Lemon and Herb Grilled Salmon

The beautiful weather yesterday had me dabbling into some Spring-ier recipes for dinner- Lemon and Herb Grilled Salmon, Carrot and Lentil Salad, Lemon Sautéed Spinach and some Olive Oil Herb Bread.  All of these were new recipes and I’ll make all of them again… especially the salmon.  All these dishes had a Mediterranean/Greek flare to them and there were a lot of shared ingredients. If I weren’t making the bread (which I rarely do, but it was so good I may do it more often), this could totally be done on a weeknight. But the bread required (according to the recipe) 4 hours of “rising” time, which I just did not plan accordingly for… therefore I skimped a little and made it happen in about 2 1/2, and it still tasted great and the texture was exactly what I hoped for it to be. Anyways, I’m getting pretty pumped about spring and sharing some more of my lighter dishes. Hope y’all enjoy this one!

Lemon Herb Salmon Dinner

Lemon and Herb Grilled Salmon

Salmon fillet, skin on and boneless (between 1 to 1 1/2 lbs)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
Zest from half a lemon
Dried oregano
Dried dill
Coarse salt
Pepper

1.) Preheat grill over high heat. Place salmon fillet in a casserole dish. Pour olive oil over fish, add garlic and lemon zest. Using the back of a spoon, spread out the olive oil, garlic and zest so that it evenly covers the fillet.
2.) Sprinkle oregano, dill, salt and pepper over the salmon (see pictures below for about how much). Let salmon sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes prior to grilling.
3.) Place salmon on a grilling rack (to prevent it from sticking to grill), skin side down. Place rack on grill and close lid. Grill for about 10 minutes (if salmon is about 1-inch thick). If salmon is thicker, it may require more time.

Lemon Herb Salmon1

Lemon Herb Salmon2

Lemon Herb Salmon

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Carrot Lentil Salad

Carrot and Lentil Salad

1 cup diced carrots
1 cup dried lentils (I used green)
2 tsp minced garlic
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup diced sweet onion
1 cup diced cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup diced celery
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp dried oregano

1.) Place carrots and lentils in a medium sized sauce pan. Add enough water to cover lentils and carrots by about 1 inch. Add garlic, thyme and bay leaf. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and simmer uncovered for about 20 minutes.
2.) Remove bay leaf and drain water by pouring into a mesh strainer (you don’t want to lose all the garlic or thyme). Place back in pan and add remaining ingredients. Stir well and place in the refrigerator to cool.

Adapted from Lentil & Carrot Salad

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Garlic and Lemon Sauteed Spinach

Lemon Sautéed Spinach 

1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
Zest of half a lemon
1/2 lb fresh spinach
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

1.) In a large pot heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add garlic and sauté for about a minute, stirring constantly as to not burn the garlic. Add spinach, lemon zest, salt and pepper.
2.) Stir constantly to make sure spinach doesn’t stick to bottom. Remove from heat once spinach is mostly wet and wilted looking. It will continue cooking once removed.

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Olive Oil Herb Bread3

Olive Oil Herb Bread

1 1/4-ounce packet of active dry yeast
2 tsp sugar
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (plus more for lining bowl and brushing)
2 1/2 cup all-purpose flour (plus more for dusting)
1 1/2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp dried basil
1 tsp fine salt

1.) Stir yeast, sugar and 1/4 cup warm water in the large bowl of a stand mixer. Let sit until foamy, or about 5 minutes.
2.) Add the 1 tablespoon of olive oil, flour, herbs, salt and 3/4 cup warm water. Knead using the stand mixer’s dough hook attachment on the stir setting until dough forms. Turn speed to medium for about 5 minutes. Add a little more flour if dough sticks to the sides.
3.) Brush a large bowl with olive oil. Place dough in the bowl, cover with plastic wrap. Place in a warm place in kitchen (I have under cabinet lights that provide some warmth) and let it sit for about 1 1/2 hours (dough should have doubled).
4.) Remove dough from bowl and place on a floured surface. Cut dough into 4 equal sized pieces. Working with one piece at a time fold top of dough up and over, and bottom of dough up and over. Do the same thing to the right and left sides until you have something that resembles a square. Turn dough over so that the seams are on the bottom and tuck the “corners” under. Dough should be in the shape of a ball with the smooth surface up. Place on a large cooking sheet coated with olive oil. Repeat with the remaining dough pieces. Make sure there is about 5 to 6 inches between each dough ball on the sheet, if not, use 2. Let dough sit in a warm spot (I placed it on the stove top as I preheated the oven to 400 degrees) for about an hour.
5.) Bake dough for 10 minutes, remove, brush with olive oil (and salt and herbs if desired) and place back in the oven for 10 more minutes.

