Open-Faced Salmon BLT’s

It’s been a long time since I’ver posted, but trust that I’ve been both cooking and eating with my regular enthusiasm!  We recently went camping and were looking for something fresh and easy for dinner – who needs another hot dog on a stick, right?!  These open-faced salmon BLT’s were simple, delicious and easy to make with minimal mess.  Try them at home for a busy weeknight or as a wonderful weekend brunch.

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OPEN-FACED SALMON BLT’S

Ingredients

  • 1 Lbs. Fresh Salmon Filet
  • 4 Sliced Ciabatta Bread
  • 8 Slices Crisp Cooked Bacon
  • 2 Avocados
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • Fresh Bibb Lettuce
  • 2 Ripe Tomatoes, Sliced
  • 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbs. Dijon Mustard
  • 2 Tbs. Water
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Chives, Chopped
  • Pinch Red Pepper Flakes
  • Salt & Pepper To Taste

Instructions

  • In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, dijon mustard, water, chives and a dash each of salt and pepper.  Stir until smooth and place in refrigerator.
  • Remove skin and pit from avocado.  Dice and place both avocados in a small bowl.  Add lime juice, red pepper flakes and salt and pepper to taste.  Smash together with fork until mixture is slightly lumpy.  Cover and place in refrigerator.
  • Salt and pepper the salmon filet.  Grill or pan sear until cooked through – about 5-7 minutes per side depending on thickness.
  • Remove salmon from grill and let rest.  Place ciabatta on grill and toast both sides for 30-45 seconds until browned.  You can also use a toaster here.
  • To assemble sandwiches:  smear each piece of toasted bread with 1/4 of the avocado mixture.  Add two slices of bacon per piece, then layer with tomato, Bibb lettuce and 1/4 of cooked salmon.
  • Drizzle each sandwich with dijon/mayo mixture and serve immediately.

I hope you love this easy dish as much as we did!  It could easily be doubled or tripled for a larger group, but still doesn’t require a ton of work.  Whether outdoors on the grill or made in your kitchen, you’ll add this to your summer meal rotation for sure.  Dig in!

Family-Style Cobb Salad

I love a great Cobb salad – the crunchy, soft, cold, salty combination of healthy food and various toppings that make it not-quite-so-good-for-you!  It’s a great idea for a summer dinner or on a buffet, especially this version.  Made in a big bowl or on a platter, it’s a beautiful display of color, flavor and texture.  The recipe below will easily feed four adults for dinner or 8 or more as a buffet side.

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FAMILY-STYLE COBB SALAD

Ingredients

  • 1 Head Iceberg Lettuce, Chopped
  • 2 Medium Tomatoes
  • 6 Chicken Tenderloins, Grilled
  • 8 Strips Crisp Bacon
  • 1 Avocado, Chopped
  • 1/4 Cup Finely Diced Red Onion
  • 2 Hard Boiled Eggs, Chopped
  • 6 Ounces Blue Cheese Crumbles

Instructions

  • On a large chilled platter, arrange chopped lettuce in a even layer.
  • Seed and dice tomatoes and arrange together on lettuce.  You can choose to arrange ingredients in groups, stripes, pie shapes or whatever you think looks prettiest.  It’s best to keep them together rather than mix them up though so they keep their texture until serving.
  • Dice grilled chicken and place on the lettuce.  Don’t forget to season your chicken before grilling!
  • Crumble the bacon and arrange on lettuce.  Do the same with avocado.
  • Arrange onion on lettuce.  Be sure that it is finely diced to provide just the right amount of bite in contrast to the richness of the avocado, blue cheese and egg.  Don’t leave it out!
  • Finally, finish by arranging the egg and blue cheese to complete your salad.
  • Place in refrigerator for up to 2 hours or serve immediately.

While this hardly requires anything else, serve it with your favorite salad dressing.  My wife likes ranch, but I enjoy the contract of a vinaigrette or Russian dressing as well.  Don’t like one or more of the ingredients?  Lots of substitutes work well – cubed ham, sweet peas, cheddar cheese, etc.  Just keep in mind the combination of flavor and texture and change out like-for-like.  Add a crusty loaf of bread and crisp white wine and you have a beautiful summer dinner.  Dig in!

Veggie Pizza

What a great Memorial Day weekend we had!  Perfect weather, swimming, grilling and fantastic food from friends and family made it a great three days.  One of the many dishes I made for one of the celebrations was veggie pizza.  A soft-baked crust, creamy ranch spread and fresh cut veggies, and a little optional bacon, make this a tasty grab-and-go snack.

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VEGGIE PIZZA

Ingredients

  • 2 Rolls Crescent Sheets
  • 8 Ounces Cream Cheese, Softened
  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 Envelope Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 1 Cup Shredded Carrots
  • 1 Cup Broccoli Florets, Chopped
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes, Halved
  • 1 1/2 Cups Shredded Cheddar Cheese
  • 3 Green Onions, Chopped
  • 6 Strips Crispy Bacon, Chopped (optional)

Instructions

  • Spread crescent sheets on a large baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake according to package instructions and allow to cool.
  • In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese, mayonnaise and ranch dressing mix until smooth.
  • Spread mixture evenly over baked crescent crust.
  • Top the mixture evenly, and all the way to the edge, with each of the toppings.
  • Finish pizza by sprinkling bacon on top.  Of course, this is completely optional if you would rather it be meat-free.
  • Refrigerate for 2 hours and serve.  Do not make this a day ahead as the crust will get  soggy if it sits too long.

This recipe is delicious and versatile.  The crust and spread make a great base for any seasonal vegetables.  Think about using crispy radish slices or a variety of peppers.  Utilize your herb garden and sprinkle some fresh parsley or chives on as well.  I hope you give it a try and share any of your ideas with me.  Dig in!

FireLake Grill House – Minneapolis

On a recent visit to Minneapolis we spent a night at the Radisson Blu at the Mall Of America.  Given a fun weekend of the State Fair, grill-outs with friends and probably a little too much indulgence all the way around, we were ready for a quiet light dinner.  Luckily, the FireLake Grill House in the Radisson Blu was close and offered a ton of options.

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Modern and rustic, the atmosphere is warm and comfortable.  There’s seating for small parties and large groups, but it all seems to fit together perfectly.  The aroma of wood-grilled meat and sweet cornbread swirled as we sat in a puffy leather booth.  The menu is pretty extensive heavy on the grilled/smoked meats.  There are beautiful small plates and salads as well with a focus on fresh local ingredients.  We started with the Chicken & Minnesota Wild Rice Soup and Heirloom Tomato & Buffalo Mozzarella Salad.  Both were some of the best versions we’ve ever had!

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Looking for lighter options for dinner, we ordered the Minnesota Salad (a wonderful blend of greens, bacon, corn, cranberries, tomatoes and rotisserie chicken) as well as the Asparagus Risotto (with asparagus, roasted tomatoes, herbs & mushrooms).  The fresh ingredients really were stars in these dishes.  Carefully crafted combinations created by the chef gave you mouthfuls of summer and happy bellies.  If those weren’t enough on their own, the CornBread Skillet made with heirloom polenta and served with honey butter made from their own bee hives on the hotel roof was a special treat.

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Everything coming from the kitchen looked ridiculously good!  I can’t wait to make another trip and get my hands on there 12-hour smoked brisket and a bourbon on the rocks.  Whether you’re near the Mall Of America or in downtown Minneapolis, you should make it a point to have brunch, lunch or dinner here!  You can take a look at their menu at firelakerestaurant.com.