Happy Thanksgiving

I'm wishing you and your family and friends a very happy and delicious Thanksgiving! Thank you for visiting me here at Mango & Tomato, leaving comments and making my recipes. I really appreciate it!

Remember to enjoy the simple things in life and surround yourself with beauty. And good people.


My First Ever Cauliflower Rice: Pineapple Fried Cauliflower Rice

I finally did it! I made and tried my first ever cauliflower rice. I have Becky to blame for it :) KIDDING!

When Becky of A Calculated Whisk asked if I'd like to receive a review copy of her new cookbook, I said sure! I'm amazed when my blogging friends create cookbooks, especially when they do their own photography. I can't imagine how much time and effort and dirty dishes such a big project would take. Becky's book, Paleo Planet, is a great gift for anyone who is interested in Paleo diet, or for anyone who enjoys delicious food with an international flare that also happens to be gluten free!

Becky Winkler's Paleo Planet is the first cookbook to take the paleo diet for a global spin, with recipes that represent the cuisines of East, South, and Southeast Asia, the Middle East and Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean, and of course the U.S. In 125 recipes, she proves just how creative and wide-ranging the tastes in paleo cooking can be. With the chicken chapter alone, Becky demonstrates this breadth and depth of flavors with Yu Hsiang Chicken and Eggplant, Indochinese Chile Chicken, Roast Chicken with Za'atar and Yogurt Sauce, Chiles Rellenos with Pepita-Avocado Crema, and Chicken Meatballs with Garlic-Kale Marinara. Beyond these and other main courses featuring meat and fish, there are chapters devoted to vibrantly flavored appetizers, soups, sides, and desserts.
I decided to make Pineapple Fried Cauliflower Rice but omitted chicken, which makes this a perfect Meatless Monday recipe!

Pineapple Fried Cauliflower Rice

Recipe © 2015 by Becky Winkler and Used By Permission of The Harvard Common Press

This paleo take on fried “rice” is much lighter than the original version, and has the perfect balance of sweet and savory flavors. For an extra special version, top it with some chopped crispy bacon.

Yield: 4 servings
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes

1 medium head cauliflower
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons ghee or coconut oil
2 large eggs, beaten
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into very small pieces
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 small carrots, peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (1-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and grated
2 to 4 serrano chiles or other small chiles, seeded if desired, and minced
1 1/2 cups bite-size fresh pineapple chunks
3 scallions, trimmed and sliced
1/4 cup coconut aminos
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon unseasoned rice vinegar


1. Discard the large stems from the cauliflower and roughly chop the florets. Pulse the florets briefly in a food processor until they are about the size of grains of rice. You should get about 5 cups of riced cauliflower. Set aside.

2. Heat 2 teaspoons of the ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the beaten eggs and cook without stirring until they are almost set, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle the eggs with a little salt and pepper, flip like a pancake, and cook for 30 seconds on the other side. Transfer the omelet to a cutting board and slice into thin strips.

3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons ghee in a very large skillet over high heat. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pan and cook undisturbed until browned on the bottom, about 3 minutes, then turn over and brown on the second side, about 2 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the chicken to a plate.

4. Reduce the heat to medium-high and add the onion and carrots to the skillet. Stir-fry, scraping the bottom of the pan to remove any browned bits, until the vegetables are softened and starting to brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger, and chiles and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in the riced cauliflower and stir-fry until the cauliflower no longer tastes raw but retains a bit of crunch, about 4 minutes. Next, stir in the pineapple and scallions. Return the chicken to the pan, add the omelet strips, and stir to distribute everything evenly.

5. Mix the coconut aminos, sesame oil, and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Add the sauce to the skillet. Stir-fry until the chicken and pineapple are heated through, about 2 minutes. Serve hot.

I will be honest with you: I was a bit nervous about how this dish will turn out. This was my first time cooking with coconut oil and coconut aminos. Not to worry: the directions could not have been more clear. I liked that Becky made a thin omelet and then cut it into strips instead of scrambling the eggs. I also was impressed that my final product looked exactly like the picture in the book!

I made half the recipe and it reheated well as leftovers. Will I forever forego rice? Of course not. But the use of cauliflower instead of rice is a technique I'll use in the future.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Paleo Planet but am not being compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


Smoked Trout, Fennel, Olive & Tangerine Salad: Mayonnaise Free!

I've never smoked (unless you count my few poor attempts at smoking hookah). BUT I absolutely love smoked foods. Salmon. White fish. Trout!
Most of the time I eat smoked white fish or trout in a form of a salad on top of a bagel. That salad is typically made with mayonnaise or cream cheese and capers and is absolutely gluttonous in the best way possible. Last week, however, I decided to make something a bit lighter and brighter with a filet of smoked trout I bought at my grocery store.

