Steamed Lime & Cilantro Tilapia w/Dark Soy Sauce

One of my favorite fish dishes is from my Tita Cora. Tita Cora (aka ‘Auntie’ Cora, my husband’s first Aunt) usually makes a steamed fish often for the holidays or just get togethers throughout the year. She uses various kinds of fish, but the flavors of lime, cilantro and ginger are always the same. Tita Cora is an amazing cook, as she should be since she had her own Filipino restaurant for many years.

This recipe is one inspired by my Tita Cora. I had some whole tilapia that have been scaled and gutted ready to use… so preparing similarly as Tita Cora was the first thing that came to mind. I don’t know how often you cook or prepare whole fish as some folks don’t feel comfortable with dishes that stare back at you. But having grown up around dishes that stare back at me, this is pretty normal to me and takes me back to my ethnic cooking roots.

Steamed Lime & Cilantro Tilapia w/Dark Soy Sauce
original Joelen recipe, inspired by Tita Cora

1/2 cube shrimp broth cube
1 thumb fresh ginger, sliced
2-3 cups water
1-2 small whole tilapia fish, gutted & scaled
1/2 bunch fresh cilantro
1 lime, sliced
salt & pepper to taste
1/4 cup dark soy sauce
1/4 cup canola oil

– In a large bottom dutch oven or wok, add water, shrimp broth cube and sliced ginger.
– Place bamboo steamer on top of wok or metal collapsable steamer in your dutch oven.
– Season tilapia with salt & pepper on both sides. Place in steamer.
– Top tilapia with fresh cilantro.
– Place lime slices over the cilantro.
– Cover and let fish steam until done; 15 to 20 minutes. Remove and place on serving platter.
– While fish is on serving platter, in a small sauce pan, heat oil and soy sauce. Let it come to a boil to thicken and set aside.
– Pour mixture over fish and serve hot with rice.

Tostaditas with Black Bean & Scallop Ceviche

Tostaditas with Black Bean & Scallop Ceviche
(sadly, no picture available since we ate it all up!)


For the black bean spread:

original Joelen recipe
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
2 tablespoons finely minced cilantro
3 tablespoons light sour cream
salt & pepper to taste

In a bowl, mash black beans to paste, leaving it slightly chunky for texture.
Add remaining ingredients and fold in until combined and incorporated; set aside.

For the ceviche:
adapted ceviche recipe courtesy of Food Network
1/4 cup lime juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cilantro
1 teaspoon honey
1/4 pound fresh diver-harvested sea scallops or any other fresh scallop of high quality
1/4 cup diced red or yellow onion
1/2 minced, seeded jalapeno
1 plum tomato, seeded, finely diced
2 tablespoons fresh minced cilantro leaves
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Combine lime zest, juice, and spices. Set mixture aside. Clean and wash the scallops, then cut each 1 in 1/2 lengthwise. Add scallops to lime juice mixture, stir well and set aside in cooler. Add the vegetables and cilantro to the scallop mixture. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and chill at least 3 hours.

To prepare & assemble the Tostaditas:
prepared black bean spread
prepared scallop ceviche above
tortilla chips
1/2 cup sour cream
1-2 tablespoons water

Spread black bean spread on a tortilla chip.
Top with scallop ceviche.
Combine sour cream and water in a small bowl and drizzle over the top of the tostadita.
Serve immediately or have guests make them as they eat.

Mexican: Light & Refreshing

For dinner tonight, a friend came over to catch up on girltime. I prepared a quick dinner that was light, flavorful and used what I had on hand, since the hubby to the car to work today. (And it was a perfect chance to cook beef for myself since my hubby doesn’t eat beef!) With that said, here’s what I came up with and was pleasantly surprised what a little creativity can do!

Mexican Steak “Pitzas” with Cilantro Cream

1 lb beef flank steak, finely chopped
1/2 large onion, finely diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon southwest seasoning
1 teaspoon Sazon con Cilantro seasoning
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 tablespoon canola oil for cooking
4 gyro pitas
1/2 cup shredded mexican blend cheese
1/2 finely diced tomatoes
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup low fat sour cream
2-3 tablespoons water

– Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
– In a skillet over medium high heat, add the cooking oil, onions and garlic; saute until softened.
– Add the beef and seasonings and cook until browned.
– Meanwhile, place your gyro pitas on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 5 minutes to soften the pitas. Remove the pitas from the oven and set aside.
– When the beef has cooked thoroughly, carefully spoon the beef over the warmed pitas to cover completely.
– Top the beef with the shredded cheese and bake in the oven for 5-10 minutes until cheese has melted.
– While the pitas are baking, prepare the cilantro cream by combining the cilantro, sour cream and water. Season with salt & pepper to taste.
– When the pitas are done baking, remove from the oven and top with the cilantro cream and chopped tomatoes; serve.

Tex Mex Quinoa Salad

1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 chicken breast, boiled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1 stalk green onion, sliced
2 japelenos, finely diced
1 can sweet kernel corn, drained
1 can black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup lime juice
1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add the quinoa and chicken broth. Cook until done and set aside.
Meanwhile, add the remaining ingredients in a large bowl and toss.
Add the slightly cooled quinoa to the bowl and toss
Season with salt & pepper to your taste.

