[FHCx60] National Surf and Turf Day

Happy leap day!


Apparently there is no real definition on surf and turf. So we took it upon ourselves on this lovely extra Monday to find ourselves something from the surf and something from the turf.

Our journey took us to a local favorite, Red Cow.

2016-02-29 19.35.20

Surf: Fish and Chips. Really tasty.

2016-02-29 19.22.43

Turf: The Royale. Pork belly, Brie, arugula, and tomato jam. One of our favorites.

It wasn’t quite steak ‘n lobster, but it was damn good! The burgers are amazing at Red Cow. Super juicy and cooked to that perfect slight-pink center. With the pork belly and jam mixing with the sweetness of the cheese it’s just… ugh. Awesome.

Tomorrow is National Peanut Butter Lover’s Day (not to be confused with National Peanut Butter Day) and National Fruit Compote Day!


[FHCx59] National Chocolate Soufflé Day

Chocolate? Who said chocolate?


Welcome to the one of the hardest-to-bake chocolate desserts! We steered clear of making one at home for good reason. SPom had sent us a link to a WW recipe called “Easy Chocolate Soufflé” and it literally had directions such as “…beat the 4 egg whites and salt in a medium bowl until soft peaks form. Increase the speed to medium-high. Add the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating just until stiff peaks form. Fold one fourth of the whites into the chocolate mixture. Gently fold in the remaining whites just until no white streaks remain.”

Easy. Right.

So instead we looked up where we could get a chocolate soufflé around here. Well, Godiva had “chocolate soufflé truffles” which were just too much of a loose interpretation. And even the well-meaning and often-very-delicious Wuollet’s has a chocolate soufflé cake that doesn’t seem all that soufflé-y.

Eventually we landed on having dinner at Yard House. Having recently moved into St. Louis Park’s fabulous West End, the chain continues to grow like an superior-to-Applebee’s-shaped-weed. Hyphen-hyphen-hyphen.

Here it is, the mini chocolate soufflé!

2016-02-28 19.38.20.jpg

Yard House, being the huge chain it is, is in the Weight Watchers tracker. That makes choosing from the menu slightly easier. Or, in the case of SP, turns you into an obsessive demon trying to get the best item for the most manageable points. This dessert came in at a pretty high point-value, counting as 40% of either SP‘s or AK‘s daily allowance. For this tiny thing. I mean, yeah, it was good. But you could literally have 6.25 pounds (100 ounces or 2.8kg) of tuna for the same “price” as this dessert.

Split it 4 ways and it’s ok.

Anyway, tomorrow is leap day! And apparently leap day means Surf and Turf. You can only get to enjoy this celebration once every 4 years, so make sure you get your beef and reef or your pier and steer!


[FHCx58] National Kahlua Day/National Strawberry Day

Happy Saturday!


I didn’t know this before today, likely because I’m not an alcohol connoisseur, but Kahlua comes from Mexico. I guess I could have figured that it was some sort of South/Central American thing by the name, but maybe something from the Pacific? And why is it that it’s so integral to the White Russian, when Russia and Mexico have so little to do with each other?

Regardless, The Dude has inspired us to have a White Russian in honor of Kahlua day.

2016-02-27 12.13.28

Thank goodness for minis. Kahlua, Crystal Head, and some heavy cream

2016-02-27 12.18.01

Hooray for the Russki!

It was alcohol at about 12:30pm on a Saturday. I guess this is our life now. Thanks, FHC.

It’s also Strawberry Day: another day in a series of days that celebrate produce that should not at all be in season. In fact, I find it kind of amusing that these days, there are probably kids who just assume that strawberries “happen” all year. Why should they not? For that matter, there are probably kids who just assume all strawberries are deep red and perfectly ripe, because why would produce distributors lie about something like that?

That’s where Driscoll’s comes in. “We naturally breed berry plants to be more resistant to diseases and pests while meeting our quality standards for flavor and appearance. Our berries are never genetically modified or subjected to irradiation. Each year, we study thousands of potential varieties to choose the top 1% to farm and sell under the Driscoll’s brand name. It takes 5-7 years to develop a new patented variety of Driscoll’s strawberries.” Well, ok then! I’ll take some strawberries please.

2016-02-27 12.22.36

2016-02-27 12.25.35

My strawberry has a hat and AK is jealous!


SP: +1.8 pounds, total lost: 85.8

AK: +0.8 pounds, total lost: 25.0

Not a great week for SPAK, despite “doing the right things.” At some points in the weight loss journey, things get stuck and you really have to push through to get past the plateau. We’ll keep doing our best!

