Dessert/ Dinner

Spontaneous Entertaining

Well going over to Ryan’s parents house for dinner tonight somehow turned into yours truly cooking dinner for six in our tiny condo!!!! What was my reaction?? SO EXCITED!

I loooooove cooking for other people. I have looked forward to the day when I could finally entertain people at “my house” and tonight was the first time! I’ve never cooked dinner for Ryan’s family before and I’ve never cooked dinner for that many people before either! I’ll admit, things got a little hairy when I found out about this while laying by the pool around 2:30 this afternoon (oh wait, can you make dinner for everyone here tonight?) but we whipped into action very fast.

Ryan and I devised the menu, which was such:

Homemade ceviche with blue corn chips

Mediterranean baked grouper

Cuban garlic yucca

Salad with greek feta dressing (store bought organic dressing)

More vegan carrot cake!

And then I hopped in the car to go buy all the ingredients, except for the fish which was caught by Ryan yesterday! Ryan, being the amazing boyfriend he is, stayed home and cleaned the entire condo top to bottom while I shopped. 🙂

When I got home I marinated the HUGE grouper fillets in a mixture of:

  • olive oil (bout a cup or so)
  • lemon juice (juice of 2 lemons)
  • big handful of chopped oregano
  • big handful of chopped rosemary
  • about 6 cloves garlic, minced on microplane
  • pinch of sea salt and pepper


I couldn’t believe that all this came from just ONE fish. Ryan said it was one of the largest grouper he has ever seen or caught. He had to dive down to 70 feet below and swim into an underwater cave to get this big fellow! He got it RIGHT when he was officially running out of air in his tank and had to make a beeline to the surface. What can I say? My man is an underwater hunter! 😉

Here’s “Clyde”—

Ryan and Paul—–the true fishermen! 😉

ryan and paul.jpg

After it had marinated in the fridge for most of the afternoon (flipped occasionally), I topped each piece with storebought pesto, chopped sundried tomatoes, chopped kalamata olives and a sprinkle of feta cheese. Baked at 375 for about 30 minutes.



And then there was the YUCA! I have always loooved yuca at Cuban restaurants but never really knew how to prepare it myself. Well I called Margaret, the Cuban food guru, and told me her very authentic recipe that her Cuban mother-in-law prepares all the time. Basically you just buy two bags (16-ounces each) of frozen yuca (I bought Goya brand) and simmer it for about 1.5-2 hours until VERY tender. When its done, strain it, season it with sea salt & pepper and then pour over a half cup of extra virgin olive oil mixed with about three garlic cloves, grated on the microplane. Mix well to combine. Serves ~ 8

And Ryan and I made fresh ceviche together with the snapper he caught!


Neither one of us ever had made it before but it was very quick and easy…not to mention healthy & delicious!


  • dice up fresh fish into small cubes, we used about 1.5 lbs of snapper. Be sure to use the freshest fish possible since you aren’t actually cooking it!
  • Mix 1/2 cup fresh lime juice with the fish cubes. Set aside for about 15 minutes in the fridge to marinate.
  • Mix another 1/4 cup lime juice + 1/2 cup clam juice in a large bowl with a big bunch of chopped cilantro, 2 diced serrano chilies, 1 chopped red onion, 2 diced tomatoes, pinch salt
  • Add the fish and let marinate for about an hour or so before serving. The acidity in the lime juice actually “cooks” the fish—how amazingly cool is that??!

And I made a big salad with greens, toasted almond slices, cucumber and cherry tomatoes—-

In the midst of this preparing, I took a moment to make a snack. “pb mousse” made with an Oikos & 2 tbsp PB2 with fresh watermelon!

Everyone arrived around 6:15 and happily dug into the ceviche and the 2 bottles of French red table wine that I bought—

IMG_0916.JPG IMG_0917.JPG
My plate with a little ceviche + organic corn chips!

And then when the fish was out of the oven we all headed outside to eat at the tables near the pool. It was great except for a few ‘squiters here and there 😉
My plate!

