Posts Tagged ‘best tilapia recipes’


Watching Good Morning America over the brim of my coffee cup yesterday, I listened while Joe Manganiello discussed the history of his romance with then-girlfriend now-wife Sofia Vergara. Sofia, for those of you who have lived on a desert island with no media access since 2009, portrays the curvaceous hot younger wife of Ed O’Neill on Modern Family on prime time ABC.

Manganiello was asked if there was any truth to the rumor he’d written a forty page book dedicated to his lovely lady. He acknowledged in fact he had created such a book to mark the occasion of the anniversary of their first date. Really? No, I mean it, really? First, amazingly he knew what date they first met, and secondly he’d conceived such a personal and lovely way to show his love for her. Insert awwwww right here ladies. Go ahead, I’m right behind you. During that first year he created a photo journal documenting their travels, where they ate, evenings they shared, events they attended and included all these moments in her gift. Wow. I’m seeing a gold star in his future and much, much more.

Women, at least those who populate my life, love a little romance. A continual diet would be delightful but historically, at least in my world, a whiff here and there can get one by. I have found quite often the overtly romantic overtures get tossed out with the wilted flowers following the exchange of wedding vows or linger on in a paler shade until the first diaper is purchased at Walmart. After that day-to-day life tends to insinuate itself and romance often takes a back seat to bills, work, school, rearing children, taking the dog to the vet and generally everything else that fills the average person’s day.

Romance does not have to come with a high price. Surely in the tax bracket Joe Manganiello’s income falls under the man could afford to give his bride an extravagant vehicle or an obscenely large diamond. Instead, he chose to present her with a gift that took time, thought, and creativity. To me, this is a far richer gift to receive. However, if you’ve put a down payment on my metallic silver Porsche I’ll still accept delivery. Who am I to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I consider myself a low maintenance girl. Rick might tell a different tale, but I don’t think so. Many times while writing this blog I’ve talked about missing the princess line when coming into this world. Some women get handed a tiara before heading down the chute. In my case it was a Hoover and a can of furniture spray. Once after I had surgery I took a picture of my ex-husband vacuuming. When on my feet again I had the picture blown up and framed thinking this to be the only way I was ever going to see him doing it again. Turns out my intuition I was spot on.

There are many ways to show your love not involving a trip to the mall or a shopping spree on-line. A happily married neighbor recently commented on weekends her husband brings her coffee and her paper and on Sunday serves her brunch. Small concessions perhaps, but speaking of them made her smile.

After you’ve cohabited for a while the rules of the game tend to loosen a bit. Once you’re not working anymore these rules become downright loosey goosey. When we first met Rick would show up at my door in a crisply pressed shirt and pants for a night out. In turn, I would open the door wearing perhaps a dress and heels or an outfit appropriate for the occasion and off we would go. Living together day in and day out makes continuing this “dressing up” unless you are going to work every day a bit impractical. No way am I whisking eggs in a silk blouse nor am I chasing dust bunnies from behind the toilet in heels and hose. Not going to happen today, and tomorrow isn’t looking good either.

Don’t misunderstand me I don’t show up at the breakfast table looking as if I have recently been dragged behind a speeding vehicle either. Each morning, unless I’m ill, I put on makeup, do my hair, take a shower, and pull on a clean pair of jeans or shorts and a nice top. Every several weeks we also make a point to go out together and do something fun away from the persistently ringing phone and the household day-to-day. Always when we come home I feel refreshed and our relationship feels refreshed as well.

It’s easy to sink into a rut. Takes some work to keep the bloom on the rose and time to keep a relationship thriving and happy.

When you think about it stopping to pick up on a card when it isn’t a holiday (even better making one yourself), throwing together an unexpected brunch on a weekend, or simply acknowledging how much your appreciate your partner really isn’t asking much.

This fish is moist and delicious.

