Glazed Salmon

It’s been so long since my last post, and it’s not as if I stopped cooking. No, I’ve still been plugging away, cooking the majority of our dinners. And, I’ve been trying some wonderful recipes! My heart, however, just hasn’t been into blogging. Sometimes updating my blog, after everyone is quietly snuffling in their beds, can be difficult. Sometimes I just want to read. Sometimes I want to get lost in Pinterest. Sometimes I want to check in with my FB friends. Or play Hay Day. Sometimes that is the hard part of being a full-time wife and mom, as well as working outside the home full time. But, as winter sheds it’s coat (yes, we have a Cali version of winter) and spring dawns anew, we can all feel somewhat reborn. Throw aside what has been holding you down, sit outside and soak up the sun. Take a walk and marvel at what beauty springtime brings. Ride a bike and feel the warm breeze  on your face. Ahhh, to start anew. It’s a wonderful thing!

What better way to pay homage to spring than wild caught salmon? Don’t get me wrong, I can eat salmon year-round. But there is something about salmon that speaks to warmer weather.

Ingredients:

1 tsp packed light brown sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp cornstarch
1 1/2 – 2 lbs skin-on salmon filet
Pepper to taste
1 tsp vegetable oil
1 recipe glaze (below)

Glaze:

3/4 tsp coarse sea salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup maple syrup

Preparation:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300°. Combine brown sugar, salt, and cornstarch in a small bowl and set aside. Heat oil in a 12″ oven-safe nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Place salmon, flesh side down, in skillet and cook until well browned, about 1 minute. Using tongs, carefully flip salmon and cook on skin side for 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat and evenly spoon glaze over salmon. Transfer skillet to oven and cook until fillets register 125° (for medium-rare) and are still translucent when cut into, about 7 to 10 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Grenache
Pinot Gris / Pinot Grigio
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves: 4

Total time: 30 minutes

*Derived from America’s Test Kitchen

PicFrame

Glazed Salmon


Ravioli Lasagna

Who does not like ravioli? And who doesn’t like lasagna? Also, though, who doesn’t like or have all the time it takes to make lasagna? I’m a total cheater when it comes to the rav, so I won’t even go there. That being said, I love ravioli, little pillows puffed with ricotta and maybe a meat, or even just the ricotta and some spices. They are, really, a blank canvas. You can  add a sauce making them as rich and decadent as you’d like. Or, you can add a sauce bursting with fresh flavor from the garden. Filling you up, but not leaving you heavy. Pretty much the same idea goes for lasagna. There are so many amazing, and completely opposite ends of the spectrum options. But, what if you took ravioli and made it into a kind of quasi lasagna? Oh my, now you’re talking!

*For this dish, the recipe called for a 26-28 oz jar of tomato pasta sauce. Being typical of a cook that wants to use what is available to me, I used the 1/2 jar of 24 oz Barilla Organic Olive Oil, Basil, and Garlic pasta sauce and 1/2 of the jar of the 15 oz Barilla Alfredo Sauce already opened in the refrigerator both from a past lazy night of wanting something especially quick. With both of these leftover jars I’d say I used 28 oz., total.

I also loved this recipe for all of the options. While I used just cheese ravioli, I could have easily used chicken or sausage rav. I could have also added sliced, fresh mushrooms; I could have even added frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to drain. Or, how about pepperoni. Maybe some Italian sausage crumbles? So many options! Oh, Oh, Oh! You could also go with a Tex Mex theme. Simply sub the pasta sauce for a jarred salsa (such as Old El Paso), add corn and change the cheese to cheddar or a Mexican blend. Serve with a dollop of sour cream. Hmmm, it JUST got interesting!

There is also the most wonderful make-ahead option. Simply layer the ingredients in the baking dish, cover tightly with foil and refrigerate for up to 24 ours. Then bake as directed. So this dish COULD be made on a week night! I LOVE that option.

