Pan-Seared Salmon with Basil Cream Sauce

We like to eat a lot of fish around here but sometimes it gets boring. Eating fish two times a week is highly recommended for anyone wanting a healthier diet and lifestyle, and since we primarily eat only salmon and tilapia as our main sources of fish, we like to try new ways to prepare them. This sauce has a little fattening-boost to an otherwise healthy dish, but man, does it make it good! If I’d had any fresh spinach this dish would have been excellent on a bed of wilted greens. However, as it turned out it was just as good served with roasted brussels sprouts (see this post for a great recipe) and parmesan cous cous.

basil cream sauce & salmon

Pan-Seared Salmon in Browned Butter with Basil Cream Sauce

3 or 4 salmon fillets, or a 1.5 lb cut

3 T butter

1/4 cup white wine

1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup cream cheese, room temp.

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp lemon zest

salt & pepper

1/3 cup fresh basil, chopped, divided

1. In large skillet heat the butter until it is lightly sizzling. Season salmon with salt & pepper and cook both sides until lightly browned. Set aside.

2. In small bowl combine sour cream, cream cheese, lemon zest, and 1/2 cup of the basil.

3. Deglaze pan with the wine. Simmer a few moments to reduce the liquid by half. Add in garlic and let cook 1 minute.

4. Stir in cream cheese mixture and heat through.

5. Serve salmon with a spoonful of cream sauce and a sprinkle of fresh basil.

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September Menu ~ 2013

This month I am including breakfast and lunch recipes/ideas because we are a brown-bag kind of family. If you’ve been reading here long enough you know that Number Two isn’t a big lunch eater anyway, so not only is it economical for me to pack lunches for the kids, it also allows me to control how much potential waste there might be.

An example of this would be to pack Two only half a sandwich, about 4 carrot sticks and a PB-To-Go cup, maybe a dozen mini pretzels and a juice box. Other days I might give him a snack bag sized portion of veggie or tortilla chips and maybe 2 cookies along with his half sandwich or other “main” lunch item. And I can’t even be sure he eats all of that, little portions as they are. So you can see how getting something nutritional yet fun and tasty in him is important to me, and let’s face it, those school lunches aren’t very nutritious (no matter what their campaign says).

I have a lot of new and exciting recipes to share with you this month! Be sure to stay posted while I’m working on them and watch for the red links to appear as I post each one.

sept collage - ribbet

Dinner Meal Plan

Skillet Ratatouille and Chicken

Oven Baked Tacos

BBQ Salmon

Creamy Dijon Chicken and Mushrooms over Linguine

Black Bean Risotto

Slow Cooker Salisbury Steaks

Chicken Enchilada Soup (#2)

Pan-Seared Salmon with Basil Cream Sauce

Not Your Typical Rice & Beans

Sweet Chicken Rio with Cilantro Rice

Chicken Stroganoff

Caprese Quinoa Bake

Creamy Chicken Crock Pot Tacos

Crunchy Fish Tacos with Cilantro Cream Sauce

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Salmon with Pasta and Creamy Tomato Basil Sauce

Chived Yorkshire Pudding

Oven Baked Potato Wedges

Chipotle Chicken & Corn Chowder

Lunch Meal Plan

Turkey and Cheese Roll-ups

Pizza Tarts

Chicken Taco Melts

BBQ Chicken Pinwheels

 Bacon and Gorgonzola Cornbread Sliders with Chipotle-Adobo Mayo

Granola Bars

Mini Bagel Sandwiches

Macaroni & Cheese / Ramen Noodles in thermos

Breakfast Menu Plan

Breakfast Cookies

Wonton Quiche Cups

Baked Oatmeal Casserole

Breakfast Enchiladas

Eggs & Grits Bowls

Waffles with yogurt or fresh fruit

Scrambled eggs with turkey sausage and toast


Chocolate Chip-Coconut Blondies


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Grilled Marinated Salmon

We love salmon here but sometimes the same old recipes get a little boring. What I like about this one is the layering of flavors and the fact that the fish is grilled, creating those awesome char lines on the outside while the inside stays moist and tender.

grill salmon

Grilled Marinated Salmon

4 salmon fillets

lemon pepper

garlic powder


1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup oil

1/3 cup water

1. Wash and pat dry your salmon fillets. Sprinkle both sides with lemon pepper, garlic powder and salt to taste.

2. In a small bowl combine the last 4 ingredients to make the marinade. Put the salmon into a large ziplock bag and pour the marinade over them. Lay flat and refrigerate two hours, if time allows. Turn the bag at least once.

