Thursday, October 26, 2023

ChezCindy: Spice Rubbed Salmon with Honey Roasted Vegetables


This lovely salmon dinner comes together in less than 30 minutes and has minimal cleanup.  A dish elegant enough for company or for a weekday family dinner.  How great is that?  

The spice rub is a delicious compliment to the salmon, but the real star is the drizzle of honey over the fish and the vegetables at the completion of cooking.  Don't skimp on the full amount of honey called for in the recipe or it just won't have the same pizzaz.  The vegetables can be switched up, with the photo showing carrots and asparagus.  I have also used cut zucchini or Brussels sprouts cut in half or quarters, along with the carrots.  It is key to cut the vegetables as noted in the recipe so that the salmon and the vegetables cook in the same amount of time.  

Spice Rubbed Salmon with Honey Roasted Vegetables
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 6-ounce portions of salmon
2 small zucchini (cut into 1-inch pieces) or 1/2-pound asparagus (cut into 2-inch pieces)
2 medium carrots, peeled, thinly cut into 1/4-inch rounds
1 large clove garlic, minced
5 teaspoons honey

Spice Rub for the Salmon
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano

Serves 4

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.  Prepare a large sheet pan with sides by lining it with foil.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the foil, rubbing it evenly to distribute the oil.  Set aside.

Make the spice rub for the salmon by combining the salt, smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, dry mustard, and oregano in a small bowl.  Stir to combine.  Set aside.

Place the portions of salmon, skin-side down, onto the center of the prepared sheet pan, leaving space between each piece, about 1/2 inch apart.  Drizzle 1 tablespoon of oil over the salmon pieces.  Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of the spice rub over each piece of salmon. 

Prepare the vegetables as noted in the ingredient list.  It is important to cut the vegetables as described so that they cook in the same amount of time as the salmon.  Place the cut vegetables, the minced garlic, and 1 teaspoon of the spice rub into a large bowl.  Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the vegetables, stirring to combine.  Arrange the vegetables around the salmon, but not covering the salmon.  

Place the sheet pan with the salmon and vegetables into the hot oven on the bottom rack, roasting for 15-18 minutes, depending on the thickness of the salmon.  The internal temperature of the salmon should be 125 degrees or feel firm to the touch.  Remove the pan from the oven.  Drizzle the honey over the salmon and the vegetables.  Serve hot.  

Thursday, October 12, 2023

ChezCindy: White Chocolate Oreo Truffles


One bite of these White Chocolate Oreo Truffles and all I could manage to say was "wow".  I was speechless and a bit surprised.  I'm not a big fan of white chocolate as it is too sweet for me.  The overall flavor of the truffle achieved from the use of the crushed Oreo cookies, cream cheese, plus a bit of sea salt yielded the perfect bite.  

The recipe is adapted from Jessie Sheehan's Snackable Bakes cookbook.  I have referenced Ms. Sheehan's book in a previous post for the most wonderful peach and vanilla muffins.  Her book is full of so many recipe gems for quick and delicious baking.  Highly recommended.  

The recipe is quite simple and fun to make.  Kids and young bakers will have an easy time creating the truffles.  With minimal finesse, the truffle treats can step in for an impressive make-ahead dessert.  

White Chocolate Oreo Truffles
4 ounces Philadelphia cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
18 Oreo cookies
2 cups white chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Makes about 20 truffles

Place a large sheet of parchment paper onto a large sheet pan.  Set aside.

Add the cream cheese, salt, and vanilla in a large bowl, using a fork, mix together.  Place the cookies into a resealable plastic bag, zip to close.  Cover the bag containing the cookies with a dish towel.  Crush the cookies with a rolling pin until fine crumbs form.  Remove 2 tablespoons of crumbs, setting aside in a small bowl to save for decorating the top of the truffles.  Transfer the remaining cookie crumbs to the bowl with the cream cheese mixture.  Use a rubber spatula to thoroughly combine the crumbs with the cream cheese mixture.  

Use a tablespoon measure to scoop out 1 tablespoon of the cookie mixture.  Use your hands to form into balls.  Place the truffle balls on the prepared sheet pan.  Refrigerate for 20-30 minutes until chilled and firm.

While the truffle balls are chilling, melt the white chocolate and the oil in a heat-proof bowl set over a pan of simmering water (a double boiler), stirring with a rubber spatula to combine.  Carefully remove the bowl of melted chocolate from the pan, setting onto a towel on the counter.  

Drop each chilled truffle ball, one at a time, into the melted chocolate.  Use a fork to coat and to lift the truffle allowing the excess chocolate to drip back into the bowl.  It is helpful to drag the coated truffle along the rim of the bowl to remove some of the excess chocolate.  Place the dipped truffle onto the sheet pan, immediately sprinkling a few crumbs of the reserved cookie crumbs over the truffle.  Repeat with each truffle ball.  Rewarm the white chocolate if it starts to harden while dipping the truffle balls.

Serve the truffles at room temperature.  Keep the remaining truffles in an airtight container in the refrigerator, bringing to room temperature to enjoy.  

Monday, September 25, 2023

ChezCindy: Double Chocolate Kisses & Hugs Cookies


Peanut Butter Blossom cookies were the inspiration for these Double Chocolate Kisses & Hugs cookies.  I wanted to develop a cookie that featured the white chocolate/milk chocolate candy, named by Hershey's as Hugs.  The chocolate cookie dough is one I use during the December Holidays, sprinkling the top with crushed candy canes.  The cookie dough worked perfectly to snuggle in the Hershey's candy for a sweet treat, delicious any time of the year.  

Double Chocolate Kisses & Hugs Cookies
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup butter-flavored Crisco shortening
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla 

1 15.6-ounce bag of Hershey's Kisses & Hugs candy

Makes about 50 small cookies 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Have ready 2 large cookie baking trays, or 3 small, lined with parchment paper.  Set aside.

Working with a medium mixing bowl, add in the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt, gently stirring to combine.  Set aside.

Working with the bowl of a stand-mixer or using a large mixing bowl and an electric hand-mixer, add in the shortening and brown sugar, mixing together to combine until creamy.  Add in the eggs, one at a time, mixing until just combined.  Mix in the vanilla.  Turn the mixer off, add in the flour.  Starting slowly, mix the ingredients to combine until they just come together, not to overmix.  Allow the cookie dough to rest on the counter for 20 minutes.  While the dough is resting, remove the foil cover from 50 of the Kisses & Hugs candy.  Set aside.  

Using a tablespoon or a small spring-loaded scooper, scoop out the cookie dough, placing the cookie ball onto the cookie baking tray.  Place the cookies into the preheated oven, baking for 8 minutes.  Remove the cookie sheet from the oven.  Working quickly but carefully, place one chocolate candy into the center of each cookie.  Leave the cookies on the sheet pan for 1 minute.  Then, slide the parchment paper with the cookies onto the counter to finish cooling.  

Friday, September 8, 2023

ChezCindy: Chicken Parmesan Cheeseburgers


If you are looking for a dinner that is delicious, fun, and just a bit indulgent, try this Chicken Parmesan Cheeseburger on Focaccia.  Classic Chicken Parm is usually a breaded chicken cutlet served with Italian red sauce and a blend of melted mozzarella, a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese, often served with spaghetti.  Delicicious in all ways.  In this recipe, I use ground chicken, Italian seasoning and cheeses to make and Italian Cheeseburger!   

Italian Chicken Parmesan Cheeseburgers
12 ounces ground chicken
1/4 cup grated zucchini, excess liquid squeezed out 
1 tablespoon grated onion
1 large garlic clove, finely minced
1 heavy tablespoon marinara sauce
1 tablespoon fresh grated Parmesan cheese 
1 tablespoon chopped parsley   
1 teaspoon kosher salt
small pinch of black pepper or red pepper flakes

Burger Topping 
1/4 cup marina sauce, divided
3/4 cup fresh grated Fontina cheese
2 tablespoons fresh grated Pecorino cheese, or Parmesan
Fresh basil, torn into small pieces 

Toasted Focaccia Bread as buns, cut into 4-inch squares

Makes 2 burgers, recipe can be doubled

Place the burger ingredients into a medium size bowl.  Using a fork, toss all the ingredients together until well combined.  Divide the mixture into 2 equal parts forming into large flat patties, placing each patty onto a small square of wax paper or parchment paper.  The mixture will be quite sticky and moist.  The paper squares will help to transfer the burgers to the pan for cooking.  

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 tablespoon of oil to the skillet to heat for 1 minute.  Pick up one burger and the paper, placing the burger meat-side down, peeling off the paper once the burger is in the pan.  Repeat with the second burger.  Cook on side one for 6-7 minutes until this side is well browned.  Flip the burgers to cook side two, cooking for 2-3 minutes.  Add 2 tablespoons of marina sauce to the top of each burger.  Generously top each burger with the shredded cheese, cover the pan with a lid to melt the cheese and to finish the cook time on the burgers, another 2 minutes.  The burgers should read as 160 for the internal temperature.  

Meanwhile, toast the focaccia squares to have waiting and ready for the cheeseburgers.  Place burgers onto the focaccia buns, sprinkling with the torn basil.  Serve with additional marina sauce on the side if desired.  

