Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Make a Salmon Seafood Lover Out of You!

I happen to love salmon.  In fact, I think it's my favorite food.  As it should be!  I mean, I grew up in Portland, and what Portlander would be a true northwesterner without a love for microbrews and Pacific Northwest cuisine?

But if you--like my husband--have been a critic of salmon, let me assure you, I have a salmon recipe that seems to please the masses...even those who say they don't like salmon.  But there are a few keys to doing it right.

I've found that the majority of people cook salmon incorrectly.  They cook it way too long.  I think we have a fish phobia in the US, and forget that there are regions of the world that eat fish mostly raw.  Yet we insist on cooking it until all the juices and flavors are gone.  Personally, I recommend cooking salmon on a hot grill, using a bowl I craft out of aluminum foil.  This keeps the juices from spilling on the bbq and locks flavor in.

Finally, be sure to take the salmon off the grill when the center is still slightly pink (not like cooked pink, but the natural color of raw salmon pink).  If your grill is hot enough, it will cinge a crispy outside on the fish, while keeping it juicy and delicious on the inside.

One more thing...did you know that some salmon travel as far as Japan from the Pacific coast before venturing back to the river where they were born?  That's a long way to travel, so show them some respect and cook 'em good!

Asian Salmon with Wasabi Mashed Potatoes and Sesame Green Beans (shown here with different potato)


Salmon -
Large filet of salmon, skin on
1/4C Olive Oil
1/2C Soy Sauce
1/4C Brown Sugar
2 Packets of Sugar Substitute
Garlic Salt (a dash, to taste)

Potatoes -
4 - 5 Potatoes
Salt and Pepper
2TBSP Butter
1/2C Sour Cream
Wasabi Paste or Powder  (to taste, strength varies)

Green Beans -
1Lb of Fresh Green Beans, trimmed
1TSP Sesame Oil
1TSP of Ginger
1 Clove of Garlic, minced
2-4TBSP of Soy Sauce

Combine Olive oil, soy sauce, sugar, garlic salt, and sugar substitute in a large, shallow dish.  Add fish, and marinate salmon for 1-2 hours.

Once marinated, create a BBQ bowl out of tin foil and add fish and juices to tin bowl.  BBQ skin side down in bowl for 5-7 minutes, and rotate.  Take off grill when outside is almost crispy but inside is still slightly pink.

Meanwhile, boil and mash potatoes.  Add remaining ingredients and mix well.

For green beans, add sesame oil to pan on high heat.  Add ginger, garlic, and finally green beans.  Saute over high heat for 1-2 minutes.  Add soy sauce and cook until green beans start to change color, but before they get soft.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Trick and Treat: Copycat Pottery Barn Stratton Bed

What's the trick? Fooling people into thinking we would spend $1200 on a Pottery Barn bed.  What's the treat?  Check out this beautiful knock-off my husband made for my sister for her birthday.

Two months ago, I was at a complete loss of what to buy my sister for her birthday.  Afterall, she deserves something good because she's my live-in sister, babysitter, friend, and sous chef.  She has been talking about this bed in the Pottery Barn catalog for years, and kept saying it was going to be her "one big splurge" someday to go with her Tiffany-Blue Bedroom.  And I got to thinking...there's nothing really to that bed, is there?

So I gave my husband the challenge and he succeeded with flying colors.  Here's the look we were going for:

The Pottery Barn Stratton Bed $1200
And here's the finished product:

Our version of the Stratton Bed ($182 for supplies plus $90 for baskets)

The best part is the bed can be modified to accommodate a King mattress in the future
It was a long, three week process, but I think it turned out great.  So proud of my hubby who built it, and my dad who painted it (he's a professional painter, so we kind of lucked out).  All the lumber for the project was less than $180, and the baskets were on clearance at World Market, so I got all six for about $90.

Here are the resources we used to build the frame:

Pink Toes and Power Tools
Snug as a Bug Baby

So this week's challenge?  Go out and find something you love...and then make it yourself (or make your husband!).  Happy Friday!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Even Better Now - OMG Delicious Havest Pasta

 Last Fall, I shared with you my recipe for Butternut Squash-Stuffed Pasta Shells.  They are OMG delicious...but wait!  I've found a way to make them ever better.  Yes, it's true, it can be done!

So how did I come up with genius?  Well, honestly, the original recipe was a loose interpretation of a pumpkin stuffed shell I saw.  I couldn't find pumpkin, so I used squash instead.  But this time, I used the pumpkin and it was just as amazing and a lot easier.

Also, I decided last time that the shells were a little dry.  I've found that Romano and Parmesan can be a little dry and tasteless, so lately I've been substituting half of the Romano in all my recipes with Whipped Cream Cheese.  OMG!  I was so spot on with this one.  Finally, I decided Vodka sauce would be better with pumpkin than a standard marinara.  Turns out this was true also.

One more note about this recipe.  It is both vegetarian and lower in fat because the pumpkin adds body and taste without fat!  You can also make this ahead of time, and cook the following day.
So, here you go...an updated version to favorite Fall recipe.

Pumpkin-Stuffed Pasta Shells


24 Jumbo Pasta Shells
1C of Fat Free Ricotta
3/4C of Whipped Cream Cheese
1/2 a Butternut Squash, cooked and mashed (I just cooked it in the microwave), OR 3/4 Can of Pumpkin Puree
1/2C Grated Romano/Parmesan Blend
1 Egg White
2 Cloves of Garlic (I used minced garlic in the jar, 2TBSP)
1C Fresh Basil, chopped
1TBSP Chopped Fresh Sage, minced, plus a 5 leaves
1/4C of Walnuts or Almonds (Hazelnuts would be delicious too!)
1TSP Salt
1TSP Pepper
Dash of Nutmeg
1 Jar of Spaghetti Sauce (I used Vodka Sauce, but Marinara works, too)

1. Cook pasta shells according to instructions.  Rinse with cool water and drain. 

2. Coat the bottom of a baking pan with spaghetti sauce.  Set aside.

3. In a bowl, mix Ricotta, cream cheese, Romano/Parmesan, egg white, garlic, basil, and chopped sage together.  Add squash and walnuts, salt and pepper.
4. Spoon a portion of the stuffing into each of the cooked pasta shells, and layer in the pan atop the spaghetti sauce.  Drizzle or spray a light amount of olive oil over the shells. Drizzle a bit of the spaghetti sauce atop the shells also.

5. At this point, you could refrigerate the dish until ready to cook or cook immediately.
6. Cook covered in aluminum foil for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.  
7. While the pasta is cooking, spritz a small amount of butter or olive oil and garlic salt in a pan and brown.  Add the leaves of fresh sage and crisp.  Lightly salt.
8. After 30 minutes of cooking the pasta, uncover and cook an additional five minutes. Top with the sage leaves and fresh Parmasan and enjoy!