A Restaurant Review – Northstar Cafe

While I was in Columbus over Thanksgiving, I finally got to try Northstar Cafe, a restaurant I have been dying to go to ever since my dad first told me about their veggie burgers. For my dad, of all people, to say that a veggie burger is amazing says a lot. 
Edited from original post to include this picture 🙂 

There are three locations around the city and each has a slightly different menu from what my sister tells me. She should know. Like my dad, Brooke is a Northstar fanatic. My friend Brian has also told me about their delicious burgers.

The restaurant serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner. We arrived at 12:30pm or so, and by that time breakfast items like the Cloud Nine Pancakes and the Big Burrito were not available. I am so thankful for that, otherwise my decision would have been much more difficult! 
Since I had heard so much about the veggie burger, I knew I had to have it. 
The Northstar Burger ($12.50) is “made with organic brown rice, black beans and beets, topped with white cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickle and onion” with a small salad served on the side. 
Although a bit more expensive than I normally like to spend on lunch, take my word for it when I say this is well worth the splurge. Every bite was even more delicious than the last and you can truly taste the quality ingredients. Plus, all prices include gratuity. 
My cousin (and bridesmaid!) Casey who was also experiencing Northstar for the first time had the Chopped Salad topped with turkey, bacon, avocado, cheese, almonds and apples. 
Brooke is all too familiar with the menu and she has told me several times about the Sweet Basil Burrito with roasted chicken, veggies, pesto and rice. I snagged a couple of bites and let’s just say she wasn’t exaggerating when she told me how good it is.
I don’t make it out to many different restaurants when I go back to visit my family in Ohio anymore, but I will definitely be making Northstar a priority for future trips. 
Northstar Café on Urbanspoon

Apple Walnut Baked Oatmeal

What is one breakfast you just can’t live without? Mine would have to be oatmeal. No matter how much I love pancakes, french toast, cinnamon rolls and doughnuts, oats plays a vital role in my diet. 
Ok, to be honest I couldn’t live without pancakes and doughnuts either. But I only indulge in those every once in awhile, and eat oatmeal almost daily. Or, just combine the two and get oatmeal pancakes!
For several months now my weekday breakfast has consisted of a bowl of hot oatmeal with almond milk, cinnamon, chai seeds and sliced banana. Not even kidding, I have probably had this about 80% of the time since the springtime. 
What can I say? I’m a creature of habit and love a good routine. It doesn’t hurt that oats are full of health benefits. 
Well, today I announce that my traditional bowl of oatmeal has some stiff competition in the form of a baked oatmeal loaf. 
Thick, hearty and full of both texture and flavor, baked oatmeal may be my new favorite discovery. I realize I have a lot of ‘favorites’ that I share with you from day to day. I’m not exaggerating with this one though. 
Next time your craving the warmth of oatmeal and have a little extra time to let it bake, rather than nuke in the microwave, try this. You won’t be disappointed.

Apple Walnut Baked Oatmeal
(Adapted from Peanut Butter Fingers)

Makes about 3 servings

1 cup rolled oats
1/2 teaspoon chai seeds
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
3 tablespoons apple butter
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tablespoons almond milk
Syrup for topping

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray small loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, add oats, chai seeds, brown sugar, salt, and baking soda. Whisk thoroughly.
3. In a separate small bowl, add applesauce and apple butter. Whisk until well combined. Add to oat mixture and whisk or stir until all ingredients are well incorporated. Add walnuts and stir to evenly distribute.
4. Pour mixture into loaf pan and gently press down with a spatula to form an even layer. Drizzle almond milk over the top. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from heat, stir, and press down again into an even layer. Bake 8-10 more minutes (oats will become medium-dark golden brown). Remove from oven. Let cool in pan up to 5 minutes. Slice into pieces and serve immediately. Top with syrup if desired.

