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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Pan Fried Tilapia

I'm trying to eat healthier so I went back to a tried and true trick my Mom taught me, pan fried but without the calories. I ate this quite a bit while I did Weight Watchers a few years ago. My daughter doesn't like fish of any kind, not even breaded, doesn't taste like sticks but my son will eat "some" and he actually likes it done this way.

Tilapia is a very non fishy tasting white fish that cooks fast. It's also a pretty inexpensive fish. It takes you about 6 minutes from start to finish with this's that for fast and easy?

1/2 lb of Tilapia cut in half
Greek Seasoning
Spray butter

I cut the fish in half because of how I'm going to cook it. I want firm, even pressure on the whole piece and this works best for me. So, cut the fish in half, season both sides with your favorite seasoning. Tonight I used my favorite Greek Seasoning but Cajun is great as is just some salt, pepper and garlic. Totally depends on the flavor you're looking for. Spray your fish with spray butter (if you don't have spray butter you could brush with some olive oil), put sprayed side down in a non stick pan. Spray the top. Put a piece of aluminum foil on top and then put a HEAVY pan on top of that. I use my trusty cast iron for the job. Turn your heat to about a 6. Cook for 4-5 minutes, depends on how thick your fish is, this piece was on the thicker side for Tilapia. Remove pan and foil, it should pretty much look cooked on top. Flip your fish, put foil back on, pan back on top of that and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Done!
Here is my package of fish.
Cut the fish in half, season with your favorite seasoning and spray with your spray butter.
This is the brand I use. Others taste the same but their sprayer doesn't EVER clog so you get to use the whole bottle. Spray butter adds NO calories. Spray butter is your friend when you do Weight Watchers.
Put the fish in the pan butter side down, spray top.
Add a piece of foil. Don't be stingy with the foil, this will help keep the steam in and cooks the fish.
Heavy pan on top. I think they sell weighed things to do this but remember I'm not a fan of extra stuff in my kitchen. You can also skip the pan altogether and get similar results, I just find it to crisp up more evenly if I use the heavy pan on top.
This is ready to flip. Make sure you use a turner that is big enough. Make sure you get under the fish so you don't lose the crispy crust you just made. Flip it over.
See how crispy and yummy this looks! Put the foil back, pan back and cook another couple of minutes to get the other side to look equally as good.
Here it is with the yummy crispy crust and cooked to perfection. NOW..if I was doing Weight Watchers I would have had this with some vegetables or a nice big salad. I am not doing Weight Watchers so I had some of the kids Sesame Noodles on the side

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Sesame Noodles

In my quest to find something that my kids will eat I started thinking about the "crap" they eat over and over again when we go out. Panda Express is a favorite for their Orange Chicken and Lo Mein. I actually found a copy cat recipe for Orange Chicken on the Internet, but we'll save that for another night. Tonight, I wanted something quick because we were all starving. I had a few leftover things that needed to be used, Sesame Noodles it turned out to be. Took about 15 minutes and both kids LOVED it.

1 1/2 Skinless Chicken Breasts chopped
1 Carrot diced
1/2 small Onion diced
2 Cloves Garlic minced
2 T Garlic Butter
3-4 t Sesame Oil
4-5 t Soy Sauce
8 oz Thin Spaghetti cooked

Start your water to boil, either salt or throw in a couple of chicken bouillon cubes. When water is boiling, break your pasta in half, throw in a cook. Thin spaghetti cooks relatively fast and that's why it's a favorite around here. Drain pasta. Chop up your carrots, onion and garlic and saute with 1 T garlic butter (see below) for about 4 minutes. Throw in your chicken, 1 T garlic butter and some salt and pepper, taste to make sure you have it seasoned to your liking. Cook until chicken is done, about 4 minutes. Add your pasta. Drizzle 3 t of Sesame Oil and 4 t of soy sauce over pasta. Give it a toss. Taste, if you can't taste the sesame, add another teaspoon. If you need a bit more salt, add another teaspoon of soy sauce. Toss again and serve.

If it was just for me, I would have added some chopped spinach or cooked asparagus with the pasta or some sesame seeds but it wasn't so..plain and easy it was tonight.

