Lemongrass Shrimp Salad

lemongrass-shrimp-salad-recipe Gone are the days of hearty winter dishes! Spring has arrived and with it has come crisp, lighter fare. I’m getting in the mood with this lemongrass shrimp salad.

Shrimp is one of my favorite foods of all time. Hot, cold, spicy, mild, It’s super versatile, and good on pretty much anything. I was drawn to this recipe from Cooking Light’s new Global Kitchen cookbook because of the noodles involved. Anytime I try to serve The Hubs salad for dinner, I have make sure its packaged in a way that he’ll eat it without complaint. This generally means adding meat, but it could also mean adding noodles.


The Hubs is a carb/noodle fanatic, but me, not so much. Much to his chagrin, I rarely make any type of pasta or noodle. When he found the noodles in this salad hidden under the greens and veggies, he was super stoked, and I knew I had a winner on my hands.

lemongrass-shrimp-salad Spicy shrimp, cool veggies, crunchy peanuts, and noodles for The Hubs. This is pretty much my perfect meal. If you had your choice to eat your PERFECT meal, what would it be?

Lemongrass Shrimp Salad


    For the shrimp
  • 1/3 cup Thai fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped peeled fresh lemongrass
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 32 large shrimp, peeled and deveined (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • For the sauce
  • 1 cup fresh lime juice (about 9 medium limes)
  • 3/4 cup shredded carrot
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup Thai fish sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 red Thai chiles, seeded and minced
  • For the salad
  • 8 ounces rice vermicelli
  • 3 1/2 cups shredded Boston lettuce, divided
  • 2 cups fresh bean sprouts, divided
  • 1 3/4 cups shredded carrot, divided
  • 1 medium cucumber, halved lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced (about 1 1/2 cups), divided
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup unsalted dry-roasted peanuts, finely chopped


  1. To prepare shrimp, combine first 6 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic bag; seal. Marinate in refrigerator 1 hour, turning occasionally. Remove shrimp from bag; discard marinade.
  2. To prepare sauce, combine the lime juice and next 5 ingredients (through chiles), stirring with a whisk until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  3. To prepare remaining salad, place rice vermicelli in a large bowl; cover with boiling water. Let stand 20 minutes. Drain. Combine the noodles, shallot oil, 1 3/4 cups lettuce, 1 cup sprouts, 1 cup carrot, and 3/4 cup cucumber, tossing well.
  4. To cook shrimp, prepare the grill to medium-high heat.
  5. Place shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until done. Place 3/4 cup noodle mixture in each of 8 bowls; top each serving with 4 shrimp, about 3 tablespoons of sauce. Serve with remaining lettuce, bean sprouts, carrot, cucumber, mint, and peanuts.
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**Recipe from Cooking Light 

Rhubarb Pichuberry Crumb Bars

Rhubarb Pichuberry Crumb Bars | betsylife.com #12bloggers Rhubarb is a quintessential sign of spring in my book. This month’s 12 bloggers theme is sweet spring treats, so of course I immediately knew I had to use rhubarb. Did you know I had never even tried rhubarb before until Kelley and I started Seasonalpotluck.com and we featured it as one of our inaugural ingredients? It was love at first taste!

Finding and trying new ingredients is one of my most favorite parts of  cooking. The other day I was at the grocery store and found these funny little berries wrapped in a green husk that were labeled “pichuberry”. Naturally I bought them, and took to Instagram to find out what they were all about. My friends informed me they are also known as Cape Gooseberries, and pineapple ground cherries, and were similar to very sweet tomatoes or even regular cherries. I figured I could work them into this sweet spring treat I was formulating.

Rhubarb Pichuberry Crumb Bars | betsylife.com #12bloggersMy other favorite thing to do in the kitchen is make something with all my pantry leftovers. These rhubarb pichuberry crumb bars may seem intentional, but they were born from a mish-mash of randomness that I had on hand. Let me just say, I’m glad to have used up the rest of those hazelnuts, and boy, did they give these bars a great flavor. I brought them to work with me, and the girls loved them so much they asked if there was crack in them! I said no, just hazelnuts.

rhubarb-pichu berry-crumb-bar Seriously though, these are quite possibly one of the MOST delicious things I have ever made in my entire life. Add them to your MUST MAKE list right now!

Don’t forget I have 11 other partners in sweet spring treat crime! Be sure to head over and see what my cohorts are cooking up for you springtime pleasure.


