Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Chili Lime Beef Wraps: A Tale of Love, Loss, and Excuses

Looking at our blog from time to time and calculating the number of days that pass between entries sometimes, I could see how you would think we are lazy and never live up to our promises.

I could see that.

I could see it because, for the most part, you'd be right. A very successful, well-loved businessman in Cleveland, Umberto Fideli, once told me, "Always underpromise and overdeliver." He was speaking to a group of us on the topic of networking at a PR firm at which I was formerly employed. Mr. Fideli is someone that I greatly admire, and I took his words to heart. Why then, do we say that we'll do one thing on this blog and often do another? Well, for a few reasons.

First and foremost, you may have figured out at this point that I am in many ways the "captain" of this blog, having started it and, for the most part, having managed it over the course of its existence. I am not the most entertaining writer and I am not the best cook, but part of running something is knowing when to recruit people more talented than yourself. All of this being said, I get fanciful ideas about how to improve the blog from time to time, and in my zeal I share these ideas with you via blog posts. In my excitement, I often talk to Matty and Deering about how we could pump out more posts, try new recipes, improve our social media presence, and generally kick a bit more ass around here. They nod, say something along the lines of, "sounds good, man", and then go about their lives.

I do not fault my compatriots for being busy people, but the fact of the matter is that we are a bit too disorganized and generally tied-up to get a lot of stuff done around here. It isn't that we don't try - take the subject of this post, for instance. Matty, Britta, and I made "chili lime beef wraps" about a month ago, had a great time making them, and they even tasted pretty darn good. We had our girlfriends over for dinner while we made the wraps; it was a lot of fun. When it was all over, I talked to Matty and asked him to write up the post on the wraps and he agreed to. Here we are a month later now, the recipe has been lost (it was on one of those recipe cards you find around Heinen's or any other grocery store), and he never got around to writing the post.

The chili lime beef wraps were not the first casualty of our forgetfulness... We have made dishes before, some very intricate, expensive ones, even (especially when Deering is involved because he knows what he is doing more than we brothers do); we just forget to write up the posts, lose recipes, or can't recall details until it is too late to rectify the situation.

If you are reading this far and are thinking to yourself, "Boy, this is the longest excuse I've read all day", I feel for you. I'll cut out my ramblings soon enough; I just want to let you guys all know how things work around here. We haven't been fair to our readers, we haven't undertaken enough culinary projects, and we haven't got our crap together as far as organization is concerned. I'll ask that my fellow Conquistadors sign off on this post so that it is not simply one more "pseudo-promise" that we're going to go back on.

I am going to dedicate more time to making sure that this blog is something that I can be proud of at all times.

I know that blogging (at least for the vast majority of people) is about fun, and I intend to keep it that way. This isn't going to become work, but I still want to treat it with respect. I don't see us getting back any of the posts that we've "lost" in the past, but I also don't intend to let any more slip through the cracks. Conquistadors are adventurers, and sometimes you take a wrong turn or fall in a pit of quicksand/snakes/Alamo Soup. You gotta know how to learn from your mistakes and press on, more savvy than you started out.

Fall is a ballin' season and there are a lot of fun recipes (and beer pairings) to go along with it. Let's make the most of it and enjoy the culinary landscape this autumn, together.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Trudging Tacos

"Matty, are we Conquistadors or are we NORMAL people who think ideas through before rushing headlong into things?!"

"... You're right... I'll open the re-fried beans."


Thus the operation began.

I know that we said we were abandoning "The Best of School Lunch Week" as it was shaping up to be quite deleterious to our health. I do not deny  making these comments (which would be stupid, as they are easily found below this post). We almost were able to walk away, but it was turned out to be too difficult to quell our excitement over one of the items on the proposed list: WALKING TACOS.

