It’s a Flash in the Pan…Roasted Salmon and Succotash

Roasted Salmon and Succotash is a one pan wonder!

Roasted Salmon and Succotash

Roasted Salmon and Succotash

Make Life Special is all about cooking great food for your family and friends while using recipes that are quick, delicious and easy.  Sheet pan dinners are just the ticket!  This Roasted Salmon recipe is fuss free cooking at it’s best.   I don’t know what took me so long to discover this simple method of cooking but now I’m grabbing my sheet pan almost every day to roast something!  I like to roast a sheet pan full of fresh vegetables every night.  Roasting is a healthy way to cook and the vegetables develop a delicious caramelization that would satisfy even the most picky palate.   Sheet pan cooking allows you to cook your main dish and your side dish both at the same time and in the same pan.  Clean up is a breeze too because you line the sheet pan with aluminum foil before assembling the recipe.  Easy…breezy!

Roasted Salmon and Succotash Sheet Pan Dinner
 
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Cook your main dish and your side dish in one pan in under 30 minutes!
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • ½ pound fresh green beans
  • 1 ear fresh corn, kernels cut from the cob
  • 6 oz. cherry tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound fresh salmon fillet
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons fresh dill, roughly chopped PLUS two sprigs of fresh dill to top the salmon fillets
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  3. Toss the green beans, corn and tomatoes with the olive oil and arrange on the pan in a single layer.
  4. Place the salmon in the center, skin side down; season with salt and pepper. Place a spring of fresh dill on top of each fillet.
  5. Roast until the vegetables are tender and browned in spots and the salmon is just opaque in the center, about 20 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix the sour cream and 1 tablespoon of the dill; season with salt and pepper.
  7. Sprinkle the salmon with the remaining dill and serve with the sauce.
  8. Enjoy!

 

Sheet Pan Roasted Salmon and Succotash

Variation:

Feel free to substitute other vegetables  in this recipe.  You might try baby carrots with fingerling potatoes or broccoli florets with cherry tomatoes.  Vary the vegetables to suit your taste buds!

Dill Sauce for the Roasted Salmon!

Dill Sauce

Dill Sauce for Roasted Salmon

This sauce only has 2 ingredients but it adds balance to this dish.

You can make the dill sauce ahead of time.  It will keep for a couple of days in the refrigerator.

Health Benefits

Don’t forget that salmon is incredibly healthy; in fact it is loaded with nutrients and is considered a “SuperFood”. Salmon is high in protein and is a great source for omega-3 fatty acids.   Check out these 11 Impressive Health Benefits!

Remember….lets make life special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!

Get Ready to Make a Bloomin’ Onion!

Backyard BBQ’s are in full swing and what could be better to start the party than a Bloomin’ Onion!  I’ve made this recipe several times and it gets rave reviews every time!

Bloomin’ Onion

Bloomin' Onion

Make a Bloomin’ Onion for Your Next Backyard BBQ!

This is easy to make and is like the Bloomin’ Onion at Outback Steakhouse.  You don’t need any special tools to cut the onion – just a sharp paring knife will work.  Here is a great tutorial: How to Slice a Bloomin’ Onion.  Now…here is the recipe.  Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients because most of the ingredients are seasonings.

 Bloomin’ Onion Recipe

Bloomin' Onion
 
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Here is the easy recipe for a Bloomin' Onion. This is a great recipe for your next Backyard BBQ!
Author:
Recipe type: Appetizer
Serves: 4 servings
Ingredients
  • 1 large, sweet onion, such as Vidalia
  • 2½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 gallon corn oil (for frying)
Instructions
  1. To slice the onion, cut off ½ inch from the pointy stem end of the onion (the top) and peel. Place the onion cut side down.
  2. Starting ½ inch from the root end, make a downward cut all the way through to the board. Repeat to make four evenly spaced cuts around the onion.
  3. Continue slicing between each section until you have 16 evenly spaced cuts.
  4. Turn the onion over and use your fingers to gently separate the outer pieces. (The onion will begin to look like a flower at this point)
  5. Whisk the flour, cayenne pepper, paprika, thyme, oregano, cumin and ½ tsp. black pepper in a bowl.
  6. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, milk and 1 cup water.
  7. Place the onion in a separate bowl and pour all of the flour mixture on top. Cover the bowl with a plate, then shake back and forth to distribute the flour.
  8. Lift the onion by the core and pat off the excess flour.
  9. Using a slotted spoon, fully submerge the onion in the egg mixture (spoon on top if necessary).
  10. Remove and let the excess egg drip off, then repeat the flouring process.
  11. Refrigerate the onion while you heat the oil.
  12. Heat the oil to 400 degrees.
  13. Using a wire skimmer, carefully lower the onion into the oil, cut side down.
  14. Adjust the heat so the oil temperature stays close to 350 degrees.
  15. Fry about 3 minutes, then turn the onion over and fry until golden, about 3 more minutes.
  16. Drain on paper towels.
  17. Season with salt and pepper and serve with the dip.

