avocado-tahini dip

avocado-tahini dip

avocado-tahini dipThis is the tale of the salad dressing that transformed into a dip.  It sounds like the start of a fairy tale don’t you think?   Except turning from a salad dressing into a dip doesn’t sound like a great transformation, (kind of like a prince turning into a frog) but it is, so it’s a story with a happy ending.

It all began one afternoon when I was looking for a new salad dressing to massage into my kale.  I wanted to see if I could find another pantry staple dressing that I loved as much as my lacinato kale salad and my ricotta salata dressings.  I made up this dressing and tried it with the kale, but it was just too thick for my liking and I didn’t like the consistency of it as a salad dressing.  I did however like the taste of the dressing on its own.  I was deciding what to do with it when in came John from the den with a tortilla chip in hand, he took his chip and dipped it in the dressing and exclaimed, “Wow, this dip rocks.”  Seriously folks, it really happened this way.  I then tried the dip and loved it as well.  I wanted another opinion though, so I called in Zoe and had her try it and she loved it.  It reminded us all of one of our favorite humus dips from Cafe del Sol.  I think it was the combination of the tahini and the cumin that gave it that kick.  This is now one of our favorite go-to dips and I love that it stays green and fresh for days.  This is a great make ahead dip for a party as it tastes just as great day one as it does day 2, and it doesn’t brown in color like most dips made with avocado, that to me is reason enough to try this dip.

I’ve also taken this dip, mixed it with some quinoa and created this quinoa wrap!  Let me just tell you that it’s AMAZING!

quinoa wrap with black beans, feta and avocadoThis dip has become our favorite pre-dinner appetizer, we just pour the dip into a bowl, set out some tortilla chips or pita chips and snack away. It’s truly the new guacamole in our house!

avocado-tahini dip… 

Read More »

mango avocado salsa and how to dice a mango


This salsa is a preview to another recipe that I am showcasing on Monday, cilantro lime chicken tacos. This salsa and those tacos are rated a 10+ in my house and they pair so perfectly together. This salsa is a great stand along recipe, so I wanted to showcase it as a separate recipe, rather than combine it with another where it might get lost. 

This salsa is super easy to throw together and all of the ingredients are in season right now and as fresh as can be.  I love this salsa because it’s not your standard red or green salsa. It’s a unique combination of flavors and textures.  We love serving this salsa alongside some tortilla chips. Bring this to your next summer potluck and I guarantee it will be gone, you might even want to make a double batch.mango avocado salsa:

recipe adapted from Martha Stewart
makes 3 cups
Printer friendly version

  • 1 avocado, halved, pitted, peeled, and diced medium
  • 1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted, and diced medium
  • 1 small red onion or 1/2 of large red onion, diced small – I can’t seem to find small red onions around my neck of the woods so I always use 1/2 of a larger onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice  (1 lime)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Note:  Martha’s recipe included 1/2 to 1 habanero chile, (stem and seeds removed and minced) but I chose not to include that in this salsa because it would then be to spicy for my kids.  Feel free to add this to your salsa, if you want it to be spicier.
Prep all your ingredients.  Squeeze the 2 tablespoons of fresh lime juice, dice up your red onion, chop up your cilantro, dice up your avocado and mango.  
Note: If you are not familiar with how to dice up a mango, I will show you the step-by-step instructions below.  
Get out a large bowl and combine all the above ingredients, add the tablespoon of olive oil and the 1/2 teaspoon salt.  Gently combine all the ingredients together.  
That’s all there is to it!  
This salsa goes great with grilled chicken, pork, seafood, beef or just to serve on the side with some crunchy tortilla chips.  
I wanted to show you a photo of a champagne mango.  You may notice these mangos in the grocery store and don’t be afraid to give them a try as they taste great. Be sure to get ones that are soft and wrinkly, as shown in the below photo or else they won’t be sweet.  You will cut and dice these mangos the same way as a regular mango.
Next, I’m going to show you how to dice up a mango.  My friend Cathie stopped by to pick up her daughter as I was making this salsa, so I asked her to demonstrate it for you, as she is an expert at mango slicing and dicing.  Thanks Cathie!  
First off, wash your mango.
Mangos have a flat, oblong pit in the center of them, so you don’t want to slice down the center of a mango.  You will want to cut the mango on both sides of the pit, as shown below.  Hold the mango with one hand, stand it on its end, stem side down, and cut from the top of the mango, down one side of the pit.  Repeat on the other side.  
Note:  If you hit the pit, try to cut a curving arc around it.  Also, the flatter sides of the mango are the better sides to cut off.  
Take a mango half and cut/score vertical lines into the cheek using a small paring knife. Make sure the knife tip goes all the way down to the skin, but not through it as you score the lines. The further apart you score the lines, the thicker your slices will be.
Turn the mango and make another set of vertical lines to make a checkerboard pattern.
Note: You can make these slices thinner or fatter depending on how big you want your mango chunks.
Turn the scored mango cheek inside out by pushing the skin up from underneath.
 Gently scrape the mango chunks off with a paring knife.  
 To get the most of your mango, use a paring knife to peel off the outer skin on the remaining piece of mango surrounding the pit.
Slice off any remaining mango meat on the pit and then cut those pieces into small chunks.
 There you have it, some diced mango!  Feel free to slice up your mango into smaller pieces if you want.
Thank you Cathie for being my hand model today. 
My blogger buddy Sharon from Likikoi Joy, made up this salsa for a party. I just loved her Instagram photo, so I asked her to send it to me! I think it’s helpful to see other people’s photos of dishes besides mine!  Don’t you just love the bowl she used?   
BTW, I wanted to give a shout out to my brother today.
Happy Birthday Aaron.  I love you so much!

