Monthly Archives: August 2018

Lime-Miso Marinated Grilled Asparagus

Grilled veggies, you gotta love ’em. And if you don’t, maybe you need to try these delicious Lime-Miso Marinated Grilled Asparagus. A few months ago, the recipe was printed in the Sunday newspaper supplement Parade, and it caught my eye immediately. BTW, the ingredients list using 1/2 teaspoon of white miso, but we felt a full teaspoon was in order because we really enjoy the taste of the paste.

I thought it was a bit odd that the printed recipe said to use lemon zest, but didn’t include the amount, plus incorporate the juice of one lime. When it was time to write this blog, I Googled the recipe online and noted there it said to use the zest and juice of one lime, no lemons mentioned! Should have paid attention to my culinary instincts.


The grilled asparagus was part of a Grilled Rack of Lamb dinner that also included reheated leftover Twice-Baked Potatoes. Now mind you, rack of lamb is a rare treat for us due to the high cost, but our favorite supermarket happen to have it on sale so we snatched up the last rack. It was already seasoned necessitating all we had to do was sear and grill it for the recommended amount of time. Dinner done.



Lime-Miso Marinated Grilled Asparagus

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 tsp white miso paste
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • Zest and juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • (1-lb) bunch thick asparagus, trimmed
  • Flake sea salt 


  1. Combine first 6 ingredients in a shallow dish. Add asparagus. Toss to coat; let stand 20 minutes at room temperature.
  2. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  3. Thread asparagus evenly on 4 double-pronged skewers, leaving space in between to allow air to circulate; or toss in a shallow grill basket like we did.
  4. Grill 7-10 minutes over indirect heat, turning once, or until asparagus are tender and charred in spots. Sprinkle with flaky sea salt, if desired.

Genderless—but Literally “Bursting” with Flavor

Our potted grape tomato plant was teeming with ripe fruit and we wanted to use them in a more unique way than just adding to salads. The answer? My concoction Burst Grape Tomatoes with Eggplant and Whole Wheat Linguine. In the past, I’ve successfully roasted plum and heirloom varieties and thought the same could be done with this garden bonanza of little guys. If you don’t have any of your own, small tomatoes can now be found in any supermarket throughout the year—you could even buy different colors. Nothing equals fresh local tomatoes, right?


You should leave all tomatoes out at room temperature, but store-bought fruit especially benefit from a few days of ripening to deepen their flavor and bring out their sweetness. Keep in mind, these roasted tomatoes can be kept at room temperature for several hours, or for a day or two in advance and refrigerated until needed, which is what I did. Additionally, the eggplant slices can be salted in advance and stored  in a paper towel lined lock-n-lock up to one day ahead. Both great time savers when it’s time to throw the meal together.

The afternoon I planned on making this for dinner, I fell into a conversation with one of my pool pals regarding the gender of eggplants. She told me there are both male and female types, which I had never heard of before so I had to do some investigation. What I found out was that eggplants do not have a gender, but they are endowed with cross-pollinating male and female flowers on each plant. Even though we may  think of the eggplant as a vegetable, like the tomato, it is classified as a fruit. Fruit or veggie, eggplants are not male or female.

Two types of eggplant may develop on one plant, and that is likely the reason the myth of gender got started. One type has a roundish dimpled area at the blossom end, and the other type has a more oval-shaped dimpled area. The oval-dimpled eggplants are said to have more seeds and be less meaty than the roundish dimpled eggplants—that explanation was another detail forthcoming from my pool pal.

Now that the controversy is cleared up, the (politically correct “fluid” 🙂 ) eggplants do love hot weather and grow well where more tender, leafy vegetables may wilt. They like growing conditions similar to tomatoes; and both are from the same nightshade family of plants. So, in late August, they make a perfect pairing for the Burst Grape Tomatoes with Eggplant and Whole Wheat Linguine.

Gilbert’s Caprese Chicken Sausage was a great match for this recipe because they contain basil, sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella. I liked the fact that they contain no artificial ingredients, are minimally processed and the chickens are raised without antibiotics—and they taste great to boot. While shopping at Costco recently they were handing out samples, and after one bite, we snatched a package of 16 fully cooked, individually wrapped links.

Back to what incentivized this recipe in the first place. The roasted tomatoes are soooo friggin’ good, you could eat them alone with a spoon! And if you’re really in a hurry, forget all of the extras and just toss the roasted tomatoes with a cooked pasta of choice, a drizzle of really good EVOO, sprinkle in some chopped fresh basil and grated parm and call it a day. But I have to be honest, this dish was definitely “bursting” with flavor with all of the other ingredients. Hubby was very impressed!


