Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fire Roasted Fish Soup

White fish, tomato-y, coconut broth, and a little heat. That warms up my little heart just writing it. Seriously, in the winter, I really tend to crave that combo of acid, heat, creamy. And a little protein doesn't hurt either.

This soup is simple and so so good. It's also something different to do with fish when you're bored of the dill and lemon routine. It's also a great way to eat fish without it being so fishy if you and yourn have trouble with fish.

As a cheapskate, it's a great way to use cheap fish without it tasting cheap (we used tilapia, but I've also use swai, which is super cheap for fish). This dish is also the perfect place for leftover fish. I hate it when we wind up with, like, 1 1/2 fillets of fish. It can't really feed the family again, and it starts to taste fishy as a leftover. Well, let me tell you, this is the PERFECT place for that to go.

Soups like this also strike me as inherently romantic--creamy, hot, sophisticated with a piece of rustic bread torn from the loaf and then dipped into the soup. Tactile. Comforting. Sigh. (Note: This type of soup does not strike Kip as inherently romantic. His idea of romance is more like a nice big steak with a potato and maybe even a fun trip to Golden Corral. Why, yes, we do have to take turns choosing restaurants for our anniversaries--why do you ask?)

Fire Roasted Fish Soup
adapted from Tasty Trix
Serves 4
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 30 minutes
Cost: $3.55
onion: .15, peppers: .30, tomatoes: 1.00, broth: .10, coconut milk: .75, bouillon: .10, fish: 2.00-4.00 (we used less than the recipe calls for and I liked it best that way--thus the $2), other stuff: .15

Note: I only use about half this much fish. I like the soup brothy-er. This is also the perfect place for leftover fish. Just throw it in at the end of cooking.

1 white or yellow onion, diced
1-2 hot peppers (if you're wimpy like me, this can be a jalapeno; if you're brave/crazy you can go super hot with something like a habanero)
1-2 Tbsp peanut oil
16 oz fire roasted tomatoes (or plain old diced tomatoes if you're in a pinch)
1/2 C chicken broth
1/2 can coconut milk (that's 7 ounces)
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon granules
several springs fresh thyme
1 pound white fish (or less; we can make do with much less)
salt and pepper to taste

Roast the peppers until they're charred. You can do this under the broiler if you'd like, but if this is the type of first step that makes you want to run, screaming, to McDonald's, then just give those peppers a hot saute (cut 'em up, put them in a pan, and cook on high or medium high).  Remove some or all of the seeds depending on the type of peppers used and your own wimpiness levels. Now add those onions to some oil and cook them until they soften. Puree the peppers and onion with 1/2 the tomatoes (if your family doesn't like chunky broths, then just puree it all--this is what I did).

In a stock pot, put broth, remaining tomatoes (if you didn't puree them), coconut milk, chicken bouillon granules, and thyme. Bring to a simmer. Add in the pureed mixture bit by bit, tasting as you go if you're worried it'll get too hot from the peppers (if you used wimpy peppers like me, you're fine). Add salt and pepper to taste, and allow to simmer for another 5-10 minutes. Now add your fish and simmer another 10 minutes. Just plop that fish in there raw and it will cook up in the broth without becoming overcooked and gummy as fish can sometimes do.

Serve with a nice rustic bread or a plop of rice right into the soup.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Oatmeal Pancakes (made with leftover oatmeal)

No one's going to judge you for throwing away that leftover oatmeal in your pot (unless, maybe, you had a grandmother who suffered through the Depression). It's so cheap that saving it is not going to make or break you. And, I mean, have you ever seen leftover oatmeal--it looks gross. No one wants to eat it, even if you tell them it will taste just fine after you've warmed it up.


When we were trying to live on $6/day, we didn't waste (usually) anything. I really enjoyed that--the frugality and the feeling that the things under our stewardship got used as well as possible.

Even that isn't quite enough, however, to compel me towards the leftover oatmeal. But this...this recipe is. With this recipe, you are not slogging through gray, slimy-looking oatmeal. With this recipe, you are stepping into a cute little bed and breakfast and being treated to a pretty and delicious meal. Seriously, these pancakes are fabulous. And easy to make. And just as pretty and golden and non-lumpy as any other pancakes (don't let the dough scare you--it will be lumpy). And cheap.

So go on, now you can have your warm, fresh oatmeal and eat your leftovers too.

My kids ate these Pace style with plenty of syrup or a smear of Nutella, but when my son's friends came over later, they just grabbed the leftovers and walked around eating them like pieces of toast.

Oatmeal Pancakes (made with leftover oatmeal)
adapted from Smitten Kitchen
makes about 16-20 pancakes (3-4 inches)
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 15-20 minutes
Cost: $1.00
oat flour: .15, flour: .10, sugar: 02, butter: .18, milk: .20, honey: .15, eggs: .20

3/4 C oat flour (can be made by blending or food processing regular oats; whole wheat flour may also work)
1 C all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
3 Tbsp butter, melted, but not crazy hot
1 1/4 C milk
1 C cooked oatmeal
1 Tbsp honey
2 eggs

Combine dry ingredients.

In a separate bowl, melt the butter, heat the leftover oatmeal, then combine those to the other wet ingredients (milk, honey, and eggs)

Add wet to dry. Mix.

Cook on a skillet over medium heat as you would regular pancakes.


Thursday, January 15, 2015

My Three Favorite Green Leafy Salads or Dressings

I guess it is January and all. I keep buying greens at any rate. Which is a good thing except when they jut stare at you from their little bag/clamshell and you wonder what on earth to do with them.

Rainbow Salad: This one's pretty. Also diverse.

Tree House Salad: This one's easy. And a little sweet/crunchy. I'm going to have to say that it's my favorite simple salad because you basically just need romaine, nuts, and goat cheese. It feels super sophisticated and fairly healthy and balanced without having 700 ingredients.

Orange Dressing: My favorite viniagrette.


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