Recipe: Cranberry & Nut Israeli Couscous Salad

I found this recipe while searching for a couscous recipe that had cranberries and nuts in it, I had an idea what to use for dressing, but ran across this recipe on Epicurious – it used spices that I definitely would not have used, but am so glad that I did. This recipe is one that was apparently created at Whole Foods. I checked their site for the recipe, but it wasn’t there. I did find it on Epicurious. This is a great side dish/salad that goes well with pretty much everything! It can be served warm or cold. This is a quick and easy recipe that will put a smile on your face! I added fresh orange wedges to it, and that makes all the difference, it takes it from a really good recipe to a blow your mind recipe. Yep, just with a few oranges!

Note: This recipe calls for Israeli couscous. I always thought of couscous as the tiny grain like pasta, which I never cared for, but after reading about it on Cookthink.com I saw that it was entirely diffferent. It’s puffier, this is what it looks like (the other couscous looks a bit like sand)…

Israeli CousCous [Cookthink.com]
Israeli CousCous [Cookthink.com]
This is the description from Cookthink.com:

Like couscous, so-called Israeli couscous are small, round, pasta-like granules made from semolina and wheat flour.

While the Israeli company Osem claims to have “invented” Israeli couscous in the 1950s, it is simply a marketing term for what was known previously as North African berkukes or Palestinian matfoul and popular in Jordan, Syria and Lebanon.

Unlike familiar small, yellow semolina-based North African couscous, Israeli couscous (which is sometimes called pearl couscous) is twice as big and is toasted rather than dried. This gives it a nutty flavor and a sturdy composition that gives it a chewy bite and makes it stand up to sauce.

Israeli couscous can be used in salads, soups or as a base for chicken or fish. It works well when prepared like a rice pilaf.

Here’s the recipe – Click to print this recipe from Epicurious

israeli couscous with cranberries and pecans

ingredients

Salad:
2 cups Israeli couscous, uncooked
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup toasted pecans, quartered
2 scallions, minced
Dressing:
3 tbsp canola oil (I used olive oil)
1.5 tbsp champagne vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
1 orange, zest
1/2 orange, juiced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1/2 tsp dried tarragon
Salt and pepper to taste

NOTE: I added 2 1/2 oranges, cut into wedges (the other half is juiced in the above steps) – this made the recipe over the top good!

preparation

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil, and add the couscous. When it’s done (roughly 8-10 mins, or when it’s al dente), drain it but do not rinse. Set aside and let cool while you mince the scallions, toast and chop the pecans, and make the dressing.

In a small bowl, whisk together the canola oil, vinegar, orange zest and juice, spices and salt and pepper.

In a large bowl, combine the couscous, cranberries, pecans and scallions. Pour the well-whisked dressing over it and toss to combine.

Serve immediately, or chill in the fridge for a few hours to blend the flavors.

This is what I did:
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Set out ingredients…

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Toast nuts in a dry non stick pan just until they start to turn a light brown and you can begin to smell them; beware, this step can go from good to bad quickly, so get the pan off the stove once you start to smell them roasting.

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Zest your orange (not the white part) – In a bowl mix the olive oil, vinegar, fresh squeezed orange juice, zest and spices…

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Cut oranges into wedges or smaller pieces, however you like it… this will add a nice sweet burst of flavor- I don’t think you can have too many!

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After you cook the couscous in boiling water, as you would pasta (I did mine 6 minutes and it was perfect), drain it and put it into a bowl. Then, chop your green onions…

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Pour the dressing over the cooked couscous – oooowie, smells good, doesn’t it?

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Add the dried cranberries and orange segments…

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Add the green onions that you chopped a few minutes ago…

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Then add the toasted nuts…

T A D A ! !
T A D A ! !

