Creole Red Snapper

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For years I’ve been trying to convince my children that fish is wonderful and delicious, but they’ve rejected every offering I’ve made that wasn’t heavily breaded and deep fried. That is, until I made this delectable Creole red snapper.

Creole Red Snapper

I never would have guessed that this would be the recipe to change their minds about fish, but even I was surprised how much I liked this tender, savory fish. My entire family loved it, which almost never happens (there is usually at least one dissenter).

1 large carrot
1 rib of celery
1 stick of butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon paprika
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tablespoons chopped green onions
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1 lb red snapper fillets, bones removed
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup grated parmesan
Lemon slices

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

Chop the carrot and celery into pieces roughly 1/2-inch wide by 3-inches long and place on the bottom of a large baking dish. (Note: the veggies add flavor to the fish and also prevent the fish from sticking to the baking dish.)

Add the butter, garlic, paprika, Worcestershire, salt, black pepper, oregano, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, green onions, and parsley to a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the butter is melted, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.

Brush both sides of the red snapper with the butter sauce, and place the snapper in the baking dish on top of the carrot and celery pieces.

Stir the panko bread crumbs and parmesan into the remaining butter sauce, and then spoon the breadcrumb mixture on top of the snapper, spreading evenly.

Bake in the preheated oven for 10-20 minutes (depending on the size of the fillets), or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to overcook. Serve with lemon slices, and enjoy!

* adapted from Menu Musings

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Spinach Chips

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I’m a spinach lover and I always have a big bag of baby spinach in my fridge. I put spinach on sandwiches, salads, omelets, smoothies – pretty much anything that I think can use a bit of green. Still, I often have a hard time getting through the bag before the spinach leaves start to get slimy.

I stumbled onto this recipe the other day and had an “aha” moment. Spinach chips – of course! The perfect way to use up my extra spinach! Spinach chips are similar to kale chips, but with a much lighter texture. My kids loved them too, so this recipe gets a gold star in my book.

Ready to go into the oven:
Spinach Chips

Ready to eat:
Spinach Chips (cooked)

2 big handfuls of pre-washed baby spinach
Olive oil (use a Misto Olive Oil Sprayer, if you have one)
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. (Note: this step is important; otherwise the spinach will stick to the baking sheet.)

Lightly spray the parchment paper with olive oil using an olive oil sprayer (or put a bit of olive oil on a paper towel and wipe it onto the parchment paper).

Spread the baby spinach evenly between the two baking sheets, making sure to keep the spinach in a single layer. Lightly spray the spinach with a bit more olive oil (alternatively, you can toss the spinach and olive oil together in a bowl, but be sure not to use too much oil).

Sprinkle salt and pepper over the spinach and bake for 12 minutes (you can cook both baking sheets at the same time). After 12 minutes, turn the oven off and keep the spinach in the oven for another 5 minutes.

Remove the baking sheets from the oven and let the spinach cool for a few minutes before digging in. Enjoy!

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Baked Zucchini Sticks

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Zucchini is in abundance right now, and this is a wonderful way to prepare them. The zucchini are coated in seasoned bread crumbs and then baked to perfection. You get tender zucchini beneath a crunchy coating, right out of the oven. The zucchini will need to sit for at least one hour before cooking, so be sure to start this recipe in advance. 

3 medium zucchini
1 tablespoon salt
1 cup flour
1 egg
1/4 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Italian bread crumbs
Olive oil spray

Cut the zucchini lengthwise into sticks about 3-inches long and ½-inch thick. Place the zucchini into a colander in the sink and sprinkle with the salt. Toss lightly and let stand for at least 1 hour. This will help draw the moisture out of the zucchini.

After the zucchini has rested for at least 1 hour, rinse thoroughly to remove excess salt (it will be plenty salty), then dry thoroughly with a towel.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees (use a convection setting, if you have it). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with the olive oil spray.

Place the flour in one shallow bowl, whisk together the egg and milk in a second shallow bowl, and place the bread crumbs in a third shallow bowl. Line up your breading assembly line, as follows: zucchini, flour, egg mixture, bread crumbs, and then parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use the “wet hand/dry hand” technique for coating the zucchini sticks. Drop a zucchini stick into the flour with your right hand and coat thoroughly; drop the stick into the egg and coat it using your left hand; lastly, drop the stick into the bread crumbs and coat with your right hand and then place on the baking sheet. This technique should keep your hands relatively clean and make the coating process more efficient. Repeat for the remaining zucchini sticks. Spray the zucchini lightly with olive oil spray.

Bake for about 12 minutes. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and turn each zucchini stick with tongs, and then bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Mexican Baked Fish

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We are trying to eat more fish in our house and I’m always looking for ways to spice-up our fish dinners. This recipe quite literally adds some spice and a lot of flavor to an otherwise ordinary piece of fish. This recipe doesn’t really require any measuring and is very quick and easy to prepare, so it’s perfect for a busy weeknight dinner. Click here to view the original recipe.

1 pound cod
1 cup salsa (mild, medium, or hot – your choice!)
1 cup shredded cheese (I used the Mexican blend)
1/2 cup coarsely crushed tortilla chips
Sour cream
Avocado (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease a medium baking dish.

Rinse cod under cold water and use paper towels to dry the fish thoroughly.

Place the fish in a single layer in the baking dish. Pour the salsa over the top of the fish and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Top with the tortilla chips.

