Brown-Sugar-Mustard-Glazed-Salmon with Edamame-Cauliflower Puree

TGIF! Okay, well, a day late. TGIS! In fact, TGITW (the weekend). Woo!

For real.

Bobby Flay did not steer me wrong. He hasn’t won Iron Chef 1580153 times for NOTHING.

A lot of my love for this recipe is for this little gem.

Crispy blackened salmon skin. Hardly anything gets better than that. Okay, well, maybe 100% dark chocolate chips in homemade mint chip banana soft serve… or Coach rainboots… or perfectly ripe avocado… or getting a handwritten letter/postcard in the mail… but I mean, crispy salmon skin is HIGH on the list.

And if you love crispy salmon skin in forms other than sushi (which, I have yet to try such a roll–AHHH!), then I recommend the following:

Brown Sugar Mustard Glazed Salmon with Edamame Cauliflower Puree

Adapted from Bobby Flay (Food Network)

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup dijon or spicy brown mustard

1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon minced ginger

4 salmon filets

vegetable oil for grilling

salt and pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan on medium heat, melt the butter with honey and brown sugar. Once melted, remove from heat and whisk in mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, minced ginger. Season to taste if desired, or add more soy sauce (I cut way back on the soy sauce and it was 100% delicious; however, feel free to peruse the original recipe).

Heat a grill pan on medium heat.

Rinse off the salmon if thawed from frozen-ness and pat dry. Spread vegetable oil on the skins. Once pan is hot, placed salmon skin-side down; spread mustard glaze over the flesh part. Save remaining glaze. Grill 6-8 minutes (it will splatter at you so use a mesh cover). Flip if desired, probably unnecessary, around 5-6 minutes in. The skin came off on mine but my dad and I feasted on the charred crispy skin (my mom gagged inwardly and happily dug in to the pink).

For edamame cauliflower

1 head cauliflower, washed and cut into small pieces, steamed until fork-tender

1/2 cup edamame beans, cooked

sprinkle of garlic powder

dash of salt and pepper

a few huge dollops of 0% Greek Yogurt (optional, for creaminess–you really don’t taste the tang at all!)

Using a handheld immersion blender or food processor, process everything until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. The result? A really yummy and protein-packed, low-carbohydrate alternative for mashed potatoes.

To serve, simply plate a filet, a bit of crispy salmon skin, some cauliflower puree, a spoonful of leftover glaze, and a small side salad with orange-yet-sweet grape tomatoes. Divine!

Am I a weirdo for liking salmon skin? Is it a half-Asian thing? My mom recoils at the thought but my dad (Chinese) has always eaten it and taught me to eat it too. I ain’t arguing. The skin is where the bulk of salmon’s healthy fats lie! Maybe it’s not that healthy to eat the skin that’s crisped to a black char but… it’s… so… yummy…

This dinner ROCKED. So good! The cauliflower edamame mash complimented the salmon well, and the glaze was perfect. I kept “taste-testing it” by the spoonful even prior to spreading it on the salmon (butter and brown sugar, can you really go wrong?) and it really couldn’t be easier to make this healthy, delicious, filling meal.

Sure beats meatloaf and potatoes any day. Well, meatloaf makes me  recoil in disgust; I guess we all have our loves and our hates.

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Raspberry Oatmeal Bars

… um… not much of a little story around these. Basically I had a small flat of raspberries from Costco that needed to be eaten, and a craving for a healthier, heartier baked-good that was still sweet and satisfying (man, I went to town on alliteration there).

These hit the spot.

Raspberry Oat Bars 

Adapted from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

2 cups fresh raspberries

1/4 cup agave nectar

1/4 cup water

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

2 tablespoons cornstarch + enough water to form a smooth paste (I did not have luck with this. Instead, I would add chia seeds because they can gelatinize and thicken the raspberry “jelly.”)

3 cups oatmeal (2.5 cups ground into flour via food processor, 1/2 cup whole rolled oats)

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (very necessary! yum!)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 oz apple sauce

6 oz agave nectar

6 tablespoons water

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 375°F and grease an 8×8 baking dish.

For the berries, combine the raspberries, agave nectar, and water in a small saucepan over medium high heat; bring to a boil. Stir in vanilla and cornstarch mix or chia seeds (when I added the cornstarch, it clumped up and I got to pick out clumps of cornstarch with a tiny spoon–please don’t repeat that… chia seeds will do the trick and will just taste like raspberry seeds!). Boil for about 10 minutes as it thickens and stir it occasionally; let cool at least 10 minutes.

