Citrus Salmon with Asian Cucumber and Carrot Salad

I love salmon. I probably make it at least once a week, as it’s an easy, healthy meal that doesn’t involve too much prep work. And, I know some of you will make fun of me for my Costco obsession, but you can get a ton of wild caught Alaskan salmon for such a great price there, so I always have a frozen filet in the freezer. Yay Costco and don’t hate people. Its not worth it. My love for Costco will never die.

The main problem is, I’m pretty limited when it comes to cooking the salmon. I usually season it with some salt and pepper or maybe some specialized fish seasoning if I’m getting crazy, but that’s it. I am not creative. I do not open my kitchen cabinets and think, “oh, I’ll add a smidge of that and a dash of that” and then voila, I have a beautiful meal. It’s just not how I roll. Maybe one day, but not today.

Anyway, last night I decided I needed to break free from my salmon rut, so I did a little research, and came up with a modified version of a citrus salmon I found online. To go with that, I decided to do a cold Asian-inspired cucumber and carrot salad. Once I had it all on the plate I realized that the meal was a bit, I dunno, ORANGE. But you know, it was pretty delish. It reminded me that spring is on it’s way, and soon enough we’ll be tons of bright citrus and fresh greens and I CANNOT WAIT!

So, without further ado, my citrus salmon and Asian Cucumber and Carrot Salad, both adapted from MyRecipes.com. Try them.

salmon

salad

Citrus Salmon:

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

The juice from 1-2 oranges

1/4 cup light soy sauce

2 Tablespoons rice vineagar

1 garlic clove, chopped.

Mix all ingredients together and marinate salmon for at least 60 minutes. Cook on 500 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until fish flakes.

Asian Cucumber and Carrot Salad

1/4 cup lite soy sauce

1/4 rice vinegar (plus a dash more if you like it vinegar-y like I do)

1 tablespoon dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons sugar

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3 chopped seeded cucumbers

8 0z. matchstick carrots (I bought these pre-chopped = lazy)

Whisk the first six ingredients together. Toss in cucumber and carrots. Top with a sprinkle of sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Taking Some Down Time

I am watching Paula Deen doing a “Fried Christmas” meal right now.

Seriously. Fried Christmas.

Oh Paula. If I was her husband I’d be sneaking spinach salads every day. She’s pretty much trying to kill everyone she loves. This meal includes a full-on fried ham, loaded mashed-potatoes, fried asparagus with cream sauce, and red velvet bread pudding.

Holy Lord.

courtestypauladeen

This in-between-holidays period is kind of a dead time for cooking for me. John has been/will be out of town for two weeks in December, and when he’s gone, I stick to easy meals like opening up a can of soup. In fact, I’m probably keeping Amy’s black bean chili on the shelves. I love that stuff.

I guess I’m just resting my culinary muscles for the big things, the pies, the casseroles, etc. Oh and for those of you wondering, the chocolate hazelnut pie for Thanksgiving was a huge hit. Will be my new pie for sure. Anyway, yeah. Just resting the culinary muscles. Gotta be well-rested if I’m going to attempt to another pie this month. Two pies in the span of two months. Wow. Makes my stirring arm hurt just thinking about it.

It’s not that I even have that much cooking to do for the holidays, because mostly the older generations in my family still own those duties. I think it’s just the idea of the holidays that exhaust me. Don’t get me wrong, I love it, but the decorating, the list-making, the cooking, the dressing up, the parties, the mad dash to the mall, it’s all just sort of exhausting. It’s like every meal, every night and weekend, are scheduled down to the last minute. And for a girl who hates making plans in advance, it can really put a cramp in my down-time.

So tonight, because I can, I guess you’ll find my curled up on the couch, watching Paula Deen fry a ham, and eating a cup of black bean chili. This is what the holidays are all about people.

Branching Out

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to cooking dinner, I tend to get in a rut. I stick to the same salad, or turkey burgers, or salmon, or chili that I know and love, and I don’t often get out of my comfort zone. I do like having a repertoire of dishes that I can come back to day after day and week after week. I know I can trust these dishes, that they won’t let me down. They’re easy to make, they’re healthy and best of all, they taste great. Well, they do the trick, and that’s what counts.

Sometimes though, it’s just time to try something new. Time to throw the pasta out with the bath pasta water and move on. So yesterday, while shopping at Whole Foods all hopped up on a cappuccino and an exploratory spirit, I decided to really throw caution to the wind. Screw those boring tacos I had planned for dinner. I was going to branch out. I was going to attempt something wildly new, something so different, something truly phenomenal. No, I wasn’t going to attempt to Master the Art of French Cooking.

I was going to try to make a curry.

An Indian curry to be exact, using a spice packet that had really already done all of the work for me. The thing is, I like Indian food, but actually cooking it myself has always seemed completely out of my range. All of those spices and sauces and exotic ingredients have the ability to intimidate a relatively boring cook such as myself. But when I saw the Kitchens of India Chicken Curry paste I thought what the hell, it was worth a try.

courtestykitchensofindia

It turned out to be a piece of cake. Cut up some chicken breasts, mix the spice packet with a cup of water, and simmer for 25 minutes. Serve with whole wheat naan and some sauteed spinach (makeshift saag I guess) for a healthy, delicious dinner. John and I both loved it so I think we’ll definitely be trying this one again. And now that I know Indian food doesn’t always have to be so difficult, maybe one day I’ll even move out of pre-packaged spice range. For now now though, this little cook is stretching herself, and that in and of itself is a good thing.

Dinner tonight? The options are endless… Thai, Brazilian, Nepali? Or maybe I’ll just stick to an omelet. Even Julia Child loved those

Candied Walnuts

These candied walnuts are perfect for a nice fall salad, crushed on top of oatmeal, or even just as a simple afternoon snack with a cup of tea.

You’ll need:

1 cup of walnuts (almonds and cashews are also nice)

3TB sugar

1.5 TB water

Salt and Pepper to taste

ingredients

First, mix the water and sugar in a pan and bring to a boil.

watersugar

boil

Then, stir in the walnuts and coat with the mixture. Stir continually.

coat

Once the mixture has mostly been absorbed (probably 3-4 minutes) remove walnuts from pan and lay on foil to cool.

final

Yum! We had these tonight with a spinach salad with roasted chicken, butternut squash, and apples. It was delish.

salad