Honey Mustard and Pecan-Crusted Alaskan Salmon

On occasion, I find the need to “re-set” my recipe searches and get back to the basics. I am so accustomed to searching for unique dishes that have lots of ingredients, that I often forget the “meat + starch + vegetable” option. Choose a meat and a marinade, set it atop a bed of rice or noodles, and cook a quick veggie on the side. This doesn’t need to be complicated, and it certainly isn’t expensive.

I was feeling burned-out on chicken last week and salmon sounded good. While I would normally opt for the $5 bag of frozen salmon at Wal-Mart, I decided to get a little more fancy….and bought four fresh Alaskan Salmon filets at Dillion’s for about $13. I removed the skin and marinated in the honey mustard for several hours. We LOVED the flavor of the salmon and its crunchy coating, and the dish paired perfectly with wild rice and steamed veggies. Home cooking doesn’t get much more delicious!

Honey Mustard and Pecan-Crusted Alaskan Salmon – adapted from Alaska Salmon Bake with Pecan Coating from Allrecipes.com

4 fresh Alaskan Salmon filets, skin removed
4 TBS honey mustard sauce
1/2 C bread crumbs
1/2 C chopped pecans
1 TBS dried parsley
salt, pepper, olive oil
fresh lemon wedges

Rub both sides of salmon filets with a tiny bit of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Coat both sides with honey mustard and marinate several hours in the fridge. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix bread crumbs and pecans and dried parsley. Coat both sides of salmon filet with pecan mixture, placing most of the coating on the top (not bottom) of the filet. It’s okay to be messy! Bake 10-15 minutes per inch of thickness. Salmon will flake easily when done. Serve with fresh lemon.

Posted in Main Dish, Salmon, Seafood | Leave a comment

Sage Butter Gnocchi with Shrimp

Warning: Buttery, rich, decadent, carb-loaded recipe ahead.

Sage butter is like a long-time friend to me, and its wonderful that only two flavors are able to meld and marry so perfectly that an entire dish can be arranged around them. The last time that I made sage butter was to serve alongside salmon and baked potatoes, and it paired so well. This time, I found a Sage Butter and Gnocchi recipe online and thought that shrimp would be the perfect thing to make this a bit more wholesome.

After finishing this dish, I decided that one small thing was missing…some sort of green, chopped veggie. I think asparagus would be perfect tossed with the shrimp and gnocchi before serving.

Lastly, its worth mentioning that this dish takes less than 20 minutes, including prep time. Love it!

Sage Butter Gnocchi with Shrimp – adapted from Allrecipes.com

24 oz gnocchi (in the pasta section!)
3 TBS butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
6-8 fresh sage leaves
1/4 C shredded parmesan
1 lb raw shrimp, thawed
salt + pepper

1. In large skillet, melt butter. Add sage leaves and “fry” them in the butter for about a minute. Add garlic and saute another minute. Reduce heat to low.

2. Meanwhile, cook gnocchi as directed (should only take a few minutes.) Using a slotted spoon, transfer gnocchi to warm sage butter. Drop shrimp into the gnocchi’s cooking water and quickly bring back to a boil. Boil 2-3 minutes until shrimp are just barely done. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to gnocchi and toss well. Sprinkle with salt/pepper to taste, and parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Posted in Main Dish, Pasta, Seafood, Shrimp, Shrimp | Leave a comment

Cookie Dough Dip

Well, my plan to post BBQ chicken legs this week didn’t happen. We did make them for our Superbowl party (2 dozen of them, actually) but things were so hectic during the actual evening that I didn’t get a photo of them on the grill, or ready to eat.

Surprise! Cookie Dough Dip to save the day (you’ll probably like this recipe better, anyway.) I first had Cookie Dough Dip at our New Year’s Eve party when one of our friends Emily brought it over. I had never heard of, seen, or tasted Cookie Dough Dip – and its always refreshing for an avid cook to realize that there are still so many awesome recipes floating around this world just waiting to be discovered. I decided that this sweet and creamy dip was the perfect dessert for our Superbowl party and couldn’t wait to whip it up!

What’s awesome to me is that this dip, despite being loaded with cream cheese (which isn’t in cookie dough!) tastes so similar to cookie dough! Serve with teddy grahams, graham crackers, or fresh fruit.

Cookie Dough Dip – from Tasty Kitchen Blog

1 stick butter
1/3 C light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 block cream cheese, very softened
1/2 C powdered sugar
3/4 C+ mini chocolate chips

Melt butter in small sauce pan. Add brown sugar and whisk while bubbling until brown sugar is melted. Remove from heat and add vanilla.

Using a mixer, combine cream cheese and powdered sugar. Add butter mixture. Mix well. Fold in chocolate chips until combined. Sprinkle additional chocolate chips on top.

