Saturday, March 26, 2016

Refreshing Fish Tacos


Tacos are awesome. They’re tasty, messy, and super easy to make. The problem lies in the fact that when people think “taco” they usually think of a heavy, spicy mix of beef and beans.

But it doesn’t have to be that way.

Tacos don’t have to be just beans and meat.

Tacos don’t have to be heavy.

Take this recipe. Instead of beef, I use much cheaper frozen white fish which I marinate in a refreshing mix of lime juice, zest, herbs and spices. Instead of a heavy bean base, I use a little salsa mixed with a dab of mayo, cream cheese, and Greek Yogurt. Throw ‘em into a grilled tortilla, top with salsa and you’re good to go!


Here’s How You Do It
Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 5- 10 Minutes
Marinating time: 2 Hours
Cook Time: 15 minutes

Makes 6 Tacos

Ingredients

FISH

3 White Fish Fillets – Fresh or Frozen, Thawed

¼ Cup Lime Juice

½ Teaspoon Lime Zest

1 Tablespoon of Chopped Fresh Cilantro - OR - 1 Teaspoon of Dried Oregano
(for those of you who think Cilantro tastes like soap)

½ Teaspoon of Chili Powder

½ Teaspoon of Hot Sauce – Optional

Salt and Pepper – To Taste


SAUCE

3 Tablespoons of Salsa – Homemade or Store-bought – Mango Salsa is ideal, but use what you like

1 Tablespoon of Mayonnaise

1 Tablespoon of Softened Cream Cheese

2 Tablespoons of Plain Greek Yogurt

½ Teaspoon of Capers

¼ Teaspoon of Hot Sauce - Optional


6 Flour Tortillas

Homemade or Store-Bought Salsa


Equipment

1 Regular Bowl

1 Zip Top Bag or Plastic Container big enough for the fish fillets

2 Regular Spoons

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Frying Pan or Grill Pan

2 Plates

Cooking Spray

Dump the lime juice, hot sauce, chili powder, salt, pepper, and cilantro or oregano in a plastic container or zip top bag and mix it all together with a spoon to combine.

Cut the fish fillets in half and dump them in the container or bag. Move it all around to evenly coat the fish and stick it in the fridge for at least 2 hours or overnight.

In a regular bowl, combine the 3 tablespoons of salsa, the cream cheese, Greek Yogurt, capers, hot sauce (if using) and mayo. Set aside.

Heat your frying pan or grill pan on high and toast the tortillas (no greasing of the pan necessary) until they have a couple of golden brown spots or grill marks.

Move the tortillas to a plate and spray your pan with cooking spray.

Cook the fish on both sides until it’s white and opaque and flakes easily with a fork.

Move the fish to another plate and start assembling your tacos.

Put a spoonful of sauce on each tortilla and spread it around with the back of your spoon.

Cut the fish pieces into thirds and evenly divide them between the tortillas.

Top with your favorite salsa and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.










Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Oven Barbecued Chicken


The best advice I ever got about cooking chicken is from my mother who said:

“Flavor it strong.”

In other words, flavor chicken as strongly as possible. The reason for this is water; chicken contains a TON of it which dulls the flavor of any marinade, spice rub, or sauce you cook it in. A sauce that’s too weak is going to taste dull and flat when the chicken is cooked, so when choosing flavors for your bird, go strong.

This chicken dish is a perfect example.

There is something inherently exciting about perfectly prepared meat slathered in a killer barbeque sauce and this is no exception. This barbeque sauce is strong and will hold its own against even the most water logged bird.


Here’s How You Do It
Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep  time: 5-10 Minutes
Marinating time: 2 to 4 Hours
Cook Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

1 Whole Chicken Cut Up – You can get a cut up chicken in the grocery store or even get a butcher to cut it up for you. If you want to save money, buy the chicken whole and cut it up yourself. There are tons of tutorials on how to do it on Youtube.

1 Medium Onion – Cut in half, Peeled and Sliced

1 Teaspoon of Olive Oil

1 Cup of Ketchup

½ Cup of Soy Sauce

3 Tablespoons of Mustard Powder – This is made of ground mustard seeds and can generally be found among the spices in grocery and dollar stores.

