“One of the Best” Recipes of Our Project

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My husband and I are embroiled in a ‘Biggest Loser’ family weight-loss challenge. We’re pitted against some of his aunts, uncles and cousins to see who can lose the most weight in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

It’s a very low-key, friendly competition. We’re family, after all.

But, it must be noted — who dropped a whole dress size the last time she went shopping?!?!  THIS GIRL!!  Woo-hoo!!

As you may have previously read, I’ve been recently inspired to add more low-cal meals to our menus.  Some have been successful. Some haven’t. (You might recall tofu noodles.  While the Hubs isn’t a fan, I’ve eaten them several times since my original post and am growing to be quite fond of them.)

But a few days ago, I made a dish that was quick and easy, the kids LOVED, and the Hubs called one of the best I’ve made since I started writing this blog.  It was based on this recipe I found on www.chow.com, but I made one major change when I tried these at home:

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Grilled Fish Tacos

I’ve made fish tacos many different ways before.  I’ve breaded the fish fillets and fried them. I’ve baked them.  I’ve used a cream-based sauce.  I’ve used a citrus-based sauce.  You name it.  But I never made them like this before.

So here’s what I used and how I did it:  (note: there are subtle variations from the http://www.chow.com recipe, but I think those changes made a mentionable difference.)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 LB firm white fish (I used cod – on sale for $4.99/lb.)
  • 2 limes (1 more if you feel necessary)
  • 1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • pinch of chili powder
  • Cooking spray to prepare the grill grates
  • Drizzle of olive Oil
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small package of brussels sprouts, shredded in food processor
  • 1/4 medium red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
  • 10 (6-inch) wheat tortillas
  • 2 Avocados, mashed
  • 4 small-medium tomatoes, chopped
  • Additional limes (for garnish)

Get to work:

  1. Prepare the grill by either oiling the grates with vegetable oil OR spraying with a grill spray. (the latter is my preference.)
  2. Mix the juice of 1 lime, garlic, chili powder, and cumin in a small baking dish Image I used an 8-inch square) and then place the fish in to marinate for at least 15 minutes.  Refrigerate.  (I turned the fish over after 15 minutes, and let it marinate for 30 minutes total.  I think it could have sat longer.)
  3. Use the 30 minutes of marinating time to shred the sprouts in your food processor.Image Mix the shredded sprouts with the onion, cilantro, juice of one lime and black pepper. Drizzle with some olive oil and let stand so the flavors settle. (NOTE: the original recipe calls to add salt to this step, but I never add salt to fish. I think most fish is salty enough. Plus, we’re trying to cut back on sodium.  I honestly did not notice the omission.)Image
  4. When the fish is done marinating, grill on medium-high heat until flaky. The original recipe says you should grill it on the grill to get those cool grill marks, but, if I were you I’d consider grilling this on aluminum foil. I have trouble with the fish flaking too much and falling through the grates into the grill.  Plus… unless you’re plating for a restaurant, those grill marks mean nothing to a 5-year-old.  (speaking from experience….)
  5. Serve on the tortillas with the chopped tomatoes, slaw, and diced avocado.  (we do a make-your-own taco bar and let the kids pile on the toppings they want.) Image

On the diet front: I like that this recipe stays healthier by replacing sour cream and cheese with the delicious, creamy avocado.  And I avoided using too much salt by using fresh, chopped tomatoes instead of store-bought salsa.

But one thing I might try the next time I make these — add a little lime zest to the slaw. I felt it could’ve used a little more lime.  (maybe that’s the margarita lover in me talkin’.)

Now — to address the elephant in the room — BRUSSELS SPROUTS?!?!  

Yup.

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I didn’t have any cabbage, but did have the sprouts in my fridge so I gave them a try. I’ve made plenty of slaws out of brussels sprouts with mixed reviews from the family. But this worked really well and added a nice tanginess when combined with the lime, garlic and cumin used to marinate the fish.  It might be a good way to sneak sprouts into your family’s meal plan.

There were clean plates all around on this one, even with my 3-year-old.  And I liked that it was a one-dish-meal with the proteins and veggies combined in one delicious concoction on a plate.

Plus… to get such high-marks from my Beloved!!  Well…. you know the best way to a man’s heart!  Needless to say, I’ll make this again… and again… and again!

Happy eating!!

Sharon

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Recipe Review: Slow-Cooker Balsamic Roast Beef

There’s just something about best friends, isn’t there? They always know your quirks and qualms. So when one of my closest, dearest friends sent me this recipe the other day, I thought: “She knows me way too well!”

My friend just invested in her first slow cooker and was researching recipes when she came across this one. Knowing about my not-so-secret love affair with my own slow cooker, she passed it along to me.

Balsamic Roast Beef

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I never thought I would say this — but I’m getting sick of pulled pork.  It’s probably my favorite thing to make in my crock pot because it’s so easy and delicious.  But we have it ALL OF THE TIME and I’m starting to OD on it.  So when my friend sent me this recipe, it spoke to me. It’s uncomplicated AND involves a meat that falls apart when cooked low-and-slow. Yum.

Her colleague gave her this recipe for Balsamic Roast Beef from www.addapinch.com. Take a look — you’ll see it’s incredibly easy.

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Honestly, it took me 5 minutes to throw the ingredients into the crock pot, set it to 6 hours on high, and then run out the door to run my errands.

I served it with baked sweet potato rounds, sautéed mushrooms, and steamed broccoli. photo 4-24

But would the family like it?

YES!

