Love & Lattes

Easy One-Pan Lemon Salmon Dinner

In the midst of moving and packing and renovating while trying to keep life as close to normal a possible, I caved and tried out sheet-pan dinners. And I am IN LOVE!

Salmon, Potatoes, and Green Beans with a Caper Sauce

Seriously, best weeknight dinners EVER.

Let me first say that I tried the Sunday meal prep plan—make a week’s worth of meals on Sunday, and have breakfast, lunch, and dinner prepared through Friday.

Nice in concept, but not a great fit for me. Why?

So Tasty!

I thought the quality suffered—I much prefer chicken breast fresh from the oven/grill rather than the microwave. Even mores with fish.

And this is the big one—I missed cooking. I enjoy making dinner during the week, and I prefer leftovers when they were made in the previous day or two.

Enter one-pan dinners. I get fresh-from the oven dinners, I still can cook during the week. And the leftovers make a great lunch the next day. Win-win-win.

Yummy leftovers (though I probably should have used a bigger container).

I prep some meat or fish, some potatoes or sweet potatoes, and veggies. Pop in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes. Pull it out, and I have a healthy, balanced dinner ready to eat.

This salmon dinner is one of my very favorites. (On a side note, I almost always cook my fish in parchment packets—keeps it moist and flavorful, and keeps the flavor from seeping into the veggies.)

All done! Ready to plate.

Salmon with Lemon, Potatoes, and Green Beans

  • Servings: 2-4
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Ingredients

  • 2-4 skinless Salmon Filets (one per serving)
  • Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder, to taste
  • 1 Lemon, thinly sliced
  • Olive Oil
  • Fresh New Potatoes (3-5 per serving)
  • 1 Vidalia Onion
  • 1 tbsp Dried Parsley
  • 1-2 lbs. Fresh Green Beans, cleaned and trimmed

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 400 ℉.
2. Cut a piece of parchment paper about the length of your sheet pan. Add salmon to one half of the parchment. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt, pepper, and garlic powder according to your taste (I like a lot of pepper here). Top with lemon slices.
3. Fold over the parchment and roll the edges to make a tight packet for the salmon. Put the packet on one corner of the sheet pan.
4. Spread the green beans on the opposite end of the sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. toss them a bit with your hands to coat.
5. Quarter the potatoes and dice the onion. Add the potato and onion to a medium bowl. Add the parsley, 1 tsp of garlic powder, salt and pepper. Add about 1.5 teaspoons of Olive Oil per serving of potatoes, and toss to throughly coat. Pour potatoes mixture on to remaining area of sheet pan.
6. Roast for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, and check the temperature of the salmon by sticking a thermometer through the paper (do not open in case in needs to go back in the oven—it should be at least 145 ℉). If the salmon is done, remove from the tray and let rest, still in the packet.
7. Check the potatoes and beans. if not quite done, return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until tender and golden brown.
8. Serve and enjoy!

Notes

Once you have the basic technique down, you can easily switch it out:

  • Any fish or chicken will work.
  • Almost any vegetable will work.
  • You can use white or sweet potatoes.
  • Vary the seasoning.

My biggest tip is not to overcook the meat/fish. After about 20 minutes, pull the tray from the oven and check the temp of the meat—if it is done, let it rest on a plate while the veggies keep cooking.

Try topping the salmon with an easy sauce, like this Lemon Caper Mayonnaise. Yum!

The combinations are endless. Not in the mood for potatoes? Cook up some rice in chicken stock for a tasty starch (technically no longer one pan, but still fairly hands-off). Or make double veggies and skip the starch.

Yum!

When you’re done, cleanup is a cinch with only one pan. 😃

Have you tried any Sheet Pan Dinners? Are you a fan? What is your favorite combination? Do  you have any other time-saving tips for weeknight dinners?

