Spinach Salad with Steak & Blueberries


Blueberries are in season and they're on sale so I've been buying a lot of them. I usually freeze them for smoothies but also love them in savory dishes.

This was really scrumptious and a recipe I'll be making again for as long as the berries last. I think this dressing would also work with grilled chicken.

Spinach Salad with Steak & Blueberries

From EatingWell: July/August 2010

Combine steak, walnuts, blueberries and feta cheese in this simple salad and you have yourself a healthy and satisfying supper. Serve with grilled baguette and a glass of rosé.

Makes 4 servings, about 2 cups each | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 30 minutes

1 cup fresh blueberries, divided
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
3 tablespoons fruity vinegar, such as raspberry vinegar
1 tablespoon minced shallot
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
3 tablespoons walnut oil or canola oil
1 pound sirloin steak or strip steak (1-1 1/4 inches thick), trimmed
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
8 cups baby spinach
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat grill to medium.
Pulse 1/4 cup blueberries, 1/4 cup walnuts, vinegar, shallot, sugar and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a food processor to form a chunky paste. With the motor running, add oil until incorporated. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl.
Sprinkle steak with pepper and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Oil the grill rack. Grill the steak about 5 minutes per side for medium-rare, 6 minutes per side for medium. Let rest on a clean cutting board for 5 minutes.
Add spinach to the bowl with the dressing; toss to coat. Divide the spinach among 4 plates. Thinly slice the steak crosswise. Top the spinach with the steak, feta and the remaining blueberries and walnuts.

Per serving : 392 Calories; 26 g Fat; 5 g Sat; 7 g Mono; 50 mg Cholesterol; 11 g Carbohydrates; 29 g Protein; 3 g Fiber; 494 mg Sodium; 748 mg Potassium

Thai Green Papaya Salad


I was first introduced to this salad about 20 years ago by a Thai friend. I was battling a bad sinus infection and she insisted her papaya salad would give me relief. I heard "papaya" and "salad" and assumed the Vitamin C would be the cure. Um no it was the handful of chile peppers. Sinus infection was gone that day. I'll spare you the details.

She made it quite a bit and when she couldn't get green papaya she would use shredded carrot.

This is one of my favorite Thai dishes of all time. I did cut back on the chiles from her handful. Dried shrimp are found in the refrigerated section of my Asian grocery. They also had bags of shredded green papaya in the produce section. I pounded the dressing in my giant mortar and pestle and added the papaya because that's how she did it.

You can definitely add to this. I suggest green onions, peanuts, carrot, radish or green beans.

Green Papaya Salad

Gourmet  | May 2000

1 tablespoon dried shrimp
6 Thai chiles
4 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons asian fish sauce
4 tablespoons palm or brown sugar
1 pound grated green papaya

Crush the dried shrimp with the chiles and garlic cloves, then whisk in the lime juice, fish sauce and the sugar. Toss the dressing with the papaya and serve.

Product Review: Buitoni's Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli



The good folks at Buitoni sent me a coupon for one of their free premium frozen meals for two.

I really wanted to try the Chicken and Spinach Cannelloni but my store didn't carry it so I selected the Shrimp and Lobster Ravioli. I thought it was a bit pricy at $8.99 but I don't usually buy frozen meals and Buitoni is higher quality than say Stouffers. I talked to some friends and they didn't think the price point was out of line. And because I cook and don't use convenience food I may be over critical. Part of me says I could put the $8.99 towards ingredients and get a few meals. But these are all about convenience.

This was easy to prepare. Just boil the bag of sauce with the ravioli's and serve. I added the red pepper flakes for color and punch.

The ravioli was very good. The garlic butter sauce not so much. I tasted more salt than garlic and thought it was a bit one note. If the ravioli were sold separately I would definitely buy it and make my own sauce.

I still want to try the cannelloni if I find them on sale.

Serious Vanilla Ice Cream


My 3 year old nephew came to visit and he has a serious sweet tooth so I thought it was a good time to try Alton Brown's Serious Vanilla Ice Cream.

And serious it is! Very vanilla-y which I love! It also keeps well. Seems like a lot of homemade ice creams turn rock hard or to leather. This one did not. I think that's why Alton added the peach preserves-to use the pectin as a stabilizer. It doesn't add any peach flavor.

Recipe HERE. The fudge sauce is from a jar.

