Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Why I love Cafe Lurcat

Hopefully these photos speak for themselves because they represent why I absolutely adore Cafe Lurcat.

It is a gorgeous space with the most beautiful chandeliers you've ever seen, the best-tasting french fries you've ever had and a "close your eyes after you take a sip it's so good" Ruby martini. The salted caramel ice cream was not too shabby either.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Al Vento

I went out to eat way too much this weekend and that's not a good thing for two reasons:

1. It's way too expensive (though admittedly it is a really nice treat)
2. I started on Weight Watchers again on Monday and it's hard to be dining out while dieting

So for this post I'll pretend like I am made of money and the food I ate over the weekend was calorie-less.

On Friday evening, I met up with my friend Kristin at Al Vento in South Minneapolis. We had a great time and really delicious food. Al Vento is a quaint, little place with a nice patio surrounded by flowers and herbs in planters. They have half price bottles of wine daily from 4:30 - 6pm and $5 martinis. We ordered a bottle of Pinot Grigio but I couldn't resit the strawberry rhubard martini. The martini photo below says it all, delicious and refreshing and presented with a delicate edible flower that was grown in a planter 5 feet from our table.

Kristin and I shared the Sicilian stuffed mushrooms with pine nuts and a red sauce, they were delicous. Kristin often makes stuffed mushrooms but said these were awesome. Kristin ordered parpadelle with walnuts, spinach and Donnay goat cheese as an entree and I had a couple bites. It was really rich but great and the left overs were brought home to Kristin's boyfriend, Tim (I call him Timmy) and he really liked it as well. I've since learned that Donnay goat cheese is local and organic, from a family farm in Kimble, MN.

Kristin is a sucker for sweets and desserts (did I mention she runs marathons and can eat anything she wants???) so she ordered one scoop of the homemade blueberry gelato. It was gorgeous, and though she thought it was good, she thought it lacked a bit of flavor.

Overall, I couldn't have asked for a better way to spend my Friday night. I was with one of my best friends, drinking wine and martinis and eating delicious food. That is what I call Friday night perfection.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The loveliest tablescape

If you've been reading my blog then you know I have a "10-year old girl" desire to throw a tea party. I went to Spring Tea with my mom and a couple other gals in my family a few months ago and have been thinking of it ever since. I've even stopped into an antique store in St. Paul a couple times to check out the dainty tea cups and saucers. Now I just have to convince myself that it makes perfect sense to spend $100 on vintage cups for a one time event.

I have been gathering inspiration from many sources for this upcoming tea party, cookbooks, decorating magazines, all over the web, even Target.

Check out the latest inspiration I found from House Beautiful magazine. This tablescape would be perfect for a tea party and I just love the shabby chic-ness. What do you think? Wouldn't you want to come to tea???

Here is a link to the tea party inspiration board I created a while ago.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Goat cheese and herb-stuffed chicken breasts

I'm back on Weight Watchers again (this week) so I dug into the (way) back of my kitchen cabinet and found my Simply Delicious Weight Watchers cookbook. Surprisingly, this thing is loaded with good (and low-point friendly) meals. Last night I made goat cheese and herb-stuffed chicken breasts and they were great, and only 6 points.

Goat cheese and herb-stuffed chicken breast

2 ounces goat cheese
2 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, rinsed under water, patted dry, and finely chopped
1 scallion, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped basil
2 teaspoons chopped thyme (I didn't have fresh so I used dry, if you do this remember that dried herbs are more concentrated than fresh so don't use as much)
1/4 cup plain dry bread crumbs (I used panko)
4 skinless boneless chicken breasts
4 teaspoons reduced-calorie mayonnaise
1 1/2 pounds baby spinach, rinsed

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Spray a nonstick baking pan with nonstick spray. Combine the cheese, sun-dried tomatoes, scallion, basil, and thyme in a bowl, mashing with a fork, until blended. Place the bread crumbs in another small bowl.

Cut a pocket into the side of each chicken breast about 2 1/2 inches long. Place one quarter of the goat cheese mixture inside each slit. Lightly press the pocket closed with a fork. Brush the top side of each breast with the mayonnaise. Dip the chicken, one piece at a time, coated-side down into the bread crumbs. Transfer coated side up to the baking pan.

