15 Minutes and It’s Dinnertime

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They say that we should be careful what we ask for; I’ve been asking when the heat was going to make an appearance here in Northeast Ohio.  Well… believe me when I say, the heat came… with a vengeance!  One day it was 78 degrees and the for the next full week it was 95+ degrees outside.  I was like “Uh, what happened here?”  Not that I was upset about it, because I really wasn’t.  It felt like spring in Houston to me.  So, while everyone else was literally “melting” I was enjoying the warmth.  Oh well… it was fun while it lasted.  We are back in the 70’s this week…

During these hot spells, it’s good to have a couple of “go to” meals that you can prepare without a lot of effort, or time spent in the kitchen.  I mean, let’s face it, who wants to be in a hot kitchen cooking when it’s hot outside?  Crazy people like me wouldn’t mind, but that’s only because cooking relaxes me.  It’s sort of a form of therapy because I can create something from the deep recesses of my mind, or from some recipe that I wanted to jazz up.  I know… it’s hard to believe, I actually do have a creative side.  Believe me, no one is more surprised than I am.  I can’t even draw stick people successfully, so when I started to make dishes from an idea I had, well, let’s just say my family is very brave!  Seriously though, I am glad that my family act as my judges/critics.  At least I know that I’m getting honest feedback on what tastes good and what sucks.  Of course the stuff that sucks never sees the light of day, let alone a post on my blog.  See?!?!  I did it again… why do you let me go off on these long rants about nothing?

Back to the topic at hand, a nice easy meal that can be made in a snap.  Something that is healthy, but not too heavy.  That would be Aglio Olio.  It’s a pasta dish with olive oil as it’s base.  You can use whole wheat or gluten free pasta to lighten up it up so you aren’t eating bowl of carbs and nothing else.  At the end of the day, you need to have some carbs in your life, it’s just a matter of balancing that with proteins and fat.  Yes, I said that dirty word… FAT!  We need that in our diet as well.  So… Aglio Olio… what I really like about this dish is you can make it really quickly and add whatever you want to it.  Veggies, cheeses or other aromatics can be incorporated to bring out some truly inspired flavors.  This is one of my favorite things to do.

As I set about preparing to make this meal I decided it was clean out the fridge time.  Once again, I struck gold.  I had some decisions to make though… I had mushrooms, tomatoes, parmesan cheese, squash and zucchini.  I decided to drop the squash and zucchini back in the fridge and go with everything else.  I didn’t want this to be too heavy.  I was more than satisfied with the end result.  You can follow the recipe below, or feel free to be creative and make it your own.  Isn’t that what cooking is all about?

I hope you enjoy this dish, and please let me know what variations you make to it. I might have to try some of them!

AGLIO OLIO WITH MUSHROOMS, TOMATOES AND PARMESAN CHEESE

Ingredients

1/4 cup olive oil 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
½ cup tomatoes, chopped
½ cup mushrooms, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes, optional
1/4 cup chicken stock or cooking water from the pasta
1/2 pound angel hair pasta
fresh grated romano or parmesan – to taste
salt and freshly ground black pepper – to taste

Directions

Boil pasta as directed on package. While the pasta is cooking, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms and red pepper flakes. Cook until garlic starts to soften and lightly brown and mushrooms are cooked through. Add chicken stock (or cooking water). Drain pasta and add it and tomatoes to saute pan. Toss the pasta mixture with the olive oil then season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with cheese and serve immediately. Enjoy!

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Do It Before Time Slips Away

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Today is the day following Independence Day.  A holiday that is a celebration of the freedom we fought so hard to gain all those years ago, and continue to fight for to this day.  It’s a great day for all of us in the United States because we can reflect on everything that we are so very blessed to have, enjoy good food, family and fireworks at the same time.  As a veteran this day is near and dear to my heart.  Happy Belated Independence Day!

