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Monday, October 31, 2011

Simple Supper: Blackened Fish Sandwiches

I can’t deny the fact that living in the Tampa Bay area for so long hasn’t left some sort of impression on me. I love a good sunset, I know how to combat humidity riddled hair days, I wear sandals 360 days a year, and I love a good fish sandwich.

Before moving here, I’d never had a fish sandwich. Sure, I’d had fried whole belly clam rolls, or hot lobster rolls – very tradition New England fare – but not a simple fish sandwich. Florida converted me to them. I suppose it was only a matter of time.

If you ever travel to the Tampa area, I highly suggest you seek out a Grouper Sandwich. Pretty much every local restaurant serves them, so you won’t have to search hard. You can get them fried, grilled, or blackened. I prefer them fried with a slice of cheese and Brent likes them blackened. I honestly don’t know one person who has ever ordered one grilled, but you can if you want.

You may be wondering why the post it titled TILAPIA and I’m talking about grouper. The point is that grouper can be pretty pricey, so when I get a craving for something similar, I opt for the more wallet friendly and readily available Tilapia. While you can’t mistake tilapia for grouper, enough of the notes are there to hit the spot when I don’t feel like dining out. An added bonus is that tilapia cooks fairly fast and dinner can be done in about 20 minutes.

This particular night, I went for a blackened tilapia and made an avocado and dill spread to balance out the heat.

Blackened Tilapia Sandwiches with Avocado-Dill Spread
*Makes 2

- 2 tilapia fillets, roughly 4-6oz
- 2 sandwich buns, any kind you prefer
- ½ a Hass avocado
- 2 tablespoons sour cream
- 1 teaspoon dried dill
- Squeeze of lime juice
- 1 teaspoon paprika*
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt*
- ½ teaspoon black pepper*
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper*
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder*
- ½ teaspoon onion powder*
- 1/8 teaspoon celery salt*
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (use more for more heat)*
- 1 tablespoon butter or oil
- Lettuce, tomato, and onion if desired
* Or just use any blackened seasoning you like.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Florentine Crusted Pork Chops

It’s starting to get dark earlier now.

This means taking pictures indoors because it is impossible for me to have dinner ready before 7pm. Other than that, I actually do like changes the clocks back. I need the light in the morning to get moving. That, and a good, strong cup of coffee.

Brent, on the other hand, hates it and will bitch and moan about it until we spring forward. It’s another one of those little things that we are polar opposites about. But he is also able to sleep until 8:30 AM during the week while I’m trying to get up by 6:30AM.

How is that even fair?

So let’s talk about food for a minute! This is a FOOD blog after all. Currently my house is on a pantry cooking challenge. It gets interesting when we go through these challenges, which is about every 3 months or so. Some meals are complete and utter failures, and other times, a pretty great new dish comes together.

This dish, thankfully, is the latter. I had some boneless pork chops I wanted to use and after brainstorming, this idea is what came along. The chops were crispy, but still moist inside, and the spinach and cheese on top kept it from being a plain ol’ boring fried chop. And I was surprised but pork chops actually went well with a side of pasta. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it before.

There is one thing I would do differently next time and that would be waiting to use fresh spinach that had been steamed or sautéed up. But there was no need to go to the store just for that when I had frozen that would work just fine. Use whichever you have on hand!

Florentine Crusted Pork Chops

*Serves 4
Printable Recipe

- 4 boneless pork chops, pounded 1/3” thick
- 1 egg
- Splash of water
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 1 – 1 ½ cups panko bread crumbs
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 cup frozen spinach, thawed
- ¾ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper


1. Whisk egg in a small bowl and add a splash of water. Lay bread crumbs and flour out on separate plates. Season flour with salt and pepper. Add canola oil to a large sauté pan and heat to medium high heat.
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