Tag Archives: avocado

Crab Stacks with Ginger Lime Dressing

If the end of January is approaching then I know I can expect a variety of things:  emails from sites I subscribe to sharing the perfect Super Bowl snacks, bloggers swapping their tried and true party dish faves, and people talking about whether they’re planning on a game day get together or not.  None of it has been discussed in our house yet, because we’ve been busy, busy, busy with life enjoying a long weekend making like tourists in West Hollywood, soaking up the last bits of our youngest’s company before he returns to San Francisco for the spring semester, celebrating family birthdays and anniversaries, and in the past couple of days, nursing one of our cats back to health after a run in with a neighbor’s kitty.  Goodness!  And it’s not over yet.  Any time now, my husband will ask about what’s on our  Super Bowl agenda.  It always seems to be a last minute sort of thing most years, and that’s just fine with me because it doesn’t take too much thought to decide which snacks football fans will expect to have at their fingertips whether they’re for our small family, or a larger group.

I doubt there has ever been a time we haven’t had fresh salsa or pico de gallo with guacamole and tortilla chips.  A pot of chili with all the fixin’s and a salad for halftime eats are also the norm even though the chili recipe varies from one year to the next.  But I’m also known for sneaking in something that may raise eyebrows, causing certain guests to cast one another a nervous glance before pointing and asking, “What is that?” then politely suppressing the urge to continue with, “Do I have to eat it?”  as they reel their fingers back in.  Actually, they now ask, “How do I eat it?” because it seems my food often has rules that accompany it — or must seem like it does.   Is it supposed to be dipped, or layered?  Which of the ingredients on the plate create the best bite?  Is it finger food, or do I need a plate and fork?  To their credit, they seem much more enthusiastic than they did years ago, so I know my risks to encourage people to try something new haven’t failed, and that makes me happy.

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Quick & Easy Hot Deli Style Chicken Sandwich

It’s late afternoon and the day has been more busy than expected.

You glance at the clock realizing you haven’t given dinner much thought and since take out was on the menu last night,  you’re probably going to have to make dinner tonight.  You don’t really want to make dinner because you’re tired, but you’re also hungry and something with all the right flavors would really hit the spot.  A mental scan of the fridge and pantry contents isn’t adding up to much — or is it?

There’s sliced cheese, some deli meat, and a few jars of things like roasted peppers, pepperoncinis, and olives.  You know you always have onions, some salad greens. Maybe even a slice of bacon or two.  Wait.  Isn’t there some left over chicken as well?

A quick stop at the store for some crusty bread and it looks like sandwich night is in order.

No fuss, no muss.

Delicious.

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Boston Butter Lettuce Salad with Avocado, Corn, & Tomatoes

One of the things my husband will tell you I ask him is whether he’s had anything green during the day.  He’s fairly patient with this interrogation because he’s intelligent and knows that ultimately, regardless of what he eats, there have to be vegetables in his diet– especially brightly colored vegetables.  But sometimes, green is enough, and often easier because all it takes to incorporate it into a day’s worth of meals is to have a salad.  A big salad.

I know many think salad is a warm weather dish, but to me, it’s one of the easiest ways to make sure vegetables are on the plate.  Fresh vegetables.  Nothing fancy — just a mix of what sounds good, what’s in the fridge, or what’s in season.  And?

The salad needs to take up half the plate.

I grew up eating salads made exclusively with iceberg lettuce.  I’m sure many of us did, and from what we now know, it’s because that’s what was in the market.  Zero choice.  But one of the first types of lettuce I discovered when I was freshly moved out of my mother’s house was Boston Butter Lettuce.  It was beautiful, delicate, and something I’d never seen before.  Although I originally saw it in small heads placed in rows upside down in the produce rack, more and more, the heads I’ve become accustomed to seeing are larger.  Much larger, and sealed safely inside plastic containers to keep them from being bruised.  I felt decadent the first time I bought a head of butter lettuce,  enjoying the tender leaves with all kinds of tasty salad ingredients, and thinking that yes, it tasted a bit on the buttery side.

During our short trip to Laguna Beach this past summer, we had a late lunch on the balcony overlooking the beach at The Beach House.  Although we both agreed the food was wonderful, I especially enjoyed the completely green salad made of a whole head of butter lettuce and all other green ingredients tucked under the leaves. Avocado, green striped tomatoes, green onions — wonderful.

When I saw the “Boston Lettuce Salad with Herbs” in the September issue of Food & Wine, I decided to make a similar version of a delicious Boston Butter Lettuce Salad.

Perfect for dinner, a special occasion, or just lunch all by yourself.

Check off your greens for the day!

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Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Basil

<img alt="Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Basil"/>

Grapefruit finds its way into my basket when I’m at the market.  I always have good intentions when I grab one or more of the pinkish-orange orbs of bracingly sweet tart fruit imagining that I’ll eat one a day.  We all know that imaging something doesn’t quite make it happen, so once home, the grapefruit are wedged to the back of the bin in my refrigerator by other seemingly more important orbs of wonderfulness or left to gather dust and sunlight each morning on the top level of my “other ingredients” rack.  Looks beautiful for a while, and then, well, it becomes yet another science experiment.

