Last weekend, I stopped at my neighborhood Smart & Final for just a few things, and decided to pick up some frozen Cod. I typically prefer my fish to be fresh, but when in a pinch (or I’m being lazy), I’ll grab some frozen. I wanted something light, but flavorful so perused a bunch of recipes for both fish and different types of sauces. I like this Cod dish as it has some crunch on the top while remaining healthy since it’s seared quickly then baked. As for the yogurt sauce, I find it be a nice complement to the fish in terms of flavor points and adding some additional protein. I suggest making the sauce first (directions further down) so it’s ready when the fish is done.
2 (6-ounce) cod fillets
Panko bread crumbs
1 egg, for egg wash
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
2 tbsp. grapeseed oil
1/4 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp. butter
1 sprig fresh thyme (or 1/8 tsp. dried thyme)
Preheat oven to 400° F. Place the fillets on a sheet tray or rack so the fish can release its natural juices.
Place the bread crumbs into a shallow dish.
In a separate shallow dish, add 1 beaten egg. Season both sides of the fillet with salt and pepper. Once seasoned, brush the belly side of the cod with the egg. Dip the egg side into the panko bread crumbs.
In a cast iron skillet, add grapeseed oil. Before placing fish into pan, make sure the skillet is very hot. Sear only 1 side of the fish (the side with the bread crumbs). Once the 1 side is seared, place the skillet in the oven for about 4-6 minutes until cooked. *If you don’t have a cast iron skillet, use a regular skillet, then transfer to a greased baking dish, and increase the time to about 10-12 minutes.
Once the fish is cooked, flip it over and add the lemon juice, butter and sprig of thyme. Let melt and baste the fish with the juice.
Remove from pan, place onto plate and top with sauce.
Chive Basil Yogurt Sauce
1/8-1/4 tsp. garlic powder, depending on your garlic preference
A pinch of kosher salt
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
The finely grated zest and juice of a 1/2 small lemon
4 tsp. of dried parsley
A small fistful (about 3 tbsp.) of fresh basil, stems removed, chopped
A thumb-thick bundle of fresh chives, chopped (or approx. 1 tbsp. dried)
1/2 cup thick natural yogurt; use full-fat Greek yogurt if calories aren’t an issue
1 tbsp. good-quality light mayonnaise, such as Hellman’s (optional)
Salt and milled black pepper
Stir mustard, garlic, salt, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small mixing bowl, mix/mush well.
Add parsley, then very finely chop the basil and chives, and add them to the bowl.
Stir in the yogurt and mayonnaise (if using), and season to taste with salt and black pepper.
A couple of weeks ago, a coworker friend of mine brought me in some of his homemade lasagna and it was incredibly delicious. It took me a few meals to finish it as I like to eat pasta sparingly; however, when it was gone, it left me yearning for more, so I decided to make some and improvise with the ingredients I had on hand, which included pennette pasta. If you’re not familiar with pennette, they’re simply a shorter and thinner version of penne pasta, and have ends that are cut at an angle. I threw this together without doing a lot of measuring (and made a small serving), but am providing my best guesstimate on the amounts I used. To be honest, I was a little nervous how it would turn out, but much to my delight, it was truly scrumptious.
3/4 container (around 11 oz.) of ricotta cheese
1/2 cup 2% mozzarella, shredded
1 tsp. fresh basil, finely chopped
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/8 tsp. garlic
1/8 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 – 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups pennette pasta
2-3 cups prepared marinara or pasta sauce
1/4 cup shredded parmesan
1/4 cup Mexican Style Four Cheese Blend
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and add pasta, cook for 8 minutes (they won’t be completely done but they finish cooking in the oven).
Drain and set aside.
Mix together ricotta and egg, then add mozzarella, parmesan, basil, oregano, garlic and salt.
Spray a small baking dish with Pam (I used a small 5″ x 7″).
Put a layer of marinara in the bottom of your pan, sprinkle some red pepper flakes and then 1/3 of the noodles (lay them flat), spread the ricotta cheese mixture on top of the noodles, put a layer of sauce on top of the cheese, add pepper flakes, top with 1/2 of noodles, repeat process again, and finish with remaining sauce and the Mexican 4 Cheese (there should be 3 layers).
Cover with foil and bake for 45 minutes. Uncover for the last 5 minutes of cooking.
Let it sit for 5-10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Lately, I’ve been seeing a lot of recipes being shared on Facebook, most of which are healthy and look really delicious. I try to make a point of “liking” or sharing the post so I can go back to it, or I simply copy it down. Last week, one of my friends shared one for spaghetti squash, and sadly, I didn’t do either and don’t recall which friend it was. I figured I could wing it, but looked up a few recipes to find out about cooking times in both the oven and microwave. I ended up cooking mine in the oven, mostly because my microwave is small and cooking a whole spaghetti squash in there can lead to spaghetti squash wallpaper if it explodes. Needless to say, the end result was incredible, and honestly, tasted better than I expected. If you like healthy, and/or love pasta, but hate the carbs, look no further! If you’re short on time or just want to simplify this recipe , you can use your favorite spaghetti or marinara sauce instead of making this one, but I recommend you trying mine out 🙂 I added lean ground Italian turkey to mine; however, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, obviously you can omit it. Feel free to add some veggies, too, if you so desire.
