Sunday, 16 February 2014

Seared Scallops With Creamy White Wine Sauce

So yesterday I went to Costco and finally got some of the sea scallops I have been seeing each time I go.
They come in a 900 gram bag for about $42 at the moment, although they were cheaper near Christmas so I guess they were on special or the price fluctuates according to season (which is what I hope, it makes me think they are fresher if they aren't kept long enough to avoid seasonal prices!).
I had seen this video from Foodwishes on Youtube a while ago and thought it looked so good. So I made my own. I didn't follow the recipe exactly, but it is very similar.


Ingredients (serves two):

  •  6 sea scallops
  • pasta (mine was a mix of spaghetti and linguine), I use the measuring thing at the top of the container to measure how much.
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed, chopped or grated. 
  • Dry white wine, I used around 3/4 of a cup I think. 
  • 3 heaping tablespoons of cream, I used the Philly cream for cooking because I was too scared to have it separate and ruin the very expensive scallops!
  • Parsley, however much you like, I used about 2 cm worth of that bunch, chopped. 
  • Oil, butter, salt, pepper, chili flakes, Parmesan and lemon juice as you see fit. 
  1. Defrost the scallops on a rack over a plate to allow any excess moisture to drain. Rinse and dry them VERY thoroughly.
  2. Season Scallops with salt and pepper.
  3. Boil water and have pasta boiling before starting anything else as it all cooks very fast once you get started.Always check on it, turn it off when slightly underdone and leave in the pot or drain when done and have ready to add to the sauce.  
  4. Heat a fry pan with some oil to a very high heat and carefully add the scallops. Leave in the pan without moving for about 1 and half minutes, or a tiny bit more, for each side. All the recipes I read said one minute, but I felt that mine were a little under done and they were in there for a bit over a minute each side.
  5. Remove the scallops and set aside. Turn the temperature down and add the butter and garlic.
  6. Before the garlic has a chance to crisp, add the wine and chili and allow to simmer. 
  7. Add the cream and lemon juice and simmer to your desired consistency (this happened in the time it took me to get an extra dollop of cream and some more lemon juice, it's very fast if your pan was really hot to start with). Turn heat right down.
  8. Add the pasta and parsley and stir through to heat pasta if it has been out of the pot.
  9. Serve the pasta on plates with salad, with the scallops on top and some Parmesan cheese!
This was a really yummy and fast meal. I think it would be excellent for a dinner party as it is quite fancy, but doesn't require a lot of work and isn't overly filling, meaning more room for appetizers and desserts! 
The Scallops were excellent I think (not that I have a lot of experience) but I found they have a nice mild taste and are really sweet. They were not rubbery or chewy, but did not fall apart either. 

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Costco Shopping and Prices 15/02/14

A slightly larger haul than normal from Costco to stock up on meat to make freezer meals. Getting back into the swing of work has been hard as it is so busy with parent-teacher interviews, sports days, info nights etc. at school that we have been eating really poorly. I need to be more organised with nice food that requires little prep and doesn't make a lot of mess to clean up.

I forgot to compare the price for the big tub of ricotta, it was 5.59 at Costco for 1kg. Although I have bought a big tub like this from Woolworths before, I can't find it online. Their best price for ricotta is $8.99/kg. Aldi's best is $7.97/kg. 

If anyone can comment on the cost of the scallops that would be helpful. I really have no clue there. 

Does it Freeze? Croissants

This is the first in what might be a series of posts, testing if things freeze well. Given my love for Costco, I often find myself with larger quantities of things than I can eat and there are some things I don't get because I'm not sure that I will be able to store it. So I thought why not start testing out some things where the risk is small eg. 12 croissants for $7.50, if the 8 I freeze get ruined, it's not the end of the world.

Item: Day old fresh croissants

Prep: individually sealed in ziplock backs with as much excess air sucked out as we could get without squishing them.
Frozen: over night- solid when removed the thaw
Defrost: on bench 1-1.5 hours-ish
Serving: heated for 15 seconds in microwave, served with Cherryberry home made jam, recipe here
Results: Excellent! defrosted pretty much like fresh. Possibly slightly stale/crispy on some parts, but once warmed in the microwaved as I did, or if you toasted it, the texture and taste was perfect. I am only going on how it felt, so it might not have had any bad spots at all. The Costco croissants on sale was an excellent by, but even at full price ($9.50) I will certainly buy them again to have on hand for breakfasts and lunches. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Chia Puddings

Chia seeds are something I don't know much about, but having bought some at Costco I have a lot of them to experiment with. Previously I have made some Banana, Blueberry, Chia and Oat muffins which were really nice and great to freeze  Today I made a batch of puddings in different flavours. Before now I made a chocolate chia pudding with a recipe from Food Wishes, and then I made a vanilla one with almond milk and vanilla bean paste with a small amount of sugar added.

Looking at many online recipes I think the basic mix for a pudding is 1/4 cup Chia: 1 cup liquid. 
Today I used almond milk for all my puddings and made Chai, Banana, Chocolate, Mango, Cherry+Raspberry and vanilla. I made them in little yoghurt pots that came with my Aldi yoghurt maker, so they will be great to take to school. Chia is very healthy with lots of protein, omgea 3+6 and fiber. Almond milk a little watery to drink for my taste, but not bad at all and with only 40 calories per cup its s great option instead of regular cows milk if you would rather use your calories on other things. 

