Herby Breaded Tilapia

Let me start out by saying that I have not been a fan of tilapia in the past, but that. has all. changed. This pan fried, breaded, seasoned tilapia is tender, flaky, moist, flavorful, delectable, restaurant-grade, and generally amazing. Oh, and it was cooked by El Gastronomo. He is the fish and seafood expert, and knows how to make southern food gourmet style. Pair this moist fish with a few hush puppies, tender, buttered corn on the cob, and apple bran muffins, and you’ll have a knock your socks off meal sure to impress your family and friends. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef, El Gastronomo, and Queenbee. Now for a few words on frying safety with El Gastronomo.

The Chef: “El Gastronomo, it has been some time since you have made your presence known on this website, but you sure know how to make a comeback! Anyway, ya got any tips on frying safety” El Gastronomo: “When frying fish it is always prudent to flip it away from you so that you will not be splattered with hot oil. Also, remember to keep all flammable materials away from the gas flame (as he sets an oven mitt on fire). The Chef: “Your oven mitt is on fire.” El Gastronomo: “Yikes! (extinguishes fire under running water). The Chef: “And this, chefs, is why we should always pay attention to food safety tips.” 

We turn to Queenbee for objective criticism.

The Chef: “Queenbee, you being a expert in the southern food category, please tell us what you thought of this dish.” Queenbee: “I thought it was amazingly delicious and extremely flavorful.” The Chef: “Well, that says it all, doesn’t it?”

The Ingredients: 8 tilapia fillets, 2 cups onion flavored hush puppy mix, 1 cup water, 1 egg, 4 cups chicken broth, 1 tsp. italian seasoning, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes, 1/2 tsp. rosemary, 1 tsp. poultry seasoning, 1 tsp. garlic powder.

Heat the chicken broth in a small pot with the spices until it comes to a simmer, turn off the heat and let sit until the the liquid is still. Add the fish fillets and let them marinate for 30 minutes to an hour. Meanwhile, mix together the hush puppy mix, water, and egg. Add 1/4 cup more of water if the mix is too dry. When the tilapia fillets are done marinating, remove them from the marinade, allow to drain, and halve each one. Preheat your skillet to medium high heat, add one to two inches of olive oil. Cook the breaded fillets two at a time when the oil is hot. Fry until deep golden brown, this should take about three minutes on each side. Serves 8 to 10 people.

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Garden Fresh Pot Pie

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Garden Fresh Pot Pie is similar to my Harvest Vegetable Pot Pie recipe, but different in that it contains fresh vegetables rather than canned. I will admit that this version is more time-consuming, but it is SO worth it! On a side note, you may have noticed that my most recent posts have been short and to the point, and that lately I have not been able to post at all. This is because my family is in the process of moving out of state. As we all know, moving a large family and all of our stuff out of state is very time-consuming, leaving little to no time for hobbies and extravagant cooking. Anyway, enough about me, back to the recipe. Fresh vegetables are an essential component in this dish, not only are they better for you, but they have a distinct flavor that canning takes away. While I am not in any way opposed to using canned vegetables, I do prefer to use fresh if they are available. So if you have a little extra time and access to fresh veggies, go wild and make this veggie-packed dish that is sure to be a comforting, satisfying meal for your friends and family.

The Ingredients: 1 lb. baby carrots, 1 large yellow squash, 1 large zucchini, 1/2 yellow onion, 14 oz. can green beans, 1 family size can condensed chicken soup, 1 can refrigerated jumbo crescent roll dough, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. salt, 2-3 tbsp. melted butter.

Dice carrots, yellow squash, zucchini, and onion. Bring the vegetables to a boil in a large pot of water for fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, halve the beans. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Drain the cooked vegetables and add them, the beans, the chicken soup, and the spices to a large casserole pan. Stir well. Top with the crescent rolls, brush with the melted butter and bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.

The good thing about pot pie is that it is attractive, and it feeds a crowd.;)

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Skinny Baked Potato Soup

Doesn’t everyone love those creamy, smooth, delicious soups that they serve in restaurants? You know, those ones that usually contain half and half or heavy cream….While they are delicious, those of us with sensitive stomachs have not been able to enjoy said delicacies. Until now. I decided it was time for me to post a dairy-free soup recipe that lactose tolerants and lactose intolerants alike will love. Coconut milk, whether it be in a can or a carton, is sweeping the nation as a substitute for many milk products. It is absolutely delicious in soup as it is naturally creamy and smooth, creating the perfect consistency and texture. Skinny Baked Potato Soup is the perfect choice for those of us who have longed to experience rich foods but have been held back by our traitorous digestive systems. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef (who else?), Queenbee, Friar Tyst, The Health Inspector, and La Critico.

