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Spicy Corn and Lentils

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So…I did it. I started Irish step dancing classes last Wednesday. This is very unlike me. I’m typically so self-conscious that I avoid doing anything which requires me to put my lack of skills on display. Heck, I even shy away from displays of things I’m good at. And dance?? Well, of any imaginable area of skill, I am the farthest from skilled in dance. I trip over my own feet while walking on a near-daily basis and my pinky toes are constantly throbbing from cornering too early and catching them on the edges of furniture and walls. I am a coordination mess. And yet, I’ve just signed myself up to display my unadulterated klutziness in front of fellow dance students and our skillful instructor. What in the world has come over me?? I’m becoming bold in my old age. 

But here’s the thing… For many years, I have watched Irish step dancers with an emotional mixture of admiration, awe, and regret. I stare at their coordinated feet, wishing I could go back in time to when I was about four years old and beg my parents to sign me up for lessons. I want to dance like those dancers with the very same heart-aching passion I felt just before I signed up for the culinary program at French Culinary Institute. That culinary program turned out to be one of the most soul-satisfying experiences of my entire life. It settled my urge. It took away my longing and replaced it with skills and knowledge to use and enjoy for the rest of my life.

And so, on a whim, I started this process of searching for an Irish dance school which offered classes for adult beginners. My first few inquiries came up dry. But then I got a hopeful response; an instructor who was considering starting an adult beginner class. It took a while before it became official. I was even a little relieved when I didn’t instantly hear back, since part of me would have been content to stay huddled in my turtle shell. And then I got the email. She was starting a class. Two of my lovely friends agreed to join me.

We fumbled our way through our first class. Our instructor gracefully modeled a few ‘simple’ steps and then we hurled ourselves across the room, tripping over our feet and each other. But we smiled and laughed the entire time. At one point, our instructor turned on the music as we skipped our way across the room, and with a smile plastered across my face, all I could think was We’re doing it! We’re Irish step dancing. I’m not sure anyone would have classified our movements at that point as ‘Irish step dancing’, but our instructor was generous in her praise of our clumsy maneuvers. I woke up delightfully sore the next morning. I spent the next week practicing my sweet new moves, much to the delight of my three boys who make a very eager, if not amused, audience. Last night was our second class. We fell over each other  and laughed to near tears as we put our new moves together into a dance. I already feel that satisfying calming feeling that culinary school gave me.

Another benefit to this grand adventure is that it’s reinvigorated my motivation for regaining my pre-three-babies-in four-years figure. I’ve watched myself practice my dance moves on video. It’s not pretty. I long to be lean, controlled, and lighter on my feet, rather than the bouncing, clobbering elephant I’m currently channeling. I’m refocused and ready. Summer weather certainly adds to the motivation too!

Recently, I ran across a slideshow of twenty weight loss super-foods. Foods were selected for their abilities to increase metabolism, satisfy hunger, build muscle, and decrease fat. Several of the foods were practically begging to be married together in a sort of miracle weight-loss dish. Inspired by this list of weight loss super-foods, I came up with these spicy lentils and corn served with grilled cedar-plank wild salmon. Now, I have no research to prove that this harmonious marriage of flavors will actually result in a thinner waistline, but at the very least, they will make your mouth and belly quite happy.

This tasty dish combines lentils, corn, olive oil, sardines, chipotle chile peppers, and wild salmon. Don’t be afraid of the sardines. There are just enough in this recipe to add a savory umami (the fifth taste) flavor that really complements the spicy chipotle and sweet corn. Their fine texture practically melts into the dish, adding a subtle layer of savory goodness. Be bold, give ’em a chance. And click on over to SELF’s slideshow for more info on each of these super-food’s super-slimming powers!

Do you have something you always wished you’d done? Why not give it a try? There’s no time like today!

Spicy Corn and Lentils (with Wild Salmon)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup sweet corn kernels (frozen or fresh), cooked
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/8 cup boneless sardines, shredded
  • 1/8 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from a can of chipotles in adobo), chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
  • Salt (about 1/4-1/2 teaspoon)

For the Salmon:

  • 4 wild salmon fillets
  • Olive oil
  • Salt
  • Chile Powder
  • Parsley

Directions

Cook lentils in water with a pinch of salt, according to package directions. (Cooking time will vary depending on the color/type of lentils. I used green lentils which simmered for 30-35 minutes. Other lentils may require more or less time. Cook until tender, but not mushy.) Toss the cooked corn kernels with the lentils.

