Shrimp Ceviche

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Lately, I have been dreaming about getting away on vacation. Work is so crazy right now that its not going to happen anytime soon, but a girl can dream. Some of our favorite vacations were in Mexico and my absolute favorite thing to eat down there is fresh shrimp ceviche. After our last trip to Cancun, I was craving it everyday, so…I decided to find a ceviche recipe I liked. This one is killer!! Just the right amount of spice and sweetness from the Serrano chilies and fresh squeezed citrus juices.

Play around with the ingredients to get it just right for your taste, you could leave out the shrimp, or like I do, leave out the avocado for my husband’s allergy. You could also add mango for a tropical twist.

Shrimp Ceviche
Poaching Liquid
2 quarts water
1/4 cup kosher salt
Ceviche
1 lb raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
juice of 2 lemons
juice of 2 limes
juice of 2 oranges
1 cup diced cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
2 Serrano chilies, seeded and finely chopped
1 cup diced seeded tomato
1 avocado, chopped into 1/2″ pieces
1 Tbsp roughly chopped cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 tsp kosher salt

1. Combine water and 1/4 cup salt in a large saucepan; bring to a boil over high heat. Add shrimp and immediately turn off the heat. Let the shrimp sit until just cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.
2. Chop the shrimp into 1/2″ pieces and place in a medium non-reactive bowl (nothing aluminum or cast iron as it can react with the food and acidic citric juices and impart an off color or flavor to the food). Add lemon, lime and orange juice. Stir in cucumber, onion and chilies. Refrigerate for 1 hour.
3. Stir tomato, avocado, chopped cilantro, oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt into the shrimp mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving. Garnish with cilantro leaves, if desired. Serve with tortilla chips.

Original recipe from Eating Well.

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Inspired by…Nate Berkus for Target

I am loving black, white & gold with a pop of color right now. When shopping for office accessories I came across the Spring 2015 Nate Berkus for Target collection. I’ve known that Nate Berkus designs a line for Target but his collections just get better and better and the Spring 2015 line is the best yet! Here are some of my favorite pieces. Enjoy and go get your favorites for some spring sprucing this weekend!

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Industrial Pipe Desk

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I had so much fun with this project! It was a true DIY, taking some inspiration from Pinterest and creating my own building plans. Most of the pipe desks I’ve seen are simple straight lines. I wanted a tiny bit more interest so I incorporated the crisscross design in the base of the desk.

When we first saw this house, the previous owners had a recliner and a small side table sitting in this little bay window alcove. It’s taken me a while to decide what to turn this area into. We thought about making it a bar, however, we don’t entertain THAT often that we need such a large area dedicated to alcohol. If we had kids, this space would make a great play area. My husband suggested we put a poker table there…veto. So I landed on an office space. A space for my blogging, my planning, and hopefully one day, my home based business.

The best part about this piece of furniture is that the plans can easily be altered to be shorter and narrower for a coffee table, or to just change the size to customize the desk for your particular space. It is also quick and easy to assemble with very little “building”. You can also use galvanized pipe for a silver base instead of the black cast iron pipe that I used and can stain or paint the top any color you want.

Supplies
(plans for desk 75″L x 27.5″W x 29″H, all pipe is 1/2″ fitting in black cast iron)
8 – floor flange fittings
4 – 1 1/2″ nipple fittings
12 – 2″ tee fittings
2 – 72″ pipe
4 – 18″ pipe
4 – 10″ pipe
2 – 12″ pipe
2 – 8″ pipe
4 – 5″ pipe
5 – 2×6 @ 8 feet long
1 – 2×4 @ 8 feet long
wood glue
2 1/2″ finish nails

Step 1 –
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Begin with the 2 72″ pipes and 4 of the tee fittings. Attach a tee fitting to each end of the pipes so that each end looks like this…
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Step 2 –
First, take the 2 assembled pieces and lay them in front of you lengthwise so they are parallel to each other, and space them about 2 feet apart.
Working with bar #1 (the bar closest to you) on the bar’s right end, attach an 8″ pipe to the right side of the tee and a 12″ pipe to the left side of the tee.
Now, on bar #2 (the bar furthest from you) but on the opposite end, the bar’s left end, attach an 8″ pipe the right  of the tee and a 12″ pipe to the left of the tee.
You should have the left end of bar #1 and the right end of bar #2 with nothing attached. Now attach all 4 of the 10″ pipes to those ends.
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Step 3 –
Attach tee fittings to all 4 end points on both legs. When the tee fittings are tightened, they should sit perpendicular to the existing pipes.
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Step 4 –
On the right end of bar #1, attach the 1 1/2″ nipple fitting to the bottom side of the 2 tee fittings. Then attach a floor flange to each of the 1 1/2″ nipple fittings. This will create the feet of the desk. Do the same thing on the left end of bar #2.
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(*Note* When I first built the desk, I used 5″ pipes instead of the 1 1/2″ nipple fittings but the desk turned out too tall so I later changed them to 1 1/2″ nipple fittings. This is why the feet of your desk may look shorter than the one pictured.)

