Lemon Couscous

A few years ago I found out that my grandpa’s grandpa was Moroccan. I had already been into Middle Eastern food for a while, but that got me pretty revved up about it. I learned a few things, my favorite of which were preserved lemons and tagines.

 

These days, many of my coworkers come from Africa, so I get to eat all sorts of tasty food. We love potlucks and I feel very blessed. When one talented lady brought in her couscous, that sparked in me the desire to try it out. I had some lemon-marinated chicken in the fridge and ran with that. I searched the internet for couscous recipes that used the ingredients I felt like using, then came up with this mash-up of my favorites.

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Lemon Couscous

  • 2-3 chicken breasts
  • 1 -2 boxes of couscous (2 makes a surprising amount. it’s what I made, but you can probably get away with 1)
  • 3-5 carrots
  • 1 medium – big onion
  • 1/4 – 1/3 head cauliflower
  • 1 can chickpeas
  • tomatoes
  • about 4 cups veggie broth
  • cumin
  • pepper
  • allspice
  • lemon zest
  • tomato paste
  • turmeric
  • celery salt
  • bragg’s liquid aminos
  • celery salt

 

 

  1. Chop up all the veggies into stew-sized chunks, except for the tomatoes
  2. Slice chicken into bite sized pieces
  3. Cook chicken and onions for about 5 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Add the carrots and a 1/4 cup broth, if it’s not juicy enough. You basically want something to help stew, but not quite simmer, the carrots in.
  5. Add spices, cover, and let cook for about 10 minutes. The carrots should soften slightly.
  6. While this is going, cook the couscous. It happens pretty fast, so it’s easy to do while waiting between steps.
  7. Add cauliflower, cover and let cook for 10 minutes more.
  8. I let mine stew for about 30 minutes, but if you’re hungry you could eat it sooner.
  9. Slice fresh tomatoes and serve on top.

Honey Jalapeno Chicken

So recently I’ve learned a few things. One, roasting chickens is awesome. It’s cheap, easy, tasty, and impressive. Two, allspice is delicious.

I’ve been trying to save up money because I’m going to Costa Rica in August, so I’ve been eating a little cheaper (hah) but still pretty well. Chicken’s a good way to go with it, especially when you buy whole ones. They also give you a pretty good chance to experiment with flavor. Every time I’ve prepared chicken this way it’s been completely different, and it’s not hard to be creative.

This time honey jalapeno was the start.

Ingredients:
Whole chicken, thawed and innards removed
5 jalapenos
~2/3 cup honey
~3/4 cup water
~1/8 tsp allspice, ground
black pepper

The first thing I did was cut up the jalapenos and push them under the skin of the breasts and thighs. All five didn’t fit in there. The rest I put inside the cavity, save one which I used for the sauce.

Next I made a sauce to baste the chicken with as it was cooking. I combined the jalapeno, honey, water, allspice, and pepper in a saucepan and cooked on medium to start, then kept it on 2 as the chicken was cooking.

To go with the chicken, I scalloped some potatoes and put them in a pan under the chicken, to catch the drippings. Don’t cut them too thin, because they’ll just cook too fast and stick to the bottom if you do.

As for baking, there should be instructions on the packaging. I think it was 350 degrees for 20 minutes/lb. Mine was a five-pounder so it took a while. I started the chicken off with a little sauce, and every 15-20 minutes I brushed on some more. The whole process is very easy to walk away from, so long as there’s a timer going.

When there was only 20 minutes left, I opened up a can of chestnuts I had in the pantry and threw them in with the potatoes. (Chestnuts are amazing. If you’ve never had them, I highly recommend you do. They go really well with chicken and potatoes and drippin’s.)

With the chicken done and the oven on, I decided to make some asparagus to go with it. The timing worked out perfectly because by the time the asparagus was done, the chicken was cool enough to cut.

And wa-bham–cheap, easy, tasty dinner.

