Southwestern Tilapia

We have found another tilapia recipe we like ūüôā¬† Yep, that makes 3.¬† I found it on a website called He and She Eat Clean, and they actually got it from the Whole Foods‘ phone app.¬† First of all, I didn’t know Whole Foods had a recipe app!¬† I will definitely be adding it to my phone.¬† Anyways, this one was called Southwestern Tilapia.

SouthwestTilapiaThis recipe called for 4 fillets, and we only eat 2 in a single meal.¬† So I halved it initially.¬† But then we also didn’t want it to be really spicey, so I quartered the chili powder and cayenne pepper.¬† The recipe below is how I altered it for the two of us!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 tilapia fillets
  • approx. 1-2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • lime juice

DIRECTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  • Mix spices together in a small bowl.
  • Drizzle olive oil over each fillet.
  • Sprinkle the spices mixture over each fillet.
  • Drizzle lime juice over each fillets.
  • Flip fillets over and repeat steps 3-5.
  • Bake for approx. 10-12 mins until fillets flake easily.

It was so easy too!¬† I mean, making sure I did the math right when measuring the spices was literally the most time consuming part.¬† And by time consuming, I mean 10-15mins.¬† Quick, easy and yummy.¬† Can’t beat that! ūüôā

Homemade spaghetti sauce

EDIT:  MORE DETAILED STEPS ADDED!

 Last week I took our batch of tomatoes I picked from our garden and canned some diced tomatoes and then made the rest into a spaghetti sauce. 

The canning process (although it seemed long) was successful. ¬†Both my cans sealed up nice and tight, but of course I didn’t want to claim it as a total success until we had a chance to eat what I had canned. ¬†Well last night we decided to make spaghetti, so we used the sauce I made. ¬†It was SO good! ¬†I was actually a little skeptical of it just because it was something new, but we were both very pleased. ¬†This will probably be our go-to recipe now for spaghetti sauce. ¬†We just¬†browned 1.5 lbs of ground beef on the stovetop and dumped it into a stockpot. ¬†Then we added about half the jar of sauce, 1 6-oz. can of tomato paste and about 12 oz. water (because it started getting¬†too¬†thick) and stirred it all together.


The recipe for the sauce can be found on this amazing blog-¬†My Crazy Life (as a Farmer’s Wife). ¬†Please take a look at it! First of all, I’m IN LOVE with this lady’s blog! It’s so bright and colorful, and her photographs are gorgeous. ¬†It’s light and airy. ¬†Not to mention I’m swooning over all her vintage country stuff. ¬†I don’t know how many acres of land they own, but her, her husband and their 4 kids live in this adorable house with a red barn, and they have tons of gardens where they grow all their own fresh fruit and veggies. ¬†I’m obsessed.


Sigh. ¬†Ok, back to the recipe. ¬†It’s her Tangy Spaghetti Sauce recipe, but since I’m not a huge fan of really spicey stuff, I took out a few things to make it not-so-tangy. ¬†The items in¬†italics¬†I left out of our sauce. ¬†So if you like it tangy, keep those items in there ūüėČ ¬†Oh, and since I only had about 4 cups of tomatoes once I got them chopped (it calls for 16 cups), I quartered all the ingredients as well. (and I filled 1 quart jar for canning…plus some that I just threw into the fridge).

First, I diced all the tomatoes I had.¬† Ideally, you should probably remove the skins first, using the boiling then ice water bath method described here, but I honestly just forgot to until I was almost done chopping them all.¬† So of course I searched online and found out it’s not entirely necessary to skin the tomatoes (it just helps cut back on possible bacteria, and keeps the chewy skins out if you’re picky about that!).¬† But I did read that if you finely chop the tomatoes in a food processor, the skins are less noticeable later.¬† So that’s what I did.¬† I diced, then tossed them all into the processes for a few seconds, careful not to process too much and turn it into mush.

¬†And I found out this method of cutting tomatoes was much easier (and less messy!!) than my last method.¬† Cut all around the core in a “C” shape, trying to avoid the watery core and seeds. If I got seeds in the cut pieces, I just dug them out with the knife so you’re left with just the firm flesh.
 
 

This time I ended up with roughly 6 cups of diced tomatoes.  They went into the food processor, along with onions and green peppers, and then all the ingredients went into a stockpot.

