Mexican Chili



I just told you about the smells of meme’s kitchen.

So I bet you were expecting some hummus or tzatziki, or at the very least, some couscous or rice pilaf.

But, instead, I’m giving you something decidedly un-mediterranean, un-French, and un-meme.

But something that I hope you will nonetheless find yummy.

It’s unseasonably warm here in New York today. Spring seems to be in the air. Though I know Thanksgiving is around the corner.

But I’m cooking to today’s weather rather than to the fall season. And warm days always has me thinking of spicy Mexican and refreshing beers.

I think it’s the perfect Monday Night Football combo. And a darn good Meatless Monday option.


You will need

  • 1/2 a white onion, chopped
  • 2 green bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can of corn, drained
  • 1 jar of salsa
  • toppings such as avocado, cheese, Greek yogurt and lime

In a large pot, drizzle olive oil and sautee the onion.


When the onions are translucent, add the peppers and the black beans. Let these cook together for about ten minutes, or until the peppers soften.


Next, add the corn and give the pot a big stir. Let the corn warm for a few minutes.



Add in the jar of salsa. If you like things spicier, go for medium or hot salsa. If you want to keep it on the tamer side, go for mild. Let the veggies bubble together for about 10 minutes or so.


Serve up big bowls and top with avocado slices, Greek yogurt and a sprinkling of cheese.


Crack a beer and watch the Patriots take on the Panthers.

Cucumber, Avocado, Shrimp Salad

I had so much fun bumming around at my parents’ house, eating mom’s cooking, watching TV with dad, shopping with mom.

But I was stoked to get back to my own kitchen and whip up a yummy dinner.

Except for the heat.

I love summer, but oh my goodness is it hot in the city! I had zero desire to turn on my oven today.

So a no-cook dinner it had to be.

I remembered something in Alex Guarnaschelli’s cookbook, Old School Comfort Food, that I had been waiting for the right night to try out. Tonight, fellow city dwellers melting in the heat, was the perfect night for Alex’s shrimp, avocado and cucumber salad. I tweaked the recipe a bit to fit the ingredients I had on hand.

I also bought pre-cooked shrimp and just defrosted them, because, like I said, it’s way too hot to cook. Anything.

So here’s a no-cook, one bowl dinner, to help you beat the heat in your itty bitty city kitchen.

You will need

  • 2 avocados
  • 1 cucumber
  • shrimp (I got like 3/4 pound for the two of us)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • juice of 1 lime
  • black pepper

Chop up the cucumber and the avocado and toss them into the bowl. Remove the tails from the shrimp and either toss in the bowl whole or chop in half. I chopped mine so everything would be relatively the same size.


Add the olive oil, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, lime juice and black pepper and toss the shrimp and vegetable to coat. You can adjust the amounts depending in which flavors you want to come through more.

Cover with plastic wrap and pop in the fridge for an hour.

A delicious, refreshing, cooling dinner. You can serve over brown rice if you like.


We grabbed some from the Chinese restaurant again.

I went light on the rice because I had overindulged a little this weekend. This salad is great to help get you back on track. It’s also great for a Sunday night because it’s so easy and takes so little time that you can make the most of the last hours before the work week starts again.

And it means you can watch Michael Symon battle Jose Garces on Iron Chef!


Deconstructed spicy tuna roll salad

One of my favorite foods to go out to eat is sushi.

In general, I don’t like going out to eat.

After working all day, I want to come home to the peace of my kitchen and the comfort of my sweatpants.

I don’t want to go to a restaurant where it’s crowded, it’s loud, it’s expensive, and I always feel like I could make the same plate in front of me at home.

Sushi is an exception.

I don’t see me busting out the bamboo sushi mat and picking up sushi grade ahi tuna at the market any time soon. (Though, you never know. My boyfriend recently decided he wanted to learn how to make Chinese food and so went out and bought a wok. Yes. He woks on occasion. Yes, I will try and sneak a video next time.)

If we wanted sushi, we’d have to venture out.

Trouble is, we were both really set on a weekend of sweatpants.

So I started thinking about sushi as components rather than rolls and came up with this deconstructed spicy tuna roll salad. The tuna is cooked, but the flavors are about the same as the roll you’d get at your favorite sushi restaurant.

The best part? This is a one bowl dish. That’s right. Bowl. Not pot. This is an almost no cook meal. Just assembly required.

Really, you’re going to do three steps.

1. Make the dressing

2. Make the salad

3. Cook the tuna.

So first the dressing.

You will need:

  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • 1 tbsp siracha
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • a pinch of sugar


In a large bowl, whisk together all of the ingredients.


