Tex Mex Plans Turned Thai

Sunday mornings in the wintertime are so darn cozy I just love them. I was out of bed by 8:00 am this morning, made my way to the kitchen, put on a pot of coffee, and toasted up a piece of banana almond bread.

banana almond bread

Such a great way to start the day.

Next on the agenda is grocery shopping. I can’t believe how fast we go through fruit and veggies around here. Just one week ago our fridge looked like this, now it is practically empty!

*************

Last night Dana and I had planned on going out for a casual date night. We had a gift card to Baja Sol, a Tex Mex restaurant, and decided it would be a perfect night to use it. So we cleaned up and got ready to go.

dana and melanie

The restaurant was about 20 minutes away and when we pulled up we realized that it was more of a super casual dining restaurant, like Chipotle style, where you place your order in front, and they bring you your food. On any other day this would have been just fine and we would have gone in and enjoyed our very casual Tex Mex meal, but I had my mind-set on a sit-down restaurant, where the servers come and take your order and bring you your food.

So we continued our date night journey and wound up at a Thai restaurant called…

tum rup thai

Tum Rup Thai is located in Minneapolis. I had eaten there before but it had been years, but I remembered how stinkin’ good the food was, and I wanted Dana to try it.

We started with an order of the salad rolls which were loaded with carrots, cucumber, cilantro, chicken, shrimp, some rice noodles I think, and who knows what else. The rolls by themselves were full of flavor but they were also served with an incredible peanut oil dipping sauce and they turned from absolutely delicious to incredibly outstanding.

salad roll tum rup thai

We also ordered the chicken satay appetizer which again, tasted wonderful by itself but paired with these insane dipping sauces, took them to another level. There was a peanutty dipping sauce and a sweet cucumber sauce. They were both rock stars.

chicken satay tum rup thai

For dinner we split an order of broccoli and spinach with chicken in a sweet and spicy peanut sauce. That’s a lot of peanut sauce, right? Of course it’s right up my alley. I got full very quickly which isn’t a surprise considering the amount of protein I was consuming.

When we ordered the entrée the waitress asked us how spicy we liked our food on a scale of 1-5. I immediately said “1” because I can’t handle much spice, and I am SO glad I did because even the 1 had a bit of a kick.

peanut chicken and broccoli tum rup thai

My favorite was definitely the salad rolls, go figure, but I really enjoyed it all. So although we had planned on Tex Mex, Thai ended up winning over our tummies and I’m so glad it did. Delightful!

On the drive home we passed a White Castle and Dana pointed out the sign. I tried snapping a photo but it was too bright. It said: Valentine’s Day Reservations and then provided the phone number of the restaurant.

white castle

I couldn’t help but chuckle and feel bad at the same time. White Castle for Valentine’s just doesn’t sound very romantic, but again, to each their own.

Date night with my honey was wonderful as always.

(BTW if you are noticing random color changes in the background of the blog it’s because I am trying to decide on a new color, so bear with me!)

What did YOU do last night?

Get Your Laugh On

Happy Friday! Holy cow this week flew by and I am NOT complaining!

I’ve been a busy bee this morning already; I got a quick run in and then ran a couple of errands. I still have a boat load of things on my to-do list today though so I’m not going to get too windy in today’s post.

We’re talking Thursday…

Lunch: diced pear with walnuts, fontina cheese, a sprinkle of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey. This would be a GREAT breakfast as well. I also snacked on a couple of other fruits and veggies to hold me through the afternoon.

After work I wanted to get movin’, but didn’t want to get sweaty because Dana and I had date plans for later in the evening, so I opted for a 40 minute walk on the treadmill. I kept a pretty easy speed the whole time while enjoying my favorite channel, Food Network.

I really haven’t been in much of a cooking mood this week but we managed to throw together a pretty nice dinner considering.

On the menu: turkey burgers seasoned with worcestershire, seasoned salt, and pepper topped with sautéed mushrooms and onions and melted fontina cheese, served alongside roasted asparagus.

So good.

Now, on to date night. 

Our first stop of the evening was at Cherry Berry where we treated ourselves (actually got it for free because I had a birthday gift card there) to a nice bowl of frozen yogurt. Date night shouldn’t be complete without it. 😉

Next up, a whole lot of laughs.

A while back we had bought a Living Social discount deal for a show at a comedy club called “The Joke Joint” which is a family owned business established just six years ago. As life gets so busy, our date nights become less and less, so buying the tickets in advance was a really good push for us to get out and do something fun, because if you know me at all you know I am not one to throw away money.

The actual show room was very casual and intimate and kind of smelled like a really old home but in a welcoming sort of way. Is that weird?

