Posts Tagged ‘pescetarian’

I’ve previously mentioned that the “Jen Special” involves fish, starch, green vegetable.  Over the years, I’ve tried to expand what the “Jen Special” means.  Originally, it meant baked salmon, mashed potatoes, and spinach.  Without fail, I had this dish at least once a week before I moved in with B.  Moving in with him lead us to be a little more creative because someone prefers variety.  This is the latest manifestation of the “Jen Special”.   Enjoy!

Pesto Salmon
4 cups packed basil
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 tbsp pine nuts
3 cloves garlic, fresh (We REALLY like garlic.  If you aren’t a huge fan of garlic, reduce to 2 cloves)
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
Salt and Pepper to taste
2- 4 oz. Sockeye (or other Salmon) fillet

Combine basil, olive oil, pine nuts, garlic, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper together in a food processor until smooth.  Add additional components to taste.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Spray a baking dish with non-stick spray.  Place salmon in dish and spread pesto on top.  Bake salmon for approximately 20 minutes or until the salmon flakes easily with a fork.

Orzo Salad*
1/4 lb. orzo pasta, dried
1 medium onion, sliced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
3 tomatoes, diced
2 tbsp feta cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (or to taste)
Salt, pepper, and fresh basil to taste

  1. In a pot, bring heavily salted water to a boil.  When water reaches a rolling boil, add dried orzo.
  2. In a separate saute pan, add olive oil and onions.  Cook onions about 15-20 minutes, stirring frequently, until caramelized.  Set aside onions.  Add pine nuts to the pan and toast slightly, making sure not to let them burn.
  3. When orzo is cooked, drain and add to pan with pine nuts and onions.  Mix in tomatoes, feta cheese, and balsamic vinegar.  Serve warm.

Asparagus with Goat Cheese and Balsamic Glaze

This was just a bunch of asparagus that I blanched.  I added dollops of goat cheese and drizzled store-bought balsamic glaze.

*Note: I messed up the orzo salad by over estimating (by a lot) how much orzo we needed.  I cooked the whole box (1 lb.) It was waaaaay too much and overpowered the other elements of the dish.  We also ate it for the next three days.  This recipe reflects a reduced amount of pasta but I did not reduce the rest of the recipe components

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**So I’ve been very busy the past few months and realized I haven’t updated in a loooong time.  This is evidence of that.  I found a draft I never finished.  Instead of posting the recipes (since they’re not at all healthy) I’m just going to post it as a brag about how awesome B is.  If you’re interested in any of the specific recipes let me know and I’ll post them.**

B has always been very lucky in terms of Valentine’s Day obligations: he only has to say “Happy Valentine’s Day.”  This is because my birthday is only two days prior so we usually have a nice dinner out, etc. that day.  This is also because the first year we were dating, we decided to celebrate this holiday with a dinner out at a nice Italian restaurant in Chambersburg (a neighborhood in Trenton, NJ).  Reservations for 2 at 7:30pm, check.  We arrived and the place was wall to wall people.  It was like being in a hot bar at midnight (I am not an anchovy in a can!).  We also didn’t get seated until 8:30pm.  This was the beginning of the end of our Valentine’s Day celebrations.  Six years later, B decides that he wants to make me a feast for Valentine’s Day.  Let me tell you, he puts me to shame.  What follows are  the meals and pictures associated with said feast.   This is definitely not a diet friendly meal but worked for me since I’m in maintenance now.  Adjustments could be made for the sake of making the dish healthier (reduce butter, replace with something else) but I would be you would really lose something in terms of taste.  As the main reviewer of this meal, I can say that it made me think B needs a new career as a stay at home husband/personal chef.

Course 1: Arugula Salad with Broiled Goat Cheese and Crostini

Course 2: Seared Sea Scallops and Brown Butter Lobster Risotto

Course 3: Chocolate Souffle with Strawberry Sauce and Whipped Mascarpone Cream

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One of the (many) things B has taught me about food over the years is that broccoli on sandwiches can be delicious.  This lesson was passed on by through B from his grandfather.  His grandfather was a very good cook, even though he used a lot of oil in everything.  He used to send a batch of broccoli rabe out to B (and, in effect, me).  With this, B introduced me to broccoli and provolone sandwiches.

