Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter

Good food is nothing short of art, and herbs and spices can add a burst of fantastic flavor to it, especially when they’re harvested from your own herb garden, so chemical- and preservative-free.  But there’s a standing belief that in order to grow your own herbs you have to have a plot of ground to grow them in, which simply isn’t true.  Herbs are hardy and adaptable plants that don’t require a huge amount of ground space in order to produce enough to be used, so I’d like to give you some solid suggestions about where to put them and start growing!

For the apartment dwellers

If you don’t have your own patch of ground to put them on, but you happen to be lucky enough to have a sunroom in your home, this is the perfect place to grow your own selection of herbs. The windows on these rooms bring in copious amounts of natural light, and will let you grow your own herbs and spices all the year round, safe from insect infestations and the moodiness of the weather!  Just imagine taking a sprig of fresh marjoram out of your own herb garden, and bringing its burst of flavor to your favorite dish.

Herbs

If you live in an apartment building, you can often take the planters and hang them from your windows, allowing you to grow a delicious selection of herbs and spices right outside your window.  You may only be able to grow a few select varieties in a window, but then again every window can serve as a potential herb garden!

Some apartments and condos will let you grow plants on your balcony.  Never underestimate just how much space is available here.  You can grow potted plants up against the sides of your balcony. With some growing in carefully secured pots on the railing, and some hanging plants, this doesn’t even have to take up all that much room.  In These ways, you can have an entire spice cabinet right outside the nearest window ready to bring your meals alive with flavor!

Herbs

Some neighborhoods also have growing co-ops, shared pieces of ground where people come together to grow their plants, and each member gets to harvest from the crops.  This will allow you a lot more ground, and also have more hands to make it light work.   Look into your local community and see if there are people coming together to work on a communal garden, and make new friends and swap recipes along the way!

If all of these options fail you, there is still one potential option open.  With an arrangement of full spectrum light bulbs, you can even grow plants in closets!  This tends to be a bit more of a financial investment, as the cost of running these bulbs can be prohibitive, but barring that, you may very well find yourself with a flourishing garden hidden in an unused closet or cupboard!

Whatever method you decide on, one thing is indisputable: fresh herbs and spices are the very heart of a meal that contains them, and the difference in flavor between these and the ones you buy dried and jarred in the store is unbelievable!

Make your dishes more nutritious and delicious with your own herbs!

Herb Stuffed Trout

That said, I would now like to share with you one of my favorite recipes, that would not be half as delicious without the freshly picked herbs that go into it. It is very little work, smells incredible, and is low in cholesterol and high in protein, to boot! Who could ask for more?

Aromatic Oven Roasted Trout with Herb Butter
 
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Make your dishes more nutritious and delicious with your own herbs!
Author:
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 4 trouts, cleaned and gutted
  • Sea salt, pepper
  • 4 tablespoons softened butter
  • 3 large garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons each fresh coarsely chopped thyme, sage and parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh coarsely chopped basil
  • Freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Sweet paprika
Instructions
  1. Rinse the fish, then rub salt, some basil and pepper well into each one, inside and out. Divide the remaining herbs evenly and stuff each fish with them. Cover pan or dish with foil wrap, and put in refrigerator for one hour.
  2. Put garlic though garlic press, then add to softened butter; combine well.
  3. Put a tablespoon of garlic butter inside each fish and drizzle fish with lemon juice, dust lightly with paprika if desired.
  4. Wrap each fish tightly in foil wrap and bake at 350°F for 25-30 minutes. If you like, you can tie the fish with a bit of string (not plastic, natural!) to keep them from coming open when you wrap them in foil.
  5. Unpack each fish carefully, serve with a slice of lemon, a baked potato and a simple cherry tomato salad.

Guest Post

Nicole Nowlen Guest PostNicole Nowlen: Full-time businesswoman. Full-time DIY enthusiast. Living in old London town, but with a burning desire to go everywhere and see everything!

Check Nicole out at: nicolenowlen.com or follow her on Twitter @nicolenowlen87.

Simple Oyster Casserole

oyster casserole, how to make oyster casserole, holiday casseroles, casserole recipes

One of the things I love about cooking is the ability to try a recipe, then change it up to make it my own. But sometimes a recipe is so perfect just the way it started that altering it would seem almost offensive. Even a simple recipe.

The recipe I’m showcasing today is one that I got from a friend about 10 years ago. It’s hard to remember exactly, but I believe at the time I was looking for something to make for a holiday dinner at my future inlaws’ house. She pulled out a few trusted, favorite recipes of her own, and was kind enough to share them with me.

This particular recipe is not for the faint of heart when it comes to calories, as you shall see. But for a holiday dinner, who cares…right? I’ve made it every Thanksgiving and Christmas for 10 years.

MK’s Simple Oyster Casserole

oyster casserole, how to make oyster casserole, holiday casseroles, casserole recipes

Simple Oyster Casserole
 
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Author:
Serves: 6-8
Ingredients
  • 2 pints fresh jarred oysters (find them in the seafood section)
  • 4 cups medium coarse Saltine cracker crumbs - about 2 sleeves
  • 1 cup melted butter (2 sticks)
  • 1-1/2 cups half & half
  • ½ cup oyster liqueur (the liquid in the oyster jars)
  • ½ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Drain the oysters, reserving the ½ cup of oyster liqueur.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the cracker crumbs and butter. Spread ⅓ of the cracker mixture into the bottom of a 9x13" casserole dish, and then top with ½ of oysters. Sprinkle with pepper. Repeat these steps once more.
  3. Combine the half & half, oyster liqueur, Worcestershire sauce and salt. Pour the liquid mixture over top of the layers in the casserole dish. Top with the remaining crackers.
  4. Bake for 55 to 60 minutes, or until top is golden and edges are bubbly.

