Category Archives: DinnerInDisguise

Follow my dinner journey with a single picture, my thoughts and maybe a recipe or two!


Dinner In Disguise: Salmon and Couscous

Salmon and Bell Pepper Couscous with a Bernaise Sauce.

Well, Salmon was on sale at the market so I picked up a couple of portions. The cous cows was quick and easy, plus I was having a strange craving for it. The salmon is extremely simple.

Sear your salt and peppered Salmon for 3-5 minutes over medium high heat, not super hot. Once you place it in the pan, don’t touch it. Don’t! Once you see a little crust on the edges, it’s time to flip it over. Once you do, I place it in my oven for about 5 minutes at 275-300 (preheated).

While that is in the over, you can cook the couscous in less than 6 minutes. I had a red and yellow pepper laying around. I cut up a few strips into really small dice (brunoise). Take 1/2 a shallot and do the same. Take 1/2 cup of broth or water and tsp of butter and bring to a boil. Add shallot and peppers, then stir in 1/4 cup of couscous. Stir, then place a lid on it and take it off the heat. Don’t open the cover for at least 5-7 minutes.

Don’t forget about your salmon. remove from oven and let it rest. After the resting period is up for the couscous, open lid and fluff with a fork. Plate your couscous and place your salmon on top!


Dinner In Disguise: Pork Chops and Potatoes

Dinner In Disguise this week is Braised Pork Chops in a Fennel/Onion Pan Sauce with Twice Cooked Potatoes

This is another simple off-the-cuff meal… quick, simple and great on a fall/winter night!

I seared the pork chops on both sides for about 3-4 minutes a piece (make sure your chops are at room temperature or the insides won’t cook quick enough)

Meanwhile I took baby potatoes (i like these better than russet) and boil in salted water. Start the potatoes with COLD water, then bring to a boil for a few minutes. A paring knife should be able to pierce the potatoes with ease. Once they are cooked, drain the water and place into a heatproof pan. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper and throw in a sprig or two of rosemary or thyme. Place in a 400 degree oven. Toss once in a while and cook until some brownness appears.

After searing the pork chops (we’re not looking to cook them all the way thru) take them out and place under foil. In the same pan, add 1/2 a small onion, sliced fennel and one small garlic clove. Cook down the onions and fennel, then add 1/4 cup of chicken or beef broth. Place the chops back in the pan and place in the oven for about 5-8 minutes, next to the potatoes if you want.

Plate your chops and potatoes and pour the pan sauce over your chops!



Leftovers In Disguise: Stuffed Frittata

Stuffed Frittata

So I made my Italian Sausage stuffing for the Rolled Turkey Breast for Thanksgiving. I ended up having about cup worth of leftovers and wanted something for breakfast the next morning. So I took the stuffing and with a fork broke it down into smaller pieces. I preheated my oven to 425. I then scrambled about 3 eggs along with a dash of half and half that was left over from Thanksgiving Day as well. Season with salt and pepper and place the stuffing into the egg mixture and then about 2 tablespoons of your favorite shredded cheese.

Over medium high heat (not high), place your egg mixture into the pan, pull the pan off the heat and lower the heat to medium. You should see the outer edges start to firm up. return to heat for about another minute or two. You’re looking for more firmness around the edges. The middle of the pan will definitely be runny still.

Turn the heat off and transfer your skillet to the oven for about 5-8 minutes. The eggs will continue to cook. After about 5-8 minutes pull the skillet out of the oven. Let rest for less than a minute and it will deflate. Place on a plate and serve!




Roasted Pork with Sweet Potato Fries

Catching Up on Dinners In Disguise

Hello all….

I have been a bit bad about posting my dinners again. Here are a few from the last couple of weeks:

  • Roasted Pork with Sweet Potato Fries
  • Seared Scallops over Arugula with a Lemon Vinaigrette
  • Fish and Shrimp Tacos from Boneheads
  • Poached Cod and Grape Tomatoes
  • Roasted Salmon with Cilantro Oil

Dinner In Disguise: Seared Scallops

Seared Scallops and Sautéed Shiitake Mushrooms over an Arugula Salad

There were some good looking scallops at Sprouts (formerly Henry’s). I purchased 5 large scallops. Fresh and not pre-frozen. How do you tell if a scallop is fresh?

First hint, check where the scallops are sitting, is there a pool of water under it, most probably it’s defrosted water.

Second hint? Is that water “white”? If so, they probably put a preservative on the scallops to extend freshness. Look for scallops that aren’t “white”. Instead look for ones that have a slight pink hue to them.

