Fiesta Cookies

Fiesta Cookies

Fiesta Cookies

Which do you like better, cookies or cake?    That’s a tough one, I know.  But what if you could have both at the same time?  Sound too good to be true?    The recipe I have for you today is super simple to make from cake batter, yes, cake batter cookies.  So if you make these cookies, you’ll never have to choose again.

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It all starts with a box of cake mix.  Add a few additional ingredients that you most likely already have, toss in some sprinkles for a “funfetti effect”, bake for a mere 10-12 minutes and there they are.    I decided to call these “fiesta cookies” because they are colorful and look as if they’re ready for a party.  There’s only one thing that could make them better:  eat them with ice cream.  After I baked mine and saw how large and round they got, I thought they would work perfectly for ice cream sandwiches.  See if you don’t agree.

These make yummy ice cream sandwiches.

These make yummy ice cream sandwiches.

 

FIESTA COOKIES

Yield:  about 24 cookiesIMG_7145

Ingredients:

  • 1 box vanilla cake mix
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1  1/4 cup sprinkles
  • 1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 eggs + 1 yolk
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk the cake mix with the baking powder and sprinkles to combine (be sure to break up any lumps).

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3.  In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk the oil with the eggs, egg yolk and vanilla to combine.

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Add the oil mixture to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix until fully incorporated.

4.  Scoop out the cookie dough using a cookie scoop measuring about 2 tablespoons, and place mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheets leaving at least 3/4-inch between each cookie to allow for spreading.

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5.  Bake until surface is crackly and the cookies are slightly golden around the edges, 10 – 12 minutes.  Cool before serving.

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These cookies are perfect for ice cream sandwiches.  Just scoop some slightly softened ice cream into the center of one cookie and top with another.  Freeze the sandwiches after you’ve assembled them, just until they firm up.    OOOOOH, so good!

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SOURCE:    PureWow

Cheese Garlic Biscuits

Cheese Garlic Bisquits

Cheese Garlic Bisquits

Dinner rolls and biscuits often times join each other on the dinner table.  Some folks prefer rolls while others like biscuits.  I’m a biscuit person when given a choice, although I never turn down a good dinner roll either.  These biscuits are so good that I just had to share them with you just in case your family is like mine and likes a variety of “breads” on the table.

I suppose it doesn’t make much sense to rave about a recipe that starts with a baking mix and includes just a couple of other ingredients.  And it probably doesn’t count that I literally had these mixed up in seconds yet I can’t praise them enough. They are light, fluffy, and reach- for- seconds delicious.  They feel like they are going to float right out of your mouth!

Tender, and fluffy inside.

Tender, and fluffy inside.

These biscuits are also great with a bowl of soup or a salad.

CHEESE GARLIC BISCUITS

Yield:  10 servingsIMG_5736

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups buttermilk baking mix, like Bisquick
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. chopped parsley

Directions:

1.  Preheat oven to 450*F    Have ready a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

2.  Combine baking mix, garlic powder, milk and cheddar cheese in a mixing bowl.  Beat with wooden spoon until soft dough forms.

3.  Drop dough by spoonfuls onto cookie sheet.

I brushed them with butter before baking.

I brushed them with butter before baking.

Bake 8 – 10 minutes until golden brown.

after baking, golden and lightly browned with little crisp edges.

After baking, golden and lightly browned with little crisp edges.

4.  Melt butter and add chopped parsley.**  Brush over warm biscuits before removing from cookie sheet.  Serve warm.

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**I like to brush the butter mixture on before and after baking.  It makes them so much better.

SOURCE:  Allrecipes.com

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

Here we are well into the month of November with Thanksgiving looming just ahead.  If you’re anything like me, you’re probably thinking of your menu for the big day, and maybe trying out a new recipe or two.  That’s what I do.  We seem to want the traditional foods, but I try to give a new twist to one or two of those dishes.

In this case it’s a somewhat different way of enjoying pumpkin pie.  These are individual little “cupcakes” that taste just like pumpkin pie, but without the bother of a crust.  These are pretty easy to make.  They go together in only two steps and are baked in muffin tins.  The only thing you need to be concerned about is to make sure you spray the muffin cups well with non-stick spray or line them with foil liners.  Paper liners make if difficult to remove the “cupcakes” from the muffin tins and are hard to peel away from the pumpkin filling.IMG_5636

I’ve also read a review of this recipe with suggestions for making it very low cal. so I am including those suggestions here for any of you who must maintain a low sugar/calorie intake.

