Parmesan Almond Tilapia with Lemon

Inspiration: This recipe has been on our table in one form or another for years, and over the last few months, I’ve finally perfected a lower-carb version that we really, really love. This is typically something that we’d eat a lot of in the summer time, but every once in a while in the winter time, a light and bright fish supper is just what we need.

What We Loved: This is one of those dishes that is just so delicious in its simplicity. The recipe is nothing but a nice filet of tender, flaky fish with a crispy crust and juicy lemon, but those simple ingredients really make for an excellent flavor combination and a truly enjoyable meal. We particularly loved the bright, fresh lemon juice, which added even more moistness to the already tender fish. Plus, every once in a while, there’s just nothing like a great crispy crust on a piece of fish or chicken, right? This really is a great light option for a satisfying supper.

Tips: I think that the crust on this fish would work very well for chicken Parmesan. I’ll be trying that out soon! Also, don’t skip the lemon with this one – that fresh lemon juice is one of the best parts of the dish.

Parmesan Almond Tilapia with Lemon
Source: Original Recipe

2 tilapia filets
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 egg
About 1/4 – 1/3 cup almond meal
About 1/4 – 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese, freshly grated and then blended to a powder in a food processor
Italian seasoning
Lemon wedges

1. Place the coconut flour onto a plate, beat the egg in a shallow bowl, and mix the almond meal and Parmesan cheese together on another plate.

2. Season the filets with salt and pepper. Dredge the filets in the coconut flour to coat.

3. Dip the filets in the egg, and then dip them into the Parmesan/almond mixture. Use your hands to pat the mixture firmly onto the filets.

4. Heat some butter in a saute pan over medium heat, enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan. Add the filets, and cook for about 4-5 minutes per side, flipping only once. Cook until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

5. Plate the fish, and season with Italian seasoning. Serve with lemon wedges.

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Shrimp and Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms

Shrimp and Bacon-Stuffed Mushrooms

Inspiration: This is one of those recipes that I’ve been making for years (I think we’ve made it as part of Brandon’s family’s Christmas Eve supper for the past three years now), yet it’s somehow never made it onto the blog. I’ve made a lot of stuffed mushrooms ever since I fell in love with mushrooms several years back, and in our opinion, nothing can hold a candle to these. They’re by far our favorite stuffed mushrooms (and I think that my brother-in-law, Brian, just might agree). With football playoffs in full swing, I thought that now would be a great time to finally post this recipe. We always love to do a fun appetizer spread for Superbowl Sunday in particular, and after looking at these pictures, I have a feeling that these will be making an appearance on our table that day for sure.

What We Loved: These mushrooms are rich, cheesy, and decadent. They’re defined by a wonderful bacon flavor that melds with the light, succulent flavor of fresh shrimp; the  rich, browned flavor of sauteed onions; and a combination of velvety cream cheese and nutty, crispy Parmesan. The result is really just a perfect, intensely rich and flavorful combination. I feel like stuffed mushrooms are one of those dishes that just call for decadence, and these mushrooms definitely deliver.

Tips: I’ve made these using several different kinds of mushrooms (white stuffing mushrooms, baby cremini mushrooms, and large portabella mushrooms), and every kind that we’ve tried so far works wonderfully. I’ve found that smaller, appetizer-sized mushrooms are our favorite, but large, dinner-sized portabellas work just fine, too. Basically, this recipe will work as whatever you’re looking for, depending on which mushrooms you use – an appetizer, a side dish, or even a main course.

Shrimp and Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
Source: Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

About 24 ounces mushrooms (whichever kind you prefer – we like to use smaller white stuffing mushrooms or baby bellas – about 18 mushrooms total)
4 slices bacon, diced
½ Vidalia onion, finely diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper
About 10 large shrimp, finely diced
6 ounces cream cheese
¾ cups fresh Parmesan cheese, finely grated

1. Rinse and clean the mushrooms, and cut out all of the stems. Finely chop the stems and set aside.

2. Cook the bacon in a saute pan until it renders some fat and is about halfway crisped.

3. Add the onion and the mushroom stem pieces to the pan. Season well with salt and pepper, and continue to cook until the water released from the mushrooms evaporates and the vegetables are softened and beginning to get nice and browned.

4. Add the garlic to the pan, and stir to combine. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the shrimp.

5. Mix in the cream cheese and Parmesan cheese.

6. Spoon the mixture into the mushrooms, and place them into a baking dish.

7. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes, until the filling cooks through and the mushrooms have released their moisture. If desired, turn the broiler on for a minute or two before the end of cooking to brown the top of the mushrooms.

8. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Chipotle Shrimp

Inspiration: My parents have this favorite cozy little Mexican restaurant called El Salto that they often take us to that has the most amazing Mexican food. We’ve been there countless times, and we all always say that there’s nothing on the menu that’s not good. Isn’t that just the best kind of restaurant? (especially considering that it’s Mexican food…..our favorite). Anyway, one of us will sometimes get their spicy shrimp dish (I think that they call it camarones al diablo), and it’s a fabulously spicy, spicy dish. It’s the kind of dish where you have to make sure that you have a full glass of water (or margarita) in front of you while you’re eating. I was browsing through one of Rick Bayless’ books recently when I saw something that looked pretty similar – his chipotle shrimp dish – and I knew that I had to give it a try. There’s just something so fun about trying to recreate restaurant meals at home, isn’t there? Plus, we always say the same thing about Rick Bayless as we do about the restaurant – there’s nothing in his cookbooks that’s not gold.

What We Loved: This dish ended up tasting quite a bit different than our restaurant favorite, but it sure was tasty just the same. The sauce has just the perfect amount of spice and heat (with a nice, smoky kick from the adobo sauce), and the shrimp are so tender and succulent, as shrimp should always be. We loved the fresh cilantro garnish and the lovely tart zip that came from squeezing fresh lime juice atop the meal as we ate. If you like spicy food, then this recipe is definitely a winner. We served it alongside some fresh homemade guacamole for a great Saturday night Mexican supper.

Tips: For the amount of shrimp that we cooked (one pound between two people), there was a lot of extra sauce in the pan. I’d recommend cooking anywhere between 1 1/2 to 2 pounds of shrimp to serve three or four with the amount of sauce called for in the recipe below. Or, I’d use less chicken stock so that the sauce is thicker and you have less leftover in the pan.

Chipotle Shrimp
Source: Slightly adapted from Rick Bayless, from Mexican Everyday

1 14.5 oz can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
2 canned chipotles in adobo sauce
1 tablespoon adobo sauce
3 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup chicken stock
1 teaspoon salt
1 lb fresh, large shrimp
Cilantro, chopped
Lime wedges

1. Pour the drained tomatoes into a food processor. Add the chipotles and the adobo sauce, and process until smooth.

2. Heat a couple pats of butter in a saute pan. Add the garlic, and cook until fragrant, about a minute.

3. Pour in the tomato sauce, stir to combine, and cook for about five minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.

4. Add the chicken stock and about a teaspoon of salt (more or less to taste). Allow to simmer and reduce until the sauce is thickened.

5. Add the shrimp, and continue to cook until the shrimp are cooked through, about 4-5 minutes.

6. Serve the shrimp garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

Rosemary Parmesan Crab Cakes

Inspiration: Crab cakes are a weakness of mine. I love, love, love them more than almost any other main dish. Since throwing my very favorite recipe to the curb for having too much bread involved, though, I’ve been on the hunt for a good low carb recipe for about two years. I was very happy to stumble upon this recipe at The Primal Palate that threw an egg into the mix as a binder. What a great idea! And since I’ve been adding rosemary to anything and everything lately (why can’t you just buy rosemary by the sprig?), a rosemary Parmesan spin sounded like a great variation to a more traditional or standard crab cake.

What We Loved: These crab cakes are lovely. They’re packed with a lot of crab as the main ingredient (always the best kind of crab cake); they hold together perfectly and have a nice, fluffy texture; the rosemary adds a unique earthy touch; and the Parmesan lends just a hint of an underlying nutty flavor.  These are perfect for a light meal, and they pair beautifully with a nice white wine.

Tips: I’ve made these a couple of times, and I’ve found that some of the egg runs out of the crab cakes onto the pan as they cook. This may be because I’ve used large eggs each time. It’s no big deal, though – just cut that extra egg portion off when you take the crab cakes off of the pan.

Rosemary Parmesan Crab Cakes
Source: Adapted from The Primal Palate

8 oz crabmeat
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
1 small egg, whisked
1 slice onion, minced
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
About 2 teaspoons or 1 scant tablespoon minced rosemary
Kosher salt and black pepper
Old Bay seasoning

1. Combine the crab, mayonnaise, egg, onion, Parmesan, and rosemary in a bowl, and mix well. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and Old Bay.

2. Using your hands, form the mixture into four crab cakes. Place the crab cakes onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cooked through.

