Red Pepper And Broccoli Cous Cous Pilaf

Red Pepper and Broccoli Couscous Pilaf

I really love couscous. It’s so simple, almost flavorless, but I love the fluffy texture, the fact that it fills you up like grains without weighing you down, how well it seems to work with other ingredients, oh and how good it is for you. It’s gotta be the grain with the least amount of calories. šŸ˜‰ Even when you go whole grain, you gain extra nutrition and lose nothing in flavor. Kickin’

Steamy Broccoli Red Pepper and Onion

I love the colors of this dish the bright reds and greens of the vegetables pairing very well with the earthy tone of whole wheat couscous; creating a well balanced work of art that sustains tastefully and visually. While I wouldn’t call this a heavy dish, couscous is a grain and pushes this to the upper echelon of the “light” scale. Serve as a main course that won’t weigh down or as a side dish, paired with some protein. I can see some sort of chicken dish as an excellent accompaniment.

Aromatics and Herbs

Red Pepper And Broccoli Cous Cous Pilaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 red bell pepper; diced
1 yellow onion; chopped
2 cloves garlic; minced
1/2 jalapeƱo pepper (or an entire on depending on your heat limits)
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
generous pinch of salt (optional)

6 oz broccoli; chopped into small florets (2-3 cuts depending on the size)
1/2 couscous

Steam your broccoli until only slightly tender, about five minutes and remove from your steaming water source. Set aside. Bring a bit more than half a cup of water to a boil i a small pot, add couscous, remove from heat and let sit, covered, for at least five minutes. Fluff with a fork.

Cook your onions (with the oil) in a large pan at medium heat for one minute. Add the red bell pepper and cook until the onions become partially translucent and the red pepper has become slightly soft; approximately 5 minutes. Stir occasionally. Reduce to medium heat, add your garlic, jalapeƱo and herbs and cook until the garlic is fragrant; approximately 1 minute.

Reduce to medium-low heat and add your broccoli, couscous, tamari and salt. Mix well and cook until the broccoli is tender. Remove from heat, serve and enjoy.

Moroccan Chicken Couscous

Earlier in the week Edwin tweeted that, “Sadness is over baking your lemon squares.” Today I’m going to counter that by adding that sadness is cooking something delicious and not taking good photos of it because (you later realized) your flash was on a wonky setting.

Oh well! I’ll do the best I can? How about a sweet picture of my pup as a peace offering?

pupface

Finding myself in a bit of a dinner slump after finishing my midterms at school last week lead me back to my trusty “Great Food Fast” cookbook by Martha Stewart (If you haven’t entered her contest yet to win a free new book, click here!). I flipped to the winter section before spring is upon us, and I found some great recipes I hadn’t made before.

chickencouscous2

I’ve made her Moroccan Chicken Couscous twice this week – once to test it out and play around and then later in the week to bring to a friends house. This is a great meal to turn to if you want something healthy, light, relatively fast and easy and flavorful without heat (for spice-wary people like Edwin!).

I only made some relatively minor tweeks because things are pretty good! I did change the ratio of things a bit, added more veggies and changed the proportions to serve 2 (with leftovers) or 3.

Moroccan Chicken Couscous
adapted from Everyday Food: Great Food Fast

4 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs (if you can’t find skinless, you can remove the skin yourself with kitchen scissors)
5 carrots, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 1/2 inch pieces
2 small onions, thinly sliced
1 can whole tomatoes (14 oz), drained
1 can chickpeas/garbanzo beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed
1 3/4 cups chicken stock or reduced-sodium canned broth
1/4 cup water
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 zucchini, halved lengthwise and quartered
Couscous

In a 5 or 6 quart pot with a lid (or Dutch oven if you have one), combine all ingredients except zucchini. Break up whole tomatoes using a wooden spoon.

Bring the pot to simmer over medium heat. Cover and cook for about 15 minutes, then add quartered zucchini. Replace lid and cook until chicken is done yet tender, approximately 15 more minutes.

When you have 5 minutes left, cook couscous according to package instructions or by using Martha’s “Best Couscous” method. Spoon couscous into bowls, then spoon chicken, vegetables and broth on top.