In a small pan, heat the olive oil over medium/medium-low heat. Add the sardines, onion, and chipotle. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are tender. Add the parsley. Toss the mixture with the lentils and corn. Taste and season with salt, as desired.

For the salmon: Rub the fillets with olive oil. Season with salt, chile powder, and parsley. Grill on a soaked cedar plank* over indirect heat or broil until cooked.

*Look for cedar planks near the grilling supplies at your local grocery store or Target. Soak the planks in water for at least an hour before using. Place the salmon on the planks. Preheat your grill at medium heat. Ideally, arrange the planks on your grill so they are not directly over the heat. Grill with the cover closed until cooked through.

Makes 4 Servings

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Fishy Friday – Lenten Round-Up

The kids have been home from school this week for their mid-winter break, which I’m now convinced is some sort of cruel joke on parents. I mean, seriously…whose idea was it to schedule a week off from school in the middle of winter, leaving me stuck inside with three very loud, very active, and very needy children?? I’ve been jumping through hoops all week trying to keep everyone sufficiently content, which has left little time for things like thinking or writing…hence the lack of blog posts this week. Even now, as I attempt to type, the baby is grabbing at my fingers, while the other boys are playing a game which seems to center around making an unusually loud and abrasive growling sound.

This morning I took the boys to meet up with some friends at  a local bounce house, followed by lunch (which turned into second breakfast, since we vacated the bounce house sooner than planned) and ice cream at Friendly’s. It was a feeble attempt to encourage the kids to burn off some of their excess energy so that I had a small chance of a calm afternoon. Though I think the ice cream may be working against my plans. Ugh…this parenting thing is hard!

New recipes coming up next week, but for now here’s a round-up of fishy recipes, which may come in handy for any of you who are observing meat-free Fridays during lent.

Pan-seared Scallops with Pina Colada Salsa and Coconut Rice

Pan-seared Cod over Bean and Basil Puree

Creole Fish Tacos

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

Asian-style Fish Tacos

Lobster Pot Pie

Lobster BLT Sandwiches (skip the bacon)

Salmon, Cucumber, and Orzo Salad

Codfish Cakes

Shrimp Scampi Flatbread Pizza (and last year’s Lenten recipe round-up!)

Roasted Chili-Garlic Chickpeas

My baby has entered the period of development I refer to as the crash-helmet phase. This is the period of time where I’m inclined to swaddle my children in bubble wrap and coat everything else in cotton balls. Would that be so weird? He’s learned how to stand now, but his balance is poor and he forgets that he needs to hold on for support. He often gets so excited by his new skill that he throws his hands wildly outward in a grand gesture of success, which usually results in propelling his little body backwards. Oh, and he climbs. Things which were never meant to be climbed. Like his older brothers or the dog. That rarely ends well.

His sweet little head is already peppered with pale yellow bruises. Seriously, do you think people would laugh if I wrapped him in bubble wrap? He’s just too stinkin’ cute to be bruised. What if I just turned down the heat and dressed him all day in his puffy winter coat? It won’t be long before he’s chasing his brothers around the house. Everything always seems to happen so fast from this point.

Good thing I’ve gotten back to my running lately, since I’m going to need strong legs to keep up with all of the active little men in my life. You may assume that running is part of my New Year’s weight loss plan, but it’s actually quite the opposite. I don’t run to lose weight (though I certainly hope it will help). Running makes me feel capable and confident. I yearn to be leaner and swifter, so I can glide through my runs with more grace than the current charging-rhino thing I’ve got going on. I’ve got my eye on running the Disney half-marathon someday. Becoming a better runner is one of the driving forces behind my desire to lose the weight. Lose weight, run better…double win!

If you’ve been following this blog over the past month, you know that I’ve been following the South Beach diet in order to shed some of the extra weight I’ve been carrying around since having my third little love. I’ve been at it for a month now, with only a few little ‘cheats’ and I’ve already lost 12 pounds. The diet basically comes down to eliminating refined carbs and focusing on lean proteins, fresh produce, and whole grains. It’s clean eating, which is an idea I can stand behind! Eliminating refined, sugary foods keeps your blood sugar levels stable, which in turn drastically cuts down on the insatiable cravings for naughty things. That works for me.

