Food Fail: Mustard Herb Salmon Gone Wrong

Hello again blog peeps.

I am saddened to report that tonight was a night of failures; on both the food and fitness front.  For now, let’s discuss food failures.

Inspired by awesome success with last weeks dijon crusted halibut, I decided to try a new salmon recipe for once.  I turned to my super reliable and trusty friend Giada de Laurentiis who rarely lets me down, and chose her herb and mustard broiled salmon.

This was the first time I used my broiler in this particular oven, and I have a feeling that it wasn’t fully heated when I put the salmon in.  The result was that the top of the salmon cooked way faster than the rest; the top was already cooked while the middle was still raw.  Ultimately, the salmon turned out EXTREMELY dried out, right down to the mustardy spread on top.  The mustard practically browned in the same way cheese would while baking in the oven (good for pizza, not for fish).  In all fairness, the actual flavor of the topping was very good.

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Random side note: how in the world is one supposed to chop fresh thyme without the sprigs getting in the way?  The thyme was not like rosemary where the herbs just fell right off.  This step was beyond frustrating for an already doomed meal.

To make matters even worse, I made this with lemon green beans and shallots (idea from Two Peas & Their Pod blog).  Seriously, this side includes three ingredients- how did I screw this up?  I’ll tell you how:  I used the amount of lemon called for in cooking the whole recipe even though I reduced the serving size drastically.  The result was overly lemony, under shallot-ed green beans.  Fail.

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The best part of this meal was contributed by good ol’ Uncle Ben.  Seriously, Uncle Bens instant brown rice and quiona mix with garlic is very tasty.  I highly recommed it for a healthy grain dish in a pinch.

And that is the sad truth- the best I can offer you from this meal is a thumbs up to Uncle Ben’s brown rice and quinoa mix.

Giada’s salmon may be worth a shot if you are confident in your broilers ability to work.  After tonight’s experience though, I think I will stick to grilling and baking my salmon instead.  While the mustard sauce was really good, it didn’t measure up to the simple blackening mix I usually use, which happens to be way less complicated.

Tonights adventures were a disappointment on all fronts.  I am sure the problem rests with me and/or my appliances so if any of you try out these recipes and have success, please let me know!

Since this post is filled with enough negativity already, I will save my rant about what happens when you try out a new workout and hate it for another day.  Also, to lighten up the mood a little, I have included a picture of my incredibly cute dog, Macy.  I always say she looks like a little burrito when she’s nestled in my covers like this, so technically she does belong in a blog post about food :)

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The Best Porcini Mushroom Risotto, Period.

I am breaking one of my own rules, and I don’t care.

I have always said I would not claim something as “the best I ever ate” if I had not tried enough of a particular food to compare.

Scratch that.  For now, at least.

This past week, I had the opportunity to try a local Italian restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, Casa D’ Angelo.  I have wanted to try this place for a while now, but it is pretty pricey and shocking, not in my current budget.  What do you do when you really want to try a restaurant and can’t afford it?  You wait for your family to take you there.

I had family visiting from NY who suggested we all go to Casa D’ Angelo for dinner.  That’s right, I didn’t even have to debate internally whether it was rude of me to pick such an expensive restaurant because they picked it themselves.  Amazing.  The food here was so good and so authentic Italian, as judged by my relatives from Italy, that we ended up going back AGAIN before they left.  I seriously hit the food lottery that week.

One of the main persuasive forces of returning a second time was this risotto.

Mushroom Risotto at Casa de Angelo

Mushroom Risotto at Casa de Angelo

I ordered it on a whim as an appetizer for my boyfriend and I because I have never had a truly authentic risotto, and I certainly don’t have the time or willingness to add 5 sticks of butter to make this on my own.  I don’t care that I have not tried other risottos, and I don’t care that this is one of the least photogenic dishes ever- this risotto was pure heaven.  The truffle oil and porcini mushrooms added just the right amount of flavor on top of the divine creaminess of the cheese and other goodness in here.  The rice itself was perfectly al dente.  My hard to impossible to please Italian grandmother raved about this risotto.  This was seriously one of my favorite appetizers from a restaurant ever.  You can also order it as an entree, but I think the appetizer portion was plenty satisfying.

If you are ever in Ft. Lauderdale and looking for the best Italian food, go to Casa D’Angelo.  Order this risotto whether or not it is on the menu that day.  Somehow.

Every other part of my dining experience was delicious and blog-worthy as well.

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I ordered the linguine positano as my entree, which is linguine with shrimp sauteed in white wine, with garlic, fresh tomato, and arugula.  I thought this dish was phenomenal- fresh, simple yet flavorful, and filling.  The shrimp were a bit on the firm side, but I suppose that is better than overly cooked, rubbery shrimp.

