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”

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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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.

 

 

The “New Me” is already Here – Farewell 2016

I really did not want to be the typical person posting an end of year blog post, but here I am being all typical and shit.

I really only wanted to read today. I am about halfway through Tana French’s The Trespasser and it is beginning to get good. Yet, like 99% of my plans I never seem to follow completely through. I had tea and a pastry for breakfast #newyearnewme and sat at my kitchen table for over a half hour staring into space before I decided to even open the laptop. I still keep writing, sitting back, sighing “this is shit”, and continuing. What do I even have to say?

2016 was not awful to me. Shocker, I know. 2016 was a messy monster for most, but I’ve been battling monsters my entire life. I have looked a lot of fears in the face and so cheers 2016 but 17 may need to step it up. 2016 was my year of letting go, my year of the in-between, and my year of finding a center. I am not going to make any dumb resolutions either. You can choose to start or give up any time of the year do not let the overdose of champagne fool you.

I wrote a post earlier this year about living out the remainder of the year “in-between”. I wrote a book the previous year and it seemed to have stitched some old wounds for me, I wasn’t sure the direction I wanted to head next, I was not really hungry for much of anything, and I somehow someway came to acceptance with that. I had this clarity and it was one of the most beautiful moments of my year if not my life. I don’t always need a plan. I don’t always need to be spreading myself so thin. It is okay to just be living.  So, I lived this year.

I started this blog mainly to keep myself occupied, because we all know I wasn’t too serious about just doing nothing productive. I also absolutely need lists in my life like I need butter or wine. I know they are slowly killing me but they are necessities, dammit. The support for WWB has been overwhelming for me. It took 3 months to post my first article. I am a writer. I am proud of that. I just hate that it took me 25 years to accept my talent and share it. I let that fear go. I have found that people that have been through the most have the most to say. So, here we are blogging and cooking away. A small blog that has branched out to connect me with family, friends, strangers, new business’, new experiences, and most importantly a new outlook on my life.

Cooking, writing, cooking, writing, cooking, writing. If I could hold them both in each hand it’d be a juggle for which I love more. They are my center. I found my center this year. I always knew where those passions were – buried deep in my chest, but I was too busy trying to be successful, I was too occupied trying to prove to everyone around me that the sick girl can do it all. I spent years of my life doing just that. And, you know what? No one cared but me, no one noticed but me, because I may have healed some wounds but the stigma of disease and sick still stalk me like a shadow. I am not healed from those stigmas. Instead of gashed out wounds in my core, though they have shrunk to be like paper cuts between the webbing of my fingers. Sick. Disease. Lemon juice in said cuts. I have made progress because just 6 months ago I would have never let you read that. I would have written it, locked it far away, and hope to God no one ever found it. It’s okay to be hurt, and it is okay to be a work in progress.I never want to be complete. Some of these wounds I will choose to keep.

I still do not have a house, and I still do not know if I’d like to give up my life savings to obtain one just so I can work the rest of my life to pay it off or spend my fortunes on seeing the world. Although, yesterday, I had nothing to do at work at read about deep vein thrombosis and air travel and now I am convinced I am may die on a plane. Who knows? I am happy.

I still do not have a baby. I still do not want a baby. Kyle does not want a baby, because that is always the second question asked “but doesn’t your husband want children?” as if I would sacrifice my body and my decisions for my husband’s happiness. No thank you, sir. Find a new wife. We have our dogs and our little house. We both have a true and meaningful understanding that having one another is what brings us happiness.Not things. Not the American way. Our Life. Our way.

I still only need people in my life that support myself and Kyle. No longer are people allowed to just be blank spaces. Contribute and add something to the many things constantly rotating in our lives or leave. I have left so many people behind this year I feel practically weightless. I suppose as I go into 2017 the thing I feel the most is refreshed. I can breathe for the first time in 16 years.

These were my high points of 2016 and that is how I am going to choose to remember the year by.

