March and April wouldn’t be the same without the Lenten fish fries served up at many area churches, clubs and organizations like the Knights of Columbus.

But if you want fish fry season to extend beyond April or if you want to host one of your own, we’ve put together menu so you can do just that. All recipes are from Susan Selasky, test kitchen director for the Detroit Free Press.

Let’s start with the fish because this is a fish fry, after all. Included are two recipes for cod: one fried, one baked. Cod is a firm, mild-tasting, white-fleshed fish offering a lean, high-quality source of protein.

Beer-Battered Cod is a classic no fish fry should be without. Simple Baked Cod is just that — simple. This is a great recipe for those just learning to cook fish. It can be used with many types of seafood, including sole, halibut, haddock, scallops, salmon, tilapia and flounder.

While appetizers aren’t necessary, they are always a nice addition to a party menu. Shrimp Cheese Bites can be made ahead of time, then frozen and reheated when it’s time to serve.

A staple found on most menus is coleslaw. Again we’re offering two options: Creamy Coleslaw and Sour Cream Cabbage Slaw. Both are classics made with cabbage. But while the Creamy Coleslaw has a milder flavor, the dressing for the Sour Cream Cabbage Slaw gets a huge boost from horseradish, dill and other seasonings.

If you want to make your event “family friendly,” it’s nice to create a special dish just for kids who are convinced they don’t like fish. Macaroni and cheese fits the bill.

Although many of us grew up with quick-fix mac and cheese from a blue box, the homemade variety is by far superior. It’s also simple to put together: Cook some pasta, make a sauce, add a crumb topping and bake. With macaroni and cheese it’s all about the right stuff, including the right blend of cheeses. (Yes, you should use more than one.) To get just the right level of creaminess, start out with a bechamel sauce.

There are plenty of recipes out there, and Selasky says she’s tried lots of them over the years. However, Bon Appetit’s Best Macaroni and Cheese is her favorite.

And finally, we can’t forget dessert. For ease in feeding a crowd, bars are the way to go. Chocolate Cheesecake Bars require mainly pantry ingredients and are simple to put together. Or opt for Gooey Butter Shortbread Bars that are made with a tender shortbread crust and a gooey butter topping for a decadent treat.

Beer-Battered Cod

For the batter:

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg, separated
  • 12 ounces beer
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Oil for deep frying

For the fish:

  • 2 pounds cod fillets, rinsed, patted dry
  • Flour for dredging
  • Salt and pepper or an all-purpose seasoning, optional
  • Tartar sauce, optional

In a large bowl, sift together the flour and salt; make a well in the center. Add the egg yolk and half of the beer; whisk, gradually drawing in the flour to form a smooth paste. Stir in the remaining beer and the oil; do not over mix. Cover and let stand for 15 to 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oil for deep-frying (you’ll need at least 8 cups) to 375 degrees F.

Cut the cod fillets into 4-inch pieces. Beat the egg white until very foamy and fold it into the batter. Place the flour in a pie plate or shallow dish and season with salt, pepper or all-purpose seasoning.

Working in batches, dredge the fish pieces with flour, shaking to remove the excess. Dip a piece into the batter and place in the hot oil, being careful not to burn yourself. Fry about 4 minutes, depending on the thickness of the fish or until golden brown and crisp. Remove and drain well on paper towels; keep warm. Repeat with remaining pieces of fish. Serve with tartar sauce, if desired, and coleslaw.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 431 calories (37 percent from fat), 18 grams fat (1 gram sat. fat), 24 grams carbohydrates, 40 grams protein, 298 mg sodium, 113 mg cholesterol, 1 gram fiber.

Recipe adapted from: “Anne Willian’s Cook it Right”

by Anne Willian (Reader’s Digest, $29.95)

This is a great recipe for those just learning to cook fish. It’s so simple and can be used with many types of seafood, including sole, halibut, haddock, scallops, salmon, tilapia and flounder.

