Seared Scallops w/ Warm Tuscan Beans

I have literally been sitting here every day this week staring at this recipe trying to think of something creative to talk about.  There’s just  nothing up there.  I blame insurance.

For those of you who don’t know yet- I started a new career this summer.  I am now an insurance agent!  It’s going really well so far- I am so much happier than I used to be at my old job, I’m making money, helping people, on my own schedule working from home… it’s all good.  Except I’m losing my mind… well at least my creativity.

the cutest health insurance image out there

the cutest health insurance image out there

Don’t worry, I’m still eating and cooking up lots of good food.  I just don’t have the time or creativity to sit down and write about it for you!  BOO!  So anyway, forgive me.  Now take a minute to read about this really fabulous recipe that deserves a more interesting blog post than me telling you about my job.  It really does deserve more.  Sorry bout that scallops!

Seared Scallops w/ Warm Tuscan Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil, divided
  • 3/4 lb Sea Scallops
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 cup Onion, chopped
  • 1/8 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup Dry White Wine
  • 1 cup Chicken Broth- fat free/low sodium
  • 1  can Cannellini Beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (6oz) package Baby Spinach
  • 2 tablespoons Fresh Basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon  of olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Rinse scallops and pat dry with a paper towel.  Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt. Add scallops to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until done.  Remove scallops from pan placing on a plate and cover with foil to keep warm.
  2. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil and onion to pan; sauté 2 minutes. Add pepper and garlic; cook 20 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in wine; cook 1 minute or until most of liquid evaporates. Stir in broth and beans; cook 2 minutes. Add spinach; cook 1 minute or until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; stir in basil.
  3. The original recipe suggests dipping grilled garlic bread into the brothy beans.  (I garlic-ified leftover hamburger buns for us!)  Here is their recipe:  Heat a grill pan over medium heat. Brush 1 tablespoon olive oil evenly over 4 (1-ounce) slices French bread. Add bread to pan; cook 2 minutes on each side or until lightly browned. Rub one side of each bread slice with cut sides of a halved garlic clove.

Recipe slightly adapted from:  Cooking Light

Pat the scallops dry then season with sea salt

Pat the scallops dry then season with sea salt

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil.  Don't touch them until you are ready to flip.  You'll get a nice crust like these have.

Sear the scallops in a hot pan with just a little bit of olive oil. Don’t touch them until you are ready to flip. You’ll get a nice crust like these have.

Beans, spinach... nice and brothy... yum!

Beans, spinach… nice and brothy… yum!

The finished product.  Don't forget some crusty garlic bread to dip!

The finished product. Don’t forget some crusty garlic bread to dip!

Scallops are such a treat for me- I absolutely love them.  This recipe was different from how I normally cook my scallops and both Dave and I really enjoyed the change.

Now- who needs health or life insurance?!  Maybe some extra business will help with my creativity 😉

Check out some of these other seafood recipes…

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Crabcake Mac & Cheese

Clams w/ Israeli Couscous

Clams w/ Israeli Couscous

Seared Scallops & Shrimp w/ Creamy Linguine

Seared Scallops & Shrimp w/ Creamy Linguine

 

 

Brick American Eatery, Philadelphia

I know I’ve been MIA for what seems like forever now.  Sorry I’m not sorry!  I’ve been super busy this summer doing some life-changing things.  And I’m not talking about trying some new mind-blowing mac and cheese or the newest dessert fad.  I’m talking actual life changing.

Over the past two months, I have been busy getting myself started with a new career!  I studied my tush off and got my license to sell insurance.  I am working for a company who sells health/life/supps to individuals.  So, hopefully I’ll be helping people and making money finally!  It was a lot of hard work learning something totally new, but I am very excited to start this new chapter in my life.

Not only did I change careers over the past two months, but Dave and I just got back last week from our adventure in Ecuador!  We saw and did so many amazing things.  We went hiking in the Andes, explored Quito the capital, went rafting in Banos, and saw some pretty outrageous creatures in the Amazon Jungle.  I can’t wait to have a good chunk of time available to sit down and write about it for you… we also were able to bring my brand spankin’ new camera and took so many beautiful pictures.

