RECIPE: Fish Tacos

Mmmm…. fish tacos!!!  There is no better summer dinner. None…
Here’s where I started… mahi mahi, corn tortillas, a green onion or two, cilantro, cabbage and the amazing Southwest Dressing…
Oh yeah… and you must, must, must use the Liquid Gold aka the garlic-infused olive oil … promise me you’ll keep this on hand in your kitchen.  You won’t regret it!
Here’s the quick run down on how the Lite Southwest Dressing is made… greek yogurt, cayenne pepper, cumin powder and chili pepper.
Several dashes of chili powder, a dash or two of cumin powder and a pinch of cayenne pepper…
And some kosher salt and black pepper…
Mix it together.  Taste to see if it needs anymore kosher salt (it probably does) or black or cayenne pepper.  Just make this to your own tastes.  You can’t go wrong with this… and whatever is left over can simply go in a container in the refrigerator for several weeks (just like the yogurt).
Next attack those greens… cabbage (sliced rather thin), green onions, cilantro…
Line ’em up where they will await their final calling in life…
Next is the fish… add about a tablespoon of garlic-infused olive oil to the skillet and bring it up to HOT!  Then add the salted/peppered fish to the skillet and let it cook through, turning over half-way through.
While the fish is cooking you can throw the tortillas on a griddle to warm up a bit, on medium heat… turning over once they bubble a bit.  Don’t let them get too crispy… they’ll just crack in half when you use them.  And you don’t want that to happen…
Once the fish is done you can remove it to another flat surface cut into strips…
Then the assembly process starts…  line up your warmed tortillas, schmear them with a touch of Southwest dressing, topping them with a couple slices of fish…
Then add the cabbage, green onions and cilantro… and be prepared…
to enjoy a really yummy (and rather healthy) dinner!!!
We typically serve these up with a small side dish:
sharing a can of clam chowder
corn on the cob
black bean soup
there really are so many options…
the only thing that ISN’T an option is making these tacos…
enjoy your time in the kitchen…

WRAPS: His and Hers

Just as summer is coming to an end, I realized I hadn’t yet posted one of our staple summer dinners…

Wraps… we make “his” and “hers” versions of our mediterranean chicken wraps. How easy can THAT be?!

But first I’ll start with the low-cal dressing that goes on so many dishes in our house… it is adapted from a chain brewhouse-type restaurant. Instead of a mayo/sour cream base, I use 0% fat Fage yogurt to keep the calories down.

Low-Cal Southwest Dressing
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

1 cup Fage 0% yogurt
1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin powder
Healthy pinch of cayenne pepper
Pinch kosher salt/black pepper

Whisk together. Give it a taste; add more cayenne or salt, if needed.

The grilled chicken gets cut into long strips…

The tortilla (aka wrap) gets thrown on the griddle real briefly to warm it up, on both sides…

Then the low-cal Southwest Dressing gets gets smeared on the slightly warmed sun-dried tomato wrap…

Then the rest of the to0pings-of-choice get placed atop the dressing… I chose lettuce, red onion, red bell pepper strips, chicken, havarti cheese and arugula. Mmm mmm good!

Cut it in half… and you’ve got an entire meal right there!

And for his… (he likes different toppings)…

Same wrap. Same dressing, lettuce, red onion, red pepper strips… but he prefers mozzarella cheese and some New Zealand spinach…

Oh! I forgot one more important thing… wrap it tightly and place back on the griddle for about 45 seconds, seam side down. This will help to hold the tortilla together at the seam.

There ya go… this meal earns major points, in my book!
– It’s quick and easy.
– It doesn’t require heating up the whole kitchen (which is a plus during the hot summer).
– It can be easily customized for each person.
– It can be easily wrapped up and taken with you.
– It makes for fantastic leftovers.

These wraps are just fantastic for easy summer livin’… and life is good!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Another fav, another panini…

It’s summer… and you know what that means. It means we have bruschetta. And bruschetta ingredients + summer = panini.

So this version of “bruschetta” will be in the form of a sandwich. To do so we need a panini pan, bread, basil pesto, tomato and mozzarella cheese.

I started off by heating up the panini pan and then buttering the bread.

And for the pesto? In my opinion, the best basil pesto comes in a jar from Trader Joe’s. I would prefer to only use this pesto for the rest of my life. ‘Nuf said… So I went ahead and slathered a good deal of basil pesto on the inside of one of the slices of bread…

Then I sliced the mozzarella and tomato into a few pieces…

And I started layering the sandwich together right on the hot panini pan…

Buttered side of bread face down

Cheese slices

Tomato slices

Last slice of bread, slathered with pesto (buttered side up)

My panini pan is the kind that has a cast iron lid that you place on top of the sandwich.

