A Visit From My Parents: Cabbage Casserole and Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken

My parents and I don’t get to visit with each other very often. They’re retired out in Nevada and I’m here on east coast. And although they came out to Hawaii for my wedding this summer, we didn’t have a lot of time spent together between preparing for the wedding and entertaining others that had come to celebrate with us. Before that, the last time we visited was during the holidays a couple years ago. Fast forward to last week – They happened to be setting off on a cruise from NY, so they took some time beforehand to stop by and see me and Jake.

I decided I wanted to prepare a couple of dishes for them so they could eat at their leisure. I made a cabbage casserole with ground turkey and a simple slow cooker chicken/black beans/corn/salsa dish to go along some Jasmine rice.

I had made this cabbage casserole once before for my friend Lindsay, but I forgot some of the things I didn’t particularly like about the dish. I ended up making and baking the whole thing as specified in the recipe. But believe it or not, I ended up taking everything out of the casserole dish, rinsed it off, added new seasonings, and re-baked it. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

First, the recipe calls for cooking the chopped cabbage a bit in water to soften it up. I think this was unnecessary. I think it could have just been cooked down a bit when added to the ground turkey mix.

Separately, I cooked the ground turkey and then added in the onion, diced tomato, and first part of the tomato paste.

Once the onions were translucent, I added the semi-cooked cabbage, salt, pepper, cayenne, lemon juice, packet of minute Basmati rice, and chopped parsley. I let that cook for about 15 minutes. (I didn’t use dried mint as specified in the recipe because I didn’t have any.)

The recipe then calls for the rest of the tomato paste stirred in and everything transferred to a baking dish to bake at 350 degrees Farenheit for 40 minutes.

The image below is what it looked like the first time I baked it.

I taste tested it and wasn’t thrilled with it. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I was hoping for. I thought there was way too much tomato paste and there was a little too much spice for this particular dish.

I put it in the fridge overnight and re-evaluated the next day. I still wasn’t happy, so I ended up dumping everything back into a pot and rinsing it with water to try and get rid of some of the excess tomato paste and cayenne pepper. I tried to drain most of the water out and put it back on the stove to evaporate some of the water. I added in garlic powder and onion powder. I put everything back into a clean baking dish, sprinkled some cheese on top, and put it back in the oven to bake. The result the second time around was much better in terms of flavor. I should have let the water cook out a little more, though. It fell apart a little bit when serving. Also, I froze the leftovers and had some a couple of days later. It was a bit mushy because of the little bit of extra water.

Overall, I learned my lesson for the next time I make this and will make it right the first time!


The second dish I made was the slow cooker chicken. This is a recipe I’ve made several times in the past, both in the crock pot and in the pressure cooker. Since I was making this ahead of time, I went with the crock pot since I had some time. This is one of the easiest recipes that takes almost no effort at all. I used one large chicken  breast torn into a few smaller pieces, one can of black beans (not drained), one jar of medium heat Tostidos salsa, and about 3/4 cup of frozen corn. That’s it. Set it on low for about four – six hours. You can choose to use chicken tenders and leave them whole or do what I did and take the chicken out, shred it with a fork, and put it back into the mix.

We ate this over some Jasmine rice. Very simple, but very good. I imagine you could eat this as an appetizer with chips, too!

I had also ended up making a quiche with some frozen store-bought pie crust and they really loved that, as well. I think they liked having the variety and ability to choose what and how much they wanted to eat.

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It was nice to see them and I’m glad the food turned out well 🙂 I hope this inspires you the next time you need to prepare foods ahead of time or feed a small crowd!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Croutons

I had been really craving tomato soup and grilled cheese. So I searched Pinterest and found a recipe I could make with ingredients I already had at the house. (Here’s the link to the recipe.) I had also seen in other Pinterest posts that people have made grilled cheese croutons. We also happened to have half a loaf of French bread from the day before, so I sliced it and made some grilled cheese croutons, as well as a couple of mini grilled cheese and prosciutto croutons for some extra dunking action.

I first cut up and cooked the bacon.

Once browned a bit, I added the onion and carrot. I was feeling lazy, so I only used about half of a carrot.

Once those were tender, I added in the tomato paste. I let that cook for a few minutes and then added the flour. I didn’t bother measuring – just eyeballed it.

From reading past recipes and experiences, I know that if you don’t cook the flour down, you can sometimes taste it in the final dish. So, I let the flour cook for a few minutes before adding the tomatoes. When I added the tomatoes, I didn’t crush them separately as the recipe indicates. I just poured the can into the pot and crushed a bit with the back of a cooking spoon. The canned San Marzano tomatoes are tender enough that they break up easily. Plus, I knew I was going to be blending it all later. I added the chicken broth and seasonings and let it all simmer for 30 minutes.

