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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cracker Crusted Tilapia with Homemade Tarter Sauce

Last week I made a simple tilapia dish using ritz crackers as a crust. I used tilapia becuase it was on sale at the supermarket, but any fish would work well. Ritz crackers are salty, buttery and crunchy, making them a great crusting option. I also like using the crackers because they add great flavor and texture without having to use a deep fryer. I paired the fish with homemade tarter sauce and roasted vegetables. This recipe is simple and tasty enough for your whole family to enjoy!

Cracker Crusted Tilapia
(Serves 2)
2 fresh tilapia fillets
1 egg, whisked
1 package ritz crackers, crushed in plastic baggie
Salt, pepper and garlic powder
1 tbsp butter

Dab any excess water off your fish with a paper towl. Add whisked egg to rimmed plate. On a seprate plate, pour your crushed crackers, mixing with spices. Drudge fish through egg wash, then add to cracker mixture, ensuring fish is fully coated with crackers. Set aside. In a large skillet, add 1 tbsp butter over medium heat. When butter has melted, add fish to pan. Cook 3-4 minutes on each side or until crackers have browned and fish is cooked through. Plate with a dollop of tarter sauce.

Healthier Tarter Sauce
1 cup light sour cream
2-3 tbsp mayo
1/4 cup minced dill pickles
1/4 cup minced red onion
2-3 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp chopped garlic
3-4 tbsp fresh lemon juice
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients well. Serve with your favorite fish or seafood dish.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Capital Grille

My husband was gifted a Capital Grille gift card for the holidays. I have always wanted try the CG, but the cost of $40 and up for a steak has kept us waiting for a worthy occasion to slurge, until now! My husband and I made reservations for a Sunday evening at 6:30pm. The CG is located downtown Minneapolis, next to the State Theater on Hennepin Ave. The CG recieves a great deal of its business from theater goers. When we arrived, the restaurant was completely packed with pre-theater diners. Our first encounter was with the hostess, who was bogged down by a crowd of people waiting to be seated. Despite the crowds, she was pleasant and efficient at getting us to our table.
I could not help but notice the speed at which our server, Katie arrived at our table to greet us. Katie explained the menu to us with a friendly, approachable demenour. My husband and I knew within the first few minutes of service that we'd be well taken care of. I had heard about their amazing lobster and crab cakes from my mother, so we started our meal with the crab cakes and a blue cheese wedge salad. Quickly after ordering, drinks and bread arrived. Shortly there after, our salad arrived split onto two plates. The portion size was generous and ingredients bright and beautiful. Next arrived our crab cakes on a platter alongside a sweet corn relish and delicious homemade tarter. The crab cakes were prepared simply, without excess seasoning which allowed the seafood to sing. The CG really knows how to cook simple food with absolute perfection. For our main entree, we decided to split the Filet Oscar, served over asparagus, lump crabmeat and their house-made bearnaise, a delivish sauce made of clarified butter, egg yolks, white wine vinegar and herbs. Upon arrival of our steak, I notice that the chef once again had split the dish for us into quite large portions. The plate looked so beautiful, I could hardly bring myself to touch it...just kidding, I could hardly stop myself from devouring the entire dish! Each bite of steak was better than the next. I have never eaten such a tender, flavorful piece of meat. The steak melted like butter in my mouth and to top it off, the crab and bearnaise added an entire new level of amazingness!!! Needless to say, I am now in love with the CG and have already made reservations to return for Valentine's Day. If you are looking for a real treat, splurge on a night out to the CG!

Check out their site by clicking here.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps

Last week, I wanted to make a healthy dinner so I turned to my friend the shrimp for help :) I diced pre-cooked shrimp with cilantro, red onion, red pepper, water chestnuts and a tangy orange dressing. I created this recipe from scratch and was thrilled with the results. The colors are beautiful, ingredients fresh and the taste is finger licking good. If you are looking for a healthy, light meal this one if for you! 

