Recipes

Coconut-Cilantro Tilapia & Mango-Cucumber Rice Salad

Tilapia & Rice 2

If you’re willing to do some chopping, these are both easy recipes that taste great.  In fact, they’re so damn delicious that you’ll forget that they’re healthy, too!  The spicy fish was a nice break from chicken and pork, and the rice salad is so fresh and cool – great for a hot afternoon.  It’s a perfect substitute for potato salad or macaroni salad if you’re trying to watch your weight.

Total Time: 45 mins to 1 hour (if do them both at the same time – if you’ve got help chopping, you can get it done quicker!)

Serves: 4

Baked Tilapia with Coconut-Cilantro Sauce:

Ingredients: 

  • Canola oil spray
  • Four 6-ounce pieces of tilapia fillet
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste.
  • 1/2 cup light, reduced-fat coconut milk
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 teaspoon peeled, chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (a mixture of Indian spices that comes in a packet – see a description here)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped (if you want some spice, leave the seeds in.  We used three whole cayenne peppers, fresh from Nanny’s garden, and that put a scrumptious bite to it!)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (F).  Spray a 9×13″ baking pan with canola oil spray.  Sprinkle the fish with the salt & pepper and place it in the pan.
  2. Combine the coconut milk, cilantro, ginger, garam masala, garlic, and jalapeno in a blender and pulse until fairly smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture over the fish.
  4. Bake until the fish is just opaque in the center, about 15 minutes.
  5. Garnish with more cilantro and serve with the rice.

Tips: There’s really not anything you can do to mess up this dish, unless you accidentally make it too spicy.  If that’s the case (you can taste your sauce before you pour it on the fish), you can just add some more coconut milk to cool it down.  When we made it last night, we just added some more of the things we like (ginger, cayenne peppers, and a little more coconut milk).   I’m sure this sauce would taste great on chicken, too! 

Mango-Cucumber Rice Salad:

Ingredients: 

  • salt
  • 1 &1/2 cups of rice
  • 1/4 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • Finely grated zest and juice of 1 lime (We didn’t have a lime, so we just used 2 tablespoons of bottled lime juice)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup chopped mango (I accidentally let our mango get too ripe, so it was a little mushy in the salad – make sure and pick one that’s still kind of firm)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and diced
  • 1 red jalapeno, seeded and thinly sliced (again, we used a whole cayenne pepper, and left the seeds in for some spice)
  • 2 scallions, thinkly sliced
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1/3 cup chopped salted roasted peanuts

Directions: 

  1. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to a boil over high heat.  Add the rice and cook, stirring until tender, 25-35 minutes (depending on the rice).
  2. Meanwhile, bring a separate saucepan of salted water to a boil over medium-high heat.  Add the quinoa and cook until tender, about 12 minutes.
  3. Drain the grains and rinse under warm water until cool; shake off the excess water (place in the fridge to cool it on down while you get the rest of the ingredients ready)
  4. Whisk the lime juice and zest, the peanut oil, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste in a large Bowl.
  5. Add in the rice & quinoa, mango, cucumber, jalapeno, scallions, cilantro, and peanuts and stir to combine.  Season with salt.

Tips: This really is an excellent dish – cool, with the perfect sweet/savory mixture.  It’s best when it’s cold, so let it sit in the fridge for 10 minutes if you can (or, if you don’t want to wait, even throw it in the freezer for 5 minutes or so!)  But, unfortunately, it doesn’t really taste good the next day, so make sure and eat it up while it’s fresh! 

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Tangy Roast & Spicy Indian Potatoes

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Crock pot recipe: total time: 7 to 8 hours 

If you’re tired of plain ol’ roast, try this recipe to change things up.  But, think of it more as a template that you can tweak and make your own.  It’s a good starting point, but throw in whatever you like!

Ingredients: 

  • a roast – pork or beef  (we used a 2.5 lb beef roast)
  • two bouillon cubes
  • 1 packet of powder ranch dressing powder
  • 1 jar of banana pepper rings (large or small bottle, depending on your taste) *
  • 1/2 to 3/4 stick of butter (I used a whole stick, but would use less next time)*
  • Onions, peppers, carrots – anything else that you’d like in your roast
  • Chicken broth(?) *see the Tips below

Directions: 

  1. Put the meat on the bottom of the crock pot
  2. dump in everything else (including the juice from the jar of banana peppers)
  3. Cook on low for 7-8 hours, or if you’re low on time, on high for 3-4 hours (but, low for longer is better!)
  4. Serve over/with rice, mashed potatoes, or any side.  We cooked up some spicy Indian potatoes (recipe below).

