I was looking for a starter that was super easy, festive looking and didn’t take up excessive amounts of space in the fridge (fridge space is precious during the holidays!!). I found it in this Mexican layered dip. We’ve all have layered dips and they come in varying degrees of difficulty. This one was pretty simple using some prepped items but letting you feel like you were kind of making it from scratch. (I love to prepare things from scratch but occasionally like tho be able to take a few shortcuts.)
I altered a recipe from Bon Apetit’s Outdoor Entertaining cookbook by subbing veggie refried beans for the kind with bacon, upping the spices, and tweaking other ingredient amounts. The assembled dip looked bright and festive on the buffet table and received lots of comments from guests.
Mexican Layered Dip
(altered from recipe in Bon Appetit Outdoor Entertaining)
- 2 cans of vegetarian refried beans
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 2 1/2 cups guacamole
- 1/2 cup tomatillo salsa (salsa verde)
- 2 teaspoons minced garlic
- 2 cups grated cheddar cheese (about 8 oz)
- 2 14.5 ounce cans diced tomatoes with jalapenos, well-drained
- 3/4 cup chopped green onions
- 1 1/2 cups reduced fat sour cream
- 2/3 cups chopped fresh cilantro
- 1 small can sliced black olives, drained
- Tortilla chips
- Mix beans and chili powder in a medium bowl to blend.
- Mix guacamole, tomatillo salsa, and garlic in another medium bowl.
- Spread half of bean mixture in bottom of 8 – 10 cup glass bowl. Sprinkle with 1 cup of cheese.
- Spread guacamole mixture over. Spoon half of drained tomatoes over the guacamole.
- Sprinkle with green onions.
- Spread remaining bean mixture over.
- Stir sour cream in container to loosen. Spread over bean mixture, covering completely.
- Arrange cilantro, remaining cheese, olives, and remaining drained tomatoes in concentric circles on top of the sour cream.
- Cover; Refrigerate at least 2 hours.
- Serve dip with chips.
NOTE: Dip can be assembled 1 day ahead. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and keep refrigerated.
“Hmmm, should I cook this or not”–these were the words that shot through my mind when I read this recipe in a copy of Clean Eating magazine. The pasta with kale, turkey sausage sounded fabulous to me. However, I knew MrMango might not be too keen on having kale in his pasta. He is fine with decorative kale adding some autumn color in the planter on our patio, but in his dinner, perhaps not so much.
Well, I forged ahead and made it. I adapted the recipe by using fettucine instead of parpadelle and reduced the amount of kale (as a pre-emptive strike against complaints from the hubster).
My husband liked the pasta in general but there was a little pile of kale on the side of his plate at the end of the meal. He said “next time use spinach instead”. I liked the kale though. So maybe next time we can compromise and have half kale and half spinach.
Turkey Sausage Ragu
(adapted from Clean Eating Magazine)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
- 8 ounces spicy italian turkey sausage, casings discarded
- 1/4 tsp chile flakes
- 3 cloves fresh garlic
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes in juice
- 1 tbsp fresh oregano leaves, torn
- 1 large bunch fresh kale, cleaned, stems discarded, roughly chopped
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- kosher salt and pepper, to taste
- 8 ounces whole wheat fettucine
- Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, for garnish
- Add 1 tbsp oil, onion and thyme to a medium pot over medium heat. Stir to coat, cover and cook until onion is softened and just beginning to color, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent scorching. Uncover pot, add sausage, chile flakes and garlic, and continue cooking for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Off the heat, carefully deglaze by adding wine. Return to heat and reduce for 1 minute. Add tomatoes, oregano, and kale. Stir well, cover and cook for 5 minutes. Remove cover and continue coking until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, 10 minutes. Stir in additional 1 tbsp oil plus vinegar. Season with salt and black pepper.
- When sauce is almost finished cooking, add pasta to large pot filled with boiling salted water and cook until al dente, following package directions. Drain well and immediately toss with tomato sauce to coat. Then serve with parmesan cheese shavings.
