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Tidbits

Mmm… another Reuben.  We’ve pretty much settled on an assembly standard:  The corned beef, sliced just so, homemade sauerkraut, and cheese all warmed in a skillet – adding the cheese only when the beef and ‘kraut are warmed through.  The rye slices are started in the toaster when the cheese goes on.  The thousand island dressing goes in a small bowl to be used as a dip – this helps to keep the sandwich intact because it is not soaking through the toast.  Pickle spear garnish is optional but encouraged!We’ve been seeing a lot of rain, 10 inches in the last week, and rivers and creeks are overflowing.  Whenever we get high water  one of the obligatory stops on the gawking tour is this municipal band shell at the aptly named Riverside Park.  The Big Muddy River (actual name!) is a tributary of the Mighty Mississippi, it enters a few miles below Grand Tower, IL.An access road loops around the park.  It would be visible below the shell but for the high water.  Right now we are kinda “meh” – we’ve seen it higher.  All bets are off should the rain come back.  Crews are sandbagging the big levee along the Mississippi just in case and they are keeping a 24 hour watch.We’re using those naan loaves for pizzas, and here is one replacing a tortilla in a vaguely Tex-Mex hodgepodge with rice, beans, chicken, cheese, eggs, and a salsa verde.Another selfie with Bitsy that I’ve run through the Prisma app.  This is using the Heisenberg filter.  My favorite filter is the one they call Gothic.Time for another pineapple upside down cake!  I used dark brown sugar in this one rather than the light brown I usually go with.  Pour melted butter mixed with brown sugar in the bottom of a pan, this one was made in a 9-1/2″ x 12″ hotel pan with 3/4 cup of butter and 3/4 cup sugar.  I drained the juice from a can of pineapple tidbits and used about half of them in the recipe.  Use the pineapple juice to replace some of the water needed for a yellow cake mix and pour the prepared mix over the pineapple bits.  These baked at 350 for 20 minutes and were not quite done so I added 10 minutes to the timer and reduced the temp to 325 because the top was browning nicely.  If you would rather go from scratch this recipe should work fine for you.These are a favorite and this surely won’t be the last one you’ll see here.  We are just getting warmed up for those summer garden tomatoes.

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Stir Fry Dinner Menu: Orange Chicken and Broccoli

orange-chicken-dinner

I’m not big on deep frying anything, but I love orange chicken so I wanted to find a way to make it so it was still crisp without all the oil and breading. I found the perfect ingredient to produce that result: potato starch. I’ve been using it for a while now and it makes the most perfect Oven Baked Chicken – I’ve been substituting it for the bread crumbs, combining it with crushed rice chex – I’ll post an updated recipe on that technique this week.

I thought it might have the same effect on pan frying chicken pieces. It did. Crispy, light and flavorful. Of course top anything with enough orange sauce and I’m there.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pan-Fried Orange Chicken
  2. Rice or Rice Noodles
  3. Steamed Broccoli

orange-chicken

Pan-Fried Orange Chicken

Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1 tsp orange zest
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp sriracha or chili sauce (opt)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp white or rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn starch

bowl

Mix together in bowl and set aside

Chicken:

  • 1 lb chicken boneless breast (or thighs), cut into large chunks
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • salt and pepper
  • 6 green onions, chopped – save 1 tbsp of chopped greens for garnish
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds for garnish
  • 2 tbsp oil (more as needed)

2 plates, skillet or wok

Add salt and pepper to potato starch. Drizzle a bit of oil over chicken pieces to coat. Dredge in potato starch mixture and move to clean plate. Finish all chicken before cooking.

I used to have a wok, but never got the results I wanted from it. Then I heard Ming Tsai discuss how a skillet works better in regular kitchens because a wok really needs a commercial heat source to get it hot enough to cook the way it is designed. Got rid of my wok and use my skillet now. So don’t feel you need a wok to stir-fry things.

Heat oil and add onions (whites and green) quickly stir until they have softened (about 1 minutes) and then add chicken pieces – one at a time so they all touch oil/skillet surface.  You may have to cook chicken in two batches depending on the size of your pan.

Fry until golden on one side, then flip to brown the other side.  Then I tossed it around a bit until it was golden on all sides.

If you cooked in two batches, remove first batch to clean plate and cook the second batch. Add all chicken back to pan, coat with Orange Sauce and toss until it’s all coated. Let sauce heat through thoroughly over low heat. Serve with rice (or noodles), garnish with sesame seeds and onion greens.



