Shrimp Tacos

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I have a serious love of Mexican food. I could eat it morning, noon and night and never get sick of it. Especially tacos – I love a good taco. For me, a taco is all about well-seasoned filling and lots of garnishes. Traditionally the meat in tacos has been braised or can take a while to cook, but my shrimp tacos can be ready in under 10 minutes, which might make it the world’s perfect taco.

The key to my shrimp tacos is the spice rub, as well as good quality corn tortillas. For the spice rub, the recipe below will give you more than you will need, but save it with your other spices and use it the next time you make these tacos or any type of fish or chicken. Think of it as a magical flavor dust with all its tasty seasoning

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The best part of all, these tacos are seriously healthy. Gluten-free because I found all corn tortillas, as well as pan seared the shrimp. They are so good, it is totally ok to eat two, three, or four at a time. Because honestly, who can eat just one taco?

If you don’t like shrimp, feel free to swap in a flaky white fish like cod or use chicken. Store bought garnishes make these tacos even easier.

Enjoy!

Shrimp Tacos
  • 1 Tbs. paprika
  • ½ Tbs. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • ½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 8 6" corn tortillas, warmed
  • Garnish: lime wedges, pickled vegetables, radish, Cotija cheese, sour cream and cilantro.
  • Serve with your favorite hot sauce.

Combine the first 9 ingredients in a small bowl. Toss 2 to 3 tablespoons of the spice mixture with shrimp and coat shrimp well. Reserve any remaining spice mixture for another use.

In a large sauté pan, preferably non-stick, sauté the shrimp for about 2 to 3 minutes or until shrimp is pink and firm to touch . While you are sautéing the shrimp place the corn tortillas, wrapped in a damp paper towel, in a warm oven for a minute or two to soften.

When shrimp are done, fill tortillas. Garnish with pickled vegetables, Cotija cheese, sour cream, radish and cilantro. Squeeze fresh lime wedges over tacos and serve with favorite hot sauce.

Serves 2 to 4

http://www.alifewelllivedblog.com/2015/04/23/shrimp-tacos/

Dutch Baby

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I love entertaining; having people over to my house to eat is one of my favorite pastimes. I think that is why I became a cook, because I love feeding people. Over the years I have figured out tips and tricks to make it easier on me and more delicious for my guests. One of the best tips is to have people over for brunch rather than dinner. Brunch is always a little more laid back and relaxed and I love serving recipes that can be done the day before. Enter the Dutch baby.

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A Dutch baby is a mix between a pancake and a crepe that is baked in the oven and comes out deliciously fluffy, puffy, crispy and a little gooey. It is also the perfect brunch food – not only is it a crowd pleaser with the height that it rises in the pan but it is also supper easy to make. The night before brunch, you add all the ingredients to a blender and blend really well. Refrigerate overnight and when you are almost ready to eat, pour the batter into a pan, bake and about 20 minutes later, you have a gorgeous Dutch baby. This is the kind of recipe that looks really hard but is super simple.

Consider the Dutch baby a blank canvas, like a crepe or a pancake and add different toppings and flavors to the batter. I like to top mine with crème fraiche and berries, but lemon zest in the batter would be delicious, as would apple slices.

Head on over to my column on Sacramento Street to check out the recipe.

Sriracha Deviled Eggs

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If you have ever picked up a vintage cookbook there will undoubtedly be a recipe for deviled eggs. Deviled eggs have been around for years, even decades, and I don’t see them going anywhere. They are a classic appetizer that is perfect for entertaining or just plan snacking. They also are the perfect finger food. Although the classic recipe is delicious, I have updated my deviled eggs by adding some sriracha, curry powder and bacon. All three flavors come together to create a smooth, spicy and hearty deviled egg.

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If you are unfamiliar with sriracha, it is a Thai chili paste that adds a touch of heat and lots of flavor to whatever you are cooking. Paired with a sweet curry powder and salty bacon, this is one amazing deviled egg.

So with Easter coming up and spring and summer outdoor parties in sight, whip up a batch of these delicious deviled eggs and remember why deviled eggs will always be the perfect appetizer.

Tip: There are a couple ways to get those pesky shells off the hard-boiled eggs—fresh eggs are harder to peel. Using slightly older eggs are easier to peel. I also crack the eggs gently after they have been boiled and let them sit in cold water overnight.

Enjoy!

