Lemon Shrimp with Risotto Milanese

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Hey Guys!

This is a fun and fresh recipe for a summer gathering that is something a little different than grilling. The bright acidity of lemon and freshness of parsley make the shrimp extra delicious, and the fresh veggies in the risotto keeps it from being too rich. Even better, this recipe uses just a little butter and no cheese, so the creaminess is from the starch cooking out of the rice, not added fats. This is a meal my mum whipped up for our family, and I thought I’d share it with you! At around $3.75 per serving, it’s not a crazy affordable meal, but it was delicious and can be made more affordable if you use your veggie scraps to make your own stock in advance (brings the total cost down to $11.54 or $2.89 a serving).

Lemon Shrimp with Risotto Milanese

$15.48 for four, or $3.75 per serving

For the risotto:

1 cup of Arborio rice- $1

1 small shallot, diced- $0.50

2 carrots, small dice- $0.72

3 sprigs thyme- $0.25

2 containers vegetable stock- $3.94

2 pinches saffron threads- ~0.80 or 1/2 tsp saffron powder ($0.04) if you can’t stomach the cost of buying saffron threads

Pantry: a small dollop of olive oil to start sautéing, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper

Optional: Butter to finish, white wine to deglaze

For the shrimp:

~20 shrimp, peeled and deveined- $7

Zest of a lemon (one lemon is used for this recipe)- $0.77

Juice of 1/2 a lemon

Garnish: the other half of the lemon, cut into four slices for squeezing

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The first step of this recipe is the same as any other where we’ve been making risotto- mise en place, or as I like to call it…. getting your shit together.

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You can see from these photos that 2 separate plates were used- one for the shrimp prep and one for the risotto prep. It just makes things easier in the long run. It’s not shown in this picture, but after this, the lemon was halved and set on the parsley plate.

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You’ll need to tackle your risotto first since it’ll take about thirty minutes to make. Start by popping your veggies (and thyme if you like) into a pot with either butter or oil in the bottom and soften about 1/2 to 3/4. You want some nice color on those onions. While you do that, take your stock and put your saffron in it, then warm it either in a pot or in the microwave. This stops you from bringing the temperature of your risotto down every time you add stock to it (which means it takes longer to cook), and it helps infuse the saffron.

Once your veggies are appropriately cooked, add your rice and toast it. Don’t be afraid to add a bit of extra oil if the pot seems too dry. I talked about toasting risotto rice here, if you need a bit more information. Once your rice is appropriately toasted, you will either deglaze with a ladle full of your stock, or a 1/2 cup of dry white wine, whichever you feel like. Stir until the first deglazing liquid evaporates and then add stock by the ladle and stir occasionally until that liquid evaporates, too. Repeat. Keep repeating until you’ve gone through about a box of stock or 3.5-4cups. Add a pinch of salt and pepper each time you add stock. Taste it at that point- is it soft, or do the rice grains stick to your teeth? If it’s soft and ready, turn off the heat and remove it from the burner. If not, continue the stock-stir-evaporate-taste process until the rice is cooked.

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Once your risotto is ready and off the heat, using a skillet on medium heat with olive oil and chili flakes, throw in your shrimp. Once they are 1/2 way cooked, flip them and add your parsley, lemon zest and squeeze half of your lemon over the shrimp while they finish cooking. This only takes a few minutes.

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To serve, give yourself a generous scoop of the risotto and about 5 shrimp. Squeeze additional lemon over your shrimp if you’d like! I’d recommend serving in a bowl rather than a plate like in these pictures- if your risotto spreads out, it cools faster.

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Do you have a favorite recipe that tastes fresh like spring or summer, but doesn’t require a barbeque? I’d love to hear about it!

Shop the post:

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Bialetti Copper 5.5-qt. Titanium Ceramic Nonstick Electric Skillet • Bialetti • 
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Michael Symon by Ergo Chef 6″ Chef’s Knife • 
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CHANTAL Chantal Induction 21 Steel 2-qt. Soup Pot With Glass Lid • Chantal • 
Calphalon Simply Nonstick 5 Qt. Soup Pot with Lid • Calphalon •

Slow Cooker Pork Tacos!

