Fun With Food

We will be taking a vacation soon and heading for one of my favorite places on earth…St. George Island.

My brother, AKA Uncle Bopple, is coming home from Indiana for a week to go to the beach with the fam.  This trip will be the first time in a really long time that my whole family is all together again. I couldn’t be more excited!

We really don’t know how Bopple, became Bopple.  When Will was younger, for whatever reason Thomas came out as Bopple.  So we had Uncle Bopple and Bopple the Train.  Since, he has learned to call Bopple the Train, Thomas the Train, but Uncle Bopple has stuck and it is probably all he’ll ever know. 

Let me get on with it…

I have a few blogs I read on a regular basis, and one of them is The Homemade Parade.  Randi, the author of The Homemade Parade is amazing at what she does.  She recently started a second blog, Flying High Fun for Kids where she features fun and educational activities for children.  Her ideas are inventive, fresh,  educational and just-plain-adorable!!  I highly suggest you check out both of her blogs when you can.

At the beginning of July, Randi wrote a post titled, Summer School By The Sea.  At the end of her post she mentioned an Octopus and Sea Shell Supper.  Curious, I had to follow the link to find out more.  I’m so glad I did!

Randi made shells and cheese macaroni, strategically cut a hotdog to resemble an octopus, and gently placed it on top of the “shells.”  It was the cutest beach-themed supper I’d ever seen.

Directions, here.   (Scroll towards the bottom for Octopus and Sea Shell Supper, however, but be sure to check out all of the recipes listed.)

Low and behold, last weekend I was debating on what to make Will for lunch.  Then it hit me!  I would start putting Will in the beach-y mood by making him “Octopus and Sea Shell Supper.”

I can’t tell you how thrilled he was, and how excited he got.

He even announced to me every time he took a bite of his octopus. 

“I’m eating one of his legs, Mama.”

Giggle, giggle.  “I just ate his head.”

“I’m going to eat 2 legs now!”

It was so cute to watch his face light up and get excited.  It was also fun because we snuck in a little sea creature/counting lesson and he didn’t even know it.

He now reminds at least twice a week that octopus have 8 “legs.” 

I’ve tried to tell him they are tentacles, but to an almost-three-year old, ‘legs’ are all he wants to hear.

Here is a picture of my little beach bum and his Octopus and Sea Shell Supper.

Here’s a shot of our Octo-dog and Shells.

Lastly, here’s a cute picture of my little man.

Catch you on the flip side,

-EmJ

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Super-Easy Delicious Fish Tacos

 I am ab-so-lutely in LOVE with Mexican food.  It is one of my favorites!

There’s been just one little problem.  Taco’s, one of the simplest go-to meals in our house, have been getting a little boring lately.  I decided to freshen it up a bit and branch out…but only slightly.

My answer to this was easy… FISH Tacos.  But not just any fish tacos; Super-Easy Delicious Fish Tacos!  Fish tacos so good, that they would make Dora-Dora-Dora the Explorer grab her little back-pack and head on over to our house to join us for dinner.

I started out making a fresh salsa.  I DESPISE jarred salsa…it just isn’t good.  So a fresh, colorful, tasty salsa HAD to be a part of my fiesta.  Luckily, we had a ton of tomatoes from the garden, so it couldn’t have been more perfect.

In my pitiful little food chopper I combined tomatoes, onions, cilantro, jalapeno, salt, and garlic powder.  Obvi, my chopper is due for replacement; I had to chop some of the ingredients (1/2 of the tomato and the onion) in phases and then combine all together in a bowl.  But sometimes, you just gotta work with what cha got.  So, until my dream comes true of a 5-cup beautiful stainless steel food processor, with all of the cool attachments that I imagine comes with it, you get to see pictures of my pitiful little cracked food chopper. 

After the salsa was combined it looked TOTALLY de-lish!

Especially accompanied with some chips, for dipping.

Bethany Frankel would be disappointed in me – snacking while cooking is not a “Naturally Thin Rule,” but honestly, who could resist?  …I think I polished off the whole plate as the preparation progressed.

Next it was time for the Guac.  Yummm…I drool just thinking about guac.  It might be my all-time-favorite snack!

In my guac, I put chunks of avocado, chopped tomato, chopped onion, chopped cilantro, lime juice, kosher salt and a few dashes of garlic powder. 

All of those delicious fresh ingredients then get “mashed” together…and taste-tested to make sure nothing is poisonous.

Now that all of the cold prep items are done and waiting.  It is time to move onto the fish.  I considered cooking the fish a number of different ways; baked, broiled, grilled.  But I ultimately decided to pan fry the fish.  My Aunt had done it this way before and it was amazing.

