Tag Archives: Easy

Cheesy Peasy Couscous

Today was just one of those days.  One of those days when you feel a headache starting off as soon as you wake up, when class seems to take twice as long as normal, when the erratic driver in front of you on the drive home makes you want to cry rather than laugh, when you come home needing a simple and quick comfort food.

Just one of those days.

I needed the ultimate comfort food–one that contains the dairy trifecta: milk, cheese, and butter.  And because dairy does not equal “unhealthy”, you can use all three of those in some delicious moderation and eat comfort food that can still make you feel good.  ‘Cause on days like these, guilt is the last thing you need on your plate.

Cheesy Peasy Couscous (Printable Recipe Card)

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 1/2 C broth (I used one chicken bouillon cube and 1 1/2 C water)
  • 1 C frozen peas, defrosted and drained
  • 1 1/2 C dry couscous
  • 2 T whole-wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 C skim milk
  • 1/2 C Gruyère cheese (or other cheese)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1-2 t smoked paprika

Preheat the broiler.  Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas and the broth (or bouillon and water). 

Bring the whole mixture to a boil and take off the heat.  Pour in the dried couscous and cover with a lid or plate, and let it sit for fifteen minutes until it absorbs all the broth and gets nice and fluffy.  Place the couscous into a casserole dish and get ready for the cheesy magic.

While you are waiting, make the cheese sauce.  In a saucepan over medium heat, stir together the flour, milk, and cheese until a nice, smooth, thick sauce forms–it should only take a few minutes.  Pour the sauce over the couscous mixture and mix it in.

Lookin’ good!  Add a bit of salt and shake the smoked paprika over the top.  Smooth the mixture out, and place under the broiler until a nice golden brown crust forms, about 5-10 minutes.

That’s it!  Salt and pepper your serving to taste and eat right away.  It’s kind of like a cross between mac and cheese and a casserole.  I bet this would be even better with pearled couscous, ’cause it’d be even closer in texture to standard macaroni. 

Fritz walked in as I was taking pictures of the finished product, and he was super excited to see this–he grew up with a lot more casserole-type dishes than I did, and he loves seein’ them come out of the oven.  Spoon it all into a big dish, and let that comfort just roll over ya.

It’s okay if you want to add a little extra smoked paprika.  I’m going to need to join Smoked Paprika Anonymous if things keep heading in this direction.

I also did a little work in the garden a few days ago and harvested a bunch of lavender.  Since it seemed like a waste to hang them up to dry in the closet (far away from my eyes and nose), I put a few stems each into a bunch of glass jars and let them dry as a centerpiece for the table.  They looked beautiful, smelled great, and only took a few days to dry.  Now I just have to figure out what I want to make with them–lavender eye pillows? Lavender salt?  Lavender ice cream? 

So many ideas, so little time!

Have you ever made anything with dried lavender?  Any ideas for me?

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Beef & Barley (and everything else) Soup

Fritz’s parents arrive today!

His dad has a conference in the city next week, so they both decided to come early for a Father’s Day weekend visit.  Fritz and I are so excited to see them, it’s ridiculous.

I wanted to make a big pot of soup that I could keep in the fridge for those moments when someone is hungry but everyone else isn’t, or for a quick lunch, or those post-plane moments when you need sustenance in five minutes or death by starvation is imminent.

You know those moments.

Since we had a busy day yesterday, I want to reintroduce you to one of my good friends:  the Crock Pot.

Beef and Barley (and everything else) Soup

No ingredient list here, because every time I make this soup, it’s different.  Depends on what I have in the fridge and the cupboards.

Spray the Crock Pot with canola oil to get things going and start off with a meat and those important savory soup ingredients–for this soup, I used an onion and the tops with 1/2 lb of ground beef.  You could use anything–chicken, leftover steak, whatever.

I then added a giant pile of washed and chopped escarole.

Next, toss in the dried ingredients that are so convenient to have in the cupboard for moments like these.  I used 1/2 C barley, 1/2 C black beans, and about 1/4 C of lima beans.  These are very rough estimations.

