Sheet Pan Salmon with Charred Broccoli, Oranges, and Sesame-Soy Dressing
I hope you’re excited for some serious oversharing today, friends, because we’re continuing Domesticate Me’s favorite annual tradition of emptying the nets!!
For those who don’t know, “emptying the nets” is the cathartic exercise of writing out the year’s highs and lows in order to celebrate the positives and let the negatives float off into the ether (and stay there). It helps me to reflect on the past year in a more comprehensive way, organize my thoughts and goals for the next 12 months, and generally kick off the New Year on the highest possible note.
We’ve got lots to cover, so let’s dive right in, shall we?
If you’re just here for the sheet pan salmon (no judgment, it’s delicious), I’d jump to the recipe now. This post is a doozy.
1. Completing Dude Diet Dinnertime. I WROTE A FUCKING BOOK IN 2018. And for that reason, the year felt simultaneously very long and very, very short. For better or worse, recipe testing and writing Dude Diet Dinnertime was all-consuming, but the cookbook process was a little bit easier this time around. Being familiar with the steps and the inevitable highs and the lows—as well as knowing that I’d survived once before—was all kinds of comforting. And now that I’m safely on the other side, I can stand up and say that I’m really, really proud of what I made.
1a.) The Dude Diet recipe testing family. One my favorite aspects of the cookbook process is that I get to have a bunch of wonderful people test the recipes in their own kitchens and provide feedback. With the first book, I had 40 testers, but with this baby, 100 readers volunteered their time, money, and energy to help make sure that each recipe was the best it could possibly be. Did all that feedback make me itchy and anxious from time to time? Duh. But it was also invaluable, and I got to virtually know so many fabulous people in the process. I’m forever in their debt. (To any testers reading this, you are the best, and I’m sending you the biggest virtual hug.)
1b.) The photo shoot! Honestly, I will continue churning out cookbooks just so I get to spend two weeks with my favorite geniuses Matt Armendariz (photographer extraordinaire) and Marian Cooper Cairns (food styling magician). Not only do they bring my food to life in the most beautiful way, but I’m also obsessed with them as human beings, and this shoot was both a professional and personal highlight.
2. Safari Honeymoon. Eight months after our wedding, Logan and I finally did the honeymoon thing, which was, to put it mildly, mind-blowingly amazing. We went on safari in both South Africa and Botswana, made a pit stop in Zambia to see Victoria Falls, and wrapped things up on the beach in Mozambique where my daily mantra was, “EVERYTHING IS MAGIC!” Between the romance, baby animals, absurd sunsets, and my champagne diet, my head almost exploded from sheer happiness. Trip of a lifetime.
3. Domesticate Me’s redesign. I’d been really frustrated with the blog’s design and functionality for a long time, and last January I finally pulled the trigger on overhauling the entire thing. I worked with the badass, all-female team at Magnolia House Creative to build the site you’re currently looking at from the ground up, which I feel is a much better representation of who I am now, and where I hope to go in the future. HALLELUJAH.
4. Going beyond food. 2018 was a big “branching out” year for this weird blog lady, and it was simultaneously scary and awesome. Here’s the thing: I love food. I love cooking and recipe development. It’s what I’m trained to do. But I also love so many other things, and for a long time I was too afraid to devote posts on this site or on social media to topics outside of food. I’d convinced myself that people only cared about my recipes, and if I talked about skincare, anxiety, fashion, fitness, etc., I’d lose my audience. But at a certain point in 2017, I said fuck it. On the verge of starting recipe development for Dude Diet Dinnertime, I was worried that if I stuck to creating just recipes, I was going to burn out on the food front. So I started discussing other subjects I’m passionate about. In 2018, I really doubled down on the “lifestyle” content, which was liberating and has made me so. damn. happy. Have I lost some people who exclusively wanted recipe content and were annoyed that I now sometimes talk about face masks and medium-trashy novels? Yep. Do I care? Nope. I will always, always create recipes and cookbooks, but I’m excited to continue pursuing my other passions and connecting with peeps who share them.
p.s. To those of you who have supported this pivot—even when certain things don’t always appeal to your specific interests—I am endlessly grateful. You da best.
5. My cooking demo at Greenwich Wine + Food. I almost said no when I was asked to do this demo back in September. The other chefs doing demos? Daniel Boulud, Adam Richman, and Alex Guarnaschelli, to name a few. I was the only “unknown,” and given that I’d crawled into a book hole for 8 months and hadn’t been doing many events, it felt like too much pressure, and I was reallllly anxious about it. But I knew that if I turned it down just because I was scared, I would feel far worse than I would in the worst-case scenario if I said YES. Barring chopping off a finger or setting the stage on fire, the worst that could happen is that I might choke. And I figured I could live with that. Luckily though, I didn’t choke! In fact, I had a blast, and I’m still proud of myself for doing something that really, really scared me at the time. ‘Twas a good personal reminder to lean into fear more often.
6. The “Beats” filter. Bless Instagram for providing the soundtrack and lighting for my hallway Hump Day dance.
7. Moving/Making a home. Logan and I moved into a new apartment at the beginning of last year, and it’s the only place I’ve lived as an “adult” that truly feels like home. We didn’t invest much time or effort into decorating or personalizing our past rentals because we never planned to stay in them for very long. But we always did (in hindsight, it may have been good to get some decent curtains during those 6 years?), and I never felt fully settled. And while it took us the better part of 2018 to get our shit together and furnish the place, I love this space so much. And I loved spending my first year of marriage in it.
