Cool Caribbean Tilapia

Too hot to use the oven? Ran out of propane and propane accessories for the grill? Break out the microwave-safe dish for a dinner of…

Cool Caribbean Tilapia
(or, as Middle Dumpling likes to call it, “Fishy Colada”)


3 tilapia fillets
Salt & pepper to taste
1 can coconut milk
1/4 c chopped cilantro, divided
1/4 c lime juice, divided

Salt and pepper fish and place in a microwaveable dish. Pour coconut milk over all. Sprinkle with half of the cilantro and half of the lime juice. Microwave covered on high for 8 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Let rest five minutes before serving. Drain and sprinkle fish with remaining cilantro and lime juice.

Then after family rosary, enjoy one of these:


Lenten Challenge 2013 Day 23: The “ Just Got Real” Post

I was wondering when this would happen: when the food would run out, now that we no longer have the budget to stockpile. It happened today. Corn oil and olive oil: all gone. Cous cous: one serving left. Potatoes? Gone. Instant brown rice? Thin pasta that cooks quickly? Fresh vegetables? Gone, gone and gone. Well, we still had enough rice to make a decent dinner… but we didn’t have enough time.

Here’s what we did to stretch out what we have left:

  1. Placed our last three sweet potatoes, scrubbed and pierced, into the slow cooker. As I was making the rest of the dinner, scooped out the insides and let the preschooler mash in some butter and cinnamon sugar.
  2. Found two thin tilapia fillets in the freezer. Took them out to thaw this morning. Sprinkled them with salt, pepper and curry powder, then steamed these in the microwave over one cup of vegetable stock and about half a cup of mead we had in the fridge, waiting for a reason to be gone from this earthly plane. (6 min on high power)
  3. Took the remaining half of a bag of frozen broccoli and the handful of carrot sticks leftover from lunch. Chopped up the carrots and mixed them with the broccoli in a microwave-safe bowl. Took the remaining cup of vegetable stock, poured that into the nearly dead jar of minced garlic. Swished it all around and then poured it all on top of the veggies. Covered and microwaved on high for 8 minutes.
  4. Spread some freezer-burnt bread with butter and garlic powder and pan-toasted it.

Was it luxurious? Was it clever? Was it creative? No. Was it food? Yes. It was also an opportunity to talk to the kids about how many families in our own town have to eat like this all the time, and not by choice: no leftovers, and the grown-ups gave much of their tilapia to the kids.

I was able to get groceries after dinner, so that’s a relief (yay cous cous!), but it was a real eye-opening dinner.


Lent 2013 Challenge Day 10: Corn Pudding

Friday was completely breaking the rules because someone came over and shared crab cakes with us.  In the name of hospitality, we broke down and accepted them.  However, we did provide a side which, if given some tuna or “krab” and made in the slow cooker, *would* have worked just fine with the Lent 2013 Rules linked above.

This is our family’s recipe for corn pudding.  I used to have it stuck in my mind that this is a Thanksgiving Recipe, and never should it be made outside of Thanksgiving.  In recent years, though, we’ve become a little more adventurous.  I love having this with shellfish of any kind… especially crab cakes.

Corn Pudding (prep time:  5 minutes)

1 can creamed corn
1/2 c cracker crumbs
1 c milk
3 large eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
about 1 T butter

Mix all ingredients together and pour into greased slow cooker.  Dot top with butter.  Cook on low 4-5 hours.

What can you do with mac-n-cheese?

Indeed, what can you do with slow cooker mac-n-cheese?  Add some of that “krab” stuff that Subway calls “seafood.”

“It’s pollock!  It’s made out of pollock!”

Sorry.  Couldn’t help myself.

Then add a dash of seafood seasoning .  Then throw in some broccoli for fiber and vitamins before you plug in the slow cooker.  For heaven’s sake, don’t forget to press the power button, either.

All the Thanksgiving Sides!

I used to be a strict traditionalist about Thanksgiving. It wasn’t Thanksgiving unless we served:

  • Five Cup Salad
  • Green Bean Casserole
  • Corn Pudding
  • Cornbread sausage stuffing
  • and turkey (although that was merely an excuse to serve the above)

And every year we served these things, we would always say, “These things are so good. Why do we only eat them once a year?” Then we’d promise on the spot to make those things throughout the year without needing the excuse of Thanksgiving. Then, another Thanksgiving would roll around and we hadn’t made any of those things.

What’s more, having the same Thanksgiving meal every year got a bit tired over the years. Two years ago we started to “theme” our Thanksgivings, not only to motivate us to make those other dishes throughout the year, but also to narrow down the new things we were trying. Our first year, we had a Southern-style Thanksgiving, following a lot of Paula Deen recipes (love her and her butter!). One of those dishes we tried was her Oyster Dressing. Can you say, “Yum”? We had this for dinner last night as the main event.

How did we papify it? Can we make that be a word? PAPIFY (vt)–to turn an ordinary recipe, item, or event into something friendly to papists. Anyway, in order to papify, ahem, this recipe, we just used two 8oz jars of clam juice in place of the chicken stock. Easy-peasy. If we’d had veggie stock on hand, I would’ve used that, but our slow cooker has been so busy this week that it hasn’t had a chance to make any veggie stock. Anyway, the flesh meat-free version was just as good as the brothy kind. It was warm, filling, and made the whole house smell like Thanksgiving.



Who are you calling shrimp?

Last Friday’s dinner was one of the best in recent memory, and I’m not just saying that. I was able to make all of this in our kitchen while hosting ten Little Flowers and their moms for an All Saints Day party.

First I cleaned, trimmed and halved about a pound of Brussels sprouts. I placed them in a cast iron pan and tossed them with salt, pepper and olive oil. Then, frankly, I stashed the pan in the microwave for storage, because who wants Brussels sprouts stinking up the fridge?

