Seared Sea Scallops
I adore sea scallops and order them frequently when dining out. I must have assumed it was an art form to get them cooked perfectly, because I’ve never wanted to try making them at home. But a seven-year-old asking for more seafood will make you do crazy things, so I asked my daughter Samantha if she wanted to try scallops. As it turns out, they are easier to cook than I thought. Initially I couldn’t find a recipe for basic seared scallops (other than just cooking them in a little butter, of course), when low and behold I picked up the package of Archer Farms Sea Scallops at Target and saw the perfect Samantha-friendly recipe on the back of the bag. She loved them. I cut the amount of butter, salt, and sugar in half, so here is my version.
Seared Sea Scallops
1 lb wild-caught sea scallops (about 20)
2 tbsp butter
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
Drain scallops and dry on paper towels (they need to be dry to get a good sear). Mix salt and sugar in a small bowl, then sprinkle half of mixture over scallops. Melt 1 tbsp butter over medium high heat in a large skillet (I used a cast-iron pan). Place scallops in skillet, seasoned side down, and cook 3 minutes. Flip scallops and sprinkle with remaining salt/sugar mixture, cooking another 3 minutes, until browned on both sides.
Remove scallops to a plate and keep warm. Add wine to the hot pan and scrape up browned bits to create a syrup. Turn off the heat and add remaining butter and parsley, then pour over scallops.
Spicy Shrimp & Feta Pizza
I’ve been playing with the new pizza stone I got for my birthday — pizza on the grill is amazing and makes for such an easy dinner. My daughter Samantha actually made the request for a shrimp pizza (yes, I was thrilled), so we decided on shrimp, feta, and grilled yellow bell peppers (for my half). I’ve previously written about all the delicious ingredients I’ve picked up at Oil & Vinegar at Watters Creek, and this was the perfect opportunity to put my two latest purchases to use: Peperoncini Oil, and the “Hot Shot” spice grinder. The Peperoncini Oil is light and flavorful with just a bit of spice. The Hot Shot spice grinder contains all kinds of wonderful things: chili pepper flakes, sea salt, mustard seed, coriander, onion, garlic, and paprika, to name a few.
We brushed the pizza crust with the oil, then topped with a bit of tomato sauce. Next we added cooked shrimp, grilled bell peppers, a little shredded cheese (a 4-cheese blend), and lots of feta cheese. Finished it off with a generous amount of the Hot Shot spices (only on my half!). Delicious.
Peperoncini Oil & Hot Shot
Rice Krispie M&M Eggs
This recipe for “Hidden Surprise Easter Egg Treats” was too hard to resist. You use the ingredients for Rice Krispie Squares, but instead mold the ingredients into plastic egg halves and fill with M&M’s. My girls had a ton of fun making them — there is nothing quite like using melted marshmallows as glue, and getting to snack on M&M’s throughout the process. While these aren’t going to win any healthy food competitions, they are pretty light as far as dessert goes, and we opted for the whole grain “brown” Rice Krispies. Most importantly, they got a good lesson in improvisation: we were making six eggs (and there would be six people at our dinner table), but the eggs must have been a little two large, as we ran out of “egg” near the end and had to make one “nest”. My mother was gracious enough to request that one.
Rice Krispie and M&M Eggs (Adapted from Kellogg’s “Hidden Surprise Easter Egg Treats”):
6 Plastic snap-apart 3×2-inch Easter eggs
1 1/2 tbsp butter
2 cups mini marshmallows
3 cups whole grain Rice Krispies
1/4 to 1/2 cup M&M’s (we used white chocolate and dark chocolate)
Clean, then coat the inside of plastic eggs with cooking spray. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat. Add Rice Krispies and stir until well coated.
Using greased hands, firmly press 1/4 cup of the cereal mixture into each plastic egg half. Use fingers to make hollow center in each half. Remove from molds. Place on wax paper and cool slightly. Place about 6 M&M’s in one half of each egg. Gently press two halves of each egg together until they stick. Cool completely.
Red Lentil Pancakes
I like how virtuous and healthy I feel when purchasing something like lentils. Until now, every package of lentils I have bought has sat in my pantry until I threw it away — not healthy and certainly not virtuous! I came across this really simple recipe for red lentil pancakes from Wendy Van Wagner and finally decided to give dried lentils a try. You soak the lentils overnight and then buzz them in the food processor with a few other ingredients before pan-frying. They were really tasty with the turmeric and cilantro, but a bit dry, so take her advice to use them for dunking — I served mine with plain greek yogurt and a big salad…perfect.
Red Lentil Pancakes (Adapted from Wendy Van Wagner):
1 cup red lentils
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/2 tsp ground pepper
2 tbsp fresh chopped cilantro, or to taste (I used twice this amount)
2 tbsp coconut oil for frying
Rinse the lentils well and place in a large bowl. Cover with 2 cups warm water and soak for least 8 hours, or overnight.
Drain the water and place lentils in food processor. Blend until smooth, adding 1 tbsp of water at a time to make a smooth batter (I used 3 tbsp in total). Blend the salt, turmeric, pepper, and cilantro into the batter.
Heat a large frying pan over medium heat, and add 1 tbsp oil. Drop spoonfuls of batter to make 4 pancakes, about 3-4 inches wide and 1 inch thick. Cook about 2 minutes, until set. Drizzle a little oil over the top and sides before flipping (I struggled with this and just sprayed a bit of olive oil spray before flipping) and cook another minute or 2 or the other side. Repeat with 2nd batch of pancakes, adding more oil as needed.
Serve warm with a big helping of greek yogurt, sour cream, guacamole, applesauce, chutney, or creme fraiche. Makes about 8 pancakes.