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Beer Brined Scallops over Spinach Salad With Bacon Stout Dressing

Beer Brined Scallops over Spinach Salad With Bacon Stout Vinaigrette 2

If you’re going to make me a salad, it better be a damn good salad. After all, you’re asking me to skip carbs and satisfying fried finger foods, I might resent you if it isn’t a really good salad.

Bacon is a good start, and so is beer. Scallops are a fan favorite as well. Let’s talk about those for a second while we’re at it. Scallops will most likely come to you via a grocery store seafood counter soaking in a milky phosphate solution (yum!) that will help keep it fresh longer as well as give it an unfortunate soapy taste and an inability to sear properly. The solution to this is beer. Well, more accurately, a brine. Soaking the scallops in a brine will flush out that unappetizing liquid and give you a great taste and a great sear. Which will help that salad taste amazing. And make people forget all about the missing french fries.

But there is beer and bacon and perfect scallops, so no one should complain. If they do, take away their beer.

 

Beer Brined Scallops over Spinach Salad With Bacon Stout Vinaigrette_

 

 

Beer Brined Scallops over Spinach Salad With Bacon Stout Dressing

Yield: 2 entree portions or 4 appetizer portions

Ingredients

  • 12 ounces pale ale
  • 2 tbs salt
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 8 jumbo scallops
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 thick slices bacon
  • ¼ cup chopped shallots
  • ¼ cup stout beer
  • 2 tbs brown mustard
  • 2 tbs raw honey
  • 3 tbs olive oil
  • 3 tbs unsalted butter
  • 1 lbs asparagus
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 2 wt oz crumbled goat cheese

Directions

  1. In a large bowl stir together the pale ale, salt, water and lemon juice.
  2. Add the scallops, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  3. Remove the scallops from fridge and place on top of a stack of 4-5 paper towels. Add another layer of paper towels and allow to drain and dry for 15 minutes. Sprinkle with pepper on both sides.
  4. Cook the bacon in a pan over medium high heat until cooked through, remove from pan, chop and set aside. Add the shallots to the bacon grease, cook until shallots have softened, about 5 minutes. Add the stout beer, scraping to deglaze the pan. Add the mustard, honey and pepper, whisking to combine. Slowly whisk in the olive oil, stirring until thickened. Remove from heat.
  5. Melt the butter in a skillet over medium high heat until very hot. Add the scallops, flat side down, and allow to cook until a dark golden brown crust forms on the bottom, about 2 minutes. Flip and cook until seared on the opposite side. Remove from pan when a slight hint of translucent pink still remains at the center, don’t over cook.
  6. Trim asparagus, cut into 2 inch pieces. Cook the asparagus in lightly salted boiling water for one minute, drain and allow to dry.
  7. Plate the spinach, top with asparagus, goat cheese, and crumbled bacon, dizzle with dressing, top with scallops.
https://domesticfits.com/beer-brined-scallops-spinach-salad-bacon-stout-dressing/

Beer Brined Scallops over Spinach Salad With Bacon Stout Vinaigrette 3

Greek Pasta Salad

 

 

Greek Pasta Salad4

 

I can’t sit here and tell you that I have no idea why I love to Greek-ify things. I’ve already told you about my midnight boat experience between Italy and Greece, and the indelible moment that created in my life. More than that, it was Igoumenitsa, a port in Greece, where I realized how important food was to me.

I was broke, I’d worked three jobs for two semesters of my senior year of college to save enough money to send myself on a poorly researched trip through Europe, and I was short on cash. But even with the dwindling funds I decided to spend a the last bit of cash I had on a small piece of Baklava because I figured it was the last time I would ever have the chance to eat such an iconic Greek dessert in Greece.

It’s these little stories you collect over your life that give me no regrets of being firmly inside my thirties. I’ve done well, I suppose, on collecting stories over the past decade. If there is nothing else you do with your life, collect stories you’re proud to dazzle a crowd with over a glass of wine. It makes growing up so worth it.

