Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Francies ...a southside bar and grill.

After Zoo Brew, me and some friends wanted to go out to eat. We decided on Francies which is a bar and grill on the southwest side of Des Moines. The restaurant is in a smaller building located on Fleur drive. While the bar wasn't big, I was impressed at the quality of the decor inside. It looked like it was kept pretty clean and it featured several TVs tuned to sports. To find out more, check out:
Francies on Google +

The menu had a decent amount of options but mostly the typical bar and grill options. There were quite a few "Philly" style sandwiches which featured grilled onions and peppers which I love.  I went with the chicken Philly as you can see below. It was pretty tasty and had tons of cheese on it. For some reason, I went with their potato soup as my side which was good. The fries they also serve are crinkle cut style fries which tasted solid. Overall the sandwich was good and everyone else at the table enjoyed their dish.

My arteries and your cheese will get along nicely...or horribly.

It was difficult telling myself not to eat the whole thing...

Unfortunately, I went here a while ago and cannot remember all the details that I wanted to blog about. Everyone that has mentioned this place to me has raved about it. I will definitely have to go back there to provide all of you a more detailed blog posting. Or, if you are in the area, try it for yourself.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Homemade Chicken Cordon Bleu

So I know I have had a long run of restaurant reviews and have neglected to cook and share the recipes the last couple of weeks. I am hoping to lay low on the eating out after my Minnesota/Wisconsin trip last weekend. Today's recipe is one that I have used many times and isn't very complicated. Below is the recipe and the instructions.

I never put the mustard in and I usually use pepper jack cheese instead of swiss.
Look at all that protein!

Ok, so this isn't a completely original recipe...but I did modify it to my that counts right? I used pepper jack sliced cheese instead of Swiss and omitted the Dijon mustard because I am not a fan...nor was I in a fancy limo to ask someone for some. I actually probably used 2 lbs of chicken because that is what I had left. I also threw in a can of cream of mushroom on top of the cream of chicken just to make it extra creamy. See the finished product below...

It makes quite a bit, at least 5 good sized servings.

There is a piece of chicken buried in there, I promise.
So I admit, it probably doesn't look amazing in the above photos but I believe pictures do not do this dish justice. It smells good, it tastes great, it is high in protein and it is a pretty simple dish (30-40 mins to make overall). It might be a little salty and still has some carbs from the stove top but it is pretty balanced between protein and carbs. Everyone that I have made this for has enjoyed it so try it out and let me know what you think.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Zombie Burger Part 2

I had some friends from out of town visiting so I felt it was necessary to show them Zombie Burger. This time, I got the Flamethower sandwich and switched it up by getting the chicken instead of the burger. Not sure what possessed me to get a spicy sandwich when I was already sweating from the sun beating down on me but I am glad I made the decision that I did.

The flamethrower (see next picture) has Buffalo sauce (Frank's red hot I am guessing), Bleu Cheese, ranch dressing and an Onion ring. From what I recall, all I tasted was the Buffalo sauce. I barely remember tasting any bleu cheese and ranch which was somewhat disappointing. Having said that, the chicken and the buffalo sauce together was pretty good and juicy. The buffalo sauce just kind of dominated the sandwich.

I fell into a burning ring of a fire....

Lydia and I also split the fry basket which was delicious. The other people we were with got the Cheese fries and the chili cheese fries. The cheese fries were the same fry basket but with a cup of cheese. The cheese tasted like a gravy...but with a slight cheese taste to it; it wasn't bad (except for the arteries). I also tried the chili cheese fries and those tasted pretty good. The chili and cheese smothered the fries and provided a good balance of taste between the two additions. It had so much flavor that I don't know if I could handle eating too many of those fries with a burger but to each their own.

So salty, so greasy, so good
Lydia got the "They're Coming to get you Barbara" burger. This is a burger with American cheese, grilled onions and zombie sauce. Oh, by the way, those items are in between two grilled cheese sandwich buns. I only took one bite of the burger but it was good and unlike any other burger I have had before. The bun was like biting into a soft cheesy pillow.  I plan on getting this combination next time.
Pretty ridiculous...
So another trip to zombie burger, another new experiment for me. I really liked the chicken and will try to stick with that as my choice when I go back there. It tastes better and helps do some damage control on the calorie count. With my sandwich, it was good but it seems like most of the burgers sound better advertised than the way they actually come. I will still keep going to see if I find a sandwich that is a must have.

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Sunday, August 12, 2012

Chicken Nachos, the home version

Possibly my favorite mexican dish ever is Chicken Nachos from El Aguila Real. They are creamy, packed with chicken, and not good for you at all. For some reason, I have never tried to recreate that recipe. That opportunity presented itself when I stopped over to John's place last weekend.