Smoked Trout, Fennel, Olive & Tangerine Salad: Mayonnaise Free!
Serves 1

1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
10 Castelvetrano olives, pits removed, chopped
1 smoked trout filet, broken into pieces
3 tangerines {1 juice, 2 segmented}
1/8 red onion, thinly sliced
olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
fresh dill for garnish

1. In a large bowl combine all ingredients. Serve.

How do you like to eat smoked trout?


Meatless Monday Pasta: Roasted Butternut Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Shells

My coworkers often ask me for suggestions when it comes to restaurants. Occasionally I get requests for recipe ideas. The latter happened a few weeks ago when I was asked for impressive dishes to make with squash.

I automatically thought of butternut squash, my favorite type of squash. Alas my ideas for butternut squash lasagna, gnocchi or stuffed squash weren't impressive enough. Eye roll. Maybe I should have suggested butternut squash risotto?!

Then I thought of stuffed shells! Stuffed shells with roasted butternut squash and creamy ricotta in a pool of tomato pasta sauce covered in cheese and broiled. OMG! YES!

I liked the idea so much, I decided to make it myself ;)

Meatless Monday Pasta: Roasted Butternut Squash & Ricotta Stuffed Shells
Serves 4

16 shells, cooked in salted water for 8 minutes, drained, cooled
2 cups roasted butternut squash {I roast mine whole in 425F oven for about an hour or until tender}
1 cup full fat ricotta
10 basil leaves, chopped
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups pasta sauce, heated
1/2 cup shredded cheese {I used Parmesan/Gouda blend from Trader Joe's thanks to suggestion from my friend Sylvie.}

1. Preheat the oven to 375F.
2. In a mixing bowl combine roasted butternut squash, ricotta and basil and season with salt & pepper. You want the mixture to be pretty smooth.
3. Stuff the shells with the mixture. If you have some of the filling left over, eat it with a spoon or spread on toast.
4. Pour heated tomato sauce into a baking dish: mine was about 8x10". Nestle in the stuffed shells.
5. Bake stuffed shells for 25 minutes.
6. Remove the baking pan from the oven and sprinkle the shells with the cheese. Broil for about 5-10 minutes, making sure not to burn the cheese.
7. Allow the shells to cool slightly and then dig in!

Hear the sizzle and the bubbling!!!

A video posted by @mangotomato on

This was quite a decadent and satisfying dish. It's perfect for Meatless Monday or Sunday dinner or lunch any day of the week. I froze most of the shells and can't wait to eat them very soon!


Fall Flower Centerpiece in a Pumpkin!

It's Friday!!! Happy almost weekend.

If you know me, you know I love flowers and buy them for myself pretty much weekly. Girls, treat yourself! Don't wait for a man to buy you flowers. You deserve all the beauty in your life!

Last week I signed up and attended a flower arrangement class at Hill Center in DC organized by Bree of Capitol Romance and taught by Emily of love blooms. I absolutely loved it! The class was really well organized, there were treats and beverages, a wide variety of flowers to choose from and great instructions.

The theme of the class was fall: we learned how to make a centerpiece inside of a pumpkin!

Here are a few things I learned:
1) start your arrangement with greenery, then add secondary flowers, then add your star flowers
2) you don't have to make your arrangement perfectly symmetrical: this was really hard for me to do because I LOVE symmetry, but I tried my best
3) to tell if flowers you are buying are fresh, look at the leaves!
4) the little packets of food you get with store-bought flowers will work ONLY if you follow the instructions precisely! Emily said she basically uses fresh water only and changes it daily.

I'm in love with how my arrangement turned out and have enjoyed it for a week. It still looks beautiful and makes me so happy!

Have a great weekend!


Vegan Cauliflower, Potato & Chickpea Curry: Recipe From Blogging Over Thyme

I love creating recipes, but sometimes it's easier to follow someone else's. That's exactly what I did this weekend with a recipe I found on TheKitchn for Blogging Over Thyme's Vegan Cauliflower, Potato, And Chickpea Curry.

I'm not going to retype the recipe because I followed the original one pretty closely with only a few changes. First, I used full fat coconut milk instead of light, and used the entire can. I also used the liquid from home cooked chickpeas instead of water or vegetable broth. And finally, I did not have cilantro, so used parsley.

You need less than an hour to make this dish and you'll have plenty of leftovers for days!

I was a bit dubious about the addition of canned tomatoes to the curry, but loved the bit of sour taste it added to the final dish. I also went ahead and used garam masala and cardamom, even those aren't my favorite spices. They played really well with cumin, coriander and fresh ginger.

