Saturday, February 25, 2012

Crispy Onion Haddock

It's that time of year again, and even though Hubbs and I don't strictly follow all of the tenets of our faith, we do like to try to abstain from meat on Fridays during Lent. With that goal in mind, I saw some lovely fresh Haddock at the market this past Friday and picked up a couple of nice fillets. Hubby loves all types of fish, cooked and uncooked, but I'm not crazy about it, (with the exception of shellfish, of course) so it can be a challenge to come up with recipes that I'll dig into with the same zeal that he does.

Last year, Hubbs found a recipe from French's that uses their French Fried Onions (you know... the kind that go into their famous green bean casserole) as a breading for chicken, fish, pork and so on. He figured that since I will sometimes order up a basket of Fish and Chips when we're dining at a good seafood restaurant, I might be persuaded to try a mild white fish like Haddock or Cod prepared this way and he might just get fresh fish for dinner at home once in a while.

Well, he was correct. The first time I made it, I was hooked. It's pretty quick and easy to prepare. I cut my fish into larger portions, but you could easily cut it into smaller strips and make something more like fish fingers for the kiddos. I always make my own tartar sauce as well. Hubbs calls it "tartar sauce al a francaise" because I use shallots, dijon and cornichon to make it, instead of the more traditional onions, yellow mustard and dill pickles. It makes a slightly more sour sauce, but I assure you, it's addictive. You might just find yourself making fried fish and seafood more often, just so you'll have a vehicle for the sauce. :~)

Please forgive the "smudge" in some of the photos. I got a wee bit of mayo on the lens and didn't realize it until I was loading the pics. Ooops! I'm going to have to check these things from now on.

Crispy Onion Haddock with Homemade Tartar Sauce

The Fish
  • 2 Lbs of Haddock or Cod Fillets, cleaned and trimmed
  • 1 6oz Canister of French's French Fried Onions, crushed
  • 1/4 Cup Good Mayonnaise
  • 1/2 Tsp Onion Powder or Garlic Powder
  • Pinch of Kosher Salt and Fresh Ground Black Pepper, to taste

The Sauce
  • 1 Cup Good Mayonnaise
  • 4-6 Cornishon, minced finely
  • 1 Medium Shallot, minced finely
  • 1 Tsp Dijon Mustard (generous)

My Clubhouse Chicken was featured this week at Inspire Me Monday, hosted by the lovely Ramona at Create With Joy! Thank you Ramona!

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Friday, February 17, 2012

Clubhouse Chicken (Bacon & Cheddar)

So, this was going to be our dinner on Tuesday, but that plan was put in place before (what will in future be known as) the St. Valentine's Day Migraine Massacre, swooped in and took me hostage for a couple of days. It is most definitely my favorite chicken dish and Hubbs seems to agree. I don't make it too frequently, because there's something about the combination of ingredients that makes me want to have it not only for dinner, but then again for breakfast and lunch the next day. (I don't really do that. Well... not for breakfast anyway. Yet.)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

I've Received A Lovely Award!

Hiya Kids! Sorry I've been MIA for a bit. Between all that was going on with our friend's dad's wake and funeral and the two+ day migraine that hit me late Monday night, I've been flat out. Unfortunately, that also meant there was no romantic day or dinner for us on Valentine's Day. I'm not even really sure what hubbs ate for dinner that night, cuz I was holed up in a dark bedroom, doing my best to try and keep the migraine meds down. Yeah... good times.

Anywhooo, I did get a chance to check in here a couple of times (when I could open my eyes enough to see straight - computer screens and migraines don't mix well) and the other day I found a wonderful surprise!  A new blog friend has given me the Versatile Blogger Award! Her name is Susie and her blog is Little Susie Home Maker. Thank you Susie!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Pesto Chicken Stuffed Shells

This was almost our dinner for tonight. I found it on Pinterest and was waiting for just the right time to make it. Sadly, we had something come up and I won't be home much over the next couple of days. Thought I'd share the recipe, though. If I do get a chance to make it over the weekend, I'll let you all know how it turned out. (although, just looking at this photo leads me to believe it is lip-smacking-ly good!)

Monday, February 6, 2012

New "Follow" Tool !!

There will be a new recipe post on Thursday February 9th! Be sure to stop back and check it out!

Click HERE to check it out!

