bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Now that Andy is here in New York, I am determined to make sure he eats healthy. Living on his own in Bangkok has led to all sorts of unhealthy eating habits–like eating ham hocks. I brought my South Beach Diet cookbooks when I came back from Bangkok in January, so I looked up interesting Phase One recipes. This one, to my astonishment, included a ham hock and pork loin chops. I decided I would make it without ham hock and pork chop. Though I knew that I could use lean pork tenderloin instead of pork chops there is absolutely no substitute for the meaty smoky flavor of the ham hock.  I had read about the concept of umami sometimes called the “fifth taste” that rounds out the four basic tastes: bitter, sour, sweet, and salty. Umami is savory. I decided to add powdered dry porcini mushrooms because it has an earthy savory flavor. To get back the smokiness I added a few generous twists of Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend. It was perfect.

bolivian spiced grilled pork cutlets with split peas

Bolivian Spiced Grilled Pork Cutlets with Split Peas

Prep time: 30 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes

Split Peas
2 1/2 tablespoons EVOO
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 large onion, chopped fine
1 parsnip, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, finely chopped
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
4 cups chicken broth
1 tablespoon powdered dried porcini mushrooms
1 bay leaf
Trader Joe’s South African Smoke Seasoning Blend
1 1/4 cup split peas, rinsed

Pork Cutlets
Rub
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
3 teaspoons ground cardamom
3 teaspoons ground coriander
1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes
zest of 1 lemon (about 3 teaspoons)
2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon pepper

1 pork tenderloin trimmed of fat and silver and cut into eighths

Make the split peas: In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, heat the olive oil. When it is hot, add the onion, celery, and parsnip. When it starts to sizzle, add the garlic. Cook until the vegetables become softened, about 3 minutes. Add the pepper flakes and cumin. Stir and add the chicken broth, umami, peas, bay leaf, and the Smoke. Let it come to a simmer, reduce the heat to low, and cook about 45 minutes or until the peas are tender. Remove the bay leaf and discard.

Make the pork cutlets: In a small bowl, combine the cumin, cardamom, coriander, pepper flakes, lemon zest, salt and pepper.  Pound each cutlet flat, about 1 inch 1/2 inch thickness. With your fingers, work a half teaspoon of the rub onto each side of one cutlet. Put the cutlet aside on a plate and repeat with the rest of the cutlets.

I grilled the cutlets in 3 batches for 4 minutes per batch in the George Foreman grill. Alternatively, you can cook the cutlets in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray until done. The cutlets are cooked when they reach an internal temperature of 165˚F. I served these cutlets with the split peas, Tennessee-style cole slaw, and tomato-avocado salsa.

pan-fried asparagus with tomatoes and black olives (and bacon bits)

Pan-fried Asparagus with Tomatoes and Black Olives (and bacon bits)
2 pounds thick asparagus spears, ends trimmed
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/3 cup black olives, chopped
2 -4 garlic cloves, sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
1 tablespoon bacon, chopped and fried until crisp, drained (optional)
4 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped (optional)

Trim the asparagus. Hold up one spear and snap off the end. Cut all the other spears to the same length.

Make the tomato-black olive dressing. Use the pan drippings from the pork chops to make the dressing. Over medium heat, fry the garlic in the pan drippings until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the tomatoes and olives. Cook until the tomatoes “spring” water and become wilted. Pour the dressing into a bowl, cover with foil, and reserve.

