Cince de Mayo

It’s my birthday and also Cinco de Mayo.  So, I’ll be going out with my family and enjoying a margarita.  

Avocado salsa

Here are a few of my recipes to make salsa at home.  First one is a chunky guacamole, the second a quick tomato salsa, and last is mango salsa.

Summer Meal in a Flash

Between my part time work, boys’ swim lessons, swim team practice, speech therapy, and BMX practice and my Park & Rec Commission meeting there was little time to cook dinner last night but we still managed to have a quick and healthy meal.

I sound like a broken record, but I find so many convenient yet healthful foods at Trader Joe’s.  Last night I cooked Mahi Mahi burgers and served them with sides of spinach and broccoli.  The boys had theirs plain, but for mine I added a bit of a flavor treat.  One of my favorite combinations of flavors is Mahi Mahi with mango salsa.  Since the boys had to run out to BMX track and I had to get to a meeting I just skipped some of the parts, but still created a similar taste.  I added a slices of mango and avocado and some Sriracha.  So delicious! Going to do that again soon. 

Trader Joe's Mahi Mahi Burgers with avocado and mango

Trader Joe’s Mahi Mahi Burgers with avocado and mangoIMG_4492


Easy Avocado Salsa (Chunky Guacamole)


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A simple way to make a delicious avocado salsa/chunky guacamole.   Use Trader Joe’s Salsa Verde (Tomatillo salsa) to add nice spicy twist.  I find sometimes chili peppers aren’t hot enough or are too hot and then sometimes their heat … Continue reading

Empanadas– or as my sons call them “those tacos things”

At this month’s Cooking Club we had a Latin American theme.  I usually try to make something I’ve never tried making before or something I think is creative or challenging.   So, I made arepas (sort of like corn flour rolls) but in case they didn’t work out, I had bought some frozen empanada dough discs (made with yucca and annatto).  It wouldn’t have mattered – I ran out of timeso if they didn’t work SOL.  (They weren’t too bad, but wasn’t my best dish.)

Anyway, on the following night since I had already defrosted the empanada discs and some stew beef from our CSA I suggested to my husband he make empanadas for dinner, which he did (he’s good like that).   I helped by grinding the beef in the food processor and making some of the sides, but that’s about all. I wasn’t too sure the kids would eat the empanada without any fuss, but I figured if they tried a bite they’d probably like them.  We told them that they were similar to tacos.  They all love tacos, and it stuck.  They just called them “those taco things” for days afterwards.

I was pleasantly surprised with the enthusiasm for the dinner even before it was fully assembled and in the oven; especially by my youngest two.  They were thrilled to see the meat go in the shells (I think meat is such a boy thing) and ate them with such gusto. 

We served a salad, black beans, brown rice, salsa and my husband’s delicious guacamole with the empanadas.  Though my youngest wouldn’t touch any beans, salsa or guac—he’s the pickiest of all three.

Beef Empanadas
10 pack of empanada shells (used Goya with yucca)  
1 pound beef (ground)
½ onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 Tbsp tomato paste
1 tsp dried oregano
½ tsp ground cumin
handful chopped fresh cilantro
olive oil
salt & pepper

Pour Tbsp olive oil in a fry pan and get it hot.  Add the ground beef and cook until browned.  Turn down heat to medium and add onions and sauté until nearly translucent.  Add garlic, chili powder and cumin.  Cook stirring often for a couple of minutes then add the oregano and tomato paste.  Thin out with about ¼ cup of water (adjust according to desired consistency).  Salt and pepper to taste.  Take off heat and cool.  Stir in cilantro when cooled. 
Preheat oven to 350˚F. Place about 2 Tbsp of mixture onto center of a shell, brush a little water along edge then fold in half and press outside edge together.  Press with a fork around round edge to completely seal. 
Add Tbsp olive oil to hot pan.  Sauté each side until brown, then bake on parchment lined cookie tray for 20 minutes. Serve while hot. 

We had 4 extras that went into the freezer instead of the oven – my middle son asked me to serve it for dinner the following night (he had to wait 2 nights, but I was happy to oblige).

Out the door with dinner on the table

On Monday evening I brought my eldest to a swimming lesson that started at 6 pm but we had to leave the house by 5:30.  My husband was getting home just in time for me to leave the other two behind and give him quick kisses hello and goodbye.  I figured it was best to have dinner ready for everyone but my eldest and I would eat upon our return around 7:30.  I’d defrosted a haddock the day before so I needed to cook that.

Twenty-five minutes later I was out the door with dinner on the table for my two youngest and my husband: baked haddock with tomatoes, red onion, cilantro and lime (almost like a baked version of ceviche); basmati rice; baby spinach; broccolini and an avocado salsa. 

