Sunday Dinner Series: Ready for soup season

It’s not quite soup season yet.  Yesterday in New York it was a humid 90 degree day.  But right about now is when I start getting sick of eating salads every day for lunch.  My mom makes a pot of soup almost every Sunday in the winter and sends me her recipes, but I stumbled upon this Black Bean-Tomato Soup with Cilantro-Lime Cream recipe from Cooking Light and was eager to test it out.

Let me tell you the reasons I’m a fan:

  1. It’s super easy to make
  2. Has a lot of staple ingredients that wouldn’t require you running around to specialty stores (including some of my favorite spices and herb – yes, pile on the cilantro! Oh, and BACON)
  3. It’s semi-healthy, which may seem counterintuitive after my bacon comment, but I swear it’s reasonable!
  4. I have leftovers for lunch this week

The tomatoes provided a nice balance with the beans, and the chipotle chile powder and cumin gave the soup a nice kick.  Just because I like it hot, next time I would add a jalapeño as well.

Below is the recipe and steps which you can also find here.

Bon appétit!


  • 2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion (about 1 small)
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon chipotle chile powder
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added organic diced tomatoes, undrained
  • 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lime rind
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice


  1. Cook bacon in a large saucepan over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, reserving 1 teaspoon drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add onion and celery to pan; cook 5 minutes or until celery is tender. Stir in 3/4 teaspoon cumin, chile powder, and garlic; cook 1 minute. Stir in bacon, pepper, beans, tomatoes, and broth; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 10 minutes. Place half of bean mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure with remaining bean mixture; process until smooth. Keep warm.
  2. Combine sour cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon cumin, cilantro, rind, and juice in a small bowl. Dollop cream over soup.



Sunday brunch zucchini fritter recipe

Zucchini is one of my favorite vegetables due to its versatility as an ingredient that can be deliciously baked, fried or sautéed in a dish.

There are a lot of zucchini fritter recipes out there but this one by Martha Stewart combines earthy ingredients and, naturally, I think the pecorino romano is an essential add that gives a subtle rich flavor.   It’s simply one of my favorite uses of the squash – a light yet filling brunch or lunch recipe that I can make in large batches and store for leftovers to eat (reheated or even served cold) throughout the week.

Bon appétit!


Sunday Dinner Series: Indian-Spiced Roasted Squash Soup

This is my all-time favorite fall/winter soup pulled directly from my go-to food magazine, Cooking Light.  If you love squash and the flavor of indian spices, save this one down and try it soon before squash season is gone!  The cutting is the biggest pain so it helps to break out the time and cut the vegetables the night before.

Find all of the ingredients and prep for this delicious Indian-Spiced Roasted Squash Soup here.

Hearty & healthy lunch recipe: Kale-quinoa salad

I came across this kale and quinoa salad recipe (on BuzzFeed of all places!) and thought it was too delicious not to share.  With the fall and winter season comes heartier dishes, but I love how this meal can still be filling without making you want to crawl under your desk and nap for five hours.  It’s quick and easy, and perfect way to honor the seasonal veggie.

I recommend using fat free feta for the lightest cheese option, and definitely throw in those cranberries to add a little sweet note to the dish.


2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
1 bunch kale, washed and chopped into 1” pieces
1 lemon, zested and juiced
2 scallions, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
1/4 cup crumbled fat free feta cheese
salt and pepper
hand full of dried cranberries

The full recipe and directions can be found here on BuzzFeed Food.

Bon appétit!

Sunday Dinner Series: Crab Cakes with Spicy Rémoulade

I’m always looking for healthier ways to prepare some of my favorite foods.  Crab cakes are a summer staple, but you need to proceed with caution when ordering from a restaurant since preparations can vary so greatly and seemingly small nuances including full fat mayonnaise and deep frying can quickly pack on calories.  Below is a crab cake dish I came across last April in Cooking Light magazine.  I love making them because although it sounds like a daunting kitchen endeavor, this is not at all the case and I can tell you many reasons why you should go make it right now:  It takes less than 30 minutes including prep and cooking, it looks quite impressive on a plate if you have guests over for dinner, it’s light and fresh yet very filling to eat for a dinner dish, then you always have leftovers for lunch the next day (they are just as delicious served cold!)

Check it out below and let me know what you think.

Bon appetit!