Shrimp Lettuce Wraps 

4 tbsp soy sauce
1 cup orange juice
2 tbsp sugar 
1 package, pre-cooked shrimp, chopped 
1 can sliced water chestnuts, chopped 
1/2 cup diced red onion 
1/2 cup diced red pepper 
1/4 cup chopped cilantro 
1/4 cup seasoned rice vinegar
Juice of one lime
1 bag large romaine leaves 

In small sauce pan, add OJ, sugar and 2 tbsp soy sauce. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer 8-10 minutes until sauce has thickened. Pour in bowl and chill in refrigerator. In a large bowl, mix together chopped shrimp, cilantro, onion, pepper and water chestnuts. Pour in rice vinegar, lime, soy sauce and blend well. Add cooled orange reduction to mixture. Serve over romaine leaves with a slice of lime. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Happy Gnome

Mixed Greens 

Duck Drummies

PEI Mussels 
Last night, my husband and I finally tried the Happy Gnome, a gastro-pub off on Selby in St. Paul. Upon first glance, you may think Happy Gnome is a typical burger joint, but once you enter and try their fare, you'll think otherwise. They have a fancier dining area towards the back in addition to their bar seating, a lovely patio, and live music weekly. The food is affordable, innovative and absolutely delicious. Their menu features several small plates, perfect for a casual dining experience. My husband and I decided to dine in the bar area. We wanted to nibble on a few small plates, so we ordered the green salad, duck drummies and mussels. The salad was packed with flavor and texture. The dressing was a pungent dijon vinaigrette which boosted the natural flavors of the fennel and bitter greens. For $6, I would definitely order this again. Next, we tried their duck drummies served on a bed of rice noodles, coconut milk and green curry sauce. The drummies were cooked perfectly with crispy skin and tender meat. The rich curry sauce kept us soaking up every bit of sauce with the drummies. This dish was creative and unique- the essence of Happy Gnome's concept. Lastly, we tried their mussels, cooked with white wine, chorizo and creme fraiche. The mussel broth was a bit salty, with a hint of spice from the chorizo. The mussels were equally as flavorful as the drummies and salad, leaving me wanting more and more of this place. Happy Gnome is now one of my St. Paul favs!

Click here to view their website

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Seared Tuna Steak over Sushi Rice and Green Beans

Tonight, I made a delicious meal using fresh tuna steaks. I used a soy marinade for my tuna, then seared the tuna in a hot skillet and finished them off in the oven. Tuna steaks are often quite thick, making them slower to cook through. I served my tuna on a bed of sushi rice and black bean greens. 

Tuna marinade:
3 tbsp sesame oil 
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp mirin
2 tsp brown sugar 
2 tsp fresh garlic
1 tsp fresh ginger 

Whisk all ingredients together and marinate with tuna overnight. Then drain marinade and cook! 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Smokey BBQ Bean Chili

As you can see from the photo, even my dog wanted in on this amazing BBQ chili! I created this soup from scratch, (with the help of a few cans of course) making up the recipe as I went along. This is why I love to make soups so much- you can be experimental with your recipe. Check out my "estimated" recipe below and try out your own chili version. 

Smokey BBQ Chili
(serves 6-8)

1 tbsp olive oil
2 cups chopped onions
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp oregano
2 tsp cumin
1 can low-sodium beef broth
2 cans diced southwestern tomatoes
1 can refried beans
1 can chili beans
1 can white beans 
1/2 cup sweet BBQ sauce
1 cup chopped green onions
Sour cream

In large soup pot, add olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté 5 minutes. Add garlic, oregano and cumin. Sauté another 2 minutes. Add beef broth, tomatoes in can, and beans. Mix all ingredients together over medium heat. Then add BBQ sauce. Cook over low heat for 5-10 minutes. Serve and garnish with green onions and sour cream. 

Orange Scented Seafood Blend over Toasted Couscous

Last night, I made this delicious seafood  recipe for Cookinglight. The recipe calls for crispy shrimp on top, but I choose to use a sautéed seafood blend instead. I also added broccoli to my couscous blend, which adds another layer of texture and fiber! 

Check out the recipe below: