Showing posts with label tacos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label tacos. Show all posts

Friday, May 31, 2019

The Book Tour Stops Here: A Review of "The Shadow Writer" by Eliza Maxwell, Served with a Recipe for Shrimp Tacos

Happy Friday! I love a short week. I also love a good mystery thriller and I adore shrimp tacos, and this post has all three. I am happy to be the last stop on the TLC Book Tour for The Shadow Writer by Eliza Maxwell and I am pairing my review with some delectable Shrimp Tacos. Enjoy! 

Publisher's Blurb:

Every writer has a story. Some are deadlier than others.

Aspiring author Graye Templeton will do anything to escape the horrific childhood crime that haunts her. After a life lived in shadows, she’s accepted a new job as protégé to Laura West, influential book blogger and wife of an acclaimed novelist. Laura’s connections could make Graye’s publishing dreams a reality. But there’s more to Laura than meets the eye.

Behind the veneer of a charmed life, Laura’s marriage is collapsing. Her once-lauded husband is descending into alcoholism and ruin and bringing Laura nearer to the edge.

As the two women form a bond that seems meant to be, long-buried secrets claw their way into the present, and the line between friendship and obsession begins to blur, forcing each to decide where her loyalties lie. Running from the past is a dangerous game, and the loser could end up dead.

Publisher: Lake Union Publishing (May 1, 2019)

My Review:

The Shadow Writer is my first book from Eliza Maxwell and it won't be my last. I was drawn by the premise and the fact that one of the main characters, Laura, is a book blogger. Graye is a young aspiring author with a tragic background who works her way into a position as Laura's personal assistant. Laura's life might seem enviable to those looking in, except for her alcoholic husband, a famous author whose work has deteriorated after his big break and initial success which Laura heavily influenced. Graye was David's teaching assistant before coming to work for Laura, and although he was once her idol, she is no longer impressed. 

The story is a bit of a slow burn with the plot slowly unraveling secret by secret, and told by the perspectives of Laura, Graye, and Sister Margaret, the nun who helped raise a young Graye after her family tragedy. There were plenty of twists and turns that had me guessing and the tension was steadily built throughout the book. Although there were some suspenseful moments, it was the several smaller dramas that brought the thrills rather than one big "aha" moment. If you like psychological thrillers and domestic thrillers, with intriguing plots, add The Shadow Rider to your summer TBR--it will bring some good chills to a hot summer evening. 


Author Notes:  Eliza Maxwell is the author of The Widow’s WatcherThe Unremembered GirlThe Grave Tender, and The Kinfolk. She writes fiction from her home in Texas, which she shares with her ever-patient husband, two impatient kids, a ridiculous English setter, and a bird named Sarah. An artist and writer, a dedicated introvert, and a British-cop-drama addict, she enjoys nothing more than sitting on the front porch with a good cup of coffee.

Connect with Eliza on her website, Facebook, and Instagram


Food Inspiration: 

There was not a lot of food inspiration in The Shadow Writer but mentions included, pasta and wine, a taco stand with shrimp tacos, Thin Mints, champagne, margaritas, a frosty pink drink, salad, bread and gruel, a facetious mention of "salmon with a side of poison" for a murder mystery event, pizza, coffee, a root beer and a club sandwich, and fresh cherries.

For my book-inspired dish, I decided to make some fish tacos like the ones Laura and Greer enjoyed at a roadside taco stand early in the book. Not a lot of description was given--other than them each getting a plate with two over-stuffed shrimp tacos, so I just did my own thing, pairing Mark Bittman's Spanish-style Simplest and Best Shrimp with a bunch of taco fixins' and adding some of these tasty pickled sweet peppers from Chef Edward Lee.

Mark Bittman says, "Excuse the superlatives; this spin on a Spanish tapa is my favorite, and everyone I serve it to loves it. The shrimp juices infuse the oil, and the sum is beyond delicious. It’s good with bread, over rice, tossed with pasta, or stuffed into tacos.

