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I’ve managed to try a few new recipes the past few weeks. Well, not entirely new, really. More like new twists on my favorite go-to recipes. But we’ll pretend they’re new, because that sounds so much better!

Anyway, I don’t do a whole lot of seafood stuff because I’m not all that great at it, and it smells and can be expensive. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s mostly because I’m not good at it. ūüôā I usually stick to shrimp and tilapia… and tilapia much more than shrimp. Ah, I’m so adventurous! Ha! One good thing about cooking tilapia over and over is that I have discovered that tilapia is pretty good any way you cook it! But this recipe happens to be a favorite.

Now, to be completely honest, I don’t measure for this recipe. So, all the measurements I list are approximate. ūüôā

3-4 Tilapia fillets
1/4 cup of milk
1 cup corn flakes
1/2 tbsp season salt
1 tsp old bay seasoning
3-4 strawberries
1 mango
cookie sheet or shallow baking pan
cooking rack

Pre-heat the oven to 375.
Pulverize the corn flakes in a blender, and put in a shallow dish. Add the seasonings and mix.
Pour milk into another shallow dish.
Place the rack on top of the cookie sheet/baking pan.
Dredge the fillets in the milk, and then in the cornflake mixture. Sometimes I use a fork to scoop more breading and move the fillet around the dish. (Helps to keep my fingers a bit less nasty.)
Shake of a bit of the excess crust, and then place the fillets on the rack.
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown.

While it’s baking, cut up the mango and strawberries. You can add a bit of cilantro or oregano if you like it.

I like to serve this on a bed of brown rice with a lemon wedge, and some veggies on the side.

mango strawberry with fish

Mangos are not always easy to find and can be expensive especially if you don’t live in a tropical climate. So, if that is the case, or if you just don’t like mango, you could use pineapple instead.

I have also made this fried on the stove, if you prefer that method. I just try to bake more than fry – rumor has it that it’s a healthier option. ūüôā

Also, I have used raw oats in place of bread crumbs or corn flakes in a pinch. Just grind those oats up real well in the blender and you’re set! The flavor is a bit different of course, but I promise it doesn’t taste like oatmeal! My husband said he thought it tasted a bit like corn meal batter… I don’t know if I agree, but I do know that I liked it!

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I’ve been doing a bit more experimenting in the kitchen lately.  Mostly easy side dishes and things that require little prep work and minimal attention while cooking.

As all you fellow working moms know, once you get home at the “end” of the day, it’s like you step into an alternate reality, and in that alternate reality, the day has just begun!  But, you’re still running on energy left over from the first reality…
(Not to say that stay-at-home moms don’t get exhausted – I know you do, too! I’m just sharing from my current position.)

Anyway, back to my main thought.  Easy, quick food.  Well, if you like bananas, this is a winner!  I saw this idea floating around the web for a little while, but did not give it a try until recently.  Ready for the ingredient list?  It’s a doozey!

1 large, ripe banana

1 egg

That’s it.  Two ingredients. And it makes about 4 medium pancakes. Now, you can always add extras like I did.  Like chocolate chips, or strawberries, blueberries, or nuts… you get he picture.  I did blueberries and chocolate chips.

Anyway, you basically just mix up the banana and egg really well. I mashed the banana and then used a whisk to combine it with the egg. Then proceed to cook like any other pancake!  (Just in case you’ve never made pancakes: Pour some batter onto a medium-hot skillet, and when little bubbles start to pop on the top of the pancake, flip it over and cook for just a little while longer so both sides are a nice, golden-brown.)

I was expecting something heavy and not-pancake-y in the least, but these actually were not too different in texture from a normal pancake.  They are definitely more moist, and obviously, taste of banana, which is different. ūüôā  But not bad, if you like banana!

And they look absolutely delicious, don’t you agree?

image

I highly reccomend having a side of bacon or sausage with these, so it counter-balances the sweetness of the pancakes.

If you try it, please let me know what your opinion is!

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Anyone else out there seem to be always in a rush in the morning?¬† What is it about mornings anyway?¬† The work day may drag, but that bit of morning you have at home before the work day begins just flies by like a… well, like something really fast. ūüôā

Ahh… life as a stay-at-home mother is my dream!¬† A dream I have thoroughly enjoyed the past 8 weeks while on maternity leave. ¬†I mean, how can you not love moments like this?

But as with so many good things, that is coming to a soon end. ¬†Back to work I go. ¬†And I’m determined to be happy and make the most of it!

