Sweet and Smokey Salmon with Lemon Pasta and Grilled Asparagus

Salmon – by far, my favorite fish.  It’s healthy, it’s delicious, and it’s hard to mess up. While I typically bake my salmon, last night I decided to throw it on the grill. This was a wild-caught Sockeye Salmon from Costco, which meant it was a perfectly cut filet, de-boned and great price. Win, win, win! I went for the sweet and smokey flavors of honey and Worcestershire along with some garlic and grilled the salmon on top of lemon slices. It turned out awesome! I paired it with grilled asparagus that I marinated in Worcestershire as well and a lemon angel hair pasta tossed with olive oil, butter and fresh basil. Yummy, yum, yum.

Sweet and smokey salmon

 

Sweet and Smokey Grilled Salmon

2 lb salmon filet, skin-on, de-boned
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 tbsp honey
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp pepper
Salt
1 lemon, sliced thin

1.) Rinse salmon filet to ensure there are no scales on the fish. Place in the casserole dish.
2.) In a small bowl, combine Worcestershire sauce, honey, olive oil, garlic, minced onion and pepper. Stir well.
3.) Generously salt the salmon and then pour the marinade over top. Spoon the marinade that collects in the dish back over the salmon to ensure it well covered. Let it marinade for at least 15 minutes.
4.) On a preheated grill, place lemon slices in the shape of the salmon filet. Place the salmon on top and close the grill’s lid. Grill over high heat for about 12 to 15 minutes, or until cooked to desired temp. No need to flip the salmon.

Sweet and smokey salmon1

Sweet and smokey salmon2

Sweet and smokey salmon3

Lemon Pasta

8 ozs angel hair pasta
3 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 cup fresh basil, julienned
1/4 cup parmesan cheese

1.) Boil pasta according to package. Set aside.
2.) In a small sauté pan over medium-high heat, add butter and olive oil. Once butter is melted, add garlic and sauté for about a minute. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Pour sauce over pasta and toss.
3.) Add fresh basil and parmesan and toss some more.

Lemon pasta1

Lemon pasta

Grilled Asparagus

1 lb of asparagus, ends cut off
3 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried minced onion
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper

1.) Place all ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag. Toss well and let sit for about 15 minutes.
2.) On a preheated grill, place asparagus perpendicular to the grill grates.
3.) Grill for about 5 minutes, turn asparagus over, then grill for 5 more minutes.

Grilled asparagus1

Grilled asparagus

Scalloped Potatoes and Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

I love a good side dish. Sometimes, more than the “main course”.  For me, scalloped potatoes have the potential to trump any meat, any day. And while this honey mustard grilled chicken was really good, the scalloped potatoes were great. I’ve attempted these half a dozen times before, but never got it just right. All that practice paid off with these bad boys. Issues I’ve had before – not enough/the right cheese, potatoes not cooked through and overall too bland were solved with using parmesan cheese (and lots of it), cooking it at a high heat (425 degrees) and flavoring it with thyme and green onions. Viola. Awesome potatoes.

Scalloped Potatoes

Scalloped Potatoes

6 medium sized russet potatoes
2 cups parmesan cheese, divided
¼ cup flour
2 tbsp green onions, chopped
1 ½ tsp salt, divided
¼ tsp pepper
1 stick butter, divided
2 cups half and half
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tsp dried thyme

1.)  Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Peel potatoes and slice thin. Place in a bowl of water to prevent discoloring.
2.)  In a separate bowl, stir together 1 ½ cups parmesan cheese, flour, green onions, ¾ tsp salt and pepper. Set aside.
3.)  In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, add half and half, half the stick of butter, garlic, thyme and ¾ tsp salt.  Heat thoroughly and stir occasionally.
4.)  While sauce is heating, place the other half stick of butter in a casserole dish and place in the oven to melt. Watch that it doesn’t burn.
5.)  Drain and dry potatoes. Once butter is melted in the casserole, remove dish from oven and begin by layering a thin layer of potatoes on bottom, sprinkle evenly with the cheese/flour mixture, and then pour some of the sauce on top as well. Repeat until you’ve layered all potatoes (I think I had 4 layers). After the final layer, take remaining ½ cup of parmesan cheese and sprinkle on top.
6.)  Bake for 40 minutes, or until top is golden brown and potatoes are fork-tender.