 

Greek Pasta Salad2

 

Chocolate Cranberry Spent Grain Cookies

Ingredients

  • 3 cups spent grain (aromatic Victory, Caramel, Caravienne or other light sweet malt preferred)
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg (for vegan option, use 2/3 cup coconut oil in total)
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries (or dried cherries)
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour (plus additional, as needed)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Directions

  1. preheat oven to 375.
  2. Add the spent grain to a food processor, process until about 1/3 as course as before.
  3. Add spent grain to a large bowl, stir in remaining ingredients. If the dough is too moist to stick together, add additional flour.
  4. Using your hands, make 2 inch wide by 1/2 inch high disks.
  5. Place on a cookie sheet that has been covered with parchment paper.
  6. Bake at 375 for 25 minutes. Immediately pull the parchment paper and the cookies off the hot cookie sheet onto a flat surface, allow to cool.
https://domesticfits.com/greek-pasta-salad/

 

Greek Pasta Salad5

Grilled Watermelon Salad

Grilled Watermelon Salad5

Grilled watermelon salad is the perfect summer side dish. Slice up some watermelon rings, throw them on the grill (literally if you’re brave enough), wait for some gorgeous smokey grill marks to spear and you’re half way there.

Grilled Watermelon Salad

If you don’t have a grill, a grill pan will work fine. You can also skip the egregious use of fire all together and just cut the watermelon into bite sized chunks. The saltiness of the Cotija and the briny quick-pickled red onions set of that great sweetness of in-season watermelons.

Grilled Watermelon Salad2

It’s also a great salad to serve at room temperature, making it the perfect low maintenance side dish to serve on your summer party table. It also has a lovely sweetness that pairs well with a spicy food, I served it with these wings. It does not, however, keep very well. If you plan to make it ahead of time, keep all of the components separate and toss just prior to serving.

If you need a patriotic plan for the rest of the watermelon, check this out.

Grilled Watermelon Salad7

 

Grilled Beer & Buttermilk Chicken with Sriracha Glaze

Ingredients

    For the Chicken:
  • 2 cups Buttermilk
  • 12 ounces IPA beer
  • 2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • ¼ tsp cayenne
  • ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tbs brown sugar
  • 1 white onion, sliced
  • 2 lbs chicken drumsticks and wings
  • Cilantro, minced (optional)
  • For The Glaze:
  • ¼ cup Sriracha
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • ½ cup IPA beer
  • 2 tbs fish sauce
  • 1/3 cup mirin

Directions

  1. In a large bowl whisk together the buttermilk, 12 ounces beer, salt, smoked paprika, cayenne, cumin, and brown sugar. Add the onions and chicken to the marinade. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 6 hours and up to 12.
  2. Just prior to grilling, make the glaze. In a saucepan over medium high heat, whisk together all the glaze ingredients. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until thickened, about 8 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discard marinade.
  4. Place the chicken on a preheated grill, brush with glaze, cook for about 2 minutes, flip and brush with glaze. Continue to flip and brush with glaze every 2-4 minutes until chicken is cooked through, about 20-25 minutes (depending on the size of your chicken). Transfer chicken to a serving platter and sprinkle with cilantro.
https://domesticfits.com/grilled-watermelon-salad/

Grilled Watermelon Salad6

Chinese Shrimp Salad

I went to a Dodger game this weekend.

Not just Went. I was asked to attend a VIP tour of Dodger Stadium for a Food Bloggers event that included hanging on the field, a tour of all of the exclusive restaurants, a buffet of all of the incredible hot dog creations the stadium chefs can dream up (macaroni and Fritos dog?!) and even a chat with Andre Ethier. Who told me he doesn’t drink beer (I’ll forgive him, kid can play some ball). And to top it all off, we got to sit in box seats right on the field.

If you follow me on instagram (@JackieJDodd), these pictures will look rather familiar.