You’ll just have to wait on that because today I want to tell you about our last date night in Philly, which just happened to be the night we were celebrating my passing the licensing exam.

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Dave and I have been itching to try Brick American Eatery in Philly for some time now… after hearing rave reviews from a friend and seeing the same of their Yelp page, we decided to buy a local groupon deal for here.  The funny thing is, we were all ready to go earlier in the summer, walked there in the rain, and had to turn around and go back when we got there- the restaurant had lost power in the storm!  I’m glad we went when we did because it was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday, my passing the exam, and my first time using my new camera.  🙂

Our deal allowed for us to get two small plates/apps, two entrees, and two drinks.

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What was perfect about going on this night was the beautiful weather that allowed us to sit outside:  not too hot, not too windy, not too humid… it was just right.  We started off with two fabulous drinks- I ordered the Peach Palmer (Iced Tea Vodka with Lemonade and muddled Peaches) and Dave went with the Brick Manhattan (Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Carpano Antica Formula, Whiskey Soaked Cherry).

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For our first course, we were just dying to try the special- Smoked Salmon Spring Rolls.  They were so different and absolutely yummy.  Crunchy and warm with a creamy sauce, we devoured these spring rolls right away.  We also ordered the Prosciutto and Goat Cheese Flat Bread which had a thin crispy crust and was topped with peppery Arugula and warm Roasted Tomatoes.  Y-U-M!

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It was so hard to decide on the  main courses since they all sounded so good.  First, we chose the Sea Scallops (Beets, white beans, sun-dried tomato & rosemary cream).  We also were talked into (it didn’t take much I have to add) trying the Lamb Burger, as this Brick specialty was in the running for Philly’s Best Burger.  I obviously had to try it.

The Scallops were excellent.  I would also have to agree that the Lamb Burger should be on the list as one of the best burgers in Philly.  The juicy, flavorful Lamb Burger is topped with Spicy Onion Jam, Manchego Cheese, Worcestershire, and Mayo.

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Looking at these picture is making me hungry right now…

Well, my friends, it is nice to be back!  Thanks for sticking by despite my neglecting you for the last month.  🙂

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Loving this new camera too!

Seared Scallops & Shrimp over Creamy Linguine

There was no way I was going to be at the JFX Farmers Market in Baltimore and not purchase slab bacon.  Our friend Donny has cooked it up for us before and I was blown away.  I knew that if I came home without it, my Bacon-Obsessed Dad would be very disappointed.  He and I made plans to cook up the bacon and make dinner together, something we rarely do.  After days of contemplating our menu, here’s what we came up with:

Seared Scallops & Shrimp Over Creamy Linguine

a Recipe by:  It’s Good to be the Cook (and the Cook’s Dad!)
Serves:  5
Ingredients:
  • 1 box Whole Wheat Linguine
  • Scallops (3-4 per person), rinsed and patted dry
  • Shrimp (3-4 per person we bought raw but devained), rinsed and patted dry
  • 1 cup Slab Bacon, cut into small pieces (use 4 pieces of regular bacon if you don’t have slab)
  • 1/2 Onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 ½ cups frozen peas
  • 1 cup Light Cream
  • 1 cup Parmesan Cheese, grated fine
  • Sunflower Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Minced Garlic
  • 2 Green Onions, chopped
  • Salt, Pepper, Cayenne Pepper, Dried Parsley
Directions:
1.  Cook the pasta according to directions on the box, using olive oil and salt.  When it’s finished, drain, saving some of the pasta water, and set aside.
2.  Cook the bacon on low heat in cast iron skillet until crisped through.  Set aside on paper towels to drain.  Keep the bacon fat in the pan.
3.  Cook the onions in the bacon grease.  Set aside.
4.  Lightly salt and pepper the scallops and shrimp, making sure they are patted dry first.
5.  Add enough sunflower oil to the cast iron skillet to just cover the bottom.  Turn to high heat.  Once the oil is hot (you can test by adding just a drop of water into the pan) add the scallops.  The key here is DO NOT MOVE the scallops!  Let them cook and do not touch them until about 5-6 minutes in.  Flip the scallops and do not move them again!  This is how you’ll get that nice brown crust you’re looking for.  Add the shrimp during the last few minutes of cooking the scallops.  They should only take 2 or 3 minutes.  The scallops should take 8-10 depending on the size (ours were huge!)
6.  When the seafood is done, remove them from the oil and drain them on papertowels.  Now, you can make the sauce for the pasta.  In the same pot you cooked the pasta, add the light cream, parmesan cheese, peas, garlic, cooked onion, and green onion.  Bring to a simmer.  Mix it around until the cheese is melted and the sauce starts to thicken.  Add the pasta (I cooked a whole box but did NOT use the entire thing), just a shake of salt, pepper, dried parsley, and cayenne pepper if you wish.  I used a touch of the saved pasta water to make the sauce go a little bit further.  Stir in the bacon.
7.  Serve the pasta with the seafood ontop.  

