Tropical Crab Cake Salad

I am back from my trip but I haven't lost my cravings for fresh tropical food! This recipe is my way of keeping the Bahamas with me - even in the cold North East! These fresh flavors are light but filling - a real treat!

Tropical Crab Cake Salad
1 bag Mixed greens
1 Mango, ripe and sliced into fingers
1 Avocado, ripe and sliced into fingers
4 small Crab Cakes (available in the seafood section of the grocery store)
1/2 cup Fresh Pineapple Salsa
Citrus Vinaigrette of your choice

Arrange slices of mango and avocado alternately in a pinwheel on the plate. Toss greens in dressing and pile on top of the avocado/mango slices. Place two warm crab cakes atop the salad and finish the whole thing with a generous helping of pineapple salsa. Enjoy!

Notes/Substitutions: This is one of my favorite salad creations. The flavors of the light, sweet crab meat lend themselves so well to tart citrus and creamy avocado! I don't make the crab cakes myself, but they are almost always available at the fresh seafood counter in your grocery store, you just heat them up in the oven. You can use any light citrus vinaigrette that you like, and fresh pineapple salsa can be found in most grocery stores but I prefer to make my own - it's easier than you  think and I can control what goes into it!

Fresh Pineapple Salsa
1 small container of Fresh Pineapple spears or chunks (find them in your produce section)
1 Jalapeno pepper
1/8 c Red Onion
small handfull of Cilantro
Orange Juice
Fresh Lime Juice

Cut pineapple into half inch pieces (small but not tiny - and NO don't use the "tidbits" in a can!) and replace in the container. I find that 3/4 of the pineapple in these containers is the perfect amount for salsa, plus you can munch on the rest while you prep! Cut the pepper in half to remove the seeds and ribs, then mince into very small pieces. Mince the onion as well and add to the container of pineapple. I generally only use half of the pepper, but if you like your salsa with more kick, go ahead and add the whole thing. Add chopped cilantro and equal parts orange and lime juice to the container, put the lid back on and shake it up! It's a delicious addition to salads, fish, or even just on it's own with blue corn tortilla chips and sharp cheddar (my favorite way to use the "leftovers")!

Fall Break

Hi guys! This blog is going to be suspended while I am out to sea from tomorrow until November 4th, but I will be blogging for work. You can follow my exploits on the New England Aquarium's Divers Blog

See you on the dry side!

Ariel's Stuffed Veggies

My lovely friend Ariel made these for us at a dinner party she hosted for a few friends. Simple, filling and delicious - the best part is that you can use almost any veggies you like for the filling! This recipe makes enough for 6 people as a side or appetizer, but it is very easy to amend for different size groups.

Teriyaki Pineapple Turkey Burgers

My sister made these delicious burgers for our family this past summer. Her and her fiance are very health conscious and are always looking for new recipes that are both healthy and flavorful. I'll admit that I was skeptical because I had never had what I would describe as a "good" turkey burger - it is usually just used as substitute for beef.  This recipe, however, actually highlights the flavor of the turkey (instead of trying to just pretend it's something else). It is so simple and SO tasty that it quickly made it's way into our regular meal rotation.

Teriyaki Pineapple Turkey Burgers
1 can (20 oz.) Pineapple Slices
1/2 cup Soy Sauce
2 lbs. ground turkey or chicken
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 cup Panko Bread Crumbs
8 hamburger buns (I like potato buns)

Drain pineapple; reserving 1/2 cup juice.Stir together soy sauce and reserved pineapple juice in
small bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the turkey, ginger, bread crumbs and 1/4 cup teriyaki mixture. Shape into 8 burgers and grill, brushing with remaining teriyaki mixture, until thoroughly cooked. Place pineapple slices on grill and cook until light golden brown. Serve burgers topped with grilled pineapple slices and enjoy!

Notes/Substitutions: The recipe makes 8, but I usually cut it in half - then we have enough for dinner and lunch the next day! If you plan to keep these as leftovers, just store the burgers/pineapple separate from the buns.Fresh ginger really is key to this scrumptious dinner! It kicks this burger up to "super-delicious" status. I like to drizzle a little Soy Vay "Veri, Veri Teriyaki" sauce on top of these burgers - it's a nice little extra flavor and it can even help save burgers that get dried out from over-cooking.

A general burger tip - when forming patties, get them into the desired size and then make an indent in the center (top and bottom, so it looks like a little dimple almost) This keeps burgers relatively flat when they cook -i.e. they retain the "patty" shape instead of turning into little footballs. This means that they cook more evenly and fit better on the bun!

Baked Ziti

I love pasta. I don't think I've even come across a pasta dish that I didn't care for, but this is one of my absolute favorites. Reminiscent of lasagna, this baked ziti dish comes from one of my favorite food magazines - Food Everyday (Martha Stewart). It is quick, easy, and is made in a 2-qt casserole dish, so it doesn't overrun your fridge.

