A Major (for me) Milestone – My 100th Post!

So as my husband and I are off to galavant around the city of Chicago for a fun-filled wedding weekend, I realized I couldn’t leave y’all hanging without a delicious recipe for your weekend.

And then I noticed something. Something I couldn’t just leave alone.

Y’all, this is my 100th post! As in the 100th recipe or random thought I’ve shared with you.

So obviously, I had to make it a special one.

Well, recently I’ve had a major craving for seafood. Probably because it’s feeling like summer and I love fish during the summer. It’s just light and refreshing. However, I was wanting something a little more “special” that I could whip up for a special date night.

Holy moly people, did I find one! This would be a great recipe to make for a dinner party because it’s tasty, all of the elements take less than 15 minutes each…and it looks preeeeety.

So we’re celebrating a special occasion this weekend, I think you should too!

Sauteed Grouper with Shrimp Sauce (Serves 2 / 8 WW points per serving)

Ingredients

12-14 pieces asparagus, raw

olive oil, salt and pepper for asparagus

For Fish:

2 grouper fillets, 4-5 oz. each

Lemon pepper and garlic salt for sprinkling

2 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/2 Tbsp. butter

1/2 lemon

1 1/2 Tbsp. Worcestershire

Cajun seasoning

For Sauce:

1/2 Tbsp. butter

2 Tbsp. yellow onion, diced

4 oz. artichoke hearts, chopped

1 Tbsp. white whole wheat flour

1/3 cup fat-free half and half

2 1/2 Tbsp. vermouth

2 1/2 oz. cooked shrimp, cut into about 3 pieces per shrimp

Begin by roasting your asparagus. Spray with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 375 for 10-12 minutes. Set aside.

Preheat broiler to low. Sprinkle grouper fillets with lemon pepper and garlic salt, just a dusting on each side. Dredge fish in flour and coat well. Saute in butter for 3 minutes per side. Sprinkle with lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce and Cajun seasoning. Broil 5-7 minutes.

While the fish is cooking, go ahead and make your sauce. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Saute onion and artichokes for 3 minutes until softened. Stir in flour, half and half, and vermouth and whisk until thickened. Add the shrimp and cook another 2-3 minutes until shrimp is heated through.

Step by Step

Add the cooked asparagus to your plate. Top with a fillet of fish, and pour sauce over top.

Plated

I wasn’t sure what the asparagus would add at first, but it really give the flavor a new level – definitely make sure you have some in each bite…

Sauteed Grouper with Shrimp Sauce

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

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Panko Crusted Cod with Tomato Basil Relish

I’m a little bit embarrassed.

Okay, make that more than a little, as this is another tale of how I’m a bad Southerner.

Now, I do have a few redeeming qualities when it comes to my Southern roots. I subscribe to Southern Living. I say “y’all”. I believe in hot barbecue, cold cocktails, loud parties and good manners. And, much to my husband’s detriment, I believe a woman can never own too many sundresses (or matching shoes).

However, in addition to my sweet tea aversion and my ineptitude with pimento cheese (chronicled for you here), up until about 3 weeks ago, I had never owned a cast iron skillet.

There, I said it. Hi, my name is Mary and I’m a bad Southerner…but now I can start redeeming myself! I will say, it was entertaining as my husband I read up on how to “season” a skillet. I suppose another item to add to the list is my lard-less kitchen. Had to settle for vegetable oil.

The silver lining is that you now get to benefit from my new toy! I saw this recipe in the February issue of Cooking Light and ended up modifying it slightly and it was incredibly delicious and pretty easy to throw together!

Panko Crusted Cod with Tomato Basil Relish  (Serves 2 / 7 WW points per filet)

Slightly modified from original recipe, found here.

Ingredients

2 (4-5oz.) cod fillets

1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 egg white, beaten

1/2 Tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning

1/2 tsp. smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp. kosher salt (divided)

1/2 cup grape tomatoes, quartered

1/2 Tbsp. basil (I used dried – I’m sure fresh would be even better!)

2 Tbsp. chopped Vidalia onion

1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

About 1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

Heat oven to 450.

Begin by making your relish. Mix together chopped tomatoes, basil, onion, lemon juice, black pepper and 1/4 tsp. kosher salt together in a small bowl. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Relish

Heat oil in skillet on stove top over medium-high heat.

