Monday, May 27, 2013

Critique: Chicken Alfredo Florentine entree!

This frozen TV dinner style entree by the Michelina folks is one of their 'Lean Gourmet' meal a deals with pasta and chicken swimming bravely in a 'creamy Alfredo sauce' amongst bits of floating spinach.

Any dish with the moniker 'Alfredo' as part of the name is traditionally a pasta dish made from fettuccine pasta tossed with Parmesan cheese and butter, which all sounds pretty good, right? So, it was with no small amount of eagerness that I took this entree out of my freezer and inspected the microwave preparation instructions. They were pretty basic; just lift up a corner to vent, nuke on high for three minutes, then remove and stir the contents. Finally, cover it again (harder to do than it sounds by the way) and heat for an additional 1 to 1 ½ minutes! Easy greasy for a 260 calorie part of a complete meal!

Here's a serving hint! Make sure that you scoop out the contents and place them on a plate with some other more interesting sides; say like green beans and toast, for instance. (This will go a long way to diverting your attention from something that looks a lot like vomit).

Ding! The meal is ready!

So, here is what everything looked like when it came serving time. The sides really do help to make it more appealing and it still came in at just a tad over 500 calories! I felt that the initial nutritional information for the entree was augmented in a more positive direction by the green beans and toast. Other than the sky high sodium content, this meal wasn't all that bad – (just as long as you
can purchase it on sale like it did)! I gave the entree, itself, a score of 7 while the add-ons pushed up the overall experience to a solid 8!

The bottom line...

Meals like this one from Michelina are pretty much a dime a dozen. They are the frozen counterpart to some of the fast foods that will also kill you over time, if you make them part of your regular diet. Still, what with food prices for fresh produce, fruits and meat going through the roof under the Obama Administration, many of us have little, if any, choice.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Obama and cow pies!

 You have to give it to our Prez – he's a man who knows the term 'polarize' very well. I've never seen a Congress so bollixed up as this one is; and led by a man who I'd wager couldn't get two nuns to agree on which day is the Sabbath!

Not surprisingly, President Obama is now deeply mired in three major scandals that would have resulted in the impeachment of any other man; were it not for the incredible nativity of the electorate of this nation. (I'd be willing to wager another bet that more than half the population of the US has no clue as to what this man is doing to the country. Not as long as the freebies hold out at any rate). Actually, in some recent polls that have been run, the figure may be closer to 80%. Think I'm wrong? Try asking ten of your closest friends the name of the Vice President. If more than two know the answer, well then, you're hanging out with an informed crowd.

Now, as the nation bravely marches up to and then quickly on past the 17 trillion dollar debt marker, the only thing supporting this Ponzi scheme of a government is the Fed and Bernanke's mad printing press that running 24/7. When those presses stop, and they will, watch interest rates on worthless money become the standard overnight! Mission accomplished you leftist liberals – the Nation will sink into a civil war that will suit the new monarch Obama to a tee!

Monday, May 20, 2013

A hamburger throw down! Fast, frozen and homemade!

Hamburgers come to us in many ways; they can be made by hand, purchased premade and frozen, or bought at a fast food joint of which there are quite a few here in Forsyth Missouri. And, that go me to thinking... Just what was the cost and caloric impact of the three sources when compared to the overall taste? I decided I was just the man for the job!

Here were my ground rules for this meaty comparison. First off, I decided on comparing a simple cheeseburger, you know, something you might easily make at home and which would employ; 1) regular buns, 2) about 80 grams of meat, 3) a slice of American cheese and 4) standard condiments like onion, lettuce, ketchup and mustard. Sounds yummy to me!

The sources of my burgers for this test was to be McDonald's for the fast food candidate and a local grocery store for both the frozen patties and a package of raw ground beef. (I already had some cheese on hand). The frozen patty I chose was a precooked 73 gram offering from the folks at Hillshire people called Ball Park Flame Grilled patties, while the ground beef came out a package from the meat department. Let the burger battles begin!

Contestant #1 – McDonald's cheeseburger!
Where's da beef?

Calories: 300
Cost: $1.00
Taste: 9

Hochimama! What a meal deal and only 300 calories to boot! How in God's name do they do it? Add a medium fry and you'd have a great lunch that came in at $2.80 (after taxes) for about 680 calories! (A doable meal for us dieters assuming we exercise for about 40 minutes that day, so as to knock off 200 or so calories).

