Posts Tagged With: dinner

Grilled Portobello “Pizzas”


portobello pizzas

There’s something pretty fantastic about a warm summer night and the smell of charcoal in your back yard. I was in the mood to get a little creative last week so I stopped by the grocery store on my way home and picked out a few of my absolute fave ingredients.

These little “pizzas” keep things low-carb while still giving you a comfort food fix. They’re also a super simple weeknight grill meal that require hardly any prep time. Win!

Serves 2


4 large portobello mushroom caps

Organic garlic pizza sauce

Fresh basil

Sun-dried tomatoes

Goat cheese


1. Cut the stems off of your portobellos and scoop out the gills with a spoon.

2. Coat the outside of the mushrooms with olive oil, salt, and pepper.

3. Toss your bellas on the grill. Give them a couple of minutes to heat up but don’t wait too long or they will start to shrink up.

4. Spread on pizza sauce. Add fresh basil, sun-dried tomatoes, and top with goat cheese.

5. Cook for 2-3 minutes covered or until goat cheese begins to melt.

6.  Remove from grill and enjoy!


These tasted absolutely fabulous. Maybe I’m a bit biased – I could seriously eat goat cheese off a piece of cardboard and think it was gourmet – but the hubs liked them too so that’s gotta say something. 🙂  Next time I’d add some protein to make them a bit more filling. Cubed prosciutto or diced chicken would be tasty!


Do you ever make anything out of the ordinary on the grill?



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Caldo de Camarones



Caldo de Camarones is a traditional Mexican soup that can be made by combining a number of different veggies and spices (and shrimp, of course). This was my first attempt at creating this dish. We tend to prefer our soups on the “stew-y” side, so I added what may seem like an unlikely ingredient – an entire head of cauliflower – to make the soup more hearty. Enjoy!

Caldo de Camarones

Serves 4-5


  1. 1 large onion
  2. 1 14.5 oz can fire roasted diced tomatoes
  3. 2 large Guajillo chiles
  4. 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  5. 1 head cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  6. 3 cloves garlic
  7. 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning
  8. 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  9. 1 tsp olive oil
  10. 2 6.5 oz cans chopped clams
  11. 2 lbs shelled, uncooked shrimp, chopped into small chunks
  12. 2 cups chicken broth
  13. 3 cups water
  14. 1 bay leaf
  15. 1/2 tsp salt & 1/2 tsp pepper, plus more to taste
  16. 2 tbsp hot sauce of your choosing (I used Sriracha)


  1. Soak Guajillo chiles in water for 30 minutes, then remove seeds and stems. 
  2. In a food processor, combine the chiles, garlic, onion, Italian seasoning, and diced tomatoes.
  3. Add 1 tsp olive oil to a large soup pot on medium heat, then add your tomato puree. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.
  4. Stir in Sriracha (or your favorite hot sauce) to taste. I like things spicy, so I used quite a bit.
  5. Add the juice from the clams, 2 cups chicken broth, 3 cups water, salt, pepper, and bay leaf and simmer for 5 minutes.
  6. Slowly add in 3 tbsp tomato paste and stir until blended with the broth.
  7. Add carrots and cauliflower and allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until vegetables reach your desired consistency.
  8. Add the shrimp and clams. Allow stew to return to a simmer, then turn off heat, cover, and let it sit for 10 minutes.
  9. Add more salt & pepper to taste before serving.


This stew was DEFINITELY a winner. We love seafood and spicy dishes, so this was a double whammy. The leftovers were 10x better once the flavors had a chance to blend, so next time I might just make it ahead of time and eat it all week long. YUM!

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Catalina’s Restaurant


catalina's sign
I’m a firm believer that you can’t judge a book by it’s cover. This is especially true with some of the best ethnic restaurants I’ve ever had the pleasure of visiting.

Catalina’s Restaurant opened up in our neighborhood in Northeast Minneapolis about a year ago, in a small strip mall down the street.   They claim that “taste is our specialty”, and serve up both Mexican and various other Latin American cuisine.

We decided we were way past due to give Catalina’s a try. Upon walking in, I must admit that Catalina’s isn’t the most aesthetically pleasing place around…fluorescent lighting and plastic tablecloths in a tiny dining space. But seeing as taste is their specialty, we weren’t about to let the décor deter us. Besides, the space was very clean and organized, which is certainly a plus.

