Saturday, August 30, 2014

Fish Tacos with Corny Guac

I hadn't had a fish or shrimp taco in a while and this one with the corny guac caught my eye.  This is another great make-ahead can mix the marinade early in the day along with the guac (just keep it covered with a bit more lemon juice squeezed on can remix it before serving).  The recipe calls for grilled or roasted corn (or frozen thawed corn), but I just cut the kernels off of a fresh ear of corn since we are, afterall, in the midst of corn season.

And a note about seeding tomatos:  this recipe calls for seeding the tomatoes and then chopping them.  Many years ago I took a cooking class at Central Market in San Antonio with Lynn Rosetta Kasper (of NPR's "Splendid Table.")  She told us, unless you looking for a very smooth sauce or soup, to never seed a tomato because most of tomato's flavor is in the seeds (Google "why you should stop seeding tomatoes" if you don't believe me).  You can also test this yourself by getting a fresh tomato and scooping out a bit of the seeds and tasting it, then try tasting just the flesh.  All the difference in the world.

As usual, I like a double-shelled taco.....a soft shell on the outside and a hard shell on the inside....I like the dual texture it gives.  In order to "stick" them together, I spread some refried beans on the soft shell and kind of glue it to the hard one.  Use both or your chioce of hard or soft shell.   Layer the taco with shredded lettuce, add the cooked fish, and top with this wonderful rendition of guacamole.  Squeeze with a bit of lime for a fresh topping.

FISH TACO with CORNY GUAC (4 servings)

3 Tbsp EVOO or canola oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder

1 to 1 1/2 lbs tilapia, Swai, or other mild white fish, cut into 1" strips
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1 large jalapeno or 2 serrano chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped (more or less to your taste)
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
2 rip Hass avocados, halved and pitted
1 ear corn, grilled or roasted, kernels scraped, or 1 cup frozen fire-roasted corn kernels, such as Whole Foods' 365 brand, thawed
1 plum tomato, seeded (optional) and finely chopped
2 Tbsp chopped cilantro, optional
8-12 taco shells of your choice, soft, hard, or both
shredded iceberg lettuce
lime wedges, optional

In a large bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients (oil through onion powder).  Add the fish, season with S&P, and toss to coat.  Let stand 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine the onion, chile, lemon juice, and garlic.  Sprinkle with salt and let stand until juices form, about 10 minutes.  Scoop the avocado into the bowl and mash with a fork.  Stir in the corn, tomato, and cilantro.  Season with salt if necessary.

Heat a small skillet over high.  Add one tortilla and cook until blistered in spots, 20-30 seconds per side.  Wrap in a kitchen towel to keep warm.  Repeat with the remaining tortillas.

Fill the tortillas with the lettuce and fish; top with the guac.  Squeeze lime on top if desired.

Recipe Source:  Everyday with Rachel Ray, June 2014, p. 79

Friday, August 29, 2014

Capellini Pomodoro

When Jim and I lived in Florida, we'd periodically go to The Olive Garden.  Jim almost always ordered this entree, an angel-hair pasta dish with a simple tomato sauce that was simple perfection (and was also on their low-fat menu).

But when we ordered it Pennsylvania and again here in Chattanooga, it just wasn't the same.  However, it is about the easiest "recipe" to re-create.  I simply went by what was on the menu: tomatoes, garlic, basil, and olive oil (I added onions because I like onions!)  So the amounts below are more of a guideline than anything.  Add more or less to your liking.  It's a great summer dinner when youR basil is in abundance and you're likely to have everything else on hand.  Serve it with a green or Caesar salad, some bread and you're set!


8-12 oz angel-hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
2 (14.5 oz) cans petite diced tomatoes, drained
1/4 cup onion, diced small, or more to taste
1-2 tsp minced fresh garlic
chopped fresh basil, to taste
Parmesan or Asiago cheese, grated, optional

Saute onions until they begin to soften.  At about the last minute, add garlic and stir until fragrant.  Add tomatoes and basil.  Heat throughout.

Drizzle cooked pasta with olive oil and salt to taste.  Top pasta with tomato mixture.  Add grated cheese if desired.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Sauteed Carrots

As far as vegetables go (which I love), when I prepare them as a side dish, I generally prefer a simple steamed vegetable with maybe a bit of butter, S&P.  But every once in a while, I like to step outside the bounds and add a little something.

