Free Range Nurse

Cooking therapy from a former travel nurse

Bay Scallop (or shrimp, or chicken, or…) Fried Rice February 12, 2011

Filed under: dinner,lunch,seafood — freerangenurse @ 9:13 am

Bay Scallop Fried Rice
I have been eyeing this recipe for fried rice for quite awhile.  I’ve made fried rice before, but it never seemed to come out right.  It always ended up kind of mushy and clumpy and not what I hoped for.  Then I came across a recipe on Steamy Kitchen that also included some helpful hints in making fried rice.  One of the tips was to make the rice a day or two in advance and let it dry out a bit in the fridge.  Then, the problem was I never remembering to make rice a day before I actually wanted to eat it.  Finally, the other day, while I was making fish tacos, I remembered to go ahead and make some rice, too.  Once it cooled, I put it in the fridge to use today.  The results were so much better than my previous tries.  I did make a few changes to the recipe and ran it through the weight watchers points calculator for you.  I calculated the points by dividing the total recipe by 4 servings, but it could easily feed 5 people, depending on how much you eat.

Total weight watchers points for 1/4 recipe is 11.  This is based on scallops.  Naturally, this will vary based on what you use for the protein.

Bay Scallop Fried Rice

adapted from Jaden Hair’s recipe at Steamy Kitchen


  • 1/2 tsp corn starch
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt
  • 10 ounces bay scallops, white muscle removed
  • 3 tablespoons grapeseed or canola oil, divided (I use grapeseed, because it has a higher smoke point than canola)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 3 1/2 cups white rice, grains well separated
  • 1 cup sugar snap peas
  • 1/3 cup carrots, julienned
  • 1/2  red bell pepper, julienned
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

In a medium bowl, toss the scallops, salt and cornstarch, let it sit for about 10 minutes at room temperature.  Heat a large wok over high heat.  Once the pan is hot enough for a bead of water to instantly sizzle and evaporate, add 1 tablespoon of the cooking oil and swirl to coat the pan.  Add the scallops, quickly spreading them out around the pan so that they are not overlapping.  Let the scallops sear undisturbed for 30 seconds, then flip them to cook on the other side for another 30 seconds, or so.  Remove the scallops onto a plate and set aside, leaving as much of the oil as possible.  I use a large, round, flat, slotted spoon for this.  Don’t worry if they aren’t cooked all the way through, you’ll finish them up at the end.

Turn the heat down to medium and let the pan heat up again.  Pour in the eggs and stir to scramble.  When the eggs are almost cooked through (they should still be slightly runny in the middle), remove them from the pan onto the same plate as the scallops.

Clean out the wok with a paper towel (I had to wash it as bits of egg were stuck to the bottom) and heat up again over high heat with 1/2 tablespoon cooking oil, swirling it around the pan.  Sauté the sugar snap peas for about a minute until crisp and bright green, remove to plate.  Add remaining oil and let the wok heat up again, then add the rice, quickly spreading the grains around the wok’s surface, then leave them there, undisturbed until you hear the grains sizzle, about 1-2 minutes.  Use the spatula to toss the rice, again spreading the rice out over the surface of the wok.

Drizzle the soy sauce all around the rice and toss.  Add the red pepper and carrots and toss.  Let the rice sizzle again, then add the scallops, egg and peas back to the pan along with the sesame oil.  Toss to mix the rice with the other ingredients, then let everything sit and get hot again.  The rice grains should get so hot, they practically dance!  Taste and add additional soy sauce, if needed.  Enjoy!!

Note:  Additional tips for fried rice success from Steamy Kitchen

  1. Use previously chilled leftover rice
  2. High heat is essential in cooking fried rice
  3. Fry ingredients separately, or they will all taste the same
  4. In order to properly fry rice, you have to leave it alone and allow it to get hot enough.  Otherwise, the grains break and release more starch, resulting in clumpy, sticky rice.

Moroccan Carrot Soup February 1, 2011

Filed under: lunch,soup — freerangenurse @ 4:38 pm

Moroccan Carrot Soup

This morning I woke up to the sound of rain and wind pounding my house.  The cold front that was promised has definitely moved in!  The temperature had dropped from a very spring-like 78 yesterday to a wintery (for central Texas) 35 and falling.  Tonight we are supposed to be in the teens!  I had a feeling this pseudo spring was going to be short lived.  I don’t know about you, but when Jack Frost is nipping at my nose, all I want is a warm bowl of comfort called soup.  In a happy little bit of serendipity, I came across this recipe for carrot soup and decided to try it.  I ran the recipe through the old points program and it is VERY points friendly!  You can eat half the recipe for a mere 7 points!!!  That would be about 2 cups of soup.  Best of all, it has such a wonderful sweet, smokey, subtly spicy flavor.  I’m wishing I had made a double batch!  The addition of a little plain non-fat yogurt really ups the richness factor, too and it is included in the points value!  I hope you’ll like it as much as I do!

