Mussel, Shrimp and Scallop Paella

Hello all!

Long time no post, right!?

I’m hoping to be posting a lot more on here because I finally made the decision to go to culinary school this Fall! I’m so excited and in the mean time, I’m going to be cooking a lot and trying new things! My posts will very much be from a learning perspective and I will be sharing how I did things, things that I learned, how I messed up things and I how I would have changed things.  I hope you all will come on the journey with me!

So the other evening I was really in the mood for seafood and there is this great place where I live that sells fresh seafood, so I went and grabbed some scallops, shrimp and mussels.

I had never cooked mussels or scallops before and I bought the shrimp unpeeled with the vein still in. I wanted to try to do it myself so I could learn how.

It was very simple. Just take off the shell, cut the shrimp down the back and remove the dark vein with the tip of your knife.

I had a hard time deciding what I was going to make with them until I talked to my friend Lisa, who is my college age class Pastors wife at church.

(I’ve been trying to get her to make a food blog because she would be absolutely amazing at it. We’ll see!)

She suggested that I make Paella.

I had a hard enough time pronouncing what sounded like a very complicated dish to make, so I looked it up and found that’s actually really easy.

Basically, it’s shellfish and chicken and veggies and rice all in one pot.

It sounded so yummy so I decided to make it, and here’s how.

The Cast of Characters:

(Ignore the burn marks on the dutch oven….. it’s a long story)


6-10 Scallops

20-30 shrimp

20-25 mussels

2 cups of rice

1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved

3 bay leaves

3 cups of chicken stock

1 large onion, diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced

6 button mushrooms, sliced



olive oil




Oh, and I’m sure that you’ll notice that the scallops aren’t pictured above. I also decided last minute to throw a few sliced button mushrooms in, which also didn’t get pictured. Yeah, don’t be like me.

Before you cook the mussels, go through them and scrub them clean. Mine were already de-bearded but still had a few traces of beard. If some are open, press them shut for a few seconds and if they stay shut, they are still alive and are good. If not, toss them out. Then fill a large bowl with water 3 tbs of flour. Soak the mussels in the water and flour mixture for 30 minutes. This makes the mussels cough up any sand that may be in them. Once the 30 minutes is up, rinse them in fresh water.


Now, drizzle some olive oil and add 2 tbs of butter to a dutch oven. Heat it over medium high heat and add the onions, garlic and mushrooms.

Saute until the onions just begin to get translucent. Then add the rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, 1 tbs salt, 1 tbs pepper, tomatoes, and 2 cups of rice.


Stir the rice around and get it coated in the oil and let cook for about 2 minutes, then add the chicken stock to de-glaze the pan.

Let the stock cook for a few minutes thicken and evaporate slightly.

Take the bay leaves out of the pot and add the mussels.

Cook for about 10 minutes covered, stirring occasionally and then cook uncovered until the broth evaporates to your desired thickness and all of the mussels have opened.

Covering the pot and cooking for the ten minutes is important, because the steam cooks the mussels instead of boiling them ,which would make the rubbery.

In a separate pan add some olive oil and butter and saute the scallops on medium low heat. It should take about 4 minutes per side.


Set the scallops aside and then saute the shrimp, which will take roughly the same amount of time per side.

Once the shrimp is done you are ready to plate.




First, I had too many mussels. About 10-15 too many.

Second, I wish I would have cooked the mussels separately and the scallops and shrimp in the rice and veggies. I wish this because then I would’ve plated the mussels separately and it would have been a lot easier to eat this way.

Over all, it was absolutely delicious.

The broth was absolutely delicious and everything blended very well. I would definitely recommend this to make if you are craving some sea food.


Snow Cream!

Here in Southwest Virginia, we just had a huge snow storm come through.

Typically, when it snows we will get around 2 inches.

Well, we got around 4-8 this time.

We have plenty of snow to go around and what better way to have fun with it than make snow cream!

Snow cream is something that my grandmother made for my Mom and her brother and has been passed down since.

It’s a really good sweet treat to make, especially if you get kids involved.

the recipe really has no measurements, you just have to eyeball everything depending to your tastes and how the snow is at the time,

To begin, go outside and get a large bowl of snow.Image

Then grab a can of sweetened condensed milk and pour a generous helping in.


Give it a stir, and see if you’ll need more sweetened condensed milk or snow.

You want to aim for a snow cone texture, so add more snow as needed.


After stirring in the sweetened condensed milk in the picture above, I still had to add in some more snow. so if you don’t like things too sweet, take it easy on the milk. Or, you could make it as sweet as you want and add more snow.


If you happened to not have any sweetened condensed milk and you didn’t want to risk your life going out in the snow and ice to get some, you can substitute it with: heavy cream, vanilla and sugar.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Hey y’all!

So browsing one of my favorite bloggers, photographers and chefs (Ree Drummond) website, I seen a recipe that I thought would be awesome!

It’s Chicken Tortilla Soup and the simplicity and uniqueness of the recipe is what drew me to it.

Here is the link to her recipe of the soup.

I changed it up just slightly because I wanted to put my own touch to it.

I added turmeric to the spices used on the chicken and in the soup. It gave it a wonderful flavor and an even better color.

I also sauteed the vegetable in olive oil AND butter.

I live in the south…

Butter is part of the holy food trinity here.

