Saturday, November 29, 2014

Pumpkin Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

Last year I found a beautiful picture of a pumpkin pasta recipe. It looked amazing, and I repinned it adding the idea of serving the sauce over spaghetti squash instead. When I tried it later (with just pasta) I found the recipe very disappointing. It had no flavor and was all one texture. This year I found the picture again and decided to make my own recipe. Much better.

Pumpkin Spaghetti Squash from is a fantastic fall dish. Warm and creamy, this rich dish is a great main course or side dish. Add chicken or shrimp to bulk it up or keep it simple.

Pumpkin Sauce with Spaghetti Squash

a joyful foodie original

1 large spaghetti squash
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp flour
1 cup chicken stock (approx)
1 cup cream or milk (approx)
1 cup pumpkin puree
2 cloves garlic
1/3 cup grated parmesan, plus more for garnish
1 tbsp white-wine vinegar
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes
1/2 tsp ground sage
1 tsp fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish

Cut spaghetti squash in half. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast at 350°F for an hour or until it shreds easily with a fork.

Meanwhile, heat 2 tbsp butter in large sauce pan. Add 1 tbsp of flour. Stir to form a paste. Gradually add chicken stock to dissolve the paste. Stir until it thickens, then add more stock. Alternate adding milk/cream and stock until you have mixed in 1 1/2 - 2 cups liquid. It should have a saucy consistency. Do not add too much too fast, or you will have to add more flour and the whole thing will take longer.

Once you have a sauce, mix in the pumpkin, garlic, parmesan, vinegar, red-pepper, sage, rosemary. If sauce is too thick, add more chicken stock.

Shred inside of spaghetti squash halves. Pour sauce over squash, garnish with parmesan and rosemary. Serve.


  • Cut up some slices of rotisserie chicken or cooked chicken breast and lay them on the squash before adding the sauce.
  • Saute shrimp and add with the sauce.

TIP: Serve extra sauce (if any) over pasta for lunch the next day.

Your turn! What is your favorite fall weeknight meal?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Peach Crisp

The peaches at the farmer's market these last few weeks have been calling my name. They've been saying "Kristen... pick us! Make us into that fantastic dessert you made the first summer here!"

Of course, that would assume that I kept that recipe. No idea what I did. *sigh* That was the real reason I started this blog, right??

So back to the drawing board. I've done the same thing I did for my apple pie, namely, I've read 1,982,576 recipes and then said "EH! I do what I want!"

This is the result of that rebellious streak. Also, of not having a lemon. Pfft. Peach Crisp - the perfect summer dessert.

Peach Crisp

adapted from the pioneer woman and real simple


5 whole To 6 Whole Fresh Peaches (best When Not Overly Ripe Or Soft)
1 cup and 1 tbsp Flour
1/2 cup Sugar
1/2 cup and 1-2 tbsp Light Brown Sugar, Firmly Packed (separated)
1/2 teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon Salt
1 stick Butter (1/2 Cup) plus some to grease pan
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup nuts of your choice (I like a mix of pecans and cashews)


Heat oven to 350ºF.

Peel and cut peaches into slices. Mix them with 1 tbsp flour and 1-2 tbsp brown sugar. Transfer to a lightly buttered baking dish, ideally 9x9 square or equivalent. Round would work, just don't go for a crazy big rectangle.

Using a food processor or a fork, blend together the flour, sugar, remaining 1/2 cup brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Cut butter into small pieces and add to flour mixture until evenly mixed... this is where the food processor is handy. Finally, mix in oats and nuts. Pulse for a fine grain crumble or toss in if you want bigger hunks of nut.

Cover the peaches with the crumbly oat/nut topping. Cover the pan with tin foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove tin foil and bake for 30-45 minutes longer until the topping is crisp. If this is taking awhile, you can always broil it for a few minutes (and not longer!) If your dish is smaller (and therefore filled deeper) it may even be a little longer, so pick a time, check it, and add time accordingly.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream. YUM. Peach Crisp - the perfect summer dessert.

PS: This totally counts as breakfast food, right? I think that was my mom's rule. Fruit, grain, dairy... good to go?? That is of course assuming you have leftovers...

BONUS TIP! To easily peel peaches, cut an "x" in the end opposite the stem and immerse in boiling water. The riper the peach the less time it needs... anywhere between 10 seconds and a minute. Set the peach to cool for a moment before peeling and cutting. Remember, be careful with your knife when handling the peaches... they get a little extra slippery when you peel them this way!