Burst Grape Tomatoes with Eggplant and Whole Wheat Linguine

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: fairly easy
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  • 8-10 cups grape tomatoes (about 100 tomatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • Salt
  • 1 tsp. granulated sugar
  • 2 small eggplant, trimmed, cut into 1/4″ rounds
  • 4 links (10 ounces) chicken sausages such as Gilbert’s Caprese, cut in 1/2″ diagonal slices
  • 1 Tbsp. roasted garlic, or 3 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh basil, more garnish
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 1/2 pound whole wheat linguine, cooked
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp. herbed pesto (optional)
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, more for garnish


  1. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Rinse the grape tomatoes and put them, 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, a big pinch of salt, and the sugar in a large bowl and toss to coat the tomatoes well.
  2. Line a rimmed baking sheet with a piece of parchment paper and pour the tomatoes onto the baking sheet.
  3. Place them in the oven, and roast for 35 minutes, or until they collapse, or burst, and their skins begin to char.
  4. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and let them cool slightly. Carefully lift the paper and pour the tomatoes and all their roasting juices back into the bowl.
  5. Meanwhile, slice the eggplant, place on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet, salt one side and let sit 20 minutes, turn the slices and repeat. Wick away any extra moisture with paper towels. Cut down to 3/4″ cubes.
  6. Bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat for the pasta and cook according to directions for al dente.
  7. Heat another 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the roasted garlic and cubed eggplant and sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  8. Add the final tablespoon of olive oil and place the sausage slices in with the eggplant, cook for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. Add the white wine to deglaze the pan using a wooden spatula to loosen the brown bits, about 1 minute.
  10. Add the roasted tomatoes with their juices. Cover the pan to retain the moisture.
  11. Remove and reserve about 1/4 cup of the pasta cooking water, then drain the pasta.
  12. Add the pasta, about 1 tablespoon of the reserved cooking water, and the chopped basil to the tomato sauce. Stir and toss to thoroughly coat the spaghetti.
  13. Add a tablespoon or so of the remaining pasta water if the sauce is too dry or thick; drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  14. Stir in the grated parm (and herbed pesto if using) and gently toss to coat.
  15. Turn the pasta into a serving bowl or individual bowls and pass the cheese, if using, at the table.

Spiced Lamb Patties with Apricot Couscous. No Bun Necessary.

When I blogged on this Spiced Lamb Patties with Apricot Couscous recipe well over a year ago, I paired the meal with Green Beans with Tahini, which was a perfect accompaniment at the time. If you’ve followed our blog in the past, you may know that Russ and I are avid lamb fans, and so making this Middle Eastern-style meal again—this time with tri-colored pearl couscous and a side of spiced carrots and cauliflower—was not a hard choice to make.

IMG_6886The steamed cauliflower and carrots were seasoned with pinches of the same spices used in the lamb with a drizzle of honey.

Keep in mind, if you do use the pearl couscous variety, it does take longer to cook, so follow the package directions. Another change I made was forming only six patties as opposed to eight. This way we each enjoyed two for dinner, and one per person leftover with couscous for lunch the next day.

As I mentioned the first time around, a touch of plain yogurt in these lamb patties helps keep them wonderfully succulent, and a dollop of mint-flavored yogurt on the side balances their richness. But what I didn’t mention in the first blog, it’s not necessary to add as much oil to the pan as indicated because there’s enough fat in ground lamb to render most of what’s needed, although do include a small amount.

I adapted this from a recipe by Nadia Arumugam found on the Fine Cooking “Make It Tonight” series, and we like the meal enough to keep it in our weeknight repertoire. You might want to consider doubling the side of mint and yogurt as we did…


Spiced Lamb Patties with Apricot Couscous

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 2 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
  • 3-1/2 oz. dried apricots, cut into medium dice (about 1/2 cup)
  • Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-1/3 cups couscous, or pearl variety
  • 1-1/4 lb. ground lamb
  • 5 Tbs. plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 large cloves garlic, mashed to a paste with a pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh mint; more for garnish


  1. In a 3-quart saucepan, combine the chicken broth, apricots, 1/2 tsp. salt, and 1/4 tsp. of the cumin; bring to a boil over high heat.
  2. Stir in the couscous, remove from the heat, and cover. Let sit until all of the liquid has been absorbed, about 5 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the lamb, 1 Tbs. of the yogurt, the garlic, coriander, the remaining 3/4 tsp. of the cumin, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper. Mix by hand, taking care not to overwork the mixture.
  4. Shape into eight 1/2-inch-thick patties.
  5. Heat 2 Tbs. of the oil in a heavy-duty 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering hot. Add the patties and cook, flipping once, until browned on the outside and barely light pink in the center, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer the patties to a paper towel lined plate to suck up some of the oil.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the remaining 4 Tbs. yogurt and the mint.
  7. Fluff the couscous with a fork. Mix in the remaining 1 Tbs. oil and season with salt and pepper. Divide the couscous and patties among 4 plates. Add a dollop of the minted yogurt on the side and garnish with additional mint.

Another Flippin’ Marinade for Flap

I really can’t say enough about flap steak and the beefy flavor that goes with it. In a recent blog titled “Who Gives A Flap?”, we highlighted another version with a delicious Mojo Marinade and an accompaniment of Chimichurri Salsa. I’m often confused by people’s comments on how tough flap steak can be. Every time we’ve ever grilled it, it came out very tender. You just have to make sure you slice it against the grain.

grilled flap steaks

This blog features a super-easy, super-tasty bold combination of soy sauce, balsamic, and maple syrup that works its magic on the meat quickly, so it only needs to marinate for as long as it takes to get your grill fired up. But, we wanted a more pronounced flavor and let our meat get happy in the sauce for nearly seven hours. (Steaks can marinate anywhere from 15 minutes to eight hours.)


We hadn’t planned our Sunday evening meal ahead of time but knew we had some leftover flap steaks in the freezer. Out they came to thaw, prompting Russ to quickly Google a marinade and he found this one on If you prefer a tang as opposed to sweet (which normally we do), substitute Worcestershire sauce instead of maple syrup.