Food for Thought 2016

  • Always be reading something
  • Do not eat shrimp
  • Keep all brides drunk
  • Bust your ass at work but leaving everything there after leaving for the day
  • Shop local and shop small business’
  • Have at least 2 dogs…..1 is never enough
  • Support everyone’s dream if they are brave enough to tell it to you
  • 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
  • Butter
  • Mario Kart
  • Laugh until your temples hurt
  • Remember that whatever may ail you, whatever has ailed you speak about it, support research, and share your journey openly – I am not a sick girl, I am not a diseased girl. I am Krystal Renee

Cheers

 

Battle of the Boxes: Blue Apron vs Plated

If you have not heard of Blue Apron or Plated continue enjoying life living under a rock. Please do not let this blog disturb you as I am sure it is quite peaceful under the shelter of a boulder.

Blue Apron and Plated pop up all over my emails, Facebook, and Instagram on the daily. I’ve never followed either service until we decided to make the two brands duke it out, and so I am assuming the Internet is reading this blog and chooses to advertise food to me. “Hey all you post about is food – here is a box full of it, fatty!” -Internet. So, the idea was born for competitions between meal delivery services.

Blue Apron and Plated are the most advertised and in my humble opinion the most popular for meal delivery make it yourself fancy culinary grade service. Too many adjectives? Both companies are about equally priced, seem to have a similar style in meals, but Blue Apron demolishes in the world of marketing. I can guarantee 9/10 people have heard of Blue Apron, but maybe only half of those people know of Plated. I wanted to change that. I wanted to see who was really better. I was joined by my friend, Rayann on this adventure, and then the idea to include husbands came about. Plated and Blue Apron advertise they provide all ingredients for culinary grade meals with detailed instructions to make the process of cooking a breeze. Well, neither of our husbands can make scrambled eggs. So, we shall see.

This is a full and detailed review of both subscriptions.

Step 1: Ordering

Ordering was not challenging. These are subscription boxes and so upon signing up you will be placed on a monthly order, BUT this is very easy to opt out of once your first box ships if you are just trying the service for the first time. Websites/Apps were user friendly. Blue Apron’s site and app seemed to be more fluid which was not too much of a shock. The only mention in the negative realm for both services was that they are advertised as you (the customer) being able to pick your meals exactly upon signing up or every month, but this is not particularly the case. Instead, both companies give you a list of meat preferences(they also have you notate any allergies & have vegetarian options) and unless you go into your account, view the menu and elect to change the recipes in time you’re stuck with what they send you. I ordered both recipes on a Friday night, went to elect changes the following afternoon (not even a full 24 hours passed) and could only change for Plated because Blue Apron said the order had already been processed.

Step 2: Delivery

Deliveries arrived intact. One of the boys did want us to notate that Blue Apron had a fancier box with a close-able lid. Also, if you choose to order two subscriptions at once do not have food in your fridge if you live in an apartment, because you need to learn from our mistakes.

Step 3: Unboxing

Plated

3 Recipes – 2 Servings – $72 per week
$24 per day
$12 per person/serving

Long Life Noodles with Mushrooms and Soy-Sesame Sauce
Vegetarian


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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Korean Beef Tacos with Bell Peppers, Gochujang, and Kimchi

img_2622All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Seared Steak with Sunchoke Hash and Red Pepper Aioli

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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Blue Apron

3 Recipes – 2 Serving – $59.94 per week
$19.98 per day
$9.99 per person/serving

Carmelized Onion & Kale Quiches with Frisee & Pear Salad
Vegetarian

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All ingredients arrived intact and packaged.

Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets and Cone Cabbage Slaw

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Cone Cabbage did not come wrapped, but rather just placed in box unprotected.

Pan Seared Chicken with Roasted Honeynut Squash and Apple

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Apple was clearly bruised, and squash was unprotected as well, and left at bottom of box so one whole side rested on the ice packs causing freezer burn on one side of the squash.

Step 4: Quality of Ingredients/Packaging

I would really like to know where Blue Apron finds such miniature vegetables and fruits? Seriously, they are adorable and somewhat strange all at the same time. Due to a few of our items arriving bruised, freezer burned or just rolling around in the box quality and packaging has to go to Plated.
The one thing I felt was missing from both boxes was acknowledgment of local or used vendors. Both boxes stated grain free meats, no antibiotics, and then a few items used (honey, for example) had brand packaging but no mention of the brand nor of the farm the meat products came from. I feel both boxes are really missing a strategic move here. I like to know where my food comes from, and even more so if it is miniature sized.

