Monday, September 15, 2014

Mucho Mustard: A Tale of Mac and Cheese Disappointment

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:  

I started a new job (same company, different group) early this summer.  I'm basically working three times harder for like 3 cents more a month.  Now I know I should be grateful that I have a job, but it's definitely been an adjustment because with triple work comes 100 times stress.  

At first, I was in survival mode - I stocked my freezer with microwaveable entrees that I could heat in 3 minutes and scarf down with my telephone on mute as I was on the 10th of 30 conference calls on any given day.  And I was constantly sitting from at least 6 a.m. - 3 p.m. straight.  I was lucky if I had a minute between conference calls to run to the bathroom.

Well as you may imagine, this processed food-no movement lifestyle quickly made me very sick.  I felt lethargic.  I started gaining weight.  Overall, I just felt unhealthy.  My first project manager I ever worked with at my company dropped dead at his work laptop, while he worked on a Saturday.  This is a sad fact that I had forgotten for several years, but it popped into my head lately.  Here's the deal - my company doesn't pay an extra bonus if you drop dead at your work computer on the weekend.  And frankly, my ghost is not going to have an upsurge of pride if I die "on the job."  In fact, my ghost will probably shriek "YOU DUMBASS!"  

So after several months of "just trying to keep it together" at the cost of my own health, I've turned the tide and am trying to keep a more balanced life.  My kitchen is filled with lots of produce from a farm stand in Plant City, Florida.  I wear my pedometer and I have a daily steps goal.  And I feel so much better.  Again a reminder that usually one needs to work smarter versus work harder.  

BUT from my triage/reactionary/just keep it together days, I have a ton of product reviews of processed food entrees!  So even though it is Sunday, let's declare it my "New Product Wednesday" day with a product review of Stouffer's Cheeseburger Mac flavor Mac Cups.  Portable, frozen, macaroni and cheese.



As my round belly will attest, I love comfort foods.  I love carbs, I love dairy, I love meat.  A cheeseburger mac macaroni and cheese cup sounded like heaven in plastic.

But ohhh, ohhhh I was WRONG, WRONG, WRONG.

Get a large spoon, fill it with French's plain yellow mustard, then insert it in your mouth and swallow the mustard.  This is what Stouffer's Cheeseburger Mac Cups taste like.  Now if you like plain yellow mustard, run to your store and buy as many of these mac cups as you want!  

BUT - if you're like me - who rarely ever likes plain yellow mustard (maybe on a really good hot dog, but otherwise fetch me some stoneground mustard or tarragon mustard or Grey Poupon, baby); then you're not going to like these cheeseburger mac cups.

They seriously had no flavor other than mustard.  It was not meaty.  It was not cheesy.  It was just mustardy.  The pack comes with two individual serving cups.  I took 2 bites and threw both cups away.  I wouldn't feed this to anyone I cared about.  

I had high hopes for these little cups of comfort food, but I was left sad and looking for something to wash out the mustard taste in my mouth.

Sorry Stouffer's, on this one I am going to pass!    

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Chocolate Homecoming - One of Lily's Favorite Desserts

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

I originally am from the Twin Cities - Minneapolis and St. Paul - of Minnesota.  While there are many, many, many wonderful aspects of the Twin Cities, the cold winters have kept me away from continuing to live there.  However, I try to go back once or twice a year to catch up with family and friends.

If you a regular reader of LilyOnTheLam.Com, you may realize that I have just a tiny bit of a sweet tooth.  OK, I love sugar!  I wish I didn't love it as much and I try not to indulge it too much (and by too much I mean 24 hours a day as opposed to my more prudent 22 hours a day of sugar consumption).  I don't smoke and even though my Instagram account may protest, I don't drink a lot of alcohol.  But sugar, yes that's the big monkey on my back.  Total addiction.

I joke that my Instagram account should be called "Booze and Desserts" because the majority of my photos are just that!  

Well one of my favorite desserts that hasn't made it to my Instagram account is from Wuollet's Bakery in Minnesota.  They have several locations in the Twin Cities, but I go to the one at their Grand Avenue location.  

They have a "Chocolate Whipped Cream Cake" that is instant sugar shock, but oh what a wonderful way to get zapped!  I only get a slice of this cake once every 2-3 years because it is so rich!  

