Superlative: Most Delicious

I met my two best friends in the 6th grade. I will never forget our first interaction together. Jenny and Kelly had already been friends since they were itty bitty, and I came later. I can honestly say that we had almost nothing in common, but we managed to hit it off right away…well not right away. Kelly and I met through our families who happened to share a mutual friend and vacationed together. We were also both cheerleaders. Kelly because she looked hot in those teeny skirts and me because I could lift 100 pounds above my head without a sweat.

Let me paint a little picture of the three six graders we were.

I was a jock. I cut my own bangs on a weekly basis until I literally had a buzz in the bang area. I typically wore short-sleeved, button-down, collared shirts, unbuttoned to show my even looser white Fruit of the Loom undershirt or a T-shirt with some silly sayings on it. I always rolled up sleeves like James Dean minus the biceps and cigarettes, and I wore school-appropriate hemmed jean shorts and some kind of athletic sandal with ample amounts of unnecessary Velcro. Thank Heavens I was funny otherwise I would have had zero friends. Superlative: Most Humorous

Jenny, who I knew very little about at the time, was cute. She had dimples, a plump and naturally pouty bottom lip, fine blonde hair, long skinny legs, and big feet in comparison to her tiny little body. She always kept us guessing on her clothing. One day she wore sunny yellow shorts and a sassy white tank with Birkenstock sandals, and the next she busted out a partially spandex blue plaid sundress and tennis shoes and socks. She was not afraid! Superlative: Nicest

Then there was Kelly (insert in music from the scene of a movie where the hot girl comes walking down the hallway holding her books and all the boys stop in their track to look at her). She came right out of the elementary gates with a gorgeous, developed body, long, bouncy hair that she never had to “do” and always fell directly where it would had someone placed it while doing a photo shoot. She looked all too much like Alicia Silverstone during the release of Clueless. I mean she could bat her eyes are the hottest guy in school, and he was hers. Superlative: Most Attractive

Recess at our middle school was going into the bus lot and socializing. I remember looking up the hill everyday and seeing Jenny sitting alone on the curb just waiting for the subpar recess to end so she could get back into being Teacher’s Pet. One day Kelly and I were hanging out, and I asked “What’s up with your friend Jenny up there?” We decided to go and chat with her. She was wearing tight little skinny jeans in 1993 and an American flag hoodie. I do not mean one with an American flag on the front. The entire thing was printed like one giant American flag. Instantly Jenny was defensive. I can imagine questions like “Why is hot friend hanging out with aggressive jock? Why is aggressive jock pretending to be nice to me? What the heck is the deal with aggressive jocks bangs? Can’t hot friend explain to aggressive jock that buzzed bangs are just plain creepy?”

Needless to say, I grew on her; she has been by my side for every major event in my life. There is a bond between the three of us that nothing can break. To this day, we are all completely different people, in different places in our lives, with different believes but with one thing in common. We all three love each other unconditionally.

The best way for us to have expressed this love was via our high school rings. Well, I can think of a dozen more practical, less expensive, more fashionable ways not but in 1999, this was our way! We were all three about to go to separate colleges. Kelly got into UGA (brat! She was hot and smart), Jenny decided on West Georgia and I opted for University of Tennessee (Go Vols!). We knew we could stay connected with our high school rings, and we would wear them FOREVER or at least until the middle of the summer after our graduation. For me, this was actually an accessory upgrade. Jenny, Kelly and I decided to have “JKM” engraved on the inside of all of our rings. The cool thing about these rings is how personal they could be.

Just the other day, I found my nerdy husband’s class ring in my parent’s basement (yes- you are not crazy…that IS a weird place to find your husband’s class ring). I was excited to bring it home to him to put into his memory box. When I got it home, we both pulled out our rings and looked at them. Mine had the Norcross Blue Devil on one side and a golf emblem on the other since I was proudly a member of the Varsity golf team for four years (flashback to shaved bangs, hemmed knee length jean shorts and Velcro sandals). The golf team didn’t do a lot to increase my non-jock, feminine stance. Ugh…once a jock, always a jock. I showed Blake the “JKM” on the inside. Then we looked at his. His had the same Norcross Blue Devil on one side and wait for it….Yosemite Sam on the other side. “Blake, why Yosemite Sam?” I just knew there had to be a good story to back this up, and I was dying to hear it. “Everyone had to get Yosemite Sam on one side,” he told me. “Um, baby, why would anyone, much less everyone be entitled to having Yosemite Sam on their high school class ring?” The room went silent. I looked at Blake trying to figure out what in the world would lead him to this horrible and random decision. “I don’t know babe, I just don’t know.” It was one of those times that the conversation simply had to end with no explanation. Superlative: Most Likely to be Talked about Behind Class Ring Saleman’s Back (“Dude, I totally just convinced that guy to get Yosemite Sam on his ring- hahahaha.”

