Duh, Blin

IMG_3210

I’m sure most of you know exactly where that picture was taken… DUBLIN, Ireland, obviously! It’s such an iconic picture 😉 Just kidding you probably could say that that picture could have been taken in any European city. Well it was taken in my home for the next 4 months. I’ve been here less than a week and have already seen so much. It’s a fairly small city, but there are insane amounts of museums, pubs and drunks. I usually wake up around noon with a little hangover and meet up with other hungover americans and drag ourselves to the bus stop to go on another adventure. Today it was to Trinity College, St. Stephens Green Park and the Little Museum of Dublin. The Museum was definitely little, but one of the best I’ve seen. The charismatic, spitting tour guide definitely helped make it great. He’s proof that if you know your stuff and are passionate about it, you can make others passionate too. There was also an entire floor dedicated to U2 (AWESOME).

IMG_3224

I’ve discovered how important food is to Irish people. Food of the fried kind, unfortunately for me. It’s been difficult to find diet friendly food is restaurants, especially when I order what I thought was a “chicken burger” but instead it was a piece of fried chicken. Not cool. But the server was nice enough to get me something else for no charge 🙂

IRISH PEOPLE TRULY ARE THE NICEST EVER!

I’ve only been out to eat a couple times and oddly enough I’ve had a burger at least twice, but the best one yet was at a place called The Counter and they serve “naked” burgers or burgers on a salad!!! DOUBLE WIN. I’m still dreaming about that food experience.

IMG_3199

That’s all I have for now about Dublin, but I shall be back with more!

Best Pizza in Minneapolis

Clearly I only like round foods (check out my Pancake post). This time I’m going savory and letting everyone know where I choose to sit myself to enjoy a nice slice (read: whole pizza).

My friend and I came up with the idea to try as much pizza as we could in order to find our favorite pizza in the Twin Cities. I’m a die hard wood-fired oven, authentic Italian style pizza. I’ve been to Italy and tried the real thing, and now I have to admit I’m a bit snobby about my pizza. You might catch me getting a slice of Mesa pizza in Dinkytown when I’m drunk, but let’s keep that on the DL.

PS. if you can’t eat a whole pizza, we can’t be friends.

Shall we?

IMG_1230

Pizza in Italy!

Punch Pizza
A margherita pizza for $5.50??? Is that a joke?! Nope. Not at Punch pizza. Not only do they have locations everywhere, so you can satisfy your craving wherever you are, but you can get the pizza in under 5 minutes from ordering to sitting down. It may be considered a “fast food” option, but even after trying pizza all over Minnesota, I can still come back to Punch and am NEVER disappointed. Another plus is that if you’re not feeling pizza (is that even a thing?) they have the option of getting a salad INSIDE one of their incredible pizza crusts. Healthy, right? The best part about a Punch pizza is the crust, after all. Their crust is chewy, crisp and soggy in the middle. Some people don’t like the soggy middle, but I love when the good quality olive oil gathers in the middle for a goopey, cheesy mess. The price is reason enough to pop-a-squat on one of their wood benches, but the pizza quality will keep you coming back again and again.

Pizzeria Lola
A Korean pizza wasn’t something I thought I was going to like, but again the crust is what sold me. Lola is the slow, sit-down version of Punch. The crust is incredible, but the unique pizza ingredients are why they stand out from the other pizza places I’ve been to. Try the Korean BBQ pizza. It’s full of beef and cheese but finished with a vinaigrette, so it’s not weighed down with red sauce. The Xerxes is also a fave, but it’s meatless (I love meat). Lola is my favorite place to grab a seat at the counter and watch them throw pizzas in the massive wood-fired oven. Skip the vanilla soft serve with olive oil and sea salt (overrated) and opt for another beer, so you can get nice and tipsy for a photobooth session in the back!

Black Sheep
Do you like a pizza loaded with toppings and a super crispy, cracker crust? I don’t. I much prefer a toothy crust, but everyone else I know loves this place. I, however, am not a huge fan of their style. Don’t listen to me though. Listen to the people of Food Network (featured them as a top pizza choice in the US) and all the people of Minneapolis. They’re pizza toppings are great quality and delicious. Their crust does a great job of holding up to the toppings, which is very important. You can’t have a crust that flops over under the weight of a hunk of fennel sausage. The coal-fired ovens that they use allow for a much crunchier crust.
Bonus: They deliver. A pizza place that isn’t Dominos that delivers? Win. They’re quickly making me more of a fan.

