Monday, March 30, 2009

Cheeseburger Meatloaf

Ok, I know what you all are thinking..."WHAT THE HELL IS THAT!?!?" HAHA I know it doesn't look very eye appealing from the outside, but trust me when I tell you that this meatloaf was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! I was craving some comfort food last week, because I think that is what happens to you when you come off an all you can eat-full of comfort food trip!! So I thought I would look for a meatloaf recipe that was somewhat healthy, but didn't have a lot of luck (nothing really struck my fancy) and then I got this idea to try a "Cheeseburger" Meatloaf!!! (And of coarse the husband had to go and ruin it by asking if we could have fries with it!!! LOL)

I remember as a kid my mom would always smother her meatloaf with ketchup and I never really liked it, but I got to thinking what if it was smothered in cheese!! Because everything is better with cheese on it!!! And then I got this bright idea to put the cheese inside...jelly roll style!!! Thanks to all my pumpkin roll experience, the idea of having cheese inside sounded really really good! I knew I had all the ingredients at home, so off I went to experiment in my kitchen, and I was NOT disappointed!!! I hope you give it a try, it was so delicious!

Actually I don't think that this meatloaf is really all that unhealthy...loose the fries and it probably isn't too bad for you!
Cheeseburger Meatloaf
(recipe from Liesl's Kitchen)
1 lb of lean ground beef or turkey
1/2 of a small onion finely chopped
1 minced garlic clove
1/3 cup reduced fat wheat Ritz crackers (ground in food processor)
1 egg white
dash of red pepper flakes
dash of salt
fresh cracked pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl combine beef, onion, garlic, crackers, egg white, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper. Use hands (because that is the best tool you have in your kitchen!!) and combine all ingredients until mixed well and it starts to form a ball.
Lay a sheet of wax paper on a flat surface. Put meatloaf in the middle and spread out with you hands till it forms a rectangular shape. I baked mine in a loaf pan so make sure that the width isn't too big for your loaf pan. Sprinkle a generous amount of cheese over top of meatloaf. Roll up jelly roll style (starting carefully at one end folding about an inch over and then gently rolling till you get to the end). Make sure you grease your loaf pan and place the meatloaf in seam side down.
Bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for about 45 minutes. After 45 minutes is up uncover and sprinkle more cheese on top. Place back in the over for about another 10 to 15 minutes or until cheese is nice and melty.
**Look at all that yummy cheesy goodness!**

Chicken, Rice and Bean Wrap

When I saw this recipe pop up in my Google Reader I knew I had to make it! I have been trying really hard to not be wasteful and use up what I have on hand before I make new trips to the grocery! (And I just so happened to have these ingredients laying around!) It sounded very delicious and really easy (which is just what I needed coming back from my vacation)!! I probably had this meal put together in under 20 minutes! I made a couple substitutions to the recipe because it was what I had on hand, but feel free to look at the original recipe here.
Chicken, Rice and Bean Wrap
(adapted from Proceed With Caution)

1 can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 cups salsa (I think I ended up using a little more)
3 tablespoons taco seasoning
4 cups rotisserie chicken
1/2 cup shredded mexican cheese blend
dash of red pepper flakes (I added this because my husband and I like things spicy!)
8-12 tortillas ( I used sun dried tomato, because that is what I had)
Low fat sour cream for dipping
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Scoop into tortillas and fold into a burrito shape.
***This recipe made A LOT! I definitely had leftovers which was nice, but in the original recipe she talks about freezing the leftovers if you check that out if you are interested.***

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Back from Vacation, but not quite ready to hit the kitchen!

Look at all that Mango! Seriously, how often can you go on vacation, ask for some Mango and get a huge plate full!! It's a no wonder I gained weight!!!

I just got back from a much needed vacation to the Mexican Riviera. We went on a cruise, NCL's Star, for 7 days! We stopped at Cabo San Lucas, Mazatlan and Puerto Vallarta. It was very relaxing, however having been on 12 cruises prior (this being my first NCL) I found myself saying that I would never cruise NCL again! But all in all it was good, and I got to eat LOTS and I mean LOTS of food. Let's just say I came back 6 lbs. heavier than I was!! LOL So diet time starts tomorrow, that means no sweets for awhile and definitely heading back to the gym! I wanted to post a couple of pictures from my trip for your enjoyment! I probably won't be posting much this week as I will still be getting settled and going through food withdrawls! Nothing like eating nearly every 2 hours!!! haha Hope to be posting more delicious recipes soon!
First time in the Pacific Ocean!
Our Boat
The happy *TAN* couple!! :o)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Andes Mint Pie

Yes, this was just as good as it looks!!

