Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Taco Tuesday - Shrimp Tacos with Cabbage Slaw


These Shrimp Tacos are light and tangy, and oh-so perfect for summer! The slaw is the real star here, and I cheat with a pre-shredded cabbage blend to make it super easy. This entire meal cooks up very quickly, so stop by the store and make this your recipe for tonight! 


The Filling: 
I start with shrimp and just dredge them in a flour/chili powder combo, and cook on the stove a couple minutes on each side unit done. You could even omit the flour and just dust on the seasoning if you want something lighter. A while back, I read somewhere that most all shrimp needs to be frozen quite quickly to preserve quality, so the "fresh" shrimp you see at the seafood counter at the grocery store is actually just thawed. The recommendation was to purchase frozen shrimp, since it thaws very easily under running water anyway, and to buy shrimp with the shells still on because it protects the flavor of the shrimp (versus purchasing shelled shrimp). I always look for the de-veined, shell-on, uncooked shrimp, and just take the shells and tails off at home (though my entire method is off now that we live near the Gulf and can actually get fresh-from-the-water, never-been-frozen shrimp, but that's another story). 

The Topping:
The cabbage slaw makes these tacos. It's ridiculously simple, but it adds sweet + tangy crunch and a bit of acidity, bringing everything together! I start with a big glass bowl and juice one lime directly into it, using this Lime Squeezerto do so. Next I add two tablespoons local honey (I'm on a local honey kick after reading it can help allergies!), and a 1/2 cup mayonnaise. I stir it all together, then pour in 1/2 cup chopped cilantro and about a half of a bag of this, my secret ingredient:

Having the cabbage (and carrot) already shredded saves so much time! Add more or less depending on how dressed you like your slaw.

The Side:
I just heated up some canned refried beans and topped with a little jack cheese. At the last minute I sliced some radishes we had on hand from our CSA basket, which reminds me of the heated debate Max and I had over dinner that night: Are radishes spicy??? I was explaining the flavor of them to Parker and said they were spicy. I always compared radishes to, say, wasabi. They're sinus clearing, right?? Max looked at me like I was crazy and said that, to him, they are not spicy in the slightest. So, please, weigh in. Unless you're on my husband's side. (Just kidding.)


Chili Shrimp

Ingredients
1/2 lb. to 1 lb. raw shrimp (thawed, deveined and shelled, tails off)
Vegetable oil for frying
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper

Directions
Mix flour, chili powder, salt and pepper in a shallow bowl. Dredge shrimp in flour mixture and fry in batches until golden and cooked through (2-3 minutes). Transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain.

Cabbage Slaw

Ingredients 
One lime
2 Tablespoons honey
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
Half bag pre-packaged shredded cabbage mix

Directions
Juice one lime directly into a big glass bowl. Mix with honey and mayonnaise, then add cabbage and cilantro.

*I use corn tortillas for these shrimp tacos. I just wrap them in a damp dishcloth and microwave for 25 seconds (this saves me from having to turn on the oven - score!)


Friday, June 26, 2015

Friday Faves: June Edition

June just screams "Father's Day" to me, and this June was no different! Here are a few Father's Day ideas from this year...

1. First, as a Father's Day project, we made this cute art:

Just make an imprint of Dad's hand, let dry, and do another with your little (or littles). This one can't be a surprise for Dada as you need his cooperation, so instead we did the project on Father's Day as a little celebration. 

2. Next, I'll be adding this year's Father's Day cards to Max's collection:

I do the same thing with my Mother's Day cards. I just punch two holes in the cards and hook them through these Binder Rings- then ever year I add on. It's so nice to be able to keep all the mail that our family so thoughtfully sends, and it's so much fun to look back through the old ones every year. 

3. I can't take credit for this one, but Parker's sweet Nana made a photo book for Father's Day and gifted it to Max. So special!

 As was Nana and Papa's second visit to Rocket City! (Yes, have I mentioned before that Huntsville is somewhat of a defense and aerospace hub, and boasts the nickname "Rocket City"? True story.)


4. We spent our actual Father's Day at our Sunday hangout (Five Guys) and we also hit up Parker's favorite place - Costco! Father's Day fell on Summer Solstice this year - the day with the most hours of daylight for the whole year, and the official start of summer!


5. And to bring June into July, don't miss out on these awesome matchy-matchys for daddy and minis! 

Happy almost-July! 





Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Garden Update: June


Evenings in the garden are my favorite. We head outside after dinner (usually at Parker's insistence), with little man's feet going a mile a minute, too excited to even get the words out: Wawa gardeeeen! Wawa gardeeeen!! He would spend hours out there, filling up his watering can and showering his favorites (the okra, rosemary, and his pinwheel), picking handfuls of chives, basil, mint, and oregano to munch on, and ninja-ing my hose to take over the heavy work himself. 