Walking tacos are a young child's dream: a food that is crunchy, fattening, delicious, AND is ambulatory!* C'mon, where does putting a wad of meat, cheese, and lettuce in a bag of Doritos** NOT get fun?*** For one reason or another, the state has taken it's dear time cracking down on this old classic; I expect, however, that we'll see walking tacos disappearing off lunch menus soon enough. In anticipation of their imminent departure, let us once more pay our tributes to this simple, saturated snack.
*We have not directly witnessed the tacos walking to-date, but are assured that they do when you aren't looking. **I have also been informed that Fritos are sometimes used as a substitute for Doritos. This is inexcusable and is, I hypothesize, one of those crazy "Indiana" things you hear about on the news all the time. Can't take those people anywhere.***Yes, I am abusing my right to utilize subscripts. Eating walking tacos gets "not fun" when you are suddenly the only kid in gym class who has to sit out of that Star Wars game with the scooters and foam balls because your chubby rear won't fit on one. I can think of no worse punishment, personally.


Walking tacos are simple beasts to construct.

1. Get Doritos. Generally the small, individual packs are best, but if you want to save a few $ you can get a big bag and just eat off a plate instead of out of the bag. The taste will be the same, but the feeling of endeavoring toward something stupid that brings back such fond memories of childhood (e.g., digging in a tiny bag with a fork for something that a fork really can't pick up to begin with) may be entirely lost on you.

2. You'll want about 1lb. of ground beef or turkey for 6 individual bags of Doritos. I hadn't used turkey until today, but it is a bit healthier than the beef. Yes, yes, I know it's like shooting a wildfire with a Super Soaker and is hardly going to make a difference in a dish like this, but its a self-confidence boost. Brown the meat like you would any other time: put some oil in a skillet, add some chopped onions and maybe a bit of crushed garlic, and let the meat cook through as you poke at it now and then with a spatula. Add a packet of taco seasoning; any brand will do. The whole process shouldn't take much more than 10 minutes.

3. Either buy shredded cheddar cheese or do what we did: buy a big block of it and shred it yourself. Decide how much you'd want on a normal taco and translate that to the walking tacos. 

4. Again, either buy shredded lettuce or a head of lettuce to shred yourself. If you are like us and make a trip to Giant Eagle only to realize that they DO NOT SELL HEADS OF LETTUCE despite months a work to majorly expand their store and selection, you'll have to get the pre-shredded kind and grimace at how lazy you feel.

5. Add additional ingredients if you feel the need; anything that you would put on tacos. We selected a small can of diced green chilies and re-fried beans this time around. If you use re-fried beans, you'll want to heat them first: we put more oil in a second pan and glopped it all in to achieve this (three-fried beans?).

6. Open up your Doritos bag and slop everything in there. You'll feel very little like a foodie and very much like a proud armchair quarterback, but that's just the nature of the "dish".

7. Enjoy, overlooking feelings of guilt by assuring yourself you won't try this again for at least a year.


Walking tacos are very, very hard to screw up and thus saying, "they were good" seems almost unnecessary. The re-fried beans and chilies were a new addition for me, but that worked out pretty well too. If you're ever looking for something resembling homemade Taco Bell but can't wrangle up legitimate taco shells, this one may be for you. If you've never tried a walking taco, I suggest you do it once... just don't expect to run into them on many non-county fair menus.

If you detect a lack of enthusiasm on my part, it's not your imagination. Walking tacos DO taste delicious and bring back fond childhood memories for sure... I guess I have just come a long way since then. I've been doing my best to be working out, drinking lots of water and eating semi-healthily recently, so it is tough to eat something that just feels bad for me. Matty will probably read this and tell me to suck it up and enjoy things... he certainly enjoyed his share of the eats tonight. Meh. Consider me a wet blanket and go buy you some Doritos.


On an unrelated note, we've been very behind around here lately... Deering has been a bit of a phantom shifting between towns, Matty is tied up in a lot of extracurriculars/school stuff and I... well I haven't been as good as I could be either. I am looking forward to getting the team together to talk some Conquistador strategy and make some plans for moving forward. Stay tuned as we progress along those notes. Thanks, as always, for sticking with us this far!