Can’t Miss Catfish 

I love fish and seafood. I adapted this recipes from Paula Dean’s Can’t Miss Red Snapper, because I prefer catfish to red snapper.  This simple and flavorful recipe is very forgiving. There’s not a lot of measuring required, just go with what feels right. Can’t miss catfish is awesome with couscous or quinoa to soak up the saucy roasted veggies. I’ve even made a fish sandwich with the leftovers. Any white freshly firm fish works with this dish. Use a variety of peppers for a colorful tasty dish that’s light but very satisfying. 

Peace & Java
Prep Time: 15 min            Cook Time: 15 min              Total Time: 30 min     
Serving Size: 1 4 ounce fillet with 1 cup veggies

Servings: 4                          Difficulty: Easy Peasy        Yield: 4 servings

INGREDIENTS:

2 (8 ounce) catfish fillets, about 1/2 inch thick

6-8 cloves garlic, minced

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 sweet onion, sliced

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

1 tablespoon Worscestershire sauce

2-3 teaspoons Old Bay or Cajun seasoning

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


DIRECTIONS: 

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Season the fish with old bay or Cajun seasoning, salt and pepper and Worcestershire.

3. Spread the onions and papers on a 13×9 baking sheet and place the fish fillets on top.

4. Bake for 10-12 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and baste with pan juices. Sprinkle the fish with Parmesan cheese and place under the broiler for 2-3 minutes until the cheese browns.


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

Don’t like catfish? No problem, try tilapia, halibut, cod or red snapper.

 

Minestrone Soup

My body begs for soup in the winter. This veggie packed hearty Italian soup is one of my go to healthy comfort foods. I love chopping the veggies, it’s great therapy! And, the smells that fill my house and kitchen as the soup simmers on the stove or in the crockpot. Aaaah, now that’s a lil bit of heaven. Serve this yummilicious soup with a green salad and a garlic bread for dipping. 

If you’re cooking for just one or two, go ahead and make the full batch of soup. The soup freezes well, for those days when you’re pressed for time. Make this soup your own by adding your fav veggies or beans. Don’t like cannelloni beans, use kidney beans. As you can tell from the recipe, I LOVE garlic! If you don’t, ease up on the garlic madness! 

Peace & Java
Prep Time: 20 min          Cook Time: 60 min            Total Time: 1 hour 20 min              Serving Size: a heaping 1 1/3 cups

Servings: 12                       Difficulty: easy pease        Yield: about 4 quarts, 16 cups       SP: 2
​​



INGREDIENTS:

1 medium onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 bulb fennel, chopped

1 medium potato, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

2 ribs celery, chopped

2 cups kale, washed and roughly chopped

1 small yellow squash, chopped

1 small zucchini, chopped

1 cup cut green beans, fresh or frozen, 

1 cup, whole wheat pasta shells, or elbow macaroni

4 cups fat free vegetable both

1 8 oz.  can spicy low sodium vegetable juice

2 14oz. cans diced tomatoes, with basil and oregano with juice

1 can reduced salt cannelloni beans, drained and rinsed

1/4 cup basil, roughly chopped

1/4 cup parsley, roughly chopped

6 garlic cloves, minced

6 roasted garlic cloves, minced

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil 

Zest of 1 lemon

1 tbsp fresh lemon juice

2 tsps Italians seasoning

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp black pepper, freshly ground

1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1 tsp ground oregano

2 bay leaves

2-3 Parmesan rinds

Freshly grated Parmesan, optional


DIRECTIONS: 

1. In a large heavy pot, heat the olive oil over medium low heat. Add the onions and sauté, uncovered until a lil browned, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery and fennel to the pan and sauté, 2-3 minutes. Salt and pepper, the veggies and add the garlic and Parmesan rinds to the party, stirring to mix the seasoning with the veggies.

2. Add the bell peppers, potato, red pepper flakes, oregano and bay leaves to the pot and cook 5 minutes.  – At this point, you may transfer the cooked veggies to a crockpot set on low and continue with the recipe. 

3. Add the canned tomatoes with juice, the tomato juice and the broth. Stir to lift any browned bits from the pot. That color is flavor! Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat. Simmer the soup covered for 20-30 minutes, until the vegges are soft, but still have some bite. No mushy veggie soup here! We are not making baby food. 

4. Stir the green beans, zucchini and squash into the soup. Stir in the beans. Add the pasta and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes. Add additional broth if needed for desired consistency. Add the basil, parsley, lemon zest and juice. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. 

4. Serve the soup garnished with 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan for 1 additional SP if you’re counting. 
NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: 

The pasta will swell as the soup sits and it soaks up the broth. If you don’t like that look or taste, cook the pasta separately and add the pasta portions to the soup as you reheat it.  

I like to vary the types of canned diced tomatoes for this soup. There are brands with onions and garlic. I think I’ve seen red peppers too. I also like to use ones with reduced salt or no salt added if I can find them. 

If fresh herbs aren’t available, or don’t look great at the grocery store, buy frozen herb cubes and use them instead.  

