How Do Bloggers Birthday? (Plus Recipes)

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Happy Birthday to Me!  So how does a food blogger celebrate her birthday?  Hint;  food will be involved, (too obvious?) and if she’s lucky, maybe some fun and games.  Last week I was in Maine for my birthday and a few of my peeps threw a goodmotherdiet party for me.  This theme was a sheer stroke of genius by friend and party planner extrordinaire, Kerri Eng (KGEvents) where all my guests brought dishes that have been featured on this blog. I was aware of the goodmotherdiet aspect but not what people were actually bringing, so each new dish was a surprise as well as a walk down memory lane.  I’m sharing the dishes that were prepared for the party as well as a link back to the original recipe, so if you feel inspired, feel free to make and send me a photo.

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Our evening began with a sunset cruise of Bear Pond on a pontoon boat featuring Mango Margaritas made by my friend, Rick from the original blog post: Mango Margaritas and Homemade Tortilla Chips with Grilled Pineapple Salsa

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While we cruised around the lake, we munched on a yummy Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart made by my friend, Karen, from the original recipe: Asparagus Goat Cheese Tart Karen was kind enough to make one without goat cheese for those who abstain (cough, my husband) which was also delicious.

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We also enjoyed a wonderful version of my Cranberry Jalapeno Cream Cheese Dip which had been ‘summerized’ by Kerri by substituting strawberries which are so sweet and delicious right now while cranberries are hard to find.  I love how the same recipe can be turned into a seasonal delight just by changing one ingredient.

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Alas, we finally had to leave the lake and head in to dinner where more goodies awaited.

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Dinner was a fabulous group effort. First up was deliciously spicy Salt and Pepper Shrimp with Garlic and Chile.  I believe that the crew of Kerri, Rick and Jason had to improvise with chile sauce since they didn’t have Chinese 5 Spice.  It was hotter and wetter than the original but delicious. Other substitutions for Chinese 5 Spice would be any combination of star anise, cloves, fennel seed, cinnamon, Sichuan peppercorns and a dash of Creole Seasoning, red pepper and chili powder.  You can’t go wrong and this effort proved it.

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But the ‘piece de resistance’ was the Maple Bourbon Glazed Salmon made lovingly by my son, Eric, and his sous chef, Hannah Grace.  I say lovingly because Eric is an experimental cook like I am, rarely following a recipe twice but this time he followed the recipe painstakingly in honor of the occasion with perfect results, even with our finicky oven.  This dish is a family favorite and a great main course to prepare for dinner parties as it take very little fuss and cooks quickly giving you time to enjoy your own party.

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Eric and Hannah Grace also served a platter of perfectly roasted veggies, including eggplant, red and yellow peppers, yellow squash, zucchini and mushrooms.

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No dinner is complete without a fabulous salad like this Caesar Salad made by my friend, Geof, who went to the trouble to make his own dressing and homemade croutons.  Yum! Marjie brought a delicious carrot cake which wasn’t from my blog but then I don’t make many desserts.  Hmmm, maybe that will change…

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Then the fun and games portion of the evening began with a hotly contested game of FAMILY FEUD hosted by our own ‘Richard Dawson’.  The ‘girls’ squeaked out a narrow victory over the ‘boys’ in spite of the fact that I missed the last of the ‘Top 7 Barnyard Sounds’ by answering Meow instead of Cluck, which if you know that I am also know as the Chicken Lady that is pretty funny. (Check out Mrs Vs Rescue Chickens )  In my defense, my mother in law had already said cock a doodle doo so I figured chickens were taken.  Sigh…  Then on to music.  This photo taken before fab musician, Peter arrived.

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During dinner, my son gave a very sweet birthday toast and then asked me how it felt to see so many of my recipes come to life and if it was intimidating.  Surprisingly, I found it very validating as a blogger, especially one who is not experienced at creating recipes (which is harder than you might think).  All of the recipes were a success, even those that were adapted to accommodate seasonal ingredients or availability.  Whew!  I suppose it could have been a disaster, but it was sure fun.  For someone whose Mom always had to scrape up enough neighborhood kids that were in town in July to make it seem like a birthday party, I feel pretty lucky. (I’m sure other summer birthday people know what I’m talking about) Maybe I’ll celebrate the whole month…

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Crab Bisque with Sherry

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Recipes are back – and this bowl of velvety goodness is ready in less than 30 minutes!! You may have noticed that I had gone radio silent, but since mid summer I’ve been in Techno-Hell. I knew I was in trouble in July when I heard my cell phone buzzing and read the message “DELETING”…  Six days later, my computer was hacked and I lost several blog posts which were in progress, including homemade tomato sauce, pickles and making cauliflower breadsticks among others. ( I had just spent three weeks picking everything in my garden and having fun with my canner.)

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Then my cell phone provider forced an update which torched my new phone and the two subsequent phone(s) wiped themselves clean three times; no photos, no contacts and no apps, just empty phones.  As a result, Goodmotherdiet has been on a sort of forced ‘vacation’ while I worked on rebuilding my  contacts and recreating some of the lost recipes. More soon…

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I created this recipe for Crab Bisque this summer while I was in Maine. (Yes, it was one that was deleted) My friend, Kerry, opened a bottle of chardonnay that had caramelized and she asked me to come up with a recipe to use it up.  I thought the ‘aged’ wine tasted quite a bit like sherry, so I developed this recipe for Crab Bisque with Sherry, but this might be a good time to use a wine you have that has gone over the top. (Just taste it first).  I also had the further restriction that my husband dislikes food made with heavy cream, so I used a combination of coconut milk and fish stock with surprisingly good results. As a bonus, coconut milk is highly nutritious and rich in fiber, vitamins C, E, B1, B3, B5 and B6 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorous. Unlike cow’s milk, coconut milk is lactose free and dairy free which is a great alternative. Best of all, this recipe is ready in less than 30 minutes but only gets better as it sits and the flavors meld.  It’s also good the next day if you are lucky enough to have leftovers.

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Tips:  Bisques are known for their rich, creamy and smooth texture, so I pureed the shallots in my food processor before sauteeing.  If you prefer a chunkier soup, skip this step and mince or chop the shallots with a sharp knife. Fresh crabmeat is always wonderful, however, if you can’t find it frozen or refrigerated lump crabmeat is a decent option for soup and it is much easier than cracking and deshelling fresh crab.

Old Bay is a ubiquitous seasoning, especially in the South.  It is readily available in most supermarkets, however, if you don’t have it in your pantry, try substituting celery salt, red and black pepper and paprika.

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CRAB BISQUE WITH SHERRY

  • 3 Tbsn butter or vegan butter
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • 3 Tbsn flour or potato starch (optional thickener)
  • 4 cups fish, clam or veggie stock (2 cans)
  • 2 cans regular coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Old Bay spice
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen lump crabmeat
  • 1⁄2 cup dry sherry (plus more for drizzling)
  • parsley (for garnish)

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  • Puree shallots until fine (for a smooth soup)

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  • In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.

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  • Stir in flour until smooth but don’t let it burn

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  • Pour in the stock, coconut milk and Old Bay seasoning and bring to a simmer.

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  • Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat and the sherry. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Don’t let it boil) Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.

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  • Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of Old Bay, parsley and a drizzle of sherry . Serve immediately.

Crab Bisque with Sherry

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 3 Tbsn butter or vegan butter
  • 3 large shallots, minced
  • 3 Tbsn flour or potato starch (optional)
  • 5 cups fish, clam or veggie stock
  • 2 cans regular coconut milk
  • 1 tsp Old Bay spice
  • 1 lb. fresh or frozen lump crabmeat
  • 1⁄2 cup dry sherry (plus more for drizzling)
  • parsley (for garnish)

 

  1. Puree shallots until fine (for a smooth soup)
  2. In a large soup pot over medium heat, melt the butter and saute the shallots until translucent, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in flour until smooth but don’t let it burn
  4. Pour in the stock, coconut milk and Old Bay seasoning and bring to a simmer.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and stir in the crabmeat and the sherry. Cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. (Don’t let it boil)
  6. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of Old Bay, parsley and a drizzle of sherry . Serve immediately.

Wheatless Wednesday – Easy Roasted Sole with Lemon & Capers

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Easy and delicious! Forget fussing over fancy sauces or breading and frying.  This is a winner in every way! Delicate fillets of sole roasted in a sauce of lemon, capers, parsley, green onions and butter (of course). Best of all, it is ready in less than half hour and  it’s  such a pretty dish, your family will be impressed.

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I pretty much love anything that is cooked with lemon, butter, garlic and fresh herbs, so it’s no surprise that I liked this dish so much.  I mean, how can you go wrong?  Just toss it all together, throw it in the oven and voila! Dinner is served.  I served the sole with sauteed spinach and a combination of long grain brown and wild rice, which was great in sopping up the yummy lemon butter and provided fiber along with bumping up the nutrients.

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We all know that fish is a good, lean source of protein that is low in calories and fat but high in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin B. When deciding to prepare fish, make sure it comes from a sustainable source.  Seafood Watch is a great source of information on purchasing seafood that is fished or farmed in ways that have less of an impact on the environment and the species.  They recommend that the Best Choice is to buy sole from the Western United States and The Gulf of Alaska.

