Spicy Food Recipes

Red hot recipes to turn up the heat in your kitchen.

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Blackened Fish Po’ Boy with Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise

If you’ve never grilled fish before, farm-raised catfish is a great one to get you started. Farm-raised catfish is available year ’round. It’s a mildly sweet, firm-textured fish that holds together well on the grill. You can also use halibut, haddock, mahi mahi, or cod. Pick whatever greens you have going in the garden, and you’ve got a meal in one.



Four 6- to 8-ounce farm-raised catfish fillets or other medium-textured fish fillets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon Red Hot Blackened Seasoning
1 recipe Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise (see below)
Four 6-inch baguettes or two longer ones, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups chopped arugula or mesclun greens


1. Prepare a hot fire in your grill.


2. Rinse the catfish fillets and pat dry. Brush with olive oil, and sprinkle with the blackened seasoning.


3. Grill the catfish for about 3 to 4 minutes on each side, turning once. Transfer the grilled catfish to a flat surface and cut the fish into chunks with a fork. To serve, lightly spread some Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise on the cut sides of each baguette. Sprinkle 1/2 cup of the arugula on top of each piece, followed by the fish. Serve immediately with a wedge of lemon.


Red Hot Blackened Seasoning



1/2 cup paprika
3 tablespoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons granulated onion
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 tablespoon dried basil
11/2 teaspoons dried thyme
11/2 tablespoons black pepper
11/2 tablespoons white pepper
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper


1. Combine all of the ingredients in a glass jar and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Shake to blend. This keeps for several months in the pantry.


Grilled Green Onion Mayonnaise



8 green onions, scallions, or small bulb onions
Olive oil, for brushing
Salt and pepper to taste
1/3 cup mayonnaise
Grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil


1. Prepare a medium-hot fire in your grill. Place a perforated grill rack over the grill grate. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.


2. Place the scallions on the perforated grill rack and grill, turning every minute or so, until the onions get good grill marks. Let cool.


3. Chop the onions and combine with mayonnaise, lemon zest, lemon juice, and basil until well blended. Serve right away or cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. 


CREDIT: From THE GARDENER & THE GRILL by Karen Adler & Judith Fertig, Running Press, May 2012

Photo Credit: Steve Legato

Crisp Vegetables and Tofu in a Spicy Sate Dressing

This salad takes its inspiration from Gado Gado, a traditional Indonesian salad made with string beans, carrots, potatoes, and eggs. The peanut-coconut dressing is addictive and can also be served with grilled meat or seafood. Make big batches to keep in the refrigerator so you can instantly whip up spontaneous and imaginative creations of leftovers and fresh vegetables over noodles.


4 to 6 SERVINGS 


1 square (1 pound) extra-firm tofu
2 English seedless cucumbers, rinsed and drained
1 medium red bell pepper, cored, seeded, rinsed, and drained
8 ounces whole wheat spaghetti
2 cups shredded or grated carrots
2 cups bean sprouts, rinsed lightly and drained
3 tablespoons olive or canola oil


Sate Dressing
3/4 cup smooth peanut butter
1 can (15 ounces) or 1 1/2 cups light coconut milk
3 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce, or to taste
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
1 1⁄2 tablespoons firmly packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, or to taste

1. Cut the tofu horizontally in half and wrap in paper towels. Put a heavy weight, such as a pot, on top, and drain, changing the towels once, while preparing the other ingredients.

2. Cut the cucumbers lengthwise in half and scoop out any seeds with a spoon. Grate or shred the cucumbers, using a hand grater or a food processor fitted with a shredding disc. Using your hands, squeeze out any excess water. Cut the bell peppers into 1/4-inch-thick slices.

3. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil in a large pot. Add the whole wheat noodles and cook for a little less time than directed on the package instructions, until al dente. Drain in a colander and rinse thoroughly under warm water. Drain the noodles again and arrange in a large deep serving dish. Arrange the cucumbers, shredded carrots, and bean sprouts in separate concentric circles on top, leaving room in the center for the tofu.

4. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high until hot, about 20 seconds. Fry the tofu halves on both sides until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Using a sharp or serrated knife, cut into slices 1/4 inch thick. Arrange over the bean sprouts and sprinkle the red pepper slices on top.


