Pre-Happy New Year! It’s the end of 2017, and before we hop on a plane to begin our foodie adventures in Europe (follow me on Instagram for frequent moments of food envy), I wanted to share my last DFW restaurant meal of 2017 — Beto and Son at Trinity Groves — you’ll want to check this out. Continue reading “Beto and Son at Trinity Groves”
So, I’m late to the game — Meso Maya has been around for a while now. I’ve driven past and even called to ask a few questions about the menu. And, honestly, based on its early reviews and the lackluster love received over the years, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to try it. That was until it inched its way across the loop and into my neck of the woods. Meso Maya had planted its huarache where I could no longer ignore the smells of handmade corn tortillas and mesquite grilled meats. Continue reading “Meso Maya”
I’ve been on blogger vacation (aka too dang busy to post to the blog).
Recently, I picked up a project that has been fantastically challenging, incredibly fulfilling, and friggin’ back-breaking.
I love it.
However, making #betterchoices has been a bit of a challenge — both food and life choices.
I’m happy to report I have not gone completely off track with the food. No weight gained — two more lost. (But, that may or may not have been due to my living off coffee and Cheez-It crackers for at least a few days out of the three weeks.) No major disasters though.
Life choices have also been tough.
Calculating time. Figuring out how to balance — especially in the midst of unexpected events. Grandma Ollie happened to have a hospital stay — all is well now. Our place had some issues. Bear’s schedule has also been nuts. Life has just been a little trying.
And, today, I got a huge dose of “ah-ha” by way of my nephew.
At noon, my brother called to invite me to eat lunch with the family. I was ear deep in work. (I’d live-streamed church earlier. Okay? THAT kind of caught up in work.) Completely misaligned and already in a “gotta get it done” rhythm.
At first, I was kind of irritated because I’d already communicated how busy I would be today. Then, he offered to bring me food. I hesitantly agreed — until he decided he and my nephew would pick up food and come eat with me.
I had two laptops up, papers blanketing the tables — not possible. I already knew I was leaving later to visit Grandma. Ain’t nobody got time for this! (I know. I’m a horrible person — I promise it gets better.) So, with one of my oldie-but-goodie classic teenager-y sighs, I huffed out a, “Fine. I’ll hurry up and get ready and meet you there. But, I have to hurry back!”
Rushed a shower. Slicked the hair back in a bun. Cat screaming at me to hurry up (even she knew I had a poor attitude). Finally, I get in the car and head over to Rock Fish in Plano.
In I walk. And, I’m greeted with a giant, Kermit the Frog-like, frantically happy wave from the back of the restaurant.
It’s my nephew.
He stands up, gives me a big squeeze, pulls out my chair, and immediately begins to fill me in.
He’s ordered my tea. He’s going to have catfish. Do I need any sweetener? His daddy (my brother) is drinking Dr. Pepper. And, French fries and applesauce will be eaten today.
Immediately, my hard candy shell begins to crack. He’s going full-speed, and like or not, I just have to catch up!
We have an awesome meal — Ahi Tower — perfect. Service spectacular.
And, then my brother, knowing I was on my way to see Grandma, tells my nephew he should go with me to see his Neny (the name my nephew calls Grandma Ollie).
Immediately, the tides change.
“Why!? I thought we were going to go to the comic book store first!?”
Knowing this kid and how much he loves his Neny and spending time with her, I said, “Hey? What’s going on here? What’s more important? People or things?”
After a few patient rounds, we got to a place where we were talking about finding balance and the importance of spending time with the people we love. My nephew is autistic but high-functioning, and his heart is so full of love and joy. All I had to do was find the right analogy of “always going to be there” comic books versus “not always going to be around” family and friends.
I told him that I also had made a choice that day.
He was more important than the work that had to be done that day. That’s why I’d stopped what I was doing to have lunch with him (which was immediately countered by a lecture about being responsible for doing my work so that I don’t lose my job and he doesn’t have to worry about me). But, he got the picture. And, in that moment, I realized I was actually speaking to myself. I needed a reminder.
Life is important. We only get one shot, and what we do with it matters.
