Fall brings more than post card perfect leaf color to Minnesota’s North Shore. Crisp juicy local apples are at their prime. That means caramel apple season at Great!Lakes Candy Kitchen in Knife River.
Each caramel apple is lovingly prepared in small batches from scratch. A plunge of warm caramel cools into a blanket of buttery sweetness. The coveted sweet cream caramel spills over the curve of the apple forming a puddle.
Natural beauty lies within the edible wrapper. A locally-grown Honey Crisp or Sweet Tango apple bursts with autumn harvest juiciness. The apple hides under a generous dip of homespun caramel – not just any caramel but an old Canelake family recipe handed down from generation to generation.
You’ll want to jump right in and eat one. But how: bottom up or top down? Or maybe – in a well-intended but futile attempt to stay tidy – use a knife? Eating a gooey caramel apple poses many challenges from sticky fingers to food tainted clothes to messy tooth residue and all are a joy to overcome. Any way you go, this caramel apple can only delight.
After one bite, only a Great!Lakes Candy Kitchen caramel apple will do. In a world populated with far too many uninspired supermarket interpretations, this scrumptious jubilation outranks all others.
Savor the true taste of the season. You’ll enjoy fall even more with a real caramel apple in hand even if things get a little messy.
What’s more fun than a weekend cupcake event? “Wag-wag…Why nothing!” says Turtle the dog.
A puppy mill survivor, the cute as button pint-sized pouch, has a cupcake named in his honor. Sweet Retreat sponsored a cupcake fundraiser for Turtle when he was sick and need financial help. His tail to recovery is a long one, and many dog-loving thoughtful folks helped along the way.
Now Turtle is turning two. He’s better. One look at his deep dark puppy eyes and your heart will melt.
Turtle Cupcake Time
To celebrate his successful road to recovery and help other dogs in need, Sweet Retreat is bringing back the famed Turtle cupcake. Rich dark chocolate with a sweet disposition through and through the Turtle cupcake is a befitting tribute to Turtle the dog.
Turtle Cupcake Birthday Celebration:
Saturday, August 29 from 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Sweet Retreat Cupcake Boutique, 5013 France Ave. S., Minneapolis at 50th and France.
Get Your Turtle Cupcakes
Show your paws on support. Visit Sweet Retreat Cupcake Boutique on Saturday and buy a special Turtle cupcake. Maybe get a few for your family and friends. They’ll be glad you did and it’s all for a good canine cause. One dollar from each Turtle cupcake goes to Underdog Rescue.
The Twin Cities based-based rescue organization is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and placing “underdogs” in the forever homes they deserve. Underdog Rescue focuses on animals like Turtle who need the most help. Vet bills often come along with dog rescue and adoption efforts. Show your support with cupcakes and consider a cash donation Underdog Rescue.
Cupcakes are even better when they benefit your dog friends! Turtle agrees.
With St. Patrick’s Day comes Irish soda bread. Heavy loaves fresh from the oven win over hearts – even non-Irish ones. Who could resist? Moist crumbs cling to your teeth with a pleasant starchy paste.
Douse your Irish soda bread in a spot of hot tea. Only strong tea like Irish Breakfast brewed to a deep black with a splash of cold milk will do.
Why limit the joy to just St. Patrick’s Day? Irish soda bread is tasty enough to eat year round. Just be sure to eat your bread straight from the oven or sure as yesterday’s crop of shamrocks, the glory will fade.
My Irish soda bread has non-traditional healthy add-ins like flaxseed meal and chia seeds. Still, the loaf has an Old World hearty grain taste. This is my much changed version of the Irish Soda Bread recipe from British book — Bread: the Breads of the World and How to Bake Them at Home by Christine Ingram and Jennie Shapter published by Hermes House.
Whole Grain Irish Soda Bread
Ingredients13/4 cups buttermilk ½ cup dark raisins 1 3/4 cups whole wheat pastry flour 2 cups all-purpose flour 3 tablespoons golden flax seed meal 2 tablespoons oat bran 2 teaspoons baking soda 2 teaspoons cream of tartar Pinch salt ¼ cup butter, cold 1 teaspoon baking soda 2 tablespoons butter, room temperature 2 tablespoons chia seeds
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Measure buttermilk into a medium-sized mixing bowl. Mix raisins into the buttermilk and set aside.
Sift whole wheat pastry flour, all-purpose flour, golden flax seed meal, oat bran, baking soda, cream of tartar and salt together in a bowl. Rub in cold butter until only small bits of butter remain. Form a well in the center of the flour mixture, and pour in the buttermilk-raisin mixture. Stir the wet-dry ingredient mixture just enough to form a ball of dough. Do not overwork dough. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Spread dough ball with soft butter and smooth out with your hands. Top with chia seeds. Place on lightly greased baking sheet. Using a large serrated bread knife, make two deep cuts like a cross into the round dough .
Bake 45 minutes or until knife comes out clean. Eat right from the oven. Leftover Irish soda bread has a stale crumb.