Not to toot my own horn, but everything came out awesome!!! My favorite was the yuca…..soooo good but also so heavy! This sits like a rock in you and I got so full after eating all of it that I couldn’t finish all my fish. I also had two small glasses of wine throughout the evening. 🙂
Of course I saved room for dessert though! Leftover vegan carrot cake! YUM!
Again, being the amazing boyfriend that he is, Ryan cleaned all the dishes and kitchen while I sat with everyone in the living room. Awww
I am full, exhausted and already sore from all the lunges that I did this morning!!! Time for bubble bath + elastic weight jammers. NOW.
***Another E-Cookbook? Yes, Please!!***
I’m SO happy you all expressed interest in another e-cookbook!!!! Please send any easy weeknight dinner recipes + photos (vegetarian or not) to . I will be accepting recipes until Sunday, June 21st. To all of you that didn’t know about or participate in the dessert e-cookbook I did about three months ago—-you are missing out! I collected about 85 delicious dessert recipes from readers and then I worked to put them all in a handy e-cookbook to sell for Team in Training donations. I think we raised about $1,500 JUST on e-cookbook sales alone. I was floored with everyone’s generosity and I hope this next book will be met with an equal amount of enthusiasm!!

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  • Fancy
    June 14, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    Your dinner was such a success! You should feel very proud 🙂

  • rachel
    June 14, 2009 at 9:46 pm

    that whole meal sounds delicious! I have always wanted to make my own ceviche. glad it’s so doable.

  • Emily (A Nutritionist Eats)
    June 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    What a great meal! I love ceviche but I have only made it with cooked shrimp – I’m a little leary about “fresh” fish in Minnesota 🙂

  • Bec
    June 14, 2009 at 9:53 pm

    everything looks fantastic, such a great quick dinner party!

  • Courtney (The Hungry Yogini)
    June 14, 2009 at 9:55 pm

    What a GORGEOUS dinner spread! It’s always so fun to cook for others. Glad you had fun!

    Night girl!

  • Matt
    June 14, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    Dinner looks good. I wish I was invited!

  • Megan (Runner's Kitchen)
    June 14, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Looks like you hosted a great dinner party 🙂 I’m interested in learning more about the lime acid – cooking process of cerviche. Food science is so cool!

  • Holly (The Healthy Everythingtarian)
    June 14, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    look at you miss fancy – it all looks delicious! congrats on the first dindin party!

  • Jess
    June 14, 2009 at 10:01 pm

    What a delicious, lovely meal!
    Yum, yum!
    <3 jess

  • Adi (
    June 14, 2009 at 10:09 pm

    I’m not sure why, but that snapper picture made me laugh! I’ve never seen a fish like that before! I’m sure he tasted great, though. 🙂

  • Jocelyn
    June 14, 2009 at 10:19 pm

    looks so good! You guys are pro!

  • Meredith (Pursuing Balance)
    June 14, 2009 at 10:25 pm

    Nice menu! I love cooking for others too 🙂

  • Katharine
    June 14, 2009 at 10:27 pm

    Hi Jenna,
    Quick question: what is the difference between the Amazing Grass and the Amazing Meal AND which one do you think is better in your smoothies? I am thinking of buying one or the other and I just wanted your opinion! Thanks so much! FANTASTIC looking dinner BTW 🙂


    • jenna
      June 14, 2009 at 10:44 pm


      Well, Amazing Grass is the company that produces Amazing Meal. Amazing Meal IS Amazing Grass. 🙂 However, Amazing Grass also makes a product just called “SuperFood” which is JUST the greens without the blend of rice and hemp protein that Amazing Meal offers. Amazing Meal is more of a substantial product because it contains protein powder PLUS greens so if you are looking to add something to your smoothie, I would say try the Amazing Meal over the SuperFood just because you get more bang for your buck!

  • Emily L.
    June 14, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Homemade ceviche. SO IMPRESSED!
    I’ve got a couple good weekday recipes, I’ll work on writing ’em up and send them this week. Can’t Wait!

  • Emily (Healthy Fit Mama)
    June 14, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Wow – what an amazing dinner, especillay for something that was thrown together last minute!!

