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Need to relax and reconnect? San Francisco’s answer is …

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San Francisco is a city full of excitement, so where can you go that is not filled with long lines, crowds of people? The Golden Gate Park is the perfect place to relax and reconnect! There is just so much to see and enjoy here. It’s a day filled wonders, amazing art, breathtaking flora, quiet moments, unique creatures, and time to relax your soul. Make it a day in the park! Bring a picnic to appreciate nature entirely and your camera is a MUST. Even if you are unable to take in all its glory in one day, the great news is, it is there awaiting your return.

This beautiful park has numerous different must-see gardens that allow you to enjoy a diverse array of different plant life. Those gardens include:

                                                            Japanese Tea Garden

DSC02745This is a favorite spot for locals who want to feel like they have escaped into nature. There are more than fifty acres of plant life here from all around the world, organized by region. The garden is free for San Francisco residents and is free to all on certain holidays and the second Tuesday of each month. It is open daily, and there is a nominal fee on other days. These five acres of lovely gardens offer a serene place to sit down and drink a cup of tea. There’s a nominal entrance fee, and you can purchase tea and snacks inside of the garden.

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Tulip Garden

On the west end of the park is a giant old windmill and a beautiful tulip garden. Check out the northern windmill here as well, which is one of two windmills established in 1903 that initially fed water to landscape the park.

Rose Garden

The Golden Gate Park rose garden is another popular spot with visitors. Late spring through early fall offer the best rose displays although a pruning demonstration each January is also interesting. Besides its beauty, this place is a wonderment of fragrant scents that instantly calms the mind.

Garden of Shakespeare’s Flowers

More than 200 different flowers are featured in this garden, which is also adorned with quotes from the famous plays and poems of Shakespeare.

      Conservatory of Flowers

DSC02772Flower lovers absolutely shouldn’t miss this indoor garden. It is one of the world’s largest indoor greenhouses built of wood and glass and both the exterior and interior of the building area eye-catching. This place is like visiting a tropical Island. You are instantly transported to a space of relaxation!

AIDS Memorial Grove

This beautiful memorial flower garden is worth stopping in at while you are in the park. It was set up in 1988 to recognize and honor the millions of people affected by AIDS. In 1996, Congress designated it a national memorial.

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Stow Lake

Feed the ducks or take a paddleboat ride here at this lake in the center of the park.

Spreckels Lake

This lesser-known lake is located on the north side of the park. Model yacht clubs meet here so you might get to see them showing off their stuff when you visit.

Golden Gate Park Museums:

 

California Academy of Sciences

DSC02719Start with a visit to California Academy of Sciences. This captivating science museum complex holds a San Francisco aquarium, a planetarium, a rain forest and other great displays. It also has a Living Roof that offers an excellent view of some of the park. This place is fantastic. You’ll want to spend the whole day there but save time for some of the other choices.

DeYoung Museum

DSC02730Right across from the California Academy of Sciences is this favorite art museum. This museum showcases a mix of contemporary art, History Sciences and a few pieces of Fine Art. They also have “guest” displays that change seasonally. Even if you do not have time to check out the exhibits, you should take the time to ride up to the top floor gift where an observation deck shows you an even better view of Golden Gate Park at no charge.

 

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How to Get to Golden Gate Park

Golden Gate Park is located in the western half of the city, bordered on the north by Fulton Street and on the south by Lincoln Way. You can get there using several MUNI buses including the 5 on Fulton and the 71 on Lincoln (both of which you can catch near Union Square if you are staying at a centrally-located hotel). You can also take the underground MUNI N line to get quickly from downtown to just a few blocks away from the park. If you are driving then, you can look for street parking in or around the park or pay to park in the Music Concourse Garage located between the DeYoung and California Academy of Science museums.

If you are visiting and driving in, I recommend using your car’s GPS. The last time I drove in, I thought no problem. However, with all the ‘one-way’ streets and the  ‘no left turn’ signs, I could not get to what was right in front of me. Very frustrating, which is why you should let the computer figure it out for you. However, if you are up to the task, here are directions, whether coming from the North or South ( click appropriate word for directions).

Planning to make it a mini holiday affair Or perhaps, you are passing thru and want to experience a little more of San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf area too. Below are some helpful tips for you.