I placed the lid on top of the sandwich and pressed down… after a few minutes I turned the sandwich 90 degrees and let it continue to cook. Turning it will create that cross hatch mark on the bread that looks so yummy!

After a few minutes I turned the sandwich over and let it cook on the other side too. (Note – some electric panini pans conduct heat on both sides. In this case you wouldn’t have to turn the sandwich over.)

When the sandwich is done cooking I remove it to a cutting board and let it rest for a minute or two… just to let the cheese cool down a bit.

And I’ll tell you right now, the waiting is truly the hardest part…

This sandwich was served up with the rest of the tomato and some tomato basil soup… life is good!!!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: An easy stir fry…

Looking for some more easy summer dishes? Here’s one that I think will be enjoyed quite often this summer! That’s because with stir fry the veggies are cooked at a super high heat, which cooks them very fast! Other than prep time you’re hardly spending any time actually “cooking”.

And I know you know that I love my short cuts… taking a short cut here we bought a frozen package of stir fry vegetables (from Trader Joe’s, but most groceries should have this). It’s chocked full of pea pods, bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, soybeans, water chestnuts, carrots and mushrooms. And then to that we added fresh broccoli. (Whick veggies do YOU use for a stir fry?)

Next we move on to making our stir fry sauce… it’s a combination of soy sauce, chicken stock, rice vinegar, red pepper flakes, corn starch and dark sesame oil (not pictured here). Oh, how forgetful am I?! I forgot to buy more when doing this post… so instead I used a touch of canola oil – and of course it didn’t quite taste the same. But it worked out alright… next time, there’s always next time.

The ingredients were whisked together in a little bowl and the corn starch added.

Here’s an interesting fact about corn starch – it thickens when it gets hot. So be prepared for the corn starch to settle at the bottom of the cute little bowl… you can whisk it up again real quick before adding it to the heat.

And we’re ready to stir fry… since stir fry is a quick process I’ve gotten in the habit of lining up all the players so they are ready for use: frozen stir fry vegetable mix, broccoli bites, and our “house chicken” (sliced/cooked – which we’ll cover in another blog post)…

Heat the oil up, over medium-high to high heat… and add those veggies. (Please note – after eating this dish I wish I would have cooked the broccoli a little more. So, the recipe below is written to let the broccoli cook for a few minutes by themselves before adding the frozen veggies.)

Isn’t that beautiful?! Yes, the pan will sizzle when the veggies are added… that’s the sound you’re looking for! You want it to be hot, hot, hot… (kind of like it is right now, outside… UNLIKE how it is as I sit inside typing away in my air conditioned house! Ahhh…. )

Keep moving the veggies around the pan, stirring/tossing frequently. They will cook for about 6-8 minutes total…

And then the sauce and the chicken is added… remember, as the sauce heats up it thickens up. It will also soak into the veggies and chicken… and it’s oh so yummy!!!

Stir it around… and when the chicken has heated through it’s ready to serve up!

We enjoy ours with brown rice, a touch more soy sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds to top it off.

Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

¼ cup chicken broth
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons cornstarch
½ teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more, to taste)
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 cups fresh broccoli, cut into small bite-size pieces (by volume)
8 ounces frozen vegetable stir fry mix (by weight)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 10 oz, cooked and sliced)

In a small bowl whisk together chicken broth, rice vinegar, soy sauce, corn starch, sesame oil and crushed red pepper. Set aside.

Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to hot sauté pan (or wok) over high heat. Add broccoli, sauté for about 2-3 minutes; tossing pan regularly to coat and evenly cook broccoli. Add the vegetable stir fry mix and continue to saute for another 5-6 minutes. (If using fresh vegetables reduce cooking time appropriately.)

