[FHCx364] National Pepper Pot Day

two… days…


As we drag ourselves towards the finish line of December 31st, we had one more major investment of a food holiday to go before easy street kicked in. This doozy of a day is actually dual in meaning, and we took it in a direction that others probably would not.

You see, pepper pot sounds harmless enough. However, a quick search on wikipedia reveals that there are TWO completely different foods both called pepper pot! There’s the Philadelphia Pepper Pot, invented during the American Revolutionary War to keep troops fed on hearty food through winter, and there’s Guyanese Pepperpot, a stewed meat dish traditionally served around Christmas that uses some very peculiar ingredients. Being adventurous, or rather having a SPad who likes challenges, we opted for the latter.

This meant first acquiring some casareep, a very appetizing-looking black sauce made from cassava root. Allow us to read this important passage, *ahem*: “Cassareep is made from the juice of the bitter cassava root, which is poisonous (it contains acetone cyanohydrin, a compound which decomposes to the highly toxic hydrogen cyanide on contact with water).” Glad we had this talk.

Another main component of Guyanese Pepperpot is the wiri wiri pepper. So many things that are basically unique to this one dish.

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Since SPad made the rest of this, we can’t speak much to the preparation. Just know that it required many pounds of meat including oxtail for its marrow. The final product was beautiful. It is best to make it a couple days ahead of time and let it sit for a while. But then this happens:


Layer of congealed fat. YESSSSSSS.


Ok so now that’s cleared up a bit…


Beautiful beef and peppers with some couscous.

A well-met endeavor. Thanks, SPad!

Tomorrow is National Bicarbonate of Soda Day (Baking Soda) and National Bacon Day (the International version being one we already celebrated).


[FHCx260] National Guacamole Day/National Cinnamon Raisin Bread Day

Holy guacamole!


It’s Friday night, and so we made cinnamon raisin bread a special moment. Thanks to Lund’s & Byerly’s, we got ourselves a cinnamon raisin challah! Challah is the traditional Shabbat (Friday night/Saturday) food: a braided bread. And theirs is very tasty.


Dinner itself had to involve some guacamole. Both SP and AK are fans of getting guac on their Chipotle bowls, and we like recreating that at home. We’ve shown you a whole bunch of SP‘s steak bowls over the last year. Tonight was no different.


Steak in a pan, cooked a la AK (rare, with lots of garlic, onion, and pepper)


Steak on rice is step one.


Next up is to take one of these amazing guacamole pouches…


And plop it on!

We really like Wholly Guacamole‘s minis. Their spicy guacamole is the real deal. Since avocados are running out of season in September, it’s hard to find good ones. And we are certainly happy to have these pre-portioned minis around to help us out.

Tomorrow is National Apple Dumpling Day!


[FHCx258] National Cream-Filled Donut Day/National Eat a Hoagie Day

Fill ’em up!


Whoever made today’s hoagiebration cheated. We already did hoagie day. But today you’re specifically supposed to eat the hoagie? I don’t know. What is important is that we give a shout out to our local buddies at Davanni’s. Twin Cities folks know that Davanni’s makes the heck out of some hoagies.


The Chicken Parmigiana – grilled chicken breast with pizza sauce and cheese.


Roast Beef classic hoagie with onions and lettuce and tomato.

So in addition to great pizza, there’s a great sandwich. And we didn’t even know it, but they were also celebrating National Eat a Hoagie Day and gave us $2 off the sandwiches! Thanks, Davanni’s.

It’s also very-specific-kind-of-donut day. Cream filled donuts, Bismarcks, Berliners, whatever you call them, have a great idea. Why waste space with having a hole in the center of your donut? Make it a pastry all the way through, and then shove some goo in there to make it even more tasty. We think Lund’s & Byerly’s does a great job with their variety in their bakery.


Fill yourself up on cream filled!

Tomorrow is National Linguini Day, National Double Cheeseburger Day, and National Creme de Menthe Day.


[FHCx245] National Gyros Day/National Cherry Popover Day

2/3 of the way through the year!


Alright, let’s get this out of the way. We made cherry popovers with the same recipe that we used for blueberry popovers and raspberry popovers. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a great recipe.

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3 eggs, 1/4 cup sugar, 1 cup milk, 1 cup flour, 1 tsp vanilla

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Drop in cherries and cinnamon sugar.

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Delightful! But we know what we’re really here for. It would be foolish to say that SPAK has a favorite restaurant. However… Holy Land is one of those places that we could never get enough of. Ever. Yes, the place that was just on Triple D. Yes, the place that used to print this on their hummus.


This Mediterranean restaurant nails everything they do, from Gyros to Schawarma to Falafel. Just awesome stuff.

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One of the few forms of shaving that SP deems reasonable.