Moroccan Carrot Soup

adapted from Epicurious
Moroccan Carrot Soup

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup chopped white onion
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1/2 inch dice
  • 2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth (I used veggie)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/2 cup plain, non-fat yogurt, stirred to loosen (you could also use greek yogurt for a little extra punch)
  • kosher salt and white pepper to taste (you could use black, but I used white, so it wouldn’t show)

Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat until browned.  Add onion; sauté 2 minutes.  Stir in carrots and sauté another minute or two.  Add broth; bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover and let simmer until carrots are very tender, about 20-25 minutes.

In a small skillet, heat cumin seeds over medium-high heat until fragrant and toasted, about 4 minutes; cool.  Finely grind in a spice mill or a molcajete (see photo).

Remove the soup from heat and using an immersion blender, puree until smooth.  You could also use a blender or a Ninja (I love my Ninja).  Whisk in honey, lemon juice, and allspice.  Season with salt and pepper.

Ladle into soup bowl and spoon a dollop of yogurt over (about 1/8 cup per cup of soup).  Sprinkle generously with cumin.  Feel warm and fuzzy inside!!
Moroccan Carrot Soup


Slow and Steady Wins The Race? January 27, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 4:32 pm

I am in week four of my year of me and so far I am down 5 pounds.  Not exactly where I want to be, but it’s better than five pounds up, I guess.  I am still having a hard time eating all the points I’m given.  Part of the problem is reminding myself to eat breakfast.  I’m just not hungry until about 11:00 and by then, it’s lunch time.  I am eating breakfast most days, but since I am choosing healthy options, I only tend to spend 5 or 6 points on that meal.  My snacks are usually veggies or fruit or the rare baked chips and salsa.  Lunch is usually light, consisting of a turkey sandwich or fish and sauteed veggies, dinner is the most points heavy with 10-11 points.  All told, I generally eat 27-29 points per day.

I really am trying to convince myself that it’s not about the weight, it’s about getting healthy.  Really, that is my goal, but part of being healthy is not being so overweight.  I want to start seeing the results of all my efforts.  I want my body to fall into line and start dropping weight that reflects the changes I’ve made.  I want to feel like I can use my flex points one week and not worry that it’ll mean that I gain weight.  Normal people eat queso once in a while and don’t have to sweat that it will undo all of the healthy choices they’ve made that week.  I read on the Weight Watchers site that they want you to use their flex points and that the program is designed for you to use them and still lose weight, but I just don’t trust that it will happen, yet.  Maybe once I have a loss over three pounds, I’ll believe it.  Although, knowing me, it’ll just make me more driven to work harder and go for 4 pounds.

Look, I know I didn’t get here overnight and I’m not going to reach my goal in a blink either.  I’m just sharing with you, cyberworld, the frustrations that come with changing one’s life.  I blame this latest mood swing on the gym showing the best places for nachos on the big screen t.v.!

Peace and healthy eating!


Miracle Lasagna

Filed under: dinner — freerangenurse @ 5:40 am

Turkey Lasagna
Why is my lasagna a miracle?  Well, for one, it is Weight Watchers reasonable.  Secondly (and most unbelievably), it has vegetables that went undetected by my husband, who NEVER eats vegetables.  Oh sure, he picked the big chunks of vegetable out, but the ones in the sauce actually made it where no vegetable has gone before.  I found the recipe in a special issue of Cuisine Magazine called Cuisine Lite.  I made one or two modifications to suit my taste, so feel free to do the same.

Total WW points for one serving (and the servings are pretty large) is 10 points!  Bonus is that there are so many vegetables in there, so you’ll get to track all those power foods!

Three-Cheese Turkey Lasagna

adapted from Cuisine Lite

  • 9 dry lasagna sheets
  • large container of baby spinach
  • 3/4 pound ground turkey breast
  • 1 tsp. canola oil
  • 1/2 cup each chopped onion and carrot
  • 12 ounces mushrooms, divided and chopped into medium pieces
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, diced
  • 1/2 zucchini, diced
  • 1 can low-sodium diced tomatoes, drained (14.5 ounces)
  • 1 Tbs. dried Italian herbs
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • 1 can low-sodium tomato sauce (8 oz), divided
  • 1 1/2 cups 2% cottage cheese
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella, divided (8 oz)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan Reggiano

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil.  Add lasagna sheets to the boiling water.  Cook for 8 minutes, drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking.

Brown the turkey in a large non-stick skillet coated with non-stick spray, over medium-high heat.  Mince onion, carrot, mushrooms, and garlic in a food processor or Ninja blender, add it to browned turkey in a skillet.  Cook until vegetables soften, 5 minutes.  Stir in diced tomatoes, dried herbs, pepper flakes, and black pepper.  Simmer for 3 minutes.

