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Walking Dead Recipes – Daryl’s Marinated Chicken

February 27, 2018

This week for Walking Dead Recipes we’re doing Daryl’s Marinated Chicken. The idea is to create a recipe using things that are likely to be available after living in the zombie apocalypse for two years (about where we are in the show based on Judith’s age and not Maggie’s pregnancy). I assume chickens would be raised both for the eggs and the meat. Since it is Daryl, it should have been squirrel, but I’m not eating squirrel. The same will go for Enid’s Trutle. I’ll probably do a turtle dessert or something because while people do eat turtle soup I don’t know where I might procure a dead turtle.

You’re probably asking why I’m creating recipes around The Walking Dead? That’s an excellent question. Clearly I have too much time on my hands. I don’t know why, it seemed like a good idea last week so I’m gonna ride it out and see where it takes me. This year I decided I was going to ask myself – I Wonder What Would Happen If I…..? – more often and then follow through. That’s why I’m making Walking Dead recipes. 

For this Walking Dead recipe – Daryl’s Marinated Chicken, I tried several different oil and vinegar combinations with chicken breasts. Olive oil has a shelf life of anywhere from a few months to several years depending on how it was packaged and stored (there are other factors based on the type of olive, the harvest, etc). A good olive oil that has been packaged and stored properly (in a cool dark place) can last for several years so if you store your olive oil by the stove go and move it now to a cool, dark place. Vinegars can last forever, doesn’t really matter how you store them.

For this recipe I’m using Vom Fass oils and vinegars. If you’re in the Twin Cities and go to the Mall of America, there’s a nice little coupon code at the end of the post for $5 off $40. 

I used the following combinations of oil and vinegar, and used a 1:1 ratio of oil to vinegar.

Star Honey Balsamic Vinegar / Jalapeno Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EVOO)

Star Date Balsamic Vinegar / Basil EVOO

Ginger Grape Balsamic with Lemon / Sesame Cooking Oil

Herb Vinegar / Garlic EVOO

I would normally cook chicken breasts on the grill, but this is what my grill looks like at the moment. Instead I seared the chicken in a non-stick pan and then finished in the oven until the chicken reached an internal temperature of 165°. I use the OXO Good Grips Chef’s Precision Analog Instant Read Meat Thermometer, it’s easy to read and easy to clean. Yes, that’s an affiliate link. If you click on it and buy something I might make a few cents.

I never used to use a meat thermometer. Mostly because one of the kids had run off with it and tried to take the dog’s temperature. Now that I make wine and do a fair amount of canning, I want to know what temp things are at so I know how long to expect the fermentation process to take. And let’s face it, during a zombie apocalypse, you want to know you’ve killed any bacteria that might be in your meat.

Of the four different combinations I tried, my favorite is the Star Honey Balsamic Vinegar / Jalapeno Extra Virgin Olive Oil combination. There’s only a hint of heat from the jalapeno and the balsamic is to-die-for. I bought a small bottle, way too small, I can see putting this vinegar on everything from meat (it would have been wonderful to just drizzle some on top) to plain yogurt or vanilla ice cream. Seriously, it is that delicious. 

If you have any ideas for Walking Dead recipes you’d like to see, drop a comment below.


If you’re in the Twin Cities and are interested in trying this amazing vinegar, you can get a nice discount at the Mall of America shop (located on the third level next to Carlo’s Bakery near the food court). For a $5 off $40 coupon just give them the code JB. It’s good until March 15th. Check out their Facebook page for delicious recipes.

Print Recipe
Walking Dead Recipes - Daryl's Marinated Chicken
  1. Place chicken in zip loc bag and add oil and vinegar. Seal bag and massage chicken to distribute oil and vinegar evenly. Store in fridge for an hour to overnight. I let them marinate overnight.
  2. After marinating cook chicken in prepared pan to give a nice sear and then finish in a 350°F oven. About 20 minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temp of 165°F. Let the meat rest for at least 5 minutes and then slice and enjoy!
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Walking Dead Recipes – Carol’s Casserole

February 25, 2018
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole

I’m starting a new feature called Walking Dead Recipes. This week’s Walking Dead Recipe is Carol’s Casserole. 