Tips:

I loved the roast cooked just like it’s described above.  It was moist and tender.  The butter gave it a great  flavor, even if your health took a hit because of it.  And, I loved the sharp, tangy flavor of the banana peppers.  But, my fiance thought that it was too acidic, so here are things we might change next time:

  • Use a smaller jar of banana peppers, and only about 1/2 to 3/4 of the juice.  This would cut down on the vinegar/acidity.
  • To make up for the lack of juice (and butter – like I noted above, we’d cut down on butter), we’d use a cup or so of chicken broth.
  • Next time I’d throw in some spice, like a jalapeno, chili pepper, or just some crushed red chili flakes
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I love recipes that you can throw together and then not think about for 7 hours!

SPICY INDIAN POTATOES 

We didn’t want to cook any rice, so we made one of my absolute favorite dishes: potatoes pan roasted and spiced up, Indian style:

Ingredients: 

  • Potatoes (about one per person)
  • cooking oil (olive or vegetable)
  • mustard or cumin seeds (about 1 teaspoon)
  • salt (1/2 tsp or to taste)
  • turmeric (about 1/2 tsp)
  • red chili powder (about 1 tsp, or less depending on your spice tolerance)
  • cilantro

Directions: 

  1. Peel the potatoes.  Cut them in half, lengthwise, and then cut them into thin slices.
  2. Heat up the oil in a pan.  I’d say about 3-4 tablespoons of oil – enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Not too much, because you’re not deep frying the potatoes, but you want enough to be able to pan fry them.
  3. Once the oil is really hot (don’t let it start smoking, but it should be pretty hot!), dump your mustard or cumin seeds in.  They should splutter, or instantly start popping open.
  4. As the seeds are spluttering, dump in your potato slices, and then you may want to cover them for a few seconds until things calm down.
  5. Mix in your salt, turmeric, and chili powder.
  6. Cover and cook until your potatoes are the consistency that you want them.  This should take about 5 minutes.  The longer you cook them, the softer they’ll be.
  7. If you want your potatoes to have a little crunch to them, then turn up your heat to high for the last minute or so, and they should start frying some more along the edges.
  8. When they’re done, sprinkle some cilantro on top and enjoy!
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Get your slices pretty thin – about 1/4″ thick so they’ll cook quickly

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Double Crunch Honey Garlic Pork Chops

We made these for supper a few nights ago, and damn are they good!  

Crunchy Honey Garlic Chops

Ingredients: 

  • About 6 center loin pork chops, well trimmed (any cut will do, boneless just made it a little easier)

For the coating, sift together:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 1.5 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp ground sage
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper (we did a full teaspoon and it gave it a nice spice, without being hot)

Make an egg wash by whisking together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 4 tbsp water

Directions: 

  1. Season the pork chops with salt & pepper, then did the chops in the flour and spice mixture
  2. Dip the chop into the egg wash and then a final time into the flour & spice mix, pressing the mix into the chop to get good contact.
  3. Heat a skillet on the stove with about a half inch of canola oil.  You will want to carefully regulate the temperature so that the chops do not brown too quickly on the outside before they are fully cooked on the inside.  Just below medium works well.
  4. Fry the chops gently for about 4 or 5 minutes per side until golden brown and crispy.
  5. Drain on a wire rack for a couple of minutes before dipping the cooked into the Honey Garlic Sauce.  Serve with noodles or rice.

Honey Garlic Sauce:

In a medium saucepan add:

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3-4 cloves minced garlic

Cook over medium heat to soften the garlic but do not let it brown.  Then, Add:

  • 1 cup honey
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • *optional* = 1 tbsp of hot chili garlic sauce (we used Huy Fong brand)

Simmer together for 5-10 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool for a few minutes.  Watch this carefully as it simmers because it can foam up over the pot very easily.

Photo and original recipe from Rock Recipes blog

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Coconut Custard Pie

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This recipe is extremely easy. Even though my mama and Nanny bake delicious pies left and right, this is the first pie I’ve ever made, and it tastes great (but then again I may be biased!)

Ingredients:

2 cups milk

2 1/2 cups flaked coconut

4 eggs beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

3/4 cup all-purpose flour or bisquick

3/4 cup white sugar (if you use sweetened coconut flakes, you may want to use only about 1/2 cup sugar.  Or, if you love sweet things, then go ahead and use 3/4 cup!)

2 tablespoons margarine or butter softened

 

Directions:

1) Preheat oven to 350°

2) Combine all ingredients, mix well, and pour into 9 inch buttered pie pan.

3) Bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

Over the course of baking, the pie layers itself into layers: a thin crust, custard and coconut topping. 

Now, go enjoy it!

