Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Cod

Ever since my husband was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, I have tried not only to add antioxidants to our diet, but also choose foods that supposedly are diabetic-friendly.

The perfect baked cod is has a mild taste and is smothered with with the perfect amounts of butter and lemon juice,

 

 

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Ingredients

  • ¼C melted butter
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon minced parsley
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 4 slices lemon
  • 4 portions cod fish
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 teaspoon basil

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Prepping to Cook

Preheat oven to 400. Lightly grease a baking dish.

 

 

 

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Seasoning the Fish

Combine melted butter, Parmesan, flour, garlic, basil,  onion powder, Dijon mustard, and lemon juice in a bowl.

In another bowl combine flour, spices, salt and pepper.
Pat fish fillet dry.

 

Dip fish in the lemon juice mixture…and then in the flour mixture.

Shake off excess flour.
Lay fish in prepared dish.
Top each piece of fish with a slice of lemon,

 

 

 

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Baking the Fish

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Fried Catfish

 

So trust me, fried catfish was a frequent meal at our house…(as well as all sorts of “critters” that you can’t find in your local grocery store)

If we weren’t eating fried fish, we were instead munching down on some good Southern fried chicken and drinking sweet tea.

Although there is much debate as to how catfish should be prepared–such as using a batter, breading with cornmeal, or simply dipping it in flour….I have found that the best way to prepare perfect catfish is to fry it in a cornmeal crush.

So let’s learn the basics of making the perfect fried catfish.

 

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Ingredients

 

1-2# catfish—about.4-6 filets

1C milk or buttermilk

1C cornmeal…Use fine, white cornmeal if you can find it….if you can’t find it fin the store, use regular cornmeal with a little flourk added to it so that the crust doesn’t taste gritty.

1/2C flour

Seasoning…you can use whatever makes you smile and keeps you wanting more and more fish—such as Lawry’s to Zatarain’s, Old Bay or lemon pepper— but a good mixture would be…

  • 1tsp garlic powder
  • 1tsp pepper
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1Tbsp salt
    1tsp pepper
  • Cooking oil, preferably peanut oil

 

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Getting Ready 

Preheat oven to 200 degrees F.

Lay a wire rack sitting on a cookie sheet inside the oven.

Heat oil in a large pot or deep fryer to 350 degrees F.  Make sure that your oil is hot enough…if not you will end up with soggy, greasy catfish.

 

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Preparing the Catfish

Rinse the catfish fillets under cold water.

Dry thoroughly with paper towels.  

Soak catfish in milk or buttermilk for about an hour. This will wash away the muddy flavor.

 

 

 

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Breading the Cztfish

Combine cornmeal, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.

Dredge each filet in the breading until it is coat evenly.

Place on a large platter to dry for about five minutes.

 

 

 

 

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Cooking the Catfish

Now add the breaded catfish to the hot oil. Be careful not to crowd the fryer…otherwise the the oil temperature will drop too much. The oil is ready whenever you drop a little of the dry breading mix into the oi, and if it sizzles at once.

Make sure that there is enough peanut oil to completely cover catfish fillets while frying.

Cook 7min per side…until golden brown.

Watch the temperature of the oil as you continue frying the filets. If the temperature gets too hot, you may need to lower the heat on the burner.

Keep cooked fillets warm in oven while you finish cooking the rest of the fish. This will help keep it crispy.

Place the cooked filets on paper towels to drain.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fish…The Why

 

Fish is a great source of the important vitamins—such as…

Vitamins

  • B-complex vitamins—niacin, B12, B6…which have been associated with healthy development of the nervous system
  • Vitamin A…which is needed for healthy vision as well as for healthy skin
  • Vitamin D…which is essential in the calcium absorption needed for bone health and growth

Minerals

  • Calcium…which is needed for bone development.
  • Iodine…which helps maintain thyroid gland function
  • Iron…which is important in red blood cell production
  • Zinc…which is needed for cell growth and immune system health

Omega-3s which…

  • alleviate the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • halt mental decline in older people
  • help ease movement by the body, reduce your risk of heart disease, and strengthen the mind
  • reduce depression, the risk of heart disease, and tissue inflammation
  • regulate blood flow
  • keep our heart and brain healthy

In fact, the healthiest fish are those that contain the most omega-3—such as salmon, trout, sardines, tuna steak, mackerel, and herring.

