Category Archives: Dinner

Chile Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado

The cover recipe from Food and Wine? Not too shabby…especially considering the recipe comes from one of the “Best New Chefs.” Well, truthfully, we slightly adapted the recipe to accommodate for my mom and I, neither of us wanting to indulge in multiple ladles of olive oil. Still, we attempted to turn our plates into works of art.

And who can resist a plate of crab and avocado, two of the most luxurious ingredients (at least of the ingredients that show up in my house) that I can think of? So fresh and yet so rich. I think our satisfaction definitely justified the grocery bill, as lump crap meat is by no means easy on the pocketbook.

Chile Lime Crab Salad with Tomato and Avocado
From: Food and Wine Magazine, July 2008
Note: Instead of using sliced tomatoes as the base for the avocado and crab, we chopped the tomato and mixed it with the avocado.

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2-½ tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2-½ tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon very finely chopped jalapeno
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish
½ tablespoon honey
½ teaspoon minced garlic
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
½ pound lump crabmeat, picked over
1-½ Hass avocados, diced (1/2 inch)
1/3 cup minced red onion
1 large heirloom tomato, cut into four 1/2-inch-thick slices
Tortilla chips, for serving

  1. In a small bowl, combine the lime juice with the olive oil, jalapeno, chopped cilantro, honey and garlic. Season the dressing with salt and pepper.
  2. In a small bowl, toss the crab with 3 tablespoons of the dressing and season with salt and pepper. In a medium bowl, gently toss the avocado with the red onion and 2 tablespoons of the dressing; season with salt and pepper.
  3. Place a tomato slice on each plate and season with salt. Top with the avocado and the crab and garnish with the cilantro. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top and serve with tortilla chips.


My brother is my hardest critic. Home alone with him after spending the week eating at every major chain restaurant, I wanted to cook something from my own kitchen. Knowing every ingredient in my dinner somehow comforts me…no unknown additives or preservatives or, well, who knows what.

The answer? Homemade pizza!

When I told my brother the plan, I promised him we could order take out if I failed to execute. Although I have used yeast a handful of times, it never fails to intimidate me. What if it doesn’t rise? What if I kill it? What if it doesn’t activate? What if it just tastes disgusting after all of that time and effort? But, as I found out with my pizza dough, the risk is worth it.

Out of the five-star-rated recipes on for pizza dough, I chose the one that took the least amount of time. Luckily, my brother got home late from soccer practice, so I finished on time.

I ended up making four small pizzas, each with different toppings. For my personal pie, I chose to replicate my favorite pizza from Paxtis Pizza with sautéed spinach, artichoke hearts, red onion, and mushrooms. While the dough was rising, I sautéed the garlic and spinach in a nonstick skillet until the spinach was completely wilted so it would be ready when I needed it. The Empire Taproom—one of our family’s favorite restaurants—makes an absolutely amazing pizza with sausage, red onion, and red pepper. Consequently, I felt those toppings were appropriate for my brother. The third pizza was a sauce-less pizza, with fresh tomatoes, cheese, fresh basil, and fresh garlic. And the final pizza: cheese.

Well…If I can make a dinner my brother will not only happily eat once, but also potentially eat again, I think I can claim success.

Pizza Dough
From:, Wolfgang Puck
Note: I used regular baking sheets instead of a pizza stones and sprinkled them with cornmeal.

1 package active dry or fresh yeast
1 teaspoon honey
1 cup warm water, 105-115 degrees
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus additional for brushing

Toppings of your choice

In a small bowl, dissolved the yeast and honey in ¼ cup warm water.

In a mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the flour and the salt. Add the oil, the yeast mixture, and the remaining ¾ cup of water and mix on low speed until the dough comes cleanly away from the sides of the bowl and clusters around the dough hook, about 5 minutes. (The pizza dough can also be made in a food processor fitted with the steel blade. Pulse once or twice, add the remaining ingredients, and process until the dough begins to form a ball.)

Turn the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead by hand 2 or 3 minutes longer. The dough should be smooth and firm. Cover the dough with a clean, damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot for about 30 minutes. (When ready, the dough will stretch as it is lightly pulled).

Divide the dough into 4 balls, about 6 ounces each. Work each ball by pulling down the sides and tucking under the bottom of the ball. Repeat 4 or 5 times. Then on a smooth, unfloured surface, roll the ball under the palm of your hand until the top of the dough is smooth and firm, about 1 minute. Cover the dough with a damp towel and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. At this point, the balls can be wrapped in plastic and refrigerated for up to 2 days.

Place a pizza stone on the middle rack of the oven and preheat the oven to 500°F.

To prepare each pizza, dip the ball of dough into flour, shake off the excess flour, place the dough on a clean, lightly floured surface, and start to stretch the dough. Press down on the center, spreading the dough in an 8-inch circle, with the outer border a little thicker than the inner circle. If you find this difficult to do, use a small rolling pin to roll out the dough. Lightly brush the inner circle of the dough with oil and arrange the topping of your choice over the inner circle.