In my efforts to prepare myself, I have been trying to get a little more organized and streamlined in my get-up-and-go process.¬† There are several different ways I am working on this, and I’ll probably share a few more of them with you in future posts; but, today I wanted to share my efforts in make-ahead breakfast foods. Three of them to be precise. ūüôā

Most of the time we are cereal and milk breakfast people.¬† Not because I don’t like a full breakfast.¬† Believe me, I would love to have a three course¬†meal at breakfast most days.¬† I wake up hungry and cereal leaves me empty by about 8:30am. ¬†But cooking a big breakfast every morning is not realistic (at least not in this house) when you are going to head right out the door to work at 7am and leave the sink full of dishes.¬† The hubs, however, wouldn’t mind dining on cereal and milk four or five times a week! So, I deal, Hubs is happy, and we both make it out the door on time (most of the time).

Now that we have a little guy added to the mix of the morning routine, breakfast is even more of a hurried event for me.¬† So, I came up with a few ideas, and have begun to implement them.¬† Hopefully all these ideas will actually do their job of making my morning¬†a little less hectic. The funny thing is, all three of them center around the use of muffin pans… minus the muffins. ūüôā

Idea #1: Breakfast casserole.

I just make the breakfast casserole like normal, but instead of making it in a large dish and cutting it into individual pieces, I divide the mixture evenly into a muffin pan!  There ya go Рindividual portions of breakfast casserole right out of the oven!

Idea #2: Egg, cheese, and sausage sandwiches.

Again, pretty basic.¬† I cooked up sausage patties¬†in a skillet, toasted english muffins, and baked scrambled eggs in a muffin pan. (A fast and easy way to cook multiples and make them that perfect round shape.) Wrap in foil, freeze, and ta-da!¬† McMuffins a-la-home ready to eat without going through the drive-through! ¬†(And most likely a bit healthier version.) ¬†I add the cheese after I warm them up, but I’m sure you could freeze the cheese along with the rest of the sandwich.

Idea #3: Baked oatmeal!  (I gotta admit Рthese play with my brain a little.  No matter what, my brain thinks these are muffins and when I take the first bite it takes it a second to recover and realize why they taste like oatmeal!)

Now, this one is a bit more involved because the recipe calls for more ingredients than just oatmeal and milk… but it’s not complicated in the least, and I think they’re delicious!¬† Again, I divided up the mixture into the muffin pan, baked them, and once they were cool, I wrapped them up and froze them.¬†A fairly healthy breakfast I would say, right?

So, there you go!¬† Three simple breakfast ideas that can be made ahead, frozen, and then¬†reheated individually!¬† I’ve found that using the muffin pan method, you can easily make a variety of “flavors” at once.¬† For example, you’re not locked in to 2 dozen raisin oatmeal portions.¬† I made four different kinds by dividing up the mixture into four containers, added strawberries to one, chocolate chips to one, raisins to one, and the last one I decided to leave plain but once I poured it into the pan I sprinkled the tops with brown sugar. You can sort of see the different ones in this picture…

You could do the same with the casserole idea. ¬†Give yourself some variety by making some with bacon, others with sausage or cheddar cheese. ¬†I’m sure there are a ton of other casseroles that would work. ¬†The ideas are limited only by your palate!

I think I’m going to get one of those jumbo size muffin pans to make larger portions… for the times when ¬†an “individual portion” just won’t cut it. ūüôā

So, how about you? ¬†What little tricks do you use that help you get out the door on time in the morning? ¬†(Getting up at 3am doesn’t count!) ¬†I’d love to hear them. ¬†I’m going to need all the help I can get!

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I may have mentioned this before, but just in case you don’t know, I greatly dislike onions.¬† I can handle them if they’re cooked in a dish of some sort, but raw?¬† Forget it!¬†¬† So, you might be surprised that I’m sharing a recipe for onion rings.¬† I’ll admit, I’m a little surprised myself!¬† However, I made these for the hubs and decided to taste one… SURPRISE!¬† They were good!¬† (Of course, I made sure to pick the ones with the thinnest onion slices.)

This is not my own recipe.  I got it from Chef John on his blog, Food Wishes.  He has a cool little video to follow and everything, so if you would like to watch it, you can find it here!