1. Pour one scoop full of Chia seeds (1/8 cup) into each jar or container.

2. Add other flavorings:
Chai: 1/2 a Chai Latte pod (or some Chai powder)
Banana: 1.5-2 Tbsp banana milkshake syrup
Chocolate: 1 heaped teaspoon cocoa powder, 1-1.5 tsp sugar
Mango: a few cubes of chopped up mango, 1 level tsp sugar
Cherry+Raspberry: 3 tsp Cherryberry Jam (recipe here)
Vanilla: 1/4 tsp vanilla paste, 1 tsp sugar
3. Pour in 1/2 cup almond milk or as much as you can fit. If you can't fit enough liquid in your pudding will be crunchier, so you might need to play around with how much of different fillings can go in.
4. Put the lids on and shake up the jars. Open and stir if any seeds have stuck in bunches to the sides. Leave the jars for a few minutes and shake again. Then leave in the fridge for 3 hours or overnight.

 I haven't tasted them all yet, but I know that chocolate and vanilla are both yummy. Out of the others the only two I think some people might not like would be the chai and banana, but given they are both normally milky drinks I like, I think they will be good. Anything fruity and sweet I always like, so I know the mango and cherry+raspberry with be good. 

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Teacher Stuff 1

This is kind of a collective haul of teacher related things that I am enjoying at the moment.

1. Idoceo iPad app ($7-$8)
This app is great, and I've barely scratched the surface. Its essentially a digital grade book. It allows you to enter and track personal, assessment and general data for students in multiple classes. I have set it up for myself to track assessments that I put in, as well as having a section for general comments such as behaviour issues as well as permission notes and checklists. Just doing those things I have removed the need for multiple class lists that I need to keep track of for all these things. I am very excited to be able to better monitor issues or improvements in behaviour easily as I have yet to find a system that works, however it is very fast and easy to add an entry to this app without needing to sit down at a computer and open files or write in by hand somewhere else. I also really appreciate the 'hide' function for these notes, so that I can have the tab open and see easily where I have notes for each student (at the moment I am using date columns, but might change to weekly if there aren't too many things to be recording) with a small triangle in the box next to their name, without it being there for every other student or parent to see if I am looking through my lists.
There are so many great uses, but another I am excited for is the email function. It means I can very easily photograph or record student's and their work and on the spot send an email from the app to their parents. I think it will be a great reward for students, to send a picture of the maths sum they found really tricky but finally figured out, or the awesome model they created straight to their parents at the time they did it. Other times such as at sports days, performance rehearsals or on camp we will also be able to share the fun with parents easily and improve positive communication.
I could go on and on with my plans for this app, but for now I highly recommend you get it if you have an iPad. I am currently using a school iPad, but will be purchasing my own later in the year if the school in unable to purchase more for teachers.
Available from the app store 
Below is a first impressions review from another teacher that shows some of the great features of this app.

I'm sure lots of you are familiar with Dropbox or similar 'cloud' storage apps and programs. Basically it synchs up folders on your phone/tablet/computer or any other device that you connect to your account so that photos and videos are available without manually transferring them.  What I am loving is that I have been able to connect the iPad I use at school to a network folder. This means that when I or the students take photos on the iPad it is available within a few minute on any computer in the school.
Now I can allow students to include more photos in their work with a lot less planning. No longer do they need to wait for someone who has taken photos to transfer them using a cord, they are transferring automatically while the next student is using it. It also means I do not need to take photos on my phone or camera and find time to transfer them for students to use.
Aside from easy and time efficient access to files, students are also aware that if they are filming or taking photos without direct supervision, we will see the files when they upload, so they will be less tempted to do anything they wouldn't want us to see. If you have any mobile device that is just for school use, I highly recommend you talk to your techie about setting up a network folder for Dropbox (or maybe you are smarter than me an can do it yourself!).
Dropbox- sign up here

3. Class Reading Challenge
I did essentially the same thing as this last year an it was a flop, but I'm going to try again this year and see if I can get it going a bit better. The aim is to fill the jar with the foam noodles but putting one in for every book finished by a student. I am thinking we will aim to fill it at least once per term or more, just going by sight. Last year I had them making little paper stars but they found it hard to make them and often forgot to do so. I will negotiate with the class what kind of reward we will have for filling the jar. Great for all ages of primary school, and very motivating for some students, it just takes a bit of training and promoting to make sure students remember and get involved.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

iHerb Order

Last weekend I made an iHerb order for the first time. I ordered some clay powder for face masks and some Ecotools eye shadow brushes, having heard good things about both! Hopefully I will get to reviewing them as soon as I have had a chance to give them both a go.
Ecotools 6 piece essential eye set US$7.99
Now Solutions European Clay Powder $5.34

I had heard they have very fast shipping but was more than impressed!

I ordered on Sunday, DHL attempted delivery on Thursday and redelivered Friday. And that was for only $8 shipping!

I am excited to try out the products and I think I will definately look to iHerb first for these kinds of purchases as they have good prices as well as super fast cheap postage. If you are making your first order, you can use my referral code by clicking here and get up to $10 off, or you can enter the code BJH106 when ordering.