In a large skillet, saute remaining mushrooms (cut into medium pieces), red and yellow bell pepper, and zucchini with 1 tsp olive oil, until browned and tender.  Add spinach and cook until wilted. Remove from heat.

Spread 2 Tbsp. tomato sauce in the bottom of an 8-inch, 2 quart square baking dish.  Add remaining tomato sauce to bolognese in skillet, stir until combined.  Remove the bolognese from heat and set aside.

Pulse cottage cheese, 1 cup mozzarella, and the egg in a food processor until smooth; set aside.

Layer 4 lasagna sheets over the tomato sauce, overlapping sheets and cutting ends off to fit.  Reserve cut pieces for top layer.  Spread 1/3 of the bolognese over lasagna sheets; top with half of the cheese sauce followed by half of the vegetable/spinach mix.  Repeat layers and top with another 1/3 of the bolognese, remaining cheese sauce and remaining veggie/spinach mix..  Top with remaining whole lasagna sheet and cut lasagna pieces, remaining bolognese, remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and the Parmesan.  Bake the lasagna for 25 minutes until the topping is browned.  Remove from the oven and let rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Cut lasagna into 6 servings.  Enjoy!

Notes:  We were not able to use all of the cheese and sauce because our square baker was not tall enough.  The result was still plenty filling and plenty tasty.


Who Wants Beef! January 19, 2011

Filed under: beef,dinner,lunch — freerangenurse @ 9:04 pm

Chipotle Rubbed Flank Steak
Eating healthier has me eating mostly fish and chicken, but once in a while, you need some meat! I have picked up a few new cooking magazines to give me inspiration and was happy to see a recipe for chipotle rubbed flank steak with a apricot whiskey glaze in my Cuisine Lite Magazine. I grilled the steak on my cast iron grill along with a mushroom medley of portabello, crimini, and baby bella mushrooms. I sliced it thin and made a sandwich using Oroweat Sandwich thins, spinach leaves and an ounce of brie. It was the perfect midnight dinner for my night shift at work, but I’d bet it would work any other time, too.

Chipotle rubbed Flank Steak
Of course, I started to photograph it for the blog, but then was in a hurry to finish it up before work and didn’t get a picture of the finished sandwich, but I think the meat speaks for itself.

Total Weight Watchers points: 13

What I used (adapted from the Cuisine Lite recipe)

  • 1 1/2 pound trimmed flank steak (non tenderized)
  • 1/4 cup apricot preserves
  • 3 tablespoons whiskey
  • 1 Tbsp chipotle chili powder (or minced chipotle in adobo)
  • 1 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • Oroweat sandwich thins
  • spinach leaves
  • brie, one ounce per sandwich

Combine whiskey, preserves and chipotle powder (or chipotle chiles), set aside.  In a separate bowl combine brown sugar, chili powder, salt and pepper.  Rub flank steak with spice/sugar blend until well coated.  You will use nearly all of the rub.  Grill the flank steak over medium high heat for 3-4 minutes, then turn and grill the opposite side for 3-4 minutes.  Brush top side of steak with whiskey sauce and grill two minutes more, then flip and brush the opposite side with glaze and grill two minutes more to caramelize both sides of the steak.  Remove from heat and tent with aluminum foil while steak rests.  Grill mushrooms over medium-high heat until cooked through.  Slice meat thinly across the grain and arange 3 ounces on sandwich bun, top with mushrooms, brie and spinach leaves.  Enjoy!


Shrimp Piccata on Pasta January 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — freerangenurse @ 11:15 am

Shrimp Piccata over pasta

Re-learning portions has been an adventure.  It makes me think back to all the bowls (yes, plural) of pasta I used to eat.  Sometimes two bowls of spaghetti in one meal!  Ugh!  It’s embarrassing now, but at the time it was just delicious.  Of course, about 1 minute after the last forkful, it was uncomfortable.  Buttons had to be undone, posture had to be relaxed, because, my brain is apparently a long way from the stretch sensors in my stomach and the telegraph line (you’ve got yours and I’ve got mine… – 10 points if you can tell me the next line) is a little bit slow.  Now that I weigh everything, I can see how much more I was eating over what I should have been eating.  The funny thing is, I’m not any more hungry after dinner now, but I’m also not struggling to take a deep breath and I’m not sluggish and uncomfortable.  A definite improvement!

Tonight’s dinner started out as a bit of an indulgence.  I was wanting pasta with my shrimp and a nice sauce to go with and I had a pretty good amount of points left for dinner.  Once I put the recipe in Weight Watchers Recipe Tracker and made a few tweaks, it actually came out very points friendly at only 11 points per serving, including the pasta!  Did I mention it has wine?  and BUTTER!  I would dare say it has too much butter (cue sound of tires screeching to a halt)!  I dialed back the butter in the recipe below and I bet you won’t miss it, because you’ll still taste it.  So without further ado, here’s your pasta and butter dish!