 

 

Greek Marinade – Pork Tenderloin

20161020_1557121600x1200We saw this on one of our TV shows, the diner guy chopped a pork tenderloin into smallish pieces, put them into a small hotel pan, and started adding marinade ingredients.  I scribbled them down as best I could because we had just bought a tenderloin and this looked like a great recipe:  Olive oil, lemon juice, lime juice, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper.  He said cover and refrigerate for a week.  OK.  We nearly forgot it because it was in the basement fridge but we got it out in time.20161020_1621181600x1200I wish I had let the grill heat better but I was afraid to overcook the meat.  I brushed it with garlic oil while it was on the grill and that really flared up.  I did manage to get a touch of brown on there.  It was really tender, and the garlic was prominent.  I think the long marinade in lemon/lime juice had o lot to do with tenderizing it.20161020_1621281600x1200I served it over a bed of wild rice with a side of Brussel sprouts and corn sauteed in duck fat.

Got Soup?

20161004_115025One of the nicest things about smoked chicken leftovers is that you can use it in some absolutely killer soups.  This one is easy:  Take a box of rice mix – this one uses Zatarain’s Long Grain and Wild Mix, add twice the water as the directions say and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat to a simmer and cover until the rice is done, stir in some chopped broccoli and continue to simmer until the veggie is tender, add a handful of diced chicken breast, stir in a generous handful of shredded cheddar, a splash of half & half, keep stirring until the cheese is fully melted.  It’s good served right away, even better if you let it rest awhile, the rice will continue to plump – reheat just before serving, careful to keep the cheese from burning on the bottom.

Dinner Menu: Sweet Ginger Beef and Snow Peas

Stir-frying is great for quick dinners. I often make a double batch of rice, so that I can heat up what I need for another meal. It keeps well for about a week in the refrigerator. Don’t freeze it, the consistency changes drastically.

On the board tonight:

  1. Sweet Ginger Beef & Peas
  2. Rice**
  3. Salad w/Peanut Sauce Dressing
  4. Sliced Pineapples

Sweet Ginger Beef & Snow Peas

  • 1 lb sirloin, sliced thin*
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 8 oz snow peas
  • ½ cup sweet ginger sauce

wok or skillet

Heat oil in skillet, add beef and stir fry for 3-5 minutes, push to sides, add more oil if needed and stir-fry snow peas until crisp-tender, about 3 minutes.  Add sauce, stir in beef and peas until completely coated.  Cook 1 minute or until heated through.

*easiest to do if the beef is slightly frozen

Sweet Ginger Sauce:

If you can’t find bottled sweet ginger sauce, this works well.  In a saucepan add all ingredients and bring to a low boil stirring until thickened. 

  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp sugar or honey
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp cornstarch

Salad w/Peanut Sauce Dressing

  • 16 oz spring greens
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 small Jicama, peeled & sliced
  • 4 oz unsalted peanuts
  • Dressing:
  • 1/4 c. salad oil
  • 2 tbsp Peanut sauce
  • 4 tsp. Vinegar
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

**Try a new rice like Basmati, Jasmine, Arborio or brown rice

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Dinner Menu: Chicken Satay

Chicken Satay Snapseed2

Fun with chicken and pineapples. This is also a good recipe to experiment with rice varieties.

On the board tonight:

  1. Thai Chicken Satay
  2. Rice
  3. Thai Spring Rolls
  4. Pineapple rings w/vanilla yogurt

Thai Chicken Satay

I usually make my own simple peanut sauce – peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice and a touch of hot sauce.

  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 4 boneless thighs (or 2 breasts)
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp peanut sauce
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • peanut sauce for dipping

bamboo skewers (soaked in water for at least 10 minutes), broiler

Pound chicken flat and combine with remaining ingredients, except dipping sauce, and mix well. Marinate for 30 minutes or overnight.  Remove chicken from marinade and cut into 1-inch strips. Thread onto skewers, one piece per skewers and broil or grill, about 5 minutes, until cooked through, the thinner they’re pounded, the quicker they will cook. Turn once to ensure they are evenly cooked. Serve with extra peanut sauce and rice.

Thai Spring Rolls

Recipe and photo directions are here.

