Healthy meal prepping – Tilapia style!

Meal prepping is all the talk now because it helps you succeed in making healthy choices. So, get yourself a large pack of Tilapia and a bunch of veggies, and you’ll be set for the week. Here’s how I did it:

Ingredients:

  • 10-12 pieces of Tilapia – a large package sold at the large discount stores works well
  • 6 Roma tomatoes, cut in half
  • 12 -15 or so spears of asparagus, trimmed to remove the thick bottom half
  • 10 – 15 Brussels sprouts, halved and with outer layer peeled off
  • 1 small onion, cut into 6-8 wedges
  • 20 – 25 baby carrots
  • 1 head of broccoli, trimmed into florets
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sprinkling of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to your liking

To make the fish:

  • Lay out the fish on two large dinner plates, so they don’t overlap
  • Sprinkle the top lightly with cayenne pepper and black pepper
  • Add a little salt if you like, but I leave it out

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  • Preheat 2 large skillets at medium-high (7 out of 10) for about a minute
  • Split 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, putting about 1/2 Tbsp in each hot skillet
  • Let warm for another minute

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  • Tilt the pan around a bit to get the olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan as completely as possible
  • Place the Tilapia, seasoned side down, filling each pan
    • Note – Don’t crowd the fish in the pan. I put 3 – 4 pieces in each pan, depending on size. I saved some fish for a second round of cooking. Don’t worry, it cooks fast!
  • Let cook for 3 minutes on the first side
    • Note, if you have a very small, thin piece, use your good judgement. It may need to cook less than the thicker pieces.

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  • Flip each piece of fish. Be careful to get the full piece of fish under your spatula. Tilapia is very flaky and will break apart when turning if you’re not careful. Don’t worry if it breaks though, it’s still delicious!

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  • Turn down the stove to about a 6 out of 10.
  • Cook on the second side for two minutes.
  • Remove from pan.
    • Note: If you need to cook an extra round of fish, add some more olive oil to one pan and repeat the process above, only cooking for two minutes on the first side this time around – your pan is REALLY hot at this point, and your fish will cook quicker!
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For the veggies:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F
  • Place all veggies on a large cookie sheet
  • Pour 1 – 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil over the top of the veggies
  • Sprinkle with a very healthy dose of fresh-ground black pepper
  • Sprinkle with salt if you’d like, but I leave it out

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  • Bake for 25 minutes, then remove from oven

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Store leftovers in the fridge and serve for dinner a couple of nights, or split into several containers for lunches throughout the week. Pair with healthy side choices, such as rice (I like the 90-second microwavable kind), fruits and veggies for a healthy-choice lunch!

Tilapia with corn salsa and mushrooms

Looking for those light recipes to kick off your healthy promises for 2017? Look no further than Tilapia – one of the white fish that’s always light and delicious!

You can beef up this dish a bit by adding potatoes or rice, but I had enough with the fish and veggies.

For the fish:

  • Lay your fish on a plate and sprinkle a small amount of cayenne pepper and black pepper on top

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  • Put about 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil in a skillet and heat it on medium-high for about 30 seconds

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  • Add Tilapia – seasoned side down – to the skillet and cook on medium to medium high (6-7 out of 10) for 3 minutes. You’ll see the pinky color of the fish start to turn white.

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  • Turn the fish with a spatula – be careful, this is a delicate fish, so really get that spatula under the piece of fish to support it. But, the worst thing that will happen is you’ll have more, smaller pieces of fish, LOL.
  • Cook for 2 – 3 minutes more on the second side – if you smell burning or see too much char around the edges, turn the heat off and move the skillet off the heat. Your finished product should look like this.

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For the mushrooms:

  • Put 1 – 1 1/2 tsp. olive oil in a skillet and warm it on medium high for about 30 seconds
  • Slice about 10 mushrooms, or whatever amount you’d like to about 1/8″ thick
  • Add the mushroom slices to the skillet and cook for 5 – 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times
  • You should see the color and size change, and then you’re done:

For the relish:

  • Anything fresh works well, but I used a small amount each:
    • Jalapeno – maybe 1/4 of a jalapeno
    • Sweet onion – about 1/8 of a medium-sized onion
    • Sweet corn – about 1/8 cup
    • Grape tomatoes – about 5, diced
    • Clementine – 1/2 – 1 diced
    • Lemon juice – about 2 tsp, add more or less to taste
    • Dried dill weed – a very light sprinkle

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Enjoy, and may all of your resolutions come true!

Lettuce-wrapped leftovers

A healthy way to serve leftovers – yes please! These lettuce wraps are the perfect solution to getting rid of those leftovers that you don’t want to throw away, but aren’t enough to make a meal of… And, I bought the perfectly-trimmed and washed lettuce right from the grocery store. You can’t miss ’em – they call them “Lettuce Wraps.” You’ll want a leafier, less-rigid lettuce – romaine isn’t ideal for wrapping.

I used some leftover Tilapia and some leftover chicken thighs for these. I just cut both up into bite-size pieces and heated them up a little. I also cut carrots, zucchini, cucumbers, and onions into matchstick-size pieces. That’s what I used, because that’s what I had on hand, but you can build your wraps with whatever you have in the fridge. Leftover steak, tuna fish, or rotisserie chicken would also be really good!

