Lemon Pepper Perch with Lima Beans

Lemon Pepper Perch with Lima Beans

*Photo Updated July 2012*

Inspiration: I have the good fortune to have a set of in-laws who have grown and supplied us with fresh lima beans the last few summers. They gave us this summer’s batch last weekend, and so I sat in front of the TV watching Jerry Maguire and shelling these babies for what I hoped to be some fabulous suppers. Somewhere along the way, lima beans became one of my very favorite foods, so I’m almost embarassed to admit how excited I was :)

What we Loved: We both adored this meal. I really loved everything about it, from the salty and creamy lima beans to the lemony fresh, nicely browned perch (such a fantastic, light fish!) to the nutty Parmesan. All of the flavors went so well together and resulted in a light summery meal that I really just can’t wait to make again. It’s perfect for a weeknight because it’s so easy, and I just love any type of dinner that is served all together in a bowl. I don’t know what it is, but those kinds of meals always tend to be my favorites.

Helpful Hints: Make sure to have a very hot pan when sauteeing the fish. Perch filets are small, and they cook really quickly. If the pan and butter aren’t hot enough, you won’t get any browning on the fish before it’s done. And the browning adds some great flavor.

Lemon Pepper Perch with Lima Beans
Source: Original Recipe
Serves: 2

8 small perch filets, room temperature
Lemon pepper
Kosher salt
2 cups lima beans, shelled
2-3 tablespoons butter
Juice from 1/2 small lemon
Parmesan cheese, shredded

1. Place the lima beans in a sauce pan, and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Cook the beans for 30-40 minutes until tender. If using frozen, cook according to package instructions.

2. Drain the beans, then return them to low heat. Mix in a pat of butter and the lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and keep warm.

3. Season the fish with salt and lemon pepper. Heat a pat of butter in a saute pan until very hot. Add the filets, skin side up, and cook for 1-2 minutes until a nice brown crust starts to form. Flip, and cook for 1-2 minutes  more.

4. Serve the fish atop the lima beans, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese.

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Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Avocado Salsa

Inspiration: This is one of those recipes from my list of old blog posts that really needed a re-do! I first made this recipe a couple of years ago when I had just started blogging, and it’s still one of my very favorite fish recipes. Now that we’re into July  (I can’t believe it!), we’re right in the heart of grilling season, and we love this recipe because it’s so fresh, light, and easy for a summer weeknight supper.

What we Loved: The avocado salsa in this dish is out of this world. I absolutely love it. It’s rather simple to make, but something about the mix of ingredients is just perfect. You’ve got spicy peppers, creamy avocado, fresh cilantro, tart lime juice, a little bite from the red onions, and just a touch of salt. With all of those great ingredients atop a perfectly crispy, slightly blackened and spicy grilled fish, this really is the perfect dinner that just screams summer to me. I’d definitely list this as one of the top two or three fish dishes that we’ve ever made.

Helpful Hints: I’d really recommend using a hungarian hot pepper or anaheim pepper rather than substituting a different kind. The fresh, mild flavor of the pepper is one of my favorite parts of the salsa. The salsa recipe actually makes a lot more than you need for two fish filets, but I’d still recommend making the full batch because it’s really fantastic. We just pile the extras on our plate and eat up :)

Grilled Mahi-Mahi with Avocado Salsa
Source: Adapted from Laylita’s Recipes 

For the Fish
2 mahi-mahi fillets 
Extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black pepper
sprinkle of salt 

For the Salsa
1 avocado, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
3-4 slices of red onion, sliced thin
1 hungarian hot pepper (or anaheim pepper), seeded and finely chopped
Juice from 1 lime
A handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
Salt to taste 

1. Mix the coriander, cumin, paprika, onion powder, black pepper, and salt together. Rub the mahi-mahi fillets with a good drizzle of olive oil and the seasoning mix, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. 

2. Combine the avocado, red onion, hot pepper, lime juice, cilantro, and salt in a bowl and mix well, chilling until ready to use. 

3. Grill the mahi-mahi until cooked through and crispy on the outside. Serve the fish topped with the salsa.

Shrimp Saganaki

Inspiration: Saganaki piqued my interest when I first stumbled across it, and it’s been on my list ever since. I would love to go to Greece some day for the real thing, but in the meantime, trying out some recipes at home is pretty fun, too. Saganaki refers to the small pan that the meal is traditionally cooked in, so this recipe is actually a variation where the meal is baked in single serving dishes.

What we Loved: There’s something charming about dinner served in your own indiviual dish right out of the oven, isn’t there? Served that way, everything in this recipe stayed nice and hot all through dinner, with the cheese melting down into the rich tomato sauce as we ate.  With the fresh seafood flavor of the shrimp, a little kick of heat from the red pepper, and that nice and earthy oregano flavor, this was really a delicious supper. I couldn’t get enough of that rich tomato sauce!

