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Posts from — June 2018

easy cheesy

Easy Cheesy Refried Black Beans

  • 2 cups refried black beans
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup prepared salsa
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Monterey Jack
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion, garnish
  • 1/4 cup diced tomato, garnish
  • 1 minced jalapeño, garnish
  • 1/4 cup roughly chopped cilantro, garnish

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June 29, 2018   No Comments

taco bar

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

      Wedding Taco Bar

Fillings:

Toppings:

  • Barrio Café Guacamole
  • Creamy Cilantro sauce
  • Pickled Red Onions
  • Cilantro Chimichurri
  • Peggy’s Blender Salsa
  • diced tomatoes
  • black beans
  • sliced radishes
  • sliced jalapeño
  • sweet pickled jalapeño
  • sliced black olives
  • salsa roja
  • salsa verde
  • diced avocado
  • sour cream
  • queso fresco
  • Mexican cheese blend
  • Mexican crema
  • cotija cheese
  • chopped cilantro
  • diced white onion
  • green onion
  • lettuce
  • cabbage

Sides:

  • Tomatillo Rice
  • Refried Black Beans
  • Mexican Street Corn
  • Corn Tortillas
  • Flour Tortillas
  • White & Blue Chips

That is the list of 34 items that made up the Wedding Taco Bar.

 

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

There are very few recipes left to share with you from the wedding, since all the fillings have been posted and several of the sides and topping recipes are here in previous  posts. Click on these links to find them:

Barrio Café Guacamole

Pickled Red Onions

Peggy’s Blender Salsa

Mexican Street Corn

So that only leaves the Creamy Cilantro Sauce, Refried Black Beans, Tomatillo Rice and Cilantro Chimichurri. Since the chimichurri is an easy “dump in the blender and turn on” recipe, we’ll start with it.

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June 28, 2018   No Comments

best ever ground beef taco meat

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

An Instant-Pot was part of my long “To Bring” list for the wedding. I also brought along a Crockpot and four individual butane burners. I knew that with all the cooking I had to get done in two days that I’d need more than the four-burner gas range and single oven that was provided in the kitchen. I used the Instant-Pot to make the taco meat.

It wasn’t until I got up there that I discovered the oven only had one rack. As you can imagine, that created a few challenges as well.

I used 73% lean beef instead of the 92% lean that I generally use. This made for the juiciest and most flavorful tacos. It was seriously the best ground beef for tacos that I’ve ever made. The recipe I’m giving you is a guess as to the proportions of seasonings and spices I used. I was tasting and tweaking this for about an hour while the juices cooked down. I then combined the two batches and continued to season it until I got it just right.

Another reason it’s impossible for me guess exactly how much seasoning I added is because I was using 20 pounds of ground beef, 10 pounds at a time. That is 14x the quantity of the recipe below. Which translates to fourteen onions, 28 bell peppers, 28 tomatoes, 1 ¾ cups of taco seasoning, etc.

P.S.  I buy the taco seasoning at Costco and if you don’t own an Instant-Pot, the recipe can be made in a large skillet. See “Note” at the bottom of this post for details.

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June 27, 2018   1 Comment

The Fox Cocktail

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

The newlyweds!

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

It’s the day many of you have waited for. Today I post several photos of the newlyweds. I also share Chanté’s Signature Cocktail. It is called “The Fox” because Fox is Chanté’s maiden name.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Cody knew he wanted a skinny margarita for his signature cocktail from the beginning. Chanté knew she wanted a vodka based drink but it wasn’t until about 2 weeks before the wedding that she, Kim and I visited Culinary Dropout and Doughbird to figure out exactly what that drink would consist of.

After trying the “Between You & Me” at Culinary Dropout and “The Local” at Doughbird, we came to the unanimous decision on “The Local.”

I had gone up to the bar at each restaurant and taken a video of the bartenders making the specific cocktails. This made it much easier to recreate for the wedding.

Of course, they were making a single drink. You might think that basic multiplication would get you the exact drink when making 100 servings, but it’s not quite that simple.

There is more than math and science involved, you have to taste and adjust as you multiply. So I took it from one drink to 100 and now back down to 10 servings here for you.