Shopping List:

  • bamboo skewers
  • 2 boneless breasts
  • 4 boneless thighs (or 2 breasts)
  •  toasted sesame oil
  •  peanut sauce
  • 8 spring roll wrappers
  • 1 head leaf lettuce
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 medium carrot

Also: soy sauce, white wine vinegar, sugar, ground ginger, fish sauce, garlic, olive oil, lemon juice

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Dinner Menu: Pineapple Rice Bowls and Chocolate Torte

Pineapple rice2In an odd series of events, I was thinking about focusing on rice for this week’s recipe exchange and then pineapples were on sale  – less than a dollar a piece – which reminded me of this recipe which I haven’t make in quite a while. So tonight I made it for dinner for friends.

And just in time for National Chocolate Cake Day, the menu includes…CAKE!

Here is the original post from January 2011 (where does the time go?)

Tonight I’m putting together a menu from two different restaurant visits. Last Friday night Bad Horse and I were in Santa Monica looking for somewhere to have a late dinner. I wanted something light at a place that was neither trendy nor pretentious. Harder to find than you might think. We settled on a cute little Thai restaurant on Wilshire, near the beach. They had pineapple rice on the menu and that sounded like it would fit the bill. I was pleasantly surprised by the dish. First, they served it in a pineapple, which made me laugh and second it was hands-down better than the Ming Tsai recipe I posted a few months ago. I vowed to go home and recreate it. That is our main dish tonight. The dessert comes from a little Italian restaurant near my house where LFern and I had lunch, I believe for my birthday this summer. I ordered their always excellent carrot cake and she decided to try their chocolate torte. We both really liked the torte (ours is a friendship based on coffee and chocolate) and I said I’d try and recreate it for her. It’s 5 months later, but I finally got around to it.   Hopefully it will not disappoint her – I really liked it and had fun making it, twice.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pineapple Rice
  2. Snow Peas
  3. Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

Pineapple Rice

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 4 cups cooked rice (about 2 cups uncooked) – I chose brown basmati
  • 4 strips of bacon, sliced into small pieces
  • 1 boneless chicken breast, diced
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews (I like lots, your mileage may vary)
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu

Wok or skillet

The reason I really like this recipe is how fresh it is. The last pineapple rice was heavy on spices and all the flavors blended together. It was good, but this one, with only pineapple juice and bit of ponzu added, really lets each flavor shine. Their version did not have bacon, but I love bacon and pineapple together, so I added it. You can omit the bacon and fry the chicken in a tablespoon of oil instead. Personally, my shrimp ends up on Bad Horse’s plate, so I consider them an optional ingredient.

Coring the pineapple can be tricky. A friend has a pineapple corer and I wished I had one while I was making this recipe. You don’t need to serve it in pineapple bowls, but if you do, coring out the pineapple can be difficult. I cut off the stem to make a flat bottom, cut the pineapple in half, took out the core, scored the pineapple and scooped it out. By the time I was done, the rice had finished cooking, so it was time consuming.

Next you’ll want to fry the bacon until crisp, add chicken and fry on medium heat until it is cooked through. Add shrimp and let cook for 3-5 minutes, add remaining ingredients (including rice), mixing well over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. You want the pineapple and raisins to be warm, but not necessarily cooked. Serve in pineapple bowls with ponzu or soy sauce. Serves 4

Snow Peas

I served these raw because I liked the crisp contrast to the main course. You can lightly steam them if you desire, or even add them to the rice dish for a true one-dish meal.

Chocolate Hazelnut Torte

  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp milk or cream
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped
  • 1-1/2 tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven at 375 degrees. Butter a 10-inch springform baking.

With this recipe, I made it two different times. The first time I separated the eggs, beat the whites until stiff and folded them in last. The second time I just beat the whole eggs until they were frothy. I actually liked the texture better the second way. You can do either. The directions below are for the latter cake.

In a medium saucepan, whisk the chocolate, milk and butter together over low heat until a smooth mixture forms. Set the chocolate mixture aside to cool.

In a blender, beat eggs well. Add sugar, blending until the mixture turns thick and pale yellow. Add the Frangelino and gradually add the cooled chocolate mixture, blending slowly until combined. Add baking powder, vanilla and nuts and mix until just combined.

