Tag Archives: quick

December Cooking Club’s MUST Ingredient: Maple Syrup

3 Dec

2012-12-02_12-34-56_899Are you drooling over this spread?!  This photo depicts yesterday’s maple syrup-infused brunch gathering for our December iteration of cooking club.  This cooking club was a little different than past ones.  Lauren and Bryan, our fantastic hosts this month,  decided the format would be like Iron Chef.  Here were the rules bestowed upon the group.

Iron Chef Rules:

1.       All competition dishes must be “mostly homemade” and include the spotlight ingredient

a.       December spotlight ingredient: maple syrup

2.       Participants can enter up to two dishes in the competition

3.       Entries can be food or drink

4.       Dishes will be judged on a scale of 1-5 in each of the following categories: taste, presentation, and originality

5.       The winner will receive the coveted Iron Chef Champion trophy to be kept until the next competition

a.       The winner is responsible for adding at least one upgrade to the trophy before it gets awarded to the next champion

The result?  Candied maple bacon with assorted dipping sauces, pumpkin bread pudding, creamy maple polenta, baked maple french toast with praline topping, maple glazed potatoes, and my maple pecan coconut breakfast quinoa.  It was not simply bragging rights that were on the line here.  A gold plated gnome trophy you see sitting on the middle of the table taunted us all.  Claire and Grant ultimately won the competition with their fantastic bacon entry, but I don’t think anyone’s dish was short of tasty, presentable, and creative.  Here’s a picture of the winners and the gnome they get to don in their home for the next month:


A good nap on the couch happened that afternoon- that’s when you know you were well-fed!  Another successful edition of cooking club.  Next month we are looking at a ginger ingredient theme.  Ironically, I made this suggestion but am not too familiar with cooking with ginger.  Any suggestions out there for me?

A quick look at my contribution.  I followed this recipe for Maple Pecan Coconut Quinoa and added raisins within the quinoa as well as coconut flakes for a topping option.  It turned out great and I recommend it wholeheartedly for a balanced breakfast option.  You’ll get protein, fiber, and healthy fats out of this meal.  Further, it is dairy and gluten free so even those with dietary constraints can enjoy this.  I hope you’ll give it a try.  I can see it becoming an addition to my breakfast staples for sure! 

Serves 6
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 can light organic coconut milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • coconut flakes, enough to sprinkle


  1. Pour coconut milk into medium saucepan and put over high heat. Add quinoa and heat until boiling. Once mixture is boiling, stir and lower to a simmer. Cook covered for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Fluff quinoa with a fork and add maple syrup as well as raisins. Stir.
  3. Serve with pecan halves and coconut flakes.2012-12-02_10-38-34_76

Pan-fried Cajun Tilapia

5 May

I find that eating fish is so much more interesting when you do more than simply throwing it on the grill with minimal or the same old same old seasonings.  A quick and easy recipe for tilapia in my book is a Pan-fried Cajun Tilapia.  I eat this just about every week!  It is great paired with brown rice or beans and salad or steamed/roasted veggies (you know where I’m at on the steamed/roasted veggies from my previous post about roasted broccoli.)  For this particular meal, Bryan had come home with a great find for a side- Steamable Petite Sweet Potatoes.  At around 115 calories/potato, they were not just adorable and scrumptious but also very reasonable.  He found them at our local Giant Food Store.  Here they are:

Steamables Petite Sweet Potatoes

So, shall we get back to talking about the main show?  Let’s see about those ingredients- most of which you likely already have in your home.  As I normally cook for B and I, this meal serves 2 (with a leftover lunch for me!)


  • About a lb of fresh tilapia fillets
  • Reduced-fat grated Parmesan cheese
  • Plain breadcrumbs
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Apprx. 2 TBS olive oil
Pan-fried Cajun Tilapia Key Players


  1. Wash your tilapia fillets thoroughly with water and dry.
  2. On a dinner-sized plate, create a nice layer of the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, and cajun seasoning (I eyeball this but you want to aim for a ratio about 2/3 bread crumbs to 1/3 parm and cajun seasoning.  I am not shy on my cajun seasoning because I like the flavor so much.)
  3. In a large skillet, add about half of the olive and turn on the stove to a medium-high heat.
  4. Meanwhile, coat your fillets thoroughly on both sides with your dry ingredients mixture.
  5. Drop those fillets in your skillet and cook approximately 3-4 minutes each side.  When you flip sides, go ahead and add that remaining olive oil.  The tilapia is fully cooked once the fish “flakes” with a fork.

Here are some of the actions photos:

Coating your tilapia fillets

The pan frying step

There you have it…a quick and easy meal to add to your post vacation/ post eating extravaganza recovery menu options.  My final product looked like so: