Every August like clockwork I get completely burned out with cooking. It’s always been a weird phenomenon with me and I honestly can’t explain it. Personally I think it’s just the end of the hot summer season that stops all my passion, I’m ready for fall food but the temps are still hot and I’m over it. Occasionally I’ll get the same feeling late winter but nothing like August, August is epic. Ok, so you’re wondering why I’m telling you this right? We all get bored at times in the kitchen and lack the will power. We still need to eat and we can’t eat every meal at a restaurant, so what do we do? Cook super easy recipes that require no effort, of course!
Here I am ready to share one of my favorite, easy, no brainer recipes…my spicy maple salmon recipe. It takes just 5 easy to find ingredients, marinates an hour, and cooks just minutes in the oven. Pair that with a simple green salad and you’re good to go!
Seriously, this could not be easier! I just throw maple syrup, spicy sriracha, a little garlic powder, and low sodium soy sauce in a bag. Toss in the with salmon, marinate an hour, cook, and boom done! It’s so easy even those who can’t deal with dinner can do this. It’s perfect for my August cooking burn out or just a quick weeknight meal.
We’ve used Frank’s buffalo sauce in place of the sriracha before with mediocre results… seriously don’t be afraid of the sriracha sauce, it adds a punch that nothing else can without being too spicy.
I don’t know about you but any time I put a marinade together in a bag it always falls over. I mean like always! It looks stable on the counter and as soon as I turn my back it falls and all the liquid spills out. So now without a doubt I always set my marinade bags in a bowl for stability. By the way if you’re out of resealable bags you can also marinate in a bowl, just make sure everything is evenly covered.
Toss in the marinade ingredients, add the salmon, then seal and shake. Place it back in the refrigerator for about an hour then boom you’re ready for the oven.
Just a few notes, I always use low sodium soy sauce. I’m a salty girl, I love salt… my last name is Salter after all, but I honestly can’t do full sodium soy sauce, it’s just too intense. I recommend you also use low sodium but that’s up to you. I also recommend you use skin on salmon, it can be frozen or fresh but having the skin on adds so much flavor and moisture. I never do skinless! Feel free to add a few sliced green onions if you have them on hand, it makes things fancy! You can find this amazingly easy recipe below but keep reading to find a few more of my recipe tips.
In a ziploc bag combine maple syrup, soy sauce, sriracha sauce, and garlic powder.
Add the salmon filets to the bag, close and shake to combine.
Place the salmon in the refrigerator and let marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Pre-heat the oven to 425° and line a rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Place the salmon on the pan skin side down and bake 7-9 minutes.
The first time you make this recipe you’ll definitely want to watch the cook time. Salmon is a bit like steak, some like it rare, others more done. You can also marinate it a bit longer but I’ve never gone more than 90 minutes. Sometimes I’ll cook a whole salmon and of course that takes a bit longer, a good 20-25 minutes. However I am cooking at a high altitude which means a longer cook time so keep an eye on it the first time for the best results.
Pair this spicy maple salmon with some rice and a simple arugula salad and you’re good to go! In the summer we make this salmon recipe all the time, along with my asian sesame salmon both are perfect satisfying meals. It’s delicious and healthy! Am I the only one who gets August cooking burn out? Please tell me no. Or maybe you have another month where you’re so over being in the kitchen? Do tell, I’d love to know. I do have another easy “I can’t stand to cook another meal ever again” recipe that I’ll be sharing soon. It’s rich and beefy and cooks in the slow cooker. Another perfect meal whether you’re just busy or you’re waiting on your cooking passion to come back.
Got any cooking tips or ideas for when you just can’t deal for whatever reason? Share them in the comments below. Happy end of summer!
Any queso fans out there? Yeah… I thought so. Queso has always been our family’s biggest weakness. We just can’t say no to it. I mean who can resist melty gooey cheese over a crunchy salty tortilla chip? Over the years I’ve made tons of different queso recipes and I’ve always cringed at some of the ingredients that go in. Cream of mushroom soup? Yeah, once upon a time I was guilty of that, creamy yes, but it doesn’t belong in queso! I’ve always had issues with Velveeta as well… I’m sorry to all the Velveeta fans out there but unwrapping that orange gelatinous brick of manufactured cheese just grosses me out… I mean it doesn’t even require refrigeration!