Step 5 –
Use the 4 18″ pipes and attached them to each tee fitting above the feet.
Now, take bar #1 and lift the crisscross bar to sit on top of the legs of bar #2. This next part may be a little tricky. In order to attach bar #1 to the legs of bar #2, unscrew the tee fittings and attach them to the 18″ pipes, making sure when they are fully tightened, that the cross fitting is still facing the crossbars. Then to attach the crossbars, you will need to twist the bar into the tee fitting as you slightly untwist it from the tee fitting on the opposite end. This seems odd, but it will be sturdy as long as the pipe is partially screwed into each tee fitting.
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Step 6 –
Attach the 5″ pipes to all four tee fittings followed by the remaining 4 floor flanges attached to the 5″ pipes.
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Step 7 –
For the desk top, I took 5 2×6 boards cut to 75″ long and laid them out side by side. Then cut 2 2×4 boards to 23 1/2″, laid them crosswise across the 2×6 boards as supports and attached the 2x4s to the 2x6s with wood glue and 2 1/2″ finish nails.
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Step 8 –
To attach the desk top, with the desk top laying 2×4 side up, turn the desk base over onto the desk top. The 4 floor flanges attached to the 5″ pipe should be sitting on the underside of the desk top. When the desk base is centered, attach the desk base to the desk top using 1 1/4″ wood screws through the 4 holes on each flange.

Done and done! Now you can stain or paint your desk top to your preference and work away at your new office space. Next up for me, a desk chair!
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Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos

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A question I am asked quite often is: Where did you learn to cook? To be honest, I never learned to cook anywhere in particular. When I got out of college and realized it was expensive to be a big kid in the real world, I started being smarter about my grocery shopping. I quickly realized that fresh meat and produce were often much cheaper that processed foods and eating out. So, one day I picked out a recipe and just went for it. These Lime & Cilantro Chicken Tacos were one of the first “difficult” recipes I made. I say “difficult” because now that I know my way around the kitchen, it is really very easy to prepare. I wouldn’t tell you to make this on a weeknight after work because there is a little food prep involved, but on a weekend or evening when you have a little more time. On top of that, my husband asks for these tacos time and time again. It is, without a doubt, in our top 5 favorite meals.

Cilantro Lime Chicken Tacos
Serves 4 to 6

Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp honey
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp minced chipotle chili in adobo sauce
pinch of kosher salt
1/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp canola oil
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Chicken Taco Filling
2 Tbsp canola oil
1 lb ground chicken
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
2 Tbsp lime juice
1 Tbsp soy sauce

Taco Toppings
12 taco shells
1/2 head romaine lettuce, shredded crosswise
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, finely chopped
1 cup crumbled queso fresco
fresh cilantro sprigs for garnish

1. To make the Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, in a blender, combine the vinegar, lime juice, honey, garlic, chili, and salt and process until smooth. With the machine running, add the oil in a thin, steady stream to form an emulsion. Add the cilantro and process until the vinaigrette is deep green with small flecks of cilantro. Taste and adjust the seasoning, then set aside.
2. To make the Chicken Taco Filling, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the oil. Add the chicken, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper and cook, stirring and breaking up any chunks with a spatula, until the chicken shows no sign of pink, about 8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium-low. Stir in the lime juice and soy sauce and cook until they are almost evaporated, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
3. To assemble the tacos, divide the chicken mixture evenly among the taco shells. Top with the lettuce and drizzle each taco with about 1 Tbsp of the vinaigrette. Add a scattering of tomato and yellow pepper, and garnish with some of the cheese and a cilantro sprig. Serve immediately, and pass the remaining vinaigrette at the table.

*Original recipe from Nordstrom Flavors Cookbook by Chef Michael Northern

Inspired by…accent walls

I have finally decided to, once and for all, admit something to myself…I am NOT capable of keeping plants alive. (Insert sad face emoji here). Since the holidays, taking down Christmas décor and trying to freshen up the house, I have had 4 different potted plants on my dining room table. I think the longest any of them have lived is 2 1/2 weeks. Granted, I’ve not really done my research about which plants should be indoor versus outdoor, water and light needs, etc. but come on…4 plants in 2 1/2 months?!?! Sorry mom, maybe I really shouldn’t have children!

I’ve been thinking about accent walls lately. I have so many different places in the house that I could put one but I don’t want to over do it…decisions! Gone are the days when an accent wall is just a different or bold paint color. There are so many different versions; wallpaper, wood plank, stone, stripes.

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