Step 5: Cooking

Plated

Long Life Noodles with Mushrooms and Soy-Sesame Sauce

Plated instructions are very simple to follow and they go in order and do not try to have the cook multitasking too many tasks at one given time. This recipe did say to salt and pepper the mushrooms/leeks while they were cooking but later in the recipe we would be adding quite a bit of soy sauce so I opted out of S&P, but a person that does not cook may not know that. I feared the food would be far too salty upon adding the soy sauce in entirety as instructed. Plated tends to stay in the world of comfort food but with a twist of ingredients not often used by common cooks. I rarely use leeks or wild mushrooms and I cook A LOT.

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Easy to make? Yes
Worth $12 a plate? Yes

Korean Beef Tacos with Bell Peppers, Gochujang, and Kimchi

Recipe was extremely easy to follow. I believe this by far was everyone’s favorite meal of the night. Can you really beat tacos? Really? Once again, a comfort and classic but with a twist. I am not afraid to admit that no one in the household had ever had Gochujang (almost a sweeter sriracha) and it was absolutely amazing. The bell pepper and onion are marinated in this mixture but then mixed in with cooked ground beef so the sauce is dispersed throughout the meal. Every single thing was on point with this meal, AND 3 tacos per person is more than enough. We had 4 people try one taco each and still had plenty of filler mixture left as well as Kimchi.

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Easy to make? Yes
Worth $12 a plate? Yes, absolutely 1000 times yes

Seared Steak with Sunchoke Hash and Red Pepper Aioli

This meal was cooked by Bradley(Rayann’s husband), and there were no “during” pictures as we took video of the men attempting to cook. Bradley was unfamiliar with the ingredient sunchoke and felt kale is the worst food on the planet, but overall he did fairly well. The aioli frustrated him the most as the instructions did state “whisk till smooth” but the task would have been impossible without a blender or food processor (which the instructions also state you may use). The steak was incredible and very high quality. We are hoping to have the video live shortly after this review…..it is far more interesting than this post.

IMG_2808.jpgI was instructed to notate that Bradley was unaware aesthetics of plating were important.

Easy to make? Medium
Worth $12 a plate? For the steak alone, yes

Blue Apron

Carmelized Onion & Kale Quiches with Frisee & Pear Salad

Let me just say that these quiches were good, BUT they are quiches. This was the meal I was most disappointed in. Reason one is because it is quiche. Quiche is quite possibly one of the easiest dishes to make AND master all in the same day so immediately upon opening I was bored. Reason two you only receive two eggs, and yes that means one egg per person. I added an extra egg to one quiche and left the other with the solo egg that belonged to it (pictures below of the difference). I do not feel this would fill someone up even with the little micro nutrient salad to accompany it, and it is QUICHE. I have seen a million recipes just like this one all of Pinterest.

Quiche using only one egg as instructed.

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My quiche using two eggs. I am not bitter. I promise.

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They both puffed up fairly well for the end result but I think we can tell who is 1 egg and who is 2.

Easy to make? Child’s play
Worth $9.99 a plate? Considering I can buy 2 dozens local eggs for that price, no.

Spiced Pork Burgers with Pickled Beets and Cone Cabbage Slaw

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These burgers were unique and have convinced me that switching out a pickle for a beet on occasion would not be the worst. The box came with a little baggy filled with spices for the pork. Pork needs lots of seasoning, and salt, and this little baggy did not do the trick. The flavor was just lacking. Due to the fact that we were not told where the pork was supplied from we cooked it to well, and not medium as the 4-5 per side time allotted. We put the side coleslaw on the burgers because they needed some crunch and sauce, the mayo, mustard and goat cheese blend for spread was not enough for two burgers. Overall these were tasty. Did they knock me on my feet? No, but I’d let them take me out again if they paid for dinner.

Easy to make? Definitely
Worth $9.99 a plate? Yes

Pan Seared Chicken with Roasted Honeynut Squash and Apple

This was the meal Kyle cooked on his own (my husband). He feels the meal was tasty and the instructions were easy to follow. The apple became mushy (possibly as it was bruised) but he is not the biggest fan of fruit with savory items so he may be biased or rude. This meal was outside the box for our household as we do not eat a lot of squash or baked apples.I enjoyed that sage was used since I generally only use it with whole roasted chickens, and never thought to incorporate into sauce. Overall it was challenging enough for Kyle to keep us all entertained but delivered a delicious meal for even the culinary lacking as Blue Apron promised. This is a meal I would make again for a dinner party. It is an impressive meal without all the blood sweat and tears.