Rhubarb Pichu Berry Crumb Bars from Betsy Life

Strawberry Sorbet from Home Cooking Memories

Lemon Pistachio Ice Box Pie from A Little Claireification

Springtime Blondie Bars from The Rebel Chick

Edible Flower Bouquet from A Million Moments

Spring Candy Bark from A Night Owl Blog

Spring Snack Mix from Bless This Mess Please

Pink Chocolate Covered Easter Egg Rice Krispie Treats from Mom Endeavors

Honey Pistachio Granola from Eat Your Heart Out

Fruit Salsa & Edible Butterfly Cinnamon Chips from See Vanessa Craft

Pineapple Coconut Gooey Cake from Around My Family Table

Strawberry Whip from Plugged In Family

Rhubarb Pichuberry Crumb Bars


    For the crust
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup ground hazelnuts
  • For the topping
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces unsalted butter, cold & cubed
  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup shredded coconut
  • For the filling
  • 1 8oz package of pichuberries, husks removed, and sliced in half
  • 12 ounces fresh rhubarb, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup whole wheat flour


  1. Spray 9 x 13" pan with nonstick spray, line with parchment paper, and spray with nonstick again.
  2. To make the crust, cream butter, sugar, and salt in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Add vanilla.
  3. Turn mixer to low and add in flour and ground hazelnuts until combined.
  4. Press dough into the prepared pan and chill till firm.
  5. Bake at 325 degrees for 25 minutes rotating halfway through. Remove from oven and cool completely.
  6. Using a food processor or a pastry blender, combine flour, brown sugar, and salt. Add in cubed butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
  7. Empty topping into bowl and mix in oats and coconut. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  8. Once the crust is cool, make your filling.
  9. Toss cut up rhubarb and pichuberries with vanilla and sugar. Add flour and toss until well coated.
  10. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  11. Place rhubarb pichuberry mixture on top of cooled shortbread.
  12. Sprinkle 2 cups crisp topping evenly over the filling.
  13. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Allow to cool completely in pan. Refrigerate.
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How to be a Super Aunt

super aunt I’m a proud Aunt to 11 nieces and nephews ages 3 weeks-almost 16 years. These cuties, and all my friends kids, bring so much joy to my life. With so many years of experience under my belt, I feel as though I’m qualified to offer some advice to those of you new Aunt’s out there on how to take your Aunt-ing to the next level. These are my tips on how to be a super Aunt.

1. Listen and play along: Kids have a lot of randomness going on in their minds. Often times, it takes a loooooong time for them to express their ideas. Sometimes parents have time to sit and wait for their kids to tell them all about the pirate ship they imagined in the backyard, and how it eats flowers and the captain is a koala bear and how its made of candy, but most of the time parents have to worry about nap times, and feeding schedules, and making sure their house is clean and safe for their family. This is where Aunts come in. While Mom is washing the lunch dishes, and putting the laundry away, sit and listen to the spew of imagination coming out of their little mouths. Ask what kind of candy the pirate ship is made out of. Ask the koala bear’s name. If the kids are older, listen to what’s going on with their friends, and will school. Mom will be glad to have uninterrupted time time to plow through her chores, and the kids will be happy to have a captive audience.

2. Bend the Rules: It’s no secret that kids need structure, but every once in a while its ok the bend the rules. For consistency’s sake, parents need to uphold the rules of the house, but as an Aunt, its perfectly ok to take some liberties. I let the kids have 2 cupcakes. I let the kids skip their nap so we can go to the movies. I buy the kids the lego set their parents said no to. I let them wear their pajamas to the park. Bending the rules makes for special bonding time, and sets the stage for life long memories.

3. Honor all requests: Read the book again….and again. Play the dance video game. Let them style your hair. Play with the train set for hours. Spin them around and around and around. As an adult, I have to say no way too often in my life. Saying yes to all these innocent requests not only grows the bond between my nieces and nephews and I, but it helps to soften my old soul in the process.

4. Never lose your patience: Remember, you are not a parent. You don’t get to spend all your time with these little ones which is good and bad at the same time. Sure you don’t get to watch them grow up day to day, but you also don’t have to deal with all the frustrations that come along with daily parenting. If kids do choose to act up during the short, precious time you have together, you can’t lose your patience. It’s way easier for an Aunt to keep perspective on a  situation then a parent who is constantly engrossed in it day after day, so laugh it off, stay calm, and take a more lighthearted approach.

5. Create a tradition: When I was a kid my Aunt would take us shopping when we would make our annual visit to her house in Pennsylvania. I’m 33 years old and still remember these trips. I’m working on building traditions with my nieces and nephews as well. Currently I send all kids age 5 and over $1 for every year that they are old plus one to grow on for every birthday. It’s not much, but it lets them know that I care about their birthday, and I know how old they are (not an easy thing to keep track of with so many!)  I take my nephew Luke on a special date every time I visit him. I’m pen pals with my niece Campbell. I’m working on building these traditions with each and every one of them. When you only get to visit maybe once a year like I do, it’s important to make that time count.

Being and Aunt is the absolute best! All the fun and none of the responsibility. I hope that years from now my nieces and nephews think as highly of me as I do of them, and I hope that we can keep our bond growing in the right direction for the rest of our lives.


Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake

Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake | Betsyilfe.com I’ve got spring fever which is really fueling my bundt inspiration this month. I have been seeing tons of gorgeous, fresh rhubarb everywhere lately, so I though why not take the classic strawberry-rhubarb combination, and turn it into a bundt cake.

