Alley's Recipe Book
Alley's Recipe Book    Alley's Recipe Book    Alley's Recipe Book       Alley's Recipe Book    Alley's Recipe Book

Seared Scallop Alfredo - total time 30 minutes

Several years ago, we went to Fisherman's Wharf for dinner (I think it may have been my birthday, I can't remember).  What I do remember about the meal was getting scallops for the first time ever.  I'm still not completely sure what they are from this Wikipedia answer... kind of looks like it should taste like an oyster or clam, but scallops are definitely better.

Back to the meal... it was like $30 for a couple scallops!  I mean they were good... like, melt in your mouth like butter good... but that's about $7 per scallop!

It's not like scallops are hard to cook either.  In fact, there one of the fastest, simplest things I cook.  All you need is some melted butter, a pan, and some scallops.  This recipe is fully from scratch (some times I "cheat" and use a jar of alfredo) and costs about $10-12 for 3-4 servings.  That's like 50 cents per scallop and you get pasta with it.  If that isn't proof that you can save money cooking at home, then I don't know what is!

There are zero veggies in this dish, so be sure to pair it with a salad or steamed broccoli for a complete meal (get your greens in!).  :)

Weekly Menu

Yesterday we had a glimpse of Spring in Ohio.  It was sunny and the birds were singing!  Just enough to remind us nice days are coming which is making me want them even more!

Today, however, has been quite the opposite.  Cold and cloudy... a great day to stay inside in your pajammas.  And that's just what I plan to do.  My Up band just reminded me how lazy my Sunday has been so far by telling me I have only gotten to 2% of my daily steps in.  Haha... oops!

While I might not be getting my steps in, I spent the day making bracelets for summer time.  Its one of those things you see in stores and think "I could make that"... and then you see it on Pinterest and think "if other people can make them, so can I"... and then you never get around to it.  I've had most of these supplies sitting around for months.  It was time to get around to it!

The six-strand circle braid was pretty frustrating, but I eventually got the hang of it (instructions here).  Everything else was pretty easy, just needed some needle-nosed pliers and scissors and was good to go!  Now I really can't wait for summer to pile on my bracelets!  :)

Alright... I don't think we'll get through our full menu this week, but here it is!

Alley Doughs
spinach dip alfredo
pretzel chicken and cauliflower gratin
spinach enchiladas
shrimp po' boys

What are you planning to make this week?

Salmon Fillets with Dill-Creme Sauce - total time 20 minutes

It was a pretty awesome experience getting to see the salmon swim up steam while on vacation in Seattle last year.  We didn't even know it was happening until we walked down to Pike Place Market and the locals were celebrating the Coho Salmon "homecoming".  Everyone seemed so excited, as they should be with all the work that went into protecting these fish.  

After seeing the salmon up close and personal at the Ballard Locks fish ladder... my husband and I joke around about making "salmon faces".  Mostly because he did a great impersonation of a salmon while we were there that made me laugh so hard I started to cry.  I wish I had a picture to show you, but he would never let that goofy look get captured on film (I mean, SD card?).

While we were in Seattle, we only had salmon once.  Even though it was the Coho homecoming, that doesn't actually translate to salmon being "in-season" at the market.  Since they are swimming upstream to spawn, it is actually the worst time to catch them.  However, there are four species of salmon that make there way to the Seattle area at different times of the year, so fresh salmon is almost always available in the city.

So, what do you do if you don't like in Seattle but still want to eat salmon (mostly because its a super flavorful fish, but also its full of omega-3 fatty acids that are great for you)?  Buy sustainable caught frozen salmon.  Only a handful of markets will ever get 100% fresh, never frozen fish.  The remainder is flash-frozen, usually right on the boat, for those of us that are landlocked.  So buying fish at the meat counter is no less fresh than from the frozen food section.

This recipe is so simple and so fast that you'll wonder why you ever order fish at a restaurant when it is so easy to prepare at home!  I like to cook my fish in a pan instead of broiling or baking it.  I feel like it retains moisture better because I can see when it has cooked fully (instead of opening the oven to check and letting out all of the steam).  It also makes it super easy to remove the skin (which you can eat if you so choose).  The dill and salmon pairing is kind of like basil and tomato, it seems like they were made for each other!  Sauteing the onion and garlic in the pan first leaves some of that flavor for the salmon to cook in.  All together... pretty delicious dish in less than 20 minutes!