Dana and I were seated literally belly up to the stage. Our entertainers for the night were Geoff Tate and Chris Maddock. They were HILARIOUS. My cheeks hurt from laughing and I had perma-wrinkles around my eyes. It felt great. Laughter is the best medicine.

I would absolutely recommend this place to family and friends that are in the area. Find a comedy club near you and get your laugh on!

Happy FABULOUS Friday! xoxo

 

Mediterranean Dinner Table for Two

Happy Friday to you all!

Last night, I was not in any type of cooking mood believe it or not, and neither was Dana. We made the decision to go out and spent the next 20 minutes trying to decide where to go. I was beyond hungry so couldn’t really pinpoint what sounded good.

We ended up at an old favorite, The Mediterranean (<—-another word I need to learn how to spell) Cruise Café, aka Med Cruise. We still had a gift card from our wedding there and decided this would be the perfect opportunity to use it up.

The restaurant offers original creations from Jerusalem, Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, Italy, Turkey and Greece [according to their website]. Besides having AWESOME food, their restaurant is beautiful and has an open spacious floor plan, full of red, gold, and neutral colors and chandelier fixtures, they offer hookahs out on their back patio, and to top it off, they have belly dancers Thursday-Sunday!

image

image

image

Photos courtesy of Mediterranean Cruise Cafe

We like the place so much that we actually held our groom’s dinner there the night before our wedding. I thought it was kind of neat we decided on the Med Cruise last night since we just celebrated our one year anniversary at the Holiday Inn and relived dinner at Rudy’s Redeye there, now we can relive our groom’s dinner here.

Groom’s Dinner: September 30th, 2011

297889_891446597350_63902494_41095262_133602319_n

IMG_8812

Dinner Last Night

Once we were seated both of us were ravenous. We each ordered a Greek side salad to start with tomatoes, onion, cucumbers, olives, feta cheese with a herb dressing. We split a small order of hummus which was the equivalent to an entire package you would buy at the store! Hey, I’m not complaining.

DSCN5704

For dinner we split an entrée whose name I cannot remember, but it had seasoned chicken and sautéed vegetables and was served over yellow rice. It sounds so simple but the flavors were just outstanding. I have never ordered anything from their menu that I haven’t liked.

DSCN5706

We made it through about 2/3 of the plate and both were comfortable after we were done. I usually leave this place feeling stuffed because everything is SO good, but I controlled myself and stopped when appropriate last night. Open-mouthed smile If you’re in the area, I highly recommend the Mediterranean Cruise Cafe if you like Mediterranean food. Delicious.

Obviously, my belly is back to normal. The stomach flu is out of my system (nearly a week later). Blech, so not fun. I can feel that strength-wise, I am not 100%, but I will get there soon. Now that I am feeling better I am anxious to start up the workouts again. Today I’m planning on going for a walk with one of my best girlfriends who is in town for the weekend!! Hint..one of my bridesmaids.

I don’t have too many plans this weekend which is something I am actually really happy about. Since I was out of commission last week I feel like I have some catching up to do around the house, and I am hoping to tackle some organization projects. Also, I am anxious to get cooking again. I have squash and brussels sprouts calling my name from the kitchen. We’ll see what I come up with.

I’m off for now! Happy glorious Friday friends.

Vino in the Valley, Maiden Rock, WI

Well hello there friends! Is everyone having a good weekend? The weather has been unbelievably gorgeous here in MN this weekend and I am loving every second of it. I took a day off from the blog yesterday so I have some catching up to do these next couple of days.

Let’s rewind to Friday afternoon.

Dana and I had a date night planned. We had received a gift certificate for our wedding from our friend’s Tim and Heidi to a unique little Vineyard called Vino in the Valley. This destination is located in Maiden Rock, Wisconsin in the Rush River Valley and it is going to receive rave reviews from me.

But first…we begin with our journey to Wisconsin at 4:30 pm because it was about an hour and 15 minute drive and we wanted to be able to enjoy some “light” time in the Valley before the sun went down.

On our drive we saw a whole lot of farmland…

DSCN5476

Crossed over the Mississippi and St. Croix Rivers…

DSCN5474

And were welcomed to Wisconsin…

DSCN5475

From then on the views just got better and better. The bluffs were beautiful. The leaves are beginning to change colors and the way the sun was beating on them they just looked gorgeous.

This photo below is the driveway leading into Vino in the Valley and you can see what I mean by the picturesque bluffs.

DSCN5481

DSCN5482

We pulled into the gravel driveway and upon arrival were greeted by a sweet man sampling different local cheeses (we are in Wisconsin after all), next to that was a honey stand, as well as a mini market with pumpkins and watermelon. We sampled some cheese and made our way to make reservations for dinner.

DSCN5484

At 5:45 when we made our dinner reservations, we were told it would be a 45-60 minute wait. This was completely fine since neither of us were very hungry yet and we had plenty of wine and views to take in while we waited.

