Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Thai Coconut Tilapia Curry

This is one of our favorite meals.  It takes the basic red curry sauce from my chicken curry, that I learned from an old roommate who is Thai, and changes it up a bit with fish.  We like our curry fairly spicy and sweet so I go heavy on the curry paste and brown sugar, but adjust to suit your taste.  The spicy sweet sauce pairs so nicely with the delicacy of the fish. 

Thai Coconut Tilapia Curry

-2 (14 oz) cans coconut milk
-4 pieces tilapia, or other white fish (thawed if frozen)
-2-4 heaping tablespoons red curry paste
-2 tablespoons soy sauce
-2 tablespoons lime juice
-3-6 tablespoons brown sugar
-1/3 cup basil leaves, coarsely chopped (use Thai basil if possible)
-cooking spray or oil
-1 yellow onion, sliced thin
-8 oz spinach sautéed in a pan until wilted
-cooked brown rice

Heat a large pot over medium high heat, and grease with cooking spray or oil. Cook onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium and add coconut milk. Stir in curry paste until well blended. Bring to a boil and let simmer 5 minutes. Add soy sauce, lime juice and brown sugar, simmer for 5 more minutes. Stir in basil and simmer 5 more minutes. Add tilapia, shake pan to coat fish with sauce.  Cover and simmer until the fish pieces turn opaque and flake easily with a fork, about 5-7 minutes. To serve, lay a bed of rice in a serving dish, layer spinach on top of that, a piece of fish on top of that, and a generous ladle full of curry sauce poured over top.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

More Healthy Mexican

This past weekend Jeremy and I had one of my friends from high school and his wife over for dinner. I made one of our favorite meals: burrito bowls (think something you'd get at Baja Fresh, Chipotle, or Quodoba). These are great because they can be altered to each individual's taste, so if you have a guest who doesn't like something they can just leave that off of their own individual plate (like me with the meat and dairy). I set up a bar of multiple dishes and condiments and let everyone assemble their own plate before sitting down to eat. Below are the items that I normally include, along with some sour cream, sliced pickled jalapenos, and freshly shredded cheddar cheese. Sorry, I didn't take any pictures this time because I didn't want to weird our guests out by taking pictures of the food.

Seasoned Chicken
This is more of a method than a recipe. I cut up chicken and cook it in a pan and add some taco seasoning (see recipe below). I always assemble the other ingredients in advance earlier that day, and whip this up last minute as the guests are arriving. To have this a make ahead dish to avoid the last minute rush (as I generally try to do when I entertain) you could just throw the chicken in a crockpot with some salsa and taco seasoning, cook for 6-8 hours on low, and then shred before serving.

Taco Seasoning
-6 teaspoons chili powder
-5 teaspoons paprika
-4 1/2 teaspoons cumin
-2 1/2 teaspoons onion salt (because that's what I have on hand, you could use onion powder and add salt separately)
-2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
-1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
-1/8 teaspoon cayenne

Mix all ingredients well. Store in airtight container for 6-12 months. To use add 2 tablespoons of seasoning mix to one pound cooked chicken or beef, add 1/3 cup water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for at least 5 minutes, or meat is coated and sauce is absorbed.

Black Beans
-1 lb. dried black beans
-(this time I threw in about 1 cup of diced tomatoes because I had them in the freezer and they needed to be used, but the recipe doesn't need this. you could also use 1 can tomatoes with chiles for a spicy flavor)
-4 cloves garlic, minced
-1 yellow onion, chopped
-1 teaspoon salt
-3 bay leaves
-1/2 teaspoon cumin
-1/2 teaspoon oregano
-1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper (this made them pretty spicy, use 1/8-1/4 teaspoon if you don't love spicy food)
-1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
-(this would also be wonderful with fresh lime juice or cilantro stirred in at the end, but I did not do that this time)

Soak beans overnight, rinse and drain. Saute onion and garlic in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened. Add beans and suggested amount of water on package. Add everything else except for the vinegar. Bring to a boil, cover and simmer until desired texture is achieved (I usually cook them for at least 2-4 hours). If water dries up and beans are still too firm, add more water and continue to simmer. Stir in the vinegar (and any lime juice or cilantro) once finished.

Cilantro Rice
I cook rice in our rice maker and stir in fresh chopped cilantro just before serving to add a nice touch.