Fish has been shown to have all sorts of awesome benefits for you as far as health goes…

So let’s find out the facts about how fish can make a difference to your health…

 

 

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Brain

Eating fish regularly can keep you smarter, longer…keeping your brain from slowing down as fast as it would had you not been eating fish regularly.

Fish does this by helping you maintain the grey matter in the brain, the tissue in our brains that contain the neurons in charge of processing information, storing memories, and regulating emotion and memory,

This will lower your chance of getting such brain malfunctions as Alzheimer’s disease.

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Depression

The omega 3 fatty acids found in fish can help improve symptoms of depression and increase the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

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Heart

 

Fish is also great for your heart and circulatory system. In fact, eating fish regularly can reduce your risk of heart attacks, strokes, and death from heart disease by 36% by…

    • decreasing your risk of abnormal heartbeats
    • helping to lower  “bad,” cholesterol levels
    • improving blood vessel function
    • lowering cholesterol-building lipids in the blood
    • lowering triglycerides
    • lowering your blood pressure
    • lowering your heart rate
    • slowing down the growth rate of atherosclerotic plaque

 

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Insomnia

Eating fatty fish—such as salmon and herring—can improve both sleep and daily functioning because of its vitamin D content. One serving of cooked salmon contains the recommended amount of intake of vitamin D per week.

 

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Vision

Finally, eating fish regularly can help you maintain your vision by strengthening the retina…which in turn prevents age-related macular degeneration, one of the leading causes of vision impairment and blindness among people age 50 and older, by as much as 53%.

 

….The American Heart Association also recommends increasing the intake of Omega-3 through diet with food rather than supplements

….The American Heart Association also recommends increasing the intake of Omega-3 through diet with food rather than supplements

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Fish…The What

  1. Fish is another food high in antioxidants and other nutritional value, but it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed at the fish counter.

    You want to buy the tastiest, healthiest, and most sustainable choice…but truth is, they all look the same to the normal grocery shopper, right?!

    First we’re going to take a look at the types of fish typically found in a large grocery store.

    Then we’re going to look at the nutritional value of fish.

    And finally some recipes to make with each option…

    So let’s get started…

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    Catfish
    Being from Mississippi, I grew up eating catfish at least twice a month…since most of the catfish sold in the United States are farmed in the Mississippi Delta.
    But this was typically “wild” catfish, which often has a more muddy and stronger flavor than farmed catfish.
    Best for…sautéing or frying

     

     

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    Cod

    Cod has a mild flavor, making it great for a variety of cooking methods—such as sautéing, poaching, steaming, and baking.

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    Haddock
    Haddock…firm, mild flesh that is especially popular in Scotland….and is best for frying and deep frying—(fish n chips, go figure)…

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Halibut

Halibut is typically cut into filets that are firm, meaty, and mild with a low fat content….best for baking.

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Salmon

There are two different types of salmon—Atlantic and Pacific. You will usually find Atlantic salmon at your local grocery store because it is farmed and is available year-round. Atlantic salmon has a meaty texture and mild flavor that is best for grilling, roasting, or broiling.

Pacific salmon—such as sockeye or king salmon—are caught in the wild….making fresh Pacific salmon only available between late spring and early fall (although frozen can be found year-round). Pacific salmon has a stronger flavor than Atlantic salmon and is best for grilling, broiling, or roasting.

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Snapper

Typically you will only find red snapper when you are shopping for snapper…even though there are many different types of snapper that have not been recognized by the FDA.

Snapper can be served either whole or as filets. Be careful when ordering snapper at a restaurant, it will probably be served tail and perhaps head in tow.

Snapper is best for roasting or grilling.

 

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Swordfish

Fresh swordfish is available fresh and typically sold in steaks. It has a slightly sweet flavor and meaty texture that is best for grilling.

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Tilapia

Tilapia has an oily texture and muddy flavor that is bland enough that even those who hate the taste of fish can endure.

Tilapia is best for baking, braising, or poaching.

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Tuna

Most of us have been eating canned tuna since we were born…so I really don’t feel a need to elaborate here.

