Veggie Burger Deliciousness

I am slowly making my transition into a meatless diet. So far, I have not had any slip ups, but today I needed a burger. A staple in a vegetarian diet is the veggie burger so I decided it was time to try it.

At first, I was timid. Picking up the flimsy burger and placing it on the skillet, I was really questioning how good this was going to taste.

I set the skillet on medium heat and put the burger on, 2-3 minutes per side. I put some cheese on it to give it more flavor.

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The burger was ready in no time. I put lettuce and onion on the burger to add some more vegginess. Adding a side salad ensures that you’ll have a full stomach.

The veggie burger did not disappoint. The texture is completely different than a regular burger, but the flavor makes up for that. The additional veggies and cheese only boosted this delicious flavor.

This is a quick and easy meal that doesn’t cost much. A 4-pack of veggie burgers will run you only $4 at the local grocery store. The veggie burger is a must no matter what the diet!

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Spring Break in Quebec City

While other UMaine students were enjoying the sun and sand in Florida, my friends and I traveled up to Canada to enjoy the nice wintry weather. Okay, actually, we just wanted to try out Quebec City’s coolest pubs and clubs.

Being under 21, we had thorough knowledge of the cheapest beers in Maine. The occasional sip of nice beer or wine during a family dinner was our extent of nice beer. We set out to Hotel Le Concorde on Grande Allee to explore what Quebec City had to offer.

Out of the many pubs and restaurants we visited, these three were my favorites.

1. Taverne Grande Allee

This was our favorite bar during our whole trip. The staff was so friendly that we were Facebook friends by the end of the night. I tried the Mystique cider which was sweet and delicious. Though it tasted like a “girly drink”, it looked like a light beer. Another of my favorites was the Lemon Amaretto. The bartender grabbed a fairly large Citrus Juicer and a glass of Amaretto. I squeezed the lemon juice into the glass and basically made my own drink. This was quite possibly my favorite drink during the trip.

2. Bar L’inox

Another great bar on the street, but with even cheaper prices. $5 pints of beer and $7 cocktails. For music, the bartender plugged in his iPod and it created a great atmosphere. This was the bar where I had my first Long Island which apparently consists of four different types of alcohol. I would suggest to anyone that wants to try this drink to only have one because it is very strong to say the least.

3. La Piazz

An underground bar with live music and great drinks. It was a very small and cozy bar with not very many people inside at first. This is where I had my first Cosmopolitan and it was delicious. The musician would play any of our requested songs and had great chemistry with the audience, which at first was just us.

The trip was an overall success. Though we could not go to the Sunshine State, we were happy to be in Quebec City drinking great drinks and meeting some fascinating people.

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Budget Meal of the Week: Rice-A-Roni & Chicken

One of the easiest, cheapest meals known to man is Rice-A-Roni with chicken. The Rice-A-Roni (chicken flavored) is just $1 and just under a pound of chicken tenderloin comes to $2.85.

As a college student, it is absolutely vital that you learn how to fix Rice-A-Roni along with chicken. This is a meal for two for under five bucks. That is sweet, sweet music to every broke students’ ears.

For the Rice-A-Roni grab a skillet and put it on medium heat. Dump the rice into the skillet and throw in a tablespoon of butter. Once the rice is a nice golden brown color, pour in 2 1/2 cups of water and stir in the Rice-A-Roni Chicken seasoning mix. Bring it to a boil, then cover it with a lid and let it simmer for 10-15 minutes. That’s it.

For the chicken grab another skillet and spray it down with some Pam. My favorite is the Superior Nonstick Olive Oil spray. Turn the skillet up to medium heat and put on your strips of chicken tenderloin (4 strips).

key part to making this chicken delicious is using a rub/seasoning. Many people like to use McCormick’s Montreal Chicken seasoning, including myself, but I used Jimbo’s Spice Rubs Garlic Flavor. You can make this fun and experiment with all different types of seasonings and rubs!

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After about 15 minutes or so, the chicken will be done. Make sure you cut into the biggest piece to see if it has cooked all the way through. Raw chicken is bad chicken.

