Tag Archives: Puerto Rico

Puerto Rico Primas: Mango Cucumber Salad

Jumping for joy in Culebra

“How do you all know each other again?”

“We’re COUSINS!!”

“Oh…huh. Really? Okay. Well, you ladies want a beer?”

So went many conversations during our week adventure in Puerto Rico. Perfectly normal to us that four cousins would fly across the country, pile into a pimped out Honda Accord with a decidedly loud muffler, and explore all over the island, turns out that’s not most folk’s M.O. But it is ours….and it was fun.

The last to arrive in San Juan, I was greeted curbside at midnight by three beauties hanging out of the car with the tunes blasting. From there we would spend a week sunning, laughing, dancing, snorkeling, kayaking, horseback riding, and naturally, eating.

They say that Puerto Rico isn’t know for its food, and I would be tempted to agree. There is an abundance of slightly tired, deep-fried “things” (sorry, can’t think of what else to call them), but the real culinary beauty of PR comes in the incredible fruits and vegetables that one can buy for next to nothing from little stands on the side of the road.

This Mang0-Cucumber salad was the perfect accompaniment to the Citrus Shrimp (recipe coming) and Pilaf we enjoyed our first night at the Culebra Beach Villas.* Exceedingly simple and fast to prepare, it is also very refreshing. We were out of avocados, but you could definitely toss some of that in as well. Serve when looking out at the ocean from your private villa, feet covered in sand, cheeks kissed with sun, and surrounded by the laughter and love of dear family.

Mango Cucumber Salad

Mango Cucumber Salad

Mango Cucumber Salad

2 large cucumbers, peeled and diced

2 large mangoes, peeled and diced

1 lime

Salt and Pepper

Mix the cucumbers and mangoes in a large bowl. Cut the lime in half and squeeze the juice over it. Add salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

*For the record, these villas are outstanding. We stayed in 2B, and it literally was steps from the beach, with grand vistas out to the ocean and surrounding cliffs. Culebra itself is a small island approximately 17 miles off of Puerto Rico. Accessible via ferry it offers the perfect respite from the bustling, and at times overwhelming, San Juan. The people are lovely, the pace relaxed, and the beaches breath-taking.


Erina, Kate, Margaret, and Annie-Laurie


**All photos by my lovely cousin Annie Laurie Malarkey.**


Filed under Health Conscious, Month of Exploration, Salads, Uncategorized, Vegetarian

Day 18: Reflections at 30,000 Feet

At least once a day someone used to ask me, “How are you?” and at least once a day I would cheerfully respond, “Good! Good, good, good. Work is great…super busy, so that’s good. Matt’s working on a really cool project, so he’s feeling good about that. Family? They’re good. All is good. Good, good, good.”

The only thing more worrisome about this response, besides my seeming lack of vocabulary, is that up until a few weeks ago I seldom actually thought about the question.

How was I?

On paper, things were great. Killer job, happily newlywed, loving family, great friends, etc., etc., etc.

But the reality was I often felt like I was missing something. So desperate to “maximize output” and “cost benefit ratios” I charged around like a woman on a rampage. A woman on a rampage at the park, at the grocery store, brushing my teeth. It was exhausting for me, and I’m hearing on good authority from friends and family, not entirely enjoyable for them either.

And so when this opportunity to take a month off presented itself I pushed back the feelings of fear and self-doubt and dug into my month of exploration.

And in case you’re wondering….I’m loving it.

I’m loving the adventure and I’m loving the quiet. I’m loving not having my day scheduled in 15 minute increments, and I’m loving saying yes to things I never would have before. I know this reality isn’t for me forever, I’ll be very excited when the time comes to return to work, but for now this little diversion is the best thing to happen to me in a long time.

Soon to be landing in Dallas, then on to Puerto Rico for a week of swimming, sunning, snorkeling, and of course, snacking.