Home Sweet Home

I’ve been a little lacking in keeping up with this blog since we found out we were moving back home last year. It’s been a whirlwind—hubby’s new job offer  came while we were in Disney last September, and three and a half weeks later we were packed and moved. Easy-peasy, right?

Not so much. We rented out our house when we moved to North Carolina, and when we moved back we were pretty sure we wanted to move back in. Unfortunately, our tenant was only one month into a year-long lease, so we needed a fairly short-term plan B.

The view out of my temporary office window this fall.

We found a cute apartment a few blocks from our house, figuring that would give Hubby a good test run of the new, longer commute before we committed (especially through the winter) and decided to give it a few months, but the longer we were here, the more we knew we wanted our house.

We gave our tenant notice in February so that he would have plenty of time to find something else before the end of his lease. It didn’t take that long—he bought something and was out of the house in early May. Yay!
Our temporary kitchen was actually quite nice.
Since the house is fairly small (with only one bathroom), we decided we wanted to do some renovations while it was empty. The house was built in the 80s, and not much had been updated since.
Kitchen, mid-demo.
Our to do list was lofty:
  1. Redo the kitchen (paint the cabinets, new ceramic tile floor and backsplash, new counter top, new pantry, and new appliances)
  2. Expand the Master Bedroom closet to a 5 foot by 12 foot walk-in.
  3. Take the bathroom down to studs and start all over. 😃
  4. Paint the whole house.
  5. Remove all flooring. Tile the kitchen, laundry room and bathroom. Carpet the rest.
  6. Remove the cabinets from the sunroom, paint the lovely wood paneling, and carpet the concrete floors.
  7. Replace all the heaters, baseboard and door molding, interior doors, ceiling fans, receptacles, etc.
  8. Replace the back door and screen door.
Our timeframe? We were moving in exactly 30 days after we got the keys back. No problem, right? 😉
Laundry room, fully demolished.

Everyone said we were crazy, but we pushed through. I worked on the house from 8 am – 2 pm every day. My newly-retired dad often joined me. I would go back to the apartment and work a few hours in the afternoon, then Hubby and I came back to the house from 6-midnight every night. Weekends, we were there all day.

After four days, a fifteen yard dumpster was full.

At the end of thirty days we were exhausted, but we got it done–with a few small exceptions (a little caulk, some paint touch-ups, etc.) And we were finally home! Yay!

Living room as furniture started coming in on day thirty.

I learned a lot—demo is fun, it can be depressing to be in a pretty much gutted house, that flooring made more of a drastic difference than anything else. And that there’s no place like home.

Pup lounging on the back patio.

In the coming weeks, I’ll post pictures of the transformations in the three rooms with the most drastic changes—the kitchen, bathroom, and sunroom. I’ll share what we learned, what we did right, and things we may have done a little differently. And, I’ll even admit to those things I would never do myself again, even if I am super-proud of how it turned out.

Our hibiscus is just a bit overgrown.

I also have a stockpile of recipes I’ll mix in—some from my shiny new kitchen, and a few I put together in the temporary apartment.

First cake in my new kitchen. 🙂

Until then, do you have any of your own renovation stories to share? Success stories? DIY don’ts? (I have some of each! 😂) Please share in the comments. 😃

 

Christmas in July

Anyone who knows me know I am a Christmas junkie–I’ll listen to Christmas music or watch Christmas movies any month in of the year.  Since we moved recently, resulting in a brand-new DVR, I recorded every Hallmark Channel Christmas movie they played last week (literally–every one. Hubby was thrilled.) 😂

So, I was super-excited to be invited to a Christmas in July party over the weekend. My aunt and her husband decorated the yard with blow-up decorations, they had Christmas treats, and Santa even stopped by for a visit–in his shorts and t-shirt, of course.

It was a fun party, and a great excuse to enjoy some Christmas music in the middle of summer. (It was even better to know I am not the only crazy Christmas fan in my family!) 😉

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My savory treat–meat, cheese, fruit, and olives. Super easy and always popular!

