Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Basa Tacos

My family and I are continuing to enjoy Basa fish. This week we decided to take it south of the border. At first I was planning on making Basa with a little salsa and beans on the side. Phil came up with the great idea of turning this in to tacos--with lettuce for the taco shells. It was perfect. Thanks for another great one, babe.

Basa Fresh Tacos
4 pieces of Basa Fish
1 lime
salt and pepper
1 head Romaine lettuce
1 can black beans
1 pkg frozen corn
Sour Cream
1. First lets prep the lime. Zest about 2 TBSP and set aside. Cut the lime in half. Leave one side cut in half and cut the other into wedges.
2. Prep the fish for the broiler or grill. Lay it flat, salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle with the 1/2 of the lime zest. Squeeze the juice of the half lime over the fish. Cook through.
3. Use the Romaine leaves as the taco shells. Cut the cooked fish and layer into the lettuce leaf. Top your taco with your choice. We used salsa, a small amount of sour cream and hot sauce for the hubs.
4. Mix the corn and black beans together and cook in microwave until cooked through. Mix in salt and pepper to taste and the remaining lime zest. This would be great on the tacos too.
Such a fresh way to eat tacos. No heavy mexican food regret after this meal. Today for lunch, I took the left over beans and corn, chopped a few leaves of romaine and tossed both with salsa and a little sour cream. Healthy and full of protein and veggies with a hint of lime from the beans/corn mix. It was delicious.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Fresh Herbs from the Garden

Let me take a minute to say...this girl has never had fresh anything grow at her house. The previous owners of our home grew chives, mint, citronella (which I thought was more mint) and pineapple mint (I really need to investigate what the heck that is). Odd combo, but hey...who am I to judge.

I have to say that there is nothing like eating fresh herbs from your garden. I have been going outside in the morning and cutting chives to mix in with our morning scrambled egg whites--back on a healthy eating kick. Some chives chopped, a little salt and pepper, a pinch of sharp cheddar. Best breakfast or lunch. It is so simple, low cal and really good. Plus, its the idea that these grew at home and I just had to grab them. I love it! The picture below is with sun-dried tomatoes added--gotta love the iphone...pictures anywhere!

The mint is another story...I am not known to use mint when I cook. I often find it very overwhelming. The only thing I know to do with it is Mojitos. While my husband does love when I make pitchers of Mojitos...I have enough mint to sell at a farmers market and make Mojitos every day of the week. It keeps multiplying and spreading and is now thigh high (I am only 5'1"). Have a great mint recipe? Feel free to share in the comments section or stop by and pick some for yourself! :-)

The herbs did get me thinking of all the herbs I use and how much I pay for them. So, Phil and I went to the Farmers Market in our little town and bought cilantro, rosemary and basil. We found some heirloom tomatoes that I was totally psyched about and then Phil added in some jalapeno plants. I guess we now officially have a garden! Maybe we will even put compost on it since the previous owners left a big compost maker too. (kinda scared of "stranger" compost to be honest)

I need to get all the plants in the ground and then watch them grow. I am excited by the idea of going outside and getting more organic herbs and veggies for the meals I make my family. This is shaping up to be a great summer.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Basa Fish--YUM!

I have been intrigued the last few weeks at my fish counter by a fish called Basa. It is super cheap! Which intrigues and yet concerns me. A woman actually came up to me at the counter and started telling me how much she loves it (yep, small town livin') I asked her how she typically prepares it and she says "I dip it in mayonnaise and then breadcrumbs. I fry it in just a tiny bit of oil." SIGH...not quite what I was looking for. I love that she is worried about how much oil she is using when she dips the fish in straight up mayo. To each their own. She was a sweet older lady and I wouldn't have likely bought the Basa without her recommendation.

I brought the fish home and then did a little research. It is a member of the catfish family raised in Vietnam. There looks like this fish went through some controversy during 2000-2001.

I figured I would put this fish to the ultimate test. I was not going to panko it and hide the taste, I was going to grill it and see what happens. A big gamble for fish.

