Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The OP

The Other Place (AKA The OP) is a restaurant/sports bar that I hear is pretty popular in the UNI territory of Cedar Falls. They just opened up a location in Clive and the place has been hoppin' since it opened up shop. As I mentioned, it is part sports bar and it just happens to be really loud in there....maybe because it was so busy. Just don't plan on having a serious conversation there. Then again, it is a sports bar so you probably aren't trying to do that anyways.

The menu is pretty basic sports bar stuff, pizza, sandwiches, wraps, fries and other beer soaking foods. I heard the pizza was good and it looked amazing...so naturally...I got the....wrap. The Cajun Chicken Pepper Jack Wrap. It was pretty good, the chicken was pretty spiced up with the Cajun seasoning so it had some flavor to it. Other than that, it tasted pretty much exactly like you would expect a wrap to taste. The fries were fine but nothing special. I regret not getting the pizza which would have been a more unique thing to get. Check out the rest of the menu at: http://theotherplace.com/clive-menu/

It seems like a decent place to watch the game as they had quite a few TVs. Otherwise, it was loud and didn't seem like anything special but I was just there for lunch with co-workers and not there to kick back with a beer with friends. If I do go back, I will definitely try the pizza. Anyone go there? What do you recommend?

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Buffalo Chicken Lasagna

Today's recipe was a new one for me. I give credit to my friend Erica for sharing this recipe. She found it from: http://hotmamanetwork.com/blog/buffalo-chicken-lasagna/
So I love Buffalo Chicken and I certainly love Lasagna (and I have great family recipe for it that I may share some day) so this seemed like a match made in heaven for me. Make it a relatively healthy dish and you can just sign me up right there.

If you want a more visible version of the recipe, check out the link above.

So healthy can be a subjective term but I am calling it healthy because it has chicken and cottage cheese (I replaced the ricotta with cottage cheese by the way) and not as much shredded cheese as some other lasagna recipes. Certainly, you still have cheese and noodles which some schools of health would suggest aren't great for you. Either way, it is going to have a good amount of protein. 8 Servings at less than 500 calories will feed many or provide you with plenty of leftovers.

A slightly soupier version of lasagna...at least until it cools

Tastes WAY better than it looks.

Of course, buffalo sauce is pretty strong but this recipe has just the right amount without completely overpowering the pasta sauce. You get tons of flavor from the pasta and buffalo sauce but then you get the really soft/moist chicken and then you are lovin' it. Yeah, the presentation doesn't look great but it tastes like a new type of comfort food. It is relatively easy except for shredding the chicken but you could just buy canned chicken if you wanted to skip that step. I plan on making this a LOT this fall/winter.

Monday, September 17, 2012


Ok so today's recipe is one of my go to recipes when I am hungry and I don't want to spend a lot of time on dinner. This recipe is two ingredients.  It is quick, delicious and full of protein. So a 2 ingredient recipe might not even qualify as a recipe but it is in my book.

1 can of Bush's baked beans (experiment with any type of flavors)
1 package of Kielbasa. Usually I use Hillshire farms turkey kielbasa but I saw that Butterball's Turkey Kielbasa sausage was on sale. They are basically the same thing. Make sure you check the nutrition facts though as not all Kielbasas are the same. This type is 100 calories with 7 servings...some are as much as 160+ calories per serving.

Ok so here is how you prepare it. Cut the sausage into round or half round pieces and sear them in a pan (although the sausage is already cooked so you don't have to cook it much other than to warm it up). To sear, cook on medium high for about 5 minutes, watch it so it doesn't burn though. Once it is cooked to your liking, pour the beans in and wait for them to warm up. Bam! You are done. I know, it doesn't even felt like you actually cooked something...but you did. Some variations I do are to season the sausage before searing (sometimes my favorite Konriko Jalapeno seasoning, sometimes I bathe it in Frank's Red Hot).

Not going to see this in a fancy restaurant

As you can see, it doesn't make a ton of servings, but thanks to our friend protein...it is filling. Great meal if you are crunched for time, you want to just make something simple, or you got your pump on and you want a dinner that will help your muscles rebuild. Try it out and let me know what you think!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Exile Brewing Company

Today I will be reviewing a brand new, locally owned, restaurant/brewery. Check them out at http://exilebrewing.com/. The main reason why we went to Exile was because we are planning the 2002 Lincoln High School 10 year class reunion there and we wanted to test the place out first. After our visit, it was a definite yes to go there.

Exile is located in the western edge of downtown, not too far from the sculpture park. It has an awesome patio, a bar area, a beer hall and the restaurant. It was big and everything inside looked pretty new and clean (you definitely should check out the bathrooms). It was a Saturday evening and the restaurant was near full capacity. The clientele was a little older (probably 35+) and most people were nicely dressed, except for me of course, but you didn't get the feeling that you HAD to dress up to be there.

The menu wasn't huge yet but it had plenty of items that looked good. They had quite a few sandwiches and burgers to choose from. Sure enough, there was a Juicy Lucy on the menu so you know I had to try it. We all also got a 20oz Hannah (beer they brew there) which was really good. It had a sweet wheat taste but not overbearing....just the right amount of smoothness for me.

