Qdoba Rewards Card (scandal?)

July 3rd, 2006

I lost my Q-card. I am not happy about it, but there is nothing I can do about it unless somehow I happen upon it in the future. What is lost? Nothing really. Unless I happened to meet someone who would be overwhelmingly impressed if I showed them my purchase history...

Basically it is the principal of the thing. I don't like to lose stuff.

In the past, had you lost your Q-card you could return to your local Qdoba and take a new card and simply link your two cards together under your account. This would add any old stored rewards to your new card and you would pick up right where you left off.

That option is no longer offered.

I wrote Qdoba asking why they took away my ability to link cards in the event I lose mine. Here is the response I received:

Dear Privatjokr,

Unfortunately Qdoba Cards/points can no longer be linked. We experienced many issues with fraud and theft; therefore, in order to maintain our Loyalty Program, we have had to discontinue this feature. We apologize for any inconvenience.

If you would like, I can void all previous registration information we have for you from our system. This would enable you to register a new card, using the same user name. However, if we do this, your old card will no longer be valid.

Thank you, in advance, for your understanding,

Qdoba Web Administrator

Theft. There you have it. Some bad apples would steal other Qdobers' cards and they have now ruined it for all of us.

Anyway, in case you were wondering (you probably weren't) why you can no longer link Q-cards, you now know.

You're welcome.

Grilled Lemon-and-Gin Marinated Chicken and Onions

June 16th, 2006

From epicurious.com.

Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less.

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons gin
1/4 teaspoon dried orégano, crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 whole skinless boneless chicken breasts (about 1/2 pound each)
2 cups thinly sliced onions

In a shallow dish whisk together the lemon juice, the gin, the orégano, the salt, the sugar, and pepper to taste, add the oil in a stream, whisking, and whisk the marinade until it is emulsified. add the chicken, coating it well with the marinade, and let it marinate, covered and chilled, for 20 minutes. Grill the chicken, reserving the marinade, on an oiled rack set about 6 inches over glowing coals for 7 minutes on each side, or until it is cooked through. While the chicken is grilling, in a heavy skillet combine the reserved marinade and the onions and boil the mixture, covered, over high heat, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes, or until the onions begin to brown. Reduce the heat to moderately low and cook the mixture, uncovered, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a heated platter and with a slotted spoon scatter the onions around it.

Serves 2.

This recipe seemed to call out for an asparagus side dish, but I made asparagus last time I entertained. For my vegetable I opted instead for a caesar salad, which I felt worked very well. Add roasted red-skin potatoes and two bottles of chardonnay and our meal was complete. I doubled the recipe with no problems. The only liberty I took was in omitting the onions which was in favor of my own and my dinner guests' preference. I got my chicken breasts from the meat counter at my local supermarket. They were enormous and stayed tender and juicy with the marinade. This recipe is a keeper.

Crispy Coconut Chicken

June 2nd, 2006

1 C. flaked coconut
1/2 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breast halves
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 C. butter or margarine, melted
1 C. apricot preserves, optional
2 T. Dijon mustard, optional

Heat oven to 400° F.

Wash your hands.

Mix coconut, flour, salt, pepper and garlic powder in medium bowl. Dip chicken into egg, then coat with coconut mixture. Place in a shallow baking pan. Wash your hands.

Drizzle with melted butter.

Bake 25 minutes or until chicken is browned and cooked through, turning once. If you stick an instant-read thermometer in the center of the chicken breast, it should register 165° F.

Meanwhile, mix apricot preserves and Dijon mustard until well blended. Serve as sauce with chicken.

This recipe came from thatsmyhome.com. I cannot comment on the apricot/mustard sauce since we left that off our meal, but the chicken was fantastic. Like any breading/batter recipe, however, I do recommend you use a little more than the directions ask for when you prepare that part.

KFC Famous Bowls

May 25th, 2006

If someone asked me to put fill a bowl with pure deliciousness, I would have to assume it would involve mashed potatoes, corn, gravy, fried chicken and cheese. What else could they possible add to this thing to make it better?

I had one for lunch today. I ordered two KFC Snackers, too, just in case. I did not think with those succulent ingredients KFC would be too generous. KFC has a reputation with me for charging a lot and giving little, though their food is so good. I was surprised to be full after the Famous Bowl**. A combo, which includes a medium drink, was $4.99. The price is right; the food is great.

I love that someone was probably just messing around at KFC one day making his/her own lunch when the Famous Bowl was created. A coworker must have overseen the concoction and marvelled in its glory. I wish I could walk down the street and tell people that this was my idea. We have all made a plate of food that looked just like this, but rarely do my dietary habits make their way into a commercial setting.

