Crab and Artichoke Green Salad

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

When the weather gets warm, I get food lazy. As in, I’m too lazy to actually cook, and end up just throwing together meals I can eat raw — salads, carrots and hummus, fruit… you know. And it’s okay, because the produce tastes better in these warmer months, anyway. I’m just waiting for it to get really hot, because the only good part about heat and humidity is the tomato season.

And when summer hits, you start hearing everyone talking about adventuring for some crab meat — in this part of the U.S., that means getting your hands covered in Old Bay and picking away at some Maryland Blue Crab.

My first foray into crab-eating was when I waited tables — at that seafood restaurant in Southern California, that I’ve written about so much. I know pretty much everything there is to know about seafood because of that job, and I’m generally grateful for that.

At the restaurant, we had live dungeness crabs, but in most of the salads, like around most of the U.S., we used canned jumbo lump crab meat, caught and packaged in the South Pacific (not so glamorous, but just say “South Pacific” and everything sounds better).

Now that I live so close to Maryland, pickin’ at crab is a cherished summer activity, perhaps after a beautiful day sailing or floating on a donut-shaped inner tube at the shark tooth capital of the world. If you have access to fresh jumbo lump crab meat at your grocery store, it will taste slightly less briny and will only be slightly more expensive — but otherwise, canned jumbo lump crab meat works a-okay.

The tartness from the lemon makes this salad perfect for a hot day, provided you’ve just pulled the ingredients out of the fridge. I, in fact, ate one for dinner one night, and jarred another to take to work the next day. The flavors held up perfectly.

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian

Crab and artichoke green salad // sweetsonian


Crab and Artichoke Green Salad, derived from the Fast Diet Cookbook


1 can artichoke hearts
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3.5 oz.  lump crab meat
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons minced chives
salt and pepper
1.5 teaspoons olive oil
3.5 oz (ish) arugula or mixed greens


First, remove and drain both the crab meat and artichokes from their respective cans. While they’re draining, combine the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt, pepper and minced garlic in a small bowl.  Slice the artichokes, if you prefer.

Toss the greens, chives, artichokes, and crab meat with the dressing. Serve with fresh shavings of parmesan cheese.

Italian Tuna Salad

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

It’s been a lazy couple of weeks, I’ll admit. With the government shut down, I have little to do when it comes to deadlines, and even less motivation to “get ahead” on design work.

Luckily, I work for a results driven team that can balance taking advantage of the needed breather while still being productive. Wednesday, we spent the day in Alexandria at our developers’ offices, testing our website’s almost-ready mobile responsive designs. It was nice to find myself in a design firm office — free soda, coffee and snacks in a fabulous kitchen! And, they have catered lunches once or twice each week. It’s such a step up from my government job, where we have to pay for our own water service. We don’t even have a kitchen. It kinda sucks.

So, I find myself washing the mixing bowl I use for my lunch salads in the bathroom. We make do.

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

Despite the lazy weather and lazy week, I’ve found myself pretty darn busy after the work day ends. Be it happy hours or dates or underground Thai restaurants that take you on “heat journeys” (as my supper club companions would describe) — these intimate rendezvous are what a perfect fall is made of.

Weeks ago, Emily (roommate and resident birthday girl) came home with basically a case of this amazing canned tuna — once cooked, and all canned right on the boats they’re caught on, somewhere near Moro Bay, California. It’s not your typical canned tuna, so if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some, I highly recommend it.

We’ve been on a bring-your-lunch-to-work team effort, so this Italian tuna salad was on our to-do list a week or so ago. It packs perfectly in jars, and doesn’t have a scent that permeates the entire office, which verifies that premium quality that the brand boasts.

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

Anyway, it may be a rainy weekend in DC, so you’ll find me snuggled up with a Norwegian sweater, an entire French press of coffee, and a copy of The Fault in Our Stars. I couldn’t ask for a more perfect weekend.

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

italian tuna salad // sweetsonian

Italian Tuna Salad, from Food Network

4 sun-dried tomatoes
1/4 red onion, minced
1 (12-ounce) can solid white albacore tuna in water, drained
1 rib celery, chopped
1/4 cup pitted nicoise olives
1 tablespoon capers, rinsed
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Suggested serving: whole grain breads or bountiful greens


Drain and chop your sun dried tomatoes before transferring them into a medium bowl. Then, after mincing your red onion, soak the pieces in cold water for 10 minutes — this will mellow the flavor. Drain the onions, pat dry, and add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Drain your tuna, and break it into large chunks using a fork. Toss with the celery, olives, and capers. Drizzle with olive oil, lemon zest and juice, and basil, tossing again. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve with cold greens or hot bread.

