Alaska Salmon Florentine Stuffed Potatoes

Twice-baked potatoes are a treat any day. But during the holidays, when entertaining can get to be a little hectic, it’s nice to have some things that can be made ahead of time. And twice-baked potatoes are definitely in that category.

And no matter what the potatoes are combined with — be it cheese, bacon bits, sour cream or chopped veggies — this entree is hard to beat.

Here’s a twice-baked potato recipe that contains some of the usual ingredients but with a little something different — salmon and spinach. The potatoes can be served whole as a meal with a salad or cut in half and used as a side.

Alaska Salmon Florentine Stuffed Potatoes
1 14.75-ounce can 2 7.5-ounce cans traditional pack Alaska salmon or 8 to 10 ounces skinless, boneless salmon (canned or pouched), drained and chunked
6 large, unpeeled russet potatoes (about 3 pounds total)
4 cups (3 ounces) lightly packed baby spinach leaves
1 tablespoon finely minced fresh garlic
¼ cup milk
1/3 cup regular or fat-free sour cream
½ cup shredded Swiss cheese
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
1 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
Grated cheese for sprinkling on top
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees.  Wash and prick the potatoes and bake for 45 to 55 minutes, or until very tender and baked through. Remove from the oven and let sit 10 minutes. (Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.)
Meanwhile, place spinach and garlic in a large microwavable container. Cover loosely with lid or plastic wrap. Microwave on high for about 1 to 2 minutes or until spinach is just barely wilted. Remove from microwave and set aside.
In a mixer with a paddle attachment, mix the milk, sour cream, cheeses, salt and pepper.
After the potatoes have cooled for 10 minutes, cut the tops off (lengthwise) and scoop out the hot potato pulp with a spoon, leaving a ½-inch shell. (Scoop the pulp from the tops, too, then discard the skin from the tops.) Add the pulp to the mixer bowl and mix until evenly combined but not overwhipped. Then,add the wilted spinach mixture and salmon and stir in to combine.
Scoop the mixture back into the potato shells, dividing it evenly and piling up. Sprinkle with a little more cheese if desired. Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for about 20 to 25 minutes or until golden and heated through.
Cook’s tip: This recipe makes 6 large portions that are hearty enough as a main course when served with a salad. Cut in half if serving as an accompaniment, but be sure to let them rest 5 minutes before doing so and cut with a serrated knife. This makes a fun surf and turf dinner when paired with a steak.
Serves: 6
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 253 calories, 11grams fat (5 grams saturated), 39 percent of calories from fat, 56 milligrams cholesterol, 25 grams protein, 15 grams carbohydrates, 6 grams fiber, 855 milligrams sodium, 379 milligrams calcium, 1,200 milligrams omega-3 fatty acids.

Salmon Noodle Hotdish

I’m one of those shoppers who sometimes buys on the spur of the moment. And if you’re anything like me, you know how easy it is to get a stockpile of canned goods in the pantry.

With that in mind, it’s a good idea to take inventory every couple of months to make sure the canned goods don’t go out of date.

Right now, we probably have at least a half-dozen cans of kidney beans as well as that many ones of green beans on the shelf. There also is a good supply of canned soups, mushrooms, tomato sauce and the like.

Another staple that I like to have on hand is canned seafood such as tuna and salmon. Both are excellent on sandwiches, but my favorite way to use them is in casseroles.

While checking things out the other day, I came across some canned salmon and went in search of a recipe in which to use it. What caught my attention was the following hotdish recipe in a northwestern Minnesota church cookbook. The recipe also contained canned whole-kernel corn, which is another one of the things we like to keep on hand.

Salmon Noodle Hotdish
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 14¾-ounce can salmon
1 15¼-ounce can corn
2 cups cooked noodles
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Salt and pepper
1 cup crushed crackers (or bread crumbs)
Make white sauce of butter, milk and flour. Add to rest of ingredients, put in greased casserole with crumbs on top. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.

Grilled Salmon Mini-Burgers

Mini-burgers are the rage these days. You can hardly go into any restaurant and not find them on the menu. And I think that’s a good thing.