Grilled Fish Tacos with Mexican Street Corn


This isn't a great picture of a fantastic dinner. I LOVE fish tacos and have made a few variations but this recipe is by far my favorite! I didn't add the taco garnishes the recipe suggested. We just stuck to the slaw and it was perfect. If I were to add anything it would be avocado. 

 Grilled Fish Tacos

The recipe is courtesy of Eating Well May/June 2010

6 servings, 2 tacos each | Active Time: 30 minutes | Total Time: 50 minutes


Adobo-Rubbed Fish

  • 4 teaspoons chili powder, preferably made with New Mexico or ancho chiles. (I used Penzeys Med-Hot)
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2 pounds mahi-mahi or Pacific halibut 1/2-3/4 inch thick, skinned and cut into 4 portions(I used mahi)

Coleslaw(can be made up to 4 hours ahead)

  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 cups finely shredded red or green cabbage
  • 12 corn tortillas, warmed (see Tip)


  1. To prepare fish: Combine chili powder, lime juice, oil, cumin, onion powder, garlic power, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub adobo rub all over fish. Let stand 20 to 30 minutes for the fish to absorb the flavor.
  2. To prepare coleslaw: Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, cilantro, lime zest, lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper in a medium bowl; mix until smooth and creamy. Add cabbage and toss to combine. Refrigerate until ready to use.
  3. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  4. Oil the grill rack or use a grilling basket. Grill the fish until it is cooked through and easily flakes with a fork, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to a platter and separate into large chunks.
  5. Serve the tacos family-style by passing the fish, tortillas, coleslaw and taco garnishes separately.


Per serving : 319 Calories; 9 g Fat; 2 g Sat; 5 g Mono; 110 mg Cholesterol; 29 g Carbohydrates; 31 g Protein; 5 g Fiber; 702 mg Sodium; 824 mg Potassium
1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving

Mexican Street Corn is also great although not necessarily easy on the waistline. I love grilled corn on the cob when it's slightly charred and although a mayo topping may sound weird it's actually quite good! There are a lot of recipes out there and one of my favorites comes from America's Test Kitchen. I'm not going to link to it or give the recipe here because they're jerks about that. Read THIS if you want more info. It's quite entertaining. But if you do a search for the recipe you can find it.

I did NOT use that recipe for tonight's street corn. Instead I wanted to experiment with my new Penzey's spice blend, Arizona Dreaming. I like this blend. It's not too hot and has a smoky flavor with a hit of citrus. We liked it on the corn. I simply mixed it into a quarter cup of mayo to taste. I also added about a tablespoon of sour cream for tang, chopped cilantro and some crumbled queso fresco. It was as good as the ATK recipe.


Piri-Piri Chicken with Creamy Cilantro-Lime Slaw



My first experience with Piri-Piri was THIS recipe from Marcus Samuelsson's The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa. Back then I said I wanted to make this a lot. And then I didn't... So when I saw Steve Raichlen's recipe for Piri-Piri Chicken in the July 2010 issue of Bon Appetit I got all excited!. His recipe calls for bottled Piri-Piri but it's so easy to make yourself I recommend doing exactly that. Samuelsson's recipe makes a cup which is more than you'll need so you can make the shrimp later in the week. 

The chicken was more tangy than spicy which surprised me considering the marinade had eight red bird chiles. It was very good and we will definitely make it again.

The slaw is dead easy. I thought it would be cool after the chicken but that one tiny pepper gave it some kick. I used a bagged slaw instead of shredding cabbage because I'm lazy like that. 

Piri-Piri Chicken

Bon Appétit  | July 2010 

by Steven Raichlen, Francine Maroukian, and the Bon Appétit Test Kitchen
Piri-piri chicken is a spicy dish with roots in both Africa and Portugal. The dish was created in Angola and Mozambique when Portuguese settlers arrived with chile peppers (known as piri-piri in Swahili). Timing note: The chicken needs to marinate for at least four hours before being grilled.
Yield: Makes 2 to 4 servings

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons piri-piri sauce or other hot pepper sauce

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled, thinly sliced

1 large shallot, peeled, quartered

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 cup piri-piri sauce or other hot pepper sauce

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for brushing

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, backbone removed, opened flat

1 11 3/4 x 8 1/2 x 1 1/4-inch disposable aluminum baking pan (to catch drips)

Ingredient info: Bottled piri-piri sauce is available at specialty foods stores and online from africantradingco.com. Choose the heat level that suits you, keeping in mind that the mild version still has a nice kick to it

For glaze: Melt butter in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add cilantro and garlic; cook until garlic begins to brown, about 2 minutes. Add piri-piri sauce and lemon juice. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer 2 minutes. DO AHEAD: Glaze can be made up to 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before using.