PUMPKIN PIE CUPCAKES

Yield:   Makes 12

Ingredients:

All the  same ingredients as for pumpkin pie filling.

All the same ingredients as for pumpkin pie filling.

wet:

  • 1   15oz.can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or 1/2 cup all natural Stevia in the raw)
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup evaporated milk, fat free is Ok. (or use 3/4 cup 1% milk with 2 Tbsp. cornstarch whisked in.)

dry:

  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda

Directions:

1.  Preheat the oven to 350*F.   Line a 12 cup muffin tin with foil liners, or spray well with non-stick cooking spray.

2. In a bowl with a pouring spout (batter bowl) whisk together all the wet ingredients.   In another bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients.

3.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, and blend well.  Pour the batter into the muffin cups, filling them almost to the tops.  (mine hold 1/3 cup batter each, and this amount filled them to the top).

4.  Bake for 20 minutes.  They will puff up as they bake, but will fall slightly as they cool.  Cool for 20 minutes, them refrigerate to chill until ready to serve.

See how they puff up in the oven--they will fall a little when you take them out.

See how they puff up in the oven–they will fall a little when you take them out.

5.  Carefully run a knife around the edge of each cupcake to remove from the tin.  Top each serving with whipped cream or whipped topping and a sprinkle of more pie spice.   Delicious!!

Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pie spice.

Top with whipped cream and a sprinkle of pie spice.

One is not enough  :D

One is not enough 😀

SOURCE:   Allrecipes.com

Tuscan Sausage Soup with Shell Pasta and White Beans

Tuscan Sausage Soup  with Shell Pasta and White Beans.

Tuscan Sausage Soup with Shell Pasta and White Beans.

I’ve shared my views previously on the many shapes of pasta and how some shapes are better suited for one kind of dish while other shapes have their own perfect niche in your repertoire of recipes.  One of my absolute favorites to use in soups is shell pasta.  The reason seems obvious–they hold the broth!  Just like a spoon they carry some of the yummy flavor-laden broth to your mouth.

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Anyway, when I first saw this recipe for Tuscan Sausage Soup, packed with “conchiglie”, I was drawn to it.  Conchiglie is the Italian word for shell, so I felt as though it was talking to me.  It also includes white cannellini beans and spinach and is seasoned with garlic, onion and basil.  All the flavors you would expect in a rustic Italian soup such as this one.

The recipe makes a large amount of soup, and can be easily doubled  to feed a hungry crowd, or freeze some for a later date.  I made the recipe as I found it except for using frozen spinach instead of fresh. You could also use kale if you wish.   This is a recipe you need to have in your back pocket for when colder weather arrives and you want something warm and hearty to feed your family.

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TUSCAN SAUSAGE SOUP WITH SHELL PASTA AND WHITE BEANS

YIELD:   6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound Italian sausage, bulk or links.  If using links, remove casings.

    Gather together all the ingredients.

    Gather together all the ingredients.

  • 2 carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 cups chicken broth, low sodium preferred
  • 1  14.5 oz. can tomatoes, diced with juice
  • 1  15 oz. can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1  1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 8  oz. shell pasta, whole wheat, preferred
  • 6 oz. fresh spinach, or 1 pkg. frozen chopped spinach, well drained
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • grated Parmesan cheese for topping

Directions:

1.  Remove casings from sausage if using links.   Brown over medium-high heat in a large stock pot.  Crumble as you brown it.

Brown and crumble the sausage

Brown and crumble the sausage

2.  Add carrots, onion and garlic;  sauté until tender and starting to get a bit golden, about 7 minutes.

Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic.

Add in the carrots, onion, and garlic.

3.  Add chicken broth, tomatoes, beans, pasta and basil.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, pasta, beans, and basil.

Add chicken broth, tomatoes, pasta, beans, and basil.

Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.  Cover and continue cooking until pasta becomes a bit tender, about 7 minutes.

4.  Stir in spinach and cook until it is just wilted.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.

5.  Serve hot garnished with grated Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Here it is.  Looking delicious and tasting just as good as it looks.

Here it is. Looking delicious and tasting just as good as it looks.

