Catfish Creole From My Friend, Ellen!

Summer will eventually simmer down and, hopefully, there will be some cold, rainy days that require a warm meal. This recipe is easy, different, and tasty. Also, a good one to earmark for Lent which always shows up way too soon!

Catfish Creole

Ingredients for Sauce:
½ c. butter
1½ c. chopped onions
1 c. chopped celery
1 c. chopped bell pepper
¼ c. diced garlic
2-3 whole bay leaves
1 16-ounce can tomato sauce
1 28-ounce can peeled & diced tomatoes
½ c. water
½ c. green onions
1 tbs. sugar
1-2 tbs. dry thyme
1-2 tbs. dry basil
Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

Other ingredients:
1 pound catfish (or red fish) fillets, any white fish will work wonderfully.
6 cups cooked white rice

In a 2 quart heavy sauce pan (a cured heavy black iron pot is traditionally used if you have one), melt butter over medium-low fire. Saute onions, celery, bell pepper, and garlic until vegetables are wilted, stirring occasionally for about 15-20 minutes. Add bay leaves, tomatoes, sauce, water, and green onions. Bring mixture to a low boil, reduce to simmer, and cook an additional 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add spices and fillets. (Salt may be reserved until the fish is cooked.) Cook until fish breaks apart easily, about 10-15 minutes. Serve over steaming white rice.

Meaty Chef’s Salad

Summertime salads are great but, sometimes, you want a little more protein in a salad that your spouse declares to be dinner because it is too hot outside for meat and potatoes! This one seems to fit the bill and has enough protein and greens to satisfy. AND, if that isn’t sufficient, consider it a prelude to a really big ice cream sundae because it is too hot outside for any more vegetables right now!

Meaty Chef’s Salad
6 c. torn lettuce
1 c. shredded carrot
1 c. diced celery
1 c. cooked ham OR 4 oz.deli ham, cut thick, in strips
1 c. cooked chicken cut thick, in strips
2 tomatoes, diced
3 T. sliced green onions, greens also
2 c. shredded sharp American cheese
2/3 c. milk
1 small can chopped green chilies, drained
3 T. sliced, pitted ripe olives
2 c. corn chips
Cut ham and chicken into julienne strips, then measure. In a large salad bowl, combine lettuce, carrot and celery. Arrange ham, chicken, tomatoes and green onion on top. Just before serving, combine cheese and milk in saucepan. Cook and stir over low heat until cheese melts and is smooth.
Stir chilies and olives into cheese; pour over salad, toss lightly. Serve at once. Pass corn chips to sprinkle on top. Serves 6. Cheese sauce can be made ahead of time and served cold. Increase milk to 1 c. chill till serving time.

Chinese Noodles . . . A Gluten-Free Possibility?

The best part of a Chinese meal has always been the crunchy noodles for munching or dipping in the hot mustard or spicy tomato sauce. Have been on a gluten-free menu for almost five years now, that hasn’t been happening. I realized that Google can find just about anything in the world so ran this request through the search and about two links down . . . SUCCESS! The recipe was simple, the preparation very easy, and I now have a surprise for my hardworking husband when he gets home from work this evening.

OH? Uh, what? You said that YOU wanted the recipe?

http://www.food.com/recipe/gluten-free-crunchy-chinese-noodles-158973

Enjoy!

Secret Agent in the Kitchen

When my firstborn was getting to the age where he could try different foods, he instinctively knew the difference between broccoli and a crispy, deep-friend pork rind . . . he chose the pork rind! From that moment on, I became a secret agent in the kitchen for getting healthy food into my children without letting on that even one vitamin gave it’s life for the meal at hand.

Macaroni and cheese was pretty popular for Fridays as the children would eat it and the budget could afford it. However, the vegetable escorting the mac & cheese to the table was often ignored. Steamed cauliflower to the rescue! No, it wasn’t in plain sight otherwise I wouldn’t have a story to share here. Nope, I steamed it until tender, pureed it, and then mixed it in with the cheese sauce. A two-fold benefit as it reduced the amount (and expense!) of the cheese and added some nutrients and fiber to the dish. Cauliflower also goes nicely undercover mixed into mashed potatoes, too.

