Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hurricane Irene and Fish Tacos

Fish Tacos, Refried Beans, Guacamole and Chips -- Yum!
Hurricane Irene is ON TOP of us, here in Midlothian, VA -- winds are blowing, and the rain is coming in sideways! What to do? COOK of course!

I love fish tacos in the restaurants, but was hesitant to try them here at home. I really don't know why, except that I'd never made a fish taco before, and I want everything I cook to turn out delicious! I am sometimes unwilling to try something new out of fear that it might not be THAT good, but what a silly attitude.

We must try new things in order to grow, right?? !! ??
So, here's my take on Fish Tacos. They are measured against Cabo Fish Tacos in Blacksburg VA, where I have never eaten, but where my family keeps RAVING about and sets the standard as far as Fish Tacos go. I hope you enjoy them, we did! I think, after about 4 tries, I nailed it!

I like to make the slaw for the tacos earlier in the day, so that the flavors can meld.

Tilapia Fish Tacos with Jalapeno Slaw
4 tilapia fillets
2 limes
soft, fresh corn tortillas
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1 tsp. chili powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
dash cayenne
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Lay your fillets side by side and squeeze 1/2 of one of the limes over them. Spray the fish lightly with a little more cooking spray and sprinkle on your spices evenly. Be careful with the cayenne pepper if you are not a fan of spicy! (You could even substitute paprika to get the color without the heat, but it will change the taste a little.)
Bake them for about 20 minutes. Squeeze a little more lime juice over the fish and chop it all up -- no knife really required with tilapia -- and put it into a bowl for serving. Warm your tortillas up just a little, wrapped in a damp towel.

Jalapeno Slaw
1/2 of a small to medium green cabbage ( you need about 2+ cups shredded)
1 T. finely minced onion
1 jalapeno, seeds mostly removed, finely minced
1 small bunch cilantro, stems removed and chopped
Juice of 1 lime
2 rounded T. light mayo (I like Dukes)
1/2 tsp. sugar
salt to taste
1 T. cider vinegar
zest of 1/2 lime
First, make your dressing:
In a small bowl, combine mayo, lime juice, sugar, vinegar, lime zest and a pinch of salt. If your lime is not juicy and the dressing looks too thick, add a little more vinegar until it thins out.
Next, thinly shred your cabbage until you have 2 heaping cups. Add the onion cilantro and jalapeno and toss until well combined. Pour your dressing over and mix well. At this point I put the slaw into the refrigerator and stir it a few times to let it all come together.

To serve your tacos, put a few spoonfuls of fish on a warm corn tortilla and top with a little slaw. We like this with jazzed up, fat free re fried beans and some guacamole! Oh, guacamole!! See the recipe below:

Fantastic guacamole
2 ripe avocados
juice of one lime
a little garlic salt
2 T. of your favorite salsa
1 heaping T. light sour cream
a few dashed of hot sauce or 1/2 minced jalapeno
Put your avocado into a nonreactive bowl (not metal). Squeeze your lime juice all over it and sprinkle with garlic salt. Mash this with the back of fork or mince up with a knife. Mix in the salsa and sour cream and either the hot sauce or the minced jalapeno. If not serving immediately, place some clear plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the guacamole. This will help to keep it from turning brown.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Jambalaya -- Fabulous one skillet meal!

Assorted Peppers from my garden, cayenne and jalapenos
I've got peppers coming in, am loaded up with tomatoes and herbs, so I decided to make a pot of jambalaya. My nice neighbor gave me a bunch of green and orange banana peppers, and I've been growing these!

I always begin my jambalaya with by chopping up some veggies -- 3 cloves of minced garlic and the trifecta of taste, peppers, onions and celery, about a cup of each, diced like below.
Always remember the trinity, here's the garlic, onions and celery ready for the pot
The picture only shows the green pepper, but I used 1 each of the orange and green banana peppers, as well as a minced cayenne and a finely chopped jalapeno (seeds removed).

Next, slice your favorite smoked sausage (1 12 - 16 oz. portion). For this dish, I used low fat polksa kielbasa. Put a little olive oil in the bottom of a deep, heavy skillet and cook your sliced sausageit till it starts to brown along the edges. Remove it until a little later. Next, saute' your veggies, in a BIG skillet, with a about a T. each of butter and olive oil. That seems like a lot, but you are going to be making a lot! When the veggies start to soften, add one cup of rice ( I like a mixture of 2/3 c. white to 1/3 c. brown) and stir this around with the vegetables, coating the grains, with the oil and butter mixture. Sprinkle the rice with 1 T. chili powder, 1/2 tsp. celery salt and 1 T. fresh thyme and a pinch of saffron if you have it or can afford some! I did not have any, so I substituted 1 1/2 tsp. of smoked paprika and 1/2 tsp. of cumin. The flavor profile is different, but you'll get some smokey flavor and the orange color, like you would from the saffron. Next, add one can of diced tomatoes or 1 pint of cherry tomatoes, halved.

Stir in 2 cups of chicken stock, and 1/2 cup of dry white wine and bring this to a boil. Lower to a simmer and put on the lid. Sprinkle in a little salt, maybe 1/2 tsp. and some freshly ground black pepper. Let this mixture cook for at least 30 minutes, stirring periodically to make sure nothing sticks. If it starts to dry out, as mine did, add more stock, 1/2 cup at a time. After 30 to 45 minutes add the sausage back into the mixture along with 1 - 2 cups of your favorite seafood, or whatever you have in your freezer. I used 1 cup of raw, peeled and deveined shrimp and 1 cup of frozen bay scallops. Here's a picture of my big, ol' skillet of yumminess!

Big ol' pan of Jambalaya!

The only thing left to do, is dig in! This will make 5 adult sized portions. We had it with a green salad and some crusty bread for sopping up the spicy drippins! Laissez les bon temps rollons! (Pardon my french, very rusty!)
Sure wish you could taste it! Yummy Jambalaya!

Here's a list of ingredients to help you shop:

1 32 oz. box chicken stock
1 smoked sausage or polska kielbasa
1 large onion
1 medium green pepper, plus a few other assorted ones for color and texture
fresh garlic cloves
seafood - 1 1/2 cups asst. such as shrimp, scallops or clams
dry white wine
1 can diced tomatoes or 1 pint cherry tomatoes
Fresh thyme, celery salt, chili powder, saffron if you feel rich, otherwise use smoked paprika and cumin