“We all need to make time for a burger once in a while.”

Erica Durance

As I was growing up, we had a McDonald’s around the corner. I wasn’t able to drive so Summer to my friends and me was meeting up for lunch at McDonald’s with the money my Mother either gave me or what I made babysitting. McDThirdPounderAs I grew up, I visited McDonald’s less and less because of the stigma that McDonald’s was “bad” or “unhealthy” and not something you should be putting in your body. I had the opportunity to take part in an early tasting of McDonald’s new products on Tuesday, April 28th at the Latham Farms location with other bloggers/press. I’m so happy to learn (especially because the food tastes so delicious) that McDonald’s is working at not only making better for you food but better quality food because their customers mean something to them.

Nothing showed that more than Latham Farms McDonald’s owner Andrew James. He was so proud to not only share in what we were about to taste but the time, commitment and study he put in to learning about McDonald’s and the art of owning a franchise.McDThirdPounder2 It all began in 1987 when he decided he wanted to own a McDonalds and provide jobs for people, now he owns three in the Capital Region (including one in Clifton Park and one in Rensselaer). To him, it wasn’t just about buying a franchise and making money, it was for the love of what he was doing shown especially in how many local charities he involved himself in as well as  how he interacted with his employees and the customers who came in and knew him by name. He couldn’t wait to share the new burgers with us!

Before the event we had three options of Sirloin Third Pound Burgers to choose from:

Steakhouse: Made with a third-pound of 100 percent Sirloin beef topped with sautéed mushrooms, grilled onions, white cheddar cheese and creamy peppercorn sauce all served on a sesame seed bun.

Bacon and Cheese: Made with a third-pound of 100 percent Sirloin beef topped with yellow mustard, zesty ketchup, sliced pickles, red onion rings, Applewood smoked bacon and white cheddar cheese all served on a sesame seed bun

Lettuce and Tomato: Made with a third-pound of 100 percent Sirloin beef topped with creamy mayonnaise, yellow mustard, a fresh slice of tomato, green leaf lettuce, rings of red onion, sliced pickles and white cheddar cheese all served on a sesame seed bun.

MOUTH WATERING YET?

I got the Bacon and Cheese (solid choice in my opinion). They brought the burgers out to us on these silver platters, it was really a great presentation. McDThirdPounder3The burger was pretty delicious. I, of course, assume that because this was an event that they were as fresh as possible and done perfectly but I still enjoyed the flavor. The bacon was great and enhanced the flavor of the meat. I couldn’t really decipher between the different condiments but they seemed to work well together. I felt myself feeling like there was a little too much cheese and may have been able to go without it. The bun was okay. Nothing special or crazy, just kind of there to give me something to hold on to. Overall, not bad. I was impressed with how much better they tasted than the other burgers I’ve had.

We also had the opportunity to try the new Artisan Grilled Chicken. On April 13th, McDonald’s started using this chicken in all of their chicken entrees including the Deluxe Grilled Chicken Sandwiches, Premium McWraps, Snack Wraps and Premium Salads. The chicken starts with 100% white meat chicken filet seasoned with pantry spices and herbs, seared on the grill and finished with a zesty vinaigrette. My favorite part? No artificial flavors, added colors or preservatives. I was really impressed with how moist the chicken was and how the flavors of the different spices and herbs came out in each bite. I’m really happy to know that they’re replacing their other chicken with this one. Over the next two years, McDonald’s will be working to source chicken raised without antibiotics that are important to human medicine. McDThirdPounder4I’m going to be honest, though, I don’t really know what type of ecological difference that makes and they didn’t really touch on it at the presentation.

My favorite part of the experience? They brought us out McDonald’s fries. I don’t know what it is about McDonald’s fries, it brings me back to my childhood and I couldn’t stop eating them! The burgers were pretty good but as always, the fries where the fried golden crown on top of a pretty solid meal.

