Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Salad Tacos

Recipe slightly adapted from The Pioneer Woman

I don't like Mr. Darcy.

I was watching the old Pride and Prejudice with Colin Firth a couple days ago and thought to myself, "Self, Mr. Darcy is really not all that great!"

I know this is considered absolutely bonkers by 99.99% of the female population.

But ladies, c'mon! If a man basically called you butt-ugly would you give him a second chance? I think not.  No matter how loaded he was.  Maybe Elizabeth was just a gold digger.........

But I digress,  this post is not about Darcy, this is about TACOS!!!!!!!!!!

And not just any tacos.  These are The Pioneer Woman Salad Tacos.  And oh. my. gosh.  They are divine.

I have made these many, many times since I first discovered this recipe and I can tell that I will probably make it about a million more times.  It is that good.  No joke.

I know they don't look like much.  In fact, I know they look a little gross with that nasty looking dressing but let me tell you class.  That sauce MAKES the tacos. 

I've made these tacos for different groups of people and recommended the recipe to a family member and all of them LOVE it.  You gotta try it!

Salad Tacos:
Makes about 10 tacos

1 lb beef (Any fat ratio you prefer)
A package of taco shells (I would get 2 because you may need to start the second one)
2 T. taco seasoning
1 can (2 ounces) tomato paste
Salt to taste
1 can (14.5 ounce) dark red kidney beans, undrained (you can use any bean but this is my personal favorite)
1/4 c. hot water
1 head green leaf lettuce, sliced into thin strands
Package of grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
Desired amount of cheddar cheese, grated


1/4 c. mayo (I use light)
1/4 c. sour cream (I use light)
1/4 c. salsa
1 T. ranch dressing mix

Heat your taco shells according to package directions (we love the Stand 'N Stuff shells).  Set aside.

Mix together all dressing ingredients and let chill in fridge till you're ready to eat.  You may want to add a little more of something so make sure after it's combined you taste it to adjust to what you like.

Brown the beef in a pan.  Drain excess fat if necessary.  Add taco seasoning, tomato paste, beans and hot water.  Stir to combine till it gets all saucy and amazing.  Salt to taste.  Taste beef  mixture and add more of something if you like.

Build your tacos!

* After becoming an expert in building tacos I have come to realize that placing the dressing towards the bottom of the shell helps it to not contribute to as much spillage.  Just a tip from the expert.  *

Friday, August 30, 2013

Crock Pot Cashew Chicken

Recipe slightly adapted from Favorite Family Recipes

I adore Thai food.  It is the best.  It is sublime.  It is amazing.

I used to work in an adorable Thai restaurant and to this day I miss the ladies I worked with and the fun that I had there.

This restaurant makes a cashew chicken recipe that is beyond amazing.  Seriously, one of my favorite meals on the planet.  I miss it so!

I pinned this tasty looking recipe and I was SOO excited when it tasted fairly similar to the restaurant! This is a KEEPER for sure.

The chicken in this dish is very tender, the sauce is flavorful and I love the crunch of the cashews.

I hope you enjoy this delicious recipe!

Crock Pot Cashew Chicken:
Serves 4

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/4 c. flour
1/2 t. pepper
1 T. canola oil
1/4 c. low sodium soy sauce (if you use full sodium you will be sad!)
2 T. rice vinegar
2 T. ketchup
1 T. brown sugar, packed
1 garlic clove, minced (I just used about 2 t. jarred garlic.  So much easier!)
1/2 t. fresh ginger, grated (I LOVE the ginger that comes in a tube in the produce section!)
1/4 t. red pepper flakes
1 red bell pepper, cut into chunks
green onions

Cut up chicken into bite size pieces.  Combine flour and pepper in resealable plastic bag and toss to mix.  Add chicken and toss to fully coat.

Heat oil in pan over medium heat.  Once warm, add chicken and heat till barely cooked through (be careful! the oil pops!).  Transfer to crock pot. 

Combine soy sauce, rice vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes in small bowl.  Pour over chicken.  Cook for 1 hour on low. 

Add chopped bell pepper (next time I'm also going to add half a white onion) and cook for another 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 hours. 

Serve with hot white rice, cashews and green onions.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Lincoln City, OR Family Trip: The Final Chapter

The next day we were off to the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
I really enjoyed this aquarium because a huge portion of it is outdoors.  Kind of surprising since it is Oregon and it rains a lot, but the day we went it was beautiful and sunny.
After the aquarium Ken and I explored an antique shop,candy shop and a Christmas ornament shop.
We all met up with the rest of the family for dinner at Mo's which is a casual restaurant that serves a lot of clam chowder and sea food.

You would have thought it was Disneyland by the line it took just to get inside.

Ken in his cool sunglasses.

This was one of the coolest things about the aquarium.  They have this massive tube that you can walk through that is completely surrounded by a shark tank. 

