Tag Archives: quick cooking

Blackened Rock Cod & Black-Eyed Slaw

Oh look, a new Food Network magazine on the rack.  Can I resist?  Um…no.  I’m weak.  A cooking magazine addiction is a terrible (but tasty) thing.  This one was chock full of recipes to use up summer produce and eat light.  And not so light.  But for now we’ll avoid the Banana-Coconut Marshmallow Meringue Pie (oh yeah, that’s happening) and start with something healthy-ish.  I especially like the weeknight cooking section with recipes that are quick to make.

Growing up in Oregon, I didn’t ever eat black-eyed peas as a kid.  In fact the first time I ate them, somewhere in the wilds of Arkansas, I was shocked to find that they weren’t gross at all, as I had always suspected, but actually pretty darn tasty!  In fact, there are places where people eat them all the time!  Some people even eat them for luck every year on New Year’s Eve.  I have no idea if that works but there are certainly worse traditions out there.

I think you could use any kind of white fish fillet to make the blackened fish dish.  I happened to have rock cod, so that’s what I used, although the original recipe called for tilapia.  I also played a bit with the slaw recipe.  I guess I’m just not that great at following directions, but the results were terrific!  I made some incredible corn bread to go with it.  If you’re interested in that, tune in tomorrow.

Blackened Rock Cod with Black-Eyed Slaw & Cornbread

Blackened Rock Cod
(Adapted from Food Network Magazine)

1 tbsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
Salt & pepper
4 rock cod or tilapia fillets

In a small bowl combine paprika, cumin and salt and pepper.  Rub most of the rub on one side of the fillets, using any leftover for the other side.  Heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet.  Add fish, spicy side down.  Cook 3-4 minutes.  Flip carefully and continue to cook another 2 minutes or so until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Black-Eyed Slaw

Black-Eyed Slaw
(Adapted from Food Network Magazine)

1/3 cup prepared salsa verde (I like the Herdez brand)
2 tbsp. white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. sour cream
3 tbsp. olive oil
4 cups shredded cole slaw mix (one 14 oz. bag)
1 can black-eyed peas, drained and rinsed

In a large bowl whisk together salsa verde, vinegar, sour cream and olive oil.  Add cole slaw mix and black-eyed peas and gently toss until all ingredients are combined.  Taste for seasonings, and add salt & pepper if needed.

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Onion-Crusted Rock Cod

I had every intention of making oven-baked fish & chips for this meal, but with temperatures nearing 100 degrees, there was no way I was turning on my oven.  So we’ll save that for another day.  Instead I opted for a quick pan-fried fish and cool cucumber and tomato salad.

Rock cod is not only nice and mild tasting, but its firm texture holds up well for pan-frying, keeping its shape and not falling apart.  The onions mixed with the breadcrumbs caramelize as they cook, adding a nice bump of flavor and a subtle sweetness.

Onion-Crusted Rock Cod

Onion-Crusted Rock Cod

Rock cod filets
3/4 cup panko
1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
Salt & pepper
1 tsp. olive oil
1/4 cup greek yogurt

In a shallow dish combine panko, onion, olive oil and a pinch of salt & pepper.

Bread crumb mixture. Love the extra flavor from the onions in the mixture!

Rub cod filets all over with yogurt and then press into bread crumb mixture until well coated on both sides.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Flick a few drops of water into the pan.  If they sizzle, it’s ready to go.  Add filets to pan and cook 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides.

Pan-frying rock cod filets

Serve with your favorite tartar sauce or wedges of lemon.  Or mix up your own fishy sauce with a bit of mayonnaise, a squeeze of lemon and squirt of sriracha.

Creamy cucumber salad is the perfect complement for this fish dish.  Since I had a couple of garden tomatoes I added them to the recipe as well.  Add a little fresh fruit on the side and you have a perfect summer meal.

Rock cod with creamy cucumber salad and fruit.

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Zippy String Bean Salad

I really love gardening.  It’s relaxing, it’s fun, I like seeing things grow…and eating them.  Unfortunately gardens don’t like me much.  Which is why I was thrilled when my daughter Claire showed a little more potential in this area.  This year she decided to grow string beans.  Perfect!  I love string beans!  But then, she left for vacation.

Our bumper string bean crop.

So off to farmer’s market I went, where I scored a big wad of beans grown by professionals.