Here is what I did

Lemon Basa Fish
4 pieces of Basa (skinned and deboned into filets by the fish counter)
1 lemon and the zest
handful of chopped fresh cilantro or flat leaf parsley, chopped
A sprinkle of McCormick's Montreal Steak Seasoning

Wash the fish and pat dry. Lie out in your grill fish basket (only seasoning one side so not to overpower white fish). I grated the zest of the lemon over the fish filets and sprinkled each one with the seasoning and the chopped herbs. Pat down to stick to fish. Add a slice of lemon to each piece and close the fish basket tight. USE A FISH BASKET. This fish is very light and flakey and would totally fall apart on its own on the grill. I cooked the fish for 4 minutes on each side until it felt firm in the middle.

I am so mad I didn't take pictures of this recipe!! It looked beautiful and delicious and it was! Bailey was the first one to say he loved it. Phil took the leftover piece for lunch today. It was a success. Very mild tasting and it took on the herbs and seasoning very well. The lemon just brightened the flavors.

I served it with my Caprese style salad that I have made in a previous post. This time I used roma tomato and mozzarella chopped to similar sizes. I added ribbons of fresh basil and a slight drizzle of White Balsamic Vinagrette (found with the cold salad dressings at the market).

Such a healthy dinner. Yet the fish had such great taste the meal was filling and perfect for a spring night. I will definitely make this fish again!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Yoplait Greek Yogurt--healthy snack ideas

I am currently in love with Yoplait Greek Yogurt. (NO, I have not been contacted by Yoplait for this. I was curious about this yogurt, paid for the yogurt with my own money)

Back to the yogurt....Let's run through some impressive stats on the plain variety: 100 calories, 0 grams fat, 9 grams sugar, 14 grams of protein!!! That is not a typo. This yogurt contains more than 2x the amount of protein in regular yogurt and has 35% of your daily calcium.

This yogurt comes in two flavors: plain and honey/vanilla. The honey vanilla had a tinge of that artificial vanilla flavor. My favorite was the plain. After experimenting with add ins I came up with a delicious, healthy and all natural way to eat it. This yogurt has a thick and very creamy texture. It is more of an adult yogurt than some of them with tons of sugary fruit mixed in. REMEMBER: plain yogurt makes a great substitue for sour cream in any dish. You will never know the difference and you will add a lot of protein to your favorite mexican dish or even baked potatoes.

Honey Date Yogurt
1 60z cup Yoplait Greek Plain Yogurt
1 handful of my fruit/nut mix (see below)
1 TBPS of clover honey

First mix up the yogurt to mix. Then stir in the fruit/nut mix. Stir in half of the honey to mix the sweetness throughout and then drizzle the remaining honey on the top.

About the Fruit and nut mix. My husband an I were grocery shopping. We are always lured in by the scent of new marketing (hence the reason I tried the yogurt) and we saw all the new nutrition packs of nuts and fruits manufactured by a predominate nut company. You've seen them. In Northwest Indiana these little containers cost $6.59 each! We really wanted to try them so my hubs had the great idea to make our own.

Fruit/Nut Mix
16 oz bag of walnuts ($6.99)
18 0z container of Dole 100% natural raisins ($3.19)
8 oz container of Dole 100% natural dates ($2.29)

Mix together and store in an airtight container. Makes a great quick snack to curb hunger as well as yummy yogurt topping. Make sure you spring for the 100% natural fruits. The other kinds I looked at all had added sugar and tons of chemical preservatives.
Fruit/Nut Mix

We are big fans of Hummus. Even Bailey loves it. I use a recipe that I found years ago in a Weight Watchers cook book as the starting point for mine. Today I substituted the normal plain yogurt I use with the Yoplait Greek Plain and the result was a very smooth and creamy hummus.