When I got to work this morning I learned that, once again, tragedy has struck very close to home.  Overnight, 2 young men were gunned down inside a home right around the corner from where I grew up.  In fact, it’s an area where some of my family and friends still live. These young men were in their late teens and early twenties.  Still babies in my eyes (my children are 27 and 14).  Immediately my heart started to ache for their mother who I knew, although not very well, from when I was growing up.  It doesn’t matter that I am not connected to her as her close friends and family are, it only matters that I can feel her pain.  It matters that I too am a mother and can relate to her as only another mother can. Once again, I was forced to look at time and how we continue to take it for granted without regard for the way we live our lives.  These 2 young men were here celebrating Independence Day, just 24 hours ago.  Now, they are gone.

I can’t begin tell you how this is affecting me.  I can’t imagine losing 1 of my children, let alone 2.  I am in a place of total and complete bewilderment.  I am hurting inside because I know that personally, I could be doing some things differently… making better choices in my life… but still, I drag my feet.  Still… I continue to try to fix all of the broken things in my life rather than allow God to do it for me.  His word tells us to rest in Him and lean not to our own understanding… but you know how stubborn we are… I know that nothing happens unless it is according to His plan, but even in the knowledge and security of that, I can’t help but ask “why?”

Have you ever thought back to when you were a teenager?  Have you thought about how you related to your parents… we would say that our parents think they know everything, but they don’t really. Don’t we approach life in the same way?  We think we know it all, and that we have plenty of time to do the things we just haven’t gotten around to yet.  Hmmm… that’s a very powerful statement.  Do we really have “plenty” of time?  Reflect on that for a few minutes.

Yesterday was a day of celebration with fireworks, countless cookouts, parties and family gatherings.  Today… well, today is a day of untold pain, and a sudden rush of realization (for some of us) once again, that tomorrow is not promised to us.  We have choices to make in life, but are we making them, or are we simply rolling with whatever is going on?  One of my favorite sayings is “It is what it is…” but, really?  Is it?  Or am I allowing it to be that way so I don’t have to take responsibility for the things happening in my life?  How many of you are in the same boat?  How many of you know you should make changes, but you don’t because you figure you have time?

When will WE (yes, me too) wake up and do what needs to be done?  Forgive yourself and others so that you are free to move forward in your life.  Make the changes needed so that you are restored and whole again because that will take you to a place where you are free to love and live!  After all, isn’t that what life is all about?

Just another random thought.

Thai Beef Salad

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I am a lover of oriental food!  I could shout this from the rooftops.  I simply LOVE oriental food.  At first, it was your regular run of the mill stuff, like, beef & broccoli or pepper steak.  Oh, and most everyone loves shrimp fried rice!  I used to eat shrimp fried rice and french fries  by the bucketload while I was in Korea.  (I know… weird combination).  Being in the military afforded me the opportunity to travel and learn more about oriental foods and to experience them in their original form.  Most oriental food that we have here in the United States is what people would call “Americanized” and lacks some of the flavor and simplicity that you find in the native countries.  Overall, I have to say that my favorite, by far, is Thai food.

P.S.  Have you ever noticed that most oriental people are small, and very fit?  I decided that this required some research on my part, because I wanted to know why these people could eat all of this wonderful food and not gain any weight… it just wasn’t adding up! Oops… there I go again… my inner thoughts coming out.  You will be please to know that I discovered it is because of the food itself (lots of veggies) and the preparation methods… (not all of the oil and preservatives that we find in the oriental restaurants)… mmm hmmm!

I was fortunate because I have a friend who is Thai.  She graciously gave me cooking lessons every Monday so that I could learn to cook my favorite dishes (thanks Ann!).  I have to admit that I was a little intimidated at first, but as we got into cooking the dishes, I discovered that it really wasn’t hard to do.  Thai cooking involves more seasoning than traditional chinese or cantonese food.  It kind of “pops” in your mouth.  There is also the element of heat in some of the dishes that puts it over the top for me.  (No worries, I’m not going to go back into my heat phase, I was simply stating the obvious, Lol!).  Anywhooo… the other cool thing about Thai food is you can have it anywhere from extremely mild to over the top hot.  Again, it’s all about the seasoning.  A particular favorite of mine is Nam Tok, or the Thai “Waterfall” salad.  This can be made with ground pork or beef.  I prefer the beef version.  It’s not your typical salad, as it is not served cold, rather it is warm or room temperature.  You will find some versions that come with tomato and some that do not.  It can also be served over lettuce or steamed jasmine rice.  It lends itself to variety and the ability to turn this salad into a main course.