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Hey Guys!

I was strolling through Sobeys the other day with my mom when she called me over to tell me about how good of a price the pork shoulders were. She was right, and the butcher assisted us with picking one out for me, which cost a whopping seven dollars. It was supposed to be super hot the next few days so I knew I needed to figure out some way to cook it in the slow cooker that was still fun but didn’t require an oven for side dishes (because I loooove oldschool hashbrown casserole!).

So, I took inspiration from the awesome roasted meat dishes in Pati Jinich’s Mexican Today cookbook (you guys should check it out!) and decided that this pork shoulder should be slow cooked with a chipotle adobo sauce.

This was 100% an experiment. It could have been a 10$ total fail. But, I lucked out and it was delicious and I have a bunch of meat hanging out in my freezer for later! I am going to try to make a “Burrito Bowl” with the leftovers and I will update you if it works out well.

This isn’t one of my “ultra cheap” meals but you could definitely pare back areas to make it more affordable! You could marinate/slow cook just in the chipotle, and skip the pico to save about $2.75 total (bringing your per serving down to $3.41). But for me, this is an awesome “fun” meal and totally something I’d make for a celebratory taco night because it’s enough to feed a crowd and keep the food budget around $25. Life is short, eat the tacos… and if you can’t afford the tacos right now, try one of these ultra affordable recipes I’ve shared.

Pork “Carnitas” Tacos

$ 3.87 per serving (2 tacos) or $23.22 for 12 servings

Cost of Meat: $7.24 ($0.66 per taco)

Marinade/Sauce(per serving=$0.67):

1 can of chipotle chiles in adobo- $2.48

1 yellow onion- $0.35

2 jalapenos- $1.20

Total: $4.03

Taco Fixings (per serving= $1.88):

1 Radish per 2 tacos- $0.14 (0.84 for 12)

Guacamole (I used store bought, just a small smear to cut the heat and hold your fixings in)- ~$0.83 (~$5 for 12)

Pico De Gallo (check out how I make mine here)- ~$0.20 (~$1.20 for 12)

Tortillas- $0.52 ($3.09 for 12)

Optional: Torn parsley or cilantro and lime wedges

Total: $11.33

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Your first step is to cut the fat cap off of your pork shoulder and put it in the bottom of your marinating bag. Our butcher at Sobeys shared with us that it’s actually easier to pull the pork apart if you do this step, but so long as you lay it across the top of the shoulder while cooking, it will still keep the meat nice and juicy! Next, in a blender throw in your jalapenos (I did mine with seeds, just removed the stem) and onion as well as your can of chipotle chiles in adobo. I use the adobo can to add 2 can-fuls of water to the blender as well and blend until smooth. I added the pork shoulder to a zipper bag, poured the sauce over and marinated it overnight. You could totally just pour this into the slow cooker at this point, though.

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The next morning I put my pork shoulder in the slow cooker for 6 hours on high by accident. I meant to put it on for 8 hours on low but I failed. Even though I obviously overcooked my meat, it was so delicious and juicy (not at all dry, seriously) and easy to pull apart. I put the meat in a lasagna pan and pulled it all apart, pulling out the hock and excess fat as I went, and then let it cool for about 40 minutes before I put it in the fridge to fully cool. You could serve it once it’s pulled though! I just timed my day poorly and needed to put it in the fridge until dinner.

To make your tacos, I smeared guacamole on my tortilla, then laid down the meat, pico de gallo, and radish slices. I topped mine with parsley for the pictures but totally not necessary. A squeeze of fresh lemon was nice, though!