Weekly Menu

Last week, I turned the big 3-0.  That coupled with recent career moves for both my husband and I as well as finally paying off my student loans made me want to dig out my 10-year financial plan from my Personal Finance class I took my senior year of college.  

Ironically, a lot of it was spot on... I even had the student loan payoff and our plans to vacation in Europe this year.  There were a couple things that were a little off, but most of them have turned out better in reality.

There was one thing in my financial plan that made me laugh out loud (I was reading this at, like, 3:00 in the morning because for some reason I had this itch to find it... I tend to laugh a lot when I'm tired).  I had built in a contingency plan for year 15.  If the economic conditions were right, I was going to open a bar with my friend and name it The Hula Hut.  The heat would be on high, there would be sand on the floor, a tiki bar and grass skirts everywhere.  It seemed like a perfect escape for people stuck in snowy areas.

Well... apparently I was on to something and someone else thinks the same way.  We found Grass Skirt Tiki Room in the middle of Columbus!  We had dinner there over the weekend (Hawaiian food, of course) and I couldn't help but think back to the times when I wanted to open something just like it.  So cool to see something you dreamed up in real life... even if it isn't yours.

(love the lit up volcano covered in snow)

Also, in the spirit of last week's post... we pulled a popsicle stick from the jar and went to 16-bit bar.  Order a drink, play for free, and rock out to 80s tunes... pretty cool way to spend a few hours.

Alright... on to this week's menu.  Pretty typical week... except for the ricotta fritters.

rosemary chicken with crispy roast potatoes
taco night
ricotta fritters and tomato sauce

Broccoli Cauliflower Gratin - total time 35 minutes

It's Thursday and that means it's cruciferous vegetable night!  

I don't know what it is about cauliflower, but I have always thought it needs to be paired with broccoli.  Whether one a vegetable tray or in a meal... if there is cauliflower, the broccoli is always right there beside it.  I never have those thoughts about broccoli... just cauliflower.  Maybe it's because they're the only vegetables that look like little trees... so when you have the white tree, you need the green tree?  Odd.

So, some times you need a little help to get some one to eat their vegetables.  One bad experience can prevent them from ever trying it again.  Also, one person saying they don't like vegetables is enough to make no one like them.  To combat this negativity, start them off with a delicious cheesy version and then work your way toward roasted or steamed veggies.  That is exactly how I started with brussel sprouts... started with a gratin and now they are one of my favorites!

40 Things to do in Columbus when it's Cold or Rainy

40 Things to Do in Columbus when it is Cold or Rainy

Obviously it has been a very cold winter.  That kind of puts a damper on our typical outdoor activities like hanging out at a patio, hiking, driving around with the Jeep top off, or even just going for a walk because the sidewalks are covered in snow (including ours, oops).  But that doesn't mean we have to stay home.  Everyone knows that Columbus has some great restaurants and some pretty good shopping, but that can be hard on the waistline and your wallet.  So I started collecting a list together to cure our cabin fever and get us out of the house!  Columbus is the 15th largest city in the country and there are a lot of indoor gems in this town.

Also, check out each weekend's list of fun things to do in Columbus here!