 
 

Tangy Spaghetti Sauce for Canning
 -3 medium onions, chopped
-2 cups green bell peppers, chopped
-1 cup banana peppers, chopped
-2 pkg. fresh sliced mushrooms (neither Greg or I like mushrooms, so those got the boot)
-4 cloves minced garlic
-16 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped
-3(12oz) cans tomato paste
-1/4 c. balsamic vinegar
-3 tablespoons brown sugar
-1 tablespoon dried oregano
-4 teaspoons canning salt
-2 teaspoons dried basil
-1 teaspoon black pepper
-1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
-2 tablespoons Italian seasoning
-1/2 teaspoon cumin


Mix all the ingredients in a large pot on the stove. Heat until boiling. Reduce heat and simmer, partially covered for about 1-2 hours, stirring occasionally. If canning, fill clean, sterilized jars to ¬Ĺ‚ÄĚ headspace at the top. Secure with lids. Process for 35 minutes for quart jars in a water bath. ¬†

Enjoy delicious homemade spaghetti ūüôā


Next up, Salmon!

We’ve been on a fish kick lately, and I must say, I’ve been surprised at my taste buds. ¬†They are approving! ¬†So when I was at Costco not too long ago, I stocked up on more tilapia and also decided to grab some salmon to add to the mix.¬† A few nights ago we gave it a shot. ¬†And I have to give a shout out to my chef husband. ¬†When we were dating, I pretty much did 99% of all the home-cooking between the 2 of us. ¬†Now, I’d say it’s more 80/20, and Greg is the primary chef in our kitchen. ¬†I love to whip up staples that I’ve been cooking for a while like meatloaf, pot roast, green bean casserole, hashbrown casserole…but when it comes to new stuff, I like to let Greg take the lead.¬† He usually scopes out some options on allrecipes.com, and then we go with it!

And our salmon recipe was a huge hit. So yummy!

Ingredients: 
    Р2 salmon fillets
    Р2 tablespoon butter, melted
    Р2 tablespoon fresh lemon juice 
    Р1 teaspoon chopped fresh parsley
    Р1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
    Р2 tablespoon olive oil
    Рsalt and pepper to taste

 Directions:
     Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Whisk together the butter, lemon juice, parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Dip the salmon into the sauce so the flesh side is coated, and set on a plate.  Heat the olive oil in an ovenproof skillet (iron skillet) over medium-high heat. When the oil begins to smoke, gently add the salmon, placing it skin side up into the skillet.  The hot oil will go a bit crazy when the salmon hits it, so be careful! Cook until seared and golden brown, about 1 minute.
    Place the skillet into the preheated oven and cook until the salmon flakes easily with a fork, 10 to 12 minutes.

We made garlic mashed potatoes and salad to go with it. IT WAS SO GOOD ūüôā¬† We ate it too quick to even snap a picture of it!

 

Tilapia for dinner

Greg and I have recently discovered a new favorite meal.¬† I was doing some shopping at Costco a while back and saw tilapia filets and knew we needed to mix things up with all the chicken and beef we eat at our house. And we’ve actually found 2 ways to cook it that we both like.¬† So here they are:

Lemon Garlic Tilapia
Ingredients:
      Р4 tilapia fillets
      Р3 tablespoons lemon juice
      Р1 tablespoon butter, melted
      Р1 clove garlic, finely chopped
      Р1 teaspoon dried parsley flakes
      Рpepper to taste
 (We just use 2 fillets and roughly estimate half the rest of the ingredients.)

Directions:
     Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Rinse fillets in cool water, pat dry with a paper towel and place into the baking dish.  Pour lemon juice over fillets, then drizzle butter on top. Sprinkle with garlic, parsley, and pepper.  Bake for 30 mins until fish is white and cuts easily with a fork.

 So simple!  To go with it we make pasta with EVOO, minced garlic, butter, parsley, basil and lemon pepper.  Greg just throws things in, no measurements really.

And here’s our other go-to recipe for tilapia:


Broiled Tilapia Parmesean
Ingredients: 

     Р1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

     Р1/4 cup butter, softened
     Р3 tablespoons mayonnaise
     Р2 tablespoons lemon juice
     Р1/4 teaspoon dried basil
     Р1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
     Р1/8 teaspoon onion powder
     Р1/8 teaspoon celery salt
     Р2 pounds tilapia fillets
Directions:
¬†¬†¬†¬† Preheat your oven’s broiler. Line a pan with aluminum foil. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
     Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Crock Pot that Pot Roast!

