Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ice Cream with Cocoa and Cinnamon

After writing yesterday's post, and thinking about Wise Acres custard served in a mason jar topped with hot fudge...I had an overwhelming craving for dessert of the chocolate kind. I began to peruse hot fudge recipes online, only to realize that I lacked all the necessary ingredients and I was looking for less of a time gap between "no chocolate in my life" and "chocolate in my life."

Enter into the chocolate-less equation, this simple little recipe inspiration from my mom. Vanilla ice cream, sprinkled with cocoa powder and cinnamon. 
It is an incredibly easy and delicious way to satisfy a desserty/chocolate craving (yes, desserty is a word). Is it a glamorous and rich hot fudge sundae that I would serve at a dinner party? Definitely not. Is it a wonderful concoction that I would serve to a dinner party of 1? Definitely yes. 

What are your weekday go-to dessert recipes? you know of a good hot fudge sauce recipe? If so, please pass that chocolate knowledge this way :)

-The Delicious Dabbler

ps. A bonus shot of the view on my couch today. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Brunch at Wise Acres

Yesterday was my grams and I's annual pot-planting party. It is one of my favorite spring traditions and the first time we have gotten to do it at our new house. During the move, my mom gifted 6 gorgeous, cobalt blue pots to us and they are the happiest part of our front step. This years mission was to fill them with color and joy.   
 Grams and I headed over to Tangletown Gardens to scope out the flower selection, only to realize that the store wasn't open for another half hour. What are two gardening gals to do?  Fear not for our time-occupying abilities...right across the street from Tangletown is the oasis known-as Wise Acre Eatery ("Wise Acres"). 
Wise Acres is a farm-to-table eatery (the food is sourced from the Tangletown Garden 100-acre farm located in Plato, MN),  and is my favorite restaurant in our neighborhood...given the number of fabulous restaurants in Minneapolis- that is truly saying something. What is it about this place besides the wonderful ingredients and the blend of agricultural/industrial/modern decor (the restaurant is located in a renovated auto-body shop)? It's the BACON. Berkshire and Large Black hogs are raised on the farm and provide the delicious pork that permeates the Wise Acres menu. From the daily-chowder, to the breakfast dishes, to the brie and bacon burger,  to the butter that is served with a side of bread...I highly encourage you to consume something with pork. 

Before I end my pork-ramble, I will also throw out to you dabblers that in the warm seasons, the walk-up counter at Wise Acres is the perfect stop for house-made custard in a waffle cone, particularly if the flavor of the day is mint-chocolate chip. Just saying. Okay, now to the point :) My impromptu stop at my favorite spot reminded me that I had brunch photos that I had yet to share with you all. Given the number of times that I find myself eating here, not having a post about Wise Acres seemed like a food-blogging crime. These photos are from earlier this month, a Sunday-brunching adventure with my dad. 

My favorite way to start all mornings: delicious tea. 

Wise Acres has wonderful baked goods, and you can scope-out the choices as you walk by the counter to your table. My choice was a lavender-strawberry scone and it was marvelous. 

My dad went with the espresso donut-muffin. Think about the taste and consistency of a light cake donut, in the form of a muffin, that has been rolled in cinnamon, sugar, and espresso. Yum. 

My dad ordered the CSA Hash: scrambled eggs with herbs over an assortment of delicious veggies, served with herb aioli, toast, and most importantly...a generous portion of cottage bacon. 

I ordered the special that morning. Pulled pork served over toasted tortilla strips with green pepper sauce, and topped with two poached eggs. It was Cinco de Mayo weekend and this creation was the perfect choice. 

So if you find yourself hungry and remotely near Nicollet Ave S, hurry over to this wonderful spot and feast :)

-The Delicious Dabbler

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Broders' Pasta Bar

Last night, my mom and I headed to Broders' Pasta Bar for an impromptu dinner date. What a lovely way to end a Monday :) Broders' is incredibly popular and it is usually very difficult to get a table or a spot at the bar. Luckily for us, Monday at 5pm is the perfect time to score a seat and we cozied up to the bar with a great view of the wine selection and the chefs preparing the pasta dishes in the open kitchen.

Insalata di Stagione: Mache, arugula, sliced strawberries, pine nuts, and pecorino cheese crisps, dressed in a simple vinaigrette. You can see that I love a healthy dose of black pepper. Each table has its own grinder, which I also love because then you avoid the awkwardness of making your server crack pepper for what seems to be an incredibly long time.

Ravioli con Taleggio: cheese ravioli, artfully plated with asparagus, delightful prosciutto pieces, basil, and parmesan.

Vanilla bean panna cotta with prosecco braised rhubarb sauce. The flavor of the sauce was a little off for me, but the cloud-like texture and creaminess of the panna cotta was wonderful. A fun way to end the meal.

Wishing you moments of unplanned food-wonder this week, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Monday, May 20, 2013

Here's What's Been Happening

Hi dabblers, what a two-week whirlwind it has been! Now that the whirling dervish is over...I owe you all an update, in pictures of course :)

1. The end of my graduate program. I survived what may be my final round of last-minute paper submissions and large presentations. In our last practicum class, we all got to share one piece that we have taken away from our work with others this year. My amazing friend shared this; her mantra before entering her building to work with youth in crisis. An amazing testament to the power of listening more, judging less, and honoring the experiences of others.

2. I said goodbye to my amazing internship site and coworkers on the St. Paul Campus. I will miss seeing this guy on my walk in.

