A Look Inside Crispy ‘N’ Puffy Taquito

Hello, hello!  Welcome to November!  Is everyone looking forward to the holiday season?  I’m looking forward to peppermint EVERYTHING.  Because yes, I’m one of those people.  If you can get excited about all things pumpkin spice, then I can do the same for peppermint.  But I digress.  On Monday, Dad and I tried out a new restaurant in Mesquite called Crispy ‘n’ Puffy Taquito.  It promises “authentic Mexican cuisine with a modern twist,” so we thought we’d give it a shot.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

cnp+website+header+design+copy
A colorful banner.

Accessibility: fairly standard.  There’s an oddly positioned ramp to get in, but that’s been that way since the building went up.  Spacing between the tables is super tight.  I barely maneuvered around them when they were empty.  If it had been busy, it would have been impossible to get beyond the ones right by the door.

Service: wonderful!  Our waitress was friendly and attentive.  She wasn’t sure about me at first, but once she realized I was capable of ordering for myself, she talked directly to me.  She even came out to hold the door open for us when we arrived.

Menu1
I didn’t take any pictures, so here’s one of the menu I found on Google.

Appetizers: not bad.  We ordered the stuffed jalapeños which contain both cheese and chicken.  They were pretty good.  We also had the fried mushrooms.  They were large with a nice crispy crust.  Also pretty good.

Entrees: just no.  I have to go back to the beginning here, which was ordering our drinks.  They advertise a lot of Mexican sodas (Coke, Fanta, etc.), but they were out of them ALL.  Then, when we ordered our appetizers, we found out they also didn’t have any of the avocado sour cream they tout as a must try on their website.  Needless to say, there was a lot of wondering if they even had tacos left.  But they did, so Dad got two beef and two chicken (the only options they have), and I got the nachos.  There was absolutely zero puffiness to Dad’s tacos.  It was just your standard hard shell.  All the reviews we read talked about a flavorful dusting on the shells, but Dad got none of that.  The chicken tasted like it was canned.  The beef was reminiscent of Taco Bueno, only not as… I won’t say good… edible, I suppose.  My nachos had some kind of cheese sauce and the beef and lettuce and tomatoes all topped with shredded cheese.  It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t good. The chips tasted fine but had a stale consistency.  Everything was super greasy as well.  It just wasn’t a good experience food-wise.  Also, their menu is super limited.

Menu2
The other side of the menu courtesy of Google.

Dessert: unknown.  Yes, you guessed right.  They were out!

Price: not worth it.  It wasn’t too expensive, but you might as well go to Taco Bell or something like that for the same quality at a better price.

My rating:
M

P.S. I thought long and hard about posting this, especially since they have so many good reviews.  I don’t like being a downer when it comes to a new local business struggling to make it.  But it was just that bad.  Maybe we went on a bad day.  Maybe all the reviews on Google and Yelp are right.  If they’re still around in a year or two, maybe we’ll try again.  All I know is that this go ’round sucked.  And first impressions are everything.

A Look Inside The Schooner Restaurant

Hello, hello!  This weekend, Dad and I went to Port Neches for the book launch of Road Kill: Texas Horror by Texas Writers Vol. 3.  It’s down by the coast, so we were looking forward to the prospect of amazing seafood.  We asked around about the best place to go and the consensus seemed to be a place called The Schooner Restaurant off 69 right where Nederland and Port Arthur meet.  So, after the event (which was cozy, lovely, and hosted by the awesome little book store Fleur Fine Books), Dad and I headed toward the restaurant.  It was a building in the middle of a strip mall parking lot and when we got there around 6:00, 6:30 there was no wait.  On a Saturday night.  Granted, a dreary and drizzly Saturday night, but still.  On to the review!

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

large-schooner-menu
A picture of the menu that I borrowed from Google because I didn’t take any.

Accessibility: standard.  There were no steps or ramps required to get in, which was interesting.  We don’t often run into places without at least a sidewalk around them around here, so going to a place even with the parking lot was cool.  It did have two sets of doors, but the hostess was right there holding the inside door open, removing any potential hassle.  There seemed to be multiple paths to a number of tables, so it wasn’t difficult to maneuver around the place.  The tables themselves were not my favorite.  They were the kind with a thick leg at each end, which meant I couldn’t pull in all the way.  It makes things annoying, but not impossible.

