Sunday, February 24, 2013

Birchwood Bliss Round 2

This weekend, I had the most lovely breakfast experience at Birchwood Cafe. Several hours spent catching up with a wonderful friend while enjoying this beautiful creation:
This month's Savory Waffle: carrot, cream cheese and wheatberry waffle; pear chutney, hazelnut-honey butter, toasted hazelnuts, bacon lardons and a sunny-side egg. 

Just look at that delicious combination of ingredients. The sweetness of the carrots, the richness of the cream cheese, the delicious egg...and I don't even have words to describe the beauty that is those bacon lardons. 

The advice that I gave here still stands. If you are reading that ingredient list and wondering, 'how can all of those flavors possible work well together?,' I strongly suggest trusting the Birchwood magic and heading on over for brunch next weekend.  

Also, consider bringing home a chocolate dipped macaroon as a treat for later :)

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

Good morning and happy Saturday dabblers. I am headed to brunch with a great friend this morning and am looking forward to the laughs we will share together, and to the delicious food we are about to consume at the Birchwood Cafe. Remember this waffle? Well it is highly likely that another wonderful waffle creation is in my very near future. 

Here is a look back at a few small things I am grateful for during the past week. 

1. This gorgeous and serene snowy scene on campus after a big snow fall yesterday. 

2. My gorgeous girl. What better way to spend a snowy day than napping away? 

3. My greek yogurt kick (see here and here) continues. Greek yogurt with granny smith apples, strawberries, roasted almonds, and a drizzle of pure maple syrup. 

Wishing you a great weekend, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Friday, February 22, 2013

Pizzeria Lola

Last week, my mom and I headed out for a post-work dinner date to a neighborhood favorite: Pizzeria Lola.  Pizzeria Lola is at the absolute top of my list for best pizza spots, and a favorite of many others...this gem has been featured in countless local newspaper/magazine articles, and was also featured on the Food Network's Diners , Drive-Ins, and Dives. It is always filled with happy pizza patrons, regardless of the hour of the day. 

The vibe of the restaurant is happy and unpretentious, and the wood-fired pizza is all kinds of delicious. 

The eclectic plates add a whimsical touch to the dining experience. Another bit of fun whimsy..the photo booth in the back of the restaurant that provides great entertainment while you wait for your table or for a spot to open up at the bar. 

If you are a caesar salad person, you must order it here. Romaine lettuce spears topped with shaved parmesan and hearts of palm, served with crostini and a  soft egg. It is heavenly and the perfect precursor to pizza. 

My pizza choice for the day? The feature: Meatball Ricotta. House-made meatballs (crazy good); mozzarella, provolone, and ricotta cheeses; and Lola's house red sauce. Just yum. 

My mom went with the Korean BBQ pizza. Beef short ribs, mozzarella cheese, scallions, arugula, and a sesame/soy-chili vinaigrette that is deliciously spicy. 

Deciding what pizza to order is the hardest part. My other favorites? 
1. The Hawaii Pie-O. House-cured bacon, fresh pineapple, serrano peppers, and mozzarella and provolone cheeses. This one is also the hubs' favorite. 

2. The Xerxes. Sauteed spinach, sheep's milk feta and mozzarella cheeses, kalamata olives and chopped almonds. When you order it, add bacon...and enjoy. 

3. The Lady ZaZa. What's not to love with that name? House-made kimchi and Korean sausage, serrano peppers, scallions, and sesame/soy-chili glaze. So unique, spicy, and delicious. 

As evidenced above, delicious pizza + dangerously close to my house =I have worked my way through the entire menu. 

We both took leftovers home in these fun to-go bags. If you have magically managed to save space at the end of your meal, don't miss the house-made soft-serve ice cream topped with olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt. In the mood for chocolate (who isn't?)? Then go for the milk and cookies...served warm and also topped with a sprinkle of sea salt, which really enhances the cookie experience. 

If you are looking for dinner plans this weekend, I highly recommend you head on over to Pizzeria Lola. There is also an exciting bit of news in Lola Lovers Land...a second pizza shop, Hello Pizza, is targeted for opening in Edina this coming March. Yet another reason to be excited for spring.  

Happy Friday, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Co-op Finds: Local Chips and Salsa

Post track-meet watching yesterday, we headed to our co-op to pick up a few things for the upcoming week and to our pleasant surprise, we entered the store at the peak of sampling time.   Francisco's Pico de Gallo Salsa was located in the high-traffic area right next to the dairy case (picking up my favorite chocolate milk from Castle Rock Organic Farms, Osseo, WI), and it was being served with Whole Grain Milling Co. (Welcome, MN), chips, which are my absolute, I knew I had to give it a go. 

I sampled the "hot," which has some great jalapeƱo action happening, amongst other delicious fresh and simple ingredients like tomatoes, onions, cilantro, green pepper, and avocado. After one small sample at the store,  I left with two jars. My husband and I ate the bulk of one yesterday, and writing this post made me crave it, at this point, we are down to one jar. Needless to say, it is delicious. 

In addition to the salsa being delicious, I think I am also drawn the overall idea of fresh salsa right now. It transports me to warmer weather and gardening season. If you have peaked at the upcoming MN forecast, please keep that vision-busting information to yourself :) The good news?I got this beauty in the mail this weekend, and the flowers on the cover must mean that spring isn't too terribly far away. 