Baked Tilapia with Cherry Tomatoes

4 Tilapia filets
1/2-1 Tbsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
Kosher salt
2 Tbsp. butter cut into 12 squares
1 container of heirloom cherry tomatoes, sliced thick or in half
2 zucchini cut lengthwise in thin spears
1 lemon sliced thin
2 tsp. chives
Olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Lay out four squares of tin foil large enough to make a taco shaped pocket. Pat filets dry with paper towel. Generously season on both sides with Cajun seasoning (more or less depending on preference), pepper, and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Place one filet in center of each foil square. Place 3 butter squares on top of each filet. Top this with one-quarter of the tomatoes and the zucchini. Place a slice or two of lemon on each pile and sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp. of chopped chives. Drizzle a little olive oil on top of each.

Seal the foil bringing up the edges like a taco making sure to seal edges firmly. Bake in oven for 20 mins. Open carefully and plate.

Serves 4

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final2Had company over the weekend. An old friend whom I haven’t had a chance to visit with in about four years. It was great to catch up. As Rick would say, there wasn’t any stale air during the 48 hours she was here. Old friends are the best. Not that I don’t enjoy the new ones in my life. I certainly do. Fun to get to know their stories and learn more about them as your friendships progress. Old friends, however, know where all the skeletons are buried and continue to love you in spite of this. That’s a nice thing.

My oldest friend, Pattie, also my first sister-in-law, has been in my life since I was eighteen. Often in a leaky boat, she and I have weathered some impressive storms together. Over the years we have said goodbye to my husband, her oldest brother, shared quarters on two occasions, watched each other’s children, reveled in good times and survived the bad along the way. There is little she doesn’t know about me, other than what is still to be written. When we are together there is no necessity for pretense. We are, as they say, who we are.

Our youngest children, both boys, were born two weeks apart. At the time they were born between us we had a four year old, a two and a half year old, a one year old, and two newborns. Living in Southern California when I conceived, five months into my pregnancy my husband was offered a job in the Seattle area. Bellvue, Washington to be specific. A lovely place to be, if rainy. When he accepted the position we were unaware our timing was off. The aerospace industry providing jobs to Seattle and surrounding cities was about to hit a rough spot creating massive layoffs and a sinking economy. People were abandoning the Puget Sound like lemmings bailing off a cliff. Signs outside apartment buildings with too many vacancies read “free stereo when you sign a lease”, or “three months free rent”. Landlords were practically paying prospective renters to move in.

Already established with an obstetrician and a toddler at hand, we decided my husband would relocate first. Arrangements were made for my daughter and I to stay with my parents until the baby was born. At the time this seemed like a plan. However, having my mother fussing about me like a bee tending a freshly bloomed daffodil proved a bit daunting particularly with the mood swings prevalent when pregnant. If I burped she dialed 9-1-1.Both my children were born in the heat of summer. Those of you planning on conceiving in an area known for hot summer months need to think about this when orchestrating such an event. Contrary to rumors pregnant women do not blossom or glow in extreme heat. I’m just sayin. Well, your body blossoms. Oh, and your feet, though you rarely see them, would serve adequately as flotation devices. No glowing is involved in 100 degree heat other than if you count the glistening sweat extruded while extricating your bulbous frame from wherever you might be seated.

As the due date rolled around I found I was well past ready. Two weeks later I was eying the salad tongs. Perpetually late once born, my little guy didn’t disappoint when he was due to arrive. Three weeks to the day beyond his projected arrival date he issued the first signal he was ready to make an appearance. Thinking it was the brussels sprouts from dinner the night before rather than a labor pain, I tagged along to the market with my mother. Standing in the vegetable department my water broke. Mother, losing her mind, ran about the fruit bins screaming, “a baby’s coming”, “a baby’s coming”. Paul Revere couldn’t have alerted the citizens any better. True to her shopping gene she stopped at the cashier on the way out and asked if they’d hold her basket and it’s contents until later. Okay.

Six weeks after my son, a healthy 6 pound 13 ounce boy, came into the world my husband arrived to gather his new family and take us to Washington. A two bedroom apartment with a view was waiting for me. Just settling in, a pink slip arrived with his paycheck and fifty other employees three weeks later. There we were. Jobs at a minimum, moving once again had to be considered. Fortunately he had not signed a lease so our options to move were open. But where?

Once again I packed up a house, two babies, and hopped in the car. With thirty-seven moves to my credit now, though I did not know it at the time this was to become a familiar experience during my life. Not sure what our next move might be we accepted an invitation to stay temporarily with Pattie, her husband, and their three children in the Bay Area. While there we were to share expenses, look for work and a place to hang out hats.

