Lighter & Healthier

10 years ago, if you’d told me that I’d move to the far west, cookie-cutter suburbs of Houston and judge most of the restaurants frequent-visit list by the quality of their playground and not necessarily the food, I might have laughed in your face.

Probably would have, actually. All those margaritas I made with Mrs Ts neon-green bottled mix would have no-doubt left me pretty giggly.

But here we are 10 years later. In the far west, cookie-cutter suburbs of Houston. And we judge most of the restaurants that we frequently visit by the presence of a playground, the quality of said playground, and lastly: the food.

One of those restaurants shoots to the top of that list simply because of the playground. Because why else would anyone pay more for average TexMex when you can get better, for less?

But we have a 4 year old with endless amounts of squeals and climb-up-the-slide energy. And they have free ice cream and a covered playground smack-dab in the middle of the cookie-cutter suburbs. They are, as you can imagine, raging successful.

And sometimes being able to talk over a bowl of chips and green sauce on a patio while The Little plays 20 feet away is totally worth it. So you pick your battles. And I made peace with it once I discovered their Fish Tacos with double Cucumber-Mango salsa. Because the fresh, crunchy, and sweet salsa has been the best thing I’ve tasted there.

At home, we ditch the oily coleslaw and heavy chipotle mayo that comes on the restaurant version in favor of keeping it light and simple: chile-lime grilled fish, thin slices of avocado, cucumber-mango salsa, and whatever crumbled cheese I have (queso fresco or goat cheese).

Fresh, bright, light, and flavorful. And if we had a rocking playground like that our backyard, we’d never have to go back.

Grilled Chile-Lime Fish Tacos with Cucumber-Mango Salsa

Flaky white fish seasoned with chile and lime is topped with a sweet, fresh scoop of cucumber and mango salsa and queso fresco.

Ingredients

  • For the fish:
  • 1 lb tilapia
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges
  • Chile powder (I used chipotle)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive oil
  • For serving:
  • 1/2 cup diced mango
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • Small handful of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and chopped
  • Tortillas
  • Crumbled cheese (queso fresco or goat cheese)

Instructions

  1. Preheat your grill to medium-high.
  2. Squeeze a couple of lime wedges over the fish and then season both sides with salt, pepper, and dust with chile powder.
  3. When the grill is heated, lightly spray/brush the filets with olive oil and cook for ~4 minutes each side.
  4. In a medium bowl, stir together the mango, cucumber, red onion, cilantro, and jalapeno with a pinch of salt and the juice from 1-2 lime wedges (to taste).
  5. Squeeze the remaining limes over the fish when it comes off the grill.
  6. Flake the fish into large bite-sized pieces and serve on tortillas topped with a generous scoop of salsa and crumbled cheese.

Notes

Yields: ~6 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 30 minutes

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DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

The first time I made it, I called it “Cheater’s Cherries Jubilee.” For a few nights more in a row than I’ll admit on the internet, I pitted ~2 dozen cherries into a small bowl, dropped a piece of orange peel in, and popped it in the microwave for 90 seconds.

I scooped the still-warm, slightly-tart cherry sauce over a bowl of vanilla ice cream and borderline inappropriately oooh’ed and aaah’ed my way through dessert.

But only borderline inappropriately.

DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

90 seconds. That’s all it took for a quarter-pound of fresh cherries to cook into a borderline magical dessert sauce. No butter, no booze, and most importantly: I still have both of my eyebrows.

After a couple of nights of making single-serving cherry sauce in the microwave, I buckled down and pitted an entire pound of cherries for a larger, “yogurt topping” batch.

It took two 90-second trips through the microwave with a couple of pieces of orange peel, a little cornstarch to help it “gel” just a bit more, and a few drops of liquid stevia at the end just to sweeten it enough to take the edge off my morning bowl of plain Greek yogurt. (When I make it for ice cream, I dodn’t add sweetener at all.)

DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

Making your own fresh cherry dessert topping couldn’t be easier. I mean, maybe it could… but I think you’ll be happier with a DIY version than opening up a jar.

And it’s applications are endless: top pancakes and waffles, scoop over ice cream, swirl into your favorite brownie batter, serve over plain cheesecake, swirl into yogurt… I could keep going. But then I’d have to make another batch.

DIY: Fresh Cherry Sauce

Fresh Cherry Sauce

Fresh cherries are turned into a decadent ice cream or yogurt topping in just 3 minutes in the microwave.

