16 September, 2013

Light and Lemony Fish Cakes

It's official.  Crab cakes are my favorite food. 

Since moving to Denver, I forgot how much I love crab cakes. Back in PA, the Fiance used to make fun of me- if we ever went out to eat, and crab cakes were on the menu- well, everyone knows what I'm ordering! I can't help myself!  They're just so wonderful! Especially when in Maryland with the Fiance's family. 
This recipe may not be seasonally appropriate, but I found myself in a small crisis recently. My refrigerator is broken. Which means everything in the freezer is defrosting, including a bag of frozen tilapia. FISH CAKE TIME!
You can really taste the lemon in these cakes, it's light and refreshing.  I dusted the cakes with paprika, chili powder, and fresh pepper before pan-frying and it made for a nice crispy exterior, the cakes flaking apart easily with a fork. These fish cakes are chock full of fish, not a lot of filler here.  Just like a fish cake (and crab cake) should be.  

One of my favorite things about this recipe is it's perfect for make-ahead meals.  You can make these fish cakes, freeze them, and then just pop them out when needed for a quick, delicious, light meal. Serve with your favorite tartar sauce, or even better- homemade tartar sauce. 

Light and Lemony Fish Cakes

1 lb fresh or frozen tilapia fillets 
2 tbsp olive oil
2 egg whites, lightly beaten
2 tbsp mayonnaise
1 1/2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp dijon mustard
6 tbsp panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
2 shallots, minced (about 2 tsp)
3 dashes hot sauce
1/2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper 
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place fish fillets in a baking dish and rub with a tsp of olive oil. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, until fish is cooked through.  Remove from oven and cool completely.  Pat excess moisture off with a paper towel when cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the egg whites, mayo, lemon juice, mustard, breadcrumbs, parsley, shallots, and hot sauce. Season with a bit of salt and pepper.  When fish is cool, flake it with a fork into small chunks (being careful not to mash it!) and add it to the bowl. Mix well. Form into 6 equal size patties. Place on a clean baking sheet in the freezer for 15 minutes before cooking.  At this point, you can leave them in the freezer until frozen, remove them and double wrap in plastic wrap and store in ziploc freezer bags for one month if you are making ahead. Defrost before cooking.
  3. After patties have gotten a little stiff after being in the freezer for 15 minutes, remove them and heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. In a small bowl, mix together the paprika, chili powder, and fresh pepper. Sprinkle this mixture over both sides of the patties. 
  4. Once oil is hot, place the patties in the pan and saute until a nice golden brown, about 2 minutes per side.  Adding the fish cakes before the oil is hot will make it soggy- the most important step here is waiting for the oil to be hot enough. 
  5. Serve immediately. 

27 August, 2013

Veggie Loaded Meatloaf


It sounds so boring. So plain. Some meat. In a loaf form. Woo. 

But I love meatloaf. It never sounds exciting, but I everytime I find myself shoveling forkfuls into my mouth (in a most lady-like manner, of course), scooping up all the crumbs I've dropped on the table (and the floor, in the most lady-like fashion). 
The thing about meatloaf is it's really not that healthy. You've got a bunch of meat- usually a mixture of beef and fatty pork, traditionally topped with a bunch of bacon, loaded with bread crumbs, topped with some form of ketchup/ sugar combo.  

So I 'healthified' it. I skipped bacon. In place of regular 'ole beef I used grassfed beef (85% lean). In place of pork I used ground turkey.  And in place of bread crumbs I used crushed almonds. Add in a bunch of healthy veggies like kale, carrots, peppers, and even apple, and there you have it- my version of a healthier meatloaf. 

The kale I added had already been sauteed in garlic with tomatoes (the acid in tomatoes will cut the bitterness in kale- I almost always add tomatoes when making kale). I added the apple for a little sweetness to further combat the bitter kale (The Fiance sure does hate kale). I threw in every other veggie I could find in the fridge, which admittedly, wasn't much. To hold the meatloaf together, I pulsed some almonds in a food processor until ground but not powder to replace the bread crumbs/bread. It worked out well- the almonds added a bit of crunch, though it is a more delicate meatloaf than one made with bread crumbs.  Definitely let cool 10 minutes before you attempt to slice or it'll fall apart. Use the sharpest knife you have to slice. 
Funny story. The Fiance is all like 'what can I do to help?!'  (This means he wants me to say 'nothing, sit down, have a beer')  I say ' Peel these carrots'.  