Once this is complete, your dish is done! If you’re looking to add some veggies to your dish, try a side of salad with dressing which would only bump you up a couple more bucks.

This chicken and rice meal is one of the cheapest, most delectable meals in the unofficial broke college kid’s cookbook.

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Pepino’s Mexican Restaurant: New and Better Location

When I heard that Pepino’s in Bangor changed its location, I didn’t know what to expect. I knew it was time to get out of the small, cramped plaza on Stillwater Avenue, but I didn’t know if Park Street in Downtown Bangor was really the right place to go. When I walked up Park Street and saw the restaurant from the outside it became immediately clear to me- this was the place to go.

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From the outside, the restaurant looked spacious, but cozy. There were window seats and beautiful Mexican-styled decorations on the brick walls. “Pepino’s” was written across the many windows. Once I walked in, it only got better.

I was immediately greeted by a waitress who asked me how I was doing. It was so sincere and refreshing compared to walking in, waiting in line and being asked “How many?”

A good friend of mine who is a host brought my party and I to our seat. “Give us the best table in the house,” I joked. “Right this way,” she said with a smirk.

Our table was right by a window which had pillows propped up on it. The view overlooked Downtown Bangor which was beautiful at night. Who would have thought a small city in Maine could light up so bright at night? The lights from the buildings mixed with the stars and moon in the sky. We truly got the best table in the house.

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We were introduced to our waitress who was very personable and had a bubbly personality. We were served our waters and ordered our drinks. The prices were reasonable with a lemonade at $2.50 and Margaritas $4.50 a piece. Right after the drinks were served, the salsa and chips were brought out. The salsa is such an important part of a Mexican restaurant because it sets the tone for how your appetizers or meals will be. If you get a bad salsa, you’ll be worried about that entree.

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Luckily, this wasn’t the case. The salsa had a tang to it that tasted somewhat peachy and like it had mango in it. With a little more spice, it would have been the perfect salsa.

For the entree, I decided on the “Combination” plate. Being the cheap college student that I am, this is the best bang for your buck. For $11 you get to choose from a variety of combination plates with the addition of either a taco, cheese crisp, nacho, rice, beans or chili. I chose the #2 which was a beef burrito, cheese enchilada and a side of black beans. A side of guacamole for an additional $2.50? Do I even have to ask? Guac is a necessity.

The food came out in no time, which could send some people into a panic. Why was this made so quickly? Did they pop it in the microwave for two minutes and then throw it on a plate? No way.

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The food tasted like your mother slaved away in the kitchen all day making it from vegetables in her own garden. It tasted so real. Natural and homemade, every bite was beyond delicious. Looking at the plate, I was somewhat worried that it wouldn’t fill me up. One burrito, one enchilada and a small bowl of beans. Halfway through the burrito, I could barely eat another bite. Somehow, though, I found a way to eat it all.

With the cozy atmosphere and scrumptious food, Pepino’s is better than ever at its new Park Street location.

Cold Weather Chili

When I was on my way to the grocery store today, I had no plan for what I was going to get. After finding a place to park in the Bell’s IGA parking lot, it took me about 30 seconds to reach the entrance. Within those 30 seconds, my hands were frozen, my body temperature felt like it dropped 10 degrees and I was making plans to move to Florida. Once I walked into the store, I took a deep breath and thought to myself, “Screw it, I’m making chili.”

Beans, beans and more beans. That’s the perfect type of chili. Gather together a can of kidney beans, black beans and baked beans for this Cold Weather Chili. A 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes and a 15 oz. can of tomato sauce are a must. If you want the perfect seasoning, grab McCormick’s chili seasoning. It will blow your mind.

If you are a carnivore, grab a pound of beef to throw in your dish.

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A while back at the Harvest Festival in Bangor, I bought a can of Jimbo’s Spice Rubs: Hot & Spicy Flavor. I put a dash of this in my beef just to add a bit of spiciness to it. This stuff is strong. I almost went blind when I accidentally rubbed my eyes after handling it. Tip: Use a spoon.