Get them quick, the chicken is here to stay but those burgers? They’re only around for a limited time!

“Keys, they make it easier to get in and out of doors. So does invisibility.”

JAROD KINZ

The main focus of my blog is obviously the 518 area. I live here, I’ve grown up here and I love blogging about what’s going on here and what I’ve done. Every so often though, I get asked to review a product that may have nothing to do with this area specifically but I think it’s cool and this is my blog so I’m going to talk about it!

BeetsBLU

I got an email a few weeks ago from Beets BLU to try their Pager Tag. I love new things so I took them up on it. I do have to write the disclaimer that they asked me to talk about this product and though I was not compensated, they did cover the cost of the product and shipping.

The point of the Beets BLU Pager Tag is to keep track of things that you may usually leave behind using your phone and Bluetooth technology. I got the product in the mail on Wednesday and it was not only incredibly easy to set up but didn’t take very long and was pretty self-explanatory. BeetsBLU2I first downloaded the app “PagerTag.” It told me to hit the button on the tag and the “Sync” function on my phone and in no longer than 5 seconds, they were synced and I was ready to leave my things all over the house to see if it worked.

First test: my keys. I recently upgraded to a Honda Civic (Shout out to the awesome people at Mohawk Honda– THANKS!) and it has a touch-button start so I have found myself leaving the house without my key, forgetting that though I don’t really use it, I still need it to start my car. I first put the Pager Tag on my key ring and I didn’t even make it to my car before I got a warning that I left my key behind. Also, sometimes I leave my key in coat pockets and then forget where it ended up. BeetsBLU3The app also has the option to set off the alarm on the PagerTag so you’ll never lose your keys again! Granted, this was something I was going to find out on my own eventually so I figured I’d step it up- a purse.

I don’t normally carry purses. My wallet is actually pocket-sized and has a cartoon character on it so shows how much I invest in bags. I do find myself, every so often, carrying a bag either because of an outfit or a situation but I have been known to almost leave it behind because I’m never used to having it. I placed my KeyTag in the purse and I didn’t even make it out of the door without the alarm going off!

Overall, this was pretty cool. The only thing you have to remember is to keep the app running if you want it to constantly keep watch but don’t worry, if you accidentally turn it off, it will warn you so you don’t lose track of your stuff. It’s a pretty cool thing that’s available on AMAZON so check it out!

#HealthyLivingSpringChallenge

Did you ever used to watch the game show Supermarket Sweep? Or Guy’s Grocery Games on Food Network?  Last Tuesday I had the opportunity to be a part of something similar at the Healthy Living Market in Wilton Mall.

The goal? Make a delicious springtime dinner for 4 with just $30. We had 15 minutes to go through the store and get our ingredients with the hope that we’d find $1 Easter Eggs through the store to help or use the previously provided coupons.

I can’t tell you just how excited I was to get the email to have the opportunity to run through a grocery store, putting things in my cart with the hope that I somehow got it under the $30 limit. Ever since I was a kid, I wanted to be on the show Supermarket Sweep and more recently, Guy’s Grocery Games so, cheesy or not, it was a dream come true.

I had $30 and I got: quinoa, spinach, garlic, salmon, red peppers and a basil plant. We were given our “pantry” for free so I didn’t need to get the olive oil, salt or pepper than I needed (thank goodness). My overall price was just a tad over $30 but thanks to the $1 Easter Egg, I made it! I decided to make a salt and pepper rubbed salmon with some garlic spinach and red pepper basil quinoa.

The whole time, I had my GoPro on my head, want to see what it was like from my point of view? Take a look!

The best part of this recipe is that it’s not only cheap, but super easy and can be done in any order but I cooked the salmon last. Each of these ingredients, if you have leftovers, could be used in other things too. Plus, aside from the pan used to boil water/make quinoa, I only used one pan so my flavors were incorporated throughout each piece of my dish.

