Loco Moco

If you follow my Facebook ….. which hello? It’s me. You will know I LOVE Loco Moco. What is Loco Moco? Loco moco is a meal in the contemporary cuisine of Hawaii. There are many variations, but the traditional loco moco consists of white rice, topped with a hamburger patty, a fried egg, and brown gravy. Thank you, Wiki.

I have been going to Aji Japanese Bistro which is nestled in the El Dorado Hills Town Shopping Center almooooost every weekend, and they make the most amazing Loco Moco. I have a problem. Well, this past weekend I hosted a Cousin Cult Party and decided I would just make my own version! What is Cousin Cult, you ask? Exactly what it sounds like. Mikaela (my cousin & photographer) and I find it very important to spend time with family so we often plan Cousin Cult parties filled with food, cards against humanity, and funny movies. The other night’s theme was Christmas in August as Mikaela and I are holiday freaks! My two brothers came as well, Jacob and Lucas. Pictures below if you dare. Fill your life with memories and food!

Ingredients
1Lb Grass-fed Ground Beef
2 Cups of White Rice (Serving is 4 people) – Cauliflower rice could also be used here, wild rice, brown or whatever you dietary needs
8 Finely Chopped White Mushrooms
2 Cups Beefstock
1TBSP Flour
2 TBSP Kerrygold Butter
2 TBSP Soy Sauce
1TSP Sesame Oil
S&P
Garlic Powder
1TSP Rice Wine Vinegar
Bundle of Green Onions for Garnish
2 Eggs per serving

How To

Always start with your rice because out of all the items we are preparing rice is going to take the longest. Now, I have a rice cooker, but if you do not follow the instructions for the rice you choose to use. I do put the sesame, soy, and vinegar IN the water I am cooking my rice in as it infuses the flavors throughout the entire cooking time so no matter how you choose to cook your rice make sure to put those ingredients in.

Beef Patties – the simplicity of this dish is key so I ONLY use S&P and garlic powder on my little meat patties and fry them in butter until medium rare(once again, any temperature you prefer is fine). Out of the pound of ground beef I made 6 patties about half an inch thick and smooshed down to the size of my palm, and I have little hands. The patties took only 4-5 minutes on each side on high heat for a medium/rare cook. Let them get those crispy bits on their tops.

Gravy – In the pan that we fried the beef in begin your roux – add the butter and then cook the flour and add beef stock. I add the mushrooms last as I like them to have a bit of bite left but you can saute them in beef fat/butter and then make a roux and add stock.

Eggs – Traditionally, the eggs are served fried and medium so the yolk mixes with the gravy and rice…..gurl. Make your eggs the way you like but fried over medium is how they turned out for this recipe.

Assembly – Take your beautiful rice and place on the bottom of a bowl, add your beef patty, gravy, and finally your eggs. I garnish green onions and maybe some hot sauce! I hope you like this dish and are willing to try it!

Enjoy the random pictures of Cousin Cult night and yes, I do eat store bought frozen fries and weird cinnamon rolls out of a cardboard tube…..I am a real person.

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Sweet and Spicy Chili and Beer Cheese Sauce FRIES
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Left to Right: Lucas, Yours Truly, Jake, and then Mikaela as a snowman!
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Kyle isn’t really a cousin but he wore a taco Christmas shirt so we let him in ❤
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Weird Cardboard Cinnamon Roll “Christmas Tree”

Shredded Beef Panini with Horseradish and Caramelized Onions

I will just go ahead and quote myself here and say “You will find the best moments of your life happening when you’re two glasses deep in champagne and eating a grilled sandwich for brunch” – Farewell 2016

Still is true. Paninis and grilled sandwiches make the world turn or at the very least they make mine. Take the time to make shredded beef and take the time to make caramelized onions. Make the world turn.

Ingredients
3lbs Grassfed Beef Chuck roast (I had leftovers….you won’t need this much just for sandwiches unless you’re having a party….and then go you!)
Extra Sharp Cheddar Cheese (I can never find white cheddar – where is it?!)
1 Red Onion
1 TBSP Kerrygold Butter
Cream Style Horseradish
Good Quality Sourdough Bread
Panini Press (if not – you can grill in a pan)

How To

Okay, there are two important components here – 1. the meat & 2. the onions. I made the meat a few days before and all I did was cut up two onions, some garlic, S&P, chili flakes, some beef broth, and threw all that with the roast in my crock pot for 8 hours. Shredded that baby up and complete!

