Sunday, January 12, 2014

Taco Bell's Grilled Stuft Nachos, a review

The idea of Taco Bell's newish Grilled Stuft Nachos made me laugh. It's like CiCi's macaroni and cheese pizza. So many carbs. But I like nachos, and I like tortillas, so it was worth a shot.

The website advertised that the nacho pocket is 7 inches by 7 inches (halved, because it's a triangle) for $1.29. So, even if it stunk, it's not like I'd have wasted a lot of cash.

And here's the deal: It didn't taste bad. It was actually pretty good. But it stunk. Literally.

When I pulled away from the drive-through, the nacho pocket was on top of the bag, and a scent of damp sick wafted up from my lap. I mentioned to Daphne, "This food smells like barf." She agreed that it did.

We got home and I pulled everything out... yep, it was definitely the Grilled Stuft Nachos that smelled weird. I think it's the "grill." It smelled like something steamed, but not well. Like steamed in an old, dirty sock.

It looked neat though.

It's basically a giant tortilla folded into a triangle and pressed in a steam bath/grill. I was very hungry and forgot to take a picture before I took a bite (yes, I ate it because sometimes things that stink taste good... like cheese, and cooked broccoli or cauliflower, etc.).

It is seasoned beef, nacho cheese sauce, a second zesty nacho sauce, red tortilla strips, and sour cream.

All together, it tasted a lot like almost everything else from Taco Bell, if you get it "supremed." Which is to say: not stellar, but not terrible.

Dat smell, doe.

It is still assaulting my nasal passages, and I finished eating this more than an hour ago. Time for some field research...

Nope. Of the three reviews I read, no one mentioned a vomit smell. One said it smelled delicious, like a crunch wrap. Well, then, I feel ripped off.

Also, two mentioned that theirs weren't folded properly and fell apart. Mine held its structural integrity well, even though I opened it for a picture. Also, some people's had their toppings evenly distributed instead of in strips, which I think would make this more pleasant to eat.

Anyway, go for it. It won't kill you. Just don't inhale first.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Another Bike Ride

In addition to making something that might give me (or you) a cardiac infarction (see prior post), I also took a bike ride today.

Here's the video. Hope you like it! A couple of notes:

1) They're building EVERYWHERE in Austin right now. So many cranes.
2) On the Lamar Pedestrian Bridge, I met a man who is 82 years old and said he remembered standing on the street bridge before the pedestrian/bike one was put in, in 1942, and that zero of the buildings I was filming were part of the landscape at that time. After we chatted, he said he had to keep moving because he was pretty sure that they don't allow anyone over the age of 50 to live in Austin.
3) There's a sign visible briefly in the dog park at Ladybird that says "Thanks for the nice improvements I can poop on!"
4) See one of the ubiquitous Segway tours on Congress?
5) Krueger's Jewelers is where we got James' dad's wedding ring resized for James.
6) The last clip is of a guitar store currently under construction, so close to our house that I fear for our bank account.
7) Beside that is Aish's veterinarian. Lots of the old houses around here actually are businesses, which explains why so many people mistake the Nuthaus for an office.

Anti-Resolution Bars, my January 1 creation

While everyone else was thinking toward virtuosity today, I decided to go in the other direction and make some very decadent dessert bars.

First layer: chocolate chip cookie base. 

Obviously, I used Christmas M&Ms (that I'd bought on sale at CVS after Christmas) and sort of used this recipe, except that I meant to half the recipe but I forgot after the butter. So, basically, it's that recipe with half the butter. I thought it was an interesting touch to dissolve the baking powder in water before mixing it in with the liquid ingredients. I might do this all of the time, because it helps you to know whether your baking powder is active or not.

After baking the crust, I made caramel using this recipe. The only difference is that I didn't have light corn syrup, so I used dark. It was delicious.

I didn't use all of the caramel. I only wanted to put a thin layer on the crust, so I got to refrigerate about half of the caramel for later use!

I wanted the third layer to be brownies, and considered baking the brownies in the Springform pan, but was concerned that it would degrade the caramel, or that the caramel and brownie might bake together. So instead, I baked the brownie batter separately. I did correctly halve this deep-dish brownie recipe to make what I needed for the dessert.

To top the whole thing off, I made a water ganache. This is the easiest thing. Just melt chocolate chips, and then stir in a couple of tablespoons of warm water at a time until you reach the consistency you want. At first, yes, the chocolate will seize up and you'll think that you did something wrong and ruined everything. You didn't. Using water instead of heavy cream helps the chocolate flavor stay strong. You can add chili powder (not with other spices; just chili; check your labels!) or red pepper or cinnamon (which I added).

Hats off to those of you who started eating healthier today! :) 

New Year's Eve at Auditorium Shores (remotely)

Last night, there was a big New Year's Eve party down at Ladybird Lake, with a fireworks finale at Auditorium Shores at 10:00 PM.

We went out for a delicious fondue dinner very early in the evening...

There used to be a Melting Pot downtown. I'm sad that we had to drive to get to this one, but it was a good meal. And we were home before 8:00, our desire to avoid crazy traffic later.

The other day, I'd noticed that a pretty nondescript parking garage near the Nuthaus probably had a really cool view of the city from the rooftop. Daphne and I had thought about checking it out, but the exterior stairwell was gated shut. We weren't motivated enough to try the interior entry, but last night, it seemed like if we managed to get up on the roof, we should be able to see the fireworks at the lake.

This is but one reason I love technology. We looked up the sight lines on Google Maps 3D.

We were intending to stand where the green "a" is. The fireworks were where the purple directions line ends, near the tall building toward the middle of the picture. It seemed like we should be able to see the fireworks, not obscured by the buildings downtown.

At 9:45, we walked over to the garage, entered through the parking gate, and went up a couple of flights of stairs. Then we walked to the exterior stairwell and went up to the roof. It was a pretty view without fireworks!

Surprisingly, at exactly 10:00, IN AUSTIN, the fireworks started. We'd picked a great vantage point!

After the fireworks had started, two other families showed up on the roof with us, all with smaller children. The fireworks lasted for a good twelve minutes or so, and when they were over, we made it back home by 10:18, never having to deal with crowds or traffic or anything like that.

It was a great way to ring in the new year! Love our neighborhood!