My New Favorite Way to Cook Shrimp!

I’m still obsessed with my Anheuser-Busch Great Food Great Beer cook book. I know, it doesn’t look like much… but it really has great easy recipes that you can throw together on a weeknight (and isn’t that what you’re here for?).

prepping

This cook book led me to my new favorite way to cook shrimp – drenched in beer. It’s not the first time I’ve cooked or baked with beer and had success… Check out my previous posts:

Guinness Beer Brownies And [photos of] Babes

Taco Salad with Drunken Black Beans

You don’t need to use a fancy beer, a bottle of Budweiser will do just fine. I adapted the recipe from the cook book a bit, adding a few extra spices to give it more depth of flavor.

greenbeanscooking shrimp in beer and garlic

I also cooked the shrimp in a grill pan instead of a heavy skillet, but because you’re drowning the shrimp in beer it probably doesn’t make a difference. Morgan and I enjoyed this dinner over couscous and spicy Szechuan style green beans (spice-phobes beware!).

drunken shrimp and szechuan green beans

Drunken Shrimp with Szechuan Style Green Beans
(makes dinner for 2)

Drunken Shrimp
16 frozen shrimp, thawed and peeled according to package instructions
1 bottle (12 ounces) beer of your choice
5 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 turns of salt, 12 turns of pepper

Measure and combine cayenne, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small ingredient bowl. Heat large skillet on medium high heat. Add a little bit of oil when hot. Add garlic and stir quickly so that garlic doesn’t burn. Add shrimp, followed by spice mixture, and stir.

Immediately pour 1/2 bottle of beer into pan and cook for about 3 minutes. Turn the shrimp and add remaining 1/2 bottle of beer. Cook until shrimp are firm, pink and curled. Serve immediately.

Szechuan Style Green Beans

approx. 1 pound green beans, washed and ends broken off
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 tablespoon soy sauce

Heat medium size skillet on medium heat. Add about 1 tablespoon of oil, followed by green beans. Stir, adding spice mixture and soy sauce. Cook until desired tenderness is reached (about 7-10 minutes).

Chicken with Pineapple Relish

The nursing program I’m starting next week assigned My Sister’s Keeper by Jodi Picoult as a summer reading book for all the incoming students (on that note – I was pleasantly surprised in the beginning; it wasn’t the book I thought it would be. But a twist ending left me aggravated). While about to purchase it at the bookstore I noticed the usual bargain book display in the checkout line, and a few interesting looking cookbooks caught my eye.

relish

For only about $8 I picked up Anheuser-Busch’s Great Food Great Beer cookbook. The book emphasizes beer pairings with food, but really it provides an assortment of simple and tasty looking meals that my husband or I could put together quickly on a weeknight – and as you know, that’s what DinnerCakes is all about!

couscous

This recipe is adapted from a recipe for chicken thighs, because we never really buy or eat thighs. It doesn’t require much prep or cook time, but it does require a little time to marinate the chicken. I didn’t marinate mine quite long enough, so my chicken could have been a little more soy/satay glazed and less pineapple. I probably like the Pineapple Mango Chicken Curry I made last month more, but this was definitely good too. This recipe would also work well with shrimp instead of chicken (or, hey, in addition to it).

chickenpineapple

Chicken with Pineapple Relish
adapted from Great Food Great Beer

Marinade
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 tablespoon sweetened lime juice
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts

Relish
1 can pineapple chunks (20 oz.)
1 yellow bell pepper, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
dash of red pepper flakes

In a shallow dish combine marinade ingredients and stir. Cut chicken breast into one inch pieces and add to dish to coat with marinade. Cover and leave in fridge for at least 15 minutes, but up to four hours.

While chicken marinates, set a medium size pot to medium high heat and combine all relish ingredients (add pineapple juice as well, do not drain). Stir occasionally.

Stir fry chicken pieces or cook on grill pan until white throughout (be careful not to overcook your chicken). Serve with relish over couscous or rice.

