Fresh Fish Tacos

I have never been a fan of fish but they say that in marriage, sacrifices have to be made, so every once in a while I have to cook something that my husband really adores: like fish tacos. I have never been a fan of fish. I don’t like the texture, I think it smells weird, it feels squishy in my mouth and it makes me think of eating a jellyfish, which is also a fish, so maybe that’s not entirely weird. Actually, I don’t think a jellyfish is scientifically a fish, but that’s a whole other thing. Anyways, Josh loves fish, he’s a traditional Maine boy and he loves everything from the sea. Could I forever deprive him of that? No, probably not. So I figured of all the fish recipes, this would be the one I would most likely enjoy. Mostly because I can throw fifty million things on top so that I can’t actually taste the fish. The first time I made these I was really pleasantly surprised. All these ingredients work together to give you a really nice, textural experience in your mouth. There is soft, there is crunch, there is bright acidic flavor, it’s really fantastic.

Now, you may look below and say: um, Jenny, there are fifty million ingredients here, this looks very complicated. It’s not. Continue scrolling to the directions where you will see, it really is very simple. It’s mostly chopping, well, it’s really all chopping. A majority of the ingredients you probably even have on hand.

I promise for a healthy and easy dinner, this one is a winner. Your husband, boyfriend, random hook-up or stranger, will really love you for it.

Serves my family of four (2 adults & 2 crazy children)

INGREDIENTS

For the marinade:
1 1/2 lbs. of fresh haddock
Juice of 4 limes
1 tablespoon cumin
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon pepper

For the pickled cabbage:
1 1/2 cups of red cabbage, cut into small slivers
2-3 cups red wine vinegar (enough to cover your cabbage)
1 teaspoon of salt
1 teaspoon pepper

Toppings & Accompaniments:
1 package of corn tortillas (8-10)
2-3 radishes, cut into small slivers
1 large carrot, cut into small slivers
Pico (2 large tomatoes, cut into squares, 1 dash of fresh cilantro, minced, juice of 1 lime, dash of minced red onion, salt & pepper to taste)

DIRECTIONS

1. Start by marinating your fish. Toss the fish along with all the ingredients into a bowl, rub the fish down with the spices and allow to sit while you do all the chopping.

2. Pickle your cabbage, I don’t like mine to sit too long, about 30 minutes or so. Toss your finely chopped cabbage in a bowl with all the ingredients, mix up and allow to sit. Drain excess vinegar when ready to serve.

3. Chop all your toppings, prepare your pico. The pico is what really makes this recipe shine, it is simple and bright. A traditional pico has more ingredients but for the sake of keeping things easy, I left some of those out. Cut all the ingredients for the pico, give a toss with a spoon and allow to sit while the flavors meld.

4. Heat up your grill. Once the grill is hot, throw your fish on. Problems with that? Spray a piece of tinfoil with nonstick spray and lay the fish on there so it’s easier to flip on the grill. I even placed my tortillas on the grill for a moment to give them a little kick. You will know your fish is done when it goes from more of a clear to a pearl white. Remove from grill.

5. Place all your ingredients on the table and start building your perfect fish taco. I like to throw a couple small pieces on a corn tortilla along with a dash of radishes, carrots, pickled cabbage and the pico. The crunch is really amazing with the soft texture of the fish. Enjoy!

Tomato+Cuke+Feta & Chicken Wraps

dinner feature

Weeknights in my house are getting cray-zy. I mean, absolutely crazy. We have two working parents, a two year old in school with randomly placed days/hours, Emma in 2nd grade with all sorts of new homework that requires actual attention, my stupid ass trying to pull off this half marathon and my poor husband, who, if subjected to one more life rant, may just stick a pillow over my face. Seriously, everyday is becoming an adventure and I feel the squeeze by Tuesday really coming on full force. Just getting out of the house in the morning feels like a full scale production and going to bed at night, let’s not even go there. Lucky for my husband and I, we had a pretty amazing date night on Saturday, helping us to forget that most of our days, we want to stick a pillow over our own faces. Just kidding, sort of. Dinner is one thing that I will never sacrifice in this house. I just won’t do it. I will never roll my kids through some sloppy fast food establishment and I won’t feed them crap out of a box just for the sake of saving time. 99% of the time, we eat at home, with wholesome meals that are good for our bodies. However, I am trying to find ways to make life easier and this recipe did just that. The worst thing about it is the Naan, which is an Indian flat bread, you can find it in the bakery section of most grocery stores. It’s 380 calories for a whole flat bread, but, I assure you, one will be enough. Too many calories you say, well, then cut one in half, or skip that shit all together and make yourself a nice pile on the plate. I suppose you could also use pita bread, but the calories are roughly the same. The rest of the recipe is all fresh ingredients that are mean and lean. A great dinner option for any weeknight where 15-30 minutes is all you’ve got.

dinner

Tomato, Cucumber, Feta & Chicken Wraps

INGREDIENTS:

1 package Naan Indian flat bread (we went through two packages between kids, husband and myself, there are 2 in each package)
1 package (3 chicken breasts) of all natural, organic chicken
6-8 plum tomatoes, cut into small cubes
1 cucumber, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1/2 cup feta cheese, although, add more if you want (They do sell fat free feta but I always wonder, how do they get it that way???)
3 lemons, 2 1/2 for marinating the chicken, 1/2 to squeeze into the topping
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

1. In the morning, pound your chicken until relatively flat, throw the flattened breasts in a large plastic bag, add the juice of the 2 1/2 lemons (reserve the last half for later), salt and pepper liberally. Don’t have time for that in the morning, do it right before you slap it on the grill.