3. Naturally, a proper goodbye includes baked goods. I made an adapted version of this recipe from Ina Garten (reduced the sugar by 1/2c and substituted dried lemon peel powder from Penzey Spices because we were out of lemons that morning). They turned out wonderfully and hubs scored a few bonus muffins for breakfasts that week.

4. I took several lovely walks around Lake Harriet. With my internship completed, I have a bit more flexibility in my schedule until my new position starts in a few weeks. The first picture is my morning walk; slightly overcast with a beautiful view of the city. The second photo is the same day in the late afternoon. The sun had come out and so did the sail boats :)

5. I officially graduated from my program. What a happy day of celebration with my amazing classmates and friends. (group photo credit to SX).

6. The celebration continued with my family at Annie's on campus. Burgers, fries, malts, and floats. Perfection. It was also a great full-circle moment for me. Annie's was hubs' and I's go-to date spot during college, my family celebrated there after my undergraduate gradation, and hubs and I shot some of our engagement photos there. It couldn't have been more fitting to celebrate the end of my graduate program there as well. 

Post-graduation, hubs and I undertook a patio project in the backyard with the help of my amazing family. We are about half-way through with that are hoping to wrap it up this coming weekend. During the work, I consumed copious amounts of Arnie Palmers. My favorite mix: 3 parts iced-tea (mint-green tea this weekend), 1 part lemonade, muddled mint leaves, and ice. Delicious :)

Hope you all had a wonderful weekend, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Apple Raisin Oatmeal

I tend to rotate through breakfast kicks. For several weeks, it was greek yogurt (see here and here). Alas, the greek yogurt fad has come to an end and I have moved on to a new breakfast relationship...with oatmeal. Old-fashioned oats cooked in protein- and calcium-packed milk is the perfect transportable breakfast, especially when it is kicked up a bit with apples, raisins, cinnamon, nutmeg, and pure maple syrup. 

I love this option because I can make a big batch on Sunday and have a really filling and delicious breakfast every day before work. 

Old-fashioned oats cook at a 2:1 liquid to oats ratio. For a weekly batch, I use 8 cups of 2 percent milk and 4 cups of oats. Begin by heating milk in a large pot over medium heat, stirring occasionally. 

While the milk is coming to temperature (still stirring occasionally), slice 1 whole apple into bite-size pieces.  

When the milk begins to softly boil (evidenced by the small bubbles and foam), it's time to add the oats. 

After you add the oats, continue stirring. 

The oats will soften and the mixture will thicken as the oats soak up the hot milk. 

Take a quick stirring reprieve to gather the rest of your ingredients: raisins, cinnamon, and nutmeg. (Of course, if you found yourself in a moment of peak efficiency, you could do this ahead of time). For this size batch of oatmeal, I use 1 heaping cup of raisins. 

When your oats/milk combo has substantially thickened up, add in the apples and raisins. I like to add the apples later in the cooking process so they maintain a bit of their crunch. I love the raisins and apples in this recipe for the natural sweetness they add and the textural interest. 

After stirring in the apples and raisins, add in your spices. I sprinkle cinnamon across the surface of the entire pot, and follow that with about half as much nutmeg. These spices add warmth and depth to the dish so be bold; throw your measuring-spoon caution to the wind!

The wonderful aroma of the oatmeal at this time is reminiscent of apple pie. Not surprisingly, this is usually the time that hubs wanders in and says, "something smells good." Then, he realizes it is oatmeal instead of his favorite apple pie and is the slightest bit disappointed. 

The beautiful ingredients incorporated together. You can also see the texture and thickness of the oatmeal here. I tend to like my oatmeal on the thicker side, but of course adjust the cooking time for your preferences. As you are stirring, you will get a great sense of the viscosity. 

The final touch? Pure maple syrup from northern Minnesota. I use maple syrup in lieu of brown sugar for it's natural sweetener- and all-around-delicious properties. 

Give the pot a nice splash of maple syrup and stir to combine. Your healthy and delicious breakfast dish is complete :)

In a semi-ironic fashion, I am usually making this breakfast dish on Sunday evenings to prepare for the week. At this point, I package up a nice portion in a glass dish to take with me for the next day. However, the importance of a chef's snack can never be forgotten and the smell of the oatmeal is hard to, I always give it a sampling or two :)

Cheers to Sunday breakfast making, 

-The Delicious Dabbler

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Saturday Simple Happinesses

Today, I'll be sharing a few extra simple happiness photos since I missed this reflection last week. There are officially 5 days left in my grad program and I am so excited for the freedom and flexibility that will soon be incorporated into my schedule. It's another dreary day here in Minnesota, but I started this morning off with a delicious raspberry, banana, pineapple, and peach smoothie followed by a yoga session. Now, Bailey is curled up and snoring on me as I work on this post and some final papers. I am hopeful that we see the sun soon, but until then, this is great "stay in with a cup of tea and a napping dog" weather. 

1. A photo from my first outdoor run of the season around Lake Harriet last weekend. It was a beautiful, sunny day. The ice was still on the north side of the lake and the cool breeze blowing off it felt wonderful mid-way through my run. 

2. A smoothie post-run. I used this recipe, but subbed in applesauce as we were out of bananas. It was delicious. 

3. The happy cows on the St. Paul campus. 

4. Budding signs of spring. 

5. Scrumptious and beautiful cake at my soon-to-be-sister-in-law's bridal shower. I love the simple decorations of shaved coconut and blueberries. 

6. Precious guest gifts. Tiamo ("I love you" in Italian) prosecco and chocolates. 

7. My girls, nesting up and and napping away together. 

Wishing you a lovely weekend, 

-The Delicious Dabbler