Crisp and Juicy Curry Chicken

We hope you all enjoyed Rainbow Week! It was a lot of fun for us to do. If you have suggestions about other themes you’d like to see, please let us know!

spices

And now a confession – this is my new favorite dinner recipe. I can’t believe that there was actually was a time when I didn’t really like cumin or curry; now they’re some of my staple spices.

This dinner is so easy and delicious. I like having a bit of crispiness to my chicken, but of course without all the fat that comes with frying and using oil. I coat the chicken with a variety of Indian-style spices and a little bit of plain bread crumbs – it locks in the juiciness of the chicken and provides for some excellent flavors.

I like to serve it with couscous, but it would also go well with steamed rice. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!

chickencurry

Crisp and Juicy Curry Chicken

For couscous:
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup peas
1-2 cloves garlic
dash salt
whole wheat couscous

For chicken:
1 lb chicken breast, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
1 teaspoon coriander, ground
1/4 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon red curry powder
1/4 cup plain bread crumbs
3 fresh basil leaves, torn into small pieces

Preheat oven to 400F. Combine spices for chicken in a small bowl and stir with a fork. Add chicken halves to a gallon Ziploc bag with a tablespoon of water. Add spices to bag and toss gently to coat the chicken (you could dredge the chicken to coat it, but I’ve found I get a much better coating when I use the Ziploc).

Bake chicken for 20 minutes until cooked through. While chicken is baking, saute onions in a small pan for 5 minutes until transcluscent. Cook couscous according to package instructions, toss lightly and add onions, peas, garlic and salt. Cover and keep warm until chicken is ready.

Ever since I’ve learned the glory that is couscous, I’ve been trying to find ways to incorporate it into my meals. One of the ways I’ve been looking into is as a replacement (or complement) to rice; giving an old favorite a twist. That’s how I came up with today’s recipe.

Onion, Garlic, Carrots and Butter

When I was in high school I worked at the local Arbys restaurant. It was close enough to walk (no car) and far less disgusting than the nearby McDonalds (which was quite disgusting). Oh, and we had a frozen custard station which was friggin’ awesome. One of the side dishes we sold with our rotisserie chicken was rice pilaf which was, for an uncultured high-schooler, quite tasty. It had small bits of vegetables and almond slivers. I decided to use this as my inspiration.

The Makings of a Pilaf

Pilaf is a dish in which rice is lighty sauted in butter or oil and often well-seasoned. I decided to go mild on the seasoning; relying instead on a high quality stock. This recipe can be easily modified per your seasoning or vegetable preferences, but I suggest giving it a shot as a complement to your main course.

Couscous and lentil pilaf

Couscous and Lentil Pilaf
Without a high quality stock to enhance the flavor, this dish will be very mild in taste. Consider spice alternatives.
2 tablespoons butter
1 small oinion; diced
1 clove garlic; minced
1 carrot; diced
1/2 cup green lentils
1/2 cup couscous
1 cup peas (if frozen, thawed)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cumin
4 cups high quality stock
1/4 cup almond slivers

Bring the lentils to a boil in 1 1/2 cup of water and simmer for 12 minutes. Strain and set aside. While the lentils are cooking, lightly toast your almond slivers.

Melt the butter under medium-low heat and sweat the onion, garlic and carrots for 10 minutes; stirring occasionally. Add the lentils, couscous, peas, salt, cumin and stock and bring to a boil under medium-high heat. Reduce to low and cover, letting it simmer for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and leave on the burner uncovered until light and fluffy; approximately five minutes. Add your almonds and any additional salt to taste. Enjoy.

All right, pop quiz: Name the first 3 three dishes that come into your head when you think “vegetarian cuisine.” Go! (No, seriously. Reader requests welcome.) For me, this list includes stuffed bell peppers; which is a bit ironic considering I’ve never actually made stuffed bell peppers. Until this week, that is.

Red Bell Pepper

I’ve had stuffed bell peppers before, but never a vegetarian one that I’ve enjoyed. Meat has a nice flavoring effect that can be difficult to compete with at times. Enter the power of spices.