So, even if you’re not a huge onion ring fan, you just might enjoy these.¬† And if you love them, well, then I suggest trying these because I’m sure you’ll like them!¬† There are a few surprising ingredients… or at least, I thought they were surprising.¬† I had never made onion rings before though, so maybe its not as odd as I think?¬† I’ll let you decide.

1/2 cup flour

1/4 cup cornstarch

2 tbsp of instant mashed potatoe

pinch of cayenne (optional, but I like it)

1 cup cold club soda

2-3 cups Panko (those Japanese style breadcrumbs РI used more than 3 cups.  But that is just me.)

seasoned salt to taste (Chef John used regular salt, but I really liked them with seasoned salt)

vegetable oil for frying

1-2 medium yellow onions, cut into rings

Whisk together the flour, cornstarch, and mashed potatoes (and cayenne if you choose).  Now, add the club soda and whisk together until combined.  

The batter will be very runny at first, but will thicken after a few minutes.  While waiting for the batter to set a little, cut the onions, add the Panko to a shallow dish, and heat the oil to about 350 degrees.  

After about ¬†5 or 10 minutes, dip the rings into the batter.¬† Once they’re covered in batter, fish them out with a fork and drop them into the dish of Panko.¬† (Using two different forks will make your life easier at this point.)¬† With the second fork, make sure the Panko crumbs stick to all sides of the rings.¬† Lift out the rings and (carefully) drop them into the hot oil.¬† Let them cook about 3 minutes, then remove them from the oil and sprinkle liberally¬†with salt.¬† I let the onion rings drain on top of a paper towel over a wire rack.

Enjoy!!  Mmmm!  I can taste them now!

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My husband likes ribs.¬† I think they’re ok–they taste fine, but they’re just too much trouble… all that picking and stuff… not my thing.¬† Well, I had some ribs in the freezer and this week has been very tight on time, so I thought I’d experiment and make them in the crock pot!¬† Turns out, that was the best idea ever!¬† The meat came right off the bone – no need for picking and poking and all that mess.¬†

I didn’t have a recipe, so I just kinda did what I thought might taste good.¬† I’ll give it to you in recipe format though, since I always like to read food directions that way.¬† I just assume everyone else likes it that way too!

Thawed pork ribs

BBQ sauce of choice

ground black pepper

seasoned salt

blackening seasoning (cajun style)

about 2-3 Tbsp of water

Sound easy enough?¬† Now, keep in mind, all the recipes I share here are shared because they are easy or¬†quick,¬†not so much because they are comparable to the taste of a 5-star restaurant.¬†¬†So if you’re expecting gourmet cooking, you might be a little disappointed.¬†¬†But then again, people who want gourmet cooking don’t normally opt for ribs…

¬†Then I poured a little water in the crock pot so the meat wouldn’t stick to the bottom of the pot. The water also keeps the meat¬†moist and tender.¬† I would say I used about 2 tablespoons or so.¬† As I said before, I didn’t follow a recipe, so I can’t tell you exactly how much pepper or seasoning to use, but I was generous.¬† I rubbed the pepper and both seasoning salts into the meat, front and back.¬†¬†Next, I rubbed a little of the BBQ sauce on the bottom side of the ribs, and then set them in the¬†pot.¬† I added¬†half the bottle of sauce to the top of the¬†ribs, making sure I covered the whole surface, but not smothering¬†it.¬† I cooked it on high for¬†4 hours, and it was perfect!¬†¬†

I actually had a little trouble serving these because every time I picked it up, it fell apart! 

I would like to point out that, if you want ribs, this is, of course,¬†waaaaaay cheaper than going out to eat.¬†¬†(And not much more trouble since it cooked while I was at work!) My hubby went grocery shopping with me, so he knew that the ribs, broccoli and corn had all been on sale.¬† Half way through dinner,¬†he looked at me and observed, “Hon, just think, we’re both eating for less than $5… to get a¬†meal like this¬†anywhere else it would be more than that for just one of us.”¬† It made me laugh that he was thinking about this during dinner, but it did make me feel good that I was able to impress him with my money-saving skills.¬† Haha!¬†

I know most people don’t eat veggies with ribs, but I try to have¬†a little something healthy even with meals like this.¬†¬†From what I hear, corn doesn’t count as healthy.¬†¬†Isn’t that sad?¬† Oh, and don’t you think that the¬†checkered plate is the perfect way to serve this meal?¬† My hubby says that it doesn’t really matter¬†that the plate looks good, but I¬†think it definitely makes a good meal better!¬†¬†I’m silly, what can I¬†say?¬†To top it off, we had watermelon as “dessert”.¬† Mmmm… love me some watermelon!¬† The whole thing¬†felt very summery! =)¬†

One more random comment:¬†¬†Remember that old nursery rhyme¬†“… some like it hot, some like it cold, some like it in the pot nine days old.”¬† Well, when I wrote the title of this post, my brain kept saying,¬†“ribs in the crock pot, nine days old.”¬†¬†…ICK!!!¬† I don’t suggest eating ribs that sat in a pot for nine days.

