Enter the Subway Breakfast

Ever since I received a circular touting the new Subway breakfast menu I’ve been curious.  For starters, I have no bones about saying that I liked making fun of the fact that it opens at 9am.  (Which made me wonder who gets up that early for a sandwich fix.  I was sure Jared never rolled off of his piles of Scrooge McDuck-ian money to obtain a Spicy BLT past 11:30.)

However as it was also being touted as “healthy” and that it “used egg whites” I felt that it was my duty to test what was surely attempting to become the Jack LaLanne competitor of fast food breakfast.  Take THAT, Sausage McMuffin with Egg!  (Don’t we still crave those after an evening of Sapphire Martini’s though?  Just me?  Okay.  Carry on)  As my work schedule prohibited me from obtaining one during the week day, and weekends are usually resolved for Hippolyta and I to make one of our patented “big breakfasts” * I waited until she was out of town before I was able to strike an unsuspecting Subway as an undercover reviewer.  (My previous attempt was thwarted, as I learned that even if I sneak out at 8am on a Saturday they don’t even open until 9am on the weekends)

I made it my morning goal yesterday (yes, my purpose for actually becoming ambulatory was the acquisition of this sammy.  As opposed to trudging downstairs for a mimosa, trudging back to bed, and thinking about what was wrong with my life) and I walked into the corner NE Mpls Subway for my boon at approximately 9:15am.  Important because I waited until after they opened for a few minutes so that I didn’t wait outside like a puppy hoping that it’d get picked, and because it was close.

Being #1 doesn’t always have perks.  I learned this when I used to work retail at a tuxedo rental shop.  In fact, unless you are made of stronger stuff than I am (Which means adamantium) you are immediately ingrained with a hostility and resentment for the following two type of customers- Those who get there as SOON as you open and the ones who seem to slink in just as you’re ready to lock the door and turn on the alarm system…usually 10-15 minutes before you actually close b/c it’s been dead the previous 5 hours.   How they know how to time it like this, I’ll never know.

The employee had an immediate disdain for me, evidenced by the way they set there soda down by the register and slowly made their way back to wash their hands, taking there time to make a deal out of washing, drying, then coming up to me with a look that reads “What?”

“May I please have a Southwest breakfast sandwich?” (I reigned in my usual chipperness.  I understand that type of energy to those who haven’t quite shook off the sleepies can be jarring.)  My question was responded to with blinks.

“Meatball sub?”

“Nope.  Southwest breakfast sandwich with egg whites, please”.  (At this point, I was wondering if I was slurring my words too.  There was country music playing overhead, and in my hurry to get down here I hadn’t brushed my teeth or had any coffee.  I may have sounded like a recent stroke patient for all I know.  Judging by the way I was being stared at…hair all akimbo under a hastily donned ballcap, D.A.R.E t-shirt…probably smelling of the previous evenings Pinot Grigio, I must have struck them as a hobo)

They then rolled their eyes.  At this point, I knew I was in for a treat.

The following sandwich artistry can only be called a comedy of errors.   They pulled out the wheat muffin and hastily slapped some cheese and ham on it.  I was curious as to why they didn’t toast the muffin first and judging by the confused expression on their face as they repeatedly followed the crib sheet posted over the ingredients (Hey.  It’s a new sandwich.  If it was me and they announced “SUBWAY PRESENTS- A SLICE OF CHEESE!” I’d still need a cheat sheet.  It isn’t easy being a tortured sandwich artist) they didn’t either.

My dual curiousity was how they’d handle the issue of the eggs?  I know that McD’s has a frozen, circular egg-shaped egg-patty that they simply need to heat up, but I didn’t see any hot plate or small skillet which would indicate it was prepared “on the spot” or that I was the lucky customer who was 1st in line for the sandwich, therefore getting the freshest one of the day.  No.  It was in one of the black covered containers looking a like white folded styrofoam picnic plate next to the ones that were looking like yellow folded styrofoam picnic plates…next to the sweet onion chicken teryaki.  Pre-made in muffin size.

It was all hastily stacked with the question “Pepper and onion?” (which is advertised as part of the sandwich.  And while I appreciate they asking, I thought it was kind of part of the deal from the get go.  If I order the sweet onion chicken teryaki, sans sauce, I might as well be getting the grilled chicken sub and they should re-name the breakfast sandwich the “Egg and Cheese on an English muffin w/fixin’s!” sandwich)

“Yes, please”  I responded.