Autumn in a Jar: Kale Salad with Chickpeas, Cherries, and Pecans

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

Sooooo… the government shut down. Yeah, that happened.

Luckily for me, my department is still functioning on something called prior year funding, so I’m not furloughed… yet. As you can imagine, all of my furloughed friends are obviously invited over for dinners.

As it is, spent my lunch  break on Capitol Hill, dropping a Greek salad off for Shaeda. Sucks to be a Hill staffer right now.

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

It’s pretty much your typical, fickle fall in DC right now — we’re bouncing between chilly mornings and warm afternoons. I’m itching for the days when you know you’ll actually need your boots to keep you warm. I’ve been polishing my beloved Frye Taylors, ready to seize the day by all fifty five degrees, my perfect temperature.

You’d never know I was born and raised in California.

Anyway, wherever you are, I hope you’re getting to experience even the slightest change in seasons, because we’re almost at my favorite point in the year. Go apple picking. Snuggle up in a sleeping bag under a meteor shower. Break out the Dutch oven and start braising.

It’s gonna be a chilly fall.

In the meantime, this salad from Sprouted Kitchen is the perfect transition lunch. And, it packs really well in jars. So if you happen to be lucky enough to not be furloughed, go ahead and pack one of these for your government friends. They might be in it for the long haul.

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian

autumn in a jar: kale salad with chickpeas, cherries, and pecans // Sweetsonian


Kale Chopped Salad, adapted from Sprouted Kitchen

Parmesan vinaigrette:
1 small shallot, chopped
Juice of 1 small lemon
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Pinch of salt
1 bunch kale (Sara Forte uses Tuscan, but I just grabbed the normal variety at the grocery store)
1 apple — I used a Fiji apple
1 cup chickpeas
1/2 cup toasted pecans
1/3 cup dried cherries

Combine the shallot, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, and oil in a food processor. Grind until smooth, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

Use a paring knife to cut away the stems from the kale, and finely chop the leaves with a larger chef’s knife. Set aside in a bowl. Core and dice the apple, and then toss with the chickpeas, pecans, and cherries. Go ahead and toss with half of the dressing, adding more if you desire.

If you plan on jarring the salad for lunch, don’t toss it — just layer the dressing at the bottom and keep the kale at the top. The other details don’t mean too much.

The Real Greek Salad


When I was traveling in Norway with Silje, every now and then, we would stop in our sentences and say to ourselves: I can’t wait until we’re in Greece.

Something Silje always added on was how excited she was to have Greek salads, every day.

I kind of brushed it off, because I was more or less just looking forward to feta cheese, all day, every day.


Upon arriving in Greece, I quickly learned that I did not full understand what she meant by Greek salads. I actually ended up having a Greek salad at almost every single meal. Generally, Silje and I would each have our own Greek salads, and then split whatever the entree of the night was.

You see, here in the States, “Greek salad” could mean one of a billion things. It usually means some sort of vegetable mixture with too much dressing and a scoop of crumbled feta cheese. I’m guessing that the addition of feta just makes a salad “Greek.”

It could not be farther from the truth. Anywhere in Greece, when you order a Greek salad, you get a bowl or plate filled with the freshest of the fresh, and simpler than I could ever ask for: cucumbers, tomatoes, red onion, olives, capers, feta. No more, no less. Don’t let the impostors fool you.






The Real Greek Salad, from, well, Greece.

1 medium cucumber
2-3 smallish tomatoes
A few slices of red onion
Black olives (with pits)
Fresh feta cheese – get a block, not the crumbled.
A drizzle of olive oil
Dried oregano for garnish

This enough for one salad – multiply accordingly for how many you’re serving.

First, peel the cucumber, and then slice in half lengthwise. Cut into half-inch chunks, and set aside.

Cut your tomatoes into quarters, and slice the red onion into wedges or slivers (I forgot the red onions in the photos. Don’t hate).