Cook the asparagus. Rinse out the skillet and dry it with paper towels. Heat 1 tablespoon butter and 1 tablespoon oil. Lay half the spears in the pan in one direction. Lay the other half in the opposite direction. Cover and cook over medium heat until the asparagus turns a bright green, about 2-4 minutes. Remove to a serving dish and pour the dressing on top. Top with cheese, basil, or bacon bits.

soy ginger rice with tofu, edamame, and mixed vegetables

Soy Ginger Rice with Tofu, Edamame, and Mixed Vegetables (adapted from Shape.com)
Tonight is Election Night and it’s a nail-biter, so naturally, I am cooking something vegan! This is a tasty and hearty dish–even my meat lover allows  “it’s all right.” You can use just about any frozen mixed vegetables that you have in the freezer. I had peas and carrots so I used that. And since the ancestor of this dish is fried rice, that’s a sign to use up leftover vegetables too! Don’t be tempted to cook the ginger-garlic-onions in sesame oil. Sesame oil is delicate and is mainly used for flavoring in Chinese cooking, so a little bit goes a long way. 

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

2 cups dry brown basmati rice (rice cup measure)
4 cups reduced-sodium vegetable broth (rice cup measure)
1 tablespoon canola oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 square inch of ginger, minced (or more if you love ginger!)
1⁄2 yellow onion, chopped
12-oz package of firm tofu, chopped
10-oz package frozen mixed vegetables, thawed
1⁄2 cup frozen shelled edamame, thawed
1 cup chopped peppers (red or green for color)
4 tablespoons organic soy sauce (can substitute tamari)
1⁄4 cup of chopped cilantro
1/4 cup scallion, sliced fine
1 small head of kale, deveined and chopped
1⁄4 cup sunflower seeds, optional
1-2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

Preparation:

Cook brown basmati rice in a rice cooker, using vegetable broth instead of water. When it has finished cooking, it can be left on the stay-warm setting.

Cook’s Note: I’ve always cooked rice the way my mother taught me and it works for rice cookers too. I simply put the rice in the rice cooker liner and fill it with liquid until it comes up to the level of my first finger joint (about 1 inch).

In a large Dutch oven,  heat the canola oil on medium-high heat. Then  add the garlic, ginger, and onion. Sauté for 2 minutes, and then add the tofu, stirring frequently with a silicone spatula so as not to break up the tofu, until browned, about 15-20 minutes. Next, add mixed vegetables, edamame, peppers, soy sauce,  and stir.

Cook’s Note: If you forgot to thaw the frozen vegetables, as I did, just put a small saucepan of water on the stove to boil. Add the frozen vegetable until heated through. Drain and add to the pot!

Once the rice is cooked, add it to the vegetable mixture, turn the heat to low, add salt, pepper, and extra soy sauce or tamari if desired. Sprinkle 1-2 teaspoons sesame oil and toss gently. Turn off the heat but do not cover, since the heat will cook the vegetables.

Meanwhile, steam the kale and then toss with sunflower seeds, if desired. Divide into four or six portions. Serve the rice with the kale on the side, and scallions and cilantro for garnish.

Cook’s Note: I love the fragrance of coconut oil. So instead of steaming, I stir-fried the kale in a tablespoon of coconut oil until it turned bright green–no more than 30 seconds. Then I seasoned the kale with Fleur de Sel (sea salt) and red chili flakes.

sunday dinner

I’m in the mood to cook!

There’s still no news that power has been restored at the office. Train service has been restored to Lower Manhattan this weekend, but after a week off from work, I have all this energy that I’m using up in the kitchen.

Autumn Sweet Potato Cakes adapted from http://brokeassgourmet.com/articles/autumn-sweet-potato-cakes Taranee sent me this recipe for baked sweet potato cakes and said that I had to try this. I could not find frozen kale at the supermarket so I made do with fresh kale. We love kale so the bunch won’t go to waste. Besides kale, this recipe includes dried cranberries and caramelized onion. What a tasty way to eat vegetables.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes
Servings: 10-12 patties

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, sliced into thin rings
  • 3 medium garnet yams (orange sweet potatoes), peeled and diced
  • 3/4 cup cooked chopped kale
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste
  • 2 fresh sage leaves, minced
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup crumbled goat cheese or feta optional
  • 1/8 cup whole wheat flour (or more, as needed)
  • Cooking spray

