Monday, October 23, 2017

Spicy Oven Baked Salmon for Dinner

Salmon is one of my favorite choices for dinner.  I try to eat salmon once a week because of the healthy omega-3 fats it adds to my diet.  Hubby is not a salmon lover, so I have to be creative in the ways I serve salmon to him.  This oven-baked Southwest Salmon with Sriracha Sauce is a favorite of his, and me, too.

Spicy Southwest Salmon with Sriracha Sauce 

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Spicy Southwest Salmon
Spicy Southwest Salmon

First, you'll want to select your salmon.  I always ask to have my salmon cut to order from the thick end of the salmon fillet.  I also like to have the skin left on my salmon.  I think it helps to keep the salmon moist as it cooks and the skin is easy enough to remove before serving. I like to use a fish spatula to remove the skin from the salmon after cooking.  The sharp edge of the fish spatula makes it easy to separate the skin from the salmon in one easy scoop.

Next, you'll need some Southwest seasoning.  I always make my own.  It's so easy to make your own Southwest seasoning mix and once you do, you'll find yourself using it all the time.

Finally, you'll want sriracha sauce.  I make my own by mixing sriracha and mayonnaise together to taste.  Squeeze a little lime juice into the sauce to thin it and add some zippiness.

Spicy Southwest Salmon
This is such a quick dinner to prepare, you'll definitely find it easy enough for a weeknight.  It is perfect when paired with a salad.  Ranch or blue cheese salad dressings offset the spiciness of the Southwest seasoning nicely.

Southwest Salmon with Sriracha Sauce

Four Ingredient Spicy Salmon
Four Ingredient Spicy Salmon
Printer Friendly Recipe

  • One 6-8 ounce piece of salmon per person
  • Southwest Seasoning
  • Olive oil
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • Sriracha sauce, to taste
  • Freshly squeezed lime juice to taste


Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.  Rinse and pat dry each piece of salmon.  Pour a little olive oil onto the prepared baking sheet.  Place the salmon pieces on the baking sheet and spread a bit of olive oil on top of each piece.

Sprinkle the Southwest seasoning on each piece of salmon, lightly for a little flavor and more for a little more spiciness.  Place the baking sheet on the center rack of your oven for 10-12 minutes, depending on how well done you like your salmon.

While the salmon is cooking make your sriracha sauce.  Mix the mayonnaise, sriracha sauce, and lime juice together to taste.  Add the sriracha one teaspoon at a time until you get the level of heat you like.  The lime juice is just for a little zip and you can leave it out if you like.

Serve your salmon with a drizzle of the sriracha sauce and a little extra on the side for dipping.  Yum!

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Buffalo Chicken Dip-A Party Must Have

I like to have snacks and dips on hand for impromptu gatherings. Buffalo Chicken Dip is one of my favorite dips.  It is easy to make and always a crowd pleaser.  Buffalo Chicken Dip can be served either hot or cold, so it is perfect for any situation.

Donna's Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip
Buffalo Chicken Dip

Buffalo Chicken Dip
I start by poaching a chicken breast covered with water seasoned with salt, peppercorns, and a bay leaf.  You don't have the time for that?  Not to worry, you can easily substitute canned chicken, but if you have the time go ahead and poach your own chicken.

With just five main ingredients, this Buffalo Chicken Dip is a simple dip to prepare.  You probably have all the ingredients on hand to make it right now.  I always think it is better to make a dip like this a day ahead of serving to give the flavors time to settle in.  Make it today or tomorrow and you'll have a tasty dip for weekend football watching or friends dropping by.

Buffalo Chicken Dip Ingredients
Buffalo Chicken Dip Ingredients

Donna's Buffalo Chicken Dip

  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 6-8 whole peppercorns
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces cream cheese (low fat may be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
  • 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce

Place the chicken breast in a saucepan.  Cover the chicken breast completely with water.  Add the salt, peppercorns and bay leaf.  Bring the water to a boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer.

Poaching a Chicken Breast
Poaching the Chicken Breast

Cover the pot and cook until the chicken breast falls apart when pricked with a fork, about 50-60 minutes.  Drain the chicken and set aside to cool.  Shred the chicken.