Top with some salt ‘n’ peppa, a few sprigs of fresh thyme from the herb garden, and of course, a few bay leaves.  I also added two chicken bouillon cubes (that’s equivalent to two cups of broth once I add the water).

Finish off the whole thing with a can of diced tomatoes and several cans of water (I think I used the tomato can five times, which would be 14 ounces x five–a lot.  There’s a lot of dried things in there that will absorb a large quantity of water).

Set the Crock Pot on low for six hours, and go back to your to-do list for the day.  Once everything is accomplished, your soup will be ready to go.

Gorgeous, ain’t it?

I find it quite easy to see the beauty in beef and barley, especially when it involves my mom’s Hadley soup crock.  Love that thing.

The best part about this soup is that it is so versatile.  Last time I made this, I had no escarole, but I used turnips, added lentils, carrots, and garlic, and it came out beautifully.  Use up whatever you have that’s in danger of going to waste, and you are all set.

Have a beautiful day today!

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Filed under Soups/Stews

Crispy Roasted Broccoflower

Yes.  Broccoflower.

I hadn’t heard of it either, but it’s basically cauliflower that is a strange, alien green color.  Not broccoli green, but if somewhere along the lines of lime and cream of pea soup.  Just as healthy and yummy as cauliflower–and much more like cauliflower in taste than broccoli.

Basically I just thought it would be fun to try something new–so I thought I’d go all out and cook it in a different way by roasting it instead of steaming or boiling it like I usually do for its achromatic cousin.

Crispy Roasted Broccoflower (adapted from my new cookbook You Can Trust a Skinny Cook by Allison Fishman)

  • 1 head cauliflower (or broccoflower, obviously.  Or broccoli.)
  • 1 T olive oil
  • sprinkle of coarsely ground salt (or just plain ol’ table salt)

Yep.  That’s it!  Three ingredients.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and chop the cauliflower into small florets (try to be relatively uniform in size).  Drizzle the olive oil over the top and season with salt.  Use your hands (this way you can feel when they are uniformly coated) to toss the florets and make sure the olive oil gets all over everything.

Bake in the oven on a middle rack for 20 minutes, stirring once halfway through.

I actually might go a bit longer next time, because the browned parts were my favorite!  The cauliflower gets a natural sweet flavor from the baking, and even though crispy is not a texture I usually associate with this particular vegetable, I wish it had been!  So easy and quick–and better than boiling away all the nutrients (don’t you hate pouring off that gorgeous green water when you boil broccoli, just knowing that all the good stuff just went down the drain?)

Someone else wanted to be fed too:

 

When it’s nearing his dinner time, he just sits as close to us as possible making adorable faces, knowing we can’t resist him.  If we don’t leap into action quickly enough for his tastes, he starts purring frantically.  Then meowing like a banshee.

It gets less cute the longer it goes on, actually.

Also–I can’t wait ’til it’s not super dark all the time!  okay, April, we get the point.

We’re ready for our May flowers now. 

(Nerd joke–if April showers bring May flowers, then what do May flowers bring?)

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Filed under Side Dishes

Chocolate Overnight Oats

I’ve never really considered myself a chocoholic.  I like chocolate, yes, even really like it; but chocoholic–no.  I mean, I grew up with a mother who is definitely a real-deal, certifiable chocoholic.  I’ve seen her take shots out of a Hershey bottle when the going gets tough, so I know chocoholism when I see it.  Me?  Not so much.

But last night when I was blogging, I put the movie Chocolat on in the background, and I discovered a stubborn remnant of that distant chocoholic gene.  Fritz gave the movie to me as a Valentine’s day present, and as I watched those images of cocoa powder, swirling and dripping milk chocolate, molded chocolate, truffles, drinking chocolate, cakes, tarts–I mean, I couldn’t believe what was happening.  I had the biggest chocolate craving ever.  And we had absolutely no chocolate in the house, except for Hersey’s cocoa powder.

Since it was much too late to start baking, I decided I could try to put my craving on hold until the morning, and I set up myself some chocolate overnight oats.  Desperate cravings call for desperate measures.

