About Lesley Bolton

Posts by Lesley Bolton:

Crab-Stuffed Manicotti with Spinach-Strawberry Salad

I spent a respectable amount of time on Pinterest researching the perfect recipe for our Valentine’s Dinner — celebrated a few days late to allow for schedules. This dish from examiner.com with a few tweaks was perfect paired with my go-to salad and a Malbec from Chalkboard. The stuffing had more of a lemony flavor than I expected, but it worked with the crab flavor wonderfully. I can’t say enough good things about the salad. It’s healthy, but adds enough sweet and vinegar flavors to make it irresistible. For a little bit of fun, I added strawberries cut like roses with a toothpick as a “stem.” While only one of them really turned out, the kids loved them, and it added color to the plate. Had the strawberries been in season, I think they would have turned out better. I’m counting this one as a hit!

Crab-Stuffed Manicotti

Crabstuffed Manicotti

4 manicotti shells

1 tbsp butter

4 tbsp flour

1 to 2 cups milk

4 tbsp Parmesan cheese

1 cup lump crab meat, drained

1/3 cup ricotta cheese

1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 tsp lemon-pepper seasoning

1/4 tsp pepper

1/5 tsp garlic powder

Fresh parsley, minced


1) Cook manicotti shells according to package.

2) Make a roux by melting the butter in a pan and slowly whisking in flour. When combined, slowly whisk in milk until desired consistency is reached. Be sure to go slowly to avoid making the roux too thin.

3) Whisk in Parmesan cheese and remove from heat.

4) In a separate bowl, mix crab meat, ricotta cheese, mozzarella cheese, lemon-pepper seasoning, pepper, and garlic powder.

5) Pour 1/4 of Parmesan sauce on bottom of a 8 x 8 inch pan.

6) Stuff cooked manicotti shells with crab meat mixture and place in pan. Cover with remaining Parmesan sauce.

7) Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

 

Spinach-Strawberry Salad

Strawberry Spinach Salad

2 tbsp sesame seeds

1 tbsp poppy seeds

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup olive oil

1/4 cup distilled white vinegar (or white wine vinegar)

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 tbsp minced onion

10 oz fresh spinach

1 quart strawberries

1/4 cup almonds


1) In small bowl, combine minced onion, olive oil, white vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, paprika, sugar, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. Mix and allow to sit for a minimum of 1 hour.

2) Mix spinach, strawberries, and almonds in a salad bowl.

3) Top with dressing and serve!

 

Chalkboard Malbec

 

Cod with Pickled Grapes & Summer Succotash

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Our first dinner date — oh, the pressure! I turned to the genius of Blue Apron, and I knew all would be well. If you haven’t tried Blue Apron, I highly suggest you do. They provide an amazing service, and their recipes are not only mouth-watering; they’re also foolproof, as you’ll see below. Trust me; I’m the fool in the kitchen.

While it took longer than I typically spend on meals, primarily because I have difficulty with timing out meal preparation, the meal itself was a hit. I especially loved the flavor the pickled grapes added. I have a feeling I will be using pickled grapes on quite a few dishes in the future. Who’d have thought?!

What You’ll Need

2 cloves garlic

1 bunch tarragon

1 ear of corn

1 tomato

1 shallot

¼ pound green beans

¼ pound red seedless grapes

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 tbsp sugar

2 cod fillets

½ cup rice flour

Directions

    1. Wash and dry the fresh produce. Peel and mince the garlic. Pick the tarragon leaves off the stems; discard the stems and roughly chop the leaves. Remove the husks and silks from the corn. Cut the kernels off the cob; discard the cob. Large-dice the tomato. Peel and thinly slice the shallot. Trim off and discard the stem ends of the green beans; cut the green beans into 1-inch pieces.
    2. Thinly slice the grapes. In a small bowl, stir together the white wine vinegar, sugar, and a pinch of salt until the sugar is almost dissolved. Add the sliced grapes and set aside.

 

3.In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the shallot and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until softened and fragrant. Stir in the corn and green beans and season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, 1 to 2 minutes, or until the green beans have turned bright green. Add the tomato and cook, stirring occasionally, 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until just softened. Transfer the succotash to a plate and set aside. Wipe out the pan.

4.Place the rice flour in a shallow dish. Season the cod fillets with salt and pepper on both sides; thoroughly coat each in the rice flour, tapping off any excess. In the same pan used to cook the succotash, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium-high until hot. Add the coated fish and cook 3 to 4 minutes per side, or until cooked through. Transfer the cooked fish to a paper towel-lined plate; season with salt and pepper immediately.

5. Add half the tarragon to the pickled grapes. Divide the succotash and cooked fish between 2 plates. Spoon half the pickled grapes over each piece of fish, leaving most of the pickling liquid behind. Garnish with the remaining tarragon.

 

Asian Salmon with Asian Chopped Salad and Sake Champagne Mojito

My search for recipes this month turned up a large number of salmon recipes, all of which sounded amazing. I chose one from damndelicious.net, which indeed sounded delicious. Admittedly, Lesley and I both were unsure if we even liked salmon. It turns out, we don’t. I’m not admitting failure with this dish, however. I am sure that if you like salmon this dish would be perfect. Cooking it in the foil was easy, and I could tell that the salmon soaked up the flavors of the marinade. We even asked two salmon lovers and they confirmed (their salmon review can be found below).

The salad was very good and will stay in my recipe book. The colors were fantastic, and it tasted just as good as it looked.

