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. 😉 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 jalapeño 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, jalapeño 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.

Red bell peppers! I’m totally rockin’ the whatever’s-on-sale cooking mentality right now and, of course, with all the veggies coming in it is going quite well. It’s a bit wild how red bell peppers and green peppers are only different by how ripe they are. Mother nature, you are full of surprises.

Peeled Red Peppers Soup - Almost Ready

This recipe’s a little more involved with the roasting, but the process really extracts some great flavor and the richness of the cream works well. I personally think bisques (like many soups) are better the day after. Not that I waited that long, of course.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Soup

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Bisque
4 red bell peppers
2-3 tablespoon oil
1 onion
1 carrot
3 cloves garlic
4-5 cups vegetable stock
1/4 tsp cayenne
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
1/2-1 cup cream

Roast your peppers, peel, and set aside. With the oil, sauté your onion and carrot until translucent; about 5-8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the bell pepper, enough stock to cover and spices. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 20 minutes.

Let cool briefly and blend in 2-3 batches and strain back into the pot. Add the cream, gently reheat and add salt & pepper to taste. Serve and enjoy.

Simple – Split Pea Soup

I like simple. Simple pleasures, simple life, simple food. Simple is flexible. Go with the flow. Simple is something you can make when it’s 2am and you just got home from a late night at the bars and, suddenly, have this weird craving for soup. Yes sir, simple is my friend.

Split Peas

Take this recipe as a gentle suggestion on the path towards deliciousness; with many side trails to take and trees to climb. Don’t like the green color? Go with yellow, or half and half (I tossed in some leftover yellow). Tarragon not your thing? Go with thyme, or rosemary, or whatever fresh leftover herbs you have sitting in your fridge, otherwise destined for the trash. Go nuts. Hooray simple.

Split Pea Blend

Simple Split Pea Soup

1 onion; chopped
1 large carrot; chopped
1 celery stalk; chopped
1 russet potato; chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups split peas; rinsed and drained
4 or more cups of stock (or water)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
salt to taste

Heat your pot medium and sweat the onion, carrot and celery until the onion is transclucent. Add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer for 20-30 minutes, until everything is soft and smells (tastes!) delicious. Remove from heat and let cool a bit and either blend with an immersion blender or in a standard drink blender a few cups at a time. Enjoy.

From Foe To Friend – Baked Tomatoes With Cilantro

I never really liked tomatoes as a kid.  Being a picky child growing up, unless it was in Heinz 57 or Ragu form chances were I would not be a fan.  To be fair, the tomato plant started this cold, unamaciable relationship when it decided to give me hives.  My mother had a small vegetable (and tomato) garden in our backyard and one day while my sister and I were playing we somehow ended up in the garden and next thing I know I’m breaking out in itchy bumps with absolutely no idea what’s going on.  Tomatoes fired the first shot.

Tomato Sliced Tomatoes

Fast forward to present day and the tomato and I are best buds; hanging out, making soups, playing catch (i like to throw ball-shaped food up in the air.  i usually catch it), having a good time.  I friggin’ love tomatoes now and do not mind saying that I will, on occasion, eat this noble fruit like an apple.  Oh, if only the old me could take a gander now.

Ready For Slathering!

This is a nice simple recipe that would work well as a no-fuss side dish.  You could easily be prepare this, set it aside, and pop it in the oven when the timing works with everything else on the dinner menu.  I opted for dried cilantro simply because I had it and I hate buying fresh herbs when I know I’ll only use a small fraction and the rest will slowly whither and die in my fridge (so much anger….).  Feel free to go the fresh route if so inclined; just use two tablespoons rather than two teaspoons.

Baked Tomatoes With Cilantro

Baked Tomatoes With Cilantro
Be sure to serve this directly from the baking dish, as the tomatoes will be very soft.

4 tomatoes (approximately 2 pounds; maybe a bit less); cut into 1/4 inch slices
5 cloves of garlic; minced
2 teaspoons dried cilantro
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon cayenne (much less if you’re a spice wuss such as moi)
3 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat your oven to 350°.