I am always on the lookout for tasty salads to serve alongside our meals. We eat a lot of Mediterranean or Middle Eastern fare, so when I spotted a recipe on Epicurious for a Greek salad with orzo, I had to try it out.
Technically, this salad is not a true “Greek Salad” since authentic Greek salads don’t contain lettuce or vinegar. But, this is definitely a tasty spin on a Greek salad. So, if you are having a Greek Salad purist over for dinner, you may want to call this something else…how about Mediterranean Orzo Salad??
I altered this recipe from one on Epicurious.com since theirs actually had you assemble the recipe in mason jars. I didn’t see the point of me making it in mason jars just to dump it out immediately onto the plate… The salad is fairly simple to make and looks so colorful on the dinner table.
My husband really enjoys this salad but ends up pushing most of the orzo to the side of his plate, since he is not a big orzo fan (what is there NOT to like about orzo???…odd duck).
This recipe makes enough to serve 4 as a main course or a crowd as a side dish.
Greek Orzo Salad
- 3/4 cup orzo
- 1 (15-ounce) can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed
- 1 large tomato, diced (1 cup)
- 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/2 seedless cucumber, halved lengthwise, cored, and diced (1 cup)
- 1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
- 1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
- 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon finely chopped oregano
- 2 to 3 cups coarsely chopped romaine
- 1/2 pound feta, crumbled (1 cup)
- 4 to 8 peperoncini
- Cook orzo according to package instructions. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool. Drain well.
- Toss black-eyed peas, tomato, and parsley with vinegar, 1 tablespoon oil, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Marinate, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes.
- Meanwhile, toss together orzo, remaining tablespoon oil, cucumber, olives, onion, lemon zest and juice, oregano, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a large bowl.
- Combine orzo mixture and black-eyed pea mixture in a large bowl
- Make a bed of romaine lettuce on a serving plate. Spoon the orzo-black-eyed pea mixture on top of lettuce. Top with feta crumbles and peperoncini.
When I was pregnant with my son B I had mango juice practically ever morning. Something about it soothed my stomach and comforted me. I like to think that it was B driving that flavor preference…but even if it wasn’t he had some very mango-flavored mornings during his gestation.
I decided to make this mango cake by taking a standard lemon/orange/lime pound cake recipe and swapping the citrus juice out for mango nectar. I also added some chopped dried mango for an additional touch of mango. The dried mango speckled throughout the cake turned out to be moist bites of mango…next time I will add more dried mango into the batter.
The cake bakes for an hour and 30 minutes and then should cool completely (for an hour or two) before glazing it. The cake is topped with a glaze containing mango nectar and sprinkled with more dried mango. Resutling in…..mango perfection!
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 1/4 cups butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 5 eggs
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/2 cup mango nectar
- 3/4 cups chopped dried mango (about 4 ounces)
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 4 to 6 teaspoons mango nectar
- Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt cake pan.
- In medium bowl, mix flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.
- In large bowl, beat granulated sugar, 1 1/4 cups butter, 1 teaspoon vanilla and the eggs with electric mixer on low speed for 30 seconds.
- Beat on high speed for 5 minutes, scraping bowl occasionally.
- On low speed, beat in flour mixture alternately with milk and 1/2 cup mango nectar.
- Set aside 2 tablespoons of the chopped mango for topping the cake. Stir the remaining chopped mango into the batter. Pour batter into prepared pan.
- Bake 1 hour 30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes in pan.
- Remove cake from pan to cooling rack. Cool completely, about 2 hours.
- In small bowl, mix powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons butter, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. Using whisk, mix in mango nectar, 1 teaspoon at a time, until smooth and consistency of thick syrup. Drizzle glaze over top of cake; spread with spatula or back of spoon, letting some glaze drizzle down side of cake. Sprinkle reserved mangos on top of cake.
This is another recipe that falls in the category of quick & easy weeknight dinners. I first made this recipe when my son was just a few weeks old. It was one of my first jumps back into the world of cooking after a long break during my pregnancy and early days of motherhood.
