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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Guinness Irish Stew

I cannot tell you how many times I have tried to get my husband to talk with an accent. I have offered money, electronics, video games, other things slightly inappropriate and yet….I am left married to a man with a dominant Irish background but no accent. He won’t even throw bottles of whiskey at walls when he is angry. Fraud.

Kyle was born on January 20th – this year his birthday is cursed….I will say no more.

Kyle is also not a fan of Guinness. Impostor.

This Friday last we had an Irish themed day of food. Our morning consisted of potato pancakes with runny eggs. Shots of Jameson and orange juice. Then, the grand finale – Irish Lamb Stew.

Lamb is as common in Europe as ground beef is in America, and lamb is far better for you in most cases. I had only eaten lamb once before (lamb chops) and was not impressed, but the entire day was about tradition and so I ordered lamb shoulder chops from our local butcher. I usually deglaze a pan that browned meat for stew with a red wine, but in place I substituted Guinness. I won’t lie – this was genius. Get it? Guinness is dark, nutty, chocolate and strong – you either love it or hate it. I am a fan and it really added layers and layers of depth to this stew. The beer is not optional it is mandatory….seriously. Just buy a case. I personally think the lamb is a necessity as well, but I don’t know how many people I could convince to give up their precious cow.

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Ingredients

2 1/2lb Lamb shoulder chops
1 Bottle of Guinness
1 Yellow onion roughly chopped
6 Large carrots roughly chopped
3 Gloves of garlic minced
6 Stalks of celery roughly chopped
6 Yukon gold potatoes cut into quarters
6 Cups of good quality beef stock
4 Tablespoons Kerrygold butter

Get down to Business

Get out a cast iron skillet, if you do not own one go out and buy one, and thank me later. On high heat melt your butter and place the chops in the skillet. You want a nice browning to occur on your chops.
While your chunks of meat are browning roughly chop your vegetables and throw them in either a Crockpot or a large soup pan. Pour the stock over all the veggies and place on low-medium heat.
Once you have a nice caramel color on your lamb pieces throw them in the soup pan. Now, with little pieces of lamb like this some might argue it is not necessary to brown your meat beforehand as they are going to simmer away in juices for hours. I don’t brown my meat before hand to seal in moisture -I do not believe in that. I do believe it adds a layer of color and makes for not only a better looking finished product but browning adds a layer of texture as well. So, I brown, and with browning comes deglazing.
Deglazing is a process in which liquid is used to get all the sediments left on the bottom of the pan incorporated into a sauce or gravy. Flavor overload is at the bottom of your pan and you never want to waste that. I used half a bottle of Guinness to deglaze, and drank the rest. Add a few more pats of butter, simmer for a few minutes and add to your soup pan. Done.

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My stew stewed away for about 6 hours. I salt and pepper when I am ready to serve as in the beginning stages every ingredient is just starting to break down, and so I prefer to wait. You do you.

This was a dish that was so easy it is hard to believe it developed such complex flavors. Easy St. Patty’s day dinner, rainy day, or how to use that bottle or two of Guinness in your house.

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?

Rayann’s Carrot Cake

“What 12-year-old girl wants carrot cake for her birthday?” – Krystal
Prepare yourself (and your taste buds) for something completely out of character for this blog: cupcakes.
Yes, cupcakes. You read that right. BAKED GOODS.
Now, while Krystal is an amazing chef who is talented in all things culinary, she will not step within ten feet of a cake pan… which means you are stuck with me!
Fun fact about me – baking is in my blood. I learned nearly all there is to know about baking from my grandmother. She’s a pro. Just look at the cake she made for my wedding a few weeks ago:

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Wedding Cake

PERFECTION.

