Thursday, July 16, 2009

Fish Tacos

For my first time making fish tacos, I think this recipe was perfect. They were so simple to make and turned out to be quite delicious. Compared to the normal tacos we eat, these were so light and refreshing, and I felt good about eating them because they came from Cooking Light.

I found the recipe here, but because I made some of my own adaptations, my recipe is below. I had never used smoked paprika before but I am so glad I went out and bought some. It added a lot of depth to the fish and I can't wait to find more uses for it. This recipe would be equally tasty using shrimp or chicken.

Fish Tacos
Adapted from Cooking Light

3 tbls. fat-free sour cream
3 tbls. fat-free mayonnaise
1 clove of garlic, minced
1 tsp. lime zest
2 tsp. lime juice(about 1/2 a lime)
1/4 tsp. salt

1 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. salt
4 tilapia filets (mine were frozen)
Cooking spray
Corn or flour tortillas
Shredded lettuce
*we also added a bit of shredded cheese, but definitely not necessary

Preheat oven to 425°.
To prepare sauce, combine the first 6 ingredients in a small bowl; chill until ready.
To prepare tacos, combine cumin and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl; sprinkle spice mixture evenly over both sides of fish. Place fish on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 17* minutes or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork or until desired degree of doneness. Place fish in a bowl; break into pieces with a fork.

Top tortilla with fish, sauce, and lettuce. Serve.

*Since my tilapia filets were frozen, I baked them according to the package. If using thawed filets, it will probably only take about 9 minutes.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto

I love risotto. I have recently mastered the art of making it and this is my second successful attempt (it's really not that hard, I just had to acquire the patience). I had an entree very similar to this at an italian restaurant a few months ago so I decided to create my own version. When I asked the hubby what he thought his response was "It's a lot better than your plain risotto." I interpreted that as "I love your plain risotto but this one makes me happy because I actually got to eat mushrooms."

I read through this recipe as a guideline, but this is my adaptation of it. Also, I don't really pay attention to the time when I make risotto, I just nibble every now and then until the rice is the right consistency. When it has a tiny crunch left I add one more ladle of broth and call it a day.

Mushroom and Asparagus Risotto
2 14 oz cans low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bunch asparagus
1 package shitake mushrooms(mine was 3.5 oz)
2 tbls. butter
1 tbls. olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
1.5 cups arborio rice
1/2-3/4 cup parmesan cheese (good kind, not green tube kind)
salt and pepper to taste

Bring chicken broth and water to a boil. Cut ends off asparagus and discard (or save for soup or something), cut tips to 1 1/4 inches, and the rest of the stem into 1/4 inch pieces. Add to boiling broth and boil for 3-4 minutes. Transfer asparagus to bowl of ice water to stop the cooking, drain. Lower broth to simmer.

Melt one tbls. butter over medium heat in saucepan, add mushrooms. Saute for 4 minutes, remove. Let cool and chop into smaller pieces.
Heat one tbls. butter and one tbls. oil over medium heat, add shallot and garlic and saute until softened, about 4 minutes. Add rice, stir 1-2 minutes until toasted. Add wine and stir until completely absorbed. Add one lable of broth, simmer and stir continuously until absorbed. Continue to add broth a ladle or two at a time, stirring constantly, until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender and creamy, about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat, add cheese and gently stir in mushrooms and asparagus. Let sit for 2 minutes to allow mushrooms and asparagus to heat up. Season as desired with salt and pepper.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Please don't let this picture steer you away from making this. My avocados were turning brown, the lighting isn't very good in the kitchen, and I seem to be camera illiterate.

Moving on, this is the easiest guacamole, ever. Whenever I see other recipes I always wonder why people go to all the trouble, when they could go this route. I do have to give a shout out here to one of my oldest friends, Sonja, for cluing me in on this simple, yet delicious way of making the guac. While visiting Sonja last summer at her home in Chicago she whipped this up and I've been obsessed ever since. Thanks Sone!!