8. Hosting Christmas. Logan’s family and my mom spent Christmas with us this year, and it was the best. I felt very grown-up. There was also a perfect beef tenderloin involved.
9. Dawson’s Creek! I rediscovered Capeside last year thanks to many hours spent decompressing in the bath, and I’m grateful for the joy and teenage angst that Pacey, Joey, and Dawson’s dumpy khakis brought to my life in 2018. Also, I did yoga with Joshua Jackson once last summer, and he spoke to me after class, so we basically dated. Teenage Serena is very proud.
1. Not getting my own cooking show or posing for Maxim(in a classy way), yet again. I’ve been rolling over these grand goals every year since 2011, and while I’m a teensy bit disappointed not to have crossed them off my bucket list in 2018, I shall never let these dreams die. (Apparently Maxim didn’t receive my emails regarding #fitnessjourney progress.) Keep those fingies crossed for 2019.
2. Anxiety. This one always makes the list because keeping my anxiety in check is an every year, everyday kinda struggle. I did have some great, anxiety-free stretches in 2018, but I was also in my head a lot working on DDD, and panic reared its ugly head all too often. I actually felt most anxious right after turning in my manuscript, which made sense given that my brain goes slightly haywire when it doesn’t have a task to focus intently on. (I typically have less anxiety when I’m very busy/stressed.) My goal this year is to be as present as possible—easier said than done, but I’m invested—so that I can find a little bit more balance in both high-stress and low-stress periods. It’s a “journey,” etc.
3. Skin issues. I’ll spare you the groovy details, but girlfriend had alllll kinds of rashes this year. Some triggered by stress (wassup, eczema?!), some viral, all gross. And they prevented me from going to my beloved hot yoga classes for a couple months, which really cramped my #fitnessjourney style. However, my itchy skin did lead me to discover Melissa Wood’s workouts, and that was quite the silver lining.
4. My self-esteem. Not gonna lie, my self-esteem took a serious hit last year in a way that made me feel off my game and uncomfortably vulnerable. In the span of about 8 months, I went from being a relatively confident woman who gave close to zero fucks about what people thought of her to someone who was insecure about everything from her career choice to the sound of her own voice. If I had to guess, I’d say the rapid onset of my myriad new insecurities most likely stemmed from spending too much time on social media, falling victim to the comparison game, and staring at my own face on Instastories every day, but there were definitely some other contributing factors that I’ve only recently come to recognize. Regardless, this weird blog lady is getting her groove back in 2019. Count on it.
5. The news. There’s no point in rehashing all the heartbreaking things that happened both in this country and around the world in 2018, but suffice it to say, the past year was an absolute shit show. I cried a lot.
And das it! Nets fully emptied. Clearly, 2018 had many more highs than lows, and I appreciated all of them. I learned a lot last year, and not to be a total sap, but I feel like I’m going into 2019 with more openness and gratitude than any year yet.
As always, this post turned out to be laughably long, so we’ll keep the food talk tight. You guys asked for more easy (but impressive) weeknight meals on the blog, and I’m only too happy to oblige with this 30-Minute Sheet Pan Salmon with Charred Broccoli, Oranges and Sesame-Soy Dressing. It’s light, packed with flavor and nutrients, and comes together in a flash with next to no cleanup. The recipe can easily be adapted (play with fruit, nuts, and veggies! Sub your favorite firm white fish for salmon!) and is easily halved to serve one or doubled for your family/entertaining. I hope you dig it as much as I do.
HAPPY 2019, FRIENDS. I appreciate you. I have high hopes for us this year.
p.s. If you’re inspired, feel free to empty your 2018 nets in the comments. I’d be honored if you shared your highs and lows with me.
Sheet Pan Salmon with Charred Broccoli, Orange, and Sesame-Soy Dressing (Serves 2)
4 heaping cups broccoli florets
2 tablespoons light sesame oil, divided
Freshly ground black pepper
Two 6- to 8-ounce center cut salmon fillets, skin removed
For the dressing:
1½ tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 navel or Cara Cara orange
¼ cup toasted sliced almonds
1 whole scallion, thinly sliced
Sesame seeds (optional)
-Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, aluminum foil, or a silicone baking mat (for easy cleanup).
-Place the broccoli florets on the prepared baking sheet. Drizzle with 1½ tablespoons of the sesame oil and season with a little salt and pepper. (Crushed red pepper is also great in place of black.) Toss to coat and spread the florets out so that there’s some space between each one. (This will help them get nice and crispy.) Roast for 8 to 10 minutes or until bright green and very lightly browned in spots. Remove the pan from the oven.
-Brush the salmon on both sides with the remaining ½ tablespoon of sesame oil. Season the fish on both sides with a little salt and pepper. Move some of the broccoli on the baking sheet to make space for the salmon fillets. Return the sheet pan to the oven and roast for 12 to 15 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.
-Meanwhile, combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a small bowl. Briefly set aside.
-Using a sharp knife, carefully slice the top and bottom from the orange. Slice the peel and white pith from all around the orange. It doesn’t have to be perfect! Slice the orange crosswise into thin rounds. (You can also segment it, if you prefer.)
-To serve, add the oranges to the sheet pan. Sprinkle everything with the toasted almonds and scallions, and drizzle with the dressing. Finish with sesame seeds (if using). You can also divide the orange segments between two plates, add salmon and broccoli, then finish with toppings and dressing. You do you.
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