Stir broth mixture one more time to make sure corn starch is completely mixed in and add to pan. Simmer for about 30 seconds; add chicken. Reduce heat and stir until chicken is warmed through

Serve with brown rice, a touch more soy sauce and a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

Recipe: Lite Tex Mex Salad

As my hero-of-a-hubby and I embark on an “eating-fresher-and-getting-healthier-in-the-process” adventure we’re finding all sorts of new food combinations, cooking methods, tasty tricks, etc… and this salad was one of the first things we discovered. It will be a staple for us through the summer…

Here’s the recipe we started with… it was originally in Eating Well magazine, but most recently featured on As you’ll notice, the recipe doesn’t include the fried tortilla… we just crumbled up a few tortilla chips on top of the salad for some extra crunch. The meat has so much flavor… so, so much flavor! What a great salad…

Tex-Mex Taco Salad

We decided to use ground turkey (obviously a leaner meat which also contains more protein by ounce and isn’t as high in cholesterol as ground beef)… and then we changed up the dressing to a lighter yogurt version.

The original Southwest Dressing post… Southwest Dressing

But NOW we are replacing the Ranch dressing with Fage greek yogurt. This reduces the calories and carbs dramatically. (And with all the extra seasonings in it you can’t even taste the difference. It’s a perfect substitution!)

Come with us as we dig deeper into the topic of nutrition and as we commit to eating fresher and being healthier!

Below is my “lite” version of Eating Well’s Tex Mex Salad recipe…

Lite Tex Mex Salad
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

½ cup prepared salsa
3 tablespoons Fage 0% Greek Yogurt
1 teaspoon canola oil
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 ounces ground turkey
1 large plum tomato, diced
1 can kidney beans, rinsed
2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
2 teaspoons chili powder, divided
Pinch cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
Kosher salt
4 cups shredded romaine lettuce
¼ cup pepper jack cheese, shredded

Make the lite southwest dressing first. Compbine Fage yogurt, 1 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp chili powder, pinch of cayenne pepper and kosher salt. Whisk together until combined. Add salsa to yogurt mixture and stir well. Set aside.

Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and pinch of salt and cook, stirring often, until onions start to turn translucent. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute or so, stirring often. Add ground meat and cook until cooked through, 4 to 6 minutes. Add kidney beans, cumin, chili powder and a pinch of salt. Stir well, lower heat and place lid on skillet. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes to ensure the beans get cooked. Remove lid, add tomato and cook for a few more minutes, until the tomato begins to break down (about 2 minutes). Remove from the heat, stir in cilantro and 2 tablespoons of the salsa mixture.

In a large bowl add lettuce and remaining salsa mixture – toss until all lettuce pieces are coated with salsa. Divide lettuce among two plates; top with the cooked meat/bean mixture, shredded cheese and a few crumbled tortilla chips.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: the BEST French Toast EVER, thank you to Alton Brown

First off, I apologize about a few blurry moments in this post… so now that you know, well you can forgive me whole-heartedly… and just keep reading.

Alton Brown swears this is the only way to make french toast correctly. And my hero-of-a-hubby would completely agree… somehow Alton Brown found the perfect combination of ingredients and cooking techniques to make an outstanding french toast. You want to make this… soon!

Following Alton’s recommendation, I started by letting the bread sit out over night. It’s amazing what a little bit of oxygen will do to some white bread. The bread dries out and it then becomes the perfect canvas for some amazingness.

What else you’ll need: eggs, honey and half + half.

Whisk it all together until it looks pretty and custard-like…

Transfer the custard to a casserole pan and set aside…

Then you can start the process of soaking the bread in the custard, about 30 seconds on each side…

Transfer the soaked bread to cooling rack, with a cookie sheet underneath it (to catch any drips). Continue on in batches, two pieces of bread at a time. Soak and drip, soak and drip.

In the meantime you can cook two pieces of bread in a saute pan with a little bit of butter, 2-3 minutes on each side (until lightly browned).

And while you’re cooking go ahead and soak up the next couple pieces of bread…

Once the first step of the cooking process is complete, transfer the french toast to another baking sheet or place directly on an oven rack. At this point they need to cook for another 5 minutes or so…

The second part of this cooking process ensures crisp edges, but tender centers. And the french toast is rich, but not heavy.

Confession time: each of these slices of french toast are layered with butter and maple syrup. Don’t judge me… just do me a favor: splurge on this! (You know you want to.)

And be prepared for your loved ones to hug and kiss you and beg for you to make more.

Serve up with your favorite brunch or breakfast items …

But most importantly a huge shout out to Alton Brown … thank you for making me look good!

French Toast
Recipe courtesy Alton Brown

1 cup half and half
3 large eggs
2 tablespoons honey, warmed in microwave for 20 seconds
¼ teaspoon salt
8 (1/2 inch) slices day-old bread or stale country loaf, brioche or challah bread
4 tablespoons butter

In medium size mixing bowl, whisk together the half and half, eggs, honey and salt. You may do this the night before. When ready to cook, pour custard mixture into a pie pan and set aside.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Dip bread into mixture, allow to soak for 30 seconds on each side, and then remove to a cooling rack that is sitting in sheet pan, and allow to sit for 1 to 2 minutes.

