Looks as Lovely as It Tastes! Saint Martinique Salmon and Shallot-Cranberry Green Beans

Looks as Lovely as It Tastes! Saint Martinique Salmon and Shallot-Cranberry Green Beans

I was so psyched to make maple-dijon salmon fillets for dinner this week. We had some frozen salmon in the freezer, and maple + dijon always equals so, so good. But then, when I started to make dinner and put together the sauce, I realized that our maple syrup had gone bad! Cue, saddest face.

Bill was on fillet duty since he is the fish boss in our house, so we scrambled together to improvise something to replace the icky syrup. Enter: MOLASSES!

I will admit, I was skeptical at first – won’t that be too sweet? It would overpower the fish? Right? WRONG!

Turns out, molasses is a truly delicious salmon glaze. The heartier taste of the fish stood up to the smoky sweetness of the molasses, and it was helped along by the herbaceousness of all the other delicious ingredients. We definitely needed to brighten up and serve as a base for this savory and sweet salmon.


The next addition to our party: green beans! Shallots, cranberries, and red wine vinegar made a delicious, complex base of flavor, with some saltiness added by a last-minute addition of parmesan cheese.

All together, this was a truly delicious dinner and it photographed up so pretty too 😉 I asked Bill what we should call it, since molasses salmon doesn’t sound tasty. He decided that, based on the French flavors in the recipe and the Caribbean influence of the molasses, plus the salmon (of the sea) – a French island colony would lend the perfect name. Enjoy!


Saint Martinique Salmon

  • 4 skin-on salmon fillets, 4 ounces each, boned
  • 4 Tbsp molasses
  • 1½ tsp freeze-dried shallots
  • 4 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 Tbsp dried parsley
  1. Preheat the broiler. Line a baking sheet with foil and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  2. Place the salmon fillets on the prepared baking sheet.
  3. In a small bowl, combine all the non-salmon ingredients until you have a thick paste. Add more spices and/or molasses to taste.
  4. Generously baste the salmon fillets with the molasses mixture. Use up all that molasses-y goodness!
  5. Place the baking sheet under the broiler and cook until the salmon is just cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove skin, and plate!

Based on a recipe from the Cookin’ Canuck

Shallot-Cranberry Green Beans

  • 12 ounces fresh green beans
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 2 tsp freeze-dried shallots
  • ½ tsp granulated roasted garlic
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  1. Steam your green beans – personally, I like the steam-in-the-bag ones I grab from HEB.
  2. Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, then add olive oil, salt, and green beans.
  3. Saute green beans for 1 minute, then add the shallots and roasted garlic.
  4. Saute green beans for 1 minute more, then drizzle with the red wine vinegar and add the dried cranberries.
  5. Continue stirring the green beans for 2-3 minutes more, or until they reach your desired crisp-ness.
  6. Top with the parmesan cheese, stir until cheese begins to melt, then serve!

Based on a recipe from Food Loves Writing


Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

I do not claim to be the wisest woman in all the land, with lo my 2 1/2 years of marriage, but let me impart some wisdom on to you, oh Internet. Wisdom which, hopefully, will lead you to a delicious and happy life.

Wisdom number 1: If your husband is from the Northern lands, trust him with fish. Even if you just wanted salmon to make sliders this week, and your eyes goggle out when he returns with a $24 package of just 1 3/4 pounds of fish. Trust him in this – he has magical knowledge which leads him to the delicious-est fishes.

Sub-wisdom number 1: If your husband knows how to divide and grill fish, make him do it. If you’re like me, you’ll wind up with some funky-sized and -shaped pieces which cook funny otherwise.

Wisdom number 2: If your husband declares dinner the best thing you’ve ever made, make it again. We had this recipe for dinner on Sunday, thinking just to use up some of the ‘extra’ Atlantic fresh-caught salmon Bill chose before I made sliders for dinner on Monday. Behold, we had this exact recipe 3 nights in a row. It is delicious.

Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

So, yeah. Bill and I made the best, most delicious salmon of all time. And it is the SIMPLEST marinade. I do not know what sort of hoodoo voodoo is contained within the Williams-Sonoma Newlywed Cookbook that my aunt gave us  when we got married, but I trust in it. And you should too.

Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

Succulent, flavorful, simple salmon, topped with a tasty herbed compound butter, served alongside oven potatoes with a salty Parmesan zip and spinach sauteed with shallots. I mean, are you drooling?

Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

I mean, the butter just melts into all the little crevices of the perfectly cooked salmon, turning in into this creamy luscious main dish, with the fresh green pop of spinach and the crispy crunch of the potatoes. The balsamic and parmesan used throughout the dish make it a truly cohesive dish that’s not too heavy, but is perfectly filling.

This recipe may seem a little complex, but I have timed just right after making it so many nights in a row!

Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach

  • 6 fresh salmon fillets, skin on (Bill recommends North Atlantic)
  • 1 stick salted butter, softened
  • ¼ + ½ cup Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons herbes de Provence
  • 2 large garlic cloves, diced
  • 2/3 cup + 1/3 cup olive oil, divided
  • 1 Tablespoon dried thyme
  • 2 Tablespoons sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 pound small gold potatoes, cut into thin rounds
  • 1 teaspoon fresh or freeze-dried shallots
  • 4 cups fresh spinach
  1. Preheat the oven to 425° F.
  2. First, make your delicious compound butter.
    • Place butter, ¼ cup Parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar, and the herbes de Provence in a food processor.
    • Pulse butter mixture in food processor until well-combined, add pepper to taste.
    • Scoop out butter mixture into a plastic ziptop bag and squish into a cylinder. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  3. Next, create the marinade
    • Combine 2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar with diced garlic, 2/3 cup olive oil and thyme in a wide, shallow dish.
    • Add salmon fillets to marinade dish and turn to coat well.
    • Cover dish and place in refrigerator for 20-30 minutes.
  4. Now, get the potatoes going.
    • Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil, and add potato rounds.
    • Add 1/3 cup olive oil, sea salt and pepper to potatoes on cookie sheet. Lift up edges of aluminum foil and shake to combine all ingredients.
    • Place cookie sheet in oven and bake for 20 minutes.
  5. When the oven timer goes off at 20 minutes:
    • Top potatoes with ½ cup Parmesan cheese, and return to oven for 5 minutes.
    • Heat a grill pan over medium heat.
    • Saute the spinach!
  6. Spinach time!
    • Melt a pat of the compound butter over medium heat in a medium pan. When butter is melted, add shallots and spinach.
    • Stir constantly until spinach is wilted, then cover the pan and remove heat.
  7. Turn the oven off, but keep the potatoes in to continue crisping up that yummy cheese.
  8. Let’s cook the salmon!
    • When grill pan is heated, add salmon fillets and a nice glug of marinade to the pan. (The oil from the marinade will keep the fish from sticking).
    • Cook the salmon for about 3 minutes on each side, or until crisp on the outside and opaque all the way through.
  9. Remove potatoes from oven.
  10. Serve salmon fillets with potatoes and spinach, topping the salmon with another slice of the compound butter.
  11. Enjoy! (make sure you remove the salmon skin before eating)

Based on a recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Newlywed Cookbook, plus potatoes and spinach from my brain 😉

Balsamic Salmon with Parmesan Potatoes and Sauteed Spinach


Melty and Poppy: Creamy Caprese Pasta

Melty and Poppy: Creamy Caprese Pasta

Maybe I had mentally dozed off during our weekly marketing meeting or my mind had wandered off to someplace more interesting than the small talk after we wrapped up the webinar, but my brain suddenly snapped back into focus as soon as I heard it… “caprice salad”. What? I had to ask my boss to repeat himself and explain what he was talking about. “You know, the salad with the tomatoes and mozzarella; a caprice salad.”

Before he’d even finished, I was doubled over in laughter. “Like a Chevy Caprice? I think you mean a Caprese  (ka-pray-zey) salad… and you call yourselves Italian.”

Of course, this is the same man that swears gnocchi is pronounced yonky, so I don’t know what I was expecting.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Ever since that meeting, I can’t help but laugh to myself when I see a menu or recipe with Caprese in it 🙂 This pasta dish’s deliciousness is no laughing matter though! Call it Caprice, Caprese and Catie for all I care, this is a one tasty baked pasta.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Simple spaghetti noodles are coated with a sauce spiked with cream and cheese, tossed with mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes, topped with more of the same and baked until bubbly and delicious. The baked tomatoes are warm, oven-roasted pops of flavors while the melty, gooey cheese melds perfectly with the simple and creamy sauce. Unlike many pasta casseroles that may weigh you down with that carby feeling, this dish stays light and filling at the same time.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Creamy Caprese Pasta