Sriracha Deviled Eggs
  • 1/2 dozen large eggs
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1 - 2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 2 strips bacon, cooked and crumbled

In a large pot or sauté pan, cover the eggs with cold water and bring to a boil. Remove the pot from the heat, cover, and let sit for exactly 14 minutes. Place the eggs into a bowl of ice water to cool. Gently tap the eggs with the back of a spoon and let the eggs sit in water for a couple hours or overnight to help loosen the shell. When ready to serve remove the shell.

Using a thin, sharp knife, cut the eggs in half lengthwise.

Remove the egg yolks into a medium bowl and mash with a fork. Stir in the mayonnaise, Sriracha, curry powder and 3 tablespoons of the chives, mixing until very smooth.

Transfer the yolk mixture to a pastry bag fitted with a star or plain tip, or a zip-top bag (with the corner cut off). Set the egg whites on a serving platter and pipe in the filling.

Just before serving, sprinkle the deviled eggs with bacon crumbles and remaining chives.

Makes 12 servings.

http://www.alifewelllivedblog.com/2015/04/03/sriracha-deviled-eggs/

Food Styling Workshop

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I am hosting a food styling workshop! I am really excited to team up with Fullosophie here in SF and teach a workshop on the basics of food styling, shooting pictures with your iPhone, as well as teach some easy Spring recipes.

If you are local or just want an excuse to come to SF – Here are the details:

When: Sunday April 12th from 10:30am  – 1:00pm

Where: Fullosophie headquarters (2860 Laguna St. San Francisco)

Why: Because who doesn’t love taking pictures of food!

Good Eggs is also joining in on the food styling fun and is supplying fresh produce and goodies for the workshop.

Hope to see you there!

Tortilla Soup

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I have a serious love of Mexican food and could eat it food for days on end and be completely happy. There is a local Mexican restaurant near my house and I get take out from there way too much. I try and convince myself that is it healthy because of all the fresh flavors, but too much of a good thing might be a bad thing right? Maybe but hopefully not in this case. I don’t just limit my love of Mexican food and flavors to tacos and margaritas, but also braises, salads and soups. This tortilla soup has everything I love about Mexican food, bright flavors, fresh ingredients and delicious toppings.

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Soups are so underrated sometimes. They are great make ahead meals that can be reheated and eaten a couple days after. Not to mention frozen and saved for future meals. I love this tortilla soup because it is easy, there is minimal prep, and it is delicious, healthy and satisfying. Plus I love any recipe that I can customize with some delicious toppings of my choice.

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Head on over to my column on Sacramento Street to check out the recipe.

Milk Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Tarts

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I am not a huge chocolate dessert person. Given the option I will always choose a berry or lemon dessert over a chocolate bomb. It is just too heavy. But do you know what I  love – chocolate bars. I will take any kind of chocolate bar I can find. These days I am loving Seatles Chocolate and Chocolove. I can’t leave the grocery store without at least a couple in my cart. But don’t give me any of that dark chocolate stuff, I want milk chocolate. With lots of crunchy bits like rice krispies, toffee and nuts in it. Totally bad for you but so freaking delicious. I thought I would create a dessert that pays homage to my love of milk chocolate bars. This milk chocolate carmel pretzel tart is just like eating a chocolate bar, but may be even better.

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Here is a secret, tarts are really easy to make. Way easier than cakes and pies. It all has to do with the crust. No need to roll out pie dough or make a short crust, you can use anything you want as the crust for a tart. I chose pretzels, but you can use graham crackers, Nila wafers or even potato chips. You can also make this tart gluten free really easily by using gluten free pretzels instead of regular.  Just throw them in a food processor with a little melted butter and a couple teaspoons of sugar, press into a tart shell, give a quick bake and you are good to go.

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You can fill tarts with just about anything – these days I am loving ricotta or mascarpone but for this dessert I chose melted milk chocolate, a little salted caramel and some flaky sea salt. Totally perfect. If you don’t have mini tarts, this will fill a 9″ tart shell. Feel free to use semi-sweet or dark chocolate or any other filling you want.

Enjoy!

Milk Chocolate Caramel Pretzel Tarts
  • 1 1/4 sticks of butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups crushed pretzels (crushed in a food processor)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz milk chocolate
  • 1/2 cup salted caramel
  • flaky sea salt

Preheat oven to 325°F.