We’re lucky living here in Southern California because in addition to the rhubarb, we get fresh strawberries long before the rest of the country. Our farmers markets have been bursting with strawberries for weeks, and I’ve been snacking on them like candy. I actually wound up eating the strawberries I bought for this cake, and had to go out and buy another batch when I finally got around to baking.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake | Betsyilfe.com

Once I finally did make this cake, it was well worth it. I had envisioned a cake swirled with bright fuchsia colored rhubarb curd, but my curd would up more of a beige color.  No matter because the flavor of this cake more than made up for the monochrome color. Talk about springtime in a bite! If you’ve never had strawberry and rhubarb together, definitely make this cake as your introduction.

Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake | Betsyilfe.com Spring is such and exciting time of year food-wise. Having access to bright, fresh ingredients once again after a long winter of root vegetables is so inspiring to me. What are your favorite flavors of spring?

Strawberry Rhubarb Bundt Cake


    For the rhubarb curd
  • 8 ounces fresh rhubarb, leaves removed and discarded
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 ounces (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into small chunks
  • For the cake
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 2/3 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 2 cups sliced strawberries


    To make the curd
  1. Chop rhubarb into 1-inch pieces and place in a small saucepan with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, then simmer for about 20 minutes until rhubarb is soft and you have a nice pink juice. Strain and let cool.
  2. Whisk together 2/3 cup rhubarb juice (reserve the rest for another use), sugar, and eggs in a small saucepan. Cook over low-medium heat, stirring constantly and scraping the sides and bottom of the pot with a wooden spoon, until the mixture thickens and can coat the back of a spoon.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Strain through a fine mesh strainer and let cool. Cover and refrigerate at least an hour until firm.
  4. To make the cake
  5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly grease and flour a 10-inch bundt pan.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder and salt.
  7. In a large mixing bowl, cream together butter and sugar until fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.
  8. In a food processor, blend together strawberries and greek yogurt.
  9. Alternately add the dry ingredients and yogurt mixture in 3 additions beginning and ending with dry ingredients.
  10. Pour 2/3 batter into prepared pan. Pour rhubarb curd over batter and use a knife to swirl the curd into the batter. Top with remaining batter. Bake at 350 for 65-70 minutes. Allow to cool in the pan for 15 minutes. Remove from pan and cool completely. Serve with sliced strawberries.
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The Great List 04.04.2014

Squaw Valley California I bet you never thought you’d see a snowy pic on this blog, especially on a Great List post. The snow did actually play a Great part of my last two weeks (sorry I missed you last Friday) so I thought I’d just go for it. The past 4 days have been ROUGH. After spending an awesome weekend in Lake Tahoe with friends last weekend, I was knocked out by a massive cold, which I was forced to battle through all week long. The good news is, I’m still standing and ready to forget the coughing, sneezing and nose blowing, and focus on the things that kept me going through it all.

1. It’s no secret that I HATE snow. If I never had to see it again for the rest of my life I honestly would not mind. However, The Hubs was the best man at a wedding in snowy Squaw Valley last weekend so I was forced to face my frosty nemesis. It was cold. It was wet. It was all the terrible things I remembered it to be.  As we were sitting in church, watching our friends get married in front of a wall of floor to ceiling windows with a gorgeous view of Lake Tahoe, it began to snow like I had never seen before in my life. It was a waterfall of huge fluffy flakes, and it made me feel like I was inside a snow globe. Even I couldn’t deny the beauty of the moment. The fact that our friends had dreamed about a snowy wedding, and it began right as they started reciting their vows made for exquisitely  beautiful experience for everyone in attendance. I feel lucky to have been able to witness that.

2. I returned home from our trip to a garden full of fresh sprouts! I kind of geek out over my garden each year, and seeing those tiny, green sprouts make me feel like a proud parent. So far, my zucchini and squash are doing awesome. Half my cucumbers look good and the other half look terrible. The tomatoes and peppers seem fine, and everything else is sprouting beautifully! Only a few more months of TLC before I can finally enjoy the fruits of my labor.

3. It rained quite a bit this week in San Diego, but mostly only at night and early in the morning, then the skies made way for beautiful sunshine. This not only ensured normal traffic flow, which really made my busy week tolerable, but it also made for some pretty gorgeous rainbows. Who doesn’t love seeing a rainbow?

By this time next week I’ll be in Bolivia! I’ve been looking forward to this trip for such a long time, and I’m getting super excited. I hope you all enjoy not only this weekend, but the next several weekends as well. I’ll be back to my Great List on April 26th!

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of La Marca Prosecco.  It is intended for an audience over 21 years of age.

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco

After careful planning I finally got my garden in the ground the other weekend. Three years in the making, I have high hopes that this garden is going to be my best and most bountiful yet.

For any good garden you have to start with a plan of attack. Armed with the plans I drew out, a load of supplies from Home Depot and a little bubbly, I got to work. I’m a big believer that wine makes all projects more fun, and La Marca prosecco definitely helped this one.

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco

The worst part of gardening in my opinion is preparing the soil and the beds. It’s just a lot of digging, raking and sweating. Definitely not so fun. That’s followed by my favorite part, planting, then watering. This year I got myself a soaker hose and a timer, so I had to carefully lay out the hose to ensure even watering.

Olive, always eager to “help”, enjoyed herself by splashing in the pool and running around like a maniac while I worked. Thanks for the help Olive.

