Archive for September, 2007

Sauteed Scallops with Parsley and Garlic

If you recall a few weeks ago, I had posted about Spaghetti with Scallop Sauce. It had come out wonderfully but my only gripe about it was the cost of the scallops from a local fishery ($17.95 a pound). Costly, but the best tasting scallops I’ve probably ever had. I decided to give Costco’s scallop a try. They were about half the price (and half the taste). I didn’t have a particular recipe in mind when I purchased the scallops so I headed to Cooking Light’s website and did a search for scallop recipes. The recipe for Sauteed Scallops with Parsley and Garlic seemed quick and easy and I had an overabundance of parsley from my garden. Overall, the dish came out quite well. The parsley and garlic sauce was very complimentary to the sauteed scallops. It was fresh, light and delicious. I wish I had served it with bread to soak up the sauce. The scallops were not as good as the fishery’s hence the cost difference. Since I do not make scallops that often I will definitely continue to get them from the fishery because this dish would have been perfect if the scallops had been perfect.

I served it with some polenta rounds I quickly fried up in a little bit of olive oil. I topped the polenta with some diced tomatoes quickly sauteed in some olive oil, garlic and fresh basil. Not the best side dish for the scallops, but it was super fast and tasty.

Overall rating: 4 stars

Sauteed Scallops with Parsley and Garlic

The secret to perfectly browned scallops is patience. Peterson recommends cooking in two batches. Heat the oil until it ripples in the pan. Add scallops, a few at a time, and wait for them to sizzle before adding more. If you add too many at once, the pan will lose heat and its ability to brown them all.

16 large sea scallops (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 garlic cloves, minced
Sprinkle scallops with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add 8 scallops; sauté 2 1/2 minutes on each side or until browned. Set aside, and keep warm. Repeat procedure with remaining 8 scallops. Wipe pan clean with a paper towel. Add butter to pan; reduce heat, and cook until butter melts. Stir in parsley and garlic, and cook 15 seconds. Return scallops to pan; toss to coat.Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 4 scallops) CALORIES 241 (43% from fat); FAT 11.5g (sat 3.6g,mono 5.7g,poly 1.1g); PROTEIN 28.7g; CHOLESTEROL 71mg; CALCIUM 48mg; SODIUM 464mg; FIBER 0.2g; IRON 0.8mg; CARBOHYDRATE 4.3g Cooking Light, JULY 2005


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Beef Daube Provencal


Last year when I wrote about Beef Stew, I mentioned how I loved it so especially as a cool weather comfort food. Well, even though it’s technically summer for a few more days, it’s been a little chilly over here in New Jersey. This past Sunday, I wasn’t feeling too good and had to miss a party for a dear friend’s son. Since I was stuck at home, I figured I’d make something that would last a couple of days and would take a while. I don’t have much time during the week to cook because of my commute now so to make something like a stew, I have to save it for the weekend.

This recipe for Beef Daube Provencal came from the September issue of Cooking Light. This was a great issue because they revisited some of their most memorable recipes from past issues. The original recipe was in the November 2004 issue and was named the Best Beef Recipe for this special issue. Beef Daube Provencal, according to Cooking Light, is a “classic French braised beef, red wine, and vegetable stew” that “is simple and delicious” and it was.

I really loved this version of Beef Stew much more than the one I posted last year. The aromas as it baked were tantalizing and the flavors were so good on their own I didn’t really think it needed to be served over egg noodles as suggested. Very few modifications were made to this recipe. I had to use dried thyme because my fresh thyme has seen better days. I also used Chianti for the red wine and the flavors were perfect. I did serve it over whole wheat egg noodles the first night, but by the second night, I ate it without.

