Monday, July 30, 2012

Zombie need brains....and burgers

Probably the  most popular eatery in Des Moines these days is Zombie Burger. It is fairly new, has an awesome theme to it, and I am told the kids these days call it "hip?" (not sure if that is the right word). They opened up roughly around 1 year ago and the buzz for it is still going around. As a matter of fact, when Lydia and I went to see Jim Gaffigan earlier this year, he couldn't stop talking about it.

They are a burger, hot dog and fry type of place with bar setting around it. They have a modern but comic book store type of feel in it which is pretty cool. They also feature a dinner side and a pick up style in case you prefer not to be waited on. To check out more about the restaurant and the creative menu items, go to

So my order was The Raygun (named for the also "hip" t-shirt store just down the street) which has bacon, avocado, jalapenos, grilled onions, chipotle mayo and Monterrey jack cheese. It was delicious and I recommend it. 

Before you look at the picture below, 1 thing I should preface about Zombie is the burgers aren't made to look like masterpieces. Plus, I took a couple bites out of the burger before I remembered to take a it may not look really appetizing.

Yeah, this may resemble brains more than a burger, but it was still good.

For my review of Zombie, I have been there 3 times, got a burger twice. The burgers I have had are creative sounding and turn out to taste good but a part of me is disappointed usually. They don't feel like restaurant burger to me even though you pay close to the restaurant price. Now, if your expectations are that it is more of a fast food type of burger then a restaurant quality burger, then your expectations will be met. They are probably shooting for more of a middle ground between fast food & restaurant, if so, they did a great job.

The fries are really good so if you have 1 or 2 other people with you, get a fry basket and try out their amazing dipping sauce (I believe it is the chipotle mayo). We've split the Zombie Bride Wedding Cake shake before and it may have been the best shake I have ever tasted. It tasted just like a creamy vanilla cake with chunks of cake in it.

Overall, Zombie is an awesome place that you must check out at least once. Since it is fast food style burgers, they will be greasy and not make you feel the best afterward if you aren't used to eating fast food. Still, they have vegetarian options (which I've heard good and bad reviews on) if you are a little more health conscience. It is also fun to support a local restaurant who has decided to go completely out of the grave....err box with their theme. I still plan to go there...on a cheat day of course. What is your favorite thing to get there?

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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Easy Skillet Lasagna

Here is an awesome recipe that Lydia found on Pinterest and made for me the other night. Check it out

 Lydia added Italian Sausage to it which made much less healthy but much more delicious. Pretty easy and really good. See below.

It doesn't look like your traditional layered lasagna...because you cook it in a skillet but it tastes great and is quicker to make than the traditional baked lasagna. Try it out if you want lasagna but don't have a lot of time.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Business in the front, party in the back @ Mullets

Mullets is a restaurant/bar located just south of downtown. It opened up roughly 2 years ago and boasts a great menu. They serve lunch and dinner everyday and an awesome breakfast on the weekends. They have sandwiches/po'boys, pizza, burgers and more. They have a laid back atmosphere with tables and a bar inside but also some patio seating which features a great view of downtown. Check out their site and menu at .

I have been to Mullets at least 7 or 8 times and have never left unhappy. I've had the pizza (they will make it heart shaped for Valentine's day), their jalapeno & cheese stuffed burger called the Gringo & their awesome breakfast meatloaf. Those are all great, but today I am going to talk about my favorite dish there.... The Sandberg. 

Named after one of the greatest Cubs ever, Ryan Sandberg, who at the time was managing the Iowa Cubs down the street. The Sandberg is a Polish Sausage wrapped in bacon smothered with chili, grilled onions, peppers, bbq sauce, swiss, cheddar jack & cream cheese ALL wrapped into a Po'Boy bun. If that isn't great enough, it comes with a side and they happen to have the best side I've ever had...Sweet Potato Tots. See below....


