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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia Sandwich

Life is busy around here.  Now that Colin is on the move, I spend all my time chasing him around and holding his hands while he toddles.  I also try to prevent him from chewing wires, pulling all the paper out of the recycling bin, and licking shoes.  This means that my previous technique of preparing dinner in the afternoon while he played on the kitchen floor or in his exersaucer doesn't work so well anymore.  Leftover nights are my savior, but I still love to cook, and we still love to eat.

Fish is great because it takes just a few minutes to cook, so I can easily make it after Colin is asleep and before Jon gets home. I love sandwich night because it also means I get to eat sweet potato fries, and I can't get enough sweet potato fries. 

Cornmeal Crusted Tilapia

2 (or 4) tilapia filets
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
Salt and Pepper
Canola oil, for frying

Heat canola oil in a frying pan over medium heat.
Pat tilapia dry with paper towels.
In a shallow bowl, beat the egg.
In another shallow bowl, mix together flour, cornmeal, Old Bay, salt and pepper.
Dip the tilapia in the egg wash, and dredge in the cornmeal mixture.
Fry for about 2 minutes a side, until cooked through and flakes easily.

I served these on toasted rolls with homemade tarter sauce, lettuce and tomato.  And sweet potato fries on the side, of course.

Only after I took this picture and ate the sandwich did I realize the baby monitor is in the background.  My constant dinner companion.  






Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Crustless Quiche with Goat Cheese and Tomato

My sister and her family came by for a quick visit last weekend on their way to Nantucket.  Amidst the craziness of a 6 1/2 and 2 1/2 year old who had been in the car for over 3 hours, they ate this quiche.  It met with positive reviews all around.

This is a basic recipe that can be customized however you like.  I made it last year with spinach and cheddar, but really any combination of vegetables, meat, or cheese works. 

Crustless Quiche with Goat Cheese and Tomato

6 eggs, beaten
1 cup milk
3-4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled
1 tomato, sliced
1 Tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
1 Tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a 9 inch ceramic dish or pie plate with cooking spray, or grease with butter.
In a bowl, whisk together eggs and milk.  Stir in herbs and season with salt and pepper.
Pour into baking dish and crumble goat cheese evenly over the top.
Lay slices of tomatoes over the top.  Attempt an attractive pattern.
Bake for 30 minutes until quiche is puffed and golden.
Serve hot, cold or at room temperature.


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Wheat Berry Salad

You know how when you order take-out Chinese food and you get way more fortune cookies than the number of people in your party?  The highly sophisticated formula for food per person used by takeout Chinese restaurants is a mystery to me.  Since we always order enough for leftovers, it's ok  to get four cookies for two people.  A few weekends ago we ordered from a new-to-us place that turned out to have extremely generous portions.  Our order of two appetizers and three entrees (we like variety) came with seven fortune cookies.  Seven.  We ate the food for three meals, Jon even had some for extra breakfast and we still ended up throwing some away, along with five of those fortune cookies.  The shame of ordering nearly enough food for a football team prompted me to make a little healthy salad for us to detox on Monday.

Wheat Berry Salad

1/2 cup dried wheat berries, steamed - I soak mine overnight, and then simmer in fresh water for about an hour - about 1 cup cooked
1/2 cup uncooked rice, steamed - about 1 cup cooked
1 14 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 pint cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
2 green onions, sliced
1 cucumber, chopped

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
1 Tablespoon soy sauce or tamari
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

In a large bowl, combine cooked wheat berries, rice, chickpeas and vegetables.
Whisk together dressing ingredients and pour over salad.

I served it over greens with crumbled goat cheese sprinkled on top.  And did not follow it up with a fortune cookie.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Apple Spice Bread

One Thursday a few weeks ago I went to the market, as I always do.  I carefully selected apples for the next week, inspecting each one to make sure they didn't have any bruises or weird spots.  On Monday morning when Jon was picking an apple to take with his lunch, they were all bad.  And not like, oh this has a little bruise bad, actively bad.  It was like some sort of apple gremlin came and ruined them all overnight.  I made an emergency trip to Whole Foods that day (and wandered around for an hour trying samples and getting things we don't need) to restock, and made apple bread with the reject fruit. 



Apple Spice Bread
adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod

1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon all spice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 large eggs
1/4 cup canola oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups chopped apples, skins removed

Topping:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Spray an 8 x 4 loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, all spice, and cloves.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.
Add in oil, applesauce, and vanilla and mix until smooth.
Add the sugar and mix until well combined.
Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in the wet ingredients and mix just until the flour is combined.
Using a rubber spatula, fold in the apple chunks.
Pour batter into prepared loaf pan.
In a small bowl, mix together brown sugar, sugar, and cinnamon. Sprinkle over the batter in the loaf pan.
Bake for 50-55 minutes, or until loaf is golden and a toothpick comes out clean.
Cool bread in pan for 10 minutes.
Cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Taco-sagna

For a family that loves tacos as much as we do, I can't believe I haven't made something like this before.  A layered casserole like lasagna, but with taco filling instead of marinara and tortillas instead of pasta.  Use whatever taco filling you like.  I chose ground chicken and onions and peppers, but any ground meat would work, as would beans, sweet potatoes, or tempeh.