But though my hunger and cravings are kept at bay on this diet, I still have that afternoon urge to snack like I haven’t eaten in years. It’s more of a comfort mechanism than a hunger thing, usually corresponding with the time of the day when all three boys are tired, cranky, and stir-crazy…the ‘magic hour’ which falls sometime between lunch and dinner and usually fools me into thinking I’m ravenous. So, I need to keep my house free of my most tempting snacks (I’m talkin’ about you, Cheez-its) and well-stocked with more nutritious, but equally satisfying options, like these roasted chickpeas. I can pop a hundred of these little babies and still feel good about the way I’m satisfying my snackiness with loads of nutritious protein and fiber! The hardest part is trying not to eat the whole batch!

Roasted Chili-Garlic Chickpeas

Ingredients

  • 2 (15.5-ounce) cans chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Drain the cans of chickpeas, then rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Arrange the chickpeas in a single layer on a baking sheet. Drizzle with the olive oil and seasonings, then shake the pan to evenly coat all chickpeas. Place the baking sheet on the middle oven rack and bake for 25-40 minutes, until as crispy as desired. (25 minutes should produce a crisp exterior with a more tender center. 40 minutes will produce a crunchier result.)

Enjoy warm or at room temperature. Makes a great addition to salads too!

Leftover roasted chickpeas sprinkled over mixed green salad with broiled salmon

Diet Day: 31   Weight Loss: 12   Motivation: Rejuvenated! Hit a plateau, but the scale seems to be moving again!

Pan-Seared Cod over Bean and Basil Puree

I find that with each successive child, we make more and more compromises in how we handle parenting decisions. It’s a survival mechanism, born out of necessity as we’ve become outnumbered by small humans with fast hands and urgent needs. Or perhaps our experience with each child has simply helped us to prioritize what really matters and to let the rest go. Experience has taught us flexibility. (And appreciation for quiet and sleep.)

Our first son slept the whole night in his crib fairly early on. We read some expert books, applied a few strategies with consistency, and it happened. He was on a nap schedule that ran like clockwork. He ate organic purees and had a bath every night, right before leisurely rocking in his glider chair as we read The Giving Tree for the 100th time. This baby is lucky if he gets dunked in the bath with his brothers for a few minutes, a couple times a week. He naps exclusively in my arms and thinks our king-sized bed belongs to him. And yesterday he tried to eat a page out of the Harry Potter book my oldest son left on the floor.

Last night, I admitted to my husband that I’ve been giving the baby one Oreo a day. Pretty sure that Oreos are not on the food list the doctor gave us at his most recent check-up. But, you see, my little love doesn’t like to get put down. My normally happy baby screams when he is put down. And I mean SCREAMS! The screaming hurts my sleep-deprived ears. And some chores are just too difficult to do with a 20-pound baby in one arm. So, on the day when I handed him one of his brothers’ Oreos for a little taste, and discovered the focused, independent manner in which he tackled that cookie, a lightening bolt went off in my head. It takes him about an hour to eat half a cookie…slowly working it with his two teeth and a whole lot of baby drool, until it dissolves into mushy chocolate bits, spread all over his happy face. I’d discovered a brilliant strategy for freeing my hands in order to cook dinner and take care of my family’s ever-accumulating mountain of dishes.

Were Oreos part of my ideal parenting plan? No, not quite. Is it a parenting strategy I would advocate? Nope, can’t say it is. Is it a compromise I’m willing to make in order to get through the day with any semblance of sanity remaining? Mhmm…yes it is. So, there you have it folks…my baby is growing and thriving on breastmilk, organic purees, and one half an Oreo cookie a day.

Do I believe that he’ll be worse off from his half cookie a day? Nah…he gets enough of the good stuff to balance the daily treat. And what we all gain in Mommy’s ability to keep our home running with minimal chaos is worth the small compromise. It’s the things which really matter…like snuggles, a listening ear, and a shoulder to cry on, which we won’t ever compromise. Priorities.

While the baby is finishing his cookie, the rest of the family is eating this. (Someday the baby will too…if I can convince him that other foods are as delicious as Oreos.) Buttery, flakey, pan-seared cod, served over a flavorful bean puree and drizzled with a touch of basil oil garnish. You won’t need to convince anyone to eat their lima beans when they’re prepared like this! Skip the canned and use frozen lima beans for the freshest, most vibrant result. This bean puree would also make a fantastic dip for veggies or pita, so save any leftovers for a tasty and nutritious snack! A neutral-tasting white fish, like Pacific cod, works well for this dish, but you can easily substitute other fish, shellfish, or even chicken!

