One Idea & Two Recipes: Blackened Salmon and Ranch Chicken Soft Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!  This recipe repost is the 5th of May appropriate, double delicious, and a reader favorite. Blackened Salmon and Ranch Chicken Soft Tacos are a Cinco de Mayo 2-for-1 ~ a culinary happy hour special.

Last week I was thumbing through an issue of Woman’s Day when the above photo caught my eye.  My first thought was “These look good!”  My second thought was, “Hey, I think I have all the ingredients to make these except the salmon, romaine lettuce, and cilantro.”  It was time play the culinary home version of  I Spy in the Places In The Home test kitchen.  I spy a package of ranch dressing mix, chicken breasts, fresh spinach, fresh limes, sour cream and flour tortillas.  Oh yeah, Ranch Chicken Soft Tacos is on the menu.  Where there’s a meal, there’s a way!

Blackened Salmon Soft Tacos


1  1 ¼ pound(s) piece skinless salmon fillet, cut into 4 pieces

2 tablespoon(s) blackening spice mix or Cajun seasoning (no salt added)

½ small head romaine lettuce, thinly sliced (about 4 cups)

½ cup fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

Kosher salt and pepper

8 small flour tortillas, warmed

Low fat sour cream, for serving


Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Coat both sides of the salmon with the seasoning mix and cook, covered, until opaque throughout and blackened, 3 to 4 minutes per side.

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the lettuce, cilantro, oil, lime juice, and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper.

Flake the salmon into pieces. If desired, spread sour cream on the tortillas, then fill with the salmon and top with the lettuce mixture.

Ranch Chicken Soft Tacos


1 tablespoon(s) olive oil

4 boneless,skinless chicken breast

1 medium onion; chopped

1 14 oz. can chicken broth

1 pkg. ranch dressing mix

½ small container fresh washed spinach

½ tsp. black pepper

¼ tsp. minced garlic

8 small flour tortillas

1  fresh lime, sliced

sour cream, for serving


Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Peel and chop onion, add to oil, and cook until translucent.

Place chicken breast in skillet with onions. Saute over medium high heat until chicken is lightly browned on both sides.  The onions will now be reaching the caramelized stage.

Add ranch dressing mix, pepper and garlic, coating chicken breasts. Slowly pour chicken broth into skillet, stirring to deglaze onions and seasonings from bottom of skillet. Mixture will thicken as it cooks.

Cover and simmer on medium low for approximately 30 minutes or until chicken is tender.  Cut cooked chicken breast crosswise into thin slices. Warm flour tortillas by desired method.  I warm each tortilla individually in the microwave for 15 seconds.  Fill centers with chicken and spinach and fold sides of tortillas over center.  Top with sour cream.  Squeeze fresh lime over taco and add additional black pepper if desired.








Chicken Mushroom Pasta

Good, tasty, and make a dish easy ingredients come in cans, jars, and boxes.  As I stared at the package of frozen chicken breasts and pondered what spice or spin to put on them, a double combination of three word options came to mind- cream of mushroom and bow-tie pasta.  With a few additional ingredients from the kitchen cupboard this quick and easy recipe for Chicken Mushroom Pasta was prepared, served, and enjoyed.

chicken mushroom pasta

Chicken Mushroom Pasta

ingredients for pasta


1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 Tablespoon butter

3 large skinless, boneless chicken breast

1 can  cream of mushroom soup

1 6 ounce jar sliced mushrooms, drained

1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

1 teaspoon fine black pepper

3/4 cup milk

8 ounces (1 cup) Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta,  cooked and drained



boneless chicken breasts

Heat the olive oil and butter in skillet over medium-high heat.


Place the chicken breasts in the skillet and season with salt and  pepper. Cook chicken breasts until completely done.

seasoned chicken breasts

Remove chicken breasts from skillet and place on cutting board. Cut into cubes and return to skillet.

cooked cubed chicken

Add the cream of mushroom soup, milk, and drained mushrooms to the chicken in skillet. Stir all ingredients together well to incorporate.

cooking pasta

Over medium heat bring the mixture to a light boil, reduce the heat to low, and allow to cook for 5 minutes. Prepare pasta according to package directions and drain.  Toss the cooked pasta together with chicken and mushroom mixture.

chicken and mushrooms

Serve hot.

creamy chicken mushroom pasta


Sunday Afternoon Pot Roast

A St. Patrick’s Day Sunday afternoon is as good a time as any to debut one of my Christmas 2012 presents.  The cobalt blue Tramontina 5.5-quart cast iron Dutch Oven was specifically asked for with preparing a Sunday Afternoon Pot Roast in mind.


blue dutch oven

On most levels there is nothing extra special or difficult about a recipe for cooking beef pot roast.  Beef roast, carrots, potatoes- just your average ho-hum home cooking, right?  Wrong!

dutch oven

Seasonings, fresh herbs, onions, garlic, vegetables, and an opportunity to show off  a new cobalt blue dutch oven debunk that culinary myth. Chopped onions and minced garlic sauteed in both Canola oil and butter create a prime seasoning foundation for the bay leaf and fresh parsley to give their unique flavor to.


