Old Fashioned Salmon Cakes - It's What to do with Leftover Salmon!!!!

My ex Mother-in-Law used to make these and I remember going over to her house the first time she made them and dreading sitting down to eat. I grew up hating fish for dinner, between the Fridays of Lent, fish sticks, and the dreaded whole cooked fish fresh caught by my dad on Lake Michigan that day (believe me, as a kid a whole cooked fish sitting on the table is not a welcome sight.) I've never been a fan of fish for dinner no matter HOW good it is for you. But as I've aged and started learning about the benefits of Omega 3s, I've been trying to cook more fish. Especially salmon, since that's the most satisfying to me and loaded with Omega 3s.

BUT, if I don't buy the tiny amount fresh at the farmer's market (expensive for such a small amount), I buy the packaged wild caught Alaska salmon at Trader Joe's which is two HUGE fillets. Even though I would be MORE than happy to eat a whole gigantic fillet without a problem, I'm trying to watch portions, so end up with leftovers. Especially if my equally non-fish-loving husband decides to make a frozen pizza instead. Unless I put it in a salad for lunch the next day, it's not very appealing to eat leftover salmon, so remembering the old days at my ex mother-in-law's and I looked up a salmon cake recipe. I'm HOOKED!

Even if your family LOVES broiled/grilled salmon for dinner, consider cooking extra to make these either the next day or freeze the cooked salmon and make the cakes another time. I've made the recipe a little more paleo-friendly (paleo mayo and gluten free panko). It's not 100%, but it's pretty close for those of you who are not 100% paleo like me. These are really tasty when you're hankering for something lightly fried and salty for dinner and really great heated up with salad and 1/2 sweet potato the next day for lunch.

Yumskells!!!! Enjoy!

The Sunday Cook-A-Thon!

Most of the time it's Sunday, but sometimes it's Monday (currently the second day of my weekend as I wind down my photo business). I LOVE my Cook-A-Thon! I know for some of my friends cooking is far from stress-relieving, but it's an incredible stress-reliever for me and my every-other-week cook-a-thon produces such a wide variety of healthy foods to keep on hand all week (or freeze) that I don't have to think much about cooking for the rest of the week!

I read recently that in order to reduce stress, taking the most mundane decision-making out of your routine helps. That's why Steve Jobs always wore a black turtleneck. I just thought it was because he looked really good in a black turtleneck. Who knew?! I feel the same about my cook-a-thon. I've developed a no-brainer routine so that I can actually de-stress and relax while I produce an incredibly healthy bunch of food for the week. I often even make the same recipes from the stock and chicken over and over too. Easy!

I open a nice bottle of red wine, ask Brennan to put on a good music mix and off I go!

Having some fresh flowers and a clean kitchen is a really good start! Some may notice there's already a lot missing from that bottle of red! I started the bottle the night before!

Having some fresh flowers and a clean kitchen is a really good start! Some may notice there's already a lot missing from that bottle of red! I started the bottle the night before!

The star of the show (and most time consuming recipe) is roasted chicken and stock. I use Chris Kresser's recipe which I love because it calls for roasting the chicken so that you can actually EAT the chicken! I used to boil a whole chicken in water. I got good results for the broth, but I really like the roasted chicken stock more AND I get to eat the yummy roasted chicken! I will link to a more detailed description of making the stock, but definitely start the cook-a-thon by stuffing the chicken and getting it into the oven!

Once the chicken is in the oven, I start on a couple of other things. The night I photographed this I also made meat cakes and roasted brussel sprouts. Roast the brussel sprouts first and then you can munch on them while preparing the meat cakes! I have the world's smallest oven with only one rack so I have to get tricky with cooking two things at once!

Yes. That's the roasting brussel sprouts resting on the corner of the roasting chicken pan. You've got to do what you've got to do when you have limited resources!

Don't forget to also drink plenty of water while you're cooking! I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE my Soda Stream! Good friends gave this to me as a gift and Brennan and I drink so much more water now that we have it! Put in a little lemon and it's soooo good!

Soda Stream is a kitchen essential!

Soda Stream is a kitchen essential!

While the brussel sprouts are in the oven get started on your meat cakes! Also, while you had those carrots and celery out before for the chicken, don't forget to cut a bunch more up for the week for snacking and salads. While you're at it get a cucumber and some green onions out too and cut those up! All these cut up veggies are also yummy to snack on and might help you keep your hands off the cheese and crackers you've served to your partner as a snack! Of course if you're making the meat cakes, treat yourself to a few kalamata olives with your red wine. Oh and if you have some gluten free crackers, snack on some of these too with that hard cheddar cheese (low lactose in aged cheeses!)! Remember this is your lovely time to relax and de-stress!

When the chicken is out of the oven and cooling, throw the meat cakes in. Put the chicken on a carving board and deglaze the pan with the water, cut a couple of pieces of chicken off the bone, add some au jus, throw a salad together with those lovely mixed greens you got from the farmer's market and all those wonderful veggies you just cut up, throw some of those brussel sprouts on the plate, pour a little more wine and voila! While your chicken is cooling for de-boning, eat a little dinner!