I took tilapia filets (that were on sale at Publix) and spread them out on a plate.  My next step was to pour yellow cornmeal all over them and lightly cover them on both sides with the cornmeal.

I didn’t dredge the fish in egg or milk before the cornmeal step, and it worked out just fine…also saved just a few small calories.

Next I cooked the fish in hot canola oil. 

While the fish cooked, I set out all of the toppings and threw together a special spiced sour cream topping to go on the tacos.

I took sour cream, cumin, garlic powder and cayenne pepper and mixed it all together.  I call it- Spiced Sour Cream….I made that up, but it sounds pretty good; and it was!

I then prepared some refried black beans.  I cheated here and bought a package from Publix.  Not a cheapo package, but an all natural, no preservatives, healthy one.  Took all of 5 minutes to prepare and was so good.

I look the last filet of fish out of the oil and started assembling the tacos.

A base of black beans, topped with shredded cheddar, hot crispy fish chunks, chunky guacamole, a dab of spiced sour cream, and then a topping of fresh salsa!

FIESTA!!  Every taste bud in my mouth was shaking a beat to imaginary maracas.

I will be making these again, for sure!  They were a big hit at the house.  They were even deemed, “Will Approved.”  He ate a whole one.

Of course, there isn’t much that isn’t “Will Approved.” I love that my child isn’t a picky eater.

Apparently, Will scarfed the taco so fast, that I only was able to catch a picture of him with his dessert…a hot chocolate chip cookie that he helped bake.

Shrimp Pizza

The other night we needed a quick fix for dinner.  Something that wouldn’t take too long, and put to use some left-overs and items we already had on hand.

You see, I hadn’t been to the grocery store, and we were running on fumes in terms of what we had on hand to eat.

The night before, we feasted upon boiled shrimp, fried shrimp, a huge salad and cheese grits.  We polished off the cheese grits, but had some left over salad and PLENTY of left over boiled shrimp.  I knew whatever I was going to make would include the left-over shrimp and salad.

Scanning the refrigerator and pantry for ideas I stumbled upon a prepared pizza crust. Not a typical prepared pizza crust, but an artisan stone-baked yummy pizza crust.  Side Note: Bought a three pack of them from Costco a month or so before – and they freeze VERY well!

I also found some fresh organic spinach, a package of sun-dried tomatoes, some prepared pesto, fresh mozzarella cheese block, 1/4 of an onion and some garlic cloves.

 Then it hit me.  I’m going to throw together a shrimp pizza!

So I did.

I brushed a layer of pesto onto the crust.  Then placed a layer of washed organic spinach. Next, I added some sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced Vidalia onion, and peeled boiled shrimp. 

To top it off I smothered the top with shredded crumbled fresh mozzarella cheese and a touch of freshly minced garlic cloves and Italian seasoning.

Side Note: I learned quickly that fresh mozzarella doesn’t shred very well with a hand-held cheese grater.  I would call it more of a crumble effect…but I was totally fine with it.

At this point, I am salivating and ravenous.

 I popped it in the oven at 400 degrees and watched until it was melted, bubbly and starting to brown ever so slightly.

 I reluctantly let the pizza sit for 5 to 10 minutes so it could cool slightly before I began cutting into it.

I served up the pizza with the left-over salad from the night before and it was the perfect complement.

Since my 2.5 year old would be eating this meal and we have shellfish allergies in the family, I left shrimp off a large corner of the pizza.  So if you aren’t a shrimp fan, this pizza is JUST AS GOOD with going sans shellfish. 

Recipe:

Ingredients:

  • Pizza Crust of your liking (or make your own, if you’re that good)
  •  1/4 cup Prepared Pesto (get the refrigerated kind, its way better!)
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes (more or less to your liking)
  • 1/4 thinly sliced onion
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • Fresh mozzarella (spring for the fresh…you will be so happy you did)
  • Approximately 15 peeled shrimp (substitute any other protein – chicken, sausage, etc.  Or omit completely if you just want to go veggie.)
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely minced
  • 1 tsp. dried Italian Seasoning

Directions:

Pre-heat oven and pizza stone to 400 Degrees.

While oven is preheating spread layer of pesto on pizza crust.  Layer fresh spinach leaves over entire crust.  Evenly place shrimp over top spinach.  Sprinkle sun-dried tomatoes, sliced onion and mozzarella cheese over top.  Lastly, sprinkle minced garlic and italian seasoning.

Carefully slide onto preheated pizza stone and bake for approximately 20 minutes, or until cheese is melted, bubbly and beginning to brown.

Remove from oven and set aside for 10 minutes before slicing.