Cooking for the ones you love: Why Italian mamma’s are always so happy

Sometime last week I was making dinner and wondering why it just felt different. Was I still easing my way into the new kitchen? Was I too lazy? Were the issues I was dealing with hampering my appetite?  These were all legitimate and probable ideas, but then it dawned on me halfway through. Chris was out, coming home sometime, and I wasn’t exactly making dinner for us. I was making dinner for me, myself, and I. And he would stumble in sweaty from basketball, ask what pans I was using, and then make dinner for himself.

Perhaps loving him made eating healthier, especially in the early stages, more enjoyable. I wasn’t nourishing my own body but someone else. I had another set of taste buds to please (or to wallow with me when I made a stinker of a meal.) Perhaps that is why I still regularly save a small spoon or fork full for him whenever I try out a new Thai-inspired sauce, which I’ve been doing quite often as of late. Part of me thinks I’m still showing off, but maybe I’m just trying to keep that small sliver of mutual satisfaction alive.

So this epiphany, though bittersweet, has inspired me to add another dimension to living a healthy lifestyle. It goes beyond healthy eating, exercise, mental clarity, and self esteem. You got to do it from the heart. And I mean do it from the heart for someone else. Love yourself. Love yourself a lot. But don’t forget to love others too when it comes to working out (invite a friend on a run or to yoga class!) or trying a new all natural skin care recipe with a gal pal (there is always so much left over anyway) or, in the case of this blog post, cooking a meal for someone (only the Pope should have to eat alone.) This other person doesn’t need to be a lover. It can be an old friend, a new friend, a sick or down classmate/co-worker, or your parents. Even if it is once a week—or even once a month—try making a commitment to that person (or large group of people) to get together and cook for each other. I know I had tons of fun making cookies and sangria when the girls came over awhile back. The meals don’t need to be extravagant. Bring your seven layer dip, your favorite mixed drink recipe, or your mom’s perfect chicken marinade. There’s no need for a theme, or dressing up, or pomp and circumstance (unless you want all of those , in which case pomp away.) As long as you are surrounded by people you enjoy (people that will gladly help you wash dishes) then I think that is love enough!

Okay, enough with the sap. You want a sappy black woman talking? Go watch Oprah, mmmhmmmm.

Here’s the recipe for the aforementioned Thai style meal: an orange-soy glaze over scallops.  Where I shop a pound of large scallops (not the small ones) is $16.99 and  that is probably on the cheap end. Check to see if your market sells scallop pieces, which I get for $7.99/LB! Your stomach won’t be the wiser, but your bank account will be much, much happier.

 

Seared Peppered Scallops with Orange-Soy Glaze

From Bon Appetit (don’t tell my internship supervisor @ EatingWell!)

“ Ingredients

4 tablespoons peanut oil, divided (I used coconut oil. Feel free to use whatever you have around)

1 1/2 pounds sea scallops, patted dry with paper towels

2 teaspoons ground peppercorn blend, or ground black pepper

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped (about 2 teaspoons)

1/2 cup orange juice (freshly juiced if possible!)

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon (packed) grated orange peel

Preparation:

Heat 3 tablespoons oil in large skillet over high heat. Sprinkle scallops with pepper blend and salt. Working in batches, add scallops to skillet in single layer; sauté until brown on outside and just opaque in center, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer scallops to plate, leaving drippings in pan.

Add garlic and remaining oil to drippings in skillet; stir 30 seconds. Add orange juice, soy sauce, and orange peel. Boil until sauce thickens to syrup, stirring frequently, about 2 minutes.

Pour sauce over scallops and serve.”

I served this with a plate of green beans covered in salt and pepper that I cooked up in the cast iron. Okay, I do admit this recipe might be the one you make with a LONG TERM significant other or a best friend that you’ve known for ages, you know the one that held your hair back as you puked. Why? This sauce is to die for. Like, lick the plate clean to die for—I speak from experience. Your besties or beau will love you (well, they might have a disturbed look on their faces), but the first date and new found friend might, well, not call you back for round two!

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn

Fuel the Body. Feed the Soul.

I know my way around a spoon…

This is a phrase I used in a previous post and something I believe in strongly. Your body needs the proper mix of vitamins, nutrients, calories, and foods to run properly. This is of the utmost importance, however that doesn’t mean what you eat needs to be “bland.”

Last week I stumbled upon this really cool blog called The Pescetarian & the Pig. Pescetarianism (forgoing meat but eating seafood) was a lifestyle I followed for 11 months. I’ve strayed away from that, but as summer rolls around I find myself wanting to eat less meat, so I was more than excited to see some tasty pesco recipes to reignite my tastey-buds.

Note: Yes, a diet is like a romance. You need to add some spark every now and then, lest it fizzle!

Although I didn’t use the scallop recipe on the blog, I was inspired to go out and buy some for tonight’s dinner. Purchasing jumbo scallops is not something to be taken lightly, as they are pretty expensive buggers (16.99/lb!) I mixed and matched ingredients until I came up with a recipe that not only sounded tasty and clean, but also had overlap with what I was already buying. I revised this recipe to suit my needs. I seared some scallops—yes, I got to use some ghee!—and laid them over a “salad” of segmented grapefruit, Roma tomatoes, scallions, lime juice, and a dash of hot sauce, with some salt & pepper to taste. The dish was filling, yet light, and extremely flavorful. It was well worth the money, and the cheap bottle of white wine we bought, because the standard glass of milk just doesn’t cut it when you’ve put time and money into an elegant meal.

El “salad”

Thankfully, as stated above, the meal was light enough for us to squeeze in a delicious dessert, which I’ve been waiting to concoct for a few days. As you may know, I love Tara Stiles, and when she started her Tara Eats blog I practically fainted. There was finally an easy way for me to follow her delish & healthy recipes! A recent recipe piqued my interest (and belly.) Plus it was simple, and simple and measurement free is the surest way to my heart. Oh, what a pain it is to wash all those measuring cups and spoons!

“Check out the recipe (Scroll down a smidgen!)

You’ll need

1 small-ish dark chocolate bar (thanks Heather Berger for the birthday gift!)

2 handfuls frozen organic blueberries

1 banana

A sprinkle of cinnamon

Now What

Combine chocolate and berries in a sauce pan

Simmer

When all melted and gooey combine banana

Melt some more

Stir continually

Serve it up with a sprinkle of cinnamon on top

Makes 2 servings”

Homemade Double Boiler. 100% necessary for melting chocolate!

A pinch of salt to bring out the flavor of the chocolate! Try it sometime.

 

 

If this isn’t a prime example of feeding your soul then I don’t know what is! So, here’s the deal. You can feed your soul with takeout, ice cream pints, Reese’s Cups (guilty as charged…Like, death row guilty), or you can make desserts/treats like this. Berries are still healthy, dark chocolate (in moderation) is great for you, and bananas are just delicious goodness. You end up making a completely decadent dessert without really sacrificing much in the health realm, and your taste buds aren’t the wiser. And even if the recipe you try out isn’t healthy, I think there is something to be said for making a treat yourself. You’re putting time into it, and  interacting with your food beyond scarfing it down. And I like to think you burn a few calories going the few feet to the fridge and stove…yeah? No? haha. Just kidding! But you get what I mean.

How do you fuel your body and feed your soul?

Peel Away ❤

Jocellyn