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Baked Lemon and Garlic Tilapia

7 Jan

Hey Everyone!  I’m back!  I was shocked when I went back home for Christmas and was asked by nearly everyone I visited what happened to the Red Headed Chef.  I love knowing that there are actually people that read my blog! 🙂   I’m thinking though that one of my New Year’s Resolutions will be to write a few new posts every month.  A 2 month hiatus is just too long!

So today I wanted to share with you a quick and easy recipe for baked tilapia filets.  I figured this is a great recipe to start the new year with because it fits in with a lot of people’s New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight.  These filets are great because they taste good (not too fishy!) and are good for your heart and your waistline!  I can’t stress how simple this is – I could submit it to Rachael Ray for 30 Minute Meals or Claire Robinson for 5 Ingredient Fix… Hopefully that gives you an idea!  And for all you non-fish people out there, you should definitely give it a try.  This recipe did not stink up my house, and and really does not taste overly fishy.  I don’t think I would like it if it did.  It just has a nice, light flavor and will leave you just satisfied, not overly stuffed – which is much needed after the holiday eating spree we went on!!

Lemon and Garlic Tilapia (serves 2)


  • 2 4-oz tilapia filets
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tbsp. butter, melted
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley flakes
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (since I was only making 2 filets I was able to use our toaster oven!).
  • Line a baking pan with parchment paper or spray with cooking spray
  • Place filets in the baking dish.
  • Brush filets with lemon juice and then drizzle butter on top.
  • Sprinkle with garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper.
  • Bake about 15 minutes or until fish is white and flaky.
  • Serve with freshly steamed vegetables, brown rice, and a lemon slice.

Stay tuned because I’ve got some other exciting new recipes coming up like low-fat but still delicious muffins and turkey meatballs!!

Weekend Wrap Up

17 Jul

Since I was so late doing a weekend wrap up last week, I wanted to make sure to get mine done on Sunday this week!  I think I am already starting to slack on this blog when I see two “weekend wrap up” posts in a row.  We had a pretty busy weekend though and ate out almost every meal so there were not any new recipes to share!  I will try and fix that this upcoming week…

This weekend was a really special one for us because our friend Travis and his girlfriend Lauren came from Missouri for a visit.  The fun started on Friday at lunchtime.  I took the afternoon off so that we could hang out, and I was so happy with my decision!  We started with a late lunch and a beer sampler at Brewer’s Alley, a local microbrewery that Karl and I have been wanting to try.  Lunch was really good – we will definitely go there again!  I couldn’t believe it when Travis ordered oysters as his dish, and I was even more surprised when he convinced Karl to try one!  He tried to convince me as well, but I am definitely not adventurous enough.  I think that the texture would really turn me off no matter how they taste!  After lunch we walked around downtown a little bit and stopped at a chocolate shop.  I unfortunately didn’t get any chocolate of my own.  Karl asked if I wanted something, but there was so much to choose from and he ordered so quickly I didn’t have time to choose.  So I had to mooch off of his instead – I’m lucky he likes me enough to share.  This is some kind of peanut butter chocolate sandwich he got.  He really enjoyed it, and I think we will definitely be going back there for more chocolate!

Later in the afternoon Karl and Travis went for a hike, but it was pretty warm outside so I passed on that.  I instead stayed home and baked them some white-chocolate macadamia nut cookies (sorry I forgot to take a photo!), and when they got back around 8:30pm we went back downtown to a Mexican restaurant for dinner.  We took some time to show Travis around downtown and walked along Carroll Creek looking at the bridges.  Apparently though between their hike and his food coma, Karl was too tired to continue walking and proceeded to climb on my back for a piggy back ride.  I think Travis was impressed that I could actually carry a 220 lb man on my back!  We were all pretty tired then so we decided to come back home and head to bed.

Saturday morning we slept until we woke up, had some breakfast (overnight oats – Karl made some for all 3 of us, and I think Travis is now a convert!) and drove to Baltimore.

The Boys

The Domino Sugar factory - I use so much of their sugar I had to take a photo!

