Ginger Cilantro Baked Cod

I love making fish for dinner.  It's healthy, easy to prepare, and doesn't take long to bake at all.  Pretty much any fish will work with this recipe.  I prefer cod, which is pretty versatile.  It has a mild flavor, good texture, and is available year round.  No matter which fish you choose, it's important to select wild caught as opposed to farm raised.  As I mentioned in my Spicy Baked Cod recipe, wild caught fish is more natural and of higher nutritional value vs it's farm raised counterpart.

This particular recipe has tons of flavor!  I've made this on several occasions and it's always a big hit.  It's hard to believe it's so easy to make.  I served it over brown rice but if you're watching your carb intake, its also good with a salad or green beans.

Ginger Cilantro Baked Cod
recipe adapted by thekitchn.com
photos by halftomatohalfpotato
serves 2

-1 pound fresh cod
-salt & pepper
-3 garlic cloves
-1 inch fresh ginger, grated, about 1 tablespoon
-1 jalapeño pepper, roughly chopped (optional)
-1/3 cup roughly chopped cilantro leaves
-1/4 cup white wine
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-1 teaspoon sesame oil
-scallions, chopped for garnish
-extra cilantro, to garnish

-Preheat oven to 450°F
-Pat the fish dry, season lightly with salt and pepper, and lay in a 9x9-inch or 8x8-inch ceramic or glass
 baking dish
-Put the garlic, grated ginger, chopped jalapeño, and cilantro in a small food processor with the white
 wine, soy sauce, and sesame oil
-Process until blended (Alternately, you can finely chop the aromatics, then whisk together with the
 liquid ingredients)
-Pour the sauce over the fish, rubbing it in a little
-Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily and is cooked through
-Garnish with the additional scallions and cilantro and serve  


Healthy Crock Pot 3 Bean Turkey Chili

Apparently it's CrockPot month over here!  Due to the 3° weather we are currently experiencing (literally), I wanted to make chili.  I couldn't find a recipe that was both healthy AND tasty...until now!

This 3 bean chili uses ground turkey breast and couldn't be any easier to make. The only thing I added was a little bit of fresh garlic when I was browning the turkey.

I topped mine with a dollop of plain, non-fat greek yogurt (in place of sour cream), cheddar cheese, onion, and fresh cilantro. I have to say, the toppings made the dish for me. So use all or whatever combination you like, but don't skimp!

Healthy Crock Pot 3 Bean Turkey Chili
recipe by skinnytaste.com
photos by halftomatohalfpotato
serves 10-12

-1.25 lb fat free ground turkey breast
-1 small onion, chopped
-1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes (I used diced tomatoes with green chiles)
-1 (16 oz) can tomato sauce
-1 (4.5 oz) can chopped chilies, drained
-1 (15 oz) can chickpeas, undrained
-1 (15.5 oz) can black beans, undrained
-1 (15.5 oz) can small red beans, undrained
-2 tbsp chili powder

For the Topping:
-1/2 cup chopped red onion
-1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
-shredded cheddar  
-non-fat, plain greek yogurt (optional)

-Brown turkey and onion in a medium skillet over medium high heat until cooked through
-Drain any fat remaining and transfer to Crock Pot
-Add the beans, chilies, chickpeas, tomatoes, tomato sauce and chili powder; mix well
-Cook on low for 6-8 hours
-Garnish with red onions, cilantro, cheese and yogurt


Healthy Baked Cinnamon Walnut Apples

Ok, so you all tried my last post, right?  The secret ingredient was apple butter.  Since then, I've been in the mood for all things apples.  I pinned this recipe awhile back on Pinterest and finally tried it.  When I checked out the recipe page, I was pleasantly surprised to see the blogger was from my hometown of Pittsburgh.  I was even more pleasantly surprised once I tasted these!  They taste like mini apple pies, without all the guilt!

To make it healthier, I used apple butter instead of regular butter.  I doubled the filling part of the original recipe and added extra walnuts because the filling is obviously the best part!  The recipe below is my adaptation of the original.

The first time I made them in the CrockPot and they turned out great.  I decided to make them on a whim another night and didn't have 3 hours to let them slow cook, so I baked them in the oven which only takes about 45 minutes.  I prefer the oven method.  You will know when they are done when you can easily slide a toothpick into one of the apples.

