Category Archives: olive oil

Blackened Fish Spice Blend

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…or any fish for that matter.

You’ve seen this picture before here.  This is my favorite fish dish.  Hands down.  No doubt.  We have fish at least once a week in some way shape or form.  And, when I don’t have a meal planned, and I don’t have time to put together something elaborate, I rely on this dish.

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Keeping a jar of these spices handy ensures that I never have to miss out on a full-flavored meal.  Typically, if I were to marinate a thinner fish, like tilapia, I marinade the fish dry an hour before, while I’m doing something else, and cook it on the stove with some olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes each side.

If I were to use it on a thicker fish like salmon, I mix the spices with olive oil to make a paste and rub it over the fish.  After, marinading, I bake (covered in foil) in a preheated 375F oven for 30 minutes, or until flaky.

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Blackened Fish Spices

adapted from Food Network
yields about 4 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp celery seed

Directions:

  1. In a jar with a lid, mix together all the spices.
  2. When ready to use, either use it dry by pressing and rubbing spices into the fish.  If using wet, mix a tbsp of spices with approximately 2 tsp of olive oil and make a thick paste.  Spread and rub into fish.  Marinade for an hour and cook to your preference.
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Filed under Fish, Main Dish, olive oil

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts

I cook pasta at least once a week.  And, taking into account leftovers, we eat pasta three times a week.  It’s fast and versatile.  And, while I usually rely on marinara sauce or quick spaghetti sauce, I try to incorporate different flavors and textures to create a satisfying dish without being too monotonous.

And, with my everlasting fondness for pesto, this dish is appropriate for a lunch or dinner.  And, the flavors get even better the next day.  So, leftovers of this comforting dish are anything but mundane.

The addition of spinach, broccoli and toasted walnuts adds depth and nutritional value without compromising taste.

Pesto Pasta with Spinach, Broccoli and Walnuts

Ingredients:

  • 1 (16 oz) package bow tie pasta
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 head broccoli crown
  • 1 (10 oz) package of frozen spinach, thawed, squeezed and drained of water
  • 3/4 cup pesto – use your favorite pesto (I used half basil pesto and half sun-dried tomato pesto)
  • 1 tbsp red pepper flakes (adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black ground pepper
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, plus additional for dusting on top

Directions:

  1.  Boil pasta to al dente in salted water.  Drain and set aside in a large bowl.
  2. Using a large saucepan (I use my dutch oven), and heat your olive oil over medium-high heat.  Once the oil is heated, add the garlic and cook for approximately 2 minutes – until the garlic is slightly brown.  Add the broccoli and stir for a minute.  Cover the broccoli and reduce the heat to medium.  Cook the broccoli for 3 minutes over medium.  After 3 minutes, add the spinach to the broccoli.  At this point, you are just trying to warm up the spinach without overcooking the broccoli.  I cook the spinach with the broccoli for about one minute.  You do not want to overcook the broccoli.  You want it to be firm but not raw.  If you can pierce it, it’s ready – you definitely do not want it be mushy.
  3. Once the broccoli/spinach mixture is cooked, add it to the bowl containing the pasta.
  4. To the pasta/broccoli mix, add your pesto, red pepper flakes, walnuts, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese.  Toss to ensure that the pasta is evenly coated.
  5. Check for salt and add more if desired.  I start with 1/4 tsp because the pesto and the Parmesan add saltiness to the dish.
  6. Once the pasta is coated, sprinkle additional Parmesan cheese on top right before serving.

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Filed under garlic, olive oil, Uncategorized

The Glycerides

Well, if a busy month ahead, pregnancy and the like weren’t enough to keep us busy, turns out after a visit to the doctor, Binks has high cholesterol and unbelievably high triglycerides.  For the sake of complete honesty, his triglyceride levels are 1000 +.  Let’s just say when I saw the number, I freaked beyond belief.  Just to put it into perspective, “Very High” is 500+Oy.

High triglycerides is different from high cholesterol.  Namely, the doctor said it’s from a diet high in carbs and not enough protein.  It made sense in every way.  We had cut down our meat intake drastically and I have been replacing it with carbs – and not all good carbs. And, I suppose it didn’t help that prior to his blood test, we went to a party at a friend’s house wherein Binks had a good amount of sangria – and by a good amount, I bet at least 2 pitchers worth.  He kept screaming it tastes like juice! LOL!!

