Welcome to my world!

I've developed a passion for cooking since childhood, but in the past six years, that passion has grown into a geeky obsession. I love cooking, baking, and most importantly, sharing the love of food with family and friends. I invite you along on my journey of food discovery and passion.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Healthier Springtime Eating - Curried Bay Scallops with Brown Rice

Though Dallas weather certainly isn't reflective of the entire country, toward the end of February spring has sprung!  We still get some random "chilly" days (read: high in the 50's), but our grass greens up from the rain, the weather is generally mild, and we all turn our thoughts to "bikini bodies" for summer.  Ok, maybe a flattering one-piece swimsuit for some of us, but still. 

I've thought for a while that I need a jump start into eating less and eating healthier.  I still love to cook and will always cook a variety of dishes, but there is nothing wrong with adding in healthier recipes or tweaking to make favorites healthier.  I recently subscribed to Eating Well magazine to get more ideas on sophisticated (read: more like Bon Appetit than Cooking Light) yet healthy cooking options.  I've previously subscribed to Cooking Light, so I appreciate the variety they offer and the efforts at mass appeal.  Eating Well pushes the envelope on ingredients a bit more and is a little more aggressive on the health focus.

My sister-in-law is a personal trainer and getting a degree in health promotions, so encouraging all of us to eat better and adopt better lifestyle choices is a mission for her.  She encouraged us to get healthier and, embarking on a 24-day challenge, I sought out healthier recipes.  Copious consumption of butter and sugar aren't the easiest habits to break, but I was going to give it the best try I could.  I saw a recipe in Eating Well for a curried scallop and rice dish and decided to make it my own. 

Goal 1: Dramatically reduce the cost below the $25+ it would cost for the large scallops plus other ingredients
Goal 2: Add in more veggies to up the nutrition
Goal 3: Make dinner in 30 minutes or less

To meet the first goal, I changed jumbo scallops to bay scallops, though shrimp is an excellent substitute.  Buying frozen scallops or shrimp also cuts down on the cost.  Second, the recipe didn't have any added veggies.  Spring means fresh asparagus.  Since asparagus can be hit-or-miss, I went for frozen green beans, which is available year-round, is very nutritious, and has a low cost.  Third goal is best met with "fast cooking" brown rice.  "Fast cooking" brown rice is partially pre-cooked so that it cooks up faster, in about 10 minutes.  Beyond that, though the original recipe calls for lemon juice, I'm a huge fan of Chipotle's cilantro-lime rice, so I did a riff on those tastes to create... curried bay scallops and green beans with cilantro-lime rice.  Happy Eating!

Curried Bay Scallops and Green Beans with Cilantro-Lime Brown Rice
2 cups (uncooked) of quick-cooking brown rice, such as Minute Rice, prepared according to package directions
1 lb bay scallops or shrimp, patted dry with paper towels
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp curry powder
1 tsp salt, divided
1/2 tsp black pepper, divided
1 bag frozen green beans, microwaved according to package directions
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3 - 4 scallions, thinly sliced
Juice of 1 lime

Begin cooking rice according to package directions.  While rice is cooking, pat scallops dry and sprinkle both sides with curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper.  Heat butter in large nonstick skillet over medium heat until sizzing.  Add scallops and cook until browned, 1 - 2 minutes per side.  (They will cook quickly).  Remove to a plate.  Can cook in two batches if your skillet is small.  Add the green beans to skillet and saute 3 minutes.  Add cilantro, scallions, lemon juice, and remaining salt and pepper.  Mix, then add in rice and cook, stirring until heated through, about 1 minute.  Add in scallops or serve on top.

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