Now you would think that I would put a serving in a pretty little dish and take a photo… but did I? Nope… I was hungry and I totally missed this step!  It would have been pretty too! We had grilled chicken, couscous and sautéed spinach – close your eyes a picture it… on a pretty plate… smell the wonderful combination of orange, roasted nuts, mmmmm… you know you want it… now go get busy! ENJOY!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

My post from a year ago… Featured Artist… Camille Przewodek!

My post from two years ago… Hootie and the Blowfish Concert…

Read More http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/member/views/ISRAELI-COUSCOUS-WITH-CRANBERRIES-AND-PECANS-A-LA-WHOLE-FOODS-50040927#ixzz2bILpVVTV

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Fabulous Recipe: Lime Shrimp with Coconut Rice! Quick, easy and delicious!

LimeShrimpCoconutRice WmSonoma

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Williams-Sonoma has a fabulous recipe. It’s quick, easy and comforting. The way the flavor of the coconut milk gives the rice just a faint taste and makes it nice and creamy is just so comforting! The shrimp cooked in a little butter with lime zest, juice and green onions is perfection. Click HERE for the link to the original Williams-Sonoma recipe that you can print.

Below is my version. I cooked the full amount of rice, and made half the shrimp portion, since there are only two of us. The first time I made it there wasn’t much of a lime taste. The second time I upped the zest and lime juice and it was perfect! If I was making this for four people I would double the lime zest and juice and serve with a big tossed salad, some nice hot bread and olive oil!

MY VERSION OF LIME SHRIMP WITH COCONUT RICE – Serves 2 (Click HERE to view/print my version of the recipe):

Ingredients...

The ingredients… butter, white rice, water, coconut milk, lime, garlic, shrimp, green onions

(Note: I did not use cilantro… you either like it or it tastes like dish soap. I taste JOY dish soap. Pthewy!)

The rice

THE RICE

Start by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add 1 cup of rice and cook, stirring constantly, until well coated with butter (about 1 minute).

adding the coconut milk/water combo

Then stir in 1 1/2 cups coconut milk and 1 cup of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and cover. Cook until liquid is absorbed and the rice is tender (about 20 minutes).

THE SHRIMP

get ingredients ready...

I get the ingredients ready to use. Grate or mince the garlic, chop the green onions, zest and juice the lime, rinse and dry the shrimp and then proceed as follows:

While the rice cooks, grate the zest of one small lime and squeeze the juice from that same lime. About 5 minutes before the rice is ready, in a large fry pan over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.

adding the lime zest, juice and garlic

Add the garlic and lime (zest and  juice from 1 lime) and stir until the mixture is bubbly.

add shrimp and green onion

Add the 1/2 pound peeled, deveined shrimp (more or less to taste) and the 4 chopped green onions (white and green). Saute until the shrimp are just opaque and cooked through, about 3 minutes (do not overcook). Stir in half of the cilantro if using.

FINISH THE RICE

Fluff the rice and gently stir in the remaining cilantro (if using). There are four servings of rice, which you can use to heat up for a quick side dish. Spoon some rice onto a pretty plate and top with shrimp mixture.

Serves 2.

Wait. Until. You. Taste. It! See how quick and easy it is? The main portion is cooked in 5 minutes, right before the rice is ready! Woohoo, love that!

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Weeknight, by Melanie Barnard (Oxmoor House, 2006).

Catch you back here tomorrow!

How To Make An Apple Pie…

Apple pie. It’s the most American dessert on the planet. I call it “health pie”, ha ha… apples are fruit and fruit is healthy! Ok, so that may be pushing it, but it’s better than a pie without fruit, look at it that way! With the use of a good pie crust (thank you Pillsbury!), this recipe comes together so quickly you won’t believe it. People will want your recipe… the paparazzi will be snapping pictures of you and following you around like a movie star, seriously, it’s that good!