Forgive me, I forgot to photograph the initial dough kneading and rising :/

Olive Oil Herb Bread1

After an hour… (second rising)

Olive Oil Herb Bread2 

Olive Oil Herb Bread

Adapted from Almost-Famous Rosemary Bread

Buttermilk French Toast with Strawberry Syrup

An upside to being in the midst of yet another winter storm… I’m home with my babies… and get to make them a big ole homemade breakfast. Breakfast just may be my favorite meal of the day. During the weekdays it’s a boring Greek yogurt and banana, but when I’m home, I love to do it up big!  This morning, Brogan requested some strawberry syrup (just like Ihop, mommy). Okay. What to go with syrup… French Toast! Sounded good to Brogan so it was decided! As I started pulling out the ingredients, I was a little hesitant to use a lot of my milk (because we’ll likely be iced in for a while), but then I saw the buttermilk. Hmmm. I use it in my pancakes (and most other baked goods these days). Why not? The more I thought about, the better it sounded. I love the sour flavor it adds, especially paired with something really sweet.

So the verdict on this – incredible. It is the best French Toast I’ve ever made (go ahead, laugh, I know I say this a lot), but seriously it is. I served it with butter, the homemade strawberry syrup, a little bit of maple syrup, dusting of powdered sugar, and of course, some bacon on the side. All of these flavors were just magical together – so, so good.

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Buttermilk French Toast

12 pieces of bread (I used whole wheat because I had it on hand, but any would do)
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Butter (for griddle and for serving)
Strawberry syrup (see below)
Maple syrup
Powdered sugar (for dusting)

1.) Heat a griddle to 350 degrees.
2.) In a pie plate, beat together eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and cinnamon.
3.) Add about a tablespoon of butter to griddle and spread it around. Dip both sides of each slice of bread in the buttermilk mixture. Place on griddle. Cook for about 2 minutes (or until nicely browned). Flip over and cook another 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining pieces of bread.
4.) Serve with butter, strawberry syrup, a little bit of maple and a dusting of powdered sugar.

Strawberry Syrup
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups strawberries, quartered

In a saucepan, heat water and sugar to boil. Add strawberries, return to boil and then reduce heat to medium high heat. Cook for 10 minutes, uncovered. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Strawberry syrup

Strawberry Syrup1

Buttermilk French Toast3

Buttermilk French Toast1

Buttermilk French Toast2
The cool thing about using buttermilk is the cinnamon stays equally distributed throughout the mixture, unlike milk where it floats to the top! 

Buttermilk French Toast4

Buttermilk French Toast5

Buttermilk French Toast6
It used up the all the buttermilk mixture perfectly – I love efficiency! 

Buttermilk French Toast7

Buttermilk French Toast

Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

I decided to take my new mini-loaf pan for a spin this morning with a new recipe. The three browning bananas on my counter have been calling my name but I thought I’d go for something other than your standard banana bread. And as I was thinking about bananas, old memories of peanut butter, banana and honey sandwiches came to me, and so that was my inspiration for this bread. I added chocolate chips, because well, I like chocolate, so why not?

The bread turned out really good. It’s moist, it’s heavy, and rich, and the peanut butter makes it stick to the roof of your mouth. My little taste-testers (Brogan and Beckett) also approved.

Peanut butter banana bread2

Peanut Butter Banana Bread with Chocolate Chips

3 (really) ripe bananas
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup oatmeal
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

1.) In an electric stand mixer on the lowest setting, add bananas, butter, brown sugar and peanut butter and beat until smooth. Then add egg, vanilla, honey and buttermilk.
2.) In a medium size bowl, combine oatmeal, flour, baking soda and salt. Mix together and then slowly pour into the liquid mixture. Beat until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
3.) Pour into 8 buttered mini loaf pans or 1 standard loaf pan. Bake in a 350 degree oven; about 30 minutes for the mini loaf pans and about 1 hour for the standard. Insert a toothpick in the center of the bread to test if it’s done.