The two hours spent eating, laughing, and visiting Grandma Ollie with my nephew by my side was necessary. It was like feeding my soul — my well-being — my life. Nourishment.
Then, it got me thinking about the earlier online service. “Talent needs a team to be terrific.” In other words, you need a team in your life to live it fully (your faith, your family, your friends, your hobbies, your passion, your purpose — balance in all things — a team to give you balance). Living fully is a culmination of many things, including connection, gratitude, forgiveness, knowledge, appreciation of other perspectives, worldly vision — that balance of all things is what gives importance to life.
And, I needed a reality check on that front. My nephew rocks.
I’m home now. Just got back and ready to dig back in with work with a fresh view. But first, I needed to share this with you.
I needed to share it because you are also important in my life.
I started this blog because of my love of food and my love of writing. And, you’ve been along for the ride the entire time! So, please forgive me for my absence. I promise I’ll have something more to say next week.
Have an awesome week, and make better choices — balanced choices. It’ll be on my radar for sure.
LET’S KEEP IT REAL: First and foremost, I do everything for the love of food. Most of what I write about is because I love it! If I don’t love it, I tell you about that, too. From time to time, I may receive monetary or product compensation for mentioning products, offering recommendations, providing endorsements, or including links to products or services when I blog. While that may be the case for some posts, it is not the case for all. When it’s sponsored, you’ll see #sponsored when I post. When I’m just sharing the love, I won’t use that particular tag or hashtag. What you need to know is that I only give shout outs when I actually use the product or love it so much it deserves a shout out, sponsored or not.
So, this is awkward.
Okay, I know! It’s been forever! And, I won’t make any excuses because I cooked plenty of times; I ate plenty of times, took plenty of pics, and I neglected to tell you any of it since September 2015. So, here’s a quick catch up… since last we spoke:
So, this is awkward.
Okay, I know! It’s been forever! And, I won’t make any excuses because I cooked plenty of times; I ate plenty of times, took plenty of pics, and I neglected to tell you any of it since September 2015. So, here’s a quick catch up… since last we spoke:
I made a killer Pesto Chicken Bake in my handy-dandy toaster oven, using the last four sticks of mozzarella left in the fridge, a few remaining Roma Tomatoes, three skinless chicken breasts I reluctantly purchased in an effort to “be better,” and tons of garlic and basil that were in their last days of glory. I felt like I was on “Chopped” but instead of a basket, it was a molcajete full of garlic cloves next to items on my counter.
I discovered Emporium Pies in McKinney, TX, and if I remember correctly, this one was a banana cream/caramel concoction – I really can’t remember for sure. It’s all a blur. I just remember taking this picture and waking from a sugar/happiness pie-eating induced coma on the couch – smiling and with a little bit of pie crust stuck to some whipped cream on my cheek.
I hung out with my Grandma Ollie and made her some rustic braised chicken thighs with pan-roasted herbed potatoes. Easiest, no-frills deliciousness ever! She loved it. Basic but bomb-tastic and totally what I would also serve to Jon Snow if he ever came over to visit – and if wanted to bring over Melisandre as a thank you for the whole “bring me back from the dead” thing, that would be cool, too. Bear would love to chat her up, and maybe she could even whip up some magical dessert???
At some point I went on a rustic/fire-roasted kick. We went camping in the mountains, and I pulled a Chef Mallmann move. I threw
potatoes into the burning embers of our campfire, and it was amazing. We ate “fire food” for days in the woods… right outside of our air-conditioned cabin that included cable TV. It was awesome.
Upon returning from the wilderness, I needed a taste of home, and so I indulged (using the term loosely here – I eat it all the time) in one of my favorite weekend comfort foods, menudo. Tipico’s in Dallas or off Beltline in Carrollton, TX has the BEST! And, what makes menudo taste even better??? Horchataaaaaaa! Just say it with me… “Horchataaaaaa!” Doesn’t it make you happy just saying it??? Horchataaaaaaa!
I pretended I was mining for rubies and that I hit the motherload. So, I took a picture and then decided to eat the pomegranate because who was I kidding? I was hungry. There were no rubies. This pomegranate was the object of my desire, and I delighted it in, okay??? It was delicious.