This thing was fantastic! Like I was Miss Cleo, I see another trip to KFC for a Famous Bowl in my future.

*The Famous Bowl also comes with rice instead of mashed potatoes.
**And yes, I still ate the KFC Snackers. Both of them. Good gravy am I full right now.

| Discuss it |

Barberitos

May 3rd, 2006

Link: http://www.barberitos.com/

Barberitos is similar in style to the Qdoba and Chipotle chains, though this "Southwestern Grille and Cantina" is exclusive to the Southeastern US.

The process is the same, by which I refer to these restaurants as "Mexican Subway," because of how your order. Each chain has you start with a bare-bones tortilla and then add ingredients a la carte until you are satisfied with your burrito, much like you would order a sandwich from Subway. The base ingredients are the tortilla, rice, and black or pinto beans. From this point you may add choice of meats, salsas, cheese, sour cream, guacamole, etc...

I am not a fan of Chipotle, so we can call that match-up a draw. Neither place is as good as Qdoba, though Barberitos offers a slightly different menu.

I liked that they offer the option of different tortillas. Patrons may choose a flour tortilla (plain), a spinach tortilla, or chipotle tortilla.

Barberitos serves a Mexican rice rather than white rice steamed with cilantro (which you'll find at both Qdoba and Chipotle).

Beyond that the options are pretty much the same. Finish your order and you get your burrito accompanied by a side of tortilla chips.

The restaurant offers a cheese dip in three different sizes for your chips. The bigger size(s) to come with additional chips. The chips and cheese dip were both decent. Neither was worth additional praise.

I am not sold on Barberitos; my meal was unremarkable. I am still a Qdoba fan through and through, their chips, queso dip, and burritos are much better. If there was a Barberitos near me, I would not go there.

Lelli's Restaurant - Auburn Hills, MI

January 31st, 2006

Conversations began last week about my search for a "go-to" local steakhouse. When I have guests in from out of town and a nice dinner is in order, I would like to know that I can make one phone call and have my reservation. We have the usual chain steakhouses and they are very good, but when I travel I like to taste the local flavor. Doesn't Detroit have any? A coworker suggested Lelli's in Auburn Hills/Pontiac; I had never been. The next thing I did was make the reservation.

My parents and I arrived at 6:45PM on Saturday for dinner. The restaurant was not overly crowded, which I thought was nice. It began to fill up while we ate, not too surprisingly.

Lelli's is definitely a restaurant to consider if you are looking for large amounts of food. Each entree comes with the antipasto tray, salad, soup (Minestrone Lelli), spaghetti (w/ meat sauce), and spumoni for dessert.

The antipasto tray came with one of each item per person, with the exception of the black olives which none of us touched. The tray had pepperoncini, black olives, thinly sliced pepperoni, what I believe was mortadella, cheese, and shrimp.

I try to not season food when I get it. When something is placed in front of me at the restaurant I feel at that time it is truly how the chef intends it to be and adding even salt and/or pepper will detract from the full experience. I should have thrown this practice out the window when the minestrone came. Sure, I ate it all, but I felt it was slightly bland.

I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not get the spaghetti, but rather the palmina (penne in a creamy tomato sauce). For someone who claims to not get too excited over pasta, this is now the second meal in three months nearly highlighted by the pasta course. The palmina was unique to those who ordered the porterhouse as I had. I would order this as an entree and forgo the rest of the meal; it was that good.

My steak was a beautifully cut porterhouse. Big, juicy, and cooked to my specification: life is good. On the steak's merit alone I would go back to Lelli's; plain and simple. It was not the best I have had, but it was very good.

I opted against the spumoni and chose the homemade chocolate ice cream instead. I recommend you do the same, it was great.

Overall, the meal had high points and low points. Most of them do, in my experience. Unfortunately one big blemish on Lelli's record in my mind was the service. When you go to a semi-fancy dinner out you should be able to expect above average service. I would have even accepted average service... I have said it before and I will continue to say it: customer service is so very important. When a place gets that right, it is truly special. Lelli's got service all wrong.

What I had hoped for was a special night out to dinner with my parents. That is absolutely what I had. I am able to separate any complaints I had with the food or the restaurant from the occasion with my family. When all is said and done I would go back to Lelli's, but the circumstances would need to be abnormal. The search for my "go-to" steakhouse continues...