Slice about a half-inch sheet off of the block of feta. Toss the tomatoes, onion, and cucumber in a pretty bowl. Throw a few capers and olives on there, and arrange your slice of feta in the center. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with some dried oregano for garnish.

Enjoy the simplicity.

One Day in Oslo


Well, friends. I’m writing from a train that’s crossing the Norwegian countryside, where I’ve also learned SO much about European geography. I’m embarrassingly bad at geography everywhere (even in the states, as exhibited by a few terrible mistakes I’ve made on maps at work), but I had trouble mixing up where Norway and Sweden were on the map.

BUT — where I lack skills in geography, I make up for in anal retentiveness for following the blue dot on my iPhone whenever I am in a moving vehicle that I’m not in charge of driving. So, after the first two hours on this train, I realized that Sweden is actually east of Norway, and the only thing immediately west of Norway is the ocean. And… we were on a train headed west, because that’s where Bergen is.

I was telling everyone in the states that I was heading north.

I’m embarrassed enough to admit that to myself. I need to work on my geography. It didn’t help that I was so incredibly overbooked with work for the past three weeks that I had to stay 30 minutes later than planned in my office, missing two buses to the airport (but saving just enough time for a slice of pizza, strictly against the health regiment I’ve been desperately attempting to make routine).

You know you need a vacation when you literally run away from your office. And this is coming from someone who loves her work so much that sixty-hour work weeks are the norm. And I do not hate my life (most of the time).



Anyway, this pretty Norwegian is showing me the best and brightest of Norway this week. After a red-eye flight to Brussels and wishing I spoke French, I landed in Oslo Friday evening. Silje brought me to her house, and we made a simple Norwegian summer dish called reker (pronounced reh-keer, simply Norwegian for “shrimp”). Recipe below, if you’d like to make your own version at home.

Since I was rather jet lagged, it felt like 3 PM for me when it was actually pretty late at night in Oslo. It didn’t help that the sun was still shining brightly at 10 PM. So we drank wine, caught up, and watched Scandal until we fell asleep. We woke up yesterday morning to a torrential thunderstorm, which we watched from an enclosed balcony. Then, we walked all over the city, had a long coffee and wine break at a waterfront restaurant, and then toured a new modern art museum. The creepy smile statue was by far the least weird thing in that museum (it was a graphic Cindy Sherman exhibit).






We’ll be exploring Bergen for a few days — many of the people I met in Oslo said Bergen would easily be one of the most beautiful places in the world if I’m lucky enough to catch it on a sunny day.

So, we’ll see. In the meantime, enjoy the photos from my first day in Oslo, and the recipe below.



















Reker — a simple Scandinavian summer dish, serves 2

~1 lb. cooked shrimp
1 or 2 whole lemons, sliced into wedges
Fresh sprigs of dill
Generously thick slices of bread, toasted or untoasted
Selections of mayonnaise – we opted to be healthy, so we chose the light version
1 large bowl for discarding shrimp heads and shells

In Norway, there’s only really a month or two of warm weather, so eating outside is a special occasion. While peeling shrimp might not seem like your favorite thing to do, it was nice to sit outside with Silje and peel shrimp together.

Remove the shrimp heads and peel the shells, discarding the waste in a large bowl.

Spread a healthy serving of mayonnaise onto your slice of bread, and then arrange the shrimp on top. Garnish with a few sprigs of dill, and squeeze the juice of a couple wedges of lemon over the whole thing.

Eat with your hands like an open sandwich, or use a knife and fork if you prefer to stay clean. It can get messy.

I guess it really depends on how hungry you are.

Ahi Poke Salad


As I creep into my late twenties — and my fourth year living in DC — people from California have begun asking a question that I wholeheartedly despise: So, when do you think you’re moving back to California?

Uh, never.

And then the next thing that happens, well, is usually some sort of accusation of being a crazy person. Eye roll.

While I do love California and all of the wonderful things it has to offer, I love my life on the East Coast. So, this is my proclamation: I am pretty damn sure I’m staying on this coast. And I’ve done a pretty good job of convincing West Coasters to move east.



On the other hand, I will never hesitate to admit that California is a wonderful place — the weather’s nice (in L.A., anyway) and the food is just on its own spectrum.

I waited tables at a restaurant in Calabasas in college, when I spent a year or so living at my parents’ place. It was a seafood restaurant, so my knowledge of edible marine life really peaked at age twenty-one. It’s been dwindling since then.

