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  • Stovetop Kettle Corn | heatherlikesfood.com

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia

I’ve taught a couple of classes to my church group on quick weeknight meals over the past few years. Slow-cooker and freezer meals somehow always make it into my class, but those take planning and preparation before hand. If you’re like me, you don’t have the motivation/freezer space to make 30 gagillion freezer meals and be set for the month. I know some people do it and LOVE it and there are all sorts of amazing blogs that tell you how, but I just haven’t found my way onto that train yet. So when I teach a class like this I like to focus on foods that take very little preparation and cook time and quickly take on different flavors. Fish is one of these foods.

Tilapia is a relatively inexpensive, firm white fish. It’s flavor is super mild so even if you don’t think you’re a fish person, you might give this one a go.  I most often buy my fillets frozen from Costco where they come individually vacuum sealed so all I have to do is throw however many I need to cook for the night in the sink with some warm water and within 15 minutes they are thawed and ready to go.

To start this pesto version all I do is place the thawed fillets in a baking dish and season them with salt and pepper.

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia | heatherlikesfood.com

The pesto I use, is again, from Costco (I promise this isn’t sponsored) and it’s one my favorite things to get there. This big jar is right around $8 and gives us at least 5 different meals each time I buy it.

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia | heatherlikesfood.com

Spread 1- 1 1/2 tbsp of the pesto on top of each seasoned fillet. It’s okay if you don’t completely cover the sides because as it bakes it will move down and all will be well.

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia | heatherlikesfood.com

From here it’s just a quick bake in the oven– 10-15 minutes depending on how big your fillets are. The fish is done when you twist a fork in the thickest part and it flakes easily. Also, the flesh will be opaque when cooked through.

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia | heatherlikesfood.com

It’s super flavorful, great served with rice or pasta and is done in 30 minutes!

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia | heatherlikesfood.com

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia

Oven Baked Pesto Tilapia

Ingredients

  • 4 tilapia fillets or other firm white fish
  • 1/4-1/3 C prepared pesto (I like Costco brand best)
  • salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400
  2. Place fillets in a greased 9x13" baking dish and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Spread 1-1 1/2 Tbsp of pesto over each fillet
  4. Bake uncovered for 10-12 minutes or until the fish flakes easily and is opaque.
http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/oven-baked-pesto-tilapia/

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake

Including my own, I have 9 baby showers to attend over the next few months. NINE! You’d think that we all drank the same punch or something wouldn’t you? It’s pretty crazy. And so far every single one of these women are having girls except for me.  I’m totally fine with this since I already have 2 girls, but this poor boy is not only going to have 2 sisters, but all of his play-group buddies (my friend’s kids) are going to be girls. He’s going to be quite the ladies man!

I started my marathon of baby showering and celebrating last week and brought this cheesecake to the party. If you’re in the mood for cheesecake but don’t want to fiddle with ovens and water baths, this recipe is for you. Sadly when I made this last week I only gave it like 2 hours to chill before slicing into it so it didn’t stay pretty for long, but it sure tasted good! If you want it to keep it’s shape just make sure to give it a good 4- 24 hours to set up in the fridge before slicing. Let’s make it!

I don’t have pictures of the crust but it’s a simple graham cracker, brown sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter combo. Press it into a pie dish or spring form pan, pop into the fridge for 3o minutes to chill and it’s done!

For the filling you’ll beat 2, 8 oz packages of softened cream cheese with sugar, lemon juice and some vanilla bean seeds. When you’re beating the cream cheese scrape the sides of the bowl down a couple of times to make sure you’re getting it all incorporated. If you wait until you add the cream to scrape the bowl you’ll end up with chunks of cream cheese in your finished cake. <—- no bueno

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Remember that one time I made my own homemade vanilla extract? I’m using a vanilla bean that has been soaking in vodka for the past 5 months. This looks a little different than just splitting a vanilla bean in half and scraping out the seeds but either way works just as well.

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Liquid gold, this stuff is. I luurrrrvve vanilla.

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Next up, the cream. First of all, make sure the cream you use says “Heavy Whipping Cream” or “35% fat cream” or something to alert you that you are using the real deal and not glorified half and half. Sometimes cream that just says “whipping cream” doesn’t have enough fat in it to keep it stable and let it thicken. Sorry folks, low-fat options just aren’t going to work here! :) Second, add the cream in slooooowly. Add some, scrape the bowl. Add some more, scrape the bowl again. Doing this will keep your mixture super smooth and prevent any lumpy-ness.

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Once all the cream is mixed in you can let the mixer rip and whip until it’s thick and still peaks form.

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Spoon into the chilled crust, smooth out the top, cover and pop in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

You can really top this cheesecake with whatever you want, but I’m always in the mood for some fresh strawberries. Instead of mixing them with a bit of sugar I like to stir them up with a few tablespoons of strawberry jam to give them a little glaze and sweetness.

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

And that’s about it. Top, eat, and enjoy!