I had never been introduced to broccoli rabe let alone broccoli rabe sandwiches.  I was hooked.  When we stopped getting that shipment we started experimenting with making it ourselves.  One thing we cut back on was the amount of oil (see above comment).  As B started eating meat again after we got engaged, we starting incorporating chicken, roasted long-hot peppers, and other things into these sandwiches.  When B’s parents came to visit we decided to treat them to these sandwiches for lunch on their last day here.  We decided to match them with homemade herb crusted fries with basil and roasted garlic mayo.  This side dish was inspired by the frites at Park Brugge, which are matched with roasted garlic mayo, and at Point Brugge, which include basil mayo, restaurants in the Highland Park and Point Breeze neighborhoods of Pittsburgh, respectively.  I’m not going to post this recipe because it was essentially all the taste.  The basic steps are: cut potatoes, coat with herbs to taste, bake for a while, then sprinkle grated Parmesan cheese and broil for a short while; roast garlic, cut basil, combine mayo, basil, and roasted garlic to taste, add salt to taste.

Chicken and Broccoli Rabe Sandwiches
(Makes 6 sandwiches)

6 sub/hoagie rolls (semi-soft)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1/2 cup roasted red peppers
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
12-14 Chicken Tenders (1 Quorn naked chi’ken cutlets for the non-meat eater)
1 block/wedge of sharp provolone cheese

(1) In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Add broccoli rabe to boiling water and boil for approximately 3-4 minutes.   Prepare a bowl of ice water and blanch broccoli rabe after removing from boiling water.  Set aside.

(2) Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare chicken tenders by making sure they are very dry and then seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  In a large pan, add 1 tbsp of olive oil and saute garlic.  Sear chicken tenders approximately 3-4 minutes on each side.  Place chicken tenders in a baking pan sprayed with non-stick spray and finish chicken in oven for approximately 10-15 minutes or until juices run clear (For Quorn, just sear the cutlet).

(3) In a large pan, saute remaining olive oil, garlic, roasted red peppers, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add broccoli rabe and saute for an additional 4-5 minutes.

(4) To serve, add broccoli rabe over chicken on the sub/hoagie roll.  Top with shaved sharp provolone cheese to taste.

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B and I were planning on having delicious, unhealthy lunch from Taco Bell.  We talked ourselves out of that and decided to do something healthier.  We started talking about shrimp po’boys and decided to make a healthier version.  We used a lot of Old Bay so make sure you reduce the amount if you don’t like it that spicy/salty.

Shrimp Po’Boy Sandwich
1 serving, approx 8 Weight Watchers PP per serving

1 Hoagie Roll
5-7 Shrimp, deshelled and deveined
1 tbsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/4 tsp ground pepper
1 tbsp bread crumbs

1/4 cup fat free mayonnaise (I used Miracle Whip)
1 tsp spicy brown mustard
2 tsp dijon mustard
1/4 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

Coat defrosted shrimp with Old Bay seasoning, bread crumbs, and pepper.  Coat a pan with non-stick spray.  Saute shrimp for approximately 4-5 minutes.  Mix all of the ingredients together for the remoulade.  Spread remoulade on the sub/hoagie roll.  Place shrimp on roll with tomato slices and lettuce.

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As part of New Year’s Eve and day, B and I have a tradition to eat extremely decadent food to end and start the year on a good note.  For New Year’s Eve day, we made: Parmesan crusted goat cheese ball with basil oil (I didn’t strain the oil like she did in this recipe though); an arugula salad with cherries, gouda, and pralines with a dijon mustard dressing; and lobster ravioli (we used the fake lobster instead of steaming and cleaning them).  It started out as being a dinner I was going to make for B, but given my terrible time management, it ended up mostly a dinner made by B for me.  The goat cheese was great, nice and light and a good way to start the meal.