Tomorrow is National Chocolate Soufflé Day!


[FHCx57] National Pistachio Day


Remember Psy? Whatever happened to that guy?

We’re not sure about you, but only one thing comes to mind when we think about pistachios. Not ice cream… not mustaches… but good old Mickey and the Beanstalk. It, along with Bongo, was a shorter-than-feature-length animated film released by Disney in 1947 as a sort of double-feature package thing called Fun and Fancy Free. They did a bunch of those anthologies in the 1940s, such as Make Mine Music, Saludos Amigos, the Three Caballeros… not to mention Fantasia! Sometime in the late 1980s when SP was a lil babe and AK was a work in progress, Mickey and the Beanstalk was a standalone VHS release and we both went on to watch the crap out of it during our respective toddlerhoods. The important part:

Because the internet is a wondrous place and everyone has already thought of everything, we stumbled upon a pretty sweet blog called Disney Meals that shares recipes inspired by foods in Disney movies. Lucky for us, they already did chocolate pot roast with stispashio… with spismashmi… with green gravy!

AK followed the recipe pretty closely, with only a couple adjustments:

2016-02-26 09.33.12

Carrot, celery, onion, green & red bell peppers get chopped up and simmered with red wine.

2016-02-26 09.27.31

SParents kindly let us use some of theirs!

The veggiewine had to simmer for quite a long time before the liquid was reduced enough. Meanwhile…

2016-02-26 09.44.43

3 pounds of chuck beef gets seasoned (chili powder, paprika, salt, pepper, cinnamon) and then browned in the broiler for a few minutes

2016-02-26 09.47.37

Nice and brown and time to go into the crockpot!

2016-02-26 10.10.24

The recipe only called for five pieces, but… chocolate. So the whole baking bar went in.

2016-02-26 10.11.15

In goes the chicken stock

2016-02-26 10.10.16

Wine simmer made the veggies all red and pretty. They go in next!

2016-02-26 10.14.22

Rosemary on top, and it’s ready to cook! The crockpot got turned on at around 10:30am and cooked until we ate at 7.

Just before dinnertime we worked together to make some pistachio gravy! The recipe from Disney Meal mentions that it doesn’t come out very green, so we put food coloring in it to make it fun. YAY.

2016-02-26 18.43.29

Saute half an onion in olive oil until translucent. AK accidentally switched the onions so this one should have been white and the red should have been in the crockpot. Oh well!

2016-02-26 18.37.40

The recipe called for unsalted pistachios, but the only unsalted ones we could find were pre-shelled and cost like $23. So, SP did the manual labor and we ground them up in the blender.

2016-02-26 18.47.18

Ground pistachios join the onions in the pan

2016-02-26 18.49.38

Also, cream!

2016-02-26 18.49.44

It heats up for just a moment before we take it off the heat, add some seasonings, and puree it.

2016-02-26 18.50.562016-02-26 18.52.35

2016-02-26 18.56.02

Back into the pan with some milk and flour to get gravyed up! We found that the 1/4 cup milk and the 1/4 cup flour had it a little too thick and sludgy, so we added some extra milk and water to make it more of a liquid. This is when the food coloring went in, too!

2016-02-26 19.00.12

Looks like guacamole! It turned out kinda sludgy anyway, despite our efforts. Tasted good regardless.

2016-02-26 19.04.29

And there you have it. Chocolate pot roast with green pistachio gravy!

We were super impressed with how delicious this turned out. As AK put it, the flavor profile was exactly what she imagines when using the term “savory.” The rosemary made everything smell and taste even more amazing. It would be really great in a pot pie, too… although we’d likely avoid that because of calories. Overall, a definite do-over! Thanks, Disney Meals!

Tomorrow is Strawberry Day/Kahlua Day.


[FHCx56] National Clam Chowder Day/National Chili Day/National Chocolate Covered Nuts Day

Ch ch ch


Oy that’s a mouthful. Don’t eat all of them at the same time. That would be gross. On days like today, we have a couple options: 1) Combine two or more food holidays into one by using some creative imagination, or 2) treat them all separately which may mean that some are not treated as especial. We opted this time for #2 (heh, #2) and tomorrow we’ll make up for it with an amazing feast!

