Sunday, September 12, 2010

Chicken Vegetable Saute with Orange Scented Couscous

There has not been very much cooking going on in my house this week.  I think because one of us has had something going on every night--fantasy football drafts, meetings, book club, etc.--it definitely makes me lose my motivation to lovingly create home cooked meals.  I guess all this is to say that one, be encouraged that even someone who enjoys cooking as much as I do go through slumps and two, it definitely gives me a better appreciation for the challenges that a lot of busy families face on a daily basis and is a good opportunity for some better planning.  If I focus on items that come together quickly or take the time to put together some components ahead of time, dinnertime becomes much easier.

On a somewhat related note, something that's been on my mind with all this busyness is (I have to admit) I scoff a little bit when magazine articles or cooking shows advertise that they can feed a family of four for dinner for $10.  I mean, think about it, if you're spending $10 on dinner every night, that's $300 in a month, just for dinner!  Nice idea, but should be easily attainable, don't you think?  With all our packed schedule, one night this week I needed to do something quick.  I picked up a rotisserie chicken at the grocery store for $4.99 along with a loaf of bread for $1.99.  I already had broccoli and sweet potatoes at home (but had gotten the broccoli for $1 and the sweet potatoes for $.99/pound).  After steaming the broccoli and just cooking up the sweet potatoes in the microwave, dinner was done in about ten minutes.  That was convenience food for less than $10...just think what's possible with even a little more planning!  This recipe, Chicken Vegetable Saute with Orange Pine Nut Couscous exactly fits the bill.  It comes together in less than 30 minutes and modify it based on what you have on hand, it is extremely economical.  Use the vegetables in the saute really as more of a guideline and substitute what in on sale or what you have on hand (broccoli, cauliflower, bell peppers, all would be good--see this as an opportunity to clean out your vegetable drawer).  Also, I really love the added texture of the garbanzo beans and the nuts in the couscous.  Give it a try!

Orange Pine Nut Couscous
1 cup couscous (I like whole wheat because of the higher fiber and protein content)
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon chicken base or bullion (or substitute 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth for water)
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon butter
1 teaspoon orange rind, grated
1 medium carrot, peeled and grated
1 cup canned chickpeas (aka, garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
2 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted (could substitute toasted slivered almonds for an even cheaper option)
1/4 cup dried raisins or dried apricots, snipped into small pieces (optional)
1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs of your choice (I used cilantro, but parsley or basil would be nice, too!)

In a medium sauce pan, bring water and chicken base (or broth), butter, orange juice and orange rind to a boil.  Remove from heat and pour couscous, carrot, chick peas, dried fruit and pine nuts into the sauce pan.  Stir well.  Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.  Fluff with fork, stir in fresh hers and serve.
Chicken Vegetable Saute

1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
1/2 pound boneless skinless chicken breast (or tenderloins), cut into bite sized pieces
salt and pepper to taste
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced
 1/2 cup carrots, cut into matchsticks (baby cut carrots cut into quarters works pretty well)
1 small zucchini, cut into long skinny pieces (matchsticks)
1 cup green beans, broken into about 2" pieces
1/4 cup white wine or chicken broth
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tablespoon butter

Directions: In a large skillet over medium-high heat, saute chicken pieces seasoned with salt and pepper in olive oil until cooked through and no longer pink (3-5 minutes).  Remove from heat and set aside.  Add remaining olive oil and saute onion and garlic, stirring frequently until onion starts to become translucent and garlic becomes fragrant (about 1 minute).  Add carrots, zucchini and green beans and continue to saute for a couple more minutes.  Add wine and orange juice and cook for an additional couple of minutes until vegetables are crisp-tender.  Add butter and stir to combine.  Serve over couscous.

1 comment:

  1. We've been eating a lot of couscous. I will try this. We usually eat it with garlic and herbs and I throw in dried cranberries and chopped scallions. It actually tastes pretty good like that. I'm always thinking of different ways to eat couscous and I just bought more pine nuts so I think I will give this one a try. Thanks! Hope y'all are well!