For a listing of what you would want or need to make this delicious meal happen:

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IMUSA Salsa Bowls – 2 piece • Imusa •
Scalloped Porcelain White Serving Bowl • Pier 1 Imports •
Avocado Bowl •
Marble Dip Bowl • Pier 1 Imports •
Cuisinart Velocity Ultra Trio 1-HP Blender/Food Processor with Travel Cups • Cuisinart •
Cuisinart Velocity Ultra 1-HP Blender • Cuisinart •
Oster Versa Blender • Oster •
Taco Rack • Crate & Barrel •
Charcoal Companion Sur La Table Taco Rack • Charcoal Companion •
Mexicali Taco Rack • Pier 1 Imports •
Hamilton Beach 6-qt. Programmable Stovetop Slow Cooker • Hamilton Beach •
Hamilton Beach Stay or Go 6-qt. Programmable Slow Cooker • Hamilton Beach •

For my own tacoloving self, here are some funny taco themed t-shirts etc…

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Express Ann Page Drink And Eat Tacos Can Cover • Express •
Express Ann Page Drink And Eat Tacos Napkins • Express •
You Better Have Tacos Doormat • Lulu & Georgia •
Fashion Pickle Taco Tequila Tank •
Tailgate Women’s Taco ‘Bout T-Shirt • Tailgate •
Buffalo David Bitton Lets Taco Bout It Tee • Buffalo David Bitton •
Chaser Tequila Tacos and Naps Graphic Tee, White • Chaser •
Chaser Tacos Y Cerveza Tee, White • Chaser •
Chaser Tacos Y Tequila Knit Top, Avalon • Chaser •

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Do you have a favorite taco recipe, or maybe a favorite slow cooker one? I’d love to hear about it. I’ve been loving anything that is easily cooked and/or does not require cutting to eat since hurting my hand so I would love to hear from you!

No-Buy Update

 

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Well, I made it around a month. Not my best but… there were 3$ pints of strawberries that I just couldn’t deny myself. I also really wanted fresh dairy. So after thirty days of not buying groceries, I bought a few things. This no-buy isn’t firmly over, I’m still trying to work out of the meals and proteins I have frozen and my shelf stable items, but I’m running out of things like eggs and in my house… that just won’t do.

March was a pretty easy month to not be buying groceries. I had a hospitality suite at work for three days and lots of invites out to my family’s place. I also did a cooking class that sent me home with three+ days’ worth of food.

I think as I go forward my “no buy” will just be modified- if I need eggs or a fresh item, I’ll buy it, but I’m still working through frozen items and enjoying them. Being that it’s spring (sort of… it’s been snowing for hours as I type this) I’m also not going to deny myself things like salad greens or fresh burratta if I can get my hands on them.

So what did I make and eat during this time?

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Freezer Mushroom Risotto

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Easy Ramen

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Spaghetti Squash Puttanesca

White bean dip and focaccia (post coming soon!)

Cauliflower rice and shrimp (at Mom’s, but post still coming soon!)

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Chicken Pesto Burgers with Rice

Vegan Spaghetti and “Meat” Balls (post coming soon!)

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Italiano Breakfast Bowls

Chocolate Chocolate Chip Banana Muffins (post coming soon!)

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Lentil Ragout with Isreali Cous Cous

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Butternut Squash Risotto Nourish Bowl (gifted, affordable re-make coming soon!)

Baked Rigatoni Bolognese (post coming soon!)

…and lots of eggs, guacamole toast and overnight oats!

 

Strawberries were the straw that broke the camel’s back for this no-buy. I really wanted them and life is short. I also wanted lettuce, ground meat and fennel. I have everything but the ground meat now! The spare time that eating pre-made meals gave me allowed me to work on other things in life, work items, visit family more and even start baking bread!

Cheater Lasagna

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I love lasagna. I think pasta is one of life’s best luxuries so I try to enjoy it decently often. Is that weird?

I don’t care if it is.

I love to make baked pastas when I have friends over, or just to keep in the freezer for when I need a comforting meal. Lasagna and I used to have a love-hate relationship because honestly, it was a bit high maintenance! You have to make the sauce, make the béchamel, par-cook the noodles and assemble it… it was a “once in a blue moon” item rather than something I could enjoy on a weeknight with friends.

Enter this cheater lasagna. Instead of making your sauce, grab a couple jars of meat sauce. Instead of slaving over béchamel, grab a tub of ricotta. And instead of grabbing dried noodles and cooking them, grab fresh lasagna sheets, which are ready to go! This makes lasagna a ten minute assembly with about an hour of baking time- just enough time to enjoy a salad and a glass of wine with friends (or solo!).

