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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Did you say Tilapia?


It is said that we don't have enough fish in our diets, so at least once a week, I try to buy some.  I personally don't like plain fish.   It needs to have either some sort of stuffing or sauce.  The fish I bought this weekend, Tilapia, is a great fish to stuff and roll.  It is nice and thin, and doesn't fall apart.

I decided to make the stuffing out of croutons, crunched up Ritz crackers, spinach, garlic, sauteed Vidalia onion, and a few herbs.  


First I cook the onions and garlic.  I also add salt and pepper, and some paprika.  Then I add the defrosted Langostinos (if you can't find them, you can use shrimp).  In a separate bowl I mix the croutons, Ritz crackers, shredded Parmesan cheese.  

Dump the onion mixture in, and start tearing up spinach leaves....

I add probably 1 cup of chicken broth, enough to moisten the stuffing, along with a healthy splash of white wine.  Add as much broth as you need to make it moist enough.   I also drizzled some olive oil in as well.  Keep mixing and tasting.  Make sure you can taste the flavors.  You might need to add some additional onion or garlic powder.  When you are satisfied with the taste and texture, set it aside and get the fish ready

Tilapia is a nice, firm piece of fish that is perfect for rolling.  The only thing is, one side is a little thicker than the other.  So, I take my meat mallet and gently pound the thicker side, just to make it a similar thickness.   All you have to do is spoon your stuffing on the fish and roll it up.  I don't bother tying it. I just roll it and place them in a pan, with the loose end underneath.

When they are all in the pan, I lightly spray them with some vegetable spray, and sprinkle them with seasoned bread crumbs.  I cooked them in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes.  Your time could vary depending on your oven, so just start checking them after about 15 minutes.  You want the stuffing to be hot.

When they are done, remove them from the oven and let them set.  I decide I want a light sauce to spoon over them.

In a small pan, I pour 1/4 cup of chicken broth, 1/2 cup of half and half, 2 tbs. of Dijon mustard, and 1 tsp of tarragon.  I also grate in a little lemon zest.  Let this simmer for a little bit, then spoon over the fish.

Last but not least, some green beans, sauteed in a little butter, salt and pepper, and sprinkled with some French's French Fried Onions just before serving.

The stuffing was really delicious and the fish was cooked just enough so that it didn't get dried out.  

I know I promised to make my rendition of Bertucci's Sausage soup on Friday, but as you could tell, my plans changed just a bit!   I promise to share it with you this week.  It is definitely worth waiting for!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

I have a little over an hour to make dinner for unexpected company......stuffed pork tenderloin, don't fail me now!

This is commentary about making dinner for unexpected company.

So, tonight's blog is all about being told at 8:45 a.m. that you are cooking for company who will be arriving at 5:30 p.m. that night!   I say, "what????"  I am???? prob!   Right!  So my brain goes into overdrive as I think about what I can cook in about an hour..... Pork tenderloin, of course!  All I have to do when I get home from work is whip up some stuffing, figure out a vegetable, and something quick and easy for dessert.... no problem, right?

I boogied home at lunch to take the pork out of the freezer... then back to work for a meeting and a full afternoon of work.  Left at 4:10, got home at 4:20, and raced to the fridge.  I was like a maniac, grabbing all kinds of ingredients to make a stuffing for the tenderloin.   I started by making a small batch of Pepperidge Farm stuffing.  To that I added fresh spinach and some sauteed Vidalia onions.

I tear apart a bunch of fresh spinach and throw it in, as well as some chopped Bella mushrooms, fresh garlic, and Parmesan cheese.

I always love cranberries with pork, so I throw a handful of craisins into the mix.

Now it's time for some breadcrumbs, fresh garlic, and some chicken broth and olive oil to moisten..its all about the texture of the stuffing.  You know what stuffing is supposed to look like, right?  It needs to be moise and flavorful.  Time to taste...I add some salt and pepper, and begin to stuff...

I take each tenderloin and butterfly it.  Then I pound it so it becomes evenly thin.  Then I add the stuffing.

Time to tie the roast.    Once it is all tied up, I brown 

At this point, I start to pay attention to the butternut squash.  I season it with sea salt and pepper.  I also sprinkle some curry on it.  In a hot oven it goes....

Make sure you have a single layer of squash in the pan.  If you have the squash too deep, it will become too mushy. Mix up every once in a while.

