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  1. A Review of Carl’s Jr.’s Turkey Burgers

    May 3, 2011 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on April 14, 2011 .

    Even if you only watch the bear minimum of television, you’ve certainly seen the ads for Carl’s Jr.’s turkey burgers. But just because they’ve been advertising non-stop doesn’t mean the things are actually worth eating, so I went to check it out on your behalf and I’m happy to report these burgers that range from $2.99 to $3.49 are certainly worth the money -or, at least the regular and teriyaki ones are. The guacamole at Carl’s Jr. is pretty bland and the original turkey burger is much better than the guacamole burger and it is $.50 cheaper.

    Strangely, the original burger has the same calories in it as the guacamole burger and the teriyaki burger has 20 calories less than the other. At first glance, this makes no sense, since teriyaki is known for being calorie laden. But the truth is that the teriyaki turkey burger has a light layer of sauce and a delicious ring of pineapple, which is perfect with the juicy, but slightly less-flavorful-than-beef turkey patty. The reason the original has more calories is because they try to give the patty more flavor with extra ketchup -lots of extra ketchup. As someone who likes ketchup, it was still bordering the too much line, so if you aren’t a big fan, or if you want to shave off some easy calories order light ketchup or no ketchup at all.

    Although the patties aren’t as flavorful as beef, they’re still tasty and Carl’s seasoning is just right for the delicate flavor. The patties are incredibly juicy, far more so than the other meats available at the restaurant.

    All in all, if you’re on a diet and still want some good fast food, the turkey burgers are a good call. The teriyaki is probably best, but the original is quite good. You’re probably best off skipping the guacamole version though.

    On average, the burgers deserve a 4 out of 5.

  2. Dining Don’t: Tyler’s Taste of Texas Egg Skins

    April 27, 2011 by Jill

    I have already reviewed Tyler’s Taste of Texas, but while practically everything I’ve had there was quite tasty, I must admit that I was incredibly disappointed when I recently ate there and ordered the “egg skins.” I know the name sounds utterly disgusting, but the concept sounded intriguing: potato skins filled with bacon, scrambled eggs, avocado and bell peppers, all covered in hollandaise sauce.

    Unfortunately, the Frankenstein of breakfast dishes was far inferior to the individual ingredients included therein. The biggest problem was the potato skins. Rather than being crispy and earthy, like a good potato skin, they were too thick, making them too soft and too light in flavor. As if that weren’t bad enough, the texture was terrible, they were almost chewy, like they were reheated in the microwave. I ended up having to scrap the eggs off the skins and eating them alone.

    The egg, bacon and veggie blend was good, but the hollandaise wasn’t particularly flavorful -too heavy on the butter and too light on anything else. All in all, there is a hell of a lot more things I’d rather spend my $9 on than eggs covered in butter and loaded in a half-empty potato.

    I still recommend Tyler’s, just skip the egg skins if you do you stop by.

  3. Reviewing BJ’s Snacks & Small Bites

    April 18, 2011 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on April 14, 2011 .

    BJ’s recently released a new addition to their menu, called “Snacks & Small Bites.” The dishes range from $2.95 to $4.95 and include classic treats like macaroni and cheese and tacos, to more exotic fare like seared ahi tuna.

    When I last reviewed the restaurant, one of my main complaints was the price of the food, but with these small dishes, you can pack in a lot of flavor for a pretty small price. I ordered the two mini tacos and since I already ate lunch a little while before that, the portion was great, but if you want to fill up on them, you’ll probably want to order two or three of the dishes. Even so, at $3 a serving, it won’t cost much to fill up.

    My girl friend ordered the $3.95 seared ahi, which was certainly on par with the tacos. Flavorful, perfectly raw in the center and well-seasoned externally, these were quickly devoured at our table.

    The tacos come with your choice of fillings, fajita chicken or barbacoa beef. While I wish you could have one taco with each filling type, both have to be the same. I chose the barbacoa beef, which was moist, flavorful and lean. Paired with a squeeze of lime juice, salsa that lacked the overwhelming chipotle flavor of the nacho salsa and a light sprinkling of cabbage, these are absolutely perfect.