But it was only recently that I cooked a tuna steak…and man, oh man…ditch the can…

Tuna steaks are typically cooked by either grilling or pan frying.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Eggplant Parmesan

top view photo of vegetables
Photo by John Lambeth on Pexels.com

The perfect Eggplant Parmesan boasts of perfectly cooked eggplant slices perfectly layered with the perfect amounts of mozzarella, Parmesan, basil, and tomato sauce….the ultimate comfort food of Italian cuisine…wonderfully cheesy and tomato-y without weighing you down with too much water or oil.

 

 

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Ingredients

2 large eggplants

1tsp salt

1/4C olive oil

1tsp minced garlic

28oz diced tomatoes

1-1/4C grated Parmesan cheese

1½C flour

4 eggs

1-1/2# mozzarella

1 large red onion, chopped

½tsp crushed red pepper flakes

¼C finely chopped basil leaves

3C panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp pepper

1Tbsp Italian seasoning

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Prep Work

Preheat oven to 425°F.  Prepare two baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.

 

 

 

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Getting Started

Heat 1Tbsp olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat.

Add the minced garlic, basil, tomatoes, salt, and pepper.

Simmer for 15 minutes,.

Remove from heat.

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Prepping the Eggplant

 

 

 

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Cooking the Eggplant

Mist the tops of the eggplant with some olive oil or cooking spray.

Place eggplant slices in the oven. Cook 20 minutes at 425°F, turning the slices over at the half-way point…until nicely browned.

Remove from oven.

Let cool to touch.

 

Once baked or fried, lay the cooked,  lay the slices on wire cooling racks. This will keep your eggplant from getting as soggy.

 

 

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Breading the Eggplant

Set up three  bowls===one for the flour, another one for the egg, and a third one for the breadcrumb mixture.

Pour flour into the first bowl.

Whisk the eggs until smooth. Place in the second bowl.

Stir together the breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, 1tsp salt, and Parmesan cheese in the third bowl.

Let the bowls sit out while you are waiting for your eggplant to absorb the salt.

Working one at a time dredge the eggplant slices first in the flour, then dip in the beaten eggs, and then dredge in the breadcrumb parmesan cheese mixture.

Set on a parchment-covered baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining eggplant slices.

More information about the breading process can be found in my previous post…Dreading the Breading.

 

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Layering the Dish

Spread 1/2 cup of the tomato sauce over the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

Place a third of the eggplant rounds in a single layer over the sauce on the bottom of the pan.

Repeat this process three times…kinda like making lasagna.

Sprinkle the top of the dish with the cheese.

 

 

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Baking the Dish

Cover with foil.

Bake on a rimmed baking sheet for about twenty minutes…until the cheese is bubbly and brown on top.

Remove from oven.

Let sit for 10 minutes before serving.

Serve hot, topped with more chopped fresh basil.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Ratatouille

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Making the Perfect Baked Eggplant

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Eggplant…The How

Eggplant has slightly bitter flavor and spongy texture that many people say that they don’t care for, but how many of these people have had eggplant dishes that have been prepared so that the eggplant becomes tender when cooked and develops a rich, complex flavor…so that the eggplant absorbs cooking fats and sauces to enhance its flavor.

Eggplant can be cooked many different ways, including…

  • baking
  • barbecuing
  • currying
  • deep frying
  • grilling
  • pan frying
  • pickling
  • roasting
  • steaming
  • stewing
  • stir-frying

We have already discussed several of these cooking methods in previous posts…such as this posts about Facts to Never Forget about Frying Foods and Pan-Frying 10

In the next few posts we will be looking at the other cooking methods mentioned above as well as some recipes using eggplant….recipes including\ Eggplant Parmesan and Ratatouille.

But before you can make any of these dishes, you must obviously have an eggplant, right?!

When choosing an eggplant, look for one that is firm and somewhat heavy for its size…with smooth, glossy skin and an intense purple color….stay away from any eggplants that are withered, bruised, or discolored.

Once you get your eggplant home, stick it in the refrigerator until ready to use it.

And before you start cooking with eggplant, there are two important facts to remember.

