Kitchen Recipes & Tasty Tips

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Since I love discussing food ideas with friends, I decided to share my most requested recipes and a few tasty tips in this week's column.  So, if you are looking for a simple but savory salmon recipe or a palette pleasing pot pie, read on. Perhaps you will see something here that will make your life easier and tastier!

Simple & Savory Salmon
Last summer, I was stunned when I went to collect my son from a sleepover and he jumped in the car raving about the salmon his friend's father had made!  My son ate salmon?! On his own without being bribed?!  I had to get that recipe and I couldn't believe how easy it was! Only two ingredients are required. Just mix together 1/2 cup of maple syrup and 1/2 cup of soy sauce. Then marinate the salmon in it for as long as you desire. Then prepare your salmon the way you like it on the grill, stovetop or oven. Boil the left over marinade and pour over the finished salmon placed over brown rice. Simply scrumptious and so simple every time!  Oh and don't forget to buy wild salmon for the healthiest cut.

Great Guac Every Time….And With a Little Kick!
I have to thank Trader Joe's for this one because they sell a perfectly packaged guacamole kit. Complete with two avocados, garlic, onion, jalapeno pepper, tomatoes and a lime for a bit of freshly squeezed lime juice, this recipe is a no brainer. You simply chop up the provided ingredients and combine, but here are the extra things I do to get the spicy guac that gets my guests asking for more every time…

Guac Instructions:
mash all the ingredients with a potato masher because this gives you the perfect consistency
add a little sea salt to taste
for a zesty spice with some kick, add 1/2 of a package of McCormick Produce Partners Spicy Great Guacamole mix. This is my secret ingredient that takes the taste over the top!

After many failed attempts of trying to keep my guac green, I was about to give up when I stumbled on a trick quite accidentally. I had tried lemon juice and putting the avocado pit in, but none of this worked. Then one day when I needed to take my guac to a party, I simply covered it air tight with a plastic baggie and placed an ice pack on top. To my disbelief, several hours later it was still a gorgeous green and not the unattractive mud color. So, I tried this again at home. I placed a plastic baggie air tight on top followed by a Tupperware lid and it was green the next day.  It was a little muddy two days later, but I am happy with getting one day's worth of leftover guacamole because it makes great breakfast tacos!

Crowd Pleasing Chicken Pot Pie

This is my standard dish that I take to new Moms. It has every food group in one dish, it can be frozen for a future dinner and it is simply darn good comfort food! And each and every time I make this pot pie for someone, they ask me for recipe, including several of the husbands…to my surprise! 

Before I go over the recipe, here is the tasty trick for a perfect pot pie crust. Purchase two frozen pie crusts and keep them frozen until the last second. Pour the pot pie mixture (recipe below) into one frozen pie crust. Then snap the second crust out of the dish it came in and place on top of your pot pie.  If it is frozen, it will easily pop out of the pan it comes in.  However, if it thaws out, it is difficult to work with. The trick is to keep it frozen. Cut several slivers in the top pie crust for venting during baking.  It molds into a pot pie crust that is perfect and golden every time. So simple and so yummy! Check out my segment to see how I worked with the frozen pie crusts. Here is the recipe…

Ingredients for Perfect Pot Pie

1 can of cream of potato soup
1 can of Veg All Veggies, drained
1 package of precooked diced chicken pieces
3/4 Cup Milk
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 frozen pie crusts

Instructions for Pot Pie
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Mix the first five ingredients together. Pour the mixture into one frozen pie crust. Pop the second frozen pie crust out of the pan it came in and place on top of the pie crust that is filled with the mixture. Using a knife, place several slits in the middle of the top crust for venting during baking. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes and then either dig in or cool and freeze for a time-saving future supper!

Busy Kid Healthy Dinner on the Run
When we only have 20 minutes to make a hearty and healthy meal, I make sure I always have a can of black beans, shredded cheddar cheese and tortillas on hand. Simply heat the beans and put them in a warm tortilla with cheese and wrap. Then put the veggie tray out with fresh fruit and you have a fast dinner that you can feel good about feeding your busy kids. Then it is off to practice, piano lessons, etc. Go Mom Go!
And because I call my column Beauty & Life on a Budget, here is my beauty recipe for keeping hands looking good despite all the cooking, chopping and cleaning we do in our kitchen. 

Help for Hands Recipe

Wear gloves when you wash dishes, as this will lengthen the life of your polish and cut down on dry skin. Also have a pair on hand to use when cutting hot peppers!  I have burned my face and my eyes because I chopped gloveless and then touched my unsuspecting face.
Keep soap and lotion by the sink so that you don't forget to moisturize with each hand washing.
Use food for beauty with olive oil as an all natural hand moisturizer and garlic as a nail strengthener! Seems odd, but it works. A nail technician once told me to rub raw garlic on my nails to reduce peeling. 
Several kitchen products that have hit store shelves recently are Scotch Brite Ultra Nail Saver Absorbent Scrub Sponge and Dawn Hand Renewal with Olay Beauty pomegranate scent dishwashing detergent. These new innovations gives a gal's hand a helpful hand with beauty in the kitchen.

So, the next time you are assigned  a party food to bring, make my spicy guac. Or if you know someone that just had a baby, bake two chicken pot pies so that the new Mom has one dinner on hand and one to freeze for later.  And if your child won't try salmon, try my two step savory salmon.  And don't forget to always keep a can of black beans in your pantry for a healthy dinner on the run. Tried and true, these ideas have saved the day for me time and time again. And these are truly the recipes that I get asked to share repeatedly.  I hope that you enjoy these ideas as much as my family and friends do. Happy last minute cooking, my busy friends!