Parmesan Crusted Tilapia

Nate caught me looking rather tired this afternoon and said, “I think there’s one frozen pizza left in the freezer, if you want me to make that for dinner.”

I thought for a second and realized that for the first time in weeks, I wanted a REAL meal. As in a meal that consists of a protein, veggie, and a starch. I wanted fish!

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I smiled and said, “You know what? I think I’m going to make us something good for supper.”

And I can’t be too sure (especially since I’m sure he’d deny it), but I’m fairly certain that Nate giggled in pure excitement.

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This tilapia recipe is so unbelievably easy to make, but it tastes indulgent. It’s rich, and flaky, and pregnant woman approved. 😉 Nate absolutely loved it too!

YAY for having a real meal (other than pizza) tonight. 🙂

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Parmesan Crusted Tilapia
(based on this recipe)

1 lb tilapia fillets
1/4 cup crushed Ritz cracker (I used Late July crackers, because they’re a healthier version)
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 cup milk
1 1/2 Tablespoons melted butter

Directions:

1. Thaw and wash tilapia fillets if frozen. Pat dry on paper towels.
2. Combine crumbs, parmesan, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder on a plate, mixing well.
3. Pour milk into a shallow bowl.
4. Dip each fillet in the milk and then dredge in the parmesan mixture patting it all over to coat. (If there are extra crumbs, pour over top of fish).
5. Drizzle with melted butter.
6. Bake at 425ºF for about 20 minutes or until they easily flake with a fork and edges are browning (you can sprinkle some more parmesan on top if desired).

Enjoy!!! 🙂

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French Toast, Pasta, and Chicken Sausage

I woke up to a very cold, rainy day that required the heat to be turned on again. Nate and I had sworn we wouldn’t turn it back on; but once the house temps drop down to 57 degrees, a bit of heat is needed to get rid of the chill. “Oh, Spring, where have you gone?”

Nate suggested that we go out for breakfast at his favorite local diner, and I responded by telling him that I had cleaning to do before piano lessons.

He replied with two very convincing answers:
#1 – “I’ll help you clean, when we get back.”
and
#2 – “They serve French Toast, pancakes, and waffles!”

How’s a pregnant girl to argue with that? Help cleaning (which he usually does anyway) AND carbs smothered in syrup? Start the car and let’s get going!

I chose the French toast, because I figured that it would have some protein from the eggs. Normally when I go out for breakfast, I’m all about veggie omelets, but I couldn’t imagine eating an egg right now. So French toast was the next best thing… and it was absolute perfection (even if my picture didn’t come out that great). 😉

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I’m very happy to report, however, that I can finally eat cereal with substance again! For weeks now, I’ve been eating toast or bland cereals (like rice krispies or corn flakes) for breakfast, because that’s all I could stomach. But yesterday, I woke up and realized that frosted mini wheats actually sounded really good. So I was able to eat a bowl, filled up with lots of milk; and I’m sure my colon did a happy dance, when it realized I was beginning my day with some fiber.

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I was also able to enjoy some leftover American chop suey for dinner, which had a little bit of hamburg in it. So it was nice to get the protein and iron!

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The only other meat I’ve had in the past week was an all-natural, MSG-free, nitrate-free chicken ‘sausage’… served with corn on the cob, of course. I actually really enjoyed it at the time, but I don’t think I’d want a chicken sausage again anytime soon. But still, it was progress.

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There is a whole chicken in my fridge, however, since I had hoped I’d be able to cook it up and put some chicken in a wrap. But the thought of smelling chicken in my kitchen makes me gag, so I called my mom today and asked her if she wanted a chicken. 🙂 Hey, at least I’m giving it away this time instead of tossing it! So that’s progress too!!

I think my focus this week is to ‘up’ my veggie intake and to try eating some greens, if I can. We’ll see how it goes!

I’m Preggo and I Know It!

On Thursday, I’ll be 11 weeks pregnant; and of those 11 weeks, I’ve already had a full five weeks of food aversions and nausea. But I’m trying to view these queasy feelings as a challenge! Out of everything that sounds really bad, there is usually always something that sounds good. And so begins the game of finding foods that don’t make me gag… and that sound yummy.

Like cheese… So far, cheese always sounds yummy! 😉

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I’m hoping to document my food faves over the next few months, so that I can look back someday and remember what my cravings were. What did I enjoy eating the most? Did my tastes change all the time, or did I crave pizza all nine months. 😉

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Stay tuned! I’m just as curious as you are as to what I’ll be eating next. 🙂

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In a Baking Mood

I felt inspired to take my donut pan out of storage and to fill it with fun, sprinkled goodness. I’m not quite ready to share the recipe, as I feel as though it needs a few tweaks. The dough itself had a few too many sprinkles (I know, I know, that seems impossible. But it’s actually true). And I wasn’t a huge fan of the glaze.

So I have a bit of tweaking to do… But these are so adorable that I think they’re worth making again and perfecting! Stay tuned!! 🙂 The recipe is pretty close, because even if they weren’t perfect, they sure were yummy!!!

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Reindeer Cupcakes

How did I live before the days of Pinterest?

Quite fine, thank you very much!

But, on the other hand, I certainly didn’t decorate cupcakes as adorable as this either.

