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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Zucchini Linguine with Mango, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

It was way past lunch time and we arrived home hungry and a bit tired. Cleaning two houses kinda does that to us sometimes.

I’m not sure why I didn’t just grab a jar of leftovers from the frig and chow it all down cold. But hunger, I’ve decided, can wait – and is much more satisfied with a meal more purposefully made.

I had accidentally ordered 8 pounds of organic zucchini from our coop, so I pulled one of those beauties out of the refrigerator. They are the perfect size – nice and small, so the seeds aren’t so THERE, if you know what I mean.

I don’t know what happened after that…I added what sounded good at the moment and this quirky dish just came together. I was about to sit down and devour it one savory bite at a time when I thought, This is something to blog about.

I hesitated.

I was hungry and my camera was upstairs, which seemed far, far away at the time. I took one bite…and tore myself away. I just had to share this – as crazy as it was and as good as it was, I didn’t want you all to miss out.

So here it is…just in time to rescue you from loads of garden zucchini – or accidentally large purchases. To keep it local, use peaches from the farmer’s market instead of mango. (I was out of peaches.)

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Needless to say, I didn’t bother with food arrangement or fussing with making it look pretty. I just dumped it on the plate. Yep, that’s what this food blogger does when she’s really hungry and doesn’t think she’ll be sharing something with the rest of the world. Hello, real life!

Zucchini Linguine with Mango, Turkey Bacon, Goat Cheese, and Walnuts

Makes 1 main course serving.

Prep time is approximately 10 minutes.

3 slices Applegate Smoked turkey bacon, sliced into strips longwise.

1 zucchini, sliced thinly longwise, then sliced again to make long, thin “linguine noodles”

1/3 mango or one peach, thinly sliced

1 oz. goat cheese

1 oz. walnuts, lightly chopped

fresh ground pepper

Heat a medium skillet and grease with a small amount of butter or olive oil. Add bacon strips and saute for a couple minutes. Add zucchini strips and cook just until barely tender. Turn out onto a plate and crumble the goat cheese on top. Place the walnuts in the skillet over medium heat and toss around for a minute. Arrange mango over the zucchini, add the walnuts and douse with a good amount of fresh ground pepper.

Take a bite and write in the comment section below what you think of this combination of deliciousness. Enjoy the remainder of your meal.

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A Tribute to the Man Who Made Mango Salsa

I remember it like it was yesterday…

It was one of the few family reunions on my Mom’s side  where we all met at my grandparent’s house on the lake – my Mom, her Mom, her brother Tom  and his family.

It was always fun when Uncle Tom came to the lake. He, without fail, brought fun stuff – jet skis or dirt bikes and a great big trash bag of the best beef jerky you can imagine tasting. He was famous for his line-hung, Texas sun-dried jerky – in a trash bag.

He was also quite the chef. One Thanksgiving, Uncle Tom brought a deep fryer for the turkey…well, it ended up being 3 turkeys – and that’s not counting the one we roasted in the oven. I think we ate one whole turkey as an appetizer.

Uncle Tom and Aunt Kim always brought something unusual and amazingly good to the table. They were the ones who introduced me to mango salsa. I remember thinking how very odd it was to put mango in salsa, but that was before my culinary horizons were broadened by the many amazing cooks I find peppered throughout my life.

Uncle Tom passed away on the 7th of September after a battle with cancer. He’ll never know how much his cooking influenced me. I wish he could. I wish I had spent more time with him in the kitchen and learned some of his tricks.

Growing up, time with my uncle was limited, but I always felt his love for me along with the rest of his nieces and nephews. I’ll always remember his smile and his dry sense of humor. I’ll remember him as strong, tan, and healthy. I’ll remember his beef jerky and mango salsa.

I’ll remember, Uncle Tom.

Mango Salsa

mango

purple onion

jalapeno

cilantro

lime juice

sea salt

cumin

Slice the mango on either side of the seed.

Cut the flesh – without cutting into the skin – diagonally left to right, then right to left to create a diamond pattern.

Invert mango and slide a knife under each piece to remove from skin.

Mince purple onion, jalapeno and cilantro. Sprinkle with sea salt and cumin. Squeeze on some lime juice.

Toss and serve.

This is fabulous with fish or chicken tacos, over grilled meat, or just with chips.

Who were the people in your life that influenced you the most in the kitchen?