Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Day 26 Continued, 27, and 28

After my boyfriend picked me up from the airport on Sunday, he told me he wanted to stop in Fort Collins and get some Chinese food (unfortunately, Laramie has some very mediocre Chinese food...). He already had a place picked out, too - China Wok, which has an 88% rating on Urbanspoon.

We both ordered a ton of Sesame Chicken, which happened to come with broccoli. And the boyfriend absolutely loved it. Of course, he ate around the broccoli...but nevertheless, the whole time we spent driving away from that place, he kept talking all about how awesome it was and hot satisfied he was. And for $20, we ended up with enough food for leftovers. I ate some on Sunday, yesterday, and today. Actually, the only other thing I've actually eaten was a bowl of broccoli cheedar soup from McAllister's, after my boyfriend complained yesterday of being sooo hungry and really wanted McAllister's (even though he'd eaten it twice while I was gone).

Monday, January 27, 2014

Day 22-26: Phoenix!

This will be a fairly large post with a lot of photos, since I'm compiling all of my trip to Phoenix in a single post - lot's of pictures, and lot's of general reviews of places my friend took me to.

There were a few photos I didn't get - one on the second day of the trip of some fish tacos, another of a few vegetables my friend's mother cooked up, and another of a meal on Friday, mainly because we were eating outside and I could not get a picture that wasn't too dark without using flash (and we were in a fairly crowded place, so I didn't want to draw a lot of attention to our table).

Day 1
 Breakfast was more or less a pack of mini donuts I grabbed from the gas station while my friend, who drove me to the airport, was getting gas. I suppose I didn't get a photo of that either, but in case you're wondering - they were chocolate.

We left for Denver at 8:00 in the morning, arrived at DIA at 10:30, and my flight got into Phoenix around 2:30. So, I was pretty hungry by the time he picked me up.

He took me to Fez, which has an 88% rating on Urbanspoon. We ordered some spicy hummus as an appetizer, and we both ordered black bean burgers.

The black bean burger was excellent - it came with goat cheese, onions, and tomatoes.The goat cheese really made the burger, too (of course, I'm admittedly a huge fan of goat cheese). 

The hummus was good too, except it was loaded with chili powder - to the point there was way way way way too much. They probably could have put about half of the amount of chili powder in the hummus and it would have been fine. It was still good, especially with the warm pita bread - but there was definitely too much chili powder (and it wasn't really that spicy, either.)

Overall, I did enjoy the atmosphere, and the place was neatly decorated. But it did feel a bit overpriced (of course I'm young, so that's a relative term), and of course the hummus was just okay. But I would go back there, especially because there were a few other menu items I would have loved to have tried.

That night, before we met another friend of his, he took me to Raising Cane's, where we split a large basket of chicken. I had never heard of Raising Cane's before, and assumed it was maybe a southwest chain....until I saw a location in Fort Collins yesterday. Whoops.

You see those things of fry sauce? There were five of them given to us with the platter, and my friend used four of them. I didn't even use a whole one. 

My friend insisted that this place was better than Chick fil a, but honestly...I just thought it was okay. It was fast food. Though I did enjoy the toast (which we substituted for cole slaw, because neither of us really cares for cole slaw). I would return to Raising Cane's if I had to...but I would generally prefer Chick-fil-a or another similar option.

The next day, my friend had to work, and his mom took me out for a few hours. I ate some fish tacos for lunch at Rubio's. Again...it was okay. This is one of the meals I failed to get a picture of, though I did find the menu item online.

I love fish tacos, but again, this was just...okay. I felt like the batter on the fish was pretty bland, as was the fish itself. Even the sauce had very little taste. I got two avocado corn fish tacos, shown above.

My friend's mom cooked up some green chilis, mushrooms, and cauliflower later on, which I ate as a snack.

Later, my friend and I went out for taco's at America's Taco Shop, which has a 90% rating on urbanspoon. We both ordered Carne Asada Burritos and coke. The carne asada burrito was excellent.

