Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter

Alright so this recipe may seem a tad more fancy than what I’ve posted before, but who doesn’t love a nice dinner every once in a while?  I know my roommates and I love sitting down together at the kitchen table and talk about our day’s while enjoying a delicious meal.  I’ve been slowly but surely becoming a salmon fan, so I have been dying to try and make my own.  I came across this recipe that combines lemon, garlic, herbs, and loads of butter to slather over a slow cooked, delicious salmon filet.  The best part is that this recipe is not only extremely simple, but very cheap and affordable.  As I’ve said before, I believe that everyone should EMBRACE SEAFOOD.  Don’t get freaked out by it until you give it a try first and I know that this is a recipe that you will be sure to love. 🙂

Ingredients: 

  • 1 stick butter, room temperature
  • 2 lemons, zested
  • 1/2 tbsp dried dill (or 1/2 bunch fresh, finely chopped dill)
  • 1/2 tbsp dried thyme (or 1/2 bunch fresh, finely chopped thyme)
  • 1 garlic clove, smashed and finely chopped
  • salt
  • 4 salmon fillets
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Directions:

Begin by combining the butter, zest, herbs and garlic in a small bowl.  Stir until the butter mixture is evenly combined.  Season the mixture to taste, with salt.  This butter goes well with other meats and vegetables; therefore, if you have any leftover, don’t be afraid to wrap it up and save it in the fridge for later.

Bring your salmon fillets to room temperature.  Preheat a skillet on medium-low heat.  Coat the salmon fillets evenly with olive oil and then season with salt.  Drizzle olive oil into the skillet.  Place fillets (skin side down if applicable) into the preheated pan.  Cook the salmon for approximately 8 minutes, or until the translucent orange color turns into an opaque pink.  DO NOT FLIP!  It is important to leave the salmon on one side to prevent dryness and falling apart!  If you were to cook this salmon on a grill, you would preheat the grill on medium, brush oil on the grates, place fillets skin side down, cook approximately 8 minutes, and then flip cooking the other side for approximately 2 minutes.

Remove the fillets from the skillet when fully cooked.  Top with the room temperature butter mixture and watch as the hot salmon melts the butter, creating a sauce of sorts.  Serve your salmon immediately, maybe with a side of rice or pasta?  I also sliced up a few lemon wedges to garnish the plate and add as needed.  One of the worst tastes in my opinion, is overcooked salmon, so be sure to keep an eye on the color of the fish and the time as you are cooking it to prevent overcooking and dryness.  I personally loveeeeee this recipe and I really think you will too, so give it a shot and enjoy. 🙂

Shrimp Scampi Linguini

Seafood is my weakness.  Especially as the weather begins to warm up, there is nothing like digging my fork into a juicy piece of grilled salmon or dipping a steamed clam into some melted butter before popping it into my mouth.  Although seafood tends to scare many people off, whether it be due to the “oceany” smell, texture, etc., it is one of those categories of food where I believe that if it is cooked properly utilizing a delicious recipe, anyone can be won over.  The recipe I am about to share with you, is for a type of seafood that I can eat endlessly without ever getting tired of it.  Shrimp.  Shrimp is delicious no matter how it is prepared.  I personally love cold shrimp simply dipped in cocktail sauce; however, this recipe spices things up a bit.  In my opinion, everything is better when paired with some delicious pasta… so let’s get started because I’m starving!

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound linguini
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil, plus a tad more for drizzling
  • 2 shallots, finely diced (if shallots are unavailable, about 1 tablespoon of a finely diced sweet onion will do)
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1 pound raw shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley leaves

Directions:

Alright, so you are going to want to start by throwing a pot of water on the stove to get boiling for your pasta.  When the water comes to a boil, add several tablespoons of salt and your pasta.  Stir to ensure all of the pasta separates, cover, and cook for about 6-8 minutes until the pasta is not 100% done.  Drain pasta and set aside.

In a large skillet on the stove, melt two tablespoons of butter in two tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat.Once combined together, saute the shallots, garlic, and red pepper flakes until the shallots are clear.  This should take about 3-4 minutes.  Season your raw shrimp with salt and pepper and then add them to the skillet.  Cook the shrimp until they have curled slightly and turned pink.  This should take approximately 2-5 minutes.  Try your best not to overcook your shrimp, for they will become extremely chewy and rubbery.  Remove the shrimp from the pan and set aside while keeping it warm.

To the skillet, add the white wine and lemon juice.  Once this reaches a boil, add 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.  When the butter has melted, return the shrimp to the pan along with the chopped fresh parsley and cooked pasta.  Stir well to combine and season with salt and pepper.  Drizzle a tad more olive oil over the top and serve immediately!

