Crispy Fish Tacos from EmmaEats

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Our guest for today is fellow Savvy Storyteller Liz from EmmaEats . . . and Katie too! Liz is a busy mom of two, so she knows first hand that time is at a premium. Somehow she manages to create delicious recipes that are big on taste but don’t require tons of prep. Liz and I have something in common; we both have kids with nut allergies. Her collection of recipes is nut-free, allowing me to just follow along without worrying about substitutions. Follow Liz on Food Gawker or Taste Spotting for meal inspiration or her blog, EmmaEats, for good food for busy families.

These Crispy Fish Tacos, adapted from LCBO’s Fried Fish Sandwiches, are perfect for an alfresco summer family dinner.

Crispy Fish Tacos
(serves 4)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground white pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 4-5 tilapia fillets, cut in half into two strips (~1 lb)
  • salt and black pepper
  • juice of 2 limes
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • tortillas (optional, to serve)
  • Zesty Avocado Dip (optional, to serve – recipe follows)
  • chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers (to serve)
  • sour cream or Greek yogurt (optional, to serve)
  • Chipotle sauce (optional, to serve)
In a small bowl, stir together the garlic, oregano, paprika, cumin, coriander, white pepper and cayenne. Salt and pepper the tilapia and rub the seasoning mix over all sides of each strip. Drizzle with lime juice and let marinate for 15-30 minutes.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400F.
Setup a workstation with egg in one platter and panko breadcrumbs in another.
Dredge each tilapia piece through the egg first and then through the breadcrumbs. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet.
When all of the pieces are breaded, bake in the preheated oven for ~20-30 minutes, flipping once halfway through baking. The fish should be flaky and opaque with a crispy and golden exterior.
Serve in warmed tortillas, topped with Zesty Avocado Dip, chopped tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers with a dollop of sour cream or drizzled with chipotle sauce.
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Zesty Avocado Dip
(serves 4)
  • 2 avocados
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper, to taste
Halve the avocados and roughly mash the flesh with the garlic and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with tortilla chips or over Crispy Fish Tacos.

Dinner, Solved!

Today, Colleen de Wit of I Heart Cooking, shares her favourite cooking tips and two easy-peasy recipes (so easy in fact, that I can make them!).

Don’t be scared. I’m not here to lecture you on mapping out your dinner plans in a spreadsheet for the next 2 weeks. Dinnertime doesn’t need to be complicated, and can even be * gasp * yummy and exciting. Here are my top dinner tips along with two of my favourite recipes.

Menu planning doesn’t need to be rigid. If you’re not a “list person”, make a general plan for the week. Buy groceries for 5 meals, but don’t have them planned for any particular day. Or maybe you’ll just decide what type of meat you’ll have all week (3 fish, 1 chicken, 1 pork) but you’re not sure which recipe you’ll use till 5pm that day. Or maybe you’re only going to plan 1 meal a week, on your family’s busiest day. Plan your meals in the way that suits your household.

Cook dinner at a time that works best for you. There’s no rule that says that dinner must be made in one continuous motion starting at 5pm. I have been known to chop vegetables at 9am, because that’s when my son is less likely to be attached to my leg. If you have a moment in the day (or evening), try to do some prep on your dinner. Every little bit helps.

Write down your meals on the calendar. That way, if you’re stuck for a dinner idea, scan through the past few weeks to get a bit of inspiration. (or if you forget what you’ve planned to eat for dinner, you can easily find the answer)

Use helpful kitchen appliances. Rice cookers and vegetable steamers are great gadgets that can save you time and energy. Although they usually take a bit longer to cook food than the traditional stovetop method, you don’t have to hover over the stove and most have an automatic shut-off feature. No more burned rice or soggy veggies!

Spanish Style Mish-Mash

Give this recipe a chance to prove its deliciousness. I was skeptical at first, but once I made this it has become one of my favourites. Don’t forget the parsley!

½  pkg of frozen, uncooked medium sized shrimp (get the peeled kind to make your life easier)

2 hot Italian or chorizo sausages

1 onion

1 tomato, coarsely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

½ tsp hot chili flakes (or 1 jalapeno finely chopped if you so desire)

¼ c sliced pimento stuffed green olives (I omit these when I make this recipe)

1 ½ tsp oregano

1 tsp paprika

10 oz can chicken broth

1 cup couscous

¼ c chopped fresh Italian (flat leaf) parsley

Place shrimp in a colander and rinse under cold water until thawed. Pat dry with a paper towel. Thickly slice sausage. Oil a large saucepan and set over medium heat. Add sausage to pan and stir often until lightly browned (about 4-5 minutes). Coarsely chop onion and add to sausages. Stir frequently until onion begins to soften, about 3 minutes.

