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Apparently, during the Farmers Market hours, Spoonriver has an outdoor stand where they offer their sweet and savory crêpes as well. I wouldn’t turn one of those down.

One of the things I like about Living Social, is that sometimes after you’ve redeemed a voucher, they send an email asking what you thought of the restaurant. I gave the restaurant a “Thumbs Up” and commented, “The most colorful plates I’ve ever seen. The food was superb and love the cocktail menu! Thanks.”

I think this is the first time I ever got a reply from the restaurant!

Thank you for your kind words, Carrie! We’re happy to hear you had a positive experience dining at Spoonriver & enjoyed our creative plating :). I’ll pass along the compliments about our cocktails list to our Bartenders as well. We hope to see you again soon! Sincerely, Katie, Manager  

I don’t know whether the name Spoonriver was given because the restaurant is off the Mississippi {just a short walk!} or because you’ll be  spooning up some yummy goodness along said river in Minneapolis. Or maybe it’s for another reason entirely. All I know is that high quality, affordable, delicious meals and cocktails can be had here, whether you are taking a walk along the river, enjoying the Farmers Market or are off to a show.

Tip: Arrive early for dinner and then take your chances on “rush” tickets at The Guthrie!

 Question for you:

Crêpes – Sweet or Savory?

Cheers~
Carrie

The Tangiers & The Martini

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I have no photos for today’s post because, frankly, the photos I’d take of The Tangiers would not do this gorgeous venue any justice. It was dark when we arrived, too, which created the perfect ambiance. But I do highly recommend that you click here and take the “Tour” of The Tangiers to see how beautiful it truly is…

What drew us to this place? A Groupon… for dinner. But it definitely has a more lounge-like vibe to it. In fact, on Saturdays, it doesn’t open until 6pm. We had no idea what to expect or how busy it would be, so we arrived at opening.

The extravagant decor absolutely wowed us.

I felt like we were stepping back into the 20s. Rob commented how there had to be a lot of money in the leather alone. The lighting created the perfect ambiance for a backdrop of a romantic date. Although, I have no idea what the place is like during the busiest hours… Is it calm and relaxed? Does the music change to something more upbeat that would turn this lounge into more of a club?

But we were there for the food.

At first glance,  when walking in to such gorgeously stunning space with luscious red velvet curtains, sparkling chandeliers, rich leather couches, you’d think the food here was an afterthought.

But it’s not.

As usual, we pulled a couple of seats up to the bar. And because I felt like I was entering the era of The Great Gatsby, I knew this was a place for a cocktail. {They call these “potions” during Happy Hour. I love that!}  In fact, there is even a martini on the menu called The James Gatsby made with Maker’s Mark, simple syrup and mint leaves. I chose the signature cocktail – The Tangiers with vodka, prosecco and, yes, you guessed it – St. Germain.

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A little sidebar here… Speaking of St. Germain and speaking of the 20s, a couple of weeks ago we got The Great Gatsby on Netflix. Rob surprised me by picking up ingredients and making cocktails to complement the film. My man really knows me, because this is what he made:

Left Bank Martini

1½ parts Gin
1 part St-Germain
1 part Sauvignon Blanc

Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled Martini glass. Garnish with a lime zest twist, if desired.

Well, I loves me a dirty martini from time to time, too. But sometimes, they are just a little too dangerous. The Left Bank was, too, if only because they were so delicious! But the room wasn’t spinning. That was Baz Luhrmann‘s camera work.

~

The menu at The Tangiers is very small. When I looked for it online, I thought that what I found was maybe just their bar menu or a sampling of their dishes. But that was it. It didn’t matter to me. There was only one thing I was looking to try:

Burrata Salad

“Heirloom tomatoes and avocado tossed with basil served with a rich cream-infused mozzarella ball”

Now I absolutely adore Burrata, but the way that this was presented and the marriage of flavors made me fall in love with it all over again. For being in the middle of winter, I was quite impressed by the ripeness and flavor of the tomatoes, too.

Rob ordered The Tangiers Flatbread – pulled pork, diced onions, housemade barbecue sauce drizzled with Sriracha aioli – which he thought would be just an appetizer before going elsewhere. But he found it so delicious that it filled him up. And he didn’t even eat all of it!

Have I mentioned yet how much I loved the decor and ambiance here? I kind of wanted to stay to find out what the place ended up like as it got busier… But that would be way, too many martinis. In any case, it was a cool place to feel like we stepped back in time and that we were experiencing a little bit of elegance, even if only for a little while.

The Tangiers would make a lovely stop for a romantic date. It might also be fun to treat some out-of-town guests for a cocktail. But I’m not sure I could walk in The Tangiers for just a drink.

There’s no doubt that I would have to get the Burrata.

What is your favorite kind of martini?

Cheers~
Carrie

 

How to Open a Bottle of Wine with a Book

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No corkscrew?

Did you know that you can open a bottle of wine with just a book?

Kristin Espinasse of French-Word-a-Day.com shows you how in this two-minute video:

Happy Wine Wednesday!

Cheers~
Carrie

My 3 Favorite Smoothies (Food & Fitness Link-up)

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I don’t know when it was that I started drinking smoothies. Maybe when I started running? When I started reading blogs? I don’t have them every day because sometimes I’d rather have something savory. They are also ideal the day after you’ve had one too many cocktails because they are chock full of nutrients! And they can kind of taste like ice cream. 😉

For me, the key to a great smoothie is the ease of putting it together. Five ingredients or less is ideal.

