food & recipes

Check out these two postings that showed up on my WordPress this morning:

Chocolate cream cheese ravioli

…and skinny onion rings.

Really? I appreciate healthy eating and being creative with food, but that’s taking it too far.

But…avocado for breakfast? That I can handle…I tried it this morning.

The avocados are huge (scratch that) HUGE here.

I told my parents they were the size of my head (over a Skype conversation) and they didn’t believe me until I ran to the kitchen to get one and literally held it up next to my head.

Amazing, huh?

This was my breakfast this morning: One half of a warm arepa (it has a touch of sweetness), a gigantic pile of shredded white cheese, and a chunk of avocado. Mmmmm.


This was my breakfast this morning: a big batch of “avena” which is a type of grain, like oats, that they use to make a hot breakfast cereal. They add milk and sugar, cooking it slowly so it thickens to the consistency of oatmeal.

Then they add a multigrain cracker and top it with cinnamon. It’s really delicious and got me thinking about all of the breakfast recipes I have saved to try when I get home…

one of which is for a baked peanut butter and apple oatmeal.

Baked Peanut Butter Apple Oatmeal

(by Reeni)

butter, for greasing pan or baking spray
2 cups rolled oats (long cooking) or steel-cut oats
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon sea or kosher salt
2 cups milk
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup apple, peeled and diced small
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease with butter or baking spray: 6 small oven-proof ramekins and place so they are not touching on a large baking sheet. Or grease an 8×8 inch deep-sided baking pan.

2. In a large bowl mix oats, sugar, cinnamon, baking powder and salt together. Stir in milk. Microwave peanut butter 10 seconds and stir into mixture until well combined. Stir in apple cubes.

3. Measure a 1/2 cup of mix into each ramekin, if there’s anything left in the bowl distribute evenly amongst the ramekins. Bake ramekins 20 minutes, an 8×8 pan 30 minutes. Garnish with walnuts and/or a dollop of jam. Best eaten right away, leftovers can be stored in refrigerator tightly covered 3-4 days, you may need to add milk to them after reheating as the oats continue to suck up the liquid as they sit.

Makes 6 servings

I can’t wait to try this recipe. Anything with apples, cinnamon and walnuts is at the top of my list to eat when I get home!

Good dark chocolate = high cacao content, high fat, low-ish sugar stuff. Meaning…it’s actually not bad for you. Good news for all of the chocolate lovers out there!

A good dark chocolate review from Mark’s Daily Apple (shortened and modified a bit):

Valrhona Noir Extra Amer – 85% Cacao

lenoir extra 146x300

This bar looks fantastic: sleek, smooth, and dark, almost black, with a hint of red. A single square, if given sufficient mouth time, will slowly, smoothly melt, revealing floral, nutty, and coffee notes. If you try real hard, you may notice cinnamon, too.

The Noir Extra Amer goes well in a pot of spicy chili, right at the end just before serving.

(Trader Joe’s)

Chocolove XOXOX Extra Strong Dark – 77% Cacao

Picture4 3

If you’re trying to wean your significant other off of milk chocolate, go with the Chocolove XOXOX. You get the unmistakable flavor and light sugar content of a high-cacao bar with the creaminess and accessibility of a lesser-cacao bar. I keep these on hand for those times where I just want a bit of sweetness without the commitment required by the heavy darks. It tastes a bit like coconut.

(Whole Foods, Target)

Green and Black’s Dark – 85% Cacao

Picture5 2

Another brilliantly dark bar. It’s creamy, silky, smooth, and melts very well, but it’s not too bitter. Green and Black’s strikes an impressive balance between robustness and delicateness.

Dagoba Eclipse – 87% Cacao


Dagoba is full of complex flavors including fruit, clove, allspice, and other spice mixes. There’s even a bit of red wine in there.

(Whole Foods)

Scharffen Berger Extra Dark – 82% Cacao

Picture6 1

Figs and red wine, honey and spice(y). There’s even a bit of esperesso lurking in there. It’s not just the cacao that’s bitter; there’s a bite that lingers minutes after you’ve eaten it.

In Spanish, the word for coconut is “coco” and “cacao” refers to the tropical “fruit” that is used to make chocolate.

I LOVE coconut and chocolate, so when I saw this recipe from Mark’s Daily Apple – a blog dedicated to living a healthy and natural lifestyle, I thought it was worth sharing.


Decadent Coconut Milk Whipped Cream with Berries and Dark Chocolate Coconut Mousse


mousse ingredients

  • One 15-ounce can of full-fat coconut milk
  • A handful of berries or 4 ounces of cooled, melted dark chocolate


Put the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator for several hours (or overnight).

When you open the can after it’s chilled, scrape off the solid top layer of creamy coconut, careful not to include any of the liquid on the bottom of the can. (Don’t waste the liquid left in the can – drink it or add it to a smoothie!)

canned coconutmilk

liquid left in can

before whipping

Whip the coconut cream with an electric mixer until it has the airy texture of whipped cream, about five minutes.

Layer the whipped cream in a glass with berries.


For a coconut milk chocolate mousse gently mix the melted chocolate into the whipped cream. Chilling the chocolate mousse before serving will give it a thicker texture, if desired.

adding chocolate


Pumpkins were covered yesterday. Now for the two other foods that instantly make me think of fall:

                    Squash and apples.