What is wrong with me?

If I had to line up citrus in the order it’s been a factor in my life, oranges would be first on the list.  This can’t be significant because my mother put them in my lunch box on most days.  She’d score the skin to make it easy to peel and I always thought that was pretty cool.  Sometimes, she’d quarter them, sprinkle them with salt and seal them in a baggie, making them extra juicy by the time lunch rolled around in my school kid day.  Makes me want an orange with salt just thinking about it.  For the sake of contrast, my sister would have lemons first on her citrus list because she ate them like oranges when she was little, right from the rind.  I still haven’t figured out how she could do that.  I’d suck on a lemon, too, but it had to be dipped in the sugar bowl first, and that was risking certain death if my mother found out about it.

Tangerines had to be next on the list because how much effort does it take to eat one?  Zero, thanks to that peeling, and seeds or no seeds, the sections come right apart.  Having lived in a beautiful place with two tangerine trees once upon a time, I am lucky to have memories of eating them sun-warmed right from the tree, and images of my youngest, still in diapers, sitting with my mother on the hill where the trees grew while she taught him to peel them.

Grapefruit was always last on the list, requiring a sprinkle of sugar to ward off the tartness just like that wedge of lemon. When I saw them in the house, I remember thinking my mother was on a diet more than it was fruit destined for me.  Thankfully I figured out how to eat grapefruit without sugar at some point in my life.  I’m thinking it was when I started teaching.  Anything that could be eaten on the run worked and became a habit because there was no time during the day to think about food — ever.

Ruby Reds probably had quite a bit to do with my learning to eat a grapefruit like an orange because they’re so sweet, but I have more time on my hands now, so can actually take the time to enjoy them with a fork and knife on a plate with avocado and a few other salad ingredients instead of having to clean up the juice that inevitably runs down my arm when I eat them from the peel.

If you’re someone who feels salad isn’t appealing at this time of year, don’t deny your body the flavor or nutrition this salad packs.  Get yourself warmed up with a cup of soup first, then dig into the salad.

No excuses.

Grapefruit and Avocado Salad with Basil and Lime

about 1/4 grapefruit and avocado per serving

fresh basil leaves

a bit of thinly sliced red onion

crumbled goat cheese

drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

squeeze of half a key lime

sea salt & cracked pepper

This salad works best on a plate for me.  Large pieces down first, then add the basil, onions, and cheese.  Lime juice before the olive oil.  Perfect with Maldon sea salt.  I like to cut it up to mix the flavors and make sure each bite has a bit of everything.

Recipe Notes:

  • Try it with cilantro or arugula instead of basil.  Substitute Feta or Cotija for the goat cheese.  Give hazelnut oil a go instead of olive oil, or maybe a bit of chili oil.  Better yet, add some very nice thinly sliced roasted red jalapenos to get beneficial capsaicin as well.  Don’t have limes?  Lemons or oranges will also taste well squeezed over this salad.  Want more of a crunch?  Add some sliced cucumbers.  Need some protein beyond what the cheese provides?  Add a bit of proscuitto.
  • This salad is amazingly good for your body.  Grapefruit — especially that Ruby Red — is full of that amazing phytonutrient, lycopene (like tomatoes — especially cooked tomatoes) which is known to help fight oxygen free radicals. They’re also packed with Vitamin C.  Read more about the nutritional wonders of grapefruit here.  Avocados do contain a high percentage of fat and we know that fat is fat as far as calories go, but it’s monosaturated fat — just like the fat in the olive oil.  However, the avocado oil is thought to increase the absorption of the lycopene, increasing its benefit.   Read more here.
  • To help with the “salad isn’t winter food” dilemma, make sure all ingredients are at room temperature.  I don’t like cold salad even on hot days so always serve salad at a reasonable room temp.
  • In other news, I just treated myself to a dwarf Meyer lemon tree for my patio.  It’s loaded with blossoms and I have just the spot for it where, when the windows are open, I will be able to smell the intoxicating fragrance.  Can’t wait.  Clearly, I’ll have even more to say about lemons than I have.

Breakfast Salad with Poached Egg and Prosciutto


I’m at that place I’m so familiar with — the place where it seems as if I’m floating on a river lazily making its way to a point in the distance.  I could swim and get to wherever there is more quickly, or I can do what I’m doing —  floating.  Knowing time will pass and I’ll get there.

And then I snap out of it.  Like this morning.

Eight days before we leave for the UK.  Eight. After months and months of planning every single tiny detail, eight days will fly by and as much as I’ve questioned and searched and adjusted to make sure everything is perfect, I swear I’ve forgotten something.  My husband has indulged my sometimes nightly litany of hairsplitting with gentle logic and comments of support.

I’m sure everything will be fine, he tells me.  The other vacations you’ve planned have been great.

Yes, but…

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