As you can see, this recipe is quite simple.  There are hardly any ingredients or steps to follow, making this a recipe that ANYONE is capable of doing.  I also recommend serving this dinner with a nice side of garlic bread.  The two pair perfectly!  As I said before, I am a huge seafood fan, whereas a few of my housemates are not.  However, with some encouragement, I was able to convince them to give it a shot AND THEY LOVED IT.  This just goes to show that if something is cooked properly and seasoned well, it is very possibly to sway ones opinion, especially when it comes to seafood.  This recipe serves about 4-6 people, so don’t forget to double/half the ingredients if you are planning on serving a larger/smaller group of people!  Or just make all of it for yourself and have enough food to eat for a week, I support it because I know that I would do the same! 🙂

With that being said, I realize we are in college and on a budget, but this dinner was a cheap and affordable way to spice up my house’s dinner menu.  Also, if you enjoy this recipe and are interested in making more food from the ocean, stay tuned!  I’m planning on grilling up some salmon this week and I have a recipe that you will be SURE to love.

5 Kitchen Tips You Should Know

I haven’t been cooking too much lately, so I figured I’d change things up a bit and share with you all some awesome kitchen tips you definitely want to know.  What I find beneficial about this list of 5, is that there is a partial focus on how to keep foods fresher, longer.  As a college student on a budget, food going sour or bad is a waste of money; however, it can be easily avoided.  Several of these others tips are wonderful tools to help you remain efficient in the kitchen!

1. Use Tongs

Tongs are the universal tool of the kitchen.  Yes, a spatula is great for flat foods, such as pancakes and eggs, but tongs are much easier way to pick up other foods.  Tongs also give you much more control and a smaller chance of dropping your food across the kitchen floor.  Also, if you have non-stick cookware, I recommend using tongs with nylon tips to avoid scratching your pans.  Always go with the 12 inch tongs as well.  This long utensil keeps you far away from the heat and gives you sturdier control when picking up larger foods.

2. Store Everything in Tupperware

As a college student, Tupperware will save your life.  We all spend our limited amount of money on food, so for it to go bad before we are done utilizing as much as we can, is such a waste.  Tupperware gives berries, salad greens, and cut produce, a much longer life due to it’s air tight seal.  Don’t be afraid to also store your dinner leftovers in these containers as well.  If you make too much, pop it in a container and you’ll have a fresh and delicious meal waiting for you another day.  These containers are also reusable and therefore more Eco-friendly, which is ALWAYS a plus.

3. If You Own a Knife, Use It

Many people underestimate the versatility of an everyday kitchen knife.  In particular, I want to focus on garlic.  Pretty much all delicious recipes use garlic, so it is essential to know the proper way to mince and dice this tiny clove.  Many use a garlic press, however I find that to be a waste of time AND garlic.  Yes it seems easy, but half the time you are wasting some of your garlic as it gets stuck in the press.  A technique I prefer to utilize, is simply smashing the unpeeled clove with the flat side of your knife.  This will force the skin to slide off easily and then you can easily mince it up.

4. Keep Separate Cutting Boards for Different Foods

Certain foods, such as onions and garlic, have a very potent/prominent smell.  Many don’t realize how easy it is for these flavors to be permanently absorbed into a cutting board.  This being said, I find it very beneficial to have at least two different cutting boards to ensure that these flavors aren’t being spread around in an unwanted manner.  No one wants onion flavored fruits and cheeses all the time!  Also, having a separate board with a small lip around the sides, is good for cutting meats to ensure the juices and blood don’t pour off the board onto your counter tops.  This can also help prevent cross contamination.

5. Herbs Should Be Fresh and Green

With the exception of a few certain that are intended to be dry, such as bay leaves and oregano, herbs should be fresh, green, and beautiful.  Herbs are always better and more flavorful when they are bright and fresh.  Although they don’t last too long in the fridge, the result in flavor is most definitely worth it.  I always recommend using fresh chives, parsley, thyme, rosemary, dill, etc.  These herbs add brightness and a stronger depth of flavor to each of your recipes.  Yes, dried herbs are still delicious, but they do not have a long shelf life and also lack the flavor that most recipes call for.

If you were planning on using dried herbs, another tip would be to put the herbs in the palm of your hand and rub them between your fingers as you add them to your recipe.  This helps release the oils from the dried herbs, giving them more flavor.

