Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Favorite Foodie Products - Ashley's Favorites of 2019


Happy (belated) New year, everyone! I hope 2020 is off to a good start. After the madness that was 2019 for me, I am happy to report that the new year has been pretty good to me so far.

As you may have noticed, in recent months I've changed my content a bit. The reasoning? I just don't have much time for recipe development lately. Plus, I've found my little following is a bit more interested in my reviews. I don't ever want to give up on recipes, but I thought I'd try out more lists and longer content and see what sticks. It's definitely easier than having to develop, photograph, and edit a recipe each week!

Also, I do comedy in my spare time. Sooo maybe that should find its way into my blog? Who knows.

Anyway, I've been wanting to do a few 2019 roundup lists, and what better way to start than by sharing the products that made my kitchen even tastier!

Note: None of these lead to affiliate links (unless noted) and I don't make any money off sharing or you buying.

Ashley's Top 2019 Food Products

Truffle Zest
You know that slogan, "I put that shit on everything"? Well, I think it applies even MORE here. I impulse-bought this little jar of deliciousness at the behest of an internet list and I am so very glad I did. I'm not one of those beyond-snooty foodies who claim truffle is cheating. If it's tasty, it's tasty. Try it on veggies or roasted potatoes (my favorite is brussels sprouts!) for an out of this world flavor experience.

Dash Mini Waffle Maker
Man, I love dash. Such cool, inexpensive little gadgets! I won this little waffle maker in a white elephant gift exchange and it is now an integral part of my weekly brunch. I love that I don't have to lug out my whole huge waffle iron for a quick breakfast! Bonus, you can make hashbrowns or fun omelettes as well.

Dash Rapid Egg Cooker
Another Dash product! This has been a godsend for cooking quick, peel-able hard-boiled eggs and effortless poached eggs! The timer is based on how much water is in the cooker, and it sings you a little song when you're done. Pro tip: measure the liquid amount in the little cup they give you, so in case you lose it (like I did, d'oh!) you know how much water to use for each kind of egg.

Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning
This isn't my favorite of 2019 per say, but it is my favorite seasoning of all time. I put it on veggies, meats, non-meats, basically anything I want to jazz up a bit. Not too spicy, just a bit of a zing and savory salt flavor to really enhance a side dish. It's also a great secret ingredient to chowders! I just discovered they have a salt free option, which is a great idea for those of us looking to make better health habits in 2020.

Imperfect Produce (this contains the only referral code of the post!)
I cannot reccommend this enough! I LOVE Imperfect Produce! I've done a ton of Farmshare and veggie boxes in the past and while I love the idea of supporting local farms, Imperfect definitely gives you the biggest bang for your buck in regards to vegetable quantity and variety of additional products. Plus it helps reduce food waste! Use my code to sign up (via that link) and we'll both get a lil discount on our next box.

Instant Pot
It took me a while to get on the Instant Pot train. And, to be honest, I don't really do a ton of full one-pot dinners in this thing. I like to taste my meals as I cook, add things throughout, and the IP doesn't really allow for much improvisation in that regard with it's "set it and forget it" method. What I've really enjoyed, though, is that it makes cooking time-consuming staples (rice, quinoa, potatoes, lentils) SO much quicker! I simply add the dry ingredients and the liquid, and in under 10 minutes I have as much as I want. Definitely a kitchen MVP!

A friend of mine in the Austin Food Blogger Alliance created Wundernuggets as a nutrient-rich upgrade to her kids' favorite food: chicken nuggets. Story time: this year was rough. When I'm depressed, it's hard to eat. I kept a bag of these in my freezer all year as a quick dinner where I could force the appropriate nutrients into my body when I didn't have it in me to put through the effort. So I am super grateful I knew about these veggie packed nuggets! On a happier note, picky eaters will also find these great. The flavors are all awesome and I can't wait to see what comes next with this company!

Beyond Meat and The Impossible Burger
As you may know, I've drastically cut down my meat intake over the past year. But every now and then... you just need a burger. I am happy to report, these fit the bill. While there are different environmental factors that come into play with all the "meatless meats" hitting the market, it's good to have these on hand for a treat when you want to stick to a plant-based diet. I prefer the Impossible Burger, but you can only purchase it in restaurants. For an at-home version, Beyond Meat is the best on the market.

