Category Archives: Under 30 Minutes

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce

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Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce

This one is DEFINITELY going on the regular rotation at our house.

Do you see this deliciousness?

Crispy fried tilapia with a sweet and spicy coconut-curry sauce on a bed of fluffy jasmine rice.

Oh.

My.

Heavens.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

See this Pin on Pinterest!

Have I already told you about my tilapia obsession? I haven’t?

Let me count the ways I love tilapia:

  1. It’s abundant. I don’t think I’ve ever had trouble finding tilapia in a grocery store. You may not think this is a big deal,  but to me it really is. Doesn’t it drive you nuts when you have EVERYTHING you need for a meal in your cart but come to find out that the store doesn’t have some crucial ingredient? Granted, some of you may say that tilapia is easily substituted because white fish is white fish is white fish, but I disagree. Tilapia is not only white fish,  (wait for it)…
  2. It’s cheap. Mega-cheap. My mom is always telling me that back in “the day,” fish was very inexpensive and was considered a “working man’s food.” Of course as people started buying more and more of it (because it was cheap), the price has inflated over the years. I’m so glad I took those graduate-level economics classes so I could gain a basic grasp of supply and demand. While “fresh” tilapia can certainly set you back a pretty penny if you’re buying out of the fish case at a Whole Foods, I’ll let you in on a little secret… (wait for it)…
  3. It’s freezer-friendly. Aren’t we all a little obsessed with freezing things lately? It seems like 90% of the recipes I see re-pinned over and over again are either crockpot recipes or freezer recipes. I buy four-pound bags of frozen fillets at my local Fred Meyer (Kroger) for about $10. Each fillet is about 4 oz, which means that for about $10 the husband and I can each eat four fish dinners (yay, math!). Other than being incredibly cheap, frozen tilapia provides me an extra advantage in the kitchen…
  4. It’s quick to thaw, and quick to cook! *Technically* I don’t think the food-governing-lords recommend thawing fish any other way than overnight in a fridge (seriously, who has the foresight for that?), but I like to just toss mine in the sink, cover it in room temperature water, and let the magic happen. I’ve been using this method for years and have never had any issues. It thaws in about 5-10 minutes, which means I can have absolutely NOTHING planned for dinner, then 10 minutes later I am cooking away.

Which brings us to today’s special presentation of Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce. This meal rocks my world in so many ways.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

Let’s make another list, shall we?

  1. Tilapia (see above).
  2. Thai Food (duh).
  3. Under 30 minutes.
  4. Low-Calorie.
  5. Delicious.
  6. Every ingredient comes from either the freezer or the pantry. Which means I can put absolutely no forethought into making it. <— This is KEY.

Ready for the magic?

Let’s begin.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 (4 oz) tilapia fillets
  • 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. wok oil (grapeseed or vegetable oil work great, too)
  • 1 (14oz) can light coconut milk
  • 2 Tbsp. panang curry paste (or any red curry paste)
  • 1/4 c. water
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2-4 whole wild lime leaves
  • Jasmine rice, cilantro and lime wedges for serving

Directions:

  1. Pat each of the fish fillets dry with a paper towel, then cut into quarters. Stir together the flour and pepper in a pie plate or shallow dish. Place the fish pieces into the pie plate a few at a time and coat them with the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and set aside.
  2. Heat the wok or vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, lay half of the fish pieces to the pan in a single layer. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side, until crisp and brown. The fish doesn’t need to be cooked all the way through at this point because it is going to simmer later on. Once crisp, remove from pan and set aside. Repeat this process with the remaining half of the fish pieces.
  3. Reduce the heat to medium and wipe out any excess oil in the pan, then add half a can of coconut milk. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the coconut milk is hot and foamy. Add in the curry paste and stir for about 2 minutes to work it into the coconut milk, using the back of a wooden spoon to break up any large pieces.
  4. Add the rest of the coconut milk, as well as the water, sugar, fish sauce, and lime leaves (if using). Stir for one minute, then return the fish pieces to the pan. Spoon the curry sauce over the top of the fish. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 10-12 minutes, or until fish has cooked through. Discard lime leaves.
  5. Garnish with cilantro, and serve on a bed of jasmine rice with lime wedges for squeezing.

Crispy Tilapia in Curry Sauce from If Looks Could Kale food blog.

See this Pin on Pinterest!

 

Nutrition (includes fish and sauce):

275 calories, 14 g. fat, 23 g. protein, 15 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 7

Thai Pork with Spicy Green Beans

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Thai Pork with Spicy Green Beans

I have a serious phobia about trying new things at restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love checking out new restaurants and have no problem ordering whatever sounds good to me, but when it comes to ordering something different than what I got the first time I was there, I’m a total wimp. When I already know that something is good, why would I take a risk and order something different? What if it doesn’t taste good and I just waste a bunch of money?