Scalloped Potatoes1

Scalloped Potatoes2

Scalloped Potatoes3

Scalloped Potatoes4

Scalloped Potatoes5

Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken

3 chicken breasts
¼ cup Dijon mustard (I use Grey Poupon Country Dijon)
1/3 cup honey
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 ½ tsp salt
½ tsp pepper

1.)  Place all ingredients in a gallon Ziploc bag and make sure chicken is evenly coated. Let it sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
2.) Grill on a preheated grill for about 5 to 6 minutes on each side.

Honey Mustard Chicken and Scalloped Potatoes

Mini Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

I felt like baking today and the two brown bananas sitting on my counter prompted me to create these little gems. These cupcakes were another ode to the good ole peanut butter, banana and honey sandwich of my childhood. I opted for mini cupcakes, mainly because I saw some cute little mini cupcake cups at Publix (and bought them, of course). To be honest, I’ve never made mini cupcakes, and thought it would be fun to do something different. Turns out, these cupcakes work perfectly in the mini variety. I know this because I had extra batter (after making 48 little guys) and made 6 standard sized cupcakes. I tried them both, and I think it’s because the little ones provide the perfect ratio of cake to frosting (and you can eat them in one or two bites), that they actually tasted better. The frosting is reminiscent of Reese’s peanut butter cup filling (can you say amazing!) and the light banana flavored cake provides a nice contrast to that richness.  Brogan scarfed down 6 of these things, which I’m certain contributed to his extra-crazy demeanor all day. You’d think I’d know better, but nope, I just keep on baking.

Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Mini Banana Cupcakes with Peanut Butter Frosting

Banana Cupcakes
2 really ripe bananas
1 stick of butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup buttermilk

Peanut Butter Frosting
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup peanut butter (I used all natural, unsweetened)
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1 box powdered sugar
3 tbsp half and half (or more to reach desired consistency)

1.) Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cupcake tins. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
2.) In an electric mixer, combine bananas and butter. Add sugar, vanilla, eggs and sour cream and beat until well combined.
3.) Set mixer to lowest setting and slowly add flour mixture and buttermilk. Do not over beat.
4.) Using a large table spoon, spoon the batter into the cupcake cups until they are about 2/3 – 3/4 full.
5.) Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Yields 60 mini cupcakes.

For the frosting…
1.) In an electric mixer, beat butter, peanut butter, honey and vanilla until well combined.
2.) Slowly add powdered sugar. Frosting will be very thick. Add the half and half to thin it out, using more if needed.
3.) Add to a pastry bag (or ziploc gallon size bag with the corner cut out) to pipe frosting on cooled cupcakes. Start by piping the frosting around the outer perimeter of the cupcake, working your way toward the middle.

Banana cupcakes1

Banana cupcakes2

Banana cupcakes3

Peanut butter frosting

Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting1

Banana cupcakes with peanut butter frosting2

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

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

We enjoyed this salad with our Pork Tenderloin Marsala last night. I can’t take all the credit on this one… I knew what I wanted this to be in theory, but had to call in the real chef (Blake) for the execution on the warm bacon vinaigrette. It turned out great – and the different color tomatoes made it a beautiful salad as well! This would be a great addition to any meal (or make a meal by itself!). Some of the quantities below are approximate – real chefs don’t have time to measure 🙂 Just taste and adjust as needed.

Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Vinaigrette

Salad
Fresh spinach (6 to 8 cups)
6 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 cup golden cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 large tomatoes, cut into slender wedges

Vinaigrette
6 slices of bacon, diced
1/2 of a sweet onion, julienned
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup honey (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

1.) Add ingredients for salad into a salad bowl.
2.) In a nonstick skillet, cook bacon over medium low heat until the fat is rendered (and bacon is starting to get crispy). Add onion, and sauté until onion is soft. Add vinegar, honey, salt and pepper. Taste, and adjust to your liking. Dressing should be tangy and slightly sweet.
3.) Pour warm dressing over spinach salad and toss well.

*Don’t drain the bacon grease – this acts as the oil in the dressing. 

Bacon and onion

Spinach salad with warm bacon vinaigreett