Next I prepped that baked shrimp recipe that’s all over Pinterest but now Pinterest is saying the link is spammy. Boo. Anyway, it wasn’t my idea, but here’s what I did: spread one stick of room temperature butter in the bottom of a 9″x13″ pan; covered the butter with the slices three lemons; spread 2lbs thawed, peeled and cleaned shrimp on top of that (there was a keee-razy sale on frozen shrimp, cleaned, easy peel at the market a few weeks ago); then sprinkle a packet of dried Italian dressing mix on top of that. This I covered with aluminum foil and stashed in the fridge.

Next I entertained the girls and their moms. Thanks to our “craft mom” for the meeting, we made “spoon saints,” so easy even Second Shift of Kid could make one.

Then I preheated the oven to 350F. I put the sprouts in for 15 minutes. I then put the shrimp in the 350F oven with the Brussels sprouts and let them all bake for an additional 15 minutes. About ten minutes from showtime, I made up a batch of cous cous; had we had more time, I would’ve made pasta; had we need for gluten-free, I would’ve used rice. Throw the starch in with the shrimp and mix to coat. Serve all. The shrimp were so tender and flavorful. I am not a Brussels sprouts fan, but these were so good that I am looking for excuses to make them again.


Summer Fridays: I even cooked for one of them!

Anybody miss me? As I reach the fullness of one year of meatless Friday blogging, I am coming to the realization that I should have given myself off for the summer instead of the Easter season. That’s not as faith-related of an approach, but it is the more practical. This summer has been too hot and too busy with weekend travel to allow much time for trying new recipes. We’ve either had to eat on the road (pizza, Long John Silver’s) or grill (fishes, foiled again). I even got two vegetarian cookbooks out of the library and searched them for summer-friendly recipes; all were heavy on the tofu, which, you know, makes me not breathe.

At last, this past Friday, the schedule permitted for eating at home, and the garden has produced enough tomatoes and cucumbers to allow us to whip up the following:


Mediterranean Black Bean Salad

2 c dry couscous (plus 3 c water)
1 15.5oz can of black beans, undrained (use the equivalent of dried and cooked if you can tolerate them)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 large cucumber, chopped
1/2 feta cheese crumbles (optional)

1 c olive oil
1/2 c lemon juice
1 T minced garlic (or more to taste)
1 T dried oregano leaves
1 t dried parsley leaves
1 t Kosher salt
1/4 t black pepper
2 t Dijon mustard

Boil 3 c water and add dried couscous. Remove from heat, put a lid on the pot, and let sit while you prepare the remaining ingredients (at least five minutes). In a 3 qt container, combine beans, tomatoes and cucumbers. In a large salad shaker jar, combine dressing ingredients and shake well to combine. Pour dressing over the vegetable mixture. Fluff couscous with a fork , then fold into the dressed vegetables. Allow to chill at least two hours before serving. Serve with feta crumbles, if desired.

This was a great meal for making in the morning while the house was still relatively cool (and even then, boiling three cups of water doesn’t heat the kitchen all that much). My whole family liked it. It even got my husband to emote, which is saying something. This was made to feed six of us (BFF visiting for the weekend), and we still had plenty of leftovers for lunches and snacks. Next time we’re going to a potluck with vegetarians in attendance, I think I’ll bring this. Gluten-free peoples, I would make this with quinoa if I’d had better luck with quinoa of late (which is humbling, to be sure); brown rice would work, I bet.


Palm Sunday, Palm Shortening

We went to vigil Mass last night and came home to fry up some fish in some palm shortening. Hence the title. I actually like these better than Long John Silver’s, and that’s saying something, coming from someone who used to take pilgrimages to go to LJS.

Beer Battered Fish

1 lb of white-fleshed fish (haddock, cod, we used tilapia), cut into six portions
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour, divided
1 1/2 t salt, divided
1/2 t black pepper
1 t baking powder
1 12oz bottle of beer (we used a lager–THE lager, if you know what I mean, PA peeps)
1 egg, beaten
approximately 1 q oil for frying

Place oil in a heavy skillet with sides at least 3″ high and heat until a frying thermometer reads 375F. Meanwhile, in a shallow dish toss together 1 c flour, 1 t salt and the black pepper. Dredge fish portions in this flour mixture and set aside on a rack to dry a little while you complete the next step. In another bowl, mix together 1 1/4 c flour, 1/2 t salt, 1 t baking powder, then add in beer and egg, whisking together until smooth. Making sure the oil is at temperature, dip each fish portion in the beer batter, then gently slip it into the frying oil. Fry approximately 3-4 minutes/side or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Drain on paper towels before serving.

Are you out of malt vinegar? We were. Boo! In a very small container I shook together 2 T apple cider vinegar and 1 t HP Brown sauce, and it made a more than passable substitute. Due to lack of time, we just baked up tater tots while the fish was in process. All in all, not bad.


Campfire Salmon…but without the campfire

It was rainy, cold, and we were just about out of gas for the grill.  So this is what we did.

Campfire-less Salmon
2 lb salmon fillets, cut into two equal portions
1 T olive oil
2 T lemon juice
1 T dried tarragon
salt & pepper

Preheat your broiler to high, and place the rack at the second highest setting.  Place each salmon portion skin-side down on a large piece of heavy duty aluminum foil.  Rub salmon with oil and lemon juice, then sprinkle with tarragon, salt and pepper.  Wrap seasoned salmon loosely in the foil, and broil on high for 15-20 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with fork. 

You can also do this on the grill for closer to 10 minutes, or you can throw them on the coals of a campfire.  This is just how we made this salmon last Friday.