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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Cheap and Easy Dinner - Cajun Baked Tilapia with Yellow Rice and Black Beans

Tilapia With Cajun Seasoned Crumb Topping
Diana Rattray

Cheap and Easy - just the way I like my dinners.  So last week at my weekly dinner with my mom - she, as usual, made a very tasty tilapia using only Cajun Seasoning, Garlic Salt and Olive Oil.  I wanted to recreate it this week but with a different twist.  I found a recipe online for baked Cajun Tilapia and decided to jazz it up a bit with Panko breadcrumbs.  It came out so delicious and super super easy.  If I can make this without a disaster and have it turn out yummy, then it should be a complete cake-walk for anyone else.

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 4 to 6 tilapia fillets
  • 1 cup soft fresh bread crumbs
  • 4 tablespoons butter, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
  • Pinch dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Dash black pepper


Heat oven to 400°. Lightly grease a large shallow baking dish. Arrange fish fillets on the prepared baking pan. Brush with 1 tablespoon of the melted butter. Combine the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter with the bread crumbs and seasonings. Sprinkle the crumbs over the tilapia fillets. Bake the fish fillets for 15 to 20 minutes, or until fish is cooked through. Fish will flake easily with a fork when done.
Carefully remove the fillets to plates with a spatula.
Serves 4.

I then bought Yellow Rice on sale at my local grocery store and just added a little hot sauce and  black beans and called it a side.

You can find the recipe here

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Recipe Gurl's Review of Giada's Spinach and Cannellini Bean Dip

Don’t be scared by the appearance of this dip, it is sooo good, and for anyone trying to lose/maintain weight, get ready for an event, or just getting ready to get into a bikini, this is a great thing to snack on throughout the day, or even to replace a meal with. I make this weekly and eat if for dinner after I go to the gym just so I'm not eating something heavy right after working out. It says to use a food processor, but for the first year I made this dip I didn’t have one so I used a blender, but a food processor is MUCH easier to use with the recipe now that I have one. I love dipping Trader Joes less sodium pita chips in this. If you can't find cannellini beans in the grocery store, sometimes they are called "Great Northern Beans" these are the same thing.


2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (6-ounce) bags baby spinach
1 (15-ounce) can cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil, over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add 1/2 of the spinach and cook for 2 minutes until wilted. Repeat with the remaining spinach. Let the mixture cool for a few minutes.

Place the remaining olive oil, spinach mixture, cannelloni beans, lemon juice, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor.

Blend until the mixture is smooth. Transfer to a small serving bowl. Serve with endive spears, crostini or pita chips.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Best Lettuce Wraps Ever!

So if you haven't already figured it out, Recipe Gurl is soooooo NOT me.  It's actually my best friend who is a whiz in the kitchen.  I, on the other hand, struggle tremendously with anything remotely related to baking and cooking.  I can follow the recipe to a tee and still end up with a disgusting, inedible mess.  So when I decided to tackle the most amazing lettuce wraps my mom made awhile back, I had very low hopes.  I'm not sure why, but every single time I make something, I always forgot atleast one ingredient - this time was no exception - I forgot the large onion!  Great, I was about to give up, but something told me to push through it.  Somehow, even with the missing onion and disaster of a kitchen, I ended up with the most delicious lettuce wraps I've ever had.  Yes, these beat out PF Changs and Pei Wei anyday!  Not to mention, MUCH healthier!  I used ground turkey instead of the beef ( I don't eat red meat) and even my boyfriend who hates when I sub turkey for beef, could not get enough of these yummy morsels. 

  • 16 Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves

  • 1 pound lean ground beef -- I used GROUND TURKEY

  • 1 tablespoon cooking oil

  • 1 large onion, chopped 

  • 2 cloves fresh garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce

  • 1/4 cup hoisin sauce

  • 2 teaspoons minced pickled ginger

  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar

  • Asian chile pepper sauce (optional)

  • 1 (8 ounce) can water chestnuts, drained and finely chopped

  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped

  • 2 teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

  • Directions

    1. Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not tear them. Set aside.
    2. In a medium skillet over high heat, brown the ground beef in 1 tablespoon of oil, stirring often and reducing the heat to medium, if necessary. Drain, and set aside to cool. Cook the onion in the same pan, stirring frequently. Add the garlic, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, ginger, vinegar, and chile pepper sauce to the onions, and stir. Stir in chopped water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil, and cooked beef; continue cooking until the onions just begin to wilt, about 2 minutes.
    3. Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter, and pile meat mixture in the center. To serve, allow each person to spoon a portion of the meat into a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito, and enjoy!
    You can also find this recipe HERE.

