Eating is a necessity. However, we choose what to eat. The choices we make reveal a great deal about us. The food you eat can tell quite a bit about your heritage, your family, your fears, your sense of adventure, your attitude toward yourself and others, and a myriad of other personal tidbits to anyone paying attention. Everything about eating is a glimpse into your soul.

I hope to reveal a little bit about myself to you through my food. I enjoy cooking. I enjoy eating. I find pleasure in bringing pleasure to others. I hope that by sharing my recipes I bring you a little bit of joy.

Cook my food. Feed it to the people you love.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Parmesan Potato Crusted Tilapia

Instant potatoes are not good for making mashed potatoes; they are bland and mealy.  They are however useful for thickening soups, as a filler in meatloaf, a good addition to crab cakes, for making homemade gnocchi and for breading.  I tried using them to coat tilapia fillets.   Success! 

Servings: 4-6
Time:  Prep: 10 minutes   Cooking:  12-14 minutes

Hardware:  Measuring spoons and cups, a fork, 2 large shallow bowls**, non-stick foil, a baking sheet, a large spatula

  • 1 cup instant potato flakes
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • S&P to taste
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 pound tilapia fillets
  • Cooking spray
Crispy, crunchy joy!
  1. Preheat the oven to 450°.
  2. Rinse the fish in clean water and pat dry.  Cut into serving sizes. Liberally salt and pepper.
  3. Mix the potatoes, crumbs, cheese, and seasonings in a bowl.
  4. Beat the egg and yogurt together in the other bowl.
  5. Line the baking sheet with foil and spray with cooking spray.
  6. Dip each fillet into the yogurt mixture, then into the crumb mixture.
  7. Place the fish onto the prepared baking sheet.  Spray lightly with cooking spray.
  8. Bake the fish for 7 minutes and then turn with the spatula.
  9. Bake for 5-7 minutes on the second side depending on the thickness of the fillets.  Be careful to not over cook the fish.  It is done when it is opaque and flakes easily.
Serve with risotto, steamed veggies, and garlic bread. Offer your guests lemon caper butter sauce.    

**I save aluminum pie plates for this.  They are the perfect size and when it is time to clean up, I just toss the whole mess into the trash.

Lemon Caper Butter Sauce

This sauce is perfect as a condiment with fish, shrimp, crab cakes, or even baked chicken. Double the recipe and toss over angle hair pasta for an easy but impressive side dish.  

Servings:  ¼ cup
Time: 5 minutes
Hardware:  Measuring cups and spoons, a zester, spoon, a saucepan

  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter (½ stick)
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 tablespoons capers, drained and rinsed (buy tiny capers)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • A pinch of kosher salt
  • 2 grinds of fresh cracked pepper.
  1. Crush the garlic, zest and juice the lemon
  2. Over medium heat melt the butter in the sauce pan.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients except the salt and pepper.  Simmer for 2 minutes.
  4. Salt and pepper to taste.  Serve right away.
I whipped this up to top my Parmesan Potato Crusted Tilapia. Yum!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Shrimp and Grits

Shrimp and grits are a Southern favorite.  I have eaten them in Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, Louisiana, and both the Carolinas.  Each place adds their own twist to the dish, but the basic recipe is the same.  Here I offer you my version, an amalgamation of all the shrimp and grits I have experienced in my life time. Purist will tell you not to use quick grits, but because I use quick grits this is really fast, and in my opinion just as good.

Servings: 4-6
Time: Prep 15 minutes, cooking 20
Hardware: knife and cutting board, measuring spoons and cups, a sauce pot with a lid, a skillet, and a plate covered with a paper towel, and a wooden spoon, serving bowls

  • 4 pieces of bacon
  • 4 oz fresh mushrooms (½ cup sliced)
  • 4 green onions (¼ cup sliced) + 1 onion for garnish (Use the green and white parts)
  • 2 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 1 pound (31-35 count) shrimp (You can usually buy these from your fish monger already cleaned)
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • ½ cup quick grits
  • ½ cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 tablespoons of cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • S&P
This dish started as breakfast for fisherman in the Low Country
off the coast of South Carolina and North Florida.
Now it is a great dinner for you!
  1.  Dice the bacon.  Fry the bacon in the skillet on medium high until it is crisp.  Put it on the paper towel covered plate to drain.
  2. Put the chicken broth on to boil in the sauce pot.
  3. While waiting for the water to boil, wash the mushrooms and green onions.  Pat dry and slice.  Peel and crush the garlic.  Rinse the shrimp. Set aside. (Remember to save some onion for garnish.)
  4. When the broth has begun to boil slowly stir in the grits.
  5. Allow the grits to return to a boil, stirring the whole time.
  6. Reduce the grits to low, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.  Stir often.
  7. Remove the grits from the heat and stir in the cheeses and butter. Keep warm.
  8. Over medium heat sauté the onions, garlic, and mushrooms in the bacon fat.  Cook for 3-4 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to release their liquid.  Stir in the lemon juice and add the shrimp and pepper flakes.  Cook for 3-5 minutes or until the shrimp are cooked through.
  9. To plate, put grits in serving bowls.  Divide the bacon up evenly in the bowls.  Top the bacon with the shrimp mixture.  Garnish with green onion.  Salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Serve immediately.