Friday, October 21, 2011

Smashburger Hits the Twin Cities

If anyone knows me, they know I love a good burger. It isn't something I crave often, and it isn't something a dream about, but when I want a good burger, I want a good burger. And because I am somewhat of a burger snob it isn't something that I order out that often. I would much rather thoroughly pick my meats (80/20 lean/fat ratio), bun (soft egg bun), and toppings (bacon, blue cheese, mushrooms, and caramelized onions topping the list) and cook them to my specific liking, to ensure the perfect burger experience!

So when I received an invitation to attend the preview night for the new Smashburger in Highland Park (a St. Paul neighborhood) I thought about saying no. But, if anyone knows me, they know my significant other LUHVES burgers, any way you serve it, it will be eaten. And I would surely be shot for turning down such an opportunity. So I accepted, and off we went.


Smashburger is your basic fast casual restaurant with reasonable prices. Smashburger's namesake is their signature certified angus burgers that are "smashed" on the flat top grill. But they also offer a selection of chicken sandwiches, salads, a hand-crafted black bean burger (which can be substituted for any of their burgers), hot dogs, sides, and hand-spun Haagen-Dazs shakes, malts, and IBC Root Beer Floats.


You can order the burger patty in 3 different sizes (small smash, smash, or big smash), and pick from one of their already formulated burgers, or create-your-own. We chose the BBQ, Bacon, and Cheddar burger. Their signature Smashburger, bbq sauce, applewood smoked bacon, cheddar cheese, and haystack onions on an egg bun.


We also decided to get the burger that was specifically formulated for us, well not us, as in me, but us as in Twin Citians. The Twin Cities burger is topped with garlic grilled onions, swiss cheese, cheddar bar cheese, lettuce, tomato, and mayo on an onion bun.


The BBQ, bacon cheddar burger was good, but the real star was the Twin Cities burger! It was so good! Garlicy, and slightly sweet onions, the ooey gooey melted mild swiss, and sharp cheddar worked perfectly together! But I am telling you the onions MADE the burger!


We also got several sides.


Fried pickles with buttermilk ranch. Yum. My favorite side of the night. Crispy, not greasy at all, and pickle-y.


The Rosemary fries were good in theory, but they lacked some flavor.


The rosemary sweet potato fries on the other hand were delicious. Second favorite of the night. Crispy, crunchy, sweet and savory!

The chili cheese fries weren't good at all. They use the same fries as they do in the rosemary fries, but the chili tastes canned, and there wasn't enough cheese.


But the Veggie Frites were reeally good! Flash fried carrots, asparagus, and green beans, served with buttermilk ranch. They were a little greasy, but nothing a little napkin dabbing won't fix! They are tender without being flabby, and slightly crisp on the edges! If I had kids that said they didn't like veggies, this is what they'd be eating!

We also got to try some of their Haagen-Dazs shakes, which is what I was really holding out for! They were thick, and rich, and creamy. But I will take ice cream any way I can get it, and Haagen-Dazs tops my list of grocery store ice creams.

All in all we really enjoyed our meal at Smashburger, and are already planning our return. I am so glad to finally have one in the Twin Cities (even though they chose the less hot twin). There are 8 locations in the Twin Cities Metro area, and if you are looking for a good, quick, and reasonably priced meal Smashburger is a great place to go!

Thanks to Becca, and Smashburger for the invite, I can't wait to make my second visit!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

5 Months Later...

I didn't want to show up out of the blue (i just typed blew... fitting, because I blew it) and give you a run down of the last 5 months of my life after ditching you. Because I like you read blogs, and get to know people, and start to think of them as my friends (if you don't I don't want to hear that I am the only creeper out there), and I hate when I get attached to a friend, and then they fall off the face of the earth.

People who do that are crappy friends. So, I am coping to the fact that I have been a crappy friend. But people change, and if you disagree with that then let's just say that people can try really hard to change the habits that they know can hurt themselves and the others around them. So that's what I am going to do, try really hard to win back your affections, and be a better friend. That is what we are after all, friends.


As a thank you for being awesome friends and coming back to see me (which you obvi have since you are reading this), I have come bearing yummy gifts. This was a dinner I made up this week. I'm working on eating better right now, and I really had a hankering for chili but after watching Food Inc. (which was, um... scary) last week I'm trying to cut down on my meat intake, so I made a vegetarian chili. Vegetarian, not Veggie. I didn't have a lot of veggies in my fridge, but I did the best I could with what I had. It was tangy from the beer, slightly sweet from the pumpkin smokey from the cumin and chili powder, and a little spicy from the cayenne and chili flakes, and I think it turned out pretty dang delicious. You get lots of protein from the beans, and served over a little brown rice, with cheddar, and greek yogurt on top with a wedge (or half of a pan) of honey cornbread, you have got yourself a winning meal to share with a friend, that makes a really great, "Thank You!"


Vegetarian Two-Bean Chili

Serves: 4

Time: 20 minutes prep, 1 hour cooking

2 Tbls Olive Oil

1/2 Large Onion, diced

2 cloves Garlic, minced (or microplaned)

1/2 tsp salt

1 1/2 Tbls Cumin

1 Tbls Chili Powder

1 tsp Crushed Red Pepper Flakes

1/2 tsp Dried Oregano

1/2 tsp Paprika

1/2 tsp Cayenne

6 oz. can Tomato Paste

1 Cup Pumpkin Puree

28 oz. can Crushed Tomatoes

12 oz can Beer

1 Cup Water

15.5 oz Can Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed

2 Cups (about 2 15.5 oz cans) Black Beans, drained and rinsed

1 1/2 Cups Frozen Corn

Salt and Black Pepper to taste

Warm oil in a large soup pot over medium-low heat, saute onions for 3 minutes

Add garlic, and 1/2 tsp salt, saute until onions are soft and almost translucent, about 3 minutes

Add all of the spices, and stir allowing oil to draw out flavor and toast spices, about 2 minutes

Add in tomato paste, and pumpkin puree, making sure to scrape up spices off the bottom of pot, increase heat to medium-high

Add in beer, allow to cook for 2 minutes

Add in crushed tomatoes, and water, bring to a simmer

Stir in both beans and corn, season with salt and pepper to taste (I used approx. 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper)

Turn down heat to low, cover (crack lid to keep from bubbling over) and simmer for 1 hour stirring occasionally

Serve hot with brown rice, shredded cheddar, plain greek yogurt, and avocado slices


Oh... And, if I didn't tell you already, Thanks!