Sunday, August 29, 2010

What's for Dinner?

I love to cook.  In fact, I cook about 5-6 nights per week.  From what I hear, that’s pretty rare these days.  Most people act really surprised when they find out that I cook so often.  I really enjoy it and I’m actually pretty good most of the time.  Sometimes I worry though that Kevin’s gotten so spoiled, if I ever stopped cooking, he might not stick around! 

The thing I like about cooking is experimenting with food and flavors.  In many ways cooking is a lot like design and decorating.  It’s all about marrying flavors and textures with a little bit of technique to create something harmonious and delicious.

The other thing I like about cooking is it’s much, much healthier than eating out or eating prepackaged foods.  Don’t get me wrong, I use boxed rice or pastas from time to time, but I try to marry them with fresh veggies and proteins whenever I can.  I don't own many cookbooks since you can find just about anything online these days, so I frequently use Google for recipe inspiration.  I have found however, that many recipes are really unhealthy, so I try to alter them to be my own healthier versions. 

Tonight we had Sweet and Tangy Glazed Salmon with roasted red potatoes and steamed mixed veggies.  I found the salmon glaze recipe below on

All Recipes Ingredients
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 1 1/2 cups brown sugar
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons dried dill weed
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 pound salmon fillets, with skin
  • lemon pepper to taste
This glaze is actually really bad for you.  It calls for 6 TBLS of butter and 1 ½ cups of brown sugar!  That’s A LOT of fat and sugar to put on a piece of fish

I tweaked the recipe and made it much healthier and still very delicious. 

See below for details and instructions.  (For best timing, prepare potatoes first and get them in the oven so that they are finished just in time for the salmon and veggies to be done.)

Salmon Glaze Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill weed
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons lite soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt

Glazed Salmon Directions 
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and mix in the brown sugar, lemon juice, dill, and cayenne pepper. Cook and stir until the brown sugar is dissolved.  Add lite soy sauce and salt.  Reduce heat and simmer until ready to brush onto the salmon.  
  2. Preheat a grill pan on stove med-high heat and coat with olive oil non-stick spray. 
  3. Trim, de-bone and prepare salmon.  Lightly season salmon with sea salt, pepper and onion powder and place directly on the grill, flesh side down. Lightly brush skin and sides of salmon with glaze while flesh side browns about 4 minutes.  Flip salmon onto skin side and brush frequently with the glaze.  Cook the salmon 10 minutes more, or until cooked through.

Roasted Red Potatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Chop 4 large red potatoes into small triangles and place in non-stick baking dish.
  3. Drizzle with 1/4-1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil and lightly sprinkle with sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and oregano.  Stir until all potatoes are well coated.
  4. Put potatoes in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown and crispy on one side.  (for best crisp do not stir potatoes once in the oven)

Steamed Mixed Veggies
  1. Boil water in steamer pot.
  2. Steam 1 cup frozen edamame in shells.
  3. Slice 1 large or 2 small zucchinis about a 1/4 inch thick.  Chop 1 cup broccoli.
  4. Remove edamame from steamer and add zucchini and broccoli to steamer pot.
  5. Remove edamame beans from shells and add back into steamer with other veggies.
  6. Steam until all are bright green and still have a slight crunch.
  7. If desired, sprinkle with a tiny bit of sea salt for flavor.

Dinner turned out really tasty and not heavy at all.  The salmon was sweet and smoky with a little heat from the cayenne and the oregano in the potatoes paired really nicely with the dill in the salmon glaze.

I hope you will try my version of Sweet and Tangy Glazed Salmon and let me know what you think.

Happy cooking!

Delicious Designs

Even though we are only renting our new house, I still find myself daydreaming about what our yard could be!  I recently came across this article from Sunset Magazine featuring some awe inspiring patios.  

I love the designer look of this patio.  The use of minimal plants, accented with warm, vibrant colors and textures makes the space feel luxurious and inviting.

The monochromatic use of plants in this quaint little space is really well executed and the various shades and tones of green and blue keep your eye bouncing around the yard.
The simplicity of this drought tolerant garden reminds me of home in northern CA.  It looks like a lovely place to relax with a glass of wine and a good friend.
Does this one really need an explanation?  I think not.  Love the letters!
Talk about a true extension of the home.  I would love to be invited to a party here.
The contrast of smooth and soft in this patio makes me want to play hopscotch!  I love the puzzle-like effect this look creates and it's a great way to reduce water usage.
This patio feels like San Diego.  The sailcloth brings movement to the space and colors are so classically desert.
See more beautiful patios here.

Grow Baby Grow

One of the things that I really enjoy about our new home is the garden.  Growing up my mom always had the most lovely, flourishing gardens and she taught me a lot about plants and gardening.  It's kind of fun now because I can call her for advice when one of my plants isn't doing well or for suggestions on what kinds of things will grow best in certain areas of the yard.  Her thumb is so green in fact that she actually still has a plant that someone gave her as a gift when I was born!  

Although my thumb is still a little more on the yellow-green side, I am learning a lot now that I have a yard to work in.  I've recently noticed a lot of adorable succulent gardens in magazines and decided that I would try my hand at making one of my own.  Living in San Diego succulents flourish everywhere you look, so finding free starters wasn’t a problem at all.  I actually had a pretty good variety right in my front yard.

To get started, I simply Googled "how to make a succulent garden" and I found this simple step-by-step guide on

Check it out:
How to Make a Dish Garden From Succulents

The process is actually pretty simple and because succulents hold water within their stems, leaves and roots they are really hardy, making them easy to transplant and pretty hard to kill.  

For my succulent garden, I had a couple of old pots from IKEA in my shed that I pulled out and cleaned up.   Since these pots don’t have holes in the bottom, I used layers of various size stones underneath the soil to help with drainage.  The most important tip to remember with succulents is not to over water them.  They are desert dwellers so if they get too much water it can actually cause them to rot.  Try to water them any time the top two inches of soil feels dry. 

Here is the final result.  I think they turned out pretty cute.  Now hopefully they will grow!

Happy Planting!