Bean and Basil Puree

Ingredients

  • 1 cup frozen lima beans, defrosted
  • 1 (15.5 ounce) can butter beans
  • 6 cloves roasted garlic*
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 25 large basil leaves (approximately)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste

*Click HERE to see my photo guide on how to roast garlic

Directions

To make the puree, drain the can of butter beans, reserving the liquid. Combine the lima beans, butter beans, roasted garlic, olive oil, basil leaves, salt and pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until smooth. Gradually add some of the bean liquid until the mixture reaches your desired consistency. (About 1/2 cup should do the trick.) Refrigerate until using. Serve slightly warmed.

Pan-Seared Pacific Cod

Ingredients

  • 2 (6-ounce) Pacific cod fillets
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Olive oil, for searing

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degress. Pat the filets with a paper towel to remove excess moisture. Heat a thin layer of olive oil in an oven-safe pan over medium/medium-high heat. Season the filets with salt and pepper. Place the filets in the hot oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes on the first side, without disturbing. (Trying to move the fish too soon may result in crumbled fish. The fish will release much easier once it has sufficiently seared.) Then, using a thin, flexible spatula, carefully flip the fillets. Cook for about a minute on the second side, then place the pan in the oven. Cook in the oven until the fish reaches an internal temperature of 130 degrees, about 5 minutes. Cook time will vary depending on the thickness of your filets.

For the basil oil garnish: Blend about 1/8 cup olive oil with about 1/4 cup of fresh basil leaves. Gently simmer the blended mixture for about 5 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature.

Cookie Puss

Creole Fish Tacos

Someday we’ll try to explain to the kids how we used to be cool. How we used to live in NYC…well, technically just outside it. Ok. It was New Jersey, but is was just across the Hudson. Mommy went to culinary school downtown after teaching preschool in Queens and daddy played bass in a rock band. After work, we used to meet up with friends in some of the city’s coolest places, like a one-time speakeasy, said to have been a favorite spot for numerous authors, poets, and playwrights, such as E.E. Cummings, William Faulkner, and Eugene O’Neill.  And in the evenings we’d hang out in underground clubs, sometimes shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Chris Robinson from the Black Crowes, as a fire-breathing (literally) band called Toilet Boys rocked the stage. For realz. And one time we even bumped into a young Katie Holmes (think Dawson’s Creek era) in a very un-Dawson’s Creek type bar.

We’ll reminisce about the time we took friends for drinks at the bar atop the World Trade Center. Or how we used to dine in restaurants where at least five different waiters catered to our every need as we enjoyed ten-course tasting menus (with wine-pairings, of course). Places where every member of the staff made a point to know you by name on your very first visit. Places where we could drop a mortgage payment on a meal, without concern for silly things like preschool tuition, college funds or diapers.

We’ll talk of the other adventures we had. Like the summer after college that we spent living in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany, waiting tables and housekeeping at a local hotel, in between jaunts to Amsterdam, Italy, and Greece, back in the days where every country had their own currency. We’ll remember the afternoons we spent hiking up the Kramer mountain and drinking big mugs of flavorful German beer in the biergarten situated halfway up the mount, as we overlooked the entire town, deciding on names for our future pets.

The kids will take one look at my mom jeans and the lone gray hair (which probably won’t be so lone by then) growing in my sloppy ponytail and fully believe we’re lying to them. We will appear too old and way too uncool to have ever done such cool stuff. Our pre-digital photographs will all have faded. And our friends, the ones who could corroborate our stories, will appear as full-of-bologna as we do. It’ll become like those stories our grandparents used to tell about walking to school in tissue box shoes. The kids will assume we are exaggerating, though our memories are clear.

I’d like to say that we’re overdue for a another big adventure. That my heart longs, just a bit, to go back to each of those times in our lives. And it does. But I suppose that parenthood is the grandest adventure of them all. I mean, we made little humans…three of them! Little people with bits of each of us, perfectly blended into three unique individuals. Three perfect little people who will grow to create their own exciting memories. Life’s adventures don’t get more awesome than that.

Our lives now are consumed by toy trains and rubber snakes. Fancy meals are made at home or enjoyed as a family at the Spaghetti Warehouse. And the last time I bumped into a rockstar, it was my four-year-old singing Nowhere Man. But it’s ok. It’s perfect, actually. There will be plenty of time for new adventures once we’re done raising our pack of tiny humans.