Helpful Hints: Make sure to use enough salt in the sauce, as it really needs a good amount to bring out all of the other flavors. I think it’s best to taste as you season until it’s salty enough.

Shrimp Saganaki
Source: Adapted from Closet Cooking

Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tomato, seeded and chopped
~1/2 of a 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon oregano
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup crumbled feta
1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed

1. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan. Add the onions, and saute until soft. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, and cook for an additional 30 seconds.

2. Add the tomato, crushed tomatoes, and oregano, and simmer until the sauce thickens, approximately 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Add the shrimp, and simmer for about 1 minute while stirring.

4. Transfer the mixture to individual baking dishes. Top with feta cheese, and bake for 10-15 minutes in a preheated 400 degree oven.

Sea Scallops with Jalapeno Cream Sauce

Seared Sea Scallops with Jalapeno Cream

*Photo updated March 2012*

Inspiration: Brandon and I love stopping at our favorite wine/beer/cheese store after work and perusing around, picking up a case of seasonal beer from a local brewery or a cold white wine for dinner that night.  But as for our regular grocery shopping, I’m not a huge fan, so I try to limit it to a quick trip once a week on an uncrowded weekday. Lately, I’ve been planning a fresh seafood recipe for my grocery shopping nights each week. Since you really need to cook fresh seafood on the day that you buy it, I used to avoid buying it and instead stocked up on frozen seafood. Planning seafood for my grocery shopping nights has been a great way for me to get more fresh seafood into our meal plans.

What we Loved: As always with Rick Bayless, this recipe definitely didn’t disappoint. He compares the sauce to a sort of Mexican alfredo, and I don’t think that I could describe it better. It’s spicy and garlicy, with the wonderful tomato flavors of a creamy Mexican salsa. Unlike other Rick Bayless recipes that I’ve prepared, this one is perfect for a weeknight because it only takes a minute or two to prepare (aside from marinating time). We really loved this dish served with fresh avocado slices, which were perfect topped with Kosher salt and dipped into the rich sauce.

Helpful Hints: The sauce in this recipe would really work well on just about any protein that you’d like. Rick Bayless recommends shrimp as an alternative, but I also think it’d work great on a pan-seared chicken breast or with a nice white fish like mahi-mahi. I also think that you could try this recipe with all different kinds of salsa (Rick Bayless has a good handful of Frontera varieties) to find which one that you like the best as the basis for the sauce.

Seared Sea Scallops with Jalapeno Cream
Source: Rick Bayless

I adjusted the ingredient amounts to serve two. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

8 large sea scallops
Juice of 1 small lime (about 2 tablespoons)
Kosher salt and black pepper
1/2 bottle Frontera Jalapeño-Cilantro Salsa
1/4 cup cream
Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. Rinse the scallops, and place them in a bowl with the lime juice and a liberal sprinkling of salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate for an hour. Remove the scallops from the marinade and pat dry.

2. Heat a good pat of butter over medium high heat in a saute pan, enough to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the scallops, making sure that they’re not crowded, which will cause them to steam instead of sear.  If necessary, cook the scallops in two batches. Saute the scallops until they’re browned on one side, about 2-3 minutes. Flip and sear for only 2-3 minutes more. Remove the scallops to a foil-covered plate.

3. Return the pan to the heat and add the salsa. Stir for a couple of minutes to thicken. Reduce the heat to medium-low, and stir in the cream. Cook until heated through and thickened, and season to taste with salt.

4. Serve the scallops and sauce topped with cilantro.

Fish Filets Amandine

Fish Filets Amandine

*Photo Updated June 2012*

Inspiration: We can never have too many fish recipes, especially in the spring and summer months. Something about the nice weather just screams seafood and white wine.

What we Loved: Brandon and I both immediately categorized this recipe as one of our top 2-3 everyday fish recipes. The flavors were just fantastic. I used roasted and salted almonds in the sauce, which made it nice and salty, and that’s always a plus in my book. The sauce also had a great citrusy fresh flavor from the lemon/cilantro and a nice richness from the butter. When I make a recipe twice in one week, we know that it’s a good one. And this is a great weeknight meal because it’s very easy to make and pairs wonderfully with some simply sauteed vegetables and white wine.

Helpful Hints: The nice thing about this recipe is that I think it will work well with almost any kind of fish that you prefer. I’ve made this recipe with mahi-mahi, flounder, swordfish, and whitefish, and we really enjoyed each version. I think that it would work really well with something like salmon, too, or even chicken if you’re not keen on fish.

Fish Filets Amandine
Source: Adapted from Williams Sonoma

2 fish filets (mahi-mahi, swordfish, tilapia, whitefish, salmon…)
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper
1/4 cup almonds, chopped
2-3 tablespoons butter
Juice from 1/2 lemon
1/8 cup fresh cilantro, minced

1. Season the fish filets with salt and pepper. Add a couple of pats of butter to a saute pan over medium high heat. When melted and hot, add the fish filets, and saute until cooked through, approximately 4 minutes per side. Transfer the fish to your individual serving plates.