Ingredients (as I made it):

1 1/2 cups pasta sauce (any variety)
1 1/2 cups Alfredo sauce
1 pkg (25 – 28 oz) cheese filled ravioli
3 cups shredded mozzarella (low moisture used)
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preparation:

Heat oven to 350°.  Spray 13×9 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Spread ¾ cup pasta sauce in the bottom of the baking dish.  Arrange the ravioli in a single layer over sauce; top with mozzarella cheese.  Next layer, spread ¾ cup Alfredo sauce over ravioli, top with mozzarella cheese.  Repeat layers.  On the final layer, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 30 minutes (if using frozen ravioli, bake 40 minutes).  Remove foil; bake uncovered 15 – 20 minutes, or until bubbly and hot.  Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with warm bread and Daniela’s Caesar salad.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Cabernet Franc
Malbec
Pinot Noir
Sangiovese

Serves 8
Total time: 1:10

Ravioli Lasagna

Ravioli Lasagna

*Derived from Betty Crocker

Cucumber Caprese Salad

I’m a sucker for caprese anything.  I just love the way the mozzarella tastes so creamy against the acid of the balsamic vinegar and the tomatoes and basil adding a fresh, clean feeling.  How can it get any better?  Toss in some cucumber.  The amazing crispness it brings is a wonderful addition to an already awesome dish!

Ingredients:

2 cucumbers
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes
2 Tbs chipped fresh basil
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cubed
1 avocado
1 Tbs olive oil
2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Cut cucumbers into 1/4″ slices, then cut the slices in half.  Cut tomatoes in 1/2.  Dice avocado.  Place cucumbers through avocado in a bowl and set aside.

To a small jar with a tight-fitting lid add olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and salt and pepper to taste.  Close tightly and shake to combine. 

Add dressing to salad and gently toss to combine.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Barbera
Chianti
Friulano
Sangiovese
Sauvignon Blanc

Serves 4

Total time: 15 minutes

Cucumber Caprese Salad

Cucumber Caprese Salad

*Derived from Fitsugar

Spring Mix with Apples, Toasted Almonds and Basalmic Dressing

Even though I had planned the menu completely, on this particular evening, I just needed something simple.  The kids, of course, voted for plain pasta with butter.  Not something I’ll usually go for, but this was not a usual type day.  That left me, and the hubs, who was still at work.  I wanted something light, that would fill me up without making me feel heavy.  I pulled our container of spring mix salad from the refrigerator.  Grabbed an avocado and some cherry tomatoes.  Whoops.  That avocado doesn’t feel to good.  And it wasn’t.  Hmm, back to the drawing board.  After digging around I came up with a couple of Golden Delicious apples, a container of shaved almonds and also some shaved parmesan.  This is the result.  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

Ingredients:

FOR THE SALAD

2 cups baby spring mix (such as Organic Girl)
1 ½ Apples thinly sliced (I would have had 2 whole apples had little hands not stolen so many slices 🙂 )
1/3 cup shaved almonds
1/2 – 1 cup shaved parmesan

FOR THE DRESSING

3 Tbs red wine vinegar
3 Tbs balsamic vinegar
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbs granulated sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Preparation:

In a small jar combine red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, sugar, salt, and pepper.  Close lid and shake vigorously to mix.  Set aside.

Put almonds on toaster oven safe tray.  Spread flat and toast lightly, stirring occasionally.

While almonds toast, thinly slice apple and add to a large bowl with spring mix and shaved parmesan.  When almonds are lightly toasted, allow to cool slightly and add to salad mix.  Give jar of dressing one more shake and slowly drizzle over salad to desired amount.  Toss to coat evenly.