So, my recommendations to you all:  1. Plan a trip to Ft. Lauderdale, if you don’t live nearby.  2. Invite family to cover the bill (joking, kind of.) 3. Demand to try the mushroom risotto. 4. Order anything else as an entree 5. Drink wine to enhance good time and better tolerate family and 6. Pass out in food coma.

Dijon Crusted Baked Halibut

Hello blog peeps- I am officially back to a semi-normal routine and finally had the time to cook up a healthy, tasty meal tonight.

Because it has been a while since I tried a new recipe, I figured I would come back in full force and try something a bit out of my comfort zone.  Fish is one of those things that I am gradually developing quite a taste for, but am still reluctant at trying new types.  My taste buds have mastered salmon (especially my yummy blackened salmon) and tried grouper and chilean sea bass while dining out, but I am not quick to try new fish recipes at home.  I mean, is anything less satisfying after a long day than a bland, fishy, expensive piece of fish?  Well, tonight was time to execute one of my foodie resolutions in trying new things.

I made a dijon crusted baked halibut that I am happy to report turned out quite tasty!  I adapted the recipe from this Taste of Home Recipe by tweaking it just a little.  I decided to use halibut instead of tilapia because 1) fresh, wild halibut is on sale this week at Whole Foods (score!), and 2) I had never tried halibut before.

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I know I mention on here rather frequently whether or not my boyfriend liked a dish, but that is because he is a picky eater when it comes to healthy food.  So, I feel a recipe is uber-legitimate and totally worth sharing with you guys when he likes it.  And such was the case tonight :)

Dijon Crusted Baked Halibut

Adapted from this Taste of Home Recipe

Serves: 2

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 lb halibut (or fish of your choice)
  • 2 tablespoons reduced fat mayo (can sub with all or some greek yogurt)
  • 1.5 TBS parmesan cheese, divided
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 3/4 tsp horseradish
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 2 TBS breadcrumbs
  • 1.5 tsp dijon mustard

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. In a smal bowl, combine the mayo (or greek yogurt), 1 TBS parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and dijon mustard.
  3. Place fish on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray, skin side down.  Spread mayo mixture liberally on top of fish, saving any extra to use as a dipping sauce.
  4. In another small bowel, combine breadcrumbs, remaining 1/2 TBS parmesan cheese, and the melted butter.  Mix well.
  5. Top of the fish with the breadcrumb/cheese/butter topping.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 13-17 minutes, checking at 13 minutes, until fish is flaky in the center.

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We were pleasantly surprised at how good and EASY this recipe was.  I served it with frozen steamed broccoli (yawn), but tons of side dishes would accompany this perfectly.

The only thing I noticed was that because halibut (or perhaps just this piece) is such a thick piece of fish, we didn’t get a yummy dijon flavor in every bite, especially towards the center.  Luckily halibut is a very taste neutral fish, so it was more not flavorful as opposed to bad.  My solution to this for next time: reserve the extra mayo mixture to use as a dipping sauce.  If I had known this, I definitely would have saved my extra instead of tossing it down the drain in an attempt to be ahead of the clean up game.  Topping that reserved mixture with fresh herbs, such as dill or parsley, could be beyond delicious.

The next time you are looking for a healthy, delicious, out-of-the-box seafood recipe, definitely give this a try!

What is your favorite type of fish to cook?  What fish have you always wanted to try to make at home?

One Sweet Day

I hope everyone had a great Valentines Day yesterday.  Whether single or with someone, it’s a great excuse to eat chocolate and drink wine!

We split Valentines into two nights, with Ryan taking me out for a nice dinner last night and Sunday night I will be cooking him a dinner.  What I’m making Sunday was intended to be a surprise but he already knows what it is, so I will just have to keep it as a surprise for you guys.  Can’t spoil a good blog post, can we?

Last night we went out to Mortons Steakhouse for a special dinner and oh my gosh were we blown away.  We had only been one time before, but we each ordered the same thing as last time because it is that good.  Ryan got the 12 oz. filet and I got the shrimp alexander.  In case you are wondering what type of  crazy goes to Mortons and doesn’t order steak, it’s me!  For those of you who haven’t noticed, I don’t eat red meat.  Not to worry- Ryan will be guest blogging on here for all of this blogs meat needs.

Back to this shrimp alexander.  Before attempting to describe something so heavenly, I’ll give you  a visual.

