And in Breaking Taco Bell News…

It’s no secret that here at ES we have a weird soft spot for Taco Bell. Here’s the latest thing that caught my eye. Do you want Taco Bell but also want dessert? And ALSO you’re at the grocery store? Well, I have just the product for you…

Taco Bell Dessert Package

Taco Bell dessert kits! Is this new or is my local HEB just now getting it in stock? Either way: what? Why did the world need this? Who is buying this as part of their weekly grocery shopping? And, more importantly, which option would you choose: Cinnamon Nachos or Chocolate Taco? I think I’m more of a Cinnamon Nachos girl, myself.

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Apps vs. Cash Money: How Do You Pay Your Tab?

Winflo Osteria Austin Pizza
I guess it’s not fair to say I had lunch with Tabbedout because, more accurately, I had lunch with Ashley, a longtime ES reader/commenter and fellow blogger  (at Quarter Life (Crisis) Cuisine) who recently moved to Austin! She just happens to also work in marketing for Tabbedout.

Have you used Tabbedout before? I’d heard of it, but never actually used it or even saw it in action before Ashley met me for lunch. (Speaking of lunch, shout out to the lovely Winflo Osteria and their ultra-delicious Neapolitan-style pizzas. See above for evidence of their glory.) Anyway, it’s basically an app that helps you easily split and pay your bill at various bars and restaurants. Usually when I’m trying to split a bill with friends and we don’t have cash or whatever, one of us will put everything on their card and then the rest of us will Venmo whoever paid. This cuts out the middleman, which is pretty nice.

Unlike my beloved Venmo (my friends and I seriously use that for everything from paying rent to buying concert tickets to splitting Thai takeout), Tabbedout is specifically for dining in restaurants and bars. It’s pretty easy to use, too – first, you download the app, make yourself a little profile, and load in your credit card information. Then when you’re at an establishment that takes Tabbedout, you just let your server know you want to open a TO tab, then at the end of the night (or whenever you’re ready to go) you just pay directly through your phone. You don’t even have to wait to ask for your check.

So is this it? As time goes on and technology advances, apps like Tabbedout and will become even easier to use and accepted by more and more restaurants. What do you think – is cash money basically becoming obsolete these days?

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The Best/Worst New Invention for Your Summer 2014 Drinking Agenda

BeatBox Booze

Cool, look, a new stereo system!

No, wait, it’s just sugary pre-made cocktails in a candy-colored boombox packaging. Who needed wine in a box when you can have “wine-based cocktails” in a Beatbox? I was too afraid to purchase and taste-test for myself when I saw these at my local HEB, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t pretty curious. If these aren’t 100% horrible, I could see myself ironically bringing some to a summer pool party this year.

The three flavors I’ve seen, ranked from most to least offensive:
3. Blue Razzberry Lemonade (“raspberry” spelled with not one, but two Zs!)
2. Box A’Rita (you can’t make a real margarita with wine, come on now)
1. Cranberry Limeade (it’s the one that sounds least like Guy Fieri named it, so I have to give it my thumbs up)

Someone out there has tried these, right? Y’all know my affinity for funny/novelty cheap packaged booze. Tell me if the joke is worth it.

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Food Porn Bonanza: Franklin BBQ Edition

If you’re a BBQ lover, you’ve probably heard of Aaron Franklin, owner of Franklin Barbecue and the dude who makes brisket so delicious that all the food magazines/TV shows rave about it and people will wait 3+ hours in line to get their hands on some. Franklin Barbecue has only been open since 2009, originally a little trailer, but it’s already become an Austin legend. 

Last week I attended LiveFire, a big BBQ event out in Texas Hill Country, and of course Franklin was there serving up his meat to a long, long line of people. The dish? “Beef plate with ribs and smoked pimiento cheese.” The meat was tender and fatty (in a good way) and the pimiento cheese was straight-up crazy good.

So, now that you have the backstory, here’s just a few up close and personal moments with Franklin’s meat.

