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Archive for June, 2009

The Reluctant McDonald’s Angus Burger Review

Posted by bronzechains on June 28, 2009

Reluctant?  Yup.  And I’ll tell you why.  I made a late night run to McD’s, and saw that the local store finally has the new Angus Third Pounder burgers available!  I’m a sucker for new products, so of course I decided to partake.  The Angus Bacon and Cheese burger looked like a potential winner, so I ordered it.  The girl at the drive-thru window was particularly friendly, and we chatted for a bit while I waited for my heart attack in a bag to be prepared.  Five minutes later, I was staring at the wrong burger.  Those dirty bastards had given me the Mushroom and Swiss burger!  I’m not a mushroom and swiss person usually.  The last time I had one was the portobello and swiss burger from Steak ‘n Shake, and that was a horrible experience I won’t ever go through again.  I can still taste that awful turdburger, and it’s been months.  Anyway, I’m a little reluctant to go ahead with this review, since it’s not what I intended.  BUT…

Rather than piss and moan over the wrong burger, I decided to just go for it.  Lemonade from lemons and all that, you know.  Here’s a photo of my non-bacon and cheese burger, after one bite:

mcdonaldsangus

Before I delve into the actual review of the sandwich, I should mention that I’ll NEVER pat McDonald’s on the back unless they really deserve it.  There are a few fast food joints that I favor, and McDonald’s isn’t one of them.  They just don’t often impress me.  So when they do try something new, it had better be pretty damned good.

And…..it was!  This burger is surprisingly excellent for something from McDonald’s.  The bun was nothing to rave about, but it did it’s job just fine.  No complaints at all there.  The mushrooms were not smothered in brown gravy, which was a very welcome change from many fast food ‘shroom and swiss offerings.  I don’t enjoy flavorless mushrooms swimming in salty brown goo.  No sir, I don’t like it.  These mushrooms were all on their own, and quite tasty.  The swiss cheese was the real deal, too.  It really pisses me off when a fast food restaurant claims to have swiss cheese on a sandwich, and it’s pretty much the equivalent of white american cheese.  No texture, no flavor.  That is B.S., and I won’t stand for it.  I’ve seen Wendy’s do that crap, and I expect more from them.  McD’s actually sprung for REAL swiss cheese on this burger, and it made all the difference in the world.  I can’t stress how pleased I am to see actual swiss on a fast food burger.  Big bonus points there.  In addition to the cheese and mushrooms, there was also a decent touch of mayonnaise.  Now, on to one of the most important points…the meat.  Was it dry?  Was it too greasy?  Did it have any flavor at all?  The anticipation was killing me.  Considering this burger came from McDonald’s, I was really impressed.  It had a good beef flavor, and it was well seasoned.  A little salt and pepper, but not too much.  The burger was juicy, but not greasy.  I’m sure the amount of grease and seasoning will vary a bit from burger to burger, but this one was an all-out winner.  I couldn’t have imagined this thing turning out as well as it did.  My expectations were fairly low, though.  Considering that I’m not a mushroom ‘n swiss fan at all, I’m surprised at how much I liked this sandwich.  I could see myself ordering another one, and that’s saying a lot.  I don’t know if this burger beats out the Steakhouse XT from BK, but it’s a contender for sure.

My midnight trip to McDonald’s was mostly a success.  I’ve worked in the food service industry before, so I understand that mistakes are made from time to time.  I’m not going to be a bitch about getting the wrong burger.  If I’d noticed the mistake before I got home, I may have turned around and taken care of it.  The service was fast and friendly, and the food was good.  My fries were about an 8, with a 10 being the best McDonald’s fries I’ve had.  I’m going to have to give McDonald’s a gold star this time.  I wish I’d gotten the right sandwich, but their mistake turned out to be a nice surprise.

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Posted in Food | Tagged: , , , | 9 Comments »

Mama Mary’s Pizza Crusts

Posted by bronzechains on June 16, 2009

pizzacrusts

Marco made a run to the gas station for coffee while we were at work last night and brought me back a french vanilla cappucino.  It was delicious.  I’m not usually a coffee person, but that hit the spot.  I almost felt like I was drinking dessert.  But this review isn’t about cappucino.  I just wanted to share that with you.  Don’t you feel like we’re a little bit closer now?  I do.