Anyway, the whole point of this story was to lead into this delicious recipe that Kelly’s mom introduced to us. Jenny and I call Kelly, Fankee (long story-whole different blog post). Her mom made this pasta for us one night when Kelly was visiting from NYC. Jenny and I absolutely fell in love with it. Her version is vegetarian, yet another example of our extreme differences (Exhibit F- Beef section of the blog). I like to add chicken or shrimp. It can be pricey so here are my tricks to bring down the price.

– Get the pine nuts from Costco. You will have a ton of them but they are so good to add into pasta, quinoa, salad, casseroles, etc.

– Get 10oz of spinach from the grocery store ‘price by weight’ salad bar. It is light and is about half the price as the spinach in the salad section.

– Grow your own tomatoes. 🙂

– Since you use the entire container of feta, get the ones that are marked for quick sale. They normally do that when they have three days before sell by date and you will use it all that night.

Swanky Fankee Pasta

Serves 6

Swanky Fankee Pasta

Ingredients:

  •  10 oz. spinach
  • 1 tbs. butter
  • 6 tbs. olive oil
  • 4-5 tbs. pine nuts
  • 7 cloves minced garlic
  • 12 oz. crumbled feta cheese
  • 6 large plum/roma tomatoes sliced
  • 1 lb. penne pasta

Directions:

  1. Cook pasta while sautéing other ingredients so noodles are hot when you mix
  2. Melt butter with 2 tbs. olive oil in a large sauté pan
  3. Sauté pine nuts and garlic for 5-8 minutes or until pine nuts are slightly toasted
  4. Add spinach and tomatoes , sauté until spinach is completely wilted and tomatoes are very soft
  5. Pour mixture over drained pasta
  6. Immediately Add crumbled feta and 4 tbs. olive oil
  7. Stir thoroughly and add some salt and pepper
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Forever Disqualified

Blake and I love the show Chopped on Food Network. When Lottie was in the “she-is-cute-to-look-at-but-does-absolutely-nothing” stage, we always looked forward to cooking dinner. We had tapped out our baby staring-o-mometers and we needed something else to entertain us. We cooked every night. Soon, we became bored with that  as well. One night when we were engaged in the highlight of our week, the new episode of Chopped, it hit me! We can play our own version of the show.

For those of you who are not familiar with the show. Four chefs from around the country compete in a culinary challenge. Each of them are given a “mystery basket” filled with four ingredients. They are given a short limit of time to create a restaurant-worthy dish to present to judges. The worst dish gets “Chopped”, and the remaining chefs move to the next round until there is one winner.

“Foster Chopped” is a little different. At first, Blake and I competed. He gave me a basket, and I gave him one. We made one small plate each, and made honest judgement and against one another. This form of “Foster Chopped” was ended abruptly when I almost put my precious “cute-to-look-at-but-does-absolutely-nothing” infant in the ER.

Blake opened his basket, and I treated him with flank steak, black beans, gnocchi and grapes. He hit me with Kielbasa sausage, pineapple, peanut butter and habenero peppers. At the time, Blake and I were living in a condo on the lake. Outdoor grills were not allowed so we had an indoor grill pan. Definitely more dangerous. I envisioned myself creating an Asian grilled meal with Thai peanut sauce. I just knew I was going to win.

My plan was simple: heat up the grill pan and start grilling. I always saw the likes of Emeril and Bobby Flay grilling up pretty much anything. They always found a way to get that delightful char on the outside of their peppers. I was going for this. The sausage, coated in its Asian style marinade, went on without a hitch. I cut the pineapple into unique shapes just to show off. “Boom” they hit the grill. On to the peppers…

I decided to skewer a few of them. I knew that Habeneros were hot peppers, but I didn’t know how hot. After skewering them up, I tossed them on the hot grill pan inside our less than adeqautely ventilated condo. I immediately turned to finish my peanut sauce ensuring I make every item in the mystery box a stand out. Within 30 seconds, Blake and I were tearing up and coughing, and Lottie went from a peaceful siesta to a screaming rage. I thought for sure we had been gassed. It was the end of the world. This wasn’t just happening to me, but to everyone in the world. “What do we do? Where do we go? Hold your loved ones tightly people.”

