Monday, June 27, 2011

Fish Tacos

I love taco night. However, ever since I taught John how to make homemade queso, he cares less about taco night because he gets his favorite part out of it - cheesy queso. I've made previous posts about queso, guacamole and ground turkey tacos. But this one is about even healthier tacos - fish tacos!

Now, I'm not always one for the healthiest of choices. In fact, before tonight, I'd never even eaten fish tacos. Probably bad for someone praising them, but sometimes you just need to have it be your own version before you can try it. No? Eh, either way, they were bloody delicious. (We watched Robin Hood tonight and apparently now I want to type in a British accent. Is that so wrong?)

Anyhoo...I basically started with my recipe for blackened tilapia and avocado aioli. Now I know there are many ways to season fish, but we just loved the tilapia so much I decided to repeat it. I figured it was a great way to cook the fish, but also to season it for tacos. I wanted to make it healthy, but still tasty.

It.Was.Soooo good. John "mmm'd" so many times and told me almost a dozen times that I had to make these again. Score!

I decided some skim mozzarella cheese, corn, tomatoes, lettuce and avocado ailoi would do the trick for toppings. Feel free to do whatever sounds tasty to you! Let me know how you seasoned yours. :)

*tilapia filets
*whole wheat tortillas

Tilapia Seasoning:
*1/2 tsp garlic powder
*1/2 tsp minced onion
*1/2 tsp ground cumin
*1 tsp chili powder (or more if you like it spicier!)
*1 tbsp panko whole wheat bread crumbs (optional, just makes it crispier)
*salt and pepper
*olive oil

Avocado Ailoli:
*about 1/2 of 1/4 cup light miracle whip (or other light mayo)
*about 1/2 of 1/4 cup nonfat greek yogurt
*3 garlic cloves, chopped
*juice of one lime
*1 ripe avocado, peeled with seed removed


*grape tomatoes, sliced
*skim mozzarella cheese (or your preference)
*frozen (or fresh) sweet corn, thawed
*lettuce, sliced
*avocado ailoli


*Combine bread crumbs, garlic powder, minced onion, ground cumin, chili powder and ½ tsp salt in a small bowl. Liberally sprinkle some of the mixture on both sides of each filet and set aside.

*Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add some olive oil to the pan. When the pan and oil is hot, add the filets and cook for 3 minutes per side or until just opaque in the center.

*Transfer filets to plates and let settle for a few minutes. Use a fork to pull apart the fish so it is good for taco stuffing. Garnish tacos with corn, tomato, cheese, avocado ailoi and whatever else you may desire. Enjoy!

Avocado Aioli:
*Puree the mayonnaise, nonfat greek yogurt, garlic, lime juice and avocado until smooth using a food processor or blender. (Note, if you need to make your sauce creamier add a little low sodium chicken broth to the mixture.) Transfer sauce to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Pulling apart the tilapia

Look at those toppings! Seasoned tilapia, avocado aioli, corn, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. YUM!

I think I need to go grab one more taco...

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Creamy Caprese Pasta

This recipe is amazing. We devoured two whole dishes of it in a matter of three days. Embarrassing? Maybe. Worth it? Totally. I'm even thinking about making it again this week. Too much? Eh, it's summer vacation. Maybe a little more running will be needed...

...Anyway, I love caprese salads. Seriously, I adore them. Tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil? Yum. If - no when - I go to Italy, I plan to try a caprese salad at every restaurant, much like I tried creme brulee at every restaurant I went to in France (Megan did it with me so I wasn't completely crazy!).

Anyway...when I saw this recipe for Creamy Caprese Pasta on one of my favorite cooking blogs, How Sweet It Is, I knew I had to make it. (Seriously check out her website if you haven't already - it's awesome!) Combining my favorite salad into a wholesome pasta dish? Yes, please!

I ended up cooking too much pasta so some of my quantities are different from the original recipe. Feel free to check hers out, or follow mine if you're looking for a great meal to refrigerate or freeze for later! (Who doesn't like that?!) I also used my own tomato sauce recipe, but you're welcome to use your favorite store brand for a much quicker meal.

*1 pound whole wheat pasta (noodles such as penne work best)
*2 cups of your favorite pasta/tomato sauce (my own tomato sauce recipe)
*2/3 cup heavy cream or half and half
*1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese + more for garnish (I forgot to grab some fresh so I used the regular canister kind)
*4 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into cubes, plus about 2-4 more ounces sliced into rounds
*1 pint of grape tomatoes (I cut some in half and left some whole)
*1 bunch of fresh basil leaves (about 3-5 basil leaves)

*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta according to package directions.

