Monthly Archives: March, 2012

Baja Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Mayo

This recipe brought my husband and I back to Mexico and the vacation the two of us took earlier this year.  We ate fish tacos on the beach almost daily.  The only thing missing from dinner tonight was the margarita! (and the beach, and the sun, and the ocean, and the calm of meals that are kid free…)

Though the fish tacos were not a hit with our boys, you can’t win them all.  They filled up on the tortillas, tomatoes, and avocado.  We loved the whole package and plan to make them again.  I especially loved the contrast of the refreshing lime flavor with the spicy chipotle chili seasoning in the Chipotle Lime Mayo.

Baja Grilled Fish Tacos with Chipotle Lime Mayo
*I’m sorry I don’t have the name of the cookbook I adapted this recipe from.  It is a great recipe and if I get that cookbook from the library again, I will be sure to update this post.
Marinade Ingredients:
1 ½ lbs. tilapia
1 tsp.  salt
½ tsp. pepper
1 large white onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. fresh cilantro, chopped
2 small cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. ground cumin or more to taste
1 tsp. dried oregano
½ c. olive oil
¼ c. + 3 Tbls. Fresh lime juice
¼ c. orange juice
Chipotle Lime Mayo (prepare on serving day):
½ c. mayonnaise
½ c. sour cream
2 T. lime juice or more, to taste
1 t. lime zest
1 T. sugar
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. ground chipotle chili (adjust to taste – we like it spicy)
Pinch cayenne pepper
Additional Ingredients for Serving Day:
Cooking spray or oil
Salsa or pico de gallo
Red onion, chopped
Cilantro, chopped
Avocado, peeled and cubed
Red Cabbage, finely shredded
(The kids also added tomatoes and shredded cheese to their tacos.)
Rinse fish fillet and pat dry.  Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper.  Set aside.
In medium bowl, combine remaining marinade ingredients.  Divide marinade into three portions.  Place one in small freezer bag and set aside.  Place one in large freezer bag.  Place fish in larger bag on top of marinade.  Top the fillets with last third of marinade and seal bag.  Let fish marinade in fridge for 20-30 minutes, turning once before freezing.  Freeze smaller extra marinade separately for serving day.
On your serving day, thaw the fish and extra marinade completely.
Grill fish on foil that has been sprayed lightly with cooking spray on the grill.  Grill over medium heat, turning once, basting with the extra marinade while grilling.
While the fish is cooking, whisk together the ingredients for the Chipotle Lime Mayo.  Adjust the seasonings to your taste preferences. Clean and cut up all the additional toppings for the tacos.
When the fish is done, chop it coarsely.
Assemble the fish tacos and drizzle with Chipotle Lime Mayo.  Enjoy!
Food for Thought:  If you are doing freezer cooking, most of the work still ends up being on your serving day.  I had the fish in the freezer in the marinade but the rest of the ingredients were prepped today.  I was thankful I made this on a day when my husband was home to help with the kids.

Chicken Kabobs

Ahhhh, the first kabobs of the season… to have them in March in Minnesota is truly a treat!  These chicken kabobs are definitely a go-to recipe for entertaining.  They are easy to adapt to your taste preferences too or even do as a “build-your-own” meal if you have picky eaters. 

Chicken Kabobs

Marinade Ingredients:
1/2 c. soy sauce
1/2 c. pineapple juice
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. dry mustard
1 Tbls. brown sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. garlic salt
1/4 tsp. ground pepper

4 chicken breasts
1 each red pepper, yellow pepper, orange pepper, red onion, green zucchini, yellow squash
6-8 small red potatoes


Combine marinade ingredients and whisk together well.  Cut chicken into large cubes and marinate for 4-8 hours.

Cut bell peppers into approx. 2 inch squares.  Slice the zucchini and squash thickly.  Peel and quarter the onion. 

Clean the potatoes and afterwards, microwave them for about 5 minutes to pre-cook. 

Assemble the kabobs in any order or fashion you like. 

Cook them over medium heat on the grill for about 7-8 minutes a side, turning over once.  They are best a big burnt on the edges and the chicken is cooked through.