Casseroles, or hot dish as we call them in Minnesota, are the perfect dish for those living in the zombie apocalypse. They’re usually made with whatever happens to be on hand and often utilizing canned ingredients that might be about to expire. 

Walking Dead Recipes – Carol’s Casserole

Carol Peletier often talked about creating tasty meals for Ed when she cleaned out the pantry. 

I make a mean Tater Tot Hot Dish, and this is a variation of that dish but without the Tater Tots. The way I figure it, no one is going to have edible Tater Tot’s available a couple of years into the zombie apocalypse. All frozen foods would be spoiled within days of the power going out. 

Chow mein noodles would be available, however. They might be a little stale, but still perfectly good two years after the power went out.

In the event of a zombie apocalypse, there’d probably be an abundance of canned lima beans. I don’t have any so did not put them in this recipe. I don’t have any because I don’t like them. No one does and yet they produce millions of cans of these things. If lima beans are your thing, by all means, add them in.

I did use Vom Fass Star Honey Balsamic Vinegar in this dish to add a little flavor to the dish. Vinegar has a long shelf life and thus would still be good in the event of an apocalypse. Vinegar is a miracle ingredient and while it’s not an ingredient you’d think to add to a savory casserole, it’s delicious and really pulls all the ingredients together.


If you’re in the Twin Cities and are interested in trying this amazing vinegar, you can get a nice discount at the Mall of America shop (located on the third level next to Carlo’s Bakery near the food court). For a $5 off $40 coupon just give them the code JB. It’s good until March 15th. Check out their Facebook page for delicious recipes.

Like most casseroles, the ingredients are dictated by what’s available. Usually canned veggies and some kind of ground meet. This recipe could be made with ground turkey or ground chicken and would still be delicious. 

Walking Dead Recipes – Daryl’s Marinated Chicken


Print Recipe
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
  1. Brown the ground beef with the chopped onion and garlic, drain the grease and return pan to burner.
  2. In another pan mix the mushroom soup with the corn and green beans. Add mixture to the ground beef and fold in until incorporated.
  3. Pour mixture into casserole dish and bake, covered, in a 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Remove from oven, remove cover and sprinkle chow mein noodles on top of the casserole. Return to oven and continue baking another 15 - 20 minutes until bubbling and golden.
    Walking Dead Recipes - Carol's Casserole
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Did The Walking Dead Jump the Shark?

February 25, 2018

If you’re a fan of The Walking Dead, you might wonder did The Walking Dead Jump the Shark with it’s recent plot twist?

***Spoiler Alert***

If you haven’t seen the mid season finale from December 2017 of the Walking Dead (Season 8, Episode 8), you’ll want to see that before reading on as I will be talking about one major spoiler.

Okay, if you’re still reading, then you know that it was revealed that Carl was bit by a walker. There have been theories that he was bitten by a Whisperer (apparently they are humans that dress like walkers), but Scott Gimple, the show runner dashed that theory and said that Carl’s story is coming to an end. He will succumb to the bite.

If you’re a fan of the show, you also know that Carl is still very much alive in the comics. Of course, the show has diverged from the comics multiple times – Carol dies in the comics while Sophia lives on, Daryl doesn’t exist in the comics and Andrea is still alive and shacking up with Rick. Those are just some of the differences between the comics and the show, so it’s not unheard of for the show to stray from the comics.

Did The Walking Dead Jump the Shark?

Jump the Shark is in reference to Happy Days when Fonzie jumped the shark. It was a ratings ploy, an over played one at that, and the show was never the same. It puttered on for a couple more years, but that was the turning point for the show. The term has been applied to any great show that has declined in quality following a gimmick used for ratings. 

One could argue that the great Glenn under the dumpster fakeout death scene was when The Walking Dead jumped the shark, and I might agree.