To make the Sate Dressing

1. Place all the ingredients in the bowl of a food processor, or in a blender fitted with a steel blade, and mix until smooth. Drizzle half of the sauce over the salad.


2. Pour the other half into a bowl and serve on the side. Alternatively, you may heat the sate slightly in a saucepan and serve warm on top of the room temperature vegetables and noodles.


Reprinted from: Simple Asian Meals © 2012 by Nina Simonds. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

Photo Credit: Romulo Yanes

Ceviche Peruano



1.5 pounds fresh corvina or snapper (proxy. 6 oz per person)
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon kosher salt
3/4 cups freshly squeezed lime juice
1 teaspoon rocoto pepper or any spicy pepper, add additional as needed
1 cup cooked giant corn kernels from Peru or regular corn if you cannot find this variety
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 red onion sliced thin from pole to pole

1. Cut the fish into bite-size cubes, place them in a bowl and rub them with the salt and garlic.

2. Add the lime juice and let the fish marinate for about 5 minutes.


3. Chop the rocoto pepper into small cubes and add them to the mixture as needed. Remember, you can always add more if you want it spicier.


4. Add the corn, the parsley and the red onions. Mix. It is ready to serve and you can garnish it with sweet potato slices as well as corn chips. You can also make ahead and keep it in the refrigerator for up to four hours.


CREDIT: Chef Oscar del Rivero, Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar and Latam Grill                  

Photo Credit: Adam Larkey

Tea-Grilled Wings with Hot Green Dipping Sauce

These wings are best hot off the grill. Since they cook quickly, plan to grill just before serving and then keep the tea cocktails, beers, and iced tea flowing! These wings are quite popular in the Swans Bar at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel where João Barros, the executive sous chef, added this spicy fresh green sauce for dipping. The wings have deep, intense flavors, but are not particularly hot, so the crisp clean heat of the dipping sauce is the perfect foil. Use more or less jalapeño to taste. The wings can also be broiled. They need to marinate overnight before cooking, so plan accordingly.


Chicken Wings
5 tablespoons loose-leaf black tea leaves, divided
1 1/2 cups/360 milliliters boiling water (about 212°F/100°C)
1/2 cup/120 milliliters soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce, such as nam pla
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 tablespoons Asian chili sauce, such as Sriracha
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
18 chicken wings

Hot Green Dipping Sauce
2 cups/30 grams fresh basil leaves
3/4 cup/4 grams cilantro leaves
2 to 4 jalapeño peppers, deveined and seeded
1/3 cup/75 milliliters rice vinegar
1/2 cup/120 milliliters extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt to taste
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

To make the wings

1. Place 3 tablespoons of the tea in a glass measuring cup or bowl. Add the boiling water and steep, covered, for 6 minutes. Strain and set aside to cool. Discard the tea leaves.

2. In a spice grinder or using a mortar and pestle, finely grind the remaining 2 tablespoons tea. Transfer to a medium bowl and add the soy sauce, sesame oil, fish sauce, garlic, chili sauce, and black pepper to taste. Add the cooled steeped tea and stir to combine.


3. Trim the wing tips and set aside for another use (they are great for making stock). Cut the remaining wings at the joint to separate. Place wings in a resealable plastic bag, then pour in the marinade. Seal bag and make sure wings are coated with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight or for up to 3 days, turning every 12 hours.


To make the sauce

1. In the bowl of a food processor or in a blender, combine the basil, cilantro, jalapeño, and vinegar. Process for 30 seconds, then, with the processor running, slowly add the oil through the feed tube. Scrape down the sides, add the salt and pepper to taste, then process again until smooth. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate until ready to cook the wings.

2. When ready to cook, preheat grill to medium and remove the wings from the fridge to allow to come to room temperature. Remove wings from marinade (discard marinade) and grill (if using an outdoor grill, cover-cook with the vents open) until cooked through and juices are clear, about 6 to 8 minutes per side. Serve with the sauce on the side.