Service: amazing!  The hostess greeted me before Dad even finished coming inside.  The waitress, Raven, treated me like a person from the get-go.  She was super nice and helpful when we had questions about the menu.  If she didn’t know something, she was honest about it.  She was attentive, but not overbearing.  It was one of those places where everyone seemed nice and no one ignored my existence just because I’m cripple, so they get some bonus points.

download
A neat old picture (1955) I found on Google.  It’s from the UNT website.

Appetizers: pretty good.  We ordered the oyster Rockefeller, which turned out to be cheesy, spinachy goodness.  Pretty sure that was my first time eating cooked oysters and, I have to say, they were really good.  We also got some alligator.  It was fried and tender, so it was also good.

Entrees: this is where things go south.  I ordered the Schooner deluxe platter, which was a bunch of fried things (shrimp, scallops, trout, stuffed shrimp, stuffed crab, a frog leg, and crab).  But I asked for everything that could be grilled to be grilled.  Nothing was grilled.  The shrimp and scallops were lightly breaded and pan-fried instead of deep fried, but that’s not grilled.  And the trout coming out deep fried made me wonder if perhaps it was a pre-made and frozen thing, because why else couldn’t they grill it?  And don’t get me started on the fried crab.  They fried it in the shell!  What was the point of that?  It appeared to be a dungeness crab, so you can’t eat the shell.  And frying it made all of the meat stick to the shell, which meant if you didn’t want to sit there for hours picking at it, you couldn’t even get half the meat out.  It was all super disappointing.  Plus, the stuffed shrimp tasted like it had soap in it.  Dad ordered grilled flounder (came out pan-fried) Greek-style.  The seasoning was good.  That’s about it.  Everything, including our sides, was over-cooked.  I never thought seafood could become shoe leather.  I was wrong.

schooner_dessert1
Picture stolen from their website.

Dessert: not bad.  All of the desserts looked delicious (even the carrot cake), but we decided to split a chocolate eruption.  Needless to say, a lot of chocolate erection jokes were made.  But it was pretty good.  A chocolate mousse cake with chunks of cheesecake in it.  Worth a try.

Price: for good seafood, the price wasn’t bad.  For the seafood we got?  Totally not worth it.

My rating:
MM

If it had just been a crappy appetizer or a bad dessert, I’d say a MM was harsh, but when it’s both entrees (and not just a small part of them, but all of it), I’m okay with this rating.  If that’s what passes for the best seafood so close to the coast, I’d rather stay in Dallas for fish.  And that’s really sad to me.

A Look Inside Seafood Shack Mariscos

Hello, hello!  Welcome to September.  It seems like forever since I’ve posted a food review (since January 2017 actually), so I thought it was about time for one.  Dad and I were going to go to Zenna  on Sunday, but they are temporarily closed due to fire damage.  So, we ended up trying a place called Seafood Shack Mariscos.  You can find addresses for all three of their locations on the website linked above.  It has a Big Shucks vibe.  Honestly, it’s super surprising to find a seafood place in Mesquite that isn’t a huge chain (Red Lobster, Joe’s Crab Shack, etc.), so Dad and I decided to check it out.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

Mariscos3
Didn’t think to take pictures, so I borrowed this one from Google.

Accessibility: not bad, not great.  Cripple parking is sparse, but it’s a small lot so what do you expect?  There’s a spot on either side of the loading zone right out front.  And it’s a loading zone that’s actually large enough for me to get unloaded in (yay!).  Getting in is easy enough.  But the tables are pretty tightly packed, so when it’s busy, you have to rely on the kindness of people moving and pushing chairs around so you can reach an empty spot.  It’s embarrassing, but you do what you have to do for the sake of food.  The tables themselves are easy to fit under and a good height.

Service: good.  You order at the counter, they give you a flag, someone brings your food and booze out.  Fountain drinks, tea, and condiments are serve yourself.  The cashier smiled at me when we approached, but seemed a little apprehensive to assume I would order anything.  After she realized I was going to order, she talked to me normally.  Some wires got crossed because I speak softly, but Dad helped straighten them out.  She also messed up some stuff with him, though, so I didn’t feel too bad about my mumbling.  The person who dropped off our food just asked if it was ours and put it down in front of whoever responded, which was perfect.