I took the party as an excuse to try out a new Christmas recipe–Peppermint Mocha mini-cupcakes. And, for anyone wondering where I got Candy Canes in July, I stocked up in late December just in case the need arose. 🎄

UNADJUSTEDNONRAW_thumb_a91cThese were perfect little bites of heaven–rich chocolate, cool peppermint, and just a hint of coffee. I definitely will be making this one again!

Peppermint Mocha Mini-Cupcakes

  • Servings: 6 dozen mini-cupcakes
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Ingredients:

For the cupcakes:

  • 1 Stick of Butter (1/2 Cup), softened
  • 1 1/4 Cups Sugar
  • 1 1/4 Cups Hot Coffee
  • 1/2 Cup Unsweetened CocoaPowder
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 1 1/4 Cups Flour
  • 1 tsp. Baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Extract)
  • 1/3 Cup Sour Cream
  • 2/3 Cup Mint Chocolate Chips, chopped

For the Icing:

  • 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened
  • 1 stick Butter (1/2 cup), softened
  • 3 1/2 Cups Powdered Sugar
  • 2 tsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or Vanilla Extract)
  • Grated Dark Chocolate and Candy Cane Pieces (for Garnish)

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350℉. Add liners to mini-cupcakes trays.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar using a mixer until smooth and fluffy (3-5 minutes).
  3. Add the eggs to the butter mixture, and beat another 1-2 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, add the cocoa to the hot coffee, and mix until there are no lumps.
  5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.
  6. Add the flour mixture and coffee mixture to the butter mixture, alternating, and starting with the flour. After each addition, mix until just combined.
  7. Fold in the sour cream, vanilla, and mint chips. Stir until fully incorporated.
  8. Add approximately 1 tablespoon of batter (I use a small cookie scoop) to each cupcake liner.
  9. Bake at 330 for 10-15 minutes, until the cupcakes spring back when touched and/or a tester comes out clean.
  10. Remove from the oven and cool completely on a cooling rack.
  11. Once cool, cream the butter and cream cheese in a mixer on high until fluffy. Add the powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until fully incorporated.
  12. Use  piping bag to ice the cupcakes. Garnish with grated chocolate and a candy cane piece. Chill until icing is set.

Enjoy!

Cupcake TrayI find mint to be refreshing in the summer, so this was a perfect fit for a hot, humid, July  afternoon. I look forward to trying them again in December. Yum!

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Are you a Christmas anytime person, or and only-after-December 15 person? Or do you fall somewhere in between? And, what is your favorite holiday treat?

Family Fun

The weather in NC was fabulous–but that wasn’t enough to make up for all the family events we missed out on when we were far away. Of course, that was one of the main reasons we jumped at the opportunity to move back to PA a few months ago.

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We’ll take family and friends over anything–even toes in the ocean in January.

The months since we are back have flown by–birthday parties, drinks, and dinners, weddings, holiday get togethers. All things we had to either plan months in advance or skip when we lived far away.

It has been beautiful in PA–60s and 70s two weekends in a row. It is showing us what summer will hold–playing outside with the kids, pool parties, baseball games, and more fun in the sun.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Do you live close to your family? Have a lot of family events? If not, how do you chose what events to travel for, and which to skip out on? 

Sweet Treats: Healthy Fruit and Ricotta Dessert

For years, Hubby and I have tried to eat a primarily from-scratch diet with lots of fresh veggies and fruits. Over the last year or so, we have tried to cut back on sugar a bit too.

It’s not that we never have an all out sugary dessert–we do, though we have tried to cut back on portions. But, we have also looked for other, healthier options to satisfy my sweet tooth.img_1668

I have never been a ricotta cheese fan, but a few of my favorite traditional desserts (mmm, cannoli) are ricotta based, so when I heard about this one, I decided to give it a go.

