Archive for the ‘Claire Eats’ Category

I did it. I swore I would never eat here again…but the call of Cheesecake Stuffed Pancakes (yes, you read that correctly…..) was far too strong.

I ate at IHOP.

I’ll spare the details of my past IHOP misadventures and say again: Cheesecake Stuffed Pancakes.  With Hannah down and out for the night, my dear pal Matt (and growing fellow foodie) agreed that cheesecake in any form was too delicious to pass up.  Braving it north on Highway 100, we found one of the few IHOPs in the Twin Cities.  No need for a menu, we ordered:

Pancake Stackers Sweet and silky cheesecake layered between four buttermilk pancakes. Crowned with cinnamon apple compote & creamy whipped topping.

New York Cheesecake Pancakes – Four fluffy buttermilk pancakes loaded with creamy, rich cheesecake pieces and crowned with cool strawberry topping, powdered sugar and whipped topping.

and…four sausages to even out the sugar high.

And you know what?  It was good.  It was really fricken good.  Beyond the obvious deliciousness that are pancakes, throw in some cheesecake and that’s pretty much perfect.  Heck, take out the cheesecake and those were some fantastic pancakes – crispy on the edges, fluffy on the inside – everything a pancake should be.

As Matt and I said, we’d go again…maybe next time with one less order of pancakes…


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The Blue Door Pub
1811 Selby Ave
St. Paul, MN 55104
(651) 493-1865

This place is a must – as simple as that.  With a perfect Happy Hour ($2 on all tap beers…what?!), friendly atmosphere, and absolutely delicious burgers, this place better be on your list to visit…soon!

With Hannah off at college, Claire decided to invite fellow family member and foodie – Nan.   They squeaked a seat right before Happy Hour filled up the pub, did a quite look-see through the menu and settled on a favorite and an exotic.  Nan went for the ‘Classic’ Juicy Lucy and Claire went for the ‘Jiffy Burger’, as she says: Peanut goes with pretty much anything.

Excellent company and excellent food rounded off the evening!

Claire and Nan enjoyed:

The Classic – 6.50
A Twin Cities original and South Minneapolis’ culinary gift to the world.  Made with cheddar cheese.

Becareful! The cheese is molten!

Jiffy Burger – 7.75
You’ve got to try it to be a believer.  We cover our burger with peanut butter, a little mayo, pepper jack cheese, bacon, and a few pickles – just like Mom used to make!  Awarded Best Burger in the Twin Cities by City Pages!

Like I say, peanut butter goes well with anything!!

Bell’s Best Brown Ale – 2.00 (Happy Hour!)

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Saturday, January 9, 2010

As 2010 rolled in, so did the cold weather. Those first couple weeks of January brought below zero temperatures, and with it the need for some homemade fondue!  And what goes better with creamy cheese fondue than a rousing game or two on Nintendo Wii?So Hannah and Claire called for a girl’s night!

Armed with pounds of cheese and bottles of frozen cider the girls set to work in Claire’s crooked kitchen grating cheese, chopping carrots, frying sausages, and slicing some baguettes.  With the cheerful notes of the Glee soundtrack playing in the background, the cheese bubbled and the guests showed up. Joanna arrived armed with a bottle of wine and Jenn with a dangerous version of  ‘Dance Dance Revolution’ for the Wii.

A few glow-stick necklaces and ‘Dancing with the Stars’ battles later, we were ready for round two.  No meal is complete without dessert and the chocolate fondue (see recipe below) was left to Hannah’s creation.  A little cream and a lotta chocolate!  Add some bananas, marshmallows, apples, and pretzels and that’s some good fondue!

Thank you to the Food Network Kitchens for the cheese fondue recipe!

Cheddar and Hard Cider Fondue

1 (12-ounce) bottle hard cider
¾ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
½ pound Gruyere cheese, grated
½ pound sharp Vermont yellow Cheddar, grated
3 tablespoons corn starch
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper

Heat cider, broth, Worcestershire, and garlic over medium heat and simmer for 5 minutes.

Toss the cheese together in a medium bowl. Sift the corn starch over the cheese and toss to coat.

Slowly sprinkle cheese into warm liquid, continue until cheese is melted. Stir in cayenne and salt.