Other seafood you can use: similar-sized scallops (or larger, though they’ll take longer to cook)."

Mark Bittman's Simplest and Best Shrimp
From How to Everything via
(Makes 4 Servings)

1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, or more as needed
3 or 4 big cloves garlic, cut into slivers
About 1 1/2 lbs shrimp (20 to 30 per lb), peeled, rinsed, and dried
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 1/ 2 tsp hot paprika
chopped fresh parsley leaves for garnish

Warm the olive oil in a large, broad ovenproof skillet or heatproof baking pan over low heat. There should be enough olive oil to cover the bottom of the pan; don’t skimp. Add the garlic and cook until it turns golden, a few minutes.

Raise the heat to medium-high and add the shrimp, some salt and pepper, the cumin, and the paprika. Stir to blend and continue to cook, shaking the pan once or twice and turning the shrimp once or twice, until they are pink all over and the mixture is bubbly, 5 to 10 minutes. Garnish and serve immediately.

I served my shrimp on grilled corn tortillas with cabbage slaw, cilantro, salsa, pickled sweet peppers, guacamole and lime juice.

Notes/Results: I think if you aren't over-stuffing your tacos and needing multiple napkins for the ensuing mess, you just aren't having the full taco experience. These shrimp tacos were definitely the full experience--full of ingredients and flavor. They made for a quick and easy and pretty healthy dinner. Mark Bittman's shrimp were a definite win--I loved the cumin and paprika along with the garlic. I will definitely be making them again. 

Linking up with I Heart Cooking Clubs where this week's them is Take It Outside with outdoor-friendly recipes from any of our 19 featured chefs like Rick Bayless

I'm sharing this post with the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post.

Note: A review copy of "The Shadow Writer" was provided to me by the author and the publisher via TLC Book Tours. I was not compensated for this review and as always, my thoughts and opinions are my own.  
You can see the stops for the rest of this TLC Book Tour and what other reviewers thought about the book here.


Sunday, May 5, 2019

Easy Taco Soup: Vegetarian for Cinco de Mayo and Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammie) Sundays

I was undecided about what soup to make this week and decided that since today is Cinco de Mayo, I would throw together an easy and vegetarian Taco Soup

To make this soup, basically a deconstructed taco, I happened to have a package of Lightlife Smart Ground Mexican Crumbles in my fridge, but if you don't do soy you could certainly use any ground meat or keep it veggie by chopping up and browning mushrooms.This soup can also be made vegan by switching to vegan cheese and sour cream in the toppings. Speaking of the toppings, they of course make the soup, so pick as many of your favorite taco fixins' as you want or can fit in the bowl, and be sure to fry up some corn tortillas cut into strips for the crunch.

Easy Taco Soup
By Deb, Kahakai Kitchen
(Serves 6) 

1 tbsp olive oil
1 (12 oz) package soy crumbles of choice or ground meat or chopped mushrooms
4 green onions, white and green parts divided and chopped
1 medium sweet onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package taco seasoning mix of choice (I use this one by Simply Organic)
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp dried chipotle pepper or pepper of choice, to taste
1 tsp dried oregano
1 can minced green chiles (I used mild)
4 cups low-sodium veggie broth + 2 cups water
1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with juices
1 can creamed corn
1/2 cup nutritional yeast (optional)
1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen
2 cans low-sodium pinto beans or beans of choice 
juice of 1 lime
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Toppings: corn tortillas cut into strips and fried, shredded lettuce, grated cheese, black olives, avocado, chopped green onions, cilantro leaves, lime wedges, Tabasco or hot sauce of choice, etc. 

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add soy crumbles, white part of green onions and diced sweet onion and saute, breaking apart the soy crumbles with a wooden spoon. Cook until onions are softened, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, taco seasoning, cumin, chipotle pepper, oregano and green chiles and saute for about 2 minutes. Add veggie broth and stir in tomatoes, creamed corn, nutritional yeast (if using), corn kernels and beans and bring soup to a boil.