APPLE PIE  (adapted from Better Homes & Gardens  New Cookbook, 12th edition):

Ingredients

2 3/4 pounds of thinly sliced peeled tart apples (Granny Smith)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (or a wee bit less)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour  (I also sprinkle maybe a few teaspoons in the bottom of the empty pie crust before I add the apples)

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I use a little more)

1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Milk to brush on top crust (optional)

Raw Sugar  to sprinkle on top crust (optional)

2 pie crusts (homemade or I use 1 box Pillsbury Pie Crust in a red box, refrigerated section in grocery store)

I use a deep dish pie plate, that way I can sneak in more apples… generally buy a 3# bag and use about 2 3/4# of them… leaves a few to munch on as a snack!

Personally I use Granny Smith and no lemon juice… the original recipe calls for whatever type apple you like, if it’s not granny smith, then add 1tablespoon of fresh lemon juice.

Other than the crust, there aren’t a lot of ingredients… see, quick and easy!

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Peel and slice your apples…

Line a pie plate with one pie crust…

In a large mixing bowl add the sugar, flour, cinnamon and nutmeg. Give it a good stir, then toss in the apples… and gently toss to coat the apples with the sugar mixture.

Add the apple mixture to the lined pie plate… and place the second crust on top of the apples, then pinch to form a seal, you can do this with your fingers then press with a fork, or your thumbs to make it look nicer… doesn’t really matter what it looks like because it’s going to taste so darn good! Hey, who’s old looking hands are those??!! Egads! Do you realize how difficult it is to crimp a pie crust with you non-dominant hand while taking a photo of yourself with your other hand? Hmmm, awkward, but wanted to show you it’s just pressing the two together, however you can do it…

Cut slits in the top crust to allow steam to escape. This is important so that you don’t end up with a soggy pie crust! I cut the slits in the crust and then use the knife to separate it a wee bit so it doesn’t fall back together… soggy pie crust = sadness, trust me… hmmm, sounds like I know from experience…

Some people like to brush the top crust lightly with milk, then sprinkle sugar. I did it this time, sprinkled (very lightly) raw sugar. Sometimes I do this, most of the time I don’t. I like it both ways. Top with a pie crust shield like Mrs. Anderson’s pie crust shield if you’ve got one, otherwise foil works, it’s just more cumbersome. You cover the edge of the pie to prevent over browning. Usually with this shield I can leave it on the entire time (60 minutes), but check it after the pie has been in the oven for a while and make your decision…

I place the pie dish on a foil lined cookie sheet. Sometimes it gets wacky bubbly and overflows and turns to glue. Very time consuming to get clean. Foil is my friend.

Ok, it’s ready to pop in the 375 degree oven for 40 minutes. Remove foil/shield and bake 20 minutes more or until fruit is tender (I stick a fork in a slit and if it goes through the apple easily then the fruit is tender) AND the FILLING IS BUBBLY. That’s how you know it’s done. Watch the edges where the juice leaks out, it should be bubbling.

When done, take out of the oven and cool on a wire rack. And may I say… good luck with that part! The waiting is a killer, sometimes you just have to dive in with a fork to “see if it’s ok”… oh, so what if it’s runny until it cools. My secret trick for waiting for it to cool without eating it… LEAVE. THE. HOUSE. It’s foolproof!

Warm pie and vanilla ice cream is nice, but if you don’t make it too sweet you really don’t need the ice cream, and if you leave off the ice cream then this dessert is HALF THE FAT… ha… boy, can I justify a pie or what?! Enjoy!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

What’s for dinner? Greek Salad with Grilled Chicken – quick and delicious!

Just seeing this salad makes my mouth water… It. Was. That. Good. Super healthy with a high tasty factor built in. Did I mention how quick it is to whip together? An added bonus for sure. Like all salads you can add whatever toppings you like. I kept mine simple. Tomato, Cucumber, Olives, Grilled Chicken and Feta. Period. OHMYGOSH. That hot grilled chicken makes the feta a little soft and to-die-for… There really isn’t a recipe per say, just tossing ingredients together… this is what I did:

Coat the skinless boneless chicken breasts (or whatever parts appeal to you) with olive oil. Sprinkle with Salt and Pepper. Once the grill is hot, toss it on and cook like you normally would. Make sure it’s completely cooked.

