Toddler Approved: Honey Soy Salmon

Honey-Soy Salmon with Zucchini

This was a surprise win for our family. Even before Miss A’s arrival, we made it a point to eat more fish. Salmon is hard one because done well, it’s amazing. Done poorly, it’s terrible.

On a whim, I tried this Honey-Soy Salmon dish from Parents magazine. It was so easy and even better, Miss A kept asking for more! She wasn’t really a fan of the zucchini, but she also hadn’t had it with the skin still on before.

Ingredients:
4-6 salmon fillets (we get the frozen ones that still have the skin on, the number of fillets depends on the number of people eating)
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce (we used regular)
Nonstick cooking spray (or just some of your favorite oil)
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (or olive)
2 medium zucchini, sliced into 1/4-inch thick half-moons
1 onion, diced
1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:
Note: if using frozen fillets, be sure to allow to defrost before you marinate. It makes a difference.

Add honey and soy into a zip top bag, squish to mix. Add the fish and seal the zip top. Turn to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to 2 hours (we marinated for about an hour). Drain and discard marinade. Preheat broiler. If you have the option of low or high, choose high. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and coat foil with cooking spray or lightly drizzle oil. Place fish on foil. Broil 5 to 7 minutes per 1/2-inch thickness of fish, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. We broiled for about 7 minutes total. While the fish is broiling, heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add zucchini and onions. Cook about 3 minutes or until just tender; season with salt. Serve 4 fish fillets with the zucchini. Reserve 2 fish fillets.

My opinion:
The addition of lightly caramelized onions made the salmon even tastier. We will absolutely be making this dish again. Plus it was so easy, we could make it even on the busiest weeknight!

Toddler Approved: Honey-Soy Salmon with Zucchini

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Mom’s banana bread

My mom didn’t make banana bread very often because she doesn’t really like bananas, but my dad, sister and I did, so when she made it, it was a great day. I was pretty surprised at how easy this is to make. It’s perfect for a cold late winter day.

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar (if it’s lumpy, it’s ok)
3 and 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/3 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla (you can add a bit more if you want!)
1 egg
3 very ripe bananas (you can use two if you prefer less banana flavor)

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a loaf pan with butter or Crisco. No need to flour the greased pan. Mix the wet ingredients into a bowl, adding the milk last.

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Mix the dry ingredients. If your brown sugar is a little lumpy, that’s ok! It will add pockets of caramel notes.

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Mix the dry ingredients and wet ingredients together.

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Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 55 to 60 minutes until the top is brown and a toothpick comes out clean and the sides start to pull away from the greased pan.

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My opinion: This makes your whole house smell amazing. It’s delicious and one of my most favorite breakfast foods. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can add chocolate chips, dried fruit, nuts, peanut butter (if you add peanut butter reduce the oil by one tablespoon). The options are endless!

Homemade Stuffed Poblanos

stuffed poblano

Or homemade chile rellenos. A new grocery store opened in our town and it is amazing. I’ve described it as if Trader Joes and Whole Foods had a baby. The produce is fantastic. When I stopped by opening day, the poblanos were some of the best I’ve seen since leaving Texas. So I roasted them and we had them for dinner.

Ingredients:
1 can whole tomatoes in puree; (28 ounces) or if you prefer fresh, 5-7 large Roma tomatoes
1 jalapeno chile; (ribs and seeds removed, for less heat) minced
1 large or 2 small yellow or white onions; chopped
3 tablespoons minced garlic
coarse salt and ground pepper (to taste)
1 can black beans; (19 ounces) rinsed and drained or about 1 pound ground beef  (we used 80/20 ground beef because it was also on sale at the new grocery store)
4 ounces shredded pepper Jack cheese
1/4 block of Velveeta Queso Blanco cheese, cubed (we had some left over from making Mag Mud at home)
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 large poblano chiles; halved lengthwise (stems left intact), ribs and seeds removed
1-2 tablespoons oil (vegetable, olive, whatever you have on hand)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425. In a blender or food processor, combine tomatoes in puree, jalapeno, half the onions, and 2 whole garlic cloves; puree. Season with salt to taste. Pour sauce into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish; set aside. Add a little oil to the skillet and sauté the onions, garlic and cumin. If using ground beef, brown the beef in the same skillet with the garlic and onions, if you want, add some of the salsa.  Add half the poblano in the salsa covered baking dish. Dividing evenly, spoon the onions and beef into the poblano half.  Sprinkle poblanos with the shredded pepper jack cheese. If room add, the other poblano half with the inside in the salsa (so the skin side is up). (Since there wasn’t room in our dish, I just added them where there was room.)
stuffed poblano (pre-bake)

Bake uncovered for about 20 minutes. Remove from oven. Add the Velveeta cubes and cover with the other poblano half. Note: you’ll want to use a fork or other utensil, the poblano tops will be hot. Return to the 425 degree oven for 20 more minutes or until the salsa is slightly thickened and the poblano half on top is starting to brown. Let cool 10 minutes.
homemade chile rellenos

My Opinion:
The poblanos that were on top of the salsa roasted up quite nicely adding a sweet char to the pepper. Next time, I’ll roast the entire poblano before adding the filling. Other than that, the only other addition is to smother the entire stuffed poblano in Mag Mud for extra creaminess.

