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Posts Tagged ‘easy’

68 Days of Gourmet: Day 19

I have said this before but I have to say it again. Weekly menu planning and shopping makes life so much easier. I have converted so many friends to this practice and believe me, it’s life changing. First, you save tons of stress by not having to worry about what to make for dinner and having time to make it to the store. Second, you save money by planning meals based on weekly specials and only making one trip. On average I spend between $65-$80 a week on our groceries. Whenever I go to the store for just one meal, I never leave without spending $20-$30. That would quickly add up if you were making nightly trips. Also, if you don’t already have a plan, there’s the added temptation to go out instead of cook.

All that said, tilapia was on sale for $3.99 a pound this week. It was just too good of a deal to pass up and tilapia is one of the few fish that I can get Brandon to eat without grumbling. I found this recipe on Epicurious and was surprised to see that it had received 456 reviews and had a 4-fork rating. It sounded like something we’d really enjoy. This recipe was so simple to make. You could have this on the table in 20 minutes – easy. The chili lime butter was so full of flavor and wonderful melted over the pan sauteed tilapia. Brandon told me at least 5 times during dinner that he loved this preparation and wanted to add it to the regular rotation. We also decided that the chili lime butter would be good melted over grilled flank or skirt steak.

Don’t be scared of the peppers in the butter. The flavors are very balanced and it’s not overly spicy. I had a couple bites with some kick but nothing too bad. The lime juice and zest really add a brightness to the dish. This is a great fish dish to add to your collection.

Chili Lime Tilapia
(Recipe adapted from Gourmet, July 2003)

Ingredients:

FOR CHILI LIME BUTTER
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped
1 teaspoon lime zest, finely grated
2 teaspoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon minced fresh Thai or serrano chile (preferably red), including seeds (I used jalapeno because it’s all I had)
1/2 teaspoon salt

FOR FISH
6 (5- to 6-oz) pieces skinless tilapia fillet or farm-raised striped bass fillets with skin
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons olive oil

Directions:

FOR THE CHILI LIME BUTTER
Mix together the butter, peppers, shallots, lime zest and juice and salt in a bowl. Set aside.

FOR THE FISH
Rinse fish and pat dry. Generously salt and pepper and then dredge in flour and shake off excess. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and heat until shimmers. Carefully place fish into skillet and cook about 2-3 minutes per side, until fish is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 135 degrees.

TO SERVE
Serve each piece with a dollop of chili lime butter. The butter will melt and spread over the fish.

Yield: 6 servings
(I made the full recipe of butter and only 2 tilapia fillets. We had a little bit of leftover butter but not tons – we are fatties and it was delicious! We kept spreading more on! :) )

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corndip

While we were living in Birmingham, this corn dip seemed to pop up at a lot of parties. Who would think that a cold, creamy corn mixture would be delicious and addicting with Fritos Scoops? Yes, you heard me right…I said it – Fritos!  This dip is a cinch to put together and will bring people back to the dip bowl over and over…and over…and over.

This week I volunteered to bring appetizers to a family barbecue and I knew this dip was the perfect thing! My friend Lindsey from Birmingham sent me the recipe. As I expected, no one in the Charlotte crowd had tried the dip before but they all loved it.

Bring this dip to your next party!

Summer Corn Dip
(Recipe source my friend Lindsey)
Printable Recipe: Corn Dip

Ingredients:

1/2 cup light sour cream
1/2 cup light mayo
2 cans Mexi-corn, drained
2 cups sharp cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red and green peppers, finely diced
Directions:

Mix together and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving. Serve with corn chips – recommended Fritos Scoops.

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tunaherbaioli

Before we get started on the tuna let’s talk about my absence from blogging the last couple weeks. My husband just graduated from law school in Birmingham, Alabama and will be practicing in Charlotte, North Carolina. Moving has been a gigantic pain but we’re so excited to finally be in Charlotte and getting settled in our new place. Unfortunately, with all the business of moving and starting a new job, there just hasn’t been much time for blogging.

I’m happy to report that as of this week I’m back in the kitchen. I made a menu for the week  and took my weekly Sunday grocery trip for the first time in over a month. My new kitchen is considerably smaller than the old kitchen and we don’t have a dishwasher (gasp!) but I’m trying to embrace it and work with what we have. So if you have any tips to share on maximizing small kitchen space, I would love to hear them (seriously…you should see the tiny amount of counter space I have).

Now on the the tuna…last Tuesday was my birthday and we’d been in our new place for all of two days. Needless to say, we weren’t very unpacked. I was really sick of eating out so I tried to brainstorm a simple dinner that I could prepare quickly for my birthday dinner. Tuna is one of our favorites and I was looking to do something different than our usual tuna with wasabi aioli.  I remembered a good herbed tuna recipe that I tried in college from Bon Appetit and decided to make my own variation of it. I used some of my favorite herbs and it turned out to be a great summer dish.

