Salmon with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

It’s the first day of a new school year (and hopefully my last year as a grad student!). Summer is over and this means that the joys of being able to come to campus whenever I want and to be able to find a parking spot no problem is over. It’s back to waking up super early, rushing to campus, and then battling it out with a bunch of 18-year-olds for a parking space (no offense to any 18-year-olds reading this…). But, there are two good things about fall: 1. cooler weather and 2. SEMINOLE FOOTBALL! Now, onto the food.

When it comes to seafood, I always prefer simple, light, citrus flavors. We have salmon about once a week and this is the way the hubs and myself like to cook it. This is a quick and easy dish to make. You can turn it all out in about 15-20 minutes, which during the week, this is my kind of meal!

Salmon with Lemon Butter Caper Sauce

Serves 2

Ingredients:

– 1 lb. salmon

– 1 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 2 lemons, juiced

– 2 garlic cloves

– 1 1/2 tbs. butter (I used Smart Balance)

– 1 tbs. capers

– salt and pepper

Directions:

1. Heat olive oil in pan. Sprinkle salmon with salt and pepper. Add to pan skin side down. Add half of the lemon juice. Cook for approximately 3-4 minutes and turn over. Scrape skin off fish and discard. Cook for an additional 4 minutes. Turn over once more and cook for 2 minutes or until fish is cooked to your preference. Remove fish from pan.

2. Without cleaning the pan, add butter and garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. Add remaining lemon juice and bring to a simmer. Add capers. Turn off heat and pour sauce evenly over fish and serve.

Mexican Turkey Bake


I’ve been making this dish for many years, but I don’t really know what to call it. I like to think that I am a pretty creative person, but not today. So let’s just call this one Mexican Turkey Bake. Cuz, you know, it has mexican flavors, and turkey, and stuff… ANYWAY, I like it because you can just throw it all together pretty quickly and it’s a good protein-packed meal with the black beans and turkey and it will fill you up fast! The great thing about this recipe is that you can change up the ingredients really easily depending on your personal tastes. I used ground turkey, but you could also use ground meat or ground chicken. And because I am trying to stay away from heavy starches, I used quinoa, but you could totally use white or brown rice! And of course, I had to have a glass on Skinnygirl Margarita with it!

Mexican Turkey Bake

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

– 1 cup uncooked quinoa (or rice)

– 2 cups water

– 1/2 tsp. black pepper

– 1/2 tsp. sea salt

– 1 package taco seasoning

– 1 lb. ground turkey (or chicken or beef)

– 1/2 cup finely diced onion

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 2 cans seasoned black beans, drained and rinsed

– 2 cans diced tomatoes, drained

– 1 cup reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

– Optional Toppings: sour cream, green onion, and cilantro

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a saucepan, cook quinoa or rice in 2 cups of water until liquid is absorbed. Add salt and pepper. Set aside. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil and add onions. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add meat. Sprinkle with some salt and pepper and cook for 8 minutes. Prepare taco seasoning according to package instructions. Add to meat and cook until liquid is absorbed.

2. Add diced tomatoes, black beans, and meat to quinoa and mix. Add mixture to a 9 x 13 baking dish. Sprinkle with cheese, cover with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 5 minutes until cheese is melted. Remove from oven and scoop into bowls. Top with toppings of your choice and serve!

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

I definitely woke up this morning with a case of the Mondays. Didn’t get enough sleep last night and I just wanted to be lazy all day long! But alas, to work I went and now it’s all dreary outside and it’s about to rain which means it’s time for a glass of wine, pajamas, and trashy reality shows. I had a couple of sweet potatoes stuffed in my pantry that I wanted to use up before they went bad, but I wanted to do something a little different with them. I decided to try my hand at making some seasoned baked sweet potato chips! They came out pretty good, but I realized one thing while making these puppies. I NEED A MANDOLINE! I tried to cut them as thin and evenly as possible, but of course that was an epic fail. Some did not get as browned and crispy, but they were still good. So, lesson learned folks. Use a mandoline while making these chips!

Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Serves 4

Ingredients:

– 3 medium-sized sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced thin to approx. 1/8″

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1/4 tsp. black pepper

– 1/2 tsp. sea salt

– 1/2 chili powder

– 1/2 tsp. cumin

– 1/2 tsp. garlic pepper

– 1/2 tsp. paprika

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl combine sliced sweet potatoes and olive oil. Toss to coat evenly. Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray and layer potatoes evenly in a single layer.

2. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a bowl. Sprinkle about half of the mixture evenly over the potatoes. Bake for approximately 12-15 minutes. Flip and then cook for an additional 8-10 minutes*. Remove from pan and toss with remaining seasoning and serve!

Notes: I recommend keeping an eye on these while they are cooking (especially after the flip). You don’t want them to burn and if they are sliced thin, they cook quickly. If some start to brown too much, remove them, and continue to cook the rest. You may find that your oven cooks more quickly or more slowly than mine and can adjust the cook time accordingly.

