Glazed Salmon with Couscous

Glazed Salmon and Couscous

Glazed Salmon and Couscous

Let’s go fishing!   I’ll bring the fishing poles if you’ll bring your boat.  I’ll pack a picnic lunch and some cold drinks,  and enough insect repellent to take care of any bugs within miles.  Oh, yeah, bait!  Would you stop on your way to the river and pick some up? Oh, and be sure to bring your camera.  We have to get some pics of our catch to post on F.B.

That reminds me—Do you know how to bait the hook?    Oh, me neither.   Well, I guess we’ll need to find someone to help us with that.   On second thought,  why don’t we just go shopping instead and stop by the local fish market for a nice piece of salmon on our way home.  Sounds like a plan to me 🙂

When we get home it will only take a few minutes to get dinner ready because the salmon is so easy to prepare with this recipe.

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GLAZED SALMON

Yield:  Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1  1/4 cups water
  • 3/8 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 3/8 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked couscous  (In my version, I used the larger size pearl couscous, and followed cooking time on the package.)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill

    Whole-grain mustard and chopped shallots.

    Whole-grain mustard and chopped shallots.

  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 3 tablespoons chopped shallots
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 tablespoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets, about 1 inch thick
  • cooking spray

Directions:

1.  Preheat the broiler.  Line a jelly-roll pan with foil, and coat with cooking spray.

2.  Bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Stir in 1/8 tsp. salt, 1/8 tsp. pepper, and couscous; cover.  Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes.  Stir in dill, rind, and juice.  (If using Israeli or pearl couscous, following cooking directions on package.)

3.  Heat a small saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add olive oil and butter; swirl until butter melts.  Add shallots; cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add wine to pan; bring to a boil.  cook 2 minutes;  stir in mustard and brown sugar.  Remove pan from heat.

Sautéing the shallots.

Sautéing the shallots.

4.  Arrange salmon fillets, skin sides down on the prepared jelly-roll pan.  Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 tsp, salt and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper.  Spread half of mustard mixture evenly over fillets.  Broil 6 minutes or until desired degree of doneness.  Spread remaining half of mustard mixture over fillets.  Serve salmon with couscous.

You can round out this meal nicely with the addition of a green vegetable such as haricots verts, or asparagus.

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Ravioli and Vegetable Soup

Ravioli and vegetable soup.

Ravioli and vegetable soup.

My recipe today is targeted at week night cooking when you are short on time.  Perfect for those evenings when you want to go meatless, or prepare a meal that’s vegetarian.  It’s a hearty, nutritious and delicious soup and you can include greens and vegetables to your liking.  The broth can be beef or vegetable, so it offers a lot of leeway to tailor it to your dietary needs.

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The basis of the soup is a package of small cheese ravioli; either frozen or fresh.   You begin by sautéing the usual trio of veggies:  onions, carrots and celery.  Add the broth, bring to a boil.  Add the ravioli and cook till tender; then add the greens to wilt them.  That’s it!   Sprinkle on some parmesan cheese at the table and serve with a whole-grain bread.  This whole meal took me no more than 30 minutes to prepare.  The recipe can be easily doubled for more servings or just to have some for another meal.

RAVIOLI AND VEGETABLE SOUP

Getting all the ingredients ready.

Getting all the ingredients ready.

Servings:    About 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 3 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tsp. dried
  • 2 cups fat-free low-sodium beef or vegetable broth
  • 1 9 ounce pkg. small cheese ravioli
  • 1 small bunch escarole, kale, or 5 cups spinach, roughly chopped
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 Tbsp. grated parmesan cheese
  • 8 slices whole wheat baguette

1.  Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery and thyme and cook, stirring occasionally , until the vegetables begin to soften, about 4 minutes.  Add the broth and 3 cups water and increase the heat to high.  Cover and bring to a boil, then add the ravioli.  Reduce the heat to medium and simmer until the ravioli are tender ( according to package directions for cooking).

Letting it simmer till tender.

Letting it simmer till tender.

2.  Add the escarole to the soup and cook, stirring, until wilted.  Season with salt and pepper.  Ladle the soup into bowls and sprinkle with the cheese.  Serve with the bread.

Ravioli and vegetable soup. Serve with grated cheese.

Ravioli and vegetable soup. Serve with grated cheese.

Nutritional Profile:    Calories:  262;  Fat,  9 g.;  Carbohydrate  34 g.;  Protein 12 g.

