Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Fish Tacos

I've never been a real big fan of fish, but we've been trying to add more to our diet.  I like tilapia due to it's mild flavor so when I saw it on sale I picked up a couple filets.  Kevin and I first had fish tacos when we were on vacation a while back.  Since we really enjoyed them, I figured this would be a way to prepare the tilapia.  

I tasted the cooked fish on its own, it was clean with a hint of the lime flavor.  Once you add some of your favorite taco toppings you'll lose that subtle lime flavor, but you can pump it up with a squeeze of lime over your taco.

I've always been afraid of cooking fish because of the smell it might leave in the house.  I was really happy that the kitchen didn't stink afterwards.

Fish Tacos
Adapted from Not Eating Out in New York (marinade) and Steamy Kitchen (sauce)
Yield:  about 8 tacos (4 servings)

1 1/2 lb white fish (I used tilapia)
Salt and Pepper
1 lime
2 Tbsp olive oil

1 cup sour cream
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/8 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp chili powder

2 Tbsp oil

For Assembly/Garnish:
Corn or Flour Tortillas
Guacamole or Sliced Avocado
Fresh Salsa
Lime Wedges

Sprinkle the fish with salt and pepper, the juice of a lime and olive oil.  Cover and set aside in the fridge while prepping other ingredients.  (If you don't want to marinate it, you can sprinkle the fish with chili powder or taco seasoning right before cooking.)

For the sauce, stir together the sour cream, paprika, garlic powder, salt and chili powder.  

Warm the oil in a pan (or brush oil lightly on a piece of foil on a grill) on medium heat.  Add the fish and cook for 2-4 minutes per side.  Don't move the fish more than you need to as it will break apart easily.

Place the cooked fish on a serving platter and break it into large chunks.  Serve immediately with your favorite combination of tortillas, sauce and garnishes. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


I LOVE avocados!  I have been known to eat an avocado straight out of the skin with some lime juice and salt sprinkled over it.  When I make guacamole for just the two of us I usually end up eating most of it myself.  I can't get enough!  This guacamole is really bright and fresh tasting because of the lime juice and cilantro.

Original Recipe

2 Avocados, skin and pit removed
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp cilantro, minced
1 small clove garlic, minced (optional)
Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
Salt to taste

Add all ingredients to a bowl.  Mash together with fork until combined and the desired consistency is achieved.  I like to leave it a little chunky, but some prefer smooth.  Give it taste to make sure seasoning is what you want.  Taste it with a tortilla chip because the chips are salty on their own.

Prevent Browning:  If there are any leftovers, place plastic wrap directly onto the guacamole.  I've also heard that leaving the pit with the leftovers will also help fight browning, but I haven't found that this helps anymore than the plastic wrap trick.  The amount of lime in this particular recipe seems to keep the avocados from browning for a few days also.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Goat Cheese, Grape and Candied Walnut Bruschetta

I needed an easily portable appetizer to take to our Christmas Eve festivities.  I started thinking about different possibilities and decided that bruschetta would work perfectly.  Based on a salad combo I love, I was originally thinking gorgonzola with grapes and candied walnuts.  When I got to the store, I decided to use goat cheese instead. I love goat cheese and I figured it would spread more smoothly.

At first I wasn't sure how I was going to combine the cheese, grapes and walnuts.  Do I crumble the cheese and mix it around with the grapes and nuts in hopes that it'll be moist enough to stay put on the bread?  Or do I spread the cheese and top it with the other ingredients?  As you can see I went for the latter approach which worked out pretty well.  As far as my bread choice, I went for a baguette because it was perfectly chewy for this appetizer.  Try to buy your baguette the same day you plan to eat it so the bread doesn't get too hard.  If you end up with a softer type of bread, you may want to lightly toast the slices.

I was worried that there wouldn't be enough goat cheese to cover all the bread so I decided to add some cream cheese.  It's cheaper than goat cheese and mild enough that the goat cheese is still the prominent flavor (and the most convenient reason:  I already had cream cheese in the fridge so no more trips to the store!).  Feel free to buy a bigger log of goat cheese if you want to omit the cream cheese.

UPDATE: I've also had this with herbed goat cheese and it was delicious!

Goat Cheese, Grape and Candied Walnut Bruschetta
Original Recipe

Fresh Baguette or Crackers
5.5 oz goat cheese, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
~30 large grapes, quartered
3/4 cup candied walnuts (recipe below), chopped
Balsamic Vinegar Reduction or Syrup* (optional)

Cut the baguette into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices.  Mix the two cheeses in a bowl until they are fully combined.  Spread the cheese mixture onto the baguette slices.  Top with grapes and candied walnuts, pressing down to ensure they stick.  

These can be made ahead of time the same day as your party, just pull them out of the fridge about 10 minutes before you plan to serve them to take the chill off.  Right before serving, drizzle with balsamic vinegar syrup if using.These could also be served as a build your own appetizer if you don't want to assemble them.

Candied Walnuts
From Food Network

In addition to the appetizer above, these walnuts are great on their own, and make a nice addition to salads.

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz walnuts (about 2 heaping cups)

Preheat oven to 350 F.  In a medium bowl, mix together the sugar, cayenne and salt.

Bring a small saucepan of water to boil. Add the walnuts and blanch them for 3 minutes. Drain well and then immediately mix the walnuts into the sugar mixture until thoroughly coated. The sugar will melt slightly. Transfer the walnuts to a baking sheet or pan and bake, stirring occasionally, until they are a deep golden brown, about 10 minutes. Watch carefully because the sugar can burn easily. Let cool completely before serving.

*Balsamic vinegar syrup can be purchased or you can make your own by adding some balsamic vinegar in a pan over medium heat and reduce to one-third the original amount.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Chocolate Crackles

Chocolate Crackles have been a family favorite at Christmas.  For some reason we never made them during other parts of the year and I'm not sure why because they are awesome.  Growing up they were always my favorite Christmas cookie and once Kevin tried them they were instantly one of his favorites too.  Just for the record, I do make these cookies during other parts of the year.

Last year I did a taste test of three different Chocolate Crackle recipes: the original (found below), and two that did not use a cake mix.  The original was the clear winner.  I'm still on the hunt for a good alternative that doesn't use a cake mix, but for now and anytime I need something quick, I'm sure I'll turn to this family favorite. 

This recipe is easy to adapt by adding a package of flavored chips such as mint chips for Chocolate Mint Cookies and peanut butter chips would be nice too.

Chocolate Crackles
Adapted from my Gram's recipe
Yield: about 3 dozen

1 package Devil's Food cake mix
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1/2 cup shortening OR vegetable oil
Confectioners' sugar

Preheat oven to 375.  Combine all ingredients in a bowl.  Mix with a spoon until well blended.  Shape dough into 1-inch balls and roll into confectioners' sugar.  Place dough balls on baking sheets.  Bake for 8-10 minutes.  Make sure you don't over bake them, you're looking for a moist, almost fudgy texture in the middle.