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake | heatherlikesfood.com

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake

Creamy Vanilla Bean No Bake Cheesecake

Ingredients

    Crust
  • 1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup butter, melted
  • Filling
  • 2 packages (8 oz each) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • seeds of 1 vanilla bean
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • Topping
  • 1-2 lbs fresh strawberries, sliced
  • 2 Tbsp strawberry jam

Instructions

  1. In a bowl combine graham cracker crumbs, cinnamon, brown sugar and butter. Press into the bottom of an ungreased 9" pie or spring form pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. With an electric mixer, beat cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice and vanilla until smooth, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Slowly add the cream and continue to beat until still peaks form.
  3. Spoon into chilled crust, cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours, overnight is preferable.
  4. Toss strawberries with strawberry jam and let sit for 30 minutes or until the strawberries start to release some of their juice. Slice cheesecake and serve with strawberries.
http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/creamy-vanilla-bean-no-bake-cheesecake/

Hearty Ranch Breakfast Strata

This week my mom and brother came to visit us and make our rainy spring break a little brighter. Somehow the weather gods of the pacific northwest know that spring break is coming up so they give us a teaser week of sunshine and happiness the week before and rain and gloom the whole week we’re out of school. It’s excellent really. But despite the icky weather we’re still having fun filling up our schedules with trips to the cheese factory and thrift store hunting so all is well.

When I have company I hate spending more time that I need to in the kitchen so breakfast stratas like this one make breakfast quick, easy. and are super crowd pleasers. Today’s strata cuts down on some of the prep time by using a packet of Hidden Valley ranch dressing mix to season it so you don’t have to go digging through the cupboards for things like ground mustard. You’re welcome.

When the hardest part about making a recipe is not eating the crispy bacon pieces before they make their way into the mix, you know it’s a keeper.

Potatoes cooked in a bit of bacon grease, anyone?

We’re also loading this one up with diced potatoes, ham, onion, cheese and plenty of egg.

But before we mix it all up, the potatoes, ham and onion get a little shower from a packet of Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing mix. Just the seasoning mix, friends. If you add mayonnaise or milk to it you’ll have very different results than I did. Just sayin’.

You know, I’ve had quite a few stratas in my day and adding the ranch seasoning adds just a little punch of flavor that really makes it stand out.

From here you can start the layering: cubed white bread, potatoe/ham/onion mixture, bacon, cheese, and repeat one more time.

Whisk up a few eggs with some milk and a little bit of salt and pour evenly over the contents of the pan. Make sure to make this up the day before you’re going to enjoy it so that it has plenty of time to sit and absorb the egg mixture. This way you’re also able to wake up in the morning and quickly pop it into the oven while you’re still in your skivvies before your guests wake up.

They’ll soon be awakened by the sweet smell of ham and bacon and think that you’ve been up slaving away over their breakfast.

Silly guests.

From dressings and dips to sandwich spreads and side dish solutions, the special blend of herbs and spices makes Hidden Valley the perfect addition to any recipe. For more delectable ranch recipes, visit www.hiddenvalley.com.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Hidden Valley Ranch. The opinions and text are all mine.

Hearty Ranch Breakfast Strata

Yield: Serves 8

Hearty Ranch Breakfast Strata

Ingredients

  • 12 oz bacon, chopped
  • 12 oz cooked ham, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 C potatoes, peeled and cut into 1" squares
  • 1, 1 oz packet Hidden Valley Original Ranch Dressing Mix
  • 12 slices white bread, cut into 2" squares
  • 3 C medium cheddar cheese
  • 8 lg eggs
  • 3 C milk
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt

Instructions

  1. In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp, remove from pan and drain of all but 2 tbsp of the bacon fat. Add potatoes to the hot bacon drippings and cook until just tender-- about 5-7 minutes. Add ham and onion. Cook and stir until onion is tender and stir in ranch dressing packet.
  2. In a greased 13-in. x 9-in. baking dish, layer half the bread cubes, potatoes mixture, bacon and cheese. Repeat layers of bread, potatoes, meat, and cheese.
  3. In a large bowl, beat the eggs; add the milk and salt. Pour over all. Cover and chill overnight.
  4. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Bake, uncovered, at 325° for 65-70 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean.
http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/hearty-ranch-breakfast-strata/

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd

Last week I got to dip my toes back in the cake decorating world for a few days as I made a handful of cakes for a church event. It’s probably been over a year since I last made any sort of decorated cake so it felt pretty good to break out the piping bags  and have an excuse to eat cake scraps and spoonfuls of whipped cream while I was “working”.

I made 6 cakes total in 3 different flavors: chocolate toffee, white chocolate raspberry marble, and lemon strawberry. I’m kind of lemon-freaky so naturally the lemon was my favorite and it tended to be a favorite throughout the event too. It had 5 layers of white cake and was layered with vanilla mousse, fresh strawberries, and this lemon curd. And just in case you don’t know, lemon curd = love.

