Lime Salmon

The weekend is coming to an end, and maybe you are thinking about dinner plans for the week ahead. Here is an easy, healthy dinner recipe. The first time I made this recipe for a private dinner party, it got rave reviews. Sometimes simple can be as wonderful as a meal that takes hours to prepare.

Lime Salmon

salmon filets
salt and pepper
4 tblsp. butter
one lime

Season filets with salt and pepper. Melt butter and add the juice of the lime along with the zest. Grill or sautee the salmon on one side and then turn over and brush with the lime butter. Once the salmon is done, brush with more lime butter.

Very easy and so tasty. Serve with some steamed vegetables and a maybe a baked sweet potato and a salad, and dinner is ready!

Relaxing Mornings

A relaxing morning breakfast at The Oliver Inn

A relaxing morning breakfast at The Oliver Inn

Would you use the words “calm” and “relaxing” to describe your typical breakfast? Probably not. We wake up and hit the snooze button, then race around trying to get everyone in the house out the door on time for work or school, and our day starts with a flourish.

Here at The Oliver Inn one of our goals is to help our guests escape the normal morning frenzy. Our dining room table is set with china and lace and beautiful silver candelabras. The grand piano in the library plays soothing music while guests enjoy a gourmet breakfast. In the winter months, there’s a fire going. And the final touch—no clocks in the dining room.

We would love to welcome you to our morning oasis sometime. But if you can’t come to the Inn, why not recreate your own version of a quiet breakast? Turn on soothing music—maybe the radio, a favorite CD, or your iPod. Light some candles and build in a little extra time. It could make all the difference in the rest of your day!

Sausage Gravy and Heart Shaped Biscuits

The weekend is coming! Time to start planning some romantic surprises. I know weekends can easily be swallowed up with errands and projects, but try to add an extra hour in the morning to relax and spend some quiet time with your sweetie. You won’t miss that hour later in the day. Maybe serve breakfast in bed—or if that’s too ambitious, how about a cup of coffee or tea?

Even though Valentine’s Day has passed, heart-shaped biscuits and gravy make a romantic breakfast any time. Here’s my favorite recipe for Sausage Gravy. Make your own biscuits either from scratch or from a mix, and cut them out with a heart-shaped cookie cutter—or just use the ones that come in a can. (You can still cut them into heart shapes!)

Sausage Gravy

½ lb. breakfast sausage
1/2 stick margarine
1/2 cup flour
2 cups milk
¼ tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. onion powder
1/8 tsp. garlic powder
good dash of Tabasco

Brown sausage and cook until crumbly. Drain and set aside.

Melt margarine and add flour. Cook on medium heat for 5 minutes. Add remaining ingredients. Cook on medium until the gravy thickens.

Add the sausage and serve over warm biscuits.

So much to do in South Bend!

Are the never-ending snowflakes getting you down? The dreariness of winter’s cold and snow and clouds? Do you need to get away and get out and do something fun? Look no further than South Bend! We have so much going on here that there’s a special Web site to cover it all. Visit ArtsEverywhere.com to see what’s going on the weekend you want to visit. Or plan your visit around a special event that interests you. Don’t forget to check out the eSavers link for special discount offers. You’ll find plays and concerts, symphonies, great dining, and of course a great bed and breakfast ready and waiting to pamper you. Most of the events in town are within walking distance of the Inn, so you can “go green” even in the dead of winter!

Spinach Hash

Today I thought I would share a Rachel Ray recipe that has become a favorite of my guests. It is beautiful, good for you , easy, and very tasty. Even my husband will eat spinach this way! Try it for a quick breakfast or a super supper.

Spinach Hash

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 2 turns of the pan
4 tablespoons butter, divided
8 small red potatoes
Salt and pepper
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 large ham steak, finely chopped
4 extra-large eggs
2 cups baby spinach leaves, roughly chopped (or one 10-oz. package of frozen chopped spinach, thawed and wrung dry in a kitchen towel)
10 leaves fresh basil, chopped or torn (or a few rounded spoonfuls of prepared store-bought pesto)
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, a couple of generous handfuls

Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat with 2 turns of the pan of extra-virgin olive oil, about 2 tablespoons, and 2 tablespoons of butter. While the pan is getting hot and the butter is melting, cut the potatoes in half and then thinly slice them, add to the hot skillet and season with salt, pepper, thyme, and the crushed red pepper flakes. Cook, stirring every now and then, for about 10 minutes, or until potatoes have browned and are tender. Add the onion and the ham and continue to cook for 3 to 4 minutes.