Where to stay

I have stayed at the Best Western Tuscany Hotel numerous times and have always been delighted by their hospitality, cleanliness, convenient location and helpful concierge. The front door opens onto a large sitting room before your sleeping area. Comfortable large bed and bathroom. The only downfall can be when you are on the street-side rooms; it can be noisy from the traffic.3552_268_b

This traditional downtown boutique hotel is 0.2 miles from both the Fisherman’s Wharf and North Beach and 6.5 miles from Golden Gate Park.

The refined, elegant rooms and suites offer free Wi-Fi, desks, and 40-inch flat screens, as well as minibars, mini-fridges, and coffeemakers.

Free perks include daily morning tea/coffee in the lobby, evening fireside wine receptions, and an area shuttle.

The cost for parking overnight is $42.00 and is an additional charge if you use this service. $$

Where to eat

The Pescatore Restaurant, located at ground level at the Tuscan Inn. This is a Tuscan-American fare restaurant with a beautiful bar area. I have eaten here many times, and their steaks were always perfectly prepared. Rustic yet chic is their decor.

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The Franciscan Crab Restaurant has excellent seafood, but the main attraction is the exceptional view of the bay. My favorite is to sit in the bar area, enjoy their specialty of the day and watch the boats go by.imgres

Posted by Shelley Pittman on May 2, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos

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Here is a recipe for all the Chicken Wings lovers! Who said that you can’t have that great taste in a taco form?  Grilled Buffalo Chicken Tacos has you covered.

 

 

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Olive olive
2 tablespoons hot sauce
1 teaspoon unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons canola mayonnaise
1/4 cup blue cheese, crumbled
2 cups shredded romaine lettuce
1 small celery stalk, thinly sliced
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Preparation

1. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Cut chicken in half horizontally to form 4 cutlets; sprinkle chicken with salt and black pepper. Arrange in a pan coated lightly with olive oil. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove from pan; thinly slice. Combine hot sauce, butter, and red pepper; stir with a whisk. Add chicken to bowl; toss.

2. Combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, and cheese in a bowl, mashing with a fork. Add lettuce and celery to bowl; toss.

3. Warm tortillas according to package instructions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas; top with lettuce mixture.

Posted by Shelley Pittman on May 2, 2016


Chile Relleno Taco Filling

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Here is a recipe so flavorful and delicious that you won’t miss the fact that it contains no meat. It is also a great way to get your kids to enjoy their vegetables.  Top these tacos with any of your favorite goodies!

Ingredients

6 large poblano peppers
1 cup (drained and rinsed) canned black beans
1 cup fresh corn
1/2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper

Preparation

1. Light a charcoal grill and let burn to a gray ash (or preheat a gas grill to medium-high). Set grill rack 2 inches from heat source. Grill poblano peppers, covered, turning often until skins are charred, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a bowl, cover and let stand until cool enough to handle. Peel, cut off tops, discard seeds and coarsely chop flesh.

2. Combine peppers, black beans, fresh corn, red bell pepper, chili powder, lime juice and olive oil in a bowl. Stir in cilantro; season with salt and pepper.

Posted by Shelley Pittman on May 2, 2016


Baja Style Fish Tacos

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Who doesn’t love tacos? The crunchy beer batter crust on these Baja Style Fish Tacos gives these tacos a wonderful sense of depth while being easy and quick to prepare. The recipe calls for 1 cup of beer, but remember to serve more, as beer goes perfectly with these tacos.

 

 

 

Ingredients
Beer Batter:
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup dark beer
Cream Sauce:
1/3 cup mayonnaise
2/3 cup  sour cream
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Fish Tacos:
Oil, for frying
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
2 pounds skinned halibut cut into 5 by 1/2-inch strips
Freshly ground black pepper
Corn tortillas
2 cups shredded cabbage
2 cups tomatillo salsa (store-bought or homemade) for garnish, optional
Pickled jalapenos, for garnish, optional

For the Beer Batter:
Mix the flour, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl. Gradually add in the beer while whisking. Set aside and let the batter rest for 15 minutes before using.
For Cream Sauce:
Add the mayonnaise and sour cream to a medium bowl. Whisk in the lemon zest, lemon juice, and water. Season, to taste, with salt and pepper (can be made 3 days ahead, covered and refrigerated).
For the Fish:
In a large skillet, over medium heat, add enough oil to reach a depth of 1-inch. Heat the oil until a deep-fry thermometer registers 350 degrees F or when the end of a wooden spoon sizzles when inserted into the oil.
On a large plate, combine the flour and salt. Season the fish pieces all over with salt and pepper and coat with the flour. Working in batches, dip the fillets in the beer batter and coat on both sides. Fry in the hot oil until golden brown and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain.
Make tacos with the tortillas and fish and top each with cream, shredded cabbage, tomatillo salsa and pickled jalapenos, if desired.