Wine Pairing Suggestions:

Chardonnay
Gerwurtztraminer
Riesling
Sauvignon Blanc
Semillon

Serves 4 as side or 2 as main course

Total time: 15 minutes

Salad with Apples and Toasted Almonds

Salad with Apples and Toasted Almonds

*Original Serves-4 Recipe

Raspberry & Parmesan Salad

This salad is such a wonderful, light addition to the Garlicky Rice and Spiced Chicken Thighs.  And what makes it even better, the use of raspberries.  Perfect this time of year!  The original recipe called for blue cheese but there is no way the kids would eat that.  Ok, truth be told, there is no way I’d eat that!  Not a fan of the blue cheese.  Next time I make it, I’ll add a touch more of the dressing.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 Tbs olive oil
1 1/2 tsp red wine vinegar
1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp salt
5 cups mixed baby greens
1/2 cup raspberries
1/4 cup chopped, toasted pecans (you can use whatever you have on-hand:  almond, walnuts, etc.)
1/4 cup shaved parmesan

Preparation:

Combine first 4 ingredients and toss with baby greens.  Top with raspberries, nuts, and parmesan.

Serves 4

Total time: 10 minutes

photo[2]

*Derived from Cooking Light

Shrimp, Chorizo, and Corn Salad

004

This is such a wonderful time to make this meal, while all of the ingredients are readily available at the Farmer’s Market. And nothing tastes better than fresh produce! The smell and flavors of this dish reminded me of some wonderful Thai food I’ve had. The fresh basil (from our garden!) and the spicy Sriracha sauce transported me to one of our favorite Thai restaurants in Rockridge. The corn, which seems to be a theme with me lately, added such a sweet bite and helped sooth the spice of the Sriracha. We divided everything in half before the Sriracha was added because that would have been just a little too much for the kids, but there is no way I’d leave it out of mine!

Ingredients:

12 oz large shrimp, peeled
2 cups fresh corn kernels
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 1/2 Tbs Sriracha (hot chili sauce, such as Huy Fong)
2 Tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 3/4 oz thinly sliced Spanish chorizo
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, divided
12 red grape tomatoes, halved and divided
12 yellow teardrop tomatoes, halved and divided.
1 1/2 TBS olive oil
2 tsp grated lemon rind
2 Tbs fresh lemon juice

Preparation:

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a large bowl. Add 1/4 cup chopped basil, 12 each red and yellow tomato halves; toss shrimp mixture gently to combine. Heat a large skillet over high heat. Add olive oil; swirl to coat. Add shrimp mixture and cook until shrimp turn pink, about 4 minutes; stir frequently. Place about 1 1/2 cups shrimp mixture in each of 4 shallow bowls, sprinkle each serving with 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon juice, 6 tomato halves, and 1 tablespoon chopped basil.

Serves 4
Hands-on time: 16 minutes
Total time: 16 minutes

*Courtesy Cooking Light

Spinach and Strawberry Salad

This quickly became one of our favorite salads. And how could it not? It’s got all the wonders that summer has to offer, especially plump, juicy strawberries from the farmers market. We’re lucky any ended up in the salad!

Ingredients:

1 (10 to 12 oz) bag of baby spinach
1/3 cup sliced toasted almonds (I discovered this cool trick one day in a crunch for time, I simply spread them out on the toaster oven try and set it to, well, toast. Worked wonderfully and while they were doing their thing without me, I was able to ready the next steps.)
1pint of strawberries halved or quartered, depending on size
1 medium seedless cucumber finely diced

Dressing:

1/2 lemon juiced 2 Tbs white wine vinegar
1/4 to 1/3 cup of sugar (depends on taste and sweetness of berries)
1 Tbs vegetable oil
1 tsp poppy seeds

Preparation:

In large bowl add spinach, almonds, strawberries, and cucumber; toss together. For the dressing: in a jar or other container with a tight fitting lid, combine lemon juice, vinegar, sugar, oil, and poppy seeds. Shake vigorously (the perfect job for my 5 & 6 year olds).

Dress the salad right before serving.

Serves 4-6

20130617-205014.jpg

*Derived from Paula Deen