Granted, there's not too much extra in this dish but I will say that (to me) the balsamic vinegar really made these carrots pop.  But I will also say that since I am use to using fresh herbs, my hand may have gotten a tad heavy on the dried oregano....I should have started small then added (a good rule of thumb on most things when it comes to cooking).  Anywho.....if you are a fan of cooked carrots, give these a try.

SAUTEED CARROTS (6 servings)

3 Tbsp EVOO
2 pounds carrots, peeled and cut diagonally into 1/2" slices
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp kosher salt
black pepper
1 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Heat olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium-low heat.  Add carrots, sugar, and oregano.  Sprinkle with S&P.

Cook, covered, 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until carrots are tender and slightly browned, 7-8 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in vinegar.

Recipe Source:  Relish Magazine, August 2014, p. 5

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Pretzel Chicken with Honey Mustard Sauce

When I eat pretzels, I always have some kind of mustard to dip it in: Dijon, honey mustard, or just plain yellow.  I've made recipes of fish and chicken dip in nut chips, but never pretzels.  So when I saw this recipe I knew I would make it and it would not disappoint.  Check, check.

It's another quick and easy recipe with ingredients you'll likely have on hand.  I served it with sauteed carrots and steamed Brussels Sprouts (both good with the mustard sauce, so you might want to make extra!)


4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
1 cup crushed pretzels (about 1 1/2 oz)
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
2 Tbsp plus 4 tsp Dijon mustard, divided
2 Tbsp white wine vinegar
1 Tbsp light mayo
2 tsp honey
2 tsp EVOO

Preheat oven to 425F.  Spray a large baking pan with cooking spray.  Wrap the chicken breasts in plastic wrap and gently pound to 1/4" thickness.  Set aside.

In a wide, flat bowl, place the pretzel crumbs, mustard powder, onion powder, and 1/2 tsp pepper, and stir to combine.

Smear 1/2 tsp of Dijon on each side of breast, and roll chicken in the crumb mixture until evenly coated (use finer crumbs to cover bare spots).  Place chicken on prepared baking sheet, lightly spray with cooking spray, and bake for 15-18 minutes, or until cooked through.

While chicken is baking, in a small bowl, whisk together the remaining Dijon, vinegar, mayo, honey, olive oil, a pinch of black pepper, and 1 Tbsp of water.  Serve each chicken breast wtih 1 Tbsp of the sauce.

Recipe Source:  "Eat What You Love Everyday," by Marlene Koch, p. 250

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Shrimp and Snap Pea Stir-Fry

This is the absolute perfect dinner for end of a hot, tiring day.  It's ready in minutes, really...minutes, and includes just a handful of ingredients.

A couple of notes.  I used frozen snap peas which I simply thawed and then heated (just a few minutes in the pan).  I would definitely use fresh, as the frozen peas were a tad bit soggy.  Also, the recipe called for large shrimp, but I used 51/60s (I got a 12 oz bag for $5 last week!)

I had some leftover rice I had popped in the freezer, so I just let it thaw for a few hours and the rest of the dish came together in less than 10 minutes.

SHRIMP and SNAP PEA STIR-FRY (4 servings)

2 Tbsp canola oil
2 tsp minced garlic
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed (Google "How to Trim Sugar Snaps" if you need help)
1/2 cup canned, sliced water chestnuts, drained
12 oz large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp Ponzu sauce (found in the Asian aisle, it's a citrusy-type of soy sauce, use soy if you can't find it)
3 cups cooked long-grain white rice
toasted sesame seeds, optional, for garnish

In a large skillet or wok, heat 1 Tbsp oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar snap peas and water chestnuts; season and cook, stirring, unti the peas are crisp-tender, about 2 minutes.  Transfer to a medium bowl.

In the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 Tbsp of oil over medium-high.  Add the shrimp in a single layer.  Cook, without stirring, until pink on the bottom, about 2 minutes.  Turn the shrimp, add the ponzu and cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Season and serve witih the rice.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.