Overall rating: 5 stars

Beef Daube Provençal


2 teaspoons olive oil
12 garlic cloves, crushed
1 (2-pound) boneless chuck roast, trimmed and cut into 2-inch cubes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup red wine
2 cups chopped carrot
1 1/2 cups chopped onion
1/2 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
Dash of ground cloves
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 bay leaf
3 cups hot cooked medium egg noodles (about 4 cups uncooked noodles)
Chopped fresh thyme (optional)
Preheat oven to 300°. Heat olive oil in a small Dutch oven over low heat. Add garlic to pan; cook for 5 minutes or until garlic is fragrant, stirring occasionally. Remove garlic with a slotted spoon; set aside. Increase heat to medium-high. Add beef to pan. Sprinkle beef with 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove beef from pan. Add wine to pan, and bring to a boil, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Add garlic, beef, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, remaining 1/4 teaspoon pepper, carrot, and next 8 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; bring to a boil.Cover and bake at 300° for 2 1/2 hours or until beef is tender. Discard bay leaf. Serve over noodles. Garnish with chopped fresh thyme, if desired.Note: To make in a slow cooker, prepare through Step 2. Place beef mixture in an electric slow cooker. Cover and cook on HIGH for 5 hours.Wine note: This satisfying beef stew deserves a rich, earthy, and soulful wine–one with a soft, thick texture. I love the complexity and juiciness of the Kuleto Estate Syrah 2004 from Napa Valley, California ($45), which elevates this stew into a princely dinner. –Karen MacNeil

Yield:  6 servings (serving size: about 3/4 cup stew and 1/2 cup noodles)CALORIES 367 (31% from fat); FAT 12.8g (sat 4.3g,mono 5.8g,poly 0.9g); PROTEIN 29.1g; CHOLESTEROL 105mg; CALCIUM 76mg; SODIUM 776mg; FIBER 3.9g; IRON 4.3mg; CARBOHYDRATE 33.4g Cooking Light, SEPTEMBER 2007

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Chicken Sofrito


This recipe is dedicated to my buddy Mike S. who recently has moved out on his own and now has his own bachelor pad, ladies. He emailed me to ask for some “banging” recipes. He specifically asked for some help with chicken recipes as he’s apparently been cooking the same thing for awhile now – salmon with asparagus, chicken and mushrooms, and pasta with pesto, zucchini, squash, and onions. Pretty impressive I think for a young bachelor….

Anyhow, this is a very easy and quick recipe. To give you a little background…I had no idea what sofrito was until earlier this year. On the Food Network’s show, The Next Food Network Show, season 2, there was a contestant who always used sofrito in her recipes (and got picked on by a few other contestants and bloggers for the overuse of it…). I had no idea what sofrito was except some kind of Latino ingredient. So recently, one day while shopping, I saw a jar of Goya Sofrito and picked it up. Sofrito is a cooking base (that resembles salsa) of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, cilantro, and garlic. It sounded interesting so I grabbed a jar.I decided to make it with some sauteed chicken, black beans, diced tomatoes, onions, garlic, and peppers. I did serve it over whole wheat couscous this particular night but I think it would have been better over rice. I really loved the flavors of the sofrito and would add this to any type of meal – chicken, seafood, veggies, etc. It’s a great product nutritionally as well. It’s very low sodium, no fat, and little calories but very full of flavor.

So because this is a quick, easy, and flavorful chicken dish, it’s for Mike S. I hope he tries it out in his new digs!

Enjoy Mikey!

Overall rating – 4 stars

Chicken Sofrito

1 to 1.5 boneless, skinless chicken breast cut in bite size pieces

olive oil

salt and pepper to season

3-4 garlic cloves, crushed

1 large onion, chopped

1 green pepper, chopped

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 jar Goya Sofrito

1 can diced tomatoes

Rice or couscous to serve with.

Add about 1 T. olive oil to pan and add seasoned chicken, garlic, onions, peppers over medium high heat. Let cook through about 10 minutes until vegetables are soft but not browned and chicken is completely cooked through. Add diced tomatoes and sofrito and cook another 5 minutes. Add black beans and cook through approximately another 3 minutes over low heat. Simmer for about about 5 minutes. Serve over rice or couscous or your favorite carb. * I also added about 1 cup of water to thin out the sauce.

