Saturday, December 29, 2012

Smoked Salmon Pasta

This was a really delightful surprise.  I had run across some salmon in the freezer which  I had smoked a few months ago and knew I needed to use it immediately.  I also had some fresh dill on hand I wanted to use, so I did a quick search for a recipe.  

And I hit the jackpot.  This is truly a lovely, light dinner.  It would make a great summer meal.  I served it with steamed asparagus on the side, but you could certainly just add it directly into the pasta dish.

Use hot-smoked salmon for this dish.  Also, personally, I would probably double the amount of pine nuts, and add more lemon juice and zest.


8 oz spaghetti
1/4 cup pine nuts
2 Tbsp EVOO
1/3 cup chopped shallots (or finely minced sweet onions)
2 cloves (2 tsp) garlic, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup cream
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp lemon zest, divided
2 Tbsp (or more) freshly chopped parsley or dill (use the dill!!!)
4 oz smoked salmon, cut into bit-sized pieces
Freshly ground, coarse black pepper

Heat to boiling a large pot with at least 4 quarts of water in it.  While the water is heating, brown the pine nuts (optional).  Put the pine nuts in a single layer in a large skillet.  Heat on medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and lightly browned.  Remove pine nuts from pan and set aside.

Once the water is boiling, salt with 1 Tbsp of salt for every 4 quarts of water.   Once the water returns to a boil, add the pasta to the pot.  Leave uncovered, on high heat and let cook with a vigorous boil.  Put the timer on for 8-10 minutes, or whatever your pasta package says is appropriate for al dente (cooked, but still a little firm).

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the sauce.  In a large skillet heat olive oil on medium-high.  Add the shallots and garlic, cook for 2 minutes, then add white wine, lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp of lemon zest.  Increase the heat and let boil down by half.  If you want a slightly creamier sauce, add the cream and let boil a minute more.  (The sauce should be done about the same time the pasta is done.  If you get done earlier with it than the pasta, take it off of the heat.)

Once the pasta is done, and before draining the pasta, scoop out one cup of the pasta cooking liquid and reserve.  Drain the pasta and add it to the skillet with the sauce.  Add back some of the pasta cooking liquid to the pasta if it is a little dry.  Add the smoked salmon, pine nuts, parsley or dill, and the remaining lemon zest.  Season with black pepper. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Very Easy Mushroom Barley Soup

I had some leftover mushrooms I wanted to use up and I love having soup in the frig, especially during cold weather.  Looking through my vegetables and grains, I found I had enough to make this recipe.  You can either use regular barley or quick-cooking barley.  It's a great meal by itself or with a salad and some crusty bread.  Personally, it makes a fantastic breakfast for me!


1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup diced carrots
1/2 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp minced garlic
1 pound sliced fresh mushrooms
6 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup barley
S&P to taste

Heat the oil in a large soup pot over medium heat.  Add the onion, carrots, celery, and garlic; cook and stir until onions are tender and transparent.  Stir in the mushrooms and continue to cook for a few minutes.  

Pour in the chicken broth and add barley.  Bring to a boil; then reduce heat to low.  Cover and simmer until barley is tender (about 50 minutes for regular barley, 10-15 for quick-cooking barley).  Season with S&P before serving.  

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

After the last month of Thanksgiving, Christmas, turkey, turkey, turkey, I was much in need of some seafood.  Here is an incredibly easy, delicious entree.  No need to fire up the grill (although you certainly could), but I had this dish (with Christmas leftover side dishes) on the table within half an hour.  I made the sauce this afternoon, giving it time to blend the flavors.

I served it with leftover Brussels sprouts (with some of the leftover chopped fresh dill) and the three cheese potatoes (cheddar, Parmesan, bleu cheese.....oh so good!)


1 salmon fillet, 1/2 to 3/4 pound (skin left on)
lemon-pepper seasoning
onion salt
1/4 small onion, thinly sliced and separated
3 thin lemon slices, cut in half

Line a baking dish with heavy-duty foil; grease lightly.  Place salmon skin-side down on foil.  Sprinkle with lemon-pepper and onion salt.  Top with onion and lemon.  Fold foil around salmon; seal tightly.

