Dinner By Dagny

Not just food, food with flavor

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Tandoori Salmon


If you haven’t figured it out by now, I love to cook and I get inspiration from anywhere. I usually ignore the magazines in the grocery store isles unless of course the headline is pretty compelling. “5 Ingredient & 15 Minute Recipes” on the Cooking Light magazine won me over. While there were a lot of weird combinations, I did find a few things I thought I would try. One was this Tandoori Salmon and another was a curry paste marinated flank steak (which I’m doing tonight and I’ll post it another day).

My youngest daughter asked for pasta to be served along side the fish. I acquiesced somewhat. I heated up some red tomato sauce for her and made a quick lemon, caper, olive oil dressing for mine. I also paired this with some roasted brussel sprouts.

I don’t have a lot of pictures because this meal was super simple to put together, and fairly quick too.


1 teaspoon ground ginger

1 teaspoon ground turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon Adobo

1/4 teaspoon ground pepper

4 salmon fillets

1 bag fresh brussel sprouts

2 tablespoons olive oil

3/4 cup greek yogurt

1/4 chopped cilantro

1-2 garlic cloves chopped

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 handful arugula

1 tablespoon capers

parmesan to taste

Salmon Directions

1. Mix ginger, turmeric, cumin, Adobo and pepper in small bowl

2. Rub spice mixture over salmon

3. Broil 9 minutes

Pasta Directions

1. Boil 1/2 pound pasta per package directions

2. Drain pasta

3. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice

4. Add in arugula and capers

5. Season with adobo, pepper and parmesan cheese

Roasted Brussel Sprout Directions

1. Remove any brown leaves off brussel sprouts

2. Rinse brussel sprouts

3. Place in baking dish

4. Drizzle with olive oil and season with adobo and pepper

5. Broil for 7-9 minutes on each side (there should be some charring)

Cilantro Yogurt Directions

1. Combine yogurt, garlic, lemon juice and cilantro

2. Chill for 15-20 minutes



While I know that this is a very simple tandoori, the spices worked well on the salmon and it went really well with the brussel sprouts and light pasta. My dad did a little more research and made a more traditional tandoori spice blend (from my inspiration) for his tilapia, with a side of grilled bok choy. He declared it the best meal ever, so I think it must be a winner. Hopefully, he’ll post his link as a comment.


Baked Arroz con Pollo

This is simply spanish style chicken and rice. In the Caribbean, it’s known as seasoned rice. I took the basic recipe off the back of the Goya pigeon peas can and made some modifications. I used brown rice, as that’s generally what I have in my kitchen these days. I also did most of the cooking in the oven. I took what I learned from the baked rice pilaf recipe and made it work for this. I figured that this was a more traditional approach to it, as the West Indians use banana leaves to help steam the rice.


1 tablespoon olive oil

5 bone-in chicken thighs

1/2 cup diced green pepper

1 small onion diced

2 packets Sazon Goya seasoning packets

2 garlic cloves minced

1 tsp oregano

1 can pigeon peas

1/2 cup tomato sauce

2 cups brown rice

3 cups water


1.  Heat olive oil in large saucepan over medium high heat

2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees

3.  Brown chicken thighs.  Brown in batches as needed.  Do not crowd pan


4.  Set chicken thighs aside to drain (on paper towel lined plate)

5.  Remove any excess oil/fat from pan, leaving about 1 tablespoon

6.  Saute onions and peppers for 3-4 minutes

7.  Add garlic and saute 2-3 more minutes


8.  Add brown rice and cook for a few minutes, until rice becomes aromatic (smells nutty)


9.  Add water, pigeon peas (and liquid), tomato sauce, sazon, and oregano and bring to a boil


10.  Add chicken thighs

11.  Cover with moistened dish towel and place lid on top.  Fold over corners of dish towel

12.  Bake for 50 minutes

13.  Remove from oven and let sit for 10 additional minutes before removing the cover.  Stir before serving




This was paired with green beans and fresh salad.

Thai Cilantro Pork Chops

I was perusing Pinterest and stumbled across this Cilantro Thai Grilled Chicken on my friend Nicole’s board and was inspired not only to try it, but also to create a new board of my own, for all the things that I see online and want to try (Dinner by Dagny Things to Try).

When we we were looking something to cook for mother’s day dinner, I knew that I had some pork chops in the freezer and this marinade came to mind. I made some modifications to it after following the recipe yielded a flavor a tad too salty. Nothing a little lime juice couldn’t solve.  But, in all, I stayed true to the Thai inspiration and flavor profile. We ate it with green beans sauted with spring onions (from my husband’s garden) and corn on the cob.  I was pleased with the outcome.