  • Victoria
    June 14, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    WOW to Ryan catching that huge fish, and you making that gorgeous feast! I know how you feel. When we bought our house all I could think about was how fun it would be to entertain and feed people in it!

  • Shannon, The Healthy Beach Bum
    June 14, 2009 at 10:53 pm

    you are such a good girlfriend!!! his family is so lucky to have you cook such a gorgeous feast. Lovin the feta and sun dried tomatoes 🙂

  • Catie
    June 14, 2009 at 11:00 pm

    This all looks great!!! Good job making such a large and what looks like complicated meal.

  • Katrina (gluten free gidget)
    June 14, 2009 at 11:15 pm

    Not to be a total creeper, but I think my husband and I almost moved where you are living, but they didn’t have the size available that we wanted! That would have been too weird! Anyhoot, those recipes look and sound amazing! I’m going to have to try some of those, esp. the yucca. Being married to a Cuban, it is kind of sacreligious that I don’t like it! Maybe your recipe will change that. Are you looking for any types recipes in particular? (entree, etc…)

  • Stef
    June 14, 2009 at 11:19 pm

    I wish I could see all the pics, some of them aren’t showing up for some reason! You are seriously the DREAM girl that every parents wants for their son! What an amazing dinner you whipped together! Vegan carrot cake too? Yum!

  • Christina
    June 15, 2009 at 12:02 am

    OMG that all looks so delicious!

  • Heather @ Health, Happiness, and Hope
    June 15, 2009 at 12:04 am

    Everything looks so amazing! Congrats on making such a wonderful meal. I’m totally jealous of your guests! 🙂

  • Caroline
    June 15, 2009 at 12:19 am

    Seriously impressive meal for such an impromptu gathering!

  • emily
    June 15, 2009 at 12:26 am

    That looks like a fabulous meal, you are seriously a hostess with the mostess!

  • Peabody
    June 15, 2009 at 3:13 am

    I love what you did to the fish, looks wonderful!

  • Liza
    June 15, 2009 at 3:47 am

    HOLY WOW, that fish is huge!

  • Samantha
    June 15, 2009 at 4:04 am

    You are so creative!! I’m pretty sure that if I had to pull a menu for six out of thin air, well… let’s just say that noce in high school I decided to make a dessert pie out of yucca for a Spanish class assignment due the next day… it was the most horrible disaster ever, a layer of oil floated over what looked like hashbrowned potatoes… oh man it was nasty!!! Haha…

  • Tania
    June 15, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Toot away, Jenna! You can be proud of yourself, everything looks mouthwateringly delicious.

  • Ada
    June 15, 2009 at 7:55 am

    Wow that meal looks incredible, I am a HUGE fan of ceviche! I also cannot believe how large that grouper was, Ryan must be an excellent fisherman!

  • Maya
    June 15, 2009 at 10:24 am

    I think I’ve only tried yuca in the form of chips! I’ll have to try your method. The menu sounds fabulous, especially the ceviche, it sounds like a really healthy and fresh way to cook fish.

  • Kate
    June 15, 2009 at 10:35 am

    Oh wow! That all looks delicious! I may just have to make that entire menu for my next cookout! If only I lived near the ocean to go catch my own fish too…

  • Sarah (Tales of Expansion)
    June 15, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    i am SO impressed with your homemade ceviche (and pulling everything together for that last minute homemade dinner). i LOOOOOOVE ceviche but never tried to make it on my own because i don’t want to accidentally poison myself!

  • Maria
    June 15, 2009 at 1:26 pm

    Oh my goodness, Jenna, all that food looks amazing. Really looks so gourmet and professional. All the flavor combinations sound to die for!

  • Lindsay
    June 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm

    Hog snappers are my favorite, I’ve got a bumper sticker of that bugger on my car! My hubby is a spearfisherman too, but I prefer to track down the slipper lobster! Great idea with the ceviche.

  • Christina
    June 16, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    HOLY WOW – that fish and carrot cake look so goooood!

  • Lisa
    June 21, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    I finally made your carrot cake today. OMG It is soooo gooood!!!