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Ginger Glazed Salmon

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Remember back when we made kabobs and I mentioned that one of the ingredients is always in my fridge? The Makoto ginger dressing has been a nice addition to many of my recipes for years—and this is one of my favorites! I’ve been making it for a while now, and have learned some tricks along the way—and I’m happy to share them with you here!

Ginger Glazed Salmon
3 or 4 salmon fillets, whatever size you want*
½ c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. Makoto ginger dressing
Salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, Dijon mustard and ginger dressing. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the salmon fillets. Line a broiler pan with aluminum foil pieces for each salmon fillet. Spray with cooking spray and place the fillet in the center of its foil. Fold the sides of the foil up around the salmon—not so tight as to wrap it, but snug—this will catch the glaze mixture, keeping it from dripping off the top of the salmon and burning in the oven. (I’ve learned the hard way that brown sugar will smoke up your whole kitchen if it burns!) Broil the salmon for 8-10 minutes, until the center of the salmon is a lighter pink. Serve as is or with tartar sauce!

*I don’t care for skin on my salmon—if you want yours skinned, simply ask the butcher at the meat counter! They can take care of that for you while you do the rest of your shopping—and it’s one less thing to worry about!

If I’m in a pinch for time—which is almost always the case—I throw together some teriyaki noodles and cook those while the salmon is broiling. It’s a great meal for the whole family, finished and on the table in less than 20 minutes!

Enjoy!

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Meat Tips

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I’m not just talking about those tips…I’m talking about some helpful hints that will come in handy next time you belly up to the butcher counter.

Sliced Meat

  1. Cut it out – Just like that sparkly rock on your finger or in your ears, “cut” is one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to buying meat. Luxury cuts come from the back of the animal—from the rump, rib or loin. These are usually more tender than working cuts (those that come from the front) and take less time to cook. Working cuts should be cooked over low heat, for longer periods of time.
  2. Don’t lose your marbles! – Yes, we all know that lean meat can be the healthier way to go. But…a little bit of fat on your meat can go a long way with flavoring. A piece of meat that has some nice flecks of white fat throughout is said to be “marbled”—and that fat will keep it from drying out on the grill. My personal favorite? A good marbled ribeye, marinated in Stubb’s Beef Marinade. Cooked just right, and those bites of fat melt like butter in your mouth! (And speaking of butter…if you have a really lean cut of meat, spread a little bit of butter on it before grilling it—it adds flavor and keeps it from getting too dry!)
  3. Touchy feely Poking isn’t just on Facebook folks! (Do people still do that?) Test out the beef or pork by poking it—good, fresh meat should neither be too tough nor too soft. If it doesn’t spring back when you poke the center, it might not be the freshest piece on the platter.
  4. True colors Another diamond similarity…color! When you’re picking out beef, you want a piece that is darker red—this usually means that it’s freshly cut. If you’re on the hunt for white meat, look for pink chicken and pork. (Something I’ve learned: when meat is first cut, beef is more purple than red—it starts to turn red when proteins inside the meat start to oxygenate.)

Finally, never be afraid to ask questions—your local butcher is the expert, and I’ve yet to come across one who isn’t happy to share his/her knowledge. From questions about how to grill to trimming cuts of meat for any budget, they’re always willing to help—so take them up on that offer…and enjoy!

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Summertime Sips!

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Boy oh boy, is it hot outside. I’m all about some fun in the sun, but sometimes…the heat just gets to me! So why not cool down your cook-out with some refreshing drink recipes? Here are a few fun ones that you can get creative with—add your own ‘spirit’ to each and spice up any lazy, hazy day of summer. 

Strawberry Basil Lemonade

Countrytime Lemonade Flavor Drink Mix (this is a must-have in my kitchen during the summer months!)

1 container of fresh strawberries

3 leaves of fresh basil

*Splash of gin – optional

Mix up a pitcher of lemonade using the powdered drink mix—you can make as much as you want! Chop the tops off the strawberries and then dice into smaller pieces. Chop the basil, but not too fine—this is just to add a different flavor to the drink, so it doesn’t have to ‘dissolve’ into the lemonade. Add strawberries and basil to the pitcher of lemonade and stir well. Pour over ice and enjoy! (You can even run a sliced strawberry around the rim of your glass and then dip the top of the glass into a plateful of sugar–kind of like a sweet version of margarita salt!)

Big Orange Dream

1 carton of orange juice (pulp-free, with pulp…it’s up to you!)