In an attempt to attack this naturally instead of going on medicine, we told the doctor we will do what we can at the house with diet and exercise and come back and get retested.  So, for the past week, we have had a serious food lifestyle change in the house.

The changes include:

–  No alcohol.  Which is not a big deal because (despite the above reference) we do not drink often.  I would say twice a month.

–  No beef, chicken, or pork.  We eat fish, tofu, beans and other forms of heart healthy protein.

–  No refined sugars or flours or products made from the same.  Any candies, cookies or cakes have been substituted with limited amounts of fresh and dry fruit.  And, even with the fresh fruit, we pay attention to the glycemic index in certain fruits.

–  Vegetables and more vegetables.  For lunch and dinner, I include veggies in whatever way possible.  Salads, steamed veggies, and Indian food is a great option for us.

–  Exercise every day.  And, for him – walking is not counted.  He has to do more.  So, every day, we have been walking after every meal as a warm up and then starting our exercise routine.  He’s continuing his P90X.

–  Eating out limitations.  Sometimes you just want the cheapest option – i.e. fast food.  And, sometimes you want the most indulgent options – i.e. fried chicken (did I mention I’m in love), pasta, etc.  However, lately we have limited our eating out to places that offer healthy options and cuisine.  It’s not hard considering that we love Mediterranean, Vietnamese, Japanese, Indian, etc.

–  No processed foods.  Sometimes heating up a Lean Cuisine is easier than packing lunch.  No longer.

So what have we been eating?

Salads made from the mutant Persian cucumbers growing in our garden.  I love these cucumbers because the skin is not as bitter as the traditional cucumber.  It goes wonderfully with some sliced red onions, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Refreshing!

Smoothies as always

No sugar and topped with Cheerios, which the doctor recommended.  Inside contains almond meal, coconut, blueberries, 1/4 of a frozen banana (as they are higher in sugar compared to other fruit), and almond milk.

Fish and no refined breads.

This was excellent.  Fish was perfect.  Salad – I have had it for many days now and don’t see any stop to it in the near future.

While I am craving this meal every day, I have to pace myself with the fish.

Blackened Tilapia

Ingredients

  • 1/2 pound tilapia fillet
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Spice Mix

  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black ground pepper (if you have white pepper, you can sub half of the black pepper for that)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder

Directions

  1. Mix together the spice mix.
  2. Spread onto the tilapia fillet.  I let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
  3. Heat pan over medium-high heat.
  4. Add olive oil and wait for pan to get really hot.
  5. Cook each side for 3 minutes each.

Salad – The salad really is a mix of romaine, tomatoes, red onion, banana peppers, and a sprinkling of feta cheese.  The dressing is a mix of olive oil, red wine vinegar, italian seasoning, lemon juice and dijon mustard.  I’m in love.

NOTE:  From my stereotype of what a high-cholesterol person ‘looks’ like, Binks didn’t fit the mark.  He is not overweight.  He doesn’t drink often.  He exercises fairly regularly.  He doesn’t eat a lot of meat.  You would not think that such a person would have such a high triglyceride level.  (This is in stark contrast to my dad who does have high cholesterol and triglycerides.  He is overweight, doesn’t eat well (high on meat and refined carbs like rice), drinks often, and gets no exercise.)

Partly, the high triglycerides is common in Bink’s family and the eating style hasn’t helped.  After making the changes for the past week, Binks has already lost 5 pounds (which was not something he was looking for), and we hope that the changes will give us better blood test results in about 3 months when he gets tested again!

Any experience with high cholesterol or high triglycerides? 

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Filed under Health, Life, olive oil, Uncategorized

So, A Priest and A Lawyer Come for Lunch…

Binks and I had our priest over for lunch.  I was given one day’s notice (he travels a lot) and thought of a great easy lunch idea that won’t leave you weighed down.

Hot mini ham and cheese sandwiches (spread with a mustard and butter mix – trust me it was good)


Cucumber sandwiches with a dash of Tabasco mixed into the cream cheese – it totally makes a difference.

Salad with homemade dressing (red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice, olive oil, fresh black pepper, and a pinch of cumin).  And you can see a tiny portion of the M&M cookies we had for dessert.

