Fish Tacos

So, I have to admit that several years ago when someone told me they had fish tacos at a local restaurant it made my stomach roll. For some reason I just could not picture a fish taco. The problem was that I was trying to picture a traditional taco with fish instead of meat. Once I got a grip on the concept, I was willing to venture out of my comfort zone and give this whole fish taco thing a try. I’m so glad I did! It’s not at all like a traditional taco. It resembles a taco because of how it’s presented but what’s inside is wonderfully different. Fresh and fragrant with so many different layers of flavor. There are many ways you can make them and be adventurous with your ingredients. I suppose the number one goal would consist of three things…fresh, flavorful, and fabulous. Fabulous to me means distinct flavors and textures that make you happier with each bite. Fresh tomatoes, lime, juicy slaw, possibly a spicy pico de gallo, a perfectly fried corn tortilla and of course, moist and tender pieces of seasoned fish. You can add mango, shrimp, cilantro…change it up any way you like with your favorite ingredients.

Fish Tacos

6 Cod Fillets, or your favorite lighter flavored fish

Olive Oil, I used garlic olive oil and drizzled the fish skillet with about 4 Tbsp.

Canola Oil, about 2 cups

Corn Tortillas

Sea Salt & Pepper

For The Pico de Gallo

5 Medium Vine Tomatoes, diced small with juice and seeds

1/2 Yellow Bell Pepper, diced (traditional Pico does not contain bell pepper, but I like the color and the texture)

1/2 Red Onion, diced

About 1/2 Cup Cilantro, roughly chopped

2 Tbsp. Jalapeno Pepper, I used roasted Hot jalapeno…

1 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic, finely chopped

2 Limes, quartered

Prepare the vegetables, lime, garlic, and jalapeno. Pour into a medium bowl, squeeze lime juice into mixture, stir to combine, and refrigerate for at least an hour. The longer it sits, the better it tastes.

For The Slaw

1 Bag of Broccoli Slaw

3/4  Cup Light Mayonnaise

1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar

Pepper to Taste

A Pinch of Sugar

Whisk mayo, vinegar, pepper, and sugar until smooth. Add to broccoli slaw and toss until completely combined. Refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Pour canola oil into a large skilled about 1 inch or so up the side. You need a lot less than you think and if it gets too deep, it can be dangerous. Set aside until you start cooking the fish.

Tear off several paper towels on a plate and set aside.

Rinse and dry fillets completely. Season lightly with salt and pepper.

In a large skillet, drizzle about 4 Tbsp. of olive oil and heat on medium to medium high heat. Add fish and cook until white and flakey. This will only take about 4 minutes on each side depending on the thickness of your fish fillets. Heat the oil on medium high until it starts to ripple. If it starts to smoke it’s too hot, turn it down to medium or even medium low. It really depends on your stove. You want the tortillas to sizzle when you put them in but a medium sizzle, not too low, and not too high.

When the fish is done, remove from burner and cover lightly with a lid. Fry corn tortillas one a time, they only take about 2 seconds on each side, layer in between paper towels on a plate. I fry a lot, maybe 15 or so because I like to have leftovers for lunch the next day. I would fry about 3 per person.

When tortillas are done, layer your tortillas with slaw, fish, and Pico. Serve with a wedge of lime and sliced avocado with pepper,and a good beer.

Gluten Free Beer

Green's Gluten Free Beer

When I realized I needed to take gluten out of my diet, I just figured that it meant I wasn’t going to be able to have an occasional beer. Sad, because it pairs nicely with so many things! About a year into living without gluten, I think it was my brother-in-law who introduced me to gluten free beer. I’ve tried a few different brands and Green’s is by far my favorite. They have two other types, Endeavour Dubble Ale, and Quest Triple Ale. All of them are very good. I prefer the darker varieties so I usually setttle on the Dubble Ale or the Amber Ale. The beers are brewed at Andelot DeProef Browerij, in Lochristi, Belgium…which honestly, I think knowing that, makes them taste even better. This isn’t some watered down variety made by some of the larger brewers in the U.S. that tastes like you’re having a little bit of beer with your H2o. Their gluten-free beers are made from millet, sorghum, rice, and buckwheat, as well as classic hop varieties, they are fermented with a traditional Belgian yeast strain and bottle-conditioned. They are also vegan. They are pricey…a little over $5.00 a piece. But in their defense, their bottles are large, (1 pint), and in my opinion, worth every penny.

