Now that you’ve eaten all of the Christmas cookies, here is a healthy recipe to help start your 2011 off right! Scallops are incredibly low in fat and calories and require five to six minutes of total cooking time in a pan. Scallops are one of my favorite types of shellfish. A scallop is a type of bivalve mollusk, which is a muscle tucked between two shells that are hinged together. Clams, oysters and mussels are also bivalve mollusks. The shells of scallops are fan shaped and often used as contains to serve other dishes.  The entire scallop is edible but the muscle is the most available and is classified into two major categories: bay scallops and sea scallops. Bay scallops are very tiny and more sweeter than a sea scallop. They’re more costly because they are less common than sea scallops, which are widely available and average about 1 1/2 inches in diamter.  Bay scallops are available on the East Coast in the fall.  Sea scallops are just as sweet as bay scallops, they’re just a tad chewier and denser. They are available on the East Coast in midfall to midspring.

Traditionally, scallops are harvested by boats using chains and nets. The term “diver scallops” are used for those scallops that are hand picked by divers, who naturally pick the largest and ripest scallops, leaving the smaller ones intact until they are ready to be harvested.  There is some controversy surrounding the classification of diver scallops, as one can’t ever be sure that they were truly hand picked.

When picking out scallops, keep in mind that they are supposed to range in color from a beige to a creamy pink. Though stark white scallops are more visually appealing, this is a sign that they have been soaked in water (this increases the weight, which will cost you more!). The shelf life of scallops is not lengthy. You usually need to use them immediately after purchase, within a day or two, and they should smell fresh and sweet.

This recipe took me less than 20 minutes and is something I will make again and again. The freshness and juiciness of the fruit makes you feel alive and transports you to a tropical place on these dreary, desolate winter days. If you don’t have the fresh fruit on hand, frozen lima beans or corn are a nice and healthy accompaniment to scallops. Or try to serve your scallops over whole wheat linguine and some diced tomatoes with sauteed spinach.  Here, I added in a cup of cooked instant brown rice with margarine, cilantro and Tony’s seasoning to spice it up.

Fairytale Winter Fruit Salsa

1/2 cup of chopped pineapple
1/2 cup of chopped strawberries
1/2 pomegranate arils (seeds)
1/2 cucumber, diced
3 tablespoons of chopped cilantro
1/2-1 jalapeño, seeds removed and chopped
Juice of 1 lemon

Combine all of the above ingredients and set aside for at least 15 minutes while the flavors marinate.

Fairytale Pan Seared Scallops
(Serves 2)

2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 pound of scallops (about 5-6 per person)
Salt and pepper

Wash each scallop and pat dry. Lightly season the scallops with salt and pepper. Heat olive oil in a pan on high to coat. Add in garlic for last 10 seconds. Turn the heat down to medium high. Add in scallops and cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until browned. Do not crowd the pan with the scallops! Remove from pan and place on a paper towel to blot.  Serve immediately with tropical fruit salsa as a garnish.


An Autumn Greeting 

“Come,” said the Wind to the Leaves one day. “Come over the meadow and we will play. Put on your dresses of red and gold. For summer is gone and the days grow cold.” 

~ Anonymous 

Burning bright hues of amber, orange and yellow are symbolic with the autumn season but these colors aren’t only found in the changing leaves. Squash is also in season and this butternut squash soup recipe is the perfect remedy for those cold days when your body and your spirit need a little touch of warmth.

The word squash is derived from the Native American Narragansett word askutasquash, which means “thing eaten raw.” It was documented by Rhode Island founder Roger Williams in 1643 in his book, “A Key into the Language of America.”

Though squash is commonly considered to be a vegetable for culinary purposes, it’s actually a fruit. The rule of thumb is that any part of a plant that contains seeds is a fruit. Vegetables are leafy parts of the plant or roots, like spinach or carrots. Thus, the exterior of the squash is known as the flesh and the interior is known as the pulp. Squash has many culinary uses but is also grown competitively. (See my photos of the giant pumpkins from the Bloomsburg Fair!) Squash was also made into pottery by people of the ancient Moche culture in Peru.