*UPDATE* – shortly after posting this, I stumbled across a spaghetti squash recipe that looked amazing, so I quickly took the remaining half squash from this recipe and added the two additional ingredients, which I’ll post at the bottom (with a photo, of course)!
1 medium uncooked spaghetti squash, about 2 lbs.
1 (14.5 oz.) can stewed tomatoes, chopped
1 (14.5 oz.) can whole Roma tomatoes, chopped (discard juice)
1/2 lb. lean ground Italian turkey meat (I used Jennie O), optional
1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil plus extra for baking dish
1 cup onion, finely chopped
1-2 tsp. garlic, minced
1 tsp. fennel seeds, ground in spice mill or using mortar & pestle
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
Salt and pepper, to taste and for sprinkling baking dish
Parmesan cheese, go big and just use a little for the top
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Cut squash in half lengthwise using a sharp knife. This can be somewhat difficult, so be careful. If need be, start at one end, cutting half way through then turn it around and cut through the other half. Once the squash is cut in half, scoop out the seeds.
Drizzle a little olive oil in a large baking dish, then sprinkle with some salt & pepper. Place squash cut sides down in dish and prick skin with a fork all over.
Cook for 45 minutes.
While the squash is cooking, heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic and crushed fennel, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.
Add ground turkey, and continue to sauté until cooked through, breaking into small pieces, about 10 minutes.
Stir in tomatoes (including juice from the can of stewed tomatoes), basil and Italian seasoning; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring often, 5 minutes or until desired consistency.
Remove squash from oven and carefully turn over with an oven mit (they’ll be hot!). Rake the stringy squash pulp from the skin with a fork, separating it into strands that look like spaghetti. You can either serve the squash in its skin or move the strands to a plate.
Spoon sauce over squash and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.
Additional Recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti Squash with Marinara
The additional items you’ll need are 1 cup of cottage cheese (I prefer low fat) and 1 cup of shredded cheese. I used a light Mexican four-blend, but the recipe I saw calls for Mozzarella. To make this, after cooking the squash and scraping the strings with a fork, add 1/2 cup cottage cheese to each half, top with marinara, and then add 1/2 cup cheese to each one. Put on a baking sheet and place under the broiler for approximately 3-5 minutes. I added some fresh chopped oregano and basil, and as you can see, some of it burned, so I ended up finishing it in the microwave until the cheese got melted and bubbly.
I woke up yesterday, yearning to make a meatless/veggie lasagna. I have no idea why this particular dish was pinpointed as the object of my affection, but knew I HAD to make it. I perused some of my saved recipes, and came across a few that looked delicious. So, I took one, altered it quite a bit and came up with this one, which I thought was amazingly scrumptious. I tried to be conscientious of the exact measurements I used… hopefully, that’s the case 😉
2 tbsp. butter or olive oil
9 no-boil lasagna noodles
1/2 onion, chopped
1/2 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 (14.5 oz.) can vegetable broth
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, chopped
2 tbsp. fresh basil, chopped
1 (14 oz.) can marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped
I came across this recipe a while ago, and bookmarked it to try another time. I was at the store over the weekend, and saw a bag of pistachios, which immediately brought my memory back to this dish. However, I highly recommend you buy pistachios already shelled as it took me a bit of time to crack open each pistachio to get a cup worth’s of nuts. And that way… you won’t get disappointed when you come across those shells that are not cracked at all and can’t be opened. Another recommendation I have is to butterfly/split/cut the chicken breasts in half, or you could use chicken tenders. I find the chicken is more tender when they’re a little thinner, and quite frankly, I just prefer them that way. In a nutshell (no pun intended), I found the combination of the herb mustard mixture combined with the pistachio-panko crust was simply divine! Oh, and when paired with the mustard cream sauce… WOW!!!
1 cup shelled raw pistachios (about 4 ounces)
1/2 cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 tbsp. light mayonnaise
1 tbsp. honey
2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (or 2 tsp. dried)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. chopped fresh rosemary (or 1/2 tsp. dried)
4 skinless boneless chicken breast halves, butterflied
Let me start by saying, I think everything is better with a little sauce. Okay, not “everything”, but anything you can pair up with a tasty one. When I saw this recipe, it was a no-brainer that I had to try it since I love mustard. The reviews on it were incredible, but I don’t always believe the hype. However, they were all true! I can tell you, that I could eat this straight from the spoon (and possibly have… oops). I made this to go with pistachio-crusted chicken, but it would be great with fish, pasta, and even as a sandwich spread. Maybe I’m just biased because of my affection for mustard, but I think this might be one of the best sauces I’ve made.
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup shallots, chopped
1 cup heavy whipping cream (can use Half & Half, or milk)
2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil (or 1 tsp. dried)
1 tbsp. chopped fresh dill (or 1 tsp. dried)
Boil white wine and shallots in heavy medium saucepan over high heat until liquid evaporates, about 4 minutes.