All told, the damage was $2.16.  I scampered out to sample my purchase to the tune of “Your cheatin’ heart.”  What I was cheating on, I don’t know.

What you see above is what I unwrapped.  It went down in about 5 minutes with pieces of onion and pepper falling haphazardly into my lap.   The judges ruling- Meh.   This is a sandwich that I feel is a safe and healthy alternative for foodies/ova-lacto vegetarians trying to get something on the road that is (A) cheap and (B) Not laden with sodium/fat/calories.  It won’t be enough to keep you satisfied for a day, but at least you won’t feel like you have a slowly digesting gut-bomb in your belly.  Save that for the day-after an all-nighter.

Grade:  C+ for presentation/taste

Grade:  A- for cost/health

*If it hasn’t been posted before, here is a healthy alternative to all your McMuffin needs.  Please note, it isn’t pure veg/vegan, but it is tasty.  Also note, we make ours with Morningstar veggie sausage patties but there isn’t anything to say you can’t use the same type of veggie sausage in the tube or another brand.

Breakfast Buddy Sandwiches

Needed- Whole wheat English Muffins, Egg Beaters (or all egg-white Egg Beaters), Morningstar veggie sausage patties, a slice of Soy Cheese or Rice Cheese, butter or margarine.

Start the patties first as they’re frozen and will take the longest.  (Cook longer on lower heat for best results.  Start to heat the pan for the eggs at the same time. )  When the patties are sizzling and softening to the touch (careful!) and the egg pan is good and hot add the Egg Beaters.   If making two and using a larger pan, when the egg sets slice it down the middle with your spatula.  (Keep turning those patties!) Once the egg is set enough to fold in on itself to approximately English Muffin size, drop your muffin’s in the toaster.  Once they’ re done, butter each side.   Add one slice of cheese, then egg, then the sausage.   Top with the other half and enjoy.  (Be warned.  These suckers are hot)

It’s the day of the race, y’all…

We’re up, it’s early, and we’re running!  That’s right, today we embark on our first foot race, the Get in Gear 10K (getingear10k.com)  So if you’re out and about Minnehaha Falls or the surrounding 8 or 9 Kilometers, come on and cheer us on!   We’ll hopefully post results/pictures at  a later date, meanwhile we’re carbed up and ready to go!

Goooo Fitness!


(And it’s raining?  Of coooourse it’s raining)

New restaurants and sprouting green

Hi ho!

We crossed a couple restaurants off the ol’ bullet list this weekend.  Our thoughts on Crave and OM can be found here.  We also wandered into Louann’s Diner for the first time, an innocuous little truck-stop-esque diner in NE Minneapolis, handily located between the gym and home.  They’ve got killer buttermilk pancakes, which they serve all day.  Good enough for me.  We crawled in on our bellies after an 8-mile run at the gym on Saturday morning, and were promptly nourished with some good home-cookin’.

In other exciting news, our seeds have begun to sprout!  I planted 50 peat pods with various seeds–catnip, thyme, three varieties of tomato, two varieties of broccoli, and bell pepper.  I went to Mother Earth Gardens in S. Mpls for the supplies–organic seed-starting soil mix, peat pods, trays, and plastic domes.  $20 later, I was ready to go.  I spent a sunny afternoon on the porch last Thursday, beer in garden gloved-hand, nestling the little seeds into the rich, dark soil.

Per the helpful ladies’ instructions at the gardening store, I placed the tray on top of the radiator and watered the planted pods, covered them with the dome to emulate a greenhouse-like environment, and let Mother Nature take her course.  According to my seed packets, some of them would take 5-10 days to germinate, others longer.  But lo and behold, a mere 3 days after planting, a good third of the pods have sprouted!

I’m going to have to thin the seedlings at some point.  This is my first time starting veggies and herbs from seed, so it’s a learning process for me.  Anyone know anything about this seedling-thinning thing?  I need halp!  Soon I will take the whole tray to my office, where it can sit happily under the florescent light on the underside of my cubicle overhang for 6-8 weeks until it’s time to transfer them to the garden!  I’m preparing myself to lose some of them in this process, and I fully anticipate still having to buy transplants from the farmers’ market.  But if even a few of the plants I started from seed end up feeding us this summer, I will consider this experiment a grand success!