In North America, there are generally two groups of squash: summer squash (immature fruit) or autumn/winter squash (mature fruit).  The most popular type of summer squash is zuchinni. It is easy to grow and requires little cooking time or preparation.  Winter squash, like acorn squash or butternut squash, is a bit more heartier and requires a lengthy cooking time. (But oooohhh is it worth the wait!) Pumpkins and gourds are also winter squash.

Lady loves to lay next to the winter squash (pumpkins and gourds)!

Butternut squash, a large vibrant yellowish/orange fruit, is at it’s peak during the fall season. It’s known in Australia and New Zealand as a butternut pumpkin. It is thought to have originated in Mexico and is very popular in Mexican cuisine. Grown on a vine, butternut squash has a yellow flesh and bright orange pulp. The ripper it is, the sweeter the flavor.

Butternut squash can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. It is used in soups, salads, casseroles, breads, muffins, etc. It’s firm texture also makes it easy to grill and it is commonly found in South America as a side dish to barbecues. 

Butternut squash is a good source of fiber, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, magnessium and potassium. The best part about it is that it’s cheap and lasts for days. You can buy it and use it weeks later, at your own convenience.  Here is a classic recipe for a thick, velvety, flavorful butternut squash soup. It’s healthy, easy to make and guilt-free because it’s made without any cream.

A large butternut squash cut in half.  When using, make sure to wash and discard the seeds.
Fairytale Butternut Squash Soup

3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter (or butter substitute to save calories)
1 large butternut squash, halved lengthwise, washed, with the seeds discarded (about 3 lbs)
1 large yellow cooking onion, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
2 tablespoons of fresh sage, chopped (a bunch of large leaves)
6 cups of chicken broth

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Rub the olive oil on the cut side of the squash and season with salt and pepper. Place on a baking sheet and roast about 45 minutes until tender. Remove from the oven and let cool.

In a dutch oven over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and butter.  Add onion and celery. Sprinkle some salt. Saute about 10 minutes until tender.

Scoop out the butternut squash flesh (discarding the skin) into the pot. Add the chicken broth and a little salt to pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low and let simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and use a food processor or hand immersion blender to puree the soup.  You can also use a blender to puree the soup but make sure you work in batches!  Return to the pot and keep the soup warm.

Optional: You can give this soup a mexican flare by  adding some toasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas) and a drizzle of sour cream. For a hearty Italian flare, try dipping in some crusty bread, or hearty pumpernickel croutons and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese. But it’s equally as good on its own! 🙂

If you’re looking for something to really WOW your guests this 4th of July, look no further.  This recipe for strawberry rhubarb crumble was hands down a top contender for the title of the “Best Thing I’ve Ever Made.”   Rhubarb is a single stalk of a celery bunch and is one of the first items of produce available in the spring.  In 1947, the U.S. Customs Court in New York chanted rhubarb’s designation from a vegetable to a fruit.  Rhubarb has a savory flavor and is commonly made with strawberries.  The flavors of strawberry and rhubarb go together like salt and pepper, oil and vinegar, bread and butter.  Take advantage of the abundance of in-season strawberries and rhubarb before its too late and TRY THIS NOW!!! 

 The first time I ever tasted rhubarb was at Blue Smoke when pastry chef Jennifer Giblin made a strawberry rhubarb pie for the restaurant. I never forgot my first bite, and was so blown away by the perfect marriage between the strawberries and the rhubarb. I knew the the love affair between me and the rhubarb would blossom into a life long romance and I was correct.

As a general rule, 1 pound of fresh rhubarb equals about 3 cups chopped or 2 cups cooked. When working with rhubarb, be sure to wash and trim the ends and remove the leaves before using.  (The roots and leaves contain oxalic acid and can be toxic.)  You will notice that the rhubarb stalks that are especially large have fibrous and stringy skin that needs to be removed.

