Monday, February 23, 2015

Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Sweet Potato Mash and Burnt Sage Butter Drizzle... and Changes...

Nothing really ever remains the same, does it?

So many of my friends and family are going through major life changes right now. A dear friend is moving, having sold her home after some 20 years.. she is busy packing and sorting and reliving memories of raising her two children in their family home.

My amazing sister is moving into a smaller home with her two boys.

A long time friend has bought her first home and is moving after 18 years in her apartment.

Yet another dear friend has taken on a new job.

And me, well... things keep changing and I'm realizing the truth behind the old adage "the only thing that remains the same is change".

One thing that won't change is my love of Sea Scallops ((Placopecten magellanicus). They are a virtual blank canvas that can be pared with countless ingredients and endless cooking techniques. Rice, potatoes, vegetables, salad, stir fried, broiled, baked, grilled, seared, you name it, a beautiful, fresh, plump scallop can handle it. Here is one of my favorite presentations of these lovely mollusks.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops (with sweet potato mash and burnt sage butter drizzle): (serves 2)

For the scallops:

1/2 pound (6 to 8) large wild caught sea scallops (muscle removed)
kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
drizzle of olive oil
1/2 teaspoon powdered sage

For the sweet potato mash:

2 medium sweet potatoes
drizzle of milk or half and half
pat of unsalted butter
salt and pepper to season

Wash and prick the sweet potatoes. Microwave on high about 6 minutes or until tender when pierced with a fork. When cool enough to handle, peel and mash with the back of a fork. Drizzle about 2 tablespoons milk or half and half and a pat of butter and mix well. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside. You can make this ahead and reheat in the microwave.

Make the scallops:

Remove scallops from fridge 20 minutes before preparing them.

Pat the scallops dry (very important) with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.

Melt the butter with the oil over medium high heat in a medium saute pan (big enough so as not to crowd the scallops). When the butter/oil is very hot, add the scallops. Pan sear for about 3 minutes or until carmelized on one side (if the scallop is sticking, wait for a minute, cooked food does not stick). Turn and cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Remove scallops from pan. Stir sage into pan.


Place a dollop (1/2 cup or so) of sweet potato mash in center of plate. Top with 3-4 scallops, drizzle with sage butter.

As always, Bon Appetite.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Almond Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing and Friends

I was overjoyed to catch up on the phone with a very dear friend the other day. She is one of those friends that months can go by without speaking but we are able to pick up the thread of our friendship in a heartbeat. Do you know what I mean? She asked me when I was going to start posting recipes again and I promised I would .... so this one's for you Maureen, my dear friend.

Almond Crusted Chicken and Nectarine Salad with Buttermilk-Chive Dressing: (serves 4)


1/4 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon sour cream
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon honey
2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh chopped chives
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium bowl combine the buttermilk, sour cream, vinegar and honey. Slowly whisk in the oil to blend. Whisk in the chives, season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate until ready to use.

The Chicken:

2 large eggs
1 1/2 cups almonds (raw, unsalted)
1/2 cup flour
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 to 1 3/4 pound)
salt and pepper
vegetable or canola oil for shallow frying

Set up your breading station. In a shallow bowl (such as a pie plate) beat the eggs.
In your food processor, grind the almonds, add the flour and pulse a few times.
Place the nut/flour mixture in another shallow bowl.

Slice the chicken breasts into strips about 1 1/2 inches wide and pound slightly. Season with salt and pepper, dredge in egg, then the nut/flour mixture. Place on wire rack set over rimmed cookie sheet and allow to "dry". Repeat with remaining chicken pieces. Throw away any nut/flour mixture and egg that may be left.

Heat oil in frying pan (about 1/2 an inch of oil) Working in batches, fry the chicken strips until golden (about 4 minutes per side). Remove to brown paper bags to drain, then place on a rack set over a cookie sheet* and place in a warm oven (about 275). Repeat until all chicken is fried.


6 cups tender mixed lettuces (your choice, I used Romaine, Butter and Red Sails)
2 medium nectarines, pitted and sliced about 1/4 inch thick.

Arrange the salad on plates, top with chicken strips and drizzle with dressing.

*placing the cooked chicken on a rack will ensure that the chicken stays crisp, not soggy while keeping warm in the oven.

The chicken is also delicious served cold.

Make this for a friend, to thank them for.. well, being your friend!

As always, Bon Appetite.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cinnabon's and Snow

Lot's of snow and no where to go is the reason for this recipe. It's also the reason I have to spend an extra 45 minutes on my elliptical today. 

Enjoy... and if it's snowing where you are, BAKE! (this recipe makes 12 large "cinnabons")

1 cup warm milk (between 110-115 degrees)
1 package dry yeast
2 eggs, room temperature (you can do this quickly by plunging eggs into hot water for a minute or two)
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar

Sprinkle the yeast over the warm milk in a large bowl until In about 5 minutes, the yeast will have dissolved and will be foamy. Add eggs, butter, salt and sugar. Whisk together. 

