California Style Fish Tacos with Tequila Lime Slaw

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Does anyone else feel like Tuesday is the new Monday?

Or, at a minimum, ranking right up there with Monday as the worst day of the week.  Monday is bad in its own right, but mostly because it signals the start of the work week.  At least with Monday, you can usually slowly work your way back in the groove.  In my experience, people don't expect too much on a Monday, probably because they too are trying to get back into the weekday grind and are tackling tasks they also put off on Friday afternoon.

Tuesday is a different monster all together.  Tuesday is when the demands start rolling in, and you know you will have to accomplish all the Tuesday tasks by the end of the week (it's an unspoken rule).  Apparently, smarty pants researchers at the London School of Economics agree with me (evidence here).  Validation makes a Tuesday a little more palatable. 

Is it obvious I had a rough Tuesday?  I will quit rambling about my Tuesday woes now and move on to rambling about these fish tacos.  After all, it is Taco Tuesday, the only thing other than validation that Tuesdays are miserable that makes a Tuesday more palatable.

These tacos are delicious, and fresh, and boozy and will make you feel like you are on vacation in California or the Keys, or at least that it's a Saturday night instead of a Tuesday night (every little bit helps).

And they are super fast.  I know I've said that dishes were fast before, and I know some of you may not believe me (*cough* Lauren *cough*), but its true.  It will take you twenty-five minutes start to finish; ten if you take my short cut below, pinky swear.

The trick the quick cook time is buying fish bits (that's what I call them at least) from your fish market.   My fish market will often have fish bits (i.e. mahi mahi, snapper, trigger fish) which are just smaller chunks of the fish left over when cutting the fillets.  There are also grouper cheeks, which are cut from just below the eye of the grouper.  Not only do the bits cook up substantially faster than their fillet counter part's, they are much cheaper.  Win.

If you cannot find bits at your fish market, no worries.  Just get a fillet and cut it into smaller pieces for faster cooking. Fresh tuna is also a really good option for fish tacos.

The other key component to these quick yet delicious fish tacos?  Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic.  The stuff is amazeballs.  Just the right balance of salt, spice and savory.  I have tried other spices, and have even made my own concoctions from time to time, but I always go back to this stuff when I need quick and guaranteed good flavor.

Admittedly, every time a make fish tacos, I do them a little different.  This particular time, I was attempting to recreate the fish tacos I had while we were out in California last fall visiting Scott's sisters (hi Jen and Kim!).  They were served with a sweet, yet spicy, lime and cilantro slaw that complimented the salty fish perfectly.  I think I got pretty damn close (pats herself on the back).

If I'm really in a hurry, I will skip the slaw and just serve the fish tacos with the traditional, easy to throw on the table toppings - lettuce, tomato, cheese (cheddar, monterrey jack, cotija - whatever floats your boat), avocado chunks, lime wedges, sour cream etc.

If I have a little more time, I will serve them with a fruit salsa (like this one), or with my Bourbon Pimento Cheese (recipe here) - a little more eccentric, undoubtedly Southern and slap your momma good. 

I promise, these will make your terrible Tuesday better.

California Style Fish Tacos with Tequila Lime Slaw
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes


For Tequila Lime Slaw:
1/2 head of green cabbage, shredded 
1/2 green pepper, diced fine
2 jalapenos, diced fine (remove seeds and membrane to minimize heat)
1 bunch of cilantro, chopped fine
1 tablespoon of honey
2 tablespoons of tequila
1 teaspoon of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of chili powder
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
Zest of 1 lime
2 limes, juiced

For Tacos:
1 1/2 - 2 pounds of Trigger Fish Bits (or Grouper Cheeks or whatever fish you want)
2 tablespoons of coconut oil (or olive oil)
1 cup of sharp white cheddar cheese
1-2 tomatoes, diced
1 tablespoon of Chef Paul Prudhomme's Seafood Magic
2 limes quartered
8 corn tortillas, heated*
Tequila Lime Slaw

For Slaw:  To make dressing, in a small bowl, whisk together honey, tequila, cumin, chili powder, sugar, lime juice and lime zest.  In a large bowl, mix together cabbage, cilantro, green pepper and jalapeno.  Add dressing to cabbage mixture and stir well to combine.  Refrigerate slaw while preparing tacos.  For Tacos:  Sprinkle fish with Paul's Seasoning.  Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, and add coconut oil after pan has had an opportunity to heat up (about 3-5 minutes).  Add seasoned fish and cook for 2 minutes on each side (do not crowd pan, cook in batches if necessary).  To assemble tacos, add cheese to the bottom of a corn tortilla, top with fish, slaw and tomatoes and serve with lime wedges.  Corona is optional, but highly recommended.