3. Preheat your grill for medium heat.

4. Lightly spray grill with cooking spray (pure oil is best) so the fillets won’t stick. Place salmon on grill and discard marinade.

5. Cook about 5 minutes on each side.

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Poached Salmon with Sour Cream Dill Dressing

This poached salmon recipe has been sorely neglected. Once a staple in our house, it was replaced by the BBQ Salmon, and even more recently the Dijon Dill Salmon, and so I haven’t prepared salmon this way in years.

But this is good. Like really, really good. If you like salmon. And the dressing is heavenly. It makes everything better. In fact, this dressing is great on a variety of things including raw veggies and baked potatoes. It’s a thick dressing, but it melts easily and mixes in well with chunks of juicy veggies like tomatoes. But you absolutely have to try it on your salmon. Promise.


Poached Salmon

3 lb filet of salmon*


2-3 stalks celery

1 medium onion, sliced

1 T capers

1 T lemon juice

2 T dill weed

salt & pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350* and cut a large piece of heavy-duty foil (about twice the size of your baking dish.

2. Wash and dry your salmon. *I use individual filets without skin and make one per person.

3. Wash your celery and cut into large chunks, including leaves. Slice onion. Arrange celery and onion on the bottom of the baking dish (on top of the center of the foil), leaving a few extra pieces for the top.

4. Place the salmon on top of the veggies (skin side down). Sprinkle liberally with EVOO over each piece (about 2 tsp each) then a bit of lemon juice and salt and pepper. *Fresh lemon slices are wonderful on this dish but if you don’t have any bottle lemon juice will work.

5. Sprinkle the dill and the capers over it all and then put any extra onions and celery pieces on top.

6. Fold the foil over and seal the top and the sides, creating a pillow. Bake for about 30 minutes. *Salmon will be tender and moist.


Sour Cream & Dill Dressing

2/3 cup mayonnaise

1/3 cup sour cream

1 tsp dill weed

2 T minced onion

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 T lemon juice

1/4 tsp white pepper


1. Combine everything and taste. Add salt & pepper as needed.

2. Refrigerate at least an hour. Makes 1 cup.



Smoked Salmon & Creme Fraiche Bruschetta

Here is an easy appetizer to put together for those impromptu drop-ins or just for an evening of nibbling something light out on the back porch as you enjoy a spring evening. I used a thin lox-like salmon for this but next time I will try a hot smoked salmon that is flaky. I think it will add a lot more texture and flavor.


Smoked Salmon Bruschetta

10 oz. smoked salmon (no skin)

7-8 oz. creme fraiche OR *sour cream/cream cheese mixture

1 T dill

1 cornichon, finely diced (or 1 tsp capers)

juice of 1/2 lemon

black pepper

1 baguette, cut into 1/2 inch slices

1/2 cup EVOO


1. In a large bowl place the cut up (or flaked) salmon and mix with the creme fraiche. *In place of creme fraiche you can combine 2 oz cream cheese with 2 T sour cream.

2. Mix in the dill and chopped capers. I am not super fond of capers so 1 tsp was enough for me, however if you really like them then you could easily add another tsp, or more to taste.

3. Add the lemon juice and season with the pepper.

4. Drizzle the baguette slices with the EVOO and either broil or lightly fry in a saute pan until slightly browned.

5. Spoon a heaping teaspoon of salmon mixture onto each toast and serve.



October Menu ~ 2012

Fall is without a doubt my favorite season. I love the crisp air and the fresh smells. Apples and pumpkins make their many appearances from dishes on the table to decorations around the house and in the yard. While this month I’m not focusing on the before-mentioned ingredients just yet, I am switching my menu to include more hearty soups and belly-filling meals. Below is my menu plan for the month with links for the recipes already posted. There are a lot of recipes I intend to try for the first time this month, and so as always, stay tuned for links 🙂