TIPS:  If you can’t find sole, you can substitute another light fish, like flounder or seabass. Sole is very thin so most people will eat 2 or 3 fillets, so gauge your audience and their appetites.  You can also substitute shallots for the sliced green onions and chives for the slivered scallions, if need be.  Non dairy people can successfully use a non-dairy butter  that has been cultured, like Miyoko’s.  This is an easy company dish that can be prepared before guests arrive and roasted just before salads are served.  If you platter the sole, make sure you save the yummy juice to pour over side dishes or vegetables.

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EASY OVEN ROASTED SOLE

  • 1.5 lb Sole fillets (about a dozen thin fillets)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 Tbsn parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
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  • Zest lemon and then squeeze the juice.

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  • In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil and melted butter, garlic, salt and pepper.

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  • Rinse and dry fish fillets and arrange them in a single layer in a large oiled baking pan.  Overlapping is fine if you need to fit them in the pan.

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  • Pour the lemon butter sauce over the fish.

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  • Slice half of the scallions into thin circles and slice the rest in half vertically and then into thin julienne slivers.
  • Sprinkle the fish with capers, parsley, lemon zest and green onion circles. Top with lemon slices and scallion slivers.

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  • Roast at 400 degrees F-heated oven for 10-15 minutes. Broil the last 5 minutes. (Yes, it’s done.  Don’t overcook!)

 

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  • Remove from the oven and serve warm. (That’s my plate.  You can tell I like my greens…)

Easy Oven Roasted Sole with Lemon and Capers

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 1.5 lb Sole fillets (about a dozen thin fillets)
  • 1 lemon, juice and zest
  • 1 lemon, sliced
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ cup butter, melted
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 4 green onions
  • 1 small bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  1. Zest lemon and then squeeze the juice. In a small bowl, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, garlic and melted butter.
  2. Rinse and dry fish fillets and arrange them in a single layer in a large oiled baking pan.  Overlapping is fine if you need to fit them in the pan. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour the lemon butter sauce over the fish.
  4. Slice half of the scallions into thin circles and slice the rest in half vertically and then into thin julienne slivers.
  5. Sprinkle the fish with capers, lemon zest, green onion circles and parsley.
  6. Top with lemon slices and scallion slivers.
  7. Roast at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Broil the last 5 minutes.
  8. Remove from the oven and serve warm.

Blackened Rainbow Fish Tacos with Spicy Avocado Sauce

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Looking for healthy and delicious goodies to serve at the Superbowl Halftime?  These yummy Blackened Fish Tacos will not disappoint.  They can be served as a make-it-yourself Taco Bar or as pre-made sliders to serve a large crowd and they are really fun, with a colorful topping of Rainbow ‘slaw’ that includes fresh sweet mango, avocado, black beans and jalapeno, and topped with a dollop of Spicy Avocado Sauce.  I like to include black beans in the slaw.  Their earthy saltiness adds a nice contrast to the crunchy sweet and spice of the rest of the fruits and veggies.  Plus the addition of black beans allows vegetarians or non-fish eaters to make delicious and satisfying tacos too. I know nutrition is not the top priority of SuperBowl cuisine, but you can rest assured that these tacos will be popular and pack a huge nutrional punch without all the extra calories.

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Well the good news is that Punxatawny Phil didn’t see his shadow yesterday on GroundHog Day, which means Spring will come early this year, although I’m not sure that Phil is a trustworthy predictor of spring.  In fact, according to the StormFax Almanac Phil has been right only 39 percent of the time. Since his first prediction in 1887, Phil has seen his shadow 102 times and not seen it on just 18 occasions, including this year.  I guess Spring will come when it comes but I can’t wait.  I know we need the rain in California but…

I love Mexican food, especially tacos!  The spicier the better in my book.  Halibut makes a great taco base since it’s mild in flavor and really picks up the wow of the spices.  It’s also firm in texture so it doesn’t turn to mush or fall apart in the taco even when you add multiple toppings. I used the smaller, slider sized, corn tortillas which are fun for large gatherings, if you can find them, like the Superbowl.  That way I get to eat two for the price of one… yum!  I also liked the way this avocado sauce set itself apart from guacamole (which I also love) and doesn’t include any sour cream or other fatty fillers, just lots of lovely flavor.  For a spicier sauce, include more jalapeno and some of the seeds.  The honey is added to offset the acidity of the apple cider vinegar and lime juice, not to make it sweet.  Of course, you could always omit the honey if you like it tangy.  For a creamier sauce, substitute yogurt and a little water for the vinegar.  It’s hard to go wrong with avocado, so feel free to experiment.

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TIPS:  To easily cut a mango into chunks, slice the mango lengthwise, on the flat side just to the right of the large pit.  Cut the fleshy part of the mango lengthwise and then crosswise (without cutting into the skin) and invert mango to expose mango sections.  Then easily cut off mango cubes.  The avocado sauce and the rainbow/mango topping can be made ahead of time and refrigerated.  I found that both Rainbow Slaw and Avocado Sauce held up really well overnight in the refrigerator.

For more SuperBowl recipes, check out my blog post this Friday. Cheers!

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BLACKENED RAINBOW FISH TACOS

2 lbs halibut, skin removed (or other mild fish)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Blackened Old Bay (optional)
1 tsp salt
8 corn tortillas (or 16 slider sized)
1 cup queso fresco (optional)

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RAINBOW MANGO TOPPING (Makes a generous salad/can easily be halved)

1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded or chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)

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SPICY AVOCADO SAUCE

1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)
1-2 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Wash halibut filets and pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a shallow container.

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  • Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt in a small bowl.

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  • Sprinkle spice mixture over halibut and stir to cover evenly and set aside.

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  • Place all Rainbow Mango ingredients in a serving bowl and toss to combine.

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  • Place all Avocado Sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth. Start with just one tablespoon of honey and then adjust according to taste.  Pour into a serving bowl (top with avocado pit to keep from turning brown).

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  • Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 250 degree oven.  Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, cast iron if possible, until quite hot.  Add halibut to hot pan and cook several minutes, stirring to sear all sides.  Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.

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  • Assemble tacos, by placin a few pieces of halibut in each tortilla and a spoonful of Rainbow Mango Topping.  Top with a drizzle of Spicy Avocado Sauce

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Blackened Rainbow Fish Tacos with Spicy Avocado Sauce

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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BLACKENED RAINBOW FISH TACOS

2 lbs halibut, skin removed (or other mild fish)
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 Tbsn cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp Blackened Old Bay (optional)
1 tsp salt
8 corn tortillas (or 16 slider sized)
1 cup queso fresco (optional)

RAINBOW MANGO TOPPING

1 avocado, diced
1/2 mango, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 red onion, diced
1 cup purple cabbage, shredded
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 jalapeno, diced
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)

SPICY AVOCADO SAUCE

1 ripe avocado
1 jalapeno (with or without seeds)
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup cilantro
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lime, juiced (2-3 Tbsn)
2 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
salt and pepper to taste

  • Wash halibut filets and pat dry.  Cut into bite sized pieces and place in a shallow container.
  • Combine chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, Old Bay and salt in a small bowl and sprinkle over halibut and stir to cover evenly and set aside.
  • Place all Rainbow Mango ingredients in a serving bowl and toss to combine.
  • Place all Avocado Sauce ingredients in a blender or food processor and process until smooth.  Pour into a serving bowl (top with avocado pit to keep from turning brown).
  • Wrap tortillas in foil and heat in a 250 degree oven.
  • Heat olive oil in a heavy pan, cast iron if possible, until quite hot.  Add halibut to hot pan and cook several minutes, stirring to sear all sides.  Remove from heat to prevent overcooking.
  • Assemble tacos, by placin a few pieces of halibut in each tortilla and a spoonful of Rainbow Mango Topping.  Top with a drizzle of Spicy Avocado Sauce

Pan Seared Halibut with Lemon Caper Sauce over Roasted Fennel and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

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One might think with the dearth of posts from Goodmotherdiet that I am still on vacation, or at least being very lazy.  Well the truth is that I was on a lovely vacation with our friends, Bob and Julie, in beautiful Anguilla (part of the British Virgin Islands)  where we enjoyed 82 degrees every day, long beach walks, bike rides through the countryside, yoga overlooking the ocean and mango margaritas at sunset. Yes, we were spoiled AND it was so nice to get out of the rain! I flew back several days ago, however, my suitcase, in a rogue attempt to extend it’s vacation in the tropics, stayed behind in St. Maarten.  Nestled in among my bathing suits and beach wraps was, you guessed it,  my laptop charge cord.  I had my laptop but without power it was very hard to use.  Rest assured that I do have several new recipes to post, once I get the photos downloaded and recipes written.  So stay tuned for Pasta with Parm Roasted Cauliflower and Power Greens and a Tofu Noodle Bowl.  The beauty of this guilt inspired post though is that it is really a triple whammie, three recipes that I think all work well together, but you can pick and choose at will.  Make just one or all three!

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I love this flavor combination. Halibut is a mild but flavorful fish with a really great texture that is gets crispy golden on the outside and light and flaky on the inside when pan roasted.  Served over the top of roasted fennel and creamy, smooth garlic mashed potatoes with the delicious and savory lemon caper sauce drizzled over the top of everything…heaven!  The halibut recipe is easy and fast.  The halibut cooks in about 6 minutes and the sauce takes another 5 minutes and there is very little prep work.  Add a salad and dinner can definitely be on the table in 15 minutes!  The fennel and mashed potatoes take a little longer but are totally worth it.