The next day, while he was at work, I ended up walking to Thai Hut. Thai Hut was interesting, because although it was a Thai place, the building they're located in used to be a diner. Moreover, the outside has a red roof that somewhat resembles an old dine-in Pizza Hut. Thai Hut has an 88% rating on Urbanspoon. Though what's particularly notable about the place - they were really fast. I ordered Yellow Curry chicken for lunch, which came with soup and a spring roll. The soup and the spring roll were probably out to me not even 2-3 minutes after I placed my order, and my curry chicken was out to me very shortly after. And best of all - it was all delicious.

That night, we had dinner at Delux Burger. Delux interested me for many reasons - first off, they're a "gourmet burger" place located in a strip mall next to a Safeway - not the kind of place you'd expect to find "gourmet" anything, in my experience. In addition, they also sold both burgers and sushi - an unusual combination of foods. Though the best thing about it, in my opinion, was their beer menu - after having less-than-optimal luck at finding new beers to drink (which I'll discuss more in depth at the end of this post), I was excited for an opportunity to try some beers that can't be found in either Wyoming or Colorado. My friend ordered a White Rascal from Avery Brewing (after I encouraged him to branch off from only drinking Stella), his date ordered a Milk Stout from Left Hand, and I ordered Kilt Lifter from Four Peaks Brewing.

Oddly, I wasn't really feeling either a burger or sushi, so I ended up ordering a salad with Mahi-Mahi - which I was unable to take a picture of because we sat outside, and it was dark. However, I did manage to get a picture of the fries my friend ordered for the three of us to share - which came in a neat little shopping cart basket.

Delux has a 88% rating on Urbanspoon. And while I don't think it's not undeserved, there were a few things about our experience there that I wasn't too happy with.

When I ordered my salad, the waiter asked if I wanted fish with it. Granted, I should have asked how much extra the fish would cost - but I ended up with a small piece of Mahi-Mahi for an extra $7! The salad itself was only $9 to begin with. Again, it is my fault for not asking how much the extra fish would be, but I'll also note that I did not see the option of adding extras to salads on the menu (again, this could have been completely my fault). Nevertheless, it felt a little sneaky to me.

 But the other thing that was sort of odd about our night there was the fact that our waiter seemed pretty friendly towards us until my friend's friend (date?) showed up. My friend wondered if the guy caught onto the fact that they were a gay couple - which may or may not have been the case. Though I will admit that the waiter did seem to come around to our table a lot less once our third person showed up.

Oh, and before eating at Delux, I did order a cookie at Copper Star Coffee, which probably had more chocolate chips than any other cookie I've ever eaten. (The picture quality is terrible because my phone was running out of battery and did not want to focus.)

The next day, while my friend was working, I indulged in a guilty pleasure I'd been looking forward to the entire trip - In N' Out! Behold - a double double animal style burger with animal style fries. Yum!

By the way, it took probably 15-20 minutes to get my food at In N' Out - not because they were slow, but because they were so damn busy. The only other fast food place I've seen with as many people is Chick-fil-a.

That night, we ate at Pita Jungle, where I ordered a pita pizza with spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta cheese. My friend and I also got hummus as an appetizer - again. And we opted for three different kinds of hummus, which came with two slices of pita bread (we ended up needing two more, and it still wasn't quite enough).

The food was delicious, of course - but something that particularly stuck out about this place was the way they collected feedback. When they gave you your receipt, they also gave you a tablet with a few "feedback questions" about your service, the food, and the atmosphere.

And finally, after a few days out of town, I ended my trip in Phoenix with a banana nut muffin from Copper Star.

One thing I did not mention here was the alcohol (except for the alcohol I ordered at Delux). You see, my friend and I went out every night we were there, and on my trip, I learned that mixed drinks and alcohol culture is sometimes a very regional thing.

You see, on the 22nd, the first drink I attempted to order is a favorite of mine, a Redd's and Fireball, which is exactly what it sounds like - a bottle of Redd's Apple Ale mixed with a shot of Fireball Whiskey. Well, the bar we were at didn't actually carry Redd's, or any cider for that matter. So I moved on, asking what kind of beer they had - and it was mostly a mix of your "domestic beers". I finally ordered a White Russian - thankfully the bartender knew how to make that.

