Beer Battered Cod

This is Alton Browns recipe that I used.  I didn’t change it at all and it turned out perfect. I did cut the recipe in half since I was only making a small amount of fish…so you get half a beer to drink while frying!

Mix the batter and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.  Dredge your fish in the cornstarch and then dip in the batter.  Fry in hot oil until golden brown.  A brown paper bag works great for soaking up the grease.  Serve with your favorite tartar sauce. 

For the batter:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Dash Old Bay Seasoning
  • 1 bottle of beer, cold
  • 1 1/2 pounds firm-fleshed whitefish (tilapia, pollock, cod), cut in strips or desired shape
  • Cornstarch, for dredging

I’m guessing this batter would probably work great with shrimp.  I will have to try that next!

Enjoy!

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Hummus

Being Lebanese myself I grew up eating a lot of different middle eastern foods.  Some were everyday foods and others were traditional holiday meals.

Hummus was always a favorite, served as a dip with cut up Syrian bread (flat or pita bread).  You can now buy it at any grocery or specialty store,  I’ve seen so many different ways to make it.  But here is the basic traditional recipe that I grew up with and love the best.

It’s so easy, just blend until smooth the following ingredients in a food processor.

  • 2 (15 oz) can garbanzo beans (drain and reserve juice)
  • 1/2 cup juice from beans
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice (For a little more tang, add a a little more)
  • 1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste found at middle eastern grocery stores or specialty grocery stores)
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper

Blend well.  If it ends up being too thick add a little more lemon juice or bean juice.  Sprinkle the top with paprika. Serve with Pita bread.

Enjoy!

Mexican Crock Pot Chicken

All you need is 15 minutes in the morning and you’ll have dinner ready that night!  This was literally so easy.  I did a little chopping, opened up a couple of cans and turned on my crock pot. Bursting with flavor.  Just make a quick mexican rice (I cheated and used MJB’s mexican rice in a box) and dinner is ready!

The best part is if you don’t have all these ingredients you can substitute to your taste.  You might want to add corn and green peppers.  Not a fan of beans, then leave them out. Look in your pantry for ideas, that’s what I did!

  • about 8 frozen boneless chicken thighs (doesn’t get much easier)
  • 1 28 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 diced onion
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 16 oz. can black beans with jalapeno’s – drained
  • 1 4 oz can diced green chili’s
  • 1 diced celery stalk
  • 2 chopped jalapeno – seeded
  • Hand full of chopped fresh cilantro
  • about 2 tablespoons of cumin
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon of dry oregano
  • 2 diced adobe chipotle peppers
  • couple pinches of kosher salt

Mix all above ingredients in your crock pot.  Turn on low for at least 8 to 9 hours. Break up the chicken with a spoon when done and serve over rice with tortilla chips.  Add a dollop of sour cream!

Enjoy!

Spaghetti and Meatballs in the Crock Pot

I made this recently and had no recipe. It was one of those meals where I threw everything together and hoped it will turn out.  It was the best spaghetti and meatballs ever.  Letting the sauce and meatballs slow cook all day was the key.

For the meatballs (which makes about 8 to 10 meatballs depending on the size)

  • 1 lb. italian sausage
  • 2 pieces of white bread soaked in milk (I used a little water since I was out of milk)
  • 1/2 onion diced and 2 to 3 garlic cloves minced and sautéed in olive oil
  • grated parmesan cheese (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 tablespoon parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper

Mix and roll into balls and brown in olive oil.  They don’t need to be cooked all the way through, just brown them on all sides.

In your crock pot mix together:

  • 1 28 oz. diced or crushed tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 ounce tomato sauce
  • 1/2 diced onion
  • 2 to 3 diced garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 good size bunch of chopped fresh basil
  • 2 bay leaves
  • salt and pepper

Add your browned meatballs in the sauce and slow cook about 8 to 9 hours.  Last few minutes before serving I sprinkled some grated mozzarella cheese on top.

Serve on Spaghetti noodles.

I made this all the night before and had in my refrigerator in the crock pot liner covered, already to turn on in the morning.  Ideal if you plan on being gone all day!!!

Enjoy!

Chicken and Dumplings

This meal couldn’t be easier.  No need to even prepare it the night before.  I had it in the crock pot cooking in about 15 minutes!  All the vegetables are optional, substitute to your liking!

  • 4 frozen chicken breasts
  • 2 cans cream of chicken soup
  • 2 cans chicken broth
  • 1 diced onion
  • 1 diced carrot
  • 1 diced celery
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • garlic powder
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can biscuits

Throw everything in your crock pot except for the biscuits.  Cook on low for 8 to 9 hours.

Last 2 hours use a spoon to cup up your chicken and mix.  Quarter your biscuits and add to your pot.

If your working all day and don’t have time to do the biscuits 2 hours before, I suggest making them in the oven when you get home and put them on top before serving.

Enjoy!

Greek Salad

Need a quick easy salad for a luncheon, potluck or a light dinner.   A Greek salad topped with chicken is the way to go.  The amounts vary depending on how many people you are making it for.

  • Romaine lettuce
  • purple onions
  • tomatoes
  • cucumbers
  • green peppers
  • kalamata olives
  • feta cheese
  • fresh oregano

I rough chopped the romaine and sliced the onions.  I cut up the tomatoes, cucumbers and green peppers in bite size pieces and left the skin on the cucumber.  Buy the pitted olives and slice in half.  I also bought the already crumbled feta cheese.

