Couscous Salad with Orange-Infused Chicken

My long time friend Jeff Berman is a fantastic cook.  Actually he and his wife Jan were the ones that inspired me to start exploring more gourmet cooking in the 80’s.  Jeff’s dishes are always delicious, easy to make and nutritious.  This dish is no exception.  I made it for a picnic on Saturday and it was a big hit!

In addition to Jeff being a creative cook, he is a creative guy when it comes to the home and gifts.  He just launched a web-based store dedicated to interesting and affordable gifts for the home and travel.  You might want to check out his store here!

Great for a picnic!

Ingredients

2 ½ C              Fresh Orange Juice[1], divided

2-4                  Garlic Cloves, crushed

1                      Shallot, finely chopped

1 tsp              Dried thyme[2]

1-1 ½ #          Chicken Breasts, boneless and skinless, about 2 whole

½ C                 Chicken Broth

1 ½ C              Couscous

2                      Green Onions, finely chopped

¼ – ½ C          Dried Cranberries

1                      Red Bell Pepper, finely chopped

3 TBSP           Rice Wine Vinegar

3 TBSP           Olive Oil, good quality

S & P              To taste

Preparation

In a large sauce pan bring 1 ½ cups orange juice, garlic, shallot and thyme to a boil.  Add the chicken and simmer covered for 10-12 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove chicken breasts.  Reserve the liquid.

In a separate sauce pan, bring 1 cup orange juice and the chicken broth to a boil.  Remove from heat and add couscous.  Cover and let stand 5 minutes.  In a large bowl, fluff couscous with a fork and then add the green onion, cranberries and red bell pepper.  Mix well. 

Cut cooked chicken into bite sized pieces and add to the couscous mixture.

Meanwhile take the reserved liquid (from the chicken) and boil until reduced to half.  Remove from heat and add the vinegar and olive oil.  Toss into the chicken/couscous mixture.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Serve at room temperature.

Serves 4-6

Note:  The couscous portion can be made a day ahead.  The chicken is best if made the day you are serving.


[1] Jeff says fresh juice makes the dish much better than when using pasteurized.  If you are lucky enough to get it fresh it is worth the extra cost.  You could also try squeezing your own but that might take a lot longer.

[2] I used fresh as I have it growing in my garden.  I used about 1+ TBSP.

March Recipe – Spicy Chicken with Fennel

I was at Whole Foods yesterday trying to figure out what to make for dinner.  They had a big batch of fennel that looked delicious.  I decided to buy a bulb and come up with a dish that included it along with chicken.  I ended up going to Epicurious to get inspired and found an entrée that I’ve modified some.  It came out delicious so I thought I’d share it!

Ingredients:

1 tsp      Ground Cumin

½ tsp     Paprika

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

¼ tsp     Cayenne

½ tsp     Aleppo Chili Powder

2 lg        Chicken Breast halves, skinned, boned, and sliced in 1-2” strips lengthwise

4 TBSP   Extra Virgin Olive Oil, divided

3TBSP    Lemon juice, approximately ½ one large lemon

1 lg         Fennel bulb, halved lengthwise, ends removes and cut in ¾” slices crosswise

3 C          Chicken Broth

¾ C         Green olives with Pimentos sliced in quarters lengthwise

Preparation:

Mix all spices in a large bowl.  Add chicken, making sure to coat thoroughly, cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours. 

In a large sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium heat.  Add fennel and sauté until fennel starts to brown, approximately 5 minutes.  Add chicken broth and lemon juice.  Boil for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to simmer for 1 – 1 ½ hours covered.  At end of time, in a separate sauté pan, heat 2 TBSP olive oil over medium/high heat.  Add chicken and lightly brown on both sides; approximately 1 minute per side.  Add chicken to fennel pan, partially cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  Add olives to pan and continue simmering for additional 10 minutes.  Serve immediately.

 Serves 2-3 people

I served this with fresh steamed green beans and a simple mixed green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

February Recipe – Julies’ Easy Chicken Soup

When having dinner with a friend last night, I was inspired to pull out the old Crockpot and make something healthy and easy.  I decided that a dish somewhere between a one-course meal and a soup would be the answer.   Of course, you might want to add a salad to get some greens in.

The great thing about this dish is that it also works fantastically for breakfast.  Now I realize most people don’t even think of soup for breakfast but, as I have found out in my Asian travels, soup is often not only a daily breakfast but an incredibly satisfying one.  So double the recipe or save some for a cold morning!