I simply seared my scallops in some olive oil and butter, basting them along the way. Once you place your scallops in your hot pan, don’t touch them! Resist the urge. Wait about 2 minutes and there should be a good sear on them. Then turn them, shut off the heat and give them another 2 minutes – basting along the way.

Meanwhile, let’s make a simple vinaigrette. I used olive oil and champagne vinegar with some chopped shallots with salt and pepper, of course. remember 1 part vinegar to 3 parts vinegar. Some like a 1 to 2 ratio – it’s all up to you. Rinse some baby arugula and dress your salad.

Your scallops should be ready. Place on some paper towels and let rest for another minute. I didn’t want to dirty another dish, so I took most of the oil out of the pan I seared my scallops in and placed some sliced shiitake mushrooms with some shallots. Sautee for about 2 minutes. Salt and pepper.

Plate your arugula on a plate and place three scallops on top. Then take your sautéed mushrooms and garnish on top.

Dinner In Disguise: Halibut en Papillote

I have been on a seafood kick these last few weeks. Tonight’s dinner was inspired by a recipe that was given to me by a friend from Bon Appetit magazine article about beach house cooking. I adapted it to my own tastes for something a bit more Puerto Vallarta as opposed to The Outer Banks in North Carolina.

The original recipe can be found here:

I decided to change things up a bit and I changed the sausage to chorizo and did more of a rough chop on the tomatoes. I absolutely loved this dish. I’m a big fan of anything en papillote (in a pouch). Very healthy cooking indeed.

Just a word of caution, chorizo is very salty to begin with, so additional salt is not needed. Halibut is a very forgiving fish when cooked, but make sure not to leave it too long in the oven. Remember, any clams that aren’t open after cooking should be discarded.


This is the recipe adapted from the original Bon Appetit recipe

Use whatever firm-fleshed white fish is in season, and customize your package of fish with any herbs and aromatic vegetables you have on hand. Remember to add a splash of wine or stock and a knob of butter or glug of olive oil to the fish before you seal the foil or parchment (I like parchment). The more juices the better.

1 Tbsp. Chorizo sausage, browned in a skillet (no need for oil)
12 littleneck or Manila clams
4 6-oz. whitefish (I used Halibut)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
16 Grape and/or Pear Tomatoes (I had red and yellow on hand)
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
8 sprigs thyme
1/2 cup white wine

Arrange 4 sheets of heavy-duty foil or parchment paper on a work surface. Divide sausage and clams among sheets, arranging them in the middle of each. Season fish with salt and pepper (if you use chorizo I recommend skipping the salt) and drape over sausage and clams. Spoon some tomatoes and garlic slices over each fillet, then top with butter and thyme. Drizzle 2 Tbsp. wine over each. Close up edges of foil, crimping to create a tight seal. Transfer packets to a rimmed baking sheet. Refrigerate for up to 1 day.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Transfer baking sheet to oven and cook until packets have expanded and fish and clams have cooked through, 12-15 minutes. (You can cheat and open one up to check, if you’d like.) To serve, carefully cut open the packets with scissors. Inhale the aroma. Eat.

Dinner In Disguise: Sea Bass over Roasted Tomatoes

Pan Seared Sea Bass over Roasted Yellow and Red Tomatoes

I was at the Farmers’ Market in Laguna Hills yesterday and picked up a few things. Of those, one was a nice piece of Sea Bass from the fish purveyor and then some herbs and tomatoes. Today it was used to make dinner.

First I took some Yellow Grape Tomatoes and some Red Cherry Tomatoes and placed them on a baking sheet with some parchment paper. Next I drizzled some Olive Oil on it and sprinkled some Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Then I placed in a pre-heated oven at 350 for about 10-15 minutes (maybe less…)

While those were in the over, I took my sea bass and patted it dry with some paper towels. Make sure you draw out as much moisture you can from it. Don’t press down hard and flatten the fish, just make sure it is dry on the outside. If you don’t dry the outside, you will not be able to get a good sear on it. Sprinkle liberally with Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper on both side. Meanwhile in a skillet bring about 1.5 tablespoons of olive oil and or canola oil and make sure your stove is set to High. You want the pan to almost be smoking when you place the fish in the oil. Remember, always lay the fish away from you so you don’t splatter yourself. Once the fish is in, DON’T TOUCH IT for at least 3 minutes. Once you see some browning around the edges, take a peek and see if the bottom of the fish is seared. You want a nice golden color. If not, let it set for an additional 1 minute or two. Then flip the sea bass over and get a nice sear on that side – again about 3-4 minutes (or less). Once you have a nice crust on the bottom, take out of the pan and let rest for a minute.