“Meredith, are you serious?” I heard my passive and overly kind husband say to me with an unheard of brusque tone. At the time, I am still running through my memory book, and I am cupping my palms over my sweet girls air passage ways to protect her from the deadly fumes. Blake raced over to the grill pan, turns it off, takes my skewer of peppers to the deck and promptly tosses them into the receeding water levels known as Lake Lanier. He walked back in coughing and grabbed Lottie from my arms. He grabbed my hand, nearly ripped my cooking shoulder square out of the socket and guided our little family upstairs and out the front door.

In my still oblivious mind, I am picturing my neighbors racing out their doors in a panic from the world-wide gassing. I was shocked to see it was just Blake, Lottie and me. I peek over at Blake who is looking into our helpless infant’s eyes to make sure she is ok. She is calm at this point. He looks up at me. His look is abnormally unplesant. “Are you serious about grilling whole Habeneros with the seeds?” he asked me in a belittling tone. I peek behind him, then behind me hoping to see others evaucating. Still just us. “Bobby Flay grills peppers all the time,” I say as I run through my Boy Meets Grill Episode schema hoping to picture him grilling a hot pepper. All I see in my mind of memories is green pepper, red pepper and poblano….nothing hot. “Whoops” I say to my disappointed husband and zoned out infant. I knew I had really messed up. The house was a danger zone. Blake went in to turn on the fans and open the windows. I followed him in thinking for sure things would be fine by now. SIX HOURS later, we were able to return to living within the walls of the condo.

From this point on, I have stayed out of the kitchen. I opt for shopping, finding deals and creating challenging mystery baskets for Blake to prepare. I am forever disqualified from “Foster Chopped”. Blake on the other hand has made some amazing dishes. Here are the recipes from the highlights of each basket.

Last week he was given:

Trout
Brazil Nuts
Brussel Sprouts
Apple Sauce

Boom!!! He busted out Bacon Wrapped trout on jalapeno-apple grits and sauteed brussel sprouts. It was amazing!

Chopped Round 1

Bacon Fried Skin-On Trout

Ingredients:

  • 2 skin-on trout filets
  • 4 slices bacon
  • Pinch of salt, pepper, garlic powder/salt

Directions:

  1. Pat the trout dry with paper towels.
  2. Season the trout on both sides with a little salt, pepper, and garlic.
  3. Place 2 slices of bacon on each trout filet on the side without skin, covering the filet.  Bacon should be trimmed to evenly cover the trout in a single layer, let rest for 5-10 minutes.
  4. Heat a saute pan on the stove over medium-high heat.
  5. Place the trout bacon side down in the oil, it should sizzle.
  6. Cook until the bacon is cooked through and a crispy golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.
  7. Flip the trout and cook skin side down in the bacon grease until crispy and golden brown, about 2-3 minutes.

The next night he was given:

Pork Chops
Potatoes
Apricots
Pimento-Jalapeno Cheese

He created Pimento Cheese scalloped potatoes with a saffron, yes real saffron, cream sauce, fried pickles and okra and grilled pork chops with apricot compote. Really dude? How awesome are you?

Foster Chopped Round 2

Fried Okra and Pickles:

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pinch of pepper, garlic powder/salt, cayenne, and paprika
  • 12-16 okra halves
  • 4 pickle spears
  • Oil for frying

Directions:

  1. Mix eggs and milk with a pinch of salt, garlic, cayenne, and paprika.
  2. Place okra and pickles into the egg and milk mixture and toss.
  3. Mix flour, panko, 1 tsp salt, pinch of pepper, garlic, cayenne, and paprika.
  4. Place the soaked okra and pickles into the flour mixture(let excess liquid drain), and toss.  Let sit and set up for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Heat oil to around 375 degrees, until a okra piece really bubbles and sizzles when it is dropped.
  6. Drop the okra and pickles and let fry until they are floating and are a deep golden brown.
  7. Remove the okra and pickles onto a plate or in a bowl lined with paper towels and let sit for 2-3 minutes before eating.

Apricot Balsamic Sauce:

Ingredients:

  • 3 Diced Apricots
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter

Directions:

  1. Heat butter over medium-high heat in a saute pan.
  2. Add in diced apricots and brown sugar, stir.
  3. Cook mixture until it is nicely browned and set, about 3-5 minutes.
  4. When the mixture is cooked and the pan is nice and hot add in the balsamic vinegar, it should sizzle and simmer rapidly.
  5. Let the sauce cook together and reduce by about 1/3rd.  Add more balsamic if it gets too reduced or thick. 
  6. Serve over meat of choice.