*While pasta is cooking, heat tomato sauce over low heat in a large saucepan. (Or start making your own!) Once warm, stir in heavy cream and grated parmesan.

*Once pasta is done cooking, drain and dump into the sauce, mixing to coat and turning off heat. Fold in mozzarella cubes and tomatoes, then chop 3-4 fresh basil leaves and add them in too.

*Once combined, spray a baking dish with non-stick spray and pour the entire pasta mixture into the dish. Top with fresh mozzarella rounds. Bake for 25 minutes, or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

*Serve with garlic bread, veggies, or whatever you'd like! Feel free to add more basil and cheese for garnish on top. Yummm!

 Loving these ingredients.

Pasta coated in sauce

Adding mozzarella and tomatoes

Next step: basil!

Mozzarella rounds on top for an extra cheesy dish! Note: Using a serrated knife makes it MUCH easier to cut mozzarella cheese and even spices like basil!

Looking yummy

Mmmm :)

So cheesy!! We loved it!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Honey BBQ Meatballs

How many of you have been to a baby shower, bridal shower, or some other type of party where they serve those delicious barbeque meatballs out of a slow cooker? I've been to many, and each time I find myself pulled to the BBQ meatballs like a magnet. And somehow, I don't manage to leave until I've devoured way too many.

Anyway...John has requested I make these for some time now. Now, I was sure I could find an easy way to make them. However, easy doesn't always mean it won't be time-consuming. Now that it's summer, I've found myself with a lot of extra time (honestly, too much time). So I decided to embark on making these tasty meatballs...from scratch.

I used the lovely Google to search for recipes. Some called for frozen meatballs (which I would recommend if you don't want to spend a lot of time on these) others created everything from scratch. After drawing inspiration from Rachael Ray, Barefoot Contessa and Man-Tested Recipes (I aim to please!), I decided to experiment and come up with my own recipe.

The result? They were soooo good! John actually fist-bumped me over it. I think he ate about 15 good-sized meatballs. I only ate five, not because they weren't delicious, but because they were so filling! And since half is made with ground turkey it's leaner than regular meatballs. No guilt here. :)

Honey BBQ Meatballs
Recipe by Call Me Mrs. Rapp, with inspiration from Rachael Ray, Barefoot Contessa & Man-Tested Recipes
Yields about 45 meatballs 
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*1 lb lean ground turkey
*1 lb ground beef
*1 egg, beaten
*1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
*1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese (I used the kind you sprinkle on spaghetti - nothing fancy)
*1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning
*1 teaspoon garlic powder
*1 tablespoon minced onion
*extra virgin olive oil

Honey BBQ Sauce:
*1/2 red onion, chopped finely
*1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
*1/4 cup brown sugar
*1/2 cup honey mustard
*1/2 teaspoon allspice
*1/2 teaspoon curry powder
*2 tablespoons vegetable oil
*2 cups Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbeque sauce


*Combine all ingredients except for olive oil in a large bowl. Honestly, just go for it and mash it all together with your hands. It's messy, but will be most effective.

*When ingredients are mixed together, roll them into about 1-1 1/2 inch balls. Place them on a plan as you roll them out to keep your counters raw-meat free!

*Heat olive oil in a large skillet (I used my sear pan which is about 1/4 inch deep). Place meatballs on the skillet (mine took 3 batches) and don't overcrowd. The goal is to brown all sides of the meatballs but not cook them completely. By browning them they should retain their shape and not fall apart in the slow cooker.  

*Once all meatballs are browned, place them in the slow cooker. Pour the homemade honey BBQ sauce plus 2 cups of Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbeque Sauce in the slow cooker. (Or, use a whole bottle of BBQ sauce and skip the homemade sauce).

*Cook on low for 4-6 hours. Serve as an appetizer, or like we did, as a entree with a side of veggies! :)

Honey BBQ Sauce:
*Pour vegetable oil in a small saucepan and saute onions for about 5 minutes. (I waited for mine to brown slightly because I wanted to be sure they gave a sweet taste and weren't too noticeable texturally.)

*Add vinegar and reduce by half, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add brown sugar and cook for 1 minute to incorporate. Whisk in broth, honey mustard, allspice and curry powder. Bring sauce to a bubble, and reduce to low heat.

*Pour over meatballs in slow cooker, plus 2 cups of Sweet Baby Ray's Honey Barbeque Sauce. (Or, double the homemade recipe and only use that. I wanted the combo).

*For pictures of the Honey BBQ sauce see my post Slow-Cooked Honey BBQ Chicken

On the pan and ready to be browned. Look at how many!

Browning - careful not to crowd them or they'll stick together!