After several hours, I had sore muscles, dirty fingernails, and a beautiful garden to show for my efforts. I’m pretty darn proud of what I’ve got going this year.

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco

Of course I had to reward myself with another glass (or two) of La Marca prosecco. Here’s the thing about bubbly, its not just for celebrations, at least not in my world. Sure I was celebrating another year of fresh, home grown veggies, but I’d also gladly pop some La Marca to cheers for a sunny day, or completing a big project at work, or just making it through a work week in general. I once read this piece of  advice,

“Burn the candles, use the nice sheets, wear the fancy lingerie. Don’t save it for a special occasion. Today is special.”

The same applies for drinking sparkling wine. Every moment can be a sparkly one if you just treat it as such.

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco

I’m already dreaming about all the amazing food I’m going to make once these plants start producing veggies. Instead of waiting, I went down to the farmers market and picked up supplies to get a jump on my culinary inspirations.

Robust summer salads are a favorite of mine, so I got to work making zucchini and squash ribbons, massaging kale, and chopping tomatoes and avocados. I added in some chickpeas for protein to appease The Hubs who doesn’t share my love of salad for dinner.

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco I grow fresh herbs year round, so I snipped some of those to use in the salad dressing. The finished product was beautiful, fresh and majorly delicious. La Marca prosecco was the perfect pairing, naturally.

Fresh Garden Salad with La Marca Prosecco

Fresh Garden Salad


    For the salad
  • 1 head lacinto kale
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • juice from one lemon
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 1 cup cooked chickpeas
  • 1 pint cherry/grape tomatoes
  • 1 medium zucchini squash, cut into ribbons
  • 1 medium yellow squash, cut into ribbons
  • 1/2 avocado, diced
  • For the dressing
  • 4 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp fresh, chopped herbs (I used parsley, basil, oregano and chives)


  1. Thoroughly wash kale and pat dry. Remove stems/ends, and chop.
  2. Add olive oil, lemon and salt and massage for 5 minutes until kale becomes soft
  3. Rinse and drain chickpeas and slice tomatoes in half.
  4. Combine all salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  5. Whisk together all dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad. Toss to coat.
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The next time you’re in a celebratory mood, whether its because you’ve got an awesome garden started, or if you’re just feeling festive in general, definitely pick up some La Marca prosecco. It’s super affordable, and makes any occasion a bit sparklier.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of La Marca Prosecco.  It is intended for an audience over 21 years of age. 


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Spaghetti Squash, Leek and Potato Frittata

Spaghetti squash, leek and potato frittata | Betsylife.com

Dinner has got to be easy this week. I think I’m going to need at least 3 days to recover from the wedding we attended over the weekend. Let me just say, Ken and Page definitely know how to throw a party! The wedding was beautiful and The Hubs and I had a wonderful time.

By enjoying ourselves SO much, we have a killed off a few brain cells, most likely the ones that allow me to buy a complete list of ingredients, and make something cohesive for dinner. While I wait for those brain cells to grow back, I’m going to stick to cooking-from-the-pantry, one skillet meals.

Spaghetti squash, leek and potato frittata | Betsylife.com

I’ll start things off with this Spaghetti squash, leek and potato frittata I found from Cooking Light. Mix, pour, cover and cook. It doesn’t get much simpler than that.

If anyone else is feeling brain dead or overwhelmed, I’ve got some good news for you. If you see a recipe that sounds good that you want to save for later, you can now save all my recipes in one place via ZipList.


What’s Ziplist? Its a cool site that allows you to collect recipes from your favorite blogs all in one place. It not only will save the recipe for you to make later, it will populate a shopping list for you too. Just click save recipe on any of my posts, and Ziplist will save it for you in your account. No remembering needed.

If you want to access it later, or get the shopping list for it, you can just click recipe box or shopping list from the main menu bar at the top of this site. Super easy. Great for those of us who have a hard time focusing on details after an epic hangover.


Start now! Save this easy, and healthy spaghetti squash, leek and potato frittata for another night when you don’t have the energy or brain capacity to make a fancy dinner.


Spaghetti Squash, Leek and Potato Frittata


  • 1/3 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh or 2 teaspoons dried basil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups cooked spaghetti squash
  • 1 teaspoon stick margarine or butter
  • Cooking spray
  • 2 cups frozen Southern-style hash brown potatoes, thawed
  • 1 cup thinly sliced leek (about 1 large)
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) shredded Gruyère or Swiss cheese


  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl; stir in squash.
  2. Melt the margarine in a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat. Add the hash brown potatoes and sliced leek, and sauté for 7 minutes or until lightly browned. Add the egg mixture to skillet. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes or until the center is almost set. Uncover, and sprinkle with cheese. Preheat broiler. Wrap handle of skillet with foil, and broil frittata for 5 minutes or until the cheese melts.
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Sichuan Beef Soup

Sichuan Beef Soup I’m heading to the snow in NorCal today so I thought I’d pop in with this Sichuan beef soup to keep us all warm while I’m away. Can I just say how truly sorry I am for those of you who are still unwillingly dealing with snow in late March? Seriously. That sucks.