For the final night I thought Blake deserves a really tough basket. I gave him:

Filet Mignon
Mushrooms
Anchovies
Nacho Cheese Doritos

He created Grilled Filets with Caesar Broccoli and zuchini stuffed mushrooms topped with crushed Doritos.

 Dorrito Stuffed Mushrooms

Ingredients:

  • 8 mushrooms caps
  • 1 slice bacon diced
  • 1/2 zucchini and/or squash julienned (cut into thing strings like pasta)
  • 2 tbsp crushed Nacho Cheese Doritos

Directions:

  1. Hollow out mushroom caps, drizzle lightly with olive oil and a pinch of salt and pepper, set aside in a pan lined with olive oil.
  2. Heat diced bacon over medium-high heat until lightly browned, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add julienned zucchini and cook with bacon until entire mixture is browned, about 4 minutes.
  4. Spoon zucchini and bacon mixture into mushrooms.
  5. Preheat oven to 375.
  6. Place mushrooms into the oven and cook until they darken and moisten, about 6 minutes.
  7. Sprinkle crushed dorritos over the mushrooms and cook another 3-4 minutes.
  8. Serve hot.

Food and Meredith Sittin’ in a Tree

I want to preface this post by saying that this may be a little more serious than most of my overly-adjectived blog stories. Typically after making what we feel like is a blog worthy dinner, we discuss a story that leads into or makes us think about the recipe at hand. Before we know it, the recipe is in the shadows of a funny experience. So I will disclose, this post may lack humor, but it won’t be sad either. It is simply allowing you as a reader to get to know a little bit more about me and perhaps understand my healthy relationship with food. Feel free to scroll past personal story to killer, healthy, Weight Watchers “Anything Marinade”. No offense will be taken.

Chapter 1 of 1:

I have struggled with my weight for most of my life. I won’t say I was a fat kid because I wasn’t. I attribute that to my endless energy and hand-eye coordination. I know what you are thinking…”What does hand-eye coordination have to do with not being fat?” Well, in my opinion, if you are 12 and under and live under the same roof as a PE teacher with insane natural athletic ability, an avid golfer of a dad and an incredibly competitive brother who has the ability to become a professional in whatever sport he begins to play, and you add hand-eye coordination into the mix, you are bound to burn a massive amount of calories in your day-to-day schedule. This was me.

It wasn’t until high school when I began to drive that I began to have an unhealthy relationship with food. Food became the center of my world. I constantly thought about what meal was next, where it was from and when I was going to eat it. I will admit that my family can cook a great meal. My mom cooked for us all the time and when dad cooked, it was something southern… I mean white gravy-white biscuit-deep fat fried southern. Don’t worry, this has not been eliminated, but it is no longer a weekly treat.

My great-grandmother, Lottie, (yes that is where my Lottie’s name came from) and her husband Bob owned a restaurant in High Point, NC called River Road Inn. Though my brother, my cousins, Jeff and Brad, and I (zero percent chance that comma use is correct) never had the chance to truly experience River Road, it is a big part of our lives. We have lived stories our in our heads that have been told in detail by our parents. We cook with the cast iron pans that were used in the kitchen there. This place was a landmark. If you talk to anyone who lives in Greensboro, High Point or any of the surrounding areas  and are between the ages of 50-70, they will know about the River Road. The will know that they paid minimal money for the best fried chicken, whole flounder, hamburger steak, hand cut french fries and homemade apple cobbler in the world. It was here that my daddy learned to cook this delicious food that I fell in love with.

My life revolved around food in a bad way for a long time. Each morning on my way to high school, I chose between two breakfast options: 1/2 dozen chocolate donut gems and an Orange Fanta from the BP station if I was running late or a bacon, egg and cheese biscuit and a Coke from the Magnolia Bakery Cafe if I had time to run in somewhere and wait on a hot meal. Most of the days, either of these meals didn’t touch my hunger level, so I would run through the school cafeteria to top off my stomach cavity and make sure I was uncomfortably full. Next was school lunch. I was in school when the cafeterias were much less nutritionally-conscience, and even if a healthy food was offered, I steered clear. I would leave school and my addiction to food would kick in again. I was a tomboy-hippie, so I didn’t care much about my body. Most of my hippie skirts were elastic-waisted and floral coated so I could be a size 2 or a size 20 and people would see me the same. Almost daily, I pulled through the McDonald’s right off of our campus and ordered a combo meal and ate while driving my friends to their houses. This cycle continued, and I left for the University of Tennessee in 1999 at a weak 175. I am 5 foot 3.