With the kids on vacation I haven’t been cooking much.  Plus it’s been hot and with no air conditioning in my house, turning on the oven just isn’t a wise idea.  So I’ve taken to getting creative with salads, particularly those where I can make a big batch and eat on it for 2 or 3 days.  This is one of those recipes.  If you make it all up except for the goat cheese and nuts, it will keep in the fridge for days, and I actually liked it even better the second day than I did the first.  Add the cheese and nuts when you are ready to eat it so the nuts stay crunchy and the cheese holds its shape.

Zippy String Bean Salad

Zippy String Bean Salad

1 pound green beans
1/2 cup red onion, sliced or chopped
1/2 red chile pepper, minced or thinly sliced
1/4 cup cider vinegar (I used apple jalapeno vinegar for an extra little kick)
Salt & pepper
1/2 cup walnut halves
Crumbled goat cheese – 1-2 ounces per serving

Trim the ends off the beans.  Mix onion, chile pepper and vinegar in a serving bowl.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.   Toss in the beans and boil for 5 minutes. Do not boil these beautiful beans to death!  They should still have a little snap to them.  Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.  Add to the vinegar mixture.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and toss well to coat.  At this point you can refrigerate for later or the next day.  Top with goat cheese and walnuts right before serving.

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Greek Salad Wraps

Just a quickie post today, highlighting a quickie dinner!  I’m short on time because I’m starting my kickboxing classes today!  More on that later as I complain about my aches and pains.

These easy, no-cook wraps have everything you like about Greek salad, without even needing a fork.  I especially like them because I usually have most of this stuff in my fridge anyway and they are a snap to make.  Any time I can throw things in a wrap and call it dinner, I laugh a little, since it’s still considered “cooking.”

Greek Salad Wraps

Greek Salad Wrap

1 tortilla or sandwich wrap
2 tbsp. hummus, any flavor you like
celery, sliced
leaf lettuce
tomato, diced or sliced
mild banana peppers
1-2 tbsp. crumbled feta cheese
3-4 kalamata olives

Spread hummus on wrap, top with other ingredients in a pile going down the center.  Fold up the bottom and roll up like a burrito.  Stick a toothpick in it if it doesn’t want to stay put.  I served these with simple sweet potato fries, which aren’t Greek at all, but still made for a tasty pairing.

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Mini Polenta Pizzas

Polenta is one of those ingredients I forget about.  That is, until I have some and then I think, “oh yeah, I love this stuff!”.  There are two ways I really like it: one is cooked creamy, like rice or grits (although oddly, I don’t like grits), preferably loaded with some sort of creamy cheese.  The other way I love it is when it is set up solid, and then fried so it’s a little crispy on the outside.

To fry polenta, you can make it yourself and then cook it in a pan to set up solid, then cut it into pieces and pan-fry it.  Or, if you are rather lazy like me, you can buy it pre-made in a tube!  Now, usually food in a tube grosses me out, but this stuff is pretty good, without much in the way of added ingredients.  Simply remove it from the tube and slice it up into disks.  Fry or bake to your heart’s content or use it in whatever recipe strikes your fancy.

In this case, I was in the mood for pizza.  But I’m trying to eat more healthy, and also trying to cut down on gluten-heavy foods since they seem to love my hips (and why wouldn’t they?).  So the idea for using polenta disks instead of crust was born.  Since I had just broken in my new food processor by making the first batch of pesto out of my garden, I decided on pesto instead of red sauce and with a couple of fresh veggies and stretchy cheese…voila!  Pizza in a quickie, fairly healthy, bite-size form. Can I just say, I’m somewhat of a genius?

Mini Polenta Pizzas

Mini Polenta Pizzas

1 tube of pre-made polenta
Salt & pepper
Olive oil
1/2 cup basil pesto (store bought or homemade)
Fresh garden or vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced
Zucchini, sliced in disks or diced
Mozzarella cheese, shredded or thinly sliced

Preheat oven to 400˚.  Slice polenta into disks, about 1/2 inch thick.  Lay on a baking sheet and drizzle with a bit of olive oil.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Take out of the oven and smear tops with pesto.


Build your pizza with your favorite toppings.  We used fresh tomatoes, thinly sliced zucchini and mozzarella cheese.

