Corn Chowder with Crab and Avocado

by Jennifer

This chowder recipe comes from my friend, Laura;  I added the crab and avocado on top.  For anyone averse to either of those, you could sprinkle some finely chopped chives on top.  I served this with a mixed salad and challah.  Serves 4.

  • 2 TBS unsalted butter
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
  • 4 cups fresh or frozen corn (if fresh, cut kernels off cobs vertically into a bowl)
  • 1 TBS chopped fresh basil (or 1/2 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 13.5-oz can light coconut milk
  • 8 oz lump crab meat, drained and picked through
  • 1 avocado, cubed

Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat.  Add onions, peppers and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables start to become tender, about 5 – 7 minutes.

Add corn, basil, salt and pepper and continue to cook, stirring often, for another 10 minutes.

Add broth and coconut milk, simmering and stirring frequently, for 10 minutes.

Puree half the soup, either with an immersion blender, or by ladling out half of the vegetables and broth and pureeing in a blender, then returning pureed soup to the pot.

Divide soup among 4 bowls, then divide crab and avocado, sprinkling on top.

Avocado Crostini

by Jennifer

These were out-of-this-world good!  So good, you don’t want to stop eating them, and you don’t care if you’re not hungry for dinner.  That good.  Recipe comes from Food & Wine magazine.  Serves 6 – 8.

  • 1 large baguette, thinly sliced (I bought mine at Panera and asked them to slice it for me)
  • Cooking spray
  • 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups packed fresh parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 oil-packed anchovies, drained
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 avocados, halved, pitted, and thinly sliced to fit the crostini

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Lightly coat baguette slices with cooking spray and bake until golden and crisp, 8 – 10 minutes.  When cool, transfer to a serving dish.

Combine olive oil through pepper in a blender

and puree until smooth.  (The parsley pesto can be made the day before and brought to room temperature before serving.)

Immediately before serving, top each crostini with some avocado

and spoon the parsley pesto over each one.

West Indian Rice and Peas with Tempeh, Avocado Ahdi

by Jennifer

This dinner was part of a Caribbean-themed meal I made for our friends Jill and Bob, which began with rum punch and fried plantains, and ended with bananas foster.  It was 97 degrees today and the kids and I went to the beach (my husband stayed home with the puppy), so a cold glass of rum punch and this meal with friends was the perfect way to end it.  Both of these absolutely fantastic recipes come directly from the fabulous cookbook, Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant.

West Indian Rice and Peas with Tempeh – serves 4 – 6

  • 2 cups uncooked brown rice
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened grated coconut
  • 2 1/2 TBS vegetable oil
  • 4 cups water
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 cup dried black-eyed peas, soaked for at least 5 hours OR 2 cups fresh black-eyed peas
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, chopped
  • 8 oz. tempeh, cubed
  • generous pinch of fennel seeds (recipe calls for ground fennel seeds;  honestly, by the time I made this I was working on my second glass of rum punch and just tossed the seeds in….and it was still wonderful)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 scallions, chopped

In a medium heavy pot, heat the 2 1/2 TBS vegetable oil over medium, then cook the rice and coconut, stirring, for 2 – 3 minutes.

Add the water and cinnamon stick, cover the pot and turn the heat to high.  When steam comes out from the edges of the lid, turn heat to medium-low and simmer,

without ever lifting the lid, for 40 minutes.  Discard cinnamon stick.

Meanwhile, bring another medium pot full of salted water to a boil, and

cook the peas (drain and rinse, first, if they’ve been soaking) and bay leaves until the peas are tender, about 30 minutes.

Drain and discard bay leaves.

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat the 1/4 cup oil, then cook the onion and garlic until the onions become soft, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the cayenne pepper.

Stir in the red and green pepper, tempeh, fennel seeds, salt and pepper and cook, covered and stirring occasionally,

until the tempeh is golden brown, about 10 minutes.

Combine everything – the rice, peas, tempeh mixture, and serve sprinkled with scallions.

Avocado Ahdi – serves 4

  • 2 avocados
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped green pepper
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped carrot
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped tomato
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 10 Spanish olives, finely chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Tabasco or other hot sauce, to taste
  • chopped fresh cilantro for serving

Combine red pepper through Tabasco in a bowl.

Slice avocados in half, discarding pit, and carefully scoop out flesh, leaving shells intact.

Finely chop avocado flesh and add it to the bowl, stirring gently to combine everything well.  Generously fill each avocado shell with the mixture, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Grilled Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad with Avocado Pizza

by Jennifer

The salad recipe, adapted from Cooking Light (I think), is very good but spicy, so tone down or omit the chipotle chile in adobo sauce if you’re not a fan of spicy food.  The pizza recipe was passed on to me from my friend Andy.  This dinner serves 4.

Grilled Corn, Black Bean, and Mango Salad

  • 4 ears of corn, husks and silk removed
  • 1 Vidalia onion, sliced
  • 1 red pepper, cut into 4 pieces
  • 3 mangoes, cubed
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 3 TBS chopped cilantro
  • salt to taste
  • 1/2 canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce, chopped
  • 7 – 8 cups salad greens

Prepare grill.  Grill corn, onion slices and red pepper for 10 minutes, flipping onions and peppers over halfway through, and rotating the corn once or twice.  Remove from grill and let cool.  Meanwhile, combine mango through chipotle chile in a large bowl.  Chop onions and peppers;  holding each corn cob perpendicular to a cutting board or bowl, cut off the kernels, adding kernels, with onions and peppers, to the bowl.