Add egg white to a shallow dish. In another shallow dish, add mixture of panko, lemon pepper and paprika. Dip fillets in egg white and sprinkle with remaining salt. Press into crumb mixture. When oil has heated, add fillets to the skillet and saute for 4-5 minutes.

Coating

Flip the fish and place the skillet in the oven for 7-8 minutes, until fish is cooked through.

Add fillets to your plate, top with the tomato mixture and voila…

Plated Cod with Relish

You’re ready to eat!

Panko Crusted Cod with Tomato Basil Relish

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Crawfish Fettuccini

Confession – I am a total major sports event junkie.

Obviously, if you know me or have been reading this little blog ‘o mine for a while, you know that I could spend (and do spend!) my Fall Saturdays tuned in to college football. That’s just a given.

I’m talking about sports that I don’t really pay much attention to throughout the year unless it’s a big (read: rivalry or very meaningful) game. So while I read what’s going on and try to keep up with our local Memphis Tigers, I do not feel obligated to watch every single game or keep up with opponents during the season.

But now we’ve entered March Madness…whole different (pardon the pun) ball game. Heck, any excuse to make some festive food and watch sports is cool with me. But this one is different – it’s not one event, it’s days and hours of amazingness!

Like last night, I came home, ran in the door and turned on the TV to catch the very intense last seconds of the Gonzaga game. Then I had to watch the end of the Oregon game.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

Quick meals are a must!

A few weeks ago, I tried a new seafood pasta recipe. It is the perfect recipe for a weeknight because it’s quick, easy and delicious – but it’s fancy enough to throw together for a weekend too.

Oh, right, and it’s WW friendly. Throw in a glass of wine and you’re doing it up right!

Crawfish Fettuccini (Serves 2 / 10 WW points per serving)

Ingredients

4 oz. fettuccini (I used Ronzoni Garden Delight)

1/2 small yellow onion, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1 1/2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine

1 tsp. minced garlic

8 oz. frozen crawfish tails, thawed

1/2 cup fat-free half and half

1/2 Tbsp. paprika

1/2 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning

2 small tomatoes, diced

Tabasco sauce (optional)

Spray a medium skillet with non-stick spray. Melt margarine over medium heat and add bell pepper, onion and garlic. Saute 5 minutes until softened. Stir in crawfish tails and cook another 3-5 minutes until they curl slightly.

Add Crawfish

While the vegetables are cooking, go ahead and boil water for your pasta.

Reduce heat to medium-low. Stir in half and half, paprika and Cajun seasoning. After this step, go ahead and add your pasta to the boiling water.

Add Spices

Cook crawfish sauce for 7-10 minutes, stirring frequently and allowing the sauce to thicken. Add a few drops of Tabasco for a little additional spice. Once your sauce has thickened, reduce heat to low, stir in tomatoes. You don’t want them to cook too much, so do this when you are almost ready to serve.

Add Tomatoes

Drain your pasta and divide among plates. Top with crawfish sauce.

Plated Crawfish Fettuccini

I’d say total time including prep and cooking is 30 minutes. Not too shabby right?

Crawfish Fettuccini

Hope y’all have a great weekend!

Caribbean-Style Crab Cakes

Well, if you haven’t realized it already – tomorrow is Valentine’s Day! (And seriously, if you haven’t – it basically means you never leave your house, turn on your radio, tv or computer – so those of you who I am addressing aren’t even reading this)

Now, I have always enjoyed Valentine’s Day – yes, even when I was single. I loved getting together with my girlfriends and eating ice cream, drinking wine and hanging out. Yes, even when 3 of us went to dinner at a nice restaurant and the server kept asking us if anybody else was joining us…

Well, now that I’m a married woman – the day holds a little more significance. I know it’s a “Hallmark” holiday, but what’s wrong with a day dedicated to love?

I still don’t understand going to a favorite restaurant to be served from a limited menu at double the cost, but that could just be because I tend to be a homebody sometimes. As I’ve said before, nothing beats enjoying a nice fancy meal consumed in the comfort of clothing that involves an elastic waistband.

So if you’re thinking like me (terrifying, I know) and want a special meal in – look no further friends. I bring you a recipe for Caribbean-style crab cakes. You could half the recipe and pair a crab cake with a small steak, or just make the whole batch paired with some roasted parmesan asparagus.

I usually prepare this recipe as an appetizer that makes about 16 servings, but it is just as delicious made just for 2. Now a few of the variations here were to make this recipe Weight Watchers friendly – like Fiber One crumbs – so the mixture is a little more “wet” than most crab cakes.