The other fun thing about this recipe is it uses a chili that can be found in most grocery stores.  It is little but packs a great punch!  It is called chile de arbol or also known as a Thai chile.  Here is a picture:

Ingredients:

2         Chicken thighs, bone in with skin

1          Chicken split breast, bone in with skin

1 T      Olive Oil

Pinch Celtic Salt & Pepper

1          Onion, chopped

3          Garlic Cloves, minced

½         Red Bell Pepper, chopped

1          Orange Bell Pepper, chopped

2-3      Chile de Arbol

2          Carrots, cut into ½” pieces

1          28 oz Can Diced, Fire Roasted Tomatoes[1]

12       Medium to Large Shiitake Mushrooms, stems cut, quartered ( more if desired)

1 T      Fresh Ginger, finely grated

1 C      Vegetable or Chicken Broth

1 T      Celtic Salt

            Pepper to taste

1 C      Dry White Wine, optional

Preparation:

Place olive oil in medium size sauté pan over medium/high heat.  Sprinkle all chicken with salt and pepper.  Place in pan, skin side down.  Cook until chicken is slightly browned.  Turn and do the same.  Remove.  Take out all but 1 ½ T oil from pan.  Add onions, garlic, bell peppers, and chili’s.  Sauté until onion starts to become translucent, approximately 3 minutes.

Meanwhile place carrots, tomatoes with juice, mushrooms, ginger, broth, salt and pepper in Crockpot.  Place chicken on top followed by sautéed vegetables.  Cook for 7 hours.  About hour 6 or just before serving, remove the skin and bones from the chicken.  Shred the chicken and return to the pot.  Adjust seasonings and add wine around hour 6.

Serves 4-6


[1] I prefer Muir Glen brand.

December Recipe – Herbs de Provence Chicken with Baked Butternut Squash and Sautéed Chard w/ Cherries

Here is a Fast & Easy Weeknight Dinner…

Yesterday I worked all day and had a friend coming for dinner.  I wanted to make something healthy, tasty and fast.  From beginning of preparation to end of cooking this took about 50 minutes.   She loved it and asked me for the recipes. 

With everyone being so busy this time of year, I decided this would be the perfect recipe(s) for December.

Herbs de Provence Chicken:

Chicken – Use whatever pieces you prefer.  I used chicken thighs and got 6 so I would have some leftover.  If using breasts with bone in, you might need to cook them about 10-15 minutes longer.

2 T          Herbs de Provence

1              Lemon, juice only

2 T          Olive Oil

¼ C         White Wine, dry

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

In a baking dish, rub a bit of olive oil on the bottom so the chicken doesn’t stick.  Place chicken in dish, skin side up.  Drizzle lemon juice first then olive oil over chicken.  Put white wine in dish around chicken.  Sprinkle Herbs de Provence over chicken, then salt and pepper.  Set aside.

Baked Butternut Squash:

½             Small Butternut Squash, peeled and cut into 1” size pieces

1 T          Butter, melted

1 T          Olive Oil

1 clove  Garlic, minced

Celtic Salt & Pepper to taste

Place squash in a square baking dish.  Add all the remaining ingredients and stir to coat.

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Place the squash in the oven and start baking.  After 10 minutes, place the chicken in the oven next to the squash.  Continue baking for 35 minutes.  Turn broiler on and broil for about 5-8 minutes until both squash and chicken are beginning to brown on top.  Remove from oven and serve.

Sautéed Chard w/ Cherries:

1 T          Butter

1+ tsp    Olive Oil

2 med   Shallots, minced

2 clove  Garlic, minced

½ tsp     Celtic Salt

2 T          Sherry, see kitchen list for my preference

½             Red Bell Pepper, cut into ½” pieces

1              Bunch of Swiss Chard, ribs removed and chopped coarsely  (I prefer rainbow)

¼ C         Tart Dried Cherries

1-2 T      Water

Directions:

While the squash and chicken are cooking, you can prepare the vegetables.  In a medium sauté pan, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add the shallots and garlic and sauté on medium heat for 5 minutes or until they start to soften.  Add the bell pepper, salt, and sherry and reduce heat to med/low.  Continue to sauté until the squash and chicken are almost done.  (This will make the bell pepper really sweet!)  Note:  If the pan is starting to become dry, add a bit of water and turn heat to low.  A few minutes after you have put the oven on broil (for the squash and chicken) increase the heat on the pan to medium and add the cherries, water and chard.  Cover and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Watch to make sure the chard doesn’t over cook!  You want it to be a nice vibrant green when done.  Serve.

The whole meal serves 2