I was amused to note that I have actually turned out just like my dad when it comes to cooking. You can watch, but you are not allowed to help. Mom was pretty tired anyway, so for once she wasn't trying to take over the cooking reins and just entertained me with conversation while I cooked. I'd forgotten how fun it is to have someone in the kitchen - or to cook with someone else, if it's a pre-planned group effort - and really need to look into doing this more often. I cook for myself most of the time, so it was refreshing to have someone around. It somehow made the chopping and the cooking a little more effortless for me. Anyway, within 25-30 minutes, I had a deliciously gorgeous meal that made me feel almost guilty for running this blog. At some point restaurants are going to start hating me for teaching everyone how to make similar meals for a fraction of what they'd charge you! And I know part of what you pay for is the ambience and the service, but sometimes it's just nice to chill out at home with a good meal.
Some of you may be wondering how this can be with ingredients like seafood and scallops. It's pretty simple: you buy what you need. Granted, I cook for one or two people most of the time, but even if you were to do this for a family of four, you would be paying a lot less on the makings of this meal than you would if you went to your favorite restaurant. Using Safeway prices (I used Trader Joe's seafood which is less expensive, I just want to show you that this can still be cheap if things are bought from a regular grocery store), a pound of bay scallops from the seafood department costs about $7; a pound of medium shrimp, $8. I guarantee you that a similar seafood & pasta dish at a restaurant would have already cost you the same amount as those two ingredients alone. That means that your veggies, pasta, and sauce came absolutely free, and that is IF you were making this for 4 people instead of 2. To use another example, the pre-made seafood & pasta meals in the frozen food aisles of grocery stores usually run about $8-9 for two VERY small servings, and you're getting way more pasta than seafood and only one type of shellfish at that. The value of your homemade meal is far higher than even the convenient - and admittedly quite yummy - frozen meals.
Hopefully I've given you all a better, clearer idea of how I'm able to eat the kinds of meals I do. It's totally possible to treat yourself to flavorful, beautiful dinners - AND have them critiqued by your caterer of a mother as having a "truly delicious flavor" - in the comfort of your own home, without breaking the bank. Hope you like it as much as we did!
Shrimp & Scallops over Angel Hair Pasta (Serves 2; Total Cost per Serving: ~ $4.75)
1/2 c fresh (or fresh frozen) scallops
1/2 c medium shrimp (fresh or fresh frozen)
8 oz angel hair pasta
3 c water
1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
1 small broccoli crown (cut into about 3/4 c small broccoli florettes)
1/2 medium white onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
4 T butter
1/4 c dry white wine
1 t sea salt
1 t thyme
Fresh ground black pepper
Rinse and chop the bell pepper and cut the broccoli crown into small florettes; set aside. Chop the onion and set aside in a different bowl. If using frozen seafood, thaw by placing the shrimp & scallops in a large bowl of cold water for about 15 minutes or so; drain & pat dry after thawing. If using fresh seafood, give it a quick rinse in cold water and pat dry.
While boiling the 3 c of water for the pasta, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and onions and sautee until the onion becomes clear. Next add the scallops, as they take slightly longer to cook than the shrimp. Sautee for about 2 minutes, then add the shrimp. Add the salt and thyme and sautee for another 2 minutes or so, followed by the broccoli. Cook until the broccoli becomes tender & bright green. Next, add the red bell pepper and cook for another couple of minutes. Finally, add the wine. Check for seasoning and adjust accordingly.
The pasta should be done cooking by the time you've finished the seafood & veggies. Drain well, then transfer the pasta to the skillet with the scallops, shrimp, and veggies. Toss until all ingredients are completely combined. When ready to serve, add fresh ground pepper or a generous amount of freshly grated Parmesan (which I didn't have but wished I did), and enjoy!