Onions – caramelized onions take time but trust me they are well worth the wait and the tears. And, I mean you will cry by how little you end up getting once they are done! One large onion turns into just enough for two sandwiches and a couple bites while standing over the stove!

See! That is IT! Still worth it. DO NOT LISTEN TO THE LIES THAT TELL YOU CARAMELIZED ONIONS TAKE 5 MINUTES! No, sorry it doesn’t work that way. If you want real caramelized onions get ready to be in your kitchen for 45 minutes. You may use any onions you like but I prefer either vidalia (yellow onion) or red. In order for the sugars to break down properly in onions you must cook them low and slow. Now, they don’t require a ton of babysitting, I do other things in the kitchen while they cook down, and I’d say the last 10 minutes or so I babysit them. Slice your onions in any fashion you prefer, add in some oil and butter, and then let them be at a low heat for the next 30 minutes or so. They should look like the second picture above. Life changing!

NEXT!
Grab some delicious cheese, good bread, and butter both sides of your bread. Assemble your sandwich and throw that baby boy on the panini press. I do not put the horseradish on until the sandwich is finished as I like the hot/cold effect.

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Dry Diggings Distillery – Whiskey Tasting Adventure

This blog probably should have been WWWB…Wine Whisk WhiskEY & Bliss as it is no secret that I love my whiskey. What do you think my answer was when 2nd dad aka Mikey aka Uncle asked if I’d like to go whiskey tasting? Um, YES. Not only does this blog support local and small business but so does my entire family!

Y’all Dry Diggings Distillery is the Hogwarts of whiskey: magical, secretly hidden, and extremely educational. Nestled in the heart of El Dorado Hills this local business/distillery gave us one exciting afternoon. Now, if you’re a whiskey hater…..why are you here? Just kidding. In all seriousness there is a wide variety of spirits available at Dry Diggings and ALL made in house, AND the people running the show are incredible so go anyways for a fun afternoon and memorable experience!

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Please welcome Michelle, my aunt to the blog! She isn’t cooking anything on this post but she went along for the tasting because that’s just what family is for. Kyle and my amazing grandpa went as well but apparently we didn’t take pictures with them….oops. Next time! Mikey and I collab quite a bit you may remember him here & here. We continue! All of us in attendance being whiskey tasting virgins.

We take the short drive to the distillery and upon parking Michelle looks over at me from the backseat with bewilderment across her face and asks “is this it?!” Hogwarts. The distillery is located inside your run of the mill business building! It is totally awesome. We walk through the door, were immediately greeted with a smile, and continued down a short hallway that then transported us into the magical place of Dry Diggings Distillery.

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Our tasting was hosted by Darci and she was absolutely delightful. My family is loud, funny, the best(slightly biased), and memorable and Darci put up with us the entire time! Whiskey and spirits tasting is not what Michelle and I initially thought which was taking numerous shots of whiskey until you can’t remember your name. No, the tasting in TOTAL is only equal to about 1 and a quarter shots. You also can pick your tasting here from whiskey exclusively which is what Kyle chose or the rest of the party’s choice: a mixed flight of both whiskey and spirits. Darci loves where she works and we all could immediately tell the minute she began to explain each bottle, how the idea for it was conceived, the entire process from start to finish, and the uniqueness in taste for each whiskey/spirit. The love for the art of spirits and whiskey absolutely radiates here. I am not going to give too many of the secrets/facts/education away here(sorry) but I feel it is absolutely imperative to hear and experience in person. If you are in the Sacramento area…if you are in California make the drive to this amazing local business. I am telling you that you will not regret it.

Fun fact: Whiskey/Spirit tasting is totally different than wine tasting! Duh, right? Michelle and I are expert wine tasters but had quite the learning curve here and Darci walked us through every step of the way. A fun trick we learned was to breathe in, take a sip, and then breathe out to really capture aromas and flavors while tasting. We tasted an odorless and tasteless vodka….this is how vodka is supposed to be guys if done right. Interesting, right? We had a white rum, cherry brandy, rye whiskey(one of the favorites), an apple brandy lovingly referred to as Apple Jacks(also a favorite of the day), and plenty more whiskey. Darci had a memory for every drink she poured which made the afternoon personal as we in turn told stories and laughed until our hot jaws hurt. Christine, the owner’s daughter joined as well and had a laid back fun personality to match. The tasting itself takes just a little over an hour. We all bought at least 2 bottles for our homes, in addition to her two bottles Michelle got some ginger soda for moscow mules, I bought hot sauces, bloody mary mix, Apple Jacks, and Kyle got a whiskey, and Mikey bought the amazing vodka.