Bake for 45 minutes, turn oven down to 350 degrees, then cover with foil and bake for an additional 15-20 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool on rack until completely cooled. Serves 12 small portions

Shopping List:

  • 2 pineapples (if you’re making bowls, otherwise just one pineapple)
  • 2 cups white rice
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 1 boneless chicken breast
  • 8-10 small shrimp, cleaned
  • 3/4 cup raisins
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup diced pineapple
  • 1/4 cup Ponzu
  • Snow peas
  • 12 oz bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 7 eggs
  • 3 tbsp Frangelino (opt)
  • 1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped

Also: baking powder, vanilla, sugar, milk or cream,

Friday Recipe Exchange: What’s in the Pantry?

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The sun is peaking through the clouds after two days of excellent rain. A little thunder, a steady drizzle and snow in the mountains, perfect Colorado fall.

Tonight’s recipe exchange was prompted by a friend of mine who recently lost her husband. I was working at her house and she asked me to come into the kitchen and began going through her pantry, freezer and refrigerator and filling a bag for me with things she didn’t think she’d be able to use. She doesn’t really like to cook much and cooking for one can be a challenge. That’s when I had an idea. I asked her if I could come over every once in a while and cook for her and use up a lot of these amazing ingredients. Her husband was a bit of gourmet, so the whole kitchen is filled with mouth-watering things.

What sold her on the idea was my desire to just pop in, look around the kitchen and come up with something on the spot based on what ingredients sparked my imagination. She thought that sounded like fun and I agree. One of the things I’m really looking forward to is using the black rice. I’ve never cooked with it before.

So for tonight, I went looking through my recipe files to find the ones that started out as a “whatever is in the pantry” meals. They are rarely the same thing twice, but I put the basics in a recipe.

Here are a few:

Pineapple and Bacon Fried Rice is one of the reasons I keep Ponzu Sauce on hand. Click here for that recipe and click here to see all of JeffreyW’s photos and recipes for a variety of fried rice dishes (including the one pictured above).

Pasta is always a great base for a quick dinner.  Here is my Pasta Rustica, (basic recipe here), that can include any number of items from your vegetable drawer or freezer.

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Of course JeffreyW has a great photo of Beef and Broccoli. Yum.

Spicy Beef and Broccoli (click here) is one of my favorite dinners to make with sirloin. And it’s great if you forgot to take the meat out to thaw until late. There is also a full menu, recipes and shopping list at that link.

I thought I hated vegetables, until I had Stir Fried Vegetables in a Bread Bowl, (recipe here) at a local restaurant. Quick and easy, serve over rice or noodles if your basket weaving skills are minimal (that would be me).

Finally, the weekly dinner menu starts with a basic recipe that you can jazz up with whatever you have on hand, Beef Vegetable Soup and Apple Pumpkin Butter. Menu, recipes and shopping list are here.

What are your go-to “raid the pantry” meals? Are there ingredients you always keep on hand for quick dinners? What’s on the menu for the weekend? I’m not sure there will be a recipe exchange next week, I’m hosting a dinner. Stay tuned…

For tonight’s featured recipe, I kept it as simple as it gets. If you can’t find pineapple salsa, JeffreyW has a recipe for it.

Frijoles Ananás

  • 2-15 oz cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 16 oz pineapple salsa
  • 1 tsp to 1 tbsp chili powder (start with 1 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4  tsp to 1 tsp cayenne pepper (start with 1/4 tsp and add more to taste)
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

To serve:

  • 8 oz shredded cheddar
  • 6 to 8 taco size tortillas, warmed

saucepan

Add beans, salsa and spices to a saucepan, bring to a low boil for 1 minute, reduce heat and let simmer 10 minutes, add cilantro and simmer for 5 additional minutes. Serve with cheese and tortillas.

If you want to make it a one-pot meal, add corn or cubed zucchini to the mix for a complete dinner. Serves 4 generously.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

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Friday Recipe Exchange: A Dash Less Salt

Cranberry Chicken 3_Snapseed2

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve had requests to pull together some of my recipes that go easy on the salt. I found quite a few and this week lemon made the biggest appearance, but tonight’s featured recipes bring in a whole host of other flavors that make it easier to go lighter on the salt.

Reducing salt with out losing flavor can be managed with several steps. First of all, try to use fresh foods whenever possible.  If you begin to read labels you’ll see many packaged foods contain extra fat, salt & sugar that you wouldn’t add if you prepared it fresh. And good, fresh ingredients bring their own flavors to a dish.

When you need to buy something, such as canned tomatoes or frozen vegetables, go with the no-salt version whenever possible. Then you can be in control of the sodium.