Here is a recipe from an amazing Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble, which I adapted from a recipe I found in Bon Appetite.  A crumble is a British dessert where raw fruit is topped with a crumble pastry mixture and baked.  This topping is usualy a streusel, consisting of flour, sugar, butter and spices. Streusel topping is very easy to make and can be sprinkled on coffeecakes, breads, muffins and cakes. This is an easy go-to recipe you will want to use again and again and is especially useful if you need to feed dessert to a crowd.

Fairytale Strawberry Rhubarb Crumble
(Serves 8-10)

1 1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup sugar and 3/4 cup sugar
Pinch of salt
1 stick of unsalted butter cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 cup of old-fashioned oats
1 cup of chopped almonds
Optional: 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1//2 of vanilla bean, split lengthwise
1 pound of strawberries, hulled and halved (or quartered if jumbo size)
1 pound of red rhubarb, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch pieces (12 small stalks or 6 large, cut off ends)
Vanilla ice cream
Sprig of fresh mint

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine flour, 3/4 cup of sugar and pinch of salt in a bowl. Rub in chunks of butter with fingertips until it forms coarse crumbs.  Mix in oats and almonds. Cover and set aside (if hot, let sit in refrigerator.)


Spray a large tray with Pam baking spray (or use crisco or butter). Place 3/4 cups of sugar in a large bowl.  Add seeeds from vanilla bean and mix well.  Add strawberries and rhubarb.  Scrape the fruit filling into a large shallow dish. (I used a 9X14 rectangular disposable tin baking dish.)  Sprinkle crumble topping over the fruit filling. Spray with Pam baking spray or add some thin slices of butter over the crumble filling to get a golden brown topping.

Bake until filling bubbles and and is crisp and crunch, 45 -60 min.  Let cool for about 15 minutes.  Serve warm with ice cream and a spring of fresh mint on top.


Here are a two more recipes to get your Cinco de Mayo celebration started this week! I love these recipes because they are healthful and delicious and not your typical taco feast! I hope you like them too!

Serves 4

4 8-inch whole wheat or multigrain tortillas
1 can black beans, washed and drained
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of orange juice
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 clove of garlic
Handfull of chopped cilantro plus more leaves for garnish
2 limes
4 oz of cotija cheese
1 rotissieri chicken breasts, shredded
1 can of salsa verde (green salsa)

1/2 avocado
Dollup of sour cream

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

To make the black bean dip: Combine black beans, red onion, orange juice, olive oil, cilantro, garlic, salt and pepper, and the juice of one lime in a bowl. Puree in a blender until smooth. Put to the side.

In a separate bowl, place the shredded chicken and sprinkle with some of Emeril’s Southwestern Essence. Mix the shredded chicken with enough salsa verde to coat.

To assemble the tortilla pie: Coat a 9 inch round baking dish with cooking spray. Spread 1/4 of the black bean mixture onto a tortilla. Top with 1/4 of the chicken mixture. Sprinkle some of the cotija cheese on top. Repeat 3 more times. Squirt some lime juice on top.

Bake in oven about 20 minutes, until top is nice and brown and crunchy. Remove from oven and garnish with cilantro. Optional: Place some diced avocado slices on top and a slice of lime on the side. Serve immediately.

Mexican Watermelon Salad
Serves 4

1 small seedless watermelon
4 oz of cotija cheese
1 cup of cilantro leaves
4 tablespoons of lavendar honey
1 tablespoon of orange juice
1 lime

Use a melon baller to scoop out balls of the watermelon. Place in decorative glass salad bowl. Crumble cheese on top of watermelon. Add cilantro.  In small bowl, mix lavendar honey, orange juice and lime juice.  Add to Salad. Mix well. Serve immediately.

Have a  Happy Cinco de Mayo! Enjoy! 🙂