Moments like these remind me to take a second to just sit and be grateful. Even when I feel like I am nowhere near the goals I have set for myself I always take time to appreciate what I have. The opportunities, people and experiences that give so much more to my life than I even deserve. I just finished Marcus Samuelson’s Yes, Chef and was incredibly inspire by his work ethic: "Always chase one shot of good luck with two shots of hard work" Great advice, Marcus. I’ll take it. Sitting side stage at America’s Favorite Past Time felt like a shot of good luck, so this week I’ll chase it with an even harder push towards my goals.

And after eating my body weight in hot dogs and chocolate cake at the Stadium, I needed a salad to balance it all.

And I know that I don’t have to tell you that Chinese Chicken Salad is much more about the dressing than it is about the chicken (which I replaced with shrimp).

This dressing, THIS dressing is so easy and so good you will never even be tempted to buy it pre made ever again.

And I also decided that I am also going to chase one negative though about myself with two positive ones. I like that formula, after all he is a Top Chef Master.

Chinese Shrimp Salad

3 cups green cabbage, chopped

3 cups red cabbage, chopped

1 cup jicama, peeled and diced

2 cups yellow peaches, chopped (about 2 large)

1 large avocado, chopped

1/3 cup green onion, chopped

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

3/4 cup cooked bay shrimp

5 wonton wrappers, cut into 1/4 inch strips and lightly fried

For The Dressing:

3 tbs rice wine vinegar

2 tbs brown sugar

3 tbs ponzu sauce

1 tsp sriracha

1 1/2 tsp grated ginger

2 tsp sesame oil

(you can also make a double recipe and save half in an air tight container in the fridge, should last about 1 month)

Add all of the salad ingredients (except the fried wontons) in a bowl, toss to combine. Top with wontons.

Add all of the dressing ingredients to a bowl, stir to combine. Drizzle over the salad. Serve cold.

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Orzo Caprese In Tomato Cups

When I was a kid "Pasta Salad" was just a requisite side dish at family gatherings that was hastily bought at the grocery store and remained in it’s plastic tub beside other more appetizing offerings while slowly making it’s way to room temperature. I never really understood how macaroni noodles, eggs and mustard where always such an important part of every barbecue I went to. And while these little gatherings were being planned, there was always a mention of it, "Who is going to bring the pasta salad?"  Pasta salads have so much variety and take so little time, you don’t ever have to resort to grocery store tub again.

Instead of that I offer you this. Orzo pasta and a fairly traditional Caprese salad, mixed together and served in a hallowed out tomato (feel free to bypass the individual serving size vegetable dish for larger gatherings.)

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Orzo Caprese Salad in Tomato Cups

1 cup dry Orzo pasta

2 cups (10 oz) grape tomatoes, halved

2 cups small mozzareall balls (ciliegine sized) cut in half or quarters

5 basil leaves, chopped

3 tbs pesto sauce

1 tsp balsamic

Salt & Pepper

4 beefsteak tomatoes

Cook Orzo according to package directions until al dente, put in a bowl with the grape tomatoes, mozzarella balls, basil leaves, pesto and balsamic. Toss to combine, salt and pepper to taste.

To serve in tomato cups, cut the beefsteak tomatoes in half widthwise and use a melon baller to scoop out the insides.

Fill with Orzo Caprese Salad and serve.

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The Best Little Quinoa Salad Ever

By now, you  have probably heard a thing or two about this scandal with Paula Deen. If you haven’t, here is a recap:

Paula Dean was diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes.

Three years ago.

The number 1 treatment for Type 2 Diabetes is diet and exercise.

She continues to cook large volumes of high fat, high sugar food on TV, in her restaurants and cook books.

She now wants to endorse a Type 2 diabetes drug and "comes clean" about her diagnoses.

The public freaks out.

Although we all have opinions about, well, just about everything and everyone we have ever met, I’m not concerned about Paul Deen. I don’t know her, and it’s none of my business.

But I am concerned about you. And me. And what I feel like is my responsibility to you. I have quite a few "special occasion" food recipes on this blog, made with high fat, high calorie, high sugar ingredients. And I hope that doesn’t give you the wrong idea.