In the past 9 months I’ve made this pasta dish at least a half-dozen times more. It just comes together so easily and is very open to improvisation. I’ve added some veggies at time or change the pesto/tomato ratios.
Baked Chicken Pesto Pasta
(adapted from recipe in Food & Wine magazine)
- 1 tablespoon cooking oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 pound ground chicken breast
- 2 14-ounce cans of diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/2 cup store-bought or homemade pesto
- 3/4 pounds medium pasta shells (or ziti)
- 6 ounces shredded mozzarella (1 1/2 cups)
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan
- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F. Oil a large baking dish (~9 by 13 inches).
- In a large skillet, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to soften, about 3 minutes.
- Stir in the ground chicken and cook, breaking it up, until the meat is no longer pink, about 3-4 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and salt to the pan and bring to a simmer. Cook until most of the liquid evaporates, about 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the pesto.
- Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta until just done, according to package directions.
- Drain and toss pasta with the sauce. Put half of the pasta mixture into the prepared baking dish and top with half the mozzarella and half of the Parmesan. Repeat with the remaining pasta and cheese.
- Bake until bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Given the name of this site, would you be shocked to learn that I like mangoes? They have such a refreshing, sweet taste and are a great addition to many recipes…and not just dessert recipes.
For example, this quick and healthy chicken taco recipe includes a mango-avocado salsa. The salsa is made up of mangoes, avocados, tomatoes, red onion, jalapeno, lime juice and cilantro — Simple, fresh ingredients that takes these tacos to the next level.
If you don’t like or can’t find corn tortillas then go ahead and substitute the flour kind.
Chicken Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa
(adapted from Cooking Light)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
- 4 (6-0unce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1/2 cup diced peeled mango
- 1/2 cup diced peeled avocado
- 1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno pepper
- 8 (6 inch) corn tortillas
- Heat a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Combine first 3 ingredients. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Rub over chicken.
- Add oil to pan, swirl to coat. Add chicken; cook 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove chicken from pan; let stand 5 minutes. Cute into 1/4 inch thick slices.
- While chicken cooks, combine mango, and next 6 ingredients (through jalapeno); stir in remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt.
- Heat tortillas according to package directions; top with chicken and salsa.
Makes 4 servings.
In my younger days, I enjoyed an Amaretto Sour or 2 or 3…. I have been a fan of the amaretto flavor for quite some time. Lindt chocolate used to make an amaretto truffle that came in a shiny purple wrapper but I haven’t seen them in years. That makes me sad.
What makes me happy is being able to bake sweets that use Amaretto as a flavoring agent. So, of course when I saw the recipe for these cupcakes in a recent Cooking Light magazine I just had to make them. They also gave me an opportunity to use some of the apples we picked from the orchard.
The cupcakes were relatively easy to make. I would love it if they had a touch more amaretto flavor though. Next time I am going to try adding a splash more amaretto to the cupcake batter and a little bit to the glaze as well.
Amaretto Apple Struesel Cupcakes
(from Cooking Light magazine)
- Cooking spray
- 6.75 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 1/2 cups)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup (2 ounces) 1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
- 1/4 cup butter, softened
- 2 tablespoons amaretto (almond-flavored liqueur)
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
- 1/4 cup 2% reduced-fat milk
- 3/4 cup finely chopped Gala apple
- 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons butter, chilled
- 2 tablespoons sliced almonds
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 4 teaspoons 2% reduced-fat milk
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Place muffin cup liners in 12 muffin cups; coat with cooking spray.
3. Weigh or lightly spoon 6.75 ounces (about 1 1/2 cups) flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine 6.75 ounces flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine granulated sugar, cream cheese, and 1/4 cup butter in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until well blended. Add amaretto, vanilla, and egg to sugar mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Combine sour cream and 1/4 cup milk in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until well blended. Combine apple and 1 tablespoon flour in a small bowl; toss well.
4. Add flour mixture and sour cream mixture alternately to sugar mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture. Beat just until blended. Fold in apple mixture. Divide batter evenly among muffin cups.