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If you have a slow cooker, combine the ingredients and put it on low for 8 hours or high for 4 hours. But let’s face it, I’m impatient and I need food now. If this feeling is mutual, you’ll need to grab a pot and put it on simmer for an hour.

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After the hour is up, serve yourself some warm, delicious Cold Weather Chili and add some Mexican-blend shredded cheese on top. You can’t go wrong, or cold, with this spicy dish!

Instagram Changes the Blogging World

You can’t seem to go out to a restaurant without seeing people taking pictures of their meals with their phones. This trend has come from the introduction of the successful mobile app Instagram.

When Instagram, the mobile-photo sharing app/social networking service, was released in 2010, it started with just about 1 million users. Today there are about 300 million users. Documenting meals, adding captions and filters, has led us to a new world (and meaning) of food blogging.

Thousands upon thousands of Instagram users consider themselves food bloggers. These stretch from celebrities (Rachael Ray and Giada De Laurentiis) to people from your hometown with a couple hundred followers. The introduction of this photo sharing app has started a revolution of food bloggers.

The popularity is because of the accessibility and convenience of the app. You can whip out your phone at any time, snap a pic, and post it all under 30 seconds.

Instagram is so important for anyone beginning a blog or continuing one. It is a great way to get the word out about your blog and a way to grab people’s interest.

There are three key features when it comes to Instagram and your food blog.

1. #hashtagging

I cannot stress enough about how important this is to spreading the word about your blog. This is how you get people to find your website in the first place and then get to reading and following. Using “#” followed by any word that describes the content of your picture will enable anyone searching that word to find your picture and lead them to your blog.

2. Filters

Use the various options to make your picture more appealing. Brighten it up, add some contrast- this is basically a necessity when it comes to food pictures.

3. Following

To further promote your blog, follow similar account. This will only help spread your blog among the food blogging community. It also gives you great ideas for future blog posts or things to try. I Am A Food Blog and Serious Eats are two good ones.

Without Instagram, food blogging would not be as popular or as easy to follow. It makes it so anyone can become a food blogger or photographer.

I want to be a food blogger so I can spark some creativity and new ideas for my readers. So much can be done with food, making food blogging a necessity.

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Photo from Serious Eats

Burrito Bowl: Your kitchen vs. Chipotle

After a few months of total patience, I broke down. When will the Chipotle by the Bangor Mall open, for crying out loud? Rumor has it, the Mexican casual-dining restaurant will be opening its doors next week. Well, I couldn’t wait. I needed my Bean Burrito Bowl with Cilantro-Lime Rice. I decided to make it on my own.

Ingredients:

– 1 can black beans

– 2 cups jasmine rice

– 2 tablespoons butter

– 1/2 cup cilantro

– 2 limes

– 2 avocados

– 1 onion

– 1 tomato

– head of lettuce

– Mexican blend shredded cheese

Start out by making the rice. Pour 2 cups of rice into boiling water. Cover and let simmer for about 15 minutes. When you turn it down to simmer, mix in the cilantro and squeeze in one lime. Put in the 2 tablespoons of butter. Chop up half of the onion and add to the rice.

Heat up the can of black beans in a pot on medium heat.

While waiting for your rice, start making the guac! Take two avocados, peel, and mash. Chop up the other half of your onion and your tomato. Add to the mixture. Squeeze in one lime. Add cilantro if preferred. Guac done. 

When those 15 minutes are up, your rice should be done. Chop up as much lettuce as you want for the topping of your burrito bowl. It’s time to get served.

In this order, add rice, beans, cheese, lettuce and guac to a good-size bowl. Sour cream is another good topping.

 

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It was a very tasty dish, no doubt about it. But, in the words of Missy Elliott, “Is it worth it?”

My answer? Absolutely not.

The amount of money you spend to get all of the ingredients compared to the end result is not better than going to Chipotle and buying a burrito bowl. My total bill for all of the ingredients was almost $20. A burrito bowl with guac at Chipotle will bring you to almost $10. So it is less expensive to go buy one and it tastes better, too. There are some things you just cannot recreate and a Chipotle Burrito Bowl is one of them.

The countdown for the Bangor, ME Chipotle begins.