Caribbean-Style Crab Cakes (Serves 2 for meal / 8 WW points per serving; Makes 16 mini cakes for appetizer / 1 WW point each)

Ingredients

8 oz. crab meat (I go for the “specialty” kind – smaller pieces make it easier)

1/4 cup red bell pepper, diced

1/4 cup green onion, diced

1 Tbsp. Caribbean jerk seasoning

1 tsp. dried parsley

3/4 cup ground Fiber One bran cereal

1 Tbsp. honey

1/4 cup egg beaters

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise

1 Tbsp. margarine

Cayenne pepper for garnish

2 Tbsp. apricot jam

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Begin by chopping the bell pepper and onion. Add to bowl with crab meat, Caribbean seasoning, parsley and cereal crumbs.

Dry Ingredients

Then add in mayonnaise, honey and egg. Mix together until all ingredients are incorporated. Form into 4 large patties – I had some leftover to prevent the patties from being too massive. (You can also form into 16 small patties for appetizers – start with a scoop the size of a ping-pong ball and work it into a patty.) Refrigerate until ready to cook.

Wet ingredients

Heat 1 Tbsp. margarine over medium in a large skillet. When margarine is hot, add crab cakes. Cook 5-7 minutes on medium-low and then flip, cooking an additional 5-7 minutes.

CakesCooked

While cakes are cooking, whisk together apricot and lime.

Apricot Lime

Add crab cakes to plate and sprinkle with a small amount of cayenne pepper.

Plated

Then top with a dollop of apricot-lime sauce…

Cake with Sauce

and devour with a glass of crisp white wine.

Close Up

Have a happy Valentine’s Day everybody!

A Week of Celebration

Do you know what tomorrow is? I mean, other than the day that adorable little Phil will tell us when Spring is set to arrive.

Tomorrow is my blog’s birthday! Or is it anniversary?

Let’s go with birthday since that’s the theme of the week. On Monday I said farewell to my 20’s – so today, as a way of celebrating this lovely occasion, my blog will say farewell to something too. Have you figured out the surprise? Check the top of your computer screen:

www.cookingonthebrightside.com

My blog has its’ own domain name now! Very nerdy of me to be excited about, I know, but hey – if you’ve been with me for a year, you expect it by now, right?

Have no fear – any older links will still take you to your favorite recipe. Now it’s just abbreviated, which means it’s easier to remember for when you’re passing it along to your friends. (Wink wink).

In addition to tomorrow being a very special day for my blog – Sunday is a very special day  for football lovers (like myself) and for food lovers (um, duh) and for those of us who just enjoy fun celebratory occasions in general.

So if you’re hosting a party for 50 on Sunday or just getting together with a small group and maybe tuning in to the Puppy Bowl – here’s a little recipe roundup for your menu planning!

Pre Game

AppCollage

Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins

Buffalo Chicken Meatballs

Buffa-faux Chicken Tenders

Mexican Dip

Skinny Faux-Fried Mozzarella Sticks

The Main Event

Main Course Collage

Buffalo Chicken Soft Tacos

Buffalo Chicken Soup

BBQ Chicken Stromboli

Cheeseburger Soup

Pizza Soup

Spicy Pulled Beef

Turkey Beer Chili

Of course, you can always jazz your party up with a fun theme. I’m talking about New Orleans. So serve up some festively Cajun recipes and throw back a Louisiana-brewed beer  (might I recommend Abita? Light and Amber are delicious!) and you’ll feel like you’re celebrating in the Big Easy!

Lagniappe (translation: a little something extra)

CajunCollage

“Fried Shrimp” with Spicy Sauce (or make some po boys cut up into sliders!)

Cajun Shrimp Casserole

Creole Stew

I hope everybody has a wonderful weekend celebrating – as they say in N’awlins…

“Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Special Occasions

Today is a very special occasion in my household.

One year ago today, on a beautiful Fall day in Memphis, I put on my white dress and my red shoes and married my best friend. It was truly an amazing day from spending the morning with my parents, the afternoon with my favorite ladies, the evening with my husband – and the later hours with our dear friends and family.

Cheers to 1 year and to many more! Love you babe!

 

And then of course ditching everybody to spend a week basking in the sunshine and drinking margaritas on the beaches of Mexico! Hee hee.

Well, in honor of a special day – I thought I’d share a recipe that my husband loves. I’m making a special meal for us tonight – but the hubby recently requested this dish, so I decided to be a good wife and oblige. And okay, I think it’s pretty delicious too! I ran across this one on one of my favorite blogs.