Gift Card Etiquette

January 6th, 2006

I had lunch this afternoon with one of my sisters and our mother. We sat down together at a well-known Tex-Mex chain restaurant and had a decent meal. Almost everything went as you might expect. The confusion enters the picture at the time of payment.

As a stocking stuffer this year, Santa Claus brought me two gift cards to this particular restaurant. Convenient, really.

One gift card was for $5 and is valid from January 1, 2006 through February 28, 2006. The expiration is important, so remember that detail.

The other gift card is for $25 and has no expiration.

Rather than trying to make sure to eat at this place again sometime in the next two months, or better yet try not to lose the card, my plan was to burn the $5 card. Have the waitress use that one and then deduct the remaining balance on our bill from the other card.

When she came back to the table to collect payment, I handed her a stack: bill on the bottom, $25 in the middle, $5 card on top...with the expiration date staring up at you. I figured maybe, just maybe, she would realize that I wanted her to use the card on top first. Apparently I made some outrageous assumption that she would realize what I had meant.

She came back to the table and said, "I don't even know why you gave me this one." As she handed me the $5 card. "This one had more than enough," she said reassuringly of the $25 card.

Oh, I'm sorry, miss. How silly of me.

So here I am with two cards, still, to keep track of; one of which expires at the end of next month. Rather than having one card with almost $15 on it, I have two cards that carry the balance between them.

Am I the only one who finds this slightly bizarre, and even a little inconvenient?

Nigella Lawson's Rib Roast

December 27th, 2005

Rib Roast

Preparation Time: 1 minute
Cooking Time: 2 or more hours, mostly unattended
Resting Time: 15 to 35 minutes
Serves: 8 to 10

Ingredients:
8- to 10-pound rib roast
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper

HEAT the oven to 425 degrees.
RUB roast with oil, then salt and pepper. Set in a large roasting pan and place
in oven.
ROAST meat for 15 minutes per pound.
CHECK the internal temperature of the roast after 1 hour and 45 minutes, using
an instant-read thermometer placed in its midsection. 125 degrees is rare, 135
degrees is medium, and 155 degrees is well-done.
REMOVE roast from oven when it reaches the desired internal temperature.
Transfer meat to a cutting board and loosely tent it with aluminum foil. Do not
even think about cutting into it for at least 15 minutes; 30 to 35 minutes of
resting time is better. Once beef has been rested, discard foil, slice, and
serve.


Rib Roast

This was the first time we have made a prime rib without using a Popeil Showtime Rotisserie, which is such a great product. I was annoyed by the "Set it and forget it!" infomercials, but somehow one made its way to my mom's kitchen.

We did not use it because instead of the usual 3 rib roast, this year we had a 5 rib roast to accommodate more eaters. Ours was a nearly 15 pound roast. For a piece of meat that size, I feel the 15 minutes per pound roasting time is a little on the conservative side. Given my preference, we would revert back to the old way, but roasting in the oven still produced a beautiful piece of meat.

The only thing other than cooking time where we diverted from the basic recipe above was in adding probably 6 minced cloves of garlic to the salt and pepper that was rubbed on the roast before it was placed in the oven.

It is another simple recipe for a fantastic meal, if you're in the market. Just be sure to invite me over, even though you might have to fight me for the ribs; they are by far the best part.

Red Coat Tavern - Royal Oak, MI

December 23rd, 2005

There is no hesitation in calling this one of my favorite restaurants in Michigan. I only wish that I made the effort to go more often.

The signs are hard to read, but you find Red Coat on the east side of Woodward, north of 13 mile road. The building is not a large one, and it has the feel of a lodge in the woods. You will probably want to call ahead to put your name on the to-be-seated list as it is usually pretty busy.
(248) 549-0300

The menu is complete with Traditional "American" foods, but I don't need it when I go there. I always do and always will get the same thing. I start with a bowl of clam chowder, then I have a cheeseburger and onion rings. Each item is the best I have had. There is really nothing like a good hand battered onion ring. I could make a meal just out of these. If you're so inclined, they do have a "burger sauce" which I believe is a mayonnaise based sauce with minced onion. I haven't had it, so I cannot comment; cheese and ketchup suits me just fine.

The prices are extremely reasonable. When I was there the other night, there were 7 of us having dinner. Including a few drinks, before tip, our bill was $90. The large party was probably not advisable on such a busy night, but there was not too much of a problem seating us.

The staff is friendly and accomodating. I have never had any complaints, but there has been more than one occassion when they have gone out of their way for me. That is always appreciated.

December 12th, 2005

He who climbs a ladder must begin at the first step.