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Dinners by Dad – Quick Tips – What the heck is zest of lemon?

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Last week I made a Shrimp Lemon Pepper Linguini from a recipe on Allrecipes.com and along with the fresh squeezed lemon juice, the recipe called for “1/2 teaspoon of lemon zest”.  The first time I ran into this was with a risotto recipe a few weeks ago and I had to Google it since I literally had no idea what zesting a lemon was.  Those of you who have been cooking for years may take this knowledge for granted but if it was new to me I figure there may be other people (especially fellow take-out techies) who’d probably need to look it up.

So here it is…  your simple answer..  Zest = grated lemon rind

Essentially you use a small plane, small grater, or worst case a large cheese grater to grate just the yellow part of the lemon skin.  You don’t want the white part underneath the outer layer of yellow so you will need to keep turning the lemon to hit all of the outside skin for the best zest.

Another tip I found, if the recipe calls for juicing the lemon also, make sure you zest it first.  Once you juice it, the lemon will not be firm enough to make zesting an easy task.  So zest the lemon while it’s still whole, then cut it in half and juice it.

We have a small grater that I believe is for parmesan that seems to work well for the lemon zest.

More info..

Oh yeah, the Shrimp Lemon Pepper Fettucini was great also!

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Dinners by Dad – 2013 Week 3 – Maple Salmon

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Okay, I know I’m technically skipping Weeks 1 and 2 but I figured I’d use calendar weeks and I started writing about this project several weeks after the project itself started…  oh well.

So tonight my work meetings finished up late and I didn’t get to the store until 5:30pm.  2013 week 2.1 ingredientsToday I actually attempted to find some recipes that used produce and/or meats we already have in the house.  This made it a little more difficult to settle on something that sounded inspired.  We had some potatoes, carrots, and shallots on hand and I’ve been dying to use shallots in something.  Seafood sounded good so I searched around for something with shellfish but didn’t find anything that sounded awesome and then I ran across a Maple glazed Salmon recipe that seemed easy and tasty.

Maple Salmon on Allrecipes.com

Asparagus seems to be the thing to make when we grill Salmon in the summer so I started searching for an asparagus dish and most of them are pretty basic.  For some reason when I was at the store I walked up and down the produce section about 5 times and never found asparagus.  So I quickly googled for “potato carrot shallot recipe” and found a roasted vegetable dish that sounded tasty.  Of course as soon as I found that recipe, I also found the asparagus so I decided to do both.

Roasted Potatoes, Carrots, and Shallots on Epicurious.com

For the asparagus, I improvised on an onion and asparagus recipe I found that called for sliced onions and onion salt.

Pan Fried Asparagus with Onions on Allrecipes.com

I chopped the onions for this instead of slicing because I thought it would fry up a bit better and I think it turned out really good.  The recipe also calls for “onion salt” which confused me.  I’ve heard of onion powder and garlic salt, but onion salt was a new one.  And I didn’t see any onion salt in the seasonings aisle at the store.  A quick google and I found multiple sites that essentially said it was 3 parts salt to 1 part garlic powder.  So fear not, it’s super simple to make.

On another note, peeling Shallots (which is needed for the roasted potatoes, etc dish) is a pain, a little more difficult than peeling garlic cloves and onions.  This tip seemed to help but I skipped the boiling water part.  Cutting the ends off and making a very shallow slit down one side with a sharp knife made a difference.

One of the other reasons I chose this potato dish over a couple others I found was that the oven temperature it called for was the same (400F) as the Maple Salmon so I was able to put both of them in the oven at the same time.  I started the veggies (which take about 10 minutes to prep and just under an hour to cook) and then worked on the Salmon next.  The Salmon dish calls for marinating for 20 minutes or so then baking for 20 minutes.  So I made the glaze, brushed it on, then put in the fridge.  About 20 minutes before the veggies were supposed to be done I put the Salmon in the oven.  In the meantime I had prepped the asparagus and onions (to which I added parsley and garlic as well) and in the last 10 minutes of baking I fried up the asparagus.  2013 week 2.1 dinnerEverything was done at about the same time and it was all pretty tasty.

A couple final comments..

I really liked the maple glaze for the Salmon, it was great.  I used dried Rosemary in the vegetables but I’m sure chopped fresh rosemary would be better.  From the time I started chopping veggies to putting the finished meal on the plate was an hour and 15 minutes.  There was enough downtime in between tasks that I was able to clean up most of the dishes also.  The roasted shallots were awesome too!

Toaster Oven Recipes – Breakfast Sandwich

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After being frustrated with our normal toaster to the point that we tossed it, I received a new Breville Convection Toaster Oven for Christmas and it has proven to be really useful.  I’ve been trying it out on various meals that would normally use the oven, range, or microwave and so far the results have been very good. Today I experimented with a home made breakfast sandwich using some ingredients I found in the fridge.  Since it was tasty and took less than 10 minutes to make I thought I’d share.  This *may* be the first in a continuing series of Toaster Oven Recipes.  Okay, lets begin..


  • 1 Slice – Deli Sliced Honey Roasted/Smoked Turkey Breast
  • 1/4 Cup – 4-Cheese Mexican Blend Shredded Cheese
  • 1 – Fresh AA Large Egg
  • 1 Roll – Whole Wheat Sandwich Thins
  • 1 Tblsp – Butter (Optional) (or some other type of spread you like)

I just happened to have these flavors and brands in the fridge, you can adjust based on what you have in your fridge or to your preferred tastes.


First, separate the two halves of the Sandwich Thin Roll and place face up.  Spread butter on the inside faces of the rolls if desired. Tear one slice of Turkey in half and cover one half of the roll overlapping the two turkey pieces to fit the roll.

Sprinkle the shredded cheese to cover the second roll half evenly.


Place both roll halves on the middle rack of the toaster oven, set to Bake, 350 deg, 5 minutes.  (My Breville Oven preheats first, then starts the countdown timer once preheating is complete.  This actually works out well as I’ll describe in a moment.)

Next, crack the egg into a small pan (I happen to have a really small pan that is about the same diameter as the Sandwich Thins) on on the stove and break the yolk.  Allow the egg to cook on medium heat.

Meanwhile, the oven will beep when preheating is complete and start the 5 minute countdown.  Remove the cheese covered half from the oven and allow the meat side to continue cooking.

When the egg is nearly cooked you may want to flip it one time to finish the top, then remove it from the stove and place it on top of the cheese covered roll.  The egg will be done just about the same time as the 5 minute oven timer.  Remove the roll from the toaster oven and put the two halves together to make the full egg, cheese, turkey sandwich.

Nutrition Information: (I am not making any health claims, I am simply providing this for informational purposes)

1 Egg, 1 Slice Turkey, Sandwich Thin, Cheese

  • 300 calories
  • 14.5g fat
  • 24.4g carbs
  • 23.3g protein

Optional butter adds 102 calories and 11g fat. (Other spreads or skipping the butter may be a good idea if your are trying to keep your calories and/or fat intake down.)

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