I hope you all read my post about how I don’t eat like that all the time and how I stay in shape.

Learning from someone else’s mistakes is better than making one yourself, the same dramatic positive changes without the mess to clean up. Use her as inspiration, not as fodder for gossip. She is unhealthy and needs to make changes in her life, but that’s her business.  How can we take this all in, look at ourself and see how to make our own changes rather than making her the villain? How can we help the people we love who are living unhealthy lives? How can we all be in this together and use it as a way to live better and eat better?

How can we have those uncomfortable conversations with people we love who are killing themselves with food? You know who just popped into your head when you read that. Why haven’t you talk to that person?

Use Paul’s story as an icebreaker in your own life. As inspiration to change. 

Whether she decides to change or not, who cares? 

I’m glad this came out, but can we stop pointing fingers and starting living better?

Here is my salad, my way of staying in shape. I eat it about 5 days a week in various forms and this one is my favorite.

Chocked full of protein, iron, amino acids, general good stuff. It also keeps me full until dinner.

Best Quinoa Salad Ever

 2 cups arugula (or spring greens), chopped

1/2 cup cooked quinoa (Here is how you cook Quinoa the RIGHT way don’t cook it like rice or it will be mushy)

2 tbs pine nuts

1/2 an avocado, chopped

1 oz goat cheese

1/4 cup Pomegranate seeds

2 tsp Balsamic vinegar

Toss it all in a bowl, makes about 2 servings.

Printable: Best Quinoa Salad

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Food & Wine Pairing: Prosciutto Truffle Salad with Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir

Welcome back to wine week! To get caught up, make sure and read yesterdays post:

How To Pair Food and Wine 

Rule one: Acid needs acid

I loved (LOVED!!) this recipe and pairingI am much more of a red wine person and learning about versatile red, with a higher acidity and lower tannin level than most reds, I am able to serve a red wine as a stand in where most people would typically put a white. Because, remember, pairing is more about acid and tannin levels than white versus red. 

I CAN have a red wine with white meat!! As long as I can pick the right one. 

The wine in this pairing is Pepperwood Grove Pinot Noir, 2009

I really liked this wine, and I loved that I am now able to pair a red wine with white meat if I so desire. Still maybe a bit to tannin heavy for a light, white fish, but works perfect with pork or possibly a chicken dish. AND It’s UNDER $10!! I love that. I love that I can serve a beautiful wine, paired perfectly with my beautiful salad, and no one will ever know that I so incredibly affordable. 

This was a recipe that I followed the closest. And I loved it so much I made it twice in the same week. It is easy, full of flavor and has a fancy boldness that is perfect for a dinner party. 

It has a super easy homemade dressing that you mix right in the salad bowl. 

Printable: salad-recipe 

I only made a few minor changes to this recipe:

  • Since I had truffle oil on hand from when I made this, I used it in place of the olive oil. 
  • Instead of rubbing the bowl and the bread with garlic, I used a microplane to grate it to a paste and spread it on the bread, and just added the garlic paste to the dressing
  • I grilled the bread slices on my grill pan and served them on the side
  • I added chopped tomatoes 
I really hope you love this salad as much as I did, its simple, fresh and delicious. 
Seek out the wine if you can, and remember that it is a red that you can pair with high acid dishes if you are one of those people who doesn’t particularly fall in love with whites. 
More food and wine parings coming this week. Stay tuned!
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Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

I get asked a lot of questions as a food blogger. Some are about food. Some are about blogging. Some are more personal. But one of the most common questions I get asked is, "How do you stay so skinny when you cook so much food?!"

First, it’s hard. Really.

Work, being a mom, a wife, a blogger. AND trying to stay in shape is a lot of work.

A lot.

Here are some of the rules that I use to a balance food blog and skinny jeans:

1. I don’t eat fast food. It is a really rare occasion when I do, and never, ever, ever for dinner. More of a road trip occasion, or an I’m running late so I’m going to grab the one sandwich under 400 calories at Quiznos occasion. And no chips, and an unsweetened iced tea.