But I digress.
When I was in high school I started baking birthday cakes for my friends – it was simply a nice gesture that soon became regular requests from both friends and family alike. So it didn’t take me by surprise when my 12-year-old niece asked me to bake a cake for her birthday. What DID surprise me was the flavor. Carrot cake?
In my niece’s defense, this request is not entirely random. Other members of my family have asked for carrot cake for their birthdays which has given me the chance to perfect the recipe: a delicious treat that still yields a slightly higher nutritional value than your average carrot cake. Now these were adults we’re speaking of, not kids, so I’ll take it as a true compliment that a 12-year-old girl would ask for it specifically!
The secret to this recipe is how the cake is sweetened – applesauce and honey. These both complement the taste of the carrots without overpowering it entirely. The cream cheese frosting gives you just the right amount of sweetness to make it decadent, yet guilt-free.
I decided to go out of my comfort zone and make cupcakes for the birthday girl, but below you’ll find directions for both cupcakes and a traditional cake.

Rayann’s Carrot Cake
(Yields 24 cupcakes OR one 9” round, two layered cake)
INGREDIENTS
For the cake:
– 3 cups carrots, peeled and grated
– 2 cups all-purpose flour
– 1 tsp baking soda
– 1 ½ tsp baking powder
– ½ tsp salt
– 2 tsp cinnamon
– 4 eggs
– 1 cup organic honey
– ½ cup extra virgin olive oil (I used California Olive Ranch)
– 2 tsp vanilla extract
– 1 cup applesauce (I used Santa Cruz Organic)
For the frosting:
– 2 cups powdered sugar
– 16 oz cream cheese (I used Philadelphia Whipped)
– 2 sticks unsalted butter (I used Tillamook)
– 1 tbsp vanilla extract

I know many people like walnuts on their carrot cake. Personally, I’m not a fan of using nuts as a garnish on cake, but if you’d like to, you can also use ½ cup of coarsely chopped, lightly toasted walnuts to decorate.

INSTRUCTIONS
How to make the carrot cake:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour your cake pans
a. For cupcakes, use two cupcake pans.
b. For standard cake, use two 9” round pans.
* I chose to use cupcake liners in place of greasing the pans.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Set aside.
3. In a large bowl, beat eggs on high for one (1) minute. Add in honey and beat on high for another three (3) minutes. Blend in olive oil, applesauce and 2 tsp vanilla extract.
4. Slowly add in flour mixture (½ cup at a time) and mix into a smooth batter.
5. Fold grated carrots into the batter (and walnuts, if you so choose).
6. Divide the batter equally within the cake pans and place in oven.
a. For cupcakes, bake for 15-20 minutes.
b. For standard cake, bake for 25-30 minutes.
*Use this time to make your frosting – make sure to refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.
7. When ready, remove cakes from oven (a toothpick inserted in the center should come out clean). Remove from pans when cool enough to handle, and then let cakes cool to room temperature before frosting to keep frosting from melting.

How to make the frosting:
1. Use a food processor to mix together the butter and powdered sugar until the mixture takes on a pale, fluffy appearance.
2. Add in cream cheese (1 cup at a time) and mix until combined. Continue to mix for one (1) more minute.
3. Add in 1 tbsp vanilla extract, and then mix for one (1) minute. Refrigerate frosting until ready to use.

I will leave the frosting of your cakes up to you, get creative and make it your own! Just be sure to be mindful of the frosting – it is perishable and thus needs refrigeration if it’s not going to be eaten right away.

 

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Co-pays Paid with Time

It is a funny thing what just a few short days can do for your well being. 60 days ago I was a wreck. Emotionally and physically. Life just took hold of me and decided to throw me around a little bit. I say a little bit, because I’ve been through worse, but the difference between this experience and ones in the past is that I learned a few things during this particular ride. In the past I went along with the nightmare, got out of bed, stumbled in pain, went to appointments, took my meds, and eventually got myself physically back on track. I was numb emotionally, though. I wouldn’t try to break things into little pieces and exam them, I never allowed myself to be upset with my circumstances because that just felt selfish and needy. I know now that being selfish and needy is perfectly fine on occasion.