Food for Thought: If you want to have this prepared as a freezer meal, you would cut up and prepare the chicken and marinade and put that in the freezer.  On cooking day, you would thaw the chicken thoroughly, prep the veggies, and assemble the kabobs.

Ginger-glazed Mahi Mahi

After eating a bit, my two-year-old said, “I like everything on my plate, Mom.”  That is a great compliment in our house!  We definitely will be making this recipe again!

Ginger-glazed Mahi Mahi
4 mahi-mahi fillets (1 ½ lbs. total)
3 T. brown sugar
2 T. honey
3 T. g/f soy sauce
3 T. balsamic vinegar
¾ t. freshly grated ginger root
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 t. olive oil
¼ t. salt
¼ t. pepper
In a mixing bowl, stir together brown sugar, honey, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, ginger, garlic, and olive oil.  Season fish fillets with salt and pepper and place them in freezer bag.  Pour marinade over fish and freeze.
When ready to serve, allow fillets to thaw completely.  Reserve marinade.  Grill fillets over medium heat for 4-6 minutes per side turning only once.  I did it on an indoor grilling pan following the same time and heat instructions and they turned out great that way too.
While fish is grilling, pour marinade into sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat.  Boil addition 2 minutes until reduces to glaze consistency.  Spoon over cooked fish and serve immediately with rice and a green vegetable.
** For the rice, I used Archer Farms (Target’s brand) Whole Grain Medley.  I diced up two carrots and sauteed them with onion and garlic in butter.  Then, I added 1 cup of the medley, and 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, brought it to a boil, and then simmered covered for 25 minutes.  It paired nicely, was full of fiber and whole grain, and even had some hidden carrots in there!

Asian Pork Tenderloin with Roasted Carrots


Asian Pork Tenderloin
2/3 c. g/f soy sauce
1/4 c. dark sesame oil
1 tsp. Worschestershire sauce (check label – some brands are g/f)
2 Tbls. brown sugar
1-2 tsp. hot chili sauce
1 Tbls. minced, peeled fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
3 green onions, sliced
1 1/2 lb. pork tenderloin
olive oil
Combine first 7 ingredients, reserving a few sliced green onions for a garnish, in a large ziploc bag and add the pork.  Seal and marinate in the refridgerator for 8-24 hours.  (If freezer cooking, freeze now and thaw prior to continuing with cooking instructions).
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Take pork out of bag and reserve marinade.  In a large skillet, over medium high heat, cook pork 6 minutes, browning all sides.
Place in an ovenproof pan and bake at 425 degrees for 15 – 20 minutes or until meat thermometer registeres 160 degrees.
While the pork is cooking, bring reserved marinade to a boil over medium high heat.  After it begins to boil, continue boiling 3-4 minutes until thickened.
Let stand 5 minutes before slicing.
Asian Roasted Carrots:
6 large carrots, halved
3 Tbls. soy sauce
3 Tbls. rice vinegar
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 tsp. minced fresh ginger root
Slice the carrots into sticks.  Combine the soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, sesame oil, and ginger in a ziploc bag.  Add the carrots to the marinade and marinate for 30 minutes.  (If freezer cooking, freeze at this point.  Thaw and discard marinade before cooking).
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Coat a glass baking dish with cooking spray and then add the carrots (without the marinade) to the baking dish.  Roast in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until fork tender. 

Chicke Otsu

Given an 8 1/2 out of 10 by my husband, a very high mark, this recipe was a definite hit!  A new ingredient for me in this recipe was soba noodles, a Japanese buckwheat noodle.  They had a nice texture and good flavor.  I was able to find them at Cub but after a bit of hunting around in the Asian food section.  This recipe was a bit spicy for the boys so if you don’t like a lot of heat, perhaps cut back on the cayenne in the dressing. 

