Pecan Crusted Salmon

A common complaint when cooking with lean meats is the lack of flavor. When the fat is removed, the cooking process can make the protein dry. Thankfully, because the majority of the fat found in salmon is of the healthy unsaturated variety, we can leave it there and STILL consider it good for you. In fact, the unsaturated fat is one of the most nutritious parts. Salmon is also packed with protein, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, and flavor, therefore easily earning a spot on the list of my favorite dinners.

Up until now, I have NEVER prepared salmon myself. With my mother being a picky eater growing up, if it wasn't swiss steak or chicken, it wasn't on the table. Plus the fish scales were intimidating. Only at restaurants or outings was I able to indulge. Yet, after this successful attempt, its presence will be made more frequently (especially when found on sale, like it was this weekend).

 

Ingredients: 1 lb Salmon Filet, 1/2 cup whole wheat Panko Crumbs, 1/2 cup crushed pecans, 1/4 cup Dijon Mustard, 1/2 teaspoon Parsley Flakes, 1/2 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

 

Directions:

1. Turn your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit, and let it heat up while you do the prep. Get an oven safe dish or cooking sheet ready, and line it with aluminum foil. To be safe, add a spritz of cooking spray to prevent the fish from sticking.

2. The first part of the recipe is the hardest - cutting the salmon filet. You could take the skin off first with a sharp knife, however I left it on too keep in some of the moisture. If you remove the skin you run the risk of leaving some of your salmon on the foil when done. I will admit, after scoring the flesh of the fish with a knife, I thoroughly cleaned a pair of good scissors and used them to separate the salmon into 3 to 4 ounce portions. Much easier this way.

3. Once into 3 to 4oz separate pieces, take the Dijon Mustard and distribute it evenly on the fish. 

4. For the crumb mixture, first crush the pecans. I took a plastic bag then used my hand to break the halves into tiny pieces. You purchase pecans already crushed, but it is a healthy way to get aggression out. Next add the Panko bread crumbs, parsley flakes and black pepper. Mix all together.

5. Place the crumb mixture on top of the salmon, and throw it in the oven for 18 to 20 minutes.

6. When done, you will have a crunchy topping that nicely compliments the buttery yet flaky texture of the fish. If you want, serve with a fresh lemon. Enjoy!

Pair it with one of the vegetable recipes, such as the roasted broccoli or Brussels sprouts - or a nice glass of wine :-)

Barley Mix with Kale, Mushroom and Onion

In honor of the fiber articles, I decided to work with a grain that is JUST as easy to prepare, but not as commonly found on our shelves: Barley. Per cup, cooked barley contains 6 grams of dietary fiber. Plus, I think it has a better bite to it. 

 

Ingredients: 

- 1 cup Quick-Cooking Barley (you can do it the old-fashioned slow way, but I prefer to save time and my sanity). For this recipe I used the Quaker brand and liked the end result. You would be using 1/2 the box.

- 2 cups Low-sodium Chicken Broth (I used half the box pictured below)

- 1 bunch of Kale, chopped

- 1 Yellow Onion, chopped (any which way or size you like)

- 1 pack sliced Mushrooms (label says 8oz or 227 grams)

- 2 Tbsp Olive Oil (you will break it up into 1 Tbsp for the onion/mushroom, and the other 1 Tbsp for the kale)

- 2 tsp dry dill

- 1 Tbsp minced garlic

- 2 tsp black pepper 

- If desired, touch of salt. Personally, I think the chicken broth is enough

      *I want to mention that you can use ANY cooked vegetables you want. The ones listed are just my favorite in this dish. In total, I used 9 essential ingredients for this recipe (salt was optional). However, if you dislike kale, don't use it! Barley taste just as good with onion and mushroom. Have fun with it :-)

Missing from photo: Kale and Minced Garlic. They were a last minute addition thanks to a gracious gift from my sister-in-law! For me, when I actually see the starting ingredients, the recipe is less intimidating.

Missing from photo: Kale and Minced Garlic. They were a last minute addition thanks to a gracious gift from my sister-in-law! For me, when I actually see the starting ingredients, the recipe is less intimidating.

 

Directions:

1. First, prepare the barley. In a large sauce pan, pour in the chicken broth then bring it to a boil. When bubbly, add the quick-cooking barley, stir, turn the heat down to low, add a lid and let it simmer. The directions say 12-13 minutes, but mine took 15 minutes total. I also stirred the barley twice during that time to prevent it from sticking to the pan. When done, set aside.