These are also good topped with vanilla frozen yogurt or ice cream.  You can refrigerate these for up to 3 days, just store them in an air-tight container.


Healthy Baked Cinnamon Walnut Apples
recipe adapted by skinnychef.com
photos by halftomatohalfpotato
serves 6

- 2.5 Tablespoons apple butter (OR 4 Tablespoons regular butter)
-1/4 cup brown sugar (use 1/2 cup if using regular butter)
-1 cup walnuts, chopped
-2 teaspoons cinnamon
-6 Gala or Macintosh apples, cored

-Preheat oven to 350°F
-In a large bowl, mix brown sugar, walnuts, butter, & cinnamon
-Core the apples most of the way through, leaving about ½ inch apple left at the bottom
-Fill the apples with the filling and place them into baking dish
-Bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour


GIVEAWAY!! Spiced Shredded Apple Butter Brisket Sliders

Pretend it's Superbowl Sunday and you're having a party.  What are you serving?  These Brisket Sliders!  Seriously, gameday is right around the corner and even though the Steelers didn't quite make it this year, it's still an excuse to party.  And snack.  So you better get ready!

Whether you are having your own get together or heading to someone else's, this recipe is just perfect! The original recipe was for a spiced brisket made in the oven (which would be great for a sit down dinner) but I wanted something more party friendly and finger food-ish, so I adjusted it.  These sliders are super easy since the brisket is made in the Crock-Pot.  I would definitely make it the day before because it takes some time to slow cook and it reheats well.

My secret weapon in this recipe is Musselman's Apple Butter.  I typically have only used apple butter as a spread on toast or as a substitute for oil while baking.  Boy, have i been missing out!  Musselman's was kind enough to send me a jar and I discovered it's also great for marinades, sauces, and dips...AND it is gluten free and dairy free!  Check out their giveaway details below!


Spiced Shredded Apple Butter Brisket Sliders
recipe adapted by food.com 
photos by halftomathalfpotato
serves 8


For Brisket
-1 beef brisket, 4 to 4.5 lbs, rinsed and patted dry
-1 small onion, quartered
-8 whole cloves
-2 garlic cloves, halved
-salt & pepper to taste
For Sauce
-2 cups apple butter
-1 cup dry white wine
-6 Tablespoons yellow mustard
-4 tablespoons green onions, chopped
-3 teaspoons salt
-1.5 teaspoons curry powder
-1 teaspoon pepper
-slider buns

-Place onion, cloves and garlic into a slow cooker
-Place brisket on top, fat side up; season with a little salt & pepper, to taste
-Pour in about 1/4 cup water
-Cover and cook on low for 8-10 hours (beef should fall apart easily at this point)
-Remove brisket from CrockPot and set on cutting board to cool slightly
-Drain liquid from the CrockPot
-In a medium saucepan, combine apple butter, wine, mustard, green onions, salt, pepper, & curry
-Cook over medium heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally
-Shred brisket with two forks, place back into CrockPot (I also cut shreds into bite size pieces)
-Pour the sauce over the shredded brisket in the CrockPot, stir until well blended
-Serve brisket on slider buns

Musselman's has kindly offered to give away a Musselman's Apple Butter gift pack to one of my readers! The gift pack includes your very own jar of apple butter, recipe cards, and matching multi purpose bowl.  Make sure to comment or "like" the post, either here or on my Facebook page, and a winner will be selected by February 15th.

Also, be sure to check out musselmans.com to see all of their great recipe ideas that are sure to be crowd pleasers, no matter which team you're rooting for.  You can find Apple Butter in the jam/jelly aisle of your grocery store.


Importance of Reading Labels

photo courtesy of shape.com
I came across this article today (thanks Erica!) which talks about "ingredients" that are FDA approved in the US, but banned in other countries.  Some of them I already knew but the article is such an eye opener and definitely worth the read.

This should be a good reminder to always pay attention to the label on what you're buying...buy natural foods, buy local, and buy organic!