I decided I should really start paying attention to my food allergies and that I should try not to drink milk straight-up anymore. So, I began a love/hate relationship with almond milk. I searched for “how not to hate using almond milk for pancakes,” and this recipe popped up. It was UH-mazing! I love these pancakes and have added all sorts of twists and turns to these bad boys. I make banana nut, blueberry, lemony, and bacon-filled pancakes using that recipe as a base, and it’s fantastic! Go almond milk! And, yes, I use Silk, but they didn’t pay me for that. Silk! Are you listening??!!!??
I made all sorts of stuff and played various versions of refrigerator “Chopped” like “I’m hangry and want something sweet – what goes with frozen almond slivers and a slightly browning apple?” I have to say, I’m pretty good at this game.
I had some huge wins in the kitchen, and I had some serious failures, like when I decided to try almond milk when making Brazilian Pan de Queijo instead of real milk – yeah, no bueno. Or, “no boa” as it were.
I got in touch with my inner cat-lady.
I made new friends with random animals waiting for their people on cool evenings, a.k.a. prepared to dial the cops if the dude with the dog in the car didn’t return very quickly, even though it was 60 degrees outside. He did, and the dog was definitely very happy and healthy.
I wondered about the various types of fabrics that could have possibly been used to hold this mariachi in place while he beautifully belted out such high notes.
And, I visited several new spots in DFW, as well as Phoenix, Chicago, Kansas, Atlanta, Oklahoma, and a few other places during my business travels. And, many of those visits will find their way here!
So, there you have it! We’re all caught up!
Consider this my official re-entry into the stratosphere. We’ll chat soon… I promise! Horchataaaaaa!!!!
Holy mackerel, is this place good.
Look, I will be the first to admit that I’m a sucker for anything fried, chocolatey, or bacony; so, Ida Claire already had a leg up on the “OMG! Love!” list with me, but I’m no sell-out. Just because you say you’re deep fried and delicious doesn’t mean I’m taking the bait.
Okay, so technically I had to take the bait because I needed to try it, but that didn’t mean I was gonna like it! Continue reading “Ida Claire This a Winner”
Last night, I couldn’t sleep; so, around midnight, I ventured out to one of my favorite 24/7 places in DFW, Café Brazil. This wasn’t my typical visit. I wasn’t looking so much to delve into the food and report back. This was just a good opportunity to soak up a little material and run with my thoughts.
The late night crowd painted a colorful picture as they entered the scene. I saw everything from young, energetic groups of friends meeting up for coffee to tired, older, much-better-looking-in-dim-lighting club goers. Some appeared to still be searching for the meaning of life but digging through the medicine cabinets and botox-filled syringes to find it – a very interesting collection to observe for a moment in time.
It’s funny. Comparing the two most distinctive groups, it almost seemed backwards. The younger group was a combination of happy, bright men and women who were relaxed and completely stripped down to their authentic self. They were a combination of alluring female beauties with little to zero make-up and seemingly not a care in the world, plus somewhat low-key yet attractive men who appeared completely intoxicated by the genuine behaviors of their female table mates. Both parties were entirely engaged and fearlessly diving into every word. They declared a tangible sort of freedom by laughing openly and heartily at jokes, enthusiastically sharing stories, and dynamically intertwining verbally with one another.
Whereas, the older group emoted a prison vibe, trapped in an evening they just needed to survive.
Each of the mature women repeatedly and somewhat desperately touched up their hair at the table, struggling to sit in a way that drew attention from the run-down, obviously disinterested men. They all sat in uncomfortable silence. The women’s faces were caked over with so much eyeliner and lipstick. Their postures were reminiscent of hungry puppies eagerly seeking a reward. One by one, they marched to the restroom to groom and primp, adding more shades to the color palette, drowning out the vibrant peachy hues of flesh to feature the gray, pasty spackled-on facades they relied on for attention. And, the men waited with emotionless and empty faces. I couldn’t really tell if they were miserable, just tired, or paralyzed from botulinum.
My food arrived – Chicken Crepes.