Stir in:

4 to 4 1/2 cups all purpose flour (1 cup at a time) to form a nice dough. Turn out on floured board and knead until smooth and elastic. Form into a ball and place in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size. 

Once dough has risen, punch down and let rest for 10 minutes. While dough is resting: mix 1 cup brown sugar and 2 1/2 tablespoons cinnamon in a small bowl. Soften 1/3 cup unsalted butter. 

Roll dough out to a 16 X 21 inch rectangle. Smear dough with butter and sprinkle sugar/cinnamon mixture evenly over buttered dough. 

Starting at end nearest you, roll up, jelly roll style. Slice into 12 even "buns" (you can do this easily with dental floss, thread or a serrated knife.

Place buns in a lightly buttered 9 X 13 inch baking pan.* * see note, below

Cover with a towel and let rise 30-45 minutes until puffed. 
Bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. 
While buns are baking, make the frosting. 

1/4 cup softened butter
3 ounces cream cheese
pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon milk
Beat until smooth. Frost the buns while still warm. 

**you can do all of the above the night before, cover and refrigerate. In the morning, set pan in warm place and let buns rise for 30-45 minutes before baking. 

Now excuse me, I need to work off this snow day treat! 

Friday, September 26, 2014

It's Been Awhile

I know it's been many, many months since I've written anything here. Please know that I am well. I am cooking and living and have a lovely job doing of all things, teaching cooking! It keeps me busy and happy and fulfilled.

There have been many changes over the last 4 years in my life and just when I am coming to be at peace with all that life has presented to me, this happens:

My youngest bouncing baby boy, A US Marine.

I know I am not the only mother of a deployed Marine. There have been and continue to be thousands of us... too many of us. My heart goes out to each and every parent, sister, brother, wife, husband and family member and friend of a deployed military member as you worry and watch the news. My prayers go out to our military for your safe return home.

Let's not forget any of our brave American warriors. Let us not forget their sacrifices. And let's bring them all home, safely. This is my prayer of the day. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Thirty Four Months

It has been 34 months since the Best Husband In The World passed from our life.

34 months.

Almost 3 years.

What have I learned?

Life goes on.
Love doesn't die.
Memories don't fade.
Tears dry. But they do not stop. They can come at unexpected, unbidden moments.
People come and people go.
The heart is a living, growing, giving, humble thing.
I can feel again.
I can dream again.
I will never forget.
I will forever love.
I can heal.
I maybe (someday) will trust again.
I remember.
I forget.
I long.
I want.
I aspire to move forward.
I laugh.
I cry.
I dream.
I cook.
I smile.
I worry.

I have made a new life with new people, new friends, new beginnings. I have dreams. I have inspirations. I have confusion and yet I have hope in a new life, with new and ever changing thoughts, feelings and aspirations; but always, always, I have TBITW in the back of my mind. That beautiful soul, that amazing man... that "Best Husband In The World".

New Life. New Beginnings. New Hopes. New Dreams. New Blessings.


The Good Cook.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

This I Will Remember

Two and 1/2 years ago I lost my best friend, my lover, my confident, my husband, to death.

I have come a long way in 2 1/2 years. I have changed. I have made changes. I have dealt with the worst thing that could possibly happen. I lost the love of my life. My partner. My friend.

Many years ago, on a wedding anniversary, TBHITW gave me a limited print as a gift. It is an image of two hands touching... just the finger tips.. reaching out.

It reads:

"This I will remember when the rest of life is through.. the finest thing I ever did was simply loving you."

This print hangs on my bedroom wall. I read it every morning. Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I smile. Most times I know this is true.

Just saying.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Lemon Budino

Budino means pudding in Italian.

This dessert is part creamy custard and part tender, moist cake. Most importantly, it adds up to all delicious.

Lemon Budino (serves 6)

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
3 large eggs, separated
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/4 cup fresh Meyer lemon juice
2 tablespoons fresh regular lemon juice
2 tablespoons finely grated Meyer lemon peel
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons whole milk 
1/4 teaspoon salt
Whipped cream (optional)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter six 3/4-cup custard cups or ramekins. Combine 1/2 cup sugar, egg yolks, flour, lemon juice, and lemon peel in large bowl; whisk until well blended. Whisk in milk.

Using electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt in medium bowl until frothy. Gradually add remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and beat until soft peaks form. Fold beaten egg whites into lemon mixture in 2 additions. Divide mixture among prepared custard cups. Place custard cups in roasting pan. Pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up sides of custard cups. Bake puddings until tops are golden and spring back when lightly touched, about 30 minutes. Remove cups from water. Serve warm or cold with whipped cream, if desired.

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