A friend of mine had a birthday coming up, it is actually March 14th (Happy Birthday Jamie!). She really doesn't like anyone to acknowledge her birthday at all, silly girl. I love making a big deal out of people's birthdays! It's the one day a year where it can be all about them! Plus doesn't it just make you feel special to have people hoot and holler over you one day? It does me! So I figure it needs to be that way for everyone else!! Especially for people that don't like all the fuss, that makes it even more fun!!

I really wasn't sure what to make for Jamie, but I knew I wanted to do something different. Actually that seems to always be my reason for every occasion, trying to find something new and different. I had remembered reading about these Andes Mint Pie's awhile back and it reminded me of the Olive Garden dessert they used to have on their menu. I don't remember if it was actually called Andes Mint Pie or not, but I remembered it being good! So I did some research on it and sure enough, people all over the Internet have recreated this taste bud treasure!

So I thought I would give it a try for Jamie...note to self I need to always remind myself to STOP doing experimental recipes for special occasions!!! LOL Although this turned out amazing and tasted delicious (which is really all that counts in my book!) the presentation of the mousse was not what I thought it was going to be. It actually wasn't as stiff as I would have liked it. (I am not sure if I didn't cook the yolks enough or beat my whites enough...but I am sure it was in one of those steps!) It looked perfect in the pan... but as soon as I took it out of the springform, the mousse went down the sides (and on the counter!! LOL). It was a mess for sure, but no one cared and it was all gone in about 5 minutes, maybe less!
Andes Mint Pie
Mint Mousse:
1 c Andes Mints, chopped
6 Eggs, separated
3/4 c Heavy Cream
Mousse Directions:
In microwave, for about 15 seconds, melt mints. Put egg yolks in top of double boiler and whisk until pale yellow and frothy. Add melted mints and mix until combined. The mix will get stiff. In a separate bowl using a mixer, beat egg whites until stiff. Fold the egg whites into the mint and egg yolk mixture a little at a time. Whip up the heavy cream with a mixer until thick. Fold this into the mint mixture a little at a time.
Chocolate Pie:
1 box Brownie Mix
1 c Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/4 c Milk
1 pkg Andes Mints Mint
Mousse Pie Directions:
Prepare brownies according to package directions. Pour batter into lightly greased springform pan. Bake according to package directions.
To Assemble Pie:
Top cooled brownie with mint mousse and refrigerate. Heat the milk in a pan on the stove. Add the chocolate chips and melt, constantly stirring over low heat until it makes a chocolate sauce. Top the cooled pie with the chocolate sauce. Decorate with Andes Mints.
**I didn't drizzle the chocolate sauce on top, I actually thought that would be too much. So I just chopped my extra Andes Mints in the food processor and sprinkled them on top. I think I liked that better! So if you decide to do it this way, just follow the same steps but skip the chocolate sauce part. Also, you certainly could go with homemade brownies, but I was running short on time (because I am getting ready to go on vacation, so I won't be posting for awhile, but promise to return soon!) and used the short cut!**

Light Chicken Parmesan

I love Italian food and I wish I didn't...carbs are not figure friendly!! I think between my husband and I we could really eat it at least 5 times a week! One of his favorite dishes is actually Chicken Parmesan. I saw this post on Erin's Food Files and was immediately drawn to it because it's a HEALTHY version!! I know what you all are thinking too...right Chicken Parmesan healthy?? But yes my friends that is the case, and very tasty too!! You know what else made this dish even more appealing? Upon reading Erin's post, I discovered that it is originally from Everyday Food!! Crazy right!?! Seriously this whole Everyday Food Magazine has changed my life...and my taste buds!! haha

