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January 2016

Another Ramen Soup Hack - make your chicken Ramen into egg drop soup

By Mike Thayer

RamenRamen soup, it's cheap, a quick snack food, a budget food, a single-person's food, a plan 'B' food, a college dorm food, a don't-know-what-else-to-have-so-this-will-have-to-do food...

Don't just make it per the package instructions, liven things up!

Make a quick egg drop soup.

Prepare the Ramen chicken soup as normal....   Add a dash of garlic powder, a dash of black pepper and a green onion, minced.  Beat an egg slightly and slowly pour it into the hot soup, stirring clockwise for about a minute.

And there you have it, Ramen egg drop soup.....

I like to add a bit of Louisiana hot sauce to mine.  Enjoy.




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Carew Landscaping - Iowa City

Carew landscapingBeautiful outdoor spaces

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We proudly provide service to residential, commercial, and industrial customers throughout the Iowa City and Coralville area.
 

via carew-landscaping.com

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Simpson Motorsport - Iowa City

Simpson MotorsportSimpson Motorsport has been a family owned and operated business, Simpson Motorsport has been the leading provider of BMW repair in Iowa City since 1980. With over 30 years of experience, you can feel confident that your vehicle will be repaired with care and honesty.

Simpson Motorsport has the ability to do any general maintenance that you need on your BMW and as much aftermarket performance upgrades as you would like. Whether you plan to upgrade your daily driver in or if you decide to start a race build, we have the facilities and knowledge to get the job done right. All maintenance is done using genuine BMW parts.

3577 Perch Drive SE
Iowa City, Iowa 52240

Phone (319)-351-1269

Simpsonmotorsport@gmail.com

via www.simpsonmotorsportus.com

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Spring Fever In January

Mike ThayerBy Mike Thayer

So my girlfriend Cindy and I went through the seed catalogs and our seed stash yesterday, it's only January but boy are we ready for spring and playing in the dirt (not to be confused with mud wrestling, although the thought did obviously cross my mind.....).

Starting seeds in eggshellsAs Cindy thumbed through Burpee's, Gurney's and a couple of other catalogs, I took stock of the seeds on hand and getting some packets organized for pre-planting.  Cindy has a nice set-up in her basement, trays, shelving, lighting, the whole bit.  I've never had the luxury and I'm really looking forward to that.  It means far less time spent starter plant buying and more time in the garden!  Something new we're going to try - starting some seeds in egg shells, an idea I found online and have been wanting to try.  I'm a huge user of putting crushed egg shells in the garden, as they add calcium and rid the garden of slug/snail infestation.  I'll blog about the egg shell seed-starter experiment with a play-by-play and let you know how that goes.

A variety of tomatoes were ordered from the catalogs, to include a hearty beefsteak we've never tried.  I just love being able to cover that perfect sandwich bread with a juicy tomato that's big enough to do it with just one slice.  None of that three slices from a medium tomato falling out of the sandwich for me!  Along with the tomato order, a nice selection of flowers were ordered as well and it won't be long before stores start putting spring bulbs on display.  Cindy has some tulips and daffodils in the ground that will look great in the spring, but there's a need for some summer blooming varieties in the beds.  Between the catalogs and what the stores put on shelves, I'm sure we'll find what we're looking for.

Cindy and I both love to garden, it's a simple pleasure for me, from creating veggie or flower beds, to planting, to weeding, to the harvest.  I'm into it all, from start to finish. For Cindy, while she loves being able to just go out in the backyard and pick fresh produce for dinner (it doesn't get any fresher!), she's really into it because she loves to can even more.  She makes a fantastic salsa!   And yes, I'll post the recipe.

Well, it's time to go buy some potting soil!

 


The Fast Food War: Competing for customers, who has the best fast food deal?

Mike ThayerBy Mike Thayer

If you've been paying attention to TV commercials lately, you've noticed another fast food battle taking place.

The #2 burger chain, Wendy's, fired the first shot with their 4 for $4 deal.  You get a Jr. bacon cheeseburger, four chicken nuggets, fries and a drink for $4.

Reacting to Wendy's shot, Burger King, the #3 burger chain then pulled the trigger.  Their deal also costs $4, for the same meal, but you get a cookie!   (that's feigned excitement).   And nice "creative thinking" there with the menu BK.....  Copying Wendy's idea, adding a chocolate chip cookie....  I know, it's a brand taste preference thing, meal for meal, mano e mano, I get it. 

And seeing their competition launching salvos for more market share, #1 fast food burger maker McDonald's came up with their "McPick 2 Menu" in response.    For $2, you can choose two items from a menu of four consisting of - The McChicken, the McDouble, fries, or mozzarella sticks (3 piece).  Kudos to McDonald's for trying to be creative with their menu ammo and pricing, but that raises another issue which I'll elaborate on later.