Meanwhile, assemble the salads, if you finish before the chicken is done, place them in the fridge and keep them cold…

Place the salad in bowls, this time I used FRESH EXPRESS TRIPLE HEARTS which was really nice, it’s a combination of Romaine, Green Leaf and Butter lettuce.

Cut up a Tomato and a Cucumber and add to the salad. Toss on some Olives and sprinkle (I like copious amounts) of Feta, this is what makes it special!

Drizzle a little olive oil and a little rice wine vinegar (very mild, or another vinegar if you prefer)… add a light sprinkle of Salt and Pepper. You can add a small sprig of fresh Thyme if you like, I didn’t… it truly doesn’t need it!

Once the chicken is done, cut it into bite size pieces and place on top of the salad… you can serve with a baggette if you like. We didn’t and it was plenty of food for dinner!

This salad is so refreshing on a hot day! I hope you enjoy!

Catch you back here tomorrow!

A quick and tasty dessert for a hot blistery day!

How is this for a nice tasty dessert on a day that is so hot and steamy? The temperatures are brutal throughout the country… so once in a while you need a little treat… something quick and easy, and SOOO good!

I bought some fabulous ice cream cones at EarthFare, they’re organic, I bought these because I didn’t want all the other unpronounceable ingredients… these had REAL ingredients, and they are C H E A P, no sugar and barely a calorie!

That along with some good ice cream and WELLA! A treat that can’t be beat! Sometimes a little cone just makes the day even better! This is a fast and fun dessert that will make your tastebuds smile!

Enjoy!  Catch you back here tomorrow!

Roasted Shrimp and Tomato Orzo with Feta… Cool on a hot day!

I am about to make you a very happy camper… I’m going to share with you a recipe that is OUT OF THIS WORLD DIVINE! This salad is refreshing on a hot summer day (hot is an understatement, I do believe the tires on my car are melting as I type this)… You can throw this together in the morning and have it for lunch or dinner… it’s a great light dinner. You know what Dr. Oz says… Eat breakfast like a King, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper. Meaning to eat your biggest meal first and lighten up from there. I know. I don’t like to eat breakfast either… but… Dr. Oz said so…! We try to do that when we can, it’s not always possible, but once in a while we get it right…

Ok, onto the reason I’m going to make you so happy… I’m going to share a recipe with you that I have made so many times… I have it perfected… It’s a combination of a few different recipes with my own twists added in… so here goes.

Salad Ingredients

Dressing Ingredients

Pans Prepared with Tomatoes and Shrimp to put in oven to roast… (BEFORE pic), I love before and afters, don’t you?

Tada! What the tomatoes and shrimp look like after roasting. Note: I cut the tomatoes in half (as shown in foreground), be careful, contents are hot and they spit, BIG TIME! I also cut the shrimp in half, you do what you like…

After you whisk together the lemon juice (FRESH lemon please! Red wine vinegar (or whatever you’ve got), salt, pepper and dill. Fresh if you’ve got it, dried if you don’t. Mix it up then slowly drizzle in the olive oil this will make it emulsify (it helps make it cohesive, keeps the oil and vinegar from separating). Pour it onto the orzo and stir to coat.

Add the tomatoes to the orzo mixture. Make sure you add all that wonderful sweet juice as well! It only makes it better!

Then toss in those wonderful roasted shrimp. By now you’ve got to be going crazy to taste the final product, eh? Hee. This isn’t the clearest shot, but it’s COOL, look how I’ve captured the shrimp literally  jumping into that bowl… a true action shot!

