Top 10 Minnesota Picks

Ahhh Minnesotahhh! The land of 10,000 lakes, walleye pike, wild rice and 10 other things that are my personal faves. My mom is from Minnesota so I’ve been visiting family there for years and wanted to share some of my personal fave things about the great state.

 

10. The Saint Paul Hotel & The St. Paul Grill – I make sure to schedule a Sunday into any trip to MN I take so I can head to The St. Paul Grill for brunch which is located in the Saint Paul Hotel. My favorite item is their sausage gravy and biscuits. It is out of this world! The gravy is a spicy cream sauce that is to die for. They also provide a little pastry tray for the table which has chocolate croissants, sticky buns and more.

 

9. Cheese Curds – Fried cheese curds to be exact. The first time I ever had cheese curds was at the Mall of America, although you can usually find them at their State Fair. During a recent trip to Minnesota I was pleasantly surprised that the hotel we stayed at (Ramada MOA) offered fried cheese curds at their restaurant. Score!

 

8. Mall of America – How could I write about Minnesota without including the largest mall in the US? Not possible! Not only is this the one stop spot for shopping cause ever store known to man is there, but there’s a theme park, shows, LEGO Land, restaurants galore and more. Plus as I mentioned above the location of my first cheese curd experience.

 

7. Illume – Minnesota is home of Illume candles. They have the most amazing fragrances and their diffusers last forever. I adore them. You may read more about my love for Illume in my previous blog post HERE.

 

6. Bridgeman’s – The famous ice cream locale for Minnesotans. A chain throughout the State that has been slowly diminishing unfortunately. They have the best Butter Brickle ice cream ever! Plus they make a mean Turtle Sundae. Now if only they would open in NJ or ship to me.

 

5. Bakers Square – If you want pie, and who doesn’t want pie, then Baker’s Square is the spot. The Caramel Pecan Supreme is my absolute fave.  Their Candy Cane holiday pie sounds delish though.

 

4. Patina – I love love love this store! They have the cutest finds. They sell everything from bridal bingo to kids toys, cookbooks and lotions to purses and tee-shirts. I never walk out empty handed in this store. Such a cute store. I frequent the Highland Village location but they have a few stores scattered throughout the State.

 

3. Your Best Face (YBF) – Another great brand based in Minnesota. I came across them on Twitter and fell in love with them. You may read more about them in this previous post I wrote about them HERE. Great skincare, super moisturizing and smells like homemade biscotti. Yum!

 

2. The Lexington – You’ve got to go to “The Lex” when you’re in St. Paul. Established in 1935 they are a classic! Any occassion is a good occassion to be at “The Lex”. I personally love their Filet Mignon and they make a mean dirty martini. It’s very reminiscent of the “The Oak Room” in New York City.

 

1. My Grandma – I saved the best for last! No hyperlink here. 🙂 My grandma will be 95 this February and she is a total rockstar. Enough said.

 

From food to family and shopping in between, Minnesota’s got it all.

 

 

 

 

Oneida Culinaria – Culinary Delight!

Recently I was asked to do a product review for Oneida Culinaria.

 

I received a 4 piece plate setting in Pound Cake, which consisted of a dinner plate, salad plate, bowl and mug. It was beautiful. I was thrilled to test out the new dinnerware with my family. Everyone loved it! The weight to it is perfect and the color was great. The style is totally timeless and classic and would be perfect to mix and match with another color from the line. I was happy to hear that it was chip resistant as I knew our small nephews would be using it.

We’ve been using the dinnerware for a few weeks now and not one chip! Our nephews use it no problem and its dishwasher and microwave safe. The Oneida Culinaria place settings are backed with a 3 Year No-Chip Warranty. How great is that?

My mother in law loves the set so much we are going to purchase additional pieces as a Christmas gift for her.

For more information on how you can purchase the Oneida Culinaria line visit http://www.oneida.com.

