Thanksgiving Day Macaroni & Cheese

I make macaroni and cheese……like……a lot. An unholy amount of mac’ n cheese has been put into this body. I didn’t plan to make mac’ n cheese for Thanksgiving this year, but when the night came to make my scalloped potatoes I just couldn’t resist making one more thing. Over achiever much? The sauce for my scalloped potatoes was a base for mac’ n cheese so how could I really say no? This is what I refer to as “last minute mac” because I used penne in replacement for elbow noodles, because, hello, I didn’t know I was making this so of course I didn’t have the right pasta on hand. I threw in some spicy Jimmy Dean sausage because Kyle is constantly bitching at me that the freezer is too full….so I used something from the freezer, probably the smallest item in the freezer, but still counts!

Ingredients
1 box of penne pasta (or elbow if you’re smarter than me)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
3 Cups of Whole Fat Milk
3 Cups of a three cheese blend or the cheese of your choosing
1 Stalk of green onion diced
1 package of Jimmy Dean Spicy Sausage
1 Cup of Panko
4 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Butter
4 Tablespoons of Flour
S&P

How To
Don’t be an idiot like me and wait until you are done with the sauce to boil the pasta – you should do that first. Remember the pasta trick with the water – your pasta water should look and taste like ocean water – more flavor!

I fried up my sausage next, and once it was completely cooked through I added the garlic and onions. Next, I added the butter (all in the same pan, sausage fat and all, this is Thanksgiving!), let the butter melt down over medium heat, and then add in the flour. Cook this mixture for about 3-4 minutes, and then stir in the milk and begin to whisk. Whisk until your arm falls off OR you no longer have lumps of flour/butter. Cheese, cheese, and more cheese, but only add one cup at a time and wait until it’s melted down into the sauce to add the next. At this point I also take a small ladle of the pasta water and place it into the cheese sauce. The starches released from the pasta while it bowls will help the sauce really adhere to the noodles.

Butter a casserole dish and mix your sauce and noodles all together. I bake this at 400 covered for 30 minutes, and then take it out, place panko all over the top, drizzle the panko with olive oil, and then broil for 5 minutes. Delicious! Last minute mac!

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Thanksgiving Day Scalloped Potatoes

The most decadent recipe I have made to date, I believe. Now, I have talked about these potatoes in several Sunday videos, and last Friday Mikaela and I actually made them over live stream. What a beautiful disaster that video was. I encourage you to go watch it before making these.

The biggest debate during thanksgiving was: are scalloped potatoes the same as au gratin potatoes, and the official answer is no. “Scalloped potatoes are a milk based potato dish. The potatoes are usually sliced very thinly although what technically makes it ‘scalloped‘ is the milk base. A gratin on the other hand is any dish that is topped with cheese and/or bread crumbs and layered with bits of butter and is baked until brown and crispy.” – Thank you Google. I did however make au gratin macaroni and cheese which I will be posting next. On to the potatoes!

Ingredients
3lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes (Slice these about 1/8 of an inch)
3 Cloves of Garlic (minced)
3 Cups of Whole Fat Milk
3 Cups of a three cheese blend or the cheese of your choosing
1 Stalk of green onion diced
Pancetta or substitute bacon, but I love pancetta for the holidays. Pancetta and bacon are extremely similar as they are both cured pork belly, but pancetta is typically sliced paper thin, and gives off a less salty taste.
4 Tablespoons of Kerrygold Butter
4 Tablespoons of Flour
S&P

How To

About the potatoes, I sliced mine long ways as I am sure you can tell in the photo. Do not ask me why as it is just what I decided to do in the moment. I also sliced my potatoes by hand to give a more rustic approach. I slice my potatoes first because let’s be honest it is the worst part of making this dish, and then I place them in a bowl of ice water to prevent discoloration.

Cube and fry up that pancetta baby. We want it to be nice and crispy! Save the fat though!

Remove the crispy pancetta, and throw in your garlic and green onions. Let them cook for about two minutes to just wake those babies up.

Now, the roux. We have been over a roux a many times on WWB. Place your butter in a medium heat pan, and a dash of olive oil to prevent the butter from burning. Wait until your butter is nice and bubbly to throw in the flour. Let the flour and butter get along for 3-4 minutes or until it no longer smells like raw flour. Pour in your milk and immediately begin to whisk. Bring this to a simmer once there are no longer clumps of flour/butter. Your sauce should coat the back of a spoon when you test the thickness. Turn down the heat to low, and add your cheese one cup at a time and whisk whisk whiiisk. S&P for taste, and the sauce is complete!

Oven should be at 400 degrees.

