5 Recipes to Bring Out the Secret Chef In You
By Alison Wickmann
Before grabbing take-out and throwing it in a pan to create the illusion you prepared it, try giving these recipes a whirl. We will explore five recipes that will bring out the secret chef within you. These simple recipes will create an elaborate-looking dish that will appease your guests. Win-win for everyone! Now let’s dive in.
1. Coconut Crusted Tilapia
When we hear anything “crusted” food-wise, most people’s ears perk up. Who could resist fresh tilapia wrapped in a blanket of toasted coconut? Followed by a topping of zesty colorful salsa, this truly brings the “wow” factor.
- 4 tilapia fillets
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 1 lemon, cut in half
- 3 tablespoons coconut oil
- ⅓ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 chopped tomato
- ½ red onion, finely diced
- ½ cup pomegranate arils
- ½ cup cilantro, freshly chopped
- ½ lime, juiced
- ½ orange, juiced
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Add shredded coconut to saucepan over low-medium heat. As the coconut starts to become golden, stir to ensure everything is evenly toasted. Once this is done, set aside.
- Season both sides of tilapia with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
- Heat large skillet over medium to medium-high heat and add coconut oil. Once the oil is melted, add tilapia and cook until edges are opaque (this takes about 3 – 4 minutes).
- Use a spatula to gently flip the fish and cover in the toasted coconut. As the tilapia cooks, the coconut will begin to bond to the tilapia. After the tilapia is easily flakable with a fork, remove from the skillet and add the remaining coconut mix. Top with the pomegranate salsa and bon appetit!
- Combine all the ingredients, mix and enjoy!
Inspired by howsweeteats.com.
2. Vegetable Stir Fry
For our vegetarian foodies, this stir fry will leave your guests in awe (even fellow carnivores). The vibrant colors, array of textures and the slight crunch of the peppers will leave your guests asking for a second helping.
Side note – this is a great dish to get creative! Add more veggies, rice, nuts, protein or whatever your belly desires.
Ingredients for the stir fry
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- ½ cup carrots, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1 cup broccoli florets
- ¾ cup bell peppers (red), sliced
- 1 cup snow peas, trimmed
- ½ cup water chestnuts, drained and sliced
- ¾ cup baby corn, drained and sliced
- 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon ginger, minced
- Salt and pepper to taste
Ingredients for sauce
- ¼ cup vegetable broth – can also use chicken broth or water
- ¼ cup soy sauce
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the carrots and mushrooms and cook for 4 – 6 minutes or until tender.
- Add broccoli, bell peppers, snow peas, water chestnuts, baby corn and 2 tablespoons of water to the pan. Cook for 3 – 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender and water has cooked off.
- Add the garlic and ginger, cook for 30 seconds. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper to taste
- In a bowl, whisk together the vegetable roth, soy sauce and honey
- Pour the soy sauce mix over the vegetables and cook for 30 seconds.
- In a small bowl, mix cornstarch with a tablespoon of cold water.
- Add the cornstarch and bring to a boil: cook for 1 more minute or until sauce has just started to thicken.
- Serve immediately.
Inspired by Dinner at the Zoo.
3. California Chicken
Baked chicken, juicy tomato, oozy monterey jack cheese followed by creamy avocado slices – this is minimalistic and tasty. The best part is that the oven does majority of the work! Sit back, relax and take all the credit when your guests rave over this meal.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- Teaspoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 pinch salt
- 1 pinch black pepper
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and slice
- 2 tomatoes, sliced
- 8 once package monterey jack cheese, cut into 10 slices
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Warm oil in skillet, add chicken and onion.
- Cook 15 minutes or until chicken is browned.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Place chicken on cookie sheet. Top each breast with 1 – 2 slices of tomato and 2 – 3 slices of cheese.
- Place in oven for 10 – 15 minutes, until cheese melts.
- Remove from oven, add 2 – 3 slices of avocado on each breast.
- Serve immediately.
Inspired by Food.
4. Cajun Mac and Cheese
The love for mac and cheese is infinite at any age! This spruced up favorite will have everyone’s inner child squealing with delight.
- Kosher salt
- 12 ounces wagon-wheel pasta
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 ounces andouille sausage, diced
- 2 bunches scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 bell pepper (red or green), chopped
- 1 tablespoon Cajun spice blend
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 8 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cut into small cubes
- Bring a pot of hot salted water to a boil
- Add the pasta until al dente, about 1 minute less than the label directs.
- Reserve 1 up of the cooking water, then drain the pasta.
- Combine the olive oil and sausage in a large skillet over high-heat. Stir until the sausage browns (about 2 minutes).
- Add in the scallions and bell pepper to the large skillet, cook until tender (about 3 more minutes).
- Add Cajun spice and flour, stir for 2 minutes.
- Gradually add in the milk and continue whisking until the sauce is thick and creamy (5 minutes)
- Add the pasta, cheese and reserved cooking water to the skillet. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring the pasta to become coated in the sauce.
- Serve immediately.
Inspired by Pass The Sushi.
5. Kale Cobb Salad
If the idea of turning on the oven is daunting enough, keep it cool with this recipe. All it requires is some chopping and whisking of a couple ingredients!
- 6 cups chopped kale
- 2 avocados, peeled, pitted and diced
- 2 cup strawberries, cut in half
- ½ cup almonds
- ½ cup blackberries
- ⅓ cup blueberries
- ⅓ cup crumbled feta cheese
Poppyseed Dressing Ingredients
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 tablespoon poppy seeds
- For the poppyseed dressing, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk, sugar, apple cider vinegar and poppy seeds.
- To build the salad, place the kale in a large bowl and top with rows of avocados, strawberries, almonds, blackberries, blueberries and feta.
- Drizzle the salad with poppyseed dressing and serve.
Inspired by Damn Delicious.
Last little tip, use garnishes to your advantage. Garnishes make it easy to amp up your beautiful creation. Sprinkling fresh herbs or a couple lemon slices enhances the presentation immensely.
Next time your new love interest stops over for dinner or you have to cook for your in-laws, just whip up one of these fine dishes and enjoy!