Here is my take on Nam Tok.  I hope that you enjoy it!

THAI BEEF SALAD (NAM TOK)

Ingredients

½ pound flank steak
2 roma tomatoes, sliced thinly
½ red onion, slice thinly
2 tablespoons garlic powder
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons fish sauce
Juice of 2 limes
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
1 tsp. brown sugar

Directions

Heat nonstick pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, put the flank steak into the pan and sear on 1 side. Turn the steak over and let it cook 4-5 mins (medium to medium well doneness). Remove the steak and place on a cutting board. Reserve the juices from the pan in a large bowl. Allow the meat to cool enough to touch it. Slice the meat thinly against the grain and place in the bowl.
Add the garlic powder, salt, pepper, paprika, fish sauce, lime juice, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. (You can use any seasoning you prefer, but be sure that you do not omit the fish sauce and lime juice as they are the anchor of this dish). Stir to coat the meat.  Taste for seasoning.  Add more fish sauce if not salty enough, and more lime juice if too salty.  Add the tomatoes and onion and stir. Add the cilantro and stir.  Serve over lettuce or steamed jasmine rice.

Time

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post about my realization that we take time for granted.  I made mention of some things that I’m doing, even though I don’t have the luxury of time on my side.  So, as hard as it has been for me, I have had to let go of some things that hurt me deep down in the very center of my being, only to find that it really wasn’t that big a deal to begin with.

Things are only as large and hurtful as I allow them to be.  I have realized that people can only have as much control over my life as I allow them to.  (Common denominator:  ALLOW).  I told a friend last week that I was no longer going to have a pity party in my life.  And I’m not.  She’s been writing about life and the things we go through in order to restore ourselves.  I’ve been on the road to this restoration for the past few months and I can’t tell you how GREAT this transformation has been for me.  I have a greater appreciation for LIFE, and for the things I’m blessed with daily.

One of the biggest things is I am no longer holding on to hurtful things from my past.  They are just that, the past.  I am still climbing the mountain of forgiveness though… forgiving others and myself.  Others because of things they may have done to me that I believed to be wrong, and myself for all manner of things.  Some things in my control, and some not.  I am working on this daily… trying to move forward with my life and not allow myself to stagnate in a negative place.  After all, isn’t the ultimate goal in life to be happy while we are here?  Each day that I wake is a blessing for me.  It’s another opportunity for me to live my life to the fullest, to enjoy what God has given me.  It may not be the life of my dreams, but guess what, it’s still a pretty darned good life.

We make a conscious decision each day as to how we will proceed.  Our attitudes are a direct reflection of that decision.  Happy, sad, good or bad.  It’s our DECISION.

What decision have you made about your life today?

Just a random thought….

The Heat Era

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What an amazing week last week!  Congratulations to The Miami Heat for their victory in the NBA Finals!  Well deserved!  (I know, I know… I’m late getting this posted, but hey… I was celebrating, what do you expect?)  It was wonderful to see The Heat celebrate.  The jubilation on their faces when they won was priceless!  If only we could all experience that feeling of euphoria at least once in our lifetime!  It would make everything we go through daily worth it, right?  Lebron – you earned it!

GO HEAT!

P.S. Have I mentioned that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Dwyane Wade?  Oh, I know I didn’t tell you that I have the biggest crush on Shane Battier!  If I’m ever in the same room with that man?  Watch out!!!!  It could get real ugly… I’m just sayin’… Anyway, this win was great for me on a lot of different levels.