I’ve purchased Mama Mary’s pre-baked pizza crusts for a while now, and I’m ready to share my thoughts.  They’re available in 7 and 12 inch sizes, and come in several varieties.  I’ve only purchased the 7 inch traditional crusts, so I’ll focus on them for this review.  I bought a 3 pack of the 7 inch crusts at Wal-Mart for just under three dollars.  They work out to somewhere between 80-90 cents per crust.  In other words, really cheap.  I always keep random pizza ingredients on hand so I can throw together a quick pie whenever the mood strikes me.  Today, I made a grilled chicken pizza with green peppers and onions.  Nothing too fancy, but it was tasty.  The instructions on the Mama Mary’s package suggests topping your crust with whatever, and baking it in a 450 F oven for 7-10 minutes.  I usually go 8 or 9 minutes, but it really just depends on your oven. Don’t bother with a pizza pan, either.  These do just fine placed directly on the rack.

pizza1

Regarding nutrition, this isn’t the healthiest option in the grocery store.  Just don’t eat them all the time and it’s no big deal.  Each crust contains 374 calories, and 12 grams of fat.  The package says that a serving is 1/2 of a pizza crust, but I eat the whole thing.  Then again, I usually don’t have anything with the pizza.  If I were having a salad or some bread or something, 1/2 a pizza might do the trick.

pizza2

A pizza crust is an incredibly versatile foundation for a meal.  You can put just about anything on a pizza that you can imagine.  The fact that these crusts are ready to go out of the bag is a BIG bonus.  I keep mine in the freezer, and just take one out whenever I need it.  The crusts crisp up nicely in the oven if you leave them in long enough, and the taste is exceptional for a pre-baked crust.  The flavor is slightly sweet, but doesn’t overpower the rest of the pizza.  These crusts will hold up to a heavy load of toppings, too.  I haven’t ever had the sauce soak through the crust and turn it into a soggy mess.  I’ve made 8 or 10 pizzas using these crusts, and I haven’t been let down yet.  This is a consistent product that’s well worth the price.  I’ve tried other pre-baked crusts, and Mama Mary’s is definitely my favorite.  Making your own pizza is a lot of fun, but going the homemade dough route adds a lot of time and effort to the process.  If you have the time, that’s great.  But using a pre-baked crust makes this task easier and more accessible.  If you can chop vegetables and open a pepperoni package, you can handle making your own pizza.  Keep a package of these in your freezer, and keep them in mind when various leftovers end up in your fridge.  You might come up with some pretty badass pizza ideas.

Bonus tip: (because you’ve been such a good reader today)

Pre-baked pizza crusts make a great start for a fun dinner project with kids, too.  Get some cheese, sauce, veggies, and whatever else your kids like, and let them have at it.  My kids always get a kick out of making their own pizzas by adding sauce and toppings to the crusts, and watching their creations bake in the oven.  It’s a good way to get your kids familiar with cooking, without having to worry about making a huge mess or severing their poor little fingers with sharp knives.  You know, because that would be bad.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

WoW Mountain Dew!

Posted by bronzechains on June 13, 2009

Mountain Dew has their fingers in the “hardcore gamer” market again, ladies and gents.  You may remember when the Halo 3 Game Fuel version of Mt. Dew appeared back in 2007.  It was a cherry-citrus flavored Dew, and was a limited edition.  The Game Fuel tag is back on the bottles again, along with some fancy new World of Warcraft graphics.  The marketing folks at the Pepsi corporation realize that the hardcore WoW players need their caffeine/sugar fix.  While there are certainly more appropriate beverages on the market for gamers looking for a jolt, Mt. Dew is cheap and readily available.  So, the flashy bottle graphics are accounted for.  But once the gamers buy a bottle, is the taste enough to keep them coming back for more?  I plunked down two of my hard-earned dollars (lol) to find out.

I should point out that I’ve never, ever played World of Warcraft.  I know that the Alliance are the good guys, and the Horde are the bad guys.  That is the extent of my knowledge on the subject.  I don’t know WoW, but I know soda.  And considering that the game influence ends with the packaging, I think I’m qualified to bang the gavel on this subject.

Behold, Mountain Dew Game Fuel Alliance Blue:

mtdewblue

mtdewblue2

As you can see from the photographs, this Dew sports a pointy-eared blue chick.  Feel free to enlighten me as to the name/race/etc. of this lady if you’re in the know.  I’ll promise to remember it for a minute or two.  Aside from the sweet graphics, this variety of Mt. Dew features a “punch of wild fruit flavor”.  If the description were more honest, it would say “Mountain Dew with a shot of Hawaiian Punch”.  Because that’s exactly what it tastes like.  But believe me, that’s not a bad thing.  It took me  a few sips to come to the conclusion that there’s a distinct “fruit punch” flavor to this drink.  It’s a simple idea, yes.  It’s also a fantastic idea, fo sho.  Most of the gimmicky, limited edition flavors that come out just don’t have enough appeal to warrant a repeat purchase.  This stuff, however, has some good replay value (to put it in video game terms).  If I drank sugared sodas regularly, I’d buy a case of this stuff.  Alas, I’m a diet soda drinker.  I may make an exception once a week or so, and splurge on a bottle of the Alliance Blue until it’s gone.  Certainly better than the last bright blue soda I had. Thumbs up for the Alliance Blue flavor!
Now, the rest of the story…..(anybody get that reference?)