  • 1 pound spaghetti or other thin pasta
  • 1 cup tomato sauce
  • ⅓ cup heavy cream
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish
  • 4 ounces mozzarella balls
  • 1 pint of grape tomatoes
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Prepare pasta al dente according to directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large saucepan. Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan.
  3. Drain pasta and combine with sauce until well-coated. Add about ¾ of the mozzarella balls and grape tomatoes, stir to combine and pour into a baking dish.
  4. Top the pasta with the remaining tomatoes and mozzarella, adding additional parmesan cheese as a finishing touch.
  5. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Enjoy this as a side or a main course; add protein for a heartier dish.

Creamy Caprese Pasta from Mancktastic!

Based on a recipe from How Sweet It Is

Decadent and Delicious: Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

Decadent and Delicious: Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

First things first, this is my 60th recipe on Mancktastic! It’s hard to believe I’ve shared that many recipes here on the bloggy, but it’s awesome too. I hope that you and your families enjoyed these recipes; I love sharing them with you!

And now, on to the milestone recipe! This dish holds a special place in my family’s house because it brought my mother and my sisters together.

When my parents got married, Mom suddenly gained 3 half-grown daughters ranging in age from 15-8, my half-sisters. Of course, they were a little suspicious of this new, young woman in my dad’s life, so Mom had to work a little to integrated herself into the family. I didn’t join the world until six years after all of this happened, but I grew up hearing stories about the trials and tribulations of their new, blended family. I’ll never really understand or appreciate the relationship my mother and my half-sisters have because, to me, my mommy has always been there and part of our family, but Mom had to work hard to be a Manck, apparently. She came from a more worldly and learned background, full of things the girls found weird and different.

I never really understood this struggle and relationship until I stayed with my oldest sister, Jennifer, the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college.

To earn my keep living with Jen and her family during an internship, I watched my awesome twin nephews and cooked dinner several nights a week. This was when I really learned the basic skills of cooking like browning ground beef and meal planning. One weekend, while plotting the week’s meals, I asked Jen what she’d like for dinner. She asked if I knew how to make stuffed shells. “Well, I’ve never made them before, but I could try”, I responded. “Do you really like them?” She told me she loved them, and they always reminded her of my mother.

Apparently, the girls had never had the dish until my mom made it for them for dinner one night. The wariness they’d had to her evaporated for just that one night as they enjoyed the saucy, cheesy shells as a family.

The shells didn’t magically make their relationship easy, but it showed my sisters that Mom was new but she (and the things she brought) didn’t have to be scary just because they were unfamiliar. Of course, I made Stuffed Shells for the family that week, and that story has stuck with me ever since. Now stuffed shells speak to me about family, new experiences, and love.

This version of Stuffed Shells feels particularly decadent because of the inclusion of cream cheese and Italian sausage in the shell filling. The cream cheese adds a smooth richness to the cheeses, while the delicious Italian sausage elevates this dish beyond your typical pasta dish. I was glad to share these with Bill last night and think about how big, and small, my family is now : )

Italian Sausage Stuffed Shells

  • 8 ounces jumbo pasta shells
  • 1 pound Italian sausage
  • 1 cup fresh chopped spinach
  • 1 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces low-fat ricotta cheese
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, softened
  • ²/3 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ Tablespoon dried parsley flakes
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 26 ounces spaghetti sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Cook shells according to package directions, drain and set aside.
  3. Cook Italian sausage, drain and set aside.
  4. In a large bowl, combine Italian sausage, spinach, garlic, ricotta, cream cheese, Parmesan, egg, seasonings and ½ cup mozzarella cheese. Spoon mixture into a large ziptop bag and snip off one corner.
  5. Spread half of spaghetti sauce into a 13″ x 9″ baking dish. Arrange shells over sauce, fill with the cheese and sausage mixture, then top with remaining sauce.
  6. Cover baking dish tightly with heavy-duty aluminum foil and bake for 40 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with remaining ½ cup mozzarella and bake for 5-10 minutes.


Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Based on a recipe from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Parmesan Oven Potatoes

Parmesan Oven Potatoes

There’s something about potatoes that gets me every. single. time. I’m like Samwise Gamgee; I’ll take them any way, boiled, mashed, in a stew, or (in this recipe) oven-roasted! Thin sliced potatoes tossed with spices and topped with parmesan cheese to create a half-chip, half-home fry hybrid that I would welcome at any meal. I made a batch to accompany some delicious paninis that are coming later this week, but they would be a great side dish for any meal.

