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…

RECIPE: Nutty, Fruity Granola

They say “You are what you eat” … and you know what that means: I’m nutty and fruity!!!

That being said, here’s how I made my special granola…

I preheated the oven. I chopped some nuts. I got out every last mini dish I had in the kitchen… and I lined up all my ingredients.

The coconut flakes got toasted…

And set aside to cool, looking all toasty and scrumptious…

Next? I got the oat mixture into the oven after mixing together the oats, agave nectar, water, oil and sugar…

I spread it out on a baking sheet… and slid it into the hot oven. I closed the oven door and waited to smell the amazingness that is homemade granola.

The nuts and seeds? They got toasted in a little smidge of butter in a big ol’ skillet. I melted a pat of butter (or maybe it was two) in a skillet over medium-low heat and cooked the raw taste out of the nuts.

Depending on how many nuts and seeds you have in that skillet (and the size of the nuts) this will take between 10-15 minutes.

I added the flax seed in the last 3-5 minutes… they are very tiny and don’t need much cooking time…

I transferred the nuts and seeds to a large bowl to await the toasted oat mixture. Once they had cooled slightly (waiting was the hardest part) I added the oats, coconut and dried fruit to the nut/seed mixture.

It’s so simple… you can do this too! ENJOY!!! But let me warn you, you might want to make sure you have enough of these ingredients to make a second batch… because it’s so tempting that it will go faaaassst!!!

You might even want to make sure you have yogurt on hand so you can enjoy while the granola is still warm…

Or you can just put some in a little dish and carry it with you around the house, munching on it all along the way. That’s what I did…

Just call me nutty (and fruity)!!!

Now… go make your own! And quit judging me…

Nutty, Fruity Granola
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

½ cup sweetened flaked coconut
2 cups old-fashioned oats
¼ cup canola oil
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons water
¼ stick butter
¼ raw pecan halves, chopped
½ cup shelled pistachios, chopped
¼ cup pine nuts
¼ cup sunflower seeds (roasted/salted is ok)
2 tablespoons flax seed
½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
Pinch kosher salt/black pepper
¼ cup dried cranberries
¼ dried/chopped apricots

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spread coconut on rimmed baking sheet; toast until light brown. Stir occasionally; about 6-8 minutes. Set aside to cool.

In large bowl mix together oats, canola oil, agave nectar, sugar and water. Spread in thin layer on baking sheet. Bake until oats are golden brown, stirring occasionally; about 20-25 minutes (or to your personal liking). Set aside to cool.

In large skillet, over medium-low heat, melt butter in large skillet. Add chopped pecans and pistachios, pine nuts, sunflower/pine/pumpkin/flax seeds. Cook until nuts are golden, stirring occasionally (about 10-15 minutes). Sprinkle with pinch of kosher salt and black pepper, toss well. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

In large bowl mix coconut, oats, nuts/seeds, and dried fruit. Store in airtight container. Consume within 1 week.

Serving suggestions: Serve granola over yogurt, with fresh fruit, etc.

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: Corn and Black Bean Salad

If you know me, you know how grumpy I get in the heat of the summer. However, THIS salad makes it all better! Seriously, it’s all better now…

The salad tastes great, comes together quickly and can be made from items in your own garden (if you’re into gardening, of course)… here’s where I started.

Corn, black beans, sweet red pepper, red onion, cilantro, canola oil and some seasonings for the viniagrette.

I start by mixing together the viniagrette… lime juice, canola oil, onion powder, ground cumin, kosher salt/pepper and at the last minute I also decided to add some dried oregano.

Then I added the red onion to the viniagrette so it could sit for about 15 minutes. I prefer the red onions to be “pickled” a little… letting them sit in the viniagrette for a bit tames them down a bit, just to perfection. But it’s here that I also added a few teaspoons of our favorite hot sauce.

After 15 minutes or so I added the corn, black beans, sweet red pepper …

Oh yeah, and the cilantro… and then it sits for another 30 minutes or so…

This time we served it up with our “house grilled chicken”… yummy! Make this salad this summer … your loved ones will love you more for it!

Corn and Black bean Salad
Recipe courtesy Lori Tisdale

2 cups frozen corn
1 can (14 oz) black beans, drained and rinsed
1 sweet red pepper, finely diced
½ red onion, finely diced
¼ cup cilantro, diced
2 limes, juiced
2 teaspoons hot sauce
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
pinch onion powder
1 tablespoon cumin powder
Salt/pepper to taste

In a large bowl make vinaigrette by whisking together lime juice, hot sauce, oil and spices. Add red onion and mix well; set aside. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes.

