Day 139: Red Robin’s Blue Moon Shake (or a reasonable facsimile thereof)

Call this another dish for the “12 Dishes to Master” list.  My wife had this shake while out for dinner a few weeks back and was craving another tonight.

The windows are open and we’re sitting on the front step.  The heat is still lingering an hour past sundown, the birds are chirping and the humidity is tolerable.  Off in the distance, there are a few dim flashes of lightning as summer thunderstorms roll angrily across the horizon.  As we laze and soak up this fine summer evening, I’m proud to say I think I’ve cracked the recipe for the Blue Moon Shake from Red Robin.


Photo from Red Robin. My styling would not be as gorgeous.

How I made mine (tip: You’ll need an immersion blender).

Cointreau Orange Liquer
Blue Moon Belgian Wheat Beer
Orange Juice
Vanilla Ice Cream

Place 5-6 good large scoops of ice cream into a tall glass.  Add one shot of Cointreau, half a bottle of Blue Moon, and a splash and a half of orange juice.  The exact amount of orange juice varies according to your taste, so play around.  Submerge the immersion blender in the glass and blend until creamy.  Top with whipped cream, if desired.

Another tip…chill your Cointreau, orange juice and beer together in the refrigerator so that everything is cold.  This will help make sure you wind up with more of a shake than a cold juice mix.

Final tip…Use quality, full-fat creamy ice cream to achieve the perfect taste.


As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 136: Amy’s Baking Company – A Lesson in Criticism

Ever seen a full-fledged self-inflicted meltdown?  If you’d like, spend 20 minutes to watch the second half of Kitchen Nightmares from last week.  Without a doubt, you’ll get a shock.

If you don’t have 20 minutes (regretfully, because this is almost must-watch TV), I’ll distill it in concise bullet points:

  • Gordon Ramsey, chef and TV personality, was brought in to Amy’s Baking Company to help save a failing restaurant.
  • The owners, Sammy and Amy – but most specifically head chef Amy- appear to be the most stubborn and pig-headed people you will come across between here and Timbuktu.
  • When Ramsey tried to help, she refused it, threw a fit, then another fit followed by another and another…
  • She lied to customers, fired a waitress for asking which table food was supposed to go to, and refused to listen to constructive criticism about her food.
  • Ultimately, Ramsey walked out of a restaurant for the first time in the show’s history (almost 100 episodes), refusing to help.

So why bring up a TV show?

Well, to be perfectly honest, because it’s a beautiful lesson in self-delusion.  Amy deflected every single piece of criticism leveled at her by blaming others, attempting to turn the tables, and acting offended.  According to the show, she and her husband have fired more than 100 employees in the last year alone.  Judging by her actions (and his) on camera, I wouldn’t doubt that the figure is pretty close to accurate.

Furthermore, Amy and Sammy took to the glorious interwebz to begin to attack everyone who commented on the show and their portrayal, via Facebook, Yelp, Reddit and Twitter.  The posts are clearly the work of someone who believes themselves to be infallible, complete with putdowns, threats and name-calling.  Judging by what I saw on the show, it’s not a stretch to believe who is behind the posts (hint: I think there is an A, M and a Y in the name).  And finally, to top the entire thing off, the couple tried to spin everything that occurred in the last 6 days as being the work of a hacker.  Interestingly, their responses after the hack claim bear striking similarities to those that are the work of the supposed hacker.

Once again…why bring this up?  Sometimes we can’t be told how we should handle a situation, we have to be shown how not to handle a situation.  In this case, the situation warranted constructive criticism.  Amy’s dishes were subpar, thus her restaurant was failing.  Overlay your own personal experience with a difficult situation.  Do you react the same way?  Do you deflect blame?  Do you make excuses?  Do you refuse to listen to someone who is trying to help you?

Lord knows I’ve done all three.  I’m the last person to tell you how you need to react.  I’ve had moments in my personal life and moments in my professional life where I lashed out because I felt hurt over a failure.  Part damaged pride, part guilt for failure, but it was all my reaction.  I’ve had to learn the hard way to admit when I am wrong, and I still don’t do it all the time.

That is perhaps our biggest failure as a species.  Our failure to admit when we are wrong.  We come up with all sorts of excuses.  We blame others.  We scapegoat.  We lash back in anger.  And ultimately, we fail.  If we could learn to listen to criticism with an open ear in the first place, and do so without allowing our feelings to get hurt, we could avoid so much prolonged pain and suffering.