    Head in between 12 and 3 and you can take advantage of the $3 beer deal, which also includes their home-brewed cider. The berry cider is pink and quite sweet, in fact, it might be a bit too sweet for more people. For something a little less sweet, but better balanced, try combining the Jeremiah Red with the cider. The mix is smooth, floral, sweet and all around delicious.

    In the grand scheme of things, Bj’s Snacks & Small Bites are certainly worthy of a 5 out of 5.

  4. Dirt Cheap, Quality Easter Egg Dye

    April 17, 2011 by Jill

    Looking to save some money on Easter egg dye this year? Skip the commercial kits and buy a four pack of food coloring instead. Just add 10 drops of food coloring in a small bowl or mug, then add a few tablespoons¬† vinegar and a cup of water. If things seem a little too light, add in a few extra drops of food coloring. You’ll need to make more to dye the eggs whole, but I like to have them only go about half way over the eggs so I can give them stripes. You can change the intensity of the color by leaving them in the dye for longer or shorter amounts of time.

  5. Pho Fusion Is Pho Heaven

    April 14, 2011 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on April 14, 2011 .
    With amazing boba drinks and great food to match, Pho Fusion just might be my new favorite Vietnamese restaurant in San Diego. Pho and noodle dishes are all around $6 and they are totally filling and delicious. The rice dishes, which are usually served in small portions at other restaurants are big and flavorful, served with a variety of veggies and a number of sauces. The pho was meaty and the broth was rich.

    Perhaps the greatest thing about Pho Fusion though, is their impressive selection of boba drinks, all of which are fantastic. To make things even sweeter, any of the teas, which can be served with boba or jelly, are only $1 with any entree. The almond black tea is sweet and refreshing and the green apple green tea is a perfect blend of cloyingly sweet apple flavor with slightly bitter and mellow green tea. Both my boyfriend and I agreed that these were certainly some of the best teas we’ve ever had and we will be coming back for more.

    I’d say they certainly deserve a perfect 5 out of 5.

    Image via Winnie S. [Yelp]
    Fusion Cafe on Urbanspoon

  6. 5 Hour Energy? Try B Vitamins Instead?

    April 11, 2011 by Jill

    There are a lot of people who don’t feel energized after drinking a 5 Hour energy, but many others, including myself find they really do feel great for the rest of the day. But with only the same amount of caffeine as a cup of coffee, the main thing that makes it actually work is B Vitamins. So, if you happen to be one of the people who feel energized after a 5 Hour energy, try taking a few B vitamin or multi-vitamin supplements. They’re a lot cheaper and just as effective.

    Image via veo_ [Flickr]

  7. Gualbertos: I’ve Lost That Loving Feeling

    April 8, 2011 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on April 8, 2011

    Before I started working from home last year, I worked in Kearney Mesa. One of my favorite neighborhood spots for lunch was Gualbertos #4 in Kearny Mesa, which, aside from having a terrible name was a seriously wonderful taco shop.

    I recently swung by there twice last month and was disheartened to discover the shop has lost its value and quality. On the first trip, I got one of my favorite dishes at the place, the Hawaiian burrito (something you cannot get anywhere else). It’s a carne asada burrito paired with pineapple and ham slices. If you like Hawaiian pizza, you’ll probably like this, if not, you’ll probably be disgusted by its mere existence. My BF got a carne asada torta, which ended up being soggy and not particularly flavorful.

    While my beloved Hawaiian burrito was as delicious as I remembered it, my stomach started killing me about a half hour after I ate it. Since my boy friend’s stomach was fine and I always seemed to have stomach issues, I chalked it off to my normal belly problems.

    The next week though, we tried Gualbertos again, and I found out that it was most certainly fallen from glory. When I used to work there, you could get a massive pile of nachos, loaded with sour cream, meat, guacamole, etc. My boyfriend and I both ordered nachos this time -his with pollo asada -which had so little flavor it was essentially just regular grilled chicken meat, and mine with carnitas.

    The restaurant now filled up only the front half of the container with chips, cheese and meat and reserved the back for beans, guacamole, salsa and sour cream. Although the price was the same as it was a year ago, we essentially got about half of the quantity. Even worse, the bland chicken must not have been good because while my stomach didn’t hurt after eating the carnitas, my boyfriend’s iron-cast stomach was essentially slaughtered for the rest of the night.


