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Archive for the ‘Breakfast’ Category

Eckrich Lil Smokies Review

Eckrich Lil SmokiesI’m a fiend for “little smokies” – give me a mess of good quality, fine tasting ones, and I’ll pass on the rest of breakfast.  You never see them on a restaurant menus, not really sure why.

Like all pork (and meat in general) products, they have gotten really spendy lately, pushing over $6 a pound. While I have some very specific favorite brands, determined by taste and texture, I am a sucker for sale priced ones, and that’s why I picked up a pack of Eckrich “Li’l Smokies” yesterday.  They were half the price of the other brands.

Eckrich is part of John Morrell now, and according to the USDA plant number on the package, these babies were made at the Morrell plant in Cincinnati (pictured below).

How were they?  OK, especially at the price.  A pork and chicken product (I prefer all beef), they aren’t as flavorful as some brands I prefer, tasting more like cocktail franks, which should be an entirely different recipe than smokies.  I’d buy them again tho, at the sale price.

Why the ‘char?’  I prefer sausages with natural casings, and you’ll never see little smokies in a casing. Too expensive, troublesome for mass production I imagine.  For me, putting a little char on the baby weenies gives them a texture more again to a casing product. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

 Eckrich Lil Smokies

 John Morrell Cincinnati



Lil Smokies Review

New Orleans, LA – Morning Call Restaurant Review

Morning Call New OrleansThe “official state donut” of the State of Louisiana, the beignet (ben-yaa) has become synonymous with the stereotypical tourist stop in New Orleans at a joint in the French Quarter called “Cafe du Monde.”  The pastries, developed by French bakers, use a type of dough that rises due to its own steam, rather than from yeast.  This type of baking is called “choux” pastries.

French settlers brought the tradition during their immigration to Eastern Canada, and their later forced migration to Louisiana.

The fried delicacies are generally sold in an order of three, accompanied by a shaker of powdered sugar and a steaming cup of cafe au lait or other local beverage.

While most visitors experience the pastry at the aforementioned stop, the sweet delights are widely available.  An alternate choice is an old-timey stand in Metarie, ‘Morning Call”, which is open 24/7 and is the local gathering place for die-hard denizens, particularly judges and lawyers.

Morning Call now has a location in City Park, easily accessible to tourists via the Carrolton street car which you can catch on Canal. City Park is one of the nation’s most impressive green spaces, and is home to a number of diversions including the New Orleans Museum of Art.

At  the “casino”, which isn’t one, you’ll find Morning Call, which you can enjoy your beignets and a few other local specialties in the splendor of the park.Morning Call New Orleans


Morning call restaurant review

Morning Call on Urbanspoon

Springfield, IL – Charlie Parkers Diner Review

Charlie Parkers HorseshoeThree things Springfield, Illinois is known for, not in order of any particular importance: possibly the birthplace of the corn dog; home of the locally famous horseshoe sandwich; and some dead president with a big hat.

My reason for stopping was to grab a breakfast horseshoe, Texas toast on a plate, with your choice of breakfast meat, eggs, gravy or cheese sauce or both, and topped with taters.  Lunch versions add different protein choices, like a burger, fish, or fried chicken, with an option of swapping out tots for hash browns or American fries.

Housed in a vintage WW2 quonset hut, Charlie Parker’s is one of several choices you have for popping your horseshoe cherry, and a choice I’m glad I made.  Once again, better than my expectations for a “local legend”, my only disappointment was not with the food service of ambiance, but rather my own lack of capacity, wishing I could try more than one version at a setting.

The regular ‘shoe” comes with two pieces of toast and double meat servings;  a lesser size, for us mere mortals, is called a “pony shoe” and is more of a single serving.

May well be the best breakfast potatoes I have had anywhere, bar none.  Service was cheery and helpful, despite a jammed room and long wait.

Charlie Parker’s may well be a must stop for every visitor to the dead president city or traversing America’s most famous highway, Route 66. Menu.


Charlie Parkers Horseshoe

Breakfast Shoe

Charlie Parkers Diner Review

Charlie Parker's Diner on Urbanspoon

Eckrich Lil Smokes Review

Eckrich Lil SmokiesI’m a fiend for “little smokies’ as a breakfast meat.  Give me enough of them of good quality, and I’ll skip the eggs, toast, and potatoes. You never see them on restaurant menus, though I don’t know why.

My personal preference is for the all beef variety, though I am motivated by price point too, and that’s why I grabbed a package of Eckrich’s yesterday, which were on sale for half the price of the other brands. Like all pork products, the price of smokies has skyrocketed lately, and they easily tip the $ scales at $6 a pound, plus.

Cooked them up this morning and they were ok, especially considering the price.  They aren’t as flavorful as some of the other brands, and taste more like “cocktail franks”, which should, and usually are, a totally different product than little smokies.

