Summery Date Night In with a Sweet Tea Smash

My fiance and I will be married in less than a week, and we are more than a little excited! But with all of the friends, family, and festivities coming up, what we really need right now is some time to ourselves to get ready for this next big step together.  So last night we threw together a simple date night in to give us a little time to get to hang out before all of the hubbub commences!

The last thing either of us needed was to add anything else to our crazy to-do lists, so a simple meal on my teeny balcony with lots of sunshine, happy summer music, and a Southern cocktail really hit the spot!


The Menu:

-fish tacos with creamy jalapeno slaw

-chips and salsa

-ice cold watermelon

The Cocktails:

-Sweet Tea Smash:  sweet tea and bourbon with lots of lemon and ice–this is so refreshing and cool on a hot summer afternoon

The Soundtrack:

-Railroad Earth–check out some of their hits while you sip a summery cocktail!






Tacos al Pastor

Our friend Catherine is an excellent cook. She always has been and often cooks gluten free. I saw these tacos of hers and knew immediately that I wanted to make them for Cinco de Mayo and asked if I could share her recipe of hers.

So here we have our very first guest post… Thank you so much, Cath!!! 

Tacos are my very favorite thing. Or maybe nachos…it is a close race. I think they are both the perfect treat, and we do many versions. This is one of my favorite ones because you make the filling of the tacos in the crockpot, so that makes this easy recipe even easier. Who wouldn’t want to come home to a house filled with the smell of tacos after a long day?

There is also a way to do this in a hot skillet on the stove, but I prefer the crockpot for days when I have been working.

I do take the time to grill the corn. Grilling the corn is actually quicker and easier than it sounds and adds depth to the tacos.

For the pork:

1 Boston butt/pork shoulder
A good dusting of cumin
A capful of hot Mexican chili powder, or regular chili powder
1 can of chilies in adobo sauce (in the ethnic foods aisle at most grocery stores)
3 table spoons/cloves of minced garlic
3 tablespoon/small handful of minced cilantro 
Pineapple chopper into cubes
1 teaspoon olive oil

First, sear the pork on all sides in a hot skillet with the olive oil. Once it has a nice crust on all sides, put in the crockpot. Add in the chilies in adobo sauce (whole can), garlic, cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. If you are doing this in the a.m. before work, set on low. If doing later in the day, set on high. About 30 min before you are ready to serve, add in diced up pineapple. The pork will be very tender, and you can shred it easily.

For the corn:

Olive oil
Dash of chili powder

Toss fresh cobs of corn in the olive oil, salt, & pepper to coat the corn in a small amount of olive oil. Grill over direct heat, turning frequently, for 5-10 min until the corn has good color & caramelization. Once done, cut corn off the cob.

For assembling the tacos (all optional, and all easy to sub):

Diced red onion
Lime wedges
Sliced radishes
Corn (or flour) tortillas (I prefer corn + they are gluten free)
Crumbled goat cheese, feta or a crumbled Mexican cheese (cotija, etc.)
Guacamole (I cheat & buy it from whole foods since theirs is awesome)
Grilled corn

Heat the tortillas (gas range, microwave, or oven), then put guacamole on each tortilla. Spoon the pork/pineapple on to the taco, add the corn and any of the other toppings. Squeeze a lime wedge over the top & enjoy!

*This recipe makes a LOT of taco filling, so you can freeze portions to pull out later, or these are great for a crowd. A great option for any Cinco De Mayo Fete*

**Cilantro lime rice is an easy side to add with these. Tastes great, and is very quick & easy!*

Mahi Tacos with Mango Salsa and Mexican Slaw

Fish tacos are always one of my favorite things. I feel like I make them throughout the Spring and Summer. Honestly should starting making them in the middle of January when I am wishing for any taste of Summer (will try to remember this next year).

You can make so many different variations making these an easy dish depending on what you already have at home.



Mango Salsa:




Red Onion



Peel mango with vegetable peeler. Hold mango carefully as you slice away from the pit as it will be quite slippery once peeled; then dice and add to small bowl

Chop avocado. Add to mango.

Finely dice 1/2 of a red onion, add to bowl.

Add the juice AND zest of one lime

Add freshly washed, chopped cilantro (I LOVE cilantro so I use a lot but even just a little bit will do the trick)

Sprinkle sea salt on top and stir. Set aside until ready to top your fish tacos.