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I love fennel, both raw in salads and cooked, but my favorite preparation is simply roasted with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  Fennel has a very elegant taste and has a delicate but sweet flavor when roasted. If you slice the bulbs into ‘steaks’, it is a very pretty presentation too. I’ll bet you didn’t know (I didn’t either) that fennel is in the carrot family. I would not have guessed that little fun fact.  Fennel is thought to have many health benefits and has been used in natural remedies since ancient times.  It is loaded with nutrients; iron, phosphorous, calcium, magnesium, manganese, zinc and vitamin K content present in fennel all contribute to building and maintaining bone structure and strength, so ladies in particular, take note.

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TIPS: I have written this as three separate recipes and you should be able to print them that way.  If you want to make all three (which I recommend), start by roasting the garlic and getting the potatoes boiling.  Then slice the fennel, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with spices and put that in the oven with the garlic. Finish off the mashed potatoes and take the fennel out of the oven and set aside.  Pan sear the halibut, make the sauce and dinner is served! Note:  garlic can be roasted way ahead of time and left to cool.

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PAN ROASTED HALIBUT WITH LEMON CAPER SAUCE

  • 4 Halibut fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 Tbsn butter
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 1 Tbsn parsley, chopped

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  • Season both sides of fillets with salt, pepper and Old Bay, if using. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat until very hot. Place halibut fillets in pan and sear for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 2-3.

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  • Remove from heat and loosely cover to keep warm.

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  • Lower heat and add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes, until thickened.

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  • Stir in the capers, parsley and lemon zest, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

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  • Transfer fish to serving plates and spoon sauce over the top.

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ROASTED FENNEL

  • 2 large bulbs fennel
  • 1-2 Tbsn olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian Seasoning

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  • Remove fennel stalk and cut lengwise into thick slices.

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  • Brush or spray both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.

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  • Roast at 425 degrees, turning once for about 25 minutes.

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GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk )
  • 3 Tbsn butter
  • salt to taste

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  • Slice top off of garlic bulb, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about an hour.  Remove from heat and let cool.

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  • Peel potatoes and cut them into chunks.  Boil about 20 minutes, or until very soft.  Drain potatoes and place them in a large bowl.  Squeeze garlic into potatoes and puree using a potato masher or food processor.
  • Add milk, butter and salt and pulse or stir to combine.

 

Pan Roasted Haliut with Lemon Caper Sauce

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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PAN ROASTED HALIBUT WITH LEMON CAPER SAUCE

  • 4 Halibut fillets
  • 1/2 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning (optional)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsn butter
  • 2 Tbsn olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large lemon (about 1/4 cup lemon juice)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (optional)
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • 2 Tbsn capers
  • 1 Tbsn parsley, chopped
  • Season both sides of fillets with salt, pepper and Old Bay, if using. Heat olive oil and butter in a large pan over medium heat until very hot.
  • Place halibut fillets in pan and sear for 3-4 minutes, then flip and cook the other side for another 2-3.
  • Remove from heat and loosely cover to keep warm.
  • Lower heat and add the garlic and cook until fragrant. 2-3 minutes. Add lemon juice and wine and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and let simmer 5 minutes, until thickened.
  • Stir in the capers, parsley and lemon zest, taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.
  • Transfer to serving plates and spoon sauce over the top.

Roasted Fennel

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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ROASTED FENNEL

  • 2 large bulbs fennel
  • 1-2 Tbsn olive oil (or olive oil spray)
  • 1/4 tsp salt and 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano or Italian Seasoning
  • Remove fennel stalk and cut lengwise into thick slices.
  • Brush or spray both sides with olive oil and sprinkle with oregano, salt and pepper.
  • Roast at 425 degrees, turning once for about 25 minutes.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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GARLIC MASHED POTATOES

  • 2 large russet potatoes
  • 1 head garlic
  • 1/2 cup milk (or almond milk )
  • 3 Tbsn butter
  • salt to taste
  • Slice top off of garlic bulb, exposing the cloves.  Drizzle with olive oil and wrap in foil.  Bake at 425 degrees for about an hour.  Remove from heat and let cool.
  • Peel potatoes and cut them into chunks.  Boil about 20 minutes, or until very soft.
  • Drain potatoes and place them in a large bowl.  Squeeze garlic into potatoes and puree using a potato masher or food processor.
  • Add milk, butter and salt and stir to combine.

Wheatless Wednesday – Chili Prawn Linguine with Wilted Greens

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Shrimp is America’s number one seafood, beating out salmon, crab, clams, tilapia and even canned tuna.  I can take or leave shrimp but my family really loves it so I do prepare it occasionally.  Even I really liked this savory Chili Prawn Pasta with Wilted Greens. This is an elegant and tasty dish worthy of company or a special dinner, but it’s deceptively easy and fast. If you buy pre-shelled shrimp, the prep time is very short and dinner can be ready in the time it takes to boil the pasta. Now that is what I call fast food!

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Pasta is often thought of as empty carbs but that is not completely true. In processing traditional pasta the bran layer and oil-rich germ is removed which gives an indefinite shelf life, a quick cooking time, a familiar texture and a mild, versatile flavor. Depending on the type, however, 50 to 90 percent of a grain’s nutrients and phytonutrients are removed during processing. To address this substantial loss of nutrients, the United States government requires refined flour to be enriched with specific vitamins and minerals, including iron and the B vitamins folic acid, thiamine, riboflavin and niacin, so it may not be as bad as you think.  Whole-grain pasta is an excellent source of B vitamins and iron, which occur naturally and provides significantly higher levels of essential trace minerals and fiber.  The most common whole-grain pastas are made from whole wheat or buckwheat, but there are many new combinations available now made with brown rice, quinoa, spelt, farro and kamut which are good gluten free options.  I tried a new multi-grain pasta for this dish, made with red quinoa and amaranth.  I liked the flavor but be warned that some whole grain pastas can get sticky if overcooked. I always save a cup of pasta water before draining and then adding some of it back to prevent the pasta from sticking together. Some whole grain pasta, this one included, don’t increase in volume when cooked so I had to double the quantity of dry pasta.

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So how does the nutrition of traditional pasta made with refined flour stack up with whole grain pasta?  A 1-cup serving of plain, cooked enriched spaghetti provides 221 calories, 8.1 grams of protein, 1.3 grams of fat and 43.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which 2.5 grams are fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. By comparison, 1 cup of cooked whole-wheat spaghetti has 174 calories, about 7.5 grams of protein, less than 1 gram of fat and 37.2 grams of carbohydrates, of which 6.3 grams are fiber — an amount equivalent to 25 percent of the daily value for fiber. ( HealthyEating.SFGate)  Surprisingly, refined pasta is not a bad choice (thanks to the US government), so I no longer feel guilty when digging into a big plate of pasta in a restaurant.  When I cook at home, though, I prefer to use whole grains.

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NOTES ON SHRIMP AND PRAWNS:  When buying shrimp, look for wild vs farmed shrimp, if possible, and pay attention to where they are from.  According to Seafood Watch, wild-caught shrimp is generally a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” with the exception of shrimp fisheries in Mexico and Thailand, which are on the “Avoid” list for poor management. Most “Best Choice” shrimp is caught in Alaska, but there are other great farmed and wild options. Buy these first, then look for a “Good Alternative” like U.S. Gulf of Mexico shrimp. Only buy imported shrimp if you’re sure it’s from a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative” source. Heads up: You’re good to go if the shrimp is caught in a way that reduces harm to sea turtles. Also, over 90% of our shrimp is imported. Farmed shrimp from the U.S. is also a good option.  However, 90% of our shrimp is imported farmed shrimp, mostly from Asia, and is generally on the “Avoid” list due to questionable practices including overcrowding, chemicals, poor quality of food and even abusive labor conditions. So even though they are likely to be more expensive than farmed, wild-caught shrimp are also better for you. Go to Seafood Watch for a current listing of shrimp fishing practices around the world.

TIPS:  The shelling process is not difficult but does take a bit of effort.  You can shorten the prep time by about 10 minutes by purchasing prawns that have already been shelled and deveined. Just make sure the tails have been left on for best presentation.  Don’t skip the step of drying the prawns or your shrimp won’t sear properly and might curl into tight little balls when you cook them instead of keeping their gorgeous traditional shape.

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CHILI PRAWN LINGUINE WITH WILTED GREENS

  • 2 lbs raw prawns
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti (wheat or gluten-free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • fresh red chillies, sliced thinly (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil), chopped (optional)

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  • Shell and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. There are two veins that should be removed; a white one that you remove along with the legs and a black one (usually) along the back that can be removed with a sharp knife.  The black vein (poopy vein) especially gets gritty when cooked.

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  • Dry prawns on a layer of papertowels.

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  • Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, according to instructions, until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add a bit of pasta water if pasta seems dry or sticky. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook prawns, without crowding, just until they just change colour.

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  • Turn to cook the other side and remove from pan and loosely cover. I love Tony’s Creole Seasoning with prawns, so I sprinkle a pinch on them while cooking but this is not necessary if you don’t have it.

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  • Heat remaining oil in same frying pan. Cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant.

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  • Stir in greens and saute until slightly wilted. Taste and add salt and more red pepper, if desired.

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  • Put prawns, reserved cooking liquid and greens mixture in with pasta. Toss to combine, top with fresh herbs and serve immediately.

