Remember how I talked about a busy couple of months? Yeah, they’re here, and so far it’s been a bushel-load of fun. It started with the weekend in Madison, then the in-laws’ visit, and most recently a trip to the hustle and bustle of Rochester, Minnesota. You may wonder, besides the Mayo Clinic, what in tarnation is in Rochester? I’ll tell you. Two of my favorite people, that’s what (or rather, who).
So yes, we visited Cheryl & Luke this weekend. We started a trend once she left me in Chicago and moved to Minnesota: we both visit each other once a year (although this weekend we decided we will increase that because we are both so awesome). She spends Thanksgiving with us (and Luke too, for the last 2 years. Before that she brought some weird Indian guy. He was nice, and made a mean Chai tea. She used to bring her parents too, but last time her dad committed a major party foul and he isn’t invited anymore – jk, of course. he’s the king of class!). We visit them in the summer. Last year, they also used us for our condo and attended the Chicago Boat Show in January. But that was a’ight, because it recently paid off and they scored an awesome sailboat that’s docked 40 minutes from their house.
Our trip to MN started in traffic, which is practically unavoidable on a Friday in Chicago. Seemed like we weren’t the only ones skippin’ out of work early. But three hours later we were in Wisconsin and rewarded ourselves with Culvers. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this burger mecca (if you are from the Midwest, then shame on you!!), it’s the “Home of the Butter Burger” and without a doubt, the best fast food burger joint on Earth. They have a new shake flavor every day to boot. We ordered, and moments later I’d scarfed down my double Butter Burger and we proceeded to purchase our Shake of the Day and hit the road. Already, I’d more than tripled my caloric needs for the day. Oh shux.
As is customary, Cheryl & Luke greeted us with (well first, big hugs) some super tasty Sangria. The next day we sailed along Lake Pepin – Luke may not be an Iron Man, but he can damn sure sail. I think we picked the windiest day of them all too, so he had his work cut out for him. We docked in the early evening and shared a bottle of Port (the bottle we bought in Napa) and Shiraz-Cab, then headed to dinner. I chuckled at our ability to walk into a restaurant at 8 and get a table for 4 on the lake. Remind me why I live in Chicago and not Minnesota? Anyway, I had a fried Walleye sandwich that was the size of my head. And awesome fried cheese curds. We then proceeded to ruin the night by stopping at Dairy Queen, which did us all in. Big mistake.
So yes, you should not be surprised to find that, after arriving home from our super duper fun journey to MN, I only had room in my belly for a salad. If you can believe it, we did not stop at Culver’s on the way home. Although in all honesty, my eyes lit up at every sign for one. Had I known the flavor of the day there may have been another ending to this story. I’ll have to start following them on twitter, and “tweeting” them… or whatever you call that.
Quinoa-Arugula Salad w/ Apricots & Pistachios
Adapted loosely from Cooking Light, June 1999; Serves 4
Quinoa is awesome. The first time I made it, it was nasty though b/c I overcooked it. Don’t do that because if cooked correctly, it is fantastic. Did I mention healthy? It’s loaded with protein and is light & fluffy, and slightly nutty when cooked. Use it in recipes instead of white rice or cous cous. Oh, and it’s gluten-free. For this recipe, play around and swap out whatever. The original recipe used romaine lettuce and green onions, but I liked the peppery-ness of the arugula.
2 c water
1 c uncooked quinoa, rinsed
4 c chopped baby arugula
1/3 c dried apricots (~10), halved
1/3 c golden raisins
1/3 c shelled dry-roasted pistachios
1/4 c diced red onion
1/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro
2 T chopped fresh basil
zest from 1 lime
juice from 1 lime
2 T mirin
1 T olive oil
3 T reserved water from quinoa
1/2 large jalapeno, minced (or 1 small)
salt & pepper
1/4 t g cumin
1/4 t g coriander
1/4 t sweet paprika
Cook quinoa in small saucepan (2:1 ratio), simmer uncovered for ~10 minutes. Remove, strain, and save 3 T water for vinaigrette.
Combine arugula, quinoa, and remaining salad ingredients in large bowl and set aside.
Combine all vinaigrette ingredients in small bowl and whisk. Pour over quinoa/salad mixture. Season to taste w/ s&p.