Contestant #2 – Ball Park's frozen patty cheeseburger!
Calories: 455
Cost: $1.15
Taste: 7

For this burger, I utilized standard hamburger buns (130 calories), a 73 gram frozen hamburger patty (230 calories) and a slice of American cheese (95 calories). Note to self: I still cannot figure out how McDonald's can keep their calorie count so damn low?? (That will be a subject for a future post. In the meantime, my suspicion is that there is almost no beef ).

The frozen patty was nuked in the microwave for a few minutes and the buns were toasted by placing them on top of a toaster (my unique trick). The cheese was added during the last 20 seconds of the microwave cooking cycle.

Contestant #3 – My homemade cheeseburger!

Calories: 323
Cost: $1.12
Taste: 8

Nothing, and I mean nothing beats a homemade burger fresh off the grill! (When I made this burger, I was so hungry, I forgot all about the cheese)! Coming in at about 100 grams of cooked beef, this burger was almost too much for its bun! So, why did I score it below McDonald's - 1) its slightly more expensive and 2) you just cannot compete with whatever it is that the Big M puts in their products!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Slow cooker meatloaf is easy to throw together!

Of all the recipes that I like to make in a slow cooker, meatloaf has to be right up there close to the top! Seriously! To me, a good meatloaf is one of the most quintessential comfort foods ever invented! It can be served as a part of a regular meal with gravy or as a cold sandwich – (my personal fav)! Note for a more formal recipe go here!

Talk about easy! When I make a meatloaf, I no longer look at a recipe – instead, I assemble it from memory. In general, I start with a package of hamburger meat (whatever is on sale), two eggs, 2 slices of bread, ½ a med bell pepper, a quarter of an onion, a splash of milk and an 8 ounce can of tomato sauce. I basically dump in everything except the milk, tomato sauce and bread. Knead the mixture a bit with my hands and then shred the bread into small pieces while adding half the tomato sauce and just a splash of milk. This pretty 'goopy' mix is kneaded again and formed into a loaf. See easy greasy!

When the loaf assembly was finished. I prepare a base for it to sit on by placing three medium
potatoes that have been peeled and cut into 1 ½ inch slices. These are placed on the bottom of the slow cooker and a splash of water is then added around the base of the potatoes. I then take two one foot lengths of foil which are folded into two inch strips and placed over the potatoes in a 'cross' pattern. Finally, in goes the meat mix which is formed into a loaf. Over this is poured the rest of the contents of the tomato sauce, the pot is covered and set to cook on low for about 7 to 8 hours. Serves 4.

The end result offers up a number of meals for not a lot of money. I spent about $5 on the ingredients and estimate I'll get about 5-7 sandwiches out of it. The potatoes also go great with other meals I have planned for the week!

Monday, May 6, 2013

How to break a diet in sixty seconds!

There comes a point in every diet, a tipping point as it were, where the urge to just PIG OUT becomes unbearable! And whenever I am thinking this way, I invariably turn to McDonald's as the chief despoiler of my carefully crafted weight loss program.

Next to pasta (diet dynamite), white bread (a total sugar rush) and potatoes (tubers from Hell), McDonald's has got to rank right up there as a diet busting destination of culinary choice. I'm not sure what it is that drives me to kill a diet in this particular way when all those other guys are right at hand in my kitchen. Maybe they sprinkle their french fries with a light dusting of nicotine and opium! And maybe that's why after eating an extra large batch of fries, I feel so damn good.

And those cheeseburgers! You know, the ones that cost only a buck! Man-o-man, I don't even want to go there. I can gobble this combo of burger and fries down in just under a New York minute! Wham-bam thank you ma'am! And, there went 700 calories right on down the old chute where magically they get converted to a pound of fat on the spot. (If you think I'm kidding, just order up this combo for a week and check out your weight gain)!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming McDonald's for my affliction. And, I've even managed to refrain from indulging not more than once a week. But, I gotta tell you, the Big M is never far from my glutinous thoughts!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Random Thoughts for May 2013!

 Was Israel right to strike Syria?

You betcha! The restraint this country has shown should be set as a model for all the nations of the world to see. The people of Israel are caught between a meat grinder of extreme Islamists countries whose sole purpose on this planet seems to be to carry forward the work of Satan himself! And even though the removal of the Stalinist Assad could prove to be problematic, (especially if the Islamic Brotherhood replaces him), it was still good for me to see that this nation has the conjones that we seem to be sorely lacking as of late! I know everyone is war weary, but the truth be told - evil never rests!

Is our president a little bit strange?