The most delicious pasta salad ever!  (I reduced the oregano and the whole salad could have easily been missing the pepperoni.)

I ate this pasta salad for the remainder of the week.  Refreshing and totally hits the spot.  I have to say the tiny bits of cheese were perfect to bite into.

All in all, it was a great time with a good friend and food.

The lunch inadvertently lasted from noon to 5 p.m.  Thank goodness for sandwich snacks along the way.

What would you serve for a lunch gathering?  (I might be the only one but I love dreaming up menus for different events.  Judge me if you wish.)

10 Comments

Filed under Bread, Cookies, Desserts, Lunch, olive oil, Uncategorized

Potstickers

My first dim sum experience was a life-changing one.  Various types of food passing by for me to pick up at my leisure is the stuff that goes on in my dreams.

The one dish that always stands out to me above all is the potsticker.

Now, I must tread lightly here because I’m out of my element.  I know that there is a Chinese version and a Japanese version of this dumpling.  People refer to potstickers as gyoza which is a Japanese version, which I think originally comes from the Chinese version.

I don’t know which way mine swings – towards Japan or China.  All I can account for is that it is divine and will serve me well until my next dim sum reservation.

And with a spicy dipping sauce to boot.

Now that I’m familiar with working with the wrappers and the filling, my next logical stop will be here, another item on my Kitchen List.

Potstickers

Ingredients:

  • 1 package wonton/dumpling wrappers – I bought the frozen kind that I thawed overnight in the fridge.
  • 1 lb ground pork
  • 2 stalks green onion, minced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 (6 oz) package mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp garlic chili sauce (you can use Sriracha), optional
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water

Directions:

  • Heat sesame oil in pot over medium high.
  • Add garlic and mushrooms until lightly browned and mushrooms are cooked – approx. 5 minutes.
  • Place mushroom mixture into a large bowl.  Make sure to remove any moisture.  I usually squeeze out the water from the mushrooms (after cooking) with a spoon and then throw it into the bowl.  You can also squeeze inside a cheesecloth or dab with a paper towel – just make sure its cool enough to handle.
  • To the mushroom and garlic mixture, add the pork, green onion, vinegar, soy sauce and chili sauce.
  • Spoon a teaspoon size amount of the mixture into each wrapper.
  • Secure the ends so that the dumpling is closed tight.
  • After making all your dumplings, heat a pan (that has a lid) 1 tbsp oil until very hot over medium high heat.
  • Place your dumplings in the pan.  Leave space between each dumpling so they do not touch each other.
  • Once the bottoms have browned, usually about a minute after heating, the need-to-be-careful part comes.
  • With one hand I hold the lid (my right hand) and with the other hand I hold the water.  I quickly add the water to the pan and shut it closed with the lid.  The mixing of the oil and water will cause sputtering so please be careful!  So cover immediately and let the dumplings steam inside the pan until the wrapper is translucent.  It usually takes about 3-4 minutes.
  • You can use the same pan for the next batch, but I wipe down my pan with a paper towel so that I can remove any remaining water/oil when I pour another tablespoon of oil.
  • Serve hot with the dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp chili garlic sauce (or Sriracha)
  • 3 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 stalk green onion, sliced thinly

Directions:

  1. Mix all ingredients and serve.

*You can most certainly tweak the sauce per your taste.  If you want something more tangy, increase the vinegar.  For spice, I also thinly slice a jalapeno pepper or serrano pepper and add it to the sauce to soak.

Are you a fan of dim sum?  Do you like potstickers?  Do you know the difference between the Japanese and Chinese version?  Inform me! 🙂

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Filed under Dinner, Favorites, garlic, olive oil, Uncategorized

The Sauce And The Mess

Are you a clean freak?  I am.  I can go INSANE with the cleaning.  And, I do – especially in the kitchen.

I’m obviously looking for affirmation.  So, tell me you’re crazy like me!  Are you?

And nothing – and I mean nothing – messes up a kitchen like making your favorite marinara sauce.  Whether from scratch or Semi Olie-Made, it’s all a mess.  But, what’s a girl to do when all she wants for dinner is to hit up the sauce?  You make it anyway and worry about the consequences after the delicious meal is over.

See my pretty kitchen?  That sauce looks harmless right?