CREDIT: From CULINARY TEA by Cynthia Gold & Lisë Stern, Running Press, 2010

Photo Credit: Steve Legato

Spicy Skewered Shrimp

Although pairing barbecued shrimp with fruit or vegetable salsa is not a classic Chinese practice, the two foods complement one another beautifully. I love to serve them together, wrapped in a Mandarin pancake or flour tortilla brushed lightly with toasted sesame oil. Then again, it’s also nice to serve the shrimp with any of the Easy Sides (Chapter 5) and rice.




1 1/4 pounds raw large shrimp, peeled, deveined, rinsed, and drained

Spicy Marinade
2 or 3 small hot red Thai peppers (see note below)
6 cloves peeled garlic, smashed with the flat side of a knife
1/4 cup rice wine or sake
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
10-inch bamboo skewers (6), soaked in water for 1 hour and drained
1 tablespoon olive or canola oil, or olive oil spray, for oiling the grill


1. Using a sharp knife, score the shrimp lengthwise down the back so that they will butterfly when cooked. Place in a bowl.

To make the Spicy Marinade

1. Trim the ends of the peppers, remove the seeds, and cut into thin slices. Combine the peppers with the remaining marinade ingredients. Toss lightly with the shrimp, cover, and marinate briefly at room temperature or overnight in the refrigerator.


2. Thread the shrimp onto the skewers so that they lie flat.


3. Prepare a medium-hot fire for grilling or preheat a gas grill. Arrange a rack about 3 inches from the heat. Brush or spray the grill rack with oil and arrange the skewered shrimp on the rack. Grill for 3 to 4 minutes per side, basting with the marinade, until the shrimp are cooked through. Remove the shrimp from the skewers and serve with Roasted Cherry  Tomato-Cilantro Salsa (page 134), or another of the Easy Sides in Chapter 5, and with rice or another whole grain.


Note: If fresh red peppers are unavailable, you may substitute dried. Soften in hot water for 15 minutes
and drain.

Reprinted from: Simple Asian Meals © 2012 by Nina Simonds. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

Photo Credit: Romulo Yanes

Pink Roasted Venison with Wok Seared Greens, Curry Spiced Celery Puree & Elderberry Jus.



2 loins of venison

1 head of kale
1 head of Swiss chard
1/2 head of savoy cabbage
4 diced shallots
1 tablespoon ginger puree
1 tablespoon garlic puree
50ml chicken stock
1/2 celeriac
1 onion

500ml milk
2 tablespoons of curry powder

3 tablespoons of low fat crème fraiche
juice of 1 lime
50g frozen or fresh elderberries
1 tablespoon of elderberry puree
200ml jus (recipe below)
20g brown sugar

Prep Time: 1 hour


1. Peel and cut the celeriac into small cubes.


2. In a pan, sweat onions and celeriac until they are translucent.

3. Add the curry powder.


4. Add milk and then reduce.


5. When almost reduced, put the mixture in a blender, add crème fraiche and blend until it's a smooth paste. Season to taste

Wok Greens
1. Cut all the greens into 4cmx4cm cubes.


2. Blanch in seasoned water and immediately place in ice bath.


3. In a hot wok, add the shallots, ginger and garlic.

4.  Add greens and chicken stock.


5. Cook until the stock has evaporated and the greens are hot.

1. In a pan, add puree and sugar.


2. Cook on low heat until the sugar is melted.


3. Add the jus and bring to a boil.

4. Add the berries.


1. Sear the meat hard for a nice color


2. Place in the oven at 90C and cook until it is 51C at the center (this will take around 30 - 35 minutes).


3. Take out and rest for 5 min other notes.


Credit: Fairmont's Lifestyle Cuisine Plus Menu, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Photo Credit: Fairmont Hotels & Resorts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Maple and Red Chili Glaze


1/2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
kosher salt
black pepper

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


2. Mix the Brussels sprouts with the oil, salt and pepper. Place them face down on the baking sheet.


3. Roast in the oven until the vegetables are cooked through and golden brown (about 10-15 minutes). You can turn them over once during the cooking process or just brown the one side.