13 Banned Foods Still Allowed in the US


Cream Puffs

I've said this before...I'm not a huge baker but I have been experimenting more and more.  Practice makes perfect, right?  Well anyway, I'm not going to lie...my mom made these cream puffs.  I stopped over to see her and she was making them for a brunch she was attending.  They were just too pretty for me not to share. 

Cream Puffs
recipe and photos by halftomatohalfpotato
yields 10-12 puffs

For the Cream Puff Shell

-1 Cup Water
-½ Cup butter
-1/8 teaspoon salt
-1 Cup all purpose flour
-4 eggs

-Add butter, water and salt to a sauce pot over medium heat
-Bring to a roaring boil
-Remove from heat
-Add 1 cup flour (all at once); mix thoroughly 
-Let cool slightly then stir in 4 eggs, one at a time, beating with a hand mixer in between additions
-Use a large spoon to form the dough mixture into 2.5 inch circular mounds
-Place mounds onto ungreased cooking sheet or parchment paper 
-Bake at 450°F for 15 minutes; reduce heat to 350°F and bake 20 more minutes
-Remove from cooking sheet and carefully slice the puffs in half, horizontally 
-Cool on a wire rack

For the Custard Filling

-1 cup sugar
-1/2 cup flour
-1/4 tsp salt
-3 cups whole milk
-4 egg yolks
-3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
-1.5 teaspoon vanilla extract

-In a saucepan over medium heat, combine sugar, flour and salt
-Add milk gradually, cooking and stirring until mixture is thick and bubbly
-Lower heat, stirring for 2 minutes
-Stir in egg yolks slowly to cream mixture
-Bring to gentle boil for 2 more minutes
-Add butter and vanilla
-Transfer to a shallow bowl to cool, placing plastic wrap on the top of the custard to prevent a skin
 forming; refrigerate
-Once custard has cooled completely, scoop the cream filling into bottom half of pastry shells until they are very full
-Add top halves back onto filled shells and dust with powdered sugar

sliced, unfilled shells


Happy 93rd Birthday Pap!

Today is my grandfather's 93rd birthday!  Over the weekend, we took him to dinner, then surprised him with this birthday brownie.  He thoroughly enjoyed it, despite his usual claims about being too full for dessert.

Everyone who meets "Pappy" loves him immediately.  He's the grandfather everyone wishes they had.  If anyone deserves a decadent dessert, it's him.  After immigrating here from Italy, he studied hard to learn the American way.  He then joined the Navy, married my grandmother and started a family...always working hard along the way.  Most of my childhood memories involve him.  He loved my grandmother, family, reading, fixing things, Cadillacs, magic tricks, and food (specifically bread!)  

I'm so fortunate to have such a wonderful, inspirational person in my life.  After all these years, he taught me the most important lesson of all...family is what it's all about.  I hope someday to be as cherished as he is by everyone that meets him.  

In him, I have found the true meaning of "grand".  

Here's to another 93 years Pap!


Baked "Fried" Pickles

If you've never had fried pickles, you need to try them immediately!  I thought they sounded weird but tried them anyway on a vacation and became obsessed.  Since they are fried, they are obviously not very healthy so I had to find a way to make them lighter.  I found this version in which they are broiled, not fried, and they taste almost exactly the same.  Try them.  That is all.  

Baked "Fried" Pickles
recipe by The Vanilla Tulip
photos by halftomatohalfpotato
serves 4-6

-1 jar pickle slices (i used Kosher Dill)
-2 eggs
-1/3 cup flour
-1 TablespoonWorcestershire sauce
-1 teaspoon hot sauce
-1 teaspoon garlic powder
-1 teaspoon Cajun seasoning
-1 teaspoon pepper
-1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs

-Turn oven broiler on high
-In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and flour
-Add Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic powder, Cajun seasoning, and pepper;  mix well
-Place panko bread crumbs in a shallow dish
-Dunk each pickle slice into the egg mixture, than dredge it in the panko bread crumbs
-Place coated pickles on a rack set above a baking sheet and sprayed with non-stick cooking spray
-Place pan in the middle rack of the oven. Broil for about 3-5 minutes on each side


Dairy Free Spinach & Berry Smoothie--1 Year Blog Anniversary

I just realized that it has already been one whole year since my very first post!  What a year this has been!  With lots of ups and a few downs, I'm ready to start 2013 on a positive note!

