There’s something to be said for city-style life, particularly cities where you need to grocery shop for your food each day. Although it is more inconvenient (not having stockpiles of things in the house) and more expensive, the ingredients have a better chance of being fresh, and here’s the big one….. you aren’t compelled to eat EVERYTHING IN SIGHT the day after a huge grocery shopping trip. Yikes.
Mark and I spent at least half our trip in the produce section, which means there’s tons of yummy-looking things in our fridge right now. Fresh fruit, veggies…. all snack-able and within reach. Terrifying. The only thing keeping me from downing the entire container of raspberries in a single sitting is knowing how much they cost. So, I guess that helps.
One strategy we employ (especially when we’re feeling tired of our ‘usual’ recipes), is to find one or two new things to try. Last trip, we came across water chestnuts… so we threw those in our stir fry. Delicious! This time? Fish. We usually stick with the ‘safe’ choices of tilapia and salmon, but this time we experimented and picked up a few new things.
With new ingredients comes new inspiration for recipes… thus today’s post. In my usual style, I barely measured anything – so hopefully you can follow along and replicate what turned out to be a delicious dinner!
*** I am notorious for forgetting to take photos while I cook. I tried REALLY HARD this time to remember! So, YAY photos!
Panko Crusted Tilapia
I grabbed some inspiration from Karen in the Kitchen (specifically her photo showing the tilapia with orzo and green beans — dinner idea light bulb… DING!). Of course, I read the recipe at work, and forgot to print it so by the time I got home I only half remembered what to do and didn’t pay attention at ALL to any of the amounts. Some days I really wonder how any of my food turns out well! Thank god for my grandparents teaching me basic kitchen skills as a child. Anyway. Here we go.
- 2 Tilapia Fillets (go figure, right? I’m sure other mild fish or even chicken would be awesome too)
- 1 Tbsp butter
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice (since I didn’t have any lemon-pepper seasoning on hand). Use more or less depending on your love of lemony flavor
- To taste (aka: I have no idea how much I used): Parmesan cheese, black pepper, salt, parsley, thyme, garlic powder
*Note: no need to flip the fish at any point. Tilapia is brittle and WILL break into a zillion pieces.
- Preheat oven to Bake at 400 degrees
- Lay out tilapia fillets on a pan. Melt butter, and brush evenly onto fish (‘up’ side only)
- Mix bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese together in a bowl (I went with about a 3:1 ratio by slowly adding Parmesan until it was semi-noticeable throughout the bowl of breadcrumbs). Set aside.
- Spread 1 Tbsp (or however much you want to use) of lemon juice on each fillet.
- Sprinkle a light layer of black pepper, garlic powder and parsley on the fish. Don’t ‘dump’ or ‘coat’ it, but don’t be afraid of it either. Tilapia is a very mild fish which takes the flavor of whatever you put on it.
- Sprinkle a pinch of salt on each fillet.
- Spread the bread crumb mixture over both fillets. Lightly press with your palm so the breadcrumbs stick better.
- Sprinkle a pinch of thyme on top.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes. Breadcrumbs should just be starting to hint at golden-brown.
Creamy Orzo Pasta with Veggies
This one was fun, and again — no recipe anywhere to be found except the random ideas in my head. Pasta, creamy sauce, and veggies. What could go wrong? =)
- 1 Cup Uncooked Orzo Pasta
- 1/4 cup (each) Assorted veggies! I chose about 4-5 different things. All about 1/4 cup each. I could’ve done more, this was still sort of pasta-heavy.
- 1/2 cup diced white onion
- 1 Tbsp flour
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2-1 cup milk (I used 1%)
- To taste: Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, parsley, salt, black pepper
- Start by cooking the orzo pasta (just like regular pasta). While waiting for the water to boil, chop your veggies! Diced size worked well for me.
- Put the pasta in to cook. Keep an eye on it and check it every couple minutes! Drain when finished and set aside in a bowl. (hint: you can go on to the next steps while it’s cooking!)
- Sautee the onion in a frying pan with the olive oil (medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes).
- Lower the heat (medium-low). Make sure there is still some oil in the pan (add a bit if there isnt). Add the flour and stir. There should be a goopy mass that forms. Add in about half the milk and stir until smooth again.
- Throw your ‘tougher’ veggies in – the ones that take longer to soften up. (things like green pepper, broccoli, etc). Keep checking the creaminess. Add more milk if needed. You’re shooting for creamy but still fluid (a bit thinner than alfredo sauce).
- Add garlic powder, salt, pepper and parsley
- Toss in the ‘softer’ veggies and stir. By this time your pasta should be done – drain and incorporate it into the pan with the veggies. Give everything a good stir and add parmesan to taste.