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Easy to make? Medium
Worth $9.99 a plate? Yes

Final Thoughts

Will we be ordering again? I think both subscriptions would be amazing for hosting a dinner party (both boxes have options for servings up to 6). For ourselves? We would order Plated again, and it may surprise some as it is the more expensive subscription but it really nailed the comfort food/slightly different aspect. We all enjoyed the familiar dishes but with unique ingredients, and all had a new ingredient we had not previously thought to use. The leeks in the noodles, Gochujang with tacos, and sunchokes with the amazing steak all ingredients that made all 4 of us change our mindset. Blue Apron is the less expensive subscription and they do now have the ability to add bottles of wine to your order, and you know I am all over that. Blue Apron just had a small step down in the category of creativity compared to Plated. Personally I would also order Plated as strictly vegetarian on my second order as I think they would deliver on some really unique and delicious recipes (I am not bitter about the quiche). I read an article the other day about how Blue Apron can reduce someone’s grocery bill, and I am not sure I can agree with that. Kyle and I eat quality meat and vegetables, and spend an average of $100 a week on groceries, but if I used Blue Apron $59.94 I would only have $40 left to provide breakfast, lunches, and 4 additional meals.I do think getting a box for a fun dinner party OR a holiday would in fact be cheaper than buying all necessities individually from the grocery store. Maybe that can be yet another challenge? Rayann and I plan to continue the Battle of the Boxes series with other subscription meal boxes (Hello Fresh, Martha Stewart, the list goes on and on).

I encourage you to try both subscriptions if you have been on the fence. Blue Apron and Plated delivered on unique and tasty dishes for a fair price (you get a discount for your first month from both boxes). Cook the meals with a friend or your spouse as it can definitely be an amusing activity. Overall, it would be a fun week filled with food and eating outside the box. Get it?

Sunday Stretchy Pants for a Taco Trifecta

People tend to assume that because I am small I cannot eat a lot of food.

People are wrong. I am capable of anything as long as I fast all day, prepare my heart for the food I am about to demolish by drinking an abundance of caffeine, and wearing stretchy pants. I can achieve anything with caffeine and stretchy pants. The world is at my fingertips.

Taco Trifecta was born after neither me or Mikey could decide on what kind of tacos to cook together during our collaboration, and so the only logical answer was to make all three options. Chicken. Shredded Beef. Fish.

Tacos are an important staple in our family. We used to have a taco party every few months…yes a taco party for no good reason other than everyone loves tacos THAT much. So, why you may not think tacos are very interesting or deserve my longest post to date – think again because there are some sauces, ingredients, and tomatoes in here that you cannot live without.

All recipes below were created by my uncle – referred to as Mikey, 2nd dad, uncle, and architect. 
Pictures were a combination of Mikaela(the pretty ones), Mikey, and myself(the ugly ones).

We are so precious.

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Collaborations are so exciting for me. I enjoy seeing other people in their work space, I like knowing other cooks thoughts and ideas. We will begin this post with all recipes for the food and then at the end some reviews, insights, and comments. The entire experience with all 3 taco recipes will be posted to this blog article, but at a later date I will create individual posts for each taco so that they are easier to locate, scroll through, and make on a whim. For now …..read. PS I read somewhere that if you want to keep followers engaged on your blog you should keep posts under 500 words…..bye followers!!!

Pulled Chipotle Beef

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 1/2 pounds beef (I used a boneless chuck roast)
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • 1 can of beef broth
  • 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced fine until it resembles a paste (if you want extra flavor/heat, add an extra pepper)
  • 1 med. white onion, sliced.
  • 5 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 fresh jalapeño pepper, sliced

 

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DIRECTIONS:

Stir together the chili powder, cumin, and smoked paprika in a small bowl. Rub the spice mix into the beef, covering each side.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large stainless skillet over medium-high heat. Place the beef in the skillet and sear on each side until browned, about 2 minutes per side. Remove the beef from the skillet and place in the bottom of a slow cooker.

