Dijon-Herb Crusted Salmon with Creamy Dill Sauce

I love salmon.  I find myself ordering it when we’re out and about but I rarely cook it at home.  I decided this week that this needed to change.  Not only is salmon delicious but it’s incredibly healthy and full of protein and omega-3 fatty acids.

Big Guy has been traveling this week for work so on Monday night I had a solo dinner date with the most delicious dijon-herb crusted salmon with a creamy dill sauce.  This recipe came together fast and had so much flavor.

The salmon is seasoned with salt and pepper before being baked for 10 minutes.  While the salmon is baking, prepare the dijon-herb crust.  The panko topping includes crunchy panko (I used gluten-free breadcrumbs), fresh herbs (I used thyme and basil), EVOO and dijon mustard.  I also prepped the dill sauce while the salmon was baking.  Simply mix together 2% Greek yogurt, fresh dill, a little milk and a splash of red wine vinegar.

When the salmon is done cooking, evenly divide the panko mixture on top of each piece and press gently to adhere.  Broil for about 1 minute.

Serve the salmon with a dollop of the creamy dill sauce.

dijonherbsalmon

On the side I enjoyed some roasted tomatoes that I threw on the baking sheet with the salmon and added a little EVOO, salt and pepper plus herbs.

I absolutely adored the crunchy herb topping and you must make the dill sauce that gives the dinner a lot of freshness and creaminess.

Salmon for the win.

{virtual} coffee chat

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If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that we’re a day late – because yesterday was National Coffee Day.  Thankfully I celebrate every day.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about my “personal” day.  You see, I woke up on Monday morning at my usual 4:17am wake-up call and my body just wasn’t happy.  I didn’t feel well and took myself back to bed (this has maybe happened 3 times in the past 5 years).  I woke up planning to head to work and I just decided I needed a personal day.  I did laundry, I baked a cake, a finished a book, I did 45 minutes of Pi-Yo for my workout, I drank hot tea, I watched “my” shows…  It was glorious.  And guess what, I don’t feel guilty at all.

book

If we were having coffee this morning…I tell you that I really enjoyed Jennifer Weiner’s latest book but I didn’t enjoy the ending.  I won’t spoil it for anyone but it’s not the “fairy tale” ending.  (p.s. that picture was not taken Monday – it was dreary and rainy all day long.)

If we were having coffee this morning…I would urge you to make your own garden herb salt.  I made some a couple of weeks ago and the herb flavor only intensifies with time and it’s so simple yet so delicious.  My favorite is sprinkling it over eggs.

goat chz

If we were having coffee this morning…I would beg you to order this cheese.  We used it on a pizza on Sunday and holy yum.  Absolutely incredible.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you how to recreate this amazing pizza.  Like seriously – it’s so good.  First it’s homemade dough.  Duh.  Then I crisped up some bacon.  But don’t get rid of the bacon fat.  Oh, no, no, no.  Use the bacon fat to caramelize your onions.  Yes, yes, yes.  I sliced up two sweet onions and over low heat I caramelized them for 25 minutes or so.  At the very end, I added a little butter (because it was Sunday) and a tablespoon of brown sugar.  Smear the caramelized onions over the top of the dough.  Add freshly shredded mozzarella and the bacon.  Then you add the goat cheese.  I used about 4 ounces of the goat cheese and just made sure I got a little bit all over the pizza.  Bake until well, it looks like that above and then sprinkle with parsley for a little pop of freshness.  I can’t even deal.

If we were having coffee this morning…Speaking of not being able to deal, have you heard that selfies have killed more people than sharks this year?  Insane.  Funny and sad – all at the same time.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I hope I don’t have to go another year without seeing Nat.  We met up on Sunday for lunch in Raleigh at Mura.  We both enjoyed a salad and then split these two rolls.  So good.  But even better to see her.

