Big City Life · Chicken Recipe · Summer · Tex-Mex Recipe

It’s Summer!!

Admittedly, I have a love/hate relationship with summer these days. As a kid growing up in Texas, summer meant a lot of time spent in the swimming pool and lounging around without a care in the world. These days, I practically melt in the heat and humidity of New York City. People tend to get agitated in this heat and take their frustrations out on whoever is nearby, even perfect strangers. In fact, the other day I was walking across the street and had to pass behind a car that was sitting in the intersection. Other people were crossing the street coming the opposite direction, so I stayed to the right. One girl who was walking the opposite direction wanted to walk where I was. I couldn’t move because I had the car directly to my right and other people coming toward me on the left. She was clearly unhappy to have to go around me and elbowed me in the ribs as she passed. No joke. Things like this happen all the time in a packed city like this, but it happens much more often when we have to endure sweltering heat and humidity.

I do realize that I come from a state where the summer heat can only be described as Hell-like, and it has been pointed out to me more than once that I should be used to this heat. I respond to that by explaining that we do not just walk around and hang out in the summer heat in Texas. People there have cars with A/C, houses and workplaces with central A/C that is usually set to arctic temperatures, and swimming pools and/or clean lakes and springs are not hard to come by.  By contrast, in New York we walk and ride subways where the platforms are saunas and the subway cars themselves may or may not be air conditioned but it doesn’t matter anyway because most of the time you’re packed in so tightly that it’s still hot and you’ve got no less than 2 people (if you’re lucky enough to get a seat) pressing against you, sweat and all. Now let’s talk about the window units they call A/C. The majority of us city dwellers live in old buildings and central A/C didn’t exist when the buildings were constructed. So, we buy heavy boxes we call “window units” and precariously prop them in a partially opened window with the majority of the unit hanging outside of the window. The only things holding the units in are the window pulled down over the top of it and a couple of flimsy accordion-looking extensions on the sides that may or may not be screwed into the window sill. I’m truly surprised these things don’t fall out of windows and hurt passersby all the time. I’m not an engineer, though, so I just go with it. Anyhow, window units don’t have much power at all. You get a really hot day, and these rinky-dinky A/Cs barely put a dent in the temperature of your apartment. And the swimming situation…the only free options are the crowded public pools, where the water is at least 50% urine, or the Hudson or East Rivers, where you run the risk of developing gills or a third eye after swimming in them. Nice, private swimming pools are hard to come by, so they charge an arm and a leg for you to use the facility for one day and they’re sometimes just as crowded as the public pools. Basically, summer in New York means sweating for 3 months straight.

OK, rant over. I actually do love certain things about summer, and NY. I love the longer days, the hordes of puppies being walked at any given time, the smell of flowers when I pass the community garden down the block from me, and having a nice cold glass of white wine or rose on a patio while people watching is one of my favorite summer activities. People watching doesn’t get much better than New York in the summer. Most of all, though, I love the food (you probably saw that coming). When it’s hot out, I crave light, citrusy dishes, lots of seafood and summer vegetables and herbs…mmmmm.


On that note, I developed this recipe for National Nutrition Month back in March. It was intended to go on my company’s internal blog, but they ran out of space and didn’t post it. I hate to waste a good recipe, though, so here you go! Using whatever chicken leftovers you might have – grilled, baked, rotisserie – you can make these chicken fritters and eat them on a salad, make a sandwich or wrap with them, or just eat them alone as a hearty snack.  They are loaded with summer veggies, both canned and fresh, that can be swapped out for what you have in your fridge or pantry. I’ve also included the recipe for a tangy chimichurri that is a perfect complement to the fritters…and really everything. These don’t last long in my house, so hopefully you enjoy them too!