Last week I wanted to make pot roast for dinner, and although I’ve made it before and posted that recipe (which you can find here), I wanted to try another one just to mix things up.¬† I actually combined 2 recipes and sorta used them as guidelines. Since we have a gas stove, I didn’t want to cook it over the stove-top all day (wouldn’t that be a nice gas bill next month!?).¬† Instead, a crock-pot was the answer.¬† And the great thing about crock-pots, obviously, is once I got everything together and into the pot, it just cooked all day long.¬† And when I got home, dinner was ready ūüôā¬† So here goes…

Ingredients:
2-4 lbs chuck roast (I think mine was roughly 2 lbs, and it fed 4 people)
Extra Virgin Olive Oil (maybe about 1/4 cup)
Salt and pepper
32 oz. beef broth (or stock)
(1) 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
2 teaspoons paprika
3 teaspoons allspice (I didn’t have allspice, so I substituted cinnamon)
1 large yellow onion, cut into quarters (or smaller)
baby carrots, as desired
red potatoes, as desired (cut into quarters)
1 clove garlic (or more if desired)

 Directions:
First, salt and pepper your roast and don’t skimp!¬† I used sea salt, but I’m sure regular salt is just fine.¬† Pour some EVOO into your pan over high heat on the stove.¬† You want to sear the edges of your roast. This helps seal in some of the yummy flavor.¬† So once your oil heats up (just a few minutes), carefully place your roast in the pan.¬† Be careful not to drop it in!¬† That hot oil could splash out, and it is HOT!¬† Sear all the edges for approx 5 mins, just until golden brown.

Once it seared, I set it aside and made my marinade for the crock pot. First, I poured the beef stock, balsamic vinegar, honey and tomato paste into the crock pot and stirred it together.¬† Then, I added the paprika, cinnamon, garlic and some salt and pepper to taste.¬† **I substituted cinnamon for allspice, and I did it with a 1:1 proportion.¬† If you use cinnamon, I would use a little bit less.¬† The mixture smelled strongly of cinnamon every time I lifted the lid of the crock-pot, but luckily it didn’t absorb into the meat and veggies as much as I feared it had.¬† But still, next time I’ll do a little less.**

Here’s my marinade ready for the roast!

All that’s left is tossing in the meat and veggies.¬† My roast wasn’t huge, but if you have a smaller crock-pot or larger roast, you want to load in half your veggies, then your roast, then the other half of the veggies.¬† The roast needs to be at least 3/4 submerged into the marinade.¬† If it’s not, just add more beef broth (or water).¬† Then cook either on high for a few hours (maybe 3-4) or low for several hours (7-8).¬† I did a mix.¬† I cooked it on high for almost 3 hours, then turned it to low for another 3.¬† Just do what feels right ūüėČ

Then invite your friends over and enjoy your dinner ūüôā¬† We asked our sweet neighbors Tyler and Anna (and their precious baby Griffin) to join us.¬† We sure do love having these guys right next door!

OH! and another advantage to this meal is it’s full of compost materials!¬† All of this went into the compost bin ūüôā

Creamy Baked Chicken

Wow, I have not posted a recipe in way too long.¬† Unfortunately, it’s because A) I don’t cook as much as I should. Ironically, Greg has become more of the cook than I have.¬† My work schedule means I get home after 8pm 3 days a week, so he does a lot of our cooking.¬† B) some of the new recipes we’ve tried lately have not been that great.¬† They were just ok.¬† And I refuse to share a recipe unless it’s truly good.¬†

So, I was really excited tonight when a few bites into dinner, Greg and I determined this recipe was a keeper!¬† It’s called Creamy Baked Chicken, and here’s what you need:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 4 slices of Swiss cheese
  • 1 can cream of chicken soup
  • 1/4 cup cooking white wine
  • 1 cup herb seasoning stuffing mix
  • 2 Tbsp. butter

I had never bought stuffing mix or cooking wine, but here’s what I got…

Oh, and did I mention how EASY this recipe is??  Yeah, it takes about 15 mins to prep (if that) and then you pop it in the oven.  Ok, so arrange your chicken breasts in a baking dish.  Top with cheese slices.  In a separate bowl, combine the cream of chicken soup and cooking wine and mix well.  Spoon mixture over the chicken and sprinkle stuffing mix on top.  Pour melted butter over the stuffing crumbs and bake at 375 for about 30-45 mins (depending on how thick your chicken breasts are).