Peanut butter banana batter

Buttered mini loaf pans
To butter the pans, I placed a little bit of softened butter in each loaf pan and then rubbed it around with a paper towel. The loaves slid out very easily.

Peanut butter banana bread

Peanut butter banana bread baked

Peanut butter banana bread1

My little photo shoot helpers… can you tell they were ready to eat?

Photoshoot helper Brogan

Photoshoot helper Beckett

Cinnamon Bread

Anyone eat cinnamon toast growing up? White bread, slathered with butter, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar?? I loved that stuff! It was such a treat when my mom would let me make it… oh, and at grandma’s house… I always had it there (because you get whatever you want at your grandparents’, right??).

But I did not go in search of cinnamon toast when looking for this recipe. Actually, it was more of a practical search. I had buttermilk. A lot of it. The best by date says tomorrow. So I searched Pinterest for buttermilk bread… scrolled through dozens of pictures until I found this one. Looked interesting. Had a lot of repins. Pretty simple – flour, buttermilk, butter, sugar, cinnamon, eggs and baking soda. But perhaps there was something familiar about these flavors that had my subconscious drawing me to it. And come about minute 25 in the oven when it really started smellin’ up the kitchen that I thought, OH MY GOSH THAT SMELLS JUST LIKE CINNAMON TOAST!!! I HAVEN’T HAD CINNAMON TOAST IN YEARS!!! Yes, I was thinking in all caps. It was that exciting.

I made a couple of changes to the recipe… did half brown and half white sugar, added a little ginger, added cinnamon to the batter, and topped it with a streusel. (I made a pumpkin bread with a streusel and I’m addicted – all my future breads may be streuseled!)

Ok, so I just tried it. Holy cow. Turns out it’s a cross between cinnamon toast and a cinnamon bun. I usually don’t start typing up a post about food until I’ve tried it… but I had a good feeling about this one.  This stuff is sinful – too much butter, too much sugar, but ohhh so good and worth every calorie.

Cinnamon Bread

1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger

Cinnamon Sugar Topping and Streusel 

3 tbsp white sugar
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger
3 tbsp softened butter (add at the end)

1.) Cream butter, sugar and egg with an electric mixer. Add buttermilk, then flour, baking soda, cinnamon and ginger. Beat until smooth.
2.) Mix together the sugars, cinnamon and ginger for the topping. Pour half of the batter into a buttered and floured loaf pan. Sprinkle with about 3 tbsp of the sugar and spice mix. Pour the remaining batter on top.
3.) Add the softened butter to the remaining spice mix. With a fork, mix until fully incorporated. Place small dollops of the buttered sugar spice mix all over the top. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Then make your self a plate, unbutton your pants and try to not eat the whole thing (as I’m eating my second piece… within 10 minutes… in yoga pants).

Modified from Amish Cinnamon Bread

Cinnamon Bread Batter

Buttering a dish

Flouring a dish

First layer of sugar and spice

Cinnamon Bread Streusel

Cinnamon Bread1

Cinnamon Bread

Pumpkin Bread with Tangerine Streusel

It’s been a couple of weeks and I’ve been itching for more pumpkin – it was time for another pumpkin bread. The boys and I love having yummy breads for breakfast, but it can take so long to make in the morning. So I made this bread tonight and we will enjoy it tomorrow without the wait!

I looked to a couple recipes for the inspiration for this bread, but thought I’d jazz it up a little with some tangerine zest. Let me tell you – I had never had pumpkin with tangerine before, but oh. my. gosh. it is awesome! (Okay, so I know this is supposed to be for breakfast tomorrow, but I had to try it!) The tangerine in the batter adds just a little flavor enhancement, but the tangerine in the streusel takes this over the edge. The bread is very moist and the crunch of the streusel is the perfect compliment. Do yourself a favor and try this one out – you will not be sorry!