Your turn! What summer dessert have you been anticipating? What's your favorite way to eat a peach?

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Burgers, 5 ways

Joyful Foodie: Burgers, 5 ways. Dress up your hamburger with some new tricks!

Hamburger plans for the fourth feeling a little blah? I love playing around with different burger combos, so I've rounded up a few favorites in case you need a little inspiration.

1) Cheeseburger with bacon, smoked cheddar, and barbeque sauce.  A classic. Remember, everything is made better by bacon. And don't come near my burger with American cheese, 4th of July or not.

2) Burger with feta, fried green tomato, and balsamic glaze. Our local place calls this the "Sweet Southerner". I always order it with extra balsamic, which makes it super messy, but OH SO good.

3) Southwest style. Mix chopped cilantro, cumin, cinnamon, and as much hot sauce as you want in with your ground beef when forming the patties. Top with pepper jack cheese and salsa or guacamole if you want some coolness.

4) Breakfast burger. Top with a fried egg, cheese of your choice, and spinach. If you really want to go all in, serve it on a bagel or with hollandaise sauce.  Just don't do this one often!

5) Caprese burger. This is my current favorite. Top your burger with mozzarella, tomato, and basil. You can also use balsamic here, but if you've got a flavorful tomato it doesn't need it. You could also mix balsamic and dried basil in with the beef, especially if you're having trouble with burgers drying out.

General burger tips:
  • Use higher fat beef for burgers. It'll drip out as it cooks. Save the 93% lean stuff for casseroles and tacos. ;) 
  • When forming your patties, make them a little concave. They puff in the middle when cooking, and they'll have a more uniform shape this way. 
  • Also remember they shrink! Make them a bit bigger than the bun you want to put them on. 

Your turn! What is your favorite way to serve a burger? Is your go-to beef, or does another burger base stand in the spotlight?

Have a happy fourth of July everyone! Remember, be safe out there and don't drink and drive.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Pork with Rice Noodles, Scallions, and Chile

This is a new hit in our house. It uses favorite ingredients in new ways, to give some delicious variety to our weeknight. It comes together in about 30-40 minutes, depending on your skill level at multi-tasking. Pork with rice noodles, scallions, and chile

Pork with Rice Noodles, Scallions, and Chile

from fine cooking
total time 30 minutes || serves 4


8 oz. wide rice (pad thai) noodles
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 medium limes)
3 Tbs. fish sauce
1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
2 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 lb. ground pork
Kosher salt
1 large red onion, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 2-1/2 cups) Pork with rice noodles, scallions, and chile1 bunch scallions (both white and green parts), trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths (about 1 cup)
1/2 to 1 small fresh green chile, such as Thai or serrano, thinly sliced**
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
2 Tbs. chopped peanuts


Boil water in a large pot. Cook your pad thai noodles to al dente following package directions (4-6 minutes typically). Drain and shock with cold water to stop the cooking. 

While that's going, mix lime juice, fish sauce, and sugar in a small bowl. Stir until the sugar disolves. 

Heat half of the oil (1tbsp) in a wok or large (12-inch) skillet over medium high heat. Really heat it... shimmering hot. Crumble the pork in and cook like you're making ground beef tacos. That is to say, making sure it doesn't form one huge block, breaking it up into small pieces. Cook until starting to brown and no longer pink. Season with salt if you want. Put it in a bowl to rest while you do the onions. 
Heat the other half of the oil (1tbsp). Same wok or skillet is perfect. Add the onion, scallions, and chile. (WEAR GLOVES TO HANDLE THE CHILI. If you have sensitive skin, like aparently I do.)  Cook until onions and scallions are softened, stirring regularly, 4-5 minutes. If you can tell if the pepper is getting soft, you cut it too big or used too much, and ohh boy are you in for a shock.

Put the pork back in, toss well to mix. Add the noodles back in, toss gently to mix... you don't want to shred the noodles. Remove from heat, add lime mix, herbs, and toss yet again. Garnish with peanuts and dig in while its still hot! Pork with rice noodles, scallions, and chile
**This dish is pretty mild with half a serrano pepper. If you're looking for spicy, kick in the whole pepper, consider half a second one. Remember, all peppers have different Scoville scale ratings, even on a single plant. If you're spice shy, err on the side of caution so you can taste all of the other wonderful flavors here! We used 2/3 of a pepper and felt it could have used just a little more. 