Cheater Lasagna

$13.70 for ten or $1.37 per serving

1 package of lasagna sheets- $3.50

2 jars of Bolognese- $4.96

1 small tub of ricotta- $4.49

1 cup of shredded cheese- $0.75

Optional: 1 tablespoon pesto (mix it into the ricotta if you feel like it)

Start off by grabbing a baking dish- this could be a Pyrex one or a stoneware one like le Creuset. I’ve used both, and achieved similar results. I’ve linked some options in the “shop the post” section. Pre-heat your oven on bake at 400 degrees.  Open one of your jars of meat sauce and pour down a healthy layer- this makes sure your noodles don’t stick so make sure it’s a decent layer down there. Lay down a couple lasagna sheets, cutting them to size if necessary. Next, layer on your ricotta, and lay down more lasagna sheets.

Always go meat sauce-sheets-ricotta-sheets-meat sauce and so on. Once you’ve laid down your final sheets, even if you laid ricotta on top of it, put meat sauce to cover the whole situation. If you don’t, your ricotta will dry out and so will the underlying noodles. Next, sprinkle your shredded cheese on top, wrap with tin foil and pop into the oven for 40 minutes, then remove the foil and put it back in the oven for a final 20 minutes.

When you pull your lasagna out, let it sit to cool and set for 10-15 minutes. There’s nothing quite like being burned by molten lasagna.

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Shop the post:

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Small Groove Marble Trivet • Muuto •
Williams Sonoma Nonstick Burger Spatula • Williams-Sonoma •
OXO Silicone Flexible Spatulas • OXO •
Williams Sonoma Open Kitchen Fish Spatula •
MacKenzie-Childs Courtly Check Stainless Steel Spatula • Mackenzie Childs •
Pyrex 13″ x 9″ Covered Baking Dish • Pyrex •
Le Creuset Heritage Stoneware Rectangular Covered Casserole, Midnight Blue • Le Creuset •
Cuisinart CI1136-24CR Chefs Classic Enameled Cast Iron 14-Inch Roasting/Lasagna Pan Cardinal Red • Cuisinart •

What is your favorite pasta dish to make for a crowd?

Freezer Breakfast Bowls

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I hate the morning. Those that have lived with me, travelled with me, worked with me or even just tried to talk to me in the morning know this fact very well. I’m just not my most friendly in the morning, and my extreme morning productivity is really only born out of the internal rage I feel about needing to be out of bed before I feel ready to be.

For this reason, I try to have my breakfasts ready before I go to bed. Sometimes that means having a guacamole pack, bread and a hard-boiled egg or two ready to throw in my bag on my way to the office, and sometimes it means pulling a pre-made meal out of the freezer like my freezer egg wraps! Nothing makes morning rage worse than hanger. These easy italiano breakfast bowls are freezer-friendly and perfect for busy mornings.

Italiano Breakfast Bowls

$16.43 for ~12-13 bowls or $1.26 per serving

4  Potatoes- $2.24

1 tray of Italian sausage ~$9

8 eggs- $1.60

¼ cup of italiano cheese- $0.75

2 zucchini- $2.44

½ an onion- $0.40

Pantry staples: 1 tbs of tomato paste, hot sauce, Italian spices, olive oil, salt and pepper

Start by washing and chopping your potatoes into a medium sized chunk. Put them on an aluminum foil lined cookie sheet, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees until cooked through and crispy.

Once your potatoes are in the oven (just pull them out to cool when they’re done), it’s time to work on that Italian sausage. You just want to fry it up in a large pan until its cooked and finely crumbled, then remove it from the pan to a plate lined with paper towel to cool completely. I’ve said before, the trick to freezing breakfast items is to have everything completely cooled, then refrigerated for 2 hours, and then put in the freezer to freeze in order to avoid condensation ice. That ice will make your eggs rubbery and the entire meal watery upon defrosting and heating. AKA gross.

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Next, crack your eggs into a bowl, whisk and add your hot sauce and Italian cheese. Scramble cook them and remove to another plate to cool. Chop up your onions and zucchini, then place the onions to soften in a pan on the stove. Add Italian seasoning to your preference- once they’re softened then you can add in your zucchini and cook down about half way before adding your tomato paste and cooking it out while they finish cooking. (These pictures are of a batch where I used crushed tinned tomatoes and spaghetti freezer veggie mix… it was what I had around but I like the version I described in the ingredients list much better.) Then, put this mix in a bowl to cool.