With this slow cooker white queso dip we’re getting back to the basics with real cheese! It’s incredibly easy to make and I’m proud to say it’s our family’s new favorite queso recipe!
In this recipe we use pepper jack cheese, sharp white cheddar, and white American cheese. I know american cheese is processed too but we’re using a small amount and it’s not artificially colored, so I consider that an overall improvement.
Crazy fact, did you know all cheese is naturally white and it’s colored orange to be more aesthetically pleasing? We learned that while touring a cheese factory in Wisconsin years ago.
Along with the cubed cheese, we finish the recipe with a brick of cream cheese, garlic powder, milk, and mild verde salsa! Yeah baby! Herdez is our verde salsa of choice and the mild gives the perfect amount of heat.
Cream cheese will always be my guilty pleasure, I can eat it straight out of the wrapper! I prefer full fat because that’s how I roll, feel free to use 2%, just not fat free. Cook one hour on high or 2 hours on low. Whisk until smooth and then devour it!
4ozwhite American cheese (we used Kraft Deluxe Slices)
1/2cupmild salsa verde (we used Herdez)
1-2jalapeno peppers for garnish, chopped, with seeds removed
Add all the ingredients to a slow cooker except for the jalapeno garnish.
Cover and cook on low 2 hours, or high for 1 hour, until melted. Stir until smooth.
Serve with chips and jalapeno garnish.
We love how this queso tastes like real cheese. It’s smooth, creamy, and full of flavor but it still has the slightest bit of cheese grit… reminding us real cheese was used. Don’t skip on the jalapeño garnish either, once seeded you remove most of the heat and it adds a burst of fresh flavor.
I always make a double batch since we’re queso addicts here. You can refrigerate any leftovers, just microwave till hot, and add a little milk to thin it out if needed. Another favorite is serving this queso over grilled chicken or broccoli, it’s seriously delicious!
We’re less than a week away from July 4th and I wanted to share my delicious red, white, and blue trifle dessert with you. This trifle is an absolute favorite dessert of ours all through the summer but especially for our 4th of July celebrations. Years ago, and I mean years, I bought this gorgeous trifle bowl at a Southern Living Home party. I’d never made a trifle before but I was mesmerized by this cute little dish.
Sadly after receiving it my trifle journey didn’t start. Nope, I tucked it away and completely forgot all about it until one day I found it buried in the back of a cabinet. Feeling sad for my poor little trifle bowl, I made it a mission to fulfill its destiny by making as many different trifle desserts as possible. We’ve made every combination you can think of, but this stunning red, white, and blue trifle is a true summer favorite.
It’s light and fresh, making it perfect for a hot summer day. Made with a store bought angel food cake it’s also a breeze to assemble! You may think this is just a basic angel food and whipped cream dessert with strawberries and blueberries but it is not. Adding just a few more simple ingredients takes this trifle dessert from good to WOW! It’s like magic.
If you’ve ever eaten a store bought angel food cake you probably know they don’t taste the best. Brushing the store bought angel food cake with an easy-to-make lemon sugar syrup transforms it into something magical. Yes, you can absolutely make your own angel food cake if time allows, just don’t skimp on the lemon sugar syrup!
Besides the delicious syrup the other secret to this amazing dessert is the cream cheese. The cream cheese takes this fruit trifle to a new level with its rich creaminess, plus the cream cheese stabilizes the whipped cream so it won’t turn runny. When preparing sliced strawberry desserts consider using a strawberry slicer, it’s a great timesaver!
1pre-made angel food cake, sliced into 1 inch slices
28 ozcontainers of cream cheese, softened
2cupsheavy cream, room temperature
2pintsstrawberries, rinsed and sliced
2 pintsbluberries, rinsed
To Prepare the Lemon Syrup
Heat 1/4 cup of sugar, water, and lemon juice in a small sauce pan over medium heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Let cool.