Morton's Shrimp Alexander

Morton’s Shrimp Alexander

I hope you all appreciate the picture because honestly, it is a little embarrassing to snap a picture of your meal at a very nice restaurant, especially when everyone around you is on an intimate date.  I think this should be an initiation act for rookie food-bloggers .  I feel more official now ;)

Now, my attempt at giving this amazing dish a description.  These large, succulent shrimp are wonderfully breaded (don’t believe they’re fried, not sure though) in the most perfect mix of seasoned bread crumbs.  The real out-of-this-world part is the sauce.  Now, normally I am not a “sauce girl”.  I feel sauces usually just add empty and unnecessary calories to a dish that already tastes great.  So, if I am raving about a sauce/dip and practically slurping it up (i.e. this tzatiki sauce), you know it is awesome.  The sauce is a Beurre Blanc sauce- a wine and butter mixture- that is heaven to your mouth.  It is buttery and creamy without tasting too rich, and it pairs with the breaded shrimp beautifully.

Ultimately, this shrimp was so amazing that I can say without a doubt it is the best shrimp I have ever had.  Therefore, I will most definitely be adding this to my “Best Thing I Ever Ate” page.  And for those of you who would love to try this dish on a special night out at Mortons but can’t bear the thought of not getting a steak- worry not!  This dish is available as an appetizer!  But I warn you- an appetizer portion of this will be nothing more than a tease to your tastebuds.

I do have to mention that, surprisingly, the side dishes and desserts at Morton’s do not overly impress me (for $12 a pop).  We tried the potatoes au gratin (which has bacon although not stated on the menu- annoyance #1), the truffle fries (good but can get elsewhere), and the chocolate soufflé (good but can get elsewhere).  In my opinion, you go to Morton’s for the entrees, plain and simple.

I know some feel Valentine’s Day is a silly, commercialized holiday, but I am a sucker for it.  Even though we should treat our loved ones special every day of the year, realistically life gets busy and stressful and that doesn’t always happen as intended.  Valentine’s Day is a good reminder to relax, appreciate the important ones in your life (significant other, parents, friends, pets, yourself), and most important of all, eat chocolate and drink wine!

My Valentine & I (photo not taken on Vday)

My Valentine & I (photo not taken on Vday)

All my favorites

All my favorites

How sweet was it of Ryan to get me all my favorite candy.  Can you tell I like “red” flavors?  And dogs?

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Misha's Black Bottom Cupcake

Misha’s Black Bottom Cupcake

And no occasion would be complete without Misha’s Cupcakes (read about my obsession here).  We finally branched out and tried some new flavors.  This one is is a black bottom: chocolate cheesecake cupcake with buttercream frosting.  Yum.

Now that is what I call one sweet day!

How did you all spend your Valentines Day?  What delicious treats did you eat?

Cornbread Panzanella Salad w/ Blackened Shrimp

Tonight for dinner I accomplished many things: 1) I tried a new restaurant 2) ordered something unique 3) ordered something healthy 4) ordered something delicious.  These 4 simple goals are not easy to come by, believe me!  This cornbread panzanella salad with shrimp from The Floridian in St. Augustine served all my purposes and left me one happy camper.

For those of you not familiar with Florida geography, St. Augustine is about 4.5 hours north of where I live.  I am here [by myself] for one night to attend a Board of Pharmacy conference tomorrow morning.  What is a girl to do who is alone in a new city with only a few hours to spare?  Three things come to my mind: eat delicious local food, explore, and shop.  Shopping was out of the question because besides the fact that I am broke, I have no interest in buying “colonial” hats, I <3 St. Augustine t-shirts, or magnets with a lighthouse on them.  I explored as much of the historic town as I could, but I arrived at 4:30 and was limited to the few sites still open.  By 7 pm, I was left with one option and one option only: EAT!

After performing a very thorough search of St. Augustine restaurants and eateries, and consulting Yelp, Urbanspoon, and the like, I decided to try this restaurant called The Floridian.  This place was totally my kind of spot: cozy, homey, outdoor seating available, and decorated with local beachy trinkets in the cute, not tacky way.

This place is known for lots of gluten free and vegetarian options, as well as their seafood, but they have plenty of things for everyone on the menu.  Everything here is made with locally grown/raised/made  produce/meats/cheeses, which I find so wonderful.  I had a hard time deciding what to get, but I was in the mood for something on the lighter side, so I opted for the Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp.

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

Cornbread Panzanella Salad with Blackened Shrimp

If you are not familiar with a panzanella salad, it is typically made with croutons (preferably home-made), tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, and mozzarella cheese with a vinaigrette type dressing.  The main caveat  being that there is no lettuce or leafy vegetable included.  The panzanella salad I got tonight had many twists to it.  They used cornbread to make the croutons, there was fresh arugula included, I opted to add blackened shrimp, and they served it with a homemade basil-buttermilk dressing.  Additionally, the salad included heirloom tomatoes, strips of red bell pepper, and freshly made tomme cheese.