We decided to go ahead with the sweeter version this time around. Thanks to Wendy, a past coworker of mine, we used some pure Vermont maple syrup she gifted us, which I think makes a huge difference from the cheaper store-bought stuff.

One reviewer gave this tip: Make extra marinade, and after you take the steak out of it put it into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Then brush a few layers on the steak about halfway through grill time to the end. It’ll caramelize up and make a nice glaze.

And what goes better with steak than a good baked potato? How about a baked potato with avocado butter? We had some leftover from a recent dinner of Grilled Chili-Garlic Flank Steak with Avocado Butter, and the chef/author Ronne Day suggested using leftovers with chicken, fish or, yes, baked potatoes. Great idea!


In the end, although we liked this soy version, we both agreed that we preferred the Mojo Marinade’s flavor profile better. But everyone’s tastes are different, so go ahead and give them both a try.

Grilled Marinated Sirloin Flap Steaks

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: very easy
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  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 pounds sirloin flap steaks


  1. Blend soy sauce, vinegar, syrup, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a blender until smooth. Toss steaks with mixture. Marinate at room temperature about 15 minutes (or in refrigerator up to 8 hours.)
  2. Prepare a grill for direct-heat cooking over hot charcoal (high heat for gas); or a gas grill.
  3. Discard marinade and pat steaks as dry as possible.
  4. Oil grill rack, then grill steaks, covered only if using a gas grill, turning occasionally, 6 to 8 minutes total for medium-rare. Let rest on a plate, uncovered, 5-10 minutes.


IMG_6174Along with some leftover roasted Brussels sprouts and baked potatoes with avocado butter, our simple salads made of Bibb lettuce, heirloom tomato and avocado slices were a perfect side.

Moist Grilled Turkey Burgers

There’s probably nothing more synonymous with summer than a grilled hamburger, but I enjoy switching things up every now and again. So how about a grilled turkey burger for a change?

I hear you groaning… yes, often turkey burgers are dry and tasteless and leave you yearning for the real deal. Not these! Add in Italian turkey sausage to amp up the flavor—a trick often used with meatballs—and keep them incredibly juicy. The best part is that you can throw the patties together in a matter of minutes; only five ingredients and no chopping, slicing or dicing required—except for maybe the toppings.

Since turkey is such a lean meat and so susceptible to drying out, it’s important to pull them from the grill as soon as they reach their doneness temperature to avoid drying out the meat, although the sausage will help on this issue. Every degree counts when you’re grilling ground turkey. Keep in mind, ground turkey needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165° F. Use a meat thermometer to ensure accuracy.  The key to minimizing moisture loss and maximizing juiciness in burgers is through careful temperature tracking.

The unofficial end-of-the-summer holiday is fast approaching and this recipe would be perfect for those who no longer eat red meat or are trying to cut back—and they won’t feel deprived! What are you waiting for?


Moist Grilled Turkey Burgers

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1.3 lbs. ground turkey (93/7 lean)
  • 1 lb. Italian turkey sausage, casings removed if in links
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 6 whole wheat hamburger buns
  • 6-12 slices sharp cheddar cheese (optional)


  1. Remove the sausage meat from the casings if necessary.
  2. Place the sausage meat in a large bowl along with the ground turkey, pepper, Worcestershire sauce and Dijon mustard. Use your hand to mix together until well combined.
  3. Form the meat into 6 even patties about 3/4″ thick, weighing approximately 6 ounces each. Place on a foil-lined (or wax paper) baking sheet and cover until ready to cook.
  4. Preheat the grill (or grill pan) to high. Clean the grates then grease the grill with a folded paper towel dipped in vegetable oil. Using tongs, carefully rub over the grates several times until glossy and coated.
  5. Place the turkey burgers on the grill and cook for five minutes, covered, until nice grill marks form.
  6. Flip and continue to cook, covered, for 5+ minutes more. Grill for a total of about 10-12 minutes, flipping once. Use a meat thermometer to check for the 165° doneness temperature.
    Optional: During the last minutes of cooking, add 1-2 slices of cheese to each burger, cover the grill and let the cheese soften slightly, about 1 minute.
  7. Heat the buns on the grill if desiresd, assemble burgers and serve.


Shrimp, Chickpeas and Spinach with Ginger and Cumin

This savory dish has the essence of a long-cooked soup or stew, but luckily takes only a fraction of the time to make. Onion, garlic, ginger, cumin, cilantro, and a pinch of cayenne punch up the flavor. If you don’t have shellfish stock on hand, you can swap out and use chicken broth, homemade is always preferable.


Found on by a recipe from Joanne Smart, based on several of the reviewers comments who thought the dish was a bit bland as is, I made a few changes, most notably substituting homemade shellfish stock in place of the 1 1/2 cups water. My can of chickpeas was also larger at 19 ounces, I incorporated an entire lemon instead of a half, and I increased the amount of garlic, cumin and cayenne. And just because I felt like it, I used a full pound of shrimp as opposed to 3/4-pound. All of these “upgrades” are noted in the list below.

You may want to serve some crusty bread or pita pieces to mop up the tasty broth—I just used a spoon to capture all of the goodness. This is definitely a keeper, especially with the upgrades that I made. On top of tasting wonderful, it is chock full of healthy benefits and takes only about 25 minutes once prep is done. Bring it on!


