Sunday, June 24, 2012

Product Review Extravaganza

There's really no sense in posting dozens of tiny updates about the new products I've loved and loathed over the last couple of months, so I'm going to try to compile them all for you.  A lot of them are things we've come to rely on after realizing that creating every side dish (or main course) from scratch becomes a thing of the past when your growing baby wants to be entertained all the time.

Trader Joe's Butternut Squash Risotto - Smelled terrible.  Y'know how sometimes squash can smell like BO when it cooks with a lot of pepper?  Yeah, that.  On the bright side, it was delicious!

Trader Joe's Polenta Provencale - Boom.  Our new favorite ready-made side dish.  Little nuggets of polenta with frozen-yet-fresh-tasting veggies in a wonderful spicy cream sauce.

Kellogg's Krave Cereal (chocolate) - Tastes like the marshmallows from Count Chocula, but surprisingly not-hateful nutrition facts.  120 cals, 24 carbs and 3 grams of fiber. For being fairly low in sugars, the chocolate is very sweet, so I'm not sure I'd be interested in trying the double chocolate.

Barber's Stuffed Chicken - Available in Broccoli Cheese, Cordon Bleu, Brie & Apple, Chicken Kiev.  So far, we've tried all but the Kiev and they've all been very tasty.  Only drawback is that it's not truly a "stuffed breast."  It IS all white meat, but rib meat is also used.  I'm normally very picky about frozen chicken items, and these don't bug me out.  Especially with the convenience factor and fairly friendly nutrition facts, these are a weekly staple for us.  We've also tried the Koch Oven Cravers - which are the same idea, only not breaded.  All of those have been good as well.

Trader Joe's Better'n Peanut Butter - Well, it probably would have been great.  I remember it being too sweet for sandwiches, but it may have been great for baking.  Why am I speaking hypothetically, you might ask?  Because it was supposed to be shelf stable for 2-3 months, according to the expiration date, and the shit molded less than one week after I opened it, and the jar was sealed tight.  This is one of maybe ten times in the last year that I have either bought spoiled food from TJ's or it has spoiled within a day or two.  Boooooooo.

Honey Bunches of Oats Fruit Medleys, Peach & Raspberry - Artificial fruit flavors are usually so heavy-handed and candy-like that they're not used in grown-up cereals.   I really only bought this because it was on sale and I had a $1 coupon, so it was practically free.  Surprisingly good!  Everything else about the cereal and its general makeup are the same, except this nice hint of peach and raspberry that doesn't leave you feeling like you just ate gummi peach rings.  Not sure it will become a regular staple, but it was a nice change and well-suited for summer mornings (and nights!). 

Private Selection Sauteed Vegetable Lasagna - I have to plan ahead at least two days to eat this, since wheat and I aren't on good terms.  The catering company (Ovations Catering, I think) in the Dayton Convention Center makes a pretty wonderful white vegetarian lasagna.  I don't have a lot of time to dissect and figure out dishes these days, but was pulled in by something that looked very similar to it in the freezer section of Kroger.  Their Private Selection house brand has yet to fail me on any product.  Seriously, BIG kudos to kroger on the R&D that has gone into this line, because it's one home run after another.  This lasagna is no different.  An easy, effortless dinner for four - or dinner and leftovers for lunch if it's just two of you.  I think this would even go over well with picky eaters.  the veggies are well-masked by all the cheesy goodness.

Chipotle Cheddar Chex Mix:  Addictive qualities rivaled only by crystal meth.

Smoked Cheddar Cheeze-its:  See above.  