Add the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, sliced jalapeño and sliced onion to the skillet.  Saute for 3 minutes, or so, until onions start to soften. Add the chopped garlic and continue saute for about a minute. Add the beef broth and stir the pan to deglaze it, scraping up any good stuff from the bottom of the pan. Add tomato paste and minced chipotle, and whisk into the pan sauce until combined. Bring the sauce to a low boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 3-5 minutes until the sauce has slightly thickened. Pour the pan sauce over the beef in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours until the beef shreds easily. (Truth be told, about halfway through I flip the beef over to keep things even, at least in my mind!)

Shred the beef with two forks, and toss to coat with any of the remaining juices. I also spoon some of the juices from the slow cooker over the beef for extra flavor!

Taco Sauce – made from beef juices – you absolutely have to make this I am deeming it crucial to the ENTIRE process

Immersion blender in the the slow cooker liquid, transferred that to a saucepan, added about 1 Tbsp. Of white wine vinegar and 1 Tbsp. simple syrup. I reduced that over medium heat for just a few minutes and whambo!

THE TACO

You can really choose to dress these tacos however you wish, but we did fried flour tortillas….which are mine and my aunt’s absolute favorite. We can eat them for dessert. Beef. Cheese. Lettuce. GRILLED Tomatoes (these are getting an article all on their own), sour cream, and the reduced beef sauce.

Please do not be offended by our high class plates….we enjoy being classy.

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NEXT!

Chipotle Chicken Tacos

Grilled Chicken is always more of a personal preference but we stayed with the chipotle theme.

INGREDIENTS:

  • Chicken
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Avocado Oil
  • Lime
  • Chipotle Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder

Let chicken marinate for at least 30 minutes, and then cook all the way on the grill!

THE TACO

Chicken was perfectly cooked, because there is almost nothing worse than overcooked chicken. Corn tortilla, cheese, lettuce, grilled tomatoes because I am addicted, sour cream, and avocado. OH! I also put the beef sauce on everything! Obsessssed.

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NEXT!

I will tell you that at this point we all were stuffed..but no one wanted to be a loser and back out. So we continue to eat. German/Americans.

Here is Kyle giving up at life.

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Mahi Mahi Tacos

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INGREDIENTS:

  • Mahi Mahi
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Avocado Oil
  • Chipotle Seasoning
  • Garlic Powder

Grill fish until completely cooked and then serve. The secret to fish tacos is the sauce…..a sauce so good it needs to be put on everything. Everything. Fries, tacos, potatoes, sandwiches, socks, salads, EVERYTHING.

We are going to refer to Mikey as the architect from now on because he is excellent at creating amazing recipes with solid foundations. Foundations that I then go in and destroy…but sometimes corn dip comes out of the destruction. Does this make me Godzilla?

Here is the sauce recipe…verbatim of what was sent to me, and like all good recipes you will need to taste as you make this for personal preference.

Chipotle Sauce 

  • 2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, seeded and then minced into something resembling a paste
  • 1 1/2 cup mayonaise – real mayonaise, people
  • 3 Tablespoons white sugar (this is where tasting becomes crucial)
  • Fresh squeezed juice of 1 lime
  • Taste and Tweak

So simple and yet life changing.

THE TACO

White corn tortilla, fresh cabbage, grilled tomatoes (addicted), fish (duh) and chipotle sauce…..tons…….just eat that.

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Final Thoughts:
Beef cooked for over 6 hours will always trump all other proteins
Fried flour tortillas are life
Grilled tomatoes changed my life
Beef sauce is mandatory for all tacos
Chipotle sauce could be glazed over a dirty sidewalk and I’d still eat it
I need Mikaela’s camera
I rolled around on the floor in discomfort for two hours after eating all this food
Worth it

–I have been at this blogging gig for a little over 6 months and though I am quite proud of myself for maintaining WWB I am most overwhelmed with the tremendous support and interest I have received from those around me. If you are already a subscriber, have read my about me, or follow my social media accounts then it is most likely obvious I am a family oriented girl. I grew up surrounded and supported by family. I was raised with the lesson to cheer on everyone, because we all can be successful. Success takes work. Cheer for those that work. Yet, I still am humbled when people take notice in something I have created. Collabs are my jam. I like to grow(figuratively, of course being 4’11) and the easiest way to do that is by cooking, taking photos, writing, reviewing, and creating with others. Family, friends, followers, and strangers on the street are more than welcome to contribute to WWB…..it was kind of the reason I decided to create it in the first place.–