Doubly Happy at the Double Tree & On the Bone Princeton

Double Tree Hotel – You’ll be doubly happy!
By: Katie DeVito
Follow me on Twitter @kdevito

A couple of weeks ago I attended the Princeton Chamber of Commerce Trade Show. As I walked out the door I said to my husband, maybe I’ll win a raffle (although I never have). I had a great time at the trade show and during the Tweet Up they held a raffle. My name was the first name called and I won an overnight stay at the Double Tree Hotel Princeton and $100 gift certificate for On the Bone (the restaurant attached to the Double Tree).

Our one-year wedding anniversary was soon approaching. What a perfect opportunity to experience the newly renovated Double Tree and check out On the Bone steakhouse. I booked our reservation and anxiously awaited our Princeton staycation.

When we arrived at the Double Tree, we were pleasantly surprised by the lobby décor. We heard they recently renovated the hotel, but had no idea it would be so trendy chic. Juan Soto greeted us at the front desk. He was also the Front Office Manager on duty as well as the General Hotel Manager for the evening. When you think customer service doesn’t exist anymore… head over to see Juan at the Double Tree. He was fabulous!

We got our keys and headed up to our Parlor Suite room. We walked in and the room had not yet been cleaned. I immediately picked up the phone to call the front desk, while it was ringing, someone was knocking on our door, and it was Juan. He apologized for the inconvenience and moved us across the hall. We settled in and made ourselves some Wolfgang Puck coffee and relaxed in our Parlor Suite. The suite consists of a living area with a couch, table to eat, and TV. The bathroom is great, and even includes tons of Neutrogena products. Even special facial moisturizer with SPF 15. How great is that? The bedroom was beautiful, it also included a TV, a really cool alarm clock and a leather bench to sit and put shoes on at. I can’t tell you how comfortable the bed and pillows were. Apparently guests can even purchase them if they so chose. That should tell you just how comfy it is.

We took a nice long nap and then got ready for our anniversary dinner at On the Bone Steakhouse, which is attached to the Double Tree. We walked up and gave our name to the hostess but told her that we were going to sit at the bar for a cocktail first. Nick the bartender made me a killer extra dirty Grey Goose martini and my husband had his signature Johnny Walker Black.  The bar was packed!

We went back up to the hostess after our drinks to be seated. The décor in On the Bone is very stylish and trendy. As soon as we sat down I noticed that the menu and silverware all had the same silver imprinted design. The people next to us over heard me say that it all matched and they said they go there all the time and never noticed. We ended up chatting with them and go to On the Bone almost once a week for their American Kobe Beef Burgers; they love them and say they have the best in the area.

Our server Caitlin came over to take our order. We ordered two glasses of Cabernet, a shrimp and chorizo sausage dish as our appetizer, a 6oz. filet mignon and the On the Bone filet mignon. The shrimp and chorizo sausage app was great and plated with a drizzle of a BBQ/Chipotle sauce and a lime mousse. Both of our entrees were cooked to perfection. I ordered the 6oz. filet mignon, which came with fresh vegetables, and I ordered loaded baked potato. With all the fixins of course! Is there any other way? My husband had the On the Bone filet mignon, which is exactly that, on the bone, with their vegetables and french fries. Most of the restaurants dishes are served “on the bone” hence their name. As many of you foodies out there know, when meat/poultry etc. are left on the bone it adds a lot more flavor to the dish. We were both completely satisfied and stuffed with our meal. But it was our anniversary so we had to divulge in some dessert. It was the right thing to do. We ordered a slice of their chocolate cake.

After dinner we went back to our room and were greeted by 2 small plates of dessert, champagne and a note from Juan. What a nice way to end the evening!

I woke up the next morning very relaxed, I loved their bedding. We truly enjoyed our stay at the Double Tree Princeton and will recommend it to out of town guests.

A week or so later we headed back to On the Bone after a Clarence Clemons book signing to try out their Kobe burgers. They were out of this world and they come with killer onion rings. I think we are going to be regulars at On the Bone.

Perfect Penne Gorgonzola with Chicken

The hubs and I are a little partial to alfredo, especially my roasted garlic alfredo. However, we both love gorgonzola, so I thought let’s try something new. This dish is “off the hook” or ridiculously good.