Preparation

  • Heat 2 tbsp olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-low heat.
  • Add the sliced onions and let cook, stirring very occasionally, until the onions become brown and soft. Reserve the onions for garnish. After removing the onion, add the kale to the pan and lightly sauté until they turn bright green.
  • Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Cover a baking tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. Set aside.
  • Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Add the peeled, diced sweet potatoes and cover.
  • Let the sweet potatoes cook for about 8 minutes, or until fork-tender.
  • Drain the cooked sweet potatoes and transfer to a bowl. Mash with the back of a fork or a potato masher until mostly smooth.
  • Stir in the kale, garlic, cranberries, salt, pepper, sage, egg, goat cheese or feta (if using), and flour.  Stir gently to combine.
  • Use a quarter cup measure to scoop up the mixture and gently shake it out in a mound on the prepared tray. Gently flatten the top with a spatula. Continue scooping, shaking, flattening patties. After about three of these scoops, rinse the scoop in water so the mixture will release easily.
  • Bake in the preheated oven until browned on the bottom, about 20 minutes. Flip the patties and brown on the second side, about 15-20 minutes. Serve warm.

Roasted Turnips and Carrots (adapted from America’s Test Kitchen)
I slightly burned the carrots but I loved the crisp sweetness anyway.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 24-30 minutes
Servings: 4-6

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds white turnips, peeled and cut into 1 inch slices
  • 2 pounds carrots, peeled and slivered
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh cilantro, optional

Preparation

  • Pre-heat the oven to 425˚F. Put oven rack in lower-middle position.
  • Toss turnips and carrots in oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetables in a single layer on a large rimmed baking sheet.
  • Roast until the bottom of the turnips is golden and the carrots are browned around the edges, 12-15 minutes. Turn the turnips and carrots and continue to roast until they are tender and golden, 12-15 minutes more.
  • Sprinkle with cilantro, if using, and adjust seasonings, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Variations

  • Add 2 teaspoons garlic powder and 1 teaspoon brown sugar to the seasonings.
  • Add 1 teaspoon minced or grated fresh ginger to the seasonings. Toss the turnips and carrots with 2 tablespoons maple syrup before serving

Wasabi and Panko Crusted Pork Tenderloin Cutlets (adapted from myrecipes.com)
To cut calories, I baked the cutlets rather than fry them.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Servings: 8

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup whole wheat panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/3 cup almond flour
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 large egg white, lightly beaten
  • 8 cutlets from 1 x 1 lb pork tenderloin, trimmed of fat and silver and pounded flat (about 1/2 inch thick)
  • 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • Cooking spray
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry, sake, or rice cooking wine
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon wasabi paste
  • 1/3 cup thinly sliced green onions

Preparation

  • Place panko, almond flour, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Mix with a fork. Place egg white in another shallow dish. Dip pork in egg white; dredge in panko mixture.
  • Spray a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat; add pork. Cook for 4 minutes on each side or until done. Remove pork from pan; sprinkle with salt.
  • Reduce heat to medium. Add ginger to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Combine broth, sherry, soy sauce, sugar, and wasabi in a small bowl, stirring well with a whisk. Add broth mixture to pan, scraping pan to loosen the browned bits called fond. Stir in green onions. Spoon sauce over pork.

Variation

  • Instead of frying, spray the cutlets with cooking spray and bake the cutlets 15-20 minutes in 425˚F oven or until the cutlets register 165˚F on an instant read thermometer.

rotini with ratatouille style vegetables

Rotini with Ratatouille-Style Vegetables (adapted from Shine)
Started to feel a touch of cabin-fever today! I went for a walk to the neighborhood market. It was drizzling, and the stores and restaurants on Amsterdam Avenue were starting to reopen. Still no word on when the subway will come back online or when power will be restored downtown. So, when I am stressed, I cook (or bake). This one is a great vegetarian recipe, but I can see adding ground turkey or ground beef to this would make it a hearty dish that Andy would appreciate more! Asian eggplants are either long and purple or small, round, and green. I used the long purple ones.

Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more as needed
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced, slices cut crosswise in thirds
2 cups button mushrooms, halved
2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
red pepper flakes
coarse kosher salt and freshly-ground black pepper
1 x 28-ounce can Italian tomatoes (preferably San Marzano)
3/4 cup dry white wine
pinch sugar
2 Asian eggplants, cut lengthwise into thirds (can use zucchini)
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped or 1 tablespoon dried
12 ounces multigrain rotini pasta (can use fusilli)
1/3 cup fresh goat cheese, crumbled

Preparation
In a large frying pan over medium heat, heat the 2 tablespoons oil. Add the onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, thyme, and a pinch of red pepper flakes; sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Sauté until the peppers are tender, about 15 minutes.

Add the tomatoes with juice, and break them up with a spatula. Add the wine and simmer to blend flavors, 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently. Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding a pinch of sugar if the sauce tastes too acidic.

Prepare a charcoal or gas grill for direct-heat grilling over medium-high heat, or preheat the broiler. Arrange the eggplant on a rimmed baking sheet, brush both sides with olive oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Transfer to the grill rack, cover, and grill until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Or broil until tender, about 5 minutes per side. Cut the eggplant and zucchini into bite-size pieces and add to the sauce. Add the basil.

Cook’s Note: I used the George Foreman grill, brushing the cut side with a little olive oil.

Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta, stir well, and cook until al dente, about 11 minutes. Drain the pasta, and then sauce and toss to coat. Return to the pot. Sprinkle generously with cheese and serve right away.

italian egg strata with turkey sausage and vegetables

 

Italian Egg Strata with Turkey Sausage and Vegetables (adapted from Dash)
It’s so nice not to have to rush to get dinner on the table. How I love the weekends! The nice thing about this dish is that it can be prepared ahead of time, stored in the refrigerator, then baked for a weeknight dinner. For a Sunday night dinner, it is the best. According to the original recipe, each serving is 380 calories, but since I made substitutions like nonfat milk instead of 2% and whole wheat bread instead of white, that lessens the calorie count. To reduce calories further, substitute part-skim mozzarella cheese for the Monterey Jack cheese.

Servings: 8
Prep Time: 20 minutes plus  20 minutes resting time
Cook Time: 1 hour
TOTAL TIME: 1 hr 40 min (includes resting time)

Ingredients:
1⁄2 cup sliced scallion
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 zucchini, chopped
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 lb sweet turkey sausage, casings removed, broken into bite-size chunks
7 eggs
3 cups nonfat milk
1⁄2 cup grated Parmesan-Romano cheese
1⁄4 tsp black pepper
1 half loaf whole wheat baguette (about 5 cups), cut into large chunks
1 cup grated reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese
Salt and pepper
Crushed red pepper flakes, optional

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 13-by-9-inch baking dish and a large skillet with cooking spray. If using a glass dish or a pan with a dark nonstick finish, reduce heat to 325˚F and bake for 55 minutes.

2. Sauté scallion, red pepper, and zucchini in the skillet for 4 minutes. Add sausage and continue cooking until sausage is browned. When the meat is almost cooked through, add the spinach. Cook until the spinach is wilted. Turn off the heat. The meat and vegetable mixture will spring water, so drain it well and set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk eggs. Add milk, Parmesan-Romano, and black pepper.

4. In the prepared baking dish, layer half the bread, half the egg mixture, and half the drained sausage-vegetable mixture.  Repeat layers.

5. Press down the top to make sure the bread is completely submerged. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and if desired, with crushed red pepper flakes too.  Let the strata rest for 20 minutes. At this point, you can prepare the strata up to a day ahead and store, covered, in the refrigerator.

6. Just before baking, sprinkle with Monterey Jack cheese. Bake for 1 hour or until golden brown and puffy.

casuyon chicken menudo pie

Casuyon Chicken Menudo Pie (adapted from a recipe by Claire Casuyon’s Mom)
If you subtract the pie crust, bacon and leeks you have Menudo, Filipino style. Either one is a great dish, very easy to make for a Sunday supper with an accompaniment of a simple salad of fresh greens and grape tomatoes.