I went a little crazy buying corn tortillas because the package of 24 was on sale for 69 cents.  Needless to say, we had a lot to use up, and they aren't actually all that wonderful with tacos because they break and explode toppings all over your hands. They are perfect in this casserole, though.

Taco-sagna

Olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 pound ground chicken
14 oz. can tomato sauce
2 Tablespoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon ground chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
~12 corn tortillas
1 1/2 -2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Toppings: salsa, hot sauce, sour cream, avocado, cilantro - anything you put on a taco

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare your taco filling.
Heat oil in a pan and add meat.  Cook until browned.  Drain off excess fat, if necessary.
Add in onion and bell pepper.  Cook until vegetables are slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
Add in garlic and cook for one minute more.
Stir in spices.
Pour in tomato sauce and simmer for a few minutes.  I would normally use only 8 oz. of sauce for tacos, but you want this to be a little extra saucy.
In a casserole dish (I used an 8x11, but you can customize this to whatever size you want), spread a thin layer of taco filling on the bottom.
Cover with a layer of tortillas.  I tore mine in half and put the straight edges around the size of the dish.  I also neglected to take a picture of this so you will have to get this vague explanation instead.
Spread on a layer of taco filling and sprinkle with cheese.
I did two layers like this, and then ended with tortillas and topped with cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes until hot and bubbly.
Remove foil and put under the broiler for a couple minutes to get the cheese extra toasty.  This is optional, but toasty cheese is a good thing.
Allow to cool for a couple minutes before serving.






Monday, September 10, 2012

Crispy Eggplant Bites

We've had these before, and they were even better this time around.  When I saw the mini eggplants in our CSA pickup a few weeks ago, my first inclination was to make mini eggplant parm, because that is by far the most searched recipe on my site.  I thought it might be ready for an upgrade, but then I got sidetracked, as I so often do these days.  In any case, these crispy eggplant bites are delicious.  We had them as part of a caprese salad, but they would also be excellent as an hors d'oeuvres with a tomato or pesto sauce for dipping.

Crispy Eggplant Bites

3 small eggplants, cut into cubes
kosher salt
1/2 cup flour
2-3 eggs, whisked
1 cup breadcrumbs
1 teaspoon Italian herbs (oregano, basil, parsley)
Cooking spray

Put cut eggplant in a colander and sprinkle with kosher salt.  Leave for at least an hour.  This takes out some of the extra moisture, as well as the bitterness.  If your eggplant are more mature, or have spent a few extra days in the fridge, peel them.  If they are young and fresh, feel free to leave the skin on.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
Set up three bowls for your breading station.
In the first bowl, put flour.  Add the eggplant and toss liberally to coat.  You can do this in batches depending on the size of your bowl.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant, tapping away excess flour, and put into a bowl with beaten eggs.  Stir around until each piece is coated in egg. 
Using a slotted spoon, remove the eggplant from the egg wash, allowing excess to drain, and put into bowl with breadcrumbs and herbs.  Toss until coated.
Put eggplant pieces on baking sheet. 
Bake for about 20 minutes, flipping once, or until golden brown and crispy. 




Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Spicy Corn Chowder

I always thought corn chowder was kind of bland, which is why I hadn't made any yet this summer despite the abundance of corn.  But then, while flipping through the Pioneer Woman cookbook, I happened upon her recipe for Corn Chowder with Chilies.  Corn plus bacon, chipotles and chilies?  This was more up my alley.  I made it my own by subbing in the ingredients I had on hand (jalapenos instead of chilies and grilled corn instead of raw), and it was amazingly good.  It packed quite a kick, though, so much so that my brother-in-law, who ate a bowl after getting home late at night, was caught a bit off guard. He did confirm that it was delicious despite the somewhat mouth-burning quality.

Between the time when I started writing this post yesterday and now we have picked up 8 more ears of corn from our CSA.  Might be making another batch this week.  Good thing I have a kitchen helper.



Spicy Corn Chowder  

Ingredients:
2 slices bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1 Tablespoon butter
1 medium onion, diced
5 ears corn, shucked, kernels removed (I used grilled, but boiled, raw, or frozen/thawed would work)
2 Chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced
1 jalapeno pepper, diced
4 cups chicken broth
1/2-1 cup heavy cream
kosher salt, to taste
3 Tablespoons cornmeal
1/4 cup water

Directions:
Put bacon pieces in a dutch oven or soup pot and cook for a few minutes until fat is rendered. 
Add in butter and onion.  Cook for about 5 minutes until bacon is done and onion is translucent. 
Add in corn, chipotle peppers and jalapeno.  Cook for a few minutes more.
Pour in chicken broth and heavy cream.  I also added a few spoonfuls of the adobo sauce.  I didn't really measure my cream, just did a turn around the pot until it looked sufficiently creamy enough. 
Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for about 15-20 minutes.
In a separate bowl, combine cornmeal and water. 
Add cornmeal mixture into the soup pot and cook for about 10 more minutes until slightly thickened. 
Taste and add more salt, if necessary. 
This can simmer for a long time, and as you know, soup is always better on the second day.
Served with a sprinkle of cilantro or parsley, if you aren't Jon, who thinks he doesn't like those things. 

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