I’m off to a wedding otherwise I wouldn’t be purposely going near snow if my life depended on it.

I am actually looking forward to a few quiet days away from the office to just relax. I’ve got tons of  blog stuff to work on to make sure you guys don’t forget me while I’m in South America in a few weeks. I’d never leave you guys empty handed.

Sichuan Beef Soup Life has been hectic lately which often stifles creativity. I’m hoping this trip, and my trip to Bolivia on the 9th,  help me gain a fresh perspective on everything that I’ve been involved in lately, and give me the time to thoughtfully plan what I want to tackle next. I certainly can’t complain about lack of ideas or opportunity these days which is a true blessing.

Sichuan Beef Soup If you’re buried in snow this weekend, know that for once I’m right there with you! Warm up with a bowl of this Sichuan beef soup, and have a virtual hot toddy toast with me from the ski lodge. Cheers!

Sichuan Beef Soup


  • 3 quarts water
  • 2 pounds (2-inch-thick) bone-in beef shanks
  • 2 teaspoons peanut oil or canola oil
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon chile garlic sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black bean garlic sauce (such as Lee Kum Kee)
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns
  • 3 star anise
  • 1 cup sliced green onions, divided
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 plum tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 baby bok choy, cut in half lengthwise
  • 1/2 pound fresh Chinese-style wheat noodles
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Bring 3 quarts water to a boil in a large Dutch oven. Add beef shanks; boil until surface of meat is no longer red (about 6 minutes). Drain shanks; cool slightly. Remove meat from bones; reserve bones. Cut meat into cubes.
  2. Rinse pan; wipe clean with paper towels. Heat pan over high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat. Add white onion, ginger, and garlic; stir-fry 4 minutes or until browned. Stir in 6 cups water, chile garlic sauce, and black bean sauce. Place peppercorns and star anise on a double layer of cheesecloth. Gather edges of cheesecloth together; tie securely. Add cheesecloth bag, 1/2 cup green onions, sugar, and soy sauce to pan. Return meat and bones to pan. Bring to a simmer. Partially cover, and simmer gently for 2 hours or until meat is tender. Uncover and simmer 1 hour or until reduced to about 5 cups. Cool to room temperature; cover and chill overnight.
  3. Skim fat from soup; discard fat. Discard bones and cheesecloth bag. Bring soup to a simmer. Add tomatoes and bok choy; cook 5 minutes or until bok choy is tender.
  4. Cook noodles according to package directions. Place about 1/2 cup noodles in each of 4 bowls. Ladle 1 cup soup into each bowl, dividing bok choy evenly. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons green onions and 1 tablespoon cilantro.
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Recipe from Cooking Light 

Chili Tangerine Shrimp Tostadas #Shrimpshowdown

Chili tangerine shrimp tostadas with avocado cream and tangerine margaritas #shrimpshowdown www.betsylife.com

March Madness is here and competition is in the air. I’m getting into the spirit with Oxo, the NFI shrimp council, and 30 other bloggers for a Shrimp Showdown!

Coming up with a shrimp recipe is easy. I love shrimp, and can think of a million ways I’d love to eat it. Narrowing it down to one, was the hard part. The deciding factor to me ended up being a gorgeous box of Ojai Pixie tangerines I got from Melissa’s Produce. These juicy beauties are just about the most delicious fruit around. When they arrived I first thought, “Margaritas!” which then led to thoughts of a total Mexican feast. Typical.

Shrimp paired with citrus and chilies is pretty much a staple here in San Diego, and when served with tangerine margaritas, Its impossible not to get into the summertime spirit.

Chili tangerine shrimp tostadas with avocado cream #shrimpshowdown www.betsylife.com Oxo made this whole project a cinch with some awesomely handy tools. Their shrimp cleaner is a stroke of pure genius! I wish I had discovered this tool years ago because cleaning shrimp is the absolute pits. It shells AND deveins shrimp in one fell swoop. I’m in love.

Chili tangerine shrimp tostadas with avocado cream #shrimpshowdown www.betsylife.com Gorgeous (and healthy!) shrimp from the NFI shrimp council, beautiful local produce, and some seriously helpful kitchen tools, made for one enjoyable day in the kitchen for this gal (and one happy dinnertime for her Hubs).

Chili tangerine shrimp tostadas with avocado cream and tangerine margaritas #shrimpshowdown www.betsylife.com

You’re not going to believe this but it gets even better. Now you can win all the awesome, shrimp friendly, Oxo tools you’ll need to make your own shrimp-tastic meal. Leave a comment telling me how you like to eat your shrimp, and use the widget below to enter to win

  • Shrimp Cleaner
  • Flexible Kitchen & Herb Snips
  • Silicone Steamer
  • Wooden Lemon Reamer
  • 3 Piece Bowl and Colander Set 
  • 12″ Tongs with Silicone Heads
  • $100 Visa Gift Card from the NFI Shrimp Council

Not a bad prize if I do say so myself. Good luck and happy shrimping!