2 Teaspoons of Worcestshire Sauce – Optional – It gives the marinade and sauce an additional boost of umami, the legendary fifth flavor, but it’s not necessary.

2 Teaspoons of Vinegar – white vinegar is ideal.

6 Tablespoons of Fresh Grated Ginger

6 Tablespoons of Fresh Grated or Minced Garlic

6 Tablespoons of Honey

Hot Sauce – To Taste – Optional

Equipment

1 Large Zip Top Baggie

1 Knife and Cutting Board

1 Baking Pan

1 Medium Bowl

1 Regular Spoon

1 Basting Brush

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Pair of Tongs

In a bowl combine the Ketchup, Soya Sauce, Ginger, Garlic, Honey, Worcestshire Sauce, Mustard Powder, and Hot Sauce (if using) and mix it all together with a spoon.

Put the chicken in the zip top bag and pour half the sauce over it.

Zip up the bag and squish everything around to evenly distribute the sauce.

Stick the bag in the fridge along with the bowl of remaining sauce and walk away for at least 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 400 oF.

Put the Olive Oil in the pan and rub it around with clean hands to lightly grease it.

Lay the onion slices in the bottom of the pan.

Place the chicken on top.

Brush the chicken with fresh sauce and stick the chicken in the oven.

Lower the heat to 375 oF and walk away for 30 minutes.

Turn the chicken pieces over and brush with a generous helping of sauce.

Bake for another 30 minutes.

Take the pan out of the oven and pour any remaining sauce over the meat.

Let it cool for 10 minutes and serve!


-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.







Sunday, March 20, 2016

Chocolate Peanut Butter Bread Pudding


Buy a chocolate Danish roll at the grocery store or some chocolate chip muffins and discovered you didn’t like or are already sick of them? Why not make a bread pudding?

Bread pudding is crazy easy to make. It’s basically a deconstructed batch of French toast where you chop up the bread or cake, toss it with an egg and milk batter, add a few flavorings and bake it in the oven until it’s no longer runny. It works great as a dessert or a luxurious brunch item. This particular bread pudding combines two of my favorite flavors, chocolate and peanut butter, but you could use fruit flavors like apple and cinnamon or berries and lemon or lime zest instead.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 5-10 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes

Ingredients

3 Cups of Coarsely Chopped Chocolate Chip Muffins or Chocolate Danish

2 Large Eggs

¼ Cup + 2 Tablespoons of Smooth Peanut Butter, divided

1 Teaspoon of Vanilla Extract

½ Teaspoon of Ground Cinnamon

2 Tablespoons of Maple Syrup, Honey, Corn Syrup or Other Liquid Sweetener

2 Tablespoons of Bittersweet Chocolate Chips

1 Cup of Milk – Cow’s, Goat, Rice, Almond, or Soy


Equipment

1 Medium Baking Dish

Cooking Spray

1 Mixing Bowl

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Whisk

1 Knife and Cutting Board


Preheat your oven to 350 0F.

Spray the baking dish with cooking spray.

In a bowl whisk the eggs and peanut butter together.

Add the milk, cinnamon, liquid sweetener, and vanilla and whisk it all together to combine.

Add the chopped muffins or Danish and mix everything together with a wooden spoon until everything is evenly moistened.

Pour it all into the baking pan.

Bake for 35 minutes or until the middle is no liquidy and doesn’t jiggle when you gently shake the pan.

Top with chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, which will melt into the pudding and make it extra luscious.

Cool on a trivet on the counter for 5 minutes so it’s not napalm hot when eaten.

Serve and enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.
















Thursday, March 17, 2016

Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll-Ups


Butternut Squash Lasagna Roll

Lasagna is the ultimate comfort food, but if you’re pre-diabetic lasagna, which is loaded with refined carbs and high fat cheese, can pose a serious problem.

Luckily, there are ways around this.

Take this recipe.