 Bloomin’ Onion Dip

This dip can be made the day before your BBQ and it will keep for several days in the fridge.

Bloomin' Onion Dip
 
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You can make this a day or two before your BBQ.
Author:
Recipe type: Appetiser
Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise (don't use a substitute)
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 1½ teaspoons ketchup
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tablespoon drained horseradish
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Combine all of the dip ingredients in a bowl, cover and refrigerate.

 

Fruit Centerpiece Ideas

Here is a terrific variation of my Pineapple Palm Tree Centerpiece Idea!

Monkey Pineapple Palm Tree Centerpiece

Pineapple Palm Tree Centerpiece with Monkeys from http://www.glorioustreats.com/2012/08/pineapple-tree-centerpiece-with-fruit-monkeys.html

Here is the link to my original post:  Vickie’s Pineapple Palm Tree Centerpiece Ideas

I’m always looking for creative new centerpiece ideas to “Make Life Special”!  This Monkey Pineapple Palm Tree would be a great centerpiece for a luau or even a kid’s party!  I loved this idea from http://www.glorioustreats.com/2012/08/pineapple-tree-centerpiece-with-fruit-monkeys.html. You can watch my YouTube Video and see just how easy a Pineapple Palm Tree is to make:  Pineapple Palm Tree Ideas .

Here are some tips to remember when making the Pineapple Palm Tree:

  • Don’t try to do this ahead of time.  Once a pineapple is cut, it will become mushy when you refrigerate it.  This is easy to make so just plan on making it about an hour or two ahead of the party and let it sit out at room temperature.
  • Build the Pineapple Palm Tree Centerpiece on a tray that can catch all of the juice that will drain out of the pineapples.
  • Look for pineapples on sale – there are some great prices on pineapples this time of year and this is an inexpensive entertaining idea.
  • Fresh pineapples can be stored in the refrigerator for 2 to 4 days.
  • Pineapple is low in calories, has no fat and is an excellent source of Vitamin C.
  • Any extra pineapple you have after making the fruit centerpiece can be cut into bite-sized pieces and used on your fruit tray.
  • If you have a “green thumb” you may want to grow your own pineapple plant.  It’s easy to do and makes a great houseplant!  You just twist the leafy crown off of the pineapple, let it dry for about a week and then plant it in a pot. You will have several leafy crown left over when you make the Pineapple Palm Tree so this would be a great use for them. after they are growing, they would make great hostess gifts!

Easy Balsamic Fig Salad

Balsamic Fig Salad

Balsamic Fig Salad

Here is a simple, healthy salad that everyone will love!

Fresh, easy and pretty enough for company, this Balsamic Fig Salad  can be tossed together in no time.  I like to assemble the greens on individual glass plates and cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until serving time.  This pretty salad takes advantage of fresh strawberries and can be easily varied to include other fresh fruits such as diced apples or fresh blueberries for a color explosion on your plate.

I topped the greens and strawberries with the Chocolate Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette from Dove Chocolate Discoveries.  This dressing can be ordered online and shipped right to your door.  I think the chocolate and fig combination is a delightful flavor combination.   You could also top it with bottled Poppy Seed Dressing or another bottled balsamic dressing.  If you want to expand the recipe, add a cheese such as crumbled feta, Gorgonzola, Blue Cheese or crumbled goat cheese.

Balsamic Fig Salad
 
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Author:
Recipe type: Salad
Ingredients
  • 1 bag spring mix salad greens
  • fresh strawberries, sliced (or blueberries or diced apples)
  • Chocolate Fig Balsamic Vinaigrette from Dove Chocolate Discoveries OR other bottled Balsamic Dressing OR bottled Poppy Seed Dressing
Instructions
  1. Arrange the salad greens on a salad plate. Top with sliced fresh strawberries. Drizzle with salad dressing.

Rinse the the lettuce greens in a colander and dry on paper towels before assembling.  You can get creative and vary the fruit, add crumbled cheese or even add toasted nuts to the mix. Just remember that you can assemble this recipe ahead of time and avoid any last minute rush at mealtime.

Balsamic Fig Salad

Sometimes the simple things are the best….and this is a super simple recipe that will round out any meal.