So… on to the reason for this blog.  The final rendering of my Heat phase.  Yes… I admit it… I’m finally finished.  The Heat has been quenched, but I’m sure that it will rear it’s head again at some point.  It’s like an addiction, you know?  As I went back through my posts, I realized that I’ve only written about main dishes with heat.  Well… I thought… you have to have something to go with the main dish, right?  And suppose you don’t want to have a spicy main dish, but you still crave just a touch of heat.  I’ve got just the thing for that.  A very easy side dish that has heat and a bit of “twang” too.  Hmmm maybe I’ll look into my recipe archives and see what else I have that has “twang.”  I feel another phase coming on.  Former Texas Twang, or Food with Twang… what do you think?  Is “twang” even a word?  I digress… you know how I get when I let my mind wander.  Back to the Heat recipe… Oh, wait… have you seen Heat Seekers on the Food Network?  Now those guys have me beat… They really love heat!  Sorry… I did it again didn’t I?  Where was I?  Oh yes… the recipe… this one can be paired with beef, chicken or fish and will compliment any of them nicely, with just a little punch.  The heat in this dish is provided by crushed red peppers.  Now, don’t be mislead, those little bad boys are dangerous too.  (Not quite as dangerous as the Sriracha, but close).  So, if you can’t handle a lot of heat, please back up off the crushed red peppers.  Me… I add extra, cuz I loves me some heat!

Here it is… my final (for now) HEATED dish.  Enjoy and let me know what you think!

SPICY ROASTED POTATOES

Ingredients

2 1/2 to 3 pounds of red potatoes, diced
¼ cup olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ cup red wine vinegar
½ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves – you can substitute dried parsley
½ cup chopped cilantro leaves

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Put a sheet tray in oven to get hot.
Toss the potatoes in a large bowl with the olive oil, garlic, red pepper flakes, salt, pepper and cumin. Spread potatoes out evenly on the hot sheet tray. Roast until tender and nicely browned, about 35 minutes. Remove the potatoes from the oven and put them back into the bowl. Add the vinegar, parsley, cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Toss well to combine ingredients evenly and serve.

No Reprieve From the “Heat”

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Today is officially the first day of summer, which theoretically should mean…. Heat. Right?  Mmmm, I’m in Ohio, so…. not so much.  I’m still waiting for the real summer heat to get here and wondering if it ever will.  (That’s what I get for living in Texas for 20+ years.  Now, that there is some HEAT!  The kind where you walk out your front door and immediately start sweating.  It’s heat at it’s finest.  Psst… can I tell you a secret?  I really don’t miss that particular kind of heat.  Lol!

Onward to another of my heat passions.  Tonight is another game in the NBA Finals.  Will the Heat take out OKC and win the championship tonight?  We shall see!  Wouldn’t that be the icing on the Heat cake?  Lebron would finally get a ring… and the Heat would reign supreme (which it already does in my world), but hey, the rest of the world could join me with the Heat love!  Wouldn’t that be cool?  Enough of that.  I know the Lebron hater’s are giving me a serious eye roll right about now.  Hee Hee Hee!  (That’s my wicked with of the west (or is it east?) Anyway, whatever direction,  its my wicked witch laugh from the Wizard of Oz).  Yeah… I know, I’ve got issues…

Soooo…. anywhooo… In the spirit of all things spicy and heat filled, I decided to try my hand at making a spicy fish dish.  I wanted something with some kick, but I didn’t want to lose the flavor of the fish.  What I came up with allowed the fish to shine through but still gave me the heat I was craving.  I tell you I just don’t know what is wrong with me.  I can’t get away from these spicy dishes.  This week alone I’ve had something spicy 3 days out of 4.  It’s getting crazy.  (I mean, so what if I eat 100 calorie popcorn with tabasco sauce all over it as a snack!  I loves me some HEAT!)  It’s not rational… shoot, it might be a sickness… food for thought… But I must admit that I love it.  My creative side is definitely being challenged.  I promise that at some point I will share some of my other dishes that aren’t spicy with you… it’s just that right now… I’m all about the heat!  This too shall pass… hang in there with me… it’s almost over!

Tilapia is a very mild fish but it’s extremely easy to cook with and shrimp is done in a snap.  I am sure that you will love this as much as I did.  Oh… did I mention that my family smashed this?  It was quiet at the table which is a sure sign that the food is good.  I actually had to push to get feedback because they were so busy stuffing their faces.  There’s no better feeling than seeing people eat something you created and knowing that they enjoyed it.  Let me know how you like this one.