This, my friends, is Game Fuel Horde Red:

mtdewred

I bought this one a couple of days after the Alliance Blue, and I forgot to take a picture this time.  Google Image Search saved the day, though.  Sorry.  Anyway, this Dew also has cool imagery.  Not sure what Nancy Grace has to do with WoW, though……  Hey, cut me some slack.  Not all the jokes can be winners.  “A blast of citrus cherry flavor” awaits you inside the bottle, or so says the label.  Citrus cherry?  Isn’t that the same flavor they advertised on the Halo 3 Mountain Dew a couple years ago?  Yup.  That means this is the same soda they had back then.  Guess what?  It still sucks just as much now as it did the first time.  I remember how much I disliked the Halo 3 Game Fuel, and this tastes exactly the same.  They just pulled out the old recipe card and slapped a new label on it.  I really don’t like this flavor at all.  It tastes kind of like they soaked the bitter rind of oranges in Mt. Dew Code Red.  Not exactly, but that’s the best description I could come up with.  It’s just not a good flavor, and I’m a little bit disappointed that the flavor was just re-released.  As far as I know, the Alliance Blue is a new flavor.  Why half-ass this promotion and repackage an old flavor?  I guess it’s not really a big deal, but they can still suck it.  If they were going to revive a discontinued flavor, why not go with Pitch Black II?  That was one of my favorite soda flavor variants EVER.  The first Pitch Black wasn’t that great, but the sequel?  Come on, that was the real deal.  Sour grape Mountain Dew may not sound good in print, but I’ll be damned if it didn’t work magic on my taste buds.  Here are a few highlights of my vision for a perfect world:  Blues Brothers 2000 would never have been made, there would still be a Target store in my town, and Mountain Dew Pitch Black II would be a regular flavor in the Dew arsenal.  Oh, and pizza wouldn’t make you fat.

So, Mt. Dew scores a win and a loss this time around.  I’m wondering what soda brands would have tie-ins with some of the less hardcore video games on the market….   3 words:  Minesweeper Diet Rite.  I’d buy it.  Don’t even act like you wouldn’t.

Posted in Food, Grocery | Leave a Comment »

Apple Ipod Classic 120 GB

Posted by bronzechains on June 4, 2009

I’ve had my Ipod for a couple of weeks now, which I think is enough evaluation time for a product review.  If it takes a shit in another week or something, I’ll let you know.  I purchased the black version of the latest (7th generation) Ipod classic.  With a 120 GB hard drive, this thing dwarfs the 30 GB Ipod I used to have in terms of storage space.  Apple says it’s less than half an inch thick, but I’m not going to get out a measuring tape to verify that.  It’s thin enough for me, and that’s all that matters (that’s what she said).  Apple also claims that this Ipod will hold up to 30,000 songs, 150 hours of video, or 25,000 photos.  But we all know that those numbers are total crap, because they’re based on file sizes that Apple decided upon to make the storage space look better.  I know all about their trickery though, so I pay no attention to their flashy numbers.  I know that 120 GB is enough to store my music, lots of photos, and some music videos.  If 120 GB isn’t enough to hold all of your music, maybe you should consider cutting out your expansive Yanni and Kenny G live bootleg collection.  Do you really need to carry that shit around with you all the time, just in case you happen to run into someone else someday who is a freakishly devoted fan of either of the aforementioned artists?  Even then, what are you going to do?  Pull out your Ipod and proudly show off your hours and hours of concert audio recorded on a shitty digital voice recorder, only to have the other guy go “Pssshhhhh, I have all that AND a used condom from Kenny G’s hotel room in Tokyo.”?  Yeah, I didn’t think so.  Besides, we all know Kenny G doesn’t wrap it up.  He goes bareback all the way, baby.