The arugula salad was also great.  The sweetness of the pralines and cherries with the sharpness of the gouda and dressing was great.  We actually used two types of gouda since I had gone to our local supermarket and B had gone to Whole Foods to get some herbs they didn’t have at the other supermarket.  We used smoked gouda (I got that) and a very aged gouda (B got that).  The aged gouda was different from anything I had ever seen; it was a hard cheese and was very similar to Parmesan. It was, however, absolutely delicious (but I’m a cheese girl).

The ravioli was the biggest endeavor.  We made the dough from scratch and rolled it out.  We tried to use our ravioli attachment but, alas, that was not meant to be.  For some reason we just cannot make ravioli.  They either don’t come out filled enough, get stuck in the machine, or are just off.  One of these days we’ll learn the trick.

For New Years day we planned to eat french onion soup and beer steamed mussels.  I spent most of the day curled in the fetal position on the couch due to the champagne and beer imbibed the night before so B enjoyed the soup day of (I had made it ahead of time) and made the mussels for us (I helped a bit since I had become more human by that point).  I calculated the Weight Watchers Points Plus for the soup; it made seven servings and were 3 PP per serving without the bread and gruyère cheese.

B said that this mussels recipe was the best we had made to this point.  We have previously made a fennel recipe and the standard one with white wine.  This was the first time we did it with beer.  The mussel’s recipe was built off of something online that we had found that I cannot find now (go figure).  It was very simple.  We basically did garlic, onion, chopped tomato, and beer to taste.  We also added some thyme since we had it leftover from the lobster ravioli.  We figured, its mussels, you can’t really go wrong.

All in all, a good end to 2011 and beginning to 2012, which will be very, very eventful for both B and I.

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Honestly, I can’t remember exactly what I did for these recipes.  I have been very bad and keeping this updated (damn you dissertation!) so I had started a draft with the websites I built from and left it at that.  Unfortunately, this was a month ago. Since I can’t remember the changes I made I figured I would produce the source websites.  Here are the changes I think I made based on the source websites:

Red Beans and Rice (I built off of this website): I don’t believe I made any changes from this recipe

Collard Greens (I built off of this website): Key difference between what I made and this recipe were: (1) using Morningstar Farms vegetarian bacon strips; (2)  I used a combination of vegetable broth and water to cook the collard greens to add some flavor; (3) I reduced the amount of butter

Oven-Fried Cajun Baked Catfish (I built off of this website): I believe the change that I made was to do 1/4 C panko and 1/4 cornmeal for the breading.

My September resolution is to do better as a mediocre blogger with no following.  But I have a feeling this won’t really occur until October (damn you dissertation and job applications!)

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Herb Goat Cheese and Shrimp Pasta

Approximately 5 servings, 8 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving

1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
6-7 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped
6-7 fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 tsp fresh parsley, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
16 large shrimp, deveined and detailed
5 cups cooked pasta
2 tbsp semi-soft crumbled goat cheese
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot, bring water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, add pasta and cook for approximately 15-20 minutes or until the pasta is al dente.

Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, add oil and half of the garlic.  Let the garlic saute making sure to not let the garlic burn.  Add the basil, mint, parsley, salt, pepper, and white wine.  Muddle the herbs in the oil and wine.  Saute for approximately 2 minutes and add remaining garlic. Add tomatoes and saute on medium-high heat.  When  the tomatoes are softened add the shrimp cooking for approximately 5 minutes.

Drain pasta and add sauce to large pot.  Combine 2 tbsp goat cheese and mix well.  Serve in pasta bowls.

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As you can see (scroll down ya lazy bum) B and I tried out a New Orleans themed restaurant this weekend.  One of the things that stood out to me on the menu was their Shrimp and Grits.  Unfortunately, it was made with bacon, and ham, and all sorts of things that most people find delicious that I don’t eat.  So I sighed and (tragically) opted for the catfish (can you feel the sarcasm?).