Combine ground oats, non-ground oats, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt and mix well. Break out your new digital food scale and add the apple sauce, agave nectar, water, and vanilla and mix well.

Spread half the oatmeal batter into the 8×8 pan and smoosh to cover the bottom of the pan evenly. Spoon the raspberry filling on top. Sprinkle the rest of the batter in small pieces to cover the top (it will be impossible to literally spread the remaining oatmeal mixture on top of the raspberries).

Bake 30 minutes or until top is golden brown. Cool and then cut into bars.

If you’re looking for a dessert-dessert, well, these aren’t really that. If you are not used to the taste and texture of fat-free baking, you might find these off-putting (somewhat gummy in the oat part) but I liked them. Raspberries are my faveee and these make a good hearty breakfast-bar or afternoon snack. Full of fiber, antioxidants, protein from the oats… and if you used chia, omega 3s!

Avocado Pesto Pasta & Broccoli

Let’s just say I had to get used to what the leftovers look like after four people eat dinner rather than just three (my brother usually decides to heat up chicken flautas, make macaroni and cheese, or is just simply “out”). What do they look like? Very little.

Avocado Pesto Pasta & Broccoli

Adapted from Chloe Coscarelli

2 heads broccoli, chopped into bite-sized florets (and stems! they’re edible too!)

1 lb/16 oz spaghetti (linguine would have been better!)

2 avocados, peeled & cored

1 bunch basil leaves (I had about a cup but it could have used more)

1/2 cup pine nuts

juice of 1/2 a lemon

4 cloves garlic

1/2 cup olive oil

Nutritional yeats (optional, for a vegan cheesy flavor)

Pecorino romano (optional, for a non-vegan cheesy flavor)

sea salt, black pepper

In boiling water, cook broccoli until as cooked as you like, about 4-6 minutes. Remove and set aside; use same water for boiling pasta to soak up some of the nutrients leached into the cooking water! Save some of the pasta water once it’s done.

In a food processor, toss in everything else and add salt/pepper to taste. If it’s too thick, add some starchy water or more olive oil to thin it out.

Stir together broccoli and pasta, and then toss with the pesto avocado sauce until thoroughly coated.

Delicious and devoured in seconds! I loved the broccoli in this–an extra pop of green. The avocado made the pasta so creamy and decadent, and you really couldn’t tell it was avocado. Like I said, even my picky brother ate this up before doing Insanity (okay, well, a few hours had to pass before he started jumping and push-upping around). It’s super satiating and full of good fats and nutrients. Yum!

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Strawberry Buttercream

Half vegan chocolate whoopie pies!

Well, they could have been completely vegan if I didn’t have some strawberry buttercream frosting to use up. The original link has a recipe for both vegan cake and vegan filling.

Vegan or not, these were insanely good–better than whoopie pies I’ve had at school. Those were really dense and heavy; these cakes that I made were super light and airy but also had texture and a good mouth-feel.

These practically melted in your mouth–in the best way possible.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies

Adapted from this recipe

1 cup unsweetened Silk
1 teaspoon or capful of apple cider vinegar
2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup (88g) Earth Balance, soft (I used the Olive Oil flavor… any is probably fine)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup agave nectar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 375°. Combine soymilk and vinegar and set aside; this allows curdling and thickening to occur.

In another bowl, sift together the dry ingredients (flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, cornstarch, and salt).

In a large bowl, beat Earth balance, extracts, and sugars for 3 minutes on low speed until creamy, and then 3 minutes on medium speed until fluffy and smooth. Add half the flour mixture and half the soymilk mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Add remaining flour and soymilk mixture and beat until thoroughly combined.

Drop 1 tablespoon of batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, spacing them 2-3 inches apart. Bake 10 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes, and then place on cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cooled sufficiently, spread filling of choice. I used my leftover strawberry buttercream. Peanut butter filling would be decadently good. Vanilla would be classic and delicious. The original recipe has a vegan buttercream that you can use (basically a regular buttercream using vegan margarine to replace the butter).

I love the little tidbits of strawberry poking out!

ooozy. Perfect for licking. Yum.

This made quite a few whoopie pies. Perfect for having some on hand to give away as gifts!

Miniature Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

After scrolling through thousands (okay, like twenty) different cupcake recipes, it was decided that strawberry-lemonade shall be the flavor of the treats I would take to my high school French teacher’s mini-retirement/farewell party.