SOURCE:   Food Network Magazine

Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels

Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels.

Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels.

Yes, it was Super Sunday, and no we didn’t watch the game, go to a party, or cheer for any particular team, but I did use game day as an excuse to make some foods associated with game watching.  I guess I’m more interested in food than football!  Anyway, I made these easy little pinwheels that we enjoyed for lunch with some fresh fruit.  Then I went on to make a chicken quesedilla casserole for dinner.  I’ll be telling you about that in a few days. so stay tuned.

These easy to hold little pinwheels make a great appetizer, combining two flavor favorites; bacon and cheddar cheese, wrapped into crescent roll dough.  You can eat them with your fingers, no utensils required, while in the other hand you hold your favorite beverage.  A neat party food, I think.  One that guys will like–at least my husband did.  In fact, he asked me to make them after seeing them in a picture.  Turns out he was on the right track with that suggestion.  I liked them very much too.

BACON CHEDDAR PINWHEELS

Just a few ingredients, you probably have on hand.

Just a few ingredients, you probably have on hand.

Yield:   Makes 12 – 16, depending on how thick you cut them.

  • 1 roll refrigerated crescent dinner rolls
  • 2 Tablespoons ranch dressing
  • 1/4 cup cooked bacon pieces,  4 slices bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
  • 1/2 cup finely shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions

1.  Preheat oven to 350* F.  Spray baking sheet with non-stick spray or line with parchment paper.

2.  Unroll the crescent roll dough;  pressing each section into a 12 x 4 inch rectangle,  firmly pressing the perforations to seal.

3.  Spread 1 Tablespoon dressing over each dough rectangle to the edges.  Sprinkle each with bacon, cheddar cheese, and onions.

Layer on the fillings, then roll up.

Layer on the fillings, then roll up.

4.  Starting at one short side, roll up each rectangle;  press edge to seal.  With serrated knife, cut each roll into 6-8 slices;  place cut side down on prepared baking sheet.

Slice, then bake.

Slice, then bake.

5.  Bake 12 – 17 minutes or until edges are deep golden brown.  Immediately remove from baking sheet.  Serve warm.

Served warm with fruit for a light lunch.

Served warm with fruit for a light lunch.

Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels

Bacon Cheddar Pinwheels, a neat little appetizer.

SOURCE:   Pillsbury Baking

Cardamom Banana Bread with Pistachios

Cardamom Banana Bread with pistachios.

Cardamom Banana Bread with pistachios.

I like to use a variety of herbs and spices in my cooking.  I love the way they enhance or give subtle flavor to a dish.  They can turn the ordinary or mundane into something exotic and interesting at very little expense.  So following on the heels of yesterday’s post on ginger, today I want to focus on cardamom.

Cardamom is a pod consisting of a pale outer shell which has tiny seeds inside it.  It is the seeds that have an intense flavor, but they need to be crushed or ground before use. Ground cardamom is used mostly in baking where its flavor is readily recognized in the baked goods of Scandinavian countries, especially breads, stollen, cookies and buns.

Two varieties of cardamom:  whole pods and ground.

Two varieties of cardamom: whole pods and ground.

Cardamom is available in white, black and green forms. It is the white form that we are most familiar with and that which is commonly used in baked goods.  In India, however, the black and green forms are important ingredients in meat and vegetable dishes.  Black cardamom has a unique smokey flavor, and it is used mainly in curries.

If you have never used cardamom, this recipe will provide an introduction, without being overwhelming.  The bread will taste like the banana bread you know, but the cardamom will be a stand-in for vanilla.  Finely chopped pistachio nuts will provide the crunch.  This bread is not a very sweet bread so it is pleasant with coffee or tea for breakfast.  Keep this recipe in mind when you are faced with 2 or 3 really ripe (read, black ) bananas—the best kind for baking!  I love this recipe because you can mix it all by hand….no need to get out the mixer.   It’s so quick to mix up and pop in the oven while dinner is cooking,  and be cooled and ready for a snack before bedtime.  OOPS,  I’m giving away my secrets!

CARDAMOM BANANA BREAD WITH PISTACHIOS

YIELD:    1  9″ x 5  loaf

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

    Mix together the dry ingredients.

    Mix together the dry ingredients.

