Recipe Revelation: baked potato chip tilapia

So the Sunday Supper feature kind of fell by the wayside, along with all blogging plans in the past month. Life got a little too busy, but I expect to pick back up with that weekly recipe plan in a week or so. Life is still a little nuts, but a girl’s gotta eat, even during finals, so here’s a little something that grew out of a mistake (no breadcrumbs in the house) and turned into something really quite delicious.

I’ve been experimenting with fish recipes, but my fall-back is just a baked fillet with rice and veggies. While that’s terribly healthy, sometimes it’s a little, let’s face it, boring. This baked potato chip tilapia so isn’t. The vinegar makes it super tangy, the potato-chip breading gives it a great crunch and best of all, I already had all the ingredients!  

Here’s what you need:

  • 1-2 fish fillets (I used tilapia. use whatevs.)
  • an egg white
  • 1 tsp white vinegar
  • whatever spices you prefer (I used dill and onion pepper)
  • the crumb-y end of a bag of chips (I had plain chips—if you are using flavored, adjust spices accordingly)
  • cooking spray

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat the oven to 400
  • Spray a shallow baking dish with cooking spray.
  • Rinse and pat dry the (thawed) fish fillets.
  • Combine the egg white with about a teaspoon of water, whisk it up into a bubbly froth.
  • Crumble the bag of potato chips as well as possible (I should have done this for a few more seconds. You’ll notice the breading is more chip pieces than crumbs. Didn’t affect the taste.)
  • Dredge the fish fillets in the egg-white mixture.
  • Place fish in chip bag and gently shake to coat.
  • Arrange coated fish in baking dish.
  • Sprinkle whatever spices you’re using on top of the fish.
  • Drizzle the vinegar on top of the fish.
  • Cook at 400 for 18-20 minutes, until fish flakes easily.

And voila! Lunch is done.

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Totally tastes like fall: apple, feta, and walnut pizza

Lordy, it’s been a long time since I’ve posted. November is never a very peaceful time in a student’s world—recalcitrant projects and impending deadlines and escalating stress levels have all combined to make my life a bit less relaxed than I’d prefer. And when sleep is a luxury, then blogging definitely is. 

However, after pulling an all-nighter for a project on Monday, Tuesday morning I went to bed and just about slept the clock round. And now I feel fabulous, energetic, and creative. 

Photo1So for lunch today, I made an apple, feta, and walnut pizza. Holy mother, delicious. And somehow, it just tastes like fall. (Also, I had the ingredients for this at home. Nothing like creating something delicious just out of what’s in the kitchen.)

I used this recipe on Healthy Foodie, subbing in things I had for the few things I didn’t.

Here’s what you need:

  • Pizza dough (I used a can of whole wheat pizza dough, use whatever you are comfortable with. Someday I plan to include making pizza dough from scratch among my projects… but not today.)
  • 2 apples (I used Granny Smith), sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup of walnuts, crushed
  • about 2 1/2 oz of feta cheese (or goat cheese, but I had feta)
  • about 1 oz of shredded cheddar (or moz, but again, I had cheddar)
  • olive oil
  • ground nutmeg
  • rosemary

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat oven to 500 degrees
  • Situate your pizza dough on the pan (if you are a newbie to the pizza-making process like me, and used a can, then instructions are on the can. If you’re going old-school, then I imagine you already have a process. Basically just oil the pan and spread the dough out.)
  • Lightly spread olive oil on the dough (I used my [clean, obviously] hands: just pour a little into your palms and pat the dough till very slightly oiled.)
  • sprinkle ground nutmeg on the dough (I thought this would be weird, and I can definitely taste it, but it’s absolutely amazing.)
  • sprinkle shredded cheddar or mozzarella cheese on nutmeg
  • lay apple slices on cheese
  • sprinkle on feta or goat cheese (as little or as much as you prefer)
  • sprinkle on chopped walnuts
  • toss some chopped rosemary on top
  • Bake for 9-10 minutes.

Photo3And oh-my-god. This would be a great (and kind of unusual) appetizer (I’m picturing individual size pizzas, cut with large cookie cutters) or perfect with soup and salad as a dinner. Or all by itself, consumed over the computer while wrestling with school projects, as I am doing. Regardless—I’ll make this again, and you totally should too.