Baked Ziti
8 oz ziti rigate (ridged)
1 cup part-skim ricotta
1 large egg, lightly beaten
3/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
1 jar (24 to 26 ounces) tomato sauce (I like a traditional sweet tomato basil)

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Cook pasta until al dente, according to package instructions; drain and reserve.
In a small bowl, combine ricotta, egg, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and half the mozzarella; season with salt and pepper.
In the bottom of a shallow 2-quart casserole dish, spread half the tomato sauce. Top with ziti, then ricotta mixture and remaining sauce. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan and remaining mozzarella. Place casserole on a rimmed baking sheet, and bake until top is browned and sauce is bubbling, 20 to 25 minutes.

Notes/Substitutions:  This is the recipe as Martha tells it -- I tend to add more cheese to the top.
One of the nice things about this recipe is that you can really play around with it. Try different tomato sauces; as I mentioned above, I prefer a sweet tomato basil sauce in this recipe. We have tried a few sauces, and it really makes a big difference in the overall taste of the dish. Also, I usually add a layer of meat or vegetables between the ricotta layer and top layer sauce. Some of my favorite iterations include pepperoni, spinach and pre-cooked ground beef.
And on a final note -- it is apparently really hard to take a good picture of baked ziti!

Dumpling Ricecake Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk)

I first had this soup at our favorite Korean restaurant in Cambridge (Koreana). This soup is generally served to celebrate the lunar new year, but it is a delicious and simple dish you can make any time! I have simplified the recipe here, but see the notes for a more traditional version.

Dumpling Ricecake Soup (Ddeok Mandu Guk)
2 cans Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1/2 can Water
2 cups Small Frozen Dumplings
3 cups Rice Ovalettes
3 cups Fresh Spinach
1 tsp Soy Sauce
2 tsp Sugar

Bring the chicken broth, water, soy sauce and sugar mixture to a boil and add dumplings, ovalettes and spinach. Cook for 3-5 minutes (or according to the dumpling package) and serve with a sprinkling of fresh green onions. 

Notes/Substitutions: This dish is traditionally made with thinly sliced beef, cooked right in the broth as it boils, as well as a beaten poached egg (think egg drop soup). You could substitute egg ribbons if you don't like the taste of the "egg-drop" style eggs.
To make egg ribbons; beat one egg and pour into a preheated skillet. Move the pan around so as to spread out the egg into one very thin layer over the pan. Cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until you can flip the whole thing over, then flip and cook for 15 more seconds. Remove the "omelet" onto a cutting board, and roll it up on itself, forming a log. Cut in thin strips and add to soup -- or I like mine in Pad Thai!

Sisters Salsa

Delicious discovery -- or in the case -- rediscovery!
I loved this salsa when I was growing up in Maine, and found it again this weekend while I am up visiting my mother. Sisters Salsa out of Blue Hill, Maine is some really awesome "pico de gaillo" style salsa. Super fresh ingredients, ample cilantro...  check them out at

Chicken Cordon Bleu

This ultra fancy sounding dish is actually really simple to make! That is if you don't mind getting your hands a little dirty...this is one of Jordan's favorite recipes because it is so rich and decadent.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
1 package of Chicken Cutlets
1c Plain Bread Crumbs
1 Egg, beaten
1/4 lb Ham
4 wedges Laughing Cow Creamy Swiss
2 Tbsp Butter, melted

Preheat the oven to 350°
Put one chicken cutlet on a cutting board or sheet of saran wrap. If the cutlet is a little small, you can use two and overlap them a little in the middle. Fold a slice of ham in half and place in the middle of the chicken. Take one wedge of soft cheese, form it into a little oval, and put it in the middle of the ham. The cheese should be perpendicular to the chicken. Roll the chicken into a pinwheel, as tight as you can. Take the roll and dip it into the beaten egg and then into the bread crumbs. Place, seam side down on a pan, and pour butter over the top. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cooked through.

Notes/Substitutions: I almost always serve Chicken Cordon Bleu with Rice Pilaf; it's how my mother always served it, and I find that the flavors really compliment each other. Another great side is French-style green beans called "Haricot Vert" (which just means green beans, in french....) my favorite way to prepare them is as follows:

Lemon Haricot
1 Tbsp butter
1/2 tsp Garlic, minced
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
1/2 lb Haricot Vert (thin, French-style green beans)

Melt the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for 2-3 minutes, or until it just starts to brown. Add the green beans and cook for 4-5 minutes, add the lemon juice and cook another 2 minutes. They key is to cook the beans until they are just heated through so that they stay crunchy - overcooking leads to mushy beans!

S'more Brownies

This is a sort-of-homemade, completely delicious recipe that anybody can make!

S'more Brownies
1 pk Brownie Mix
Water, Oil and Eggs as needed*
1 1/2 sleeves of Graham Crackers, crushed
1 stick Butter
1 pk Mini Marshmallows

Preheat the oven according to the directions on the brownie package. Combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter and press into a greased 9x13" pan. Prepare the brownie batter according to the package and pour over the graham cracker crust. Bake according to the package. Remove the brownies from the oven and set on the counter, sprinkle the mini marshmallows over top - just enough for a single layer over the brownies. Turn on the broiler and wait a few minutes for the temperature to raise. This is a very important step -- if the broiler is not hot enough, then the marshmallow will dry out instead of toast. Put the brownies back into the oven on the top rack and watch the marshmallows closely. Once they turn a nice golden brown, they're done! Just cool and enjoy!