                                        Or better yet…

                        squash soup                     and                         apple crisp.

Squash soup:

What You Need 
1 tablespoon olive oil 
2 shallots 
1 pound butternut squash 
1 medium boiling potato 
1 bay leaf 
Kosher salt 
Fresh ground pepper (or white pepper, if you have it) 
Sour cream and fresh dill, to garnish

Click here for the recipe.

Apple crisp:

What You Need 
 2 Granny Smith apples
 2 McIntosh apples
 1 tsp. lemon juice
 1/4 c. sugar
 2 tbsp. brown sugar
 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
 dash of sea salt
 dash of nutmeg
 dash of cloves
 dash of ginger
 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
 1/2 c. packed brown sugar
 1/2 c. regular oats
 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
 5 tbsp. unsalted butter, diced
 dash of sea salt

Click here for the recipe.

Thanks to my lovely best friend, Aurora Zosel, I am now addicted to

I’ve had pumkin on the mind lately with all of my dreams of Minnesota Fall, so instead of picking pumpkins this year, I am picking my favorite pumpkin recipes.

My top 3 choices for the perfect pumpkin recipe:

1.) Pumpkin caramel cheesecake

Find the recipe here:


2.) Pumpkin bread pudding with bourbon vanilla sauce

Find the recipe here:


3.) Whole wheat pumpkin pancakes

Find the recipe here:


Happy fall, cooking, and pumpkin picking!



Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Restaurant Week!

October 23 – 28, 2011

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Two-course lunches and three-course dinners? Yum.

I’m sad that I’ll be missing the “fabulous food & exclusive wine pairings,” but I’m sure that my parents will enjoy them for me! I counted 38 Minneapolis and St. Paul restaraunts on the list, offering food from around the globe.

I think I’m most disappointed about missing La Chaya’s organic Mexican and Mediterranean $30 dinners (

…and definitely El Meson’s delicious latin food – $10 lunches and $30 dinners (


And just in case you’re curious…here’s a sneak peek at El Meson’s Restaurant Week Menu:

First Course

A choice of
Caribbean style ceviche, shrimp, scallops, calamari, and fish, marinated in a spicy lime/habanero/cilantro sauce, served with Tostones and topped with fresh avocado.
Mixed greens and baby spinach topped with strawberries, cucumbers, pineapple, and spicy pecans, tossed in an blood orange vinaigrette

Second Course

A choice of
Jambalaya A Choice of Chicken or Shrimp Jambalaya, served with sautéed peppers and onions, andouille sausage, in a Creole sauce over white rice.
Blackened grouper served with sour cream mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, in a saffron butter sauce, topped with a pineapple salsa

Third Course

A Choice Of
Classic Caramel Flan with fresh strawberries
Homemade Tres Leches Cake in a Strawberries and cream sauce

*Note to self: remain in the country next fall so as not to miss restaurant week.

Morning routine: wake up, wash face, walk 10 steps out the door to the posada’s café, immediately order a café con leche.






The walls of our posada, and also my view as I sip my morning coffee.







Ham and cheese omelet. Venezuela’s food groups = ham, cheese, bread…and rice.







Love, Janis, Ishmael, and The Lucky One. These are the books that we’ve been rotating among my group of friends for long days on the beach, study breaks and morning coffee dates. Love, Janis is a biography of Janis Joplin written by her sister describing the details of her wild life as a young singer. Ishmael is an inspiring novel by Daniel Quinn about saving our planet, and The Lucky One is a feel-good love story written by Nicholas Sparks. A nice variety if I do say so myself 🙂


Pancakes with…Surprise! Ham and cheese! Why? Don’t ask me.






One side of toast…they definitely don’t skimp on the bread! And the peach marmelade was absolutely delicious.






My personal favorite. This is a photo taken from the restaraunt’s menu, which very thoughtfully includes English translations of all of the dishes originally written in Spanish. “I’ll have the corncakes with white sheese please.”

Lechosa. That’s the word that they use in Venezuela for papaya.

They eat a fair amount of papaya here, prepared in more ways than I can count. I’ve seen it mostly in freshly blended juices that we have with our breakfasts, fresh fuit salads drizzled with sweetened condensed milk, and delicate little pastries in the display case at my favorite cafe.

Tonight after dinner, my host mom served me a “postre” that she called “dulce de lechosa”.

Postre means dessert and dulce means sweet, so I was excited to try it!

This is dulce de lechosa. It’s chewey carmelized papaya with cinnamon, a traditional Venezuelan dessert, most commonly served at Christmas time.


…and it’s delicious!

It’s also about as close to Grandma’s home-made apple pie as I’m going to get this fall, so I’d better enjoy it!

Ice cream. I am really missing the taste of those wonderful words in my mouth today. Well, not just the words…more specifically the taste of a double scoop of Sebastian Joe’s raspberry chocolate chip in a sugar cone. Icecream cures everything. A stressful day, a disappointment, even missing a trolley on your way to school in the morning.

As you can probably tell, today is would be a good day for icecream therapy (if it existed here).

For now I’ll just dream about a trip to Sebastian Joe’s in December (no time is a bad time of year for icecream) and add a raspberry chocolate chip cone to my list of delicious treats to eat when I get home to Minneapolis.

Countdown: 2 months, 5 days.

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