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Archive for the ‘Tried and True’ Category

cajuntilapia

I am always hearing the question, “What can I do with tilapia?” One of our all-time favorite tilapia preparations is this Cajun tilapia. For a while I kept this Cajun seasoning in the pantry and even gave it out as a Christmas gift in mason jars a couple years ago.

So I was looking for a way to jazz up  the Cajun tilapia. I usually just serve it with roasted potatoes (sprinkled with the Cajun seasoning) and a vegetable. I found myself with some peppers and mushrooms in the fridge and decided to saute them and serve the fish over polenta. It was great!

If you’re looking for a new idea for tilapia and you like a little spice, this recipe is for you!

Cajun Tilapia with Polenta and Peppers
(Recipe source: Tilapia – Cooking Light, Polenta – Joy of Cooking, Vegetables – a Bakin’ and Eggs original)

Ingredients:

FOR THE CAJUN SPICE MIX
3 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons red pepper
2 tablespoons thyme
2 tablespoons oregano
2 tablespoons onion powder
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon sugar

Mix everything together and store in a airtight container. You can use this Cajun seasoning on anything – poultry, pork, fish, vegetables.

FOR THE FISH
1 pound tilapia fillets
4 tablespoons Cajun seasoning mix (enough to coat fish fillets)
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for coating fish
Sliced lemons (optional for garnish)

FOR THE POLENTA
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup onions, finely diced
2 1/2 cups water, divided
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 cup yellow cornmeal
Salt, to taste

FOR THE PEPPERS
1 red bell pepper, cut into strips
1 green bell pepper, cut into strips
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

FOR THE FISH
Coat each fish fillet in olive oil. Coat with Cajun seasoning.

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmering. Carefully add fish fillets and cook about 3-4 minutes per side. Fish should be opaque and flaky. Internal temperature should read about 145 degrees.

FOR THE POLENTA
Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups chicken stock and bring mixture to a boil.

While the mixture is coming to a boil, mix together 1 cup water and 1 cup cornmeal. Gradually stir into the boiling water and then reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, until the cornmeal is thick and leaves the side of the pans when it is stirred. About 25 minutes. Add extra water or chicken stock in small amounts if necessary while cooking the polenta. Season with salt to taste.

FOR THE PEPPERS
Heat a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmers. Add sliced peppers and mushrooms and cook about 8-10 minutes, or until vegetables have softened a bit. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

YIELD: 4 servings

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tomatopieslice

Tomato pie is probably one of my husband’s all-time favorite recipes. The recipe came from his church’s cookbook and it was one of his favorite dishes his mom made. Though I grew up in the South, I had never heard of tomato pie until I met Brandon. I was definitely willing to give it a shot – the combination of garden fresh tomatoes, cheddar cheese and basil baked in a pie crust sounded right up my alley. I made this for the first time when we were in college and didn’t quite perfect it on my first shot. But lots of practice over the years and my own modifications have made me a tomato pie pro.

I only make this pie during the summer when we have access to local, homegrown tomatoes. The difference in taste between grocery store and garden tomatoes is huge and tomato pie is just not the same if you don’t have fresh tomatoes and basil.

Serve this pie with a salad of mixed baby greens and you’ve got yourself a delicious summer dinner.

Tomato Pie
(Recipe adapted from Christ Church Cooks)

Ingredients:

1 double 9-inch pie crust (homemade or Pillsbury)
4-5 tomatoes, sliced
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped (feel free to add more if you’re a basil lover)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded parmesan cheese
3/4 cup light mayonnaise
1-2 large garlic cloves, minced
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Mix together cheeses, mayonnaise, garlic and salt and pepper in a bowl. Set aside.

Line a 9-inch pie pan with one pie crust, trimming sides if necessary. Layer half of the sliced tomatoes in the bottom of the crust. Sprinkle with fresh basil. Spread (or dollop) half of the cheese mixture over tomatoes and basil.