In times when bigger is touted as better, that’s not always the case, especially when you think about some of the monster burgers that are being served in fast-food establishments around the country.

Here’s a recipe for a grilled mini-salmon burger that should appeal to everyone, not just for people who are watching what they eat. Fatty fish such salmon, are rich in heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acid, whose benefits include reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke while helping to reduce symptoms of hypertension, depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, joint pain and other rheumatoid problems, as well as certain skin ailments. Some research has even shown that omega-3s can boost the immune system and help protect us from an array of illnesses including Alzheimer’s disease.

Grilled Salmon Mini-Burgers with Wasabi Mayonnaise
1 pound boneless, skinless fresh salmon
¼ cup dry bread crumbs
2 green onions, minced, divided
1 teaspoon minced fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 egg white
1 cup finely shredded iceberg lettuce
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
¼ cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 teaspoon wasabi powder, paste or prepared condiment
8 whole-wheat dinner rolls (about 2½ to 3 inches in diameter), split and lightly toasted
Chill salmon well or place in freezer about 30 minutes or until very cold. Mince finely and place in mixing bowl. Add bread crumbs, 1 green onion, ginger, salt, pepper and egg white. Stir well. Shape into 8 patties, each 2½ to 3 inches in diameter.
Preheat grill or allow coals to burn down to white ash. Spray grill grate with nonstick spray coating. Grill patties over medium-high direct heat 2 to 3 minutes per side or until patties are lightly browned and set; do not overcook.
Meanwhile, combine lettuce, cilantro and remaining green onion. In another bowl, blend together mayonnaise and wasabi.
Spread about 1½ teaspoons mayonnaise mixture on each roll. Top with salmon patty and about 2 tablespoons lettuce mixture. Serve immediately.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 180 calories, 27 percent of calories from fat, 6 grams fat (1 gram saturated), 32 milligrams cholesterol, 18 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams protein, 280 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Oven-Steamed Salmon with Dill Sauce

Anyone who knows me well can tell you that salmon is one of my favorite foods. Whenever I come across a new recipe for salmon, my interest is immediately piqued.

Earlier this week, I was reading a story about how California salmon have returned after enforced three-year hiatus. It seems that after peaking with a 2003 catch that totaled more than 7 million pounds, the bottom fell out of the state’s fishery. By 2007, fewer than 2 million pounds were caught, and the next year it was closed altogether. This spring the season was reopened, on a limited basis, so residents probably are now seeing California salmon in the grocery store again.

The story went on to talk about ways to cook salmon and shared the following recipe for the prized seafood that accompanied by a dill mayonnaise sauces.

Oven-Steamed Salmon with Dill Mayonnaise
1½- to 2-pound salmon fillet, in 1 piece
1 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon minced shallots
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
½ cup minced fresh dill
1½ teaspoons lemon juice
Heat the oven to 250 degrees. Place the salmon, meat side up, on a cutting board and feel along the surface of the flesh with your fingertips just above and below the midline. If you feel pin bones, pluck them out with tweezers or needle-nose pliers. Season the salmon with ½ teaspoon salt, or to taste, and place on a jellyroll pan lined with lightly oiled aluminum foil.
When the oven is ready, place a baking pan on the floor of the oven and fill it with boiling water. Place the pan with the salmon on the rack. Cook until a paring knife or toothpick penetrates the flesh easily, 20 to 25 minutes. Note that the flesh will be somewhat denser than usual and that it won’t change color as much as with other cooking methods.
While the salmon is cooking, prepare the dressing. Combine the mayonnaise, shallots, mustard and dill in a food processor or blender or use a mortar and pestle and puree until fairly smooth. There should still be some dots of herbs visible. Add lemon juice and puree again. Taste, correct seasoning and set aside.
When the salmon is done cooking, there will probably be some white collagen collected on the surface. Moisten a pastry brush with oil and lightly brush it away.
Serve the salmon on a large platter with a bit of the mayonnaise spooned to one side. Serve the remainder of the mayonnaise in a bowl to pass. Tell your guests to scoop up the salmon with a spoon, leaving the skin behind.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per servings: 407 calories, 21 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, no fiber, 35 grams fat (5 grams saturated), 71 milligrams cholesterol, no sugar, 406 milligrams sodium.

