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

Ingredients:

  • 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.
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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
Ingredients:

  • 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

 

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!

 

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.

 

Spicy Fish Tacos January 13, 2011

Filed under: dinner,lunch,seafood — freerangenurse @ 12:46 pm

Fish Tacos
Okay, this might be one of my new favorites because it is tasty, low in WW points and easy to make.  I made fish tacos last night using mahi mahi and a recipe I found at epicurious.  The mahi mahi fillets are only two points each and I didn’t even eat a whole one!  One tricky aspect of calculating points on this one was the use of a marinade made of olive oil and spices.  I checked with the Weight Watchers web site and community boards and while most people said they don’t count the points for marinade, I opted to count some.

The tacos are a nice blend of spicy and sweet, crunchy and tender.  I hope you like them as much as I did!

Here’s what you need:

  • 1-2 mahi mahi fillets
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 4 tsp red chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • corn tortillas
  • cabbage, sliced very thin
  • carrots, petite dice
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 tsp fresh lime juice
  • 2 Tbsp minced red onion (I omitted this)
  • 2 tsp minced jalapeños (I used canned diced jalapeños)
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro
  • Asian sesame seeds
  • coarsely cracked black pepper
  • Kosher salt, to taste
  • pico de gallo (I omitted this)

Combine the cabbage, 2 tsp lime juice, honey, red onion, jalapeños, cilantro, sesame seeds, salt and pepper in a large bowl.  Toss to coat evenly.  Set aside in the refrigerator.

In another bowl combine the olive oil, lime juice and spices to form a medium thick paste.  Cut the fish into small, 1/2 inch strips and mix with marinade.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  You won’t need to add any oil, as the fish will have been coated in it.  Once hot, remove the fish from the marinade and place in the preheated skillet.  Cook, turning fish occasionally until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes.  You’ll see that the fish turns white and the segments begin to flake apart.  Heat corn tortillas in the microwave, or do like I do and heat them directly over a low flame on the stove.  Place 3-4 pieces of mahi mahi in a corn tortilla and top with a generous portion of slaw and pico.  Enjoy your low points dinner!

Total WW points for two tacos: 10 (it is really probably a little less, unless you eat all of the slaw.  I only counted 1 Tbsp of the oil, again probably over estimating)
Fish Tacos

 

Confit Byaldi a.k.a. Ratatouille October 29, 2010

Filed under: dinner,lunch,side dishes — freerangenurse @ 9:49 am

Confit Byaldi

I’ll admit, before I saw the movie, Ratatouille, I had heard of ratatouille, but never had much desire to know what it was.  As Linguine would say, “It sounds like rat…patootie.”  Not very appetizing, but when Remy makes it at the end of the movie, it looks delicious.  Yes, I realize it was a cartoon, but I still wanted a cartoon bite!  I did some research and found out that the chef-spiration for Remy’s cooking came from Thomas Keller.  Mr. Keller is already a favorite of mine because of this recipe, and because I have loved all of the recipes I’ve tried from his Ad Hoc cookbook.  Plus, I’ve always wanted to go to his French Laundry restaurant, until I saw this!  Well, actually, I still want to go, but I guess I’ll have to wait until someone else wants to foot the bill.

While researching Keller and Remy, I found a link to the recipe for Ratatouille’s ratatouille by the man himself.  I made a couple of modifications, but it is still pretty true to the original.  It pairs amazingly well with goat cheese (an idea I gleaned from Smitten Kitchen).  It was hearty enough to be dinner and good enough to be lunch the following day.  I only wish I had made more so it could have been dinner again.  It was that good!

Don’t let all the steps and prep work scare you away.  If you have a mandolin (which doesn’t have to be expensive – mine is from Pampered Chef), it makes pretty quick work of the veggie prep.  My daughter did all the arranging and she is very proud of it.  Sadly, I did not bother to take an after picture, so all I have is an in progress photo.

Confit Byaldi
Thomas Keller’s Confit Byaldi

adapted slightly

For Piperade:

  • 1/2 red pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 orange pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 1/2 yellow pepper, seeds and ribs removed
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow onion
  • 3 San Marzano tomatoes (from can), seeded and coarsely diced, juices reserved
  • 1 sprig of thyme or 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 sprig flat leaf parsley, or 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 bay leaf, his recipe called for half a bayleaf, but seriously?
  • kosher salt

Heat oven to 450 degrees.  Place pepper halves on a foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down.  Roast until the skin loosens, about 15 minutes.  Remove from heat and let rest until cool enough to handle. Peel and chop finely.

Combine oil, garlic, and onion in a medium skillet over low heat until very soft, but not browned, about 8 minutes.  Add tomatoes, their juices, and herbs.  Simmer over low heat until very soft and very little liquid remains, about 10 minutes, do not brown; add peppers and simmer to soften them.  Season to taste with salt, and discard bay leaf.  Reserve a tablespoon of mixture and spread the remainder in the bottom of a pie plate.  Set aside.

For Vegetables

  • 1 zucchini (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16th inch rounds
  • 1 Japanese eggplant (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16 inch rounds
  • 1 yellow squash (4-5 ounces), sliced into 1/16 inch rounds
  • 4 roma tomatoes, sliced into 1/16th inch rounds
  • 2 red bell peppers (long, skinny ones), sliced into 1/16th inch slices
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/8 teaspoon thyme
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper

Starting in the center of the pie plate, arrange vegetable slices, in an alternating pattern, over piperade so that 1/4 inch of each slice is exposed.  Once you reach the outside of the pie pan, start working in concentric circles back in, until you fill the dish.  Combine remaining ingredients and drizzle over vegetables.  Set aside.

For Sauce:

  • 1 box Pomi tomato sauce
  • 1 tsp herbs de Provence (or a combination of herbs such as thyme, chervil, basil, etc)

Mix herbs into tomato sauce and pour over prepared vegetables until just covered.  Cover dish with parchment paper (not just aluminum foil – it reacts negatively to tomatoes), then aluminum foil and place in a preheated 350 degree oven.  Bake for an hour to an hour and a half, until vegetables are tender when tested with a paring knife.

Using a spatula, remove a desired amount of the confit byaldi to a plate, top with a dollop of fresh goat cheese and swoon!  I really need to make this again!

 

Conquering Your Fears and Following Your Instincts April 25, 2010

Filed under: appetizers,dinner,lunch,seafood — freerangenurse @ 2:30 pm

I have a confession.  Artichokes have always intimidated me.  These big thistles are covered with spike tipped leaves, have a center choke that will make you do just that if you eat it, and have always seemed like a lot of effort to basically serve as scoops for mayonnaise or butter sauce.  Yet, with all these obstacles, I do enjoy artichokes and their tender hearts, so when I saw this recipe for shrimp stuffed artichoke bottoms, I couldn’t resist getting over my fear of artichokes.  Another fantastic reason to conquer my fears were the beautifully photographed step by step instructions in Fine Cooking Magazine for preparing artichokes in a number of different ways.

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