After the simmer, I used my immersion blender and blended the soup right in the pot. This was so much easier than trying blend in the food processor in batches!

The grilled cheese was air fried, only because that’s what’s convenient for me. Cook these on the stove or in an oven if that’s what works for you. I used a combination of a vegan cheddar cheese and regular american cheese. I then cut into bite sized pieces. I made two more grilled cheese sandwiches for us to eat and dunk in the soup, with the same cheeses and the addition of a slice of prosciutto. Yum!

All in all, this satisfied the craving. Although, I just have to say, there is still nothing that compared to childhood Campbell’s canned tomato soup. 😉 I would make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Leftover Pasta with Quick Bolognese Sauce and Herb Garlic Bread

I know I’ve written about pasta and garlic bread in the past, but I really wanted to share this because of two things: the quick bolognese sauce using leftover meatballs and herb garlic bread.

First, Jake’s mom had given us four large meatballs that we kept in our freezer for a few weeks. So, instead of needing to buy and cook ground meat, I crumbled two of the meatballs and cooked as part of the sauce. I left two meatballs so Jake and I could each have one with our dish. I didn’t follow a bolognese recipe exactly this time, but I did remember most of the steps involved with the one I used last time and used that as my basis. (Here’s the link to the recipe I used previously.)

The garlic bread I made was based on an herb garlic bread recipe that I absolutely LOVE. I made a modified version of it because I didn’t have all the ingredients. This time, it was only OK, but I highly recommend that you try the actual recipe. (Here’s a link to the original recipe.)

And, of course, to start off, we had smoked gouda cheese, pecorino  romano cheese, prosciutto, and crackers. Yum!

For the sauce, I sauteed chopped onion, celery, and carrot.

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After that, I crushed the meatballs in before adding the various liquids. I then added in about 1 cup of whole milk and let that cook down. Then, I added in about 1 cup of cooking wine and let that cook down.

Finally, I added 28 oz chopped Italian tomatoes, some basil, rosemary, oregano, and a bay leaf. I let that simmer for about 20 minutes. This is the quick version because the original asks you to cook each of those elements down at barely a simmer, which took forever and then the final simmer with everything was supposed to be 3 hours. I found that increasing the heat a bit to speed up the reduction processes and shortening the final simmer didn’t make a huge difference.

Toward the end, I added the last two meatballs into the sauce to simmer together. I grated a little pecorino romano on top.

I forgot that we also bought shrimp to add, so I ended up stirring everything and the shrimp together. The shrimp were already cooked, so they just needed to warm through.

The herb garlic bread is much better made in the blender, but I didn’t feel like taking out and cleaning another appliance. So, I fine chopped the basil and green onion together. My basil was on its last legs, so I think perhaps wasn’t as potent as fresh basil would be. I sliced up some garlic, and grated a little more pecorino romano. Together with about 1 Tbsp of butter, I used my fingers to mix everything together to make a spread.

I then spread each half of fresh french bread. To cook, I put the two halves back together and wrapped in tin foil. I baked for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees Farenheit. Then, I took the tin foil off and split the halves apart again and sprinkled more grated cheese on top.  I broiled to get some brown color. This didn’t work as well this time because the edges of the bread browned faster than the cheese. Next time, I’ll try a low broil.

I sliced into wedges before serving.

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The last step was to cook the pasta. I took out three 3-oz nests from the freezer and boiled then in salty water. Then, it was time to plate each dish and ENJOY!

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I hope you enjoy, too 🙂

Sincerely,
Fu’d

 

 

 

 

Mini Oktoberfest

It has been an entire week since I last published a blog post. I guess that’s what happens when work is particularly busy! Nevertheless, Jake and I hosted our planned Mini Oktoberfest last weekend and it was so much fun! We prepared a bunch of German eats and our friends spent the day with us eating, laughing, playing games, and having some drinks! We even had a stein-holding contest. I opted out due to the impending embarrassment and also because I played videographer. Haha! More to come on that…

Here’s what we made (with links to the recipes):

We had some friends that brought extra delicious treats, as well:

Sausages

I already wrote last week in my food blog post (Oh My! Homemade Pasta and Sauces, Carbonara Arancini, Caesar Dressing, Sausages, Chargrilled Oysters & Clams) about Jake’s sausage prep. When he cooked them this past weekend, he grilled the majority of them, but he chose to cook some of the beef and pork sausages in the smoker. The cooked brats were placed in a beer, butter, and onion bath and sat for 5-10 minutes to give a little extra flavor. Overall, the sausages were good, especially for a first attempt. The beef and pork recipe was actually for patties, which I think made them a bit dense. The chicken and apple sausage may have had too much liquid from the apples because they fell apart a little easier. They were, however, really flavorful and full of great spices. The only problem is there was so much excitement, we didn’t take any photos of the cooked sausages. Oops! Jake thought the smoked brats smelled and tasted a like kielbasa, so he definitely wants to try those next.

