More catching up and a Panera review

Some more catching up in the New Year. Hopefully, I will get back to blogging more regularly, and these entries will be a little more coherent, rather than inspired by my pictures and what I can remember.

I actually finished a project this weekend, a hat for my niece. Will wait until she receives it to post pictures. I was developing a pattern from a picture, and it is not quite exact, but hopefully she (and her mom) will like it. If I make another one, I will have a better idea of how to do it.

Here are some cinnamon rolls I made this fall – it is strange for me to make cinnamon rolls because I grew up eating caramel rolls and calling them cinnamon rolls. But the DH prefers cinnamon rolls, so I usually make them. Using the Speedy Roll dough recipe.

Cinnamon rolls 20131020_095209

I also ate at Panera bread this fall, specifically to try their seasonal menu items. Of course, then I neglected to get this posted while they were still available. But maybe they will bring these back. The Rigatoni San Marzano pasta  – this was OK. The tomatoes in the sauce were nice, the peas were pretty pointless. The sausage in the sauce was good. Panera does a good job of cooking the pasta al dente, at least at the Panera shops I have been to. The turkey harvest wheatberry salad was also tasty, the wheat berries were a little soggy but I liked the vinaigrette.


Rigatoni San Marzano pasta – Panera Bread

Wheat berry salad, Panera

Wheat berry salad, Panera

Quick dinner idea: roll up ham and cheese in crescent rolls and back. The DH will eat just about anything rolled up in a crescent roll. (Well, so will I.) Easy dinner for work nights, with a green salad or vegetable.Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups

Ham and Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups

Tried a new place in Westminster, Goody’s Eatery, for breakfast. Two thumbs up! Nice decor, friendly staff, good food.   I had the Huevos Garcia Hashbrowns, green peppers and onions, PKWY green chile, melted cheddar jack, two eggs over easy.

Goody's Eatery - Huevos Farcia

Goody’s Eatery – Huevos Farcia

Had a day off from work so ate at Taigun for lunch – on of my favorite places but not open for lunch on Saturdays. This was one of their lunch combinations, it was good. Not as good as on-the-coast sushi, but good. I really should stick to rolls in the middle of the country. /

Sushi Lunch, Taigun, Broomfield, Colo.

Sushi Lunch, Taigun, Broomfield, Colo.

And this is the duck ramen at Uncle – finally got to go there with my friend E. We had the brussels sprouts for an appetizer, which were amazing. If I could figure out how to make those we would be having brussels sprouts once a week. Well, I would be having them, at least…..

Duck Ramen, Uncle, Denver

Duck Ramen, Uncle, Denver

Tomorrow: Current projects!

Panera 2012 Fall Menu – Another New Pasta Dish

Panera still seems to be testing pasta dishes only in certain markets, so I feel it is my duty to the internet to report on the new ones as they arrive on the scene. I was dutifully keeping my receipt to help with this blog entry, and then I got caught up in a flurry of desk cleaning, so…..the newest pasta, which seems to have come out in conjunction with the Fall Seasonal Menu, is Spicy Sausace Rigatoni. Or something approximating that. I am sure the name was on the receipt, which I threw away.  I was hungry and ordered the large – once again, you get this WITH something, a soup or a salad. If you don’t want the soup or salad, you receive a discount of about .49 so it is not worth it.

The pasta was very good. The sausage was quite spicy with fennel seeds. I don’t know about the peas. Are peas really necessary in this dish? The pasta somewhat al dente, not like “homemade in a very good Italian restaurant al dente” but good al dente for a chain restaurant. The peas were not mush. There was quite a high sausage to pasta ratio.The large portion of this is probably way more than anyone needs to eat for lunch. I got the baked potato soup and bread with it, and I saved them for dinner.

The bolognese is still my favorite, but I think this one is now second place. Oh yes, there is cheese on top of it, too. That never hurts.  The fact that they still seem to be testing these means there is no nutritional information out there that I can find, and I am a queen of Googling. Perhaps it is best we not know in this situation.

I had the baked potato soup for dinner.

It was also very tasty, I think I would call this my favorite Panera Bread soup right now.

All I can say about these cookies is that they should be illegal. They are shortbread rather than a sugar cookie. They are amazingly delicious. There is a slight lemony taste to frosting, which helps keep it from being overpoweringly sweet. I could eat several of these, and that would be a bad, bad thing.

There IS nutritional information available on these, no wonder they are so good…..

Nutritional Info – Panera Bread Pumpkin Cookie (95g)
Calories – 450 (from Fat – 190)
Fat – 21g (Saturated Fat – 12g)
Sodium – 160mg
Carbs – 63g (Sugar – 35g)
Protein – 4g

So, again, Panera scores a hit with the pasta, I hope it is well received enough in the trial locations for them to roll it out around the country.


New Pasta at Panera Bread Review Part 2

I have been remiss in reviewing the third new pasta at Panera Bread, forgive me, there was an unpleasant bout with food poisoning in there (NOT caused by Panera) and my knitting group moved back to Knit Knack, our wonderful home knitting store, and so I hadn’t been to Panera in a while.

