Monday, April 24, 2017

Salmon with Spinach Puree and Lemony Garlic Butter

Ingredient List

3/4 pound salmon divided into 2 portions
5 ounces spinach
1/2 pound baby asparagus
2 tablespoons butter for the asparagus
1 tablespoon olive oil for the asparagus
1 tablespoon butter for the spinach puree
1 tablespoon butter for the sauce
Oregano for the sauce, as desired
Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper throughout the dish as desired

Juice of 2 Lemons

Lemon juice for the butter sauce, as desired
Lemon juice for the spinach puree as desired


Brush with olive oil on both sides. Season both sides with salt and pepper.

Bake in preheated 200 degree oven for 40-45 minutes.

Spinach Puree

Steam 5 ounces of spinach until wilted.

Put the spinach and cooking water into a blender and puree until very smooth.

Put the puree back into the cooking pot. Season with salt, pepper, butter and lemon juice.

Simmer until thickened. It should coat the back of a spoon - thick enough that you can't shake it off.

Garlic Lemon Butter

Combine minced garlic with softened butter. Melt in a microwave. Season with salt, pepper, oregano and lemon juice.


Trim the hard ends off of the asparagus.

Sautee in a pan with butter, olive oil, salt and pepper for about 3 minutes. You still want some crunch, not mush.


Put the puree on a plate.

Place the salmon in the center. Add the asparagus. Dot all over with the garlic lemon butter.

The puree is excellent. You might want some crusty bread to sop up some of the sauce.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Light Lime Pie

This was an exercise in overcoming failures in the kitchen. In the end, I saved the pie.

First, I tried to put my twist on the dessert by candying some shaved lime peels. They came out like sugar coated rubber strips.

Next, the whipped cream. It didn't whip. I was using light cream. If you freeze a stainless steel bowl, pour in the cream, even low fat cream should whip. It didn't. It did however triple in volume though it never got to the soft peak stage.

I remixed the milk, lime and cream with a hand mixer on high. The pie did set up after about 3 hours in the refrigerator.

I tried freezing it as well and the result is what I would call, an "ice box" cake. The texture of the frozen cream filling was very good.

Refrigerated or frozen, give it a try.

1 store bought graham cracker lined pie plate
1 14 ounce can light, sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 cup lime juice (4 to 5 limes)
Lime zest from 1 lime
1 cup light cream

Wash the limes. Juice enough limes until you have 1/2 cup.

Zest a lime with a microplane or the use finest openings on a box grater. Add to the condensed milk. Add the lime juice.

Mix the condensed milk, lime juice and zest on high until slightly fluffy.

Whip the cream and add to the milk and lime mixture. Mix on high again for 2 minutes.

Pour into the pie crust.

Refrigerate for at least 3 hours so it sets up. Alternatively, you can freeze the pie to make a frozen dessert.

Decorate with lime pieces.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Picnic Time - Salad in a Jar

You can have an ice cold salad on a hot sunny day. Put it in a jar! It takes up less space in the cooler and you eat it right out of the container. Make a jar for each person.

Layer your favorite salad ingredients into a Mason jar. At this point, you can cap it and put in the fridge for later. Or, add the salad dressing we made previously and give the salad jar a little shake.

It is now ready to be forked and enjoyed.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Salad Dressing in a Jar

I haven't bought salad dressing in a few years now. It is simple and inexpensive to make. This is an all purpose dressing.

Here we use a Mason jar as container. They are fantastic, cheap and used for canning and preserving as well.

Walmart, Kmart and grocery stores carry some brand of Mason jar in various sizes and quantities. I am using a wide-mouth 32 ounce jar. You can also use a clean, spaghetti sauce jar. 

You'll need this stuff:

200 ml red wine vinegar (about 3/4 cup)
200 ml extra virgin olive oil (about 3/4 cup)
2 rounded tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon sugar

Put all the ingredients in the jar and shake.

The mixture stays emulsified for quite a long time before the oil and vinegar separate.

I am using a 1 to 1 ratio of oil to vinegar. I like dressing with a punch. The sugar and extra virgin olive oil tame the tartness from the vinegar and mustard.

Possible Additions: Finely grated garlic; minced onion; lemon juice

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Picnic Time - Classic American Potato Salad

What kind of potato? The new potatoes below worked well. Normally you would peel the potato, but the thin skin on the new potato (I think it might be a baby Russet) means peeling them is optional.

I did peel the carrot before grating. I also peeled the fibrous outer layer on the celery.