So cute! So delectable!

And they were a hit! Even my baker-extraordinaire French prof said they were delicious.

Mini Strawberry Lemonade Cupcakes

Adapted from How Sweet Eats (I pretty much did it exactly as printed, but here it is for convenience)

Lemonade Cupcakes

makes 12 cupcakes or about 30 mini cupcakes

1 cup sugar

6 tablespoons butter

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 1/2 cups flour (I did half AP and half whole wheat pastry flour)

1 1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup milk

grated zest of two lemons (or 1 1/2 lemons, if using ginormous lemons from Costco)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream butter, sugar, and eggs together until fluffy. Add vanilla and lemon zest. Mix on the lowest setting for a few seconds.

Combine dry ingredients in a bowl. Add half of the dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. Add the milk. Once mixed, add remaining dry ingredients.

Pour into paper-lined cupcake tins and bake for 20-25 mins at 350, or about 13 minutes for minis. Let cool, then frost. (I let mine cool overnight).

Strawberry and Lemon Buttercream

2 sticks of butter, at room temperature

3 cups of powdered sugar + 1 cup extra

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/4 -1/2 cup finely chopped strawberries

grated zest of two lemons

1-2 tablespoons of milk (just have on hand if needed)

In the bowl of your electric mixer, cream butter until smooth. Add in powdered sugar slowly with the mixer on low, increasing to combine. Add in vanilla extract. At this point you need to separate the frosting in two. It all depends on how much you want to frost each cupcake. I choose to take about 3/4 of the mixture and make it strawberry, with the rest being lemon. Whichever you decide to do, leave the frosting for the strawberry IN THE MIXER. Put the frosting for the lemon flavor in a separate bowl.

For the strawberry frosting: once the berries are chopped, press them with a paper towel to just release any extra moisture. Add 1/4 cup of the berries and turn the mixer on high, scraping down the sides as you go. Being that strawberries have a high water content, you may need to add some (or all) of the extra cup of powdered sugar. This will depend on the water content of YOUR strawberries, so add 1/4 cup, then more sugar if needed. Repeat until desired flavor/consistency is readers.

For me, the strawberry frosting looked fine in the mixer, but when I tried to pipe it form a Ziploc, it began to separate. So I returned it to the mixing bowl (no small feat) and beat it some more with more sugar. Then I just dolloped it on (no patience for piping).

For lemon frosting: take the remaining butter mixture and either add it to a clean bowl of your electric mixer or a bowl large enough that you can whisk with some elbow grease. Fold in lemon zest and add milk if needed. I was able to do this by hand with a whisk (whisking VERY hard), but it will also work with an electric mixer.

To serve them, I dolloped a big blop of strawberry on the cupcake, and then a wee blop of lemon zest frosting on top of that, finally sprinkled with a few shreds of lemon zest. Beautiful! You’ll have lots left over. I’m thinking… dark chocolate whoopie pies with strawberry buttercream filling. Oh yeah. Or maybe I’ll just make more cupcakes.

These were SO good. My taste testers loved them–the whole wheat pastry flour gives them a kind of earthiness that pairs well with the strawberry frosting. The lemon-flavored cake was just DELICIOUS. Light, a tender crumb, almost melt-in-your-mouth. Pretty much fantastic on its own.

The strawberry buttercream, while troublesome to pipe (okay, well, I’ve never piped frosting before and am not eager to try it again) was just as delicious when dolloped…. or licked off the mixer beater. The strawberry flavor totally came through and the tartness of the strawberries matched the sweet icing beautifully. The lemon zest icing was a lot less finicky, and so delicious too–I think I am just a fan of lemon-flavored things in general. Lemon bars? Lemon Girl Scout cookies? Lemon poppyseed muffins? Feed me.

I’m also a fan of miniature-sized things; yes, I’m embracing that trend, of COURSE! These are two bite! Even one, if you are really hungry for some lemon/strawberry deliciousness.

The strawberry with the long stem in the picture above may make you think I went strawberry-picking. Alas, this was not so. It was actually a lucky find in a Costco flat of strawberries. Perfect timing for the photoshoot!

Addicting Quinoa Veggie Salad

Believe you me, I could eat this

all

day

long

Addicting Quinoa Vegetable Salad

Adapted from… me!