Our bucket list of future adventures is long. But one of the adventures on the short (more easily attainable) list, is a trip to New Orleans. It may well be our next long-weekend adventure, once the baby is weened and old enough to leave for a few days. I’ve longed for New Orleans my entire life, for reasons other than my current desire to eat and drink my way through the city. The city calls to me. I’m anxious to meet her someday (ideally during Jazzfest)!

In the mean time, I like to create meals with the flavors I envision I will enjoy when I’m there. Like these Creole-style Fish Tacos, which feature big chunks of  cornmeal-crusted catfish set atop a crisp creole slaw and drizzled in a spicy chipotle remoulade.

P.S. These tasty tacos are not on our South Beach diet. They were made a few weeks ago, in between mountains of Christmas cookies. But I’m sure you could squeeze them into any balanced diet!

Chipotle Remoulade

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 chipotle pepper (from can of chipotles in adobo)
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1 tablespoon chopped pickle
  • 1 anchovy fillet (optional, can omit)
  • 1 teaspoon dijon or brown mustard
Directions

*Run your fingers along the anchovy, as you rinse it under running water to check for and remove any larger bones. If you choose to omit the anchovie, you may want to add a dash of salt to the sauce.

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor.  Blend until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Creole Slaw

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cole slaw mix (shredded cabbage and carrots)
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon worchestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon creole mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Directions

Combine the mayo, vinegar, worchestershire, mustard, brown sugar, garlic, cayenne and salt. Taste and adjust seasoning, if desired. Toss with the cole slaw mix. Make several hours or a day ahead if possible. Refrigerate until use.

Cornmeal Crusted Catfish
Ingredients
  • 3 catfish fillets
  • 1 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/8 cup creole/cajun seasoning*
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • Vegetable oil

*If your creole seasoning is not well salted, add additional salt to the dry mixture.

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine cornmeal, flour, creole seasoning, and additional salt (optional) in a small baking dish or tray. Dip each catfish fillet into the beaten egg. Then press the catfish into the cornmeal mixture until well coated on all sides. Heat a thin layer of oil in a large oven-safe fry pan over medium/medium-high heat. Place the catfish fillets in the oil and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side, until golden and crispy. Then, place the pan into the heated oven and cook for about 12 additional minutes, until cooked through.

To compose the tacos: Place 4-6 small flour tortillas in a 375 degrees oven for a few minutes, until warm and slightly toasted. Remove the tortillas from the oven and fold in half while warm. Cut the catfish fillets into large chunks. Fill each tortilla with a generous mound of the creole slaw and several chunks of the catfish. Generously drizzle with the chipotle remoulade.

Makes 4-6 tacos

Diet Day: 10   Weight Loss: -6.5 or so   Motivation: Happily staying the course

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

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Recently, we picked up one of those Kinect sensors for the Xbox 360. We figured it would provide for some active fun for the boys during the cold, indoor winter months and even get us big kids moving a bit more to help out with our fitness goals. Some of the games in Kinect Adventures really get that heart rate pumping! And I’m waiting on my copy of Dance Central 2 to arrive, so I can totally bust out my sweet dance moves (in complete private, when nobody else is around).

The Kinect sensor is pretty amazing. And utterly frightening too. It’s got a little motorized camera which tracks and responds to your movements. If you move, the camera moves to find you. It can scan your body and create an animated version of your image on the tv…wearing the same clothes you’re wearing. Creepy. And it takes pictures of you while you play. It even responds to voice commands, like “Xbox, stop.” and “Xbox, play Golden Girls.” and “Xbox, make my dinner.”

Ok, so the Xbox doesn’t know how to make my dinner. Yet. But I’m sure that software upgrade is just around the corner. Seriously, the robot revolution is upon us. Are you prepared?

The other day, as I was trying to teach the kids not to wander aimlessly in front of other people while they’re playing with the Kinect, I found myself saying, You can’t walk in front of people because it confuses the Kinect. It’s not smart like us and it can’t figure out who it’s supposed to be tracking when there are too many people moving around.

And as soon as the words came out of my mouth, I wanted to eat them. The Xbox just heard me, questioning its intelligence. I swear I heard the little camera eye move to focus closer on me in that moment, recording and passing judgement on me as an enemy of the robot uprising. I’m doomed. I instantly started fumbling my words, trying to make my insult to the Kinect seem less degrading. I love you, Xbox. Please don’t annihilate me.