Shrimp, Chickpeas and Spinach with Ginger and Cumin

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Kosher salt
  • 2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large lemon, cut into 6 wedges
  • 1 small onion (about 4 oz.), chopped
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • Large pinch cayenne
  • 1 19-oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 bunches mature spinach, well washed, stemmed, and coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups shellfish stock, preferably homemade (chicken broth can also be used)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro


  1. In a small bowl, toss the shrimp with 1/2 tsp. salt. Heat 1 Tbs. of the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until hot.
  2. Add the shrimp and cook until one side is pink, about 2 minutes. Turn the shrimp over and continue to cook until pink all over, still a bit translucent in the center, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Take the skillet off the heat and transfer the shrimp to a plate. Squeeze two of the lemon wedges over the shrimp.
  4. Put the skillet over medium heat. Pour the remaining 1 Tbs. oil into the skillet, then add the onion. Sprinkle with a big pinch of salt and cook until the edges of the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes.
  5. Add the ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute.
  6. Add the cumin and cayenne and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 20 seconds.
  7. Add 1-1/2 cups water, the chickpeas, and 1/2 tsp. salt. Simmer over medium-high heat for 5 minutes to develop the flavors.
  8. Using a potato masher, mash about half of the chickpeas right in the pan.
  9. Add the spinach and cilantro. Using tongs, carefully toss the greens to help them cook evenly and wilt, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add the reserved shrimp and any juices that have accumulated on the plate. Cook for another 1 or 2 minutes to reheat the shrimp and cook them fully (be careful not to overcook them).
  11. Season with salt to taste. Portion into warm bowls and serve with the remaining lemon wedges on the side.


A Polish Twist to an Italian Dish

I’m sure you’ve indulged in sausage, peppers and onions at some point in your life, right? Well, while recently shopping at Costco, we picked up some Polish sausage, figuring we could do a similar rendition of the Italian classic with an ethnic twist and it would make for an easy weeknight dinner.


Sausage and peppers is a dish in Italian-American cuisine prepared using Italian sausage and bell peppers as primary ingredients. It is served as a dish on its own, sometimes with the use of additional ingredients such as tomato sauce, onions and potatoes or pasta. You will often find it served at Italian street festivals.

As I gathered our ingredients, I was momentarily taken aback when I realized what we bought was Kiolbassa Smoked Beef Sausage, a product out of San Antonio, Texas. It’s an organic, 100% grass-fed family recipe hailing from, you guessed it, Mike Kiolbassa. Come to find out, it’s just another way of spelling what I knew as Kielbasa. You say “toe-may-toe” I say “ta-mah-toh”…

Not to be deterred, I went ahead with the plans, because to be honest, this one-skillet dish is as easy (and delicious) as a weeknight dinner gets. Having stayed all afternoon at the country-club pool chatting it up with the gal pals, I didn’t have much time to fuss over making dinner once I got home. (Yes, I know, retirement’s tough.)

A staple of Polish cuisine, Kielbasa comes in dozens of varieties, be it smoked or fresh, made with beef, turkey, lamb, chicken, pork or veal—with every region having its own speciality. My mom’s Polish family made their own, so growing up, even though I was an extremely picky eater, I always remember liking Kielbasa.

All ingredients are chopped to bite-sized pieces so the prep takes mere minutes, while the actual cooking takes a bit longer because you have to sauté in steps, starting with the sausage, then the potatoes, next is peppers and onions, and finally everything together. The finale of a generous splash of vinegar brightens the entire dish, while if you’re so inclined, a pinch of red pepper flakes provides a bit of heat. And of course, the chopped chives for a pop of green.

…It’s great as leftovers too…


Polish Sausage, Peppers and Onions

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • Tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 4 Polish sausage links, such as Kiolbassa, cut diagonally into 1″” slices
  • lb. small baby potatoes, any color(s), halved
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • bell peppers, preferably 2 different colors, roughly 1″ chop
  • large red onion, roughly 1″ chop
  • 1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped, as garnish
  • Pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/3 cup water


  1. Set a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. After it gets good and hot, add the olive oil, then the sausage pieces. Brown all over—about 2 minutes per side—then remove to a waiting plate.
  2. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet, followed by the potatoes, cut side facing down. Season with a big pinch of salt. Cook these for 5 minutes until browned, then flip and cook another 5 minutes. Transfer these to the plate with the sausage.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon olive oil, then the peppers and onion. Season with a big pinch of salt and red pepper flakes. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until tender—about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the sausage slices and potatoes back to the skillet. Pour 1/3 cup water evenly over the top and cover the pan with a lid.
  5. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes until the sausage is cooked through and the potatoes are tender, lifting the lid for the last few minutes. remove from heat and add a splash of red wine vinegar and a the chopped chives.

Healthy Tex-Mex Grain Bowl

Found on Epicurious, this Tex-Mex-inspired Grain Bowl with Grilled Corn, Steak and Avocado can be assembled in just 10 minutes. The key to a quick meal here is to prep over the weekend and store the elements in the refrigerator. It’s a great, healthy dish, but don’t think of making this without the creamy jalapeño sauce—that is key. If you don’t have a grill for the corn, you can roast it in the oven.