IMG_1334 IMG_1335 IMG_1336 IMG_1338

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Getting Tropical with Coconut Water Vodka

I”ve been a fan of coconut water for years. It”s basically nature”s Gatorade: super hydrating and full of electrolytes. So, what better way to improve upon it than by turning it into something hella dehydrating that saps you of your energy? That”s right, I”m talking about sweet, sweet alcohol. There have been some coconut water cocktail recipes popping up around the Internet, and now Three Olives has taken it one step further by introducing a Coconut Water flavored vodka. Three Olives clearly knows I am a connoisseur of both coconut water and booze, so they sent me this huge sample pack to review.

Coconut Water Vodka Elvis Edition

Yes, Three Olives Coconut Water vodka is Elvis-themed. Why? According to the press pack:

Three Olives Vodka honors Elvis Presley with this refreshing Coconut Water Flavored Vodka to celebrate his long standing love affair with Hawaii and his legendary style and groundbreaking performances that have transcended time.

Hm. Okay, I”ll take it.

They”re not kidding about the COCONUT smell and taste here. If you”re not a coconut lover, this might not be the vodka for you. But! If you love sweet, tropical drinks, this could be your new magic ingredient. To be 100% honest, I”m not sure what the difference between coconut vodka and coconut water vodka is, but oh well. I”m guessing casino online they”re just riding the wave of the trend, and that”s fine. Anyway, here”s a cocktail two ways: the Three Olives version and my personal version. This is very sweet and coconutty, so cut it with some unflavored vodka and/or more soda water if you want it milder.

Coconut Water Vodka Cocktail Pour

 The Elvis

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Gro Something Greater This Spring

gro

Can winter pleeease be over already? Don’t know about ya’ll, but we are VERY ready for some warm weather….and to start growing some food that is not Brussels sprouts or potatoes (no offense Brussels sprouts or potatoes, but enough is enough). Endless Simmer is stoked to be part of Miracle Gro’s Grow Something Greater campaign, where we joined bloggers and others to gab about what we love to grow, from pesto to wonder, and of course, in our case, sandwiches.

We also know that for some of you, growing food can be as intimidating as baking. Don’t worry, we’ve got your back.

New to growing? Share your own story about what you’re planning to grow this spring and we’ve got a Grow Kit from Miracle-Gro with a bunch of great gardening gizmos to help one lucky grower get started.

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Salt Block Root Beer Steak

satlblock

You’re probably wondering what a salt block root beer steak is, and you’d be right to, because well..until now, that has definitely not been a thing.

Here’s what happened: I had two exciting new products burning a whole in my kitchen, waiting to be used.

1) My still unused Christmas present: a Himalayan pink salt block from the Meadow. Salt blocks allow you to cook foods at 600-degree temperatures, while the salt rapidly sears proteins, caramelizes sugar, and yes, adds a wee bit of salty deliciousness. By the way, this is how beautiful it looks before you get into the nitty gritty of grilling on it:

salt block

2) A bottle of McCormick Root Beer Concentrate that came my way as part of McCormick’s Flavor of Together program, a yearlong initiative to share 1.25 million stories about how flavor both unites and defines people across the globe.

So, what exactly is root beer concentrate? Well, it’s kind of like vanilla extract, except instead of vanilla it adds a dash of root beer flavor to whatever you’re cooking.

In 1889, Willoughby M. McCormick went door to door selling one of McCormick & Company’s first products, Root Beer Extract. From there, the product quickly rose in popularity and led to a trending sensation of root beer floats and root beer home brewing in the early 1900s. In 2014, McCormick marks its 125th anniversary by celebrating the role flavor plays in all of our lives, inspiring flavorful conversation, and giving back to communities around the world. They asked me to come up with my own Root Beer Concentrate recipe…and clearly I was not going to make a plain old root beer float.

I’ve glazed meat in coke before, so I figured, why not root beer meat?

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