Weeknight Dinners

Seared Sea Scallops in Vermouth Cream Sauce

If you live in the Midwest, you might have been rejoicing yesterday as your kids went off to school as the week has started in a “back to normal” routine – unlike last week, and the record number of consecutive days off! Below is a photo of the HIGH temperature last week Thursday.

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Our weekly grocery shop happened yesterday morning (Monday Morning Metcalfes Run) and I decided NOT to take a list. This was not a mistake, I wanted to grocery shop with an open mind, letting the creativity flow (lets be honest, this is not how I normally shop, but I was in a cooking rut, so new ideas needed to start popping in!). Metcalfes had some great looking seafood, and I decided to make some seared sea scallops at the last minute. We have not had them in a long time, and now that we have a gas cooktop, why not?

Luckily both kids LOVE seafood, and we are not allergic! And while scallops are very pricey, they were super buttery and delicious. For sure worth the $30 / pound price tag. It was a treat meal for sure, back to the norm today.

This recipe is easy to make during the week; however, if it’s your first time, I’d recommend tyring them over the weekend so you can get a feel for the recipe, how to prepare the scallops and your smoke detectors (it will get smoky, have that vent fan on and perhaps a window cracked!

Our IG LIVE stories still has the recipe live, if you want to see it first hand, otherwise, here is the recipe.

Pan Seared Sea Scallops in Creamy Vermouth Sauce

Ingredients

  • 1 pound jumbo sea scallops
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1/4 cup vermouth
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/8 tsp salt and pepper

Directions

  1. Clean scallops (see instructions in the link above, don’t forget to remove the side muscle).
  2. Heat butter in large skillet on high heat.
  3. When melted, add well dried scallops into butter. Sear on high for 2 to 2.5 minutes, then flip.
  4. Sear for another 2 minutes until a golden crust is formed.
  5. Remove to a plate, turn skillet to low.
  6. Add vermouth to skillet, and simmer for 1-2 minutes to reduce the vermouth, stirring. Scrape up any butter or scallop remains in the pan.
  7. Add cream, salt and pepper. Stir, simmering for another 1-2 minutes to combine.
  8. Serve sauce over scallops.

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Since they can be made very quickly, I recommend making your other sides first. We served ours over pasta and had  a side of broccoli. We estimate about 3 scallops per child and 5 per adult. In total we had 30 scallops in approximately 1 pound. Our scallops were fresh from Metcalfes, not frozen.

 

How to be Nutfree, Uncategorized, Weeknight Dinners

Happy New Year!

At the end of December, we put our planner away and the to-do lists aside and just focused on enjoying time with family and friends. The past 2 weeks have been wonderful; we had a chance to reconnect and recharge. However, we are ready to get back into a routine! Thank you for hanging in there while we took a short break. This next year will be full of new experiences and new recipes that we are so excited to share with you here!

Before we dive back into recipes – and food allergy friendly finds – we want to talk about some kitchen basics. Food safety is a priority for us ALL the time since cross contact can happen so easily; especially if you do allow your allergen in your kitchen.