Chile Prawn Linguine with Wilted Greens

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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  • 2 lbs raw prawns
  • 8 oz linguine or spaghetti (wheat or gluten free if desired)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp Creole Seasoning (optional)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, sliced thinly
  • fresh red chillies, sliced thinly (or 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes)
  • 3 cups fresh greens (spinach, kale, arugula, etc)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsn fresh mixed herbs (parsley, oregano, thyme or basil), chopped (optional)
  1. Shell and devein prawns, leaving tails intact. Make sure to remove the vein along the back as well with a sharp knife.
  2. Dry prawns on a layer of papertowels.
  3. Cook pasta in large saucepan of boiling water, according to instructions, until just tender. Reserve 1 cup of pasta cooking water then drain pasta and return it to the pan. Add a bit of pasta water if pasta seems dry or sticky.
  4. Meanwhile, heat half the oil in large frying pan. Cook prawns, without crowding, just until they just change colour. Turn to cook the other side and remove from pan and loosely cover. I love Tony’s Creole Seasoning with prawns, so I sprinkle a pinch on them while cooking but this is not necessary if you don’t have it.
  5. Heat remaining oil in same frying pan. Cook garlic and chilli, stirring, until fragrant.
  6. Stir in greens and saute until slightly wilted. Taste and add salt and more red pepper, if desired.
  7. Put prawns, reserved cooking liquid and greens mixture in with pasta. Toss to combine, top with fresh herbs and serve immediately.
 

Wheatless Wednesday – Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

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I love Autumn salads which are a bit heartier than those we enjoy in summer.  With the advent of chilly evenings, we need more tummy-filling ingredients to keep us warm and satisfied.  It also helps that bikinis are soon to become a distant memory (unless you’re going on a tropical vacation).  I really like adding either grains or legumes to salads, especially if they are the main course and French green lentils are a favorite.  In creating this salad, I started with a bed of frisee which adds texture and interest, then a layer of French green lentils, tomatoes and oranges topped with warm seared scallops.  A final drizzle of mustard vinaigrette completes the dish. To make this dish vegan, substitute sliced hearts of palm instead of scallops. I don’t know how hearts of palm are when seared, so would recommend using them raw unless you are up for a challenge. It could be worth a try, though.  They sure worked well as a meat alternative in my Pulled ‘Pork’ Sliders. I may have to try…

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Frisee is an under-appreciated green, at least in the Univted States.  Frisee, also called curly endive, is part of the chicory family, along with Belgian endive, radicchio, and escarole.  Frisee is packed with nutrients, and very low in calories like most greens. It is an excellent source of folic acid, vitamin A and vitamin C, with approximately one third the daily recommended amount of each, in a single serving. It is also a good source of vitamin K, and manganese. It’s slightly bitter and nutty flavor makes it a nice addition to salads but it works best mixed with milder greens or with complementary flavors like sweet citrus, earthy lentils and a tangy vinaigrette.

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I often use French green lentils (De Puy) which I think are the most flavorful and they keep their shape when cooked, unlike red lentils which are soft and split open, making them perfect for soups and stews.  Brown lentils, which are the most commonly available, can be substituted.  Just be careful not to overcook as they also can become too soft.  Lentils not only delicious, they are high in protein, low in fat and are a good source of fiber and vitamins and minerals, including iron.

TIPS: When purchasing scallops, try to buy dry sea scallops.  Scallops are often labelled ‘dry’ or ‘wet’.  If they aren’t labelled, ask. ‘Wet’ scallops are treated with a solution called STP (sodium tripolyphosphate), which helps the scallops maintain their moisture. The STP solution gives scallops a longer shelf life and keeps them plump and fresh looking. As a result, you’ll not only pay for the added water weight (meaning you get fewer scallops per pound and possibly scallops that are less than fresh)  In addition, you’ll also have trouble browning these scallops—no matter how hot your pan—because of all that excess moisture. If you have had trouble browning scallops in the past, this could be the reason. You will still rinse and dry your scallops which shouldn’t effect the browning as long you dry them well with paper towels.

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WARM SCALLOP SALAD WITH LENTILS AND FRISEE

1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

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  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.

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  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.

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  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.

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  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.

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  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.

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  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.

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  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.

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  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad. Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

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Warm Scallop Salad with Lentils and Frisee

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
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 1 lb large sea scallops
1/2 cup French green lentils
2 ripe tomatoes
1 orange
3-4 scallions, sliced
1 head frisee
2 Tbsn olive oil
salt

VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt (or to taste)
1/8 tsp pepper

  • Cook lentils as directed but don’t over cook.  They should be al dente.  Pour off any excess water, remove from heat and set aside to cool with lid off.
  • Slice tomatoes into wedges.  Peel oranges and slice into rounds and then halves.
  • Pull frisee apart and place in one a large platter or bowl.
  • Spread cooled lentils over frisee.
  • Top with tomatoes, orange slices and scallions.
  • Whisk all vinaigrette ingredients together in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry scallops. Heat olive oil over medium high heat until the pan is very hot. Arrange scallops in a single layer, uncrowded.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Cook about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes and flip to cook the other side for another 1 1/2 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and place on top of salad.
  • Sprinkle with vinaigrette and serve immediately.

 

Grilled Salmon with Salsa Verde

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HERE is what’s on the grill this weekend.  It’s EASY, FAST AND YOUR GUESTS WILL LOVE YOU!  I am eating more plant based foods and  less seafood these days but salmon is still a favorite.  This version is roasted or grilled over high heat and topped with a deliciously spicy  Italian Salsa Verde aka Magic Green Sauce.  I can’t say enough about this tasty green sauce made with fresh parsley, thyme and jalapeno peppers combined with capers, lemon and olive oil.  Yum!  This amazing sauce would be great on anything grilled or roasted, including veggie skewers or tofu.  It’s that good!

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The beauty of this preparation is that once you have made the green sauce and sprinkled the salmon with fresh herbs, scallions, capers and lemon, all of which only takes about ten minutes, it can all sit until you are ready to cook.  Refrigerate if you won’t be cooking for a while. I was curious, so I let my fingers do the walking.  According to FDA , ‘raw seafood can sit at room temperature for no more than 2 hours or 1 hour if room temperature is 90 degrees or more.’   Then when you are ready, just pop the salmon into a hot oven or grill and in ten minutes or less – perfection!   I have made this salmon preparation several times now.  The first time I grilled it skin side down on a hot grill.  I was just cooking for my family and forgot to take photos before we ate, but once I tasted the results I knew I would be making again and again.  The next time I roasted two sides of salmon with salsa verde for a party of about 16 women.  It was a 90 degree day in a house with no air conditioning so I decided to roast the salmon on the grill and not heat up the kitchen any further.  Since I was dealing with two large unwieldy sides of salmon, I roasted them in the roasting pan right on the grill with great results.  With the lid closed, the grill became an effective outdoor oven.   The salmon in these photos was skinless  which I roasted in the ovenat 450 for about five minutes and then broiled for several more minutes.  All three cooking techniques yielded great results, so take your pick.

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As always when selecting seafood, to get the best in nutrition as well as being good to the planet, know where your food is from.  Make sure that you are buying fish or shellfish that is sustainably raised or caught.  An easy way to access the most current information is to check with  Seafood Watch and enter “Salmon” or any other seafood you are considering.  Currently Seafood Watch has this to say about salmon:  “Salmon is one of the most commonly eaten fish in North America. Wild-caught salmon is generally a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” but if you’re considering farmed salmon, try to find out where it comes from. While there are several more sustainable sources, most farmed salmon is on the “Avoid” list. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies some salmon fisheries as sustainable.”

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TIPS:  I recommend pre-slicing the salmon before cooking for ease of serving and presentation.  Often a side of salmon gets hacked up by well intentioned people trying to serve themselves. By making cuts ahead of time, you ensure that each slice is perfectly sized for your crowd and ready to serve.  If the skin is on, you don’t have to slice through the skin which can be very tough to do.  The cooked salmon will slide right off the skin.  Salmon can be grilled or roasted in several ways.  If the skin is on, salmon can be placed, skin side down, on a hot grill and cooked with the lid closed 8 to 10 minutes.  Salmon without the skin is easy to roast in the oven at 450 for about 5 minutes and then broiling several more minutes.  Salmon can also be roasted on the grill, which is great on hot summer days when you don’t want to heat up the kitchen.  Just heat the grill until very hot and then place the salmon in the roasting pan in the grill and cook with the lid down 8 to 10 minutes.

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Recipe Adapted From:  The Best of Fine Cooking – Summer Eats 2015

GRILLED SALMON WITH SALSA VERDE

1 1/2 lb salmon (preferably skin on)
1 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp parsley, minced
1 scallion, minced
1 tsp capers, drained
1 lemon, juice and zest

SALSA VERDE

1/2 cup olive oil
3 scallions, green and white parts
1/4 cup fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsn capers, drained
1-2 jalapeno or serrano chilis, stem and seeds removed
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4+ tsp salt
1/8+ tsp pepper

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  • To prepare the salsa verde most easily, process the scallions, thyme and chilis in a food processor until finely minced. Or finely mince by hand with a sharp knife.  Add olive oil and process until smooth.  Transfer to a small bowl and add capers, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.  Set aside.

