Shrimp and Scallop medley

The nightly quest of  satisfying the question “what’s for dinner,” was especially difficult due to a missed shopping trip… kids homework and other things that just get in the way of a Betty Crocker moment.  I found myself staring at a very bare fridge.  Most would order in or get take out but this wasn’t an option.  You can use things in an imaginary way, just pretend your fridge is the mystery basket on the show  Chopped

I found enough to make a nice meal:  a few frozen scallops and shrimp.  A lemon grass and some spinach.  It took less time than ordering food and having it delivered.  I sautéed the shrimp in a bit of butter and garlic for about 2 mins.   I added the scallops and then tossed in my lemon grass and spinach.  I didn’t over cook the scallops.  I didn’t get a lovely

seer on them, either, but it was better than overcooked rubber!!!!! I finished the dish off with Sel de Cali– the Meyers lemon sea salt.  It was delicious and only took about 10 minutes to prepare.   I served this  medley over rice and called it my own.

1 garlic clove chopped

1-2 tablespoons of butter, depending on your health 🙂

around 6 scallops

around 6 shrimp

One bag of baby spinach

1 lemon grass

Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf
Cymbopogon citratus (DC.) Stapf (Photo credit: Ahmad Fuad Morad)

2 teaspoons finishing salt- Sel de Cali-meyers lemon sea salt

Steam some rice


Dill pickles

Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered fo...
Cucumbers (specifically, Gherkins) gathered for pickling. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)





Pickled Cucumbers - Li Li's Imperial Cuisine
Pickled Cucumbers – Li Li’s Imperial Cuisine (Photo credit: avlxyz)






Cucumbers Español: Pepinos Português: Pepinos
Cucumbers Español: Pepinos Português: Pepinos (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love pickles but have never made them.  I’m not one to can, preserve etc.  It all seems too complicated and I would fear poisoning myself somehow for not respecting the perfect canning rules.  I don’t follow directions well.  I succeeded in making delicious dill pickles with a hint of heat.  The good thing about these pickles is they could just be stored in the fridge for up to two months.  The trick was to get them to last more than two weeks in our pickle loving household.


You need about 6-8 pounds pickling cucumbers

a big bunch of fresh dill

2 large onions, thinly sliced

4-5 garlic cloves sliced and whole-depending on your preference.

1 quart water

1 quart white vinegar

1/2 cup salt

1/2 cup sugar

One hot pepper sliced in circles.  Keep the seeds if you want it extra spicy.  Note:  When cutting hot peppers wear gloves, unless you want to do what I did and have hot pepper on everything, including my coffee cup.


  1. Cut each cucumber lengthwise into four spears or as I did in rounds. In a large bowl, combine the cucumbers, dill, onions and garlic; set aside. In a pot, combine the remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil; cook and stir just until salt is dissolved. Pour over cucumber mixture; cool.
  2. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 24 hours. Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 months. Yum!


Polenta encrusted tilapia with a side of spinach and parsley shrimp

Usually I make a ceviche with the Tilapia I get from the San Pedro Fish Warehouse but this time I had no time and nothing set for dinner.  I used a recipe that my Italian neighbor in Monza, Italy taught me for veal.  It worked well for the Tilapia!  I set out a plate of olive oil, a plate of polenta mixed with salt, pepper and a tiny bit of chopped fresh sage. I dredged the fish in olive oil then coated it with polenta.  Once fish is ready, prepare spinach to be steamed.  I had another little saute pan ready for my shrimp.  I only had about 6 shrimp but it made for a good side.  At the same time with the fish, I cooked the shrimp, but in separate saute pans.  For the shrimp chop up some garlic-about one clove and chop up a bunch of parsley, even the stems.  Add the garlic to the pan with olive oil.  Add the shrimp.  At the same time, add the fish to the other saute pan with hot olive oil.  Place the fish on one side and let cook for about 2 minutes before turning to the other side.  Start the spinach for steaming.  Soon in about 15 minutes your entire meal will be ready.  Make sure you have cut up lemon for the fish and shrimp.  Squeeze out the excess water from the spinach.  This was really yummy!