The Chef: “Queenbee, lover of potatoes, expert on potato soups, what dost thou think of this delicacy?” Queenbee: “It was very good, well-flavored and soothing to the taste buds.” The Chef: “I will consider this high praise from an expert such as yourself.”

The Chef: “Friar Tyst, do elaborate.” Friar Tyst: “I thought it was kinda soupy.” The Chef: “Hmm, anything else?” Friar Tyst: “I thought it kinda tasted like soup.” The Chef: “Thank you for your detailed comments sir.”

The Chef: “Mr. Health Inspector, your assessment of today’s specialty?” The Health Inspector: “I find that the onion flavor greatly added to it.” The Chef: “Well onions often do.” The Health Inspector: “You also seem to be practicing cleaner kitchen methods.” The Chef: “I am!?” 

The Chef: “And last but not least, La Critico, your thoughts?” La Critico: “The soup was really good but it would be better with peanuts.” The Chef: “That’s…..certainly something to consider…” La Critico: “Cinnamon, that’s just the thing.” The Chef: “Let’s not get carried away.” La Critico: “But what you need is cinnamon.” The Chef: “Cinnamon belongs in the world of baking, NOT cooking.” La Critico: “Well I don’t know about that.”

The Ingredients: 8-9 red potatoes, 4 cups vegetable broth, 8 0z.  coconut milk, 1 medium yellow onion, 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese, 2-3 tbsp. sour cream, 1 large vegetable bouillon (optional, if you don’t have vegetable broth, dissolve the bouillon in 4 cups of water), 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 to 1 tsp. salt, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. parsley flakes.

Peel and dice the potatoes. Add the potatoes, vegetable broth, and spices to a large soup pot. Bring this to a rolling boil for fifteen to twenty minutes. Puree the soup in three batches in your blender or food processor. Add the pureed soup back the the pot with the coconut milk, sour cream, and cheese. Stir well. Let sit for ten to fifteen minutes over medium heat before serving.

Sigh, simple deliciousness, comforting thoughts, warmth for the soul, all in one picture.

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Garden Vegetable Quiche

Eggy, cheesy, full of veggies, warm, hearty, and good for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, I give you simple and delectable quiche! As I was looking through my recipe index, I realized that I have never posted any quiche recipes! A travesty! We have always loved quiche, but unfortunately we only make it every once in a while as it uses quite a few eggs, and we all know that eggs are overpriced….however, we made it this week, and it was delicious! Every time we make it I am reminded how easy quiche is to make, the only hard part is waiting for it to cook, especially if you are hungry.;) It is always surprising how much sauteed vegetables enhance the flavor of baked eggs. I guarantee that you will want to make this recipe again and again. Quiche works great as a dainty, elegant dish to serve at an afternoon luncheon or tea party. That being said, I won’t delay any longer in telling you how to make it.

The Ingredients: 4 carrots, 2 zucchini, 2 bell peppers, 1/3 of a yellow onion, 8 brown eggs, 2 refrigerated pie crusts (the kind that comes in the long box), 1 cup of grated Colby cheese, 1/2 tsp. garlic, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. parsley flakes,  1/2 tsp. salt.

Dice the vegetables and saute them for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside. Place the pie crusts into two standard pie pans, trimming off the excess as needed. Beat the eggs and spices in a large bowl until smooth. Add half of the beaten eggs and half of the sauteed vegetables to each pie pan. Top each quiche with half of the cheese. Gently press the cheese just below the surface of the egg mixture. Bake at 365 degrees for 40 minutes. Reduce heat to 350, cover the quiche with foil, and bake for an additional fifteen to twenty minutes. Serve while warm. If you do not wish to make two quiches, just half this recipe.:)

As you can see, we have one X-large deep dish pie pan rather than two small ones. Quiche always seems to taste better in deep dish form.:P Isn’t it beautiful?

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Spring Chicken Pasta with Veggies

It’s springtime, the birds are singing, the sun is shining, a gentle breeze is blowing, bringing with it the scent of daily fresh-cut grass and constantly running sprinklers that ruin our fence….and I’m dreaming of a light and scrumptious pasta dish containing Farfalle pasta, a cheesy sauce, fresh veggies….and chicken. Let’s just stop here and talk about Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, I LOVE this stuff! It has such an intriguing shape and neutral flavor that you can tailor any way you wish. In the past I have used it to make Crock-Pot Bowtie Lasagna, which is delicious of course, and by the way that needs an updated picture because the current one looks kind of weird…… But then I thought, wouldn’t Farfalle be good with….ALFREDO SAUCE??? So I made it, and I ate it, and it was good……and that ladies and gentleman is my relationship with pasta dishes. So now that I have described this dish with drama and flair, let’s talk about how to make it.