  • 1 cup to 1 1/2 cups sugar  (I used 1 cup, but if you like a sweeter bread use the 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom    If you like cardamom, this amount can be increased up to 1 teaspoon.
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup reduced fat sour cream
  • 1 cup mashed ripe banana
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped pistachio nuts

1.  Preheat oven to 350*   Lightly grease or spray a 9″ x 5″ loaf pan.

2.  In a large bowl combine the first six ingredients.  ( flour through salt )

3.  In another bowl whisk together the eggs, oil, sour cream and banana.

Everything in two bowls; mix by hand.

Everything in two bowls; mix by hand.

4.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones and mix partially.  Add in the pistachios and finish mixing, without over mixing.  This keeps the bread light instead of heavy and dense.

5.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake at 350* for an hour or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool for about 10 minutes in the pan, then remove from pan and finish cooling on a wire rack.

Banana bread, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

Banana bread, perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.

SOURCE:   adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light.

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach

Lemony Pasta with Goat Cheese and Spinach. 

 

During this time of year as the number of activities and parties increase all tempting us with special foods to eat, I try to lighten up what I prepare for our everyday meals.  My rational is that if we eat light but healthy meals at home then it’s OK to have some treats when we go out.  I’m not sure how that all adds up, but it works for me.

The recipe I’m offering today is one that is very quick to make with just a few ingredients.  It could stand alone with only the addition of a salad to make it a complete meal.  Although the main ingredient is pasta it is kept light with a sauce  that incorporates  goat cheese for creaminess, and also includes spinach and lots of parsley.  The addition of lemon jest and juice provides the brightness that makes the flavors pop.

LEMONY PASTA WITH GOAT CHEESE AND SPINACH

EVERYDAY FOODS

Only a few ingredients needed.

SERVES:   4

Ingredients

  •  3/4 pound spaghetti
  • 4 ounces fresh goat cheese
  • 10 ounces baby spinach
  • 2 cups fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon grated lemon zest
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted

Directions

1.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boiling.  Add pasta and cook according package directions for al dente.  Remove and save 2 cups of pasta cooking water.  Drain the pasta.

2.  In the pot, stir together 1 cup of pasta water and the goat cheese over medium heat to melt the cheese.  Add pasta, spinach and parsley, lemon zest and lemon juice.

Cook pasta, then mix everything together in the same pot.

Stir to coat with the sauce.  Add more pasta water as needed to  create a sauce that coats the pasta.  Season with salt and pepper.  Sprinkle with walnuts to serve.

Lemony Pasta with Spinach served with crispy breaded shrimp.

Baked Brie with Apricot Jam and pecans

Baked Brie with Apricot Jam and Pecans

The best made plans don’t always work out (as planned).  One example was my plan to serve Butternut Bisque in small cups as an appetizer prior to our Thanksgiving meal.  The guests arrived late, the dinner was ready too soon, etc, etc, etc.  So to stave off the hungers while I got the last minute details ready, I quickly put together this appetizer that I have had at other peoples’ homes but never made myself.  No problem, it’s so easy you don’t really need a recipe, and everyone seems to like it.

The only real requirement is a piece or wheel of brie cheese.  Everything else can be a mix and match with whatever you have on hand.

Here’s what you need and how to put it together:

  • A mini wheel of Brie–about 8 ounces.  I used only half a wheel to make a small amount.
  • 2-3 Tablespoons of jam.  Apricot is a good match with Brie, also Fig jam is good.
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped pecans or other nuts of choice.
  • 1 -2 Granny Smith apples, cored and thinly sliced into wedges.
  • small crackers,  whole grain or nut crisps work well.

1.  Place Brie into a small, greased oven proof dish.  Spoon jam on top.

Brie in a baking dish with jam spooned on top, ready to be baked.

Bake in a 350 degrees oven about 10-15 minutes, until cheese is oozy and jam is melting.  Remove from oven.  Sprinkle nuts over the top.

2.  Place the cheese dish on a larger plate or tray and arrange crackers and apple wedges around it.  To eat just dip the apples and/or crackers into the cheese mixture and enjoy.

Oatmeal Pear Scones

I went to the orchard recently to get some fresh apples and pears.  While there I noticed some recipes that were available using some of the products they were selling.  On looking through them I came upon this one for scones that included chopped fresh pears. Unusual, I thought, and worth trying out.  The recipe also called for ground ginger, but I knew immediately that I would put in some crystalized ginger, because pears need something with a little zing to enhance their flavor, and also just because I love candied ginger and use it whenever I can work it in. The recipes were free for the taking, so—I came home and soon began to bake these scones.  There is no rolling of dough or cutting involved.  They are simply dropped by the 1/4 cupful onto a baking sheet.  Quick. Easy.  Try them!