This classic French dish is a snap to make with a bunch of fresh spinach and a ready-made pie crust. Spinach and cheese quiche makes a great light lunch or dinner served with a salad.
Real Hens Make Quiche
As is true with most any recipe, the better the quality of the ingredients, the better the final result will be. Buy the best quality cheese that you can afford. Real French Gruyere rather than plain old Swiss would be ideal. Also use real farm eggs that come from free-range, cage-free hens. They do have a richer taste and more nutrients.
Falling Is OK
The quiche looks puffy right out of the oven. After cooling a few minutes, the quiche settles down to a more standard thickness and texture. Either way, your quiche will impress. If you have time go all out and make your own pie crust from scratch.
Spinach and Cheese Quiche
Ingredients3 cups spinach 6 medium eggs 1/2 cup half and half 1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg 1/2 teaspoon salt freshly ground pepper 1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese 2 green onions, thinly sliced 1 pie crust
Preheat oven to 350F.
Rinse and drain spinach to remove all dirt. This can take up to three separate rinses. Steam spinach for about 4 minutes or just until tender. Place spinach in a colander, and set aside to drain and cool.
In a large bowl, mix eggs, half and half, nutmeg, salt and pepper until combined. Stir in cheese, green onions and cooled spinach.
Carefully pour mixture into pie shell. Set filled pie shell on a round cookie sheet and place into preheated oven. Bake at 350F for 45 minutes or until set.
Eat more greens and love them. Arugula prepared with a quick, easy, healthy Mediterranean-style presentation makes eating right a pleasure. Greens can be good.
Terrifically Tasty Greens
A snappy sauté transforms arugula greens into a warm savory nosh. Nutty Marconia almonds and pine nuts add a chewy texture. Chickpeas boast a bean-based heft that’s almost meaty.
While some protein or pasta could go along side, wilted winter greens with beans stand on their own. This vegan vegetable-bean—nut combo is substantive without embellishment.
Nice Leaves Only Please
To heighten flavor and avoid any bitterness, use the freshest greens available. Buy and cook your arugula on the same day if possible. Inspect the arugula carefully and discard any wilted or discolored leaves. If a leaf appears bad, toss it. A dish with a few ingredients can’t afford any bad apple taste.
Eat It All
Only cook enough for the meal at hand and serve wilted arugula greens with beans promptly. Cooked greens do not age well. This is a dish to eat and enjoy fresh.
Wilted Winter Greens with Beans
Ingredients:2 tablespoons olive oil 2 cloves garlic, crushed 1 tablespoon white wine ½ cup canned chickpeas, drained 4 cups arugula leaves, washed, dried and picked over ¼ cup Marcona almonds 2 tablespoons pine nuts Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
Place olive oil in a large heavy frying pan over low heat. Blend in garlic and cook for about one minute; do not let garlic turn brown or a strong bitterness will over power the dish. Quickly stir in white wine to soften garlic and prevent browning. Toss in chickpeas to coat with liquid. Carefully, blend in greens. Stir occasionally until arugula is cooked, about two minutes. Add Marcona almonds, pine nuts, salt and pepper. Place on a serving dish a drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
Chocolate lovers rejoice. Homemade from scratch mousse comes together in minutes. Four ingredients make a marvelous mousse.
Pick your pleasure. Dark, milk and white chocolate work equally well. Get fancy. Make a batch of each and layer ribbons of chocolate delight. Impress everyone with a grand look. Only you will know how easy minute mousse is to prepare.
One universal rule: the higher grade of the chocolate, the better the flavor will be. Never use chocolate chips, they have more of a waxy texture than fine eating chocoalte and fight melting. Instead, treat yourself to some top-quality chocolate bars.
Homemade chocolate mousse is elegant. The simplicity of creamy, fluffy, buttery chocolate stands on its own. Just spoon into a martini glass, Mason jar or fluted ramekin.
Or go all out and dress the mousse up with:
- Fresh fruit: raspberries, strawberries, cherries
- Cake: vanilla, chocolate, angel food
- Pie: cookie crumb crusts
- Dessert cups: frilly molded chocolate shapes for a dessert hors d’oeuvres
- Sides: cookies or heart-shaped candies
Any way you choose, a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream completes the dessert with a contrasting white puff. Just keep your creations cool and covered or promptly serve.
Valentine’s Day or Everyday
For Valentine’s Day, chocolate cream mousse is ideally indulgent. The dessert is so easy to fix up into something special and seductive.
For day-to-day eating chocolate cream minute mousse easily fills a void. When all the goodies are gone and the need for chocolate hits, make minute mousse.
Chocolate Cream Minute Mousse
Ingredients:2/3 cup chocolate, broken into chunks 2 cups heavy cream 1/3 cup granulated sugar (use 2/3 cup for dark chocolate mousse) 3 tablespoons Grand Marnier liquor
Slowly melt chocolate stirring occasional in a very heavy pan or over a double broiler (without pan touching the water) over low heat. Take off heat and let cool for a few minutes to almost room temperature.
