Breaking Up with Costco – Veggie Dipping Chip & Basil Crusted Halibut

My tendency, since trying to eat “real food”, has been to simply avoid anything that’s not produce, whole grain, or dairy.  As Pollan says in one of his many rules, if you are eating “real”  you can pretty much shop the perimeter of the supermarket and avoid the entire middle.  In other words, the middle of the market is where the junk lurks.

Sticking to the perimeter hasn’t been a tough transition for me, because I’m not a traditional market shopper anyway.  My regular haunt is a little Persian produce place;  I occasionally hit Sprouts, and Trader Joe’s sometimes sneaks into my repertoire (usually when I’m there to buy wine and Ritter Sport).  But, I just can’t seem to fully break it off with Costco.  It’s kind of like trying to break up with a bad boyfriend who just keeps sucking you back in with the promise that things will change.  I mean after all, I do have SIX hungry mouths to feed around here and Costco’s copious sizes are just so attractive to me.  I have definitely noticed a change in the standard Costco fare recently – a lot more food stuff trying to LOOK like it is good for you, or only contains good stuff, or is organic or … or … or.  But overall, I think I’m just better off buying my TP there and then getting out of Dodge.  Kind of like Costco and I can “just be friends” but not really date anymore.

So all of this intro to get to my real confession which is that I dislike reading labels.  I just don’t have the patience to sit there and figure out if what I’m looking at is truly good for me or just more stuff that’s bad for me wearing a thinly veiled disguise.  Another Pollan-ism that I love, mainly because it affirms my dislike of label reading, is that if something contains more than 5 ingredients OR ingredients that a 3rd grader can’t pronounce, then it’s probably a skipper.

However, in my ongoing quest to break up with Costco, I did find a keeper recently.  These little veggie dipping chips.

halibut chips

There are three flavors mixed in the bag: Spinach & Garlic, Beet & Onion, and Carrot & Tomato.  They are REALLY tasty and the whole brood here has been enjoying them with edamame hummus.  Being the non-label reader that I am, I bought them on a whim and then read the label after the fact.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that my 3rd grader (good thing I’ve got one on hand for just this purpose) could pronounce every single ingredient.

As I set out to make dinner the other night, I decided on a little halibut number.  I was working from a recipe for Roasted Halibut with Walnut Crust.  Unfortunately, I had no walnuts, no panko, no italian parsley, and no chives.  Good thing I had the halibut!  In fact, I had no bread products whatsoever in the house, but really wanted to do the fish with a little crust of some sort.  While rummaging through the cupboard in total disbelief that I had no panko, I happened upon the Veggie Dipping Chips and decided to give it a whirl.  Medium Little One’s garden has been producing more basil than I can keep up with so I decided that it would be a Veggie Dipping Chip & Basil Crusted Halibut.  This is basically how it all went down.

Chopped up that lovely basil first.

halibut basil

Crushed up the dipping chips with some slivered almonds in my mini-food processor and then mixed them with the chopped basil.

halibut rub

Placed my halibut on a baking sheet covered with cooking spray.  I brushed each fillet with a little melted butter and then sprinkled with a little salt and pepper.


I then pressed the veggie chip, basil and almond mixture onto the top of each fillet and drizzled with a tiny bit more butter.


I baked the whole shabang at 450 degrees for about 8 minutes until the fish was opaque in the center.

I served things up with a little rice and some brussels sprouts with caramelized shallots.

halibut final

Even though this was a complete improv move, I would totally make it this way again.  Oh, and me and Costco have decided to give things one more chance. . .

Want the whole recipe?  Click here.

The Hubs Loves His Fish – Baked Rockfish with Tomato Caper Sauce

The hubs really loves fish of any kind.  I wasn’t as big of a fish admirer before we were married, but I guess I’ve morphed over time.  Salmon is a no brainer for me and I make a mean halibut.  Occasionally tuna sneaks onto the menu. And from time to time swordfish.  But I have to admit (after a couple of glasses of wine when I’m being brutally honest with myself), that there is still some intimidation factor for me when it comes to preparing fish.  I can’t put my finger on it, but I think it has to do with feeling that fish requires a much more precise cooking time.  And let’s face it, when fish is gross, it’s just plain gross and there’s not much that came be done to gussy it up.

That’s why I love this recipe that I came across recently.  It was written forsSole and the sauce also contained fennel.  I make it with rockfish, because that’s what my Costco has in stock quite regularly and it’s REALLY reasonably priced. I have made the sauce with fennel and it is lovely that way.  But if you’re like me, you probably don’t just have a fennel bulb kicking around in the fridge.  So I love this recipe in its modified format for  2 reasons: 1) it’s baked and my fish  intimidation factor gets knocked down a notch 2) it contains stuff that I normally have on hand.

So I start by  just chopping an onion and sauteeing it in some olive oil.  I add a little garlic once the onion starts to turn golden.  Then I add a can of diced tomatoes and their juices along with some white wine.  Finally, I throw in some capers and season with some salt and pepper.  I tame the capers a bit by rinsing them well before adding them.  Otherwise their taste can be a bit overpowering and the little palates of the house aren’t exactly caper fans in their un-rinsed state.

fish tom sauce


If you wish to do the fennel version of the sauce, you can just sautee the fennel right along with the onion.

After the sauce is done, transfer it to the bottom of a shallow, wide baking dish.  I use the old 9×13 casserole dish.

Then take your fish filets and roll them.  Place them on top of the sauce.  To finish things off, mix together some dry bread crumbs, softened butter and salt and pepper.  Place a nice dollop of this breadcrumb mixture right in the center of each fish roll.

fish before baking

Now sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of white wine around the fish (not on it) and into the sauce. Bake the whole thing at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes.

cooked fish

Recipe adapted from Epicurious.

For the full recipe, click here.

Fish Tacos – A nod to Cinco de Mayo

Growing up in Ohio, the 5th of May just came and went like any other day.  When I first moved to California, this day came and there was much ado about it everywhere. Cinco de what-o? was my initial reaction. But now that I’ve lived here 20 years (wow, just did the math on that one, and I surprised myself), a little Mexican fare is almost obligatory on this much-feted day.

This year though, we had been doing kid stuff all weekend down in San Diego and returned home late Sunday afternoon. Cinco had just snuck up on me.  What to make? I decided to pull out a quick and easy one, and a definite crowd pleaser in our house – fish tacos!

A while back we discovered a winning sauce combination and THAT is what makes these such a favorite in the house.  The 3 year old was once heard proclaiming at the table on fish taco night, “I could eat fish tacos every single night, Mom.”

So here’s the dish on the secret sauce – equal parts mayo and sour cream (we usually do 1/2 cup of each) mixed with the juice of 1 lime and about a Tbsp. of fresh grated lime zest. Try it and you won’t regret it.

The second thing that makes these a fav among the kids, is that they get the joy of assembling their own taco – think culinary Legos. So I serve up lots of options when I serve fish tacos – fresh cabbage (my personal favorite), grated cheese, salsa, corn and beans, cilantro, avocado, rice, and lime wedges to name a few.

While I am prepping all of my accompaniments for the tacos, I have the fish cooking in the oven.  I prefer using Trader Joe’s Breaded Cod Fillets, but really any fish choice will work. After the fish is

crispy, I just cut it into shred-like pieces.

The kids plates look a little different than mine as they create their own taco concoctions, but at least they’re getting a healthy Cinco dinner no matter how it ends up on the plate.

Happy Cinco de Mayo . . . or any other day that “assembling” seems more appealing than “cooking” to you!