2. Add another nice pat of butter, the lemon juice, the cilantro, and the almonds to the pan. Mix to incorporate, and heat through. Spoon the sauce over the fish.

Seared Tuna with Sesame Seeds

Inspiration: B and I had this sesame tuna when we were out for restaurant week in our city earlier this year. Appetizer, dinner, and dessert for $25 at a ton of restaurants in town. This meal was way out of my comfort zone at the time, but it was on the special restaurant week menu at a seafood and martini bar that we went to, so I had to give it a try. And you know what? It was one of the best meals that I’ve ever had in a restaurant. I loved it. Ever since, I’ve been thinking of trying to make it at home, but I’ve been a little hesitant since I’ve never cooked with tuna before. I finally gave it a try last night, and I’m so glad that I did! This is one of the easiest and fastest fancy main dishes that you can make, and my homemade version tasted just like the restaurant version. I’d go so far as to say that this is one of my favorite main courses of all time.

What we Loved: Well, it’s obvious already that I really love this dish. Tuna is such a fabulous and delicious fish, and this recipe is all about highlighting that fresh seafood flavor. The fish is served nearly raw, with just a nice sear on all sides, and the sesame seed coating offers a fantastic salty compliment to the fish. I just love that salty crunch! The fresh fish flavor and the salty crust work so amazingly well together that you really don’t need anything else.

Helpful Hints: I would caution not to overcook the tuna. It really needs to be very rare and only needs about two minutes total in the pan. It’s hard not to think that you need to cook the steaks longer, but I definitely wouldn’t make this recipe (and spend the money on the expensive fish) unless you’re comfortable with the steaks being nearly raw. Also, I had some difficulty finding black sesame seeds in the grocery store. I wandered over to the international aisle, and they had black and white sesame seeds in the Asian section with some other sushi ingredients (including wasabi powder, which I bought to make a wasabi viniagrette to serve over some arugula and avocado as a side dish). If you have trouble finding everything that you need in the spice aisle, I’d give the international aisle a shot. And if you like wasabi, it pairs really well with this dish, as do avocados.

Seared Tuna with Sesame Seeds
Source: Inspired from a local restaurant, with the how-to and side dish ideas taken from Use Real Butter

2 6-8 oz fresh tuna steaks
Black sesame seeds
White sesame seeds
Kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil

1. Mix an equal portion of black sesame seeds and white sesame seeds in a shallow bowl with a generous bit of salt. Coat the tuna steaks in the mixture, adding more sesame seeds and salt to the bowl if necessary.

2. Heat some oil in saute pan, enough to generously coat the bottom of the pan. When the oil is hot, add the tuna steaks using kitchen tongs.

3. Sear for 45 seconds on each side. Using kitchen tongs, sear all of the shorter sides/ends of the steaks for 5-10 seconds each.

4. Slice and serve.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo

Inspiration: I’ll admit, one of my favorite things about recipes that call for wine is that we get to enjoy the rest of the bottle with dinner. Now that spring is here, we’ve been craving meals that pair well with white wine and have been going through white wine like crazy. It just tastes so good right now!

What we Loved: This recipe had a great, spicy kick! B and I both thought that there was just enough spice for it to be an integral part of the dish without being overpowering. I really love spicy foods, but I always hate when a dish is too ridiculously spicy to actually taste what you’re eating. The spice level with this one was just perfect! Combined with the light flavors of the shrimp, vegetables, and fresh basil, this was really a great springtime meal with a nice edge. We enjoyed it with some broccolini and a few glasses of sauvignon blanc.

Helpful Hints: The original recipe calls for the basil to be mixed into the sauce, but I always feel like the flavor of basil changes a lot when it’s mixed into a hot dish. We like the fresh and crisp qualities of basil when it’s used as a topping or garnish, but if you’d like to mute the flavors a little bit, you could chop the basil much smaller and mix it into the sauce.

Shrimp Fra Diavolo
Source: Giada De Laurentiis

I only made a few changes to the recipe. Here’s the recipe as I made it.

1 lb shrimp, peeled, deveined, and tails removed
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, sliced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
1/3 cup dry white wine (I used sauvignon blanc)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Handful of fresh basil leaves, sliced

1. Toss the shrimp in a bowl with the salt and red pepper flakes. Heat a drizzle of olive oil in a saute pan, add the shrimp, and saute until just cooked through, about 2 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a plate and set aside.

2. Add the onion to the same pan, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices, the wine, the garlic, and the oregano. Simmer until the sauce thickens slightly, about 10 minutes.

3. Return the shrimp to the pan, tossing to coat.

4. Serve, topped with the fresh basil.