6 pork chops

4 cloves garlic chopped

3/4 cup cilantro chopped

3 tablespoons fish sauce

1 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil

Juice of 1 1/2 limes

1/2 habanero pepper chopped

1 pound green beans

3 spring onions chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

5-6 corn cobs


1.  Grind garlic, cilantro, fish sauce, sesame oil, habanero and lime juice together using mortar and pestle (you can also use blender or food processor)

2.  Pour marinade of pork chops and rub into meat

3.  Let sit for minimum of 15 minutes.  (I let it sit for several hours in pan covered with plastic wrap)


4.  Grill on medium heat for 30 minutes, flipping over at 15 minutes

5.  Saute green beans with olive oil and spring onions

6.  Bring large pot of water to a boil with a tablespoon of sugar.  Add corn cobs and cook for 5 minutes covered.  Turn off heat and let sit for 7-10 minutes.



This was a perfect mother’s day meal.  My husband jokes that it was my day off, since he grilled.  It doesn’t matter as I enjoy cooking and trying new things in the kitchen.  This is definitely on the things to eat again list.

Turkey Burgers

My husband will go through these diet phases. Sometimes, it is the warrior diet where he eats all his calories in one sitting, or the abs diet or…. Anyway, sometimes this means that he cooks separately for himself, while I cook for the girls and me. However sometimes these seemingly opposing food philosophies strike a balance. This happened quite a few times while he Was on the abs diet. As usual we made a few alterations, but this has been a hit.

People tend to have a love hate relationship with ground turkey. My family is fine with it. We treat it like ground beef for the most part and will use it for tacos, burritos or chili. This turkey burger also works really well, as the tomatoes give it moisture and the feta, garlic and fresh herbs give it flavor.

We had about 1/2 bag of potatoes left and I wanted potato salad. My husband has told for years now that he doesn’t like potato salad. Since I use the same dressing for my coleslaw and he said the same about that until he tried it, I figured that I would try it. I tossed in a little red onion and red pepper and called it a day. I gave the carrots a maple glaze as well.


1 large egg

1 package ground turkey

3 garlic cloves chopped

1/3 cup diced tomatoes ( I usually used canned, although fresh salsa also works well)

1 tbsp fresh herbs (whatever you have…tarragon, basil, cilantro, rosemary will all work)

1/3 cup crumbled feta

1/3 cup bread crumbs

Adobo and cracked black pepper to taste

1/2 bag russet potatoes, cut into chunks ( not too small or they will get mushy)

1/4 red onion chopped

1 red pepper diced

1/4 cup mayonnaise

2-3 tbsp vinegar (rice wine, red wine, white)

1 tbsp sugar

1 bag frozen carrots

1 tbsp butter

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Nutmeg, ginger, cloves to taste

Turkey Burger Directions

1. Mix ground turkey, egg, garlic, tomatoes, fresh herbs. Adobo, cracked pepper, and bread crumbs in a large bowl

2. Form into 6 patties

3. Heat grill pan to medium high heat

4. Grill burgers 6 mins per side

5. Let rest for 5-10 mins

Potato Salad Directions

1. Boil 4 quarts salted water in large pot

2. Add potato chunks and boil for 20 mins

3. Drain and chill potatoes

4. In small bowl, mix mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper to tast

5. Gently stir potatoes, peppers, onions with dressing

6. Let rest in refrigerator for 30-60 mins

glazed Carrots

1. In covered sauce pan, cook carrots with about 1/3 cup water for about 10 mins

2. When tender, remove cover and add nutmeg, ginger, cloves, butter and maple syrup

3. Cook additional 5-10 mins until glaze cooks down and caramelizes carrots



The burger was moist and flavorful, as I have come to expect my turkey burgers.  The potato salad was a hit.  My husband said something along the lines of “if I ever said I didn’t like your potato salad, I was wrong.”  Even better, he ate it for leftovers voluntarily.

Carne Asada

Carne Asada refers to grilled steak that has marinated in a citrus heavy, jalapeño marinade and gets thinly sliced. It is most often done with skirt or flank steak. I started smoking this about 6 months ago and my family loves it. It is one of those fun meals where the girls get to make their own tacos and I can just eat it by itself with the other side dishes and accompanying condiments.

I usually serve it with rice and black beans, and I’ve been known to make a fresh batch of guacamole.


