Five-Spice Tilapia

18 Jul


Maybe it’s becoming obvious by the number of Asian recipes I post on here, or maybe it needs to be stated, I love Asian-inspired foods. My fridge is stocked full of various Asian condiments from fish sauce to soy sauce to sesame oil to Sriracha to black bean paste and miscellaneous others I can’t think of off the top of my head. I try to keep these things on-hand at all times because they get used regularly!

One flavor that I find particularly distinctive is Chinese five-spice powder which is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns. As much as I enjoy its flavor, I do find that it can be sometimes a little overwhelming when added to recipes. But, of course, that is the point in this recipe, isn’t it? To temper the five-spice powder ever so slightly, a soy sauce and brown sugar mixture is added to the pan to make a delicious and slightly sweet glaze for the fish. Overall, this dish is fast and tasty. Definitely a repeat-worthy dish.

Now, I have a bit of a philosophical question for you. (Not really that serious.) Basically, I am just taking a poll to gauge people’s opinions. Does seafood (fish, shellfish, whatever) constitute “meatless”? You’ll notice that even though today is Monday, I did not tag this post as Meatless Monday because I am not sure how I feel on the subject. I have seen arguments for both sides, and I can agree with both points. I guess it all boils down to personal preference, but I am just curious as to what others who participate in Meatless Mondays designate as a “meatless meal”.

Five-Spice Tilapia

4 4-ounce tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Sprinkle both sides of tilapia fillets with five-spice powder. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tilapia and cook until the outer edges are opaque, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, turn the fish over, stir the soy mixture and pour into the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes more. Add scallions and remove from the heat. Serve the fish drizzled with the pan sauce.

Serves 4.
Source: Eating Well

CEiMB: Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu

14 Jul


As many of you know, my life has taken a huge turn over the last three months, and as I’ve waded through rather murky waters and climbed some rather steep hills, it’s my friends that have gotten me through. And included in that group is each member of the fantastic blogging group Craving Ellie in My Belly. Each week they cheer me on, and the sense of camaraderie in our intimate circle of chefs is something that means the world to me. Cooking and being in the kitchen has been like therapy to me, and to be able to share that with my CEiMBistas and all my readers has been a fantastic joy. Thank you all!

Now, before I get any mushier, let’s get to the recipe. This week was my turn to host, and I always feel such excitement to look through my books for a new recipe to try out. Unfortunately, with all my cookbooks in storage, I had to turn to an older Ellie Krieger book for inspiration this month. In “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” Ellie describes this stir fry dish as a calcium heavy hitter. She explains that it’s a great source of calcium even without the presence of dairy, and we all know how important it is to get enough calcium, especially for women.

I’ve mentioned before how supportive my parents have been both in life in general but also when it comes to my cooking. So far they have tried everything I’ve served with a good bit of enthusiasm. I was afraid the tofu might scare them off, but they were even open-minded about this meat-free dinner. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a hit. My mom said, “It just doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as the other dishes you normally make,” and my dad said, “Hmm. I don’t really like it, but I’ll eat it.” Ha! Overall, I just felt like it turned out a little bland. I had been most afraid about the tofu, but it ended up being the sauce, or lack thereof, that turned us all off from this dish. We did all agree, however, that with a little Sriracha hot sauce, it was MUCH better. I think I liked it the best of the three of us, but it’s still not something I would make again as written. I have conquered my fear of tofu though because that is one part of this dish I would definitely eat again.

Hopefully those of you who cooked along with me this week enjoyed this dish a bit more than my family did, and I hope the tofu didn’t scare anybody off too much :) I can’t wait to see what all the other CEiMBers made, and if you want to follow along, be sure to check out the blogroll or consider joining in the fun!

Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu
3 small bunches bok choy (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped scallion
1 pound cooked, marinated tofu cubes (recipe to follow or buy store-bought)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (which I completely forgot… oops!)