2. I always eat breakfast. Once in a while I have fatty things, like that french toast I still can’t stop thinking about. But 5 out of 7 days, its 2 slices of reduced calorie whole wheat toast (or whole wheat english muffin) with 1/2 tbs peanut butter each. For breakfast, you want the trifecta: low cal, high protein, good carbs.

3. I read ALL the labels of everything I put in my mouth. And just assume that you will have more than the serving size. For instance: most cereal puts a "serving size" of 3/4 a cup. Really? That’s less than my cup of coffee. You will probably have more like 2 cups. So that cereal that you think is only 175 calories. It’s probably more like 430. Thats like eating a burger. But at least the burger is worth it. Bottom line, if you are counting calories, measuring your food is a BIG part of that.

4. Snack well. I like to get the most food possible for the least amount of calories. It’s like a game. But I don’t eat a lot of processed foods, and even when I did, those 100 calorie packs aren’t really a calorie bargin. I want 2, and if I’m going to eat 200 calories, I’d rather have a snickers. This is one of my go to snacks: 1 cucumber, peeled and sliced, drizzled with lemon juice, sprinkled with salt and chili powder. It’s like 15 calories. I also do that to radish slices.  Crispy and salty. Like chips, but good for you.

5. Know your weaknesses. I know I like to cook big breakfast on the weekend, and eat more for dinner when I get to cook for other people. So on the weekdays, I eat a low dairy, high plant, low fat diet. Such as: Salads with low-cal dressing (or just balsamic vinegar) or even my favorite salsa instead of dressing, non-dairy soups, roasted veggies with skinless chicken.

6. Know your calories. I have the Lose It app on my phone (it’s free) and I try to stay under 1,600 calories a day during the week. Give up calories where you can, but don’t feel like you have "earned" an extra slice of pie. That just ruins all the work you did. The truth is, unless you are an Olympic swimmer who burns 14,000 calories a day, you will never reach your goal weight with exercise alone. Never. You have to get your eating in check. Can you indulge? Sure, once in a while, but make sure you make up for it but eating lots of plants. Don’t starve yourself, it makes your body store everything as fat. So you are hungry and still gaining. That sucks. Think of calories like you think of money. You only have so many (probably around 1,700 a day if you’re a girl) to spend before you go "into debt" (meaning: gain weight). Is that mediocre lunch really worth half of your calorie budget? Do you like that White Chocolate Mocha from Starbucks 600X more than a regular cup of coffee? Because that’s how many more calories are in it (a venti White Chocolate Mocha, with whip has 620 calories, a plain cup of coffee has about 5 calories). Spend where it counts, cut when it doesn’t.

7. Find the WHY. I have a Masters Degree in Psychology. Did you know that? It’s true. The mental part is hard. Probably harder than being hungry, is being unmotivated. Write a list of WHY you want to stay (or get) in shape and post it everywhere, and keep updating it. And talk yourself down when you do want to grab for that bad stuff. Oh, and don’t keep in the house, it just makes it that much more difficult for yourself.

(pretty much my WHY for everything good in my life)

8. Replacement behaviors. This is an important part of therapizing yourself. Find your bad habits and replace them with good ones.  For me: 3pm candy jar. My coworkers all have them, and I do as well. Instead of wandering around chatting with the intention of snacking, I walked my office building for 15 minutes, stairs and all. Now, my candy jar is filled with candy I don’t like and I’m not even tempted to eat, just for those people who come to visit with the intention of snacking.

9. Just have one. If you really want to try a new recipe for cupcakes, pie, cookies, thats OK. Try and plan to make them when you can give the rest away. For me, most of the fun of cooking is having a recipe in my head and trying to figure out how to make it work in the kitchen. But most of my food, the sugary, high fat stuff, is given away. Take it to the office, or to a friends house, or let your husband take it to his office. Find a charity, like a women’s shelter, that might want it. Or throw it out. It sucks to waste food, but is it really doing any good taunting you from the fridge? Or, you can make a half or a quarter of the original recipe using an online site like Half Recipe.