SPICY TILAPIA & SHRIMP WITH PARMESAN CREAM SAUCE

Ingredients

6 tilapia fillets
½ pound of large peeled and deveined shrimp
¼ cup melted unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Tony Chachere’s cajun seasoning
2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon white pepper
½ teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Place baking sheet in the oven.
Combine the cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, black pepper, white pepper and salt in a bowl and set aside.
Rinse tilapia fillets and shrimp and pat dry. Season both sides of the fillets and shrimp with the spices. Remove the pan from the oven and pour half of the melted butter on the bottom of the baking sheet. It will be sizzling. Add the fish to the pan and put into the over for 5-7 minutes or until the fish is almost ready to flake. While the fish is cooking prepare your parmesan cream sauce (recipe below).
Take the pan out and add the shrimp. Put the back into the oven for 3-5 minutes and remove the pan. Drizzle with the remaining butter, top with the cream sauce and serve.

Parmesan Cream Sauce

¼ cup of white wine
3 tablespoons half and half
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon of butter

In a sauté pan, heat white wine over medium high heat until it begins to bubble (you want big bubbles). Stir in the half and half. Add the parmesan cheese and lower the heat to medium. Reduce the sauce until it begins to thicken. Add the butter and when it is melted drizzle on top of the fish and shrimp before serving.

Father’s Day Heat

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Heat and lots of it, that’s what my husband got for Father’s Day. The Miami Heat one yet another NBA Finals game (GO HEAT!!!!) and when I asked hubby what he wanted for his Father’s Day Dinner, he said “Surprise me.” Now, why did he say that? Doesn’t that man know that I’m crazy AND I’m going through a heat phase?

On the menu was, a cajun spiced steak, roasted potatoes, and balsamic mushroom green beans. I will be sure to share the recipe for the green beans later, as they were quite yummy, but for now, I’m getting back to the heat. I had every intention of making this steak one of the most flavorfully (is that a word?) spicy dishes that I could. I marinated the steak in a spicy rub for an hour and prepared the steak.

The end result was a very nice looking steak that tasted great, but sadly… not enough heat. Boo! Well, the dinner was great, and for those of you who just want a great tasting steak that can be made in a few minutes in the oven, this recipe is for you. I will be working on this recipe because I am very competitive. I know there has got to be a way to spice up a good steak! Stay tuned, I’ll be back (in my Terminator voice). Enjoy!

CAJUN SPICED STEAK

Ingredients

2 Steaks, any cut (approx. ½ pound each)
¼ cup water
2 tablespoons Tony Chachere’s Cajun Seasoning
1 tablespoon Cayenne Pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon cracked black pepper
1 teaspoon white vinegar

Directions

Combine water, Cajun seasoning, cayenne pepper, olive oil, salt pepper and vinegar in a Ziploc bag. Add the steaks and coat them with the mixture. Seal and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Remove steaks from the refrigerator and allow them to come to room temperature.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. When steaks reach room temperature add 1 teaspoon of olive oil to a cast iron skillet and heat on the stove over high heat. When the oil ripples add the steaks. Sear one side for approximately 2-3 minutes when there is a golden brown crust. Flip the steaks and place the pan in the oven for 5 minutes or until desired doneness.
Remove from the oven, place steaks on a plate and let them rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Still Heated!

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Wow!  I don’t know how many of you are watching the NBA Finals, but last night the Miami Heat really played a great game.  They are making this an exciting series.  All tied 1-1 and heading back to South Beach to see what happens next.  Go Heat! (Ok… I know I’m a little weird because I am one of those women who follows sports, know a great majority of stats and watch Sportscenter with the best of them… what can I say… I’m a product of my upbringing.  But I’m girly too!)