SOURCE:   A Couple in the Kitchen

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Refrigerator Dill Pickles

Can we talk for a few minutes about pickles?   Dill pickles, that is.  Many people that I know love anything pickled, but I’m not one of them.  I like pickled beets well enough, but I love dill pickles!!   Years ago I remember helping my mother make pickles and it seemed like a lot of work.  I know there was some cooking involved, the hot vinegar bath, I think.  And I remember those little round dill seeds and black peppercorns.  It has always seemed lots easier to just buy the kind I like at the grocery store.

So I’m very proud of myself when I say I made refrigerator dill pickles, and they were so easy.  Nothing at all like what I remember. This recipe is so ridiculously simple, I wonder why I never heard of it until just this year.   I can’t believe I got these fantastically crisp and fresh pickles with only a few ingredients.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles.

Refrigerator Dill Pickles.

You can use traditional cucumbers or pickling cucumbers for this–whatever you like.   Some of the pickling cucumbers end up being quite fat and round, so I used regular cucumbers because I wanted long spears.   If you have 10 minutes you can make these pickles.  Just watch me!

REFRIGERATOR DILL PICKLES

Yield:   about 3 – 4  16.oz. jars of pickles

About the jars:  They can be any jars saved from other products and repurposed,  just be sure they are really clean with no lingering odors.  It’s wise to wash them in the dishwasher prior to using again.

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh dill
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 – 4 medium-large cucumbers, washed well
  • 3 cups water
  • 6 Tablespoons distilled white vinegar
  • 3 Tablespoons kosher salt

Directions:

1.  Add 1 minced or pressed clove of garlic and a few sprigs of dill to the bottom of each jar.  Don’t stress over exact amounts.  They will be great.

Place sprigs of dill in bottom of jars.  Add a clove of garlic.

Place sprigs of dill in bottom of jars. Add a clove of garlic.

2.  Cut the cucumbers into spears or whatever shape you like.  Add the spears to the jars, packing in as many as  you can without having to force them in.

Pack the  jars with cucumbers.

Pack the jars with cucumbers.

3.  In a large liquid measuring cup or pitcher, combine the water, vinegar, and salt.  Stir well until the salt is dissolved.  Pour the mixture into each jar over the cucumber spears so they are completely covered.  Top with an additional few sprigs of dill, if desired.

Add vinegar brine, then more dill on top.

Add vinegar brine, then more dill on top.

4.  Screw on the lids of the jars.  Repeat with remaining cucumbers, making additional brine as needed  (it only take a few seconds.)

5.  Refrigerate for two days.  Enjoy!   Continue to store in the refrigerator….presuming there are leftovers, of course.

Oh my gosh–these are fantastic.  As soon as you finish one your mouth wants another.  We couldn’t stop eating them.  Mr. D. says they are better than “real pickles”.   What ever that means, I think it’s a compliment.

A great sandwich deserves a great pickle!

A great sandwich deserves a great pickle!

I will be starting my next batch before the first batch is gone, because I won’t be able to wait the two days for a second batch to “cure”.    Ya gotta plan ahead when you love something this much!!!

SOURCE:   Adapted from Delicious Meliscious via Annie’s Eats

Spicy White Bean Dip

Spicy white bean dip with crudités.

Spicy white bean dip with crudités.

Most times when you hear the word “dip” you think, appetizer. Well, so do I, mostly. However I also think of a dip as lunch or on its way to becoming lunch. What I mean is that when you combine a really interesting, tasty dip with raw veggies and some whole-grain crackers, or pitas that becomes lunch; at least for me it does.

Another way to enjoy this dip is to use it to appease your appetite, when you’re starving. Like you just came home from work, ravenous , you could eat shoe leather, but instead here you have a nutritious fill-in to snack on while you make dinner. I know you are going to like this, because I do, and I didn’t think I would. I was so wrong!!!! Give it a try, it might just become you’re new favorite food.

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SPICY WHITE BEAN DIP

YIELD: makes about 2 cups

  • 2 cans canneloni beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 Tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce ( reduced sodium, if possible)
  • 1/4 cup Sirracha Sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • up to 1/4 cup water, as needed
  • cilantro for garnish

In the work bowl of a food processor, place all the ingredients through lime juice. Process to blend well. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Add water, a little at a time, to achieve a smooth consistency. Spoon into a serving bowl and garnish with cilantro.