Preheat another skillet over medium high heat with 2 tablespoons of butter. Once the butter has melted and the bubbles have subsided, crack eggs into the pan, season with salt and pepper, and fry to desired doneness.

While the eggs are frying, finish off the hash by adding the spinach and basil (or pesto) to the potatoes. Toss to wilt and warm the spinach. Sprinkle the hash with tomatoes and cheese and remove from the heat. Transfer the ham and spinach hash to plates. Top each portion with a single fried egg or arrange the fried eggs evenly over the platter.

Fresh Baked Cinnamon Rolls

One of my favorite treats to make for guests is fresh baked cinnamon rolls. I found a good recipe years ago and have been making it ever since. Recently I came across a slightly different version and thought about trying it. You know how I love to try new recipes! But when I mentioned it to my son, he said, “Mom, why bother? Your cinnamon rolls are already the best.”

A nice thing about this recipe is that it’s very versatile. Making the rolls from start to finish takes about three hours, including rising time. But you can let the dough rise overnight in the refrigerator, either before or after shaping the rolls, to save time in the morning. It’s a great way to greet your family with fresh, hot cinnamon rolls without having to get up too early. It’s also great for company, since you can do some of the work ahead of time. I hope you’ll give these cinnamon rolls a try—or come visit us at the Inn, and I’ll make them for you!

Cinnamon Rolls
Makes 12

1 pkg. yeast
3 tblsp. sugar, divided
1/2 cup warm water
2 tblsp. butter, melted
½ cup milk
pinch of salt
1 egg
3–3¼ cups flour

Filling
1½ tblsp. melted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon

Glaze
1¼ cup powdered sugar
2 tblsp. melted butter
2 tblsp. milk

Proof yeast with 1 tblsp. of sugar in ½ cup of warm water for 5 minutes. Combine melted butter, milk, salt, and remaining 2 tblsp. sugar in a saucepan and heat until lukewarm. Stir into yeast mixture along with the egg and 3 cups of flour. Knead in remaining flour as necessary.

Let rise 45 min. to 1 hour in a warm place (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Roll dough into a 9×12 rectangle. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Roll up dough and cut into 12 slices. Place cut side up in a greased 9×13 pan and let rise 1 hour in a warm place (or overnight in the refrigerator).

Bake at 400° for 16–18 min. Combine glaze ingredients and drizzle over warm

The Life of a Busy Innkeeper

To be an innkeeper is to be busy most of the time. This weekend is especially busy, since it’s Valentine’s Day and a three-day weekend for many people. The inn is almost full. We have a few couples who are celebrating birthdays along with Valentine’s Day. We have another couple who are traveling across the country from New Hampshire to Denver and needed a place to stay along the way. We have a few local couples who are tired of winter and just needed a place to relax and rejuvenate. Then we have a couple from Chicago who decided at the last minute to come to South Bend for a weekend escape and to visit the museums. All of our guests are enjoying homemade chocolate chip cookies, heart-shaped sugar cookies, and in-room fireplaces and jacuzzis.

We try to make the Oliver Inn a respite in a world of craziness. This morning I’m serving Stuffed Grilled Panini French Toast with fresh strawberries, along with grilled ham slices, almond poppy seed bread, and the chocolate chip coffee cake recipe I shared earlier this week. We will also have a variety of fresh fruit and juices.

We have a private tea party here at noon, and then beginning at 3:00, 18 more guests will arrive and we start all over, welcoming both new and old friends.

Here is my recipe for Stuffed Panini French Toast.

1 loaf (about 1 lb.) egg braid (or any good French bread)
cream cheese
8 large eggs
2 cups half and half
1 cup milk
2 tblsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
dash of salt

Slice the bread, not too thick or thin. Soften the cream cheese and spread a small amount on half the bread slices, then top each with another slice (as if you were making a sandwich).

Mix together remaining ingredients.

Preheat a grill pan or a panini pan and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Soak each “sandwich” in the batter, then grill both sides until golden. Place grilled sandwiches on a cookie sheet and bake for 15 min. to finish cooking.

Crab Cakes

Are you looking for a wonderful dinner recipe to make for your special someone this weekend? Even though our business is a bed and breakfast, we often host private parties and dinners—so I have a growing collection of dinner recipes too. It’s another opportunity for me to look for new recipes and experiment with different ways to wow my guests. I love watching cooking shows on TV for inspiration. I also use Google searches to find new recipes. Sometimes I mix two recipes together and make up my own version. Here’s one I really love.

