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Sunday, August 19, 2012

Mango Salsa


I was a very picky eater until about high school. I was especially wary of fruits. Eat something with seeds in them? Nope. I also wasn't a fan of the textures of most fruits (is that weird? I just can't do certain textures).

When I started cooking and baking more in high school however, I became more adventurous in what I liked to eat. Mangoes are one of the fruits I wish I'd appreciated earlier in life, because I have a lot of mangoes to eat now to make up for lost time. Mangoes just taste like summer and sunshine to me. I need one right now, I think.

When Annelih, Rhi and I decided to make something using tropical fruits this week, I decided to go with a mango salsa my mom makes. It's perfect as a topping in tacos or on top of grilled chicken or fish.

I had it on black bean veggies tacos last night and I ended up eating the extra salsa straight out of the bowl because I couldn't let any go to waste.

Mango Salsa:
1 mango
1 plum tomato, sliced and halved
1/2 small onion, diced
1 small lime
garlic powder
salt and pepper

1. Peel the mango and cut up the fruit into medium-sized chunks.
2. In a small bowl, combine the mango with the onion and tomatoes. Sprinkle with a tiny bit of salt to help everything juice up.
3. Add garlic powder, pepper, and a squeeze of lime juice (to taste).
4. Serve over chicken, fish, or veggies tacos! Or just eat it straight out of the bowl. It's that good.

This week I'm participating in Foodie Friday and Friday Favorites!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Lemon Trees and Sherbet

From blossoms
by the moonlight,
from an
aroma of exasperated
steeped in fragrance,
drifted from the lemon tree,
and from its plantarium
lemons descended to the earth.

- Ode to the Lemon, Pablo Neruda.

The other day I was at Busch Gardens, and I noticed they now have a garden center in the park entrance. Why? I have no idea. But they were selling citrus plants...in boxes. Air-tight packages containing teeny-tiny lemon, lime, and orange trees were just sitting there, calling to me. I love the idea of growing my own herbs, fruit and vegetables. However, I've not had much success outside of herbs (my basil and parsley are doing fantastic, though!), but I'm hoping to turn that around.

We have orange and tangelo trees in our backyard that produce lots of fruit in the winter, and its always fun to pick off the ripe fruit. So when I saw an opportunity to add to our mini citrus orchard, I couldn't resist.

Our future lemon tree is just a wee little shoot with some leaves right now, but I'm hoping it will grow into a tree we can enjoy for years to come!

I cook and bake with lemons a lot, and I can't wait for the day when I can get them from my backyard instead of the grocery store!

I will, however, continue to buy my other citrus favorite, orange sherbet, from Publix. Maybe one day I'll learn how to make that from scratch!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Who Says Box Cake Can't Be Delicious?

I love the Olympics. I remember freaking out when Dominique Moceanu won gold for the U.S. in 1996. I was 6 and totally in love with her. I wanted to be her, and I started gymnastics that year. I didn't last long. Soccer, swimming, and gymnastics are my favorite sports to watch, and so far the United States has done a pretty great job bringing home medals in all three (woooo go US Women's soccer! I love them so so much). Also, how amazing is the Chinese diving team? They're fantastic!

Anyway, when Annelih suggested we make something Olympic themed for this week's recipe adventure (and I apologize for how late it is!), I decided I'd make something in honor of the US Olympic athletes. I also wanted an excuse to use an excess amount of strawberries and bluberries. And whipped cream. Sooo much whipped cream.

I also decided to make a cake that looked like Captain America's shield because why not? As one of my friend's mentioned recently, Cap would totally take the gold in the decathlon. It's not even up for debate.

Another confession: I love box cake. I went through a phase where I refused to settle for anything less than everything from scratch. I tried dozens of cake recipes, and while most were delicious, I soon realized that I still loved good old Duncan Hines, Betty Crocker, and Jiffy cakes from a box. Plus, you can just add a little orange zest or almond extract to the batter to give it some extra oomph. It can totally hide the fact that you didn't slave over the cake for hours.

So yes, I decided to make a box cake for this week instead of making it from scratch. And it was light and fluffy and delicious. Lucky for me, whipped cream and berries can make any cake look way harder to make than it really was.

Whipped cream recipe and how I decorated the cake behind the cut!

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