 

Sunday Supper: Beefy Vegetable Soup

In an attempt to continue to expand my culinary horizons, I’m challenging myself to try a new recipe each week.
I’ll relate my triumphs and failures here, just in time for your Sunday supper.
 food collage

I’m not the most organized person in the world. Or let me put that in a less self-critical way—I have a lot going on right now. Things like planned-out trips to the grocery, complete with shopping list, don’t always make it from the ideal to the actual. I tend to run in to the store for a bottle of Diet Coke, remember I’m out of ranch dressing, decide I need a few cans of soup halfway down aisle four and walk out with three bags full of things that may or may actually make a meal. Which is fine—I live less than a minute from the corner shop. It’s not like I’m going to starve if I don’t lay in provisions for the long, hard winter.  Or that we really have long, hard winters here in South Carolina.

Because of my slightly random method of shopping, I often end up with multiples of things I use frequently. Which would be lovely, if space were unlimited. Since is definitely not unlimited, the four bags of frozen peas in the freezer are kind of  cramping my style.

I’m getting braver in the kitchen (yay!), and I’ve had a bit of a revelation: all of the recipes for, say, chicken dumplings are essentially the same. If I can learn to do the basics—and those are really basic and seem to be more about proper tools than anything else—then it’s just a matter of finding the recipes that I prefer. Recipes that go together quickly, that don’t require things not usually in my pantry, that taste good to me, and that do what I need them to do (like freeze and thaw well or use up extra stuff in the freezer)–that’s really all I need.

So instead of framing this cooking thing I’m doing as a learning experience—me as the  acolyte to some god of cooking—I’m actually just interviewing the recipes. Some work, some don’t, some are a bit too high-maintenance to be happy here, some will be used fourteen more times before Christmas. I’m not sure why that seems such an important distinction—but it shifts the power back to me. And hey, I’m in favor of anything that makes me feel more in control of my life.

This Beefy Vegetable Soup was sort of a start out with this, let’s throw that in, and oh, that’s about to go bad so throw that in too type recipe. And it was delicious. I’ll tell you what I did—just in case you want a detailed recipe–but you could easily switch out the veggies for whatever you have too much of, switch the ground beef for that bit of ground turkey that’s been hanging out in your freezer for too long… whatever. Make it up as you go. It’ll be delicious, you’ll see.

Here’s what I used: 10.29.11 095

  • 1 pound of ground meat (I used 1/2 a pound of breakfast sausage and 1/2 a pound of ground beef.)
  • an onion
  • a few potatoes
  • 1 large can of crushed tomatoes (28 oz size)
  • veggies: I used half a bag of baby carrots, chopped into medallions; a 16 oz bag of frozen corn; a can of diced tomatoes; and about 20 oz (a bag and a half) of frozen peas.
  • a clove of garlic, salt, pepper

Here’s what I did:

  • Sautee onion and garlic together, until onion is soft and translucent, in a large soup pot.
  • Add meat and brown it.

10.29.11 100

  • Add can of crushed tomatoes to pot, then fill the can with water and add that to pot as well. (This is the base of the soup—add more water as you’re cooking if it seems too thick. The more veggies I added, the more water I added. Since we’re not working with precise quantities, it’s more of a how it looks to you kind of thing.)
  • If you’re using any other cans of tomatoes (I did, because I wanted a few tomato chunks in the soup) go ahead and add that now.
  • Add the solid vegetables: carrots and potatoes

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  • Simmer for 20 minutes. Grab a spoon and check the carrots and potatoes at the end of that time. They shouldn’t be crunchy—depending on how big your pieces were, you might need to add a bit more time.
  • While the soup is simmering, thaw any frozen vegetables you’re using. I had 2 steamer bags, so I could put them straight in the microwave. If you’ve got traditional bags, then put the vegetables in a microwave safe bowl, add enough water to cover, 10 minutes in the microwave (or look at the instructions on the back of the bag) and drain. Canned vegetables? just drain and add to soup.
  • Add the frozen veggies as soon as they aren’t frozen anymore.
  • Soup is done when the vegetables are done. 

