Whew! Well this weekend was an exciting whirlwind of activity. Even with Mother’s Day starting to feel sooo two weeks ago I want to back track a bit and share the remainder of our wonderful sun soaked and family filled day. Besides, it would be sad to leave Part 1 hanging there all alone with no Part 2 to keep it company.
Having eaten to satisfaction, the remaining quiche was tucked into the refrigerator to become indulgent leftovers. After another hour of “well, we ought to get going,” and “I should probably use the bathroom one more time,” my family was on their way home. Mr. Second Helpings and I took a deep breath and set about replacing the chairs, sweeping the crumbs, and sprucing up the tables. The very last thing I wanted was Mr. Second Helpings’ family feeling like they were playing second banana to our lunch party.
I wanted to put out some pre-dinner nibbles but not spend much time putting things together. Cheese and crackers to the rescue! Specifically more Chréve (soft goat milk cheese), one plain and one covered in herby goodness. The crackers were a sesame version of those funny large rectangles that are mostly just a crunchy vehicle for some cheese or other yummy spread. Generally I would not recommend something so plain but sometimes you just need a little something that tastes crunchy – ya’ know? By the time our guests added their veggie trays, pita chips, and hummus to the table we had a gorgeous selection of healthy appetizers.
Before dinner, several of our nieces and nephews found my strategically placed box of sidewalk chalk and did a fantastic job decorating the far side of the patio. I love how creative they are. I also love the way sidewalk chalk can be scribbled absolutely everywhere and then washes away with the next rainfall. They eventually dissolved into a chaotic game of coloring their hands and trying to mark each other with dusty prints. For a short time one side of the yard was enveloped in a multi-colored dust cloud. It was an exuberant celebration of Spring if ever there was one.
Again my efforts to prepare as much of the food as possible the night before paid off. When it came time to get dinner going I took my heaping pile of chicken out to the grill and just started cooking. Our chicken was coated with a BBQ sauce of tomato paste, molasses, mustard, and rhubarb balsamic reduction. All the condiments were set out and each person customized their own burger. I had spent most of the day thinking about the bowl of Mango Salsa I put together the night before. When it was finally my turn to eat I just heaped my chicken with some of the sweet and spicy salsa and called it done.
We capped the meal with my newest favorite cupcakes. I found the recipe on Skinnytaste! Gina has an amazing archive of light and simple recipes and it doesn’t get much simpler than these Pineapple Bliss Cupcakes. Now that I have made them once I have the recipe memorized. Are you ready for me to pass along her genius?? Can you handle the awesomeness of this recipe??
Okay here goes: 1 box of cake mix (I used lemon) & 1 can of crushed pineapple, beat, portion, bake, DONE!
Aren’t they gorgeous! Can you believe it?!? I could not handle the simplicity. I cracked at the last second, and just had to add a 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder. Two ingredients to make cupcakes? It was just too good to be true! It was true. They did not need my emergency baking powder. The recipe made 2 dozen sunny little cakes that baked up light but firm and moist but not sticky. The cupcakes also provided a perfect platform for the meringue frosting that has recently tempted me in to a not-so-secret love affair. We can talk more about that later…
All kidding aside. Sitting in a pool of late day sun surrounded by marvelous people is a treat any day. It seems even more special on a day like Mother’s Day. Contrived by corporations or not we all hit the pause button on our usual weekend routines and we gathered. Together we laughed, gossiped, teased, and shared a beautiful healthy meal. This is what we should be doing more of. When the swell of emotions is too much we can just do and be the “I love you,” that our lips aren’t able to form. We shared a few hours both carefree and joyful because we can and because we are family.
Mango-Avocado Salsa (or Salad)
This is more recommendation than recipe. The amounts can be adjusted to match the ingredients you have and the number of people to be served. Best if made at least four hours in advance. Should stay fresh and vibrant in the refrigerator for several days. Recipe as written makes 3-4 cups of salsa.
- 3 medium mangos super ripe and juicy, pit and peel removed then diced
- 3 medium avocados, pit and peel removed then diced
- 1 medium shallot, super thinly sliced about 1/4 of a cup (could also use finely chopped red or green onions)
- 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (from a can) supper finely chopped
- 1 – 2 tsp of adobo sauce (from the can with the chipotle pepper) add a little at a time using more or less to reach the level of spice desired.
- 1 small handful of minced cilantro, a loose 1/2 cup
- In a bowl combine diced mangos and avocados (a terrific video for anyone unfamiliar with cutting mangos)
- Add thinly sliced shallot or onion and cover everything with the lemon and lime juice. Sprinkle with a few dashes of salt around 1/4 tsp, adding more if it doesn’t “zing”
- To add spice to the salsa – Carefully mince the Chipotle pepper until it has nearly turned into a paste. Add to salsa and taste. Add a teaspoon or more of adobo sauce or an additional minced pepper to increase the heat. Tip: let the salsa sit for a couple of hours and taste again to see how the flavors have mingled before adding more than a couple teaspoons of sauce.
- If you enjoy cilantro toss it in at the end. If you think it tastes like soap – leave it out!
- Refrigerate the salsa / salad for 4 or more hours. Before serving taste again and add additional salt or “heat” if needed.
Recipe Idea: Turn this into an entree by adding a can of black beans, corn, and/or two cups of cooked quinoa – yum, yum, yum!