Weeknight meals

Fish Tacos

Growing up, tacos were a school lunch food, and something we sometimes ate at friends’ houses, but not a regular feature at our table. We just didn’t eat much Mexican or Tex-Mex in our family, in restaurants or at home.

These days, I’m making up for lost time. I love Mexican and Mexican-inspired food (authentic or not). I would probably eat tacos once a week if I could. Ground beef, steak, fish, chicken, pork, vegetarian… do many options, I never get bored.

I like tilapia for fish tacos because they’re inexpensive, always available and have good flavor and texture. I often use the individually packaged 4 oz. frozen fillets (2 fillets for a single serving works well). Most fish is best served immediately, not as leftovers. I only cook what I need, but I often make it two days in a row since I already have the ingredients.

Fish tacos are typically made with corn tortillas rather than flour. They aren’t as sturdy, and they break easily, especially if there’s a lot of liquid. Some people use a double layer of tortillas. I just eat quickly, and finish off anything that falls out with a fork. :) To make it paleo, replace tortillas with butter or romaine lettuce leaves.

I love fish tacos with my canned summer corn salsa. So good! Make your tacos hotter with a spicy salsa, jalapenos, or a dash of siracha, or include a shake (or three) of red pepper when seasoning the fillets.

~Red

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Fish Tacos

For every 2 people:
12-16 oz. firm white fish fillets, such as tilapia or mahi mahi
Cumin, salt and pepper to taste
2 limes, divided
Olive oil
Cilantro
4-6 corn tortillas
Shredded cabbage, diced avocado, salsa, sour cream/creme fraiche, or your favorite toppings

Pat fish fillets dry with paper towels. Place fish in a shallow glass dish and season both sides with cumin, salt and pepper. Finally chop a couple tablespoons of cilantro leaves. Pat into fish. Squeeze the juice of one lime over the fish. Drizzle with olive oil. Flip the fillets a couple times to coat. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes.

If desired, whisk together a lime sour cream sauce with about 2-3 tablespoons sour cream or creme fraiche and 1 tablespoon lime juice.

Brush a grill pan with olive oil. Heat over medium heat. Grill tortillas until lightly brown. Wrap in paper towels and store in the microwave to keep warm.

Increase heat to medium-high. Shake excess marinade from fish. Grill fish until the center is opaque and the fish flakes with a fork.

Assemble tacos: load tortillas with pieces of fish, cabbage, lime sour cream sauce, avocado, salsa, extra cilantro, or other favorite toppings.

Serve immediately with lime wedges. And possibly a margarita on the rocks.

Dirty Quinoa

Looking for a quick, weeknight one-dish meal? I first saw a version of this recipe in a Gold’s Gym recipe contest a couple years ago and have adapted it to my own taste preferences. With lean ground beef and quinoa, this dish is high-protein and gluten-free, and makes for great leftovers.

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Dirty Quinoa

Serves 4-6

1 lb. lean ground beef (I use 93% lean)
3 bell peppers, cored and chopped
1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup quinoa
2 3/4 cups low-sodium beef broth

Combine meat and vegetables in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until beef is done and vegetables are tender.  Add additional ingredients. Heat to boiling; reduce heat, cover and simmer until quinoa has sprouted, about 10-15 minutes.

Sriracha-Glazed Drumsticks

On the weeks I’m super-organized and inspired, I go to the store on Sundays with a week’s worth of menus already planned and a full shopping list. Other weeks, I might have an idea or two, but I look to the market or store for inspiration. What’s in season? What looks delicious? What’s on sale? (With any luck, at least two of those three questions intersect.)

One of the things I picked up on this weekend’s shopping trip was chicken drumsticks, which are both economical and tasty. I cobbled together a marinade and roasted the chicken with some sweet potato wedges, and served it with a salad.

Sorry, no picture. I forgot all about it until well past dinner.

Sriracha-Glazed Drumsticks

Serves 3-4

1 1/2-2 pounds chicken drumsticks (6-8 drumsticks)
1/2 cup soy sauce
4 tablespoons white vinegar
3 tablespoons (or more) Sriracha sauce
3 tablespoons honey (or your sweetener of choice)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger, or 1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

Pat chicken dry and season generously with salt. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Add chicken and toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Shake excess marinade off chicken and arrange in a glass baking dish. Bake for 30 minutes, rotating halfway through. Meanwhile, place remaining marinade in a small saucepan. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to medium-low and let the mixture thicken slightly. Add heated marinade to the pan of chicken, tossing to coat. Cook an additional 10 minutes until chicken is done and sauce has thickened.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, combine all remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and let the mixture thicken slightly.