If we were having coffee this morning…We would do a “no rain” dance.  I can’t take any more.  After being in the rain for over 8 hours on Saturday, I.am.over.it.  I took the rain like a champ on Saturday but I really can’t do another Saturday like that.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would talk about our upcoming weekend.  Logan, my youngest brother, is coming to visit!  He and Big Guy have big plans for golf (hence the “no rain” dance) and I have an EPIC weekend of eats planned.  Oh, and I am getting a massage on Saturday.  Ohhhh, la la.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would hug you tight and leave you with this:

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Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini

Strawberry season has arrived in Eastern North Carolina.  And that makes me so happy.

I haven’t been able to pick-my-own yet (perhaps this weekend?!?!) but a good friend at the gym brought my some strawberries from his sisters farm last Friday and I couldn’t wait to eat them.

Super sweet and absolutely delicious on their own but when I was trying to think of an appetizer I couldn’t help but want to use the succulent strawberries.

strawbs

Strawberry Goat Cheese Crostini is incredibly easy but so delicious.  Sweet strawberries are tossed with balsamic vinegar and allowed to marinate for about 10 minutes.  While the strawberries are soaking up acidic flavors, toast your crostini.  I sliced a ciabatta baguette, drizzled with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper before baking at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Once they were nice and crunchy, a slathered on the tangy goat cheese and topped with a couple of the balsamic strawberry slices.   The final touch with a sprinkling of spicy globe basil from the garden (by the way, it’s National Herb Week!) and flaky sea salt.

The sea salt takes it over the top.

Sweet, tangy, salty and crunchy.

Appetizer heaven.

strawbs2

I dare you to just eat one.

Tuscan-Style Garlic-Herb Pork Chops

These just might be the easiest pork chops I’ve ever made.

But they don’t taste it.  In fact, their bursting with flavor from the fresh herbs and garlic that the cooked pork chops rest in while you prepare the side bean salad.

I was a little skeptical at the cooking method when I first picked the recipe but I figured it wouldn’t hurt to try something new.

And I was very pleased.

Bone-in pork chops are seasoned with salt and pepper and then seared in a cast-iron (or grilled) until cooked through.  As soon as they are done cooking, they are placed in a mixture of olive oil and herbs that they marinate in while you throw together the side dish.

In the herb mixture:  parsley, sage, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper and garlic.  It is amazing how much flavor the cooked pork picks up from resting in this herbaceous mix.

On the side, a simple white bean salad with sliced spinach, lemon zest and juice, green onions and olives.

On the table in about 20 minutes, this is a fabulous pork recipe for any night of the week.

I typically don’t cook with olives because Big Guy isn’t a fan – but he probably wouldn’t have noticed had I not pointed them out.  They add the perfect amount of brininess to the dish.

I’ve always adored white beans but I love them even more with fresh herbs and bright lemon zest.

Simple, satisfying and even fancy if you serve it with a glass of red wine.

 

2014 Summer Bucket List {check-in time}

My summer will unofficially end in two weeks.  It seems like the unofficially start of summer was just yesterday.  That means that I have two weeks to complete my 2014 Summer Bucket List.

This post is a check-in.  I need to know what exactly I have to accomplish before the end of August 29th.  Because once the Pirates kick-off on August 30th, my summer is over.

Use fresh herbs from the garden as much as possible, especially in cocktails.  CHECK!

I have been so good about using all the produce in the garden this year.  I have started to give away some tomatoes but I’m also eating them by the handful.  Hopefully our fall garden does well and I won’t have to say goodbye to homegrown produce just yet.  Look at my spinach growing (below) – I can’t wait to be able to make huge salads for lunch right from my backyard.

Read five books.  The One and Only by Emily Griffin is on the list.

I am almost finished with Save the Date and I know this will be finished before the weekend is over.  I’ve also read Wild, Fault in Our Stars and Ladies’ Night.  I better purchase The One and Only pretty fast since I only have two weeks left of summer.

Take a last minute weekend trip with Big Guy.  We’re not spontaneous enough in life. CHECK!

Probably the most fun item to check off the list.  I will never forget our weekend in Savannah.  In fact, it may be in the top 5 weekends ever.  It was amazing and exactly what we needed this summer.

