Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Pan Seared Salmon over Basil Lemon Garlic Pasta- with Spinach, Capers, and Artichokes

This is one of my FAVORITE healthy meals to make. It is very light yet filling. I love it because it is a good alternative to the typical heavy pasta dish. All ingredients are used in the amount to your liking. I LOVE capers, spinach, and garlic so I add a lot of each. If you are not too keen on any of the following ingredients, you can leave them out or just use minimal amounts!


  • Salmon fillet
  • Whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • Capers
  • Artichoke hearts (mine are from a jar not fresh)
  • Spinach (remember spinach shrinks a lot once it is cooked, so add double the amount of fresh spinach that you want in your dish) 
  • Dill weed
  • Garlic, minced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Garlic powder (I used a tsp-tsp and a half)
  • Dried basil
  • One lemon 
  • Grated parmesan cheese
    Pre-cook pasta until it is slightly past al dente. Drain and set aside. Be sure to heavily salt the water once it is boiling so the pasta has some flavor, as whole wheat pasta can taste somewhat bland on its own.
   Coat the salmon with olive oil, then season with salt, pepper, dill weed, and garlic powder. Sear the salmon in a skillet drizzled with olive oil on Med-Hi for 1 1/2- 2 minutes per side, depending on the thickness. Salmon should stay slightly pink on the inside. Remove from pan and set aside or remove pan from heat and use a new pan for the pasta/veggie mix.
   Drizzle olive oil in the pan, until the bottom is coated, reduce heat to low. Saute spinach, artichoke hearts, capers, and minced garlic (add garlic last as to make sure it doesn't burn.) Season with salt and pepper. Once spinach is wilted and artichokes are soft add the pasta, basil (as much as you like), 1/2 tsp garlic powder, and fresh lemon juice (about a half lemon squeezed) and combine until all ingredients are incorporated. 
Place the pasta/veggie mix on a plate and top with salmon. Garnish with lemon slice and sprinkle with parmesan cheese and more lemon juice if you desire. ENJOY!   

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Birthday Cake Bites

     I decided to share a sweet treat that we enjoy making and eating together. These bites are FULL of texture from crunchy morsels and sprinkles in between ooey-gooey-chewy top and bottom layers. This recipe is very simple and takes NO TIME at all to throw together. It is my go-to recipe for birthdays, thank-you gifts, or social gatherings. I've heard nothing but amazing reviews! 


  • 1 box butter yellow cake mix
  • 1/2 cup of softened, unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup rainbow sprinkles (not the crystallized sugar kind)
  • 4 oz sweetened condensed milk 
  • 1 cup white chocolate morsels

- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a 9x9 inch baking pan with parchment paper or foil, and spray generously with nonstick cooking spray.

- In a standing mixer, combine cake mix, egg, and butter until a firm dough is made. Add 1/2 cup of the sprinkles and mix on slow until sprinkles are incorporated into the dough. The dough should have rolled itself into a ball at this point. 

- Remove 2/3 of the dough from the mixing bowl and press into the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Evenly spread the white chocolate morsels and remaining 1/2 cup of sprinkles over the pressed dough. Drizzle sweetened condensed milk over the morsels and sprinkles. 

- Now use the remaining dough as the top layer. I find it easiest to partially flatten the dough in my fingers before placing on top of the middle layer, then press/pinch the smaller pieces together.

- Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until the top layer turns golden in color.

- Try to resist digging in when it's fresh out the oven- I know its hard! If you do not allow it to cool completely before cutting, it will fall apart and you won't have neat bars or bites. (These are very sweet so I prefer to cut into bite size pieces for that reason- and because they will go farther, but bars are great too!). 

This recipe can be transformed into other great combinations by using strawberry cake mix instead of butter yellow, or chocolate cake mix and mint morsels.

Enjoy and be sure to let me know what you think!