Here’s our dish before I put it in the oven…
and after it cooked…
 yumm!!

Pot Roast, Garlic Red Potatoes, and a bread failure

Tonight I cooked dinner for Greg and 2 of his co-workers who were in town from Atlanta. I used my new dutch oven to cook the pot roast, and I made some garlic red potatoes to go with it.¬† I had a recipe from my Country Living magazine for some Italian bread that I wanted to try too.¬† But, unfortunately, the bread was a total fail.¬† For some reason I cannot bake bread.¬† I believe this is the 3rd bread recipe I have tried, and every time it fails.¬† My bread never wants to rise correctly.¬† I’ve even gone over to my friend Christine’s house and watched as she bakes bread (cause she’s a pro!), and I STILL can’t do it right.

But anyways, here are the recipes for what DID go right!¬† And luckily I have made these potatoes before, so I knew at one thing would be good for dinner ūüėČ

Pot Roast (from Greg’s family’s recipe)
INGREDIENTS:

  • 3 to 4 lb. chuck roast
  • garlic salt
  • sea salt
  • pepper
  • all-purpose flour
  • garlic (5-6 cloves)
  • olive oil
  • 1 large white onion
  • baby carrots

DIRECTIONS:
1. Sprinkle all sides of the roast with garlic salt, sea salt, and pepper. Then coat lightly with flour.
2. Saute garlic cloves in some olive oil.

3. Place roast in the pot on the stovetop and brown both sides on medium heat (roughly 5 mins each side).
4. Add water to the pot just below the top of the roast.  Peel the onion and quarter it, then add to the pot.
5. Bring water to a boil, then simmer for approx. 4 hours (the longer the better). Add the baby carrots one hour prior to serving.

Garlic Red Potatoes:
INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 lbs red potatoes
  • 1/4 cup (4 tbs) butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 Tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400.  Mix garlic, butter, salt, and lemon juice into a small bowl.
2. Pour over sliced potatoes in an 8×8 baking dish.
3. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top.
4. Bake covered for 30 mins, then uncovered for 15 mins.

Chicken Parmesan

¬†Luckily, this was NOT the scene at my house tonight.¬† I’ve noticed lately that I’ve gotten more relaxed in my need to follow a recipe word by word, which I think is a good thing.¬† I’ve always been amazed at cooks who can just throw things together sometimes without even needing a recipe. I’ve got a long way till I reach that level of skill, and I’m certainly no Julia Child, but at least I’m experimenting more and just “going with it.”¬† There’s still so very little I understand about mixing flavors together and what spices and herbs go well with things.¬† Baby steps, people.¬† Tonight, I found two chicken parmesan recipes (one was fairly complicated, the other super basic). So, of course I wanted to create a medium level dish. I’d say it turned out pretty well (and Greg agrees, so I guess that’s all that counts!).

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup Italian seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped green or red bell pepper (recipe called for red, but I used a green one)
  • 2 cups pasta sauce (I used tomato and basil)
  • approx. 1 to 1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
  • linguine pasta for two

DIRECTIONS:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Pound each chicken breast to approx 1/2 inch thickness using a meat mallet. Combine bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and a pinch of black pepper into a shallow pan.
2. Dip each breast into the egg wash, then into the breading mixture. Place chicken breasts into a baking dish and bake for 20 minutes.
3. While baking the chicken, saute the chopped bell pepper with 1 teaspoon olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Once sauteed, add 2 cups pasta sauce and stir. Remove from heat and set aside.

4. Remove chicken from oven, pour pasta sauce over chicken and top with mozzarella cheese and cook for additional 10 minutes until cheese is melted.
5. Serve over linguine pasta.