This recipe called to only bread one side, BUT since you know it's "healthy" I couldn't resist breading both sides myself! But certainly feel free to only bread one. I am sure it would taste just as good, just not as crunchy! This meal was not a disappointment. I couldn't believe that a healthy Chicken Parmesan could taste THIS GOOD! It totally changed my outlook on the dish and in all honesty I don't think I would want to eat it any other way! All I have to say is look out Olive Garden, you ain't got nothing on Martha!! HAHA
Light Chicken Parmesan
(from Erin's Food Files, originally from Everyday Food)
2 slices whole-wheat sandwich bread, torn into pieces
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon olive oil
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 large egg white
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 8 ounces each)
3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella (3 ounces)
1 can (28 ounces) whole peeled tomatoes in puree
1 garlic clove, minced
Preheat oven to 425 degrees, with rack in upper third. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil; set aside. In a food processor, place bread, Parmesan, oil, and a pinch each salt and pepper. Pulse until coarse crumbs form; transfer to a shallow bowl. Place flour in a second shallow bowl; season with salt and pepper. Place egg white in a third shallow bowl, and beat with a fork until frothy.
(I did both sides of my chicken here, but the original recipe calls for just one so that is what I posted, but feel free to coat how you like.) Dip top side of a chicken breast in flour, shaking off excess. Dip same side in egg white, letting excess drip off, then in breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere. (Do not bread other side.) Repeat with remaining chicken and transfer, breaded side up, to prepared baking sheet. Bake until breadcrumbs are crisp and browned, 8 to 10 minutes. (Mine took a little longer-like 20 minutes-I think my chicken breasts were a little thicker) Remove from oven; sprinkle with mozzarella. Continue baking until chicken is opaque throughout and cheese is lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a large skillet, place tomatoes, breaking them up with your fingers. Add garlic; season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cook until sauce has thickened, 6 to 8 minutes. Serve chicken with a generous amount of tomato sauce.

**Disclaimer-YES THIS WAS A LARGE PORTION!! BUT I HAD TO MAKE THE PICTURE LOOK GOOD!!! And no it was not consumed all in one sitting!!! LOL**

Friday, March 6, 2009

Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting

Last Sunday, my husband and I had a LAZY day! We were really needing to have one with as busy as the two of us have been lately. I actually had taken a vow to try to not eat sweets until my vacation (which is in one week and I can't wait!), but I remembered seeing this recipe on The Life and Loves of Grumpy's Honeybunch. It looked and sounded like it would be amazing and the added bonus was that it was a Cooking Light recipe!! :o)

I actually had all the ingredients on hand from making the red velvet cake (ie cake flour and buttermilk) so that made me super excited!! I couldn't believe how moist these bars were. The roasting of the banana's in brown sugar really added a great flavor to this dessert. And the icing...oh the icing...seriously it was the best part!!! LOL I had to give several of these away so I wouldn't eat the whole pan and everyone raved about them! One piece of advice...heat the leftovers up in the microwave for about 15 seconds, they taste even better warmed up!
Roasted Banana Bars with Browned Butter-Pecan Frosting

2 cups sliced ripe banana (about 3 medium)
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
2 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup nonfat buttermilk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs
Baking spray with flour

1/4 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1/3 cup (3 ounces)
1/3-less-fat cream cheese, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°.

To prepare bars, combine banana, brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon butter in an 8-inch square baking dish. Bake at 400° for 35 minutes, stirring after 17 minutes. Cool slightly.
Reduce the oven temperature to 375°.

Weigh or lightly spoon cake flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine cake flour, soda, and baking powder in a medium bowl. Combine banana mixture, buttermilk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in another medium bowl. Place 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at medium speed until well blended. Add eggs to granulated sugar mixture; mix well. Add flour mixture to sugar mixture alternating with banana mixture, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Pour batter into a 13 x 9–inch baking pan coated with baking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.
To prepare frosting, melt 1/4 cup butter in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool slightly. Combine browned butter, powdered sugar, cream cheese, and 1 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl; beat with a mixer until smooth. Spread frosting over cooled bars. Sprinkle with pecans if desired.
I did mine without the pecans just because my husband doesn't really like them.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Greek Stuffed Peppers

I saw these browsing Everyday Food's website and I couldn't resist the urge I knew I just had to make them! They were just so colorful and sounded so tasty! I love anything "Greek" inspired, especially if it calls for Feta cheese! Greek flavors are just a party in your mouth! I really have enjoyed finding some of Martha's hidden treasures on Everyday Food's website, can you tell!!
I wasn't sure how my husband was going to feel about these, because I knew it was a "different" take on a stuffed pepper, which he loves. But I like that they were healthy and I especially liked that they called for couscous. I love couscous!! So really these peppers were perfect, seeing as how I really liked each individual ingredient so much!!!
I didn't stray from this recipe, as I tend to normally do, other than the fact that I didn't cook them in the slow cooker. I actually prepared them the day before and then instructed my husband to put them in the oven when he got home from work so they would be ready to eat when I got home!
Greek Stuffed Peppers