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And good god, is it delicious. I think I’ve eaten four bowls of it in the past 24 hours. The tomato base makes it really tangy, the meat kind of mellows it out and all of those vegetables just make you feel invincible.

This took about 40 minutes—maybe 15 minutes actually standing at the stove or chopping, the rest just waiting on things to simmer, and it made so much soup that I’m pretty sure I could feed the entire resistance. If, you know, that’s what I needed to do. 

Enjoy! 

Sunday Supper: Crock Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder

In an attempt to continue to expand my culinary horizons, I’m challenging myself to try a new recipe each week.
I’ll relate my triumphs and failures here, just in time for your Sunday supper. food collage

This chowder might just be easier than my go-to chili recipe, and that’s saying something. Which is good— today I need all the easy I can get. 

books.10.16.11I’m spending the day at my the kitchen table, cranking out annotations for my Victorian Ghosties bibliography. It’s due Tuesday. And I don’t get to leave the table until my homework is done.

My self-imposed imprisonment is being aided and abetted by the chowder that is currently simmering in the crockpot. If I didn’t have to be in the kitchen, I’d probably be in here anyway, just sniffing the air.

Whenever I think about posting a recipe, especially one this easy, I have a totally self-conscious moment in which I imagine someone else reading this, in a magazine-perfect kitchen complete with granite counters and one of those multi-functional islands that always have kid sitting on them in the advertisements, shaking her head and thinking The poor dear. That’s not cooking! That’s just opening cans! Anyone could do that! And then she turns back to the stove to snip some fresh herbs into whatever smells so delicious in that pot on the stove.

And then I give myself a mental slap, tell myself to snap out of it, and chill.

But she’s right—whoever this judgey cook-person is—anyone could do this. And that’s kind of the point. I do a lot of fumbling in the kitchen. I’m still figuring out the best and easiest way to crush garlic, to debone a chicken, to sear a steak. But I’m learning. And if I don’t know what I’m doing, then chances are good that some of you don’t either. Or maybe you are spectacularly brilliant in the kitchen, but are as busy as the rest of us, and could really use a few really simple recipes to alleviate some of the stress. I bet even Miz Stepford in my head could use a little less stress.

So, without further ado, Crock Pot Chicken and Corn Chowder (because I have it on good authority that you don’t get to call it chowdah unless you’re from a somewhat more chilly geographic region.)

Here’s what you need:

  • 2 cans of condensed cream-of soup, 1 chicken, 1 whatever (chicken, onion, mushroom, celery… let the pantry decide)
  • 2 cans of corn, 1 creamed and 1 whole kernel (drain the water out of the whole kernel)
  • 2 big cans (10 oz) chunk chicken, drained (or 2-2 1/2 cups of chopped cooked chicken)
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup roasted red bell pepper (or 1/4 cup chopped bell pepper)
  • salt, pepper, thyme
  • 1 1/2 cup milk

Here’s what you do:

  • Combine everything except the milk in your crock pot
  • Cook on low for 4-5 hours
  • Add milk and cook another half hour or so, until it’s hot.

And voila! Supper’s done. And it was super quick, super easy, and holy mother is it super good. 

ETA- two months later, I just thawed and ate the last serving of this soup. Seriously delicious. It kept getting chosen before other (more complicated and definitely more time-consuming) things in the kitchen. While I thought this was a one-off, just to use up all that corn in the pantry, this is definitely making it into permanent rotation. Can I say again that it’s delicious? Don’t skip the roasted red bell pepper, adds a great kick. 

 

Sunday Supper: Maple Mustard Pork Chops with Baked Apples

In an attempt to continue to expand my culinary horizons, I’m challenging myself to try a new recipe each week.
I’ll relate my triumphs and failures here, just in time for your Sunday supper. food collage

A few weeks ago I posted a recipe for a cider-sauce pork chop; I planned to wait a bit before sharing another pork chop recipe… but alas, many of my dinner decisions depend on what happens to be in the freezer and the pantry. This recipe for Maple Mustard Pork Chops only needed ingredients that were in my pantry (and likely yours, too), the preparation for the entire meal took less than half an hour, and lordy, but it was delicious.  Halfway through cooking the pork chop I decided to try some sort of baked apple concoction, and I highly recommend the addition.