Finely-grated and steamed carrots found a home in my meatloaf. The children loved the brown, crusty exterior of the meatloaf and the juicy interior. This manner of vegetable subterfuge went on for a long time until my older son found a suspicious bit of bright orange in his serving and immediately set off the sibling alarm that Mom was trying to poison them with carrots! To this day, however, they never found out that I was browning finely-diced carrots and onions and mixing them into what I called hamburger pizza sauce topping for pizza dinners.

The older they got, the sneakier I had to be. The smoothie fad came to the rescue. They loved a thick, icy smoothie and with the bonus of a straw, they felt I was earning a good mother badge. We used lots of different fruits and, still unbeknownst to them to this day, a few vegetables fell into the mix. Their peach and citrus often included carrot! When I made a very berry strawberry smoothie, a tomato or two often found it’s way into the drink. They loved the idea of a smoothie that was bright green and never quite realized that kale or spinach had come into play.

Perhaps, the infusion of secret vegetables into their growing systems, gave them a grownup disposition towards vegetables. These days, we practically have to fight for a serving of vegetables for ourselves at the dinner table. Eggplant has even become a popular ingredient to the dinner meal. And if you really want to witness a confrontation, watch them descend upon a platter of oven-roasted Kale.

Fast Rice Fritata

I like to cook but I also like the evening where the cooking doesn’t keep me in the kitchen for TOO many hours! This was always a favorite growing up and it is a quick standby for those busy days. I like to cook extra rice just to have some on hand for something like this.

Fast Rice Fritata
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
8 eggs
1/2 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 teaspoon chili flakes
2 cups cooked rice
4-ounce can chopped green chilies, undrained
1 tomato, chopped
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese

In a large frying pan, brown the onions in the butter until tender.

Beat eggs with milk and seasonings. Stir in Rice, chilies and tomato. Pour into the frying pan with the onions. Turn the heat down low, cover and cook until top is almost set, about 12-15 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese, cover, and remove from heat. Let stand about ten minutes before serving.

Benevolent Bread Pudding

Ever have one of those days when you don’t know how you are going to get dinner on the table much less come up with dessert? My favorite go-to has always been the ‘lowly’ bread pudding . . . only bread pudding doesn’t have to be considered at the end of the wanted list for dessert. Another plus with bread pudding, that it takes care of the aging bread on the counter.

Benevolent Bread Pudding

3 cups cubed bread
4 cups whole milk, scalded
3 beaten eggs
1/3 granulated sugar
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup butter

Add bread cubes to milk. Combine eggs, sugar, salt, vanilla, spices to the bread mixture. Pour into greased pan and dot with the butter. Bake for approximately 45-60 minutes our until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

Ideas:
White bread is not the only ingredient you can use. Think about sourdough bread, raisin bread, Hawaiian bread, etc.

Adding dried fruit like crasins, raisons, diced fresh apple, diced peaches . . .

Want to go wild for the children, chocolate chips and serve with ice cream and a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

Chopped nuts are allowed, too!

The Lowly Potato . . .

Since we have cut back the carbs in our diet drastically, potatoes aren’t often on the dinner menu. However, when we want to splurge on our Sunday meal, you might just find some sort of potato dish in the vicinity of the dinner table.

This evening, I made a new favorite. It is super simple, fun to make, and there have been rumors of altercations over the last serving up for grabs. Thought I’d confess before it came out on Wikileaks!

Not sure what you would call this dish which is why I remembered to take a picture.

Basically, you sort of thinly slice up three for four large Russet potatoes. How much you use depends on how many are at your dinner table. Put all the slices in a large mixing bowl and toss with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, salt, pepper, very thinly sliced onion, and bacon bits. Now, the fun part! Get out your trust cupcake tin and spray each cup lightly with vegetable oil spray. Now take up three or four slices and stand them up in the cupcake tin adding more so they are all sort of upright. Make sure each serving gets their fair share of bacon and onion tucked between the slices. Give them all a quick spray of vegetable oil spray and put into a preheated 350 degree oven and bake for approximately 30 minutes. Keep an eye on them, however, as it will depend on how thinly/thickly your slices came out.

The finished result is usually a browned top with crisp edges and the part in the tin is usually browned and sort of creamy in texture. There are always a variety of outcomes but I hope you find this a handy idea and your family enjoys it. It is a recipe open to lots of creativity. I put in a couple teaspoons of chia seeds and some finely grated Parmesan or cheddar takes it to another level.