This is super-simple, and can be made with any fresh or frozen fruit. I like to use whole milk ricotta, but part skim works, too. (With the full-fat ricotta and frozen cherries, this is approximately 170 calories, with 24 g carbs, 19 g sugar, 2 g fiber, 7 g fat (5 g saturated), and  6 g protein.)

Cinnamon Ricotta Cherries

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Frozen Cherries
  • 1/4 cup Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 tsp. Honey
  • Dash Cinnamon

Instructions:

  1. Slightly defrost the cherries, either by placing in the microwave for 30 seconds or allowing to sit at room temperature for 15-20 minutes.
  2. In a small bowl, mix cherries with a dash of cinnamon.
  3. Top with Ricotta.
  4. Drizzle with honey. If desired, sprinkle with more cinnamon.
  5. Enjoy!

 

With mixed berries (and ricotta on the bottom)
With mixed berries (and ricotta on the bottom)

I use a 2 Tbsp. cookie scoop to serve the ricotta–2 scoops equal 1/4 cup. This is also great with fresh strawberries or mixed berries, fresh or frozen blueberries, or (hubby’s favorite), fresh pineapple. A little treat without a ton of added sugar. 🙂

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Do you have a favorite quick sweet treat that is a little on the healthier side? A go-to shortcut dessert? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Signs of Spring

We are buried under a half-foot of snow in eastern Pennsylvania, but this week still showed some early signs of spring. Yes, I know that technically spring is still over a month away, but a girl can dream of warm, sunny days even in February, right? 😉

Wednesday was beautiful – 61℉ with mostly sunny skies. I went for what started as a short walk–and finally strolled back in the front door 6.4 miles later.

A beautiful day for a nice long walk.
A beautiful day for a nice long walk.

Unfortunately, as soon as the sun went down, temperatures plummeted, and by midnight it was snowing. I really can’t complain–this is really the first storm of the year. Until now it has been a very mild winter (almost North Carolina like).

A snowy morning. At least Pup was happy--she loves the snow.
A snowy morning. At least Pup was happy–she loves the snow.

Of course, I expect snow this time of year–it is February in the Northeast. But, I also know that there is one other awesome sign of spring that happens this time every year. Truck Day!

If you aren’t a baseball fan, you may be looking at the screen like I am insane right now. Heck, you may be doing that anyway. 😉

Truck Day is the day the MLB teams pack up all the equipment for spring training and head south, in most cases to Florida or Arizona.

I woke up on Monday morning to this:

I am a Phillies fan, but Hubby is a Red Sox fan, so this just made my week! Wednesday, the Phillies truck followed behind.

I love that Phanatic!

Next stop, Spring Training! Pitchers and catchers report on Monday. ❤

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Are you on the lookout for signs of spring? What are some of your favorites? 

Who Says You Can’t Go Home?

It’s been a while since I posted here and things have really changed in the last few months. Shortly after my last post, Hubby was offered a great new job–an opportunity that was just too good to pass up.

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I love the fall colors–almost makes up for the cold that follows.

Of course, it did require us to relocate for the second time in three years. Read more

Raisin, Date, and Pecan Overnight Oats

As much as I love to cook, there is one meal hubby and I have never quite gotten the hang of–breakfast. For years, we skipped breakfast more often than we ate it, but in recent years we try hard to start our day with a decent breakfast.

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Read more

Fall Apple Desserts

I am a magazine junkie–Southern Living, Cooking Light, Coastal Living, Food Network… You get the idea. In the last week or two, all the September magazines are rolling in, and I am drooling over a lot of the fall recipes–but none more than the desserts.

Apples and pumpkin galore! Yum!

I will never make it through them all, but I thought I would share a few of the most tempting apple deserts, in case anyone wants to give them a try.


Apple-Cream Cheese Bundt Cake (From Southern Living)

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Photo (via Southern Living): Greg Dupree; Styling: Ginny Branch

Southern Living says: This delicious apple bundt cake features a sweet cream cheese filling and homemade praline frosting.  Garnish the frosting with extra toasted pecans.