The farro (our grain of choice) and corn mixture could be a meal in itself, it is so good! But then combine it with the steak, corn, avocado and jalapeño sauce, and WOW all of the textures and flavors fuse together in a well-orchestrated dance on your palette. Keep in mind, grilling the corn will take longer than the steak, so plan accordingly. In fact, my cobs took 50% longer than the recipe called for, 15 minutes as opposed to 10, so I indicated that in the directions.


About that sauce, this version is full of fresh jalapeño heat and bright lime, emulsified using only neutral vegetable oil. You might think 5-6 jalapeños is going to be off-the-charts spicy, but it’s really not. The spicy condiment is ubiquitous at Tex-Mex restaurants and taco trucks all over Texas. Most people, including myself, are shocked when they learn the light green, creamy sauce is made without avocado or dairy. Any leftovers would be great with nacho chips, grilled chicken or as a sandwich spread.


Grain Bowl with Grilled Corn, Steak and Avocado

  • Servings: 1 1/4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
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  • 1 lb. skirt or flank steak
  • 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper, plus more
  • 3 large or 4 small ears of corn, shucked
  • 2 cups cooked whole grains, such as quinoa, farro, rice, or barley
  • 3 oz. crumbled feta or Cotija cheese (about 1/2 cup)
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1 avocado, peeled, thinly sliced
  • Creamy Jalapeño Sauce, see recipe below (for serving)


  1. Season steak with 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. pepper. Let sit at room temperature 30 minutes.
  2. Prepare a grill for medium-high heat or heat grill pan over medium-high. Grill steak, turning occasionally, until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of steak registers 120–125°F for medium-rare (2–3 minutes per side for skirt; 3–4 minutes per side for flank). Transfer to a cutting board and let rest at least 10 minutes or until cool.
  3. Meanwhile, grill corn until charred on all sides, about 10-15 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool.
  4. Slice corn off cobs into a large bowl. Add grains, feta, scallions, oil, lime juice, and 1/2 tsp. salt and stir to combine. Divide corn mixture among bowls.
  5. Thinly slice steak against the grain (to make slicing easier for skirt steak, cut into 5″–6″ segments, then slice against the grain).
  6. Top bowls with steak and avocado. Drizzle jalapeño sauce over; season with salt and pepper.

Do Ahead: Steak and corn can be grilled 3 days ahead. Transfer to separate airtight containers and chill.

Creamy Jalapeño Sauce


Creamy Jalapeño Sauce

  • Servings: 1 1/4 cups
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 5-6 jalapeños (depending on heat and personal preference), stemmed, seeded, coarsely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 2 whole limes)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup neutral vegetable oil (such as grapeseed)
  • 3/4 cup (packed) fresh cilantro leaves with tender stems


  1. Pulse jalapeños, garlic, lime juice, and salt in a blender or food processor until puréed. With motor running, slowly drizzle in oil until a thick sauce forms.
  2. Add cilantro and pulse a few times until chopped and incorporated. Taste and add more jalapeño, if necessary.

Do Ahead: Sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance and refrigerated.


Watercress Salad with Steak, Sautéed Shallots & Stilton

Delicious, simple, sophisticated and very easy to throw together with it’s short list of ingredients. This salad is heavier on greens than on steak, making it a light but filling meal. With only one steak to be divvied up between 2-4 people, make sure you buy a top-notch thick ribeye. Often the crown jewel of the steakhouse menu, a well-prepared ribeye steak is a beautiful thing.

The ribeye’s high-fat content offers generous marbling, and therefore, the meat has more moisture to cook with. Where the flavor comes from in a good piece of meat is from the fat, and no other cut of meat has the amount of fat that a ribeye does. So unless you are a “fat-o-phobe” this Watercress Salad with Steak, Sautéed Shallots & Stilton recipe could be your next “save-the-day” weeknight meal.


You may see ribeye referred to in several ways, like ribeye or rib eye and rib steak. Don’t get too hung up on the names; the ribeye has many but they all generally refer to the same cut. The cut is from the rib roast, which usually includes rib bone. But, to become a ribeye cut, the bone is usually removed before cooking, leaving the tender, flavorful part to enjoy.

First, regardless of technique being used, pull your ribeye out of the refrigerator and let it sit out for fifteen minutes. Then after cooking, once your desired temperature is achieved (130–135º for medium rare, 135–140º for medium), let the steak rest ten minutes before you cut into it as this allows the meat to retain the juices and prevents drying out the meat.

This type of salad I usually reserve for warmer weather, but we’ve also served it on cool temperature days, so it can be part of your weeknight dinner rotation in the early Spring or even mid-Autumn—I like that flexibility.


Watercress Salad with Steak, Sautéed Shallots and Stilton

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • Kosher salt
  • 14- to 16-oz. ribeye (1-inch thick)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large shallots, sliced 1/4 inch thick (about 1-1/2 cups)
  • 6 cups (lightly packed) small watercress sprigs (about 2 bunches trimmed of lower stems), torn into bite-size pieces
  • 2 oz. Stilton, crumbled (about 1/2 cup)


  1. In a small bowl, whisk 2 Tbs. of the olive oil, the lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, and a generous pinch of salt. Season both sides of the steak with 1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. pepper.
  2. In a 10-inch straight-sided sauté pan, heat the remaining 1 Tbs. oil over medium-high heat until hot. Cook the steak, without disturbing, swirling the oil in the pan occasionally, until the bottom of the steak is deeply browned, about 5 minutes.
  3. Flip and cook until the other side is nicely browned, about 3 minutes more. Transfer the steak to a cutting board.
  4. Turn the heat to low and cook the shallots, stirring frequently, until softened and lightly browned, 5 to 8 minutes. (Use a spatula or spoon to break apart the shallot slices and to incorporate some of the browned bits from the pan.) Remove from the heat and let cool slightly.
  5. Slice the beef thinly. Fan an equal number of slices on each dinner plate. Rewhisk the dressing if necessary.
  6. In a large bowl, toss the shallots, watercress, and Stilton with a generous pinch of salt and just enough of the dressing to coat.
  7. Season with more salt and pepper and arrange the salad over the beef slices.