I layer this dish like lasagna. I ladle a spoonful of sauce on the bottom of a buttered casserole dish, layer of potatoes, layer of pancetta/green onion/garlic mixture, and repeat until you just can’t fit anymore potatoes in there! I cover this with foil, place it on a cookie sheet because it will boil over, and let it bake for 45minutes, then remove the foil and let bake for 15 minutes, and last but not least add a fine layer of cheese and broil for 5 minutes.

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Sweet Dozen Cones – Historic Folsom Ice Cream Shop

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Save the drama for your mama and go get some ice cream! I am a firm believer in if ice cream doesn’t make someone happy nothing will.

Sweet Dozen Cones opened up on Sutter Street in Historic Folsom about a week ago, but probably two by the time I publish this, and BOY has it been a mad house! Crazy busy! Crazy unique! Crazy fun!

Sweet Dozen Cones
Donut (Chimney) Cones
807 Sutter Street
Folsom, CA
Hours: Wed-Sun 12-8pm
http://www.sweetdozen.com/

This is a family owned and operated business, and when they say that – they mean it. Kyle and I went on a Saturday 4 minutes after they opened and both owners were there working and getting ready for the day. Want to know why their product is flying off shelves? One: it’s delicious. Two: they don’t just make ice cream and stick it in a pre-made cone. Their cones or what they call “Chimneys” which is sweet pastry that they then bake rotisserie style until golden brown is unique to Folsom. The very friendly lady making them while we waited for our order explained the entire process to me, because when you watch them make the cones it definitely does not look like they are frying them, but the finished product is crispy and flaky as if it were fried! I later looked up the technique that is very popular in Europe, and Hungary which the woman told me as well. How cool is that? Folsom got a culture lesson today, y’all. Chimneys (known as Kürtőskalács in Hungarian or Trdelník in Czech) are delicious and unique, bread-like freshly baked Hungarian pastries, named after their hollow, cylindrical shape. They have a satisfying crunch on the outside and a soft, fluffy dough on the inside. THIS is what your ice cream goes into you guys!

Ice cream…..it’s not really ice cream but gelato. Gelato is better than ice cream in my humble opinion. Really, the only difference is that gelato uses less cream, more milk, and usually more sugar, BUT it has less fat than ice cream. I obviously do not know their personal recipe at Sweet Dozen nor do I think they would share it but the gelato is creamy, holds it shape, and my favorite part – not overly sweet! Remember, you are getting fun ingredients with your cone so you wouldn’t want an overly sweet base.

Now, there are other things to eat here, but who really cares about those? It’s all about the cones. I joke. Kind of. They have a wide variety of pastries, you can get cones just by themselves loaded with cream cheese, nutella, peanut butter, etc. They have drinks and coffee and plenty of napkins. Now, the important part – what did we eat?

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I ordered the Cereal n’ Milk with Fruity Pebbles (they also had corn flakes and cinnamon toast…..my next one to try) and Kyle ordered the MVB – Maple Vanilla Bacon.

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I am not a big sweets eater, but I had been determined to get on of these bad boys since the night before. We drove around and could NOT find parking, so we left, was I bummed? YUP. Did I have a fit that I was going to have to come back? Nope. What did I do? Placed my order the next day at 12:04PM and they open at 12PM. I love these cones. They are not loaded with sugar other than the outside, but the pastry itself has little to no sugar, and it is STRONG. These cones are FILLED with gelato not just the top part you see, but the bottom portion is loaded with your treats and MORE gelato. My favorite part? I am not a fast eater and by the time I conquered that MOUNTAIN of top gelato my cone wasn’t even soaked through in fact it was still nice and crunchy by the time I finished the goodies inside as well. The cones hold up to the filling they are stuffed with. The flavor combinations here are unique. I am listing their website info below so you can check out all the cone flavors yourselves.

Final thoughts: I love it here. Everyone I met was friendly and more than happy to talk about their product. The inside seating can fit about 20 people give or take. Are they busy? You bet your butt they are. There were already 5 orders ahead of our own less than 5 minutes after they opened and every order besides ours was a family. Sweet Dozen is a unique experience with their doughnut like cones, gelato ice cream, and flavor combinations as far as the eye can see. And, it’s kind of good for you since the cones are baked, right? I will absolutely be returning and telling everyone I know about this place. Please remember when you visit local eateries such as this 90% of their products are HOMEMADE which is what makes them SO GOOD. I watched these cones being made and they are not easy and a lot of work is put into them, and then add on house made gelato. These guys are the real deal. They are worth the wait. They are worth the return.

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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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.

Why I can’t Eat the way You do

I have been wanting to write a post like this for quite some time, and yet lacked the motivation or inspiration until now.