~About 650 calories in the ENTIRE loaf!!~
…215 calories per serving…

Weekend Eats – Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving this year was just about as good as it could have been. I have so much to be thankful for, most importantly my family. I spent this past holiday weekend in Florida and Ohio to be with both Greg’s family and my own family for a couple of days each. It was a lot of traveling, but worth every minute of the long car ride and super early flights. 
Thanksgiving Day was spent in Florida. I got an early run in to balance out the feast I was about to consume. I did surprisingly well with staying in control and not overdoing it at lunch, but that’s not to say I deprived myself in any way. This plate was full of delicious food including all of your Thanksgiving staples: turkey, ham, mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, vegetable casserole, sweet potato casserole, stuffing, and more. 
Then I proceeded to eat about half of the pecan pie I made throughout the rest of the night. Whoops. 
Friday morning I flew to Columbus where my sister and cousin (Maid of Honor and bridesmaid!) picked me up from the airport. We headed straight to Easton, a big shopping center/mall in Columbus, for the afternoon. The first thing on the agenda was lunch at Northstar Cafe. I have been hearing about this place from family and friends at home for over a year now and it just hasn’t ever worked out for me to actually go when I’ve been home. Well, I am pleased to say I finally made it.  
More on THAT another day. 
For dinner, almost everyone from my mom’s side of the family met up for a surprise birthday dinner for my grandma GG. A traditional Italian meal only made sense for our Italian roots. 
Saturday wasn’t just any other college football game day, it was Ohio State vs. Michigan. The entire city was dressed up in scarlet and gray, as expected. My siblings and I went to a local sports bar & grill to watch the first half. Us girls had mimosas!  
Later that evening, we had Thanksgiving Part II. Although most of the foods were similar to what I had on Thanksgiving Day with Greg’s family, I was excited to have all of my mom and step-dad’s dishes like corn pudding and sausage stuffing. 
Brooke was my assistant in the kitchen that night as we prepared a fresh brussel sprout side dish to accompany everything else. More on that another day as well.
Everything was amazing. Dessert (unfortunately not pictured) included pumpkin pie with whipped cream (my favorite) and a cherry cobbler.
What was the tastiest part of your Thanksgiving?

I Would Like to Introduce You to…

Today we take a break from regularly scheduled food blogging to introduce you to the newest addition to my little family. 
Erica, your wish is my command! (Erica commented on one of my posts the other day saying she wanted to see more puppy pictures.) You don’t have to ask me twice!
Internet Friends, this…

…is Zoey. 
No, she’s not a lab despite how much everyone seems to think she looks like one. She is a Great Dane. And she is THE best!

She sleeps like a rock and loves to even cuddle more than I do…I didn’t know that was possible. I can literally hold her like a baby while she sleeps and it’s the most precious thing in the world. 

Other times I let her nap by herself and this is what happens. She may or may not have tossed and turned her way off the couch a couple of times already. Whoops. 
I love my little Zoey more than I ever imagined. She and I have quickly become best friends. 
Just look at that face!!!!!

I’m officially obsessed.

Weekend Eats 11-19-12

Normally I wouldn’t be so excited on a Monday morning, but it’s the week of Thanksgiving! Can you believe it? I can’t. At the risk of repeating what everyone else is already saying, I’m saying it anyway- the holiday season has totally and completely snuck up on me this year. Time flies!! Just a couple of (hopefully) quick workdays to get through and I’ll be on my way to spend time with my beloved family and eat some of the best food we eat all year.

Until then, let’s talk about what I had this weekend.
Friday night was spent at home with pizza and a movie. I had two small slices of DiGiorno with a bunch of steamed broccoli and cauliflower on the side to fit some nutrition into my meal. 
Greg had to work Saturday morning so Zoey and I had some playtime and snuggle time by ourselves (our favorite). I left her for a bit while I went for a run and came home to find her fast asleep, not even moving when I walked in the door. She is so precious. I promise to share more about her soon!
A bit later, Greg and I went to work our on wedding registry some more before returning home for lunch. With plans to make homemade macaroni and cheese for dinner, I figured I would squeeze healthy veggies in while I could. My big salad had black beans, tomato, onion and some shredded cheddar, all tossed with raspberry merlot dressing.