First of all, you need to remove any bitter taste from the eggplant that you can. You can do this by first washing the eggplant, trimming off the green end, and perhaps peeling the skin. This will keep your eggplant from being as bitter and also will keep the eggplant from absorbing too much oil as it is being cooked.

Then slice the eggplant into 1/2″ disks and set them in a colander or on a cooling rack set over baking sheet, sprinkle with salt, and let sit for at least 30 minutes. This process is known as “sweating.” Before you start cooking, remove any moisture from the surface of the eggplant,

Another way to keep the eggplant from being so bitter and to help the eggplant maintain its shape as it is being cooked is to soak the eggplant in salt water. This process is called “brining,”

Also always use only a stainless steel knife to cut your eggplant. This will keep the eggplant from turning black.

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Eggplant…The Why

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Brain Power

The skin of the eggplant can make you smsrter and keep you that way by…

  • acting as an antioxidant
  • facilitating blood flow to the brain
  • helping to carry nutrients into your brain cells
  • helping to prevent memory loss and other age-related mental decline
  • moving waste out of your brain cells
  • protecting brain cell membranes from damage
  • serving as an anti-inflammatory

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Cancer

Eggplant contains polyphenols, anthocyanins, and chlorogenic acid….all of which help prevent and fight existing cancer by…

  • acting as a anti-inflammatory
  • blocking the enzymes that help cancer cells spread.
  • preventing new blood vessels from forming in an existing tumor
  • serving as an antioxidant

 

 

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Cholesterol

The fiber found in eggplant…(2.4 grams per 1C) may help control cholesterol levels.

Eggplant also contains chlorogenic acid, a key antioxidant that lowers the levels of “bad” cholesterol and reduces your risk of liver disease.

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Eye Health

Eggplant contains two specific antioxidants—lutein and zeaxanthin—which are hrlp prevent age-related macular degeneration and vision loss.

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Heart

As far as the heart, eggplants can lower your risk of high blood pressure and heart disease because of the fiber, antioxidants, potassium, vitamin C, vitamin B-6, and many other nutrient that it contains

Eggplants…

  • act as an anti-inflammatory
  • help prevent heart-threatening plaque from buildup up around the walls of your arteries.
  • relax artery walls

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Weight Control

Eggplants can contribute to weight management because of their fiber content and low calorie count. The fiber found in eggplant supposedly helps you feel fuller for longer.

 

Sweet, Sweet Sunday

Eggplant…The What

Eggplant has had an interesting part in folklore around the world for many centuries,. For example, eggplant in India, the eggplant was believed to cause people to go insane….yet according to the Kama Sutra eggplant is erotically stimulating when rubbed onto the penis…male organ. or whatever yuou wanna call it, so much so that is causes a month-long erection.

The poor eggplant was also accused of causing health problems—such as liver problems, inflammations of the mouth, leprosy, fever, headaches, and even cancer. 

As far as to whether eggplant is a vegetable or fruit…kinda like with the tomato….it’s actually neither.

Technically eggplant is a berry…but at the same time as being a berry, it is also related to the tomato and potato…which makes it even more confusing.

Eggplant has a spongy, absorbent that makes it the perfect base for all sorts of dishes from all sorts of different cuisines around the world….(more on this later)…

As far as how eggplants are grown, they are tropical plants with a typically spiny stem, large leaves that can grow to eight inches,  and white or purple flower that grow up to four feet tall.

And when you think about eggplants, you probably picture this glossy purple long and egg-shaped thing…

But actually eggplants, like we learned with just like we learned with pumpkins, can be a variety of sizes and shapes and colors, including…

  • black…as the Burpee Hybrid
  • dark purple…the typical eggplant…which is a long football shaped vegetable that is about…that can range anywhere from 4 12″–10″ long and 2 123 1wide
  • green with white stripes,,,Louisiana Lon Green
  • multicolored…such as white at the stem and then bright pink, deep purple or even black on the actual vegetable
  • orange and the size of Ping-Pong balls
  • purple…ranging from faint purple-pink to reddish-purple and dark purple
  • white…smaller and egg-sized…also known as Easter white eggplants, garden eggs, Casper or white eggplant
  • yellow and round

So let’s start looking at why how to add eggplant to New Year health resolutions..