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Review: Jose Tejas, Woodbridge, NJ

This past weekend I was meeting up with one of my sorority sisters whom I hadn’t seen in years.  We decided to head to Jose Tejas in Woodbridge, NJ (located in front of Woodbridge Center Mall with the big, neon “EAT” sign) because this area was the middle ground for both of us. I was the one to actually suggest this place. Many, many years ago, when I was in high school, this place opened up. My friends and I would go here all the time because it was fun and cheap and good. I hadn’t been here in several years but my husband and his co-workers went here a few weeks ago and they all loved it. So I thought it was worth a try (despite being a chain! gasp!).

I arrived at 7 p.m. and noticed a familar scene. Crowds (and guys in white tank tops – more on that later). I checked in and there was an hour and a half wait. I wasn’t happy to hear that but since I’m not really familiar with the area anymore I figured we stick it out.

The wait staff immediately brings you warm chips and fresh salsa when you sit down. The chips were good, maybe a little too salty and the salsa seemed fresh, but maybe a little too watery. Again, waiting an hour and a half on an empty stomach may have messed with my taste buds. But we managed to scarf down almost two baskets of them between the two of us. Because of my sensitively to spicy food, I had the waitress help me pick something. She suggested the Chicken Waco and I went for it as I remembered having it previously and enjoying it. Chicken Waco is a a boneless chicken breast stuffed with roasted poblano peppers, spinach and mushrooms and covered with a Monterery Jack cheese and poblano pepper sauce. I thought the chicken was pretty darn tasty overall and also large in portion so I had to take most of it home. It came with a warm, flaky biscuit which was also good and an enourmous serving of rice. The waitress neglected to tell me that the rice was spicy and after one mouthful which I painfully swallowed, followed by many sips of my sangria, I decided that was going home as well to the hubby.

My only negative thoughts to the place were the waits and the clientle. Here’s my issue. Why do some young guys think it’s ok to come into a sit-down restaurant with a tank top on? I must have seen a dozen of these muscle-head type guys, covered in tattoes (hey- nothing against them, I have a few myself, hidden of course…), with a pound of hair gel in their hair, shorts with their boxers hanging out, and their hairy armpits??? There’s a time and a place for that dress (I suppose) but not at a restaurnt. Maybe McDonald’s. Put a shirt on please! Tank-tops are undershirts!

Overall, it was a good, cheap meal. The bill for the two of us came to roughly $30.00 for two entrees, one sangria, and one margarita. To me though, it’s not worth the wait. I’m sure I can find a better Mexican restaurant nearby that’s more authentic. And one with less exposed hairy armpits….


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Spanish Style Beef and Rice


As I mentioned in an older post, I’m not a huge fan of Rachael Ray, but there are about five or so recipes of hers that I actually really like. This is one of them. I’ve been making her Spanish Style Beef and Rice for a few years now and we really enjoy it. It’s quick, simple, and flavorful. I’m not sure what exactly makes the recipe Spanish as I am not entirely familiar with that cuisine but my guess would be the spices used, cloves and cumin, in the sauce.  I like to make this when I have some ground beef and am bored with burgers. It’s not my favorite meal but it’s a good departure from a burger when you need it.

On the Food Network’s site, she makes this with a Spicy Chopped Salad to top it and also suggests using the meat mixture for stuffed peppers. I just make the one recipe for the Spanish Style Beef and Rice and you can too.  As usual, a few alterations to this dish. For starters, I used ground turkey instead of ground beef and this was a great use for it. Ground turkey tends to be somewhat flavorless so the spices and vegetables really helped it out. I also used brown rice instead of white as we only eat brown. Finally, instead of tomato sauce, I used crushed tomatoes to give the dish more texture.

If you are not a fan of cumin or cloves, you may not like this because while it may look almost like a chili, the spices definitely give it a distinct flavor. Enjoy!