2. Take another large sauce pan (or quickly rinse the one you already used - less dishes later), and turn the heat to medium. Pour in 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add the chopped onion and mushroom slices. Do a couple shakes of black pepper over them for a light kick. Put the lid on and sautee the vegetables, stirring occasionally. The whole process should take about 5-6 minutes. When tender, pour the vegetables over the already done barley.

3. Finally, the kale. I like to cook the kale separately from the onion and mushroom. If you are really talented you could always do the mushroom, onion and kale together, but I can never get the cooking times right. In a sauce pan, pour the other 1 Tbsp of olive oil, then add the 1 Tbsp minced garlic. Add the kale, put a lid on it, and let it sautee. Stir occasionally, until the leaves are wilted and tender. This should take about 6-7 minutes.

4. Mix it all together! Then shake the dill and black pepper into the dish, and stir.

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Onion, Mushroom & Egg Breakfast Sandwich

In order to make this a speedy breakfast option, you may have to sauté the mushrooms and onion the night before, which is not hard at all. However, if you have 10 minutes, this will be your new go to breakfast of choice.

You will need: 1 whole grain bagel thin, 5 sliced mushrooms and a few slices of onion (really this is up to you, if you like onion, have at it), 1 egg, cooking spray, and salt & pepper.

1. Spray a frying pan with cooking spray, then place over low-medium heat on your stove top.

2. Add the chopped onion and mushroom slices. Stir around and cook until tender. Takes about 3 minutes, but I like them a little on the al dente side. I also add a pinch of salt and pepper. When done, remove from heat and place on a plate.

3. Clean off the pan, re-spray with cooking spray, then crack the egg. I cook mine over-medium. But this is totally your call. Flip when ready. During this time, place your bagel in the toaster (timing will be perfect).

4. Assemble! Place the egg on 1/2 the bagel, top with 'shrooms and onion, sprinkle with pepper or hot sauce if desired, and sandwich between the other bagel half. So good, but a little sloppy depending on how runny your egg turns out. If you are a big breakfast eater, grab a piece of fruit to go.

 

Oven-roasted Broccoli Florets

I dream about broccoli cooked this way. Fair warning, you may be burping it up later. Totally worth it though.

1. Turn your oven on to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.. Take one head broccoli, and chop into bite-size florets. Can use the inside of the stems too. Not as pretty, but still taste fine.

1. Place the broccoli bits on a cooking sheet that has one layer of tin foil placed on top, and has already been heavily covered with cooking spray. Try to get them evenly sprayed and touching as little as possible.

2. Now, you don't NEED salt, but if your blood pressure is fine, your heart is pumping efficiently, and your kidneys are cleared, then go ahead and add a pinch. Otherwise, use pepper or Mrs. Dash (or plain).

3. Cook for 15 minutes total. Once during that time, take out and flip them around.

SO FLIPPIN' GOOD

Oven-baked Seasoned Potatoes

Spice up your tots using a Greek-style seasoning. I personally love Cavender's All-purpose Greek Seasoning, but Korniko or the more well-known McCormick also have their own varieties.

1. Pick your favorite potato - I recommend Yukon Gold, Ruby Lou, or Red Gold. Chop them up into bite size pieces, about the size of dice. 

2. Set the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. Take a large oven-safe metal sheet, and add a layer of tin foil. STILL spray the tin foil with cooking spray. Give it a good dousing. No one wants metallic potatoes.

4. Place your chopped potatoes on the sheet, lightly drizzle some olive oil, shake them around. 

5. Sprinkle with the Greek seasoning. I use just enough so you can see the little flakes, while the potato is CLEARLY still visible. Shake around and repeat.

6. Place the sheet in the oven, and cook for a total of 25-30 minute. Shaking them up once during that time. This is always a chance to check how done they are.

Pan-fried Brussels Sprouts

Insanely good way to prepare this hearty cruciferous vegetable.

1. Boil 2 cups raw Brussels Sprouts in a large pot of water for 5 minutes. Add a pinch of salt to the water first.

2. Remove the sprouts, rinse with cold water, then let cool for 2-3 minutes.

3. Slice the cooled-off Brussels Sprouts into halves (better for browning the vegetables).

4. Get the pan ready by covering it with 2 Tbsp Olive Oil and placing the stove top onto Medium heat.

5. Wait a second, then add a spoonful of minced garlic (depends how much you can handle, I use 1 Tbsp).

6. Throw in the sprout halves, add a dash of salt and pepper, and shake the pan every 3 minutes to prevent burning. In total, they will cook in the pan for about 10-12 minutes.