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  • Rinse and dry the salmon and place skin side down on a large pan or aluminum foil that has been coated with olive oil. Pre-slice individual portions if desired.  (You don’t have to cut through the skin)

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  • Brush salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, parsley, scallion, capers, lemon juice and zest.

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  • Grill skin side down on high heat with the lid down 8 to 10 minutes. (Or alternately, see TIPS for oven roasting options) Salmon is done when top is golden, slices start to pull apart and fat collects on top.  Don’t overcook.

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  • Remove from heat and drizzle with some of  the salsa verde.  Serve with more salsa verde on the side.

Grilled Salmon with Salsa Verde

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150805_211410

1 1/2 lb salmon (preferably skin on)
1 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp parsley, minced
1 scallion, minced
1 tsp capers, drained
1 lemon, juice and zest

SALSA VERDE

1/2 cup olive oil
3 scallions
1/4 cup fresh thyme
2 Tbsn capers, drained
1-2 jalapeno or serrano chilis
1 lemon, juice and zest
1/4+ tsp salt
1/8+ tsp pepper

  • To prepare the salsa verde most easily, process the scallions, thyme and chilis in a food processor until finely minced. Or mince by hand.  Add olive oil and process until smooth.  Transfer to a small bowl and add capers, lemon juice and zest, salt and pepper.  Set aside.
  • Rinse and dry the salmon and place on a large platter or aluminum foil skin side down.
  • Pre-slice individual portions if desired.  (You don’t have to cut through the skin) Brush salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with thyme, parsley, scallion, capers, lemon juice and zest.
  • Grill skin side down on high heat with the lid down 8 to 10 minutes. (Or alternately, roast in a pan at 450)
  • Remove from heat and drizzle with some of  the salsa verde.  Serve with more salsa verde on the side.

 

 

 

Wheatless Wednesday – Warm Scallop Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

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Looking for something light and summery – and FAST to make for dinner?  How about a warm scallop salad with perfectly seared sea scallops over a bed of mixed greens, avocado and, I’m in Maine – so blueberries.  Top all of this with a spicy, sweet mango vinaigrette for a lovely summery taste sensation.  Best of all, you can whip this up in 20 minutes or less, depending on how fast you are at putting things together – five minutes or so to make the salad, another five to make the mango vinaigrette and then the scallops only take 3 minutes to cook.  Done and delicious!

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Scallops are a great choice for seafood lovers.  They are not only delicious  but low in calories and high in protein.  They are excellent sources of Vitamin B12 and omega3 fats.  Sea scallops are also a good environmental choice.  According to  Seafood Watch, wild-caught scallops are a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” depending on where and how they’re harvested.  Worldwide, farmed scallops are a “Best Choice” because farming methods have little impact on the surrounding environment, however, some countries have questionable farming methods, so I would check before buying.

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I happened upon this mango vinaigrette when I noticed I had some leftover sliced mango that needed to be used up and thought it would make a tasty salad dressing. I grew up with homemade dressing (Thanks Mom!) so I usually make my own.  You will rarely see me pulling a bottle of store-bought dressing from the fridge.  Truly spoiled. I just don’t like that bottled taste they all have. Making it fresh is so worth the extra few minutes, however, if you have a dressing you love, go for it.  With a fruity dressing, I like to pair something savory or spicy like jalapeno or, in this case, red Fresno chili pepper, which also adds a nice color to the vinaigrette.  This otherwise simple dressing also has oil and lemon juice with a sprinkle of salt and pepper.  It was great paired with the greens and warm scallops.  It would also be tasty on grilled shrimp or fish.  Sometimes simpler is better as you can taste each and every flavor.

TIPS:  If blueberries are not available where you are, substitute another fruit, like ripe peaches, or sliced red or yellow bell pepper.  You can use fresh or frozen (defrosted) mango slices or chunks.  If you are using a fresh mango, click HERE for a short video on how to cut a mango from cooking pro Martha Stewart, herself.  It’s easy and brilliant.  If you are still struggling to remove the large mango seed, you should check it out.

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WARM SCALLOP SALAD

1 large bunch of mixed greens, bib lettuce or baby spinach
3/4 cup fresh blueberries OR 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
2-3 spring onions or large scallions, sliced
1 1/4 pounds+ dry sea scallops, (4-6 per person)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper

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  • Place mixed greens in a large salad bowl along with the blueberries, scallions and avocado.

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  • Rinse and dry scallops with a papertowel, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.

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  • Add the butter and oil to a wide saute pan on high heat until almost smoking.  Add the scallops in a single layer round side down, making sure they are not touching each other and sear for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should be golden brown on both sides but still soft in the center. Don’t overcook or they will get tough and chewy. Cook in batches if necessary.

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  • Remove to a serving plate.

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  • Place a large spoonful of salad mixture on a serving plate and top with 4-6 warm scallops.

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  • Top with mango vinaigrette

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MANGO VINAIGRETTE

1/2 ripe mango, roughly chopped or mango chunks (frozen, thawed okay)
1 red Fresno chili pepper, roughly chopped or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsn olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

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  • Place mango and chili pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse until it’s finely minced.

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  • Add lemon juice and olive oil and process until smooth. Add a bit more oil if necessary. Taste and add salt and pepper to taste

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  • Pour into a serving bowl.

Warm Scallop Salad with Mango Vinaigrette

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150706_204421

1 large bunch of mixed greens, bib lettuce or baby spinach
3/4 cup fresh blueberries OR 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
1 avocado, sliced
2-3 spring onions or large scallions, sliced
1 1/4 pounds+ dry sea scallops, (4-6 per person)
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 teaspoons olive oil
salt and pepper

  • Place mixed greens in a large salad bowl along with the blueberries, scallions and avocado.
  • Rinse and dry scallops with a papertowel, sprinkle with salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Add the butter and oil to a wide saute pan on high heat until almost smoking.  Add the scallops in a single layer round side down, making sure they are not touching each other and sear for 1 1/2 minutes on each side. The scallops should be golden brown on both sides but still soft in the center. Don’t overcook or they will get tough and chewy.
  • Remove to a serving plate.
  • Place a large spoonful of salad mixture on a serving plate and top with 4-6 warm scallops.
  • Top with mango vinaigrette

MANGO VINAIGRETTE

1/2 ripe mango, chopped or mango chunks (frozen, thawed okay)
1 red Fresno chili pepper or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsn olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  • Place mango and chili pepper in a food processor or blender and pulse until it’s finely minced.
  • Add lemon juice and olive oil and process until smooth.
  • Taste and add salt and pepper to taste
  • Pour into a serving bowl.

Wheatless Wednesday – Fried Catfish over Napa Corn Slaw

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Do you ever just crave some crispy fried deliciousness?  Good news!  Now that fat is no longer the enemy, It’s okay to eat fried foods as long as you use a good oil and serve with a healthy side dish. My regular readers all know that I have been on a Southern kick for the past couple of weeks following my trip to Charleston.  I was greatly inspired by the old, tried and true classics that have lived on in the South for generations (for good reason).  Well, no list of Southern favorites would be complete without Fried Catfish.  This Fried Catfish is the last recipe that was a direct derivative from my SC trip.  I’m all fried out for the time being, except maybe for trying Fried Pickles (Yes, that’s a thing!)  I’ll let you know…

In the South, Fried Catfish is usually served with hushpuppies, a yummy fried cornbread-type appetizer.  I personally can only do one fried food at a time and decided to balance the fried fish with a light and flavorful slaw made with napa cabbage, fresh sweet corn, red onion, bell pepper and jalapenos drizzled in an oil and vinegar dressing. My corn was sweet enough to eat raw, just cut off the cob.  Older corn may need to be steamed or boiled for a few minutes to soften.  I love the combination of steamy hot crispy fried fish with the cool and spicy slaw.  Add a good tartar sauce or aoli and you’re done!

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So what is a good oil too cook with anyway? Recommendations keep changing, who can keep up?  Butter is now a ‘good’ fat for cooking but not for high heat cooking as it contains small amounts of sugars and proteins which makes it burn when overheated.  When it comes to high heat cooking, coconut oil is a great choice. Over 90% of the fatty acids in it are saturated, which makes it very resistant to heat. Avocado and olive oil are good choices too.  Oils that are high in polyunsaturated fats should be avoided for cooking, as are fats (even good fats) that go through extreme processing measures. We have an amazing number of choices at the market, no wonder we are confused.  Click HERE for a breakdown on fats and oils, including a list of oils to avoid.

TIPS:  Prepare the slaw first, if serving, as the taste only improves if it is allowed to sit while you prepare the fish. This recipe calls for catfish, which is so prevalent in the South, but any mild white fish will work as well, like cod or haddock.  Just make sure it’s from a Sustainable Seafood Source  Use a good quality oil like avocado, coconut or olive oil and you will have a good result.  Drain cooked fish on a rack lined with paper towels or newspaper to keep the fish crispy and  for easy clean up.

I wanted a true Southern fried fish so went to the Food Network and adapted the recipe for Southern Fried Catfish by Alton Brown to make it wheat/gluten free.  For more Southern inspired recipes check out Fried Green Tomatoes with Buttermilk Lime Sauce Grilled Shrimp and Cheesy Grits or  Charred Okra with Tomatoes.

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FRIED CATFISH

2 cups high heat oil (avocado, coconut or olive oil)
1/2 cup stone-ground fine cornmeal
1/2 cup coconut flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 (7 to 9-ounce) Wild Caught or US farm-raised catfish fillets, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup  buttermilk)

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  • Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan or dutch oven over high heat until it almost reaches the smoking point.  If you are using a fryer the temperature should be 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature. While the oil is heating, whisk the cornmeal and flour together in a shallow dish.