Carl was an annoying character in the early years – spoiled, impolite, even outright rude at times. He grew up and stopped being as annoying. However, he grew up faster than the was supposed to. Time passes much more slowly in the land of The Walking Dead, and Chandler Riggs grew up too fast. His character is only supposed to be 12 or 13 now, not almost 20. 

Carl’s relationship with Negan is an important part of the storyline in the comics. I was looking forward to seeing how that played out. It may not have been a believable storyline with an adult Carl. Carl, as an adult who watched Negan kill Glenn and Abraham, wouldn’t be inclined to have a relationship with him, he’d simply do all he could to kill him so his people could lead a better life.

Carl was turning into a leader, and that was fascinating. Watching how the children who survived the initial apocalypse would have been an interesting arc as far as I am concerned. Of course, I’ve always been more interested in how they rebuild, now in how they wage war. 

I believe the death of Carl is a mistake. Sure, it frees the show to explore avenues out of the realm due to to the comics, but Carl remained the hope of the show, along with his sister Judith. We want them to reach adulthood.

For now, I’ll keep watching, I think there is still life in the show, and maybe the shakeup of show runners will change the trajectory of the show, but I’m not convinced The Walking Dead hasn’t jumped the shark. 

Join my Facebook group Talking the Walking Dead where we discuss the show live.


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Black Panther Review

February 19, 2018

This would be my official Black Panther review, but I have not seen the movie yet. Not because I was holding off on seeing it as suggested by Aliza Worthington in a recent Medium post – “Black Panther” Is Not For Us, White People – but because I went to the wrong theater.

I really want to see it, but I don’t usually go to the movies on a Tuesday evening when school is in session. Hell, even during the summer we don’t go to movies on Tuesdays. 

I’m not a huge comic book fan. I haven’t seen most of the movies about comic book heroes, so I am unfamiliar with most of the characters in these movies. Truth be told, I had no idea who Black Panther was before I saw the trailer for this movie a few months ago. 

My interested in the movie is because of Danai Gurira, who happens to play Okoye in Black Panther. Having not seen the movie I know nothing about her character except to assume she is badass.

I love Danai Gurira. Everything about her is amazing. Of course I know of her because of her portrayal of Michonne on The Walking Dead. As you all know, I am a huge fan of The Walking Dead – oh wait, that’s a comic book…. I guess to do follow some of them. Anyway, Michonne is one of the best characters on the show. She and Carol have been my favorites for some time. Danai Gurira brings to Michonne not only her kickass sword moves but she is also the calm within the storm. I don’t think we’ve even come close to learning about the character but you can be sure that Danai Gurira will bring the story to life.

Danai Gurira portrays Michonne as a force of nature, and I suspect she brings the same life to Okoye, though there isn’t much info about the character available as I write this.

We left the house early, but as stated above, went to the wrong theater. By the time I figured out my mistake it was too late, we’d never make the trek across town in time to see the movie. I didn’t want to miss the first half hour so I said forget it and we grabbed a bite to eat instead.

I stumbled across the article mentioned above while we were having dinner. My first reaction was one of sever eye rolling. Who is this white woman who speaks for all the black people? Did black people get together and vote for her to be spokesperson? How arrogant of this woman to presume she can speak for black people or tell white people, or any people for that matter, not to see a movie because it isn’t for them.

I suspect the director, actors and producers want all the people to go to this movie. I mean, isn’t that why they made it? As of this writing the movie is projected to have earned $201 million over the opening weekend. 

I’ll update this post when I have actually seen the movie, so be sure to check back. In the mean time, I’d love to hear your thoughts on it. Was it as good as it looks?

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Did This is Us Live Up to the Hype?

February 5, 2018
Did This is Us live up to the hype?

What do you think, did This is Us live up to the hype? Was it even possible to live up to all the hype that had been created for the beloved show? 

Before we go on, there are spoilers in this post. If you haven’t seen last night’s episode of This is Us, back out and read something else.

Okay, now that that’s out of the way…

This is Us aired immediately after the Super Bowl, which meant it aired close to 10pm CST. I don’t know about you, but that’s late for me. I want to watch the local news through the weather and then I’m in bed. 