* When I'm in a hurry or I'm cooking for a large group, I will heat the tortillas in oven.  Stack about 5 tortillas on top of each other, wrap in foil, and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes while prepping slaw and cooking fish.  However, tortillas taste a bazillion times better when you grill them in a skillet.  Heat a skillet over medium high heat.  Add tortillas one by one and cook on each side for 30 seconds to a minute (until browned).

A Birthday Fit For a King

Monday, April 29, 2013

A special someone celebrated a birthday on Saturday...

This guy!  Saturday marked King's second birthday.  Because I knew I was going to be out of town on his actual birthday (awful dog mom), I wanted to do something special for him on Friday before I left town.  

Coincidentally, a slightly more notorious "King" is reported to have had a favorite sandwich that contains all of my King's favorites - peanut butter, banana and bacon. So I decided to recreate this southern classic.

The King
Serves: 1 dog and 2 humans (for sampling)
Prep Time:  5 minutes
Cook Time:  8 minutes
Total Time: 13 minutes

2 slices of Ezekial Bread
4 slices of bacon, cooked
2 tablespoons of Peanut Butter & Co. Crunch Time Chunky
1 banana, sliced
1 tablespoon of honey
1 tablespoon of butter, softened at room temperature

Spread butter outside of both pieces of bread.  Spread peanut butter on the inside of both pieces of bread.  Top both peanut buttered slices with sliced banana and bacon, and then marry them together.  Heat skillet over medium high heat.  Add sandwich to hot skillet and cook on each side until browned, approximately 4 minutes per side.  Drizzle with honey and serve to a drooling pup.  

I think the excessive drool is clear evidence that King was thrilled about his birthday treat, despite the lack of excitement in his facial expression.

Funny thing is, King is so well behaved that he refused to eat the sandwich from the table I photographed it on despite encouragement from me.  I had to move the plate outside, open the sandwich exposing the peanut butter and bacon, and feed him a piece of bacon before he would dig in.

But once he started, there was no stopping him.  That sandwich was inhaled in about a minute.

He then proceeded to look at me as if asking where the other half was.

Much to his chagrin, that other half was reserved for me and Scott to sample.  After all, I had to actually taste the infamous (albeit slightly peculiar) sandwich in order to give you my honest opinion of it.

The Verdict:  Absurdly delicious.  The combination of the salty bacon, the sweetness of the honey and banana and the crunch of the peanut butter was instantly addicting.  Its no wonder Mr. Presley put on a few pounds in his later years.  I would advise you to reserve this sandwich for special occasions, like a sweet pup's (or kid's if you have one of those) birthday.

Happy Birthday Pup Face!!

Weekly Menu 4.28.13 - 5.4.13 and Weekly Wrap-up

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Weekly Menu:

Sunday:  Cobb Salad with Grilled Chicken and Shrimp and Buttermilk Basil Dressing (recipe to here)

Monday: Spinach Lasagna (recipe here)  

Tuesday : Smoked Salmon Quiche (recipe here) and spinach salad

Wednesday: Lightened Up Chicken and Broccoli Casserole (recipe to here)

Thursday: Honey Dijon and Rosemary Chicken Thighs (recipe here

Friday:  Fish Tacos (recipe to here)

Saturday: Kitchen Closed - Heading to see Kenny Chesney and Zac Brown Band in Columbia, South Carolina with Scott!

I knew that being out of town all weekend would leave me little time to meal plan and grocery shop, so I planned ahead and we will be primarily be eating out of the freezer this week.

Weekly Wrap-up:

Assembling the grill with dad on Sunday.

Fueling my new TV series addiction on Monday.

Grilling out on Tuesday.

Making new friends on Wednesday.

Marveling at the moon on Thursday.

Visiting my sweet Walker Grace on Friday.

Wishing King a Happy 2nd Birthday on Saturday.

Having a ball with my two oldest friends on Sunday.  Regardless of how much time passes between visits, we always pick up right where we left off.  I love you girls and had a blast this weekend!  Can't wait for Atlanta April 2014!

Queen City

Friday, April 26, 2013

Friday is finally here!  Woo hoo!   

I'm keeping this short and sweet because I am headed to the Queen City today to meet up with my dear friends Lauren and Elizabeth for a weekend of good food, great wine, endless laughter, and a little shopping (and I haven't packed a stitch).  I will miss my boys, but this girls weekend is going to be good for the soul.

See you ladies soon!

