The Cheesecake Addiction

My Life in Food

Archive for the category “Seafood”

Mahi-Mahi Salad

Hey, hey, hey!

The answer is yes, blogosphere. Yes, I am single-handedly making my way through that batch of cookies. Because guess what? There wasn’t enough chocolate in the world this week. But somehow, I’m getting through.

Note to Mom: I did NOT eat cookies yesterday, when I was puking up my lungs. I promise. I only ate toast.

But I’m mildly better today, and so I continue to finish off that batch.

So on Monday, the day BEFORE all consuming nausea set in–we made an awesome round 2 lunch with our left over Mahi-Mahi. Our dinner the night before was simple: roasted fish and veggies, with delicious couscous (“the food so nice, they named it twice!”)

For lunch, though–I flaked up our fish and did it tuna-salad style. I stirred in some mayo, mustard, salt, pepper, and balsamic vinegar. Simple and lovely.

Chop up some red peppers...

Chop up some red peppers…

And some thinly sliced red onions...

And some thinly sliced red onions…

Spread some hummus on toasted bread.

Spread some hummus on toasted bread.

IMG_1505

Top with tuna and accouterment! (Don't forget to put some yummy mayo on the other side of the bread!!)

Top with tuna and accouterment! (Don’t forget to put some yummy mayo on the other side of the bread!!)

DEVOUR.

DEVOUR!

 

Yes, enjoy it because it healthy for you, packed with protein, and light. 🙂

Back tomorrow with our Weekly Cocktail–The Sazerac!

 

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Mahi-Mahi Wraps and My Birthday

Ok. Wow. As I typed “my birthday” just now (up there ^) I realized that I didn’t have cake on my birthday…or the celebration before. I didn’t blow out any candles. Shoot. CDR, get on that! I’m mildly debilitated with sadness over this fact.

I’ll get back to my birthday wish in a second. First, I’ll tell you about the extraordinary food I’ve made/eaten these last few days. We have to rewind to Saturday.

On Saturday evening, after yet another car melt-down, CDR and I found ourselves in Trader Joe’s trying to figure out what we wanted for dinner. He was thinking maybe fish tacos and I was thinking maybe Indian food. So we compromised. Mahi-Mahi wraps with a curried mayo and ginger chutney.

Oh. My. God.

First, we sliced the fillets of fish into long strip chunks (yes, the technical term) and coated them with some turmeric, coriander, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper.Image 1

We cooked them on a flat top grill with some red onions.Image 2

And sliced up some tomatoes.Image

Then we built our beautiful wraps. On the bottom, we spread curried mayo (mayo with curry powder, cayenne pepper, salt, and lime juice) and some jarred ginger chutney (found at Trader Joe’s). Top with fish, carmelized onions, and fresh tomatoes and ALWAYS when it comes to fish, add a little lime or lemon juice on top.Image 3

It’s so pretty, right? And sooo tasty!

The next morning, we had some left over fish and being the resident Jew of Reason, I suggested that rather than the smoked trout we had from Trader Joe’s, we put the left over mahi-mahi on a bagel with some cream cheese and the works.Image 4

Mmm, good. An onion or everything bagel is key here. It goes bagel, cream cheese, fish, tomato, red onion, capers, LIME OR LEMON JUICE, and topped with some dressed arugula.

Later that night my parents took us out to one of my favorite places, Quartino. It’s a delicious wine bar with small, delicious plates. CDR and I stayed up until midnight, because I will ALWAYS be that person that LOVES her birthday. I love my birthday.

On Monday, Birthday Morning, CDR surprised me with a yummy breakfast.Image 5

French toast with raspberry cream (he mashed raspberries with cream cheese).

It was an awesome start to the morning, and then I went off to the office meeting where about five colleagues came up to me asking where CDR and I had those delicious looking mahi-mahi wraps.  Delighted, I told them we made them.

CDR, it might be time to make ourselves a little demo tape for the Foodnetwork. Right? I mean, we’re totally an awesome duo.

That’s all for now, guys. Hope you have a good one!

