Mahi Mahi Nuggets (Paleo Approved)

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I love seafood and nothing beats some good ole southern style cookin’. Living in Florida and Texas the past 4 years there is a common trend on the menu… fried everything. At almost every seafood restaurant you will see an appetizer of some kind of fried fish or gator nugget and they are so good! Now that I’ve been home in Cinci for a while, I really miss fresh seafood and southern style food. So in lieu of my local restaurant craving that’s not accessible, I wanted to make my own healthier version. These little fried wonders are coated in almond meal. This is Paleo approved as well if you are on a Paleo diet. Almond meal is basically almonds ground up so fine that it has a flour like consistency and can be used in place of flour for a healthier alternative. I mixed some spices such as cajun, paprika, lemon pepper, and salt to give it some flavor. I promise when you taste these you would never know you’re saving a lot of calories and eating healthier! I also used coconut oil but you can use olive oil as well. I had to use Frisch’s tarter sauce (not Paleo approved, but I am home and I only have so much time to enjoy Cincinnati/NKY favorites!)

To get started take your mahi mahi and cut into 1-2 inch pieces, pat dry with a paper towel. (this helps the egg and almond meal to stick to the fish better) Take a shallow bowl and whisk your eggs. In a tupperware container, mix your almond meal, salt, lemon pepper, and seasonings. Place a skillet on medium heat and coat with coconut or olive oil. Let the skillet get hot before placing your mahi.

Take your mahi and coat in the egg shake off any excess egg, then transfer to the tupperware. Once there are enough pieces to fill the tupperware close the lid and shake the seasonings. When the mahi is coated evenly transfer to the skillet. Repeat if you have more fish pieces. Cook the mahi 3-4 minutes on each side (smaller pieces will cook faster) You want a golden brown color, it may look a little darker since you added the cajun seasoning. Once cooked, place on paper towels to soak up excess grease.

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Serve with your choice of dipping sauce and lemon or lime wedge!

What you’ll need:

1 lb Mahi Mahi

1 large egg

1 cup almond flour

1/4 tsp cajun seasoning

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp paprika

3/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp lemon pepper

1/4 cup extra virgin coconut oil (or olive oil)

4 lemon and lime wedges

tarter sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce

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Seared Ahi Tuna

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I am a sucker for anything seafood. I love ahi tuna, and I’ve always wanted to try it homemade. This is super easy and really not very expensive considering you will have enough to feed at least two people. I must admit I was a little skeptical at first, I’ve been living right by the ocean for the past 4 years and have gotten used to very fresh, right off the boat kind of seafood. So, going to the seafood counter at our local Kroger in Northern Kentucky definitely took some convincing to myself. Of course, I had to ask where they got the tuna steaks from and if they were fresh or previously frozen. (This is always important to me, you will not have the same end result when cooking previously frozen fish, I guarantee you!) After confirming that they were fresh and the color looked really good to me (you can always tell by the color of salmon, tuna, and mahi if they are good quality) I decided to go for it! And I was not disappointed!

The reason why I seem so anal about the quality of the tuna is because ahi tuna is pan seared for just a minute or two on each side, it is not fully cooked. I would say it’s close to medium rare, but more on the rare side. You do not want to eat anything like this unless you know it’s a good fresh piece of fish, or your stomach will have you locked up in the bathroom all night with food poisoning or a nasty stomach bug!

Ok, now that my health inspection- germ freaky rant is done, now we can talk about the good stuff!

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Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl, taste test it and add more honey or tamari if you want it a little more sweet or a little more salty. Take two tbsp and set aside. Take your tuna steak and place in a ziploc bag and pour in the sauce, marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes. Once marinated sprinkle the steak with salt, pepper, and a decent amount of toasted (or regular if you cant find them toasted) sesame seeds. Press down on the seeds slightly, to help them stick on the steak.

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Take your pan and place the oil. Swirl to coat, and put it on medium high to high heat. Wait until the pan is hot then pan sear the tuna 1 to 1 1/2 minutes on each side. Set on cutting board.

Bring out your greens, avacado, scallions and extra sauce. Place your greens on a plate, then your avacado, then take your ahi tuna and thinly slice lengthwise. Place your tuna over your salad. Drizzle the extra sauce over top of your salad and tuna. Take a lemon wedge and lightly squeeze over top, if you wish. Serve.

