Baja Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream and Fresh Cilantro Salsa…..

My family LOVES this dish.  What is it about being able to assemble your dinner that is so appealing to kids?  Whatever it is, I love when they go for a healthy meal such as this one.  There is some prep involved, but you can make the avocado cream and the salsa a day or two ahead.  Feel free to use bottled salsa.  The fish takes minutes.

We’ll start with the avocado cream….

Cut the avocado in half.  Carefully score the inside of the avocado as pictured.  Squeeze the skin side together and the avocado will easily come out. 

Put the avocado right into the food processor, I’m using a mini Cuisinart.
Add low fat plain yogurt….
Lime juice…
Fresh cilantro, kosher salt, and water….Give it a whirl until smooth….
It should look like this.
Cover the avocado cream with plastic wrap before putting sealing with the lid.  this will keep the air out and will keep it from turning brown.  Do this with guacamole as well.
For the salsa…
You will need a large can of petite diced tomatoes, fresh cilantro, fresh onion, lime juice (fresh or bottled) a small green pepper, seeded and chopped, a jalepeno, granulated garlic powder, and salt…Add half of the canned tomatoes to a food processor, once smooth, add the remaining diced tomatoes for a chunky texture.
Fresh and delicious!  Refrigerate until you’re ready to use.
For the fish….

You’ll need to make the Baja rub for the fish.  Double or even triple this recipe and save it for the next time.  Be sure to separate what you’re going to save before you start seasoning the fish so you do not contaminate the rub you will be saving.  Label and date.  Seasonings needed are:  brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, granulated garlic powder, sweet paprika, oregano, cayenne, salt, and allspice.

Mix all ingredients together and break up any lumps with your fingers.

You’ll need 6 tilapia fillets, rinsed and patted dry with a paper towel.  Brush each fillet with canola oil.

Season each piece of fish with the rub mixture.

 Each piece of fish should be well coated…Heat a non stick skillet with canola oil over medium high heat until very hot.

Cook fish for 4 minutes per side, try not to crowd the fish.
The brown sugar in the rub will caramelize the fish a bit…delicious on its own….wait until you taste the avocado cream, fresh salsa, and spicy flavors of the fish…  it’ll knock your socks off!

Flake the fish with a fork.  Squeeze fresh lime juice over the fish.  Now you’re ready to eat!

Baja Fish Tacos with Avocado Cream and Fresh Cilantro Salsa

For the Avocado Cream:
1 whole ripe avocado, cut into chunks
2 tablespoons low fat plain yogurt
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh or bottled
1 tablespoon honey
1 small bunch cilantro
2 pinches of kosher salt
¼ cup water

Place all ingredients into a food processor and give it a whirl until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use. Good for one week refrigerated.

For the Fresh Salsa:
1 28 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
1 whole jalapeño
1 small onion or ¼ of large
1 small bunch fresh cilantro
½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
3 pinches of kosher salt

Place HALF of canned tomatoes into food processor. Add HALF of the jalapeño, seeds and all. Add the rest of the salsa ingredients. Whirl until smooth. Taste. If you’d like more heat, add the rest of the jalapeño pepper and process until smooth. Pour into mixing bowl and add the rest of the canned tomatoes. Mix and taste. Season with more salt if necessary. Refrigerate up to two weeks.

For the Fish:
6 tilapia fillets, rinsed and dried with a paper towel
1-2 tablespoons canola oil for coating fish

1 ½ teaspoons brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon oregano
¾ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
¾ teaspoon sweet paprika
¼ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
¼ teaspoon ground allspice
½ teaspoon kosher salt

2 tablespoons canola oil for cooking

1 fresh lime, cut into wedges
2 cups shredded lettuce
2 plum tomatoes, seeded and finely diced
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
12 soft corn tortillas or hard corn shells

1) Mix all rub ingredients together in a small bowl. Brush fish fillets with oil. Coat both sides of fish generously with the rub. Heat a non stick pan over medium-high heat with oil. Cook fish in the hot pan, do not crowd, for 4 minutes per side.
2) Remove from heat onto a platter, flake with a fork. Squeeze fresh lime juice over fish. Cover with foil to keep warm.
3) Wipe out fish pan and warm tortillas one minute per side in the pan and place into a bowl lined with a clean napkin or kitchen towel to keep warm.
4) Layer over warm tortilla; lettuce, tomato, cheese, fish, avocado cream, and salsa. Serves 4.  Enjoy!