Here's what's going on in the garden this month: We are officially a critter snack shack (horrified hands over face). 

We completely lost our Cherokee Purple heirloom tomato plant after a bunny, chipmunk, or one of their buddies literally chewed through the stalk forcing it to fall over. I found it the next morning all shriveled up from the sun, and if I could admit to being devastated over a tomato plant, I would say that I was devastated. So we now have an empty tomato cage on the left. We noticed that the same exact thing was happening to the tomato plant on the right, so husby hightailed it to Home Depot and made a little barricade out of chicken wire before the stalk collapsed completely (thanks, husby!).


 It seems to be working for now, and the minor damage at the base of the stalk doesn't seem to be deterring the Brandywine heirlooms from producing, yeah! Tons of yellow flowers/future tomatoes...


And a few green ones ready for ripening! 

Also on its merry way, our bell pepper plant! There's lots of flowering happening, so I'm looking forward to little bell peppers showing up soon. 

I can't say the same of our okra. It was perfectly fine one night, then the next day, all the leaves were covered in little tiny holes! Any garden experts out there? I'm guessing it's some sort of insect. Who is very, very hungry.

All our herbs are going crazy. It's so, so much fun! I've never been able to just pop on out to the yard for mint or oregano or basil - I'm loving it! 




Here's hoping July brings red, ripe, tomatoes! I'm dying to snag some with a handful of basil and some fresh mozzarella from the organic market for an amazing Caprese salad!



Also, here's hoping Little Bunny FooFoo finds another snack shack. Or perhaps we'll have to fence of the okra and bell peppers like we did the tomatoes. Stay tuned to see!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Taco Tuesday - Steak Tacos with Mango Salad


This week's Taco Tuesday is another Slow Cooker recipe. Yes, Crock Pot cooking requires a bit of planning ahead, but as a mom, it is so nice to have part of the meal ready and just waiting for you at dinner time. Also, I'll do anything to go stove and oven-free in this Alabama heat!

And while Taco Tuesday usually calls for Coronas, I made sure to have celebratory margaritas on this day because it was a big/successful work day for Max! (Though you can't go wrong with a margarita on a normal work day, or a really awful one for that matter.) My recipe for a margarita is knock-you-off-your-feet strong, so be warned!

Mande's Margaritas
1 cup tequila
3/4 cup Grand Marnier
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
Combine ingredients in a small pitcher and chill in refrigerator until ready to pour and serve! This fills two margarita glasses, which was plenty for us, but double or triple if you want more!


The Filling: 
Slow Cooked Flank Steak! Flank Steak has actually become increasingly hard to find, but I can usually luck out at Costco. It's a very lean cut of meat, so it needs to be either marinated or slow-cooked. It's also very inexpensive, which makes for a budget-friendly meal! This filling is super-simple: just apply the spice rub, place the steak in the Crock Pot, and cook on low all day. I've added chopped onion and chopped bell peppers before, but did the meat on its own for this meal. 

The Topping:
Cilantro from the garden, chopped red onion from our CSA basket, and sour cream. 

TheSide: 
Mango Salad - this could also work for the topping on the taco. 




Steak Taco Filling

Ingredients
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powered

1 Flank Steak (1-2 lbs)

Directions 
Mix spices in a small bowl. Rub the spices all over the flank steak and place at the bottom of a Crock Pot. Optional: Cover the steak with chopped onion, bell peppers, or both! Cook on low for eight-ish hours. Shred with a fork when ready to serve (I also chop the shredded pieces to bite-size portions with a big chefs knife on a cutting board).


Mango Salad

Ingredients
Two mangos
Quarter of a red onion
Handfull Cilantro
Juice of one lime

Directions
Chop first three ingredients and toss with lime juice. This was a nice light accompaniment to the tacos, but I've also used mango salad for a taco topping!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Luckiest Girl Alive



Not long ago, the recent release Luckiest Girl Alive popped up on my Amazon "You Might Like This" list. It was suggested based on my love of Gone Girland The Girl on the Train. Well, Amazon, you had me hooked right then and there. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime.

After reading Luckiest Girl Alive, I must say that the biggest thing it actually had in common with either Gone Girl or The Girl on the Train is that it has "Girl" in the title. But, I do understand why, if you enjoyed reading the previous two books, you would like this book, too. They are all suspenseful page-turners, keeping the reader guessing about what happened with some sort of crime, while time-jumping between past and present. And just like the previous two books, I just had to know what was going to happen in Luckiest Girl Alive - so much so that I read it in just two days! Having a two-year-old at home makes this near impossible because I'm lucky to read a text message while he's awake, so it involved dining out for Mexican food twice in one week because I read during nap time when I should have been making dinner, and also staying up in bed reading into the wee hours of the morning. All worth it.