Spray the tops of the chicken lightly with nonstick spray. Bake until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden, about 25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the spinach in a large steamer basket set in a saucepan over 1 inch of boiling water. Cover tightly and steam until the spinach just wilts, about 3 minutes. Transfer the spinach to a platter, then top with chicken.

I served this with cous cous and a side of cherry tomatoes. By the time I got to plating I was tired and hungry and just threw a handful of cherry tomatoes, uncut on the plate. Not the best presentation, but the meal was delicious! Don't be weirded out by coating the chicken breast with mayo, it keeps the chicken nice and moist and gives it a base for the bread crumbs to stick to.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Barrio in St. Paul was a bust

My girlfriend Libby and I had a fabulous girl's weekend last weekend. Our guys were doing their own thing all weekend (horse races, beer, poker and more beer) and we did ours (happy hour, pedicures, shopping, cooking).

Friday evening started out with a much anticipated happy hour at Barrio in St. Paul. I was super excited to check out Barrio in lowertown St. Paul becaused it is a close 3 mile drive or bus ride from my home in South Saint Paul and I like to support businesses going in downtown St. Paul because it is known to be quite a ghost town in terms of any nightlight.

Unfortunately, Barrio was not a good experience. Here are the details:

Barrio's website hours said Friday was open from 11am - 2pm and that happy hour was M-F 4pm-6pm. Libby and I got there promptly at 4pm only to have a woman inform us that they didn't open until 5pm. That wasn't a huge deal, but seemed odd to me that they wouldn't have some information on their website about different hours for their St. Paul location or perhaps it was special hours for the opening week?

The highlight of the evening was heading over to Bulldog to kill time while we waited for Barrio to open. That place is awesome, they had great happy hour specials and great service. I will definitely be going back to Bulldog.

5pm came quickly so we paid our Bulldog tab and headed back to Barrio (next door). The hostess asked us if we would like a table, I said "sure, we're here for happy hour" to which she (very rudely) replied, "we don't have happy hour until Monday". Is it just me or do you agree that it's weird to not have specials available until the week after you open? I thought so and I thought it was annoying that their website (again) had incorrect information. Libby and I were not the only ones who came for happy hour because the couple behind us also asked about happy hour.

I hope I don't sound like a cheapo here but I have had enough bad experience trying out a new restaurant that now I like to check them out during happy hour when drinks and appetizers are discounted rather than dropping $100 on a meal that is disappointing.

Anyway, back to the details:

- Waitress was awesome, no complaints there

- Libby ordered a $9 blackberry mojito, it was not good, way too sweet!

- I ordered a chelada beer cocktail called a bloody chipotle beer and didn't like it. It basically tasted like watered down beer with a tiny bit of tomato juice and way over-spiced.

- Enchiladas and tacos can be ordered a la carte so I ordered a chorizo potato (I think the potato part convined me) and Libby ordered a chicken enchilada. Both good, but a bit over-priced.

- We also shared a "small plate" of mushroom quesadillas. They were horrible! They were so salty that neither of us could finish more than one slice. Ew.

The total for all the above was $40, which doesn't break the bank but also wasn't worth it. I think I was mostly disappointed in the lack of correct information on their website. There has been a bunch of local press about Barrio opening in St. Paul and buzz on Twitter and it just really surprises me that there wasn't a special section on their site calling our different St. Paul hours and specials.

A couple good things I'll say about Barrio is that the decor and atmosphere is cool as hell. It has this semi-dark, romantic, almost goth feel with sexy candelabras and cool Mexican masks on the wall. The second thing is that the presentation of the food was really lovely.

If I was convinced by someone who had a really good experience then maybe I would give Barrio a second chance. So if that person is you (who had a good experience) shoot me an email at eatdrinkpretty@gmail.com and let me know!

If you are still reading this post, thanks, you're a trooper for keeping with me this long!

Some pics from our Barrio experience, as I mentined above, no complaints about the presentation.

Baby shower inspiration board

My younger sister's best friend just found out she's having a girl. Katie (my sister) is throwing a baby shower for her in October and has already begun planning for this special party. Her vision is a bird theme with gorgeous stationery, a dessert table with pretty cupcakes and bird/nest decor throughout.