4 medium new potatoes - about 1-1/4 pounds - cut into bite-sized pieces
1/4 cup of white vinegar
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped
1 rib of celery, diced small
1/3 of a large carrot, grated
3 heaping tablespoons of light mayonnaise
1 heaping tablespoon of bright, green, sweet relish
1/2 teaspoon of celery seed
1/2 teaspoon of fresh ground black pepper
1 pinch of kosher salt if needed
1 gallon of well salted water in a pot for boiling the potatoes

Cut the potatoes in half length-wise. Cut the halves in half length-wise.

Slice into bite sized pieces.

Boil the sliced potatoes in the salty water for 25 minutes or until tender.

While boiling, grate the carrot. Finely chop the celery. Peel and chop the hard boiled eggs.

Drain the water and potatoes into a colander. While still hot, sprinkle the white vinegar on the potatoes while still in the colander. Transfer to a big bowl.

Add all the other ingredients and gently fold the mixture well with a rubber spatula.

The white vinegar adds a crisp punch of acid. I like it best for this recipe.

The "secret" ingredients in this recipe are the celery seed and sweet relish.


  • Substitute apple cider vinegar

  • Add chopped, crispy bacon or finely chopped ham

  • Add hot sauce

  • Substitute sour cream for the mayonnaise

  • Add finely chopped red onion or shallots

It's important to sprinkle on the vinegar while the potatoes are still hot so they absorb the flavor.

If the sliced potatoes are cooked in well salted water, you should not need salt for this recipe. Possibly, you may want to add a pinch to the final product based on taste.

This recipe makes 8-10 servings at about .25 cents per serving.

Picnic Time - Classic Coleslaw

I see these 16 ounce containers of prepared coleslaw in the market. $4.99 seems like a lot of money for cabbage. You can make it fresh yourself for less than a dollar. It's about .20 cents per serving. This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings. Double the recipe if you need more.

1/4 head green cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 large carrot, grated
2 rounded tablespoons light mayonnaise
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Remove the hard white core from the cabbage. Slice the cabbage as thin as you can.

Grate the carrot on a box grater or in a food processor. Place all the ingredients in a container.


Apple cider vinegar and cabbage work well together. Sprinkle in the vinegar. Toss by hand. Add the salt and pepper and toss again.

Finally, mix in the mayonnaise. Mix well.

You can eat it right away. It will be better if you keep it in the fridge overnight. The vinegar will soften the cabbage slightly. The salt will pull some water out of the cabbage. Mix it again. It will be nice and creamy.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Angel Food Cake with Strawberry Preserves

This is one great tasting cake.

The idea was to create a cake to hold fresh fruit preserves. In this case, angel food cake seemed like a better choice than say a pound cake. Angel food cake has lots of protein from the egg whites and is fat-free. There is plenty of sugar, though.

I followed the recipe on Alternatively, you get the cake mix in a box from the local market. It's a real time saver.

Because it is generally just me and sometimes a 'plus one', I scaled the recipe back by 25%.

I used a regular cake pan instead of the traditional tube pan. Why? To better hold the berries.

The strawberries: I sliced up two pounds of strawberries, put them in a pot with one cup of sugar and a splash of water. They simmered for about an hour, only because the strawberries gave off so much liquid, it took that long for them to come to a syrup-like consistency.

Top the cake with the strawberry preserve, slice and enjoy.

Leftover preserves? Add to plain yogurt. Top pancakes, waffles or ice cream.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Chicken Stock - Roast Chicken Part 4

We roasted a chicken. We made chicken chili and chicken salad. Now we'll make stock.

What good is stock? You can sip it hot as a cure-all with a little salt and lemon juice added. Or, you can make chicken soup. You can use it as the base for other soups like my hot and sour soup here.

Put the leftover carcass in a big pot. Add a little more than a gallon (1 gallon plus 16 ounces) of bottled or purified water to the pot.

Bring to a boil and simmer for three hours. Take off the heat.

Strain the chicken stock through a mesh strainer into a big bowl. Ladle the stock into Mason jars. A funnel helps.

If you want to go the extra step, boil the filled Mason jars in water, enough to cover, for 20 minutes. Re-tighten the lids. The chicken stock should now be shelf stable at room temperature for at least a month. If refrigerated, it will keep much longer. If frozen, one year would be not be unreasonable.

Chicken Salad - Roast Chicken Part 3

We made the chicken. We made the chili. We still have meat leftover. Here is a classic chicken salad.

1 pound leftover chicken, chopped
1 medium carrot 
1-1/2 stalks celery 
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
2-1/2 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons light mayonnaise

Chop the celery and carrot finely in a mini food processor. Alternatively, you can get a workout using a chef's knife.

Chop up the chicken with a chef's knife. The mini-prep will turn into mush - unless that's what you want. It could be like a dip.