Recipe Source:  Everyday with Rachel Ray magazine, June 2014, p. 71

Friday, August 22, 2014

Spicy Angel Hair Pasta Salad

I hope you'll forgive the lacks of posts of late.  I've been dealing with stinky Skunk-Dog and climbing temps and stifling humidity.  I think I should be back on track and am looking forward to getting back in the kitchen.  I can only hope this heat breaks soon but I really can't complain.  It's been a relatively easy summer here in SE Tennessee and, well, it is mid-August.  I'm so ready for some soups and chili.  I'm beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

But back to this super-easy pasta salad I picked up at Fresh Market the other day.  Every once in a while as I'm passing the deli case in the market and am so hungry I could eat my own shoe, I'll pick up a small container of some salad to help me get home.  This is a knock-off of what they created, nice because you can customize it to your own tastes.  For example, I added more tomatoes, cheese, and basil than they used in theirs.  I also used chopped, marinated garlic cloves (I've been looking for a good MGC for years...the ones I've tried weren't crunchy.  But I found some really crisp ones in the olive bar at EarthFare and they were perfect for this salad.....but I would simply use minced fresh garlic in lieu if I hadn't been lucky enough to find these).

So, this is my interpretation of a nice pasta salad to have around as a snack.  All amounts are absolutely variable....tweak it to your own preference.


4 oz angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced small
2 small to medium Roma tomatoes
2 oz (3 Tbsp) small diced Asiago cheese
1 tsp minced fresh garlic, or 4-6 chopped marinated garlic cloves
6 large basil leaves (3 Tbsp)
1-2 green onions, chopped
2 tsp EVOO, or more to taste
seasoned salt, to taste

Cut with a knife or scissors the cooked pasta (for easier eating).  Add the next 6 ingredients (jalapeno through onions).  Fold ingredients together.  Add olive oil and salt to taste.  Chill.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Shrimp Noodle Salad with Peanut Sauce

Well, we're hitting mid-90's this week with lots of humidity.  This weather definitely calls for light eating (I am so looking forward to autumn and cool weather and soup!)  I ran across this recipe and knew it would be a perfect meal after yard work.

And easy.  Quick and easy.  This recipe, however, calls for using frozen cooked shrimp, but just about the only way I prepare shrimp is by roasting it (thaw frozen, uncooked shrimp, remove shell, leave tail on, toss with a bit of EVOO and a little black pepper and roast on high for 3-7 minutes, depending on size).  There are also a few other things you could add to this salad like diced or strip-cut red peppers, diced cucumbers, chopped peanuts, and mint or parsley instead of cilantro.  Also, I found the dressing a bit too thick, so I would either reduced the amount of peanut butter by half or increase the soy, vinegar, and water by doubling.


1 pkg (8 oz) rice vermicelli (rice sticks/cellophane noodles)
1/2 cup creamy or chunky peanut butter
3 Tbsp rice vinegar
3 Tbsp soy sauce
1 carrot, grated
1/2 green apple, grated
12 oz frozen, cooked, peeled tail-on large shrimp, thawed
1/2 cup (or more) frozen shelled edamame, thawed
3 Tbsp chopped cilantro, mint, or parsley
red peppers, optional
cucumbers, optional
chopped peanuts, optional

In a large pot of hot tap water, soak the noodles until al dente, about 15 minutes (start checking about every 5 minutes), change the water halfway through.  Drain and season to taste with salt.

In a medium bowl, whisk the peanut butter, rice vinegar, soy sauce, and 3 Tbsp warm water until smooth.

Divide the noodles among plates and top with the apple, carrot, shrimp, and edamame.  Drizzle with the peanut dressing and sprinkle with the cilantro.

Recipe Source: EveryDay with Rachel Ray, July/August 2014, p. 98

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Mama's Meatloaf

Always in search of a way to keep my kitchen cool during the summer (I have only used my oven twice since May!), I recently bought a Cook's Essential microwave pressure-cooker.  Never in a million years would I have dreamt of making a meatloaf in the microwave, but I did it and it came out wonderfully!

Generally, I would make a meatloaf out of ground turkey, but I wanted to stick with their recipe to experiment with timing, etc.  This is a great basic meatloaf recipe which you could certainly cook it in a conventional oven (about 350F for 45-60 minutes or until internal temp reaches 160F).  The sauce is great and there is plenty extra for dipping or putting over mashed potatoes.  I couldn't believe how moist the meatloaf came out (and how cool my kitchen stayed)!