Hot Breakfast Cereal

I ran across this in the grocery store yesterday while I was in the cereal isle dreaming of Peanut Butter Captain Crunch, Frosted Mini Wheats, and Lucky Charms. Remember those days? When you could seemingly eat whatever you wanted and feel just fine? Sigh. Another cereal I think of a lot is Maypo. Occasionally my grandma would make that for me and it was SO good. With butter and brown sugar, and then there were her pancakes fried in a cast iron griddle with butter and chocolate chip smiley faces… I’m getting way off track now and all of the sudden rice cereal certainly pales in comparison.

But really, if you’re a fan of Cream of Wheat and you’re gluten free now, Cream of Rice is quite good. It’s not just for babies and you can top it with anything you’d like, sweet or savory. I like to make mine with almond milk and top it with dairy free butter and brown sugar or dried berries and walnuts. I use a little less cereal than the box calls for because I prefer mine a bit creamier. I’m sure there’s probably an organic, brown rice, healthier version out there, but that’s a post for another day…

Simple & Full Of Flavor

A lot of people consider chicken and salad to be a “diet” meal. Not me, and here’s why. First of all, chicken can be prepared at least one hundred different ways and I could certainly say the same for salad. If your idea of chicken and salad is steamed or heaven forbid…boiled chicken, and a plate full of iceberg lettuce, then you need to venture out into the world of flavor and variety.

My husband recently returned from a skiing trip in Utah and brought me the most wonderful olive oil and balsamic vinegars. Wonderful doesn’t even come close to explaining the intense flavors. Unbelievable would maybe be a more appropriate description. A pleasantly shocking experience. I’ve tasted quite a few vinegars and oils over the years and these by far rank in at #1. My husband tried several different varieties and settled on 3 different bottles to bring home (wrapped inside his ski boots to keep them safe). California Garlic Olive Oil, Blackberry Ginger Balsamic Vinegar, and 18-Year Traditional Balsamic. Such an incredibly thoughtful gift for a foodie like me. The creative minds at Mountain Town Olive Oil Co. certainly know their stuff. I can’t wait until we have the opportunity to head their way together so I can taste every single thing they make.

Mountain Town Olive Oil Co. Park City Utah

Yesterday I stood in the kitchen the entire day making a “Thanksgiving” feast, pie included, for our Valentine’s Day dinner. I was looking forward to something simple tonight but wanted to prepare something that would support my new gifts from my husband nicely. Something simple, but full of flavor. Every single bite I took I had to tell my husband how good it was! I’m sure he was thankful that I was enjoying his gifts, but honestly, I couldn’t stop talking about it. Right now, I have the bottles sitting next to me as I type this and things keep running through my mind like, “What else can I eat with those right now?” It’s a good thing I’m out of GF bread. But tomorrow…well, tomorrow is another day where I’m already envisioning bread, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar for lunch….

Grilled Chicken Breasts & Vegetable Salad

(This makes a large salad & 4 chicken breasts. I try to make a large salad every 4 days with different ingredients to keep in the fridge to munch on, making it easier to get our daily veggie requirements. There are 3 of us, but this meal would easily feed a family of 4 or 5 for dinner.)

4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, rinsed and dried

Olive Oil, extra virgin

Sea Salt & Pepper

Smoked Paprika

1 tsp. Oregano

1 tsp. Thyme

4 Cups Romaine Lettuce, chopped or torn

4 Cups Spinach Leaves, stems removed

1 Cup Carrots, shredded

1 Cup Mushrooms, sliced

1/2 Cup Fresh Green Beans, diced

1 Cup Broccoli, sliced small

2 Green Onions, sliced

4 Compari Tomatoes, quartered

About 1/4 Of A Goat Cheese Block, crumbled

Your Favorite Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar

Dry chicken breasts, place on plate and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with sea salt & pepper, and smoked paprika. Sprinkle with 1/2 of the oregano and thyme. Turn breasts over and repeat process. Set aside.

Prepare the romaine lettuce and spinach.

Prepare the carrots, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, green onions, and tomatoes. Pre-heat grill on medium to medium high (this will depend on how hot your grill gets).

