Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter SauceGone Fishin’
For whatever reason, I have always associated Father’s Day with camping or living in the mountains. I have no idea why. I guess dads and camping kinda go hand in hand? Growing up we didn’t do a lot of camping and the only mountain living we did was in a condo at Tahoe. Perhaps I have seen too many movies, read too many books or looked at too many L.L. Bean catalogs but the picture of frying fresh rainbow trout by the side of a river in a cast iron skillet over a campfire is what I see when I think of Father’s Day.

I have the perfect skillet for it too; My grandfather’s vintage 9-inch cast iron skillet that he would take with him on camping trips building trails in the early days of the Sierra Club. That skillet has seen a lot of miles. On a whim, I pulled it out not too long ago and pan-fried for dinner some of the excellent trout we have in our meat case. Trout is not usually something I make often—mainly because it just seems so much better eating it on the banks of the river you just pulled it from but that night it hit the spot.

We all over-ate.

Trout is best prepared simply. You can dredge it in a little flour or cornmeal to give it a little crunch or, like I did, heat a little butter and olive oil in the pan and fry it up as is. Squeeze a little lemon on it and it’s heaven on a plate.

We are hoping to get away and do a little camping as a family this summer though unfortunately, it won’t be for Father’s Day this year. If you find yourself with the time and the inclination, I encourage you to grab a tent and your fishing pole and find your own A River Runs Through it moment…just don’t forget the pan.

Pan-Fried Trout with Lemon Butter Sauce
Yields 4 servings 

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Garden Green Bean Salad

Garden Green Bean SaladHow’ve You Bean?
The recent warm weather means that my garden is starting to produce. So far I have picked some sweet snap peas and a few juicy strawberries…and the herbs are going crazy. The biggest crop we’ve had so far though is the green beans.

I love fresh green beans. My daughter eats them raw, which I will do as well when they are fresh off of the vine. They are crunchy and sweet and taste very much like summer. Usually, I just steam or blanch my green beans and eat them with a little butter and occasionally a little garlic. But, with so many beans coming in I have been looking for something else to do with them.

The obvious choice would be to pickle them. Pickled green beans are fantastic straight from the jar. And, they are even better in a Sunday morning brunch Bloody Mary. Alas, pickling takes time that I do not have at the moment. So, whatever I decide to do with my bans has got to be a little faster than canning.

My search has unearthed a number of green bean salad recipes that are great for the warmer weather and pair well with grilled fish and chicken. They are also a nice change from the usual picnic potato salad.

Last night we had this Garden Green Bean Salad with some pan-fried rainbow trout. It was perfect!

Garden Green Bean Salad
Yields 4 to 6 servings Read more…

Chili Corn Casserole

Chili Corn Casserole Corn Fed
Can someone tell me where the month of May went? Yesterday I blinked and now all of a sudden we are staring Memorial day in the face. The fact that Memorial Day weekend is upon us is a good thing in my opinion, if only because it is the herald of summer weather, fun, and a slower pace.

For me, and a lot of other people, Memorial Day marks the beginning of BBQ season as well as the arrival of the summer produce. I’ve noticed the peaches and nectarines have started to appear as well as the English peas and the good strawberries. What makes me happiest though is when the local corn starts coming in.

I love fresh corn on the cob and when it’s at its peak, sometimes I don’t even bother to steam it. Corn the cob can be a pain in a BBQ setting ‘cause you aren’t always able to sit and eat. And, managing it one handed can lead to either serious butter stains or corn in the dirt. So, it’s nice to do something with corn that is more paper plate friendly.

Per usual, I will be spending Memorial Day enjoying America’s pastime from the bleachers in Brentwood. But, there will still be time to throw some steaks on the grill and celebrate. So, I am crossing my fingers there will be some corn on the way to the baseball fields ‘cause there is still one more family birthday to celebrate and I’m in charge of sides.

I found this take on cheesy corn casserole in one of my magazines and I can’t wait to give it a try this weekend. The original recipe called for green onions. But, since I am a rebel, I am going to swap those out for diced green chilies. Feel free to try the onions for less of a kick.

Happy Memorial Day!

Chili Corn Casserole
Adapted from Cooks Illustrated
Yields 8 to 10 serving  Read more…

Vietnamese Steak Marinade

Vietnamese Steak MarinadeLighten up, Francis
It’s week two of the let’s lighten up menu. I’m not saying I have been totally good about it but I will say I have been doing better than usual. There may have been pizza for dinner one night ‘cause we had to do some laundry and straighten up the house as things had gotten way out of hand. There may also have been a hot dog at the softball game because I was hangry. (Youth sports is no place for hanger.) For the most part, we’ve been eating better.

Saturday’s fantastic weather prompted me to head outside and do some grilling. Per usual, we had a packed schedule. Thankfully, I was able to make a marinade out of stuff I had on hand. I poured it over some flat iron steaks that needed to be used, tossed them back in the fridge, and left for the afternoon. I threw the steaks on the grill when we returned for a quick dinner with some steamed rice and broccoli.

As it turned out, there were a lot of leftovers—which was a good thing if not unusual. For lunch on Monday I was able to slice up some of the meat and put it on a salad I tossed together with some spring mix, peppers, sliced red onions and whatever else I found in the crisper. What a light and tasty meal! Salad is not usually my first lunch choice but topped with the sliced meat it was the perfect meal.

Vietnamese Steak Marinade
Adapted from NY Times Cooking

This marinated and grilled Vietnamese flank steak is fantastic over a simple salad or steamed rice bowl with broccoli. It also is delicious with our recipe for Vietnamese Cucumber SaladRead more…

Amy’s White Chicken Chili

Amy's White Chicken ChiliBack to Reality
It happens every time we go on vacation. Usually, the day before we are supposed to head home, my husband starts professing our need to eat better when we return to undo any of the caloric damage we have done while sipping Mai Tais and eating hula pie. Of course, this same conversation occurs after the holidays as well. It’s kind of a running theme. (But, I digress.)

Since returning from vacation, I have been trying hard to lighten up our meals–which has been more challenging than normal due to crazy sports schedules and the recent addition of braces for one of my sons. While he would love it, the last thing the dude wants to chew right now is a steak. Pasta is an obvious choice but my beloved and I are trying to cut back the carbs. Finding common ground ain’t easy. Plus, it’s still raining and grilling in the rain is not my idea of fun…

Last Friday I roasted two chickens ‘cause chicken is a good, lighter choice. (Full disclosure, I did make mashed potatoes for the boys. I may have had a bite.). Since my husband and daughter were away at a volleyball tournament, the boys and I were only able to get through one of the chickens which meant I needed to do something with the other. I chose to make this White Chicken Chili.

It’s surprisingly not bad for you! And, since April has been noticeably chilly, a nice and warming bowl after a day of work is a good thing. Bonus, using the pre-cooked chicken means it’s pretty easy to eat for the metal mouths….

Amy’s White Chicken Chili
Yields 6 to 8 servings

This is easy enough to prepare on a weeknight if you are starting with pre-cooked chicken.  I like to serve it up in individual bowls with a choice of toppings for everyone to choose from. Feel free to experiment with your own ideas. Read more…