Takeya Cold Brew Iced Coffee Maker
I fell victim to another internet list BUT this is pretty awesome. Super easy--simply put the coffee grounds in the cyllander, fill with water, and let steep overnight. What results is a rich coffee that isn't bitter. I like it cold, but you can warm it up too. And after a week of forgetting to take out the grounds, it still hasn't leaked or changed the flavor.

Double Joy Select Coffee
I have a coffee maker. I have various French Presses. I don't always have the time to dedicate to brewing coffee. Nor do I have the budget for Starbucks Via, my usual go-to for instant coffee. I read the reviews on a number of instant options, and decided to try Double Joy. And thankfully, they lived up to the reviews! These are delicious, rich little coffee packets that are great to keep on hand for lazy days, travel, or in your desk in case the office coffee maker is on the fritz.

Mike's Mighty Good Ramen
Ramen is one of my favorite meals I never knew about until I moved to Austin. Since then, it's become super popular. With Mike's Mighty Good, I can get a restaurant-quality ramen base for only a few bucks that I can make at home! I love the vegetarian kimchi version, to which I add a pat of butter, corn, kimchi, scallions, lime, and a soft boiled egg. Sooo good!

That's all I have for now, but I'm sure I'll think of more. What was your favorite foodie discovery of 2019? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

A Decade in Review


Note: This was originally posted on my personal Facebook, but I felt compelled to share it here as well.

You guys, 2018 and 2019 were rough. Y'all have said you appreciate my honesty, and that's the honest truth: I am ready to put those years behind me. So many struggles--money, relationship, death, body image--I keep hoping the fresh start of 2020 will be a clean slate and that things will start looking up, that all family members will be safe and healthy, that I'll start chipping away at this debt mountain, that marriage will be smoother sailing from here on out, and that I'll love my curves as much as they deserve to be loved. Something's gotta give, and a new year is a great place to start. I've been avoiding an end of year post because the year and the one prior weren't great, though of course not without their bright points--probably the best being all the travel I did and ending the year with my family's first Texan Christmas.

But looking at the decade as a whole, I accomplished a whole lot. I joke that I'm "more impressive on paper than in person" in my charming self-deprecating manner, but I think if I can learn anything from this decade it's that I need to stop belittling my accomplishments. So, for those who are into this kind of thing, here is some high points from the past 10 years, in no real order.

  • Graduated with a BFA in Writing, Literature, and Publishing from Emerson College
  • Did a career change before I even started and got a solid job right out of college making a decent salary
  • Dove headfirst into Community Theater and kept my love of theater and musicals alive
  • Started two food blogs to moderate success
  • Moved into my first apartment
  • Came to terms with my sexuality (not straight, y'all) and stopped making excuses for it
  • Moved across the country MA > TX
  • Road tripped that drive at least 3 times
  • Started improv and sketch and a love of comedy
  • Played in at least 10 improv troupes, 3 sketch troupes, and too many shows to count
  • Wrote a sketch that won a little award and made people cry and laugh in the same breath
  • Became better friends with my mom
  • Lived with a partner for the first time
  • Got engaged
  • Got married
  • Attended weddings of so many wonderful friends
  • Was in a Netflix special (Mortified, I'm in two episodes as a street interview)
  • Read my childhood diaries onstage MULTIPLE TIMES
  • Accomplished a life goal of writing and publishing a book before I turned 30
  • OPRAH MAGAZINE MENTIONED MY BOOK, Y'ALL! (May 2017 "Cookbook of the Month") as well as The New York Times and various other publications
  • Came to terms with my mental health (anxiety and depression, woo!) and got treatment for it
  • Did yet another career change (writing > marketing > customer success)
  • Dyed my hair purple, pink, and purple and pink
  • Found a job that I adore in a company that is just amazing
  • Adopted 3 wonderful pets that I love with all my soul
  • Went abroad twice and traveled as much as I possibly could
  • Had my first solo trip
  • Took a dip in the Arctic Ocean
  • Ziplined through the rain forest
  • In the last year, cut down on eating meat by about 75%
  • Got 8 Tattoos, a few more piercings

Sending y'all positive vibes for this new year and new decade. I hope it's a great one for all of us