Blackened Salmon on Linguine

The wild Sockeye Salmon is a wonderful and rare indulgence in our home.   We splurge on salmon only every now and then and when we do the family is happy! It is as if I can see all the nutrients, proteins and omega 3 oils come to life in front of my very eyes as my children seem to hone super powers after a meal like this. Salmon is a great choice when choosing seafood because it not only has great flavor and can be cooked in a variety of ways but it is also rich with Omega-3 fatty acids, making it one of the healthiest fish to eat.    The linguine has a Parmesan cream sauce drizzled on it and the spinach was cooked in a hot iron skillet for only a couple of minutes without oil or butter. This is a rich and delicious meal and should definitely be paired with a good bottle of wine.  I also served a whole wheat baguette (a post for another time)  fresh out of the oven that we pulled apart with our hands  – great for picking up the last of the cream sauce. I hope you enjoy.

By the way this is the second post using seafood since the beginning of nu-trio.  I am anxious to talk about the issues and our impact as consumers.  I don’t want to be preachy so please feel free to  proceed to our Earth page if you share an interest on the topics of fish farming, over fishing and our ability to make a difference.


INGREDIENTS – Blackened Sockeye Salmon

Serves two

6 ounces of linguine

1 bag of baby spinach

2, 5 ounce salmon filets


olive oil

lemon juice

balsamic glaze


INGREDIENTS – Parmesan Cream Sauce

¾ stick of butter

8 ounces heavy whipping cream

1 cup grated parmesan cheese



  1. Marinate the filets in salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon juice and balsamic glaze.  Refrigerate until you are ready to cook.
  2. Prep ingredients for cream sauce
  3. Cook pasta, toss with a little olive oil, cover and set aside
  4. Heat an iron skillet on med-high until the pan begins to smoke.  Pour a small amount of olive oil onto the skillet before you place your filets skin side down and do not touch them for about 90 seconds
  5. Flip the fish onto the side with the marinade and then use your spatula to peel the skin from the filet.  It should peel right off. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and a little balsamic glaze.
  6. Allow it to cook for approximately 3 minutes before flipping – do not touch the fish while it cooks. Flip and cook for an additional 3 minutes.  Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of the filet. Take a paring knife to cut a small incision into the thickest part of the filet to determine whether it is cooked enough for your taste. wrap in foil and place in warm oven until you are ready to serve.
  7. Wipe iron skillet with a paper towel add spinach to seasoned pan on med-high and toss until wilted. 2-3 minutes. Leave in pan to keep warm but remove from heat.
  8. Prepare Parmesan Cream Sauce (cook time is 10-15 minutes):
  • melt butter and cream in a sauce pan on med-high
  • stir constantly
  • cook at a simmer for approx. 6 – 8 minutes until visibly thicker
  • add cheese and lower heat
  • stir until cheese is melted

9. Serve filet on a bed of pasta and spinach, drizzle sauce, garnish with paprika and enjoy!


Chocolate Sour Cream Cake

ChocSC cake3
Just because we are eating on a budget doesn’t mean we can actually live without dessert. I know, I tried. That’s why this cake is a perfectly simple, delicious way to stretch dessert.

America’s Test Kitchen has always been my go-to for the best of anything recipe. I took this Chocolate Sour Cream Bundt Cake of theirs I had stashed away in my recipes folder and split it into two loaf pans. That way, we worked our way through one loaf slowly while we froze the other for the next time the craving hits for the most moist,rich,chocolatey cake that doesn’t overwhelm after a simple meal.

You could fancy this up, of course; add raspberries and whipped cream on top or dollop it with our espresso whipped cream for an elegant touch. This doesn’t have to be a simple, weekday sweet, but it certainly does a good job as such.

ChocSC Cake2

ChocSC cake


adapted from America’s Test Kitchen


For the Pan:

1 Tablespoon Butter, Melted

1 Tablespoon Cocoa

For the Cake:

3/4 Cup Natural Baking Cocoa Powder

6 Ounces Bittersweet Chocolate, chopped

1 teaspoon Instant Espresso Powder

3/4 Cup Boiling Water

1 Cup Sour Cream, room temp.

1 3/4 Cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour

1 Teaspoon Salt

1 Teaspoon Baking Soda

12 Tablespoons Unsalted Butter (1 1/2 Sticks), room temp.

2 Cups Packed Light Brown Sugar

1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract

5 Large Eggs, room temp.

Whipped cream or confectioner’s sugar to top*



Stir together melted butter and cocoa in a small bowl to form a paste. Use a pastry brush to coat the inside of two standard loaf pans (or one bundt pan). Adjust rack to middle position and preheat oven to 350°.