Poblanos Peppers Stuffed with Curried Shrimp, Scallops, and Andouille and topped with Carrot Puree and Creme Fraiche

Poblano Peppers stuffed with Curried Shrimp, Scallops, and Andouille and topped with Carrot Puree and Creme Fraiche

Inspiration: Growing up, my parents always let us kids choose whatever dinner that we wanted my Mom to cook for our birthdays. I always got so excited about that and loved the tradition, so I plan to do the same for my kids one day. For now, I keep the tradition alive by letting Brandon pick a special dinner, and for his birthday a few days ago, he chose quite the meal – this fabulous recipe from a local chef, Eve Aronoff. We just bought her cookbook from her old restaurant, Eve (so sad that it closed down!), and the recipes in that book all sound so good that I’m tempted to cook from no other source for a couple of months. I’m sure that the husband would not object. Happy 28th, Brandon!

What We Loved: Everything. There was not a single aspect of this dish that was anything less than perfect, so I don’t really even know where to start. The concept of the meal is awesome in its own right – a sort of Indian/Mexican fusion – and the end result has great components of each of those cuisines that work perfectly together. The poblano peppers have that spicy, earthy flavor that I’ve come to associate with Mexican food, and the filling is flavored with both Mexican and Indian spices. To top everything off, melted smoked mozzarella and creme fraiche bring back that Mexican feel, while the carrot puree is again something that I would more closely associate with an Indian dish. Fantastic! As for the flavors of the meal, we were completely blown away by all of the layers and how well everything worked together. The seafood was perfectly succulent and tender (which really surprised me – I was worried about the seafood overcooking since it is sauteed and then baked), the andouille provided just a little heat, and the rest of the seasonings and spices added this rich, intense flavor that I can only describe as a Mexican curry. The carrot puree on top was another surprising aspect of the dish, because it didn’t have a strong carrot flavor in the slightest (and for two people like us who don’t love carrots, that’s a great thing). Instead, it had a very mellow vegetable flavor that was very crisp and refreshing atop the stronger, bolder flavors of the stuffed peppers. The dollop of cool creme fraiche (I just love how it melted down into the hot peppers like it did!) was the perfect finishing touch. This meal as a whole is quite truthfully one of the best things that I have ever made.

Tips: The original recipe calls for two separate seasoning mixes. Instead of making the mixes in big batches as they’re written in the cookbook and having a lot of leftovers, I basically just sprinkled the spices into the pan in what I thought were the appropriate proportions (to total about 2-3 teaspoons of spice). I’ll list the spices below that I included, but as a general guideline I went heavy on the curry powder, chili powder, and paprika, with smaller sprinklings of the rest of the seasonings. I used the same method with the carrot puree, scaling everything down to make about 1/2 cup. I’ll list the approximate amounts that I used, but the amounts are very rough estimates. It would be best to taste test as you go along, and adjust the levels as you see fit.

Poblano Peppers Stuffed with Curried Shrimp, Scallops, and Andouille and Topped with Carrot Puree and Creme Fraiche 
Source: Eve The Cookbook

3 poblano peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, ribs and seeds removed
Extra virgin olive oil
1 cup onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 small jalapeno, minced
Curry powder
Chili powder
Garlic powder
4 fresh jumbo gulf shrimp, peeled and deveined, finely chopped
4 large fresh sea scallops, finely chopped
1 andouille sausage link, finely chopped
1 cup smoked mozzarella, shredded
1/4 cup scallions, chopped
1 teaspoon sriracha
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Carrot lime puree, recipe follows
Creme fraiche

1. Drizzle the halved poblanos with olive oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast in a 425 degree oven until tender, about 10 minutes. Remove and set aside.

2. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan. Add the onions, garlic, and jalapenos, and cook for about 3-4 minutes on low until softened. Season with Kosher salt, black pepper, curry powder, coriander, turmeric, chili powder, paprika, garlic powder, cumin, and oregano (to total about 2-3 teaspoons of spice).

3. Add the seafood and andouille, and saute until the seafood just barely loses translucency.

4. Remove the pan from the heat, and transfer the contents to a mixing bowl. Add the green onions and sriracha, and stir to combine. Adjust the seasonings to taste.

5. Divide the stuffing between the six poblano halves. Sprinkle each with shredded smoked mozzarella. Bake in a 425 oven for 15 minutes.

6. Serve topped with a dollop of carrot lime puree and creme fraiche.

Carrot Lime Puree
1/3 small green bell pepper, roughly chopped
1/8 – 1/4 cup onions, roughly chopped
Juice from 1 small lime
1 larger carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
1 small clove garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
Extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
Black pepper

1. Place the bell peppers, onions, lime juice, carrot, and garlic in a food processor.

2. Slowly add the olive oil while the food processor is running to emulsify.

3. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab and Remoulade Sauce

Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab and Remoulade Sauce

*Photo & post updated September 2011*

Inspiration: I have had this recipe bookmarked since the day that I ran across it last year, just waiting for some green tomatoes to grace my kitchen. Luckily, Brandon’s parents are awesome and stocked us up with a whole heap of amazing produce from their garden the other day, including three gorgeous green tomatoes. Brandon and I both adore them, so we couldn’t wait to use them. In fact, when we are able to grow a garden, I’m not sure how many tomatoes will ever make it past the green stage. They’re just such a fun/unique/delicious ingredient.