Enough of that.  On to the food… In true Ursula fashion, I was trying to think of something interesting (with a little heat, of course) to cook.  I was leaning toward a stir fry, but didn’t want the normal fare of broccoli and cauliflower or bell peppers in it.  So, I did a sweep of the fridge and I struck gold!  Squash, zucchini, asparagus and mushrooms.  Ok.  I know you are saying, WHAT?  That doesn’t go in stir fry!  You will soon discover that I am by no means a traditional cook.  I like to push the envelope and see what I can come up with.  This is what makes cooking exciting.  You get to be creative and you get some pretty good food out of the deal.  I paired those wonderful veggies with garlic, ginger, onion and the star of the dish, flank steak.  The sauce is what brings on the heat… Sriracha, a little oyster sauce, equal parts of soy sauce and low sodium soy sauce.  Whewww!  When I say this was good.  Oh my!!!

I’m waiting for my family to say enough with the spicy food already!  But, I’m moving forward until they start yelling.  Seriously though, it is just so good I can’t help myself.  The best part of this dish is that it is totally healthy.  It’s got good vegetables, protein and you can either eat it alone or with some jasmine rice.  Since I need all of the calories I can get, I opted for the rice.

In my usual tradition, I will warn you, this dish is not for the faint of heat.  (yes, HEAT!)  Sriracha is no joke!  Got a funny story I will share with you really quickly.  The first time my husband had Sriracha, we were at a chinese restaurant in Houston.  He picked up the bottle and proceeded to squirt the sauce all over his food, without having had it before.  I looked at him and started laughing because I already knew what he was in for.  He took that first bite and the look on his face was priceless.  He immediately picked up his glass of water and stuck his tongue in it.  Then he started gulping down the water.  Hilarious!!!!  Now, he can handle a lot of heat, but even he is no match for Sriracha!  So, if you decide to try this one, ease yourself into it.  Just use a little Sriracha and add more if you feel like you can handle a little more heat.

I hope that you enjoy this creation from my overactive mind, and gather the courage to venture out and try some new ideas.  Remember, healthy cooking does not have to be difficult or boring!  Bring on the HEAT!

SPICY TERIYAKI BEEF STIR FRY

Ingredients

1 teaspoon of olive oil
8 stalks of asparagus, cut into 1 inch pieces
½ of a yellow squash, sliced and quartered
½ of a zucchini, sliced and quartered
1 cup of cremini mushrooms
1 small onion, chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons of ginger, minced
1 tablespoon of oyster sauce
¼ cup of low sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons of Sriracha
½ pound of flank steak, thinly sliced

Directions

In a small bowl, add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and Sriracha. Mix well and set aside.

Heat olive oil in wok over medium high heat. Add asparagus, squash and zucchini to the pan. Cook 5-7 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are tender crisp.

Add the mushrooms, onion, garlic and ginger and cook 2-3 minutes until the onion is transluscent, the mushrooms cook through and the garlic is fragrant.

Add the flank steak to the pan. Cook for 2-3 minutes stirring to ensure that the meat browns. The meat cooks very quickly because it is thinly sliced.

Add the sauce to the pan and stir to coat. Let the sauce cook until it begins to bubble and thicken. Taste the sauce for spice. If it is not hot enough, add more Sriracha. Remove from the heat and serve with jasmine rice.

Just Do It

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Today I’m marinating on a few different things.  A friend of mine has been blogging about forgiveness.  Not just forgiving others, but forgiving ourselves.  I’ve also seen posts about  the death of a peer today.  It’s enough to make you take a step back and really look at life and where you are in your daily journey.  I mean, seriously?

I know that I am guilty of holding on to things, and I tend to hold myself accountable for things that I should have forgiven myself for long ago.  The recent passing of a few people I grew up with has brought to the forefront the issue of mortality.  Shouldn’t I want to alleviate myself of the guilt I knowingly inflict upon myself?  Why then, do I continue to hold onto these hurtful things?  I’m turning this around in my mind and of course, the standard excuses come to mind… it’s too hard to deal with right now and this one is my favorite… I will deal with it when I have time.  Well… it turns out that I don’t have the luxury of time.  I’m not promised tomorrow.  Hmmm… It’s a cliche, I know but just this one time, I think that it might be relevant.