Bake, uncovered, for about 15 minutes or until the fish flakes easily with a fork. Serve with a dollop of sour cream and a slice of avocado, if desired.

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Easy Roasted Chicken

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There was a time when I was intimidated by the thought of cooking a “whole bird”. What exactly would I do with all of those limbs, and did I really have to stick my hand inside of it . . . umm, no thanks.

When I finally conquered my fear of the bird, I realized that it’s the easiest dinner ever! Now I can rip its guts out (sorry), throw on a bit of seasoning and have it in the oven in less than five minutes. Then just sit back and relax and wait for the oven to do its magic. Roasting is the easiest way to get moist, tender chicken, and there is usually enough meat left over to use in another meal.

Once you make this once or twice, you won’t need the recipe. Feel free to experiment with different herbs and spices too!

1 whole chicken, approx. 3 pounds (Costco has great organic chicken)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon coarse salt (or to taste)
Black pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees, and line a high-rimmed baking sheet with foil (the bottom of a broiler pan works well).

Okay, now for the fun part. Remove the chicken from its packaging and remove the giblets from the inside of the chicken. The producers of the organic chicken that I buy are nice enough to put them in a little bag, but most other chicken I’ve used have them just sitting loose inside the chicken cavity. Discard the giblets (unless you have another use for them). Rinse the chicken, inside and out, under cold water. I usually take a peek inside and make sure there aren’t any innards still attached to the inside of the bird. If so, just remove them with your hand.

Using paper towels, dry the chicken thoroughly and place it, breast-side up, on the baking sheet. Tuck the end of each wing underneath the chicken (this will prevent them from burning). Now is a good time to stop and wash your hands with hot, soapy water.

Using a pastry brush or the back of a spoon, spread the olive oil over the entire chicken, making sure that all of the exposed skin is coated with olive oil. Next sprinkle the salt and pepper all over the chicken, and toss a bit of salt and pepper inside the chicken too.

Put the chicken in the oven and bake for 1 – 1 ¼ hours, depending on the size of the chicken. I will usually baste the chicken with its own juices once or twice while it’s cooking. The chicken will be done when the meat begins to pull away from the leg bones and a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees when inserted into the breast of the chicken. Serve with your favorite side dishes and enjoy!

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Garlic Parmesan Drumsticks with Sweet Potato Coins

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When it comes to chicken, I am typically a white-meat gal, but I’ll never pass up a good drumstick. It has the perfect portion of chicken, and it even comes with its own handle! This recipe produces tender chicken with a flavorful, crunchy crust, and it’s kid-approved! Serve it with Sweet Potato Coins (see recipe below). Those of you who think you don’t like sweet potatoes must try this recipe; it’s that good!

Garlic Parmesan Drumsticks

2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup olive oil
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1 cup parmesan (I used shredded, but grated parmesan works too)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
12 chicken legs (approximately)

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. In a shallow, microwave-safe bowl, add the minced garlic and the olive oil and heat in the microwave for 15-30 seconds to combine the flavors. (Note: you can heat the garlic and oil in a small pan on the stove instead, if desired.)

In another shallow bowl, stir together the bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, and pepper. Now, I recommend that you setup a “chicken assembly line”. First you will have your chicken, then the garlic/olive oil mixture, then your bread crumb mixture, and finally your baking pan. The chicken will produce a lot of juices while it’s cooking, so be sure to use a broiler pan (a slotted upper pan that fits on top of another pan to contain the drips). This way your chicken will come out crunchy, instead of soggy.

Take a chicken leg with your right hand and roll it in the garlic olive oil to coat. Then drop it into the bread crumb mixture (don’t touch the bread crumbs with your wet right hand). Now take your left hand and coat the chicken with the bread crumb mixture. Pick the chicken up with your left hand and place it on the broiler pan. I recently learned this “wet hand/dry hand” trick which keeps your hands from getting too goopy. Repeat for the remaining chicken legs.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes, or until golden and crispy.

Sweet Potato Coins

I love sweet potatoes – not that sugary marshmallow-topped casserole, which is forever banished from my Thanksgiving table – I’m talking about delicious sweet potatoes, oven-roasted to perfection. Even if you think you don’t like sweet potatoes, give this recipe a try. It’s easy and creates lovely bites of sweet potato that are tender on one side and have a blissful caramelized layer on the other side. This recipe came from Jessica Seinfeld (you know, Jerry’s wife), but I changed the preparation a bit to suit my taste.

Important Note: Your grocery store will probably call their sweet potatoes “garnet yams” or “jewel yams”, but don’t be fooled; they are sweet potatoes, not yams. A true yam is usually only found in specialty stores and isn’t even related to our delicious (and much more nutritious!) sweet potatoes.

2 medium sweet potatoes (they should feel heavy for their size)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees, and lightly oil a large baking sheet.

Rinse and scrub the skins of the sweet potatoes to remove any dirt. Cut the potatoes into 1/4-inch rounds (if the potatoes are large, you may want to cut the rounds in half). Place the cut potatoes in a large bowl, and then add the olive oil, brown sugar, salt, cumin and pepper. Using a large spoon, mix thoroughly to coat the potatoes. Arrange in a single layer on the baking sheet and roast about 30 minutes (no stirring needed), until the potatoes are tender and the bottoms have a brown, crispy caramelized layer (like crème brûlée, yum!).

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