Vietnamese Tilapia with Turmeric and Dill

Vietnamese Tilapia with   Turmeric and Dill

Vietnamese Tilapia with
Turmeric and Dill

Tilapia is one of the most consumed fish species in the U.S.  It has become one of our favorites, and I cook it frequently.  Turns out tilapia has a lot going for it.   It’s pretty inexpensive, especially if purchased in quantity (like 2 pounds or more), as filets that are individually flash frozen and vacuum sealed.  I like that I can remove just the quantity I need for a specific recipe.

Sustainably farmed versions are easy to find, an important consideration, since so many wild fish species are threatened around the world.  Flavor-wise, tilapia has a very mild, white, flaky flesh that, I think, is a virtue.   It’s a great starter fish for kids or anyone who thinks that all seafood is too “fishy”.  Cooks can take advantage of its neutral flavor by using it as a base for many flavor approaches, ranging anywhere from South American, to Mediterranean to Southeast Asian.


Tilapia is a lean, low-calorie source of protein that’s low in saturated fat, so it’s a good choice for healthy eating.  Although it’s not an omega-3  powerhouse like salmon,  a 3-ounce portion of cooked tilapia still has 10% of your daily omega-3 needs.

This mild white fish holds up well to sautéing, breading, steaming, or whatever you can think to do with it.  It won’t fall apart on you in the pan.   It is one of the easiest, most versatile fish to cook with and it can stand whatever heat your kitchen can dish out!

If you have never cooked with tilapia this recipe will introduce you in a big way;  the fish loves flavor and color.   A killer marinade of shallots, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil, garlic and turmeric penetrates the fish and gives it a beautiful golden color. When you sear the fish in a hot-hot pan (cast iron is best) it gets fantastically browned.   This was a new way to prepare it for me and one that I won’t forget.  We loved the Southeast Asian flavors.  Serve it with rice and a green vegetable for an unforgettable meal.

An unforgettable meal.

An unforgettable meal.


Yield:   Serves 4


Southeast Asian seasonings provide big flavor.

Southeast Asian seasonings provide big flavor.

  • 1/4 cup sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 4  (6-ounce) tilapia fillets,
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • cooking spray
  • 4 cups vertically sliced sweet onion
  • 1/2 cup torn fresh dill, divided (In the absence of fresh dill, I used dry in small amounts)
  • 4 green onions, cut into (2-inch) pieces
  • 1 tablespoon lower-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup unsalted, dry-toasted peanuts, crushed ( I omitted these.)
  • lemon wedges, for serving


1.  Combine first 8 ingredients in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk to combine well.  Add fish; toss to coat.  Cover and chill for 2 hours.

Turmeric gives it a golden color.

Turmeric gives it a golden color.

Marinate fish in the mixture.

Marinate fish in the mixture.

2.  Remove fish from marinade; discard marinade and solids.  Combine fish and peanut oil in a bowl, tossing to coat.

Remove from marinade and coat with oil.

Remove from marinade and coat with peanut oil.

3.  Heat a large heavy skillet over high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add onion, 1/4 cup dill, and green onions;  stir fry 1 minute.

Stir frying the onions and green onions.

Stir frying the onions, green onions and dill.

Arrange onion mixture on a platter.

Arrange onion mixture on a platter.   Smells wonderful!

Arrange onion mixture on a platter. Smells wonderful!

Return pan to high heat.  Add the fish fillets to pan; cook 3 minutes.  Turn fish over; cook 1 minute or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Place fish on the platter over the onion mixture.  Sprinkle with remaining dill and peanuts.  Serve with lemon wedges.


Arrange fish fillets over onions and serve.


SOURCE:    Cooking Light



Roasted Chicken Thighs with Fennel and Onion

Roasted chicken thighs with fennel and onions.

Roasted chicken thighs with fennel and onions.