Lightly oil a glass baking pan and layer your tomato slices as shown in the photograph above. Combine your remaining ingredients and spread/smother/slather atop the tomatoes. I recommend just using one of your (clean! you wash before cooking, right?) hands to mix and distribute. Simple with a bit of salt and pepper, then bake for 25 minutes. Serve in the baking dish and enjoy.

Take That Winter! Thick And Hearty Lentil Stew

Happy 2010 everyone! I hope you all had a joyous holiday and a fun (and safe) New Years Eve. I traveled to the windy and disturbingly cold Chicago for Christmas to see quite a few members of the extended family. Despite the shivering, it was a great time and well worth the twelve hour drive it took to get there (that’s right, we drove there).  My family, with our German roots, is not big on the vegetarian cuisine and the term “light” does not enter the vocabulary either (I believe the word is “licht”, in case you were wondering).  There will be much to make up for these following months.

The new year has started off wickedly cold up here in DC and the strong winds we’ve been getting lately have been so horrid I have given serious thought to becoming a professional hermit.  I suppose moving would be a little more realistic….  Regardless, I shall be cutting down on any non-essential trips out of my building and surrounding myself with whatever keeps me warm.


I’ve always loved meals with copious chunks of fruit or vegetables and this is because I’ve always been a picker.  I would always start munching on whatever Mom was making for dinner before it was ready until she kicked me out of the kitchen.  My sister HATED this (“he’s putting his hands in our food!”).  You can’t really “pick” a piece of biscuit or spaghetti.  You’re either going to get caught or burned.  But fruit salad, roasted vegetables?  Score.

ANYWAY, with winter in full swing I wanted something as well as filling, so I took a recipe from my hero Alton Brown and stewified it; making it heartier.  Next time, I shall add a potato, I believe, but the broccoli was a great addition as part of the soup and for picking potential (you can pick from soup.  it’s just harder).  Try this next time you’re looking for something to warm the deep chill out of your bones.

Thick and Hearty Lentil Stew

Thick and Hearty Lentil Stew
2 tablespoons butter
2 onions; chopped
2 medium carrots; diced
1 stalk celery; chopped
4 cloves garlic; minced
1/3 cup fresh chopped cilantro
3/4 lb green lentils; rinsed and drained
1 head of broccoli; chopped into small florets
3 medium tomatoes; chopped
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
12 cups water/stock
1/4 cup lemon juice
10oz spinach; roughly chopped

Sweat the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and cilantro until the onions have softened. Add the lentils, broccoli, tomatoes, spices and water/stock. Bring to a boil and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes. Add the spinach and lemon juice and simmer for another 10 minutes. Serve with salt and pepper to taste. Enjoy!

Lima Beans Aren't So Bad – Lima Bean and Tomato Soup

The summer is dwindling away, no matter how hard I cling to it. Soon it will fade and Fall will take its place. There’s nothing wrong with Fall, really. I really like Fall. The only problem is its neighbor Winter; the season of bitter, bitter cold. There’s very little I like about Winter so I’ve been trying to squeeze as much enjoyment out of the warmth as I can which usually means trips. This past weekend I went to the New River Gorge and had a fabulous, but exhausting, time, so a complex meal was not on the agenda.


I always find myself coming back to soups, really. Healthy, delicious, varied and (often) low maintenance. I went with Lima Beans for this but really any white bean could work. Next time, I’ll probably add some leafy greens; perhaps spinach or arugula. The sweetness reminds of a morrocan style and I like it!

Lima Bean and Tomato Soup

Navy Bean Soup with Cinammon

1 cup dried lima beans; cooked and drained
4 cups stock (or water)
1 onion; chopped
4 garlic cloves; minced
1 carrot; diced
2 teaspoons dried sage
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
2 cans diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup red wine
1 tablespoon tamari
salt and pepper to taste

Sweat the onion, carrot and garlic in a large pot under medium heat until the onions turn translucent; approximately 6-8 minutes. Mix in the sage, oregano, cinnamon and cloves and cook for another few minutes. Add your remaining ingredients and bring to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Enjoy with salt and pepper to taste.