First up – Clam Chowder. We know that recently we already celebrated National New England Clam Chowder Day, but the powers that be gave the “regular” clam chowder a day to itself. Probably for those of Manhattan who realized a month late, “Hey, wait a minute…” Our soup came in the form of a frozen food from Lund’s and Byerly’s.

2016-02-25 18.18.43

2016-02-25 18.27.29


It was pretty good. It’s kind of molten when you have to nuke it. But like most things from LnB’s, it’s tasty enough. We shared this one bowl, and put away half of it for a leftover snack some other time.

Next up! Chocolate Covered Nuts. You know how you walk through a grocery store and spot that giant section of bulk nuts? (Yes, I giggle as I type this.) Most of the time, I am completely unfazed by the section because I usually don’t have enough reason to buy a few pounds of pepitas. This time, we got ourselves some chocolate covered peanuts and almonds. Wait a second! Peanuts and almonds aren’t even technically (botanically) nuts?! This is bogus!

Well in a quick google search, it seems like NONE of the things that our parents told us were nuts were actually nuts. Almonds, cashews, pistachios, walnuts, brazil nuts, peanuts, pine nuts… None of them are nuts!!! But they are considered “culinary nuts” and as our food blog is largely culinary, we accept almonds and peanuts as nuts for today.

2016-02-25 18.20.27

Here is an unrelated picture of some rabbit poop.

Lastly, there was a Chili Day to celebrate.

When we think chili, it’s one of two things: 1) Mom’s homemade chili – good lord – or 2) Fast Food chili. And when we think Fast Food chili, well… SP thinks Steak ‘n Shake while AK thinks Tommy’s (the chili burger that’s so messy that SP and his friends call it the diaper burger) or The Hat‘s chili cheese fries. But that’s beside the point. We both think Wendy’s. There are really no chain restaurant chilis in our current area (SnS was a St. Louis favorite and both Tommy’s and The Hat are Left Coast) that hit the spot like this rich and meaty treat. So after our Target run this evening, we stopped by our neighborhood Wendy’s to get some chili. AK got hers with a baked potato, and SP got his with a spicy chicken filet.

2016-02-25 20.04.41.jpg

Phew! Another 3-in-1 down.

Tomorrow is National Pistachio Day!


[FHCx55] National Tortilla Chip Day

¡Olé! Again!


Did you know that Doritos were invented at Disneyland as a way to use up old tortillas?

Tortilla chips are the quintessential opener to Tex-Mex cuisine. Endless baskets are run out to your table by people who realize they are giving away free food. I wonder how many people have shown up to a Mexican restaurant, gotten a bunch of free chips, and just left? There’s probably a special circle of hell for that.

SP‘s favorite tortilla chips can be found at El Parian, one of the best Mexican restaurants in the Twin Cities.These chips have a density and crispity that are unparalleled by any store-bought chips. They’re hearty and delicious, and just a bit salty. El Parian serves their chips with a red salsa and a white ranchero sauce. Both are excellent.

2016-02-24 18.22.59.jpg

2016-02-24 18.38.55

Bonus dinner picture 1: Enchiladas Guadalajara. Roast pork and onions served on top of two cheese enchiladas. They’re in there. Somewhere.

2016-02-24 18.38.59

Bonus dinner picture 2: Pollo Asado. This flattened chicken breast comes out sizzling on this platter on a bed of onions so thick it makes the Tempur-Pedic seem uncomfortable.

Chips are great. Hooray!

Tomorrow is 3 CHs: Clam CHowder day, CHili day, and CHocolate covered nuts day!


[FHCx54] National Banana Bread Day

Is the banana bread ready?


Bananas are the life force of SP. Hands down, best fruit. People will argue carbs and blah blah, but nothing beats creamy, awesome banana. Banana creme pie, banana pudding, banana bread, banana cake, banana muffins, banana popsicles. Everything.

And most likely it all stems from one particular bakery item of SP‘s youth. Banana bread is one of those foods that has the earliest memories attached to it. And every single time, it’s amazing. So a big thanks to SPom again for helping out to make this banana bread day happen, because her banana bread is the only banana bread.

Baked for us in littler loaves than usual so that we don’t go too crazy:

2016-02-23 10.14.062016-02-23 10.20.26

I’m drooling looking at these pictures again. Honestly, I’ve tried to make it from the same 30+-year-old recipe card but it just doesn’t turn out the same. Mommy Magic, I guess.