In true Latin American fashion, our visit started out right with a small basket of homemade chips and salsa. They had me at hello. We went through 2 of these baskets and ate every. last. drop. of the hot salsa.

 catalinas chips


Mike ordered the chicken burrito – a flour tortilla stuffed with beans, rice, sour cream, lettuce, cheese, and chicken. The meat was tender and super tasty with a nice smoky, cumin-y flavor.

 catalinas burrito

I ordered “la especialidad de la casa”, the scallop soup, cooked to perfection with a mixture of yucca, plantains, potatoes, scallops, carrots, and cabbage. This soup was absolutely BOMB (am I too old to use that word?). The broth was light but creamy (coconut milk perhaps?), and the sweet and savory flavors complemented one another so well. I almost licked the bowl clean.

 catalinas soup


I am disappointed that we waited so long to discover Catalina’s amazing food. It is a very affordable, no-frills restaurant that is truly dedicated to creating delicious food with quality ingredients. We look forward to visiting again (sooner rather than later). If you’re in the market for an authentic Mexican or Honduran meal, check out Catalina’s.

Paella for 4, anyone?


YUM RATING: 9.5/10


What’s your favorite family-owned ethnic spot?

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Asparagus pee (and a reci-pee!)

asparagus pee

We eat a fairly decent amount of asparagus in our household. And why not? It’s a fabulous source of vitamins A, C ,E, and K, as well as fiber, folate, and chromium. It’s also a great detoxifier and is full of antioxidants that neutralize free radicals. Score. Plus it tastes yummy with butter and sea salt.

The only downside I can think of to this killer veggie?  Smelly pee. I was genuinely curious as to the cause (and I’m confident that now you are too), so I hit up Google for some answers.

According to WebMD, only about ¼ of the population has the special gene that allows them to smell the specific compounds our bodies create when digesting asparagus. This was news to me.  So everyone creates smelly asparagus pee, but not everyone can smell it. Lucky folks.

The actual smell, according to, is caused by a metabolite called methanethiol. As your body breaks down asparagus, it produces this chemical and tells your kidneys to transport it to your bladder. “Methanethiol is composed mostly of sulfur with a splash of hydrogen, plus some carbon, a brew famous for its effect in rotten eggs, cabbages, and paper mills” (, 2013). All stinky stuff. Makes sense!

Regardless of smell, we’ll continue to regularly eat asparagus, since I’m pretty sure it’s health benefits outweigh this particular shortcoming.  And now that you’re super pumped about asparagus too, how about a simple, tasty reci-pee!? (please humor me, it’s Friday).

Easy Sautéed Asparagus


·         1 bunch fresh asparagus

·         1 tbsp butter

·         2-3 cloves garlic

·         Sea salt & pepper

·         ½ lemon

·         ¼ c shredded parmesan cheese


1.     Break off the bottom 2 inches of each asparagus stalk and discard.

2.     Cut each stalk into 1-2 inch sections.

3.     Melt butter in sauté pan on medium heat – add garlic and heat until golden.

4.     Add asparagus & sauté 3-4 minutes until bright green and tender but still a bit crunchy.

5.     Add ½ a lemon worth of juice and cook for another 2-3 minutes until asparagus reaches your desired consistency.

6.     Remove from pan and toss with parmesan cheese, sea salt, and pepper. Enjoy.

7.     Think about how tasty it was the next time you go to the bathroom.

For those of you still reading…thanks for sticking around to learn about this somewhat un-PC (but quite fascinating) topic.

What other strange bodily functions should I research?

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Champagne Turkey


It’s Thanksgiving week! What better time  to share a yummy recipe for a Thanksgiving turkey?  Although, if you’re reading this on Tuesday or Wednesday, make sure to spring for a fresh bird or you’ll be eating on Saturday. You’re welcome.

I first made this fabulous turkey for our FriendsGiving celebration last year. The secret to this super moist, flavorful turkey is the champagne. It’s also probably the simplest Thanksgiving bird you’ll ever roast. No basting required!  Plus the drippings make a killer gravy. Now that’s something to be thankful for.