The absolute worst case of order-changing-phobia I’ve ever had was at this little Thai place in the town where I went to college. The first time I tried Thai food I ordered chicken with cashew nuts, and it has been my absolute favorite dish in the WORLD ever since. In all seriousness, it took me YEARS to order something different. I finally got tipsy brave one night at dinner and decided to order something different.  I went with pad prik king, also known as chicken with spicy green beans, and it was divine. Prik king itself is actually a type of curry , like panang or massaman. In Thailand the husband and I saw prik king used “dry” (meaning without coconut milk) to saute meat and vegetables. While chicken and green beans is the most common combination seen here in the states, moo paht prik king, or pork with spicy green beans, is a delicious alternative.

An absolute cinch to make, this dish comes together in under 15 minutes so be sure to start your rice ahead of time!

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Side note: I recently found myself on the rice aisle at the local Asian supermarket deciding between a ten or twenty-five pound bag of jasmine rice. I think I have a problem.

Okay, back to the pork: Do you see that delicious sauce nestled underneath the green beans and pork? It is just begging to be soaked up by some rice. Never skimp on the rice.

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You don’t need any special equipment or ingredients to make this incredibly easy dish at home. I’ve included the traditional elements below, but I’ve also added notes about simple substitutions you can make if you don’t have a particular ingredient on hand.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 2 Tbsp. grapeseed (or vegetable) oil
  • 3 Tbsp. prik king curry paste (or use any red curry paste, such as panang, massaman, or regular “red”)
  • 1lb. boneless pork loin, very thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 1/2 c. fat free chicken broth
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. palm sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4 wild lime leaves*, halved (or serve with lime wedges)

Directions:

  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil and toss in your green beans. Let cook for about 3 minutes, then strain and rinse with cold water.
  2. Heat the sesame and grapeseed oil over medium-low in a large skillet. Add in the curry paste and stir for 2-3 minutes until the paste is well combined with the oil. Use the back of a wooden spoon to work the two together.
  3. Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the pork strips. Stir the pork around to evenly coat in curry paste for a minute or two, then add in the broth, fish sauce, wild lime leaves (if using), and palm sugar. Stir well to combine.
  4. Add the green beans to the pan and saute for another 3 minutes.
  5. Serve with lots of jasmine rice!

*The lime leaves are pictured as a garnish, in case you are wondering what they look like.

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Nutrition (per serving):

308 calories, 18 g. fat, 27 g. protein, 10 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

What are your favorite Thai dishes? I’d love a challenge!

Tropical Thai Chicken Curry

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Tropical Thai Chicken Curry

Have I mentioned lately how much I adore mango? Or pineapple? Or Thai Food? It seems like it has been a few days so I figured I had better bring it up again, just to really drive my point home.

After my amazing and life-changing trip to my neighborhood “Oriental Supermarket” I am absurdly stocked up on awesome ingredients for some upcoming Asian and Indian dishes.

I wasn’t planning on writing a post about this Tropical Thai Chicken Curry, but after I started eating it I realized that it needed to be shared with all of you. This afterthought explains why these photos aren’t particularly awesome, or well-light, or in-focus, as I was hurrying to get them done so I could continue eating.

Anyway, you can just use your imagination and believe me when I tell you that it tastes good and looks good “in real life,” as they say.

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Ready to send your taste buds on an epic journey? Okay, let’s begin.

As always, start by prepping your ingredients.

Before anything else, get your rice going.

Then, cut up about a cup of fresh pineapple using your handy-dandy pineapple tool. Or, if it’s the middle of winter and/or you’re lazy like me, you can use the canned stuff.

Core a mango with your handy-dandy mango corer and dice the mango into bite-sized pieces. Or, do it the old fashioned way by holding the mango upright so it is balancing on the end opposite the stem, then use a sharp knife to slice from top to bottom along one of the flat sides of the mango, pressing inward toward the pit to save as much flesh as possible. Repeat on the opposite side, then turn the mango and remove the flesh from  the remaining two ends. Pick up one of the two larger pieces you cut and score it using your knife in a grid pattern, being careful not to cut through the skin. Use both hands to turn the piece of mango inside out to push all of the scored pieces up away from the skin. Use your knife to simply slice them off the skin. Repeat with remaining pieces.

Slice your chicken against the grain into the thinnest pieces you can manage.

Now, get out a wok or heavy-bottomed skillet and heat over medium-high. Pour in half a can of coconut milk and let it begin to foam as it heats. Add some red curry paste and stir to get it all worked in. Add in some fish sauce and palm sugar (brown sugar works nicely as a substitute), as well as a few whole lime leaves. I’m using wild lime leaves, but if you don’t have any just extract the juice from half a lime and set it aside for later. If you’re using lime juice, wait until you turn off the heat to add it in so it doesn’t turn bitter.