That’s all for now, buttons!

The Bullet List

You didn’t ask for it, but here it is anyway.   (List of restaurants we’d like to try)  Comment the system if you’ve been, or have any additional recommendations.  We’ll take all comers!  (Sadly, I had to self edit the list when I re-read it to remove the Birchwood Cafe’.  Insensitive me)

  • 112 Eatery
  • Om
  • La Grassa
  • Bewiched
  • Picosa
  • Oceannaire
  • Seward Café’
  • Ichiban
  • Kikugawa
  • Taste Of India (St. Louis Park)
  • Crave
  • Bar Lurcat
  • Burger Jones (me)
  • The Lyndale
  • Mt. Fuji Sushi
  • Namaste Café
  • Meritage
  • Broders Pasta Bar
  • Duplex
  • Chino Latino
  • Azia
  • Alma
  • Muffeletta
  • Szechuan (In Roseville)
  • Café Twenty-Eight

Get on out/Find your route

Well we have been gifted this year with some remarkably warm weather rolling around sooner rather than later.  (My backyard stretching to the garden is free of snow, and even the dirty piles pushed up by the plows are non-existant on my block.  Heck, the only ground cover that does seem to be pervasive is that weird looking “snow mold”.  For a while I thought a cottonwood tree was blowing…until I realized there aren’t any on my block.  Mystery solved) 

What was just as exciting was that yesterday marked the first outdoor run for me in 2010.   Up until I signed up for the upcoming runs,  jogging has been a mostly recreational fitness activity aimed at keeping the weight down and improving my cardiovascular system.  I had a rough estimate of how far my “route” was, using street blockage as the measure (And the occasional car-ride, watching the odometer)  Pretty slipshod all told.  However our ‘Thon training is requiring a change in how I usually do it, and when it starts getting to be closer to race day, “eyeballing” distances wasn’t gonna cut it.  Thankfully my co-hippo has been a research master and found this little website:  http://www.mapmyrun.com

It’s free for all, recommends runs in your neighborhood/city, and let’s you map out and save your current running route.   It took me a few tries to get the hang of it, but I found it to be a helpful tool.  She and I “friended” each other and can send/recommend potential routes – All while getting the correct distances factored in.   I found a nice 4 miler that’s gonna help keep my current runs from being too hilly.  Yahoo!

In other training news-  We hit “Marathon Sports” in S. Minneapolis and had our shoes and walking “gait” examined.  They recommended an insert for our high arches.  It feels okay in my new shoes (I broke’em in on the treadmill at the club) but my “outdoor” trainers were a little too tight and gave me some wicked blisters.  On our drive back, we figured that we’re gonna hit a double “Lakes” run which gets you just past 6 miles.   

Then Sunday, we managed a nice 3.5 miles walk through the local parkway which parlayed into my first training run two days later.  (Approximately 4.12 miles by the MapMyRun website)  I’ll be really honest with you.  My legs were pounding.  I probably ran 80% of it.   Very hilly, my neighborhood.

In other tech-y news, my co-hippo is now the proud owner of a heart rate monitor/mileage dealie.  Apparently if you wear it on the treadmill at the club, it “talks” to the ‘Mill to give on ongoing status of your heartrate.  (Which was weird when she came over to talk to me and the HR monitor started flashing her heart rate.)

Lastly- Both of us have remarked that since we started training in earnest, our legs are feeling “springier”.  It’s nice to finally have our bodies start acclimating to the stress we’re placing on them

Next up- I’m gonna be trying 5.5 miles this weekend, and 6 after that.  We’re only a little over 6 weeks away from our first 10K!

Springing into action/In memorium

Wow.  I sort of epically failed by not posting anything last week about the “Fork the Fire” benefit for the owner of the Blackbird Cafe’.  (My humblest apologies to the foodies out there who deserved to know about it.  Future events such as these will be posted more promptly)

Long story short, many of you readers may have heard about how a fire gutted the popular Blackbird in SW Minneapolis.  Several restaurants and bistro’s  decided to hold a fundraiser on 3/14 by diverting a portion of your bill to the cause.  For our part, we met buddies at Cafe’ Maude for brunch.  I feel like we’ve posted a formal review of Maude in the past so I’ll try to keep it brief- Brunch at Maude was delicious, per normal.  I learned what “harissa” is and it’s hot.  (It’s in their hash) Their French Fries are delicious, and truffled thank you very much.  And the best part has to be their fresh squeezed orange juice which filled me with love…and vitamin C.   Hippolyta and I have placed Maude on our bullet list for dinner one of these nights (we’ve only noshed on apps late at night) so expect a more formal review in the future.