    After two bouts of stomach troubles, seriously decreased portions and a few mediocre meals, I’ve called it quits with Gualbertos. In fact, the restaurant has dropped their rating from a 5 out of 5, to a 2 out of 5.

    Image by Yelp user Jason B.

  8. T-Mobile: Why Don’t You Want My Money?

    March 31, 2011 by Jill

    With the exception of a brief, very unsuccessful, experiment with Straight Talk, I’ve been a loyal T Mobile customer for years now. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that it’s been all smooth sailing.

    It all started when my boyfriend and I decided to separate our family plan and get new, separate plans that would also give us new, fancy phones. This meant we had to cancel our old plan completely and get new individual plans. The company was able to transfer our old numbers onto our new phones, so everything was going smoothly, until our last family plan bill was due.

    Unfortunately, T Mobile’s online site uses your phone number as your user log in id, so as soon as the company canceled our old plan, we could no longer access our old bill online. To make matters worse, I was on their paperless billing system, so they didn’t send me a paper version of the bill either.

    I call them on the phone and ask if they can send me a copy of the bill, but they have their system set up in a way that prevents them from changing an account’s settings after the account is closed. Essentially, if you have paperless billing, you continue to have it, even after you can’t access your account. The customer service rep tells me she absolutely can’t send me a paper bill.

    Instead, she tells me to visit a T Mobile store in person and have an associate print it out for me. This is already getting to be a pain in the ass, but I just want to pay my last bill and get this over with, so I head to the store and the associate quickly prints out my bill. Only then do I realize that I canceled four days after the billing cycle ended and they haven’t added those four days of charges to the bill she just handed me. Instead, I have to drive to their store in order to get another printout, this time for my bill of four days worth of service. I ask the associate if she can arrange the final bill to be mailed to me or if she can just tell me what it will cost, but she says no on both accounts. Like the woman on the phone said, they can’t change account settings and mail bills after accounts are closed so if your a paperless customer, your bill ends up in paperless limbo.

    I just want to be able to pay off my bill, but don’t want to spend more money gas driving to their store to get the bill than the partial bill total. But that seems like it’s way too much to ask for here.

  9. Pat & Oscar’s Carmel Mountain Ranch: Tasty, Tasty Value

    March 30, 2011 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on March 29, 2011

    Whether feeding a family or grabbing a quick lunch by yourself, Pat & Oscar’s is always a great value for the price, but the one in Carmel Mountain Ranch puts the other locations to shame. Their breadsticks taste fresher and are covered in even more buttery garlic than those at other places and their lemon chicken tastes even fresher and more flavorful.

    The prices (while the same at all locations) are unbeatable as well. For only $6.50 you can get a quarter of a chicken, fries, salad and breadsticks. I personally prefer the lemon chicken and Greek salad (with their delicious house dressing), but the barbecue chicken and Caesar salad are also tasty. For $3 more, you can also have meaty, juicy ribs with the meal. Or, step up to the family meals and enjoy half a chicken, a massive bowl of pasta, eight breadsticks and a large salad for only $19.


    Whatever you get, you’re certain to enjoy amazing food for an unbeatable price.
    I would certainly give Pat & Oscars a 5 out of five.

  10. Losing Weight? There’s An App For That

    March 20, 2011 by Jill

    Reviewed by Jill Harness on March 20, 2011.

    Everyone knows it’s hard to lose weight (if it weren’t, America wouldn’t have an obesity problem). The trick is to find what works for you. What works for me, and may benefit you as well, is the Calorie Counter app on my Windows phone. In fact, it’s working so well that I lost six pounds in my first week.

    The app was created by FatSecret and is available on all of the major smartphone operating systems, but if you don’t have a smartphone, you can always go ahead and use the FatSecret webpage instead.

    Essentially, all you have to do is track what you eat every day and how much you exercise. The system will be able to tell you how many calories, carbs, etc. you’re taking in and compare your calorie intake to the amount you should be consuming if you want to lose weight. If you slip up one day, it’s easy to stay motivated, because the diet calendar can still show you how many calories you have lost in an average day since you started using the program. There are a handful of foods and restaurants that aren’t on the list, but you can always look them up online and add them to the app where it will be available from there on out.

    And of course, the service is one of the Cheapskate’s favorite adjectives -free!

    I give the Calorie Counter app 4.5 out of 5.