Overall this was a forever memorable day not only because I got to spend it with my family but by the time we left Dry Diggings they also felt like family. Anyone that doesn’t kick us out for crude jokes, asking for a coke with whiskey, likes camping, and puts up with us becomes family. An event you will surely not forget is spirit and whiskey tasting at Dry Diggings Distillery! Check them out and tell em I sent ya! The whole group is going back in October for the official tour so stay tuned! Also stay tuned as one day we’ll get grandpa and Mikey to go wine tasting!

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Protein Packed Twice Baked Potatoes (Vegetarian)

Protein? Without meat? Krystal, c’mon.

Y’all c’mon. In case you have not noticed a lot less meat is being consumed in my tiny household. A couple months ago I started having an odd aversion to chicken(no, I am not pregnant). I’m very in tune with my body and its cravings and dislikes. When I crave eggs I fry up an egg and eat it. So, when chicken became repulsive and I was still traumatized by seafood – vegetarian became much more dominant in my life, and since Kyle can’t cook his as well. I have been participating in meatless Monday for months now and at least 2 other dishes for any given week are also vegetarian. I have been challenged for new recipes that are unique, tasty, and still have an appropriate amount of protein. I have muscle dystrophy (muscle wasting) I need protein in my diet – it’s not negotiable. On average, I try to stay around 60-75g of protein a day.

Greek Yogurt!

If you have not tried subbing out mayo/sour cream with greek yogurt you are missing out. I swear it is good! AND packed with protein! Now, my secret is to still mix in a tiny amount of sour cream or mayo whichever the recipe called for with the greek yogurt because you will get less of that tang. I promise if you get a good quality greek yogurt and put it in a sauce or dip you may be able to tell the difference but it will not be bad! I used a cup of greek yogurt in these bad boys with just a couple tablespoons of sour cream. Delicious!

I ate these for lunch all week. Each HALF is as follows: 15g protein, 10g fat, 15g carbs.

Ingredients – 4 Servings
2 Large Russet Potatoes
1 Cup Greek Yogurt (I use Fage)
2 TBSP Sour Cream
1 TBSP Butter
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese
1 1/2 Cup Broccoli – chopped finely
1 Cup Spinach – chopped finely
S&P
Garlic Powder

How To

Line a baking pan with foil. Get your oven set to 450 degrees. Poke holes all around your potatoes and pop in the oven for 25 minutes, take them out coat in olive oil and sea salt and bake in for 20 minutes.
All other ingredients go in a large mixing bowl.
When the potatoes are down let them cool……or don’t like me and burn your fingers off. You’ll want to cut them horizontally and scoop out the filling into your bowl with all the goodies. Give everything a quick mash, stir, and then the filling goes back into the potato skins….add some extra cheese and cook for another 10-15 just so your small broccoli florets cook.

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Healthy, fast, and veggie.

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Vegetarian Coconut Curry

I have been making curry for a long time and every time I do I get these weird ass looks from people. Like, are we not in America? I don’t talk shit about your “Chinese” food……even though orange chicken from Panda Express is not authentic, Kyle. I can have any cuisine I want delivered to my door in a matter of minutes. America is a mixing pot of foods, hello! How are there so many people out there AND that I apparently know that have not had curry?! The real question is why have you waited so long to provide a recipe, Krystal?
Fine.

I just recently started using coconut milk. I know I know, vegan/vegetarian friends I am an awful person, but I have now seen the light. Another weird food people seem to be terrified of. You guys, unless you are allergic to coconut like my mother claims to be you must put coconut milk in this recipe or I will not speak to you. Coconut milk is luxurious, smooth, and adds a creamy component you never thought you needed and will never be able to live without. It does NOT make your dish taste like coconut, it does NOT taste like the coconut I guarantee most are familiar with because although Malibu rum is delicious it is not the real flavor of coconut…….Krystal.