Stay tuned for lots of delicious PR inspired recipes and meal ideas…and until then, thanks for reading!

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Filed under Month of Exploration

Eat. Breathe. Love. – Baked Artichoke Dip


Morning Mimosas in Walla Walla

I recently watched Julia Robert’s Eat. Pray. Love. and felt that while it was cute and moderately interesting it was not the brilliant and awe-inspiring story the critics had made it out to be. For those of you not familiar with the plot, Elizabeth Gilbert, successful NY author who seems to have it all wakes up one night and realizes she doesn’t want to be married anymore. What ensues is her personal struggle to figure out who she is, via three-month stints in Italy (Eat), India (Pray), and Bali (Love).

While I can’t claim to be nearly as tortured as Elizabeth, or as glamorous as Julia, I am at an interesting moment in my life. I am soon to be completing a one year contract doing work for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. However, in a move so uncharacteristic I’m questioning it myself I have NOT immediately lined up the next project. Rather, I’m hoping to take one month off before beginning my next adventure February 14th. Now, to most people taking one month off at some point in their late 20s or early 30s doesn’t seem so crazy. But, we’re talking about me here. The person who has blissfully had her life scheduled in 15 minute increments since the day I turned 14 and got my first Day-Timer. I am a person who craves order and control, and I’ve very purposely built a life on that.

So…upon assignment completion I will be kicking off my own little mini version of Eat. Pray. Love. Being a rather unsure agnostic I knew the Pray part wasn’t going to work so well, so I’ve changed it to Breathe.

Eat. – Here forth commences one month of totally indulgent cooking. I’m going to make sauces that take forever, I’m going to make so many muffins I don’t know what to do with them, I’m going to discover grocery stores in Seattle’s International District that I never even knew existed and I’m going to finally bite the bullet and try to make foie gras.

Breathe. – Does anyone else find breathing impossible? I do. I often realize as I’m falling asleep at night that I haven’t taken a single deep breath. So…I’m going to do yoga or Pilates every day and I won’t even ask the instructors if they have a speed class available.

Love. – They say that having a partner by your side makes the uncertain times that much easier. I couldn’t agree more. My lovely husband has been an absolute champion for this little adventure. What’s more…when I suggested to him that as part of this chapter I should perhaps take a cousin trip to Puerto Rico he totally agreed! So that’s how this experiment will end. One week in Puerto Rico with my lovely cousins.

Just some of the gang.

Just some of the gang.

This fall, as a sort of precursor to Puerto Rico, five first cousins set off for Walla Walla, WA. Arriving from Seattle and Portland we had an absolutely blissful weekend full of food, wine, laughter, dancing, and entirely ridiculous quotes that would make sense to no one else but us. We didn’t so much cook for the weekend as much as “melt stuff” but it was perfect all the same. This baked artichoke dip is sinfully delicious even if a bit ghetto. Make it ahead of time so that your guests don’t know what’s in it.

If bread, cheese, and artichokes don’t say “love” I don’t know what does.

Baked Artichoke Dip

1 medium-sized round loaf bread (cheap is okay)
1 can artichokes (well-drained and coarsely chopped)
1 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded + more for topping
2/3 cup mayo (don’t even bother with the light variety)
1 TB Lemon juice

Baked Artichoke Dip

Baked Artichoke Dip

Pre-heat oven to 350.

Carve out the round loaf of bread, reserving “filling” so that you can use it as crostini later. Cube filling into 2-inch chunks.

Mix remaining ingredients in a bowl and transfer to waiting bread bowl. Top with extra Parmesan cheese.

Bake in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until brown and bubbling. For last 10 minutes add bread chunks until lightly toasted. This is the perfect appetizer for a winter gathering.

**All photos by my lovely cousin Annie Laurie Malarkey.**


Filed under Comfort Foods, Kitchen Trials and Tribulations, Make ahead, Seasonal Cooking, Uncategorized, Vegetarian