'I don't know how to do that!' says The Fiance.  I cock my eyebrow.  'Just use this peeler and peel it!'

I continue on tornado-ing around the kitchen, flinging random sauces at walls and throwing crumbs on the floor. I look over at him.  He's peeled the carrot. And kept on peeling until all he's got is shaved carrot. 'I thought you wanted Juliet carrots!' he says to me.  JULIET CARROTS. Not julienne. I almost died. 

I took over the peeling from there. 

So take caution if asking your hubby for help in this recipe, it can get a little sketchy :)
Veggie Loaded Meatloaf

1 lb grass-fed beef (I used 85% lean)
1 lb turkey sausage
3 carrots, peeled and shredded with a shredder
3 stalks celery, diced small
1 bell pepper of your choice (I used half yellow pepper, half orange- what I had on hand)
4 shallots, peeled and minced
1/4 apple, diced
1/2 cup cooked kale
1 egg
1 cup whole almonds, placed in food processor to make 3/4 cup almond crumbs.
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper

Caramelized Onion Topping:
1/4 cup caramelized onions
1/2 cup ketchup
6 tbsp raw honey
1 tsp dijon
2 tsp sriacha or hot sauce of choice (increase or decrease based on your preference)

Preheat oven to 325. 

1. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the bell peppers. Saute 10 minutes, until beginning to soften. Add the shallots.  Saute another 10-15 minutes, until peppers are mostly soft.  Remove from heat and let cool. 

2. Add the meat to a large bowl, and add the carrots, celery, cooled peppers, apple, kale, almonds, parsley, salt and pepper. Use your hands (clean hands) to mix well. Get in there, don't be shy! Form into a loaf, Using your hands to 'smack it' into a loaf form.  Place on baking sheet, and throw in oven.  It will bake for about an hour, until internal temp reaches about 155 to 160 degrees. 

3. In a small bowl, mix together the ketchup, raw honey, dijon, and sriacha.  Divide this mixture into two small bowls. Into one bowl, add the caramelized onions. Pour the ketchup/caramelized onion mixture onto the meatloaf in the oven.  About 15 minutes before the meatloaf is done, pour half of the remaining ketchup mixture on top. 

4. When meatloaf is done, let cool 10-20 minutes before slicing. Serve with remaining ketchup sauce. 

26 August, 2013

Healthier Sweet Potato Casserole

One of my favorite things in the world is sweet potato casserole.  Probably due to the insane amounts of sugar that are added to this side dish.  Brown sugar is usually mixed in and some sort of candy coating goes on top- often marshmallows (made with sucralose and gelatin- gelatin is made from animal hooves and bones) and more sugar.

 So I've made a healthier, less sweet version. Sweet potatoes are naturally sweet (duh), so I don't see a reason to load up on added sugar.  I added 1 tsp of honey to 2 cups mashed sweet potato, and then added a granola topping mixed with a bit of turbino sugar (also called muscavado sugar- a brown sugar made by adding mollasses to white sugar). Turbino sugar gives a nice sugary crunch. 

Sweet potatoes are also considered one of the world's healthiest foods, so don't wait until Thanksgiving to eat! They give you a big dose of beta-carotene, are high in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and also contain vitamin D, vitamin A, iron, fiber, potassium  and magnesium- the 'relaxation and anti-stress' mineral- necessary for healthy artery, blood, bone, heart, muscle, and nerve function. Read more about sweet potatoes health benefits here.  
It may not be Thanksgiving but I'm enjoying sweet potatoes year round.  If it WAS Thanksgiving, this is a nice make-ahead dish.  You can add the sweet potato mixture to a glass baking dish and store in refrigerator a day or two.  Just add the granola topping right before you pop in the oven or it'll get soggy in the fridge. 
Sweet Potato Casserole

Sweet Potatoes
2 cups mashed sweet potatoes
1 tsp honey
2 tbsp melted butter
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/4 cup milk

Granola Topping
1 1/2 cups granola 
2 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup turbino sugar (can also use brown sugar if you have on hand)

Preheat oven to 325.

1. Lightly beat egg. Add all sweet potato ingredients to bowl and mix well. Pour into 8 x 8 glass baking dish.

2. Toss all granola ingredients together. Sprinkle on top of sweet potatoes. 

3. Bake 45 min to an hour, until granola topping a light brown in color.