Bake at 350F for 20 minutes.  Open foil carefully, allowing steam to escape.  Broil 4-6" from the heat for 5-8 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serve with dill sauce. 

Dill Sauce:
1/4 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp mayo
1 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp capers

Combine all ingredients.  Prepare several hours or the day before to allow the flavors to blend. 

Monday, December 24, 2012

Cheeseburger Potato and Fire-Roasted Tomato Soup

This is a great quick and easy meal to make, especially when you're in the midst of working on a Christmas dinner.  The soup only took a few minutes and just top a baked potato with ingredients you'd find on a burger!


In a skillet, season and cook 1/4 pound of ground beef (I used ground turkey breast).  Top 4 baked potatoes with beef, shredded cheddar, chopped tomato, chopped onion, and shredded lettuce.

Recipe Source: Everday Food, December 2012


Heat two 10 3/4 oz can of condensed tomato soup, one 12 oz can and one 5 oz can of evaporated milk (I used fat-free), and one 14 1/2 oz can undrained  fire-roasted diced tomatoes until hot.  Serve with sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and bacon bits.

Recipe Source: Taste of Home, October 2012

Now, back to working on Christmas dinner.  Merry Christmas, everyone!!!!

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Easiest Ever Chicken and Dumplings

I love chicken and dumplings.  Unfortunately, Jim doesn't share my enthusiasm.  But every once and I while I'll prepare something just for me.  He's a sport, though, and will always join me.  So I was shocked when he commented on just how good this is.  I'm I can confidently make chicken and dumplings and not feel like I'm cheating him out of a good meal!

A few weeks ago I decided I wanted to try a pressure cooker so I pick up a digital Cooks Essentials pressure cooker.  And I love it.  I cook a roast or chicken every week for The Girls and with a pressure cooker it cooks in a third of the time.  And anything you cook in it comes out moister and infused with flavor.  The new-generation pressure cookers are so safe and easy.

So this is a Pressure Cooker recipe.  And it's a great excuse to try something new!


3 Tbsp butter
1 to 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts and/or thighs
1 sweet onion, diced
6 cups chicken stock or broth
3 ribs celery, sliced
1 1/2 cups baby carrots
1 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp pepper
1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
1 3/4 cups Bisquick baking mix
2/3 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/4 cup heavy cream (I used half-and-half)

With the cooker's lid off, heat butter on HIGH or "brown," until melted and sizzling.

Generously season chicken with S&P, place in cooker, and cook until lightly browned, about 5 minutes.

Add in onion, chicken stock, celery, carrots, thyme, poultry seasoning, and pepper.  Securely lock the pressure cooker's lid and set for 8 minutes on HIGH.

Perform a quick release to release the cooker's pressure.

With the cooker's lid off, set to  HIGH or "brown."  Add in corn kernels and let simmerr.

Meanwhile, whisk together Bisquick baking mix and milk, and drop by the spoonfuls into the pot.  Let dumplings simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Turn off heat, stir in cream and add salt to taste. 

MAKE IT BETTER: Try mixing 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese into the dumpling mixture in step 6 for ever better dumplings.

Recipe Source:  Great Food Fast by Bob Warden  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Upside Down Sausage and Onion Corn Bread

My friend and former neighbor, Pat, sent me the most thoughtful cookbook for Christmas.  It's called "The Pioneer Lady's Country Cookbook" by Jane Watson Hopping.  True foodies love these kind of cookbooks.  It's not just recipes, but stories that go along with the recipes.  And even better, it's divided into 12 sections focusing on the 12 months and seasonal meals.

I was making my favorite navy bean soup last night and spotted this cornbread recipe knowing it would go perfectly.  Plus, with the leftovers I can make what I know will be the best-ever cornbread dressing for Christmas!  Thank you, Pat!


2 medium-sized sweet onions, chopped
1/2 pound ground fresh pork sausage, crumbled (I used one mild and one hot Italian sausage)
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp butter
1/2 cup minced mushrooms
1 cup yellow cornbread
1 cup AP flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1 cup buttermilk

Preheat oven to 350F.  In a 9 or 10" cast-iron skillet, saute the onions and sausage in 3 Tbsp of butter until the sausage is cooked.  Remove from heat and drain off any excess fat, leaving just enough to grease the skillet, about 1 Tbsp.  Add the mushrooms.  Set aside.