Maple & Red Chili Glaze

2 tablespoons red chili sauce (sambal olek)
2 tablespoons real maple syrup

1. Mix ingredients together. Toss the roasted Brussels sprouts into the glaze and serve. 


CREDIT: David Martin, Executive Chef at The Meatball Factory

Photo Credit: Dave Martin

Bucatini Amatriciana with Bacon

The bacon and garlic flavors of this zesty, smoky dish are robust and satisfying. This is great with either bucatini or perciatelli, hollow spaghetti-like pasta. For a chef’s touch, substitute 1 pound guanciale for the bacon. Guanciale is leaner than bacon and less smokey.


SERVES 4 to 6


1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 pound smoked bacon, sliced thin and diced small
4 cloves of garlic, minced (1 heaping tablespoon)
1 large yellow onion, halved and sliced (about 1 1/2 cups)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup premium canned tomato sauce
1 cup premium crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 pound bucatini
4-ounce chunk percorino cheese for grating


1. Place 8 quarts of water in a large pot, add the salt, and set over high heat.


2. While the water heats, in a separate 12-inch sauté pan, cook the bacon over medium heat just until the fat is rendered and the bacon pieces are beginning to crisp. Don’t overcook them. While the bacon cooks, line a platter with paper towels. Remove the bacon from the pan and place on the prepared plate to drain.


3. Pour out about the bacon fat, reserving 2 tablespoons, which go back into the sauté pan. Add the onions to the pan. Sauté until brown, for 5 to 6 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes. Sauté just until the garlic is lightly browned and aromatic, 2 minutes or less. Pour in the tomato sauce and the crushed tomatoes. Reduce the heat to low, season with oregano, salt, and pepper and let simmer until the sauce thickens and the flavors meld, 15 to 20 minutes.


4. While the sauce simmers, cook the pasta. Break the bucatini in half and place in the boiling water. Cook according to the package directions, about 10 to 12 minutes. Drain the pasta, reserving one cup of pasta water. Put the pasta back in the pot and pour the sauce over the pasta. Toss to combine, and add a little of the reserved pasta water if the pasta isn’t saucy enough. Divide the pasta among 4 to 6 warmed pasta bowls. Top with freshly grated pecorino cheese and serve immediately.


CREDIT: Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist by Cat Cora

Photo Credit: Luca Trovato

Spicy Meat Sauce



2 tablespoons olive oil

1 large onion, finely diced

1 pound pork shoulder, ground

2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes,

2 teaspoons salt or to taste

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 26-ounce boxes Pomi chopped tomatoes or 2 28-ounce cans whole plum tomatoes, roughly chopped with their liquid


1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions, ground pork, red pepper flakes, and salt and cook, stirring constantly, until the meat is thoroughly cooked and the onions are soft and
beginning to brown, about 15 minutes.


2. Add the tomato paste and continue cooking for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and stir constantly until the sauce begins to boil. Continue cooking for 35 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent the sauce on the bottom of the pot from burning. Taste and season with additional salt, if desired.


Credit: THE MEATBALL SHOP COOKBOOK, a Ballantine Hardcover by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow, with Lauren Deen, (c) 2011 by Daniel Holzman and Michael Chernow.

Photo Credit: THE MEATBALL SHOP COOKBOOK, a Ballantine Hardcover

Grilled Halibut with Harissa and Ancho Chilies



2 6oz filets of halibut
3 tablespoons of harissa paste
4 tablespoons of cooking oil

1. Heat grill. Mix the harissa and oil until well blended.


2. Rub the harissa mixture on the halibut and let sit for 10-15 minutes.


3. Grill the halibut until cooked through.


Ancho Chilies
3 dried ancho chilies
6 large fingerling potatoes cut into 1/4
2 shallots sliced
Kernels from 1 stalk of corn
10 cherry tomatoes

1. Remove the seeds from the chilies and rough chop. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss with salt, pepper and oil.