Serve with raw vegetables, crackers, pita chips, etc.

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This is sooooo good that once I started on it I did not want to stop. Luckily I was eating it with raw veggies, so I at least got in a fair share of my allotted requirement of vegetables for the day, a la the food pyramid.

Spicy, but not too spicy--just right!

Spicy, but not too spicy–just right!

SOURCE: Annieseats.com

Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart

Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart

As a hostess gift when I went to visit in North Carolina I brought some apples grown right here in the town where I live.  We who live here are so spoiled by the ease with which we can obtain fresh orchard-grown apples and pears ( at this time of year) as well as other fruits earlier in the season.  Folks who formerly lived here miss that kind of freshness in the fruits they are able to buy in their local grocery stores, and the variety of kinds of apples.  So a gift like the one I brought with me is always welcome.

Coincidentally, my hostess wanted to make a baked gift to give to a friend who had been kind to her and her husband, so together we made this Rustic Autumn Fruit Tart.  Actually we made two;  one to keep and one to give.   We used some of the apples I brought, and some pears that she had on hand, ripe and beautiful.

This is very easy to make, goes together quickly and looks very impressive when completed. It tastes as delicious as it looks.  The recipient of this gift was surprised and delighted to receive it.

RUSTIC AUTUMN FRUIT TART

SERVINGS:   8

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 roll packaged refrigerated pie crust, at room temperature
  • 2 large apples – peeled, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 1 pear – peeled, cored and sliced
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 1/2 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup apricot jam, warmed

DIRECTIONS

1.  Unroll the pie dough and lightly roll into a 10 – 11″ circle.  Fit into a 9 ” pie pan, or place flat on slightly greased baking sheet.

Tart can be made in a tart/pie pan or flat on a baking sheet.

2.  Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

3.  Toss the sliced apples and pear with the orange juice.  Whisk together the brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and cornstarch.  Toss the fruit with the sugar-spice mixture.

Toss sliced fruits with orange juice.

4.  Arrange the fruit decoratively in the pastry shell.  If you’re baking it on a baking sheet, leave a 2-inch rim of dough with the fruit arranged in the middle.

5.  Fold the dough up and over the edge of the fruit ( the pastry folds will overlap).

Fold edges of pastry up and over top of fruits, pleating the excess.

6.  Bake the tart in the preheated oven until the crust is browned and the filling is bubbly, about 30 minutes.  Remove the tart from the oven and brush the whole top with the warmed apricot jam.  This creates a beautiful glaze.

Serve warm with a dab of ice cream——Deeelish!

SOURCE:   allrecipes.com

Bacon and Pierogi Bake

I sometimes rely  on convenience  foods from the freezer section of the supermarket when I am short on time.  They give a “jump-start” to dinner preparations, and often are more economical than what I can make at home.  Pierogis are one of those food items.  Pierogies are filled dumplings; the fillings varying from potatoes, to cheeses, to spinach, or any combinations of these.   The most common way I fix them is to boil them as directed on the package, and serve with melted butter and sautéed onions.  Teamed up with a protein item and a salad, they round out the meal by providing carbohydrates and, depending on their filling, a small additional amount of protein as well.

In this baked dish, however,  I pair pierogies with bacon and a very simple cheese sauce. Top with more cheese, bake for a short time and top with chopped tomatoes and green onions.  Serve with a green salad.  I think this dish is colorful and looks nice baked in gratin dishes for individual casseroles.

INGREDIENTS

Servings:  about 4

  • 1  package ( 16 oz.) frozen pierogies, filling of your choice
  • Cooking spray
  • 2-3 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup (3 oz.) 1/3-less fat cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup fat-free low sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions
  • 1 plum tomato, seeded and chopped

DIRECTIONS

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees

2.  Arrange pierogies in an 11″ x 7″ baking dish, or individual casseroles, coated with cooking spray.

3.  Cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp; remove and drain on paper towel.  Set aside.

4.  Add garlic to drippings in pan, and cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.  Add 1/3 cup cream cheese to pan, cook for 1 minute or until cream cheese begins to melt, stirring frequently.  Gradually add  chicken broth, stirring with a whisk till smooth.   Pour this mixture evenly over the pierogies.

