Sunday, November 4, 2012

First Friday Foodies, Part 1

Facebook is a funny place.

It can be the catalyst for so many things, good and bad.  Through several strange twists and turns, coincidences and plain out-and-out bizarre happenings, we ended up forming a group of like-minded people who thought going out to dinner once a month might be a good idea.  Our first outing was on a Friday, so we called that the first Friday Foodie gathering.

At that point we didn't know if it would ever happen again.  I'm pretty sure everyone else just decided to go to Marrow only to shut me up, but that's where we went and a monthly event was born.

Over the past seven months we have become great friends.  As it turned out, several of us had long-ago connections we didn't even realize until we had the chance to sit down and discuss things over (several) dinners.  We now have a core group four couples, plus at least eight more people who come when they can.   Every month a restaurant is decided upon, a member volunteers as host, and plans are made.  Sometimes plans are made and changed several times, but we always end up meeting at the same place and having a great time.

Rather than try to give an in-depth assessment of every place we've been since the beginning, I will just give a basic overview... and if anyone else in FFF wants to contribute, be it text or photos, I can always add that later.

First ever gathering was at Marrow Kitchen Bar.  I've reviewed it before.  All you need to know at this point is if you're anywhere near Tacoma, you need to eat there.

Gathering #2 was at The Matador Restaurant and Tequila Bar in Tacoma. It was packed and they didn't take reservations, but we braved the crowds anyway and finally got a table.

The house margaritas are excellent and well worth the wait (and the price).

Brian and I got the seared ahi with granny smith apple slaw app...

Carne asada...

and Chili Verde... I think... it was a while ago so I don't remember for sure...

Month Three was Dirty Oscar's Annex (AKA DOA).  Due to certain circumstances, we were disappointed by everything except the food... and that's the last thing you want to be disappointed by, so it was their saving grace.

Panko-crusted deep-fried zucchini stuffed with chevre, topped with crispy-fried basil.  I dream of eating this on a regular basis...

beer-battered asparagus...

Dirty Oscar burger...

Brian had a pork panini that is no longer on the menu...

Month four was my first hosting month and as it turned out, everyone chose one of my favorite restaurants, Social Bar and Grill.

Believe it or not, this is the view as you walk outside the dining room...


It is next door to the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, and that is not the only spectacular view.  Just... go there.  We had apps and other things but our entrees were pasta carbonara (Brian)...


and the one dish I would consider leaving my husband for... their seafood stew.  I swear I'm literally drooling just thinking about it...



calamari with two dipping sauces...

to be continued...

I'm not dead...

I got a life... lol!  Actually, in the ten months since I last blogged, I have obtained gainful employment, become part of a foodie group (further on this later), and gotten married!

So yeah... I've been just a little busy... but not to fear!  I have been taking photos all these long months away, and I'm going to try to get them sorted into at least a few posts!  The bad news is, because I've been working, I haven't had the energy to do any creative cooking.  The good news is, because I now have money, I've been able to go to a lot more restaurants! I'll be talking more about food I've had than food I've cooked.  At least I still have something to talk about!

Moving right along now...

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Curried Broccoli Slaw

I came up with this quick and easy salad/side dish to go with the curry-rubbed tilapia.  It was a hit!

1 bag broccoli slaw mix
1 large apple (Honeycrisp, Fuji, Granny Smith), julienne
2/3 C. cashews
1/2 C. raisins
1/3 C. green onions, sliced

Combine all ingredients in large bowl.  Toss with dressing and serve.


1/2 C. white wine vinegar
2/3 C. salad oil
1 T. chutney, finely chopped
2 T. honey
1 t. curry powder
1/2 t. kosher salt
1 t. dry mustard
1/4 t. hot pepper sauce

Mix dressing ingredients in small jar or bowl.  Shake or whisk well.  Let stand at room temperature for two hours to blend flavors.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Curry-rubbed Tilapia


As you may have noticed, tilapia has become my new favorite fish.  I buy it IQF from my local restaurant supply store, so it's cheap, quick and easy.  The only problem I've had is seasoning it properly  I call it the tofu of fish, not because of the texture but because it takes on the flavors of anything you cook it with.  It has virtually no flavor of it's own, so you REALLY have to season it.  That isn't an issue with this recipe... it turned out MARVELOUS!!  This is probably my new favorite way of cooking it!  If you've never tried tilapia before, you really must.

Curry-rubbed Tilapia

4 4-6 oz. tilapia fillets
2 T. curry powder
1/2 t. cayenne
1 t. kosher salt
cooking spray
mango chutney (commercial or homemade)

Combine seasonings in a small bowl.  Rub curry mixture generously on both sides of fillets.  Let stand about 15 minutes.  Spray large non-stick frying pan and heat over medium-high until almost smoking.  Add fillets and cover.  Cook for 3-4 minutes.  Turn, cover and cook until fish flakes easily, about another 3-4 minutes.  Top with one tablespoon of chutney.