2. Place in a roasting dish and roast in the oven at 450 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender.

3. Place the cooked fish over the oven roasted vegetables.


CREDIT: Executive Chef Todd Allison of Anthology, San Diego, CA.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Anthology

Tacos with Salsa Verde


1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound ground sirloin
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons gluten-free mild chili powder
1 teaspoon gluten-free ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1 cup gluten-free beef broth
4 5-inch gluten-free corn tortillas
4 gluten-free taco shells
1 cup shredded pepper Jack, cheddar, or Monterey Jack cheese
1 avocado, pitted, peeled, and thinly sliced
2 cups thinly sliced romaine lettuce leaves
2 large tomatoes, diced

1/4 red onion, minced


1. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the olive oil and the ground sirloin. Cook the meat for 1 minute without stirring. Then cook for 3 to 4 minutes longer, stirring occasionally, until most of the meat is brown. Sprinkle the cornstarch, chili powder, cumin, salt, and black pepper over the meat. Add the beef broth and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until a thick sauce has formed and the beef is tender.


2. Meanwhile, warm the tortillas and the taco shells as di-
rected on their packaging.


3. Stuff the tortillas and taco shells with the meat, and sprinkle
with the cheese. Top with your choice of avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, and/or onion, and serve immediately.


Salsa Verde



1 pound tomatillos (about 8 medium), husks removed and discarded
1/2 red onion, skin intact
2 jalapeños

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves
Juice of 1 large lime
1 teaspoon fresh oregano leaves, chopped

1/2 teaspoon salt


1. Bring a large saucepan of water to a boil. With a sharp paring knife, cut a large “x” on the bottom of each tomatillo. Place the tomatillos in the boiling water and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the skins soften but the tomatillos do not become mushy. Remove from the hot water and rinse with cold water. Drain and set aside.


2. Heat a small skillet over high heat for 1 minute. Add the red
onion and the jalapeños. Roast for 4 to 5 minutes, turning them occasionally with tongs, until the skin of the onion and jalapeños begins to blacken.

3. Remove the papery skin from the onion half and cut the
onion into quarters. Remove the seeds and stems from the jalapeños. Place the jalapeños and the onion quarters in a food processor.

4. Peel off and discard the tomatillo skins, and add the tomatillos to the food processor. Add the cilantro, lime juice, oregano, and salt, and process until smooth.


Credit: Deliciously G-Free, a Ballantine Hardcover by Eisabeth Hasselback, © 2012.

Photo Credit: Deliciously G-Free, a Ballantine Hardcover

Tomato Onion Chili Uthappam



3 cups parboiled rice (washed and soaked overnight)

1 cup urad dal (washed and soaked overnight)
1/2 teaspoon soda bicarbonate
Salt to taste


To prepare toppings:
1/4 whole tomato, chopped
1/4 whole onion, chopped
3 pieces green chili pepper, chopped


1. Having soaked both rice and dal separately, wash well with plenty of water.

2. Grind dal to a very fine paste.


3. Grind rice till fine grains are left (like very fine semolina).


4. Mix both rice and dal together after grinding.


5. Add soda bi-carobonate and salt and beat well. Add a little water if necessary. The batter should be fairly thick. Cover and keep aside for 7-8 hours, undisturbed. (preferably in a warm place)


6. Beat the curds well.


7. Add to the batter, add more water if required. The consistency of the batter should be thick enough to thickly coat on a spoon when dipped. Heat the iron griddle or non-stick tawa well.


8. Pour a spoonful of batter in the center, spread with the back of the spoon to a thin round. Pour a teaspoon of ghee or oil over it.


9. Remove with spatula when crisp. Top with chopped tomato, onion and chili pepper.


CREDIT: Chef Moindeen of Saravanaa Bhavan, Upper West Side (413 Amsterdam Ave, between 79 & 80 St)

Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar

Simple Spicy Peanut Comfort Bowl



1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
2 cups or 1 15-oz. can of drained, rinsed black beans
3 stalks kale
spicy peanut sauce
cilantro (for garnish)


1. Rinse the quinoa thoroughly and drain. Add the quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until all water has evaporated. Fluff with a fork.


2. De-stem, chop and then steam the kale for ten minutes. In a bowl, add quinoa, kale, and black beans. Pour spicy peanut sauce over it and top with cilantro for garnish.


