Make dinner tonight, inspired!

Wondering what to make for dinner tonight? This is your place for quick and healthy meal inspirations. Here you'll find recipes for seasonally focused dinners, desserts, breakfasts, and everything in between.

My cooking focuses on the freshest ingredients prepared in a simple and careful way, to highlight their uniqueness. My own diet is primarily vegetarian, but does include sustainable fish and seafood, and is gluten free.

Thank you for reading. I look forward to sharing some of my favorite recipes with you!

30 December 2010

Happy New Year!

Wishing you all the very happiest of New Years! May 2011 be filled with many delicious meals enjoyed with friends and family. I wish for us all a peaceful world, a strong economy, and that we will all treat one another with kindness and respect.

This marks the first full year of my Dinner Tonight blog. It has ben a true pleasure sharing so many recipes with you (118 and counting!). I have many more delicious ideas and recipes to share with you in the coming year so please stay tuned. I hope you'll keep reading and share this blog with your friends and family. I will certainly keep writing and cooking and posting for you.

Before we get started with all the new recipes, I wanted to once again share with you my top 10 favorite recipes from this past year. Perhaps these might inspire some end of year feasting for you too. I'd love to hear from you as well and what your favorites have been.


Dinner Tonight's Top 10 of 2010 (in no particular order):

Buckwheat Crepes: - Why? Because I can think of few other foods that I could eat with such frequency. They're just so darn delicious.

Pizza Festa Romana- Why? Because this pizza is simple and perfect and it reminds me of a magical night in Rome.

Roasted Carrots with Parsley, Mint, & Feta- Why? Because they're so super easy and I can't think of anything that wouldn't be great to serve with them.

Vanilla Honey Lavender Ice Cream- Why? Because it's my very favorite ice cream!

Grilled Fish Tacos- Why? Because second only perhaps to the Buckwheat Crepes, I could eat these practically every day.

Poached Eggs in Tomato Sauce- Why? Because, this is another staple in my house and a super comforting, fast, and easy dinner.

Zucchini Crudi- Why? Because it's so simple and fresh and it reminds me of summer.

Baked Butternut Squash Risotto with Kale- Why? Because I'm delighted and obsessed with this new way of preparing risotto.

Quince & Apple Crumble- Why? Because I'm a sucker for a good crumble. These are my favorite kind of desserts... fruit based and homey.

Salmon Chowder- Why? Because it's my new 'go to' soup. It's simple and light and comforting all at the same time.

19 December 2010

Dungeness Crab Cakes

It's Dungeness Crab season here in the Bay Area and I think they're especially tasty this year. The crab has been super sweet and tender... really delicious. Tonight I made my favorite crab cakes that are packed full of crab meat with very little else. They're rich and delicious and allow the flavor of the crab to shine through. Best of all, they're super easy to prepare.

Tonight I served the crab cakes with a simple pea puree and a light yogurt sauce with mustard and capers. I've included the recipes for both below as well. A little sparkling wine and it's a proper holiday season dinner with no fuss.... truly 'Dinner Tonight Style'.


Dungeness Crab Cakes:
Yields 4 large crab cakes

1/2# lump crab meat, picked clean
1/4 cup gluten free bread crumbs, plus more for coating 
1 rib celery plus celery leaves, finely diced
2 scallions, finely minced
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
2 large eggs
sea salt & freshly grated black pepper
olive oil for frying

1) In a small bowl, mix together the crab meat, celery & leaves, scallions, Old Bay seasoning, and 1/4 cup bread crumbs. Stir together to combine. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Add 1 egg and stir together with a fork until the mixture just holds together. Form the mixture into 4 equal sized patties.

2) In a small bowl, whisk the remaining egg lightly. In another small bowl, add about 1/4 cup more bread crumbs. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. While the oil is heating, dredge the crab cakes first in the beaten egg and then in the bread crumbs. When the oil is very hot, but not smoking, add the crab cakes. Turn the heat to medium high. Cook the cakes about 3 minutes on each side until the outside is deep golden brown and crispy and the middle is heated through.

For the Pea Puree:
1, 10 oz bag frozen peas
1/4 cup vegetable stock
2 TB butter
sea salt & freshly ground pepper, to taste

1) Melt 1TB butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the frozen peas and the vegetable stock and simmer until the peas are tender and very bright green, about 4 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a blender with the remaining 1 TB butter and puree until mixed but still a little chunky. Serve warm, with the crab cakes.

For the Yogurt Sauce:
1, 3oz container 2% plain greek style yogurt
1 TB whole grain mustard
2 tsp capers, drained

1) In a small bowl, stir together all the ingredients. Place a dollop of the mixture on top of each crab cake, just before serving.

(* To make enough gluten free bread crumbs for this recipe, grind up 4 slices of well toasted gluten free bread of your choosing in a food processor. Voila!)

