Category Archives: Appetizer

Mango With a Kick

My mother’s eternal refrain: “eat some fruit” has become kind of a joke in my family. Don’t you know fruit cures all ills!?

“It puts roses in your cheeks!”

We laugh, now, but it really stuck with me.  I default to fruit when I need to bring something to share, nothing makes me happier than a juicy red watermelon and my only dinner request when visiting my parents? Fruit salad.

(Mom makes the best.  She just has that special mom-ish touch I guess.)

I don’t often bother to meddle with fruit, especially this time of year.  It’s perfect just the way it is…no preparation necessary.

At its best, fruit makes an awesome dessert by itself…but sometimes it’s fun to dress up a little.

I know I’m about to ask a terrible thing to ask of you.  Who wants to go near the oven on a 105 degree day?

(Side note: I definitely baked a cake on the hottest day of the year so far, but I’m some kind of freak…also an idiot).

((It was worth it…I’ll show you soon))

Fear not, this treat only requires a quick stop under the broiler.

(If you have a grill, do not underestimate the deliciousness of grilled fruit.  Smoky sweet and a little char?  Yes, please.)

((No grill for this girl.  So…I improvise!))

I wish I had a grill, but this is a nice alternative.  The broiler caramelizes sugars and brings out the natural sweetness of the mango.  Don’t fight it…heat is your friend!

Lime and red pepper kick you in the pants to keep things interesting…

A touch of honey stops the whole thing from getting out of control.

It’s a symphony, you see.  All ingredients are necessary…skip none!

((Ok, MAYBE you could skip the crushed red but ONLY if you’re completely against anything even a tiny bit spicy.  If you’re just skeptical…give it a shot.))

They look like little fruity french fries but it’s a completely different experience.  You’ll get a little crunch, a little kick and then a burst of fruit juice that puts gushers to shame.

With a little extra honey on the side?  We’re calling this dessert so you’re allowed.

Simple, quick, fresh, delicious.

(Minimal cooking)

Oh happy day!


❤ Ellen

P.S.  Hello from our new apartment!  We moved. It was hot.  Camera chargers were lost.  Toes were stubbed.  Patience was tried.  Camera chargers were saved from endless piles of boxes.  Then, endless piles of boxes disappeared!(Miracle!?)  I’m back in a functional kitchen with a functional camera and I’m full of ideas…get ready!!

Broiled Honey Lime Mangoes

Not really a recipe, just an idea.

You need:

Some mango

Some fresh squeezed lime juice

Some honey

and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper

1.  To get the wedges pictured:  peel the mango (knife or veggie peeler-whichever is your weapon of choice).  You’ll notice it is shaped like a slightly flattened sphere or, I guess, kind of like an egg.  The seed inside is huge and roughly the same shape.  Strategic slicing is necessary.  Stand it up on a slightly pointy end and slice off each of the flat faces.  Lay the two large slices flat side down and slice vertically to get wedges.

2. Toss the mango slices with the juice from a real lime (trust) until they are evenly coated.  I use about a half a lime per medium sized mango.

3. Arrange the slices on a baking sheet, leaving room between each slice.  Drizzle with honey (enough to get that great glaze but don’t get carried away…the mango is the main show here).  I would estimate a tablespoon per mango.

4.  Place the sheet under the broiler and watch! Remove when the slices reach your desired level of char.  I used to stop as soon as I started to see brown spots…these days I tend to take it a little further.  I love a good crunch.

5.  Sprinkle with JUST A PINCH of crushed red pepper and serve immediately (it doesn’t keep and is absolutely best warm).  Additional honey and lime optional.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Appetizer, Dessert, Snacks, Uncategorized

Alternative Potato Salad

Confession: I don’t like potato salad.

I know I know I’m sorry…I just can’t get into it.

The individual ingredients each have delicious potential:

Potatoes are awesome. Always.

I appreciate and respect mayonnaise for what it’s got goin’ on.  Sometimes it’s really just necessary.

Vinegar, green onions, maybe some hard boiled egg…ok fine. I’m with you.  Sounds great.

For some reason, though, their powers combined just don’t thrill me.

I know it’s weird.  I’m always left out with my potato salad-less plate at picnics and barbecues each summer.  It’s cool, though.  I have found an alternative and I am head over heels in love!! (With a pile of potatoes? No one said it made sense.)

This nonsense I’m about to throw at you looks nothing like the potato salad at every picnic since the dawn of time.

It’s roasty, spicy, smoky, hint of sweet…I’m amazed.  Please let me share!

For this potato salad you’re going to chop a lot of things into circles.  Ready? Begin.

Roasting works magic.


Becomes this:


Becomes this:

Roasty rounds and caramelized onions…things already look good!

Oh but we’re not done yet…

Some of those roasted jalapenos hang out with some olive oil, some vinegar and some sugar.

Just some casual roasted jalapeno vinaigrette creation.  No big deal.  Then I got a little crazy and this guy got involved:

That is an ancho chile pepper.

