fighting the lack of good ideas

bagel [thin] burgers

Several years ago I had the good fortune to have a burger paired with cream cheese on a rye bun.

And a few years later I had a burger on a bagel. I’ve also enjoyed bagels on Arnold sandwich thins.

Combining the best of both of these ideas, try bagel burgers (or on bagel thins) – with cream cheese.

Grill your burger to desired doneness while lightly toasting your bagel [thin].

Apply cream cheese to bagel and add your freshly-grilled burger.


Of course, other favorite condiments and pairings could be added Рbacon, mushrooms, jalape̱o coins, etc.

creamy, cheesy baked potatoes

I don’t like sour cream (not when I know it’s there, at least).

However, I do like creamy baked potatoes.

And I like cheesy baked potatoes.

My solution?

Cream cheese instead of sour cream!


  • bake potato(es) to desired doneness
  • split in “Wendy’s” fashion (perforate with a fork, and squeeze the ends perpendicular to the perforations)
  • dollop whipped cream cheese into opening
  • mix in
  • add bacon bits, other cheese, chives, etc to taste

The cream cheese also does a good job of substituting for any butter you might otherwise have planned to add to the potato.

Be sure the cream cheese is of the whipped variety – solid cream cheese takes too long to mix in 🙂

1401 argentinean bistro


It’s truly that good.

This week I was working in Fort Lauderdale. It’s been over 4 years since I was last in the area, and I’ve always wanted to visit Miami – at least once.

As I am wont to do, I checked-out OpenTable to see what interesting food places were available. One of them was 1401 Argentinean Bistro. It’s a fusion restaurant selling Argentinian food with Italian influences (the owner/chef’s dual heritages).

I went with a coworker and the customer contact with whom we were working. We all ordered the skirt steak, and LOVED it!

Our waiter was the chef, Fabio Pizelman: he enjoys tending tables 2-3 nights a week to get a better feel for what his customers like, don’t like, want, etc. We arrived late enough Tuesday that we were [effectively] the only customers. So I do realize that our service was perhaps slightly more attentive than it may be when the place is packed, but it was still a phenomenal place to eat.

Due to circumstances beyond our control, we ended up leaving work late, and had to move our reservation a couple times – but that worked to our advantage in that we had the place to ourselves.

The outdoor seating was excellent on the balmy fall evening, and we decided by the end of the rolls that we had to go back.

While waiting on our entrees to arrive, I rebooked us for Wednesday – when we planned to sample the non-steak portions of Chef Fabio’s menu.

Due to some more unforeseen (and unavoidable delays), we had to no-show Wednesday – but Thursday was our night.

Alas! Senor Pizelman must think we’re flakes! Last night we didn’t get to leave the office until it was almost today 🙁

And with my return home imminent, it also means that I won’t have a chance to eat at the Bistro again for some time – a true shame. Chef Fabio’s food, service, and personality couldn’t be better.

And so, with this, I must wait to return to 1401 Bistro until my next trip to south Florida.

I wish Mssr Pizelman all success until (and after) then.

melting pot – but better-er :)

Earlier this week my wife decided to surprise me with a dinner she thought-of more-or-less on-the-spot.

We are both big fans of The Melting Pot. Tuesday she popped out to Kroger and bought a small package of potatoes, some various broths, and an absolutely AMAZING meat rub spice mix. Also she found some strawberries (on sale – how cool), and “melting chocolate” (no idea how this is different from “normal” chocolate, but whatever).

Unbeknownst to me while I was finishing work for the day, she was busy in the kitchen mixing-up a broth to boil the veggies in, and eventually cook some filet we had in the freezer (which she had also been thawing – again on the sly in the kitchen while I was working).

Her approximate recipe for the main course:

  • 1 small chicken broth
  • 3 small vegetable broths
  • veggies per preference (ours were carrots, mushrooms, and potatoes)
  • small can of pineapple chunks – including the juice
  • spice-rubbed filet

Green goddess (Melting Pot’s ‘signature’ spread):

  • 1/2 C sour cream
  • >1/2 C cream cheese
  • chopped chives


  • ~1 C melting chocolate
  • splash of Southern Comfort (flambeed to remove alcohol content, but leave flavor)
  • fresh strawberries

Cooking method:

  • heat broth to near-boiling (I think this is “simmering” – but I’m not positive on the technical term)
  • add veggies
  • after veggies are between ‘hot’ and ‘tender’, add rubbed filet chunks (15-25 minutes, depending on heat and preference)
  • remove from heat 2-3 minutes later and serve

Dessert method:

  • melt chocolate in microwave- and flame-safe container
  • add splash of SoCo
  • flambe
  • dip strawberries

This was an awesome dinner – not to mention less expensive than Melting Pot by, oh, 70% – and I was very sad I got too full to finish all of it 🙂

Thanks, babe!