I've found that when making this, fresh salsa tastes a lot better than the jarred kind. However, we moved a couple months ago and for the life of me I have not been able to find the fresh salsa in my grocery store yet. As usual, ingredients can be manipulated to fit the size of your crowd, approximations are my friend.
3 avocados
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/8-1/4 tsp. of cumin
1/8-1/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper
1/2 cup salsa
juice of half a lime
Halve avocados and remove pits (Here is a nice explanation of how to go about getting the pit out. I live by method 2b, which is not really that tricky). Mash with a fork to desired consistency. Add remaining ingredients and adjust to fit your tastes. I've been toying with the idea of adding in a jalepeno or some cilantro, so that is an option as well.

Tomato Cream Sauce

Tonight for dinner I wanted something quick, easy and comforting. After a recent trip to Costco we now have a massive bag of frozen cheese ravioli, so I decided to whip up a nice sauce to compliment the pasta. When I come up with things on my own I don't measure anything out, so most of these are approximations, and you can really use more or less of everything depending on how much sauce you want. This made enough to serve with 15 jumbo ravioli with about 1.5 cups saved for use later.

All I had was half and half, and it seemed to curdle a tiny bit right after being put in the sauce. No biggy, it still worked out. This was also pretty spicy for me, but that's how the hubster likes it so I deal.

Tomato Cream Sauce
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
1 14 oz can stewed tomatoes
1-2 tbls tomato paste
1 8 oz can tomato sauce
1/4 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp crushed red pepper
1/4-1/2 cup half and half or heavy cream
2 tbls olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil and saute shallot and garlic until softened. Add all tomato ingredients and spices. Simmer for about 20 minutes until thickened slightly. Slowly add half and half and simmer for 5 more minutes. (you might not necessarily need to do all the simmering, I just like to because I think it makes the flavors come together better.)


Tuesday, July 7, 2009

S'mores Cake

My first blog post, yippee! Not the most appetizing picture, especially with the cat's anti-seizure meds in the background, but I promise this cake tasted good! I've gotten in the habit of bringing treats to work as often as I can, and I wanted to make something semi-festive for the 4th of July, so when I saw this cake I knew it had to be made. I found the recipe here. The comments in red are things I changed or had trouble with. This cake was definitely very sweet and should be consumed with a beverage of your choice. Also, as you can tell from the picture, my marshmallow creme pretty much melted out of the cake, and since I don't have two 9in pans I used a 9in and a 10in, resulting in cakes that were too flat.
S’mores Cake
Graham Cracker Cake
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla extract (I used about 1 1/2)
2 cups graham cracker crumbs*
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk (I used skim)
3 large egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 375F. Lightly grease two 9-inch cake pans (see opening paragraph) with cooking spray or oil and line with parchment paper (turn the pan upside down to trace the right size, cut out and line pan).In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light. Beat in egg yolks and vanilla extract.In a small bowl, whisk together graham cracker crumbs, baking powder, salt. Working in two or three additions, alternate stirring the graham cracker mixture and the milk into the butter mixture.Beat egg whites to soft peaks in a clean, medium-sized bowl. Working in 2 or three additions, fold egg whites into graham cracker mixture, mixing until no streaks of white remain.Divide evenly into prepared pans.Bake for about 20 minutes, or until cake springs back when lightly touched and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.Let cakes cool in pans for 3 minutes, then invert onto wire racks (remove parchment paper) to cool completely before filling and frosting.

To assemble: Place one layer of cake on a cake stand or serving platter. Spread about 1/2 cup of the chocolate frosting onto the cake, then spread the marshmallow creme into an even layer.Top marshmallow layer with second cake round, then pour remaining frosting over the top, spreading it into an even layer with an offset spatula and allowing it to drip slightly down the sides of the cake.Cake will set up quickly, and should be stored in the refrigerator if not being served shortly after being assembled.

Makes 1 9-inch cake, Serves 8-10

Marshmallow Filling and Milk Chocolate Frosting
1 7-oz jar marshmallow creme
8-oz milk chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup half and half/cream (half and half)
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp corn syrup

In a medium, microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate, half and half, butter and corn syrup until melted. Stir with a fork or small whisk to ensure that everything comes together smoothly. Proceed to assemble cake (above) once the frosting is prepared.
*If you grind your own grahams in the food processor, you’ll need about 20 graham cracker squares. I used a regular store brand, nothing fancy. Grind a little extra, so you don’t have to go try and process one by itself if you’re short.