Restaurant Review: Grand Catch

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There’s a new seafood restaurant in town, or rather, on the historic Grand Ave. The serve traditional cajun seafood boil. It’s cooked traditional Louisiana style and comes in three different flavors: Spicy, Naked, and Garlic and butter. The restaurant is the latest from Milk Jam Creamery and WSK owner Sameh Wadi from Minneapolis.

This is definitely a restaurant for seafood and meat lovers. There are a few vegetarian options including grilled cheese and cheesy fries but besides that, not too much. The food is fresh, simple and reasonably priced. All things that traditionalist St. Paul locals love. As an ode to Milk Jam, three milk soft serve ice cream and vegan lycee ice cream are all fixings at the Grand Catch. A small or half portion isn’t really an option at this restaurant where bigger and greasier seems to mean better and tastier. Again, the menu is basic and definitely centers on one cuisine.

Walking in, there was the distinct vibe that this is the kind of place where Instagram addicts and seafood fanatics can find joy. The outside is pretty red and blue but the interior is a more muted black and gray. Neon lights flicker in various corners of the restaurant and the servers seem to already be experts in quick and efficient service. Let’s just say this isn’t the type of place where you can expect to have a 15 minute long chat with the server about life. Come here with friends or come here with a date, but family may not be the best option for the traditional meal. This kind of spot is bringing the Minneapolis food game to St. Paul with a twist and the locals who are tired of the Highland Grill and French Meadow are all over it.

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Battle of the Cookie: Avocado or Butter?

The avocado has separated from its native guacamole lair and found a new home in desserts. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding whether this nubby green fruit should be mixed with heaps of chocolate and sugar. Breandan Gibbons, Director of Rubicon TV, used the classic nestle tollhouse recipe and made both regular cookies and cookies with avocado. The RubicOnline staff served as the judges of the competition and voted 16 votes of 24 total votes in favor of one of the cookies. Watch Breandan’s youtube video below to see the process and the winning cookie.

Want to try it for yourself? Here’s the recipe.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened or 1 cup of mashed avocado
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts

INSTRUCTIONS

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars.

SLICE AND BAKE COOKIE VARIATION:
PREPARE
 dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks.

Recipe: Ginger Green Smoothie

It’s April. Winter is (hopefully) coming to an end and the sun is coming. I’m not so much of an ice cream person as a smoothie person. In May and Summer they keep me feeling fresh and fruity. Okay, that sounded weird but honestly, smoothies are amazing and help deliver a bunch of nutrients to our bodies really quickly. Greens smoothies don’t have the best rep, especially among high schoolers, but this one is delicious. The recipe is slightly modified from a website called Nutrition Stripped.

CREAMY GINGER GREEN SMOOTHIE

A thick, creamy, light and refreshing ginger green smoothie with avocado and banana. It’s absolute nourishing perfection and so deliciously simple to make! I love this smoothie for breakfast, a snack, or even with a meal for a boost of those greens for added nutrition.

 

This is also an excellent way to sneak in some serious greens for my friends who are adverse to green smoothies or are looking for a kid-friendly smoothie. Plus, the squeeze of lemon juice and added ginger will help with digestion, and all those healthy fats from the avocado will keep you full, your hormones balanced, and your skin glowing

THE RECIPE

Directions:

Simply add all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until thick and creamy.

You may add ice if you’d like to chill further or thicken slightly.

Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 handfuls organic spinach

1 cup filtered water

1/2 avocado 

1 medium banana

1 tablespoon tahini

dates, pitted

1 tablespoon fresh ginger root, chopped (adjust to your taste)

juice of 1 Meyer lemon

Make Pi for 3.14159265 day

March 14th is national Pi day and for many Upper Schoolers, we had to memorize a minimum of 25 digits of Pi and eat lots of Pi as a math class requirement. There is no Pi day in the Upper School but that doesn’t mean that it still can’t be celebrated.

Strawberries are at their peak during March, April, and May; this is a great time to start baking with the bright red fruit again. While spring isn’t best for blueberries, they can still be found at most common grocery stores  in good quality. This recipe for Strawberry Blueberry pie does not require much preparation and can easily be made on a weekend afternoon.

 

Ingredients
  1. 1 single pie crust, store bought or homemade
  2. 2 1/2 cups strawberries, quartered
  3. 2 1/2 cups blueberries
  4. ½ cup granulated sugar
  5. ¼ cup cornstarch
  6. 1 egg
  7. 1 tbsp water
  8. raw sugar for sprinkling on the crust
  9. all purpose flour for dusting
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 475 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper. Lightly flour the parchment paper, then roll out pie crush to loosely form a circle shape. I rolled mined into a 12 inch circle. Set aside.
  3. Cut up the strawberries. Place the cut strawberries and whole blueberries into a bowl, and mix it with the sugar and cornstarch and let rest for 5 minutes.
  4. Gently pile the fruit mixture onto the center of the pastry. Fold the edges of the pastry over to cover the outer edge of the fruit pile. Overlap as needed.
  5. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg and 1 tbsp of water. Then, using this mixture, brush the pastry. Sprinkle raw sugar on to the pastry for a nice crunch.
  6. Place the pie into the oven, then immediately TURN DOWN the heat to 375 degrees.
  7. Bake for 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.
  8. Let your pie sit for about 10 minutes before serving. Serve slightly warm with ice cream or whipping cream!