I also used 1 can of black beans, 2 cans of navy beans and 1 can of corn.

Ree’s recipe doesn’t call for corn at all, but hey, why not?

I substituted Sun Dried Tomato Paste for the regular stuff also.

I brushed each tortilla with olive oil and baked them in the oven until crisp, and then pinched off pieces to garnish the soup.

The cherry on top of the whole thing is that I added half a block of shredded gruyere cheese.

The gruyere along with some scallions was also used to garnish the soup.

But anywho, enjoy these pictures of the soup while I suffer through this food coma.

Chicken Tortilla Soup1

Chicken Tortilla Soup2

Chicken Tortilla Soup3

Chicken Tortilla Soup4

It. Was. Divine.

Instagram: White Chocolate Pound Cake

Today was Thanksgiving dinner day for my Mom’s side of the family.

It. Was. Delicious.

This cake was my favorite dessert. My aunt Rhonda made it and it was mouth watering.

It’s a white chocolate pound cake topped with cherries, grapes, powdered sugar and sprigs of sage and rosemary for garnish.

She also made a sauce to go on top made of raspberries, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice and zest.

I’m now going to go lay down and let this food coma subside.


Helping Your Community

Hey everyone!

It’s been FOREVER, it feels, since I last posted.

Well…turns out….it has been.

Instead of just giving you the “I’ve been super busy” excuse, I’ll just prove it.

I’ve been really active in my church, the college age class and I’ve been given a few opportunities there as well.

Firstly, I am now over all Media related who’s-it’s and what’s-it’s galore.

(Yes, that was a Little Mermaid reference. I’m a Disney freak, I can’t help it.)

So with that job, I’m responsible for keeping the church website up to date, make any posters and/or flyers that are needed, be available to take pictures at all events, etc. etc.

I’m also getting ready to start helping out in the youth group there, which I’m SO excited about.

I’ve also been job hunting like crazy and finally got one!


A week or so ago, my church held a Clothing Drive.

The church does annual yard sales and we always have people donate clothes to us.

So, instead of saling the clothes, we decided to give them away.

We had TONS of clothes for all sizes and ages, and it was awesome to be able to bless the community with free clothes, and free hot dogs as well!

This was our lovely volunteers, and let me tell ya, these people are truly, apart from my family, the biggest blessing to me.

And yes, I’m the 6th from the left, top row. I had a serious debate with myself on whether or not I should blur myself out, but decided not to. So, could you just not look there, kthnxbai.

So, the question is:

Do you help out in your community? If so, what do you do to help out?

If not, what would you like to get involved in or plan to help your community?

Have a blessed day everyone!!

Mountain Dew Cake!

A few months ago, I was given a very special book. This book was a recipe book given to me by my grandmother, which was filled with all of her favorite and most used recipes.

My family is a food-loving family, let’s make no mistake about that, and this recipe book is like a gift from the heavens.

I was flipping through the book last night, seeing one of my favorite things that my mammaw makes and having to wipe the drool from my mouth when I came across something peculiar.

This peculiar something involves this:

And this:

And this:

This cake has to be one of the easiest things in the world to make, and the outcome is literally mouthwatering.

So, basically what you need to do is mix the packet of Jello with the box of yellow cake mix.

Simple enough.

Then add in four eggs, 3/4 cups of vegetable oil, and 12 ounces of Mountain Dew. I chose to use Diet Mountain Dew, because personally, I think it tastes better.

You should have a little something that looks like this:

And then this fizzy goodness:

Then you just have to whisk the heck out of it.

Pour into a greased bundt pan and bake for 40-50 minutes on 375 degrees, or until you can insert a toothpick into the middle of the cake and it comes out clean.

Once the cake is done, take it out and before it cools too much, make a glaze out of:

  • 1 stick of butter
  • 1/4 cup Mountain Dew
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 cup – 1 1/2 cups of powder sugar

Pour the glaze over the cake, while it’s still in the pan, and allow to cool. The glaze will thicken and soak into the cake and just become heavenly.

Why isn’t there pictures of this, you may ask yourself? Well, because I’m a goober and forgot to take pictures of it….and that’s just what goobers do.

Here is the mouth watering, drool inducing, smack-yo-mama delicious results.

Can We Just Talk About Food?

If you know me in real life, then you know that I LOVE food.

Chicken, beef, sweets, soups, salads, homemade, take out. You name it, I’m a fan.

So, I decided that I am going to start cataloging some of my favorite foods here on The Rustic Lens, all while getting to practice and perfect food photography.

All you’ll have to do is check back here often, and click the “Food” tab on the top menu bar.

So, to get us started off on our Food Adventures, is Lemon Pepper Chicken.

All you will need for this simple, mouth-watering recipe is:

  • 1 whole chicken
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 2 tablespoons pepper
  • 2 tablespoons Lemon Pepper seasoning
  • 2 lemons
  • 1 onion
  • and 1 big appetite

To start, pour the olive oil over the chicken and rub it in. This serves several purposes. The oil keeps the chicken skin moist so it can brown well in the oven without burning. It also helps keep the other ingredients stuck on the chicken….and it just tastes good. Then, zest and squeeze both lemons over the chicken, and stuff the chicken with the left over lemons and the halved onion. Sprinkle the salt, pepper and Lemon Pepper seasoning and rub in. Cook the chicken 45 minutes to an hour, depending on the size of your chicken.