It’s beautiful outside! I mean the type of breathtaking beautiful that makes you want to sing out loud, dance without music and laugh at seemingly nothing at all. I don’t know about you, but on days like this I get a craving for tacos like none other. Oh, and a margarita (on the rocks, extra salt please)!
My first encounter with fish tacos was in Knoxville, TN (what are the odds) at La Costa (a restaurant that has long since closed). The owner graciously shared his laborious recipe with me ages ago and I’ve finally carved out a week night solution that is palette pleasing and super easy!
What you’ll need:
4 tilapia (or other mild-white fish) filets, cut in half lengthwise
1/3 cup cornmeal
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 small red cabbage shredded
1 serrano pepper finely minced
3 tbsp sugar
1/2 cup rice wine vinegar
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cup natural sour cream
1 tbsp sriracha
salt & pepper
1 large heirloom tomato diced
1/2 large onion diced
Juice of 1 lime
1 chopped handful of cilantro
8 flour tortillas
canola oil for frying
What you’ll do:
Combine sugar, vinegar, coriander and a bit of salt. Add cabbage and serrano pepper. Cover and allow to marinate in the refrigerator overnight or at least 4 hours. (Hello, red-cabbage slaw)!
Combine onion, tomato, lime juice, cilantro and a bit of salt. Then set aside (Pico de Gallo, done)!
Combine sour cream and sriracha, then set aside (spicy crema, Boom)!
Salt and pepper the fish filets generously on all sides.
Mix flour, cornmeal, and panko with cajun seasoning in a plastic bag (easy cleanup). Add the fish and shake well to coat with the breading.
Heat canola oil in frying pan to medium heat. Add fish filets (careful not to crowd the pan). And increase heat to medium-high.
Fry fish for about 3 minutes on each side or until the breading is a beautiful, golden brown.
While fish is frying rejuvenate those tortillas! You can either wrap in foil in a warm (300 degree) oven for about 7 minutes or place on the stovetop one at a time in a dry, high heat skillet for about 10 seconds on each side.
Layer it in … Tortilla, fish, cabbage slaw, pico and spicy crema.
Here’s the funny thing about being a foodie … the more you love food, the less you know what foods you really want to eat at any given time. I find the biggest arguments I have with my beloved are truly about what to have for dinner. Sometimes there’s just no correct answer. But today (insert thankfulness) there is one.
Granny’s Fried Chicken
Now, I’m not saying MY grandmother is the only one who knows what to do by way of fried chicken. But, for a gal that refuses to eat hot foods cold – this is the recipe that breaks all bounds. It took me 20 years to realize that more often than not – simple is truly better. I’m honored to share this one with you. *Please note, there may be some terms that make no sense to you (if you’re not Southern or at least from these here parts, but keep at it. It’s well worth your time.
What you’ll need:
12 drumsticks (although, works with any chicken cuts you desire). Nope. Leave the skin on and all in tact.
3 cups all purpose flour
Iodized (you know, like Morton’s) salt
A lot and I mean a lot of pepper
Canola/ peanut oil (enough to coat your skillet and fill to 1/2 an inch)
What you’ll do:
Heat oil in skillet to medium high.
Place chicken in the largest bowl you’ve got.
Salt generously – don’t worry about shaking it or anything fancy. *If you have more layers (due to constrained bowl size, fret not! Simply salt each layer generously. And yes! It’s normal to think you’ve got too much salt going. Again, DO NOT WORRY!
In another bowl, pour flour. Then add chicken pieces (no more than 6 at a time). Toss to coat thoroughly. Do not, again DO NOT be shy.
Place first batch of chicken into skillet and turn heat up to high (the temperature of the chicken drops the temperature of the oil – thus this is the most important step folks)!
Generously pepper the chicken (while in the skillet).
When the edges of the chicken turn “kindly” or golden brown (about the shade of a toffee candy), flip your chicken.
Pepper generously again.
When all sides of the chicken are toffee colored or 165 degrees, remove and …
Let me just go ahead and get this out of the way. Confession: I’ve had a long standing love affair with mac ‘n cheese – homemade concoctions, boxed shortcuts, and restaurant versions alike. Celebrations, pot lucks, down on your luck, fed up with it all and just because … all perfectly sound reasons to break out the good stuff.
I can admit, I have fixated just a bit. You know, gone overboard. But being an all or nothing girl definitely has it’s perks. This is the first … hope you enjoy!
What you’ll need …
16 oz. cooked and drained penne pasta
6 tbsp butter
4 tbsp all purpose flour
2 cups half & half
1 cup shredded smoked gouda
1 lb. quality diced (1/2″ cubes) bacon
2 shallots minced
2 cups fresh kale
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
salt & pepper to taste
What you’ll do …
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium saucepan cook bacon pieces. When nearly cooked crispy, add shallots and kale. Once kale is wilted. Remove mixture from heat and set aside.
In the same saucepan, add 6 tablespoons of butter. Allow to melt slowly, whisking consistently. Then add one at a time, the tbsp of flour … again, whisking to combine rapidly and consistently. Add the half & half in the same fashion.
Once sauce begins to thicken. Add smoked gouda, nutmeg, salt & pepper.
Toss the cooked penne with the kale mixture. Then pour cheese sauce over the the pasta in a 9×9 pan.
Bake at 350 until top is golden brown and edges are bubbling.
I’m not sure about the rest of you out there, but when cold & rain combine I believe it’s a clear sign to do absolutely nothing! And that nothing, you’re busy doing on said rainy, cold day should be served with a side of beef stew.
I don’t remember growing up with beef stew as a creature comfort (shame on you, Myie)! So the recipe I’m sharing with you today is a combination of Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef Stew, Matoo’s delicacy arsenal and a bit of my own intuition.
What you’ll need …
1 1/2 lbs. chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 bottle of enjoyable red wine (I used Arrington Vineyards, Red Fox Red)
2 large potatoes, peeled & diced
4 large carrots, peeled & diced
3 ribs celery, washed and diced
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 smashed cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground, smoked paprika
2 1/2 cups stock (I used chicken, ironically – but, anything is fine)
2 cups flour
2 tbsp. quality olive oil
Season beef generously with salt, pepper and paprika. Pour flour and seasoned beef into large bag, then shake to coat. In a large dutch oven, heat oil to medium high. Add beef (shaking off excess flour) and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Pour bottle of red wine in, scrape bits from bottom of pan. Once heated through, add browned meat, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, stock and cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Add potatoes, celery and carrots. Continue to simmer until potatoes are tender. Serve with bread, biscuits and/or small salad. Enjoy!