Surprisingly delicious: Salmon Caesar Salad

This week brought the sickies to our house. On Monday, the 4 year old came down with a bug. Of course this happened right when I planned to hit the grocery store…so we had scrap the meal plans and make do with whatever ingredients were already on hand. Would you believe, that is what produced this share-worthy recipe!

Original Plan:
Balsamic glazed salmon with a side of pasta alfredo or potatoes, and a tossed salad.

Plan B:
Whip up a protein-rich salad, served with hunks of homemade whole wheat French bread on the side.

Ingredients on hand:
4 frozen salmon fillets, a partial bag of romaine lettuce, box of baby arugula, 2 partial lemons, 2 avocados, a tomato, croutons, garlic, a hunk of parmesano reggiano cheese, a tube of anchovy paste, 2 eggs, dijon mustard, olive and vegetable oil, salt and pepper.

How it came together:
First, I scoured Pinterest for salmon salad recipes. I found quite a few that employed avocado and arugula, so then it was time to choose a salad dressing. I could’ve gone with a light Caesar-style vinaigrette or even just a lemon/oil dressing, but since this was going to be a main course salad, I wanted to give it a bit more heft. The egg yolks did precisely that. I went with the method on Bon Appetit to make my dressing – except I used a squirt of anchovy paste instead of whole anchovies. Thank goodness I happened to have that stuff in the fridge, and it was still good! I made the dressing in the morning so it would have plenty of time for the flavors to develop.

classic-caesar-salad-940
photo courtesy of Bon Appetit

In the afternoon, I made my French bread. I let it rise too long on the second rise, so it ended up falling…OOPS! But it was still pretty good dipped in olive oil. It tasted like a cross between French and focaccia.

Just prior to dinnertime, I took my thawed-out salmon fillets and patted them completely dry with paper towels. Do not skip this step. Throwing a soggy piece of fish in the frying pan will make you and your dinner companions feel soggy and dissatisfied too. Then, I seasoned it up with plenty of fresh ground salt and pepper. I drizzled a healthy glug of olive oil into the hot pan, and added the salmon. It cooked about 4 minutes on the first side, then only another minute or two after flipping. Near the end, I added the last bit of lemon juice that was leftover from making the salad dressing.

While the salmon sizzled away, I threw a mixture of torn up romaine and baby arugula into each bowl, then topped it off with diced avocado – about 1/3 an avocado per bowl. I added sliced tomatoes around the edge – yeah, I know, Caesar is no place for tomato! But in my hubby’s world, a salad’s not a salad without a tomato. I skipped them for myself but gave plenty to the guys. Then I shaved some additional parmesan on top, and drizzled a little dressing. As soon as the salmon was done, I served it atop the salads, drizzled more dressing, and threw croutons around the edge.

The result:
WOW! I really didn’t expect to enjoy this dish that much. I’m not a seafood lover, so usually when I cook with salmon I make sure to include plenty of yummy sides so I’ll have other flavors to balance it out. But, surprisingly (hence the title), this salmon just married itself to the pile of yummy greens and heavenly dressing! It didn’t taste “fishy” at all. The protein gave this salad just enough bulk to be a main course. It was full of good fats, too – avocado, omega-3s in the fish, olive oil, and the egg yolks. It got a thumbs-up from everyone at my dinner table – even the kiddos! I know most kids aren’t as open to trying new foods, but I was thrilled to see my little foodies devour this experimental dinner!

My apologies for the lack of photographic evidence…we devoured this meal too quickly to snap any pics! But next time, and mark my words there *will* be a next time, I will be to update this post with a visual aid. Until then, I hope you’ll try it and enjoy it as much as we did!

In His abundance,
Monique

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Hey, I’m on Etsy!

I’m not really one for New Year’s resolutions, but as you can probably tell, I’m making a concerted effort to kick off this year with more consistent blog posts. That said, it’s time to do a little catching up.

In 2014, I sensed God leading me to launch a creative fundraising effort to aid my dear friend in bringing clean water, medical services, and education to rural Ethiopia. Enter CuppaLove Cupcakes for Ethiopia. God has blessed this little calling abundantly! I’ve been able to bake thousands of delicious treats for people all over my local community, which has given me a fun creative outlet, provided others with high-quality confections at a competitive price, AND helped bring life-giving relief to an impoverished community across the world!

CuppaLove is still going strong, and in 2015 the Lord put another endeavor on my heart. This time, my boys got to be involved too. It started with a homeschool project, making homemade playdough. We had just moved from summer into the cooler, cozier days of Fall, and I felt an urge to give our playdough a little added seasonal flair. So, we tinted it orange and added essential oils – orange, cinnamon and clove. Delightful!! We could not stop playing with it. We shared some with friends, and then quickly got to thinking how many other scents we could try.

