Deirdre's Dish ~

Dishing it up, dishing it out and making life delicious ~ one day at a time

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon-Garlic Spinach April 30, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 12:12 am

Weight Watchers has been a heavy topic at the office lately ~ two of my co-workers, Gloria and Joyce, signed on the program and lost a significant amount of weight. And while I’m not a big fan of diets (who is???) I have come to respect the way both Gloria and Joyce adhere to the point system while enjoying good food and not denying themselves an occasional dessert. So, when Gloria shared a recipe from the “Weight Watchers 101 Best Quick & Easy Recipes” I made the dish, bought the book (as did my friend Cindy who doesn’t cook ~ but she’s an excellent editor) and have now become a fan of these 15 to 30-minute menus. This quick-fix salmon recipe is easier to make than a tuna salad sandwich, and though it’s valued at only “ 7 points” it’s off the charts for me!
(I’m sure Cindy’s husband Bob, the home chef, is having a field day with the 101 recipe options – aren’t you Bob?)

Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon-Garlic Spinach

Points value: 7


Pan-Seared Salmon with Lemon Garlic Spinach

1 tps. ground cumin, divided
½ tsp. salt, divided
¼ tsp. pepper, divided
4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
2 tsp. olive oil divided
2 garlic cloves, minced
3 (6-ounce) packages fresh baby spinach (Note: sounds like a lot, but it will reduce in volume once it wilts.)
1 tsp. grated fresh lemon rind
Lemon wedges

1. Combine ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, and 1/8 teaspoon pepper; sprinkle evenly over fish. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish, flesh side down, and cook 4 minutes. Turn fish over, and cook 5 to 7 minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Remove fish from pan; keep warm. Wipe drippings from pan with a paper towel.

2. Add remaining 1 teaspoon oil to pan; heat over medium-high heat. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add spinach, in batches, and cook until spinach wilts and liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Stir in remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper, and lemon rind. Serve fish over wilted spinach. Squeeze lemon wedges over fish and spinach before serving.


Barbecued Texas Beef Brisket April 29, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 12:52 am

Note to self: Read recipe in its ENTIRETY before embarking on a new culinary

My dear friend and managing editor at The Ridgewood News is well aware of my passion for anything that has to do with food. Recently she surprised me with a gem she discovered at a local rummage sale ~ “The Flavors of Bon Appetit 200.” I was smitten at first sight. The recipes, albeit a decade old, are a true delight by the very fact they bring to life simple and comforting one-dish meals that are easy to prepare (once you read the entire directions) and can compete with today’s sophisticated fare. This Barbecued Beef Texas Brisket (which entails a three-step process) can be prepared two ways. For those of you not in possession of a smoker, a Crock Pot is a favorable plug-in alternative ~ trust me ~ I created the “in a pinch” approach after reading the last step and realizing there was no smoker in my appliance garage… or my future!

For dry rub

BBQ Texas Brisket ready for slicing

· 1/2 cup paprika
· 3 tablespoons ground black pepper
· 3 tablespoons coarse salt
· 3 tablespoons sugar
· 2 tablespoons chili powder
· 1 7 1/2- to 8-pound untrimmed whole beef brisket

For mop
· 12 ounces beer
· 1/2 cup cider vinegar
· 1/2 cup water
· 1/4 cup vegetable oil
· 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
· 2 tablespoons minced jalapeño chilies
· 5 pounds (about) 100% natural lump charcoal
· 4 cups (about) oak or hickory wood smoke chips, soaked in cold water at least 30 minutes
· 1 cup purchased barbecue sauce (such as Bull’s-Eye)
· 1 tablespoon chili powder

Make dry rub:
· Mix first 5 ingredients in small bowl to blend.
· Transfer 1 tablespoon dry rub to another small bowl and reserve for mop. Spread remaining dry rub all over brisket. Cover with plastic; chill overnight.

Make mop:
· Mix first 6 ingredients plus reserved dry rub in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat 5 minutes. Pour 1/2 cup mop into bowl; cover and chill for use in sauce. Cover and chill remaining mop.

· Following manufacturer’s instructions and using natural lump charcoal, start fire in smoker. When charcoal is ash gray, drain 1/2 cup wood chips and scatter over charcoal. Bring smoker to 200°F. to 225°F., regulating temperature by opening vents wider to increase temperature and closing slightly to reduce temperature.

· Place brisket, fat side up, on rack in smoker. Cover; cook until tender when pierced with fork and meat thermometer inserted into center registers 185°F., about 10 hours (turn brisket over for last 30 minutes). Every 1 1/2 to 2 hours, add enough charcoal to maintain single layer and to maintain 200°F. to 225°F. temperature; add 1/2 cup drained wood chips. Brush brisket with chilled mop in pan each time smoker is opened. Transfer brisket to platter; let stand 15 minutes. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cool 1 hour. Wrap in foil; chill. Before continuing, rewarm brisket, still wrapped, in 350°F. oven about 45 minutes.) Combine barbecue sauce and chili powder in heavy small saucepan. Add any accumulated juices from brisket and bring to boil, thinning sauce with some of reserved 1/2 cup mop, if desired.

