Sunday, June 27, 2010

Fish Tacos with Mango-Peach Salsa

Why hello! As I have been saying often lately, "long time" no see. I still haven't been blogging as often as I'd like since school has ended. I don't know where the time goes! Anyway, let's just get right to it here, shall we? Although the recipe I'm about to share does include baking, it's not in the typical Barbershop baking realm that most of my posts are. I am sharing a dinner recipe for a change! No breakfast or dessert for you here. ;-)

I made these fish tacos for my boyfriend Mike's birthday a couple weeks ago. They were deeelicious, and I would definitely make them again! It was such a simple, tasty, and healthy meal...the best combination, if you ask me. :)

I was inspired by a recipe in my latest Cooking Light magazine issue. I looove Cooking Light! I found the same recipe online here. The fish recipe I semi-followed, but I didn't really follow the mango salsa verde recipe that's provided on that link. As for the tacos, I used cod instead of tilapia (any white, flaky fish would probably do just fine!). To prepare the fish, I simply brushed the fillets with some olive oil, and then sprinkled on some seasoning; I used the Great King Salmon seasoning and rub you see in the picture below. Yum!

Choose whatever spices you'd like for your fish! I'm sure anything goes really. I also squeezed some fresh lemon juice overtop of the fillets, but that was it! Easy easy. I broiled the fillets for maybe 8 minutes or so? I'm not really sure actually...sorry! I broiled them until the fish meat flaked pretty easily with a fork. I love that fish doesn't take too long to cook. It makes it an easy go-to weeknight meal!

Here are the fillets, before they are broiled.

And here they are after they're cooked!

Once the fillets were cooked, I just used a fork to create smaller pieces of fish to put into the tortillas. I bought whole wheat tortillas, and I heated each one briefly in a pan on the stove. I'd highly recommend doing that! Eating the tortillas warm really makes the dish yummier, I think.

Now I must share the salsa part! This salsa was very fun to make, and I just love how colorful it is too. Check it out!

I didn't follow an exact recipe to make this, but I'll share approximate measurements with you here:

-1/2 grilled peach, chopped
-1/2 grilled mango, chopped
-1 plum tomato, deseeded and chopped
-1/3 cucumber, chopped
-1/3 red onion, finely chopped (so maybe 3 Tbsp or so?)
-2 or 3 tsp. fresh chives, chopped
-3 or 4 tsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
-1 or 2 tsp. fresh lime juice
-1/4 tsp. black pepper
-1/4 tsp. chili powder

You'll noticed that I said grilled peach and mango. I thought I'd try grilling the fruit before adding it. I'm not sure if it added a different flavor really, but it was something fun to try anyway! I originally wasn't going to add cucumber, but I wasn't sure if I was going to have enough salsa overall for the two of us (as it turns out, it was plenty), so I added some chopped cucumber to make it a little more substantial. I would say that the red onion and fresh cilantro are must-haves in a fruit salsa like this! All in all, it was a wonderful combo of ingredients that really complimented the fish well. Here are a few pics of the steps along the way as I was making the salsa. :)

Now I bet you're wondering what we drank with our fish tacos and mango-peach salsa...  I thought so! The weekend before Mike's birthday we were down in Westport, MA for a wedding, and we stopped at the Just Beer brewery there for a tasting. We bought a growler of their Golden Flounder beer, which is an excellent wheat, summery beer. I was in looooove with this beer, people! It was very refreshing, citrusy, and drinkable...mmmmm. It paired very nicely with our dinner too!

To round out the meal, I prepared a very simple side salad with just greens, cucumbers, and tomatoes. Here is another shot of our dinner.

I forgot to take a picture of dessert, but a while back I had frozen some mini bundt cakes that were the same double chocolate cake recipe I had used to make cupcakes for Jenn's bridal shower last month. They froze quite well! I also bought some really yummy Edy's "vanilla sandwich" ice cream. Soooo good. I'd highly recommend trying this flavor, if you haven't yet. It's a very tasty treat!

I know this is a little late now, but a very special happy birthday to Mike!!! :)

I hope to return to the Barbershop again soon for another recipe... I have several waiting in the line-up right now!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

The Barefoot Contessa's Addictive Blueberry Muffins

WARNING! You are about to read a blog post about some of the best tasting blueberry muffins out there!!

Okay, you've been warned.

Now you can read on. :)

I made these muffins last week for our weekly lab meeting at work. I think I've mentioned this meeting before... We all take turns each week bringing in breakfast, and typically, people bring in bagels (which are always a fun treat!). But I always like to take my turn as an opportunity to bake something yummy to share! This time around for lab meeting, I made these blueberry muffins and a beer cheese bread (blog post is planned soon about that one too!).