While Luckiest Girl is being compared to Gone Girl, it actually reminded me more of The Devil Wears Prada(had the main character in The Devil Wears Prada been conniving, manipulative and adept at telling lies). Both of these books are about twenty-something girls living in Manhattan and working for glossy magazines, borrowing designer labels from the fashion stashes. But Luckiest Girl puts a whole new spin on this by giving a glimpse into the mind of said fabulous girl, who has been calculating her every move and putting on show to get what she wants in life (namely the high profile job and a fiancé who comes from "old money"). I wrote her off as a sociopath at first - anyone talking about how they might be "exposed for who they really are" totally puts red flags up, right? But my view of her did change by the end.

The book read a bit like Young Adult Fiction, though it had enough R-rated content that clearly this was not the genre. However something about it didn't seem as "grown-up" a read as, say, Gone Girl. This could be because the main character actually was younger, and the flash-back scenes were from high school, furthering the "Young Adult" feeling.

Without giving too much away, I'll say I totally recommend this book! I think it would make a great beach read this summer - just don't forget the sunscreen because once you start it, you won't be able to stop! 


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

American Flag Tot Art


June is coming to an end, so it's time to bring out the Patriotic decor for the 4th of July! I don't go crazy for this holiday, but I do have fun adding a bit of red, white, and blue around the house! This year, I wanted to add a Parker original to our 4th of July collection. American Flag art seemed like the perfect idea! I started with a piece of Canvas Paper and just eyeballed it with FrogTape, marking off the spaces I wanted to remain white. 


I also covered up the rectangle that would later become blue, so that Parker could cover everything with red. We always use Crayola Washables - thank goodness for washables because painting with a two-year-old is a hot mess, hence our outdoor painting sesh! It took a bit of prompting for him to cover the entire page with red, but I really wanted it to be all his work.


Here's the step-by-step of the Flag Art. I let the red paint dry for a full day before I pulled up the tape and added the blue rectangle. 

After letting the blue dry, I painted Parker's hand white and made a print on the blue to represent the stars. He took creative liberty and made some extra smudges on the red and white part, but I think it just adds character!


I framed the page and I'm loving it so much I think I want to keep it up on the wall all year long! 

Do you decorate for the 4th? Do tell! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Taco Tuesday - Green Chicken Soft Tacos


I've started a new weeknight mealtime tradition in the Klein House: Taco Tuesday! I was looking for something to make menu planning more fun, and Taco Tuesday was the perfect answer. Why? Taco Night could not be easier. The taco fillings can either cook up very quickly, or sit in the slow cooker all day just waiting for whenever you're ready. Add a topping and a side, and dinner is served. Plus, my husband has said on more than one occasion that he'd be happy with Mexican food every single day, so I knew he'd be on board. Also, Taco Night = Corona Night so it's a win/win! 


The Filling:
We kicked off our first Taco Tuesday with Shredded Green Chicken Soft Tacos. The recipe is so simple it's not even a recipe. Just place 1+ lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts in a slow cooker, and cover with jarred green salsa. Put the lid on and cook all day (six-ish hours) on low (I've even put frozen chicken breasts in and they turn out perfectly).

When you're ready to assemble the tacos, just shred the chicken with a fork. It should be super tender and just scrumptious. I like to serve the Shredded Green Chicken on small flour tortillas (mostly because I love how Parker says "tortiiiiyaaaahhh!"). If you are open to new ideas, try spreading some cream cheese on the tortilla before adding the chicken. It sounds crazy but it's delicious!


The Topping: 
I think these quick-pickled red onions work perfectly with the creamy+green sauce combo. If you you're not using the cream cheese, I'd add either sour cream or queso fresco, too!


To make the pickled onions, just whisk together (in a big bowl) 2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar + 1 Tbs Olive Oil + 1 tsp Honey + 1/4 tsp salt (and a pinch of pepper). Add 1 medium sliced red onion and let sit for 15 minutes before serving (I toss a few times while it's sitting). 

The Side:
I served black beans with these tacos. I just heated up a can of them on the stove then topped with queso fresco! 



Sooooo simple, and so yummy! Happy Taco Tuesday!



Green Chicken

Ingredients
1 Jar Green Salsa (use enough to cover the chicken entirely)
1+ lbs. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast

Directions 
Combine ingredients in a crockpot and cook on low for 6ish hours. Shred and serve!


Quick Pickled Onions

Ingredients
2 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
1 Tbs Olive Oil
1 tsp Honey 
1/4 tsp salt
Pinch of Black Pepper
1 medium Red Onion, sliced

Directions
Whisk together first five ingredients. Add sliced onion, toss, and let sit for 15 minutes before serving (toss once or twice more while onions are resting). 

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