To not bore you with the details, I gained more than the freshman 15. By the end of 1999, I weighed over 200 pounds. I will never forget the day I went to my obgyn, and he showed me that I landed in the extremely obese category. I was 19. It was then that I decided to change my life. I moved to Colorado, focused my life on the outdoors, ate only when I was hungry and became healthy. After a few years I moved away from Colorado to Wilmington, NC where natural activity was lessened. Any guesses for what happened? Gained weight again……. (fill in several life experiences and give or take a few 20 pound weight fluctuations).

I met Blake (when I was 170), and we fell in love. We decided to get married…. Any guesses to what me and my unhealthy relationship with food did? Virtually stopped eating anything besides steamed vegetables and raw fruit for six solid months to look “beautiful” (aka skeletal and boney) in my wedding photos. Ugh looking back, I wish I looked like me, healthy Meredith, and not Skeletor in my wedding photos. I weighed 204 in 1999 and 104 in 2007. Hello unhealthy!

After we got married and I had Lottie, I feel like I have developed a healthy relationship with food. I accredit that 100% to Weight Watchers. I think Weight Watchers is a lifestyle, not a diet. I do not count points, though I would in a heart beat if I got above my comfortable weight. It works. I have seen a huge change in my friend Sean who has lost 65-70 lbs since November 2011, redeveloped a relationship with exercise and met the woman of his dreams. My mom who is shrinking away by the day and numerous other friends who have created healthy relationships with food with the help of Weight Watchers.

My mom and I have talked WW all summer. We are really into it. Tonight she introduced me to the most simple and wonderful marinade for salmon, pork, chicken, steak or tofu. She calls it the “Anything Marinade”. It is delicious and only adds 0.25 points to any meal.  We used it on Salmon where we would normally use a brown sugar based marinade. It was awesome!

The “Anything Marinade”

“Anything Marinated” Salmon

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Directions:

  1. Mix ingredients
  2. Marinate chosen protein
  3. Baste protein with excess
  4. Enjoy!

Saucey Pants

I am on a constant search for the perfect sauce. My definition of perfect, as it relates to a sauce, is something that doesn’t have a lot of ingredients, isn’t fancy, doesn’t cost too much and can be used on several different meats or vegetables. I am pretty sure I have found it.

When I make pork tenderloin, my” go-to” flavors are BBQ sauce or Paul Newman’s Olive Oil and Vinegar salad dressing. As a pulled the tenderloin out of the freezer the other morning, I knew neither of the above were going to cut it. I wanted something bold, clean, and slightly citrusy. I found a similar recipe and browsed my pantry.

The result of what I created is PERFECT! We had it on pork, but I think it would add a great spin on fish, beef or chicken. It would be delightful on grilled shrimp thrown into a salad.

The PERFECT Marinade

The PERFECT sauce

Ingredients

– 1 can (8 oz.) pineapple juice

– 1/3 cup fresh lime juice

– 1 tbsp lime zest

– ¼ cup orange marmalade

– 3 tbsp Hoisin sauce

– 2 tsp minced garlic

– 1 tsp Dijon mustard

– ¾ tsp ground ginger

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients into a sauce pan and bring to a boil. Boil 5-6 minutes or until mixture is thickened.
  2. Coat meat or veggies of your choice in marinade and prepare.

*We used ½ on our grilled pork tenderloin and used the other half as the sauce on the plate*

Curry in a Hurry

I rarely cook. Typically, I buy the groceries and bring them home for Blake to use. He is just a million times better than me at cooking. He is the “a little of this a little of that” type of chef. I am the OCD type that reads the entire recipe, measures everything out and puts in into little bowls, prechops everything and THEN I start cooking. It’s definitely an ordeal.

The other night I was flipping through Cooking Light when I found a healthy and fast Indian Curry dish. It said 20 minutes. I begged to differ knowing my cooking style. I made a few changes to suit our tastes, and believe it or not, had it done in 27 minutes flat!

Be warned, it is pretty spicy, but you can alter the amount of crushed red pepper that you choose to add. Blake loves it miserable-hot, so I took one for the team. Happy Eating!