For the dressing I used Kraft zesty italian and added lemon juice, fresh oregano, garlic powder, fresh cracked pepper and kosher salt. Mix well.  Add extra lemon juice if you like your salad more tangy.

For the chicken I marinated thin chicken breast in the italian dressing with fresh oregano and grilled.  Slice thin for on top of salad.

For an added treat I made Oreo truffles (Thank you Pinterest!)

  • 1 package of double stuff Oreo’s
  • 4 oz. cream cheese
  • white chocolate for melting

In your food processor grind your Oreo’s very fine.  Mix well with soften cream cheese and roll into small balls (save some of the Oreo’s to top your truffles).  Place on a parchment lined pan and freeze for 15 minutes. Melt your chocolate according to the package and dip the Oreo balls until well covered.  Sprinkle some of the left over Oreo’s on top before the chocolate hardens. Refrigerate.

I guarantee this will be a crowd pleaser.

Enjoy!

Olive Garden’s Zuppa Toscana

This is our favorite soup to make, I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to blog it!!  If you like sausage, bacon and potatoes (and who doesn’t!!) you will want to double this for leftovers!

It’s a favorite in my house with bread sticks and salad.

  • 1/2 pound mild italian sausage
  • 1/4 pound bacon – about 6 slices
  • crushed red peppers
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 32 oz box chicken broth
  • 2 large russet potatoes – scrubbed and sliced like half moons. (leave skin on)
  • 2 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1 med. onion – diced
  • 2 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

Crumble and cook your sausage with the red crushed pepper flakes.  Set aside and drain grease.  Cook your bacon and crumble.  Set that aside.

In a big pot add your water, chicken broth, potatoes, garlic and onion.  Simmer on low until potatoes are tender.  Add your meat and bacon.  Simmer another 10 minutes.  Add Kale and cream and salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer to heat cream and wilt kale.

I also made this in the crock pot.  I cooked the sausage and bacon first and then put all the ingredients in except for the cream and the kale.  Slow cooked all day and added the kale and cream about 5 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Facts about Fennel – the new go-to vegetable

Fennel also sometimes called anise tastes like a cross between celery, leeks and licorice .  Most people really don’t think about using it or are afraid to because of the licorice flavor.

When choosing fresh fennel, look for ones that have clean, firm and solid bulbs. Avoid any bulbs that have signs of splitting or bruising.
Bulbs should be a pale green color, while the stalks and leaves should be a brighter green. The leaves should be fresh looking and not wilted.
Be sure to choose fennel that doesn’t have flowers on the leaves. The flowers or buds means the vegetable is past maturity.

Here are a few different ways to use fennel:

  • Add thinly sliced raw fennel to a salad.
  • Slice and use as a hamburger topping
  • Add chopped fennel stalks to soups or stews.
  • Sauté garlic, onions and fennel for a delicious topping for sandwiches.
  • 1/2 cup of raw fennel  has 0 fat and is only 14 calories.

I sliced it and mixed it with broccoli, olive oil and salt and pepper than roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 15-20 minutes.  To my surprise the combination was a perfect blend.  It compliments well with chicken or salmon as a side dish.  Make a lot because you will want seconds!

Enjoy!

Cabbage Roll Casserole

I love cabbage rolls, but don’t always have the time to roll as many as I can eat.  So why not make a layered casserole like lasagna.  This was my first attempt and the flavor and texture was perfect.  The only change I would make is I would have liked more cabbage.  Next time I make this I will shred the cabbage giving each layer a little more cabbage and making it easier to eat after it’s cooked.

Meat filling:

  • 1 1/2  lb. ground beef
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 onion grated
  • 1/2 cup uncooked white rice
  • 8 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons all spice
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper

In a saute pan brown your ground beef.  Add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to a boil and than cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes

Sauce:

In a pot heat 1 28 oz can of crushed tomatoes and 1 14.5 can of tomato sauce with 2 large whole garlic cloves. Simmer while your meat filling is cooking.

In a large casserole dish begin layering.  Start with your sauce.  Then a layer of cabbage.  Be sure to cut the core out of the middle. (as I said earlier I would have shredded the cabbage at this point.  Use about 1/3 of it.  The next layer is meat, then cabbage then sauce.

End with cabbage and top with remaining sauce.  The 2 large garlic cloves that was in the sauce I took out, sliced and placed on top while cooking.

Cover with foil and cook at 400 degrees for 40 minutes.  Let sit for about 10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Zucchini Boats

This is an easy easy side dish that goes great with almost anything.  What doesn’t taste good with bacon!!!  I only wish I would have made more.

  • 2 zucchini’s
  • 2 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 small onion diced
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • 1/2 Roma tomato, seeded and diced
  • parmesan cheese

Cut your zucchini’s in half lengthwise.  Using a spoon, scrape out the insides.  Reserve about half.

Cut up bacon in small pieces and fry in a saute pan.  When bacon is done add onion and saute until tender.  Add garlic and some crushed pepper flakes.  Transfer to a mixing bowl and add tomato, the reserved zucchini insides and some grated parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.

Place your zucchini in a greased oven proof dish.  Spoon in stuffing and top with more grated parmesan cheese.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Enjoy!