Ingredients

  • ~1 1/4 lb cherries, pitted to yield 1 lb
  • 2 1x3-inch lengths of orange peel
  • 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • Sweetener of choice (optional; I used 4 drops liquid stevia)

Instructions

  1. Place cherries and orange peel in a microwave-safe bowl and sprinkle cornstarch over top.
  2. Microwave on high for 90 seconds, stir, and heat for another 90 seconds - the mixture will bubble up so don't walk away! Or better, place a paper towel under the bowl.
  3. Add any sweetener, if desired, and let cool a bit.
  4. Scoop the still-warm sauce over ice cream for Cheater Cherries Jubilee or chill completely and swirl into yogurt.
  5. Will keep at least a week in a jar in the fridge.

Notes

Yields: 2 cups

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 15 minutes

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Spicy Salmon and Grilled Pineapple Wrap

I have lost track of the number of pineapples we’ve grilled in the last two months. But that number shot up last week when they were .99 each. Because you know me and how I love to hoard a good produce sale.

If you’ve never grilled a pineapple, let me tell you what you’re missing out on. First, a fresh pineapple is so much more flavorful, vibrantly-colored, and crisper than canned pineapple. Give a sweet, yellow round to the grill and you get back a round of caramelized, lightly charred, smokey perfection that you can do anything with.

Margaritas. Guacamole. Nachos. Burgers. Tacos. Salsa. This salmon. And even more salmon!

Or, you know, slap two rounds on a plate and call it lunch. Or breakfast. No judging here.

Spicy Salmon and Grilled Pineapple Wrap

I had leftovers from one of my very, very favorite ways to prepare salmon (seriously, if you haven’t tried it – do it!) and wrapped it up.

Sweet, smokey pineapple. Spicy salmon and weapons-grade jalapenos. Crunchy kale and red onions. A supposed-to-be-cooling-but-not-really-because-that-jalapeno-was-just-way-too-&^%$#@!-hot dollop of Greek yogurt.

A healthy, satisfying lunch… or at least it will be when my face stops burning.

Spicy Salmon and Grilled Pineapple Wrap

Spicy Salmon and Grilled Pineapple Wrap

Leftover salmon goes lunch with smokey, grilled pineapple and cool, crunchy veggies.

Ingredients

  • 1 sandwich wrap
  • Greek yogurt
  • Leftover salmon filet
  • 1 grilled pineapple round, halved
  • Tomato slices
  • 2-3 kale leaves, torn to fit the wrap
  • Sliced jalapenos (or not)
  • Sliced red onion

Instructions

  1. To grill the pineapple, remove the husk, core, and cut into 1/2-inch slices. Grill on med-high for 4-5 minutes each side, until nicely caramelized.
  2. Spread a dollop of Greek yogurt over the wrap.
  3. Top with salmon, pineapple, tomato, kale, jalapenos, and red onion.
  4. Roll up and cut in half.
  5. Serve immediately.
  6. (Optional) Bury face in a snow bank to put out the heat.

Notes

Yields: 1 serving

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 15 minutes

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Grilled Zucchini and Red Onion Sandwich

You can do a lot of amazing things with zucchini. You can bread it and bake it for the faux-fry treatment. And then dip in ranch. Because the answer is always ranch (when it’s not margarita).

Crispy Baked Zucchini Fries

You can caramelize it in some bacon grease [swoon] and toss it into a peppery, velvety smooth carbonara for what is quite possibly the best pasta dish you’ll make all summer.

Zucchini Carbonara

But my all-time favorite for the last few years? Grilling it with red onions and topping with a simple, insanely versatile, you-have-all-these-ingredients-already vinaigrette.

Grillzed Zucchini & Red Onions

I make the grilled zucchini twice a week and eat it most nights as our veggie side. And most days, I pile the leftovers onto a chunk of baguette with a smear of mayo and a dizzle of vinaigrette, pop it under the broiler with some cheese, and call it lunch.

It’s my favorite summer lunch. My favorite summer sandwich.

And it’s pretty close to the best thing that could ever happen to zucchini.

Grilled Zucchini & Red Onion Sandwich

Summery sandwich made with grilled zucchini and red onions, topped with a lemon basil vinaigrette.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Preheat the broiler.
  2. Spread mayo on the bread and pile high with zucchini and red onions.
  3. Take a spoonful or two of leftover vinaigrette from the bowl and spoon over top.
  4. Top with cheese and broil for 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted.
  5. Cut in half to make 2 sandwiches; serve hot.

Notes

Yields: 2 servings

Source: Confections of a Foodie Bride

Estimated time: 10 minutes

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