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Once everything is nicely cool, take out 12 containers and split everything amongst the 12 containers. I tried to make mine look pretty for these pictures but honestly just split it up and put them in the fridge to cool for 2-3 hours and then pop them in the freezer until you are ready to eat one! Mine usually gets defrosted in my work bag for about an hour and then microwaved for 2-3 minutes.

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Shop the Post:

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Pyrex 8-Piece Mixing Bowl Set with Colored Lids • Pyrex •
Anthropologie Copper Mixing Bowl • Anthropologie •
Martha Stewart Professional Tools Collection Stainless Steel Large Balloon Whisk •
Wire Head Prep Whisk • KitchenAid •
Ziploc® Ziploc Small Square Containers 4ct •
Ziploc® Ziploc To Go Variety Pack Containers 8ct •
Presto 6858 Slimline 16″ Skillet • Presto •
JA Henckels Zwilling Spirit Ceramic Nonstick 8″ & 10″ Skillet Set • Zwilling J.A. Henckels •
Black & Decker Family Sized Electric Skillet – Black • Black & Decker •

Do you have a favorite freezer breakfast? Or are you one of those people that loves the morning? Let me know in the comments!

A Night with Knives- Knife Skills Course Review

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I’m a sucker for Italian food. I love eating it, I love making it… so when my mom invited me to go to a risotto making course put on by the Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group last year, I was totally game. It was honestly an easy sell.

But when she started to insist that I take a Basic Knife Skills course put on by the Sorrentino’s Group, I was a little bit less psyched. A. My chopping was truly not that horrific. I’ve never sliced and diced myself and I cook a lot. B. I was unconvinced that it would be that fun… it seemed like a very academic course to be taking.

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I was wrong. I’m fully ok with admitting when I’m wrong, and this was one of those cases. Chef Jeff was our instructor, and what I thought was going to be a night of learning to chop better ended up being a night of learning how to make a proper marinara, tips for an authentic Bolognese, get more flavor out of my vegetables, cook the perfect chicken entrée, pick the best can of tomatoes and yes- I learned how to chop better. And enjoyed a gourmet meal, a couple glasses of wine, and a few hours of being the painfully slow chopper in the group.

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I didn’t anticipate what great value I was going to get out of this course, which was $90. Maybe it was a flaw in the online marketing for it, which simply said it was a basic knife skills class and “light meal”, along with a complementary chef’s knife. For starters, our group got a chef’s knife and a paring knife (which together sell for 50$ plus tax), and we seriously made so much food that I had three meals plus enough marinara to have friends over for dinner and those glasses of wine I mentioned. Chef Jeff was hands-on, engaged, and while he taught us how to properly use our knives he also passed on loads of tidbits that only someone experienced in the kitchen would know. He also filled the class with the type of humor and laughter that can diffuse even the most nervous of feelings.

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I don’t worry about chopping off my fingers anymore. Maybe I should, but the class built the confidence I needed to attempt to make finer cuts and the skills necessary to do it. Now my meals won’t just taste good- maybe they’ll even look good, too.

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Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group regularly hosts cooking classes, and they’re great to attend with your partner or a friend as well as solo. My family has taken the knife skills class, risotto making, pasta making, macaron making and pizza making classes. There’s a ton of regional courses that you can take as well, and they host seasonal courses (Christmas cookies, Mother’s Day Brunch how-to’s, etc) that fit your life.  Check out the upcoming course offerings at: https://www.sorrentinos.com/cooking-classes/

In accordance with recommendations on disclosing brand partnerships, I am not compensated or sponsored by Sorrentino’s Restaurant Group. They were blissfully unaware that I was a blogger, with Chef Jeff even asking at one point if I cook at home.

 

Fish Tacos 2 Ways!

Hey!

