Panko crusted salmon

From Ina Garten

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This is a classic weeknight dinner from the GKB kitchen. Some days, I have the energy for eating something tasty, but lack in the desire-to-make-dinner energy department. Thus, I turn to a tried and true recipe that never fails to delight me. After all, I adore all things Ina Garten. This salmon comes together rather quickly and due to my lack of motivation for dinner, I typically pair it with steamed frozen vegetables. Add some type of fresh fruit and the meal is complete (especially if there is a toddler in the mix).

This is one of our absolute favorite ways to prepare salmon. The skin becomes crackly and crunchy. Dijon mustard adds a pleasant tang. The panko topping is baked to a light crispy brown. A little lemon, salt, and pepper round out the flavor. Plus, this recipe is full of forgiveness. Don’t have skin on salmon? Use a regular filet. No fresh parsley or lemon juice? Use dried or bottled juice in place of zest. No dijon? Try a grainy brown mustard instead. So easy. So tasty. So perfect for a weeknight dinner.

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients

2/3 cup panko (Japanese dried bread flakes)

2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons good olive oil

4 (6- to 8-ounce) salmon fillets, skin on

2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

Lemon wedges, for serving

Directions

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix together the panko, parsley, lemon zest, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Drizzle with the olive oil and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated. Set aside.

Place the salmon fillets, skin side down, on a board. Generously brush the top of the fillets with mustard and then sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Press the panko mixture thickly on top of the mustard on each salmon fillet. The mustard will help the panko adhere.

Heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a 12-inch cast-iron skillet or large heavy, ovenproof pan. When the oil is very hot, add the salmon fillets, skin side down, and sear for 3 to 4 minutes, without turning, to brown the skin.

Transfer the pan to the hot oven for 5 to 7 minutes until the salmon is almost cooked and the panko is browned. Remove from the oven, cover with aluminum foil, and allow to rest for 5 to 10 minutes. Serve the salmon hot or at room temperature with lemon wedges.

Butternut squash bisque

From All Recipes

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Crunchy fall leaves, warm scarves, knitted sweaters, well-worn boots, pumpkins, cider, crisp air, wood fires, cozy blankets.

And this soup. Sigh.

This is my all time favorite soup. And, dare I say it, my daughters as well. I love making a double batch of this soup (usually it will use up one whole butternut squash) and putting a ton in the freezer. Then I can pull a perfect portion right from the freezer and enjoy it all winter long. I love heated lunches through the winter, and especially love it if it’s a steamy bowl of homemade soup. Sometimes I add the cream, sometimes I don’t. This year I was able to use homegrown squash and onions (from family), and carrots right from our own garden. This soup is simple and easy to make, but full of flavor, velvety and smooth, and packed with the rich and comforting flavors of fall. Just perfect.

Yield: 4 servings (doubles easily for freezing)

Ingredients

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1/2 cup diced onion

3/4 cup diced carrots

4 cups peeled and cubed butternut squash

3 cups vegetable stock

salt and ground black pepper to taste

freshly grated nutmeg to taste

1/2 cup heavy cream (optional)

Directions

Heat the oil and melt the butter in a large pot over medium heat. Cook and stir the onion in the butter and oil under tender.

Mix the carrots and squash into the pot. Pour in vegetable stock, and season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until vegetables are tender.

In a blender or food processor, puree the soup mixture until smooth. Return to the pot, and stir in the heavy cream. Heat through, but do not boil. Serve warm with a dash of nutmeg. Freezes well.

Frozen hot chocolate

From the Smitten Kitchen

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This September has still produced warm summer weather – which I love! Winter is coming, but not yet. To celebrate a lovely summer evening, I whipped up this frozen hot chocolate. This treat keeps all thoughts of snow and cold near (hot chocolate!), but is perfect for when it’s 78 degrees and the sun is setting, the last of the days stickiness fading away with the gentle breeze (we do get gentle breezes up here on the ridge). I was lazy and omitted the whipped cream and chocolate shavings on top, but I suspect they would be a wonderful addition to those who have the willpower to spend an extra five minutes. We sit on the front porch, waving at the neighbors who drive or walk by, and sip this chocolatey goodness. Well, some of us might slurp it down, but the inevitable cold headache is a reminder to enjoy slowly.