Equally as amazing was the mojito. I love the taste of mint but am not a big fan of sake so this recipe was a gamble for me. This time, my gamble turned out to be a win. It was a fantastic recipe that even had Lesley cheering, “You made honey!”

To keep on theme, I made California rolls for the girls. That could have gone over better, but at least they had their first experience with sushi. All in all, no one was fully satisfied with the meal, but no one was disappointed, and we didn’t have to order takeout. If I consider that a success on normal nights, then I can for this as well.

Recipes on this page:

Asian Salmon

Asian Salad with Peanut Dressing

Sake and Champagne Mojito

Asian Salmon

1-2 lbs salmonAsian Salmon

1/4 c honey

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce

1 tbsp rice vinegar

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp grated ginger (I used powdered ginger)

1 tsp sriracha sauce

2 green onions, sliced

1/2 tsp sesame seeds


1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

2) In a small bowl, combine honey, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, ginger, and sriracha.

3) Line a small baking sheet with foil. I made two pouches; however, you can choose to keep them in one. Fold up the Salmon ready to be bakedsides of the foil and place salmon inside.

4) Cover salmon completely with the marinade and close the foil packet.

5) Bake for approximately 20 minutes. You can tell when the salmon is done because it will pull apart easily.

6) Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.

 

Asian Chopped Salad with Peanut Dressing

Salad:

2 1/2 c shredded red cabbageAsian Salad

2 c shredded kale

1 large carrot

2 bell peppers, thinly sliced

1/2 c fresh cilantro, chopped

1 c of shelled edamame

1 green onion, sliced

1/2 c of cashews

2 tbsp sesame seeds

Peanut Dressing:

2 tbsp smooth peanut butter

2 tbsp water

1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp sesame oil

1 tbsp canola oil

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 tbsp lime juice

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tbsp agave (or honey)

1/2 tsp sriracha sauce


1) Combine all ingredients for the dressing in a food processor and puree. If you are making this the night before, store the dressing in the refrigerator.

2) Prepare all the vegetables and toss in a bowl. Top with cashews and sesame seeds.

3) Serve with the dressing.

Sake and Champagne Mojito

1 bottle of sakeSake mojito

1 bottle of dry champagne

1 bunch of mint leaves

3-4 tbsp lime juice

Simple syrup


1) In a pitcher, combine simple syrup, mint leaves, and lime juice. Muddle together. I used a wooden spoon to do this.

2) Add sake and champagne.

3) Stir, serve, and enjoy!

Note: You can make simple syrup by combining 2 parts sugar and 1 part water. I suggest playing around with the proportions for the simple syrup, lime juice, and mint. Start with less and work your way up. All of these ingredients can be added after the sake and champagne as well.

Salad recipe from aseasyasapplepie.com; Mojito recipe from marcussamuelson.com

Salmon Reviewers

Salmon Reviewers

One Week Left

One week. That’s all we have left. Story will be leaving preschool and I will be leaving my full-time job in one week. I think we’re both afraid—but even more excited.496297564_2423696840_z

Leaving the security of employment may seem irresponsible to some. I include myself in that group. So . . . temporary insanity? No. It was a decision that took months. You see, I really like having a steady paycheck that takes care of all my expenses and then some. I really like my colleagues, my teammates. I really like my work. I really like my boss, even. (more…)

Get Off My Lawn!

picket-fences-349713_1280Now that Story is five, she is expanding her social circles. On the day I stood in mute horror as a horde of children ransacked my house, I realized she had created a neighborhood circle and my house had become their hub.

I don’t know how many there were. I couldn’t have kept count if I’d tried. At least one door to the house was open at all times, and children came and went as they pleased. They played a running game (tag? race?) with Remy, our dog, in the house—it was a rare sunny day outside, mind you. My immediate job became keeping the younger kids from being trampled as they inevitably fell. The hallways are only so wide.

They raided the kitchen shelves and ate like teenagers. I found an empty bag of precious potato chips on my living room floor. Granola bar wrappers and banana peels were wedged in less conspicuous places. Who got in the bathroom trash? Never mind, for the sake of my sanity, I’m going to assume that was the dog. One kid got locked in Remy’s crate.

Just as quickly as they made their attack, they retreated, and Story sat calmly on the couch watching an episode of The Magic School Bus, talking to me about lizards as if nothing had happened. I didn’t imagine this, I swear.

The neighborhood kids still come over but keep mostly to the backyard. Except for two, that is. These two are at my door as soon as I get home from work—I’m talking in the garage before I can even open the car door. On weekends, they try to come right into the house without ringing the bell. If one door is locked, they’ll walk around to the other. Only if the other is also locked will they knock. Even when Story is gone, they still want to come in.

They accosted Ali when she came over for our monthly dinner. Ali stepped out of the car, and there they were. “Whatcha doin’?” They followed her inside. I tried to explain that Story had company and couldn’t play today, but that was met with “But Mom said we could come over.” I let them stay for twenty minutes, and they made themselves at home, as usual.

In the midst of the chaos, Ali advised me to set some boundaries. That’s a good idea, but how? I grew up in the woods, not in a neighborhood, so I’m not well versed in cul-de-sac protocol. What am I supposed to do? Do I lecture the kids on their lack of manners or tell the mom that she needs to watch her children better? Should I purchase a cane and yell at them from the front window, “Get off my lawn!”? Am I just being prudish and not respectful of the free-range style of the other mother? Should I just let it be? After all, I would much rather Story be here with her friends than at someone else’s house.

I don’t know the answers, and if you have some, please share. I do know one thing though: I’m hiding the potato chips from now on.