Mariscos1
Again, no pictures.  So here’s part one of their Mesquite menu from the website.

Food: fan-freaking-tastic!  We got a bowl of gumbo and a shrimp and octopus cocktail to share.  Both of which were amazing.  I had a little trouble chewing the octopus, but it’s supposed to be chewy.  I knew that going in.  Dad had the salmon, which came with rice and veggies.  Aside from the fish being a bit more well done than he usually eats it, he said it was really good.  I had the enchiladas de camaron.  Three shrimp and cheese enchiladas in a creamy sauce with a side of rice.  They were wonderful!

The only (not really) problem with the food was that everything came out at once.  It’s one of those things that happens when you have to order everything up front.  Is it inconvenient?  Yeah, a little.  Especially for those of us who enjoy eating at a slow pace.  Is it a deal breaker?  Nope.

Mariscos2
Part two of their Mesquite menu from their website.

I didn’t notice any desserts on the menu.  Sadness.  But they have mango margaritas (as well as other drinks).  Those things are addictive.  They coat the rim in Tajin (a seasoning containing lime, chili peppers, and sea salt).  It goes really well with the sweetness of the mango.  They also have tamarindo margaritas.  I want to try that one too, but it’s going to be really hard to beat the mango.

Price: normal.  Seafood is never going to be cheap, but the prices here are pretty good.  We walked away with around a $60 bill (not including tip).  That’s not bad considering all the yummy food we got.  We’ll definitely be going back and I suggest you give it a shot as well if you’re in the area!

My rating:
MMMM

Smashed Cucumbers and Grilled Lamb-Stuffed Pitas

Hello, hello!  First and foremost, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD!  Yup, it’s the anniversary of his awesomeness as a few of my friends call it.  If you have his number, call him and sing at him.  Otherwise, post birthday wishes here or on my social media pages and I will pass them along.

Birthday Cake - candles
Opus and Bill say happy birthday!

And now, onto the blog.  I have nothing new to talk about, so I thought I would post a couple of recipes Dad recently tried out: smashed cucumbers (also known as Pai Huang Gua) and grilled lamb-stuffed pitas with yogurt sauce.  Both of these recipes came from America’s Test Kitchen.  Have you tried something new recently?  Feel free to share your food exploits here or on my social media pages!

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Borrowed from Google

First up, smashed cucumbers (from season 18, episode 17).  Serves 4.  We forgot the chili oil ATK suggested you use with this dish, but it was good without it.  Nice and cool and refreshing, especially on a hot summer day.  Dad also added a teaspoon of minced ginger, which was delicious.

Ingredients:

  • 2 (14-ounce) English cucumbers
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • 4 teaspoons Chinese black vinegar (or 2 teaspoons of rice vinegar and 1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced to paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted

Directions:

1. Trim and discard ends from cucumbers. Cut each cucumber crosswise into three equal lengths. Place pieces in large zipper-lock bag and seal bag. Using small skillet or rolling pin, firmly but gently smash cucumbers until flattened and split lengthwise into 3 to 4 spears each. Tear spears into rough 1- to 1 1/2-inch pieces and transfer to colander set in large bowl. Toss cucumbers with salt and let stand for at least 15 minutes or up to 30 minutes.

2. While cucumbers sit, whisk vinegar and garlic together in small bowl; let stand for at least 5 minutes or up to 15 minutes.

3. Whisk soy sauce, oil, and sugar into vinegar mixture until sugar has dissolved. Transfer cucumbers to medium bowl and discard any extracted liquid. Add dressing and sesame seeds to cucumbers and toss to combine. Serve immediately.

ATK_S18_16_Grilled_Lamb_Pita_Burgers_1_t800
Also borrowed from Google.  We had the smashed cukes instead of a salad.

Next up are the grilled lamb-stuffed pitas with yogurt sauce (from season 18, episode 20).  Serves 4-6 (the following instructions are for 4 servings, but just add extra pitas and divide mixture by 6 if you want to serve more/have fewer calories).  The pita was crispy, the meat juicy, and the yogurt sauce was nice and cool and creamy.  Definitely worth a try.  Some grilled onions on top might be a nice addition as well.

