Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado Cantaloupe Salad

Once upon a time I won a melon baller at my cousin’s baby shower and I was embarrassingly happy.  But I never got to use my coveted melon baller.   I lost it instead.  I know this is by far the most tragic story you’ve heard all week, but try to keep it together it gets better.  Yesterday I came across a melon baller at the dollar store and I bought it.  The End.

Limes

Now that I’ve wowed you with my bard-like story-telling skills, I give you the recipe for melon baller enthusiasts everywhere.  I’m usually against kitchen gadgets that seem to have only one purpose.  I don’t need the clutter.  I have a tiny kitchen, the last thing I want to do is cram one more cooking utensil into my kitchen drawers.  But as a child I had a fascination with melon ballers that I don’t completely understand.  Maybe it was because my mother never owned one and it was a simple case of wanting what I did not have… I dunno, it’s weird!  Whatever the reason I concocted this recipe for the sole purpose of getting use out of my new melon baller and I’m not sorry I did it.

Jalapeno

I am in love with the color combination of this salad.  The bright orange of the cantaloupe pops so beautifully against the various shades of green. I chose to use avocado, because we’re in the midst of steamy summer time affair and I don’t care who knows it.  Seriously, look back at the posts I’ve made since the heat hit, I guarantee there are a ridiculous number of recipes that include avocado…

Also I wanted to see what would happen if I used a melon baller on an avocado… yeah… I’m a dork.

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I added some mint, which was left over from the mojitos and jalapeno to add some interest.  I topped the salad with unsalted cashews for a little nuttiness and crunch and drizzled the whole lot with lime juice and flax seed oil.

Cashews

I mixed this salad when I got home from a run and it was the perfect pick-me-up.  I’m positive this is not the last time we’ll see this salad this summer, I’m dying to find out how it would partner with some BBQ shrimp.  I’ll keep you posted!

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Give this salad a whirl!  It’s oh so refreshing and satisfying even on a day with 94% humidity (please send help, my hair can’t take it).  So, find that melon baller you thought you’d never use and get ready to enjoy yourself more than you’ll care to admit.

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad

Avocado and Cantaloupe Salad: Serves 4

½ cantaloupe

1 avocado

Juice of one lime

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

¼ cup unsalted cashew, roughly chopped

2 tbsp flax seed oil

1/8 cup fresh mint, finely chopped

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Using a melon baller scoop out individual balls of avocado and cantaloupe.

Place avocado and cantaloupe in a large bowl and drizzle with lime juice to keep the avocado from browning.

Add jalapeno, mint, cashews and flax seed oil and toss to combine.

Serve immediately with a fresh sprig of mint.

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork

Pulled Pork Sandwich

It was my brother’s birthday last weekend and I was lucky enough to spend it at my family’s cottage.  Every year we celebrate my bro’s birthday by consuming a few pigs and whole lotta beer.  We call it Pig Fest (my family is ever so refined).  Sausages, ribs, pulled pork, bacon, pork chops; you name it and we’ve probably served it to mark the occasion.   Clearly the movie Babe never really got to my brother; then again no animal related movie ever does.  The first time I ever ate venison my brother told me it was Bambi’s mother… I was four and yes, I’m still scared from the experience, although it was infinitely less painful than the time he convinced me that Keens Hot Mustard was butterscotch pudding.

Gotta love siblings, they’re so friendly.

Garlic

This was the first time we served pulled pork at our annual family pig out and I was left in charge of the preparation.  The pressure was on!  I knew I had a lot to live up to.  We’ve been throwing these shindigs since my brother’s fifteenth birthday and that was… well; I feel like I shouldn’t say or I may find myself being force fed spicy mustard all over again.  Anyway, it was a touch risky to add a new item to the menu of such a legendary event, but I persevered and wound up with the deliciousness you see before you now.

Mango

I knew going in that the ribs (the pièce de résistance of every pig fest to date) would win out, but I think I gave it my best effort and although I may be slightly biased, I favored the pulled pork over the ribs, but don’t tell my mom.  Since the ribs were slathered in Phil’s (an a amazing BBQ joint in San Diego) BBQ sauce, I wanted the pulled pork to be completely different, so I wouldn’t invite anyone to compare the two.   I chose to contrast the smoky sweetness of the Phil’s sauce with a vaguely Asian concoction that was sweet, tangy and spicy but in a very different way.

Pureed mango with jalapenos and green onion

Since pork and fruit of any kind get along like a house on fire, I grabbed a sad little mango languishing in the crisper and went from there.  For a touch of spice I threw in some jalapenos and fresh ginger.  I added a healthy dose of soy sauce to balance the sweet and enhanced the overall taste with a burst of citrus, courtesy of some lemongrass, a touch of marmalade and a splash of lime juice.  Then I simply doused the pork shoulder in this lovely blend and cooked the hell out of it.