Adapted by a recipe by Susie Middleton from Fine Cooking

Perfect for Picnic or Potluck

With all sorts of produce in abundance this time of year, shake things up a bit with a combination twist and make Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Niçoise Olives. It’s not only eye-catching in color, it makes a great accompaniment for steak, pork, chicken or fish.


Niçoise olives are a small French variety of black olive with a rich, briny flavor. If you can’t find them, use Kalamata or other cured black pitted olives instead. As a substitute for cherry tomatoes, use grape tomatoes.

Because you can serve this at room temperature, it’s a great addition to a picnic or potluck—but you may want to double or even triple the recipe in that case.


Green Beans with Cherry Tomatoes and Niçoise Olives

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup halved cherry (or grape) tomatoes
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 Tbs. minced shallots
  • 1/2 cup pitted, chopped Niçoise olives
  • 1/2 tsp. finely chopped fresh thyme
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper


  1. Bring a medium pot of well-salted water to a boil over high heat and cook the green beans until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes; drain and cool under cold running water.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the beans with the cherry tomatoes.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the olive oil, vinegar, and shallots.
  4. Stir in the olives, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Toss the vegetables with the vinaigrette, adjust the seasonings, and serve.

Recipe adapted from Maria Helm Sinskey from Fine Cooking

Have a Bit of Halibut

I’m sure if you’ve recently tried to buy halibut, or ordered it at a restaurant, you’re aware of how pricey said fish can be. So when we saw it at our local fishmarket for a third off, we didn’t hesitate to pick some up. And, as luck would have it, just before grocery shopping, I remembered our TrueFire Gourmet wraps gifted to us from our West-Coast-Brother-In-Law, David. Inside the packaging were a few recipes, one of which featured this Mediterranean Cedar-Wrapped Halibut recipe.


These wraps are available at many local grocers and seafood markets or directly from their website where you’ll also find additional recipes, videos and products. TrueFire Gourmet® cedar planks, wraps and roasters help you deliver impeccable food whether you grill, bake or steam. The company is based out of San Diego and uses wood from sustainable resources.

Strangely, directions indicate to preheat the oven to 365°, a very uncommon temperature in the U.S. to be sure. However, never having used these wraps before, I wanted to follow the instructions on the first go around. While we’ve grilled salmon on cedar planks in the past, we’ve never cooked with the wraps—which are a great alternative if you don’t like to grill (what?) or live in an area where you cannot grill all year long.

Now it was grilling season here in the Northeast U.S., but it was over-the-top hot and humid with the feel-like temps registering over 100° and the thought of being outside on this particular evening was unappealing, to say the least. It was much more palatable to be in the air conditioned house preparing a dinner that took barely 25 minutes (or so I thought) total time to prep and cook.

The firm white meat of halibut steaks and the mild flavor makes this a great fish for any recipe calling for whitefish. The main thing to remember when cooking halibut is that it will dry out on you fast, because it contains very little oil. And if that happened, you’d want to kick yourself at those prices! So these wraps with a marinade are a perfect solution to help retain the moisture.

Before you start to cook your halibut make sure to wash it thoroughly under cold water and pat dry with a paper towel. One of the handiest kitchen tools you can have is a cooking thermometer, this takes all the guess work out of cooking halibut. You want the fish to have an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

The bottom line: Despite the fact that the directions indicate the fish will reach the desired temperature in 10 minutes time, ours took nearly 25 minutes!! (So you may want to cook in a hotter 400° oven.) Wrapping the fish and marinade in the soaked wraps is tricky to say the least. Plus, with all of the mediterranean garnishes, one could barely decipher the taste of the cedar wrap, although it was a novel presentation and the taste was very good.


Mediterranean Cedar-Wrapped Halibut

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 4, 6-oz. halibut fillets
  • 4 cedar wraps, soaked
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 tsp. dijon mustard
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 oz. light feta cheese
  • 3 Tbsp. light olive oil
  • Lemon wedges for garnish


  1. Preheat oven to 365° and soak wraps for 5 minutes. (I soaked the twine also.)
  2. Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  3. Place each fillet in the center of the moist wrap and top with marinade, splitting amount evenly over each portion.
  4. Roll the wrap around fillet. Tie with butcher string or scallions.
  5. Place wraps on a cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes or until fish is opaque in color. (Check temp with a cooking thermometer. The fish should register 145°—ours took nearly 25 minutes.)
  6. Serve partially opened on plates for gourmet presentation with a lemon wedge.

Great Summer Salad!

This main course Grilled Steak Salad with Pineapple-Ginger Dressing has it all: tender greens, crisp peppery radishes, sweet succulent pineapple, beefy steak, and a bright, fresh dressing that packs a bit of heat, too. What a perfect choice for a warm summer evening dining al fresco. And to satisfy any vegetarians, just swap out the steak for grilled portobello mushrooms.