5. To prepare the streusel, combine 2 tablespoons flour, brown sugar, and ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Cut in 2 tablespoons butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal; stir in almonds. Sprinkle streusel evenly over cupcakes. Bake at 350° for 27 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan for 15 minutes on a wire rack, and remove the cupcakes from pan.
6. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and 4 teaspoons milk in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Drizzle glaze over cupcakes.
Another delayed posting. Le sigh.
I made this pasta salad for a Labor Day cookout. It turned about to be the cookout of a million pasta salads. Maybe that is a slight exageration…there were maybe 6 pasta salads there…but that is out of a total of 8 side dishes. We should have changed the party to a Pasta Salad “cook”-off. May the best pasta salad win! I like to think that this one could’ve been a contender.
Loaded Italian Pasta Salad
(altered from recipe in Betty Crocker Summer recipe book)
- 12 oz rainbow rotini, cooked
- 8 oz marinated artichoke hearts, drained and marinade reserved
- 8 oz mozzarella, diced
- 1/2 English cucumber, diced
- 1/2 large red onion, diced
- 6 radishes, sliced thinly
- 1 stalk celery, diced
- 2 cups halved grape tomatoes
- 1/3 cup diced green onion (green parts only)
- 1/3 cup sliced green olives
- 1/4 cup marinade from the artichoke hearts
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon minced basil
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients.
- Place the salad ingredients in a large bowl and toss to evenly distribute.
- Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss again. Refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving
You know those recipes that you make again and again over the years? This is one of those recipes for me. This recipe takes an all day commitment. It is a slow roasted leg of lamb that you have to “touch up” every hour or so. So, light the fireplace, grab a good book and spend your day cooking this lamb. It is well worth it!!
This lamb goes well with mint-yogurt raita, basmati rice and a salad of chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions.
Masala Roasted Lamb Leg
Serves 8 (generously)
(adapted from Gourmet magazine recipe)
For marinade paste:
- 1 small onion
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
- 1/3 cup chopped peeled fresh gingerroot
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic
- 2 tablespoons garam masala
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 2 teaspoons salt
- a 6 to 7 pound leg of lamb (bone-in), trimmed and tied by butcher
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- Chop onion. In blender, puree onion and all remaining paste ingredients until smooth.
- Lightly oil a roasting pan just large enough to hold lamb. Rinse lamb and pat dry. With a small sharp knife make 6 deep (to the bone) 1-inch long slits at about 1 1/2 inch intervals on each of 3 sides of leg, being careful not to cut any strings.
- Arrange lamb, meaty side up, in pan and season with salt and pepper. Rub lamb all over with paste.
- Marinate lamb, covered with plastic wrap and chilled, at least 4 hours and up to 24. Let lamb stand at room temperature 1 hour before roasting.
- Pre-heat overn to 325 degrees farenheit.
- Cover pan with several layers of foil, sealing tightly and roast lamb in middle of oven 2 hours.
- In a small saucepan melt butter with honey and stir in citrus juices.
- Uncover lamb and pour half of honey sauce over it.
- Roast lamb, pan tightly covered with foil, 1 hour more.
- Uncover lamb and pour remaining honey sauce over it.
- Roast lamb, pan tightly covered with foil, basting lamb twice with pan juices, 1 hour more.
- Uncover lamb and roast until meat is almost falling off bone, about 30 minutes more. If lamb begins to blacken, cover loosely with foil. (NOTE: lamb roasts about 4.5 to 5 hours total)
- Transfer lamb to a platter and discard strings. Let lamb stand until cool enough to handle and skim fat from pan juices. (lamb may be made 1 day ahead and cooled completely before being chilled, covered. Chill pan juices seperately. Bring lamb to room temperature before reheating, covered. Chill pan juices seperately. Bring lamb to room temperature before reheating, covered, in a 350 degree oven and reheat pan juices)
- Serve leg whole with pan juices or pull meat from bone and drizzle lamb with juices.