Spicy Peanut Sauce

3/4 cup natural peanut butter
2 cloves garlic
1 cup water
2 tablespoons shoyu or tamari
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon ginger powder


1. Blend all ingredients in a blender or food processor.


CREDIT: Director/writer Marisa Miller Wolfson of the film Vegucated.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marisa Miller Wolfson

Tom Yum Koong or Tay Lay (Thai Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp or Seafood)



16 oz chicken broth            

5 oz shrimp (peeled)* or 8 oz seafood

3 slices galangal root, sliced  

2-3 stalks lemon grass, sliced

4-5 leaves kaffir lime leaves

3 oz fresh mushroom

2 oz color bell pepper, cubed

1-2 sprigs cilantro

3 tablespoons fish sauce

3 1/2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/2 teaspoon fine chopped fresh chili (or to taste)


1. Bring broth with all herbs and spices to boil.


2. Add shrimp to boiling soup.


3. Add vegetables after shrimp is about 60% cooked **.


4. Remove to soup pot from the stove.


5. Add seasoning, fresh basil and cilantro at the end. 




* I also like using clean shell to make soup stock. At home, I would make this shrimp soup with the shell on.


** Shrimp is easy to cook. It is cooked even further more with lime juice.


CREDIT: Chef Moon Kapugthong, Executive Chef and Owner of Chabaa Thai Bistro

Photo Credit: Shaun Yasaki

Lemongrass Chardonnay Clams



1 1/2 pounds live Manila clams
1/ 2 cup coconut milk
8 leaves Thai basil
3 fresh Thai chili (split)
2oz julienne fresh galangal
1oz lemongrass, cleaned and sliced
1 teaspoon garlic, chopped
3/4 cup your favorite chardonnay
1 cup chicken stock, seasoned
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
Garnishes chopped green onions & lemon wedges

1. In a medium size sauce pot, bring to a boil all the ingredients, except for the clams and Thai basil.


2. Once your seasoned stock is at a rolling boil, add the clams and cook until they are all to open.


3. Add the Thai basil.


4. Transfer to a large serving bowl and garnish with chopped green onions and lemon wedges.

CREDIT: Chris Yeo, Executive Chef and Owner of The Straits Restaurant Group.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of Straits Restaurant Group

Spiced Salmon Burgers



For Burger Patties
1.5 pounds salmon filet
1 egg
4 tablespoons bread crumbs
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon ground oregano
1 tablespoon garlic
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
4 whole wheat burger buns
lettuce and tomato (optional)

For Lime Mayonnaise
1/4 cup light mayonnaise
1 lime, zested and juiced
1 teaspoon chili powder

For Avocado Salsa
2 ripe avocados
4 tablespoons red onion, minced
1 tablespoon lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 green jalapeno, minced (optional)
1 Roma tomato, seeded and chopped

Burger Patties

1. Place salmon on cutting board and cut into one inch cubes. Place in the bowl of a food processor and add the egg, bread crumbs, cumin, paprika, oregano, garlic and cilantro. Pulse 6 to 10 times until mixture resembles ground beef. Do not over process. Season with salt and pepper and pulse one more time.

2. Divide the salmon mixture into 4 equal sized portions and shape into patties. Place on tray and refrigerate until ready to use. Can be made a day in advance.

Lime Mayonnaise

1. Mix mayonnaise, lime and chili powder together and set aside.

Avocado Salsa


1. Dice the avocado into small pieces and mix in the rest of the ingredients. It will resemble guacamole, which isn’t a bad thing.

To Assemble Salmon Burgers

1. In a large nonstick sauté pan or griddle that has been preheated over medium heat, add olive oil and place burgers in the pan. Cook without flipping for about 4 minutes then flip over and cook another 4 to 5 minutes, or until just cooked through. Remove from pan and set on tray.


2. If you would like to toast the buns, do so at this time. Once toasted, smear some of the mayonnaise on the buns and place the burgers on top. Top with some of the avocado salsa and, if wanted, more tomato, lettuce and onion.


CREDIT: Chef Reinaldo Alfonso, Executive Chef at Alma de Cuba in Philadelphia, for the Sam’s Club Simply Delicious Chef Brigade


Photo Credit: Sam's Club

Num Tok Beef (Spicy Beef Salad)



Grilled Beef

450 g beef (strip loin or any cut that well marbled)
1/4 cup fresh mint
1 tablespoon shallot, thin sliced
1 tablespoon green onion, thin sliced
1/2 - 1 tablespoon roasted ground red peppers (to taste)
2 tablespoons roasted ground rice


Salad Sauce
3 tablespoons fish sauce
4 tablespoons fresh lime juice (to taste)
1 teaspoon sugar

Side Salad as garnish
Romaine, green mix or iceberg
red, yellow or green bell pepper, sliced


1. Grill sliced beef (about 2 1/2 in length) to medium rare, as Num Tok means "Water Falls the sizzling sound from hot grill."

