Fish Tacos

Tacos are the ultimate weeknight meal.  They come together quickly, and require very little actual cooking.  The protein, vegetables and starch are all accounted for, so there is no need for extra side dishes.  And everyone likes them.  I have never met someone who doesn’t like tacos.*

These fish tacos take the standard beef-lettuce-salsa-cheese formula and lighten it up, while also adding flavor and spice.  It may seem a bit fancy, but still come together in about 30 minutes.  Fish filets are ideal for weeknights, since they cook up quickly, and pre-shredded coleslaw is a great time saver.   Perfect for your next Taco Tuesday.  Or Wednesday. Or any day, really.

*I now expect at least a dozen taco hating comments.

Fish Tacos                          

  • 1 TB chile powder
  • 1 TB cumin
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp salt, plus a bit more for coleslaw
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (give or take based on your spiciness preference
  • 2 TB olive oil, divided           
  • 2 filets white fish, about 12 oz total weight – I have used both halibut and mahi mahi with success
  • ½  a head of cabbage, thinly sliced, or ½ a bag of pre-shredded coleslaw
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • Handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1/3 cup low fat sour cream
  • 1 chipotle pepper, minced
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Corn tortillas, warmed
  • Queso fresco and hot sauce, for serving

Preheat oven to 400.

Mix first 6 ingredients (through cayenne) with 1 TB of olive oil to form a paste.  Rub the spice paste all over the fish, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator to marinate for a few minutes.

While fish marinates, make the coleslaw.  Place the cabbage, green onions and cilantro in a large bowl.  In a small bowl, mix the sour cream, chipotle, lime juice, sugar and a pinch of salt.  Taste for spiciness and seasoning, add more chipotle or salt if needed.  Combine sour cream mixture with vegetables.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Heat the remaining olive oil in an oven proof sauté pan over medium high heat.  Add fish filets; allow to cook about 3 minutes.  Flip and put in oven to finish cooking. Cook time will depend on the thickness of the filets; usually about 5-8 minutes. While fish cooks, heat tortillas in a dry pan or in the microwave. 

Remove fish when done, and using a fork, flake the fish into bite size pieces in the sauté pan to coat in seasoning. 

Assemble the tacos by placing fish, coleslaw, queso fresco and hot sauce on a corn tortilla.

 

 

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Pepperoni Chicken with Zucchini “Noodles”

Have I talked about carbs?  I probably have.  What girl hasn’t had the internal carbs monologue…are these the “good” carbs or the “bad” carbs? What’s the difference between whole wheat and whole grain? What’s gluten and why is it terrible?  Does wine have carbs? Is butter a carb? 

Honestly, I can’t really answer your questions, except to say if wine has carbs, they are always good, and butter is most definitely a carb.  I am firmly in the “all things in moderation” camp of eating, but sometimes everyone needs a break from heavy, starchy meals.  These zucchini “noodles” are a great summertime pasta substitute, and are so very easy to make.  The secret is using a julienne peeler.  Mine is Swissmar, and I got it in a three pack from Williams Sonoma.  It makes the process simple…just grate a whole zucchini, skin and all, into a bowl and top it with your favorite pasta sauce! 

If you prefer to cook the zucchini, add the “noodles” to a hot saute pan with a bit of olive oil and cook for a few minutes, until slightly softened.  They are delicious both ways, and a really satisfying, yet light, substitute for pasta.  I topped mine with the always awesome Pepperoni Chicken, which is one of my husband’s favorite recipes. 

Pepperoni Chicken

adapted from Cooking Light

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 cloves minced fresh garlic
  • ½  white onion, chopped
  • 2-3 oz pepperoni, coarsely chopped (I usually use turkey pepperoni)
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼  teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 ½  cups marinara sauce
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil , plus more for sprinkling
  • 1 1/2 pounds chicken cutlets (or you can cut regular chicken breasts in half)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat broiler to high.

Heat one teaspoon olive oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic and pepperoni.  Cook 2-3 minutes until onion begins to soften, stirring frequently.  Add oregano and red pepper flake and stir to combine. Add marinara sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in basil.