Over medium-low heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a 10-inch nonstick sauté pan. Place 2 slices of bread at a time into the pan and cook until golden brown, approximately 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove from pan and place on rack in oven for 5 minutes. Repeat with all 8 slices. Serve immediately with maple syrup, whipped cream or fruit.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

2 RECIPES: Alfredo Sauce and Italian Nachos

Please forgive me, for I neglected to take pictures of all the players for this post… but you can catch up easily. Come with me…

We’re going to make italian nachos… and for that we need some grilled chicken, alfredo sauce and nacho toppings. You will want to make these…

My hero-of-a-hubby and I first enjoyed these in Dallas at a Johnny Carino’s restaurant… and we fell in love, with the nachos that is (as we were already in love with each other – obviously). We were in Dallas for my brother’s wedding… and jealous they had a Carino’s and we didn’t.

Lucky us, they eventually opened a Carino’s restaurant near us in Southern California and we got to go back and enjoy it again and again… to the point that I finally started making them at home. Sadly they recently closed their location near us… but we don’t mind, I’m making my twist on our favorite Carino dishes in my own kitchen now…

Here’s how we do the italian nachos. Start with wonton wrappers, cut in half to form triangles. (I used about half a package, or 30-40 wonton wrappers for two large dinner plates of nachos.)

Once the canola oil is heated up to frying temperatures then you can start frying the wonton wrappers, several at a time. Fry until lightly browned and then flip them over. With a spider remove them to a dish lined with paper towels (to soak up any extra oil). Continue with all of the wonton wrappers until they are all fried.

While you’re working on the wonton wrappers grill up some chicken breasts. You’ll see that I cut the chicken breasts in half. They cook a bit faster this way… and that suits me just fine.

Once they were on the grill I sprinkled them with garlic salt and black pepper. They cooked for about 3 minutes on each side… once they got flipped over they cooked for about 2 minutes. Nice and fast, eh?!

In the meantime, most of the wonton wrappers are ready… every now and then I sprinkled them with some kosher salt. And then they just sat over here and waited for their nacho destiny.

In the meantime I started the quick and easy alfredo sauce. This uses a block of cream cheese, half a stick of butter, parmesan cheese, milk, nutmeg, and kosher salt/pepper.

It’s as easy as this… cube the butter and cream cheese. Place the cubes in a medium sized saucepan (over medium low heat), add milk and parmesan cheese and stir until everything is melted and smooth.

Add the kosher salt, black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste. Allow the sauce to sit over low heat, stirring every few minutes, until you’re ready to use it.

Tonight my hero-of-a-hubby was helping with the prep work… see?! There are his manly hands slicing up some cute lil’ pepperoncinis… yum!!!

And to give him a bit more credit… he also did 2 loads of dishes tonight (lucky me!), prepped most of the misc ingredients (also known as “mise en place”), manned the frying wonton wrappers, and looked over my shoulder each step of the way! We had fun doing this together tonight! (I’m one lucky girl!!!)

Lastly we begin the assembly… let’s work on the first layer of “chips”, sliced chicken, alfredo sauce and toppings of choice…

And we finish it off with just one more layer of all of these good things…

He likes only a few pepperoncinis and black olives, and no tomatoes…

But me? Load ’em up! I love the pepperoncinis, black olives, diced tomatoes… and I typically like cripier chips. So we made our own plates…

Johnny Carino’s also offered them with crumbled italian sausage, which we did not use tonight… but it only makes these nachos better. There’s always next time…

In the meantime… here’s the recipe for the alfredo… enjoy!!!

Favorite Alfredo Sauce
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

8 ounces cream cheese, cut into small squares
3/4 cup parmesan cheese, grated
¼ cup butter, cut into small squares
½ cup milk
Pinch of salt, black pepper and nutmeg

Place medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Combine cream cheese, Parmesan, butter and milk, stirring constantly until smooth. Add salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Leftovers freeze well.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Lasagna Cups

May I present to you Lasagna Cupcakes

It’s quick, it’s a great dinner party conversation piece and best of all… it’s yummy!

Here’s the short and quick of it: cut the corners off of wonton wrappers… yes, wonton wrappers. Tuck them into greased cupcake tins and then begin the normal lasagna layering process… just in much smaller quantities.