My workout today looked like this:

1.  Warm up

2. Ab Circuit: 2 sets
      - Leg raises x 20
      - Plank x 60 seconds
      - Hammer hits 8 lbs hammer x 20 per side

3.  Squats
     - Warm up:  Empty bar x 20
     - 65 lbs x 10
     - 85 lbs x 8
     - 105 lbs x 5
     - 125 lbs x 3

 4.  Circuit
     - Clean and press 45 lbs x 10
     - Band assisted pull ups x 10
     - Clean and press 50 lbs x 8
     - Band assisted pull ups x 8
     - Clean and press 55 lbs x 5
     - Band assisted pull ups x 5
     - Clean and press 60 lbs x 3
     - Band assisted pull ups x 3

 5.  Ab Circuit: 2 sets
      - Leg raises on raised bench x 10
      - Ab wheel x 5
      - Hammer hits 16 lbs hammer x 10 per side

And King ended up in someone else's lap today.

King and his Nana

Spicy Skirt Steak with Asian Slaw

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I have a confession.

I feel like I am often making confessions on here, but I realize the majority of the things I do are a little absurd, so "confession" feels more appropriate a term than "announcement" in most cases. So bear with me.

My confession:  I am generally guilty of equating higher quality with a high price tag.  Is it ridiculous?  Arguably.  Is it true? In certain cases, I'd have to unequivocally say yes.  You get what you pay for.  My prime example is clothes.  Don't get me wrong, I'll be the first to purchase a pair of cute colored skinnies from Old Navy, but I also realize they will last only a season or two before they begin unraveling at the seams.  On the other hand, I still have a pair of Citizen jeans from college that look as new as the day I purchased them.  And don't get me started on purses.  And appliances.

My dad and grandmother will be shaking their heads as they read this, muttering something about not being raised right.  My mom, on the other hand, will be nodding her head in agreement. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree (speaking of which, it's about time to plan the annual NYC trip, lady).

But there is one case where I have found this theory fails, and that is in the arena of quality and taste of steak.  We all know the most expensive cuts of steak are the filet mignon (a tenderloin, if you will).  Admittedly, my younger, less informed self was a filet snob.  I bought into the claims that its tenderness and price point made it the best choice.  I chalk that up to a combination of inexperience and the aforementioned theory on price vs. quality.

Fortunately, I was shown the error of my ways while living in NYC.  I had the pleasure of dining at Landmarc in Tribeca and was absolutely blown away by their skirt steak.  Life. Changing.  It might have been one of the best things I have ever tasted in my life.  No lie.  The flavor is indescribable and leaves filet mignon holding the honorable mention.  

And its cheaper, considerably cheaper, than a filet or a New York Strip.  Like $5 - $10 per pound cheaper. I don't get it.  How can this be?  Is it possible the beef industry has failed to uncover this truth?  In that case, I should probably shut up.

A bonus - it's a very thin cut so it cooks very quickly.  I can cook a skirt steak in six minutes, where it will generally take me fifteen minutes to cook a decent size filet.  Does a difference of nine minutes give you a little insight on my impatience issues?  I'm a disaster.

Bottom line, make this.  It debunks my theory and tastes amazing.

Spicy Skirt Steak with Asian Slaw
Serves: 4
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes

For Steak
2 pounds skirt steak
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chili sesame oil
1 tablespoon mirin
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 lime, juiced
3 tablespoons of minced ginger
1 tablespoon of minced garlic
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon siracha 
1 tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds for garnish
1 tablespoon coconut oil

For Slaw
1 head of purple cabbage, shredded 
1 red pepper, diced 
1 yellow pepper, diced 
1 cucumber diced 
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 lime, juiced
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 teaspoon peanut butter
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
3 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds

For marinade, combine soy sauce, chili sesame oil, mirin, rice vinegar, lime juice, ginger, garlic, brown sugar, and siracha in a non reactive casserole dish and whisk together. Add steak and allow to marinate for 20 to 30 minutes while you prepare slaw. For slaw, mix shredded cabbage, red peppers, yellow peppers, and cucumber in a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together soy sauce, lime juice, rice wine vinegar, apple cider vinegar, ginger, peanut butter, brown sugar, sesame oil and sesame seeds. Pour dressing over vegetables and mix well. Allow slaw to cool in fridge while you prepare steak. Heat large skillet over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of coconut oil. Remove skirt steak from marinade and cook for 5-6 minutes on each side for medium. Allow steak to rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.

TIP:  Don't cook a skirt steak above medium or it will be tough.  

Stress Issues

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A few Wednesday randoms:

A) It's still too cold to wear my cute new workout clothes.  I'm irate a little annoyed.  It reminds me of when I was young and mom would take us shopping for ________ (insert gift giving holiday here), but then we'd have to wait weeks to actually wear them.  #completelyunreasonable

B)  Work is more than a little crazy right now.  I think I need a vacation.