 

Artichoke and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

My all time FAVORITE food is a mushroom.  I know a lot of you are probably like “ewwww, gross, fungus”, but NO you are wrong.  Mushrooms are a gift from the gods and for those of you who are mushroom fans, this is a recipe that you will be sure to love.  Another food that takes a close second to mushrooms, are artichokes.  Who doesn’t love a delicious cheesy artichoke dip?  This recipe basically takes mushroom caps and stuffs them with a cheesy artichoke mixture and then bakes them to perfection.  Although it may seem complicated, this recipe requires hardly any ingredients and steps to prepare.  Before you know it, you’ll be pulling these guys out of the oven and popping ’em into your mouth.  Let’s get started!

Ingredients:

  • 24 large white mushrooms
  • 1/4 cup olive oil, for drizzling
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 cans sliced or quartered artichoke hearts
  • 2 cloves minced garlic (or about 1 tsp jarred minced garlic)
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • Handful grated Parmesan
  • Handful parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 tub shredded Asiago cheese, 8 ounces (or shredded mozzarella)

Directions:

First start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees.  You’re going to want to brush the dirt off of the mushrooms.  You can do this simply by taking a damp paper towel and gently wiping them off.  After they are cleaned, carefully pop the stems out of each cap, creating a cavity that will hold your artichoke mixture.  Place the caps in a large bowl and drizzle in your olive oil to evenly coat the mushrooms, and then scatter them round-side-up onto a cookie sheet.  Roast these guys for about 10 minutes.  After you pull them out, season the caps with salt and pepper and flip over.  Place the pan aside while you prepare the stuffing.

Drain your cans of artichokes and then chop them into smaller pieces to make them easier to eat and easier to fit into the caps.  Using the same bowl as before, toss the artichokes with a drizzle of olive oil, garlic, thyme, grated Parmesan cheese, and parsley.  One the mixture is evenly incorporated, generously fill the mushroom caps, mounding the filling up.  Top the artichoke mixtures with the shredded Asiago/mozzarella cheese.  Return the pan to the oven and cook the mushrooms for another 5 minutes or until the cheese has melted and the filling has set.  As soon as they look beautiful and gooey, pull them out and set aside to cool only for a minute or so.  Once they reach the temperature where they won’t burn your tongue off, they are all set and ready to eat.

These stuffed mushrooms are such a wonderful appetizer for any meal, party, holiday, etc.  It helps that they are also extremely easy to make.  Even if you aren’t a huge mushroom fan, I highly suggest giving them a shot.  Another great thing about these little guys, is that they heat up incredibly!  I know that the idea of re-heating a stuffed mushroom sounds a bit odd, but trust me.. if you have any leftovers, just throw them on a pan and bake them in the oven for about 5 minutes at 400 degrees or even simply throw them in the microwave for about 2 minutes.  Either way comes out equally delicious.   This recipe has always proven to be a crowd favorite for me and I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

 

 

It’s Time to Get Grillin’

Beautiful, sunny weather calls for nothing other than a delicious dinner off the grill.  Grilling is one of my all time favorite ways to cook food and with the temperatures beginning to rise back up, I am taking full advantage of every opportunity to fire up that BBQ.  Besides a giant, thick, juicy steak of course… chicken is one of my favorite things to grill up.  Grilled chicken is an easy and affordable dinner that leaves a ton of room for creativity and is sure to make your taste buds happy.  In this particular recipe, I did a simple marinade on the chicken and paired it up with some delicious sides.  Let’s jump right in!

Ingredients:

  • Chicken Breasts
  • Chiavetta’s marinade
  • Potatoes (medium-large size)
  • Zucchini
  • Squash
  • Olive oil/Basting oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Toppings for Baked Potatoes (Butter, Sour Cream, Cheddar Cheese, Bacon Bits, Chives, etc.)

Directions:

You’re going to want to start by marinading your chicken the night before you are planning on grilling it, to ensure you get LOADS of flavor.  What I do, is put the chicken breasts in a ziplock bag and pour in the Chiavetta’s until all of the meat is covered.  Let this rest in the fridge, flipping over every once in a while.  Now, when you’re ready to start cooking dinner, you’re going to want to get your potatoes cooking before anything else because these are going to take the longest to cook.  Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Rinse off your potatoes, pat dry, and wrap them tightly in tin foil.  Pop these guys on a cookie sheet and throw them in the oven.  Set your timer for 20-25 minutes to check on them; however, you’re most likely going to cook them for another 10 or so.  While these are cooking, you can begin chopping up your zucchini and squash to whatever size you desire.  Place these in a casserole dish and drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper and pop them in the oven after the potatoes have been cooking for about 10 minutes.  Stir the veggies often.  They should take about 20 minutes to cook through.