Seared Tuna with Herbed Aioli
(Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit)

Ingredients:

2 tuna steaks (recommended sushi/sashimi grade)
4 tablespoons olive oil, divided (3 for marinade and 1 for pan)
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
1 tablespoons Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup mayonnaise (I use reduced fat)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Mix together all ingredients from olive oil through garlic clove to create the marinade for the tuna. Place mayonnaise in a separate small bowl and stir in about 2 tablespoons of the marinade mixture to create the aioli.  Refrigerate.

Season tuna steaks with salt and pepper. Pour reserved marinade over the tuna and leave at room temperature for about 30 minutes.

Preheat a saute pan over medium-high heat. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in pan and add fish. Cook for about 45 seconds per side for rare (you just want to get the sear and warm it a little). The inside should still be red.

Top with aioli and serve.

Yield: 2 servings

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goatcheeseveggiepasta

I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen and it reminded me of an old favorite I hadn’t made in a while. One of my favorite easy pasta dishes is to saute vegetables and mix them with pasta and flavored Boursin cheese (usually garlic and herb). I love goat cheese so when I saw the recipe on SK I wanted to try my recipe with goat cheese instead of Boursin.

The beauty of this dish is that you can use whatever veggies you have on hand or prefer. Tonight I was feeling zuchinni, broccoli and sun dried tomatoes. This is a great meat-free dish. I’m looking forward to the leftovers!

Goat Cheese Veggie Pasta
(Recipe inspired by Smitten Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1/2 box pasta (penne or spiral)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 zucchini
1 small head broccoli
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, rehydrated
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
2 -4 ounces goat cheese, depending on how cheesy you want to get
Salt and pepper, to taste

Directions:

Cook pasta according to directions on package. Drain and reserve 1/2 cup pasta water.

In the meantime, preheat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add zucchini and broccoli and saute for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook another minute.

Remove from heat and stir in sun dried tomatoes, Italian seasoning, goat cheese and pasta. Stir until cheese is melted and coats pasta. Add in some of the reserved pasta water if needed. Salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending on how hungry you are!)

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fetaflounder

I love fish with Greek preparations. I had some delicious whole milk feta in the fridge and a craving for fish. I picked up some flounder and Roma tomatoes at the grocery and came home with a mission of creating a Greek inspired fish entree.

I was extremely pleased with how this turned out. It was ready in about 20 minutes and full of flavor. Unfortunately, Brandon is out of town so I didn’t have anyone to taste test for me but I told him all about it and he’s excited to try it out.

So if you’re a feta/Greek flavor lover like me and looking for a new preparation for flaky white fish, this is a dish you want to make!

Greek Inspired Flounder
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 flounder fillets (can sub any other flaky white fish like tilapia, snapper, etc)
2 tablespoons flour
1 Roma tomato, sliced
2 ounces of high-quality feta cheese
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon basil
1/2 lemon
Salt and pepper, to taste
2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Cooking spray

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prepare a baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

Rinse fish with water and pat dry. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle with flour and shake off excess.Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and heat until shimmering. Add fish to skillet and cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until lightly golden.

Remove fish from pan and place in prepared baking dish. Squeeze lemon juice over fish. Sprinkle with basil and oregano. Line fish with 3-4 tomato slices and top with crumbled feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.

Place in preheated oven and cook for about 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and cook for another 2-3 minutes,  until feta very lightly browns.

Remove from oven and carefully transfer from baking dish to plate. I served mine over cous cous with a small green salad.

Yield: 2 servings

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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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bbqchicksand

Brandon grilled up a beer can chicken on the Egg for dinner Friday night. We had a lot of leftovers and he had fun creating this sandwich on Saturday for lunch.  This isn’t really a “recipe” but I know that people are always looking for ways to use leftover roasted/grilled chicken and this sandwich was delicious!

Beer Can Chicken BBQ Chicken Sandwich
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

2 slices of bread (we used sourdough – highly recommend!)
3/4 cup shredded leftover grilled or roasted chicken (about 1 1/2 thighs or 1 breast)
2 slices sharp cheddar cheese
BBQ sauce (your favorite – recently we’ve been enjoying  Grendeddy Dave’s Hot BBQ Sauce)
Mayonnaise
Salt and pepper, to taste.

Directions:

Preheat convection oven or regular oven to 400 degrees.

Spread a thin layer of mayonnaise over one slice of bread. Place shredded chicken on top and then drizzle desired amount of BBQ sauce over the chicken. Add salt and pepper to taste. Place cheese on the other slice of bread.

We use our convection oven for heating sandwiches. This sandwich cooked for four about 5-6 minutes. In a normal oven, you may want to start out at about 10 minutes and watch it. When cheese is melted and chicken is warm the sandwich is ready. We cook the sandwich open faced and then place the cheese slice on top of the chicken before serving.