person washing his hand
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com
  1. Wash your hands – Washing your hands is the easiest way to stop the spread of food borne pathogens that could make you sick. The US FDA recommends washing your hands for 20 seconds with hot, soapy water, or just sing the ABC Song! Get scrubbing!
  2. Sanitize your kitchen – I know we all love to use Mrs.Meyers smell good kitchen sprays, but they offer no actual sinitzation! We like to use spray bleach in the sink and around the counter tops, then I like to rinse with hot soapy water. The kitchen sink is known for having more bacteria than a garbage can!
  3. Clean your gear – Sponges are prime breeding grounds for lots of bacteria, so we tend to never use them, unless its a one-time use for a cleaning project. We use disposable dish cloths and throw them out after a week. Cutting boards, especially wooden, are also succeptable to bacteria, so make sure to use a plastic mat board for bacteria prone items that you’re prepping, like meats. In our home, we have color coded plastic cutting mats for raw meat items and then hard plastic / bamboo cutting boards for all other items; breads, fruits, veggies, etc.
  4. Season Safely – Most bacteria can’t live for more than a few minutes in direct contact with salt, it can live on the edges of a box or shaker. To avoid contamination with salt well or pepper mill, mix your seasonings in a small bowl prior to making your meal. This allows you to reach into the bowl to season your meats as needed without the risk of cross contact to the box / container that will go back in your pantry.
  5. Separate raw and cooked foods – Keep raw and cooked foods separately to prevent the spread of bacteria. Dont place cooked food on a plate or cutting board that came into contact with raw food and wash utensils that come in contact with raw food before reusing them, like meat thermometers and wooden spoons.
  6. Don’t rinse raw meat – Avoid rinsing raw meat and poultry. Contrary to what we have learned in other cookbooks, rinsing is more likely to spread bacteria in and around your sink. Cooking food to a safe temperature will kill surface bacteria no problem.
  7.  Defrost in the fridge – On the counter, the temperature is higher and bacteria multiply quickly. Place food on a plate or in a bowl to catch any liquid. Most food will take 24 hours to thaw.
  8. Reheat Rapidly – when food is reheated, it should be brought thru the danger zone (tempterature ranges from 40 to 140 degrees where bacteria thrive) as rapidly as possible . Dont let it slowly come to a simmer. Bring leftover sauces, soups and gravies to a boil and make sure casseroles reach 165.
  9. When in doubt, throw it out – No explanation needed. If it doesnt smell right or look right, just toss it. It’s not worth it.
  10. Allergy Spot – if you have food allergies in your home, you may want to consider having an allergy action plan where the food is only allowed in a specific area. For nut allergies, many families allow the peanut butter, cashew butter, etc. in a separate cupboard, then they eat it over the sink, then wash the sink out when they are done so there is no chance for cross contact. I’ve done this in our house with peanut butter and I usually end up washing the sink about 4 or 5 times before I move on. It’s a little much, but it works.

 

We have been talking about fast and healthy breakfast items to go – the kids have enjoyed sleeping in and this next week back at school is going to be a little adjustmet. We’re making banana bread, breakfast bars and scones to stock up our pantry. The new banana bread recipe has DOUBLE the bananas! Now that’s B-A-N-A-N-A-S!

Have a great week – and keep your kitchen clean 🙂

 

Weeknight Dinners

Christmas Chili

It’s that time of year where we want and need a good meal, but our schedules are over flowing with activities and a good meal is hard to come by.  However, this recipe is basic and you can find it on the back of your McCormick White Chicken Chili season packet. We named it Christmas Chili because of the red and green bell pepper that we added. This meal is ready in under 20 minutes. Get ready!

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Ingredients

  • 1 large frying pan with high sides
  • 1 pound of organic chicken, cubed
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • salt and pepper for chicken on both sides
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 white onion or shallot, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, smashed
  • 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed (we only had black beans this time)
  • 1 avocado for topping
  • 1 McCormick white chicken chili season packet

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Directions

  1. Sautee your onion and veggies in 1 tbsp olive oil for about 4-5 minutes until they are crisp tender. Add garlic last before adding the chicken.
  2. Next, cut your chicken into small cubes and fry them in your pan for about 6 minutes, or until no longer pink. Medium heat.
  3. Add the season packet and finish according to package.
  4. Let it thicken up and enjoy!
  5. We placed our white chili over jasmine rice.
Weeknight Dinners

Sheet Pan Steak Fajitas

Who likes easy dinner clean up?!

*Raises Hand*

Perfect recipe for weeknight cooking! Especially if you have tiny steak lovers! However, I would HIGHLY recommend grilling the flank steak over putting it under the broiler. The broiler worked fine, if you cook it 1-2 minutes on each side. However, it can easily become chewy and tough in a matter of no time.

