Lemon Butter Baked Salmon

I can’t believe August is just around the corner!  July is flying by and we are savoring every minute of the hot and humid Chicago summer, which is already short to begin with.  With not much of an appetite in this heat, or the time to cook, the last few weeks we have been living mostly on green smoothies, fruit, lots of fresh salads and simply prepared proteins.  My family loves this minimal-ingredient and maximum-taste salmon dish!  I’m especially a fan of the minimal prep, cook and clean up time.  I paired the salmon with some sautéed kale from our garden patch, but honestly, there is nothing this salmon would not go well with.  

I prefer to start with a room temperate fillet, so take the salmon out of the refrigerator about 1 hour prior to cooking.  Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the fillet.  The goal is for the salmon to cook through, yet still remain moist.  

1 fillet of salmon (wild caught, sockeye preferred)
½ cup butter
6 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Lemon slices

Preheat oven to 400 F.
Melt butter over medium heat; whisk in the lemon juice, sea salt and pepper.  
Pour or brush butter mixture over salmon fillet; arrange lemon slices on top.
Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, until just opaque in center.  
Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Cheese, Herbs and Mushroom Dutch Baby

I have mentioned on several occasions that breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  It’s a great opportunity to start the day on a good note. When we are not out to brunch with friends, I like to prepare something special for my family on the weekends.  Making a Dutch baby pancake pretty much elevates our meal to celebration status.  Recently I came across a recipe for a savory version and it made me wonder why I didn’t think of this myself!  Adding cheese, herbs and mushrooms to something that is already so amazing is nothing short of brilliant!
This recipe is adopted from Jenn Yee’s blog, Deliciously Noted.  I used Kirkland brand organic no-salt seasoning, which is a blend of 21 herbs and spices.  For the toppings I used Kerrygold Dubliner, which is an aged cheese with a hint of sweetness, and Trader Joe’s frozen mushroom medley, which is precooked and seasoned with olive oil, parsley and garlic.  You can omit the mushrooms if you're not a fan.
2 Tbsp. butter, unsalted
1 cup milk, whole
4 eggs
¾ cup flour, organic unbleached (I used spelt flour)
¾ tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. mixed herbs
1/3 cup mushrooms, cooked (optional)
¾ cup shredded cheese
Preheat the oven to 425 F.
Place the butter in a 10-12” ovenproof skillet or pan, and place in the oven until the butter is bubbly.
Meanwhile, mix the milk, eggs, flour, salt, pepper, and herbs in a blender until smooth.
Remove the pan with the hot butter from the oven and pour in the batter. 
Top with mushrooms and shredded cheese.
Place back into the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes, or until the pancake is puffed and browned on the edges.

One-Pan Mexican Chicken Quinoa


The Christmas season is officially upon us!  Despite my efforts to slow down and savor the holidays, I feel like the time between Thanksgiving and New Year flies twice as fast.  But that doesn't stop me from continuing to cook nutritious meals for my family.  Here, to the rescue, is another one-pan dish.

This quinoa bowl is extremely versatile.  You can prepare it with a different meat as well as vary the vegetables and seasonings.  Even if you don’t have all the listed ingredients on hand or decide to omit something because it’s not a favorite, you will still end up with a delicious meal that won’t take very long to prepare.

2 Tbsp. butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
1.5 – 2 lbs. chicken thighs or breast (boneless, skinless)
1 cup uncooked quinoa (soaked in 2 cups of water for about 2 hours, drained)
1 cup water or chicken broth
1 can canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 cup organic corn kernels, frozen or canned
1 cup diced tomatoes, fresh or canned
1 medium onion, chopped
½ tsp cumin
Sea salt and pepper, to taste
Juice of 1 lemon or 2 limes

Melt the butter in a heavy pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.
Sauté the garlic and jalapeno in the butter until fragrant, about 1 minute.
Add the chicken and cook through for about 15 minutes, browning on both sides.
Stir in the quinoa, water or broth, black beans, corn, tomatoes, and onion.  
Season with cumin, salt, and pepper.
Bring to a boil, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes. 
Stir in the lemon or lime juice.
Before serving, garnish with your favorite salsa, fresh cilantro and avocado.

Enjoy and spend more time with the ones you love this holiday season!

Steamed Fish with Lemon Butter Wine Sauce

I love this quick and light recipe for warmer weather days.  It works really well with any mild, white-fleshed fish such as sole, cod, halibut or striped bass.  You can also try a more flavorful fish such as salmon or trout.  Just make sure to start with the freshest fish available and choose varieties that are wild caught.  Please see my previous post on why it’s important to consume wild caught fish.  

Steaming is an ideal way to cook delicate fish that might otherwise fall apart or dry out if sautéed, grilled or baked.  It also allows flavors to remain inside the fish, instead of escaping into the cooking water, as in the case of poaching.

I like to pair this light dish with veggies such as the roasted asparagus I previously posted.

4 fish fillets
¼ cup dry white wine
3 Tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
2 Tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
2 tsp lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Season fillets with salt and pepper.
Heat white wine in a sauté pan over high heat until it begins to steam.  
Whisk in one tablespoon butter.  
Quickly add the fish to the pan in a single layer and cover.  
Simmer over medium heat for 5-7 minutes, until fish is opaque.  Remove fillets.  
Wisk in the remaining butter, lemon juice and parsley into the pan liquid.
When sauce begins to bubble, remove from heat, add salt and pepper to taste.  
To serve, spoon sauce over fillets. 

Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Bread

One day a friend sent me a Snapchat of her peanut butter bread.  It looked so good I decided to bake one too!  I took the idea of the pumpkin spice bundt cake posted in December, replaced the almond butter with peanut and omitted the pumpkin spices.  Just to note, you can’t taste the pumpkin puree; it’s just there to give the bread bulk and make it moist.  I have seen recipes use bananas or zucchini to achieve the same results.

Since we are on the topic, I wanted to mention a few things about peanuts and peanut butter. These products are high in omega-6 fatty acids which, if consumer in a higher than recommended ration to omega-3 fatty acids, increase the risk of inflammatory diseases.  Also, peanuts are technically not nuts, which grow on trees, but in fact are legumes.  They grow in the ground, which makes them susceptible to toxic mold, which is believed by some to be the cause of peanut allergies.  They are also one of the crops that are heavily sprayed with pesticide.  Finally, many commercial peanut butters are made with unhealthy trans-fats, added sugars, and other unnecessary ingredients.  I do not say all this to discourage peanut butter consumption, but simply to help you choose the highest quality product.  So, when buying peanut butter, be sure to read the label.  Ideally it should only contain one ingredient: peanuts. Also always buy certified organic and look for Valencia or Jungle peanut variety, which are less likely to contain toxic mold.

2 cups organic peanut butter
2 cups pumpkin puree
2 eggs, beaten
¼ cup coconut sugar or 1/3 cup honey or maple syrup
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
½ - 1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Mix all ingredients together and pour into a well-greased or lined loaf pan.  
Bake for 50 – 60 minutes, until an inserted knife comes out clean.