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Monday, July 19, 2010

something simple and delicious for a sunday night

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I'll apologize in advance because I don't have step-by-step photos of this dinner. I didn't initially set out to blog it, as it was just supposed to be something quick and easy to finish off the week. But once I sat down to eat it, I immediately stopped hubs from digging in and went to grab the camera. It's pretty, it's simple and it was one of those rare dishes that manages to taste both good and virtuous at the same time. The initial inspiration came from Clean Eating (another plug for that magazine and no, they don't pay me), but as I'd used up some of the ingredients earlier in the week, I had to improvise a little bit.


chickpea & coloured-carrot asparagus couscous
*first change - hubs roasted my coloured carrots alongside his buffalo steak on saturday night. I had asparagus, so that's what I used.

1 T olive oil
4 medium assorted carrots (or 1 bunch asparagus)
1 t curry powder
juice of 1/2 lemon (make sure you zest the lemon before you juice it, as you'll need the zest for the other recipe)
1 c low-sodium vegetable broth
1 cup uncooked whole-wheat couscous
1 can rinsed chickpeas
fresh parsley

1. In a medium pot, heat oil over medium heat. Add carrots asparagus and curry and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Add lemon juice and broth and bring to a boil. Add couscous, remove from heat, stir and cover.

3. Fluff with a fork, then stir in chickpeas and parsley. Voila. Done.

meanwhile..... (basically, once the couscous is in the broth), make this....

chicken almondine with lemon green beans

1/4 c sliver unsalted almonds, toasted, divided (note: I was too lazy to toast mine. so sue me. It was still good and my house didn't smell like burnt nuts)
1 T whole wheat flour
1/4 t spanish paprika (I didn't know what type they meant - I used 1/8 t cheap paprika, and 1/8 t bittersweet smoked paprika. it worked).
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to 1/2-inch thickness (I actually used two largish breasts and cut them into three pieces each....the couscous/chickpea side is so substantial, you really don't need to add much, if any meat to it)
1 lb green yellow beans (it's what they had at the market)
zest of one lemon
juice of 1/2 lemon

1. Grind 1/8 cup almonds to a powder using your chopping device of choice (or a mortar and pestle).

2. Combine ground almonds, flour, paprika, salt and pepper. Dredge chicken breasts in this mixture and set aside (I just put them all in a container and gave it a shake. Like shake'n bake, except without hydrogenated oil, sodium silicoaluminate or maltodextrin....

3. Heat a large skillet, if it's non-stick, spray with cooking spray (if it's stainless steel like mine, use enough oil to just coat the bottom of the pan or you WILL regret it). Sauté chicken for 3ish minutes per side, or until cooked through. Remove from heat.

4. Cook the beans to desired doneness (I use a microwave because it's fast, but you could also blanch/steam/boil them). Then toss with lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper.

5. To serve, sprinkle remaining almond slivers over chicken.

A couple of tasting notes on this recipe - the chicken was outstanding. I'm not sure how much of it was the almond/paprika coating, or how much of it was that I used organic, locally-raised chicken. Whatever. It was really good. Don't go cheap on your chicken breasts here, because it's SO much better with good chicken. The other thing is that the beans were AWESOME. I've always been a bit meh on lemon beans because I find the acidity of the lemon juice really just makes it sour....but zest. Man, this has opened my eyes to a whole new world of possibility. The little bits of zest on the beans were like delicious little non-sour lemon explosions in your mouth. It was delicious.

Anyway, if you're bored, this is good. You should make it. It's simple and it's healthy and best of all, it easily serves six hungry people (with just two chicken breasts) and has left me with a bevy of leftovers for delicious lunches. YUM.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

when you're dumb and buy fifty zillion crappy apples at costco...

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...then you have to get a little creative about using them up.


Normally, I'm a huge apple fan. There is just nothing more delicious than biting into a crispy, juicy, delicious apple. And as much as I'd love to buy local all the time, let's face it, I live in Ottawa, and the Ontario apple season is September/October. So at this time of year....there's not a whole lot of tasty local apples to be had.

However, usually the apples from Costco are pretty good - probably overbred beyond all scope of imagination, but generally living up to the platonian ideal apple (with a little help from some wax, etc.).

Anyway, so this batch of apples REALLY sucked. They looked really pretty, but in terms of texture, they were mealy and kinda soft. And in terms of taste, they just didn't really have a whole lot of it. So these were dry, soft, tasteless apples.

And because I bought them at Costco, I had like fifteen bushels of them (yes, I exagerrate).

So I used up nearly a dozen apples making apple crumbles, which were awesome for breakfast (I make my crumble with lots of oats and spelt flour, so it's not as desserty as a typical crumble).

But I still had a whole whack of 'em.

So I trawled through the internet, in search of ways to disguise these nasty little things (I'm trying to throw out less food, and to be more efficient in using all of the food that I buy....).

I thought it might be a good idea to make some apple fritters, because that's hubs' favourite pastry, and because, well, I thought it might help me plow through the apples. A quick google brought me to a perfect recipe from An Edible Mosaic. It was great because it was whole wheat, baked and pretty easy to make (pretty much entirely pantry staples). I'm not going to re-post the recipe, but I do recommend heading on over to An Edible Mosaic if you want some yummy apple fritters of your own. Miss Z absolutely gobbled hers. And then she gobbled mine. And then she hollered "MORE mommy....pleeeeeese?!!??." After which she gobbled hubs' proferred fritter.


The other recipe I came across was a Senegalese chilled soup with apple, carrot and onion. It's not bad. It's not the best thing I've ever eaten, but it's pretty, has a nice kick to it (my curry powder is pretty spicy) and is a little out of the ordinary.


I think next time I look to put apples in soup, I might go for an apple-parsnip soup...or something hot. Or maybe have apples that actually have some flavour, because I found that the curry flavour of the soup overwhelemed everything else, not allowing either the apple or carrot to poke through. You can check the recipe out for yourself though, at epicurious.

For tonight, I'm going to have blackberry-glazed grilled salmon over a bed of greens. Should be tasty!

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