QUINOA: Make quinoa from box directions. Boil 2 cups of water for each 1 cup of quinoa. When water comes to a boil, add quinoa and put heat on low until water has cooked out.

SPINACH: I put some oil in the pan and added the diced garlic (as you like it) to flavor it. I had a big frying pan so I threw in the entire bag of spinach (it cooks down really fast). You’ll notice the spinach go from overflowing the pan to a more mushy consistency. Careful not to burn the garlic.

RED PEPPER: First, I roasted the red pepper. Put the pepper on your lit stove, turning every so often until skin is black and able to be easily peeled off. Or (what I did this time) is put the pepper in the oven. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees, put the red pepper in the over until skin is darker and easily peeled off. Peel off all the skin (it should come off really easily) and cut it how you like, I julienned it.

BASIL: Add quinoa, red pepper and basil to a pan to reheat for a few minutes. Not too long, just enough to put the basil flavoring in the rest of the ingredients (5-7 minutes on a lower heat)

SALMON: I love cooking fish because fish tells you when it’s done. I put the whole piece in the pan (with skin) and coated with salt and pepper. Cook on one side until lightly brown and flip, do until each side is the same color. WARNING: like meat, salmon continues to cook even though the protein is off of the heat so it may seem perfectly cooked in the pan but 10 minutes sitting and your salmon is overcooked. I checked the middle of the salmon and left it a little raw so when it sit, it was cooked to the perfect moist texture.

HealthyLivingSpringChallenge

Plate as you like and enjoy! Any questions, shoot me an email at 518BitesNSights@gmail.com. If you had $30 what ingredients would you buy?

If you can’t control your almond butter, you can’t expect to control your life.

Bill Watterson (edit)

I love peanut butter and one thing I love more is my new favorite thing- almond butter. I checked out the Capital Region Home Show a month or so ago and came across this great local product, Nut-Zez. I got to try a bunch of their flavors and immediately fell in love with cinnamon raisin. Nut-Zez 1Out of Cohoes, NY, founder Amanda Zezima came up with a product based on her nutrition background that isn’t only good for you but delicious!

Both peanut butter and almond butter are good for you in moderation, but if you haven’t tried almond butter, grab some Nut-zez and a spoon because you’re missing out! I bought a container from the Niskayuna Co-Op (around $15) and started using it on everything. I had cinnamon raisin almond butter spread on rice cakes Nut-Zez 2with blueberries, cinnamon raisin almond butter on toast- pretty much anything you can use peanut butter for, try it with almond butter. I decided to try something different with the last cup of almond butter I had and I went with one of my favorite things, cookies! (Recipe via MeaningfulEats.com)

Flourless Oatmeal Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies 

INGREDIENTS

–          2/3 cup rolled oats

–          1 tsp baking soda

–          ¾ tsp salt

–          1 tsp cinnamon

–          1 cup Nut-Zez Almond Butter (I used cinnamon raisin)

–          2/3 cup dark brown sugar

–          2 large eggs

–          2 tsp vanilla extract

–          2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

 

INSTRUCTIONS

1.      Preheat the oven to 350F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.      In a medium bowl, combine the oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Stir to combine.

3.      In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat the almond butter, brown sugar, eggs, and vanilla until smooth, about 2 minutes.

4.      With the mixer on low, slowly add the oat mixture. Mix until combined. Stir in the chocolate chips. The dough will be very sticky!

5.      Scoop 2 tablespoon rounds of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. Bake each batch for 9-11 minutes. Cool 2 minutes before removing from the cookie sheet. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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Lake George Winter Carnival Final Weekend

I LOVE the Winter Carnival. The snow doesn’t bother me in December because I’m looking forward to Christmas and my birthday. Then, we get caught up in New Years Eve and New Years plans. Then, prepping for the Super Bowl and then suddenly we find ourselves stuck in the middle of nothing with the snow still coming. That’s what the Lake George Winter Carnival is for. It takes you out of those Winter doldrums to find the fun in snow again and here’s what’s going on this weekend.