ANYWAY, one of my favorite dishes at that restaurant was an Ahi Poke (pronounced like “pokey”) salad — a Hawaiian dish that I had never encountered before I started working there. I didn’t cook much back then, because, surprise surprise, I was a work-a-holic, but I do remember asking the sushi chef for the recipe for the day when I would no longer be working at King’s. But, alas, I never managed to get that recipe.

So, I set off on my research and tasting spree. The Ahi poke salad at King’s was so spicy that I’d pretty much cry every time I inhaled the soy sauce and wasabi aroma.

After inspecting at least fifteen ahi poke recipes online, I set my mind to ingredients and taste-tested in my kitchen until I was on the verge of wishing I was still waiting tables at King’s. But just the verge.

Naturally, these measurements are estimates — if you decide to make this dish on your own, taste the sauce as you go, and add elements to get to the level of spice that you’re comfortable with. These measurements will give you a moderate amount… but if you want to be crying as you eat it, just pile on the chile oil and wasabi paste.



Ahi Poke Salad, from my memories of waiting tables at King’s Fish House

3/4 to 1 lb. Ahi (Yellowfin) tuna steak
3 to 4 green onions, finely chopped
1 small Japanese cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tsp. sesame oil
2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 tablespoons black (or white) sesame seeds
1 tablespoon wasabi paste
1 avocado
handful of macadamia nuts — do not skip these. They really make the salad.
Dried seaweed crumbles for garnish

Using a very sharp knife, slice your Ahi steak into half-inch cubes. Set aside in a glass bowl, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate.

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the green onions, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili sauce, sesame seeds, and wasabi paste. Whisk together until the chili sauce and the wasabi are evenly mixed into the sauce. TASTE AS YOU GO, and adjust the levels of wasabi and chili sauce accordingly.

Dice your avocado into half-inch cubes as well, and then add the avocado, macadamia nuts, cucumber, and diced tuna to the Poke sauce. Toss until everything is covered in the Poke sauce, and serve with forks or chopsticks.

Watermelon, feta, and balsamic vinegar


Quick lunchtime update: I may or may not have just eaten a pound of watermelon for lunch.

Normally, I’m a big advocate of eating fruit as-is. But these watermelon and feta salads are just all over the internet, so we made one this weekend just to try it out.

It’s a winner. I understand why they’re everywhere now.


Watermelon and Feta Salad — this is pretty simple.

Crumbled feta cheese
Balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper

Slice your watermelon however you like it. For presentation, I thought a stacked salad would be nice. Arrange your watermelon on a heap of arugula, top with crumbled feta, salt and pepper, and then drizzle just a little bit of balsamic vinegar on the plate.

A few updates… and an Avocado, Tangerine, and Feta Salad


Before we get started with another delicious recipe, I thought I’d catch you all up on some housekeeping.

As you probably already know, my longtime companion, Google Reader, is going kaput. While I was initially grumpy and heartbroken, Google Reader’s announcement drove me to Feedly, which is basically what Google Reader would have been if Google had only invested in its design.

Anyway, get Feedly. The fonts are better, the colors are better, and you have more control over what your reader looks and feels like. Just… trust me.

Also, if you’re following Sweetsonian on Google Reader, please make sure to forward Sweetsonian to Feedly, or whichever RSS reader you decide to go with.

When you do so, be sure to subscribe to — NOT just We want to make sure everything gets transferred correctly now, right? I won’t try to explain why the internet works this way, because, well, that’s probably not why you came to this blog.

In other news, this girl is moving! I’m not moving to New York City quite yet, but for the moment, I’m headed to an adorable two-bedroom apartment near Dupont Circle. I’ll be sharing my home with a few different people over the course of the next year, but the ultimate goal is to eventually turn that second bedroom into a full-time design studio for my freelance business… let’s say, in three or four years.

I’ve decided to put New York on hold for the moment. I kept going back and forth with my big city obsession and my first true love — Washington, D.C. And, things don’t seem to be aligning quite perfectly with New York yet, so Sweetsonian will stay an indefinite while longer in this pretty little town.


While there is no doubt I’m going to miss the home I’ve made on Capitol Hill, the drive back to Dupont comes from a few different directions — a natural, demographic shift of my friends to Northwest DC, a desire to downsize, and just an overall change in priorities as I get older. I wanted a more permanent home; something that I could really grow into a personal sanctuary.