2. Mix grilled beef with ingredients listed above in the "Grilled Beef" section.


3. Stir together grilled beef mixture with the salad sauce, adding roasted ground rice at the end. 


3. Serve over salad bed with cilantro and mint on the side, topped with color bell pepper.


CREDIT: Chef Moon Kapugthong, Executive Chef and Owner of Chabaa Thai Bistro

Photo Credit: Shaun Yasaki

Chiles en Nogada (Chile Poblano Stuffed Chiles with Fresh Walnut Sauce)


1/4 cup corn oil

1/4 medium size white onion, thinly sliced
8 poblano chiles, ready to stuff

Picadillo (filling)

1/4 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup finely chopped white onion
1 cup blended and strained tomato
1 pound ground beef
1 teaspoon ground true cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano (Mexican, if possible)

1/4 cup raisins

1/4 cup skinless, chopped almonds
2 cups peeled, cubed plantains (approximately 3 plantains)
1 cup peeled, pitted and chopped fresh peaches (approximately 2 large peaches)
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon sea salt

Nogada (sauce)
12 fresh whole walnuts, shelled
1 ounce skinless almonds
1 cup whipping cream
7 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons very dry sherry (fino)
2 tablespoons sugar

Seeds of one red pomegranate
Flat leafed parsley leaves

For the chiles


1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When it begins to smoke, add the onion and fry until nearly burnt (it will smell delicious).


2. Fry chiles briefly—about 30 seconds each side. Remove and drain well on paper.


3. Stuff with the picadillo.

For the picadillo


1. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Fry garlic, add onions and when golden, stir in tomato. Cook until well fried—about 15 minutes. Add the meat, cook then add the remaining ingredients.


2. Adjust the salt and let cool for 20 minutes. Stuff the chiles.

For the nogada


1. Process walnuts, almonds and cream in a blender. Add cheese and continue to blend. Slowly add sherry and sugar. Occasionally stop blender and mix with a spatula to ensure that the ingredients mix thoroughly. You may think that the mixture will be too thick, but do not alter the quantities, as the recipe is exact.



Place stuffed poblanos on a platter or individual plates. Bath with the sauce and decorate with parsley and pomegranate seeds


CREDIT: Executive Chef Erwin Ramos of the Olé Restaurant Group (Olé Mexican Grill, Zócalo Cocina Mexicana, Olecito, and andalé) in Boston, Massachusetts.

Photo Credit: Image Unlimited Communications, LTD

South-of-the-Border Loaded Sweet Potato

When I'm cooking for myself, I prepare this potato with medium salsa, and it has a nice kick. Feel free to use mild or hot, as many of the contestants do.


When it comes to topping the potato with salsa, start out with 1/3 cup of fresh salsa and drain the liquid from it. It will likely only be about 1/4 cup (maybe a bit more) in the end. Note that the toppings won't fit inside the potato--they will spill out over the top, making it even more decadent to eat!




1 (8-ounce) sweet potato
4 ounces extra-lean ground turkey
3/4 teaspoon all-natural salt-free fajita or Southwest seasoning
Olive oil spray (propellant free)
1/3 cup fresh salsa, drained
2 tablespoons jarred all-natural roasted green salsa
2 tablespoons fat-free Greek yogurt


1. Using a fork, poke the potato 5 times on all sides and place it in a microwave-safe bowl or dish. Cover the dish loosely with a paper towel. Microwave it on high for 3 minutes. Carefully flip the potato (it will be very hot) and continue microwaving for 2 to 4 minutes longer, or until cooked and tender.


2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the turkey and seasoning.

Place a small nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, lightly mist it with the olive oil spray. Cook the turkey for 3 to 4 minutes, or until no longer pink, breaking it into bite-size chunks as you do.