The Ingredients: 12 oz. Farfalle (bow-tie) pasta, 1 small can Four cheese Alfredo sauce, 1 small can Homestyle alfredo sauce, 1 8-10 oz. can condensed chicken soup, 1 soup can of water, 4-6 chicken frozen chicken strips, 1 large or two small zucchini, 3 carrots, 1/2 cup minced yellow onion, 1 large or two small bell peppers, 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. basil, 1/2 tsp. no salt seasoning, 1/2 tsp. garlic.

Dice the vegetables (mince the onion, this is crucial!:)) and saute them in the large skillet with a few tablespoons of olive oil for ten to twelve minutes, adding the onion and spices during the last five minutes or so. Meanwhile, boil the pasta and heat up the chicken in your oven at 375 degrees for that same amount of time. Turn your crock-pot on high. When the vegetables are cooked, add the chicken soup, 1 soup can of water, and alfredo sauce to your crock-pot, mixing until the chicken soup has dissolved. Now chop the chicken into bite size pieces and add it and the cooked vegetables to the crock-pot, mixing until just combined. Let sit for five minutes, then add the pasta. Mix well, turn the crock-pot to keep warm, and serve whenever you wish. You do not have to use a crock-pot for this recipe, it is just the only piece of our cooking equipment big enough to serve this dish in. That being said, this dish feeds a crowd! It would be great for a party or when you have people over for dinner.

Smooth, creamy, delicious…..need I say more?

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Southern Chicken Piccata

El Gastronomo has this thing that he likes, it’s called Chicken Piccata. Chicken Piccata consists of breaded chicken strips cooked in a delectable pan sauce with lemon and vegetables. I can’t imagine why he likes it? He first had it at a certain Italian restaurant that we all know and love, and has been pestering me to recreate it. So I obliged. Up until now I have not recreated this dish because of..those…little…green…orbs. The majority of the world makes Chicken Piccata with capers, but capers are creepy, so I do not cook with them. It’s just that capers are so…..so….slimy, an unappealing shade of dull green, pickled, squishy….strongly flavored….fleshy….Ugh. Anyway, this is a portrayal of why I do not use them. But don’t let that scare you off! If you want to cook with capers then by all means. cook with them! But you can’t make me, nothing you say will convince me, wait, did you say that this dish involves butter? I’ll consider it, maybe.

The Ingredients: 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 1/2 cups chicken broth, 3 tbsp. butter, 1/4 cup flour, the juice of one lemon, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1 cup assorted vegetables (potatoes, carrots, squash, onion), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. no salt seasoning, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. cumin.

If your chicken breasts are frozen, place them in a bowl of room temperature water and let them thaw for 6 to 8 hours. If they are not, then forget what I just said. Use three pie tins to bread the chicken. Put 1 egg and 1/4 cup of water in one, flour in another, and breadcrumbs in a third. Bread them in that order. Cook them for 3 minutes on each side over high heat, then remove them from the pan. Reduce the heat to low and add the butter. When the butter has melted, add the flour, whisk together for one minute. Add the broth, mixing until there are no more lumps. Now add the vegetables and spices, cook for five minutes. Add the chicken strips, fold together and serve while warm.

Now, this dish is not photogenic, therefore we do not have a picture of it. Well, we did…..

Brown Rice with Lemon and Red Beans

Rice is always a good, low-price item to keep on hand in your kitchen. It is a great base for many meals and a simple side dish. Really, you can make anything with rice, it has a very neutral flavor that you can transform into anything. It is best to use a small amount of something with a strong flavor, or the rice can turn out plain. In this case, I used lemon and chicken flavoring, which is always a good combination. Brown rice is an excellent source of natural fiber, and is also good for people who suffer from diabetes. I made it last night as a side dish to go with El Gastronomo’s smoked salmon burgers, which were delicious.

The Ingredients: 2 cups brown rice, 3 cups chicken broth, 1 cup vegetable broth, 2 bell peppers, 3 carrots, 1 cup canned red beans, 1/4 cup diced yellow onion, 1 leek, 1/2 cup lemon juice (1 1/2 lemons), 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. black pepper.

Dice the bell peppers, carrots, and the leek. Saute the carrots, onion(s) and peppers in a medium skillet for fifteen minutes over medium high heat. Set aside. Add chicken broth and vegetable broth to a large pot. If you do not have chicken broth, make instant broth from a ratio of one chicken bouillon to one cup of boiling water. If you do not have vegetable broth, use vegetable bouillon and the same ratio. When the broth(s) comes to a boil, add the salt, pepper, and lemon juice, and rice. Reduce to medium heat, and put the lid partway on the pot. Simmer for 20 minutes or until all but a little bit of the liquid is absorbed. Spoon the mixture into a serving bowl and add the red beans and sauteed vegetables, stir to combine.

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