Clams Casino Pizza (Adapted from “How Sweet Eats”)

Crust

3/4 cup white whole-wheat flour

1/2 tsp. yeast

1/8 tsp. salt

1/4 cup warm water

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1/2 Tbsp. honey

Pizza Toppings

4 slices turkey bacon, cooked and crumbled

1/2 Tbsp. olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1 green bell pepper, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

2 tsp. minced garlic

2 tsp. Italian seasoning

A few dollops of Tabasco (we like it spicy people – I’d say we rocked 10-12 shakes)

8 ounces fat-free mozzarella cheese

1/3 cup reduced-fat parmesan cheese

2 cans of minced clams, drained

In a small bowl, add warm water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix and let sit 3-5 minutes. Add flour to a medium bowl with salt. Add liquid to flour and mix well until combined. Knead  2 minutes, cover and let sit 1-2 hours to let dough rise.

When dough has risen, spread out on a lightly floured surface and form into a circle.

While dough is rising, chop your vegetables. Preheat your oven to 375.

Heat olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add your vegetables and saute 5-7 minutes. Add in your garlic and your hot sauce. Then add your clams and half of the crumbled bacon and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat and prepare to assemble your pizza.

Brush pizza dough with olive oil. I added a few shakes of garlic along with my Italian seasoning.

Sprinkle half of the mozzarella on the dough. Top with the vegetable/clam mixture.

Then add Parmesan and remaining mozzarella.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, removing after 10 minutes to top with remaining bacon.

Serve and devour – I know we certainly do! A great twist on a favorite food of ours that super easy to make.

Hope you all enjoy – now I’m gonna go whip up a deliciously sinful feast for the hubby and I that we’ll chase down with year-old wedding cake! (Hopefully better than it sounds!)

 

 

Artichoke and Parmesan Grouper

I realize it’s September, which is “Fall” for some people. I love every single thing about Fall (minus the back-to-school traffic of course). College football is back people! The weather is perfect – I’m a boots, jeans and chunky sweaters kind of gal! Time for bonfires. Beautiful colors. I love my cinnamon and apple candles. Oh, and hello, it means I can start breaking out soups and making chili again!

However, despite Starbucks trying to convince me it’s Fall with the offering of their Pumpkin Spice Lattes, I am not fooled people! Here in Memphis, we are still having days where the heat index is over 100.

Ridiculous, right?

So as long as it still feels like summer, I figure why not make the best of it. I’ve told y’all many times how much fresh seafood reminds me of trips to the coast with my family, so I have an amazing grouper recipe that seriously transports me to the beautiful white beaches!

Now I got the seafood right around the corner at a place called “Paradise Seafood” – which I finally know the name of since I finally got my behind there myself! It’s where my parents have been going for a few months now. Remember that delicious Triggerfish recipe I shared with you? Yeah, that’s the place. But this time, I picked up some massive fillets of grouper. The husband and I made 4 meals out of 2 fillets because they were that huge!

So whether it’s Summer or Fall where you are, I have a feeling you’ll enjoy this either way – especially because it’s very weight watchers friendly!

Artichoke and Parmesan Grouper (serves 4 / 5 points per serving)

24 oz. grouper fillets (can be 2 large cut in half or just 4 small)

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

1 1/2 Tbsp. fat-free mayonnaise

1/4 cup reduced-fat grated parmesan cheese

1/4 cup quartered artichoke hearts

2 Tbsp. reduced-calorie margarine, softened (I use Blue Bonnet Light)

1 tsp. Tabasco (this is just enough spice but still mild – adjust accordingly)

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. black pepper

4 additional lemon wedges (for serving)

Preheat oven to low broil.

Chop artichokes into small pieces. Add to a small bowl with mayonnaise, Parmesan cheese, margarine, salt, pepper and Tabasco. Mix until blended.

Place your fillets in a lightly greased, oven-safe dish and arrange so they all lay flat. Brush all fillets with lemon juice and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.

Add grouper to oven and cook on low broil for 5-7 minutes. Grouper should flake lightly with a fork.

Remove grouper and spread evenly with Parmesan mixture, creating a thin layer over the entire surface.

Return to the oven and broil another 3-4 minutes until the coating is lightly browned and bubbly.

Serve with a glass of chilled white wine, kick back and enjoy whatever weather you are experiencing!