Seared Scallops and Barley Pilaf with Cranberries and Pecans

I’ve discovered a new favorite food and it’s called barley. Barley is a wonderfully versatile cereal grain with a rich nutlike flavor and an appealing chewy, pasta-like consistency.  In addition to its robust flavor, barley’s claim to nutritional fame is based on its being a very good source of fiber and selenium, and a good source of phosphorus, copper and manganese. Barley is also good for keeping you “regular”, lowering cholesterol, and protecting your intestines.

This recipes was so easy to make and quite delicious. It’s refreshing and looks like it comes off the pages of a gourmet food mag. The pecans and cranberries, along with sliced scallions and fresh tarragon create a beautiful medley of colors among the canvas of barley. The seared scallops take only 2-3 minutes per side to get that beautiful coated color. A friend on Facebook asked if I would share the recipe so that she can make it for Valentine’s Day. This meal would be perfect.

INGREDIENTS for SCALLOPS

3/4 lb scallops (I used frozen and they tasted great, you just have to thaw them overnight)

sea salt and fresh ground black pepper for seasoning

2 tsp olive oil

INGREDIENTS for BARLEY

1 cup barley, cooked

1/4 cup to 1/2 cup dried cranberries

1/2 cup pecans, chopped and toasted

1 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

2 scallions (green onions), sliced

Salt and Pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh tarragon

DIRECTIONS

1. Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Season scallops (if using frozen, make sure they are thawed and dried) with salt and pepper. Brown scallops 2 – 3 minutes per side in hot oil until golden.
2. Make ahead. Cook barley according to package directions. Cool and combine with cranberries, pecans, olive oil, vinegar and green onions. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Allow to stand at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour.
4. Serve salad at room temperature topped with seared scallops. Sprinkle with fresh tarragon.

Serving size – about 4 (2-3 scallops per person and 1/3 cup of pilaf)

Seared scallops

Cinnamon Swirl Quick Bread

Happy Friday! Today I brought in this delicious recipe to share with my co-workers. This bread is so easy to make and it smells divine. Trust me, you’ll enjoy the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla throughout your home. I truly love that this quick bread is moist and not overly sweet, and has the right amount of cinnamon in it. When the bread comes out of the oven there should be a cinnamon sugar crust on top. The recipe also calls for buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can easily make it by adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a “1 cup” measuring cup and fill the rest of the cup with milk. Let it sit for 10-12 minutes and you’ll see it start to curdle. Voila, there you go. Instant buttermilk. The recipe is for 1 loaf, but you can double it to make 2 loaves.

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup buttermilk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

CINNAMON SUGAR

1/3 cup white sugar

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large bowl, beat butter, 3/4 cup sugar, and egg

3. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt

4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the egg mixture, alternating with the buttermilk

5. In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon and 1/3 cup sugar to make cinnamon sugar

6. Pour a third of the batter into a greased (use baking spray or butter generously bottom and sides) 9×5-inch loaf pan (TIP: Use a measuring cup to evenly distribute batter)

7. Sprinkle a third of the cinnamon sugar on top of batter

8. Repeat layers twice

9. Bake 45-50 minutes, until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean

10. Cool in pan for 10 minutes

11. Remove from pan to a wire rack to cool completely