Related Posts with Thumbnails

Make Your Own *@#* Tacos

>> 6/29/10

There is many a time after a long day when I get home to the "what's for dinner" whine and would love to turn around and say make your own *@#* dinner. Instead we turn those nights into "Make your own fish/chicken/pork/beef/bean tacos night. This is the perfect meal for reinventing leftovers or just cooking up one quick protein. In grilling season we favor fish tacos using quickly marinaded strips of fish. Did you know that fancy expensive bottled marinades are just salad dressings in disguise??? Marinate fish in your favorite dressing for 30 minutes, sear on the grill and put out with warm tortillas and an assortment of veggies and you have dinner in a flash that your family assembles themselves.

Halibut Fish Tacos
1 lb halibut sliced into 1 x 3 inch strips (fillet is easier to cut but steaks are cheaper)
juice of 1 lemon and two limes
1 tsp cumin
2 tsp oregano
3 tbs olive oil
Sides-chopped tomatoes, shredded napa cabbage, sliced red peppers, diced onions, cilantro
Sour Cream
Make marinade and place fish in
Chop sides and place in bowls buffet style on counter
Heat tortillas in 350 onion wrapped in foil
Quick grill (2 min per side) or saute in several tbs of marinade
To guard against huge dollops of sour cream overwhelming the meal, spread a thin layer on the tortilla as the base. It helps keep everything sticking together too!


Shrimp for Three Tastes

>> 6/26/10

Some would argue that you just make one meal for the entire family and "you get what you get." But that would mean that the parents have to simplify their foods down to the youngest taste buds - in our case, the nine-year-old boy.   I prepare food that I know my husband and I like and then dumb it down for the kids.   We get what we want and the kids get introduced in stages to new flavors.  Below, teenager's version to the left and kid's version to the right.

Shopping:  uncooked shrimp, corn on the cob, black beans, red pepper, tomatoes, avocado, cilantro, limes

Spicy Shrimp Salad for Grownups

Marinate shrimp for 30 minutes in 1 t olive and 1 T Mexican seasonings (chili powder, cumin, salt, a dash of cayenne pepper).

Serve over:  lettuce, fresh corn kernels (cut from cob), chopped: tomatoes, red pepper, avocados, onions, black beans (or use whatever salad ingredients you have on hand).

Add cilantro, dash of salt, lime juice and olive to season salad.

Teenager Shrimp Dinner Spin-off:  Grilled spicy shrimp, corn on the cob and raw red peppers

Kid Shrimp Dinner for the shrimps in the family Spin-off#2: Sauteed shrimp (dab of butter, lemon juice), sliced tomatoes, corn on the cob.

I admit, there is not anything green on these plates and we have a little more sugar in the meal than I normally like, but everyone was happy tonight and that goes along way in keeping mom off the w(h)ine.


Miso Dressing

>> 6/21/10

"I don't have time to make my own salad dressing!" When you're feeling brave and motivated by the alarming nutritional data on packaged dressings, try preparing your own.  My teenage daughter likes Asian Chicken Salad which we all know is loaded with sugars and sodium, but at least she's eating salad.  I found a more acceptable dressing that takes me minutes to prepare and she loves: Miso Dressing (adapted from The Conscious Cook - the vegan cookbook from Tal Ronnen) I've added some suggestions in case you don't want to purchase all of the ingredients.

Miso Dressing

2 T miso paste (Whole Foods, Asian food stores - I  keep it in my freezer)
3 T rice vinegar (sugar free is available)
1 T agave nectar (honey)
1/4 t sea salt (regular salt)
1/4 t ground pepper
1/2 shallot minced (2 T minced onion)
1 garlic clove (1 t chopped garlic in jar)
1 T dijon mustard
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1 T water

Pulse in food processor to combine.  With the motor running, in a slow stream, add 1/2 c. olive oil (canola oil or safflower oil acceptable).   You add the oil slowly to emulsify the dressing so the oil won't separate later.

This dressing is also great served over fish or chicken.

Note:  For calorie conscious folks, serve salad dressing on the side and dip your fork in it before each bite.  You'll use much less dressing and get all the flavor straight to your taste buds.


Beans Beans the Musical Fruit....

>> 6/17/10

Planning one vegetarian dinner a week is a simple way to a healthier diet. Unfortunately, we scientists confused y'all in the 70's by obsessing that vegetarian meals needed to contain all 26 "essential amino acids." Cross-referencing tables of ingredients is not conducive to whipping up meals for hungry families. Moreover, humans survived for thousands of years with little meat in their diet-and no clue about amino acids. To find a vegetarian meal with "complete protein" just look to the common combination found in almost every culture's heritage foods: Beans and Grains.