Add corn kernels, black beans, red pepper and cilantro. Mix well. Allow to sit for another 30 minutes or so, for the tastes to marry. Salt/pepper to taste before serving.

enjoy your time in the kitchen…

RECIPE: Peach Sangria

Oh, how I love sangria!!! (why don’t I make it more often?!)

And I’m glad you’re here reading about it… because there’s a few things you need to know about sangria… it’s GOOD, GOOD, GOOD!!! Oh also, it’s a great way to utilize excess fruit, the rest of the wine in a bottle that may not get consumed for a few days, and it can either be “red” or “white”.

This is what I started with … a pitcher, a dry white wine, peach schnapps, peaches and simple syrup (not pictured here).

First, pour the whole bottle of wine into the pitcher…

Next, add 1/4 to 1/2 cup peach schnapps… or another complimentary flavor like Grand Marnier…

Next peel your nice fresh peaches, cut them up and add them to the pitcher… I used 5 for this pitcher. (I could have also added diced mango or orange slices too… but there’s always next time!)

And did I forget to tell you about the simple syrup?

I make my simple syrup extra sweet… with a ratio of 2 cups sugar to 1 cup water. Bring it to a boil, stir well until it becomes a clear liquid… and allow to cool for a bit before using.

When the simple syrup has cooled a bit you can add 1/4 to 1/2 cup simple syrup to the pitcher… to taste. I added 1/4 cup and it was just sweet enough for me…

And here’s the last 2 things you need to know about sangria… 1) make it the day before you plan to partake. The flavors “marry” a bit more the longer they sit. And 2) The last glass poured out of this pitcher is the best drink of the whole deal. So serve your guests first… that’s what a good hostess would do! RIGHT?!

Oh yeah, how could I forget… the last thing you need to know is that when I serve up my sangria I top the glass off with a few dashes of sparkly water, er fizzy water. It’s just THAT much more refreshing…

How do YOU like sangria? Fizzy? Red? White?

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…

Final steps for homemade Limoncello

Yes, we finally have limoncello! (And also grapefruit liqueur…don’t forget about that one!)

If you have time, check out my previous post for Steps 2 and 3 (also within that post is the link to Step 1): Steps 2 and 3 to homemade limoncello

And nooowww (drumroll please) we are ready to unveil the goodness that is this my pride and joy this summer…

Bottle on the left is the grapefruit liqueur
Bottle on the right is the limoncello

Here are the steps I took to finalize this long, long process…

– I strained the liquid one last time
– I found appropriately sized bottles for storing the liqueur
– I placed the bottles in the freezer
– Approximately 3 hours later I got them out of the freezer and poured a shot of each. Yes, a shot of each…

(The only other thing I need to do is create a label for the bottles… still working on a snazzy name brand. “Lori’s Limoncello”? Seems to fall flat… any other ideas out there?)

But back to the tasting… I was pleasantly surprised at how smooth and fresh and sweet and PERFECT they were! (In fact I could barely tell the difference between the homemade and the store bought version I’ve been sipping on for the past several years!) All by themselves they are great to sip on… but I’ve also discovered that I LOVE the limoncello this way: Heatwave Lemonade

And I’m working on a grapefruit martini (well, not at this exact moment… after all, it’s not even 5:30 am… you know what I mean!) Stay tuned for more on that beverage…

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: Tangy & Sweet Fruit Dip

This is THE perfect dip for a large fruit platter. Being strawberry season and all … it’s the perfect time to post this.

Here’s what I do for fruit dip… a cup of sour cream and 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar. Whisk it into submission (aka “until all powdered sugar is dissolved”) and give it a taste. If you like it sweeter add another 1/2 cup powdered sugar.

The sour cream makes it tangy. The powdered sugar sweetens it up… and it’s just heavenly. It’s like the perfect combination!

So, so, soooo good! You can also add a drop of vanilla extract or lemon zest, etc. Top it with a pinched off mint blossom… OR just dunk a strawberry in it and enjoy it as is…

This dip is also great served over blackberries or blueberries, to dip pineapple in, etc…

Sure there are healthier options than sour cream and powdered sugar… so have at it (like yogurt and honey)…

Get creative. Be your own chef. But promise me one thing: eat your fruit! It’s good for you…

(Yes, I double dipped… don’t judge me. It’s my own kitchen and I rule here!)


enjoy your time in the kitchen…