Hi everyone!

Happy Monday!  Just a quick post to let you all know about something that I discovered over at my bloggy friend Kim's place, Cheap Chic Home. ( I always learn so much from Kim!)

It's called "Linky Followers" and it's from the same site that provides the "Linky Tools" that so many bloggers use for the blog hops and memes they host.  It's a lot closer in feel to GFC and it even allows you to measure stats and categorize the blogs you follow.  (among other features) Looks like a great addition (or alternative for some folks) to all of the other following tools and social networking sites available out there in the blogosphere. You can even read blogs that you follow and comment from your Linky Follower dashboard. And it counts on that person's blog as a visit!  How cool is that?  Just click on the logo at the bottom of my widget (under my GFC widget) or the link I've included in this post. It's definitely worth a try, in my opinion!

Oh.... If you decide to go for it and want to follow me through Linky Followers, I wouldn't complain... LOL ;~)

I'm linking up with a brand new hop today! Wouldn't you know... it's for the very subject of this post! I have a feeling this new follow tool will be the preferred replacement for the soon to depart GFC on a lot of blogs. (just my opinion)

Click HERE to link up or to find out more about it!

For a really great explanation about this new following tool, check out a little tutorial by Vanessa and Heather at The Picket Fence. It's very helpful!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Salad Dressing Boot Camp

We eat a lot of salads around here. Green, pasta, vegetable and fruit salads are generally easy to prepare, will feed a large crowd and in many cases, they're the perfect multi-purpose compliment to a simple main course. In my book, a pasta-based main dish is never complete without a fresh green salad to help balance out the rich flavors of a spicy marinara or creamy alfredo or carbonara.

So, why buy bottled salad dressings when they're so easy (and economical) to make? Don't get me wrong. It's not like I don't ever buy the prepared dressings at the grocery stores, but when I'm having a gathering of friends or family where a salad is on the menu, I always make two or three of my homemade dressings.

Basic Vinaigrette
(this is about as simple as it gets. The most important thing to remember is to always use a 3 to 1 oil to vinegar ratio)
  • 3/4 C Light Olive or Safflower Oil
  • 1/4 C Vinegar (cider, red wine, white wine or white balsamic vinegar are fine)
  • 1 Tbls Dijon Mustard
  • 1 Tsp Kosher or Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Black Pepper
  • 1 Shallot, very finely minced
  • Pinch of Sugar
Whisk or blend (in a processor or blender) the vinegar, mustard, salt & pepper and sugar (if you use it). Slowly drizzle in the oil as you continue to whisk or blend.

Honey Balsamic Vinaigrette

Using the basic recipe, cut the dijon in half, replace the standard vinegar with a good balsamic and add 1 to 2 Tbls of your favorite honey. Trust me... You'll be amazed by what the honey does to this dressing.

Classic Caesar Dressing

Use the same amounts of oil and vinegar.
Use 1/2 of the mustard.
Add 1 Tsp Worcestershire sauce, 1 large clove crushed garlic and 1 teaspoon anchovy paste. (I hate anchovies, but trust me; don't leave it out, because the paste is completely dissolved in the dressing and it's not fishy at all. It really isn't the same without it)

If you want a creamy Caesar dressing, add 1 egg yolk or 1 Tbls of real mayonnaise if you're worried about raw eggs.

I add about 1/4 Cup of freshly grated Parmesan cheese and some crispy fried Pancetta (Italian bacon) or American bacon, to roughly torn romaine lettuce and croutons and then I toss it all together at the table.

You can make a myriad of dressings from this one basic recipe. You can replace cider vinegar with balsamic or herbed vinegar, or citrus juices like lemon, orange and grapefruit. Substituting flavored or infused oils can add a richness and depth of flavor when using spicy, peppery greens like arugula or endive.

Adding a sweetener like brown sugar, honey or agave nectar can change the entire flavor profile of the vinaigrette and make it a bit more kid friendly too. You only need a pinch or two.

Experiment with different ingredients to see what you and your family prefer. Some combinations might not always be a huge success, but the ingredients are inexpensive and the prep time is quick, so you won't be wasting your time or your hard earned money if you need to make up a new batch.
One of the things that I love most about a creamy Bleu Cheese or Thousand Island dressing, is that they make me feel like I'm indulging in a guilty pleasure. Let's face it. Even when we make the decision to eat healthier, we still want to feel like we aren't depriving ourselves of everything good in life. A tablespoon or even two, of a creamy, rich dressing on a big bowl full of veggies can be very satisfying and in the grand scheme of things, doesn't really add that many extra calories, when it accompanies a lean meat or fish main course.