I’m sorry if this photo is not up your alley, but for those who appreciate meats, this is probably like a Picasso!

Pretzel Rolls and Beer Cheese Dip

I made the pretzel rolls and beer cheese dip the morning of the party, since I didn’t want the pretzels to get stale overnight. I was NOT looking forward to it, but I sucked it up and did it. The dough was actually really simple to make and I loved how smooth and clean it was after rising for an hour.

I read comments on the recipe that people wished they made smaller pretzel bites so more people could try them. So, I opted to make pretzel balls instead of the twisted pretzels. I simple tore off approximately equal size pieces of dough from the risen dough ball and rolled it in my hands. I tried to cut an “X” on top of each one, but they were a little too soft – that’s why the rolls didn’t come out very symmetrical.

I plopped two at a time into the boiling baking soda/water bath. It became cumbersome to set the timer to 30 seconds each time, so I just eyeballed it. Letting them sit for longer than the 30 seconds, though, did make the dough more soft and gooey. I suggest not trying to multitask or anything while doing this. I then baked them and only after 5 minutes, I checked the bottoms. Not surprisingly they were already brown, so I moved all them on top of a baking rack.

Toward the end, I actually let them sit for another 5 minutes or so in the oven with the temperature off. This is because I felt like the sides could get a more brown, while trying not to over-brown the tops. I thought to myself during the baking process that flatter pretzels would’ve cooked more evenly on the outsides. In the end, though, they turned out great. They just needed that extra little time to sit.

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I followed the beer cheese dip recipe, although I accidentally put all the mozarella in the mix, instead of reserving the specified amount for sprinkling/browning on top. Luckily, I had some extra I was able to add. I don’t think the changed ratios of cheese made any negative difference to the dip. I actually also doubled the recipe, which was perfect for the amount of pretzels and people. People loved this dip!

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Cabbage Casserole

The cabbage casserole was prepared completely the day before, except for the final baking, which I did while the pretzel dough was rising. I used ground chicken, so our guests that can’t eat beef could munch on this. The main deviation from this recipe is that I ended up using probably only 2/3 of a medium/large cabbage, which is a bit less than I think the recipe intended. I found that it would’ve been difficult to fit in the pot if I had had more and the ratio of meat-to-cabbage would’ve been a off. This dish was a great addition that doubled as both an entree and a side.

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German Potatoes

I had pinned 3 different German potato recipes, but I settled on the one that was more of set it and forget it, since there were already a million other things we’d be doing and cooking. I prepared the potatoes the night before and then dumped everything into the crock pot the morning of the party and let it heat through/finish cooking up until it was time to eat. I was disappointed that it called for boiling the potatoes ahead of time. It would have been infinitely more convenient to be able to literally dump it all in the crock pot and let it cook. I’m sure some adaptations could be made to accommodate this.

I think I made more than 4 cups of potatoes because I wanted to make sure there was plenty. I hadn’t increased any of the other amounts, so my potatoes were probably a little less saucy than they were supposed to be. These weren’t bad. I wished there was just a little more flavor. Perhaps if I had just increased the amounts of mustard, vinegar, or salt, then that would’ve done the trick. I also didn’t have fresh parsley and I think that would have been a nice addition, as well. It was still good and I ate all the leftovers anyway!

Onion Pinwheels

The onion pinwheel recipe was actually an onion tart recipe. I didn’t feel like making the tart dough/crust and I don’t have a proper tart baking dish. I took the easy way out and used Pillsbury crescent dough. For the amount of onions I made, I bought two cans of the crescent dough. I prepared the onion mix the day before.

Then that morning, I rolled out the crescent dough as a single piece, pinching a bit at the seams so it didn’t totally rip apart. I spread the onion mix across the rectangular piece and rolled it. I then sliced about 1/2″ thick rolls and put then in parchment paper, on top of a baking rack, so that the bottoms wouldn’t get too brown.

These were great as an appetizer and the caraway seeds gave it a unique flavor! Don’t be scared by the amount of onion. Once the crescent tough puffs up between the layer of onion, it provides a nice buttery and flaky component. Also, I didn’t use speck. Instead, I used regular bacon from our local store. I think using a heavier, higher quality bacon or pancetta would tip this over the edge.