However, my friend's other best friend and I got to talking that night about alcohol across the country, and we especially talked about beer. He said that he didn't feel like beer was a big cultural thing around the Phoenix area, after I ordered a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale (and after having that bartender list all their beers before settling on that one...oof). Of course, I'm sure that many people in Phoenix drink beer, and enjoy beer - otherwise, places like Delux Burger wouldn't serve a whole bunch of different types of beer. But another funny thing happened that night - after that same guy told me he was drinking a Vodka and Redbull, I suggested he try ordering a Trashcan, which has Redbull in it. But when he did, the bartender insisted she couldn't make it because the can of Redbull wouldn't fit in the glass. Except I've seen it done, and the can of redbull would have fit just fine in the aforementioned glass (though I didn't want to be the person who tells somebody how to do their job).

I also had a drink made for me on Friday night, a "Citrusy" drink - though I don't actually know what was in it. And when I asked the bartender what it was called, he pretty much shrugged and said it didn't have a name. (This happened after my friend encouraged it.) I've never thought of actually asking a bartender just to make something up - though this drink turned out quite good, and even my friend really liked it.

In a nutshell, that was my week and Phoenix - regarding food. Tl;dr - it was all pretty much delicious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Day 21: Jinny John's, Macaroni and Cheese

I'd forgotten to mention yesterday that my boyfriend ordered me a sandwich from Jimmy John's the night before. Here's what he got me:

Yesterday, I ate half of the sandwich that I hadn't eaten the night before, and some Kraft mac and cheese.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Day 20: Cereal, Stir Fry, Home Made Hummus

Don't forget the leftover sitr fry!

The hummus was actually made by a friend of mine. I plan on making my own very soon!

Monday, January 20, 2014

Day 19: Leftovers, Leftovers, and More Leftovers.

Seriously, yesterday was a day of leftovers - I ate the rest of my lobster fettuccine from Biaggi's, and some leftover stir-fry from the other night. Not very exciting.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Day 18: Lobster Fettuccine and Salad, Stir Fry

Yesterday I met my mom in my sister in this shopping center in Loveland, where we ended up going to Biaggi's. I was going to order the lobster fettuccine regardless, but they happened to have a half-pasta, half salad deal - so I got that, with the Caesar salad.

Yes, those are black fettuccine noodles. They're honestly not that different from normal noodles.

After a quick stop in Cheyenne for some Chick-fil-a for the boyfriend (he LOVES Chick-fil-a...like a lot), I got home and wasn't feeling too hungry. But boyfriend wanted to make stir fry for dinner, which we ended up making around 8:00.

This stir fry was probably the best I've ever made. In the past, I've tended to add too much Teriyaki sauce. It was still good, but I thought this time's tasted much better and slightly more wholesome overall.

  • 2 chicken breasts, cut into smaller chunks
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup snap peas
  • 1 can baby corn
  • 1 green pepper, cut into matchsticks
  • 1 tbsp. Red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

Cut chicken into cubes and cook in skillet with olive oil until outsides are white. Chop vegetables into medium-sized chunks. Add remaining vegetables, spices, and sauces and cook over medium heat until chicken is done, stirring about every 1-2 minutes. Serve over rice.

 This stuff was GOOD. The red pepper really made this - it was spicy, but not overwhelming. Next time, I may try this without the store-bought teriyaki sauce and just use soy sauce and brown sugar, with more ginger. I also would have liked to have added water chestnuts and broccoli, but the boyfriend never would have agreed to eat it otherwise. The amount of red pepper was just about perfect, though. And it makes for good leftovers!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Day 17: The Library, Drinks

Yesterday was weird.

At lunchtime, boyfriend asked me if I wanted to go anywhere to eat, and I told him I didn't really want to spend anymore money right now, so that I can make sure I have enough money for when I'm in Phoenix next week. He told me he would pay for my lunch, so I agreed.