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That’s it!! super easy and fast, not to mention healthy! I like to eat mine with a side of white rice. Next time I think I’ll try an Ahi Poke Bowl! If you’ve never had one you’ve gotta try it, Salt Life Food Shack has a pretty mean one!

What you’ll need:
For the Sauce:
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tsp finely grated ginger (or powder)
1 tbsp grapeseed oil
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp low sodium tamari (you can also substitute with low sodium soy sauce)
1 tbsp honey (I may have added a tad bit more after my taste test)
2 teaspoon Siracha sauce (I like it spicy!)
1 tbsp gyoza sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
**You can find all or most of these sauces in the asian aisle at your local grocery store**
For the rest:
One tuna steak, raw and not previously frozen (See rant at top for tips)
Salt and pepper
Sesame seeds, preferably toasted
Field greens
Avacado, diced
White Rice or your favorite kind of rice on the side

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Seafood Mac-N-Cheese

On a trip home, I happened to meet some friends at a restaurant called Keystone Bar & Grill, famous for their unique mac and cheese and quesadillas. Amazing dishes, so creative and my favorite is their mac and cheese names, such as Fleetwood Mac, Pink Floyd, Nirvana. I am a huge Classic Rock and Alternative fan, so obviously I loved their food before even tasting it!

I came home and decided I was going to make my own version, not really experienced in the mac and cheese world, I thought I would be safe and look up a mac and cheese recipe to base my dish off of. I decided to use Muenster Cheese because it felt soft and I knew it would melt well. I actually have never had it before so I kind of just winged it at the store! I also bought some Gruyere Cheese because I wanted a little bit of a nutty cheese into the mixture.

From my previous recipe Seafood Quesadillas I had extra shrimp and Mahi Mahi. I thought, this would be super tasty in a mac and cheese dish! I had some bacon I needed to use up, so I added that to give the perfect salty crunch! This dish takes some time to make, but it’s definitely worth it in the end (and even better the next day leftover!)

I start out by whisking my goat cheese (If you don’t like goat cheese, you can substitute with feta or cheddar, or really any cheese you like!) bread crumbs, and bacon. I originally wanted to use panko crumbs, but I forgot to buy some at the store and the bread crumbs worked out great! Preheat your oven to 450º.

Start boiling a large pot of salted water. Cook your noodles according to package directions, you want them to be al dente, as in a little bit undercooked because they will also cook in the oven. Once drained, rinse your pasta with cold water and drain again, this prevents the pasta from sticking. Pour into a large bowl then place your shrimp and mahi and mix well. Set aside.

Start your cheese mixture. My favorite part of mac and cheese is obviously the cheese sauce! And it’s important that you get the right texture! Start by melting the butter on medium, then adding the flour slowly and making sure to whisk constantly to make a clumpy, flour base. Then add your milk, slowly and whisk constantly until you reach a thick consistency. It should stick to the back of a wooden spoon. Next, add your cheeses and mix until melted through. It may take a couple of mixes to break up the cheese and melt. Make sure you give it a taste before deciding it’s good. If it doesn’t taste cheesy enough, add more! If it’s not thick enough, add more flour. Also be sure to not let your mixture boil! This will clump up the flour.

Add all of your sauce into the bowl of pasta. Next add your lemon juice and zest, parsley, garlic powder and pepper. Mix well. (I omitted the salt because of the butter, cheese and bacon.. that’s enough sodium for me!)

Now add your bread crumb mixture evenly over the top of the pasta and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. I put mine on broil for the last 5 minutes and moved my dish to the top wrack to give it a good crunch on top.

Let sit for 5 minutes to let the flavors and sauce really come together.

I am not lying this is the best homemade mac and cheese I’ve ever had! One of the best surprises in this dish is the slight lemon zest you taste in every bite, it works so well with the seafood and cheese! Unless you absolutely hate seafood or have an allergy, you have to try this dish! And if you don’t like seafood, subtitute with some chicken or sausage. It’s so fun to use your imagination when in the kitchen, and the results are always something to be proud of!

What you’ll need:
13.25 ounces rotini (I used Barilla)
1/2 pound fresh shrimp, peeled with tails removed and cut in half
1/2 fillet of Mahi Mahi, cut into pieces
1 package bacon, cooked crispy and crushed into small peices
A spoonful of herbed goat cheese, crumbled
Zest of 1 large lemon, divided
Juice of the lemon
3/4 cup plain bread crumbs (or panko)
4 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley, divided
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose unbleached flour (plus more if needed)
4 cups milk (whole or reduced fat)
2 ounces Gruyère Cheese, grated
8 oz Meunster Cheese, wax cut off (I used Boars Head)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 teaspoon fresh black pepper

Seafood Quesadillas

I love seafood.