Element Pizza
This pizza is more of my element 😉 Their crust is crisp and doesn’t sag in the middle, yet it’s chewy. Now that’s what I like to see! This place is tinyyyy and in the middle of nowhere (Northeast Minneapolis). The menu is creative yet basic. They cater to all pizza lovers, which is very important in a city where some people (not me) are scared to ruin a good pizza with crazy ingredients. So, jump in the car and head to Element for a quiet place to grab a pizza. It seems that not many have discovered the greatness of this place, but I prefer it that way, as there physically is not room for more lovers like me.

Red Wagon Pizza Co.
This place is just a newborn in the Twin Cities pizza scene. They have been running a small stand at local farmer’s markets for some time, but they just recently opened a restaurant (right by Lola, ballsy!!). I was lucky enough to grab a seat at their bar with a perfect view of the massive wood-fired oven (my fave spot in pizza places). I loved that the owner’s dad was just standing in the kitchen, admiring how busy they were. The children were also running around the back area. Adorable! Anyways, the pizza was incredible. I ordered the Red Wagon Pizza and wasn’t disappointed, but to be honest, the roasted butternut squash appetizer is what sealed the deal. Go for the pizza, but don’t overlook their amazing app option.

Burch Steak and Pizza Bar
What’s better than meat and pizza? The answer is, nothing!! This place is on the fancier side of this list, so don’t plan on just popping in after a jog for a nice carbo load. You will likely need a reservation and a nice ball gown and three-piece suit. Okay, only one of those is true, but Burch is definitely one of the top restaurants in the city and not just the pizza. When I went I got the pizza with the Octopus, because I have a weak spot for some nice tentacles (I’m weird), and this pizza did not disappoint.

That’s my list for the top pizzas I’ve eaten, but there are a few others worth mentioning…

Pig Ate My Pizza
I’ve been DYING to try this place in Robbinsdale (which is quite a hike for a city kid), but every time I show up to eat (3 times and counting), they’re closed!! Even though I am incredibly mad that they clearly don’t want me to try them, I am determined and WILL get there before I die because I know they might top my list!

Pizza Nea
Ended up here one night because I’m cheap and wanted to use a Groupon for a date. It’s a solid option, but compared to other places in the cities, it’s nothing too special. Cute space in Northeast though! I would say that they’re a cross between Black Sheep’s crust and Elements toppings. They almost always have a Groupon for it though.

Sun Street Breads
I thoroughly regret never making it to their Monday Night Pizza shindig before writing this post! It only happens Monday nights from 6-8pm and based on their breakfast breads, I’m 100% sure that they can make a mean pizza dough too. If you’re ever free for 2 hours on Monday nights and want to brighten your lame day, head to Sun Street and get a killer pizza. Let me know how it is so I can seal my regret in stone. I WILL GET THERE WHEN I GET BACK FROM IRELAND. Period.

What’s your perfect pizza?

Turkey Burgers with Guac

Ever since I gave up grains, burgers have never been the same, so I’m always looking for a way to “jazz” up a burger so I no longer think about the soft yet crunchy carbs I’m missing. What better way than to add a heaping pile of healthy fat/my form of butter? Turns out that did the trick. Not only did it fill me up but it tasted amazing!

These burgers are super easy to put together, so you never have an excuse to buy a pre-made turkey burger again. I threw everything in a bowl with the ground turkey in the morning then I just had to be formed it into patties and onto a pan. Boom. All that’s left to do is throw together some guacamole but that can be done while the burgers are sizzling away. No excuses, people 🙂

Delicious, nutritious and bread-LOVING twin sister approved!

unnamed

Turkey burgers:

1 lb Turkey (could use chicken or grass-fed beef)
1/3 cup onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 jalapeño, diced
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

Combine all ingredients and mix until just combined. Don’t over mix the meat, or it will become tough.
If using later, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. OR…

Form into 4 burgers and grill over medium-high heat until cooked through/firm. Don’t flip until there are nice grill marks on each side.

