Fish in a Flash

I’ve written this recipe a few times, but wanted to update it a bit for everyone.  This is one of the easiest and fastest three-course meal recipes I’ve ever written and I love that it’s also incredibly versatile.  The basic premise is the same but the specific ingredients can be adjusted, depending on your preference and what you have available.  I hope you love this recipe as much as me!fishinaflash

  • I call this recipe “Fish in a Flash” because you’re only going to need 15 minutes to make this three-course meal for your family.  It’s full of flavor, cost-effective, and adjustable… what more could you want in a recipe?

Ingredients:

  • Fish (Feel free to use whatever fish is on sale or what you happen to have in your freezer)  In this case, I used two tilapia fillets, but I’ve made this dish with flounder, haddock, or any other light, flaky fish.  I haven’t used salmon, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t!
  • Crackers (Ritz crackers, Cheese crackers, club crackers, saltines, etc) crushed
  • Salt, Pepper, and any favorite seasoning (I like Paprika)
  • White wine (use whatever you have on hand or you can substitute water)
  • Broccoli flowerettes (I used a half bag of Broccoli-Wokly from the local grocer)
  • Bag of microwave brown rice (or your favorite starch)

Directions:

  • Spray a microwavable dish with cooking spray and arrange your fish fillets on dish.
  • In a small bowl, crush the crackers and mix in your seasonings.  Sprinkle fish with seasoned cracker crumbs.
  • Using your thumb as a stopper, gently “thumb” wine over the crumbs to lightly wet them  to create a coating on the fish.  You can also spoon the wine (or water) over the fish.
  • Top fish with broccoli flowerettes – I did them in a decorative fashion for these photos, but I typically just add a layer of broccoli over the fish.
  • Wet a paper towel and lay on top of the broccoli – this will help to steam the veggies.
  • Pop your dish into the microwave and cook on high for 10-12 minutes, until the fish is flaky and well-cooked.
  • Remove the fish from the microwave and allow to sit for 2 minutes.
  • Cook the 90-second brown rice in the microwave.
  • Remove rice and divide onto individual plates.
  • Serve meal with brown rice on the plate, topped with fish and vegetables.

This has been a staple in our menu selection for most of my 28-years of marriage.  I’ve adjusted and altered the recipe to the point where this is the cleanest and most simple rendition.  The original recipe (from my first year of marriage) included a half stick of butter and lots of lemon juice… this version is much healthier and the flavors really seem to pop.

I hope you’ll try this recipe and see how your family likes our Fish in a Flash.  It might just become a favorite in your house too!

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White Roasted Stir Fry

Have you ever wanted to make dinner but you didn’t actually want to “make dinner”? That was my night tonight.  I had an idea to make a stir fry, using a bag of frozen shrimp that I had thawed during the day, but I had no desire to stand by the stovetop.  Enter the idea of a “roasted stir fry”.  While it was a bit of a gamble, I do think it paid off in the end when we sat down to dinner.  It was yummy!  The best part is that it can qualify as a Starter Recipe because it’s just so darn simple.  Check out the recipe for yourself!WhiteRoastedStirFry.jpg

Ingredients:

  • 1 bag frozen shrimp
  • 1 bag broccoli bites
  • grape tomatoes (sliced in half)
  • half onion, cut in half and sliced
  • a thumb of garlic (I used a tube, so it was about the size of my thumb… probably 1 clove, crushed)
  • teriyaki sauce (just a small pour)
  • white wine (a large splash)
  • Splash of cream (totally unnecessary but looked good)
  • 1 pkg 90-second brown rice

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven at 400 degrees and cover baking sheet with foil.
  2. Remove shells from shrimp and put raw shrimp in a bowl.  Toss in broccoli, grape tomatoes, onion, and garlic.
  3. Pour sauce over shrimp mixture and toss to combine.
  4. Pour shrimp mixture onto baking sheet and pop into oven.  Cook 20-25 minutes, until shrimp are cooked.
  5. If you decide you want to add the splash of cream, you can add it by removing baking sheet from oven, pour cream, and toss to blend before serving.
  6. Cook brown rice packet as directed.
  7. Serve with shrimp mixture over brown rice.

To finish off our dinner, I like to add bread when I make dinner… I typically have sliced bread in the freezer, so I grab a few pieces, spray it with Pam and season with garlic salt. Feel free to play with the ingredients and create something that fits into your family’s favorites… add veggies, serve on noodles, change out some of the sauce flavors… the sky’s the limit when it comes to making dinners that everyone will like!  Enjoy…

Recipe: Asian Wine’d Salmon ‘n Veggies

Here’s a basic recipe that I used last night for dinner.  It’s a very classic “Using the Force” sort of recipe, where I started with a single ingredient for dinner and then started pulling things from the fridge/cabinet, blending them until the sauce tasted the way I wanted.  I actually went to a few recipe sites, but wasn’t finding the sort of ingredient list I could pull together, so I “Used The Force”.  If this term is new to you, please check out my explanation at the very beginning of this blog (almost <gasp> two years ago).