3. Cut an opening in the potato that stretches 1" from each end of the potato and deep enough to open the potato completely without cutting it in half. Put it in a medium shallow bowl. Stuff the potato with the fresh salsa, then the turkey, then the green salsa. Top it with the yogurt. Serve immediately.


Per serving: 342 calories, 35 g protein, 47 g carbohydrates (13 g sugar), 2 g fat, trace saturated fat, 45 mg cholesterol, 8 g fiber, 304 mg sodium

Reprinted from: The Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook by Devin Alexander (c) 2011 by Universal Studios Licensing LLLP. The Biggest Loser (TM ) and NBC Studios, Inc., and Reveille LLC. Permission granted by Rodale, Inc. Available wherever books are sold.

Photo Credit: The Biggest Loser Quick and Easy Cookbook, Rodale, Inc

Angela's Ropa Vieja



Slow cooker liners (optional)

1 flank steak (1 - 1 1/4 lb.)
4 teaspoons garlic salt
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cups water
2 cups beef broth
2 - 14.5 oz. cans crushed tomatoes with mild green chiles (do not drain)
1 heaping tablespoon of minced garlic
1 cup red wine of your choice
10 oz. fajita veggies (5 sliced bell peppers and 1 large sliced
onion - add a few chopped & seeded jalapeños for added heat)
1 handful of cilantro, chopped
6 oz. tomato paste


1. In a large skillet over medium high heat, heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil(it will move in the pan like water).


2. Season flank steak on both sides with garlic salt (2 tsp each

3. Brown seasoned flank steak on each side, about 4 minutes each.


4. Place slow cooker liner in your slow cooker (optional).


5. In slow cooker, add water, beef broth, garlic, red wine &
tomatoes with green chiles. Stir well and add flank steak (you may need to cut it in half if it won’t fit all in one piece).


6. Turn slow cooker up to high heat and let cook for 6-8 hours.


7. After several hours, just before serving, add cilantro and tomato paste. Stir until tomato paste is dissolved.


8. Add fajita veggies and let cook 30 more minutes. Serve with your favorite side of black beans rice and enjoy!


CREDIT: Passion on a Plate: Easy and Affordable Gourmet by Angela McKellar

Photo Credit: Erin Connolly

Chocolate Decadence



1 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped

10 tablespoon (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 10 pieces

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 large eggs

1 tablespoon sugar

1. Have all ingredients at room temperature. 
2. Preheat the oven to 325. 
3. Grease an 8x2 round pan or heart shaped (not springform). Line bottom with wax/parchment paper.
4. Combine all ingredients in a large heatproof bowl or top of a double boiler.

5. Set the bowl in a large skillet or barely simmering water and stir often until the chocolate and butter are warm, melted and smooth. Remove from the heat.


6. Whisk in 5 large egg yolks.


7. In a separate bowl, beat 5 large egg whites on medium speed until soft peaks form. Turn the speed to high and gradually add 1 tablespoon sugar. Beat until the peaks are stiff but not dry.


8. Use a rubber spatula to fold 1/4 of the egg whites into the chocolate mixture, then fold in the remaining whites. Scrape the batter into the pan and spread evenly. Set the pan in a large shallow baking dish or roasting pan, set the baking dish in the oven, and pour enough boiling water to reach halfway up the sides of the cake pan. 


9. Bake for exactly 30 minutes; the top of the cake will have a thin crust and the interior will still be gooey. Set the cake pan on a rack to cool completely, then refrigerate until chilled or overnight.


10. To take out of its mold, slide a thin knife around the cake to detach it from the pan. Invert the cake and peel off the paper liner. Set the cake right side up on a serving platter.


11. Store in the refrigerator, but remove 1 hour or more before serving to soften.  Serve with whipped cream and fresh raspberry sauce.


CREDIT: Veronica Schultz: Owner and Gourmet Chef at Rancho de la Osa Guest Ranch in Sasabe, Arizona




Jennifer Jeanne Patterson is a freelance writer and author of 52 Fights. She lives in Minneapolis with her husband and three children. Find her blog at Unplanned Cooking.

Related: Foods for Beauty

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Photo Credit: Veronica Schultz

First Published January 5, 2012

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