Add the rest of the can of coconut milk and some water and give it a good stir. Let it cook for a few minutes while you prepare some fresh basil. Simply stack a few basil leaves on top of one another, then roll them up tightly before slicing them lengthwise into ribbons. Set aside.

Add the chicken, pineapple, and mango to the curry and reduce heat to a gentle simmer (medium-low or low heat, just enough to keep the surface stirring but not at a boil). Let the curry cook for another five minutes or so until the chicken is cooked all the way through.

Turn off the heat, remove the lime leaves, then add the fresh basil leaves (and lime juice if using). Serve alongside lots of jasmine rice.

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Here’s the handy recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 (14oz) can of Coconut Milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. Red Curry Paste
  • 2 Tbsp. Fish Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. Palm Sugar (or brown sugar)
  • 4 Wild Lime Leaves (or juice from half a lime)
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 1 Lb. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast, sliced thin
  • 1 c. Fresh Pineapple, chunked
  • 1 Fresh Mango, peeled and diced
  • 1/3 c.  Fresh Basil Leaves, sliced

Directions:

  1. Heat half a can of coconut milk in a wok or heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat until foaming.
  2. Add curry paste and stir to combine. Add fish sauce, sugar, and lime leaves* and let cook for one minute. Add remaining coconut milk and water.
  3. Add chicken, pineapple, and mango to the curry and let cook for 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat to simmer and continue to cook for five minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  4. Remove from heat. Remove wild lime leaves* and stir in the sliced basil. Serve with jasmine rice.

*If you don’t have access to wild lime leaves, simply use the juice from one half of a fresh lime. Add it at the very end, after removing the curry from heat.

Nutrition (per serving):

442 calories, 27 g. fat, 28 g. protein, 27 g. carbs, 7.5 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 10

Peanut Panang Beef Curry

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Peanut Panang Beef Curry

The thing I love most about Thai cooking (other than devouring the end result) is how incredibly easy it is. Very few recipes call for techniques more advanced than basic knife work, mixing, and stir-frying.

Maybe that’s why I never really got into French cooking; it’s simply too much work! Plus I don’t like French food.

Once you have the basic methods down for making a stir-fry, soup, fried rice, and curry you can exercise your own creative tendencies and make just about anything you like.

The majority of recipes calling for curry paste can easily be adjusted to accommodate whichever kind you have in your cupboard. I try to keep five different varieties on hand: Red, Green, Yellow, Massaman, and Panang.

This Peanut Panang Beef Curry is delicious, simple, and richly satisfying.

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While I’ve listed traditional Thai ingredients below, I’ve also included substitutions for those without access to all of the items listed.

You’ll want to serve this dish with rice to soak up all of the peanutty-goodness, so be sure to get a pot going before you start on the beef as the curry comes together very quickly. See my tip below about using the leftover coconut milk to make the rice! A green salad on the sides makes this a complete meal.

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 c. coconut milk, divided*
  • 2 Tbsp. Panang curry paste**
  • 1/2 c. water
  • 2 Tbsp. fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. palm sugar***
  • 3 wild lime leaves****
  • 1/2 lb. boneless beef (such as tri-tip), very thinly sliced crosswise into 2-inch strips
  • 3 Tbsp. ground peanuts*****
  • 1/4 c. basil leaves, preferably “Thai” or “Holy” basil, roughly chopped

Directions:

  1. Pour a half cup of coconut milk into a wok or skillet set over medium-high heat. Once hot and foaming, add the Panang curry paste and use the back of a wooden spoon to break apart any large chunks. Stir the curry paste and the coconut milk until fully combined.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and add the rest of the coconut milk as well as the water, fish sauce, palm sugar, and lime leaves. Let simmer for a few minutes then add the thinly sliced beef and stir.
  3. Cook the beef, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes. Add the ground peanuts and reduce the heat to low. Stir to combine the peanuts with the curry.
  4. Just before serving, turn off the heat and remove the wild lime leaves. Add the basil leaves and stir. Serve with rice.

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*When I have a recipe that calls for just part of a can of coconut milk, I like to use the leftovers to replace part of the water used to make rice. It really adds delicious flavor and texture to the rice and keeps me from finding wasted Tupperware containers of coconut milk in the back of my fridge.

** Substitute red curry paste or Massaman curry paste if you don’t have Panang.

*** Use brown sugar if you don’t have palm sugar.

**** Wild lime leaves make all the difference in the world, but the curry will still taste delicious without them. If you can’t find any, substitute 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice.  If using lime juice instead, add it at the very end along with the basil.

