black pepper & parmesan pasta

As I prepare for my upcoming trip to Haiti, I am constantly reminded of how rich my life is.

I’ve got a warm surrounding of family, friends, a fiance and of course my “Internet friends.” :) I’ve got more than enough food and even though I rarely, ok never, feel like I’m swimming in money, I certainly have enough money to live a rich life. I can visit fancy food stores, try new restaurants and buy new clothes. I consider these things part of my rich life.

But lately, every time I turn to purchase something, I’m reminded of those who don’t have what I have. And while my feelings should be grateful, they are often full of guilt. It is hard to balance life here and my trips there. Hard to feel ok about spending one week there and returning home to my cozy life here.

It is feelings like these, that make me crave the simple meals and foods like the ones I had in Haiti. No truffle oil, no smoked pork chops – just some noodles, a little bit of Parmesan and a lot of pepper.

Black Pepper & Parmesan Pasta - 1 serving

  • 1 serving whole grain pasta
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • salt & pepper
  • fresh Parmesan

Prepare pasta as directed.

Drizzle olive oil over pasta and season with salt & pepper, topping with fresh Parmesan.

braised red cabbage & a german meal

I’m not afraid to admit that I do a terrible job celebrating my food heritage. I always vow to celebrate Oktoberfest (which in Germany is celebrated the last week in September) but quite frankly, I’m not a huge beer drinker, and sausages and potatoes just don’t make the cut as my favorite foods.  So the years keep passing me by and no heritage is celebrated. Those summer brats don’t count –  they fall under Wisconsin heritage, not German. ;)

Oktoberfest was originally a celebration of Prince Ludwig and Princess Saxe-Hildburghausen’s wedding, where they organized a large horse race. The event was so much fun they decided to make it a yearly event.  As the years went on, the celebration grew and shifted to the beer tents and strong brews we think of today.  This year, 200 years after the first Oktoberfest, it was my turn to celebrate!

My search for German recipes was frustrating to say the least – potatoes, sausage and a ridiculous amount of cakes are exactly the reasons I haven’t celebrated in years. In fact I almost started to take it as a sign. But when I started to think about passing on my own food traditions, I think that my food heritage – however small it is in my life and kitchen- is something I’ll want to pass on to my children. So we ended up with beer-boiled (0bviously) sausage (Würstl) and some braised red cabbage.  Not quite the German meal that I had imagined, but one that tasted great and would have my ancestors proud. I hope.

Braised Red Cabbage 3-4 servings

  • 1/2 red cabbage
  • 1/2 yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp fennel seeds

Thinly slice red cabbage, onions and mince garlic.

Heat oil in large pan and add onions to pan. Cook, stirring occasionally for about 5 minutes, until golden brown.

Add cabbage, garlic vinegar and fennel to pan. Toss ingredients and cover.

Cook for about 10 minutes, then turn heat down to low. Cook for another 40 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so. Serve hot or at room temperature.

Just be sure to include a cold beer – it wouldn’t be an Oktoberfest celebration without it.

Don’t forget to vote for Project Food Blog Challenge #4!

project food blog #4: an omelette in pictures

I cannot thank you all enough for helping to get me to round 4 of the project food blog. I was shocked and so flattered to find out that I made it to round 4! I also started to immediately panic, wondering what I would do for the next challenge.

Challenge #4 was to create step-by-step instructions on how to make or prepare something – but it is pictures, not words that need to guide the readers through the steps. I wanted to show you all how to prepare something that is simple, healthy and should be a staple in all households – although many people are intimidated by them – omelettes.

Omelettes are something, much like risotto, that once the basics are mastered, the possibilities are endless. You can serve your omelet plain, with cheese or get really fancy and add things like fresh herbs, bacon, vegetables, etc. Often thought of as simply a breakfast food, an omelette is an outstanding meal, anytime of the day.

It is also a dish that almost every culture has a variation on, truly making it a universal food. There are Iranian, Chinese, Italian, French, Thai, Spanish, Moroccan, Indian versions and a number of others that aren’t mentioned.  Next time you’re out traveling? Make sure you try the local “omelette.” There’s a world of omelettes that go beyond the “Denver.”

Now, let’s get to the omelette!

Gather ingredients: 1 Tbsp butter, 2 eggs, 2 Tbsp milk, salt & pepper

Whisk eggs

Add milk, salt & pepper. Beat eggs for about 1 minute

Heat pan over medium-low heat. Add butter and when melted, swirl to coat entire pan


When hot, add egg mixture. Swirl pan and use spatula to loosen and round edges

When almost completely set, fold over in half, tilting pan to help. Let sit on heat for another 30 seconds to cook through

I can’t tell you that folding an omelette is exactly an easy thing to do, it takes some practice and I certainly don’t have it mastered. What I can tell you is that no matter what it looks like, it is going to taste amazing. Just make sure you use real butter – it makes all the difference in this simple dish.

restaurant: Pho79

I don’t know what it is about Pho (actually pronounced fuh), but I’ve been beyond obsessed. My post for Project Food Blog Challenge #2 was all about Pho, but it started long before that challenge.

My first experience was in Boston, where thankfully we had a pro guiding us along. And then a more recent amazing bowl at Pho Nam in Madison, WI. If you live in Wisconsin, visit this restaurant – it opened a few weeks ago, but the Pho was amazing!

So I’ve decided, that much like Lynn’s BVSLA quest, I’m on a quest for the best pho in Minneapolis. Or maybe the world, I’m not going to close any doors. Let’s begin with Pho79, shall we?

Pho79 is a restaurant that clearly focuses more on the food than the decor. I love a fancy restaurant with contemporary bathrooms as much as the next person, but there are instances when it’s just not necessary. Slurping pho is a perfect example. Located on the popular “Eat Street” neighborhood (free parking!) of Minneapolis, authentic and ethnic restaurants populate the streets.

It wasn’t very busy, on a cloudy Thursday evening, but it was early in the night. The fact that one of the other tables brought the staff cupcakes from a local bakery spoke more to what we were in store for than the fact that it was quite empty at 6:00pm. The service was quick and the prices worth smiling about – $8/meal. (I took half of my pho home too)

The menu is extensive, and could be a bit overwhelming, but when it comes to Pho, I need only one page and tend to narrow it down pretty quickly. Tripe and soft tendon? No thanks! The taster has been sticking with Bún Rice Vermicelli Salads, in particular, #38, which is topped with grilled, marinated pork and jumbo shrimp. The pork was delicious and the shrimp? Calling them jumbo is a bit of an exaggeration, but still delicious. I was more focused on the pho, sticking wtih pho tai, sach which comes with well done flank and skirt steak.

I always add all of the bean sprouts, jalapeños and lemongrass leaves, along with a heavy squirt of sriracha. It makes for a fiery, salty, steaming bowl of what can only be described as the most comforting, yet exciting bowl of soups I’ve ever found. How does the Pho at Pho79 rank? Considering I have no Twin Cities restaurants to compare it to yet, it’s #1 and would require an extra-delicious bowl of Pho to beat it.

Have any Pho recommendations for me?