We actually always have all of this stuff on hand. Like I said, he started woking recently and went out and bought a bunch of Asian ingredients. Even if you don’t have them or don’t think you’ll make that many Asian dishes, consider getting them. I’ve made some amazing marinades with soy sauce. And sesame oil adds a really nice deep flavor to sauteed vegetable. And if you don’t have siracha or don’t want to buy it, use whatever hot sauce you like or have on hand.

To the bowl of dressing, toss in your salad ingredients.

We used:

  • 1 avocado, diced
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, sliced into matchsticks
  • 1 handful shredded cabbage (like the bag of coleslaw mix)
  • 1 large handful baby spinach
  • 1 large handful spring mix


These can easily be adjusted. Arugula would be nice to add a peppery kick, or even romaine if you want a real cold crispness to cut the hot sauce. I recommend the avocado and the cucumber if you want that sushi roll taste, but really the salad ingredients are up to you.

Toss to coat the veggies with the dressing.


Pop into the fridge so the flavors can, in the words of my dad, fester.

Anytime a recipe calls for something to hang out in the fridge, dad calls it festering.

Now, while the salad festers, it’s onto the tuna.

You will need:

  • 2 tuna steaks
  • vegetable oil
  • juice of half a lime
  • black pepper

Turn the broiler on high and line a baking sheet with foil. The foil gets balled up and tossed in the trash later, making the bowl with the salad the only cleanup for the night.

Place the tuna steaks on the foil-lined sheet and drizzle with vegetable oil and lime juice and a few grinds of black pepper.


The tuna will cook under the broiler pretty quickly, about 4 minutes per side.

This meal is complete with just the salad and the tuna, but we added brown rice on the side to give it the real sushi roll taste.

I confess, I didn’t make the rice. Our favorite Chinese take out place is literally steps from our door (the joys of city living) so while I watched the tuna, he ran down and got a container of brown rice. And maybe two egg rolls. Shih Lee has the best egg rolls. Hands down.

Plate the salad and tuna and add a scoop of brown rice on the side.


When you get a bite of lettuce, avocado, rice and tuna, all coated in the spicy dressing (our version of the spicy mayo of sushi restaurants) your taste buds will be convinced they are down Second Avenue at your favorite sushi place.

But, no. You are at your table, with a huge plate of spicy tuna salad.

And most importantly, you’re still in sweatpants.

Mexican Chili

The best friend of the itty bitty city kitchen is the one pot meal.

Only pot to make room for on the limited counter space.

And more importantly, only one pot to wash.

This is especially important after a long day at work. It’s even more important on hockey night.

Two nights ago, the Rangers thwarted the Bruins plans for a sweep, winning game 4 in the series in overtime 4-3. The series stands at 3-1. Bruins win, they’re in. Rangers win, they force a game 6 and hold onto Stanley Cup hopes.

This is going to be an intense game. You’re not going to want to have to wash stacks of dishes.

It’s supposed to be summer. It’s supposed to be time for seafood and burgers and freshness.

But, like I said before, in New York it’s 53 degrees with 23 mph winds.

Dinner calls for something that will warm us up. And be easy to eat during the game.

But after a long, cold winter of soups and stews and potatoes and roasts, I needed something different.

I am so ready for summer, and summer makes me think of Mexican.

Peppers, black beans, avocados, spicy chorizo, a crisp refreshing Corona.

How to take those flavors and make an easy to eat meal (tacos are too messy for hockey-watching on the couch) that will chase away the chill in the air.

This is my Mexican chili

You will need:

  • 1 bell pepper (any color is fine. I used green because those looked the best at the store)
  • 1/2 a yellow onion
  • 2 portabella mushrooms
  • 2 cans black bean
  • 1 can red kidney beans
  • 1 can diced tomatos
  • 1 can corn
  • olive oil
  • chorizo (note if you want to make this vegetarian leave out chorizo and add in some taco seasoning instead)

Drizzle olive oil in the pan. I like to use my aluminum pot here.

Add the chopped onion and pepper and cook until soft.


Chop the chorizo and add to the pepper and onion.

Let cook so the chorizo flavors the oil and the peppers and onion.


Add the cleaned and chopped portabella.

When the mushrooms are cooked down, pour in the can of diced tomatoes.

Stir and let come to a bubble.


Wash and drain the beans and drain the corn. When the tomato juices bubble, add the beans and the corn to the pot.

Stir. Cover. Let all the flavors come together.


Serve in bowls and add toppings as you wish.

Some ideas are taco cheese, monterey jack cheese, salsa, my avocado yogurt sauce (see here ) or even some crushed tortilla chips.


Lime. Corona.


Or, even better, try this little drink concoction.