Week 1 ~ October 1st – 6th

Spinach Tomato Feta Frittata

Slow Cooker Sloppy Joes

Mexican Pizza

Roasted Salmon with Lemon-Herb Matzo Crust

Friday – Pizza Night

Chicken Schnitzel with Spaetzle

Week 2 ~ October 7th – 13th

Sunday Dinner – Roast Chicken, Carrot Mash Bake, Pesto-Parmesan Green Beans, Roasted potatoes & Biscuits

Muffaletta Calzone (with turkey pepperoni– optional)

Cheeseburger Salad

Taco Pizza (new recipe!)

Mexican Tilapia with Crock Pot Pinto Beans and Rice Fritters

Friday – Pizza Night

Ultimate Baked Beans (this is a meal!) with Corn & Wild Rice Muffins

Week 3 ~ October 14th – 20th

Sunday Dinner – Hearty Taco Chili

Black Bean Taquitos with Cucumber Salsa & Garlic Sour Cream

Turkey Salisbury Steaks with White Bean Mash


Creamy Risotto and Shrimp with Green Peas

Friday – Pizza Night


Week 4 ~ October 21st – 27th

Sunday Dinner – Roast Beef, Roasted Green Beans, 7-Grain Mix, Herb & Cheese Biscuits

Pasta and Lentil Soup with Homemade Crackers

Meatball Sub Cups with Butternut Squash Bake

Lime Chicken Tacos

Piccata Style Fish with Pasta and Lima Beans

Friday – Pizza Night

Romano-Crusted Chicken

Week 5 ~ October 28th – 31st

Sunday Dinner – Beef Stew with Biscuits

Zucchi Noodles with Turkey Meatballs & Marinara

Chicken Gyros and Salad

Cheese Enchiladas with Refried Beans and Salad


Turkey Bacon & Egg Puffs

Eggs & Grits Bowl

Crock Pot Oatmeal

Jimmy Dean Delights (turkey sausage, egg white, and cheese breakfast sandwiches on a wheat english muffin)

Cheese Omelet with Whole Wheat Toast, Beef or Turkey Sausage and Banana slices

Other Sides:

Rosemary Sunchoke Chips (If I can find sunchokes!)

Homemade Crackers

Cheesy Rice Fritters

Pesto-Parmesan Green Beans

Crock Pot Pinto Beans

Refried Beans

Herb and Cheese Biscuits


Double Dark-Chocolate Hazelnut Banana Bread (I may use an Almond Butter instead of the Hazelnut)

Caramel Pear Pudding

Caramel Praline Tart

Oatmeal Cookies with Mini Chocolate Chips

Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Bars

Go-To Granola Bars

Tuscan Herb Salmon

We love salmon and try to eat it at least once a week. Being on the coast we get lots of fresh fish, but salmon is hard to come by (doesn’t seem fair since it’s my favorite). It really makes me wish I still lived in Seattle 🙂 Since it’s not easy to find – at least not fresh – I buy it from Sams Club. We get about 3 meals out of a package of indiviually wrapped portions for a decent price, and it is the best quality salmon I’ve found anywhere.

I came across this recipe for Tuscan Herb Salt at the Circle B Kitchen blog and I knew I had to try it. Lately I’ve been experimenting with recipes found on other foodie blogs because my food mags have stalled – but we have not been disappointed! There is so much great food out there and my boys are having a great time trying out new meals and rating them (keeper or not?).

Tuscan Herb Salt

4 to 5 garlic cloves, peeled

Between 1/3 and 1/2 cup kosher salt

About 2 cups loosely-packed, pungent fresh herbs such as sage, rosemary, thyme

Cut each garlic clove lengthwise through the center and remove sprout (if any) in the center and discard.

Mound the salt and garlic on a cutting board. Use a chef’s knife to mince the garlic, blending it with the salt as you work.

Place herbs in a mound and coarsely chop them. Add the herbs to the garlic salt and chop them together to texture of coarse sand.

You can use this immediately or spread the salt on a baking sheet, or in wide flat bowls, and leave near an open window for a couple of days to dry. Store in clean, dry jars, or for gifts, pack into cello bags and tie with a ribbon (love that idea!).