We ended up going to The Library, which is pretty much a staple in this town. In February, they shut the doors to their old location while they started construction on a new building in downtown Laramie. The new building opened in September, though until recently, they didn't have any of their own beers available (they're also a brewery!).

For lunch, neither of us were in the mood for alcohol, though I ordered an Inferno (a BLT with jalapeno bacon and guacamole) and a side house salad with blue cheese dressing. Boyfriend ordered the same sandwich, though without tomatoes and guacamole. The inferno is probably one of my favorite things to order at The Library, though they also have pretty decent pizza, macaroni and cheese bites, wings, and when they have it - beer.

Side note: never order the hot wings at The Library if you don't eat a lot of spicy food. While they're not unbearably spicy for some people, they are spicier than most wing sauces at most chain restaurants. (I'm also not a fan of the flavor - I think the jalapeno flavor comes out too strongly in the hot wings.)

The Library has an 81% rating on Urbanspoon. The overall reviews on the site aren't terrible - most of the "negative" reviews just say the service is sub-par and the beer is just "okay". We've had issues with service in the past,  but nothing awful since they've reopened.

The one thing I will say about their new location is that it doesn't seem to have as much character as their old location. Their new location has a lot of televisions hanging around the dining area and bookshelves to go with their name - but it's obviously a new building, a much larger one at that, that seems to lack the same "charm" as their old location (pictured below).

I ended up ordering too much food and took half of my sandwich home, which I ate for dinner.

Around 8:00, a friend invited me out (and since I had previously supplied beer for past social functions, she pretty much bought all of my beer). We started at Front Street Tavern, where we drank two pitchers of....well, I can't even remember. The first was a strong, dark stout...and the second was something from Odell. But honestly, I hadn't eaten much that day, definitely not as much as I should have eaten, and I failed to remember the names of both drinks.

However, we did stop in at The Library, because my friend informed me that their new beers are now available! Yay! I had a blueberry pomegranate ale, and honestly...I can't remember how it tasted. It sounds tasty. I want to believe it was tasty. But I really don't remember. I drank way more than I expected last night. Whoops.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Day 16: Pan-Fried Burgers, More Egg Noodles.

I ended up making myself some more egg noodles yesterday for lunch, since they're simple and tasty.

For dinner, boyfriend pan-fried some burgers, seasoned with seasoned salt. I only ate one of them with two slices of cheese and fry sauce...he, on the other hand, ate three of them!

There's an awkward thumb mark in the bun. Whoops.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Day 15: Eggnoodles With Butter and Cajun Seasoning, Cornbread, More Broccoli and Cheddar Soup.

So on Tuesday, I booked a flight for next week through Spirit to visit my best friend down in Phoenix. It was a pretty cheap flight, but when I looked at my bank account, I realized I had less money than I thought I did. Whoops! So, I'll have to be fairly careful with how I spend my money, so the next month could be pretty boring food-wise (except for next week's trip, because I made sure to allocate money for that).

That said, my boyfriend did buy me lunch (he wanted either subway or McAllister's again, so I picked McAllister's so I could get some more broccoli cheddar soup in a bread bowl), and I did cook up some egg noodles last night with butter that ended up being pretty tasty. I also finally ate the last piece of cornbread. Yay!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Day 14: More Ordinary Food.

That was last night's dessert. I was craving chocolate.

Today, it was more leftover chili, some more homemade chicken tenders and french fries, and another bagel with the last of the stuffed mushroom spread.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Day 13: Stuffed Peppers, Leftover Chili

I didn't bother taking anymore leftover chili photos, because at this point, everybody tuning in knows what my chili and bowls look like. (Side note: I bought 8 of those bowls at a yardsale two and a half years ago for a dollar - never buy new dishes unless you really care about your stuff matching).But that was my lunch.

But tonight I made stuffed peppers. I'm trying to find new recipes that my boyfriend will eat and things he is unfamiliar with. I used my crockpot, mostly because that's the way I remember my mom making them - although she mostly filled them with Spanish rice. That was actually my original plan, but the boyfriend has a thing against rice that isn't plain, unless it's mixed with chicken and buffalo sauce, so I avoided a rice-only stuffed pepper, opting for ground beef instead.