17 December 2010


I really look forward to a good gingerbread round 'bout this time of year. Now, procuring what I deem a 'good' gingerbread can be quite an arduous task. I often find myself disappointed by the restrained flavors in most gingerbread. They're just not spicy or gingery enough for my taste.

I really want to taste that gingery bite and all the deep richness of spices and molasses. This recipe is for just that kind of gingerbread. The cake itself is quite light but the molasses gives it a sticky indulgence. The color is that of dark chocolate and just perfect for a showering of snowy white powdered sugar. I can almost see those little plastic trees and woodland creatures adorning the cake. But I shall resist such kitschy temptations this one time, if only for the benefit of you, my readers.

I encourage you to make this cake before xmas. Trust me, you'll be glad you did!

Yields 1, 9"x13" cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup boiling water
2 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsulfured molasses (not blackstrap)
2 TB fresh ginger, grated
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup blanched almond meal
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp five spice powder
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground ginger
2 large eggs, at room temperature
powdered sugar, for dusting

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9"x13" baking dish with nonstick spray and line the bottom and sides with parchment. Bring the 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the baking soda and stir to dissolve. Set aside.

2) In the bowl of a standing mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add the fresh ginger, baking soda & water mixture, and the molasses. Mix to combine and scrape down the bowl. Add the flours with the spices. Mix. Add the eggs, one at a time. Mix again to combine well.

3) Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish. Bake for 30-35 minutes until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool completely in the pan. When completely cool, invert cake onto serving plate and remove the parchment. Slice into 2" square portions. Dust the whole thing liberally with powdered sugar.

11 December 2010

Gluten Free Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have been interested in using Mesquite Flour for quite some time now. As I was recently challenged to come up with a recipe using this flour for a baking demonstration, I've been experimenting with lots of combinations of ingredients. It's really delicious. I'm almost surprised at how much I like it. That said, it's definitely a strong flavor. You would want to use it as part of a blend of flours, not exclusively on its own or I think it would overwhelm the finished item. It's similar to other strong ingredients like cumin, saffron, coconut... in that way.

Mesquite has a heady aroma, somewhat reminiscent of chestnuts and a deep earthy flavor. The color is a warm amberish gold and I think that almost describes the flavor too. It's divine and I think it's just perfect with chocolate.

This cookie recipe is simple and really highlights the unique flavor of the mesquite. These are definitely making it into all my Christmas gift tins this year. Please look for this unique ingredient. You'll be glad you did!


Gluten Free Mesquite Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Yields about 2 dozen

1 cup/ 2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar
1 cup superfine sugar
3 eggs, at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups brown rice flour
1 cup mesquite flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1) Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment. In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars. Add the eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix to combine. Add the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and mix until well combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add the chocolate chips and mix briefly until evenly distributed.

2) Using a 1 TB size cookie scoop, dollop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets. Space cookies, about 2" apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are just golden brown and the centers are still soft but just set. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheet and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

*Optional additions:

1) You can add 1/2 cup oats to the cookies. Just note that the cookies will be slightly drier and denser than without the oats. The may also be puffier and won't spread as much in the oven.

2) You can also add 1/2 cup of any chopped nut that you fancy. This will add some nice crunch to the cookies.

3) You can substitute 1/2 cup of the brown rice flour for another gluten free flour, like millet, almond, or sweet potato. If you're not gluten free, you can also use Spelt flour or All-Purpose Flour in place of the entire quantity of brown rice flour.

02 December 2010

Salmon Chowder

This recipe is from Lucinda Scala Quinn and is truly a comforting bowl of winter goodness. It's one of those wonderful recipes that manages to be both hearty and light at the same time. It really couldn't be easier too. Serve with a side salad and some crusty bread for dunking and you have a lovely weeknight meal, ready in no time at all.


Salmon Chowder:
Yields 4 generous servings

2 TB olive oil
1 leek, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
1 red onion, quartered and thinly sliced
3 small yukon gold potatoes. peeled and cut into 3/4" pieces
2 carrots, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 ribs celery, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
4 cups low-sodium vegetable stock
12 oz skinless salmon fillet, cut into 3/4" pieces
1/4 cup cream
2 TB chopped fresh dill
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

1) In a 5 quart dutch oven, heat the oil. Add the leek and onion and saute until softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, potato, salt & pepper, and cook until the vegetables are just beginning to soften, about 4 minutes more. Add the stock and bring to a boil. Simmer 6-8 minutes until the vegetables are just tender.

2) Add the salmon and simmer until opaque all the way through, about 3 minutes. Stir in the cream, just to heat through. Add the dill, reserving a sprinkle for the top of each bowl when serving. Season to taste with salt & pepper. Serve hot, sprinkled with remaining dill.

*The lovely photo is from