There is absolutely nothing complicated about these cupcakes, but you will be the star of your holiday party, just the same. I’m fairly certain that even the grumpiest of scrooges will smile, when they see them. They’re just too cute… and absolutely delicious. (I used this chocolate cake and frosting recipe from Hershey’s, and it was unbelievably amazing. I highly — like to the moon and back — recommend it).

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Chocolate-Cherry Purses

To be honest, I can’t remember the real name of this recipe. I just know that a few years ago, for the first time, I baked chocolate balls of dough and then covered them with cherries, sweet frosting, and drizzles of chocolate. The rest is history. The cookies had reached the achievement that most recipes only dream of. They had become a holiday staple and earned their very own name.

My Uncle Jon dubbed them Chocolate-Cherry Purses that first year. And that is what they’ve been called since…

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I not only love the perfect combination of chocolate, vanilla, and cherry flavors; but I also can’t help but adore their presentation. Let’s face it. They’re quite pretty. I make them every year, and these cherry-cuties always receive their share of compliments. They can hold their own on any Christmas platter, and no one has to know how easy they were to make!

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I certainly won’t tell! 🙂

CHOCOLATE CHERRY PURSES

COOKIES
½ cup sugar
¾ cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg yolk
1 ½ cups flour
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa

FILLING
¼ cup butter softened
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup powdered sugar

TOPPING
36 maraschino cherries, with stems, drained on paper towels
½ cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon oil

1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large bowl, combine sugar, ¾ cup butter, vanilla, and egg yolk. Beat until light and fluffy.
2. Lightly spoon flour into measuring cup, level off. Add flour and cocoa; beat until well mixed. Shap rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls; place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets. With index finger, make indentation in center of each cookie.
3. Bake at 375 F. for 7 to 9 minutes or until set. Immediately remove from cookie sheats; place on wire racks. Cool 10 minutes or until completely cooled.
4. Meanwhile, in medium bowl, combine all filling ingredients; beat until smooth. (Be patient, because it can take a bit. The mixture will resemble crumbs at first, but it will get smooth).
5. Spoon about ½ teaspoon filling into each cooled cookie. Press cherry into filling.
6. Place chocolate chips into a microwave safe bowl and drizzle oil over them. Melt in microwave, stirring after every 10 seconds until completely melted. Spoon into a food storage bag and then snip one of the corners. Drizzle chocolate over the cookies and let stand until chocolate is set.
Makes 3 dozen cookies.

Festive Snowmen Cookies

I cherish holiday traditions, probably more than I really know how to put into words!  They’re alive with memories, captured forever as though encased in a beautiful, glistening snowglobe.  They’re warm, delicious, comforting, and funny.

They’re familiar and close.

I can remember baking Christmas cookies in my mom’s kitchen as a little girl.  I rolled three balls of dough, aligning them on the cookie sheet to form the sweetest of snowmen.  My mom warned me to not make the base too big, and I would laugh and twirl like a ballerina.  My mom laughed too, okay with the fact that the snowmen would be jumbo-sized again this year.

My brother Matthew carefully pushed chocolate chip buttons into the snowmen, seriously proclaiming himself to be a carpenter who made cookies.  He sighed and declared, “Isn’t this nice?”

Four-year-old-Sarah kept us all in line, standing on a kitchen chair and letting her plump belly hang over the kitchen table.  And Dad caught it all on video.

That memory is ingrained in my mind forever.

Baking snowmen cookies was a holiday tradition back in the day, and my sister and I both — on our own — felt the need to bring that tradition back this year.  A quick conversation over the phone, however, turned our individual plans into a baking day together.  Just like the good ol’ days.  🙂

These snowmen cookies are always a huge hit.  Not only are they adorable, but they’re absolutely delicious.  I’ve yet to meet a child or adult who didn’t fall in love with them.  And I’ve certainly yet to meet a cook who didn’t have fun baking them on a cold, winter’s day.

Enjoy!  🙂

Festive Snowmen Cookies

3 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup butter

1 3-ounce package cream cheese, softened

2 cups sugar

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon almond (or vanilla) extract

¼ teaspoon coconut flavoring (optional)

Miniature semisweet chocolate pieces

Red cinnamon candies

¾ cup sifted powdered sugar

Cookie decorating frosting

Hershey kisses and peanut butter cups

In a medium mixing bowl, stir together flour and baking powder.  Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and cream cheese with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds.  Add sugar; beat still fluffy.  Add egg, vanilla, almond extract, and coconut flavoring, beat well.  Gradually add flour mixture to creamed mixture, beating well after each addition.

Cover and chill overnight.

Shape dough into 3 balls:  one 1-inch ball, one ¾-inch ball, and one 1/2-inch ball.  Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet in decreasing sizes with sides touching.  Press together slightly.  Press 2 chocolate pieces in small ball for eyes (pointy side down).  Press 1 red cinnamon candy in the middle ball and 2 candies in the largest ball for buttons.

Bake 325 degree oven about 18 minutes or until edges are firm and bottom are light golden brown.  Cool 1 minute on baking sheet.  Carefully transfer to a wire rack.  Cool.

With frosting, add scrarves to snowmen.  Stick on the kisses and peanut butter cups as caps.  Lightly sprinkle the snow people with powdered sugar.

Enjoy!!