Quick & Easy Snacking – American Idol Top 11 Pt.2

Last week on American Idol we had one last look at the top 11 before two Idol hopefuls were sent home. Thankfully, last weeks dramatic results show, coupled with Casey Abrams spot on performance of the Elton John classic, Your Song, kept him safe and in it for another week.

Unfortunately, for Naima Adedapo and Thia Megia, they sang their last tunes on the Idol stage Tuesday night. Even though I will miss Naima’s vibrance onstage I wasn’t too surprised by her elimination, and Thia, the girl’s got talent, but I definitely agree with American on that vote (or lack thereof).

With all of the excitement and double elimination I found it necessary to put a little more oomph into my food this week. In honor of Sir Elton John’s British roots I decided to give my spin on some classic English fare.

So check out my take on Fish and Chips and Meat Pies. What would you like to see me cook for next week’s “Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame” themed episodes?

Happy Eating!

Herb-Crusted Tilapia with Lemon-Herb Aioli & Sweet Potato Fries

Serves 4 appetizer portions


  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp parsley
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • pinch of kosher salt
  • 3/4 pd tilapia, sliced into 4-inch long, 1/2-inch think pieces
  • olive oil
  • cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

1. In a shallow dish mix together the panko bread crumbs and next 5 ingredients, through the kosher salt. Brush the fish with the olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the tilapia in the panko mixture until thoroughly coated. Place on a wire rack atop a broiler pan lightly coated with cooking spray.

2. Bake for 10 minutes then turn. Cook for 5-10 more minutes, or until the fish is flaky when poked with a fork. Serve alongside the lemon-herb aioli.

Lemon-Herb Aioli

  • 1/2 cup light mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/8 tsp ground red pepper
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • kosher salt and pepper

1. Mix all of the above ingredients in a medium-size bowl or food processor. Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend until smooth. Chill in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potato Fries

  • 1 large sweet potato (around 1 pd), peeled and chopped into 3-4-inch long, 1/2 to 3/4-inch pieces
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp paprika
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

1. Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside. Mix the potatoes with all of the ingredients in a large bowl until thoroughly coated.

2. Spread onto the baking sheet in an even layer and bake on the lower rack for 15 minutes, or until soft. Give the potatoes a turn. Move to the upper rack and cook an additional 5-10 minutes until crispy.

Keep an eye on the fries, baking times can change with each individual oven.

Meat Pies in Puff Pastry

Yields 8 meat pies


  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1/2 cup celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, divided
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp thyme, finely chopped
  • 4 oz baby portobellos, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 lb lean ground sirloin
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 3/4 cup frozen peas
  • 2 cups mashed potatoes (recipe below)
  • 2 sheets puff pastry, thawed
  • 1 egg and water for eggwash
  • parmesan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

1. Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large Dutch oven. Add the carrots and next 6 ingredients, through the thyme, and saute until veggies are tender, around 6 minutes. Add the mushrooms and saute until tender and liquid has evaporated, around 3 minutes. Then add the garlic and saute until fragrant, around 30 seconds.

2. Add the sirloin, breaking up with a wooden spatula, and brown until meat is no longer pink. Pour in the wine, reduce heat, and simmer until liquid is almost completely evaporated. Pour in the beef broth and simmer until liquid is almost completely evaporated. Add the remaining 1/4 tsp of salt. Stir in the peas and saute for 2-3 minutes. Taste the mixture and adjust seasoning accordingly. Turn off the heat and stir in the potatoes. Set aside.

3. On a clean and lightly floured surface, starting with one sheet of pastry at a time, roll the pastry using a rolling pin until smooth. Using a pizza-cutter or knife, slice the pastry into 4 even squares. Divide the beef mixture in half for each sheet of puff pastry, then divide the mixture into quarters. Fill the center of the pastry with the mixture and lightly brush the edges with the egg wash. Fold over the edges to make large triangles and seal with your fingers.

4. Place each pie on a large cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Brush the top of each pie with the egg wash and sprinkle with the Parmesan. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden-brown.

Mashed Potatoes

  • 1 lb Yukon gold potatoes, peeled
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/8 cup heavy cream

1. Peel the potatoes and dice into small, even pieces. Place in a large sauce pot and cover with water. Boil until tender then drain.

2. Pour the potatoes back into the pot and cook until water is evaporated (1-2 minutes). Mix the remaining ingredients together in the pot and mash until desired consistency.

Since it was Elton John week and Miss Haley Reinhart had her best performance yet of the classic hit, it was only fitting to post the one and only, Bennie and the Jets!

Bennie and the Jets – Elton John

American Idol image courtesy of MSNBC.com.

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