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SP likes to get the Gyro Lovers’ Combo, which has beef/lamb gyro and the chicken gyro.

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AK loves the chicken gyro, with its delicious spices and onions.

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Stuff it in a pita and boom. You’re good to go.

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They even gave us these cakes for free this time because they love us at Holy Land!

Seriously, if you’re in the Twin Cities, go to Holy Land as soon as you can. It’s a pilgrimage worth making.

Tomorrow is National Blueberry Popsicle Day!


[FHCx211] National Lasagna Day/National Chicken Wing Day

It is so hard to pick which of these we liked better today…


For our lunch today, we headed out to Oakdale for the undisputed king of chicken wings in the Twin Cities: D-Spot. In the past year, they moved out of their former tiny space into a really amazing new lot about a quarter mile away. These wings are capital G Good. They clock in at 85 different flavors in multiple categories, including Savory, Sweet, and Spicy (ranging from “spicy” to “death row”).

Do yourself a favor and go read their menu for a bit. It’s very difficult to make choices. Do I want something really extravagant? Maybe the “Snackers” – peanut butter, caramel, crushed nuts, chocolate, and sea salt? (Yes, it’s amazing.) Or maybe I want to burn my tongue off? Well we picked three:

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Frenchy: Caramelized onion with a sweet balsamic reduction

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SP‘s favorite, Tarantula: Soy glaze, roasted garlic, chili, dry rub, fried garlic

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Bathala’s Bliss: Ginger, honey, chili, peanut butter, lime, cilantro

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It’s hard to characterize these fries but they are SO good. Seasoned and served with a “special yellow sauce.”

We could barely walk after eating these delicious wings. SP had wing glaze all over his moustache. However, we did manage to get ourselves up enough to go bowling and push some of the calories out. That was before we got home to make Lasagna.

Picture time!

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2 cups part-skim cheese

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Mix with 1 container of part-skim Ricotta

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93% lean ground beef and some hot italian sausage

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Lay down about a cup of sauce first

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A few lasagna sheets

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Spread on more sauce

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3/4 cup of the cheese mixture, and then spread it!

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Some meat…

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Repeat, repeat, repeat, and then top off with some more sauce and cheese.

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Bake at 375. Boom.

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Garfield would have a fit.

We love pasta as it is, and making stuff like this at home is a lot of fun! Next time we could lighten it up even more, but it was really tasty as is. The hot italian sausage kept things interestingly spicy, and the ricotta was smooth and creamy. Mmmm.

Tomorrow is National Cheesecake Day!


[FHCx165] National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day

Baste your gizzards, for


There’s the old cliche which can be used in reference to quality cuisine: “Just like mom used to make.” SPom, as you may have seen over the past half-year of blog, is a font of cooking knowledge/experience with a large library of “greatest hits” recipes that have made (and will continue to make) many appearances during this Food Holiday Challenge. This day is not for her.

Rubbery potatoes au gratin.
Sahara-dry meat.
Burnt cookies.
A whole chicken cooked with the plastic bag of giblets still in it.

These are the feats of a true Kitchen Klutz, and there is no prouder Kitchen Klutz than AKma. Some people don’t care for the process of cooking because it doesn’t interest them, or they haven’t the time. Others (like AKmawould cook, but are admittedly not the best at it and, thus, do not enjoy it. So, as this day approached, we thought to ourselves: WWAD (what would AKma do)? Have someone else cook instead, of course!

Hide those oven mitts, because we’re going to Butcher and the Boar tonight!

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The Sausage Sampler. Wild Boar Hotlink, Texas Beef Link, and Berkshire Pork and Cheddar. Also pictured: a puddle each of barbecue sauce and mustard, some coleslaw, and pickled veggies.

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A lovely shareable side of Creole Cauliflower.

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Thick and buttery Texas Toast.

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And the main attraction… a beautiful Smoked Beef Long Rib with a Tabasco-molasses sauce. Also, more coleslaw.

Meat. Meat everywhere. And we didn’t have to make any of it! Kitchen Klutzes unite!

Tomorrow: National Strawberry Shortcake Day and National Bourbon Day.





[FHCx164] National Peanut Butter Cookie Day/National Jerky Day

Game of Thrones episode is finally over so we can write about how


The whole “You got chocolate in my peanut butter/You got peanut butter in my chocolate” thing works with lots of things and peanut butter. In today’s case, namely, that’s cookies. Why not make cookies more awesome by adding peanut butter? Probably because some people have life-threatening peanut allergies. Suckers.

As for Jerky Day, we celebrated with some Krave jerky. It’s a great protein snack to keep you full throughout the day. In general, jerky is something you should keep around the house for regular snacking.

