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Tuesday
Mar202012

Pan Seared Scallops with Tomato Remoulade

Instead of going out to eat each week, the boy and I have decided to cook a "special" dinner each week. This means we get to go out and pick up out of the ordinary groceries to create a meal that may take a bit more time or a meal that has slightly more expensive ingredients. We have done it two weeks in a row and its been a great way to save money (spending $20-$30 on a home cooked dinner as opposed to $50 to go out) and have a date night with food I don't usually get to cook with. This week we went up to Pangano's, a wonderful seafood retailer in Norwalk, CT. We picked up oysters and little neck clams to eat on the half shell, along with a half-pound of bay scallops. The oysters and clams speak for themselves; they were very obviously delicious! The scallops required cooking and so I opted for a really simple recipe with a remoulade sauce made in the Vitamix. I pan seared them with a bit of olive oil and parsley and topped them with a delicious tomato remoulade. We ate the scallops alongside Israeli couscous cooked in vegetable stock and the seafood on a half shell that we picked up.

 

Pan Seared Scallops with Tomato Remoulade

Servings: scallops for 2-3 and approximately 1.5-2 cups of remoulade sauce

Tomato Remoulade


  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp light mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Place all ingredients in a Vitamix (or blender) and puree. Start on Variable, 1 and immediately increase to 10, switching to High for 30 seconds.
  2. Place in a container to cool.
  3. Excess sauce can be refrigerated for up to a week.

Pan Seared Scallops

  • 1 tbsp parsley, fresh (chopped), dried, or frozen (Dorot)
  • 1/2 pound scallops
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  1. Using a small non-stick pan, heat olive oil on low-medium heat.
  2. If using frozen parsley, add it to the olive oil and let it melt. If using fresh or dried, skip this step.
  3. Place scallops in the pan and leave them be.
  4. Add parsley, dried or fresh to the top of the scallops.
  5. After approximately 3-4 minutes or when they are golden brown, flip the scallops. Cook again for 3-4 minutes or until this side turns golden brown.
  6. Top with tomato remoulade.

 

Tuesday
Mar202012

Fitness Magazine Fitterati Nominee

Hi SFHL readers,

I have been nominated for Fitness Magazine's Fitterati Blog Awards in the Healthy Eating blog category. There are some fabulous bloggers in this category  and I'm honored to be in the running for this award. Make sure to check out my blog and all the other blogs out there. Voting ends April 9 so if you would take just a minute to vote for Simple Food Healthy Life, I would be incredibly grateful.

Thank you,

Ashley

Link to Vote for Simple Food Healthy Life

Monday
Mar192012

Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad

There's nothing quite like a fresh, juicy mango to make your mouth water. And few things go better together than black beans and tropical fruit, i.e. chunks of mouthwatering mango. Add to that, my current favorite grain, quinoa, and you're guaranteed to have a winning combo. Quinoa is a grain-like crop, more closely related to beets and spinach than cereal grains. It is amino-acid rich, meaning it is protein filled, containing all nine essential amino acids. In addition, quinoa is magnesium rich, aiding in the prevention of migraines and the improvement of cardiovascular health.  There are multiple varieties of quinoa, the most common being a yellow/gold quinoa, red quinoa and a tri-color quinoa. All are good and all can be used for this recipe. I use a 1:1.5 ratio for quinoa to liquid when cooking my quinoa and tend to cook it for about 30 minutes. I like it when it pops in my mouth which is why I gravitated towards less liquid (similar to al dente pasta). If you want it thoroughly cooked, add another 1/4-1/2 cup of liquid to your quinoa. Simply mix the quinoa, black beans, and mango with a bit of olive oil, red wine vineagar and salt. Chill it for 30 minutes and serve as a filling side dish or an even better lunch.