The glaze tastes much more complex than it is—the sweetness of the syrup and the tang of the mustard and the heat of the garlic combine in weird and wonderful ways. Absolutely delicious–I think I’m going to try using this glaze as a salad dressing sometime. But that’s a concoction for another day—as for today, we’re making pork chops.

Here’s what you need: maple.mustard.pork.chop.ingredients

  • Pork chops, bone in, approximately 1/2 inch to an inch thick. One per person.
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp Dijon course-ground mustard (I used Grey Poupon)
  • 1 tsp garlic paste or minced garlic (I used minced garlic)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • one apple per person

Here’s what you do:

  • Coat a broiler pan or large skillet with olive oil, preheat pan and oven to 375 degrees
  • Prepare pork chops by sprinkling each side with salt and pepper
  • Place chops in preheated pan and broil for 8-9 minutes per side
    • {meanwhile…}
  • Mix your glaze: in a small bowl combine syrup mustard and garlic, set aside

mustard.maple.glaze

  • Wash and core your apples (leaving fruit as intact as possible), place in a bowl, cover and microwave for 3-4 minutes, or until tender

cored.apple

    • {now back to the oven}
  • When the chops are done, spread each with the glaze and slide back into the oven for 2-3 minutes, until the glaze is bubbly

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  • Plate the chops, leaving the remaining glaze in the pan
  • Chop the baked apples into largish pieces (fourths or sixths) and stir them and any apple juices in the bowl into the pan with the remaining glaze, put the pan with apples back in the oven for 2-3 minutes, until glaze is bubbling

baked.apple

  • Voila! I’d suggest a leafy green salad with some sort of vinegary dressing to offset the tartness of the chops and the sweetness of the apples.

chop.apple

Delicious!

When I die

skip the flowers. Bury me with one of these.

grilled.cheese

Inspired by A Beautiful Mess’s 9 grilled cheese sandwiches, I made my version for dinner tonight. Mother-of-god. So good I had to share. Well, I’ll share the recipe, anyway; the sandwich is all mine. I drizzled a bit of Italian dipping sauce (olive oil with Italian herbs) over a baguette, topped that with Swiss cheese, sliced tomatoes, dill weed and a sprinkle of salt. I put the whole thing in a skillet for a few minutes, just to get the edges of the cheese melty, and basically inhaled the whole thing. Yup. Absolutely delicious.

And you? Have you an utterly brilliant grilled cheese combo? Do tell! We all need more ways to eat melted cheese and bread! 

Calm-the-Crazies Chili

Chili in August, you ask? Have I gone completely around the bend? Well, perhaps. My semester started out with a bang, a deluge, an avalanche…I spent the weekend much more diligently employed than I usually find myself this early in the semester. I’m a bit more comfortable with the marathon research sessions coming at the end of the semester—so I’m feeling perhaps just a tad overwhelmed at the moment. But shall survive, shall struggle on, shall prevail.

Onward and upward and all that crap. 

So, to fuel the next ten hours at my desk, I need to make dinner from things in the pantry, it has to be really quick, and (ideally) it will provide enough food for me for several days. So yep, chili in August.

Here’s what you need:

    1. Ground beef or turkey. Somewhere between half a pound and a pound.
    2. An onion, chopped
    3. A can or two of diced tomatoes
    4. A few cans of beans

Here’s what you do:

1. Toss the beef and chopped onion in the skillet, let the meat brown. Photo2

2. Transfer meat and onions to a soup pot, add (liquid and all) all of your cans of stuff. Photo1 (2)

Photo3

3. Stir it up, add about a can and a half of water. Photo4

(I also tossed in half of a green pepper that was getting ready to go bad, a shake or so of Mrs. Dash and some paprika. And half a beer. Because I wanted the other half. But none of that is strictly necessary.)

Leave all of this simmering on the stove and go do some homework. Come back in an hour, three hours, whatever. It’ll be ready when you are.

And it takes about 10 minutes (I timed myself. Because I’m cool like that.) and you have food for a week. Aren’t you fabulous? Yep, you are.

Now get back to work.

You can take your dinner with you.