Adding flavors that enhance a dish is the key to cutting back on salt. Wine vinegars (especially on potatoes and meats), lemon juice (great for fish, vegetables and chicken), limejuice, and different spice mixes, including peppers, garlic, basil, rosemary, celery seeds, dill, toasted sesame seeds and citrus zest – go wild, try something new, you might surprise yourself – can transform a dish.  You can also buy prepackaged spice mixes to shake on, just make sure to read the label looking for sodium content.

With all that in mind, I went searching through my recipes to find ones that used a dash less salt.

I started the week with Lemon Ricotta Pasta with Chicken and Spinach, recipe here.

This week’s dinner menu (pictured at top) is Cranberry Chicken and Lemon Cheese Cauliflower, click here for menu, recipes and shopping list.

JeffreyW makes a flavorful Shrimp,Ham and Kale in Garlic Lemon Sauce, recipe here.

And finally, click here for Grilled Lemon Salmon with Corn Pepper Relish.

For the pet lovers, lots of pictures of Bixby in the next Bixby Diaries installment here.

How about you, what do you use to spice up a dish? What’s on the menu this weekend?

Tonight I’m featuring a few recipes that bring in some sweet and spicy flavors. These beans and rice are a nice change-up from the standard Wash Day Beans and Rice I usually make.

Caribbean Jerk Beans & Rice

  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ onion, chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • ½ green pepper, sliced
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 lb lean boneless pork, cubed in large pieces
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • salt to taste (this is a good recipe to substitute white wine vinegar for salt)
  • pepper to taste
  • ¼ to ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 to 2 tsp Caribbean jerk spice (you can buy it or make your own, recipe below)
  • ½ cup fresh chopped cilantro (Italian parsley works well in this recipe if you aren’t a fan of cilantro)
  • 14 oz can black beans, drained and rinsed (or substitute dry beans, soaked and cooked)

saucepan & skillet

Add water & rice to saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and let simmer until all liquid is absorbed, about 20 minutes. Heat oil in skillet, add pork and brown on all sides for 5 minutes, add onion, celery, pepper & garlic, sauté for additional 5 minutes. Add tomatoes & spices. Let simmer 15 minutes, add cilantro, black beans and simmer additional 5 minutes, until beans are heated through. Add cooked rice & mix thoroughly.

Caribbean Jerk Seasoning

  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 4 teaspoons crushed dry thyme leaves
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Blend together and store tightly covered (I keep old spice jars around for mixtures like this)

Orange-Mango Coleslaw

  • 8 cups shredded green cabbage
  • 1-1/2 large mangoes, peeled, pitted and diced
  • ½ medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½ medium yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 6 green onions, thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

Combine cabbage, mangoes, bell peppers, green onions and cilantro in large bowl; stir gently to mix. Add Orange-Mango Dressing; toss gently to coat. Serve, or store in refrigerator up to 1 day.

Orange-Mango Dressing

  • ½ mango, peeled, pitted and cubed
  • 6 ounces plain nonfat yogurt
  • ¼ cup frozen orange juice concentrate (not diluted with water)
  • 3 tablespoons limejuice
  • ½ to 1 jalapeño pepper, stemmed, seeded and rough chopped
  • 2 tsp minced fresh ginger (substitute 1/2 tsp ground ginger if desired)

Place mango in food processor; process until smooth. Add remaining ingredients; process until smooth.

That’s it for this week. Have a great weekend – TaMara

 

Grilled Lemon Salmon with Corn Pepper Relish

This is a great recipe and you can cook it on the grill or indoors in the oven.  Add baked potatoes or rice and fresh greens from the garden for a nice summer meal.  Serves 4.

Grilled Lemon Salmon:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp lemon zest
  • 4 – 6 oz skinless salmon fillets

zip-lock bag

Add ingredients to bag and refrigerate 1 hour or overnight.  Grill on a clean, oiled grill or use a well oiled grilling pan, or broil in oven in a heavy skillet or broiler.  Cook for 4 minutes on each side, or until fish flakes easily.  Serve with relish.

Corn Pepper Relish:

  • 1 cup cooked corn (or canned, drained)
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • ½ green pepper chopped
  • ½ red pepper chopped
  • ½ yellow pepper chopped
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1 tbsp chopped jalapeno
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • ½ tsp crushed garlic

bowl

Combine all ingredients and let marinate while salmon cooks.  You can use the remaining peppers in a salad for your next dinner.