Using a lightly floured baker’s peel or a rimless flat baking tray, slide the pizza onto the baking stone and bake until the pizza crust is nicely browned, 10 to 12 minutes. Remember that the oven is very hot and be careful as you place the pizza into and out of the oven. Transfer the pizza to a firm surface and cut into slices with a pizza cutter or very sharp knife. Serve immediately.

Here are the toppings that I used for each pizza. I didn’t list the exact amount of each ingredient I used, partially because I failed to keep track and partially because I believe any experienced pizza eater can handle it ☺ (I have to admit, due to the interest of time…I took advantage of Trader Joe’s)

Pizza 1:
Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce
Sauteed spinach and garlic
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded four-cheese blend
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
Canned artichoke hearts
Sliced red onion
Sliced mushrooms

Pizza 2:
Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded four-cheese blend
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded mozzarella cheese
Italian turkey sausage (I pre-cooked it in a sauté pan ahead of time)
Sliced red onion
Sliced red bell pepper

Pizza 3:
Fresh tomatoes
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded four-cheese blend
Fresh garlic
Fresh basil

Pizza 4:
Trader Joe’s Pizza Sauce
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded four-cheese blend
Trader Joe’s pre-shredded mozzarella cheese

Mediterranean Night

I unquestionably suffer from a cookbook fettish. I love buying cookbooks, reading cookbooks, seeing cookbooks lying around my house, and, naturally, cooking from cookbooks. It is true, that I am quite fond of improvising and hoping my own creations come out acceptable, but flipping through recipes, well, is somehow quite satisfying.

Accordingly, when I saw the 40% off coupon for Borders in my inbox, I ventured over to downtown and came home with TWO new cookbooks: Baking, From My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan and The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger.

I have to say, I am proud that we tried three new recipes from Ellie Krieger’s cookbook in one night. That is big time. I made the Tabbouleh and the tzatziki without any cries for help, but after I seasoned the shrimp, my dad led the grilling. I pestered him into letting me turn the skewers, take them off, test them…eventually he will have to pass on the responsibility.

The verdict? I had seconds, but the rest of my family was rather skeptical. My mom made my brother cous cous instead of the Tabbouleh, but found it exceptionally good. I even ate it for lunch the next day. Perhaps they just failed to appreciate the Mediterranean feast…

Lemon Pepper Grilled Shrimp
From: The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger

1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 teaspoons olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
½ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Preheat a gill pan over medium-high heat or prepare a grill. Toss the shrimp with the oil, add the salt, pepper, and lemon zest and toss again. Grill until just cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side

Transfer the shrimp to a plate and drizzle with the lemon juice. Enjoy hot or at room temperature
From: The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger

1 cup bulgur wheat
1 ½ cups boiling water
2 medium ripe tomatoes, seeded and diced (about 2 cups)
1 medium English cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced (about 2 cups)
½ cup diced red onion
2 cups finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh mint
3 tablespoons olive oil
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Place the bulgur in a large heatproof bowl. Pour the boiling water over it stir, and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let it sit for about 15 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is tender. Drain any excess water from the bulgur. Stir in the tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley, and mint.

In a small bowl, whisk together the oil, lemon juice and zest, cumin, salt, and pepper. Pour the dressing over the bulgur mixture and toss well to combine. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour or up to a day stored in an airtight container. Serve chilled.

Lemon-Mint Tzatziki
From: The Food You Crave, by Ellie Krieger

1 cup plain nonfat yogurt or ¾ cup plain Greek-style nonfat yogurt
½ large English cucumber, seeded
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
¼ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
½ teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh mint
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

If using regular yogurt, spoon it into a strainer lined with paper towels set over a bowl and let drain and thicken for 30 minutes. Coarsely grate the cucumber. Drain it well in another strainer, for a minute or two, pressing out the liquid.

In a medium bowl, stir together the drained or Greek-style yogurt, the grated cucumber, oil, lemon juice and zest, garlic and mint. Season with salt and pepper. This sauce will keep for 3 days in an airtight container in the refrigerator; stir well before serving.

Going Greek

We have one pasta salad that we make. Every time we want pasta salad. It’s really tasty and I love it, but it in the spirit of trying new recipes, we wanted something a bit different. We went to Costco for water and blueberries (blueberry pie post to come…) and on the way home, brainstormed the possibilities. Rather than trying to find the perfect recipe in one our bajillions of cookbooks (I might have an addiction to buying cookbooks), we decided to create our own. And we went greek.

Regardless of the fact that we are not professionals, we like to improvise. I truly tried to keep track of the specific amounts of each ingredient we used, but no guarantees. Still, the recipe is quite easy and would taste good no matter what.

Greek Pasta Salad

1 minced garlic clove
2 tbls. olive oil
1 tbls. red wine vinegar
1 tbls. lemon juice
pinch dried oregano

8 oz. cooked penne pasta, cooled
2/3 cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered
½ cup cucumbers, peeled and diced
¼ cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup chopped kalamata olives
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup feta cheese crumbles


  1. Combine all of the ingredients for the vinaigrette in a small jar and shake to combine
  2. Mix the penne and the next 6 ingredients (through the feta cheese)
  3. Toss with the vinaigrette (add as much or as little as you would like)
  4. Add salt and pepper to taste

fish tacos…really?