Shrimp Piccata on Pasta

(makes 4 servings)

adapted from Epicurious

  • 1 pound of shrimp (I used pre-cooked, peeled shrimp)
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cups white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup capers, rinsed and drained
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/3 cups fat free, reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 8 ounces capellini
  • I also added some red bell pepper, diced (for color)

Bring some water to boil in a large pot.  Once boiling, add pasta and cook until al dente.  Remove from heat, but do not drain.

While the pasta is cooking, combine 1 Tbsp of the butter with the flour to make a thick paste, set aside.  Heat wine, stock, garlic, and lemon juice over medium heat until boiling.  Add flour/butter mixture and whisk until incorporated.  Continue to boil until thickened, about 2 minutes.  Add the capers, parsley, remaining butter (red peppers, if you are using them) and shrimp and toss to coat.  Heat only until shrimp is warm, don’t over cook unless you like rubbery shrimp.

Drain pasta and divide evenly among four plates.  Using a slotted spoon, remove shrimp and place over pasta.  The remaining sauce can be divided among the four plates.  Serve with a nice salad, or my favorite stand-by, sauteed spinach.  Enjoy the decadence of an 11 point meal!


Seared Tuna January 14, 2011

Filed under: dinner,lunch,seafood — freerangenurse @ 2:13 pm

Seared Tuna

One of my favorite pre-weight watchers foods, that is actually one of my favorite post weight watchers foods has to be seared tuna. I love Ahi tuna’s mild flavor and melt in your mouth tenderness. I even love Ahi completely raw where the flavor is even more mild and fresh and the texture is like that of a perfectly medium rare tenderloin – not mushy, just spoon tender. Yum! I occasionally buy sashimi grade tuna and either sear it or just chop it up with some Japanese spicy mayo and eat it on a cracker with some avocado, but today I decided to have seared tuna for lunch.

I poked around the internet looking for inspiration, all the while thinking about coating the tuna in sesame seeds, but feeling like it needed something more.  I came across this recipe from Steamy Kitchen and incorporated some of it into my version.  I didn’t have any wasabi lying around, but I did have some teriyaki marinade from Central Market.  I read the ingredients from the bottle of Asian sesame seeds I had and noticed that it contained some spices (garlic, sweet red pepper flakes, green chili flakes, turmeric, and ginger) along with the seeds.  The following is what I ended up with.  It is paired with 2/3 cup of sushi rice and a stir fried zucchini with 1/3 of a red bell pepper.  The tuna was definitely the star! Total WW points for the whole plate, 9 points. Yes, NINE, for the whole meal. Woohoooo!

Note: If you are afraid of eating raw/undercooked fish, just turn the heat down a little and cook it longer, but please try it a little rare someday.  It really is a completely different taste, less fishy,  and as long as you are eating sashimi grade, it is safe.  Twenty years of eating raw tuna and I’m still kicking!  The Japanese have been doing it for slightly longer.

Seared Tuna
Here’s what I used:

  • 1 95g piece of sashimi grade Ahi (yellow fin) tuna
  • 1/4 cup Central Market Teriyaki Sauce/Marinade
  • 1/4 cup Adams Reserve Asian Spice Rub (purchased at HEB)
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • sea salt, to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper

Heat a well seasoned cast iron skillet (or stainless steel) over medium to medium-high heat and add oil.  Meanwhile pat the tuna steak dry, then place it on a shallow dish with the teriyaki sauce to marinate briefly, turning to coat each side.  When I say briefly, I mean no more than 2 minutes per side.  On another shallow dish or plate, spread the Asian rub and place the tuna on the seeds, turning to coat all sides.  Sprinkle a little salt and pepper and pat, to adhere the seeds/seasonings to all sides.

Place the steak into the pre-warmed pan and cook for about 2 -3 minutes, then turn and cook the opposite side for 2-3 minutes.  I like to sear mine all the way around, so I also use tongs to hold the steak on its side and sear each side for about 1 minute each.  You don’t want your heat too high because you don’t want to burn your sesame seeds, causing them to taste bitter and burnt, so if you are cooking your steak until it is cooked through, turn your heat down a little.  Once the tuna is seared all the way around, you can tent it in some foil to keep it warm while you stir fry your veggies.  I cooked mine using 1 tsp olive oil and medium-high heat.  If you are making the sushi rice, you will need to start that well before you start the fish as it takes the longest to cook.  I hope you will try this slightly exotic dish, because I really think you will like it.

Seared Tuna

I know my tuna looks very raw in these pictures, but remember, I like it all the way raw, just cook yours a little longer to taste.