  • Approx 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 15-oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can green chilies
  • 3 stalks of celery
  • 1/2 onion, minced
  • 1 tsp. creole seasoning
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
Cut tops off green peppers and discard tops, insides, and seeds. Brown ground beef. Just before ground beef is finished cooking, add minced onion and celery. When beef is done, stir in remaining ingredients. Add mixture to peppers in crockpot and cook on low for 6-7 hours.

Overall, these were...okay. I prefer them with rice. But one thing I did not do was drain the can of diced tomatoes and green chilies at all, and a lot of liquid ended up pooling in the bottom of the crockpot, and the green peppers became really soft and sort of watery. Boyfriend thought that the meat tasted good, but the dish overall with the pepper was bland. This is definitely a good starter recipe, but if I made it again, I would probably use less beef, add some rice, and some other sources of flavor - perhaps some Worcestershire sauce?

I actually made three of these, but boyfriend ate one before I got home. Also, I didn't realize how bad the photo quality was before I'd already eaten another. Whoops!

Day 12: Buffalo Wild Wings, Cornbread, Snacks.

Even though the above picture is horribly blurry, at least it shows pretty much exactly what I ate yesterday.

The boyfriend and I ended up going down to Denver to pick up a friend from the airport. The night before, I had asked if he would be okay with suggesting we go to a restaurant down there, The Jerusalem Restaurant in Denver. It's a little out of our way, but restaurants like that up here are basically nonexistent, and we've both eaten there before.

So then his friend got in the car and suggested Buffalo Wild Wings, and boyfriend immediately said okay. And apparently didn't hear me when I asked, "What about that other place we wanted to go to?" Okay. So we went to Buffalo Wild Wings. Which, don't get me wrong, I do like, but we can get that almost anywhere (except where we actually live). At least the friend bought us lunch. I got a grilled chicken wrap with Asian Zing sauce and onion rings.

I didn't really feel much like eating again that day, so I mostly just ate some more leftover cornbread and some chips and kiwiw.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Day 11 Continued: Bagels with Leftover Stuffed Mushroom Spread, Chips, Raspberry Brown Ale

I had some leftover spread from the stuffed mushrooms from yesterday, so I saved it and spread it on a bagel. It makes sort of an odd spread, but considering most of it is cream cheese, it wasn't bad.

I also indulged and bought my favorite chips - Baked Barbecue Lays.

And right now, I'm drinking a Raspberry Brown Ale from New Belgium.

Day 10 Continued, Day 11 - Leftover Chili and Cornbread.

It's pretty boring, but this was both last night's dinner and today's lunch.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Day 10: Spinach Stuffed Mushrooms

Today I made stuffed mushrooms for the second time ever, using spinach that was leftover from last week's Chicken and Gnocchi Soup. I knew my boyfriend probably wasn't going to touch anything with spinach in it, so I knew I was on my own. I decided to experiment with using it in stuffed mushrooms, and I ended up with something that would probably be perfect for a St. Patrick's Day-Themed Potluck.

They look sort of weird, but they were actually quite tasty! Here is the recipe I used:

  • 1 package of baby portobello mushrooms.
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • 1 8-oz block of chive and onion flavored cream cheese
  • 2 Tablespoons of butter
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 tsp. Creole seasoning
  • 1-1.5 tablespoons of white wine
Remove stems from the mushrooms and chop them up fine. Set aside mushroom caps. Chop spinach (I used my food processor). Heat a skillet to medium heat and add chopped mushroom stems, spinach, cream cheese, butter, seasoning, garlic, and white wine until well mixed. Generously spoon mixture into mushroom caps. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes.

The chive and onion cream cheese was more or less a fluke - when shopping the other day, there were no small blocks of unflavored cream cheese, and I figured chive and onion would taste better in a mushroom than, say, honey nut cream cheese.

Here are photos from the process:

Finally, I ate these with a side of leftover cornbread.

Day 9: Sandwiches, Burgers, Cheese Fries.