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Now, let us discuss curry. “Curry” is a mix of spices made up mainly of: curry leaf, coriander, turmeric, cumin, fenugreek, and chili peppers. I made this particular recipe with a yellow curry blend as it is the only blend Raleys sells…….because it’s not spicy and let’s be honest not too out of the norm. Curry comes in all different colors and spice levels though, and even I have yet to venture out and make those on my own. I do order red, yellow, and green curry when me and the other girl at work order Indian/Thai. You can, of course make your own blend, but no thank you for me. The spices in this blend are perfect as there really isn’t too much of any one spice to overpower the others.
Curry is set it and forget it for at LEAST a few hours. It’s stew but 100000 times better. This is an ultimate comfort dish for us and a staple. I make curry of different variations several times a month.

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Please don’t mind my giant tub of pink salt my dad brought me. Yay Costco!

 

Please please PLEASE get out of your comfort zone and make this. When you do post it. Even if you hate it and feed it to your dog…..tell me!

Recipe (Finally)

Ingredients
1 Can of Coconut Milk
4 Tablespoons Curry Powder of your choosing
2 Tablespoons of Kerrygold butter
1 Tablespoon Avocado Oil
1 Medium Yellow Onion
1/2-1 Cup Veggie Stock
2 Cloves of Garlic
1 Can of Chickpeas
10-15 Small Golden Potatoes cut in quarters
3 Carrots
Green onions or cilantro, jalapeno, lime, and a runny egg for garnish if you so choose.

Saute your onions and carrots in the butter and avocado oil and once they are golden in color add your garlic to cook for 1-2 minutes. Add your curry powder to really wake up the spices, and then add the entire can of coconut milk to the pan. Mix and get all the goodness off the bottom of the pan. Now, when to add the chickpeas is a personal opinion. I personally like them to simmer for the few hours with the potatoes and carrots, but some people prefer them to maintain their body and then you would want to add them about an hour before serving. Add potatoes, salt and pepper. Because potatoes soak up so much flavor/fluid I added half cup of veggie stock which made the curry initially too thin BUT once this simmers for a few hours it is perfect. Consistency is very similar to a beef stew that has marinated all day. Remember you can add whatever you want to this! I simmer mine on low heat for 4 hours and everything comes out magical.

Serve over rice or even more veggies!

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Wine @ 815

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There are three things I am exceptionally good at in life: cooking, writing, and wine tasting. The struggle with wine tasting (and I use struggle lightly because we all know I still get in my car and go) is that the nearest wine country is about 45 minutes from where I live. Amador County is where I go to giveaway all my money to grapes less fortunate than myself. Napa is about an hour and a half away, and so realistically reaching wine country is not too bad, but then Wine @ 815 moved in 5 minutes from my house. Girl, we are in trouble. Rayann and I did not walk we ran to see what this was all about.

From all stand points Wine @ 815 is genius.

Genius #1 – it is actual wine tasting in Historic Folsom. $5 per flight (5-6 tastings) which is extremely reasonable and tasting fees are waived if a bottle is purchased.

Genius #2 – Marketing. Wine @ 815 consists of 3 wineries: Rempfer Cellars, Fiddletown Cellars, Los Portales. Cross promotion makes me swoon, and these guys are doing it right. All 3 are local as well.

Genius #3 Atmosphere. I really just want to take my laptop and setup shop there while sipping on wine all afternoon, and I might actually get something done(probably not cause I totally love Lia the Tasting Manager). The shop is small but they have kept the floor plan open so the feeling of being in a tiny space never sets in. Dimmed lighting is key, because everyone looks better in dimmed lighting, right?

Genius #4 Make your own cheese board. Okay, so I almost never order cheese boards, because they always consist of cheese I can’t pronounce and I don’t want to look like a fool AND there are more creepy cheeses than anything else. 815 has changed the game, though. They have a tiny fridge filled with a wide variety of cheeses, pickles, olives, crackers, and snacks. You pick what you would like, pay for those items only, and grab a cheeseboard to eat off of. Unique and fun.

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Genius #5 Experience. I am not going to give too much away here, because wine tasting is really something that absolutely has to be experienced in person. I will tell you that I would have been more than happy to stay at 815 all day and chat with Lia. The education provided while tasting is the perfect blend as all highlights about each bottle, awards, and regions are discussed, but not so in depth that you need a full glass of wine just to be able to listen about the next. Having only 3 wineries provides a more in depth discussion for each pour, and each back story is extremely unique. Lia is fun, smart, and you can really tell she has passion for what she does.

