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

stuffed peppers w/ green salsa

stuffed peppers w/ green 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 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! 

matcha kale & peach smoothies

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

Blame it on the heat, but I’ve finally joined the “smoothie for breakfast” club. I’ve always been more of a breakfast taco or avocado-toast-in-the-morning kind of person, but lately I’ve been waking up craving something a little more light and refreshing.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

This icy cold matcha kale smoothie really hits the spot. Matcha, (to me) is as good of a pick-me-up as coffee. Plus I was able to sneak some greens in here. The kale taste is almost barely noticeable because, Jack, our resident smoothie-lover is not exactly a green juice guy. At least, not yet.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

Creamy bananas and sweet ripe peaches help make this smoothie a little more, well, smooth. In the wintertime, I think I’ll try subbing in ripe pears.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

And I almost forgot – ginger. It’s totally optional, but adds a nice (healthy) kick. Grate in a little fresh ginger or splash in some ginger juice.

matcha kale and peach smoothies / @loveandlemons

About matcha: Unlike steeped tea, matcha is made by grinding the entire tea leaf into a fine powder. Because you consume the whole leaf, it has approximately 10x more nutrients than regular green tea. (If you’re interested in more health benefits, click here). 

We, of course, love it because it tastes good! If you’ve never had it, this smoothie is an easy way to give it a try. Or have a look at our other Matcha Recipes.

mango & red pepper orzo salad

mango red pepper orzo salad / @loveandlemons

A few weeks ago we spent some time in Chicago visiting my family. In between some pretty indulgent meals (we finally got to the Girl & the Goat!), I did most of the cooking. At each meal, my mom and my sister would ask: “So is this recipe on the site?”

And, um, well, no. They never are… mostly because I find it liberating to cook in someone else’s kitchen with no camera in sight. There are no notes to be taken, and certainly no recipes to follow. I love digging through the fridge to see what’s there and what ingredients could potentially go together.

mango red pepper orzo salad / @loveandlemons

This mango & red pepper salad was especially refreshing for the heat wave that happened to be going on. Crunchy cucumbers, red onions, fresh herbs and sweet mango… summer was made for big juicy salads like this.

mango red pepper orzo salad / @loveandlemons

We served this next to some salmon but it’s plenty filling on it’s own – chickpeas and hearty whole wheat orzo make it a complete meal. This would be especially great for picnics and make-ahead lunches. (It’s one of those that actually tastes better the second day).

mango red pepper orzo salad / @loveandlemons

I topped this with feta when I made it for my family, but I’ve recreated it here to be vegan. It’s super flavorful from the herbs, spices and tahini… even Jack approved it without the cheese (but feel free to add some if you want to).

mango red pepper orzo salad / @loveandlemons

So mom, here’s the recipe! Or, a least, a similar version of it…

heirloom caprese w/ mint pesto

heirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemonsheirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemons

And the season of simple recipes continues…

“What are you going to do with these?” asked the farm-stand man as I was fixating on these 3 gorgeous golden tomatoes. This question always flusters me… I should have an answer, but truthfully, I buy things on a whim and usually decide what to make later. And in this case, these tomatoes were so spectacular that knew I wasn’t going to “do” much.

heirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemons

“Um… I’m probably just going to slice and eat them…” He looked at me with a huge grin as if I had just given the right answer. I could tell he was pleased that his tomatoes would be heading to a good home. Then he told me they would be perfect tomorrow, but only tomorrow.

This is what I love about summer.

heirloom caprese with mint pesto / @loveandlemons

Here’s the plate of beautiful sliced tomatoes that we enjoyed last Sunday night… elevated (just slightly) with slices of fresh mozzarella and a bright mint pesto.

A little pesto goes a long way – save the extra for simple meals throughout the week. If you make this tag #loveandlemons or @loveandlemons on Instagram!