P.S. CDR just informed me that he’ll make cake and candles happen tonight. Yep. We’re awesome.

Coming Solstice, Bruschetta, and Rock Bottom: One Year Later

2013-06-03 13.04.38-1If you’re just here for the food, totally cool. Scroll down to the pictures and you can read about some protein packed, healthy bruschetta. If you’re here for it all, right on. And read on.

One year ago this weekend (give or take a few days–that is how the calendar works, after all) was my rock bottom. I was alone in Zion, IL (cue Paul and Geoff: Jew skies…smiling at me), searching my soul, which pretty much translates to uncontrollable sobbing, phone fights, and a table for one at Applebee’s. The night was completely still. The lake was like glass, and the wind had vanished. And not to be totally dramatic about it, but I had never felt such despair. It felt like everything had burst out of me, screaming. This man had changed everything I knew to be true and safe and for reasons I still can’t quite comprehend, I was alienated from my family. It was the worst night. And somehow, I fell asleep and got through it and then…I woke up.

I checked out of the motel at 7 in the morning, got a cup of gas station coffee, and drove to the beach. Beach State Park was beautiful, wild, and untamed. There was a crispness in the summer air that morning that gave me life and strength. I was still in pain, but I was less lost. I knew what I had to do, and although it hurt like nothing ever has before (for reasons he probably still doesn’t understand), I knew I could. I couldn’t cry anymore; I could only breathe. I spent an hour just sitting. I wasn’t even really thinking anything. I was just gathering the strength I needed to move. Finally, I stood up and walked to my car. When I turned the car on, I heard a familiar beat begin to play.

“When I get older, I will be stronger

They’ll call me freedom, just like the waving flag…

When I get older, I will be stronger…”

One hand out the window, one on the wheel, and my phone in the trunk–I drove away.

It is one year later. One tumultuous year later. As you know, much has happened. Lots of good, a little bad. A few biopsies here and there. But where do I stand on all of this? And why should you care? Well, ok, you shouldn’t care, because this is honestly more of an open letter. I only tell you over and over because, while I feel listened to, I don’t feel heard. And I have some pretty damning and salient proof that I haven’t been heard.

Anyhoozle. I’m better. I’m stronger. And truly, for the first time–REALLY, the first time since this whole thing began–I’m not sad. Finally, my blood boiled with rage and then I calmed down (this was just a few weeks ago). True colors were shown, and it made it easier not to feel sympathy or pain for him. I realized someone this small has no power to hurt me anymore. Despite what you might think, I have done nothing but try to move on all year–and finally, I can start. I’m listening to the same songs I listened to all of last summer, and they carry some heavy-duty memories, but they sound different. They feel better.

“And it’s hard to dance with the devil on your back, so shake him out!…Happiness hit her like a bullet in the head, struck from a great height, by someone who should know better/The DOG DAYS ARE OVER. THE DOG DAYS ARE GONE. THE HORSES ARE COMING SO YOU BETTER RUN!”

So a long winded way of saying, I am so much better. Bruschetta:

A few of you may know this, but CDR and I have started a rooftop garden. It is so much fun and so beautiful and we have an endless supply of herbs! Yesterday, I was having a weak day (physically) and wanted to do something fun with tuna, so I thought…TUNA BRUSCHETTA SOUNDS DELICIOUS! And it was.

I gathered some herbs. Basil, Lemon Thyme, Lemon Verbena, Chives, and Parsley.2013-06-19 16.01.25

I chopped tomatoes, one clove of garlic, and all the herbs. 2013-06-19 16.14.23

I added a can of tuna packed in oil, drained partially so you still get some of the oil. I also added 1/4 of a cup of garbanzo beans for added protein. Finish it off with a splash of balsamic and salt and pepper.

2013-06-19 16.21.03

Voila. Super simple, super healthy, and super yummy.

We also made a lemon-verbena simple syrup, which I’ll stir into a cake in a few days–recipe testing for Cry Eye Fatigue Syndrome. Boil equal cups water and sugar until it reduces slightly, and let herb leaves steep for 15-20 minutes.2013-06-19 16.19.40

Tomorrow is the summer solstice, and Geoff is coming over for dinner. We’ll celebrate our bounty of herbs by using them in a bunch of flatbreads. And weather permitting, we might dine on the roof. Here’s to a glorious summer!