I was inspired though.  I wanted to make Shrimp and Grits at home.  I have never been a huge fan of grits.  My dad is from the south and has them as a side with his eggs and I was always like “eh, I’d rather have home fries with ketchup and hot sauce” also known as the NJ diner way of eating egg sides.  Thumbing through a cookbook in our kitchen I found a recipe for shrimp and grits that I wanted to try to work with.  First, the grits had cheese in the recipe.  I thought, “Self, you love cheese.  This can’t be bad.”  Also, this recipe seemed to be incredibly Weight Watchers friendly (which it turned out it was).  I made a few adjustments to the recipe that can be changed back.  First, I swapped out 6.5 oz of Turkey sausage for one box of Morningstar Farms Sausage links (10 links).  Second, I added a lot more Old Bay Seasoning.  In the future, I think I would dramatically reduce that quantity and increase the amount of hot sauce in the shrimp mix (which the recipe did not originally call for.  I liked the strong Old Bay taste but B seemed a little lukewarm on it.  For mass appeal I would reduce to 2 tsp from 4 1/2 tsp.  A final benefit of this meal, it was incredibly quick to make.  With prep time for chopping it took no more than twenty minutes to make the entire dish. Enjoy!

The Northerner’s Take on Shrimp and Grits
4 Servings, 6 Weight Watchers PointsPlus Points per serving


16 large shrimp, deveined and detailed
4 1/2 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 large green bell peppers, diced
10 links Morningstar Farms Sausage Links
1 1/2 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp Frank’s Hot Sauce
Salt and pepper to taste

1) Heat a large non-stick pan or skillet over medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add shrimp, 3 tsp of seasoning, cayenne, salt, and pepper.  Toss to coat.  Cook approximately 3 minutes or until the shrimp are done, stirring frequently.  Remove shrimp from pan and keep warm.

2) Return pan to medium-high heat.  Coat pan with cooking spray.  Add bell pepper.  Cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add sausage, remaining seasoning, and hot sauce.  Cook approximately 2 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring frequently.  Add reserved shrimp and garlic.  Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly.  Add 1/4 cup of water.  Cook for about 30 seconds scraping pan to loosen browned bits.  Remove from heat and let stand for about 2 minutes.


1/2 C Quick 5 minute Grits
1/2 C fat free milk
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp Frank’s Hot Sauce
1/4 C grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper to taste

1) Bring 1 1/2 C of water to a boil in a medium saucepan.  Gradually stir in grits to boiling water.  Cover and reduce heat to low.  Simmer for about 5 minutes.  Stir in milk.  Remove from heat and stir in remaining ingredients.

Serve shrimp over the grits.  And serve warm!

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UPDATED: See Panzanella recipe below!

This meal started with leftover bread and tuna on sale.  Seafood out here is generally fairly pricey compared to what I used to be able to get back in NJ.  As a result, when good seafood is on sale I snatch it up.  This week tuna fillets were on sale for the same price as tilapia (score!).  We also had leftover bread from a meal earlier this week (B made a vegetable, shrimp, and fennel soup and we used the bread to get all the brothy goodness).  I had seen panzanella on a number of cooking shows and on various blogs and wanted to give it a shot.  So this is how I started: panzanella and tuna.  B and I decided we wanted an aioli so we started to do some research.  We came across a roasted red pepper one and, luckily, we had a leftover red pepper from B’s aforementioned soup. We were sold.  The last part of the meal came as a last-minute addition.  I had also bought a lot of asparagus (because it was on sale) for B’s soup (which he didn’t use it in) and for a meal this week.  We then decided to add this to our meal.  I’ve separated into the three key pieces that actually required assembling.  For the tuna I just seasoned with salt and pepper and seared it on the grill for about 4 minutes on each side, until it was cooked but raw in the middle.

8 servings, 7 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

UPDATE: I made this again and instead of tossing the garlic and bread with 1/4 C of olive oil I lightly sprayed cooking spray before popping them into the oven.  This reduced the dish to 5 Points Plus per serving.