To Prepare the Trifle
Brush both sides of the pound cake with the lemon syrup. Then cut the slices in into 1 inch cubes.
With an electric mixer beat the cream cheese with 2/3 cup of sugar on medium speed until light and smooth. Add the cream and beat on medium-high until it's the consistency of whipped cream.
Arrange half of the cake cubes into a trifle dish, then layer half of the blueberries, spoon half of the cream mixture, followed by half of the strawberries. Repeat the layers one more time, ending with the strawberries and adding extra blueberries for garnish if desired.
Up on a pedestal a pretty trifle demands attention. It’s such a pretty dessert isn’t it? Not only is it pretty but it’s so easy to make and looks amazing on my blue and white tablecloth – and it’s under $10! My trifle dish is pretty ancient and no longer sold but below I’ve found some gorgeous affordable trifle dishes below and all are under $40.
Don’t hide your trifle bowl in a cabinet and forget all about it like I did. It’s too pretty and versatile to stash it away! Use it to serve salads, salsa, and other dips… you can even decorate with it. Use it as a fruit bowl or to hold candy, potpourri, or other decorative items! Take care and have a happy safe 4th of July!
Happy Saturday! June came hard and fast, bringing an interesting mix of weather. We’ve had cold days plus rain, sleet, and hail, and then those freaking HOT days! The weather in Colorado flip-flops a lot, and here I thought Texas was bad! Regardless of the crazy weather, it seems to always be hot when we’re doing outdoor projects, and with outdoor projects you naturally want some refreshing summer drinks.
As much as I wish I could drink chilled coffee drinks and wine all day on summer days (#goals right?), I also need to hydrate so I don’t shrivel up like a raisin. This watermelon mint tea is so light and refreshing, it’s a perfect hydrating summer drink! I kinda came up with it by accident and I’m excited to share it with you.
I’ve been a longtime fan of mint tea whether it’s hot or cold, and quite often in the summer we have a watermelon sitting on the kitchen counter. So why not combine them? Making watermelon juice sounds complicated but I promise it isn’t! Before juicing the watermelon I suggest you brew the mint tea and let it cool so the ice doesn’t melt too fast and dilute all the great flavors. You can always make the tea in advance and chill the tea in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.
If you haven’t had watermelon juice before you’re in for a real treat, it’s incredibly delicious and hydrating! Filled with vitamins A, B6, and C, lots of lycopene, antioxidants, and amino acids, it’s also incredibly healthy!
Once the tea is prepared, slice up the watermelon into medium sized chunks and just throw it in a blender or food processor. You’ll want two cups of strained juice for this recipe so blend and repeat the process until you have at least 3 cups. Once you strain the watermelon you’ll loose a bit of volume, so you’ll want to account for that. You can also just juice the entire watermelon, watermelon juice is so delicious I know you’ll want extra!
I find the delicate taste of the watermelon to add the perfect amount of sweetness to the tea, if you prefer sweeter tea feel free to add a little sugar to the tea while it’s still warm.
Strain the pureed watermelon using a mesh strainer over a bowl, you can gently scrape the bottom of the strainer with a spoon to speed this process up. You’ll know when all the liquid is strained out when the remaining contents in the strainer resemble a thick applesauce. Combine equal parts of the mint tea and watermelon juice, add ice garnish with a sprig of mint, and you’re good to go!
As long as you strain the watermelon it shouldn’t matter if you use a seedless watermelon or one with seeds. Find the recipe below.
Brew the mint tea bags with 2 cups of water, and let cool.
Meanwhile, prepare the watermelon for juicing. Slice the watermelon into medium sized chunks, filling the blender about 2/3 of the way full. Blend until smooth, adding more watermelon chunks if necessary until you reach at least 3 cups.
Place a mesh strainer over a bowl and pour the watermelon juice through the strainer, stirring with a spoon to strain.