I saw something like this in an issue of Better Homes and Gardens’ Eat to Beat Diabetes publication. As I am incapable of leaving a recipe as is, I tinkered with it and came up with something that better suits my tastes.

This recipe swaps out half the ricotta or cottage cheese in traditional lasagna filling for frozen pureed butternut squash which has the same creamy texture without the fat. It also gives the filling a nutritional boost as it contains loads of vitamins A and C and is a good source of dietary fiber. While the lasagna noodles in this dish are rolled up, you could simply layer noodles and filling, top everything with sauce and cheese and bake it as you would traditional lasagna. The advantage of the roll-ups is portion control. One or two rolls will satisfy most people.

Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy to Medium
Prep time: 15-20 Minutes
Cook Time: 35 Minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

1 Box of Regular Lasagna Noodles

2 or 3 Cups of Tomato or Meat Sauce – Homemade, Jarred, or Canned is fine but if you’re using the latter, be mindful of sodium and sugar in them

1 1/2 Cups of Low Fat Mozzarella – Grated

1 Teaspoon of Jarred Pesto

1 Tomato – Sliced

1 Package of Frozen Chopped Spinach – Thawed and Drained

1 Package of Frozen Pureed Butternut Squash – Thawed – You can find this with the frozen vegetables but if your grocery store doesn’t have it, try the Asian markets. They often carry it too.

1 Container of 1 % or 2 % Fat Cottage Cheese

1 or 2 Cloves of Garlic – Minced or Grated

1 Large Egg

1 ½ Teaspoons of Salt - divided

1 Teaspoon of Pepper

1 Tablespoon of Olive Oil

Equipment

1 Large Pot

Tongs

1 Large Plate

1 Large Baking Dish

Measuring Cups and Spoons

Cheese Grater

Spoons

1 Mixing Bowl

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Fill your pot with water, add a teaspoon of salt and put it on the stove.

Bring the water to a boil and dump in your Lasagna Noodles.

Put the teaspoon of Olive Oil in the water. This will keep it from bubbling over.

Boil the noodles until they’re soft but not falling apart, stirring them around every once in a while to keep them from sticking together.

Put the noodles on a plate to cool, preheat the oven to 350 oF and prep your filling.

In your mixing bowl, dump the spinach, cottage cheese, butternut squash, half a cup of the mozzarella, pesto, garlic, egg, and ½ a teaspoon of salt and pepper and stir it all with a wooden spoon.

Spread the filling over the length of a lasagna noodle, roll it up, and put it in your baking dish. The little fat in the cheese will be all the grease the pan needs.

Repeat until the pan is full.

Put the tomato slices in between each roll and top everything with your sauce of choice.  

Top with the remaining mozzarella cheese.

Bake for 35 minutes to set the filling, melt the cheese, and heat everything through. If you want the cheese extra brown, you can turn the oven on broil and leave the rolls in the over for an extra 5 or 10 minutes.

Cool it on a trivet for 10 minutes and serve!

Enjoy!

-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.








Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Cheesy Potato Kugel


Kugel – pronounced “kugl” – is a sweet or savory casserole associated with Ashkenazi Jewish cuisine. It’s typically served on the Sabbath and High Holidays and is a great “fix-it-and forget-it” dish that anyone can make. Potato kugel is basically an eggy potato latke batter with a few alterations. Unlike latkes which are fried and tend to be greasy and full of cholesterol, kugel batter is poured into a lightly greased baking dish and baked until the eggs are set. It makes a GREAT breakfast on its own and a tasty lunch when paired with a light salad. It’s cheap, easy, and foolproof to make!

Inspired by my friend, the founder of the Jews for Bacon Facebook group, I paired this kugel with some pancetta (a kind of Italian-style bacon) I crisped on a baking sheet in the oven for 10 minutes, but you can leave it out if you're vegetarian, kosher, or halal. 


