Parmesan Tilapia and How Not to Make Scalloped Potatoes

You already know we go grocery shopping on Sunday mornings (likely because we are masochists) but what you might not know is that I usually plan my meals for the week about two minutes before it’s time to walk out the door.

One meal is always something I know I want to make – something I’m craving or think will fit in with whatever the week’s schedule will bring. The other meal … well, the other meal usually looks something like this:

Make sure to cook the spuds in a bowl that is big enough. You'll find out why.

Make sure to cook the spuds in a bowl that is big enough. You'll find out why.

A little protein, a few grains and a vegetable. A classic American dinner, though like most of you, we usually go for chicken or a piece of beef. But in an effort to be more health conscious, tonight we are having tilapia – the chicken of the fresh water sea, so named by me. Much like chicken, tilapia is only as good as what you can doctor it with.

And doctor we will!

But first, back up to the potatoes. I don’t know why I decided I wanted scalloped potatoes. In my mind, they are a natural accompaniment to a ham dinner – not fish. When done properly, they are soft and creamy and there’s baked cheese on top! The sad truth, however, is that I’ve never made scalloped potatoes. Not even from the box, which is where I suspect most of the scalloped potatoes I’ve consumed have come from. But hey! How hard can it be?

(Famous kitchen last words)

Turns out, scalloped potatoes are only as good as the recipe. For these, it was … vague. But I’ll walk you through it anyway, because I’m pretty sure I know where it all went wrong.

Scalloped Potatoes for Two

  • 2 small potatoes, peeled and sliced
  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp. butter
  • 2 Tbsp. shredded cheese

Bake at 375 for 35 minutes.

In a saucepan, combine potato slices, milk, garlic, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil. Butter a small oven-safe bowl. Pour potatoes, etc. into the buttered bowl. Top with cheese.

Let me just say that, while this is not a terrible recipe, it is not all that great either. It certainly hits all of the main points – potatoes! milk! garlic! cheese! But it doesn’t really relay the subtleties all that well, either.

I see absolutely no reason to boil the milk, and especially not with the potatoes in the saucepan too! Not to mention that, the way this is written, it’s impossible to see if the milk is boiling because it’s lost in all those potatoes. This is where I made my first mistake by adding more milk, about 1/3 cup more.

Lest your milk overflowth.

Lest your milk overflowth.

That just created a giant mess when the potatoes went in the oven (about 20 minutes in, the milk started overflowing from the dish and down to the bottom of the oven, which made the kitchen smell like smoke instead of garlic). But first, the milk on the bottom of the pan got all weird and kind of lumpy with the garlic. Whoops!

It flowed over minutes after this was taken.

It flowed over minutes after this was taken.

If I had to do it all over again (and I hope I do), I would slice the potatoes, arrange them in a buttered square dish (not a bowl, which is what I used, which does not make sense because more surface area = more cheese) and sprinkle them with the salt and pepper. In a small saucepan, I would heat the milk on medium heat at the most, add the garlic, a little thyme or rosemary and, what the hell, some of that butter and cheese! When the milk is warm, then I would pour it over the potatoes, maybe even layering a bit, like with a lasagna. Finally, I would top the whole thing with more shredded Cheddar cheese.

Also, somehow, someway, we ended up not having enough of any one kind of cheese between two refrigerators, so we used a mixture of Mexican blend, Colby Jack and mozzarella. Scientists are still analyzing how such a thing could have happened.

But whatever, we still ended up eating most of the finished potatoes because they were still pretty good. Be ye not afraid of this sort of lame and overly complicated recipe!

Now, on to the fish! What originally drew me to this recipe is that it comes together in about 15 minutes – perfect for the middle of the week when the last thing you want to do is spend any time cooking. Also, I think we sort of OD’d on salmon and I never, ever, ever get salmon to cook all the way through on the first try.

This recipe appealed to me because it reminded me of Mayonnaise Baked Chicken, which sounds disgusting and is in theory, but it OH SO GOOD in reality.

Once you pull the scalloped potatoes out of the oven, turn on the broiler and take out your fish. Squeeze the juice from 1/2 lemon onto both filets (this essentially keeps the fish from tasting fishy, which makes all the difference in the world). You can sprinkle a little salt and pepper on the fish, or Old Bay seasoning or anything you like really. I’d recommend a little salt and pepper and basil.

SQUEEZE IT!

SQUEEZE IT!

Pop those suckers under the broiler, about two inches from the heat source, and let cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping and cooking for 2-3 minutes more.

In the (admittedly short) meantime, stir together the following (it’s very scientific):

  • 1 Tbsp. butter
  • 2 tsp. Miracle Whip
  • a pinch of dried basil
  • a pinch of black pepper
  • a pinch of onion powder
  • a pinch of garlic salt
It sounds iffy, but it is pretty damn tasty.

It sounds iffy, but it is pretty damn tasty.

Once the fish is done cooking, top with the mayo mixture and put back under the broiler for about one minute more.

This meal was by no means a revelation, but it was filling, warm and kind of nice on a harried weekday night. We served with some steamed broccoli, but just about any vegetable will do. While it might not make the cut into heavy rotation, it was a nice change of pace.

Read the recipes for Parmesan Tilapia and Scalloped Potatoes.

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3 Comments

Filed under Dinner, Disasters

3 responses to “Parmesan Tilapia and How Not to Make Scalloped Potatoes

  1. Boofs

    Sounds scrumptious to me!

  2. Mom

    Stay away from the packaged scalloped potatos, they are terrible.

  3. Liza

    Your scalloped potato adventure was hilarious indeed. No need for all the fuss, just throw the whole shelang into a baking pan and slow cook. Yummmmm

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