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  • Combine the seafood seasoning, kosher salt, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl.

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  • Season the catfish fillets evenly on both sides with the spice mixture.

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  • Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the egg/buttermilk, flip once to coat both sides, hold over the pan and allow the excess to drip off. Coat both sides of the fillets in the cornmeal mixture. Set the coated fillets on a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.

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  • Gently add the fillets, 2-4 at a time, to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the fried fillets to a cooling rack set over a newspapers or paper towels.. Repeat method with remaining fillets.

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  • Arrange the catfish on a serving platter and serve immediately with slaw and tartar sauce.

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NAPA CORN SLAW

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6 cups Napa cabbage (Savoy, green, and/or purple), cored and shredded
2-3 ears sweet corn
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion
1-2 Tbsn fresh jalapeño(or other hot pepper),minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsn red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and set aside.

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  • Cut the kernels off the corn with a sharp knife.  If they are sweet enough to eat raw, just add to salad.  If they are tough, steam them for a few minutes to soften, then let cool.

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  • Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion.and toss with the dressing. refrigerate until ready to serve. (Slaw tastes best when it’s allowed to rest for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.) Just before serving, toss with the parsley.

Fried Catfish with Napa and Corn Slaw

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 cups high heat oil (avocado, coconut or peanut)
1/2 cup stone-ground fine cornmeal
1/2 cup coconut flour (or all purpose)
1 tsp Old Bay seasoning
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
6 (7 to 9-ounce) Wild Caught or US farm-raised catfish fillets, rinsed and thoroughly patted dry
2 eggs (or 1/2 cup  buttermilk)

  • Heat the oil in a heavy large saucepan or dutch oven over high heat until it almost reaches the smoking point.  If you are using a fryer the temperature should be 350 degrees F on a deep-fry thermometer. Adjust the heat to maintain the temperature.
  • Whisk the cornmeal and flour together in a shallow dish. Combine the seafood seasoning, kosher salt, paprika, and pepper in a small bowl. Season the catfish fillets evenly on both sides with the spice mixture.
  • Pour the buttermilk into another shallow dish. Dip each fillet into the buttermilk, flip once to coat both sides, hold over the pan and allow the excess to drip off. Coat both sides of the fillets in the cornmeal mixture. Set the coated fillets on a cooling rack and let rest for 5 minutes.
  • Gently add the fillets, 2-4 at a time, to the hot oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 to 6 minutes. Remove the fried fillets to a cooling rack set over a newspapers or paper towels.. Repeat method with remaining fillets.
  • Arrange the catfish on a serving platter and serve immediately with slaw and tartar sauce.

NAPA CORN SLAW

6 cups Napa cabbage (Savoy, green, and/or purple), cored and shredded
2-3 ears sweet corn
1 large red or yellow bell pepper, diced
1/2 red onion
1-2 Tbsn fresh jalapeño(or other hot pepper),minced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tbsn red wine vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, salt and pepper and set aside.
  • Combine the cabbage, bell pepper, and onion.and toss with the dressing. refrigerate until ready to serve. (Slaw tastes best when it’s allowed to rest for an hour or so to allow the flavors to blend.) Just before serving, toss with the parsley.

Wheatless Wednesday – Grilled Shrimp and Cheesy Grits2

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Spoiler Alert!  I warned that my recent trip to Charleston would spill over into my kitchen.  Monday’s Charred Okra with Tomatoes should have been your first clue.  Shrimp and Grits is about as Southern a dish as you can find.  It is found on almost every menu in Charleston and is especially loved for breakfast. Many of the recipes call for ham, sausage, bacon, bacon fat or lard so this recipe may not be completely traditional but I found that every restaurant (and cook) has their own recipe, so anything goes.  The two important ingredients are fresh shrimp and ground corn (grits), not instant.

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As I was about to head back to California, I was gifted two bags of grits, both white and yellow, from Geechie Boy Mill, a local family owned farm that prides itself on  growing the best produce and milling the finest grits and cornmeal. Geechie Boy products are all authentic. Heirloom corn, heralding back to the early Native Americans, is used in the antique gristmills (photo below), which preserve the natural oils and flavors of the corn resulting in the most flavorful grits. The farm is home to four working mills, including a 1945 model on display in the on-site market and an 1847 mill, one of the earliest American-made mills. If you are in the Charleston area, you can stop by The Geechie Boy Market at the farm on Edisto Island and purchase grits and other seasonal produce.  If you aren’t in the area, you can purchase online by clicking HERE and they will ship directly to you.  I have never made grits before but they were creamy and delicious and very easy to make!  I love supporting small local farmers that create quality products and I hope you do too.  Fun Fact:  So what does Geechie mean?  Their website defines it as ‘Someone whose family has been in the South Carolina Lowcountry since forever”.

There are many ways to cook grits, and I’m sure everyone has their favorite method, but as a first timer, I chose the simple technique of cooking the grits in water and then stirring in butter and cheeses at the end, rather than messing with heating milk or cream. I loved the result which was creamy and flavorful.  I used sharp white cheddar and parmesan but you can use any cheeses you have on hand.  The shrimp was tasty, grilled with a honey, black pepper glaze and topped with loads of fresh herbs and lemon zest. The shrimp recipe was adapted from Summer Herbed Grilled Shrimp Recipe from Cooking Light July, 2015
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CHEESY GRITS

1 cup white grits
4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsn unsalted butter
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated
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GRILLED SHRIMP

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

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  • Combine the grits, water, salt and half of the butter in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.

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  • Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. If the grits become too thick, add more water.

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  • Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the cheeses.

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  • While the grits are cooking, prepare the shrimp: Rinse and pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Put the shrimp in a bowl with 1 Tbsn oil, honey, pepper and salt and toss to coat.

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  • Combine parsley, onion, lemon zest, oregano and garlic in a small bowl. Add remaining oil and vinegar and set aside.

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  • Preheat grill to medium-high heat. Arrange shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove shrimp from grill to a serving platter.

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  • Top shrimp with herb mixture.

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  • Serve shrimp over cheesy grits.

Grilled Shrimp and Cheesy Grits

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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CHEESY GRITS

1 cup white grits
4 cups water
1 1/2 tsp salt
4 Tbsn unsalted butter
2/3 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/3 cup parmesan cheese, grated

GRILLED SHRIMP

1 1/2 pounds large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 1/2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon honey
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
Cooking spray
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 tablespoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

    • Combine the grits, water, salt and half of the butter in a large saucepan and bring to a boil.
    • Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 30 minutes. If the grits become too thick, add more water.
    • Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining butter and the cheeses.
    • While the grits are cooking, prepare the shrimp: Rinse and pat the shrimp dry with paper towels. Put the shrimp in a bowl with 1 Tbsn oil, honey, pepper and salt and toss to coat.
    • Combine parsley, onion, lemon zest, oregano and garlic in a small bowl. Add remaining oil and vinegar and set aside.
    • Preheat grill to medium-high heat.
    • Arrange shrimp on grill rack coated with cooking spray; grill 3 minutes on each side or until done. Remove shrimp from gril to a serving platterl.
    • Top shrimp with herb mixture.
    • Serve shrimp over cheesy grits.

Wheatless Wednesday – Sesame Crusted Salmon

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If you’re short on time but need a protein packed, nutritious main course, here is a delicious one that you can have on the table in less than 30 minutes. Salmon is a favorite, even of people who aren’t seafood lovers because of it’s mild, non-fishy taste and moist, flakey texture.  It’s considered one of the world’s healthiest foods-rich in protein, heart-helping omega-3 fatty acids, and vitamin D. A 4 ounce serving of salmon, baked or broiled, has only 157 calories and a whopping 22 grams of protein. For this preparation, I let the salmon sit in a simple marinade of olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice, honey and sesame oil while I got everything else ready.  Just before cooking, I sprinkled the fish with white and black sesame seeds and thinly sliced scallions to add color, flavor and texture.  I like to cook salmon at a fairly high heat, first on bake to make sure the bottom and center of the fish is cooked through, and then on broil until the top is caramelized a golden brown and the sections flake easily.

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Photo Credit: pcplanetindia.com

I love the addition of black and white sesame seeds with this marinade, but if you think they are just a decoration you would be mistaken.  They add a nutty flavor and a slightly crunchy texture when cooked, but for their small size, they also provide quite a bit of nutrition. Sesame seeds  are an excellent source of copper, a very good source of manganese, and a good source of calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, vitamin B1, zinc, molybdenum, selenium, and dietary fiber.  Black sesame seeds are unhulled while white seeds are hulled.  Since most of the calcium is in the hulls, black sesame seeds have more calcium.  Otherwise, they are nutritionally similar.   “Open sesame”—the famous phrase from the Arabian Nights—reflects the distinguishing feature of the sesame seed pod, which bursts open when it reaches maturity. The scientific name for sesame seeds is Sesamun indicum (which actually sounds more like Harry Potter to me than Aladdin).  If you are like me, you actually visualized both movies upon reading ‘Open Sesame’ and ‘Sesamun indicum’, or perhaps that’s just the mom in me showing..

