Tag: recipes

Three Recipes I Like & My Childhood Cookbooks

Summer is making me want to cook and bake everything.

I love the sunshine and even the thunderstorms. I like opening my windows in the morning and look forward to going to our little farmers market each week. All of these things feel make me feel energized about trying new recipes. Here are several I’ve tried recently that turned out well.

Pulled Pork in the Crock-Pot
I’m sheepish to admit that I’ve never made pulled pork. Growing up, my mom slow-cooked boneless country pork ribs with barbecue sauce. I think we ate it so often that I haven’t wanted to make it as an adult.

Three things inspired my pulled pork endeavor: Eating a fantastic pulled pork meal from Pimento Jamaican Kitchen located in the food court of the Burnsville Mall, reading Beth’s Slightly Savory Saturday post about pulled pork, and winning an Iowan pork prize pack from Cristen’s blog Food & Swine.

I followed Christine Gallary’s recipe for Easy Slow Cooker Pulled Pork from Chow.com it turned out perfectly.

Pulled Pork Collage.jpg

Pull-apart tender, moist and flavorful. Plus, you are left with wonderful au jus after you de-fat and strain the juices. We enjoyed our pork with this homemade coleslaw on either buns or steamed rice.

Taste of Beirut’s Recipe for Lebanese Meat Pies (Sfeeha)
I love Lebanese food and miss the little triangle pies I bought at Emily’s Lebanese Deli in NE Minneapolis. These beef pies aren’t as pretty as Joumana’s but they taste so good.

Meat Pies

I followed her recipe as written, except that I substituted balsamic vinegar for pomegranate molasses and minced red jalapeno for red pepper paste. You could always substitute slivered almonds for pine nuts and don’t forget to buy lean meat, otherwise, the fat will turn into molten lava while they bake and drip.

We like dipping our pies in greek-style yogurt.

Rhubarb Custard Meringue Dessert
I’m kind of obsessed with Rhubarb. I tried bake Aunt Emma’s Rhubarb Custard Dessert (from the Land O’Lakes website) in my tart and pie pans.

rhubarb tart
The crust stuck to the pans and one of meringues started weeping, but the dessert tasted fantastic. If I were to make this again, I’d bake it in a regular baking dish lined with parchment paper or blind-bake homemade pie crust for the tart and pie pans.

Jake’s never tried a variation of this dessert before and declared it one of his favorites, weepy meringue and crumbled crust and all.

My First Three Cookbooks
Do you remember your first cookbooks? Mine were Enclyclopedia Brown Takes the Cake, Alpha-Bakery by General Mills & Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual.

My original books were long since misplaced, so I ordered my own copies again. The recipes aren’t the most exotic, but many of my friends consider dishes like Alpha Bakery’s banana bread and Kids’ Cooking’s Disgustingly Rich Brownies classic favorites. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere, right? Someday, I’ll share them with my kids.

As I’ve alluded to earlier, my parents were hesitant to let me experiment in the kitchen, so I didn’t prepare many of these recipes. It’s time for some cooking catharsis.

Cookbook Collage.jpg

Catharsis never tasted so chocolatey.

Have you tried any great recipes lately? What were your first cookbooks? 

Not Friday Favorites: North Iowa Food Finds

I enjoy everyone’s Friday Favorites posts. It may not be Friday, but here are some of my favorites:


We’re charmed by LD’s. It’s tucked away in what looks like a warehouse and is motor vehicle-themed. The restaurant’s vibe reminds me of a tiki bar even though it isn’t tiki-themed. I think it’s because the atmosphere is laid back and the servers are so friendly. They may call you “honey” or “sweetie” and this always makes me happy.

We like LD’s shredded hashbrowns. They are so crisp on the outside and non-greasy that I can’t think of any restaurant that’s made them better. LD’s serves them all day and you can order them as your choice of potato. 

LD's Collage.jpg

LD’s is crazy affordable and friends have spoken well of their Saturday breakfast buffet. You will notice their full bar, but don’t go making a fool of yourself (like me) by trying to order a martini. Stick with domestic beer or a gin and tonic if you are feeling especially fancy. 

In Mason City, Happy Hour specials may or may not also be known as Early Bird specials. Prime and Wine offers an early Bird menu every evening between 4:30-6:30pm and a date night menu on Thursday evenings where couples can select an appetizer, two entrees, dessert, plus complimentary salad and texas toast for $32.