I used Absolut Grapefruit Vodka for the wedding cocktails because the drink is the perfect light pink shade. When I made the cocktail at home for this post, I only had Deep Eddy Grapefruit Vodka. It is already a darker color than the finished wedding cocktail was, so the end drink color is not as pretty. Tastes great, just not that subtle and inviting pretty pink.

Enjoy.

P.S. I saved my favorite photos of the gorgeous couple for the end of this post, so keep scrolling!

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

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June 26, 2018   1 Comment

The Chisel Cocktail


As mentioned in This Post, much of my patio furniture was hauled up for the wedding. The photos of my stuff on my patio, such as the photo above, were taken by me with my iPhone.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

The photos of my stuff at the wedding site were taken by the very talented photographer, Jen Griffith, with a camera that I’m guessing wasn’t anything remotely close to an iPhone!

I thought you might enjoy a little side-by-side of the furniture to see what it looks like on a patio and what it looks like in a beautiful bohemian wedding in the forest.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

For this one, I only wish Jen would have gotten the other side of this Mexican table, the side that still has some of the original paint on it.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

My stuff never looked so good!

This is Chanté’s vision come to life.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

For today’s recipe, I’m posting Cody’s Signature Cocktail which we named The Chisel in honor of his company, Chisel Built.

If you haven’t already visited his Instagram page (from back when I posted about the fireplace remodel and barn door he did for me) then you really must go check it out NOW! Cody’s work is incomparable!

Tomorrow I’ll post Chanté’s Signature Cocktail along with photos of the newly married couple!

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June 25, 2018   2 Comments

Mr. Elk

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

For the last post of the week, I have another fun wildlife story to tell and Howard family photos to share. Plus a recipe for chicken tacos thrown in for good measure. Rest assured, more wedding recipes will be posted next week along with beautiful photos of the gorgeous couple.

Late on Friday afternoon, while in the kitchen alone, another visitor came by. This majestic elk. He didn’t seem to care about the food, he was just walking by. No harm, no foul.

Paul and Kim’s fabulous four.  Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Fast forward to Saturday. Kim had hired three servers for me for Saturday night, two women and a man. They were all in their late 20’s.

While the ceremony was happening on the hill above the kitchen, the four of us were busy loading my car to take down the hill to the reception site, which was in front of the three camping cabins on level ground.

First, we loaded up the signature cocktail mixtures, a huge stock pot full of boiling water that would be used to fill the seven chafing dishes, along with the nearly four-foot long Harmony Board I created for the appetizer/cocktail start of the reception. As you might imagine, it was slow and steady driving down the hill with the boiling water in the front, between the male server’s feet, and the fully assembled Harmony Board in the back.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Chanté had a long table set out in front of the “Bar Cabin” for me to place the board on.

It was on the far edge of that area and just behind it were two pine trees that had a curtain of twinkle lights strung between them. I was busy setting up the board while the servers unloaded the cocktail mixtures and filled the chafing dishes with boiling water.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

We were just about to hop back in my car and go up the hill to load all the taco bar food when one of the band members, who was on the porch of the cabin next to the Bar Cabin, alerted us to the elk.

The same elk that I had seen the day before was now standing on the other side of the curtain of twinkle lights between the two pine trees with his eyes dead set on my Harmony Board!

I instructed the male server to stay behind to guard the food and reception area. I was too busy to ask how that went or how he scared him off but it easily could have been one of those horrible wedding stories that gets told over and over … “Yeah, remember that time when the huge elk destroyed the food at our wedding reception.”

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

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June 22, 2018   6 Comments

cooking day 2 – Saturday

Yesterday I posted the recipe for the Vegetable Tacos. That post was titled “cooking day 1”. Today we have the recipe for the Shrimp Tacos and I’m calling this post “cooking day 2.” That makes it sound as though the only thing I cooked on Friday was veggies and that the only I cooked on Saturday was shrimp. Far from it!