Chili Tangerine Shrimp Tostadas


    For the Shrimp
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp red pepper flakes
  • ¼ cup tangerine juice
  • 1 teaspoon tangerine zest
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro for garnish
  • For the avocado cream
  • 1/2 cup avocado, smashed
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • zest and juice of 1 tangerine
  • 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • For the tostadas
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded cabbage
  • diced avocado
  • cilantro for garnish


  1. Stir together avocado cream ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Refrigerate.
  2. Whisk together 4 cloves minced garlic, chili powder, red pepper flakes, tangerine juice, tangerine zest, soy sauce, brown sugar in a medium bowl. Add shrimp and marinate for 15 minutes.
  3. Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium high heat. Add shrimp to pan, and cook, turning once until shrimp is pink and cooked through.
  4. Meanwhile, heat tortillas one at a time in a dry skillet. Cook until crispy on both sides.
  5. Spread crispy tortilla with a generous layer of avocado cream. Top with shredded cabbage, diced avocado and shrimp. Garnish with cilantro.
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Tangerine Margaritas


  • 1 lime wedge
  • Fine salt
  • 2 ounces Casa Noble tequila
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 2 ounces fresh tangerine juice
  • 2/3 ounces Triple Sec liqueur


  1. Rub the rim of the glass with a wedge of lime and dip the rim into a saucer of fine salt. Place the tequila, lime juice, tangerine juice, triple sec liqueur into a shaker. Shake to mix and strain into a glass of ice. Garnish with a wedge of tangerine on the rim of the glass.
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If you want to see what the other Shrimp Showdown participants made, check out their blogs below.

A Kitchen Addiction
A Zesty Bite
Betsy Life
Bonbon Break
Cherished Bliss
Chocolate Moosey
Coconut and Lime
Created by Diane
Everyday Maven
Foxes Love Lemons
Garnish with Lemon
Growing up Gabel
Healthy Delicious
Home Cooking Memories
Jeanette’s Healthy Living
Julie’s Eats and Treats
Kirbie’s Cravings
Lemons for Lulu
My Man’s Belly
Natasha’s Kitchen
Noble Pig
Peanut Butter and Peppers
Peas and Crayons
Sarah’s Cucina Bella
So How’s It Taste?
Taste Love and Nourish
That Skinny Chick Can Bake
Wonky Wonderful



The Great List 03.21.2014

Baby Grace

Yes, it’s true, I have yet another newborn baby in my life this week thanks to my brother and sister in law. My new niece is just icing on the sweet cake of a pretty Great week. I can’t wait to meet her in person this afternoon.

1. Grace Parker Gollan was born yesterday, 11 days past her due date. I guess my sister in law has a pretty cozy womb. I am thrilled to be an aunt for the 11th time, and SUPER thrilled that this will be the first baby I’ll get to see in the hospital before she even goes home. Up to this day, the earliest I’ve gotten to meet  a niece/nephew was 2weeks old, and the latest was 3 months old. I’m already in love with her dark hair and chubby cheeks (pictured above). She definitely looks like a Gollan!  The Greatest thing of all was the pure joy I heard in my brother’s voice when I talked to him last night. He certainly deserves every blessing that comes his way.

2. On a way less exciting note, I’ve had an old chair for years that was in need of recovering. I “never got around to it”, and about 2 months ago, Olive decided she hated the look of it and tore the chair back to shreds, which finally promoted me to get it recovered. It’s been away for nearly a month, but I got it back this week and it looks AWESOME! I love the new feel it gives to our living room, but whats really Great is that I still have a beautiful reminder of Jean, my dad’s cousin who’s chair it was, in my home where I can see it every day.

3. My housekeepers came this week after not coming for a month. I cancelled our last appointment because of houseguests, which means that our house was EXTRA dirty. I do not clean in between housekeeper visits. I mean, that’s why I pay them. I don’t have time for that. Anyway, my house is sparkling right now, which I absolutely love.

4. I had kind of a creative epiphany this week. I was able to let go of a lot of anxious energy I was carrying around, which made room inspiration to seep in. Life is crazy, and majorly stressful right now. Writing these Great List’s each week helps me to focus on what really matters, and stay on track to where I really want to go. I’m definitely feeling rejuvenated, which is rare for a Friday!

I hope you all have a joyful, and warm spring weekend. I’ve got hiking plans, beach plans and gardening plans. It doesn’t get much springier than that! Happy Friday!

Garden Planning 2014

photo-29 T-minus two days until my 2014 garden is going in the ground. This will be my 3rd annual vegetable garden, and I have learned something new each year I’ve been at this. I’m hoping with my “vast” *cough* knowledge, this year’s garden will be the best yet.

For 2014 I’m planning to grow cucumbers, kale, jalapeños, tomatoes, zucchini, crookneck squash, eggplant, lettuce, carrots, green beans, peas, and possibly broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and watercress in addition to my year round basil, parsley, mint, and chives. Above you can see the plan I mapped out as to how it’s all going to go down. Keeping in mind the drainage issues I had with last years garden, I think I have a pretty good handle on it, however, I’m always open to advice. My main concerns are as follows.

