Friday, January 30, 2009

Noodle Me Up, and Slurp Me Down


"They are made of rice- which means they are healthier for you, and you can eat more!" she said. The blonde spoke this statement with such authority and though it may have sounded believable or even seemed so, research had to be done about the rice noodle. Yes, it's an asian thing.

By "better" she might have meant "healthier." Well, it's based on your idea of healthy, because rice noodles have less protein and more starch than your regular run-of-the-mill spaghetti noodles. Here's some tidbits from the Food Coach’s info on rice noodles. The pasta type of noodles are made with durem wheat flour, which has a high protein and gluten content- and gluten is not so good for the intestinal tract. Many people are actually allergic to gluten- found in wheat products, including Couscous (which is a pasta- not a grain...though we all know it looks like a larger version of rice..). Take a quick look at the cheat sheet about knowing your noodles that might be fun from the kid's version of the NY times. A great (and favorite dish) with rice noodles is Phat Sieu, a great stir fry with rice noodles and veggies (and usually pork for your herbivores out there)- and a light sauce that is SUPER tasty.

Monday, January 26, 2009

You like them apples?


After a semi-rough night of catering to the needs of food-ordering customers, myself and some friends ventured a block away to sit at a different bar. Luckily, drafts were only $2.50 each for the late-night happy hour and sat at the bar we did. Never having all drank together, the conversation was quite interesting and all the funny. Especially when we realized the other 3 fellows were younger than me! While gulping down my favorite St. Louis brew (with extra lemon)- two of the others ordered another round of some apple beer. Apple Beer you say?

Yes, Floris Apple Garden beer. Garden? Apple? These two men didn't mind to be drinking this "foo-foo" sounding concoction, so they offered me a taste. Much more sugary than a Strongbow Cider, but good none the less (and maybe less alcohol content as well). The sugar mixed with the carbonation made the drink taste like a soda- spiked with alcohol. It earns maybe 3 stars out of 5 - but too much sugar usually leads to a bad hangover. Good ratings here as well from the Beer Advocate
There was only that sip, and my wheat beer filled me up the rest of the morning.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Soupin' It

Here in the midwest, we're used to have below-freezing temps and scattered snow flurries one day and then 50 degree sunny skies the next. Luckily, we have several soup options down and around town and at just about each sandwich shop. Not only can you get a toasted sammy, you can get a bowl (or yummy bread bowl) of delish soup. A favorite of mine is creamy tomato soup or tomato basil soup.

"Usually" (quotes!) they aren't concocted of a beef or chicken base (if you're lucky) but with a salty or veggie stock, and actual tomatoes instead. Being a vegetarian - you've got to pay attention to small details like this- so always ask, and if the staff are unsure- or don't have a list of ingredients to refer to- get something else! A restaurant customer the other night was verifying if a dish contained any gluten- which effected her possible life-threatening condition, so the kitchen was asked and lists were double-checked before assuring her it didn't. If in doubt, just always ask. Another (sometimes) imposter is copycat broccoli cheese soup, which uses chicken broth. A good friend of mine hooked me on a easy home version of the Weight Watchers (good for you and easy to make as well) WW broccoli cheese- and we just substitute veggie broth for chicken broth. It's easy and satisfying every time. Throw in some croutons and top with more shredded cheese and it's a party all right!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

To Bread or not to Bread?

If you are among the chosen who work in a desk-office setting (where you're sedentary for a majority of the day), you might have to work out a little harder at the gym. Why?

The endless food days and leftovers from events (always requiring food), that are held for your department or others. If you're lucky and have events very often, you actually become quite picky on your choice of bagel, schmear, and/or pastry. And if the right person raves about the selection, you'll be guaranteed a future indulgence of a similar spread in the future. Always: Coffee and bagels, and Sometimes: Orange juice, pastries, cream cheese, and fresh fruit. There's almost an endless combination to pick from- but we learn to get there early (and nab that last gooey cinnamon roll!) to get the best pick.