Champagne Turkey


12-15 lb turkey (neck/giblets removed)

½ cup butter, cubed

2 apples, cored and halved

1 onion, cut into large chunks

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1 Tbsp cajun seasoning

Salt & pepper

2/3 (750 ml) bottle of extra dry champagne



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F
  2. Rinse turkey and pat dry. Gently loosen the skin and insert chunks of butter between the skin and the breast. Place apples and onions inside the turkey’s cavity. Sprinkle with garlic powder, cajun seasoning, salt, and pepper.
  3. Shake about a tablespoon of flour in your roasting bag beforehand to prevent your turkey from sticking to the bag. Place turkey in the roasting bag and pour champagne all over (both inside and outside). Close the bag and place turkey in a roasting pan.
  4. Bake for 3 – 3 ½ hours or until the internal temp reaches 180 degrees when measured in the meatiest part of the thigh.
  5. Remove turkey from bag and let stand for at least 20 minutes before carving.


My favorite Thanksgiving side is Mom’s green bean casserole. What’s yours?

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Easy Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake


Eating paleo, sometimes you’re limited in the amount of easy, comfort-style foods you can create. Enter the spaghetti squash – just like noodles and you can find them everywhere this time of year.

I stumbled upon this recipe and decided to give it a try. Chock-full of healthy veggies and ooey gooey cheesy goodness. Bonus – it’s super simple.


Easy Cheesy Spaghetti Squash Bake


1 large spaghetti squash
Olive oil
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 carrot, shredded
2 cloves garlic, pressed
16 oz tomato sauce
4 oz shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup shredded parmesan cheese


1.     Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.    Poke your spaghetti squash with a knife all over. Microwave for 8-12 minutes until soft.

3.    While squash is cooking, add oil, garlic, pepper, zucchini, and carrots to a pan and cook over medium heat

4.    Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds, and scrape the flesh from the peel with a fork. Place the spaghetti-like squash flesh into a casserole dish. Add the veggies, diced tomato, sauce, and most of the cheese and mix well.

5.    Sprinkle the leftover cheese on top and bake for 30 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly.

5.    Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve. Say Mmmmmm.



What’s your favorite thing to do with spaghetti squash?  Do you think it makes an awesome substitute for noodles too?

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Element Wood Fire Pizza



What’s not to love about wood-fired pizza?  Seriously. My ideal ‘za has a hand-tossed crust….somewhat thin and airy with a nice little crunch on the exterior. No, it’s not a pipe dream. It exists….in Minneapolis.

We had been meaning to visit Element Pizza since it opened about a year ago. This place is TINY and is located right on Broadway Ave in NE Minneapolis, a couple of miles from our house.  The Sis and Bro-in-law were in town for a few hours, so we decided to do dinner somewhere local – enter Element Pizza.

The décor was warm and cozy, with just a handful of tables. You order at the counter and the food arrives quickly. The menu at Element consists of several unique wood-fired pizzas, appetizers, and a few salads. They have several different wines by the bottle, which happened to be ½ price on Mondays and Tuesdays with the purchase of a 2 topping pizza. Score.

I opted to share a pizza with the sis and also ordered a small spinach salad to accompany it. The salad was right up my alley, with spinach, gorgonzola, walnuts, and dried cranberrires in a raspberry vinaigrette. Mmm.



The pizzas are all very unique so we had a tough time deciding which to order. We ended up going with the “Earth” – which had artichokes, salami, garlic, and basil. Remember my ideal crust? Yeah…this is it.



The hubs ordered the “Fire” pizza, which is now competing for a slot in the top 5 pizzas I have ever tried. Spicy sausage, roasted red pepper, goat cheese, and basil. WOW.




The Bottom Line

Wood-fired pizza is the only way to go in my book. They are ready quickly and the crust is cooked perfectly. The pizza at Element reminds me of another Minneapolis joint, Pizzeria Lola in South Minneapolis. We weren’t sure if we could find a comparable ‘za, but it turns out this one is even closer to home. And they DELIVER! Whaaaat?  This could be dangerous.

We will absolutely be returning to Element when the pizza cravings strike again.


Yum Rating: 9.5/10

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Crock Pot BBQ Chicken Lettuce Wraps



Generally, when we buy a family-sized package of chicken breasts, we eat a couple of them for dinner and freeze the rest for future chicken dinners.  This time, we didn’t get around to freezing them and it was high time they got eaten. So I decided to cook them all up at once.