    Tuesday, March 8, 2011

    What Did Recipe Girl Cook This Weekend?

    What did Recipe Gurl cook this weekend??......Her ode to fancy in minutes and Trader Joe's ready made pizza dough...
    Saturday Night: Chicken with Wine


    • 1 tablespoon flour
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breast, sliced into 8 cutlets and pounded thin
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
    • 10 ounces mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 large shallot, finely chopped
    • 1 cup red wine
    • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken broth
    • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves


    1. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Coat the chicken, shaking off any excess.
    2. In a large, heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add the chicken and cook, turning once, until just cooked through, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate. Add 1/2 tablespoon butter and the mushrooms to the pan and cook, stirring, until browned, about 5 minutes; transfer to the plate of chicken. Stir in the shallot and the remaining 1 tablespoon butter. Add the wine and chicken broth and simmer until reduced by one-third, about 5 minutes.
    3. Return the chicken and mushrooms to the pan, add the thyme and cook, turning, to heat through; season with salt.

    This is Rachel Ray's quick and healthier version of coq au vin. It turned out great, but I did make a few tweaks, the recipe says to use chicken breasts cut into 8 cutlets and pounded thin, to save time I just bought thin sliced chicken breats. Instead of fresh thyme I used 1/2 tsp of dried thyme. Also, I cooked the shallots for longer than a minute, I probably did about 3 minutes to develop the flavor more. When adding the chicken back in, I recommend leaving the chicken and mushrooms simmer in the wine and broth mixture for at least 10 minutes to soak up the flavor. For sides I quartered red baby potatoes, drizzled them with olive oil, kosher salt, and dried dill and cooked them in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes. I also popped asparagus in the oven at the same temp for 15 minutes, i just drizzled them with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a little lemon juice. Cook both of these in the oven at the same time along with this easy chicken dish and you have a faked fancy dish in 30, I mean come on, anything that I can used presliced mushrooms with is a winner.

    Sunday night: Sausage, Pepper and Onion Pizza


    • 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough
    • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 pound hot italian sausages, casings removed
    • 1 onion, sliced
    • 2 red bell peppers, sliced
    • Salt and pepper
    • 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
    • 3/4 cup ricotta cheese
    • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese


    1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven, place an inverted baking sheet on top and preheat to 500°. Using oiled hands, stretch the pizza dough to fit a parchment-lined baking sheet.
    2. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up, until no longer pink, about 5 minutes. Remove from the pan and pour out any remaining grease. In the same skillet, add 2 tablespoons olive oil, the onion and peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and the rosemary.
    3. Scatter the sausage, onion and peppers across the pizza dough, leaving a 3/4-inch border. Dollop with the ricotta and sprinkle the parmesan on top; drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Set the baking sheet on the inverted baking sheet in the oven and bake until the crust is crisp and golden-brown, about 20 minutes.
    This turned out better than I thought it would. Every time I try to make a pizza I end up with a soggy crust, but thanks to my new buy from Crate and Barrel, the 16' Pizza Crisper (had to get myself a little something while I was buying about 5 wedding gifts) the crust turned out perfectly, I totally recommend it, well worth the $16 bucks. I think Target also has something similar as well. I tweaked a couple things in this recipe that I think made a big difference. I used Trader Joe's ready made whole wheat pizza dough which I think is the greatest thing ever, you buy it in the refrigerated section and it's all ready for you to roll out. All I did was spray the pizza crisper with non-stick spray and kneaded it out on the pan with my hands. Instead of pouring the olive oil over all of the toppings like the recipe says, I poured the olive oil on the crust before putting any of the toppings on to make sure the crust didn't turn out dry. I didn't use rosemary, instead I put about 1/4 tsp of fennel seed in the pan and let it cook for about a minute before adding the peppers and onions. Lastly, I don't really like the consistency of ricotta cheese, so I used fresh mozzarella instead. I added a salad on the side, drizzled it with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and a little salt and pepper (to make myself feel healthy and balance out the fact that I was eating bread topped with sausage and cheese).