Glazed Salmon and Scalloped Potatoes

I have a confession to make… I’m usually lousy at cooking salmon.  Since I found two pieces on “mega-sale” at the store today, I thought I’d give it one more try to see if I could come up with something really yummy.  I have to say that this entire meal ended up being one of my favorites… and it was ridiculously easy!  This post isn’t just a recipe for dinner, it’s also got a great side dish (I serve these potatoes for Easter EVERY year) and a salad dressing.  If you’re looking for an easy and impressive dinner, this is it.  Yum!

GlazedSalmon_ScallopedPotatoes

Glazed Salmon

Ingredients for Salmon:

  • Salmon fillets
  • Salt/pepper
  • Coconut oil (or your favorite fat/oil)
  • Glaze
    • 2T jam (I used Loganberry jam)
    • 2t balsamic vinegar
    • 2t white wine (I used a lightly oaked chardonnay)

Salmon Directions:

Season the salmon fillets with salt and pepper.  In a hot saute’ pan, melt coconut oil and then sear the seasoned side of the salmon filets.

  • As the salmon sears in the hot oil, blend the glaze.  You’ll need to warm the jam for 10 seconds in the microwave.  You’re not trying to melt the jam… you just want it loose enough to blend with the vinegar and wine.  You’ll want to adjust the seasonings with a little salt and pepper…. make sure to taste the glaze before using it.
  • Once the one side of the salmon is nicely browned, turn the fillet over and pour the glaze over top. Since the salmon won’t be thoroughly cooked, I put the entire pan into the oven and allow the fish to roast until dinner is done.
  • NOTE:  I started the potatoes about 30-40 minutes before I began making the salmon, so the house already smelled amazing before I started on the fillets.

Scalloped Potatoes

Ingredients for Scalloped Potatoes (This recipe serves two/three.  You can add/subtract as needed to serve more people)

  • Three medium potatoes (I like to use Gold potatoes)
  • Half an onion
  • Flour (1/4-1/3 cup)
  • Salt/pepper
  • White wine
  • Shredded cheese (I used 1/2 bag of sharp cheddar)
  • Milk (I only have skim in the house, so that’s what I used)

Directions for Scalloped Potatoes

  • Slice potatoes thin (I use a mandolin, but that’s not necessary as long as the slices are all equally thin)
  • Slice onion in half (you only need 1/4 onion for each layer) and slice as thin as potatoes
  • Layer your dish:
    • Half potatoes
    • Half onions
    • Sprinkle with flour (this will ultimately thicken your cheese sauce, so don’t skimp)
    • Season lightly with salt and pepper
    • Thumb wine lightly over mixture
    • Top with a light layer of cheese
  • Repeat layer, ending with cheese
  • Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for 45-50 minutes or until potatoes are fork-tender and the top is bubbling and browned.

This recipe showed me that, with a little ingenuity and imagination, I could create a fabulous, easy, “guest-worthy” meal that would satisfy all my expectations.  This is a starter recipe that will impress the pickiest visitor… try it and see what YOU think!

BONUS RECIPE:  I’d like to share my absolute favorite salad dressing recipe with you.  This recipe makes an impressive amount of dressing that is much lower in calorie than you’d ever imagine. I have NEVER actually measured the ingredients for this dressing, so you’ll have to forgive me for not including any.

Blend the following ingredients:

  • Balsamic Vinegar (a small puddle in the bottom of a salad bowl)
  • Mustard (I tend to use horseradish mustard or dijon mustard)
  • 1 envelope of sweetener (Equal or Splenda, depending on what’s in the house)
  • 1T of a prepared dressing (I typically use a creamy dressing of some sort)

Mix ingredients together and toss with thinly sliced romaine.  This is full of flavor and better than you’d expect!

 

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Recipe: Asian Chardonnay Chicken and Pasta

The inspiration for tonight’s dinner came by way of the salad dressing in my fridge… really!  I picked up a national brand Asian Sesame salad dressing recently and wondered how it would pair with chicken for dinner.  Thankfully, it paired beautifully and became the focus of this recipe.  NOTE: You can substitute your own favorite dressing in this recipe… if you like it, feel free to use it for more than a salad.AsianChardChickenNPasta

I started with two chicken breasts.  I made a foil packet (using two pieces of foil) in my baking dish and placed the breasts together  on the bottom of the dish.  I then poured some Chardonnay white wine (I love using James River Chardonnay for this sort of recipe) and drizzled the dressing on the breasts before closing up the packet.  I could have easily cooked the chicken for 30 minutes at 350 degrees,  but I wanted to cook dinner much slower, so I let the breasts steam in the packet at 250 degrees for an hour.  NOTE: Even at this much longer time frame, the breasts were tender and juicy… I love when an experiment goes well!

About 20 minutes before I wanted to serve dinner, I started making the bow tie pasta and added a touch of Chardonnay to the cooking liquid to flavor the pasta to mirror the chicken’s sauce.  After taking the chicken out of the oven and opening the packet, I realized that the sauce was much too thin to be “good enough”, so I had some work to do.