8 oz. Cool Whip, slightly thawed

1 pkg. instant vanilla pudding mix

Ice

*Add rum if you like!

In a blender, pour 12 ounces of orange juice and blend in half of the vanilla pudding mix. Add half of the whipped topping and blend until smooth. Finally, add the ice and blend together. Serve it up with a dallop of whipped cream on top! Cheers!

As an added tip, try substituting ice cubes (which will melt and water down your drink) with some frozen berries to add more flavor to your summer beverage!

 

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Corn salsa

Italian Salsa

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We all know it’s the perfect time of year for backyard gatherings, food and fellowship. And in our neck of the woods, it’s also the perfect time of year for many delicious fruits, vegetables and herbs. One of my favorite recipes features one of each: tomatoes (in season between July and October), corn (ripe for the picking between June and August) and basil (best between May and November). This ‘Italian Salsa’ is a great side, eaten as a dip with chips, on top of some toasted baguettes…or as is, with a fork!

 

Italian Salsa

2 containers of grape tomatoes

1 cup white corn kernels, drained

1 cup golden corn, drained

2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

1-2 containers of feta cheese

3 Tbsp. freshly chopped basil

 

Slice the tomatoes into quarters, lengthwise. Place in bowl with corn and add feta cheese. Chop up the basil and place into bowl. Pour balsamic vinegar over and stir! Serve with tortilla chips, baked pita chips, toasted baguettes, or on its own as a side!

 

The key to this is the corn. If you’re short on time, by all means, use 1 can of golden corn and 1 can of white corn. But if you have time (only 15 extra minutes!), boil up some fresh white and yellow corn cobs. If the corn has husks, go ahead and shuck it. Use a wet paper towel to get all the silk off the ears. Bring a pot of water to a boil—you can add a little bit of sugar, but no salt—this will pull water from the corn and toughen it up. Add the corn and let the water come back to a boil. Once the water is boiling again, I get the corn out of there—it’s done! Then you can slice the kernels off the cobs and add to the recipe above!

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Snacks to Go!

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About this time every year, we load the kids up and hit the road for a good ol’ family vacation. Unfortunately, that usually means 4-8 hours in the car with little passengers who like to be entertained with movies and—you guessed it—SNACKS! This year, I vowed to go the healthy route, and my sister provided me with this great recipe to keep everyone happy, healthy…and NOT hangry. (Yes. That’s a real condition.)

Homemade Granola Bars

Click on ingredients to add to your shopping list!

3 cups rolled oats
1 cup sunflower seeds
1 cup sliced almonds
1 cup pumpkin seeds
1 cup semi-sweet mini chocolate chips
1 cup raisins
1 cup craisins
¼ cup melted butter
14 oz. condensed milk

Mix together dry ingredients and add melted butter and condensed milk. Spoon mixture onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes (a little longer if you like them crunchy). Let cool for 15-20 minutes and then cut into small squares to enjoy!

The best part? You can change up the ingredients—I don’t care for raisins, so I leave those out and it doesn’t affect the baking process. Get creative with it!

Other helpful hints for road trip snacks

I can’t take credit for these, but we are going on another road trip later this summer…and I can’t wait to try them!

  • Celery to go! Cut down celery stalks to about the height of a peanut butter jar. Take the peanut butter jar (I prefer crunchy!) and scoop out half of the peanut butter. Save it in another container, and place the celery stalks in the jar with peanut butter on the bottom, screw the lid closed and there you have it—celery and peanut butter in a neat and tidy to-go package!
  • Munchie necklace For younger travelers (that can eat the snacks), take a piece of thin ribbon (about 24 inches long) and string mini pretzels and O-type cereal pieces onto it. Tie it into a necklace, place it around their neck and let them enjoy the snacks…without asking you for them every 30 seconds! 😉

Enjoy!

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Host Your Own Hot Dog Bar!

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Hot dogs are as much a summer staple as sprinklers and sparklers. Why not kick up any cookout a notch by hosting a Hot Dog Bar? Encourage your guests to bring toppings and set them all up, buffet-style! Feel free to get fancy and have some fun with it—from pizza dogs with pepperoni and mozzarella cheese to the good ol’ American chili dog with cheese and onions, there will be something for everyone to enjoy.

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We want to see what you come up with! Enter Food City’s “Dog Days of Summer” contest by submitting photos with your most creatively decorated hot dogs or brats. Click here for more details, and doggone it—have some fun!

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Enjoy!

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