1. Palace Theatre - always some sort of live event going on whether its a comedian, musical, or concert
2. Scioto Downs - feel like seeing a race or staying inside and chancing your luck
3. Studio 35 - single screen movie theater showing cult classics and serving up brews
4. Franklin Park Conservatory - rotating exhibits of orchids, blooms & butterflies, and more makes you feel like you're outside
5. Ohio Historical Center - lots of American history
6. COSi - geared toward kids, but the Extreme Screen, COSi Classics, and seasonal exhibits can be fun for adults too
7. Grandview Theatre - single screen theater showing today's biggest blockbusters
8. Anthony Thomas Candy Factory Tour - feel like your Charlie Bucket touring a candy factory in your backyard
9. Middle West Distillery Tour - mmm... whiskey tastings
10. Columbus Zoo - the animals are more active when there are less people staring at them
11. Ohio Roller Girls - craziness on roller skates
12. Drexel Theater - independent films are always on
13. The Seasoned Farmhouse - hungry for a cooking class?
14. Brothers Drake Meadery Tour - see how the drink of choice of Renaissance kings is made today
15. Columbus Museum of Art - recently renovated with beautiful staples and rotating exhibits, free on Sundays
16. Studio Movie Grill - eat, drink, and watch today's blockbusters
17. Downtown Library - the best library system in the country in a historic building with floors of books and events
18. Perkins Observatory - once the second largest telescope in the world
19. 16 bit bar - get your game and your drink on in the way back time machine
20. Statehouse Tour - the only statehouse without a dome has seen a lot of history
21. Air Force Museum (Dayton) - how often do you get to board an Air Force One plane or see Felix's space suit and capsule from his record-breaking freefall jump back to Earth
22. Velvet ice cream factory tour - I scream, you scream, we all scream for 100 years of ice cream
23. Hollywood Casino - after years of debate about gambling in Ohio, the casinos are here to stay, why not play a hand
24. Ohio Theater - dress up and go to the ballet, opera, or musical
25. Wexner Center - performing arts, independent films, contemporary art... if it is artistic, it is here
26. Massages at Penzone's - keep calm and carry on at this network of national award winning salons
27. Wyndotte Winery - live music, murder mysteries, and tastings, oh my
28. Funny Bone - laughter is the best medicine, just don't sit in the front row
29. Olentangy Indian Caverns - an underground river carved out these caverns thousands of years ago
30. Kingmakers Parlour - game night without the clean up
31. Book Loft - 32 rooms of books to get lost in
32. Rule 3 - mini bowling, arcade games, and drinks
33. Camelot Cellars - make your own wine just the way you like it
34. The Wilds - covered and heated safari tours and stay overnight in the lodge or a yurt
35. Shadowbox - laugh out loud at their sketch comedies
36. Dave & Busters - it's a national chain, but it's still fun
37. Clayspace ceramic studio - throw some clay on a potter's wheel and make something cool
38. Four Seasons Golf - hit some balls under the big dome
39. The Candle Lab - mix and match over 100 scents to make your own perfect candle
40. Newport Music Hall - get you groove on to the latest in Indie Rock to Electronic music

And since we're an indecisive bunch, all 40 are written on popsicle sticks  and tossed into a mason jar.  Now when we want to get out of the house, just pick a stick and go!

40 Things to Do in Columbus when it is Cold or Rainy

Don't see something on the list that should be?  Send me a note or comment below!

Weekly Menu

Brrr... I'm ready for above freezing temperatures already!  This winter has been brutal.  According to Punxsutawney Phil (and the Weather Channel) there is much more to come.  It has been so consistently cold that the Great Lakes are freezing over.  That seems so crazy to me!

With the cold weather comes sniffles and coughs.  I'm getting quite the abdominal workout with this deep, annoying cough I have... but I feel fine.

Here is to warm thoughts this week knowing that Spring is just around the corner and we will all be wearing shorts and sandals before we know it... we just need to get through a few more... months.  :/  

And this week's menu is full of comfort foods to keep us warm this week...

broccoli cheddar pot pies
pizza night
mexican stuffed shells
chipotle shrimp and corn chowder
out for dinner!

Don't forget to makes sweets for your sweetie this week for Valentine's Day!  

 Rose Cupcakes for your sweetheart

Lasagna Rollups Recipe Reboot - total time 1 hour

Just like the Dark Knight movies, sometimes classics need a reboot to make them cool again.  Lasagna is a classic dinner in my family for sure.  We have even had lasagna for Thanksgiving meals... you know... with ground turkey for Turkey Day.  And it never fails, when my husband is at an Italian restaurant, he orders the lasagna.  You might call him a lasagna aficionado. 

I've tried making lasagna a lot of different ways (with butternut squash, spinach & artichoke, pesto chicken, broccoli chicken, and the classic rollup that we're improving upon today)... this recipe is the best.  You don't have to make it all rolled up either if you prefer regular pan style.  I like the rollups because they make the perfect serving size and you don't have to worry about cutting it up and layers sliding around... plus they look cute!  And if you wanted to make extra, the rollups freeze well... perfect for individual servings to heat up in the microwave or freeze a tray of them for a weeknight dinner or busy friend.

So what makes this recipe so cool now after it has been rebooted?  I think it is the sun-dried tomatoes.  A little bit goes a long way for flavor with these babies!  Also, adding some of the sauce to the rollup filling just makes sense when you look at regular pan-style lasagna.  