Black Bean and Mango Quinoa Salad

Servings: 4 people side dishes for dinner, 2 main meal lunches

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1.5 cup water
  • 14 oz black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 mango, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  1. Rinse your quinoa (unless using pre-rinsed quinoa). Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and run water over it.
  2. Place water and quinoa in a sauce pan over medium heat. Stir occassionaly so that quinoa doesn't stick. Cook until all of the liquid is absorbed and quinoa has popped, roughly 25-30 minutes.
  3. Place quinoa in a bowl and refrigerate until cool.
  4. Cut mango into small pieces. Here is a great tutorial on how to easily cut mango.
  5. Drain and rinse black beans.
  6. Remove quinoa from the refrigerator and mix in black beans, mango, olive oil, red wine vinegar and salt. Toss thoroughly.
  7. Refrigerate until cool.
Sunday
Mar182012

Dried Apricot Jam

I have never made jam before and apricot jam would certainly not be the type I chose for my virgin attempt. However, thanks to the folks over at Lancaster International Trading Co., I had an abundance of their tasty dried apricots left over. I was making fresh sandwich bread so I figured jam was in my weekend plans. Some of you expert jam makers may read this and tell me I did this totally wrong (pointers are always recommended!) but in my in-expert opinion, this apricot jam turned out pretty darn good. The amount of sugar you put in it will depend on the sweetness of your fruit, though I'll be the first to say that LITCO's apricots are already naturally sweet so you may not need as much sugar as with typical jams. It also turns out thinner than most jams but spread atop a piece of freshly made bread and voila, perfection folks.

Don't forget to read my review of Lancaster International Trading Co. and Enduring Sun's phenomenal dried apricots and sun-dried tomatoes.


Apricot Jam

  1. If you have a Vitamix, skip this step. Chop apricots into thin slices or small cubes.
  2. Place apricots (whole or chopped) and water in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let stand for at least 2 hours.
  3. If you have a Vitamix, place water and apricots in it and puree for 1 minute (Start on Variable, 1 and quickly turn it to 10, switching to High for 60 seconds).
  4. Place apricots in a large pot on low heat with lemon juice. Cover the pot and let simmer for 30 minutes.
  5. Turn heat to high and slowly whisk in sugar and vanilla extract.
  6. Let apricots boil, stirring occassionally until jam thickens. This should take roughly 15-20 minutes.
  7. Pour into a mason jar and let cool for 10 minutes.
  8. Place the lid on and refrigerate. The mixture will thicken and turn into a great jam.
Monday
Mar122012

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup

Sunday's have quickly turned into fresh bread and soup days. I'm not sure what I am going to do when it gets too warm out for soup because it is now routine. Friday's are often DIY pizza nights and Sunday's are for soup. I wake up on Sunday's and make the dough for bread and english muffins. I let it rise all day and by the evening, I've baked a fresh loaf of bread and a batch of English muffins that get it us through the week. While bread isn't a ton of work, I most definitely attribute the increase in homemade bread to the Kitchen Aid we got at Christmas. It makes bread-making incredibly simple and easy, so easy in fact that you don't do any kneading; the dough hook does it all for you. Anyways, I digress. The point is, what goes better with fresh bread than soup. So soup it is, at least for now. This week was black bean and sweet potato soup, pureed into a thick and tasty soup, topped with fresh avocado and cheddar cheese, and served alongside a piping hot piece of bread. Life doesn't get much better, does it?

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Soup

Servings: 4-6

  • 28 oz black beans
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 ancho chili
  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 avocado
  • Fresh grated cheddar cheese
  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot.
  2. Add garlic and onion and sautee until translucent, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add sweet potato cubes and stir. Let cook for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes begin to brown.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and stir. Cover and let cook on low-medium heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  5. Check to ensure sweet potatoes are thoroughly cooked. If they are not, continue to let simmer for another 10 minutes.
  6. Transfer ingredients into a blender or food processor and puree until smooth. Add 1/4 cup of water at a time, continuing to blend until the soup has reached your desired consistency.
  7. Top soup with thinly sliced avocado and freshly grated cheddar cheese.