Repeat another layer of tomato, basil and cheese. Place second crust over the top of the pie and prick with a fork.

Bake for about 40-50 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Check on crust after 20-30 minutes and cover edges of crust with foil if they are getting too brown.

Yield: 6-8 servings

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bbqchickenpizzaafter

Homemade pizza is one of our favorite easy dinners and BBQ chicken pizza is one of our favorite ways to use leftover chicken. You use BBQ sauce for the base, shredded cooked chicken, caramelized onions and cheese. It’s a different taste than your traditional pizza but we think it’s delicous!

BBQ Chicken Pizza
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

1 ball pizza dough (homemade or we recommend Publix or Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup bbq sauce (we recommend a mix of a sweet BBQ sauce and this hot BBQ sauce)
1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1-2 cups shredded cheese (depending on how cheesy you like it, we recommend a mix of Mozzarella and cheddar)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425-450 degrees (follow directions on dough).

Working on a floured work surface, roll the pizza dough out into about a 12-inch round circle. Spread a layer of the BBQ sauce over the surface, leaving about 1/4-inch border around the edges. Evenly spread the onions and chicken over the sauce and top with cheese.

Place in oven (on a pizza stone or a baking sheet) and bake for about 18-22 minutes. Start checking it at about 15 minutes.

bbqchickenpizza

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chickendrumsticks

Happy Memorial Day everyone! Unfortunately, I will be traveling most of the day…in the rain so I won’t be able to enjoy a cookout. But if you’re lucky enough to be planning one, why not throw some drumsticks on the grill? Drumsticks are one of Brandon’s favorite things to grill and they’re great because you can use whatever seasoning you’re in the mood for – marinade, bbq sauce, spice rub, etc.

We decided to use seasoning rubs on our chicken (which is very common for us if you haven’t noticed). We had some Caribbean Curry Seasoning that we bought on our cruise a couple months ago from a great little spice store in Tortola,  Sunny Caribbee. We used Jamaican Firewalk from The Dizzy Pig on the other half of the chicken.

Grilled Chicken Drumsticks
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

Chicken drumsticks (with skin still on, however many you want to grill)
Olive oil
Seasoning rub of your choice
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat grill to 350.

Coat chicken in olive oil and generously apply spice rub. Spray grill grate with cooking spray and place chicken on grill. Cook for about 45-50 minutes, turning the chicken every 10-15 minutes. Check internal temperature of chicken, close to the bone. Drumsticks are done when they have reached 170 degrees.

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beefbolognese

I grew up on good old fashioned spaghetti sauce. One weekend when I was in college I went home and my dad served beef bolognese.  It was incredible! I found myself craving it and asking for it when I came home to visit.

My dad emailed me the recipe a couple years ago and it’s now one of my favorite “comfort food” Italian dishes to make. While I still love basic spaghetti sauce and keep it in the freezer at all times, I’m glad to have this in the repertoire and make it a few times a year.

Beef Bolognese
(Recipe source my Dad)

Ingredients:

1 -3  tablespoon olive oil
1 large yellow onion, diced
1-2 stalks celery, diceed
1 carrot,  shredded
3-4  cloves garlic, minced
1/4 pound pancetta, chopped
1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef
1 cup red wine
1 cup whole milk
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 14½-ounce can diced tomatoes, undrained
1/4 teaspoon red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh oregano, or 1 tablespoon dried
About 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Kosher salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Freshly grated Parmesan, for garnish

Directions:

In a Dutch oven, over medium heat, cook ground beef until browned. Drain and set aside.

Wipe out Dutch oven and heat the oil. Add onion, celery and carrot and cook for about 5-8 minutes, until vegetables begin to soften and onion becomes translucent. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the pancetta and cook for 5 minutes, then add the beef back to the pot. Add the wine and the remaining ingredients and simmer on low heat for 45 minutes. (Note, the longer it cooks, the better it gets. Leftovers are even better).