Peace.

Real Estate, New Apartment, Menu Planning, and Seafood Tacos

Well hi there! And again, OH MY GOD SO MUCH HAPPENED.

CDR and I have moved into our new apartment and we have an adorable kitchen with stupid high cabinets, great counter space, and a dance floor.

I got a job at Weichert, Realtors-Nickel Group–a firm in Oak Park and I am open for business. The site is still under construction and will soon include a DIY Blog, but take a look here and I don’t know…maybe call me? I need clients (buyers, renters, and sellers!).

Ok, so two huge new things. Both have meant that CDR and I have to live pretty tightly. My new income is commission based, so I’m living off of savings and a little bit of support from my parents. Pretty tight living, but good living. To keep costs down, we’ve been planning our menus a week in advance. I teased him about this, for his meticulous planning, but really–it saves a ton of money. Other money savers: Buying a whole chicken, butchering it yourself, and then making your own stock. Seriously, guys. Chicken is so expensive. You probably will save between$3-$6 just buying it whole, and then butchering it yourself. And you’ll save $3-$4 dollars by making your own stock and you’ll get twice as much. Just throw the back bone and gizzards into a pot or slow cooker with herbs, lemon, garlic, onions, veggies (really whatever you want) and cover with water. Simmer in a pot for an hour, or slow cook as long as you want, strain and jar it up. Keep in the fridge for a week or store it in the freezer for a couple months. Totally worth it. I’ve found that my favorite stock was made with a sliced lemon, a bunch of fresh cilantro, and a couple cloves of unpeeled garlic (salt and pepper to taste). Yep. That’s it. And you’ve saved about $10 total. Do this once a week and each month you’ll have enough wings to do a “wing night” for two. 🙂

Do the same with leftover veggies and make vegetable stock.

OK. Food time. Before we moved and on a night when the weather was particularly awesome and we were feeling close to our SoCal roots, we decided that seafood tacos with a chipotle sauce were the only way to go. SO, we went to Whole Foods and bought some calamari and shrimp. We let them marinate for about 15 minutes in some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.marinatingseafood

And meanwhile, CDR made the chipotle sauce. Pretty sure it’s just mayo mixed with a bit of dijon and some adobo sauce from a can of chipotles. And maybe some lime juice and cider vinegar.

Fancy.

Fancy.

Then we skewered the seafood and grilled it (I, as always, was in charge of the grilling–because, you, know…I’m a grillin’ machine).grillintime

Holler!

Holler!

We created our taco assembly line.

Red onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, limes, seafood, and corn tortillas

Red onion, tomato, cilantro, avocado, limes, seafood, and corn tortillas

And assembled some bad-ass SoCal tacos. Drizzle with fresh lime juice and chipotle sauce. Serve with beans and rice and you got yourself the best damn tacos ever!

These babies fell from Heaven and right into my tum tum!

These babies fell from Heaven and right into my tum tum!

Ok, actually, the shrimp was a little weird. But I’m very particular about my shrimp. I think it was slightly under-done or something, but the calamari was perfect. The trouble is that when you’re skewering shrimp, it curls up. And usually, a curled shrimp is the way to tell doneness, but if it starts out curly it’s all a timing thing. But typically 3 minutes on one side and 2-3 on the other is pretty good for shrimp.

So yeah. Seafood tacos. A win.

Thanks for stopping by, and don’t forget to tell your friends I’m a fancy realtor in Chicago now. 🙂

Love and Foodie Hugs.

Fancy Fish and Cookies

Hey guys!

I’m kind of in a hurry to clean my room for the cleaning lady tomorrow (oh come on, we all know that chestnut) SO, I’ll try to make this as brief as possible–with little heart-felt yammerings.