Crab cakes:

  • 2 tbls finely chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tbls chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 1/2 tbls light mayonnaise (obviously Hellmann’s)
  • 1/2 tspn grated lemon rind
  • 1 tbspn fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tspn black pepper
  • 1/8 tspn ground red pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/3 cup panko
  • 1 pound lump crabmeat, drained and shell pieces removed
  • 1 tbls olive oil, divided


  • 1/4 cup Hellmann’s Light
  • 1 tblsp chopped shallots
  • 1 1/2 tbls capers, drained and chopped
  • 2 tspn Dijon mustard
  • 1 tspn fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tspn ground red pepper
  • 1/8 tspn kosher salt


  1. To prepare crab cakes, combine first 8 ingredients. Add panko and crab, tossing gently to combine.
  2. Gently pat crab cake mixture into a 3/4-inch-thick patty. Repeat procedure with remaining crab mixture, forming 8 cakes.
  3. Heat Olive Oil Pam spray in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 crab cakes to pan; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden. Carefully turn cakes; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden and crab cakes are thoroughly heated. Remove cakes from pan; keep warm. Wipe pan dry with paper towels. Heat remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons oil in pan. Repeat procedure with remaining 4 crab cakes.
  4. To prepare rémoulade, combine 1/4 cup mayonnaise and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; stir with a whisk. Serve with crab cakes.

Sunday dinner series: pesto shrimp with spinach, toasted walnuts, tomato and blue cheese

This is one of my favorite dishes that I used to make all the time with whole wheat penne.  Since I’m not a huge fan of pasta and never make it for myself at home I now skip the ingredient altogether.  I love the flavor combination of the toasted walnuts, blue cheese and pesto.  It’s incredibly filling and very easy to prepare, minus what I believe to be a painfully annoying process of cleaning the shrimp.  Open a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc and you’re good to go!

3 tbls. pesto (make your own!)
3 tbls. blue cheese
2 tbls. toasted walnuts
1 bag of baby spinach
1 lb. shrimp
1 tomato chopped, seeds removed
l garlic clove chopped
Clean shrimp, salt and pepper, coat in pesto
Toast walnuts over heat and set aside to cool
In pan add a little olive oil , saute garlic, then add baby spinach and cook until wilted
Cook shrimp over medium heat
Add shrimp over spinach and sprinkle chopped tomatoes, blue cheese and toasted walnuts on top
Bon appétit!

How to spend a summer day in NYC

Biking around New York has become one of my favorite summertime activities, and something I only started to pick up about two summers ago.  After four years in the city, I realized I could not start to consider myself a New Yorker as there was still so much around the boroughs I haven’t seen.  And you know I love my exercise, so any time I can combine a workout session with a fun activity, I’m all in!

Especially if you are visiting from out of town, renting and riding around NY is by far the best way to tour and take in the many beautiful sights of the city.

Deal sites like Living Social, scout mob and Groupon always have plenty of bike rental deals during the summer that you can quickly snatch up, but you need to be careful because a lot of places still try to scam you.  My go-to place is Central Park Bike Ride (aka Sayat Bicycle).  They frequently post NYC-based deals, but you can also save money by reserving online to receive 30% off your bike rental and they also have great reward programs for repeat customers.

Everyone in the shop is unbelievably friendly and attentive to make sure you receive the bike that best suits you and feel comfortable with your ride.  Make sure you say hi to the affable owner, Mergen (pictured below.)  He always remembers his repeat customers and, in turn, will be sure to take care of you.

Sayat Bicycle is conveniently located right near the opening of Central Park at 117 W 58 Street between 6 and 7 ave.  Just look for the bright green awning!

So, now that you have your bike – where do you go?  My usual route involve a first loop around the Central Park bike loop, then I cross over to the West Side Highway, glide down the Hudson River to the southern tip of Manhattan and over the Brooklyn Bridge into Brooklyn. From the beauty of Central Park to passing the many piers along the river, the infamous Intrepid Museum and glorious views from the promenade in Battery Park City with a view of the Statue of Liberty and, of course, the incredible experience crossing the historic BK Bridge, you’ve already seen so much in so little time.

I rarely visit the borough in the fall or winter so I love making the most out of my visit to BK, whether its planning a brunch with a friend, shopping at my all-time favorite mediterranean deli, Sahadi’s, to stock up on some spicy hummus and goodies, or swinging by Jacques Torres Chocolate on Water street under the bridge in DUMBO to indulge in some well-deserved ice cream after a long ride.

What are you waiting for?  Grab a bike, and I’ll meet you in Brooklyn!