2 1.7 lb flank steaks

Zest of 1 lime

Juice of 3 1/2 limes

3 jalapeños, seeds removed and chopped

4 spring onions sliced (1 shallot or 1/2 onion will work too)

3/4 cup chopped cilantro

8 garlic cloves chopped

5 ripe avocados

3-4 cups orange juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tbsp Adobo

2 tbsp cumin

2 tbsp oregano

2 tbsp cracked pepper

2 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Carne Asada Directions

1. Mix lime zest, lime juice of 1 1/2 limes, 2 chopped jalapeños, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro,4 garlic cloves, 3 spring onions, orange juice and olive oil together in medium bowl

2. Add Adobo, pepper, cayenne, cumin, chili powder and oregano. Mic well.

3. Place flank steaks in plastic bag with marinade. The marinade should mostly cover the steak. Seal and rest for several hours. I usually let it marinade overnight, rotating bag periodically

4. Heat up grill pan to medium high. Grill steak for 6 minutes on each side (these will yield medium on the edges to rare in the middle.). Let rest for 10 minutes and slice very thinly against the grain

Guacamole Recipe

1. Mix lime juice if 2 limes, 1 chopped jalapeño, 1 sliced spring onion, 1/4 cilantro, 4 chopped garlic cloves with 5 avocados

2. Mash the mixture with a potato masher and mix thoroughly

3. Taste guacamole and adjust seasoning by adding Adobo, cracked pepper, cayenne to taste. Make this several hours ahead to make sure flavors blend

4. To keep guacamole fresh and green, store with a couple of avocado seeds


This is definitely a family favorite. This time I had some lime cilantro yogurt to serve with it as well.

Drunken Cherry Mixed Berry Scones

I’m a big believer in breakfast. I don’t know if that is because I get cranky when I don’t eat or if my mother did such a good job ingraining “breakfast as the most important meal of the day” as a mantra. I do distinctly remember a point where my mom read an article about eating breakfast being critical to doing well in school. While I usually ate a bowl of cereal or some toast, this triggered her willingness to cook me eggs or french toast too. It worked for me.

Anyway, I also get pretty bored of eating the same things. I had about 1/4 cup of craisins left and saw this blackberry scone recipe and got inspired. Of course, I had some leftover black cherry cruzan rum in my cabinet too (as we hadn’t yet figured out what it went well with aside from the crucian confusion we made with it the last time). I promptly added the craisins and equal amount black cherry rum to a cup and let it sit overnight (covered in the refrigerator, of course).

My daughter gets home early on Mondays therefore I asked her if she wanted to help. She agreed and then told me how to do it (and when I veered away from the recipe, got a little concerned).


1/4 cup craisins drunken in 1/4 cup black cherry rum (although any rum will do)

3 cups flour

1/2 cup sugar

2 1/2 tsp baking powder

3/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1 tbsp lime zest (the only citrus available in the house)

4 tbsp cold butter, cubed

1 cup sour milk (mix 1 tbsp lemon juice with enough milk to make 1 cup and let sit for 5 minutes)

~5.75 ounces of blueberries and strawberries (you need 6 total ounces of berries. I had the drunken craisins, plus some fresh blueberries and some diced strawberries)


1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees

2. Mix flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, baking soda and lime zest together in a large bowl

3. Cut in cold butter until you have crumbly flour

4. Stir in berries (drain the rum, but reserve it) and sour milk

5. Mix dough with hands to break up berries

6. Form scones on a parchment paper lined baking sheet (original recipe suggested using tablespoon making 12-16 scones. I free formed the scones, which made 8 large ones. I would recommend some middle compromise)


7. Bake for 15-17 minutes




These were really good.  They were a little big, but we ate them anyway.  The drunken cherry rum, combined with the craisins, blueberries and strawberries worked well together.  The scones were moist and crumbly, just as they should be.

I’m not big on icing or sugary drizzle so I skipped over that part, but I did use the leftover rum.  I added lemonade and it made for quite the refreshing cocktail.  I just had another thought regarding the rum and a rum based caramel drizzle, I might be able to handle.  I’ll just have to make another round and try it.


Crockpot Beef Stroganoff

Beef stroganoff is one of those meals I remember from my childhood.  I think it was one of my mom’s favorites, but I could just be making that up.  I saw some thin pieces of round steak and decided that I would make beef stroganoff.  My kids don’t love mushrooms, but they do like pork chops with mushroom gravy, so that’s the way I pitched it.  I said it was steak with homemade mushroom gravy, usually called beef stroganoff.