Parmesan Oven Potatoes

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 2 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Cut potatoes in half, then into thin slices so they look like half moons.
  2. Place the cut potatoes in a bowl and season with olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Mix until well coated with the seasoning.
  3. Place the potatoes on a single layer on a baking sheet and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake for 30 minutes.


These potatoes are one addictive side dish! Enjoy them with sandwiches, dinner entrees, or even with your morning eggs. Customize the seasonings to your own tastes for a one-of-a-kind delicious treat.

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Based on recipe from 1 Cup Awesome

Chicken Rollatini

Chicken Rollatini

It’s back to Italian here on Mancktastic for a delicious dinner with familiar flavors and a fun form! This recipe mixes together the ideas behind many Italian stand-bys into a new and tasty dish. Thin chicken cutlets are filled with a delicious cheese filling, then rolled up and breaded, and finally baked, topped with more cheese and pasta sauce. The breaded chicken is reminiscent of Chicken Parmesan, while the filling is very lasagna-esque, which makes for a great combination.

Chicken Rollatini

  • 4 thin chicken cutlets
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 egg, beaten, divided
  • 6 Tablespoons ricotta cheese
  • 6 ounces mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup favorite pasta sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Preheat oven to 450° F.
  2. Combine breadcrumbs and 2 Tablespoons parmesan in one bowl and place ½ egg in another.
  3. Combine 3 ounces mozzarella cheese, remaining parmesan cheese, ricotta cheese, and remaining egg.
  4. Lay chicken cutlets down on a working surface and ¼ of the cheese mixture on each cutlet. Loosely roll each one and keep seam side down.
  5. Dip rolls in egg mixture, then in breadcrumbs and place seam side down in a baking dish. Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven, top with sauce and remaining mozzarella.
  6. Return dish to the oven and bake until cheese is melted and bubbling, about 3 more minutes.


Combining the flavors of lasagna and chicken parmesan, this is a tasty Italian treat that’s a nice twist on the classics. You can slim down the recipe by using low-fat cheeses, or add a little greenery to your meal by adding 5 ounces cooked/frozen spinach to the filling.
Based on a recipe from Skinny Taste

Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!

Decadent Ricotta Pasta Bake

Decadent Ricotta Pasta Bake

When this past Friday came around, Bill and I were both totally worn out.  It had been a long week of lacrosse and work, so neither of us were looking forward to going out for dinner or slaving over a complicated recipe. We even forewent our regular Friday night grocery trip in favor of lounging about at home. I spent a little while staring, blank-headed, at the pantry and refrigerator before inspiration struck: Pasta Bake! I had ricotta leftover from an Italian dish last weekend, pasta sauce in the pantry, and all of the leftover cheeses from the Gnocchi Mac and Cheese that would combine to make a simple but decadent dish to celebrate our first free weekend in almost a month.

When the casserole dish popped out of the oven piping-hot, I thought we had a winner, but the speed at which we hoovered down this dish confirmed it! The fancy cheeses were an awesome touch for this simple bake and we couldn’t stop going back for more of the crispy, melty crust or the delicious creamy sauce.

Decadent Ricotta Pasta Bake

  • 1 pound small pasta
  • ½ jar pasta sauce
  • 6 ounces ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup grated Gruyere cheese
  • ½ cup grated Fontina cheese
  1. Preheat oven to 375° F. Spray a casserole dish with non-stick spray and set aside.
  2. Prepare the pasta according to package directions and set aside.
  3. Combine pasta sauce and ricotta cheese, then add sauce, ¼ cup each of the Gruyere and Fontina cheeses and pasta to the casserole dish, stirring to combine and coat the pasta well.
  4. Top the pasta with the remaning Gruyere and Fontina cheeses, then the grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Place casserole dish and bake for 25 minutes, or until cheeses are bubbly and melty. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

This recipe is a snap to throw together on a busy weeknight when you still feel like a treat. The melty cheeses are absolutely decadent with the simple, creamy sauce. I recommend spiral or shell pasta for this particular dish so you have a lot of surface area for sauce application and cheese melting.


Click here to download a PDF of this recipe!