March 29, 2011

Chicken Marsala & Garlic Mashed Potatoes

This recipe I found in Rocco Dispirito's book "Now Eat This".  I have made it several times because it is quick and easy.  I can easily cut it in half to make a individual portion, with one left for lunch the next day.

Yield : Serves 4


  • 4 chicken cutlets (4 ounces each), pounded thin
  • Salt
  • ½ cup plus 1½ tablespoons whole-wheat flour
  • ½ cup egg substitute
  • Nonstick olive oil cooking spray
  • Two 1 ounce packages sliced button mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • ½ cup dry Marsala wine
  • 1 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/3 cup Greek yogurt
  • Freshly ground black pepper


1. Heat two 12-inch nonstick skillets over medium-low heat. While the pans are heating, season the chicken with salt. Put the ½ cup flour in a shallow dish and the egg substitute in a separate shallow dish. Dredge the chicken in the flour, then in the egg substitute, to coat completely.
2. When pans are hot, spray both of them generously with olive oil spray. Add 2 chicken cutlets to each pan. Cook until golden brown on each side, about 4 minutes total. Transfer the cutlets to a serving platter, and cover it lightly with foil to keep them warm.
3. Wipe the pans out with paper towels. Raise the heat to high and return the pans to the stove. Spray both pans with olive oil spray. When the pans are hot, add 1 package of mushrooms to each pan. Cook without stirring for 3 minutes to allow the mushrooms to brown.
4. When the mushrooms are light golden, combine them in one pan. Add the garlic, and season with salt to taste. Reduce the heat to medium and cook the mushrooms for another minute, or until the garlic is fragrant.
5. Stir the remaining 1½ tablespoons flour into the mushrooms. Stir in the wine and chicken broth, and bring the sauce to a simmer. Simmer until it has the consistency of gravy, about 3 minutes.
6. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the yogurt, and season with salt and pepper to taste, if desired. Spoon the mushroom mixture over the chicken, and serve.

I like to make garlic mashed potatoes to accompany the Chicken Marsala.  I think red potatoes taste the best, but any type of potato can be used. I also use Greek yogurt instead of milk and butter to make the potatoes creamier.  Adjustments can be made on the amount of garlic depending on your taste


  • 8 medium red potatoes, cubed
  • Salt
  • 3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped.
  • 1/3 cup Greek Yogurt


  1. Place the potatoes into a large pot, and fill with enough water to cover. Add a pinch of salt and garlic to the water for flavor. Bring to a boil, and cook for about 10 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork.
  2. Drain the potatoes, and add the Greek Yogurt. Mash until the potatoes and yogurt are combined.

March 28, 2011

Nick & Eddie (Minneapolis, MN)

I met my friend Michael at Nick & Eddie for brunch this morning.  He and I have been planning a visit since my birthday in September.  Finally! Two busy schedules were able to connect for brunch. 

Michael has raved about the Bloody Mary's--his rave was spot on! After enjoying a cup of coffee I switched to the house made Bloody Mary.

The Sunday brunch menu made it almost impossible to choose, but I had three people recommend the Creole Benedict - ($9) so I chose it.  It had a poached egg with andouille sausage, and creole hollandaise on an English muffin.  I will be back to try other brunch menu items.

1612 Harmon Place, Mpls MN 55403

The Inn (Minneapolis, MN)

Grass Fed Burger with Foie Gras Mousse and a Fried Egg
The Inn has become one of my favorite places to go downtown Minneapolis.  I must admit I am a little bias because one of my favorite mixologist, Jesse Held, can be found behind the bar and he was the reason I first went to The Inn.  Not only do I enjoy the flavorful unique cocktails poured, but I found a menu of freshly created dishes that are not only pleasing to the eye, but also to the palette.

