Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Parmesan Crusted Tilapia with Tomato-Basil Cream Sauce

After reading Michael Pollan's book Food Rules, I've been trying to live by a few of the rules that he lists to live a healthier lifestyle. The basic story of the book is to "eat food, mostly plants, not too much." My main focus has been on the first point which is "eat food" - seems easy, right? Well what he really means is eat real food, not processed crap. I've tried to cut out foods that my ten year old cousin couldn't read, or that my great grandma wouldn't recognize as food. That cuts out my favorite dental school snack - cheetos - boo! Surprisingly, I haven't missed the cheesy powder covered nuggets at all.

Pollan's second point, "mostly plants," has been a little harder in my household. One of his rules is that eating what stands on one (or no) leg is better than eating what stands on two legs , which is better than eating what stands on four legs. What he means is that you should eat mainly vegetables and fish, followed by poultry, and rarely enjoy beef and pork. What I've been trying to do is limit our meals that include pork and beef to one night a week, so I've had to get a little creative with seafood meals and vegetarian meals that will keep my carnivore husband happy. Tonight's meal not only satisfied him, but impressed the one who taught him his carnivore ways - my father-in-law. If a fish recipe keeps these major meat eaters happy, it's a winner in my book.


•3 tablespoons olive oil
•2 cloves garlic, minced
•10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
•1/2 cup cream
•small handful of fresh basil leaves
•2 tilapia fillets
•kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
•1/4 cup flour
•1 egg, beaten
•1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
•1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
•1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic


1.Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Add cherry tomatoes and cook for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium low and add cream. Let simmer for 15 minutes. Sauce will turn slightly pink and coat the back of the spoon. (Note: It is okay if the sauce boils slightly.)

2.Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a skillet large enough to fit both fillets.

3.Rinse and pat dry the tilapia fillets. Season both sides with kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper.

4.Combine Parmesan, panko and granulated garlic.

5.Dredge the seasoned tilapia fillets in the seasoned flour. Shake off excess. Dip in egg. Press into Parmesan/panko mixture.

6.Place in heated skillet and cook 3-4 minutes per side. Fish will be golden brown and will flake easily when done.

7.When you remove the fish, chiffonnade the basil (Note: To do this, simply roll up a few basil leaves and gently chop). Stir the basil into the sauce. Season with salt and pepper if needed.

8.Lay fish on a serving platter and spoon sauce over the top. Serve.

Source: Life's Ambrosia

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fontina Mac & Cheese

Since taking my little blogging break, I've been saving new recipes to make once I started up again. Not that I haven't been cooking at all, but for some reason I felt bad every time that I made a new recipe and didn't share it with you. So I've been cooking my old favorites for the last couple months, and I couldn't wait to break out this new recipe.

Most macaroni and cheese recipes (at least good ones) require you to make a bechamel sauce, which is really time consuming. When I saw this recipe on Annie's Eats, I was so excited that this was such a simple recipe that could be made on any weeknight (even the most busy ones). It did not disappoint. This is a super creamy, nutty mac & cheese, not resembling the orange powdery kind in any way.


1 lb. small or medium pasta shells
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions just until 1-2 minutes shy of al dente.

Meanwhile, dice 4 tablespoons of the butter and place in a large mixing bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan or the microwave. Cover to keep warm.

Once the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl with the butter and toss to coat well. Stir in the warm cream and the Fontina until the cheese starts to melt. Mix in salt to taste, and add the nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix in the panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan. Toss with a fork to coat evenly with the butter. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta in the baking dish.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Source: Annie's Eats, originally from The Complete Italian Vegetarian Cookbook by Jack Bishop

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Panko Mozzerella Sticks

I'm back!! Phillip & I are finally settled into our new home, and I'm feeling comfortable at work - so I thought that it was time to start the blog back up. Thanks for sticking with me for the last few months.

If you've ever been out to a chain restaurant with me, you know that I cannot resist mozzarella sticks. I don't even care if they are good, I will order them every time I spot them on the menu. If you know me really well, you will know what I like to dip them in (I only do this around people that I'm comfortable with) - cheese sauce! Gross, right?! Wrong. It's awesome.

I have never been able to make them at home without total failure, but as I said, I can't resist. This recipe, from The Pioneer Woman (courtesy of Tasty Kitchen) was awesome. I was able to get them all fried up without too many of them busting open and spilling cheesy goodness into the frying pan (that is always my problem with other recipes). The secret? Freezing the cheesesticks before you fry them - genius!


•16 pieces String Cheese, Removed From Wrappers
•½ cups All-purpose Flour
•2 whole Eggs
•3 Tablespoons Milk
•2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs (I Used Kroger Brand)
•1 Tablespoon Dried Parsley Flakes
•Canola Oil, For Frying
•Marinara Sauce, For Dipping


Slice string cheese pieces in half, for a total of 32 pieces.

Place flour in a small bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk.

In another separate bowl, combine panko bread crumbs with parsley flakes.

TO ASSEMBLE: One by one, roll mozzarella sticks in flour, then dunk in egg/milk mixture, then place in panko crumbs. Use your hand to sweep crumbs all over the mozzarella stick. Gently remove and place on a tray or cookie sheet. Repeat until all mozzarella sticks are coated.

***Place tray in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes to flash freeze.***

TO COOK: Heat 1 1/2 inches canola oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When hot, add mozzarella sticks 8 at a time. Watch closely and turn over to evenly brown, cooking less than 2 minutes. Do not allow cheese to bubble and leak.

Remove to a paper towel-lined plate.

Serve immediately with warm marinara sauce.

Source: The Pioneer Woman via Tasty Kitchen