Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tilapia and White Bean Taco Salad Bowls

First of all, I want to thank eat.drink.MISSISSIPPI magazine for publishing a really nice article about me and Mississippi Kitchen in their April/May issue.  If you have Mississippi roots (or are just a lover of the South), check out their magazine.  Lots of interesting foodie stuff.  I made a note of several restaurants I would like to try and wouldn't have known about otherwise, as well as several recipes.   Their Facebook page is here. 

I finally broke down over the weekend and ordered an iPhone.  When the scrolly ball on my Blackberry bit the dust and I could no longer scroll upward, bringing all texting to a complete halt, I knew it was time.  So as of yesterday, I have a shiny, new 4G iPhone.  I'm feeling pretty awesome, let me tell you, and I'm on the lookout for some really cool apps.  I've always wanted apps.  And Siri?  Well, I'm looking forward to getting to know her more.

In other news, several people in my family have decided to quit eating meat.  My daughter is one of them, which is freaking my Mississippi kitchen out.  But I put on my thinking cap and pulled a special recipe out the other day just for my little pescetarian.  This recipe landed me a spot in a cook-off in Hollywood a couple of years ago sponsored my Mission Tortillas.  It's got some good stuff in it and look--no meat!

Here are my notes:

-I use ramekins that have a flat bottom to them to make the bowls, so the bowls will sit flat on the plate.

-The dressing and pickled relish can totally be made the day ahead.

-You could put any kind of bean you like in these.  Pintos or black beans would also be good.

-If you don't have a taco seasoning packet, do what I did the other day and add chili powder and cumin to the cornmeal for seasoning.  About a teaspoon of each.

Tilapia and White Bean Taco Salad Bowls with Creamy Avocado Dressing and Pickled Red Relish

7 Mission medium soft taco flour tortillas, divided
2 tablespoons melted butter
3/4 cup matchstick cut radishes
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons white vinegar
4 tablespoons lime juice, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 teaspoon pepper, divided
1 avocado, peeled, seeded and diced
1 1/2 cups sour cream
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1 pound tilapia, cut into 3/4 inch bite-size pieces
1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning
1 (14-16 ounce) can cannellini or great northern white beans, rinsed and drained
Canola oil for frying
4 cups shredded lettuce

1.     Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Place five 8 to 10-ounce custard cups or bowls upside down on a baking sheet.  Microwave 5 tortillas on high heat for 30 seconds until warm and pliable.  Brush both sides with melted butter.   Place a tortilla over each cup, forming a bowl shape. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove tortillas to wire racks to cool.  Stack remaining 2 tortillas; cut into 1/4-inch strips.  Set aside.
2.     Stir together the radishes, red onion, white vinegar, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper; set aside.

3.     In a food processor, process the avocado, sour cream, remaining 2 tablespoons lime juice, the cilantro, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper until smooth.  

4.     Place the corn meal and taco seasoning in a zip lock bag; shake to combine.  Pour oil to a depth of 1/2 inch in a large skillet.  Heat to 375 degrees over medium-high heat.  Add fish to cornmeal mixture and seal bag; shake gently to evenly coat.  Fry fish for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown and done.  Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.  Fry tortilla strips in the oil for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown.  Remove to paper towel-lined platter.

5.     To assemble, divide the lettuce evenly between each tortilla bowl.  Top lettuce with the white beans, then the fish, then drizzle with the avocado dressing.   Add the pickled relish using a slotted spoon to drain excess liquid.  Garnish with the tortilla ribbons.  5 servings.

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Lemon Cookie-Coconut Truffles

This week the first home improvement project was completed.  I now have a new floor in my future office, thanks to my son-in-law and husband.  No, it's not covered in any type of floor covering yet because we are not miracle workers, but it's solid.  We can walk on it without feeling like we will go crashing through to the ground.  And that's a great feeling.

And I almost forgot.

The men had help.  They had a little shadow following them around, begging to use their power tools and coppin' a tude when he wasn't allowed to screw in a screw by himself.

(FYI-We don't allow children to use power tools by themselves at our house until they are at least three and a half.  We are good people.)