Whenever I see President Obama getting ready to make a statement of any kind whatsoever, I find Helter Skelter)! And, I'm pretty sure his excuses will sound lame no matter what the topic. My viewing embarrassment only gets more heightened whenever it's Jay Carney on the podium and on the defense. (I often wonder how he's able to continued talking with such a straight face)?

I feel a little embarrassed, both for him and myself. It seems to me, now a days, that most all his comments are in defense of some new boondoggle going on in what has become a chaotic and out of control Washington quagmire. (Think Charlie Manson's apoplectic vision of Helter Skelter)!

I'll forever remember a line out of the movie Josey Wales – about the old Indian and how the White Man was always sneaking up on them Indians with ill intent. (The President even gave these 'Civilized tribes' medals for looking so darn civilized don't you know)? The Indian tribes were told to 'endeavor to persevere' – and when they had thought about it long enough, they declared war on the Union! Good for them! Maybe we should do the same if things don't improve..

That's what I would have done! Make a really deadly flu!

A team of Chinese researchers have deliberately created deadly new strains of influenza in a veterinary laboratory — and are now on the receiving end of severe criticism from across the wider scientific community. The controversial research, carried out at China’s National Avian Influenza Reference Laboratory at Harbin Veterinary Research Institute, has mixed the H5N1 bird-flu virus — which is lethal but not easily transmitted between humans — with a 2009 strain of H1N1 that is very infectious to humans. That’s a bad combination as far as humankind is concerned. (Think the movie Contagion times 100)! It might seem, sometimes, that we are our worst enemy...

Democrats in retro-action!

After perusing the internet today, I've come to the conclusion that there exists a significant group of Americans (which I personally label Far Left-Winger Democrats or FLWD's) who are bound and determined to turn over all our rights to the government, and by any means possible! Not only that, but they also seem rather determined to disarm us in the bargain! (I'm guessing they're worried that we all might wake up someday and realize that the Feds have gone rouge on us). And, California, with the recent passage of SB 140 is leading the pack!

In the past, whenever I've tried talking reasonably to a 'FLWD', I've ended up walking away with two lasting impressions – 1) that they’ve been totally brainwashed by the Media and 2) that they'd rather have someone else in control of their lives. (Like a Big Brother perhaps).

Not a single one of these 'useful idiots' can stand up to the pressure of anyone who asks them informed and thoughtful questions. (Under such pressure, they simply get mad and try to make the topic into an emotional issue). As an example, please read up on the California bill SB 140 (which recently passed), and see if you can equate it with this statement by Senate President (Pro-Tem) Darrell Steinberg concerning SB 140.

"Today, each California community is a step closer to being safer," He said. “This swift action by the Legislature and the Governor to enforce the laws we already have is a wise and worthy investment to reduce gun violence."

Wait! Reread that statement again...'laws we already have'?? What he's saying is that they're dumping 24 million tax payer dollars into law enforcement coffers to aid them in enforcing laws that they were supposed to be already enforcing as a daily part of their jobs! Huh? This is what I call a 'feels so good' expenditure of hard earned tax payer money. And, by golly, it must be 'totally awesome' to be a state that's so well off financially (ahem), that they can afford such seemingly redundant actions!

It's a sad comment on the state of this country that we have people like Mr. Steinberg among us. Sadder yet, that they are in positions of power. That's my opinion anyway...

Thursday, May 2, 2013

A micro study of our government at work!

If ever there was a good example of governmental FUBARism on a micro scale, it'd be the Army Corps of Engineers and how they recently responded to a request to slow down traffic in a local park near Forsyth Missouri!

Here's the setup! It seems that some fishermen, in their eagerness to get to the boat ramp at this park would sometimes exceed the posted speed limit of 10 mph! Apparently, this activity was disturbing to other campers in the park, and so a simple solution was embarked upon.

Simple solution: A couple of speed bumps costing a few bucks each would have been quite adequate and would have solved the problem neatly without much ado. (At least, that's how it seemed to me)!

The Government's solution: So, what did the Corps of Engineers actually do? They purchased a bunch of 'stop' and 'yield' signs that they posted all over the park and which, in retrospect, look completely ridiculous! In addition, I'd guess each of the seven signs cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 and while they might look pretty, it was amusing to watch the people entering and leaving the park completely ignore them. (After all, even the slowest of those who dwell among us can figure out that the roads in the park are not enforceable by the local police). Duh! So, while I kinda understand this effort, I cannot applaud the expense.