Yield: Makes 6 small just-about-1-cup servings, or 3-4 medium sized ones

Ingredients

3 ounces semi- or bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons granulated sugar

1 1/2 cups cold milk (preferably whole)

1/2 cup cold heavy/whipping cream (optional)

Chocolate shavings, for garnish (optional)

Directions

Melt chocolate in a small/medium saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly and not letting it cook a moment beyond its melted point. Remove from heat. Stir in cocoa and 2 tablespoons sugar. Drizzle in 1/2 cup milk very slowly, whisking the whole time. If any chocolate firms up, return the saucepan to a low stove, warming and whisking the mixture until it melts again.

Off the heat, stir in the remaining 1 cup of cold milk, which should make the chocolate base cold. If not, let it chill in the freezer for a few minutes to hasten the cooling along.

Beat heavy cream with remaining 2 teaspoons sugar until soft peaks form. You can do this vigorously by hand or with an electric mixer.

In a blender, combine ice and chocolate-milk mixture until as smooth as a frozen cocktail. Pour into a glass dollop with whipped cream and finish with shaved chocolate. Serve with a straw and a spoon.

Blueberry basil lemonade popsicles

From The Pioneer Woman

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When I saw the post for this recipe pop up in my Facebook news feed, I knew it was meant to be. First of all, this week is H.O.T. (I’m not complaining, I love tank top and shorts weather). Second, my toddler loves all things blueberry, basil, or lemonade. And last, I was looking for a new popsicle recipe to try out – creating your own is more difficult than you may think, and we’ve had a streak of edible but not amazing popsicles. I omitted the whole blueberries from these frozen beauties, as my daughter does not enjoy fruit chunks in her food (that’s right…no chunks in muffins, bread, popsicles, etc). They turned out absolutely perfect and using the popsicle mold that I have, made a little extra. No worries, just add a little sparkling water and it will make a lovely lunchtime (or anytime) beverage. These popsicles are a luscious pink color, tart and sweet, drippy, have that popsicle “texture” that store bought do (but lack any unnecessary ingredients), and provide a surprising tastebud twist with a touch of dreamy basil flavor. Basil and lemonade happen to be one of my all time favorite summertime combinations, and this popsicle is all that in a frozen, summery treat-on-a-stick.

Yield: 10 3 oz pops, plus enough extra for two glasses of delicious lemonade

Ingredients

1 cup Fresh Lemon Juice

3/4 cups White Sugar

4 cups Water

1 cup Blueberries, Plus More To Add To Popsicles

1/3 cup Fresh Basil (I used a combination of purple and green basil)

Directions

Juice lemons and transfer the juice into a large pitcher. Add sugar and water and stir to combine and dissolve the sugar.

Add blueberries and basil. Using an immersion blender (I suspect a blender would work well, too, just be sure not to chop up the basil and blueberries too fine), blend the mixture for about 20 seconds just until the mixture turns pink and basil is finely chopped. Strain the mixture and discard any chunks of blueberry or basil.

Divide mixture between popsicle molds (or small Dixie cups) and add a few fresh blueberries and freeze. 30 minutes into freezing, add a popsicle stick and continue to freeze until solid. If you have extra liquid, feel free to add a splash of sparkling water (and maybe vokda?) for a refreshing drink.

Cabbage and kielbasa skillet

From Very Culinary

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This is an excellent quick dish for summertime (gotta use up that cabbage from the garden!), or add mashed potatoes and serve it up during chilly months. It comes together quickly, is packed with flavor, and has appeared multiple times at our dinner table. I love adding a little bit of spicy brown mustard for an extra kick – not too powerful, as our two year old doesn’t like things too spicy. She does, however, love cabbage, and eats this dish by the fistful.

Ingredients

1 pound fully cooked kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small head cabbage, coarsely chopped

1 medium sweet onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons rice wine vinegar

1 1/2 teaspoons dijon or brown grainy mustard (I prefer 1 tsp dijon and 1/2 tsp spicy brown mustard)

Optional: mashed potatoes, great for wintertime months!

Directions

Heat olive oil in a large nonstick sauté pan over medium-high and add kielbasa. Cook, without stirring for 1 minute. Then stir occasionally for about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon.

In the same pan with some of the rendered kielbasa fat, add the cabbage, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. You want the cabbage to get nice and tender.

Mix in the vinegar and mustard; add the sausage back to the pan and cook for another 2 minutes to heat through. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Serve immediately on its own or over mashed potatoes.