mango habanero black bean tacos

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

I love a good mango salsa. (I mean, who doesn’t?) It’s so fun and versatile - some of my favorite additions have been roasted jalapeños, smoked paprika, diced avocado, and even sesame & ginger.

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

Today’s special ingredient: Mango Habanero Jam. I know, I know, it’s not in your pantry already, but I just loved this salsa so much I had to share it anyway. It’s sweet, juicy and spicy with a little nice kick from the jam. (A little bit goes long way).

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

I didn’t realize mango habanero jam was missing from my life until it showed up recently in my Hatchery Box. I’ve been loving my Hatchery subscription – it’s like mini-christmas once a month to get a box full of sample-sized artisan ingredients to try. I find that it often takes just one unique ingredient to elevate simple meals into something special.

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

These really couldn’t be easier - just chop and mix your ingredients – salsa, avocado, black beans, etc, and stuff them into a tortilla. (Add cheese if you want, but these are plenty flavorful without). Next time I might switch things up by adding a grilled piece of halibut or salmon.

If you don’t have mango habanero jam: try jazzing up your mango salsa with chipotle spices (either from a can of chipotles in adobo or ground chipotle powder)… or if you’re really brave try adding roasted habanero peppers (just don’t touch your eyes after you handle them!). You can also make this salsa with diced ripe peaches or pineapple instead of mango.

For now, I’m off to eat these leftovers for lunch…

mango habanero black bean tacos / @loveandlemons

roasted cherry tomato bowls

roasted cherry tomato bowls (vegan) / @loveandlemons

I don’t know if it’s possible to have too many cherry tomatoes. But if you do, roasting them is the perfect way to eat a whole bunch at a time. They shrivel up into the sweetest, tangiest little bites – which are perfect to toss into simple bowls full of greens and grains.

slow roasted tomatoes / @loveandlemons

Around this time last year I posted this slow roasted tomato pasta. This year, I’m cheating the slow roast. Here’s how:

1. Use little tomatoes and it’ll go tons faster.
2. Start roasting them in low heat (like you’re supposed to). Once they begin to dry (and your impatience rises), raise the temp.

wheat berries / @loveandlemons

At the beginning of the week I like make a big batch of some kind of grain – this time it was chewy wheat berries. Store them in the fridge and they’ll be ready to use for meals like this.

roasted cherry tomato bowls (vegan) / @loveandlemons

I added spoonfuls of creamy sun cheese (a creamy sauce made out of sunflower seeds – also another a make-ahead item). Some burrata or fresh ricotta would go nicely in here as well.

stuffed peppers w/ green tomato salsa

stuffed peppers w/ green tomato salsa / @loveandlemons

Back before there were a (seemingly) endless number of food blogs on the internet, there were a few I followed pretty religiously. 101 CookbooksSprouted KitchenSeven Spoons, and one of my all time favorites: Kimberly Hasselbrink’s The Year in Food.

I was new to the idea of blogs, but suddenly I spent all my time at the office procrastinating instead of working. What I was going to make that night for dinner became far more important to me that any client project I had on my plate.

stuffed peppers w/ green tomato salsa / @loveandlemons

I was drawn to these blogs not because I needed to get dinner on the table in 30 minutes –  I was enamored with their images and how they made me want to try new foods. Instead of going to the store with a recipe (which never really worked for me anyway), I began going to the market to see what looked good that day. I learned to pick up a new vegetable because it was pretty and figure out what to make with it later. By experimenting this way, my cooking not only became more beautiful, it also became more delicious. (More vibrant, if you will).

green tomato & avocado salsa / @loveandlemonsgreen tomato & avocado salsa / @loveandlemons

So naturally, I was through the moon to meet Kimberley a couple of months ago at the Saveur Awards. “When am I getting your book!” was I think the first question statement I blurted out. Later, when I got home, there it was – Vibrant Food – on my doorstep.

It’s (of course) beautiful and full of so many creative, inspiring, seasonal ideas. Things I would have never thought of: squash blossom tacos, edamame & radish risotto, grilled hallumi with strawberries and mint.

She writes “My hope is that [the book] is equal parts inspiration and accessibility. Even if you can’t find nettles, fresh chickpeas, kumquats, quince or some of the other less common ingredients I’ve grown so fond of, I hope that curiosity will get the better of you. Perhaps you’ll bring a striking vegetable home and mull over it, and then build a colorful dish around that vegetable. That is how I cook.”

Vibrant Food by Kimberley Hasselbrink

I made these little stuffed peppers because they were too cute not to. She topped her peppers with a tomatillo salsa, but I had just come home with these gorgeous green tomatoes so I made a green tomato salsa instead.

Get the book! 

gluten free skillet cookies

chocolate pecan skillet cookies (gluten free) / @loveandlemonschocolate pecan skillet cookies (gluten free) / @loveandlemons

A lot of gluten free baking experiments happen around here. If you haven’t noticed them, it’s because a good many of those trials never become post-able recipes. I’ll say it (and I won’t be the first!) – gluten free baking is hard. I know many of you are pros, but for the rest of us, it can be frustrating and not to mention expensive. Today, I’m here to relieve you of all of your internet-flour purchasing by saying: just buy a pre-made flour blend. One bag, and you’re done.

chocolate pecan skillet cookies (gluten free) / @loveandlemons

For years, all of my gluten free friends have sworn by Pamela’s flour blends. The handy thing is – you can sub it into your favorite recipes 1:1 and the texture is pretty spot on. For this recipe I used their Artisan Flour Blend – which is made of brown rice and other whole grains. (And there’s no bean flour so even the raw dough tastes good!)

chocolate pecan skillet cookies (gluten free) / @loveandlemons

Because summer (to me) is about skillets, I made chocolate chip cookies in cute little mini skillets. If you don’t have mini skillets, you can use little ramekins, or bake the dough in a larger skillet (or a glass or ceramic dish) and slice them into bars.

chocolate pecan skillet cookies (gluten free) / @loveandlemons

Also (because it’s summer), we indulged and smothered these with ice cream and chocolate sauce.

chocolate pecan skillet cookies (gluten free) / @loveandlemons

(Yes, there’s still a cookie under there!)

vanilla peach pops

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

There’s only one thing more summery than juicy, ripe peaches: Juicy, ripe peaches frozen into sweet, melty, almond milk popsicles! It’s summer on a stick, friends.

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

First, you need to get your hands on some really good peaches. If you can’t find good peaches, use whatever juicy peak-season fruit you do have. (Sliced strawberries would be excellent here).

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

For the base, whisk Vanilla Almond Breeze, with a touch of coconut oil and maple syrup. You could also use plain (sweetened) almond milk and add a bit of vanilla bean. (I’d stay away from vanilla extract this time).

These are pretty lightly sweetened, which is my personal preference. Feel free to add more maple syrup if you wish. Or get fancy and simmer your peaches into a peach purée.

Because its summer, and I was lazy, I kept it simple…

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

Fill a popsicle mold with chopped peaches and pour the almond milk mixture over top. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a popsicle mold, you can use little cups instead. Just let them freeze for an hour or so before placing the sticks.

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

Now the hard part: waiting. Let them freeze overnight (or about 10 hours).

vanilla peach pops / @loveandlemons

Try to take the photo quickly before they melt all over your countertop!

If you make these, tag #loveandlemons on Instagram so I can see!