I have been getting quite a few search hits on my review of the first two pastas, so I felt duty-bound to the foodies of the internet to review the third. I knew people would be looking for information on the pastas as soon as word spread, and I was certainly frustrated in my quest to find any, so I hope this is helpful.

I tried the third pasta, Tortellini Alfredo, in combination with the broccoli cheddar soup. This was quite a cheese-laden lunch. Upon reflection, I should have chosen the tomato soup as a contrast. Still good, however.

This is what you get for 10.70, including tax, at the Panera Bread in Fort Collins. Pasta/soup combo with baguette (small size) $8.29, regular soda $1.59.

This soup is certainly cheesy. Other than the broccoli, it also has shredded carrots. Most of the broccoli is in small chunks, and it has been cooked rather well, but there is still a little bit of resistance there, not cooked to mush. Great winter or cool weather comfort food, best for dipping the baguette.

As I expected, the tortellini is my least favorite of the three pastas, because it is the least interesting. It did surprise me with its strong cheese taste, however, because I thought the 6-cheese filling in the sacchettini was kind of bland, and this had more of a bite to it. The six cheeses listed in the sacchetti are: ricotta, parmesan, romano, monterey jack, cheddar, and mozzarella. The three in the tortellini are: ricotta, swiss and romano. I am guessing it is the swiss that jumps out. I was pleasantly surprised on the first bite.

The Alfredo sauce is creamy and mild, it does appear to have fresh parsley in it (looks more bright green than dry, I think) but nothing that makes you sit up and say “Wow!”

Again, this is not a fresh-made, hand-crafted, al dente pasta. You need to go to your hometown Italian restaurant for that. But it is a fine alternate to a sandwich or a salad at Panera if you are not in the mood for one of those. My favorite is still the cavatelli, second favorite is the sacchettini, and third is the tortellini. If you are a tortellini or Alfredo lover (or a pesto hater!), your mileage may vary.

New Pasta at Panera Bread

I saw a sign for new pasta at Panera, and of course I can’t remember where….it seems like it was outside my usual stomping grounds, but who knows where that is. Anyway, I couldn’t find ANYTHING on line about it, so I figured it was a test market thing and I had come across one store featuring it. But when I went to Knit Knight at the local Panera, there it was. So, as a public service, and to get it out there on the internets, here is my review of Panera’s new pastas. Well, two of them at least. (My review of the tortellini, here!)

I am betting they added these because of the success of their macaroni and cheese. According to a known mac and cheese fancier, my friend Cathy, who is a known macaroni and cheese fancier, it is pretty good. So they are trying three more kinds, and you can get them by themselves (more on that later) in a small size with a cafe soup or salad, or a large size with a cafe soup or salad. Well, at Knit Knight I had the pesto sachettini, with a Ceasar salad, and a chunk of baguette. The small combination is $8.29 and the large is $9.99. I find that to be a kind of questionable value. Even better, I stopped at Panera near work the next day because I of course forgot to pick up a copy of the flier that had information about the pasta on it, and I wanted to get one more kind, so I could have sampled at least 2 different kinds before I wrote this review. Without the salad or soup (you still get the bread) – a little tiny bowl of pasta is $7.79. Holy catfish. They are making money on this hand over fist. However, I guess it about in line with their other prices, which I do not consider to be a bargain. This is my opinion and my opinion only. Our knitting group is meeting at Panera, at least temporarily, and it is refreshing to have something different to order. I will try the tortellini next week so I can have a complete report.

Colorado is apparently a test market for these, since I have seen them in at least 2 different cities (and maybe 3, if I could remember the first place I saw them….)

On to the actual food. At Knit Knight I had the sachettini pesto. The sachettini are little “purses” full of cheese. They say there are six different kinds of cheese in there, but it was just kind of bland and cheesy. The pasta was well past al dente. I wasn’t wild about the pesto, because I like my pesto pretty strong, but it turned out to be pretty strong later when it was repeating on me all night (is that a tactful way to say that?) Maybe I was just drinking too much soda. One of my other friends tried it too and she gave it a seven or eight out of ten. I gave it a 5, better than Fazzoli’s but worse than Noodles and Company.

Now, the Rustic Penne Bolognese which I had by itself, was very tasty. The noodles are thick and quite sturdy, and hold up better than the sachettini. The bolognese sauce was very tasty. However, this is what you get for $7.79 –

If you don’t want a soup or salad with it. So, that soup or salad is valued at about 40 cents if I am remembering the prices right.

Here is the little informational sheet they have about the pastas:

So, my recommendation is: If you are tired of the “Pick two” option, you can try this one for something new and get pasta instead, with a soup or salad. Next week I may even try the ‘large’ tortellini to see how large it is. The sacrifices I make for the reading/eating public. But I wanted to get something out there because Google is remarkable lacking in information. So, here it is! Worth a try, especially the bolognese. I will report back next week on the tortellini. Great taste, at least on the bolognese, maybe not such a great value, but decide for yourself.