Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Sunday Lupper Adventures - Take 2

Ok, I have power now, so Sunday Lupper Adventures continued...

So, the Sunday after Salmon en Croute, I tried another fish recipe.  I just made it up based on what I had on hand.  I call it, um...how about White Fish Dish?  No, no that's terrible, I'm not calling it that.  Ok, I got it - Panko Herb Crusted Flounder.  Yeah, we'll call it that, because that's what it was.  For those of you who follow me on Facebook, you already got a glimpse of the "recipe", but for those who didn't, here's what I did:

Panko Herb Crusted Flounder

  • 2 pieces of flounder (thawed, if frozen)
  • 1.5 TBLS. of butter
  • About 1 TBLS. of fresh basil (chopped)
  • About 1 TBSL. of fresh dill (chopped)
  • 1 tsp. of fresh thyme
  • 1/4 cup of Panko crumbs
  • 1 TBLS of shredded Parmesan cheese 
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Lemon for garnish

In a small bowl, melt the butter and then add in the basil, dill, and thyme.  Then add the Panko crumbs and Parmesan cheese and stir until thoroughly blended.  Spray a baking dish generously with cooking spray (I used Olive Oil Pam) and add the fish fillets to the dish.  Spread the Panko mixture on top of the fish, then add salt and pepper and sprinkle with parsley.

Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes at 425 degrees.  Cut up a lemon for garnish, or to squeeze on the fish after it is cooked.

Remember the herb new potatoes and sauteed garlic broccoli that I made to go with the Salmon en Croute?  Well, turns out, it's good with this as well.  So if you need some quick and healthy sides, these will do the trick.  Or you can steam some broccoli florets and season with sea salt and a little cheese, which is also tasty.

***Even with the sides, this meal only takes about 20-25 minutes from start to finish.  AND it is totally good for you too!  You can't beat that.***

And of course, I have completely forgotten to take a picture of any of these dishes, so I will have to do that next time I cook them and upload them onto here in place of this awesome string of words!  YAY!  (I will most likely forget to do this, so don't be shocked)

Alright, by the time the next Sunday had rolled around, I was tired of making fish and decided I needed to make my own quesadillas. Love them in Mexican restaurants, but I never tried making them at home, so this was my chance!

I'm sure I could perfect measurements and all that jazz, but honestly, some things are just better when you throw them in together and use measurement descriptions like "pinch of," and "fist full," and "tittle," (which is a word I always just thought my mom made up, but it turns out that it is actually in the dictionary, so...I know, who knew?).  Also, there is my personal favorite cooking phrase that my grandma uses, "until it looks right."  Ok, so here's what I did:


  • 3 chicken breasts (cut into chunks)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 sm can of Rotel tomatoes and green chilies
  • 1/2 each of Green and Red bell peppers (seeded and chopped)
  • Colby-Jack and/or Cheddar-Jack cheese
  • Pepper-Jack cheese
  • Fresh cilantro (finely chopped - or as small as you want to do)
  • 1 sm lime - for juice
  • Taco seasoning
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 4 flour tortillas (or more if smaller than 8")
  • Cooking spray

Heat about a TBSL of olive oil in a medium skillet, on medium heat.  Add the chicken, a bit of lime juice, cilantro some black pepper, paprika, and a light sprinkle of taco seasoning.  Turn as needed, and add more olive oil if needed.  Cook until chicken is tender and no longer pink in the center (or you know, 'til it looks right).  Remove the chicken and set to the side.  In the same skillet add a bit more olive oil and saute the green and red peppers until tender. Add in the can of Rotel (do NOT drain), a bit more cilantro and about a cupped palm-full of taco seasoning.  Add the Stir until all ingredients are well blended and add the chicken back into the pan.  Remove pan from burner and set aside.

Using the same (already hot) burner, get a large skillet and let it warm up a bit.  Get out 2 tortillas and spray one side of each with the cooking spray, and go ahead and spray just a bit in the skillet, but don't overdo it.  Ok, once the skillet is hot lay one of the tortillas spray side down.  Quickly layer on the pepper-jack, then a little Colby/cheddar-jack, then half of the chicken mixture, then more Colby/cheddar-jack. Place the other prepared tortilla on top, spray side up.  When the cheeses on the bottom get melting pretty good, use a wide spatula and slip it under the bottom of the quesadilla.  

Now here's the tricky part - you can use your free hand and place it on top to help with the flip, but be careful not to burn yourself...as I have never done many times.  I however, find it a little easier to flip the quesadilla by lifting it with the spatula, then tipping the skillet sideways, then in one swift ninja-like motion I flip the quesadilla while bringing the pan down level.  Either way, if you have my luck, you will lose some of the filling (just shove it back in there), the tortillas will be cockeyed (adjust it quickly after the flip the best you can), and you are about to set off the smoke alarm because you lost some cheese-covered pepper to the burner, (it's ok, just wave a dish towel around under the smoke detector and it will shut off).  Ta-da!

When that side is done, remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut into four's with a pizza cutter.  Then make the second one the same way.  Only, maybe a little better now since you've had practice with the flip?

***Leave out the chicken to make fantastic veggie quesadillas!***

Serve these with some refried beans and tortilla chips on the side and with salsa for dipping.  If you want to make a quick and easy fresh salsa from scratch, see page 44 for the recipe to Sooner Nation Salsa in the University of Oklahoma Cookbook!

More to come about what I attempted to do did for St. Patrick's Day Sunday Lupper!

As always, thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

What The Croute Do I Do With Salmon?