Spiced Chicken Kebabs

I’m still trying to get the hang of the grill pan Morgan and I bought a few months ago. We don’t have an actual grill, so we were hoping the grill pan would give us similar results without having a massive, expensive grill in the yard.


So far, not quite, but I’m still glad we have it. It’s fine with fish, shrimp and thin cuts of meat, but it can be a little tricky with chicken (if anyone has tips on how to cook the inside of something perfectly without scorching the outside – I’m all ears!). I pulled off today’s Spiced Chicken Kebabs using the grill pan, but if you have a real grill you’ll probably want to use that. If you do use a grill pan, make sure that the chicken pieces and vegetables you add to the skewers are roughly the same size – otherwise one side of the skewer might not be getting cooked as well as the other.

Aside from horsing around with the grill pan, this dish turned out really well and it’s not difficult to make! Just make sure you’re checking your chicken so that it’s thoroughly cooked.

mountain of kebabs

Spiced Chicken Kebabs
adapted from Great Food Great Beer

1-1.5 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into one inch pieces
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon turmeric
dash of cinnamon and cloves
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium yellow onion, cut into one inch pieces
1 green bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1 orange bell pepper, cut into one inch pieces
1/2 tomato, cut into one inch pieces

Quick Raita
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 tomato, diced
1/4 cup fat free sour cream
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 teaspoon cumin
dash salt, pepper and chili powder

In a large ziploc bag combine all spices and the garlic. Add the chicken, seal the bag (try to squeeze out the air) and turn the bag to coat the chicken. Marinate for at least an hour.

Soak skewers in water so that they don’t scorch. Heat grill pan on medium and add a little bit of oil once it’s hot.

Thread pieces of chicken, onion, bell pepper and tomato alternately onto the soaked skewers. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lay the kebabs on the grill pan and turn as needed. Your cook time will vary depending on how everything is sitting on the pan. Check chicken periodically to make sure it’s cooked throughout.

Prepare the raita while your kebabs are cooking – simply combine all the ingredients and stir. Serve with kebabs as a dipping sauce.

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?).


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).

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!


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!


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.

Day #4 of Rainbow Week – Tropical Fruit Salad

You’re looking at day four of our Rainbow Week series. Click here to start on day one.

Need a little break from baked goods? Rainbow cakes are a lot of fun and make for great eye candy, but there are other options for impressive and vibrant food as well.



I hijacked this fruit salad recipe from my mom. In fact, I took the photos for this post the last time she made it (which I hope made for some cool action shots). I love the fruit salads that she makes because they always have very sweet and excellent glazes. This one packs a little more punch than some of my other favorites because it comes with tequila!


The tequila is noticeable, but not overbearing. You could leave it out if you really wanted to, but why? This recipe makes a very large bowl of fruit – perfect for entertaining at cookouts or dinner parties. If you’d like to adapt it to every day use, simply cut the recipe in half.


You can probably tell this from the photos, but if you do decide to make a large batch, make sure you use the appropriate size bowl. We ran into some overflowing problems and had to transfer the fruit to a larger, wider bowl so that we could toss it with the glaze.


Tropical Fruit Salad
Adapted from Sandra Jackson-Work’s “Cooking with Friends” submission to Betty Crocker’s “CELEBRATE!” (April 2000, #161)

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup Key lime juice
2 to 3 tablespoons tequila
1 teaspoon fresh grated lime peel
14 cups cut-up fresh fruit – strawberries, cantaloupe, pineapple, kiwi, honey dew melon, red grapes

Heat sugar and water to boiling in small saucepan. Reduce heat, and simmer uncovered for approximately 2 minutes, stirring constantly until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and tequila.

Let stand to cool. Cover and refrigerate for approximately 2 hours.

Stir in lime peel. Carefully toss fruit and lime mixture. Serve immediately.

Or, click here for a version without tequila (boo!).