Monday, February 20, 2012

Monday Mealtime: Simple Stir-Fry

I have decided that I'm going to start having some regular features on my blog so that you know the direction that I'm going in. I plan to feature a homemade meal every Monday. This doesn't mean that I'm going to be making a meal every Monday night, but I will cook throughout the week and post on Monday evenings :) So here goes post 1 for Monday Mealtime.

So today I start with a Simple Stir-Fry. Everyone knows the ingredients of a stir fry -- veggies and protein served over rice with soy sauce. The one thing that I wanted to have some fun with was the sauce and make it a bit more than just soy sauce. So I loosely followed Flavorful Beef Stir-Fry recipe.

I need to clean out my freezer before I move because its never easy to move frozen goods. So what did I have in my freezer? Beef chop suey meat, broccoli stir fry veggie mix, sugar snap peas, minute rice and edamame. Chop Suey meat is chopped up smaller than stir fry pieces but it will cook just the same.

So I looked at the recipe and added corn starch, splenda and soy sauce together. I didn't have apple juice or white wine available as it suggested, so I used a dash of lime juice and water together with a little touch of Penzeys granulated ginger. I mixed that together well and then marinated the beef in it for about 10 minutes. I'm sure I could have marinated longer, but I didn't think about dinner early enough to do that.

While the meat was marinating, I dumped all the veggies in a pan with a little bit of olive oil and covered them to steam up. It ended up being pretty watery because everything was frozen. So when they were done, I dumped the veggies in a strainer to remove the excess water.

I put the pan back on the heat and used a little Misto spray in the pan. If you have never used a Misto sprayer, I highly recommend it. You use so much less olive oil and compared to the ingredients in a can of Cooking Spray its better for you. All you have to add is put a 1/4 cup (at most) of oil in the Misto. Then you pump it with a special cap to pressurize it and wahlah instant spray. I use Misto on salads, pans, meat - pretty much anything that you would use either oil or cooking spray.

Ok - so the meat and marinade then go in the warm pan and you cook the meat to your desired doneness. I had to keep stirring the meat so it would cook evenly and the sauce got very thick and started to stick to the "non-stick" pan. The meat took maybe 10 minutes on medium heat to cook through. Then I grabbed the veggies, dumped them back in the pan, and stirred it all together. I let it heat through again and meld the flavors for 4 minutes.

In the meantime, my steamer bag of Minute Rice went in the microwave for 4 minutes and I let it sit for another 1 or 2 in the microwave. From previous experience, these rice bags tend to be a little watery too, so I drained this as well in a strainer and then fluffed up the rice.

Simple enough right? And boy oh boy was it yummy. Not to mention there is almost-no-fat in the meal except the healthy olive oil and a bit in the meat. The meat was extremely lean too!

 So until my next post, Happy Eating!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Fat Tuesday! :)

Mardi Gras (or Fat Tuesday as I like to call it) is next week Tuesday. It's the day known around the nation to gorge on anything and everything that you could ever want with no repercussions. Sure the next day you may feel a little bloated and your taste buds and tummy might hate you from all the rich, decadent treats you will be devouring but isn't it worth it? The following day is Ash Wednesday (beginning of Lent) and being a Catholic, I follow the rules of fasting and not eating meat. I eat 3 solid, plain meals that day with no meat and make it through with many tummy growls. And this also usually means that for Lent I give up something. Some of the more more unique things that I have given up are sugary treats, all soda, alcohol, TV, being lazy and celebrity gossip. Some of those were easier than others to accomplish, but it really allows you to realize that you can survive without some of the luxuries in life.

Ok, back to Tuesday. I have never truly gone hog-wild before on this day. Sure I have maybe bought a special dessert or ordered a fancier meal if I was out to dinner, but I have never truly gone all out in the terms that those down in New Orleans do. I just think that that would set me up for failure if I would indulge on something that I am giving up. So who knows what Tuesday will hold for me? Will I go out to eat? Maybe try the Montecito or El Palmar that have been on my list forever? Or now that Divino Gelato has reopened, do I treat myself to some gelato concoction that will be truly heavenly? Will I make an absolutely gluttonous meal at home with heavy cream, cheese and tons of butter. Or will it be a day just like any other? I will know on Tuesday.