First start with the parmesan, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses… then spoon in some marinara sauce.

Add some browned meat (I used ground beef and italian sausage) seasoned with dried oregano, dried parsley and salt/pepper… followed by some more cheese and some more sauce and some more… yeah, you get the point.

Place the cupcake tin(s) into the preheated oven and let it bake away. It’s done in about 20 minutes and believe it or not they are easy to scoop up out of those tins. And they are yummy… and sure to be a crowd pleaser! (But that’s only if you want to share…)

Thank you for posting this idea just in time for this weekend’s dinner party…

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

killer homemade pizza…

I tested this out last week… the full blog post to follow the next time we have this for dinner.

What kind of pizza is this?

2/3 of this pizza is “Manly Meaty Goodness” (meatballs, bacon and pepperoni)
The other 1/3 of the pizza is girly-pesto-pepperoni yumminess…

Easiest dinner I’ve made in a long time… and my hero-of-a-hubby has transferred the “hero” title to me, at least for tonight.

Tonight we used the broiler pan (because our pizza stone recently cracked in half)… and I’m convinced that the broiler pan is just as good. The air circulates up under the crust and makes it crispy – just like we like it! LOVE IT!

Watch for the full post… within the next week, I promise!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Simple Pepperoni Calzone

This calzone is easy enough to throw together in 30 minutes and you’ll be a hero in your kitchen! Once you crack it open you smell the metled cheese, the yummy herbs that add such flavor and, and… you want to make this!

This post is to celebrate having my camera back! For the last 5 months I’ve been using an “old camera” (a semi-broken, duct-taped together older camera)… but I keep it around for posterity sake. It was my first digital camera … and it inhabits a soft spot in my heart.

THAT SAID, I’m once again getting used to this camera and feel the need to apologize for some of the blurryness (even though it’s only in a picture or two). Pardon me, just getting reacquainted after 5 months…

However, my camera issues didn’t keep me from being a hero in the kitchen tonight!

Here’s where I started: prepared pizza dough, some dried herbs, crumbled bacon, pepperoni, mozzarella and ricotta cheeses and some garlic-infused olive oil.

But first preheat your oven… to 425 degrees F.

Mix together the cheeses, herbs, bacon and a pinch of red pepper flakes (not pictured here). Toss in the crumbled bacon.

Roll out the prepared pizza dough to about 12-14 inches (on a lightly floured surface).

Note on the pizza dough: I bought it at Trader Joe’s, already prepared. It’s sold in the refrigerated section (near the cheeses). And they sell both “plain” and “whole wheat”. Tonight we went with the plain…

Pile the filling on one half of the dough (spreading it out evenly), top with pepperoni, leaving at least an inch of dough at the edge of the crust.

Drizzle with some of the garlic-infused olive oil and pull the other half of the dough over the filling.

Crimp the edges together and curl the dough under slightly.

Transfer calzone to a broiler pan and drizzle/brush on a little more garlic-infused olive oil.

Bake in a 425 degrees F oven, on a rack positioned in the middle of the oven, until it puffs up nicely and browns (about 18-20 minutes).

Remove from broiler pan with a pizza peel and allow to cool for at least 5 minutes. And it doesn’t hurt to grate some fresh parmesan over the top… right?!

Cut it into a few pieces and serve up… but more than that, ENJOY!

You’ll be the hero too!

Simple Calzone
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

2 cups grated mozzarella cheese
½ cup ricotta
½ cup bacon, crumbled
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried parsley
½ teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Red pepper flakes, pinch
handful of pepperoni (about 18-20 slices)
1 store bought pizza dough
2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F; position rack in middle of oven. Toss together mozzarella cheese, ricotta, herbs, bacon and red pepper flakes. Unroll dough onto a lightly-floured flat surface. Roll dough out to at least 12-14 inch diameter. Mound filling on one half of dough; leaving 1 inch of dough around the edge. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil and top with pepperoni. Fold dough over and crimp dough together; fold edges of dough under to create soft edge.

Transfer calzone to broiler pan or pizza stone. Bake until dough puffs and browns slightly, about 20 minutes. Brush with other tablespoon garlic-infused olive oil. Transfer to a pizza peel (or cutting board) and allow to cool for about 5 minutes before cutting into 4 pieces and serving.

NOTE TO SELF: Next time I make this use meatballs inside of this! Yum!!!

enjoy your time in the kitchen…