For maximum flavor when serving, drizzle the pan juices that have accumulated during cooking over the baked fish.

Simple Baked Cod

Preparation time: 10 minutes (plus 1 hour marinating time)

Total time: 1 hour 45 minutes (includes marinating time)

  • 3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons snipped fresh dill weed
  • 1-1/4 pounds cod loins or fillets,
  • cut into 4 equal pieces
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1-2 tablespoons snipped fresh parsley

In a small bowl or measuring cup, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, mustard and dill weed. Place cod fillets in an oven-safe, glass baking dish and cover with marinade. Marinate in refrigerator for 1 hour, turning once.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Remove fish from the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for 20 minutes. Place in preheated oven and bake 25 to 35 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Remove from oven and season with salt, pepper and parsley.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 189 calories (38 percent from fat), 8 grams fat (1 grams sat. fat, 0 grams trans fat), 2 grams carbohydrates, 26 grams protein, 239 mg sodium, 62 mg cholesterol, 18 mg calcium, 0 grams fiber. Food exchanges: 4 lean meat.

Recipe from: Darlene Zimmerman,

registered dietitian, for Heart Smart

Shrimp Cheese Bites

  • 1-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) margarine or butter
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2/3 cup cooked shrimp, chopped
  • 2 ounces farmer or goat cheese, crumbled
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup half-and-half
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh basil leaves or 3/4 teaspoon dried

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place flour in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in the margarine or butter, using a pastry blender or 2 knives, until the mixture is crumbly.

Stir in the beaten egg until well-mixed; shape into a ball. Divide into 24 smaller balls. Press 1 ball on the bottom and up the sides of each cup of a ungreased minimuffin pan. Divide the shrimp among the cups and sprinkle with the cheese.

In a small bowl, beat together the egg and egg yolk. Stir in the half-and-half and basil. Spoon about 1 tablespoon of the egg mixture into each cup.

Bake about 20 minutes or until light brown. Remove from oven and immediately remove from the muffin cups to a wire rack. Serve immediately.

To freeze, cool bites completely on wire rack. Place in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze uncovered for at least 2 hours. Place in a labeled airtight freezer container. Freeze no longer than 2 months.

To reheat, bake in a preheated 350-degree oven on an ungreased baking sheet for 18 minutes or until warm.

Makes 24 appetizers.

Nutrition information per serving: 88 calories, 6 grams fat (61 percent fat calories), 41 milligrams cholesterol, 82 milligrams sodium, 5 milligrams carbohydrate, 3 grams protein.

Recipe from: “Betty Crocker’s Do-Ahead Cookbook” (Macmillan)

Creamy Coleslaw

  • 1 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup minced onion
  • 1/2 head green or savoy cabbage, finely shredded (about 8 cups)
  • 1/2 small head red cabbage, shredded (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup minced green pepper
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons celery seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, cider vinegar, sugar and sour cream. Add the onion, green and red cabbages, carrots, green pepper and celery seeds.

Fold gently to mix all ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate 1 to 2 hours before serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Sour Cream Cabbage Slaw

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes

For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cup nonfat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard (preferably Colman’s)
  • For the cabbage:
  • 2 pounds green cabbage, cored and shredded or chopped

In a small bowl, whisk together all the dressing ingredients until smooth.

Cover and chill for 1 to 2 hours to allow the flavors to blend.

Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl, add the dressing and stir until the cabbage is coated. Cover and chill for 1 hour before serving.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information per serving: 77 calories (15% from fat), 1 gram fat (0 grams sat. fat), 14 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams protein, 345 mg sodium, 3 mg cholesterol, 73 mg calcium, 3 grams fiber.