The Wine. Have ya’ll just been waiting for me to talk about the wine? Shut up, Krystal and talk about wine. Okay, here is the main thing. Just go there. Seriously. I will tell you the most shocking reason you should take all your friends and go. Wine @ 815 is red. Red. Red. Red, and some more red. They did not have Los Portales in when I visited so I was only able to taste Fiddletown and Rempfer which are both red. Let’s be honest California is red. Krystal (me) is a white girl living in a red state, and I loved every.single.pour, AND bought with REAL money Rempfer Cellars Petite Sirah and my life was forever changed. I have been to Amador more times than I can count and I have NEVER brought home a red. I thought I would be the girl that loves bubbles and German wines forever, but I am very excited to say that my favorites are now changing thanks to 815. I will put the tasting flights below. I am not going to repeat the fun facts about either the wineries themselves or each wine because it is such an amazing experience to hear Lia tell you for yourself. I will be back. I might live there. I may have them on speed dial. Follow them on Facebook!

 

 

Party with me in Limbo 

“Where Did You Go?”

Day 1

I stopped apologizing for my absences a few years ago. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, but not in my case. Neglect makes me resentful. Absence makes me bitter. Yet, I find it fairly easy to drown inside this heart of mine and find even the task of breathing to be an inconvenience. Where have I been? Right here. Where have I gone? Nowhere.  I call this place Limbo. I call this place grief and you are welcome to take a look inside.

Sometimes it seems fitting to start a sentence saying “often times with chronic illness” but fuck that. My tragedies and my struggles are not my identity. When I bury myself in this place of in-between it’s because I’m experiencing disconnect, and not because I am a sick girl crying for your sympathy. Do not ever associate me with her.  I was made to be her my entire childhood and my main sense of pride as an adult is that I am me not my disease.

 I experienced identify theft at the age of nine and often I find myself mourning for a life I never experienced. I grieve for a child that never got to live. Occasionally my heart aches for a life completely different than this while my brain slaps me upside the head saying “silly girl, move on”. It’s hard to run when your feet won’t move. It’s hard to fly when you do not trust your own wings. I have created this imaginary ledge to keep me in my place.

 “Don’t walk too far, don’t dream too big, don’t wear yourself out, and don’t do too much, Krystal”. My entire life in one sentence: “Don’t (fill in the blank) too long, Krystal”. You’re a fragile China doll. You will fall. You will shatter. Shatter to pieces. They can put you back together, but you will never be the same, because once your skin tears it doesn’t fit back together the way it should. Bruises go all the way to the bone. You will no longer be smooth, soft, delicate or porcelain. You’ll be harsh, ragged, and dark. You’ll just be the broken China Doll someone sells at a yard sale for 50 cents, but really you’re worth only 10. So, remember – not too much, not too long, Krystal. My limbo is a place where every hope, goal, and dream of mine comes to be erased. It’s where I go when the logical part of me takes over. It’s where I go when the sick girl wins. It’s where I have buried her.

 I am writing, again. Here it is. Raw and unedited. You ask where I have been and it is just right here in the in-between. My brain wants logic, order, organization, and for me to make a damn story board for once in my life so my writing falls into place. My heart just wants the words to come out.  I have this chronic urge that pulses in my chest 24 hours a day to write. Write something, Krystal. Anything. The feeling of needing to remove something from your body so badly you can’t even think straight until you do. I felt that way about my portacath. If that thing was not going to come out of my body I was going to rip it out myself, and had thoughts (or delusions) of actually doing it! Imagine wanting a cookie so bad you’d slice your own arm off in exchange for one, and you make the deal with the devil only to find the cookie jar is empty. I’ve made the deal. It is still empty in here. I’m writing for some kind of relief.  

 Give me something to write about. If there was ever a time to learn about me it is now. I’m starting something new. Or, I can just write nonsense like I did above. I’m a writer with a blank page and you’re a reader. What do I write? What do I say to you? The world is a blank page for me just as much as it is for you. Let’s start over. Im leaving Limbo. Not at a fast pace but nonetheless, I am walking towards the exit.