Next… add the cheese, also, not pictured are the olives and cucumbers… I usually throw a splash or two of olive juice as well, but that’s a secret so keep it to yourself, ok? Also, the cucumber I usually add right before serving. I love cucumbers, but they can get weird, which rubs off on everything else, you don’t want weird orzo shrimp tomato feta salad do you? Then trust me on this… add it before serving…

Now with all my bossy comments about what to do just know, you can do what you like, add however much of an ingredient you like. Sometimes I don’t have cucumber, so I don’t add it (*GASP*), this time I had a leftover banana pepper, so I used it and it was AWESOME!  Hey, if you make this, let me know. It will most certainly become a staple, especially during the hot summer months!

ROASTED SHRIMP AND TOMATO ORZO WITH FETA

Salad Ingredients:

1 cup orzo

3/4-1 lb. shrimp

4 green onions, chopping, including green

Big handful of pitted Kalamata olives

6 oz. feta cheese, crumbled

1 pint grape tomatoes, washed and dried

1/2-1 cucumber, peeled and deseeded (or an English cucumber with skin)

Dressing Ingredients:

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Fresh or dried dill

1/3 cup olive oil

1.  In a large pot of boiling water (you do need a large pot, I tried with a smaller pot and it didn’t work), cook the orzo according to package directions (mine said 9-11 minutes, I cooked it for 9). Drain thoroughly. I used a sieve otherwise with my colander the orzo would have gone through the cracks… not good.)
2. In a bowl whisk together lemon juice, vinegar, salt, pepper and dill. Slowly add the olive oil while constantly whisking to emulsify).
3. Heat the oven to 400. Pat the shrimp dry and toss with olive oil, spread on a baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil (to ease cleanup), sprinkle with S&P. Roast for about 6-7 minutes or until shrimp are done, DO NOT OVERCOOK. Remove from oven and set aside.
4. Toss the dried grape tomatoes in a bowl with a little olive oil (you don’t need much), spread on a baking sheet lined with heavy duty aluminum foil, sprinkle with S&P, roast for 5-10 minutes or until tomatoes just start to get wrinkly and maybe one or two does burst. Remove from oven and set aside.
NOTE: if you have a convection oven, here is where you can save some time, put it on convection bake, and you can put them both in at the same time. WOOHOO!
5. Add the orzo to a large bowl.
6. Stir in dressing to coat.
7. Add the shrimp, tomatoes, green onions, olives and feta – I usually wait to add the cucumbers until right before serving (they can get watery).
You can eat it right away (room temp) or chill it first.

Catch you back here tomorrow!

Steak fajitas… quick and easy! Delish!

Quick and easy fajitas

You know when you need to get out of a rut and try something different? Summertime is the hardest time for me, in the winter I can think up all kinds of things that bake, stew, roast, all with the oven on slowly making a meal into a masterpiece while heating the kitchen all at the same time. Then it’s summer. It’s hot and the last thing you want to do is spend too much time with the stove/oven on… enter FAJITAS. I usually make them with chicken, but on this day we needed a break from chicken. So I ran to the store and got 1/2# of flank steak. I whipped together a marinade in a ziplock with a clove or two of garlic (use the microplane!), some olive oil, and some lime juice (one nice big wedge squeezed into the bag). I then mixed the ingredients in the bag by mushing around with my hot little hands, then tossed in the hunk o’beef and let it sit and fester for a while (in the fridge of course!). Actually that night dinner plans changed so it sat in the bag for about 12 hours which was perfect! Fred threw the hunk o’meat on the grill, then right before it was ready he took it off, wrapped it in foil and allowed it to rest. Then we sliced it at an angle against the grain. We heated up some tortilla’s that we had, cut up some tomato, green onion, grated some cheddar and threw on a nice plop of greek yogurt! (We use it instead of sour cream). Oh, and we had some of that tasty salsa from Trader Joe’s… nice touch. It’s quick, you can put what you like on it, you can spice it up more (or less), add avocado, onions, etc. Use chicken, tofu, steak, fish or whatever else you may have. As they say… No rules, it’s just right.

Enjoy a fajita tonight! Catch you back here tomorrow!