5.  Top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.  Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and thoroughly heated.  Remove from oven, and sprinkle with bacon, green onions, and tomatoes.

       SOURCE:  adapted from  Cooking Light Magazine

Grab ‘N Go: Granola and Yogurt

Over the course of the last few years I’ve been moving away from buying ready made foods like cereals, soups, sauces, etc. and making more and more of these items myself.  My reasons are  threefold;  environmental:  less packaging to dispose of;  health:  I can eliminate all those unpronounceable ingredients, and have better control over what we are eating; and emotional:  I feel really good knowing I can make it as good or better than what’s in a package.  Granola is one of those packaged items that I have ceased buying and now make at home.

Granola is very versatile.  It can be added to foods, as in a crumbly topping on a fruit cobbler, put on foods to add crunch, like over fruits, or ice-cream, or eaten out-of-hand as a snack.  So with that said, I have been making homemade granola and  spreading it around  rather liberally.  My lunches consist, for the most part, of fruit smoothies, or yogurt with granola on top; and for my husband, I send him off to work with a nutritious salad for lunch, and a bag of granola for a mid-afternoon snack.  Each time I make it I vary the fruits and nuts I put in it, so it does not become boring.

For anyone who needs a quick “grab and go” breakfast, or who brings lunch to work, yogurt and granola is a delicious, good-for-you duo.  I like Greek style yogurt because it’s thicker than regular styles, and because it packs almost twice the protein, so you’re not as likely to get the mid-morning munchies.  You can also stretch your budget by purchasing the large size yogurt and putting it into smaller 8 0z. containers.  Likewise package your granola in baggies, so when you’re ready to leave the house, just grab one of each and  you will be on your way with a breakfast or lunch that is economical, delicious, and good for you.

Trail Mix Granola

Makes about 5 cups

  • 3 cups old-fashioned oats


    Have all your ingredients ready before starting to assemble.

  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups add-ins, like dried cranberries, cherries, apricots, figs, raisins; coconut, nuts such as almonds, pistachios, walnuts.

1.  Preheat oven to 325 degrees.  Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  Whisk together oil, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a glass measuring cup.  Heat briefly in microwave ( 1 minute at 50% power) to blend  and melt any sugar lumps.  Stir well,  then pour over oats in a  large bowl and toss to coat.

3.  Spread mixture on prepared baking sheet.  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown, stirring every 5 minutes.

4.   Let cool slightly, then transfer back into large bowl and stir in add-ins.  Let cool completely before packaging, or store in air-tight container for up to 2 weeks.

SOURCE:  Quick Vegetarian Pleasures

Spicy Tilapia Tacos with Avocado Mango Salsa

One day last week I was confronted with this situation–which happens rather frequently around here.  Mr. D. needed to work late, then go directly to a meeting before coming home for dinner.  Meanwhile, I needed to have my dinner on the early side, then go to a dance class in the evening.  My dilemma?  How to provide each of us with a nutritious meal which could be eaten at two separate times.  Are you familiar with this scenario?   I’d love to hear from you about the kinds of meals you serve when this happens.

My solution on this particular day was to make a tasty salsa that could be served with spice-rubbed tilapia, quickly cooked as needed; and served in a toasted corn tortilla.  I also prepared a tossed green salad to round out the meal, dressing to be added when eaten.

Here’s how it went together:

AVOCADO-MANGO SALSA

  • 1 cup diced peeled avocado
  • 2/3 cup diced peeled ripe mango
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onions
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Mix together all the salsa ingredients in a medium bowl, and set aside for flavors to meld.  This is a delicious salsa that I make often in warm weather.  I love salsas made from fresh ingredients, don’t you?

SPICY FISH FILLETS (TILAPIA)

  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, minced fine
  • 1 pound fish fillets  (we are partial to tilapia)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 8 Corn tortillas  (6-inch)
Combine the first 5 ingredients ( thru garlic ).  Rub well over both sides of fish fillets.  These can be prepared in advance up to this point.  Refrigerate, and have ready for cooking as needed.
Place a medium skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the vegetable oil to pan, swirl to coat.  Add fish;  cook 2-3 minutes per side, depending on thickness of fillets.  Remove to a platter and keep warm.
Warm corn tortillas in hot skillet, about a minute per side to warm and soften.
YIELD:  SERVES 4