tilapia tacos with fresh tomato salsa

It seems lately I’m ever so slightly bordering on obsessed with fish tacos.  I’ve pinned ump-teen recipes to my Pinterest board, I’ve bookmarked a bunch in my favorites bar, and I’ve cooked them…a lot…recently.  If there’s any kind of taco I’m happy to eat, it’s fish.  Don’t get me wrong.  It would be my worst nightmare to be served up a plate of Rubio’s fish tacos and ordered to eat!  First, it’s a chain restaurant and fast food, at that.  Second, while I understand it’s a popular place for fast (see above) fish tacos, crunch the numbers on the Original Fish Taco (2 taco plate) and you’ll devour 620 calories, 360 or which are from fat, 40 grams of fat, 50 mg of cholesterol, and 780 mg of sodium.  Which is why I make them myself.

Being able to control portion size and ingredients is a huge deal.  And, believe me, it doesn’t have to be breaded and deep-fried in artery-clogging oil to taste good.  This recipe is the perfect example of how a variety of spices and minimal oil can come together to create a mouth-watering meal without all the fat and calories that come standard at your local fast food taco joint.  This recipe went together really fast.  I made the rub ahead of time and refrigerated it for a couple of hours.  The recipe doesn’t say you need to do that, but I thought the fish had a truly developed flavor because it had been resting in the spices for a longer period of time.

The salsa was bright and lively, too.  I threw on some fresh cilantro from our garden just before serving, and gave an extra squeeze of lime juice, too.  Low-fat and delicious.  So much better than fast food.  Enjoy!

2014-02-25

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Tilapia Tacos with Fresh Tomato Salsa (recipe courtesy ActivewearUSA)

Taco Ingredients:

  • 4 tortillas
  • ½ pound tilapia fillets
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
  • ½ onion, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup sweet corn (fresh or frozen)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

Salsa Ingredients:

  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1/4 onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • Juice of half a lime
  • 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup fresh coriander
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. Combine the paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, oregano, salt and pepper in a small bowl.  Pour the herb and spice mix into a resealable plastic  bag.  Add the tilapia fillets and shake until the fish is completely covered.  Set aside to infuse with flavor.
  2. Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into a pan over medium heat and add the onion and corn.  Cook for around 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, or until the onion is soft and the corn begins to blacken.
  3. Stir in the garlic and cook for 1 minute or until fragrant.  Be careful not to scorch.
  4. Remove the tilapia fillets from the Ziploc bag and place them into the pan, using a spatula or spoon to divide the fish into bite-sized pieces as the fish cooks.  Place a lid on top of the pan and cook for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring half way through.
  5. While the fish is cooking, prepare the salsa by roughly chopping the tomatoes and onion into small pieces.  Add them to a bowl with the minced garlic, lime juice, red wine vinegar and coriander, stirring until well combined.  Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. When the fish is solid white and flaky, warm the tortillas in the oven or microwave.
  7. Divide the tilapia, onion and corn mixture evenly between them. Serve immediately with salsa for topping.

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shrimp tacos with roasted corn salsa

Tired of the same ol’ same ol’ of fish tacos?  This is a no-brainer substitution:  just add shrimp.  But you’ll find the real magic to this recipe is in the roasted corn salsa.  It was bursting with flavor and really pretty to the eye.  The original recipe called for avocado instead of tomato, but no one in my house is really a big fan of the avocado, and the tomato added lovely color to what would have been a fairly bland looking salsa.  Roasting the corn really enhanced its sweetness, and that was nicely complimented by the tanginess of the lime and the pungent cilantro.

There’s a fair amount of chopping for prep, but once you have all that finished the dish flies together pretty quickly.  The shrimp cook rapidly, so pay close attention otherwise they’ll be chewy and overdone.  It’s a perfect recipe for weeknight dinners when you don’t have a lot of time to slave over the stove, too.   I’ll definitely be putting this one in the rotation and the salsa has a lot of potential for use in other dishes, as well.

I hate to type and run, but I have to hurry off and pick up the kiddo from a friend’s house.  Let me know if you give it a try.  Enjoy!

2013-08-07

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2013-08-071

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Shrimp Tacos with Roasted Corn Salsa (recipe adapted from Cooking Light, August 2013)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup fresh corn kernels (about 1 large ear)
  • 1 teaspoon Extra Virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onions
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • Cooking spray
  • 1 pound medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 1/4 cup light sour cream
  • 8 (6-inch) corn tortillas

Directions:

  1. Preheat broiler to high.
  2. Combine corn and oil in small bowl; toss gently to coat. Arrange corn in an even layer on a jelly-roll pan; broil 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Combine corn, onions, cilantro, 1 tablespoon juice, salt, pepper, and avocado in a medium bowl; toss gently.
  3. Heat a large grill pan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Combine shrimp, 1 tablespoon juice, and honey in a medium bowl; toss to coat. Add shrimp to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.
  4. Combine sour cream and remaining 1 tablespoon juice in a small bowl.
  5. Warm tortillas according to package directions. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates. Top each tortilla with about 1/4 cup corn mixture, about 4 shrimp, and 1 1/2 teaspoons sour cream mixture.

plated_tacos©zouptonuts

parmesan crusted tilapia

While putting this post together I realized we eat an awful lot of tilapia.  In fact, in 2012, the U.S. imported about 500  million pounds of it.  That’s a lot of fish considering tilapia is generally considered, despite being high in protein and low in fat, to offer the least return on investment if you’re trying to eat more Omega 3s.  For example, salmon has 10 to 15 times the amount of Omega 3 fatty acids as a serving of tilapia.

Overall, though, a serving of tilapia will go a long way in replacing a cheeseburger and fries in terms of healthy choices.  The key seems to be to rotate your fish selections to make sure you’re getting enough Omega 3s, and make sure you know the source of the fish.  Generally, if you’re eating farm raised tilapia (which seems to be about all that’s out there), U.S. farm raised is superior.  An article I read came down pretty hard on farm raised tilapia from South America and China, noting the lack of aquaculture regulation and poor habitat conditions.

On that note, a tilapia recipe.  Honestly, I do serve it a lot for the reasons noted in almost every article I read:  it’s plentiful, relatively inexpensive, easy to cook, and has a neutral taste – which is especially important if you’re cooking for kids who have…sensitive noses?  But I’ve also enlightened myself a little bit about broadening the types of fish I’ll serve to make sure we’re fully benefiting from the addition of more fish in our diet.  So, find yourself U.S. sourced fish and pop an Omega 3 supplement after dinner, because this recipe was a keeper.  Or, try it with halibut, walleye, or whitefish (can you tell I’m a Great Lakes girl?).

Calling this recipe  “crusted” was a bit of a stretch.  This really is more of a sauce, but an additional sprinkling of parmesan a few minutes before the fish is finished under the broiler might give it a bit more crunch.  Nonetheless, the end product was really flavorful.  It was quick to prep, making it perfect for a mid-week meal when most families find it hectic to sit down for dinner.  I served it with some broiled asparagus and a side of pearl couscous and the grown ups gave it two thumbs up.  I’m still working on expanding the culinary horizons of the little one, though…slowly and steadily.  Enjoy!

2013-05-06

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Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened (I used less)
  • 3 Tbsp mayonnaise (I used Reduced Fat Mayo with Olive Oil)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 tsp dried basil
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp onion powder (I used 1 tsp fresh onion, finely minced)
  • 1/8 tsp celery salt
  • 2 pounds tilapia fillets
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Directions:
  1. Preheat broiler.  Line baking pan with aluminum foil.
  2. In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper, onion powder and celery salt. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes.
  4. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

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Cook’s Note:  Reduce the butter.  You don’t need that much.  I think I used a little less than 3 Tbsp.  Also, I’d suggest heavy duty foil to line the baking pan to resist tearing with the spatula when you flip the fish.

beef and lentil sloppy joes

First off, I’m going to apologize for posting two sandwich recipes in a row.  Generally, I like a little more variety in my rotation than that.  But these just…happened.  And they were too good not to share.

Second, this recipe sort of just happened after a conversation with the husband about buns, and how bad buns can spoil the whole….sandwich experience.  (You see now why my mom always liked to call them rolls).  Anyway, in a rush through Target a couple of weeks ago, I picked up a package of their Market Pantry brand hamburg buns.  Wow!  What a huge mistake.  If ever there were Worst Buns Ever competition, that’d be the winning bun!  They were flimsy, flavorless, flaccid, and forgettable.  Not that the bun (roll – sorry, Mom) needs to knock your socks off.  But to hold up to sandwich fixin’s with any sort of juicy, gravy, or sauce, well…flimsy, flavorless and flaccid won’t cut it.

Not that this post is about buns.  Ahem…rolls.  Just saying, if you make these, select a better quality bun.  Oh, and a skim coat of butter and a little time under the broiler doesn’t hurt, either.

So, on to the real reason for this recipe:  it just sounded good.  My husband had his cholesterol checked a while back and, despite my predominantly healthy cooking choices, it was still elevated.  With exercise and supplements, he’s been able to get it in to a healthier range, but it made me ever more mindful of how food choices (especially if you’re pre-disposed to high cholesterol) are so very important.

What attracted me to this recipe in the first place was the lentils.  They’re a super source of protein, inexpensive to purchase, easy to cook, and provide a whole host of health benefits.  You can read more about lentils here at Whole Living and Alive, but if you’re not including more lentils in your diet, you really should give them a try.  Adding them to Sloppy Joes is just an act of pure genius!  The original recipe actually used lentils as a replacement for the beef, but I followed the adapted recipe, then made a minor change of my own to adjust the seasoning for my sometimes picky eater.   After having tried them (they were delicious), I think completely replacing the beef with lentils would be a perfectly acceptable way to go for a truly meatless dish.

As you can see, my little Sous Chef was helping me cook dinner that evening.  We only had one minor disaster!!  Yikes!  Thankfully, the tomato sauce was right out of the can and wasn’t hot when it sloshed over the edge of the pan.  We decided that one might have gotten us downgraded on Worst Cooks in America!!  The end product, though, was really good.  Lots of flavor, even without the chili powder, and great texture.  Next time I might actually try them without the beef.  Enjoy!

2013-05-03

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Beef and Lentil Sloppy Joes (recipe adapted from One Ordinary Day)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked green lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • ½ lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 medium yellow onion, diced small
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 3 Tbsp chili powder (I left this out completely, but 3 Tbsp is just way too much chili powder: adjust according to taste)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 15 oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 c tomato paste
  • 3 Tbsp brown sugar or maple syrup
  • 1 Tbsp yellow mustard
  • burger buns or sandwich rolls

Directions:

  • Place lentils in a sauce pot with the 4 cups water. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and and simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.  Drain and set aside.
  • When the lentils are about halfway cooked, heat a large saute pan over medium heat. Saute ground beef until crumbled but not fully cooked through.  Add the onion and saute until beef is no longer pink. Add garlic and saute about one minute.  Add the cooked lentils, oregano, and salt and mix.
  • Add tomato sauce and tomato paste and combine…gently.  Cook for about 10 minutes and then add brown sugar and mustard.  Stir until well blended.
  • Reduce heat to lowest setting and let the favors come together for about 10 minutes.
  • Serve on broiled or grilled buttered rolls.

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Cook’s Notes:  Easily adaptable to a completely vegetarian meal.  I think these would be just as delicious with only lentils and no beef.