Mexican-y Slaw:

Cabbage – Either one bag of store bought angel hair slaw or 1/2 of a cabbage thrown in the food processor

Chopped Cilantro

1 Tbs. Mayonnaise

1 Tbs. Vegetable Oil

Juice AND Zest of 1/2 of a lime (for this whole meal buy two limes; one for mango salsa; 1/2 for this; 1/2 to squeeze on tacos before serving or in your water.. or beer)

1 Tbs. Sea Salt

Pinch of Sugar (1/2 tsp. ish)


Cayenne Pepper


Combine bottom 9 ingredients in a bowl to create a dressing, season with cumin, red pepper and paprika according to your taste. It will be a strong flavor but is needed to give a boost to the cabbage.

Toss the cabbage with the dressing, cover and place in the fridge to season. Could be made ahead of time.



Regardless of which white fish I find at the grocery or have in my freezer I use the same seasoning before I saute/grill the fish.

Fish Taco Seasoning:

2 tsp – Paprika

1 tsp – Cumin

1 tsp – Garlic Powder

1/4 – 1/2 tsp – Red Pepper (depending on the level of heat you like)

Salt and Pepper

Once fish is patted dry and seasoned on both sides, heat a small bit of vegetable oil in a skillet (or send these outside to be grilled). Add fish and cook for 3 minutes per side, until the fish is white and you cannot see through it.

For a more traditional tacos use corn tortillas, for an Americanized version use flour tortillas. Or really just use whatever you have. If you have a gas range run the tortillas over the flame to char them a bit, if not place them on a plate, dampen a paper towel and put on top of tortillas; place in microwave for 20 seconds. Both of these if just to add some warmth to the tortilla and neither of these are necessary.

This is all best served with a cerveza or a marg. 






Taco Salad

I find myself asking family and friends several times a month/week/day what they are making for dinner. I always need recipe inspo and reminders. Sometimes I just have a block and cannot come up with anything that sounds appetizing.

Taco salads are one of those meals I often forget about but every time I make them they are so good and husband approved.

For a healthier version of one that does not skimp on any of the exciting things, I always substitute ground turkey for ground beef. It is so good and saves many calories and grams of fat.

Below I am going to write the steps that I take and the ingredients that I use but everything is up to you!

Taco Salad:

– Brown the ground turkey in a medium sized skillet

– Drain any grease, add 2/3 cup of water and seasoning.

I use either Less Sodium Taco Seasoning packet or I make my own based on this recipe,

– Chop Romaine lettuce and cilantro, toss together.

Plate your greens, top with ground turkey  add your favorites!

This week we are using chopped jalapenos, cherry tomatoes, a bit of grated cheddar cheese, green onions and the most important part – Fiesta Ranch Dressing!!


For the dressing:

One small container of fat free Greek yogurt

Approximately 1/4 package of Fiesta Ranch seasoning (it doesn’t take much and if you only use a 1/4 then you have 3 more uses from this one little packet!)

1 Tbs. of your favorite salsa

While the turkey is browning I combine this and put it back in the refrigerator until everything is ready.

Other topping ideas:


Black Olives

Squeeze of lime

What are your favorite toppings?

Well aware this is absolutely elementary but I hope you enjoy!!

***Julia likes to omit the cheese and make a quick Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette to make this recipe gluten and dairy free!

Taco Night

I would happily eat Mexican food every day of my life.  Not only is it delicious, but the Tex-Mex version is quick to make and inexpensive.  My fiance William and I have tacos about once a week because of all of these winning qualities, and here’s how we do it.

Chicken Tacos

-2 chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces

-2 Tbsp. canola oil

-2 tsp. cumin

-1 tsp. coriander

-1 dash garlic powder

-1 pinch salt

-corn tortillas

Optional Toppings


-green onions


-red onion

-corn and black bean salsa*

Combine the canola oil, cumin, coriander, garlic powder, and salt in a Ziploc bag and add your chicken.  Let this marinade overnight or for at least a couple of hours.  Heat a cast iron pan over medium high heat, and add your chicken.  Allow this to cook without moving it around very often.  This will result in a nice char on the outside.  In the mean time, heat your tortillas over a gas range or you can warm them in your microwave.  Let everyone top their tacos how they please and enjoy!

*I made my corn and black bean salsa by combining 1 can of black beans (drained), 1 can of sweet corn (drained), 1 carton of cherry tomatoes (chopped), 1 green onion (chopped), a little red onion (diced), and a vinaigrette that I made with olive oil, lime juice, salt, crushed red pepper flake, and a pinch of sugar.  This was delicious to eat with tortilla chips too!