OK, admittedly, after we're done eating, I'm a little pooped, but while Brennan (he calls himself FEMA and me "hurricane Julie") cleans up the kitchen, I "pick the chicken" and always think of Jeanette Walls, author of "The Glass Castle" and marvel at how a half starving child could "pick a chicken" for her friend's mother without snitching some bits! Seriously, I've just eaten an entire meal of roasted chicken and can't help snitching!

Time to start the stock (still using Chris Kresser's recipe). In a large stock pot, I throw the de-glazed pan juices, all the bones (cracked if I can), all the stuffing that was in the chicken and if I was lucky enough to have the giblets included in the chicken, I would have roasted those too and throw them in as well. Put the stock on flame, and friends and family you can stop reading here - then put on nothing but your apron and while the stock cooks, "relax" a bit with your "FEMA"! Remember this is some SERIOUS relaxing! We have a kid-free house so it makes it a little easier to be spontaneous! 

Since then I'm REALLY pooped, all I do when the stock is done is discard the solids, transfer to a smaller pan and put covered in the fridge so I can skim the congealed fat in the morning. 

Seriously. I am NOT a cook. I always follow recipes (although I've been making Chris' chicken and stock for so long now that I don't need to follow a recipe anymore), I have a TERRIBLE, small and quirky kitchen and well, Brennan calls me "hurricane Julie". I'm out of control. But really, if you get used to it, enjoy all the added perks like the wine, music and your partner, you can do it (no pun intended!) and enjoy it too!

The rest of the week, I've got roasted chicken, stock, meat cakes, roasted brussel sprouts and salad fixin's all ready to go! Here are a few things I make with the stock and leftover chicken:

  • All kinds of soups with the stock (chicken and gluten free noodle, veggie soups (think curry cauliflower, broccoli and borscht (I use Chris' recipe)
  • I keep some stock in mason jars in the fridge for a nice warming snack or breakfast to go (yes, just drink it out of the jar) 
  • As for the chicken! So many options and here are just a few:
    • Of course you've got lovely roasted chicken for your lunch salads
    • make curry chicken or regular chicken salad and have as snacks, with salad for lunch or toast some gluten free bread (or regular if you're not allergic) and have a yummy chicken salad sandwich
    • I treat Brennan and I to chicken enchiladas once every couple of weeks. I buy all organic, whole grain ingredients and yes, even organic tortilla chips and use a sprinkling of cheese and it's SUCH a treat! I'm mostly gluten free, but not Paleo so I do enjoy corn foods once every couple of weeks! 
    • There are all sorts of other recipes that call for cooked chicken so just find your faves and go for it!

and that my friends is The Healing Farm recommended Cook-A-Thon! Whew! Now get started and have fun!

I Call Them "Meat Cakes"

Finished product!

Finished product!

My husband Brennan calls them "meat cupcakes". I found this recipe recently in Shape Magazine. Christmas Abbott is the author of "The Badass Body Diet" and although I wasn't familiar with her (she's a Crossfit celebrity and although I think Crossfit is a great workout, it wasn't for me!) I may look into her cookbook given how much I LOVE this recipe!

These things are great. They are:

  • a great snack
  • a quickie breakfast on-the-run (eat them cold!)
  • a good addition to a lunch salad (seen above although I usually cut them up into bite-sized pieces and toss them into the salad)
  • nice addition to a morning egg scramble
  • if you need a quickie dinner, heat them up and serve them with salad, veggie and mashed potato and it's like a meatloaf dinner!

What I love is that they are low-fat (ground turkey!), you can do any kind of variation with added seasoning, you can add any kind of veggie, they are super easy to make and REALLY they are so convenient!

Here's the recipe (remember that I usually stick to grass/veggie-fed and organic ingredients):

  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • couple of handfuls of chopped broccoli
  • 1/4-1/2 diced yellow onion (I bet green onion would be good too!)
  • chopped pitted kalamata olives (this is so key - they add a yummy salty taste)
  • any combo of seasoning - I added fleur de sel - I bet herbs de provence would be a good addition

Mix everything together and divide into a cupcake tin - the first time I greased the tin, but realized I didn't have to do that. Bake in a 350 degree oven and viola! Yummy!


The Prep

The Prep

Store or freeze in an airtight glass container

Store or freeze in an airtight glass container

Why My Smoothie Isn't Pretty

I decided I should include a picture of my not-so-good-looking morning smoothie (recipe in last post). Funny, because the picture actually makes it look pretty good! I guess being a professional photographer helps things a bit! BUT, truthfully sometimes it comes out more green (which is pretty) and sometimes it comes out brown. I suppose it just depends on the inconsistent amounts of the ingredients I put in day to day. My good friend likes her smoothies to be pretty so she puts in lighter colored fruit so they come out bright green. She’s got a design background so pretty is important and I guess that’s true for lots of people based on this recent article about kids school lunches:

LA Times story on making kid’s school lunches more esthetically pleasing helps increase their fruit and veggie consumption!

