Monthly Archives: June 2015

Salmon Shepherd's Pie

Five Easy Fish Recipes For Meal Shuffling

I’m a calculating person.  I try to save time and money by looking ahead at how I can do things in my life more efficiently and with less time.  My awareness of time passing more quickly as I get older makes it the most precious commodity in my life.  My goal for everyday cooking is to make extra portions and find creative ways to eat them again without feeling like I’m eating leftovers.  I’m a premeditated cook and you get to benefit from my way of thinking and process about meal preparation. I call my process “the shuffle” because it is like a dance where you cook an item once with extras in mind and then you shuffle the extras around to create a new meal in less time.

In the past few blogs I’ve covered a meal plan week with pork and beans, then one with chicken and barley (or you can use brown rice) and now my focus is on fish.  This is the fish shuffle week with five easy fish recipes for your busy week.  These meals are all under 500 calories and deliver almost completely heart healthy unsaturated fats.  You will do the bulk of your cooking on the first day.

Five Easy Fish Recipes

  1. Baked Salmon with Garlic Mashed Cauli-Potatoes and Green Beans
  2. Salmon Shepherd Pie
  3. Blackened Fish Tacos
  4. Blackened Fish Chowder
  5. Salmon Mediterranean Salad

Baked Salmon With Garlic Mashed Cauli-Potatoes and Green Beans

One of my goals is to add as many non-starchy veggies to a recipe as possible without compromising taste.  Mustard, Panko SalmonThis lowers the calories and carbs and adds more volume.  You will make extra of each of these items to use in the other recipes.  Buy enough fish for the three salmon meals allowing about 4-6 ounces per person.  Allow 1 medium potato per person and make enough for the first two dinners.  Roast extra garlic to add to the fish chowder.  You could also keep a little extra mashed potatoes to add to the Fish Chowder to thicken it.  You will also make double the green beans to save for the Salmon Mediterranean Salad.  These recipes will be based on making enough for a family of four.  Adjust accordingly for a smaller or larger number of people.

Ingredients for 4 servings (enough salmon for 3 meals)

  • 4 # of salmon fillets (about 1 1/3 pounds per night)
  • 9 medium white or Yukon potatoes  ( I like to leave the skin on for extra fiber and nutrients)
  • 1 head of cauliflower cut into large flowerets
  • 2 heads of garlic
  • 3 tbsp of butter
  • 2 pounds of fresh green beans (use 1 pound and save the rest for the Salmon Mediterranean Salad)
  • 2 tbsp brown mustard
  • 3/4 cup Panko
  • Lemon juice from one whole lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1.  Before you get everything out to make dinner, start on the garlic.  Preheat the oven to 400.  Take the heads of garlic and cut off 1/4″ off the top.  Drizzle olive oil the tops and wrap them in foil.  Start baking these while you gather and prepare the other ingredients.


A steamer is great way to preserve the nutrients in your veggies

2.  Cut the potatoes into eighths and break the cauliflower into 2″ flowerets.   Place both in a large pot with a steamer and fill with about an inch of water.  Steaming your vegetables preserves more of the nutrients.  Steam with the lid on until you can easily put a fork through the potatoes, but be careful not to let the water boil away.

3.  Turn the oven down to 325, leaving the garlic in there.  Place the salmon fillets on a large greased cookie sheet.  You will prepare the fillets two different ways to be used in three different recipes.  Over 1/3 of the fillets, spread the brown mustard and then sprinkle with Panko.  This is the salmon for tonight’s dinner.

In a small bowl, combine the juice from one lemon, the olive oil and the dry seasoning.  Brush this on the rest of the salmon.  Bake the salmon for about 20-25 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and the thicker side of the fillet is cooked through.

4.  While the other ingredients are cooking, trim the ends off of the green beans and cut in half.  When the potatoes and cauliflower are done place them in a large mixing bowl along with one of the roasted heads of garlic.  Then put the green beans in the pot you cooked the potatoes in and steam those on high for about 5 minutes or until the green beans are tender.  When they are done, drain the water, take out the steamer and toss the green beans with a teaspoon of olive oil, and sprinkle with garlic powder and a bit of salt to taste.  Cover with a lid and set aside off the burner.

