Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Simple White Fish Tacos

I am not sure why, but I have always thought that making fish tacos wouldn't be easy. Boy, have I been so wrong! This is one of the simplest meals to throw together, and it takes only 30 minutes from start to finish. I love the combination of the lime and cilantro in this recipe. We topped our fish tacos with mango, avocado, cabbage, mild cheddar cheese, and Panko bread crumbs I think these tacos would also be really good with some jicama. You can add whatever you want to your fish tacos, as long as you promise to top them with the creamy cilantro sauce. Oh, and the Panko bread crumbs really do add a nice crunch to the tacos, so you might want to consider those too. This is a great recipe for summer because it is so light, healthy, refreshing, and easy. Enjoy!

Recipe for Simple White Fish Tacos

For the fish
8 ounces of white fish (I used tilapia)
1 Tbsp. of fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil, divided
1 1/2 Tbsp. of cilantro leaves, torn
1/8 tsp. of cumin powder
1 clove of garlic, pressed
Salt and pepper

For the creamy cilantro sauce
Juice from 1/2 lime
1 Tbsp. of cilantro leaves, minced
1/4 cup of Greek yogurt (or sour cream)
1 clove of garlic, pressed
A pinch or two of ground cayenne pepper (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper

For serving
6-inch flour tortillas
Chopped mango (from 1 medium mango)
Chopped avocado (from 1 medium Hass avocado)
Shredded green cabbage
Finely grated mild cheddar cheese
Cilantro leaves
Panko bread crumbs (gives it a nice crunch)!
Or, whatever you want

In a shallow dish, stir together the fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon of olive oil, cilantro, cumin, and garlic. Put the fish in the dish and coat. Cover and put in the fridge to marinate for 20 minutes.

While the fish is marinating, make the creamy cilantro sauce. Stir together the lime juice, cilantro, Greek yogurt, garlic, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in a large skillet set over medium-high heat. Once it is simmering, put the fish into the skillet and cook, without touching, for 3 minutes. Then carefully flip the fish over and cook on the other side for 2 -3 more minutes, or until cooked through. Remove the fish and season with salt and pepper as desired. Let it sit for a couple minutes, then use two forks to shred the fish into bite-sized chunks.

Assemble the tacos on the tortillas with the fish, cilantro crema, and favorite toppings.

Recipe makes approximately 4 - 6 tacos.

Recipe Adapted from: Annie's Eats, originally from The Way the Cookie Crumbles

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Tarragon Chicken Salad

This chicken salad was served at my wedding almost 7 years ago. The last 7 years have really flown by. They say that if a couple has been married for 7 years that their chances of staying together increases dramatically. I hope that is true for me and Greg. We have had a lot of ups and downs in our years of marriage, but I feel that we are always moving forward and for the most part, improving our lives together.

Last weekend Greg's parents, aunt, and uncle came into town for a short visit. The men were in charge of communicating and making the plans, and if you know men, you know that they are not good communicators and not great planners. I had planned on making everyone lunch on Sunday, but on Saturday afternoon I found out that the group wouldn't be able to do lunch.  I had already bought tons of croissants and other ingredients for chicken salad sandwiches, so I decided to make the chicken salad anyways. I chose to make the tarragon chicken salad because it looked easy and because I remembered how much I had liked it on my wedding day. It is hard to believe I haven't had it since then! This recipe is great to make for a crowd (or to make so you have lunch for a week straight - like we did) and you can serve it over lettuce or in a sandwich. We love it on croissants with some romaine lettuce. Enjoy! 

Recipe for Tarragon Chicken Salad

3 pounds of boneless chicken breasts
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream
1/2 cup of Greek Yogurt (or sour cream)
1/2 cup of mayonnaise
3 stalks of celery, diced
2/3 cup of walnut pieces
1 Tbsp. plus 1/2 tsp. of dried tarragon leaves
Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Arrange the chicken breasts into a casserole dish in a single layer and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper. Pour the cream over the chicken. Put the casserole dish into the oven and cook for 30 - 40 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (cuts easily, no pinkness in the middle, internal temperature registers to 165 degrees on instant digital meat thermometer). Remove the chicken from the oven and allow it to cool.

Shred the chicken into bite-sized pieces and place into a large bowl. Mix together the Greek Yogurt (or sour cream) and mayonnaise in a small bowl and add into the chicken. Mix well with a fork. Add in the diced celery, walnuts, and tarragon. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper. Taste, and add in more tarragon, salt, and/or pepper, as desired.

Serve over lettuce, or make it into sandwiches. We love this chicken salad on croissants with a few leaves of romaine lettuce.

Recipe makes approximately 8 - 12 servings. 

Recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

I was on a 3-week long sugar-free streak,  however, I had to break the streak recently. I only broke it because I knew it would be worth it. This toasted coconut ice cream is absolutely divine, and I was right, it was worth breaking my streak for this ice cream. I saw this recipe in an ice cream recipe book quite some time ago, and I have been wanting to make it for so long. I was a little nervous about the recipe because of the egg in the mixture, as I tend to always make ice creams that require no cooking, but I decided to take the extra time with this one. If you are a fan of coconut, you should really try out this incredible toasted coconut ice cream. However, if you are like one of my coworkers, and you are "repulsed" by the thought of coconut, then maybe you shouldn't! I hope there are more coconut lovers out there than haters, because people who hate coconut just make me sad. If you do love coconut like I do, than you'll love this toasted coconut ice cream. You will also love coconut macaroons, Toasted Almond Joy cupcakes, coconut cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, and coconut truffles. Enjoy!