Posted by Shelley Pittman on May 2, 2016


Santa Fe Grilled Chicken Soft Tacos

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Here is a great recipe for those grillers out there. Interested in a sweet, spicy chicken soft taco that will hold up to your favorite toppings? Try this Sante Fe Chicken Soft Taco recipe and stand back to watch their smiling faces, then you know you have a hit!

Ingredients

2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon packed dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and pounded thin (about 4 large breasts)
16 taco-size soft flour tortillas

Preparation

1. In a small bowl, combine chili powder, cumin, paprika, red pepper, salt, pepper and brown sugar. Stir in oil; mixture will be moistened but crumbly.

2. Generously rub chicken on all sides with chili mixture. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes to marinate (or cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day).

3. Preheat gas grill to medium, or preheat broiler to high and set rack 6 to 8 inches from source of heat. Grill or broil chicken until firm, about 5 minutes per side. Let cool for 5 minutes, then cut into thin strips.

4. Warm tortillas. Serve chicken with tortillas and any of your favorite toppings.

Posted by Shelley Pittman on May 2, 2016


Cowboy Spiced Planked Salmon Tacos

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So what exactly is ‘cowboy Spice’? Coffee is the main flavor ingredient, of course, but when you mix it with brown sugar, cumin, garlic, and turmeric, the marriage is perfect. The result is a deliciously sweet spicy crust on the salmon. Top your tacos off with a zingy Ensalada (Spanish for salad) and a sprinkling of Cotija cheese and stand back while the compliments come your way.

 

 

 

Spice Rub:
3  cups golden brown sugar
1/4 cup good quality dark roast coffee, coarsely ground
1/3 cup seafood seasoning
1/3 cup ground turmeric
1/4 cup curry powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1/4 cup coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Ensalada for Tacos:
1/2 cup  chopped fresh cilantro leaves
1/2 cup  chopped flat leaf parsley
1/2 cup  chopped fresh green onion
1 fresh pasilla chiles fire roasted, stemmed, seeded and chopped
1 fresh Anaheim chiles fire roasted, skinned and chopped
1/2 head fresh red cabbage, chiffonade
1/2 head fresh green cabbage chiffonade
1 serrano chiles, finely diced
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lime juice
3 pounds wild salmon fillet, boneless and skinless
2 cedar grilling planks (soaked for 3 hours)
2 dozen fresh corn tortillas
1/2 pound crumbled Cotija cheese

Directions

Thoroughly mix all of the rub ingredients in a glass bowl and set aside. Cook’s Note: Can be sealed in storage bag or jar for up to 1 week. This will make about 6 cups.
Combine all of the Ensalada ingredients in a glass bowl and mix well. Set aside for tacos.
Cut the salmon fillet into 3 equal parts and arrange on the pre-soaked cedar planks. Cover the salmon liberally with the spice rub (approximately 1 cup per pound).
Heat the grill to high.
Put the salmon planks over very hot mesquite/oak or hickory coals and cover the grill until the spice rub has melted to form a coating over salmon and plank, about 7 to 10 minutes. Remove the cover from the grill. If the planks flairs up, be careful the flames do not scorch the fillet, as the taste of burned sugar should not be the dominating flavor.
Remove the salmon planks from the grill and loosely cover with foil. Allow the fillets to rest for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add the fillets to a large bowl and set aside. In the meantime, toast the corn tortillas over the hot coals or on a preheated comal.
Add the Ensalada to the bowl with the salmon and stir lightly to combine.
Using 2 overlapping toasted corn tortillas, scoop some of the salmon onto the tortillas and top with some of the cheese. Repeat with the remaining tortillas and filling.

Posted by Shelley Pittman on April 30, 2016


Beef Tacos with Salsa Verde

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This Beef Taco recipe cooks in the slow cooker. The results are spicy, juicy, fork tender beef bites for the BESt ever tacos. All that is missing is a cold beer to go along side!