These specials are popular, so if you want to go on a Thursday or Saturday evening without a reservation, arrive early in case there’s a wait.

IMG_1592On both visits, Jake ordered steak which arrived cooked as requested (medium-rare) and sat in a pool of flavorful pan juices. The side salads included thoughtful touches like bell pepper rings, hand-cut carrot coins, and hard boiled egg halves. Diners also receive a complimentary basket of garlic Texas Toast that we used to soak up all of the steak juices.

Jake’s kryptonite is saganaki (not on date night menu) that the servers flame tableside.

Prime and Wine’s early bird/date night specials are amiable option if you want to enjoy the full experience of an upscale, sit-down meal at a more affordable price. The kitchen doesn’t seem to cut corners and the staff is polished.

Working part-time in Osage has given me the opportunity to explore Mitchell County. With a population of around 3,300, Osage fosters a vibrant main street with very few vacant store fronts. For lunch, I enjoy ordering the daily lunch specials from Kountry Kupboard and Teluwat.

The Mennonite-owned and operated Kountry Kupboard is divided between a small grocery store and cafe. One day, I’ll try their peanut and almond butters they grind on location. Daily lunch specials feature comfort food like pot roast and mashed potatoes or this meatloaf meal that came with glazed carrot coins, “sweet salad,” and pillowy-soft butterhorn rolls.


I am very proud of my homemade meatloaf but admit theirs might be better than mine. A full lunch costs around $8, but is enough to last me for two meals and sustains me through a long work day.

Teluwat’s Osage location is faithful about posting their daily lunch specials on Facebook. I typically choose from their chalkboard lunch combination specials. The best deal is probably their 1/2 club + choice of soup or salad for $4.99. I received a huge half sandwich filled with thick slices of ham and turkey, cheese (not American), lettuce, tomato and mayo on hearty wheat bread and a generous cup of wild rice and chicken soup. It’s not the most exciting sandwich you’ll ever eat, but it’s much better than it has to be and the price is unbeatable for the quality of food.

Last week, my fish sandwich came with these waffle fries.

Teluwat Fries

They look like boring, old waffle fries, but their delightfully crisp bite and addicting seasoning salt made them stand out from any other. I’d love to bring Jake here to eat dinner here sometime and branch out from the lunch menu.

One of our favorite date night spots is Las Palmas Mexican Restaurant. We feel like we should branch out and try some of the other Mexican restaurants in town, but Las Palmas is comforting to us. I’m not sure it’s possible to find foods like posole or tortas in our community, but we like how Las Palmas offers items that vary more than typical burritos and enchiladas. Sometimes we branch out and sometimes we don’t.

las palmas favorites.jpg

Best of all, the service is friendly. We always sit in the bar area and the bartender always remembers us and never forgets our favorite beverages.


    • I have a House of Cards problem. I felt bored during the first two episodes and then it was like what the heck happened? It’s 1:30 am and I just watched seven episodes in a row! As I write this post, I have three episodes left in Season Two. It’s bittersweet as I’ll be unwillingly left at a cliffhanger until Season Three is released, but I’m relieved that I can do some other things with my time.

CheeseWhen I was a student in Wartburg College, I occasionally bought this jarred queso produced in Iowa City. For, I’ve tried an embarrassing number of jarred queso dips and this is still the best tasting and spiciest I’ve found.

It’s located in Hyvee’s refrigerated section which implies it’s made out of real cheese, or at least ingredients that will decompose. New Pioneer Co-op sells it and they are very picky about the products they carry. It’s not cheap. A jar will run about $6.39 but it’s as good as I remember it since graduating seven years ago (yikes!). We enjoy it mixed with salsa and heated until warm.

Brenda Langton’s recipe for Baby Lima Beans With Polenta is one of my favorites. I add a hot pepper to make it spicy and serve with organic chicken sausage.

On the evening I made this meal, I served the polenta as a creamy porridge and, on the second evening, cut slices of the the leftover polenta and seared them. Definitely add the [optional[ parmesan cheese to the polenta for extra flavor.

Some of my other favorite recipes include the sesame, white balsamic and caesar salad dressings, whole wheat bread and lamb Spoonburger.

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