Yammerings: This week I started my new job as a nanny, and it was a little rough, but mostly pretty great. The paycheck was nice too. Still looking to fill five more hours of childcare and/or personal assistant work on Thursdays…so please feel free to hit me up (I know, not so heartfelt). I had a wonderful girl’s lunch with Gabs and Em on Thursday and it was exactlt what all of us needed. Two whole hours of laughter. And yesterday, I saw A Christmas Carol and Paul was my date for the evening. He even accompanied me for late night tacos. Thanks, bud. A little bit each day, I feel like I’m a little less on the crazy train. A little bit. Please note that as I say this, I have six GIANT sheets of blank paper strewn about my room that I have to turn into backdrops for the Christmas pageant. There’s a million canvases and articles of clothing thrown around and between me and the computer screen I have: a toiletry bag, a Victoria’s Secret perfume box, a journal, Nine Kinds of Naked, two pill bottles (left over from the pneumonia), an inhaler, sheet music, a notebook, an old mp3 player, insurance papers, a necklace, a hair clip, Pier 1 reed diffuser fragrance, and about $8.50 in change (dimes and pennies). So. A while still on the crazy train.

BUT. On Friday night, I decided that I would make CDR a fancy date-night dinner. I decided that the menu would be grilled salmon, orzo-stuffed tomatoes, and a kale, spinach, and red pepper saute. All in all, pretty fantabulous. We paired it with a delightful pinot grigio (but keep in mind that with salmon, you could really go either way–white or red) and enjoyed ourselves on a makeshift indoor picnic blanket.

Oooh la la, que bueno!

Oooh la la, que bueno!

To make these dreamy little balls of heaven (pretend I came up with something better to say), you simply hollow out tomatoes and sprinkle them with a little S&P. Reserve the liquid from the tomatoes, because you can use it to cook the orzo (or rice, or cous cous, or whatever). In a small saucepan, toast two tabelspoons of butter, 1 sliced shallot, and 1 clove of garlic. When the butter has melted, add 1 1/2 cups of orzo and lightly toast. Pour in the tomato liquid and chicken stock and cook orzo until done (about 8 min). Make a breadcrumb topping by combining breadcrumbs and a variety of herbs (I used parsley, basil, and rosemary) with salt, pepper, and olive oil (HINT: also add some parm. I was out of cheese, so I couldn’t do that part). When the orzo is done, stir in half of the breadcrumb mixture and fill the tomatoes (you’ll have orzo left over for later). Sprinkle the tops of the ‘maters with the rest of the bread crumb mixture, drizzle with a little bit more olive oil, and throw them under a low broiler for a few minutes. Delish, is really all that I can say.

It didn't even taste healthy!

It didn’t even taste healthy!

For the kale and spinach mixture, first chop a shallot and a clove of garlic and bring it to temperature with a bit of olive oil and butter (1 1/2 TBL total). Also, if you’d like (and I liked) add 1/2 tsp of red chili flake. Then add 1 sliced red bell pepper at saute 2 min. Add one bunch of kale and one bunch of spinach (this stuff wilts down to almost nothing, so if you’re cooking for more than 2, be sure account for that), and saute until it wilts, but still has a bit of a bite to it. Sprinkle in a dash of nutmeg, too. It brings out the flavor of greens.Now, for this salmon–I went a little outside my fish comfort zone. Usually, I just like to drizzle with a bit of olive oil and salt and pepper it and be done with it, because I like to keep the fish as pure and as simple as possible. BUT, I thought, what the hell? Make it herbacious, right? So, about ten minutes before I threw it on the grill, I slathered it with some honey mustard, basil, parsley, rosemary, salt, pepper, and a little bit of lemon juice. Slathered may not be the right word…because I definitely just lightly coated it. Threw it on the grill 4 min a side (I took it a little far. 3 min a side would have been better) The flavor was unbelievable and the skin was crispy.

Look how yumy!!

Look how yumy!!

This has CDR's stamp of approval!

This has CDR’s stamp of approval!

