Meal of Mangoes

The Appetizer:
(Or, since it came several hours before the rest of the meal, I guess it was practically lunch)
Caprese Salad, featuring fresh sliced mozzarella, homegrown basil
and heirloom tomato, topped with a balsamic reduction.
 easy caprese salad with tomato, mozzarella and basil
Mango Meal:
Yogurt-Crusted Pork Loin with Mango Salsa
Wilted Rainbow Chard with Red Winter Wheat Berries
Coconut Mango Curry SoupYogurt-Crusted Pork Loin with Mango Salsa Wilted Rainbow Chard with Red Winter Wheat Berries Coconut Mango Curry Soup Recipe
Recipes coming…as soon as I remember where I misplaced them…


Homemade Eggs Benedict

Now that my boyfriend learned how to make hollandaise sauce for Valentine’s Day, this was inevitable. Quick — word association: You hear “hollandaise,” you think _________. Yes, Eggs Benedict.

It meant a quick trip to Nature’s Bin for milk and English muffins. Only one option for each: fat-free skim milk straight from the farm, and organic whole-wheat muffins with flaxseed. A little more expensive than I like to get, but knowing I’m not polluting my body is worth the extra dollars.

Here’s the lineup, from bottom up: English muffins, organic spinach, Black Label bacon, sliced avocados, sliced roma tomatoes, all topped off with poached eggs (free range brown, of course) and drizzled with whole-wheat hollandaise. Served with bowls of mixed fruit (strawberries, blueberries and grapes) and organic green tea.

How’s that for an easy, healthy start to the day? As soon as my boyfriend posted this picture on his Facebook, a friend commented that they’d pay $12 for this at a restaurant.

So, who wants reservations at B&B Cafe?

The BLT Gains a Few Letters

I could have caved for lunch today and gone with the gang to A&J’s Diner for a burger. Instead, I headed home to my own kitchen and concocted something with a few more colors and few less calories. Behold, the BLT’s dressed-up cousin, the BACTCPM:

That’s bacon, avocado, cheese, tomato, cilantro, parsley and mayo on wheat toast. And it was delicious — which just goes to show that recipes are to cooking as road signs are to driving. They’re just suggestions.

BLT — says who? First of all, you need a vowel in there for it to make any sense. That bare-boned, three-ingredient acronym is just begging for some Avocado. I kicked the L out entirely because I didn’t have any. No lettuce? No worries; find something else green and throw it on. Enter cilantro and parsley, which I keep fresh on hand to satisfy my boyfriend’s every tea-brewing need.

The next time we made these sandwiches, we swapped out the M for an H, spreading on a healthier alternative of hummus in place of mayo. That makes this sandwich a vegetarian’s dream — because, let’s face it, I know you’re not salivating over fruit; you’re dreaming about the temptations of bacon on top of your daily greens.

Margherita Pizza

Looks yummy, doesn’t it? Well, it was – and even more so because I had no part in the making of this pizza, other than grilling the chicken and being at the grocery store while the other ingredients were purchased. Sure, there’s a certain satisfaction that comes from making your own meals; but the only thing better is when someone makes it for you.
Believe me, the hype around this dish had been building up for months as my boyfriend kept telling me about his specialty margherita pizza. Finally, last Sunday – appropriately, after we saw “30 Minutes Less” about a pizza delivery guy who gets kidnapped, strapped to a bomb and forced to rob a bank (true story, although the real thing wasn’t as funny as Danny McBride and Nick Swardson in monkey suits) – we decided to make our own. Pizza, that is, not a plot to rob a bank.
I was feeling guilty for being away from my book writing for the duration of the movie, so he took over in the kitchen while I got back to work on the laptop. He even stirred up the cupcakes I ambitiously agreed to bring into work for birthdays the next day – but he told me not to tell anyone that because he wants to maintain his reputation as a cook, not a baker.
As long as he keeps making me pizzas, he can call himself whatever he wants.

Scallops & Tomatoes

This similar scallop recipe from Epicurious was my inspiration for simplified scallops and tomatoes.
scallops and cherry tomatoes recipe

Photo by Maren Caruso for epicurious

Fresh Domestic Scallops + Tomatoes Recipe:
1/2 cup scallops – rinse, pat dry, sprinkle with salt and pepper
1/2 cup cherry tomatoes – washed and halved
1/4 cup red onions – chopped
olive oil
lemon juice
garlic salt, ground pepper, cayenne pepper

To thaw frozen scallops, give them a bath of cold water, changing often. Warm a couple teaspoons of olive oil in skillet at medium-high heat. Add scallops. Saute until they begin to brown, then remove to plate and cover. Add a little more oil and onions to skillet. Cook one minute, add tomatoes. Cook several minutes and add scallops back into skillet with about a teaspoon lemon juice.

Would be great served over angel hair pasta.

Peach Caprese

With my bountiful tomato harvest, I need to expand my palate beyond the basic Caprese.

Feeling a little fruity, I came up with this Peace Caprese (or “Capreachy”) Salad:
1/2 peach, peeled and cubed
6-8 cherry tomatoes, halved
3-4 mini balls of fresh mozzarella, halved
2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp lemon juice
garlic salt and fresh ground pepper

Toss ingredients together.

The Tomato Harvest

Since I transported my tomatoes outdoors, they’ve been taking off like a backyard jungle. I’ve gone on several maintenance missions to tie up the stalks that sagged with the weight of rows of green balls.

When I finally went out to peek behind the leaves, I had dozens of ripe red cherry-sized — and thus named — tomatoes. Ah, I thought, the harvest has come.

I had stocked up on fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil in anticipation. So as soon as the tomatoes took a bath, my salad had started to take shape.

Easy Caprese Mini Salad:

Cut 1/2-inch squares of fresh mozzarella cheese. Slice cherry tomatoes in half. Tear up several basil leafs. Toss all ingredients together with olive oil, garlic salt and fresh pepper – and a splash of lemon juice, if desired.

With the bigger tomatoes from Jason’s garden, I’ve been making a fancier restaurant version of this:

Easy Stacked Caprese Salad:

You can buy balls of fresh mozz pre-sliced. Layer a thick slab of that on a slice of tomato. Top that with a full leaf of basil. Drizzle olive oil and sprinkle garlic salt and freshly ground pepper.

This is what summer tastes like.

Planting Flowers

Spring! Finally, an excuse to be outside and play in the dirt: time to plant flowers. This has always been my favorite time of year, when it’s finally warm enough to run around barefoot and bask in the sun and admire everything in bloom.

Yesterday I picked up the flowers I ordered from a coworker. She leads the youth group at her church and they were selling them as a fundraiser. I got two flats of impatiens, two wave petunias and a couple herbs. So today it was warm enough – mid-60s, at least until the wind picked up and it dropped like 5 degrees – so I planted half of them.

It’s a start. I know they’ll fill in a lot, and I still have a lot more plants coming that need to be planted.

Such as:
the other flat of impatiens
tomato plant from Jason
3 cherry tomato plants from Jess (as you can see, I killed a couple the weekend I went to Cincinnati)
the zinnias I planted inside on Thursday (they popped up today)
geraniums from mom’s 4-H Club
maybe peppers, basil and herbs from Jason
various & sundry other bargains I find throughout the season