In this humble foodie's opinion, Wendy's offers the best deal.  It's not only the best deal in bang-for-the-buck dollar terms, more importantly, it's the better tasting meal.  A Wendy's Jr. bacon cheeseburger vs. a Burger King bacon cheeseburger is a wash, Wendy's has better nuggets (each restaurant serving you four nuggets), Wendy's has better fries than Burger King and I could really care less about a cookie.  Both meals give you a lot of food for the money, both meals are satisfying, Wendy's wins on taste.  Bonus:  Wendy's makes their burgers fresh, you know you're getting a hot meal, not a been-sitting-in-a-warming-bin meal.  Burger King is kind of hit or miss on that with the fries and nuggets.

When it comes to the McDonald's offering, sure, you get a lot of bang for the buck with the McPick 2.  And if you order two $2 orders, you can get quite a meal for $4 but here's the gamble with that....  You probably aren't getting a fresh hot meal.  McDonald's has the best fries, but ONLY if you get them hot out of the fryer.  Unless you specifically ask for fresh fries, odds are, you'll get some that have been in the rack for awhile waiting to be sold. McDonald's is notorious for racking/stacking/packing their food.  Their service is almost vending machine like.   You approach the machine (counter), put some money in the slot (pay the cashier) and the machine pushes/spins out/drops your selection that's been sitting there in the machine for who knows how long.  That's the McDonald's way.  And let's face it, a McDouble isn't as good as a bacon cheeseburger.  A McChicken may be more filling than four nuggets w/sauce, but it doesn't taste as good and who wants mozzarella sticks or fries that aren't fresh out of the fryer?

Prediction:  It won't happen with this particular menu war, but I do think McDonald's is going to eventually lose their #1 fast food chain ranking.  They've really gone downhill.   But instead of getting back to the basics in what got them to #1, they go for silly stuff, like run-of-the-mill mozzarella sticks with so-so marinara sauce.

 

 


Food Review: Wendy's Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger & Bacon Fondue Fries

Mike ThayerBy Mike Thayer

Everything is better with bacon right?


After a hard day at work and finishing up some post-work shopping at Costco, it was time to find dinner.  I didn't feel like cooking or dirtying any dishes, but what to have....  Then it hit me, I've been wanting to try Wendy's latest creation, the Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger, so I said to myself, "Self, tonight is the night!" 

20160107_192926Using the drive-up service, I ordered the combo, the new burger along with a side of their also new creation, the Bacon Fondue Fries and a Mellow Yellow to wash it down with. 

Here's the Wendy's marketing plug for the burger:  The Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger is deliciously cheesy, with aged Gouda, Swiss-Gruyere fondue sauce, and crispy Applewood Smoked Bacon. Head to your nearest Wendy's® and try one today!

And the marketing plug for the fries:  Try our deliciously cheesy Bacon Fondue Fries covered in a swiss-gruyere fondue sauce and Applewood Smoked Bacon. So get to your nearest Wendy's® and try them today!

The Burger set-up:  A quarter-pound patty, topped with a creamy Garlic Aioli, Gouda Cheese and Swiss Gruyere Cheese Sauce. Wendy's then adds 3 strips of fresh-cooked, Applewood Smoked Bacon, red onions, tomato and fresh spring lettuce mix - all served on a Brioche Bun.

20160107_192951 (2)The rundown:  The meal was delivered fast and hot, service courteous.  The burger to Brioche bun ratio was good, the meat itself however was under-seasoned.  And although the Wendy's menu states the sandwich is served with three slices of bacon, I'm not convinced there were three on mine, I didn't get bacon in every bite, got a lot of 'spring mix' and cheese though.  Overall, this is a good, but not a great sandwich.  I was expecting a flavor explosion in my mouth, but the sandwich under-achieved. 

The fries out-performed the burger.  They were seasoned well, there was plenty of bacon and the cheese sauce complimented the side, wasn't overpowering.

Wendy's attempt at an upscale burger isn't worth the 'upscale' fast-food price of just over $9 for the combo.   The sandwich is only being offered for a limited time.  The bottom line:  It's not a repeat burger buy, but the fries are!  The next time I visit Wendy's I'd rather have their classic burger or another sandwich on their menu.

The Gouda Bacon Cheeseburger gets three out of five Metro Pursuit stars.

MetroPursuitMetroPursuitMetroPursuit

 

 


Fosters Heating & Air Conditioning - Marion

FostersFOSTERS HEATING and AIR CONDITIONING, INC. is one of Linn County’s largest HVAC (heating, ventilating and air conditioning) service and installation contractors. With a commitment to excellence and a dedication to providing superior service to their clients, it’s no wonder that over 10 thousand Linn County residents have chosen Fosters as their heating and cooling company.

Fosters provides a full spectrum of choices in high efficiency heating and cooling systems, energy and money saving products and preventative services. It’s no wonder that Fosters is an easy choice when it comes to the comfort and safety of your family.

When you choose Fosters as your partner in keeping your family safe and comfortable in your home, you can rest easy knowing that we take that responsibility very seriously. Our technicians are some of the most knowledgeable and highly trained in the business. We stay abreast of the latest technology and strive to provide the highest quality products and services for our customers. We deliver those with reliable, friendly and prompt customer service.