I was actually in the mood for grilled cheese but remembered how much I enjoyed their crepes filled with shredded chicken, mushrooms and spinach and that spicy cream sauce. I also convinced myself it was the healthier choice. Per the norm, the plate was generous in portion and in flavor. I wasn’t disappointed and was able to return to my people watching.
In a way, it was refreshing to see the newer generation unshackled from the conventional standards and social pressures oftentimes suffocating young women. But, perhaps that’s my own projection,recalling when my always confident, brutally honest conversations sometimes led to discussions about “toning it down” and not wanting to “chase anyone off.”
And, I guess that’s what I mean about backwards. Stereotypically, the more mature group should have been the carefree ones, knowing their truth from experience and fearlessly wearing it as a badge. While the younger group might still be finding their truth possibly muted by society’s standards at that stage in life. That wasn’t the case here. That characteristically millennial poise and conviction far outweighed the older crowd’s desire for acceptance. Maybe the older group’s desperation was their truth?
Anyway, the younger group demonstrated confidence, not once relying on a flip of their hair or even the lean forward of a shoulder to entice responsiveness from anyone. They each appeared relaxed and uninhibited.
Then in walked another uninhibited trio, freshly pressed at the local bar. Cawing above the ambient sounds of glasses clinking and tables chatting, they were engrossed in deeply philosophical and obnoxiously loud debates regarding manhood, anatomy and body art – oh, and very polite. A vulgarity-studded stance on the true meaning of friendship became so spirited that one of the girls stood up at the table to apologize to the entire establishment on behalf of the group for their animated conversation, flashing the middle finger to her partners seated next to her in order to reprimand them, only to return to the discussion at full volume seconds later.
By this time, it was close to 2am. Then came the late night science fiction crew, the salsa dancing sexpots and the failed date leftovers, each clearly marked by their appearance and behaviors.
The sci-fi crew was formulaic – adorned with black rimmed glasses and Dr. Who attire, excitedly discussing the “Greybeards of Higher Hrothgar.” The salsa sexpots, both men and women, were dressed in perfectly placed, tightly-fitted designs that were screaming from tension, and the group was too busy ogling one another at the table to see their server peeved and waiting to take their orders. The “failed dates” came in two forms: pairs of slouching men reeking of defeat and separate pairs of limping women wondering why they had suffered all night in those shoes for nothing.
Then, there was me. The jeans and t-shirt sporting female sitting at the corner table, alone with her plate and a cup of coffee, occasionally smiling to herself and carefully scanning the room from time to time, attempting to appear inconspicuous but giving herself away by typing feverishly on her laptop.
Needless to say, I had plenty to observe.
There’s really nothing better than sitting at a comfy table, eating a comfy dish, and watching people get comfy with one another. Thanks for the late night inspiration, Café Brazil.
I’m alive! It’s been too long; I know. So, here’s what gives: I have zero excuses, and I simply ate/cooked a great deal, took pictures, took videos, posted to social media and totally ignored you. I’m an honest engine – what can I say? It’s the truth. I’m also good at dusting off, moving forward and trusting you can do the same; so, let’s virtually shake hands, make up and get Mash’d!
Four words: Fried Chicken and Ribs.
I’ve known about this place for a while and thought it was about time I went in to see what all the hub-bub was about.
Mash’d features American fare with a twist, infusing a library of house-made moonshines into a variety of unique offerings across the menu. Their bar and beverage menu is killer. Every drink we ordered stealthily delivered a mighty wallop with every smooth and graceful tasty sip. They incorporate infused moonshine into just about everything, and it works. Watermelon-infused moonshine, blueberry-infused moonshine, vanilla bean house-infused moonshine – good Lord, these people have caramel moonshine for those special occasions where you need a little more sugar with your alcohol! It’s brilliant!
