I started a summer bucket list so that I could keep track of all the fun things I want to do over the next couple months. Summers go by so fast and with a curious toddler, I want to be sure I expose her to many fun experiences.

A couple years ago, I read an article in Midwest Magazine about Pizza Farms. There were a bunch profiled all within a couple hours of where I live in Minnesota. Seriously, a pizza farm? It sounded like something out of a really good dream. And the images were amazing, too. No doubt, I had to go. And luckily my sister and her husband planned a date and we made a day of it, stopping at a winery on the way. It was a perfect day that ended with amazing wood-fire pizza. And Juliet was just 4 months at the time and a little ball of baby sweetness. She slept the whole way there and back and was happily alert the rest of the day.

Because of that outing, going to a pizza farm will be ever-present on my summer bucket list moving forward.
My baby turned into a big girl overnight. But she will always be my baby. 

A couple weekends ago my family (Erik, Juliet, me, my sister, her husband, my brother, mom and dad) ventured out to the Two Pony Gardens Pizza Night. The evening was dreamy and wonderful and amazing and all things good and lovely in the world all rolled up into one awesome experience.

The weather was perfect, the pizza was delicious. My little girl was happy and toddling around…all in a garden setting with stone ovens and a beautiful house and two clydesdale horses. Seriously. Beautiful clydesdale horses.

If you live in the Twin Cities you must go to this pizza event. It is so family-friendly and affordable. You can bring in your own booze and coolers with food (appetizers, desserts, etc). The only thing to purchase is the pizza ($18 per pizza and one serves 1-2 people). You bring all your own plates, silverware, glasses and are in charge of bringing your own garbage bags to clean up and bring home.

The venue has a couple picnic tables but most people bring blankets and just spread out on the lawn.  Later in the evening, pretty outdoor light sparkle on tree branches.
I made a simple tomato bruschetta and used a mason jar to transport. Functional and cute. We gobbled up the bruschetta on top of wheat french bread.

Tomato bruschetta

Ingredients

2-3 ripe tomatoes (locally grown are best and available in the summer months), chopped
1-2 clove garlic, minced 
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Baguette, bread or crackers

Preparation

Combine tomatoes, garlic, basil, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil in a bowl.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  

Chill for 30 minutes to an hour.  

Top bread with tomato mixture and serve.
Margherita pizza on the left and a melon salsa with pancetta and sharp cheddar on the right. My favorite was the melon salsa pizza. Really good, one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had. Friendly cats and dogs roam around the gardens. The owners gave guests rides on a carriage/wagon pulled by these beautiful Clydesdale horses. My mom especially enjoyed this.

A perfect evening spent in a garden eating pizza; checked that off my summer bucket list.

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Today’s giveaway is for my lovely local (Minnesota) readers for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate to Bonfire on Grand Avenue. I wish I could win my own giveaway!

Bonfire on Grand is an awesome restaurant that holds many special memories. My honey and I had our first “real” date at Bonfire and I can clearly remember all the details about the night; the table we sat at next to the fireplace and how cute he looked in the blue sweater he was wearing. We also had our rehearsal dinner at Bonfire and more than I can count nights drinking martinis and listening to dueling pianos.

Bonfire serves American and Southwestern cuisine and has some great specials throughout the week including:

- 1/2 price bottles of select wine every Monday
- 1/2 price house margaritas every Wednesday
- 1/2 price on all appetizers and pizzas Sunday-Friday 3-5:30pm
- $2 off all drinks Monday-Thursday 3-6pm and 9-close, Fridays from 3-6pm.

To enter the giveaway for a $50 Bonfire gift certificate comment on this post on one of the following:

- A favorite Bonfire memory
- A food/drink menu item you love or want to try

Entries close at 11:59pm CT on Sunday, January 31st and I will announce the winner on Monday. Good luck!

{Photo credits: Bonfire on Grand}

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I recently had an awesome lunch with a couple of my fave coworkers at D’Amico Kitchen. D’Amico Kitchen is the recession-chic Italian restaurant that replaced Chambers in Minneapolis.