 

 

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche

Mexican Ceviche is out of this world!  It is usually served as an appetizer with tortilla chips but I think it would also be lovely served as a main dish salad on lettuce leaves.  I just returned from a trip to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and while I was there, I had the opportunity to take a Mexican Cooking Class.  This is a popular method of “cooking” fish and shellfish in Mexico by marinating it in either lemon or lime juice.  Mexican Ceviche is a very popular appetizer served everywhere in Mexico and it is gaining popularity here as well.  I have to admit that I did not think I would like Ceviche because I have tried Sushi many times and I just don’t like it.  However, Ceviche is totally different both in taste and texture.  It is quick to make, only has a few ingredients and makes a perfect addition to your next party!  Here is how we made it:

Mexican Ceviche
 
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Here is a quick and easy appetizer straight from Cabo San Lucas!
Author:
Recipe type: appetizer
Cuisine: Mexican
Ingredients
  • 4 fresh shrimp, cleaned, shelled and de-veined, and finely chopped
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh tomato
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh cucumber (peeled)
  • ⅛ cup chopped red onion
  • ⅛ cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped jalapeno pepper
Instructions
  1. Clean, shell and de-vein 4 large shrimp. Place in a bowl and sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  2. Add ¼ cup chopped tomatoes, ⅛ cup peeled and chopped fresh cucumber, ⅛ cup chopped fresh cilantro, ⅛ cup chopped red onion and 1 to 2 tablespoons fresh chopped jalapeno pepper (to taste).
  3. Marinate no longer than 30 minutes.

Villa del Arco Chef in Cabo

Villa del Arco Chef in Cabo

Here is the chef at Villa del Arco preparing for the Mexican Cooking Class.

Vickie and Jodi Weber…..ready for the cooking class

Vickie and Jodi at Cabo Cooking Class 2

Clean, peel and de-vein 4 fresh shrimp.

Cabo Cooking Class 4

 

Chop the shrimp and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of lemon juice and salt and pepper.

Cabo Cooking Class 8

 

 

Add chopped tomato, chopped peeled cucumber, chopped red onion and chopped fresh cilantro.

Cabo Cooking Class 12

Add chopped jalapeno to taste…

Cabo Cooking Class 13

Mexican Ceviche!

Mexican Ceviche!

Mexican Ceviche!

I would love to serve this as a first course for a dinner party — in martini glasses!

Here is a sampling of some of the other great appetizers we enjoyed on our trip:

Food at Wine Tasting 1 Food at wine Tasting 2

 

Remember, let’s share great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy! 

 

 

 

 

Summer Recipes …And The Livin’ Is Easy!

Zinnias

 Summer recipes that are quick and easy help us enjoy sharing great food with our family and friends!

Summer is in full swing and everyone is looking for easy summer recipes!  I can’t wait to share the new recipes I’ve been cooking for the blog and YouTube channel!  The bouquet above is from my flower garden and if you remember last summer, I shared the success secret for garnishing your food creations with fresh flowers…. “Edible Flowers for Garnishing”  Be sure to check out those tips!

Here is a preview of upcoming summer recipes that I’ll be sharing over the next few weeks:

  • Easy 7-Up Biscuits
  • Bananas Foster….It’s a real WOW!
  • Vickie’s Almost Famous Bloomin’ Onion
  • Baby Shower Ideas
  • Crock Pot Overnight Oatmeal
  • Easy Skillet Green Beans
  • Flower Petal Ice Cubes
  • Summertime Lemonade……Plus more!!!!

Many of you have probably been wondering why I have not been posting recipes lately.  Well, when my youngest daughter, Kacy, left home to do an internship in Cancun , I decided that I needed to:

1) Get a job and

2) Be around teenagers

I checked the job board and there was a teaching position open in my immediate area.  I applied for the position…and they hired me. I thought I would be able to blog and teach….but my first year back in the teaching arena proved to be a FULL TIME job!  I loved every minute of it and I can’t wait for school to start again in the fall and now I think it will be possible for me to keep up with my classroom work, blogging and my YouTube channel.  I must say, I have missed my Make Life Special work.

So…on with Make Life Special!  Let’s continue our journey …let’s enjoy some easy summer recipes and  share great food with our family and friends!

Summer Bouquet 2

 

 

 

 

Potluck Survival Guide Review

Potluck Survival Guide: Care & Feeding of the Athletic Supporter

By: Cherie Kimmons

Potluck Survival Guide 

Gift Guide Age Recommendation:­  18+

 

Review

I don’t have a child in sports, yet.  With my son’s love of kicking and throwing balls, I am sure that is just around the corner.  I am, however, a priest’s wife.  I have lovingly endured 3 years of seminary and a few years assisting him in his ministry.  I have endured and/or loved many potlucks.  If every potluck organizer had this book at their disposal, I might have loved a few more than I endured!