Related post: Hot Fingers!! How to get your hands to stop burning if you forgot the gloves when cutting up your peppers. 

Your turn! What's your favorite food with just a little bite to it? 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

This Week's Menu - June 9, 2014

With summer here, we've been spending lots of time watering our garden and watching our veggies bloom. This was our first week at the farmer's market, and I am so excited for the upcoming menu. We've got the produce thing down pat, so this week we were focusing on getting our meat locally. This means we're having grass-fed beef and wild caught shrimp. Super happy to know our cows lived well!

Most of the menus I've posted so far were during the school year. You'll notice this reflects more of a summer schedule, since the hubs is done with classes for now, and I'm wrapping up this week.

June 9 - June 15, 2014
Joyful Foodie Menu June 9, 2014

Monday: Oatmeal with berries
Tuesday: Fruit smoothie (made with plain yogurt, frozen peaches and berries, milk, and some spinach) and whole grain toast with butter
Wednesday: Homemade granola with milk and berries
Thursday: breakfast "pizza" - eggs, cheese, and tomato slices on top of whole grain toast
Friday: leftover waffles from Sunday (I freeze extras)

Monday: peanut butter and banana wrap in homemade tortilla
Tuesday: tomato, cucumber, basil, mozzarella salad, hummus and crackers
Wednesday: farmer's market roast beef sandwich  
Thursday: leftover fried rice
Friday: luncheon at school

Monday: Farmer's market stir fry
Tuesday: Fried rice (chop up leftover stir fry, mix in with rice, heat, add an egg or two depending on size of dish!)
Wednesday: Burgers using farmer's market grass-fed beef with salad with feta, pears, and pecans
Thursday: pretzel dogs and sautéed kale
Friday: leftovers or meal out of the freezer
Saturday and Sunday: up in the air depending on if I throw a "school's done, hooray!" party ;)

Your turn!
How is the coming summer changing your meal routines?

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Last Week's Menu

A few weeks ago I finally started the clean eating challenge that's been on my 29 by 29 goal list all year. Its been really quite epic. Doing weight watchers last year I had already made a lot of positive changes in the way more produce department, so this was a focus on reading food labels for the ingredients, not the calories. So far I feel a lot more satisfied by the real foods, and I'm not missing anything! That is of course helped by my "flexetarian" attitude about it all. I have had regular chocolate and frozen yogurt and not stressed about it. Overall, my long term goal is to have a really healthy relationship with food, and not stress about every single bite. This fits the bill for me!

June 2 - June 8, 2014
New menu layout! I'm planning for breakfast, lunch, and dinner these days. Makes the clean eating thing much easier. :)
Monday: Bacon, eggs, sautéed zucchini 
Tuesday: Egg heavy french toast with sliced apples
Wednesday: fruit smoothie and muffin
Thursday: breakfast "pizza" - eggs, cheese, and tomato on whole grain toast with a side of bacon (its a testing day!)
Friday: granola with mixed berries
Saturday: bagels, coffee, and a crossword puzzle on the patio
Sunday: waffles and sliced oranges

Monday: roast beef sandwich 
Tuesday: leftover shrimp
Wednesday: lunch date with Brian... his treat :)
Thursday: leftover chicken enchilada pasta
Friday: peanut butter and jelly
Saturday: grilled cheese and trader joe's soup
Sunday: leftover vegetable hash

Thursday: baked loaded sweet potatoes
Friday: leftovers
Saturday: leftovers

Your turn!
What goals have you accomplished this week?

Monday, May 26, 2014


Its that time of year again! Some people make resolutions in January. I prefer to think of my birthday as the starting place of a year. After all, my year runs on a school schedule, so May is a pretty perfect place to begin. :) Last year's list of 29 before 29 had some tough/big items on it (I'm looking at you, scuba certification) so some of them will roll on...

I'm continuing the tradition of the last few years and making a list of goals to meet before my next birthday. This year's list sounds scary... 30 before 30! Eeek! Luckily I'll be totally used to the number by the time it gets here, right? ;)

Totally kidding. Its just a number. Life is all about how you feel, right??

So, today I plan to spend time with people I love, celebrate the 29 fantastic years I've had so far, and eat a big piece of cake. Thanks for being here to share it with me!

Your turn!  What's your favorite way to start a new (birth) year? Best birthday traditions?