I understand why NBC wanted to have the huge audience that was sure to tune in following the Super Bowl, but after watching the game all evening, I really wasn’t ready to focus on the show. In fact, it turns out I missed a lot of important details and ended up having to watch the episode again today.

Did This is Us Live Up to the Hype?

In this episode of This is Us, we finally witness the death of Jack, the beloved father to Randall, Kate and  Kevin and perfect husband to Rebecca. We’ve known for some time that Jack died in a fire, or as it turned out, the result of a fire. It was widely speculated that he would die because he rescued Kate’s dog. While it was not the direct cause, the act didn’t help any.

Jack dies from a heart attack brought on by all the smoke that did damage to his lungs which in turn put stress on his heart. 

Like all This is Us episodes, the story jumps around a timeline that takes place in several times in the past, the present, and now the future. I missed the future reference. I saw it, just didn’t put it together.

I have a love/hate relationship with This is Us, I love the story, I love seeing the underbelly of this nearly broken family, but I have issues with it. They may be unfounded as the story unfolds, but based on the info I have now, I have some problems with it.

All the kids are messed up – Randall has anxiety, Kevin is an addict and Kate has issues about her weight. All of things one would expect children who suffered trauma would experience. The problem is they lost their dad when they were 17. I’m not saying losing a parent at this age isn’t devastating, it is at any age. But 17 years with two parents who not only love the kids but love each other is a rare thing, no matter what timeline they’re in.

These kids had 17 years of being raised by a great dad and attentive and loving mother. Presumably, when they lost their dad, their lives went to shit. 

Except Kate already had issues with food, Randall already had anxiety and Kevin was already an asshole. 

Not that decent parents couldn’t have raised fucked up kids, it does happen, it just seems like the show is trying to lead us to believe the kids are messed up because their dad died (and their mom went on to marry his best friend, though I don’t know that we know when that happens).

All of them are beautifully broken, and yet they manage to lead successful and full lives. I get it, it’s TV. People live in homes that the regular person could never afford on their TV salaries, daycare is never an issue and the bills are always paid. I get it, I really do. 

I don’t think the show lived up to all the hype. Sure, it was sad, but I didn’t cry and I didn’t feel morally crushed. I was not heartbroken. Mostly, because I knew it was coming, and had for nearly two years. I was fairly well prepared for it.

With that in mind, I will say that it was an excellent episode. Mandy Moore did an excellent job portraying a woman who just had her life turn upside down but was unable to break. It simply wasn’t an option, she had to go on. I’m actually more interested in seeing how she copes than the kids for the moment. Yeah, I want to dig deeper into Kate’s disordered eating, but I want to know how Rebecca remains standing. Actually, I know, I’m just excited to see it portrayed in all it’s gritty glory.

Seeing Kevin and his mother reconnect was also satisfying. Kevin continues to be the third wheel when it comes to the kids, at least in relation to their mother, and that is a relationship I would like to explore. Kate has Toby, a man who seems to have it all and then some. He’s thoughtful, caring, loving and I bet he puts the seat down when he’s finished. Randall has Beth, a woman not unlike his mother who is strong as nails. She keeps him grounded and centered so when he falls, like Kate, he has someone to catch him. Kevin doesn’t really have anyone for that because he pushes everyone away, even his mother. Seeing them reach out to one another is refreshing.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow night’s episode if only to see how the grief is managed. I wasn’t satisfied with how Kate’s miscarriage played out, though I concede they probably aren’t finished dealing with that grief, just as Kate still hasn’t grieved the death of her dad.

So did This is Us live up to the hype? In my book no, but then there wasn’t a way it could. And if it had there’s no way the show could continue for much longer. It was an excellent episode that gave many of us a modicum of closure. 

And let’s not forget, Jack is still there. We’ll be seeing him in flashbacks, like we have for the last two years, going forward. Which is how it should be. As long as we have our memories, the people we love never leave us. 

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Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

February 5, 2018
Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

Now that it’s over, everyone can go home. Obviously, I have some thoughts on the Super Bowl and all the surrounding festivities and celebrations that took place in the Twin Cities metro area.

