grilled peanut butter and banana sandwich with cinnamon sugar

peanut butter and banana with cinnamon sugar

Grilled Peanut Butter and Banana with Cinnamon Sugar

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 2-4 minutes
Servings: 1

1 large banana
2 tablespoons creamy salted peanut butter
2 slices whole wheat bread
Cinnamon Sugar (for example, Trader Joe’s Cinnamon Sugar grinder)
Cooking spray

Slice banana into thirds. Slice each third into three thin slices. Spread each slice of bread with peanut butter. Put three slices of banana on top of a slice of bread. Cover with the second bread slice.

Spray a small skillet with cooking spray. Heat the skillet on medium-high heat. When it is hot, put the sandwich in the pan. After 30 seconds, flip the sandwich. Sprinkle or grind cinnamon sugar on top. After thirty seconds, flip again. Press down with a frying pan spatula, then sprinkle or grind cinnamon sugar on top. Cook for 90 seconds, pressing down occasionally on the top. When the bottom is browned, turn again. Press down on the sandwich and cook for up to 90 seconds or until the bottom is browned.

strawberry snow froyo


The warm weather is finally here! Today the temperature was nearly 90˚F and I was so glad that my Hawaiian Shaved Ice machine arrived from Amazon. This dessert is cool and refreshing, tart and slightly sweet, with a delicate hint of orange.

Strawberry Snow Froyo

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: none
Servings: 1

1 cup shaved ice
1 scoop frozen strawberry yogurt (I used frozen kefir)
1/4 cup chilled strawberry syrup (recipe to follow)
sliced strawberries to garnish

Put shaved ice in an individual serving bowl. Put a scoop of frozen yogurt on top of the ice. Spoon the cooled syrup all over the frozen yogurt then garnish with sliced strawberries.

strawberry syrup (from Emeril Lagasse):

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 18 minutes
Servings: 2 1/2 cups

1 pound strawberries, hulled and diced
1 cup sugar
3 tablespoons orange juice, preferably fresh squeezed
1/2 teaspoon fresh orange zest

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, simmering for 15-18 minutes until the mixture is reduced by one-third and the syrup thickens. Cool. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

jerk pork tenderloin with mango-avocado-tomato salsa

This juicy pork tenderloin recipe was inspired by Gina at skinnytaste. com.  To me it is mildly spicy, and the cool slightly sweet salsa accompaniment just soothes the tongue!
P.S. I wanted to add this note to anyone concerned about the safety of pink pork. Pork is safe to eat when the internal temperature rises to 150˚F. For more information visit this link by America’s Test Kitchen/Shine Food.

Jerk Pork Tenderloin with Mango-Avocado-Tomato Salsa

Prep time: 5 hours (or overnight) plus 15 minutes
Cook time: 25-35 minutes depending on the weight
Servings: 6-8 as appetizer, 2-4 as main course

• 1 lb lean pork tenderloin, all fat and silver removed
• 3 cloves garlic, crushed
• 2 – 3 tablespoons Walkerswood Jerk Seasoning
• 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
• 1 lime, squeezed
• 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
• 1/4 -1/2 cup chicken or vegetable broth

For the salsa:
• 2 Haas avocadoes, diced
• 1 tomato, chopped
• 2 large ripe mangos, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
• 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped red onion
• 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
• 2-3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
• salt and pepper, to taste


Combine the garlic, jerk seasoning, and salt, rub all over pork (wear gloves if you wish). Place in a 8 inch square pan, then pour the lime and orange juices over the pork. Turn so that the juices cover all the meat. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate 5 hours or overnight, turning pork occasionally.

The next day (or 5 hours later), preheat the oven to 350˚F. Remove pork from the marinade and discard the marinade. Bake the pork 25 minutes for 3/4 pound roast or up to 35 minutes for at 1 pound roast. When it has reached an internal temperature of 155˚F (check it 5 minutes before time is up), remove it from the oven and let it rest on the stovetop. The tenderloin should come to 160˚F during resting, about 5-10 minutes. Slice and serve.

Meanwhile make the salsa: combine all the ingredients in a bowl, season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate salsa until ready to serve.

chicken satay with spicy sweet dipping sauce and thai cabbage salad

chicken satay with spicy sweet dipping sauce and thai cabbage salad

Thai Grilled Chicken with Spicy Sweet Dipping Sauce (adapted from Pasta Princess and More)

Prep time: 15 minutes
Resting time: 4 hours or overnight
Broil time: 10 minutes, depending on how fast your oven is it could take 15 minutes
Servings: 8 skewers


For Chicken:
1/2 cup coconut milk
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 tablespoons minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
2 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into cubes
8 metal skewers

For Spicy Sweet Dipping Sauce
6 tablespoons rice vinegar or mirin
4 tablespoons water
4 tablespoons white sugar (omit if using mirin)
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

