Monday, May 25, 2015

Cheesecake-Stuffed Strawberries

Sweetened cream cheese piped into strawberries, with an optional garnish of graham cracker crumbs and blueberries.  Such a nice "red, white, and blue" presentation - ideal for a patriotic holiday, such as Memorial Day, Veteran's Day or July 4th!


1 lb. (16 oz) fresh strawberries
8 oz pkg cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 - 1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp almond, rum or coconut extract
Blueberries, optional
Crushed graham crackers / graham cracker crumbs, optional


Cut the stems off from the strawberries.

Holding the strawberry horizontally, use a knife to remove a small portion of the bottom of the strawberry so that it will stand upright without falling over.

Using a knife or melon baller, hull out the middle, but be careful not scoop too deep, as to tear it.

Beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, and extracts by hand or with a mixer,  until light and fluffy.
Tip:  Always sift powdered sugar before using in a recipe.

Put the prepared cream cheese mixture to a piping bag lined with a star tip, and pipe the filling into each of the prepped strawberries.

(Cook's Note: For those of you who don't have a piping bag and tips, you could try putting spoonful of cream cheese mixture into the strawberry and swirl it with the back of a fork, while applying light pressure and sweeping upwards! It may not be as pretty, but it might work in a pinch!)

Open or closed star frosting tips are recommended.

If you'd like, top each strawberry with a blueberry and a light sprinkle of graham cracker crumbs.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Blackened Fish Tacos with Avocado-Cilantro Sauce

Blackened Fish:
1.5 lbs tilapia fillets
1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon brown sugar
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
Queso Fresco or Cotija Cheese (Optional)
2 tablespoons canola oil
12 corn or flour tortillas

½ red cabbage, sliced thin
¼ green cabbage, sliced thin
½ medium-sized onion, diced
½ cup cilantro
Juice of 1 lime

Avocado-Cilantro Sauce:
½ cup sour cream
1 ripe avocado, pitted and skinned
¼ cup cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 jalapeno, chopped and seeded
Salt, to taste

The original recipe did not include cheese, but hey - cheese and tacos
just naturally go together, in my opinion.  You don't have to use much!

PREP:  Slice and pit your avocado.
The pit came out very easily in this ripe avocado. Just took a knife,
went under it and popped it right out!

If your avocado is really ripe, like mine was, you should just be
able to take a spoon around the edges of the skin and easily scoop
out the flesh.  the other method is to score it vertically and
horizontally, then use the spoon to remove the cubed pieces.

Got my garnishments all ready!
Ok!  With prep out of the way, let's get this taco party started!  :-)

In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, dried oregano, onion powder, cumin, salt, brown sugar, and cayenne pepper.

Sprinkle the mixture over both sides of your tilapia fillets, and then rub the seasonings in.

Be sure to season BOTH sides!

Combine all of the Avocado-Cilantro Sauce ingredients in a food processor or blender. Pulse until well-combined.

I put mine in a squeeze bottle. 

Combine all of the Slaw ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.  (Cook's Note:  I didn't want to buy whole heads of cabbage that I didn't need, so I found that you can use slaw mixes from the fresh veggie aisle at your local grocer.  Choose one that has cabbage and color in it.  For this one, I went with a broccoli slaw and just added my own purple onion.)
I used a fresh, bagged slaw rather than buy two whole heads of green/red cabbage
that I knew I wouldn't use much of! See?  You still get color using this!
Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan over medium-high heat. Once heated, add in the tilapia (a few at a time if you can't fit them all at once). Cook for 4-5 minutes on each side, or until the outside is blackened and the fish flakes apart easily.  Blackening spices are very fragrant, so turn on your overhead fan while you cook the fish!  I actually did mine outside on the patio, as to not set off the smoke detector.   :-)

Remove the fish from the heat, and if desired, lightly oil or butter our pan or skillet and warm the tortillas over medium heat, cooking for about 30 seconds on each side.  If flour tortilla puffs up, gently poke a few holes in it with a fork or toothpick to let the steam out.

Break up the tilapia into 2-3" pieces. Stack the tortillas in twos. Distribute the fish evenly between the 6 sets of tortillas, and top with Slaw and Avocado-Cilantro Sauce. Serve.