Sunday, January 16, 2011

Homemade Fish Sticks and Tartar Sauce


I recently started going to the Willy Street Co-op, which just opened 5 minutes from my house. The co-op features lots of locally sourced, and organic foods. As I was perusing the frozen food section, a box of delicious looking fish sticks jumped out at me. But, before I threw the box in my cart, I realized that fish sticks would be something I could easily prepare myself, and therefore, I could have much more control over what type of fish and breading. So instead of buying a box of prepared fish sticks, I bought 8 ounces of tilapia and set out to make my own fish sticks.

I stumbled upon sophistimom.com and her gorgeous photo of fish sticks. I figured her method would work well for fish sticks, so it is her recipe on which I have based mine.

The great thing I learned about this meal is that these little guys cook up real quick. So you can probably get this entire meal (fries and all) prepped and on the table in 30 minutes. If you're wondering about those fries on the plate, they're the Alexia brand Yukon Gold fries, cooked up for about 25 minutes in the oven. Delicious and a great time saver!

Serves 2
Ingredients:
  • 8 oz tilapia filet (or other white meat such as cod, or halibut)
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 tsp lemon pepper
  • 1/8 tsp paprika
  • dash of cayenne
  • salt
  • pepper
  • 1-2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • Tartar sauce (below)

Directions:
  1. Prep the tilapia by cutting into 3/4 inch by 3/4 inch strips that are approximately 3-4 inches long.
  2. On a plate, combine flour and salt. In a second bowl, lightly beat an egg. On a third plate, combine breadcrumbs, lemon pepper, paprika, cayenne and a generous pinch of salt.
  3. Coat each fish stick in flour, then the egg, and then in the bread crumbs, making sure to coat all sides.
  4. Heat oil in nonstick skillet. Cook fish sticks until golden brown on all sides.

Tartar Sauce:
Ingredients:
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 small pickles, finely chopped
  • Dash of paprika or cayenne pepper

Directions:
  1. Mix everything together!
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Sunday, January 9, 2011

Mediterranean Israeli Couscous Salad

Over Thanksgiving, we visited my sister-in-law, Kim, in Seattle, Wa. She made a delicious salad to go along with the massive spread of food she and the rest of the family prepped. The salad she made was so fresh and tasty, that ever since then, I've wanted to re-create it. The basics of the salad were salad greens, lightly steamed kale, carrots, israeli couscous and a lemon-ey vinaigrette. Since I had some chicken, tomato, and avocado around, I thought I'd make the salad more 'main dish' by throwing in these ingredients as well.

With all the over-indulgence throughout Christmas and New Years, this salad is a nice break from heartier meals I've been stuffing myself with. And, it reminds me of glorious spring that should show up in just a few short months...This is definitely a salad that I'll be making all year round.

Serves 2 as a hearty main dish salad, or 4 as a side.
Ingredients:
For the Lemon Vinaigrette, prep half recipe from epicurious.com:
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1.5 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon grated lemon peel
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar

Salad ingredients:
  • 1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 2/3 cup Israeli couscous
  • 1/2 bunch red leaf lettuce, torn, rinsed and spun dry
  • 1/2 bunch kale, chopped, lightly steamed and cooled
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado, diced

Directions:
  1. Prep the lemon vinaigrette. Whisk all lemon vinagrette ingredients in bowl to blend. Season with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill. Bring to room temperature before using.)
  2. In small saucepan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and toast couscous until lightly browned. Add water and bring to a boil. Boil couscous for 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Drain and cool.
  3. In small saute pan, heat 1 tbsp olive oil and add chicken breast, cook 10-15 minutes until cooked through. Season with salt and pepper. Cool chicken and dice.
  4. In a large bowl, combine the chicken, cooled couscous, lettuce, steamed kale, carrot, tomato, and avocado. Toss the salad with the lemon vinaigrette and serve.
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Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bacon and Swiss Chard Pasta

I have a bunch of swiss chard sitting in my fridge which I bought for one recipe that I'll be blogging soon. But, that recipe wouldn't consume the whole entire bunch so I had to find a new recipe to try so that the chard didn't go to waste. I found this recipe on Epicurious.com and I chose it because it was a simple list of ingredients with simple prep, and I had everything on hand.

I did modify the recipe a little bit. The main changes I made were to first, add two cloves of garlic because what's a pasta meal without garlic? Second, I didn't use olive oil or balsamic vinegar because I think balsamic can be pungent and figured it'd detract from the yummy flavors already going on and I had already sauteed everything in bacon grease, why add even more oil? Third, I only sprinkled parmesan on the top vs. using 2/3 cup as the recipe calls for just to keep the salt down a little. Again...everything was sauteed in bacon grease and topped with crumbled bacon - plenty of salt! Other minor tweaks were made, and I've written the recipe below with the modifications.

Give this a try when you've got some swiss chard to use. Or, if you just want a good excuse to cook bacon.

Here's the recipe on Epicurious.com: Bacon & Swiss Chard Pasta
Serves 3 (or two very generous portions)
Ingredients:
  • 1/2 pound linguine or thick spaghetti
  • 6 ounces of bacon
  • 1 medium yellow or white onion thinly sliced
  • 1/2 large bunches Swiss chard, thoroughly washed, stemmed, chopped (about 4 cups)
  • 1 large or two small cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/8 tsp Pepper
  • Parmesan for serving

Directions:
  1. Cook linguine/spaghetti in large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to bite, stirring occasionally. Drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta cooking liquid.
  2. Meanwhile, cook bacon in large skillet over medium heat until beginning to crisp, about 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels to drain. Crumble when cool.
  3. Drain all but 1-2 tablespoons bacon drippings from skillet. Add onion and saute over medium-high heat until softened, about 7 minutes. Add garlic and saute for 1 minute.
  4. Add Swiss chard and sprinkle with pepper. Add pasta cooking liquid to skillet. Toss until chard is wilted and tender, about 4 minutes.
  5. Add linguine and crumbled bacon to skillet and toss to coat. Transfer to serving bowls and top with parmesan cheese and serve hot.
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Easy Pesto Pasta


At it's core, this "recipe" is hands down the easiest pasta recipe I make. But I often amp it up by adding sauteed chicken, tomatoes, mushrooms, asparagus, peas, or artichokes to this. Or I swap out the pasta shape subbing in a store-bought gnocchi. Some day, when I have an abundance of basil, and am willing to purchase pricey pine nuts and parmesan, I'll make my own homemade pesto for use here. But for now, I'm sticking with locally-produced pesto that I can find at the grocery store from Carlanna Gardens in Wisconsin. Tastes great and is available in the middle of winter!

4-6 servings
Ingredients:
  • 1lb linguine, fettucine, or spaghetti
  • 1 tub store-bought pesto sauce (about 6 ounces)
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:
  1. Bring large pot of salted water to boil. Add pasta and cook until al dente, drain, reserving 1 cup of cooking water
  2. While pasta is cooking pour pesto sauce in bowl large enough for tossing the pasta
  3. Add 1/2 of the reserved cooking water to the pesto to thin. Add hot pasta and toss to combine. If sauce is too thick, add remaining cooking water until thinned enough for your preference
Adding other ingredients to this dish?? Sautee separately while the pasta cooks, then toss in when combining the pesto & pasta.
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