When you buy Parmesan cheese wedges, save the rinds. Toss the rinds in a freezer bag and freeze. Use the rinds to flavor soups and sauces. 

Roasted Chicken Salad

Who doesn’t like chicken salad? It’s quick, tasty and filled with protein. I make a few varieties of chicken salad. This one is my basic go to recipe. It’s great as a sammy, a wrap, as an appetizer roll-up or served simply on a bed of mixed greens. I roast the chicken, let it cool and dice it a day or two ahead. That way, this salad comes together quick when you’re ready to eat. I don’t like a super wet chicken salad. If you do, add more mayo and or yogurt to your desired level of creamy. 

The pics of the roasted chicken are from a quadruple batch, I made for a wedding. The recipe below has been reduced to make a smaller quantity. But, you can always roast a bunch of chicken breasts when you have extra time and refrigerate or freeze them for meals later. 

Peace and Java


Prep Time: 20 min            Cook Time: 30 min             Total Time:  50 min            Serving Size: 1/2 cup

Servings: 6                          Difficulty: Medium              Yield: 3 cups


INGREDIENTS:

For the Roasted Chicken:

4 large chicken breasts, boneless

2 tablespoons light butter, melted

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground 

For the Chicken Salad

Roasted Chicken, cubed

1/2 cup light mayo

1/2 cup reduced fat greek yogurt

1 large red onion, chopped

1/2 cup celery, chopped – about 2 stalks

1/4 cup roasted peppers, chopped

2 tablespoons cup capers, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, chopped

1 heaping tablespoon dijon mustard

dash hot sauce

Salt and pepper to taste


DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Place the chicken breasts on a sheet pan and brush with the melted butter. Salt and pepper both sides of the check breasts. roast for 30-35 minutes, until the chicken is done and the juices run clear. Let the chicken cool, then cut into large chunks. 

In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients with the chicken. Mix well. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste. Serve and enjoy


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: Try adding walnuts or raisins to the mix if ya like your chicken salad with a little crunch and a hint of sweet. For appetizer size chicken sammy or roll-ups, dice the chicken. 


Spicy Corn and Chicken Chowder

I’m not rushing it, but I’m feeling like fall is on the way. Fall makes me want to eat long simmered filling dishes, full of rich flavors that pack a punch with a litte spice. My Spicy Corn and Chicken Chowder is the answer! And, it’s easy enough to make vegetarian, by leaving out the bacon, bacon grease, chicken and chicken stock. Add extra veggies and use vegetable stock to amp up your veggie chowder.

This recipe is for the days when you have a little extra time to chop, prep and simmer a hearty meal for the week or the days ahead. If you want, you can break the prep steps up over a day or two and simply assemble the pre-prepped ingredients on the day you want to cook this satisfying chowder and serve. This chowder freezes well for quick meals later in the week or months ahead. 

I like the idea of a “garnish bar,” so family and friends can top this spicy veggie and chicken chowder the way they like it. At G’s place, you can have it your way.

Peace & Java

Prep Time: 30 min                           Cook Time: 1 hour                        Total Time: 1 hour 30 min

Difficulty: Intermediate                 Servings: 10-12                             Serving Size: 1 1/2  cups  

Yield: about 3 quarts     


INGREDIENTS:

2 cups roasted chicken, chopped

4 slices center cut bacon, cooked until crisp and chopped

2 tablespoons reserved bacon grease

2 cups grilled corn, cut off the cob, about 3-4 large ears

1 large sweet potato, peeled and chopped small

1 medium sweet onion – like Vidalia chopped

1/2 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup green bell pepper, diced

1/2 cup carrots, diced

1/2 cup celery including celery leaves, diced

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies

4 wedges laughing cow spicy pepper jack cheese

2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 1/2 cups fat-free half and half

4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed and chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 teaspoon Cajun Spice – Essence

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt or to taste

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

non-stick olive oil cooking spray

Optional Garnishes: avocado, bacon, lime wedges, green onion, and seasoned oyster crackers




DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 400°

1.Cook the bacon, drain on a paper towel. When cool, chop and set aside as a garnish. Reserve about 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease to carmelize the onion.

2. Season the diced sweet potato with a pinch of salt and pepper. Spray with non-stick cooking spray and toss to coat. Roast for 8-10 minutes, until soft and beginning to brown. Mash half of the sweet potato and set aside.

3. Heat the reserved bacon grease in a 3-4 quart heavy pot. Add the onion and saute over medium heat until soft, brown and carmelized about 15-20 minutes

4. Add the carrots, red and green bell pepper, celery to the onion. Stir to combine. Add the flour and cook 2-3 minutes until the mixture begins to smell nutty and brown lightly.

5. Season the floured veggies with thyme, Cajun spice, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir the veggies and seasonings to combine. Add the tomatoes with green chilies, diced and mashed sweet potato and corn to the other veggies and cook 2-3 minutes.

6. Add chicken stock, stir the mixture, cover and bring to a boil, about 5-7 minutes.

7. Remove the lid from the pot, reduce heat to a simmer. Add the half and half, and the chicken. Stir to combine. Taste the chowder and adjust seasoning as needed. Simmer with the lid on covering about 3/4 of the pot for 10-15 minutes.

