Classic Mediterranean garden couscous

Here’s one of those recipes that Chef Husband and I have been making for years. We originally found the recipe on a box of Near East brand couscous, and we have continued to make this dish on a fairly regular basis because it is quick and easy for busy weeknights, and it is delicious! I especially enjoy the tanginess of the feta cheese and tomatoes mixed with the savory chicken and couscous flavors.

The recipe can be found here: http://www.neareast.com/#recipes/recipes/classic_garden_couscous

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Egg and veggie casserole

For brunch a couple of weeks ago, Chef Husband and I wanted to make an egg casserole with veggies. We took this Paleo recipe and made it decidedly un-Paleo (but possibly more delicious!) with some cheesy upgrades.

We used tomato, bell pepper, white onion, green onion, garlic, and shredded carrot, and sautéed them in a bit of olive oil on the stove before putting them in a dish to bake. I whisked the eggs with a bit of milk and poured them onto the veggies. Then I cubed about a third of an 8 oz. container of cream cheese and plopped the cubes on top. I cooked the egg dish for 20 minutes, sprinkled some shredded cheddar on top, and then baked for 10 more minutes.

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I did not particularly care for the carrot in this dish, and (this will be surprising) I didn’t find that the shredded cheddar on top added anything to the taste. It was mediocre overall.

BUT, this past weekend, Chef Husband’s parents came to visit and brought with them a fresh zucchini and a container of crumbled goat cheese!

We replicated the dish, but with zucchini, orange bell pepper, onion, garlic, and grape tomatoes. And GOAT CHEESE!

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It was delicious! Here’s the recipe.

Ingredients:
Assorted chopped veggies
6 eggs
Milk
Crumbled goat cheese
Olive oil
Cooking spray

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Chop veggies and sauté in a bit of olive oil. (We did not sauté the tomatoes, but we did halve them before adding them to the dish.)

3. Drain the veggies and pour them into the bottom of a round pie dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray.

4. Whisk the eggs with some milk and pour them onto the veggies in the dish.

5. Sprinkle on some crumbled goat cheese.

6. Bake for 30 minutes.

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Sautéed baby kale

I’ve sautéed collard greens, turnip greens, and Swiss chard, so when I saw that my grocery store started carrying baby kale, I wanted to give it a try too!

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I started by heating up some garlic and a sprinkle of crushed red pepper in olive oil.

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Then I added the kale in batches and cooked it down.

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I added a splash of apple cider vinegar to the mix and allowed the kale to cook for just a couple of minutes until it looked wilty but not too squishy.

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We ate the sautéed kale with grilled chicken and grilled corn!

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Spaghetti with mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes

Here’s another recipe that I learned from my friend Valerie! It has been several years since she first showed me how to make this, so it’s possible that I have unwittingly changed the recipe over time. I also don’t know what she calls it, so I decided on “spaghetti with mushrooms, olives, and tomatoes.” Anyway, below are the instructions for how I make it now. (Valerie, feel free to add comments if my version is significantly different from yours!)

Ingredients:
–    Mushrooms
–    Cherry tomatoes
–    Green olives
–    Jarred jalapeños
–    Garlic
–    Capers (I find these to be optional)
–    Olive oil
–    Spaghetti

The recipe begins by chopping up all of the ingredients except the tomatoes, olive oil, and spaghetti. I like to buy a jar of Mezzetta jalapeño garlic olives for this recipe so that I don’t have to buy each ingredient separately. But I do add more fresh garlic!

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While I’m chopping, I heat up a significant amount of olive oil in the bottom of a large pan on the stove. I usually make sure to cover the entire bottom of the pan with a nice layer. This will be the base of the sauce for the spaghetti. I also set a large pot of water to boil before I begin chopping.

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Once the ingredients are chopped and the olive oil is hot, I add the ingredients to the pan and stir them around, returning to stir occasionally.

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I cook the spaghetti once the water comes to a boil. While the ingredients in the pan are simmering over medium to medium-high heat, I cut the tomatoes in half. Then once the mushrooms are starting to look browned and cooked, I add the tomato halves to the pan and stir again.

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I allow the mixture to continue to simmer until the tomatoes are hot and the spaghetti is done. It’s not an exact science. The olive oil will pick up the salty, spicy flavors of the ingredients and create a great, savory sauce!

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To serve, I place the mushroom-olive mixture over spaghetti and make sure to spoon on some extra sauce. We usually eat this dish with tilapia. The overall flavors are very spicy, salty, and rich, so we don’t make this dish very often. But it is great as an occasional treat!

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Sriracha chicken and southwest salad

I found another great chicken marinade! This one is made with one of my favorite ingredients for spicing up a meal: Sriracha. The marinade recipe is here: http://www.pincookie.com/siracha-honey-lime-chicken-skewers/

We didn’t skewer our chicken, as suggested by the recipe, but I did pair it with a southwest salad. Since I am the epitome of laziness, I started with a great bagged southwest salad from Taylor Farms. The cilantro dressing that comes with this salad is AMAZING.

I fancied up the salad a bit by adding fresh sweet corn, a can of rinsed and chilled black beans, and cherry tomatoes.

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The chicken was spicy and flavorful and the salad was cool, crunchy, and tangy. It was a great dinner!

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Key lime cheesecake

For our third anniversary, Chef Husband and I had a delightful picnic of pasta salad with tortellini, fruit salad, and (store-bought) fried chicken!

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Then later that day we made this decadent key lime cheesecake: http://theculinarychronicles.com/2011/05/06/key-lime-cheesecake/

My photos of the preparation came out an odd color because I left my camera on the wrong setting. I apologize for the yellowed hue!

Making the graham cracker crust:

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Gathering ingredients and allowing them to come to room temperature:
(Various drinks not included in cheesecake!)

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Using the box grater to zest the tiny key limes. (We just bought a true zester! But alas, it was too late for this recipe.)

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Key lime carnage:

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Mixing the filling:

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Peeking into the oven!

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Cooling. (The most difficult part of the recipe was waiting for the cheesecake to cool overnight before we could eat it!)

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Finally, a delicious slice of tangy, fluffy key lime cheesecake!

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