MAMA'S MEATLOAF (4-6 servings)

2 pounds (900 g) mixed ground beef and pork
1 medium onion, diced
1 tsp minced garlic
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (120 ml) tomato ketchup
1 Tbsp steak sauce
1/2 cup (75 g) dried or Panko breadcrumbs
1 tsp onion powder
S&P to taste
1/2 cup (120 ml) chopped fresh parsley, plus more for garnish

1 14.5 oz (411 g) can crushed tomatoes
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey

Combine all of the meatloaf ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well.  Shape the mixture into a rectangle loaf.  Using a knife, score the top of the loaf in a diagonal patternw tih 1/2" (1 cm) cuts.  Place the meatloaf into the microwave pressure-cooker.

Combine the sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour the sauce over the meatloaf.

Place the lid on the pressure-cooker and lockk into the closed position.

Cook the meatloaf on HIGH for 27 minutes (for a 1000 watt microwave).

When the time is up, let the pressure come down naturally by leaving the lid on the cooker until the white pressure indicator has dropped.

Allow the meatloaf to rest for a few minutes and then transfer the meatloaf to a serving platter.  Slice the meatloaf and drizzle the sauce over the slices.  Sprinkle with parsley on top and serve.

Recipe Source:  Cook's Essential's "Microwave Pressure-Cooker: A Month's Worth of Dinners," p. 31

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Linguine with Artichokes, Shrimp, and Mascarpone

I'm still working on the skunk debacle (nice start to a food blog post, ya think?)  In fact, when I went out this morning to edge and mow, guess what I found?  A hint:  a dead critter waiting for Jim to get home and dispose of.  Yikes.  I don't know if Lindie killed it the other night, or if this is a new one.  Creepy.  And yes, our home still smells.

But on a brighter note.....!!!!  I have an incredibly lucious pasta dish to share with you!  As I mentioned earlier, I came across some mascarpone cheese at a great price.  I rarely use the stuff because it is a bit pricey, so I had to find several uses for it.  This is an Emeril Lagasse recipe which I am posting exactly as I found it; however, for my/our tastes, these are the adjustments I would make for our table:

*  I cut the recipe in half.
*  We Americans serve way too large of portions.  And since I try to keep my pasta dishes to just a few times a month since I refuse to use whole-grain pasta, I usually make our pasta servings just 2 ounces each.  That is perfect for this dish so you get more shrimp and artichokes instead of too much pasta.
*  I use artichoke bottoms instead of artichoke hearts.  I find that the "hearts" still have some of the prickly leaves on them and I think the name is actually is misnomer.  The bottoms are actually the "heart," it's just the meat of the 'choke.  Emeril's recipe states to quarter the hearts, but I cut my 'choke bottoms in 8ths (bite-sized).
*  Any size of shrimp will work with this recipe, just adjust the cooking time so you don't over/undercook the shrimp.
*  I barely used the tiniest dash of cayenne, but it was still too hot for Jim.  We're very sensitive to cayenne, so if you are also, be careful.
*  I would double the amount of tarragon, but the, I love fresh tarragon.

P.S.  After making this and the Fig Toasts, I still had a bit of mascarpone leftover.  Never letting something so good go to waste, I happened to have a bit of marinara sauce I was getting ready to freeze, so I folded the cheese into the sauce for a wonderful smooth and creamy marinara.  Yummmm!


2 Tbsp EVOO
14 cup minced shallot
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 (15 oz) cans artichoke hearts, drained and quartered
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 tsp finely grated lemon zest
1 tsp chopped fresh tarragon leaves
8 oz mascarpone cheese
1 pound linguine, cooked in salted water until al dente, drained, and 1/4 cup cooking liquid reserved
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

In a 14" saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  When hot, add the shallot and pepper and cook until the shallot is soft and translucent, about 1 minute.  Add the wine, bring to a brisk simmer, and cook until the wine is almost completely evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes longer.

Add the artichoke hearts, shrimp, salt, and cayenne and cook the shrimp for 1 1/2 minutes per side.  Add the lemon zest, tarragon, and mascarpone and cook, stirring, until thoroughly incorporated, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add the cooked pasta and reserved pasta-cooking liquid to the pan and cook, tossing, until the pasta is warmed through, 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the Parmesan, toss to combine, and serve immediately.

NOTE:  If you do not have a 14" saute pan, you may want to cook this dish in two batches.