Whether you eat it with rice or as a soup, this dish will keep you satisfied and warm on a cool fall day.


Chili & Corn Tortilla Casserole Perfect For Fall & Winter Weather

It's unusually warm here in DC. In fact, I'm wearing a short sleeve dress and my legs are completely bare. If the weather is more fall like where you live, you will want to make my Chili & Corn Tortilla Casserole tonight or this weekend!

I’m required to disclose a sponsored partnership between my site and Mission Foods. I have been compensated in exchange for this post in the form of payment, product or experiences.

Let's get back to tortillas and this chili casserole. Whether you like corn or flour tortillas, you will find what you want in the Mission brand. I prefer turning flour tortillas into tortilla chips by cutting them into wedges and baking them on an oiled cookie sheet sprinkled with salt and spices for about 5 minutes on each side.

Corn tortillas, I prefer to use in tacos, quesadillas, enchiladas or in this case a casserole. Because one of my favorite fall/winter meals is chili with cornbread, I thought using corn tortillas instead of cornbread and adding layers of chili would be an easy take on the dish.

To make sure the corn tortillas don't dissolve into the chili, I charred them directly on top of my gas stove. You can brown them in a skillet or bake them in the oven until they turn slightly golden.

Chili & Corn Tortilla Casserole
Serves 6-8

2 teaspoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon chipotle chile pepper, or more depending on how spicy you like your food
2 teaspoons cumin powder
salt & pepper to taste
2 cups pinto beans
3 scallions, sliced
6 corn tortillas, charred
2 cups shredded Cheddar
2 cups salsa
garnishes: avocado slices, sour cream, salsa, scallions

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.
2. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté the onion until it's translucent. Add ground beef and spices and cook until the beef is no longer pink. Season with salt and pepper and remove extra fat. Add sliced scallions.
3. Lightly oil your baking pan. My baking pan was the width of 1 tortilla and the length of 2.
4. Layer the casserole:
2 tortillas
1/3 of cheese
1/2 beef mixture
1/2 salsa
2 tortillas
1/3 cheese
1/2 beef mixture
1/2 salsa
2 tortillas
1/3 cheese
5. Bake the casserole in the oven for 25 minutes and allow to rest for 10-15 minutes before digging in.
6. Served with avocado slices, sour cream, salsa and scallions.

This is quite a filling meal and gets better as it sits in the refrigerator for a day or two. You could also freeze the leftovers!

For more information, join Mission Insiders! and visit  Mission Foods!


Alternative to Thanksgiving Pecan Pie: Pecan Pie Bars by David Guas

Are you starting to think about Thanksgiving or simply want a decadent dessert? Then you definitely want to make a batch of Pecan Pie Bars from David Guas's latest cookbook Grill Nation.

David was one of the chefs at the Chefs for Equality fundraiser I attended as a guest of my good friend Anna Empanada. I call her Anna Empanada because she owns DC Empandas with her husband Shawn and to differentiate her from my twin Anna ;)

Anyway............David gave us his cookbook at the event and I am really sad I don't have outdoor space that includes a grill because otherwise I'd be making quite a few recipes from his book.

Fortunately, some of the recipes, like this one for Pecan Pie Bars, don't require a grill.

Pecan Pie Bars
Makes 3 dozen
Copied with permission from David Guas

3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup cold butter, cut up
1 1/2 cups light corn syrup
1 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup butter
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 

1. Preheat oven to 350. Grease a 15x10" jelly-roll pan with shortening. Whisk together flour, granulated sugar, and salt in a large bowl. Cut cold butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly. Press mixture into bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until eggs are light golden brown.  

2. Combine corn syrup, brown sugar, and 1/4 cup butter in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, whisking to dissolve sugar; cool 5 minutes. Whisk eggs in a large bowl. Gradually whisk half of hot syrup mixture into eggs; gradually whisk egg mixture into hot syrup mixture, whisking constantly. Stir in pecans and vanilla. Spread pecan mixture over crust. Bake at 350 for 20 minutes or until set. Cool completely on a wire rack (about 2 hours). Cut into 36 squares.

My entire condo smelled like brown sugar! It was intoxicating. I made a few changes to the recipe: mainly I used oil instead of shortening to prep the baking pan. Also, I used a different size of a baking dish and used pecan halves instead of roughly chopped pecans. I recommend you follow the recipe :) Because my pan was smaller than the size required in the cookbook, I had to bake the bars longer, which is not a huge deal. Using pecan halves made the job of cutting the bars a bit more difficult...but I managed.

I bet this would be great drizzled with dark chocolate!

This makes enough to share with friends and I'm pretty sure it would freeze well.