The Results:

  • my 7-and-5-year-olds really liked it, saying “it’s great!” and cleaned their plates!
  • my 3-year-old said “It’s Yucky!” with that sly little smile that means she’s saying something she doesn’t mean.  You know — the smile that only 3-year-olds can give. Then she cleaned her plate! (veggies and all!)
  • The Hubs thought it was great and had seconds!
  • my friend, who I invited over to try, loved it.

So thumbs up all around, right? Wrong.

Personally… I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it.  Not because it’s a bad recipe, but because I’m just not a fan of ‘sour’ meat. I’ve never been.  I try, but it’s just not my thing.  But, in this recipe’s defense, the sourness was very subtle.

I also thought it turned out too dry.  It didn’t pull apart as easily as, say, my pulled pork. I think it would be helpful if I used a smaller cut of meat in the recipe so there would be more liquid to make it more moist.  That might help.. in my book.photo 1-43

So I’ll make it again for my family who loved it — it just might be on a night when I have book club.

Give it a try… you might think differently!  Then, tell me I was wrong!

Happy eatings!

Sharon

A Taste of India

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Wow. Just wow. I’m still shaking my head over what happened in our house tonight.

I love Indian food and often make the ‘heat-and-eat’ cans of Saag Paneer, Chana Masala, and Vegetable Korma.  You know — the kind you can get in the grocery store International aisle. They’re great for nights when my husband is working late, the kids have had an easy chicken nugget night, and the only person left to feed is myself. 

We’ve taken the kids out for Indian food before, but it’s been a while. Honestly, I don’t think they remember it. 

So tonight, I had a bottle of Butter Chicken simmer sauce in the pantry and decided — it’s go time!  Time to try this on the kids! 

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I made Butter Chicken (no recipe here, since I just browned the chicken and poured the sauce into the pan), and boiled some jasmine rice. Delicious and comforting on a chilly, rainy, fall night. But I wanted to try my hand at making a side dish, and here’s what I came up with:

Curried Cauliflower

ImageWhen I found cauliflower in our refrigerator, I turned to Suvir Saran and Stephanie Lyness‘s book “Indian Home Cooking” for inspiration. They have a recipe for “Cauliflower in a Piquant Tomato Sauce” that looks delicious, but I didn’t have all of the ingredients. So I improvised and came up with this:

Ingredients: 

  • 1 small head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 3 fresh diced tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup cilantro, chopped

Get to work: 

  1. Heat the oil in a wok over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the cauliflower and sprinkle with cumin and garam masala. Saute.
  3. Add the diced tomatoes and cilantro.  Cook through.
  4. This takes a total time of about 10 minutes.

The results: 

  • My 3-year-old CLEARED her plate!!! I had to take a picture of it to believe it myself! 
  • ImageMy 5-year-old cleaned his plate and asked for seconds!!! 
  • My 7-year-old liked the Butter Chicken and the jasmine rice (even though earlier in the night he told me he’s ‘not really a fan of Indian food.’)  He really liked the cauliflower, but didn’t like the tomatoes in it.  I think he had a problem with the texture of them.
  • My husband liked the whole meal and asked me to make it all again. But I think the next time, I’ll go all out and make butter chicken from scratch.  (The Saran/Lyness cookbook has a recipe that looks really good and is not terribly complicated.) 

It just goes to show how surprising meals can be in our house.  🙂

Happy eatings!! 

Sharon

Feeling Oh-So-Grateful

THANK YOU!

I haven’t posted in a few days. But I felt compelled to send you each a thank you note as I come upon the 6-month anniversary of my first post here.

When I left my career 7 years ago, I knew I was making the right decision for our family. But I LOVED my TV producing job and knew that taking writing out of my life was stripping me of something that was profoundly a part of me.  As much as I tried to sneak in a journal here-or-there (and tried writing the next Great American Novel), nothing was sustainable… until now. 

The key: accountability. I needed to know someone was interested; someone was reading. 

When I worked in TV news, I would scrutinize the ratings each-and-every-day wanting to know:  Was anyone really watching? And, more importantly…. why?  

This story best exemplifies my neurosis:

Many moons ago, early in my career, I wrote a story about how the way couples sleep together can decode their relationships. That night, after the story aired, I was at a party and overheard some women talking about it. They, literally, relayed the story to their friends WORD-for-WORD (without knowing who I was).  It made me realize the power of the broadcast word and how people believe what they see and hear on TV. 

This knowledge helped guide me for the next 12 years of my career, until that career ended with the birth of our oldest son.

Now that I’ve traded in broadcasting for ‘posting’, it’s amazing to me that you are actually reading this little experiment of mine. 

You come from the U.S. From Canada. From the U.K. From Singapore!!  

You might be my sister-in-law. My aunt. My cousin. 

My neighbor. My former roommate. My former colleague.

My friend from high school. My sorority sister.

My friend from our kids’ preschool. From our elementary school.

You might be my mother. My mother-in-law.

I don’t know who you are! But I want you to know that I am humbled beyond measure. When read that all of you have read my blog over these past few weeks, it brings me to tears because I never thought I’d find such joy AND value in my writing again. 

So… thank you!!!

But I want this to be so much more interactive than it is. I REALLY want to hear from you!!!

I want to know what you’ve tried. What you loved. What you hated. I think as a community, we could help each other teach our kids to eat well.

So let me hear it!!  Here on this site!  Give me your success stories and let’s try them out together!!  Tell me about the dinners  your kids hated — I’ll experiment on my kids!  (poor kids!)  🙂

And remember… I’m always grateful to you. You are the reason I found my voice again….

xoxoxo! 

Sharon