Katie’s Couscous

cous

Sorry for the long hiatus. Without getting into it, let’s just say life was hectic and exhausting for a few months. I’m back to normal now and have my head on straight (I think). I have a drawer full of recipes saved up so I’m going to make a commitment to post every couple days…I promise!

Today’s topic is couscous. I know you were expecting more from me after being inactive for so long but I assure you this recipe will not disappoint. It’s one of those dishes that you will find yourself snacking on for an entire week. The recipe makes enough for like 20 servings and it will stay fresh for up to 8 days if you keep it in an air tight container.

It’s sort of funny how this recipe came about. After living in Arlington, Virginia for three years I became absolutely obsessed with the Whole Foods there. I know what you’re thinking…she developed a strong personal attachment to a store that sells overpriced food? Weird. Well anyway it is MY store. MY stomping grounds…nobody mess with it! After being a DC resident for 2 months I was going crazy and I needed my Arlington Whole Foods fix so I made the 30 minute journey across the bridge. Upon arrival I discovered a sale on couscous AND couscous samples among other things. Inspiration! A recipe is born.

Just real quick on Arlington. It hasn’t even been that long but going back there now is like a confetti hitting a fan for me. I know it’s only what, a mile from DC, but it’s serious time travel whenever I pass through. Driving down Wilson Blvd, the Asian lady named Kim that has done my nails at least 50 times, the coffee at Northside Social. What about that mile long escalator at the Rosslyn metro stop that feels like it’s taking you to the pits of hell? Hah! And finally, the world’s worst shopping mall in Ballston…I love and hate that place at the same time. There are only two redeeming qualities for that establishment: The Chick-Fil-A and the ladies that do fantastic kiosk eyebrow threading for eight dollars. If it wasn’t for that– dynamite.

As corny as it sounds my three years there were really defining points in my life that I will never forget. A series of ups and downs, successes, failures and lessons learned. I refuse to wear anything but rose colored glasses when going back though. Whether its positive or negative I feel like things are always best the way I remember them. I find this sometimes comes in handy when I’m in a pissy mood, or you know, trying to figure out what to eat for dinner.

Now enough of me blabbing…ADD was kicking in. For those of you who are not familiar couscous, it is a popular staple in North African countries like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. If you know me or follow this blog you should be aware of my quinoa obsession. While similar in taste and texture, I’m sorry to report that it’s not as healthy. Couscous is not a whole grain, in fact, its closer to a pasta than anything else…it’s basically formed from semolina flour. In practically any dish that you see couscous, a grain such as quinoa, bulgur or barley could be easily replaced for added nutrients and fiber. But it’s almost winter and I just can’t be so earnest every night. I was missing my couscous when I tinkered with this recipe. You cannot deprive a girl of her carbs! I did however make sure to include some healthy-ish ingredients in this recipe. You can serve as a side salad or eat on its own. I hope you enjoy!

Even dogs love couscous
Even dogs love couscous

Ingredients

1 box of cooked couscous (according to package directions) ($3.00)
1 1/2 cups frozen, cooked edamame ($2.00)
3/4 cup canned, drained corn ($.75)
1 can garbanzo beans ($1.00)
2 green onions, chopped fine ($.25)
1/4 cup dried cranberries ($.50)
1/4 cup crumbled feta cheese ($.75)
1/4 cup pine nuts ($1.00)
1/4 cup white wine vinegar ($.20)
2 tablespoons honey ($.25)
Juice of 1 lemon ($.75)
1/4 cup olive oil (.50)
1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Total: $10.95

Directions:

Cook couscous according to package directions. Fluff and let cool for 30 minutes. In a separate bowl add cooled couscous, edamame, corn, garbanzo beans, green onions, cranberries, feta and pine nuts.

In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, honey, lemon, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly. Chill in fridge at least 2 hours.

Dating and Food

katie cooking

I’ve seen it all. My friends always joke that I need to start a journal of all the interesting males I’ve encountered during my 11-year dating career. I wish that I started one years ago because I tend to press the delete button on anything that causes me grief. It’s a shame because I’m sure there are a lot of funny stories and writing material that I’ve put in a mental vault. It’s been a series of ups and downs, laughs and strange moments, and most importantly- lessons learned. You might be wondering why I’m talking about failed relationships on a food blog. It sounds funny, but I can very vividly associate food with certain phases in my dating history.

The Disappearing Man

DC is quite possibly the worst city on earth for dating. You see, it tends to be a transient city and when people are here they are usually focused on one thing—getting ahead. You have the stereotypical Hill staffer, The Georgetown frat boy, or the “I’m too busy” type TRIPLE A attorney. Oh and then sometimes you have a wildcard (don’t get me started on that one). I’ve given them all a chance. Success rate? Zero.

So the first recipe I’d like to share is called the Kiss of Death a’la Shrimp Scampi. This recipe alone has caused three DC men to vanish into thin air. The main ingredient is cyanide. Just kidding. In all honesty though, I am the toughest critic of my own recipes and I consider this one to be excellent. It’s the kind of dish that I make for company or when I want to impress someone.  So how could it be that it caused three gents to run away and never speak to me again? Who knows, maybe I had parsley in my teeth. I promise you this recipe is amazing. Just maybe think twice before making it for that special someone.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb linguini ($1.50)
  • 4 tbs butter ($.50)
  • 4 tbs olive oil ($.20)
  • 2 shallots, minced ($.50)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ($.25)
  • Pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 lb shrimp peeled and deveined ($7.00)
  • Juice of 1 lemon ($1.00)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 C dry white wine ($2.00)
  • 1/4 C chopped parsley ($.25)

Total: $13.20

Instructions

Bring water to boil and cook linguini. While pasta is cooking, melt 2 tbs of butter and 2 tbs olive oil. Cook shallots, garlic and red pepper flakes about 3 minutes. Add salt and pepper-seasoned shrimp and cook until pink. Remove from pan and set aside. Add wine, lemon juice and tbs butter and tbs olive oil. Bring to a boil then simmer 2 minutes. Add shrimp and parsley. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add in cooked linguini then serve, with grated parmesan if desired.