Unfortunately, their version of a Juicy Lucy was a regular cheese burger, whereas the Juicy Lucy I am accustomed to is stuffed with cheese. Still, the burger was large and tasted good. The pretzel bread bun was unique, soft and delicious. The veggies looked fresh and the herbed fries were maybe the best part of my meal.

I can see at least 2 other burgers I want to try there...
Hi Hannah...

Note the pretzel bread bun and seasoned fries

Overall, I really liked Exile. The ambiance was awesome, the food was good and the beer was great. It is only a matter of time before this place is packed Thursday-Saturday night. This place would definitely be great for a special occasion but also if you just want to have a couple drinks with friends. I am excited to go back!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Juicy Lucy Part Deucey

So if you recall from a prior post, my favorite burger happens to reside in St. Paul, Minnesota at the Nook. I traveled up to my second city last weekend and had to make my usual stop at the Nook for a Juicy Lucy. Per usual, the Nook was packed with hungry patrons so we decided to go to Shamrocks which is a restaurant located only a few miles away under the same ownership. The menu is exactly the same, it just has more seating and more of a sports bar feel.

When deciding on a burger, I was conflicted....do I get Guy's big bite; which is my favorite burger and previously blogged upon, or get something new for you....the readers. I opted for a new burger that I had not tried yet....you owe me! I went with the "Spanish Fly" which is a burger made 50/50 of Chorizo and Ground beef and filled with queso cheese.

Sometimes, the cheese can't wait for the first bite to ooze out.

HOT POCKET! (of cheese lava)
As much as I love the Juicy Lucies, I was pretty disappointed in this burger...it just didn't live up to the taste of the other burgers. Really, the burger just tasted like a fattier burger and I didn't taste any of the spice from the chorizo. Also, the queso dip really didn't have much flavor to it. It hurts me to give this burger the thumbs down but I guess not every item can be epic. This was my first experience at Shamrock's but I was assured that they cook the burgers with the same ingredients and in the same way so I don't think the establishment had anything to do with my disappointment. I just had to accept that this burger wasn't for me.

Having said all that, I will not stop going to the Nook or Shamrock's after this experience. I just plan not to order this burger. I have heard great things about the "Lodge burger" which is a BLT on a burger with chipotle mayo and cheddar cheese. This burger isn't stuffed but it still sounds amazing nonetheless.

On this trip, I also decided to take a burger back to Des Moines to see how well the juicy lucies keep. After a day in the fridge and a 3.5 hour trip, below is the smuggled meal. Of course, the fries weren't in great shape but the burger seemed ok. To warm it up, I used a toaster oven to heat things more evenly and crisp things up. The fries gained some crispiness but of course wasn't nearly as good as they were fresh. The burger still tasted good but the cheese didn't heat completely up.

24 hours is probably the longest a juicy has gone without being consumed.

Much slower cheese ooze than the fresh molten ooze I am accustomed to.
Long story short, I don't recommend the Spanish fly burger...too bland for me. Also, if you try to take a juicy home, don't have high expectations unless you live less than 15 minutes away and you eat it right away. Still, the best burgers that I have ever had.

The Nook's menu

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Red China Bistro

Groupon forced us to go to Red China Bistro by offering to save us money to eat there. We had a $20 for $40 groupon so we had a feast for two. Now this is a semi swanky place so it isn't difficult to spend that much...especially if wine is involved. Check out their website to see their menu and prices Red China Bistro's Menu.

So we were both famished after a hard day's work so we had a bigger appetite than we should have had coming into here. Since we had the Groupon, we splurged with 2 appetizers, a glass of wine, and split an entree.

The appetizers we got were the Crab Rangoons and Beef lettuce wraps. There were several choices we were considering but we wanted to try something new and something reliable. I would say the Rangoons were better than the typical rangoons but not much different.

Different shape, still tasty

The beef lettuce wraps were actually really good. I have never heard of of such a thing but I am glad we ordered it. The meat tasted good with its light mexicany (my recollection is fuzzy though) taste but it wasn't overpowering. The lettuce was very fresh and the dipping sauce was good (some form of Soy sauce?). This is a VERY messy dish as you can imagine so if you care about what you look like when eating....don't opt for this. Fortunately, my love for food completely dominates my ability to feel shame in public so I was able to enjoy this dish to its fullest.

Beef from below

Beef from above

As I mentioned, we split an entree, Chicken Lo Mein. I guess I was so hungry still that I forgot to take a picture of it. I had never ordered Chicken Lo Mein before at any restaurant but it was amazing here. I would imagine it tasted similar to what you would order elsewhere but not quite as salty but still very good. Just trying to recall it makes me want to order it again.

Overall, the service was great (although there were only 3 other tables there) and the ambiance is pretty classy. If you have a date you want to impress, this beats out the Olive Garden date. The waitress/chef was nice enough to split the meal onto two plates for us. Funny thing is that our bill was 39.98 which was perfect for our $40 groupon, I was just lucky that I had enough cash on me to tip the waitress.