It has an awesome sweet heat that played off of the jalapeno and the vinegar just right.  Plus it turned the whole thing yellow/orange to match the sweet potatoes.  Meant to be!

Now, at this point I was getting pretty excited thanks to the ridiculous smells in my kitchen…so in my attempt to dress the salad, I spilled the vinaigrette everywhere.  Just warning you of potential hazards.

Potato salad shish kabob? Yes, please.

You need this potato salad update in your life.  I need some company in this sweet n’ spicy bliss.  Together we’ve got it made.  Happy cookout/picnic season!


❤ Ellen

Alternative Potato Salad

Recipe adapted from this Better Homes and Gardens recipe

For the potato salad:

2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch disks
2 sweet onions, thinly sliced
4 jalapeno peppers, roasted (425 degrees F for 20 minutes or until skins start to brown), divided
[**2 jalapenos, chopped, for the salad, 2 get pureed into the vinaigrette]
Olive oil (enough for a thin coating before roasting)
Salt n’ pepper (to taste)

For the vinaigrette:

1/2 cup rice vinegar (or 3 parts white vinegar & 1 part water)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 dried ancho chile pepper
2 roasted jalapenos
1 clove of garlic, peeled
1/3 cup olive oil
Salt, pepper, cilantro to taste

1. While the oven preheats to 425 degrees F, put your thinly sliced onions in a pan with about 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium to low heat. They are gonna hang out in there until they are soft and caramel color…low and slow is the key here.

3.  Arrange jalapenos on a baking sheet so that there is plenty of room between peppers.  Roast for 20 minutes total, flipping after 10 minutes.

2. Toss the potatoes with enough olive oil to thinly coat, salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the potatoes on a baking sheet so that they are not touching.  Roast for about 15 minutes, flip then roast another 10 minutes.  The potatoes should be soft and just starting to brown.

3. In a blender, combine 2 of the roasted jalapenos, the ancho chile pepper, vinegar, oil, sugar, garlic, salt, pepper and cilantro.

4. Toss the potatoes, the remaining 2 jalapenos (chopped) and the caramelized onions with the vinaigrette in a large bowl to serve


Filed under Appetizer, Sides, Uncategorized

Taco (or whatever) Seasoning-Make your own!

Seriously, friends, those little taco/fajita/whatever seasoning packets are such a waste of money.

Also they kind of taste like…I don’t know…preservatives?

I get it.  They’re easy and convenient. Fine.

But pretend you want a taco.


((It happens. Don’t act like it doesn’t.))

Now pretend you have everything you need EXCEPT the darn packet that makes it a taco.

(Because the vast majority of foods could become a taco when placed in a tortilla, ((which you can make at home anyway)) this happens often)

Should you run to the store, pay more in gas than the packet costs, wait in line, wait in traffic wait wait wait wait wait


Make your own and have tacos now.

I choose the second one. Always.  Because those little packets are gross. Also, I’m impatient when I’m hungry.

The same rule applies, maybe even more, for sudden fajita cravings.

Plus I have all the seasonings that go in taco seasoning in my pantry right now.  They don’t have to be mystery ingredients. They aren’t difficult to find.  They’re spices for delicious real life. Get with me here.

All you need is: [love] and…

Now, I’m calling this taco seasoning because that was its original purpose but let’s get real here…

it goes on anything.

Sprinkle it on things you’re gonna roast, toast, saute, scramble, slow cook, soup or sandwich and anything else you can think of.  It tastes just as delicious on vegetables or beans as it would on meat.

Maybe keep it away from ice cream, though.

If you throw together a bunch of it and keep it in a little jar/tupperware container/plastic baggie (I don’t care) you’ll save a step and some brain power when dinner time sneaks up on you.

Seasoning dinner doesn’t take long but this way you don’t have to think about it and that’s just one delicious container you need to reach for.

I know they already did this “blend of spices in one container” thing.  But do it yourself and it’s cheaper, tastier and gives things a vague Mexican flavor.  What’s not to love?

This isn’t really a recipe.  More like an idea. You’re allowed to change the spices and proportions to suit your needs and tastes.

In fact, please do.

I would be lying if I told you I followed the measurements I listed in the recipe every time…they’re close enough, though.  Basically it’s just nice to have a favorite blend of spices on hand.

  So uh…try it and stuff.  Bet you’ll like it better than a foil envelope.


❤ Ellen

p.s. homemade ketchup coming up next. DIY FTW!

Seasoning Blend for Tacos…and so much more!

I’m giving you the guide I used…it’s a great base to adjust to taste!

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon paprika1 1/2 HEAPING teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix it all together (and you feel better).

….lime and coconut? anyone

((3 tablespoons to a packet))

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Filed under Appetizer, Dips, Hodge Podge, Main Dish, Sides, Slow Cooker, Snacks, Soup, Uncategorized