Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Kings Wine Bar

Last night, some friends and I checked out the new-ish Kings Wine Bar at 46th and Grand in Minneapolis for drinks and appetizers.

The ambience was perfect for a chilly early fall evening - with great lighting and a cozy atmosphere. I was also impressed by how busy it was, especially for 8:30 p.m. on a Tuesday night. Seems like it has quickly become a popular neighborhood establishment.
Kings seemed to offer a fairly extensive wine and beer list, but I went straight for the girly Bellini, which turned out to be an excellent choice. I love the pairing of Prosecco and peach nectar. And, at $8, it didn't seem too overpriced.
My first glance at Kings' dinner menu was slightly overwhelming. Everything sounded so delicious and fantastically well-priced. I was torn between the small bites, the big bites and even the soup. In the end, I decided to share two of the small bites with my roommate: the tator tots served with a bacon and gruyere cheese sauce and the marsala chicken meatballs.

Both were good. However, I think I got a little too carried away with excitement and anticipation. By the time, they arrived at the table, I was expecting them to be the world's best tator tots and I was bound to experience some disappointment. Overall, I thought the presentation was great, and I'd award them a solid B grade on the taste scale. I was just expecting a bit more flavor in each of the sauces.

I was happy to see that Kings uses all natural ingredients from local farmers - a factor that will likely bring me back through its doors. Next time, I'm either going for the french onion soup or the fresh mozzarella and tomato sandwich...or maybe even brunch.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

TNDAH: Another Wednesday Edition

So it seems I can't quite get my act together with the "Tuesday Night Dinner at Home" entries, so this week brings another Wednesday version.

Tonight's dinner centered around using up the abundance of brown rice I have in the cupboard. Even though I know it's good for you, I still find brown rice to be quite bland. I thought I'd add a few things to spice it up tonight.

First, I sauteed fresh minced garlic with chopped onion and chopped green pepper (fresh from my mom and dad's garden).

Then, I cooked the rice as normal.
And added it to the sauteed vegetables. I topped it off with a dash of fresh ground pepper and sea salt.
I paired the rice with a grilled chicken breast (seasoned with pepper and Jane's Krazy Mixed-Up Salt), and a sliced tomato (again from my parents' garden and the most delicious I've had all season).
Altogether, pretty tasty. I still haven't reached a point where I'll gush about brown rice, but I'm getting there. At the very least, it's a perfect substitute for white rice when cooked/baked as part of a larger dish.

Monday, September 21, 2009

On the Road: Civil War Cemetery in Columbia, S.C.

I spent last week in Columbia, S.C. Along with a nice dinner at the Liberty Tap Room one night, we found ourselves at the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral Cemetery. Located right in downtown Columbia, near the Capitol, the cemetery is the resting place for some of South Carolina's most well-known people, including several of the state's governors and war veterans.
The cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and features several above-ground caskets.

I liked the decorative gothic architecture of the cemetery and was most fascinated that the chuch building itself is on the same property. There aren't very many churches in Minnesota that I'm aware of with cemeteries in the churchyard.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tuesday Night Dinner at Home: Wednesday Version

Okay, so I admittedly cheated on this, the second occurence of Tuesday Night Dinner at Home. Truth is I was just too lazy last night and opted for a combination of cold leftover pizza, chips and queso and a salad (one out of three things being moderately healthy ain't bad).

So, for TNDAH - Wednesday version, I chose a quick and easy dinner: flatbread pizza and a ceasar salad. This has become a staple in my diet this summer ever since I saw the pizza picture on the Italian Herb flatrbread I use for wraps. Plus, I love Canadian bacon and mushrooms.

The best thing about these flatbread pizzas is that they're perfect for one person and you don't feel as guilty about it when you assembe it yourself with fresh vegetables, cheese and meat. The complementary salad was fairly simple: Marzetti "Supreme Caesar" dressing (so good!), a mix of romaine hearts and baby greens, croutons and parmesan cheese lightly tossed.

For dessert, big news: Halloween Oreos have arrived! I know, it's hard to even think about summer being over let alone Halloween, but these really are just about the best thing on earth. Thank you, Target :)

Simple Flatbread Pizza Recipe
1 flatbread wrap
Pizza sauce (I like Ragu's Pizza Quick Traditional)
Desired meat and/or vegetables
Mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 375. Place flatbread on pizza stone. Spread pizza sauce to cover flatbread. Sprinkle with thin layer of mozzarella and add desired meat and/or vegetables. Cover with mozzarella. Bake for approximately 10 minutes or until cheese is fully melted.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Visit to the Cathedral

Today we took a trip to easily one of the most beautiful churches in MSP: the Saint Paul Cathedral. It was the final stop on our mini Summit Avenue/Cathedral Hill tour.

Recently named a National Shrine of the Apostle Paul, the Cathedral incorporates a gorgeously painted dome, beautiful stained glass and amazing statues.

Whenever I explore the Shrine to the Nations, I make a special stop by Saint Boniface, patron saint of the Germans (always like to give him a little shout out).

Following our afternoon adventure, I watched Sunshine Cleaning again, which was just as good the second time around. I definitely recommend it, especially to anyone who is an Emily Blunt fan.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tuesday Night Dinner at Home: Manicotti

Tonight I decided Tuesdays would be a good day to chronicle my adventures in the kitchen (both disasterous and successful). So, for any Tuesday that I don't have other plans in the indefinite future, I will make a delightful dinner at home and live to tell about it here. On this, the first night of TNDAH (catchy, huh?), I've decided to go with a recipe aptly titled "Easy Baked Manicotti" that I received from a friend at work. I've already tried this recipe for dinner with a friend once before and was not entirely pleased with how it turned out. Tonight I learned maybe it was because I lack a certain cook's intuition. Suffice to say, it's important to actually cook the manicotti shells before baking them.

After preheating the oven, layering the bottom of the baking dish with spaghetti sauce and cooking the manicotti shells, I stuffed them with a mixture of egg, ricotta, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses and pesto. Then I poured the additional spaghetti sauce over the shells, covered it with tinfoil and baked for 35 minutes.


Yummy. After 35 minutes, I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top of the manicotti and baked uncovered for an additional five minutes. To complement the manicotti, I assembled a quick and easy salad of organic baby greens, grape tomatoes, shredded colby-jack cheese, croutons and parmesan romano dressing (my new summer favorite). To drink, I had a tall glass of raspberry lemonade.

And, while unfortunately not homemade, I offer my thanks to Edy's for the delicious Slow Churned Caramel Delight ice cream.

Easy Baked Manicotti Recipe
2 1/2 cups spaghetti sauce, divided
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 3/4 cups ricotta cheese
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/4 cup pesto
12 manicotti shells, cooked al dente

Preheat oven to 350. Spread 3/4 cup of the spaghetti sauce on bottom of 13x9-inch baking dish. Mix egg, cheeses and pesto until well blended. Spoon cheese mixture into large resealable plastic bag. Using scissors, cut off small hole from one of the bottom corners of bag. Fill manicotti shells, one at a time, squeezing cheese mixture into both sides of each shell. Place manicotti over sauce in baking dish; pour remaining 1 3/4 cups spaghetti sauce over manicotti. Cover with foil. Bake 40 minutes or until heated through.