*Instead of hand-chopping you can use a food processor. Cut each garlic as directed above to remove the sprout.

In the bowl of the processor, combine the garlica nd 2 T. of salt. Pulse until the garlic is chopped meduim-coarse. Add the herbs and continue pulsing until the mixture is the texture of very coarse sand. Transfer to a sheet pan and toss with the remaining salt.

Oven-Roasted Salmon with Tuscan Herb Salt

1 pound center-cut salmon filet, with skin on

1 or 2 T. EVOO or oil spray

Tuscan Herb Salt

Tuscan Herb Sauce for serving (recipe to follow)

Preheat oven to 250*

*Make Herb Sauce

Cut salmon into four uniform portions. Pat dry with paper towel. Sprinkle the tops of the fish with some of the herb salt. Heat 1 T. oil in heavy ovenproof skillet over high heat; skillet should be large enough to hold salmon without crowding. Add salmon skin side up, and sear quickly about 2 minutes, until it can be lifted easily with a spatula without sticking. Turnm and sear about 2 minutes skin side down.. Thickest part should still be raw in center.

Brush top of salmon with remaining olive oil and place in oven about 20 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with Tuscan Herb Sauce.


1/4 cup sour cream

1/4 cup greek yogurt

1 T. olive oil

1 T. Tuscan Herb Salt

Combine all ingredients. *Let the sauce come to room temperature before serving.

As usual there were a few things I had to do differently. First of all I don’t have easy access to fresh herbs here on the island in winter, so I used dried. Also, I have a ovenproof skillet but hubby won’t let me cook fish in it (I really need a second one just for fish!) so what I normally do in this situation is cook the fish in a regular skillet and transfer it to an oven-safe baking dish.

Please be sure to link to the Circle B Kitchen and see all the great recipes she’s got – you won’t be sorry!

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The Pantry Challenge Journal ~ Week 2

I started off last week struggling with my menu. I don’t know why it was harder. Perhaps it’s because I felt restrained by my Pantry Challenge. Making out my grocery list was also hard, because even though I was not adding frivolous items to the list, I still felt it was cheating by going to the grocery store at all. However, I was out of eggs and that cannot happen. Another thing that makes it hard is that sometimes I am flipping through recipe after recipe but nothing inspires me. Especially since we’ve got so much fresh tuna in the freezer. Finding something yummy to make of it besides the same old tuna casserole or baked fish recipes is really hard. Consequently, I have no tuna recipes to share at the moment. But in an effort to use up what I’ve got and to maintain a variety, here is what I made this week:

Monday, January 9th: Brown sugar and Dijon honey-glazed salmon. See BBQ Salmon for the recipe.

Tuesday, January 10th: Steak Taquitos.  Because I am working solely out of my pantry I wanted an occassion to use up the frozen Steak Taquitos I bought from Schwan’s and because Cory is out of town AGAIN I knew the boys would have a lot of fun with this. For our veggie I mixed together leftover lima beans and skillet corn for a new twist. Very good.

Served with salsa and sour cream

Wednesday, January 11th: Ground Turkey and Olive Ragu. The basis of this recipe came from somewhere else, which originally a veal and olive ragu served with papardelle pasta. Cook up 1 lb. ground turkey meat with 1 small onion, chopped, and 2 cloves garlic, chopped. After the meat is cooked through add 1 Tbsp rosemary sprigs and 3 oz. tomato paste. Mix in well and heat through. Add 1/2 cup green olives, chopped, and 1/2 cup dry white wine, and 1 tsp parsley. Heat through and add 1/2 cup pasta sauce. You could add more sauce, depending on how saucy you want it, but generally speaking a ragu is not a sauce. Top with parmesan cheese. The boys weren’t crazy about the olives but I liked it. I served it over leftover spaghetti noodles.


Thursday, January 12th:  Steak Quesadillas. I am a Chicken-eating girl at heart. I rarely ever choose steak anything, but I had 2 packages of steak strips in my freezer and needed to make good use of them. The boys like steak so this worked out good for them. I opened one package and pre-cooked it in a skillet with a little olive oil and some Southwest Chiptole seasoning. After I cut the pieces up, I added them to my tortillas with cheese and tomato. Using my handy little Foreman Grill, I made my quesadillas. I served them with black beans, rice, and salsa.