Ingredients:

SAUCE

  • 1 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • ½ cup minced fresh mint
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon salt

SANDWICHES

  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest plus 3 tablespoons juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 ½ teaspoons pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 pounds ground lamb (or 85 percent lean ground beef)
  • 4 (8-inch) pita breads

Directions:

1. FOR THE SAUCE: Whisk all ingredients together in bowl. Set aside.

2. FOR THE SANDWICHES: Pulse onion and cilantro in food processor until finely chopped, 10 to 12 pulses, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Transfer mixture to large bowl. Stir in oil, lemon zest and juice, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, pepper, cayenne, and cinnamon. Add lamb and knead gently with your hands until thoroughly combined.

3. Using kitchen shears, cut around perimeter of each pita and separate into 2 halves. Place 4 thicker halves on counter with interiors facing up. Divide lamb mixture into 4 equal portions and place 1 portion in center of each pita half. Using spatula, gently spread lamb mixture into even layer, leaving 1/2-inch border around edge. Top each with thinner pita half. Press each sandwich firmly until lamb mixture spreads to ¼ inch from edge of pita. Transfer sandwiches to large plate, cover with plastic wrap, and set aside. (Sandwiches may be held for up to 1 hour before grilling.)

4A. FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter two-thirds filled with charcoal briquettes (4 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.

4B. FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.

5. Clean and oil cooking grate. Place sandwiches on grill, cover, and cook until bottoms are evenly browned and edges are starting to crisp, 7 to 10 minutes, moving sandwiches as needed to ensure even cooking. Flip sandwiches, cover grill, and continue to cook until second sides are evenly browned and edges are crisp, 7 to 10 minutes longer. Transfer sandwiches to cutting board and cut each in half crosswise. Transfer sandwiches to platter and serve, passing sauce separately.

It’s Beginning To Smell Like Thanksgiving

Hello, hello!  So, my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, is this week!  It’s currently Monday and the house smells like cranberry sauce and sweet potatoes.  And the aromas will just keep getting better as the week goes on.  So, in celebration of the season, I thought I would share a couple of recipes with you!  Namely, the cranberry sauce and sweet potato casserole Dad makes.  I know it’s a little late given that Thanksgiving will be tomorrow by the time this posts, but you can always try them next year or for Christmas.

1212a85203e4a69283fa84f269860301--cranberry-orange-relish-liquor-cabinet
Picture stolen from Pinterest.

First up is Cranberry Orange Relish with Bourbon.  It’s a recipe Dad found in the Dallas Morning News a couple of years ago.  He decided to try this one since the chutney recipe he used before had apples, which I’m mildly allergic to, so I couldn’t eat much of it.  He’s tweaked it a little since then by adding walnuts, but here’s the recipe!

CRANBERRY ORANGE RELISH WITH BOURBON

Ingredients:
1 cup bourbon (Dad uses Jack Daniels)

1 orange, zested and supremed (see chef’s note)
1 (12-ounce) bag fresh cranberries
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice, freshly squeezed or from concentrate

Directions:
In a medium saucepan over low heat, combine bourbon and orange zest.  Bring to a boil and simmer, until reduced to a syrup, about 10 minutes.

Add cranberries, orange segments, sugar, and orange juice.  Stir until sugar is dissolved and cranberries pop.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Cover and refrigerate. Makes 8 servings.

Chef’s note:
To supreme orange: Using a sharp knife, cut remaining skin and pith off of the zested orange.  Working over a clean mixing bowl and using a sharp knife, cut out each segment of orange between the membranes.

PER SERVING:
Calories 1,620 (None from fat)
Trace fat (No sat)
No cholesterol
No sodium
Fiber 4 g.
Carbohydrates 276 g.
Protein 3 g.
Sugar 239 g.

1479234862-NF_10pitmasters1AJ
Picture stolen from Google.

Another recent addition to our Thanksgiving line up is Sweet Potato Casserole with Pecan Streusel Topping.  Dad found this one last year in the Dallas Morning News.  It’s fairly similar to the recipe he had been using, but it has an orange-y flavor that makes it better.  Even I like it, and I’m not a big sweet potato fan.  I know he’s tweaked it, but this is the recipe!