Another view of the tube.

There was even glass on the ground so you could look below.

Ken enjoying the aquarium.

As Ken and I went to go explore some fun places we stumbled across this Antique shop that just looked like a good time.  So we went in!

I had to take a picture of this.  It's a massive wooden carving with tons of horses.  Whoever made that wasted a lot of time.

Just kidding! It was actually very interesting and neat.

After the antique shop we went to this cute establishment. 

And this yummy candy shop.

Here's a street view of the line of shops.  I love how beach-y they all look! So unique!

Inside the candy shop they had all sorts of treats and goodies such as key lime truffles, "sea foam" which was honey comb encompassed with chocolate, sea salt carmel sticks, etc.

But the crowning jewel of all of the treats was the magnificent Reese's Peanut Butter Cup Carmel Apple.  Legends will be told of this apple one day. I can honestly say it was the BEST carmel apple I had ever consumed.  I talked about that apple so much that I'm sure Ken got sick about hearing about it.  With each bite I tried to figure out how to make a replica of it at home and folks, I think I know how to make it! I will be posting a recipe soon. 

After eating embarrassing amounts of treats we rolled on over to the Christmas Cottage.  And my heart fluttered as we entered.  It was dripping from ceiling to floor with unique ornaments.

I love Christmas ornaments.  I have fond memories of going to the store each year as a child and picking out a new one each year for the tree.  This was Heaven on Earth for me.

I didn't take a picture of but I ended up getting a S'mores ornament with him making a sand castle as something to remember the trip by. 

If you haven't heard of the S'mores line of ornaments than click hear to view some.  I collect them and think they are the cutest things.  They come in various themes.  

I'm also a sucker for anything Halloween.  I wanted to pack this tree up with me in my suitcase and take it home. 

Some ornaments hanging from the ceiling.

After having a wonderful time eating treats and looking at Christmas ornaments we went to Volta.  Volta sells glass blown items and teach glass blowing classes.

I told Ken before the trip that he should sign up for an instructional class and I could watch him but he didn't do it.  When we went inside and saw what he could have made and for what price he was totally bummed out.

It all ended okay though.  He ended up getting a glass float, a stand and a glass shade to over a hanging light. 

A view inside their store.

A gal working on a float.

Watching her make that was so cool.

Outside view of the warehouse where they make the items and teach the classes.

Ken outside the store with his goodies.

After exploring Volta we went to dinner with the family at Mo's.  Their clam chowder is famous and I can see why.  I had a bite of my husband's and it was delicious!

The kids coloring before dinner.

Ken and his Papa.

Mo's had these large windows so you could look at the ocean. 

Ken enjoying his soup.

Jen, Brian and their family.

A fuzzy view of the restaurant.  It had a very laid back, beach-y atmosphere. 

Outside of the restaurant there were lots of shops to look at.  We had been gone all day and were freezing so we ended up going home shortly after eating without looking at them.  Next time though!

I hope you enjoyed these installments of our Oregon trip! We had an amazing time exploring a new place, hanging out with family and relaxing.

If you are planning a vacation somewhere we highly recommend Lincoln City, OR!!!

Lincoln City, OR Family Trip: Part 3

On our trip I had researched a place called The Beach Dog Cafe to go for breakfast one morning.  I was sooo excited! It looked adorable and looked like the food was great.
We drove up to the restaurant and lo and behold the place was closed.  I could not have been more disappointed.
In the end we ended up going to a place called Pig 'N Pancake which is an Oregon chain.
The hash browns were divine!
That evening we also ended up doing a bonfire at the beach which was magical.  I love me the beach, s'mores and a fire, and when you combine the three it simply equals perfection.

Tanner at the Pig 'N Pancake for breakfast.

The kids having fun at breakfast.

Ken and his Mama.  I love Paige's face in this picture.

Some Pig 'N Pancake decor.

Paige wrote her name in the sand.

So did Caleb.

Tanner just liked playing in the sand.

The fire almost ready!

The guys putting together the seating.

Brian lifting a huge rock over to the site.  That just looks uncomfortable.

Jen and her Mama.

Ken and his Mama.

Almost ready for those s'mores!

Caleb wrote mine and Ken's name in the sand.  I love how he spelt my name.

Cool view of the fire.

Gettin' those s'mores ready!

Roasting the marshmallows.

Almost ready to eat!

Another view of the fire and marshmallows.

When it got dark the fire looked so neat.

Everybody started to get a little chilly.

Ken chowing down on a s'more.  I also have to mention that we didn't just have your regular ol' Hershey bars.  In addition to that, we had Ghirardelli chocolate squares, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, Kit Kat Bars, etc. I never want a Hershey s'more again!

I used the flash on this picture and I'm pretty sure I blinded everybody.