Sunday, February 26, 2012

Recipe: Panko-Crusted Cod

I'm not the biggest fish fan in the world. But I'm warming up to it as I try different types of fish or recipes for fish that I find that I like. Last night we decided to try using panko crumbs and tried this recipe for Panko-Crusted Cod. It was delicious! We served it with brocolli (another food I'm trying to warm up to) and it was such a tasty meal. If you haven't tried panko crumbs yet, or if you haven't tried putting them on cod, you have to try this recipe!

Panko-Crusted Cod
Recipe from the Washington Post

1 cup panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs....we found we needed less than 1 cup)
Freshly grated zest of 1 medium lemon (we left this out and didn't miss it)
1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley
4 4-6 ounce skinless cod fillets, preferably at least 1 inch thick (we only had 3 filets)
1/4 teaspoon salt to taste
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard, or more to taste
Nonstick cooking oil spray, for the crumb topping
Approximately 4 tablespoons lemon juice, for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375*. Use aluminum foil or parchment paper to line the bottom of a baking dish or rimmed baking sheet large enough to hold the fish fillets in a single layer.

Combine the panko, lemon zest and parsley in a shallow baking dish; mix well.

Use paper towels to pat the fillets dry. Place them skinned (darker) side down on the lined baking dish or sheet, then sprinkle lightly with salt.

Use the mustard to evenly coat the tops of the fillets. Working with one fillet at a time, invert each one onto the panko mixture, pushing down gently so the crumbs adhere to the mustard coating. Return the fillet to the baking dish or sheet and repeat with the remaining fillets. Use nonstick cooking oil spray to lightly coat the fillets crumb topping.

Bake for about 12 minutes, until the fish is cooked through (based on a guideline of 10-12 minutes cooking per inch of thickness). Transfer to the stove top (off the heat) while you preheat the broiler.

Position the top oven rack 4-6 inches from the top broiling element; preheat the broiler.

Broil the fillets for 1-2 minutes, just to brown the crumb topping.

Meanwhile, spoon about 1 tablespoon of lemon juice across each individual plate. Add a splash of olive oil (about 1 teaspoon), and then lay a fillet on top of each portion. Serve immediately.

Recipe: Caramel Layer Chocolate Squares

Here is a recipe for one of my favorite easy-to-make desserts. It is perfect to take to a potluck or a gathering of friends. I recently made it to share with my Bible Study group. It was a hit! I like to stock up on caramels right after Halloween when they are 50% off. Makes this easy, cheap dish even easier and cheaper!

Caramel Layer Chocolate Squares
Recipe from GirlTalk

1 (14 oz) pkg caramels
1 pkg German Chocolate cake mix
3/4 cup butter, melted
2/3 cup evaporated milk, divided into equal portions
1 cup chocolate chips

Combine caramels and half of evaporated milk. Cook over low heat, stirring often until melted and smooth. Grease 9x13 pan. Combine dry cake mix, butter and remaining evaporated milk and chocolate chips. Stir just until mixe. Press half of dough firmly into pan. Bake 6 minutes at 350*. Spread caramel mixture all over. Top with remaining half of dough. Spread gently to cover. Bake at 350* for 15 minutes. Let stand until cool before cutting. Eat and enjoy!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Some Sappy Songs for Valentine's Day

I'm a sucker for sappy songs. I don't know why. I just love 'em. So, in honor of Valentine's Day, here's a few songs to enjoy:

Everything - Michael Buble

Lucky - Jason Mraz & Colbie Caillat

Love Story - Taylor Swift

Would You Go With Me - Josh Turner

All Your Life - The Band Perry

Walk Me Down the Middle - The Band Perry


Monday, February 13, 2012

Brad Paisley Concert (AKA, Happy Birthday to Me!)

Last week, I turned 25. This, in and of itself, is a tad scary. Twenty-five. One Quarter of a Century. Kind of makes you think....where will I be in another 25 years. I have some ideas of where I want to be. But where I will actually be, only God knows. I have a feeling those next 25 years are going to fly.

I did something super fun for my birthday. I went to a Brad Paisley concert. Oh, it was amazing. But, did I mention that his opening act was The Band Perry? And did I mention that the opening act for them was Scotty McCreery? Yes, that Scotty. The American Idol. Who I voted for all season long. To say I was excited for the whole concert would be putting it mildly.

Since pictures are worth 1000 words, here's several thousand words to tell you about the concert:

I went with several friends. We neglected to take a group photo, but I took a picture with each of the girls. I won't share them all but here's me with one of my dear friends (who never dreamed she would go to a country concert, by the way).

