Saturday, March 24, 2012

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Salmon

This post doesn't require a lot of explanation. All I really need to say is this: this is probably my favorite dinner. To say that I love it is an understatement. The glaze is unbelievably good--the perfect mix of sweet, spicy, and tangy. It is fast and easy to throw together but tastes incredible--perfect for company or to mix up the weekly dinner rotation. My favorite way to serve the glaze is over salmon, quinoa and pan-fried spinach (it makes for a super healthy and delicious meal!), but it's also fantastic with chicken, rice, roasted potatoes, veggies, really can't go wrong here.

A few notes:
1. I have made this with cheap $3/bottle balsamic and it turned out great, and I've also made it with more expensive balsamic and it is even better.
2. I definitely recommend using freshly squeezed orange juice, it punches up the flavor and the glaze thickens a little better, but I've also made it with orange juice from a can and it's still good that way too.
3. I usually use skinless salmon fillets, but I've also used skin-on and removed the skin after cooking (after the salmon is cooked the skin slides off really easily--I definitely don't recommend removing the skin before cooking because it is much more difficult to cut off.) I almost always have salmon in the freezer--they sell Wild Alaskan Salmon at Walmart in the freezer section for something like $5/bag. It has 4 individually frozen pieces all shrink-wrapped so you can pull out just what you need. I just thaw the salmon in the sink in warm water for 15ish minutes, remove it from the plastic, dry it, and cook it. It's super convenient!
4. I usually only cook 2-3 pieces of salmon because that's all we need for a meal, but I make the full amount of glaze so we have extra to drizzle over our quinoa/rice/veggies/etc.

I hope that you enjoy this as much as we do!

Honey-Balsamic Glazed Salmon
from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook

4 (6 ounce) boneless salmon fillets
salt and pepper
olive oil cooking spray
1/4 cup fresh-squeezed orange juice
1 tsp. orange zest
3 Tb. balsamic vinegar
2 Tb. honey
1 Tb. white vinegar
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp. dried rosemary (or 1/4 tsp. fresh, removed from stem, finely chopped)

1. Dry salmon completely with paper towels and salt and pepper to taste. Heat skillet over medium-high heat. Spray with cooking spray, then add salmon fillets. Cook for 4-5 minutes per side, or until browned and cooked through (fish should easily flake apart when poked). Remove from pan and cover with foil to keep warm.
2. Wipe out skillet with paper towels. Stir remaining ingredients together and pour into skillet. Simmer over medium heat until reduced (it should be slightly thickened and syrupy), 3-5 minutes. Add salmon back to skillet and flip to coat well. Serve salmon over quinoa or rice and drizzle with remaining glaze. Good luck not licking the plate after :)

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Kneader's Mint Brownies

Mint + Chocolate is one of my favorite combinations. Peppermint Oreos. Andes Mints. Chocolate mint truffles. BYU mint brownies. Mint chocolate chip ice cream. But my absolute favorite of all is Kneader's chocolate chunk mint brownies. I could literally eat them every day and be absolutely happy (and, unfortunately, very fat). A couple of weeks ago I was at Kneader's and the line was ridiculously long and I had two fussy kids so I didn't end up getting my brownie. I couldn't stop thinking about that brownie, and was craving it all week long, so I decided to consult my good friend google to see if I could find a recipe and make some at home. I came across this recipe and decided to make it. Best. Idea. Ever. These are every bit as delicious as the ones they sell, and now having the ability to make them myself is dangerous knowledge. Deliciously dangerous knowledge.

I think that these are best a day or two after making them (the brownie layer sets up just right so they're not quite so fudgy), so they are the perfect make-ahead treat!

Kneader's Mint Brownies 
barely adapted from Girls with Recipes

Brownie Layer:
1 cup butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate
2 cups sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
4 eggs
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (I have used less than this, about 2/3 cup, and thought they still turned out just as good)

Frosting Layer:
1/2 cup butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
2-4 Tb. milk (as needed until frosting reaches desired consistency)
1 - 1 1/2 tsp. peppermint or mint extract (use 1 tsp. for less minty brownies or 1 1/2 tsp. for more minty ones. They do peppermint ones at Christmas time and mint ones the rest of the year.)
2 drops green or red food coloring (red for peppermint or green for mint)

Chocolate Ganache:
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/4 cup heavy cream (or butter if you don't have cream on hand)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 9 x 13 baking pan with parchment paper or foil. Spray with non-stick spray. Melt chocolate and butter in microwave on high for 2-3 minutes, stirring every 30 seconds, until completely melted. Add sugar, eggs, and vanilla. Mix until completely combined. Gently fold in flour and salt until just combined. Fold in chocolate chips. Bake 25 - 30 minutes (do not overcook). Cool completely.
2. When brownie layer is completely cooled, prepare mint frosting. Beat all ingredients together with mixer until light and fluffy, adding milk as needed to reach desired consistency. Using an offset spatula, spread over cooled brownies (make sure you spread it evenly so the top ganache layer will work right). Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Make ganache layer by heating cream and chocolate chips in microwave for 30 seconds, then stir completely until totally melted and combined (microwave for up to 30 more seconds if needed). Cool slightly, then spread evenly over mint layer. Do not refrigerate, ganache will set up within about an hour.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Key Lime Pie

This is easily the best key lime pie I've ever had, and it is also the easiest! I made it for Christmas and have been waiting for Pi Day to make it again (March 14th = 3.14 = pi for those of you that might not be math nerds like me). It was definitely worth the wait and I'm glad that I had lots of other people there to eat it with me so I didn't eat the whole thing myself! I only got one picture of the pie because it disappeared so quickly...and in a room full of pies, that's saying something!

A quick note: the first time I made this I used fat free sweetened condensed milk and low-fat sour cream. It tasted great, but the textured was just a little grainy. This time I used full-fat milk and sour cream and it was perfectly smooth and creamy. Either way will work, you just have to decide whether you want to sacrifice the texture to save some calories!

Key Lime Pie
adapted from Allrecipes

8" prepared graham cracker crust (I always buy Honeymaid brand because it's the only one I've found that doesn't have trans fat)
2 cups sweetened condensed milk (about 1 1/2 cans)
1/2 cup key lime juice (I used bottled, Nellie and Joe's Brand is the best!)
1/3 cup sour cream

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together milk, lime juice, and sour cream in large bowl until smooth. Pour into prepared crust and bake for 5-8 minutes, until tiny pinholes form on the top of the pie. Cool completely and garnish with whipped cream and lime slices.
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