Notes/Substitutions: Any brownie mix works with this recipe, but I really like the Ghirardelli brand mixes. I like to make this in a 9x13 pan for an almost equal  mix of all the parts, but you could certainly make this in a smaller pan for more brownie per bite!

Zucchini Frittata

Frittatas are an easy way to make a fancy-looking breakfast! You can put almost anything you would put into an omelet, without fussing over the stove.

Zucchini Frittata

6 large Eggs
1 Tbsp Milk
1C grated Zucchini
1/2 C grated Parmesan Cheese
Garlic Salt
Fresh Ground Pepper
Onion Powder

Preheat the oven to 350°
Beat the eggs and milk thoroughly, add salt, pepper and onion powder.  Mix in the zucchini and most of the cheese. Pour this mixture into a greased, glass pie dish. Bake at 350F for 20 minutes. Top the frittata with the remaining cheese and return to the over for 10 minutes, or until puffed and golden brown.
Remove from the oven and allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting.

Notes/Substitutions:You can put almost anything you have in your fridge into this omelet. Leftover veggies and meat cut into bite sized pieces. You can substitute regular salt for the garlic salt, and omit the onion powder if it won't mesh well with your fillings!

Roasted Tangerine Chicken

Learning to cook a whole chicken is so much easier than it sounds. The key is an internal probe thermometer - a cheap little gadget that makes roasting almost completely foolproof!

Roasted Tangerine Chicken

1 Whole Chicken
2 Tbsp Butter
1 onion, quartered
3 Tangerines, quartered
Fresh Rosemary
1 c fresh Tangerine Juice
1 Tbsp Honey
Salt and Pepper

Preheat the oven to 400° 
Rub the entire chicken with the butter. Season the chicken with salt, pepper, including the area between the skin and the meat. Stuff the cavity with the onions, tangerines, and a few sprigs of fresh rosemary.

Place the chicken on a rack in a roasting pan. Set your probe thermometer's alarm to 161° and insert into the thickest part of the breast, being sure not to hit the keel bone. Place in the oven. Roast the chicken until your probe thermometer goes off (usually around 45 minutes to an hour).

Remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest under tin foil. In a hot sauce pan, add about a tablespoon of pan drippings, the tangerine juice, and honey. Season with salt and pepper. Reduce the sauce to 1/2 cup, about 8 to 10 minutes.Carve the chicken however you like, and drizzle with the tangerine sauce.

Notes/Substitutions: I don't actually own a roasting pan, so I place my chicken on the little rack from my toaster oven, on top a glass casserole dish. For tips on preparing poultry, I highly recommend the Good Eats Episode "Romancing the Bird" (watch it here part 1 of 4). This recipe is just one idea for a roast chicken, but the technique is indispensable. For a more "everyday" roast chicken, stuff with any aromatics and fill the casserole dish with your choice of root vegetables.

French Onion Soup

I have been meaning to make this recipe for a while but, although it isn't what I would consider a difficult recipe, it is a labor intensive one!

French Onion Soup
1 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
4 large onions, thinly sliced
2-4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 Tbsp flour
1/2 C dry white wine
8 C beef broth
2 Tbsp brandy (optional)
6-8 slices of French bread, toasted
1 garlic clove
12 ounces Swiss Cheese (gruyere) grated
In a large, heavy saucepan, heat the butter and oil over med/high heat.  Add the onions and cook for 8-10 minutes, until they are softened and beginning to brown. Add the garlic, sugar and thyme and cook over med heat for 30-35 minutes, until the onions are well browned, stirring frequently.
Sprinkle in the flour and stir until well blended. Stir in the white wine and broth and bring to a boil.  Skim off any foam that rises to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer gently for 45 minutes. Stir in the brandy.
Preheat the broiler and rub each slice of toasted bread with the garlic clove.  Fill each bowl with soup, float a piece of bread on top and sprinkle with cheese. Place under the broiler until the cheese melts and begins to bubble.

Notes/Substitutions: This soup is great on its own, but if I am already spending the afternoon making it, I like to take a little extra time while it's simmering to make another classic French dish - Curly Endive Salad. I substituted a bagged salad mix for the endive.

Curly Endive Salad 
6 Cups curly endive or escarole leaves
5-6 Tbsp. EVOO
6 thick cut bacon slices cut crosswise into thin strips
4 slices of Goat Cheese (store for 10 minutes in the freezer before slicing)
1 egg
1/2 c bread crumbs
1 clove garlic
1 tsp. red wine vinegar
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
salt and fresh ground pepper
Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a frying pan and add the bacon. Fry until gently browned.  Remove with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.  Dip the chilled goat cheese slices in whisked egg, and then in bread crumbs. Fry in bacon fat for about a minute on each site. Remove and Drain on paper towels. Stir the garlic, vinegar and mustard into the pan with the remaining  oil and heat until just warm, whisking to combine.  Tear the lettuce into a bowl and pour the warm dressing over it.  Add the fried bacon and goat cheese.