The Inn is  located a few blocks from the Minneapolis Convention Center but you will not find a sign lit up in neon and bright lights, you will find a small space tucked between a parking lot and a wig shop.  This unassuming location is perfect for a night out weather you are on your own or with friends.
While The Inn has an extensive wine and beer list, I go there for the cocktails. Don't waste your time or even think about saying "I'll have a Vodka Cranberry or Gin and Tonic", you can make those at home. So what do I recommend when people ask me what I recommend to drink when I visit The Inn.  I always say "I recommend sitting at the bar and talking with the bartenders about what they can make to please your palette." I tell them that the guys behind the bar (especially Jesse & Tim because I know them best) are genius when it comes to flavor combinations and cocktails. Do you like Sweet? Savory? Bourbon? Citrus? Spicy? Gin? Just let them know and I promise they will come up with a drink that suits your palette and you won't ever find at a bar where they person behind the bar is flipping bottles to distract you from the fact that he or she is going to serve you a drink that can be duplicated at any of their other chain locations. 

Among my favorite dishes are the decadent Grass Fed Burger with Foie Gras Mousse and a Fried Egg, Crispy Potato Dumplings, Cured Meats, Chicken Wings and Roasted Peppers. The portion sizes make them perfect for a single person or couple.  

As a single gal, I enjoy sitting at the bar because it is more comfortable and enjoyable. I also learn about mixing drinks and different types of liquors from the bartenders. Also, don't be surprised if a little sample of something tasty from the kitchen arrives in front of you to try, the chef occasionally whips up something that is not on the menu and shares it with guests.

When you do go and sit at the bar tell Jesse and Tim that Kelly sent you and I promise you a good time with great drinks!

Contact Information:
The Inn Restaurant and Bar
89 10th Street South
Minneapolis, MN 55402
Phone: 612.886.2377

Monday - Wednesday 5:00 p.m to 10:00 p.m
Thursday - Saturday 5:00 p.m to 12:00 a.m
Sunday Closed

Parking: Adjacent pay lots, metered street parking.


Slow Cooker Winter Vegetable Stew

I found this recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook.  It makes a wonderful, hearty soup that can be enjoyed year round. It does make more than one serving, but I found it held up well when I froze it.  *Tip: Freeze portions in quart size freezer bags (Ziploc). Then when you want a quick meal it can be thawed and reheated. Make sure you mark on the bag what the item is.
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes with Italian herbs, undrained
4 medium red potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
4 medium stalks celery, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
3 medium carrots, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (1 1/2 cups)
2 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 medium leeks, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 can (14 oz) vegetable broth or 1 3/4 cups chicken broth (from 32-oz carton)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary leaves
3 tablespoons cornstarch
3 tablespoons cold water

1. Place all ingredients except cornstarch and water in 4- to 5-quart slow cooker.

2. Cover and cook on low heat setting 8 to 10 hours or until vegetables are tender.

3. Mix cornstarch and water; gradually stir into stew until blended. Cover and cook on high heat setting about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened.

Nutrition Information:
1 Serving: Calories 130 (Calories from Fat 10); Total Fat 1g (Saturated Fat 0g, Trans Fat ncg); Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium 560mg; Total Carbohydrate 31g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars ncg); Protein 4g Percent Daily Value*: Vitamin A 94%; Vitamin C 26%; Calcium 8%; Iron 12% Exchanges: 1/2 Starch; 0 Other Carbohydrate; 4 Vegetable Carbohydrate Choices: nc
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Go at it Alone

Linda and I enjoying a Cosmo at Nye's
Many people are hesitant or even afraid to step into a restaurant alone to dine. I am not one of those people.

I am a Groupon user and for the past few month's I had a $50 Groupon to Nye's in Minneapolis; it happen to expire on March 27th.  My friend Ross and I tried unsuccessfully to use it Saturday night.  We went for what we thought would be a late dinner only to find out that every other Groupon holder must have had the same idea. (Glad I am not the only one to procrastinate) The hostess, who was definitely a fan of Aqua Net hairspray and painted on eyebrows (read about Nye's on another post soon and you will understand or visit their website) told me she could not put my name on her list because by the time they got to us the kitchen would be closed. I did notice at least 2 pages of names in front of her and another list on a clipboard held by another hostess. Ross and I realized that even if we did manage to find a spot at the bar it would be a long wait for food and we pressed on to another location.