"Geez, man. Step aside and let me show you how it's done."

He showed so much enthusiasm for manual labor that it wasn't long before his daddy handed him the putty knife and told him that this business of "only being two" just wasn't a good excuse anymore.

Free child labor is kinda awesome.

These lemon cookie truffles are kinda awesome too.  You've seen the Oreo version around the Internet, I'm sure, but I wanted to do something a little different.  I used lemon sandwich cookies, but I added in some coconut too.  Simple and refreshing.

 Here are my notes:

-I used 1/4 teaspoon coconut emulsion which I think is stronger than extract, so you could probably get away with 1/2 teaspoon if you are using regular extract.

-I very finely ground the cookies in a blender. (I do not have a food processor.)  I should have counted how many cookies I used, but I forgot.  I'm sorry about that. 

-I would probably store these in the refrigerator because of the cream cheese, but let them come to room temperature to eat.  Or eat them out of the fridge.  Whichever.

Lemon Cookie-Coconut Truffles

Printable Recipe

1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon coconut extract
3/4 cup sweetened, flaked coconut
The zest of 1 lemon
3 cups finely ground lemon sandwich cookies
Melted white almond bark for dipping

Beat the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and coconut extract in a large bowl until smooth and fluffy.  Stir in the flaked coconut, lemon zest, and ground cookies until well mixed.  Roll into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place on a baking sheet.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour.  Dip balls in melted almond bark, letting excess drip off.  Place on a wax paper lined baking sheet in fridge until coating hardens.  Store in refrigerator, but let come to room temperature to eat.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuna Cornbread Cakes with Lemon Aioli

So my husband and I went to Lowe's the other day to pick up some lumber, and we happened to walk down the mailbox aisle, and it suddenly hit us that what we really needed in our lives right now was a new mailbox and post because the one that came with the house just doesn't fit us.  And we discussed in depth (for an hour and a half) (in the mailbox aisle of Lowe's) the importance of having the right one because the first thing people see when they pull in the driveway is the mailbox.  It will set the tone for the whole property, as well as give passersby a glimpse into the kind of people who live here.  And didn't we want to make a good impression?  Even if we don't have the resources right now to make our fixer-upper into the home we envision, we could at least fake people out with a totally awesome mail box/post combo.  (I mean haven't you ever prejudged people by just looking at their mailbox?  Hand-painted mailbox?  Artsy-crafty people.  Owners probably have a wide variety of paint, stencils, and brushes in their arts and crafts closet.  Choo-choo train mailbox?  Eclectic and whimsical older couple.  See?  Mailbox profiling.  Right or wrong, I can't help myself.) 

In the end, we couldn't commit.  We just weren't feeling any of the mailbox set ups at Lowe's.  My husband actually googled mailbox ideas the next day and let me know that the possibilities are endless and we could do just about anything with a little creativity.  We could make one look like a John Deere tractor.

A-hem, no.

But I could see his wheels turning and I knew where this was headed.  I let him know quickly that if he even thought for one second that he was going to stick deer antlers on the front, or turkey tail feathers on the back, we would go back to using a post office box.  

And I am serious about that, mister.

So we are holding off on the mailbox until we can find the one that speaks to our souls. 

In other news, the spare bedroom/future office floor is completely torn out, so along with the chaos of moving and getting unpacked, we are under construction.  My son-in-law and husband are laying a brand new floor, and they've been working every night this week after their regular jobs.  This means that I have been cooking every night.  And these cornbread tuna cakes are my new favorite meal because everybody, everybody loves them.  Especially this little guy:

Yeah, his mother cut off all his curls.  It's hard for me to talk about, so let's move on.

So, yes, everyone loves these AND they are super easy AND they make use of leftover cornbread AND they are cheap.  Think of them as crab cakes for poor people.

I'm kidding!  We're not poor.  Sort of.

I have only very slightly adapted this excellent Southern Living recipe.  Here are my notes:

-Whoever thought to take tuna out of cans and put it into neat little foil packets with little to no smelly juice is beyond brilliant.  I love you.