Now, with Friday night’s successful dinner, I thought I’d make fancy Christmas cookies on Saturday morning. They really aren’t that fancy. They’re sugar cookies with some chopped rosemary. Couldn’t be easier. Everyone has their own favorite sugar cookie recipe, so just use that and add about 1 tablespoon of chopped FRESH rosemary, and it gives your cookies a wonderful pine, Christmas flavor.

I wish YOU a Merry Christmas!

I wish YOU a Merry Christmas!

So maybe this year we give Santa a little sophistication and leave him some nice rosemary-sugar cookies. They’re delectable, and quite perfect for those of us that want to feel a little grown-up this Christmas.

Make enough for reindeer!

Make enough for reindeer!

Ciao, guys. I have a room to clean.

Something Magical This Way Comes…

“Sometimes you can’t  go back, but why’d you have to go and make a mess like that?

I just have to say before I let go…Have you ever been low?”

Absolutely I was playing my old CDs again. It isn’t my fault Kelly Clarkson, Five for Fighting, and Julie Roberts all had relevant things to say. Well, it’s been quite the whirlwind. Wizard of Oz closes tomorrow (and you all will miss out if you don’t come) and life is starting to calm down. I’m starting to…just starting to…feel like myself again. Now, I’m not without my tears, but slowly and surely…I’m coming back. I can even listen to that ridiculous song by the Fray without crying now. Accomplishment? Yes.

But I’m looking for a little more. A little magic. And maybe I just need to get back to Woods Hole (two weeks and three days!)  and sit on the beach or go sailing or have drinks at the Kydd or late night pie at Pie in the Sky and it will all just go away and feel much better. Sunny with a chance. It is the place I feel most myself, so maybe…that’s all the magic I need.

“Fifteen, there’s still time for you.

Twenty-two I feel her too.

Thirty-three you’re on your way…

Every day’s a new day.”

But in my search for magic and in the event that life slowed down a bit, I had the chance last week (was it Tuesday?) to cook something a little more decadent than usual. Salmon with a blueberry sauce. OH MY GOODNESS. So delicious. Found the recipe here. I followed it exactly with the exception of using fresh rosemary instead of fresh thyme. I served it with some grains and a salad. It was really unbelievable. And I had more pictures for you, but now I can’t find my camera cord…so this will have to do.

Tell me you don’t want to bite into this…

For dessert, I made peanut butter cups. Also magically decadent. I mixed a cup of peanut butter with a cup (give or take) each of powdered sugar and graham cracker crumbs. Then I mixed in a bit of vanilla extract and a stick of melted butter. Press firmly into a small pan and cover with melted semi-sweet chocolate. Couldn’t be easier. See?

I’ll try to find that camera cord asap, so that I can show you process photos of making the salmon and sauce. But really, give this one a shot. It’s completely worth it.

So, to recap: I’m a bit better, I just keep swimming. I need a little magic–and I’m finding it in my food, my theater, love, family, books, and as always–water. Just reaching out into the cyber infinite, hoping these words find someone who is also a little stuck. Are you there, God? It’s me, Margaret. Ha.

Eat well.

“I’m in trouble if these wheels stop rolling.

So god help me keep moving somehow,

don’t let me start wishing…

I’d sure hate to break down here.”

 

Loaded Tuna Melt

Hey, kids. Wow. 6 weeks flew so fast. I find myself hours away from the opening of Wizard of Oz–exhausted–but determined to stand up and steer the ship (or balloon, or…Oz puppet…or something…). An hour ago, I was trying to catch up on a bit of sleep when I got an email from my grandmother: The Stratford Festival has released its 2013 season…and would I like to go? Back to Canada?

Again, six weeks has flown. Feeling that dip again, I decided I needed to pull myself together. Stop moping, turn the news off (thoughts and prayers to CO, by the way…how absolutely heartbreaking), wake up, and for cry eye! Stop listening to Eleanor Rigby. Seriously, crazy. Stop it. You have cupcakes to make, a green dress to slip into, and a great show to call.

So, I get into the kitchen…and decided something. I don’t NEED to make cupcakes today. It is someone’s birthday–but I’m allowed–just this once–to buy the cupcakes from a store. I’m frickin exhausted and simply can’t spend two hours making 70 cupcakes. I just can’t. This is big, guys. This was Anna taking time for Anna.