2. Throw your chicken on a nice hot grill and cook about 5 minutes on each side. Don’t fiddle with it while cooking. Once finished, remove from the grill and allow to rest. (A great option here is to throw your Naan Indian flat bread on the grill for a second as well, adds a little something I thought)

3. Chop up your tomatoes, cucumber and toss in a bowl with the feta cheese and the juice of your 1/2 lemon. Add a dash of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

4. Chop up your chicken into slices, place a few pieces on a flat bread with a few scoops of your yummy topping. Wrap and eat.

Enjoy!

A meal to make me sing

pasta

Last night I was supposed to run but I chose not to. Why? Because I didn’t feel like it. I had zero desire. Nothing in my body wanted to run which seems to be a constant these days. Most of the time I push myself out the door, beginning with rigid steps that eventually turn into fluid ones but last night I felt that would never happen. So I just stayed inside. By the time 5 P.M. had rolled around I was immersed in my daughter’s school project (which is about Julia Child, swoon) and I was really enjoying myself. My son, who is crazy pants these days was being really good on his own and the occasional interruption he provided was a cute one. Then, when my husband arrived home I decided that I didn’t want to rush off for an hour. I wanted to make a nice dinner. I wanted to drink some wine. And I wanted to have a no pressure conversation, sitting at the table, without being sweaty and exhausted. I’m learning not to feel completely guilty about these choices as of lately because honestly, the last year, I have worked really hard. And if I’m not currently in love with running, I’m alright with that. It will come back around when the time is right. It will make sense when it should. In the mean time I will run when I want but not against my will. Running and I are in a lifelong partnership but right now, we need a trial separation, where perhaps we only meet up two times a week rather than four. Yes, I have a half marathon in like four weeks but I’m not worried about that either because I will either feel like it, or I won’t. The B.A.A. Medley half in Boston is the only one I really feel passion for, so that will be the one where I really push hard. I’m 29, nearing the big 3-0 and I really am getting accustomed to savoring my time. Meals at the Morrison household have felt too fleeting lately so last night, I really just ate slow and took it all in. It was wonderful and I will be doing it a lot more in the future. My kids won’t be young for too long and neither will my husband and I. In twenty years I don’t want us to have forgotten what it was like to love. I want our youth to be filled with moments where we just sit, relax and breathe each other in over a beautiful meal, that I created.

Linguini with Anchovies, Capers & Garlic

INGREDIENTS

1 box of linguini (use the best quality you can find)
3 cups cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 ounces of anchovies, diced fine
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced fine
1-2 teaspoons red pepper flakes (depending on how spicy you like things)
3 tablespoons capers
A dash of Pepper
Fresh parmesan cheese grated thick
Fresh Basil, ripped into small pieces
Olive Oil

DIRECTIONS

1. Get a pot ready to cook your linguini, making sure to salt your water well. Once water boils rapidly, toss in the linguini. Cook according to directions.

2. Place a HEARTY splash of olive oil in a large pan (the linguini will be placed in this pan so it has to fit everything well) and heat on medium-high heat.

3. Toss in your garlic and anchovies, allow to cook until garlic smells aromatic and anchovies just about dissolve.

4. Toss in capers, red pepper flakes and tomatoes, stir well, allow to cook until tomatoes start to break down just a little.

5. Drain and add linguini, toss in the pan with the sauce you have just created.

6. Taste, if it needs it add pepper, with the anchovies, no salt should be necessary.

7. Place in a bowl, garnish liberally with parmesan cheese and your torn basil.

8. Serve immediately with crusty Italian bread.

Meatballs & Sauce: Life’s Cure for Everything.

Did you know that meatballs and sauce can literally take care of any problem that you could ever possibly imagine one having??? No, you never got that memo? Well, you should have because I’ve written about it before. Someone died: bring the family some meatballs. Divorce? No problem, eat a meatball. You’re feeling faint? You probably need three or four meatballs. High blood pressure, smear a meatball on the problem: bam, fixed. Last Christmas my mother couldn’t think of what to get my in-laws: she made them meatballs. I wanted my husband to date me years ago: I made him meatballs. Are you catching the point? Good. Now, the meatball, although it cures everything, is a great source of controversy. There are people out there who truly put everything in them that they can find in their kitchens. Then they are like: Jenny (with their hands up in the air), why do my meatballs taste like shit? Well, because you put a can of gross in them with a side of yuck. i.e. any of the following: oregano, italian seasoning form some weird package, mozzarella cheese and the list goes on and on. My recipe, the only recipe any one should ever use, has been handed to me from my Nana and my mother. These ladies know what the deal is so don’t fret, but the ingredient list is not precise. I mean, we eyeball this. It’s like, how much we feel like that day, the ratio is always changing. So, you are going to have to configure the ingredients as they work for you. I can provide the map, you have to actually take it to the road.