Wow. I’m officially impressed with myself (and my family). We tried ANOTHER new recipe: Fish Tacos with Tomato and Orange Salsa from William Sonoma’s Essentials of Healthy Cooking cookbook. While I was flipping through cookbooks for inspiration yesterday afternoon, I came across this recipe. We were planning on grilling fish (every time I come home from school I have to have fish, because there is absolutely no way in the world I would ever eat the mystery fish from the dining hall), but I am slightly sick of the mango salsa we always turn to.

I originally just proposed making the tomato and orange salsa and not the actual tacos, but my mom actually said we should just make the whole shebang. That was a jaw-dropper. Maybe the pictures in the cookbook inspired her; she told me to scan them and use them for my blog.

The recipe was simple, fast, and very healthy. The hardest part was picking out the tiny, mostly invisible bones when I flaked the fish. The verdict? I’d say three out of four stars. Literally. My mom, my dad, and I all really liked them, but my brother essentially refrained from commenting. Still, I would make them again.

Fish Tacos with Tomato and Orange Salsa
From: William Sonoma’s Essentials of Healthy Cooking
Servings: 4 tacos
Notes: We double the recipe but had some left over. We also grilled the fish on the BBQ, and it turned out great.

½ lb.
salmon fillet (NOT farmed, of course)
kosher and freshly ground pepper
½ cup diced, peeled English (hothouse) cucumber
2 tbls. thinly sliced green (spring) onion
½-1 tsp. minced jalapeno chile, or to taste
½ tsp. grated orange zest
3 tbls. fresh lime juice

For the Tomato Orange Salsa

1 large naval orange
1 tomato
2 tbls. finely chopped fresh cilantro
½-1 teaspoon minced jalapeno chile, or to taste
½ tsp. grated orange zest
1 tbls. fresh lime juice
kosher salt

4 soft, fresh white-or yellow-corn tortillas
1 cup loosely packed thin-chiffonade-cut romaine lettuce, outer leaves only

Preheat the BROILER (GRILL), or preheat the OVEN to 425°F. Remove the skin from the salmon. Season the fish lightly on both sides with salt and pepper.

BY BROILER: Place the salmon on a broiler pan and slip it in the broiler about 3 inches from the heat source. Broil (grill), turning once, until the salmon is slightly translucent in the very center at the thickest part, about 4 minutes per side.

BY OVEN: Place the salmon in a baking pan in the oven and bake until slightly translucent in the very center at the thickest part, allowing slightly less than 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

Transfer the salmon to a plate and let cool to room temperature. (The fish will continue to cook away from the heat until opaque.) Flake into a large bowl, discarding any errant bones.

Add the cucumber, green onion, jalapeno, orange zest, and ¼ teaspoon salt to the fish. Sprinkle with the lime juice and toss lightly to combine.

To make the salsa, cut a thick slice off the top and the bottom of the orange to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange upright on a cutting board. Following the contour of the fruit and rotating it with each cut, slice downward to remove the peel, pith, and membrane. Holding the fruit over a bowl, cut along each side of the membrane between the sections, letting each freed section drop into the bowl. Cut the sections into bite-sized pieces and return them to the bowl.

Cut the tomato into ½ inch dice. Add the tomato, cilantro, jalapeno, orange zest, lime juice, and ½ teaspoon salt to the bowl holding the orange. Stir gently to combine.

To assemble the tacos, set each tortilla on a work surface. Place some lettuce on the tortilla, dividing it evenly. Add about ¼ cup of the salmon mixture to each tortilla, then top with 2 rounded tablespoons of the salsa. Fold or roll each tortilla, arrange on a platter and serve.

the first day

my lovely turkey burger with caramelized onions

Yesterday was officially my first day home. After a long drive and far too much heavy lifting (I honestly do not know how I fit so much STUFF in my dorm room), I was a mean child and convinced my mom that we needed to cook and not go out to dinner.

Randomly, I had a strong craving for a turkey burger, but after searching through all of our cookbooks as well as surfing the web, my mom and I could not find a basic recipe. Everyone seems to like turkey burgers with papaya salsa or soy sauce or some other untraditional burger flavoring. We wanted traditional.

My poor mom was about ready to just grill chicken, but we decided to create our own recipe instead. Pretty ambitious for the first night! As it turned out, they were the best turkey burgers I’ve ever had. My mom could not stop talking about them and even my brother (a ground beef type of guy) liked them. Our extra special touch? Caramelized onions.

Jessica and Nancy’s Turkey Burgers

*Note: We did not necessarily measure the ingredients exactly, but I honestly think guestimating might be the best option anyways.

1 lb. ground turkey (half white meat and half dark meat)
1/4 cup white onion, chopped
3 tbls. green onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tbls. ketchup
garlic powder

  1. Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl
  2. Shape the burgers into patties (we made three)
  3. Preheat the grill to medium high heat
  4. Grill about 5 minutes per side or until done and delicious

Caramelized Onions

1 purple onion, sliced
1 tbls. olive oil

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet
  2. Over medium high heat, sauté the onions until they are soft and limp (about 15 or 20 minutes, we kept them warm over low heat until we were ready to use them