I know that in my last post, I talked about how I thought that I may or may not have some sort of gluten allergy.   Well, it turns out that I don't, but I do have other dietary issues such as anemia and a severe slight Girl Scout cookie addiction.  That being said, I know I said I would create and post some new gluten-free recipes, but the fact of the matter is...I've moved on to a different focus.  Now, that doesn't mean that I won't do that sometime in the future, because I am interested in the gluten-free phenomenon.  It just means not this time around.

Instead today I would like to talk about all the new recipes that I've tried over the last several weeks!  In my household, we try to assign dinner happenings with each day of the week.  For instance, Monday used to be Taco Bell Monday, until Taco Bell started making us sick every time we ate it.  So, we just decided to make homemade tacos on Mondays and skip fighting over the bathroom for the rest of the night.  Tuesdays are leftovers or "Get what you want nights" which basically means fend for yourself.  Wednesday is our eat out night of burgers or BBQ, Thursday is calzone night at a local pizza joint (because that's the restaurant's special for that day).  Friday used to be Pizza Night before we found calzone Thursdays so now Friday is a little up in the air, but I usually cook some sort of easy meal like spaghetti or something.  Saturday is the same as Friday, but lunch is always leftovers from the week.  But Sunday - Sunday is my day to create!

Sunday the kitchen is mine to experiment with something new or try out a recipe that I found and think will be a challenge to cook.  Or at least that is what Sundays have become.  They used to be just big meal days, such as roast, chicken schnitzle, etc.  But Sunday lunch (or lupper as I call the meal between lunch time and supper time), has evolved into something much more rewarding.

The first thing I tried in the evolution revolution, was one of Gordon Ramsey's dishes called Salmon en Croute.

I left the grain mustard off, because if you've been reading this blog from the beginning, you'll know that I just don't like mustard.  This dish was exciting for me to try because:

1) I've never cooked with fresh dill or fresh basil, or even salmon fillets for that matter!
2) I have never used pie crust for anything other than pies, I know weird right? (Not really)

So, I went to the market in town that carries the best fresh and frozen fish and looked for either one whole side of salmon, or a couple of fillets.  The best option was a fresh frozen (I know, what an oxymoron) side of salmon and it looked delicious!  But there was a problem.  The recipe specifically calls for the salmon to be skinned.  All the awesome cooking show chefs say you can just ask your local butcher to remove the skin for you.  Well, I didn't see how my local butcher could remove it from a frozen fish, but maybe he had some fillets or a thawed side that he could remove it from while I waited.  Just as I was thinking that, my friendly local butcher asked if he could help me.  I explained what I needed and why and he asked what the recipe was that I was cooking.  "Salmon en Croute," I said.  And then his eyes glazed over, but he replied with an "uh, huh."  He told me he did not have any salmon without the skin, but that it will peel right off when I cook it.  I re-explained that the fish would be encased in a pastry so that wouldn't work...to which he repeated, "Well, it'll just fall right off if you cook it."  Yes, thanks genius.

I took the salmon home and let it thaw overnight in the fridge.  The next day I unwrapped it and tried tugging on the skin to see what I was really dealing with.  Hm, it was not going to come off without a fight, (or according to the genius butcher, fire).  However, I had a knife.  Mind you, it was not a filleting knife, or a fancy knife, or even a sharp knife for that matter - I know, a dull knife is the most dangerous thing in a kitchen.  Maybe I'll get a round to sharpening them all, but for now, I'm going to keep telling my story.  So anyway, it wasn't all that bad, it just took some patience .  I held the corner of the skin, prying it up just enough to make an incision (yes, I'm now an official animal skin surgeon).  I sliced slowly as close to the skin as I could, cutting off the least amount of meat with the tough skin as I gently pulled it back and away from the fillet.  I took off a few chunks when I accidentally sliced a little deeper into the meat than I meant to, but all in all, it came off pretty well.  I don't need no stinkin' heat to teach that skin who's boss!

Ok so, I watched the above video for technique, followed the recipe (minus the mustard), converted said recipe from metric to standard measurements, wrapped it up and popped it into the oven.  While it was cooking I boiled some new potatoes, (which by the way is a fancy way of saying little potatoes) consisting of red, golden, and purple varieties of small potatoes. I know!!  I had no idea there was any such thing as naturally purple potatoes!  And unlike the red kind, they are purple all the way through!  I was very excited.  Anyway, I boiled those up, then drained them and drizzled them with a little olive oil before sprinkling them with rock salt, cracked pepper, fresh basil, and fresh dill.  Toss, and serve hot.  I pulled the salmon out of the oven when the crust was cooked and let it rest while I blanched some broccoli for about 3 minutes.  In a small skillet, I used a touch of olive oil to sauté two cloves of garlic, then tossed in the broccoli for a couple of minutes.  I then slice the salmon into 4 parts, as instructed, and served it all up together.  I also made up a couple of simple salads on the side.


*Oh, and just FYI - bake the salmon on a baking sheet with edges, because I did not and about half way through cooking, the butter leaked out of the parcell, dripped off the pan and all over the bottom of my oven.  There was a lot of smoke inside of it and I was about 3 minutes from setting my entire kitchen on fire.  This has been a The More You Know: Cooking Addition announcement.  You are welcome.*

I have to be honest, fish is not one of my favorite meats unless it is batter-dipped, deep fried, and covered in catsup, mostly because the flavor isn't really all that appealing to me.  Therefore, I never cook fish, I don't really know what to do with it.  However, this one dish was so amazing, that it made me wonder what else I could do with other varieties of fish?

Ack!  I have more recipes and Sunday Lupper experiences to share, but my laptop battery is dying!  Ok, stay tuned for more to come...