Chicken Otsu
Recipe adapted from: Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson
Ginger sesame dressing:
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1-inch cube fresh ginger peeled and grated
1 tbls. Honey
¾ tsp. cayenne
¾ tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 tbls. Freshly squeezed lemon juice
¼ c. unseasoned brown rice vinegar
1/3 c. shoyu sauce or soy sauce
2 tbls. Extra virgin olive oil
2 tbls toasted sesame oil
Other ingredients:
12 ounces dried soba noodles
3-4 chicken breasts
¼ c. chopped fresh cilantro
3 green onions, thinly sliced
½ cucumber peeled, cut in half, lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
1 small handful of cilantro, coarsely copped for garnish
¼ c. toasted sesame seeds
To make the dressing, combine the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth.  Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and shoyu and pulse to combine.  With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.
Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender.  Then drain and rinse under cold running water. 
While the pasta is cooking, cut the chicken into cubes, season with salt and pepper and brown in olive oil or sesame oil until cooked through and juices run clear.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, the ¼ c. cilantro, green onions, cucumber, and about 2/3 c. of the dressing and toss until well combined.  Add the chicken and toss again gently.  Serve on a platter, garnished with the cilantro sprigs and toasted sesame seeds.

Herb-Crusted Pork Chops

*Update… this could be gluten-free as long as the bread crumbs you use for the pork chops are g/f.

Herb Crusted Pork Chops

8 pork chops, bone-in
1 ½ cups bread crumbs
1 c. fresh parley, chopped
2 t. dried thyme
½ c. olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Cooking day:  mix together breadcrumbs, parley, thyme, olive oil, salt, and pepper.  Coat each pork chop with mixture.  Wrap each chop individually in plastic wrap and then place in a freezer bag.  Freeze.
Serving day: Thaw completely.   Broil on high 2-3 minutes each side.  Lower temperature to 350 degrees and bake for 20 minutes or until pork chops are tender.

Food for Thought:
We grilled these pork chops tonight instead.  Some of the breading fell off but the flavor was still amazing.  To grill, we seared the chops at high heat for 1-2 minutes a side and then turned the heat down to medium-low and continued cooking for about 15 minutes or until cooked through.

Mexi-Salad with Homemade Tortilla Strips

Looking for a way to pack a meal full of super foods and amazing flavors?  With quinoa, black beans, avocado, and much more, this is it.  Mexi-Salad is an ever evolving meal at our house; I never make it the same way twice, but every time it turns out amazing.  Below is the recipe for how I cooked it last night.

Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) is one of the most nutritious of all whole grains.  It is high in fiber, iron, and has eight essential amino acids.  It comes in both white (or light tan) and red and is versatile and easy to cook – and provides a source of protein as well. I buy the Bob’s Red Mill brand.  They rinse it before packaging.  If the brand you buy doesn’t prerinse, do so in a cheese cloth.  It takes away any bitter flavoring.

*Skip the tortilla strips and this meal is a great g/f options.


1 cup quinoa (either color – I used white)
2 T. lime juice
3 tsp. cumin, divided, or more to taste
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups fresh salsa
1 T. olive oil
tomatoes (pictured are both yellow and red cherry tomatoes)
1/2  red pepper, sliced
1/2 orange pepper, sliced
1 can sliced olives
2 cups frozen corn, heated
1-2 avocados, cubed
shredded cheese
4 tortillas
sea salt
olive oil or cooking spray for tortillas


In a one-cup measuring cup, add 2 T. lime juice and fill remainder with water.  Pour lime water and additional 1 c. water into a pan with 1-2 tsp. cumin (depending on taste).  Bring to a boil and add 1 c. quinoa.  Return to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 12 minutes.  Remove from heat and let stand additional 10-15 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray tortillas with olive oil or cooking spray and sprinkle with sea salt.  flip and repeat on other side.  Cut the tortillas into strips and lay out in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and light brown.  Stir once while cooking.

In a skillet, heat 1 Tbls. olive oil and add the black beans, 1-2 tsp. cumin, and salt and pepper to taste.  Saute over medium heat until beans are hot.  Add approx. 1/2 c. fresh salsa and continue cooking until mixture is warm.

