Monday, October 29, 2012

Tilapia with Bell Peppers and Parsley-Spiked Couscous

A few years back, while teaching on the island of Ebeye, I encountered a problem with words.  It started while reading Encyclopedia Brown with my 5th graders.

"Then Encyclopedia and... and..." the little girl stopped.

"Phoebe," I suggested.

"... and" then she dropped her voice down to a whisper, "Phoebe followed the trail.
Popcorn Manty."  She let out a sigh of relief and relaxed back into her chair.

It was Manty's turn to read, but he just looked at the book for a moment.  Finally he read, "Fo-ay-bee and Encyclopedia..."

"Phoebe, it's Phoebe."

"Um, ok... 'she picked up her magnifying glass and looked down at the ground.'  Popcorn Bokjuwa."  Another sigh of relief, another body relaxing into a wooden chair.

Man, I thought, what is with these kids today?  You would think that after me telling them it is Phoebe for the fifteenth time, they would get it.  

But no, Bokjuwa had the same problem.  Except hers was pronounced like Foo-bay.

"Guys, it's Fee-bee.  FEE-BEE.  Say it with me."


And then a hand shot up.  "Miss?" Pamela called out, "Um, that name, that word, um..."  She hesitated for a minute and then blurted it out, "In our language it means, you know, a girl's..." Then she glanced down at her crotch.


I learned a valuable lesson that day.  Don't name your daughter Phoebe if there is any chance she may live in the Marshall Islands some day.

It wasn't long after that my roommate and I were making some couscous for dinner.  A neighbor girl, originally from the island of Pohnpei, was doing her homework at out table.  Lisa and I kept talking, but every time we said "couscous" Dixie started to giggle.  Finally, I asked her what was up.

"Oh Miss!  Couscous," giggle giggle, "it means something kind of bad in my language."  And then she giggled some more.

So, couscous.  What does it mean in Pohnpeian?  Like she said, something 'kind of bad'.  Not anything I can repeat here, being family-friendly and all.  I will let your imaginations run with that one.  But let's just say that every time I cook couscous, I giggle.

But dinner tonight?  No giggling needed.  Straight-up good.  Good for you, good tasting, and good on the wallet.  Tilapia with bell pepper and some parsley spiked couscous.


*Giggle, giggle*

Recipe from Everyday with Rachael Ray, March 2011

  Serves:  4          Prep Time:  10 minutes          Total Time: 20 minutes


  • 1 7.6 ounce box  couscous
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • Salt and pepper
  • tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • skinless tilapia fillets (about 1 1/4 pounds), patted dry
  • lemons, cut into wedges
  • bell peppers, cut into thin strips
  • onion, thinly sliced


  1. In a small saucepan, bring 1 1/2 cups salted water to a boil; remove from the heat, stir in the couscous, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Using a fork, stir in 1/2 cup parsley, salt and pepper. Keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large nonstick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, add to the pan and cook, turning once, until golden-brown and just cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, squeeze a wedge of lemon over each fillet and tent with foil to keep warm.
  3. Using the same skillet, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Add the bell peppers and onion and season with salt and pepper; cook until softened and golden-brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Spoon the vegetables over the tilapia and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons parsley. Serve with the couscous and remaining lemon wedges.

COST:  $11.12     COST PER SERVING (4): $2.78

Friday, October 26, 2012

Vegan Pumpkin Walnut Bread

Apparently, I am a bad neighbor.

I mean, I try really really hard to be a good one.  Tip-toe through the apartment at night to not disturb the people downstairs, offer to help the old lady next door to carry up her groceries... see?  Proof that I TRY to be a good neighbor.  And I would have said that I was ACTUALLY a good neighbor, until the other day showed me otherwise.

My neighbor was walking toward her apartment, laundry basket in front of her large, pregnant belly.

"Baby is almost here, right?" I asked.  "Probably just a few more days?"

She looked at me with an odd expression for a few seconds and then said, "She is already here.  She was born three weeks ago."

WHA...?  I walk past their door how many times a day?  How on earth did I miss that?!

See, not as good of a neighbor as I thought.