 

 

As always, when buying seafood, check with Seafood Watch to see if it’s a healthy choice.  For example, this is what they currently have to say about salmon:  Salmon is one of the most commonly eaten fish in North America. Wild-caught salmon is generally a “Best Choice” or “Good Alternative,” but if you’re considering farmed salmon, try to find out where it comes from. While there are several more sustainable sources, most farmed salmon is on the “Avoid” list due to concerns such as the use of antibiotics important to human health and the potential for parasite and disease transfer to wild salmon populations. The Marine Stewardship Council certifies some salmon fisheries as sustainable.

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TIPS: I had a very large side of salmon (about 3 lbs) so I doubled the recipe for the marinade. I like to pre-slice the fish before cooking because you end up with ready to serve portions that are neat and tidy.  They also cook faster and more evenly than a whole side.  It really depends on what presentation you are looking for.  If you can’t find black sesame seeds, just use twice as many white.  Soy sauce has wheat/gluten, so those trying to avoid it should substitute a wheat free brand or try Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or fish sauce.

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SESAME CRUSTED SALMON
1 1/2 lbs salmon filet (boneless and skinless)
3 Tbsn olive oil
2 Tbsn soy sauce (or wheat free or reduced options like Bragg’s Amino Acids, Tamari or fish sauce)
2 Tbsn lemon juice
1 Tbsn sesame oil
1 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn white sesame seeds
1 Tbsn black sesame seeds
2 scallions

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  • Rinse and dry salmon filet and place in a large baking dish.  Slice into serving sized portions if not already done. Combine olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice sesame oil and honey in a small bowl.  Pour over salmon and lift pieces of fish to make sure marinade goes under and between.  Set aside until ready to cook.  I like to spoon marinade over a few times.

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  • Just before cooking, spoon marinade one last time over fish and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions.

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  • Bake at 450 for 5-6 minutes and then broil for another 4-5 minutes (rule of thumb is 4-6 minutes per half inch thickness). If you are cooking a whole side of salmon without pre-cutting slices, the cooking time will be longer.  Fish should be lightly browned and easy to flake into sections.

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  • Serve with sauteed veggies and brown rice (optional)

 

Sesame Crusted Salmon

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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1 1/2 lbs salmon filet (boneless and skinless)
3 Tbsn olive oil
2 Tbsn soy sauce(or wheat free or reduced options like Bragg’s Amino Acids, Tamari or fish sauce)
2 Tbsn lemon juice
1 Tbsn sesame oil
1 Tbsn honey (or more to taste)
1 Tbsn white sesame seeds
1 Tbsn black sesame seeds
2 scallions

  • Rinse and dry salmon filet and place in a large baking dish.  Slice into serving sized portions if not already done.
  • Combine olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice sesame oil and honey in a small bowl.  Pour over salmon and lift pieces of fish to make sure marinade goes under and between.  Set aside until ready to cook.  I like to spoon marinade over a few times.
  • Just before cooking, spoon marinade one last time over fish and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions.
  • Bake at 450 for 5-6 minutes and then broil for another 4-5 minutes (rule of thumb is 4-6 minutes per half inch thickness).  If you are cooking a whole side of salmon without pre-cutting slices, the cooking time will be longer.  Fish should be lightly browned and easy to flake into sections.
  • Serve with sauteed veggies and brown rice (optional)

Wheatless Wednesday – Pacific Cod with Lemon, Wine and Olives

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When I think about Mediterranean food, I picture of bowls of briny, herbed olives, tomatoes and marinated vegetables with fresh mozzarella and fruity red wine served outside in a warm but shady spot in the garden.  A fantasy?  Perhaps, but not if you are in Southern Italy – or pretending to be… We have all heard about the heart healthy benefits of eating a Mediterranean diet, but what is it?

 The Mediterranean diet is a modern nutritional recommendation originally inspired by the traditional dietary patterns of Greece,Southern Italy and Spain. The principal aspects of this diet include proportionally high consumption of olive oil, legumes, unrefined cereals, fruits and vegetables, moderate to high consumption of fish, moderate consumption of dairy products (mostly as cheese and yogurt), moderate wine consumption, and low consumption of meat and meat products.  ( Wikipedia )

Wait, that sounds alot like what I eat (minus the meat).  I guess I’m on the Mediterranean Diet!  Now to just go back to Italy…

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This delicious recipe, which I adapted from from Real Simple, is Mediterranean in flavor and ingredients.  A light, white fish like cod, halibut or seabass is drizzled with olive oil, sprinkled with olives, lemon zest and red pepper flakes then roasted in white wine. I used both castelvetrano and kalamata olives. I love their color combination but they both have different flavors to offer.  Castelvetrano olives originate in Sicily and they  are sweet and buttery while Kalamatas, from Southern Greece, are rich and meaty.   The resulting dish is simple but flavorful and takes less than 30 minutes, start to finish.  Roasted Pacific Cod can be served with a salad for a light entree or over a bed of couscous or rice for a heartier meal. Don’t forget to spoon some of the yummy wine sauce over the top!

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TIPS: When choosing fish from the market, make sure it’s considered a healthy and sustainable source.  The easiest way to do so is to go to the Seafood Watch website and enter the name of the fish you are considering.  You will get an instant response, Best Choice, Good Alternative or Avoid.  They also offer a handy Phone App so you can type it in while you are in line at the seafood counter.  For example, Seafood Watch tells me that Pacific Cod which is live caught in the U.S. is considered  Best Choice, whereas, Pacific Cod from Japan and Russia and some of  Atlantic Cod is rated Avoid due to poor or unknown health of cod populations  or questionable fishing practices.  Seafood Watch is a great tool and I highly recommend it.  I use it all the time.

Non olive lovers can omit the olives or substitute marinated red peppers, slivered marinated artichokes, or even capers, especially the large ones.

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ROASTED PACIFIC COD WITH LEMON, WINE AND OLIVES
2 lbs Pacific cod (or other white fish like halibut, rockfish or seabass)
1 Tbsn olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup green Castelvetrano olives (pitted and sliced in half)
1/2 cup black kalamata olives (pitted)
1 Tbsn lemon zest (from one lemon)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
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  • Preheat oven to 400° F. Rinse and dry fish and place the fish in a single layer in a roasting pan.

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  • Add enough wine to reach halfway up the sides of the fish. Scatter the olives and lemon zest on top of the fish. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, pepper and the red pepper.

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  • Roast until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (longer depending on thickness of fish).

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  • Sprinkle with the parsley and divide the fish among individual plates and spoon the olives and wine sauce over the top.

Pacific Cod with Lemon, Wine and Olives

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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2 lbs Pacific cod (or other white fish like halibut, rockfish or seabass)
1 Tbsn olive oil
3/4 cup dry white wine (chardonnay or sauvignon blanc)
1/2 cup green Castelvetrano olives (pitted)
1/2 cup black kalamata olives (pitted)
1 Tbsn lemon zest (from one lemon)
1/4 – 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • Preheat oven to 400° F.  Slice olives in half and set aside.
  • Rinse and dry fish and place the fish in a single layer in a roasting pan.
  • Add enough wine to reach halfway up the sides of the fish. Scatter the olives and lemon zest on top of the fish. Drizzle with the oil and season with salt, pepper and the red pepper.
  • Roast until the fish is cooked through and flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes (longer depending on thickness of fish).
  • Sprinkle with the parsley.
  • Divide the fish among individual plates and spoon the olives and wine sauce over the top.

Coconut Curry Fish with Red Ginger Rice

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Seafood is good for us, or is it?  Those that have been following Goodmotherdiet know that I care about our food and where it comes from, both from an agricultural and an animal standpoint.  I am not alone in thinking this is important for our health and the health of our planet which we share with all animals.   So, I am excited to announce that I have recently partnered with The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project, whose goal is to bring food bloggers together in a conversation about sustainability, and to provide resources for sustainable seafood to bloggers and readers alike.  Here is what the Sustainable Seafood Blog Project has to say about seafood:

It can be daunting to wade through all of the information out there about what we should be eating. Between fad diets, sale prices, ambiguous terms like “natural” or “safe”, and convoluted ingredient labels, “good” and “bad” food have fallen into an ever-expanding grey area. When it comes to seafood, it can be even more difficult to discern what the “right” purchases are. Many times, the public is unaware of the plight facing our world’s oceans.

The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project

Some of our seafood is unsafe to eat due to farming practices and/or polluted water and other species are at risk of extinction due to overfishing. Luckily, we don’t have to research everything ourselves, as others have already taken on that challenge.  Seafood Watch has also partnered with this project to provide more information on the sustainability of our seafood.  I have long relied on  Seafood Watch for guidance while in the grocery store on which fish or shrimp is “Best Choice”, “Good Alternative” or “Avoid”.  It’s easy – just click on the website and type in the name of the seafood you are contemplating and you will get an instant, informed response.  Here is their recommendation from March,2014, but check the site as a few things may have changed since then.