Cheese Therapy

Rejection. We’ve all been there and it sucks. Everyone handles it differently and clings to different coping mechanisms- exercising, talking WAY too much about it, sleeping, drinking, and not eating. Well for me, it’s cooking an excess amount of food. For myself. I don’t necessarily cook anything in particular when I have the blues, but I can remember the time I made two trays of Mac and Cheese from scratch for little ‘ol me. I didn’t eat it in one sitting but over the course of seven days. And after those seven days guess what? I was over it! The guy that is. This is comfort food at its finest, ladies.

Ingredients

  • 8 oz box macaroni ($1.50)
  • 4 tbs butter ($.50)
  • 4 tbs flour ($.05)
  • 1 C milk ($1.00)
  • 1 C cream ($1.00)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • ground pepper, to taste
  • 2 C cheddar cheese, shredded ($3.00)
  • 1/2 C breadcrumbs, buttered ($1.00)

Total: $8.05

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400°F. Cook and drain macaroni ; set aside. In a large saucepan melt butter. Add flour mixed with salt and pepper, whisk until well blended. Pour milk and cream in gradually, stirring constantly. Bring to boiling point and boil 2 minutes (stirring constantly). Reduce heat and cook (stirring constantly) for 8 minutes. Add shredded cheddar little by little and simmer an additional 5 minutes, or until cheese melts. Add macaroni to the saucepan and toss to coat with the cheese sauce. Transfer macaroni to a buttered baking dish. Sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake 18 minutes or until the top is golden brown.

Instructions

Silent Salad

So one time I offered to make dinner for my 3-week boyfriend before we went out to see Jersey Boys in DC. Now, typically when you go to shows you dress up a little. At least that’s what I always thought. I actually really liked this boy so I broke out one of my go-to date dresses and I even made the extra effort to get my hair blown out. Now when this fellow knocks on my door I look in the peep hole and couldn’t believe my left eye. I really wish I had a picture, but let me just give you a mental image: slicked back hair, Wrangler jeans and white sneakers. Now here’s the worst part:  a black MOCK NECK, Long-sleeved, moisture wicking Underarmor turtleneck! Like the kind of shirt football players wear under their jerseys. WTF? Are we like going on a run?

So anyway, I made one of my favorites: Caribbean Cobb Salad but as we sat at the dinner table I didn’t know what to do. Instead of being a nice person and letting the wardrobe choice slide, I said something like “you have something to change into right?” And then I took it a step further and asked if he got dressed in the dark. Apparently this really offended him. Not one word was uttered during the rest of the meal and maybe three or four the rest of the night. Needless to say we did not continue our relationship. Sigh.

Ingredients

  • 2 Chicken Breasts ($3.50)
  • 1 Tbs Jerk Chicken Seasoning ($.10)
  • 1 Head Bibb Lettuce, chopped ($2.00)
  • 1 Head Romaine Lettuce, chopped ($2.00)
  • 1/2 Cup Pine Nuts ($1.00)
  • 1 Mango – Cut in chunks ($1.00)
  • 1 Avocado – Diced ($2.00)
  • 1 Cup Cherry Tomatoes ($2.00)
  • 1 Can Hearts of Palm – Cut into 1″ pieces ($1.50)
  • 3/4 Cup Blue Cheese Crumbles ($1.50)
  • Citrus Vinaigrette or Balsamic ($.40)

Total: $17.00

Instructions

Grill chicken, combine all ingredients and serve.

Mexican Aficionados

This post would be incomplete without a throwback. My college boyfriend, who will undoubtedly read this, has an obsession with Mexican food. I will never forget our first date. He picked me up (didn’t come to door, just beeped the horn) and I opened the passenger car door in horror. The horn beep was one thing but his outfit crossed the line. Not to sound completely judgmental but I asked him what on EARTH he was wearing. The poor kid had on a teal horizontal striped polo (two sizes too small), brown and red plaid shorts and Nike sneakers. After two hours of primping, trying on every outfit I own and hoping to be whisked away by prince charming…let’s just say I was a bit let down. So anyway, he made a solid comeback by taking me to the BEST MEXICAN RESTAURANT ON THE PLANET, Las Margaritas in Gainesville, FL. I really hope that place still exists.

Over the course of our 2.5-year …ok maybe 3-year relationship we visit Las Margs at least 50 times. Not joking. The place was putting a dent in our college student wallets, so we started cooking and making fajitas on the reg. He manned the beef, peppers and onions while I did all the rest. This of course included my all-time famous guacamole. As corny as it sounds, there’s not one time I pull out my molcajete and don’t think of him. Funny how you can associate avocados with a person huh? Back then I was dealing with the connoisseur of all things Mexican so I can assure this recipe has been tested and approved.

Ingredients

  • Two ripe avocados ($4.00)
  • 1 tomato, seeded and chopped ($.50)
  • 1/4 C chopped white onion ($.25)
  • 2 tbs chopped cilantro ($.10)
  • Juice of 1 lime ($.40)
  • 1/8 tsp garlic powder ($.03)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced ($.10)

Total: $5.38

Instructions

Seed both avocados and remove the edible part, cut into chunks before scooping it out. Add all other ingredients, mix in molcajete or use a bowl and mash with the back of a fork to desired consistency.