tomatillo and avocado salsa

tomatillo and avocado salsa
tomatillo and avocado salsa
OK, I tried to make this salsa look attractive and exciting, but hey let’s face it, it’s salsa.  It may not look enticing, but it tastes great.  I’m posting this salsa recipe in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, (which is this Saturday in case you forgot). Are you celebrating Cinco de Mayo?  We’re not exactly celebrating it, but we’re definitely going to consume some Mexican fare and have ourselves a margarita or two.

This is the perfect salsa to bring to a party or to serve up at home with your favorite chips and Mexican fare.  It’s got a bit of a kick to it, but not too much where your kids won’t enjoy it.  Eli kept dipping his chips in it, so I know it wasn’t too spicy for him. 

tomatillo and avocado salsa:

recipe adapted from the food network
    • 1 small red onion or 1/2 of a normal sized one, quartered 
    • 1 jalapeño, quartered, seeds optional – I omitted the seeds
    • 1 garlic clove, minced
    • 4 medium tomatillos, (about 8 ounces) husked, rinsed, and coarsely chopped
    • 1 Hass avocado, peeled, seeded, and cut into chunks
    • 1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 1/4 cup loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
These are tomatillos in case you were not sure what they looked like.  They don’t look so pretty on the outside, but take away their outer skin and underneath you will find a bright green beauty. 
Remove the husk from the tomatillos and wash off the sticky film.  They are sticky little suckers until you rinse them.
Coarsely chop the tomatillos.
 Put the onion, jalapeno, and garlic in a food processor and finely chop.
Add the tomatillos, avocado, and salt and pulse until chopped but still chunky. 
Transfer to a bowl and stir in the cilantro.
 Blend in the cilantro.
That’s all there is to it.  Pretty easy!
Grab some chips and dig in!
tomatillo and avocado salsa
Happy Cinco de Mayo! 

grilled skirt steak with herb salsa verde

For those of you that are vegetarians, I apologize for these photos.  They are really in your face kind of photos.  I am not a fan of photos of meat, but I had to take them to so show the recipe.  My friend Wendy asked when I was going to post the steak and salsa recipe that I raved about in my Monday post.  I told her I wasn’t sure I wanted to post it because I didn’t get great photographs of the meat and I forgot to take a photo of the completed salsa.  She told me it’s the recipes that she comes for not the photographs (though they do help her to see what the finished product is going to look like).  So I am posting this recipe for you Wendy, as I know it’s going to be a perfect weekend for grilling out!  Yaay for that!

I can be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this blog.  Sometimes I will make a recipe 3 times before I post it in order to get a great photograph, seriously, I am a freak that way.  Luckily my family is not picky and loves my cooking so they bear with it.  I am striving to let loose a bit more and posting these not so perfect photographs is one of my ways of doing that.  
For those of you that love steak, this salsa is going to make you love it even more. The fresh herbs add so many flavors to a boring old steak and really make your taste buds sing!

grilled skirt steak with herb salsa verde:
Recipe from bon appetit

  • 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as tarragon and mint 
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 skirt steak (or steak of your choice)
Mix 1/4 cup oil, the 4 cloves of minced garlic, and the 1 tablespoon lemon zest in a medium bowl; season with salt and pepper.
 Let marinate for 20 minutes. 
While the oil mixture is marinating, wash and coarsely chop up the tarragon, mint and parsley leaves and set aside.
 This combination of herbs smells so amazing.
Once the oil mixture has marinated for 20 minutes, add all the herbs to oil mixture and stir until well coated. Let stand until herbs begin to wilt, about 10 minutes. 
Stir in remaining 1/4 cup oil, season to taste with salt and pepper and then give the salsa one final mix.

I am passing along the grilling instructions from bon appetit below for those of you that are interested.  I did not get photographs of the process because John was grilling and I was busy prepping everything in the kitchen.  I also think cooking meat is a personal preference so I tend not to get caught up with how long or how to grill it.  Some people like their steak rare and some like it well done.  We like ours medium.