2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cups leeks, sliced thin (about 2 leeks)
1 smashed garlic clove
1 tablespoon canola oil, optional
4 inch ginger root, peeled and diced into 1/2 inch pieces
4 boneless skinless thighs, trimmed of visible fat and chopped into 2 inch chunks
2 boneless skinless breasts, halved into 1 inch thick fillets and sliced into 2 inch chunks
1 1/2 cups red potato, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 cups baby carrots (1/2 bag of baby carrots), sliced into 1/2 inch rounds
2 cans of tomato sauce (preferably Hunts)
1 bay leaf
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon Menudo Seasoning, or to taste

Menudo Seasoning (from The Cook’s Thesaurus)
Combine two parts oregano, two parts onion flakes or powder, one part crushed coriander seed, one part cumin, and one part crushed red chili pepper. Store in a jar.

Pie
1/2 package of frozen puff pastry, thawed in the refrigerator
1 tablespoon fat free milk
1 large egg white

  1. In a dutch oven, cook bacon over medium high heat until brown and crisp. Then sauté leeks and garlic with the bacon and fat until slightly soft; if necessary add more oil. Add ginger and sauté for 2 more minutes.
    Add chicken thighs and stirfry. Reduce heat to medium. Let the meat cook until the outside turns white, stirring frequently. Add salt and pepper for taste.
  2. Stir in two cans of tomato sauce and the bay leaf. Add water if the sauce seems too thick, then let sauce simmer for 15 minutes. Add menudo seasoning. If a stronger, thicker tomato sauce is desired, add the tomato paste.
    Preheat oven to 450˚F.
  3. Add chicken breasts, carrots, potatoes and bay leaf. Cover and let simmer until chicken is cooked and veggies are soft, about 20-25 minutes. Stir every 2-3 minutes. Add the peas. Adjust seasoning.
    Pour meat and vegetables into a 9.5 inch pie plate.
  4. Roll out pie crust onto a well-floured board so that there is an inch overhang. Loosely roll up the pie crust onto the rolling pin and roll it out on top of the meat and vegetables. Tuck the edges under on the rim of the pie plate. Either pinch the edges between thumb and forefinger or crimp with a fork. Mix water and egg white together and brush the top with the mixture. Poke the top with a knife to make slits or use the tines of a  fork to make vents. Bake 20-30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Remove the pie from the oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
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toasted orzo risotto with corn, thyme, tarragon, and chives

The secret to this deliciously simple dish is the orzo. For best results, this tiny pasta must be al dente. And I recommend making it with a vegetable stock because it tastes so much better! As the orzo absorbed the stock, it turned brown. If you use water, the orzo will be white. I insist that all the ingredients must be fresh: fresh corn, thyme, tarragon, chives, garlic, lemon, and shallot. It’s surprisingly sweet but tangy, with a faint peppery flavor from the tarragon. To get the corn off the cob, I used a sharp knife to slice the kernels off the cob, then lightly chopped them to separate them. Be careful when you do this;  I put the cob lengthwise on the cutting board and sliced downward.  I added tarragon and chives because the thyme was already in the recipe, but I think experimenting with a combination of fresh herbs would be delicious. Savory Simple recommends Penzey’s Sunny Paris Spice for seasoning, but I think it is only available by mail order. I just used salt and pepper, which is simple and easy. Like this recipe. The whole thing took 25 minutes to prep and cook.