Combine Cocoa, chocolate, and espresso powder in heatproof bowl; pour boiling water over and whisk until smooth. Cool to room temp. Whisk in sour cream.

In a second bowl, whisk flour, salt, and baking soda to combine.

Using a mixer, beat butter, sugar, and vanilla on med-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. reduce speed to med. and add eggs one at a time, mixing about 30 seconds after each addition and scraping down bowl with rubber spatula after each. Reduce to med-low speed and add about one third of the dry ingredient mixture and half of chocolate/sour cream mixture and stir until just incorporated. Scrape bowl and repeat twice, dividing the dry ingredient mixture in half. Mix until batter is thoroughly combined.

Pour into prepared pans and bake until toothpick comes out with only a few crumbs attached, 45-50 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes, then invert to cooling rack and cool completely.


The taco is a  delicious creation in which the eater is able to design a new masterpiece with each tortilla. Really…building a taco is just good fun. On tap tonight; a meatless taco, made with Morningstar Crumbles, topped with all the good stuff.  Super easy to throw together and you can use any filling that sounds tasty – try grilled shrimp, ground beef, or tofu.



makes 8 tacos


1 bag of Morningstar Crumbles

1 avocado diced

1 tomato diced

1/2 cup red onion diced

10 sprigs of cilantro

1/2 cup  cheddar cheese shredded

1/2 cup sour cream

1 lime cut into wedges

flour or corn tortillas

hot sauce


Prepare your toppings

Cook your filling

Heat tortillas  – I use tongs and heat mine over the flame of my stove top

Build a taco and enjoy!


Pan Roasted Chicken and Sweet Cherry Salad with Dijon Dressing

You’d never know I was such a grumpy lady while preparing this dinner. Yesterday was just kind of crazy. I feel like I had a fussy baby clinging to my leg and frizzed out hair and one shoe off around 5:30 yesterday. I guess that isn’t really true…well, except the fussy baby part. We are adjusting to the changes of being in a new place, as we must.

The tired child soon fell fast asleep, and the hubby and I sat down to this very tasty, very peaceful dinner afterwards. I feel much better.

I’m going to call this meal quite budget-friendly. I bought a large pack of chicken thighs and pan-roasted them all, saving some for another meal this week. Lettuce, radishes, and chives are not expensive. The cherries are our week’s very special treat. As long as I control myself with munching from the bowl, I will have some left for another cherry treat, but they totally make this salad. If you’re stuck in a dried fruit rut with your salads, using fresh cherries as this recipe does, is a vibrant change.

IMG_9574 IMG_9577



Pan Roasted Chicken and Sweet Cherry Salad with Dijon Dressing

adapted from Bon Appétit


4 skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs (I couldn’t find them with either skin or bones, but they were fine)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

1/4 C Fresh Lemon Juice

3 Tablespoons Dijon Mustard

3 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Dill (I used dried b/c it’s what I had, again, loved it anyway)

2 Tablespoons Honey

1 Clove Garlic, minced

1/4 C Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, plus one Tablespoon (divided)

2 Tablespoons Butter

4 Thick Slices Sourdough Bread, torn into 3/4″ pieces

1 Pound Fresh Cherries, stemmed, pitted, and lightly crushed

1 Large Head Leaf Lettuce

4 Radishes, thinly sliced

1 Tablespoon Chopped Chives


Pan Roast Chicken Thighs-

Preheat oven to 475°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a heavy skillet med-high heat, until just before it smokes (It shimmers). Place chicken in with skin side down until skin is golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to oven to cook for 13-15 minutes more. Flip chicken and cook another 5 minutes until skin crisps and meat is cooked through. Let rest 5 minutes.

Using two forks, pull chicken into bite-sized pieces and set aside*.

*If using my money and time-saving method, cook 7-8 chicken thighs the same way, pull apart all chicken. Reserve 2 Cups cooked chicken for the salad and store the remainder for a broccoli chicken and rice casserole later in the week.

Prepare the Dressing-

In a small bowl, whisk together the Lemon Juice, Dijon Mustard, Dill, Honey, Garlic. Gradually drizzle in Olive Oil while whisking to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Set aside.