I used a recipe from Ina Garten, the Food Network's Barefoot Contessa. I have made a few of her recipes now, and I have to say, she hasn't let me down yet! Her recipes have all been delicious, and this one for blueberry muffins is no exception! You can check out her recipe for them here. She calls them "Blueberry Coffee Cake Muffins." The only thing I did differently was add yogurt in place of the sour cream since I did not have sour cream on hand. You can read about other possible sour cream substitutes here if you'd like. I tend to prefer the taste of yogurt to sour cream anyway, so I almost always use yogurt when I bake instead of sour cream! I did use real butter, as the recipe calls for; that may have made them exceptionally yummy too... Sometimes I opt for margarine in lieu of butter, but I went for the real thing this time! Oh right, and I also added a bit of fresh lemon juice - maybe 1 or 2 tablespoons or so? The original recipe doesn't call for lemon juice.

Mmmmm, here's the batter. 

And here is a platter of the tasty muffins, ready for my coworkers to consume!

And below are some pictures of a muffin I ate... Or, was it hoops and yoyo who ate it?!? I may have given them a nibble or two. ;-)

Super sad - it's all gone! :-(

I can't quite put my finger on what it was that made these muffins so delicious... All I know is that they were very moist and quite flavorful. To be honest, I was actually going to add a streusel topping of sorts too, but I got lazy and didn't! And as it turns out, these muffins did not need a streusel topping at all! They were delicious on their own.

Oh, also of note, this recipe makes a lot of muffins! The recipe says it makes 16 muffins...but for me, this recipe made 12 regular-sized muffins, 24 mini ones, AND 1 mini loaf! That's a lot of blueberry goodness. :-D

Now it's your turn to go make some muffins bursting with flavor! I bet you can't eat just one. ;-) See you next time!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Overnight Oats

Hi all! Welcome back. There have been a few more days than usual between my last post and this one...ever since graduation, I've been even busier than usual, it seems! Funny how that works... I've been meaning to blog before now, but it just hasn't been possible!

This post is a bit different from the typical Barbershop recipe, as it doesn't even involve any baking. Uh oh! But rest assured, even though this doesn't involve baking, I think you will want to try this recipe. :) I may have mentioned Kath Eats Real Food previously; this is a blog by a woman who's devoted to eating healthy, "real" food. She blogs about everything she eats...yes, everything! It's a little crazy if you ask me. But then again, for her it's her job (she has a sort of business attached to it) so she's somewhat obligated to do it! I couldn't imagine that though, sharing everything I eat with the world. And she has thousands of followers too, so there are a lot of people out there who knows every bit of food that Kath eats day in and day out!

One of Kath's common breakfasts, especially when she's short on time, is her famous overnight oats. This recipe essentially consists of soaking oats in liquid overnight, and then voila, they're ready for breakfast the next morning! There's no cooking necessary at all! Kath offers many different suggestions on her site about various combinations of ingredients for her overnight oats, and you can check them out on the link I provided above. For my first time making this the other night, I chose to use some ingredients I had on hand, which you can see below. You can also see a bit of the bouquet of flowers that Mike got me for graduation last week in the back there. :-D

Here are all the ingredients I used:

-1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
-1/2 cup skim milk
-1/2 cup Dannon Light n' Fit vanilla yogurt
-one half banana, sliced
-1/4 cup (approximately, I didn't measure) sliced almonds
-1 tsp. or so of peanut butter (just for a little extra flavor and protein!)

When you make your oats, you should add equal amounts of oats, milk, and yogurt. Any type of milk will work too, depending on your preferences (regular, almond, soy, etc.), as will any type of yogurt (flavored, greek, etc.). And then you can go "wild" with your other ingredients! The only thing to keep in mind is that all of the ingredients will be a bit on the soggy side when you eat the oatmeal mixture the next morning, so I'd recommend staying away from adding anything that you don't want to taste soggy (maybe cereal?). Kath has a ton of suggestions on her site for other additions. Some ideas beyond what I added in mine this time include various fruits (berries!), flaxseeds, different nuts, pumpkin, spices (I'd go for cinnamon :)), maybe a little jam or jelly, maple syrup, etc. You name it, you could put it in your overnight oats! Here is a picture of my ingredients in the tupperware before I mixed them all together.

And then here they are again, all mixed and ready to sit overnight in the fridge!!

I liked a few things in particular about this recipe... For one, it was suuuper easy. If you like to eat a healthy breakfast to start your day, this is a great way to do it. It's especially great if you're a busy person who doesn't have a lot of time in the morning (or maybe that's because you like to snooze a few times? ;-)). All it takes is 5 minutes (tops!) to put these oats together the night before. I did eat my oats cold, and I liked them a LOT. I suppose you could heat them up, but I think the recipe is intended to be eaten cold. It's definitely worth a shot though to warm them in the microwave if you think you'd prefer that! The recipe was delicious and filling; it held me over for a few hours after I ate it. Typically, I have something lighter for breakfast and I'm hungry again for a mid-morning snack within two hours or so! But these held me almost until lunch time, I'd say. If you know you're going to have a busy day at work or school, I'd highly recommend starting off your day with a tasty combo of ingredients in the form of overnight oats. You'll enjoy them, I promise! And that's a Barbershop guarantee. ;-)

Oh, and here are my favorite Hallmark characters, hoops and yoyo, helping me eat my overnight oats at my desk at work. :-P

Friday, June 4, 2010

The "Ultimate" Cookie!