Baked Haddock with Tomatoes, Red Onion and Cilantro

                        This can be done with other flaky white fish as well.

1¼ pounds haddock

¼ red onion, chopped

2 plum tomatoes, chopped

handful fresh cilantro, chopped

juice from ½ lime

½ cup white wine

1 Tbsp olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

(optional chopped Serrano pepper)

Coat oven proof pan with olive oil and place fish on top.  Cover with the wine, lime juice and other ingredients.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350F (depending on thickness of fish) until it flakes.  Serve over rice. 

 Avocado Salsa

2 ripe avocados, chopped

juice from 1 lime

handful of chopped cilantro

1 plum tomato, chopped

¼ red onion, chopped

¼-½ Serrano pepper or habanero pepper finely minced

tsp olive oil

Sea salt and pepper to taste

Gently mix ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least 10 minutes before serving.

I noticed when we got back that the two boys had done a great job on their dinner with one having left only a one inch piece of fish. Although I would have preferred to eat it fresh out of the oven, it was delicious.  Definitely something I’d serve again. My eldest son and I enjoyed ours together.  He dove into the rice first and then tackled the rest of it. Each and every boy ate all their veggies and my eldest gobbled up the salsa— I had to reluctantly give up some of mine! 

Quick Salsa

 Like I’ve said, we have so many tomatoes right now.  I still haven’t had a moment to can any but I did have a few minutes to create a yummy salsa.  It’s really just a couple of minutes.  My brother was there and he thought it was amazing to watch how easy it is. 

 As far as my kids go: my eldest will eat salsa, but my other two won’t.  At least not yet.

Quick Tomato Salsa

  • 3-6 tomatoes (depending on size), cored and quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, cut in half
  • juice from one lime
  • Serrano, jalapeño or other hot pepper (with or without seeds depending on your heat sensitivity)
  • 2 handfuls of cilantro without stems
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper to taste

 Throw them all in a food processor and pulse several times, stirring to make sure it’s evenly chopped.  You can adjust the time you’d like to chop it based on your preference of texture.  If you want a really chunky one, it’s probably best done by hand, but then you extend the time by hand chopping everything individually.


This is so easy and quick.  But I still didn’t get any laundry put away.

Mahi-Mahi with Mango Salsa

Today I was at Whole Foods and got so many wonderful fresh foods. I chose the Mahi Mahi for dinner and picked up a mango to make a salsa to go with it. Years ago, before kids, we used to shop regularly at Hay Day (now Balducci’s) and once got their tropical fruit salsa to go with Red Snapper. Since then we’ve been making different combinations of fruit salsas for certain fish. I love the firm sweet-tartness of mangos, but sometimes we add cantaloupe, honeydew and /or pineapple. With a little red onion, cilantro (try mint if you hate cilantro), lime juice, orange juice, hot pepper (habanero goes nicely with fruit, but be careful as they can be extremely hot. Use a surgical glove as I previously suggested so you don’t burn your eyes later if you forget you’ve got hot pepper juice on your fingers!), it makes such a great topping for fish, pork or chicken. We add the hot peppers last, so that we can separate some for the kids, then have ours as hot as we’d like. Prepare salsa before the fish or vegetables as it should sit in juices and pepper — for the flavors to come out. Basmati Rice, green beans and beet greens rounded out the meal.

I try to always buy my beets with the greens attached, but they don’t always sell them that way unless they’re really fresh. I lop the greens off the top the day I purchase them but the roots (beets) can stay another day or two. Chop the greens with stalks attached into one inch strips and steam until wilted. You can do this anytime during the meal preparation, as you will reheat when it’s time to serve. You also probably want to leave the leafless stalk for a juicer if you have one (unfortunately right now I don’t). Once you are ready to serve, just reheat in sauté pan with pat of butter, pinch of sea salt and fresh ground pepper to taste. (You’ll see a pattern here with veggie preparation). Beet greens are similar in texture and color to chard but less minerally and sweeter. My kids really love them.

For the Mahi-Mahi preparation: cut into approximately 5-6 oz size portions, discarding any bloodline (the dark colored section in the middle of the filet), then season with sea salt and pepper. On high in a sauté pan get canola oil (or other mild vegetable oil) hot then add the Mahi-Mahi and reduce heat to med-high. Turn over when fish is nice and golden brown. Reduce heat further to med-low so it’s not getting blackened, but cooking through. It is a bit messy with the splatters, but it only takes a few minutes to cook this way. If you are cooking rice, time the rice and when you see there’s 8 minutes left, it’s a perfect time to cook the fish.