Build a medium-hot fire in a charcoal grill, or heat a gas grill to high. Season skirt steak generously with salt and pepper and grill until charred, 2 minutes per side for medium-rare Obviously, you will want to cook it longer per side for medium.

Transfer steak to a serving platter; let rest for 5 minutes, allowing juices to accumulate on platter. Transfer skirt steak to a cutting board and slice against the grain on a diagonal. Season to taste with salt; return to platter with juices. 
Top your grilled steak with the herb salsa!  

As you can see we paired our steak with the wheat berry and kale salad that I posted on Monday.  These two items went perfectly together.
 John and I enjoyed the leftovers below for dinner the next night. I topped the wheat berry salad with some steak and the herb salsa and then microwaved it all for about 1 minute.  
It was so delish!
Here is what’s on my weekend reading list in-between lacrosse and baseball games, of course.  

Are you reading anything fun?

Cheers to me becoming a bit less of a perfectionist (hey, sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader)!   Thanks for giving me that push Wendy!

Tangerine bundt cake with citrus glaze


I saw this cake on the most recent cover of Everyday Food Magazine and said to myself, “I just have to make that.”  I was looking for a breakfast cake for Thanksgiving morning and this one fit the bill perfectly because it looked so refreshing and it gave me an excuse to use my bundt pan again. This bundt cake was a bit labor intensive as you have to zest and squeeze about 8 tangerines.  It was well worth it in the end, as we all enjoyed an extra large slice of this on Thanksgiving morning.

Note:  It’s best to make this cake a day ahead so that the glaze can set overnight.  Just cover and store the glazed cake at room temperature. 

Tangerine bundt cake with citrus glaze:

Recipe from Everyday Food Magazine

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon fine kosher salt
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 6 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons finely grated tangerine zest (from 6 tangerines)
  • 1/2 cup tangerine juice (from about 6 tangerines)
  • 2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, such as Grand Marnier
  • 3/4 cup plain Greek or low-fat plain yogurt –  I used Greek yogurt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Citrus glaze:

  • 1  1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tablespoons tangerine juice (from 2 tangerines)

OK, so I did not have any orange liquor lying around the house, nor did I want a whole bottle of it (yuck), so I went to my local BevMo and asked if they had any travel size bottles of Grand Marnier.  I was in luck as they had tons of these travel sized bottles hidden in back.  Isn’t it just the cutest thing, so tiny against the tangerines?   

As you all know, I like to prep my ingredients ahead of time, so lets do that.  Zest your 6 tangerines, then cut them in half and squeeze the juice out over a glass measuring cup until you get 1/2 cup full of juice.  
I just love all this vibrant orange color!

Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.  Butter and flour a bundt cake pan.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, using a standing or hand-held electric mixer, beat your room temperature butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.  

Add your eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Your cake mixture will get creamy fast just by adding the eggs.
Beat in tangerine zest, tangerine juice and liqueur.  
Your mixture will look a bit curdled at this point.  Appetizing, right?
With mixer on low, add the flour mixture and yogurt in three additions. You will add in a bit of the flour then the yogurt and then the flour again and so on. 
Beat to combine and then beat in the vanilla.  Your mixture will thicken up and look like this.

Pour the batter into your bundt pan, smooth the top, and firmly tap the pan on a flat surface to remove any air bubbles and to help smooth the batter as well.
 Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted in the center of the cake comes out clean, about 50-60 minutes.  My cake was done in 50 minutes.  
Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes.  Invert cake onto a cake plate or platter and let cool completely.  
Once your cake is completely cooled, you can move onto making the glaze.  
Whisk together confectioner’s sugar and tangerine juice until smooth.  
Note: My sauce was a bit thick so I added a bit more juice till it got thinner.  The glaze will look yellow at this point, but as it sets on the cake it will turn white.
As you can see from my professional glaze job, this was my first time ever glazing a bundt cake so I was not sure what to do.  I thought about researching how to glaze a bundt cake on the Internet, but it was late and the night before Thanksgiving so I decided to wing it.   I just took the glaze and poured it around the top of the cake and let it drizzle down the sides.  I ended up with a lot of drizzle on the bottom that I scooped up with a spoon and added to the top.   If you want to get fancy and make your cake look beautiful, I would recommend this method:
Take your glaze and pour into a ziploc bag.  Twist bag (so it looks like a like a pastry bag) so that the glaze can settle into one corner of the bag.  Cut a small hole in the corner of the bag and drizzle the glaze over the cake.  Make sure you get a lot of glaze on the top of the cake.  The glaze does soak in so you want to use all your glaze. 
If you want to delve into your cake that day, then let cake sit for one hour to let the glaze set.  If your eating it the next day, then cover the glazed cake and store at room temperature. 
This is the perfect cake to serve up at breakfast or brunch or to have with your afternoon tea.  It was a hit with my whole family and friends!

Happy Sunday!