Monday, August 28, 2023

ChezCindy: Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa


This Strawberry Salsa came from the need to use up extra fruit I had left over from a cake I made over the weekend.  I did not want to make another sweet treat but was puzzled in how strawberries could be used in a savory dish.  A quick search of the internet pulled back numerous recipes for strawberry salsa, which was new to me.  The ingredients are much the same as the standard tomato salsa.  However, this fruit salsa is lighter and seems more fresh tasting.  There is a hint of sweetness from the berries, and a back-note of heat from the jalapeno pepper.  The key to this balance is to finely mince the pepper and onion.  I served it simply with tortilla chips.  I also think it would be delightful spooned over grilled chicken or pork. 

Strawberry Jalapeno Salsa 
1 1/2 cups strawberries, hulled and cut into small dice
1/4 cup finely diced red onion
1-2 tablespoons finely diced fresh jalapeno pepper, depending upon heat preference
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh basil
1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lime or lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Prepare all ingredients as instructed.  Combine the ingredients in a small mixing bowl.  Allow to sit at room temperature for 15 minutes.  Serve with tortilla chips or with a cheese and charcuterie board.  
Salsa is best when served same day as made.  

Thursday, August 24, 2023

ChezCindy: Cauliflower Steaks Parmesan-Style


If you are looking for an alternative to Chicken Parmesan, or simply enjoy cauliflower, this recipe might be perfect for you.  My recipe swaps out the chicken replacing it with cauliflower steaks.  The steaks are grilled and are not breaded and fried as a traditional chicken parm.  Each grilled steak is topped with a mix of Italian melting cheese and a drizzle of marinara sauce.  I spiced my sauce with a bit of Calabrian chilies to add a zip to the final dish.  

I used an electric indoor grill unit, a new release from GreenPan, to cook the cauliflower steaks.  You may have a Cuisinart Griddler or even an older George Forman Grill.  All of these will work to make this recipe.  Don't have any of these?  A large cast iron Lodge skillet will do just fine.  

 Cauliflower Steaks Parmesan-Style
1 medium-large cauliflower head
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/8 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup mix of fresh grated Italian melting cheese (fontina, asiago, and/or provolone) 
2 tablespoons fresh grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon Calabrian chilies in oil
1 cup marinara sauce

Cut the cauliflower head into 3 steaks, each being 3/4" thick.  Reserve the remaining bits of cauliflower for another use.  Place the cauliflower steaks onto a large plate.  Set aside.  

Pour the olive oil into a small bowl, adding in the dried oregano, fennel seed, and garlic powder.  Stir to combine.  

Heat an electric indoor grill to high temperature, 425 degrees if your unit has a read-out display.  

Using a small spoon, lightly coat both sides of the steaks with the seasoned oil.  Evenly sprinkle the steaks with the salt.  Place the steaks onto the hot grill, cooking until both sides are deeply cooked with grill marks and the steaks are soft when pierced with the tip of a knife.  

Generously cover each steak with a handful of the grated cheese.  The cheese will melt with the carry-over heat from the grill.  Transfer the steaks to a serving platter.  

Mix together the Calabrian chilies and the marinara sauce.  Lightly drizzle the steaks with the sauce, sprinkling with fresh grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve as a side dish or with pasta. 


Monday, August 7, 2023

ChezCindy: Summer Caprese Salad


Summer tomatoes are the star of any Caprese Salad, which in turn make you a super star at your next dinner gathering.  A visit to the farm stand for selection of a variety of gorgeous tomatoes is the place to begin.  Add fresh basil leaves and the best fresh mozzarella cheese you can find to complete the list of ingredients.  With barely a recipe at all, this composed salad comes together like a beautiful painting of color.  

A quick note on summer tomatoes:  I highly recommend that your store the tomatoes at room temperature, and never place them in the refrigerator.  Cold tomatoes quickly lose their quality and turn to a mushy texture.  

Summer Caprese Salad
1 pound fresh mozzarella cheese
2-3 pounds variety of fresh farm tomatoes, heirloom if available
1 bunch of fresh basil leaves
Flakey sea salt
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Balsamic vinegar, optional

Slice the mozzarella into thick slices, setting aside at room temperature.  Slice the tomatoes into thick slices.  Working with a large platter, arrange the tomatoes and the mozzarella slices in an overlapping pattern.  Add a sprinkling of the flakey sea salt.  Generously drizzle with the olive oil.  When ready to serve, tear the basil leaves into pieces, scattering the leaves over the tomatoes and cheese.  If desired, drizzle with a small amount of balsamic vinegar.  Serve at room temperature.