A Margarita Sandwich…

In an effort of eating “clean” and healthy these days, here’s a dinner that adds some fun. I came across this recipe for Margarita Chicken. It seemed interesting and easy so I gave it a go. I did add about 1 tablespoon of McCormick’s Baja Citrus seasoning to give it some additional kick. We loved the flavor this chicken has. But rather than serving it on a plate with just some veggies, I figured making a panini with whole wheat bread would allow us to incorporate some fiber into the meal. To accompany our panini, I roasted some butternut squash with additional Baja Citrus seasoning and some fresh blueberries for sweetness.


Here’s the adapted recipe for Margarita Chicken:

4 boneless and skinned chicken breast halves
1/4 cup tequila
1/4 cup lime juice
2 tbsp. Triple Sec
1-1/2 tbsp. cilantro, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
1 tablespoon Baja Citrus seasoning (dry)

Combine all ingredients in a zip-top bag. Marinate in refrigerator at least 4 hours or overnight. Grill or bake chicken in a 400 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until juices run clear.

Our panini was simple – the baked chicken breast above with lettuce, tomato and a 1/2 slice of low fat swiss cheese on toasted whole wheat bread.

*I’m also submitting this to the Welcome to Wonderland blogging event, hosted by Indigo. Indigo is looking for creative dishes that would be a fit for a fun party. Because alcohol is part of the ingredients, how could this not be a party friendly recipe?! Check out Indigo’s sometime next week for the blogging event round up!*

Shrimp Ceviche

The following recipe was made and shared at my Tapas party. You can read about the event and view links to the other recipes shared HERE.

Shrimp Ceviche
shared at the event by Kurt
recipe from here

1 pound medium-small shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 Tbsp salt
3/4 cup lime juice (juice from 4-6 limes)
3/4 cup lemon juice (juice from 2-3 lemons)
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed, minced
1 cup chopped cilantro
1 cucumber, peeled diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1 avocado, peeled, seed removed, cut into 1/2-inch chunks

In a large pot, bring to a boil 4 quarts of water, salted with 2 Tbsp salt. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute to 2 minutes max, depending on size of shrimp. (Over-cooking the shrimp will turn it rubbery.) Remove shrimp with a slotted spoon and place into a bowl of ice water to stop the cooking.

Drain the shrimp. Cut each piece of shrimp in half, or into inch-long pieces. Place shrimp in a glass or ceramic bowl. Mix in the lime and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate for a half hour.

Mix in the chopped red onion and serrano chile. Refrigerate an additional half hour. Right before serving, add the cilantro, cucumber, and avocado.

Killing Two Birds with One Salsa!

Salsa is quite a popular condiment and in fact, I believe it’s even more popular than ketchup! Today I wanted to try making a variation of the traditional tomato salsa and to use it as a way to kick up the flavor in other dishes. I found a Tomatillo Salsa Verde recipe from Simply Recipes and it worked out beautifully. After I made the salsa, I used it to make Salsa Verde Chicken Quesadillas.

Here’s my adapted version of Simply Recipe’s Tomatillo Salsa Verde:

1 1/2 lb tomatillos
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup cilantro leaves
1 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 Jalapeño peppers, stemmed, seeded and chopped
Salt to taste
pinch of red pepper flakes
2 cloves garlic

Remove papery husks from tomatillos and rinse well. Cut in half and place cut side down on a foil-lined baking sheet. Place under a broiler for about 5-7 minutes to lightly blacken the skin.

Place tomatillos, lime juice, onions, cilantro, Jalapeño peppers, sugar, garlic & red pepper flakes in a food processor (or blender) and pulse until all ingredients are coarsely chopped and mixed. (You can process it finer to your preference but because I planned on using it further, I chose to do it coarsely.) Season to taste with salt. Cool in refrigerator. Serve with chips or as a salsa accompaniment to Mexican dishes. Makes 3 cups.

Using the recipe above, here’s my recipe for Salsa Verde Chicken Quesadillas:

1 1/2 cup prepared salsa verde
2-3 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
stack of flour tortillas
1 cup Mexican blend shredded cheese
cooking spray
sour cream, salsa verde, chopped tomatoes for garnish

In a freezer bag, place salsa verde with chicken breasts. Allow it to marinate for 30 mins.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Place marinated chicken on baking sheet and bake in preheated oven for 25-30 mins.
Remove chicken from oven and cool. When cooled, chop up.
Place chopped chicken in a large bowl.
Add cheese and a tablespoon of prepared salsa verde.
Use chicken mixture as a filling for quesadillas.
Spray one side of flour tortilla with cooking spray and lay sprayed side on hot skillet over medium high heat.
Add 1-2 tablespoons chicken filling on top pof the flour tortilla and place another tortilla on top.
Spray the top of flour tortilla with cooking spray and flip in skillet when bottom is lightly browned.
Continue cooking until filling is melted and quesadilla is lightly browned on both sides.
Service with sour cream, additional salsa verde and chopped tomatoes.

Papaya Salad

The following recipe was featured for my Thai Cooking Class. You can read and view other recipes from the class HERE.

Papaya Salad
Joelen’s recipe
1 tablespoon chili garlic paste
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon shrimp paste or 1/2 shrimp bouillon cube
2 cups shredded green papaya
2 tablespoons roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons fried garlic
1 medium tomato, chopped & seeded
1/2 red onion, sliced
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1/4 cup chopped holy basil (Thai basil)

Combine first 4 ingredients in a small bowl and mix to dissolve for vinaigrette.
Combine all other ingredients in a large bowl and toss with vinaigrette.