Quick & healthy weeknight meal: Mama Steph’s black bean soup & oven baked fish sticks

I am trying to become one of those responsible adults who make certain to eat two servings of fish a week to get the health benefits of the Omega-3 fatty acids that fish contain. 


St. Joe Beach, Florida…my childhood home

Now, I grew up in the beautiful Northwest Florida area, and the types of fish I grew up with were mullet, red snapper, and, my absolute favorite, grouper.  They were typically served fried, at least in my mom’s kitchen, and it was gloriously delicious. Now, though, I’m in land-locked East Texas, and these species of fish aren’t commonplace in our stores. 

I looked in my grocery store’s freezer and saw tilapia, cod, catfish, and salmon. I have never tried cod in my own kitchen, so thought I’d get that and see what I could do.  Also, cod is not expensive, so this is a budget-friendly protein. I believe the one pound bag of individually wrapped boneless filets was under $5. It served two of my teenaged sons and me with a good-sized serving.


Happy guys fishing for cod. (Source: fishbox.tv)


I found a quick recipe at Whole Foods’ website; they have a lot of great recipes archived there. Here’s the link.

This is the recipe, which I followed exactly except that I only made one pound of fish and only used one cup of Panko bread crumbs, but that was plenty. I also omitted the butter, as I thought it was unnecessary.

By the way, the Panko bread crumbs are the best choice, as opposed to regular bread crumbs, as they are noticeably lighter and much more crisp, giving you a light, crispy (imagine that) crust as opposed to a heavier, oily crust.

Panko-crusted Fish Sticks


1 egg
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste 
2 cups panko breadcrumbs 
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese 
1 1/2 pounds frozen cod fillets, thawed
3 tablespoons flour 
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter (optional) 
Tartar sauce, for serving


Put an oven rack near the top of the oven. Preheat oven to 450°F, with a baking sheet inside. 

In a bowl, use a fork to beat the egg together with the mayonnaise and season with salt and pepper.

Mix breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan in a shallow dish or plate and season it with salt and pepper too.

Cut cod fillets into 1-inch-thick by 4-inch-long pieces. Pat off extra moisture with paper towels, and toss cod pieces in bowl containing the  flour. 

With one hand, dip a piece of cod into the egg mixture and put it on the breadcrumbs. With the other hand, coat each piece with breadcrumbs. Stack breaded cod pieces on a plate, repeating until all the cod is breaded. 

Remove the hot baking sheet from the oven, pour on the olive oil, and melt the butter, if using. Arrange the cod pieces in a single layer. Bake until just cooked through, flipping halfway through, about 4 minutes per side for thick pieces, 2 to 3 minutes for thinner ones. Serve with tartar sauce or favorite dipping sauce (or ketchup, as I dipped my frozen fish sticks mom would bake for my sister and me when I was a little girl). 

While the fish was baking, I made a pot of quick black bean soup. This could not be any faster to make, honestly. It’s also budget-friendly, and is a delicious, high-protein side that went well with our fish sticks. If you prefer not to use canned beans, you can certainly  use dried beans, it will just take a lot longer.


A quick iPhone picture right before handing this bowl off to Jared.


Mama Steph’s Quick Black Bean Soup

2 – 15 ounce cans black beans

1 TBS Smart Balance butter blend (optional)

1 1/2 cups chicken broth or water

3 cloves of garlic, minced (or three teaspoons jarred minced garlic)

1 TBS ground cumin

salt and pepper, to taste

Hot sauce or chopped , sauteed or pickled jalapenos, if you’d like some heat – optional.


Drain and thoroughly rinse the two cans of beans in a colander. 

Melt the butter in a 2 quart sauce pan; then add the beans.

Add the broth or water, garlic and cumin.

Using a potato masher (or whatever device you might have on hand that will smash things), mash roughly one-half to one-third of the beans in the pot. Stir well, and then allow the soup to come to a boil. 

Stir continually so that the beans don’t scorch; after it boils for about two minutes, lower to a light simmer. Taste and add salt and pepper (and hot sauce or chopped, sauteed jalapenos, if using) to your liking. Serve immediately.

This soup approximates the black bean soup at Panera Bread. It costs about $3 for the whole pot, and that served all three of us tonight with a little left over for my lunch. (at Panera, a bit more expensive, right?)

I love it! We top it with a teaspoon of light sour cream and a sprinkling of shredded cheese. 

The fish sticks and the black bean soup are both so quick and easy to make, and both are full of healthy protein and heart-healthy fat. My boys loved it, and I think yours will, too. 

Please let me know if you try it, especially if you have finicky, hesitant fish-eaters who you can get to try these. I’d love their review.  



I’m looking for more quick recipes for weeknight dinners. Do you have any to share? If you do, please email them to me at MamaSteph@kltv.com. If I share them here, I’ll certainly give you full credit! 

Thanks, friends!


5 thoughts on “Quick & healthy weeknight meal: Mama Steph’s black bean soup & oven baked fish sticks

    1. Hi Brooke! I’m really happy you enjoyed it. 🙂 It’s so easy to adapt to your own tastes, too; you could add cilantro, or maybe some red bell pepper, etc. Anything you like!

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