Friday, September 19, 2014

Great Quotes To Live By

Happy Friday, LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

This is my 128th blog post this year, which officially makes this year - 2014 - the year of the most LilyOnTheLam blog posts.  (Suck it, 2012!  Your record is broken!)  For those of you who regularly read - thank you for your interest/support/morbid curiosity!  And click some ads while you're here, baby needs to make some money!

As Ferris Bueller says in the classic John Hughes movie, "Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it."  I feel like my life is moving at 500 miles per hour and recently I have been telling myself to slow down and remember a certain moment - how it made me feel, what I liked, what I disliked ... and truly enjoy what I can when I can.  I've been trying to keep a journal (yes, on top of already writing on LilyOnTheLam - what can I say?), but I have not been making it as much of a priority as I should.

I have been having a lot of adventures and have another whirlwind month of adventures coming up.  It's exciting and hectic and sometimes scary, but it is the chaos that is my life. 

I stumbled upon a quote on Thursday that very much summarized how I feel - I had never heard it before, have no idea where it came from other than an annotation of "Pinterest" (um is that an acceptable crediting in the MLA Style Guide??)  So I have no idea who first uttered this quote, but whomever you are - it's a good one.

"If you can't stand for me, 
then don't lean on me."

Ooof!  That is sooooo good!  I consider myself loyal and emotionally generous.  Sadly I have encountered those who wouldn't stand on my behalf but yet have no issue asking me for help.  The line between emotionally generous (and generous with time, money, friendship, etc.) and doormat gets hazy!  I have to remind myself the adage "surround yourself with people who have your best interests in mind."  

I am too fickle to get a tattoo - I can't think of anything I would want on my body forever.  However, "If you can't stand for me, then don't lean on me" is something I would strongly consider if I ever did get a tattoo.  

The quote is SO TRUE!  TOO TRUE!  

So on this Friday before entering what is probably a well-deserved weekend, I hope you make yourself a top priority - and surround yourself with people who will stand for you when needed.  Life is short, follow your heart! 

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Excuse Me, Is That A Sandwich In Your Drink or Are You Just Happy To See Me? Hash House A Go Go, Orlando Florida

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

I hope this day is finding you the best and brightest that you can possibly be!

If you are a regular reader of LilyOnTheLam, you will know that I have recently spent some time in Orlando Florida with a one Mr. Cardamom Monroe, internationally renown Hello Kitty fan, looking for homes for sale.  Mr. CM is being relocated to Florida and needs surroundings suitably lush to be called "Lily East."  As I have always been good at spending other people's money, I was more than happy to accompany Mr. CM on his house hunting expedition.

Mr. CM's Realtor had told us that the Las Vegas restaurant Hash House A Go Go had opened a location in Orlando.  The restaurant bills itself as having "Twisted Farm Food."  Now if you want to fully understand who LilyOnTheLam is as a person, you need to know the following things:

1)  LilyOnTheLam likes breakfast - and all things in hash form.

2)  LilyOnTheLam likes houses.

3)  LilyOnTheLam likes anything and everything "a go go."

4)  LilyOnTheLam is pretty twisted.

So I insisted that Mr. CM take me to Hash House A Go Go for Sunday brunch.  

The food itself was scary.  I thought the Cheesecake Factory had large portions.  This place makes Cheesecake Factory look like a starvation camp diet plate.  Mr. CM and I were served these gargantuan platters of food, covered in sauces and gravies.

I had the entree best known for its appearance on the TV show "Man Vs. Food":  The Fried Chicken Eggs Benedict.

It is sage fried chicken with fresh spinach, bacon, tomato, griddled mozzarella, chipotle cream and scrambled eggs on grilled mashed potatoes - all on a fresh split biscuit.  With a gigantic steak knife (a.k.a. dagger) stuck in the middle of it.  Since I'm not currently planning on engaging in a killing spree, I was a bit amiss as to what to do with this weaponry.

The fried chicken eggs benedict might as well have been a bowl of mashed potatoes drowning in very hot chipotle cream gravy because that is all I tasted.  The spicy factor seared my tastebuds and the rest just tasted like one note incredibly fatty, heavy blandness.  

If you like massive portions of overly spiced, doughy tasting food covered in gravy, you'll love this fried chicken benedict (which is not a traditional eggs benedict whatsoever).  But I was unhappy.  I ate about 1/6th of this monstrosity and felt sick to my stomach.  (And trust me, my stomach is used to eating some heavy duty fatty foods.)

This was a "Hash House A No No."

Mr. Cardamom Monroe went with some egg thing - if I remember correctly this is the Farm Scramble.  But I could be wrong, I was too busy wishing I had ordered a waffle instead.

Mr. CM was not impressed with his meal either.  We looked sadly at the table of waffles and pancakes next to us.  WHY, WHY, WHY didn't I just order a pancake as big as my head?  I had to go "all fancy" and get the "as seen on TV" entree.  

I would definitely go back to Hash House A Go Go to try one of their monster pancakes but I will steer clear of the eggs on potatoes on biscuit dishes - no flavor!

But there is one bright spot of my brunch at Hash House A Go Go.  I wanted to start my meal with a Bloody Mary.  The server asked "a regular Bloody Mary or a BLT Bloody Mary?" What?  I was intrigued!  What is a BLT Bloody Mary?  The server said "It's like a Bloody Mary with a BLT on the side."  Mr. Cardamom Monroe and I looked at each other, still not comprehending what this cocktail was supposed to be.  But we decided in this land of twisted farm food, it's either "Go big or go home!" so I ordered the BLT Bloody Mary.