4×4 TRUCK RACES (SAT/SUN)

ICE DIVING DEMONSTRATION (SAT/SUN)

TOAST MARSHMALLOWS ON THE BEACH (SAT) 4:00PM

CHICKEN WING COOK-OFF (SAT) 12:00PM

DOGSLED RACES (SAT) $20

RAFFLE DRAWING (SUN) 3:30PM

:::::EVERY WEEKEND:::::

FIREWORKS (SAT) 6:00PM

HELICOPTER RIDES (W/ A FEE)

LG DOG’S GOT TALENT SHOW (2:30P)

WISH LANTERN FLY OFF (SAT) 5:30PM

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES (11A-2P) @ KING NEPTUNES

ATV WAGON RIDES FOR KIDS ($2)

PONY RIDES ($5) IN THE PARK

Lake George Winter Carnival Weekend Three

I LOVE the Winter Carnival. The snow doesn’t bother me in December because I’m looking forward to Christmas and my birthday. Then, we get caught up in New Years Eve and New Years plans. Then, prepping for the Super Bowl and then suddenly we find ourselves stuck in the middle of nothing with the snow still coming. That’s what the Lake George Winter Carnival is for. It takes you out of those Winter doldrums to find the fun in snow again and here’s what’s going on this weekend.

CAR RACES (SAT/SUN)

ATV SCAVENGER HUNT (SAT)

TOAST MARSHMALLOWS ON THE BEACH (SAT) 4:00PM *FIREWORKS*

ICE DIVING DEMONSTRATION (SAT/SUN)

CHOWDER COOK-OFF (SAT) 12:00PM- SHEPARD PARK

BREEZY HILL ALPACA FARM (SAT/SUN)

LOCAL RESTAURANT COMPETITION (SUN) 1:00PM

:::::EVERY WEEKEND:::::

FIREWORKS (SAT) 6:00PM

HELICOPTER RIDES (W/ A FEE)

LG DOG’S GOT TALENT SHOW (2:30P)

WISH LANTERN FLY OFF (SAT) 5:30PM

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES (11A-2P) @ KING NEPTUNES

ATV WAGON RIDES FOR KIDS ($2)

PONY RIDES ($5) IN THE PARK

Lake George Winter Carnival Weekend Two

I LOVE the Winter Carnival. The snow doesn’t bother me in December because I’m looking forward to Christmas and my birthday. Then, we get caught up in New Years Eve and New Years plans. Then, prepping for the Super Bowl and then suddenly we find ourselves stuck in the middle of nothing with the snow still coming. That’s what the Lake George Winter Carnival is for. It takes you out of those Winter doldrums to find the fun in snow again and here’s what’s going on this weekend.

NY STATE AMA SANCTIONED MOTORCYCLE AND ATV ICE RACE (SAT/SUN)

ATV SCAVENGER HUNT (SAT)

BBQ COOK-OFF (SAT) 12:00PM- SHEPARD PARK

TOAST MARSHMALLOWS ON BEACH (SAT) 4:00PM *FIREWORKS*

VISIT FROM ADIRONDACK FLAMES (SAT/SUN)

ICE DIVING DEMONSTRATIONS (SAT/SUN)

BREEZY HILL ALPACA FARM (SAT/SUN)- SHEPARD PARK

DOGSLED RIDES (SAT/SUN) $20

GIANT KITE FLYING ON THE ICE (SAT)

:::::EVERY WEEKEND:::::

FIREWORKS (SAT) 6:00PM

HELICOPTER RIDES (W/ A FEE)

LG DOG’S GOT TALENT SHOW (2:30P)

WISH LANTERN FLY OFF (SAT) 5:30PM

CHILDREN’S ACTIVITIES (11A-2P) @ KING NEPTUNES

ATV WAGON RIDES FOR KIDS ($2)

PONY RIDES ($5) IN THE PARK