But this weeks 'Sundays with Joy' recipe totally made up for that.  I mean, who could think I am a bad neighbor when I bring them a nice, fresh loaf of vegan pumpkin walnut bread?  And on Pumpkin Day no less?  Yeah, that's what I thought.  I pulled it out of the oven and let it cool, and then wrapped it up (with what I had on hand, which is why that is yarn), and headed over, being all good-neighborly.

So maybe I am not so much of a bad neighbor as an unaware one...

Wanna be a good neighbor?  Joy's recipe makes two perfect pumpkin loaves, great for sharing.  Or great for keeping all to yourself.  It's OK, I won't tell anyone ;)

.For this week's recipe, visit Joy's blog HERE or go buy a book HERE.  You will be happy you did.

PS -- Yes, I am sharing my usual Sunday post today, on a Friday.  That's because today is National Pumpkin Day and, more importantly, I have very special thing to share with you on Sunday.  So come back and check it out!  See you then :)

COST: $6.30   COST PER LOAF (2): $3.15

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Whole Wheat Pasta with Walnut Garlic Pesto

It has been ages since I have posted a new recipe.  And by ages I mean two weeks.  But when you love to cook, two weeks can seem like ages.

Yesterday, though, the business slowed down a bit and the rain paused long enough for me to do what I enjoy.  Who cares that there was laundry to be done and work to do?  The conditions outside were right, and I wanted to cook.

This is not actually a new recipe.  In fact, this was one of my original recipes on this blog.  But it was time to do it again.  What can I say -- my pictures in the early days were atrocious.  ATROCIOUS.  Oh well, I have lived and I have learned.  And I needed an easy unprocessed recipe for dinner.  What's easier than pasta???  I like the ingredients on this bag of penne:  organic whole wheat flour.  YES.

Pesto is always so easy to make if you have a food processor, and this pesto is no different:  walnuts, garlic, parsley, olive oil, and lemon juice.  Mix it up and that's it.

The recipe called for cooked mushrooms and spinach, but there was no spinach to be found in my fridge... but there were brussel sprouts!  Yes, you heard me correctly -- I added brussel sprouts.  Don't yuck my food just yet.  These things taste good when cooked right!  And I cooked them right :)

The end result?  A fast, unprocessed, vegan meal that you can make in 20 minutes or less.  And a happy, happy Tiffany.

Man, it feels good to be back in the kitchen!

Recipe adapted from Everyday Food with Rachael Ray, August 2010


  • pound whole wheat penne rigate pasta
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • cups white mushrooms (about 5 ounces), thinly sliced
  • 1 cup brussel sprouts, leafed or spinach
  • cloves garlic
  • cup walnut pieces (about 4 ounces), toasted
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped parsley
  • Grated peel and juice of 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper


  1. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until al dente, about 12 minutes. Drain, reserving 1 cup of the pasta cooking water, and return the pasta to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until lightly colored, about 5 minutes. Stir in the brussel sprout leaves and cook until wilted, about 1 minute.
  3. Using a small food processor, mince the garlic. Add the walnuts, parsley and lemon peel and process until finely chopped. With the machine on, add the lemon juice and remaining 1/4 cup olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Process to form a paste.
  4. Add the walnut pesto and 1/2 cup of the reserved pasta water to the pasta; toss to coat thoroughly. Stir in the mushroom mixture, adding more pasta water if needed; season with salt and pepper.

COST: $6.83   COST PER SERVING (4): $1.71 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Wednesday Files

Five things, running through my mind this Wednesday:

1.  So happy these two are close enough for me to see them regularly.  Brothers are wonderful.  Brothers NOT being in Afghanistan or Iraq are even better.  

2.  Drove across this the other day to get somewhere I needed to go, NOT as a tourist, not to take pictures. I like that.

3.  I am excited that this girl is getting married next year and that I get to be one of her bridesmaids.  Another adventure together.  Woo-hoo!

4.  I have been working hard to make books from all our trips and one from each year we have been married.  What fun!  I have a few more to do to catch up, but then I am all good.  I am going to LOVE having this checked off the list!

5.  The Giants are playing the first game of the World Series RIGHT NOW.  I am not a big sports fan at all, but there is something about having your local team go big.  The feeling around town is a happy one, decked out in orange in black.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Camping + October Unprocessed

This was my view when I woke up yesterday morning.