Now, as for giving up something this year? I have truly no idea what to give up. I have done a really good job since January of staying away from diet soda (especially after reading this article). And my sweet tooth isn't what it used to be. I have a box of chocolates in my house from Christmas that have barely been touched. I have an entire bag of mini Reese's Peanut Butter Cups in my drawer and I have no urge to eat them. I have already shrunk my cable package due to Time Warner asking a fortune for very simple service. So I'm at a loss of what to give up now. I'm sure I'll think of something by Wednesday but suggestions are welcome!

I do know that one thing I will be adding will be Features to my blog. I plan to take a walk at minimum of once a week through downtown Waukesha and write about what I notice. It won't be gossip; it will be something that I notice in a store or a special at a restaurant/bar or a new business taking shape. For instance, I jogged through town on Wednesday night and noticed that a store front just east of Montecito no longer has a for lease sign in the window and some painting is happening. I also noticed that next to Chill on Gaspar Street, a dance studio has gone in and the windows are no longer blocked on that street. It looks really nice.

The other thing that I hope to feature is to enjoy one food item per week in Waukesha be it soup, sandwich, cocktail, dessert, etc. The working title is Foodie Friday in which I will highlight the item that I enjoyed sometime throughout the week and get the post up every Friday morning.

I realized that I need to offer features in order to get people to start looking for my blog more regularly. And I hope to get more followers and truly share my love of food and fun in Waukesha with more people. So until Wednesday, when I'm sure I will share what I have devoured for Fat Tuesday, Happy Eating everyone!

PS - I'll take suggestions as well if you want me to go try something at a certain place or if you know of a new business or business update taking place.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Dave & Buster's

Photo from Dave & Buster's Website
I had the opportunity to check out Dave & Buster's for my 1st and 2nd time within a matter of 3 weeks. The first time I checked it out was with the Waukesha County Biz Alliance for a Networking event. The fajita/taco bar they put out was excellent and had all the toppings as well as rice and beans. The guacamole was delicious and I love guacamole. The room that they put us in had two large projectors in it and would be great for a meeting or work party. We were each given a reward card for games that was worth $10. I wasn't sure what that would get me, but it was worth about 50 points. Games range from 3 - 10 points each and I had plenty of fun with that $10. I earned about 100 tickets that night and saved them knowing I would be coming back. You can add value to your card at any time from some machines located in the game area and if you would happen to get more than one card, you can get all the values added to one at the front desk.

My 2nd opportunity was for my friends birthday party. We met at the bar around 6 and unfortunately our bartender was really slow in making and processing our drink orders. She didn't know prices and I think it would have been helpful for her to have another person behind the bar. There was another bartender who actually supplied me some amazing cocktails when he used to work at Chill in Waukesha. I loved his "little black book" of cocktails and the guy knows his beverages. He even remembered my friend and we hadn't seen him in well over a year. He was making drinks for the servers that were in the game area or serving tables. We were able to snag him to get us another round and help her out, but I really think that she needed a little more training before put behind the bar alone.

Besides the bartender being slower, the Happy Hour has some decent drink deals. I got a 22 oz Miller Lite for under 5 and some others martinis and cocktails. They even have these shots called Over & Unders that come in really cute little shooters. Tiffany got one for her bday and if it was a liqueur that was colored you would see the top one color and the bottom another but she got a cherry bomb with cherry vodka and redbull so it was all the same color basically. She also got a TNTea and she got to keep the glass from it.

Photo from Dave & Buster's Website

After Happy Hour was up at 7 pm, we were sat at a nice booth/table combo for our group of 10 in the dining area and our server was awesome. She talked us through the menu and was very attentive and making sure we were always happy and didn't need anything. I made a meal out of an appetizer of Philly Cheese Steak Wonton Wrapped Rolls and a side of Sweet Potato Fries. Others orders pasta dishes, steaks, chicken sandwiches and everyone was a part of the clean-plate-club this night, and I'll take that as the food was loved. Some of the group took advantage of the Eat & Play combo to get play cards for after dinner, but I signed up for the rewards program and got $10 to play with that way.

The games are a bunch of fun for all ages and ability levels. I love playing the basketball free throw game and skee-ball but my friend and I found a few other games that paid out really well once you figured out the rhythm to the madness. I fared much better on this round of games and earned about 900 points. I again saved these and think I might head back on a Wednesday night when the games are half price :)

I would recommend this place for dinner or for fun and I think everyone can find a game that they would enjoy! Its located right by Mayfair and on a Tuesday night, the place is pretty open in that you can play any game you want without having to wait for it. Plus if there is someone playing it, I'm sure you can find another great game to play.