Once you've reached 2 cups of strained watermelon juice, combine the juice and tea in a pitcher, and stir to mix.
When ready to serve, pour into 2 glasses over ice, and garnish with mint if desired.
Warm summer days call for this healthy refreshing drink! We’re working on our back deck today and tomorrow, I’m hoping we can finish most of it this weekend. Whether we do or don’t I can guarantee we will be sipping on some watermelon mint iced tea! If you come up with any watermelon tea variations I’d love to hear them. Have a great weekend, stay happy and hydrated!
When life gives you lemons head to the kitchen! You can turn it around by making these yummy lemon white chocolate scones! Yep… I’m still on my lemon kick. This self isolation is making me a bit loopy, and the best therapy for me is cooking or baking. Since our house is still overflowing with lemons I decided we should bake some lemony treats. Recently while going through my old recipe box I said “Hey Ash, let’s bake some lemon scones”. “What are scones?” she asked. Suddenly guilt ran through my body. I had failed in my job as a mother, my 16 year old daughter who loves food, baking, has been in countless bakeries, and traveled throughout England and Ireland doesn’t know what a scone is? What kind of Mother am I? Ok… see, this isolation is making me lose it!
Scones remind me of a cross between a biscuit and soft cookie. They are moist and soft on the inside, and the outside has delicious crumbly edges. Scones might seem a little fussy to make but honestly they aren’t. The key to making successful scones is to keep the ingredients as cold as possible, especially the butter, and to not overwork the dough. If this is your first time making scones or you haven’t been successful in the past, have no fear I’ve got a few easy tips to share.
TIPS TO GET THE BEST SCONES
You want all your ingredients cold. With a lot of baking it’s good to let your ingredients warm to room temperature, but not with scones.
Place the amount of cold butter you need on a small plate, chop it into pieces, and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes. You can also measure out the dry ingredients and place them into the freezer as well, this ensures everything stays cold.
Blend the flour and butter mixture until it resembles sand. When you pick it up and squeeze it between your fingers it should be cohesive, a little like moon sand, if you know what that is.
Scone dough is delicate so it’s very important not to overwork the dough, just pat it together into a ball, then a circle, and stop.
Altitude, humidity, and temperature can affect baked goods, sometimes I need to add a little extra milk. Should your scone dough be too dry to form into a ball, add a few extra teaspoons at a time of COLD milk until the dough comes together. Take care not to over-wet the dough, it should look a bit crumbly.
Rest the dough 20 minutes in the refrigerator so the butter pockets stay nice and cold.
To make this recipe easier I use a food processor, I use it for everything! You can go old school and blend the ingredients with a pastry blender or even two forks, just be aware it will take longer.
Follow these easy tips and you’ll have delicious scones in no time!
Pulling the scones apart before baking helps create a crumbly edge, if you prefer softer edges keep them closer together.
I like to finish with a simple glaze made of powdered sugar and lemon juice. Don’t skimp on the glaze, it’s the best part. A bit tart on it’s own, but it’s bursting with fresh lemon flavor and makes for an incredible scone!
WHY USE PARCHMENT PAPER?
I love the ease of using parchment paper, it protects my baking sheets and makes clean up a breeze. You can go without, but be aware scones tend to brown a bit more on the bottom when not using parchment paper.
CAN YOU FREEZE SCONES?
Yes you can! I recommend that if you plan to freeze them, do it before before baking, not after. Follow the steps by slicing the scone circle into equal slices on the baking sheet. Pull the slices apart and freeze on the baking sheet 4-5 hours until frozen solid. Then place the scones in a freezer bag, or you can individually wrap them and freeze. If you bake them from frozen, increase the cooking time 5-10 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk milk, lemon juice, eggs, vanilla extract, and lemon zest in small bowl.
In a food processer combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Pulse several times to blend.
Add cold butter and pulse until the mixture resembles sand.
Transfer the butter mixture to a seperate bowl and add the wet ingredients, stir just until the dough comes together. Then stir in the white chocolate chips.