So it begs the question… when will I take that leap of faith and believe that if I release all of the things that I’m holding inside my life will begin to improve?  When?  Why won’t I “just do it?”  As soon as I find the answer, I will let you know.  Until then, I will continue to read the blogs on forgiveness, and I will allow the message to seep into my mind and spirit.  I will be open to hearing what it is that I am supposed to hear, and I will keep trying to do what I know in my heart of hearts is right.  Just another random thought.

A Little More Heat!

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Growing up we always used to laugh at our parents and relatives when they would sit around talking.  They would say things like “Chile hush!”  “Shut your mouth!” or “Honey hush!”  It never failed to make me laugh.  They also had lots of old adages that they felt were important for us youngsters to know.  This one most definitely pertains to my post today “If you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!”  Yes… you guessed it… I’m still on the heat kick!

As always, I strive to cook something that is healthy, but has character. You know, dishes that are healthy, but haven’t sacrificed flavor and originality.  They are then classified as having “character” in my book.  Most of the food I make has character mainly because I experiment with so many different things.  I like a wide range of foods which some might not ordinarily think of putting together.  But, some how, it works.  I like baking, although I only bake on special occasions, and I love working with fruits and veggies.  For now, we are still dealing with food that packs some heat.  Seriously though, I think I might have a heat fixation or something, because I can’t seem to get away from all things HOT right now.  I mean, The Miami Heat won the basketball game on Saturday to advance to the finals, Go Heat!, it’s beautiful outside with just the right amount of heat (not that Texas 102 heat index kind of heat), and I’m just cooking up a storm with these spicy dishes.  Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be… Ooops… I went off on one of my Doris Day tangents… Sorry about that!  My family isn’t complaining, though I know at some point they will want me to tone it down a bit.  Until then ~ if you can’t stand the heat stay out of the kitchen!

Today I’m focusing on tilapia with some flair.  Yes, a little more heat!  Jalapeno heat to be exact. Now, you can tame the heat beast if you like, simply by taking the seeds and ribs out of the jalapenos before chopping them up.  Otherwise, you will definitely feel the fire.  I tend to take the seeds out of one half of one of the jalapenos and leave them in the other half so that it’s hot, but not too hot.  I’m one who can stand a lot of heat and I am of the opinion that the more heat there is, the better it tastes.  My family doesn’t seem to agree.  Can you imagine that?  Someone who doesn’t agree with my heat philosophy? Well… (with my offended look).

Back to the task at hand… Tilapia is a really easy fish to cook with.  It takes on the flavor of most spices, and it can stand up to the vast majority of side dishes.  You can serve it with pasta, rice, veggies or a salad and it compliments each of them perfectly.  This particular dish is best served with pasta as it tends to cool the palette without taking away from the dish.  You can make this dish with whole wheat or gluten free pasta to make it a little healthier.  And as always you can substitute the cream for something a little lighter.  Please feel free to experiment with it and make it your own.  Remember, it’s all about what tastes good to YOU.  And as you have probably already discovered, heat tastes good to me!  (Now, that does not give you carte blanche to put just anything in there.  Remember, the key is to keep it healthy.)   Enjoy.

JALAPENO GARLIC TILAPIA

Ingredients

4-6 tilapia fillets
1/2 cup white flour
3 teaspoons chopped garlic
1/2 cup diced jalapenos
1 pinch salt
1 pinch pepper
1 pinch garlic salt
1/4 cup of light cream (or fat free half & half works well here)
6 tablespoons of butter
3 tablespoons of lemon juice (or less, if you want less of the lemon flavor to come through)
5 ounces angel hair pasta
1 teaspoon fresh parsley
1/2 cup diced roma tomatoes

Directions

Dredge the tilapia filets in the flour.
Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Add the tilapia filets to the pan. Once the tilapia has a nice crust on one side, flip them over and add the jalapenos, spinach, salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
Prepare the angel hair pasta in boiling water and allow it to cook 3 -4 minutes
Melt the remaining butter and add the lemon juice, set aside.
Once the filets begin to flake, add the light cream, and bring it to a slight boil.
Once the cream begins to boil, remove the pan from the fire and pour the lemon butter into the sauce.
Put pasta on a serving platter and carefully pour fish and sauce over the pasta.
Garnish with fresh roma tomatoes and parsley.