Tag Archives: easy

Simple Baked Tilapia, Asparagus and Potatoes

21 May

Today’s recipe is very simple, the kind of food that I crave when I crave a home-cooked meal.  There’s something about eating out at restaurants that gets tiring.  It’s fun to try new things, but constantly eating rich and fancy and indulgent meals gets old quickly for me.  Sometimes I just want something simple.  And somehow this meal satisfies my craving for a simple, square meal.

So here’s the disclaimer: this isn’t anything wild and crazy and innovative, it’s just simple and satisfying and good (and healthy).  This is the sort of thing we eat on weeknights when we’re not feeling adventurous, so feel free just to use this as inspiration, rather than a hard-and-fast recipe.

I tend to use a lot of tilapia when I cook fish, mainly because I usually buy a big bag of the individually wrapped frozen fillets and keep them in the freezer for a quick and easy weeknight meal.  But feel free to substitute any other white fish you like (or even salmon) – you will just need to adjust the baking time depending on the thickness of the fish.


Simple Baked Tilapia with Asparagus and Baby Potatoes

Yield: 2 servings; Time: 15 min. active, 15 min. inactive

  • 1 bundle asparagus, ends trimmed off
  • 3/4 lb. baby potatoes
  • 2 tilapia filets (or other white fish)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried (or 1 teaspoon fresh) thyme
  • Fresh basil (optional)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and diced (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Meanwhile, place the potatoes in a pot and fill with enough water to cover, plus a teaspoon or two of salt.  Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for ~7  minutes, depending on size.  The goal is to par-boil them, not cook them all the way (and then finish the cooking in the oven).

Coat a baking dish with a layer of olive oil or cooking spray.  Place the tilapia filets in the dish and season with salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, thyme, lemon juice, half the garlic and half the lemon zest (I seasoned one side and then flipped them over a few times to make sure they were well coated).

Remove half-cooked potatoes from the boiling water, allow to cool briefly, then cut into halves or quarters.  Toss potatoes and asparagus with a tablespoon or so of olive oil (just enough to coat), salt, pepper and remainder of minced garlic and lemon zest.  Place on a baking sheet.

Place the tilapia and potatoes/asparagus in the oven and roast for about 15 minutes (the fish will take 15-17 min depending on the thickness – it’s done when it flakes easily with a fork and is opaque all the way through; the potatoes/asparagus will take 13-15 minutes).

Serve immediately with fresh basil and/or diced tomato.  Make sure to pour any lemony liquid from the fish baking dish over top!

Tilapia with Avocado-Pineapple Salsa and Quinoa

6 Jan

Today I am sharing a recipe for tilapia with avocado-pineapple salsa and my adventures cooking quinoa.  Actually, it wasn’t much of an adventure, just followed the package directions, but it was my first time cooking it at home (and I will definitely be making it again!).  Trying new whole grains was one of my New Year’s resolutions  so I’m glad to have already checked one thing off my list.  

I want to share this recipe with you because it also demonstrates a very easy way to cook fish, which has been a requested topic on the blog.  Sometimes cooking fish can be intimidating, but it shouldn’t be.  Eating more fish was another one of my resolutions, and finding simple and flavorful ways to prepare it helps a lot. 

In this recipe the fish is roasted under the broiler – in and out in less than 10 minutes.  And it doesn’t even need to be flipped, so it couldn’t be easier.  I used tilapia and roasted it for about 7 minutes, which was the perfect amount of time to cook it through and get a bit of caramelization on top.  Then, I topped it with an avocado-pineapple salsa.  This is one of my go-to ways to prepare fish, and you can make endless variations.  You can use pineapple, mango, peach, nectarine, avocado, tomato or any combination of those.  Then, add lime juice, cilantro, red onion, jalapeno and some salt and pepper.  Pineapple-avocado was delicious, but tomato-nectarine is another one of my favorites. 

Tilapia with Avocado-Pineapple Salsa   adapted from Everyday Food Magazine

Time: 20 min, Yield: 2 servings

  • 1 avocado, diced (**see below for how to select, store and easily dice avocados!)
  • 1 cup pineapple , finely diced (I used canned pineapple chunks, since I didn’t want to buy a whole fresh one and it turned out great still)
  • 1 jalapeno, minced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
  • juice of 1 lime
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tilapia fillets (original recipe calls for halibut, but frozen tilapia was on sale – what can I say!?)
  • 1 cup quinoa, optional side
  • 2 cups fresh baby spinach, optional side

Preheat broiler with rack in upper third of oven.  In a medium bowl, combine the avocado, pineapple, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, lime juice and salt and pepper to taste.