Fish tacos are 100%  one of my favorite indulgences in life. The crisp lettuce, spicy fish, cool and creamy avocado-lime crema and bright pico de gallo… it’s all so, so good. Plus, it’s actually pretty healthy (if you can force yourself to eat in moderation). Unfortunately a lot of the fish you get in fish tacos out a restaurants is breaded and then fried… so this is totally a make-at-home thing if you’re looking to keep it healthy!


I love to make enough spicy fish and fixings to have tacos 2 ways- once for dinner as traditional tacos, and once as a bowl for a nutritious, low carb meal. I figure if I’m going to put in the effort, it may as well last me a few meals!.

Fish Tacos 2 Ways!

Makes 4 meals for $12.71 or $3.18 per serving

For the crema:

2 avocados

1/4 cup greek yogurt

juice of one lime

For the spice rub:

Cumin, chipotle powder, oregano and chili powder. Optional: Southwest seasoning

For the pico de gallo:

3-4 tomatoes (I used vine)

1/2 a jalapeno

1/4 yellow onion

salt/pepper

General: shredded lettuce, corn or flour tortillas, white fish

I like to start by making my pico. I think that the hardest thing ever is to do tiny knife cuts when you’re hungry and just want to eat your dang tacos. Plus, ideally I make the components in this order: pico, shred lettuce, make crema, make fish- this way the crema is cool and the fish is warm.

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Back to the pico. I start by making a very fine dice of a quarter of an onion. Next, I make very fine dice of the tomatoes- if they’re super juicey, dump some seeds etc into a garbage bowl. Lastly, I take a jalapeno and slice the ribs out of half of it and discard along with the seeds. The nice fleshy green part is left, and you guessed it- I really finely dice it. After a very light sprinkle of salt and pepper, it’s ready!

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Next, we’re going to put our blenders to work. Literally, all you’re doing here is dumping 2 pitted and peeled avocados in a blender with 1/4 cup of greek yogurt and the juice of one lime. If you like cilantro, add a bunch in here! I don’t personally, so I didn’t.

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Ok finally, finally, let’s make our fish. I start with 2 fish filets for 4 meals, and in this case I used basa but your end result would be just as delicious with tilapia. I put a tiny bit of olive oil in a pan warming over medium heat and then make my spice mix while it warms up. In a bowl I put 1/2 tablespoon of cumin, 1-2 tablespoons of chili powder, a couple shakes of chipotle powder (this depends on the heat you want) and a scant 1/2 teaspoon of oregano. If you’re adding a southwest spice blend, you’d add it to the bowl now as well.

When your pan is hot, place the fish in the pan and sprinkle ~1/2 of your spice mix over top of the fish. As the fish cooks, start breaking it apart with the spatula. Gradually add the rest of your spice mix as the act of breaking the fish apart gives you more surface area to sprinkle over.

Once your fish is cooked and fully flaked apart, put it in a serving bowl and bring to the table with your tortillas, shredded lettuce, pico de gallo and avocado crema.

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Assembling your tacos:

I assembled my tacos by starting with a shmear of the cream to hold everything down, then a couple spoonfuls of fish, shredded lettuce and a sprinkling of pico. It’s that easy! 20170222_190124

Assembling your taco bowl: Assembling your bowl is just as easy. Lay down a bed of lettuce and then sprinkle fish on top, add a dollop of crema, a generous serving of pico, and enjoy! This is also great with fresh corn and/or black beans if you have some laying around.

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Shop the Post:

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Kate Spade New York ‘Larabee Dot’ Champagne Flutes • Kate Spade •

Orrefors ‘More’ Champagne Flutes • Orrefors •

DENMARK Tabletops Unlimited Denmark Set of 4 Square Salad Plates • Denmark •

TABLETOPS UNLIMITED Tabletops Gallery Round Serving Bowl • Tabletops Unlimited •

Certified International Rainbow Seeds Pasta Serving Bowl • Certified International •

Sophie Conran for Portmeirion Small Porcelain Salad Bowl • Portmeirion •

Cuisinart Velocity Ultra 1-HP Blender • Cuisinart •

Magic Bullet NutriBullet Pro 900 Series Bullet Blender • Magic Bullet •

Do you have a favorite taco recipe? Let me know in the comments!