Assemble the salad – start with a bed of spinach, add a scoop of the quinoa mixture and a scoop of the beans on top of that.  From there, add veggies to your taste preference (peppers, tomatoes, corn, olives, avocado, cheese, etc.).  Top with additional salsa if it needs additional sauce, and serve with warm tortilla strips.

Food for Thought:

I have never tried doing this as a freezer meal.  However, if I try, I would make the quinoa mixture and freeze in one container.  When reheating the quinoa, you might need additional moisture.  Also, the black bean mixture could be made ahead of time and frozen.  On cooking day, it would be just reheating those two items and serving over the fresh ingredients.  I may try that next time.

This meal was great with my 2 year old as a way to encourage eating the rainbow.  He was able to pick out all the read, orange, yellow, and green foods and even ate a little bit of each!  Add some fresh blueberries and blackberries on the side, you have your whole rainbow for the day covered!

Gnocchi Alla Romana

These Roman-style gnocchi aren’t the usual potato, ricotta, or squash kind. This recipe is for flat semolina gnocchi that is baked and served with a red sauce.  With a glass of red wine, delicious!

Gnocchi Alla Romana

Recipe from: Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson

5 ½ cups milk
¾ c. finely chopped dry packed sun-dried tomatoes
3 cups semolina flour
½ cup unsalted butter
1 c. freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
6 egg yolks
1 ½ tsp. fine grain sea salt
3 c. bright red tomato sauce (see below)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees, clear a lot of counter space, and slather 2 9×13 baking dishes with butter.
Combine the milk and sun dried tomatoes in a large saucepan over medium heat, bring to a simmer, and simmer gently for 1 to 2 minutes, until the tomatoes have softened and rehydrated a bit.  Gradually stir in the semolina flour, mixing until it begins to pull away from the side of the pan; this takes a minute or so.  Remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in ¼ cup of the butter, ¾ c. of the parmesan, the egg yolks, and the salt.  If you let the yolks sit in the hot dough, they will cook and set up so work them in quickly.  Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
Put a layer of cold water on the countertop – more of a glaze than a puddle.  With wet hands, turn the gnocchi dough out onto the damp counter and spread into a ¾ inch thick slab.  Cut the dough into 1 ½ inch circles with a cookie cutter.  Gather up the scraps and press them out again until all the dough is used up.  If the dough is too tacky to stamp, let it cool for another 10 to 20 minutes.  Use a spatula to lift each gnocchi into the prepared baking dish, slightly overlapping each circle on the previous one – similar to a fanned deck of cards.  (Spread between 2 pans – the original recipe called for putting it in one dish but I found that it made way more than our family could eat and cooked a little better when split in two.)

Melt the remaining ¼ c. butter and drizzle it over the gnocchi.  Sprinkle with the remaining parmesan and bake covered for 25 minutes then uncovered for another 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. (Or, cover with plastic wrap and then foil, and then freeze.  Thaw in fridge and follow baking instructions above, remembering to remove plastic wrap before baking.)

About 5 minutes before the end of the baking time, warm the tomato sauce.  Dust the hot gnocchi with a little more parmesan, cut into individual portions, ladle tomato sauce over each, and serve piping hot.
Bright red tomato sauce
2 tbls. Extra virgin olive oil
1 ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
1 (28-oz) can crushed tomatoes
Combine the olive oil, pepper flakes, garlic and salt in a sauce pan.  Over medium high heat, sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the garlic begins to take on the slightest bit of color.  Stir in the tomatoes, bring to a simmer, and cook for 5 minutes.  Remove from the heat and season with more salt to taste.

Enjoy right away or freeze in a freezer bag for later use.  When reheating, simply thaw in the fridge and heat in a sauce pan.

Food for Thought:
I added a pound of spicy turkey Italian sausage with the red sauce, simply because my family enjoys it.  Heidi Swanson is my latest favorite cook/blogger.  She writes the blog 101 Cookbooks.  Her cookbook, Super Natural Cooking, is part of my latest adventure into the world of more organic, whole grain cooking. She offers a lot of practical advice and tips on substituting more natural ingredients for highly processed ones.  I am really excited to try more of her recipes. 
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