Seriously, doesn’t that look amazing? I actually liked that half of the cover better than the other side–and the other side was Brad Paisley!


Love this coffee cake! <3
Love this coffee cake! ❤

One of my go-to apple deserts is this Apple Coffee Cake with Crumble Topping and Brown Sugar Glaze recipe from Food Network. It comes from Emeril Live!–goodness I miss that show! Hubby asks for this cake all year round!

(Just a note, I usually leave off the glaze–while it is good, I don’t think it is necessary.)

Cooking Light says: Sweet, crunchy apples make for a delicious plate of party “nachos.” Just slice some apples, arrange on a plate, and get creative. While I chose to make a slightly sweet peanut butter glaze, you could easily drizzle with honey or melted chocolate, or sprinkle cinnamon, nuts of your choice, or anything—the options really are endless. Slice some apples and have fun!

Source: Forget Keeping the Doctor Away: Slice Up the Ultimate Apple Nachos


Need more? Country Living has 40 apple deserts in this article!


Lazy-day Caramel Apples
Lazy-day Caramel Apples

Or, you could go the easy route and try one of my favorites –a chopped apple, a drizzle of caramel sundae sauce, and maybe some chopped walnuts or pecans. Healthy and easy! 😉


Whatever your choice, enjoy!   ❤

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What’s your favorite apple recipe? Favorite fall fruit? Anything I missed? Feel free to share!   🙂 

Roasted Butternut Squash (and a Yummy Risotto)

We walked in the grocery store on Saturday to a huge display of butternut squash from a local farm. Hubby and I looked at each other and both said, “risotto.”

I found this recipe from The Pioneer Woman a few years ago, and it is so good, I barely make any changes to it, other than how I make the butternut squash. To save a little time, I roast it in a yummy spice rub while I make the risotto. (I wasn’t planning on posting this until I got a few requests for the recipe, so I don’t have a lot of pictures.)IMG_9263

The spice rub is easy–2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon each sage, cinnamon, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. I know it sounds weird, but it works–trust me.

Dice the butternut squash (I should add that I use a whole butternut squash, not just a half, since we like this for a meatless entrée), then spread it on a baking sheet. Drizzle it with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and toss to coat. Add the spice mix, and toss together until evenly coated.

Ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven!

Pop the baking sheet in a 400 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until tender and golden brown.

While that roasts up, add a but of butter to the pan, sauté some onion, add the arborio rice. Make the risotto per the original recipe (found here). At the right time, add in the roasted butternut squash, then finish off the recipe. Yum!

For the record, I have tried the recipe without the cream (I actually use half and half). It is still good, but the cream definitely adds a texture and flavor that makes the extra calories so worth it. 🙂

Roasted Butternut Squash

  • Servings: 6-8
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Ingredients

1 Medium Butternut Squash
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Teaspoons Chili Powder
1 Teaspoon Dried Sage
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Teaspoon Kosher Salt
1 Teaspoon Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar

 

  1.  Preheat the oven to 400˚F.
  2. Peel, remove seeds, and dice a whole butternut squash. Spread on a baking sheet.
  3. Drizzle with olive oil and toss together.
  4.  in a small bowl, mix chili powder, cinnamon, sage, salt, pepper, and brown sugar. Sprinkle entire mixture over the butternut squash. Use your hands to coat completely.
  5. Roast in the oven about 20 minutes until tender and golden brown.
  6. Add to your favorite recipe (such as this risotto) and enjoy!

Look how creamy! So good!
Look how creamy! So good!

This roasted squash is also great on its own as a simple side dish, or tossed with some store-bough ravioli, a little cream, and some parmesan cheese for a quick meatless meal.

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Do you have a favorite butternut squash recipe? Any go-to ingredients when putting together a meatless meal? And are you as excited as I am to be seeing all of this lovely fall produce in the stores? #yum