Here are my top three favorites:

1) Magic Green Smoothie – I got his one from  Kim at Living Laughing and Losing. It’s the one I make the most because it is made of just five ingredients and they are ones I almost always have on hand. I think the consistency is perfect and the cinnamon is what really kicks it up a notch!

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 1 Tbsp Almond Butter (or favorite nut butter of choice)
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk (or milk of choice)
  • 1 cup spinach
  • 1 tsp cinnamon (or Chinese Five Spice)
  • Optional: 1 tsp honey (or sweetener of choice)
Magic Smoothie Ingredients: 1 tsp honey, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk, 1 Tbsp PB {I was out of almond butter!}, 1 cup spinach, 1/2 frozen banana

Magic Smoothie Ingredients

2) Strawberry Cheesecake Smoothie – I found this at a time when I had some cream cheese to use up and found some graham crackers leftover in the back of my pantry. I also happened to have strawberries on hand. But I think blueberries and raspberries would make an excellent cheesecake smoothie, too. 😉

3) PB & J Smoothie – This one was a recent discovery for me. It tastes just like PB & J! Another reason it’s great is that it’s one of the few smoothies that doesn’t require a banana. So it’s perfect when I’m all out of those. I do add about a teaspoon of honey as a sweetener, though.

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Smoothie Tips:

~ Use frozen bananas. Then you don’t have to worry about ice. When my bananas get too ripe, I peel and cut up each one up into 10 pieces and lay all of the pieces flat in a zip lock bag and date it before putting it the freezer. This way, I know that a half of a banana is about five pieces. When I’m ready to make my smoothie, I just take out five pieces and plop them into my food processor.

~ When you have spinach that is on the brink of going bad, make a smoothie! One day, when I had nearly a whole bag of spinach about to go bad, I had the genius idea of dumping it into a ziploc bag for freezing. It stopped the spoiling process and the frozen spinach works just as well. This way, I have it on hand at all times, too!

~ Clean out your blender immediately. I use a food processor to make my smoothies. But it is really hard to clean later after it’s been sitting all day. So after I empty my smoothie into a glass, I immediately rinse every piece of my food processor. It takes about two to three minutes but saves me the headache of having to scrub it later.

~ Up the fiber/nutrient content. I love smoothies because they are vitamin-packed. They are generally made with fruit, sometimes a vegetable and often a nut butter protein. You can increase the nutrient level by adding things like chia seeds or flax seeds.

~ Check out this tutorial on How to Make the Perfect Green Smoothie. It offers up ratios of fruit to greens to liquid, etc. so that you can make a smoothie with whatever you prefer or have on hand.

Now it’s time for…

planning

Food

Dinners:

  • Monday – Am I crazy? I have some sauerkraut on hand that my cousin Stacie canned that I’m anxious to use. When I came across this recipe for Pierogies made from scratch, I had the urge to attempt to make them… and pair them with steak. I’ll ask again – Am I crazy? My husband loves the Steak and Pierogies at The Lowry. There is no way my first attempt will ever live up!
  • Tuesday & Wednesday – Rob requested Croque Madames this week. Only, I’ll use some English muffins. Do you have a favorite style or recipe of croque monsiers/madames? At first I thought I’d serve them with some simple mixed greens tossed with a lovely vinaigrette just like in France. But then I found this recipe for Roasted Tomato Dressing. There’s a pint of grape tomatoes in my fridge begging to be used for this purpose.
  • Thursday – Leftovers
  • Friday – TBD
  • Saturday – TBD
  • Sunday – TBD

Lunch:

Breakfasts:

Fitness

  • Monday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 2, Day 1
  • Tuesday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga
  • Wednesday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 2, Day 2
  • Thursday – REST
  • Friday – REST
  • Saturday – RUN: Couch to 5k – Week 2, Day 3
  • Sunday – Recumbent Bike/Yoga

What is your favorite smoothie?

Cheers~
Carrie

Snowball Sham

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Sophie / Shamrock Saturday

While the first official day of spring may have come and gone, we all know that here in Minnesota that we have about another two to four weeks of it.

Or, like last year… We had snow in May.

Or like two years ago… It was 75 degrees on St. Paddy’s Day.

So we really never know.

We’ve had some 40-degree weather. Yay! However, it did snow this week. And we are “looking forward” to 20-degree weather this weekend. Trust me, I’m not complaining. It’s not 20 or 30 below!

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The snow we had this week was the packing kind. So wet. When I got home from work on Wednesday, I followed my usual routine of letting the pooches out, feeding them and then letting them out again.

When they came back in, it was time to play. I had Shamrock doing his usual Prairie Dog stunt…

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But something was looking a little strange…

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Shamrock had been running through the snow. He loves the snow!

This time, I had him stand up in Totem Pose to get a closer look…

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Look at all of those snowballs!

I don’t think the snow ever packed to his fur this much. Or at least I hadn’t noticed it before. I had him lift his paws again back in Prairie Dog pose.

Look at that underbelly!

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I tried to pull them out, but they just wouldn’t budge. He was just going to have to wait until they melted. It was time to run around the house! And so we did… Playtime had another purpose.

Happy “Spring!”

Cheers~
Carrie