As most of you know, I don’t normally make many dinners that are as decadent as this one!  What a treat!  My Dad and I spent all evening in the kitchen, and it paid off.  Everyone enjoyed their meal, everything turned out perfect, and most important, we had a lot of fun together!

Mama’s On The Half Shell…

… turtle power!  I just can’t help but sing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles song in my head when I hear of Mama’s.  Mama’s On The Half Shell is an excellent seafood restaurant in the Canton area of Baltimore.  This was the second time I’ve been to Mama’s and I had quiet a different experience this time!

After my first dining experience at Mama’s, I was immediately hooked, considering it to be one of the best seafood places I’ve ever been to.  I couldn’t wait to go back (which is exactly why Donny took us there this weekend!).  I was right about one thing- the food is unbelievable.  The seafood is fresh, the menu is huge, and there is even OLDBAY on the table.

The brunch started out fantastic, finding out we only had a half hour wait we settled in at the bar and ordered some creatively garnished Bloody Marys and their signature Grapefruit Crush drink- with FRESH grapefruit juice.  After about 40 minutes, we were seated and were all excited about our choice to split a bunch of things and order a whole lot of food.  YUM!  We were so caught up in chatting that about 30-40 more minutes passed before we were even served our soup (which I was too hungry to remember to take a picture of).  We were told the kitchen lost our order and had to re-order.  The soup came out immediately but the rest of our meal took maybe another 30-40 minutes.  WTF!  This is not my idea of a “rush” order.  Our waitress avoided us for the rest of the time we were there.  We even had to ask to speak to the manager two times.  Although the food was outstanding, it was VERY hard to ignore the way we were treated and the fact that we had been there from 10:50am-1pm.  Not cool.

Now that I’m done ranting, you can drool over the FABULOUS food we eventually got to eat.  Donny even convinced Dave and I to try raw Oysters, which we both liked!

3 types of Raw Oysters

The best crabcake... ever

Sauteed Scallops over a Potato Pancake and Creamed Spinach... so creative and so tasty

Crispy Fried Oysters

Seafood Feast

Last week, I had to use up another Groupon before it expired.  I had $50 to spend at Hills Seafood.  I was really excited when I got this one (I paid $25) because $50 of seafood is a lot more than I normally get to spend!

By the request of Dave, the first thing I picked out was a bag of 50 Littleneck Clams.  In the case right next to the clams were these beautiful giant Dry Packed Sea Scallops.  They were just calling out my name, so I had to buy a pound of those too.  I grabbed a container of their Lobster Bisque, and ordered a quarter of a pound of their Hungarian Salmon Salad.  I had to get a few Large Cooked Shrimp too, because I love eating them in Cocktail Sauce while I cook.

There is one thing you should know about my selection… I had no idea what I was doing!  I have never steamed my own clams before, and more importantly, I have never cooked my own scallops before!  I decided to do a quick search of a recipe for my scallops and based mine off of one I found online called “Thai Scallops”.

Scallops getting the marinade treatment! Look how big they were!

Clams ready to be soaked and cleaned

But, first things first, I got my clams soaking in some water with cornstarch to clean them out.  I let them soak for a half hour while I prepared the marinade for the scallops.  The large scallops went into a freezer bag with the first five ingredients (Low Sodium Soy, Lime Juice, Sesame Oil, Sugar, & Sriracha).  I also snuck some Red Pepper Flakes in there.  After sealing the bag, I placed it in the refrigerator for about a half hour.