I was also pretty sure that I could do this in my crockpot so went in search of a recipe.  Unfortunately most of the recipes call for several cans of cream of X soup, but that wasn’t what I was looking for.  I wanted the traditional recipe (where sour cream is added to make it creamy), just modified for the crock pot.  Fortunately, I was able to find one that was true to what I expected (thanks recipe gir!).  My kids did enjoy it leaving only a single serving as leftovers, so that’s good.


1 1/2 lbs steak, sliced into chunks

~ 1 lb baby portabellas sliced (I ended up using not quite one carton)

1 onion chopped

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 cup beef broth

1/2 cup red wine (that’s what was open)

3/4 cup sour cream

2 tbsp corn startch

Adobo and cracked black pepper to taste

1/2 bag cooked whole wheat noodles


1.  Combine beef, mushrooms, onions, tomato paste, wine and beef broth

2.  Cover and cook for 5 1/2 hours on low

3.  In a small bowl combine sour cream and corn starch.  Add to crockpot and mix

4.  Cook an additional 30 minutes until sauce thickens



Honey Garlic Wings with Twice Baked Potatoes

This week was pretty interesting in that on top of all our usual craziness of balancing work, school, karate, lacrosse, girls on the run and soccer, my husband had several evening outings including the Caps game and the Nats game.  This left just me and the girls for dinner most nights and I wanted to do something “fun” for dinner.  They love chicken drumsticks and chicken wings, so I thought that would be something that I could liven up and they could have fun eating.  Potatoes were on sale this week at the grocery store (buy 1 get 1 free on 5 pound bags).  That’s a lot of potatoes that I need to figure out how to use.  Who doesn’t love potatoes smothered in cheese (apparently my daughter, but we’ll get to that later).

I envisioned yummy honey garlic wings.  I found several recipes for honey soy wings, but most didn’t have any garlic so I kept looking.  I found this recipe on the foodess blog and the pictures were exactly what I was looking for.  I found this basic twice baked potato recipe as a starting point. I only focused on the proportion of ingredients and only added cheese, mostly because I was too lazy to cook bacon and my kids don’t like blue cheese so that wasn’t even a consideration.


7 decent size potatoes (I chose the largest potatoes from the bag but they weren’t super big.  This was 1 potato per person plus 1 extra to increase the filling amount)

~1 tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

3/4 cup sour cream

1/2 cup milk

4 tbsp butter

1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce

3/4 cup honey

6 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp sesame oil

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

3 lbs chicken party wings

Honey Garlic Wings Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2.  Double line a rimmed baking sheet with foil (I forgot this part so had mild sticking and a difficult cleanup time with the pan)

3.  In large mixing bowl, mix soy sauce, honey, garlic, sesame oil and cayenne pepper

4.  Add chicken wings and toss to coat.  Let marinate at least an hour (I did it for 2 tossing the wings every 30 minutes)

5.  Remove wings from marinade and spread in single layer on baking sheet.  Reserve marinade.

6.  Bake wings for 35 minutes, brushing wings every 10 minutes (for first 20 minutes, but not during last 10 minutes) with reserved marinade

7.  Boil marinade down over until thick and syrupy (I did this for about 35 minutes on medium low) which allowed me to watch it more closely.  The mixture can get burnt pretty quickly if not paying attention

8.  Remove wings to bowl or platter and toss with remaining marinade syrup

Twice Baked Potatoes Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2.  Wash potatoes, poke with a fork and rub with a little olive oil

3.  Bake potatoes for approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes directly on oven rack.  Potatoes should be thoroughly cooked through and therefore give a little

4.  Allow potatoes to cool to touch

5.  Cut potatoes in half and scoop out centers, keeping skins intact

6.  Mash potato centers and mix with butter, sour cream, milk and cheese together

7.  Scoop potato filling back into potato skins and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes


I thought the wings were pretty addictive.  They were everything I had hoped for.  And the twice baked potato went with it perfectly.  It was creamy and cheesy.  I thought it was a success when my oldest daughter went in for a second helping on the wings.  She had already complained about the twice baked potatoes as I don’t make these regularly, and therefore her only point of reference is the ones they provide at school with the disgusting “cheese sauce.”  Just for the record, I have never used a nasty cheese sauce on anything, so I’m not sure how she thought I would start with this recipe.

Anyway, my oldest daughter finished eating and proclaimed “you can make this again…but don’t add cheese to the potatoes and don’t use the sauce on the wings.”  I explained that the potatoes without cheese were merely baked potatoes and the wings without sauce were just baked wings and if that’s what she wanted, she really didn’t want me to cook this meal again.  She insisted that I could, but only if I made the adjustments she recommended.  I guess it’s all symantecs and everyone’s entitled to their own opinions.