Sunday Afternoon Pot Roast


1 Tablespoon  pure Canola oil

1 Tablespoon butter

3 lb. beef chuck pot roast

1 Tablespoon minced garlic

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 bay leaf

1½ cups water

1  teaspoon coarse Kosher salt

1 tsp. fine black pepper

6-8 small potatoes, halved

1 lb. baby carrots, cut and peeled


Heat pure Canola oil and butter in Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onion and garlic in Dutch oven until tender.

onions and garlic

Add beef roast; season with salt and pepper and brown on all sides.

seasoned beef roast

Add the parsley, bay leaf, carrots and potatoes.

baby carrots onions and parsley

beef roast

Add water and stir to blend.

beef roast

Cover and reduce to low heat; cover.  Cook for 2 hours.  Remove bay leaf before serving.




Bacon Cheddar Cheese Quiche

Not every meal can be a five course spectacular or meat and potatoes masterpiece.  Busy lives breed busy schedules, and into every life a soccer game, train, or meeting will run late.  When this happens the “I don’t have the time to cook a big meal” heard round the world calls for an easy one pan, one bowl idea for dinner.  Bacon Cheddar Cheese Quiche is what’s for dinner tonight at Places In The Home.  Real men do eat this quiche, kids ask for seconds, and the cook is in and out of the kitchen in record time to blog about it!

Bacon Cheddar Cheese Quiche


1 unbaked deep-dish pie shell (9-inch)

1 ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

6 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

½ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon fine black pepper

5 eggs

1 cup whipping cream


Preheat oven to 350°F.  Place unbaked pie crust on baking sheet.  Using a fork, pierce bottom of pie crust.


Fry bacon in large skillet over medium-high heat until crisp.  Remove bacon from skillet and place on paper towels and blot excess grease. Crumble 6 pieces of crisp bacon.

Place shredded cheddar cheese in pie crust.  Sprinkle pepper over cheese and add crumbled bacon.  Beat eggs, salt and whipping cream in large bowl with wire whisk until well blended. Pour into pie shell.


Bake 40 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Let stand for at least 10 minutes before cutting.

May I suggest one or more of these additional ingredients and garnishes.


Quiche recipes have been around for ages, and there is a reason why.  A recipe that calls for simple ingredients, is easy to prepare, filling, and delicious becomes a classic.



Find Your Perfect Fit For Your New Home With

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Our Family Grows By One: An Engagement Celebration

Big news has come to our family!  There is going to be a wedding in the very near future uniting two of my favorite people in the world.

Our immediate family is growing by one, our extended family by many, and our happy hearts by leaps and bounds. Family is an important ingredient in the recipe of a happy life, and we could not be more pleased the happy couple chose to include The Places In The Home gang in celebrating their joyous occasion.

Aunt Darleen had a 48 hour window to get her engagement party act together.  The future Mr. and Mrs. phoned to tell us they were coming in for the weekend, and that they wanted to have dinner at our house Saturday evening. I immediately knew a surprise engagement family celebration dinner was in order. The menu needed to be a little left of a traditional Sunday dinner with a comfortable and unpretentious vibe.


Blush Rose Punch

Fresh Fruit Tray

Crispy Cheese Straws


Pita Chips and Pretzels


Spring Mix & Spinach Salad with Strawberries, Creole Pecans, and Honey-Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Main Course~

Beef Roast with Golden Mushroom Gravy

Baked Potatoes

Green Peas with Pearl Onions

Fried Corn


Vanilla Creme Cake


Iced Tea

There was a method to my tablescape madness.  Dinner plates in “Emma-tation” pattern fashion featuring double rimmed beaded detail in closed circles, band of gold salad plates, and polka dot design dinner napkins served function and meaning. Round and round we go until we complete the circle of love.

Three hundred white tea light candles lined the walk to the proposal and to the heart of the man K will call her husband.  Eight white and two red tea light candles symbolically surrounded one heart.

The Kate Spade dessert plates were the hit I thought they would be.


From our home to theirs they went, hopefully a treasured memory from a most special evening.

Congratulations, K and C, and thank you both for making a special effort to include us all in your engagement celebration!