GARLIC BUTTER...I had made some for another recipe which I'll share later but basically, just take a stick of softened butter and add 1 t of garlic powder. Mix it up, give it a little taste, if you want a more garlic taste, add a bit more.
I bought some real carrots! You know the kind with the green tops, the kind you have to *gasp" peel;) I haven't done that in forever but they taste so much better and I was feeling crazy so "real" carrots are on the menu tonight. If you don't have "real" carrots, as I typically don't..just use a handful of baby carrots and give them a good dice. If you're using the "real" thing, peel, slice in half and then slice down the middle again and start chopping.
This is what it should look like. You want them to cook relatively quick unless you want some crunch in your meal so the smaller the better. Also, if they are small, they stick to the noodles and the kids can't pick around them as easily;)
Throw the carrots, diced onion and garlic in the pan with 1 T garlic butter. If you use something other than the garlic butter (I don't know why you would because butter is the BEST but if you're trying to be healthy...I get it, make sure you add a bit of garlic powder to the vegetables.
I only had 1 1/2 chicken breasts thawed, you could easily use a whole package of chicken breast to make this more substantial but my kids don't eat much meat when it's mixed into something.
Cook your chicken with another tablespoon of butter and season to taste with salt and pepper, you don't need to adjust the amount of butter if you use more chicken, we just want to give it a bit of the butter flavor.
Add your pasta, sesame oil and soy sauce. Toss it about and taste. Adjust seasoning accordingly.
Here is the Sesame Oil I bought in the Asian aisle at the grocery store. It really makes a HUGE difference in taste. Add sparingly because it has a BIG flavor.
Done...that will be $5.95 or did you want to add a drink with that??

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Crab Legs

Preparing seafood, other than shrimp always scared me. I don't know why? I guess I was scared of making someone sick or something. But I really like seafood so I had to take a leap. Crab legs is something I discovered that I LOVE. When I found out how easy they are to make at home...well I LOVED them even more. I just wish they weren't so expensive. But compared to what they cost in a restaurant, well the price isn't so bad. You can steam them, boil them or my favorite way to make them...BAKE.

So, get yourself some defrosted King Crab Legs and a cake pan. Preheat the oven to 350.
Put about 3/4 C of Lemon juice with 2-3 cloves of chopped garlic in the bottom of the pan. Throw your crab legs on top~I had 2 pounds.
Put in the oven for 10 minutes and serve with melted butter.
Completely delicious, enjoy!!!

I only took a photo in the pan ready for the oven because they look the same when they come out;)

Friday, March 26, 2010

Easter Eggs

I need to pull out the Easter baskets and plastic eggs and it got me thinking of our weird little tradition for coloring eggs. When I was growing up, only my Dad liked hard boiled eggs. So, my smart thinking Mom had us color raw eggs. Our visiting Aunt didn't find it too funny when she sat down to crack herself an egg and had raw yolk in her lap but we got a chuckle out of it;)

So, at any rate, I wanted to let all of you know that you CAN color raw eggs and nothing happens to them. I boil one dozen and leave the other raw. Just make sure you know which are which and if they want to write on them, make sure they use the hard boiled ones for that. My kids have been coloring raw eggs since they were little and even a 2 year old has yet to break I promise it's all good. AND, the kids love it because there are more to color.

Also, for perfectly cooked hard boiled eggs. Start with the eggs in cold water. Bring to a full boil~that means the water is really bubbling. Cover and turn off the heat for 10 minutes and no icky greenish yolks. Have fun!

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Did I sense a crinkle of your nose when you read the title? That used to be my reaction when someone offered asparagus but that was because the only way I had ever seen asparagus it had come from a can or was frozen and over cooked. Not appetizing, not tasty. But then a friend of mine grilled some..oh my goodness..I found something that I not only liked but loved. I realized that fresh asparagus grilled, boiled for a minute or stir fried is very GOOD and I seriously could eat it everyday and it's versatile. I like mine with a little bit of a crunch but you can adjust your cooking time accordingly. Today we're going to grill it on the grill pan that I just took steaks from. I grilled it for about 3-4 minutes, if you were making on a real grill, only a minute or two because a grill is hotter.