In a medium-sized bowl, combine the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda; mix well.  With a pastry blender, cut the remaining 1/2 cup butter into the dry ingredients.

Beat the egg and buttermilk together and add to the dry ingredients, mixing just enough to blend; do not overbeat.  Pour batter evenly over sausage mixture in the frying pan.

Bake until light golden brown on top and firm to the touch, about 25-30 minutes.  Immediately turn onto a serving plate; cut into wedges and serve while hot.  

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Chicken Lo Mein

I love lo mein.  I love the flavor and the versatility.  You can add/subtract what appeals to you.  More vegetables?  Great!  Shrimp instead of chicken?  Perfect.  This is a fantastic starting recipe to begin with.  Adjust this basic recipe to your liking.  I served this with potstickers.

P. S.  Make the entire makes for great leftovers!

CHICKEN LO MEIN (4-6 servings)

1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp oyster sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
4 Tbsp beef broth
1 Tbsp sugar

8 oz linguine or lo mein noodles, prepared to al dente
1 tsp sesame oil

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 large carrot, chopped into 1/2" pieces
1/2 cup chopped cabbage
1 cup sliced mushrooms
1-2 cups bean sprouts
3 green onions, sliced into 1" segments, white and green parts

Combine marinade ingredients with the chicken and allow to sit for 20 minutes.  While the chicken is marinating, prepare the remaining ingredients.

In a small bowl, combine the oyster sauce, soy sauce, beef broth, and sugar.  Set aside.

Boil noodles as per package instructions.  Drain the noodles and toss with the sesame oil.

Heat a wok or large, deep frying pan over medium-high heat.  Add the 1/4 cup of oil.  Add the chicken.  Stir fry chicken until cooked, about 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and set aside.

Add another Tbsp of oil to the pan if needed.  When the oil is hot, add the garlic.  Stir fry until garlic browns, then add the carrots.  Stir fry for about 1 minute, then add the shredded cabbage and mushrooms.  Cook for 2 more minutes.  Add the noodles, bean sprouts, and green onions and cook for about 2 more minutes.

Add the sauce to the pan.  Return the chicken to the pan.  Mix everything together and serve hot.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Salmon Croquettes

I grew up on salmon croquettes.  Granted, it was Oklahoma in the 60's, so of course it was canned salmon.  They were ok and met our needs, but nothing exceptional.

And then I discovered "Cook's Illustrated" salmon croquettes.  Using fresh salmon and Panko breadcrumbs.  Oh my!   All the difference!  This is a standard "comfort food" dinner in our home.  And I always serve it with mac 'n' cheese (any recipe...homemade, of course) and green beans.  It is a meal you can count on.....year after year after year.

SALMON CROQUETTES (makes 4 patties)

3/4 pound salmon fillet, finely chopped
1 Tbsp mayo
2 Tbsp finely grated onion
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
3/4 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste

Egg or Egg Beaters
Panko Breadcrumbs

Mix all of the ingredients together.  Divide the mixture into four parts.  Pat into equal-sized discs.

Place on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper and put into the freezer for 15-30 minutes (30 minutes works better for me......they're not quite frozen, but much firmer than just at 15 minutes.  Makes them much less messier to handle).

Have three plates or bowls ready with the flour, egg, and Panko.  First dip the patty into the flour, then the egg, then the Panko.  Fry in a skillet with either vegetable oil or a pan sprayed with vegetable spray.  Cook until brown on both sides.

Recipe Source:  Cook's Illustrated

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Crab Louis

Yea!  Jim is back on a regular schedule meaning we'll be having dinner together everynight.  And I can get back to regular recipe postings.

He wasn't sure what time he'd be in last night so asked for a light dinner.   Soup or salad.  I don't know why, but Crab Louis jumped to mind.  This is a salad you can pretty much add what you like, but there are some basics you must include.  For this the magic is the dressing.  You can look it up, but there's not too much of a variation.  I found this recipe in the South Beach Diet cookbook.  It is heavenly....good enough on its own.  We even used it to dunk our bread in.