  1. In a large glass bowl, mix together the coconut milk, fish sauce, 2 tablespoons minced garlic, cilantro, turmeric, curry powder, and white pepper. Add chicken chunks, and toss to coat. Cover bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 4 hours at least or overnight.
  2. Preheat grill on high heat or heat up the oven broiler. Thread chicken chunks onto skewers. Discard the marinade.
  3. Combine vinegar, water, sugar, 1 teaspoon minced garlic, pepper flakes, and salt. Stir sauce. Set aside.
  4. Lightly oil grill grate and place chicken on the grill. Cook for 10 minutes per side, or until slightly charred and juices run clear. Serve with spicy sweet dipping sauce on the side. I recommend Thai cabbage salad would be a great accompaniment!

turkey patty with broccoli, celery, and fennel

Turkey Patty with Kale Chips, Asparagus and Tomato Olive Dressing

This is a great meal: turkey patty served on a bed of grilled iceberg lettuce, kale chips, and asparagus and tomato-olive dressing with Canadian bacon and onion. Putting broccoli and celery in the turkey patty adds moisture and also crunch–not to mention increasing your daily vegetable portion!

Turkey Patty with Broccoli and Fennel

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 4 minutes per patty
Servings: 5 patties

1 pound lean ground turkey (93% or higher)
1/2 cup broccoli stems, chopped
1/2 cup onion, minced
2 tablespoons celery, minced
1 tablespoon Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 egg, beaten

Put all ingredients in a large bowl and combine. Cut a wide sheet of wax paper. Dip a 1/2 cup measure in water. Scoop up some of the turkey meat mixture and scrape off the excess. Empty the scoop onto the wax paper sheet and repeat. Press each patty to flatten slightly. This much seasoned turkey mixture yields  five patties.

Cook’s Note: Dipping the 1/2 cup measure in water helps to release the patty.

I used the George Foreman grill to cook these patties. It took just four minutes per patty. Patties can also be broiled or pan-fried in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray. Cook until each patty reaches an internal temperature of 165˚F.

asian grilled tofu triangles with thai cabbage salad

asian grilled tofu triangles

This recipe was inspired by the South Beach Diet Cookbook. That recipe originally called for tempeh but as I’m not a tempeh fan I decided to use its first cousin, extra firm tofu. This recipe takes longer to make because you need to press out the excess water from the tofu and then marinate it for at least 4 hours. After it was grilled, I was a bit disappointed in the taste–the ginger and garlic flavors were overshadowed by the sesame oil. Next time I make this I will increase the garlic and ginger by one tablespoon each.

Asian Grilled Tofu Triangles

Prep time: 40 minutes
Marinating time: 12 hours
Cook time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4

1 pound extra firm tofu drained and cut into triangles
1 tablespoon canola oil (can use peanut oil)
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon grated ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons scallions sliced thinly on the diagonal for garnish (optional)

Press the tofu. Spread two layers of paper towels on a medium rimmed baking tray. Spread the tofu on top of the paper towels. Put another layer of paper towels on top. Cover the paper towels with a small rimmed baking tray. Place canned goods and or books on top to weight down the small baking tray. This will press out the water and flatten the triangles to about half the size when they were sliced. It takes about 20 minutes to remove the excess water.

Cook’s Note: The tofu may need a change of paper towels and an additional 20 minutes if the triangles have not reduced in size significantly.

Make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk the oils, ginger, garlic and soy sauce until they emulsify. Put the pressed tofu in an 8” square pan and pour the marinade on top. With a pair of tongs, gently turn the tofu several times to coat. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least four hours. I let them sit overnight in the marinade.

Grill the tofu triangles. The next day, I heated up the George Foreman grill and grilled the tofu 4 minutes. That was enough time to cook them and also get that wonderful burnt grill lines. If desired, sprinkle sliced scallions on top. Serve at once.

Cook’s Note: Save the marinade as a dressing for the grilled tofu. The tofu turned out slightly sweet and with a delicate flavor.

To accompany the grilled tofu, I made my favorite coconut kale recipe (kale, coconut oil, pepper flakes and Maldon’s sea salt. Yum!) and tried a new recipe for Thai Cabbage Salad from epicurious. I adapted the measurements because there was enough to feed everybody at a pot luck supper and then some. I think I could even halve the recipe one more time.

Thai Cabbage Salad

Prep time: 30 minutes
Servings: 6-8

1/4 head each red & green cabbage (sliced thinly)
3 carrots grated
1 medium cucumber diced small
1 large red pepper diced small)
1/2 cup scallions (sliced thinly)
1/2 cup cilantro (chopped coarsely)

1/4 cup rice vinegar or mirin
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1-2 tablespoons sesame oil
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
2 Thai chilies (minced)
4-6 cloves garlic (minced)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
1/2 cup peanuts

Do ahead: make salad dressing in a large jar and store in the refrigerator up to one week

Toss all salad ingredients together. Twenty minutes before serving, add dressing to salad and toss. Let sit 20 minutes to let flavors develop. Sprinkle peanuts on top.

