Salmon with Almond Pesto

I made this recipe after coming upon many different pesto recipes that use pine nuts. While they are a tasty addition to a pesto recipe I find them in only small quantities and quite expensive. This recipe will make enough for two, but can be easily doubled

Ingredients:

2 salmon fillets

2 cups of fresh basil leaves

¼ cup of sliced almonds

¼ cup of bread crumbs

1 lemon

¼ tsp of salt

¼ tsp of fresh cracked pepper

Olive oil

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a food processor combine basil leaves, almonds, salt, and pepper. Grate about one tablespoon of the lemon’s peel into the food processor as well. Then cut the lemon in half and squeeze one half of the lemon’s juice into food processor. Place the cover on the food processor and pulse several times. Slowly stream in about ¼ cup of olive oil to the food processor until the pesto has thinned some, but is not soupy. Cover a pan with foil and place the salmon fillets on the pan. Evenly divide the pesto on top of each piece of salmon. Then place one slice of the leftover half of lemon on top of each piece of salmon. Finally, divide the bread crumbs on top of the pesto and lemon covered salmon. Sprinkle some olive oil on top of the bread crumbs so that the bread crumbs will turn golden in the oven. Cook the salmon for fifteen minutes or until it reaches an internal temperature of 145 degrees.

Salmon with Pesto
Salmon with Pesto
Salmon with Pesto with Lemon Slices
Salmon with Pesto with Lemon Slices
Salmon Baking in the Oven with Breadcrumbs
Salmon Baking in the Oven with Breadcrumbs
The Finished Product
The Finished Product
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Cheesy Chicken Orzo

Ingredients:

1 tbs of olive oil

2 tbs of butter

2 tbs of flour

¾ cup of milk

½ to ¾ of a block of extra sharp white cheddar cheese grated

1 and ½ cups of orzo pasta

¾ cup halved grape tomatoes

1/8 cup of chopped fresh basil

1 cup shredded rotisserie chicken (or you can shred a poached boneless skinless chicken breast)

Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley

Salt and pepper

Instructions:

*While creating cheese mixture boil 1 to ½ cups of orzo pasta per package instructions.

Heat oil and butter in a large skillet on medium heat. After butter has melted into oil and begins to bubble whisk in flour. Allow flour to cook for a minute then slowly whisk in milk. Whisk milk until clumps disappear and it thickens a bit. Whisk in the cheese a handful at a time until it melts into milk. Turn heat to low and stir in grape tomatoes, basil, and chicken. Let cook for about five to ten minutes occasionally stirring, until the tomatoes and chicken are heated through. Add salt and pepper to taste.

After orzo pasta is finished, add pasta to cheese mixture. Mix all ingredients together and dash parsley on top. Mixture will thicken a bit upon standing. If mixture looks too thick add a ½ cup of the pasta cooking liquid.

Tips: The orzo may not look like much but it grows considerably while you cook it. If you like spicier dishes I occasionally add a dash of cayenne pepper.

Cheesy Chicken Orzo (*Note. This picture does not feature the chicken as I didn't have any the night I took the picture.)
Cheesy Chicken Orzo (*Note. This picture does not feature the chicken as I didn't have any the night I took the picture.)

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Roast Beef Sandwiches and Gravy

This is a sublimely easy recipe, but these are the recipes I love. It’s super quick and may be one you already know, but I wanted to share. We usually eat it with chips, but you can also make mashed potatoes and use the gravy on the mashed potatoes as well. The recipe below is enough for 2, but can be easily doubled.

Ingredients:

Crusty Sub Rolls (I recently found some called Filone rolls which are delicious, but any crusty sub roll will do. Don’t get soft ones as they will fall apart in the gravy.)

Sliced roast beef (I usually get a half pound for my husband and I)

Sliced cheese (provolone or sharp white cheddar)

1 tbs of olive or vegetable oil

2 tbs of butter

About 3 tbs of flour

1 can of beef broth

About 8 oz of milk

Instructions:

Turn on oven broiler.

Turn on a medium saucepot to medium heat. Drizzle olive oil in saucepot and add butter. Melt butter into oil. After butter has melted in oil whisk in flour slowly and let cook for about 3 minutes. Whisk in beef broth, then whisk in milk. Bring to a low simmer and and let simmer for about 5 minutes then turn to medium low. Stir occasionally while you fix sandwiches. Split rolls in half and butter. Place in broiler for a few minutes until the butter has melted and sides of the bread begin to turn brown. Remove rolls and place a slice or two of cheese on each roll. Place back under broiler for a few minutes until cheese begins to melt (watch carefully! Don’t let rolls burn). Then pile sandwiches with roast beef. Transfer gravy to bowls and dip sandwiches in the gravy.