Southwest Chicken Fritters
Yields: about 8 fritters, each = 151 cal, 10g protein, 6g fat, 15g carbs, 3g fiber
1 ½ cups shredded chicken
½ cup canned low sodium black beans
½ cup red bell peppers, diced
½ cup shredded zucchini
½ cup corn kernels
½ avocado
Juice and zest from ½ lemon
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro (or 2 tsp dried cilantro)
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large eggs, beaten
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (or 3 slices of toasted bread chopped in food processor)
1 tsp cumin
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
  1. With a fork, mash up the beans and avocado.
  2. Add all other ingredients and mix well.
  3. Put in fridge and chill for about 10-15 minutes (while you make the rest of your meal and/or the chimichurri sauce below).
  4. Form mixture into patties about the size of a small burger patty.
  5. Lightly spray a non-stick skillet with cooking spray or olive oil.
  6. Cook patties over medium heat for 4 minutes on each side.
Chimichurri Ingredients
1 cup fresh cilantro
2 tsp dried oregano
2 Tbsp minced onion
4 cloves garlic
Juice from ½ lemon
½ cup olive oil
½ jalapeno
Salt & pepper to taste
Either toss all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until smooth, or finely chop all dry ingredients then stir in remaining ingredients.


BBQ Recipes · Big City Life · Summer · Tasty Sides

Summer BBQ-ing

To me, nothing says summer like putting some burgers and hot dogs on the grill and having a few beers or rose wine. I grew up in the suburbs of Dallas, which is very landlocked, so rather than spending the summer at the beach, the good old fashioned BBQ is just what we did.  Now that I live in New York, it’s a little more challenging to throw a BBQ. We live in tiny apartments that rarely have access to outdoor space, with the exception of our small fire escapes. While people have been known to try and grill on fire escapes, it is dangerous and illegal. I recently moved to an area with public grills nearby. They are first-come, first-served, so we have to get there early to stake out a spot with a grill and then be willing to throw elbows to defend our spot, but I’m excited just to have the opportunity to do a little BBQ-ing this summer.

For the 4th of July, we made our way down to the grills early only to find that the city was not allowing their use on that day. I completely understand why they wouldn’t want that liability…the grills are located along the East River where the Macy’s fireworks were taking place, so a big crowd was a sure thing. We were a bit bummed, though. Luckily, all we needed to grill were the turkey burgers, so we just ran up and cooked them on my stove and brought them back down where everyone was already snacking on guacamole and sides.


I’m going to be honest, the stars of any BBQ for me are the sides, but they can be pretty unhealthy. My personal favorite is potato salad, complete with loads of mayo. For our 4th of July gathering, we were planning to be out in the heat all day, so I tried my hand at a mayo-free version and I can honestly say that I might just like it better. It was delicious, healthier, and you don’t have to worry about it spoiling after sitting out for a couple of hours.

I also make turkey burgers that are tasty and juicy. My major complaint with lean turkey burgers is that they tend to be dry…not the case with these babies. As noted above, they can easily be cooked in a skillet on the stovetop if you don’t have access to a grill, too.  Recipes for both are below. Enjoy!

Turkey Burgers

1 lb ground lean turkey

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 medium yellow onion, minced

1/2 jalapeño, minced (optional)

A few dashes of Worcestershire sauce

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

Combine everything in a bowl until well mixed. I find it’s easiest just to use your hands. Form patties and cook on stove or grill until cooked all the way through. On average, 5 minutes per side on the stove over medium heat or on the grill is good, but it depends on the thickness of your patties, so just make sure there’s no pink in the middle. If you have a thermometer, the center of the patty should be 165*.

Potato Salad

2 lbs potatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

3 slices lean center cut bacon

1/2 medium yellow onion, diced

2 tbsp whole grain mustard

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider or red wine vinegar

1 tbsp honey

Salt & pepper to taste

Boil potatoes until fork-tender but not mushy. Drain water from potatoes in a strainer then rinse with cold water to stop cooking. Cook bacon until desired level of crispness, then place on paper towel. Sauté onion in same pan until translucent. Chop bacon into small pieces and combine with potatoes and onion in large bowl. In separate bowl, combine mustard, olive oil, vinegar, and honey and whisk together. Pour mustard mixture over potatoes and mix well.  Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve or chill in fridge.