Alternative method
Place brisket, fat side up on gas grill ( medium heat). Cook for 20 minutes, brush with chilled mop and then flip. Repeat process until a caramelized crust forms (about 3 to four rotations). Remove and place in Crock Pot with ¼ cup of remaining mop. Cook on low setting for 6 hours. (Note meat can be refrigerated overnight and then continue with step three in the morning.)

· Thinly slice brisket across grain. Serve, passing sauce separately.


Chocolate Bing Cherry Cupcakes April 25, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 9:05 pm

While thumbing through an old cookbook (the kind where box cakes, canned pie fillings and instant pudding mixes comprise the main ingredients) I came upon a quick and easy alternative to the traditional Black Forest Cake ~ Being in an adventurous mood and admittedly having two of the three main ingredients readily available in my pantry ( a box of Devil’s Food cake mix has saved many a last minute disaster) I decided to give it a whirl. Truth be told, I was quite surprised ~ they were delish! Not too heavy, with a pleasant spongy texture and with the correct cupcake/frosting ratio, I think these mini Black Forest confections are a keeper!

Chocolate Bing Cherry Cupcakes

Cake ~
· 1 (18.25 ounce) package devil’s food cake mix with pudding
· 3 eggs
· 1 tablespoon almond extract
· 1 (21 ounce) can cherry pie filling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
Mix together: cake mix, beaten eggs, almond extract, cherry pie filling.
Stir until just combined. Pour batter into muffin tins lined with cupcake holders.
Bake in a 350 degree F (175 degree C) oven for 15 -20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and let cool.

Frosting ~
See previous post: German Chocolate Cake with Butter Cream Frosting.
Note: Double recipe to allow the proper frosting/cupcake ratio ~ and ensure enough left-over deliciousness for licking the bowl!


Prom April 24, 2010

Filed under: Delicious daily banter ~ — deirdre175 @ 2:42 pm

Prom ~ what once used to be a one-night event matching eyelet and taffeta with tuxedos and a really “cool” theme has now morphed into a PROPER NOUN involving pre-prom preparation and post-prom celebration! Don’t get me wrong, I’ve attended my fair share of proms (and still treasure the incriminating photos to prove it) however, I shake my head at all the pomp and circumstance surrounding this new found proper noun!
Back in the day (which my kids reference as the era of black and white) boy date arrived at girl date’s home, carnation corsage encased in nervous hand, and endured the perfunctory meet/greet with the parents before high tailing it off for a night of swing, sweat and possibly a little Southern Comfort in the high school gym.
Fast forward ~ pre-prom photo-ops and post prom plans have elevated to a totally new level of expectation. It’s almost comical witnessing (and participating in) the cross-town commute to various homes on a mission to capture that “Kodak” moment while trying NOT to embarrass the kids and still maintain an element of “parental cool.”Cap that off with post-prom party plans and you have all the makings of an over-the-top expensive playdate! Gone are the days of heading back to someone’s home and rustling up some breakfast before heading to the beach or Great Adventure. Today “Prom” has become just one more experience elevated to an entirely new height ~

As I Blog this, a little voice in the back of my head reminds me of words I once spoke to my parents about “getting with the times,” and how the world is changing. And, I can still recall their commentary on how one day I too would understand the meaning behind “life was so much easier in black and white.”

Now I get it, but still embrace my favorite prom theme ~ Color My World.


Pinot and Pitas April 22, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 10:11 pm

I have a love/hate relationship with Thursdays ~ it’s deadline day for my weekly newspaper and my Sunday column among other time-line responsibilities as a social editor ~ but, I digress, because this afternoon I am going to enjoy cocktails and conversation with my dear friend Alison ~ who also hails from the original city of gas lights and my birthplace ~ Buffalo!

Since this was a last-minute invite, I quickly foraged through my fridge and pantry and put together a simple yet satisfying snack ~ Oven baked pita triangles with store-bought sides of Chipotle Hummus and Tzatziki. When creatively arranged on a large platter it looks pretty good. The key ingredient is that the Pinot Grigio is chilled and the “mommy meter” is turned off ~ Cheers!

Quick fix Pita Triangles


  • 6 whole pitas, cut into trianglesPinot and Pitas with Hummus and Tzatziki
  • pan spray, or olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons  garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Preparation Instructions

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cut  Pita rounds into triangles. Lay them on a shallow baking dish lined with parchment paper. Lightly spray  with olive oil (brushing method works also). Sprinkle liberally with seasoning. Bake until golden brown, about 8 minutes. Remove from oven to cool. They will become crisp as they cool.


Tortilla Soup April 20, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 9:03 pm

I just love it when I can take leftovers from one dish and parlay them into a repeat performance of something so delicious it’s almost sinful to call it “leftovers.” Case in point ~ Chipotle Chicken Tortilla Soup. This savory concoction utilizes prepared chicken, complimented  with some spicy additions, to create a Mexican fiesta in your mouth making an ordinary meal into Cinco de Mayo any day!


For marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
  • 4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed

For soup base:

  • 1 jalapeno, roasted and minced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder, plus some for dust tortilla strips
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


8 cups chicken stock, make sure this is stock, not broth (recommended: Kitchen Essentials)

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (recommended: Muir Glen)
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 corn tortilla, cut into strips

For serving:

  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
  • 8 corn tortillas, cut into strips
  • 1 teaspoon salt, plus more for seasoning
  • Pinch chili powder
  • 3/4 cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons tequila
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

1 Hass avocado, halved, pitted and flesh diced

  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, leaves roughly chopped
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

Put the olive oil, tequila, lime juice, chipotle pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper in a small food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Put the marinade in a plastic bag along with the chicken. Seal the bag and refrigerate for 6 to 8 hours.

Preheat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Add the jalapeno and grill until the skin is well charred. Remove the jalapeno to a small bowl and cover with plastic wrap to sweat the skin. When cool enough to handle, remove the stem, skin, and seeds, then finely mince.

Heat a large, heavy bottom pot over medium-high heat and add 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Once hot, add the onion and saute until starting to caramelize, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the garlic, minced jalapeno, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper, to taste. Cook about 3 or 4 minutes, being careful not to burn the mixture. Deglaze the pan with some of the chicken stock, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan.

Add the remaining chicken stock, the crushed tomatoes and the lime juice. Add the tortilla strips and bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasoning.

While soup base is simmering, heat a grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Remove the chicken from the marinade and put on grill. Grill, turning until cooked through, about 14 to 18 minutes. Remove from the grill, to a large plate and when cool enough to handle, remove the skin and bones and shred. Keep warm.

For serving:

Heat the vegetable oil in a tall sided skillet to 350 degrees F. Add the tortilla strips and fry until they are golden brown. Remove to a paper towel lined plate and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of chili powder.

Combine the sour cream, 2 tablespoons tequila, and the remaining lime zest in a small bowl and season with salt and 1 teaspoon black pepper.

To serve, put some of the shredded chicken in the bottom of each bowl and pour in the hot soup base. Top with diced avocado, fried tortilla strips, the tequila crema, and cilantro. Garnish with lime wedges and serve.


Chipotle Chicken

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 12:59 am

Ever since I sampled the Tortilla Soup at Rosa Mexicano in Manhattan I’ve been on a mission to replicate, duplicate, or somehow recreate the amazing spicy creation I deem my Mexican milieu.  Shy of shaking down the waiter for the recipe, I scoured my library of cookbooks, searched endless websites and finally came up with a Chipotle Chicken recipe that can only be described as a five star keeper ~ with a four alarm warning ~ Hot!

Tonight’s dinner consisted of grilled Chipotle Chicken served with steamed broccoli and Spanish rice. Tomorrow’s menu ~ Tortilla Soup! Stay tuned ~

Grilled Chipotle Chicken

For marinade:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • 2 limes, juiced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper

4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin removed

Process marinade ingredients in a food processor,  pulse until smooth, pour into a zip-lock bag,  place chicken pieces inside and seal. Marinate 12 hours (or overnight), shake off excess marinade before grilling.


Butter Cream Icing April 19, 2010

Filed under: Recipes — deirdre175 @ 2:28 am


  • 3 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons whipping cream


In a standing mixer fitted with a whisk, mix together sugar and butter. Mix on low speed until well blended and then increase speed to medium and beat for another 3 minutes.

Add vanilla and cream and continue to beat on medium speed for 1 minute more, adding more cream if needed for spreading consistency.


Happy Birthday Cake ~ my first Blog!

Filed under: Delicious daily banter ~ — deirdre175 @ 12:07 am

The method behind the madness of starting this Blog was to illustrate that managing a family, a full time job, feeding my “foodie” fetish and having fun can be done. What was I thinking??? Act I ~ after a couple of hours tooling around with the tutorial I accomplished a few tasks and learned I have a whole lot more to learn before becoming Blog proficient. Therefore I switched my attention to the task at hand which was dinner. Ordinarily on a Sunday night I try to close out the weekend with something delicious which will also carry over to the next day ~ translation: leftovers. Tonight it didn’t happen ~ too bogged down in blogging and didn’t plan ahead. Not to worry, a burger on the grill is always a welcome standby dish as long as it is followed with a sweet ending known as dessert. Given the time constraint I called upon my dear friend Betty (Crocker) and created one of her box creations (doctored up of course) and finished off with my signature Butter Cream icing. A quick fix dessert with a happy ending. Recipe to follow once I learn how to post. In the meantime, grab a fork and dig in!

German Chocolate Cake with Butter Cream Frosting


Hello world! April 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — deirdre175 @ 8:02 pm

I just gave birth to a Blog ~ a totally different experience than delivering five kids! Let the fun begin!



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