Weekend suppers usually revolve around an oven baked dish in my household, especially during the cold weather months.  We love chicken in all its many forms and (dis)guises.  Roasting a whole chicken is great when you have a lot of time, but sometimes you would like roast chicken without spending the time.  I’m not talking about rotisserie chicken here, although that’s always good, too.  You can get the end result of roast chicken by using smaller pieces that cook so much faster.

For a weekend meal I prepared a chicken dish that I haven’t made in quite a long while:  bone-in chicken with a herb-garlic mixture rubbed under the skin,  on a bed of fennel, and onions.  Here is my 45-minute version.



Yield:   serves 4


  • 1 tablespoon  olive oil
  • 4 large bone-in chicken thighs

    Cutting up the fennel and onion.

    Cutting up the fennel and onion.

  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 1 large bulb fennel, cut into wedges
  • 1 large onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/3 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth


1.  Preheat oven to 425*F.

2.  Combine 1 teaspoon olive oil, garlic, 1 teaspoon thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a small bowl.  Loosen skin on thighs by inserting fingers, gently pushing between skin and meat.  Rub garlic mixture under loosened skin.

Make a paste with oil and herbs.  Rub under skin of thighs.

Make a paste with oil and herbs. Rub under skin of thighs.

3.  Heat a large ovenproof skillet oer medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil; swirl to coat.  Add chicken thighs to pan, skin side down; cook 4 minutes.  Turn thighs over and brown other side.   Remove from pan and set aside, reserving any pan drippings.

Brown the thighs and set aside.

Brown the thighs and set aside.

4.  Into the drippings in the skillet, add the fennel and onions.  Over medium heat, toss to coat and brown them a little.  Pour in chicken broth.  Remove skillet from heat.

Lightly brown the fennel and onions.

Lightly brown the fennel and onions.

5.  Place chicken thighs on top of vegetables and place skillet in the hot oven.  Bake for 40-45 minutes until chicken juices are clear and vegetables are tender.


SOURCE:    Rachael Ray magazine

Horseradish and Caramelized Onion Pork Sandwiches

Horseradish and caramelized onion pork sandwich.

Horseradish and caramelized onion pork sandwich.

As a spin-off from my recipe for Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin, I used the remainder of the meat to make these hearty sandwiches.  They worked into my menus for the week on an evening when Mr.  D. was working late and I needed to go out before he got home.  I was able to make his sandwich and mine leaving his covered in the refrigerator for his convenience when he got home.  His comment when I saw him later in the evening was that  “it was an outstanding sandwich”.  I had to agree with him.

Sweet onions ( I used a large Vidalia) are slowly caramelized with some complimentary seasonings and then paired with a spicy-hot creamy sauce in this fancy sandwich. The recipe calls for using a small French bread split lengthwise, but I used a small focaccia loaf.  Its heartiness and rustic texture seemed to suit the sandwich better, but the choice is yours as to what kind of bread you make it on,



Yield:   4 servings,  1-quarter of a loaf


  • 1 Tablespoon. olive oil

    These seasonings really compliment the onions.

    These seasonings really compliment the onions.

  • 4 cups vertically sliced onion  (about 1 1/4 pounds)
  • 1  1/2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon red  wine vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme, or 1/2 tesp. dried
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves, minces
  • 2 Tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 Tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
  • 1 Tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1  ( 8-oz. ) loaf French bread, halved lengthwise
  • 1 cup torn lettuce leaves
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 1  1/2 cup thinly sliced Herb-Crusted Pork Tenderloin (about 8 oz.), or any other sliced roast pork
Cooked roast pork, thinly sliced for a sandwich.

Cooked roast pork, thinly sliced for a sandwich.

1.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.  Add onion and next 6 ingredients (through garlic) to pan; cook 30 minutes or until onions are golden, stirring occasionally.  Remove from heat, let cool.

The small of these  onions slowly cooking is fantastic.

The small of these onions slowly cooking is fantastic.

2.  Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and horseradish; spread a layer evenly over cut side of bottom half of bread.  Arrange lettuce over the top, then onions.

Lettuce is the first layer, followed by the onions.

Lettuce is the first layer, followed by the onions.