We spent some time walking around the Inner Harbor then rode the Charm City Circulator up to the original Washington Monument.  We also stopped for some Slurpees to cool off along the way :-).  Next stop in Baltimore was Obrycki’s for some Maryland crabs.  I will admit that I am not much of a shellfish fan, but I couldn’t say no to these crabs.  It was a lot of fun sitting there with a pile of crabs in the middle of the table and getting dirty while attempting to break them open.  I would definitely recommend going there for some delicious crab if you are ever in the downtown Baltimore area!

Later that afternoon we drove down to a suburb of DC to pick up Lauren from a friend’s house.  We all got on the Metro and rode down to the area around the Catholic University to see her old college roommate who became a nun a couple years ago.  The convent that she lives in was actually having a family gardening day, but by the time we made it down there they were in the process of cleaning up  so we didn’t get to help much.  We did have some time to sit and talk with her about her experience as a nun this far as well as some general Catholic questions.

By the time we left there it was almost 8pm and we were all starving!  Lauren, the only decisive one in the group, was in the mood for Italian food.  I knew we’d be riding right past Maggiano’s (the same restaurant where Karl and I had our wedding reception), and I couldn’t pass it up!

Karl and me at our wedding reception. Copyright Kelly Manno Photography

We all enjoyed our giant bowls of pasta and came home with a lot of leftovers!  (Karl and I had leftovers for lunch and dinner today and will probably have them again for dinner tomorrow!)  When we finally made it home we were all ready to crash.  I would say we probably walked 5-6 miles between our adventures in Baltimore and DC plus the Metro ride and the drive from the Metro made us all so sleepy!

Karl and I got up early this morning to make breakfast for Travis and Lauren before they headed out at 7AM.  They were headed to mass at the Catholic University and then site-seeing in DC.  We were supposed to go with them, but we had too much to do to get ready for the week to go all the way to DC and back this morning.  Karl made some awesome scrambled eggs and bacon and I made a fruit salad and some toast for everyone.  We made sure to get some coffee in them too because we knew they would need some energy for a long day of walking in the heat!  After breakfast we had to say goodbye to them.  We loved getting to see them (I was so excited to meet Lauren!), but we had to make sure we were ready for the work week too.

Our day continue with a morning showing of Harry Potter.  It was so good!  I cried multiple times – I am definitely a sentimental girl!  I love how it all ends, but it is still so bittersweet to me.  I can’t believe that all the books and movies are over now!  The rest of our day was spent doing some grocery shopping and laundry.  I also got to talk to my parents while Karl went to work some overtime.  I wish that I could talk to them more, but with working, working out, cooking, and cleaning and being an hour ahead of them and them being super busy doing the same things it seems like it is almost impossible to find time to talk.  I took advantage and talked to my mom for a good 3 hours tonight :-).  I’ve got lunches made for tomorrow and work clothes clean and ready.  Now it is time to get some sleep so that tomorrow we are ready to work out! We missed some workouts this weekend, but tomorrow we are definitely jumping right back into it.

I hope you have a great week!


Soft Pretzel Bites

8 Jul

Today at work I got my usual “trouble” from my co-workers about not having very many cookies lately.  I know that they just do it all in fun, and I really like that they enjoy what I bring in enough to ask for more.  Then I went into my boss’s office to discuss something with him, and he wanted to make sure that I know that they really are just kidding with me.  He said that when he was a kid he never really was a big sweet fan; even to this day he usually goes for more salty snacks.  This got me thinking about a suggestion that Karl made awhile ago:  come up with something non-sweet to take and share.  His thought is that a little variety can’t hurt!  And then I remembered a soft pretzel I had seen online a few weeks ago.  So I came home on a mission to make my first salty snack!

Let me just warn you up front that this recipe is pretty time intensive.  I tried making pretzels one other time with my friend Natalie, but we didn’t really notice how long they took because we just sat and chatted while the dough rose.  You know what they say – time flies when you’re having fun!  Tonight I was home by myself since Karl is working overtime, and I didn’t get started until about 8:30pm.  It is now 11pm and I just took the last tray out of the oven.  So make sure you can dedicate a small chunk of time to babysitting these puppies!