I know my life had shifted when I went to my 6 month appointment with my Rheumatologist yesterday. I see the best Rheumatologist on the West Coast. People travel from all over to see him, different cities, towns, and even states. I have been under his care for over 10 years now and he is the first doctor that truly lets me decide my own fate. He is very well aware that I am addicted to steroids, and is constantly reminding me of their adverse effects when I need to up them. I am in control of my meds, and he is really just there to supervise and advise. During my allergic reaction nightmare an ER doctor increased my daily 5mg of Prednisone to 40mg, and as I stated in that article….I was in Heaven. My body works on steroids. I can move like a normal human being, I can outlast the best of people without the need for caffeine pumping through my system 24 hours a day. Prednisone slowly kills me though, my vision goes blurry, I get the face of a puffer fish, and I just know internally my insides are decaying. So, I am back down to my maintenance dose of 5mg back to aches and pains everyday. There is this fun balancing act with autoimmune, and the rules are always changing and the outcome is never the same. It really isn’t a balance at all, but rather roulette.You either win or you lose. I often win, but when I lose I lose it all.

Seeing the best has its dues and not just in the form of co-pays, but in payment of time. When I was a girl and reliant on my parents to bring me to my appointments we always had to pay an additional amount in time. Hours. I remember sitting in the outdated waiting room agitated and just wanting to go home. I would run out of magazines to read and the TV only played PBS (still does). My mother would be irate for having to wait so long, and my father remained calm until we left and then it was a continuous rant all the way home about how an office could be managed in such an unprofessional manner, etc. Everyone in the car ride home including myself seemed to have amnesia about my actual visit with the doctor. I got all the time I needed, all questions were answered, all aspects of my disease were explained to my parents (for the 10th time), but most of all we were never rushed by the doctor himself. It is in our nature for the good to immediately dissolve the minute any negative is associated with it. We did that, time and time again.

I sat in that outdated waiting room for probably the 50th time in my life on Saturday. I watched a show about a British vet, I don’t sit in the 50 year old chairs because the cushions have worn down and I can’t seem to ever get out of them. I read the walls cluttered with pictures of charity events my doctor has contributed to, and for a slight second I thought to myself “I am going to be here forever today and be bored out of my mind”. You see, in my adult years I have learned to take the earliest appointment on Saturday(says something about a doctor that works Saturdays) usually 6am, and then I am the first patient and I don’t have to wait. I see him for roughly 30 minutes, leave with my prescriptions and do not return for another 6 months, but this Saturday all that was available was 7:30 meaning my doctor would already be at least an hour behind. As the thought of my own boredom creeped into my mind I became angry with myself. Angry because 60 days ago I was the patient needing the hour long appointment when I was only scheduled for 20. I did sit in that office filled with anxiety and fear about a disease and medication I had been dealing with for years that suddenly seemed to change its attack method. I had all the time in the world with the man whose care I have been under for 10 years. I was not rushed, I wasn’t even sick, and I was not made to feel guilty for eating into 3 other people’s appointments. So, Saturday I waited an hour over my scheduled appointment time to see my doctor for 20 minutes. I am no longer the sickest person in the room. In fact I usually am the freak show of the waiting room, I am under 100 years old, I don’t look sick, and so to everyone else in the room me seeing a Rheumatologist is just absurd.I sit in a room filled with bitter old folks who bitch about their appointment not being on time and I just want to scream at them, because once they get back there they always take up an hour of the doctor’s time. We get to choose the way we react about the situations we are put in. I typically check in, ask how far behind the doctor is, and then offer to get Starbucks for the receptionist and I don’t come back until she calls. It really is that simple.

As I have grown older I now know that nothing comes without asking for it first. I do not feel I am more fortunate than most when it comes to my general doctor and my specialist, I feel I have an amazing relationship with both because I opened my mouth and asked for it. Doctors and surgeons do not have time to hold anyone’s hand….especially those that are not truly ready to be well. I used to go to my quarterly appointment with my specialist, answer the questions, get my meds, and leave – 20 minutes max for a 2 hour wait time. In my most recent years those I speak my mind. I ask for the things I want, I challenge his opinions for him to give me a better answer, and I 100% am honest with the outcome I hope to accomplish. I know a lot of people with chronic illness that walk around this life filled with complaints. Complaints about their health, their doctors, and their meds. All situations are different of course, but I can guarantee 90% of these people are just not asking for what they really want, and not giving up until they receive it. You aren’t always going to have the best doctor, hell I won’t in a few years, my Rheumatologist is somewhere near 100 years old, and I’ll never find someone like him again but I can damn well make sure the next one hears me just as clearly as this one. I have found a voice. When you have a chronic illness having a voice is the most important aspect. No one hears you when you are silent. No one hears you when you have already given up the fight.