The base ingredient in most creamy salad dressings is usually sour cream, mayonnaise or some type of oil. In some cases, all three of these might be in one dressing. This is another place where I would encourage you to experiment. There is a multitude of ingredients that you can add to this basic mixture and come up with a huge array of flavors and textures that are sure to make a plain green salad or a bowl of fresh fruit, a new and delicious experience. And if you must watch your sugar or fat intake, there are ways to get the same creamy rich flavors, without all of the things that you aren't supposed to eat.

Instead of sour cream, try plain yogurt or some low-fat cottage cheese that's been whizzed around in a food processor or blender 'til it's smooth.

Instead of a cup of full-fat mayonnaise, try a low fat or fat-free version or a couple of teaspoons of a light vegetable or nut oil.

While some dressing recipes call for heavy cream to thin them out a bit, try a tablespoon or two of low-fat buttermilk or evaporated milk. (no, not the sweetened condensed milk ~ save that for some homemade fudge!)

Adding buttermilk will give a subtle sweetness and a slightly tangy taste at the same time. It's one of those "best of both worlds" ingredients because it's rich in flavor, but a low-fat version adds far fewer calories. Evaporated milk tends to have a less than stellar reputation and it really shouldn't. It's quite low in fat and it doesn't add any funky flavors of its own. It's also great in creamed soups, but that's another post for another day.

Mary's Thousand Island/Russian Dressing 

I basically begged for this recipe when a much loved local steakhouse was closing its doors after over 40 years of being in business. ( If it wasn't totally wrong on every level, I could probably eat this stuff with a spoon. lol) The chef was kind enough to give it to me and since the restaurant is now closed and no longer serving it, I guess I kind of consider it my own!
  • 1&1/2 C Mayonnaise
  • 3/4 C Heinz Chili Sauce
  • 3 Tbls Green Bell Pepper, finely minced
  • 3 Tbls Yellow Onion, finely minced
  • Kosher or Sea Salt, to taste
Process the onion and green pepper in a blender or food processor. Strain off all but a couple of tablespoons of the liquid that's exuded. It adds quite a bit to the flavor of the finished dressing. If you don't have a blender or processor, you'll need to mince the onion and pepper as finely as you possibly can, because you want them to be almost a pureed consistency. As odd as it might seem, this dressing really won't taste the same if they're too chunky. Mix all the ingredients in a small bowl until well combined, then cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. The longer you refrigerate this, the better it gets!

Mary's Garlic Blue Cheese Dressing
  • 1 C Mayonnaise
  • 1 C Sour Cream
  • 8-10 oz Blue Cheese, crumbled and divided
  • 1/4 of a Small Onion, grated with juices
  • 1 Small Clove Garlic, crushed
  • 1 Tsp White Wine vinegar
  • 1 Tsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 Tsp Brown Sugar
  • Kosher or Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
Vigorously whisk all ingredients, except 1/2 of the bleu cheese in a small bowl (or you can use a processor or blender) until smooth and creamy. You can add a bit of milk or cream to thin it out a little if you prefer. Gently stir in the other 1/2 of the bleu cheese, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.

For a twist on flavor, you can use the "base" ingredients and just change up some of the others a bit to make:

Creamy Cheddar and Bacon Dressing

Keeping all of the other ingredients the same, eliminate the Garlic, substitute 1 C Sharp Cheddar Cheese for the Blue cheese and add 1/4 C cooked, chopped Bacon.


Savory Ranch Dressing

Replace 1/2 of the Sour Cream with Buttermilk.
Eliminate the Cheese and Garlic.
Substitute your favorite Hot Sauce for the Worcestershire
Add chopped fresh or dried herbs.
(I use Chives, Thyme, Basil, Oregano and Marjoram)


Sweet Buttermilk Herb Dressing

Recipe HERE

I have tons of salad dressing recipes and I'm happy to oblige any requests, but with the basics that I gave in the recipes above, you should be able to take the ball and run with it. (notice the slight super bowl reference? LOL)  Enjoy!

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