Flank steak is not cheap. For a little over one pound, we paid almost $12.00. This steak is delish, but you need to be careful in how you cook it. This recipe was good – and the kids did eat all of their food. But watch that steak! Or grill it quick. You know, Wisconsin style. Shovel a path to your grill, then stand outside in flip flops.

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Two sheet pans is a must. Ideally, you want the veggies to get a little roasty and crunchy. They won’t do that if they are crowded! Keep the meat separate and the veggies in their own space.

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Ingredients:

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler with oven rack in the top position. Place a rimmed baking sheet in oven (leave pan in oven as it preheats).
  2. Combine oil, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, chile powder, and black pepper in a bowl, stirring with a whisk. Place steak in a bowl. Place bell peppers and onion in a bowl. Add half of oil mixture to steak; toss. Add remaining half of oil mixture to pepper mixture; toss.
  3. Carefully remove baking sheet from oven. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add pepper mixture to pan; broil 10 minutes or until almost tender. Remove pan from oven. Move pepper mixture to sides of pan; arrange steak in center of pan. Broil 3 minutes or until steak reaches desired degree of doneness. Sprinkle cilantro and lime wedges over pan.
  4. Combine remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, sour cream, lime juice, and ground red pepper in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Heat tortillas according to package directions. Serve sour cream mixture and tortillas with steak and pepper mixture.

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Weeknight Dinners

White Chicken Chili

Baby it’s cold outside! We were not ready for the 18* Wisconsin weather this morning. Well, let me re-phrase that. I was not ready for this bitter cold. My kids on the other hand, all they can think about is, “MOM IS IT GOING TO SNOW? WE LOVE SNOW!”

This chicken chili recipe will warm you up in no time. And if it happens to snow, you’ll be prepared for 3 nights of dinner, easy. That means you can snow blow your driveway and not worry about your tummy. This recipe makes a lot. So with that, we have thought of how we might recycle the leftovers.

  1. Chicken Chili over Jasmine Rice.
  2. Chicken Chili, minus the liquid, in a soft flour tortilla to make a burrito
  3. Chicken Chili as just chicken chili

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Ingredients

  • 1.5# of chicken
  • 4 cups of low sodium or no sodium chicken stock
  • 2 cans of white beans (great white northern) drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans of green chiles (I used the super small cans)
  • 3 cloves of garlic (or 3 palm fulls of garlic powder)
  • 1 palm full of onion powder
  • 2 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano + 1 more tsp after it’s done cooking
  • salt and pepper + 1 heaping tbsp when it’s done cooking if you did no sodium chicken stock
  • cayanne pepper if you like a sprinkle
  • sliced limes for garnish
  • avocado for garnish
  • shredded cheese for garnish
  • cilantro for garnish (yuck)
  • diced ancho chiles for garnish – if you want to substitute topping with scallions instead, kids would be more likely to eat it. The ancho chile is about the equivelent of a medium spicy salsa. Both my kids tried this pepper, but did not want it. To make it less hot, you could remove the seeds, slice it, and sautee or roast it, then serve it.  I liked it crunchy and raw, it was perfect for me, so I ate it!

Directions

  1. spray the inside of your crock pot with Pam non stick spray.
  2. Turn your crock pot on low
  3. Place the chicken in the crock pot and all ingredients over the top of the chicken (listed above until you get to “garnishes”)
  4. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours.
  5. use a fork to pull apart your chicken, stir around, add the extra salt, oregano and garlic. Taste it. You might need 1 more tbsp of salt depending on the type of chicken stock you used.
  6. Serve with garnishes.

Dunking!

  • Joseph Campione in the freezer section makes wonderful garlic bread and bread sticks. The kids LOVE them and they are nut free. I also like that they are made in my hometown, the OC! They warm up fast, too.

 

The garnishes really made this meal. Also, if you have picky eaters, you may want to conisder cubing the chicken first before you just put the whole chicken breast in. Cubed chicken is sometimes more appealing and easy to eat for kids. The shredded chicken can be funky to eat sometimes, but it is good for burriotos and tacos! You decide! Enjoy!