Mullets is probably in my Top 5 restaurants in Des Moines. Great for hanging out right before an I-Cubs game as you can get served their and then just walk down the pedestrian path to the game. If you haven't been to Mullets yet, you have to go if you like seafood, sandwiches, or America. I recommend any of the aforementioned dishes plus the sweet potato tots or fries. Let me know what you've had there.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Nookie Burger

The next restaurant on my list makes the greatest burger I have ever had. It happens to also be in St Paul, Minnesota. So I know one of the main goals of my blog is to talk up the local Des Moines eateries but this place is ridiculously good.

The Nook is a small neighborhood bar restaurant and has been featured on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives at least twice as well as other food shows. Their specialty is a cheese stuffed burger (a staple in Minnesota known as a Juicy Lucy) which they call the Nookie Burger. The Nookie burger is specifically a burger stuffed with Cheddar cheese but they have a couple other variations of stuffed favorite being the Paul Molitor which is stuffed with pepperjack. Check out their website below and then their spot on Triple D a couple years back.

The burger pictured below was a new addition called "Guy's Big Bite" which was named for Guy Fieri. Stuffed with pepperjack, topped with bacon, cheddar cheese and juicy roast beef, this actually might be my new favorite. Oh, they also make hand cut fries fresh each day which are some of the best fries ever.

The restaurant is small as you might expect a neighborhood pub to be but it has a lot of character. The people working are always nice and the service is great; it even has an old school bowling alley in the basement. This place, is probably my favorite restaurant. I hate to say that since it isn't in Des Moines but STP is my second city and every time I'm in town, I make a stop there. If you find yourself in the Twin Cities, you seriously need to find time to make a stop there even if it is out of your way, you won't regret it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

The return of Buzzard Billy's

Buzzard Billy's returns after a couple year hiatus, this time in a different location near Wells Fargo Arena. Check out there website and HUGE menu at . Their specialty is Cajun/Creole food which ranges from sandwiches/poboys, dinner plates, pastas, salads and more. Even the draft beer menu was pretty big. The ambiance is similar to the Full Court Press restaurants (not sure if they are part of the same management)...laid back, clean, lots of nice TVs with sports on and you can eat from the huge bar or dining area.

I actually never ate at the original ,which was flooded out a couple years ago, but was excited to check out the new version. We got in around 530 (yeah we eat dinner like old people) and there wasn't any wait that early on a Friday night which was surprising considering the weather and the newness of the restaurant. By the time we left, there was a short wait.

We ordered the fried pickle chips for an appetizer as we are big fans of that. They were great, very crispy and salty; similar to the ones served at Mullets.

Fried pickle chips....they never had a chance.

After the delicious appetizer, Lydia got the Shrimp Po'Boy which was good (around $9). I thought the taste was similar to the Burger King's Chicken sandwich with the texture of the bread and the creamy tartar sauce. The shrimp was breaded/fried and tasted fresh. Now comparing a restaurant sandwich to BK might sound like a little bit of an insult....but BK's chicken sandwich is pretty good at least. The sandwich came with your choice of sides, she got the potato wedges which were unseasoned but solid.

Shrimp Po'Boy

I ordered the Chicken Tchoupitoulas as it sounded pretty unique (see the pictures below). It was pretty good with a mix of rich creamy chicken and salty carbs but then a mix of light veggies. The best part was the seasoned potatoes that were layered under the chicken. They were very similar to the salty/savory seasoned potatoes commonly in breakfast skillets.

Chicken say what?

Lots of veggies

At the top of the potato mountain lay a chicken breast covered in a creamy sauce.
Overall, the experience was solid and the service was great (although it wasn't busy). I definitely plan on going back because the menu is huge. If you go there, leave a comment on what you got so I can know what I should get next time.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Breakfast Egg Sammich

 Good morning! I love breakfast so you will likely see many of my breakfast concoctions on this blog. Most days, after doing my INSANITY workout, I make a simple fried egg sandwich. It is simple, delicious and packed with protein for recovery.

COOKING STAGE 1: I am sure most of you know how to fry up an egg but I will step you through it anyways. I PAM up a small skillet. Once the skillet is heated, crack an egg into the pan and then let the creativity can begin. The below seasonings are my usual for an egg sandwich (and most other recipes as well). Feel free to add whatever you like while it is cooking. Experiment with different combinations. If you don't like it,throw it out and try it is only one egg.