Serve with cooked  tagliatelle or thin spaghetti pasta . Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Yield: 4-6 servings

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Before roasting

Before roasting

After roasting

After roasting

This twist on roasted potatoes makes a perfect side item with grilled meats. We served these alongside grilled ribeyes and roasted asparagus when we had friends over on Friday night. I originally saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman Cooks and tons of food bloggers have made it as well. I’ve made these potatoes a few times now and I’m officially on the “Crash Hot Potato” bandwagon. They’re so simple and I love that you can customize them to whatever tastes you’re feeling and what herbs you have on hand.

The Pioneer Woman roasts her potatoes at 450 degrees but since I was roasting asparagus too, I kept my oven at 400 and just cooked them a little longer. I added the asparagus in during the last 10 minutes the potatoes were cooking.

Crash Hot Potatoes
(Recipe source Pioneer Woman Cooks)

Ingredients:

Small round potatoes (new potatoes, yukon golds, etc)
Olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground pepper
Herbs

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 to 450 degrees (depending on how crispy you want your potatoes and if you have other things in the oven).

Place desired amount of potatoes in a large pot and cover with w

ater. Add a couple tablespoons of salt to the water. Bring to a boil and cook for about 15 minutes, or until

potatoes can be easily pierced with a fork (time will depend on size of your potatoes).

Meanwhile, prepare a baking sheet by spreading a thin layer

of olive oil over the bottom of the pan. Note, I always line my baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup. (Shiny side down.)

Remove potatoes from pot and drain. Depending on the size of your potatoes, you may need to cut some of them in half. Place potatoes on baking sheet, leaving space between. Using a potato masher or the back of a fork, mash down potatoes, rotate pan and mash again.

Brush tops generously with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper and desired herbs (I love rosemary). Roast in oven 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

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pastavodka

Brandon is in the middle of law school finals and I haven’t been seeing much of him lately. He’s been studying around the clock. He had a final from 6-9 last night and I wanted to have a simple dinner waiting for him when he got home. I’m not going to lie that the inspiration for this dish was a great bottle of Toscano Rosso that I tried while I was wandering around Whole Foods after work yesterday.  I picked up a bottle and decided it would be a pasta night.

I had all the ingredients on hand for Pasta with Vodka Sauce and it was perfect with ciabatta served alongside. I love how easy this dish is to put together – the touch of red pepper and fresh basil definitely set it off. Try this out next time you are looking for a simple pasta dish.

Pasta with Vodka Sauce
(Recipe source mostly Bakin’ and Eggs with guidance from the Joy of Cooking)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup vodka
1 tablespoon butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes (depending on your spice tolerance)
1 15 0unce can of tomato sauce (pureed tomato)
1/3 cup heavy whipping cream
Shaved Parmesan, for garnish
Basil, thinly sliced, for garnish
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 box of pasta (a little less than 1 pound) ziti or penne recommended
1/2 cup reserved pasta water

Directions:

Heat oil in large saute pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to get tender and translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Add vodka and let cook for about 2 minutes, until most of the liquid has been absorbed. Add butter and red pepper flakes. Let butter melt into onion mixture. Pour in tomato sauce and reduce heat to medium-low. Let simmer for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring salted water to boil in a large pot. Follow directions on pasta packaging for cooking. Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup of the pasta water in case you need to thin your sauce.

Pour cream into tomato mixture and stir to combine. Add drained pasta and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Garnish plates with Parmesan and basil.

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baconwrappedchicken

Bacon…cheese…chicken…BBQ sauce…all wrapped up together and grilled. What’s not to love about that combination? Brandon got the idea for this chicken from the Egghead forum a few months ago when I put him in charge of figuring out what to do with chicken breasts for dinner. I was super impressed by how great he did creating this. If you’re a bacon lover, this is a MUST try on the grill during the upcoming warm months.