Cut 1 inch off the bottom of bok choy and wash the separated stalks. Chop the bok choy crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Heat the oil in a wok or large deep skillet over a medium flame. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the scallion and bok choy. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Stir in the tofu, soy sauce, 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced slightly and the tofu is warmed, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Marinated Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
cooking spray

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much of the water as possible. This should take about 3 paper towels and 2 minutes. Cut the tofu into cubes.

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, and canola oil. Add the tofu cubes and toss gently. Cover and let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place the tofu in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 4.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” p. 186 and 221

Meatless Monday: Spicy Asian Green Beans

11 Jul


Normally for Meatless Mondays, I prefer to post main dishes, not side dishes, but this week I’m saving my meatless main dish for Thursday, so you’ll have to be sure to check back for it :D Instead, I’ve got a bit of a cheater recipe for you because of course green beans are meatless. And more so, this dish is super easy to prepare. That’s why I call it a cheater.

My only complaint about this dish is that if you’re going to call something “spicy” right there in its name, it should be SPICY. This was more sweet than spicy, but of course I rectified that situation with my favorite condiment, a little Sriracha. I think this would be perfect for those who prefer things on the mild side, but if you have a “hot tooth” instead of a sweet tooth like me, consider upping the amount of crushed red pepper flakes.

Spicy Asian Green Beans
1 pound fresh green beans
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/4 teaspoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 garlic clove, minced

Steam green beans to desired doneness.

Meanwhile, in small saucepan, mix sauce ingredients until well blended. Heat to boiling. Reduce heat to low; simmer 1 to 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened and clear.

Stir sauce into cooked green beans to coat.

Serves 6.
From Pillsbury.

Enchilada Casserole

6 Jul


Between blogs, magazine subscriptions, e-newsletters, etc. I see a ton of recipes every day. I can’t put my finger on exactly what makes some stand out over others, but sometimes I just see a recipe and think “I have to make this right now.” At least, this was the case when I saw a recipe from Taste of Home for their “Enchilada Casser-Ole!” To me it looked and sounded like a combination of two of my favorite foods: tacos and lasagna. Of course, I had to try it!

I did make a few substitutions; some in order to “healthify” it a bit more, and some just for taste preferences (I was wary of using Italian dressing so I opted for tomato sauce instead). The end result was phenomenal and definitely something I’ll make again. It was also delicious leftover which made a great lunch for the rest of the week – always an added bonus.

Enchilada Casserole
1 pound ground chicken
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 15-ounce can diced salsa style tomatoes
1 cup dry black beans, cooked
8 ounces no salt added tomato sauce
2 tablespoons taco seasoning
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
6 whole wheat tortillas
3/4 cup fat free sour cream
4 ounces reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded

In a large skillet, cook ground meat and onion over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in the tomatoes, cooked beans, tomato sauce, taco seasoning and cumin. Place three tortillas in a 2-qt. baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer with half of the meat mixture, sour cream and cheese. Repeat layers.

Cover and bake at 400° for 25 minutes. Uncover; bake 5-10 minutes longer or until heated through. Let stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serves 8.
Adapted from Taste of Home

Individual Lemon Berry Trifles

1 Jul


Have you noticed a loosely-based theme here this week? Barbecue chicken, picnic-friendly wraps, and a quick and easy side dish? It was all to gear you up for today’s very obviously Independence Day dessert! What is more patriotic than a red white and blue dessert? Well, lots of things, obviously, but for the sake of this blog, we’ll say nothing :D And what screams summer more than fresh berries? Not much! So here we have it, the perfect patriotic, summery dessert.

And wouldn’t it just crack you up to know that these came about from a major mess up in the kitchen on my part? Well, they did. You see, I did something I usually avoid. I tried baking. *dun, dun, dun!* Not only that, I tried low fat baking. I have heard from multiple sources that a can of diet soda plus a box of cake mix will make a fluffy, tasty, low calorie, low fat dessert. Supposedly you just can’t even tell the difference between that cake and a cake with oil and eggs in it. I did say supposedly.

