Thursday, July 26, 2012

Dinner of the Week: Honey Chipotle Cedar-Plank Salmon

I may have discovered my all-time favorite salmon dish.  It's incredibly easy, too.  It takes less than an hour prepare and grill and there's little to no cleanup involved.  Perfect for a busy weeknight!  We grilled the salmon over a cedar plank, so that the cedar flavor infused with the sweet tang of the honey-brown sugar glaze. The salmon also has a bit of a fiery kick to it with the ground chipotle!  We served the salmon fillets with a side of easy grilled veggies, so that this was a flavorful yet guiltless dinner for two.

Honey Chipotle Cedar-Plank Salmon with Grilled Vegetables

For the salmon:
- 1 cedar plank
- 2 fresh salmon fillets
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon course salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground chipotle powder
- Honey

For the grilled vegetables:
- 1 fresh zuccini
- 1 bell pepper
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon course salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- Butter

Approximately 20 minutes before meal time, unwrap a cedar plank and immerse it in a large container of water.  Let it soak with something heavy on top to weight it down in the water.  Fire up the grill.


Meanwhile, take the salmon fillets out of the refrigerator to rest.  In a small bowl, combine the brown sugar, salt, pepper, cumin, and chipotle powder and stir well.  This will serve as the salmon glaze.  


Liberally pat the rub on the top and sides of each salmon fillet.  As the salmon rests, the brown sugar will gradually turn into a glaze.  Set aside.


Chop up your veggies.  I used a zucchini and a red bell pepper.  You can add squash or carrots, too.  Dice the veggies so that they are about a 1/2 of an inch to 1 inch in diameter.


Spread the veggies on top of two large sheets of tin foil.  Sprinkle the paprika, coriander, salt, and pepper on top, along with a few dabs of butter.  Place another two-sheet layer of tin foil on top of the veggies, and pinch the edges shut on all sides, to create a tent.  Pierce the top layer of tin foil a few times with a knife to allow the steam to vent.


Set the veggies over indirect heat onto the grill plate.  Indirect heat means that the burners under the the veggies are off, but the ones next to the veggies are on.  Try to keep the overall grill temperature between 300 and 350 degrees.


At the same time, place the cedar plank face-down onto the grill to heat it up, again over indirect heat.


Close the grill lid and walk away.  Let both the veggies and the cedar plank grill for approximately 10 minutes on their own.


About 10 minutes later, your salmon fillets will look like this -- glazed and wonderful.



Revisit the grill, flip the cedar plank over, and place both fillets directly onto the hot plank.  Close the lid and let cook for approximately 10-12 minutes.  


The fillets are done once the salmon appears flaky.


Drizzle the fillets with a little bit of honey, and they're ready to go!


By the time the salmon's cooked, the veggies will be done, too.  



Serve dinner immediately and enjoy!


We loved these veggies.  They were juicy and flavorful.  Evan added a little more salt to his, but I thought they tasted just fine.


The salmon was mouthwatering.  The honey and brown sugar make the fillets perfectly sweet, but then the chipotle really kicks it up a bit.  If you are faint at heart, just eliminate the ground chipotle.



The fillets were cooked perfectly, too!  I especially love this glaze because it doesn't dry out the salmon.



This is definitely one of our favorite new recipes.  It'll soon to be a regular meal in our house.  Great for summer, too!  Hope you'll enjoy it, as well!

You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageBurlap and DenimC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDIY Home Sweet Home,  Everything Under the MoonGet Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsSerendipity and SpiceSew Can DoSkip to My LouThrifty Decor ChickToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: A Bowl Full of LemonsCherished BlissCoastal CharmConfessions of a Stay at Home MommyFunky Polka Dot Giraffe,  I Gotta Try ThatI'm Topsy TurvyJillify ItThe Kurtz CornerMommy By Day Crafter by NightNap Time CreationsNatural NestersNot Just a HousewifeSugar Bee Crafts,  Sweet Little GalsTales of a Trophy WifeTip JunkieToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Adorned from Above, Free Pretty Things for YouGinger Snap CraftsHome Happy HomeIt's Just Called SpicyJAQS StudioLet Birds FlyThe NY Melrose FamilyRae Gun RamblingsThe Sasse LifeSew Much AdoSew WoodsySomeday CraftsSouthern LovelyThursday: A Creative PrincessA Glimpse InsideCrafty, Scrappy, HappyHouse of HepworthsJust Winging ItMade in a DayThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleThrifty DecoratingYesterday on TuesdayFriday: 2805The Answer is ChocolateBacon Time with the Hungry HypoCreation CornerFingerprints on the FridgeThe Grant LifeHappy-Go-LuckyJust Us FourMom 4 RealMy Simple Home LifeNot So Functional HousewifeNot Your Ordinary RecipesOne Artsy MamaPerfectly ImperfectThe Rooster and the HenSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's OverflowingIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: The Crafty CowgirlEmbellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesG*RatedNifty Thrifty Things


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Convert Recessed Lights into Pendant Lights

For months, we've been debating whether or not to install either pendant lights or a pot rack in the soffit above the kitchen island.  We eventually nixed the idea of a pot rack because we loved the open feel of our kitchen, and thought that the hanging pots and pans would get in the way.  And, as much as we loved all of the recessed lighting, we wanted to do something really cool for that soffit to make the island beneath it a little more special.  


A few weekends ago, Evan and I were wandering around Lowe's and stumbled across a showcase at the end of one aisle.  The booth presented a video about how to convert any recessed light into a pendant light using one easy kit!  Our eyes lit up when we saw the price tag on these kits:  You could buy the base and the shade for less than $30 each!  We were sold.