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Cucumber Salad

The last dish I cooked is the cucumber salad. I chose to do this to provide some crispness and freshness among all the heavy foods we were eating. I used sour cream because I already had some that I needed for the other recipes. I thought that perhaps Greek yogurt would’ve been a little better for this dish. I also used a dried dill that isn’t overly dry. Overall, I think this was successful and mild in flavor, which was nice. I don’t think it was a favorite among all the other food choices, but I continued to eat some of the leftovers.

Now comes my talented friends!

Spatzle Casserole

Lindsay made two dishes. She made spatzle, which is sort of like a pasta dish. Normally, the dough is shaped by pushing it through a colander with wide holes. Because Lindsay didn’t a colander that fit the description, she ended up manually shaping the spatzle into more of a small dumpling shape to make a casserole with caramelized onions. This was another great alternative for non-beef eaters and made for a good entree or side!

Bee Sting Bars

Lindsay also made bee sting bars, traditionally called “Bienenstich”. I had sent her a recipe for a bee sting cake, but she was worried about prepping it ahead of time. She did a little more searching and found bars. She was worried about this, too, because there was no cream on the bars like the cake did. She ended up just making the bars and they were so good. Buttery bottom and a sweet layer with almonds on top. These were even better the next day!

Coconut Pecan Chocolate Balls

Last, but not least, were Liz’s delectable brownie bites with a coconut pecan frosting mixed right in there. These were ooey, gooey and delicious. I felt like eating just one was like I had an entire slice – it was so rich and these were a huge hit with our guests. I might just have to steal this for my next get together!

I almost forgot, we also had the stein holding contest. Jake won, but just by a hair ahead of Ben, Liz’s husband. They held the steins for just over 3.5 minutes! I’ll forego uploading the video because you can hear me WAY too clearly narrating. Lol.

All in all, it was a lot of prep and a long party night, but I wouldn’t have changed it for the world. I love cooking and being able to entertain. I hope all our friends had fun, too!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Oh My! Homemade Pasta and Sauces, Carbonara Arancini, Caesar Dressing, Sausages, Chargrilled Oysters & Clams

Next weekend, Jake and I will be hosting a mini Oktoberfest, mostly as an excuse to make sausages and enjoy some time with friends. So, this past weekend, we had our friend, Lindsay, over to do some sausage prep. And of course anytime Lindsay comes over, we have ourselves a cooking fest. This is what was on the menu Saturday night (linked to the recipes we followed, if applicable):

Sausages

We recently bought a stainless steel sausage attachment set for the stand mixer and were excited to try using it. Jake first prepared the meat by cutting it up into smaller pieces and then he placed them in the freezer for a little bit so they would get really cold. He also put the grinder attachment in the freezer to get that nice and cold. While waiting for that, he ground a lot of the spices needed, like fennel, caraway seed, coriander, marjoram, etc. Since we don’t have an herb grinder, he used the coffee bean grinder that we have. I think it might all be the same thing anyway.

Then, he ground all the meat. For the chicken and apple, he actually fed some of the apple through the grinder, as well. Then he added all the different seasonings. These were then placed back into the refrigerator to keep them cold.

Finally, he stuffed the casings. And in the case of the chicken and apple sausage, he used vegetarian casings! The verdict is still out on how all of these sausages taste, since we won’t be cooking then until next weekend, but they look delish!

Arancini

Lindsay made arancini for the first time and it was fantastic! She prepped the risotto and the filling before coming to my house. The filling calls for pancetta, but she used prosciutto. I think it gave the same overall flavor profiles, except probably less smokiness than intended. It did give a sharp saltiness, which was do good and complimented the smoother, creamier flavor of the risotto.

She did the two-step breading with egg first, then rolled in breadcrumbs. A

And instead of pan frying, baking, or deep frying, we decided to use my handy air fryer! Success!

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Homemade Caesar Dressing

With all the heavy foods, lindsay and talked earlier in the day about trying to incorporate some greens/veggies into the cooking day. She also tried another first for her. She made a caesar salad with homemade caesar dressing. It was really good! Unfortunately, I was so full by the time it was done that I only just tasted it and didn’t get to eat a lot! She was originally going to plop all the ingredients into a blender, but we used the immersion blender instead. This was so easy and really should be a simple weeknight meal for anyone – just a few chopped romaine hearts and this dressing, maybe with chicken on top. Perfect!