Hiiii! I hope everyone is doing well. Can you believe that it's JUNE already? I can't!! I am writing this post on the morning of my graduation... Later this afternoon I'll be graduating with my Master's degree in Rehabilitation Counseling from UMass Boston. I can't wait! It's been a challenging two years, balancing school full-time, work part-time, friends, family, life "stuff," etc. But as of today, the school part will officially be done! Hooray. :)

Anyway, back to this "ultimate" cookie. This recipe is for chocolate chip cookies. Yes, the Barbershop has shared previous chocolate chip cookie recipes of various kinds (see this link and this one too), but I decided to try yet another recipe! You may recall from my latest post about pound cake that I used a recipe from the blog, Brown Eyed Baker. Well, I used her recipe again for this chocolate chip cookie! It is another keeper in my book! You can find her recipe here. What I really liked about these cookies is the fact that they were slightly crispy on the outside, but super chewy and soft on the inside. And, you could really taste the butter in them too. And who doesn't like that?? I often use margarine, but I chose to use real butter this was a good decision!

Instead of using just semi-sweet chocolate chips, I used a combination of both chocolate and butterscotch chips. One of the main differences in this recipe from other chocolate chip cookie recipes is the use of melted butter (but only one stick; many recipes call for two sticks). It also uses more brown sugar than regular granulated sugar (most recipes seem to have equal parts of these two sugars). These cookies are also baked at a lower temperature (325 degrees), whereas many recipes are baked in a warmer oven (about 375 degrees). I decided to use parchment paper this time around, which I must say, was great! It made clean-up such a breeze. I think I may opt to use parchment more often instead of greasing my cookie sheets, as I typically do!

Now, you may have noticed that I called this recipe the "ultimate" recipe. Are you wondering why? Well, even if you're not, I'm going to tell you... ;-) There is a small story behind these cookies. I made them Wednesday evening this week in anticipation of bringing them to Mike's ultimate frisbee game on Thursday for his team after the game. Well, on Thursday right around the start of game time, it was POURING rain and thunderstorming like crazy. I was caught in the rain in my car as I was driving home from getting my hair cut... Shortly after I got home, the rain stopped and it cleared up dramatically. Mike had said don't worry about coming to watch the game, but the team happened to be playing just five minutes from my house, so it was a very convenient game for me to go see. I figured that since the skies had cleared up, the team was probably still having their game. At the same time, it was also quite appealing to stay home (no offense to Mike and his teammates!). You know how sometimes once you get home after a long day, it's really tough to get yourself together and go back out? Yeah... Well, that was my mindset last night. BUT, it was the cookies that motivated me to go to the game! I had made them specifically for the team, and if I didn't give the cookies to them, I didn't know what else to do with them... I certainly didn't need 20 cookies in my house! Normally I'd just bring them into work, but since today is my graduation, I'm off from work. What a dilemma! Well, it's not a major dilemma I suppose. ;-)

Anyway, the point of this story is that the cookies motivated me to get out of the house and go watch the game. Little did I know that I'd also be playing in the game! When I arrived, Mike's team, Fetch, barely had enough players to play; only seven players showed up for the game, and that's how many are on the field during the game. Unfortunately, one of their women got hurt shortly after I arrived and she didn't feel up to returning to the game at all. So, the team was one person short. Mike semi-jokingly, semi-seriously, was like "Colleen, wanna play?" Now, I've only played ultimate frisbee once before, and it was in a league that has a mix of players from amateurs like me to very experienced players like Mike...and that was almost two years ago! After a small debate with myself (I also have been dealing with a hamstring injury), at half time I decided to jump in and help out. I used the cleats of the girl, Kerry, who was injured (it was fate; her cleats fit me), and off I went! I did do a few good things, and I messed up a few times...but all in all, it was a lot of fun! This league that Fetch is in is comprised of more skilled and experienced players than the league I played in, but I think I managed okay. Mike's teammates were very supportive and encouraging, so that helped too. :)

Phew, that was a long story. Sorry! But, it's the story behind these "ultimate" cookies. Get it? ;-) After the game, the Fetch players who showed to the game enjoyed these cookies quite a bit, I must say. There were enough cookies for everyone to have a couple of them too since so few players showed to the game! 

Here is a picture from my first season playing "hat" league, as it's called... I wonder what I'm about to do with the disc...hopefully something good! Perhaps there is more ultimate playing in my future. We shall see!

Now I'm off to become "Master Barber"!! See you next time. :)