Katie put together this lovely inspiration board to help her through planning, isn't it great? If any of you are interested, inspiration boards literally take 15 minutes to throw together and they are more helpful than you would think in planning a party. Email me at eatdrinkpretty@gmail.com if you are interested in step by step directions or if you have an upcoming party that you've created a board for and I'll post it!

This is the "before" of the party, the vision and the planning stage. After the party, I'll post photos to show how Katie executed the bird-themed shower. I am sure it'll be fantastic.

Email me if any of the above photos are yours and you would like credit or request to remove them.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Burger Cupcakes!?

I have had a bit of an obsession with cupcakes lately. Check out these cute and very unique burger and fries cupcakes from a great baking blog called Bakerella. If you click over to the blog there are step by step instructions on how to make these, wouldn't they be great for a child's b-day party?

I don't think I'd ever attempt them, but they sure are cute, aren't they???

I think I'm especially drawn to these because of the french fry visual. Man I love fries so much. Speaking of...I am going to Cafe Lurcat for happy hour and I will be enjoying a lavender martini and their delicious french fries with bernaise!!! Yummy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Inspiration board - 30 and Fabulous

My good friend Libby is fabulous and turning 30 on July 24th, to celebrate we are throwing her a Mexican Fiesta. What that means to us is:

A keg
Red Sangria as the signature drink
Homemade salsas and guacomole
A rocking taco bar
Perhaps a pinata or two
Mustaches (don't ask but I guarantee Erik will take this opportunity to wear one)
Lovely decor

I put together an inspiration board of the vision I have for the day. I have a bunch of cylander vases left over from my wedding that I'd like to fill up with limes and use as centerpieces at the taco bar. I've also been collecting jars and am repurposing them as party decor by adding a candle and putting them around the backyard for that lovely glow. I'd love to add wire and hang them but we'll see if Erik let's me do that.

I do not have proper photo credits for this inspiration board so if you've happened upon my blog and I am illegally using your photo, let me know and I'll take it down asap!

Doesn't this party look like lots of fun and muy delicioso????

Monday, June 15, 2009

A mini food blog?

Ok so this Mini Food blog is part totally weird, part "oh my god this is so cute I'm think I'm going to die". Click here and check it out the teeny tiny models of food. Whatever possessed someone to specialize in the creation of mini food is beyond me, but I stumbled across this site when I was searching for food blogs and (maybe I shouldn't be admitting this) but I've gone back a few times to check it out. The little desserts just kill me with their cuteness!

So what do you think? Weird or cute? Or maybe it is ok to be a bit of both. Here are a couple pics of the mini foods they feature.

My wedding photographer

Jennie Sewell of Sewell Photography (my wedding photographer) is a finalist in the MN Bride Best of 2009 for the photography category, check out all the finalists here. Given there are thousands of MN photographers out there, this is pretty amazing.

If you happen to be looking for a wedding photog, be sure to check out her blog for all her latest work (I get a pretty good wedding fix when she posts her recent weddings)! She has an awesome, unobtrusive style with a lot of talent and she is the kind of person you want to be around.

Below are some of my favorite pics of Erik and I she took on our wedding day.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Awesome feedback!!!

I received the sweetest email from a gal that has been reading my blog. Here is a part of the email she sent:

"I just love your blog by the way...I have made several of your recipes...the buffalo chicken dip was a HUGE hit at my last party and everyone kept asking for the recipe!! And the apple fig bruschetta is my favorite. Except I put everything on them and then cook them...its soooo good!! And I am now obsessed with the link to Style me Pretty too...sheesh!!! I totally found my inspiration wedding on there!! Yay!!Thanks again for all the info and keep up the awesome job on your blog!!"

Check out the two blog posts and recipes that she is referring to; the buffalo chicken dip and the pecorino romano apple with fig jam.

I LOVE feedback (especially if you have tried any of the recipes and have ideas on variations or a favorite recipe that you would like to share)!!! You can email me at eatdrinkpretty@gmail.com.

Thanks, Abby!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

For you dog lovers

I am a cat person myself thanks to my an adorable cat, Kody whom I am slightly obsessed with (I know I probably shouldn't be admitting that). If I had a dog it would probably be the same but as of now, neither my husband or I are around enough to care for a dog.