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Photo Credit: Seafood Watch

 

For my techie friends, here are the apps for easy access:

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch App for iPhone

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch App for Android

Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Online Buyer’s Guide

So join the conversation!  Check out the The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project for more information.  Click on their Shopping and Dining Guide for a state by state listing of good seafood sources.  For more delicious sustainable seafood recipes, check out the other bloggers who are also new partners with the Sustainable Seafood Blog:

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So the way I see it, we can still enjoy seafood as long as we make good, informed purchases.  As your Mother used to tell you, “Make good choices.”  How does Coconut Curry Fish with Red Ginger Rice sound?  I love coconut curry with almost anything but I have never made it for fish.  I created this curry with red curry paste which is warm and mildly spicy rather than green, which is very spicy and I thought it might overpower a delicate fish. I used Pacific Cod (live-caught in the U.S.) which is considered ‘Best Choice’ by Seafood Watch. Cod is a light, white fish that is adaptable to many recipes, however other good choices might be halibut, rockfish and salmon.  This red curry sauce is so tasty you will want to serve the fish on something to soak it up.  I really like it with red or black rice, both of which are dense and chewy but brown rice would be another good choice.  The red bell pepper and snow peas add color and interest.  Other veggies to consider would be zucchini, carrots or green bell pepper.  I love a color contrast.
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TIPS:  I like really spicy food so I added red pepper flakes.  For a milder dish, leave them out and use less curry powder, or turn them both up for even more heat.  In making ginger rice, I add a one inch piece of fresh peeled ginger to the water as it’s cooking and then remove it before serving.  This is an optional step but it adds a nice gingery flavor to the rice without too much extra work.
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COCONUT CURRY FISH WITH RED GINGER RICE

2 lbs fresh boneless, skinless, mild fish (halibut, cod, rockfish or salmon)
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsn fish sauce (optional)
2 tsp ginger paste (or fresh ginger, finely minced)
2 Tbsn red curry paste
1-2 tsp curry powder (preferably Madras)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1 cup red, black or brown long grained rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1″ piece fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ginger paste)

Optional Veggies:  1 red bell pepper and 20 sugar snap or snow peas

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  • Cook rice according to instructions using vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor.  Throw in a piece of peeled ginger but remove before serving

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  • Rinse and dry fish and place it in a baking dish in a single layer

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  • Combine coconut milk, fish sauce, curry powder and paste, garlic, red pepper flakes and lime juice in a small bowl.

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  • Pour coconut curry sauce over fish and lift each piece to allow sauce to cover the underside. Bake fish at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes.

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  • While fish is cooking, slice red bell pepper and sugar snap peas into thick julienne and saute in olive oil, with salt and pepper and a minced clove of garlic on medium heat 4 or 5 minutes or until softened but still al dente and brightly colored. Remove from heat.

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  • Spoon sauce over the fish and broil for another 5 minutes.  Fish should be opaque in the center and the sections beginning to pull apart.

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  • To serve, place fish on a bed of rice, spoon sauce over the top and dress with veggies.

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Coconut Curry Fish with Red Ginger Rice

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20150326_195224

2 lbs fresh boneless, skinless, mild fish (halibut, cod, rockfish or salmon)
1 can coconut milk
1 Tbsn fish sauce (optional)
2 tsp ginger paste (or fresh ginger, finely minced)
2 Tbsn red curry paste
1-2 tsp curry powder (preferably Madras)
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1/4-1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
2 Tbsn fresh lime juice
1 cup red, black or brown long grained rice
2 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1″ piece fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ginger paste)

Optional Veggies:  1 red bell pepper and 20 sugar snap or snow peas

  • Rinse and dry fish and place it in a baking dish in a single layer
  • Combine coconut milk, fish sauce, curry powder and paste, garlic, red pepper flakes and lime juice in a small bowl.
  • Pour coconut curry sauce over fish and lift each piece to allow sauce to cover the underside.
  • Cook rice according to instructions using vegetable broth instead of water for added flavor.  Throw in a piece of peeled garlic but remove before serving.
  • Bake fish at 450 degrees for about 5 minutes.
  • While fish is cooking, slice red bell pepper and sugar snap peas into a thick julienne and saute in olive oil, with salt and pepper and a minced clove of garlic on medium heat 4 or 5 minutes or until softened but still al dente and brightly colored. Remove from heat.
  • Spoon sauce over the fish and broil for another 5 minutes.  Fish should be opaque in the center and the sections beginning to pull apart.
  • To serve, place fish on a bed of rice, spoon sauce over the top and dress with veggies.

Wheatless Wednesday – Tostadas with Halibut, Spicy Slaw and Avocado Crema

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Can we talk about the Avocado Crema? You have already heard that we should be eating avocados every day due to their health benefits. So here goes…  You’re either an avocado lover or a hater, most people don’t seem to be happily ambivalent.  I am a total Lover and could eat this Avocado Crema all by itself. I mean, someone has to taste it… So delicious!  And it’s a healthy topping for practically anything, tacos, salads, roasted veggies….  Simple and just a few ingredients, including water. and it’s super easy to make in about a minute whizzed in a blender or food processor. Healthy, happy, looking forward to leftovers…Just saying.

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The slaw – my husband won’t come anywhere near the crema or anything else creamy, so this slaw is Jeff approved, crisp and spicy, tossed with olive oil, herbs and spices. I have gotten used to his peccadilloes regarding food and actually think that this is a more crowd friendly slaw as it is dairy free.  If you are setting up a taco bar, even vegan friends can participate, mixing the spicy slaw with the garlicky black beans, and if you use a dairy free yogurt, the avocado crema is just divine.  A little Sriracha on the side is also not a bad idea.  If you don’t like spicy jalapenos, substitute red bell pepper.  If you like it extra spicy, use more jalapeno or an even hotter variety of pepper.

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The beans – I add garlicky black beans to my tostada bar because I love the salty richness and extra boost of protein and all the lovely vitamins and minerals that they provide. They also give non-fish eaters something other than vegetables to put onto their plate.  You could also prepare rice if you wish.

TIPS: When buying seafood, check out Seafood Watch who makes recommendations of what fish and shellfish are  ‘healthy’ to eat and which are farmed or caught in a way that doesn’t harm you or the environment.  I used live caught California halibut which is considered by Seafood Watch to be a “Best Choice” option.

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AVOCADO CREMA

1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1/2 tsp. salt more, to taste)
1/4-1/2  cup water (to desired consistency)

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  • Halve and pit the avocado and peel or spoon the flesh into a food processor or blender.

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  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend just until smooth. Add more water for a more fluid consistency. You can add a pinch of cumin as an option.  I didn’t do so for this dish because I had already used cumin in other dishes.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl. Serve thick with a spoon or thinner like a dressing in a container with a pour spout. Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

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SPICY SLAW

2 cups shredded cabbage (green, red or savoy)
1 red jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. minced red onion
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

  •  Combine all ingredients and toss until combined.  Refrigerate up to several hours before serving.

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TOSTADAS WITH HALIBUT AND BLACK BEANS

1 lb. halibut or other firm-fleshed white fish fillet, skin removed
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar, honey or agave nectar (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp pepper
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 can black beans, drained
1 clove garlic, minced
2 Tbsn olive oil
8 corn tortillas

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  • Combine olive oil, lime juice, sugar and spices in a small bowl.

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  • Wash and dry halibut filets.  Cut them into smaller pieces, if desired, and place on an oiled baking dish. Pour marinade over the top of the fish and let sit at least 20 minutes.  Turn the filets several times to coat both sides.

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  • While the fish is marinating, heat the beans in a small stock pot with the garlic and olive oil. Remove from heat until ready to serve.

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  • Heat tortillas in a covered cast iron or heavy pan on low until heated through,  You can flip by quarters and thirds so the bottom doesn’t get too hard. Remove from heat and keep covered until ready to serve.  If you like crispy tostadas, fry each one in oil on both sides a few minutes until crispy and let drain on papertowels.

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  • Broil fish 3- 4 minutes in top third of oven. Turn fish and broil another 3 to 4 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.  Cover until ready to serve.

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Tostadas with Halibut, Spicy Slaw & Avocado Crema

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

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AVOCADO CREMA

1 ripe avocado
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp cumin(optional)
1/2 tsp. salt more, to taste)
1/4 – 1/2 cup water (depending on desired consistency)

  • Halve and pit the avocado and peel or spoon the flesh into a food processor or blender.
  • Add the rest of the ingredients and blend just until smooth. Add more water for a more fluid consistency.
  • Transfer to a serving bowl.  Can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

SPICY SLAW

2 cups shredded cabbage (green, red or savoy)
1 red jalapeno chili, seeded and diced
3 Tbs. chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbs. minced red onion
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tsp fresh lime zest
2 tsp fresh lime juice
1 tsp cumin
salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup olive oil

  •  Combine all ingredients and toss until combined.  Refrigerate up to several hours before serving.

 

TOSTADAS WITH HALIBUT

1 lb. halibut or other firm-fleshed white fish fillet, skin removed
2 Tbsn olive oil
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp sugar, honey or agave nectar (or to taste)
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 tsp pepper
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

8 corn tortillas

  • Combine olive oil, lime juice, sugar and spices in a small bowl.
  • Wash and dry halibut filets.  Cut them into smaller pieces, if desired, and place on an oiled baking dish.
  • Pour marinade over the top of the fish and let sit at least 20 minutes.  Turn the filets several times to coat both sides.
  • Heat tortillas in a covered cast iron or heavy pan on low until heated through,  You can flip by quarters and thirds so the bottom doesn’t get too hard.  If you like crispy tostadas, fry each one in oil on both sides a few minutes until crispy and let drain on papertowels.
  • Broil 3- 4 minutes.
  • Turn fish and broil another 3 to 4 minutes or until the fish flakes easily.  Cover until ready to serve.