For a great time-saver, look for peeled and cut fresh pineapple in the produce section of your supermarket. I bought a whole pineapple so that I could slice it down and have a lot extra for morning fruit smoothies. Those small 6-ounce cans of pineapple juice are almost perfect—just suck down that last ounce.


Another step-saver? To avoid having to scoop out the cucumber seeds, buy a seedless variety. For just the two of us, one head of Bibb lettuce and all of the rest of the ingredients made two good-sized salads with some dressing and steak leftover. So keep that in mind if intending to feed more diners…


Grilled Steak Salad with Pineapple-Ginger Dressing

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


For the dressing:

  • 5 Tbs. pineapple juice
  • 1 Tbs. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbs. peanut oil
  • 1 Tbs. Asian sesame oil
  • 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 tsp. honey
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • Large pinch crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup small-diced fresh pineapple
  • 1 Tbs. finely chopped fresh cilantro

For the steak:

  • 1 lb. flank steak
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. vegetable oil; more for the grill
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salad:

  • 6 oz. torn butter lettuce (use 2 heads for 4 people)
  • 1 medium cucumber, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 3 radishes, thinly sliced
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion (both white and light-green parts)


  • Heat a gas grill to medium high.

Make the dressing:

  • In a small bowl, whisk the pineapple juice, soy sauce, peanut oil, sesame oil, lime juice, honey, ginger, garlic, and pepper flakes to blend. Stir in the pineapple and cilantro.

Cook the steak:

  • Rub the steak with the oil and season with 1 tsp. each salt and pepper. Clean and oil the grill grates. Grill the steak, covered, until it has nice grill marks on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and reduce the heat to medium.
  • Cook, covered, until done to your liking, an additional 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Assemble the salad:

  • In a large bowl, toss the lettuce, cucumber, and radishes with about half of the dressing. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Divide among 2-4 large plates.
  • Thinly slice the steak at an angle across the grain and drape it over the greens.
  • Drizzle some of the remaining dressing over the beef, sprinkle with the scallions, and serve.

Adapted from a recipe by Maryellen Driscoll from Fine Cooking



Versatile Poached Chicken

Over two years ago I blogged on Clean-Out-the-Fridge Frittata to urge you to utilize leftovers in a creative way without throwing them in the trash (of course, composting is another option.) Sunday mornings are a perfect time for this process. But just as inventive, and maybe even healthier, is a clean-out-the fridge dinner salad, with in this case, a poached chicken breast (see how below.) 


In poaching, you get to use some of your fresh herbs—a snip here, a snip there, for instant aromatic flavor. Or in the spirit of cleaning out the fridge, maybe you are harboring some leftover herbs? Depending on the size of your garden, you may also be able to harvest some of the veggies such as tomatoes and cucumbers. You get the idea, whatever is on hand is the point.

For the salad base, use any extra produce you accumulate throughout the week; for us this time it was a variety of lettuces, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, cauliflower, carrots, and half an avocado. Other times it’s been bell peppers, celery, radishes, cabbage—the list goes on and on… Not to mention leftover cheese, olives, nuts…

We’re also pretty adamant about formulating our own salad dressings. This avoids the excessive calories and processed ingredients of store-bought varieties. You might want to invest in something like shown below (available from Amazon for less than $12), a very compact mixer with just the right capacity so you will not have to deal with a huge blender. All you have to do is add your oil, vinegar and seasonings, turn the handle and make your dressing within seconds!


Follow the simple set of steps below to make your poached chicken breast, prep your other ingredients, and voila, a healthy dinner salad with a minimum of cooking. Not into a vegetable salad per se? How about combining with mayo, onion and celery and make chicken salad spread for a sandwich… or use in chicken tacos… soup anyone?

Your welcome.

*TIP: Strain and reserve the broth. Pour into silicone ice cube trays, freeze and then package into ziplocs. Take out as needed for use in sauces, soups, or other recipes.

Easy Poached Chicken Salad

  • Servings: serves 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 large, or 2 small boneless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 small unpeeled onion, root end left intact, quartered
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • Sprigs of fresh herbs such as sage, thyme, rosemary, and/or parsley
  • 1 teaspoon peppercorns
  • chicken broth, enough to just cover chicken about 1/2 way
  • Lettuces and whatever else you have on hand to create a dinner salad
  • Choice of dressing


  1. Place chicken, herbs, peppercorn, garlic, onion and bay leaf in a small, shallow pan.
  2. Pour in enough broth to cover chicken about 1/2 way.
  3. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.
  4. If your breast is large, flip the chicken over and simmer, uncovered for another 5 minutes.
  5. Turn off heat, cover and allow to rest for 15 minutes.
  6. Remove meat to cutting board, slice or shred chicken. *Reserve broth for use in future recipes.
  7. Assemble salad with on-hand ingredients, and top with poached chicken.

Sirloin Tip Steak Sauté with Leeks and Asparagus

Another easy, peasy but tasty dinner for those harboring a love affair with red meat should try Sirloin Tip Steak Sauté with Leeks and Asparagus. For some reason, sirloin tips are not abundant in our locale, so if you encounter a similar difficulty in finding them, just use a regular whole sirloin or flap meat strips (although flap may be as difficult to find), it gets sliced down toward the end anyway.

