Roasted Lemon-Dill Salmon (pes, gf) and Really Easy Butternut Squash Soup (v, gf)

You know those meals that look impressive but are super easy to throw together? The hands-off, like, Williams Sonoma photo shoot, break out your all-white everything serveware at your winter home in the Swiss Alps fancy? Yeah. Those are my favorite. Here’s one to add to your arsenal.

ROASTED SALMON WITH LEMON AND DILL

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 lb salmon plank
  • 1 lemon
  • 10-15 fresh dill sprigs
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt & cracked black pepper
  • parchment paper

Directions:

On a baking dish, place the salmon on a sheet of parchment paper. The paper isn’t a must but will simplify cleanup. Generously salt and pepper the salmon. Cut the lemon in half and juice one half. Slice the other lemon half into thin, crosswise slices.

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Seafood Chowda (pes, gf)

Making this soup really stepped up my annoying culinary joke game last week. Anytime I make/eat/order/think of chowder, I think of the Simpsons chowda/chower Freddy Quimby scandal episode, which makes me laugh out loud regardless of time or location:
And having been given a beautiful filet of Alaskan halibut that I used in the chowder, I also got to walk around saying things like this,

halibut

which, as you can imagine, made me very happy. Just for the halibut…. hahahahaha…. Oh, top hat crab! You so crazy.

On to the soup. I’d stumbled across the idea for salmon chowder, which sounded delicious but quickly changed when the halibut entered my life. I decided to make a halibut, cod, and shrimp chowder just for the- wait for it- because I wanted to. Gotcha.

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This soup can be made with whatever sturdy fish fillets you have on hand. You want the fish to be thick enough to stand up to being cooked in hot broth- the goal is to have large, spoon-sized chunks of cooked fish in the soup, not flakes. Leave the fish out altogether if you prefer- shrimp, chunks of lobster, and scallops would be equally amazing. This was a really tasty dinner and improved, as most soups do, overnight. It keeps for a few days and travels well. All in all, a tasty, hearty, warming dish.

SEAFOOD CHOWDA

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs fish, skinned and boned, cut into 1″ chunks, or 2 lbs seafood and shellfish mix of your choice
  • large handful peeled and deveined shrimp, optional
  • 2 tbsp butter or olive oil
  • 1 1/2 tbsp flour, optional (leave out for gf option)
  • 1/2-1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • kosher salt, to tastesoup1
  • 1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 3 leeks, white and light green bits chopped into rings 
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 1/2 lbs fingerling potatoes, scrubbed and cut into rounds
  • 1 clove minced garlic, optional
  • 1 bulb fennel, stalks and fronds cut off, chopped into small pieces
  • large handful kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn, thawed
  • 6 cups stock or broth of your choice
  • 1 cup half-and half
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh chives, optional
  • Crystal hot sauce, for serving – or (sacrilegious) Tabasco

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Quickie: Shiitakes & Soba (v, gf)

Mushrooms! So tasty, so good for you. Shiitakes, specifically, are a well-known source of iron and immune-boosting properties (hear ye, hear ye, vegans and vegetarians: rich veggie iron source). The ever-popular goop recently published a piece on the health benefits of mushrooms (more on that here) and ideas on how to work them into your diet; here’s my very quick, single serving, weeknight-friendly take on their “Stir Fried Noodles with Mushrooms.” Enjoy!

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SHIITAKES & SOBA

Adapted from goop

Ingredients:

  • 1 bundle soba noodles or 1 cup cooked soba (note: soba noodles must contain ONLY buckwheat flour to be considered gluten-free) mushrooms 5
  • 1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/4 lb fresh shiitake mushrooms, wiped clean with a damp paper towel and sliced; Whole Foods sells an especially tasty 1/4 lb package
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1-inch chunk fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • drizzle sesame oil
  • sesame seeds

Directions:

Cook your soba noodles according to package directions, drain, and set aside. Chop your aromatics while the noodles cook (love the word aromatics). Meanwhile, heat the coconut oil in a non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sliced mushrooms and cook until browned, stirring to ensure they don’t stick, about 5 minutes.

