Friday, September 14, 2012

Fish and chips

Don't be fooled by the title.  This isn't the fish and chips you are thinking of.  This is chips like potatoes chopped and baked that crisp up almost like a potato chip, with fish, just plain, no breading, on top.  Super simple meal and super yummy!
This idea came from Mark Bittman's book the minimalist cooks at home.  So far I'm liking this book.  It is set up so be simple.  Not a ton of ingredients, just simple meals with lots of flavor.  For every recipe he gives a story behind it, the recipe, keys to succes, and with minimal effort ideas (extras to add for more/different flavor, or to add veggies....)  Definitely a book I will continue to investigate while I have it checked out of the library.
This really was super simple.  Aside from peeling and slicing the potatoes, there wasn't an overabundance of work.    I did add one of his with minimal effort suggestions to add garlic (although I was already thinking about doing that when I read it.)    This was a perfect recipe for me.  I had fish in the freezer that I wanted to use, and potatoes in the pantry that I needed to use.
As far as amounts on this recipe - I can't really say too well.  I actually made 2 pans - an 8 X 8 and a 9 X 13 baking side by side.  I had no problem doing this.  I used more potatoes and fish in the 9 X 13 pan and a little less in the 8 X 8 pan.  I'll list the original amounts which say they make 4 servings.


  • 4-5 medium potatoes, 2 lbs or more.  (I used 7 or 8?  kind of lost count.)
  • 6 Tablespoons butter (I used 8 1/2 or 9) -melted -or use olive oil if you are anti-butter.  
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 1/2 lbs white fish about 1 inch thick, skinned - in 2 or more pieces.  (original called for cod.  I used mahi mahi.  4 fillets on one pan (about 2-2.25 lbs) and 2 fillets in the other (about 1 lb)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.  (I put the butter in the pan and put my pans in the oven to melt the butter I used 4 Tablespoons in the 9X13 and 2 1/2 in the 8X8 -see next note) Peel the potatoes and cut into slices about 1/8 inch thick.  (I cut mine on a mandoline and think they were a bit thinner than 1/8 inch.  
  2. Toss the potatoes with 4 Tablespoons of the butter (or just toss in the pan if you already melted the butter in the pan. I'm not sure I'd melt the butter in the pan again.   I loved how the butter browned, but it would be easier to toss the melted butter with the potatoes with my hands which I may opt to do next time.)  Season potatoes liberally with salt and pepper and spread them evenly.  Place pan in the oven.
  3. Cook for 40 minutes checking occasionally, until potatoes are tender and have begun to brown. Remove from oven. (This didn't take 40 minutes for me - maybe because my potatoes were thin.  I set my first timer for 15 minutes (they were already in the 3-5 minutes so max 20 min.) when I checked them, they were already tender and starting to brown.  I stirred them because some were stuck together and not as browned and cooked them for a few more minutes (while I got my fish together and melted some butter - maybe 5-10 minutes.)  
  4. Turn the oven to broil and make sure to have a top rack 4-6 inches from the heat.  Top the potatoes with fish, drizzle with the remaining butter (I used the last of the first stick I had, and a bit more.)  Season with more salt and pepper.  Broil until fish is done, 6-10 minutes - depending on thickness.  Mine took 10 to have all pieces done.  Keep an eye on it while it broils.  I saw a potato starting to burn because it was kind of sticking up, so I knocked it over to flat with a spatula and it solved that problem.


no bake oatmeal peanut butter bites

I found these little beauties on pinterest.  They come from a website that is new to me
I changed them around a bit - grinding my flax and chia to better hide it from the kiddos.  They can sometimes get persnickety about seeds being in their food.  I also didn't bother rolling mine in crushed nuts like she did.  It was just one more step that didn't seem necessary - and of course the first time I made them I was trying to get them done quickly before it was time to pick up my first grader from school.  They worked fine without the nuts on the outside and were such a hit that we made a second batch the next day.  Yea!  A healthy snack everyone likes that is easy to make.  What more can a mom want?


  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 2 Tablespoons flaxseed
  • 2 Tablespoons chia seed
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, chopped - or if you are hurrying like me, crushed in you hand to make smaller pieces.
  • pinch cinnamon
  • pinch salt
  • 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons (6 Tablespoons) creamy peanut butter, melted
  • 1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon (5 Tablespoons) honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 Tablespoons mini chocolate chips
  1. Melt peanut butter and allow to cool slightly.  (I store my peanut butter in the fridge because it is natural peanut butter, so I microwaved it for 30 seconds and stirred.  Then I think I did 30 seconds more - I didn't get it totally soupy, just melted enough to be pourable.)
  2. Grind the flaxseed and chia seed in a coffee grinder (or spice grinder/food processor/blender.)
  3. Combine oats, almonds, flax and chia seed, salt and cinnamon in a large bowl.  Stir.
  4. Stir the honey and vanilla into the peanut butter, then pour that mixture into the oats mixture.  Stir to combine, adding the chocolate chips.  
  5. Roll into desired size balls and place on a silpat on a baking sheet.  I stored mine in the fridge although they had a good enough consistency to be left on the counter.  I just wanted them cooler after coming in from biking back from school.  To tell the truth, I would have stuck them in the freezer like other cookie dough balls I've made, but my 3 year old didn't want them frozen, so take your pick.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Mexican pizzas