Man, I love camping!

Camping along the California Coast at Big Sur is a yearly tradition of our.  We have a group of friends that makes a point of getting together every year, bringing tents and marshmallows with us.  It has become one of my favorite annual events, but this year the adventure landed smack dab in the middle of another yearly deal: October Unprocessed.

So, what's one to do when you are going to be spending your days out of your kitchen and sharing food with a bunch of friends that probably won't be all too excited about an entire weekend of eating all unprocessed food?  Easy...

You turn to Trader Joe's for pancake mix.  Pumpkin pancake mix.  Sure, if I were in my kitchen I would make it from scratch.  But we are camping.  And this stuff is made with unbleached flour, organic raw cane sugar, and all other good things that are OK'd for the challenge.  No preservatives or artificial colors... PERFECT.

You enjoy that steak your husband cooked over the campfire.  And you enjoy a LOT of it.  Steak, after all, is unprocessed.  The healthiest thing for you?  Probably not.  But unprocessed?  Yes.

You chow down on roasted veggies for dinner.  And then secretly jump for joy when you realize that nobody remembered to bring hot chocolate or stuff for s'mores.  So we snacked on asparagus.  Sad for them, but happy for me ;)

And you pack snacks.  Banana chips are a great munchy food when everyone else is chomping down on Cheez-its.  The best part?  You don't have to be obnoxious about it.  They reach for the Cheez-its, you reach for the banana chips, and you all munch away.  Honestly, I don't even think anybody noticed...

So, can you be unprocessed even while camping?  Yes, yes you can.  But if you want those s'mores, you better go in another month ;)

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Wednesday Files: Costa Rica Road Trip

We have been busy.  Really busy.  And when we are really busy doing life sometimes I imagine sitting on a beach with a fresh coconut in my hand and sand between my toes.  That is my favorite kind of life.

I have shared a little bit about our trip to Costa Rica last summer, but I found myself thinking about it a lot today.  Sun, sand, surf.  Monkeys, zip lines, bananas...

We started our adventure at the Tree Houses Hotel near Arenal.  Sleeping in a tree house in the middle of the jungle kind of sounds like ever 8-year-old little boy's best dream, right?  Well, it was this grown woman's best dream as well.

We chose to sleep with the windows open (protected from the bugs by screens) so we could hear the sounds of the jungle around us, but if you are into that little thing called A/C, they have it for you.  And hot showers.  In a tree house.  In a jungle.

Yes, it really is awesome like that.

And they made a great breakfast for us every morning.  Check them out.

We spent the next two days hiking around a volcano and enjoying the natural hot springs.  Like I said, this is my favorite kind of life.

We loved that part of the trip, but we were excited to head on out to the next stop...

Yes, you are reading that correctly: Witch's Rock Surf Camp.

We went to surf camp!

My husband was already a surfer (and an avid one at that), but how about me?  Did I learn how to surf???

Looks like I did :)

Surfing by day, eating good food by night.  Walks down the beach and drinking tons and tons of fresh pineapple juice.  Tamarindo was good to us.

And Witch's Rock Surf Camp?  Superb.  I don't think my husband can go more than two weeks without saying, "We need to go back to surf camp in Costa Rica..."

Sadly, our trip was almost over.  But we had one more spot that we were told we MUST see while in Costa Rica -- Manuel Antonio.

Manuel Antonio is one of the biggest tourist destinations in Costa Rica.  And it is easy to see why.  Pristine beaches, beautiful jungle to explore, and my favorite: MONKEYS!

Yes, that's me.  And yes, those are monkeys.  Right behind me.  They were everywhere!  So awesome!!!

What else is awesome?  Free, fresh coconuts.  And zip lining through jungles.

Unfortunately, all vacations come to an end.  They wouldn't be a vacation if they didn't.  So we hopped on a plane and headed back into real life, you know -- work and bills and house cleaning.  But whenever I feel a little tired of those things, I just stop to think about that time in Costa Rica, just me and my man, and whole lot of adventure.  That's what I love about vacations.  They end, but their memories stay with you forever.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...