Why the ‘burnt’ appearance?  I am predisposed to prefer sausages with a natural casing, and as far as I know, there are no little smokies with casings. Too difficult and expensive for mass production, I imagine.  So the ‘char’, presents a texture that more closely resembles a natural casing sausage.  That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

I’d buy them again at the same price, but at the same price point as other brands, I’d opt for my usual favorites. According to the USDA plant number, these babies are manufactured at John Morrell’s plant in Cincinnati (pictured below).

 Eckrich Lil Smokies


 John Morrell Cincinnati







Eckrich Lil Smokes Review

Banquet Boneless Pork Rib Review

Swanson Riblet ReviewLet’s file this one under two categories: 1) “things I’ve tried so you don’t have to”, and 2) “I don’t like ribs.”   I just never have liked ribs, though some other barbecue treats are a delight to me.   Funny, cause Mrs. Burgerdogboy can pack away multiple slabs at a time, and like a cur, when nobody is watching, she’ll crawl into a corner and continue working on the bones long after most diners would have tossed in the towel.  She guards them zealously, with her arm protecting her treasure, ex-con style.

We’ve made pilgrimages to BBQ meccas, together and apart. Together we delighted in the joints in Lockhart, TX, and all by my lonesome, I have traveled the NC BBQ trail.

Which brings us to the topic of the day.  Not even sure why this was in my freezer, I may have picked it up by accident from the $1 scratch and dent bin.

In appearance (and concept, I guess) the pork and ‘mechanically separated chicken’ patty resembles the infamous and mysterious McRib, that cult offering from McDonalds which only appears once or twice a year.

As ingredients are listed on a package in the order of weight, the bbq sauce is the largest component of the meal, followed by the mash, and then the meat patty, with corn holding up the rear.

Microwave instructions call for 3 minutes, stir potatoes, 2 minutes, then a 2 minute rest before consuming.

The sauce wasn’t bad, the texture of the patty was pretty unappealing to me, it may have been better slapped on a quality bun with onions and/or pickles.

I’d say it’s a quick and easy meal for kids, but it’s high in sodium and carbs.  If you don’t care, and you see them on sale, stock up!  Would I buy it again?  Hell, like I said, I don’t even remember buying it the first time, so no, HELL no.


Swanson Riblet Review

Frozen, out of the box


Swanson Riblet Review

Out of the nuke box (butter added)



Swanson Riblet Review

Plated, with butter & pepper added


Swanson Riblet Review

Close up of patty texture






Banquet Boneless Pork Rib Review

Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Scott Petersen Bacon ReviewScott Petersen, part of the Specialty Foods Group of Owensboro, KY, is an old line meat manufacturer from Chicago marketed nationwide. The brand makes hot dogs, bologna, lunch meat, and bacon.   I haven’t tried the hot dogs, a line that is solely of the skinless variety, and while they do have an all beef frank, the ingredients of the others put me off.  Example?  Scott Petersen Hot Links:  Mechanically separated chicken, beef salivary glands, lymph nodes and fat (cheek and tongue), water, pork, beef, seasonings and preservatives).

Bacon is available in both regular and thick sliced packaging.  I had a hankering for a breakfast sandwich, and prepared the bacon in two different manners, pan fried and baked.  Mrs. Burgerdogboy prefers her bacon oven baked, tho I am not sure why, it is surely not her commitment to a healthy lifestyle; she eschews any approach to that particular kind of living.   But I oblige, regardless. The end result is obvious, baked bacon tends to be ‘leaner’ as an end product, and certainly flatter in appearance, but the bacon fried in its own fat tends to be more flavorful albeit rather disorganized in appearance.  (See pics below).

In any case, the sandwich was a success, consisting of toasted, buttered Italian bread, two basted eggs, bacon, and American singles. As the yolks are soft when I create these, they can be rather messy to eat, but for me, that’s part of the fun!

What about the bacon?  As you well know, prices are through the roof lately, with value brands fairly close in price to premium ones, so you might as well splurge on the good stuff. I found the Petersen rather flavorless, regardless of cooking method.  It likes any sort of punch from seasoning, and there is virtually no hint of smoke.  It won’t be on my regular shopping list.

Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Baked in oven


Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Pan Fried


Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Breakfast Sandwich





Scott Petersen Bacon Review

Parkview Cocktail Sausages Review

I love cocktail sausages;  not if they are swimming in barbecue sausage in a chafing dish mind you, but as a breakfast meat, or an anytime, low carb snack.  Most brands are generally smoked, so if you’re inclined, you could eat them right out of the package.  For me, I prefer them a little crispy, a little char,  fried up in a cast iron skillet. “Overcooking” this treat for me makes them have a sensation (to me) of having a natural casing, gives them a little “snap.”

I’m choosy about my brands and their composition, preferring all beef, and usually latching on to Hillshire Farms (Sara Lee).  Lately, tho, the texture of them seems to have changed a bit, at least to me, and I  have been looking for an alternative selection.

I might have found a successor.  The discount grocer Aldi uses a number of co-packers around the country to manufacture products to their specifications; in the sausage realm, Aldi’s brand is Parkview.  Their cocktail sausages are made by a small company in Nebraska, an old family concern named Wimmer’s, which distributes several different brands of smoked sausages and meats in the Upper Midwest. Wimmer’s was purchased a couple of years ago by a larger Midwestern family concern from Illinois called “Land O’ Frost.