4 large orange bell peppers
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup crumbled feta (4 ounces)
1/2 cup couscous
4 scallions, white and green parts separated, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse salt and ground pepper
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Slice a very thin layer from the base of each bell pepper so they sit flat. Slice off tops just below stem. Discard stems; chop tops, and place in a medium bowl. Remove ribs and seeds from peppers.

To bowl, add beans, feta, couscous, scallion whites, garlic, and oregano. Season with salt and pepper, and toss to combine. Stuff peppers with bean mixture. Place upright in an 8x8 inch glass baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 hours.
Top with green parts of scallions and serve with lemon wedges if desired.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Buffalo Chicken Wrap

So last night for dinner, I treated myself! My husband has been feeling really sick and actually threw up on his way home yesterday. (I know sorry for that imagery!) But I had been planning on this great dinner, which I knew I would have to put off until he felt better...I can't wait to blog about it and share it with all of you! I am hoping to make it for dinner tonight!

So since I love to keep a stocked freezer/pantry, I always have some of my homemade chicken noodle soup on hand for special nights like last night. But that wasn't going to cut it for me!! I wasn't sick and I wasn't eating chicken noodle soup!!! I knew I had the ingredients on hand to make this wrap and I knew I didn't have enough to make two so I thought it would be perfect for my dinner. I felt so bad eating it in front of my husband though. He loves anything and everything Buffalo Chicken! This wrap is so yummy! If you like Buffalo Wings at all, definitely give this wrap a try. I never used to like Blue Cheese either, but I have really gotten into it over the past couple of really makes this wrap what it is! Enjoy!

Buffalo Chicken Wrap
(from the kitchen of Liesl)
1 sun dried tomato tortilla
1 cup of rotisserie chicken shredded
1/4 cup buffalo wing sauce
1 teaspoon lite butter
2 ribs of celery
a couple of tablespoons of blue cheese crumbles (I used reduced fat)
blue cheese dressing for dipping (I used lite)
In a small saucepan, heat butter and buffalo sauce over medium heat. Add chicken and cook until heated throughout and sauce has coated the chicken. About 5 minutes.
While chicken is heating, cut one rib of celery into long strips. I cut the rib in half and then cut each half in long strips. (The other piece I used to decorate and eat along side my wrap.)
To assemble:
Lay tortilla flat on plate.
Spoon chicken mixture out of pan into the center of the tortilla.
Lay the thin strips of celery on top of the chicken.
Sprinkle the blue cheese crumbles on top of the celery.
Carefully roll up the wrap and slice at an angle. I put a toothpick in each half to help hold it together.
This wrap was so easy to make and very delicious!!! The blue cheese dressing on the side added an extra zing with every bite. I had to watch my husband drool over my plate while I was eating this...I promise you it really made me feel guilty!! OK really it just gave me reason to savor every bite, he usually eyes my plate for leftover bites...but I knew this wrap was all mine so I took my time and truly enjoyed it!!! I did have to promise to make it for him soon, once he gets better of course!!

Monday, March 2, 2009

A "lighter" Pulled Pork Sandwich

This meal was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! My husband LOVES pulled pork! I always hate buying it in the pre-made packages at the grocery store. I mean really I have nothing against Lloyd's BBQ, but it is just SO bad for you. My husband loves the stuff ... seriously could probably eat the stuff every weekend if it was up to him. That with his Lay's potato chips!!! haha

I got my Everyday Food Magazine last week, and I was so pumped to see that it had a lighter take on pulled pork inside. It was paired with a cabbage slaw, something very southern, and it sounded delicious. Having had great experience with Martha's magazine previously, I knew I wouldn't be disappointed! This was so delicious!!! Great for a lazy Sunday afternoon!
I actually did this recipe a little different than in the magazine. I knew I wanted to slow cook my pork tenderloin all morning so it would be nice and tender. So what I did was just put the tenderloin in a roasting pan and generously seasoned the outside with coarse salt and fresh ground pepper. I then baked it at 225 for about 4 hours. I turned it halfway through the 4 hours just to re-season and let some of the juices move around the pork. If you want to try it the way I did (which I HIGHLY recommend) see below. Otherwise the original recipe can be found here.

