Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Shrimp Tacos with Chipotle Mayonnaise

I love to eat and I love to cook for my friends and family. Here is one of my "go to" recipes for a quick delicious meal that's tasty enough to serve to company. This recipe has evolved from one I acquired out of a 2004 Sunset Magazine. The title of their recipe is Salmon Tacos. They are good, but these are better.

The first change I made was to switch to shrimp. We eat a lot of salmon and I have other salmon recipes that I prefer. I tried the salmon batter with shrimp and my family liked the shrimp better. The next change was to come up with a non-fried version. There were a few problems with the battered, fried recipe. First, they aren't healthy, not that everything I make is healthy, but we rarely eat fried food. Secondly, the shrimp became soggy unless consumed immediately. My family and friends ate tacos in shifts while I cooked. I like to cook, but I wanted to be included in the meal, not working in the kitchen while they ate. Third, frying takes longer and it's hard to make for large groups. I love the chipotle mayonnaise and still use the original recipe from Sunset, but I have come up with my own better recipe for the shrimp.

Shrimp Marinade (I rarely measure when cooking, but the last time I made these tacos I tried to measure everything as I went a long.)

2 lbs. of thawed, shelled shrimp (21-25 count per pound)

2 Tbls. of olive oil plus a little more for cooking

1 tsp. of Ground Coriander

1 and 1/2 tsp. of Creole Seasoning (adjust for saltiness)

1/2 tsp. of Cayenne Red Pepper (adjust for heat)

1 tsp. Ground Cumin Seed

1 tsp. Chili Pepper (adjust for heat)

1 tsp. Paprika

4 Crushed Garlic Cloves (I'm a garlic freak, so adjust if you aren't)

Chipotle Mayonnaise Ingredients

1-2 Chipotle Chillies in Adobo Sauce

1 Cup Mayonnaise

3 Tbls. Water


Uncooked Flour Tortillas



What to Do

If you bought shell on shrimp, remove the shells. If you bought already shelled shrimp you will still need to remove the tail shell. Rinse and pat dry cleaned shrimp. Mix the next 8 ingredients together and marinate shrimp for about 30 minutes. Sometimes I marinate longer. I'll mix everything together before soccer practice and cook them when we get home.

Stir fry the shrimp in a non-stick skillet or wok in a single layer in a tablespoon of olive oil. Cook until the edges of the shrimp start to caramelize then turn over and repeat on the other side. I usually cook the shrimp in two batches. I then finish both batches off by quickly adding them together and re-heating in the pan right before serving.

Chipotle Mayonnaise

In a blender or a food processor blend 1 cup of Mayonnaise, 1-2 Chipotle Chillies in Adobo Sauce, and 3 tablespoons of water. Adjust chillies for heat. Freeze unused chillies in individual servings for future use (Thanks Kristy for the tip!).

Place about 3-5 shrimp on a tortilla and garnish with cabbage, guacamole and Chipotle Mayo. Serve with black beans and Mexican rice. I usually eat this meal tortilla free. I fill a plate with cabbage and top with shrimp, guac., and a little bit of Chipotle Mayo. for a gluten free meal.

I use uncooked flour tortillas, but you can use cooked or even corn tortillas. Cook tortillas on a frying pan or pancake skillet. Turn tortillas over when an air bubble appears on the uncooked side and finish heating the other side. I have a tortilla warmer, but you can put the heated tortillas between tinfoil and two clean dish towels to keep them warm and moist if you don't have one.




Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Tuscan Villa Landscape Design

I was lucky enough to be given an amazing opportunity to do the landscape design plan for a 10,000 square foot Tuscan Villa in Escondido last year. The family lost their entire home in a fire several years ago. They lost everything except the shirts on their backs. This is by far the largest project I have worked on. I wanted to be part of giving this family of eight an incredible home to move back into. The house is situated on a hill over looking the valley of West Escondido and the Wild Animal Park. My cousin Margaret's husband Andy Godman was one of the contractors for this incredible home. Andy can do anything from very custom high end new construction to kitchen and bath remodels and room additions. He is an excellent contractor because of his attention to detail and dependability. If you would like to see more of the inside of this house and other homes he has done go to

The house is all new construction. The entry gate survived the fire.
With six kids, the landscape needed to be beautiful, family friendly, drought tolerant, and fire resistant.