Italians in the mountains=peas and risotto
Every Asian culture=soybeans and rice
Ancient Incas=red beans and quinoa
Middle East=chickpeas and couscous
Fancy French=lentils and farro

In our house we follow the great tradition of black beans and rice. A pot of black beans cooked on Sunday can be used throughout the week as a comforting soup, a do-it yourself burrito, or sprinkled on a salad to up the nutrition and punch. Plus extra beans freeze great to be recycled at a later date. Freeze beans after the first cook then reheat with sauteed onion, garlic and peppers to zip up the flavor.

Sunday Black Beans

The source here is important-beans sitting in plastic bags on grocery shelves are old and require soaking overnight. Try to get beans from a store with bulk bins with lots of turn over. Even fresher are last seasons beans from the farmers market.

Count on 1/2 cup of dried beans per person
Rinse to remove any debris, place in large deep pot and cover with water about 1-2 inches above beans. Add a bay leaf, a pinch of salt per serving, and a green bell pepper cut into one inch strips. Bring to a gentle boil then drop to low heat and simmer for 1-2 hours. After first hour check beans for doneness every 15 minutes. Beans should be soft but not falling apart.

While cooking, in a separate pan saute garlic, onion, red pepper, salt cumin and oregano until soft and fragrant. Use 1/2 garlic clove, 1/4 onion and 1/4 red pepper and pinch of each spice per serving.

When beans are done set aside any for freezing or salads then add pepper/onion mix (the sofrito to you cubans) and cook an additional 15 minutes. For black bean soup remove one cup of beans, puree in a blender and add back to remainder.


Ahi Tuna Steak³

>> 6/14/10

Ahi tuna steaks were on sale, so we found ways to make them the basis for this week's meals.  I served the grilled tuna on the first night and then the other two meals became my "fast food" later in the week.  If you want to go really fast, make the dressing for the salad in advance as well.

Shop: - tuna steaks (double what you need for one meal), versatile vegetable like broccolini (more than you need for one meal), green beans, rice noodles, eggs, tomatoes, cilantro, limes, shallots, green onion.

Stock: - soy sauce, orange juice, sesame seeds, sesame oil, agave or honey, lemon, lettuce. kalamata olives, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar.

  1. Marinade tuna steaks in citrus juice for 30 minutes, start with orange juice, add in some lemon and lime juice, and at least a teaspoon of olive oil.
  2. Wash and clean vegetables and cilantro.
  3. Steam beans (slightly under cooked)
  4. Caramelize shallots - slice thinly, saute slowly with 1 t. butter until natural sugars emerge.
  5. Make rice noodle sauce:  1/4 c. soy sauce, 1 T agave, juice from 1 lime, 1 t. sesame oil
  6. Hard boil eggs

Grilled Tuna Steaks

Spray grill with canola oil (canola oil can take the heat).  Grill steaks for 8 minutes then flip and grill for another 5 minutes for medium cooked steaks.

Steam broccolini.   Serve with caramelized shallots.

Salad Nicoise

Sliced tuna steak
Green Beans
Hard boiled eggs
Kalamata olives

Dijon Dressing (makes one cup):

In food processor:  2 shallots, 1/4 c. white wine vinegar, 1 T Dijon mustard, 3/4 c. olive oil, 1/2 t agave, salt and pepper to taste.  Note;  if you want a dressing that stays emulsified, process ingredients without the oil first and then, with the motor running, add the oil in a steady thin stream until it is incorporated.

Assemble salad, drizzle dressing over. Add salt and freshly ground pepper.

Thai Noodles with Ahi Tuna

Rice noodles:  Add into boiling water and turn off heat.  Let cook for 10 minutes covered.  Drain. Place hot noodles in a bowl and, while hot, toss with 2/3 of your noodle sauce.  Note: Adding sauce to hot noodles helps them absorb the flavor.

Add in chopped cilantro, chopped green onion and sesame seeds.

Serve noodles with sliced tuna on top.  Drizzle remaining sauce over tuna.  Serve with sliced cucumbers.


Cantaloupe Fast Chop Video

>> 6/10/10

Early morning, kids hungry, carpool's honking, yet we took a few minutes to demonstrate how to peel and reveal this real food. It's that fast! Pardon the Blair Witch effect.

Melons are a good source of vitamin C and potassium and they're pretty. They have high water content are relatively low in calories, and also fat and cholesterol free. Check out all the melon facts at the CDC. And whenever you see a Tuscan melon, buy it. I've never found a Tuscan melon I didn't like.