*I recommend doubling this recipe and keeping this dressing on hand in a jar. It is outstanding!

Croutons + Assembling Salad-

In the same skillet used for the chicken thighs (yes, use the fat!) Melt the Butter and 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil. When bubbling, place torn sourdough bread pieces in and cook, stirring frequently, for two minutes or until golden. Remove from skillet and drain onto paper towel. Season lightly with salt and pepper while hot.

Place pulled chicken in a large salad bowl. Add cherries, lettuce, radishes, and chives, and drizzle with the dijon dressing. Toss to coat. Divide among plates and garnish with croutons.

Relax +Enjoy!

Quiche Muffins

with oranges2
Want to make your family smile with a gourmet breakfast that couldn’t be easier? Try these yummy savory muffins. I used to eat these for breakfast a few times a week when I worked across the street from the Millstone Bakery, a nook reeking of roasted coffee, sweet breads and other gourmet manifestations .  I loved this place and was sad the day Millstone closed.  However, they printed and shared their recipies with all of their faithful customers who came in for some irresistable goods on the last day of business.  How thoughtful – thank you Millstone!  I have changed the recipie a bit and remember – this is a quiche so you can add other veggies, cheeses, or herbs.


makes 2 dozen


3 cups of half and half

6 eggs

1/2 minced onion or shallots

1 cup (drained) chopped spinach

8 oz shredded cheddar cheese

2 cups flour

2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tsp salt


Preheat oven to 350.  Wisk first 5 ingredients. Stir in flour, baking powder, salt.  Pour into greased muffin pans (almost to the top). Bake 25 minutes until light browning on top. Wait 5 minutes before removing from muffin pans.

First 5 ingredients

first five ingredients

Plated with Fruit Salad and Avocado


Arriving at our New Home: Leek and Cannellini Bean Salad

Leek and Cannellini Salad1
Whew. That was the longest road trip of my life- and I don’t mean in distance. Traveling with MSU’s Littlest Bobcat was way different from when it was just the two of us driving across the country! We made it, and the tot did amazingly well. For the past two days, we have been stretching our legs and exploring this gorgeous gem of a city, so I thought I would share one of my first restaurant finds and one of our first meals in the apartment…


Yesterday, after shopping for necessities, having arrived late on Friday night, we found this sweet little joint for a late-morning meal:


This laid back, order-at-the-counter restaurant seems like a chain, but after visiting their website, there is only this one, as far as I can tell. Clark’s Fork is an allusion to Lewis and Clark’s explorations and is geared toward fresher, healthier food, fast, as well as being very eco-minded. They serve breakfast all day, make sandwiches from fresh-baked bread, and also have a drool-worthy case of baked goods to accompany a coffee.

2011-06-11_11-28-02_511   2011-06-11_11-28-33_602

The price was right. I love eating cheap when you know you’re still getting something good. Soaking in the view from our table of the snow-capped mountains and green hills surrounding town, I felt sure this spot would be visited frequently during our time out west and missed when we make our return east.

I loved these posters they had on the walls; each with a different quote from Clark’s expedition journals, I assume. This one just seemed so perfect…


…which leads me to our first homemade meal in Bozeman…


Leek and Cannellini Salad2

After five days in a stuffed car and an unexpected delay in Wyoming with car trouble, our systems felt a little…ummm…rough. The first request was that I make something light. Second, something cleansing. I decided on using leeks since they are a mild diuretic. I had been able to catch glimpses of the Food Network while chasing the toddler around a car dealership for 3 hours, and I saw Claire Robinson, of 5-Ingredient-Fix, making a Cannellini Bean salad that looked yummy. I didn’t really hear much of the show, but it’s amazing what you can catch just from glimpses every now and then. I saw her flame-char her red pepper, and this really did add such flavor that I will probably do this much more, for any recipe. The majority of the ingredients are really just what I felt like throwing in. This is a great summery dish to serve with broiled tilapia and sourdough bread…

Leek and Cannellini Salad6

Leek and Cannellini Salad5


Leek and Cannellini Salad5


Inspired by Claire Robinson 


1 Can Cannellini Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed
1 Leek, coarsely chopped (use only white and light green parts)
1 Medium Cucumber, peeled and chopped
1 Large Red Bell Pepper
1/2 Cup Coarsely Chopped Parsley
1/3 Cup Olive Oil
1-2 Cloves Garlic, minced
Juice of 1 Large Lemon
1/4 teaspoon Herbs de Provence or Italian Seasoning
Salt and Pepper


Heat olive oil in a skillet and add minced garlic. Simmer for 3-4 minutes to infuse flavor.