5.  While the green beans are steaming make the mashed potatoes.  Take the cauliflower, potatoes, one head of roasted garlic, 1 tsp of salt, and 3 tbsp of butter and blend well until it is smooth.  There is a high water content in cauliflower so you probably won’t need to add any milk.  Set aside a little over half of the potatoes for the Shepherd’s Pie and a little for the chowder.

Each serving should consist of about a deck of cards worth of salmon, 1 cup of green beans and one cup of the cauli-potato mash.  If you follow this process you will have the leftover salmon seasoned with lemon juice and spices for two other meals, mashed potatoes for tomorrow night’s dinner, roasted garlic and green beans to use in the next recipes.  Refrigerate all these ingredients as soon as possible.  Cooked fish lasts about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 389   Fat: 11g   Carbs: 40g   Fiber: 7g   Protein: 35g

Salmon Shepherd’s Pie

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 20 oz of salmon or half of the remaining salmon from last night
  • 1 # of fresh asparagus with woody ends removed
  • 2 garlic cloves from last night’s dinner
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • Mashed potatoes leftover from last night

Preheat oven to 375.  In a large skillet mash 2 roasted garlic cloves and mix with the olive oil.  Turn the heat on medium high and roll the asparagus in the olive oil mix.  Saute for about 3 minutes and then remove from heat.  In a deep 8″ by 8″ or equivalent casserole break apart half of the salmon and spread evenly over the bottom of the dish.  Cut up the asparagus into 1″ pieces and sprinkle over the salmon.  Cover with the rest of the mashed cauli-potato from last night and bake at 375 for about 20 minutes.  This is a whole meal all in one dish!

You can either continue with the Salmon Mediterranean recipe or if you need a break from salmon you can go on to the Blackened Fish Taco recipe and come back to the salmon at the end of the week.  It’s always nice to have options when you cook!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 364   Fat: 9.1g   Carbs: 39g   Fiber: 8g   Protein: 34g

Salmon Mediterranean Salad

Ingredients for 4 servings

  • 16 oz of salmon leftover from the first night
  • 2-3 cups cooked green beans, leftover from the first night
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes cut in half
  • 12 small 1″ new potatoes
  • 1/4 cup chopped Kalamata olives
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • Juice from one lemon
  • 1 tbsp apple cider or rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Steam potatoes in small pot for about 10 minutes until knife easily penetrates.  Once they are done drain the water and speed up cooling by placing in cold water bath for about 15 minutes while you work on other ingredients for the meal.

In a small bowl mix the juice from one lemon, vinegar, olive oil and the spices and set aside.  In a large bowl shred the salmon and then add the green beans, cut tomatoes, capers, and chopped olives.  When the potatoes have cooled enough, cut them in half and add to the rest of the ingredients.  Pour the lemon/olive oil dressing over everything and toss well.

This makes a delicious summer meal for a hot day and is a simple all in one dish!  Serve with some thinly sliced apples with fresh lemon juice and you have the perfect meal!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 486   Fat: 17g   Carbs: 52g   Fiber: 12g   Protein: 35g

Blackened Fish Tacos

ingredients for 4 servings (save half of the fish for the chowder)

  • 2 1/2 pounds cod, haddock, tilapia, or catfish
  • 2 tbsp canola oil
  • 4 Lavash wraps
  • Chopped green cabbage or 3 cups of cole slaw mix
  • 1 avocado
  • Juice from one lime
  • Salsa
  • Blackening seasoning

Preheat skillet on medium with the canola in it.  Pat dry the white fish and sprinkle blackening seasoning on both sides of fish.  If you can’t find blackening seasoning, I like to make my own using this recipe.  Place the fish on the skillet and let cook for two minutes.  Then gently flip over, turn off the heat and cover for 2-3 more minutes depending on the thickness of the fish.  You want to handle fish as little as possible.  When done, remove for skillet.  Save the other half of fish for tomorrow night’s fish chowder – put in the frig to cool as soon as possible.