Some Thoughts on the Super Bowl

First and foremost, it was pretty awesome. The weather couldn’t have been better. Sure, it was cold and it snowed a few inches, but that’s what we do here and visitors can say they endured a true Minnesotan Winter. Make no mistake, it could have been a lot colder.

The cities involved – Minneapolis, St. Paul, Bloomington and all the other places – put on a great show.

I didn’t go downtown Minneapolis – mostly because of parking, and all the people, and because I don’t care, but if I were into sports it would have been fun. It looked like there was a lot of stuff to do if you are into sports.

I didn’t go to downtown St. Paul either but that’s because I’ve seen it – a lot – and have been to the Winter Carnival many, many times. And, because it was cold. Still, I did watch the news and it all looked awesome. Bravo too whoever was in charge of that, you did a great job.

I did go to the MOA and that is a well oiled machine. I go there most mornings to get my steps in during the winter months so I watched the transformation from mall to media outlet. In just a couple of weeks the mall was completely transformed into a sports venue of sorts, and that’s following the holiday season which was also a major transformation. Today, only hours after the Eagles won the Super Bowl, the Mall of America had mostly returned to being a mall.

The fans were pretty cool. Out of town fans were pretty easy to spot, they were the ones wearing hats, mittens and several layers of coats and vests. All of them had new Sorrel boots. Everyone seemed to behave themselves. The Eagles didn’t trash Minneapolis, though they trashed their own town which is interesting… 

The celebrities were pretty cool too. Except for Justin Timberlake. Don’t get me wrong, he’s cool enough even though he projected a huge image of Prince onto a sheet at his half time show. It was close enough to being a hologram so…. I couldn’t hear most of the songs he sang during his show, but then I don’t know them anyway.

It was an okay show, certainly not the worst, but it didn’t hold a candle to the performance Prince put on in 2007. And that isn’t even where I take issue with JT. No, I’m irritated that he went to my Target on Friday and signed a bunch of his albums and then told fans the secret code to get them. That was fine, it’s that he didn’t actually go to my Target on Friday, he went on Monday and it was all staged. I know they do that, I just thought he was different. 

I didn’t get to have Jimmy Fallon over for dinner, he ended up going to some home in Champlin. I suspect it was because he didn’t get Minnesota Nice or because I goofed and said he was from California instead of New York. I have no idea how I made that mistake, I watch the show every night and it says it in the intro. 

All in all, it was a pretty positive experience. Of course, I live in St. Paul so my life wasn’t impacted that much by the festivities. I’m glad we got to show the football fans and the teams a good time and what a real winter is like and I hope many will return to spend more time here and enjoy all that this state has to offer. However, for now, everyone can just go on home. 

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An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

February 1, 2018
Tater Tot Hot Dish

So apparently Jimmy Fallon is inviting himself to dine with some Minnesotans while he’s here for his live Tonight Show following the Super Bowl. He’s not from here so he wouldn’t know that we don’t just invite ourselves over to someone’s house for dinner. In fact, we have to be invited a minimum of three times before we can accept anything. 

However, this is a special occasion and all so it’s probably okay to overlook this faux pas. 

The daughter and I were watching the news last night when we heard about this. Her immediate response was “why would he want to come here for dinner?”.

Which is a typical Minnesotan thing to say.

With that in mind, I decided to send Jimmy Fallon an invitation to dinner at our house. Of course in Minnesota dinner takes place at noon and lasts until late evening – with half of that taking place at the door trying to say goodbye. 

I did not link to my recipe for tater tot hot dish in the email but am here for those of you who want to know what hot dish is all about. 

I’m a little worried the folks in California won’t understand Minnesota Nice. 

I do have a signature in my email, linking to this blog, and I’m hoping I don’t end up in junk mail. So if you wouldn’t mind tweeting this post to Jimmy, that would be greatly appreciated, unless you have something better to do of course.

