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”)

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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:

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Lent 2013 Challenge Day 41: On the Road Again

Yesterday our homeschool field trip club visited a museum in the city where Mr. M works.  Because of our schedule, we would be eating lunch at the museum, and all five of us would be eating dinner in the inevitable traffic jam on the way home.  Thus, I had to make all three meals for the day before leaving the house in the morning.

Breakfast was the usual:  yogurt or Instant Breakfast (depending on the kid), cereal, fresh fruit.

Lunch was hummus wraps with whole-wheat tortillas (hummus was homemade because it’s cheaper and I’m allergic to tahini; tortillas were store-bought because I can only do so much with my time).  We also brought along small Tupperware snack cups of apple sauce,  the last three juice boxes someone gave us, and a large tumbler of water for myself.

Dinner was spiral noodles and peas in cream cheese mushroom alfredo.  It was mushroom alfredo because, surprise, we were out of evaporated milk; I subbed a can of cream of mushroom soup from our emergency stash.  We gave the Tupperware microwave pasta cooker one.  last.  try. The results were passable, though they were a bit gummy and did take longer than the 9 minutes the recipe promised.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that our dinner was still hot by after 7 hours.  I made sure to preheat the Thermoses with boiling water for five minutes, then I heated a rice bag in the microwave (the kind you use for sore muscles) and placed that between all the Thermoses in a bag in our trunk.  So, the meal itself took fewer than 20 minutes to cook, but I may have gone over with the prepping of Thermoses.  Thermi?  Hm.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 40: It ain’t over ’til the fat lady makes chili.

“Mrs. Mackerelsnapper, didn’t you know that you’re not supposed to count Sundays in the 40 days of Lent?”

I did, actually.

“Then why are you calling today your 40th Day of Lent when Lent isn’t over yet.”

Oh, my dear reader, read more carefully. It’s the 40th day of the Lent 2013 Challenge. We are counting not days of Lent, but days of budgeting meatless meals for a family of five on $90/week. So, I am perfectly comfortable calling this Day 40. Tomorrow will be Day 41. Etcetera.

I do have a seedless English cucumber in the fridge that I had hoped to turn into tzatziki and make some “suddenly pita” along the lines of the recent delicious Suddenly Naan. However, here is it, Monday of Holy Week and we have had snow all day long. Pita and cold food just wasn’t gonna cut it. We need hot comfort food.

Slowcooker Vegan Chili (prep time: 5 minutes)

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1 15oz can of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28oz can of crushed tomatoes
1 c chopped celery
1 onion, finely diced
1/4 c red wine, beer or vegetable stock
2 T minced garlic
2 tsp chili powder (use something spicier for more kick, but we’re feeding kids here)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp dried parsley
2 bay leaves

Dump it all in your slow cooker, turn to low, then walk away for at least 4 hours, as many as 10. Remove bay leaves before serving with some of these lovelies:

Microwave Vegan Corn Muffins (prep time: 5 mintues; cook time: 10-12 minutes)

1 T ground flaxseed + 3 T water, whisked together and set aside
2/3 c flour
1/2 c cornmeal
2 T white sugar
1 T baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1/3 c rice milk
1 T oil

Mix flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl. Pour milk and oil into the bowl where you’ve premixed your flaxseed and water. Add wet to dry, stirring just until all ingredients are moistened. Spray a microwave-safe muffin pan (ours is silicone) with cooking spray. Fill each muffin cup half full and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from pan and cool on a rack IMMEDIATELY (or else you end up with gummy muffins, speaking from experience). Repeat until all batter is used.

This recipe usually makes about 18 muffins. If you only have one micr0-safe muffin pan, you’ll be wiping the cups clean with a dry cloth and re-spraying them between batches. If you’re anti-cooking spray, I don’t know if rubbing the cups with oil will work. Get back to me if it does?

This usually makes about 18 muffins. What we don’t eat I freeze and use with breakfasts.

 

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 36-37: Nothing to see here, people.

Really, there isn’t.  Late Thursday afternoon I had all the kids out for haircuts, so Mr. M made pizzas for us using the par-baked crusts spoken of in last weekend’s food prep post.

Last night, I had to use up the rest of that monster bag of bargain kale before it went south, so I made sauteed kale with mushrooms (bought on sale last week, also going south) and garlic.  I deglazed the pan with a bit of white wine, having forgotten to take out a container of vegetable stock to thaw.  Meanwhile I had angel hair cooking in our microwave pasta cooker… and I’m starting to give up on that thing.  I don’t know what I’m doing wrong, but all but the first two batches of pasta I’ve made in that thing have been just this side of inedible.  They’re gummy and mushy and gross.  So, we had food last night, and it was all by the book, but it wasn’t very tasty.  Alas.  There wasn’t enough Parmesan cheese in the world to save it.