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE WITH PECAN STREUSEL TOPPING

Ingredients:
5 pounds sweet potatoes, roasted until soft (instructions follow; or substitute two 40-ounce cans sweet potatoes, drained)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Grated zest from half an orange
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) cold butter, cut into cubes
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
3/4 cup flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions:
Heat oven to 350 F.  Butter the inside of a 9×13-inch baking pan.

Scrape flesh from sweet potato into a mixing bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor (work in batches if using a processor).  Mash or puree until smooth.  Add eggs and combine thoroughly.

Add granulated sugar, cream, allspice, and orange zest and mix thoroughly into mashed sweet potatoes.  Transfer sweet potato mixture to prepared pan.

To make the pecan streusel topping:
In the bowl of a food processor, place butter, brown sugar, flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, pecans, and vanilla and pulse until mixture is crumbly and looks like small pebbles.

Sprinkle sweet potatoes evenly with streusel topping — it should completely cover sweet potatoes.  Bake for 45 minutes.

Makes 15 servings.

To roast sweet potatoes:
Heat oven to 450 F.  Place whole sweet potatoes on the oven rack and roast for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until tender.

SOURCE:
Adapted from Justin and Diane Fourton, Pecan Lodge

PER SERVING:
Calories 525
Fat 24 g. (11 g. sat)
Cholesterol 92 mg.
Sodium 271 mg.
Fiber 6 g.
Carbohydrates 73 g.
Protein 7 g.

Thanksgiving-2017

What are some recipes you or your loved ones make for the holiday?  Do you tend to stick to the same menu or try to mix it up each year?  Feel free to share here or on my social media pages.  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

A Look Inside Texas de Brazil

Howdy, howdy!  How was everyone’s week?  As promised, I’m posting a review of my birthday experience at Texas de Brazil.  We went to the one out in Addison this time, instead of the one in Dallas.  Check out their website (linked above) for locations near you!  It’s a Brazilian steakhouse and churrascaria, so there’s a big focus on meat.  As carnivores, Dad and I appreciate that, as did Ed Baker who went with us and is a family friend from back when I was active with MDA.  I will say that this wasn’t my first time there, so this post will probably draw on my other experiences as well.

First, a reminder of my rating system:

MMMMM = Everything is magnificent!
MMMM = Great, but something is off.
MMM = Pretty good, but a couple of things could be better.
MM = The bad’s starting to outweigh the good.
M = Definitely more cons than pros.
… = I couldn’t find anything nice to say.

16112619_10155771823218345_6022925725518282883_o
A selection of their meats borrowed from their Facebook page.

First up is accessibility.  They don’t have many handicap parking spaces at either of the locations I’ve been to, but they do have valet parking to make life easier if the spaces are taken.  I admit that I like the Addison location a little better than the Dallas one because I can get in through the front door.  The only ramp on the Dallas location is in through the kitchen, which is cool (I mean, at least they made it accessible in the ways they could).  The Texas de Brazil in Addison did a nice job to accommodate wheelchairs.  It can be a tight squeeze around the salad bar, especially at the corners (we had to ask a nice man to move because I couldn’t make one of the turns), but otherwise it was fairly easy to manuever around.  The tables are a nice height, but they do have a small piece underneath that I would’ve banged my knees on if I hadn’t looked first.  It’s easily avoidable, though.  So, it’s accessibility is up to the usual standards around here.

Next is service.  The hostess and waitress were wonderful.  They both talked to me like a regular human being.  The people who carry the meat around and serve it focused mostly on Dad and Ed.  Only one or two of them looked directly to me when asking who wanted what, but since Dad grabbed a piece for me off of everything, it didn’t really bug me.  In other words, the service was great where it mattered.

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Dad, Ed, and I post-meat, but pre-dessert.

Now, the best part: food!  Once you’re seated, there’s a huge salad area you can hit up as often as you want.  There’re vegetables and cheese and fruits and fish and soup.  It’s delicious all on its own.  They do have vegetarian-friendly options in case you know some herbivores, but I’m not sure about vegan options.  My personal favorites were the cheeses and some kind of pineapple dish that was super thinly sliced and sweet.  It’s definitely got enough to fill you up even if you don’t want to eat the meat floating around the room.