Out comes a spicy bloody mary with a large romaine leaf submerged in the drink, a piece of beefsteak tomato and a cold piece of bacon.  At the base of the drink is a square of sandwich bread-looking melba toast and a packet of mayonnaise.  An interactive cocktail!

I slathered the melba toast with mayo and then began the assembly.  I pulled out the wet piece of romaine lettuce and placed it on the mayo-ed toast, then the tomato and then the bacon.  I really liked the flavor of the lettuce since it had a generous soaking of my spicy Bloody Mary on it.  The tomato was tasty.  

The bacon however was too cold from sitting in the icy drink.  It had a heavy congealed fat taste to it.  Perhaps they could have given me a skewer and a candle so I could have warmed up the bacon table side?  The melba toast was nice but I would have preferred a slice of lightly toasted white bread as a BLT to me both has the crunch but also the softness of the bread.  Melba toast just has the crunch.

As far as restaurant gimmicks go, this was a cute one.  But probably not one I'd try often.  Because my entree was already food for 12, to have a drink with a side sandwich was just waaaaaay overboard.  I could hear my arteries hardening and my thighs expanding as our coffee cups were refilled.

I'd like to go back to Hash House A Go Go to have a pancake as big as my head.  They have them in traditional flavors (Banana, Brown Sugar, Apple Cinnamon) and non-traditional ones like Snickers, Strawberry Frosted Flake, Mango Coconut and Blackberry Granola.  They also have bacon waffles and sausage waffles.  I definitely need to go back to try a bacon waffle.  But I'll definitely pass on their non-traditional eggs Benedict platters.  I am not a fan of those! 

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New Product Wednesday: Lean Cuisine Monterey Jack Jalapeño Stuffed Pretzels

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers:

If you've been reading my posts this past week, you'll know that I have declared an anarchist state and have been posting "New Product Wednesday" reviews (reviews of products that are new or new to me) every day OTHER THAN WEDNESDAY.  Stop the madness and get this girl a calendar!

But TODAY is WEDNESDAY - and I have decided to honor "New Product Wednesday" on a Wednesday.  After all, I can be a traditionalist too.  As part of my sad and unhealthy "Summer of Processed Food" and search for comfort food while starting a new, stressful job; my eye spotted these little bad boys in my frozen food section!  Lean Cuisine Monterey Jack Jalapeño Stuffed Pretzels.

Now first check out the writing in the purple circle.  This small box has TWO servings of the 190 calorie pretzel bites each.  You get 4-5 pretzel bites per serving.  

I love a good pretzel.  I am an obsessed fan of jalapeños.  And I have been the President of the Cheese fan club since 1823.  I thought these pretzel bites would be amazing ... 

The verdict?  They're OK.  If I were on a strict diet and having a really intense comfort food craving, these pretzel bites might get me over the hump.  But in the taste and satisfaction department, ehhhh.  The pretzel crust was somewhat pretzel like. The cheese was a little spicy but didn't really taste like cheese.  It was bland and tasted watered down.  I ate four bites - 190 calories - and felt like I hadn't eaten anything.

I think I would have been more satisfied if I went to the mall, got an Auntie Anne's pretzel (340 calories each) and ate half of it with a half ounce slice of Pepper Jack cheese.  It'd be about 30 calories more than the Lean Cuisine pretzel bites, but I think my tastebuds and my stomach would be more satisfied.

Now that being said, if it's late at night and you want some lower calorie food that feels like higher calorie junk food; having a box of these in the freezer might be your answer.  But for me, it's just not bringing it in the taste department.  I most likely would not buy these again.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

In The Land Of Comfort Foods, I Am Not Comforted!

Hello LilyOnTheLam.Com Readers!

If you read yesterday's blog post, you'll know that I spent most of this summer eating processed food and just trying to keep my head above water in my new job.  

Thankfully I have found that shortchanging myself on sleep, barely moving and eating all processed food was the surefire remedy to killing myself - and have since changed course direction.  

But I have a TON of product reviews to write about from my "Summer of Processed Food," so even though it's not Wednesday I am going to do a "New Product Wednesday" product review where I write about a product that is new or at least new to me.

As I was stressed with my new job, I could tell I was definitely seeking comfort from food.  And one of my comfort food faves is macaroni and cheese - it's starch, carbs, cheese, fatty goodness.  What's not to love?  Sadly, if you read my post from yesterday I haven't found a lot of "love" back from these frozen, processed comfort foods.  Yesterday's post on Stouffer's Cheeseburger Mac macaroni and cheese cup was a bomb - and not in a good way.  So today we stay with the macaroni and cheese genre with a review of "all natural" Evol Chipotle Chicken Mac & Cheese.

This darling little box looked healthier than the other processed mac and cheese frozen options.  And it's name is "Love" spelled backwards.  Surely that stands for quality and mondo deliciousness, right?  Well to my tastebuds, Evol spells "Not Tasty" or "ytsat ton."

I had high hopes for this trendy looking box of designer mac and cheese.  I have a love for anything with the word chipotle in it.  I followed the product cooking directions and came up with this ...

The entree has a crumb topping.  I mixed up the mac and cheese and tried it.  It did taste smoky, but I couldn't see or taste any chicken.  It also was dry as the Sahara.  I think of mac and cheese as lush and saucy.  This is not a reduced calorie entree, so where is the sauciness of this mac and cheese.

It was better than Stouffer's cheeseburger mac cups, but not by much.  I ate four bites and threw it away.  I wasn't going to waste my calories on this entree.

Sorry Evol - I didn't love or evol your product.  No comfort found in this comfort food dish!

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!