But since the Xbox is not about to prepare my meals anytime soon, I suppose that leaves me to do it… Hubby and I are still going strong with our lower carb diets. Today marks Day 8 of our diet and I’m down…drumroll, please…6 pounds!! Not a bad start, if you ask me. The weight won’t continue to come off at a rate of six pounds per week (nor should it), but it’s certainly a motivating start. The best part is that we have been dining on some pretty fantastic food this week. Like this smoked salmon and cucumber salad which is the stuff that dreams are made of. So fresh and simple. So insanely delicious!

Enjoy! (And beware. Kinect is watching.)

Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Salad

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces smoked salmon
  • 1 large seedless cucumber
  • 2-3 small tomatoes, halved and sliced into small pieces
  • 1/4 red onion, very thinly sliced
  • 2 tablespoons non-pareil capers
  • Creme fraiche, for garnish (can substitute sour cream)

For the Fresh Dill Vinaigrette:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup white balsamic vinaigrette (plus a touch more)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon fresh dill leaves, torn
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper, to taste

Directions

To prepare the vinaigrette, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, mustard, dill, salt and pepper until well combined. Cut the cucumber in half, then use a mandolin slicer or a very sharp knife to very thinly slice the cucumber, lengthwise, into ‘ribbons’. Place a mound of the cucumber ribbons in the center of each plate. Scatter the onions and tomatoes over the cucumber. Tear the salmon into small pieces and scatter over the salad. Place a larger piece of salmon in the center. Sprinkle the capers over the salad. Drizzle each salad with the dill dressing. If desired, garnish the center piece of salmon with a small dollop of creme fraiche or sour cream.

Serves 2

Diet Day: 8   Weight Loss: -6   Motivation: High!

Asian-Style Fish Tacos

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We’re having the windows in the entire house replaced this week, turning a couple of windows into doors, installing new shutters; the works. We’re ecstatic.This project has been long awaited and will be a huge improvement to our home. But due to the age of our house and New York state laws regarding the presence of lead in the paints used around the old windows, I’m required to keep the kids out of the house while the work is being done. Makes sense, but leaves me in a bit of a pickle; semi-homeless for the week with a four year old, two year old, and a two month old in tow. Oh dear!

Oh, and did I mention that we’ve got a houseful of weekend guests arriving on the last day of the window installation?? This ought to be an interesting week.

As a result of our temporary displacement, I don’t expect to be cooking or writing very much this week. We’ll be living off of the BBQ Beef Chili, Sweet Honey Cornbread, Sausage, Rapini, and Bean Ragout, and Chicken Tikka Masala I’ve got stocked in the freezer. We’ll be back to cooking once I’m allowed back into my home. In the mean time, here’s a tasty twist on fish tacos; pan-seared tilapia fillets, combined with a crisp broccoli slaw and a spicy hoisin-peanut sauce. Enjoy!

Asian-style Fish Tacos with Broccoli Slaw and Hoisin-Peanut Sauce

Ingredients

For the Broccoli Slaw:

  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 cups broccoli slaw mix (julienned broccoli, carrots, and red cabbage)

For the Hoisin-Peanut Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
  • 1/8 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon red curry paste (or Cayenne Pepper)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

For the Fish:

  • 4 tilapia fillets
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Vegetable Oil
  • 4 small flour tortillas

Directions

For the slaw: Combine mayonnaise, rice vinegar, sugar, garlic, salt, and cayenne until well blended. Add the broccoli slaw mix. Stir until combined. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, stirring occasionally to distribute the dressing.

For the sauce: Whisk together all ingredients until smooth. If preparing ahead of time, refrigerate until serving. The sauce will become thick when cooled. Warm for a few seconds in the microwave to loosen up the sauce before serving.

For the fish: Combine the flour, salt, and cayenne pepper on a plate. Press both sides of the fish fillets into the flour mixture. Shake off any excess. Heat a few tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the fish fillets into the hot oil. Cook for about 3 minutes on each side, until the outside is golden brown and the inside is fully cooked. Place on a paper towel to remove excess oil.

To assemble the tacos: Warm the flour tortillas for a few seconds in the microwave or a warm oven. Place a mound of the broccoli slaw on one half of each tortilla. Place a fish fillet into each tortilla. Drizzle with the hoisin-peanut sauce.

Makes 4 fish tacos

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