This picture is actually two years old, from the last time I had a piece of this cake.  I had forgotten about it and recently stumbled upon the picture and knew I had to share on my blog.



You can buy this cake by the slice or in a 9 inch whole cake.  It has a moist chocolate base, the sweetest creamiest whipped cream filling, another slice of chocolate cake and a rich slathering of fudgy chocolate ganache with a whipped cream rosette.  It is heaven - rich, chocolatey, decadent, creamy, smooth, melt in your mouth, beyond compare cake.

It really is over the top on sweetness and richness, so unless you love a really rich dessert I would not recommend this one to those who don't worship ultra decadent desserts.

But for those who love decadence, get yourself over to Wuollet Bakery and have yourself a slice of this chocolate heaven!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Loopy Again: My New Snack Obsession (Day One)

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

If you didn't get a chance to check out yesterday's post about helping rebuild Cephas' Hot Shop in Ybor City (Tampa), Florida - please take a moment to read it.  (Thank you!)

Happy Saturday!  I hope your weekend is going well.  Mine is social event central- lots of fun activities with lots of amazing people!  Even though it is Saturday, I am going to declare it Wednesday as in my "New Product Wednesday" blog posts where I review products that are new or new to me.  

When I was in Virginia visiting "The First Lady of Lynchburg," I enviously noticed that she belonged to many "box of the month" subscription services.  Boxes of goodies and fun products arriving on your doorstep every month?  It's like Christmas every month!  When I returned from Virginia, I started researching "box of the month" subscriptions and was shocked to learn that there are hundreds, maybe thousands even of these box subscriptions - socks of the month, fruit of the month, vacation of the month ... who knew?  I was mesmerized by all the options! 

My sister Squidge has relocated from Minneapolis to Chicago for a new job.  I like Chicago a lot but I don't care for the cold, windy winters!  However in support of Squidge's new move and new home city, I have sent her two "box of the month" subscriptions.  One is the Japanese candy gift box Skoshbox; which I will review in a later blog post.  The other is Naturebox where you pick 5 treats to have mailed to you each month.



Side Note:  I'm thinking of starting a Kickstarter donation campaign to fund my new business "CatBox" - where for an annual fee, I'll send you pictures of some of my 1200 cats each month.  Who could resist pictures like this?


This cat was so bored listening to my work conference call that he flipped over on his back.

After ordering a Skoshbox subscription for my sister, I decided my step-dad needed a subscription too.  Then I thought the two little donut-loving stars of my 400th Blog Post also needed a monthly box of Japanese candy to share.  I received the CUTEST picture of them extremely happy with their box of candy!  

My sister received news of her NatureBox subscription first because a gift subscription notice is emailed to the recipient and they can then choose five products for their first NatureBox.  Squidge was so excited by this gift and said there were so many good "natural" snack choices.  

Well as much as I like giving gifts, I also like RECEIVING gifts - and in an impulsive mood, I ordered my own six month NatureBox subscription.  (As if I need more snacks in the house!)

My first box arrived rather quickly and I enjoyed all of my items, but one of the snacks in particular has set off a new SNACK OBSESSION.  It is NatureBox's Salt and Pepper Lentil Loops.  

Now I must say I have been a fan of "all things in LOOP form" since I was a small child.  (Check out my blog post on my recipe for Loopy Vodka cupcakes!)  So call a snack food "Loops" and I am all over it.  But LENTIL loops?  Really?  Could they be any good?


  
In a word:  "Freaking YES!"  These salt and pepper lentil loops are savory, spicy, tangy, crisp, crunchy and absolutely addictive!  I've already selected the five items for my next month's NatureBox and they are ALL these darn tasty treats.  Yes, five bags of lentil loops are headed my way in the next delivery.  Each bag has three servings that are 130 calories.  It is very difficult to stop eating these delicious, spicy loops o' lentil and potato.  I'm going to have to hire a security guard to keep me away from my pantry once these delicious morsels arrive!

If you're looking for a good gift idea or a great snack source, check out NatureBox.com and these yum-a-licious lentil loops!  

P.S. I was not compensated for this blog post.  However, if you want me to get some freebies too, sign up for NatureBox at this link and I'll get referral credits!