Pork shoulder and marinade

Many of my family members ate it all on it’s own, but that was not enough for me.  Oh no, I had to take it to the next level.  I served this delectable treat in a bun (sadly, this was the only half-way decent bun I could find out in the boonies) and topped it with this coleslaw, which you’ve already met.  The creaminess of the coleslaw melted into the saucy pork and the crunch of the pepitas definitely added something special.  If at all possible consume both these recipes together… unless you’re not a fan of citrus in which case I wouldn’t make either.

Pulled Pork Sandwich with Cilantro Lime Coleslaw

But if you happen to have won a lemon-eating contest at the tender age of fourteen (you may want to forget that tidbit of information) then welcome home!  This sandwich was made for you!

Enjoy!

Spicy Mango Pulled Pork: Serves 8

6-8 pound bone-in boston butt

1 mango, cubed

5 cloves of garlic

1/8 cup lime juice

2 tbsp pureed lemongrass

3 tbsp fresh ginger, roughly chopped

3 tbsp sweet chili sauce (I used President’s Choice)

2 tbsp marmalade

2 jalapenos, divided

2 stalks of green onions, sliced

1/8 cup soy sauce (or to taste)

2 tsp sesame oil

2 cups of water

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300°

In a food processor place mango, garlic, lime juice, lemongrass, ginger, chili sauce, marmalade and one intact jalapeno.

Blend until smooth.

Deseed and dice the second jalapeno.

Pour puree into a medium sized bowl and stir in soy sauce, green onions, diced jalapeno and sesame oil.

Pat pork shoulder dry with paper towel and place it in a large dutch oven.

Pour mango mixture over the meat making sure to get it in every nook and cranny.  Add water.

Cover the pot and place it in the center of the oven.

Cook for one hour then turn the pork and spoon the juices over the top.

Repeat for six hours or until the meat comes easily off the bone.

Remove the fat and bone and shred the pork using two forks.

You can serve it right away, but I let mine cool and popped it in the fridge over night and reheated it the next day.

Serve it on it’s own or in a sandwich.

Cheesy Mexican Penne

Cheesy Mexican Penne

A hefty bowl of Macaroni and Cheese may just be the quintessential comfort food. Equipped with the non-confrontational taste kids go for, it’s hard to argue with Macaroni and Cheese.  Like grilled cheese sandwiches, which I can’t seem to stop talking about lately, Macaroni and Cheese is very simplistic in its requirements. All this soothing dish entails is pasta, cheese, butter, milk, breadcrumbs and a few odds and ends. As with anything minimalistic, the room for embellishment is seemingly endless.

Red Pepper

Call me crazy, but I’ve never been a big fan of macaroni. I prefer a larger, meatier piece of pasta. The three times my mother actually made Macaroni and Cheese for my siblings and I (my mother is a very health conscious lady and I think she found it difficult to put that much butter and cheese into a single dish) she used penne instead of macaroni and crushed saltines instead of breadcrumbs. To me this will always be Macaroni and Cheese, despite the absence of one of the dish’s headliners.

Jalapeno

Like the Mac and Cheese of my youth, this week’s recipe is mac-less. It may not look like a take on Macaroni and Cheese, but trust me it is. I took the predictable pasta dish and transformed into a creamy inferno called Cheesy Mexican Penne. I was hopelessly hungry while I was fixing this so I opted to keep it stove top and not bake it, but if you possess that virtue called patience, by all means pop it in the oven.

Diced Vegetables

This Cheesy Mexican Penne follows all the usual steps of it predecessor, but the addition of tomatoes, jalapenos, red pepper and onion lend a zesty complex flavor to the dish. A few heaping spoonfuls of habanero salsa ups the spice factor without over powering the velvety cheesy sauce.  This dish is endlessly satisfying and the picture of spicy decadence.

Cheddar Cheese

The perfect pick-me-up as the temperatures continue to drop, this Cheesy Mexican Penne will have you feeling like you’re south of the border.

Cheesy Mexican Penne

 

Cheesy Mexican Penne: Serves 6

450g dried penne

4 tbsp flour

4 tbsp butter

2 cups half and half

1 ½ cup cheddar cheese, shredded

¼ red onion, diced

½ red pepper, diced

1 jalapeno, deseeded and diced

1 Roma tomato, diced

1 ½ tbsp Dijon mustard

4 tbsp habanero salsa

Salt and Pepper to taste

Fresh cilantro

Directions:

Place a large pot of water to boil over high heat.

Once boiling, salt the water liberally and add pasta.

Cook until al dente and drain and rinse the pasta and set aside.

While the pasta is cooking, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.

Whisk in flour to form a paste.

Slowly add half and half, whisking after each addition until sauce is creamy and smooth.

Season with salt and pepper and add cheese.

Stir mixture until the cheese is completely melted.

Reduce heat and add veggies, mustard and salsa.

Allow to cook for five minutes until the vegetables are slightly softened.

Taste and season accordingly with salt and pepper.

Pour sauce over waiting pasta and stir to combine.

Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.