Archive for the ‘Snacks’ Category

On a hot, summer day a mango salsa is the perfect refreshing snack. The tanginess of the tomatillos makes a good backdrop behind the sweet mangos while the char from the grill adds a welcomed complexity. Honey and lime round out the flavors, while tempering the heat of the jalapeño—which I tend not to go easy on.


  • Peel two mangos, remove the pits, chop and mix with diced red onion. Add a generous amount of lime juice. Grill one ear of corn, half a jalapeño and the tomatillos (with the husks on), turning them until they are charred and soft. Remove the husks and stems and pulse in the blender with a drizzle of olive oil, one chopped garlic clove and jalapeño to taste (remove the seeds and membranes for a gentler heat).
  • When it has cooled, mix with the mangos and add salt, more lime and a healthy drizzle of honey. Remove the corn kernels and mix in. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips. My favorite brand is Xochitl totopos de maíz sold in a large paper bag. Chopped scallions make a pretty garnish.

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This twist on the traditional quesadilla makes for a great snack. My sister was thinking of what to eat for about 30 minutes, so I just made her this so she’d stop complaining. She offered to make the quesadilla and took out the peanut butter. That’s when I told her firmly that I would be cooking it. I think she was glad I did.
  1. Spread a light coating of store-bought pesto on a flour tortilla.
  2. Scatter on ripped pieces of sliced jarlsberg cheese.
  3. Thinly slice tomatoes and cut into half-moons. Use any tomato you like. I used a really sweet golf-ball shaped variety with no label (from the farmer’s market). Distribute these on as well.
  4. Top with lots of hand-torn fresh basil, a rivulet of olive oil and a few drips of lemon juice.
  5. Top with the other tortilla
  6. Heat a pan over medium heat and coat with melted butter. Cook the quesadilla until buttery golden and crispy on the bottom. Press lightly. Slide off onto a plate.
  7. Add more butter to the pan and cook the other side of the quesadilla. If the pan seems to hot, turn it down a bit. Press lightly and remove when the tortilla is golden and crispy and the cheese is melted. You can use a spatula or place an upside-down plate over the pan and invert the whole thing.

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This salsa is delicious, healthy, and takes about 10-15 minutes to make. What’s not to love?! My parents want me to sell it in 16 oz. containers. I’ll have to think about that. Meanwhile, here’s the recipe for a mildly spiced yet  flavorful and refreshing salsa. The charred flavor makes my salsa unique and basil provides a more sweet herb flavor. Add a little sweetness and you have a tasty salsa, perfect for topping burgers, tacos, or your tortilla chip—the best of which would have to be Xochitl corn chips.


  • 2 poblano peppers
  • About 6 plum tomatoes
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 small shallot, diced
  • 1/2 jalapeño, diced (for a mild salsa)
  • small handful of cilantro, roughly chopped
  • small handful of basil, roughly chopped
  • salt
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • hefty pinch of sugar
  • 1/4 of a 16 oz. can of corn
  • 2 tablespoons of diced red onion
1. Set the grill to medium-high heat and char the poblanos. They should be covered in black blisters. Cut them in half and remove the stems, seeds and inner membranes. Roughly chop.
 2. Quarter the plum tomatoes and put in a food processor with the poblanos, the garlic, the shallots, the jalapeños, the herb and a few pinches of salt. Use the chop setting and pulse. Pulse in lime juice, honey, and sugar.
3. Taste for sweetness (honey/sugar), salt (be generous), acidity (lime), heat (jalopeño), and herb action.
4. In a hot saute pan, cook the corn until it browns and add to the salsa. Mix in diced red onion.
Replace the tomatoes with grilled tomatillos (the fruits that look like green tomatoes with husks) for a salsa verde.

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It is not uncommon for me to get a spontaneous desire to cook something completely random. Recently, it was biscuits at 11:00 P.M. Biscuits are cheap, easy, and made with ingredients you probably already have.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 20 min


  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 stick salted butter
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • ¼  teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup of whole milk (don’t be afraid of fat)
  • some pepper (fresh is best)

From Pantry To Palate:

1. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Chop cold butter into tiny cubes and incorporate, with hands or a fork, until the mixture is very crumbly. Be patient.