So, for the salad, use what you like.  Here are some standards if you look at a bunch of recipes.  The must-haves are iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, hard-boiled eggs, and of course crabmeat.  Other additions:



1/2 cup mayo
2 Tbsp chili sauce
1 Tbsp grated onion
1 Tbsp chopped parsley
1 Tbsp cream or half-and-half
hot sauce

Mix all ingredients thoroughly.  Let stand for at least an hour to allow flavors to blend.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Baked Mozzarella Bites

OK, really.  Who doesn't just love fried cheese.  It is a decadent, once a year indulgence for me but really.....fried cheese.  Call the cardiologist!

So what a wonderful, a tad bit healthier version of this great snack.  And so easy and so fast!  3 ingredients (plus the marinara sauce).  And a tad bit less guilty!


Mozzarella sticks, cut into 1" pieces
Panko bread crumbs (do not substitute regular bread crumbs)

Preheat oven to 425F.  Dip the cheese pieces in the milk and then roll in the bread crumbs.  Bake for 8 minutes (I like mine a bit "meltier" so I will try 10-12 minutes next time).  Serve with marinara sauce.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Name That Dog

Well, guess what?  Yep, there's a new member of the Fulton family here on Stepping Rock.  Jim called Sunday and said someone at work had a stray that they couldn't keep and "Did I want another dog?!!!!!"  Really?

So that night this little one joined our family.  I'm waiting for Jim to be able to spend some time with us so we can get to know her and give her a name.  She had her first vet appointment this morning.  The veterinarian believes she has a bit of Boston and Jack Russell terrier in her.  She's 14 1/2 pounds (the smallest dog we've ever had).  Her heartworm test was positive so we've already started treating that.  She has a large tumor on her belly and the vets believed it would be better to take care of it right away (heartworm treatment is a 3-month process).  So she'll go back on Thursday for surgery and then hopefully, we be on the path to many more years together.  Oh, they believe she's probably about 8-years-old.

Jim should be back on a regular schedule next week which means.......dinner every night!  So I should be back to regular food postings (and occasional dog info) very soon.  I'm so looking forward to getting back into the kitchen.  I already have a list of "can't wait to try" recipes.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Artichoke and Spinach Dip

This is the classic "as-found-in-many-restaurants" artichoke/spinach dip.  I served it in a bread bowl from Panera, but you could absolutely serve it with chips or crackers.  A basic recipe that is good for just about any occasion.

ARTICHOKE and SPINACH DIP (makes 4 cups)

1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, room temp
1/4 cup mayo
1/4 cup (1 oz) Parmigiano-Reggiano
1/4 cup (1 oz) Pecorino Romano
note:  instead of these two cheeses, I used 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
1 garlic clove, minced (1 tsp)
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp garlic salt
Kosher salt and pepper to taste
1 (14 oz) can artichoke hearts, drained and chopped (I use artichoke bottoms, much more meat, without the prickly leaves) 
1 (10 oz) pkg chopped frozen spinach, thawed and drained, and squeezed dry
1/3 cup (2 1/2 oz) shredded mozzarella
Bread bowl or chips or crackers

Preheat the oven to 350F.  Lightly grease a 1 quart ovenproof baking dish.

Mix together the cream cheese, mayo, cheese(s), garlic, basil, garlic salt, S&P in a medium bowl.  Gently stir in the artichoke hearts and spinach.  Transfer the mixture to prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle the mozzarella on top.

Bake for 25 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned on top.  Transfer the dip to a bread bowl (if using) or serve warm with pita chips or small toast. 

Sunday, December 2, 2012

White Bean and Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

Once again, not the best photo (Thanksgiving was very hectic), but this dip was a big hit with everyone.  Easy to make and perfect for big events because you can make this days ahead.  I made a double batch and, over a week later, I still have some left and it's as good, if not better, than the day it was made.


1 (15 oz) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1/4 cup EVOO
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp onion powder
Pinch cayenne
1 (3-4 oz) jar sun-dried tomatoes packed in olive oil, drained and patted dry
1/2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh chives
Pita chips

Put the beans, lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, onion powder, cayenne, sun-dried tomatoes, rosemary, S&P in a food processor.  Pulse until the mixture is smooth.

Put the dip in a serving bowl.  Before serving, garnish with the chives and serve with a basket of toasted pita chips.  

Recipe Source: Comfort Foods that Take You Home (David Venable)