And thank you to Hannah for the wonderful Chocolate Fondue recipe!

Chocolate Fondue
So chocolate fondue couldn’t be more easy, If you remember to be careful and take your time.

12 ounces of chocolate, chopped fine
(Dark, milk, or any kind that you want!)
8 ounces of heavy whipping cream

Warm the cream in the microwave or on the stove until it starts to get little bubbles around the edge. Remove it from the heat and slowly add the chocolate while stirring. The heat from the cream should melt the chocolate thoroughly but if it doesn’t you can pop it in the microwave for A FEW seconds. Be careful because chocolate burns really easily. Once the chocolate is melted you can add any assortment of goodies that you want. Some people add Baileys or some other type of flavored liquor, you can add orange zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, peppermint extract or anything that you would like. Personally, I just like the straight up chocolate but whatever suits your mood! Just transfer your chocolate pot to your fondue stand and you are ready to go! However, as we learned quickly, don’t have the flame too big because, as I stated before, chocolate burns easily.  And there you have it! You can serve this with any assortment of goodies like fruit, pretzels, marshmallows, pound cake or angel food cake, or just dip a spoon in and go to town!

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A big THANK YOU goes out to our pal Jenn for writing this up.  Our first guest blogger (of what we hope to be many)!!  As usual, our comments are added in for a little spice.  Me, in orange and Jenn, in blue.


Seattle, Washington – August 21, 2009


This is the story of Claire and Jenn’s foodie adventures in Seattle, Washington [Side note – at the time, Jenn was residing near Seattle and I ventured out west to visit some folks…why everyone I know moves to Washington is beyond me…].  Jenn was super excited to introduce Claire to some of her favorite places and Claire was excited about trying new food [correction – I was excited about food in general…] in the Pacific Northwest.


After a lazy start to the day, the adventurers headed off to Pike Place Market.  After several minutes of driving, and one super creepy parking ramp that had a handful of cars (one had a broken window!!), they found a reasonably priced parking spot and traversed the 3 short blocks to Pike Place proper.  The first stop on their list of things to see and do was a stop for food!  Jenn knew of this really yummy place called “Piroshky Piroshky”.  The name comes from the Russian word “pir” which means “feast”.  Sounds perfect for a couple of food-loving girls, right?


While standing in line on the sidewalk, Jenn filled Claire in on the history of this little family-owned Russian bakery while they watched the employees creating more stuffed pies for the delight of the customers crowding the counter [crowding is right…talk about a line, but talk about worth it!].  Back in 1992 when they were trying to open the restaurant, the family realized they were about $1,000 short of the funds they needed for their supplies and ingredients.  One morning when they entered their shop they noticed an envelope on the floor.  Inside was $1,000!  (I’m really glad someone donated that money so we could enjoy the awesome deliciousness of the piroshkies!!) They never found out who donated the money but they are still grateful for it now.


Anyway, by the time Jenn finished the story, the girls were in the tiny store and admiring the rows and towers of stuffed pies and second-guessing their choices.  In the end they bought a “Potato, Onion, Cheese Piroshky” and a “Cherry and White Chocolate Piroshky”.  (I liked the Potato, Onion, Cheese but not so much the Cherry and White Chocolate one.  My favorite of all of them is the Spinach, Egg and Cheese Piroshky.  Mmmmm!!!!) [I liked them all! This is why I like Jenn…I come in demanding we each get something different to split.  She doesn’t like the Cherry and White Chocolate, so I get it!  What a friend…] Since there is no seating in the shop and there was quite a few people pressing in, trying to get their bellies filled with the piroshkies as well, Claire and Jenn sat on a bench outside where they proceeded to tear the piroshkies in half, swap halves and then devoured the delicious Russian treats (Claire devoured.  I nibbled.  Daintily.  The way I do everything.  Just ask anyone.  Wait, don’t ask anyone that… lol). [I won’t answer that one!]