Chicken Piccata Now & Again

>> 6/9/10

Chicken Piccata is a most forgiving and generous dish.  Incredibly easy to make and almost better the second time around.   I made this while listening to my dad contemplate how he will use up his perishable foods before he moves (he won't).

Chicken Piccata Now
4 Chicken breasts (Prepare at least double what you need for one meal)
1 Lemon
1 Qt Chicken broth
1 T capers
Olive oil
1 box pasta of your choice (whole wheat linguini)
Flour (whole wheat works here too)
salt pepper

  1. Slice breasts in half horizontally. (Pound between plastic wrap or in plastic bag to increase tenderness).
  2. Put flour and some salt and pepper in ziploc bag and place 2-3 breast pieces in, seal and shake.  Shake off flour.
  3. Heat oil in pan (2 T) over medium heat. 
  4. Cook pasta just a minute or two under the recommended time, drain.
  5. Brown chicken on both sides in large pan and then remove the chicken. 
  6. Pour chicken broth into pan, scraping the chicken drippings from the bottom of the pan.  Heat the broth and let it get thicker.  Don’t let it boil. 
  7. Add lemon juice (lemon zest if you’re ambitious) from lemon and capers. 
  8. Add the chicken back to the pan, let cook a little longer and add in the pasta. 
 Serve with vegetable.

Chicken Piccata Again
Freeze in vacuum sealed bags.  I use Foodsaver products I bought at Target. The manufacturer indicates that the handheld product and bags are for refrigerator only, but I froze the food and reheated it in simmering water without having to fork over $100+ for the freezing system.

Reheat in simmering water along with any vegetable (broccoli, asparagus).  Place vegetables in water midway through the reheat to blanche them.  Serve.


Reinvention + Cakes = Tasty Fishcakes

>> 6/7/10

Everyone knows how good fish is for both the brain and body. I could cite tons of studies or just point out that without lots of fatty salmon, I doubt that Native Alaskans could have survived both the depressing lack of sunlight and rigorous physical challenges that accompany winter in the far northwest of our continent. Like the natives we stock up on our Omega-3's in the summer when the wild salmon start running up river and the price of salmon runs down at the grocery. Because it's still costly and only around for a brief season, we use every bit of leftover salmon. (Coincidently also the name of a grunge band).

Crabcakes are a great way to take a small amount of an expensive ingredient-crab-and transform it into a big taste. So why not Salmon Cakes? Big taste means that small portions are satisfying. We serve 2 per person and add a big salad on the side. With small portions we can indulge in a recipe that includes a bit of cream and even drizzle a teaspoon of melted butter or garlic mayonnaise on top.

The flavor savor in the recipe below is panko, japanese bread crumbs. They give bulk and structure without getting heavy and gummy. Also note the small amount of canola in the pan, these are pan seared NOT deep fried. Finally I REALLY recommend at least 30 minutes in the fridge or freezer to firm them up. It is sad when they fall apart between the plate and the pan.

Recipe (adapted from Rays Boathouse)

2 Tbs chopped shallot
2 Tbs chopped red bell pepper (sweet)
2 Tbs chopped parsley
Juice of one lemon
1 egg
1 Tbs sherry
2 Tbs cream
Dash of Tabasco
Pinch of salt
Grind or two of pepper
Pinch of celery salt (for reformed New Englanders)

1/2 pound cooked salmon or crabmeat

1/2 cup panko + more for breading cakes

Mix first 11 ingredients into a bowl then mix in 1/2 cup of panko.
Gently fold in flaked salmon or crab.
Form into flat patties about 2-3 inches in diameter.
Coat patties with additional panko by gently placing in flat bowl with panko and pressing in on each side.
Place in fridge for several hours or in freezer for 30 minutes.
Pan sear on each side over high heat keeping pan slick with a small amount of canola oil.


Possibilities Waiting to be Created

Possibilities Waiting to be Created
Santa Monica Farmers Market

Crunch Time

Gives any well-intentioned cook, completely possible ways to get more real, fresh food onto the table without being shackled to a recipe or breaking the bank or getting an uprising from finicky eaters.
We are big on quick food prep - Chop Therapy - to make real food into fast food and we use what we term flavor savors that give a flavor punch to foods instead of using preservatives or processed ingredients.
We love getting the whole family involved in the food preparation effort. We also use some momgenutity for presenting real food in our homes so it stands a chance against the marketing assault of the Happy Meal.
Please share your ideas and share our posts with anyone you know who might want more real food in their meals.

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