Monday, May 5, 2014

Hot Fingers!

So the only hot pepper I'd ever cut up before tonight was a jalapeno. Minor leagues, right? Now I can add serrano to the list, and apparently I have sensitive skin. Oops? Now I know, wear gloves when cutting up hot peppers. In the mean time, how do I deal with the burning all over my hands?

A quick search has revealed a wide variety of tips. I've gathered my favorites. (I'm not quite ready to try the one that involves bleach or waving my hands over fire...)

  • wash your hands with dish soap
  • wash your hands with olive oil
  • rub your hands with a baking soda paste
  • soak a paper towel in oil and then put it in the freezer. alternate as necessary. 
  • rubbing alcohol 

I escalated up the list. I like the rubbing alcohol one the best, as it turns out. It took everything off my hands! At least for awhile...

Your turn! Do you have a favorite trick? Please share... I'm still a little tingly!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Sauteed Bok Choy and Broccoli

Sometimes I just get bored with the same old, same old. You too? It just seems like there are only so many ways to steam broccoli.

A couple weeks ago I was feeling pretty down about the dip in produce intake I'd seen. I wasn't as excited as I used to be about having a plate that was half veggies, half everything else. I was... in a rut. So I went searching for new side dishes.

Let me tell you, this one is a keeper. Nice flavors, makes you feel like you've splurged on chinese take out. Serve it with any stand-by weeknight dish for a totally different spin.

I'm feeling a lot better about that half-plate of veggies now. :)

Sauteed Bok Choy & Broccoli. Fantastic vegetarian side dish for fish or anything you want to make feel like a chinese takeout indulgence.

Sauteed Bok Choy and Broccoli

from Martha Stewart


1 lb bok choy
1 lb broccoli
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 clove garlic
1 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1-2 tbsp soy sauce


Slice white stems from bok choy. Cut into 1 inch pieces. Roughly chop greens.

Peel stalks of broccoli and cut into 1/4 inch pieces. Cut head into bite sized pieces.

In a large skillet, boil 1/2 cup of water. Add bok choy stems and broccoli and cover. Cook for 5-8 minutes, until broccoli is bright green.

Uncover, cook on high 2-4 minutes until water has evaporated.

Add leaves, oil, and garlic. Cook until garlic is fragrant, 2-3 minutes.

Mix in ginger and soy sauce. Serve hot with grilled chicken or fish and rice.

I served this a couple weeks back with that smoked sweet salmon, rice, and the mango cucumber tropical salad.... YUM. The tropical salad also has ginger, so the flavors married beautifully.

Your turn! What side dishes do you turn to when you are bored of the regulars? (Seriously, I need to know.)

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Red Skin Potato Salad

This quickly became my all time favorite potato salad recipe. Its got a little zing, so it stands out nicely from all of the others at a picnic table. Like all great favorites, it came from family. I do so love relaxing after a great meal with family and looking across the licked clean dishes and asking "So, can I have the recipe?" Lucky for me (and now you!), Aunt Joann always says yes.

We had a work picnic Friday night, and at 6pm Thursday night I realized I hadn't signed up to bring a food yet! Me, the food blogger!! Next time I'll probably make cupcakes... this group hasn't had my famous red velvet cupcakes yet! Sadly I was so rushed getting this one thrown together that I didn't get a pic snapped at any point. Oops. I love this one though, so I know I'll be making it again soon now that the weather is finally warming up. HOORAY! 

There was lots of potato salad to choose from Friday, but this was my favorite. Of course, I'm a little biased. ;) 

Red-Skinned Potato Salad 

from Aunt Joann


2 lb red skin potatoes
10-12 radishes
1/2 bunch green onions
1 tbsp yellow mustard
mayonnaise to taste
1/4 cup fresh dill (or to taste)


Boil the potatoes in salted water for 30-45 minutes or until soft. (Some sources say as little as 15 minutes, so consider the size of your potatoes.) If you have less time than that, consider cutting them down first.

Once potato salad soft, shock with cold water to cool enough to handle easily and comfortably. Cut into bite size pieces.

Meanwhile, slice the radishes into thin slivers and chop the green onions (thinner near the white part, thicker as you get to green) and dill.

Once the potatoes are cool enough to not do gross things to the mayo, combine potatoes, radishes, green onions, and dill. Mix in mustard and mayo. For the mayo, start with 1/4 cup and work up until it looks right. We probably settle near 1/2 cup each batch in this house, but this is highly variable by taste. :)

Your turn! 
What's your go-to picnic or bbq side dish? 