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Add the ginger and garlic and cook another minute, stirring. Add the cooked noodles, green onions, soy sauce, and sesame oil, tossing to coat and heat everything through. Remove to a bowl, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy! Really tasty 10-minute dinner! The best kind!

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Shrimp “Ceviche” Salad (pes, gf)

So, it’s totally true that cooking is like working a muscle. The more you work that muscle, the easier it is to use. The less you work it, well, that muscle gets weaker. If I don’t cook on a regular basis, my culinary creative juices dry up like a sad roadside drainage ditch. Exhibit A:

ditch

so sad. so not cooking.

Who wants to eat there? Bleh. Luckily, the more often I cook, inspiration flows back like a tumbling tropical waterfall. Exhibit B:

waterfall 2

take me there? now? I’ll cook!

Much more appealing!! Do you find the same thing happens in your kitchen? It’s 100% the case in mine. Speaking of which, let’s flex those cooking muscles and talk ceviche. Typically, ceviche is a raw fish and/or shellfish dish in which the seafood had been “cooked” by citrus juices. To explain those salmonella-hazy quotation marks and to quote Chowhound, “citric acid changes the proteins in the fish, unraveling the molecules and altering their chemical and physical properties. When fish is bathed in citrus juices, this process… turns the flesh firm and opaque, as if it had been cooked with heat.”

ceviche

Since there are just two of us at home and we’re leftover-heavy on the food rotation, I opt to pre-cook my seafood when making dishes like these. It’s a safe option when keeping this stuff on hand for a few days and the classic, citrusy flavor isn’t compromised. This is a “cut it all up and stir it together” recipe- great for busy nights or when you’re trying to use up veggies in the fridge. So! Let’s get to it.

SHRIMP “CEVICHE” SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and cooked, diced large 
  • 1 bell pepper, your choice of color, diced large
  • 1 large avocado, pitted and chopped into large dice
  • 1 small container grape tomatoes, halved (the tomatoes, not the container)
  • 1/4-1/3 cup cilantro, packed and finely chopped
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 3-4 tbsp olive or canola oil (taste preference here: olive oil has a distinct, earthy taste; canola is neutral)
  • 1/2-1 small red onion, small dice
  • 1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
  • kosher salt
  • cracked black pepper
  • honey, optional
  • optional spices, such as chili powder, cumin, oregano
  • spinach or salad green of your choice

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Brown & Wild Rice with Caremelized Onions, Creminis, and Greens (gf, v)

What a whirlwind this winter has been! Geez! Work, school, weddings, visits with family and friends, freezing cold weather, sweaty hot weather vacation, back to work and school. And somehow it is March! And 60 degrees in Missouri, which is very, very welcome and much appreciated… but I still can’t figure out where February and January went. Do you know? They must have blown by me in a wintry blur.

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50 shades of plane

Throughout the Jan-Feb blur I sustained myself on sad  things like Foods Sold By Panera Bread, cereal, canned beans and frozen brown rice, kimchi and pickles delivered fork-to-mouth from the jar, and frozen Ghirardelli chocolate. YUM. My poor husband was left to fend for himself (shout out to the Whole Foods hot bar). I managed to cook a couple of times in February; here’s a recipe I chose for a day when my body was screaming at me for much-needed veggies and grains already, woman! Put down the chocolate!

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BROWN  WILD RICE WITH CAREMELIZED ONIONS, CREMINIS, AND GREENS 

Ingredients:FullSizeRender (1)

  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice
  • 1/3 cup uncooked wild rice
  • 2 2/3 cup water or stock
  • 1 tsp veggie base or bullion if using water
  • 1 tbsp butter (omit for vegan recipe)rice 1
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, sliced thinly into rings or half moons
  • 1 carton cremini mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
  •  a few sprigs thyme or 1/2 tsp dried
  • 3+ garlic cloves, chopped
  • half bag spinach leaves
  • a few handsful broccoli, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

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Winter Wonderland Salad (pes, gf, veg option)

Pinterest is by far the leading referrer to allez! gourmet. My peanut butter & cinnamon Greek yogurt dip has been a huge Pinterest hit- thank you to all readers who have shared it! Interestingly, my pollo guisado recipe has also taken off. This cracks me up- the Dominican woman and American woman in me have experienced Pinterest validation equality. Ha! Pinterest is truly a great resource for recipe sharing and I browse it for inspiration all the time. In fact, a solid Pinterest-browsing sesh inspired me to create this tasty winter salad.