Piroshky Piroshky Claire with her Cherry and White Chocolate Piroshky Jenn with her Potato, Onion, Cheese Piroshky


The ladies then had to walk around Pikes Place to make room in their tummies for more delicious food.  Claire purchased kiwi, strawberry and peach fruit logs from a fruit stand and Jenn got some chocolate covered fruit to snack on later from the Chukar Cherries stand.  Claire has been working on a sort of bucket list lately and one of the items on her list was to try sushi!  Using the GPS in Claire’s phone [seriously, how in the world did I survive basic life functions without that phone.  I love you Google Maps!] the girls made their way to a reasonably priced sushi place which turned out to be more of a fast food type of place [Yes, warning bells should be going off here.].  After some debate it was decided that they would stay but sit in a place where the workers of the sushi counter would be unable to view them.  This turned out to be a good idea… (All I can say is YUCK) [Here’s a call out to any sushi fans – Jenn and I had no idea what we were doing or what we ordered!  We’re willing to give it a second go…but with guidance…].  Some of Jenn’s chocolate covered cherry assortment and many pieces of Claire’s breath freshening gum later, the taste was finally beginning to leave their mouths and they felt ready for the next culinary adventure at Slim’s Last Chance Chili Shack (Claire, HOW many times did you have to ask me that restaurant’s name??  HaHaHa!!). [Well it’s not one that roles off the tongue now is it?]

Our first attempt! Let's just see about this... Hmmmm....

No thank you! Not for Jenn! Failed attempt...


This restaurant, located in a slightly shady, Warehouse-district equivalent of Seattle, boasted “Burgers, Chili, Booze & Music”.  No more incentive was needed to get these two food-lovers in the door [Chili and Booze, that’s good enough for me!].  Considering the amount of food that had already been consumed, the logical choice was to split the meal.  While making that all important decision, Claire sipped on the house brew, that was served in an old-fashioned jelly jar and Jenn, who has yet to find a beer she likes, had a fruity concoction.  The girls finally decided to try the Texas Red, a traditional chili made with beef, and when the food came they were so glad they opted to share it.  It came in a huge bowl that had white cheddar grits covered with steaming hot, savory chili and topped with tons of melted cheese [White Cheddar Cheese Grits = Delicious].  The girls waited about 1.2 seconds to take some pictures before diving in.  (I was uncertain of how the chili was going to taste with the grits, never having had grits before, and it was soooo good!  Claire will concur.  I had to knock her fork from my half of the bowl quite a few times…) Waddling out to the car, the girls decided that, with the exception of the sushi, it had been a successful foody day.

Slim’s Last Chance Chili Shack A meal fit for two! Cheese is a good thing! I'm so fulllllllllllllllll!


Tasty Tip:  Never try sushi in a food court.  But if you do, make sure you have plenty of chocolate covered cherries and Trident gum for after!

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After a not so subtle hint from my roommate, I realized the 5 bags of frozen walleye I had stashed away in my freezer probably needed to come out. A fish fry was in order! I called up my fellow foodies, stopped by the store for some beverages, and headed home to start frying up some good ole Canadian walleye.

Now, a side note is in order…I have been vacationing in Lake of the Woods with my family for the past 18 years. And in those 18 years, not once have I cooked any fish related dish. Why search for perfection when you’ve already found it? There was no need for my *ahem* cooking skills…

Back to present day – this is why Hannah and I make such a good team. Hans cooks, I eat. Well, when Hans runs off for “college” I turn to my hungry belly to my good pal, Tom. I whine, Tom cooks, I eat. A perfect combination!  While Andrea, Matt, and I worked on the wine, Tom worked on the walleye.

I searched around for a recipe that offered a little more than the traditional bread coating. The following recipe I found a couple places on the handy internet, so I’m not going to credit one person (and as much as I’d like to, I won’t take credit for it!)

Honey-Fried Walleye

4-6 walleye fillets
1 egg
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup coarsely crushed saltines
1/3 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon salk
vegetable oil
additional honey for drizzling

– Beat egg and honey together in a shallow bowl. In another, combine the cracker crumbs, flour, pepper, and salt.
– Dip the fillets into the egg mixture and then dredge in crumb mixture.
– In a large skillet, heat 1/4-inch of oil, fry fish over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Absolutely perfect walleye – just flaked off the fork and ever so moist. Drizzle a little honey over the top and you have yourself a delicious meal. I suppose you could add a side of veggies, some warm rolls, and a light salad but really…is that necessary?!

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