Sunday, February 16, 2014

Home cooked meals

My  new kitchen is officially set up!  We still have so much unpacking to do, but getting the kitchen functional was really important to me.  Eating out was really starting to get old, and I have been eager to try out some new recipes.  Here are the first 3 I tried:

1)  Broiled Tilapia Parmesan- this recipe is one of the ones I cut out of a All Recipes magazine.  I have never cooked fish before, so this was a new challenge for me.  I was also a bit hesitant because growing up we always had a gas stove.  My apartment and our house both have electric stoves.  I miss my gas stove because I am always making everything boil over on the electric cook tops.  Hopefully, I'll get used to it, but I would love to someday get a gas line and go back to the type of stove I grew up on.  The reason I am mentioning this difference is I recently learned that the broiler on a gas stove is quite different from an electric one.  Our broiler at home was in the drawer at the bottom of the stove.  However, on an electric oven it is at the top of the oven, on top of your top rack!  Who knew?  Thank goodness for my sister-in-law who showed me how it's done.   So, back to the fish.  It was actually super easy to do and it came out so moist and flaky!  This is a recipe I will definitely make for us again.

1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup butter, softened
2 TBSP lemon juice
3 TBSP mayo
1/4 tsp basil
1/4 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp onion powder
1/8 tsp celery salt
2 pounds tilapia filets

1. Preheat the broiler.  Grease a broiler pan or line with foil.
2.  In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayo and lemon juice.  Season with basil, pepper, onion powder, and celery salt.  Mix well and set aside.
3. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan.  Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes.  Flip them over and broil for a couple more minutes.  Remove from the oven and cover with cheese mixture on the top side.  Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and the fish flakes easily.

Overall, we really enjoyed my first attempt at homemade seafood!  And now, as an added bonus,  I know how to use the broiler.

2) Pasta Primavera- This meal was also pretty easy to make.  I changed up the original recipe and used tri-color tortellini, instead of the suggested fusilli.

2 packages of tricolor tortellini
4 cups of broccoli florets
3 carrots sliced thinly
1 red bell pepper cut into strips
4 TBSP cold, unsalted butter
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of chicken broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 TBSP parsley
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Cook the pasta as directed.  Add broccoli, carrots, and bell pepper during the last 3 minutes of the pasta cooking.
2.  Make the sauce while the pasta cooks: Heat 2 TBSP butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring until it begins to soften.  Add the broth, salt and pepper.  Bring it to a simmer and cook until slightly reduced, about 3 minutes.  Whisk in remaining butter, until melted and the sauce thickens, about 1 more minute.
3.  Pour the sauce over the pasta and vegetables.  Add the cheese, parsley, and lemon juice.  Cook over low heat, stirring until the cheese melts about 1 minute.  Season with salt and pepper and top with more cheese.

We liked this a lot!  It was fun to have a pasta that was different from my usual tomato sauce!

3) Chicken with Peaches & Orzo- This recipe was from Better Homes & Gardens.  It claims to cost only $3.29 a serving, which sounds good to me!

8oz orzo
1 lb of chicken
peaches cut into wedges
2 TBSP olive oil
4 oz of feta cheese

1.  Cook orzo as directed.
2.  Lightly brush chicken and peaches with the oil.  Season with salt and pepper.  You can either grill it for 4 to 6 minutes or fry it in a pan.  I fried it in a pan since it was snowing out (just like everyday lately), and I used my meat thermometer to make sure it was cooked thoroughly.
3.  In a large bowl, combine the orzo, chicken, and peaches.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle the feta cheese on top.

The peaches and feta had such a unique taste together.  The sweetness of the peaches combined with the saltiness of the feta created a really nice combination.

So I asked Tom to please rate my new recipes from 1 to 5 stars so my blog readers could decide if they were worth trying.  He says all three recipes deserved 5 stars.  Even with repeated prompting to be honest, he's still claiming they all deserve a five.  So you will have to decide for yourselves!  That is why I love cooking for Tom so much, he always eats everything happily!  And my dad went home with some of the leftovers today, and he too is a great eater of anything I make!

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