Reduce heat and simmer soup for about 15 minutes. Add lime juice, taste for seasoning and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. 

Ladle into bowls and top with your toppings of choice. Enjoy!

Notes/Results: Nothing fancy, nothing difficult, but a really good soup especially if you are a toppings fanatic like me. You can't see all of the toppings that well in the picture and I forgot the sour cream in the fridge but the lettuce, cheese (grated jack and cheddar mix), avocado, green onions, cilantro, black olives, extra lime juice and crispy tortilla chips was perfect. Next time I might add pickled jalapenos. I kept my soup fairly mild and added Tabasco upon serving but you can spice it up as much as you want. I added creamed corn to thicken it and the nutritional yeast to give it more depth and extra B-vitamins, but you could leave them out. The taco seasoning pack, spices in the ground crumbles and extra spices gave it plenty of flavor. Soup that satisfies my taco craving, I will happily make it again.

My pal Tina is hanging out with me in the Souper Sundays kitchen this week, let's take a look.

Tina of Squirrel Head Manor shared a tasty Tomato Rice Soup from her Soups & Stews Cookbook by Emily Brown saying, "This little cookbook has come in handy. Only 50 recipes but there was something in each category to interest me. The sections are divided by Creamy  Soups, Seafood Soups, Red Soups, Vegetable Soups, Meat Broth based Soups and Stews. ... The idea of mixing the rice and potatoes seemed weird but it turned out fine.  The fresh tomatoes were blitzed with my immersion blender. It's a good vegetarian soup."

At Kahakai Kitchen I shared a Tropical Fruit Salad with Lime-Honey Dressing & Toasted Coconut Chips that was inspired by a description of breakfast on the SS Lurline in my recent book tour review, The Lieutenant's Nurse by Sara Ackerman. (Don't forget to enter my Instagram giveaway for a copy of this great WWII historical novel.) The lime dressing added a tangy tropical punch to the salad, along with the crispy coconut chips.

Thanks to Tina for joining in this week!

About Souper Sundays:

Souper Sundays (going since 2008) now has a format of a picture link each week where anyone interested can post their soups, salads, or sandwiches at any time during the week and I post a recap of the entries the following week.

(If you aren't familiar with Souper Sundays, you can read about of the origins of it here.
If you would like to join in Souper (Soup, Salad, and Sammie) Sundays, I would love to have you! Here's how...

To join in this week's Souper Sunday's linkup with your soup, salad or sandwich:
  • Link up your soup (stew, chili, soupy curries, etc. are fine), salad, or sandwich dish, (preferably one from the current week or month--but we'll take older posts too) on the picture link below and leave a comment on this post so I am sure not to miss you. Also please see below for what to do on your blog post that you link up to Souper Sundays in order to be included in the weekly round-up.

On your entry post (on your blog):
  • Mention Souper (Soup, Salad & Sammies) Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and link back to this post. (Not to be a pain but it's polite and only fair to link back to events you link up at--so if you link a post up here without linking back to it on your post, it will be removed.)
  • You are welcome to add the Souper Sundays logo to your post and/or blog (completely optional).

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!
Click here to enter  
Have a happy, healthy week!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Ina's Roasted (Or Pan-Seared) Salmon Tacos with Cabbage-Cucumber Slaw & Mashed Avocado

I was craving tacos and salmon and Ina Garten has a recipe the combines both and sounded great for an easy Friday night dinner. I made a few small changes to the recipe, including reducing the quantities and pan-searing the salmon as I didn't want to bother with turning on the oven for a couple of pieces of fish.