The converter box consisted of a pendant light socket, a ceiling shade, and a pre-assembled socket adapter already strung on an adjustable cord. All that was needed to install each pendant light was one of these kits, a decorative lamp shade, a light bulb, and a flat head screwdriver.


Before we got started, we went to the breaker box and shut off the electric power to our kitchen.  I'm not sure this was completely necessary for this task, but since we were dealing with a new light fixture, we thought it was better to be cautious.


Then, unscrew the light bulbs from each recessed light fixture.  If the lights had been on for a while, be sure to wait at least five minutes before taking out the hot bulbs.  Your fingers will thank you!


Estimate the desired length of the pendant lights, keeping in mind that the shade itself is about five or six inches long.  The cord is completely adjustable and easy to fix even after the fixture is installed, so a rough estimate is all that's necessary.  Secure the cord by tightening the screw next to the socket adapter.


Ready for the easiest installation ever?  Simply screw the socket adapter into the recessed light, shove the excess cord into the hole, and push the decorative cover upward until it meets the ceiling.  Once done, screw the lamp shade onto the other end of the pendant light socket.


And you're finished!  We installed these two pendant lights in less than 20 minutes.


I wish I could've captured better pictures of the pendant lights while they were on; alas, my camera kind of stinks.  My apologies!



Here are what the fixtures look like when the lights are turned off.  



Aren't they beautiful?  It's a real treat to walk into the kitchen now.  It looks like invested hundreds of dollars to rewire our kitchen.  I wish we had more recessed lights around the house -- I'd stick these puppies everywhere!  Hope you like them, too!


You may find me linking up at these fantastic parties:

Monday: Boogieboard CottageBurlap and DenimC-R-A-F-TCraft-O-ManiacDIY Home Sweet Home,  Everything Under the MoonGet Outta My Head PleaseThe Girl CreativeMad in CraftsMaking the World CuterOur Delightful HomePolish the StarsSerendipity and SpiceSew Can DoSkip to My LouThrifty Decor ChickToo Much Time on My HandsTuesday: A Bowl Full of LemonsCherished BlissCoastal CharmConfessions of a Stay at Home MommyFunky Polka Dot Giraffe,  I Gotta Try ThatI'm Topsy TurvyJillify ItThe Kurtz CornerMommy By Day Crafter by NightNap Time CreationsNatural NestersNot Just a HousewifeSugar Bee Crafts,  Sweet Little GalsTales of a Trophy WifeTip JunkieToday's Creative BlogWednesday: Adorned from Above, Free Pretty Things for YouGinger Snap CraftsHome Happy HomeIt's Just Called SpicyJAQS StudioLet Birds FlyThe NY Melrose FamilyRae Gun RamblingsThe Sasse LifeSew Much AdoSew WoodsySomeday CraftsSouthern LovelyThursday: A Creative PrincessA Glimpse InsideCrafty, Scrappy, HappyHouse of HepworthsJust Winging ItMade in a DayThe Shabby Creek CottageSomewhat SimpleThrifty DecoratingYesterday on TuesdayFriday: 2805The Answer is ChocolateBacon Time with the Hungry HypoCreation CornerFingerprints on the FridgeThe Grant LifeHappy-Go-LuckyJust Us FourMom 4 RealMy Simple Home LifeNot So Functional HousewifeNot Your Ordinary RecipesOne Artsy MamaPerfectly ImperfectThe Rooster and the HenSimply DesigningTatertots and JelloWhipperberryYoung and CraftySaturday: Be Different... Act NormalCandace CreationsFunky Junk InteriorsIt's OverflowingIt's So Very CheriNutmeg PlaceSunday: The Crafty CowgirlEmbellishing Life with Homemade GoodnessFlamingo ToesG*RatedNifty Thrifty Things

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Happy Anniversary, Evan!

Two years ago today, I married the love of my life.

© Jonathan Taylor Photography
Evan and I met in January 2007. We sat next to each other at our Introduction to British Literature class at Virginia Tech. He chatted my ears off for the first couple of weeks that semester. One day, he jogged after me after class had been released and asked if I wanted to go out to lunch with him.

I gave him a good, hard look and assessed my options.

Evan was two years older than me, was in a fraternity, drove a Mustang, had an earring, and wore a goatee. He often mentioned how he wanted to get a tattoo. The truth was, Evan was exactly the type of guy that I avoided during my freshman year in college, and I was quite tempted to shrug him off.

But... since he was a nice kid, he liked Oscar Wilde and the Foo Fighters, and I was already in a long-distance relationship with someone else, I decided to give him a shot. It couldn't hurt to have a new lunch buddy, I figured.

Evan quickly became a good friend, if not my best friend at Tech. We grabbed lunch after class every Tuesday and Thursday. His boyish antics made me laugh, and I quickly learned that there was much more to him than his "tough" exterior.

On the cold morning of April 16, 2007, when I realized that there was a mass shooting taking place on Virginia Tech's campus, Evan was one of the first people who came to my mind. His safety was the only thing that truly mattered to me. By the end of that day, I realized that I loved him more than just a friend.


And, well, we've been inseparable ever since.  He's been there for me in both the toughest and most exhilarating moments of my life.  He is my best friend.

Evan, I wish I could accurately express how important you are to me and how much I love and cherish you.  I could not have asked for a better husband than you.  It's been a truly remarkable two years of marriage together, and I can't wait to experience many, many more with you.  Happy anniversary!

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