After all of the indulging of the holidays, it's now time to get back on the right track.  I like starting my day with these healthy smoothies.  They are very flavorful, have tons of vitamins and antioxidants, and will give you a lot of energy.  I usually use spinach but you can also use kale, or both!

Spinach is known as a superfood but the berries also have an incredible amount of nutritional goodness.  In addition to being loaded with antioxidants and phytonutrients, they are low in calories and high in water and fiber to help control blood sugar and keep you full longer.  I like to use a mixture of strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and blueberries but any other combination is just fine!

Most smoothie recipes call for some type of liquid (milk, yogurt, orange juice, etc) but I used water.  The fruit adds enough sweetness to the smoothie but you could always add Truvia or a natural sweetener if it's not sweet enough for you.

I really need to purchase a Vitamix blender, which is the king of all blenders.  If you don't have a Vitamix, I would blend the spinach and water first, then add the ice and fruit.  

Here's to a healthy and happy new year!  

Spinach & Berry Smoothie
recipe and photos by halftomatohalfpotato

-1 cup fresh spinach 
-2 cups frozen berries
-1/2 banana
-1.5 cups ice cubes
-1/4-1/2 cup water

-add spinach and 1/4 cup water to blender; blend
-add fruit and ice cubes
-blend until smooth
-add more water if necessary (if you prefer a thinner consistency)


10 Tricks to Eating Less--New Year Resolution

What are your New Year resolutions?  If you are like most people, one of your resolutions probably has something to do with your health/weight loss.  I came across this article on thedailymeal.com about how to trick yourself into eating less and thought I would share it with you all. 

My favorite tricks listed are eating your meals on smaller plates and not eating in front of the computer or TV.  Check it out! Let me know what you think or if you have any other tips!

Happy New Year!

10 Tricks to Eating Less


Caramel Apple Grapes

"As Spain counts down to midnight on New Year’s Eve, it is customary to eat a dozen grapes timed to the 12 bells of the famed Puerta del Sol clock in Madrid. Finish all 12 grapes before the strike of midnight and begin the year with luck and prosperity."  -kitchendaily.com

Since most of us can use all the luck we can get, I thought these Caramel Apple Grapes would be the perfect snack to bring on New Year's Eve!  They really do taste like mini caramel apples and were a huge hit at the party!


Caramel Apple Grapes
recipe by navywifecook.com
photos by halftomatohalfpotato

-2 cups caramel bits
-4 tablespoons heavy cream
-2 cups seedless green grapes
-1.5 cups salted peanuts, crushed

-Poke toothpicks into the tops of each grape; set aside
-In a small pot over medium-low heat, combine the caramel bits and cream; stir until melted
-Reduce heat to low to keep warm
-Place the peanuts in a shallow dish
-Dip the grapes into the caramel sauce and then roll in the crushed nuts
-Place on a plate to set. Repeat until all the grapes are used

Linguine Aglio Olio

Sunday is always family dinner day at my Mom's house.  With the hustle and bustle of the holidays almost behind us, this week I wanted to make something easy.  Linguine Aglio Olio takes almost zero prep and is always a crowd pleaser.

The aroma of garlic will fill your house (and your breath...ha) so if you aren't a garlic lover, than this one is not for you!  I serve this with nice crusty bread or garlic toast, which is great for sopping up the leftover "sauce".


Linguine Aglio Olio
recipe and photos by halftomatohalfpotato
serves 4

-1 lb linguine, uncooked
-3 teaspoons salt
-1/2 cup reserved pasta water
-1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
-8 cloves fresh garlic, minced
-1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes
-handful fresh chopped parsley
-2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
-1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
salt & pepper

-Boil a large pot of water
-Add 2 teaspoons salt and linguine; cook until al dente
-Right before draining, remove and reserve 1/2 cup of starchy pasta water
-Heat olive oil over medium heat in a skillet
-Add garlic, red pepper flakes, salt & pepper
-Sauté, stirring often until the garlic is softened
-Stir in parsley, lemon juice and reserved pasta cooking water
-Add the drained pasta to the skillet, mix to combine all ingredients
-Cook for another minute then transfer to serving dish
-Season with a little salt, lots of black pepper, and Parmesan cheese