I started out with two packets of Salmon for our dinner.  Seriously, these are 4-oz packets of frozen salmon that I picked up on a “super deal” at the local grocery store… awesome for a quick meal and easy to add/subtract as your guest count changes.  I  let the salmon thaw in the fridge during the day so it was easier to handle when dinner time rolled around.  NOTE: It might have thawed faster if I had taken it out of the packaging, but I didn’t want to worry about the mess.

Looking in my fridge, I found four small Yukon Gold Potatoes and a head of broccoli.  For two of us. this seemed like the perfect amount to roast for dinner, as long as the potato pieces were thin enough and the broccoli was sliced into bite-sized pieces.  Again, these are items that you could easily increase to serve more people if necessary.  NOTE: If you end up doubling this recipe, I would separate the vegetables from the salmon and roast them in different pans so that you can control the cooking times of each as needed.  You can also substitute your favorite vegetables for this dish… just be aware of size and cooking times of whatever you choose.AsianWine'dSalmon&Veggies

Once I had my main ingredients picked, I needed to create a sauce…and here’s where The Force came into play.  All-in-all, I used the following ingredients:  Hoisin sauce, dijon mustard, white wine (I used a Chardonnay I had in the fridge), balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, and honey.  Using a medium bowl, I spooned some hoisin (asian BBQ sauce) into the bowl, poured in some wine. and squirted in some dijon mustard.  These were not equal measures, but I went light on everything so I could add more if needed.  I like using hoisin because it’s got a bit of a kick and it thickens up things nicely.  I then added a few splashes of balsamic vinegar, a generous portion of soy sauce, and sweetened everything up with a bit of honey.  After whisking everything together, I tasted the result and added another bit of honey so the sauce didn’t have too much bite.

I chose to make this recipe on one sheet pan, so I covered a baking sheet with foil and sprayed it with cooking spray so the sweet/sticky sauce wouldn’t be difficult to handle after cooking.  I sliced each potato in half, length-wise, and sliced each half into very thin half-rounds that would cook fairly quickly before layering them on the baking sheet.  I then cut the broccoli into thin slivers, cutting small stalks in half as needed, and layered them on top of the potato thins.  I decided to top the veggies with a bit of sauce before adding the salmon because I wanted to make sure I got most of the veggies touched with the sauce… not necessarily coated, but a little bit would go a long way with this flavor.

Once I had spooned sauce on the veggies, I laid the salmon fillets on top and spooned sauce over them as well, using up all the sauce.  It smelled rich and flavorful, even as it hit the oven, which was my intent… I love when the house smells like something delicious when we’re getting ready for dinner!

Dinner cooked for 30 minutes in a 375-degree preheated oven and was really tasty.  The potato thins were cooked, the broccoli was crisp-tender, and the salmon was delicious. I reheated rolls to have along side this meal, but it really wasn’t necessary.  Just follow your instincts and see what your family prefers.

Remember, this is a recipe that you can change up in a million ways to suit your family’s individual tastes so have fun with it.  We thought it was a hit!

Recipe: Chardonnay Broccoli Buds

Hey, James River Cellars’ Wine Club Members!  Are you looking for an interesting recipe that uses the Stainless-Steel Chardonnay that you got at tonight’s release party?  You’re in luck… I’ve got just the thing… Chardonnay Broccoli Buds.  It’s a recipe that can be either an appetizer or side dish (cold OR roasted).  YUM!

ChardonnayBroccoliBuds

I first had this recipe as a child, during Sunday picnics at summer camp with relatives and friends.  I had never had broccoli as a cold appetizer before and it was delicious… crisp, tangy, and flavorful.  I have made this recipe many times throughout my adulthood but it always seemed a bit too oily, so I decided to remake it.

Since I used an actual recipe to start, it’s only fair that I give you the new recipe as one with specific ingredients (but please realize that I’ll always alter things slightly when I remake a recipe, so even these are guidelines).

Start by mixing 1/2 cup cider vinegar, 1/2 cup oil (I used canola oil), 1/2 cup James River Cellars’ Chardonnay, 1/2 Tablespoon sugar, 1/2 Tablespoon dried dill, 1/3 Tablespoon accent, 3/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, and 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt together in a large resealable bowl or resealable plastic bag.  Add 1 1/2 to 2 bags fresh broccoli florets and toss well.  Allow broccoli to marinate for 24-48 hours, re-tossing in the dressing occasionally.  Once the vinaigrette has thoroughly flavored the broccoli, they can be served cold (drained of any access vinaigrette) as seen in the left photo OR drained and roasted in a 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes as seen in the right photo.

I hope you and your family enjoy this side dish/appetizer as much as I always do… it reminds me of the magical summers I spent in PA as a child and it makes me happy.  I hope it becomes a recipe that makes you happy as well!