Pumpkin Bread with Tangerine Streusel

Pumpkin Bread

Dry Ingredients
1 1/4 cup flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp cloves
3/4 cup white sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar

Wet Ingredients
1 15-oz can pumpkin
2 eggs
1/2 cup oil
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp tangerine zest (from 1 tangerine)

Streusel Topping
2 tbsp butter, softened
4 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tangerine zest (from 1 tangerine)
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ginger

1 tsp sugar (to finish)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a loaf pan.
2.) In a medium sized bowl, mix together all dry ingredients. Set aside.
3.) Using a stand mixer (or hand mixer), blend wet ingredients until well combined. Slowly add dry ingredients until fully incorporated. Pour into loaf pan.
4.) In a small bowl, combine streusel topping ingredients and mix well with a fork. Sprinkle the batter with the streusel, making sure it is evenly distributed. Finish with a dusting of sugar.
5.) Bake for 1 hour, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.

Brogan Baking
I had the best little helper tonight!

Buttered and Floured
Trick to greasing a dish – use room temp butter, hold it in a paper towel and rub it all over. Then pour some flour in the pan and move it around until covers the entire surface. Works like a charm!

Pumpkin Bread Batter Pumpkin bread with tangerine Tangerine Streusel Pumpkin Bread with Tangerine Streusel3 Pumpkin Bread with Tangerine Streusel2

Brogan doing dishes
And my little helper even did the dishes (for real!) – I was pretty impressed!

Adapted from Easy Pumpkin Bread and Streusel Topped Pumpkin Bread

Pumpkin Raisin Bread

It was time to check off my next milestone of the almost-fall: making something with pumpkin.  After a near meltdown at Publix over my inability to locate pumpkin on the shelf and the associate’s misinformation about the availability of said pumpkin, all was resolved and I left satisfied with my two cans of Libby’s.  I was craving some pumpkin bread and luckily I was able to make it happen this morning.  I decided to look for a recipe with raisins because my boys love them (especially Beckett)!  I found a recipe on Pinterest that was mostly what I was looking for but I made a couple of modification.  It appeared to be a “healthier” version of pumpkin bread, so I did what any other Southern food junkie would do and added butter and more sugar.  So if you’re looking for a lighter version, you may want to stick closer to the original recipe.  The bread turned out great – it was very moist and the perfect flavor.  If we did nuts in my house, walnuts would have been a nice addition.  So cheers to fall – one more week! Now let’s eat some pumpkin!

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Pumpkin Raisin Bread

1 stick of butter (softened)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 14.5-oz can pumpkin
2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cloves
1 cup raisins

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
2.) In a stand mixer, cream butter and sugar.  Add pumpkin and eggs, one at a time.
3.) In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves.  Slowly add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture with mixer on low speed.  Mix until just combined. Stir in raisins.
4.) Pour into a greased and floured loaf pan and bake for 60 to 70 minutes (it took mine exactly 65 minutes) or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

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Adapted from Who Needs A Diet’s Pumpkin-raisin Bread

Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

A brunch at Brogan’s school this week meant I was baking on a weeknight.  I decided on this Lemon Poppy Seed Cake because first, I have made it before and it was excellent, second, it was pretty easy, and third, I had everything on hand.  Grocery shopping is not a Monday through Friday activity for me.

This is called a cake, but it’s closer to a bread to me – either way it’s perfect for breakfast or brunch.  I found this on Pinterest and modified the original recipe by using buttermilk instead of heavy cream, a little more sugar and modifying the temp and cooking time (the first time I made it this took forever to cook!) This cake is moist and full of sweet lemony flavor.  The poppy seeds add a little texture and a nice nutty flavor.  It’s very good, take my word!

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Lemon Poppy Seed Cake

2 cups of sifted all-purpose flour*
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp poppy seeds
1 stick of butter (room temp)
1 cup + 1 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup buttermilk
Zest of 2 lemons (about 2 tbsp)
4 eggs
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp vanilla
Jam

*If you’re too lazy to sift the flour (like me), just use a little less. 

1.) Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease and flour a 12″ x 4″ loaf pan.
2.) Stir together the flour, baking powder, poppy seeds and salt in a large bowl.
3.) Using a stand mixer, combine butter, sugar, buttermilk and lemon zest and beat until creamy.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time.  Add vegetable oil, vanilla and lemon juice.  Beat well to incorporate.
4.) Add in the flour mixture a little at a time, beating on low just until fully combined.  Pour batter into loaf pan.
5.) Bake for 65 minutes. Test with a toothpick to make sure it’s done in the middle.  Serve with jam on top – fig preserves are my favorite!

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Modified from Cafe Fernando’s Lemon Poppy Seed Cake.