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Another inspiration for the salad: My wonderful husband very kindly gifted allez! gourmet eight bottles of Vom Fass vinegars and olive oils for Christmas and I was eager to use them. Dave has always supported my little hobby blog and encourages me to keep it up- thank you to Dave for keeping me flush with love, encouragement, and olive oil.

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WINTER WONDERLAND SALAD

Ingredients:

  • 1 package organic baby arugula (I suggest organic girl)
  • 2 salmon filets, seasoned (leave out for veg/v option)
  • one large sweet potato, cubed
  • 2/3 cup walnuts
  • 1 can sliced beets
  • goat cheese, torn into chunks
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • balsamic or red wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat your oven to 400. In a 9×13 Pyrex pan or on a baking sheet, toss the sweet potato cubes with 2 tsp olive oil and a sprinkle of kosher salt. Roast for 25-30 minutes until browned outside and soft inside, tossing once or twice so they don’t stick.

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As the sweet potatoes cook, heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a cast iron or other heavy-bottomed skillet over medium and season the salmon. You could use good old s&p, fresh herbs, or your favorite seasoning mix. I used a seasoning called “Fisherman’s Wharf,” which conjures up the image of a filthy dock but was actually quite tasty.

Cook the salmon 3-5 minutes per side until medium well or well-done, your choice.

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Meanwhile, drain the can of beets and layer the slices between paper towels. If you’d like to toast your walnuts, do so over medium heat in a nonstick skillet, tossing until they’re fragrant. Toasting the walnuts will lend big flavor for little work.

When the salmon is done and the sweet potatoes are cooked through, dress a large handful of arugula with a drizzle of olive oil, a splash of vinegar, and a bit of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Top with the beet slices, torn goat cheese, walnuts, sweet potatoes, and salmon.

Pescatarian and vegetarian options, equally delish

Simple as that! The olive oil I used was lemon-flavored and the vinegar was aged and Spanish. The Antonio Banderas of vinegars, if you will. So! How will you dress your winter salad?

Quickie: My New Favorite Baked Potato (gf, veg)

Perpetual baked potato cravings have become somewhat of a thing with me. My go-to is classic: a plate-sized Yukon gold smashed with butter, kosher salt, cracked black pepper, and lots of sour cream. The winds of change had me in their grips the other day, inspiring me to mix it up. I madly added things from the fridge like a [hungry and impatient] mad scientist and chuckled when I realized that my combo was green- a Frankenstein potato!

Behold, my creation!

destiny! destiny!

destiny! destiny!

BAKED POTATO WITH AVOCADO AND GREEN ONION  

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium/large Yukon gold potato
  • butter
  • salt and pepper
  • avocado
  • sliced green onions

Bake or microwave your potato. I am a microwaver. When I want a baked potato, I want it within the next ten minutes. No judgement here for my lazy, impulsive kinsfolk. Cut in half, smash up with a fork, sprinkle with salt and crack on pepper, add a few pats of butter and smash up a little more, smash on some buttery avocado, and top with green onion. Hell of a snack.

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Creamy Crockpot Pinto Beans (gf, v option) and Gluten-free Cornbread (gf, veg)

The Missouri November weather was spectacular last weekend. Dave and I went on an epic, 3-hour, 10+ mile hike around the Weldon Spring area to enjoy said Missouri November weather, beginning and ending at the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell. What is the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell, you ask? Well, we wondered the same thing. It’s a 45-acre mound of rocks covering layers of nuclear waste. And you can walk to the top! How’s that for a bizarre tourist attraction?