While everything else is in the oven cooking, its time to fire up the grill.  I like to keep my grill on about medium heat when cooking chicken so that it doesn’t cook the outside too fast without evenly cooking the inside as well.  This tends to lead to a burnt chicken with a raw middle… NO GOOD!  So cook these babies low and slow.  The time definitely depends on the thickness of your meat.  My chicken breasts were approximately 3/4 inch in thickness, which took about 20 minutes to cook through.  Once you throw them on, don’t forget to keep checking them.  Another tip would be to try and not flip them over until the one side is fully cooked.  This helps contain the juices of the meat and help prevent the meat from drying out.  Don’t forget to check up on your potatoes and veggies.  To see if your baked potatoes are done, simply take a kitchen fork and stick it.  If the fork feels as though it is sliding in easily and the potato is no longer tough, then those guys are good to go and ready to eat.  But be warned, they will most likely be extremely hot.  Everything is timed out pretty well for your potatoes to have some cooling time, while your chicken finishes up on the grill.  If you think your chicken might be done, I recommend slicing into the thickest piece just to ensure that you no longer see pink, raw chicken in the middle.  Eating raw chicken can make you extremely sick, so definitely be careful.

When everything is all set and ready to go, it is time to dive right in.  Throw some chicken, veggies, and a baked potato on a plate and get ready to be happily surprised at how delicious this easy and quick meal turns out to be.  I personally enjoy eating my baked potatoes slathered in butter, sour cream, cheddar cheese, and hot sauce.  This clearly isn’t the healthiest thing in the word.. but DAMN is it delicious.

Another thing I wanted to mention, is that the baked potatoes and veggies can be cooked on the grill as well.  I have a very small grill so my space was much too limited, which is why I chose to use the oven.  If you decide to grill everything together, just wrap your potatoes in foil the same as before and put them directly on the grill.  The veggies you can put in a pan (one you don’t mind burning a little on the bottom), and throw those right on the grill as well.  If you decide to do this, try and keep the cover closed as much as possible to contain as much heat as possible.  Just remember, that this method does take slightly more time!

Also, as I said before, grilling is a method that opens you up to a WORLD of possibilities.  Don’t be afraid to try different marinades, or even a simple spice, or salt and pepper.  You can also try and experiment with different vegetables, like carrots, peppers, mushrooms, onions, etc.  All of these can be roasted using the same technique as I stated before.  Feel free to get creative without me. 🙂  One of the best parts about grilling, is that everything turns out delicious… unless you burn it of course… hahaha!  I hope you enjoy this beautiful weather and feel inspired to create some amazing meals along with it!

Homemade Pepperjack Mac

What’s better than a heaping bowl of your favorite comfort food after a longgggg day of classes?  That’s right, NOTHING is better than indulging in some delicious mac and cheese to make you feel at home.  This recipe definitely gives your traditional mac and cheese a fun and easy twist.  I am a huge fan of spicy foods, so I threw a bit of pepperjack cheese into this dish to kick it up a notch.  This is sure to be a recipe that you and all of your housemates will enjoy.  Let’s get started…

Ingredients: (remember, all amounts depend on how many mouths you are feeding)

  •  1 box of Pasta (I prefer Cavatappi because it holds onto the cheese so much better)
  • Pepperjack cheese
  • Velveeta cheese
  • Rotisserie Chicken (or cooked chicken breast)
  • Bread crumbs
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Milk
  • Salt

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.  Grab a decent size pot and get some water boiling with a pinch of salt.  While your pasta is cooking in the boiling water, begin slicing your pepperjack and velveeta cheese into small cubes (enough to cover the pasta evenly).  I prefer putting a tad more pepperjack than velveeta personally, but it’s all up to you.  Also, you can begin to shred up your chicken.  When your pasta is cooked and strained, begin to melt your cheese in the same pot, slowly adding milk as needed.  Add your pasta to the pot.  Stir until evenly coated (will be very thick) and add more cheese and milk to your liking.  Mix in your shredded chicken.  Spread into a baking dish and coat the top with bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese.  Pop into the oven and bake for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese begins to bubble on the sides.  Pull the dish out of the oven and let cool until the mac lowers to a temp that won’t burn your mouth!  Scoop into some bowls and enjoy!

I LOVE adding just a touch of Frank’s hot sauce to give my pepperjack mac a tad more of a kick. 🙂  This is a fun, cheap, and easy recipe that will be sure to wow your friends.  Mac and cheese ALWAYS has a way of making my stomach smile and I hope this recipe will do the same for you!  Don’t be afraid to spice things up a bit.

P.S. if you ever have any leftovers (which you most likely won’t because it’s so delicious, you won’t be able to stop eating), just add a touch of milk and pop it in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds.  It’ll come out just as yummy as it was when you first made it.