If I had a choice, I would eat it everyday and it would never get old!! So you can imagine my excitement when I moved to FL for the first time. Growing up in Cincinnati/Northern KY, you don’t necessarily have access to good seafood. Just your run of the mill imported fish. Now that I have lived in Corpus Christi TX, Pensacola, FL and now Jacksonville I can tell you that I’ve been in seafood heaven! According to my husband, I haven’t had good seafood until I get to the New England states, but for now I think I’ll live it up to my own opinions until I’m proven wrong.

I wanted fresh seafood, not from the grocery store but straight off the boat!! So I headed to Safe Harbor Seafood Market in Mayport, right by RJ’s Navy base. It is a restaurant and market, and all of their seafood is caught fresh off the boats they have on the docks. Everything from whole fish, to fillets, to shrimp and squid. They have a ton of selections and it’s very moderately priced!

So you’re asking… What made me think of this amazing idea to combine seafood and Mexican food? I had something similar to this at a small restaurant by the beach a few weeks ago, it was an alright meal, a little too much cheese and not enough seafood if you ask me, but I love to find ways to make dishes more, well me! So I decided to ex-nay the regular salsa and make a pineapple-mango salsa. I also decided to add more than one type of seafood, so I got the works! I knew I wanted a white fish, and the Mahi was on sale, so I went with Mahi Mahi, shrimp, and crab. I used my favorite cheese from the deli Boar’s Head Chipotle Smoked Ghouda (has a good kick to it and it melts beautifully!)

I started by making the salsa. Super easy! Cut up your pineapple, mango, red pepper, red onion, jalapeno, and cilantro. Add your lime juice and mix well. Easy Peasy and did I mention, amazing?!

Next, wash off your fish and shrimp. I cut my fish into three pieces to help it cook faster. Rub Cajun seasoning on the fish and add salt and pepper. Place some olive oil on the skillet and cook for 10 minutes and an additional 5 on the skin side. It should be white and flaky and shouldn’t see any pink.

Once it’s cooked, place on a plate to cool. While your fish is cooling, place your shrimp on the skillet and add cajun salt and pepper. Cook for about 5 minutes being sure to move around every minute or so to cook evenly. Once done, your shrimp should have a pink look to them.

RJ didn’t want crab on his, so I had to cook it separately, but you can definitely add the crab to the shrimp on the skillet and cook them together. The fish should now be cooled, take a fork and peel off the skin of the fish. Then with your fork flake into pieces. Take your bottom tortilla and place the cheese evenly. Take your shrimp, crab, and mahi and place evenly on top of the cheese. Take some cilantro and sprinkle.

Take your top tortilla and place over the fish. Take a grill pan and coat with some olive oil on medium-high. Once it’s hot, place your quesadilla on the pan and press down with another heavy skillet or something flat that is heavy. Wait 1-2 minutes and gently take the quesadilla and flip over to grill the other side. Wait another 1-2 minutes and place on a plate to serve!

Take your pineapple-mango salsa and place on each quesadilla triangle. I whipped up a Mexican staple of mine, sour cream, taco sauce and cajun seasoning. I use it with anything Mexican!

Now I think that regular salsa would be good with this meal, but the mango-pineapple salsa just gives it that sweet and spicy collision of flavors that every mouth craves! The sweetness from the salsa pairs perfectly with the spicy kick of cajun. This is absolutely one of my favorite dinners so far! And it is super easy and quick to make! I will definitely be using this salsa again!

What you’ll need:
pineapple-mango salsa:
1/2 mango, cubed
1/2 cup pineapple, chopped
1/2 red onion, minced
1/2 red pepper, chopped
1/2 jalapeno pepper, seeds removed, minced
A bunch of cilantro, minced
the juice of one lime
seafood quesadillas:
Mahi Mahi Fillet
1/2 pound of shrimp
1 cup of crab (real, not imitation)
Cajun seasoning
Chipotle Ghouda Cheese (or any cheese you would like to add!)
tortillas
cilantro
sour cream/taco sauce/cajun mixture (for dipping)