The absolute tastiest bagels in the business are Einstein’s, and they have the largest (and absolutely delicious) selection of schmears. Mouth-watering. Unfortunately, there isn't one nearby- in fact to get to one requires a drive of a few hours. But Panera is usually our go-to breakfast breaker. Then there are some locals that have healthier options (and tastier!), but remember that if it's better for you, it's price is 'better' (i.e. higher) as well.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great LEGS at a great deal!

Here's a quick link to some awesome tights at Kohl’s that are on sale- right now! Simply Vera Wang is a great hardy brand to find some things fabulous and here they are- you won't be disappointed.

Bang for your Buck

Tight budget clamping down calls for one thing- coupons! The best thing to do is create an alternate (one of several so far) email address and use it to subscribe to weekly/monthly emails advertising freebies and coupons. Luckily, Quizno’s sent me one for a 'buy one get one free' deal- and on the sidebar also advertised their new $5 menu- with 20 subs on it. And then there began a wild goose chase at lunch.

Quizno’s locations in our city no longer recognize the $5 deal at any of the franchises- so that was out. They do offer a $5.49 deal on the basic sammys (there are 5 and no veggie option-that's extra). Except the location in the district is permanently closed- When did that happen? Since the bitter freezing cold wind is currently upon us, the nearest sandwich shop was the Cafe Bleu. Half a block later, and we took a second look at it's sign, which read "Thank you for your patronage. The Cafe is closed permanently." Dang. Hopped in the car for a ride down the eastside to the next nearest Quizno’s location and joined the long line at the sandwich counter. Opting for the smaller sized veggie was a good idea ($.10 less!) except to realize; at the segment where they ask you what toppings you'd like (after it's been grilled/cooked); they were out of the best veggie topping: guacamole. They normally smother this on without regard and then it must be manually smoothed in equal parts on my sammy. But not today. The economy left me hungrier and missing my guac today. How much bang for your buck is that?

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Drink says it all

The "Samoan" martini at Addy’s is a super-yum vodka martini infused with 3 SECRET alcohols mixed together, and splashed into a typical martini glass. However, this glass is rimmed and swirled with light chocolate syrup, white chocolate syrup, and some caramel. Goosebumps arise just imagining the bartender making it!
*Tidbit: These Girl Scout cookies were always called the Samoa until just recently- and the rumor is that the effect is only of a regional nature. Except we've lived in the same state for many, many years....but the $4 for a box of these currently named Caramel DeLites are worth every cent and are pretty much equivalent to being addicted to the most addictive substance: sugar. MMmmmm.

Last Friday night, (in anticipation of the upcoming Freaker's Ball at D's house), my heart was calling for one as guts and inner worries were spilled out to a good friend who was an old co-worker. Randomly, a blonde beauty who used to be employed in the same dept. no less (a few years back), was there with a group of girl friends and looked quite nervous (or was it tipsy?) came to speak to C. He was so surprised- and nervous no less, which left me in giggles. No pushing or deriding gave him enough courage to go to her table or order drinks for the girl group. This moment of slight failure left us to decide on drinking draft beers for the remainder of our evening. Nothing says cool composure like Blvd. Wheat with extra lemon (it's the zest!).


After having a lovely lunch, with only an hour allowed, the flavor of my sandwich's sauce still lingers. Figuring in time for walking (to the parking garage), driving to the fancy pants restaurant (after calling it in)at Hemingway’s to pick up the carryout order, then back to J's job to scarf it down took a little more than the allowable hour.

The rosemary potato fingerlings and grilled cajun tilapia made a scrumptious combination. With tomatoes and cucumber, on a spread of goat's cheese, the fish was definitely mouth watering. Better known as a fine dining steak restaurant, and as a wine and cigar shop before that, H's has upped the anty on lunches that don't fit into the convenient (aka fast food) column. After all this? J was convinced to treat me there on our upcoming wedding anniversary!