Roasted Salmon Tacos
Slightly Adapted from Cooking For Jeffrey by Ina Garten &
(Serves 6)

Ingredients for the slaw:
3/4 lb green cabbage, cored and finely shredded
1/2 seedless cucumber, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed & very thinly sliced
1/4 cup good white wine vinegar
3 Tbsp minced fresh dill 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper 

Ingredients for the salmon
olive oil, for greasing the pan
1 3/4 lbs center-cut fresh salmon fillet, skin removed
2 tsp chipotle chile powder (I used a chipotle-garlic spice blend)
1 tsp grated lime zest 

kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice, divided
12 (6-inch) corn tortillas
4 ripe Hass avocados, seeded and peeled
3/4 tsp Sriracha


At least an hour before you plan to serve the tacos, toss the cabbage, cucumber, vinegar, dill, 1 tsp salt, and 1/2 tsp black pepper together in a large bowl. Cover and refrigerate, allowing the cabbage to marinate. 

When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 425°F. Brush a baking dish with olive oil and place the salmon in it. Mix the chile powder, lime zest, and 1 1/2 tsp salt in a small bowl. Brush the salmon with 1 Tbsp of the lime juice and sprinkle with the chipotle seasoning mixture. Roast for 12 to 15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish, until the salmon is just cooked through. (Note: I followed Ina's steps for seasoning the fish but pan fried mine in a bit of mac nut oil in a hot pan--searing the salmon on all sides and cooking it until just cooked through.)

Wrap the tortillas in 2 foil packets and place them in the oven with the salmon. (I toasted mine over my gas grill) Roughly mash the avocados with the remaining 2 Tbsp of lime juice, the Sriracha, 1 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp black pepper.  

To serve, lay 2 warm tortillas on each of 6 plates. Place a dollop of the avocado mixture on one side of each tortilla, then some large chunks of salmon, and finally, some of the slaw. Fold the tortillas in half over the filling (they will be messy!) and serve warm.

Notes/Results: I was intrigued by Ina's combination of the different components but it all worked together amazingly well for some really good salmon tacos. I liked the slaw as I am a big dill fan (you could sub in cilantro or another herb if you aren't) and the touch of sriracha in the guacamole--it wasn't too spicy but there was a nice warmth in the back of my throat. They are pretty messy, so have forks and napkins handy--but they are worth a little mess. I think this is one of the healthier Ina recipes I have cooked/come across, so not only are these tacos the way to her husband Jeffrey's heart (our IHCC theme for the week), I think more recipes and dinners like this would be good for Jeffrey's heart health too! ;-) It all goes together quickly once you have your slaw chilled and tastes great and so I would happily make this recipe again.  

Linking up at I Heart Cooking Clubs where we are cooking The Way to Jeffrey's Heart this week--Ina's recipes that her husband Jeffery loves--which I think pretty much means any Ina recipe! You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.  

Since this recipe features slaw--a salad, and tacos are sandwich-like, I am linking to Souper Sundays here at Kahakai Kitchen. Every Sunday, I round up delicious soups, salads & sandwiches that are linked up on that week's post. You can see the details of how to join in on this week's post.

 Happy Aloha Friday!

Friday, October 13, 2017

Rick Bayless's Pickled Red Onions, Served On His Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic

Looking for recipes featuring garlic and onions and craving tacos, I turned to Rick Bayless for inspiration. I found a recipe for Pickled Red Onions on his website. I thought the tangy lime flavor of the pickled onions would work well as a condiment for tacos and decided to make his recipe for Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic. It's not the first time I''ve made this recipe (as you can see here I made them last year) but it was what I was craving and they make a great meat-free Friday dinner.

The pickled onions are simple and I liked that they used lime juice and salt instead of vinegar. I kept the taco recipe pretty much as written--just replacing the chicken stock with garlic broth and replacing the hard to find epazote with oregano and cilantro. My changes are in red below.

Pickled Red Onions
Recipe from From
(Makes about 1 cup)

1 small red onion, peeled and cut in half
1/2 cups fresh lime juice

With a knife or food processor, thinly slice the onions. Scoop into a non-reactive bowl. 

Pour boiling water over them, count to 10, then immediately pour the onions into a strainer. Shake off all the water, pour the onions back into the bowl, pour on the lime juice and stir in the 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. 

Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. The onions will last for a week or more in the refrigerator.