8. Serve with desired optional garnishes and enjoy!!


NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: Divide the prep steps between a day or two to speed up the cooking process: Day 1-Roast the sweet potato and smash half the sweet potatoes; grill the corn and remove from the cob. Wash and chop the veggies and refrigerate. 

Use leftover roast chicken or take help from your supermarket and purchase a rotisserie chicken.

No fresh corn on hand, no worries, frozen corn is your friend!

No Laughing Cow? substitute jalapeno cream cheese or 4 ounces cream cheese and about 1-2 tablespoons to taste, pickled jalapeno, diced.

To make this chowder vegetarian, omit the bacon and chicken and use vegetable stock.

Tomato Pie

Fresh summer tomatoes are the best! Juicy and sweet, tasty alone with a little salt and pepper or baked in a pie. Yes, a pie with fresh herbs and cheddar cheese. Oh, yea baby!!

Truth time: this recipe was a first for me and didn’t turn out perfect. Initially, I wasn’t going to share, but I changed my mind. I learned from my missteps and hope you can too. While the crust was a little heavy/doughy because I mistakenly doubled the butter – 1 cup, instead of a 1/2 half cup; the filling was delish. The crust was more shortbread like and the bottom was yummy, while the sides didn’t bake fully with making the crust doughy with the added moisture from the tomatoes. My solution: I ate the bottom crust and the awesome tomato filling, leaving the dough sides and calories behind!

Next time around for a lighter pie. I’m going to use phyllo dough or maybe egg substitutes to make it more quiche-like with no crust at all. Stay tuned for my next version of Tomato Pie.

The key to making this recipe a success: Be sure to let the tomatoes drain really really well, so they don’t make your crust soggy.

Prep Time: 2 hours                    Cook Time: 45 min     Total Time: 2 hours 45 min                        Difficulty: Intermediate           Servings: 8                    Yield: 1 9-inch pie.

 


 

INGREDIENTS:

Crust:

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface dusting

1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes – just 1 stick!!

 


 

Tomato Filling:

3 -4 large tomatoes, about 2 pounds, sliced 1/4″ thick

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 small  chopped Vidalia or sweet onion, chopped

1/2 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 1/2 cups reduced fat sharp cheddar, shredded

1/2 cup reduced fat or no fat Greek yogurt

1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh herbs, such as basil, oregano, parsley, and/or thyme

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 teaspoons spicy mustard

1-2 teaspoons hot sauce

1 teaspoon herbs de Provence

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

 

DIRECTIONS:

Crust:

1.Pulse salt, sugar, and 1 1/4 cups flour in a food processor until well combined. Add butter and pulse until the mixture resembles a coarse meal with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining, about 10 seconds. With the motor running, add 1/4 cup ice water and process until dough just holds together, about 30 seconds. Squeeze a small amount of dough between your fingers; if it’s very crumbly, add more ice water, 1 Tbsp. at a time (2 Tbsp. maximum). Do not over-process.

2.Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface and push together to form a rough ball. Knead a few times to combine, then roll into a ball. Flatten ball into a disc with smooth edges (no cracks), cover with plastic wrap, and chill at least 1 hour or up to overnight

Tomato Filling:

1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with several layers of paper towels. Arrange tomato slices on prepared sheet, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp. salt, and cover with more paper towels. Let drain at least 30 minutes.

2.Position rack in bottom rung of oven and preheat to 350°F. After dough has chilled, lightly flour work surface and roll out dough to a 13″ round. Roll dough loosely around the rolling pin, then release into pie pan. Trim edges to leave a 1″ overhang and crimp as desired. Freeze dough at least 15 minutes.

 

 

3.Line crust with parchment paper or foil and fill bottom with baking beans or weights. Bake crust, rotating halfway through, 20 minutes. Remove weights, pierce bottom of crust all over with a fork, and bake again until very light brown and dry, about 10 minutes more.

 

 

4.Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium. Add onion, butter, and 1/4 tsp. salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is softened and just starting to caramelize, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1-2 more minutes. Remove from heat and cool.

 

 

5. Combine Greek yogurt, cheese, herbs, hot sauce, pepper, onion mixture, and 1/4 tsp. salt in a medium bowl.

6. Blot tomatoes with fresh paper towels to remove as much remaining moisture as possible. Arrange tomato slices in pie shell and top with yogurt and cheese mixture. smoothing evenly over tomatoes.

 

 

7.Bake pie, rotating halfway through, until golden brown, 40–45 minutes. Let cool to room temperature before slicing.

8. Optional: Serve the pie with a lightly dressed arugula salad  for a complete mean or top a slice with a lil burrata cheese if you’re feeling decadent.

 

 

NOTES, TIPS & TRICKS: If you’re not much of a baker, feel free to use a frozen or refrigerated pie crust. This recipe is all about the tomatoes, and they are the star!

The filling can be made a day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before topping tomatoes so the spread smooths easily.