 

Pan Seared Scallops With Lemon Butter Sauce

Seared Scallops, scallop recipes

Anniversaries used to mean a reservation for the restaurant at which we had our wedding rehearsal dinner, with leisurely glasses of wine, expensive cuts of steak and decadent dessert. Then we had kids. And a budget.

seared scallops, scallops recipe

Can you relate?

We still enjoy a little something special for our anniversary dinner; however, nowadays it’s cooked in the comfort of our home. We’ve done lobsters (yes, cooked fresh), crab imperial, and lots of other good stuff.

seared scallops, scallop recipes

This year? Ooohhh…may have been the best dinner yet. Hands down.

Pan Seared Scallops With Lemon Butter Sauce
 
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Author:
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 pound sea scallops, trimmed and dried well
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • ½ cup beef broth
  • 2 tablespoons salted butter
  • ½ lemon, juiced and zested
  • 3 scallions, chopped
Instructions
  1. Warm a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper.
  2. Once the butter starts to foam and bubble, place the scallops (seasoned side down) into the pan. Sprinkle again with salt and pepper, then let them cook for 2 minutes – without touching them. Using tongs, gently flip each scallop and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from the pan.
  3. Pour the beef broth into the pan and use a metal whisk to scrape and stir the bits up from the bottom of the pan. Add the lemon juice and zest, butter and scallions. Continue whisking for one more minute. Remove from heat.
  4. Serve immediately with a spoonful of the sauce drizzled on top of the scallops.

Pan Seared Striped Bass

Pan Seared Striped Bass

We just returned to reality from Smith Mountain Lake in Virginia.

[Cut to angelic harp sounds….]

Gorgeous dark green trees line the 500 miles of shoreline, and houses play hide and seek along the steep hills that surround the water. An ideal relaxation spot, and a throwback to the good ol’ days when swimming, fishing and wild imaginations were enough to make kids happy during a family vacation.

Our rental house had a whimsical view of the lake, almost as though we were perched high up in a tree house with a picture frame through the leaves. A little wisp of beach lined the bottom of our property’s sloping yard, making the perfect play spot for our young kids.

View of Smith Mountain Lake

[Back to reality…]

To sum it up simply, we had a blast last week. My husband borrowed a small boat from a friend, which we were able to dock right at our house. His goal? Catch enough fish for one meal during the week we were at Smith Mountain Lake.

Success!

Striped Bass

Sure, he broke the rod pulling this lovely striped bass into the boat, but once cleaned up (by yours truly and my mother, might I add), this one giant Striper was enough to feed four hungry adults.

I won’t go into the details of actually cleaning the fish, but I will say that it took some muscle and involved knives and “man hands” (for all you Seinfeld fans). Definitely not for the squeamish….

Six beautiful, meaty fillets later – it was time to think prep and cook. I had a marinade in mind….

Pan Seared Striped Bass

But as far as cooking technique…what to do? Grill? Bake? Pan sear? Ah…yes. Borrowing a technique from Anne Burrell, I decided a nice sear would go perfect.

Pan Seared Striped Bass
 
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Use the freshest fish you can find for this recipe!
Author:
Serves: 4 to 6
Ingredients
  • 6 striped bass fillets, 1″ thick, skin on
  • ½ cup extra virgin olive oil + ¼ cup for the pan
  • 1 lemon, juiced & zested
  • 2 Clementines, juiced & zested
  • 1 teaspoon salt + ¼ teaspoon
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup white wine (make sure it tastes good enough to drink)
  • 1 lemon, sliced
Instructions
  1. Place the bass fillets skin side down in a baking dish large enough to hold them without overlapping too much.
  2. Whisk together ½ cup olive oil and ½ teaspoon salt with the remaining ingredients (except the sliced lemon) and pour the marinade over the bass, taking care to make sure each piece gets coated. Lay the lemon slices on top, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
  3. Take the bass out of the fridge 15 minutes before you’re ready to cook and pat the skin dry. Set aside on a plate to rest.
  4. Heat a large sautée pan over medium-high heat and add the ¼ cup olive oil. Rub the bottom of a medium sautée pan (yes, the bottom - trust Anne Burrell me here) with just enough olive oil to lightly coat it. Pour the marinade into a small sauce pot, add ¼ teaspoon salt, and heat until bubbly over medium while you sear the fillets.
  5. When the large pan’s good and hot, add 3 of the fillets – skin side down. Place the medium pan on top of the fillets and press down gently. This keeps the bass from curling up, helping the skin get good and crispy. Cook for 4 minutes and then remove the medium pan. Continue cooking for 2 more minutes, then use a spatula to gently flip the fillets. Finish cooking for 2 more minutes and then remove from the pan.
  6. Repeat the searing process with the remaining 3 bass fillets, and serve with the warmed marinade.

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