Taste-wise, there was no difference. I used a can of diet cream soda and a box of lemon cake mix, and it tasted heavenly. The problem is that the muffins just did not want to come out of their pan. At all. They were just crumbling into bits. It was a huge mess. Since I had planned to serve the little mini muffins covered with berries anyway, I improvised and these mini trifles were born! And you know what, I think they turned out even better than what I had been expecting. The lesson I learned is that when life hands you a crumbly piece of lemon cake, turn it into a mini berry trifle :D

Individual Lemon Berry Trifles
1 box lemon cake mix
1 12-ounce can diet cream soda
6 cups mixed berries, cleaned and sliced
12 tablespoons light whipped cream
12 fresh mint leaves

Combine lemon cake mix and diet soda. Mix well. Pour batter into a mini muffin tin coated with cooking spray. Bake as directed on box.

Once cakes are baked and cooled, crumble one into the bottom of a small glass or mini trifle dish. Top with approximately 1/4 cup berries. Repeat each layer. Continue this process for all 12 cups.

Right before serving, add a one tablespoon dollop of whipped cream to each glass, and garnish with mint leaves.

Makes 12 trifles.

CEiMB: Short-Cut Greens

30 Jun


I’m going to go ahead and admit right off the bat that this post is a total cheat. I have posted about this recipe before, on my old blog, but since I have made the recipe several times since then, I thought I would post it again. Ellie Krieger originally calls for collard greens in this recipe, and I’ve also used kale, but this time I used turnip greens. I’ve made them with bacon, with Canadian bacon, and with ham from the deli. I’ve even made them meatless. It’s an incredibly versatile recipe that can be adapted to whichever ingredients you have on hand or prefer. Basically, it’s a delicious way to get a healthy dose of green vegetables and therefore definitely worth repeating.

To see the Chicken Pepian that the rest of the CEiMBistas are cooking this week, head over to Yoshimi Vs. Motherhood and check out Bri’s delicious blog. I wish I could have cooked along with the group this week because that chicken looks awesome, but unfortunately without a food processor or high quality blender, I didn’t see that working out too well here. I plan on digging out my food processor this weekend though so hopefully I can make that dish very soon!

Short-Cut Greens
1 pound greens of your choice
2 ounces Canadian bacon, ham, or bacon, chopped into small pieces
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tablespoon cider vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 cup no salt added broth, chicken or vegetable
salt and pepper to taste

You can find cleaned and greens in a bag in your produce department which are ready to be cooked, or you can buy it whole in bunches. If you buy it in a bunch you will need to remove the stems and center ribs from the greens and discard. Then, cut the leaves into 1/2-inch strips.

Preheat a large skillet and cook the ham or bacon for 2-5 minutes, until crispy. Remove the meat from the pan and set aside. This step may be omitted if you are making vegetarian greens.

Add the oil and onion to the hot pan and cook until onions have softened, about 2 minutes. Add the greens and stir in the vinegar, maple syrup, red pepper flakes, and broth. Bring to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes.

Add the chopped bacon or ham to the pan, if using, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4 servings, approximately 1/2 cup each
From Ellie Krieger’s “The Food You Crave: Luscious Recipes for a Healthy Life,” p. 256
Nutrition Information based on using turnip greens, 2 ounces smoked ham, and chicken broth:

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken

29 Jun


If you follow many other recipe blogs, you have more than likely seen this recipe before because it is one of Cooking Light’s most popular chicken recipes. So you might ask why I am reposting it, but on the off chance that you haven’t seen it, I want to pass it along because it really is good enough to warrant a repost. Trust me when I say that it’s on all the blogs for a reason. And it seems like a great time to post a simple and delicious barbecue recipe right before a holiday known for its fantastic cookouts, right?

Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken
2 teaspoons garlic powder
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
6 tablespoons honey
2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

Preheat grill.

Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl. Add chicken to bowl; toss to coat. Place chicken on hot grill coated with cooking spray. Grill chicken 5 minutes on each side.

Combine honey and vinegar in a small bowl, stirring well. Brush 1/4 cup honey mixture on chicken. Grill 1 minute. Turn chicken over and brush chicken with remaining honey mixture. Grill 1 additional minute or until chicken is done.

6 servings.
Source: Cooking Light

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