Here’s his Twitter @jimmyfallon

An Invitation to Dinner for Jimmy Fallon

Hi Jimmy,


I heard you were looking to invite yourself to a Minnesotan’s house for dinner while you were here for the Super Bowl. I guess you do that sort of thing in California. My daughter doesn’t think you’d want to come to our house because we live way over in St. Paul and nobody in Minneapolis ever comes over here but I told her you put your pants on just like everyone else and why wouldn’t you want to come for dinner?


So yeah, we’d love to have you come for dinner. It’s a little short notice and all, but it’s no trouble.


You said you wanted to try out the local cuisine – whatever that is – but I can pull a Tater Tot Hot Dish out of the basement freezer for you. You said you don’t want a salad, and that’s fine. I’ll still have one for you if you want to try it. I made a lovely Lime Jello Salad, you’ll love it. I can make some bars too, I know I have a box of Betty Crocker somewhere.


I’ve been told I make a fair Tater Tot Hot Dish. It’s not as fancy as Margie’s down the street, but that’s because she uses both peas and beans in hers. That’s too much green for me. I prefer peas and corn. Margie also puts that paprika on top of hers, but she’s originally from Wisconsin so what do you expect?


Don’t tell Margie I said that about her hot dish, we still have to work together at the Booya this summer and it would be awkward if she knew how I really felt.


When would you like to come over? Anytime is good for us, but we got bingo down at the casino on Friday night so we’d have to wrap up supper at about 5:30. Will that work for you? Otherwise we could do dinner on Saturday or Sunday. That’s noon in case you don’t do dinners out in California.


Sunday would be nice, we could watch the game. I mean it’s not like the Vikes were gonna win if they got in anyway.


Will you be bringing your friend Justin? It’s no trouble if you do, I’ll just have to get my son Alex to come over and get a folding chair out from the garage. It’s really no trouble at all, just let me know.


Are you allergic to cats? If you are we’ll put the cats in a room. They don’t get along very well so if you know that cat whisperer maybe you could bring him along instead of your friend Justin? We could really use his help with these dang cats. You must know him right? He’s got all those things in his ears, so he must be from California.


Oh, my that was rude of me. You can bring both of them but let me know so I can have Alex get another chair from the garage. It’s really no bother.


Well I look forward to meeting you, even if it is on such short notice.


Jennifer Brown

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Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

January 29, 2018
Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

Wondering where to eat in the Twin Cities while visiting for the Super Bowl? You’re not alone. If you’re here for the sport thing, there are a million sports bars in Minneapolis, St. Paul and the surrounding suburbs that make up the Twin Cities. Sports bars with walls of TVs to catch all the pre-game excitement of Super Bowl LII. However, there’s more to dining than buffalo wings and jalapeño poppers.

Or in the words of our very own Prince:

…But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else….

If this is your first time to these Midwest cities you probably won’t know where to go to get a good meal at a decent price. And there are so many great places that you won’t hear about hanging with sports fans at the US Bank Stadium or the MOA (that’s what the locals call the Mall of America). 

Of course, you’ll need to cross the river for the ones I’m about to tell you about. Don’t get me wrong, there are some great places to eat in Minneapolis, I just can’t think of any I’d want to brave the crowds and traffic for. Come over to St. Paul, we have parking!

Where to Eat in the Twin Cities While Visiting for the Super Bowl

The Commodore

79 Wester Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55102


The Commodore Bar is where all the hep cats hang out. Originally where people like F. Scott Fitzgerald got their booze on during Prohibition when folks were forced to drink in the speakeasy located in the basement. The bar has been renovated several times in the last 100 years but always retains its stunning beauty and local charm. The food is excellent.  Nothing on the menu will disappoint and the wait staff is exceptional. If you want to step back in time and experience real glamour, check out the Commodore.

W. A. Frost

374 Selby Avenue

St. Paul, MN 55102


W. A. Frost is owned by the same folks as the Commodore so the prices are similar and the food offerings are similar American cuisine and of course, the service is stellar. The difference is the ambiance. Both are lovely, just have completely different vibes. Jeans are perfectly acceptable, but you wouldn’t stick out in a cocktail dress or suit either. W. A. Frost is just a short walk up Western Avenue from The Commodore. If you really want to fit in with the locals do some bar hopping in sub-zero temps. That’s what F. Scott did.