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

On Friday, I also cooked up the seasoned ground beef in the Instant Pot.  I shredded and put together the chicken for the chicken tacos, which I had grilled at home before we left on Thursday morning. I also made all sorts of fresh salsa, cilantro chimichurri, roasted peppers and onions, etc.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

And on Saturday, I not only made the shrimp, but also chopped and diced all the toppings for the tacos, made the guacamole and cooked the side dishes; beans, tomatillo rice and the Mexican corn.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Plus there were the signature cocktails to make; Cody’s Skinny Margarita and Chanté’s Strawberry Vodka Lemonade.

Many of those recipes will be posted in the days to come.

Plus I have to tell you that I did have help from the family in the kitchen throughout. Kim and Paul each helped with prep, including chopping onions and cutting corn cobs into quarters. Thank you both for the much needed and much appreciated grunt work.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

On Friday, Cody’s Aunt Barbara squeezed so many pounds of limes. More limes than any human should ever have to squeeze! Kim’s long time BFF, Sandy, used her artistic flair to write out all the chalkboard signage for the buffet table. There were more than 30 little signs to make. Thank you, Sandy!

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

On Saturday, I realized I had a few more chalkboards that needed making, including the boards for the signature cocktails. My writing is awful, so that is one job I always want to farm out! Cody’s youngest brother, Trevor, has a gorgeous girlfriend, Clair.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

As you can plainly see, Clair also has gorgeous handwriting and chalkboard flair!  Many thanks to the friends and family of the Howard clan for pitching in! xoox

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June 21, 2018   3 Comments

cooking day 1- Friday

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

My real work for Chanté and Cody’s wedding weekend, began on Friday morning. Extremely. Early. On Friday morning!

Sleeping in a “camping cabin” was both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because it gave me more hours in the day to cook and get all I needed to get done finished. A curse because I was bright-eyed but not quite bushy-tailed at 4:45 AM on Friday morning and 3:45 AM on Saturday morning.

On those mornings, at those times, I awoke needing to use the bathroom. At home when that happens, I stumble a few steps, in the dark to the toilet, with eyes closed, do my business, stumble back to bed and immediately fall back to sleep.

When the bathroom is in the forest, across a little road, up a slight incline and it is a public bathroom … well, the eyes closed, barefoot, nearly naked, stumbling routine does not fly. Shoes must be put on, more clothing is needed and the flashlight on the phone gets activated.

And on that first morning, when I turned on bathroom light, what I thought was a bat flew in through the slightly cracked window and into the stall I was in. It turned out to not be a bat, but an extremely large bat-size moth. So basically, by the time you get back to your little cabin after that experience, you are fully awake. Time to start the day! In the dark.

Friday morning, I got dressed, drove up the windy road to Rec. 2 and started cooking. Since it was still dark and there were not only the cabins that our people had rented out, but also campgrounds nearby, I locked myself in the kitchen. Once the sun came up, I opened the windows and the door and kept working.

The photo above was taken from the doorway into the kitchen. Soon after I opened that door, I was standing at the sink, with my back to said door, when I heard a little rustling behind me. I quickly turned around to see a deer standing in the kitchen. He was fully inside, with his hind feet on that door mat. He had walked up the stairs of the stone patio and came inside without an ounce of fear.

When I turned, he slowly stepped back, out the door and onto the patio. Obviously, it was breakfast time. I grabbed my phone and pulled out a bag of carrots.

It wasn’t until then that I noticed that he’d brought his herd of 6 more sweet deer along for the morning meal.

I fed them all, then they were on their merry way. The next morning, they got corn. I’m aware that they are used to this treatment, but it just made my day.

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June 20, 2018   2 Comments

wedding weekend – Thursday

Yesterday, I gave you a lay of the land for the wedding weekend in  Hualapai Mountain Park. I failed to mention that this all took place over Mother’s Day weekend and that the Hualapai Mountains are just outside Kingman, AZ., in the northwest corner of our beautiful state.

And see those deer in the corner of the map above?

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Yeah, they are there because the deer are so tame in the park, that they eat out of your hand, walk into kitchens and pose in wedding photos.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

Yes, that is the handsome groom, Cody, trying to have wedding photos taken. Obviously, the deer didn’t want to be upstaged. I too, had a fun encounter with a herd of deer… we’ll get to that tomorrow.

First, I want to tell you about the brilliant and life-saving idea my friend and mother of the groom, Kim Howard, had.

