WIAW #3: Veggie Couscous Mix {What I Ate Wednesday}

It’s Wednesday – happy Hump Day!

It’s also What I Ate Wednesday! Head over to Peas and Crayons to check it out! Thanks to Jen for hosting, as always!

Breakfast

Honey flavored Chobani, ground flax, blackberries, and granola; the breakfast staple.

Lunch

Lunch was a bit more exciting. As I stood in front of my open cabinets and refrigerator last night, attempting to get creative for dinner,  I came up with this recipe. I had already put two chicken breasts in the slow cooker that morning so I would have some pulled chicken for the week (I add it to salads, dinners, etc.). I thought it would be nice to make a sort of couscous salad to get my greens, chicken, and starches together in a meal.

Recipe: Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Sweet Potato Couscous mix

Serves 2 as a main dish, or 4 as a side dish. The chicken is always optional if you want to make it vegetarian.

ingredients:

  • 1 chicken breast
  • one can of chicken broth (preferably low sodium)
  • 1 box of couscous (I used a box of Near East garlic and olive oil pearled couscous)
  • 2 cups of brussels sprouts
  • 1 large sweet potato
  • salt
  • pepper
  • olive oil
  • Parmesan cheese

Chicken directions:

The morning before you make dinner, place the chicken breast in the crock pot and add enough chicken broth to cover the meat. Set to low for about 8 hours.

Dinner directions:

  • Set your oven to 400 degrees.
  • Cut up the sweet potato in small 1-inch chunks. Place them in a mixing bowl.
  • Trim the Brussels sprouts and cut them in half. Add them to the mixing bowl.
  • Toss the Brussels and ptotato pieces with some olive oil (enough to lightly coat) and add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Put the veggies on a sheet pan and roast for 20 minutes, tossing the veggies every 5 minutes or so while they’re in the oven.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the couscous according to the box instructions.
  • Once the couscous is finished, add the roasted veggies and mix together. Add as much or as little of the chicken as you like.
  • Then add 1-ladle of the leftover chicken broth from the crock pot. This has all the yummy chicken juices. Mix together.
  • Top it off with some parm cheese and you’re ready for dinner. Easy peasy!

Snacks

Two unpictured Samoas girl scout cookies, because I wanted something sweet and I love it when they’re frozen. I also beat off hunger between the gym and dinner with a banana.

Dinner

Bernie had three chicken breasts in his fridge that were on their last days – it was time to use them or toss them. I agreed to help him cook them, but I wanted a recipe that was a little more interesting than just plain chicken. I found a recipe for broccoli and cheese stuffed chicken on Skinny Taste. I always have broccoli in my fridge and I had some left over taco cheese, so these chickens were a little more zesty.

I can’t say enough about this recipe – it was so good! Gina never seems to let me down. I paired it with some leftover broccoli for added veggies. Only change I would make – add more cheese!

What new recipes have you tried lately? Any creative cooks in the kitchen out there – share one of your easy weekday meal recipes. I need ideas!

Trader Joe’s Lovin’

Happy Friday everyone! Who’s pumped up for the weekend?!

In Boston, we have quite a few choices for grocery stores; Shaws, Star Market, Market Basket, Hannaford, Stop and Shop, Whole Foods, etc. But the one that has a special place in my heart is Trader Joe’s. I remember being introduced to TJ’s in college. We never had one growing up in Upstate New York and when I discovered the little grocery store, my mind was blown. Healthy, creative, fun food items for cheap!? It’s a miracle!

When I was in college, the closest TJ’s was in the Back Bay, about a 20 minute walk from the NEU dorms and about a 30 min walk from my apartment Junior/Senior year. It was pretty easy to hop on the T and head down. Then I discovered the other TJ’s in Coolidge Corner – a larger TJ’s that sold beer and wine. Amazing.

I now live 1 mile from the Coolidge Corner TJ’s, which is both a blessing and a curse. It’s close enough for me to walk, but if I need a lot of things, I have to drive or wrestle the T with bags of groceries.

So this past weekend, I took the car and headed down to TJ’s for my weekly shopping. I haven’t been in a few months and I now know why I don’t go very often – I always leave with a big grocery bill. Oops. Oh well.

Two of my impulse buys are Quinoa and Black Bean chips and Fig Butter. The chips are amazing! They have a light taste with a hint of lime and are reallllyyyyyy crunchy! Yumm! 🙂

The fig butter is also equally amazing.

It tastes like the inside of a fig newton, which is pretty much the best packaged cookie ever.

This morning my breakfast consisted of a sort of deconstructed “pb&j” with Ezekiel bread, fig butter, crunchy almond butter, and banana slices.

Probably one of my favorite breakfasts in a while. I think this fig butter would be perfect with some sort of grilled cheese with prosciutto and brie. Hmmm.

What are some of your favorite new foods? Have you ever been to a Trader Joe’s? Any exciting plans for this weekend?

Baking with Bananas

I have another recipe to share with you guys! I recently discovered Ashley’s blog, My Food N’ Fitness Diaries. A few weeks ago, I saw a guest post on her blog by Jana at Newly Wife Healthy Life for a banana bread recipe. Bananas are probably my favorite fruit of all time, and banana bread has a special place in my heart. I love it – but I love making my favorite foods even healthier. Once I found her recipe, I was dying to try it. So this past weekend, I did!

Whole Wheat Banana Yogurt Bread

You’ll need:

  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 1/2 – 2 bananas
  • 1/2 cup, or one single serving of vanilla greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • cooking spray or softened butter

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grease your bread pan with the cooking spray or softened butter.