For chicken:
Finely chop cilantro, ginger, shallot, and garlic in processor. Add piri-piri sauce, 1/4 cup oil, lemon juice, coarse salt, and pepper; process marinade to blend.
Place chicken, skin side up, on work surface. Using palm of hand, press on breastbone to flatten chicken. Tuck wing tips under. Pour half of marinade into 11x7x2-inch glass baking dish. Open chicken like book; place skin side down in single layer in dish. Pour remaining marinade over. Cover; chill at least 4 hours or overnight, turning chicken occasionally. 

Remove top rack from barbecue. Prepare barbecue (medium heat). If using 2-burner gas grill, light 1 burner. If using 3-burner gas grill, do not light center burner. If using charcoal grill, light briquettes in chimney and pour onto 1 side of lower grill rack. Place disposable aluminum pan on unlit part of grill. Place upper grill rack on barbecue; brush with oil.

Remove chicken from marinade. Arrange skin side up on grill rack above drip pan. Cover barbecue; grill until skin is browned and instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 165°F, turning often, about 40 minutes. Transfer to platter. Pour warm glaze over. 

Creamy Cilantro-Lime Slaw

Bon Appétit  | July 2010
by Rick Rodgers

The slaw would be perfect with grilled pork or lamb, or use it as a topping for fish tacos.
Yield: Makes 6 to 8 servings

1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream

3 tablespoons (or more) fresh lime juice

1 1/2 teaspoons finely grated lime peel

1 serrano chile, seeded, minced

2 garlic cloves, pressed

1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

8 cups thinly sliced green cabbage

4 green onions, minced (about 1/4 cup)

Whisk mayonnaise, sour cream, 3 tablespoons lime juice, lime peel, chile, and garlic in large bowl. Stir in cilantro. Add cabbage and green onions; toss to incorporate evenly. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and chill 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep chilled.
Season slaw with more lime juice, salt, and pepper, if desired, just before serving.

Crispy Cucumber Shrimp in Retro Goddess Dressing


This is a very refreshing summer salad that takes very little effort. The only cooking required is boiling the shrimp. I use Rick Bayless's method and simmer the juice and rind of one lime in water in a covered pan for 10 minutes, then add the shrimp. It gives it a lot more flavor.

One item that's a challenge to find is celery leaves. Seems the stores like to trim them off which is a shame because they really are a good addition to salads and stocks.

This dressing would also be great as a dip for vegetables.

Recipe courtesy of The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper by Lynne Rossetto Kasper and Sally Swift

Crispy Cucumber Shrimp in Retro Goddess Dressing
Serves 2 as a main dish, 4 as a first course


2 tight packed tablespoons of fresh tarragon leaves
3 large whole scallions
1 tight packed tablespoon of fresh parsley leaves
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp Asian Fish Sauce
1 tsp dark spicy mustard
1 tbs white wine or cider vinegar
1 ripe Haas avocado
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I used Kewpie-it's Japanese and fantastic!)Salt and fresh ground pepper to taste

Combine everything in a food processor and blend till smooth.


8 oz cooked shrimp
1 medium cuke, peeled seeded and cut into pieces(I didn't peel or seed)
1 medium head of iceberg lettuce, chopped
1-2 tight packed tablespoons of celery leaves chopped.

Combine salad ingredients and toss with dressing.

Spicy chicken thighs with cucumber and cashew salad


I love cold noodle salads in the summer and my friend Liz must have known that because she saw this recipe and though of me! Thanks Liz!

This recipe is courtesy of Bill Granger, who is an Australian Chef. It's easy to put together and Jim kept commenting about all the different flavors going on. He liked the chicken but honestly I'll leave it out or replace it with cold cooked shrimp when I make it again.  Also the additional 3 tbs of sugar in the dressing seemed excessive so I added to taste and for the chiles I used 2 Thai Bird chiles.

Recipe is HERE courtesy of BBC.