Three of these Date Palms were add to the landscape. They had to be craned in.

New retaining walls were added to the front slope.

The pool before.

The plan called for mostly drought tolerant plants. This was a plus with a two acre property. Water rationing is eventually going to be mandatory for every San Diego County City if it isn't already.

Check out their view!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Summer Table To Go

Our family loves the outdoors. Our weekends are frequently spent outside enjoying the beach or watching our girls at soccer tournaments. During the summer we also like to go to Concert in the Park in Coronado on Sunday evenings. It would be nice to not haul a large table with us when we are out and about at these events. We use the cooler as the table. That doesn't always work so well, especially when you need to have access to the food.
I made this table for a handy way to enjoy eating outdoors on the go.

Concert in the park is a sea of these Crate and Barrel tables. 
You've seen these before?

I was planning on ordering the Table In The Bag from Crate and Barrel shown in the picture above, but I never seemed to get around to it. They have become quite popular.  I decided I didn't want the same thing everyone else had.

Here is my DIY version.

My table is probably a little heavier than the Crate and Barrel one, but it's unique. What are kids for if not to help lug around our stuff? (Just kidding) I wanted my table to be different and whimsical.


*1 - 2'x 2' x 3/4'' thick plywood board cut in half. (Home Depot or Lowe's will cut it for you)
*1 and 1/2 to 2 yards of fabric (depending on if you want to match the pattern in the middle. Determine repeat)
*Mod Podge
*Small paint roller or brush
*3 small hinges (screws can't be longer than 3/4")
*2 #10-32 x 1/2" wing screws
*2 metal braces (2 come in a package with screws or you can buy them individually)
*4 legs (mine are 15" long)
*4 leg caps (Optional, mine might sit in wet grass)
*4 leg brackets
*upholstery tacks (optional)
*Newspaper or drop cloth
I used two different coordinating cotton fabrics for the front and back. If you use a large pattern, determine if you want to match the pattern at the middle joint of the table? You will need to buy more fabric depending on the fabric repeat because you need to allow for the 3/4" width of table of each adjoining side and a 1" overlap for the bottom of the table. This could mean buying approximately a half of a yard or more fabric for your project. It's a little more work, but it looks nicer if the pattern lines up.
Cut the top piece of fabric to fold over the 3/4" side edge and over lap at least 1" onto the bottom of the board. Don't worry if the edges don't look perfect. The bottom piece of fabric hides the edge of top piece of fabric. Spread Mod Podge in a thin to medium coat over the top of the wood. It's messy, but hard to mess up. Line up the fabric and smooth out any air bubbles. Brush or roll another coat of Mod Podge over the entire board with fabric. Fold the corners of the fabric like a package. Repeat for the other half of the table and let dry.
If you are like me and don't want to wait for it to dry, use a hair dryer to speed up the process. Once dry, do the same thing for the back of the table, but cut the fabric about a half an inch too short and wide. The bottom fabric should not overlap on to the sides or top of the board. Make sure it covers the top piece of fabric ends, but it shouldn't overlap to the sides of the table. I used a coordinating dot fabric on the back of the Koi.

I thought the Koi fabric was fun for the summer.

Let the table dry completely over night. I sprayed the table with three coats of Outdoor Varathane because I wanted mine to be waterproof. Spills are easily sponged off.


I spray painted the legs white.

I added leg caps incase my table was standing in wet grass. They just hammer into the bottom of the legs.
Screw the leg brackets into each corner. Make sure your screws aren't more than 3/4" long or they will pop through the top of your table.

Add 3 Hinges to the bottom joint of the table.

Add the 2 metal braces to the middle sides of the table. One on each side. Only attach with one screw. Your table will sag in the middle if you skip this step. Don't screw down the braces so tight that it can't rotate into position when in use.

Rotate the braces and drill a hole on the other side of the connecting board for the wing screw.

Tighten the wing screws when your table is in use.
Remove wing screws and rotate metal braces back when folded.

Here is what the table looks like when it is disassembled.

I added upholstery tacks to the edge.

Here is the top view.

I made a carrying bag with some left over sleeping bag fabric.
Cami is ready to go!
Sushi anyone?

How do you enjoy eating outdoors on the go?
Thanks for checking it out.

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