You can guess who was singing first. :)

 The Band Perry. Oh, how I want Kimberly Perry's hair. I love it. :)

 This was how Brad started his concert. They called it the Virtual Reality tour for a reason.

 Yes. This is Carrie Underwood. And forget Kimberly Perry's hair. I'd rather have Carrie's. I said before the concert that the only thing that could make it better would be if Carrie Underwood was there, too. You can imagine my screams of delight once I thought she was, indeed, there. Forget the fact that it was just a hologram and she wasn't, in fact, there...just a projection of her image, that looked eerily realistic. Remember that "Virtual Reality" thing I mentioned earlier? Yeah. They weren't kidding.

My boy, Scotty McCreery. What a kid. 17 years old and owning that stage like he's been on big country tours his entire life. The kid will be huge someday, just wait.

*Sigh* That birthday will be hard to top.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Snowflake Ball

About a year and a half ago, I took up a new hobby.....I learned how to ballroom dance. Now, granted, most of my friends have been dancing for many years, but for one reason or another I didn't really care to take it up myself. But then I decided that maybe I should give it a try, and here I am now.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went to an event called the Snowflake Ball. It was held at a local skating rink (no, we were not on skates!) and was a great chance to dress up. In our particular group we had 3 guys and 6 of us girls so a lot of time was spent just watching and taking pictures but that was still a whole lot of fun. :)

Here's a few pictures from the event:

 Pretty centerpieces!

 All the lovely ladies.

 Our whole group. :)

 The guys. Trying to look tough or something.


 :) :) :)

 Ignore the man in the background. He wasn't supposed to be in the picture. :)

Fun times.

Better Than Olive Garden Breadsticks & Salad

We had lasagna last night. Very good lasagna, too. My mom also made breadsticks that taste pretty darn close to Olive Garden breadsticks, and I remembered that, since I have mentioned these absolutely amazing breadsticks to a few friends in the past, I was supposed to share the recipe with a few people so I figured I'd post it here for all of you.

Almost-Famous Breadsticks
1 package active dry yeast
4-1/2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon fine salt

3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Pinch of dried oregano

1. Make the dough: Place 1/4 cup warm water in the bowl of a mixer; sprinkle in the yeast and set aside until foamy, about 5 minutes. Add the flour, butter, sugar, fine salt and 1-1/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons warm water; mix with the paddle attachment until a slightly sticky dough forms, 5 minutes.

2. Kneed the dough by hand on a floured surface until very smooth and soft, 3 minutes. Roll into a 2-foot-long log; cut into 16 1-1/2 inch long pieces. Knead each piece slightly and shape into a 7 inch long breadstick. Arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Cover with a cloth; let rise in a warm spot until almost double, about 45 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 400. Make the topping: Brush the breadsticks with 1-1/2 tablespoons of the butter and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt. Bake until lightly golden, about 15 minutes. Meanwhile, combine the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of salt with the garlic powder and oregano. Brush the warm breadsticks with the remaining 1-1/2 tablespoons melted butter and sprinkle with the flavored salt. Enjoy!

And while we are at it, here's a recipe to make a really good salad to go with those breadsticks:

Almost-Famous Garden Salad
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
3 tablespoons mayo
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 bag American salad blend
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
4 small pickled peppers, such as pepperoncini (I would skip this, personally, but if you like hot peppers, go for it)
1 tomato, sliced, quartered or however you prefer it
2 tablespoons sliced black olives
1/2 cup croutons
1 tablespoon grated parmesan cheese

1. Combine all the dressing ingredients and 1 to 2 tablespoons of water in a blender or food processor. Puree until smooth.
2. Place the salad blend in a large bowl and top with the remaining salad ingredients. Drizzle with the dressing and enjoy!

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Books Read in January 2012

I decided to keep track of the books I read during the month of January. I started out the month by reading the day away, so got to thinking it might be interesting to see how many books I would end up reading, as well as how many pages. I think you'll see a common trend in the books I read during the month of January:

1. Sunrise (Karen Kingsbury) - 301p.
2. No Distance Too Far (Lauraine Snelling) - 351p.
3. A Heart For Home (Lauraine Snelling) - 356p.
4. Love Finds You in Valentine, Nebraska (Irene Brand) - 303p.
5. Summer (Karen Kingsbury) - 338p.
6. Someday (Karen Kingsbury) - 309p.
7. Sunset (Karen Kingsbury) - 307p.
8. Leaving (Karen Kingsbury) - 316p.

That is a total of 2,578 pages this month! And as you can tell, I enjoy the Christian Fiction genre and the Historical Fiction genre. I enjoy those types of books because when I read them it is a chance to escape into another world for awhile without having to use too many brain cells....a good chance to relax. :)

What is your favorite genre? Favorite book?