Posted in Chocolate, Dessert | Leave a comment

Fajita Steak Quesadillas

This recipe was a special request from my favorite person in the world….Brett! Every weekend I toss out the question, “any dinner requests this week?” I rarely get a reply, but last week I did. Brett quizzed me with: “What dish do I order basically every time we go to a restaurant?” I think I got it right on my second guess (steak fajita quesadillas…) He then claimed that I’ve never made them (not true) but I gave in anyway because they sounded so good!

I always try to have a picture of my recipes but unfortunately I couldn’t get a good picture of this final product. Something about the quesadillas being very flat (and a tortilla doesn’t have much color…) just didn’t give me much to work with. Thankfully I DID take a good picture of the actual steak and pepper filling to share with you.

Last but not least….Target now sells a small canister of taco seasoning. Perfect! I’m so tired of buying packet after packet of taco seasoning for whatever mexican dish we’re having that week. The canister only cost a few bucks, so I’m sure its cheaper in the long run as well.

Feel free to sub out the steak with chicken or shrimp…and any type of bell pepper or other veggie!

Fajita Steak Quesadillas – no recipe source

Flank or strip steak (approx. 1 lb)
2 green bell peppers
1 yellow onion
1 packet or 2 tbs taco seasoning
2 C shredded cheese
4 large tortillas
sour cream and salsa for serving

Thinly slice peppers and onions. Sautee in 1 TBS olive oil until very tender. Remove from pan and set aside. Thinly slice flank steak and saute in pan for just a couple of minutes (medium rare.) Place peppers and onions back in pan with steak and add taco seasoning. Add two TBS water if pan is very dry. Turn off heat. Place a tortilla on a plate and on one half of the tortilla, place one-fourth of your beef mixture and 1/3 C shredded cheese. Fold tortilla in half and press down firmly. Repeat with remaining tortillas. At this point, the quesadillas can be either grilled on an indoor grill, or baked at about 300 degrees. Quesadillas are ready when very bubbly and hot! Cut in half to serve.

Posted in Beef, Beef/Turkey, Main Dish, Mexican | Leave a comment

Italian Chicken Paninis

Brett and I have always loved hot panini sandwiches. I know I go on and on about the Cuisinart Griddler, but it makes these deliciously grilled sandwiches such an easy thing to do at home. Place your favorite meat and toppings between two slices of ciabatta bread, grill for a few minutes, voila. Our favorite is the Panera-inspired turkey artichoke panini: asiago bread, deli turkey meat, thinly sliced tomates, caramelized onions, and spinach artichoke spread (homemade or store-bought.) Last week I was in the mood for paninis but wanted to try something new. I was encouraged by a few basic recipes online so as I often do, I combined them into a new recipe. Very simple, flavorful and healthy…and so adaptable to what you love and crave. Enjoy!

(Need side dish ideas? Green salad, fruit salad, baked beans, baked potato, steamed veggies, pasta or rice packaged side dishes, or chips!)

Italian Chicken Paninis – no recipe source

3 chicken breasts
1/4 C italian dressing + more for brushing onto bread
garlic powder, dried basil
2 fresh, ripe tomatoes sliced thinly
cylinder of fresh mozzarella sliced thinly
1 loaf ciabatta bread

If using indoor or outdoor grill: marinate chicken in 1/4 C italian dressing for half-hour. Cut ciabatta bread. Depending on the shape of the loaf, I normally cut about a 5-inch length and then split it lengthwise for two halves. Brush italian dressing, garlic powder and dried basil onto ciabatta halves. Grill chicken until cooked through; slice thinly. Layer sandwich with chicken, tomato and mozzarella. Press sandwich down firmly. Spray grill with PAM or olive oil and place sandwich on grill. Heat 3-6 minutes until warmed through.

If not using indoor or outdoor grill: marinate chicken in 1/4 C italian dressing for half-hour. Cut ciabatta bread. Depending on the shape of the loaf, I normally cut about a 5-inch length and then split it lengthwise for two halves. Brush italian dressing, garlic powder and dried basil onto ciabatta halves. Bake or saute chicken until cooked through; slice thinly. Layer sandwich with chicken, tomato and mozzarella. Press sandwich down firmly. Heat oven to 350 and bake sandwich ~10 minutes or until heated through.

Posted in Grill, Main Dish, Sandwich | 1 Comment

Mexican Posole

I thought it would be fun to change things up a bit in this blog post, and give a 2012 “life update”! Not that there’s anything huge going on with us, but because I know a lot of our family and friends read this blog and its a New Year, so why not!