Here was another idea from the Cheap. Fast. Good cookbook.  I mixed their idea with the taco pizza that I like to make and kind of made taco pizza with a tortilla shell.  They did have a couple of new ideas for toppings in the book.  I combined their ideas with ours and this is what we ended up with.  I loved that they were quick and easy.  One son didn't want to toast his in the oven, so he just used the beans as burrito topping which is also perfectly acceptable and makes this meal quite adaptable.  I love that even though it was beans, my 3 year old bean hater ate it and asked for more because the beans were "squished."  3/4 boys loved this and had seconds.  Even had to make another can of bean topping.
Warning, now gushing about my favorite tortillas.  I LOVE these tortillas.  If I can ever figure out how to make some like this I would be sooo excited.  They are corn tortillas with all the flavor of corn, but in the ingredients there is some vital wheat gluten which makes them pliable like a regular tortilla.  They also come in a taco size - not the tiny regular corn tortilla size.  However, they are like $3 for a package of only 6.  I splurge for them occasionally because they are so tasty.  They are made by La Tortilla factory and called hand made style Corn Tortillas.  I have to buy them at Randalls.  It is the only place I know that carries them.  Try them if you love corn tortillas.    OK, done gushing.  Back to the recipe.
 We did these really low key.  I let the kids pick a type of tortilla, I put the bean base on it, then cheese, and they picked at least 2 of the 4 veggie toppings available.


  • 1 15 oz can black beans (pinto would also work fine)
  • 1 cup salsa (today I used our favorite costco salsa Jack's.  Love it's hint of lime)
  • tortillas -used desired type.  I used flour and corn
  • shredded cheese - I used sharp cheddar, but Monterrey Jack, or Mexican blend, or Colby jack would all be good.
  • toppings - I used corn, canned chopped green chiles, chopped sweet peppers (red and yellow), and olives today.  You could also include onions, jalapenos, tomato, avocado, and even meat if desired.  
  • Salsa or sour cream for serving (optional if desired -one son added sour cream -no one added salsa today.)
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Mash black beans with a potato masher or fork.  Mix with salsa.
  3. Place as many tortillas as will fit on a large baking sheet.  Top with bean mixture, cheese and whatever toppings you desire.
  4. Bake for about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and beans are heated. (Honestly we didn't time them at all.  I just went about making a second batch asking the next group what they wanted on them and checked periodically to see if the first batch was done.)
  Like I mentioned, I did end up opening a second can of beans and making a second batch of beans.  Another option is to just use refried beans if you want to be quicker, but I prefer making my own bean spread because it is super easy, and tasty.

cherry pecan brownies

I've been eyeballing these in the Rodale whole foods cookbook I have checked out of the library for more than a couple of weeks now.  I finally made them this evening making substitutions as needed /desired.  They like to claim the the book that these are made healthier by using flax seed instead of 2 eggs, but they still use 2 more eggs.  The book also used plain old white sugar and brown sugar.  I swapped the plain old white with some healthier alternatives.  I also fiddled with the chocolate - mostly because I didn't have any bittersweet chocolate, but I did have some dark chocolate chips.  The brownies turned out wonderful.  I definitely don't want to change anything and ruin them.  Super moist and chewy but not doughy.  To me the perfect  brownie texture.  Add to that lots of nice crunch from the pecans and chewy bits of cherries.  WOW.  I had to give some to the neighbors to keep myself from eating them for lunch today.  :)  I must get back off sugar.  :)


