Baked Cod with Sweet Peppers

It’s pretty easy to understand how people can get hooked on breaded fish. Its crispy texture and delicious taste is hard to resist.

410x290-baked_codI remember my first encounter with breaded fish. It was at the American Legion in my hometown of Crookston, Minn. My dad treated the family to a walleye fish fry dinner at the club, which was located upstairs in a building near the Crookston Bakery, where my Auntie Florence Cramb worked.

The fish was out of this world, and I always compared other seafood meals to that thereafter.

As I’ve grown older, fish that has been breaded has become much less appealing to me. Now, I like my fish seasoned with herbs and a little olive oil sans the breading, which is much healthier.

Just recently, a friend, Connie Nelson of Grand Forks, told me about a recipe for cod that she really likes. Connie said she likes to bake the fish on a cookie sheet atop a bed of sweet bell peppers seasoned with olive oil, fat-free Italian dressing, some herbs and a little salt and pepper.

I tried her recipe the other night and was quite pleased. The only alteration I made was to add some juice from a freshly squeezed lemon. I imagine other vegetables could be added to the bed of peppers, including onion, mushrooms and the like.

Connie said she also like to use the same method to cook chicken breasts and other kinds of fish such as tilapia.

Baked Cod with Sweet Peppers
1 1-pound cod fillet
1 red bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 green bell pepper, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Juice from 1 lemon
3 tablespoons fat-free Italian dressing
2 teaspoons Lawry’s Mediterranean Herb Seasoning Salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Vegetable spray
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Line a cookied sheet with foil and coat with vegetable spray. Place the peppers topped with the fish, cut in 4 pieces, on the foil. Drizzle with olive oil, Italian dressing and lemon juice. Season with herbed salt and pepper. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes and serve.
Yield: Serves 4 to 6.

Chicken Baked with Cabbage and Leek

St. Patrick’s Day has come and gone, and you can bet there was a lot of Irish stew or corned beef and cabbage served in dining rooms across the country and over the ocean in Irelchicken-and-cabbageand.

We didn’t celebrate the feast this year at our house, instead opting for some oven-baked chicken, buttercup squash and a nice salad.

However, if you did and happen to have some extra cabbage lurking in the vegetable crisper of your refrigerator, here’s a recipe that  might interest you.

The cabbage is combined with chicken, broth, Brussels sprouts, leek and onion and baked in the oven, seasoned with thyme, paprika, salt and pepper.

Chicken Baked with Cabbage and Leek
1 head Savoy or Napa cabbage
8 large Brussels sprouts
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 3-pound chicken, cut into
8 pieces, or 4 6-ounce chicken breast halves with rib and skin
1 large leek, white part and 1-inch green part halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
1 medium onion, halved and sliced crosswise
1 tablespoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Spanish paprika
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1.5 cups fat-free, reduced sodium chicken broth
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Halve cabbage verticlly and set one-half aside for  another use. Cut remaining cabbage into 2 wedges and cut away core. Cut wedges in 3/4-inch strips. There will be about 4 cups. Cut each sprout vertically into 4 slices.
In medium skillet that can go into the oven, heat oil over medium-high heat. Reserving wings for another use, arrange chicken, skin side down, in hot pan and cook until skin is browned, turning pieces as needed, about 8 minutes. Transfer chicken to plate. Pour off all but 1 tablespoon of drippings from pan.
Add cabbage, sprouts, leek and onion to pan, stirring to coat with remaining drippings. Cook, stirring occasionally until cabbage and onion are limp and onion translucent, about 5 minutes. Add thyme, paprika, salt and pepper to taste and mix to combine. Return chicken to pan, placing pieces skin side up on top of vegetables. Pour in broth. Place pan in oven, uncovered.
Bake for 35  minutes, or until an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of chicken registers 160 degrees, about 15 minutes for breast, 20 minutes for thigh.
To serve, remove skin from chicken and divide pieces among 4 dinner plates. Spoon one-fourth of vegetables on top or or next chicken. Spoon pan juices over chicken and vegetables.
Yield: Serves 4.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 348 calories, 12 grams fat (3 grams saturated), 23 grams carbohydrates, 39 grams protein, 8 grams dietary fiber, 360 milligrams sodium.