Grilled Asian Salmon

I’m a big fan of walleye. Anyone who lives in this neck of the woods knows exactly what I mean. But if you’ve never cooked salmon on the grill, you don’t know what you’re missing.

The best grilled salmon that I’ve eaten was prepared by a friend and co-worker, Eric Hylden. Eric is pretty lucky to have a brother-in-law who is a commercial fisherman in Alaska, so his access to seafood such as salmon, halibut and the like is a little better than the rest of us. One of Eric’s favorite ways to cook salmon is on a plank. It’s a technique that I’ve yet to try but hope to do soon.

But there a lot of other ways to fix salmon on the grill, including a recipe that was in an e-mail I received recently from Elizabeth Edelman, co-founder and resident culinary expert at Besides the salmon recipe, which looks mighty tasty, Edelman included several other of her favorite healthy and diabetes-friendly summer grilling recipes, which are available at diabetes website.

After being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in 2005, Edelman (her parents were both professional chefs) was faced with the need to develop an entirely new lifestyle. Disappointed with a lack of local resources, Elizabeth turned to the Internet. She started blogging about her experience and the support was so overwhelming she and her husband, David, created Diabetes Daily, a leading online support network that helps people with diabetes live a better life.

But if you think the recipes you can find at Diabetes Daily are just for diabetics, you’re mistaken. They are the kind of healthy alternatives that all of us should incorporate into our lifestyle.

Grilled Asian Copper River Salmon
3 pounds Copper River salmon, skin on (if Copper River salmon is not available, any regular salmon will do)
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons good quality soy sauce (can be low-sodium)
6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon minced garlic
½ teaspoon grated, fresh ginger
Heat a grill over medium-high heat.  While the grill is heating, lay the salmon skin side down on a cutting board and cut it crosswise into 6 equal pieces. Whisk together the mustard, soy sauce, olive oil, ginger and garlic in a small bowl. Drizzle the marinade onto the salmon and allow it to sit for 10 minutes.
Place the salmon skin side down on the hot grill; discard the marinade the fish was sitting in. Grill for 4 to 5 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish. Turn carefully with a spatula and grill for another 4 to 5 minutes. The salmon will be rare in the center, but don’t worry; it will keep cooking as it sits.
Transfer the fish to a plate, skin side down. Allow the fish to rest for 10 minutes. Remove the skin and serve warm, at room temperature, or chilled.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 399 calories, 1 gram carbohydrates, no fiber, no sugar, 13 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 236 milligrams sodium, 50 grams protein.

Spinach Fettuccine with Salmon and Green Beans

Salmon is a popular — and versatile — food during the holiday season. Many people serve smoked salmon in one form or another. Just recently, I smoked a couple of nice Alaskan red salmon fillets and later turned them into a very tasty spread that we served with crackers.

As well as being quite tasty, salmon provides a bounty of nutritional benefits, especially the omega-3 fatty acids, helpful for heart health. It also can be paired with a lot of other foods in some tasty dishes.

The following easy-to-prepare dish pairs classic Italian cuisine with this popular fish for a healthy, colorful meal. You can even customize it with some red pepper flakes to add zest to suit your taste.

Spinach Fettuccine with Salmon and Green Beans
3 to 4 quarts water
8 ounces fresh green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces (frozen may be substituted)
½ pound spinach fettuccine, cooked per package directions, drained
1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
12-ounce fillet fresh salmon (preferably wild), cut into strips
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 teaspoon paprika
2 cloves fresh garlic, finely chopped.
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
½ tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Boil water in large saucepan. Add beans, if using fresh. Cook about 4 minutes or until tender crisp. Remove with slotted spoon. Set aside. Cook pasta in boiling water per package directions and drain.
While pasta cooks, heat ½ tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium heat. Remove skin from salmon if desired. Season salmon with salt, pepper and paprika. Sear salmon strips for about 3 to 5 minutes. Carefully turn over and cook for an additional 1 minute. Remove salmon from pan and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and red pepper flakes, if using. Saute 1 to 2 minutes not letting garlic brown. Add green beans and saute an additional 2 minutes.
Add cooked pasta, salmon, chives, parsley, and lemon juice to skillet.
Toss thoroughly, but gently, to combine. Serve hot.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 390 calories, 12 grams fat (2 grams saturated), 44 grams carbohydrates, 27 grams protein, 4 grams dietary fiber, 65 milligrams sodium.