BTW – LivingSocial had a Melting Pot special this week (which we have taken advantage of). Not sure if it’s still available, but check it out – it’s half off 🙂

*UPDATE@201107071203* the LivingSocial special has been sold out.


I’ve been a bit lax lately on reviewing places I’ve been to eat.

Since March, I’ve traveled a few times for both work and pleasure, and have gotten to enjoy several local establishments:

  • Foundry Grille
  • Verve
  • Seasons
  • Patrick O’Shea’s
  • Bensi
  • Roots Steakhouse
  • The Cheese Shop
  • Thai Kitchen
  • Food For Thought
  • Captain George’s
  • Tucano’s

Hopefully over the next few weeks, I’ll have the time to do a write-up on each.

square foot gardening by mel bartholomew

Years ago, my mom and I would routinely try to catch episodes of Square Foot Gardening (SFG) on PBS.

Hosted by Mel Bartholomew, a retired civil engineer, SFG was a program whose aim was to enable gardening by the masses in confined spaces (though, naturally, if can be implemented in larger settings as well). Mr Bartholomew’s aim was to take his years of experience as an engineer, and turn gardening on its head: too much focus was (and still is, though less prominently now) given to gardening as miniaturized farming, rather than as a practice in its own right. It also promoted organic gardening and growing years before the current organic marketing wave.

The basic premise of SFG is to plant cooperatively, intensively, rotatively, and sequentially (see the wikipedia,, and sites for even more information).

  • Cooperatively: plant different types of flowers and vegetables together to reduce the likelihood for disease transmission, to ward-off predators, and to give a dynamic look to the garden.
  • Intensively: carrots only needs a few cubic inches of good soil in which to grow – plant them 4×4 in a 1’x1′ square.
  • Rotatively: once a given crop has finished, reuse the plot, but for a different plant type to not overly wear-out the soil.
  • Sequentially: if you want to go with a more homogeneous garden, plant in a cyclic fashion to spread the harvest over a period of time throughout the year

Soil preparation takes a bit of practice, but once you have a garden going, continually supplying compost should become easier (take all garden waste and add it to the pile). The only ingredient you should need to buy on a semi-frequent basis is peat moss, and that only once every 2-3 years per box. Vermiculite refresh is needed less often – closer to every 4-5 years per box.

The program and book had enough of a lasting impact on me that I used it as the basis for a paper in college – Eating Off the Grid (full PDF^*` and appendix).

A second book referenced in the television series, CA$H from Square Foot Gardening (of which I also own a copy), goes into further detail of expanding the SFG approach into a source for local users to enjoy the fruits (and vegetables!) of your labors, in exchange for compensation. In particular, Mel highlights supplying local restaurants and/or farmer’s markets with your produce.

If you are interested in growing even some of your own food, I strongly recommend Square Foot Gardening as the place to start.

  • Quality of writing: 4/5
  • Accessibility: 5/5
  • Understandability: 4/5
  • Ease of implementation: 4/5
  • Overall: 4.5/5

^Prices accurate as of Jan 2006
*Yes – I know about the typo at the end of page 3 (“there” vs “their”) and on page 5 (“them” vs “the”)
`See also PYOP review for information on windbreaks

menu analysis – burger king

Burger King has a new series of sandwiches called “stackers“. It’s a cheeseburger with bacon (and fairly tasty, as fast-food burger go).

They come in three sizes: single, double, and triple. The single is $1, the double $2, and the triple $3.

What do you get on the sandwich? A bun, patty, cheese, sauce, and bacon. What about on the double? A bun, 2 patties, two cheeses, sauce, and bacon. The triple adds another patty and cheese.

Nifty. So for the cost of two single burgers, you get less bread and sauce. If you’re trying to cut-down on carbs, or don’t like the sauce much, that’s cool. But if you’re looking to maximize your caloric intake for dollar output, buy three singles and not one triple.