2012 will be a relaxing year for us. Most years, we have friends/family who are getting married or having babies or moving cities…but not this year! We’re not buying a car or closing on a house or adopting more pets. We’re just being…us! Brett + Sarah loving life. We’re taking our first trip to Vegas in March and I’m headed to Florida with my mom and sisters in June. We’ll go back to Minnesota in July and of course we’ll make multiple weekend trips to the Ozarks. So, a heavy travel year it will be…

We’ve been in our house just over a year now and we’re still loving every inch of this place. Brett has the basement mostly framed and electrical work is next. We are making every possible effort to complete the basement by New Years Eve 2013. I’m dreading the hit on our checkbook, but it’s now or never. I’m finally getting some use out of our third upstairs bedroom because Brett’s mom gave me a sewing machine for Christmas and I’m LOVING it. Kind of addicted, actually….

We both continue to feel so blessed to not only have jobs, but jobs that we love. I have been able to get more involved in project work (as opposed to daily work) and I’ve really enjoyed the change of pace. With his 4 years out of college fast-approaching, Brett is gearing up to take his P.E. next year and possibly a circuit design certification; both will be huge accomplishments for him!

Neither of us made New Years Resolutions, but I think both of us want to focus on making this year as fun as we can without the stress of any big life events. This is our year to stop and smell the roses!!!

With that….my new recipe!

Mexican Posole – adapted from the Holiday insert of The Wichita Eagle, December 2011

2 lb boneless pork loin roast, fat trimmed
2 cans red enchilada sauce
2 cans hominy, not drained
1 onion, diced
8 oz can chopped green chilies, not drained
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 can chili beans, not drained
cayenne, oregano, salt, pepper
1 bunch fresh cilantro
fresh limes
warm tortillas

Place pork in slow cooker. Cover with all ingredients through the chili beans. Add a bit of cayenne, oregano, salt and pepper (you can taste-test later!) Add about 1/2 C – 1 C of water, depending on how thick you want this “stew” to be. Cook on low for 8-10 hours. Shred pork with a fork and return to slow cooker until ready to serve (in the picture below, I only cooked pork for about 6-7 hours and since it wasn’t able to be shredded, I cut into small cubes.)

Serve in large bowls with fresh cilantro and lime juice spritzed onto the posole. Don’t forget the tortillas! You can dip into the posole or eat it like a soft taco. Don’t you just love choices?

Posted in Broth-Based, Main Dish, Pork, Soup | 1 Comment

Pita Pizza with Pesto and Prosciutto

One of my go-to meals recently has been flatbread pita pizza. These aren’t traditional pizzas with marinara and cheese, but rather creative little recipes packed with bold and unique flavors.

I’ve found that you can really spin these in any possible way depending on your favorite toppings, what’s on sale, or what your family has been craving. Some possible ideas are listed below!

Sauce Ideas
Sundried tomato pesto
Traditional basil pesto
Olive tapenade
Olive oil + Balsamic vinegar (or infused olive oils)
Garlic butter
Hummus or baba ganoush

Meat Ideas
Prosciutto
Flaked white crabmeat, drained
Finely chopped cooked shrimp
Finely chopped seasoned chicken
Salami or pepperoni

Topping Ideas…which are endless
Mushrooms (white button or baby bella or wild)
Roasted peppers (from the jar or homemade)
Any variety of olive, chopped (we love kalamata)
Sundried tomatoes (packed in oil or dry)
Capers, artichoke hearts or bottoms
Fresh herbs: rosemary, basil, thyme
Eggplant or squash, finely chopped
Fresh baby spinach leaves, fresh chopped tomato
Roasted garlic

Cheese Ideas
Mozzarella, havarti, asiago, parmesan, goat cheese

Despite this endless list of toppings, I would recommend choosing one sauce, one meat, one cheese, and only two or three vegetable toppings. You want each flavor to stand out, and you also need to keep these baby pizzas in line. They’re feisty, and they will try to take over the bottom of your oven! Too many toppings makes them overflow, and they will be too difficult to eat.

When I made these last week, I also mixed a little olive oil, balsamic and dried basil for dipping our crust. And finally, for what it’s worth, I can easily be full after one of these with a small salad, but I think the average man will need two of his own 🙂

Pita Pizza with Pesto and Prosciutto – no recipe source, just your imagination!

Pita bread
Traditional basil pesto
Roasted peppers (from the jar), drained
Prosciutto (check the specialty meat and cheese aisle)
Sliced white button mushrooms
Block of asiago, grated

Heat oven to 350. Place pitas (with NO toppings) straight onto oven rack (I don’t recommend placing on a pan.) Bake 5-8 minutes. Layer remaining ingredients in order above on top of the pita. You want to place the ingredients on the top of the pita, which would have been face-up in your oven. In other words, don’t flip your pita at any point. Bake until cheese is melted, around 6-12 minutes.

Posted in Chicken, Main Dish, Sausage/Pepperoni, Seafood | Leave a comment