The Lexington

1096 Grand Avenue

St. Paul, MN



The Lexington is another former Speakeasy. Originally built in the thirties and remodeled just last year, it has long been a neighborhood place to be and be seen. Enjoy an Old Fashioned at the bar while waiting for your table. The food is supper club staples like popovers, Steak Diane, and their signature pot pie. Just want a little nibble before the big game, try their relish tray, it is to-die-for. 

Looking for something a little less glamorous? How about these fine establishments:

The Nook

492 Hamline Avenue S.

St. Paul, MN 55116


The Nook is another neighborhood bar. It’s family friendly and is famous for its Juicy Lucy – as featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives with Guy Feiri. It’s right across the street from where Joe Mauer and Paul Molitor went to school. If you aren’t too stuffed from the great burgers, head downstairs for a little bowling. It doesn’t get more Minnesotan than The Nook.

Groveland Tap

1834 St. Clair Avenue

St. Paul, MN



Another neighborhood joint to visit when you want a beer and a burger. Known for their onion rings and cheese curds you might feel like you’re in heaven or at the State Fair. Nope, just Mac/Groveland. Large beer selection and they’ve just added a decent wine selection.


2051 Ford Parkway

St. Paul, MN 55116


Another neighborhood bar where you’ll find plenty of great beer and good pub grub. Be warned, the folks at Tiffany’s are Packers fans… Not really sure what else there is to say.

As a Minnesotan, and mostly as a St. Paulite, I don’t venuture out of my comfort zone. I’ve been visiting these six establishments since before it was legal for me to drink. If you know of any that belong on this list, be sure to leave a link and possibly your review in the comment section.

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Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles

January 27, 2018

Earlier I posted a recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish, but because I was concerned about my use of Tater Tots in the recipe I also a Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles using elbow noodles instead of the tots. Initially I did not want to use noodles, it just seemed like a weird combination of flavors – pickles, cheese, tomatoes – to have with pasta. Still, I was concerned the tots might get soggy and I knew the pasta would come together better and probably look better on a plate. 

Turns out, both are super tasty and super easy. Here is the recipe for Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles.

Big Mac Hot Dish with Noodles


1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

Half a box elbow noodles cooked al dente and drained

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

10 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the elbow noodles according to the package so they are al dente. 

After dicing the pickles press them between several layers of paper towel to remove as much liquid as possible.

While the pasta is cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion, cook thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk.

The pasta will absorb the liquid so you’ll want this to be a little less thick.

Fold in the pasta and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F.


Serve and enjoy!

Dumb Shit I Do Food Minnesota Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Big Mac Hot Dish

January 27, 2018
Big Mac Hot Dish, Big Mac Casserole

If you’re looking for comfort food, this Big Mac Hot Dish is just the thing on a cold winter day. Seriously, it’s really tasty and super easy to make. 

I grew up on Tang and Pop Tarts, going to McDonald’s was a rare thing in my family and quite a treat when it did happen. The only reason to go to McDonald’s back then was the Big Mac. This was before McRib, Chicken Tenders, McNuggets, etc.

Back then – mid 70s – you had the choice of a hamburger, cheese burger and the brand new two all beef patties special sauce lettuce cheese pickles onions on a sesame seed bun – Big Mac. It was divine. 

Now that I’m older, more responsible and more health conscious, when I do go to McDonald’s I order a chicken sandwich and don’t eat the bun. It’s not nearly as much fun so I don’t go often.

Today, I was craving a Big Mac. Mostly I wanted the pickle bite with the special sauce, and cheese. I didn’t want to go to the Golden Arches because I’m really trying to use what I have in my fridge – creatively – so I figured I’d try a Big Mac Hot Dish.

It turned out wonderfully if I do say so myself. Actually I was surprised at how good it is. I didn’t want to make a casserole with pasta. I really wanted to keep it as close to a Big Mac as I could. The problem with that is it would basically be a Big Mac in the blender, and I didn’t want that. So, instead of the pasta I used Tater Tots and OMG it’s awesome.