BBQ chicken sounded like an awesome autumn-Sunday-football meal. I’m pretty sure this would taste good on just about anything…but in trying to stay low-carb, I decided to make them into lettuce wraps.  A tad messy, but pretty tasty indeed. Note: this amount of chicken will serve several people, so you will have leftovers. But the chicken is just as good the next day. Promise.




6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed

12 oz of your favorite bbq sauce

½ cup Italian dressing

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Romaine lettuce

Cheddar cheese

Grape tomatoes




Place chicken breasts in crock pot.

Mix together bbq, Italian dressing, brown sugar, and Worcestershire and pour over chicken.

Cook on high for 3 hours.

Remove chicken and shred with a fork. Return chicken to crock pot and mix thoroughly – cook 1 hour.

Remove and add chicken, cheddar cheese, and diced grape tomatoes to romaine lettuce.

Wrap up and enjoy!


Don’t forget your napkin!

I’m glad we made a big batch, because this is going to taste great on my lunch salads and provide some tasty protein all week.


Do you make certain meals in large quantities, just so you can have leftovers for several days afterwards?


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Turkey & Veggie Soup

Sometimes you have a VERY busy week coming up and you need to make something that you can “grab and go” all week long. This is our go-to choice for times like that. Credit for this recipe goes to Ellie at Healthy Training. I saw this recipe in her e-newsletter awhile back and we decided to make it right away.

We like to call it “crack stew” because for some reason, we never get sick of eating it. Even if we have it for lunch and dinner several days in a row, it never seems to get old. From a health perspective, this soup has so much going for it. It is broth-based rather than cream-based, and doesn’t have any added carbs in the form of noodles, rice, or potatoes – yet it is still extremely thick and satisfying.

We altered the recipe a bit for our personal tastes and threw in even more veggies than the original recipe called for.




  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 bunch of carrots, chopped
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1 bunch of celery, chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, chopped
  • 1 package mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1.3 lbs lean ground turkey
  • 4 cups veggie broth
  • 1 (14.5oz) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (15oz) can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 ears of corn, kernels sliced off
  • 3 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • dash of salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. In a large skillet heat the olive oil. Add garlic.
  2. Add chopped carrots, cover for 5 minutes.
  3. Add onions, celery and fennel. Sauté until soft.
  4. Remove from pan, then add mushrooms and bell pepper. Sauté until soft.
  5. In another skillet, cook the ground turkey over medium heat until fully cooked, stirring often. Drain off excess fat.
  6. Transfer the veggies to large soup pot and add the remaining ingredients, and the cooked turkey. Cover and cook over low heat for 40 minutes. Add extra water as desired.


Nutritional Analysis: One serving equals: 119 calories, 1 fat, 336mg sodium, 10g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, and 15g protein.

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Simple Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Photo credit

Did you know that a single serving of regular, fried French fries can contain upwards of 320 calories? Bummer. Sometimes you just want a batch of fries, but don’t want to pay for it on the scale later. Why not try some baked sweet potato “fries” instead? You’ll cut the calories in half and give your body some extra nutrients in the process.

Sweet potatoes are loaded with antioxidants and are rich in vitamin C and beta-carotene. They also have a lower glycemic index than white spuds. What does that mean? They won’t  cause a drastic spike in blood sugar like white potatoes can, which will keep you feeling full longer.

Simple Baked Sweet Potato “Fries”

Makes 2 sides


1 large yam

Olive oil

Salt & pepper

Garlic powder


–          Preheat oven to 450 degreees F

–          Wash sweet potato and dry thoroughly, leaving the skin on.

–          Slice into ½ inch thick strips

–          Toss in a bowl with a small amount of olive oil (you want them glistening but not dripping)

–          Add in salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste and toss

–          Arrange on a cookie sheet – make sure they aren’t piled on top of one another.

–          Bake for 15 minutes and flip with tongs

–          Continue baking for another 15 minutes or until your fries reach desired crispiness

I also created my own aioli to go along with these fries and it was pretty delicious. It somewhat negates the health benefits, since it is mayo-based. But yummy nonetheless, so you can take it or leave it.

Lemon Aioli

5 tbsp olive oil mayo

2 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

1 garlic clove, pressed

½ tsp all-purpose seasoning

Mix ingredients together. Dip your sweet potato fries and enjoy!

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