Lovely dish towel was a wedding shower present from Tharrie!

Chocolate Overnight Oats

  • 1/2 C old-fashioned oats (I may have added a few sprinkles more, I wasn’t measuring very precisely)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3/4 C skim milk
  • 1 T chia seed
  • dash of vanilla
  • 2 t cocoa powder
  • 1 t honey
  • 1 ripe banana, sliced

I like my overnight oats to be a little runny (like cold oatmeal soup? is that gross?) so you may want to omit the water and just increase the milk to a full cup.  Combine all the ingredients together, except for the banana, in a Tupperware container.  Shake it (shake it! shake it!), then stick it in the fridge and hit the sack.

The next morning, slice a banana into it, mix everything up…and swoon (but try not to drop your bowl).  This was so satisfying and hit my chocolate craving right on the mark.  It was sweet, but had a touch of that dark-chocolate seduction from the cocoa powder.  And you know how I feel about banana. 

I thought about adding peanut butter, but I didn’t want to go too nuts (ha! nuts!).  Maybe next time.

Trust me, they’ll go quick.

Also, for those of you who are interested, I recently got a Facebook message from an old friend of mine, Jeremy, from college.  He started movie review website, and if you are interested, it looks pretty cool.  Also, he’s a nice guy, and his major at college was film (cinema?) studies, so he knows what he’s talking about.  And he talks a lot about movies (or at least he did when I knew him).

Here’s his website: www.iamcinephile.com.

Go there and check it out.

Since I knew I would be posting this little blurb, I decided to look and see if I had any old pictures of us hanging out together and voila!

Makes me long for the beach, and sunny weather.  Also for a time when I could eat whatever I wanted and be that skinny.  But alas.

I also stumbled on a photo of two of my absolute favorite people in the whole entire world:

My two besties.  You just can’t beat the pure happiness on their faces, can you?

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Filed under Breakfast

(Not Your Grandmother’s) Tuna Salad

I found this recipe in Cooking Light magazine, and I decided to make it as a lazy post-gym quick yet satisfying meal.  Only once I realized that it was going to score high marks in the all-important triumvirate of cooking did I think to take a photo.  It was:

  1. Cheap
  2. Easy
  3. Healthy

I mean, what more could you ask for?  Oh wait–delicious!  That’s the last thing I expected, because I have never been a fan of canned tuna, and even less so of tuna salad.  But this is a whole ‘nother kind of tuna salad.

So here’s my recipe and one picture of my unintended success.

Not Your Grandmother’s Tuna Salad (adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 6 oz (half a box) of whole-wheat penne
  • 7 oz can of tuna, packed in water
  • 1 large (any color) bell pepper
  • 1/2 C cooked spinach, drained (I used frozen, but fresh would be even better)
  • 1/2 C cooked peas (I used frozen again)
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 2 T red wine vinegar
  • 1 t olive oil
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Boil the pasta according to directions on the box.  Meanwhile, cut the pepper in half lengthwise, remove the seeds, and place skin-side up on a foil-lined baking pan.  Broil in the oven until the skin is blackened, about fifteen minutes.  Dice into small pieces.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and put in a large bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients and toss well.  If using fresh spinach (or arugula), toss in the rinsed leaves and allow the hot pasta to wilt them.  Otherwise, heat the frozen veggies and drain before adding them in.

Serves four–and for the record, it’s good microwaved the second day too.

Since I don’t have any other pictures of dinner for tonight, I thought I’d let you feast your eyes upon the Christmas gifts that I made for some of my favorite ladies in my life.  Homemade vanilla extract.

It’s super easy–vanilla beans, vodka, and a cute bottle.

Let it sit for about six weeks until it turns dark and fragrant (much darker than these bottles–these pictures were taken the second day).  Then top it with an ornament and BOOM! Perfect presents!

Only eleven months ’til Christmas!  I think it’s about time to start planning some gifts, right?