2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed

4 cups water

juice of 1/2 lemon

1-2 tablespoons evoo

1 tablespoon lemon zest

black pepper

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can corn, rinsed or package/0.5 bag frozen corn, thawed

1 avocado, cubed

1 tomato, cubed, with a pinch of salt sprinkled on it

Onion, chopped (I hate raw onion, so I didn’t use, but would probably a nice addition for those raw-onion fans out there)

1.5 cups edamame seeds (I had a frozen package that I steamed in the microwave)

10 leaves cilantro, torn up

10 leaves basil, torn up

Cook quinoa in 4 cups of water per package directions.

Combine lemon zest, juice, evoo, and pepper. Toss with black beans, corn, avocado, tomato, edamame, cilantro, and basil.

Once done, transfer quinoa to a large bowl and toss with veggie mix until combined.

Say who? C’est moi!

To photograph, I arranged the veggies on top of a quinoa bed for photogenicity. You can eat it this way too, but I prefer it combined.

Okay, I have made a similar salad before. But not with fresh herbs, and not with edamame! The possibilities are endless and I loved having more green yummies in the salad. Creamy avocado, sweet crunchy corn, satisfying black beans & quinoa, tangy lemon, savory tomato… It’s a total one-pot meal. Lovelovelove. And so easy to make! I swear you’ll want to eat the whole bowl.  Not to mention, full of plant protein, complex carbohydrates, good-for-you fats, antioxidants, the whole shebang!

Note: this tastes best the day it’s made; the lemon flavor diminishes when it sits for a while.

Whole Wheat Bread

I made bread!

I used yeast. It worked!

I added sugar and flour and maple syrup. I put it in a warm place. It rose!

I kneaded it until my shoulders dislocated. It rose again!

I took revenge for my sore shoulders by punching it until it had to throw in the towel. I divided it somewhat evenly and placed it in loaf pans, some mini, some large. It rose again!

I baked it. It became golden brown! (Even if some loaves looked a little special.)

I let it cool and ate it with butter (er, olive oil smart balance… it has such a nice flavor!) and felt accomplished!

So many exclamation points!

Maple Whole Wheat Bread

Adapted from this recipe

Makes 3 9×5″ loaves or 2 loaves + several mini loaves

3 cups warm water
2 packages active dry yeast
1 tablespoon brown sugar
5 cups whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons oil
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 cups whole wheat flour + more for cutting board and kneading

In a very large bowl, dissolve brown sugar in warm water. Add yeast once dissolved, stir, and let sit for a while until thickened.

Add 5 cups of whole wheat pastry flour, mix until just combined. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let it sit in a warm oven (an oven having been heated by the “warming” setting and turned off) or other warm place. Let rest for 30 minutes until risen and bubbly.

Add 1/3 cup maple syrup, oil, and salt, stir. Add whole wheat flour 1/2 cup at a time. The dough will still be somewhat sticky.

Lightly flour a clean surface with more whole wheat flour, and knead knead knead adding more ww flour as needed until the dough is sticky but pulls away from your hands without tearing.

Spray PAM in a HUGE bowl, and place dough in there, turning to coat. After 1 hour to 1.5 hours, it will have doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray PAM into loaf pans.

Turn out dough onto a clean, unfloured surface (silicone mats are awesome) and punch it down. Divide into three equal loaves, and if using mini pans, divide one of the three into more equal portions. Knead each slightly, and place into prepared loaf pans. Cover loosely with a dish towel and let it rise 20-30 minutes, or until loaves have risen about the pans by 1/2 inch to 1 inch.

Bake 25-35 minutes or until lightly golden brown. Cool 10 min in pan, then cool completely on a cooling rack.

Relics from my childhood. Notice Pokemon creatures in the back. (Well, mine and my brothers’ childhoods). (Also, my dad cleaned out some toys from the basement which he stowed on the table that I like to use with taking photos of food). (I am lazy). And oh my gosh, I have no sense of cutting equal thicknesses.
This bread was so delightful! Flaky crust, tender nutty inside. The small loaves were fun for taste testing, and also doubled as sandwich rolls! The maple syrup flavor does not come through much, making this a perfect sandwich bread… Such as below, a homemade tuna salad sandwich with tomato and lettuce on homemade bread. The larger loaf slices were a little bit more crumbly and not as good for sandwiches, but delicious for a snack, spread with almond butter and jelly or butter, toasted, or as vessels for poached eggs.
Bread-making adventure? Success.