-I love the aioli that goes with this, but regular tartar sauce would be good as well.  Or maybe some pesto.

-I always have leftover cornbread, so now I just stick it in the freezer and when I get enough, I make these.

-I have a really dark kitchen.  This is a problem when you take pictures of your food.  I'm going to have to do some experimenting, so bear with me. 

-I would spray your hands with nonstick cooking spray when forming the patties.

Tuna Cornbread Cakes with Lemon Aioli

2 tablespoons mayonnaise
3 green onions, chopped
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1 teaspoon Old Bay seasoning
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups cornbread crumbs
2 (5-ounce) aluminum foil pouches chunk tuna
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons vegetable oil 

Stir together mayonnaise and next 5 ingredients in a large bowl.

Fold cornbread crumbs and tuna chunks into mayonnaise mixture until well blended. Shape tuna mixture into 8 patties.

Melt butter with vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add tuna patties, and cook, in batches, 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until golden brown; drain on paper towels. Serve cakes with Lemon aioli.

Lemon Aioli

3/4 cup mayonnaise
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Stir together all ingredients.

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Monday, April 2, 2012

Peanut Butter Zabaglione over Grilled Bananas

We are half moved in.   

Only half.  :(  :(  :(  :(


Already HALF!!!!  :)  :)  :)  :) 

I'm trying to work on my attitude.

More specifically, I am trying to be less negative and sarcastic, and more positive and uplifting.  But can I tell you a little secret?


*Breathe*  Happy happy joy joy.  Rainbows.  Puppies.  Unicorns. *Exhale*

But I press on.  I press on towards that goal.  I will get there one day!!!

Here's something positive.  I finally cooked a real meal in my new kitchen.  In fact, I have cooked two real meals.  See?  See all the positive?

I won't mention that I have yet to move my dining room table.  Because that would be negative.  So I'll just keep that to myself.

But I also made this dessert!  In my new kitchen!

Zabaglione is an Italian custard made from a whole lot of egg yolks AND it starts with a Z so how cool is that?  How many Z things have you eaten lately, huh?  Probably not many.  That's a great reason to make it right there.

Here is a link to listen to how to pronounce it.  It's a tad tricky, but just think how you will impress everyone.  Plus, it's kind of fun to say even if you are just talking to yourself.

This zabaglione has peanut butter in it and is served over bananas that have been grilled.  I love this dessert.  It's kind of elegant, but it's kind of not.  It's like it's both.  Awesome.

 Here are my notes:

-I think this dessert is best served immediately.  The zabaglione gets very thick as it cools, so I like to keep it warm sitting over the water so it's easy to spoon over the bananas.

-You will need ripe but firm bananas.  I wouldn't use them if they are too soft.  They'll probably fall apart.

-It only takes a minute to grill the bananas if your grill pan is very hot.  And you don't have to coat the bananas heavily in brown sugar.  Just a little bit is enough to get a crunchy caramelized exterior.  This time I used dark brown sugar and they were lovely, just lovely.

Peanut Butter Zabaglione over Grilled Bananas

8 large egg yolks
1 cup packed light brown sugar, divided
1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ripe but firm bananas
2 tablespoons melted butter
6 tablespoons chopped honey-roasted peanuts

Whisk the egg yolks and 2/3 cup light brown sugar in a medium glass bowl until smooth.  Set the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water.  Whisk until it has thickened and the sugar dissolves, about 5-6 minutes. Turn off heat.  Whisk the peanut butter and vanilla into the egg mixture. Cover and leave the peanut butter mixture over the water to keep warm.

Peel bananas and cut in half lengthwise, then cut in half horizontally. Place 1/3 cup brown sugar into a pie plate.  Spray a grill pan with nonstick cooking spray and heat over high heat until very hot.  Brush bananas with melted butter, then carefully press each banana piece in the brown sugar until coated front and back, shaking off excess.  Grill bananas until golden brown and caramelized, flipping once.  Divide the bananas into 6 dessert bowls or glasses, then spoon the zabaglione over the top.  Sprinkle each with the peanuts.

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