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Taco Stuffed Shells

Running out of ideas for supper?  Well, here’s a different one for you: how about combining pasta and tacos?  You can’t really go wrong there.  Here’s a recipe for taco stuffed shells – I was a little leery when I came across them on the internet (original recipe from Inspired Ginger blog), but I made them and damn they were good.  Again, they’re nowhere near healthy, but hey, if you’re reading a recipe entitled “Taco Stuffed Shells,” chances are, you’re not looking for health-food.

Ingredients:

  • 1lb ground turkey (or lean beef).  1 lb of meat filled 17 shells when I made it.  So, you can be the judge if you have more folks to feed and want to make more of the meat filling. 
  • 4 oz cream cheese, cubed (or Neufchatel cheese has less fat) Again, if you want to make more shells, you’ll want to increase this.  The meat/cheese filling in this recipe makes 15-18 shells, depending on how full you fill them. 
  • 1 packet (1/4 cup) taco seasoning
  • About 15 jumbo pasta shells
  • salsa
  • taco sauce
  • shredded cheese (any flavor you like; we used the “Mexican Blend”)

Directions: 

1) Boil the shells in salted water until they are tender.

2) Drain them and then separate and lay them out on a cookie sheet so that they can cool

3) Preheat oven to 350 (F)

4) Brown the meet in a pan and when done, add & mix the taco seasoning. 

5) Add the cubed cream cheese to the meet and cover so that the cheese can melt.  Once it’s melted, then removed the meat/cheese mixture from the heat.

6)  In a 9×13 glass baking dish, pour taco sauce to coat the bottom of dish.
7) Fill cooked shells with about 1-2 T. of meat mixture.  Place filled taco shells into the sauce-lined baking dish and then spoon salsa over the top of the shells. Cover and bake @ 350 for 30 minutes.
8) Remove from oven, uncover, and sprinkle cheese on top, return to oven for another 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with sour cream, and toppings of your choice.

Step 2

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Step 7

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Step 8

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Enjoy! 

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Mama’s Chicken Divan

This casserole was always a favorite around our house growing up, and it’s still what my brother asks for on every birthday.  It’s nothin’ fancy, but it is gooood.  And unfortunately, this is another dish that I didn’t take a picture of before we devoured it.  Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to make it again….

Ingredients: 

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cooked and cut up (the last time I made it, we used about 3/4 of a rotisserie chicken)
  • 2 packages of fresh broccoli (about two large heads), cooked and cut up
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 can of cream of chicken soup
  • 8 oz sour cream
  • bread sticks or garlic toast, cut up into croutons
  • curry powder
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • shredded cheddar cheese (about 1.5 cups)

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (F).
  2. Mix the soups, sour cream, curry, salt & pepper in a large mixing bowl.  How much curry powder you use is ultimately up to you.  We like a lot, so that the soup/cream mixture turns yellow.
  3. In a 9×13″ pan, layer the chicken, broccoli, and the soup mixture.  
  4. Then top with a thick layer of cheese and sprinkle the croutons on top.
  5. Bake at 350 for about 35 minutes.

As you can see, it’s probably not the best dish for trying to lose weight or anything, but it’s simple and easy. Plus, it makes enough that there are always leftovers (unless you’ve got a lot of folks to feed!) and it tastes good warmed up the next day, too! 

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Piña Colada Pork Chops

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 15 minutes

Marinate time: 8 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 4 pork chops (you can use boneless or boned, but thicker ones are better)
  • 3 limes
  • 1/c cup of caned coconut milk
  • salt
  • cayenne pepper to taste
  • 4 scallions, minced for garnish
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, minced for garnish (optional)

 

Directions:

  1. Marinate the pork in the juice of one lime while you prepare a medium hot fire (5-8 minutes).  If you don’t have a grill, or it’s too cold outside to grill (like it always is in Buffalo), then simply pan fry it, use a George Foreman, or bake them. 
  2. Grill the chops about 6-8 minutes on each side, until they’re cooked all the way through.
  3. Warm the coconut milk over low heat; season with salt and a pinch of cayenne.
  4. Add the juice from the second lime to the sauce.
  5. Transfer the chops to plates and spoon the sauce over them.
  6. Garnish with scallions and cilantro, sprinkling the juice from the last lime over everything.
  7. Serve with rice and remaining sauce.

This is a really easy recipe, and surprisingly had a lot of taste.  I wish I had a picture to post, but I was hungry the night we made these, and I ate it all before I even thought about getting out the camera! 

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Jalapeño & Cream Cheese Pinwheels

This is a quick, easy appetizer.  It’s not exactly healthy at all, but they taste good!