I didn't take any pictures yesterday, mostly because I forgot. Whoops. But we literally ate out for every meal....also bad. But anyways...it started when my boyfriend asked me if I wanted to go to lunch. He only had half an hour, so we just went to Subway. I got a turkey sandwich on Italian herbs and cheese bread with provolone cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, black olives, banana peppers, and spicy mustard (should have just done oil and vinegar, whoops). Here's a realistic picture of a sandwich I found on the internet, one that's not all fluffed up and plastic.

Speaking of which, this reminds me of a photo I saw on Reddit yesterday:

We did end up getting burgers later, at the Five Guys in Cheyenne. It was just before we went over there to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which is not playing in town. Though, to be honest, I was more than happy to not pay $8 to see a movie on a screen I could potentially install in my apartment.

Interestingly, a Google search of images for "Five Guys Burgers" does not yield any fake advertisement burgers.

My burger had ketchup, mustard, grilled onions, lettuce, and tomato. Normally, I would just order everything, but I've found that doing so results in a very messy burger, and I'd prefer to keep my hands clean. (Actually, a friend who came along for the ride did order a burger with everything, and his did end up falling apart.)

Boyfriend and I shared an order of Cajun Fries.

When the movie ended, it was about 9:00. There was some buzz going on around the media about the possibility of seeing the Northern Lights, so we stopped in at Old Chicago for a few beers before heading out there. Boyfriend was hungry (yes, two hours after we'd eaten a full meal), so he ended up ordering some cheese fries.

They looked something like the above photo, except there were some green onions a lot more sour cream. Boyfriend looks at it and makes a comment along the lines of, "Why is there so much sour cream?" and ends up scraping as much as possible off his fries with a fork. I also caught him picking some green onions off his fries. And no, it's nothing I haven't seen before.

While we were there, I ended up drinking two beers: an Odell's Cutthroat Porter and a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale.

And in case you're wondering, we were not able to see the northern lights. Apparently, the geomagnetic storm came in weaker than expected, and it looks like nobody in our part of the country was able to see them.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Day 8: Egg and Cheese Sandwich on Wheat, Carmelized Onions, Chili and Cornbread

I'm a day late posting this, but I did actually take pictures of everything.

I made myself another egg sandwich for lunch yesterday, but it wasn't until I had already started making the egg when I realized that my boyfriend had eaten the last bagel in the house. Whoops. So I used the only thing we had: Walmart Brand Wheat Bread. The bread itself is pretty bland, and it was sort of stale to begin with, so the sandwich as a whole wasn't that great.

For dinner, my boyfriend and I decided on chili. Chili is an interesting dish, because I think everybody has their own way of making chili. I particularly remember offering to make chili for a group of friends in Boston, and at least two of them replied hesitantly with, "Well...I have my own way of making chili and I'm very picky about it." One of them was from Texas, and I've heard they tend not to use beans. I tend to make a more savory chili, though I've tried plenty of sweeter chilis.

My chili yesterday was pretty simple - I used the ingredients below, plus spices. One thing that differs from a lot of other people's recipes is that I usually use stew meat, as opposed to ground beef.

I start by cutting the stew meat into even smaller chunks and cooking it.

At the same time, cook the onions in butter until they start appearing translucent. (I use a whole onion and cut it into large strips, but you can use less onion if you prefer.)

Add the green pepper, cook that for a few minutes, then add the cooked meat.

Then add the diced tomatoes, beans, beer, and spices. To season the chili, I used chili powder, cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt and pepper.

Normally, I would use a beer with a stronger flavor, but some friends left some Bud Light here a few months ago, and this is probably the only way either of us are going to use the Bud Light.

Anyways, let the chili simmer for a few hours at a low temperature, and serve with some cheese and a side of cornbread.

This is my go-to cornbread recipe. I find it to be not as dry as most cornbread recipes, though yesterday's batch was a bit drier than normal. I also cut into it almost as soon as it came out of the oven, because I was hungry.

Also, yesterday afternoon's snack was caramelized onions, made from half an onion I had leftover from another time. These were made with butter, white wine, and brown sugar.