Told you this wasn’t a recipe! More of a creation! :)

Yield: 1 sandwich

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grilledshrimp

My parents just moved to Atlanta a few weeks ago. I went to visit last weekend while Brandon was in Vegas. My dad discovered the Dekalb Farmers Market and told me to bring a cooler so I could stock up. We spent our Sunday there – I was in heaven! If you live near Atlanta I highly recommend that you make a trip to check it out. Their prices are incredible. It’s really not a farmers market in the traditional sense. It started out as a produce stand in the 70′s and has grown into a Whole Foods/Trader Joe’s on steroids. If you’re familiar with Central Market in Texas it’s very similar. I could go on and on but I’ll spare you!

So I returned home yesterday with a trunkful of goods courtesy of my parents! One of the things I chose was the beautiful gulf shrimp you see in the photo above. Brandon had mentioned several times that he’d like to try to grill some of the jumbo shrimp so I thought he’d love these.

We grilled the shrimp tonight and served them with organic yellow grits and sauteed squash and zucchini (all from the Delkab Farmers Market). It was a delicious dinner and a nice change from heavy winter foods.

Grilled Shrimp
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

1 lb jumbo shrimp (16-18 shrimp per pound)
Olive oil
Seasoning of your choice – you could go as simple as olive oil, salt and pepper – we used a combination of The Dizzy Pig Tsunami Spin and Swamp Venom)

Directions:

Peel and devein shrimp, leaving tails on. Coat shrimp with a thin layer of olive oil and seasoning of your choice and let sit for about 30 minutes.

While shrimp is marinating, preheat grill to 400 degrees.

Grill shrimp for about 2-3 minutes per side, until the shrimp curl and are no longer pink. Serve immediately.

Yield: 2-3 servings

grilled-shrimp-plate

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chickensalad

Grilled chicken salad is a versatile basic that’s a staple in our spring/summer dinner rotation. It’s  an easy, light entree that you can adapt to whatever your tastes are and what you have on hand. We love to top ours with avocado, toasted pecans, tomatoes and fresh fruit. You can whip up a homemade honey mustard in no time and it tastes far better than anything you’ll get out of a bottle. We enjoyed this dinner out on our deck tonight – one of the first nights that it has been warm enough to eat outside!

Grilled Chicken Salad
(Recipe source Bakin’ and Eggs)

Ingredients:

FOR THE SALAD:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
Grill rub of your choice (we love all of The Dizzy Pig rubs and used Jamaican Firewalk on this)
Lettuce of your choice (I used a bag of field greens)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted
4 strawberries, sliced
1 small tomato, diced
1 avocado, sliced

FOR THE DRESSING:
3 tbsp dijon mustard
2-3 tbsp honey
2 tbsp low-fat mayo
1-2 tbsp plain yogurt
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp apple cider or rice wine vinegar

Directions:

Preheat grill to 400 degrees.

Trim chicken breasts of any fat. Rub both sides with olive oil and coat with grill rub. Spray grill grates with cooking spray. Grill chicken approximately 6 minutes on each side or until the internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Let rest 5 minutes before serving.

In the meantime, make your dressing by whisking all the ingredients together. Adjust to meet your taste (adding more of any ingredient if desired).

Plate salad, top with sliced grilled chicken and drizzle dressing on top.

Yield: 2 servings

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One of our favorite vegetarian meals is red coconut curry with tofu. When I saw this recipe on A Year in the Kitchen I thought it would be a fun version to try.

This recipe was originally titled “Spicy Thai Coconut Tofu Soup” but ours ended up being more noodle bowl than soup. It wasn’t very brothy (which was tasty anyway).

I made a few modifications to the original recipe so I’m going to post my version of the recipe. This definitely fits the quick and easy category and it’s very filling and tasty.

Spicy Thai Noodle Bowl with Tofu
(Recipe adapted from A Year in the Kitchen)

Ingredients:

1 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 small onion, finely diced (about 1/2 a cup)
3-4 tsp grated fresh ginger
1/2-1 tsp crushed red pepper
4 cups chicken stock (can use vegetable stock to make this meal vegetarian)
1 15 oz can light coconut milk
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 cup sliced white or baby bello mushrooms
1 cup sliced snap peas
1/2 package thin rice noodles
1 tbsp hot red curry paste
1-2 tbsp fish sauce (optional, can sub soy sauce)
2 tsp honey
1 block extra firm tofu, diced
Directions:
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, ginger and crushed red pepper and saute for about 1 minute until fragrant. Stir frequently and watch it closely. Don’t let your garlic and red pepper burn.
Add chicken broth, coconut milk and carrots and mushrooms and bring to a gentle boil. Cook for about 10 minutes or until carrots are tender.
Add all the remaining ingredients and cook for another 10 minutes.
I served this in bowls with soy sauce and red chili sauce (like Sriracha) on the table so we could season to taste.

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