Ingredients:

1 can crescent rolls

canned/jarred jalapeños (as many as you want)

8 oz. pkg. cream cheese, room temperature

Directions:

  1. Open crescent rolls and spread out into two rectangles (don’t separate them into the triangular rolls!).
  2. Chop up as many jalapeños as desired.  Mix chopped jalapenos and cream cheese together.
  3. Spread mixture on crescent rolls.  Roll up until you have 2 logs (or 4, depending on the brand of crescent rolls and how they’re packaged).
  4. Chill in fridge for a while, they will slice better.  The cooler they are the better, so either put them in the fridge for about an hour, or go ahead and place in the freezer, but don’t forget about them!
  5. Preheat the oven to 375.
  6. Cut each log into slices (as thick as you want).  Spray cookie sheet with cooking spray.
  7. Bake slices for 13 minutes.

 

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Goan Fish Curry

Goan Curry

Total time = about 45 minutes

This is a really tasty, tangy fish curry.  We used tilapia filets, but you can use any fish you’d like.  And I’m sure it’d even taste great with shrimp, too.  Moreover, this is a rather simple recipe…This was my first curry that I made by myself, and my Indian partner loved it and called it “make-your-soul-feel-good food.”  I take that as a sign that it was good!

 Ingredients:

  • Onions chopped: 1/2 cup
  • Tomatoes: 1 small
  • Whole red chilly:- 5-7
  • Red Chili Pepper powder: 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander  powder: 2 tsp
  • Cumin: 1/3 tsp
  • Fennel powder:  1/3 tsp (we didn’t have powder, so we just used ½ tsp of fennel seeds)
  • Ginger: about 1 inch of garlic root, diced
  • Minced Garlic:  5 teaspoons (more or less depending on your tastes)
  • Tamarind juice: small ball (optional – we didn’t have any & it tasted fine without)
  • Cooking Oil
  • Mustard seeds: 1/3 tsp
  • Curry leaves: 2 springs
  • Turmeric powder: 1/3 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Coconut milk -1 cup
  • Vinegar: 1 tsp
  • Fish: 1 lb (we used 3 filets)
  • Cilantro
  • Rice

Directions:

  1. Chop onions and tomatoes and keep aside.
  2. In a blender or food processor make a paste of red chillies, pepper,coriander, cumin,fennel ,ginger, garlic and tamarind pulp and keep aside. Make sure to blend this stuff down to a really good paste.  You don’t want any chunks of anything.  You’ll probably have to add some water to it along the way to help it paste.  It may not look like a lot of paste, but that’s because it’s essentially a concentrate that will pack some powerful taste once added to and cooked in the pan.  (Once this is done may be a good time to start your rice cooking.)
  3. Heat oil in a heavy bottom pan and splutter mustard seeds (splutter = get the oil nice and hot first and then dump in the mustard seeds so that they pop open when they hit the oil) and add in chopped onions and curry leaves and saute till golden brown.
  4. Pour in the grounded paste, turmeric, and salt and fry till oil separates.
  5. Add tomatoes and saute till soft.
  6. Stir in coconut milk and another half cup of water and bring it to simmer.
  7. Gently slide in the fish pieces, add one tsp of vinegar cover and cook till done. After you turn the heat off, throw in some chopped cilantro, and gently stir in.
  8. Serve over rice & enjoy!

Original recipe from Kitchen Corner blog. 

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Homemade Hot Pockets

(Sausage & Pepper Pies) – Makes 8 Pies 

Ingredients:

4 teaspoons of olive oil

1 lb sausage casing removed (original recipe calls for turkey sausage, but we use hot Italian sausage)

2 cubanelle peppers (or just some spicy green pepper), seeded and sliced

2 red pepper, seeded and sliced

2 (or 1.5) medium red onion, sliced

4 gloves of garlic (about 6 or 7 tsp minced garlic)

2 tubes (13.8 oz each) of refrigerated pizza crust

Shredded Italian blend cheese

Marinara sauce (optional)

 Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 425º.  Coat 2 large baking sheets with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Heat oil in a skillet.  Add sausage and cook, breaking up, for about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the peppers and onion, and cook 6 minutes or until sausage is cooked and vegetables softened.  Stir in the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
  4. Unroll the dough onto a floured surface.  Cut the square/rectangle dough into 4 equal pieces (so, quarter the rolled out dough).  Place each piece on the cookie sheet and spoon in the sausage/veggie mix on each.  Sprinkle some cheese on top of each pile of sausage/veggie mix.
  5. Fold one corner of the dough over to meet the other, forming a triangle, with the meat, veggies, and cheese sealed in the middle.  Be careful not to rip the dough, and pinch the edges together to seal in the contents.
  6. Bake 15-18 minutes until golden.  Serve marinara sauce on the side as a dip if desired.

Note: this recipe can obviously be tweaked to include all kinds of good fillings.  Get creative! 

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