To add tons of flavor, I also created a salsa with some leftover corn, about half a jalapeno, a handful of grape tomatoes, finely diced dill pickle, and a little fresh parsley – yep, all leftovers! A spicy sauce to top it off was yummy – mix these together:

  • 2 Tbsp of store-bought sesame-garlic sauce
  • 1 Tbsp honey
  • 1/2 Tbsp Sriracha
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

I put all of the components on a pretty platter and sat at the kitchen island with my hubby while we ate with our hands – perfection!

 

Baked salmon with cucumber dill sauce

Or, if you’re like me, cucumber dill sauce with a side of salmon… and Riesling…

In the interest of full disclosure, I found this salmon recipe on The Pioneer Woman’s website (LOVE HER!!!!!) at http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/pams-day-of-deliciousness/, and the sauce on Pinterest (LOVE THEM TOO!!!), at https://www.pinterest.com/pin/248190629443524119/. I’ve made the fish lots of times, and it’s always a crowd pleaser, but the sauce took it to a whole other level. Here’s how to do it!

Salmon:

  • Buy the very large salmon filet from your grocery store or discount club store. This size is usually around $18 – $25, depending on actual weight and market price. You will easily get 6 portions from it though, so not a bad price!

Important: I prefer to buy it without skin, but if your salmon has the skin on it, the easiest thing to do is to ask the butcher to skin it for you. You can also take the skin off yourself with a sharp knife – just get a corner started with the knife and the skin should pull off pretty easily (if the fish starts to tear, take your time and cut it a little more to get it going again).

  • Put the salmon on a cookie sheet then pour 1 Tbsp olive oil over the top, using your hands to make sure to coat the entire top side; then do the same to the bottom side.
  • Flip the filet back over so the top is facing up (the non-flat side), then sprinkle liberally with pepper and more modestly with salt (depending on your tastes).
  • Put a few slices of lemon along the top, if you’d like.
  • Put the cookie sheet into a COLD oven – that’s right – COLD!
  • Turn the oven to 425 degrees F and cook for 28 – 31 minutes (I usually go with 28, but my piece of fish was especially thick tonight, so I put it in for a few minutes longer).

You can test for doneness by cutting into the thickest part of the fish and looking at the inside. You should not see any shiny parts, and the middle should not be a darker color than the top and bottom. If the middle is darker, it’s not done.

  • The fish cooks through perfectly as the oven heats, and finishes with the remaining time. I’m NOT kidding – it’s perfect EVERY time!

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  • Pull the cookie sheet out of the oven, loosen the underside with a spatula and serve on a platter for a beautiful presentation, or use a spatula to just cut a chunk off of the cookie sheet – we keep it casual when it’s just family on Everyday Kitchen Play!
  • Serve with a lemon wedge to squeeze on just before eating.

Cucumber-dill sauce:

  • One single-serving container of non-fat plain Greek yogurt – buy the good stuff, as it’s the biggest ingredient in this sauce.
  • Add 3 Tbsp mayonnaise (I used the high-test stuff, but you can go low fat if you’d like)
  • Add one cucumber, chopped very small, seeds removed.

To remove the seeds, cut the cucumber in half across the middle, then cut each half lengthwise. You should have 4 pieces, each showing seeds. Just take a spoon and slide it under the seeds and run it along the whole length of the cucumber pieces – so easy! For the easiest process, put the fat end of each slice against  your cutting board, then hold firmly as you slide the spoon under the seeds and toward the cutting board.

  • Chop a very small portion of sweet onion finely – enough to fill a Tbsp measuring spoon – then add to the mixture.
  • Add 1 tsp dried dill weed.
  • Add one garlic clove minced, or grated with your zester.
  • Add 1/2 tsp sugar – the white granulated stuff is good for this.
  • Add freshly ground black pepper to taste – I was pretty generous with the pepper.
  • Let sit in the fridge while you cook the fish.

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Top the fish with the sauce and enjoy! I served it with roasted potatoes and steamed broccoli.

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Fish tacos

Fish taco seasoning is in your store, right alongside the regular taco seasoning? Life changing!

Tired of the same old, same old when it comes to taco night? Look no further – spicy catfish tacos will help you put a new spin on an old favorite.

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet fish taco seasoning
  • 3 catfish fillets (about 1.5 lbs.)
  • 1-2 Tbsp. olive oil

Fixins (optional):

  • Romaine lettuce, sliced thin
  • Frozen corn, thawed but not hot
  • Sliced black olives
  • 1/4 sweet onion, chopped
  • Taco sauce, whatever heat you like
  • 1 small container plain Greek yogurt
  • Shredded taco cheese
  • Jalapeno slices (the jarred ones are fine!)
  • Soft or hard taco shells

Directions:

  • Slice each catfish fillet into 3 or 4 strips, lengthwise, then cut each strip in half crosswise

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  • Marinate fish in a gallon-size plastic zipper bag, per fish taco seasoning package directions – 2 Tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup water, and 5 minutes to marinate was all mine called for (just leave it on the counter – it’ll be fine for 5 minutes)

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  • Heat a large skillet on medium high (7 out 0f 10) for about a minute
  • Add fish to skillet and cook for 4 minutes on the first side

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  • Reduce heat to medium, flip each piece of fish and cook for 4 more minutes (if needed, cook thicker pieces for a minute more – the inside should be white and opaque, and not shiny)

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  • Take fish out of pan and pair with fixins, either in a salad or in a taco shell

Enjoy!