Now sauce, that’s a different story. My mother makes it different than Nana  and I tend to follow Nana’s path with the sauce, however, last Saturday I tinkered with Mom’s way and it was pretty spectacular. You are going to question her way of doing things because I even raised an eyebrow when she told me how her magical sauce was formed but just go with it, the result is delicious. There is just one cardinal rule: NEVER, EVER, EVER PUT OREGANO IN YOUR SAUCE. If you do, well, don’t cry to me when it tastes like poop. Also, don’t leave it on the stove for twenty-five days, that is a common myth. I went to Italy, I tasted sauce, I asked the burning question, no one does that. One to two hours MAX and on a very light simmer.

On a side note, we had our first business associate but we like them very much as friends dinner on Saturday and it turned out to be a really wonderful evening. This couple recently had a baby, who is adorable and it was really fantastic to get to know them on a more personal level. It was also so interesting to have an adult conversation with people who understand our life. They too are in the beginning stages of forming their company/career and they have a small child so they get that an 8:30 bedtime is not completely lame. We enjoyed this dish along with a dessert I will be writing about later, some wine we brought back from Italy and a cup of coffee. The conversation was enticing and when they left, I felt renewed.

SPAGHETTI & MEATBALLS

INGREDIENTS:

MEATBALLS

2-3 lbs. of pristine ground beef (85% lean MAX, you need some fat)

1 to 1/2 cups bread crumbs + extra for rolling the balls

1 cup fresh parmesan cheese

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, the finer the better

6-8 cloves of garlic, minced fine

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon heavy cream or half & half

salt & pepper

olive oil for the pan

SAUCE

2-3 containers of Pomi tomatoes

DIRECTIONS

1. Throw all of your ingredients into a bowl for the meatballs. Every single last one. Make sure your parmesan cheese is of good quality, make sure your garlic and your parsley are as fine as you can get them and make sure that you don’t go crazy with the salt.

2. Work all of your ingredients with your hands, get right in there to make sure it is mixed well.

3. Make little balls, a little larger than a golf ball, using the palms of your hands to roll them so they have a smooth texture. Place some bread crumbs in a dish and roll each meatball in the breadcrumbs, making sure to coat evenly.

4. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

5. Place olive oil in a large saute pan, just enough to cover the bottom and place on medium high heat, allow oil to heat up prior to adding the meatballs. Once this happens, place them in the pan, spaced out, so that each meatball has a good amount of room, if you crowd them they will get mushy. Sear on each side. This does not need to be perfect and they are not going to be done in the middle. This is just to obtain a little crunch and some texture. Continue until you have done this will all of your meatballs.

6. Place seared meatballs on a baking sheet. Place in the oven for 10-15 minutes.

7. Dump your Pomi tomatoes into a large pan, remember, your meatballs will be joining them so room is necessary. Simmer on a low heat, once the 15 minutes have passed, remove the meatballs from the oven and toss into the sauce.

8. Cover your sauce & meatballs and leave to simmer on LOW for 1-2 hours.

Serve with your choice of pasta.

 

 

Trim the fat: Beef Stew

I was never one for beef stew. My mother made it when I was younger and I ate it, but I didn’t love it. She was a staunch advocate of the kitchen closing at dinnertime so there wasn’t much wiggle room on the dinner menu. I will say this though, regardless of my slight dislike for the original beef stew recipe, it brings back fond memories because it’s a dish I grew up with. I found this recipe in an old Cooking Light magazine and gave it a little modification. Their recipe called for olives which I find incredibly strange. Still, it’s a great dish, perfect for when winter seemingly creeps back into our lives, when we had all just about embraced Spring. The tomatoes in the dish bring a lot to the table and I find it makes a huge difference in the taste of this dish. This recipe makes a big pot and I guarantee, it will be a hit in your household.

Serving Size: 1 1/3 cups
Calories: 288

HEARTY BEEF STEW

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 lbs. stew meat, cut into 1 inch pieces
2 cups of potatoes, chopped into bite sized pieces
2.5 cups carrots, chopped into bite sized pieces
1 1/2 cups onion, chopped fine
2 cups celery, chopped into bite sized pieces
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup dry red wine of your choosing
1/2 teaspoon fresh thyme
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes
2 Bay leaves

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add beef, cook for 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan.

2. Add carrots, onions, celery, potatoes and garlic to the pan, stirring occasionally, cook for 5-10 minutes, add beef back into pan.

3. Add remaining ingredients, bring to a boil.

4. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for one hour to one and a half hours (or until beef is nice and tender).

5. Remove bay leaves and enjoy!