OATMEAL PEAR SCONES

YIELD:  Makes 10 dropped-style scones

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup old-fashioned oatmeal
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons ginger
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped crystalized ginger (optional, my addition)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 Tablespoons unsalted cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg, slightly beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup unpeeled, finely chopped pear

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a baking sheet or line with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, i.e. flour through salt.  Cut in butter with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

3.  In a small bowl, combine yogurt, egg and vanilla.  Add to dry ingredients all at once.  Mix until dry ingredients are moistened.  Gently stir in pear.

4.  Place  10  1/4 -cups of dough on the baking sheet, 2 inches apart.

5.  Bake for 17 – 20 minutes or until golden brown.  Serve warm.

Adding the crystalized ginger worked out very well.  It added an occasional sharp little bite to a very nice, not too sweet accompaniment  to coffee.  I’m so glad to have found this recipe.  I think you will enjoy it, too.

SOURCE:  Courtesy of Belltown Hill Orchards

Toad-in-the-Hole

This is an unusual title for a cute idea for breakfast.  When my children were young, I used to make these for them and they liked them and thought they were fun to eat.  What it consists of is an egg cooked in a hole in a piece of toast.

Toad-in-the-Hole with Bacon

How it became named “Toad in the Hole” I don’t know but that’s what we always called this form of egg and toast.   I decided to make one for myself, so I could photograph it, and I must say I really enjoyed it.  Try this out on your children and see if they agree.  Maybe you’ll like it too.

WHAT TO GET READY:

  • spreadable butter
  • 4 slices multi-grain bread, lightly toasted
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • grated cheese, optional

WHAT TO DO:

1.  Cut a hole in the center of each slice of toast using a 3-inch cookie cutter, biscuit cutter, or even a glass will do.

2.  Butter both sides of the toast, including the circle you cut out.

3.  Arrange bread slices on a hot griddle, large skillet or other pan big enough.  Crack one egg into each hole.  Sprinkle each egg with salt and pepper.  Add the circle cutouts to the pan to brown and crisp each side.

4.  Keep heat at medium and cook until egg whites are firm.  At end of cooking sprinkle with grated cheese if using and plate up each toast slice with it’s “hat” perched over the egg.  Serve with bacon or other breakfast meat.

SERVINGS:  4

Sweet Sliced Pickled Cucumbers

When your garden is producing cucumbers faster than you can eat them,  this recipe is just the ticket!  It was given to me several years ago by a very good friend who is lovely about sharing her recipes.  It is a particular favorite at our church suppers and everyone  seems to want to know how to make them.   This is the kind of recipe where it’s hard to stop eating them after one serving.  You will want to have a 2nd or even 3rd helping—-they’re that good!

Don’t shy away because of the word pickle in the title.  There’s no cooking,  well, just a tiny bit,  and no processing jars or any of that stuff.  It’s another of my recipes that I can truly  say is quick and easy.  Here’s all you need:

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 3-4  large cucumbers, sliced.  Peel or don’t peel as desired.  (If they are waxed from the grocery store, then I peel them, but if they’re tender fresh cukes, I don’t.)
  • 1 large sweet onion, or 2 medium, thinly sliced
  • 3 Tablespoons minced fresh dill, or  1 Tablespoon dill weed
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. To slice the cucumbers and onion, use a mandolin slicer or the slicing blade on a food processor.  You want nice thin uniformly sliced vegetables.

Combine the cucumbers, onions, and dill in a large bowl.

2.   In a saucepan, combine sugar, vinegar, water, and salt;  bring to a boil.   Pour the hot liquid over the cucumber mixture.  Stir to expose all the cucumbers and onions to the hot liquid.    Cover and chill for at least 3 hours, or overnight.

3.   Store in covered containers or jars with tightly closed lids.

It is amazing to me how crisp these cucumbers become as they cool.  They are great used as a condiment, a cold salad, or layered in a sandwich.  (My husband likes them on a grilled hot dog.)   They will keep for a week or two in the refrigerator.  Please note that in the accompanying photos I am making half a recipe with 2 large cucumbers.