Recipe from: “A Guy’s Guide to Great Eating” by Don Mauer

Best Macaroni and Cheese

Start to finish: 90 minutes

  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
  • 3/4 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1/4 ounce Parmesan, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided, plus more
  • 8 ounces cavatappi or other short curly pasta
  • 2-1/2 cups 2 percent or whole milk
  • 1/2 small onion, grated
  • 1 garlic clove, finely grated
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
  • 1 cup shredded Gruyère
  • 1 cup shredded white cheddar, grated
  • 1/2 teaspoon English mustard powder
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook, stirring, until crumbs are golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes. (Make sure to get them toasty brown; they won’t darken much during baking.) Transfer to a small bowl and toss with Parmesan, thyme leaves and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Meanwhile, cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente. (The noodles will continue to cook in the cheese sauce, so take them out a minute or two before you think they’re actually done.) Drain pasta; let cool while you make the sauce.

Heat milk just to a simmer in a saucepan or microwave; keep warm.

In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter over medium-high. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring, until onions are fragrant and beginning to soften, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle flour over and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to stick to bottom of saucepan, about 1 minute. Add warm milk in a little at a time, whisking to after each addition.

Bring béchamel sauce to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring, until sauce is thickened and doesn’t feel grainy when a little bit is rubbed between your fingers, 6-8 minutes. (Cooking the flour thoroughly at this stage ensures a creamy sauce and no flour taste.) Remove from heat and stir in the cheeses, mustard powder, cayenne and 3/4 teaspoons salt or to taste. Stir until the cheeses are melted and sauce is smooth. Remove from heat and mix in pasta; transfer to a 2-quart buttered baking dish.

Bake 10 minutes. Top with Parmesan breadcrumbs and bake until sauce is bubbling around the edges, 8 to 10 minutes longer. Let cool in pan 15 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 generous servings.

Recipe adapted from:

When making these Chocolate Cheesecake Bars, be sure to plan on the chilling time. They need to chill at least four hours in the refrigerator, but overnight is best.

If you need a lot, cut them smaller or double the recipe. Use a large (10-by-15-inch) sided baking sheet. Bake as directed, but plan on about 10 to 15 minutes more baking time. The center should be just almost set. Be sure to cool thoroughly before refrigerating. To serve, cut bars into desired-size squares.

Chocolate Cheesecake Bars

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Total time: 1 hour

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tablespoons baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg yolk (reserve white for filling)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts or pecans

For the filling:

  • 1 package (8 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons grated orange peel, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 whole egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg white, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Chocolate shavings or sprinkles, optional

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line an 11-by-7-inch pan with foil, allowing foil to overhang on short sides of dish; grease the foil.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking cocoa, baking powder and salt. Cut in butter until mixture resembles fine crumbs. Stir in egg yolk, vanilla and walnuts. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

In a small bowl, beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Beat in sour cream, flour, orange peel and salt. Beat in egg, egg white and vanilla on low speed just until combined. Pour filling over warm crust. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until center is almost set. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 1 hour.

Garnish with chocolate shavings or sprinkles if desired. Refrigerate overnight. To serve, lift out of pan and remove foil. Cut into 1-inch to 2-inch squares.

Makes 25 bars.

Nutrition information per serving (based on 25): 116 calories (64 percent from fat), 8 g fat (4 g sat. fat), 8 g carbohydrates, 3 g protein, 142 mg sodium, 37 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber.

Recipe adapted from:

Gooey Butter Shortbread Bars

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Total time: 2 hours

For the crust:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup European-style butter, softened
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar

For the topping:

  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 tablespoons European-style butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil. Spray foil lightly with no-stick cooking spray. Set aside.

Combine all crust ingredients in bowl; beat at medium speed just until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Press dough evenly into bottom of prepared pan. Bake 15 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes.

Combine corn syrup, water and vanilla in bowl; mix well. Set aside.

Place 6 tablespoons butter, sugar and salt into another bowl; beat at medium speed until well mixed. Add egg; beat until well mixed. Add half of flour alternately with corn syrup mixture, beating well after each addition. Spread topping evenly over shortbread crust. Bake 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

Remove from pan; sprinkle with powdered sugar.

Makes 24 bars.

Recipe adapted from:

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