food

I tried Gardein’s Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n

My Gardein’s Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n on steamed rice

I’m always a little curious about vegetarian replacements for meat, especially since vegetarian options have proved to be much easier for my digestion.  I have had pretty good luck with Gardein in the past so when I saw this Mandarin Orange Crispy Chick’n I was fully on board.  Full disclosure, I’m not a big fan of chicken find it to be basically flavorless.  Although, I do enjoy chicken nuggets.  Because of this I was fairly certain I wouldn’t be disappointed if this didn’t taste like chicken.  So here’s what I thought.


Be sure to read the packaging!  As you can see in the picture, 140 calories is highlighted in a beautiful, encouraging, green.  Sounds great, right?  Below that, not highlighted, it states “per serving without sauce”.  If you are buying this you want the sauce, otherwise it’s not Mandarin Orange.  I did not read the packaging.  Luckily, I was not worried about the calories today.  Besides, this review isn’t about healthiness or calories, just taste.

There were a few different cooking options listed on the back.  The front of the package says it takes 8 minutes and that is probably accurate if you cook it on the stove.  Keep in mind that the rice is not included so factor that into your cooking time.  I have a rice steamer so I started the rice just before starting the oven preheating.  I chose the bake option for my “Chick’n” and this takes about 16 minutes once the oven is ready.  I line my pans with foil and then spray an olive oil cooking spray on the foil.  Next step, spread out the nuggets and placed in the oven for 8 minutes.  After 8 minutes, I turned the pieces over and cooked for 8 more minutes.  The sauce packet needs placed in hot water for at least 3 minutes to warm up.  Once the pieces are cooked, place them in a bowl, pour the sauce in and stir the pieces in the sauce.

Once I put the pieces on the bed of rice and tossed on some green onion, I was ready to enjoy!  The flavor of the sauce was pretty tasty.  A sweet taste with a hint of citrus.  It had the consistency of syrup and I would prefer it a little thicker, but it covered the pieces well.  The nuggets themselves seemed to taste a lot like chicken nuggets to me.  The breading was pretty good and the texture was very much like a chicken nugget.  I thought the sauce was going to make the pieces soggy or soft, but they remained crispy.  I’ve tried other frozen chicken nuggets, that had meat and I thought these were pretty comparable 

The overall result is that I was pleasantly surprised and would recommend giving it a try.  I will be buying it again and I hope you like it too.

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A fried rice Thanksgiving

My husband and I are not overly traditional.  We believe you should celebrate, or not celebrate, holidays the way you want and not what tradition tells you.  If it were up to us, we wouldn’t celebrate holidays at all, but family has other plans.  However, those plans are not until later so we got to have our version of thanksgiving this year.  What is our version of Thanksgiving?  A regular, ordinary, day off.  Ahh, so nice.  So for lunch I made something fast and easy.  Fried rice.

My kitchen and the dishes I cook, are fairly minimalist.  I have plenty of cabinets for storage, but most of them are almost empty.  I don’t buy a lot of cookery or seasonings.  I keep the basics and that’s pretty much it.  There are a couple things that I like about this.  

1.  Easy preparation and therefore, easy cleanup.

2.  Fewer supplies means you have to get creative sometimes.

One of the things I do have is a rice cooker.  I love this thing and highly recommend having one.  So here is my simple way of making delicious fried rice. 

  • First, steam the amount of rice you are wanting to make.  I recommend going by what the instructions on the bag of rice says.  I kind of eyeball it and the amount never comes out the same twice.  We like the whole grain rice, but you can’t choose a different kind.  This is the part that takes the most time.  For two people I think it takes my cooker about 20 minutes.
  • When the rice is steamed, in a large skillet or wok, heat up about two tablespoons of olive oil on medium high heat.
  • Scramble one egg and a chopped vegetable of your choice.  I prefer snow peas or sugar snap peas.  Some people like to add carrots.  The beautiful thing about fried rice is that it’s very easy to customize.
  • Once the egg is fried and scrambled up, add the steamed rice to the skillet. 
  • Stir until mixed well.
  • I like to add my soy sauce into the skillet and cook it into the fried rice.  You can add your soy sauce later if you prefer.
  • Add a serving to the plate and you’re ready to enjoy!

I apologize that I don’t put specific measurements in my recipes, but that’s just not how I cook.  I want to give people the freedom to choose what they want in their dish.  If you love vegetables, feel free to add more!  Maybe you like a lot of egg in your fried rice.  The important thing is to find out what works for you and go with it.  Happy eating!

Can we go back to simple dining, please?

Maybe things have always been this way, but it seems to me that we are trying to play everything up to the most extreme version possible. More atmosphere, more flavor, more expense. If it’s not hip no one wants to go there and it’s not hip unless its overpriced and has a long line to enter. Two things I can’t abide, paying more than something is worth and lines. I don’t find the hipster atmosphere and over priced food a fair trade for the portion of my life spent wraiting in your line.

That being said, I am perfectly aware that a lot of people really enjoy these places and would love to find more of them. I am just not one of them.  My two favorite places to eat in Denver are iconic Colfax locations, but simple and inexpensive.

Tom’s Diner.  Tom’s looks like it hasn’t changed its decor since the 1960’s.  Not in the way a hipster restaurant had a designer scour the earth for the perfect retro style, but like everything was purchased in the 60’s and well cared for ever since.  I’m certain my mother had those exact plates when I was a child.  Granted, I wasn’t born until 1973, but she didn’t buy new dishes until the 80’s.  Walking into Tom’s is like stepping back in time.  A beautiful time machine that makes me feel at home.  The food at a diner was never meant to be “amazing”, but is meant to be comfort food like your mom, or you, would make at home.  Tom’s provides good food, and lots of it, at a good price with great service.  In fact, the staff has always been one of the things I love most.   Every person working there has a unique character all their own and are enjoyable to be around.  From my experience, this is just the Colfax way and Tom’s Diner is definitely a part of Colfax.

Steve’s Snappin’ Dogs.  Another Colfax staple that has perfected simple dining.  As you would expect from a place that specializes in hot dogs, you order at the counter and wait for your number to be called.  You can sit at a counter inside or have a picnic in the patio.  The patio area has tables and a pet station so Fido can hang with the family.  One of the great things about Denver is that it’s pretty pet friendly.  With about 300 days of sun a year and fairly mild weather, we are outside a lot and like to bring our furry family members along.  Decorating the patio area walls is the history of Steve’s for your light reading pleasure.  The food is quite tasty with lots of options to choose from, but of course, I always go for chili dogs.  Even though it’s small and there are always people there, it never feels over crowded.  Just cozy.