This book would be a fabulous gift for any parent, grandparent or involved community member.  Potluck Survival Guide is just that…. A guide.  Kimmons walks you through how to set a menu, how to keep things kid-friendly, how to feed athletes (pre-game and post-game), how to set up a buffet, and how to calculate how much food you will need.  As if that weren’t enough, there are enough recipes in here to give a lot of variety to your potluck dishes.  I usually bring a smashed garlic potato dish to a potluck.  As much as I love that dish, I am so excited by this cookbook that I am giving it a rest for the foreseeable future!

Potluck Survival Guide would not be worth much if the recipes didn’t hold up to the test.  I am thrilled to say that the recipes are top-notch.  I recently had company stay at our home.  It was a few friends from seminary.  I knew we would stay up late talking and I wanted a nice hearty dish on the table for breakfast.  I also didn’t want to wake up ridiculously early to cook.  Kimmons’ Overnight Breakfast Casserole was just what I was looking for.  I prepped it the night before (it took 10 minutes) and baked it upon waking.  45 minutes later breakfast was served.  My friends and my husband were raving about this dish!

Sausage and Egg Casserole Beauty

Where to Buy

For $23.70  you can purchase this delightful book at Amazon.

 

For More Information

You can visit Cherie Kimmons’ Website .

 

Reviewed by: Nicole

 

Note:  Cherie Kimmons graciously supplied me with a copy of Potluck Survival Guide: Care& Feeding of the Athletic Supporter for review.  No other compensation was received.  The review in this post is honest and my own.

Throwing a 4th of July BBQ

4th of July

4th of July

Throwing a 4th of July BBQ is easy with these great tips from my friend Sara Stringer with sarasblogging.  

Thank you Sara for this guest post.  You have given us a lot of terrific success secrets for our 4th of July BBQ!

It’s summer and you know what that means: chilling in the backyard on the weekends, having the whole neighborhood over for barbecue, grilling and picnic fare. Understandably you want these get-togethers to be perfect. Here are some tips to help you get as close to perfection as possible.

Stray from the Norm

Obviously you’re probably going to want to do burgers, hot dogs, maybe some chicken.  But what about varying the menu a little bit?

Shish Kabobs are usually a big crowd pleaser—and easy to make vegetarian for the vegetarians and vegans in your midst.

Make your own fruit salad. Anybody can dump a few cans of fruit cocktail into a bowl. Instead, why not try the following recipe:

You’ll need:

A bunch of your favorite fruit: grapes, strawberries, apples, whatever.

Lemon juice – one lemon’s worth

Lemon zest—one lemon’s worth

1/3 cups of very light corn syrup

What You Do:

Cut up the fruit into manageable sized bites. Make sure that the skins, rinds and peels are removed. Toss the fruit chunks into a big bowl. Aim to have at least six cups worth of cut up fruit.

In a smaller bowl combine your lemon zest, lemon juice and corn syrup and mix thoroughly.

Pour the glaze over the fruit and toss until everything is coated equally.

The great thing about this recipe is that it is easy to adjust depending on the size of your party or gathering. Less for fewer people, more for more. You can also adjust it according to taste to make it more “lemony” or less.

Simple is Best

Decorating for an outdoor event presents a unique set of challenges. It’s easy to go overboard, trying to make things festive. The truth is that, with backyard barbecues and neighborhood block parties, less is very often more.

Tables: instead of paper, go for vinyl (or easily wipe-offable) table cloths—but don’t buy them pre-made! It’s super easy to make your own. Simply take a trip to your local fabric shop and see what they have in stock (it’s helpful to have some coupons for JoAnn’s in your pocket before you get to the store). You can buy a few yards of fabric and cut them and hem them up to fit the tables you’ve got on hand. Then, after the party simply wipe them off, fold them up and store them until the next get together.

Centerpieces: Find some large (widely mouthed) glass vases. Fill them up a third of the way with sand. Place tall fat candles (white looks the most elegant) in the sand.  The weight of the sand will help the candle stay “anchored” and will keep the vases from toppling over. The vases, in turn will keep tablecloths from blowing away. The flame from the candles will be safe within the vase but the smoke drifting out will help keep bugs away from peoples’ food.