Greek Yogurt Hummus
1 15 oz can of Chick Peas/Garbanzo Beans
1/2 cup of plain yogurt
1TBSP olive oil
2-3 cloves of garlic, smashed
1TBSP water
Salt and pepper
Cumin (not essential)

Mix all ingredients together in food processor or blender until smooth. Serve with steamed artichoke leaves, celery, carrots, tomato slices, or pita.

Steamed artichoke leaves??? I was skepical. I have only eaten the hearts until this point. Hubs bought a few at the produce market because he remembered eating the leaves as a kid. Here is the recipe that I followed. They are awesome. Dip the end into the hummus and scrape away the flesh. YUM!

Hope you enjoy all these great recipes. They each took less than 5 minutes to do and are healthy snacks to enjoy all summer long!

Friday, April 23, 2010

Re-purposing! I love this solution for draining canned foods

I was at Target today, my home away from home, and needed to grab some quick lunch. Instead of the Pizza Hut that I wanted, I grabbed one of those Healthy Choice Fresh Mixers. Well...it was ok. Nothing spectacular. Too much sodium and not enough taste.

The holy grail of the lunch was the container it came in. For those of you not familiar with this product, it is a plastic container roughly the s
ame grade as a Glad container. The lid is full of holes so you can drain the water for the pasta.

In my mind, I was thinking, I bet I can reuse this for something but not sure what. I washed it and kept it. THEN I started making dinner. I was using canned black beans for the nachos. I normally just microwave them in their sauce and then drain them. The nasty black sauce they come in is then scorching hot. VOILA! The Fresh Mixers container!!! I grabbed it, put the black beans and their sauce in there and microwaved for 2 minutes. I then drained off that nasty black sauce while it was hot--without burning my hands. I had perfectly drained black beans and a container to dish them out in.

What a perfect solution! Here's a picture so you can see what the container looks like.

Fresh Baby Food? Not from a jar? YEP

Have you seen the amount of sodium Gerber puts in their Gerber Graduates products? I don't know about you, but I don't think that any kid friendly food should contain the equivalent of the amount of sodium in two medium size McDonald's fries! Go ahead...click the link, read it. I will be here when you get back.

Even though the beginning stages of baby food do not contain that kind of salt, why not just give the baby good healthy food that you buy in the produce section of the grocery store instead of a jar in a dark aisle. We need our children to grow up in that section of the store and not the convenience food section like my 30 something generation did.

How did I get started? Well, I talked to my pediatrician who totally supported the decision. This doctor also supports my choice for cloth diapering--even thought I am the only patient he has ever had that uses them. I just read a stat that up to 43% of new parents are choosing cloth to save money in the tight economy....but hey, I'll save that for another blog post some day.

After discussing making my own baby food with the doctor, I started searching for material online. I found a very quick and easy resource at babycenter.com. The list is organized by age of baby and what they should be eating. I check it every few months to add new things to his diet and make sure that we are on track.

I started out with a very inexpensive food mill that I bought in the baby food aisle. It is nothing fancy. You can spend as much or as little as you like but really all you need is to get the food mashed. One thing I have learned--we normally eat our veggies steamed but still crisp. In order to properly mash in a food mill they need to be soft. Put in your fruits or veggies that you want baby to eat and smash. Instant baby food with no additives. The leftovers can be frozen in individual storage containers and just defrost before serving to baby.

Not only is Logan eating a wonderful and healthy variety of fruits and vegetables, I am raising a baby that knows what real food tastes like and my hope is that he will eat this way forever. I am imagining a kid eating things like avocado, asparagus, broccoli and spinach without complaining.

My pediatrician was shocked to find out that Logan would even eat asparagus. He told me that many people in many countries grow up without Gerber and Logan will grow up to eat the strong varied diet that these other people do. That made me feel like I was doing something right!

Logan is eight months old now. He doesn't have any teeth but he has decided he has no interest in anyone feeding him. I chop his food in small bite-sized pieces and he feeds himself. In each of my recipe blogs in the future, I will devote a paragraph to what Logan ate out of the meal. Sometimes I do specially prepare his food before adding sauces, certain spices, added fats, etc. I will be sure to note this as much as possible.