160 calories per serving (one fillet)

Indian Spiced Spinach

1 16 oz. package frozen chopped spinach, unthawed
1 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 large jalapenos, seeded, ribbed and finely chopped
2 T. ginger root, finely minced
2 t. ground coriander
1 t. cumin
1 t. turmeric
1/2 t. cayenne
1 t. kosher salt
3/4 C. plain non-fat yogurt, strained (I use Greek style... it's already strained)

In a large saute pan, cook onion, garlic, jalapenos and ginger in oil over medium heat until onions are translucent.  Add seasonings and cook until fragrant, about another 2 minutes.  Stir in spinach and cover.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until spinach is tender, about 10 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in yogurt.

Make about 3 6 oz. servings.  95 calories per serving.

Served with a one cup portion of basmati rice, this meal totals 494 calories.  I made it with white basmati because that's what I had, but the next time I replenish I'm going to get brown basmati.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

My better than "copycat" recipe for Applebee's Dijon Chicken and Portobellos

We were stuck in Bellevue one evening around dinnertime and needed food.  Applebee's seemed to be the best compromise, so that's where we ended up.  Fortunately they have a "550 Calories or Less" menu, which I knew had to be deciphered!!  Some of the entire meals were less than 550 calories... some of them were just the meats... and people wonder why food confuses them!!!

Wonder no more, my loves... this entire meal is less than 600 calories per serving if you make it exactly the way I do!

Vicki's Version of Applebee's Dijon Chicken and Portobello

4 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 5 oz. each)
4 green onions, thinly sliced
1/4 C. Dijon mustard
1 T. fresh lemon juice
1 large clove garlic, minced
salt and pepper to taste
2 T. olive oil

Combine all ingredients except chicken in a gallon size ziplock bag.  Shake well to mix.  Add chicken breasts, making sure they are thoroughly coated.  Squeeze out as much air as possible and refrigerate  for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

1 red bell pepper
1 8 oz. package whole crimini mushrooms, cleaned
1/2 red onion

Preheat grill.  Grill vegetables (using a grill grid if desired) until they are about halfway cooked through.


Remove and cool.  Dice and place together in a bowl.


Remove chicken from marinade and grill until cooked through, about 8 minutes per side.  Keep warm.

To assemble, place each chicken breast on an oven-proof serving plate.  Top with about 1/2 C. of mushroom/pepper/onion mixture.  Sprinkle with about 2 T. freshly grated asiago cheese.  Broil just until cheese is melted and slightly browned.


Serve with 1 C. of microwave steamed potatoes (plain) and 2 C. steamed mixed veggies (couple spritzes of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray).

Microwave Steamed Potatoes

I was at a loss as to how Applebees cooked their "steamed" potatoes.  They were obviously seasoned with salt and the texture wasn't exactly like any steamed potato I'd had before.  I finally figured it out... they're microwaved!  These ones taste and feel exactly like the ones in the restaurant.  In this picture I used a mix of purple and Yukon gold potatoes.

1 lb. waxy potatoes of your choice (red, gold, white, purple)
1/2 C. water
1 t. kosher salt

Cut potatoes into 1/2" dice.  Place potatoes, water and salt in microwave-safe bowl.  Cover and cook on high for 4 minutes.  Stir, re-cover, and cook for another 4-6 minutes until tender.  Let stand 5 minutes, drain and serve.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Parmesan Broiled Tilapia

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 T butter, softened
1/4 C mayonnaise
2 T fresh lemon juice
1/2 t dried basil
1/4 t ground black pepper
1/2 t onion powder
1/2 t paprika
1/4 C panko
Old Bay Seasoning
1 1/2 lbs. tilapia fillets

Preheat your oven's broiler. Grease a broiling pan or line pan with aluminum foil.
In a small bowl, mix together the Parmesan cheese, butter, mayonnaise and lemon juice. Season with dried basil, pepper and onion powder.  Add panko, mix well and set aside.
Sprinkle both sides of fish with Old Bay. Arrange fillets in a single layer on the prepared pan. Broil a few inches from the heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Flip the fillets over and broil for a couple more minutes. Remove the fillets from the oven and cover them with the Parmesan cheese mixture on the top side. Broil for 2 more minutes or until the topping is browned and fish flakes easily with a fork. Be careful not to over cook the fish.

Amount Per Serving (one fillet) Calories: 225 | Total Fat: 12.8g | Cholesterol: 63mg


Shown served with cooked spinach seasoned with salt, pepper and red wine vinegar, and brown rice pilaf.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Panko coated tilapia filets

For three servings-

3 5 oz. tilapia fillets, thawed
salt, pepper, and garlic powder
1/2 C low fat buttermilk
3/4 C. panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
1/3 C. freshly grated Romano cheese
2 t. dried basil
butter flavored cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Pour buttermilk into shallow bowl.  Mix panko, cheese, and basil in a pie plate (or something similar).  Season fillets with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Coat with buttermilk, letting excess drain off.  Coat with panko mixture and place on baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Spray tops of fillets lightly with cooking spray.  Bake for approximately 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily.

Serve each fillet with 1 C. of steamed brown rice or whole wheat pasta and 2 C. steamed or raw vegetables.

No sauce!!!  A spritz or two of "I Can't Believe It's Not Butter" spray and pepper are okay though!