Phew. Okay. Recuperating now…

Tomorrow is National Tortilla Chip Day! Not to be confused with corn chip day…


[FHCx53] National Margarita Day/Cook a Sweet Potato Day



For another alcoholic drink, we were kind of worried that it could be awesome like Hot Buttered Rum or really not-our-style like Hot Toddy day. We were hoping for at least pretty good like Drink Wine day.

Our margarita needs led us to La Casita, a local Mexican restaurant that is a go-to for pretty much anyone in the Roseville area. At SP‘s school, it is customary for staff to pay a visit to La Casita after senior graduation in June. It’s just part of the culture around these parts.

On Mondays is SP‘s mandate. The guys come over and they play video games together. It always means getting some good food, so it was with ease that La Casita was chosen for this week’s get-together. Their margarita list is extensive, and pretty fun. It’s worth it, though, to just get a classic house margarita.

2016-02-22 18.10.14

2016-02-22 18.20.31

From left to right: House Marg, Golden Cadillac, Pomegranate, House Marg

And they were very tasty! None of us went for the blended, frozen kind. It’s sweet and only a little boozey. It’s very apparent why the drink is so popular! The problem is that one margarita may slightly impair your judgment. So things like endless baskets of chips might cause some major distress to your digestive system. Be forewarned: you won’t feel the alcohol until it’s too late. Drive safe, everyone.

Oh. And cook a sweet potato day. Here’s how we cook potatoes in the SPAK household when we’re lazy:

2016-02-22 21.37.51.jpg

Doesn’t take much to enjoy a potato!

Tomorrow is Banana Bread Day! If SP enjoys anything as much as he enjoys AK, it’s banana bread. SPom’s banana bread.


[FHCx52] National Sticky Bun Day

Hold on to ya’ butts.


I’m about to give up one of my secrets. The secret is called Isles Bun & Coffee, and it’s the best bun you can get in Minnesota. Cinnamon rolls, sticky buns, and pecan sticky buns adorn the menu at this tiny, tiny shop in uptown Minneapolis. Yeah you can get coffee, but why would you ruin a bun with coffee? Supposedly, they’ve won awards for their coffee so I guess they’ve got that going for them. Which is nice.


These buns are primo. Optimal. The epitome of bun. We were sad that we couldn’t do both a sticky bun and a cinnamon roll lest we don’t eat the rest of the day. But opting for a pecan caramel roll was a great way to start our Sunday in this beautiful, sunny, 40 degree weather.

2016-02-21 11.48.042016-02-21 11.48.23

These buns are roughly the size of your head. And normally when a place would advertise such a claim, people expect the rolls to be one of two things: 1) Just a mess of goo with nothing holding it together, or 2) a hard, overbaked crust of tasteless dough. Isles has the art of the bun mastered. The tender crisp of an edge meeting the soft interior lined with all sorts of amazing cinnamon and caramel flavor. You don’t need a knife to take this sticky bun apart. You will want to use your hands, though, and you’ll quickly find out why they call it, “sticky.”

As you can see, we got a side of the cinnamon roll frosting. This was AK‘s first visit to Isles, so I had to have her experience the delicious icing if only for a fleeting moment. But it should be noted that sticky buns and cinnamon rolls are not the same thing! That means we’ll likely return in October for cinnamon roll day. There’s just nothing that competes with Isles around these parts!

Tomorrow is Cook a Sweet Potato Day and Margarita Day!


[FHCx51] National Cherry Pie Day

Seasonal? Not really. That’s ok,


Pie is pretty universal. As our last foray into pieing went very well, we were happy to observe today’s food holiday with a slice. Today in particular is the day of the Cherry pie, a fruit pie that’s been celebrated in the USA for a long, long time. So long that they’ve warped the space-time continuum and made the official day for cherry pie outside of summertime when cherries are ready. This is the world we live in.

Our fancy for pie took us to Baker’s Square, a midwestern chain of pie restaurants. It’s the kind of place where older people flock for their 4:45pm dinner. But as it was/is a staple of the midwestern “diner” scene, SP frequented The Square many times in his youth. One summer, they offered all-you-can-eat pie for something like $7. When you do the math, you’d find that you’d have to consume 3 slices to make it worth your money. SP couldn’t even finish a third slice even when he was a youngster. There is an upper limit for pie when you’re dealing with this much decadence.

Anyway, cherry pie.

2016-02-20 11.55.00.jpg


Tomorrow is Sticky Bun day and boy-oh-boy is SP excited to take AK somewhere special!


SP: +2.2 pounds, total lost: 87.6

AK: 0.0 pounds, total lost: 25.8