DSCN5485

Not to mention there was live music! They had a quaint little gazebo nestled in the middle of the action where three men were singing and playing live. That night Vino in the Valley was hosting the Riddle Brothers and they were definitely fun to watch. I really enjoy live music!

DSCN5486

The whole set-up is open air from the dining area to the bar to the music, etc. Dana and I made our way to the bar and ordered a bottle of their house red wine called Rush River Red .

DSCN5487

We learned that they although they have a vineyard, they don’t actually produce their own grapes. The original plan was to grow their own grapes and use them to make their own wine. This process usually takes 3-5 years, because you have to wait for the grapes to reach a perfect mature stage. However, the bartender was telling us that there was a terrible flood last year (or the year before?) that completely washed away all that had been developed. They had to start over basically and now it sounds like they may never harvest their own grapes. I am not sure if the soil was denatured or what. I have absolutely no idea. I hope their grapes will still flourish, but either way I know this place will do well.

So although they can’t produce their own grapes at this time, they still continue to make their own wine, they just import grapes from local growers. I’m all about keeping it local and cutting down on fuel emissions and air pollutants!

The vineyards are very pretty and reminded me a lot of our honeymoon in Italy. Open-mouthed smile

Wisconsin Vineyard:

DSCN5489

Tuscany Vineyard:

DSCN0359

Dana and I walked along the vineyards (mind you we were battling many-a-gnats), and I discovered that I can’t walk and carry a glass of wine without spilling. Remember my little episode at the Healthy Living Summit in Boston? Well, I couldn’t help but realize that I don’t walk very gracefully because my wine always seems to spill over the sides. Luckily I wasn’t wearing a khaki skirt this time. We decided to end our walk and just enjoy the live music while we waited for dinner.

It was a good thing I wasn’t wearing a skirt because man, once that sun went down it dropped about 20 degrees.

DSCN5491

The atmosphere really changed once the sun began to set. They have two bonfire pits on site so they got those roaring, they eventually brought in space heaters into the restaurant, of course they turned some more lights on, and the atmosphere became very warm and cozy (albeit it wasn’t very warm temperature wise). I learned real quickly that I wasn’t dressed appropriately. I should have known better.

***Note: bring an extra sweater or jacket when you go!

DSCN5492

Once we were seated inside the restaurant, we got to browsing the menu.

DSCN5493

We decided on two side salads and to split a 10-inch gluten-free pizza. We built our own and went with chicken, spinach, black olives, and tomato with a red sauce. I was very impressed they had gluten-free crust available.

DSCN5494

While we waited for our dinner to arrive we took in the views, sipped our wine, and sang “That’s Amore” led by a MC type of guy working for Vino in the Valley. He went around the restaurant announcing any birthdays or anniversaries that were being celebrated. It made for a very fun and friendly atmosphere. He would only talk for about 5 minutes every hour or so, so you didn’t feel like your dinner was being interrupted or anything. It was just friendly.

DSCN5496

They brought us out a bread basket with olive oil, parmesan cheese, and pepper. I passed on the bread but Dana enjoyed a couple of slices and said it was good!

DSCN5497

At this point in the game I was still feeling chilled but not too terribly yet.

DSCN5499

Then came the salads. A simple salad with mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, onions, and carrot served with a side of raspberry vinaigrette. I really liked the dressing. I cleaned my plate.

DSCN5504

To the left of where I was sitting was the wood fire oven where the pizzas were being made. Pretty neat looking!

DSCN5510

While we waited for our pizza, the sun went down completely. This is when the heat lamps were brought out. Unfortunately for us, they weren’t brought over by our table and I got very cold. Again, my fault for not dressing appropriately but it’s hard knowing exactly how cold it will get when you leave your house and its 75°!

Anyway, our pizza came out of the oven and was so tasty. I could really taste the difference from the wood fire stove. It tasted slightly smoky. The sauce was great too.

DSCN5505

Before we left we made our way into the gift shop and bought ourselves a bottle of the house red wine to take home with us.

I cannot say enough good things about this place. If you are looking for a unique dining experience full of cozy and romantic ambiance (yet kid-friendly too), great entertainment (they even have bean bag toss set up and some other yard games), gorgeous views, friendly staff, nummy wine, and wonderful food, this is the place for you.

Dana and I had such a great date night and obviously HIGHLY recommend this destination to any of my local readers. It’s worth the hour and 15 minute jaunt.

***********

I am not going to go into a Saturday recap today but definitely had a very productive day yesterday. I spent a good portion of the day in the kitchen, and will be sharing some recipes with you soon. For now though, I am heading to the gym and plan to bombard my house with Fall decorations this afternoon.

Excited to catch up with you all again! Much love….