Recipe Source:

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lindie meets the Skunk

Well, it was only a matter of time.  The last few months, I have been getting a definite odor of skunk in our backyard a few times.  A couple of months ago, our neighbors across the street called to warn that their dogs had been skunked (lucky them, it happened at 8 a.m. on a weekday morning so they could get the dogs to a groomer).  And then last week as I was walking the dogs, I saw what I first thought was a black and white cat rolling around in the grass by the school next door, but on a closer vantage point, I saw it was a skunk.  We must be in Skunk Central.

Well, last night about 11 p.m. I put all four dogs out before bedtime.  The first three came in with no problem.  Now let me back up a minute.   We get squirrels and chipmunks and there is a definite bark that Lindie (the only one who seems to be interested) lets out a bark when she spots a critter.  Well, last week, I heard a yelp I had never heard before (again, at bedtime) and when I looked out, I saw an opossum sitting atop the fence, looking down, glaring at Lindie.  She was going nuts, but couldn't reach it.  I had to go out with a leash to bring her in.  The opossum never flinched.

Now, let's step back into the present.  The other three dogs had come in and I was calling Lindie in.  I heard nothing.   Not a bark, not a yelp, nothing.  But she did run right up onto the deck and into the patio.  I could smell the skunk-smell, but it was nothing out of the ordinary.  But when Lindie came through the doggie-door, she was foaming at the mouth. I saw that her back was wet and I ran my hands through her fur and smelled my hand.  It didn't smell like skunk, but it was a chemically-smell.  She was shaking her head and throwing the foam off and I'm thinking, "I'm going to need to make a run to the middle-of-the-night animal clinic."  I was able to keep her on the deck and run in and get a wet cloth to wipe her mouth off and just as I was going back in to rinse it off, she was able to squeeze through door and get into the house.

By this time, the foaming had stopped, but she was rolling all over the rug in a panic.  She stayed in the living room for a minute, then quickly ran to the bedroom.  She was rubbing first on the floor and then on the bed before I could catch her and put her in the bathroom.  I looked on-line for home de-skunking dog baths (hydrogene pyroxide, baking soda, and dish soap.....luckily, I had just bought a new bottle of HP a few days before) and got her in the shower and was able to bathe her (keep this mixture out of their eyes, FYI) and dry her off.

Luckily, the dog can no longer be called Stinky.  Unfortunately, my house reeks.  The best thing is to keep windows open and air circulating, but we ARE in the midst of August and so that only helps during the middle-of-the-night.  I have burned every candle, used every air freshener, and used all of the carpet deodorizer I have on hand.  Let's just say I didn't have a very good night's sleep last night.  My bedroom REEKS.  Please tell me this will go dissipate!  I have a feeling I'm going to be smelling this for a long, long time.

So, please forgive the lack of FOOD posts.  I hope to get back on track soon (I have a wonderful pasta recipe I hope to post tomorrow).  And I have a new microwave pressure cooker (I had never heard of such a thing) with a couple of recipes I can't wait to try.

That is, if I can tolerate eating in this house with this smell.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Dessert Fig Toasts

Talk about a blast from the past!  Many, many years ago when Jim and I lived in San Antonio, I lived in Foodie Heaven.  We had one of only three Central Markets in Texas (the other two were in Austin and since they have added the Dallas/Fort Worth and Houston markets to their locations).  This place was my hangout.  As a homemaker/newlywed who finally had the chance to spend her day in the kitchen preparing dinners for my sweetheart, I had a chance to discover foods I had never eaten or experimented with.  They had/have demos all over the store and I got to try foods that were so outside of my Oklahoma roots and I was having a blast (not to mention spending a fortune!)

I haven't made this since we lived in San Antonio because mascarpone cheese isn't an everyday indulgence....if you can even find it.  It's a bit pricey, but when I was in the market the other day, I ran across some thats expiration date was looming, so they had it half-priced.  I knew I could find another recipe to use the remaining cheese (and another market just so happened to have the figs at half price) and I just couldn't wait to try it again to see if it was as good as I remembered.

It was.  It is.  I can only imagine Caligula and other Romans sitting around indulging in this incredibly lucious treat.  Really, when I eat this, I feel like I should be in a toga having myself fanned!  The bread is crispy but chewy and then you have the creaminess of the mascarpone and that wonderful crunch/snap of the figs seeds.  Close your eyes and travel back in time....way, way back.


