Foil Packet Soy-Lime Salmon with Green Beans

So, technically, I made this salmon in a parchment packet and not a foil packet (because who runs out of foil? me!), but who’s counting? What really matters is that this dinner was fast, easy, delicious, and nutritious.

When Jesse asked what was for dinner and I told him salmon he got that sad puppy dog look. It’s not that he doesn’t like seafood/fish, he just isn’t ever really excited about it. He definitely changed his look after the first bite. The foil (or parchment) locks in the moisture and the flavor leaving you with a perfectly cooked salmon filet and flavorful green beans.



Best Fajita Marinade

Whew!! It’s been a busy couple of weeks. As I mentioned in my last post, my in-laws flew all the way from Ohio to visit us here in China. Never having been to China (as I think is the case for most Americans!), they wanted to do lots of sightseeing. During their 2 week visit we did a lot of traveling. First we flew to Hong Kong, where we walked Nathan Road, road to the top of the peak, shopped till we dropped at the Ladies Market in Mongkok, and just generally wore out the bottoms of our shoes. After Hong Kong we had just 2 days of rest in Suzhou before hopping on a high-speed train to Beijing. In Beijing we climbed the Great Wall, walked in THE Water Cube, toured the Forbidden City, walked Tiananmen Square, and, of course, ate the most delicious noodles ever!

By the time we got back to Suzhou we had just enough time to squeeze in one last bit of excitement – by riding the scooters to Guanqian during rush hour. If you know Suzhou, you know how crazy that is! Needless to say, I’m exhausted! I *almost* didn’t even have the energy to write this post, but I had to because I couldn’t wait any longer to share this recipe!

I first made this marinade last month and I was blown away by the flavor! My search for the best fajita marinade is now over. This keeps the meat (chicken or steak)  juicy and provides just the right amount of heat and citrus. The key/secret to this marinade is the zest. Donna, from Apron Springs, wrote up a great post about it so if you’re interested in reading about why she chose zest over juice, check it out!


Here are a few more great marinade/sauce ideas to add variety to your chicken/fish/beef!
Southwest Marinade
Lemon Greek Chicken
Grilled Marinated Mahi Mahi

"Faux"-jito for Krystal’s Virtual Baby Shower

Have you ever met a person and immediately felt like you’ve known each other for ages? That’s exactly what happened when I met my dear, sweet friend, Krystal. She is the kind of person that just immediately makes you feel comfortable. Granted, we had chatted online before but it was still just like hanging out with an old friend when we finally met in person at the Foodbuzz festival in November. Since she is also a SoCal girl, it luckily wasn’t the last time we got to hangout “in real life”. Just a few weeks before I left for China we got to meet up again and of course we had a blast (what’s not fun about sharing tacos then rounding out the evening with a trip to Ghiradelli to share a peanut butter sundae??).


Krystal and her husband, Eric (who I also got to meet, just as awesome and friendly as his lovely wife), are expecting their first child. They’ve decided to go “Team Green” and wait until the baby, who they lovingly call Cookie, is born to find out the gender. I just think that is awesome. Like the ultimate surprise.
Now here is the part where I have to make a little confession. When Krystal and I were together last month she mentioned off hand that our friend Joelen has asked Krystal if she could host a virtual shower in honor of Cookie. Knowing that I was getting ready to be living in a hotel for the next month or so I decided to cheat and make something before I left. Then I received the email from Joelen and she wanted to celebrate Krystal and Eric’s culture by asking us to share Filipino or Cuban treats for the virtual shower. What I had made didn’t really fit the theme, so I really had to put on my thinking cap.
Not having access to a full kitchen meant I needed to get creative. I finally decided that easiest thing to make would be a beverage. I googled Cuban beverages and one of the first results was Mojito. Absolutely perfect, I thought! Even supports the Team Green colors! I just tweaked it a little to make it nonalcoholic so it would be baby shower friendly. Thus was born the “Faux”-jito. From there I just had to find the ingredients.
We are in Hong Kong right now to reset Jesse’s visa and it was surprisingly easy to find a street vendor that sold both limes and mint. Thanks to that and the mini-bar, sugar packets, plug-in kettle, and hotel ice bucket, I quickly had a “Faux”-jito fit for a virtual baby shower.
So congratulations, Krystal and Eric! I couldn’t be more excited for you. Cookie is going to be one lucky kid to have parents as awesome as the two of you. Be sure to check out Joelen and Krystal’s blog to see all of the other fabulous Filipino and Cuban treats made for this special occasion!
¾ lime, cut into 3 pieces, plus more for garnish
5-6 fresh mint leaves, plus more for garnish
Ice cubes
4 ounces simple syrup*, or sugar cane juice, if you have access to it
4 ounces club soda/soda water
*Mix equal parts of sugar and boiling water. Stir until all of the sugar has dissolved.
To the bottom of a glass add the lime and mint. Using a spoon, press down on them and poke them around (muddle) to release the lime juice and mint flavor. Add the ice cubes. Add the simple syrup and club soda and stir. Garnish with more mint leaves and lime.

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

I’ve already posted 2 awesome snacks from our Bayday (Soft Pretzel Bites and Veggie Pizza Appetizer) but we certainly couldn’t survive the hours at the beach on salty, savory, treats alone. Nope. We needed something sweet. Usually when I think about a sweet dessert to share with a group my mind jumps straight to chocolate. And don’t be fooled, last minute I did whip up some brownie bites, but for the main attraction I had a vision of a light and summery cupcake. From there I decided on Strawberry Lime Cupcakes.

The recipe I used for the cupcake caught my eye right away (well, pretty much anything that uses cream cheese does that). You might be skeptical, but I used cream cheese in a coffee cake once and the result was a moist and tender crumb, I figured that would be perfect for my cupcake base. I made a few changes to really up the strawberry flavor and sub lime for lemons and I think that was a good decision.

Strawberry Lime Cupcakes

(Cupcake adapted from Cooking Agents; Frosting Sunny Side Up Original)



8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups sugar
2 tbsp lime zest
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lime juice
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/3 cup strawberry puree* **
1/4 cup whole milk
2 cups cake flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

*I used a pint of strawberries which made about 1 cup of puree. I processed the strawberries in my food processor and then pressed through a mesh sieve to remove the seeds. This process really helped to concentrate the strawberry flavor (more so, I think, than fine chopping alone)

** The original recipe called for 1/4 cup of vegetable oil instead of strawberry puree. I accidentally poured a little too much (1/3 cup) which is why my measurement reads 1/3 instead of 1/4. If you live in a really humid environment maybe cut it back to 1/4.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Prepare cupcake pan with liners.

Sift together the flour, baking powder and salt, set aside. In a measuring cup combine the strawberry puree, milk, lemon zest, lemon juice and vanilla, set aside.

In a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle, beat the cream cheese and butter with sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating after each addition. Gradually add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with the liquid ingredients in 2 additions, ending with the flour mixture. Careful not to over mix.

Fill cupcake liners about 2/3 full. Bake for about 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Remove from pan and cool completely on a wire cooling rack before frosting.

Strawberry Lime Frosting


8 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup strawberry puree
1 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp lime zest
1/4 tsp salt


Beat together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth, adding more powdered sugar to achieve desired consistency. (Just be careful not to cover your kitchen in powdered sugar, which has never happened to me)

Garnish cupcakes with chopped strawberries and lime zest.