Coat a rimmed baking sheet with foil (optional, but it makes clean up easy!) and coat with cooking spray (try to spray only the portion of the baking sheet which will be covered with the fish – otherwise it may burn or smoke).  Season fish on both sides with salt and pepper and place on the baking sheet.

Broil the fish until opaque throughout, about 6-7 minutes, depending on thickness.  It will flake easily with a fork when ready – don’t over cook it!

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to the package directions.  Make sure to season with salt and optionally, stir in a small pat of butter at the end ;-).  Towards the end of the cooking, stir in the baby spinach to wilt.

Top the fish with the salsa and serve with a side of spinachy quinoa for a healthy, yet super satisfying, dinner!

** How to Buy, Store and Dice Avocados **

Buying & Storing: A ripe avocado gives when gently pressed, but is not mushy (mushy=on its way to rotten).  Buy them ripe if you plan to use them right away, because unripe avocados will take a few days to ripen (to speed it up you can place them in a closed brown paper bag with a banana or apple – the fruits give off ethylene gas which helps speed ripening).  Once ripe, store in the fridge until using.

Dicing: First, slice the avocado lengthwise, all the way around, then twist the halves and pull apart.  To remove the pit, give it a good whack with the blade of a knife, and twist it out.

Then, slice or dice the avocado while still in the skin:

Then scoop out the slices or dices with a spoon:

Day 4: Tomato Mozzarella Skewers

17 Dec

It’s Day 4 of my 12 Day of Christmas, and the next 3 days are going to be all about simple and easy appetizers for your holiday parties. 

First up, tomato mozzarella skewers.  This is so easy and adaptable that it’s not really even a “recipe”.   I love these little guys because 1) they taste fresh and delicious 2) they look impressive but are so easy and 3) they’re Christmas colors!

Tomato and Mozzarella Skewers

Time: 1020 minutes to assemble, Yield: as many as you want!

All you need is:

  • Small mozzarella balls (bocconcini) – buy them from the olive/cheese bar area of your grocery store.  Mine were already marinated which was a huge help!  If you can’t find them premarinated, toss them with some olive oil, red pepper flakes, and fresh or dried herbs (basil, parsley, oregano – whatever you have on hand)
  • Cherry/grape tomatoes
  • Fresh basil or oregano leaves – I would absolutely recommend basil, but for some reason my grocery store was out of it, so I used a little fresh oregano – use what you can find!

In the past I’ve just used tomatoes, mozzarella and basil, but since I had them on hand I also added some:

  • Mini pepperoni – I had these on hand from a different recipe and I thought they would make the perfect addition – right color and right size.  They are super cute if you can find them – I think they are Hormel brand? And they were with all the other pre-packaged pepperoni
  • Green olives  – again, I had these on hand, and they were the right color, so I threw a few on

Now here’s the fun part: assembling.  For the mozzarella and tomatoes I left some whole and cut some in half, just to add variation.  I cut the olives in half since they were the very large kind, but if you have smaller ones you probably don’t need to cut them.

Then I amused myself trying to make no two the same.  The simple things in life.

I recommend giving them a drizzle of olive oil before serving.  I added a little more olive oil back to the container the mozzarella was marinated in – which gave me a nice herbed oil to drizzle on top. 

So simple, so easy, and so beautiful! 

Matt couldn’t resist.

Quick and Easy Creamed Spinach

12 Dec

Creamed spinach to me is a special steakhouse treat.  I’ve always kind of assumed its difficult to make or something, but as it turns out, it’s ridiculously simple!  I think this will be my new go-to way of preparing spinach for a quick, weeknight side dish.   It’s obviously not as healthy as simply sautéed or steamed spinach, but compared to how creamy and cheesy I imagined creamed spinach has to be, it is actually not bad at all! 

I made this for my husband’s birthday, as an accompaniment to meatloaf and a potato gratin.   The three together were a perfect combination.  Oh and yes, he requested meatloaf for his birthday dinner, of all things.  And he happens to love spinach, even as a kid!  Spinach even makes it in his top 3 favorite vegetables (yes, these are the things we talk about).  After making this easy creamed spinach, it might be moving up on my list too.  Here’s the recipe (adapted from one found in Food Network Magazine):

Quick and Easy Creamed Spinach 

Serves: 2, Time: <10 minutes

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 10-ounce box frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed very dry
  • scant 2 teaspoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 cup stock or broth (I used turkey stock since I had it in the freezer, but any type works)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or up to 1/2 cup – eyeball it)
  • Salt and pepper, cayenne pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.

Add the minced garlic and saute for a minute or two (taking care not to burn it).

Add the thawed and drained spinach and toss to warm through.

Stir in flour, Worcestershire sauce, broth, sour cream, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper (just a dash) and nutmeg (just a small sprinkle).  Simmer for about 5 minutes until its slightly thickened and creamy.  Enjoy!