The original recipe called for a dark amber ale, but I was afraid that a dark beer might be too strong and bitter for my taste.  Instead I opted for a classic pale ale.  The one I chose, Flying Dog Classic Pale Ale, is actually brewed and bottled at a local brewery here in Maryland.  We like to support the little guys!  And I just read on their website that as of July 1 they started giving tours again (they stopped in Dec. 2009, just in time for us to get out here).  We will definitely have to take a tour this summer!  Anyway, the beer does give a little extra flavor to the pretzel, so if that is something you are opposed to you might want to try something a little lighter.  I like it though because it gives the pretzel a little more depth.

Also, the original recipe called for 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 3 cups all-purpose flour, but we have never had whole wheat flour in our house so I used 4 cups all-purpose flour instead.  I would think that you can use whatever ratio of wheat/white flour you prefer!

These little pretzel bites would make a perfect appetizer for your summer get-togethers and would also be a great dish to make when you have people over to watch the big game.  Your kids will love them too because they are just their size!  So, without further ado, here is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy them!

Soft Pretzels


  • 12 oz bottle (1.5 cups) pale ale or other beer of your choice, at room temperature
  • 3 tbsp light brown sugar
  • 1 packet (0.25 oz) rapid-rise active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp milk
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tbsp butter, melted
  • 4-6 quarts water
  • 1/2 cup baking soda

Combine the beer, brown sugar, salt, milk, and yeast in the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place.  Begin mixing on medium-low speed and gradually add in 1 cup of flour and the butter.

Continue adding the flour gradually on medium-low speed until the dough becomes stiff.

Change to the dough hook attachment and let the dough knead for about 8 minutes.  Add more flour if the dough becomes too sticky; it should not stick to the sides of the bowl at all.  It should clean the bowl as it goes around.

Your mixer will definitely get a workout. Mine was bouncing up and down even with the lock on!


Remove the dough and shape into a smooth ball.  Place in a bowl that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Spray the top of the dough with cooking spray and cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap (or if you are out of plastic wrap a kitchen towel or cloth napkin will work  just fine).  Let stand in a warm place for 1 hour or until it has doubled in size.


Remove dough from bowl and knead by hand a few times on a lightly floured surface.  Shape the dough into 48 balls (a small cookie scoop works really well) and place onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Cover loosely with plastic wrap or a towel and let rise again for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425° F.

Bring water and baking soda to a boil in a large pot.

Add the balls to the boiling water a few at a time.  Boil until they have puffed up.  Keep turning them while cooking so they puff on all sides.  Remove them from the boiling water and dry on a clean kitchen towel.

Place balls on lightly greased cookie sheets 1-2″ apart.  Use a small knife to place an “X” on the top of each.  Sprinkle each with a pinch of coarse sea salt.

Bake until they reach a nice golden brown (anywhere between 9 and 15 minutes).

Let cool on a wire rack.

Serve with cheese or spicy mustard dip.


My taste tester just got home and had a sample.  He says that he is definitely a fan – I definitely like hearing that!

4th of July Continued

5 Jul

We had a great day today and are totally exhausted tonight!  First, this morning we went to the gym for a jam-packed session of Body Combat.  The room was so crowded and hot that I had to leave before we got to abs.  Then we ran by the grocery store to pick up a few things we forgot yesterday and came home to eat a quick lunch.  I made myself a big salad and took a peach Chobani on the road with us to DC.

Our plan was to ride the Metro down to the National Archives where we would check out the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  Great plan Margaret and Karl!  That was the same plan that about a million other people had!  We walked around to the entrance where we found a sign that said “Wait from this point is approximately 45 minutes.”  The line that we found was probably 3 times that long.  We decided it was not worth our time to wait today.  We figure we will try and make an appointment sometime in the future because when you do that you get to go in a special door (that has no line)!

So we set off to find something else to do and stumbled upon the Navy Memorial.  Karl’s dad was in the Navy so we decided to check that out instead.  Its a pretty small place but there is lots to learn.