Bombay Indian Curry with Shrimp and Filet Mignon

Serves 4
Total Cost- $8.80
Total Cost per person- $2.20

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sales used in this recipe-

Spices from Big Lots, Filet at Costco, frozen shrimp from Costco, Frozen veggies $0.50 off

Ingredients

–  1/4 cup Canola oil

–  1/2 lb peeled a deveined shrimp

–  1/2 lb steak- cubed

–  3/4 tsp salt

–  1/4 tsp black pepper

–  1 1/2 small onion chopped (buy prechopped to save time)

–  1 1/2 tbsp curry powder

–  1 tbsp mustard seed

– 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon (don’t overdo this)

– 1/8 tsp ground red pepper (more or less to heat liking)

– 1 1/3 cup hot water

– 1 cup frozen mixed veggies

Directions:

1. Heat 2 tsp canola oil in Dutch at medium high heat.

2. Salt and pepper shrimp and cook on both sides until just underdone.

3. Remove from pan and repeat process with steak. Remove from pan.

4. Reduce heat to medium, add remaining oil.

5. Add onion and cook until translucent.

6. Add remaining salt, curry powder, cinnamon, mustard seeds and red pepper. Cook one minute. Stir constantly.

7. Add hot water and frozen veggies and bring to a boil.

8. Cover and reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 4 minutes.

9. Add shrimp and steak back to pan and cook one minute.

10. Enjoy!

*** Serve with rice***

FUN TIP: When you cook your rice, replace some of the liquid with light coconut milk for a more authentic Indian flavor.

Showing Off

Well, I did it again. I decided I was going to cook for the family. I guess the summer thing is leaving with me too much time on my hands and too many food magazines for inspiration. I am initially inspired by home grown produce in the summer, then by magazine recipes. I absolutely love the concept of fruit and fish.

When my father in law visits, he typically brings us something fresh from a road side stand from his drive down. The last visit came with peaches. I could smell a ripe peach for hours. It is definitely on my top 10 list of favorite smells, toward the bottom, but still on it.

I knew I wanted salmon, and I knew I wanted peaches, but I had to figure out how to combine them. I went with salmon with a peach salsa. We had two home grown tomatoes, some fresh basil, a perfectly ripe avocado and red sea salt I picked up on sale the other day. In about 25 minutes, I had dish that was gorgeous. I will admit, I was showing off a bit with this one.

Salmon with Peach Salsa

Serves 4
Total Cost- $19.90
Total per person- $4.98

Salmon with Peach Salsa

Sales used in this recipe- Free peaches, free tomatoes, free basil, red sea salt on clearance at William Sonoma, salmon from Costco, buy one get one free olive oil at Publix

 

 

 

 

 

Ingredients-

– 4 filets of salmon
– 3 tbsp olive oil
– 1/2 ripe avocado, cubed
– one tomato, seeded and cubed
– one ripe peach, peeled and cubed
– 3 tbsp chopped basil
– 1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeded (if desired)
– 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
– 1 tsp lemon juice
– 1 tsp coarse sea salt
– 1 tsp cracked pepper

Directions-

Peach Salsa
1. Combine avacado, tomato, peach, basil, lime and lemon juice, jalapeno, salt and pepper and a tbsp of olive oil in a bowl.
2. Put int he refrigerator for. 10 minutes at least

Salmon
1. Pat the salmon filets dry and allow them to reach room temperature.
2. Rub them on both sides with olive oil.
3. Sprinkle with a good sea salt and cracked pepper.
4. Sprinkle with a little lemon juice.
5. Turn grill to medium high heat and spray grill grids generously with butter spray.
6. Cook salmon for 5 minutes on each side or to your liking.
7. Top with peach salsa and enjoy.

***We ran out of propane, so we broiled the salmon for 7 minutes on each side, and it was good this way as well. I just like to grill in the summer, so that was my first choice in preparation.

A Crustacean and a Bivalve Sittin’ In a Dish….

I love south eastern coastal towns. To me, they are filled with the most inviting and peaceful landscapes on earth. I often picture myself freshly showered with damp hair which was minimally brushed with the expectation that the salt air would take control of it anyway, wearing a white sundress and walking down a sandy boardwalk at dawn. As the sea grass identifies the direction of the wind and the waves reinforce it, I begin to think. My mind wanders into space.

As I reach the end of the board walk and start walking down the beach, I climb to the top of the wooden life guard stand and have a seat. I begin to observe my surroundings. The beach is graced with the families that are soaking in every minute on the shoreline. They still have their umbrellas, beach balls and chairs out and it is clear they have been relocated a dozen times based on the changing of tides. There are also new and old couples walking hand in hand waiting on the increased romance that a sunset over the ocean delivers. There are grandparents and their grandchildren filling sand buckets with sea shells and a few frat boys playing Bocce Balls getting just a little too rowdy.

At this point, I take a giant breath and think to myself “Where am I going to go to eat some Shrimp and Grits?” After all, south eastern coastal towns specialize in their Shrimp and Grits and being a girl who consumes an average of two bowls of grits a day, this dish is right up my alley.