As for the meat, I can honestly say it’s like a little slice of heaven.  Waiters carry skewers of everything from beef to chicken to pork to lamb.  There’s literally something for everyone.  Dad loves lamb, I loved the parmesan crusted chicken and pork, Ed kept going back to the sausages.  You can gorge on whatever you want or have a little bit of everything like we did.  They even have a couple of sides (garlic mashed potatoes and fried bananas) they bring to the table despite the huge salad area.  They also have bread.  Be prepared to stuff yourself silly.

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My birthday creme brulee!

Texas de Brazil also has a fairly wide variety of desserts.  I had the creme brulee, of course.  Dad had flan, and Ed had the key lime pie.  Everything we’ve had here has been yummy.  They don’t have specialty coffee cocktails, but the bartender will whip something up if you ask, which is how I like to end such a wonderful meal.

Now, onto the thing no one likes to talk about: the price.  At nearly $50 a person (not including drinks and desserts), it’s not cheap.  But for everything you get, it’s totally worth the splurge once a year or so.  Get dressed up and make a night of it with someone special.

So, here’s my rating:
MMMM

Sweet Tooth: A Top Five List

Hello, hello!  It’s Thanksgiving week!  My favorite holiday ever, as if you didn’t know.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Thursday and gets to spend time with their loved ones and eats tons of goodies.  Also, instead of shopping Thursday night and Friday, I encourage you to stay at home and binge-watch Netflix (Gilmore Girls!) or play games or something fun.  Anyway, in keeping with last week’s light and fun food related post, I thought I would devote this one to desserts.  This has nothing to do with Thanksgiving per se, it’s just my top five favorite desserts, along with an honorable mention.

creme-brulee
That looks delicious.

1. Creme brulee.  If there’s creme brulee on the menu, you can pretty much guess what I’m getting.  There’s just something about the creamy goodness underneath the crackly crunchy coating that speaks to my soul.  It would take something super weird that I’ve never had before (because I like trying new things even more than I like creme brulee) to beckon me away from this particular dish of delish.

tiramisu_2a_landscape
I’m making myself hungry.

2. Tiramisu.  Ladyfingers and chocolate and coffee and creamy marscapone custard deliciousness and (depending on the recipe) booze.  What’s not to love?  The real question, though, is whether I like tiramisu because I like boozy coffee or if it’s the other way around.  I guess we’ll never know.

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I may or may not have just drooled on myself.

3. Flan.  In the process of making this list, I have just realized that I have a weird attraction to custardy desserts.  I have no idea where it came from.  I’m not complaining, nor am I apologizing.  Flan is special, though.  It combines my love of creaminess with my love of caramel sauce, so it gets bonus points for that.

blueberry-crumble-pie-8
Blueberry crumble pie?  Don’t mind if I do.

4. Pie.  I admit it.  I like pie more than cake.  The problem is, I can’t pick just one kind.  Blueberry crumble, key lime, peanut butter, chocolate creme, pecan.  The list goes on and on.  There are a few exceptions, like coconut, pumpkin (yeah, I said it), sweet potato, or anything banana, but otherwise, as long as I’m not allergic to it, I will probably like it in a pie.

red-velvet-cake-with-vanilla-cream-cheese-frosting_ashx_
It looks so good.

5. Red velvet cake.  If we’re talking regular old cake, I lean more toward red velvet.  Maybe it’s the color, maybe it’s the cream cheese frosting, it’s just so delicious.  I could totally go for a piece right now.

tasteit15159cheescake-1x1quad
I couldn’t not include it.

 Honorable Mention.  Cheesecake.  There’s just no way to make a list of favorite desserts without at least thinking of cheesecake.  I’d never turn a slice down even though I may prefer other things.

What about you?  What’re your favorite desserts?  Is there a particular dessert you’re looking forward to on Thanksgiving?  Feel free to share your lists or thoughts here or on my social media pages.  Thank you for reading!  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

See you next week for my 100th post.