Sunday I was still in search of some to take advantage of my $50 with me.  I thought I had someone lined up and the plans changed. I thought I have two options: (1) Lose the Groupon that I paid $25 for or (2) Use it, I could always take food to go.  I decided -GO FOR IT!  Down to Nye's I went.

I got the coveted, rock star spot right in front of  Nye's and went in.  The host advised me that the procrastination of Grouponers continued and there would be an hour wait.  I put my name down and watched the bar like a hawk for an opening.  I knew I didn't need to take up a table that would have seated more people patiently waiting.  The wait was not long and I saw a gal stand up and reach for her coat.  I swooped in like an eagle after a mouse for the chair.  (Yes, I was polite about it) As I stood there a woman approached and asked if I would be sitting in the now vacant seats, I told her I just needed one and I was thinking of ordering my food to go.  I offered her the extra chair and said she could have the one I had once I had my food.  I found out her name was Linda and she too was a Groupon procrastinator. Her husband Jim joined us at the bar.  We finally  got to order drinks from the lone, overwhelmed bartender.  Linda and I enjoyed the recommended Cosmo (they were good) and Jim had a Blue Moon.  I put in my order to go and they put in their order to eat there.  As they dined in and my food sat on the bar ready to leave we did something most people are afraid to do with strangers -we talked.  We spend the next few hours discussing everything from The Apprentice to DVRing  to restaurants and travel.  I explained craft cocktails, my favorite places such as The Inn and Saffron, and told them about my blog and my dining experiences.

Two Cosmos later I got into my car and said "What a fun night!" Sure it was almost 10:00pm and my food was cold, but it was a wonderful experience and example of what happens when strangers share a space (or table) and start to talk.

March 26, 2011

Vacation at Caribe

Sweet Potato Pancakes
Tropical Juice (Pineapple) Mimosa
Today I decided I needed my long overdue vacation. Yes the sun is shining, but the temperature is about 21 degrees. Without the need to dig out my passport I headed to St. Paul, MN to try Caribe.

I arrived and walked through the swinging doors that separate the boring white and gray outside to the bright colors of the Caribbean inside. The colors were not the only thing to greet me; I was greeted by Sharone. I chose a seat by the window to soak up a bit of sunshine.
I started with a coffee as I perused the brunch menu. The Sweet Potato Pancakes kept calling my name. Of course the artichoke omlet sounded good too. I went with the Sweet Potato Pancakes.

For brunch they have a bottomless orange juice mimosa.  Also, they make a tropical juice mimosa (this one is not bottomless) I couldn't pass up the tropical juice of the day mimosa, it was pineapple. I am on vacation and it was wonderful!

The pancakes were wonderful. They had great flavors and were light. They were topped with a papaya rum compote, whipped cream and candied pecans. The three cakes were just the right amount. No additional sides accompanied them, the are not needed.

As my vacation ends I am satisfied with my brief stay. I will vacation here again, I see there is a house made sangria that I will have to try.

Thank you to owners Tony and Heidi and their staff for a wonderful mini-vacation!

Check out their website at
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March 25, 2011

Tropical Oasis in the Minnesota Tundra

I am always amazed at who follows me on Twitter.  I hope to soon have many followers on my blog as well.  Today I had a new follower, a restaurant in St. Paul named Caribe.  As with any follower I like to look at profiles and websites, today was no exception.  I have finally found what this single gal who has been stuck in Minnesota needs--a trip to the Caribbean without having to get a on a plane (though that would be a nice option too).  I will be checking out Caribe for sure!  The menu and photos look like a tropical oasis in this frozen tundra. 

David Arrives in Paris

"It was an opportunity to flip over the Etch A Sketch of my life, 
give it a good shake, and start again
~ David Lebovitz 

The Sweet Life in Paris is an easy and enjoyable read.   I love quotes so when I saw the quote above I knew I am going to love this book.  