A few weeks before the wedding, Kim realized that we had much more food to bring up than we could ever fit into coolers. She knew there had to be refrigerated trailers out there that we could rent and she went about searching for one that would fit our needs and budget.

She found the perfect one at Mobile Cooler. I honestly don’t know what we would have done without this thing! As you can see, it can be used for beer kegs, but we just used it as a mobile refrigerator.

The refrigerator in the Rec. 2 kitchen would not have held a tenth of the food we brought up. In fact, this photo shows us toasting after my first full day of cooking and as you can see, items are nearly falling out… this is nothing compared to what was still in the refrigerated trailer at this point.

Here is a photo I sent to Kim on the Wednesday before we left. It is my kitchen island after unpacking the goods I bought at Food City. I also shopped at Costco, Safeway, Fry’s, Trader Joe’s, A.J’s and Smart & Final. I didn’t begin shopping for perishables until after the trailer arrived, because I didn’t have room in my two refrigerators for it all.

Kim really did save the day. Actually, she saved the weekend!

The trailer was delivered to my driveway on Tuesday evening. I plugged it in and it was chilled to the perfect temperature in less than an hour. I began filling it up on Wednesday morning and we had it filled and ready to hitch up to Kim and Paul’s mid-size SUV on Thursday morning.

Cody enlisted the help of one of his employees, Eloy, to help get everything up to the site, unload it all and then reload and bring it all home on Sunday. Eloy was the first to arrive at my house on Thursday morning. He had his truck and an open flat-bed trailer. He filled both to the brim with the majority of my patio furniture, 20 folding chairs, two 60-inch round, two 6-foot folding tables, an 8-foot folding table, card tables, etc. along with quite a bit of goodies from Miscellany Shed. The photo above shows some of the decor/serving items that went back into the shed on the Monday after the wedding.

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June 19, 2018   2 Comments

Hualapai Mountain Park

Photo credit: Lake Havasu LIVING Magazine

Hualapai Mountain Park, in the beautiful Hualapai Mountains, was the setting for Chanté and Cody’s wedding.

Hualapai means “People of the tall Pines” in the Hualapai language and the park is part of the Mohave County Parks Department.

Photo courtesy of griffithimaging.com

There are 24 rustic cabins that sleep from two to twelve. Nineteen of those are equipped with beds, tables, gas ranges, refrigerators, heaters, electricity, bathrooms and showers, hot and cold water and most have fireplaces or wood stoves. Each cabin also has a barbecue grill and picnic table outside.

One of the five camping cabins

The remaining five cabins are called “camping cabins” and have a double-size bunk bed, table, microwave oven and an under-counter refrigerator. The restrooms/showers for the camping cabins are located just across a small road.

Cody and Chanté visited in November, 2017 and rented all the cabins. All but the one that was already reserved, that is. In mid-January, 2018, over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, Cody, Chanté, along with Cody’s parents, Paul and Kim, and I visited to get a lay of the land and make a plan for the wedding and reception. Well, honestly, the couple already had a grand vision, they shared it with us and we collectively made a plan on how to execute it.

They knew that they wanted the reception to be in front of three of the five camping cabins. The three were on level ground, while the remaining two cabins were down a slight incline. When partying, dancing and alcohol are involved, it’s rather important that level ground is also involved.

The first cabin was to be the bar, the middle was for the band and dance floor and the third was my staging cabin for the food, with a buffet dinner set-up directly in front of it.

Along with the cabins and camping facilities, the park also has three recreation areas. Each has a full kitchen, restroom, playground and a lighted ramada with picnic tables. We had Rec. 2 – Pine Knoll. The stone and wood lodge was built in 1983 and has electricity, hot and cold water, a sink, refrigerator, stove-oven, wood burning stove and two tables to use as work area.

Rec. 2 was up a steep switchback road from the camping cabins. I can’t even count how many times I drove from the camping cabins up to Rec. 2 and then back down again. My cabin for the weekend was the fourth of the camping cabins. That will come into play in later descriptions of the wedding weekend. Although, I spent the majority of my time inside Rec. 2. Not a bad place to work for a weekend!

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June 18, 2018   No Comments