May 18, 2015

Minnesota

Statehood: May 11th, 1858 (32/50)

Whether you like retail therapy or spa therapy, Minnesota might be the state for you. On one hand, they've got The Mall of America - located in Bloomington and opened in 1992, it's not only a major tourist attraction (featuring an aquarium with over 10,000 species, a chapel, an enormous theme park, and more) but one of the largest malls in the country featuring 500+ stores and 50+ restaurants. On the other hand, they've got The Salt Cave - a therapeutic literal salt cave that offers visitors help with allergies, stress, asthma, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and much more through a special generator inside the caves that infuse the air with pharmaceutical grade Himalayan salt.

Oh, yes, there will be detoxing (either with a new pair of shoes or a massage, that is!).

And swimming. Lots and lots of swimming, as MN is known as "The Land of 10,000 Lakes": truth be told, they actually have closer to 12,000 (not to get all technical, but these are bodies of water ten acres or larger in size... if we included ALL their bodies of water it would be thousands and thousands more). It's no wonder, then, that water skiing was officially invented here in 1922 by an eighteen year old named Ralph Samuelson who thought if you can ski on snow, you must be able to ski on water.

Are you not entertained? Um, okay. Did you know Minnesota is also home of...

Bob Dylan, Betty Crocker, Post-It Notes, Scotch Tape, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Lucky Charms, The Mighty Ducks, and The Mayo Clinic.

*drops mic*

Minnesotans... while we marvel at your magnificence, we'll also mow down on your mouthwatering morsels. Quack.


State Drink: Milk

In 1984, Minnesota designated milk the official state drink for many reasons including - but not limited to - bringing an awareness to MN's dairy products, promoting the American Dairy Association, and helping tourism (obviously).

Mushroom Caps with Goat Cheese and Cranberries
Makes: 2 dinner portions

Ingredients:
2 large portabella mushroom tops, destemmed and degilled
4 to 5 large mushrooms, diced (for about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 Tablespoons butter
1/2 cup pecan halves, diced
1/4 cup panko crumbs
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup dried cranberries
3 Tablespoons goat cheese

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a pan, sauté the mushrooms and garlic in butter on medium heat for 10 minutes.

In a bowl combine the dry ingredients: the pecan halves, panko crumbs, salt, and cranberries.

Combine the cooked mushrooms and garlic with the dry ingredients. Mix to combine.

Scoop a little of the stuffing mixture in each mushroom cap, top with pads of goat cheese. Repeat process until you run out of mixture and cheese.

Bake for 20 minutes. Serve over a bed of arugula, with a drizzle of oil oil and balsamic vinegar!


State Fruit: Honeycrisp Apple

Ahhh, the honeycrisp apple! So juicy! So pretty! Definitely one of my faves. It's an apple cultivar developed by none other than the University of Minnesota in the 1960s; in 1988 it was patented; and in 1991 it was released for commercial growth. It was deemed the state fruit in MN in 2006 after a class from Andersen Elementary School in Bayport suggested it to the state government.

Harvest Oatmeal
Makes: 2 large portions

Ingredients:
1 cup quick oats
1 cup (nut) milk
1 medium apple, diced (for about 1 1/4 cup)
2 Tablespoons maple syrup
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt

Method:
Add the oats, milk, apple, maple syrup, cinnamon, and salt into a sauce pan. Cook on medium heat, stirring frequently, for 5 to 6 minutes. Serve immediately.


State Grain: Wild Rice

Wild rice became MN's state grain in 1977. According to the official state website, though, it's important to note that wild rice is actually a hardy aquatic annual grass that grows in shallow waters of lakes.

My Favorite Salad
Makes: 2 dinner portions

Ingredients:
1/2 cup wild rice
1 small zucchini, sliced
1 lb Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon olive oil
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
16-oz can refried beans
7-oz package of tempeh
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups packed arugula
Green Goddess or lemon-chive dressing

Method:
Add 1/2 cup wild rice to water (remember, it's a 1:4 ratio for this type of rice) in a sauce pot. Bring to a boil then simmer for around 35 to 40 minutes. Meanwhile...

Toss the zucchini and Brussels sprouts with 1 teaspoon olive oil, salt, and black pepper. Cook on a George Foreman-type appliance for 8 to 10 minutes, making sure both veggies get a nice char on them.

Microwave the refried beans to temperature of your liking.

Fry the strips of tempeh in remaining olive oil on medium-high heat for 10ish minutes - 

To assemble: split the arugula evenly on one half of each plate. Divide the rice and the refried beans between the remainder of each plate (on the empty side). Divide grilled veggies and tempeh on each plate, placing on top of the arugula. Drizzle with your preferred dressing. Eat immediately.


State Muffin: Blueberry

Minnesota declared the blueberry muffin it's official state muffin in 1988 after a third-grade class from South Terrace Elementary School in Calrton (who were inspired by their peers in MA who pushed for the corn muffin to become a Commonwealth state symbol) requested it.

Cocobluenut Muffins
Makes: a dozen muffins

Ingredients:
2 cups flour
3/4 cup white sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup mashed banana
1/3 cup (nut) milk
1/3 cup (soy) butter, softened
2 cups fresh blueberries
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1/4 cup shredded coconut

Method:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in one bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the vanilla, mashed banana, milk, and butter. Combine the wet, the dry, the blueberries, the lemon zest, and the shredded coconut. Don't over mix! It's okay if there are spots of dry still there - if you over mix, your muffins won't rise properly.

Grease your muffin tin. Fill each muffin slot with batter - 3/4 to almost full.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Let cool completely before removing muffins.


State Mushroom: Morel

Morchella Esculenta (which sounds like a pretty amazing band name) became the official state mushroom in 1984. The Morel, or sponge mushroom, grows in the springtime in MN, but it may be difficult to find your area regardless of season - Whole Foods should have them available dried, though!

Uber Thick Cream of Mushroom and Rice Soup
Makes: 4 portions

Ingredients:
1 10.5-oz bag of Gardein Teriyaki Chick'n Strips, sauce discarded
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 cups sliced cremini and morel mushrooms
1/2 large onion, diced (for 1 cup)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon butter
1/2 cup wild rice
2 cups veggie stock
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
3 to 4 cups (nut) milk
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried parsley

Method:
Sauté the Gardein Teriyaki Chick'n Strips in olive oil in a sauté pan on medium-high heat for 8 to 10 minutes until browned and crispy on both sides. Remove from heat, let cool, then dice into bite-sized pieces.

In another pan, sauté the cremini and morel mushrooms, onion, and garlic cloves with 1 Tablespoon of butter for for 7 to 8 minutes.

Bring the wild rice and veggie stock to a boil, then simmer for 35 to 40ish minutes.

In a soup pot, melt the remainder of the butter (1/4 cup) over low heat. When melted, whisk in the 1/2 cup flour to make a roux. When thick and bubbly, slowly begin adding the milk starting with just 2 to 3 cups (remember: you can always add more after the soup has thickened and is ready to serve; if it seems too thick to you at that point, that's when you can add more). Whisk until everything is combined, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add the sautéed mushroom mixture and the chicken to the soup. 

Add rice after it's cooked (it's totally okay if not all the veggie stock has been soaked up).

Bring soup to a rolling boil on medium heat.

Turn down immediately and serve!




Sources:
Ebel, Alyssa. "FW: Travel Counselor Contact." Message to the author. 30 Oct. 2013. Email.
Minnesota Legislative Reference Library: Minnesota State Symbols
Minnesota.gov: Minnesota State Symbols