Recipe: Mediterranean Couscous Salad

Published 2/1/14 by:

Mediterranean Couscous Salad

This morning I woke up to 40 degree weather, and because this is such a heat wave for Massachusetts right now, I had a strong desire to have a barbecue. Obviously that’s not happening, so instead I made a Mediterranean Couscous salad that reminds me of outdoor dining and the smells of a distant grill. This recipe comes from my good friends Mike and Karen, but I’ve tweaked it a little each time I’ve made it. For instance, I usually use a flavored couscous from the brand Near East (Parmesan is my favorite), but this time I used a traditional Israeli couscous from Trader Joe’s. It’s entirely up to you, and the flexibility of this salad is what makes it so fun! I made this for our end of the year teachers’ luncheon and it was a fun alternative to the typical pasta salads that appear at those kinds of functions.

Makes 6-8 Servings

Ingredients:

Two boxes of flavored or unflavored couscous

3 bell peppers (choose your own colors)

1 onion (I use sweet, but any kind would do)

1 4oz container of Feta cheese

1 bunch of chives

Directions:

Cook couscous according to directions on the box. Once it’s light and fluffy put it in the refrigerator to cool. While it’s cooling dice your veggies. Add the veggies and Feta to your liking and chill until you’re ready to serve. That’s it! Seriously! Some options for if you choose to use unflavored couscous: offer a vinaigrette salad dressing on the side, or sprinkle your favorite seasoning (seasoned salt, Emeril’s Essence etc.) into the salad.

Please let me know if you come up with fun alternatives for this salad!

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Recipe: Vegetarian Miso Noodle Soup

Published 10/22/13 by:

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  If you read this blog regularly, you’ll know that most of my recipes are haphazard adaptations of people’s Pinterest posts. Well folks, consider this my culinary awakening, because I literally threw stuff in a pot on my own accord, and it came out delicious. Okay, so I’m biased, but I’m also picky, so I feel like you should trust me. I even did that thing where you slurp some of the soup using a wooden spoon to see how it is, and I accurately pinpointed what the broth needed and MADE IT BETTER. Usually when I think something needs “a little extra” or “a pinch of this” it goes awry. Tonight the cooking goddesses were on my side. Hallelujah! So, if you’re someone who has an affinity for all Asian cuisine (like myself), then look no further! This soup presents like a Pho, but tastes more Japanese because of its Miso base. My culinary naiveté prevents me from getting more explicit than that. I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I did!

Ingredients:

Half of a red onion diced

One 32 ounce container of Miso broth (I bought mine at Trader Joe’s)

One 16 ounce bag of yellow Lo Mein noodles (the kind you refrigerate before using)

One red Bell pepper diced

One yellow Bell pepper diced

2 tablespoons of Shriracha Garlic Sauce

2 tablespoons of minced Garlic

3 tablespoons of Soy or Gyoza Sauce

1/2 Cup of Water

Directions:

In a large soup pot, put onions, peppers, garlic and Gyoza/Soy sauce and sauté on high heat (a 7 on my up to 10 stove). Once the veggies start to soften, add Miso broth and water. Once the broth is at a simmer, add in noodles. Taste test your broth to see how you feel, and add the Shriracha to your liking. Once the noodles have softened, serve your soup!

**Possible variations: use frozen dumplings instead of Lo Mein noodles, add tofu, include mushrooms, include scallions, add a meat, use curry powder instead of Sriracha.

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Recipe: Simple Chicken, Tomato & Tortellini Soup

Published 10/13/13 by:

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     If you’re looking for a low fat soup recipe, this is not your post. If you’re afraid to use cream in a recipe, this is not your post. Those are my official disclaimers. If you’re still with me, you are in for a treat! It’s football season, and I’m in high gear with my soup cooking. When time permits I like to use the crockpot, but last night at 6pm I was too hungry so I modified a recipe from Pinterest that incorporated what I had available in my kitchen, and the time I was willing to commit to. The base is a creamy tomato, and it’s quite delicious. Enjoy!

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 cups of half and half

2 cups of chicken broth

Approximately 30 oz of condensed tomato soup (I used low sodium from Trader Joe’s)

1 large diced sweet onion

1 9 oz package of cheese tortellini

3 boneless chicken breasts (cube them, or make them into strips)

Shaved Parmesan cheese (for garnish)

Directions:

Take out your favorite soup pot, and put the olive oil and diced onions in there. Simmer them until they’re clear. Once the onions are cooked, toss in cubed chicken breasts and cook for approximately 7 minutes. Next, add all of the liquids into the pot and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling turn down to medium/high heat (this would be like a 7 or 8 if your stove goes to 10). Add in the tortellini and cook until pasta is soft.

Total cooking time: 30 minutes (subject to change depending on how impacted you are by the dicing of the onion).

I served my soup with shaved Parmesan as a melted garnish, but it’s up to you what cheese you top it with. I thought the onions really bolstered the flavor of this soup, but you could easily add a few dashes of your favorite seasonings to spice it up.

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Recipe From a Guest: Vegetarian Pot Pie

Published 10/1/13 by:

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A guest post/recipe from my friend and fellow blogger, Steph!

There is nothing quite like the comforts of home and to me it manifests the most in smells. Fresh cut grass, firewood for the woodstove, the many aromas of the kitchen. So today I decided to make a pot pie. The smell of pie crust, savory or sweet, is one of the best smells in my opinion. It smells like Autumn. So good.