Black Bean and Corn Salad
This recipe can be found here on my post from last week. (I like to eat this on the side, but everyone else throws it right on top of the rice in their burrito bowl and enjoys it this way).

-4 avocados, sliced in half, then sliced into small cubes (while skin is attached) and removed from skin with a spoon
-2 roma tomatoes (or 1 medium to large tomato), seeded and chopped
-½ red onion, chopped
-1 clove garlic, minced
-salt and pepper to taste (up to 1 teaspoon of each)
-a couple drops hot sauce or dashes of cayenne pepper
-chopped fresh cilantro
-the juice of 1 limes

Combine all ingredients in bowl, stir and serve immediately. Keep the pit of one of the avocados in the bowl if the dip will remain out for a while, or if it will be refrigerated (this helps keep it from turning brown).

Fresh Tomato Salsa
-6 tomatoes (you can use plum/ roma, home grown, or just the everyday variety), seeded and coarsely chopped
-½ red onion, chopped
-1 teaspoon white vinegar
-1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
-2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
-1/4 teaspoon salt
-fresh ground black pepper
-hot pepper sauce or cayenne to taste
-1 clove garlic minced
-1 teaspoon sugar

Combine all ingredients. Serve immediately or chill for several hours depending on your preference.


Monday, June 15, 2009

Fish Tacos with Cayenne Lime Sour Cream Sauce

Fish Tacos

This is one of my absolute favorite dinners. It's light, healthy, quick and easy and is super delicious.  I like to serve fish tacos with corn on the cob and/ or cilantro lime slaw and refried black beans. 

-6 pieces white fish like tilapia or halibut
-olive oil
-salt and pepper
-cayenne and cumin
-desired toppings; red cabbage, chopped cilantro, hot sauce, guacamole, cheese, hot sauce and/ or sriracha sauce

Cayenne Lime Sour Cream Sauce
-1/4 teaspoon each cumin and cayenne pepper
-1 tsp sugar
-1/2 tsp salt
-juice of 1/2 of a lime
-1/2 c sour cream

Season fish on both sides by sprinkling with salt, pepper, cayenne and cumin. Heat olive oil in pan over medium heat, add fish and cook for a few minutes on each side (until fish flakes easily with a fork). While fish is cooking combine sour cream, juice of 1/2 lime, sugar, salt, cumin and cayenne pepper for sauce. To assemble tacos place 1 fillet of fish in a tortilla, top with desired toppings and sour cream sauce.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

more card making

i ended up being able to squeeze in some creative card making time last sunday. here are some misc. birthday, thank you, and congratulations cards that i'll now have ready to go for when an occasion arises. the best part is that these cards were all made either from cut up cards i've received (kristal and aimee, you may recognize the funky prints), or scraps of paper left from the last time i made journals.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

our new home

Now that our new home is somewhat presentable (we are all a work in progress, and won't reach perfection this side of Heaven, so shouldn't our homes be the same?) I am proud to present some pictures.

We are still thrilled with our new home, our neighborhood, and our location in Uptown New Orleans. We appreciate it more and more each day and aren't sure if we'll ever want to live any where else again. As my father in law says, the rest of the world seems to be in black and white and New Orleans is in color... I couldn't agree more, there's no where like this place, it's either a love or hate thing, and we definitely LOVE it here! All of that said, there have been some adjustments with our new home and lifestyle. This is the first time that we haven't had a garbage disposal or a pantry. It's also the first time that we've shared a bathroom and closet with each other. And have I mentioned that we went from a 2 bedroom 2 bath, to a 1 bedroom 1 bath? Oh yeah... and we don't have central air, but are actually quite happy with our two window units and 3 ceiling fans. All of that said, we are adjusting well and it is well worth every "sacrifice"! Every box is finally unpacked, and now we just have a few odds and ends to find homes for. It's funny how our 1 bedroom, 1 bath is already more organized then our 2 bedroom 2 bath ever was; thanks to the help of severe decluttering, and storage in Jeremy's Aunt's attic.

our home

the front room in the shot gun, our living room

the mantle closer up... my two favorite things about this are the two pieces of art that a friend gave us, and the "love" wood carving that my mom made in shop in high school

living room, from another angle... for those of you who have seen our furniture before, you might be suprised at how our sectional is laid out and separated so it doesn't swallow the whole room... it was Jeremy's Mom's idea, and we love it... oh, and we love our new antique store chest that we're using as a coffee table!