Heat remaining olive oil a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle chicken with salt pepper, and add to skillet. Cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned, turning after 3 minutes. Spoon sauce over chicken; sprinkle evenly with cheese. Broil 2 minutes or until cheese melts.  Remove from oven, sprinkle with basil.  Serve immediately with pasta or zucchini noodles!

Pork Bahn Mi Burgers

This is a superb burger recipe.  It may seem odd to post a burger recipe at the tail end of summer, but I promise this one is different and will cure the dull beef burger blues endless summer cookouts may have caused.  It’s worth keeping your grill out for a few more weeks.   I would stand outside and grill these in January.  And by I, of course I mean my husband. 

This recipe is from Bon Appetit, and orginally started as a meatball sandwich.  I made the original once, and it was really great, but making the meatballs into burgers made the whole process a bit quicker, and easier to eat.  There are three components, so it is not the quickest recipe, but not complicated and well worth the effort.  This is the reigning burger of choice at our house these days!

Pork Bahn Mi Burgers

Adapted from Bon Appetit

Hot Chili Mayo

  • 2/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)

Burgers

  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh basil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fish sauce (such as nam pla or nuoc nam)
  • 1 tablespoon hot chili sauce (such as sriracha)
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Pickled Veggies

  • 2 cups coarsely grated carrots
  • 2 cups coarsely grated radishes
  • 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon coarse kosher salt

Burger Assembly

  • 1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
  • 4 hamburger buns
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño chiles (optional)
  • 16 large fresh cilantro sprigs (optional)

Toss the pickled veggie ingredients in a bowl and let sit at room temperature for one hour, tossing occasionally.

Mix hot chili mayo ingredients together, cover and refrigerate.  Can be made up to one day in advance.

If you would like, finely chop the basil, garlic and green onions in a food processor to ensure small pieces, or finely chop by hand.  Mix all burger ingredients gently in a bowl.  Form 4 patties, place on a plate and refrigerate while the grill heats.  Refrigerating for a few minutes will help the burgers retain their shape while cooking. 

Brush each burger with sesame oil, and place on grill, oil side down.  Brush the other side with oil.  Grill until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes per side. 

To assemble the burgers, place a patty on the bun with mayo, pickled veggies, jalapenos and cilantro.

Lemony Shrimp Pasta

This is a great example of a really simple, 5 ingredient recipe that I read and immediately said, “duh! why didn’t I think of that?” The lemon, thyme, shrimp combination works SO well.  I often forget to look outside the tomato sauce box when it comes to pasta, and this was a lovely change of pace.  It immediately became a weeknight staple.

The original recipe is from Cooking Light magazine, but I have adapted it quite a bit, adding several things.   You will use several pots and pans, but the whole recipe comes together quickly and painlessly.  Make sure to time the sauteing of the shrimp appropriately so it doesn’t overcook!

Lemony Shrimp Pasta

  • 1lb peeled and deveined shrimp, tails removed
  • 1TB olive oil
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 3 TB butter
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 2 TB fresh chopped thyme
  • 1 TB other chopped fresh herbs, such as parsley or basil
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • Uncooked linguine or spaghetti.  I usually do about half a box for 3 servings
  • ½ c shredded Parmesan cheese
  • Salt and pepper

If needed, clean, peel and rinse shrimp.  Pat dry.  Mix in a bowl with ½ the olive oil, salt and lots of fresh black pepper.  Set in the fridge while you prepare the other ingredients.

Zest and juice lemon into a small bowl.  Chop the shallot, thyme and other herbs.

Boil water and cook pasta.  Drain, reserving 1 cup of starchy pasta water.

Melt butter in a small sauce pan.  Add shallot, cook about 2 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and zest, thyme, other herbs and red pepper.  Keep the mixture warm over low heat.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large sauté pan.  Make sure the pan is big enough to add the pasta! Cook shrimp until done, 4-5 minutes.

