Sunday, June 10, 2012

What's For Dinner?

In an ideal situation, I love to cook.  Crank up the tunes, pour a glass of wine and give me something to chop.  I'm happy.  Over the years, I've accumulated a giant binder of recipes that caught my eye, torn from various cooking magazine subscriptions. 
Step one--chop red onion and zucchini
This weekend I went through that notebook with a critical eye.  You see, family dinners are important to me.  As busy as life gets, I want my family to convene for a meal on a regular basis.    After a horrible day or tension over homework, the dinner table is our neutral territory.  We begin the meal by sharing reasons why we're thankful.  As we eat, we tell stories about our day or reflect on the daily news.   It is a real grounding event and one that I cherish.  I'm not the only person who places importance on family dinners.   Once I read about a survey conducted of National Merit Scholars.  Researchers wanted to know if there was one quality the students had in common--some marker that could could be used to predict future success. 

“A survey of National Merit Scholars—exceptionally successful eighteen-year-olds crossing all lines of ethnicity, gender, geography and class—turned up a common thread in their lives: the habit of sitting down to a family dinner table.”—from Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life by Barbara Kingsolver

After a little digging around, I found the NMS study is not the only one to see the value of family dinners.  You can read about more evidence here:  Importance of Family Dinners
Step Two-Toss salmon and veggies with marinade in a casserole dish and bake.

So, family dinner is a priority.  But preparing a healthy, tasty meal day after day is not easy.  The hour between 5:00 and 6:00 p.m. is known as the witching hour in our house.  Everyone is tired...except the dog who has suddenly found his second wind.  Homework, sports practice and dinner prep merge and overlap into one ugly giant mass. Recently I realized these challenges will be magnified in the fall when I transition to a full-time schedule at work.

That's when I took a look at my binder's often impractical ideas with a different perspective and resolved to clean it out.  To keep a recipe, it had to meet three criteria--fewer than 10 ingredients, no unusual and hard-to-find items and a prep time of less than 30 minutes.  I was ruthless.   Gone is the recipe for vegetable lasagna (Who has time to dice 6 different types of vegetables?) the Lobster Thermidor (Not really a weeknight staple) and Tomatillo Kale Quinoa (what was I thinking?).  By the time I finished, the notebook was noticeably thinner and my recycle box was overflowing with rejected clippings. 

Tonight I prepared one of the remaining recipes. The music was loud and the wine was cold.   The recipe was fast, easy and delicious.  I'm happy.
Step Three: Enjoy!
Allison's Easy Marinated Salmon and Veggies
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
Chop up a red onion and a couple zucchini and toss them in a baking pan with this marinade(reserve about ¼ cup):
·         ¼ cup honey mustard
·         3 T soy sauce
·         3 T. lemon juice
·         3 T. brown sugar
·         1 t. vegetable oil
·         A little salt and pepper

Add some salmon to the baking dish and drizzle the rest of the marinade on top.

Bake for about 15 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.  Remove the fish and return the veggies to the oven for another 15 minutes or until tender.

Serve with rice.


  1. You know I am game for just about anything food-wise, but I think I threw up in my mouth a little bit picturing Tomatillo Kale Quinoa.

  2. oh yum! I want to come over for dinner!