Panache. (Also called a Shandy.)

This is a fantastic summer cocktail.

You just need any light beer and limonade.

Limonade is a French soda. It’s like a carbonated lemonade.

Going with the Mexican food thing, we used Corona.

Pour the beer into a frosty glass and add some limonade – roughly 2 parts beer to one part limonade. If you want it more citrusy, you can go one to one.


Chili. Chips. Panache.


Oh. And the game. Don’t forget to turn that on.

Let’s go Rangers!

Summer, Tomato, Avocado: menage a trois!

First, to quell your curiosity, no. He did not get home last night soon enough to get me a piece of cake. I had to untangle myself from the couch and cut a slice myself.


He was late because the Rangers and Bruins went into overtime.

Then the Rangers lost.

(Double boo!)

But that was yesterday.

And this is about today. Today. The first morning this year where I woke up to a tinge of stickiness in the apartment.

Despite the air conditioning cranking away, I could catch a hint of humidity in the air.

This is the first sign of summer in the city.

The first indication of those steamy nights to come when you leave the office and the heat the pavement absorbed all day is released and burns your ankles. Those nights when all you can do is sit on a roof with a drink in your hand as the condensation collects on the glass and slides onto your fingers.

It’s a sign of tomatoes and avocados.

I have a confession.

I love avocado.

It’s border-line obsession.

I cut it up in a salad, I add it to tacos, I throw some slices onto my tuna fish sandwich.

Avocado has like 20 essential vitamins and minerals, good fat and it has the all important ability to add richness to a dish without packing on the calories. It is high in calories, but not in the way that butter is- remember those 20 vitamins and minerals.

Okay. Enough nutrition.

When I padded into the kitchen this morning and felt cool rather than cold tiles on my feet, I knew a summer sandwich was the order of the day for my bring to work lunch. (I made him one too, of course. It was the least I could do after the Rangers lost game 1 of the series).

This is my favorite preparation of avocado.

And it combines two of my favorite things.

Right now, Greek yogurt is THE hot thing. Everyone’s making it, everyone’s eating it, everyone’s cooking with it.

My boyfriend’s Greek, so we’re not jumping on the bandwagon here.

Let me take a minute to extol the virtues of Greek yogurt. First, of course, it’s better for you than other yogurts because it provides more protein. Second, the taste is just incomparable to any other yogurts- the tangy quality cannot be found in your typical fruit on the bottom yogurt cup. Then there’s the thicker texture. It just feels more indulgent. And last and most important to the tiny kitchen is its versatility.

When fridge space is limited, this one container of Greek yogurt packs a lot of uses. Why buy mayo, sour cream and containers of yogurt when instead you can buy one big container of Greek yogurt? (Plus it’s better for the environment- one big plastic container instead of all those individual plastic yogurt containers). Save some valuable fridge real estate. Also, save some money! I don’t know about you, but I can never seem to finish the may or the sour cream before they expire. That’s just money in the garbage, and with the rent being so d*mn high, I just can’t afford to throw out some of my paycheck with spoiled food.

SO Greek yogurt. Save space, save money and save your waist line – it’s far better than mayo and sour cream.

Okay. Enough with nutrition.


Greek yogurt and avocado. I use one avocado for two people. The yogurt ratio depends on how tangy you want it to be. I tend to two heaping teaspoons of yogurt to one avocado.

Split the avocado in half and remove the pit.

Holding the avocado half, slice through the flesh, stopping at the skin, longways. Turn ninety-degrees and cross hatch your slices. Like this.


You should be able to easily scoop or squeeze out the avocado into a bowl.

Add the yogurt.

Remember that potato masher?

Remember that senior partner that pulled an attitude with you today?

Channel him.

Start mashing!

The consistency is up to you. You can leave it a little chunky or go for all smooth. If you want it perfectly smooth, you can of course use a food processor. But who has room for one of those? And who has the patience to clean one of those?

So this is good to go. A squeeze of lemon or lime if you want to add some brightness.


How to use this wonderful creamy deliciousness?

In place of guacamole as a dip for chips or celery sticks

As a spread for taco night in place of sour cream

A sandwich spread instead of mayo

Possibilities are endless really.

How did I use it this time, you ask?

Much as I could just sit there with a spoon and eat it from the bowl, I restrained myself and used it for the best lunch to bring to work ever.

Toasted English muffin, slathered on both sides with avocado spread, slices of ripe, juicy tomatoes and crumbled feta.


The rich avocado coats your mouth. Bright, crisp, juicy tomatoes pop through. Feta adds the salty bite to break through the unctuousness. An English muffin gives the right amount of chew and the right amount of crunch.

A nice break in the work day.