Crumble the goat cheese.

Assemble the salad, refrigerate, and place chicken on hot grill. I like to grill mine for 7-8 minutes on each side. This ensures that they are tender and juicy.

Remove chicken from grill. And allow to rest for about 5-8 minutes.

Slice, plate the salad, add the chicken, and drizzle with your favorite olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Mixed Berry Valentine Pie

Mmmm…pie. Right up there with my top 5 all time favorite desserts. And really so much easier than most people think! I make the pie dough ahead of time and keep it in my freezer so I have it available whenever I feel like making one. This cuts way down on the work and clean up and makes having pie any time you like a cinch. This time I made a mixed berry pie, my husband’s favorite.

1 Basic Dough Recipe (This recipe makes enough for 4 large pie crusts, you will only need two, you can freeze the other two)

2 16 oz. Bags of Frozen Mixed Berries (blueberries, blackberries, and raspberries)

1 Cup Sugar

3/4 Cup GF Flour or Tapioca (Follow measurements on box..I actually prefer using tapioca instead of GF flour)

Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

Pour both bags of berries in a large glass bowl. Add sugar & flour and let sit for 1/2 hour, stirring occasionally.

While the fruit is sitting, roll out your pie crust on floured (GF) parchment paper. Assemble pie, pour berries into bottom crust and cover with top crust. Do the edges the way you prefer and decorate if you’d like. I like to brush the top crust with a mixture of 1 egg and a couple of Tbsp. of almond milk. Then I sprinkle it with raw sugar.

Cover edges with foil (or use a pie crust shield) and bake on a lined cookie sheet in a 375 degree oven for 25 minutes. Remove the foil or shield and continue cooking for another 25-35 minutes until crust is golden and berry juices are bubbling.

Cool completely before slicing.

Gluten Free Stuffing

Thanksgiving dinner is my all time, number one, favorite meal. My grandma cooked the most amazing Thanksgiving dinners that I have ever had, hands down. A perfect turkey and stuffing every single time, some years she even cooked a ham and a turkey, every side dish you could imagine, delicious rolls slathered with butter, the absolute best giblet gravy, apple pie, pumpkin pie, she even buttered and cinnamon and sugared the leftover pie crust so we could snack on it. Exactly the same every single year, which is just the way I liked it. I don’t think I’ll ever find anything as good again. I consider myself deeply blessed to have been a part of at least 30 of her Thanksgiving meals.

What I didn’t realize until I got older, was how much time and work goes into making a true “grandma style” Thanksgiving dinner. Wow, it’s a ton of work and a labor of love, for sure. And the dishes afterward for 10-15 people or more? Yikes.

Not wanting to wait until Thanksgiving to enjoy my favorite meal, I found a way around it that isn’t quite as much work. And of course I needed to come up with a gluten-free stuffing. A few times a year I stuff a chicken and we have it with mashed potatoes and gravy, a vegetable side dish (only 1 instead of 3 or 4 like Grandma used to do) and of course, a pie. Still work, but not as much as Thanksgiving, and oh so worth every single bite. I love how food can evoke so many wonderful memories of the people we love and the fun we had while we were together. Wish she was here to see my new blog. She’s the original “foodie” in the family. She would be so pleased to know that all of those years I watched her in the kitchen I really was listening and learning.

Gluten Free Stuffing

(Will fill an 8 inch square pan or be enough to stuff about a 6 lb. bird)

1 Loaf Ener G Bread, you can use the tapioca or the brown rice loaf, cubed

4 Tbsp. Poultry Seasoning, heaping (I used about 3/4 of a 1.4 oz. jar)

2 Tbsp. Powdered or Fresh Garlic, minced (I used fresh garlic this time)

2 Tbsp. Sea Salt

Several Grinds of Pepper

2 Tbsp. Non-Dairy Butter (or real butter)

1 Carton of Organic Chicken Broth

8 Slices of Your Favorite Bacon (I used all natural, uncured)

3 Stalks of Celery, sliced thinly

1 Onion, diced small (I used 1/2 white & 1/2 red because I had it on hand)

Drizzle of Olive Oil

3 Tbsp. Bacon Drippings, reserved from browned bacon

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cube the bread and place in a large bowl. Add poultry seasoning, garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss gently with your fingers until ingredients are combined.