 

 

 

Ingredients
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 3 -pound boneless beef chuck roast
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 16 -ounce jar salsa verde
1/2 white onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
12 corn tortillas, warmed
Shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes, avocado and/or radishes, for topping

Directions
Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Season the beef with the cumin, 1 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Add to the skillet and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.
Transfer the meat to a 6-quart slow cooker, then add the salsa, onion, and garlic. Cover and cook on high, 6 hours.
Remove the meat to a cutting board and shred with 2 forks, discarding the excess fat. Return the meat to the slow cooker and stir in the cilantro.
Serve the meat in tortillas and top as desired. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Posted by Shelley Pittman on April 30, 2016


Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Cole Slaw

 imgresHave you ever bought a taco from a food truck? This is an authentic Mexican-style Ancho chicken Taco recipe and it fits the ‘taco’ bill very well. Quick and yummy! Perfect for Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Ingredients

1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/4-inch strips
3/4 teaspoon ancho chile powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon grated lime rind
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
1/4 cup light sour cream
2 tablespoons 1% low-fat milk
1/2 ripe peeled avocado, diced
2 cups packaged angel hair slaw
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Preparation

1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle chicken evenly with chile powder, garlic salt, and cumin. Coat pan with 2 TB of oil. Add chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove chicken from pan.

2. Combine rind, 1 tablespoon juice, and next 3 ingredients (through avocado) in a blender or food processor; process until smooth.

3. Combine remaining 1 tablespoon juice, slaw, onions, cilantro, oil, and salt, tossing to coat.

4. Heat tortillas according to directions. Divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each tortilla with about 1 tablespoon avocado mixture and 1/4 cup slaw mixture.

Posted by Shelley Pittman on March 31, 2016


Sundays in the Park Free Concert Series in Ukiah

Sundays in the Park Free Concert Series

Sundays in the Park Free Concert Series is the largest and most recognized community event in Mendocino County. Since 1991, the series has thrilled the community with exceptional musical performances by artists from diverse genres including blues, classical, country, salsa, soul, rock, swing and more. Each summer, taking center stage in beautiful Todd Grove Park, six free concerts featuring world-renowned artists as well as local talent, entertain more than 20,000 music fans.

In addition to great entertainment, the series is a source of great civic pride and is cherished by locals and visitors as a summer tradition. Sponsorships from local businesses are a vital component to the continued success of Sundays In The Park and without their support the free concerts wouldn’t be possible. Pack a picnic or indulge in fabulous food prepared by vendors who are on site with everything from barbequed tri-tip to sushi.

Bring a blanket and gather witty your family, friends, and neighbors to enjoy top notch performers while being part of the greater Ukiah community. (Please, no pets and no smoking within the main event area, low-back chairs only, personal BBQ’s only allowed at the picnic table areas. Thank you.) Concerts begin at 6pm. For more information please call 707-463-6231. To become a Sundays in the Park Free Concert Series event vendor, fill out a City of Ukiah vendor application form and return it to 411 W. Clay St. Ukiah, CA 95482.

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Posted by Shelley Pittman on March 20, 2016


Baked Ham with Apricot-mustard, Spicy Honey or Maple-Bourbon Glaze

BX0110H_orange-baked-ham_s4x3.jpg.rend.sni12col.landscapeEaster is a perfect time to ham it up! The beauty of a ham is that, like a Thanksgiving turkey, it’s a big-batch entree that can feed all of your holiday guests at once, so there’s no need to prepare individual servings of dinner. But also like a turkey, ham needs a bit of dressing up before it’s ready to take center stage at your Easter feast, and in most recipes that next-level addition comes in the form of a glaze. Sweet, spicy, tangy or nearly anywhere in between, glazes complement the natural richness of ham and can play to your guests’ tastes.

Glazed Ham

1   spiral-cut ham (about 8 lbs)

1 recipe of chosen Glaze

Remove ham from packaging and place in a roasting pan with fitted rack. Bring ham to room temp. for 45 minutes.

Heat oven to 325 degrees and pour in 2 cups of water. Cover with foil. Bake for 2 hours.

Meanwhile, prepare one of the glazes.

Carefully remove the  pan from oven and remove the foil. Brush half of the glaze on the ham and save the rest to serve alongside. Return ham to oven for 15 minutes at 425 degrees.

 

Apricot-Mustard glaze

3/4  c  apricot jam

1/4 c    dijon mustard

2 TB    apricot juice, apple juice or water

In a pot over medium heat, combine ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat

 

Spicy Honey Glaze

1 c        honey

2 TB    butter

1/2 ts  red pepper flakes

2 TB    water

 

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from heat.

 

Maple-Bourbon Glaze

3/4 c      pure maple syrup

1/3 c       bourbon

dash of black pepper

2 TB      butter

 

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a simmer. Cook mixture for 2 minutes, then cover and remove from heat.

 

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