About to come off the skillet.

All in the slow cooker.

Drenched in BBQ sauce and slow cooking away.
Served in a bowl with extra sauce drizzled on top. Mmm :)

Crispy Chicken Tenders

I felt like making the Crispy Baked "Fried" Chicken I made a few months back, but I wanted to add a little twist to it. I thought if I could make these as chicken tenders  I would get a leg up on when I have little ones running around who only want to eat chicken fingers. I think this would be a ball - albeit a bit messy - to make with little kids. Best yet? It's still a healthy chicken meal that is baked and full of whole grain and fiber.  Did you know that a serving of Grape Nut Flakes has half the recommended daily value of whole grains? It has a slightly sweet taste to it, which we loved. I will definitely be making these easy, juicy, crispy chicken tenders again soon! Maybe even to put over a nice salad...

*Note: I didn't take pictures of my making these since it is so similar to the above posted recipe for Baked "Fried" Chicken. It's the same process, just with slightly modified quantities and with chicken tenders instead of chicken breasts. Feel free to check out the pictures from the Baked "Fried" Chicken if you get confused! :)

*chicken tenders (I used 8)
*2 cups Grape Nut Flakes Cereal
*1/3 cup buttermilk
*3/4 teaspoon paprika
*less than 1/4 teaspoon sage
*a few tablespoons flour

*Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. 

*Place flour on a plate or in a bowl. Salt and pepper both sides of chicken breasts. Press chicken breasts into flour so all parts are covered. Shake off any excess flour. Discard the flour when you're done and place chicken breasts aside.

*Place Grape Nut Flakes in a plastic bag and seal as tightly as possible. Use a rolling pin to crush the flakes until they are ground well.

*In a bowl big enough to dredge chicken through, mix buttermilk, sage, and paprika. Coat each chicken breast in mixture and then roll in ground Grape Nut Flakes. (You can shake it in the bag or on a plate, but it is messy either way!).

*Place the chicken breasts on a rack in a roasting pan or on a sheet pan (the rack keeps both sides equally crispy, though you could lay them flat on a pan and just flip them to keep it even). Bake for 10 minutes at 425 degrees. After 10 minutes, turn the oven down to 375 degrees and bake for an additional 12 minutes.

So yummy! Perfectly crispy on the outside yet juicy on the inside.

As part of a balanced meal...

...or fun with dipping sauces! Might I suggest ketchup, honey barbeque sauce and/or honey mustard?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Baked Coconut Shrimp with Pineapple Peach Salsa

Have I ever told you how much I love coconut shrimp? Well I do. So much so it was one of the dishes served at my wedding. I just love the flavors and texture that comes with coconut shrimp. When I saw this recipe on one of my new favorite blogs How Sweet It Is, I knew I had to make it asap.

Let me tell you, this was amazing! John thought it was awesome and called it "unique." He told me that normally when people say something is "unique" it means it's not good, but he just couldn't think of a better way to describe the delicious flavors in this dish. Now, I used the cocktail-sized shrimp, but when I make this again I will definitely splurge on the jumbo shrimp. It will make it easier to devour this great dish. :)

Coconut Baked Shrimp

*1 pound tail-on, peeled and deveined shrimp (I used half a 2 lb bag of thawed frozen shrimp)
*1 1/3 cup lite coconut milk
*4 tablespoons olive oil (I infused mine with some chopped tarragon and heated it over low heat)
*4 cloves garlic, minced
*1/2 teaspoon salt
*1/2 teaspoon pepper
*1/2 cup whole wheat panko bread crumbs
*6 tablespoons shredded coconut
*4 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon (If you don’t like tarragon, sub parsley)

*Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Spray a 13×9 baking dish with non-stick spray.

*In a bowl, combine coconut milk, olive oil, garlic and tarragon. Place shrimp in the bowl to marinate for a few minutes. In another bowl, mix bread crumbs and coconut.

*Pour the shrimp and about half the coconut milk mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle bread crumb and coconut mixture over shrimp.

*Bake for 20 minutes, or until bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve shrimp and spoon a bit of the coconut milk mixture over top. Top with salsa.

Pineapple Peach Salsa

*1/4 cup chopped pineapple (about 4 large chunks)
*1/3 cup chopped peaches (I used 2 white peaches)
*1/4 cup chopped tomatoes
*1 tablespoon chopped tarragon
*1/4 teaspoon salt
*1/4 teaspoon pepper
*juice of half a lemon

*Combine all ingredients in a bowl, spritz with lemon and toss to mix. It will stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days! 

Ready to begin!