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Chargrilled Oysters

The third dish Lindsay made was charbroiled oysters and clams. The intent was to just do oysters, but all the stores she went to were low on oysters! The inspiration was a trip to New Orleans this past March for my bachelorette party; we had grilled oysters that Lindsay wanted to recreate. (In my opinion, the ones Lindsay made last weekend were sooo much better.) We employed Jake to try to shuck these, but the oysters were too hard, so we ended up cooking them for a few minutes to get then to open up a bit. Then, we opened them and added the butter sauce. Ugh, these were so good, too!! I’m telling you, we really had a feast. I love seafood in general, but pair it with butter, garlic, parsley, and cheese…incredible. I swear you could put those ingredients on dirt and it would still taste delicious. Haha!

Bolognese

I actually prepped the bolognese sauce earlier in the day because I luckily reviewed the recipe and saw that it needed to simmer for 3 hours. This was simple, but time consuming! Waiting for the milk to first boil down, then the wine to boil down, then the 3 hour simmer…I could’ve taken three naps! It was a really nice recipe and totally yummy, but it didn’t taste like I expected for some reason. I think I’m more used to some of the bolognese recipes I’ve had at restaurants (authentic or not) that don’t have the carrots, celery, etc. I expected it to be a little thinner//less tomato-y. I’m not sure I’d make this again, only because I think I’d like to experiment with more bolognese recipes. I’m determined to find the right one for me!

Pesto

The pesto was so easy and, oh my goodness , it was so fantastically good. I was hesitant about making the pesto because I’ve always been a little “iffy: on the flavor, but this sold me. This was a nut-free recipe, so it really let the basil and cheese shine. In fact, I’m about to drizzle this over our Monday night’s shrimp dinner.

Then, I made two different pastas. One was a two-ingredient pasta I wanted to try because it sounded so easy. It was just one can of pumpkin puree and 3 cups of flour. I found that I needed more than 3 cups. I added the extra flour slowly to the mixture. So, if I had to guess, I probably used a total of 3.25 – 3.5 cups of flour so that the dough wasn’t too wet. And wow, this batch made A LOT of pasta. I ended up with probably 24 oz if I had to guess. I froze 6 bundles of about 3 oz for Jake and I and for Lindsay. Then, we probably cooked about another 6 oz. The pumpkin flavor was very subtle and the texture was perfect. I was very pleased with this!

Spinach and Basil Pasta

I was also loving the other pasta, which was made with blended spinach and basil. The color was amazing and the smell was divine. I thought eating it with the pesto would be basil overload, but it wasn’t. Lindsay had it with some bolognese; that didn’t look as pretty, but was still so good!

 

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Now, the diet starts on Monday again and lasts until next weekend’s mini Oktoberfest. You NEED to follow or check back to see what we’re cooking up that day.

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Turkey Meatballs With A Garlic Dill Yogurt Sauce

I have been craving meatballs so badly recently. I’ve seen so many people making them with the onset of cooler weather and I had to jump on the bandwagon. I air fried turkey meatballs and made a garlic dill sauce to drizzle over them. On the side, I air fried some broccoli and roasted some red kuri squash. The original inspiration for this meal was a Pinterest recipe I had pinned a long time ago. It includes a chicken meatball recipe and the garlic dill yogurt sauce. I chose to create my own recipe for the turkey meatballs, but I followed this recipe for the sauce. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

I’ll tell you – these sides were perfect, but were not my original plan. I had bought dandelion greens for the first time and intended to saute them, use a bit of the cooked leaves to incorporate into the meatballs, and then serve the meatballs over a pile of them. Fail. The dandelion greens were too bitter for my taste and the bunch hardly yielded anything when they cooked down. So, I salvaged a few of the cooked down leaves and put those into the meatball mix.

Anyway, back to the main event…

Turkey Meatballs

For the meatball mixture, I used:

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • A few of the sauteed dandelion greens (Omit this if you want)
  • 1/4 cup cooked peas (I had cooked these with the dandelion greens originally)
  • Salt and pepper

I mixed all the ingredients in a large bowl. I then shaped the meatballs. Feel free to make these as large or as small as you want. Mine were about 1.5″ in diameter. I placed these in my air fryer basket and set the air fryer to about 375 degrees. These cooked quickly. It only took about 10 min (or a little less). I moved then around a bit halfway through so the browning would be a bit more even. I also took this opportunity to cut one in half to check the doneness.

Garlic Dill Sauce

Here’s the link from up above again to the recipe.

I actually didn’t realize at first that this recipe called for non-fat yogurt. I had whole milk Greek yogurt on hand. Only when I read the comments saying the sauce should be pourable did I realize that my sauce was too thick due to the yogurt I used. I thinned it out by adding a tiny bit of water and unsweetened original almond milk. I also used a dried dill, but the bottle I have is very fresh and the dill wasn’t too dry.