Greek Bruschetta…..

You must try this very easy appetizer.  Albeit a messy one, serve it to friends and family who could care less if you bank an olive off your third button right into your drink!  I love the color and the fresh taste.  Simple and delicious!

Greek Bruschetta

1 12 ounce can pitted kalamata olives, drained and sliced
1 14 ounce can artichokes, drained and chopped
8 ounces of grape tomatoes sliced in quarters
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon dried oregano
1 large clove garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
season to taste

Combine all ingredients together in a medium size mixing bowl.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Refrigerate any leftovers.

To toast the baguette:

1 whole Baguette, day old or more is best, cut into 1/2″ slices
2 tablespoons or more olive oil
Kosher salt

1) Preheat oven to 300’.
2) Slice stale bread into ½ ” slices. Using a pastry brush, coat both sides of the bread with olive oil. Season with a couple of pinches of kosher salt. Spread out over a large cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes, give them a turn after about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.
3)  When ready to serve, simply spoon the vegetables mixture over toasted baguette.  Serves 8-10.  Enjoy!

Simplest Garlic and Cheese Pasta…..

This is sooooo simple!  I use a small cheat on this one.  I use Better Than Bouillon for the chicken stock.  I add it to pasta water to make the simple, flavorful sauce.   I always keep this on hand, I just love using it in quick dishes such as this.  This pasta is one of my boy’s fav’s.  I serve it with roasted pork, chicken, or grilled sausage.

Add shrimp, peas, broccoli, frozen spinach…whatever you like!  Top with fresh grated parmesan or romano cheese.

To start, choose a pasta…any kind you like….

Any of these would be excellent.  It’s a bit more fun when you use a cheese filled tortellini or mini ravioli…this time I used whole wheat spaghetti.
Pasta, olive oil, fresh garlic, dried oregano, bouillon, and fresh grated parmesan cheese….that’s it!  Put a large pot of salted water on medium high heat and cook the pasta according to package directions less two minutes.  Cook time for my spaghetti was 10 minutes, so I set the timer for eight.
When the timer goes off, carefully remove about 1 1/2 cups of water from the pot.  Drain the pasta, I let it sit in the sink until I’m ready for it. 
Into the hot pan, add olive oil, crushed garlic, and dried oregano.  Cook over heat for one minute.  (If you’d like to add raw shrimp, add the oil and cook the shrimp until pink, then add the garlic and oregano and cook an additional minute, remove cooked shrimp from the pan and cover with foil, set aside)   Red pepper flakes would be great here too:-)
Add the reserved pasta water to the pan, bring to a bubble over heat.
Add 2 teaspoons of the bouillon to the pot, stir until dissolved.  Pan should still be over heat.  (add thawed frozen peas, broccoli, or spinach here)


Add the pasta back to the pot.  Cook for 2 minutes.  The under cooked pasta will absorb the flavors in the broth…(add the cooked shrimp to the pot here)
Add the cheese to the hot pasta, mix well.  Enjoy!
Simplest Garlic and Cheese Pasta

½ lb. pasta, any kind, cooked according to package directions less 2 minutes. Reserve 1 ½ cups reserved pasta water before draining pasta.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 large cloves fresh garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon dried oregano
2 teaspoons Better Than Bouillon
¼ cup fresh grated parmesan cheese

1) Cook pasta and reserve 1 ½ cups pasta water. Set aside.
2) Add olive oil, crushed garlic, and dried oregano to the hot pasta pot. Cook for one minute.
3) Add pasta water to pan. Add bouillon, continue to simmer. Add pasta to pot and cook for 2 minutes.
4) Remove from heat and add grated cheese and mix well. Makes about four one cup servings.

YUM!  Enjoy!

Salmon Patties…..