John invited me over for said nachos and I got there just in time to help cook. John used a mesquite seasoning for the chicken which smelled good and tasted great. It had a good added taste to the chicken but was light and simple. Generally, when I use seasoning for mexican dishes, I use the Ortega taco seasoning packets. They are good but they dominate the flavor and the smell in your kitchen.

Everything after the chicken was free-styling (as well it should be). We used shredded cheese, sauteed onions/red pepper/tomato, Greek yogurt (tastes just like sour cream), refried beans, salsa and jalapenos all on tortilla chips of course. The beauty of nachos is there is no script, just put on whatever you feel like. John apparently was really hungry as he went for the double-triple layer nachos. I don't like to be outdone so I tried to build a nacho fortress comparable to his but I couldn't match him. I don't know about him but I ended up with a huge stomach ache that night, but it was worth it.

John has a future in hand modeling
John's plate = Mount Killa-man-nacho

Victory bite

My dish ended up being wayyy too many calories. You have to be careful with nachos, if you eat with your eyes you may regret it later. However, the chicken, refried beans and greek yogurt provided great sources of protein. As long as you build your nachos with caution, you can make them a much healthier dinner than the restaurant version.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Italian Nachos?

Today's recipe was inspired by my dinner at Orlondo's where we indulged in an appetizer called Italian Nachos. It was Italian Sausage, pizza/marinara sauce, banana pepper rings, mozzarella cheese on top of some salty tortilla chips. It tasted so good that I knew I had to re-create it but in a healthier form. I decided to use ground turkey and season it instead of pork sausage which I think saved about 470 calories for the whole dish. Since we had Italian bread, we decided to use that instead of tortilla chips. So we pretty much completely diverted from the original recipe but the results tasted great...

Seasoning Recipe:

For the seasoning, I just highjacked this recipe but halved it for 1 lb instead of 2 lbs. I didn't have fennel so I skipped it and I used Tones Pizza Seasoning instead of Italian Seasoning and Onion powder instead of minced dried onions.


Ingredient Amount Calories
Ground Turkey 1lb 680
Bread Loaf of Italian Bread 1300
Pizza Sauce 1 Jar 180
Mozzerella Cheese 1/2 Cup 180
Green Pepper 1 Small/medium 45
White Onion Half Cup Chopped 25
Sweet Pepper Rings 2 small peppers 0
  5 Servings 482

I guessed on the Italian bread calories and you probably won't need a whole loaf for 5 servings of this with the mixture so this calorie total may be higher than what you make. Feel free to substitute what you like.


Season the meat how you like. The seasoning recipe I used for the turkey was flavorful although a tiny bit salty. Cook the meat on the stove until cooked. Throw in whatever chopped veggies you want in there until cooked soft (1st picture). Then throw in the pizza sauce until warm. I threw in the mozzarella cheese after the pizza sauce so it would melt. (2nd picture)

Colorful and healthy

With pizza sauce and mozzarella cheese

Walmart's Italian bread. Pretty good.
All in all, this is what I enjoy about cooking; you try something you like and you put your spin on it. It wasn't difficult to make; the hardest part being mixing the seasoning into the turkey. It was healthier than the original and none of the ingredients were too hard to come by. It can be varied in many ways (replace the bread for chips, use whatever meat you want, add more veggies). I don't know if this dish really qualifies as Italian Nachos so feel free to suggest a name for it.

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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Orlondo's on Park

Orlondo's is a dive bar/pizza place nestled in the neighborhood of the southwest side of Des Moines. I heard great things about their pizza so that is what we had to order. We got the large Orlondo's special ($19) and it was absolutely awesome. 

It is very similar to Rock Power Pizza (another southside pizza place) which has my favorite pizza of all time, the Meatzza Pizza. They are similar in the medium crust thickness, large amounts of cheese and toppings, great tasting sauce and even the party style cut. This pizza surprised me and seriously made me think it might have been the best pizza I've ever had.

It's hard to see party style cut with all the cheese melting into it.

The crust is perfect; not too thin, not too thick but definitely crispy.

So you know the pizza is good there, what else would you like to know. Well, it is a typical neighborhood dive bar, dimly lit and not a lot of frills inside. I believe they support bicyclists as they have $2 dollar Grain Belt special on bike nights (probably the best support anyone could ever offer someone). So the setting may not be for everyone, but the delicious food may be enough to have you coming back...and even if it isn't, they deliver.

We ordered a "small" salad before the pizza and it was phenomenal as well. Small is a relative term because it was a good amount of lettuce with a ton of mozzarella cheese on it. The creamy Italian house dressing was amazing as well. We happened to also get to try/devour their Italian nachos and yeah, those were pretty epic as well. Salty tortilla chips with Italian Sausage, pizza/marinara sauce, cheese and peppers on it. I loved them so much that I decided to re-create it with my spin on it...see future blog post on this.

Overall, awesome food. If you don't want to go out to eat there, have them deliver it to you and enjoy some amazing food from the comfort of your own home. Whatever you do, try them out.