Berry Salad

Some might call this a summer salad because the fruit in it are summer fruit. But I feel silly doing that because there are so many summer fruit. But anywhoo.

My mom made a salad similar to this the other day and I felt the need to replicate it last night because it was so good.

What you need is:

Strawberries
Raspberries
(Mom made it with blueberries too, but when I went to the store they were all ugly and unappealing, so no blubes for me)
Equal amounts of walnuts and blue cheese
Spinach
Oil and vinegar

I also cooked some chicken to mix in with it. Nothing special, just skillet-ed, seasoned, and sliced.

Start by washing your fruit and slicing the strawberries.

And be sure to set some aside to make the dressing. I’d say one good-sized strawberry and 3 or 4 raspberries.

I used a food processor because I like my little Philbert, but we didn’t use one at Mom’s. A knife and whisk will do the job just fine.

Mince the berries and scoop them into a cup, then add oil and vinegar and whisk. So easy! Then do the obligatory taste test to make sure everything’s good and tweak if necessary.

Now for the walnuts and blue cheese. Pile them together on your cutting board.

Then chop to combine. That may sound weird, but trust me, it makes sense. As you cut the walnuts, the blue cheese kind of starts to coat them and they become one. Which I like a whole lot better than just lone blue cheese floating dejectedly around in my salad.

Then toss everything together!

Biscuit Pizza Trifecta

My friend’s mom showed me this idea the other day and it’s just so convenient and easy that I wanted to show everyone! Basically, instead of making pizza dough or buying a premade crust, you can use canned biscuit dough! The pizza’s don’t come out very big, but I’d say you could make three personal pizzas. An advantage of this is you don’t have to work with it a lot. Pretty much just mush the dough together and cut it into however many divisions you want, then cover it with a wet paper towel and a rag for 20 minutes to let it rise a little. It makes it softer and easier to work with. And because they’re so small, you don’t need a rolling pin to mold thing; a glass would work just fine (that’s actually what I’ve been using for most of my pizza making existence).

We took this opportunity to make some of our favorite pizzas.

Greek pizza, chicken mushroom pizza, and an imitation of the heart-attack breakfast pizza.

For those three we used:
1 can biscuit dough
Tomato sauce
Mozzarella
Spinach
Olives
Tater tots
Bacon
Sauteed mushrooms (video coming soon)
Parmesan (only because we some in the fridge)
Chicken (hoo-ray for leftovers!)

While the dough was rising, we baked the tots and cooked the bacon. (The mushrooms are from something I made the day before.) By that time, the dough was ready and we started the chicken mushroom pizza.

It’s pretty simple, about two tablespoons sauce, cheese, pile on the mushrooms, then the chicken.

Next came the breakfast pizza.

Again, a little sauce, some cheese, then pile on the tots and bacon. Yes.

And finally the redemption pizza; the greek pizza.

This one’s a little bit different. There’s no sauce, just spinach, olives, chicken and cheese (I didn’t show the cheese picture because it’s not as pretty).

And they were all super tasty.

The dough came out nicely. It seemed fluffier and flakier than normal dough (more biscuit-y in other words). But it was a little weird reheated. Not bad, just really biscuit-y. But I’d definitely recommend it as a quick fix.

Crispy Orange Beef

I had this dish for the first time at a Chinese/biker/piano restaurant on campus and it was super tasty. The first time I attempted anything like this, I accidentally made orange chicken jello (yeah, it was pretty terrible). But now I’ve figured it out!

This is just the basic orange beef, but feel free to add veggies (I’ve done it with broccoli) or peppers or whatever you want once you’ve got it down.

For 2-4 people, here’s what you’ll need:
A little over a pound of beef (we used top round steak)
Corn starch
Orange juice (use a sall container–I’ll elaborate later)
1/3 cup Sugar
1/3 cup Rice Vinegar
1 tbs Soy sauce
1 tsp Salt
Ginger
An orange

First get your orange juice reducing. If you want to skip this, you could use orange juice concentrate, but it’s kind of a waste because they don’t sell 2 tbs size containers. Just put it on the stove on a med-low heat, stirring when it gets bubbly. It’s going to take a while for it to reduce down, so that’s why you start it first.