Their moonshine magic also works its way into their mussels and bbq sauce. Mmmmm, bbq sauce. Their Bootleg Ribs are no less than spectacular. I’ve eaten a lot of ribs. These moonshining masters know what they’re doing with these babies. They’re fall-off, lip-smacking, finger-kissing, hum-while-you’re-chewing spectacular. And, it’s not like bbq-place ribs. Totally different animal. (well, not different animal but you know what I mean) These are more like “slow-roasted, basted in moonshine bbq and finished on the grill individually” sort of amazing. The flavors are sweet and spicy, tangy and salty, smoky and rich but not smokehouse sort of ribs. And, they’re served with a fresh and crisp coleslaw and “MASH’D tators” that need a little MASH’D makeover.
Those potatoes were the ONLY thing on the menu we tasted that were sub-par in comparison to the bar the other dishes had set. The appeal was that they were named as if they were some sort of special treat, and when they reached the table, they were just plain ol’ slightly garlic and cheese enhanced potatoes plopped on by a scoop that someone at Luby’s may have lost. They were just out of place, man. Totally out of place with everything else they had going on. So, if you get any dishes with the spuds, sans the Shepherd’s Pie, sub them out with coleslaw. Believe me, you’ll be happier for it and not feel like you just saw your childhood hero pick up a $20 bill someone else dropped and put it in his own pocket. Those tators were just wrong for the brand this place has clearly worked hard to build. All it would take is a little lemon zest – just sayin’.
But, let’s move on because that little side dish incident shouldn’t deter you from enjoying every other damn thing on the menu. And, let me say that the use of the potatoes on the Shepherd’s Pie is fabulous. They slather spiced meat and veggies on a pastry crust and top it all off with Parmesan-loaded mashed potatoes, a huge punch of flavor in a creamy bite.
Another killer dish was The Chicken. They serve up hot, crispy, juicy marinated fried chicken atop a soft bun with fresh, cold coleslaw and pickles. Chick-Fa-Who? Chick-Fa-What? This sandwich is just what the doctor ordered – she may not be AMA certified, but trust me – she wants you to eat this.
Overall, a killer vibe, outstanding service and badass food that will require some serious naptime after consumption.
Today has been a pretty awesome day. A few days ago, I was notified that I was chosen as one of the top five finalists for Bravo TV’s Best New Restaurant “The Mentorship” contest. And, today, they posted my video submission to their YouTube page. On March 9th, we shall see who gets to spend the day with Chef and Restaurant Entrepreneur, Tom Colicchio. He will be mentoring one very lucky individual, and my friend Mary has advised me to “start packing my bags” because I’ve already won. I love the positive thinking, and I couldn’t agree more with having a winning vision. While I’m a huge fan of Top Chef and Best New Restaurant, this opportunity is way more than just being a fan. It’s an incredible chance to change dreams to reality, as my Bear and I have long dreamed of owning our own restaurant.
At the very same time, the DFW area has been blasted with snow, frozen pellets of ice and other cold weather phenomenons that require copious amounts of hot chocolate and warm food to be consumed. So, this morning, I got the cast iron skillet out, heated up some butter tortillas from Central Market, got some bacon in the pan, and took my already-created Borracho Beans (drunk beans) to task with a masher to make refried beans!
The combination of bacon, beans and Bravo TV’s finalist news was the absolute perfect combination to celebrate while staying nice and toasty inside. I’m also posting today because my friend, Kerrie, has been asking about this Borracho Bean recipe for months now and will hunt me down to kill me if I don’t post sometime soon. So, here we go!
1 lb dried pinto beans
1/2 medium white onion chopped
1 large tomato (or 1/2 package of cherry tomatoes will do)
3-4 uncooked bacon strips chopped
1 bottle of Mexican beer (Negro Modelo or Dos Equis preferably)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp whole black peppercorns
Salt to taste
6 quart pot (cast iron enamel preferred but not required – the pot will be roomy for the beans)
Separate then discard any broken or unappealing dry beans, as well as possible rocks or inedible pieces from the dry beans. Rinse the beans in a 6 quart pot with warm water, slush around and discard the water, leaving the beans in the pot. Add water to the pot to cover the rinsed beans, then place the pot on a stove top and boil rapidly for 45 minutes. Be sure to watch the pot and add water if it reduces too much. The beans must stay completely covered during this process.