2. Slowly add the milk and keep mixing until you create a dough ball. Flour the ball and the counter-top and roll the dough out pretty thinly—I used an olive oil bottle because I didn’t have a rolling pin. Fold the dough over until it’s about an inch in height and roll again to spread the dough out evenly.

3. Use a cookie cutter (or a wine glass) to cut the biscuits. Repeat the process, using the leftover dough to make more biscuits. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick spray and place the biscuits on it.

4. For a golden crust, brush or apply some egg wash (one egg, beaten). Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes or until golden on the top. While hot, brush on some melted butter and some more salt and pepper if you choose.

5. Eat them. You know the drill.

6. Go to the gym the next day.

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Quinoa, pronounced keen-wah, is a staple grain in South American cuisine; the ancient Incas even called it “the mother grain”. Its high protein content and delicate flavor make it nutritious and versatile. My roommate and I cooked this together and we thought it was good enough to eat as a meal by itself.


  • 2 cups Quinoa
  • 1 package of dried cranberries, golden raisins, and blueberries. (Trader Joe’s)
  • Olive oil
  • 2-3 lemons
  • 1 orange
  • 1 head of garlic
  • chopped basil
  • 2 ripe avocados
  • canned garbanzo beans (chickpeas)

Bring 2 cups of quinoa with 4 cups water to a boil. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until the grains soak up all of the water. Fluff the quinoa with a fork and mix in the dried fruit. Also add chopped, sautéed garlic. Mix in the lemon juice, orange zest, salt, pepper, chopped basil, and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Also add the garbanzos. Immediately stop the cooking by transferring the quinoa to the fridge. Allow the quinoa to sit for a few hours. Add chopped avocados before serving.The time is necessary for the quinoa to absorb the flavors. Leftovers will be even sweeter.

For such a mild grain, this dish is super flavorful. The quinoa really absorbs the sweetness of the fruit and the orange zest adds a lot of fruity flavor. The avocado, lemon, basil, and garlic are great counterpoints to the sweetness. The chickpeas add an extra textural dimension too.

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My roommate Jordan and I made something simple for dinner. We roasted asparagus, green peppers, onions, zucchini and corn with salt, pepper, and fruity olive oil. Try 375º until the onions just start to brown. Our grilled cheese was made with muenster and shredded mozzarella cheese. We heated a grill pan to medium-high and buttered the bread. We grilled one slice on both sides to make a grilled cheese that was impossible crunchy. The two cheeses melted together in texture and flavor and the vegetables were perfectly seasoned and deliciously simple. It beats the cafeteria!

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Since you are what you eat, why not be the best. This pizza will make your neighbors flock to your door just to take a whiff of the tantalizing aroma. I don’t know what’s more pleasing, the audibly crunchy crust or the silky, melted cheese on top. I figured, why not take something usually left plain—the crust, and boost the flavor by adding fresh rosemary and roasted garlic. Basil adds a lemony aroma and the feta cheese adds a briny punch of flavor.


  • 1 Trader Joe’s pizza dough
  • 1 head of garlic
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1-2 tomatoes
  • tomato sauce
  • feta cheese (optional)
  • fresh basil
  • olive oil
  • flour
  • salt, pepper

(All can be found at Trader Joe’s)

1. Allow the dough to come to room temperature. In the meantime, heat the oven to 425º. Cut off the top of the wider end of the garlic head, revealing all the garlic cloves. Tightly wrap in aluminum foil with some olive oil and salt. Roast for 15 minutes. When the garlic is cool, you can squeeze out the cloves.

2. Flour the working surface as well as the dough. Flatten the dough with your hands or a rolling pin—I used an olive oil bottle. Heck, if you want to have some fun, try throwing it in the air like the pros. Roughly chop the rosemary and garlic and press them into the pizza crust with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bake the crust on a flowered pizza pan or baking sheet for 6-7 minutes.

3. Top the crust with a little tomato sauce, chopped basil, tomato slices, lots of shredded cheese, more tomato slices, and feta cheese crumbles, respectively. Bake until the cheese is melted and begins to brown. If you have a crappy GW oven, you may need to rotate the pie to promote even cooking. Scatter freshly ripped basil leaves and conclude with a drizzle of olive oil.

Good pizza is a simple proportion: less box, more flavor.

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