Combine all the ingredients, mixing well. Adjust the seasonings to your particular taste.


Monday, April 10, 2017

Garlic Bread

1 Loaf Italian bread
1 stick of unsalted butter (8 tablespoons)
4 cloves minced garlic
Kosher salt

I like garlic bread with "saucy" recipes like the chicken chili in a previous post.

Bring a stick butter to room temperature. Add the garlic and salt.

Smash all the ingredients together with a fork.

Put the mixture in a sheet of plastic wrap and roll up. Refrigerate or use right away.

Butter the Italian bread. Heat through in a 400 degree oven for 5 minutes and slice into serving size pieces.

The Easiest Omelette in the World

1 or 2 tablespoons good olive oil
2 eggs, beaten
Salt and pepper

Feta cheese and chopped tomato filling - or filling(s) of your choice

Beat the eggs with a fork, stirring 110 times Why 110? Why not? Todd English told me.

Add olive oil to a fairly hot pan. Add the eggs. Add the fillings.

Cook until the eggs firm up and there is nothing runny on top. Flip in half with a spatula. You may have to loosen up the edges of the omelette to make it "flippable."

As you can see, I didn't quite fold it in half. However, flip the omelette over again onto a plate and no one will ever know you screwed up.

I garnished with some of the chunky salsa I made previously.

Chicken Chili - Roast Chicken Part 2

So we've had the chicken dinner and still plenty of chicken left over. What to do? Make the easiest chili recipe in the world.

1 pound chicken, chopped or shredded into small pieces - white meat and dark meat
3 cups crushed or diced tomatoes
1 15 ounce can of pink beans, drained
1 orange or yellow pepper cut into small strips
1 handful of chopped onion
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup water
1 packet chili seasoning mix
Optional garnish: Any or all of cilantro, cheddar cheese, lime juice, chopped white onion, crushed corn tortilla chips

It doesn't get any easier than this. Put everything in a big pot (except for the chili seasoning). Bring to a simmer.

Stir in the seasoning mix. Simmer another 20 minutes. Done.


Saturday, April 8, 2017

Chunky Salsa

Tomato, jalapeno, garlic, onion and cilantro make the base.

Place the veg into a container and season with salt, red wine vinegar and honey. It was pretty watery. I used some corn flour to thicken it up and tone down the heat from the jalapeno.

Sometimes the jalapeno is like a green pepper and has no heat (but good flavor). Then there are ones that are super hot. My jalapeno was somewhere in-between. I used a whole one, seeds and all. The back of my mouth is still burning. Oh, and when you are done handling the peppers, wash your hands. Even the slightest bit of pepper oil from the pepper skin will get on your fingers. The last thing you want to do is then rub your eye or some other sensitive spot.

When working with jalapenos, cut a small slice from the pepper and taste. This way you can judge the heat.

Stir everything together. You can enjoy immediately or wait until the next day after all the flavors have been combined well.

This is a dip but I'll spoon it on an omelette; put it on a hot dog; put it on a burrito; in a taco or as a topping for a bowl of chili.

Friday, April 7, 2017

How to Roast a Chicken

A whole chicken. What a deal. Purdue, on sale for .99 cents a pound. Seven pounds of protein for seven bucks.

You can have a couple of nice chicken dinners. With what's left, we can make chicken chili. Maybe some chicken salad too. When there is nothing left, we can make stock from the bones and the chicken neck in the gizzard bag. But, it all starts with the roast chicken.

Cut up the vegetables and the fruit that we will stuff inside the chicken cavity. They will provide moisture.

For flavor, season the cavity with salt, pepper, rosemary, sage, thyme and bay leaves. Stuff with the ingredients above.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Oil the chicken skin with vegetable oil. Why not butter or olive oil? Because either one of those will tend to burn at a high temperature. Season with salt, pepper and sage. Don't skimp on the salt. It's a big bird. Rub the seasoning into the skin.

Season the back and the breast. Tie up the legs. Why? I don't know. Every recipe you see wants you to "truss" the chicken. Far be it from me to break with tradition.

Pour one to two cups of water into the roasting pan. With the moisture in the chicken cavity and the water in the pan, we are doing whatever we can to ensure a moist bird. Why not brine? Brining the bird does work but I didn't want to make this an all-day project.

Roast in a 400 degree oven for 1 hour and 45 minutes. All ovens are different. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature in the breast and thigh after 1 hour and 30 minutes. Ultimately we are looking for a temperature of slightly over 160 in the breast and not over 200 in the thigh.

160 is the magic number after which 99.9% of bacteria can't survive. I got 165 in the breast and 185 in the thigh.

Let the chicken rest for 20 minutes, tented with foil before carving.