Realizing this project was marketable, and could reach way beyond our local community, the boys and I whipped up a dozen scent varieties, and then launched our online shop, HappyDough!  Through it we’ve been able to raise even more funds for the latest project, a much-needed high school building…and the awesome thing is we can ship it anywhere in the USA! I hope you’ll visit our shop and check out what we have to offer. All proceeds are donated to the relief project, and once you try HappyDough you’ll never want the storebought stuff again!

Here’s our current scent lineup:
P1180290CinnamonP1180284
TangerineP1180301
Spiced OrangeP1180256
Lemonlime
Limecold and flu
Cold & Flu RemedyP1180323
SootheP1180501
LavenderP1180317
Chocolate MintP1180327
Gingerbreadrose.png
RoseP1180277
VanillaP1180258
Candy Cane

And Coming soon…
Fennel
Ginger (gold sparkle!)
and HappyDough toolkits, complete with rollers, cutters, and all sorts of fun accessories for hours of building fun!

Project FAIL: Coconut flour anything

P1180560

Most people consider me to be a pretty proficient baker. I’ve experimented with recipes ever since my mother allowed me to invade her neat-as-a-pin kitchen. I’ll never forget the time mom gave me the job of stirring a bowlful of ingredients. It was a stainless steel bowl on a laminate countertop. You know what happens when you get to stirring that thing super-duper-fast? The bowl spins! Fun! And the food spins! NOT FUN! Centripetal force took over and we had creamed corn splattered all the way to the family room. Whoops.

Or the time I took a take-n-bake pizza out of the freezer, sans-cardboard pan, and baked it. About 10 minutes in, it started to smell. Like pizza…but also like burning. Yep, oozing gobs of pizza dough/cheese/sauce were dropping through the oven grates onto the hot coil below. Did I mention mom had just cleaned the oven? Sorry mom.

But since those formative experiences, I’ve been a pretty successful cook. I’ve baked all my kids’ birthday cakes, a few wedding cakes, and thousands of cupcakes to raise funds for my favorite charity. I’ve perfected gluten-free, egg-free, and even dairy-free cake recipes to the point that NO ONE believes they aren’t “the real thing.” I can convert any recipe to a heart-healthy version for my husband, who is on a restricted diet. People consistently come to me for recipe advice.

Enter coconut flour. I have met my mortal enemy. Why, oh why did I ever purchase this evil substance?

Here’s how it started. My dad is type-2 diabetic. He’s been borderline for a couple years, never needed an insulin pump, but it’s getting worse now so he is being more careful. I wanted to make him some diet-friendly treats for Christmas, but I also wanted to avoid artificial sweeteners. So I scoured Pinterest and Google for healthy, diabetic-friendly, natural recipes. I found one for peanut brittle – one of his favorites! It was a raging success. All natural, low-glycemic, and delicious. Happy daddy. The other was grain-free shortbread, made with coconut flour. Looked good! Sounded good! Tasted NOT GOOD. You know you’ve failed when your dish is compared to paste, wet cement, Mockolate (oh how I miss Friends), and rat poison. No, I’m not kidding. It was THAT awful.

The first bite was…okay. The flavor is pretty good. I used real butter, which is a must for shortbread. Then you try to chew it. It doesn’t chew. It forms this wretched sandy paste in your mouth and you can’t swallow. You’re like that poor dog trying to lick the peanut butter spoon in the Got Milk commercial. After that, you’re running to the fridge for a drink, spitting in the sink, and/or laughing hysterically at your ridiculous tongue-smacking. No one wants another bite. Not even my 4 year old, and he likes Stinky Socks trick jelly beans. So, there you have it. Shortbread that makes you want to eat dirty socks.

Don’t make this recipe. But please, for the love of all that is grain-free, will someone PLEASE tell me how to properly use coconut flour? Because I have about a cup left, and I’m deciding whether to throw it out or bake more shortbread to leave on the doorstep for as payback to whomever stole our Christmas packages last week. Bwa-ha-ha-ha…

THE RECIPE – from The Pink Sprinkle
6 TBS coconut flour
4 TBS butter, melted
1-2 TBS honey
1/4 tsp almond extract or vanilla (I used almond)

METHOD
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix all ingredients together until it is the consistency of a thick paste.
Shape into balls and place on a lined baking sheet. Press down on the tops gently (VERY gently – they crumble to bits when you look at them sideways!) with a fork.
Bake for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned on the bottom.
Let cool completely on the pan or they will crumble (they crumble no matter where you cool them!)If you’re going to attempt to consume these, keep a gallon of milk and plenty of napkins right there on the counter. Because you’ll be spitting gobs of cookie paste into the napkins, and washing away whatever remains with the milk.

Then, go make some fabulous, healthy peanut brittle instead!

Of course, I had to go and use the coconut flour in half of the Christmas dessert, peach cobbler, too. It refused, utterly refused to be crust – instead, infiltrated the poor innocent fruit below, and made a weird, glue-y, pasty, stringy glob of yuck. Just say NO. To coconut flour. The end.

In His humility! 🙂
~Monique