6 Tbsp mascarpone cheese
1 Tbsp sweet Marsala wine
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp + 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
6 slices coarse country bread (5" x 3")....I used Ciabatta
unsalted butter, at room temp
6 figs, sliced (they/I used Black Mission figs)

Preheat a broiler.  In a small bowl, stir together the mascarpone, Marsala, and the 1 1/2 tsp sugar.  In another small bowl, stir together the 1 Tbsp sugar and the cinnamon.

Place the bread slices on a small baking sheet.  Broil until nicely toasted on the top.  Remove the bread from the broiler and turn the slices over.

Spread each slice with butter, then sprinkle with 1/2 tsp of the cinnamon sugar, dividing it evenly.  Return to the broiler and broil until beginning to brown.

Remove from the broiler.  Spread about 1 Tbsp of the mascarpone mixture over each toast, top with the fig slices, arrange on a platter, and serve at once.

Togas and servants with fans are optional.

Recipe Source:  Central Market (4821 Broadway at Patterson, San Antonio, TX 78209)

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Cheesy Zucchini Rice

Do you remember that broccoli cheese casserole we all used to make?  I loved that stuff!  Instant rice, frozen broccoli, and Velveeta!  I haven't made it in years, well, just because.  So when I ran across this recipe that was reminescent of that but was a bit updated and maybe a bit healthier, I couldn't wait to try it.

It is a much lighter version that the oldie-but-goodie I remember.   A great side dish with a tad less guilt!  The recipe below is how I found it, but next time I will probably go a bit heavier on the zucchini (I used 1 medium squash and had an extra small one which I should have added).  It was great right off of the stove top, but with the leftovers I warmed up the next day, I added a bit of lemon zest which really brought up the flavor (I don't think that would have been necessary with the fresh batch, but the reheated rice needed a bit of help).  Try it or not, it's great either way.


1 cup long-grain white rice
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 medium or 2 small zucchini, grated (don't'll want the color)
1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp garlic powder
S&P to taste
1-2 Tbsp milk, if needed
lemon zest, optional

In a medium saucepan, combine the rice and chicken broth.  Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat, cover, and let the rice simmer for 15-20 minutes until the rice is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Remove the rice from the heat and stir in the grated zucchini, cheese, and garlic powder.  Add S&P to taste (unless you are on a sodium-restricted diet, don't miss this needs a bit of salt to boost the flavor).  Add a Tbsp or so of milk to adjust the texture if neded.  Stir in lemon zest if using (start with just a small amount and add more if desired).  Serve warm.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas

I was looking for a home for some leftover cottage cheese when I happened upon this recipe and it came out great!  And a big plus for me, I just happened to have everything on hand!  If you fear cottage cheese, no need to fear here.  It all blends into a creamy chicken filling seasoned with taco seasoning (make your own or use pre-packaged), and top with enchilada sauce and cheese.

I halved this recipe since there are just two of us and still had some leftover for the next day's lunch.  I made a basic corn and black bean salad and mixed the leftover enchilada sauce into a can of refried beans, added some chopped onions, and melted cheese on top for a couple of simple side dishes.


1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 skinless, bonelesss chicken breast havles, cooked and shredded
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 (7 oz) can chopped green chilies
1 (1 oz) package taco seasoning mix
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups cottage cheese
1 tsp salt
1 pinch black black pepper
12 (6") corn tortillas
2 cups Monterey Jack cheese
1 (10 oz) can red enchilada sauce

To make meat mixture:
Heat oil in medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add chicken, onion, and green chilies and saute until onions are softened then add taco seasoning.  Stir until well-combined.

To make cheese mixture:
In a medium bowl, mix sour cream and cottage cheese.  Season with S&P.  Stir until well-blended.

Preheat oven to 350F.

To assemble:
If tortillas aren't pliable enough to roll, microwave each for a few seconds until you can roll them without them tearing.  In each tortilla, place a spoonful of meat mixture, a spoonful of cheese mixture, and a bit of shredded cheese.  Roll tortillas and place in a greased 9x13 baking dish.  Top with any remaining meat and cheese mixture, enchilada sauce, and remaining shredded cheese.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Recipe Source:

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Spaghetti Pie

This is a great family dinner night meal.  And it makes a lot!  The original recipe I had said it was 6 servings, but I think 8-10 might be more like it, especially if you're feeding children.  Regardless, it's a quintessential Americanized Italian dinner that is a meal in itself.  Serve it with a Caesar or green salad and you are ready to go.