Then take 1/3 of the green cabbage and cut into very fine strips, almost shaved if possible. Using either a Lavash or some other 10″ wrap, place the cabbage, then the fish, thin slices of avocado, some lime juice, then salsa.  Wrap it up and enjoy!  With this low carb meal you could still have a serving of ice cream or even some of my blueberry-rhubarb crisp!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 328   Fat: 1g   Carbs: 18g   Fiber: 6g   Protein: 36g

Blackened Fish Chowder

The blackening seasoning on the fish adds wonderful flavor to the chowder if you used the leftovers from the previous meal.  I also keep a bacon bank in my freezer.  We cook a pound of bacon at a time and keep the extras in the freezer to use in meals like this to saves a step.

Ingredients for 4

  • 1 1/4 white fish (use leftovers from the fish tacos) and break into pieces
  • 4 medium Yukon potatoes  with skin, cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 2 tbsp butter (if you are starting with cooked bacon)
  • 1 large onion chopped finely
  • 2 celery stalks chopped finely
  • 4 roasted garlic cloves (from the first night)
  • 1 1/2 cup chicken bouillon or clam juice
  • 2 cups low-fat milk
  • 1 cup of mashed potatoes (leftover from cauli-potato mash)
  • 1/2 tsp chopped thyme
  • salt and pepper to taste

Cook bacon in a large sauce pan until crispy (unless you keep a bacon bank like we do) on medium heat.  Remove the bacon and mince finely, then add back to the pan along with the garlic, onions and celery.  If you started with previously cooked bacon then mince this and add to the pan along with 2 tablespoons of butter to saute the onions and celery in.  Once the celery and onions are translucent, add the chicken broth or clam juice along with the potatoes and thyme.  Cook until the potatoes are tender.  Then add and stir in the cup of previously mashed potatoes.  If you don’t have the mashed potatoes, then take a third of the potato mixture and mash well.  Gradually add the milk stirring constantly to keep the broth smooth.  Let simmer for 10 minutes to thicken.  Then add the cooked blackened fish, salt and pepper and gently simmer for another 5 minutes until the fish is warm.  (If you are starting with fresh fish then you would add this to the soup when you add the potatoes.)  Serve with a slice on whole grain bread and a nice romaine salad to round out your meal!

Nutritional Information:  Calories: 367   Fat: 8.4g   Carbs: 28g   Fiber: 1g   Protein: 43g

Too Much Fish In One Week?

The shuffle concept allows you to take different meals from different weeks and shuffle them around.   You could do the Fish Tacos and Fish Chowder part of one week followed by BBQ chicken, Chicken Tacos and Tikki Masala using 12 boneless chicken breasts in my Chicken Shuffle Blog.  Cooking in bulk and then freezing gives you the freedom to mix and match different meals.  It’s the concept of thinking beyond one meal.  Instead think of meals for 2-3 nights in order to save you time, yet eat tasty meals without feeling like you are eating the exact same thing over and over again.  Leftovers are boring unless you do the one step, two meal shuffle!








Budget chicken dinners

Life Is Good With These Budget Chicken Dinner Recipes!

We should really be more like chickens, at least make some of their sounds.  Did you know there are over 24 different sounds that a chicken makes?  The Flip Flop Ranch describes all of them but there are some that are heard more often – at least from what I notice living next door to a brood of them.  The more common sounds are the soft irregular chirp when all is physically well, the gentle warbling sound when “life is good”, the hard to miss panic peep when in danger and the obnoxious cackle when the hen proudly tells the world she has laid an egg.  The website describes other sounds but it’s the gentle warbling sound, the “life is good” sound, that I know you will feel when you make my budget chicken dinner recipes from my last post.  You will warble when you realize how delicious these meals are and how healthy, easy and cheap they are to make.