While the onion and sausages are cooking, chop the tomato, garlic, olives and jalapeno (if using). Add to pan along with the oregano and paprika. Stir occasionally until tomato starts to break down—about 2 minutes. Add broth and shrimp, scraping up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Bring to a boil. As soon as shrimp turns pink, stir in couscous. Cover and remove from heat. Let stand until liquid is absorbed, about 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and sprinkle with parsley.

Tex Mex Sloppy Joes

Not your usual sloppy joes. Great flavour and slightly fancier with the addition of crusty bread and avocadoes.

1 lb ground beef

1 small onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 700mL jar of pasta sauce, preferably spicy (like spicy red pepper)

1 cup salsa

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp tabasco (optional)

grated cheese

sour cream

avocado

tomato

shredded lettuce

Crusty bread (French bread, ciabatta, etc)

Lightly coat a large saucepan with oil and set over medium heat. Crumble beef into pan. Sprinkle with onion and garlic. Using a fork, break up and stir meat until its no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Drain off excess liquid.

Add sauce, salsa, oregano, cumin and tabasco. Stirring often, bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and gently simmer about 10 minutes. Spoon sauce over slices of crusty bread. Top with cheese, sour cream, sliced avocado and tomatoes.

*Colleen won the Home Ec award in 8th grade and never looked back. She is the owner of I Heart Cooking, where her aim is to boost your confidence and abilities in the kitchen. Check out www.iheartcooking.ca or www.facebook.com/iheartcooking.ca

Easy-peasy Cheaty recipes

I will just admit it – I am a horrible cook.  I hate grocery shopping, planning meals, prepping meals, cooking meals and really, if truth be told, I don’t really like eating meals all that much either.

I am not a foodie.  I am married to a foodie and I have foodie children, but I am fairly certain that I could live off ten foods.  Actually, five.

Because I have children, that obviously need to be fed, I learned, not to cook but to be creative.  If you have some easy cooking tips – please share.  My children will thank you.

Cheating in the Kitchen with Chicken

Monday for dinner

  1. Go to the grocery store and buy 2 already roasted chickens
  2. Serve one of the chickens for dinner with boiled corn on the cob (children to shuck), something green (like frozen peas) and broiled buns with butter (and garlic if you like).

Tuesday for lunch

  1. Using the left over chicken, make a wrap with your favorite veggies.  Kids like rolling up their wraps with cheese.
  2. An alternative is layering the chicken, with veggies and cheese (and some mayo) on a Panini and grilling the sandwich.  So yummy!

Wednesday for dinner

Still have leftover chicken?  Make chicken salad and either serve as a sandwich with a cucumber salad or in a bowl with a side of veggies.  Here is my recipe for a delicious and easy (and quick) dinner:

Chicken Salad

Leftover chicken chopped into small pieces

Minced red or sweet onion

Chopped pickles

Mayo (or yogurt for a healthier option)

Juice from half a lime

Freshly cracked pepper

  1. Mix all the ingredients in a bowl.  As much of each ingredient as you like.
  2. Serve in a bowl, on toast or warm buns

Cucumber Salad

  1. Mix one English cucumber thinly cut (width wise) and half a thinly sliced red onion in a mixing bowl
  2. Cover with two parts olive oil and one part red wine vinegar
  3. Sprinkle with sugar, oregano, and salt
  4. Add cracked pepper

 Absolute Silence Pasta

Sometimes I just need quiet.  My ears are essentially bleeding from the noise and the chaos of the day.  This is my fall back when the kids are crying that they are starving, the baby is pulling at my legs and I just want to collapse on the floor and join them.

Ingredients:

3/4 Package of small rotini pasta (or whichever you desire)

¼ cup of butter

Enough parmesan cheese to cover the pasta

Instructions:

  1. Cook the pasta according to the instructions.  During this time, when hunger is at its height, the boys devour any veggies that I put in front of them.
  2. Drain the pasta and pour into an oval corning wear dish.
  3. Generously sprinkle parmesan cheese over the pasta.  Leave it to the side.
  4. Place the ¼ cup of butter (or more if you are in a Paula Deen mood) and crank the heat to high.  Let the butter simmer, boil and burn.
  5. Remove the butter from the heat when it is brown and bubbling.
  6. Pour the hot butter over the pasta and cheese
  7. Mix together and serve
  8. Enjoy the silence that comes over the table

Variations:

You could add shrimp or frozen peas to the mix, but if your kids are like my middle one, they might not like “fings” in their food.

If you are making this for adults or a gourmand kiddo, I would suggest drizzling truffle oil over the pasta.  To. Die. For.