You'll notice there are no pictures from here on in.  That is because I got so busy and was trying to get dinner on the table.  Suffice it to say I sliced the tenderloin up and it looked delicious.  I served the squash in a cool pedestal bowl.  This is the first time I didn't make enough food! Usually I cook way more than I need, but I didn't bank on the fact that folks went back for seconds and thirds tonight!   My poor daughter got home from her volleyball game only to find that there was one lowly piece of pork and a little squash left for her.

I know I have made this before, but last night it just seemed to come out amazing!  The next time you are surprised with company, I hope you can throw something together like I did......

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Seeing as you loved my first bread comes another winner

This pumpkin bread comes out so moist and really yummy, and an added bonus?  It makes two loaves! I am planning on experimenting with adding different things, such as Craisins, coconut, or walnuts..... call me crazy!  Anyway, this unfortunately is one of those "measured" recipes so get your measuring spoons and cups out.

In one bowl, cream the following:

2/3 cup of shortening (Crisco)
2 2/3 cups sugar

Add 4 eggs, one at a time and blend well.

Next add a can of pumpkin and 2/3 cup of water...

Now it's time for the dry ingredients:

3 1/3 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2  tsp. baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves

Blend this into the pumpkin mixture.  Now would be the time to add things like raisins, craisins, or nuts if you wish.  I've even thought of adding coconut.... I add it to my banana bread and it is delicious!

All that is left is to grease and flour two loaf pans.  Divide the batter between the two, and sprinkle with a cinnamon sugar mixture.   Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 70 minutes.  I like to check them after the hour is up, because you never know, sometimes they cook faster than other times.

I'll try to think of some other bread recipes I have that are really good.  I know I have a zucchini one that is delicious... I'll save that one for another day.  I'm feeling soup for tomorrow night.  I love Bertucci's sausage soup and have devised a pretty good duplication, so stay tuned...

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Just me, a glass of malbec, and a million ideas in my head!

I am all alone tonight..... My husband is out at a time, my daughter giving tours of the convent at Ursuline.  I'm thinking pasta, with fresh veggies and shrimp......No!  Sausage.  For some reason, I was in the mood for sausage tonight.  So listen up!  Instead of using fresh garlic and fresh basil, I decide to go the Baharat route (paprika, cumin coriander, cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and cardamom).  If you don't order this from Colonel De's on line, do mix some of it up to use.  The flavors are intense!  I'm telling you.  There is something about the smell of the combination of these spices, and the taste of sweet Italian sausage that seemed to go so well together.  

So, I partially defrost the sausages, take the skin off of them, and slice them up.  Don't wait too long to cut them, if you do, the sausage gets really soft and impossible to slice.

Before I cook the sausage, I cook the pasta.... a no-brainer!


As you can see, my assistant is totally on top of things, making sure I am doing everything according to plan.   I cook batches of sliced sausage until they are done. 

I put a very small amount of olive oil in the pan, and cook the pieces of sausage.  Just before they are done, I sprinkle a little of the Baharat seasoning.   The aroma is amazing!

By now, the pasta is done, drained,  and cooling, the sausage is done, and I can quickly cook the onion and leek I have cut up. 

I turn off the heat and sprinkle some of the magic spice on, and dump in the mushrooms and tomatoes.  The heat in the pan will just slightly cook the mushrooms and tomatoes. 

 I turn off the heat and turn my attention back to the cooked pasta.  In a container, I whisk 4 egg yolks, 1/2 cup of half and half, and 1/2 cup of grated Romano cheese. I pour this over the cooked pasta and mix in well.  With the heat on low, and stirring constantly, the mixture will cook.   (My daughter loves meringue, so I will use the egg whites that were separated from the yokes this weekend)

I dump in another 1/2 cup of cheese, then add all the vegetables and sausage, as well as some cut up Kalamata olives. 

The final touch is about 6 spoonfuls of the dipping oil I keep in the fridge.  It is olive oil, grated Parmesan cheese, and crushed red pepper.

So there you have it.  A one pan meal, although you need a separate pan to boil the pasta.  Please keep tasting this as you put it together.  I always find I need to add a little more salt and pepper.  All the other flavors speak for themselves, especially the Baharat spice combination.  This has got to be one of my favorite ways of making dinner.  The leftovers go into a Tupperware container, and will get eaten tomorrow for lunch!