One other thing, don't let those bunches at the grocery store scare you. If you don't want that much, take the amount you want and put it in a bag. You are not required to buy that big bunch, unless you're at Target, they don't weigh asparagus, it is sold in bunches as are a few of their vegetables for the price listed. Another tip is that if it's not firm stalks, not too tasty. Really big stalks can also be stringy, so buy with care.

All you need is
Bunch of fresh Asparagus
drizzle of Olive Oil
Kosher Salt
Crank of Fresh Pepper

Wash, break off bottom, drizzle with oil and toss. Sprinkle with salt and a few cranks of pepper. Throw on a hot grill pan, turn a few times. Cook for 3-4 minutes and serve.
You don't need to break off much of the bottom and you could "cut" it but I've found that by snapping off the ends, you get the hard and grainy ends. It will snap where it needs to.
Drizzle with Olive oil, toss and season with salt and pepper.
Throw on a grill pan or on your grill. The added flavor from the steaks is a bonus;)
You could put a fresh squeeze of lemon juice on top before serving but it tastes just fine as is. Hope you like it!

Crash Potatoes and Egg Scramble

I saw these on Pioneer Woman Cooks and had to give them a try. I, however had to add cheese. Potatoes taste better with cheese in my opinion but I'm sure they taste good without as well. They are a great and easy side dish AND awesome left overs. I use them for a base for an egg scramble...I think I like them best that way. I'll show you how to do both.

You are going to need:
Baby Red Potatoes
Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper
Thyme~I used dried
Cheese~I used Havarti and Pepper Jack

Boil potatoes in salty water until they are fork tender. Drizzle jelly roll pan (that's a cookie sheet with an edge to me) with Olive Oil. Put Potatoes on the pan and smash with bottom of a cup or potato masher. Brush liberally with olive oil and/or butter. Pepper and salt liberally, I use kosher salt, it seems to hang on a bit better. Remember potatoes need salt, they don't taste very good without. Sprinkle with Thyme. Bake at 425 for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and top with some of each cheese. Either toss back in the oven for a minute or tent with aluminum foil to melt cheese.

Egg Scramble
Leftover Crash Potatoes
2 Eggs mixed up
1/3 C Ham chopped ~ I keep chopped ham in the freezer for quick breakfast additions, if you don't, you can purchase a thick slice of deli ham and chop up, leave the meat out or use whatever meat you have on hand.

Put a few potatoes on a plate, microwave a minute to heat. Thrown ham in a pan with a tablespoon of butter. After it's heated through, throw in your eggs. Season to your liking and scramble around. Throw on top of your potatoes. You can top with more cheese or salsa if you like but I think it's good just like this.
Start with cold water that is well salted. Add potatoes, turn on the water and boil until they are fork tender about 10-15 minutes depending on the size of potatoes. What that means, is poke with a fork and it should go in easily but not fall apart, if they fall apart when poked, they are too done. Pull the potato out with the fork. Drizzle a cookie sheet with an edge with some Olive Oil, a couple tablespoons should work.
Put the potatoes on the cookie sheet.
Smash your potatoes with a potato masher or the bottom of a glass works too.
After you've smashed all the potatoes, you are going to season with salt (I use kosher because it hangs on better but you can use regular table salt), pepper, pinch of dried Thyme, fresh would be good if you had it but I didn't. Put in a 425 oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.
Out of the oven and topped with cheese, that amount is up to you or you can leave the cheese off. Throw back in the oven to melt cheese or tent with aluminum foil to melt.
Now on to the leftover potato breakfast scramble.
Potato leftovers, throw in the microwave for a minute or two to heat through.
This is about 1/3 C chopped ham and 1 T butter. I don't usually use butter when I'm scrambling eggs but it kept the ham from sticking better than cooking spray.
Throw your eggs into the pan and season to your liking. This is just two eggs that were whisked together, nothing was added to the eggs. If I'm feeling like I need to be healthier, I would have just used 1 egg and 2-3 egg whites.
Put the eggs on top of the potatoes. You can top with salsa or more cheese. I like it just the way it is.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

NERD cupcakes

Are you looking for something OVER the top SWEET? Are you looking for something fun to make with or for your kids? A NERD Cupcake will fit both criteria. I got the idea because my niece picked 3 colors, purple, pink and green, that she wanted her cupcakes to be for her birthday. I've made cakes multiple colors but never cupcakes so I wasn't sure if it would work.