Fresh and beautiful toppings

Pop back into the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, until cheese is melted and starting to brown in spots.  Remove from oven and let it sit for just a few minutes.  If you eat them when they are really hot, you’ll need a fork.  If you wait a little bit you can pick them up.  Up to you!  One tube of polenta yields about 10 mini pizzas.

Right out of the oven. And those crunchy cheese bits on the pan all got eaten too!

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Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

Pasta is so good, but unfortunately not that great for you in large quantities.  That’s why I’m always trying to find ways to make it a little more healthy.  And that usually means piling on the veggies.  Luckily, my kitchen is usually well-stocked with vegetables of all sorts since I tend to buy everything that looks good at farmer’s markets on the weekends.  And believe me, EVERYTHING looks good this time of year!

I love this Asian take on noodles and veggies.  It’s such a quick and satisfying meal.  I used brown rice noodles, keeping with the Asian theme and also keeping it gluten-free.  As far as gluten-free noodles go, I really like these; they are very similar to regular pasta in taste and texture.  But any type of pasta will work great.  In this dish, I love the contrast of the cool noodles with the hot stir-fried veggies and light, zippy sauce.  Perfect for a summer dinner.

Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

8 oz. thin spaghetti or angel hair
1 tsp. garlic chile paste
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp. lime juice
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/4 tsp. sugar
1 pound snap peas, strings pulled and sliced in half
1 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tbsp mince fresh garlic
1 orange or red bell pepper, diced
1 spring onion, sliced or diced
1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

Cook noodles until tender, but firm to the bite, 6-8 minutes.  Rinse with cool water and set aside.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine, garlic chile paste, soy sauce, lime juice, sesame oil and sugar.  Set aside.  Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add a drizzle of canola oil.  Add snap peas, ginger, garlic, bell pepper, and onion.  Stir fry a few minutes until veggies are crisp tender.  Add bowl of sauce and sesame seeds and stir well to combine.  Cook for another minute or so.  Toss with noodles and serve.  Serves 4.

Sesame Snap Peas & Noodles

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Easy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans

Green beans are my favorite vegetable.  Fun to eat, crunchy and good.  This time of year, farmer’s market has them by the bucket so I picked some up last time I went. Roasting is my preferred method to cook just about any vegetable, and the only thing easier is to go ahead and throw the other ingredients for dinner on the pan with it.

This dish has all the yumminess of shrimp scampi (without the gobs of butter) plus the crunchiness of the roasted green beans.  Serve with some simple couscous for an easy, delicious dinner that’s actually good for you.  If you don’t like mushrooms, leave them out.  Same goes with the crushed red pepper. This is one that is very easy to adapt to your own tastes.

Easy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans

Easy Roasted Shrimp & Green Beans

1 pound of fresh green beans
1 pound peeled shrimp
A handful of small mushrooms, if you like them
5 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper (add more or less to adjust spiciness to your taste)
2 lemons
Salt & pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil

Preheat oven to 400˚. Line large baking sheet with foil or parchment (this is mostly for easy clean up, you don’t have to do it if you don’t want to).  Combine shrimp, green beans, garlic, crushed red pepper and zest from both lemons.  Spread out in pan.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Squeeze juice of one lemon over the top.  Drizzle the whole thing with a bit of olive oil (you don’t need much).  Bake for 20 minutes until green beans are tender but still have a bite and shrimp are cooked through.  Cut the other lemon into wedges for garnish and to squeeze over the top of both the shrimp and couscous if desired.  Serves 4.

Fresh out of the oven. Yum!

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Island Tacos

I could live on an island.  Blue skies, palm trees, hammock, sunshine, umbrella drink and a stack of books.  And fish and fruit for dinner all the time.  It doesn’t sound too bad.  Okay, I’d probably be sick of it after a few weeks and miss the trees and rain, but I’m a little crazy like that.  But sometimes on rainy days (in June!) I pretend I’m on an island and cook something tropical.  And it makes me smile.

Island Fish Tacos

Island Fish Tacos

3 tilapia filets
1 tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. cumin
Salt & pepper
1 cup pineapple, diced
1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
1 jalapeno, minced
1/4 cup diced red onion
Juice of one lime
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Corn tortillas
Salsa (optional)

Make pineapple salsa by combining pineapple, pepper, jalapeno, onion, lime juice and cilantro in a bowl.

Pineapple Salsa. Use on tacos or eat by itself!