Red Kuri Squash and Broccoli

I only ended up using about 1/3 of the red kuri squash. Jake and I bought this at the store because we had never seen it before. I forgot to take a picture of it before I sliced the top off. I sliced this into wedges about 3/4 – 1″ thick and roasted at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes, flipping half way through. I really like this squash. My palate is honestly not sensitive enough to taste the differences between squash, at least not yet, but this tasted similar to other squashes I’ve had, like butternut. The skin was also edible, so we ate the pieces whole.

The broccoli was just air fried with some salt and pepper.


 

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I served this over a little bed of arugala, but I did that just to add some more greens to the dish. The was extremely delicious. The ginger from the meatballs went well with the yogurt sauce and the sauce actually tasted really good over the squash and broccoli. It seems that this sauce is quite versatile if you wanted to try it with other foods!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos

Blackened Tilapia Fish Tacos (With an Avocado Spread, Tomato and Red Onion Salad, Roasted Bell Peppers, and Slaw) –

I made these for “Taco Tuesday” this week. I hadn’t planned it that way, but it worked out perfectly! I air fried the tilapia with a blackening seasoning. To go with the fish, I made a slaw, a tomato/red onion “salad”, roasted bell peppers, and a smashed avocado spread. For the taco shells, I bought Old El Paso soft taco bowls! (By the way, greatest invention ever to avoid spilling the taco guts.)

This another one of those recipes you can so easily adapt to your preferences. For example, you could try shrimp or chicken instead of fish. You could make a salsa or pico de gallo instead of the tomato/red onion salad. Use sour cream instead making an avocado spread. Use plain diced avocado. The possibilities are endless, but you probably already know this if you are any sort of taco or fajita lover!

I eyeballed all the amounts, so I’ve put some estimates, but just make sure to adjust based on your taste and how much you intend to make. I made 8 tacos, not completely filled.

I seasoned the tilapia (.72 lb) first. We have probably 3 different blackening seasonings, so I just used the first one I found. It happened to be the one pictured below that Jake and I bought on a trip to PA one holiday season to visit my brother and sister-in-law. I rubbed both sides until lightly/moderately coated. I laid the filets in the air fryer and set it aside while I prepared the other ingredients.

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I then prepared the avocado spread. I scooped out the flesh of one avocado into a small bowl. I then scooped about 1/4 cup Greek yogurt, seasoned with salt, pepper, and 1/2 tsp lime juice, and then mashed it all together really well. I was originally going to make whipped avocado, but I didn’t feel like “whipping” out the blender (See what I did there? Haha.) I topped with some cracked black pepper and paprika for looks. 😊

Next, I prepared the tomato and red onion salad. I diced a few campari tomatoes I had on hand (they’re small) and sliced about 1/4 of a small red onion thinly. I tossed the tomatoes and onion with a drizzle of olive oil, salt, pepper, a 1/8 tsp cumin, and a 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar.

On to the slaw. I bought a pre-made coleslaw mix. It’s not seasoned with anything, but the cabbage and carrots are already cut up, which is so convenient! I used about 1 cup of the mix. For the dressing, I mixed up 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 Tbsp lemon juice, salt, pepper, 1/2 tsp cumin, and two minced garlic cloves. I mixed this rapidly to get the mixture a little creamy (due to the olive oil). I imagine you could throw this into the blender, too, to get it a little creamy. Once the dressing was done, I tossed with the coleslaw.

I prepared the bell peppers. At our local grocery stores they sell “stoplight” peppers. They are called that because each package contains one red, one yellow, and one green bell pepper. I sliced up about a quarter of each pepper into 1/2″ strips. I baked in the oven with olive, salt, and pepper until tender.

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I left air frying the fish for last so that it was freshly cooked when we were ready to eat. I hate when fish finishes early and I’m forced to reheat or keep warm and then it’s overcooked! I purposely broke up the filets so we could put smaller pieces into our tacos.

I served everything a la carte style so we could make our own tacos. This would be a fun dish for the kids with their favorite types of toppings – just be sure to make extra because they will gobble it up!

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Sincerely,
Fu’d

Forget the Chinese Takeout – A Simple Beef and Broccoli Dish

Now, I know there is no substitute for the really salty, greasy, and guilty pleasure of Chinese takeout food, but this beef and broccoli dish is sure to please. Plus, it is really easy to make. I finished prepping this dish way faster than most of my other weeknight meals. (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

Before I walk through how I cooked up this recipe, here are a few comments:

  • This first note isn’t really a tip, but more so a testament to how good this was. Jake came in from doing yard work and the first thing he said was, “Wow, that smells really good!”
  • In reading through the recipe comments (and I agree) that substituting the protein for chicken or something else would still work perfectly. So, you should definitely try this with something other than beef if that’s what you prefer.
  • I had also asked Jake later what he thought could be improved about the dish and he said more sauce. For me, the amount of sauce was perfect, but I did see other comments of people who doubled the sauce. So, if you’re a sauce lover, go ahead and double it.