Lighter Pulled Pork Sandwiches
(adapted from Everyday Food Magazine)
1 can (15 ounces) no salt added diced tomatoes in juice
2 tablespoons brown sugar
4 garlic cloves minced
1 generous tablespoon spicy brown mustard
coarse salt and fresh ground pepper
1 pork tenderloin
*when I buy pork tenderloin at the grocery it usually comes pre-packaged with two pieces of tenderloin. I cooked both of my portions and shredded both. I froze some of the shredded pork for a rainy I really only used half. But you can eyeball it. Everyday Food said it was about 1 pound of tenderloin...hope that helps.*
1/4 cup light mayo
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon celery seed
1/4 head green cabbage, shredded
wheat rolls
Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Generously season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper. Place in roasting pan with lid and cook for 4 hours. At the 2 hour mark turn over pork tenderloin and re-season. After 4 hours is up pull out of oven, leaving covered, let cool for 15 minutes.
While pork cools, combine the tomatoes, brown sugar, minced garlic, spicy brown mustard, salt and pepper into a blender. Pulse mixture until it is all combined. Carefully pour tomato mixture into a deep saucepan. Bring to a boil. While tomato mixture is coming to a boil, shred your pork. Once shredded, and tomato mixture is boiling, add the pork to the tomato mixture. Cover and let simmer for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Meanwhile, make slaw: In a large bowl whisk together mayo, 1 tablespoon vinegar, celery seed and 1 tablespoon water. Season with salt and pepper. Add cabbage and toss to coat. Set aside.

When the 25 minutes are up on the pork, add the 1 teaspoon of vinegar and stir to combine. Prepare sandwiches as follows:

Portion a generous amount of pork onto one side of a wheat roll.
Top with cabbage slaw mixture.
Place other bun on top and enjoy!!
**Photo from Everyday Food, I must have been so into eating my sandwich I set the camera down to continue assembling mine and my husbands that I never got a picture of it as a "sandwich"!!!
hahaha silly me!!

It's just a little Whining...

My friend sent me a link to this story and I couldn't resist a little whining! I am a wine drinker, it is really one of my passions! I mean come on ... sipping a glass of your favorite wine on any given day is a stress reliever! Sadly my friends, grocery stores here in Tennessee don't sell wine :o( and even more upsetting is the fact that Trader Joe's doesn't sell their great cheap wine. So here I stand passing along the word hoping to get others to join me. If you would like more information please visit: Red White and Food ... now back to food blogging!! Help us bring wine to Tennessee grocery stores!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

A Birthday Suprise...and a Red Velvet Cake!

This weekend was a big weekend for us...we decided to surprise my husband's mom for her birthday by flying her down to Tennessee for the weekend! She had no idea what was happening and was totally taken by surprise by the whole thing! I couldn't have planned it more perfectly!! Our family back in Ohio helped us pull the whole thing off, by telling her that she was staying with her daughter who lives in Columbus for the weekend. Little did she know she would end up in the Columbus airport on her way to Nashville!!
So to help celebrate her birthday, I wanted to make a special cake. My husband told me that she really liked Red Velvet Cake and I remembered seeing this recipe on Pinch My Salt awhile back. I knew this would be the perfect time to try it out! It seemed like it took me a long time to prepare the cake, but that could be because I was making dinner at the same time!! The cake turned out REALLY good. The icing on this cake was truly amazing! My only advice would be, and this could just have been my oven, but I think I would have been ok taking my cake out at 25 minutes rather than 30. I also kept mine in the refrigerator and decided when we were eating it that it would have tasted better left out at room temperature. The rest of the weekend we left it out! My mother-in-law loved it and we finished that whole cake in 4 days!!! (not all by ourselves I might add...we did have some company that stopped by and helped us out!!)
Red Velvet Cake

2 1/2 cups sifted cake flour*
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
2 Tablespoons cocoa powder (unsweetened)
2 oz. red food coloring
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup buttermilk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour two 9-inch round cake pans or three 8-inch round cake pans. Sift together the cake flour, baking powder, and salt into a medium bowl; set aside. In a small bowl, mix food coloring and cocoa powder to form a thin paste without lumps; set aside. In a large bowl, using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Beat in eggs, one at a time, then beat in vanilla and the red cocoa paste, scraping down the bowl with a spatula as you go. Add one third of the flour mixture to the butter mixture, beat well, then beat in half of the buttermilk. Beat in another third of flour mixture, then second half of buttermilk. End with the last third of the flour mixture, beat until well combined, making sure to scrape down the bowl with a spatula.