Our Thanksgiving Menu

Hello, hello!  Since my favorite holiday is right around the corner, I thought I’d share our usual Thanksgiving menu with you.  Dad makes a feast and it’s only fair that I share all of the mouthwatering morsels.  Plus, we need to start making a shopping list and this will help us remember what to add.  Who said a blog couldn’t act as a handy-dandy reminder?  So, in no particular order of deliciousness, our Thanksgiving spread includes:

thanksgiving-day

1. Turkey, of course.  Dad’s kind of a traditionalist when it comes to the bird.  It’s stuffed and roasted.  When I was a kid and we had 30+ people over, I vaguely remember the occasional backup ham, but we always have the turkey.

2. Stuffing.  I know we’re in Texas and that cornbread stuffing is like the law here, but that’s not what Dad makes.  He does an Italian stuffing with sausage and other things.  I fully admit that it’s my favorite part of the meal.

3. Mashed potatoes.  This has morphed a little over the years from a traditional dish to something more flavorful.  There’s usually garlic and other things involved.  It’s another favorite.

4. Mashed sweet potatoes.  Originally, we had the whole candied yams dish with the marshmallows and all that, but Dad found a recipe a while back for a mashed version with nuts and brown sugar.  I’m not the biggest fan of sweet potatoes, but the mashed version seems to go over well with other people.

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And then you murder them and eat their insides.

 5. Green bean casserole.  Every year, Dad tweaks something or adds something new.  Last year, he went from the old recipe pretty much everyone does to a fresh version we saw on Good Eats.  It was tasty and pretty easy to make.

6. Corn pudding.  This is actually a fairly recent addition (within the last five years).  It replaced the canned corn that we always forgot to put out.  As far as I know, Dad still tweaks this one.

7. Spinach casserole.  We’ve had this one for as long as I can remember, but I only started eating it within the last ten years.  It never seems to change.

8. Stuffed mushrooms.  These are one of our usual appetizers.  Italian sausage stuffing and lots of cheese.  Everyone loves them.

9. Deviled eggs.  The other usual appetizer.  And I just feel the need to point out that Dad always remembers that I’m not big on the paprika sprinkled on top, so he makes half without it.  I’m very loved.

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Looks right to me.

 10. Cranberry chutney.  This seems to change every year.  Last year, Dad found a recipe without apples, so I could eat it.  This is served alongside the jellied cranberry sauce, because why not?

I feel like I’m probably missing something, but I can’t think of anything.  Dessert is left up to our guests.  What does your Thanksgiving feast include?  Are you the chef or a guest?  Do you have any traditions you’d like to share?  Feel free to share it all in a comment on here or on any of my social media pages!

A Month of Giving Thanks (Part Four)

Hello hello!  Happy Thanksgiving to all of my readers who celebrate!  The month of thanks is drawing to a close, which means I will have no idea what to post about again starting next week.  Ah well.  I’ll worry about that then.  For now, let’s get back into a thankful mood.  As always, feel free to join in!  Here are my last five choices for this year:

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This.  So much this.

1. Books!  I feel like any good writer would have mentioned this weeks ago, but whatever.  Books are awesome covered in awesome sauce.  Not only do they teach us things, the really good ones do so without us even realizing it until it’s too late.  And they provide us with escapes to other realities.  We get to experience a lot of things we would never otherwise experience.  Not only that, but we get to see life through the perspective of someone else.  So yeah, books are great.

2. Pets.  I mentioned stuffed animals, but never real ones.  Shame on me!  I actually adore most animals (until we start talking bugs anyway), but this section is reserved for furbabies and the like.  Some people I know are hesitant about getting a pet because of the pain of losing them, but I’m not one of them.  Yeah, it hurts when they die (they’re family, so of course it does), but there’s nothing like the unconditional love of an animal.

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Chewy (unknown-…), Dame Julia (2001-2014), Toto (unknown-2011)
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Speedy (1993-2010)

 3. A dad who can cook.  He spoils me with smoked meats (including homemade pastrami), pasta, breakfast, and basically everything he makes.  I see all these Thanksgiving specials where the women are in the kitchen, but it was always Dad who did most of the holiday cooking.  Mom cooked most of the rest of the time when she was alive, so Dad’s cooking was always a treat.  Now, he wonders why I’d rather he make something instead of going out.  Because you make it better, that’s why.  And yes, the rest of you should be jealous.