Cauliflower Chopped Small

Both couscous and cauliflower have very mild flavors, so it’s up to the spices and sauted aromatics of the dish to take center stage. The chickpeas add a subtle flavor but also a nice additional texture. You can use any type of bell pepper you’d like, but I recommend a red or yellow. Their sweeter flavors really complement the curry of the filling; which fortunately isn’t lost in the roasting process.

Stuffed Red Bell Pepper with Couscous

Vegetarian Stuffed Bell Peppers with Couscous
You can use big long red bell peppers like I did, but I’d recommend the more traditional shorter fat ones if you have a choice. Of course, these have the nice advantage of becoming quasi-finger food.

2 cups cooked couscous
2 tablespoons oil
1 yellow onion; chopped
1/2 teaspoon thyme
2 garlic cloves; minced
2 cups cauliflower; chopped small (see picture)
2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one can, rinsed and drained)
3 red or yellow bell peppers
1/2 teaspoon fennel
1/8 teaspoon ancho chili powder
1/2 teaspoon sweet curry
1/2 cup stock
1/2 teaspoon salt or more to taste
freshly ground pepper to taste
3 medium sized red or yellow bell peppers

Preheat the oven to 350.

Saute the onion and thyme in oil under medium high heat until browned; approximately three minutes. Lower to medium heat and add the garlic for an additional minute; stirring frequently to prevent burning. Transfer to a medium bowl along with the remaining ingredients and mix until well combined. Add additional salt and pepper to taste.

Cut off the top half inch of your bell peppers and remove seeds and membrane. Stuff your bell peppers with your filling, placing them in a glass baking pan as you go (metal sheets would work in a pinch, but you may want to oil it first). If you have extra, just pile it on top. Place your peppers in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until everything is cooked through. Enjoy.

Curry Couscous with Chickpeas

So I recently came to the conclusion that I’m not getting enough whole grains in my diet. This, to be quite honest, is an understatement. I don’t normally partake in the breads and pastas of the world. Not because I don’t like them (LOVE bread), but simply because I like to snack, and snacking on fruit just strikes me as a healthier course of action.

One Cup Couscous

Enter couscous. You may remember that Heather recently wrote about spicy shrimp and couscous, talking briefly about healthy eating. Couscous definitely fits the bill. This stuff will fill you up without weighing you (or your scale) down. When you cook this stuff it balloons in size. A quarter cup uncooked yields three quarters of a cup cooked! And less than 200 calories! I think I found a new best friend.

Stir-Frying It Up

This recipe comes from a cook book I’ve recently begun playing with: A Taste of Heaven and Earth. So far I’ve enjoyed cooking from it. It strives for simple dishes with sophisticated flavor and its ingredients are relatively common; obtainable at your average grocery store. Can’t find fault in that.

Curry Couscous with Chickpeas

As usual, I’ve upped the vegetable count significantly. Having tried this, I strongly recommend adding cauliflower; which I’ll be sure to do next time. And of course the usual spice disclaimer applies. I used four tablespoons of hot curry and it was a bit much.

Curry Cousous with Chick-Peas
adapted from A Taste of Heaven and Earth

1 cup whole wheat couscous
1 cup stock (or water if you must)
2 tablespoons oil
1 red onion; chopped
1 carrot; peeled and diced
1 celery stalk; diced
1 green bell pepper; diced
1 red bell pepper; diced
3 garlic cloves; minced
3-4 teaspoons curry powder; depending on your heat sensitivity and type of curry
1 cup cooked chickpeas
1 1/2 cups peas; fresh or thawed and drained
ground pepper to taste
tamari to taste (soy sauce in a pinch)

Bring the stock to a boil in a small sauce pan, add the couscous, cover with a tight fitting lid, remove from the heat and let sit for five minutes.

With the oil, saute the onion, carrot and celery in a large pan (or wok) under medium-high heat until the onion is translucent; approximately 3-4 minutes. Add the bell peppers, garlic, chickpeas and curry, sauteing for an additional 2-3 minutes. Be sure to stir constantly so the curry mixes and to prevent the garlic from burning.

Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the chickpeas, peas and couscous and stir together for a two to three minutes. Remove from heat and serve with tamari and ground pepper. Enjoy.