Guacamole:

2 avocados
1/2 lime, juiced
1 small tomato, diced
1/2 small red onion, diced
1 clove garlic
1 tsp black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
optional: hot sauce, if you like spice

Combine guacamole and lime juice and mash until desired consistency.
Add tomato, onion, garlic, pepper and salt and mix.
Put a heaping scoop on each burger!!

Pumpkin, Scallion and Bacon Fat Biscuits (grain, dairy, nut, sugar-free)

You’d think I was born in the South and not in Northern Minnesota with how much I LOVE a good biscuit. Buttery, crumbly, moist. Ahhhh I’m drooling just thinking about one slathered in some rich butter, because obviously the pound of butter in one single biscuit isn’t enough.

Ever since I stopped eating grains I’ve been trying to find a recipe that comes as close as possible to the biscuits my southern grandma used to make– if I had one… My non-paleo parents even approved, but I think they just liked the use of pure bacon fat in the recipe, but in my defense they are very moist which is sometimes hard to accomplish when using coconut flour alone. That’s a win for me!

These little biscuits really satisfy my craving, and all though you can never really create a “true biscuit” using coconut flour, the bacon fat saves the day. You can add bacon to the actual biscuits, but in all honesty, I ate the bacon before they made it to the batter… oops!! The bacon would add a great crunch to them if you can resist and not eat the bacon before baking.

But without further ado, here they are!

IMG_3138

Recipe adapted from The Urban Poser
1/2 cup coconut flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup fat, melted (I use 1/4 bacon fat and 1/4 coconut oil, but you can use butter, ghee, etc.)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/4 cup scallions

Optional add-ins: bacon, cheese, apple, etc.

Preheat oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat mat.
Combine the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, salt) in a large bowl and whisk.
Combine the wet ingredients (melted fat, vinegar, pumpkin) in a smaller bowl and whisk until completely combined.
Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix until smooth.
Add the eggs, one by one, and mix well after each egg.
Add the scallions/any add-ins you’d like, and mix until evenly distributed.
Drop heaping tablespoons onto the baking sheet and bake for 14-17 minutes or until tops are slightly golden (be careful not to over bake or they will dry out).
Let cool and enjoy them with your grandma, whom you wish was Southern 😉

Best Pancakes in the Twin Cities

If you know me, it’s no secret that I live for anything breakfast (especially pancakes). I’ve spent 2 YEARS scouring the Twin Cities every weekend to find my favorite breakfast spots. I can no longer eat pancakes regularly (stomach issues), so not only do I know where the best pancakes are, but I know where you can find a KILLER omelet!

My twin sister and I have made it our mission to be considered true “foodies” of the Twin Cities. We take our restaurant hunting very seriously, and are always willing to try the weirdest of weird (shoutout to that Yak Sausage).

Because I’ve been to so many places and eaten so many different breakfast items, I’m beginning my “foodie” picks with just pancakes (yes, there are that many). I can’t rank the pancakes because some of them are not even considered “pancakes” in the true sense, but DELICIOUS none the less.

Disclaimer: I never use syrup. Partly because I don’t like the artificial sweetness drowning my crispy pancakes, but mostly because I like the flavor and texture of pancakes without maple syrup (which usually costs extra for the real stuff anyway, and I’m a college kid…)

Here we go!

FullSizeRender

Colossal Cafe
These are actually yeast-based pancakes that they call Flappers, so they are dense and bread like. These are the pancakes that sparked my love for the cafe culture in the Cities. There is nothing quite like these pancakes.
Colossal offers the pancakes doused in a rich, caramel apple sauce with walnuts and brie slices blanketing the dense pillow-like pancakes (you will need a pillow after consuming these “flappers”).
The real secret is to get a breakfast sandwich on one of their incredible flappers. You get eggs with cheese and meat of choice all wrapped in a crispy flapper with a gooey interior. HEAVEN. Plus, it’s only around $6!!! Run, skateboard, swim. Just get there ASAP!

FullSizeRender

The Lowbrow
If you want crispy around the edges, light and fluffy buttermilk pancakes, look no further than my favorite traditional pancakes in the Twin Cities. Lowbrow is a somewhat small, modern “diner” on the south end of Minneapolis’ Eat Street. They serve traditional breakfast food, but everything is done exceptionally well. The pancakes are butter and light with crispy edges. The flavor is tangy from the buttermilk and just enough sweetness to make it feel like you’re eating a sweet breakfast indulgence. My only complaint is that the order only comes with 3 pancakes when I could easily down twice that amount.

