Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Recipe: Scrumptious Simple Salmon

I have fallen a bit behind in my new recipe posts. I might need to start doubling up and do two a week to catch up! The goal is to have 52 new recipes by the end of the year, and here is number six...

Scrumptious Simple Salmon


2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp dried basil
1 tsp salt
1/2lb of salmon
2 tablespoons butter
1/2 lemon, divided*
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
1/4 cup cream
2 tbsp grated Parmesan
    *How do you divide a lemon, you ask? You're gonna need half a lemon; cut a few thin slices out of it for garnish for your salmon and save the rest to juice for the orzo.

    In a small saucepan, boil orzo pasta in water until al dente (about 9 minutes). Drain water, add cream and squeeze the lemon juice in and stir. Turn heat down to low and add Parmesan and a pinch of basil. Cover and simmer until ready to serve.

    In the meantime, stir together the remaining basil, garlic powder, and salt in a small bowl. Rub evenly all over the salmon filets.

    Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the salmon and cook until lightly browned and flaky, about 5 minutes per side. Serve each piece of salmon with a lemon wedge on top and pasta on the side.(I actually placed a big spoonful of pasta in the middle of the plate and laid the salmon right on top to look more fancy ;) )

    Tuesday, February 14, 2012

    DIY: Stenciled pillow covers.

    Our home is FULL of beige and brown, and I'm finally getting sick of the blah. I am trying to find small, inexpensive ways to add color throughout the house. One super easy way to do that is with throw pillows! I really just needed to cover the drab pillows we already had, so I decided to make pillow covers. I purchased a light-weight, creamy colored fabric for $3/yd, a large bottle of acrylic paint for $1.65, 3 sheets of stencil "paper" for $3, and I already had the roller and sewing machine. So in total to make two rockin' throw pillows, I paid about $8. I say that's a pretty good deal! Not to mention having paint and stencil paper to spare. Plus it always feels nice to be able to say "I made that". 
    If you want to make your own awesome throw pillows, here's how:


    1. Find yourself a neutral colored fabric and a paint color you like. You can purchase stencils of all sorts online or at any craft store, but stencils can be a bit pricey and you may not find the design you are looking for. I decided to make my own using a sheet of stencil paper and an Xacto knife.

    2. Lay your fabric out onto a clean solid surface. You may want to lay down newspaper or cardboard underneath to catch any paint that soaks through. Place your stencil onto the pillow in your desired position. I chose to do a repeating pattern so I placed my stencil at the top left corner of the fabric, painted, then moved it over making sure to line it up right as I went. You can also use tape to hold the stencil in place as you paint. I would suggest waiting a minute or two to let the paint dry slightly before moving the stencil.

    3. Once your fabric is painted and dried completely, you can begin to sew it into a pillow! Sewing an envelope pillow cover is very easy but I'm not sure that I could explain it properly, so if you're not sure about that part I suggest this video.

    Now that I've made my first set of pillows, I'm already rummaging through my fabric stash for more fun pillow ideas. I made the blue flower pillow covers from an inexpensive patterned fabric I had on hand. At this rate, my couch will be covered in no time!

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    Quick & Tasty lunches

    These are two very simple and delicious lunches that aren't terribly bad for your health, either (or that's what I tell myself anyway!)

    #1: Avocado & Tomato on French Bread


    Tomato, sliced
    Salt & pepper, to taste
    Olive oil
    Shredded mozzarella
    Fresh lemon or lemon juice
    French bread or baguette

    I didn't list measurements because I don't typically measure meals like this. I just simply poured some olive oil into a cup and sprinkled in a few shakes of sea salt and pepper, then brushed both sides of a slice of French bread and grilled it on the electric griddle. I mixed half of an avocado with a pinch more salt and a few squirts of lemon juice, then spread the avocado mixture onto the slice of grilled French bread, sprinkled with Mozzarella cheese and topped with a slice of tomato. YUMM!

    I spotted this delicious "Simple Lunch" here by Joy the Baker. I only did a few things differently when I made mine (grilled the bread, added cheese and tomato) but I am willing to bet that it's delicious her way too!

    #2: Chicken Salad with Tarragon


    1 boneless skinless chicken breast, cooked & shredded
    1 stalk celery, finely chopped*
    2 tbsp dried cranberries*
    2 tbsp chopped pecans*
    1 tsp lemon juice
    3 tbsp mayonnaise*
    1 tsp dried tarragon*

    * All of these are "to taste"-- some may like more mayo or less, more celery or less, so just make it to your own liking!

    Mix all ingredients together and (if you have the time) let sit in the refrigerator in an air tight container for at least an hour to allow the flavors to meld. I like to eat this chicken salad best on a croissant or crackers.

    This is one of my top two favorite chicken salad recipes (I'll post my other fave another day). I found it a while back at Simply Recipes and I think what I like most is that it's simple to make and always tasty. Chicken salad is a regular a go-to for me but my mood usually decides what type of chicken salad I want that day. This one never fails to please my taste buds!

    Sunday, February 5, 2012

    Recipe: Corn Chowder with Chicken & Bacon

    My favorite thing to happen is when I decide to whip something up on a whim, not really knowing what to expect, and it turns out surprisingly delicious. That was exactly the case with this week's new recipe! I was in a warm & hearty soup kind of mood, and I didn't want to have to go to the grocery... So I started rummaging through the pantry and fridge to see what I had on hand. I've eaten some tasty chowders (clam chowder is my favorite), but never corn chowder. So what the hey? I thought corn chowder sounded pretty good for a Sunday dinner... And it was!

    Corn Chowder with Chicken & Bacon


    1 small onion, chopped
    1 stalk celery, chopped
    3-4 slices of bacon
    1 large potato
    1 boneless skinless chicken breast
    1 small can of creamed corn (8.5oz)
    1 small can of sweet corn (8.5oz), drained
    1 can of chicken broth (14oz)
    1 half-pint of heavy cream
    1/4 tsp salt
    1/4 tsp pepper
    2 tbsp butter or margarine
    3 tbsp flour 
    1 tbsp cooking oil 

    Start a pot of boiling water on the stove. Peel and chop potato into bit sized pieces and add to the boiling water. While potato is cooking, place chicken breast in a skillet with the cooking oil, cover and cook on medium heat until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes on each side. Set chicken aside to cool.

    In a large saucepan, fry 3-4 slices of bacon over medium heat. Remove bacon once crispy and set aside.  Do not drain grease from the saucepan.

    Chop onion and celery and add to the bacon grease in the saucepan. Cook and stir until tender. Add butter and flour; mix until flour is dissolved. 
    Add heavy cream to saucepan and stir well. Mix in the can of creamed corn, the drained sweet corn, the chicken broth, and salt & pepper. Heat on med until boiling. Reduce heat to low.
    Shred the chicken breast, crumble the bacon, and drain the pot of chopped potatoes. Add all of these to the soup in the saucepan, cover and simmer for about 15 more minutes. Serve with warm rolls and enjoy!

    Note: I personally like my chowder on the thicker side, but if you feel it's too thick just add a little milk until it reaches your desired consistency. :)

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