You may have noticed that I’m on a bit of a fish kick so far this year.  Serving fish can get a bit costly, so I thought I’d share this economical and delicious way to enjoy salmon.  Canned salmon is readily available. Keep some in your pantry for a quick satisfying supper.  Serve with simple rice pilaf and a salad or steamed frozen vegetables.

Here we go….

Preheat your oven to 400′ and non stick foil line a cookie sheet.  Add about one tablespoon of olive oil to the pan and spread to coat with your hands.  Set aside.

Finely dice the red onion and the red and yellow peppers, saute in olive oil until soft.  Allow to cool.

This is an important step.  You want to remove any bones and excess skin, while leaving large chunks of salmon.  (Your kitty cat might enjoy these:-)  The bones are soft from the canning process.)

It should look like this…

Now add chopped parsley, the cooled pepper mixture, and lemon juice to the salmon.  Don’t mix just yet…

Add the bread crumbs and gently mix.

Whisk the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper together.  Add to the salmon mixture.  Gently fold all ingredients together.  

Shape into patties and coat with additional bread crumbs.  At this point you can bake or refrigerate if you want to serve them later.

Give each patty a light drizzle of olive oil and into the oven, 8 minutes per side.  Enjoy!
Salmon Patties

1 small red pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small yellow pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 small red onion, finely diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 14 ounce cans salmon
2 tablespoons lemon juice
¼ cup chopped parsley
2 eggs
3 tablespoons mayonnaise, you can use light if you wish
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 ½ cups unseasoned bread crumbs
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon pepper
Additional olive oil for drizzling

1) Preheat oven to 400’. Line a cookie sheet with non stick foil and drizzle with olive oil to coat, set aside.
2) Dice the red and yellow peppers, and onions. Heat a skillet over medium heat and add olive oil, peppers, and onions. Sauté for 8-10 minutes or until soft. Set aside to cool.
3) Open canned salmon and drain off excess liquid. Carefully remove the skin and bones, discard.  Add salmon to a medium size mixing bowl. Handle salmon as little as possible, you want nice large chunks in your patties.
4) Add the cooled pepper and onion mixture, parsley, and lemon juice to the bowl. Add 1/2 cup bread crumbs and gently mix.  In a small bowl, whisk the eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, salt, and pepper until well blended. Pour over salmon.  Gently fold ingredients together until everything is well blended.
5) Put remaining 1 cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl.  Form 4” patties with your hands and coat patties with bread crumbs. Place on prepared cookie sheet.
6) Bake for 8 minutes, then carefully give the patties a turn. Bake another 8 minutes. Makes 8 salmon patties. Serve immediately with fresh lemon wedges.  Enjoy!

*If you want to make ahead, prepare them all the way up to baking and refrigerate. Bake an additional one minute per side.
*If you’d like to spice them up, add minced jalapeno pepper when sautéing the peppers and onions or add a couple dashes of hot pepper sauce.


Bean Salad with Fresh Herbs….

This is an outstanding salad to serve at barbeques and picnics!  Easy to prepare, fresh, and not full of mayonnaise.  It literally goes together in a matter of minutes.  The many different beans used make for a colorful and healthy salad.  Use fresh herbs out of your garden.

No fresh herbs?  You can add dried parsley, basil, and fresh red onion.

Bean Salad with Fresh Herbs
1 15 oz. can each:
Black beans
Great northern beans
Dark red kidney beans
Light red kidney beans
White kidney beans or Cannelli beans
½ cup parsley, finely chopped
½ cup fresh basil leaves, rolled tight and thinly sliced
3 tablespoons fresh chives, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon granulated garlic powder
¼ teaspoon granulated onion powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt, or a couple of pinches of table salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar or cider vinegar

1) Drain all canned beans into a large colander and rinse. Drain thoroughly. Add parsley, basil, and chives.
2) Drizzle with olive oil and gently mix until beans are coated. Sprinkle beans with garlic and onion powder, salt and pepper. Mix gently. Add vinegar and gently mix. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Store leftovers in the refrigerator.
Makes about 10 one half cup servings.

**The reason for adding the oil first and coating, is that it will make the seasonings all cling to the ingredients in the salad before adding vinegar.