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Breakfast at Tank's

 Tank's is one of my very favorite Dayton haunts.  Always my first pick for burger joints, and someplace I always insist on taking folks new to or visiting the Gem City.  A permanent spot in my top ten.  In my twenties, I even chose a rental house based in its close proximity to Tank's.  However, they've been serving breakfast for a couple of years - even started serving it during all hours - and I had yet to try it.  I kept hearing everyone rave about it, but it was simply off our breakfast radar for one reason or another.  The morning of Memorial day, when most everyone we knew was hungover, we were up bright and early...and hungry.  Golden Nugget and Christopher's were both closed.  We started to head for last resorts like Starlite or Hasty Tasty, then put'er in reverse and headed down Wayne Avenue. 

Mr. FvF ordered gravy & biscuits with a side of bacon, and I opted for a girly-sized omlette (filled with onions, tomatoes, bacon, sausage and cheddar cheese) along with one slab of french toast.  when we got our food, I was sure the waitress had misunderstood and given my the $10 omlette.  Nope, this was the "girly" omlette.  Since this took up the whole damn plate, I can only assume Tank's had to invest in some special new plates to serve the Tank-sized omlettes on.  

Here's my whine:  I HATE it when restaurants do not specify that they use red onions instead of white or yellow.  The cook up and taste completely different, and some people don't care for them.  So, now I'm stuck with a dish chock full of sauteed red onions. Same thing happened a few weeks ago when I ordered an omlette at The Brunch Club.  I realize not everyone is going to reprint their menus, but I'm pretty sure Tank's could afford to, and could stand to replace their half-sheet paper menus once in a while.  Even other than the red onions, I wasn't impressed with much besides the size of my omlette.  Then I realized that all the fuss I had heard from friends had been about the quantity of the breakfast here, not the quality.  

That said, the French toast and bacon were excellent, and the gravy had a really unique sweetness, that I can only attribute to beer or white wine being used in it.  I'm learning the hard way that no one makes an omlette like Golden Nugget.  Sorry, Tank's - you'll always be my #1 for burgers, but breakfast belongs to the Donkey.  

3 out of 5 sporks!

Tank's Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Finally, The Brie Burger

The wheel turning and burger stuffing never ends at Chez FvF.  I'd been rolling around the idea of a brie burger after something I saw on Food Network, and would not be stopped until I made one that lived up to the expectations in my head.  Luckily, I got in on the first try - because frankly, sometimes I give up easily - even with all this big talk.
I was a little bit worried about the difference in cooking times and temps since I wanted to use some sausage, but everything came out just right.  Here's what you'll need: 

Serves 2 big hongries or 3 regular-sized burgers

1/3 lb ground chuck
1/3 pound Bob Evans original sage sausage*
4 tbsp seasoned bread crumbs
1/8 tsp kosher or sea salt
1/8 tbsp fresh cracked pepper
1/2 clove garlic, very finely minced
1/4-1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 egg, beaten
1 round of double cream brie, top and bottom rind trimmed off and cut into slices

*No, you don't have to use Bob's, but I think their sage sausage is perfect for dinner dishes.  they built an empire from their sausage for a reason, folks.  

If you're a regular reader, you know the routine by now.  Combine the first eight ingredients, preferably by hand, until everything is thoroughly mixed.  Patty your burgers out and toss them onto a preheated grill, around medium-high heat, or 400-ish if you're a numbers person.  Because of the sausage, quite a crust will form on these burgers, but don't pull them off too soon.  Nothing wrong with an all-beef burger being a little rare, but you want to aim for well done when you're cooking with ground pork.  If we haven't been over this, FvF doesn't jive with the FDA on the theory that a little pink is alright in your pork.  It's just a personal preference, and I prefer mine cooked through.  If you're on a gas grill around 400, this should take about 6-8 minutes per side.  
You need to make sure you get the cheese on while your burgers are still wicked hot, but brie has a very low melting point, so adding the cheese while they're still on the grill may be a bit premature.  Take them off the grill and put the brie slices over each patty until the whole thing is covered in melty perfection.  I suggest serving these in a hearty, toasted roll, like brioche or focaccia.  This is a really rich burger that requires no condiments, but an herb aioli or chardonnay dijon would pair nice with it.