You really don’t need to worry much about it until you need to use it, so focus on other things, but at the same time, glance over at it every once in a while just to make sure it doesn’t burn or boil over.

Now start slicing the meat. For optimum crispiness, thin slices are recommended. For optimum laziness, regular slices.

When they’re all sliced up, lay them flat on a paper towel on a cooking sheet and put them in the fridge. (They’re more crispy if there is no excess liquid.)

Let them sit in the fridge for about 20 minutes while you move on to other things.

While still keeping an eye on your orange juice, start grating the ginger and orange zest. You can use the smallest holes on a normal grater for this. And by the end you want about 2 tbs grated ginger and 1 tbs orange zest.

By about now the orange juice should be done. I poured it back into it’s original container to store for future use, and there was about 1/3 of the original amount.

And now to make the sauce, combine in a bowl the 1/3 cup sugar, 1/3 cup rice vinegar, 2 tbs Orange juice concentrate, 1 tbs soy sauce, and 1 teaspoon salt. Stir a little and voila.

In the last few minutes of the beef being in the fridge, prep your area.

Fill a bowl with some of your corn starch, set aside, and fill a small sauce pan about halfway with some canola oil. Also, prep a landing plate with a paper towel for the fried beef.

When the beef’s done, start frying. Start by coating the beef in corn starch.

And frying it in the hot oil for a few minutes, depending on how thin you sliced them. Mine only took about a minute. Use a slotted spoon or a similar tool to get them out of the oil.

And at this point you’re almost done! In a frying pan, heat the ginger and orange zest with some of the canola oil you fried in on a med-high heat. Toss in some garlic if you want (I totally did).

Let that sweat for a minute, then add the sauce.

When that warms up, toss in the beef and stir until each strip is coated.

If you wanted to add veggies, toss them in either before or at the same time as the beef, depending on how cooked you want them to be.

Now enjoy!

Andouille Alfredo

This one is modeled after something I had at a restaurant once in Louisiana. It was super tasty, and coincidentally, the same night I had the pasta, I met the chef at a friends house and then learned that this was no usual alfredo sauce with a cream base and parmesan cheese, but instead, it was roux based. This intrigued me, and so I decided to try it out. I accidentally made enough for 15 people, so you’re going to have to scale down what I did.

Here’s what I started with:

A stick butter (this is where I used way too much)
1/2 cup flour (same amount of butter)
2 Andouille sausage (my grocery store just came out with some chicken andouille, and I wanted to give it a try)
A little less than half a pound of parmesan
A pack of linguini
32 oz heavy whipping cream
1 tbs(ish) paprika
Salt, pepper, and minced garlic to taste

If you want to make less, start by using less butter and flour. The rest will be easy after that. I’d recommend using about a tablespoon of butter per person. That might end up in some leftovers, but nothing like what I ended up with. (And just FYI, expect a post with what I did with the leftover sauce.)

Ok, so, to start, cut up the sausage into whatever size pleases you. I opted for bigger, chunkier pieces because that’s similar to how I had it at the restaurant. Then heat them in the same pan you plan on making the sauce in.

You’ll notice that I started off in a skillet, but by the end I had to move to a soup pot. I literally made about 50 oz by the time I was done (that’s about 2 giant pasta sauce jar’s worth). And don’t clean it in between. The drippings from the sausage helps makes the sauce and helps integrate it’s flavor. I noticed that the flavor wasn’t as strong because it was chicken andouille, but it was definitely less fatty. So there are pluses and minuses to the chicken sausage.

When the sausage is warm and a little browned, take them out and start melting your butter.