Final result…

And one happy dinner date!
 

the best lasagna ever

I wanted to share with you the recipe for the lasagna we cooked for the guys last weekend.¬† I believe the word Greg used was “incredible!”¬† Thanks to my good friend DK for discovering it, and thanks to the Pioneer Woman for creating it!¬† The great thing about this lasagna was its simplicity. Unfortunately, though,¬†it’s not packed with many veggies.¬†I might try to add some next time.¬† Not that it lacked at all in taste, but it never hurts to mix some veggies into a meal. (especially for someone like me who never eats veggies on the side!)¬† Ok, so here it is.¬†

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1¬Ĺ lbs. ground beef
  • 1 lbs. hot breakfast sausage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cans (14.5 Ounce) whole tomatoes
  • 2 cans (6 Ounce) tomato paste
  • 4¬†Tablespoons dried parsley (divided in half)
  • 2 Tablespoons dried basil
  • 2¬†teaspoon salt (divided in half)¬†
  • 3 cups lowfat cottage cheese
  • 2¬†eggs, beaten
  • ¬Ĺ cup grated (not Shredded) Parmesan cheese
  • 1 lbs. sliced mozzarella cheese (approximately)¬†
  • 1 package (10 Ounce) lasagna noodles

DIRECTIONS:
1.  Bring a large pot of water to a boil. (add 1/2 teaspoon salt to boiling pasta water)
2.  Meanwhile, in a large skillet or saucepan, combine ground beef, sausage, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat until browned. Drain off the fat.  Add tomatoes, tomato paste, 2 Tbs. parsley, 2 Tbs. basil and 1 tsp. salt. After adding the tomatoes, the sauce mixture should simmer for approx 30-45 minutes while you are working on the other steps.
3.  In a medium bowl, mix cottage cheese, beaten eggs, grated Parmesan, 2 more tablespoons parsley, and 1 more teaspoon salt. Stir together well. Set aside.
4.¬† Cook lasagna until ‚Äúal dente‚ÄĚ

To assemble:
1. Arrange cooked lasagna noodles in the bottom of a baking pan, overlapping if necessary. Spoon half the cottage cheese mixture over the noodles. Spread evenly. Cover cottage cheese with a layer of sliced mozzarella cheese. Spoon a little less than half the meat/sauce mixture over the top.

2.  Repeat, ending with meat/sauce mixture. Sprinkle top generously with extra Parmesan.
3.  Either freeze, refrigerate for up to two days, or bake immediately: 350-degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes, or until top is hot and bubbly.

Chicken Cordon Bleu

Before I begin this post, I want to give a little shout-out to another blog I contribute to.¬† It’s called¬†The Wooden Spoon.¬† There are 6 young ladies who contribute (myself included), and you’ll mostly find recipes, but there are also some crafts included.¬† One of my favorites is a post I wrote on how to create personalized magnets. You can find that one here.¬† Ok, on to the chicken cordon bleu…

I’ve made this recipe twice, and the first time it seemed really complicated, but this second time it was pretty quick and easy. I’d say it took about 15-20 mins prep time, and then it bakes for about 30 mins. And you really don’t have to bother with any measurements. I combined a few different recipes and tips to come up with this final version, so I’m sorry if it seems a bit disorganized. Here it is…

Oh, and before you begin, you’ll want to invest in one of these… (I tried using just a regular hammer the first time, and it didn’t work so well)

Serves: 2
Ingredients:
– 1 to 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (the first time I used a whole chicken breast for each one, and they were huge! This time I cut one breast in half, and they were definitely smaller, but when you add some side items to the meal it was enough to fill us up.)
– 1 egg white
– salt
– pepper
– bread crumbs (I used Italian seasoned)
– Paprika
– Mozzarella cheese, sliced
– ham, sliced
-1 Tablespoon butter

Ingredients for the cream sauce on top:
– 1/2 can cream of chicken soup
– approx. 1/ 8 cups sour cream
– 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, and spray a baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
2. Beat the chicken breast with a meat tenderizer to approx. 1/4 inch thickness.
3. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Dip chicken breasts in egg whites, and then sprinkle both sides with bread crumbs and paprika. Make sure to cover all surfaces of the chicken breast with bread crumbs.
4. Place 1 slice of mozzarella cheese and 1 slice of ham on each chicken breast.
5. Roll up the chicken breast and secure with toothpicks. Place 1/2 tablespoon of butter on top of each breast.
6. Place in baking dish and bake at 400 degrees for 25 mins.
7. Remove from oven and add about a 1/4 slice of cheese on top and return to oven for approx 5 mins until melted.
8. Serve with cream sauce on top.

Before:

After:
ÔĽŅ

ÔĽŅ