Shred the Chicken Breast
The Chicken Will Shred Easily

In a medium bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients with the shredded chicken breast until well combined.  Fold in the shredded chicken, mixing well.

Mixing the Buffalo Chicken Dip
Mix the Ingredients Well

Cover and chill the dip, allowing the flavors to meld.    When serving hot, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the dip in a small heatproof casserole.  Cook for 20- 30 minutes until bubbly.  Serve with crackers and celery spears.  This dip is yummy when served either hot or chilled.

I've been working on an appetizers Pinterest Board for a while.  I have accumulated more than one hundred links to yummy looking appetizer recipes. Follow me on Pinterest as I curate recipes for you to my boards.

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Shared on Meal Plan Monday.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Morning Glory Muffins

I woke up yesterday at the crack of dawn to a beautiful morning.  The air was still, the sun was rising, and sunlight was breaking through the leaves on the trees in a way that takes your breath away.  Yes, it was a glorious morning, and since I was up I decided to make a batch of Morning Glory Muffins.  I was inspired by the day.

Morning Glory Muffins to Start Your Day

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Morning Glory Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory muffins are chock full of goodness with dried cranberries. carrots, grated apple, coconut, and walnuts.  They are a hearty muffin that will remind you of carrot cake.  This recipe makes twelve hearty muffins, full of "good for you" ingredients.  You'll find them to be moist, not too sweet muffins that are perfect with your morning coffee.

These muffins will freeze well, too.  When they are cool, wrap each muffin individually in plastic wrap and then package them in a zip-top freezer bag for another day. They will be perfect for a grab-and-go breakfast, a snack, or a friend stopping by to for a cup of coffee or tea,
Morning Glory Muffins

Morning Glory Muffins

Makes 12
Making Morning Glory Muffins
Morning Glory Muffin Ingredients
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries, soaked in hot water
  • 1-1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups grated peeled carrots
  • 1 large apple, peeled and grated
  • 1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts 
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup orange juice

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line your muffin tin with cupcake papers and spray the inside of the papers with baking spray.  Soak the cranberries in a small bowl of hot water while you assemble the ingredients.  Mix the flours, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, and salt together in a large bowl.  I love to use this batter bowl when making muffins.  Whisk to combine well.

Grate the carrot and apple with a box grater.  Add the grated carrot, coconut, nuts, apple and drained cranberries to the dry ingredients, stirring well to distribute the dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl mix together the eggs, oil, vanilla and orange juice.  Add the wet mixture to the dry, stirring until mixed and the dry mixture is evenly moistened.  Divide the mixture evenly into the muffin cups.  Each muffin cup should be filled to the top.

Morning Glory muffins in the Pan
Fill the Muffin Cups to the Top

Bake the muffins on the middle rack of your oven for 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Let the muffins cool for five minutes in the pan and then tip them on their side to finish cooling.

Cooling Morning Glory Muffins
Morning Glory Muffins

Serve the muffins warm, or wrap individually for freezing.

Kitchen Essentials

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Four Cheese Ziti Bake

Baked pasta is delicious.  One of my favorite baked pasta casseroles is Baked Ziti.  You can make baked ziti a hundred ways, but today I want to share my four cheese baked ziti recipe.  The four cheeses you'll find in this recipe are ricotta, mozzarella, Parmesan, and Romano. Yum!

Four Cheese Baked Ziti for a Crowd

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Four Cheese Ziti Bake
Four Cheese Ziti Bake

This recipe makes a large ziti bake that will feed a crowd.  That makes this a perfect recipe for potlucks and family gatherings.  If you don't need to feed a crowd, divide the ingredients between two baking dishes.  Bake one for dinner and freeze the other for another day.

Four Cheese Ziti Bake

This is a multiple steps recipe, so to cut down on my time in the kitchen I like to use jarred sauce.  I use two twenty-four ounce jars of my favorite brand.  Trust me, no one will know.  The flavors in this ziti bake blend together beautifully.  Be sure to taste all of your ingredients as you go.  That way you'll know how much additional seasoning you need to add.

The recipe as written will please most people, including the little ones in your life.  If you'd like a little more spice, choose and Italian sausage with a little heat and add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper.