Sprinkle fish with seasonings on both sides.  Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a frying pan over medium-high heat.  Cook the fish 1-2 minutes per side until browned and cooked through.  They cook quickly, so keep an eye on them.

Tilapia cooking

To build tacos, put a piece of the fish (each filet will make 2-3 tacos) on a tortilla and top with pineapple salsa.  For some extra zip add a spoonful of your favorite tomato salsa on top.  Take a bite and let your taste buds dance the hula!


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Rustlin’ Up Some Chili

Cowboys have it figured out.  Fresh air.  Horses.  Chuck wagon.  Sleeping under the stars.  And along the way somewhere they discovered the perfect food.  Chili.  Chock full of protein & veggies.  Cooks in one pot on the stove (or campfire).  Does it get any easier -or tastier- than that?

Canned chili is disgusting.  And in my opinion, pointless.  Why would you eat a nasty can of something when it’s so easy to throw a bunch of stuff in a pot, come back 30 minutes later and find chili that is fresh and good?  Any cowboy worth his salt would throw that can to the cows and rustle up a batch on his own.  So hang up your spurs, throw on an apron, and get to rustlin’!

This is about the easiest recipe ever.  Sauté, throw things in, simmer.  I know there are a million recipes for chili, but even when I stray and try new things, I always return to my old standby.  For a vegetarian version, just leave the meat out.  It cooks in about 45 minutes from start to finish, and it’s even better the next day.  Plus the leftovers freeze very well. I like to make it in a double batch and freeze half of it in small containers for easy lunches later.

Three Bean Chili

April’s Three Bean Chili

1 onion, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef (optional)
2-3 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. cumin
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. salt
1 28 oz. can diced tomatoes (with juice)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce (or 2 small cans)
1 can black beans (drain & rinse)
1 can pinto beans (drain & rinse)
1 can kidney beans (drain & rinse)

Sauté onions, peppers and garlic in a drizzle of olive oil.  Add beef and continue to cook until it’s browned.  Add seasonings and stir to mix thoroughly.  Add tomatoes, tomato sauce and beans.  Mix well.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Cover and simmer for 30 minutes (or longer if you want).  Check seasonings.  Adjust if needed.  Chow time!

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Pasta with Roasted Beets, Spinach & Goat Cheese

Beets are one of those things about which nobody has a mild opinion.  You either love them or you hate them.  Me? I love them.  They are actually one of the few vegetables I will buy in a can.  I like them pickled and not pickled. But the best way to eat them is of course to buy them fresh when they are in season and roast them in the oven.

In case you’re wondering, beets are terrific for cardiovascular health, contain significant levels of Vitamin C, potassium and B vitamins, among other vitamins and minerals.  Some people even believe they are an aphrodisiac.  The greens are also very nutritious.  And incidentally, if you have small children, this is a great veggie to introduce while the kiddos are young because it’s sweet and they love it.  At least, my daughter used to love it.  Now not so much.  But Luke and I are big fans.

One of the most fun (and sometimes annoying) things about beets is that they turn everything pink.  Never cook beets while wearing white.  Of course, I don’t cook anything while wearing white.  But especially not these.  In this pasta, the more you stir it up, the more pink the sauce gets.  I just barely tossed it so it was more of a pink swirl.  And I chose campanelle pasta because it looks like a flower so it would be pretty when it’s pink. 🙂

Pasta with Roasted Beets, Spinach and Goat Cheese

Pasta with Roasted Beets, Spinach & Goat Cheese

8 oz. Campanelle (or other smallish-shaped pasta)
1 cup sliced roasted beets
3-4 cups fresh baby spinach
5 oz. goat cheese (1 small package)
Salt & pepper

To roast beets, I leave them whole, with the skin on (less juice everywhere when you do it this way).  Trim the greens (some people eat those too), drizzle with a little olive oil and roast in the oven at 400˚ for about 30 minutes until tender when stabbed with a fork.  Let cool, peel and slice.

Cook pasta until tender but not overcooked.  In a large serving bowl (or you can do individual servings if you have some beet haters) place spinach.  Scatter sliced beets over the top along with dollops of goat cheese scattered about.  Drain pasta (reserving a bit of the pasta water).  Add pasta to serving bowl along with 1/4 – 1/2 cup of pasta water.  Toss lightly to combine.  Season to taste with salt & pepper.

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