***** I threw some peanuts in my food processor until ground, but you could also use regular peanut butter.

Nutrition (per serving):

292 calories, 22 g. fat, 15 g. protein, 12 g. carbs, 2 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 8

Kiwi-Tomatillo Salsa Verde

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Kiwi-Tomatillo Salsa Verde

I absolutely adore “Salsa Verde.” Whenever the husband and I visit the little taco shop by our house (which is very, very frequently) we both make sure to load up on little containers of salsa verde to liven up our tacos.

Earlier in the summer we were in San Diego for the wedding of two of our good friends and we ate at a local Mexican restaurant for the rehearsal dinner. The salsa verde was delicious and inspired me to try something creative with a recipe of my own.

I thought that adding some kiwi fruit into the mix would be a grand idea. The salsa verde remains in the green color spectrum, while the sweet fruit complements the tangy tomatillos.

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It’s really important to roast the tomatillos before adding them to the recipe. This brings out the robust and sweet flavor and cuts some of the tangy acidity found in raw tomatillos.

Simply husk, rinse, and quarter your tomatillos and place them in your oven to broil until roasted. Transfer to a food processor with peeled kiwi fruit, cilantro, onion, jalapeno, sugar, and lime juice then pulse until chopped but not liquefied. Season to taste with salt.

The easiest way to peel a kiwi is to begin by cutting off both ends with a sharp knife. Place one of the cut-sides down on a cutting board and use the knife to peel from top to bottom, working your way around the fruit.

Here’s the handy recipe:

Makes: 4 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 lb. tomatillos
  • 1 kiwi fruit, peeled
  • 1/2 c. white onion, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 c. cilantro leaves
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers stemmed, seeded and chopped
  • Salt to taste

Directions:

  1. Remove the husks from your tomatillos and rinse in cold water. Cut them into quarters and place on a greased baking sheet. Set your oven’s broiler to high and place the pan in the oven. Check every two or three minutes to turn the tomatillos and make sure they aren’t burning. Remove from oven when they have a nice brown color.
  2. Meanwhile, place the peeled kiwi, chopped onion, cilantro leaves, lime juice, sugar, and Jalapeño peppers in a food processor or blender.
  3. Add the roasted tomatillos to the food processor and pulse until all of the ingredients are combined but not entirely pureed. You want some little lumps in there.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt. Chill in fridge for 30 minutes before using. Try this as a dip with tortilla chips, or use it to top your favorite tacos, enchiladas, or tamales.

Dig in!

Nutrition (per serving):

77 calories, 2 g. fat, 2 g. protein, 15 g. carbs, 4 g. fiber. WW PointsPlus: 2

Elderflower Sangria

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Elderflower Sangria

Sangria is one of those wonderfully easy drinks you can throw together at a moment’s notice if you have unexpected company or just feel like snazzing up your regular wine routine. I’ll just go ahead and assume you have a regular wine routine. And that it’s okay to use the word “snazzing.”

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I made this light and refreshing Sangria to go along with the Latin Pork & Tomatillo Stew I brought to a friend’s birthday party. I usually grab a bottle of red wine when I’m craving sangria, but today I thought starting with a dry white wine would make a nice change.

I made the husband pick up a bottle of St. Germain (elderflower liqueur) a few weekends back to make elderflower mimosas for my sister’s birthday. Unfortunately Luckily I had also made a (delicious!) batch of lavender lemonade that morning so the elderflower liqueur went mostly untouched. This left me with the majority of a bottle of elderflower liqueur and no specific plans for it. I’ve just been casually adding it to stuff the past few weeks because it is DELICIOUS. It’s not cheap, but it so fun and fancy. And yummy. And did I mention delicious?

 

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I’m practically swimming in cherries at my house so I pitted and halved a few to include with the plums and blueberries.

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My basic method for making sangria includes a bottle of wine, some fruit, something fizzy, and some type of sweet liqueur. I particularly love doing a red wine sangria with ginger ale and limoncello!

I liked that this sangria wasn’t overly sweet, but if you prefer yours on the sugary-side I’d suggest adding extra triple sec.

Bottoms up!

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Makes: 6 Servings

Ingredients:

  • 750 ml. (1 bottle) dry white wine (I used an un-oaked chardonnay)
  • 1.5 oz orange liqueur (triple sec)
  • 3 oz. Elderflower liqueur (I used St. Germain)
  • 1/4 c. blueberries, halved
  • 1 red plum, sliced thin
  • 1 c. cherries, pitted and halved
  • 2 c. unsweetened sparkling lime water (if you can’t find this, just use club soda and lime juice)

Directions:

  1. Mix the first 6 ingredients.
  2. Let the flavors mingle.
  3. When you’re ready to serve, add the bubbles pour!