5 cups day old Italian bread, torn into bite-size pieces
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges
1/2 cup sliced red onion
10-15 basil leaves, shredded
1/2 cup cucumber, quartered
1 cup fresh mozzarella, cut into bite-size pieces (approximately 8 oz. for what I used)

For Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  In a large bowl, toss bread with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic. Lay bread on a baking sheet, and toast in the preheated oven until golden, about 5 to 10 minutes; allow to cool slightly.

While the bread is in the oven, make the vinaigrette by whisking together 1/4 cup of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add bread to bowl with vegetables.  Gently toss together the bread, tomatoes, onion, basil, cucumber, and mozzarella cheese. Toss with the vinaigrette and let stand for 20 minutes before serving.

Roasted Red Pepper Aioli
Approximately 8 servings, 1 Weight Watchers Points Plus per serving


3 cloves garlic
1 red pepper, roasted (approximately 1/2 C if you are not roasting your own pepper)
1/3 C mayonnaise (I had to use Miracle Whip because it is all we had.  A lower fat mayonnaise would likely influence the points plus per serving)
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

In a food processor, add garlic and chop until the garlic is minced.  Add roasted red pepper and mix until almost smooth.  Blend in mayonnaise.  Once that is blended, mix in olive oil.  Add salt and pepper.  Transfer aioli to another bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and store in refrigerator.

Garlic White Wine Asparagus
4 servings, 2 Weight Watchers PointsPlus per serving

2 tbsp Smart Balance light
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 tbsp minced garlic
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 bunch asparagus
1/2 C white wine
salt and pepper to taste

In a large pot boil water.  Add asparagus and cook.  Blanche the asparagus in an ice water bath.  In a pan, add butter, lemon zest, garlic, and lemon juice, be careful to make sure the garlic does not burn.  Add asparagus and white wine.  Simmer for 10-15 minutes until flavors are well absorbed by the asparagus.

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After Easter I made a patch of pesto with our leftover basil that I’ve been trying to find a way to use.  Laying in bed last night I had a “EUREKA” moment on how to use it.  Well, I decided that I was just going to use it.  I have to give credit to B for coming up with the idea to marinate the shrimp in a lemon garlic sauce to add a little bit of a citrus flavor to the dish.

B called this one of our “restaurant quality” dishes.  I can’t disagree.  This is nice especially for summer because of the pesto.  Also, it wasn’t overly pesto-y, which is something that B and I both look for in our pesto dishes.  Enjoy!

Shrimp and Roasted Tomato Pesto Pasta
Makes 6 servings, 8 PointsPlus per serving

1 cup basil, packed
2 tbsp pine nuts
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese

Shrimp and Marinade
2 1/2 oz. shrimp (20 shrimp in our case)
1/2 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp fresh lemon zest
3 cloves garlic, minced (or about 1 tbsp pre-packaged minced garlic)
1/4 tsp olive oil (drizzled)

Other ingredients
12 oz. farfalle pasta (1 box)
5 stem tomatoes

(1) For pesto: Combine the basil, garlic, and pine nuts in a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped. Add 3 tbsp of the oil and process until fully incorporated and smooth. Season with salt and pepper.

If using immediately, add all the remaining oil and pulse until smooth. Transfer the pesto to a large serving bowl and mix in the cheese.

If freezing, transfer to an air-tight container and drizzle remaining oil over the top. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and stir in cheese.

(2) For shrimp marinade: Take remaining 3 cloves of garlic and mince.  Add 1/4 tsp olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, and lemon zest with shrimp.  Mix and cover.  Let sit in fridge.

(3) To roast tomatoes: Preheat oven to 300 F.  Cut tomatoes into approx. 1/2″ slices.  On a foil lined baking sheet, spray cooking spray and lay out tomatoes.  Spray again and season with salt and pepper.  Allow to roast in the oven for 1-2 hours or until tomatoes look shriveled and are no longer juicy.

(4) We grilled the shrimp on skewers for about 2-3 minutes on each side.  The shrimp could also be sautéed on a stove top.  Add pesto, shrimp, and roasted tomatoes to the cooked pasta.  Mix well. Serve warm.

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