Here’s How You Do It

Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 5 - 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients

4 Cups Grated Potatoes – Any variety will do

6 Large Eggs

½ Teaspoon of Onion Powder

½ Teaspoon of Garlic Powder

½ Teaspoon of Oregano

¼ Cup of Grated Cheese – Use whatever you like

Salt and Pepper – To Taste

½ Cup of Milk – Optional – Milk does add bulk to the eggs, but it’s not necessary

Equipment

1 Mixing Bowl

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Box Grater

Measuring Cups and Spoons

1 Baking Dish

Cooking Spray or Butter or Margarine for greasing the pan

Preheat the oven to 350 oF.

Grease your baking dish.

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Pour the batter into the pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool on a trivet on the counter for 10 minutes and serve!

Enjoy!


-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.







Monday, March 7, 2016

Speedy Tex Mex Rice Bowl


Tex Mex is the style of cuisine bearing characteristics of both Mexican and Southern US cuisine. It often gets a bum rap as being inauthentic Mexican food but that doesn’t stop people from buying frozen burritos and taco making kits promoted as authentic Tex-Mex. Though southwestern cuisine seems to consist of a complex formula of spices and sauces, it’s not as difficult to recreate as you think.

Take this speedy dinner.

At first glance, this is just a quick rice bowl. Dig your spoon into it and you’ll discover the deliciousness of the southwest.

It’s simple, quick, easy, and guaranteed to wow friends and family who won’t believe you recreated these flavors in such a short period of time.

Please note that while this recipe calls for a long list of spices that you probably already have, feel free to use any store-bought Tex-Mex spice mix but remember that they’re LOADED with salt.

Here’s How You Do It
Difficulty Level: Easy
Prep time: 5 - 10 Minutes
Cook Time: 30 Minutes

Serves 2 or More

Ingredients

½ Pound Lean or Medium Ground Beef, Pork, or Veal

½ Teaspoon Salt or To Taste

½ Teaspoon of Pepper

1 Teaspoon of Chili Powder

1 Teaspoon of Garlic Powder

1 Teaspoon of Onion Powder

½ Teaspoon of Paprika

½ Teaspoon of Cumin

½ Teaspoon of Crushed Dried Chilies OR to Taste

½ Teaspoon of Oregano

1 Cup of White Rice – Basmati or Jasmine Rice works well.

1/2 Cup of your favorite jarred or Homemade Salsa – Want to make your own from scratch? Click here for my recipe.

½ Cup of Grated Cheddar Cheese – I prefer old sharp cheddar, but use what you like. You can buy cheese already grated in store, but if you have the time, remember that buying a block of cheese and grating it yourself is WAY cheaper.

½ a Cup of Greek Yogurt or Sour Cream

1 Cup of Clean, Finely Chopped Lettuce – Romaine or Iceberg Lettuce works best.

Cooking Spray

Equipment

Bowls

1 Frying Pan

1 Wooden Spoon

1 Knife and Cutting Board

Measuring Spoons

Measuring Cups

Prep your rice as you would to cook on the stove or in a rice cooker and add 2 Tablespoons of salsa to the cooking liquid. Give it a quick stir and cook your rice.

While the rice is cooking, dump your meat in a pan coated with a little cooking spray and cook on high heat, breaking the meat up with a wooden spoon and cooking it until it’s no longer pink.

If you’re minding your cholesterol, feel free to pour off some of the fat that came off of the meat while cooking.

Turn off the heat and mix your spices and salt and pepper in a regular bowl. Add some water and stir the spices around with a wooden or regular spoon. This will help to evenly distribute them among the meat.

Turn the heat back on high and pour in the spice-and water mix.

Stir everything around and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until most of the water has evaporated.

Turn off the heat.

When the rice is ready start assembling the bowls.

Put a nice helping of rice in the bottom of the bowl and top with a tablespoon or 2 of grated cheese.

Top the cheese with a tablespoon of salsa.

Top that with a tablespoon or 3 of the meat mixture.

Add a heaping tablespoon of yogurt or sour cream and top with the lettuce.


Serve and Enjoy!


-Samantha R. Gold

Questions? Comments? Requests?

Bring it on!

I can be reached at:  for.the.culinarily.challenged@gmail.com

Trolls will be unceremoniously deleted and dismissed.