Lightly spray 6 4” tart shells with non-stick baking spray. Place the tart pan on a baking sheet. (If you don’t have mini tart pans, this recipe will work in a 9” tart pan)

In the bowl of a food processor add crushed pretzels, melted butter and sugar. Pulse until the mixture looks like wet sand. Divide the crumb mixture equally among the prepared tart pans. Using your fingers or the bottom of a small metal measuring cup, press the mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan.

Bake the tarts on a baking sheet for about 10 minutes then set aside to cool completely.

In a medium saucepan, bring the cream to a simmer. Off the heat, add the milk chocolate and let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk until smooth. Set aside and let chocolate cool for about 30 minutes. Assemble the tarts by pouring 2 tablespoons salted caramel into the bottom of the tart crusts. Pour chocolate ganache on top and repeat with remaining tarts. Sprinkle tarts lightly with sea salt and crushed pretzels and refrigerate until set, at least 4 hours. .

http://www.alifewelllivedblog.com/2015/03/16/milk-chocolate-caramel-pretzel-tarts/

One Pot Orecchiette Pasta

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One of my favorite days in cooking school was the day we learned how to make fresh pasta. I love the process of getting your hands dirty with flour, water and egg. I also love that you can create such amazing dishes that all start with these simple everyday ingredients.

When we first learned how to make orecchiette I was obsessed. Orecchiette is Italian for “little ear” because of the shape of the pasta. I favor orecchiette over other types of pasta because of the chewiness.  Made with semolina and water, orecchiette has this delicious bite to it that makes it feel heartier.
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Since homemade orecchiette is pretty easy, I was making it all the time. Now that I am not in cooking school and working full time, I have less time to make fresh pasta at home, but my love for orecchiette has not faded

In this delicious one-pot orecchiette pasta dish, I have paired orecchiette with tomatoes, eggplant, Italian sausage, mozzarella and mint. Totally delicious and satisfying. If you can’t find Japanese eggplant, swap for a regular eggplant. The same goes for the golden balsamic. I prefer golden balsamic over regular balsamic because it not as overpowering, but this is totally your preference, as well as what you have in your house.
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 Head on over to Sacramento Street to check out the recipe. 

Kitchen Renovation

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This past December and January were spent renovating our kitchen. When we bought our house, the kitchen needed some serious love. It was dated and small and since the kitchen is the heart of the home, we needed to put some time into making it a centerpiece of the house, not an afterthought. Since it is all complete with no major disasters, I wanted to share some pictures here.
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The focal point was our stove. The vintage 1953 Wedgewood came with the house. I hated it at first because it was so big and slightly awkward with separate ovens, but now I love it and can’t imagine cooking on another range. In my mind this stove is like a classic car, they just aren’t build like this anymore with copper, chrome and ceramic.  Also, these stoves were originally built in Oakland/East Bay of San Francisco and I love keeping that bit of history with the house. So keeping in mind the white and chrome stove we built the kitchen around it.
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We replaced our old cabinets with new ones. Since the kitchen is pretty small, we tried to maximize space by getting custom cabinets. We also replaced our countertop with Ceasarstone in Frosty Carina. I love the look of marble but didn’t want to worry about staining or damaging it when I cooked. Ceasarstone is a fabricated quartz material that is super durable and can handle the serious mess I can make in the kitchen.
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I kept the wall color the same and got a big farm-house sink. We also relocated the refrigerator which freed up a window that it was blocking.
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No kitchen these days is complete without subway tile right? I am in love and if you haven’t noticed it is my backdrop for all of my food pictures these days.
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I love that my sink is surrounded by windows. The house came like that and it makes doing the dishes so much easier when you can stare outside. Plus it lets some great light in for all of my food pictures.
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I had a fantastic contractor who made this whole process relatively easy. I say relatively easy because having to wash your dishes with a hose in the yard and having a layer of dust everywhere, is not the best, but all things considered it was pretty painless.
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Next project, the backyard. Stay tuned, this one might take a little longer.

In case you are interested, here are some resources from the renovation:

Countertops – Cearsarstone in Frosty Carina

Cabinets – Custom cabinets from Affordable Quality Cabinets here in the Bay Area but they are the Colombia brand

Sink – Blanco

Fridge – Fisher and Paykel

Dishwasher – Miele

Subway Tile – Daltile Rittenhouse Square from Home Depot