Toss well.  To serve, divide salad greens among four plates and top with corn and bean mixture.

Avocado Pizza

To make garlic oil, combine a good amount of olive oil and a few chopped garlic cloves in a small saucepan and warm over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes.  Keep what you don’t use in the fridge for another pizza, garlic bread, salad dressing, or pasta.  Feel free to cook your pizza on a pizza stone in a 450 – 500 degree oven (brush with garlic oil first, then cook crust), or use a pre-baked crust (brush with garlic oil before warming).

  • 11 oz. pizza dough, store-bought or homemade
  • garlic oil
  • 2 TBS chopped jalapeno
  • 2 TBS chopped cilantro
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 avocados, thinly sliced

Prepare grill.  Combine jalapeno through pepper in a medium-size bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.  Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface to about 14” across.  Place dough on a cornmeal dusted paddle and slide dough onto grill.  Cook about 3 – 4 minutes, or until it’s puffed and there are grill marks on the bottom.  Slide crust back onto paddle, flip it over so the grill marks are on top, brush with garlic oil and slide back on the grill for another 2 – 3 minutes.

Add avocado to jalapeno mixture, toss gently,

then scatter mixture over pizza crust, slice and serve.

Margaritas, Fish Tacos and Blueberry Crisp

by Jennifer

Serve these, or better yet, start cooking these, with a Margarita in hand.  Follow with Blueberry Crisp, which doesn’t necessarily follow any sort of Mexican theme, but it sounded tasty, and it was!

Fish Tacos

I love fish tacos, even more since I discovered Frontera Key Lime Cilantro Taco Skillet Sauce at Whole Food’s.  My husband and I lived in Chicago for a while and enjoyed meals at Rick Bayless’ restaurant, Frontera Grill, so I was intrigued when I found this (one of many purchases that day that were not on my shopping list!).  It’s a little spicy, so for family members who don’t handle spice well, make a simple black bean taco filling instead:  combine one 15.5-oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained, with one 16 oz. jar of your favorite mild salsa;  heat over medium-low heat until bubbly, and serve.  Serves 4.

  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. mild white fish, cut into large chunks
  • 1 package Frontera Key Lime Cilantro Taco Skillet Sauce with Roasted Tomatillo and Green Chile
  • 6 7”-tortillas, preferably whole wheat
  • 1 red pepper and 1 yellow pepper, diced
  • a large handful of cilantro, chopped
  • finely shredded cabbage, from the bagged produce section
  • 1 avocado, chopped, and tossed with a little lime juice
  • 8 oz. package shredded Monterey Jack or Mexican cheese blend
  • whole grain tortilla chips, if desired

Prepare taco toppings in bowls.  Layer tortillas on a baking sheet, separating layers with foil, to warm before serving in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add fish and cook until opaque, about another 5 minutes.

Add sauce and cook until heated through.

Allow everyone to help themselves to tortillas, fish and toppings as they desire.

Black Beans and Toasted Coconut Rice

by Jennifer

This black bean recipe is my brother’s, modified with actual measurements (a true cook, he creates dishes without the use of measuring cups or spoons), but still delicious.  I like to serve this with diced, roasted sweet potato, and avocado tossed with lime juice, for sprinkling on top.

Serves 4 – 6.

Black Beans

  •  1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 1/2 TBS olive oil
  • 2 TBS balsamic vinegar
  • 1 29-oz. can black beans, drained but not rinsed
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat;  cook onions and garlic until golden brown, about 8 minutes.

Deglaze pan with the vinegar and cook for 1 minute.

Add the beans, lime juice, salt and pepper, and simmer for 10 – 15 minutes.

Toasted Coconut Rice – adapted from Cooking Light

  •  1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 TBS olive oil
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • 2 cups basmati rice (I prefer brown), rinsed
  • 3 1/2 cups water
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3 TBS chopped cilantro

Heat a medium-sized pot over medium-high heat.  Add the cardamom and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 10 – 15 seconds.

Transfer cardamom to a bowl and add the coconut to the pot, stirring, until it starts to turn golden brown.

Transfer coconut to the bowl with the cardamom.

Return the pot to heat and add the olive oil.  When it shimmers, add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant.

Add the rice and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.

Add the coconut and cardamom, the water and salt and bring to a simmer.  Cover, and simmer over medium-low heat for 20 minutes if white rice, 35 minutes if brown.

Fluff with a fork and stir in cilantro.

Roasted Sweet Potato

  •  1 small to medium sweet potato
  • about 1 TBS olive oil
  • salt and pepper

While the rice and beans are cooking, preheat oven to 400.

Peel and dice the sweet potato, toss with the olive oil, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Spice-Rubbed Salmon with Avocado, Mango and Radish Salsa and Tortilla Chips

By Jennifer

Serves 4 adults.

Spice-Rubbed Salmon

  • 4 salmon steaks, preferably wild-caught
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne
  • zest of 1 lime

Preheat broiler.  In a small bowl combine cumin through lime zest.

Rub salmon steaks with spice mixture.  Broil a few inches away from the heat source until just cooked through, about 12 – 14 minutes.

Avocado, Mango and Radish Salsa

The easiest way to chop a mango is to first slice off each side of the mango, lengthwise, along the pit.  Score each half, cutting to but not through the skin.  Invert the half so you have cubes popping out towards you;  use the knife along the inside of the mango skin to slice off the cubes.

  • 2 mangos, chopped
  • 2 avocados, chopped
  • 6 radishes, diced
  • 3/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/4 tsp salt


Gently toss together all the ingredients in a bowl;  let sit for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.