Overall rating: 3.5 stars


Spanish Style Beef and Rice

Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

2 cups beef stock
1 3/4 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups white enriched rice
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
1 2/3 pounds ground sirloin
Salt and pepper
1 large onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 green bell pepper, seeded and finely chopped
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/3 palmful, twice
1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley, a couple of handfuls
Spicy Chopped Salad with Tortillas, recipe follows
Heat beef stock, water and butter to a full boil. Add rice, reduce heat and cover pot. Cook 20
minutes, until tender and liquids are absorbed.Heat a large, deep skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and beef and season with salt and pepper. Brown meat, 2 or 3 minutes. Add onion, garlic, bell pepper, Worcestershire. Cook together 5 to 7 minutes, until veggies are just tender. Add tomato sauce, cloves, cumin and parsley. Bring mixture up to a bubble and reduce heat to low.Combine cooked rice with meat mixture and serve with Spicy Chopped Salad wit and Taco Dressing, recipe follows. Reserve 1/2 of the beef and rice and freeze for stuffed peppers for another meal. Recipe follows.

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My Adventures in Cake Decorating, Part 4


Oh, the horrors…Last week I completed my fourth and final class in the Wilton Cake Decorating Series at Michael’s. I’ve never wanted something to end sooner. I really didn’t anticipate disliking this craft so much when I signed up or I would have never signed up in the first place. Cake decorating just isn’t my thing. I rather be whipping up some Roast Rack of Lamb and potato gratin or some popovers. Cake decorating is very intricate and you must have patience. It’s also very messy and time consuming. I give cake decorators a lot of credit, I think what they do is an art, just not something I want to pursue.

For the last class, we learned how to make the Wilton rose. Because I couldn’t wait to get out of there, I was very careless and sloppy and quick. The roses came out ok I suppose, I mean my co-workers recognized them as roses. However, my icing wasn’t stiff enough so the petals had ridges instead of being smooth. Also, once again, notice my fabulous icing technique (full of crumbs).

In the future, I really prefer to go buy a cake, however, if I had to make one, I’ve learned a few techniques I could use. And most importantly, I’ve learned that the best way (for me) to frost a cake is (drum-roll please…) use chocolate icing with chocolate cake and you won’t see the crumbs mixed in! Otherwise, please refer to the proper techniques on Wilton’s site if you prefer your icing crumb-less!



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Spaghetti with Scallop Sauce


I’ve been in sort of a recipe rut lately. I haven’t seen anything in my magazines or books that was inspiring so I’ve been trying out some of my own culinary creations lately. If you recall from earlier posts, I am a great cook – when following someone else’s recipe. Usually when I try my own experiment, it’s a disaster. But on this rare occasion, I think we may have a repeater!

This past Sunday I was craving seafood. After stopping by my local supermarket and not finding anything too appealing, I decided to head to the local fishery in town for the first time. Once I got there, I pretty much had my mind set on scallops so imagine my surprise when they had them there for $17.95 a pound!! I don’t buy scallops that often but that seemed high to me, so I only bought a half a pound, which equalled 8 scallops! But there’s only two of us so I figured that would be enough.

I started by pan searing the scallops with some garlic in olive oil and butter. Once they started to carmelize, I added some defrosted artichoke hearts and white wine. In the last few minutes of cooking, I added some canned diced tomatoes that were slightly drained. I seasoned very lightly with salt and pepper. I served this over some whole wheat spaghetti. My own issue was that I tossed it all together, thus the spaghetti absorbed a lot of the sauce sadly. I really enjoyed the flavors and the scallops were delicious (they better be for the price). My husband didn’t enjoy it as much as I did because his theory is, he really only likes his spaghetti with meatballs and your standard marinara sauce.

Overall rating: 4 stars

Spaghetti with Scallop Sauce

Serves 2

a little less than 1/2 pound of spaghetti, cooked and drained

1/2 pound scallops

4-6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1/2 cup artichoke hearts diced (I prefer frozen to canned)

2 tsp. butter

2 T. olive oil

1/2 c. white wine

1 c. diced, canned tomatoes, slightly drained.

Melt butter with olive oil and add garlic and scallops over medium heat. After a few minutes, as they begin to carmelize throw in artichoke hearts and white wine. Cook a few minutes until wine begins to reduce. Slowly add tomatoes and cook a few more minutes until flavors blend. Season with salt and pepper. Add mixture to top of spaghetti or other pasta.

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