While the fish is standing, take your tomatoes out. You should be able to smell them by now. Make sure the skin is wrinkly (sp) and they are soft. We’re not looking for a char here. Place the tomatoes on a plate. Hold onto that pan for another minute.

Take your fish and place on top of the bed of tomatoes. Next take the juices from the roasting pan and pour over the fish and tomatoes!

OMG, enjoy!!

Dessert in Disguise: Strawberries and Angel Food Cake

Dessert in Disguise: Strawberries and Angel Food Cake

Sometimes the simplest things give the most pleasure. So a few weeks back my friend Shannon from the office brought me some groceries while I recover at home from the heart attack. In that set she brought me some fresh strawberries, angel food cake and fat free whipped cream. I have to say I have been enjoying this little “strawberry shortcake” for several weeks. Not the same set from when Shannon was here, I have gone out and bought more strawberries and angel food cake. Now, this isn’t a “shortcake” in the truest sense. I place a slice of angel food cake down, whip cream and then sliced strawberries, then another slice, whip cream and strawberries.

Absolutely awesome!

  • Fat free whip cream 5 calories per serving (2 Tablespoons)
  • Angel Food Cake 72 calories (1/12 of a 12oz cake)
  • Strawberries come in at 25-49 calories (1/2 cup sliced)

The whipped cream is fat free as well so that is a bonus! Now the pics below show a “family style” plating. My 2 sisters and their kids were over and we had this for dessert!

Appetizer In Disguise: Crab Wontons

Crab Wontons

My friend Elise from the Giddy Gourmand website was having a problem. She was really in the mood to make Crab Wontons (Crab Rangoon). The problem she was having is that the filling was coming thru the skin (not the seams) when she fried them. The only thing I could think of is that she didn’t squeeze enough of the water out of the crab. She bought canned crab which is shipped in water. I told her to drain the crab, place it in a cloth towel and the wring it still all the water came out. Then add the dry crab to your cream cheese mixture. If you can buy fresh lump crabmeat from your seafood counter, that is the best way to go, no draining and ready to go.

This recipe is infinitely simple. you can add additional ingredients to the cream cheese mixture if you want, just make sure they are small pieces.

  • 1 quart oil for frying
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallots
  • 1 (6 ounce) container of fresh lump crab meat (if canned, drain and squeeze out all water)
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 (14 ounce) package small won ton wrappers
  • Sweet Chili Sauce


  1. Heat oil for frying in deep-fryer or large, heavy saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add garlic and shallots, and saute for about 1 minute.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine crab, cream cheese, soy sauce and sauteed vegetable mixture. Drop mixture by 3/4 teaspoon into the center of a won ton wrapper. Fold the wrapper in half to make a triangle. Seal the wrapper around the mixture by wetting your finger with egg-wash and pressing the ends together. You can also place the crab in the center and bring the four corners together then seal the seams.
  4. In batches, fry the dumplings in the prepared oil until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
  5. Serve with sweet red chili sauce (available in any grocery store in the Asian section)


Dinner In Disguise: Turkey Burger

Turkey Burger with Dijon, Arugula and Goat Cheese

I luved this burger. I don’t have the exact measurements but here is what went into the ground turkey.

1 lb of Ground Turkey (dark and white)
1/4 onion chopped
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (not salt)
2 tablespoons of Dijon plus some for the bread
1 tsp of fresh cracked pepper
1/2 tablespoon of kosher salt
1 egg
1/4 cup to 1/2 cup of panko or your favorite breadcrumbs.
Baby Arugula
Goat Cheese
Your favorite bun

Mix the turkey egg, onions, seasonings all together. Mix well, but don’t over mix. Take a spoonful and cook in a skillet? Why? Taste it. Does it need more S/P? If so, adjust accordingly.

1 pound of Turkey should get you about 4-6 patties. Form by hand. I like mine a bit thick, so I got about 4 patties. Since mine with thick, I cooked on a skillet about 3-4 minutes per side to get some nice color. hen I placed it in the oven at 375 for about 8 minutes.

Remember, let your patties rest before you bite into them. Mine we juicy and not dry at all!

Toast your bun if you like. Spread dijon and goat cheese on the buns. Place arugula leaves on top and sprinkle crumbles of goat cheese on top. (I love goat cheese…)