Read more at http://www.thecasualcraftlete.com/2015/06/11/rustic-strawberry-blueberry-pie/#ufZeVMAltfm6frFw.99

Brunch a Bunch: The Coolest Spots

Hai Hai: A Southeast Asian street food restaurant, and former Strip Club “Deuce Deuce”, has been all the talk of the Twin Cities brunchers and the James Beard Foundation paid food critics. Most entrees range from 10-15 dollars which isn’t super expensive but for a broke high school student it can be a lot even if the food is top notch. Hai Hai was just selected as one of Eater’s most beautiful restaurants. They’re always celebrating something at Hai Hai (besides the amazing food) and this week the owners have hidden gift cards around the store for Chinese New Year!

Al’s Pancakes: Lines are always expected at this cheap eats and breakfast food ground zero. It’s technically a restaurant but Hai Hai could just as well be considered a pancake bar because of it’s small size and jaw dropping (although the jaw closes quick to chew) pancakes. A short stack of pancakes rings in under $4.00 and flavors include Blueberry and Walnut. Make sure to get to Al’s early and come with a friend. It’s a Minneapolis experience.

Cook St. Paul: St. Paul never knew I needed a Korean fusion brunch restaurant until Cook St. Paul in the Payne/Phalen neighborhood came along. It would be an understatement to say that Mung bean Pancakes, Kimchi Mac and Cheese, and gochu fruit are rarities in the twin cities dining scene. But doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate this little establishment. Cook. St Paul has pictures and paintings on the walls that bring light to protest movements and hope for the future. This is a kinda place where literally everything is amazing and you’ve just got to look to look past your hesitation and walk right in.

Hazel’s: This little vintage diner in Northeast Minneapolis has been long known by the locals but has now been boosted into the dining scene along with other neighboring restaurants. Waffles and eggs are the foods to get at this mainstay. The lines still aren’t too bad but get in to Hazel’s before its too late because it won’t be a secret much longer. Most items are around $10 but their huge sizes makes it okay to share.

 

Need a little spring in your snowy day? Make pineapple upside-down cake

Guest Recipe: Kathryn Campbell, Dir. of Publications

 

It’s easy to think of fruity desserts for summer, but harder when the fruit may not be as flavorful during these winter months. A good solution? Fruit desserts that use preserved fruit. Here’s one of my quick and easy favorites that provides a little tropical escape.

 

You’ll need

  • Can of pineapple rings (save the pineapple juice)
  • Jar of maraschino cherries
  • ¼ cup Butter or margarine
  • ⅔ cup light brown sugar
  • Yellow cake mix

 

Preheat the oven to the temperature recommended on your cake mix. This is probably 350 degrees.  Put the butter in a 9×13 pan, and let it melt in the preheated oven. While it’s melting, make the cake mix as directed, substituting the pineapple juice for water.

 

Take the melted butter out of the oven and sprinkle the brown sugar over it. Then, set the pineapple in a grid pattern that completely covers the pan. Place cherries in the holes and gaps between the rings. Then, pour the batter over the top and put back into the oven, letting it cook until a toothpick placed in the center comes out clean.

 

Remove immediately from the oven and flip the pan over onto a heat-safe plate. Let cool.

 

My tip for an extra delicious dessert? Serve the cake with a scoop of ice cream and one or two leftover cherries.

 

Recipe: NYT PB Blossom Cookies

Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies are one of the staples of a holiday cookie jar. They are some of the fastest, easiest cookies to make and require ingredients that most people already have at this time of year. An efficient preparation process should only take at most fifteen minutes and the baking time takes less than ten minutes. This recipe by the New York Times has only garnered five star ratings from people who made the recipe. For those that want a bit more Peanut Butter, change the half cup measurement to three quarters and cut the flour by a fourth cup. The hershey kisses can be substituted with mini peanut butter cups, chocolate chips, or m & ms.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup smooth peanut butter
  • ½ cup granulated sugar, more for rolling
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  •  Nonstick spray or vegetable oil for cookie sheet, optional
  • 5 dozen (one 11-ounce package) Hershey’s Kisses, foil removed

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  1. Sift together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. Using an electric mixer, cream together butter, peanut butter, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and light brown sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat until well blended. Gradually add flour mixture, mixing thoroughly. If the dough is very soft, refrigerate for about 1 hour.
  2. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray  a cookie sheet with nonstick liner and set aside. Roll dough into 1-inch balls. (For a precise number of cookies, divide the dough into 5 pieces, and shape each piece into 12 balls.)
  3. Roll cookies in sugar and place 2 inches apart on cookie sheet. Bake until very light brown and puffed, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove sheet from oven and lightly press a candy kiss into center of each cookie, allowing it to crack slightly. Return to oven until light golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from oven, cool completely and store in an airtight container.