Arriving at the small house in Sunnyvale, California it became quickly evident the job and the hat hanging better be sooner than later. For three months four adults and five children, four and under, cohabited the small three bedroom home. The noise level at feeding time rivaled a jet engine before takeoff. Pattie, a Tupperware dealer, had every kind of container known to man. We devised a system of feeding and shared housework that actually would have served a commune well.

Her husband, a police officer, worked the night shift. When he went to work, we took over the bed. Pattie, came to bed with him when he got home and I watched the babies while my husband scanned the want ads. Looking back at it now I get anxiety thinking about it, yet when we talk of those times it is with affection.

Three months after we arrived we all breathed a collective sigh of relief as the last of our belongings were packed into the car. Oddly enough I missed the crazy days there for a while before settling into my own life once again.

I have been fortunate enough to have friends over the years who I have received help from and been able to offer help to.  People having your back make life a little easier when going through tough times.

This tilapia is crispy and delicious atop the greens. Yum.

Cajun Fried Tilapia and Spinach and Veggie Salad


4 tilapia filets
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup cornmeal
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1 1/2 tsp. paprika
1/4-1/3 cup yellow mustard
Oil for frying
Lemon wedges

Pat fish with paper towels. Whisk together remaining ingredients except mustard. Slather each filet on both sides with mustard. Coat with flour/cornmeal mixture. Place in refrigerator for 1 hr. to set breading.

Heat 1/2″ oil in large heavy frying pan over high heat. Add fish to hot oil and crisp to light golden brown on both sides (about 4-5 mins. per side depending on thickness of filets). Fish should be flakey but not dry.

Spinach and Veggie Salad

1/2 lb. fingerling potatoes, halved
1/2 lb. fresh green beans, trimmed
1/2 lb. fresh asparagus
3 cups baby spinach
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/4 cup green onions, sliced
Salt and pepper as desired
Red wine vinaigrette

Cover potatoes in large pot. Bring to boil. Reduce heat and cook uncovered for 20 mins. or until fork tender. Drain and keep warm or warm up prior to assembling salad.

Cook asparagus and green beans in covered water until fork tender but still crisp. Drain. Keep warm or warm up prior to assembling salad.

In large bowl combine spinach, tomatoes, green onions, cooked vegetables and as much dressing as desired. Season with salt and pepper and toss well. Arrange on plate and place fish on top with lemon for squeezing.

Serves 4

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Looking at our world I see it divided at the most basic level into two types of people. Realists and romantics. Some may straddle the fence between the two, but for the most part I see a clear division. Realists see the world in stark black and white, while romantics view it in muted shades and varied hues. Truly, I am a romantic. Realists might see a bad situation as just that and love as an illusion. No matter how dire the situation I imagine it improving down the road, and no matter how bad the break-up, I can envision another, better relationship forming after it. Go figure.

A friend is going through an extremely rough patch of water in his relationship. Amazingly he comes to me from time to time for counsel. Not the first time I’ve been called on for romantic advice certainly. It happens on a surprisingly regular basis. Why people would assume a woman with four marriages and numerous relationships has any clue about how to proceed on this subject is beyond me. Perhaps they ask me, listen to whatever wisdom I might impart, and then move in exactly the opposite direction from where I have pointed my finger to go. I have no answers for this.

What makes for an enduring relationship? If I knew the answer to that my latest book (of which there is none) would be featured on Oprah’s Book Club, book signing gigs lining up as we speak. What do I think makes for an enduring relationship? Endurance. Those of us willing to stay the distance. One of my aunts remained with the same partner throughout her life. Three sons were born during their time together. My uncle traveled a great deal with work. Perhaps absence does make the heart grow fonder? I cannot speak with the truest knowledge on the subject not being a fly on the wall. They shared a strong belief in family. Over the years, though living on opposite sides of map, I had the opportunity to come together with them and their growing brood. Observing them through my eyes I would say it was endurance that bound them together, with tolerance providing the glue to keep those ties strong.