Experiment with gin.  Because I can put cucumbers and mint in my drink with gin. CHECK!

I’ve tried a couple of recipes with gin and I’ve also ventured out and ordered a gin cocktail a few times this summer.  It’s so refreshing!

Make homemade ice cream.  Twice. CHECK!

Plan our next BIG vacation. 

This is currently in the works.  2015 is going to be amazing when it comes to us and traveling.

Enjoy cookouts gatherings with friends. CHECK!

We’ve enjoyed everything from double-dates to brunches to a girls weekend at the beach.  We even have a fun night planned with friends for tonight.  We have some of the best friends here and we always have a blast.

Make a trashy and/or gourmet hot dog and call it dinner.

This is totally happening on Sunday and I am more excited than should be allowed.

Plan a fun weekend with family at our house. CHECK!

While we never had a huge group at our house, we did manage to have my parents in town one weekend and then my sister another weekend.  We were also blessed to spend some time with family at OIB last month.

  

So here’s my to-do list for the next two weeks:

Read.

Finalize a few vacation plans for 2015.

Eat a hot dog.

That’s the most fun (and random) to-do list I’ve ever had.

Louisville Hot Brown

Sometimes in life you aren’t willing to accept knock-offs.

Windex
Lilly Pulitzer prints
Bacon
Charmin toilet paper

But sometimes the “knock-off” is just as good as the original.

Like a Louisville Hot Brown.  (if you’re from Louisville, and you are a die-hard fan of hot browns, I mean no harm.  simply stop reading this now.)

The original hot brown was first created at the Brown Hotel in Louisville in 1926 and was created to serve as an alternative to ham and egg late-night suppers.

A hot brown is an oven-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon, that is covered in a Mornay sauce and broiled until the bread is crisped and the sauce is browned.

My version is very much the same.  Except for the Mornay sauce.

Typically a Mornay sauce is made with lots and lots of cheese.  But not this one.

This sauce is actually made with cauliflower that is steamed and then pureed with milk, butter and cheese.

The cauliflower has the consistency of a rich, decadent sauce but without all the calories.

Winner.

Especially on a week night.

hot brown2

No flavor was sacrificed for this lightened-up version.  I used pre-sliced turkey from the deli (an added short-cut from the recipe) and real bacon.

Yes, real bacon.  I don’t believe in turkey bacon.

Piled high, and topped with tomatoes and herbs for freshness, this sandwich won’t make you feel guilty.

hot brown

I can handle this knock-off.

 

 

 

Herbaceous Grilled Pork Tenderloin {plus a tomato salad with avocado and onion}

This dinner couldn’t be any easier.  Especially if you have an herb garden.  And a husband to do the grilling.

Knowing that I had a pork tenderloin in the freezer and lots of herbs growing right outside my back door, when I saw Herbaceous Grilled Pork Tenderloin I knew it would be a mistake not to make this easy dinner.

Simply marinate the pork in a mixture of lemon juice and olive oil along with your herbs.

Chives
Thyme
Rosemary

If you don’t have those herbs, use what you have.  Oregano would be great with this dish.

Let the flavors really deepen by allowing it to rest at room temperature for 20 minutes before grilling.

Once it’s ready to hit the grill, remove from the marinade (discard the remaining marinade) and season liberally with salt.

Grill until it’s cooked to your liking.

herb pork

 

Once the pork was removed from the grill, I prepared the salad.  Make sure to let your pork rest – that let’s all the juices redistribute so that you don’t lose them when you slice the tenderloin.

I was inspired by this salad but I deviated from the recipe a little.

In a bowl, I tossed together halved tomatoes from the garden, thinly sliced red onion and avocado chunks.

To season, I used salt and pepper plus a sprinkle of cayenne pepper and basil leaves.

tom and avo

The end result was nothing less than perfection.  Like, if summer could taste like something – this is it.

my plate

Seriously, please don’t let summer be winding down.

I don’t want to say farewell to the produce.

Or eating outside.