Sunday breakfast was deeeee-licious! I’ll be sharing the recipe this week so you’ll have to come back in the next day or two to see details!
Since I hadn’t eaten out all weekend (very rare!), I decided I might as well keep the streak going and eat dinner at home too. I made a vegetable wrap with zucchini, onion, green pepper, tomato, spinach and cheese. I only had mini tortillas so not all of my mixture fit inside 🙂 The remainder made a good side dish though, along with some pretzels. 

Finally, I wrapped up my weekend with a creamy bowl of Publix Roadrunner Raspberry frozen yogurt with a drizzle of caramel sauce. Even when it’s cold and rainy outside, I can down some fro yo…just wrap me under a blanket and bring it on! 
What was the tastiest part of your weekend?

Southwestern Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes

Hi friends! 
I hope you haven’t been missing me too much this week. Just bear with me awhile longer as I continue to adjust to my new life with the puppy. Whew! Early mornings, constant potty breaks and playtime sure do make it difficult to spend time on my computer while I’m at home. Especially since Zoey thinks she’s a blogger too and inevitably paws at my keyboard whenever I have my computer open. 
I have a whole new respect for mommy bloggers!

I have been with you in spirit though, thinking about all I would have to tell you about when I finally had some time to write again. 
I did a much better job this week of cooking real meals at home, rather than eating out or throwing together hodgepodge dinners that I was doing a little too frequently the past couple of weeks. 
This is one dinner in particular I have been very excited to share with you. 

This is just about as simple as you can get and it combines literally almost all of my favorite foods into one. The wide variety of flavors and nutritious ingredients make for one satisfying meal.
Southwestern Style Stuffed Sweet Potatoes
(Adapted from Peas and Crayons)
Makes 1 serving (easily multiplied as needed!)
1 whole medium sweet potato
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cooked black beans
2 tablespoons guacamole
1-2 tablespoons sour cream
2 tablespoons crumbled cheese (I used goat cheese)
1 cup lettuce or other greens of choice (optional for serving)
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Use a fork to poke holes all over the potato. Place potato in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Roll potato around in the bowl to evenly coat. Add salt to bowl and roll again to coat. Once oven is heated, place potato directly on the rack. Bake 45-55 minutes. Remove from oven and slice lengthwise. Use tongs to gently squeeze ends of potato to open it up.
2. Spread lettuce evenly across a plate. Add potato on top of lettuce and top with remaining ingredients. 

Weekend Eats 11-12-12

That coffee is looking awfully good this morning. I thought I had been coping well with my new sleep (or lack thereof) schedule with the puppy. We are up every couple of hours throughout the night to let her outside and last week I really didn’t have too much trouble. All of a sudden it’s hit me and this morning I’m not quite sure I can make it through the day without crashing. I’ll have to trust a big cup of coffee more than ever to keep me going through the work day. 
I spent Thursday through Saturday in Jacksonville, Florida at a conference for work and took advantage of the opportunity to sleep straight through the night. It was nice while it lasted, but there’s still no place like home 🙂
While in Jacksonville, I ate out at a few different places. The first of which being breakfast from Einstein’s as you can see above. They call their coffee “Darn Good” for a reason! It really was darn good. Now I know why my grandpa spends many mornings reading the paper at Einstein’s 🙂 I’ll have to join him next time.
One day, we went to Vito’s Italian Cafe where they served buttery garlic rolls while waiting for lunch.

I had the Spinach Salad, which came with roasted red peppers, onions, goat cheese and bacon bits. Balsamic dressing on the side. 
A good road trip almost always involves fast food of some kind. That doesn’t mean you have to be unhealthy either. Chick-Fil-A has great options and I couldn’t pass up my favorite salad. The Southwest Chargrilled Chicken Salad is one meal I will allow meat into.

Around all of these salads, I munched on chocolate chip cookies that I had baked the night before leaving on the trip and some Trader Joe’s Peanut Butter Cup Trax Mix.
I had a great time getting to work out of the office for a couple of days but am so glad to be home. 
What was the tastiest part of your weekend?