Monday, March 17, 2014

Lenten Gratuity Week 2

Monday 3/10/14:
chocolate flavored coffee
Rachel's birthday party!
the scissors not breaking the skin when I dropped them on my foot
sunny weather!

Tuesday 3/11/14:
76°F weather
recess with lunch block
new notepad from my Christmas stocking
ice water
staff meeting was quick

Wednesday 3/12/14:
date night with my hubby
homemade pizza
blokus trigon

Thursday 3/13/14:
Happier app
new thermos - keeps chocolate flavored coffee extra hot extra long
extra caffeinated when I got home ;)

Friday 3/14/14:
not as many questions about the science test as I feared
old t-shirt smelled like sunscreen and summer
fluffy comfy bed

Saturday 3/15/14:
having friends over
tea parties
getting Rachel hooked on Doctor Who

Sunday 3/16/14:
lazy rainy days
snuggly kittens

Your turn! How are those Lent commitments going? Was week 2 any harder?
Keep smilin'!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Lenten Gratuity Week 1

This year for Lent I am taking on some things instead of giving things up... more of a lifting things up. Don't get me wrong, I am all for giving things up for Lent too. Sophomore year of college I gave up cookies, soda, and ice cream. I had a friend tell me that it wasn't authentic if I gave up something like junk food because it meant I was doing it for myself, or to lose weight, or to look prettier.

Now, let's put aside for a moment that this friend couldn't possibly know what was in my heart when I made that particular commitment for Lent. But even if my motivation was purely to lose weight or be prettier, wouldn't my God want me to take care of myself so I can serve others? If I am a wreck I won't do anyone good.

I did learn some wonderful things that season, and temptation was everywhere, My dorm had cookies, ice cream, and soda CONSTANTLY accessible. It had become a habit to grab one or two of those at every meal I ate in the dining hall. It took constant thought and attention to not slip up or give in.

Still. This year I'm adding, not subtracting. I plan to keep track of things I'm grateful for. I don't want overcomplicate, so I'm just going to plop some weekly wrap-ups here. I'd love if you join in!

Wednesday 3/5/14:
my husband who makes dinner when I have something I need to handle for work
yummy chicken nuggets
Ash Wednesday service
got to see the folks that gave us Lyta

Thursday 3/6/14: 
free bagels at my workshop
lunch at home
workshop let out early
made it to the gym before the rush
strong legs to carry me through a great workout
all my girly shows had new episodes
my husband put our valentine's day cards up on the mantle when he cleaned up

Friday 3/7/14:
it's Friday!
movie day at school
lobster tails on sale
early to bed

Saturday 3/8/14:
sleeping in
fluffy cozy bed
finished a long book
snickerdoodle muffins
date night with Brian - sushi and 007: Skyfall

Sunday 3/9/14:
first Sunday back at church in ages
very productive day
organized all my new stamp sets
wonderful long phone calls with my mom and Sean

Your turn! What are you grateful for right now? Doing anything special for Lent?
Keep smilin'!

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

As some of you know, I grew up in Arizona. This means most of my favorite comfort food dishes are things like quesadillas and tacos. Brian has been known to surprise me with tacos when he knows I'm not feeling good. My list of to-learn dishes is half classic French stuff a la Julia Child and half native hispanic and native american dishes like sopapillas and "Indian Fry Bread"/Navajo tacos.

All that said, I'm not a huge fan of super spicy dishes. I like to be able to - you know - taste my food.

Those factors combined, it should come as no surprise to you dear reader that I LOVE this recipe. It is super easy to control how much spice you get, it combines all my favorite things (cheese, pasta, mexican food flavors), and it makes tons of leftovers that re-heat really really well.

Once I put this one on the menu, I crave it all week.

Chicken Enchilada Pasta; creamy delicious pasta dish, makes fantastic leftovers. My comfort food these days, so easy! #weeknightdinner

Chicken Enchilada Pasta

from Navy wife cook


rotisseri chicken
2 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves
1 medium onion
1 red pepper
1 can diced green chiles (4oz)
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp chili powder (I only use one...)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cans green chili enchilada sauce (10 oz each) (I only use one....)
2/3 cup red enchilada sauce
2 cups shredded cheese (any kind - we tend towards cheddar)
1 cup sour cream
penne pasta (we used a 1 lb box)

Toppings: (pick what you like)
green onions
black olives
sour cream

Chicken Enchilada Pasta from Directions:

Shred your chicken. Boil pasta. Chop veggies.