1. I have never successfully been able to grow a cucumber. They start to grow and then turn yellow and fall off. I have moved them in this year’s garden plan to a more wet soil location, but I’m not sure if that’s going to cut it entirely. I’ll happily accept any and all cuke growing tips.

2. Last year I had a major pest problem. Nasturtiums for sure attracted all the aphids, but I had them planted in the beds alongside the veggies last year, so the veggies inevitably were eaten by aphids as well. This year I’ve moved the nasturtiums to a separate container that I’ll move away from the beds, so hopefully the aphids will just eat them and not my crops. I am also accepting advice on how to prevent/banish powdery mildew on squash leaves. I’m getting a watering hose system this year so I won’t be watering from above with a regular hose, but if there is any other words of wisdom I need to know to prevent this, by all means, leave a comment below.

3. New to the garden this year are carrots, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, watercress and lettuce. I have never grown any of these things before in my life, so if you have any best practices information that will help me succeed I will take it.

Gardening experts help me! I really want to be able to eat fresh produce all summer and fall long. Please speak up if you see any glaring errors in my plan, or if you have any great tips for veggie growing success.

Happy first day of Spring!


Make Ahead Freezer Taquitos

Make ahead freezer taquitos

Let the baby bonanza begin! This is shaping up to be a week full of births including several friends babies, and my brother and sister in law’s first baby. I am beyond excited to become an aunt for the 11th time!

When friends and family make babies for me to hug, I pay them back with freezer meals. Anyone can help change poopy diapers, but it takes a real friend to stock your freezer full of delicious and healthy foods so you can focus all your attention on your sweet new baby.

Make Ahead Freezer Taquitos With that being said, cue the taquitos! Taquitos are easy to make in large batches and freeze awesomely. Another thing these taquitos have going for them is that they are easy to reheat and consume with one hand. This is my 11th time around the aunt block. I’ve learned a thing or two about what new moms need. Plus, they make a great lunch on the go for the new dads.

Make Ahead Freezer Taquitos Any time I make freezer food, you’d better believe I make some for The Hubs and I as well. I’ve been on a taquito binge lately with The Hubs being out of town so much. They are perfectly portioned for one, or for a crowd.

You should definitely give these a try in the near future if:

1. You know someone who could really use some freezer meals.

2. You’re really busy and only have one night to cook a week’s worth of meals.

3. You love taquitos.

4. Individual serving sized, microwaveable foods excite you.

Make Ahead Freezer Taquitos Stay tuned for news of my latest niece! Coming soon to a blog near you.

Make Ahead Freezer Taquitos


  • 6 cups cooked, shredded chicken
  • 8 oz. cream cheese
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • juice from 1 lime
  • 1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups grated Mexican cheese blend
  • small flour or corn tortillas


  1. Preheat oven to 425.
  2. In a large bowl stir together cream cheese,chili powder, cumin, salt & pepper, shredded chicken and Mexican cheese.
  3. Fold in cilantro and lime juice.
  4. Warm tortillas in the microwave (very important!!) so they don't break when rolling.
  5. Working quickly, place a spoonful of chicken mixture in each tortilla and roll up.
  6. Place seam side down on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  7. When the pan is full, lightly spray the tops of the taquitos with cooking spray. Bake for 12-14 minutes, or until crispy.
  8. Cool taquitos completely then place in a freezer bag to freeze. To reheat, wrap loosely in a paper towel and microwave for 1 minute.
  9. Serve with salsa and guacamole.
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The Great List 03.14.2014

A weekly gratitude journal Looking back to last year, its kind of amazing to me how much has changed. I often find myself impatient with each passing week. Wishing that the results from all the hard work I put in will finally reveal themselves. What I realized by looking back, is that the results are already here. They are happening every day. I’m changing. The world around me is changing. Life is inching along hour by hour.

Big changes will never reveal themselves because they actually happen a tiny bit at a time eventually resulting in a large shift. The best I can do is try to recognize each tiny bit for the blessing that it is, and be grateful that I’m moving in the right direction, even if it is seemingly at 1mph.  So, that’s what I’m going to do. Here’s my Great List for the week.

1. One thing I really miss about last year is having Friday’s off to take the dogs to the beach. Since I’m unable to do that at this particular moment in time, I try to make it up to them in other ways. This week, I took Olive with me to some appointments I had, and on all my errands. I stopped by my friends store to buy a gift and she suggested a great local dog park I could take Olive to. We swung by and it was not only packed with fun dogs, but beautiful as well. Olive enjoyed her play time, and I enjoyed the midday respite from my to-do list.

2. Hellooooooo summer! Not only is daylight savings time (my favorite time of year) finally here, but the weather in San Diego has been down right summery. I actually laid out in a bathing suit last weekend! I am so excited for all things summer: gardening, bike riding, the beach……..I love having something to look forward to.

3. I got the cutest postcard from my 7 year old nephew this week thanking us for the birthday money we sent him. “Thank you for the money. I was able to get Magna Force. I love it! Love, Luke”. First of all, little kid handwriting is the cutest thing ever. Secondly, I love that my brother and SIL made him use his own money to buy his own toy. So frickin’ awesome. This is definitely going on the bulletin board in my office.