Friday, January 13th: Chicken Cordon Bleu. This is a healthy version I got from my friend Bekki. She made it for me years ago when I was visiting at her house and I have made it ever since. My whole family loves it. It’s very simple to prepare: take boneless, skinless chicken breasts and sear for a few minutes on each side. Wrap in turkey bacon and bake at 350* for 30 minutes or until cooked through. Top with a slice of swiss cheese (or provolone) and melt. Serve with rice, cous cous, or mashed potatoes and a veggie. Here I mixed leftover risotto and kale with leftover black beans and added a pinch of salt and dried cilantro, and some chopped tomatoes. Delicious!

Saturday, January 14th: Family Night. Bowling and dinner at Applebees.

Sunday, January 15th: Whole Roasted Chicken with, seasoned baby potatoes, collard bake, glazed rutabagas, greenbeans, and whole wheat rolls. Sunday’s are my traditional dinner days.

As you can see, I am on a mission here 🙂 Though I generally cook dinner most days of the week anyway. The times you see us eating outside of the home is not any more or less than normal for us. We do not have a separate budget for eating out because we don’t do it often. Restaurants are more expensive on the island, plus most of them close down during the winter months anyway. I am thankful there are no fast food chains around here because we don’t normally eat at them and it would be a considerable waste of our money for zero nutrition.

2 weeks left to go!

Head on over to my second post today and read Family Time. Thanks!

BBQ Salmon

For years we’ve been pan searing our salmon with BBQ sauce. It is very yummy and quick, and has been my go-to meal over and over again. I love this meal because we are getting all the great benefits of fish, plus awesome flavor that ensures a clean plate. All I have to do is take 4 salmon fillets out of the freezer in time for them to thaw (I buy individually wrapped salmon fillets from Sam’s Club. It’s truly the best deal I’ve found anywhere on the East coast.) If I’ve forgotten to take them out then I will put them in some luke-warm water and they will defrost in no time.

This time I wanted to make something different so I found a Rachael Ray recipe called Brown-Sugar-Mustard-Glazed Salmon. It was so similar that it made me think of our favorite BBQ, which I might as well have made. I will give you both recipes.

Brown-Sugar-Mustard-Glazed Salmon

1/3 cup brown sugar

2 1/2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

Juice of 1/2 lemon

Salt & Pepper

Four 7-ounce salmon fillets

2 tsp olive oil

1. Preheat the oven to 400*. In a small bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, mustard, lemon juice and 1/2 tsp pepper.

2. Heat a large, ovenproof skillet over high heat. Rub the salmon with the oil, season with salt & pepper and place skin side up in the skillet. Cook until a crisp brown crust forms, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat, flip the salmon and coat with the brown sugar mixture. Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake until the glaze caramelizes and the fish is cooked through, about 5 minutes.

What I did: I do have a cast-iron skillet but Cory won’t let me cook fish in it 🙂 and it’s the only oven proof pan I’ve got. Also, I don’t buy salmon with skin on it (usually). Therefore, I followed the directions as best I could by searing the one side in a large pan and then transferring the fish to a baking pan. Overall it was very good, but the BBQ would have given me a much better crusting.

BBQ Salmon:

4 salmon fillets

One -18 ounce bottle BBQ sauce

1. In a large skillet, pour 1/3 BBQ sauce and heat pan to medium-high heat. Add salmon fillets and pour remaining sauce over top. Allow sauce to bubble and thicken as the salmon cooks. Turn salmon and redistribute sauce so that it continues to glaze all over. Add a little water if sauce is too thick or starting to burn. Take care not to over cook the fish.

Sometimes I manage a nice crusty glaze, other times it’s just moist and saucy. It doesn’t always come out exactly the same every time. I usually serve this with a wild rice mix and some kind of green veggie.

Clean up tip: Scrape all the remaining sauce out of the pan (you can use it over the fish or on the rice, etc. if you like), then immediately add water to hot pan and allow it to deglaze while you’re eating.

Look for post #2: Veggie Box!