But I was still hungry. And the potlucks at tech the last few days have been one carb and sodium overload fest that I decided I needed to make something healthy, packed with protein, and veggies need to at least make an appearance. Tuna Melt, anyone?

Let’s start with the tuna. The trick with tuna salad is to keep it moist enough, and for a a tuna melt–simple enough, without losing the integrity of the tuna. Just took two small cans of tuna (still too much for one person, but the leftovers are good) and drained them and mixed it in a bowl with 1/4 cup diced onion, 1 heaping teaspoons of dijon, 2 1/2 heaping teaspoons of mayo (I used LIGHT), and a couple dashes of hot sauce. And to try something new, I also added a few dashes of fish sauce. Salt and pepper, too, of course.

I buttered two pieces of bread (just on one side), and began layering up the sandwich (in the meantime, I had a small frying pan heating up on the stove). Extra sharp cheddar cheese, some tuna, lettuce, tomato, red peppers, and a drizzle of balsamic glaze.

And you should all know the cooking method. Just like a grilled cheese. Pan fry till the cheese is melted and the bread is toasted.

Delicious. Sure, not as healthy as it could have been…but it really wasn’t that unhealthy. The worst of it was the butter and mayonnaise, but there are always other options for that. You can pan fry in a little bit of olive oil (or even coconut oil), and omit mayo from the salad. Options, options, options. Experiment.

I am thankful tonight, that I get to go make art with some of the world’s best people. Never have I been a part of a process  in which every single member of the production team, crew, and cast are of the purest of hearts. Perks of working with kids, right? Their wonderful energy and spirits have really helped me get through the last month. And I am so proud of all of them. I hope you all come see it. Stahl Family Theater on Austin and Belmont in Chicago. Tickets are $12, curtain is at 7:30. You should all come.

Hold on to your breath, Hold on to your hope, Hold on to your heart…

Tuna Burgers

Hey everyone! I just finished reading (literally two hours ago) Richard Russo’s That Old Cape Magic, a novel that takes place largely on Cape Cod. It wasn’t very sad at all, but often, my eyes would well up as the Cape was described in perfect detail, and made me long to return. August. It’s not that far away. But anyway, as I was closing the book, Rachael Ray was on tv, cooking up some cod burgers and recalling her childhood on Cape Cod. All of a sudden, I was craving a lunch that reminded me of sitting on our deck, a block away from the ocean, and enveloped by trees (Woods Hole, guys). I could have run out to the store and bought seafood salad, and put it in a pita pocket with some avacado…a standby lunch when I’m there, but I don’t trust seafood salad in the midwest. I looked through my pantry and saw a small can of tuna. Okay, tuna burgers…um, burger.

Drain the tuna and put it in a bowl. I added a few heavy-handed tablespoons of teriyaki sauce, half of a clove of minced garlic, about a teaspoon of chopped scallion, a pinch of ginger (if I had fresh ginger on hand, and a larger quantity of tuna, I would have used that instead), half of a beaten egg, and a few crackers that I had crushed completely so that they resembled bread crumbs. I mixed it all together and then formed it. An interesting tip in forming tuna burgers—because they aren’t as sturdy as ground beef—is to line a small tupperware container with plastic wrap and put the tuna in there. Remove the tuna from the container (wrapped in the plastic) and there you have a nicely formed burger. Put it in the fridge to set up–that’s what mine is doing right now. It can hang out in there as long as you want, and that’s a good thing, because I’m not quite hungry yet.

Okay, a few hours later. I heated a little bit (a VERY little bit) of extra virgin olive oil in a skillet and pan fried the tuna burger—about three minutes a side. I toasted some whole wheat bread and sliced some tomatoes. I put some whole-grain mustard on the toast, then the burger, then tomatoes, and a few pieces of lettuce. I can’t even tell you how satisfying it was. Healthy, too. I wanted to take a picture, but this time I couldn’t find my camera. Here’s a picture of my house in Woods Hole. Is that better?

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