The ingredients you need are listed in the recipe at the link above, but here’s what I did:

First, I sliced up the steak tips into about 1/4″ slices. You could even do thin strips if you prefer smaller pieces and more sauce-to-beef ratio. 🙂

I then prepared the mixture that would coat the beef, giving it a little more texture with the cornstarch for pan frying and some flavor with the garlic powder. I liked that this was a liquidy mixture, rather than some other recipes that simply tell you to toss the meat with cornstarch.

In most cases, I like to prepare the later ingredients before I start cooking. So, I took this opportunity to cut up the broccoli, begin cooking the rice, and prepare the soy sauce mixture.

I used a deep pot because I wanted room to toss the beef and broccoli in the sauce, without accidentally flipping everything out of a pan. I heated up oil and cooked the beef until I had some browning on the outside and the pieces were cooked through. I took the beef out and put in a bowl to set aside. (I usually like to place cooked food in the microwave, not turned on, to keep warm.)

I then cooked the broccoli. I actually also decided to add some sliced mushrooms, which was a nice addition. When done, I tossed the beef back in and added the sauce mixture I had prepared earlier. I tossed to coat everything and let that cook for a few minutes.

Then, it was done! My rice had also finished cooking in that time. Just plate and serve! I happened to have some sesame seeds on hand, so I sprinkled some on top as a garnish. Since I love sriracha, I also added a drizzle of it on my dish.

This was very yummy and I would definitely make this again!

Sincerely,
Fu’d

The Perfect Fall Treat – Mini Cider Donut Muffins

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We don’t usually drink apple cider, but we bought some last week so we could make that delicious bone-in pork recipe. Of course, we had a bunch of the cider left over. With fall now officially in the air, cider donuts are apparently a must. I’ve never personally had cider donuts, but Jake raves about them. That gave me the idea of maybe trying my own cider donuts and using up some of that left over apple cider. Most of the recipes I found required buttermilk. That would’ve been yet another ingredient we buy a jug of when all we need is a cup or less. So, instead, I found a cider donut muffin recipe. No buttermilk and no frying! (Here’s the link to the recipe.)

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I prepared the wet mixture, which included one egg, 3/4 cup apple cider, and 1/2 tsp vanilla extract.

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I then put the dry ingredients (as directed in the recipe) into my stand mixer bowl. I turned the mixer on to mix up the dry ingredients a bit and then I poured the wet mixture in batches until well combined.

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The mixture seemed a little too wet. I thought maybe I forgot to add a 1/2 cup of the flour! I ended up adding about one more tablespoon of flour.

I decided to use a mini muffin tin because I wanted more bite-sized donut muffins. I sprayed the muffin tin with olive oil spray. I then used a tablespoon measuring spoon to scoop the batter into each muffin spot. That seemed to be just the right amount.

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I placed the mini muffin sheet on top of a baking wire rack, which was on top of a baking sheet. I did this because I didn’t want the bottoms of the mini muffins to cook faster and darken more than the rest of the muffin. I baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for about 15 minutes. When done, I set everything on the counter to cook as I prepared the melted butter and cinnamon sugar mixture. I only melted about 4 tablespoons of butter (rather than the 7 tablespoons in the recipe.) I also halved the cinnamon and sugar mixture.

To get each mini muffin out of its little hole, I poked a toothpick around the edges and pried the muffin out a bit, taking care not to rip the bottom part of the muffin.

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I decided not to cover the entire mini muffin with the sugar both because it was easier just to dunk the top and also because I thought it might keep the muffins a little lighter/healthier. I dunked the top of the muffin into the butter and then immediately after into the cinnamon sugar mix. I then set each on the wire rack.

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These cooled very quickly, so they were ready to eat almost immediately after I was done coating all the muffins. These were great! Not the same thing as the fried cider donuts, but still a winner – great to just make and eat at home or to bring as a mini dessert for friends and family. If you have kids, this would be a great shared baking experience to try!