The beginnings of a delicious steaming broth for the clams

Next, I washed off each clam and rinsed them until there was no more cornstarch residue.  Any clams you find that are crushed or already open, toss out.  I grabbed a big pot and prepared a broth to steam the clams.  First, I melted about 3 tablespoons of butter in the pot.  Next, I put in a chopped onion and sautéed until it was soft and translucent.  In went my spices- Red Pepper flakes, a Bay Leaf, some dried Parsley, and a teaspoon of Minced Garlic.  After about a minute, I filled the pot up with water until it just reached the bottom of the steamer.  While I was waiting for the broth to boil, I put the Lobster Bisque in another pot on the stove and started to prepare the sauce for the scallops.

First, I removed the scallops from the marinade and poured the marinade into a bowl.   I then added the cornstarch stirring with a whisk and added about ½ cup of water.  Next, the watery sauce went into a saucepan over medium-high heat.  With the whisk, I stirred the sauce constantly and once it was brought to a boil, I turned the temp down to medium-low and simmered for about a minute or two until it became thicker.  You will definitely be able to tell when it’s ready!

While the sauce was coming to a boil, I cooked the scallops.  I heated the olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat.  I placed the scallops carefully in the hot oil.  Since my scallops were pretty thick, I cooked them for about 4-5 minutes then flipped them and cooked them for another 5 minutes or so.  I was very careful because I didn’t want them to become chewy and tough- something that happens when you overcook scallops!

As if I wasn’t already doing enough, while cooking the scallops and making the sauce, I steamed the clams!  It was so easy.  Once the broth came to a boil, I put all 50 clams onto the steamer and shut the lid.  I let them be for about 7 minutes.  When I checked on them, most of them were open so I let them steam for another minute… then they were done!

With a lot of plating to do at the same time (yessssssssssss!  Success!), Dave and my Dad helped by slicing some French Bread and melting butter for the clams.  I poured the hot “Thai” Sauce over the scallops and topped each with a sprinkle of Sesame Seeds and some Cilantro.  We strained the broth the clams steamed in and put it into a bowl to dip the bread in.  Dinner time!

My first steamed clams

Asian Scallops with some fresh Cilantro

... look how gorgeous! They were even served on a "scalloped" dish! hehe

The scallops were cooked perfectly, I was so impressed with myself.  I love scallops and always order them when I’m out but until now, have been too intimidated to try to cook them myself.  I’m so glad I did!  Next time, I will just try to sear them without the marinade.  I definitely was a little heavy-handed with the soy and it didn’t taste Thai at all… but it was still yummy!

The clams were great, my Dad and Dave were happy with them.  It was really cool, you could totally taste the spices in the broth while you were eating the clams… not to mention how delicious it was to dip the bread into!

The Lobster Bisque… made by Hills Seafood… was spectacular as always.  I’m glad we split it three ways, I don’t even want to think about how awful it was for me!

Here they are in recipe form, if you’re feeling adventurous!

Asian Marinated Sea Scallops

¼ cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce

1 tablespoon Fresh Lime Juice

1 tablespoon Sesame Oil

1 tablespoon Sugar

½ teaspoon Sriracha Hot Sauce

1 ½ teaspoons Cornstarch

2 teaspoons Olive Oil

Fresh Cilantro

Black Sesame Seeds (or regular, I happened to have black!)

Lime Wedges

1.  Marinate 1lb Scallops in a freezer bag with the first five ingredients.  Seal and let sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes, flipping once.

2.  Remove the scallops from the bag and place the marinade in a bowl.  Slowly stir the cornstarch into the marinade bowl and stir with a whisk.  Add about ½ cup of water and continue to stir.

3.  Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large non-stick skillet.  Once the oil is hot, carefully place the scallops into the pan.

4.  Cook the scallops for 4-5 minutes on each side, depending on the size.  You can see how far it is cooked if you look on the side of the scallop.  You do NOT want to overcook these babies!

5.  Flip the scallop and cook another 4-5 minutes.

6.  Meanwhile, heat the marinade in a saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce the heat and simmer for a minute or two until it becomes thicker and stir occasionally.

7.  Once the scallops are finished cooking, top them with the asian sauce and the optional garnish.  Enjoy!