Heat the olive oil over medium heat. Cook the onions until soft, about 3-5 minutes. Add the red pepper and garlic and cook for another 3 minutes. 

Add everything except the cheese, pasta, and sour cream (and toppings, duh, those go on top). So that's the green chiles, salt, chili powder, ground cumin, green enchilada sauce, and red enchilada sauce. Simmer for 8-10 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until melted. Now turn the heat down to low and add sour cream, but don't let it boil. If it boils, it may curdle the sour cream (everyone says, and I say ew, so I've been careful here.) Stir until sour cream is heated and well mixed in. 

Drain pasta. Combine sauce and pasta, stir well to combine. Serve with toppings of your choice. Sit back and bask in the adoration. 

Your turn!
What is your go-to comfort food?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Cucumber Mango Tropical Salad

This is a fantastic side for just about any fish main dish. I discovered it on some mile long list of 12 minute dinner ideas. Now it makes regular appearances in our house!

Cucumber Mango Tropical Salad... serve with simple seafood dishes like seared scallops or salmon.

Cucumber Mango Tropical Salad

by 52 healthy meals 12 minutes or less


1 mango (chopped)
1 small cucumber (peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces)
1/2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp cilantro (chopped)


Chop mango and cucumber. Grate the ginger. Squeeze the juice from half a lime. Toss it all together in a bowl.

Yes, it's that easy.

The smells from this one... omg amazing. I wish you could smell this right now.

Every ingredient you add is like... I love this one! No, this one! All the smells layer together so amazingly.

This really makes the meal, so serve it with something that needs a little extra flavor like simple white fish or seared scallops.

This week I served it with pan-seared "smoked" sweet salmon, brown rice, and an amazing bok choy recipe. The ginger really gives it this awesome zing. Add a bottle of inexpensive champagne and toast that it's the weekend! Or Tuesday. Whatever. This recipe is easy and that is worth celebrating!

Your turn! 
What's your go to side dish these days?

Keep cooking!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Pan seared "smoked" sweet salmon

Pan seared "smoked" sweet salmon; great with sauteed bok choy and broccoli, easy weeknight dinner!

This is an easy weeknight fish dish. Try it next time salmon is on sale!

Pan Seared "Smoked" Sweet Salmon
a joyful foodie original

Salmon filets
smoked brown sugar (can substitute regular brown sugar if you must, but SO GOOD with the smoked one*)
olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium hight heat. Season the fish (scale side down) with brown sugar (at least a tsp, more depending on your fish, up to about a tbsp should be fine).

Place salmon in the pan skin side down and season with salt and pepper. Reduce heat to medium low.

a) cover with a lid and cook for 7-10 minutes depending on the size of the fish, watching for a pale pink cooked color or
b) cook for 4-5 minutes until you see color creeping up the sides and then flip it to cook on the other side for 4-5 minutes.

Pan seared "smoked" sweet salmon

My salmon was thick, so I flipped it.

Transfer to a plate and serve immediately with lots of yummy sides. I recommend cucumber and mango salad, sauteed bok choy and broccoli, and rice.

Pan seared "smoked" sweet salmon; great with sauteed bok choy and broccoli, easy weeknight dinner!

This sugar is also available at Amazon, but its cheaper at Sur la Table, especially if you order enough to get free shipping (orders of $59 or more). And no, Sur la Table is not paying me to say any of this, I just love them. They have such great customer service. :)
If you don't have smoked brown sugar, you could substitute another smoked seasoning, I suspect. Maybe smoked salt, smoked pepper, or even applewood smoked salt? Actually they have a ton of smoked salts, click around a little. :)

Your turn!
So dish! What's your favorite fish recipe? I'm looking for more recipes right now, since Lent starts next week. I just love doing fish Fridays!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

This week's menu

I've been feeling the squeeze in the pants department recently, so this week's menu reflects a return to veggies and simple fare. I'm still doing some richer (re: cheese and pasta) dishes, but trying to do ones that use veggies in them.

February 23 - March 1, 2014
February 23 - March 2, 2014 menu at
We'll just pretend that I didn't mark February 29 and 30 on the menu page....
I thought March was closer than that...