After I made this I Googled to see if this was a thing. Apparently it is but it uses lettuce and crescent roll dough, and sesame seeds. So, technically this is not really a Big Mac because I left those things out and added the potato, however, I think this is a superior hot dish because it’s like having fries with it – which is the only way to have a Big Mac. 

This is the most retro casserole or hot dish you could imagine. It oozes the 70s and it is super!

Big Mac Hot Dish


1 lb ground beef

1 medium yellow onion – chopped

1 cup Tater Tots (I used the smaller crispy ones)

1/2 cup diced tomatoes – drained

1/2 cup diced pickles – drained

8 oz Velveeta – cubed for easy melting

1/2 cup milk or half and half

1/4 cup Thousand Island dressing

Putting it all together:

Cook the Tater Tots according the package. I wanted them crisp because I was fearful they might make the dish soggy. 

While the tots are cooking brown the ground beef with the chopped onion until cooked thoroughly and drain. Turn the burner down to medium and add the tomatoes and pickles, mix well.

Big Mac Casserole

A note about the pickles, I drained them and then pressed them between paper towels to take out as much of the liquid as possible. 

diced pickles

Slowly add the Velveeta and milk and stir while it melts. Add the Thousand Island dressing and mix well. If your mixture is too thick you can add more milk, but you don’t want it runny, it’s okay if it’s a little on the thick side.

Big Mac Casserole Recipe

Fold in the tots and place mixture in casserole dish and bake covered for 20 minutes at 350°F. Remove the cover for the last 10 minutes or so if you want it to brown up any exposed tots. 

Big Mac Hot Dish Recipe


Serve and enjoy.

I didn’t think to put a garnish on the dish, but some shredded lettuce sprinkled on top would probably work really nicely and make it more Big Mac ish. You could even put a few sesame seeds on top of the lettuce. I thought about putting some hash browns on top in a very thin layer – mostly for the crunch and color, but that seemed like overkill with the tots so I skipped it. Cheese didn’t seem right either. A little bacon might be good too, it’s just not my thing. 

Because I was concerned the tots might get soggy I also made a variation with elbow noodles instead of the tots. I added more cheese to this variation so it was more of a Big Mac & Cheese Hot Dish instead. I’ll post that recipe next. 

If you have any ideas for garnish or sides please let me know in the comments. 





Food Recipes Things I Really Like Winter

Baked Reuben Dip

January 21, 2018
Baked Reuben Dip

I’ve been making this Baked Reuben Dip for ever. I got the original recipe from my ex brother in law some 25 years ago. Originally the recipe called for sliced Buddig roast beef, and it was fine. However, I have found that using roast beef from the deli makes for a much better dip.

The original recipe, at least as I learned it, was for the Crock Pot, one of those mini ones. And again, it’s great, but it takes forever and keeping it warm for hours at a time makes a nasty mess. Baking it in the oven creates a better dip that is more appealing.

This is one of those recipes that has an awful lot of wiggle room. It has three main ingredients – cheese, meat and sauerkraut – in equal parts that can be adjusted based on how much you need. In my house my son wolfs it down before anyone else can get to it so I usually make a lot.

I’m using weight as a measurement but you can use volume too. This would translate to about a cup of each ingredient.

Baked Reuben Dip

Baked Reuben Dip

8 oz roast beef – sliced and chopped

8 oz Swiss cheese – grated

8 oz sauerkraut – drained and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup Thousand Island dressing

In a mixing bowl mix together all ingredients. Use more or less of the Thousand Island dressing depending on how “dippy” you want it to be. Place in oven safe casserole dish and bake in a 350°F oven for 35 minutes or until bubbly and beautiful.

Serve with Gardetto’s rye chips or those little pumpernickel breads you see in the bakery section of your grocery store. I prefer the rye chips because they’re the perfect size, but Ritz crackers or melba toast works well too. 

If you have any leftovers it can be used for making Reuben Balls or simple spread on a toasted baguette for a quick and simple Reuben sandwich.