This recipe will be in heavy rotation at our house, especially while it is cold out... it's the perfect Italian comfort food.  Hope you enjoy it too!

Rose Cupcakes - total time 1.5 hours

Valentines Day is coming up... and whether you will be spending the day with your sweetie, hanging out with friends, or staying in... everyone loves to celebrate with something sweet!

Have you ever wondered what a rose tastes like?  I never thought about it until Ali from GimmeSomeOven posted a rose cake recipe last year.  She actually used real rose petals to decorate it too.  I have used lotions with rose water in the past... and they smell amazing.  Then I saw this rose water at a cutesy chef shop in the Short North (while we were waiting to eat at Melt) and thought this is perfect for V-day!

Now don't be fooled, just because it says rose water instead of extract doesn't mean the flavor is any less potent.  So don't add more because you want it extra rosy...this recipe is already there!

Since these cupcakes taste like roses (which is hard to describe), they should look like roses too!  At first I was a little intimidated by some of the instructions.  And some of the "easy" ones just wouldn't work on mini cupcakes.  But then I found a video that walked through each step (didn't make me feel much less intimidated) and then I tried it.. easy peasy!  Box up a dozen and send them to your Valentine (or keep them to yourself)!

Weekly Menu

Finally!  We got some above freezing temperatures yesterday!  Unfortunately my husband is feeling under the weather.  But I had cabin fever, so we had to get out of the house, if even for a little bit.  We headed to the Short North where new things seem to be opening every week to go to Melt for a bite (initially to share something, but we waited so long it became dinner).


If you have never heard of Melt before, it is a hot sandwich restaurant that stacks them high and cheesy.  We both ended up with fried chicken on our sandwiches.  Mine was basically chicken parmesan on Texas toast and his was buffalo chicken with bleu cheese.  Both were oh so tasty but left us in food comas and feeling some pressure in our arteries.  Not exactly healthy, but they do have several vegetarian and vegan options (not that they are much healthier).  Some times you just have to indulge.  :)

So today is going to be a lazy day while my husband recovers from his cold.  We'll pay some attention to the Super Bowl (mainly the commercials).  We're not that into football (except when my fantasy players are in the game), but went to both cities on vacation in the past 18 months.  So... go sports!  Haha.

Here is this week's meal plan...

mexican chicken and rice
broccoli alfredo bake
lobster bisque and "piada" stick
chicken with creamy dijon sauce and brussel sprouts
pan pierogis

Roasted Chicken to Use All Week - total time 1.75 hours

Many nights we aren't eating dinner until 8:00 or 9:00 at night.  Not really ideal, since you really don't want to sleep with a full stomach.  You should have at least three hours active digestion so your body can focus on resetting itself while you sleep.  That means we wouldn't be getting to bed until after midnight on weeknights... which is actually closer to average than we would like it.

I'm not a morning person (which that midnight bedtime probably doesn't help), so I go into work later than most and then leave later as well.  Most of my recipes take about an hour from start to finish. That combination is the reason we are eating so late.  So in an effort to get dinner on the table quicker, it means planning ahead even more than weekly meal plans... it means doing some of the prep on Sunday.

I've seen those pins on Pinterest about buying rotisserie chickens from the grocery store and using them throughout the week.  It's a great idea, but who knows how long that chicken has been sitting there and what they used to roast it.  

I'm fortunate that the Kroger down the street from me carries local, antibiotic free chicken.  For $8-10 I can get a full chicken, roast it myself, and have about eight servings of chicken to use throughout the week.  There is very little prep involved in roasting a chicken, you just need to be home to take it out of the oven, really.  And then you can make chicken stock afterward to use as a base for a soup in your meal plan.  Now that is using the while bird!

There are probably hundred of ways to use this chicken, but we made tacos and sandwiches.  I a small mixing bowl, we mixed the chicken with some chipotle salsa and chipotle chili powder and heated it up for our tacos.  Then we made some pulled chicken sandwiches by heating of up the chicken and mixing in some barbecue sauce (which allowed mine to be sweet BBQ and his to be spicy BBQ).  And then some buffalo chicken wraps.  Each meal took less than ten minutes to get to the table!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...