  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 10 oz. dark chocolate chips.  (Mine were a 63% cacao all natural variety)
  • 2 heaping Tablespoons flaxseed (I used light)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar - I used a combination of sucanat (about 2/3 cup) and coconut palm sugar (the remaining 1/3 cup or so.
  • 1 cup brown sugar (I just gave up and used brown sugar for this.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a 9 X 13 pan with 2 sheets of foil crisscross.  Oil the foil.
  2. In a small ovenproof bowl (I used a very large mug) combine the butter, oil and chocolate.  Place in the oven while it preheats and let the butter and chocolate melt.  (I loved this idea - no using the microwave, just the oven that is already on anyway.  Takes about 10 minutes.  I took it out and whisked/stirred it to get the last bit of butter to melt.)
  3. Grind the flaxseeds in a coffee grinder (or food processor or blender.  I just prefer the coffee grinder.)  Mix with water and let set. (now would be a good time to chop nuts and cherries -letting the flax gel, and the chocolate melt.)
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs, sugars, vanilla, salt, and flaxseed.   Stir in the chocolate mixture.  Stir in the flour.  Fold in the nuts and cherries.
  5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 45 minutes or until the toothpick poked into the center comes out with a few moist crumbs.  (45 minutes was perfect for me.  The toothpick didn't have any crumbs, and the top didn't look super crackly or anything but it didn't look under done.  Top felt done with my finger, and I figured no crumbs was a good sign but worried that they were overdone.  They weren't - they were perfect.)
  6. Cool in pan before cutting into squares. (book says 32.  I made 24 (4 X 6) and they seemed small enough.  Lets just say Mr. 15 year old cut his own on the second half and didn't follow my scoring at the edge and took a brownie twice as big for lunch today.  :)  I'm sure he thinks he took a small piece.  :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Chicken and veggies

This made a decent chicken (which for me is saying something because since I started eating a lot more vegetarian, I don't really care for chicken much at all.)  I did have a couple of problems time wise with this recipe.  It said I could make it in a crock pot for 7-8 hours on low or 1.5 in the oven.  I translated that to 3-4 on high in the crock pot, but didn't have enough time for that so I did 2 in the crock pot on high and ended up with 1.5 in the oven and it still wasn't cooked all over.  We just ate the legs, thighs, and parts of the breast that got cooked through.  Just a warning to plan ahead with you time.
This is from the cheap fast good book, so it is super simple.  I just made it a bit more healthy since it used seasoning salt.  I'm not a big fan of the list of ingredients on that stuff so I used an organic no salt spice blend and sea salt.  Worked out well and had a great flavor.


  • 4 carrots, peeled and chopped into 1 inch pieces
  • 2 ribs celery, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 very large onion (seems all of ours are very large if going by the standard that 1 large = 1 cup diced.) cut into 8 pieces (or 2 smaller onions quartered)
  • 5 baking potatoes (medium to small size) peeled and quartered
  • 2 teaspoons organic no salt seasoning (I use one I got at costco)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 chicken, I used an organic chicken
  1. preheat oven to 350.  In a small container, mix no salt seasoning with sea salt.
  2. Prep veggies and toss in the bottom of a  large oven safe  pot with a lid (or crock pot).  Sprinkle about 1/2 of the seasoning mix on the veggies.
  3. Prepare the chicken by removing neck and any giblets that may be in the cavity of the bird.  Rinse the chicken inside and out with cold water removing any excess fat.  I also removed the skin from everything but the legs.  Place the chicken, breast side up, in the pot on top of the veggies rearranging if necessary so the lid closes tightly.  Sprinkle with remaining seasoning mix.  
  4. Pour 1/2 cup water into the pot on the side of the chicken.
  5. Bake until meat thermometer reads 180 about 1.5 hours.  (I'd be happy with 160/165 and hope for some carryover.  
  6. cut chicken and serve with veggies.
alternative cooking - make in a crockpot and cook for 7-8 hours on low.

Bean and Tortilla Soup

This week my cookbook of choice has been another I have checked out of the library called Cheap. Fast. Good!  It is a great book full of time saving ideas ... however, I really had to pick and choose to find ideas that fit with a healthy lifestyle - lots of canned items -of course.  Seems like most of the quick cook books are.  I have to say that I have enjoyed making some quicker meals this week.
I loved this soup - think chicken tortilla soup but with beans instead of chicken.  I loved the addition of lime.  Added a great extra flavor.  I made the recipe as posted here (similar to the book in quantity and it said it served 4)  but if making again, I would more than likely add a third can of beans, more corn, and another cup of broth and adjust spices accordingly (1.5 times chili powder, cumin, sugar and lime) to make it serve my family.  Luckily DH did not eat at home and there was only about 1/2 bowl of left overs.  Aaron wasn't happy about this, but I smashed his beans and he ate at least 10 bites of soup with me spooning it too him.


  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1 15 oz. can kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 15 oz. can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup frozen yellow corn, rinsed to defrost
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • juice of 1 small lime
  • tortilla chips (a few crushed in the bottom of each bowl.
  • shredded cheese (cheddar, monterrey Jack, or Mexican blend) if desired - pretty sure we skipped this.
  1. In a 4 1/2 quart soup pan,  saute onion in butter until fragrant.  
  2. Add beans, tomatoes, garlic, corn, chili powder, and cumin to the pot.  Stir to blend.  Add broth, sugar and lime juice.  
  3. Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes to blend the flavors.  
  4. To serve, crush the chips slightly and place in the bottom of the bowl.  Ladle the soup over the chips.  Top with cheese.


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