Luckily, my daughter had a school dance and I had to send something for the bake sale and it was two days before the party. I've seen the bake sale table at previous events and I thought it needed a little FUN added so the bright NEON colors worked great. I did NERD cupcakes for the dance and left the NERDS out for my nieces party because my niece didn't request them. The color scheme was the same and they sold out immediately at the dance and my niece smiled from ear to ear when she saw I call that success!

Did I mention EASY success:)

You'll need to make one white cake mix according to box directions.

Equally divide batter among 3 bowls. Mix in food coloring and divide one large box of Nerds between the 3 bowls and mix. Bake according to directions and frost with the same three colors of butter cream frosting. You'll find the frosting recipe with the sugar cookies I made in February.
Here is your three colors of cake mix.
Add your NERDS
Get your cupcakes pan ready with the liners.
Pick a color and put a tablespoon of batter in each cupcake liner, grab another color and repeat. You can layer the colors but I tried to put one tablespoon on one side and another color on the other side. Doesn't really matter, three color cupcakes are fun no matter how they turn out. Bake according to package directions.
This is what the cupcakes look like after they are baked.
Another view of the baked cupcakes. Now, get out three frosting bags or use a knife and smear on three different colors of frosting. Top with more NERD candy.
Time to hit the bake sale table.
Or a Happy Birthday Girl's tummy:)

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Spicy Peanut Butter Pasta

My favorite thing to eat is pasta. Spicy pasta is an added bonus. I made this the other night for a friend's birthday and it didn't disappoint, hope you like it too.

Spicy Peanut Butter Pasta

2 Chicken Breasts sliced thin
3 Cloves Garlic minced
1/2 small Red Onion diced
1 Bunch of Broccoli tops cut off into pieces, discard stock
2 inches Fresh Ginger sliced thin and minced
1/2 Red Pepper chopped
2-3 T Soy Sauce
1 C Peanut Butter
2 C Chicken Broth
1 C Shrimp cut in half ~ I use the frozen precooked ones that are thawed
1 1/2 T Chili Garlic Sauce
1 1/2 T Olive Oil
1 pkg Linguini Noodles cooked according to directions

Start pot of salted water to boil to cook Linguini noodles. When the water is boiling and you've added the noodles and given a stir, throw the broccoli into the water and cook for 2 minutes. Remove broccoli and let pasta finish cooking to your liking.

Cook chicken, garlic, red onion and 2 T soy sauce until chicken is cooked through. Add Ginger and Red Pepper, saute 2 minutes. Add Chicken Broth, Peanut Butter, Olive Oil and 1 T Chili Garlic Sauce. Cook until sauce thickens a bit,just a couple of minutes. Add shrimp, broccoli and noodles. Taste, if you want it spicier add another 1/2 T of Chili Garlic Sauce, 1 T more makes it really hot...that's how I like it but it's HOT!
Here is your chicken, onion and garlic. Add soy sauce and a few cranks of pepper.
This is what your broccoli looks like chopped up, washed and ready for the water.
Add the ginger and peppers and saute a couple of minutes.
Add peanut butter, chicken broth, Chili Garlic Sauce and oil. Cook for a few minutes until combined.
This is what the Chili Garlic Sauce looks like. You'll find it in the grocery aisle by the Asian food.
This is what the sauce looks like when it's cooked together.
Here is the broccoli cooking for 2 minutes with your noodles.
Add the shrimp to the sauce.
Add the broccoli to the sauce and 1/2 T of Chili Garlic Sauce.
Fold your pasta in and you're ready to eat unless you want to go really hot...add another 1/2 T of Chili Garlic Sauce.