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Usually we’d prefer soft cookies but today we were on a schedule!

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Look at that beautiful piece of meat.

Tomorrow is National Kitchen Klutzes of America Day!


[FHCx150] National Coq Au Vin Day

Chicken! Bwaaaak!


Another French cuisine holiday doesn’t faze us at all. We’re in it to win it. This time we chowed down at Patrick’s Bakery in Edina/Richfield and it was terrific. This place is an amazing bistro with an unbelievable bakery. And since we didn’t get enough French food at Salut last Tuesday, we wanted to get something different.

Coq Au Vin is one of those important standards. It’s also one which helped solidify the popularity of Julia Child as one of her breakout recipes in 1961. The dish is more than just chicken/hen and red wine. We’re talking mushrooms, bacon, and all the fixings. No more paragraphs. Pictures of our dinner:

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French Onion Soup sans gratin. It was great.

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The Coq Au Vin

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Beef Bourguignon

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The Sarah Cake: Pistachio and Chocolate Mousse with a dark chocolate ganache. So good.

Tomorrow is National Mint Julep Day!


[FHCx149] National Brisket Day/National Hamburger Day

Somebody had barbecue on the brain…


It’s Memorial Day Weekend! Most of the people around here are probably out on their annual 3-day bender for no reason other than a Monday off work. And usually what goes along with warmer weather and time off is grilling, smoking, and barbecuing. We’ll see barbecue day on Monday, but today honors two very special meats.

Brisket. And this time around, we don’t mean Jewish-style oven-baked brisket. We mean fall-apart, super-smoky, spice-rubbed meat. Brisket is one of the best parts of cow to eat because it’s got the awesome layer of fat called the point. You smoke it point-side up so that the fat renders down into the muscley meat, called the flat. Thanks to the process of rubbing and smoking, it makes this beautiful red ring at the edge of the meat, just before the bark – the blackened outside from the caramelization of the spices on the outside. If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to score the burnt ends, the chef’s secret of cooking brisket. In short, it’s cut up chunks of the point that aren’t served as part of the brisket. Brisket is magical.

We got our meats today from Famous Dave’s, as Dave Anderson is one of our favorite now-local people of the Twin Cities. He is a suuuuuper nice guy, and he makes great food. Yes, we could have gone to local BBQ favorites like Rack Shack or Aesop’s Table, but we chose Dave for today. The others will get theirs!

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Two-meat platter to share!

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Look at that beautiful smoke ring! Tender and juicy and BBQy.

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The Dave’s Burger. BBQ Sauce on burgers is amazing.

So happy meat-filled meat day to us!

Tomorrow is National Coq Au Vin Day.


[FHCx132] National Eat What You Want Day

Don’t you make me repeat it!


AK, here. Today is a special food holiday in the sense that it’s the first time in 132 days that our beloved challenge has not mandated anything particular for us to eat/drink. We’ve gotten used to the challenge making our decisions for us, and the freedom was scary! So, naturally, we frantically searched for some other inspiration to tell us what to eat.

May 11th, let’s see… start of the Mexican-American War of 1846, apparently. A culinary duel between tacos and cheeseburgers? Sounds elaborate. Better not.

Hey, turns out today is also the 158th Anniversary of Minnesota’s admission into the Union! Maybe we should eat a distinctly Minnesotan food! Wild rice? Meh. Lutefisk? Hard meh. What else is there…


Some of you might be thinking something along the lines of “Hot dish? What, did they take it out of the dishwasher while it was still in dry mode?” No no, dear chap. Hot dish is a Minnesotan casserole thingy, often made with tater tots. So Minnesotan that, for a few years, our airport had a restaurant centered around it (RIP). It’s kind of in the same class as funeral potatoes. Here’s some lady talking about it on Youtube:

Long ago, before I knew it would be useful, I found this amusing book at a thrift store:

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Being that this was my first hot dish experience, both in the cooking and eating of them, SP and I thought it best to keep it classic and go with a basic/entry-level hot dish.

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Instead of using the 1/2 cup minced equivalent of one small onion, we used half of a giant onion. There was probably more onion than meat and that is okay.

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Ground beef into the mix. Gotta get it all broken up while ya brown it. As a Hamburger Helper enthusiast, I had this part down pat. 

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Onionmeat goes into the casserole dish, followed by your frozen and hopefully listeria-free vegetable of choice. We went with corn.

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Cream of mushroom soup and milk join the party!

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Lots of people just kind of chuck the tater tots in there, but we laid them gingerly like little potato bricks.

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Bake it for an hour, et voila!

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Goopy meaty Upper Midwestern fare, fit for any Sven or Helga.

It was pretty good. Hearty, classic. Lowbrow? You be the judge.

Tomorrow is Nutty Fudge Day.