It’s not.  It’s a tomato-licious volcano ready to explode EVERYWHERE.

A closer look only proves my point.  The pot is already spewing and I can imagine the horror and catastrophe to be left behind once it really simmers.  (Are these my actual thoughts when I cook?  Yes.  And, yes – I have problems.  No judgment!)

At this point you may be thinking/pondering of the following:

1.  Why didn’t she just use a bigger pot?  Great question folks!  I have no answer other than – I didn’t think it would get this large.  That’s what she said.

2.  What is that around the stove trim rings?  Don’t know what I’m talking about.  Look again:

This is my NUMERO UNO tip for keeping your stove clean – FOIL!  If you have ever cleaned them, you know it’s a mess.  You have soak, scrub and sometimes repeat the process. 

I tend to cook many meals at one time and it takes a toll on my stove top.  If you’re like me, you know that things get stuck after that much heat.

Wrapping the rings in foil is a trick my mom taught me to ensure that I have one less thing to clean.  I not only wrap the ring, but I also the part under the ring – the cup-like part with the hole in it.  (That’s what she said.)  If you think of the name – tell me and I can delete this whole pathetic paragraph with one word!

Easy keep-it-clean tips/tricks like these help me relax just a little bit more when I cook.  Tips/tricks like these help me relax just a little bit more while I enjoy my favorite marinara sauce.

Marinara Sauce Vegetarian

Ingredients:

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz) canned tomatoes, diced
  • 1 (12 oz) bag of cherry tomatoes, halved (or you can use regular tomatoes – 1 cup chopped)
  • 3 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp honey (vegan option: sugar)
  • 2 bay leaves, crumbled finely with your hands
  • 1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

Directions:

  1. Heat large (don’t make the same mistake I did) sauce pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Pour olive oil and heat.
  3. Add onions and garlic.  Saute until translucent.
  4. Add fresh tomatoes, honey, salt and bay leaves.  Cook until the tomatoes become soft and the juices start flowing – approximately 10 minutes.
  5. Pour entire can of tomatoes into sauce pan.
  6. Cover and reduce heat to low and simmer for 2 hours.
  7. 30 minutes before the sauce is done – add the tomato paste, basil, oregano, garlic powder, and black pepper.

Extra:

–  I added tempeh to mine as follows:

  • 30 minutes before the sauce is done, I saute 8 oz tempeh (roughly chopped) in another pan with some olive oil until fully heated inside and a bit browned on the outside.
  • Add it into the sauce about 15 minutes before the sauce is done.

–  This is a chunky sauce.  If you want it to be smoother, run the final sauce (prior to the addition of any tempeh) through the blender.  Or use your immersion blender.

How do you keep your kitchen clean while you cook?  What’s your keep-it-clean tip/trick?  Do you wrap your stove rings in foil?  Are you a clean freak?

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Filed under Favorites, garlic, Italian, olive oil, Uncategorized, Vegan, Vegetarian

Pizza Cake!

If I had to be honest (which I most certainly almost always am), Binks and I order pizza in about once every two weeks.  When vowing to be husband and wife, we also made a sub-vow to find the best pizza in any city we live in.  The sub-vow helps keep the main-vow strong!  It’s the power of pizza.

We have yet to find the best in Dallas.  For my Dallas/Texas readers, help me on this front!  In Houston, it is New York Pizzeria – hands down.  The original location, not the new trend of Russo’s.  I just want a slice.  Hold the ambiance.

Obviously our pizza addiction sets us back a bit of money every two weeks.  So, in an attempt to keep the addiction home – because people tend to stare when you take it outside – I attempted home-made pizza.

And it was easy as pie.

First, the yeast and the proofing.

What you see is just the beginning stages of proofing.  Let your yeast/water/sugar mixture get really frothy (i.e. look to the very right side of the picture below – that’s all proofing baby!)

Then the kneading.  And, resting.

Rolling.

Resting more.

Showing off.

Topping

Baking.

Done and done!

Nom nom!

The pizza crust is from here and the sauce is from here.

I promise you this is a keeper!

Do you order out? How often? What’s your place/food of choice? What’s your favorite pizza restaurant in your area (make sure you tell me your area)?

31 Comments

Filed under baking, Favorites, olive oil, Uncategorized