FullSizeRender

Al’s Breakfast
If I’m going to claim to know some of the best pancakes in the Twin Cities, I can’t forget about the oldest breakfast institution that I happen to live 3 blocks from, Al’s Breakfast. Al’s is located in Dinkytown on the University Of Minnesota campus. Al (who I’m not sure ever existed) whips up some of the best breakfast food in an actual “hole in the wall.” There are only a handful of seats at the counter, but a plethora of people waiting behind you to snag a seat when you leave. The pancakes are your usual buttermilk (tangy, light, fluffy) version, but it’s the option with blueberries and walnuts that are a real hit. It’s not a morning at Al’s without someone drooling on your shoulder waiting for a seat. Ohh and it’s cash only.Happy eating!

FullSizeRender

Maria’s Cafe
Let’s go South American, Colombian to be exact. Maria’s is a hidden breakfast spot serving pancakes with a Colombian twist. When I went I ordered the corn pancakes (Cachapas Venezolanas) and was expecting a traditional cornmeal pancake, but what I got was so much more. There are fresh corn kernels baked right into the cakes. You then have the option of topping the cakes with Cotija cheese, which is a MUST. It cuts through the sweetness of the pancake. I consider them to be the best non-traditional pancakes I’ve found in the Cities, and they’re cheap and HUGE. Win, win.

FullSizeRender

Hell’s Kitchen
Speaking of non-traditional. Go to Hell’s Kitchen and don’t even get a menu. Order the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes, and fall into a pancake coma. They’re rich and creamy, but tart from the lemon. The texture isn’t like a normal pancake; it’s creamy but the perfectly crisp edges give it incredible texture. Now, once you’re dead from the pancakes; order their homemade peanut butter to eat with a spoon when you rise from the dead just in time for breakfast the next day.

Other pancakes that I’ve had:
Hot Plate
(just good, dense buttermilk cakes)
The Kenwood
(that black walnut butter though…YUM)
Shish Cafe
(silver dollar sized, sweet pancakes)
Cook
(buttermilk done right, but try the Korean pancakes)
Zumbro Cafe
(get the massive cornmeal pancakes)
The Bad Waitress
(the lack of wait service is forgotten after you try the thick and gigantic pancakes)

Pancakes on my to-eat list:
Hippie Cakes- Hazel’s Northeast
Cornmeal Pancakes- Moose and Sadie’s

Now get eatin’

“Oatmeal”

Up until 6 months ago I ate oatmeal every single day for 4 years. Then came the day when I realized that maybe grains aren’t something I should be eating (that’s a whole other post). So I started doing some research and found a delicious recipe for a grain-free and nut-free “oatmeal.” If you don’t love the taste of coconut, you might not like this version of paleo oatmeal, but I love the taste of coconut and frequently eat plain coconut flakes for a quick snack.

This “oatmeal” is full of healthy fat, and if you pair it with an apple or some kind of fruit, you have the perfect filling breakfast. It’s been my go-to breakfast ever since I had to give up oatmeal for good.

Give it a try!

oatmeal

1 cup coconut milk (or any milk of choice or water)
3 tablespoons coconut flour
1 egg (1/2 cup applesauce, 1 small mashed banana)
optional add-ins: cinnamon, coconut flakes, berries, vanilla, etc.

Combine milk and coconut flour in small saucepan over medium heat and whisk until lumps are gone.
Bring to a boil for 3 minutes.
Remove from heat and whisk in egg until fully cooked and “oatmeal” consistency.
Add back to heat if not thick enough.
Pour into bowl and add any toppings you like.

Toodles!

Why?

Why not?

Everyone thinks they can start a blog one day and quit their job and start blogging for a career after a few posts; well I’m no different. 😉

But in all honesty, I’m actually starting this blog in an effort to create a portfolio of my many adventures in the kitchen and traveling.

I don’t want to QUIT my job, I want to GET a job. College is coming to an end for me in a year, and like most college kids, I feel lostttt.

This blog is my effort to collect my life on the internet (as if enough isn’t floating around out there already).

So here I go!

Toodles