David has arrived in Paris with his suitcases "jam-packed with Sharpies, crunchy peanut butter and measuring cups" to an apartment that he was hoping would be his dream based on the photos online.  It wasn't quite the dream; it needed some work. "I ordered a salade [sic] and the first of many glasses of wine, which I quickly surmised would become a good coping strategy for any problems that were to come."  

In comes the French painter. From the trivia contest I entered that won me this book, I have a feeling the painter will be around for awhile.

Levovitz's writing style reminds me of another favorite author of mine, Bill Bryson.  I find myself laughing out loud as I read and, David's style of writing makes me feel like I am with him there sharing the experience.

March 24, 2011

Sweet Potato Fries

This recipe I found in Rocco Dispirio's book Now Eat This.  I make these all the time; they are so simple and low in calories because they are baked not fried.  To make a smaller portion, simply reduce the number of sweet potatoes or select smaller ones. I have also used a regular potato and followed the same recipe. When I first read this recipe I thought "You want me to generously sprinkle these with salt?" (I try to watch my salt).  I use course sea salt and the salt really does bring out the moisture and it does not make the fries salty.

2 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed
Salt (I use course sea salt)
Nonstick cooking spray
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
Freshly ground black pepper
Sweet paprika
Cayenne pepper

Slice the sweet potatoes lengthwise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Cut the slices into 1/4-inch-wide sticks. Place the sweet potatoes in a large bowl and sprinkle generously with salt. Let stand for about 20 minutes to release some of their moisture.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 450°F. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet, and set it aside.

Spread the potatoes out on paper towels to absorb any excess moisture. Then place them in a large bowl, and spray them with cooking spray. Sprinkle with the thyme and salt, pepper, paprika, and cayenne to taste. Spread the potatoes out on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the fries until they are golden and tender, 35 to 45 minutes. Serve immediately.

I like to drizzle a little Balsamic Vinegar over my fries.

March 23, 2011

The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebovitz

A few weeks ago I entered a contest on a blog site which I came across via Twitter.  Serge is from New Jersey and he shares great information on food, wine, travel, books and all sorts of thing that he comes across in life. He posed the following trivia question:  
What is the easiest thing to take care of in Paris out of these 3:
-Get rid of roaches?
-Have the house painter complete his job and leave?
-Open a bank account?
The winners received a copy of David Lebovitz's book "The Sweet Life in Paris"; I was one of those winners.  (Yay Me!!).

My book arrived about a week ago and today I started reading it.  As I read I will continue to blog about it.  I must say the first impression is wonderful; how many books have a picture of a tasty croissant and coffee on the front and just after the title page a two-page picture (though black and white) of Eiffel Tower shaped Fromage de Chevre (Goat Cheese). At that moment I thought "Hmm...maybe I should be drinking wine while reading this book." Because I am reading it on my breaks at work the wine won't work, but maybe later when I am reading at home. 

A quick thumb through the book I see recipes that I will definitely try with notes on my blog to follow.  Most of them are not Small Servings, however may be good for entertaining.

I have also looked through David's website ( and ....well, let's just say every recipes I looked at looked positively wonderful! I am stuck on the ice cream and sorbet page.  Watch for more on my experimentations with his recipes.

March 22, 2011

Veggie Bugers

I came across this recipe when I was told by a kidney dietitian that I was not supposed to eat legumes.  I love veggie burgers so I went in search of one without beans. I know it makes more than a portion for one or two, but they are healthy and can be made a little bigger.

Prep Time: 15 Minutes
Cook Time: 20 Minutes

Ready In: 1 Hour 35 Minutes
Servings: 8

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 small onion, grated
2 cloves crushed garlic
2 carrots, shredded
1 small summer squash, shredded
1 small zucchini, shredded
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup shredded low fat Cheddar cheese
1 egg, beaten (I use egg substitute)
2 tsp soy sauce
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over low heat, and cook the onion and garlic for about 5 minutes, until tender. Mix in the carrots, squash, and zucchini. Continue to cook and stir for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, and mix in oats, cheese, and egg. Stir in soy sauce, transfer the mixture to a bowl, and refrigerate 1 hour.

