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Ford household is on a mission

January 21, 2013

By SUSAN FORD

I came home from the grocery last week and told Bill I got ingredients for a healthy stir fry. He said “I hate January.” So the time has come to pay for our sins of the holidays, the grownups in the Ford’s house are on a mission. I estimate that it will take me until April or May to see results and it will take my husband about two weeks flat. It makes me want to punch him in the face that he drops weight so quickly from just cutting out coke and french fries. The truth is, he can’t help being a man with the discipline of a Navy Seal when he puts his mind to something. I know myself and I can’t just white knuckle it or I will end up in the kitchen at three in the morning looking for some cookie dough to gorge myself with. I have to allow a few cheats and get in extra cardio, it is the only way I can sustain a diet. I want both of us to lead a long healthy life and so we need to tighten the reins around here. I am going do my best to cook healthier for the foreseeable future, but I don’t believe that means we have to have tasteless boring dinners.

I promised last month to include some recipes for something green, but  I use my steamer almost every night so there isn’t much to say. I steam green beans for 5-6 minutes depending on thickness, broccoli and asparagus for 3-4 minutes or until tender crisp. I dot with margarine or spray a few pumps with I can’t believe its not butter and toss with the juice of a lemon. I did test a recipe for a winter salad I want to share with you. This salad comes out of the newest Barefoot Contessa’s "FoolProof" that Santa brought me.  

I highly recommend all of Ina Garten’s cookbooks, she is my all time favorite and I can’t count how many of her recipes I use on a regular basis. This salad calls for endive and it is the first time I have bought it. They have it at Kroger or some of those pre washed salad mixes have endive in them. This recipe reminded me to talk to you guys about the joys of a microplane since it calls for orange zest. If you don’t have one, don’t wait for Mother’s or Father’s day to run over to Tyme and get yourself a microplane. Years ago at Christmas, I was weary from making lemon bars and I added to my wishlist that I wanted a rock star zester. Bill Ford can research anything and he got me my first microplane and  hit the nail on the head. I gave them as teacher gifts, hostess gifts and birthday happies that whole year.  I have several now and not only does it make zesting lemons, limes and oranges a snap, but also you can shave chocolate, parmesan, and garlic. For the vinaigrette , her recipe calls for 1/4 cup of orange juice, but I like some extra acid so I used 1/2 cup; taste it and make up your own mind. On the side bar she notes to, “toast the walnuts in a dry saute pan over low heat for 5-10 minutes until lightly toasted.” She also said you can make the vinaigrette ahead, refrigerate it, and assemble the salad just before serving. I made it for lunch and added chicken, and I wished I had asked some friends to join me.  

The next recipe I want to share is out of a magazine, but I confess I don’t know which one. I am really bad about tearing out recipes for the future and have no idea where it came from. All I know is the article was about reinventing dinner and saving calories. This is a fish recipe, and I have a love hate relationship with cooking fish. When I dine out, it is practically all I order because I feel like I crash and burn so often when I cook it. I don’t feel like I am fully to blame since when we are on the coast, I feel like I do a pretty good job. I have trouble eating any fish that has been frozen and therein lies my problem  since we are landlocked. I do think the milder the fish the better my chances are so this calls for tilapia, or any white fish. I just bought the flash frozen individually wrapped tilapia that they have in every grocery store. The recipe is pretty self explanatory and it really was quick. I decided it would be a good goal to serve fish at least once a week and the husband definitely wants this in the rotation.

I will keep looking for some healthy painless trades for next month, I did test  a spinach souffle that was pretty good, but I want to work on it before I share it with you. I hope we can all remember  that we can have everything in moderation, even healthy cooking.  

Endive, Orange & Roquefort Salad
Barefoot Contessa Foolproof

For the vinaigrette:
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup of good olive oil
1 tsp. white wine vinegar

For the salad:
2 heads Belgian endive
1/2 cup walnut halves, toasted
1/4 pound French Roquefort cheese, 1/2 inch diced
1 sweet red apple, unpeeled, cored and medium-diced
4 oz. baby arugula
1 orange, peeled and cut in pieces

In a small bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, olive oil, vinegar, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Set aside. Cut heads of endive in half lengthwise, remove the triangle of core at the base of each half so the leaves separate, and cut the leaves in half again lengthwise. Place in a large bowl. Drizzle the leaves with the vinaigrette and add the walnuts, Roquefort, and apple.  Add the arugula and toss. Zest the orange into the salad with a strip zester. Peel orange and remove white pitch around the orange with a small sharp knife. Cut the orange sections between the membranes and toss them on the salad. Discard membranes. Sprinkle with salt and serve.  

Fish with Panko and Dijon

4 5-oz. fresh or frozen tilapia
2 tablespoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup whole wheat panko (Japanese bread crumbs. I used parmesan panko because I had it)
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. snipped fresh Italian parsley (I can’t ever find this, so good luck unless you grow it)
2 tsp. hot sauce (We like Louisiana)
salt and pepper

Thaw tilapia if frozen rinse and pat dry. Preheat oven to 450. Line a shallow baking pan with foil. Sprinkle each fillet with salt and pepper and arrange in a single layer in prepared pan. Spread dijon mustard over each piece of fish. For topping, in a bowl stir together panko bread crumbs, butter, hot sauce, and parsley. Spoon topping evenly over each piece of fish. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until fish flakes easily  and topping is browned as desired.  

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