Mix the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt in a separate mixing bowl. Set aside.

Using a hand mixer, mash up your bananas and whip until smooth. I used two bananas that were VERY ripe, so mashing them was easier. I suggest you use either ripe or JUST over ripe bananas – the bread will be sweeter.

Add the sugar (brown and white), yogurt, vanilla, and eggs to the bananas and mix until smooth. I didn’t have vanilla yogurt, so I ended up using honey.

Then, in batches, add the dry ingredients and mix until it’s all incorporated.

Pour your yummy batter into the pan and bake for 40 – 45 minutes. Test it out by inserting a toothpick – when you pull it out and it’s clean, it’s done!

This banana bread is great because it’s the traditional banana bread flavor, with the added health benefit of whole wheat flower and protein from the Greek yogurt, with no butter or oil.

It’s super yummy with nut butter smeared on top, which is how I had it with my dinner last night, which was an egg scramble with feta cheese and tomatoes. With some added bananas!

or crumbled up on top of overnight oats in a jar! Hmmmm….so good!

Hope you guys enjoy the recipe – and make sure to check out Ashley and Jana’s blogs – they’re awesome and a couple of my favorites! I’m off to work – enjoy your Thursday.

What are some of your favorite ways to eat bananas? Have you ever health-ified a recipe? Share 🙂

Key Lime Pie Recipe

My Valentine’s day was pretty much perfect. Bernie and I spent a night in cooking and spending some quality time together without distractions. There was one major snafu – I totally screwed up our dinner.

I found a recipe for blue cheese crusted filet Mignon (hmmmm, yummm). But when Bernie and I went to the grocery store, they didn’t have the right cuts of meat. So we settled on tenderloin steaks thinking, “this should work, right?” Well, not so much. Everything was going really well; the red wine sauce was reducing, the potatoes for the mash were boiling, and the oven was ready. I took the meat out, and thought, “okay, I gotta butcher this.” I took off some of the silverskin left and the hard white stuff in the meat (what is this?) and before I knew it, our 8 oz steaks turned into 6 2oz steaks. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

Luckily, Bernie is an extremely easy going person and thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I like to think that I’m a pretty decent cook, but I don’t work with red meat very often. I actually didn’t eat red meat at all for years, so I never learned to prepare it. The only thing I know how to make is burgers on a grill. Clearly, I had no idea what I was doing with the meat. After some angry pouting, we decided to try and order food. We ended up getting pizza. So Bernie and Sarah had pizza on Valentine’s day, and I loved every second of it. Sometimes it’s okay if things don’t go exactly as you expect them to. I got over it, and we moved on. This year will always be known as the year we had pizza for dinner because Sarah didn’t know how to butcher meat properly. Yup, I love him.

But one thing did go right – the dessert! I made a key lime pie to surprise Bernie for dessert. He hates chocolate, but loves a lot of fruit-based desserts, so I made him one of his favorites. I found the recipe on Food Network’s website – it’s one of Giada’s recipes. You can find it in detail here, but I thought I’d give you a quick overview. It was much easier than I thought it would be and turned out really great.

You’ll need:

  • a 9inch pie tin
  • a box of graham crackers
  • 5 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 teaspoons lime zest
  • 1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
  • 2/3 cup fresh squeezed key lime juice or bottled (I used about 6 limes to get 2/3 cup juice)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar

Step 1: The Crust

Preheat the oven to 350. Take out one sleeve of graham crackers from the box (1/3 the box) and crush the crackers to small crumbs. The recipe calls for using a food processor – I don’t have one – so I put them in a plastic bag and used a glass to crush them.

Once the crackers are all crushed, mix them in a bowl with the melted butter and 1/3 cup sugar until it’s all mixed together. This is your pie crust. It may look really dry, but it isn’t, promise. Then pour it into the pie tin and push it down gently to form the crust. Make sure to push it up the sides of the tin. I ended up having extra crust.

Place the pie shell in the oven for 8 minutes. Once it’s done, take it out and put on a wire rack to cool. Leave the oven on.

Step 2: The Filling

Using an electric mixer, mix the egg yolks and lime zest until it gets fluffy, about 5 minutes. Remember when you zest the lime, don’t zest it all the way down to the white below the green outside. This white part is much more bitter and not good.

Next, gradually add the condensed milk and beat the mixture until thick, about 3-4 minutes longer.

Lower the speed of the mixer and add the lime juice slowly. Mix until just combined and then pour the mixture into your pie crust. Bake for 10 minutes.

Once it was done, I let it cool until it no longer felt warm to the touch, and then I refrigerated the pie overnight.

Step 3: Whip Cream Topping

This step was the easiest! When I was ready to bring it to Bernie’s for V-day, I made the whip cream topping. You want to do this step last before it’s time to serve – it’s fresher and better this way. Put the heavy whipping cream and powdered sugar in a bowl and whip on high until you get “stiff peaks”.

Then I put the whipped cream on top of the pie. I had whipped cream left over, but I wish I had put more on the pie, so feel free to put on as much as you’d like. Then serve! I put the pie in the freezer about 20 minutes before serving to make it super cold.

Overall, the pie was awesome. I love a super tart pie, and I don’t know if it was the particular limes I used or not, but it was TART! I didn’t use key limes – I couldn’t find any in the store or any bottled key lime juice – so I used normal limes. I loved this pie and so did Bernie. I hope you enjoy it too! 🙂

 

Readers: How was your Valentine’s day? How did you celebrate? Have you ever failed during an important dinner?