If you do have a dog, check out this lovely, precious, awesome dog dish/fountain that can be found at Lucia's patio in Uptown, Minneapolis. If you remember an older post, Lucia's in one of my absolutely favorite restaurants. Local, organic food in a gorgeous, quaint setting.

This photo is from the Star Tribune article, The Taste 50, where people, places and products are highlighted in the Twin Cities. The dog fountain was one of the 50.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A very rainy grad party

My baby bro graduated from college and wanted a grad party. He is basically the darling of our family and when he wants something he gets it. We decided to have the party at Erik and my house since we have a great backyard for grilling and lawn games. And let's face it, if there is a party to be had, I want some part of it.

Unfortunately, the weather was 49 and rainy all day...but what can you do? We made do with a tent and many rounds of flip cup (the recent college grads, not me). Did I mention we went through 2 kegs? And you can't have a grad party without great food!

My mom's Asian-style chicken wings, yum
My aunt's egg rolls (these are amazing, I asked my aunt if I could come over sometime and have her show me how she makes them)
Asian beef skewers
Fruit salad
Veggies and dip
Way too many chips
Pasta salad
Tuna salad
Hot dogs
Chicken brats
Black bean burgers
Crackers and Cheese

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Salmon and tomato relish recipe

This is an easy, delicious recipe I got out of the May/June 09 issue of Southern Accents magazine.

Pan-Seared Salmon with Tomato Relish

4 (6 ounce) salmon fillets
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
Tomato relish (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 400 degree. Pat salmon fillets dry with a paper towel; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Place fillets in pan, skin side up, and cook 2 to 3 minutes or muntil edges turn golden. Turn over, and cook 15 seconds.

Remove fillets from skillet, and place in a baking dish (I have lovely All Clad pans, thanks to getting married and receiving them as a wedding gift, and those can go right in the oven, which is really nice). Bake at 400 degrees for 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Spoon Tomato Relish over salmon. Serve immediately.

Tomato Relish

1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper (I just used ground black pepper)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar (I substituted red wine vinegar)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pint grape tomatoes, each cut in half (I cut into fourths)
1/4 cup caper, rinsed and drained
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh Italian parsley (instead of these herbs, I used basil)
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon lemon zest

Combine first 4 ingredients (through vinegar) in a medium bowl; stir with a whisk until blended. Slowly add a vegetable oil stirring constantly with a whisk to form an emulsion. Whisk in olive oil.

Combine tomatoes, capers, parsley, thyme, and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add 2/3 cup of the vinaigrette, tossing gently to coat. (The recipe says to reserve the remaining vinaigrett for other uses, which is kind of dumb.....I think I probably used it all because I don't remember having anything leftover).

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Couple day hiatus but more to come!

Erik took our laptop on a business trip this week so I have been on a bit of a hiatus the past cople days. I have many posts to come including:
  • A great salmon with tomato relish recipe from Southern Accents magazine

  • Survial story (if I do survive!) of hosting a college graduation party for my lil' bro this Saturday at Erik and my place. We are expecting around 50-60 people!!!

Here is a picture of a lovely fruit platter and white sangria from a BBQ we had last summer. Doesn't that look gorgeous???

Monday, June 1, 2009

Strawberry Rhubarb Muffins

I purchased beautiful, in-season rhubard on the trip to the St. Paul Farmer's Market last Saturday. Not wanting to take on the adventure of baking a pie (seriously, I have never done it!), Libbby and I decided to make muffins instead. They turned out moist and delicious and taste the best when warmed with a slab of butter.

Strawberry Rhubard Muffins (recipe from Cooks.com)

1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, lightly beaten
3/4 c. milk
1/3 c. vegetable oil
3/4 c. minced fresh rhubarb
1/2 c. sliced strawberries
6 sm. strawberries, cut in half

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder and salt in large bowl. Combine egg, milk and oil in small bowl; stir into flour mixture with fork just until moistened. Fold rhubarb and sliced strawberries into batter. Fill well buttered muffin tins 2/3 full with batter. Press a strawberry half gently into top of each muffin. Sprinkle tops generously with sugar. Bake until golden, 20-25 minutes. Remove from tins; cool on wire racks