Shrimp and Scallops and Grits

Serves 4

Total Price- $12.08

Total Price per Person- $3.02

Average Retail Price- $25.23

Total Savings- $13.15


Ingredients

– 1 small onion-cubed

– ½ red pepper -cubed

– ½ green pepper- cubed

– 10inches Andouille sausage- cubed

– 12 medium-large shrimp

– 12 sea scallops

– 1/2 can beef consume

– 1 ½ cup of water

– ½ package Au jus mix

– 1 tbsp garlic- minced

– 2 tbsp oil

– 2 tbsp butter

– 4 servings of grits

Directions

1. Combine 1/2 packet of au jus mix with 1/2 the suggested cold water on the packet

2. Heat 1 tbsp oil and 1 tbsp butter in a large saute pan or pot over medium high heat

3. Place chopped onion, pepper, garlic, and sausage in the pot and cook for 8-10 minutes stirring often

4. Add 1/2 can beef consume, 1 cup of the au jus mix, and 1/2 cup of water to the pot, bring to a boil

5. Reduce the liquid by 2/3 until it thickens

6. Taste the sauce and add water 1/4 cup at a time if it is too salty for your taste.  This is a salty dish and the bland grits will help to delude the salt

7. Heat the remaining oil and butter in a large saute pan over high heat

8. Sear the scallops and shrimp, turning once, and set aside

9. Cook 4 servings of grits and separate into bowls

10. Pour the sauce evenly into the bowls, and top with shrimp and scallops

11. Serve immediately

Sales used in this recipe-

Costco- Kirkland’s brand shrimp- $15.99/6 lbs frozen

Costco- Kirkland’s brand sea scallops- $21.99/ 4lbs frozen

*** (I can honestly say that the frozen shrimp and scallops at Costco are as good as any I have had and the savings are HUGE)***

Ingles- Au jus package- BOGO

Ingles- Beef Consume- BOGO

Swimming Upstream

For a long time, I refused to cook salmon at home. I always found it
to be too expensive for what it was, and when I made it, it was so
fishy tasting. The weird thing was that when I went to
restaurant, I loved to order salmon, and it was never fishy.

One day at Costco, I decided to get some salmon that was frozen (less than $3 per serving). I always get the frozen scallops and shrimp from Costco,  and
they are always delicious. Buying this salmon was the best thing I
have ever done for my bank account, palate and waistline. I literally
have been eating it 3-5 nights a week. Blake makes this amazing brown
sugar and dill marinade, and then we broil it. It is so good and crispy.
Sometimes we put it on a sandwich and add bacon, but my favorite is to
serve it with a trendy grain(in this case a bed of cauliflower) and some steamed broccoli. This tops my recipes as my favorite!!!

Brown Sugar and Dill Broiled Salmon on a Bed of Cauliflower

Serves- 4
Total Price- $11.40
Total per person- $2.85
Average Retail- $37.96
Total Savings-  $26.56


Ingredients

– 4 filets of salmon

– 2 tsp. olive oil

– 1 1/2 tablespoon mayo

– 2 tsp lemon juice

– 1/2 cup brown sugar

– 1 cup chicken broth

– 1/2 cup water

– 2 tsp. dill (dried)

Directions-

Preheat oven to broil- place top rack 4-5 inches from top.

Make sure it is all the way preheated before you put the fish in the oven.

Dry Salmon pieces before starting.

1. Put all ingredients in a medium saucepan.

2. Turn on medium to high heat and whisk until blended.

3. Bring to a boil until reduced by 80%.

4. Add tsbp of Rum (optional)

5. Reduce until it is the consistency of syrup.

6. Put in a bowl to cool.

7. Coat salmon pieces in sauce.

8. Line a baking pan with aluminum foil and spray with non-stick spray.

9. Place salmon in pan.

10. Drizzle more sauce on top of each salmon.

11. Broil 7 minutes on one side and flip.

12. Drizzle remaining sauce and broil for 7 more minutes until crispy.

13. Serve hot!!!

*TIP: If the sauce reduces too much and becomes like molasses add chicken stock or water 1/2 tbsp at a time and stir until it is the desired thickness.*

Sales on this meal:

Salmon-Costco- 8 pieces for $22

Brown Sugar- Publix- BOGO

Mayo- Publix- BOGO

Which Came First…The Quail or The Egg?