The salad was really great.  Everything, from the produce to the cheese to the bread, tasted so fresh!   The cornbread added such a sweet taste and comforting aspect to the meal.  The only downside to using cornbread is that it naturally does not get as crispy as other bread types.  Not to say that it was soggy, but it was definitely softer than expected.  The shrimp was a bit on the salty side in my opinion, but still tasty.  Lastly, I prefer the traditional vinegerette to the buttermilk dressing they used (and I forgot to ask for it on the side), but that is just my personal preference.

Because this was a “me” night (did I mention the glass of wine I enjoyed?), dessert was a requirement.  I knew from the moment I walked in and spotted the homemade pecan caramel bars that I would be ordering one, and that is exactly what I did.

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

Pecan Caramel Bars with Whipped Cream

My foodie experience at the Floridian in St. Augustine was wonderful.  It made this undesirable, lonely trip way better.  I would definitely recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area, as well as the specific dishes I ordered.

Now, it’s off to bed for an early conference in the morning.  If only the complimentary breakfast were half as exciting as my dinner tonight.  A girl can dream!

XO

The Reset Button: Best Blackened Salmon

Don’t you wish there was just a magic button that you could press that would wipe away all of your excess indulgences from the week (Fresh Market chocolate chunk cookies, I’m talking to you)…

Well, there is no such button but I have found a meal that is so incredibly healthy and delicious that it comes pretty close.  A few bites of this dish and you honestly feel less guilty about those extra few (five) cookies.

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I present blackened salmon with roasted veggies.  For the blackening seasoning on the salmon, I use a mix of brown sugar and blackening seasoning.  Honestly, the first time we made this dish, Ryan was in charge of experimenting with the ratios of brown sugar to blackening seasoning, and he got it SPOT ON.  So, I had to consult him on the “recipe” for this rub.

Blackened Salmon Rub

  • 2 parts Old Bay Seasoning
  • 2 parts Blackened Seasoning
  • 1 part Brown Sugar

Combine all ingredients in a bowel and dust liberally on salmon (skinless side only) before grilling.

This rub is SO flavorful it erases any and all fishy taste and you just get a pop of sweet and spicy.  This salmon dish replaced our Asian glazed salmon as Ryan’s new favorite, a task that has been impossible ever since I convinced him to eat salmon two years ago.  That is how you know its a winner.

To accompany the salmon I had some left over roasted veggies from last night, which were just as great the next day.

This dinner was healthy, tasty, and fresh- what more could you ask for?

Besides a chocolate chunk cookie, which I did in fact have :)

What is your favorite way to prepare salmon?

Veggies Saved The Dinner

So last night I finally made a recipe I have had my eyes on for a while- a lightened up creamy cajun shrimp pasta from the ELR blog.

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Even though it is “lightened up”, it is still relatively heavy since it uses cream and regular pasta.  I prefer to save heavy comforting meals for Sunday because I just feel that Sunday nights are about relaxing and savoring the last bits of the weekend.  So, I figured last night was the perfect time to try what I imagined to be a luscious, decadent, flavorful pasta dish.

Boy was I wrong.  This dish was a huge disappointment.  The sauce was extremely thin and the recipe lacked flavor.  I couldn’t even taste the cream in the dish, and if I am adding almost 50% saturated fat to a meal, it better provide flavor!  I almost never cook with cream so I was looking forward to an indulgence with this meal.  The only thing I kept thinking about was all of the other, better meals I could be eating.  I kept imagining a big plate of fettuccini alfredo, penne alla vodka, or my chicken in a pastry (recipe to come).  Isn’t that the worst?  When you are just so excited for a meal you have been wanting to try and it is a total dud!?

Now, here’s the kicker.  What actually saved this meal were the roasted veggies I made.  Although these are some pretty tasty veggies, what does it say when the side dish (vegetables none the less) is the star of the show?  My point exactly.  Either way, I made roasted potatoes, carrots, and brussel sprouts coated lightly in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and sprinkled with some fresh rosemary.  They turned out fantastic- flavorful, tender, and slightly crisp on the outside.  The only mild disappointment here was that the fresh rosemary added slightly less flavor than I thought it would.  Perhaps I will add more next time around.

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And so is another day in the kitchen.  Even though the cajun pasta was a disappointment, I am still glad that I tried it.  Not every dish can be a winner, and now there is more room in my recipe binder for other things.  On to the next!

Im curious, since this was my first time roasting vegetables, what is your favorite combination/method of roasting veggies?