Once the beans have boiled for 45 minutes, remove from the stove top, carefully discard the water only and gently rinse the beans again. (You can use a sieve, but I find that covering the top with the pot cover and being careful over the sink with pot holders usually does the trick.) Add the chopped onion, tomato, bacon strips, and beer to the pot, then cover the rest with warm water until the beans are completely covered with about an inch of water above bean level. Return the beans to the stove at medium heat.
In a separate skillet pan on medium heat, lightly toast the cumin seeds and black peppercorns until they become aromatic. Add the toasted cumin seeds and peppercorns to a molcajete (mortar and pestle). Roughly chop the peeled garlic cloves and add them to the molcajete. Crush the cumin seeds, peppercorns and garlic together until they become a paste. You can add a little water to make it easier once the peppercorns are broken up. Add the mixture to the beans, adding more water to the molcajete to help motivate the paste to leave the surface. Gently stir the simmering beans and leave to cook for another hour.
Towards the mid-end of the cooking process, add salt to taste. This is a controversial thing, as some say adding salt at the start makes the beans hard and others say you can’t add salt at the end because it doesn’t flavor anything. Well, I add right towards the middle of the end and it usually does the trick – happy medium. I’m positive there is a scientific reason for each method out there, but my way works. And, if it ain’t broke…
At this point, if you’d like to add salsa, jalapeños or additional seasonings like garlic powder, cumin powder or onion powder, you can. You can even add roasted green chiles which make a flavorful addition. However, I have found that simple really is best, especially if you want to make refried beans with the borracho beans. And, let them simmer but don’t boil to mush. The flavors must develop but the beans will get too soft if you keep them simmering for too long. Just keep an eye out and a spoon handy for tasting.
To make refried beans (the right way, in my opinion), fry up some bacon in a cast iron skillet. Remove the bacon, leave the drippings in the pan and add the borracho beans, liquid and all, to the pan and let out all your aggression with a potato masher, creating a creamy, textured, bacony bean to eat with tortillas. The longer they sit on the heat, the thicker the beans will become, and that’s what you want. Don’t serve the beans too runny. That’s never fun for anyone. Add bacon to the bean-smeared tortilla, and you have my very favorite breakfast celebration taquito in your hands, my friend.
Here’s to hoping there’s another celebration taquito in my future. I’ll keep you posted!
Twenty years ago, I unexpectedly encountered the best part of my past and the greatest treasure I take with me always, the friendship of five very special individuals who attended the University of North Texas with me, and this past weekend, we had our first reunion with the meeting place being the phenomenal Marquee Grill located in Highland Park, Dallas, Texas.
After the initial laughter and hugs, we immersed ourselves in the menu and prepared for a symphony of flavors conducted at the hands of Chef Tre Wilcox, alumni of Bravo’s popular television series, Top Chef, Season 3. As our glasses clinked in the inaugural toast, it was like the conductor’s baton rapping on the music stand, calling our senses to attention, in preparation for a myriad of texture, color, playfulness, essence, aroma and sheer flavorful pleasure.
I admit it.
I’ve been holding out on you. But, the guilt has completely overwhelmed me; so, now I must share… one word… Tupy’s.
For something like a million years, Tupinamba has been a staple of Dallas Mexican cuisine, and up until about 2010, north of the loop was destitute, lacking the love that only comes from a Tupy’s Taco Patron. Then, The Shops at Starwood in Frisco, off of Dallas North Tollway and Lebanon, brought happiness to the masses, and after hogging it to myself over these last few months, I’ve decided to come clean and share the love.I’m not afraid to say that I’ve pretty much worked my way through a majority of their menu at this point, and I have some personal favorites to share with you. Number one on the “I’m so hankerin’ for this, I need to have it” list is Tortilla Soup. I know… sounds wimpy. But, in the great words of Nacho Libre, “It’s tha’ Beeeeest.”
With allergy season blasting through the area, it was both a relief and a healing potion on several occasions these last few weeks. I have been so protective of this place and the gold within its doors that I even kept the soup top secret from my husband until he started to get the sniffles the other day. I knew exactly what to do… Tupy’s. Continue reading “I’ve Been a Bad, Bad Blogger”