Meanwhile whip cream in a large bowl. Add sugar and Grand Marnier. Quickly fold in chocolate stirring fast to avoid clumps of chocolate. Fold just until blended. Place mousse in refrigerator to firm.
Top with lightly sweetened whipped cream, garnish and serve.
Game day is on the way. The football celebration would not be complete without food and that means plenty of snacks.
Veggie tortilla roll ups are as tasty as they are tidy. A slather of cream cheese anchors a colorful mix of fresh vegetables. The hand-held three-bite size is ideal for an appetizer.
Think thin. Slivers of vegetables and finely grated cheese roll up best. Resist the urge to put in anything juicy like fresh tomatoes. Plan ahead and let the filled tortillas rest a few hours in the refrigerator and then cut them with a good serrated knife.
Serve to your happy team right away or bench in the fridge tightly covered. The roll ups make a good game day beak, no matter who wins.
Veggie Tortilla Roll Ups
Ingredients:8 oz. cream cheese, softened to room temperature 4 flour tortillas, 8-inch ¼ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained ¼ cup Cheddar cheese, finely grated ¼ cup salsa, drained Thinly sliced: red peppers, green peppers, black olives, baby spinach or avocados
Generously spread cream cheese on the flour tortillas going as far out to the edge as possible.
Sprinkle a tablespoon of black beans, Cheddar cheese and salsa on each as evenly as possible. Smooth over with a rubber scrapper if needed.
Scatter two tablespoons of thinly sliced vegetables on top.
Carefully roll up each tortilla pressing as hard as you can to get a tight roll without breaking. I eat any mistakes! Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours. Take out of fridge, and slice with a good serrated knife. Serve immediately or keep very tightly wrapped until served.
Never fear a boring salad even during the dead of winter. Feathery mixed greens come alive with this melody of Mediterranean-like fresh flavors. A sunny delight beams from peak harvest oranges. Go beyond ordinary thick skinned navel oranges. Indulge your senses with the reddish Cara Cara’s juicer pulp and spicy aroma.
Fresh thinly sliced fennel has a hint of licorice and a crisp snap. A few toasted walnuts contribute a buttery crunch with energizing protein. Good quality black olives add a contrasting salty taste.
Seal the deal with a light-handed drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of salt. Buy the best produce and ingredients that you can find and afford. Delicate textures and flavors will not mask a wilted leaf or blemish.
Orange, Olive, Walnut Salad
Ingredients:3 cups mixed greens, washed and dried 2 oranges ¼ cup thinly sliced fennel ¼ cup black olives ¼ cup walnut pieces, toasted 3 tablespoons olive oil, best table quality Salt
Arrange mixed greens on two plates. Peel and section oranges, and place on top of greens. Top with fennel, black olives and walnuts. Drizzle a touch of olive oil over the salads and finish with a whisper of salt. Serve immediately.
When the weather turns hot and humid with chattering song of cicadas, corn suddenly appears. Local corn season starts about mid-summer. Good fresh corn with a grainy sweet juicy kernel tastes good served just about any way.
Here’s how to dress up something good and turn it into something better. Picture crunchy sweet corn kernels bursting with milky juice, smooth creamy white beans, salty crisp bacon bits and an emerald green confetti of online-like chives. Indulge in a harmonious savory mix of late summer flavors.
Everyone loves corn, bean and bacon salad. Save some leftover fresh corn and cut it off the cob to make this tasty summer treat. This salad mixes together quick with only four ingredients.
Corned In for Summer
Fresh from the field sweet corn holds a special place is my heart. My dear Grandmother would take us for a “buggy ride” to buy ears from Drowns in Green Springs, Ohio. This was no ordinary corn. Drowns was a working farm that sold a just snapped from the stalk harvest.
Many Happy Returns
So many years and miles later, we still enjoy corn. Generations of happy corn eating go into my corn, bean and bacon salad.
Corn, Bean and Bacon Salad
Ingredients:1 ½ cups fresh corn, cooked and cut off the cob (about 4 ears) 1 – 15 ounce can of Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed 10 slices of bacon cooked and drained 3 tablespoons of fresh, snipped chives
Cook fresh corn on the cob in salted boiling water for 7 minutes or until tender. Drain and once ears are cool, place on a big, edged cookie sheet and cut off kernels with a sharp knife. Set aside.
Rinse beans in a colander and shake to dry. Set aside.
In a large heavy skillet, fry bacon to cook and drain away grease. Allow to cool and cut into dime-sized pieces. Set aside
Carefully wash, dry and snip chives into a large bowl. Gently combine corn, white beans and bacon to the chives.
Serve cold. This stores well and makes a perfect picnic or potluck cold casserole dish.
This is an adaptation of a recipe from Bon Appétit magazine from the 90’s when life and food were much simpler.