All posts tagged simple

Skip the Restaurant, Cook and Home: Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Published February 6, 2014 by jenmatteson

My girlfriend was coming over for dinner last Friday night.  She had originally suggested going out for seafood, but seeing as though I’m not working, I countered with cooking in.  I know, not quite as exciting (though, it can be with enough wine and Just Dance).  But I did splurge a little and get us some scallops, which was perfect, as I had this recipe waiting for use.  Unfortunately, she had some car trouble so she wasn’t able to make it.  Fortunately for Nate, that meant he got leftovers 😛  The scallops with the fennel was absolutely outstanding.  I amped it up slightly by serving them over a parsnip puree, and drizzled with truffle oil.  It wasn’t necessary by any means, but why not add a little luxury into our simple lives? Sorry the pictures are so gross – not very good lighting late and night, but this was too good not to share with you!

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Oh, and what the heck is a “grenobloise”?  It’s just a fancy French term for “sauce of brown butter, capers, parsley, and lemon”.  It makes for a much shorter recipe name: Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise vs. Scallops with Fennel, Brown Butter, Capers, Parsley and Lemon.  Yeah, I’ll take the first one.  But how do you pronounce it so you don’t sound like a dope?  You really can’t, but if you must try, here’s a little help: “grewn-o-blwahz”.  Seriously.

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

This is the second time I’ve made scallops at home, and they are so easy to make.  Don’t be scared to try!  A few key tips: 1) Make sure the scallops are very dry before placing in a hot pan.  I laid mine between paper towels in the fridge a few hours before I planned to make them.  2) Get your pan nice and hot.  3) Be patient and don’t move once you get them in the pan.  This will get that nice crisp sear on the outside while keeping the middle warm and opaque.  4) Don’t overcrowd your pan.  Placing the scallops too close together will steam them instead of searing them.  YOU DO NOT WANT THIS.  I promise, follow these tips, and you can’t screw them up.  The simple taste of the scallops paired great with the rich taste of the fennel.  Open a nice bottle of wine and make this for your honey this Valentine’s Day instead of braving the crowds and overpriced menus.

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Scallops with Fennel Grenobloise

Source: Adapted from Food and Wine
Servings: 4


2 tbsp. olive oil
1 lb sea scallops
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced
2 tbsp. capers, drained
2 tbsp. fresh lemon juice, plus lemon wedges for serving
2 tbsp. flat leaf parsley


1. In a large non-stick skillet, heat olive oil over moderately high heat.  Season both sides of scallops with salt and pepper and cook over moderately high heat until golden brown on the bottom, about 3 minutes on each side (DO NOT move in the pan – this will allow them to sear properly).  Transfer to platter and keep warm.

2. Melt butter in same skillet.  Add fennel and capers and cook over high heat, stirring until the fennel is crisp-tender and lightly golden, about 2 minutes.  Stir in lemon juice and parsley, and season with salt and pepper.  Spoon fennel around the scallops and garnish with chopped fennel fronds, serve with lemon wedges.

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

Published June 20, 2013 by jenmatteson

You probably couldn’t have guessed it from the sweet treats I’ve posted recently, but Nate and I are really trying to eat better.  Even his cupcake hording has subsided; I didn’t even hear one fuss when giving away extra chocolate cupcakes with mint chocolate chip frosting to our parents.  However, I truly do not believe in diets.  I don’t think they work, and I don’t think it’s realistic to restrict your eating for your entire life.  What I do think is possible is being conscious of what you put in your body, everything in moderation, and taste everything, but eat nothing.

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

The purpose behind this dessert was two-fold.  We had both our parents over for Father’s Day, and we wanted to serve a light dessert since we’d be sitting outside, it was hot and we were grilling.  Secondly, because we were grilling dinner, I wanted to do a dessert on the grill, but quick and easy as I didn’t want to spend a lot of time putzing around.  Bobby Flay does it, why can’t I?  I thought of doing grilled strawberry shortcake, and as always, while I think I have a fantastic brainiac idea, alas, someone else has already thought of it.  But the upside to not being the first to think of it is that it’s usually already perfected, so there isn’t a lot of trial and error.

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

This was my dad helping me with the photos.

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

I found this recipe at Sugar Mama, a blog I’ve never visited before.  It was quick, simple and light, just what I was looking for.  The key to this dessert was the sweetened condensed milk.  That adds an extra sweetness to the angel food cake and the strawberries.  Sugar Mama suggests brushing just the angel food cake, but I did both.  And by brush, I mean drizzle, because that light and fluffy cake makes it hard to brush on anything, especially sticky, thick sweetened condensed milk.  Overall, everyone seemed quite impressed and liked the fun idea of the grilled shortcake kabobs.  This would be a great idea for your summer grilling parties, and especially for kids and little paws.  The cake gets a slight crisp on the outside, but stays soft and fluffy on the inside.  The strawberries soften up just a bit, but not so much to be mushy.  Add a dollop of Cool Whip, and you’re good to go!

Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

Grilled Strawberry Shortcake Kabobs

Source: Adapted from Sugar Mama
Servings: 6-8


1 pint strawberries, stems removed and washed
1/2 store-bought angel food cake (I made mine from a box for a little less and used half)
3 tbsp fat-free sweetened condensed milk
Cool Whip


1. If you are using wooden skewers, soak in water for about 15 minutes.  Heat grill to medium.

2. Cut angel food cake into large pieces, about 1 1/2 inch cubes.  Thread skewers, alternating strawberries and angel food cake cubes.  Place on a large baking sheet.  Drizzle skewers with sweetened condensed milk, flip and drizzle again to get both sides.

3. Place skewers on hot grill, turning every minute or so.  This will depend on how hot your grill is, but once you see the angel food cake begin to brown or get grill marks, it’s time to turn.  Don’t walk away, it goes very quickly.

4. Serve with Cool Whip for dipping.

Simple Ingredients Make the Perfect Burger: Palapa Burgers

Published June 6, 2013 by jenmatteson

With our parents, Nate and I went to Belize last year…like last year February 2012, sadly, not this past winter 😦  I did quite a bit of research before we went to get in the know about the best places to go.  The Palapa Bar was highly recommended on Trip Advisor, not only for its excellent, friendly service, beautiful location, the fact that you can float in inner tubes in the ocean while drinks are lowered down to you in a bucket, and that you can leave your mark (if you can find a place to do so), but because of their burgers.  For all reasons listed, we hit this place one of the first days we were there.

Palapa Bar, Ambergris Caye, Belize

Well, we ended up spending the majority of the day here.  A quick recap of notable events: my mom got nice and toasted (and I don’t mean sunburned).My parents enjoying panty rippers at the Palapa Bar

I found a swimsuit twin,

My swim suit twin

we left several marks on the bar,

One of our marks on the bar

My mom's doing...still not sure what it says.

Our mark <3

we floated in inner tubes and had drinks lowered to us,

My dad enjoying his panty ripper in the tube

soaked up the sun,

Nate and I having fun in the sun at the Palapa Bar

and last but certainly not least, we had a burger.  Usually I’d be skeptical and say it was just the atmosphere that made these burgers so delicious, but I must reject that theory.  Why? Because we got the secret recipe from the owner and have made them at home.

Palapa Burgers

That’s right, it’s a very secret recipe that I am about to share with you.  The ingredients are so simple, and there are so few, you might actually think it couldn’t be true.  Well guess what?  It is.

Palapa Burgers

Now, I’m certainly guilty of loading my ground beef with seasoning and onions and whatever else comes to mind before making my patties, but sometimes, you must adhere to KISS (keep it simple sweetheart).  Sometimes adding ingredients is necessary if you’re making a turkey or chicken burger, mostly because they don’t have a lot of flavor alone, nor is there enough fat to keep them juicy.  But sometimes, a plain and simple beef burger is where it’s at!

So, here it goes – I’m giving up the secret ingredients now.  Ground beef (and not that lean crap that’s got no flavor; get the  fatty stuff, like 80/20), salt and pepper.  Yep, that’s it.  Aren’t you sad you didn’t think of this?  Don’t you feel stupid for looking up a burger recipe that is so simple?  Well, don’t.  I like people like you who keep me blogging about the stuff I’m blogging about.  And you trust me to give you good info, and well, this is GREAT info.  Best burger, hands down.

Palapa Burgers

Palapa Burgers

Source: Not at all adapted from The Palapa Bar
Servings: 4


1 lb ground beef
Kosher salt
fresh ground black pepper


1. Preheat grill to medium-high.  Divide beef into four equal parts and shape into patties.  Transfer to plate and season top side generously with salt and pepper.

Here’s a hint: Do you ever suffer from a bloated burger?  You know, when it shrinks in diameter but plumps up in the middle, almost like a slightly flattened meatball?  Well, if you gently press your thumbs into the center of the patty before grilling it, this will prevent the bloated burger, thus making it pretty and fit on your bun (and in your mouth) much easier.

Press thumb into center of patty to prevent burger bloat

2. Once grill is heated, place patties on hottest part of the grill, seasoned side down.  Season the top side of the burgers.  Grill over medium-high heat until you begin to see “burger sweat”.  These are juices that accumulate on the top of the burger.  It’s hard to say how long based on how you like your burger cooked and the temp you are grilling at.  About 5-6 minutes should be efficient for a 1/4 pound burger cooked to medium.  It’s time to flip**.  Grill for 1-2 minutes less than you did the other side.  If you want cheese, add it in the last 1 minute of cooking.  Close the top and cook until cheese is melted.

3. Remove from the grill and do yourself a favor.  Let the burger rest for at least 5 minutes before shoving it down your pie hole.  This will allow the juices to redistribute, making it a flavor explosion in your mouth.  Serve with desired garnishments.

**Two important things about flipping burgers, and more broadly, meat in general. 

1. If you cannot easily get your spatula under it because the meat is sticking to the grates, than guess what?  It’s not time to flip.  Do not, I repeat, do not try flipping it anyway, otherwise your poor burger is going to fall apart.

2. Please note that meat needs, and should be, flipped only once.  Just once.  Two is too many.  None is not enough.  Once.  And stop playing with it on the grill for God’s sake.  It’s already dead and will not play with you back.  Just let it do its thing and enjoy the weather.  The more you move, play with, and flip your meat, the more dry and sucky it will be.  For real.

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