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Sincerely,
Fu’d

Garbage Quiche with a Phyllo Dough Crust

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I just received my new toys from Williams Sonoma yesterday. I don’t usually shop there, but we received a gift card (Thank you, Jim and Cindy!) as a wedding gift. I bought several items; two of them are a 3-piece stoneware baker set and 4-cup glass measuring cup. I purchased the stoneware baker set because all we have of that sort are Pyrex baking dishes. Those work great, but they don’t look great for serving guests or to bring as a guest to someone else’s house. I bought the large measuring cup because Jake needed one recently and I had been thinking about getting one and so I took this opportunity to go for it.

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My new purchases from Williams Sonoma

This morning, we didn’t really have anything specific to make for breakfast, but we did have eggs and vegetables that needed to be used soon. What came to mind was to make a frittata or quiche. So, I dug into the freezer and found some left over phyllo (or filo) dough that I thought would work great as a crust. I call this recipe a “garbage” quiche because it will work with virtually any sort of vegetable or protein you have – whatever you have on hand! In fact, my favorite fillings for a quiche are ham and artichokes.

Here’s what I used:

  • 5 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 5 sheets of phyllo dough
  • 1/2 cup cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 medium avocado, sliced
  • Vegetables:
    • 1/4 red onion thinly sliced
    • a couple of large broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
    • 3 campari tomatoes, 2 diced and 1 sliced
  • Seasonings: salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika (all to taste)
  • Garnish: fresh parsley (optional)

Here’s a summary of what I did.

If you’d like more explanation/description, read past the summary steps. I know, sometimes I at least like to know the tips and tricks before I get started so I can adjust accordingly.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit
  2. Crack eggs into a medium mixing bowl. Add the seasonings and water. Beat the eggs.
  3. Add all the vegetables (except the sliced campari tomato) and half the cheese to the eggs. Mix to combine.
  4. Spray or rub a baking dish with oil/butter. Layer the phyllo dough in the dish, with the dough going up the sides and slightly over the top.
  5. Pour the egg mixture into the dish.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the top begins to get a little firm, but is still liquidy.
  7. Place the sliced campari tomato on top of the egg and sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.
  8. Bake for another 15-20 minutes until golden brown on top and egg is cooked through. (This will vary.)

Additional Explanation/Description of Steps

First, I cracked 5 large eggs into the measuring cup. (I normally would’ve done this in a small mixing bowl, but I was too anxious to use that measuring cup for something!) I seasoned the eggs with some salt, pepper, and garlic powder. I also added a splash of water to the eggs to give them a little volume. Beat the eggs, seasoning, and water.

Then, I chopped up my vegetables. I diced two campari tomatoes, thinly sliced a little red onion, and small chopped a few broccoli florets. I added those to the egg mix along with 1/4 cup of shredded cheddar cheese. Stir to combine.

(At this point, I sliced a third campari tomato, but we’re going to add that later. I also sliced an avocado, which we’ll add later, as well.)

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Sliced avocado to go on top of the quiche

I defrosted the rolled up dough by microwaving it directly inside the ziplog bag for about 30 seconds. I sprayed the baking dish of my choice with some olive oil. I forgot I had previously cut the phyllo dough, so I had smaller rectangles. I simply laid out the sheets with some slight overlap. I did this part very roughly. A lot of recipes that do this will have you put down one piece of phyllo dough and then brush it with butter, repeating that 5 or 6 times. I didn’t bother. I simply took a pile of about 5 sheets and laid it down. I then just sprayed some more olive oil spray over the top. You can see from my photo that my pieces were just slightly too small and didn’t hang over the top of the dish. If you want a little more of that golden phyllo dough to stick out the top, just use larger sheets that hang over the edge and trim to your liking.

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My messy phyllo dough layering in the baking dish

I poured in my egg mixture into the dish, on top of the phyllo dough.

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Egg mixture poured into the dish and on top of the phyllo dough

I popped this into the 350 degree Farenheit preheated oven and baked for about 15 minutes. I then took the dish out and layered my sliced campari tomatoes on top. I had also added the sliced avocado at this time, but that was a mistake. (The avocado browned a bit while cooking in the oven, so I covered it with some cheese. My suggestion is to put the avocado on after everything is done cooking just as a garnish/topping.) Take this opportunity to also sprinkle the rest of the cheese on top.

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Adding sliced campari tomatoes part-way through baking

Bake for another 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven and your baking dish. Check the doneness by sticking a toothpick through the middle. If it still looks a bit liquidy, it needs to cook longer. If it feels firm and doesn’t seem watery, then it is likely done.

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The finished quiche

Voila! The final product. Garnish with parsley and sprinkle with a little additional paprika if you’d like! This would be the perfect dish for breakfast or brunch with family and friends. 🙂

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Happy breakfast/brunching!

Sincerely,
Fu’d