Reduce heat to medium-high. Add whipping cream and simmer until reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 2 minutes.
Add Dijon mustard, basil and dill. Simmer 2 minutes to blend flavors.
In my recent polenta post, I mentioned that I came across a BBQ chicken recipe from Rachael Ray which I intended on making soon, and decided to try it out last night. I made a few modifications like I normally do, and all I can say is… WOW! The sauce is truly delectable and really makes the dish. I took some to work today, and finished every single last bite! So if you like chicken, and want a delicious new way to make it, I highly suggest you try this recipe.
4 bone-in chicken thigh and leg or chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp. poultry seasoning
2 tsp. grill seasoning
3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 thick cut slices pancetta or bacon, chopped (optional)
Season the chicken liberally with salt and pepper, poultry seasoning, and grill seasoning.
Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a medium skillet and brown the chicken a few minutes on each side to put some of its flavor and drippings into the pan, then transfer to oven and roast 10 minutes more.
Meanwhile, if using pancetta or bacon, add to pan, and cook until crisp. Remove from pan, crumble and set aside.
If not using the meat, put one more tablespoon olive oil into pan, and add onions, garlic and rosemary. Cook 5 minutes, then add the vinegar, sugar, Worcestershire, tomato sauce and 1/2 cup chicken stock or broth.
Reduce heat to low and let sauce simmer 5 minutes more.
Remove chicken from oven, place in barbecue sauce, add bacon or pancetta (if using) and cook for an additional 5 minutes.
Fill shallow bowls with polenta, top with chicken, spoon extra sauce over chicken and garnish with some torn basil leaves.
If you saw the post on my trip and culinary adventures in NY, then you’ll recognize the name of this dish. If not, I’ll tell you that I had a wonderful meal at a restaurant in SoHo… Slow Cooked Salmon with Corn Pudding and Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette, which was mouth-watering delicious. I decided to make this mostly because I was reminiscing of that dish, and wanted to try making it at home. You might think this recipe is like a traditional salad dressing because of its title, but that simply is not the case. The cherry tomatoes are cut in half, and remain in tact which makes it a nice accompaniment to serve with fish, steak, and chicken, but would also be great in a salad.
1 medium shallot, sliced
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 tbsp. nonpareil capers (the tiny ones), drained
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half lengthwise
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/3 cup canola oil
1 tbsp. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
In a medium bowl, stir together the shallot, vinegar, capers, tomatoes, and 1/2 teaspoon salt.
Let that stand about 10 minutes, then stir in the olive and canola oil, parsley, basil, cumin, and pepper.
In a large skillet over medium heat, add the vinaigrette to the pan, and bring just to a simmer, stirring with a wooden spoon.
Hope everyone had a happy and safe 4th of July holiday! I went to an amazing party with out-of-this-world food, and zoned in on a goat cheese appetizer that was insanely delicious… which I made a significant dent in since I wholeheartedly love the combination of goat cheese, sun-dried tomatoes and balsamic vinegar!!! Fortunately, I had the pleasure of meeting the lovely woman, Alicia, who brought the dish and quite ironically, after I attempted to recreate it last night, she contacted me on here. So I now have THE recipe for this incredible appetizer, which she kindly shared with me. She’s also a blogger, so check out her site by clicking on her name or going to my Blogs I Like page, and clicking on What Manhattan Beach Needs Is link.
8-10 oz. goat cheese log
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
4 tbsp. honey
5 whole sun-dried tomatoes, diced
3 fresh basil leaves, chopped finely
Roasted pine nuts
Place goat cheese in a bowl, set aside.
In a separate bowl, add balsamic and honey, and warm in microwave just enough to stir.
Add sun-dried tomatoes and basil to balsamic mixture.
Pour over cheese and top with pine nuts.
Marinate for about an hour. *
Serve with crackers (I like Trader Joe’s sesame thins) or thinly sliced bread.
* If you marinate in the fridge, make sure to let stand at room temperature for approximately 30 minutes.
Heart whole-wheat angel hair pasta cooks in just four minutes and makes this Asian-flavored dish much more satisfying than the standard rice noodle due to its filling whole grains and fiber. And, basil isn’t just for Italian food-paired with mint, it takes on an exotic spiciness.
16 oz extra-firm water-packed tofu (not silken)
12 oz whole-wheat angel hair pasta
4 tsp fresh ginger, minced
4 tsp raw honey
2 tsp dark sesame oil
1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp fresh basil leaves, shredded
2 tbsp fresh spearmint, shredded
1/2 cup red bell pepper
Drain tofu, then wrap in a kitchen towel. Put on a cutting board, place weight on top, such as a heavy pot, and let drain for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain well.
Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.
In a medium bowl, mix ginger, honey, oil, soy sauce, basil and spearmint. Add tofu & pepper, tossing to coat.
Add pasta to bowl with tofu mixture and toss gently to coat pasta with dressing.
Serve at room temperature or cover & chill in refrigerator for up to 2 days.