ipod

So we’ve established that this Ipod definitely has a lot to offer in the storage department.  I have all of the music from my computer’s hard drive, most of my photos, and several music videos, and I’ve still got 69 GB free.  I think I”m going to start putting some full-length movies on there, just in case I’m suddenly and unexpectedly trapped somewhere for several hours without any entertainment.  For the most part, the latest Ipod is pretty similar to the previous release.  The 2.5 inch screen looks great, and is plenty big enough to watch video on.  There’s a nifty feature called Cover Flow that allows you to browse through your music collection by viewing the album covers.  That is, assuming you have album art for all your music, which I don’t.  So I can browse through my music by viewing a bunch of “generic music note” thumbnails with an actual album art thumbnail image every once in a while.  Yeah, I’m totally organized.  The main menu is split in half, so that the right half of the screen shows random images from your Ipod.  Kinda cool.  Apple opted for a nice-looking anodized aluminum faceplate this time, instead of the easy-to-scratch glossy black polycarbonate of Ipods past.  The aluminum has a nice “matte” look.  And they replaced the white version with silver.  I thought that one looked nice as well, but I ultimately went with the black one.  The Ipod also comes with 3 games onboard.  Iquiz is a pretty fun trivia game with decent graphics and sound.  Vortex is a mildly addictive game that’s somewhat similar to the classic “brick breaker” games that have been around for years.  Klondike is some dumbass card game that I haven’t bothered playing because card games are generally about as interesting to me as Shaq’s acting career.  Well, with the exception of that skit he did with Tracy Morgan on SNL years ago.  You know, the one where Tracy Morgan was his dad, and Shaq came home after his curfew.  That was good TV.  But everything else is uninteresting.  That’s the point I was trying to get across.

The battery life is more than adequate for my needs.  I charge my Ipod every day while I’m asleep, and I haven’t had it run out of juice on me between charges yet.  I think I could easily get 2 or 3 days of use out of it before I needed to charge it, if it weren’t for that pesky FM transmitter I have to use at work.  That thing saps the Ipod’s battery life pretty quickly.  I use the Ipod at work for 8 hours, 5 nights a week and it always does a good job of providing my coworkers and I with the tunes.  This brings me to the two problems I have with the Ipod, one of which is more of a problem with Itunes.  I have a playlist of roughly 600 songs that I uses specifically for work.  We get tired of hearing the douchebag night DJ’s on the local radio station, and it’s a pain in the ass to have to change CD’s every hour or so.  That’s where my Ipod and it’s wonderful playlist created by yours truly comes in to save the day.  My playlist was carefully crafted with everyone’s interests in mind.  I spent hours on it, and I’m always tweaking, adjusting, and adding to it.  I’m very proud of my work playlist.  It’s a masterpiece, and I think it deserves many gold stars.  The problem is this:  The Ipod’s shuffle function kind of sucks.  I’ve used the Ipod at work at least a dozen full work days now, and the shuffle feature just doesn’t work that well.  I understand that it can’t be perfect.  But even when I take that into account, I’m still disappointed.  The Ipod played “Don’t Stand So Close to Me” by The Police twice in the course of 3o minutes the other day.  Out of 600 songs, it plays that twice within a half hour.  Also, there are songs on the playlist that I’ve yet to hear even once.  There are approximately 38 hours of music on the work playlist, and that playlist has been run for at least 100 hours total.  I’m starting to think that the Ipod is neglecting some of the songs for some reason.   The Ipod will play some bands over and over in the course of a night, and never play others.  I understand that if there are a dozen Green Day songs on the list, and only 3 by Dead Milkmen, it’s going to play more Green Day over time.  I factor that kind of shit in, and it’s still screwing me over on some songs.  It’s not a huge problem, but it is definitely annoying.

My other big problem might have more to do with Itunes than the Ipod itself.  There’s this feature that Itunes and the Ipod both have called Sound Check.  This feature is supposed to adjust the playback of all the songs to the same volume level.  And guess what?  It doesn’t work.  Not one bit.  We set the volume on the stereo at work to a certain level, and it sounds good.  Then Guns ‘N Roses comes on, and nobody can hear it.  But when any Green Day song that’s not on the “1,039 Smoothed Out Slappy Hours” CD comes on, it’s louder than shit.  I could go and manually adjust the volume of all those songs, but that’s a huge pain in the ass that Apple is supposed to be taking care of for me.  Sound Check doesn’t work, and it pisses me off.  If you know of something I can do about this, help me out.  It’s annoying.

Aside from the two problems I mentioned, the Ipod is just fine.  I am happy that I can carry around my entire music collection in my pocket.  I bought a nice little rubber case and a screen protector to take care of the Ipod.  I also got a nice little padded cradle thing to hold the Ipod while I’m driving.  It clips onto the air vent on the dash of my uber-cool 1998 Ford Windstar.  I get all sorts of tail in that thing, believe me.  Nothing screams “hip and available” like a forest green minivan.  I may not drive a sweet car, but dammit I’ve got my music.

The 120 GB Ipod runs for about $250, but I’ve seen it at Wal-Mart and on Amazon for 20 bucks cheaper.  If you’re in the market for a new audio/video player, I’m giving the new Ipod Classic the thumbs up.  For a full run-down of all the specs and details on this Ipod, go here.

Posted in Electronics | Tagged: , , , , | 12 Comments »