4. Anime and manga.  On top of providing all of the goodness of books, these also have pictures.  If you’ve read through earlier posts, you know that many of my favorite heroes and heroines come from anime and manga.  Like many, it was also my gateway into Japanese culture, so you can blame it for a lot of my weirdness.  My writing has also been majorly influenced by the stuff.  I mean, one wouldn’t expect too much of a difference in character archetypes and plot development and the like, but there’s actually SO much to learn from anime and manga as a writer.  It’s mind blowing.  Really.

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From Neon Genesis Evangelion (aka my first experience with a series where I despised the main character but loved the story and the other characters, which wasn’t an abnormal reaction at all).

 5. Deadlines.  I know the good majority of creative types are supposed to hate the pressure of a due date, but not me.  I’d never get anything done without some kind of time constraint.  Whether it’s my self-imposed word count or someone else telling me I need to get something done, deadlines and goals are my friend.  It’s okay to admit it.

I think that’s it.  Time to prepare to eat myself into a food coma, then eat some more!  Have a safe and wonderful holiday!  See you next time.

Growing Up Cripple

Hi all!  I really had no idea what to blog about, so I procrastinated for a while with the help of social media, and that’s when I noticed something strange.  I’ve seen a lot of “growing up” hashtags on Twitter (growing up a girl, growing up black, etc.), but there isn’t a hashtag for growing up cripple.  Yeah, you can find growing up disabled and growing up in a wheelchair, but they’re few and far between (plus, they’re mostly depressing).  Since I’m not all that Twitter adept (140 characters just isn’t enough), I decided to blog about it.

Young Me (Color Correction)
It’s me! According to the copywrite date, I was four. I used to be so cute. What happened?

People act like growing up anything but a straight, white, able, cis, male puts you at some kind of disadvantage (cue the “privileged” arguments), but I disagree.  Growing up, I never really felt like my crippleness put me at a real disadvantage or made me any less of a person.  Don’t get me wrong, back then and to this day I’ve encountered people who seem to think I’m invisible, people who actually cross the street when they see me (I’m not contagious, I swear!  Though, I do bite.), people who say or ask less than intelligent things, and the like, but I learned quickly that that was their problem, not mine.  Just because some people are idiots doesn’t mean their behavior is in any way my fault.

Were things ever more difficult than they should’ve been?  Yeah, of course!  I mean, when stairs and curbs are your mortal enemies, you’re going to run into problems.  Luckily, I was raised in a family where finding ways around obstacles was a challenge readily accepted.  Can’t reach your mouth with that fork?  Let’s tape a plastic one to a skewer!  Can’t reach the keyboard with your right hand?  Try this backscratcher!  Keep getting stuck in the mud out back?  Let’s build a deck!  And the list goes on and on.

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Prom. I designed the dress and Mom made it.
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High school graduation. Most of the immediate family.

Granted, the whole stuck in a chair thing also makes outings much more annoying (no, it’s not just something that affects home life), but it doesn’t stop me.  That’s one thing Dallas has going for it, most places are accessible at least to a point (SMU, I’m looking at you when I say “to a point”), so I go to clubs and concerts and out to eat and to cons and renfests and all of that delightful stuff.  You want to talk about privilege?  Try being a cripple at clubs and cons and such.  I was raised never to expect special treatment, but you’d be surprised how often places offer front of the line privileges among other stuff (and who am I to turn such thoughtfulness down?).  Let’s see the straight, white, able, cis dude get that kind of treatment on a regular basis… I think not.

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I miss my purple hair. And the red hair. And the teal. You get the idea.

Anyway, I guess my point is that life is what you make of it.  Yes, my crippleness makes life a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s the hand I was dealt.  I’m not inspirational (though I kindly thank those who think I am, because they’re being nice when they say that kind of stuff).  I’m simply living my life.  Life is hard, but do you want to know a secret?  Everyone has problems (even that privileged white guy).  You can either deal with your own issues and try to live happily for the most part, or you can focus on all the bad and be miserable forever.  It’s your battle.  No one can fight it for you.