I am more often than not critiqued on the way I eat and even more so the grocery stores I shop at and the money I spend on food. Now, before we continue please read that one more time and really focus on the last word. Food. Food is the essence of life. We live off of food and food alone. We either slowly die from the food we are consuming most or we thrive. Those are truly the only two options. Food is important to me for many different reasons and I am hoping to explain them in way you can understand in this post. I will not blab about organic, GMO, or all the other new hippy words on the market. I am simply going to explain why the quality of the food I feed myself and my family is fundamentally important to me and in so hope to gain some understanding.

#1 Food Fuels My Body
I have an autoimmune disease. If you are new to this blog I have Dermatomyositis to be more specific. You can Google that on your own time, and I wish you luck….no one suffers from it so no one cares. You will not find charities, ribbons, t-shirts or research.
I have to take care of my body. Shocker, right? The funny thing is, though: so do you. You may not be sick, diseased or disabled such as myself, but for me it would be an even better reason to take care of my healthy body. Okay, back to me. Food makes or breaks me. I have been so in tune with my body this year. I can tell you what I need to eat to feel better, I can tell you the exact time I need to go to the bathroom (accomplishment when you’ve taken medication since the age of 9),and I can tell you what I ate that sent me into a spiral of misery. I know my body.

When you suffer from a disease you are forced to become more in tune with your body. When you live in pain you become much more aware of “triggers” because baby Jesus knows you don’t need more. I eat Taco Bell, I eat fried foods, I live on butter, and I am by no means the idol of perfect health. Yet, everything I eat I know exactly what I am in for. Kyle and I had Smash Burger yesterday for lunch. My order: fried chicken sandwich, sweet potato fries, and fried pickles. Yes, girl I can eat. Do you know what the rest of my day looked like? Me rolling around on the floor in agony while my dogs trampled me thinking my entire existence was nothing but a joke. I did nothing the rest of the day. I eat bad. I just know the consequences. Want to know what I ate today? Some dandelion root tea, a vegan protein shake, some chicken sausage, and a banana protein muffin. It is 2:30pm and I am overflowing with energy. I made breakfast burritos for the week, those muffins, marinating chicken for another post, and this isn’t the first post I’ve written today….its the 3rd. If I was physically able to I’d run a couple miles. I feel amazing today, and I have lived too much of my life miserable or in pain to sabotage myself too often. My body suffers when I treat it like crap. My hair is starting to grow back after 15 years. My hair.  This may be due to me no longer being on medications, but I have not taken a chemo based drug in over 10 years….if my hair was going to grow back simply by being off of that it would have happened a while ago. Derma (skin) my skin is better. My joints only ache when I overdose on unhealthy foods (totally worth it from time to time). I have never had a sweet tooth, and I truly think it was my body’s way of protecting me when I was initially diagnosed and still to this day….sugar lights my body on FIRE. I am telling you that I am not healed but I am better. I am better because I eat like I give a damn.

#2 Knowing WHERE my Food comes from is Important
Some foods are much better organic, but I am always more interested in WHERE my food comes from. Why? Because, local is better. Less travel time means food is at its freshest. Less travel time means less chance of contamination or losing quality. Believe it or not I only buy certain foods organic, and the list is very small. I prefer to shop local. I prefer to shop quality. Food is going into your body for one reason: to provide your body energy. Food tastes great but our bodies do not care how food tastes our bodies care about how they can use it to heal us or keep us healthy. I buy Kerrygold butter because it is grass fed (do your own research, ever wonder how I weigh 90lbs but eat butter with ultimately every meal? Grass fed…..breaks down in your body completely differently….your body can use it), I buy meat from our local butcher because the meat comes from a farm less than 100 miles away, I buy local cage free eggs — way more important than organic eggs. Now, buying local comes at a price simply because farmers or local businesses cannot beat out large store prices. Take that or leave it. I find quality and peace of mind in buying ingredients local so I know exactly what I am getting, and you are helping along someone’s dream.

#3 Food is my hobby
Hello? I write a food blog. I love eating. I love cooking and I place importance on those two things. Local and better quality food tastes better which results in a better end product for me to publish. Kyle and I go out to eat maybe twice a month. We do not live a lavish life and so many things that we save on is what allows us to have a larger grocery budget than most. People spend their money on things and items that are important to them. My health and food go together, so how is me spending more money, time, and energy on food any different than someone spending their hard earned money a brand new TV? It’s not. I have priorities different than someone else. Welcome, to life. You can bet anything in the world that I will buy a $5 bottle of almond milk, but you can also bet that you won’t see me at a bar downtown every Saturday night buying drinks or buying name brand socks….Target brand that shit.

I hope this opens the eyes of one person. I know long posts tend to be my least popular, but it was something I felt. I write what I feel. Your food is fuel. Your food is medicine. Your food is your life.