Pink Drinks and Coffee Pot Cooking

I’m going to take some pointers from other bloggers and do a fairly random post with two pretty distinct topics. Last week was a big week.

For all of you who hadn’t heard, last week was National Princess Week. Actually, it was the first ever, National Princess Week.  This was fully supported and promoted by Julie Andrews.  With two daughters, you’d think that I would know about this.  Sadly, that was not the case.  My cousin, Cait, raised this issue and suggested that we have some tasty pink drinks to celebrate.  While we rarely need a reason to indulge in a tasty drink, National Princess Week seemed as good as any.  Especially as the two daddy’s little girls that we are.  But herein lies the dilemas – what alcohol do we start as our base? what mixer do we use?  The obvious answer was something to do with strawberry or raspberry as once you muddle them, they’ll turn almost any drink pink.  Cait chose strawberry and suggested a spike strawberry lemonade.  While Mike’s hard lemonade does come in strawberry or raspberry, I looked around for some other suggestions.  I found the simplest strawberry basil margarita recipe, so the decision was done.

On top of all that excitement from National Princess Week, my dad, Poppa John, published his kindle book on how he lost more than 100 pounds cooking in his coffee pot.  This was a several year undertaking starting with the death of my mother and continuing now as he works to maintain he weight loss.  Poppa John tends to blame me and Cait for forcing him on a weight loss program, but it was solely so he could continue to participate on family adventures (space camp, hang gliding, canoeing, hiking, etc) for many years to come.  He experience cooking in commercial kitchens, combined with this chemical engineering education and experience, allowed him to convert crockpot recipes into coffee pot recipes.  Anyway, while I realize that this all seems weird and a little unorthodox, it worked for him.  Maybe it will be become a mass phenomenon…cooking in your coffee pot.  My family is doing it.  Maybe yours should too!  It is great fun with children and has added benefits of built in portion control for those cooking for themselves or those deprived of other cooking equipment.

Strawberry Basil Margaritas 


1 can frozen limeade concentrate

10 – 12 strawberries hulled and cut in half (I cut large strawberries into quarters)

8 – 10 basil leaves crumbled (do this right before adding to the pitcher)

2 1/2 cups tequila (I used gold, but you can use whichever)

2 1/2 cans of water


1.  Empty limeade concentrate into pitcher

2.  Add 2 1/2 cans of water and tequila

3.  Add strawberries and crumbled basil leaves

4.  Mix

5.  Cover and keep in refrigerator a minimum of 4 hours (preferably over night)

Note:  The tequila settles so make sure you mix before serving


This was exactly what we were looking for.  The flavors blended perfectly, but you could still taste the tequila.  It is a little strong, so for at least one guest we topped it with club soda to lighten it up a little.  Everyone was happy.  But as I said above, the tequila does settle so make sure you constantly mix before serving.

Mediterranean Chicken Pasta

As a process, cooking often starts with an ingredient. I often don’t know what I am going to do with it, until I start. This recipe was pretty indicative of that. I was planning on chicken and knew that I wanted to use my crockpot for the majority of the work as it was our annual spring karate tournament and the family would be out all day. I started searching for cockpit chicken recipes online, but it took a while for inspiration to set in. Most of the recipes were variations of smothered cream of xxxxx (you name it) soup. That seemed a little heavy for me.

My youngest daughter asked if we could have pasta so that also added another element to the mix. So this left me with only a few options for a lighter, tasty crockpot chicken recipe that could be served over pasta. I finally came across this Greek chicken recipe that I thought could make work.


3 pounds boneless chicken breast
1 can diced tomatoes
1/2 jar marinated artichoke hearts
1/2 jar kalamata olives
1 small can sliced black olives
1/2 bag frozen broccoli
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp white wine
3 tsp minced garlic
2 tbsp oregano
3 tsp Adobo
Feta to garnish
1 box whole wheat rotini


1. Add olive oil, white wine, minced garlic, oregano, and Adobo to crockpot and mix together
2. Add chicken breasts and turn to coat
3. Add in tomatoes, artichoke hearts and kalamata olives. Stir
4. Cook on low for approximately 8 hours (my crockpot has a meat probe that allows you to cook until the meat reaches a specific temperature. I used that but the time is also correct)
5. Add in black olives
6. Optional – thicken sauce by making a cold rue of olive oil and flour and add in a cup cooking liquid. Add back to crockpot and stir
7. Cook pasta per box instructions to al dente (approx 9 mins). Add in broccoli after 2 mins, for approx 7 mins cooking time
8. Toss with crockpot mixture

This was a great way to end our evening. Everybody enjoyed it.


Post Navigation