And obviously, the first thing on my mind was “how good is the lighting for food photography?” The answer to that is AMAZING. Even though I’ll be shooting photos from my bedroom, the apartment layout makes it easy to shoot a beeline from the kitchen to the makeshift photography studio I’ll be setting up at my desk.

So, you’ll probably notice a change in my writing, as major life changes tend to draw out sentimental, reminiscent tones. And as I count the number of boxes my life fits into, I’m sure things will get more and more real.

I guess that’s that. Go on. Go ahead, and make the switch to Feedly. Everyone’s movin’ around, in one way or another.



Avocado, Tangerine, and Feta Salad, inspired by Food & Wine

1 ripe avocado
2 tangerines
A few handfuls of baby arugula
Feta cheese

2 tablespoons lime juice (freshly squeezed, as always, is the best)
1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste


It’s a fresh salad, so my directions will be brief.

In a jar, combine the lime juice, vinegar, honey, and olive oil. Secure the lid, and shake vigorously.

Peel your orange with a sharp paring knife, leaving as little of the white rind as possible. You could technically peel like with your fingers, like you would normally with a citrus, but the knife effect is much prettier. Slice your avocado — to get the nice, slender slices, I quarter the avocado, and without cutting through the skin, slice each quarter into three or four slices. Then, I peel the skin off. This leaves you with nice, clean salad-style slices.

Dress a room temperature or chilled plate with the arugula, sliced avocado and tangerines. Drizzle with dressing, and top with crumbled feta (you could also use goat cheese if you hate on feta), salt and pepper.

Shredded Brussel Sprout Slaw

Save the years when Christmas is all about gifts (aka childhood), I’ve never considered myself much of a gifter.

Don’t get me wrong — I absolutely love giving gifts. Making someone else happy is probably the best feeling in the world.

But after I went through college and learned that I had to learn how to support myself, I realized how trivial it was to be grown up and making lists of things that I wanted other people to buy for me.

Because, you know what? Things are just things. If they were that important to me, I should be able to buy them myself.

That’s just my opinion, anyway. To each her own.

I’ve always been a fan of doing things myself. Making my own lunches, designing my own invitations, and growing my own vegetables — these are things I’ve been into lately.

For the past few years — basically, since I started supporting myself — I haven’t been so much into giving or getting gifts. Gifting season often gets out of hand; and I realized so much when my family set a ten-dollar limit to Christmas. Children were the exception, and there were and still are only two. For the kids, we go crazy. But for the grown-ups, we keep it simple.

It basically converted Christmas into the family’s cheap booze exchange, which I have no complaints about whatsoever. When I only have a few days in California, I either drink it with my family as fast as I can, or fork over a few bills to check a suitcase filled with wine back to DC, where I drink it with my friends over homemade dinners as fast as we possibly can.

Despite the facets of gift-giving getting ridiculously out of hand, I think it’s safe to say that the feeling you get after giving a really good gift is one of the best feelings in the world.

This year is the fourth Thanksgiving I’ll be spending away from home. I’ll be thousands of miles from my family, just three hours ahead, but part of going off on your own and not looking back means taking some things into your own hands.

Thanksgiving will be at my house this year. This will be on the menu. I recommend it.

Shredded Brussel Sprouts with Lemon Mustard Dressing (adapted from the New York Times)

2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard (my favorite whole seed version)
Zest and juice of one lemon
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound brussel sprouts, fresh
2 apples of your choice — the tart ones are best
1 shallot, finely diced


If you have a food processor with a shredder, then trim the ends off of your brussel sprouts and just shred away. For those of you like myself, you can just chop them up. The easiest way is to first slice each sprout in half, and then, starting at the top of the sprout, make skinny horizontal slices until you reach the end, at which point, you can just toss the end of the sprout in the trash.

Also finely dice your apples, and the shallot. Toss them in a mixing bowl, and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve it all up.

Combine all of the  dressing ingredients in a bowl or a mason jar, and stir or shake until completely mixed.

Toss the salad right before serving, or let it sit in the dressing for about 30 minutes to make it more of a slaw. Dress with some pretty apple slices, and enjoy the rest of your Thanksgiving dinner.