 Let me first say that I do not eat meat, however this is an extremely versatile recipe and you can most certainly add chicken or beef if you prefer. I would recommend grilling if you can, just to get some added flavor, but baking will suffice. Just make sure to dice the meat into small chunks. You can also use almost any vegetable, whatever you have in the fridge.

 You can also make your crust from scratch. I have never found a better crust than my grandmother’s, flakey, buttery, salty, mmmm. However, I have one square foot of counter space in my apartment so making crust is sort of out of the question. If you’re feeling ambitious, by all means make it yourself. Nothing tastes quite as good as homemade pie crust.

 

So here’s what I did…

 

Ingredients:

(Note: you can certainly use potatoes, peppers, zucchini, squash, whatever vegetables you like, I just happen to have these in the fridge so that’s what I used)

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Directions:

Make sure, first and foremost, that your pie dough is at room temperature or else it will break when you unroll it. Using a 9 inch pie pan lay the first piece of dough in, pressing it to fit the pan and poke with a fork. I’d like to be able to tell you what the purpose of this is, but I have no idea. I assume it has something to do with letting the pie crust breath, but that could be utter nonsense. But everyone on Food Network does it so it must serve some purpose.

 In a large sauté pan melt butter and sauté veggies over medium heat. Some veggies, like potatoes and carrots, need longer to soften so you’ll just have to gauge when it’s ready. I thoroughly support tasting what you’re making throughout the process. How will you know if it needs more of something if you aren’t tasting it?

 When it has reached the softness you desire (about ten minutes or so) add the flour. This is going to be your thickening agent. Stir well and continue to cook about two minutes. Slowly add the broth in increments, about a half a cup at a time. This allows the flour to mix with the broth and create a creaminess. Then add in the milk. Full disclosure, I grabbed half and half by accident at the store. You can use cream or milk, it all does the trick. Now you need to add salt and pepper to your taste preference. I also added dill because I just love it. You can add thyme, if you like. It’s whatever you like to taste. But make sure you add salt and pepper, otherwise this will be rather tasteless when it’s done.

 Here’s a little secret… I also added about 1/4 cup of parmesan. Good quality parmesan. This is not typical in a pot pie but I had it in my fridge and it will add to the creaminess of the filling. And, well, I really just love cheese.

 So by now the filling is thoroughly mixed and is thick and creamy. Pour it into the pie crust and cover with the second pie crust. Cut a slit in the center to let it vent while cooking. Also, make sure to crimp/press the edges so the filling doesn’t leak out the sides while cooking. Then brush with egg wash (just an egg that’s been beaten). Bake at 400 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, or until crust begins to turn golden-brown.

 

Enjoy!

 

Stephanie Blackburn is the author of two YA novels (SUMMER AT NINETEEN and I WANT TO HOLD YOUR HAND), both of which can be found on Amazon. For more of her recipes as well as book related news you can check out her blog, http://stephaniemaeblackburn.blogspot.com/ 

 

 

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Cooking: Spicy Sausage Crockpot Soup

Published 9/28/13 by:


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I don’t really enjoy cooking. I’m more of a consumer. I am making attempts at cooking more this year in order to save money, and be able to take it to school for lunch throughout my week. My main resource for recipes is Pinterest because people are pretty honest about the amount of time each recipe takes as well as the difficulty level. As I become a future chef of America, I’m looking for tasty, low-maintenance options. The low-maintenance isn’t because I’m incapable (according to my brother I’m a “decent cook”), but because I haven’t invested a lot of money in cooking utensils or paraphernalia. For instance, last week, I was making BBQ Chicken Mac & Cheese and it called for freshly grated cheese, but I didn’t have a grater. This sort of issue comes up more often than you think and I have to compromise. I’m also big on compromising measurements and ingredients in recipes. If I have something that’s “close” to what the recipe calls for, I’m not picky, and will just throw in what I have. Sometimes this results in disgusting meals, but as time marches on I’m getting better at guesstimating and substituting ingredients. The recipe I’ve included below is a combination of four different soup recipes I found on Pinterest. As a result of not having a huge pot to cook soups in, I also changed the apparatus to a crockpot/slow cooker. I don’t know what the parameters are for calling a recipe your own, so I’m going to put the disclaimer out there that I combined a lot of other people’s ideas for this one. Chefs/Diners beware: it’s a little on the spicy side! Cheers!

 

 

Ingredients:

1 container (48 oz) of chicken broth

2 cans of Rotel diced tomatoes (flavor of your choice – I used lime cilantro)

1 package of chicken sausage diced  (flavor of your choice – I used Chorizo)

2 Tablespoons of minced garlic

2 peppers diced (color of your choice – I used yellow and orange)

1 box of pasta (shape and style of your choice – I used shells)

1 can of black beans drained (the beans didn’t add much to the mix, so use your best judgement)

1 red onion diced (optional – I didn’t use one and it was fine, but might add it in the future)

A dash of your favorite seasoning – I used taco seasoning.

 

Directions:

Combine all of the ingredients into your crockpot except the pasta. Cook on low for two hours.

Approximately 15 minutes before your two hours are up, boil water for your pasta, and when it’s cooked, add to each bowl you serve as you see fit.

*Serves 8*

 

 

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