Smoked Salmon Spread

This is the time of the year that a lot of people are looking for appetizers for family get-togethers, parties or potlucks.

Next week, Therese’s school is having a little Christmas party, and everyone is expected to bring some sort of dish. I suggested making some homemade sloppy Joes and putting the meat on mini buns. I’m not sure if that’s what we’’do, but it’s an option.

Something else I’m considering is a smoked salmon spread. That’s always a hit at parties. Served with thin rye crackers or as a spread on pumpernickel or caraway bagels, it’s an appetizer that always gets eaten up.

Here’s a recipe for a smoked salmon spread that I received via e-mail from the folks at If you’ve never visited the website, you should. There are a lot of good recipes available, and many would be good for those planning a holiday party.

Smoked Salmon Spread
2 cups Plain Oikos Organic Greek Yogurt
1/3 pound smoked salmon
1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill
1 tablespoon finely chopped sweet onion, such as Vidalia
Fresh dill for garnish
In a medium -size bowl, mash the smoked salmon. Add dill, onion and yogurt. Fold together. Spoon into serving bowl and refrigerate for 2 to 4 hours or overnight. This allows flavors to combine. Garnish with fresh dill.
Yield: 2 cups.

Broiled Salmon

It’s hard to beat a toaster oven. I recently became reacquainted with mine after several years of it sitting on a shelf in my pantry.

My mom gave me the toaster oven years ago, and I used it extensively before my marriage to Therese. The first several years of our marriage, we hardly ever thought about the toaster oven. But one day, while looking at a recipe for broiled halibut, I thought about using it. I couldn’t have been happier with results.

Most recently, I’ve been broiling some red salmon from the Kenai River in Alaska in the toaster oven. It was given to me by my cousin, Paul Hendrickson, who lives in Anchorage, Alaska.

Over the years, Paul has been very generous with the fish he’s brought home on visits. Besides the reds, I’ve had king and silver salmon as well as the aforementioned halibut.

My latest endeavor with the salmon involved marinading it in some sesame and olive oil and tamari sauce, a Japanese soy. It’s been very delicious. The fish is cooked about 7 minutes per side, and when it’s finished, it’s excellent with a baked potato, vegetable and salad.

And the nice thing about using a toaster oven is that it’s quick, and since you don’t have to fire up the conventional oven, it saves money.

Broiled Salmon
2 salmon fillets, skin removed
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons tamari sauce
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
Season salmon fillets with garlic powder, salt and pepper. Mix remaining ingredients in a shallow pan. Place salmon in pan and allow it to marinate for at least 4 hours, overnight if possible.
Place salmon in a tinfoil boat along with juice from marinade. Place under the boiler of a toaster oven or conventional oven. Cook for seven minutes per side or until salmon begins to flake. Serve with baked potatoes, vegetable and a salad.

Cooking with Gourmet Spices

I’ve been making a conscious effort to get more seafood into our diets  — specifically, fish such as halibut and salmon.

Just the other night, I broiled some salmon in our toaster oven that had been marinated for about three hours in some soy sauce. The wild-caught sockeye was very tasty and went well with some fresh steamed green beans from the garden and a salad that also featured home-grown cucumbers and lettuce.

I’m always on the lookout for recipes that feature the kind of fish that’s high in omega-3 fatty acids, which studies have shown are beneficial to heart health. A recent release about some new additions to McCormick’s ( Gourmet line gave me another recipe to add to my collection.

The recipe is called Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Wilted Spinach. It’s low in calories, carbohydrates, fat and sodium.

I discovered the recipe after reading up on the new roasted spice varieties — cumin, Saigon cinnamon, ginger and coriander. If you are looking for flavor-boosting secrets, roasting spices such as these rise to the top as one of the most accessible take-home techniques.