Crab Cakes

1 pound crab meat (not imitation)
1 egg
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 tblsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. lemon juice
1 tblsp. Dijon mustard
1 tblsp. melted butter
1 tsp. dried parsley flakes or 1 tblsp. fresh chopped parsley
1 tsp. seafood seasoning
½ cup fresh bread crumbs

Mix together all the ingredients except the crab. Then gently fold in the crab meat. Shape into cakes and refrigerate for 30 min. Fry 12–15 min., until golden brown on each side.

Keep warm in a low oven. Serve with your favorite tartar sauce.

Tomorrow: Rack of Lamb!

Best Chocolate Recipes!

I like to include chocolate whenever possible in our breakfast menu. Today I thought I would give you two chocolate recipes that have been among my favorites for years. The first one is Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake. I cut the recipe out of the coupon section of the Sunday paper years ago. I had it in my recipe file for about five years before I finally got around to trying it. When I did, I was sorry I had wasted those five years! Not only is this cake moist and delicious, it will also keep for 2-3 days and it freezes well. A real winner.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 cup sour cream
powdered sugar

Topping:
½ cup chocolate chips
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 tblsp. cinnamon

Combine butter and sugar until barely mixed. Add eggs, one at a time. Add vanilla, flour, and baking powder alternately with sour cream. Mix 2 minutes with an electric mixer on medium speed. In a separate bowl, combine the topping ingredients.

Grease a 9×13 pan and spoon in half of the batter. Sprinkle with half the topping. Top with the rest of the batter and the rest of the topping.

Bake at 325° for 45–55 min. Serve warm, sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Today’s second chocolate recipe came from a newspaper article about Mrs. Field’s cookies. This is a copy of her recipe for Deadly Chocolate Muffins. If you are craving something really chocolately, this recipe is for you!

Deadly Chocolate Muffins
Makes about 16 regular-size muffins

2 cups (12 oz.) semisweet chocolate
1 stick butter
½ cup sour cream
1 cup flour
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
4 large eggs
½ cup brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
¼ cup chopped nuts (optional)
¼ cup white chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350°. Line muffin cups with paper liners and spray the top of the pan with nonstick spray.
2. Melt the 2 cups of semisweet chocolate with the butter in the top of a double boiler, stirring until smooth. (Or heat in the microwave, in a microwave safe bowl, for 1 minute). Remove from heat and stir in the sour cream. Cool.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Beat eggs and brown sugar with an electric mixer until light and pale, about 5 minutes. Beat in chocolate mixture and vanilla. Add flour mixture and 1 cup of the semisweet chocolate chips.
4. Mix together the remaining ¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and white chocolate chips.
4. Spoon batter into the prepared muffin cups until about ¾ full. Top evenly with the mixture of chocolate chips, ¼ cup nuts, ¼ cup white chocolate chips.

Bake 20–25 min., until centers are set.

I’ll be serving one or both of these treats for breakfast this weekend. There’s still time to make your reservations!  www.oliverinn.com

ArtsEveryWhere.com

Whether you are a resident or visitor to the South Bend area, you may not be aware of all the wonderful theatre, dance, music and art events there are to choose from. One of my favorite Web sites is ArtsEverywhere.com, the Greater South Bend region’s “ultimate guide to arts and culture.” Not only can you find something happening just about any day of the week, you can also find great deals by clicking on their eSavers link.

This weekend there are several things going on at the Morris Performing Arts Center, such as the South Bend Symphony performing “Broadway Rocks” on Saturday, Feburary 13, at 8:00. Experience the best of Broadway all in one evening! Join the South Bend Symphony and Capathia Jenkins, Julia Murney, and Gary Mauer, three of Broadway’s best singers for great moments from the hit musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Tommy, Rent, Lion King, Mamma Mia, Jekyll and Hyde, The Wiz, Hairspray, Chess, Jesus Christ Superstar, and Dreamgirls. The background vocals for this concert will be provided by the IU South Bend University Chorus directed by Dr. Marvin Curtis.

Many other events are taking place this week all the way through the weekend. Check it out and treat your special someone to a night on the town. Remember to check back here tomorrow, too. All this week we’ll be offering last-minute ideas and recipes for Valentine’s Day.