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Filed under Entrees, Side Dishes

Indian Lamb with Apricots (Crockpot)

Since my last recipe involved a  crockpot, don’t be too sad that I’m breaking it out again for this recipe.  I had some lamb stew meat in the freezer that I took out and I decided that the recipe I wanted to use would be better in the crockpot because I was using a cheaper cut of meat and therefore needed the extra couple…ahem…six hours of tenderizing.

Turns out that this was a fantastic idea for the reason that I threw everything into the crockpot in the morning, ran a million errands, and came back to have dinner all ready to go!  Even better because I made a last-minute plan for my lovely friend Lola to come over for dinner, and I definitely would not have had time to make something more impressive.  Not to mention I had some leftover cardamom rice, which went perfectly with this stew.

I just love when everything works out so well, don’t you?

Don’t be intimidated by the huge quantities of spices in this recipe–it’s not hot, just flavorful.  I also used a trick I learned over Christmas and added a bit of chutney to my plate that added an amazing tang and sweetness that I loved.

Indian Lamb with Apricots (adapted from Global Feast Cookbook)

  • 12 dried apricots, soaked in water until soft and sliced
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 t minced garlic
  • 2 t chili powder
  • 1/2 t turmeric
  • 2 t ground coriander
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 2 T tomato paste
  • 1 lb diced lamb stew meat
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 t sugar

Oil the crockpot lightly with olive oil, then add…all the ingredients (this is why I love the crockpot).  The order I used was: onion, garlic, spices, lamb, tomatoes and paste, apricots, lemon, and sugar.  Combine everything, and set on low for six to eight hours.

The cookbook suggests you serve over rice and, if you have it (I didn’t),  poppadums, an Indian bread like crackers.

Serious Y-U-M.

While Lola was here, we also watched the documentary Babies, which made me want to adopt the fattest-cheeked Mongolian baby I can find.  So stinkin’ adorable.

Speaking of things that are adorable, I will leave you with an image that I completely forgotten that I had, but made me actually laugh out loud when I rediscovered it.  It’s my parent’s giant Irish Wolfhound, Hadley, sitting on the couch with my mom and Jordi.  Yes, sitting.  On the couch.  Like a human:

Have a lovely evening!

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Crockpot Madness: Sausage and Cabbage

I’ll be totally honest.  I made this a while ago.  Possibly even a month ago.  I just totally forgot to blog about it!

I’m glad I stumbled upon the pictures today, though, because this recipe was two of my favorite things:

  1. Delicious; and
  2. Really, really, really, really easy.

So here’s to that!  I’m on vacation this week anyway, so between reading, watching LOST season six (!), and going to the gym, I thought it’d be a good time to go through all of my old pictures and see if there’s anything I need to catch up on in there (and apparently there was).  So enjoy this, and for all of you who aren’t on vacation–I’m sorry, but here’s an easy dinner for you.

Crockpot Sausage and Cabbage (adapted from this recipe)

  • 4 medium red potatoes, scrubbed and chopped
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, roughly sliced
  • 1 T butter, melted
  • 5-8 links sausage (I used sweet Italian)
  • 1/2 C apple juice (I like the cloudy kind, myself)
  • 2 t cider vinegar
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1/4 t pepper
  • 1/2 t dried thyme

Now here’s the best part: throw it all in the crockpot and cook on low for 6-8 hours.  So easy!  I did it in this order:  butter, potatoes, pepper, cabbage, onion, salt and thyme, sausage, apple juice, and vinegar–but I really don’t think it matters.  Your crockpot will be really full at first, but the cabbage cooks down quickly.

How easy was that?

 The taste was a little reminiscent to me of the famed Hungarian stuffed cabbage, but obviously without the tang of sauerkraut or tomato juice–but I think you could easily toss both or perhaps just the tomato juice into the recipe for this if you are craving an easy way to get your cabbage fix.

If I’m not the only person in the world who needs to get their cabbage fix, that is.

Fritz was a huge fan of this, because the man loves anything that gets cooked in a big pot and yields large servings of “manfood”.  However, I am quickly discovering that aside from mustard there isn’t much food that he is not a big fan of.  Seems to me like he really is the perfect husband for a food blogger.

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