Neither my aunt nor my uncle were perfect by any standard. Both were good people, I believe, or at least good intentioned. Imbued with all the basic flaws we humans seem to possess, I would describe both parties as strong-willed people with often opposing views sharing common goals. As I said, family was important to both of them. My uncle was successful at his chosen profession, and my aunt outwardly at least seemed satisfied with her role remaining home with her children to guide them into adulthood. I’m sure there were fights and bumps along the way but whatever occurred once the doors were closed and the lights out, they still chose to remain together until his death a decade ago which in and of itself is something to said.

Some relationships can be patched and remain seaworthy. Others have been patched and tarred so many times when tested on choppy waters they cannot remain afloat no matter how much bailing is done to keep them above the water line. When to cut the lines and abandon ship is always a difficult call. When I have had to leave a relationship it has never been easy. Both parties, whether the one wanting to leave,  the one left behind, or if it is a joint decision, suffer the loss. Divorce or severing a relationship is high up on the stress scale with death of a loved one and loss of income or job. Figure children into the equation and the loss is on a larger scale adding another level of hurt feelings and a deeper need for soul searching before making a final split.

At best, relationships are puzzling. Love is like an incurable disease which causes us pain yet we endlessly desire to be infected by it. Psychologists spend hours with patients on their couches examining it, dissecting the parts of it, and leaving much on the table when all is said and done to still be understood.

Would I want to be twenty again and begin the journey in search of it anew? I don’t think I would. Love has brought me so much joy balanced with some real darkness. Would I rather be in love than out of it? Sign me up for the latter.

Hearts are showing up on the card stands. Love, love, love is in bloom as spring lurks around the corner.

These fish filets were absolutely lovely (to quote Canadian). Light breading and soooo flavorful. Yum.

Baked Cajun Tilapia with Spinach Romano

Baked Cajun Tilapia

4 tilapia filets
3/4 tsp. paprika
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
3/4 tsp. onion powder
3/4 tsp. Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. basil
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp. chives, chopped
1 Tbsp. parsley flakes
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. butter
1 1/2 lemons

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Spray casserole dish with cooking spray.

Rinse filets and pat dry.

Mix together all ingredients through cayenne pepper. Reserve 4 Tbsp. and place rest of seasoning mix in small bowl.

Place filets in prepared pan. Using 4 tsp. reserved seasoning mix sprinkle 1/2 tsp. on each side of filets.

Mix together the rest of the seasoning mix, breadcrumbs, chives, parsley flakes, and olive oil until well blended. Dredge filets in crumbs.

Place in pan. Top with 1/4 Tbsp. butter. Bake for 8 mins. turn over. Top with 1/4 Tbsp. butter and 1 slice of lemon. Bake for 8 mins. or until flakey. Squeeze 1/2 lemon over all.

Spinach Romano

2 pkg. chopped spinach, cooked and drained
1 Tbsp. butter
2 tsp. lemon juice
1/3 cup freshly grated Romano cheese
Salt and pepper to taste

Mix together all ingredients. Place in microwave on high for 1 min.

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Photo by Susie Nelson

Photo by Susie Nelson

Last night I had an In-N-Out burger “animal style”. Yum. In high school I contributed a good deal of my allowance money to In-N-Out and never lost the taste for their delicious burgers over the years. To give them all the credit they deserve, they’ve never lowered their standards using fresh ingredients and delivering a terrific product every time. The original stand I frequented was just that, a stand. Basically it was set up for drive through customers, although there was a small window at the front of the small boxlike building, where customers could order if on foot. Music blaring from our stereos, tuck and roll freshly installed from Tijuana, we cruised through after catching a movie at the drive-in or roller skating for a late night cheeseburger with grilled onions and a large fry, washed down with a soda or a suicide (a deadly concoction of coca cola, root beer, 7-up and anything else with a spigot attached to it). No wonder Clearasil did a big business back in the day.

Unbelievably, I can remember getting a McDonald’s cheeseburger and fries for about $.30. When I babysat, which I did often during my high school years, parents paid me $.50 an hour for the privilege of watching their little ones. Married not long after I graduated, I could feed my new husband and myself on a budget of about $15 a week, barely covering a loaf of bread and a jug of milk at today’s prices.

