Fried Fish Tacos with Avocado Lime Cream

Tacos have always been a favorite go-to meal of mine.  They are simple, versatile, and have the potential to be healthy if you load them up with fresh vegetables.  I don’t cook or eat fish that often, but when I do, this is one of my favorite methods of cooking fish.

I strive to cook during the weeknights as much as possible, but I can’t say I meet this goal all of the time.  If you’re trying to juggle a busy schedule, convenience and ease in the kitchen are greatly appreciated.  Recently, I discovered these Kraft Fresh Take mixes that are very helpful in creating a delicious meal in a snap!  So when you arrive home from a long day of work and are ready for dinner, definitely give it a try!

The package comes with a bag of bread crumbs and a bag of shredded cheese.  The instructions on the back of the package suggest using water to help the coating stick to the surface of the meat or fish you’re using, but I find that an egg coating works much better.  Just dip, coat, and deep fry (or bake if you’re not into fried foods).

Fried Fish Tacos 
(serves 4)

1 tsp smoked paprika
Kraft Fresh Take in Southwest Three Cheese
1 egg, beaten
1 lb tilapia fillet, cut into 4- by 1-inch strips
2 qts vegetable oil
8 flour or corn tortillas

Add smoked paprika to the bread crumbs and set aside.  Moisten the fish fillets with egg wash, and coat with the bread crumbs.

Heat 2 to 3 inches of oil in a stainless steel pot over medium heat until temperature reaches 375°F.  Fry fish in batches until fish is golden, about 4 minutes.  Remove and drain on paper towels.  Sprinkle shredded cheese over the fish fillets while they are still hot.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Lightly coat flour or corn tortillas with cooking spray, and add the tortillas to pan, one at a time.  Cook both sides until lightly toasted.

To serve, assemble tacos with tortillas, fish, accompaniments (salad greens, lettuces, sliced radishes), and avocado cream.  Serve immediately.

*I fried a large batch of fish fillets, so by the time I was ready to put the cheese over them, they were already warm.  In that case, you can just put it in the oven or broiler for a minute or two to melt the cheese.

Avocado Lime Cream

1 ripe Haas avocado, peeled and pitted
¼ cup sour cream
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp cilantro, finely chopped
Salt, to taste

In a bowl, mash avocado, sour cream, and lime juice until smooth.  Add cilantro and season with salt to taste.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.


Orange Cranberry Sauce

Happy Thanksgiving friends!  Have you done all of the prep work for tonight?  Still scrambling for a last-minute recipe to bring to this year’s Thanksgiving table?  Don’t fret, I’ve got one to share with you today: homemade cranberry sauce!

People either love it, hate it, or simply are indifferent to it, but cranberry sauce is still pretty much a staple at Thanksgiving.  If you have never made your own, I encourage you to try it this year.  For a potluck dinner with my friends, I decided to give the familiar cranberry sauce a new spin by adding orange juice and orange peel.  I love how it is both tart and sweet, with a deep red color and a texture that- probably goes without saying- is much, much better than the canned version.  You really can’t go wrong with this!

And best of all, it only takes about ten minutes to make.

I forgot to use a large saucepan, but make sure you don’t make the same mistake.  Luckily, I heard the sizzling noise as it was starting to splatter and quickly put a lid on it.  Crisis averted!

Orange Cranberry Sauce
(makes about 2 cups)

1 12oz package of fresh cranberries
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup water
1 navel orange, juiced
2 large pieces of orange peel

In a large saucepan, combine cranberries, sugar, water, orange juice, and orange peel. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sauce reaches desired consistency. Remove orange peel and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

*Cranberry sauce will thicken as it cools.

*Try to remove as much of the pith from the orange peel as possible, because it tends to make the dish bitter.

Fresh Strawberry Preserves (Without Pectin)

I have a weak spot for fruit preserves because they are so simple and straightforward to make.  Once you learn the method, you can let your imagination go wild and experiment with different combinations of berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries).  And the possibilities of uses are endless.  You can slather a spoonful on toasted bread, serve it with pancakes, French toasts, and scones, and even stir it into plain Greek yogurt.

This recipe is a cinch- it requires no pectin and no canning.  Jam-making, on the other hand, must be entered into without abandon or not at all.  In my mind, anything that involves sterilized jars and funnel and tongs is a fairly long and laborious ordeal.  I know jam-making is almost inevitable in my culinary journey; the results are absolutely well worth the effort.  In the meantime, I’ll save it as a project for a cold, stormy weekend.

And have I mentioned? The apartment smell amazing while the strawberries are bubbling away gently on the stove!

Fresh Strawberry Preserves (Without Pectin)
(makes approximately two cups)

4 cups strawberries, hulled, sliced or quartered
½ cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
Zest of one lemon

Place strawberries, sugar, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a stainless steel pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Let boil gently until reduced and thickened, approximately ten minutes.

When the mixture is about ready, place a dollop on a small, frozen plate and return to the freezer.  Remove the plate from the freezer after one minute and tilt the plate to see if the dollop of preserves holds its shape.  If it is still runny, boil the mixture for a few more minutes and repeat the test.

When ready, pour into a jar and allow to cool to room temperature before covering and storing in the fridge for up to one month, or in the freezer for longer storage.  It should have a thick, spreadable consistency after it cools.

*I like to use fresh berries for fruit preserves because frozen berries tend to release too much liquid when thawed.  If berries are not in season and you opt for frozen ones, you can thaw the berries in a colander and drain out the liquid before cooking.  Also, since you cannot cut the frozen berries into smaller pieces, you may want to puree the mixture in a food processor after it has been cooked and cooled to room temperature.