It remains to be seen how Amy’s Baking Company fares.  My gut tells me this one will go down in flames.  There will be more people actively seeking to bring the restaurant down than there will be loyal customers.  Call it public schadenfreude, call it mass retribution, call it whatever you want.  The failure to grasp social media will ultimately be Amy and Sammy’s private waterloo, ending a losing campaign that began with a food blogger’s poor review in 2010.

The lesson for you and me:  handle the critics gracefully.  You never know when America will be watching.

Day 92: One Quarter In


keep-calm-and-check-progress-5So now that I am one-quarter of the way through this year, I took the opportunity to revisit some of my goals to see where I stand…

Physically:  I’ve been able to get a workout in every single day.  Some days, that workout consists of 50 pushups as I get ready to crawl into bed.  Some days it’s a full, heavy weight session at the gym.  But I’ve done some sort of muscle punishing workout every single day.  I’ve seen some results, too.  Nothing too tremendous, but enough that I’m happy with my progress.


Day 4


Day 89

No, I’m probably never going to be huge.  I resigned myself to that my senior year of high school.  Nor do I want to, as my wife claims she doesn’t like overly muscular dudes.  So that’s good.  But I am happy with my results so far.


I’ve completed a number of books so far, but I’m slightly behind pace.  I realize that, but I’m not freaking out too badly by that, because when I get into a fiction book, I usually devour it.


I’m pleased with my progress.  I’ve made a desk, learned to identify a lot of birds (which reminds me, we’ve seen our first robin in the yard), and I’m progressing towards my first belt in karate.


Again, pleased with where I am.  I’m slightly off pace, but that will all change as rugby season comes into full swing this spring.  I run a lot during the spring and fall seasons.  So anywhere that I am behind, I will make it up very soon.  In addition, we’ve got our first adventure race of the season coming up in two weekends.  I’m excited to be running with my wife.  Also, I love my Vibram Five Fingers.

People Who Matter:
I’m a little behind on this, but several upcoming posts include more than one person, so I will be back to pace very shortly.

So that’s it.  A brief look at the first quarter.  I’m sure I could be more in depth, but none of this matters to you.  What really matters here is you.  Is this inspiring you to do something better?  Does it help you continue on a path you’ve wanted to walk?  In the end, that’s what I hope to do…inspire you.


As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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Day 49: Pasta Night

“Cooking is about passion, so it may look slightly temperamental in a way that it’s too assertive to the naked eye.”
-Gordon Ramsey

Knocked out the first of my 12 dishes tonight, one month behind schedule.  We had homemade ravioli tonight.    Believe it or not, despite the fact that I cook often, made it onto TV by cooking pasta, and enjoy all modes of Italian cuisine, I have yet to master ravioli.  I have no idea why I’ve never really tried ravioli (none whatsoever) but I knew I had to wipe it off my to-do’s this year.  Thus, it was A#1 on my list of my 12 Meals to Master.

I’m not going to go into depth regarding recipes and cooking methods on this blog.  There are plenty of other places out there where work of the kitchen can be expounded upon.  Here is not one of them.  This is simply my way of telling you that I forced myself into catching up on one of the goals that I had fallen behind on.

Yes, it was simply cooking; an easy-to-achieve goal.  But sometimes those are the hardest goals to stick to.  We think that the ease of attainment makes it ok to ignore the goal until we’re ready.  We begin to procrastinate, since tomorrow is just as easy as today.  Somewhere down the road, it fails to ever take center stage, and we wind up forgetting about our goal until it is too late.


I’ve been guilty of this already.  I’ve been so focused on my working out, my reading, and some of the other goals that I completely forgot I was supposed to be cooking some new dishes.  I went back and opened up the first few pages of my journal tonight to review my goals and see where I am falling behind.  My stovetop is not the only place.

So, I’m making it a point to check back in on my list every few weeks to see where I stand.  I think this is a good idea regardless of how big or small your goals may be.  One should always hold themselves accountable by putting their thoughts, goals and actions into writing.  Then, be sure to check back in and be honest with yourself:  are you living up to the action end of your bargain with yourself?

Are you?

As always: This is simply my journal as I try to better myself. I hope it inspires you to focus on yourself. Make 2013 YOUR year.
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