Four Cheese Ziti Bake

Serves Many

Ziti Bake Ready to Bake
Ziti Bake Ready for the Oven
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • one pound ground beef
  • one pound loose Italian sausage (remove casing from sausage links)
  • one large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4-1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • one 16 ounce package ziti
  • 15-ounce container ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup grated Romano cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan Cheese
  • 16 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
  • 2  24-ounce jars of tomato-based pasta sauce, your favorite
  • salt and pepper to taste

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the onion and cook for three to five minutes.  Add the ground beef and sausage to the skillet.  Use a wooden spoon to break the beef and sausage into small pieces. Cook over medium to medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  After a few minutes add the garlic and stir to distribute.  Season with salt and pepper.  Continue cooking until the meats are browned and little bits have begun to stick to the bottom of your pan. Drain.

Tip:  Drain the meat mixture by putting it in a colander set into a pie dish lined with paper towels for easy cleanup.

Draining Cooked Meat in Colander
Drain the Beef and Sausage

Cook the ziti according to the package directions but for one to two minutes less than recommended.  Save one cup of the pasta water before draining.

While the ziti is cooking, mix together the ricotta cheese, eggs, and parsley. Shred the mozzarella cheese with a box grater.

To assemble the ziti bake:  Add the hot pasta to the meat mixture, stir to combine.  Add the ricotta cheese mixture and one jar of the pasta sauce.  If needed, add a little of the reserved pasta water. Stir to combine well.

In a large baking dish, first layer half of the meat mixture, topped with half of the Parmesan cheese, half of the Romano cheese, half of the second jar of sauce and half of the shredded mozzarella cheese.  Repeat, finishing with the mozzarella cheese. 

Bake for 45 minutes in a preheated 350 degrees F oven until bubbly and hot in the center.  I like to cover my ziti bake with parchment paper and then aluminum foil to keep the cheese from browning too much. Remove the foil and parchment paper for the last 15-20 minutes of baking time.

Baked Four Cheese Ziti Bake
Baked Four Cheese Ziti Bake

If you are baking after chilling the ziti bake in the refrigerator, let the ziti bake warm on your counter for at least thirty minutes.  You may need to extend your cooking time.

Kitchen Essentials

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Monday, October 9, 2017

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

If you are a purist when choosing cookies you'll love these iced oatmeal cookies.  These cookies are all about the oatmeal, enhanced by a simple sugar icing.  Eating them might bring back memories of days gone by, after-school milk and cookies, or brown bag lunches.

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Iced Oatmeal Cookies and Tea
Iced Oatmeal Cookies

These iced oatmeal cookies are just as yummy now as they were then.  They are still great with a glass or milk, but I like them with a hot cup of coffee or tea.

There's nothing complicated about making this recipe. Using your food processor to process the oatmeal into a finer texture is as complex as it gets.  I used my small Cuisinart Mini-Prep for that. The cookie batter comes together by hand so no other kitchen tools are required.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies
You'll want to keep these cookies in a sealed container for up to five days or freeze them for later.  They'll keep well in your freezer.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

Printer Friendly Recipe

Makes Three Dozen
  • 2 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
The Icing 
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 3-5 teaspoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Put the oatmeal in the bowl of your food processor and pulse five or six times.  You want the texture of the oats to be a little finer with a few bits of chunkier oats showing.

Oatmeal for Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Oatmeal for Iced Oatmeal Cookies
Place the oatmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl. Whisk to combine.

In a larger bowl, mix the melted butter, sugars, eggs, and vanilla together until well combined.  Add the flour mixture into the butter mixture and stir until the ingredients are well combined.

Using a two tablespoon sized scoop, scoop the cookies onto a greased baking sheet.  Bake for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned.  Cool on the baking sheet for a couple of minutes before removing to finish cooling.

Cool the cookies completely.  In a small bowl, mix together the powdered sugar and vanilla.  Add the milk, one teaspoon at a time until you get the consistency you want for the icing.

Sugar Icing
Sugar Icing

Either dip the whole cookie into the icing to coat the top or place the icing into a zip-top plastic bag.  Snip the corner to pipe the icing onto the cookies. Let the icing dry completely before covering or stacking the cookies.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies Two Ways

Whichever way you decide to ice your cookies, the results will be delicious.  Go for it!

Shared on Meal Plan Monday.

Kitchen Essentials

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