Clean Up

At the end of the summer, go through all of your supplies. The great thing about what we’ve talked about here is that everything is affordable. If you have to toss it out due to wear and tear, you won’t mind very much and you can easily (and cheaply) replace it all next year.

The one exception is the grill. Look at your grill when grilling season is over. If it looks like it’s getting worn down, you can use the following fall and winter season to scour the internet looking for sales or an online Black Friday deal to help you replace it before the next season starts.  Waiting until next summer only guarantees an expensive purchase.

What are some of the things you’ve done to make your backyard barbecues as perfect as possible?

July 4th

Happy 4th of July!

Potato Smashers for Easy Potato Recipes

Looking for some easy potato recipes?

Potato Smashers are like Potato Skins, covered with crisp bacon and sharp cheddar cheese…but on a grander scale!  You can make these in about 15 minutes and your family and friends will rave!

Print the recipe here:

Potato Smashers
 
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Recipe type: Side Dish
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 8 small new red potatoes, about 2 inches in diameter
  • ½ cup water
  • 4 slices bacon
  • 2 tablespoons Zesty Italian Salad Dressing
  • ½ to 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Instructions
  1. Place potatoes and water in 2 quart microwavable bowl. Microwave, uncovered, om HIGH for 10 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Let stand a couple of minutes to cool slightly.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet 8 minutes or so..until crisp, turning frequently. Drain on paper towels, leaving the grease in the skillet.
  3. Drain the potatoes, press each potato with the bottom of a small bowl or saucer to flatten to ½ inch thickness.
  4. Heat Italian dressing in the skillet with the bacon grease. Add potatoes; cook 4 minutes or until bottoms are golden brown.
  5. Meanwhile, crumble bacon. Turn the potatoes over; sprinkle with the cheese and bacon.
  6. Cover skillet with lid and cook an additional 2 minutes or until the cheese is melted.

Potato Smashers Ingredients 

Place potatoes and water in 2 quart microwavable dish.  Microwave, uncovered on HIGH for 10 minutes…

Microwave Potatoes

Cook the bacon…and save the grease!  You are going to brown the cooked potatoes in that grease in a few minutes!

Cook Bacon

 

Drain the potatoes and “smash” each one with the bottom of a small bowl or saucer..

Smash Potatoes

 

Heat the dressing in a large skillet with the bacon grease..add the potatoes. 

Add Italian Dressing to Potato Smashers

 

Use kitchen scissors to crumble the crisp bacon.

Crumble Bacon with Kitchen Scissors

 

Cook the potatoes 4  minutes or until the bottoms are golden brown.  Turn the potatoes over.

Flip Potato Smashers

 

Top with bacon and cheese.

Top Potato Smashers with Bacon and cheddar Cheese

 

Serve….

Potato Smashers

This is one of my favorite potato recipes!

Video: Potato Smashers

Potato Smashers are loaded with bacon and cheddar cheese.

Hickory Farms Features Vickies Baked Potato Bar Ideas

Baked Potato Bar

Looking for some baked potato bar ideas?

I recently posted  baked potato bar ideas and how to bake the perfect baked potato.  You can check out my post here:  Perfect Baked Potatoes and a Baked Potato Bar.  This is an easy way to entertain because your guests help themselves.  The baked potato bar is great any time of year.  It would be perfect at a BBQ on the patio or for a Super Bowl Party as suggested by Hickory Farms.  It is fun to combine different options on the baked potato bar – depending on the season.  Add piping hot chili as a topper in the cold winter months.  Add fresh chopped tomatoes or green onions when the garden is busting with fresh vegetables.  Hickory Farms suggested adding chopped summer sausage as a topper and I like that idea too.   There are really countless options..just use your imagination for creative flavor combinations. 

My recipe for the perfect baked potato is also easy.  You can bake as many potatoes as your oven will hold!  I love to add the sea salt or kosher salt to the outside of the potato skin before baking because it adds a nice salty flavor and some crunch to the potato.   And, potatoes are loaded with nutrition!   

 

Hickory Farms just featured our Make Life Special Baked Potato Bar ideas in their “Winning Super Bowl Party Foods” post.  In addition to the toppings I suggested, they added their chopped summer sausage — what a great idea!

Check out the Hickory Farms post on Super Bowl Party Foods for some great entertaining ideas:

Hickory Farms Winning Super Bowl Party Foods

Thank you Hickory Farms for the great shout out!

Remember, “Let’s Make Life Special by sharing great food with our family and friends!  Enjoy!”

 

   

Make Life Special
2 Cypress Rd Litchfield, IL 62056 US
Phone: 217-556-8297 Website: http://www.makelifespecial.com