Recipe for Toasted Coconut Ice Cream

1 1/2 cups of whole milk
1 1/2 cups of heavy whipping cream, divided
2 1/4 cups of sweetened shredded flaked coconut, divided
4 egg yolks
3/4 cup of granulated sugar
1/4 cup of coconut cream (I used Trader Joe's)
1 tsp. of pure vanilla extract
A little less than 1/8 tsp. of almond extract (optional)

In a large pot, mix together the whole milk, 1 cup of the heavy whipping cream, and 1 1/4 cups of the coconut. Set over medium heat and cook until bubbles form around the edge of the mixture, about 5 - 7 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit for 20 minutes.

Pour the milk mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a large bowl and press down on the coconut to extract as much flavor as possible. Then discard the coconut. Pour the strained milk mixture back into the pot and set back over medium heat. Cook again until bubbles form around the edge of the milk, about 5 - 7 minutes.

While the milk mixture is heating, separate out the egg yolks and place into a medium sized bowl. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream and the sugar. Mix the ingredients until well-combined.

Carefully scoop out 1/2 cup of the hot milk mixture and add into the egg mixture. Mix until smooth. Then carefully pour the egg mixture into the pot with the hot milk mixture. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a custard forms. The custard should coat the back of the wooden spoon when it is ready. Do not let the mixture come to a boil. It should take about 7 - 9 minutes for the custard to form. Once the custard coats the back of the spoon, remove from heat. Stir in the coconut cream and mix well. Pour into a large bowl and add in the vanilla extract and almond extract.

Partially fill a large enough bowl that will fit the bowl with the ice cream mixture in it with cold water and ice cubes. Then set the bowl with the ice cream batter into that bowl. Stir occasionally. Once the mixture is cooled, cover with a lid or tightly with plastic wrap. Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours, or overnight.

While the mixture is chilling, toast the coconut. Put the remaining cup of coconut into a small frying pan and set over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the coconut and toasty and lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into a bowl. Allow it to cool and then seal in an airtight container until ready to use. 

Pour the chilled ice cream mixture into the bowl of an automatic ice cream maker and make the ice cream according to manufacturer directions. When the ice cream is the consistency of thick whipped cream, add in 1/2 cup of the toasted coconut and continue the mixing in the ice cream maker until done. Then transfer the ice cream to an airtight container and place in freezer for a couple hours before serving.

Top each serving with the leftover toasted coconut, if desired.

Recipe makes approximately 8 servings.

Recipe Adapted from: Williams Sonoma Ice Cream

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Easy Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

I had a goal to post more recipes this month than last month. But it's almost the end of May, and this is only my second posting for the month (and my first one wasn't even a recipe, it was a recipe round-up). I ended up having a lot going on in the beginning of the month. I had to finish all of my student teaching assignments and complete an online portfolio with artifacts that demonstrate my knowledge on certain teaching standards, with reflections. Then I had to prepare for an exit conference with my supervisor, mentor teacher, and the director of the education program I am enrolled in. Sounds intimidating, right? Well, I was super worried and stressed about it, but it went very smoothly. I am so happy to have it over with, and I'm also really happy that my summer vacation is just around the corner. Greg and I were talking the other day about comfort foods. He said that there are so many comfort foods we eat during the cooler weather, like hearty soups, but not many foods that are good for the soul in the spring and summer. I told him maybe shrimp scampi was a warmer weather comfort food, and he asked me to make some. I realized I had actually never made shrimp scampi before, and I was excited to find out that all the recipes looked super easy (so it is kind of funny that I call this easy shrimp scampi, because I'm not sure there are any tricky shrimp scampi recipes out there). This meal was made in less than 15 minutes and tasted great. I loved it because I have been really cutting the carbs out of my diet recently, so I just had the shrimp with a sprinkle of Panko bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese, and Greg enjoyed the shrimp and pasta. It was a nice change from all the grilled chicken I have been eating lately. If you are looking for an easy meal that is refreshing and satisfying, try this easy shrimp scampi over pasta! Enjoy.

Recipe for Easy Shrimp Scampi with Pasta

8 ounces of uncooked linguine or spaghetti noodles (I used Dreamfields pasta)
3 Tbsp. of unsalted butter
1 pound of frozen medium shrimp, thawed, deveined, and peeled
1/2 - 3/4 tsp. of crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 cup of dry white wine or chicken stock
Zest of one lemon 
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (about one lemon)
A pinch or two of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. of chopped fresh parsley leaves
1/2 cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Panko bread crumbs, if desired

Cook the pasta according to package directions. When it is finished cooking, drain in a colander.

While the pasta is cooking, prepare the shrimp scampi. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-heat. Once it is melted, add in the shrimp, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes.  Cook, stirring frequently, until the shrimp is pink (about 3 minutes). Then add in the wine or chicken stock and the lemon juice. Sprinkle on the salt and pepper. Give it a stir, then adjust the heat to medium-low and bring to a simmer. Once it comes to a simmer, remove from heat. Carefully add in the drained pasta, lemon zest, and parsley and toss.

Serve immediately. Top each serving with Parmesan cheese and Panko bread crumbs, if desired.

Makes approximately 4 servings. 

Recipe Adapted from: Damn Delicious, originally from Closet Cooking