Saturday, February 28, 2015

Beer Kitchen: A Taste For Every Palate

Beer Kitchen
435 Westport Rd.
Kansas City, MO 64111
(816) 389-4180


Remember all the cool bar scenes in "Good Will Hunting"?  Think along those lines and you'll find a similar setting inside Westport's Beer Kitchen. Within the brick walls, one can find chalkboards lined to the edge with various bottled beers, rustic (yet dim) lighting, and all types of of cool beer-themed art... you'd expect yourself to be walking into a little piece of Boston.  The pub-style environment felt warm and cozy, although we were sat next to the front door (on a FRIGID winter day). The mood was light and friendly, bartenders were having fun and boisterous conversations with customers who seemed like regulars in the establishment. 


Right when we walked through the door, we were greeted by a friendly host and taken to a cozy, but spacious booth. We were handed a typical food and drink menu, as well as a separate little pamphlet containing the many beer-themed beverages. There was also a clipboard with three weekly specials, but none that tickled our fancy. Our server was very upbeat and enthusiastic about her job, and had our beverages on the table in no time at all. Drinks never reached empty during our visit, which is always a great plus. When asked for suggestions, she recommended the popular Smokestack Burger, Mac & Cheese with an endless amount of mix-ins, and her favorite; Oven Fried Chicken.  



The menu had a clean and appealing layout. Selections were simple, but the food was complex. Cole, (being a VERY picky eater) had trouble finding something in the "Breakfast Anytime", "Starters", or "Entree" sections that didn't contain some type of unique sauce such as aioli, or mustard, relish, a vegetable, or unfamiliar cheese. He was surprisingly willing to try truffle oil, (which was a good thing, considering most of the menu options contained some version of truffle-something-or-other.) Our palates couldn't be more different, as I always try picking menu items with the most ingredients packed into one entree. There were TONS of unique items for me to explore.

"Beer is proof that god loves us, and wants us to be happy." -Benjamin Franklin

This place is not your typical bar and grill, and certainly doesn't have menu items you'd expect from an Applebee's. Everything on the menu is elevated with upscale ingredients you'd expect to see on Food Network. For example; aioli, kale dishes, root vegetables, butternut squash samosas, duck confit... the list could go on. Don't fret, there are normal items on the menu as well. With endless burger options, mac & cheese, creole chicken, loaded fries, pork tenderloins, and the beloved chicken and waffles; there's definitely something here for everyone. The only thing I love in this world more than my dog is cheese. I can honestly admit to loving cheese with my whole heart, so I was ecstatic to see the variety of GOOD cheeses used , such as brie, Maytag bleu, provolone, gorgonzola, goat cheese, and good ol' gouda.  

Let's talk money, honey. With the quality of the food provided, you'd expect the bill to be a little pricey. But, surprisingly, even on a tight budget we'll be frequenting Beer Kitchen on many more date-nights to come. With a massive appetizer and two filling entrees, we escaped by only spending around $50 AFTER a 20% tip! 


We went with the "Stockyard Fries" as an appetizer, just couldn't pass them up. Our server quickly showed up (with a larger than expected portion) of hand cut fries cooked to perfection and topped with perfectly caramelized onions, bbq burnt ends, and smoked gouda fondue. My mouth is watering just thinking about the gouda. The dish also came with pickled relish but we did without (because Cole is fickle about pickle!) Even though the appetizer was filling enough, there were some entrees on the menu we couldn't leave without trying. Cole went with the recommended "Smokestack" burger. The "Smokestack" comes on a potato bun, which is a nice change from the standard white or wheat. The burger comes topped with smoked burnt ends, a whiskey bbq glaze (to die for), smoked gouda, chipotle aioli, and crispy jalapeƱo straws. I decided on a grilled sandwich option called "Hogtied". The sandwich had a delicious combination of black forest ham, bbq burnt ends, smoked BACON aioli (a dream come true), chipotle white cheddar, pickle relish, and cider slaw that was piled on sourdough bread and grilled to crisp perfection. Although we'd already quenched our fry thirst, we both added the "mini-fry", which was a barrel of "Truffle-parmesan" fries, complimenting our entrees well. 

"Stockyard Fries"

Overall, the Beer Kitchen experience was phenomenal. We were sat quickly, introduced to a plethora of off-the-wall menu items, and completely satisfied with the food/service we were given. Our food was cooked to perfection, and hot when it reached our table. The unique combinations of ingredients on the sandwiches were a total win when it came to complementary flavors and textures. Prices were satisfactory and portions were filling; leaving us craving more!