Sunday: rotisserie chicken, asparagus, mushroom and onion cous cous.
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Butternut squash mac and cheese
Wednesday: date night! grilled chicken, balsamic glazed carrots, kale
Thursday: pan seared fish (depending on what's on sale), sautéed bok choy and broccoli, mango and cucumber salad, rice
Friday: happy hour with some friends from out of town
Saturday: another rotisserie chicken, ginger green beans, cornbread
Sunday: chicken enchilada pasta

I don't usually plan the next weekend out early, but I've been craving the chicken enchilada pasta for a while now. I would have made it tonight, but this weekend's plans just didn't leave time. My throat is a smidge scratchy tonight though, so spicy is probably better saved anyways.

Your turn!
What have you been craving recently?

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This week's menu

In the last couple of years the distribution of cooking labor has been a little lopsided, with my darling husband doing the lion's share of the cooking. I've been planning menus and making shopping lists, which helps take the stress off him, but it is still a lot of work to do all of the actual preparation of food. So, this semester we've revamped our menu planning a little. Brian's class schedule keeps him busy in the afternoon now, where before he was home and able to cook. Since I get off earlier, I'm taking more of a lead. Yay!! Now we plan our meals to (roughly) follow this schedule:

Sunday: Large meal that makes left overs (cooked together)
Monday: leftovers
Tuesday: Kristen cooks
Wednesday: date night - cook together or eat out
Thursday: crock pot/slow cooker or pre-prepped throw in the oven casserole (Brian takes lead, I finish)
Friday: Brian cooks
Saturday: play it by ear, usually cook together whatever strikes the fancy.

That means we do most menu planning on Saturdays or Sundays and grocery shop the same day. I take leftovers for lunch when I'm able, so we're trying to do a fair bit of extra cooking, when its not something more expensive (not making extra steaks or fish usually, for example).

I'm pretty excited about our menu this week. It is a little fancier than some weeks, mostly because of Valentine's day on Friday. ♥
February 9 - 14, 2014
Sunday: Chicken pot pie with biscuit crust
Monday: leftover pot pie
Tuesday: Tropical sea scallops with cucumber mango salad and rice
Wednesday: Mozzarella stuffed caprese burgers with balsamic glaze drizzle and grilled squash
Thursday: Baked ziti
Friday: TBD Valentine's day celebration

I'll likely go to our favorite grocery store Friday and pick up something awesome to make together. They have fantastic steak, stuffed fish, mostly prepped shellfish... so something will come together easily and deliciously. Plus I'm keeping a dessert trick up my sleeve. ;) Not that I can spring much on him... he'll be home all day! No Friday classes this semester, lucky duck.

Your turn! 
How do you share the load? Who does most of the cooking at your house?
What are your Valentine's day plans this year? Any favorite traditions?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Olympics drinks

Just a quick post to share my opening ceremony celebratory drinks! This will absolutely work for any Olympics party you may have planned. The trick? Rimming sugar. Aka, colored sprinkles. ;)

Blue drink ideas:
Blueberry vodka, blue curaçao, seltzer
Really, blue curaçao and anything XD 

Black drink ideas: 
Rum and Coke
Rum and Coke and chocolate (add godiva liquor or chocolate extract)

Red drink ideas:
Cape Codder
Bloody Mary
Malibu Bay Breeze

Yellow drink ideas:
Jameson and Ginger ale 
Vodka and pineapple juice

Green drink ideas:
Midori Sour
Green Apple Martini
Midori Mojito

To serve: Rim a glass of your choice (champagne for smaller sips, or white wine glasses or martini glasses for larger servings, assuming your glasses are anything like mine!) with colored sugar. I used cheap crystals for the green, red, and blue. The gold sprinkles are fancier here, but you could use simple yellow too. 

Pour a little bit of sprinkles in a shallow dish. Just wet the rim of the glass with a slight ring of water. Drip it in the sprinkles and spin to coat. 

For the chocolate rim; melt some semi-sweet or dark chocolate chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl in 20 second bursts. Mix in a drizzle of oil (canola is fine, or something fancier like coconut) to make it smoother. Dip the glass in and spin to get an even coat. 

My pick for the night? A modified green apple martini; vodka, apple martini mixer, ginger ale. 

My darling husband chose the Jameson and Ginger. Isn't it an epic gold? 

Your turn! What would be your pick? Please share if I missed a favorite. Also, what sport are you most excited to watch? I am all about some figure skating and ski jumping. 


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