Gently pour out onto lined baking sheet. Some of the seasonings will fall to the bottom of the bowl, make sure you add these to the cubed bread on the baking sheet too.

Bake, turning with a spatula every 20 minutes until dry and crisp. About 60-80 minutes.

While the bread is browning, slice the bacon and prepare your vegetables.

Drizzle a small amount of olive oil in a non-stick skillet. Fry bacon until browned and lightly crisp. Place bacon pieces on a paper towel and drain bacon fat, reserving 3 Tbsp. in pan.

In the same pan with the bacon drippings, add the onion and celery and saute until onions are translucent and celery is al dente. Set aside until bread cubes are done.

Properly toasted bread cubes should look like this..

Once the cubed bread has cooled, pour into a large bowl. Warm 3 cups of chicken broth and add 2 Tbsp. dairy free butter (or real butter) to the broth. The picture shows 4 cups of broth, but I only used 3.

Taste bread cubes and if necessary, add another tablespoon or so of poultry seasoning and salt and pepper to taste. Slowly add warmed broth into cubes tossing carefully until 2 – 3 cups of the  broth is absorbed. This will also depend on how you like your stuffing. If you like it moist, try to get all 3 cups absorbed, if you like it a little dry, use 2 cups.

Then, either put it in a 8 inch square pan that is sprayed with non-stick spray, or stuff your bird. If you bake it in the pan, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and bake until the top is browned and crispy, about 40 minutes.  A 6 lb. stuffed chicken usually takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes to 2 or so hours at 375 degrees.


Asian Chicken Wings & Vegetable Stir Fry

How could something so dull and tiny as a chicken wing taste so good? I’m going to guess it’s the sauce. I’ve tried a lot of different chicken wings over the years and have definitely decided on what I don’t like. I don’t like them dry or dredged and deep-fried. I crave a gooey, spicy, baked or barbecued wing, one that isn’t fatty and underdone. One with depth and flavor and a texture that isn’t like eating beef jerky. There are so many different flavors that you can marry with a chicken wing. This time I decided to give them an Asian flair and serve them alongside vegetable stir fry. They had layers of sweet and spicy flavors, a bit of tang from the fresh ginger and the texture was perfect. They paired wonderfully with the vegetable stir fry and rice.

2 Packages of Party Wings (About 2-2/12 pounds)

Marinade & Basting Sauce

1 Bottle GF BBQ Sauce (I used Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipotle)

1/2 Cup Rice Vinegar

1/2 Cup GF Tamari Sauce (Gluten Free Soy Sauce)

2 Tbsp. Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce (Three if you like it hot)

2 Tbsp. Chopped Garlic

1 Tbsp. Grated Ginger

3/4 tsp. Dark Sesame Oil

3 Green Onions, chopped

Place all ingredients in a medium bowl, whisk until thoroughly combined. Reserve 1 cup for basting. Place chicken wings in sauce bowl and stir until completely coated. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

While chicken is marinating, prepare the vegetables for the stir fry.

Vegetable Stir Fry

1 Cup Carrots, sliced on the diagonal

1 Cup Broccoli, sliced small

1/2 Cup Red Bell Pepper, sliced thinly

1 Can Sliced Chestnuts

1 Can Bamboo Shoots

1/4 Red Onion, sliced thinly

2 Tbsp. Garlic, minced

1 Tbsp. Ginger, finely diced

About 1/4 Cup GF Tamari Sauce

About 1/4 Cup GF Teriyaki Sauce

Once vegetables are cut and ready to go, set aside until you place the chicken in the oven.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and make the rice according to package directions (I use Texmati rice, which takes 15 minutes)

Place chicken wings on parchment lined baking sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then increase temperature to 375 degrees and bake for another 20 minutes.  When you raise the oven temperature up to 375 degrees, begin cooking vegetable stir fry. Then, drizzle the wings with reserved sauce, and broil on middle shelf for 10-15 minutes longer, until sauce is bubbly and starts to thicken.

In a large skillet, heat olive oil and garlic on medium-medium high heat, add vegetables and ginger. Saute until  the pan starts to dry out,and add the soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, bamboo, and chestnuts.  Stir fry until vegetables are al dente.

Serve vegetable stir fry over rice with the wings on the side.