C) Because of (B), I have been a total nightmare a little stressed.  This stress has led me to do asinine things like blame Scott for causing me to knock the egg carton out of the fridge (resulting in a raw egg explosion all over the floor) when he was clear across the room.  I am a real treat.  Sorry (again) babe.

D) In an attempt to minimize (B) and (C), I am taking Friday off and heading to Charlotte for a girls weekend.  Friday cannot get here fast enough.

Enough about my issues.  Today's workout:

1. Warm up

2. Ab Circuit: 2 sets
      - Landmines x 10 per side
      - TRX knee tucks x 10
      - Farmers walk holding 50lb kettle bells in each hand x 2 length of gym

TRX Knee Tuck (and getting assaulted by King)
TRX Knee Tuck (assault continues)
3.  Circuit:  3 sets, less than 1 minute rest between sets
     - Kettle bell swings overhead 25 lbs x 10
     - Turkish get-ups with a 40lbs bag x 2 per side
     - Inclined dumbbell press 25 lbs x 12
     - Dumbbell rows 25 lbs x 12 per arm
     - Walking lunges x 15 per leg

Kettle Bell Swings
Turkish Get-ups
Inclined Press
Dumbbell Row
Walking Lunges

Shrimp Quinoa with Fresh Herbs, Vegetables and Feta Cheese

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

For all of my friends who claim they can't cook, this recipe is for you.

Honestly, if you (a) know how to boil water, and (b) can wield a knife in the kitchen without mortally injuring yourself, you possess all of the skill sets necessary to make this dish.  

If you are lacking in (a) or (b), I'm afraid I can't help you.  You would, however, make the perfect poster child for the need to bring back Home Ec classes to grade schools in this country.  Life skills people.  You should, at a minimum, be able to feed yourself in a way that does not involve McDonalds, DiGiorno, Campbell's or Lean Cuisines. 

I will get off of my soapbox now. 

It may appear all fancy because it involves seafood, fresh herbs and Quinoa ("keen-wah", not "ki-No-ah" like my country bumpkin self so eloquently pronounced it for months before I was schooled in the proper culinary pronunciation), but it's just putting airs. 

When you break it down, it's no more fancy than the macaroni salad you throw together for a barbecue - a grain, whatever veggies you have on hand, a little meat (if you have it), and some oil to bind it all together. 

And its completely customizable.  Don't like shrimp or allergic to shellfish? Add grilled chicken instead.  Prefer scallops? Go right ahead.  Not a zucchini fan?  Use broccoli, or asparagus, or sugar snap peas.  Want to sub kale for spinach?  Knock yourself out.

I have made this one thousand different ways, and its turns out amazing every time.  I generally stick to green vegetables because it turns out so pretty when combined with the green herbs, but feel free to experiment.  Trust me, you cannot ruin this.  Just make sure you stick with the olive oil, lemon and feta cheese combination - that's the ticket.

For my vegetarian friends out there, this is about as close as I get to a meatless recipe (i.e. a recipe that does, in fact, technically include meat).  Lucky for you, I know first hand that this recipe would be equally as good if you omitted the shrimp because Scott has been known to eat all of the shrimp (even when I double the shrimp) and I'm left only with the quinoa and veggies for lunch.  It's still scrumpdiddlyumptious.

Thanks Nitty Gritty Nursery and Edible Garden for the organic herbs and zucchini!

Shrimp Quinoa with Fresh Herbs, Vegetables and Feta Cheese:
Serves: 6
Prep Time:  35 minutes
Cook Time:  10 minutes
Total Time:  45 minutes

1 1/2 cups quinoa, cooked per instructions
1 pound of shrimp, peel and deveined
1 zucchini, sliced and quartered (or 6 mini zucchini sliced in my case)
8 ounces of raw spinach
1 bunch of fresh basil, chiffonade
1 bunch of fresh dill, chopped 
1 bunch of chives, chopped 
1 cucumber, sliced and cut into fourths
2 lemons, juiced 
3 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup of Feta Cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Add raw spinach to a large bowl  Cook quinoa per instructions (I made mine with water and a little salt, pepper, dried thyme and garlic powder), and pour hot quinoa over spinach, stir well.   The heat of the quinoa will help wilt spinach.  On a cookie sheet with raised edges, add zucchini and toss with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil.  Arrange zucchini so that its covering one half of the cookie sheet.  Roast for 5 minutes in oven.  Remove cookie sheet and set oven to high broil.   Add shrimp to cookie sheet and toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Broil shrimp and zucchini for three to five minutes until shrimp are pink throughout (you do not want to overcook shrimp, so check after three minutes). Remove from oven and pour contents of pan (including juice) onto quinoa.  Stir well.  Add basil, dill, chives, cucumber, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons of olive oil and stir.  Add Feta cheese and stir well.  Serve immediately. 
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