But the reason I don’t care about what my smoothie looks like is because it’s more important to me that I get the most nutrition out of my smoothie every day. If I make this the habit that means I get a dose of omega 3, pro-biotic, antioxidants and a whole variety of vitamins and minerals every day without having to think about it (see my recipe post for detail on the nutrition). So pretty smoothie be damned, and ugly smoothie wins the day for me! Plus some “light” fruit has a lot of sugar and some even has high mold counts (go here for a list of foods that have high mold counts) so for someone who is trying to reduce inflammation for chronic conditions, this is also important. Some of those lucky people can have pretty smoothies and gluten-full food and be just fine! Lucky ducks (that’s my hubby too!)! Sigh. That’s not me.

Morning Smoothie That Packs a Nutritional Punch

I was having dinner with friends the other night and while having a conversation about why I don’t eat cereal (because it’s mostly gluten-full, loaded with sugar and pretty addictive), they asked me what I have for breakfast and lunch and I described my morning smoothie. Then they asked me why I soak my walnuts and because I almost never remember why I do the things I do (I read a good reason why, incorporate into my eating habits and then promptly forget the reason) I thought I would look it up again. Then I realized I should post my recipe and the reasons I use the same ingredients every day.

Remember I’m all about ease and building good habits into your EVERY DAY routine. This is why I don’t change up my recipe. I figured out a combination that PACKS nutrients I need every day (things that don’t necessarily get into my diet through what I eat), it tastes pretty good and it’s filling. Once I saved up money to buy my Vitamix Blender (an essential tool which took me TWO YEARS to save up for – I asked every birthday and Christmas for gift certificates to Williams Sonoma!) I was able to build this easily into my routine:

THF Power-Packed Smoothie Recipe (serves two)

Note: Ingredients are all organic if possible

1/2 – 1 c               Kefir

1/2 – 1 c               Coconut Milk

1/2 – 1 c               Frozen blueberries

1/2c                   Frozen or fresh other berries

2 sm or 1 lg         Banana

1/2 c                    Raw walnuts soaked in warm water for a few hours

4-6 c                    Spinach (a little sweeter than others) and other greens

thumb-sized        Raw ginger

Other                    I sometimes throw in other fresh fruit that needs to be used!

Now WHY do I put these particular ingredients in my smoothie???

Kefir: 99% lactose free, provides A&D and live cultures that will help your gut flora. See Chris Kresser’s super popular post on Kefir:

Chris Kresser on Kefir

Coconut milk: I get mine from Trader Joe’s for convenience and they call it coconut beverage (not 100% ideal but it’s convenient. It’s also organic even though it doesn’t say so on the front of the carton). This provides (I think it’s fortified) calcium, A, D and B-12

Blueberries: For your brain! In a nutshell (from Dr. Axe site):

  • Anti-aging – Antioxidants are your best friend to keep Father Time at bay.
  • Brain – Because they contain such a high amount of phenols, particularly gallic acid, blueberries are known as “neuro-protective agents.”

I love this super passionate post on Jen's Reviews about all of the health benefits of blueberries!

Other Berries: ANTIOXIDANTS!

Banana: Potassium

Raw walnuts (soaked): Omega 3 fatty acids (great way to get your omega 3s in every day!). Also antioxidant and anti-inflammatory (so important for reducing chronic inflammation!). Easiest to keep a container for soaking on your counter next to the jar of walnuts. When you rinse the soaked walnuts to throw in the smoothie, then simply refill the container with more walnuts and warm water, cover and let soak until the next morning when you’re ready to put them in your smoothie – repeat!

Read more:

World’s Healthiest Foods Site

Why soak them? Taken from the “Food Matters” Site:

“We are mimicking nature when we soak our nuts, grains and seeds. Nutritional inhibitors and toxic substances found in nuts grains and seed can be minimized or eliminated by soaking. These inhibitors and toxic substances are enzyme inhibitors, phytates (phytic acid), polyphenols (tannins), and goitrogens.”

Also see The Blender Girl's Description.

Greens: Great way to get your leafy greens in every day! I think we all know about health benefits of leafy greens, but here are just a few: antioxidants, calcium, vitamins A, K, C, folate, potassium, fiber. Read more here:


Ginger: Oh my. Ginger is like the wonder ingredient for healing! I use it for anti-inflammatory benefits. Also great for digestion and immunity. To make it easy to use, I rinse and cut up the raw ginger into the thumb sized pieces when I cut up the rest of my veggies for the week and if you use a Vitamix there’s no need to peel, put the cut pieces into a baggie you keep in the freezer with or near your frozen berries and grab a piece to throw in every day.  Read more nutritional benefits here:

World’s Healthiest Foods