Mushroom Tacos with Onions and Garlic
Slightly Adapted from
(Makes 4 to 6 Tacos)

12 oz fresh mushrooms, washed and chopped into 1/2 -inch pieces (I sliced them)
1/2 medium white onion, diced
1 or 2 fresh green chiles (roughly 2 serranos or 1 jalapeño), stemmed, seeded and finely chopped
2/3 cup chicken stock or water (I used garlic broth)
1/2 small lime, juiced
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 large ripe tomato, roasted or boiled, cored, peeled and roughly chopped  OR 3/4 of a 15-oz can tomatoes, drained and roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
1 1/2 Tbsp epazote, chopped (optional) (I used 1 Tbsp fresh cilantro & 1/2 Tbsp dried oregano)
salt to taste

Place the mushrooms, onion, chile, broth or water, lime juice and lard or other fat in a medium-size saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, cover and cook 3 minutes. Uncover and cook until all the liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms begin to fry in the fat.

While the mushrooms are cooking, puree the tomato with the garlic in a blender or food processor. 

When the mushrooms begin to fry, add the tomato mixture and optional epazote and cook until the liquid has reduced and the mixture is thick, about 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and scrap into a serving bowl. Serve with tortillas on the side for making tacos.

Notes/Results: I like these tangy pickled onions with their strong lime flavor. They added a bright bite to the meaty mushroom tacos and I think they will be excellent with fish tacos this weekend, as well as with avocado toast or sandwiches. Between the boiling water, salt and lime juice, they don't have the usual red onion bite and they paired well with the sweet yellow onion I used in the tacos. Quick and easy--and I love their bright color too--I will happily make them again. 

As a bonus, some of my other favorite allium-centered recipes from IHCC chefs are:

Jacques Pépin's Garlic Soup:
Garlic Soup with Harissa by Yotam Ottolenghi:

Jacques Pépin's Onion-Crusted Mahi Mahi:

Diana Henry's Cabbage & Leek Colcannon:

Nigel Slater's Leek and Camembert Risotto

And back when I ate meat and poultry--Nigella Lawson's Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic:

I could keep going with many more delicious allium dishes from IHCC chefs but the above were some of my very favorite.
This post is linking up to I Heart Cooking Clubs where it is October's Monthly Featured Dish/Ingredient Challenge: Alliums! We are featuring recipes from any of our current or past IHCC featured chefs that use any member of the allium family such as onions, garlic, leeks, chives, and shallots. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.  

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Heidi Swanson's Five-Minute (Egg) Breakfast Tacos

This is one of those very simple recipes that cause me to wonder, "Why didn't I think of that?"  Breakfast tacos that use smashed hard-boiled eggs and come together in about 5-minutes. I make egg tacos but usually scramble the eggs, or fry them for huevos rancheros but these are even easier and are a great way to use up bits and bobs of greens and herbs you have.

5-Minute Egg Tacos
Adapted from Heidi Swanson via 

Peel a hard-boiled egg, smash it in a small bowl with a bit of yogurt or drizzle of olive oil. Heat a tortilla by throwing it down directly on a very low burner or gas flame. Flip it once or twice, until it is hot, and blistered a bit. Remove and top with the smashed egg, shredded greens, sprouts, micro greens, or chopped herbs. Add a drizzle of hot sauce or salsa. Done.

Notes/Results: I have a feeling that I will be making these often. So simple and really good. I smashed my eggs with olive oil, garlic salt and freshly-ground black pepper and used a favorite locally-made salsa, locally-grown baby micro-green mix and fresh cilantro. I grilled my taco shells on my gas stove burner and was good to go. Avocado would be nice mixed in too--the stores just didn't have good ones this week. Simple, satisfying, and delicious! 

I'm linking this post to I Heart Cooking Clubs where the theme is Face the Day--Heidi Swanson breakfast and brunch recipes. You can see what everyone made by checking out the picture links on the post.

 I'm also linking this post up to the Weekend Cooking event at Beth Fish Reads, a weekly event that is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share. For more information, see the welcome post