thai cabbage salad

bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Now that Andy is here in New York, I am determined to make sure he eats healthy. Living on his own in Bangkok has led to all sorts of unhealthy eating habits–like eating ham hocks. I brought my South Beach Diet cookbooks when I came back from Bangkok in January, so I looked up interesting Phase One recipes. This one, to my astonishment, included a ham hock and pork loin chops. I decided I would make it without ham hock and pork chop. Though I knew that I could use lean pork tenderloin instead of pork chops there is absolutely no substitute for the meaty smoky flavor of the ham hock.  I had read about the concept of umami sometimes called the “fifth taste” that rounds out the four basic tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Umami is savory. I decided to add powdered dry porcini mushrooms because it has an earthy savory flavor. To get back the smokiness I added a few generous twists of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend. It was perfect.

bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Bolivian Spiced Grilled Pork Cutlets with Split Peas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes

Split Peas
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 parsnip, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon powdered dried porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
1 1/4 cup split peas, rinsed

Pork Cutlets
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lemon (about 3 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and silver and cut into eighths

Make the split peas: In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion, celery, and parsnip. When it starts to sizzle, add the garlic. Cook until the vegetables become softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cumin. Stir and add the chicken broth, umami, peas, bay leaf, and the Smoke. Let it come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Make the pork cutlets: In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cardamom, coriander, pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Pound each cutlet flat, about 1 inch 1/2 inch thickness. With your fingers, work a half teaspoon of the rub onto each side of one cutlet. Put the cutlet aside on a plate and repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

I grilled the cutlets in 3 batches for 4 minutes per batch in the George Foreman grill. Alternatively, you can cook the cutlets in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray until done. The cutlets are cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 165˚F. I served these cutlets with the split peas, Tennessee-style cole slaw, and tomato-avocado salsa.

brown and wild rice turkey burgers with Tennessee-style cole slaw

Last weekend was beautiful. The sky was blue and the sun was shining. It was warm. We went to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden to walk down the Cherry Esplanade with hundreds of other people. I am glad we went last weekend because I’m sure there are no more blossoms left on the trees after today’s rain!

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It finally feels like spring! After we had such a long cold winter here in New York followed by an unusually cool spring, the weather got warm and beautiful enough to enjoy the cherry blossoms at the BBG. However, cherry blossoms have absolutely nothing to do with this next recipe! I found a recipe for wild rice turkey burgers in the South Beach Diet cookbook but I tweaked it a bit. It had a delicious nutty flavor from the wild rice and a tartness from the extra sharp Cheddar, which melted wonderfully as the meat cooked. So here we go:

brown and wild rice turkey burgers

Brown and Wild Rice Turkey Burgers

Prep time: 35 minutes (includes cooking time for rice in a rice cooker)
Cooking time: 16 minutes in the George Foreman grill

1 pound lean ground turkey (93% lean is recommended)
1 cup cooked brown and wild rice mixture, cooled slightly
1/4 cup tonkatsu sauce (I happened to have this on hand; use barbecue sauce if you prefer)
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper to taste (about 1 teaspoon each)
4×1 inch cubes extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese

Do ahead: cook the rice ahead of time and let cool. I used a rice cooker.

For the next step, I used my George Foreman grill but you can do these patties in the oven or in the broiler.

In a large bowl, combine the meat, rice, sauce, egg, salt and pepper. Pack a half-cup measure with the meat mixture and unmold it onto a plate or a baking tray. Gently flatten the patty until it’s about 2 inches thick. Now this is where it’s fun: make a dent in the middle of the patty, but not so deep that you poke a hole all the way through. Insert a cheese cube in the dent and cover it over with meat. Repeat with the remaining meat mixture.

I grilled each patty in the George Foreman for 4 minutes. I tested the patty to see that it registered 165˚F on an instant read thermometer. Be sure not to insert the thermometer in the center or you will hit the cheese. Instead, go as close to the center as you can and be careful not to poke the thermometer all the way through. In any case, the patties were fully cooked in an average of four minutes per patty.

If you prefer, you can bake the patties at 350˚F for 10 minutes but it will not have a grilled appearance. You can achieve this by popping them in the broiler instead. Of course, you can also fry them on the stove. To cut calories, fry them on medium high heat after spraying the skillet with cooking spray.

To cut calories further, I dispensed with the bun and served each patty on a thick slice of grilled iceberg lettuce. No fries but roasted root vegetables, my favorite accompaniment to any grilled meat, and a delicious Tennesee-style cole slaw from!

Tennessee-Style Mustard Coleslaw
1⁄2 cup mayonnaise
1⁄4 cup prepared yellow mustard
1⁄4 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄4 cup sugar
2 tsp. kosher salt
2 tsp. ground black pepper
1 tsp. celery seeds
1 medium head cabbage, shredded

I never know how much mustard to use when using dried powdered mustard. So I just put in enough powder in a one cup measure that I judged was to my taste–about 2 tablespoons–then added enough water to come up to the 1/4 cup level. Then I whisked the mustard with the mayo, vinegar, sugar, salt, pepper, and celery seeds in a bowl. Shred cabbage and toss with dressing in a large bowl. Chill until ready to serve. This cole slaw has a delicious “bite” from the mustard!