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view from the top

The Us Army Ordinance Works purchased the site and adjacent land (17,232 acres- whoa) in 1941. The Army contracted the Atlas Powder Company to manufacture trinitrotoluene (TNT) and dinitrotoluene (DNT) at a sprawling factory complex on the site until 1945 to support World War II efforts. After the war, the Army started selling off the land but kept about 2,000 acres to house the Weldon Spring Uranium Feed Mill Plant, which was just what it sounds like- a uranium ore processing plant that operated from 1955 to 1966. Uranium ore processing plants produce well, radioactive waste, and that, kids, is what’s tucked beneath the Weldon Spring Disposal Cell.

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I’m hesitant to believe that the waste isn’t harmful to the surrounding communities or people walking all over the cell, but so far, I feel no strange after-effects. I can see better, though. Strange…. Anyway, we were starving when we got home and had breakfast-for-lunch, with the addition of these warming, slow-cooked, creamy pinto beans and leftover cornbread to dunk in them. I’d soaked the beans overnight the night before and put them in the crockpot before we headed out, so only finishing touches were left to be made when we got back. The cornbread originally accompanied some white bean chicken chili we’d made and heated up well to go with the beans. So, without further ado, creamy crockpot pinto beans and gluten-free cornbread!

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CREAMY CROCKPOT PINTO BEANS

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag dry pinto beans, rinsed and sorted
  • water
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices bacon, chopped, or 2 tbsp olive oil for vegan beans
  • 1 yellow or white onion, diced
  • 4-5 cloves garlic, chopped

Directions:

Rinse the dry beans after you pick them over for any rocks or clumps of dirt. Finding rocks and clumps of dirt in bags of dry beans isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds, but it is every bit as gross as it sounds, so look ’em over good. Put the beans in a bowl and cover with an inch of water, soaking at least 8 hours or overnight. How retro-frugal you are, soaking beans! Good for you. The WWII-era Real Housewives of Weldon Spring would be proud.

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RHOWS

When the beans have had a good soaking, dump their soaking water, rinse them again, and put them in your crockpot. Cover with water, up to 1/2 inch above the beans. Keep in mind that when cooking in a crockpot, the water added to a recipe will stay put, so add as much as you’d like or not like. Cover and set to low for 8 hours or high for 4. Take a hike.

When you return from your hike/nap/workday/classified mission, chop the 2 pieces of bacon and cook them over medium in a small skillet until crispy. If you’re omitting bacon, heat the olive oil over medium. Remove the bacon once it’s crispy and add the onion to the bacon fat or olive oil, cooking for 3-4 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook another minute.

Salt and pepper the onions, and add the onions, bacon, and 2 cups of beans to a food processor. Whir that sucker until the mixture is smooth and creamy, then stir the mixture back into the pot of beans.

You’re all done! The beans are even better the next day. They’re rich and creamy and make a perfect partner for a few hunks of….

OLD FASHIONED GLUTEN-FREE CORNBREAD

Adapted from Gluten Free On a Shoestring

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups yellow cornmealbread 1
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 room-temperature egg, beaten
  • 4 tbsp melted butter, cooled
  • 1 1/2 cups room-temperature plain yogurt
  • 4 tbsp raw honey

Directions:

Grab two bowls and preheat your oven to 400. In the larger bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients: cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

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In a second, smaller bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients: egg, butter, yogurt, and honey.

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Now make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients in the large bowl. See where this is going? Now you know why the dry ingredients got more bowl-love than the wet ones. Pour the wet ingredients into the center well and mix until just combined.

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Grease a cast-iron skillet or 9×13″ pan and spread the cornmeal mixture in evenly. Bake for 20 minutes, until the top is golden-brown.

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This celiac husband-friendly side was quite tasty. It held together well but was also crumbly, and would be great with the addition of cheddar cheese or chopped green chiles. It was great with the white chili and stood up to the beans.  What will you serve with yours?