Even If You Don't Have the White Apron, You Can (at Least Try to) Cook Like a Top Chef!

Before I get into this week's episode of Top Chef -- the last episode before the cheftestants head to Puerto Rico for the finals -- I wanted to share with you a few of the easy, healthy recipes I've invented after being inspired by the show to venture into the kitchen myself. My girlfriend is afraid that, when the show ends, I'll stop cooking, too (but I'm enjoying it too much to do that). If you've also been inspired to turn on the oven by Top Chef, I'd love to hear what you've been up to!

SUMMER TACOS

(makes six tacos)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. cooked medium shrimp

1/2 pineapple

Bacon, five slices

Cilantro

1 tomato

Pineapple juice

Soy sauce

Sesame seeds

Salt, pepper, garlic

Parsley

Low-carb flour tortillas

Directions:

Marinate the shrimp in mixture of pineapple juice, soy sauce, sesame seeds, and pepper. With scissors, cut the bacon into one-inch pieces. Cut pineapple into small pieces. Lightly fry bacon in small amount of marinade. Remove bacon from fat, continue to fry in second pan with pineapple and more marinade; flavor per taste. Three minutes before pineapple is done, add shrimp and parsley. Serve with cilantro and tomatoes.

CRAB-STUFFED SALMON

(serves two)

Ingredients:

1/2 lb. salmon

Handful small-chunk crab

3 oz. herb goat cheese

No-fat mayonnaise

Dijon mustard

1 garlic clove

Salt, pepper, and garlic

Directions:

Cut crab into fine bits, then mix with goat cheese, two teaspoons mayo, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon, and one crushed garlic clove. Cut salmon down the middle lengthwise, stuff crab-cheese mix into slit. Smear mix of mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and garlic over meat. Broil for 15 minutes, or until flaky.

ASPARAGUS- AND WALNUT-STUFFED CHICKEN

(serves two to four depending on appetite)

Ingredients:

4 medium-thickness chicken breasts

10 stalks of asparagus

Swiss cheese

Walnuts

2 garlic cloves

Extra-virgin olive oil

Butter

Parsley

Salt, pepper, and garlic

Directions:

Steam 10 stalks of asparagus. Smear outside of breasts with olive oil and butter, then flavor with salt, pepper, garlic, and cilantro. Crush small handful of walnuts. Pre-heat oven to 350 Degrees. Between two sets of breasts, place Swiss cheese, walnuts, a crushed garlic clove, and 5 stalks of asparagus. Wrap each set in aluminum foil. Bake in pan for 30 to 35 minutes. Partially unwrap, bake for another 15 minutes.

Now, rather than talk about making food, let's get back to talking about people who make food instead. This week, five cheftestants remained: Antonia, Stephanie, Richard, Spike, and Lisa. Right off the bat, you know Richard, Antonia, and Stephanie are heading to the finals. These three are the strongest of the remaining chefs, and I'm pretty damn sure Richard is the odds-on favorite to win despite the unexpected amount of estrogen going into the last few episodes (which is unprecedented on the show). But what about Spike and Lisa -- who would survive like Gloria Gaynor?

Both the Quickfire and Elimination Challenges revolved around steak and judge Chef Rick Tramonto, one of Chicago's most infamous masters of meat. This guy knows his cuts and how cow should be cooked. Despite gaining early favor with Tramonto, though, Spike couldn't seal the deal and ended up verbally sparring with the chef at the Judges' Table over frozen scallops (he should have been making fun of Tom's turtleneck-and-soul-patch look instead, which my dad was sporting back in 1979). Consequently, Lisa, who has never made a dish I thought looked remotely appetizing, got the trip to Puerto Rico and Spike was told to pack his knives. I'll let you know what I cook up between now and then, but it certainly won't be peanut butter mashed potatoes.