If there are just a few of you, I would definitely half the recipe and use a 1 1/2 or 2 qt baker in lieu of the pie pan.

SPAGHETTI PIE (6-8 servings)

12 oz thin spaghetti or vermicelli noodles
1 pound lean ground beef or ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
16 oz can tomato sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
4 oz light cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup lowfat cottage cheese
3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, divided
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, divided

Lightly coat a deep 9" or 10" pie plate with cooking spray and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 400F.

In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the noodles until al dente according to package directions.  While the noodles boil, heat a large 12" skillet over medium-high heat and add the ground meat, breaking it into pieces with a wooden spoon.

Add the onion, garlic, S&P.  Cook, stirring occasionally and continuing to break up the meat until the meat is cooked through, 5-7 minutes.  Remove the skillet from the heat and drain the excess grease, if any.  Return the skillet to medium heat and stir in the crushed tomatoes, tomato sauce, dried basil and oregano.  Simmer the sauce over medium or medium-low heat for 10 minutes.

When the noodles are done cooking, drain and return to the pot.  Immediately stir in the cream cheese and toss the noodles by lightly lifting them up and over with tongs until the cream cheese is mostly melted.  Stir in the cottage cheese, 1/2 cup of the Parmesan cheese and 1/2 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Toss until the noodles are evenly coated.  Stir in 2 cups of the red sauce.  Keep the remainder of the red sauce warm on the stove.

Scrape the noodles into the prepared pie plate and using a flat spatula, press the noodles evenly into the dish so they are tightly pressed together and evenly flat across the top.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan and 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese across the top.

Bake the spaghetti pie for 20-22 minutes, until it is hot and bubbly and the cheese is golden on top.  Let the dish rest for 10 minutes.  Cut into slices and serve with remaining red sauce.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Tilapia Piccata

Let me first say, you must be a piccata afficionado (i.e. you must love lemons and capers) to try this recipe.  But if you are, I can promise you won't be disappointed!

It took me a while to warm up to the briny, saltiness of capers but once I did I was definitely on board!  Yet I had never thought of transferring the beloved chicken piccata recipe to fish.  And really, anything sauteed in EVOO and butter is going to be good, no matter what you top it with!

This is absolutely delicious and makes a great presentation.  I served it with some steamed broccoli and a baked red potato for a wonderful dinner.

TILAPIA PICCATA (4 servings)

4 tilapia or other sustainable flaky white fish fillets (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pounds....I used Swai)
1 cup flour, for dredging
4 Tbsp EVOO
4 Tbsp butter
2 lemons, 1 sliced, 1 juiced (about 3 Tbsp juice)
1 large shallot, finely chopped
2-3 tsp minced garlic
1/2 cup dry white wine or dry vermouth
2 Tbsp capers, drained
about 2 Tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to the lowest setting.  Add a platter and 4 dinner plates, let warm while you make the tilapia.

Pat the fish dry, season with S&P.  Place the flour on a large plate.  Dredge the fish lightly in the flour, shaking off the excess.

In a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium-high heat, swirling to cover the bottom of the pan.  When the oil begins to smoke, melt in 1 Tbsp butter.  Add 2 fillets and cook until opaque in the center, 2-4 minutes per side.  Transfer the fish to the warm platter in the oven.  Wipe the skillet clean, then repeat with remaining 2 Tbsp EVOO, 1 Tbsp butter and 2 fillets.

Wipe the skillet clean, then add 1 Tbsp butter.  When the butter melts, add the lemon slicwes and cook, turning once, until lightly browned, 2-3 minutes.  Place the lemon slices on top of the fish.

Add the shallot and garlic to the skillet and stir until softened, about 1 minute.  Add the wine, capers, parsley, and lemon juice.  Swirl in the remaining 1 Tbsp butter and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 1 minute.  Divide the fish among the warm plates.  Season the lemon sauce and spoon over the fish.

Recipe Source:  EveryDay with Rachel Ray, July/August 2014, p. 119