Co-owner, Mark Morgan proudly states, “At Fosters, we believe that the comfort and safety of our customers comes first and we guarantee you’ll see that in everything we do. Anytime, Everyday.”

  • New System Sales & Replacement
  • Service & Repair
  • ESA Maintentance Programs
  • Energy Saving Products
  • Tips on How to Go Green in your home
  • FAQ and answers about Heating & Cooling
  • Fosters-sponsored events in Marion
  • And of course, easy ways to Contact Us.

1040 E Post Rd Marion, Iowa 52302
Phone: (319) 377-6325

via fostersheatingandair.com


Colony Heating and Air Conditioning - Cedar Rapids

Colony HeatingColony is proud to be one of the largest HVAC contractors in Iowa, serving Cedar Rapids, Marion, Iowa City, North Liberty, Mount Vernon, and all of Linn and Johnson counties. Our shared belief in the highest business standards, work ethics, and a consistent goal of quality workmanship sets us apart when it comes to providing you with quality service at affordable rates.

About Colony Heating & Air Conditioning

We first opened our doors in 1973 as a small two-man shop in the Amana Colonies. Since settling in Cedar Rapids in 1981, Colony Heating and Air Conditioning has grown to be one of the largest heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC), service, and hearth products (fireplaces) contractors in Iowa.

Under the guidance of Doug Kohoutek, the current owner, our continued growth and expansion has led the company to specialize in design, fabrication, installation, and service. Colony Heating and Air Conditioning covers all HVAC, service, and hearth products aspects of new construction and remodeling for residential, commercial and industrial settings. Our service department is "second to none!" We also specialize in design and build work in the Cedar Rapids metro area, as well as surrounding communities.

Contact Us

Phone Numbers
Cedar Rapids: 319-364-HEAT (4328)
Iowa City: 319-358-9004

Address
2224 16th Ave SW
Cedar Rapids, IA 52404

Showroom Hours
Monday - Friday: 7:30am - 5:00pm
Saturday: 9:00am - 1:00pm
Sunday: Closed

via www.colonyheating.com


Grilling Good Eats: Ch. 4 - Beef Recipes

Chapter 4 - Beef Recipes

Grilling Good Eats

by Mike Thayer

Beef, it’s what’s for dinner, or lunch, and yes, breakfast too! Why not cook up a breakfast steak on a weekend? Without question, beef is the most aromatic meat to put over the fire. This chapter does not include burgers, they’re so special, they’re featured in Chapter 9.

And before we get into the recipes, remember Tip #10. How do you know when your steak is done? Give it the finger. No, not the middle one, well, you can use that one if you want….. Poke the steak with your finger. If the meat is soft to the touch and doesn’t bounce back, it’s still pink inside. If it’s got some give but bounces back a bit, it’s medium. If it’s firm when poking, it’s well done.

Mike’s Skirt Steak

Have you seen the price of beef these days? If you're craving a good steak and don't want to shell out the big bucks for a T-bone, try a skirt steak. It's a much cheaper cut of meat but packs a lot of flavor. It is a tougher cut of meat, so it needs a good marinade.

Here's a fantastic marinate for about two pounds of skirt steak:

Marinade ingredients

  • Half cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • The juice from half a lime
  • Tablespoon of dried, minced onion
  • teaspoon of garlic powder
  • One packet of artificial sweetener
  • Couple dashes of cardamom

Directions
Mix all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl or big measuring cup, set aside. Cut your skirt steak into four equal pieces (optional), place in a Tupperware bowl or a big zip lock bag, pour in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least one hour, four hours is much better, overnight is best. Skirt steak is great for the grill, remember to take the steaks out of the fridge about 20-30 minutes prior to placing over the coals. You’re doing this to inspect the meat, make sure it‘s well covered in the marinade. It’s not about letting the meat come up to room temperature like you hear some of the cooking show talking heads say, that’s just yada, yada talk to kill air time. The truth is, refrigerated meat won’t come up to room temperature in just 30 minutes, not even close. OK, back to the skirt steaks…..

Putting the steaks over medium high heat, let them sizzle for about five minutes, do NOT cover. This is a thin cut of steak so keep an eye on it and any possible flare ups. Flip after five minutes to a cooler spot on the grill and now you can put a lid on it, for about another five minutes (this is for a medium rare). Remove from the grill and let them rest. This recipe is a real crowd pleaser.

TIP: Never pour remaining marinade over meats or veggies you’ve just placed on the grill. It may sound like a good idea but it’s not. The spillage will cause flare ups - gas and charcoal grills alike - resulting in a blackened meat look and taste you weren’t going for. Spillage can also stir up the ashes down below on a charcoal grill, getting ash on your food. Don’t worry, there’s plenty of flavor in that meat, don’t pour.

via www.grillinggoodeats.com