2. Preheat the grill for high heat.

3. Place the flour on a large plate. Form the vegetable mixture into eight 3 inch round patties. Drop each patty into the flour, lightly coating both sides.

4. Oil the grill grate, and grill patties 5 minutes on each side, or until heated through and nicely browned.  You can also make this in a pan on the stove. 
I serve it on a whole wheat sandwich thins such as Arnold brand, which are only 100 calories, top with alpha sprouts, tomatoes and a little mustard.

March 21, 2011

Now Eat This! by Rocco Dispirito

One of my favorite cooks books is Now Eat This! by Rocco Dispirito.  Rocco takes traditional comfort foods and reduces them to less than 350 per serving.  He uses ingredients such as Greek yogurt, whole-wheat pasta, and cauliflower to cut calories.  I must admit because of this book I was turned onto Greek yogurt.  I now use it often as a substitute for heavy cream.

I have several favorite recipes including: Chicken Marsala, Marinara Sauce, Better than Mashed Potatoes, Mac N'Cheese.  The Marinara sauce makes 6 cups, however it can be refrigerated or frozen for future use.

The recipes are not over complicated and the flavors are wonderful.  Most of the recipes are four servings which makes it nice for a single person because there are not a lot of leftovers and what is left holds up well for additional meals.

Tomorrow the next book comes out -Now Eat This! Diet: Lose Up to 10 Pounds in Just 2 Weeks Eating 6 Meals a Day! I am trying something new, I have it being downloaded to my Nook. Watch for further reviews on this book. 

Swiss Chard and Ricotta Manicotti

I found this recipe in a cookbook from the American Heart Association. I am not able to eat Swiss Chard or Spinach (which could be used as a replacement). I used fresh Collard Greens; I had never worked with Collard Greens, but found them the perfect replacement.  
This has 4 servings, but I found it holds up well as leftovers. 
8 dried manicotti shells
1 bunch Swiss chard
1 tsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
4 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 large egg
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 ts. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
3 large Italian plum tomatoes, cored and cut into wedges
1/4 cup tomato paste
1/4 cup fresh basil leaves
1/8 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 375*F. Lightly spray a 13x9x2" glass baking dish with cooking spray, set aside.

Prepare pasta per pkg. directions. Drain well in a colander, being careful not to tear the shells. Set aside.

Meanwhile discard the stems of the chard. Stack several leaves and cut crosswise into 1/2" slices. Repeat with the remaining chard. (I actually used my food processor to shred them. I liked the consistency with the onion.)

In a large nonstick skillet heat the oil over medium high heat, swirling to coat the bottom. Cook the onion and garlic for 3 minutes, or until soft, stirring occasionally. Stir in the chard. Cook for 3 minutes or until the chard is wilted and the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a medium bowl. Let cool slightly. Stir in remaining ingredients.

In a blender process the sauce for about 20 seconds or until chunky. Pour 1 cup sauce into baking dish, spreading to cover the bottom.

Gently spoon about 1/4 cup filling into a manicotti shell, being careful into to tear the shell. Transfer to the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining shell. Top with sauce. Sprinkle with the mozzarella.

Baked covered for 15 minutes. Uncover and bake for 15 minutes. or heated through.

Serves 4

Simple Soba Noodles

I dug into the empty fridge to find the ingredients for this recipe.

1 Roma Tomato
3 Pepperoncini
2 tsp Roasted Garlic
2 tsp capers
1 Tbs Olive Oil
3 Tbs Marsala wine

Handful of Soba Noodles

Seed and dice tomato. Dice pepperoncini and roasted garlic. Heat olive oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add wine. Add diced tomato, pepperoncini, garlic and capers.

While mixture is sauteing, cook Soba noodles according to package.

Plate Soba noodles on plate or in a bowl, top with sauteed mixture.

Yields: 1 serving