If you have a great co-op find that I should check out, please share :) I hope your week starts off deliciously, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

Sitting in the dining room with cup of tea on another cold MN morning (5°F, feels like -3°F); feeling grateful that I can watch the day begin from the warmth of inside. Before we start the weekend by cheering on my sister-in-law as she flies over the hurdles at an indoor track meet, a few things that are putting a smile on my face from last night:

1. Day-after-Valentine's-Day roses. So beautiful and on sale :)

2. Having the time to make a true dinner. The past several weeks have been pretty crazy schedule-wise, and I really missed cooking. On the menu? Pork chops on a bed of cheesy/garlic polenta and baby kale sauteed in olive oil and white wine. 

3. The simple set up and getting a high-five from my husband after he tasted the first bite. 

Happy weekend, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Valentine's Day Inspiration

Happy Spread the Love Day (otherwise known as Valentine's Day) dabblers! I love this holiday because of the opportunity it gives to spread a bit of extra love to the friends, family, partners, and pets that are important to you. Valentine's Day also has a strong association with chocolate, with is just fine with me :)

V-day plans around our house tend toward the low-key end. We have a standing tradition of Chipotle and a movie; usually whatever cheesy romantic movie is coming out that year. This year's winning choice? Safe Haven. Whatever your plans, here are a few pieces of inspiration to bring some extra love into your day:

1. This hand-made card from  a dear friend. The message inside: Love and Hedgehugs! Could it be more adorable?

2. This year's V-day dessert. Chocolate bars were on sale at our co-op this week, so I stocked up on some favorite flavors. I have a feeling that the Raspberries and Dark Chocolate might just make it into the  movie... :)

3. Time constraints will be preventing me from doing day-of dessert making, but should you be looking for recipe inspiration:
Valentine's Day Cupcakes

Dark Chocolate Mousse

Chocolate Cupcake Toppers

 Have a great holiday. Sending extra love and chocolate to you all, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Greek Yogurt with Apples, Bananas, Almonds, and Maple Syrup

Tonight I had a breakfast-for-dinner craving, or perhaps more appropriately...a greek yogurt craving (really an anytime meal). As you know from this post, I have been on a greek yogurt, fruit, nut, and honey kick as of late...but today, I needed to switch it up. What prompted this change?
 1. The honey jar is nearly empty. 
2. Because said jar is near total depletion, it takes 8 years (frustration leads to exaggeration) to get the honey to come out.  

In addition to exaggeration, frustration also leads to inspiration...cue this wonderful new concoction. 

The cast of characters. I have tried many a brand of greek yogurts, and FAGE is by far my favorite. Caribou Cream (Lutsen, MN) 100% Pure Maple delicious, and the perfect rescue for my honey "situation." I love using natural sweeteners, and maple syrup paired with sliced apples and bananas is a great combo. Add the crunch of almonds and you have a wonderful meal, whatever time of day you choose to enjoy it. 

Cheers to the end of the weekend, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

This morning, I have an overarching simple happiness...we got a juicer! I have been lusting after one of these for quite some time and a home electronics sale at Macy's finally tipped me over the purchasing edge. That, and we had uber amounts of carrots in the fridge and every time I pondered what to do with them, I started craving carrot juice. 

1. The beautiful machine all set up and ready to go. 

2. My sous chef Bailey.  As you can see from the extreme intensity of that stare, she loves carrots. 

3. Sliced green apple to throw in the with the carrots for some sweetness. 

4. The final product. Delicious...and so nutritious. 

5. The leftover fiber from the carrots and apples.  It seemed such a shame to dispose of it, so drawing inspiration from this recipe, I decided to make breakfast muffins. 

6. Happily awaiting oven entry. 

7. A delicious late breakfast for me, with just the right amount of butter :)

Happy weekend, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Birthday Dinner at The Oceanaire

Yesterday was my husband's birthday and to celebrate, we went to The Oceanaire in downtown Minneapolis. This was my first time since they moved to a new location. We enjoyed the cool blue ambience (you'll notice the tinted mood lighting throughout the photos) and delicious food. It was a fun evening get away...a fine dining escape from our normal routine. 

I am still enthralled with these personalized menus...what a wonderful and simple idea to make guests feel welcome and celebrated. 

Delicious wine accompanied soup and entree courses. My husband ordered the steak and shrimp special, which was drizzled with Bearnaise sauce... the low lighting in the restaurant doesn't do the food photos justice, but know that I happily snuck across the table with my sourdough bread and sampled some...and, then came back for more. 

The perfect end to an indulgent evening of celebrating? Dark chocolate turtle cheesecake with a candle on top :)

An extra happy birthday wish to my best friend and the biggest fan of my delicious dabbling (especially these). 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

After a fast-paced work/grad-school week, I am savoring a slow start to this Saturday morning. The sun is flooding our windows, reflecting off of a fresh coat of snow that arrived last night. Before shoveling and weekend errands begin, it is nice to enjoy a few quiet moments with tea and breakfast. 

1. Nature's Path Organics Heritage Flakes with bananas. I love this cereal. It is made with spelt, quinoa, barley, kamut, khorasan, millet, and oats, so it has all kinds of protein, fiber, and whole grains going for it...but mostly it is just delicious, crunchy, and a great start to the day. 

2. Looking out from the breakfast table and seeing my girl on Saturday morning squirrel patrol. 

3. Deciding to join her on the couch and do some recipe perusing in Donna Hay. This subscription was a gift from my  aunt and I love it....great recipes and stunning photos and food styling. 

4. Getting a little extra help from Rosy. Apparently, she votes for the Coriander Pesto Potato Salad. 

I hope that you are able to create a space for a few tranquil moments this weekend, however brief. 

-The Delicious Dabbler.