Gently form the dough into a ball. The dough will be crumbly, if it's too dry to form a ball add a few teaspoons of cold milk until the dough comes together. Take care not to overwork the dough. Stop once you can form a ball.
Place the dough on the parchment-lined baking sheet and with your fingers press the dough into a 1 inch thick circle.
Place the baking sheet with the dough into the refrigerator to chill 20 minutes.
With a knife, cut the dough circle into triangles. Then seperate the triangles until they're about 1 inch apart.
Bake 20-25 minutes or until the scones rise and are golden. Remove the scones from the oven and place on a wire rack until cool.
While the scones are cooling, combine powdered sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk until smooth.
Drizzle the glaze over the scones and serve.
I have redeemed myself. I’m so glad to share that Ashley now knows the importance of a proper scone and how to make them.
The scones are best served fresh, they tend to dry out a little the next day but they’re still delicious. Store leftovers in an airtight container for up to 3 days. These scones taste so light and refreshing, lemons and white chocolate just go so good together, ya know? YUM!
Let’s talk food. Simple, easy, and affordable food! I want to share with you my Creamy Lemon Pasta with Green Peas, a delicious pasta recipe that you can make in 20 minutes or less with just a few simple ingredients. I don’t know about you, but I always have several bags of green peas in the freezer. I find so many uses for them in recipes. They add lots of nutrition, a cheerful pop of color, and are easy on the budget.
You can use any kind of pasta you like but I prefer egg noodles, they’re so comforting and delicious! With all the corona panic, our grocery store shelves have been pretty bare, especially in the pasta section. Luckily we’ve had plenty of egg noodles in stock and they’re my favorite!
I usually buy the biggest bags of frozen peas I can find and I store them in large freezer bags. So whenever I need a small amount of peas I just scoop a little out here and there. My daughter has always been a big green pea lover, she adds them to her eggs and even eats them frozen. I love them too!
In this recipe it’s best to use thawed green peas so they’ll cook faster, but if you’re like me you might forget. No worries, just run the frozen peas a few minutes in a colander under cool water and they thaw pretty fast. You can also use canned peas as well.
Fresh lemon juice really makes this recipe sing, so you’ll need two good size lemons. I usually buy large quantities of lemons and keep them in the refrigerator so they last longer. We use them for everything from lemon water, salad dressings, cocktails, marinades, and yes, lemon bars! Lemons can be kept on the counter if you’ll be using them within a week, otherwise keep them in the refrigerator and they can last a good month, maybe more.
This recipe calls for lemon zest and juice. Be sure and zest your lemons first using a zester or a cheese grater. Then after juicing your lemons be sure to measure out the amount of juice you have before adding it to the recipe. I like using three tablespoons of juice, any more than that I find a bit overpowering. So don’t eyeball it, measure it out and adjust the taste to what you like.
As Julia Child once said, “If you’re afraid of butter use cream.” I love her to pieces… I keep heavy cream on hand at all times, it’s really versatile. However if you’re out of cream you can use butter at a reduced ratio with a little milk (not too much) and you should be good to go. Don’t forget to add a generous dose of freshly ground black pepper and a little parmesan to add even more flavor.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add noodles, stir, and cook according to package directions.
During the last 5 minutes of the pasta cooking combine cream, lemon zest, salt, and pepper into a small saucepan.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, add the green peas, and simmer for 2 minutes.
Drain noodles and return to the pot. Pour creamy mixture over noodles, add lemon juice, and stir to combine. Cook over low heat 1-2 minutes to absorb some of the liquid.
Taste for seasoning, adding extra salt of fresh ground pepper if needed.
Top with fresh parmesan cheese and serve immediately.
With the temperature starting to warm up, this light pasta dish is so fresh and satisfying. Plus it’s cheap, filling, and looks pretty! Things are stressful right now so relax, set the table pretty, and serve up this delicious lemony creamy pasta! With most or all of us trapped at home I’ll be focusing more on simple foods with minimal ingredients and small home projects that require little materials to lift our spirits. Take care!