Lemon Balsamic Grilled Chicken

This lemon balsamic chicken is my go-to chicken recipe for grilling chicken. I make this chicken just about every week. You can eat it plain with grilled veggies or other sides, on a salad, or even make a sandwich out of it! I love the lemon flavor it has and the balsamic vinegar in the marinade adds depth to the chicken and helps give it that nice golden brown color while it cooks on the grill! Let your chicken marinate as long as possible for more flavor! Today, I threw my chicken on a big salad! It had so much flavor! :)

Lemon Balsamic Grilled Chicken

Serves 2

Ingredients:

– 1 pound chicken breast, trimmed and halved

– 2 lemons, juiced

– 1/2 tbs. lemon zest

– 2 tbs. extra virgin olive oil

– 1 1/2 tbs. balsamic vinegar

– 1/2 tsp. sea salt

– 1/2 tsp. ground pepper

Directions:

1. Pound chicken to approximately 1/2 inch thick and set aside. In a small bowl whisk together lemon juice, zest, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Set aside. In freezer bag, add chicken and pour marinade into bag. Coat chicken with marinade. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours (the longer, the better!).

2. Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat. Grill chicken for about 5-6 minutes per side until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Let stand for 5 minutes before slicing.

Frosting Galore!


This is going to be a hodge podge of a post, but I wanted to share my recipes for homemade chocolate buttercream frosting and for peanut butter buttercream frosting that my little sister, Carolyn, and I made. When I was in Cleveland visiting family two weeks ago, I was telling my little sister about this blog. She wanted to make something from the blog while I was home. We decided to make a cake because it was also my Dad’s birthday. We followed my doctored chocolate cake recipe and made a layer cake and then in between the layers, we whipped up a very rich peanut butter buttercream frosting and then did a homemade chocolate buttercream on the outside.

I only had made my own chocolate buttercream frosting once before and it came out okay. I tried to follow the same recipe again from memory, but all we could taste was the powdered sugar! We ended up melting some Hersey’s bars and mixed it in and that gave the frosting the chocolatey taste we were looking for! The peanut butter buttercream was pretty rich. In fact, if the whole cake had this frosting, I wouldn’t have been able to eat more than a few bites. And even with the PB in just the middle, this cake was RICH. Cut modest slices and have a big glass of milk on standby!

Carolyn is a perfectionist (what can I say, she takes after her sister…) and wanted our cake to look as professional as possible. She spent a lot of time trying to smooth out the chocolate buttercream frosting. Then she decorated the sides and the top of the cake! Here was our finished product:

Not too shabby, right? Oh, and while we’re at it. I have to give a little pre-birthday shout out to Carolyn because tomorrow is her 13th Birthday! So, Happy 13th Birthday, Carolyn! I can’t believe she is officially a teenager! Watch out world!

Peanut Butter Buttercream Frosting

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups of frosting

Ingredients:

– 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

– 1 cup confectioner’s sugar

– 8 tbs. unsalted butter, softened

– 1 tsp. vanilla extract

– 2-3 tbs. milk or heavy cream

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth (use paddle attachment if using stand mixer). Add in peanut butter and vanilla and mix until well-combined. Add in 2 tbs. of milk and beat continuously until well-combined. If the frosting is too thick, add additional milk, one tablespoon at a time.

Milk Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Makes enough frosting to liberally frost 24 cupcakes or one large cake

Ingredients:

– 2 lbs. confectioner’s sugar

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

– 1 tbs. unsweetened cocoa powder

– 1/2-3/4 cup melted milk chocolate (about 2 Hersey’s Bars)

– 6-8 tbs. milk or heavy cream

1. In a mixing bowl, cream together the butter and melted chocolate. Then add the sugar one cup at a time until smooth (use paddle attachment if using stand mixer). Add in cocoa powder and vanilla and and mix until well-combined. Add in about 4 tbs. of milk and beat continuously until well-combined. Continue to add milk one tablespoon at at time until frosting reaches desired consistency. Frost cake or cupcakes.

Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cookies


Alright, so I woke up this morning feeling super sluggish and have been sneezing non-stop! I think I am getting a cold. This is not a good time for a cold (I know, I know, is there any “good” time for a cold?). I have a month and a half to write and defend my prelim paper if I finally want to move onto my dissertation, finish grad school, and get that Ph.D. next summer. I WILL finish!

So despite feeling crappy and having a boatload of work to do, I decided to make these low-carb peanut butter cookies for you all instead (yeah, I know how to prioritize!). I first saw this recipe on a message board I used to frequent a few years ago. I make these cookies a lot because they are healthier than the traditional cookie and they don’t require many ingredients! These cookies are low-carb because they have no flour and instead of using real sugar, I used Splenda. If you don’t care about the carbs or sugar, then feel free to use regular sugar. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go eat some of these cookies, take some DayQuil, and get back to work! Happy Sunday!

Low-Carb Peanut Butter Cookies

Makes 12 small cookies

Ingredients:

– 1 cup reduced-fat peanut butter

– 2 tsp. vanilla extract

– 1 egg

– 1 cup granular Splenda*

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients in a bowl. Drop from teaspoonfuls onto a non-stick cookie sheet. Using the back of a fork, dip fork into some warm water (you can then dip in some more Splenda if you want) and make a criss-cross patten on top of the cookies as you flatten them a bit. Bake for approximately 9-10 minutes or until cookies start to brown.

Notes:
– You may find that a cup of Splenda is too sweet for your tastes. I actually tend to use more like 3/4 and have even went as low as a 1/2 of a cup because I don’t like for these to be super sweet! So feel free to experiment with the sugar measurements!