Arrange the sliced pork over the onions,

Sliced pork goes on next, to be topped by sliced tomatoes.

Sliced pork goes on next, to be topped by sliced tomatoes.

top with sliced tomatoes, and spoon on remainder of sauce.  Cover with top half of bread.

A handful of sandwich.  So good!

A handful of sandwich. So good!


Challenge Day #1: Pan-Seared Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce.

Pan-Seared Strip Steak with Balsamic Onion Sauce.

Day # 1 without a refrigerator.  I produced a pretty terrific dinner today, and I also made chicken broth for a future soup.  My dinner consisted of Strip Steaks with Balsamic-Glazed onions,  Baked Butternut Squash with Garlic and Herbs, and Hasselback Potatoes.   For today’s recipe I will be telling you how to pan-sear a steak, and a quick way to make caramelized onions.

Whenever we go to our favorite steak-house, I like to order a strip steak with a pile of caramelized onions.  I almost like the onions better than the steak.  They are so rich and glossy, they turn a simple seared steak into something really special.  I had purchased a package of two strip steaks with the thought of trying to recreate this simple dish at home.  Faced with the fact they had started to defrost, I realized the time to give this meal a try was now.

The part of this dish that takes the most time is caramelizing the onions–probably about 45 minutes.  When cooking the steaks only takes about eight to ten minutes, I wanted to speed up cooking the onions as much as I could.  So here’s where I hit upon a short-cut.  I cooked the onions in a little oil for about 8-10 minutes till they started to brown,

Onions browning in a little oil.

Onions browning in a little oil.

and then added balsamic vinegar to the pan.

A nice variety of balsamic, with a hint of pomegranate added.

A nice variety of balsamic, with a hint of pomegranate added.

Two minutes later the onions were soft and fully browned.  How could that be, you ask?  Well, the sugar in the vinegar speeds up the browning process, and the steam generated by the simmering vinegar softens the onions in a flash.  Finally, the vinegar turns the onions brown.  My balsamic onion sauce may not taste exactly like caramelized onions, but it came pretty darn close.


SERVES:   2-3


  • 3 Tbspns vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, sliced
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 boneless 8 – 10 ounce strip steaks
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tspn. minced fresh (or 1/2 tspn. dried) rosemary

1.  Heat 2 Tbspns oil in large skillet over medium heat.  Add onions and salt and cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 – 10 minutes.   Transfer onions to a bowl.

2.  Add remaining oil to skillet and heat over medium-high heat until shimmering.    For a nicely browned and flavorful crust, pat the steaks dry with paper towels, and season with salt and pepper.  Cook steaks, without moving, until browned on first side, 4 – 5 minutes.  Flip steaks and continue to cook until browned on second side, 3 – 4 minutes more.  Transfer steaks to a platter and cover with foil.

3.  Discard fat in skillet, return onions to pan, and set over medium heat.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add 1/4 cup vinegar, rosemary, and cook, scraping up browned bits, until thick and syrupy, about 2 minutes.  Pour any accumulated steak juices into pan and mix in.  Season with salt and pepper.

4.  Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4 -inch slices and transfer to serving platter.

Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Slice steaks crosswise into 1/4-inch slices.

Spoon onions and sauce over steak.

Steak with Onions and Sauce.

Steak with Onions and Sauce.


Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and Onions

I’m always looking for different ways to prepare pork chops.   We eat pork fairly often, not just chops, but other cuts as well.  It’s high in protein and low in carbohydrates; and depending on the cut can also be pretty low in fat.  So pork is on our menu on a regular basis, but I get bored with preparing foods the same way too often, thus the need for variety.  When this recipe turned up in the Cooking Light Magazine, Sept. 2012. I clipped it immediately because of the pairing of pork with apples ( a natural) and onions.  It seemed like just the right thing for a fall dinner.

