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:


Lent 2013 Challenge Day 44: Good Friday Krabby Stuffed Potatoes

Outwardly, this seems luxurious for Good Friday: Seafood? Really? With white wine? When seen in the light of using stuff up in the fridge, though, hopefully the indulgence factor drops. I also based this on a family recipe that called for a can of condensed lobster bisque, but we’re aiming for from-scratch per the rules.

I had wanted to have some deep, meaningful reflections for the most solemn day of our faith year… but between choir practices and making sure Mr. M was equipped to manage a loud, squirmy preschooler through collective hours of Triduum doings… stuffed potatoes with salad it as good as it got. Humility can just show up in the form of a recipe without a reflection.

Wait. Did I just give a reflection in spite of the humility? Sheesh, you can’t even dress me up, much less take me out.

Krabby Stuffed Potatoes (prep time: 3 min + 15 minutes)

5 baking potatoes, scrubbed and baked in the slow cooker on low 6-12 hours
1 T butter
1 T flour
1 t salt
1/4 t black pepper
1/4 c white wine or vegetable stock
1 8oz can PLAIN tomato sauce
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 c shredded sharp cheese
1/2 lb “krab” pollock seafood flakes

As your potatoes are baking in your slow cooker, melt butter over medium heat. In a small bowl, whisk flour with salt and pepper. Sprinkle seasoned flour over butter, then whisk in wine/stock. Let that reduce over medium-high for about 3 minutes, then whisk in tomato sauce and cream. Once that’s all bubbly, fold in cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Fold in “krab” and heat through.

Cut potatoes open on their individual serving plates, then pour “krabby” stuffing inside.


Speaking of humility, it tasted way better than this picture looks.

And, folks, there you have it: a meatless, cheapo Lent for 5. I shall post our obligatory “I Learned Something Today” reflection sometime soon. Stay tuned, Mackerelsnapper fans. Erm, all three of you.

OH! Gluten-free friends? Corn starch for the flour should work.


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.

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.


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.

Fisheater’s Slowcooker Chowder

Another post-Eggplant Parm debacle slowcooker extravaganza, this is what our Little Flowers families frequently smell cooking if we’re hosting our Friday meeting at our house. 

1 16oz can of diced tomatoes, undrained
1 6oz can of minced clams, undrained
1 small onion, chopped
1/2 c chopped celery
1 8oz bottle of clam juice (or 1 c clam broth, if you happen to have that in the freezer)
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 6oz can “tiny” shrimp
2 T flour
2 T melted butter
1/3 c half-and-half

Mix together all ingredients expect the shrimp, flour, butter and half-and-half in a slow cooker and cook on low 7-8 hours or high 1-3 hours, adding a half cup of dry white wine if desired.  An hour before serving, stir in last four ingredients.  So easy, filling and comforting.

“I need a spag drop and a meddy shrimp on the fly!”

Ah, that title brings back memories–tasty ones. Back when I was a starving artist right out of college, I kept myself in rent by working at an Italian chain restaurant. The super-easy recipe below is based on one of my favorite menu items from those days. I haven’t been to that restaurant in so long that I don’t know if they even offer it any more.


Mediterranean Garlic Shrimp
1/2 lb frozen tiny shrimp
3 lemons
2 t butter
1 t olive oil
1 T minced garlic (more or less to taste)
1/2 lb spaghetti, cooked al dente
1/4 c grated parmesan cheese
1 T dried parsley
salt & pepper to taste

Thaw and drain shrimp. Slice one lemon horizontally in “wheels”, then juice the other two lemons, removing seeds. Melt butter and olive oil in a large skillet, then add garlic. Stirring quickly, add lemon juice and shrimp. Pour all over hot pasta and toss with lemon slices, cheese, parsley, salt and pepper. Let sit covered for five minutes before serving.

If you want to sneak in some vegetables, feel free to add broccoli, carrots, spinach, etc.

I’ve made this with rice instead of pasta to share at a work lunch for some friends with celiac disease, and it went over pretty well.


McBaja Fish Tacos


Okay, so it’s not exactly Rubio’s, but it’s pretty good.

Baja Taco Sauce
1/2 c buttermilk
1/2 c mayonnaise
1 T taco seasoning (or more to taste)

Shake all together until smooth and pour onto your fish tacos.

“But fish tacos?” you ask. “Where’s your recipe for them? Aren’t you going to lovingly hand-batter portions of cod or tilapia? Aren’t you going to press out some fresh tortillas on your tortilladora that we saw you using when you made sopes, so don’t try to lie and tell us that you don’t have one?”

Honey, not today I’m not. In fact, all I did was pick up the buttermilk and whip up the baja sauce. Mr. Mackerelsnapper warmed the store-bought tortillas, put out the shredded cheese, sliced up the lemons into wedges, shredded the cabbage, and, yes, baked the fish sticks while I was at a school fundraiser. Oh, yes, he also herded the children through their busy Saturday. What a guy.

Anyway, before you say “fish sticks and cabbage?!?!?” let me reassure you, it tastes WAY better than it sounds. In fact, if you’ve had a Rubio’s fish taco, the only real leap is the fish stick part (hence my saying it’s not Rubio’s, but it will do). So do not be troubled, my fellow fish-eaters. Give it a try. You, like our eldest child, may even like it.

The other upshot to using fish sticks, besides the convenience factor, is that even if the kids don’t like any other part of the meal, they’ll probably eat the fish sticks.

Gluten-free hints:  Corn tortillas and grilled fish should have you covered. 

Veganizing?  Skip the cheese and substitute beans or frijoles.  The real showcase for me here is the crunch of the cabbage, the creamyness of the baja sauce, and the tangy lemon juice squeezed over all.