Char red pepper either in gas flame or under broiler. Peel and dice red pepper.

In a medium bowl, combine beans, leek, cucumber, bell pepper, and parsley.

In a small bowl, whisk together Olive oil (w/garlic), seasonings, and lemon juice. Pour over bean mixture. Stir gently to incorporate.

Chill before serving.

Summer Raspberry Cream Cake

         Summer Raspberry Cream Cake with Swiss Meringue Buttercream Icing – Yes please!

Cake and plate

When my friend invited me to watch her put together her summer time cake and take the recipe with me for my blog I was really excited.  Heather is a stay at home mama with three in her brood. She also has a wonderful story of childhood that helps one understand why Heather cares so much about preparing natural, wholesome, and delicious foods, from scratch.  Heather was raised in Papua New Guinea, in a tribal village. Her parents were missionaries and she was there between the ages of 2 and 11. Heather watched closely as her Mom grew and prepared everything by hand. She learned skills as well as a philosophy on preparing food that she carries with her today. She cares very much about the origin of the products she buys and makes efforts to use local and natural ingredients. Heather makes foods like yogurt, jams, and breads. She has a vegetable garden, she enjoys knitting beautiful accessories for her little girls, and she loves to bake. She invited me over to watch her put together this summer time cake; as well as enjoy a piece with a lovely cup of Earl Grey Tea. I highly recommend trying this combination – it is so delicious. Thanks for sharing this, Heather.

Just a couple of things about the recipe I should mention is that in developing these recipes, Heather was trying to achieve a creamier frosting with less powdered sugar – as many recipes call for – so after years of altering her favorite recipes Heather has reduced the butter and created a lighter meringue to incorporate into the icing and therefore was also able to reduce the amount of sugar. She also chose recipes based on the number of egg yolk vs. egg whites for the frosting so there would be no waste.  So together, these recipes for cake, filling and icing will produce a creamy, light and fluffy, perfectly sweetened cake. Some things you will need: electric mixer, two  9 inch cake pans, long bread knife, food thermometer, and a cooling rack.


3 cups flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

 2 sticks + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter room temp

1 1/2 cup sugar

4 lg egg yolks + 1 egg – separate and reserve 4 whites for the icing

1 cup sour cream

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla


1.  Heat oven to 350°, place to racks in the center of oven. grease two 9 inch cake pans with butter. Dust with flour. Mix together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.

2. Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy, gradually add sugar. Keep beating until light and fluffy – 3 minutes. Drizzle in egg yolks,beating on med – low until fluffy.

3. Alternate adding flour mixture and sour cream to butter mixture, ending with flour mix. Beat in vanilla, divide between pans. Bake 30 – 40 minutes – until toothpick comes out clean. Cool for 15 min then remove from pan, cool on wire racks.  Score the cakes before slicing – this will help you slice it through the center. Please click here to see Heather’s demonstration. Split layers horizontally using a bread knife. Set aside the prettiest dome for the top. Assemble. Refrigerate if necessary (due to the whip cream filling it is best to keep this cake in a cool place).


  12 – 14 oz of raspberry jam

1 1/2 cup whipping cream – will yield about 4 cups

1 1/2 tablespoon of powdered sugar


1. Whip cream, adding the powdered sugar during the whipping process.

2. This filling will be divided among the three layers.  Spread the jam over the top of your bottom layer, then spread your whip cream over the jam, leaving a 1 inch border. Place the next layer of cake and gently press from the center of the cake to help distribute the cream.  However, do not over do it, the weight of the cake will spread the cream to the edge of the layer as the cake settles.


4 lg egg whites

2 tablespoons water

1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup sugar

2 sticks butter unsalted


1. Combine egg whites, water, cream of tartar and sugar in a bowl. Set bowl in skillet with simmering water. Beat on low until whites reach 140°. Beat on high until 160°. 2-4 min. Remove bowl from heat add 1 tsp vanilla. Beat on high 3 – 5 min to cool and until meringue holds glossy stiff peaks.

2. In a separate bowl beat unsalted butter to cream. Fold large dollop of meringue into batter.  Continue to fold in meringue in stages.

On plate