The cost savings alone has been worth this adventure for us. These are all foods that I normally purchase at the grocer so I am not spending any additional money. Each two pack of Gerber costs .97 in my area. Those little containers add up fast.

NOTES: I am not telling you how to feed your baby, just what has worked for mine. I am not providing medical advice in any way. Please check with your doctor and research making baby food to get all the details and decide if it is right for you. I introduced foods two at a time to check for allergies and I never give him nuts, shell fish, cows milk or any other item that babies under age 1 should be exposed to.

WOW! How life has changed!

Excuse the explicative: HOLY SHIT! We just left the city and moved to the suburbs! Not just the suburbs, a really cute small town about 45 minutes from the city. Back Home in Indiana and all that. The best part...we have a half acre yard. What a shock it is to go from a 1000sq. foot condo on the 10th floor with a balcony to a 2000+ sq foot home with a huge yard that has lots of trees and woodland creatures. It has been almost two months now so we are getting used to it. I have a large well appointed kitchen with tons of cupboard space but I am still all about my philosophy of keeping things simple, easy and delicious.

On top of baby Logan growing every day--he is eight months old now, my wonderful Bailey is in a soccer league that practices/plays four times a week AND I have started working from home 20 hours a week. Add in laundry for four and cleaning up after everybody and you quickly realize that now more than ever, easy meals are a must! Wooh, I am tired just thinking about my day.

My boys: Logan and Bailey. Big brother worship has set in!
I have so many pictures and recipes stored up. I am going to bombard the blog with as many as I can in the next few weeks to try to get everyone caught up with what I have been cooking.

Thanks for keeping up with me and the family! Love Torry

Grilling Season: Grilled Chicken Dinner

I could seriously use the grill every single day for cooking! It makes things so easy. Tonight I took a lot of help from a bottle marinade. I like to experiment with them and then if I like them I take the main ingredients and try to make my own out of it. Tonight's was Kikkoman Honey and Mustard 20 minute marinade . They recommended for fish or pork so I used it on chicken thighs. ;-) The marinade was really easy to use--but beware:
it caused a huge flare up on the grill! Overall, I will say the marinade was good but soooo not what I expected. It didn't taste like honey or mustard. It tasted like soy. I guess coming from Kikkoman I should have expected that.So what was on the menu? Grilled Chicken thighs, Bailey's fav Chicken broth flavored rice and a protein filled salad.
The chicken was easy enough. I marinaded it for about 45 minutes in a big freezer bag and then put it on the grill. This was bone in, skinless. I had a hard time controlling the heat and the flare ups so I ended up turning on my two end burners full blast and leaving the two middles off to cook indirectly. It took an hour this way but saved the fireman from coming to save my cedar trees from being up in smoke!

Bailey's Fav Chicken Broth Rice

This too is super easy but gives wonderful flavor to white rice and you will never have rice stuck together!

Just substitute chicken broth for the water and follow the package directions. I have noticed it sometimes takes about 3-5 additional minutes to soak up the broth so just be patient. You will not need butter or salt when serving.

The Salad

This was a clean out the fridge kind of salad. I still had grated carrot and left over Boston lettuce from the Lettuce Wraps the other night (see previous blog entry) so I chopped up the lettuce, tossed in the carrot. I added in hard boiled egg, a whole sliced avocado, grape tomatoes and cheese. I could have lived without the cheese but hey...Bailey finally will eat salad if it has cheese so we had cheese. :-)

The best part about this meal is the left overs! Since the chicken did not taste anything like honey mustard, I am going to use it tonight and make chicken nachos (see previous blog entry). Great way to use up the chicken and we will throw the rice in with the black beans and use that as a topping too. I'll post some pics but I pretty much always go back to my stand by nachos on this blog. I am thinking about adding some spicy salsa to the cheese sauce to make it more of a queso....
NOTE: Adding salsa to the queso was a success! I added 1/2 cup salsa and 1T red pepper flake. Delicious queso for the nachos!
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