 

Here’s the dish:

 

What’cha need:

1 pkg. penne pasta

1 lb. boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite size pieces

1 tbsp. olive oil

1 large garlic clove minced

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup chicken broth

5 oz. crumbled gorgonzola cheese

salt and pepper to taste

grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese (optional)

 

Cook pasta according to package. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown chicken in the olive oil. Once browned a bit, add the garlic and cook a minute longer. Add the broth and loosen up any brown bits. Add cream. Cook til sauce is slightly thickened (it doesn’t get that thick) and chicken is fully cooked. Stir in the gorgonzola cheese, salt and pepper. Cook til cheese just melts.

 

Drain pasta. Put pasta in a dish, pour some tasty sauce over it. Add some parmigiano-reggiano if you want and dig in.

 

This dish is super easy and super tasty. It’s definitely a repeat meal.

 

ps. The hubs loved it too!

It's Not Just Texas Chili

After years of experimenting with a wide array of chili recipes from books, websites and word of mouth, I am proud to say my search for the perfect chili has ended. All thanks to a little wedding gift I received called “Bride & Groom: First and Forever Cookbook” by Mary Corpening Barber & Sara Corpening Whiteford. I’ve been talking it up for a while now, so I figured I should pass along this killer recipe to all my friends.

If you are like me and prefer a more soupy chili rather than one that’s totally chunky and has no sauce… you’re search too has ended. This chili recipe is so unbelievably flavorful and feeds an army. Ok maybe not an army but it will totally feed a Boy Scout troop, no doubt.

I typically make my chili in the morning or early afternoon and let it sit so that the flavors develop even more. Before I’m going to serve it, I just heat it up for a few.

Here’s the dish on Texas Chili:

Whatcha Need:

1 Tbs. Bacon Grease or Vegetable Oil

2 Medium Yellow Onions, chopped

3 Tbs. Chopped Garlic

3 Tbs. Chili Powder

2 Tbs. Paprika

1 Tbs. Cumin

2 Tsp. Dried Oregano

1 lb. Ground Beef Chuck

1 lb. Italian Sausage Links, removed from casings and crumbled

2 Tsp. Kosher Salt, plus more as needed

2 cans (28 oz, each) Crushed Tomato Puree

1 can (15 oz.) Kidney Beans, rinsed and drained

1 can (15 oz.) BBQ Baked Beans, drained

1 Tbs. Minced Canned Chipotle Chilies in Adobo Sauce, plus more as needed

Heat the bacon grease (or vegetable oil) in an 8 quart heavy bottomed stockpot over medium heat. (I always use vegetable oil.) Add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 7 to 10 minutes. Add the chili powder, paprika, cumin and oregano and stir until the spices are well combined. Add the ground chuck, sausage and 1 tsp. of the kosher salt. Increase the heat to medium-high and cook the meat, stirring frequently, until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally for 1 hour. Adjust the seasonings with more kosher salt or chipotle chiles if necessary (I add a bit more of the chiles).

Serve the chili with some of these fixin’s:

Grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese

Chopped Green Onion

Sour Cream

Crumbled Corn Chips/Tortilla Chips

Red Pepper Flakes

Chopped Jalapeno Chiles

Cornbread

This recipe is so tasty that you really don’t need any fixin’s at all, but it does make a lot. So if your not making this for a big crowd, you will have tons of leftovers and might want to switch things up a bit by adding some of the fixin’s for your leftovers.

I like it best with some shredded cheddar (my hubby prefers no fixins) and we either dip tortilla chips in it or eat it with some cornbread.

This is a great dish to bring to a World Series Party, Superbowl Party or to a Potluck Dinner. We like to have it on a cold rainy “stay inside” weekend while watching shows we DVR’d during the week, movies or re-runs of our fave 80’s shows.

 

Enjoy and let me know what you think. I’m certain that your search for the “perfect” chili has now ended.

 

Do you follow me on Twitter? @kdevito