Enjoy… from my childhood and family to yours!

Crock Pot Recipe: Beef and Broccoli

This basic recipe popped up on my Facebook feed one day and I knew that I just had to play with it… it seemed a crime (to me) not to see any red wine listed for this dish!  Thankfully, this was a fairly simple dish to use for my family… they love any sort of meat and vegetable dinner.

Crockpot Beef and Broccoli

I gathered my ingredients and went to work assembling everything before I left for work in the morning.  I used a large package of thin cut beef strips that I’d picked up on sale at the local grocery store a few weeks prior and popped the frozen meat into the bottom of my crockpot.  I then mixed 1 cup James River Rad Red Wine (you can use any red wine that you like to drink in this recipe – if you’d drink it in your glass, it’s perfectly fine to use for cooking), 1 packet of G.Washington Rich Brown Seasoning, 1/4 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup honey, 2 Tablespoons of sesame oil, minced garlic to taste (I use the pre-minced packages, but feel free to add or subtract as you like) and turned on my crockpot to cook on low for 6-8 hours.

When I got home from work that afternoon, the house smelled fabulous.  All the sweet, salty, garlic-y smells combined to make my mouth water as soon as I walked in the house.  I could hardly wait for the guys to get home!  I set about making up some rolls to go with dinner and waited for them to be ready to eat.

There wasn’t much I had to do to complete this meal.  I had purchased a bag of broccoli at the store, so I pierced the bag and popped it into the microwave for 4-5 minutes to steam the broccoli.  As soon as the broccoli was done, I swapped the bag of veggies for a bag of microwaveable brown rice that would cook in 90 seconds and turned the microwave back on.  Now for the sauce…

To complete this meal, I needed to turn the cooking liquid for the beef into a delicious sauce… so I removed it from the crockpot, saving 2 cups of the broth in a small bowl, and added 2 tablespoons of cornstarch to thicken the broth.  I whisked the cornstarch into the broth until there were NO lumps and then stirred it back into the crockpot of beef.  I then added the broccoli and stirred everything together before serving it over the brown rice.

This was simple… it was easy… and it was so VERY tasty.

Enjoy making this recipe your own – it’s worth it!

Recipe: Another Chicken Stir-Fry

Thought I’d share a quick post on tonight’s dinner…

If you read this blog at all, you’ve already been introduced to my way of cooking…. Using “The Force”. This version of cooking was in full swing during the creation of tonight’s dinner.

I started with chicken thighs, barely defrosted, so they were easy to slice. I opened a bottle of 2008 Saude Creek apple wine, made by James River Cellars, and created a sauce using hoisin, wine, garlic, ginger, lemongrass, and flour. After trimming a bag of broccoli flowerettes into bite-size pieces, I was ready to rock and roll.

Browning the chicken took the most effort… but getting them nicely toasted was important and worth the extra time. I sautéed them in two batches and removed them from the pan once done. After that, it was a matter of throwing things into the hot pan just long enough to get things to gel.

Broccoli went into the skillet next, but after a few minutes, everything else went into the pool. A fully blended sauce and cooked chicken mixed well with the broccoli, although I did add a little more wine when the sauce looked too thick. Cooking the 90-second brown rice and plating the meal were the final steps to this delicious and simple dinner.

Try this with your favorite wine. You might find a new family favorite along the way!

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Recipe: Ali’s Rock Star Tilapia

This recipe uses white wine… I typically use a Vidal Blanc or some sort of off-dry white wine.  James River Cellars makes a Chardonel that I love to pair with Tilapia.  Chardonel is a hybrid grape (made from Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc) that was created at Cornell University in 1953.  You could probably use a Chenin Blanc or a favorite Chardonnay instead?

Start with tilapia fillets – I use as many as I need to feed whomever is going to be there for dinner.  Top the fillets with salt, pepper, and paprika.  You can even use Old Bay…. use whatever spice makes your family happy.  Crush Ritz crackers over each fillet – it really only takes two crackers per fillet, but feel free to use more if you want more of a topping.  Next, thumb some of the wine over the fillet – you’re going for a ‘wetting’ of the fillets, not a drowning, so don’t go crazy.

I now have two options.  Option one is to pop the fillets into the microwave and cook on high for 7-8 minutes, or until the fillets are cooked.  Option two is to top the fillets with small broccoli florets, cover with a damp paper towel and cook on high for 10-12 minutes.  Make sure the fillets are cooked before serving.

I like to serve this with microwaveable brown rice (90 seconds to done)… that way, you’ve just finished making a three-course meal in under 15 minutes and you look like a Rock Star!  (Hence the name, Rock Star Tilapia)

I know there are those out there who are cringing at the thought of cooking fish in the microwave, but honestly, I’m lousy at making fish any other way.  Baking, broiling, grilling are all just beyond me… but I can be a Rock Star with my microwave!