10. Move a lot. Even though exercise doesn’t burn as many calories as we would like, it’s still important to move. For me, it’s spin class. Because it’s the most amount of calories I can burn in the least amount of time. If I really push myself, do everything that spin guy is yelling at me to do, I can burn nearly 700 calories in an hour. Thats a lot. Do that 3 times a week and thats 30 lbs a year. Find something that you will actually do, and do it. A lot. Spoil yourself with dance class, then treat yourself to shrimp cocktail (fairly low cal treat).

11. Water is essential. Get a water bottle and carry it around like a security blanket. First, it flushes out your body. Second, the human thirst reflex is so weak, it is often mistaken for hunger. Drink a lot of water and you will eat less and glow more.

Now onto the recipe. This makes 2 large entree sized portions, at about 330 calories each, or 4 side salad portions at about 165. If you want a little more, you can add 3oz grilled skinless chicken.


Sweet Potato Quinoa Salad

1 large sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 cup cooked quinoa

1 tsp fresh sage, minced

1 1/2 cups fresh kale, chopped

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1 large roasted red bell pepper, chopped

2 tbs shallots, minced

2 tbs balsamic vinegar

2 tsp raw honey (sub agave for vegan)

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

Boil the sweet potatoes in a large pot of lightly salted, boiling water until fork tender, about 5-8 minutes. Remove from water with a slotted spoon, allow to drain. I did a guest post of Eating Rules about the proper way to cook quinoa, if you are interested.

In a large bowl, combine the quinoa, sweet potatoes, sage, kale, cranberries, and red pepper. In a small bowl, add the shallots, balsamic, honey, salt and pepper, stirring to combine. Drizzle over the quinoa salad, tossing to coat.

Legal Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionsinst. The ideas presented here are just what works for me.


Salad with Egg Yolk Dressing in a Bacon Basket

There is a beautiful restaurant in Chicago called the Blackbird. They have this amazing little salad that they serve in a crispy basket made out of potatoes. So brilliant. This got me thinking about other foods that would make great crispy edible baskets…bacon.Of course.

It really doesn’t matter what kind of salad you serve this on top of, because the bacon and egg yolk are clearly the star. I just used what I had on hand.

Ingredients:

2 cups of chopped fresh spinach

1/4 cup chopped roasted red peppers

2 tbs shredded fresh parmesan

2 tbs olive oil

1 tbs balasmic vinegar

1 tsp crouse ground mustard

1 tbs fresh lemon juice

salt and pepper to taste

2-4 strips of bacon (depending on thickness)

1 egg yolk (or two, if you’re like me and pop the first on when trying to separate it from the whites)

Start with the bacon. Preheat oven to 350. Take one or two strips and line the inside walls of a muffin pan. I had really thick bacon so that’s what I used, but I think the next time I make this, super thin bacon would work really well. Cut a second strip in half and use it to line the bottom of the pan, overlapping with the sides.

bacon-cup-rawBake until its stable enough to hold together on its own, about 15 minutes, but again, this will depend on your  bacon thickness. Transfer to a baking dish and continue to cook until its crispy.

bacon-cup-cooking(At this point, you may want to add a pot of water to the stove to boil.)

While your bacon basket is crisping, assemble your salad veggies on a plate. Add the oil, vinegar, and mustard to a bowl and stir it up

salad-dressingThen add the lemon and stir some more.

salad-dressing-lemonTop the salad with the dressing, salt and pepper and toss a bit. Add the beautiful bacon basket to the top.

Separate your egg yolk from your white and flash poach. I’m not completely sure if “Flash Poach” is an actual term, but in Fits Land it means to poach for one minute in rapidly boiling water until the yolk is slightly encapsulated so that it doesn’t break apart upon entering afore mentioned crispy basket.

salad-flash-poachAdd the egg yolk to the basket and stand back and revel in the beauty of a salad that you can’t wait to eat.

salad-finished4
salad-finished-fork