1.  Expand The Cooking Window 

Using a crock-pot to prepare parts of meals while you are at work or being productive outside the kitchen is what cooking with an easy stride is all about.  The last three meals in the previous post call for cooking the 12 chicken breasts in the crock-pot.  Not only does this free up your time to do other things, but it also makes a really moist chicken.  You could even make your chicken stock from the roasting chicken in the crock-pot overnight.  Can you imagine waking up with that soothing aroma?  If that doesn’t make you chirp, then you better go back to bed.

2.  Make The Soft Warbling Sound Rather Than the Panic Peep

Clustering your recipes so that you can make double and even triple amounts of different components for multiple recipes will help you to avoid the panic peep.  No one likes the panic peep.  It not only makes you anxious and cranky but it makes the rest of your brood very uneasy.  You can also freeze the extra grain, chicken and even beans as another time-saving tip to keep you making soft warbling sounds.

The Real Cost Of The Budget Chicken Dinners

Here’s my shopping list for the following meals that feed a family of four for at least five days:

  1. Roasted Lime Chicken With Barley and Roasted Vegetables
  2. Sublime Chicken Barley Soup
  3. Barbecue Chicken With Orange Zest Cole Slaw
  4. Chicken Burrito Wrap
  5. Tikki Masala

Shopping List with prices:

  • 1 large capon – $14.13 for a 7#
  • 12 boneless chicken breasts – these were on sale, buy 4 breasts (1.6# each) and get one free – 8.73 for 2 packages, but you will need 3 so buy 4 and you will have leftovers!  Total – $17.46
  • 30 oz bag of barley – $2.99
  • 2 heads of cauliflower – $2.98
  • 4 heads of broccoli – $2.48
  • 1 head of green cabbage $2.40
  • 1 bag of carrots – $.99
  • 1 bag of onions – $2.85
  • 1 avocado – $1.50
  • 1 lime – $.33
  • 1 bag frozen chopped spinach- $1.50
  • 1 bag frozen fiesta veggie mix – $1.50
  • 1 apple – $.65
  • BBQ sauce – Sweet Baby Ray’s was $1.88
  • 1 can frozen orange concentrate – 12 oz can – freeze the extra for the future – $1.99
  • 1 bottle of vinegar $1.69 (you should have some from the pork/bean week)
  • 1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes – $1.00 – use half for each recipe
  • 1 14 oz can of black beans – $1.50
  • 4 large whole grain wraps – Lavash whole wheat was $2.28 for 4 wraps
  • 1 loaf whole grain bread (to have with soup) – $2.98
  • 1 jar salsa – $2.99, but you should have some left from the pork/beans week of recipe week
  • 1 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt – 4.99 for the 4 cup container or use leftover from the pork/bean recipe week
  • 1 small bottle of olive oil – $4.99, but you would have plenty leftover from the pork/bean week
  • Tumeric – $3.69
  • Garam Masala spice – $6.99.  This is a blend of 7 warm spices, you can also make your own with this recipe

Total:  $83.35

These five meals for a family of four amount to $4.16 per person.  That is including the extra chicken purchased on sale as well as the yogurt, salsa, olive oil and vinegar you would have leftover for the pork/beans meal plan.  Subtract these last four ingredients and that would reduce the total by $14.66 for a grand total of $68.72.  That’s $3.43 for each delicious, healthy meal that will keep you full, avoid the hungry causing insulin spike, nourish your body and give you energy.  You’re not going to get that kind of payback at any restaurant or take-out.  Furthermore, meal preparation is a stress-reducing experience; it allows all your senses to engage while your thoughts focus on the tasks in the present.  Cooking is a wonderful way to get your mind off work and worries.

Budget Chicken Dinner Recipes That Will Make You Warble!

Who says that eating healthy is expensive and takes a lot of time?  Initially it may take some planning but using these steps will teach you the process and tips to save time.  It will get you thinking outside the box, keep you from feeling “cooped up” and penned down to the same old, boring meals or heart-clogging fast food choices.  Now that is really something to warble about!  Life is good.