Something out of Nothing

Sometimes I have one of those nights where there isn't much food in the house...but I'm positive that I don't have the energy to go out to eat. Instead of dialing the local pizza place, I've been trying to be more creative with what I can find in the fridge and pantry.

Recently, I had this kind of night and decided to go on a hunt for some dinner. I looked in the fridge and saw three crowns of broccoli. I discovered a couple Yukon gold potatoes in the bottom cupboard. This was not looking promising...so I opened my freezer. Ah ha! There was that bag of frozen tilapia fillets that I had gotten on sale at Wegman's last month "just in case" I ever needed them. Surely, I could make something out of these ingredients.

I did a quick search online for simple tilapia recipes to get some inspiration. I could have just baked them in the oven with some butter or lemon juice on top...but I wanted something a little more flavorful. I happened upon this little gem on allrecipes.com.

With a can of tomato paste (which I always have in the pantry) and some spices, I could make something new! I didn't have the peppers, so I decided to roast the potatoes and broccoli instead.

The tilapia fillets are individually wrapped (which is so convenient), so I dunked 4 fillets (still in the wrapping) into cold water. By the time I made the sauce and got the potatoes and broccoli in the oven, they were thawed.

Baked Tilapia with Roasted Broccoli and Potatoes
~Simple and Satisfying~

  • 3/4 cup olive oil (plus more for roasting)
  • 3 crowns of broccoli, cut into florets
  • 2 or 3 Yukon gold potatoes (Russet would be fine, too), chopped into bite-size chunks
  • a drizzle of balsamic vinegar
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp black pepper
  • 4 (4 oz.) tilapia fillets
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 4 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  2. Combine the potatoes with a generous drizzle of olive oil and several pinches of salt in a bowl, tossing to coat the potatoes. Spread into an even layer on half of a large sheet pan. Roast for about 10 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the broccoli with a generous drizzle of olive oil and several pinches of salt in a bowl, tossing to coat the broccoli. Take the potatoes out and put the broccoli in an even layer on the other side of the sheet pan. Drizzle the potatoes and broccoli with some balsamic vinegar. Roast for another 10 minutes (but check to see how they're coming along). Then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and move the pan to the bottom rack.
  4. While the potatoes and vegetables are still roasting, coat bottom of a medium baking dish with about 1/4 cup olive oil.
  5. In a small bowl, blend remaining olive oil, tomato paste, garlic powder, oregano, salt and pepper.
  6. Arrange tilapia fillets in the prepared baking dish. With a spatula, spread the olive oil and tomato paste mixture over the tilapia, heaping the majority in the centers of the fillets. Arrange onion slices on and around the fillets.
  7. Bake in the preheated 350 degree oven for 15 minutes, until fish is easily flaked with a fork. If the potatoes and broccoli are getting overcooked on the bottom rack, take them out and cover with foil to keep them warm.
  8. When the tilapia is done, remove them from the oven and top each fillet with 1 tablespoon butter, and set oven to broil. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, until butter is melted and lightly brown. Serve the tilapia fillets with the roasted onions on top and the broccoli and potatoes on the side.
Even though I prefer cooking with a plan...sometimes I don't have a plan. Improvising with what you have on hand is a must sometimes and I find it to be kind of fun and quite rewarding!


Breakfast for Two -- The Snowed-in Edition

This is what my car looked like when I got up this morning.

A few weeks ago, I got an email from someone I used to work with years ago. I remember her heating up her leftovers at lunch and thinking that she was somewhat of a domestic goddess. She was (and is) a great cook and I had yet to touch a raw chicken breast without ziploc bags on my hands. Time has passed and I've become so comfortable cooking that I would be fine juggling raw chicken now (which I actually can't do because I can't juggle...and it would be really weird to juggle raw meat). My friend has had an adorable little son and moved on to a different career.

Anyway, she knows that I cook now and was kind enough to send me a recipe that she was really excited about. She recently discovered the magic of a waffle iron and was searching for healthy waffle recipes. Waffles are typically not the most healthy breakfast choice, but she found a recipe that is both delicious and full of healthy ingredients.

I love my waffle iron.

While in the midst of this blizzard and I decided to try the recipe since I always have those ingredients on hand.

YUM! They smelled delicious, tasted wonderfully sweet, and were filling enough to eat all by themselves. My husband likes to think that eggs are a necessary component to any "special" breakfast and said he was going to make them. The waffles were ready so fast that he hadn't gotten the chance and admitted afterward that he was too full for eggs.

You can totally make this ahead of time, pop it in the fridge, and make a waffle or two when you're ready. Why, hello, tomorrow's breakfast:

Without further ado...

Whole Grain Waffles
~Fast, east, and delicious~

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 1/2 cup whole wheat and 3/4 cup all-purpose)
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats (a.k.a. "old fashioned" oats)
  • 1/4 firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 4 tsp baking powder (I forgot to type this when I first posted this recipe! Sorry!!)
  • 2 tbsp wheat germ (my friend used ground flax seed)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (this made the recipe, in my opinion)
  • Pinch fine salt (I used Kosher and it was fine)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/4 unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/4 walnut or peanut oil (I used peanut, my friend used unsweetened applesauce)
  • Maple Syrup (I had some from Vermont that a student had given me for Christmas...yum
  1. Preheat a waffle iron to medium-high (mine just preheats without any temperature levels.
  2. Whisk the flour with the oats, sugar, wheat germ, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a medium bowl.
  3. In another medium bowl, lightly whisk the eggs, then add the milk, butter, and oil. Gently stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon, to m ake a batter. Take care not to over work the batter, it's fine if there are a few lumps.
  4. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter per waffle (it depends on the size of your waffle iron) and cook until the outside of the waffle is crisp and inside is cooked through, 3 to 5 minutes. (The time varies depending on the size and spread of the waffle iron) Serve warm with maple syrup. Repeat with remaining batter.

If you live anywhere in the mid-Atlantic...be safe and enjoy the snow!