FYI, steak tips can come from two areas of the cow. One kind comes from tender, expensive cuts in the middle of the cow, such as the tenderloin. These tips are a superior cut but not considered to be a true steak tip, which should be a more pedestrian cut that is magically transformed into a desirable dish through marinating and/or cooking, such as here.

If the steak tips at your market cost upwards of $15 or more per pound, the meat likely comes from the tenderloin. Hey, if money is no object for you, this may be the way to go! However, true steak tips come from various muscles in the sirloin and round and cost somewhere in the neighborhood of $6-7 per pound.

For seasonings, a splash of cream adds rich flavor to this simple sauté, while lemon zest enhances the leeks and asparagus. One reviewer noted that he added a heaping teaspoon of coarse ground mustard to the sauce which added some texture and a pleasant piquancy. I might try that next time, although we thought the finished dish was fine as it was.

The two organic leeks that I bought were quite large and when sliced down amounted to around 5-6 cups as opposed to two, which suited us just fine, and actually made a substitute for a side of egg noodles (which we didn’t make.) Our opinion was that it was filling enough without the addition of a starch, but it would certainly stretch the meal if you included egg noodles.


Sirloin Tip Steak Sauté with Leeks and Asparagus

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1-1/2 lb. sirloin tip steaks (about 4)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2-1/4 oz. (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 oz. (2 Tbs.) unsalted butter
  • 2 large leeks (white and light-green parts only), trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth, homemade prefered
  • 8-12 oz. asparagus, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces on a sharp diagonal
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp. finely grated lemon zest
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. thinly sliced fresh chives


  1. Pat the beef dry with paper towels and season on all sides with 1-1/2 tsp. salt and 1 tsp. black pepper. Dredge the beef in the flour, shaking off the excess.
  2. Heat the oil and 1 Tbs. of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat until the butter melts and the foam subsides.
  3. Add the steaks and cook, turning once, until browned, 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board.
  4. Add the remaining 1 Tbs. butter and the leeks to the skillet. Season lightly with salt and cook, stirring often, until softened and browned in spots, about 3 minutes.
  5. Raise the heat to high, add the wine, and cook, scraping the bottom of the pot with a wooden spatula to release any browned bits, until almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes.
  6. Add the broth and boil until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes more.
  7. Meanwhile, cut the beef crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices.
  8. Add the asparagus to the skillet and return the sauce to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and cook, stirring often, until the asparagus is just tender, about 3 minutes.
  9. Add the cream and beef to the pan. Cook, stirring, until the beef is just pink and heated through and the sauce thickens slightly, 2 minutes.
  10. Remove from the heat, stir in the zest, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve alone or over cooked egg noodles and garnish with the chives.

By Tony Rosenfeld from Fine Cooking

In a Pinch: Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce

With no dinner plans, and the lack of desire to do a full-on grocery store shopping, we removed a beautiful tuna steak from the freezer and then made a quick trip to the local farm nursery. There we selected freshly picked corn on the cob, a few heirloom tomatoes and an ripe avocado. Easy enough, right?

IMG_6625Make a side salad of sliced heirloom tomatoes on a bed of baby arugula and a few slices of a ripe avocado dressed with Avocado Ranch Dressing, yum!

Yet something else was needed to dress up that tuna steak and I knew we had just the right ingredients on hand to do so. You’re also likely to have most of what’s needed to throw this Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce together in a pinch. It has a bright zingy flavor that pairs perfectly with grilled tuna (swordfish steaks would be a no-brainer substitute.) Any leftover sauce would be great to mix with canned tuna and used as a spread, or mix into a pasta salad.


If you’re squeamish about anchovies, no need to worry because they are well blended into the other ingredients. Plus, hiding in the fish’s tiny briny glory are vitamins A, B-6, B-12, C, E, and K, omega-3 fatty acids, calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, iron, and niacin, to name a few. They’re one of the most sustainable fish out there, resilient to fishing pressures with a quick reproductive cycle.

Now the big question: salt-packed or oil-packed? Oil-packed anchovies are just the filets; salt-packed anchovies are everything but the heads and tails—scales, fins, and bones are left intact and softened during the process. Salt-packed anchovies are prized by anchovy lovers for their blast of pristine fishy flavor, while oil-packed versions are slightly more subtle, though easier to eat. The salt- and oil-packed anchovies perform similarly in most uses, though the salt-packed version has a nice extra punch when eaten raw. As for anchovy paste, skip it altogether.


On a side note, I have to give a shout-out to this Chipotle Parmesan corn-on-the-cob seasoning blend. All you have to do is shake it onto a hot ear of corn smothered in butter, or mix right into some melted butter first, then baste onto the corn. I bet it would be darn right tasty on popcorn and baked potatoes too!


Caper, Anchovy, Mustard Sauce

  • Servings: about 1/2 cup
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print


  • 1 teaspoon roasted garlic paste, or 1 clove coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 anchovies
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • Salt and pepper
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • A few pinches chopped snipped chives for garnish


  1. Drop the first 5 ingredients in a small food processor and pulse until well blended.
  2. Add a few pinches of salt, lemon zest, and a teaspoon of lemon juice, and pulse to combine.
  3. Scrape the spread into a bowl, stir in the capers, and season it to taste with pepper.
  4. Spoon the mixture over grilled tuna or other seafood steaks and add a pinch of fresh chopped chives.