I probably should have taken some nice pictures of the cakes, but oh well. Here’s my quick Instagram share.

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

I know the word curd isn’t particularly romantic but that’s  what it’s called, folks. If you’re not familiar, its a dessert sauce made with lots of very strong flavored fruit juice (like lemon), thickened with egg and finished with butter. It’s velvety, rich and basically heaven on a spoon… or cake… or fingertip.

To start, we’re going to boost that lemon flavor by using the zest of 4 lemons. Yes, you read that right, FOUR lemons. We’re going to be juicing these lemons later. My favorite tool for removing the zest from lemons is definitely my Microplane but a sharp vegetable peeler does the trick too if chop it up really fine.

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

We’ll need 2/3 C of lemon juice as well so juice up those lemons.

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

We’ll just pretend I have picture of this next step, okay? In a mixer with the beater attachment or with a hand mixer cream together some butter, sugar and the lemon zest that is chopped super fine until smooth. Add the eggs in one at a time, beating until smooth and then the lemon juice.

You’ll end up with a mixture that looks a little lumpy but is mixed together. Pour it into a sauce pan and start to cook over medium-low heat. STIR constantly. Please don’t stop– it will only make you sad.

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

It will take about 10 minutes, but you’ll see it start to thicken and become glossy. Once it’s thick enough to where you can run your finger down the back of a spatula and your “finger streak” stays put, you’re done. You don’t want it to come to a full on boil or the eggs will curdle so keep an eye on it and take it off the heat when you suspect it’s done.

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

It you want to make it super velvety, a quick trip through a mesh sieve will take care of any inadvertent egg curdles or hunks of lemon zest but I usually feel like it’s smooth enough to forgo it .

Once it has a chance to chill in the fridge it will thicken up nicely and be perfect for layering in cakes, eating straight up or for spreading on scones.

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

Speaking of scones, I’ll have a lemon blueberry scone recipe up soon that is the perfect compliment to this lemon curd!

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd | heatherlikesfood.com

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd

Yield: 3 Cups

Sweet and Tangy Lemon Curd

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 4 lemons, finely zested- lemons reserved.
  • 1/2 C salted butter
  • 5 large eggs
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2/3 C fresh lemon juice from reserved lemons

Instructions

  1. In a mixer, cream butter, lemon zest, and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition.
  2. Stir in lemon juice and salt-- mixing until smooth.
  3. Transfer mixture into a sauce pan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly.
  4. After about 10 minutes the mixture will start to thicken and become glossy. Continue stirring and cooking until it's thick enough to stick to the back of a spatula when you run your finger through it. Remove from heat. Do not boil.
  5. Let cool, cover and refrigerate. Last up to a week in the fridge, 1 month in the freezer.
http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/sweet-tangy-lemon-curd/

5 Ingredient Zuppa Toscana

Hey guys, it’s time to get your recipe writing on! You’re all familiar with Simply Potatoes, right? You’ve probably seen them in the grocery store in the refrigerated section and if not you’re totally going to be able spot them now! Welp, they are hosting a recipe contest right now for your best 5 ingredient recipe using one of their products. The winning recipe creator will be crowned with $3,000 in addition to the lovely satisfaction of winning and there are other great prizes to be had just for submitting a recipe!

Enter your Recipe Here

I got in on the recipe writing fun and decided to play with my original recipe for Zuppa Toscana Soup. It’s already a pretty straight-forward recipe but the addition of a bag of already diced, seasoned and cooked potatoes makes it that much easier. Start to finish I was able to have the soup done in about 15 minutes! Aaaand it tastes almost identical to the original.

We’re talking 5 ingredients here: italian sausage, simply potatoes- steakhouse seasoned diced, kale, chicken broth, and cream. FIVE. You don’t even need to season it since the sausage and potatoes have so much flavor to begin with.

I love no-brainer recipes like this and I bet you have a few in your arsenal that would be great competitors in the contest too, so don’t forget to enter!

For rules on how to enter the Sweepstakes click here.

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Simply Potatoes. The opinions and text are all mine.

5 Ingredient Zuppa Toscana

Yield: 4-6 Servings

5 Ingredient Zuppa Toscana

Ingredients

  • 1 lb Mild Italian Sausage
  • 1, 20 oz pkg. Simply Potatoes, steakhouse seasoned diced
  • 6 C chicken broth
  • 2 C kale, washed and chopped
  • 1 C cream

Instructions

  1. Brown and crumble sausage in a large pot, Once cooked remove sausage from pot an place on paper towels to remove excess fat. Drain off all but 1-2 tsp of fat from the pot.
  2. Add potatoes to the pot and cook for 2-3 minutes. Add sausage back to the pot and stir in chicken broth.
  3. Bring to a simmer and stir in kale. Cook 3-5 minutes longer or until kale and potatoes are tender. Remove from heat, stir in cream and serve.
http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/5-ingredient-zuppa-toscana/