What we Loved: This was truly a fantastic supper because there were just so many flavors going on. The tomatoes were tart and sour, with a nutty crust made from hazelnuts and Parmesan; the crab added bright, fresh components to the meal; and the remoulade was rich, creamy, and decadent. As a whole, all of those ingredients combined together for one fabulous meal. We just couldn’t get enough of the sauce, and I was surprised with how well the hazelnut/Parmesan crust worked on the tomatoes. Not only did it adhere well, but it also provided a great, nutty contrast to the sour bite of the fruit.

Tips: I used my low carb version of fried green tomatoes in this recipe. Please look elsewhere or check out Kevin’s site below if you’re looking for a more traditional Southern version.

Fried Green Tomatoes with Crab and Remoulade Sauce
Source: Adapted from Closet Cooking

1 large green tomato, sliced
1 egg
1/4 – 1/3 cup nut meal (I used hazelnut meal)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan
8 oz crab meat, warmed
Salad greens, if desired (I used baby arugula)
1 batch remoulade sauce (recipe follows)

1. Beat the egg in a shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, combine the nut meal and Parmesan.

2. Dip the tomato slices into the egg, then dip them into the nut mixture, patting the mixture onto the tomatoes to fully cover.

3. Heat enough butter in a saute pan over medium heat to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes, and let cook for 3-4 minutes, until browned. Flip, and cook for 3-4 minutes more.

4. Plate the tomatoes atop the salad greens, if desired. Top each tomato with some crab and some remoulade sauce.

Remoulade Sauce
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon horseradish
1 small clove garlic
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon capers
1 small slice onion, chopped
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika

1. Place all of the ingredients in a food processor, and puree until smooth.

Whitefish with Banana Salsa

Inspiration: I was browsing through Natalie’s blog when I ran across this recipe. Bananas are one of my favorite treats, but the thought had never once crossed my mind to try cooking with them. Is it just me, or is that idea incredibly different/odd/intriguing? I didn’t even have the patience to wait for a sunny summer day to throw this on the grill and eat outside with a nice cocktail, as I had originally planned. Next time.

What We Loved: The salsa in this meal is truly fantastic. It’s very mild, light, and fresh, with a creamy and sweet banana flavor. The jalapeños add a lovely kick of spice, and I always enjoy the fresh, clean herbal flavor of cilantro. All in all, the ingredients combine beautifully for a gorgeous, well-rounded topping for this fish. We served this with a hearts of palm salad (recipe to be posted soon) for a great meal that was just chock-full of tropical flavors. I can see this salsa being good in so many applications, including on its own as a salad or side dish.

Helpful Hints: The original recipe calls for the fish to be seasoned with chili powder, salt, and pepper. I chose to mix these seasonings in with coconut flour. It seemed like a good idea – doesn’t coconut sound great with the rest of these flavors? – but I wouldn’t recommend doing it that way. I had a terrible time getting the crust to crisp up (read – it didn’t at all), and the coconut flour didn’t do much in the way of actually sticking to the fish. So I would recommend either following the original recipe (saute the fish with the seasonings in a pan) or throwing the fish on the grill for a nice crispy, grilled crust. Also, Brandon loved this meal but remarked that he thought that the delicate flavors of the fish were just a touch overpowered by the salsa. If you’re worried about that, maybe use a little less salsa than I did. Or, I think that a thicker chicken breast would be also be a good match for this recipe.

Whitefish with Banana Salsa
Source: Adapted (slightly) from The Sweets Life, originally from Clean Eating Magazine

2 whitefish filets
Chili powder
1/2 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 banana, chopped
Handful fresh cilantro, minced
1 slice Vidalia onion, finely diced
1/2 jalapeño, minced
Kosher salt and black pepper

1. Mix together the black beans, banana, cilantro, onion, and jalapeño. Season to taste with Kosher salt and black pepper.

2. Sprinkle the fish with chili powder and Kosher salt, and cook as desired (next time, I think we’ll grill it until it has a nice, slightly blackened crust. The original recipe calls for cooking in a saute pan for 3-4 minutes per side).

3. Serve the fish topped with the salsa.