This holiday season feels so chaotic to me. I don’t feel prepared for it at all, even as it is happening all around me it still doesn’t feel real yet. Even our annual Rowland family Christmas party didn’t really make it sink in that Christmas is 5 days away! What the heck? It was JUST Thanksgiving like a week ago. I was planning on sharing all these holiday things with you, but time has really just gotten away from me. Finally, though, I have a minute to share at least this one appetizer recipe with you.
For the family Christmas party I was put in charge of coordinating all the appetizers so I felt compelled to make sure the ones I contributed were good ones. This recipe is from my Aunt Lisa and is one of my favorites. It’s cool and spicy and bright and tangy, delicious and addicting. Seriously, if you want to stop eating it you either have to finish the whole thing or go to a completely different room. You could use canned or pre-packaged cranberry sauce for this and skip 1 below, but the fresh cranberries are prettier and taste much better. Jalapenos vary so much in spice level, sometimes I use 2 and sometimes just 1. This last time I only used 1/2 because they were so spicy so add a little at a time and taste test until you get to the spiciness level you like. I also really like the red onion, but feel free to cut back on it if it’s too much for you.
My husband and I moved into our current home in the middle of summer. It was a huge upgrade for us coming from a tiny apartment on the third floor to a house three times the size of the apartment with a backyard, a garage, and a GRILL! I never realized how much I would really miss having one until I got one. We grilled all summer. It was glorious. Some of my favorite things to grill are corn on the cob, fancy burgers, zucchini, and cedar plank salmon. I absolutely love cooking on the cedar plank. All summer I was using the McCormick Grillmates Smokehouse Maple seasoning as my go to grilling seasoning even if I wasn’t using the cedar planks. (Sorry for my inability to focus, but if you sprinkle that stuff on sweet potatoes and roast them then puree them into a soup it is supremely delicious). Then, in fall I made a discovery that would change my life forever. Ok, maybe I’m being dramatic. But maybe I’m not. Maple Bacon Salt is very possibly life changing, at least in my home. Anyways, I decided to make my own smokehouse maple dupe using the Maple Bacon Salt I had made. Eric said it was the best salmon he has ever tasted and there was only a little bit of wine involved. He calls the Maple Bacon Salt “cheater dust” because it makes everything that I put it on so good. (I also catch him sneaking little pinches of Maple Bacon Salt, so maybe that explains a little bit…)
If you chose not to make the Maple Bacon Salt you are truly missing out, but you could use the McCormick Smokehouse Maple instead of my seasoning blend. Just remember, you don’t realize how blind you are until you put on glasses….same goes with Maple Bacon Salt. You just don’t know what you’re missing. (And in case you are wondering- those corn cobs below basted with miso butter just before they were done. Another thing you should try)
Now that I have you hooked on cedar planked salmon and Maple Bacon Salt, let me let you in on another little secret. I pre-soak then freeze cedar planks so that I don’t have to plan in advance to make cedar planked whatever. Eric can tell me at 5pm that he would like cedar plank salmon for dinner and I can stop at the store on my way home and pick up salmon. Then pull the wood from the freezer to thaw while I prep veggies and heat the grill and we are ready to grill. All you do is soak like you usually would, put the plank in a zip lock freezer bag and stick it in the freezer. Life changed. Also, cedar planks can be expensive, so I buy them on Amazon- Cedar Grilling Planks – 12 Pack (affiliate link).
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 1 TBS pure maple syrup
- 1 tsp Maple Bacon Salt
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- fresh cracked pepper to taste
- 1.5 lb of salmon, skin on
- 1 12×5 cedar plank
- Prep cedar plank (or just whip one out of the freezer) by filling a shallow dish with water, put the plank in and put something heavy on top to keep it submerged. It should soak for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.
- Heat the grill to medium heat. While grill is heating, season the salmon by combining first 6 ingredients into a thin paste and rubbing on salmon.
- Put the plank on the grill (without salmon) for about 5 minutes with the lid closed.
- Then add the salmon skin side down. Close the lid and cook 15-20 minutes until the salmon is light pink and cooked to your taste. Try to open the lid as little as possible to keep the smoke in for best smokey flavor.