I removed the chicken to a plate and poured the cooking liquid into a saute pan.  Using a bit of the cooking liquid, I made a slurry with some flour, whisked the slurry into the pan, and cooked the sauce until it thickened (which happened really quickly).  For flavor, I added a few tablespoons of a garlic/herb light cheese, some salt and pepper, and a sprinkling of herbs de provence.  Then, using a spoon and a fork, I turned the cooked chicken breasts over twice to pick up the sauce and warm the chicken a bit.

Serving dinner was easy… I ladled pasta onto the plates, placed the chicken breast on top, then poured sauce over the entire meal.  A side salad or a vegetable would have added a bit more color and a great boost of nutrition, but we opted to go with a very simple meal tonight.  If my entire family was coming to dinner, I could have easily cooked more chicken/pasta and the additional vegetables/salad would have completed the meal.

It’s the little things that can add to your meal each night.  Adding your family’s favorite vegetable or some crusty bread to dinner can round things out quickly.  Follow your instincts when it comes to cooking… and wait to hear the sounds of happy, satisfied family members singing your praises.

Enjoy the food journey we all travel… it’s so much fun that way!

Recipe: Onion Roasted Chicken

What do you do when you have to make a quick, no-hands-on dinner?  In my house, you make Onion Roasted Chicken Breasts.  My son and his girlfriend were coming over for dinner and I didn’t want to spend a lot of time slaving over a stove top, so this was my way of making something that was tasty, low “tech”, and “guest-worthy”.  I hope you enjoy it!

I started with two large chicken breasts.  Since I was feeding three people (one of whom was my son), I decided to slice the breasts in half, width-wise, to extend the amount of food without having to wait for three thick chicken breasts to cook through.  Once the breasts were cut into four separate cutlets, I put them into a bag with a sliced onion and a mixture of salad dressing (I used a lite sesame Asian vinaigrette), Chardonnay (a stainless steel Chardonnay works best here… just be sure to use what you like), and some salt/pepper.  I let the chicken/onion mixture marinate for a half hour.OnionRoastedChicken

When my guests arrived, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and covered a baking pan with foil for easy cleanup.  I used tongs to remove the chicken and onions from the marinade and placed them in the baking sheet (as shown in the photo).  I decided against pouring the small excess marinade over the chicken.  I could have poured it into a pan to create a sauce, but this wasn’t that sort of  a dinner… I wanted something more simple.

The chicken took about 20 minutes to roast.  While the chicken and onions were roasting, I popped a bag of green beans into the microwave and cooked them for 6 minutes (until they were steamed thoroughly).  I then pulled everything out of the oven/microwave and plated our dinner.  Had I been feeding my husband, I would have added some garlic toasts or a “starch” of some sort, but this was the simple, easy dinner that my son preferred.

You can also make this dinner with fish, if you’d like.  There are many options when it comes to a dinner recipe such as this… try your hand at using your own favorite ingredients and have fun.  You’re feeding the ones that you love… enjoy!

Recipe: Roasted Mustard Pesto Potatoes

I was really lazy last week and wanted to make dinner without going through too many extra steps.  This recipe was born from my laziness (if you want to call it “laziness”, cuz I was *still* making dinner).  I started with the idea of roasting some Yukon Gold potatoes and this recipe emerged.  Please remember that you can always use whatever ingredients you like when making one of my recipes… I am only attempting to give you ideas from which you can branch out and create your own family favorites.

I started with four Yukon Gold potatoes and one onion.  I cut the potatoes into same-size chunks and cut the onion in half before slicing it into half-moon shapes.  I sprayed a baking sheet with cooking spray and then laid the potatoes and onions in a single layer on the sheet pan.   Being lazy, I simply plopped the ingredients on top of the potatoes, but next time I will probably mix them in a bowl and pour the sauce over top.  For the “sauce”, I used olive oil, dijon mustard, kale pesto, salt and pepper.  I tossed the potatoes and onions with these ingredients and then “thumbed” some James River Cellars’ Chardonnay over the whole mixture.  RoastedMustardPestoPotatoes

At this point, I realized that I had totally neglected to add any meat for our dinner… and that would never fly.  Since I didn’t want to roast a package of chicken tenders separately, I just added the individual tenders into the potato/onion mixture and turned them in the “sauce” to pick up some flavor.  This was my “easy out” way of making a two course dinner without any extra effort.

I roasted the entire baking sheet at 375 degrees for about an hour – this really was too long, but I had started making dinner so early that I was getting hungry before we were planning to eat.   Next time, I’ll adjust the oven temp and the cooking time so things don’t get quite so crispy but even so, dinner turned out really well.

BONUS RECIPE:  I found out that my husband isn’t as big a fan of roasted onions as my son, so I had quite a few left over to go with my extra potatoes for the next day’s lunch.  Since I had leftovers, here’s a quick way to use them up in a simple lunch-for-one.  I cut the remaining potatoes into smaller pieces, added the roasted onions and cut up two of the leftover chicken tenders, tossing all in one of my favorite salad dressings.  This became a really easy and tasty lunch for me and I didn’t feel like I’d wasted food.  Always a plus in my book!

Have fun making this recipe your own.  Use a different mustard… leave out the pesto… use a salad dressing or add balsamic vinegar with the oil… this is when you can let your creative juices flow to make something entirely your own.  I wish you a delicious meal… as always!