Coconut milk mixture and shrimp

Bread crumb mixture

Ready for the oven

Out of the oven

Delicious! Happy Mrs. Rapp :)

Blackened Tilapia with Avocado Aioli

The last time I was at the store I noticed a bag of frozen tilapia was on sale for less than $5. That is the kind of deal I like, so I grabbed a bag and decided I would expand my cooking skills a bit more. I did some research and found this recipe and made a few modifications based on what we had. This dish was, as usual, so simple, yet absolutely delicious. I lost count of how many times John told me he loved the fish! When you go the extra step and make the avocado aioli, it's the perfect summer dish.

*tilapia filets
*1/2 tsp garlic powder
*1/2 tsp minced onion
*1/2 tsp ground cumin
*1 tsp chili powder (or more if you like it spicier!)
*1 tbsp panko whole wheat bread crumbs (optional, just makes it crispier)
*salt and pepper
*olive oil
*1/4 cup light miracle whip (or other light mayo)
*3 garlic cloves, chopped
*juice of one lime
*1 ripe avocado, peeled with seed removed


*Combine bread crumbs, garlic powder, minced onion, ground cumin, chili powder and ½ tsp salt in a small bowl. Liberally sprinkle some of the mixture on both sides of each filet and set aside.

*Puree the mayonnaise, garlic, lime juice and avocado until smooth using a food processor or blender. (Note, if you need to make your sauce creamier add a little low sodium chicken broth to the mixture. My avocado was perfectly ripe and added enough oil so this wasn't necessary for me.) Transfer sauce to a small bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste.

*Heat a skillet over medium high heat and add some olive oil to the pan. When the pan and oil is hot, add the filets and cook for 3 minutes per side or until just opaque in the center.

*Transfer filets to plates and serve with a small dollop of avocado aioli on top.

The aioli - - which was great on salmon too!

Time to cook!

One side done

Ta-da! I garnished with cherry tomato to give it some more color.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Italian Salmon

I should preface this by saying I don't really know if this is Italian salmon. I made up the recipe on a whim the other night, and its main ingredient was Italian bread crumbs, thus the name "Italian Salmon." To be honest I wasn't sure how this would turn out. I didn't have the energy for a meal that would take more than 15 minutes and a couple steps, and this dish was born. It turned out to be super yummy, and John didn't stop raving about it! I made it again last night to have for lunch this week, and it was just as tasty the second time around. :)

*salmon filets (you know I love the frozen ones!)
*Italian style bread crumbs
*olive oil
*salt and pepper

*Turn broiler to 500 degrees.

*Drizzle salmon with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and the bread crumbs. Pat them on so that they stick a little more easily.

*Place salmon on a pan directly, or on a type of grill plate above a pan (as I prefer to do). Cook for 8-12 minutes, or until flaky. Enjoy your easy, breezy meal!

About to go into the oven.

Salmon and green beans, yum :)

The bread crumbs give flavor and a slight crisp!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Caprese Paninis

With the school year coming to an end I was so busy that I barely had time to make decent dinners. Enter the panini maker, which takes a sandwich to another level. Not only are they as simple as making a regular sandwich, John claims my paninis are better than Panera's, and he doesn't even like going there anymore! Score for our pocketbook and our ego.

If you've got a panini maker, experiment with mustards, cheeses, meats, fillings, seasonings, etc. I have my favorites but I've yet to make a panini I didn't like. If you don't have a panini maker, you can grill these like you would a grilled cheese. And I would highly recommend saving some Bed Bath and Beyond 20% off coupons and putting it on your next gift list! With a coupon you can get one for about $40. I've definitely used mine enough to make it worth it.

*mozzarella cheese
*fresh basil leaves
*sliced tomato
*dijon mustard

*Start with mustard on both slices of bread. Alternate cheese, turkey, tomato, basil, cheese and turkey. Coat both sides with extra virgin olive oil. Place in panini maker for about 3 minutes, or until cheese is melted and outside is golden brown.

Salmon with Spinach & Feta

Now that I'm regularly buying frozen salmon - love how cheap it is! - I'm making more and more salmon recipes. I saw this one on Jourdan's blog and knew it would be perfect for a quick meal. Not only was it super easy - and healthy! - it was ready in a flash. I will definitely be making this again, especially if I'm pressed for time and looking for something flavorful and satisfying.

*salmon filets
*frozen spinach, thawed
*feta cheese
*salt and pepper
*herbs provence

*Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

*Place the salmon on a pan. Drizzle with lightly with olive oil, and sprinkle salt, pepper and herbs provence. Place the spinach on top of the salmon, followed by the feta.

*Bake for 12 minutes, or until flaky. Enjoy! :)

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