Coconut Oil Update and Scallop Carbonara

Spring has officially arrived, but since I live in eastern Canada that doesn’t really mean anything. We were hit with two back to back winter storms, the first one (known as the snow hurricane) brought close to 40 cms of snow and winds up to 100km/h. Just when we had finally dug ourselves out, we were hit by a crippling ice storm. Most people in my area were without electricity for at least 48 hours and when you live in the country this means no heat, no lights and no running water. Once the ice storm was over we moved right into another blizzard, and at this point deep depression has set in.

Anyone who lives in a climate like ours will understand this, luckily warmer temperatures and rain have finally graced us with their presence. The snow banks are melting and I’ve been waking up to sunshine and birds chirping. It’s amazing what a little nice weather can do!

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Now for the Coconut Oil Update, I’m sad to announce that I had to stop using it as a facial cleanser. In my case it actually ended up making my skin problem worse. I had read many blog posts stating that my skin would go through a purging process and that “things would get worse before they got better”. For the first few weeks I kept getting break outs all over my forehead, chin and along my jaw line, these were not normally problem areas for me (I usually broke out in my t-zone). As stated in my previous post I did see some improvements to my skin, it seemed more hydrated and the texture was smoother in some places but sadly those are the only positives I can personally attest to.

I stuck to my routine for close to 3 months. Every morning I would use the coconut oil to cleanse my face before applying my makeup and I would use it every night to remove my makeup before going to bed. On the weekend I would mix a little baking soda with the oil to use as a an exfoliating scrub. I also stopped using all the other products that were part of my normal beauty regime. I thought the simpler and more natural, the better. Unfortunately I kept breaking out, and several people (including my husband) noticed that my skin was worse. I was using more and more makeup to clever my blemishes and they never seemed to get better or even go away. At this point I decided to look for an alternative, and actually yearned for the “problem” skin I thought I had before hand.

I spoke to a friend of mine who is an animal lover, she only uses natural beauty products that are not tested on animals. She told me about a local makeup artist who created her own line of mineral based cosmetics and skin care line. I contacted her and she promptly invited me to her house for a free make up session where she gave me a simple 5 minute make over. She set me up with a beginner package that included everything I needed to complete that same look on my own at home and I also purchased a cleanser, toner and moisturizer. I’ve been using her products for a few weeks now and I’ve already seen an improvement in my “new problem areas”, I’m very optimistic that this new regime will help a great deal. Here is a link to her website, please check it out for more information, especially if you are looking for all natural, gluten free and mineral based make up products. http://www.happyhippymineralmakeup.com

Here I am “before”, with no make up

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Here I am “after” having applied Happy Hippy Cosmetics (all by myself!)

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Please keep in mind that my personal experience with coconut oil may not have been successful but that doesn’t mean yours will be the same. Lots of people have had great results with coconut oil and use it for several different parts of their beauty regime with no problems. I do have sensitive skin to some extent so this was an experiment for me and now I can say I tried.

So I still have some coconut oil left, which I will use for mostly baking and cooking now! I’ve already made chewy peanut butter cookies and they were delicious, I’ll be on the look out for more recipes to try. Please let me know if you have any that you would like me to test out.

And now for the Scallop Carbonara, another fun part about living in Eastern Canada is the seafood. Since we are right on the coast we get to feast on delicious treats like fresh lobster, shrimp and scallops. The fresh seafood season usually closes for most of the winter, but now it’s back and along with the sun and warm weather, it’s something I look forward to every year.

A few weeks ago my husband and I tried the scallop carbonara at one of our local favourite restaurants and it was one of the best seafood pasta dishes I’ve ever had! My husband of course suggested that I could recreate the dish at home and probably even improve on it. I was a little nervous because I had never seared scallops before… Scallops are delicious and expensive and very temperamental. If you cook them too long they become chewy and there is a very fine line between a perfectly cooked scallop and a bad one.

So I did some research on Pinterest (obviously) and found a very easy and simple recipe for perfectly seared scallops and carbonara pasta. We headed to the Saturday farmers market and purchased fresh scallops, cheese, pasta, eggs and locally cured bacon. The recipe was surprisingly easy and helped me over come my fear of making pan seared scallops. In fact it was so easy and so delicious that I’ve made it twice in the last two weeks.

Ingredients for Scallops:

12-16 large scallops (3-4 per person)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. butter
Salt & Pepper

Ingredients for Carbonara:

8 slices of thick cut bacon diced (I try to find bacon with less fat, or cut away excess fat)
1 shallot finely sliced
1 clove garlic finely chopped
4 green onions
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup cream
1 cup parmigiano reggiano grated
fresh ground pepper
pasta of your choice (I used Linguine, but most recipes use Spaghetti)

Directions:

*This recipe tastes best served VERY fresh, so don’t let it sit or Scallops and Pasta dry out quickly, it can be heated up the next day but not as good as the first time around.

*Have ALL your ingredients and pots ready to go before you start cooking, trust me!

*Don’t forget to set your oven to warm so you can keep the scallops hot while the pasta is cooking.

Perfect Pan Seared Scallops

Blot scallops with paper towel to remove any water. Salt and pepper.
Heat large non-stick frying pan, add 2 tablespoons olive oil.
Make sure frying pan is hot before adding scallops but not smoking.
Add scallops leaving plenty of space between. Overcrowding the pan will drop the pan temperature and cause scallops to steam rather than sear. (may have to do in batches)
Sear for about 2-4 minutes or when bottom is a nice golden brown. Don’t move them around in the pan or you will prevent them from forming that nice brown crust. After a couple of minutes have peek under to see if golden brown.
Turn to sear other side. (about 1-3 more minutes)
Add 2 tablespoons of butter to pan now.
Spoon the melted butter over the scallops as the other side finishes cooking.
Transfer to paper towel covered plate.
Keep warm in oven.

Pasta Carbonara

Start cooking pasta in large stainless steel pot.
In small bowl mix together cream, egg yolks and 3/4 of cheese.
In large skillet cook bacon until crisp, add shallots, garlic and 1/2 green onions.
When pasta is finished cooking, drain well, then add to skillet of bacon.
Toss well, then transfer to large bowl.
Add cream mixture to pasta and combined well. Make sure pasta is still hot in order to cook the eggs and melt the cheese.
Arrange pasta on plate, top with seared scallops, add some fresh ground pepper, grated parmesan, and green onions.

* I normally cook my bacon in the oven, I place it on a tin foil lined cookie sheet and cook it for 15 minutes at 350. Once the bacon is cooked let it cool and crumble, add it to the pan with the garlic and onions. You can also cook it right in the pan as stated in the recipe, both ways work very well. *

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Here is a picture of my first attempt, we went a little nuts and added some lobster to the recipe… We both found the lobster was a bit to strong tasting so stick with JUST the scallops. Also the market only had macaroni like pasta so that’s we used the first time, but went with the classic fettucini noodles the second time.

Here is the link to the original recipe, I changed very little (mostly to taste) because it was pretty much perfect. Hope you enjoy this dish as much as we do and don’t be afraid to SEAR THOSE SCALLOPS! http://www.artandthekitchen.com/2013/02/carbonara-with-pan-seared-scallops.html
And as always you can find the original recipe and link on my Pinterest in my Pinned and Made section.

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