Masts outside of the Metro stop for the Navy Memorial

By the time we were finished there we were starting to get hungry.  We just happened to walk up a street and the first place we came to was a BBQ place called Hill Country.  We were so excited to find a BBQ place!  We are completely BBQ deprived.  We live in a second floor apartment so we have no place for a grill.  And most the BBQ places we have tried around here just are not the same as the kind we are used to at home!  The concept at this place was interesting.  You get a “meal ticket” that has their entire menu on it.  You go to the back where they first have a meat counter and you can order your meat – brisket, chicken, ribs, etc. – by the pound.  Then you move to the sides line where you can get the usual BBQ sides – potato salad, baked beans, mac and cheese, cornbread, etc.  As you move through the line they fill out your “meal ticket” so they know how to charge you as you leave.  We opted for some pork spare ribs, a slice of brisket, a pulled beef sandwich for Karl, and sides of beans, mac and cheese, potato salad, and corn bread.  It ended up being A LOT of food, but we wanted to try a little bit of everything.  I would recommend the pork spare ribs, the baked beans and the cornbread.  I would also recommend bringing your own sauce because theirs a little too sweet.  We could not finish everything, but the leftovers made a great midnight snack when we got back tonight!  Overall I would give this place a B or C.  It was decent, but I don’t think I would go back.  According to Urban Spoon, only 69% of people liked it.

After our lunch/dinner we were hungry for dessert.  I knew that a Sprinkles Cupcakes store had opened in Georgetown, and I was eager to compare their cupcakes to Georgetown Cupcakes’.  So we hopped on the Metro and then walked about a mile down to Sprinkles.  I was amazed that we were able to walk right in and order!  When we have gone to Georgetown Cupcakes in the past we have waited 15-20 minutes in line so this automatically made Sprinkles better!  We got 4 cupcakes (clockwise: lemon blueberry, vanilla, mocha, and banana chocolate).  Conclusion?  Sprinkles Cupcakes are definitely better than Georgetown Cupcakes!!  The cake is much more moist and the icing is better.  I have liked GC’s lemon cupcake in the past, but their cream cheese icing has such a strong bite!  The Sprinkles icing was much more mild and more up my alley.  Also, I thought Karl was crazy when he ordered a chocolate banana cupcake, but I was lucky that he let me have one bite.  Delicious!  Imagine the moistest banana bread you’ve ever eaten then add a rich chocolate frosting to it.  If you are in the Georgetown area and a sweet craving hits you I would definitely head to Sprinkles.  Another plus?  It is about a half mile closer to the Metro stop at GWU.

It was super hot and humid outside, and it was hot inside of Sprinkles too so we walked across the street to Barnes and Noble to sit down with a drink and cool off.  The rest was definitely necessary.  We debated on whether we should stick around for the fireworks since they were still a couple hours away and it looked a little rainy.  Then we reminded ourselves that we were already there so what fun would it be to skip out on the highlight of the holiday?  So we walked the mile back to the metro and rode back down towards the National Mall.  We walked along the National Mall for a long time and finally decided to go into the concert on the steps of the Capitol Building.

view of the Capitol Building from the middle of the National Mall

By the time we got there it was after 8pm and it was completely packed.  We sat and listened for a little while then decided we wanted to be closer to the Washington Monument.

We started heading towards the Monument, and as we walked we got thirstier and thirstier.  At this point it was 9pm and most of the vendors were closed so there was no place to buy a bottle of water nor was there a place to fill up my Camelback bottle I’d been carrying all day.  LUCKILY, we found the last vendor that was open who happened to be selling fresh fruit, including watermelon.  If you can’t find water, watermelon is your next best option for hydrating, right?  Since we were so thirsty it was the best watermelon we ever ate.  The fireworks started earlier than we anticipated – actually while we were buying our watermelon.  So we just stood there in the walkway along the National Mall, halfway between the Capitol and the Washington Monument, eating our watermelon and watching the fireworks.  Doesn’t get more American Summer than that, does it?  And, by the way, DC has a really great fireworks display.  I would definitely recommend checking it out if you ever get the opportunity!

Afterwards we walked/ran (more like ran for me since my husband is 6′-6″ and can take one step for every 3 of mine!) back to our metro stop and squished ourselves like sardines into the train.  We just got back home and had a late night snack of the leftover BBQ and cupcakes.  Not exactly the healthiest thing to eat this late at night, but it was a perfect treat to end our 4th.  Now its off to bed… Can’t believe that we have to go to work tomorrow! 😦

Have a great week everyone!  Oh, and the blueberry banana bread definitely didn’t happen today.  Look for that later this week!