 

 

BMI is a poor indicator of health

Most people have been through the routine doctors visit where they take a patients weight, height, and blood pressure. In a matter of minutes the doctors can tell whether a patient is healthy or not. However three points of quantitative data is not, or should not, be enough to tell whether a patient is healthy or not. There are many more factors that play both into the reasons for weight, height, and blood pressure and many other factors that determine health.

Suicide is currently the highest leading causes for young adults ages 12-17 and is not something that can easily be found with height and weight. Most teenagers meet with a primary care doctor twice a year for an annual physical. These physicals often don’t last very long with many patients out of the doctors office in twenty minutes or less.

A lot can happen to a teenagers life in a half a year. While BMI may show the larger physical components of a someone’s body there is another part inside that should be taken just as seriously and also used in those routine check ups.

The use of BMI in doctors offices as well as in case studies can cause teenagers to compare themselves with in a ‘who’s healthier’ contest. Teenagers that might not fit into the social media and case study established ‘healthy BMI’ range can become subject to eating disorders, depression, and other forms of mental illness. Teenagers then go back to the doctors office, get told their BMI, and then sent off again. The doctors once again confirm that the most important aspect of their bi annual check up is their BMI. A never ending cycle is created and sustained where patients are told one type of person is healthy and that everyone else needs to be different because they are out of the normal range.

Doctors should spend at least a half an hour with patients going over both their mental and physical health conditions. This amount of time should not include the long waiting periods that patients endure at the office. Teenagers are still developing and at the midst of a time where they are constantly put under pressure and told by society that they are not good enough. Every young person is good enough and their health should not be decided by a couple of numbers. Doctors, case studies, and the internet need to treat our youth better as they will soon become the example for younger generations and the face of our society.

Recipe: Coconut macaroons

The fall and upcoming winter seasons seem full of pumpkin and apple flavoured things and while I’ll go for an apple pie anyday, it can be good to switch it up.

A very important distinction that needs to be made before I continue with the recipe is the difference between a macaron and a macaroon. A macaron is an airy French cookie that gets its texture from egg whites and almond flour. A macaroon, which is what I made, is a southern dessert made from condensed milk and heaps of coconut. French macarons take absolutely forever to make but macaroons take 45 minutes at the most. It literally involves four steps and then putting it into the oven.

So as a partial rebellion against the fall desserts of the moment here is a classic macaroon recipe.

Step 1: Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 2: Pour a 14 ounce bag of coconut into a medium size bowl and then pour the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla on top and mix.

Many bakers use the entire can of condensed milk for their macaroons however I thought it tasted better when I didn’t do that and it made it easier to form the balls.

Step 3: In an electric mixer, add the egg whites and salt and beat at a high rate until stiff peaks form.

In my opinion, stiff peaks are not the best word to call the egg white and salt mixture because it is a foam but oh well.

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Step 4: Pour the “stiff peak” mixture into the coconut bowl and gently fold the ingredients together. Make sure not to mix it like normal ingredients or else the necessary fluffiness from the egg whites will be lost.

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Step 5: Form heaping tablespoon sized balls of dough and place onto a cookie sheet with parchment paper on top. Two regular sized spoons can be really helpful in doing this.

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Step 6: Bake the macaroons in the oven for 23 minutes or until the edges are dark brown and the top is slightly golden. The reason I suggest such an exact baking time is that the sides and tops of the macaroons burn really quickly and so it’s smart to set the timer for too little time and then add more if needed.

Step 7: Allow the macaroons to cool and if desired, dip the bottoms into a bowl of melted chocolate and then place back onto the parchment paper. Let macaroons cool in the fridge for 15 minutes and then serve.

 

Wanna be hip? Try Penny’s

 

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Winter is coming and that means a hip cafe is needed to crash at.

One word.

Penny’s.

This uber cool coffee shop in the north loop may be a little out of reach for some, but trust me the nutella banana crepes and silky smooth lattes are worth the drive. This isn’t your ordinary Caribou or Spyhouse coffee that takes forever to find a table.

Penny’s is housed in a marble and wood space that screams comfort, but almost seems too cool for a simple homework session. The window seating looks out onto Washington avenue and while it doesn’t provide the most space to splay out your books, it’s perfect for catching up with friends or doing some reading. There are large tables set up around the barista station that make the inevitable group projects and test reviews 100x more bearable. It’s interior sets the stage for a perfect Instagram post made up of natural lighting and polished wood finishing with lovely plants. 

There seems to be no wrong order at Penny’s, but ordering a crepe, whether savory or sweet, is a must. The savory crepes are served with a side salad and the sweet ones with whipped cream. A latte is basic, but it’s what the cashier said they did best and wow it was amazing. All hot drinks are served with a chocolate covered cracker and warm you up from the inside out on those bone chilling winter days.

Penny’s is more of a weekend adventure, especially for those that don’t live near downtown Minneapolis but the suave bearded baristas, too cool for school interior, and delicious food make it a can’t miss stop this winter.