The recipes featured for the new spices were Roasted Cumin-Crusted Grilled Steaks with Tomato Relish, Banana, Cherry and Roasted Cinnamon Bread Pudding, Roasted Ginger Vegetable Stir-Fry and Roasted Coriander, Chickpea and Lime Rice.

Smoked Paprika Roasted Salmon with Wilted Spinach
¼ cup orange juice
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon olive oil, divided
2 teaspoons McCormick Gourmet Collection Thyme Leaves, divided
2 pounds salmon fillets
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Paprika, Smoked
1 teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Cinnamon, Saigon
1 teaspoon grated orange peel
½ teaspoon McCormick Gourmet Collection Sicilian Sea Salt
1 10-ounce bag fresh spinach leaves
Mix orange juice, 2 tablespoons of the oil and 1 teaspoon of the thyme in small bowl. Place salmon in glass dish. Add marinade; turn to coat. Cover. Refrigerate 30 minutes or longer for extra flavor.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix brown sugar, smoked paprika, cinnamon, orange peel, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme and sea salt in small bowl. Remove salmon from marinade. Place in greased foil-lined baking pan. Discard any remaining marinade.
Rub top of salmon evenly with smoked paprika mixture. Roast 10 to 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.
Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 teaspoon oil in large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach; cook 2 minutes or until wilted. Serve salmon over spinach.
Yield: Serves 8.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 188 calories, 202 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fat, 4 grams carbohydrates, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 1 gram fiber. 25 grams protein.

A Grilled Salmon How-To

A lot of people grew up with Crisco in the house. It was — and still is — the favorite of many cooks for baking needs. Some used it for other types of cooking, too. I remember my mom using Crisco when she browned her fried chicken.

These days, Crisco is used in a number of other types of food prepartion, including grilling. Just this past weekend, I a checked out video on Crisco’s Web site for grilled salmon ( It’s one a number of how-to video tutorials that will help answer all your grilling questions.

Besides a number of tasty-looking recipes and videos on how to fix them, Crisco also offers several cooking tips on its Web site (, including the following ones for grilling.

— Always spray cool grill rack with Crisco No-Stick Cooking Spray before heating grill so that food will not stick. Remember to never spray a hot grill.

— Make sure you have the right equipment and a clean grill before igniting the grill.

— Coat meat and vegetables with a light coat of Crisco Olive Oil to help your favorite seasonings adhere while grilling. Try using black pepper, kosher salt and a touch of lime or lemon juice.

Here’s the recipe for the salmon, which I’ve put on my grilling calendar. I find it hard to beat salmon on the grill.

And remember, if you want a little primer on how to fix it, check out the video. 

Grilled Salmon with Maple-Dill Glaze
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
¼ cup Hungry Jack Microwave Ready Lite Syrup or Hungry Jack Microwave Ready Regular Syrup
½ teaspoon finely minced garlic
1 teaspoon dill weed
½ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons Crisco Puritan Canola Oil with Omega-3 DHA
4 4-ounce salmon fillets, rinsed and patted dry
1 16-ounce bag frozen vegetable blend like Baby Corn Blend (see note)
Whisk together mustard, vinegar, syrup, garlic, dill weed and salt in small bowl. Gradually whisk in oil. Place 3 tablespoons glaze in a resealable food storage bag with salmon. Marinate 1 hour in refrigerator.
Brush grill pan with oil and heat over medium-high heat. Once grill is hot, place fillets, skin side up, in pan. Cook 10 to 12 minutes, turning once or until fish is opaque throughout. Place 3 tablespoons glaze in a small bowl. Brush the fillets with glaze during the last few minutes of cooking.
Cook vegetable blend according to package directions. Drain if necessary. Divide vegetables evenly onto 4 dinner plates. Center fillets over vegetables. Serve drizzled with remaining warmed glaze.
Yield: Serves 4.
Note: Baby Corn Blend is a mixture of white corn, broccoli florets, baby whole cob corn and Parisienne carrots and can be found in your grocer’s freezer.