Toasted Orzo Risotto with Corn, Thyme, Tarragon, and Chives (adapted from Savory Simple)
Makes  2 entrees or 4 side dishes

Ingredients

1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 cup shallots, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup orzo
1 ear of sweet corn, approximately 3/4 cup kernels (see note)
Juice of 1 lemon
3 sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves only
1 tablespoon fresh tarragon, leaves only, minced fine
2 tablespoons fresh chives, minced fine
1 3/4 water or homemade stock
salt & pepper to taste
optional: 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Preparation

  1. In a 10 inch skillet, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the shallots and cook until translucent, then add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds Add the orzo to the pan and turn the heat up to medium. Allow the orzo to toast while stirring. You can go lighter or darker with the toasting. As the orzo browns, it will develop a nutty flavor.
  2. Turn down the heat to medium-low and stir in the corn kernels, lemon juice, thyme, tarragon, and chives. Add 1/4 cup of water or stock. Stir frequently to prevent the orzo from sticking to the bottom of the pan. When the liquid is absorbed, add another 1/4 cup liquid. Repeat until a total of 1 1/2 cups liquid is added  to the pan and is absorbed by the orzo. Reserve the last 1/4 cup.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the last of the water or stock, pine nuts (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.

pan-fried fish fillets with mediterranean tomato sauce

I’ve been cooking a lot with tomatoes lately!  Tomatoes are so versatile raw or cooked, so naturally, I had to try this new fish recipe. According to myrecipes.com, this recipe, if made with 6 ounce yellowtail snapper fillets with the skin on, amounts to 282 calories per serving. I used tilapia because it was available (and cheaper) but I think any white fish will do. The sauce has a nice light taste; not overpoweringly tomato-y. In fact,  all the flavors of the herbs come through, so be sure to use fresh as directed in the recipe.

Pan-Fried Fish with Mediterranean Tomato Sauce (adapted from myrecipes.com)

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons butter
2 cups chopped seeded plum tomato
1 1/2 tablespoons capers
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (flat-leaf parsley in original recipe)
1 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced fresh tarragon
kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper or to taste
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 pounds tilapia fillets (approximately 2 large fillets)

1. In a medium skillet heat olive oil and butter over medium-high heat. Add tomato to the pan and cook 6 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in the capers, Dijon mustard, and minced garlic. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in parsley, chives, and tarragon. Season with salt, pepper, and red pepper to taste. Cover the skillet to keep warm.

2. In a large nonstick skillet heat canola oil over medium-high heat. Sprinkle fish with about 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper per side. Add fish to the pan and cook for 3 minutes or until browned. Turn the fish over; cook 3 minutes or until the fish turns white and flakes easily with a fork. Serve fish with the warmed sauce.

Italian meatball soup with orzo, spinach, and carrots

I went the extra mile for this recipe I adapted from dashrecipes.com!  I had the time this afternoon so I made a vegetable soup stock from scratch, using leeks, celery, garlic, and carrots, seasoned with bay leaf, fresh tarragon, and thyme. For additional flavor, I added a teaspoon of organic Better Than Bouillon Vegetable Base. If not for that detour, this recipe would be quick and easy. Of course, to save time, I used the carrots from the stock in the meatball soup, and saved the rest of the vegetables for puréeing later. I will add the purée to the remaining stock for flavor.  I recommend serving this soup with a simple salad or hot crusty bread for a light supper.

Italian Meatball Soup with Orzo, Spinach and Carrots
INGREDIENTS:

1⁄2 lb ground sirloin
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 Tablespoons whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
1 Tablespoon grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus more for serving
3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
5 1/2 cups light chicken broth (reduced-sodium, fat-free)
2 cups fresh spinach (no stems)
3⁄4 cup uncooked orzo pasta
1/2 cup chopped carrot
Salt and pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS:

1. In small bowl, combine ground sirloin, egg, Panko, cheese, basil, and onion powder. Using a teaspoon, shape into 1-inch balls.

2. In a large saucepan, bring broth to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add meatballs and cook 10 minutes on simmer. Stir in the orzo and carrot. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for another 10 minutes or until the meatballs are done. About a minute before the meatballs are done, add the spinach. Serve topped with additional Parmigiano Reggiano cheese.