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.

Recipe: 2 ingredient zucchini gratin

Cooking can’t get any easier than this!  My mother shared this “recipe” with me via my grandmother, Meme.  It’s simple and delicious as a side dish, or I even just ate it for dinner.  After all, anything with melted cheese on it tastes better to me!

What you need:  Parmigiano-Reggiano & Zuchinni

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Simply peel of the zucchini skin and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

Grate cheese

Coat pan with olive oil and layer zucchini.  Salt and pepper veggies and add cheese as desired.  Repeat process for each layer

Bake in the oven until cheese is nicely browned on top

Bon appétit!

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: Bobby Flay’s Ancho-and-Honey-Glazed Salmon with Black Bean Sauce and Jalapeño Crema

Bobby Flay never fails to disappoint in the flavor department.  If you love the spice and bold flavors of the Southwest, you are probably a big fan of his restaurants.  After tasting many dishes of his and watching him cook on TV for years, I assumed an attempt to replicate any dish would be a recipe for failure.  B Flay is notorious for dishes involving multiple steps and many ingredients.  I was excited to receive a copy of his Mesa Grill cookbook a few years ago, but became quickly overwhelmed on where to begin.  So I started with dinner.  I was trying to eat more fish and found myself drawn to the level of flavors and balance of sweet and spicy highlighted in his ancho and honey-glazed salmon recipe with black bean sauce and jalapeño crema.

The first time I prepared this dish it seemed like it took several hours to make which was probably because I tried to prep everything at once, feeling exhausted and ravenous by the time I sat down to eat.  This time I prepped the jalapeño crema and black bean sauce that morning so by the time it came to make dinner I didn’t feel like I was slaving in the kitchen for hours.  Even so, the resulting dish was well worth the wait.  I think it’s a perfect fall/winter fish recipe – it’s a little heartier, and the jalapeño and ancho chile will be sure to warm you up on a cool evening.

I made a slight time-saving and calorie-cutting adjustment to my recipe by not making fresh black beans (in my opinion, it tastes just as good to me with the can!), using fat free sour cream and cooking the salmon differently using my no-fail salmon cooking technique.

Bobby’s recipe with my prep/cooking instructions are below but you can also find his full unadapted recipe here.

Bon appétit, my friends!


  1. 1 1/2 cups canned black beans
  2. 1 small red onion, coarsely chopped
  3. 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  4. 1 large chipotle chile in adobo, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  5. 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  6. Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  7. 1 large jalapeño
  8. 1/2 cup fat free sour cream
  9. 1/3 cup honey
  10. 1 tablespoon ancho chile powder
  11. 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  12. 8-ounce skinless center-cut salmon fillets
  13. 1/4 cup chopped scallions

Directions (Steps 1 and 2 can be done the day before or a few hours earlier)

  1. Drain 1 can of black beans under cool water.  Transfer to food processor with red onion, garlic, chipotle and cumin and chop until desired texture.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375°. Roast the jalapeño directly over a gas flame until charred all over. Transfer the jalapeño to a small bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let cool. Peel, seed and coarsely chop the jalapeño. In a food processor, puree the sour cream with the jalapeño until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the crema to a small bowl and refrigerate.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the honey with the ancho chile powder and mustard and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Rub the salmon fillets with the vegetable oil and season with salt and pepper. Place in the cold oven and turn up to 400 degrees to cook for 20 minutes.  Take out and brunch the salmon with the glaze and place back in the oven for 5 more minutes.
  5. Spoon the black bean sauce and the jalapeño crema onto plates and arrange the salmon fillets on top or next to the sauce. Brush the salmon with a little more of the ancho-honey glaze and serve.

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.