My family is crazy about eggs. We eat all kinds of them. We like the tiny and colorful ones used to decorate sushi rolls. We like chicken eggs, Easter eggs, and  Cadbury eggs. We REALLY love quail eggs. They are so yummy and delicate. We put them on top of a lot of dishes, but my favorite is seared scallops. Blake is determined that the reason it is my favorite is because of my OCD. I do have to admit, I really getting a warm and fuzzy feeling inside when I see the fried egg cover the scallop perfectly; not too big and not too small. They just seem to be good matches.

Seared Scallops with Fried Quail Eggs

(Appetizer, but can be Entree if you add more scallops)

Serves 2

Total Price- $2.94

Total Price per Person – $1.47

Average Retail Price- $5.18

Total Savings- $2.24

Seared Scallops and Fried Quail Eggs

Ingredients

-8 medium to large sea scallops

-8 quail eggs

-¼ cup of micro greens

-2 tbsp butter

-Dash of olive oil and vinegar

-Salt/pepper

-Dash of Sriracha

* We  melt butter to drizzle on ours*

Scallops

  1. It is imperative that the scallops are brought to room temperature and patted dry, very dry.
  2. Then sprinkle the scallops with salt and pepper and any other seasoning you like.
  3. Put 2 tbsp butter and a dash of olive oil (the olive oil is not for the flavor but to prevent the butter from burning) in a pan and bring to medium to high heat.
  4. Wait until the pan is extremely hot and add the scallops. Make sure they are at least 2 inches apart so that they sear rather than steam.
  5. Cook on the first side for 3 minutes. DO NOT MOVE THE SCALLOPS.
  6. Flip and cook other side for 1-2 minutes.
  7. You can touch scallops to feel if they are ready. They should be soft enough that they smush in when you push them, but not firm.

Quail Eggs

  1. Heat a thin layer of oil in a pan to medium-high heat.
  2. Crack the quail eggs and place them in a very small bowl.  Make sure to do this before you crack into the pan to get any shell out.  It works well to use a sharp knife and cut a small clean slit into the shell before cracking.
  3. Place the quail eggs in the oil and cook until all of the white is cooked through without flipping.
  4. Use a spatula to transfer the quail eggs from the pan to a plate keeping the yolk side up.  Place one on top of each scallop.

Fried Quail Eggs

Plating

  1. Melt some butter to put on the base of the plate.
  2. Then place the scallops.
  3. Top each scallop with a fried quail egg yolk side up.
  4. Toss micro greens in a little oil and vinegar, sprinkle with salt and pepper and use for garnish. If you have Edamame beans, they look pretty on the plate. Drizzle some Sriracha in the butter for a nice touch.

Savings for this meal

Scallops- $18.99 for 4lb. at Costco

Quail Eggs- $2.99/ 18 eggs at Super H Mart

Appetizers Make the Stomach Grow Fonder

I LOVE appetizers! When I get home from work, Blake and I generally work on an appetizer so we have something to munch on until Lottie goes to bed. I feel like appetizers are under-used and under-appreciated in American homes. When people go out to dinner, they normally eat an appetizer, but not so often at home.

For this reason, I am going to post more appetizers on the blog. I used to eat at J. Alexander’s restaurant a lot. For the mere price of $12.95, you and your dining partner can share a smoked salmon dip appetizer. $12.95! What is in it? Saffron? Black Truffles? Johnny Walker Blue?

Anyway, I knew it was time to recreate it at home and that is what we did. It is delish!

SMOKED SALMON DIP

Serves 4

Total Price $3.54

Price per Person $0.88

Average Retail Price $8.07

Total Savings $4.53

Smoked Salmon Dip

6/8oz fresh salmon (Super H $4.99/lb Average Retail $7.99/lb)

1 tsp Liquid Smoke (Publix $0.79 with manufactures $0.50 off McCormick’s spices, doubled to $1.00 off. Average Retail $1.79)

¼ cup red onion, finely diced (Super H $0.79/lb Average Retail $1.99/lb)

1 tbsp capers (Publix, $0.99 with manufactures $0.50 off, doubled to $1.00 off Average Retail $1.99)

1 tbsp fresh dill (FREE Garden Average Retail- $3.99/pkg)

¼ cup mayonnaise (Publix Buy one, get one Free $4.38/2)

1 tbsp sour cream (Publix Buy one get one FREE $2.09/2 Average Retail $2.09/1)

½ loaf French bread, sliced and toasted (Ingles 50% off day old bread- $0.99 Average Retail $2.99)

  1. Bake the salmon in the oven at 425 degrees for 9-11 minutes or until cooked to your liking.
  2. Allow salmon to cool for 30 minutes.
  3. In a bowl, mix all ingredients except bread.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  5. Serve with French bread slices.