Lent 2013 Challenge Day 35: Veggie Curry with Suddenly Naan

A very dear FB friend shared a recipe with me for a microwave curry made with potatoes.  I was all geared up to make that… and then… um, no potatoes left.  Alas.  I had to improvise. So, this is based on her recipe and is not an entirely original idea.  Also, I freely admit this one went over the 20 minute time limit. However, I am confident that with more careful planning, this could all be whipped out within 20.

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I’ll start with the Suddenly Naan, because the main dish is prepared during the dough’s resting time.

Suddenly Naan (total time: 20 minutes)

1 c whole wheat flour
1 ½ c unbleached bread flour
½ t baking soda
½ t baking powder
½ t sugar
½ t cumin
½ t garlic powder
½ c milk
½ c yogurt
1 T oil
1 beaten egg
Oil for frying

Combine dry ingredients and seasonings in a mixer bowl. In a separate bowl, combine milk, yogurt, oil and egg. Using dough hook, mix wet ingredients into dry and keep mixing until dough pulls away from pan. With floured hands, form dough into four equal balls and let rest, covered, for 10-45 minutes.

[Disclaimer: During this time is when I put together the rest of the meal. We may have gone over our 20 minutes by about 5… but for homemade naan, I regret nothing.]

After resting time, heat a heavy skillet with lid over medium-high heat. On a well-floured surface with a well-floured rolling pin, roll out each dough ball as thin as you can get it. Pour a splash of oil into the skillet. Place one dough disc in heated, oiled skillet and COVER IMMEDIATELY. Cook for 2-4 minutes per side, covering during cooking. Repeat with remaining discs. Keep warm and covered with a cloth until ready to serve.

Now, what’s this for?

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That, my friends, is a “silly band” around the one cup mark on a measuring cup.  First I poured in 1/2 c milk, then I told my  toddler to add scoops of yogurt until it all reached the green band.  Then we added the egg, oil, and mixed it together.  Just an idea on how even someone who can’t read yet can help in the kitchen.

Note: This really could have used some salt. I’ll add about 1 t next time fo sho. To veganize, I would like to try making this with veggie stock and vinegar for the milk/yogurt plus ground flaxseed with water for the egg.

Vegetable Curry* (prep time: 15 minutes)

3 carrots, chopped
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
2 c cauliflower florets, cut into small, bite-sized pieces
1 ½ c shredded cabbage
2 T fresh cilantro
1 T minced garlic (we used more than this, as usual)
1 t curry powder
½ t powdered ginger
½ t coriander powder
½ c vegetable stock
1 cup cooked rice

Combine all ingredients except rice in a microwave-safe bowl with cover. Microwave, covered, on high power for 10-12 minutes or until vegetables have reached desired tenderness. Stir in rice. This is particularly good with a dollop of plain yogurt.

*Feel free to substitute any other vegetables: I’d like to try zucchini, yellow squash, white potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.

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Lenten Challenge 2013 Day 23: The “..it 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.

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Lenten Challenge 2013 Day 21: Fiesta Stuffed Potatoes

Fiesta Stuffed Potatoes (morning prep time <5 minutes; evening prep time about 15 minutes)

6 baking potatoes, scrubbed and patted dry
1 15oz can refried beans
2 T sour cream
1 package of Ranch seasoning (optional)
1 t cumin
1 t garlic powder
1 t paprika
1/2 t chili powder (to taste)
1/2 t salt
pinch of black pepper
1 c shredded cheddar, divided

First thing in the morning, place baking potatoes in your slow cooker and cook on low 6-12 hours, depending on how long you need to be away (note: you can microwave or bake the potatoes, but the slow cooker kept the total prep time under 20 minutes). Fifteen minutes before serving, preheat your broiler, with rack at second highest position. Remove potatoes from slow cooker and slice in half lengthwise. To form potato “cups,” gently scoop out insides of potatoes, leaving about 1/4 inch of skin. Place potato “innards” in a large bowl and mash together with remaining ingredients, reserving 1/2 c of cheese. Fill potato skins with mashed filling. Place on a broiler-safe pan and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Broil 3-5 minutes or until heated through and cheese is melted.

Vegans can skip the cheese and sour cream, maybe adding a little vegan milk to make the mashing easier.

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