Sloppy Joes and Oven-Roasted Potatoes

If there is one thing most kids like for lunch, it’s Sloppy Joes. And add some type of potatoes such as fries, and you have a recipe for success.

4257540881_18e37ff5bb_nI might be a few — maybe more — years removed from my childhood, but a good meal consisting of Sloppy Joes and potatoes still piques my interest, as well as that of a lot of my grown-up friends.

My penchant for that tasty combo goes back to my grade-school days at the old Cathedral in Crookston, where my Auntie Helen Tiedeman was the head cook.

One of my favorite meals was the one that featured homemade barbecues — that’s what we called the Sloppy Joes — and oven-roasted potatoes that were seasoned with parsley.

The potatoes were fixed in a big roasting pan and were always nice and crispy. I think butter had something to do with that.

These days, we’ve been more likely to have sweet potato fries or regular fries baked in the oven when we have burgers or barbecues, but recently, I tried my hand at some oven-roasted potatoes seasoned with herbs, dill, garlic salt and a few red pepper flakes that was a hit.

So, if you have a kid or kids who are fussy eaters (or the grown-up kind), a meal featuring the following recipes will come to the rescue.

Auntie Helen’s Barbecues
6 pounds of ground beef
1 package flaked onions
25 ounce-can cream of mushroom soup
1/2 gallon of ketchup
1/2 stalk of celery, diced, precooked
2 tablespoons mustard
1/4 cup of vinegar
Barbecue spice, to taste
1/2 cup of brown sugar
Brown ground beef and drain fat. Mix all of ingredients in large pot and cook for about 2 hours.
Yield: Serves 50.
Note: Recipe easily can be doubled or cut in half.

Oven-Roasted Potatoes
4 large red potatoes, cut up into quarters or eighths or sliced
2 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon roasted garlic salt
1 teaspoon dill weed
2 tablespoons parsley (optional)
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Combine the butter and olive oil in large bowl. Add the potatoes and season with the salt, pepper and herbs. Mix well.
Place potatoes on one or two greased (with vegetable spray) cookie sheets and put in the preheated oven. Bake for 30 minutes or until potatoes are brown and crispy, occasionally turning the potatoes so they don’t stick to the bottom. Serve with barbecues or Sloppy Joes.
Note: You can substitute garlic powder for the salt if you are on a reduced-sodium die.

Salmon Loaf with Creamed Peas and Potatoes

Salmon loaf is a tasty entree, one that’s not only appropriate during Lent but also delicious and healthy any time of the year.

dinnerSalmon, you see, is high in omega-3 fatty acids, which have been shown to help protect against heart disease, among other things.

And add a topping of creamed peas and potatoes to the salmon, and you have a meal that your family will be requesting on a regular basis.

The following recipes, ones that I improvised after coming across them in a couple of my many cookbooks, nicely complement each other and are easy to make.

Salmon Loaf
1 1-pound can salmon
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 cup saltine cracker crumbs
2 eggs
1 cup milk
Drain liquid from salmon. Remove bones. Mix salmon and cracker crumbs with a fork until fine; add lemon juice. In a measuring cup, mix eggs with a fork, then fill the cup with milk. Mix well and add to salmon. Mix and put in a greased 2 1/2-by-5-by-8 1/2-inch pan and bake for 50 minutes. Serve with cream peas and potatoes (recipe follows).
Creamed Peas and Potatoes
4 medium red potatoes
1 to 2 cups frozen peas
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
Freshly ground pepper
Cut the potatoes in quarters and steam or boil them, reserving water.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until paste cooks and bubbles a bit for about 2 minutes (but don’t let it brown). Add the milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower heat and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour sauce over potatoes and then add peas. Heat until wam. If you want a thinner sauce, add some of the reserved potato water.