I wrote this mainly because I enjoy that I have become more self aware. More aware that not all situations deserve a reaction, and that our reactions are 100% reliant on us alone. The last few months I have been surrounding myself with much more positively from the outlook I have to the friends I keep. No matter how much pain, defeats, or obstacles life gives you the reaction you give life back is 100% the way life will continue to treat you.

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.–

 

Mikey’s Killer Cream of Corn

This will kill you.

They say a family that cooks together stays together, but I personally think that when people cook together one of them ends up murdered. Most home cooks do not like anyone in their kitchen while they are at work. I remember my dad screaming from the kitchen “why are you in my kitchen?” and I was generally the only exception. People love to gravitate towards the food because we are grazing beings. We love to snack, but a chef hates you snacking in their space. My dad would jokingly slap my brother’s hands as they tried to sneak samples of dinner and say “you are ruining my presentation!” Yes, this is how I grew up, and now how I cook myself. No one is allowed in my personal little cooking bubble.

My uncle sent his genius recipe via email, but this last Sunday we did cook together and I am happy to report everyone involved is alive and well!

I made this, put it in a glass container for dinner the next night, but proceeded to eat the WHOLE thing standing at the counter. I am going to die. Send help.

UPDATE: I wrote this particular piece about a week before Taco Trifecta (still pending release) and I used the foundation of this recipe to create a Mexican Corn Dip. Holy Jesus. Recipe will be below the original, and please for the love of butter make BOTH.

Do not send me or Mikey your hospital bills.

 

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Creamed Corn

4 ears of corn
Butter
Milk (I used heavy cream)
Garlic Powder
Onion Powder
Parmesan Cheese
Cream Cheese
Jalapeno

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Original Recipe is as follows: The original corn on the cob was wrapped in foil with unsalted butter, smoked salt, fresh ground pepper, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and onion powder. Heated that thru on the grill…
The next day, I took 3 ears of the leftover corn and cut the corn off the cob. In a saucepan I heated 1/4 cup cream cheese, 1/4 cup milk, 2 tbsp unsalted butter, and more ground pepper until melted, and then added corn to heat through.

I made mine fresh as I did not have leftover corn, and the only difference I made was heavy cream instead of milk and an addition of 1/4 barbecued Jalapeno.

Ya’ll will need Jesus for this.

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I was able to pair this with my Black Bean Meatloaf and Cauliflower Mash before devouring it, so that is the picture below.

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MEXICAN HOLY GRAIL CORN DIP:

5 ears of corn
2 Tablespoons Butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
Garlic Powder to taste
Onion Powder to taste
Cream Cheese 8oz
1/2 Grilled Jalapeno
1 Cup Salsa Verde
1 Cup Sour Cream
2 cups Pepper Jack Cheese
2 Fresh Limes
Cilantro and Green Onion for topping

Let all your wet ingredients melt in a saucepan, add your cheese and corn. Let everything get gooey and delicious. Based on personal preference you may need more heavy cream/sour cream. I made this early in the morning and had to reheat later that afternoon for the festivities and this dish reheats beautifully.

This dip is the perfect mix of fresh with the in season corn that has a crisp bite, spicy, and gooey. What more could someone want in a dip? I always know a recipe is a winner when all individuals in the household are hovered over a tiny glass bowl fighting to the death for the next scoop. This was a winner, folks. At one point we had to put the lid on and lock it in the garage…..well not the garage….I screamed at Kyle for one last bite before he locked it away, and Mikey was truly insulted when Kyle(again, no manners) tried to leave the house without leaving him any for the next day.

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Original Cream of Corn Recipe created by: Mikey
Photos here and there Mikaela Immenschuh Photography