Rush Hour

My electric griddle becomes a really handy tool when I start finding my weekdays becoming more rushed. As the entertaining season begins, we all need to be able to balance our normal schedules with the decorating, planning, shopping, cooking and entertaining that inevitably find their way into our lives this time of the year. This month's menu is being presented to help you out with that very balancing act.

As doctors continue to stress the importance of including fish in our diets at least twice a week, grocery stores all over are helping us out by making a wide variety of high quality fresh and frozen seafood available to us all. Catfish fillets are widely available and one of the less expensive fish fillets at most markets. This month's catfish recipe takes good quality fillets and coats them with a spicy crust that takes on a crispy texture when cooked on an electric griddle. If you don't have oat flour on hand, don't worry. Just pulse a half a cup of oatmeal at high speed in your food processor or blender. The result will be a little coarse, but it will certainly do the trick.

We continue our menu suggestion with some fun zucchini hash browns. This recipe adds the juicy sweetness of zucchini to the traditional texture of potato hash browns. A little shredded cheese helps hold them together and adds a nice flavor. Both recipes can be made simultaneously, so you can have dinner on the table in about 20 minutes. Add a green salad and some iced tea or apple cider and you've got dinner tackled. Now, if only getting ready for holiday entertaining were so easy. But ... that's another subject altogether!

Spicy Catfish

  • 2 large catfish fillets
  • 1/2 c. cornmeal
  • 1/2 c. oat flour
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • Cooking spray

Thaw the catfish fillets if necessary. Set aside.

Combine the cornmeal, oat flour, chili powder, black pepper and salt in a large resealable plastic bag. Add the fish fillets and toss well to coat.

Spray an electric griddle with cooking spray. Heat to 380 degrees. Add the fish and fry for 10-15 minutes -- turning once -- until crispy on the outside and firm and flaky on the inside. Serve with zucchini hash browns and a green salad.

  • Yields: 2-3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes

Zucchini Hash Browns

  • 1/4 c. fine bread crumbs
  • 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 c. coarsely shredded zucchini
  • 1/2 c. finely diced onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • Cooking spray

In a medium bowl, combine the bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix the contents until they are well blended.

In a large bowl, toss the zucchini, onion and garlic with the bread crumb mixture. Mix until everything is well blended.

Spray an electric griddle with cooking spray. Heat to 380 degrees. Form three patties with the zucchini mixture and cook 10-15 minutes -- turning once -- until crispy on the outside. In addition to being fantastic with spicy catfish, these fritter-like patties are also a nice addition to grilled pork chops.

  • Yields: 3 servings
  • Preparation Time: 20 minutes