Bubbly butter and flour
Bubbly butter and flour
Gravy Cooking
Gravy Cooking
Finished Roast Beef Sandwiches and Gravy
Finished Roast Beef Sandwiches and Gravy
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Cinnamon and Chocolate Croissants

Chocolate and Cinnamon Croissants

I created this recipe after having run into a cooking conundrum (not unusual). I was going to make Giada De Laurentiis’ cinnamon twists, but the puff pastry I had defrosted had somehow gotten dried out in the freezer. In addition I didn’t have the cardamom the recipe called for. What I did have was a package of croissants and chocolate chips, which became the recipe here.

1 tube of store bought refrigerated croissants

1 bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips

2 tablespoons of brown sugar

½ tablespoon of cinnamon

¼ teaspoon of ginger

1 egg

Preheat oven according to croissant package directions. In a small bowl mix together brown sugar, cinnamon and ginger. Beat egg in small bowl. Brush each croissant triangle with beaten egg. Place about a half of a tablespoon of the brown sugar mixture on each croissant. Then line each croissant with 4 chocolate chips. Roll flat croissant into the normal croissant shape (haha). Brush tops of rolled croissants with beaten egg mixture and place on a sheet pan. Cook according to croissant package directions.

*Tip: I place the croissants on parchment paper on the sheet pan, it keeps the bottoms from getting to brown

*Side Note: I have to give credit to my in-laws for this idea as well. They always have chocolate croissants when we come to visit and they are hard to find where my husband and I live.

Cinnamon and Chocolate Croissants

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Jack Bauer Quesadillas

These are in honor of our semi-yearly (January through May) commitment to spend at least one hour a week clenching our fists in tension as we wait to see what will unfold on the next season of 24. I made these one Monday night and they earned their moniker because they contain a jack with an intense kick!

Ingredients:

1 lb of chicken tenders

1 package of monterey jack cheese

1/4- 1/2 cup of store bought mesquite marinade

2-4 tablespoons of hot sauce

Jarred pickled jalapeno’s

1 package of tortillas

Sour Cream (optional)

Salsa (optional)

Instructions:

Dice chicken into bite size pieces. Place into a medium hot skillet with about 1/4 cup of the marinade. Add about 2 (or more) tablespoons of hot sauce to the chicken. Once the chicken is cooked through heat tortillas on a griddle or in a skillet. Place some chicken on one half of the tortilla, add some monetery jack cheese, and as many jalapeno’s as you like. Fold the empty half of the tortilla over the covered half. Slice and dip in sour cream or salsa.

Chicken Quesadillas Cooking in the Skillet
Chicken Quesadillas Cooking in the Skillet

Chicken Quesadilla Filling
Chicken Quesadilla Filling
Folded Chicken Quesadilla
Folded Chicken Quesadilla
Tada!
Tada!
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Chicken Enchiladas

In honor of a belated Mother’s Day, I bring you my Mom’s chicken enchiladas.

Ingredients:

1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast

2 cans cream of chicken soup

About 1 cup of sour cream (you can add 1/2 cup more if you like sour cream!)

1 package of montery jack cheese (you can buy pre-shredded, or get a block and grate it!)

1 package of sharp cheddar cheese (you can buy pre-shredded, or get a block and grate it!)

1 can of green chilies (optional)

1 can of chopped olives (optional)

1/4 cup of chopped green onions

1 to 2 packages of flour tortillas

Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Poach chicken on a low boil until cooked completely (around 25 minutes for defrosted chicken, about 40 minutes for frozen chicken).  After chicken is poached and cooled shred chicken into bite size pieces. Set aside about a third each of the cheddar and monterey jack cheese. In a seperate bowl mix together the sour cream, cream of chicken soup, remaining cheddar and monterey jack cheese, and green onions. Remove 1 and 1/2 cups of the sour cream mixture and set aside. Add shredded chicken to remaining sour cream mixture (*Tip: mix the chicken a bit at a time until it looks consistent with the sour cream mixture but not dried out, I don’t always add all the chicken). Cook tortillas on a griddle, roll about four-five tablespoons of mixture per tortilla. Place filled tortillas in a 9X13 pan. Spread the set aside sour cream mixture on top of the tortillas and top with the set aside cheese. Cook for 30 minutes until bubbly and cheese is starting to brown. Top with optional green chilies, olives, and extra green onions.

Extra Tips: This is a great make ahead dish. It can be frozen for about a month and can be made a day ahead if refrigerated. The entire recipe makes quite a bit, so I occasionally make half and then freeze half. If you are cooking it frozen cook for at least 40 minutes covered in foil, and then another 20-30 uncovered. If refrigerated cook for 30 minutes covered and 15-20 minutes uncovered.

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