So yes, it was good food for a good cause and you just can’t beat that.  And buddy-time is not that bad either.

(Blackbird UPDATE- http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/taste/87709397.html?elr=KArksLckD8EQDUoaEyqyP4O:DW3ckUiD3aPc:_Yyc:aUUsZ )

In other news, I was just informed that LeeAnn Chin has passed away:  (Source:  http://blogs.mspmag.com/foodiefile/2010/03/leeann-chin-passes-away.html)  For many Minnesotan’s, Chins is a staple in the easily accessible Chinese family fare category.  At one point in my teens my closest buddies all were employed at the Brooklyn Center location (Now home of “Taste of India”)  Many a night were spent loitering after hours and I’d usually wind up with a few bags of Peking Chicken or the Chicken Salads to take home for free.

I confess that I haven’t patronized a Chin’s in a while, but I do have some fond memories of the establishment.

The “Root” of all Evil

In my mind, (and our other hippo admin will roll her eyes) when a vegetable, more specifically a root vegetable  is described as “earthy”- to me that means “dirt”.  As in “tastes like”.   It’s not that I’m adverse to veggies that spend a majority of their maturation underground, (I’m talking about you, carrots and baby red potatoes) it’s just that sweet potatoes, turnips, parsnips, etc. have never really been high on my list of sides.  Which is unfortunate b/c it usually plays out that whenever a side dish is suggested at one of the Hippo satellite residences, sweet potatoes usually get the hearty nod from herself while I’m left cringing in my slippers.

But the noble sweet potato is more than an incredible source of nutrients, it can also be called upon to be something greater than the glorified Thanksgiving dish that gets covered in miniature marshmallows.  The other night, we ordered a deli rotisserie chicken from the Holy Land Restaurant on Lowry and Central and for a simple side we made the following healthy melange’ of earthy “root” vegetables.  (Including the dreaded pairing of brussel sprouts and…gasp…parsnips.  Leave me be.  I’m working on getting past my bias.)  This was incredibly tasty and whips up in about 15 minutes of prep time (with a helper) and around 45 minutes in the oven at 450.  As an added bonus?  A swoon-worthy alternative to your holiday mashed sweet potatoes- “Fiery Sweet Potatoes”.     (A sweet and spicy whipped blend of deliciousness)

Bon Apetit!

(source- http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/giada-de-laurentiis/roasted-potatoes-carrots-parsnips-and-brussels-sprouts-recipe2/index.html)

Roasted Roots

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots (about 3/4 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick circles
  • 1 1/2 cups Brussels sprouts (about 1/2 pound), halved
  • 4 cups red bliss potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 3 medium parsnips (about1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 cup sweet potatoes (about 1 pound), cut into 1 1/2-inch thick slices
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons freshly ground black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Grease an 11 by 17-inch baking sheet pan with extra-virgin olive oil. Place vegetables in baking sheet and add the dried herbs, salt and pepper. Toss well, evenly coating all the vegetables with the seasonings and oil. Add more oil if the vegetables seem dry

Spread the vegetables evenly on a large baking sheet. Place on middle rack in oven and bake for 35 to 40 minutes.

Fiery Sweet Potatoes

(Source-http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/11/dining/111srex.html?_r=1&emc=eta1)

Time: About 2 hours

5 pounds sweet potatoes

1 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste

1/2 cup dark brown sugar

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon salt.

 

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Bake potatoes on a baking sheet until very soft, about 1 hour. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash.

2. In a small saucepan, heat coconut milk with curry paste over low heat. Mix coconut milk mixture, half the sugar, half the butter, and salt into potatoes. Keep warm until ready to serve, or cover and refrigerate up to two days.

3. At least 30 minutes before serving, heat oven to 425 degrees. Put potatoes in a baking dish, cover with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover potatoes, dot with remaining butter and sugar and broil until brown and crusty on top, checking often to prevent scorching.

Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

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