Sometimes I sub Garlic Powder for the Black pepper. I am Italian after all.

COOKING STAGE 2: I didn't take a picture of the cooking process but just let the egg cook in the pan for a couple minutes on medium heat (season it while it is cooking before you flip it). After the flip, I usually add sliced cheese (American or Pepper Jack). If you want some meat on your sandwich (like I do), I like to throw it on the side of the pan to sear it a little. Generally, I use sliced turkey or ham lunch meats. They will cook quickly so only leave one side cooking for about a minute then flip. After a couple minutes, your egg should be ready.

BREADING STAGE: NOW, it is time to plate your egg onto some bread. Which bread are you going to use? Generally I prefer lower calorie so I use Sara Lee Delightful bread which is 45 calorie/slice. However, I happened to have some South Union Bakery Tomato Focaccia sitting around so I went with that...maybe one of the better decisions I've ever made! As another late addition to the party, I had some leftover pizza sauce so I put it on the already delicious focaccia.

Opened faced!
Closed face?
Eaten face!

 This sandwich was pretty rich with the focaccia but it was tasty. With the tomato in the focaccia and the pizza sauce, it had a wonderful salty and sweetness factor to it. The egg, cheese and bread combined to be creamy and was like eating a pillow of greatness. 

Other variations I do are I use Frank's Buffalo Sauce or Salsa instead of pizza sauce or 100 Calorie Bagel Thins for the bun. The combinations are endless. Let me know what you've tried and I will probably try it myself.

It isn't brain surgery, break an egg into a pan, season it, put other stuff you like on it and eat it. Most of us can handle that. Breakfast really is the most important meal of the day as it gives you the energy to take on the day. It takes 5-10 mins to make so skip the snooze alarm and get cookin'.

Bork Loaf

Ok finally, I am going to put some real posts on here. Actually, probably a lot of posts as I have been finding it hard to make time to post. First, we will start with a Pork/Beef meatloaf I made a couple days ago. The plan was to make a ground turkey/pork but I apparently didn't have ground turkey so subbed in some 93/7 ground beef, I think it turned out pretty well...especially since I have only made meat loaf once or twice before.

Above are some of the ingredients used (not shown, Tones Parsley, diced white onion,). Below is recipe & calorie count. The green labeled seasoning is Konriko Brand Jalapeno seasoning which I use for everything. It is basically a medium/light spiciness with a salt/pepper taste. It can be found at SOME  Hy-vees (shame on you S.E. 14th location) under the Tone's spices. Meat loaf is easy, just mix everything together in a bowl well then lump it into a greased (I used Pam) meat loaf pan. I put a little bit of the ketchup on top since I was planning to cover the pan with foil.

Bork Loaf    
Amount Ingredient Est Calories
1lb 93/7 Ground Beef 700
1lb Ground Pork 1160
4 Large Egg 296
1C Bread Crumbs 480
1/2 C Ketchup 116
Dash Parsley  
1/4 C Diced Onions  
1/4 C Diced Green pepper  
1/4 C Worcestershire  
1 teas Minced Garlic  
  Total Calories 2752
  Per Serving (8) 344

Heat the oven to 350F and cook about 80mins.  You will want the meatloaf to be about 160F to be medium doneness.  You may want to check on other meatloaf recipes on whether to cover it or not. I saw most recipes didn't put ketchup on until the last 10 minutes, not sure if they covered the loaf for the whole cooking process.

Packed in but not too tight.

With a little ketchup on top before covering and cooking.

Cooked and missing some pieces.

Meatloaf sandwich with 2 pieces of 45 Calorie Sarah Lee Delightful bread and a sliced of Hy-Vee Pepper Jack (70 calories).   

And there you have it! Lydia and I thought it turned out pretty good. I do love a crispy outside to my loaf and I didn't have that with this recipe. I would imagine you would either broil the last couple mins of the cooking or not cover with foil. One thing you get when you cover is a TON of juices at the top. Great for moisture but may not look as appealing. Fortunately, I can eat anything so that didn't deter me. Try it out or your own variation and let me know what you think.