Make sure you have cake pans buttered, floured, and nearby. In a small bowl, mix vinegar and baking soda. Yes, it will fizz! Add it to the cake batter and stir well to combine. Working quickly, divide batter evenly between the cake pans and place them in a preheated 350 degree oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes. Check early, cake is done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool the cakes in their pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. To remove the cakes from the pan, place a wire rack on top of the cake pan and invert, then gently lift the pan. Allow cakes to cool completely before frosting. Frost with buttercream or cream cheese icing (recipe below).

Recipe Notes: *Sift cake flour once before measuring, then sift again with the other dry ingredients per recipe instructions. Wear an apron and be careful with the red food coloring–no matter how hard I try, I always end up staining something! As you’re mixing the cake batter, use a spatula to scrape down the bowl frequently throughout the entire process.

Cream Cheese Frosting
16 oz. cream cheese (2 packages), softened
1/2 cup unsalted butter (one stick), softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
pinch of salt

With an electric mixer, blend together cream cheese and butter until smooth. Turn mixer to low speed and blend in powdered sugar, salt and vanilla extract. Turn mixer on high and beat until light and fluffy. Use immediately or refrigerate, covered, until ready to use. If refrigerated, the frosting will need to be brought to room temperature before using (after frosting softens up, beat with mixer until smooth).

Recipe Notes: If you prefer a sweeter and/or stiffer frosting, more powdered sugar can be added (up to four cups). But remember, the more sugar you add, the less you’ll be able to taste the tangy cream cheese!
**I added about 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar and it was perfect!**

Balsamic Glazed Seared Salmon with Lemon Broccoli

My husband and I LOVE salmon! We eat it sometimes twice a week! It is so good for you and can be prepared so many ways! I came across this recipe, on Brooklyn Farmhouse, looking for new ways to make salmon. It sounded so good and I couldn't wait to try it. The original recipe actually prepared it with watercress, but I had fresh Broccoli at home that I wanted to use up. This Salmon had such great flavor! It was so moist and the Balsamic glaze added just the right amount of sweetness and zing with every bite! I love the fact that it was seared too, the outside of it had a great crunch to it! And as a bonus, the Salmon came right off the skin!! I always hate that eating a piece of stubborn Salmon that won't pull off it's skin after it is cooked. I think having it seared helped that.

I hope you enjoy it as much as we did, we even had leftover glaze so I saved it in a container for the next nights dinner! I actually did similar steps in preparing a marinade for chicken. I just added balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, brown sugar, and lots of seasoning (garlic, salt, pepper) to a zip lock baggie with my chicken in it. I let it marinade over night and grilled it the next night for dinner. It was so good!! We drizzled it with the leftover glaze from the the Salmon recipe!! Give it a try, you won't be disappointed!
Balsamic Glazed Seared Salmon
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 4-ounce wild Alaskan salmon fillets with skin
Salt and freshly ground pepper
In a small bowl, mix the vinegar, water, brown sugar, and lemon or lime juice. Dry the salmon very, very well with paper towels. Salt and pepper the flesh side of the fillets. Don’t be afraid to season the fish well. In a large non-stick pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until it is very hot (but not smoking). Add the salmon fillets skin side up and sear about 5 minutes for medium. Gently flip the fillets and sear on the skin-side for another 5 minutes for medium. Remove the salmon fillets to a plate. Very carefully add the vinegar mixture to the pan - it will sputter and splatter, so be careful! Boil over high heat until the sauce has reduced to a medium-thick glaze (reduce by about 1/3).
We served our salmon with Broccoli. I actually used one of those Zip Lock Steam bags...I put the broccoli in and added some lemon zest, salt and pepper. When the Broccoli was done I drizzled it with some lemon juice! It paired so nicely with the Salmon!!