That said, have you tried¬†a new crock pot recipe¬†lately? ¬†I’d love to¬†hear about it!¬† (And if it sat there for nine days… well, bless your heart!)

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I got this recipe from my sister-in-law.¬† She made it for dinner one day when we were visiting at her home, and boy, I was hooked!¬† I like regular chili just fine, but I think I’ve found my favorite!!!¬† The best thing is, this recipe is super easy, and¬†it cooks in the crock pot!¬† YES!!!¬† My kind of recipe!

I do apologize for that picture… definitely not the best.¬†It doesn’t even look appetizing… how sad!! ¬†I was too excited about eating it to take the time to take¬†a good one!¬† Haha!

Chicken, cut into bite size pieces Рabout one and a half pounds

4 cups chicken broth (I used bullion since I didn’t have chicken broth)

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilis (I used Rotel)

1 can chilis (optional)

2 cans Green Giant Mexicorn

1 can white Great Northern beans

1 pack white chili seasoning

8 ounces cream cheese

Suggested garnishes: lime wedges, shredded cheese, sour cream, chopped onion, avocado or guacamole.

Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks and place in the crock pot.  Rinse and drain the beans and add to the chicken.  Add all the other ingredients except for the cream cheese (and the garnish, of course!). 

Stir everything to make sure the seasoning isn’t clumped together. Cook it on low for about 5 hours or on high for about 3.¬†¬† About 15¬†minutes before serving, melt the cream cheese in the microwave and pour into the crock pot.¬† Stir well.¬† You’ll notice the liquid will turn a creamy white… mmm… delicious!¬†¬† You might want to put the lid back on and let it simmer a few minutes before serving.

Oh, and another thing about the picture I took… the my chili doesn’t really look white, does it?¬† Well, that is because my husband has this thing about fatty ingredients… he’s paranoid… so, I only put half of the cream cheese in there.¬† (it still tasted good though,¬†so I can’t complain too much) ¬†I love cream cheese, and it was hard to hold back, but that just shows how much I love him!¬† I’m willing to sacrifice my cream cheese!

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Please keep in mind that, just like all the recipes I post here, this is a simple, easy version of chili.  It might not win first prize at a chili cook-off, but it does taste pretty good anyway!

Ingredients:

2 cans beans (drained, rinsed) – I normally use kidney beans or red beans

1 can rotel tomatoes (or just diced tomatoes with green peppers)

1 can fire roasted tomatoes

1 lb ground meat

1/2 small chopped onion (optional)

1 -1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp onion salt

1/4 tsp ground cummin (optional)

2-3 cups water (depends on how soupy you like it)

2 Tbsp flour

salt to taste

Brown the meat over medium heat, and drain any grease.  While the meat is cooking, combine beans, tomatoes, onion and seasonings in the crockpot.  Add the meat when it is done cooking.  I always wait and add the water last so I can better determine how much to add.

Turn the crock pot on high for 4-6 hours.  At the end of that time, ladle out some of the broth into a bowl.  One Tbsp at a time, add the flour and combine with a whisk.  Once all the lumps are dissolved, pour it back into the crock pot, mix everything together well and replace the lid.  Allow to sit for a few minutes before serving.  (I usually make cornbread muffins at this point.)

Suggested toppings:

shredded cheese

sour cream

crackers

(Of course, there are canned chili beans available out there Рbut to be honest, I have never used those!)

If you want to use dried beans instead of canned, here is what I do:

Rinse the beans and remove any UFOs you encounter along the way.

Add the beans to the crock pot (or a large bowl)  and add enough clean water to cover the beans by about 2 inches.  Allow to soak overnight (or for at least 6 hours). Once the soaking time is up, rinse the beans gently, and then continue with the rest of the recipe as described above. I have found that when I use dried beans, the chili requires a little more seasoning.  Sometimes I add a bullion cube.

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