The USDA plant number that cranks out these little gems is Est. 5600, in West Point, Nebraska, a burg of 3500 about 40 miles NW of Omaha.   They have about 130 employees, so they are an important part of the community.

The Parkview cocktail sausages vary in composition from my usual preferences, in that they are made up of pork, beef, with some poultry.  Usually that third ingredient would be a deal killer for me, but in this case, I believe it provides a smoother texture.  I like the flavor and texture both of these sausages.  Not to mention since they are an Aldi product, they are value-priced.  If you’re shopping at a major chain for brand name cocktail sausages, like all meat and especially pork products, the prices of sausages and bacon have skyrocketed lately, and you can count on Aldi to come in at a good 25-33% less than the national brands.

Good deal. Good food.

Parkview Cocktail Sausages











Parkview Cocktail Sausages Review

Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup Review

Born out of the original parent of Au Bon Pain, a delightful sandwich chain in urban areas up and down the east coast, Panera bread has grown through acquisitions and opening new shops to become a major force in fast casual dining.  The company current has over 1700 shops operating in 45 states under several different trade names.

The company features a varietyof fresh baked goods, breads, bagels, and pastries, which can be purchased to take away or as components of the in-house menu items like sandwiches, and breakfast bagels. In addition to the bread baked in-house, the chain endeavors to use the freshest quality ingredients available for their other menus, including salads, pasta dishes and a rotating list of soups.

In addition to tasty food, Panera donates all unsold baked goods at the end of each day to local food banks and organizations.  That’s pretty cool.

There was a Panera store here in Portland that also tried to help the community by having a “pay what you can” policy.

Today I had the broccoli cheese soup, bits of broccoli and carrot, seasonings in a thick cheese soup, garnished with pieces of bacon.  It’s good, but then, I am having a new love affair with soup in general, and specifically cheese soup.

Mrs. Burgerdogboy got me started on soup as a meal, and I’m thankful for that education.  Having been raised in the Upper Midwest, however, beer cheese soup, which has been around since the days of Medieval Europe, was a frequent menu item while I was growing up.

My favorite as a young man was at the posh grocery chain Byerly’s, in Minneapolis.  There was one within walking distance of my house, and I used to like tromping through the snow late at night to get a cup or two.   Recently, I was quite taken by the recipe at at little place called Mocha Mouse, in Black River Falls, Wisconsin.

Should you hit Panera just for a cup of soup?  Definitely!

Panera Cheese Soup Review
















Panera Broccoli Cheddar Soup Review

Black River Falls, WI – Mocha Mouse Review

Mocha Mouse ReviewToodling up I-94 in Wisconsin, one runs into a raft of cheese chops and cranberry emporiums. About halfway between Madison and Eau Claire sits the burg of Black River Falls, and off the interstate you’ll find the Mocha Mouse, a fairly unique combination of retailer, with a cheese shop, wine, locally made canned goods, gifts, and a coffee shop.  They are open 8A -8P every day.

Stopped in for breakfast on Christmas Eve, and was the only diner; was interested to note on each table top were individual ramekins or mixed variety of croutons.  My inquiry to the waiter revealed these were for the beer cheese soup.  Dang. Having already ordered breakfast, I added a bowl of soup to go to my order.  (I did find the croutons made for an excellent appetizer – lol).

Breakfast was a straight up affair, with a couple eggs,  thick slab o’ ham, and house-baked marble rye toast.  It was prepared as ordered and a good value.

It didn’t take me getting far down the road before I had to dip into the soup, which had cooled enough so that I could just chug it from its take-out bowl.  Some of the best I have ever had, seriously.  Worth a stop.  Menu.  Cheese gifts by mail available online.

Mocha Mouse Review


Mocha Mouse on Urbanspoon

Mocha Mouse Review

Hardee’s Monster Biscuit Review

First opened in Greenville, SC, Hardee’s is a ‘semi-national’ chain, mostly in the Eastern United States, and part of CKE (Carl Karcher Enterprises) which operates Carl’s Jr. in the Western US; the two share some menu items.

Hardee’s places a big emphasis on their breakfast menu, and offers a wider variety of choices than most competitors. Additionally, they push a “prepared fresh” method with their items.  They prepare their biscuits in-house, from scratch daily, and

On a whim, I picked up their “Monster Biscuit”, which is a pile of bacon, sausage, shaved ham, and cheese.  It surprised me on every level, and is surely one of the best fast-food breakfast offerings in the land.  My only preference for “improvement” would be that Hardee’s also has a ‘country ham’ biscuit, and I think I’d prefer that ham on the Monster.   Nevertheless, this is a good product, and as the advertising says, prepared fresh.  Grab a couple today.  Locator.

Hardee's Monster Biscuit Review

Hardee’s Monster Biscuit


Hardee's on Urbanspoon


Hardee’s Monster Biscuit Review

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