Homemade Beef Pho

Homemade Beef Pho

The more J and I cook at home, the more we find amazing recipes of meals we once thought were super complicated and therefore only available in a restaurant. Pho is one of those dishes. With the complexly deep flavors and food coma inducing warmth, we were sure we couldn’t make it in our own kitchen. We were so wrong. J found this recipe from Sarcastic Cooking (love!) and it was dead on. We adjusted a few things to our taste and suggest you do too.

Ingredients For the Broth:
2 Tablespoons Canola Oil (we used vegetable)
2 Yellow Onions, halved (we ended up quartering them)
1, 3-inch Piece of Fresh Ginger, halved (we left this whole but kind of crushed to infuse more flavor)
2 Cloves Garlic (we used minced)
4 Quarts Low-Sodium Beef Stock
In a tea ball we put: 1 Cinnamon Stick (broken),  3 Star Anise Pieces, 3 Whole Cloves
⅓ Cup Fish Sauce
3 Tablespoons Packed Light Brown Sugar
1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
Button mushrooms (we used about a cup sliced)
If you do not want to invest in cinnamon sticks, star anise, and cloves, some stores sell pho seasoning packs. But it’s worth it to have your own, plus, with a tea ball removing it is simple!

Ingredients for the Pho:
1, 12-Ounce Package of Bahn Pho or Udon Noodles (Flat Rice Noodles) These ended up being hard to find so we just used glass noodles (thin rice noodles).
1 Pound Flank Steak or charcoal steak
2 Thai Chiles, stems removed and thinly sliced (we left these out)
2 Handfuls Bean Sprouts (fresh is crunchier and we loved it!) 
1 Bunch Fresh Cilantro
1 Bunch Fresh Mint
½ White Onion, sliced paper-thin
Sriracha or Chili Garlic Sauce for Serving
Lime Wedges for Serving

Directions:
Fair warning, these directions look complicated, but really aren’t. Promise.  In a large stockpot, heat the  oil over medium heat. Add the onions, ginger and garlic when the oil just starts to simmer/shimmer. Cook, turning a few times, for about 10 minutes. Add all remaining ingredients, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down to low. Simmer, partially covered, for at least 50 minutes and up to 3 hours if you like a richer flavor. (It is absolutely worth it to let it simmer for 3 hours, do that). After desired taste is reached, strain broth (we didn’t strain the broth, we just removed the tea ball of spices) and add back to the pot. Note: If you are not serving the soup right away, you can store the strained broth in an airtight container in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

This is the best trick ever: Place the beef into the freezer for at least 15 minutes. This makes it easier to slice.  Bring the broth to a slow simmer over low heat. Add rice noodles and cook according to package directions. Once the noodles are cooked, remove pot from heat. Using a very sharp knife, slice the beef as thin as possible. Ladle some broth into a few deep bowls. Add noodles to bowls. Serve Sriracha, bean sprouts, herbs, onions, lime wedges, and beef on the side so each person can add in what they want to their pho.

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My opinion:
This makes a lot. Enough for three of us to have two large bowls each and quite a bit left over. It’s in the freezer waiting for one of those cold, rainy late fall days when soup sounds best. I love this dish. I couldn’t eat it fast enough. 

Carnegie Deli Matzo Ball Soup (and chicken stock!) Recipe

Matzo Ball Soup Recipe

My mom makes the best matzo ball soup. Ever. Part of the reason it’s probably the best is because she only makes it once a year at Passover. I think the recipe is a combination of one from Cooking Light and several family recipes from friends. It’s amazing. Since the first Passover J attended, he’s tried to recreate my mom’s recipe. We use the same ingredients and follow her directions, but it never turns out the same. After our trip to New York this summer, J decided to find the Carnegie Deli recipe. He finally succeeded with a few modifications of this recipe.

Stock Ingredients:
1 pound chicken necks, backs, and wings (we just used wings since that’s what we had in the freezer)
1/2 ounce chicken base, such as Better Than Bouillon
1 celery stalk, roughly chopped
1 small white onion, quartered
Salt and pepper, to taste

For matzo balls :
8 large eggs
1 cup liquid shortening or olive oil plus more for rolling matzo balls ( I think my mom uses vegetable oil)
about 1 cup water
4 cups matzo meal
1/4 teaspoon Maggi Seasoning
3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground white pepper

Optional: top with fresh dill.

Directions:
Make stock : Combine first four ingredients with 6 cups water. Add Maggi seasoning (we found it in the Asian isle, it’s made by Nestle) and salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for at least an 1 hour.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs, oil, water, matzo meal, Maggi, salt, and pepper until just incorporated. Oil hands, then, working as gently as possible, form round balls about the size of a golf ball (but try to keep them loose or the middles won’t cook). Boil matzo balls in stock until cooked through and soft, at least 45 minutes. Divide matzo balls evenly between four bowls, allotting two matzo balls and two cups stock per serving. Sprinkle with fresh dill and enjoy.

My opinion:
It’s really close. The only part that wasn’t was J rolled the matzo balls too tight, so the middles didn’t cook quite through.