appetizers

Minneapolis Town Hall Brewery, Minnesota

Yes, I know. Tired of my Minneapolis trip yet? I feel like it sometimes takes me forever to get around to doing posts, so I’m still writing about my trip. But it was so awesome that I can’t just leave anything out!

My second night in visiting with Sam and Jason (right after leaving the MN State Fair for the second day in a row) we headed to the Town Hall Brewery, a brewpub in downtown Minneapolis. Sam found the place and loved their website so much that she decided we had to go. That and they have great beer. I was sold. Doesn’t take much.

Our main goals was to try a bunch of different beers. We had eaten so much at the fair that we didn’t need much in the way of food. Just some beer samples. The Town Hall Brewery made it really easy to try different styles with their different beer flights.

Sam went with a flight of their signature brews: Dortmunder Local, Masala Mama IPA, Hope and King, Black H2o Oatmeal, and West Bank Pub Ale. I decided to go with the seasonal flight: Smoked Hefe, Broken Paddle ESB, Tank Monkey Double IPA, Honey Storm, and a special infused beer.

There were some really interesting flavors between these 10 different beers. Some that stood out most to me were in the seasonal flight. The Smoked Hefe had some really intense smokey flavor, along the lines of a smokey bourbon or a whiskey. The Honey Storm was interesting too, with a sweet start and really oakey (is that a wordy? it is now.) finish.

All the signature brews were good, solid varieties. I especially liked the Hope and King Scotch Ale and the West Bank Pub Ale. To me, both were really drinkable and I could totally see them becoming a favorite for me with some growlers at home if I didn’t live so far away.

OK, and I know I said we weren’t really hungry, but somehow sampling 10 different types of beer makes you feel like you suddenly have an appetite again. So we ended up with the Spinach and Artichoke Dip and the Mashed Potato Pizza (!).

The dip was delish with the pita chips for dipping and the “pizza” was basically like potato skins on a pita. Carbs anyone? Perfect pub snacks for imbibing some delicious beer.

I would love to go back for an actual meal in the dining room. We sat near the bar since we weren’t planning on ordering much food, mostly just drinks. I loved that they had different flight options. The most appealing part of the Town Hall Brewery to me was their selection of in-house beer, so I was really happy that it was easy to try so many different kinds.

Thanks Town Hall Brewery for a lovely evening filled with 10 different styles of beer!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

Sometimes you just need a great dip. Dane and I were hanging out one weekend and I really wanted spinach and artichoke dip. Instead of going out to a restaurant, I figured I could just figure out how to make some on my own.

I started with looking through some recipes just to get a sense of the amounts I should be working with. I saw recipes that called for cream cheese, sour cream, and mayo. None of those seemed right to me. Mayo in a spinach and artichoke dip? Not so much for me.

My favorite kind of spinach and artichoke dip always has a delicious cheesyness mixed in with the spinach and artichoke. Since I’ve made all kinds of things with cheese sauces (because I LOVE CHEESE!) I knew I could make it work. And the results were awesome!

Spinach and Artichoke Dip

  • 1 package frozen spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onions
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 cup light cream
  • 1 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese
  • 1 cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • 1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
  • 4-5 strips bacon, fried crisp, drained and crumbled
  • Assorted chips for dipping (pita chips, tortilla chips, bagel chips)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly grease a 9-inch round dish (I actually used a pie plate, which worked perfectly) and set aside. I also drained the spinach, which took awhile to get all the water out. Really make sure you drain off as much water as you can. I then drained the artichoke hearts and chopped them into bite sized pieces.

In a medium pot, cook the bacon until crispy over medium-high heat. Remove the bacon and crumble once it has cooled. In the bacon fat, add the onions and cook, stirring, for 3-5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 3 minutes.


Add the flour and stir constantly, to make a roux. Cook about 3 minutes then add the milk and cream. The mixture will start to thicken, so make sure to keep stirring constantly. It should take 3-5 minutes of stirring before you feel it starting to thicken.

Add the spinach and stir in well. Then add the cheeses, artichoke hearts, and bacon, and stir together.

Remove the pot from the heat and pour into the prepared dish. Put in the oven for about 20 minutes, until bubbly (you can add more cheese on top if you want). Remove from the oven and serve hot with chips.

This does make a LOT of dip, and Dane and I didn’t get through even close to half of this. It’s the perfect amount for company though. I froze the rest that we didn’t eat, and plan to try and reheat it next time I’m feeling the need for some dip. It may or may not work, but hey, it’s worth a shot.

Hope you enjoy!

Fried Ravioli

That’s right. Fried. Ravioli. Two words could not go more perfectly together. The first time I tried these was at our wedding, and they were delicious. My sister Jenna and her boyfriend Rich became totally obsessed with fried ravioli after our wedding, so when they came to visit recently, I knew I just had to make them. Jenna had (not surprisingly) figured out how to make them, so she gave me some suggestions and I took it from there.

So thanks Jenna, for the instructions. Here how you do it.

Fried Ravioli

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag of frozen mini round ravioli (or square, whichever you’d like, but make sure they are the smaller variety)
  • Italian bread crumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • Olive oil
  • Marinara sauce for dipping

First take the ravioli out of the freezer to defrost about 10-15 minutes before you plan to start cooking it. I put them all out on a wire rack because sometimes they freeze together and you have to separate them. It was just easier for me to separate them all this way before getting started so you’re not doing it while your hands are messy.

Next get your eggs and breadcrumbs ready to easily dip your ravioli in. I scrambled three eggs (but I made two bags of ravioli, you should only need two eggs for one bag) and put about a cup of bread crumbs in a small bowl so that I could easily transfer the ravioli from the egg, to the breadcrumbs, to the pan.

Heat about 1/3-1/2 cup of olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Dip the ravioli in the eggs. I put a handful of ravioli in the eggs at a time so that it wouldn’t take quite as long. Then transfer the ravioli to the breadcrumbs to coat the ravioli. I took the ravioli out one at a time from the eggs, then put 6-7 in the breadcrumbs before shaking it up to cover them all. Place in the hot oil to fry, making sure there is enough oil in the pan to mostly cover the ravioli.

This will take about 3 minutes per side. You just want the ravioli to become golden brown and they’ll be done. After the first side is done, flip each ravioli and cook for another 3 minutes. When the ravioli are nice and crispy, transfer them to a plate lined with paper towels to collect any extra oil and cool.

Once cooled for a few minutes, serve with some marinara sauce for dipping.

This is a great appetizer to serve at a party. They’ve been a hit for me so far with friends and I would definitely recommend them for something fun and a little different. My sisters and Rich scarfed these down when they got to our apartment, so for them it was more of a meal, but I think they were totally OK with that.

I’ll close with a picture of my sister Melissa and I in cool hats. Go make some Fried Ravioli!

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