I love the decor of this place; light, airy, feminine, classy and a bit minimalist. What drew Diane, Amelia and I in for lunch last week was the 3 items for $10 lunch special. The menu includes a choice of three of the following:

Tomato soup
Caesar salad
Mixed green salad
Beet salad
Spicy fried calamari
Mushroom risotto
1/2 suckling pig panini
1/2 grilled asiago sandwich
1/2 meatball sandwich

Our food was absolutely fantastic.

Tomato soup, 1/2 meatball sandwich and the beet salad.

Tomato soup, spicy fried calamari and grilled asiago sandwich. The soup was velvety and delicious, with a perfect tangy flavor. The calamari was arguably the best I have ever had. It included fried capers, red peppers and parsley which gave it an awesome texture.
The lighting was just right in the restaurant to take some decent photos.

A pretty chandelier above the parmesan round.

The cool bar. I’d love to sit here drinking a glass of Prosecco after work.

I would definitely recommend D’Amico Kitchen to anyone looking for a quality lunch for a really good price.

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My sister and I went to Loto Life Cafe for happy hour on Saturday afternoon. After two visits, I like this place, but I really want to love it. The location is ideal, about 3 miles from my house, in Lowertown St. Paul (Loto is short for Lowertown). It’s owned by David Fhima, Twin Cities restaurteur (also owner to Zahtar in Minneapolis and no-longer-opened Fhima and Louis XIII). The decor is modern and simple with a touch of chic, the floor to ceiling windows have a gorgeous view of Mears park. The menu is casual; sandwiches, wraps and pizza. This place has all the right ingredients but still somehow falls a bit short.

I am a sucker for a good happy hour menu which led me to Loto in the first place. Their happy hour menu is a nice blend of drink specials and lower-priced appetizers. The downside is that during the week happy hour is from 2pm – 5pm. I’m not sure about you but most people I know work until 5pm. The upside is that they extend happy hour throughout the weekend (pretty much all day Sunday).

During happy hour they have a $5.50 daily pizza. The one shown below is pepperoni and mushroom. It was solid, oozing with cheese, just enough sauce and a nice crunch in the thin crust. We also ordered risotto croquettes, they were alright but needed more cheese. Overall, I would say the food is decent, but not great.

If you live anywhere near St. Paul, Loto is worth the trip but don’t have super high expectations. If you do check it out and let me know what you think.

{Photo credit: Loto Life Cafe}

Note, I know the photos I take myself are complete crap. I have a 3 year old digital camera that is pretty worthless and admittedly, I know nothing about photography. One goal I have for 2010 is to purchase a new, nice camera that as long as I point and shoot, will take a decent food photo. Anyone have any suggestions?
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I’ve been to Black Sheep Cafe two weekends in a row because I am a coffee fiend, love breakfast food and enjoy spending lazy mornings at cafes. My mom, sister, aunt and sister-in-law had a “ladies morning” and met for coffee on Sunday.

Unfortunately, Black Sheep was out of quiche (get there early, they only served it on the weekend mornings!) but did create some beautiful latte art for us to enjoy.

Check out the lattes my mom and I ordered below, how cool is that?! Click here for the post on Black Sheep from a few days ago.


The huge cupcake my mom had for breakfast. Yum!
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One thing I really love about living in South Saint Paul is Black Sheep Cafe. Black Sheep Cafe embodies all things that make a wonderful coffee shop; amazing food, great coffee, a relaxing and well-designed space and live music.

I go to Black Sheep as often as I can. It’s the kind of place you can hang out in all day long; all you need is a cup of coffee, a slice of quiche and a seat by the window.

It doesn’t get much better than meeting up at Black Sheep with my lovely sister, sipping coffee and tea and spending the morning together, which is exactly what we did last Saturday.


This quiche is so amazing and only $3.50 a slice. I’ve made quiche a few times and it has never tasted like this. It is light, fluffly, creamy and so delicious.

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