Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Quinoa & Veggie Stuffed Zucchini

In mid-July when we were at the height of having house guests and traveling to visit family in Wyoming, my garden started producing zucchini like crazy. I know, this is not a strange phenomenon. I didn't really have time to shred it all and freeze it and granted I could have just left them in the fridge and they would have been just fine for another week, but I had my mind set on trying out this delicious vegetarian recipe so I threw it all in a bag and hauled it to Wyoming with me and decided I could help my mom out and make a simple summer meal for the whole family. The 6 zucchinis that this recipe is for was not enough to feed my whole family so I doubled it and it turned out just perfect. And of course, I got so caught up on meeting my newest nephew that I never took a final product photo, so the process will have to do for now:
2 T olive oil (or coconut oil if you prefer)
1 medium onion, diced
1 red or yellow pepper, diced
2 Roma tomatoes, finely diced
1 Tbsp thyme or 1-2 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
salt and pepper
6 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise
1 cup spinach leaves, chopped
1 cup cooked quinoa
3-4 large basil leaves
1 T. Parmesan cheese, grated
1/2 c. Mozzarella, grated
Preheat oven to 375. In a skillet, saute onion and pepper in oil over medium high heat. While onions and peppers are sauteing, scoop the inside flesh of the 6 zucchinis out and dice into small pieces. When onions are translucent, add tomatoes and diced zucchini cook until soft. Add thyme and salt and pepper to taste. Saute for a couple of minutes and then add spinach leaves - cook until wilted. Remove from heat and add the cooked quinoa, fresh basil, and mozzarella to sauteed ingredients and mix.

 Distribute filling evenly into halved zucchinis.
 Top with parmesan and give another generous shake of salt and pepper on top and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for 10 more minutes until cheese on top is golden
Remove from oven and serve.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Honduran-Style Stewed Tilapia - Tilapia Guisada Estilo Hondureño

When I have time to cook and bake and I'm doing it for pleasure, I usually like to cook alone. However, when I'm cooking for my family's survival (aka: dinnertime), I love to have someone to chat with. This usually means propping the iPad up and skyping or facetiming with my sister, Lilly, or my friend, Lisa, who are usually in the kitchen too. We chop and chat and it makes dinnertime preparation much less painful. I keep telling them that as soon as we can share our dinners via skype, the world will be perfect!  A couple of days ago, I was making this go-to dinner while Lisa was making her famous banana cheesecake. Lisa and I are best friends and taught together and shared leftover lunches together quite often, so she was surprised when I told her about this go-to Tilapia recipe I'd been hiding and promised her I'd post some instructions for her. 

It's hard to believe I've never posted a recipe for this simple, delicious and healthy dish. I can remember ten years ago, standing in the tiny kitchen in our first apartment as Armando showed me this family favorite of his and I took down copious notes in my trusty cookbook. I swear the only reason we were both able to fit in that tiny kitchen was because we were newly weds. It was so narrow that the opposite-facing refrigerator and oven doors couldn't be open at the same time. 

So enough with the reminiscing, here are your ingredients:

3 roma tomatoes
1 small onion
1/2-1 green pepper 
2-3 cloves garlic
1 Tbsp butter
6 Tilapia Filets
soy sauce

Line a large pan with **aluminum foil (enough to be able to fold and over the dish while cooking). Heat butter in the pan and saute onion and green pepper until translucent. (**In all of the ten years of making this dish, don't ask me why you have to wrap it all in foil. Just trust me that I've tried it without and it's so much better when you use the foil. My theory is that the foil helps keep the moisture in and the juices in this dish are key.

 Add garlic and saute for one minute. Then add tomatoes and saute until they are softened. I like to salt and pepper my sauteed ingredients as I go as well.
 When finished sauteing, keep the heat up and add enough water to cover the bottom of the pan- we're not making soup - we just want there to be enough juice/sauce to cook the fish and have a little juice to poor over each serving. Place thawed tilapia filets on top of sauteed ingredients.
 Salt and pepper them again and sprinkle with cumin powder. Douse each filet with a little soy sauce. As you can see, I haven't perfected my one-handed photography focusing skills. ;) Oh well, you get the idea.
 Squeeze a little lemon juice on each filet as well.
 Bring the liquid to a simmer.
 Now fold the foil over the dish:

Cover your pan with a lid.
 Turn the heat to medium-low and let simmer for 15 minutes. Sometimes I like to turn the fish over before I cover it with foil - but this can be a tricky process if you're pan is full cause fish breaks easily). If not, you can turn your fish over with all of the veggies coming out on top as you serve it.
My favorite thing to serve with this is brown rice and black beans. I throw the beans in the crock pot in the morning (or over night) and when I get home from work, they're just right. I also leave the rice in the rice cooker and set it to cook so that it's finishing up just as I get home and am making dinner. This meal is the perfect weeknight meal because it cooks so quickly and is simple to put together. And if you're looking for more great recipes, remember my friend, Lisa, that I mentioned earlier in this post? . . . Well she's started her own little blog and is sharing some of her most delicious recipes. I'm sure that banana cheesecake I mentioned will be shared there one day along with many of her amazing dishes, so check out what she has and tell her hello!