I mention this because I went to the grocery store yesterday. This is not unusual as is obvious by this blog, but it certainly is getting more expensive. Handing over $65.82 I got in return two bags, neither containing meat other than a half a pound of deli peppered turkey. Amazing. I wanted turmeric for a recipe I was working on. I found it appropriately in the spice aisle on sale for $7.99. Really? I hope it comes with a steak. Waving a fond farewell to the turmeric I decided instead to do something different with my chicken with the impressive array of spices already found in my cupboard.

It used to be I went to the store and purchased what was written on my list. With the drought pumping up the prices on nearly everything I need, I’ve turned to grocery outlet stores and double coupon days to help bring the cost of food down to a manageable place. Mentioning the soaring prices to the checker as I placed my two bags in the cart he said, “don’t forget the price of gas”. Thanks for reminding me.

Our middle class is fading into the background with jobs flourishing for low-income employees as well a higher paid executive positions. Advancing technology is phasing out many jobs formerly done my middle-income employees with a high school education, or high school plus a few years of college. Many middle-income jobs are being rerouted overseas where products can be produced at a fraction of the price by employees happy to work for pennies on the dollar. It is not unlikely the grocery clerk reminding me about the rising gas prices may someday be replaced by a computerized system at the checkout stand.

Lately there is a lot of buzz about reeling in some of the technology we’ve come to know and love. It is deemed unhealthy for little ones easily addicted to tablets with colorful pictures and animation before pulling on a pair of Dora the Explorer training pants. How do you reel in a revolution so warmly embraced by everyone from the diaper set to their great-grandfather Skypeing his grandchildren from the nursing home? It would be like taking away a pacifier from a crying baby. It wouldn’t be pretty.

Apps are popping up quicker than spring flowers. They range from helping police officers locate the closest donut establishment to capturing a picture of the food on your plate and determining your caloric intake taking into account what you’ve already put away for the day. We’re on the line, the hook is set and we’ve been reeled in. People are tiring of the constant clicking and chattering cluttering up their daily lives, unable to capture a moment of their children’s attention away from the glittering screen in front of them. Technology companies are amassing huge fortunes in their coffers riding on the surge of technology flooding the market devoured by consumers hungry for newer and more advanced products finding the ones just purchased obsolete before reading the user’s manual.

Where will we go from here? It boggles the mind. I watched a story on the news about a device implanted in several spinal injury cases which actually sends pulses to the brain allowing them to walk again and feel their previously inanimate limbs. Wow. Had we seen it in a movie in the 70’s we would have considered this all merely a work of Hollywood fiction. Hal, for me, in 2001 a Space Odyssey, was a bit unnerving but perhaps not so far fetched. What if we create machines so smart they outsmart their inventors? Cue Rod Serling now.

It is becoming an interesting, frustrating, often dangerous, and unpredictable world we live in. Always filled with incredible beauty and mother nature in the background toying with us playing her incessant games. Hopefully, the prices will level out as I’d like to try that recipe with turmeric down the road I’ve been eying. For today, it is to be in the 80’s, the tulips are blooming in the yard, and I’m headed out for a walk.

Panko Crusted Tilapia with Spinach Salad


4 tilapia filets
1 1/2 cups Panko bread crumbs
2 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. garlic salt
1/2 tsp. salt
2 egg whites
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
Canola oil
Tartar sauce

Pat tilapia dry. Mix together Cajun seasoning, black pepper, garlic salt and salt. Sprinkle evenly over filets. Whisk together egg whites and Dijon mustard in shallow dish. Place bread crumbs in another shallow dish.

Coat each filets with egg white mixture then thoroughly dredge in bread crumbs.

Heat 1/2″ of Canola oil over high heat until shimmering. Add fish to pan and cook until golden brown on both sides. Drain on paper towels. Serve with tartar sauce.

Serves 4

Spinach Salad with Mustard Dressing

1 pkg. baby spinach
2 hard boiled eggs, sliced
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion
6 large button mushrooms, sliced thin

Toss all ingredients with dressing or plate decoratively and pour dressing on top.

Mustard Dressing

1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 red onion
1 garlic clove, minced
2 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Add all ingredients to food processor. Process until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.

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