That’s all I’ve got for you this week. It’s not that I don’t have more to be grateful for, because there is ALWAYS something else, it’s just that these are the things that really stood out to me this week, and are what is making my heart happy at this moment, so I’ll just stick with that.

I’d like to wish my buddy Carson a very happy FIRST birthday today, and please keep your fingers crossed for my VERY pregnant sister in law. Hopefully I’ll have news of a brand new niece to share with you next week! Have a great weekend everyone.

Lime Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches

Lime Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches It’s time once again for an excellent 12 blogger round up, and this month we’ve got some mouth watering St. Patrick’s Day desserts coming at you!

This was a tough one for me. I really wanted to think outside the box, and make something a little bit different. As much as I loooooove all things mint, I just wasn’t feeling it this month. Maybe I overdosed on Thin Mints last month. Who knows?

Lime Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches One of the parameters of these festive desserts was that they had to be green, which made me think of my favorite basil lime cookies. The cookies themselves aren’t green, but the ingredients used to make them are, so I figured I could work something out in that direction.

lime-basil-ice-cream-sandwiches-recipe The end result are these incredibly refreshing basil lime ice cream sandwiches! Creamy lime and basil ice cream smooshed between two of my favorite cookies. This is the perfect dessert for a hot summer day. If you’re like me and don’t love super sweet desserts, you will love these!

12BloggersIngredientsMonthsMarch_zps369410b4My blogging companions have once again out done themselves. There is a festive treat for everyone in your family, so be sure to click around and check out everyone’s St. Patrick’s Day concoctions!

Lime Basil Ice Cream Sandwiches


  • 2 dozen Basil Lime Cookies
  • For the Ice Cream
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 cup packed basil leaves
  • zest of one lime
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 5 egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar


    To make the ice cream
  1. Put the ice cream container from your ice cream maker in the freezer.
  2. Bring the milk, cream, zest, basil and salt to a boil in a large saucepan stirring occasionally to avoid scorching.
  3. Remove from heat and let it steep for 15-20 minutes until no longer hot, but still warm.
  4. Meanwhile, In a large bowl,whisk together the egg yolks and the sugar until they are light and fluffy. Set it aside.
  5. Blend the basil and milk mixture in a blender or using a immersion blender, until smooth.
  6. Stirring constantly, temper the egg mixture by adding a bit of the warm milk mixture gradually. Once combined, add remaining milk to egg mixture stirring until combined.
  7. Strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer back into the sauce pan and stir it constantly while heating over low heat until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon.
  8. Place mixture in the refrigerator until cooled completely.
  9. Pour the liquid into the frozen ice cream container and run it through the ice cream maker for 20-30 minutes.
  10. Place mixture into a freezer proof container and freeze for 4 hours or until firm.
  11. Make the sandwiches
  12. Sandwich a scoop of basil ice cream between 2 basil lime cookies.
  13. Enjoy!
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Cherry Cola Chipotle Meatballs

Cherry Cola Chipotle Meatballs Recipe Hellloooooooo spring! I know everyone was a little grumpy about losing an hour of sleep yesterday, but holy hell was it nice to see the sun until after 6pm am I right? Daylight savings time is the official start of spring in my book, and I’m bursting with ideas and inspiration for the coming months.

Consider these sweet and spicy meatballs a kickoff to my spring blogging bonanza. I know not everyone had perfect 80 degree weather over the weekend like we had here in SoCal, so we’ll start with something spicy to keep you warm in soon-to-be-gone winter temperatures.

Cherry Cola Chipotle Meatballs Recipe Meatballs are a great option for The Hubs and I. When he’s traveling, I can make a big batch and freeze half of them for when he gets home. They’re also perfectly portable, and make a great leftover lunch option.

These chipotle cherry cola glazed meatballs were awesome chopped up and tossed into a green salad the next day. Meatball salad…..yummmmmmm.

cherry-cola-chipotle-glazed-meatballs This year I’ve been all about convenience. Make ahead and freezer friendly is the name of the game in 2014, and chipotle cherry cola meatballs, (or any meatballs for that matter) definitely fit that bill.

The flavor options for meatballs are endless, so if you don’t have chipotles and cherry cola, try making them with BBQ sauce, or veggies, or even sriracha! Get those creative juices flowing.

Cherry Cola Chipotle Meatballs


    For the Meatballs
  • 1/2 cup onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • pinch of cayenne
  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 Tbsp canned chipotle pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • For the glaze
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup cherry coke
  • 2 Tbsp canned chipotle pepper, finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook onions and garlic for 5 minutes, until fragrant.
  3. Meanwhile, combine salt, paprika, and next 5 ingredients (through cayenne) in a small bowl.
  4. In a large bowl combine ground beef, 2 Tbsp canned chipotle pepper, egg, breadcrumbs, onion mixture and spice mixture.
  5. Form medium sized meatballs and place on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 400 degrees for 25-35 minutes, turning once, until cooked through.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine cherry cola, brown sugar, and 2 Tbsp chipotle pepper. Stir until sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 7-10 minutes until mixture begins to thicken.
  8. Brush meatballs with glaze and serve.
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