The timing was right this past weekend, and as a break from turkey, I prepared the pork chops recipe.  Along with it I served baked sweet potatoes and sautéed brussels sprouts.  WOW!  This meal was a winner that I’m sure I’ll be making again.  Any green vegetable would go well with it, making a very colorful presentation on the plate.   Additionally a nice glass of Chardonnay didn’t hurt either.  😀



  •  2  1/2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 cup frozen pearl onion, thawed
  • 2 cups apple wedges (The recipe specified Gala apples, but I used Empire.  Any firm apple that holds its shape will do.)
  • 1 Tablespoon butter, divided
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves, or 1 teaspoon dried
  • 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • 4  center-cut pork loin chops, about 1/2 inch thick
  • 1/2 cup fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 teaspoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2.   Heat a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat.  Add 1 teaspoon oil to the pan; swirl to coat.  Pat onions dry with a paper towel.  Add onions to pan;  cook 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring once. Add apple to the pan; place in the oven.

Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes till apples and onions are tender.  Stir in 2 teaspoons butter, thyme, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.

3.  Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Sprinkle pork with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper.  Add remaining oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add pork to pan;

Cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness.  Remove pork from pan; keep warm.

4.  Combine broth and flour in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add broth mixture to pan; bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Cook 1 minute to reduce to approximately 1/4 cup.  Stir in vinegar and remaining 1 teaspoon butter.  Serve sauce with pork and apple mixture.

Pork chops with sauce.

Roasted Apples and Onions

Pork Chops with Roasted Apples and onions, served with baked sweet potato and Brussels sprouts.

SOURCE:   Cooking Light, September, 2012

Thai-style Chicken Squash Stir Fry

Thai-Style Chicken and Squash Stir-Fry

With the weather still being relatively warm I wanted to prepare something light yet still take advantage of some fall vegetables, so I made up a stir-fry that incorporates butternut squash. The original recipe for this dish called for snow peas and carrots, but I substituted the butternut squash instead. It incorporates the robust flavors of Thai cuisine.  The ingredient list looks long, but if you get all of the ingredients prepped and organized before proceeding, the cooking itself is quick.  Serve it with steamed rice, fried rice, or to save on carbohydrates, wrap it in lettuce leaves.


YIELD:   6 servings


  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and thinly sliced

    Prep all the ingredients first.

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin, rice wine, or dry sherry
  • 1/4 cup water
  •  2 Tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch, divided
  • 2 Tablespoons toasted sesame oil
  • 3 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 teaspoons vegetable or peanut oil, divided
  • 1 small butternut squash ( about 1 pound), peeled, seeded, and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
  • 1 onion, cut into thick wedges
  • 4 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint or cilantro
  • 1/3 cup crushed unsalted peanuts (optional)


1.  Wrap chicken breast pieces in plastic and gently pound them very thin.

2.  In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, mirin, and water; add chicken, toss to combine, and chill 15 minutes.

3.  In another medium bowl, whisk together 2 Tablespoons cornstarch and sesame oil, set aside.

4.  In a small bowl, whisk together fish sauce, broth, lime juice, sugar, pepper, and 1 teaspoon cornstarch; set aside.

5.  Drain chicken, pat dry, and toss with cornstarch-sesame mixture until thoroughly coated.  Heat 2 teaspoons vegetable oil in a large non-stick fry pan or wok over high heat until just smoking.

Add chicken, using tongs to separate and spread pieces out, and cook, stirring, until both sides are well browned and interior is almost cooked through, 2-3 minutes.  Transfer to a large bowl.

6.  In now empty pan, heat remaining 2 teaspoons oil until smoking and cook butternut squash, stirring occasionally, until just tender and browned on the edges, about 6 minutes; transfer to bowl with chicken.

Add onion wedges to pan and cook, without moving, until nicely charred on one side, about 1 minute; continue cooking for an additional minute, stirring frequently.

Push onions to the outside edge of the pan; in the center, add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Putting it all together.

7.  Move onions back to center of pan, add reserved chicken and squash, and stir in fish-sauce mixture.  Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.

Transfer to serving dish, garnish with herbs and crushed peanuts ( if using) and serve immediately .

SOURCE:  Adapted from a recipe in Cooking Light