1 tilapia filet per person

1/2 cup polenta

1/4 cup olive oil for the dredging

shrimp, garlic, olive oil, sage, parsley and lemon slices

steamed spinach

Polenta encrusted Tilapia


Baked tomatoes

Various heirloom tomato cultivars
Various heirloom tomato cultivars (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Deutsch: Parmigiano Reggiano in der Markthalle...
Deutsch: Parmigiano Reggiano in der Markthalle Stuttgart (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Small tomatoes in Korea
Small tomatoes in Korea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is such a simple dish.  They are not stuffed or cut in half.  They are just simple baked tomatoes at 350 F for 30 mins then 375 F for 20 more minutes.  I love this dish.  I started making it over the summer when tomatoes were in season.  I just cut the tops off the tomatoes, enough to sprinkle salt, pepper and whatever herbs I have along with a good dose of extra virgin olive oil.  Sometimes I add chopped garlic, too.  At the last part of cooking, grated parmesan cheese is great on this, too.

The great thing about this dish is it makes a great accompanyment to just about anything.  It can be used as a sauce  as well.  Serve it on a big bowl of rice or pasta and it’s simple and delicious.  I could eat this everyday.  The tomatoes really make a difference, but it’s still good if you jazz up bland tomatoes with a bunch of garlic, basil, oregano, cheese… whatever.  Enjoy!

July's Tomato Haul
July’s Tomato Haul (Photo credit: statelyenglishmanor)


I love pesto but store-bought isn’t as good.  It’s so easy to make, by the time you pick out which brand of pesto you want to try, you could have already made this sumptuous sauce.  If you make a lot it can be frozen in small portion ready containers to freeze.  In Italy I used to just store it in the fridge with a bed of olive oil on top to conserve it, but for some reason, here it’s not keeping as well, so I freeze it.  Triple the recipe if you’d like to have several meals. This meal isn’t exactly part of the Dukan diet, but it works for a splurge meal.

1 big bunch of cleaned basil leaves, you can use stems if you are low on basil

1/2 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 garlic clove chopped

tons and tons of olive oil.

I usually do this in the food processor but if you are feeling particularly Italian, that of an old Sicilian woman, do this with a mortar and pestle, but you’ll need a large one.  I put the pine nuts in, give it a spin, add chopped garlic, give it a spin, add basil leaves, give it a spin.  Then I add the parm cheese… yes, you guessed it give it a spin. Take the small top off while spinning and add a stream of olive oil till it’s the consistency you like.

A great way to serve this dish is tossed with cherry tomatoes, some basil leaves and some sort of protein.  Grilled chicken, grilled shrimp or seared scallops are excellent with this.  Enjoy.  It’s a great dish to make for friends.  I usually use a fun shaped pasta with this, but also enjoy fettucine.

Charred chicken

Last night I made another version of my grilled chicken with lemon,herbs and garlic. I altered the recipe slightly due to forgetting to steam the broccoli and adding some Herbs de PV, a salt mixture my friend made. The salt mixture was beautiful however, I wasn’t expecting the fennel which didn’t go so well with my lemon garlic. I was planning on preparing the chicken for the BBQ with just the salt mixture which had herbs from our Rancho Palos Verdes cliffs: fennel, rosemary and lavender. However, Paul didn’t want just that. I prepared the chicken my usual way, chopping up some garlic, lemon rind,fresh thyme and fresh Italian oregano. Paul called and told me he would be home in 30 mins. Perfect timing. I started the grill, placed the delicious looking pieces of chicken and went back inside to prepare our side dishes. I decided to do the usual grilled zuchini and eggplant. I sprinkled some herbs de PV and drenched them in extra virgin olive oil. I also prepared 2 heads of brocolli to be steamed. This time I didn’t use the stems. Normally I peel the stems and chop them up in circles. It is delicious, but I placed them back in the fridge for another time. I went out to put the veggies on the BBQ and realized the gas tank had gone empty. Argh, this started my dinner process late. I managed to replace the tank. Paul came home. He had some work to do so figured he’d do it before dinner. I thought dinner was ready, the veggies and chicken were getting charred at this point, but I now was waiting for Paul to finish one thing. I then realized I’d forgotten to steam the brocolli. So long story short. What was for dinner was charred veggies, chicken with a bit too much fennel. Not a successful dinner. The brocolli however, was cooked just right-still green but not too firm.