Sorry, I Burned the Pine Nuts

In digging through my draft posts, the ones that never quite saw the light of the blogosphere, I came across this one … sharing an easy pasta recipe with sautéed spinach on the side.  I have mentioned before that my husband is the primary cook in this house; not that I don’t know how or am not willing, but for him it is a hobby and an art, and I willingly enjoy the products of his creativity.  Often when I cook, it is because my husband and boys are gone for the evening or weekend, and I go looking for something quick to put together, so I can pour a glass of wine and hunker down with a good chick flick!

Rigatoni with broccoli and brie ingredients

On one of these occasions when I found myself on the cooking rather than eating side of the food equation, and felt my blog had been sparse on the food posts, I tried to keep the mayhem (and cat hair) in the kitchen at a minimum as I cooked, with an occasional photo along the way.

Feline kitchen help

Four ingredients: whole wheat pasta, broccoli, brie and pine nuts.  Really can’t get much simpler than that.

Whole wheat rigatoni

Broccoli steamer
My old Pampered Chef microwave steamer pot is ideal for quickly steaming veggies.

The challenge is to not eat the brie while chopping it into cubes as the pasta boils!

Brie cubes for pasta

Actually, the real challenge is not getting distracted while the pine nuts are toasting in the skillet.  As usual, I multi-tasked one too many things, and soon the smell of burnt pine nuts was filling the house …. but it was not a loss, and I took one for the team, filling a bowl with a healthy portion.

Pasta with burnt pine nuts ..... aka Creamy Rigatoni with Broccoli

And for an additional dose of green leafy vegetables, and another of my favorite quick and easy sides, I couldn’t screw up the Barefoot Contessa’s Garlic Sautéed Spinach (my kind of recipe — advertised prep time: 6 minutes, cook time: 4 minutes!).

Garlic cloves for sauteed spinach

A good olive oil, generous portion of garlic cloves, and fresh spinach leaves mix together for a wonderful wilted dish. It stands alone or would be tasty mixed in with pasta for another pasta with greens option.

For the Garlic Sautéed Spinach recipe, click here.

Garlic Sauteed Spinach

For the Creamy Rigatoni with Broccoli and Brie recipe, click here.

Creamy Rigatoni with Broccoli and Brie

Ciao! ~ Kat

India Up North

Northern Minnesota’s restaurant scene has more to offer than walleye and wild rice.  I am pleased that my teens’ palates gravitate toward places like the India Palace when we decide to have a family dinner out (although a fresh fish fry is nothing to grumble about).

india palace welcome 9_28_12

india palace exterior 9_28_12

.A meal could be made out of the appetizers alone, but we take the sampler approach and divvy up one of the India Palace’s House Platters, with my favorite Vegetable Samosas (triangle pies stuffed with potatoes and peas blended with spices), Vegetable Pakora (fritters), Pneer Pakora (cheese fritters) and Aloo Tikki (seasoned potato patty), along with an order of Naan and chutney sauces (I could eat their mint chutney with a spoon)!

india palace platter 9_28_12

india palace mural 9_28_12

The atmosphere at the India Palace is welcoming and low-key (just like northern Minnesota).  Scattered throughout the restaurant are beautiful wall hangings and tapestries.  One thing I learned after reading further about Ganesha, the elephant god, is that depicting Ganesha with only two hands is taboo.  (Interested in learning more about Ganesha?  Check out this link). I am reminded of how little I know about certain cultures and religions, and how many fascinating stories are just waiting to be told, if only one takes the time to watch and listen.

india palace wall hanging 9_28_12

Unfortunately, the evening lighting was somewhat dim for my unsophisticated camera, so my food photos from this particular evening are few, as I did not think the photos accurately reflected the dishes and the meal we enjoyed.  My family was not patient enough to let me try to take the perfect shot before digging into the meal, and before you knew it, we were looking at empty serving bowls, with any leftover sauce on the plates sopped up by a delicious piece of naan.  We enjoy the family-style dining, sharing portions of the Chicken Jalfrezi, Lamb Kashmiri and Beef Malabar.  This time we tried the Aloo Gobi, as well, for our vegetarian selection. You can’t go wrong, whatever your selection.

india palace dinner 2 9_28_12

We really need to remind ourselves that spicy in Minnesota is usually still humane, and by requesting the mild level spice on some of the dishes (for fear my nose will start running and taste buds numb to the point of tasting nothing) we lose out on some of the more complex tastes of Indian cuisine.  Half the family falls into the category of hot spicy adventurers, while the other half (my youngest son and me) fall into the category of spicy wimps.  If only my physical tolerance for spice was greater!  I have tried, truly I have, but it is a sad state of affairs when I push the envelope and then spend the rest of the meal drinking milk and eating bread in an effort to calm the fire in my mouth and throat.

india palace shirt 9_28_12

We always leave room for dessert at the India Palace — their homemade mango ice cream is such a refreshing end to a meal, summer or winter, spicy meal or not.  This time, one of my sons tried the Gulab Jamun (milk balls dipped in sweet syrup), served warm.

india palace dessert 9_28_12

As we departed, this group of gentlemen was kind enough to let me take their picture, after I offered to take a group photo of them  with one of their cameras (I noticed during dinner that they took turns taking photos of each other with different cameras, but that always left one of them out of the picture — similar to the majority of the family vacation photos we have, where I make someone take one picture of me, to prove I was on vacation, too!).  In this picture you can see several of them were enjoying the mango lassi drink which is my youngest son’s favorite!  You get a better flavor for the rustic setting and interesting decor, which I have highlighted throughout this post.

india palace guests 9_28_12

I admit to being a relative neophyte when it comes to Indian cuisine, but I have been collecting some interesting recipes lately (thank you, Peri’s Spice Ladle).  Perhaps you will see a future post featuring my husband’s foray into Indian cooking, along with a few phrases of Hindi since that has been the latest language my eldest son has taken an interest in learning!  In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy our “up north” option for Indian cooking at this comfortable spot in downtown Duluth.

india palace wall hanging 2 9_28_12

Ciao! ~ Kat