our kitchen

view from kitchen to living room

other side of kitchen, since we don't have a pantry we're using an old armoire that used to hold our tv in our bedroom for a free standing pantry (the mantle is arranged a little differently now, with the addition of the green soup dish I bought from a yard sale a week ago)

our bedroom... I love this quilt! My Mom and Dad made it when they were newly married... I just love having things around our home that were handmade and have meaning

our bedroom from another angle

the back room is our bathroom, with the only closet in our home... that door straight ahead heads out back

the rest of the bathroom

from another angle

our closet


Sunday, June 7, 2009

baby shower card

since we've been so busy moving, unpacking, and getting our home settled i haven't gotten to do much creating since we've been here. however i did sneak away 15 minutes yesterday to throw together a quick and easy card for a baby shower that i'm attending this afternoon. it was fun to be creative and create again, i'm looking forward to getting back at my sewing machine again soon, and also making up lots of birthday cards to keep on hand.


cayenne chicken (and tofu) with avacado salsa

i had posted about this recipe before that i had been dying to try. this weekend i finally made it, and yummo!!!!! i made the cayenne chicken with avacado salsa for jeremy, and i made cayenne tofu with avacado salsa for me. we both thought that our dinners turned out very well, and want to add this to our regular rotation. jeremy even tried a bite of my tofu cooked this way, and for the first time, he didn't hate tofu!

(i used 2 avacados instead of the 1 the recipe called for, and i also doubled the spice mixture for 3 pieces of tofu and 1 piece of chicken. my avacado salsa turned out like guacamole, but it tasted delicious! next time i might add chopped tomatoes to the salsa as well)

since i only used half of the block of tofu for the cayenne tofu, i still had half left for lunch yesterday. i mashed it up with a fork, added salt, pepper, mustard, mayo, cayenne, and jeremy's grandma's homemade pickles (chopped up). this made a delicious sandwich, and i still have half left for lunch today.


Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Motivated by love

I'm still on my extended journey of reading through Romans. This weekend I was in Romans 13 and 14, and here's some of what I took away from Romans 13...

Romans 13:8-10 (NASB) Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, "YOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, YOU SHALL NOT MURDER, YOU SHALL NOT STEAL, YOU SHALL NOT COVET," and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

and this brought me to going back and taking a look at Matthew 22...

Matthew 22:37-40 And He said to him, " 'YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND.' "This is the great and foremost commandment. "The second is like it, 'YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.' "On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets."

First, Matthew 13:8, owe nothing to anyone except to love one another... this reminds me of the Proverb that states the borrower is slave to the lender. Having been in debt myself, and by God's grace having been freed from it, I all too well know the burden and slavery that come with debt. The weight of oppression that a person has while under debt's grasp... the hopelessness that can sink in. I can understand why Scripture speaks about out debt, and how God would want his children to be free from it, free to follow Him, rather than living under the strain of paying back their debts, and being under control of the lenders of those debts. I could write more on this topic, but this wasn't the point of my post, so I'll get back to where I was heading...

I love how the Scriptures above reference love as the fulfillment of the law. We know that by Jesus' blood we were saved from the law, but so often as Christians we take on the law ourselves, we make rules about not to do certain things (like being drunk, engaging in premarital sex, having an abortion etc.). Before I was a Christian I was under the impression that Christianity was about rules, that those rules were what separated me from people who were Christians, and I wasn't sure that I was ready to follow all of those rules. The self-imposed laws of Christians were a hindrance to me hearing the Gospel, and seeing it displayed in the lives of others.

I love how the Scriptures above instruct us that walking with Christ is not about a list of rules or laws, but that it can be summed up into loving God, and loving others as ourselves (the Golden Rule... do unto others as you would have them do unto you). We need not say anymore to not steal, not commit murder, not commit adultery etc., we simply need to focus on loving our God with all of our hearts, and loving others as ourselves and this would keep us from such actions... it's not loving to our brothers to murder, steal, or cheat on our spouses. So our motivations need not be set to rules, but we simply need to allow the love of Christ to compel us and guide us as we are motivated in love.