Happy 4th of July!

4 Jul

Happy 4th of July everyone!  I’m starting today out with a yummy red, white, and blue berry (and banana) salad.   Very patriotic, huh?  Later this morning we’re going to head to the gym to work off that Blueberry Buckle we ate yesterday.  Then if the weather holds up I think we will head down to DC and wander around for a bit.  We want to be able to say we spent at least one 4th of July in DC; I’m just a little afraid of how big the fireworks crowd will be tonight!  I think we will be brave and do it though.  Pictures to come tomorrow!  Oh, and I can’t forget to make that blueberry banana bread for the guys at work tomorrow!

What are your 4th of July plans?

Fresh-Picked Blueberries!

3 Jul

Summer is quickly becoming one of my favorite times of year because of all of the fresh fruit that we can go and pick ourselves.  In case you didn’t know, I am a fruit-aholic.  I have a major sweet tooth and generally fruit fits into the sweets category too.  If I could live on just fruit I probably would.  From watermelon to pineapple I like almost everything.  Fresh-picked fruits are my favorite though.  The freshness just makes them a million times better.

We are pretty lucky here in Maryland that we have 3 different orchards within 30 minutes of our house.  It makes it nice because we can go and pick just about anything we want all summer long.  Last year was really our first time picking fresh fruits.  With school and internships we were just too busy during previous summers.  We were excited last year to find a strawberry field less than 10 minutes from our apartment.  We picked close to 20 lbs of  strawberries last summer and froze a bunch of them.

Picking strawberries last summer

Unfortunately we missed strawberry season this year.  It was just too hot for us plus the strawberries we could get at the grocery store were actually really good.

Since we didn’t get to pick blueberries last summer I knew we would not miss them this year.  This was actually my first time ever picking them.   When I was a kid my family went to pick apples every fall and sometimes peaches.   Last year Karl and I picked strawberries, blackberries, and peaches.  This year I want to do them all – blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, peaches, plums, and apples.   And probably some tomatoes too.

I was pleasantly surprised that the blueberry plants were almost as tall as me!  I was expecting it to be like picking strawberries where you spend the whole afternoon bent over and your lower back hurts for the next two days.  I think we are right at the beginning of blueberry season out here and there were still tons of green berries out there. We still picked 1.5 pounds and only spent $3.65 (a lot better than $3 a pint!), and we’ll probably go back to get more blueberries and some raspberries next weekend.  Now I just have to figure out what to make with these beauties…  I know for sure a blueberry banana bread with my favorite struesel topping will be made tomorrow to take to work on Tuesday.  Some of my co-workers have been asking about banana bread, and I aim to please.  I think a blueberry buckle might be in the future for Karl and me.  Just have to get the recipe from my mom.

But before I get to work on that I’m going to help myself to this delicious salad I just made.  Hope you are enjoying your three day weekend!

Do you and your family have any orchard traditions?

Welcome to my blog!

21 Jun

Hi!  I’m Margaret.  I’m 24 years old, a newlywed, and a recent college graduate.  After 5 years of engineering school and cramming, all nighters, late night snacks, and dorm food, I am ready for some REAL food.  Since I graduated from college I have been spending lots of time in the kitchen cooking dinners and baking sweets for my love.  I love trying new recipes and sometimes new foods, and I’m lucky to have an awesome new husband who tries whatever I put in front of him and gives me an honest critique.  I’m also lucky to work with a bunch of guys  who love my baking and are always asking for more which gives me lots of opportunities to try new things.  Hopefully through this blog I can share some of my favorite new recipes with you!

My husband, Karl, and I are both interested in living a healthier lifestyle and always making positive choices.  We do not by any means live at the gym, but working out is something we always try to do more of.  One of my biggest goals is to become a runner and someday run a half marathon.  I am hoping that this blog will also help me keep track of my milestones.

On top of all of this, Karl and I are starting our married life in a completely new city on the east coast, 14 hours away from our hometown of St. Louis.  We really want to see as much of the city and the whole east coast while we’re out here so I’m sure that I’ll be sharing that with you as well.  As pretty much everyone knows, balancing work and life can always be a challenge, but I’m excited to find out what the future has in store and to share my new adventures with you!