When the butter’s done, toss in the flour, then stir to combine. At this point you’d be making a blond roux. Don’t worry about browning it, because you want it to keep this light flavor.

Keep in mind that I was winging this recipe. So, at this point, not really knowing what I was doing, I added the cheese.

I thought that melting the cheese into the roux would magically make a sauce. Not quite… It made a semi-solid roux and the as it kept cooking, the butter started separating. Supposedly more flour would help it keep it’s roux-iness, but I didn’t want a roux, I wanted a sauce. So I literally stopped in the middle and ran to the store to pick up some cream. All in all, I needed to add the whole 32 oz container to make it all stay homogenized. And once the cream was in, I added my spices.

Stir, stir, stir and add the sausage.

(See I told you I had to switch to a soup pot.)

Stir some more then serve.

Et puis, laissez les bons temps rouler.

Heart-shaped Chicken Breast

This is something really simple you can do that looks like you put in a lot of effort. And if you’re in to cute food, hearts are pretty much a must. This works really well for things like birthdays, anniversaries, or random cuteness days.

Basically, just take a chicken breast

and start to slice it in half. Note I said “start to;” you don’t want to cut all the way through the meat, otherwise you don’t end up with a heart, but with two half chicken breasts–and those are nowhere near as festive.

Once you’ve got it sliced, open it up.

Depending on the original shape of the breast, you may have to slice off a chunk. But don’t fret, it’s very simple.

And there you go, heart-shaped food.

You can cook it however you like, and an added plus from doing this is that they cook faster because they’re not as thick.

Instant Food

Normally I’m not that big a fan of instant food–I figure if you’re going to eat, you should make it worth it and eat something awesome, but things are different when more than half your things are in boxes. So I figured I’d write a post about the different instant foods I tried out before my kitchen was all the way unpacked.

The first thing I tried (and can’t find pictures of) was a frozen make-it-yourself orange chicken dish. It was neat because you actually were supposed to cook it in a skillet, not the mircowave, and the ingredients were separated for you to throw in like you normally would while cooking. The only thing that was done for you was the frying of the chicken. It came out really tasty, but a little too much for two people, but hooray for leftovers!

The next interesting one I tried was a prepackaged paella. Sounds weird, right? I’ve had real paella before, so I wasn’t even going to consider boxed paella until it was highly recommended to me by a customer.

It comes with seasoned rice and canned seafood.

And like the orange chicken, you cook it in a single skillet, all you need to add is water and stir a little. Overall, I liked the taste, but the mussels were a really weird, almost crumbly texture, so that made me kind of sad because mussels are normally super tasty. So I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it considering it was about $5 and that you can get a similar tasting rice for around a dollar:

Then there’s also the really simple stuff.

Grilled cheese sandwiches. Oh yeah.

I’ve made a few other things too, like butterkase-fontina fondue with chicken, apples, and bread for dipping, pudding (which I’ll be writing about later), and some more upgraded pasta. So I’ve found out that even if most of your stuff disappeared one day, there’s still plenty to cook.

BBQ Chicken Pizza

This one will balance out the last pizza.

Again, start off the dough with a coating of Greek seasoning and olive oil.

Next, ladle on some tomato sauce, with about a tablespoon or less of your favorite BBQ sauce.

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For thin crust pizzas like mine, you have to make sure not to add too much because that could make the dough come out soggy. What I put doesn’t look like a whole lot, but it’s plenty, especially since you’ll be putting more BBQ sauce on at the end.

Next, sprinkle on a handful of cheddar or mozzarella (I like using both for this pizza). Don’t go overboard; this is only the first layer.

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After that, pile on some chicken, onions (either green or purple), cilantro (if you’re in to that sort of thing), and more cheese. It looks prettiest when there’s a mix of cheddar and mozz on the top.

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Bake for 10-15 minutes at 375 and voila:

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Right after taking it out of the oven we put on the decorative and delicious BBQ sauce. You can do whatever pattern you want, so be creative!