It’s Long Overdue ~ Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

There’s part of me that wants to pretend that there’s nothing unusual about falling off the face of the blogging world for over six months and then casually popping in for another post like I’m right on schedule. Not that I ever actually had a schedule going around here, but I was rather consistent about posting once a month…or so.

The other side of me wants to make a BIG deal out of this. Hey WORLD!!! I’m BACK!!! And look what I brought ya!!!!

That, I tell myself, sounds rather obnoxious though, so I won’t. You’re welcome.

It’s been six months of significant season change, from a lovely autumn, a fairly mild winter (that is, on the days when it wasn’t snowing or icing), a spring of rain, storms, and more rain, to another hot, hot summer. Tell me, how does the ground go from oozing water like a soaked sponge, to cracking from dry heat in less than a week???

My life has been considerably less drastic.

IMG_1093I bought a new cutting board!  Yeah, not much to say here…

Actually, you want to know what I haven’t talked about since this post in August of 2013?? My braces! Well, they are off now folks, as of September 2014. It wasn’t as thrilling as I was hoping since the adult canine died, but hey, it’s where it’s supposed to be now and seems sturdy enough. I don’t even have to wear that horrendous retainer! As far as I’m concerned, I can happily forget the whole thing happened. I’m sure you were dying to know the rest of the braces saga, so there you have it!

So, in spite of the fact that I haven’t posted since 2014, I do still cook…just as much as ever, as my Instagram can attest. (You can pretty much blame that app for the seemingly imminent demise of my blog.) What brings me back, you ask?

Well, it’s this…

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I made it for a party, innocently enough, and…well, people just got addicted. Every other person wanted the recipe and I scolded myself for not having blogged it already so I could just pass out my blog address rather than racking my brain trying to remember what I actually put in it. Yep, I’ve returned to the old habit of not making notes while I cook (and creating run on sentences that you can barely get through without stopping for breath!). Oops!

I made it again today because I think my original taste testers have pretty good taste when it comes to good food. I’m pretty sure, if they liked it, than you will too.

And let me tell ya’, this is a salad for summer! Sweet, spicy, refreshing, light and yet filling. Okay, I hear you, I’ll stop the wordage already and get with the recipe!

Mango Avocado Quinoa Salad

  • 1 c. quinoa
  • 2 mangos, peeled and cubed
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1/4 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, cored, diced
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 1/2 t. minced garlic
  • 1 t. honey
  • 2 T. sesame oil, or other mild flavored oil (not toasted sesame)
  • 1/4 t. red pepper flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 avocados, peeled, seeded and cubed

IMG_1160Rinse quinoa. Drain, then add enough water to the pan to cover the quinoa by about an inch. I use the first joint on my index finger to measure from the top of the grain, because I dislike measuring liquid for grains. Weird, I know.

Bring to a boil, cover with a lid and lower heat to a simmer. Cook 15-20 minutes or until all the water is cooked out. Remove from heat. Let cool to room temp (or refrigerate for later use) and fluff with a fork.

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Peel mangos and cut into bite-sized pieces.

IMG_1110Dice the red pepper, purple onion (Can we just come to terms with the fact that this variety of onion is not red and should not be called red?), and the jalapeno. This is my favorite way to de-core a pepper…

IMG_1122Chop cilantro and add to prepared ingredients. Let’s just stop and relish the colors for a moment, shall we?

IMG_1134Purple, that onion is totally purple.

Mix the juice of the limes, honey, red pepper flakes, oil, and garlic in a jar or cup and pour over ingredients.

IMG_1130Add cooled quinoa to bowl and toss lightly. The avocados should go in at the last minute…or at least a couple hours before.

IMG_1139Salt and pepper to taste. Please don’t over stir! Once the avocado is added, you want to mix as little as possible so it doesn’t just mush together.

IMG_1151Enjoy as a side for grilled chicken, or eat it as a meal all on it’s own!

Before the next mouth watering photo, I would like to take this moment to thank each and every one of you. Thank you to my loyal readers who have stayed with me even though I ditch you for 6 months at a time. And thank you to my new visitors for getting this far in reading this post! Welcome and I hope you enjoy what you find here on Stir it Up!!

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Loaded Tortilla Soup ~ Minus the Tortilla…

So remember when I said the wind would start blowing from the North at any moment now? Well, I was right! It’s been below freezing the last couple nights and the days have been gorgeous – crisp and cool and so refreshing!

We joke around about how one must grow gills to breath in the South because it gets so humid in the summer you can cut the air with a knife. Needless to say, one starts feeling rather fishy with gills. Every autumn I feel like I’m coming back to life – morphing into the nose breathing human I was the spring before. Yay! Hello world! I’m alive again!

And AND, get this! It’s soup season!

Tortilla Soup has been a long time favorite of ours. Well, that is, this recipe for Tortilla Soup has been a long time favorite. I’ve never tried another version that beats it.

So my friends, today, on this deliciously chilly evening, I share it with you. I hope you love it as much as we do!

To start off, I give you a very unappetizing picture of a whole chicken, which is the base for our soup. Yep, that’s right, just throw a whole chicken (frozen or thawed) into a pot, add some salt, a couple bay leaves and a dried chile pepper, if you have one on hand, and simmer away for a few hours until the chicken falls off the bones.

Strain the broth and pour back into pot.

Remove meat from bones, shred or chop into pieces and reserve for later on in the recipe.

Chop one onion, mince some garlic and add to broth along with the spices and a 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes.

Give it a stir.

Now, here’s where things get weird, but I’ll explain, so you understand why I do what I do. (And no, it’s not because of the gills, or lack thereof! :)

Toss a handful of organic cornmeal into the broth. Go ahead, do it!

Tortilla soup recipes call for corn tortillas, right? And they get all soggy and unrecognizable and turn to mush, right? And if you’re avoiding GMOs (to avoid becoming ill) and buying organic corn tortillas that are expensive, why on earth would you want to waste good tortillas in soup if you can use cheaper organic cornmeal instead?

So there ya go! Makes all the sense in the whole wide world. Aren’t you proud of yourself for being so thrifty?

Bring the soup to a low simmer and cook covered for an hour or two.

The recipe we use calls for straining the solids out of the soup and throwing them away, but I blend it all up in the blender and return it to the broth. It makes a thicker and more hearty base.

Saute reserved chicken in a little olive oil and season with salt, pepper, chili powder and cumin.

Cut some of those organic corn tortillas into thin strips, toss in olive oil and fry in a skillet with a little salt and pepper until they start getting crunchy.

Shred some cheese.

Chop some cilantro.

Cube some avocado.

Cut a lime in wedges.

Open a carton of sour cream.

It’s time to dig in!

Pile everything into a bowl…

Ladle the hot broth over the top…

…and enjoy!

Here are the details for you –

Tortilla Soup

1 whole chicken

water to cover chicken

2 bay leaves

2 t. salt

1 onion, diced

1, 28oz can diced tomatoes

1 T. cumin

2 T. chili powder

1/4 c. cornmeal

more salt and pepper to taste

Garnishes –

  • chicken
  • avocado
  • corn tortilla strips
  • shredded cheese
  • sour cream
  • cilantro
  • limes