Pour about half the pasta water in to the hot pan with the shrimp and whisk to deglaze the pan.  Add pasta to the shrimp pan, and then pour in butter lemon mixture.  Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Check for seasoning, add salt and pepper as needed.  Serve warm!

 

 

Homemade Pizza Night

My husband lived in Italy for 7 years, so he has some VERY specific thoughts on pizza.  While not above Papa Johns on a rainy night, he would much prefer something a bit more…authentic.  It’s definitely a family thing; his parents have a stone pizza oven that was imported from Italy in their backyard!

For us, making pizza is something we have been trying to perfect.  Luckily, we just got married and are now the proud owners of both a pizza stone and a pizza peel, which have upped our game tremendously.  My other secret weeknight pizza weapon is Pizza Yeast, which allows you to skip the dough rising and make fresh from the oven pizza on Wednesday night!

I am including the recipe for the pizza yeast crust, and a quick no cook pizza sauce recipe that was born out of laziness, but works really well!  We usually top with fresh mozzarella, onions, prosciutto, and a sprinkle of basil after it comes out of the oven.  Just a suggestion!

Basic Pizza Dough

  • 1-3/4 to 2-1/4 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 envelope Fleischmann’s Pizza Crust Yeast
  • 1-1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 2/3 cup very warm water
  • 3 TB oil

Combine 1 cup flour, undissolved yeast, sugar and salt in a large bowl.  Add very warm water and oil; mix until well blended, about 1 minute. Gradually add enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.  Dough should form a ball and will be slightly sticky. Knead on a floured surface, adding additional flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 4 minutes.

Pat dough with floured hands to fill greased pizza pan or baking sheet.  OR roll dough on a floured counter to 12-inch circle; place in greased pizza pan or baking sheet.  Form a rim by pinching the edge of the dough.

Spread with pizza sauce.  Top with desired toppings.

Bake on lowest oven rack for 12 to 15 minutes, until cheese is bubbly and crust is browned.

No Cook Spicy Pizza Sauce

  • 1 can diced, fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1-2 chipotle peppers in adobo (1-2 peppers NOT cans)
  • 2-3 TB Olive Oil
  • Fresh basil
  • Salt and pepper

Drain the tomatoes well.  Combine tomatoes, peppers, and basil in a food processor and puree until close to smooth.  Add olive oil and blend again.  Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper to taste.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

Now that the party recipes have been exhausted, I am kicking off a mini-series entitled “Mitchell Family Favorites,” recipes we go back to over and over.  This salad is a weeknight staple in our house, something easy to pull together, quick to cook, light and satisfying.  Oh, and spicy.  Pretty darn spicy.

There are three components to this meal:  the chicken, the dressing and the salad.  For the salad, I will just share the ingredients I use…the quantities depend on how many people you are serving!  The dressing and chicken will both keep well for a few days, so I recommend making a whole serving, and using for lunches later in the week.

Buffalo Chicken Salad

For the chicken:

  • 1 package chicken tenderloins
  • ¾ cup Frank’s Red Hot hot sauce
  • 2 TB butter, melted
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of onion powder

For the Fake Ranch dressing:

  • 2 TB light sour cream
  • 1 TB light mayonnaise
  • ¼ c low fat buttermilk
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TB chopped chives
  • Salt and pepper

For the salad:

  • Arugula
  • Shredded carrots
  • Chopped scallions
  • Chopped cucumbers
  • Feta cheese (or blue, if you prefer)

Whisk together hot sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce and onion powder.  Combine chicken tenders and hot sauce mixture in a zip top bag and marinate for 20 minutes to 2 hours.

While the chicken marinates, combine all dressing ingredients and whisk until smooth.  If you prefer a thinner consistency, add additional buttermilk (or regular milk.)  Refrigerate until use.

Heat a large skillet on the stove.  Cook chicken for about 5 minutes per side, or until cooked through.  You can also start the cooking process on the stove, and finish the chicken under your broiler, which caramelizes the sauce a bit more.  Either works!

While chicken cooks, combine all salad ingredients.  To serve, toss salad with Fake Ranch, and top with chicken.