Creating recipes isn't a pastime—it's a passion. And a lot of fun.

The rules are few: Use 99% fresh ingredients (or thereabouts); make the dish simple but flavorful; make the dish flavorful but simple; be creative, not silly.

With this blog, I want to share new recipes, along with tips on ingredients and preparation, and, hopefully, show new cooks (and non-cooks) the pleasure in setting the table with a delicious homemade meal. The Briny Lemon is about fresh, simple, flavorful ingredients and easy cooking methods that help you bring the best to your family table. Your comments are welcome!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Apple-and-Chicken-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sweet apples, tender, savory squash, warm spices—must be autumn. Add lean ground chicken breast and buttery toasted breadcrumbs to complete this simple, easy, and flavorful dinner in a bowl—an edible bowl, that is. Mmmm.

Tip: As you know, acorn squash has an outer skin made up of dips and ridges. That can cause problems when you want it to rest flat on a baking pan or plate. After halving the squash and scooping out the seeds, turn it flesh-side down and cut off a very thin slice of the skin so that when you turn it back over, it will sit stable and flat on a surface. Done. (See photo below.) 

Serves 4

  • 1-1/2 tbsp unsalted butter, divided, plus more for buttering squash
  • 1/4 cup panko, or other fine, dry breadcrumbs
  • 2 medium acorn squash, halved though the stem end, seeds removed
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 gala apples, peeled, cored, and diced
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp ground clove
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 lb ground chicken breast
  • 1 large shallot, chopped
Squash Ingredients

Prepared Squash

Diced Apples
  1. Preheat the oven to 375° F.
  2. Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 1/2 tablespoon of butter. Stir in the panko and continue to stir until slightly toasted, 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and set aside.
Panko Beginning to Toast

Toasted Panko
  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Rub the cut sides of the squash with a little butter and place cut-side down on the baking sheet. Bake until browned on the edges and tender when pierced with a fork, 30-35 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Leave the oven on.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the same skillet over medium-low heat and add the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. When the butter has melted, add the apple and spices and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook until the diced apple has softened, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Transfer from the skillet to a bowl. Do not wipe out the skillet.
  4. Heat the skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the chicken and shallot and season with salt and pepper. Cook, breaking up the chicken, until the meat is just cooked through and the shallot has softened, 10 minutes.
  5. Return the apple mixture to the skillet and combine with the chicken mixture. Turn the squash cut-side up on the baking sheet. Divide the skillet mixture and fill the cavities of the squash. Sprinkle each stuffed squash with the toasted panko. Place in the oven and bake until browned on top and hot throughout, 4-5 minutes. 

Baked Squash

Apples and Spices

Cooked Apples

Chicken and Shallot
Plate 1 stuffed squash on each of 4 plates and serve right away.

Apple-and-Chicken-Stuffed Acorn Squash

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Pasta with Shrimp, Spinach, and Fried Egg

This simple any-night pasta dish is loaded with both nutrition and flavor. The highlights here are shrimp, spinach, and eggs—a little lemony sauce is all you need to brighten the flavor without making the dish overly saucy. Break that egg yolk on top and enjoy the extra creaminess it adds to finish the noodles just right.

Serves 4

  • 8 oz mini penne
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for frying eggs
  • 1 lb peeled, deveined large shrimp (22–24 count)
  • 1 medium shallot, finely chopped
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves (or regular spinach, coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp finely chopped lemon zest
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 large eggs

  1. Cook the penne in salted, boiling water until al dente, 6-7 minutes. Drain.
  2. Heat a large, deep skillet over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the shrimp and shallot and sauté 3 minutes.
  3. Add the spinach, chicken broth, and lemon zest and bring to a simmer, stirring until the spinach wilts, 2-3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the tomato paste, lemon juice, and butter and season with salt and pepper. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring, 2 minutes.

Shrimp Beginning to Cook

Spinach Mixture Added

Tomato Paste Mixture Added
  1. Meanwhile, heat a medium skillet and add oil to coat the bottom. Crack two eggs into the pan and fry until the eggs are set and beginning to crisp around the edges, turning once for over-easy. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining two eggs.
  2. Add the drained pasta to the shrimp mixture and stir to combine. 

Eggs Ready to Turn

Pasta Added
Divide among 4 shallow bowls and top each with a fried egg. Sprinkle the eggs with salt and pepper and serve right away.

Pasta with Shrimp, Spinach, and Fried Egg

Friday, October 27, 2017

Skillet-Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Barbecue Sauce

I usually oven roast pork tenderloin, but grilling it results in delicious smoky flavor that you just can’t get indoors. So how do you get great grilled flavor and the convenience of roasting at the same time? Take that skillet to the grill!

Cast-iron is a cook’s best friend. Here, it allows the meat to soak up all that smoky grilled goodness while also providing the convenience of simple pan cooking, just like in your oven. Keep the barbecue theme going with an easy sweet and spicy sauce, based on apricot preserves and with chile-garlic sauce adding a touch of heat.

Serves 4

  • 1-1/4-lb pork tenderloin, trimmed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup apricot preserves
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp chile-garlic sauce
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Trimmed Tenderloin
  1. Light a grill for medium-high heat.
  2. Place a large, cast-iron skillet on the grill and let heat 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, swirling (or brushing) to coat.
  3. Season the pork tenderloin with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Sear, turning until browned on all sides, 8-9 minutes total.
  4. Move the tenderloin to an off-heat side of the skillet and cover the grill. Continue cooking the tenderloin, turning a couple times, until just cooked through but still pink in the middle, 16-18 minutes, depending on size.

Heat the Skillet First

Pork Beginning to Cook

After Turning
Move Slightly Off Heat

  1. Meanwhile, heat a small saucepan over medium heat and add the butter. When the butter is foamy, add the garlic and sauté 1 minute. Add the apricot preserves and remaining ingredients and season with salt.
  2. Bring to a light simmer, then reduce the heat to low, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and let stand while the pork finishes.
  3. About 5 minutes before the tenderloin is done, brush with most of the sauce. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest 5 minutes. Brush with more sauce and pass the remaining sauce at the table.

Garlic in Butter

Sauce Beginning to Cook

Apricot Barbecue Sauce

Brushed with Sauce
Cut into 12 slices, and serve.

Skillet-Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Apricot Barbecue Sauce