Grilled Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Chicken
(Recipes source Bakin’ and Eggs, inspired by the Egghead forum)
Printable Recipe: Grilled Bacon Wrapped Cheese Stuffed Chicken

Ingredients:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 slices of bacon
6-8 slices of cheese – mozzarella, cheddar, colby jack – anything you like! (off of a block of cheese, if you’re using pre-sliced for sandwiches 2 slices)
2 tsp barbecue sauce, plus extra for serving
Grilling rub of your choice (we use the Dizzy Pig’s Raging River)
Toothpicks, soaked in water (optional, to prevent excessive  burning while grilling)

Directions:

Preheat grill to 350 degrees.

Pound out chicken breasts (in a plastic bag or between two sheets of wax paper) to about 1/4 inch thickness. Coat the top of chicken with grill rub. Turn over so rub side is down on work surface. Spread one teaspoon of barbeque sauce in a thin layer over each chicken breast. Layer cheese in the middle of the chicken. Roll chicken tightly. Wrap with bacon, using as many slices of bacon as you need and using toothpicks to hold bacon in place.

Grill for 20-25 minutes, turning every 4-5 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken breast has reached 165 degrees.

Remove toothpicks and serve with barbecue sauce on the side.

Yield: 2 servings

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tunaWe stumbled upon this recipe a few years ago while looking for a new way to prepare tuna. It has become part of the regular rotation and is our standby recipe for tuna steaks. The wasabi aoli is definitely what makes this dish. You can adjust the amount of wasabi you use to taste – we love the burn!

Try this recipe soon! We serve the tuna with stir fry veggies and sushi rice.

Seared Tuna with Wasabi Aoli
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

2 tuna steaks
Soy sauce
1 tbsp olive oil (or sesame or canola oil)
1 tbsp wasabi powder (can be found in the Asian section of grocery store)
1 tbsp water
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I always use light)

Directions:

Place tuna steaks in a dish and pour a couple tablespoons of soy sauce over them. Let marinate for about 30 minutes at room temperature, turning once.

Mix together wasabi powder and water and then whisk in mayonnaise. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Pat tuna dry. Heat a medium skillet to medium-high. Heat oil. Sear tuna steaks for about 45 seconds per side for rare.

Serve with wasabi aoli.

Yield: 2 servings

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broiledmahi

Brandon is in Vegas for a bachelor party. Anytime he’s out of town I get excited to cook whatever I want for dinner. One of the things I always turn to is fish. When Brandon’s not here to man the grill, I’ve found that broiling fish is a quick and flavorful way to prepare it.

My method is really simple – I brush both sides of the fish with olive oil and then sprinkle it with a seasoning rub. I’ve mentioned this before and will continue to mention that our favorite rubs are from The Dizzy Pig. Tonight I used Tsunami Spin. Broiled fish is also great with Ragin’ River and Shakin’ the Tree. I seriously recommend that you order some rubs from The Dizzy Pig!

This recipe also works great with salmon. Another tip, line your baking sheet with foil for easy cleanup (especially if you’re preparing salmon because of the skin).

Simple Broiled Mahi Mahi
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

Fish fillets (recommended: Mahi Mahi or Salmon), as many as you’d like to prepare
Olive oil
Seasoning rub (preferred: The Dizzy Pig)
Lemon wedges

Directions:

Arrange oven rack so it’s about 4 inches from the broiler. Preheat broiler on high. Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray (or line with foil and spray with cooking spray for easy cleanup – I highly recommend you do this).

Rinse fish under cool water and pat dry. Brush both sides with olive oil. Sprinkle rub on both sides to coat evenly. Place fish fillets on baking sheet and squeeze a little lemon juice over them.

Broil on high for about 8 minutes (for Mahi or Salmon) or until internal temperature reaches 140-150 (depends on your desired doneness). Cooking time will vary based on the thickness of your fish fillet. Fish should flake easily when done. Tip: make sure you have your exhaust fan on while broiling. The fish may smoke.

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