Israeli Couscous with Apples, Cranberries and Herbs

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Hello friends! We hope everyone had a scrumptious holiday season and a happy new year. After taking a little bit of a hiatus we are back and armed with delicious recipes, some even life changing, that we cannot wait to share with you. A percentage of these are family recipes, others we have discovered online or through word of mouth, and a few are a result of experimenting in our own kitchens.

So without further ado, let’s get cookin’ :).

Served at room temperature, this Israeli couscous recipe is the perfect side dish for a potluck or get together with friends. It also makes for great leftovers. Add some grilled chicken to it and,  voila!, you have a delicious and healthy lunch. A Giada de Laurentiis recipe with a few tweaks, I’ve made this dish several times for friends and have only received rave reviews.

NOTE: Giada says the dish serves between 4 to 6 people but I find it really serves up to 20 as a side dish. Unless you are cooking for an army, there is no need to double this recipe.

Ingredients

Couscous:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups Israeli couscous (Do not substitute regular couscous for Israeli couscous. Trader Joes  sells Israeli couscous and most grocery stores sell it in their kosher or international section. If you cannot find Israeli couscous you can use barley or orzo.)
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 medium green apple, diced
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds slices

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/8 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

For the couscous: In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil on medium-high heat. Add the couscous and cook, stirring occasionally until slightly browned and aromatic, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10 to 12 minutes or until the liquid has evaporated. Transfer the cooked couscous to a large bowl and set aside to cool. Once cooled, add the parsley, rosemary, thyme, apple, dried cranberries, and almonds.

For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, honey, salt, and pepper. Whisk in the olive oil until smooth. Pour the vinaigrette over the couscous and toss to coat evenly. Let sit for at least 1 hour before serving.

The Pioneer Woman’s Homemade Cinnamon Bread

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Photo Courtesy of The Pioneer Woman

Looking for something to do this weekend or do you just want to try the most amazing cinnamon bread in the world? If yes, do yourself a favor and make The Pioneer Woman’s homemade cinnamon bread.

I’m not sure how many of you have heard of the The Pioneer Woman. She is basically my hero as she combines my two loves, food and photography, into a witty blog that is truly inspiring. If you haven’t already, I highly recommend checking out her blog at http://thepioneerwoman.com/ and also check out this post http://thepioneerwoman.com/blog/2009/06/a_hobby_of_mine/ for an afternoon smile.

After salivating over The Pioneer Woman’s recent post on homemade cinnamon bread (http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/08/homemade-cinnamon-bread/) I decided to try making it myself. It was a good six hour process, as you have to let the dough rise for a total of 4 hours, so don’t start making this recipe late at night. However, it is totally worth the time and effort as the bread is truly life changing. Toast a slice of this bread and then spread some butter on top and I am pretty sure you will enter food euphoria. Just try it.

I’m not going to re-write The Pioneer Woman’s recipe as it is all on her website and she already does a  fabulous job explaining all the steps. Instead, I’m just going to post some photos of my cinnamon bread making experience.

Melting butter with milk. The Pioneer Woman says she feels like a rebel cooking with whole milk. I feel like a rebel cooking with 2%.

Watching my Kitchen Aid work its magic.

That looks better

Now it is rising time. I hope the yeast likes my kitchen.

Yup, the yeast clearly likes my kitchen. Yay for hot humid Virginia and being too cheap to keep the AC turned up high :).


Mmmm butter

Mmmmm cinnamon & sugar

Rolled up and risen

Time to coat in an egg milk mixture

ok, so I'm a little messy when I bake.

yum yum yum

Taking a slice to my hubby on the ship because I'm a pretty awesome wife :).

The World’s Best Banana Bread Recipe

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There is nothing that reminds me more of home than my mom’s banana bread. It is moist, sweet, and just utter perfection. My mom would make her banana bread often for us growing up and I have continued to make it whenever I find myself with overly ripe bananas or when I’m just craving its deliciousness.  This recipe has been a family secret for years but my mom was gracious enough to let us share it this one time with our Savory Sisters readers. Enjoy!

Ingredients (for one loaf):

1 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup unsalted butter

3 very ripe mashed bananas

2 eggs well beaten

1 1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp vanilla

Now let’s make the world’s best banana bread!

Cream together sugar and butter. Add banana, eggs and vanilla.

In a separate bowl mix flour, salt and baking soda.

Blend flour mix into banana mix but don’t over mix.

Turn batter into a greased 9x5x3inch pan. Preheat oven to 350. Bake for 55 minutes or toothpick test.

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce you to the world’s best banana bread! So my mom’s recipe says to turn out the loaf and let it cool completely. But I don’t have the patience for that. I’ve already spent the past 55 minutes just staring at the oven. There is no way I am waiting any longer for banana bread. So I cut myself a slice.

And yes, it is falling apart because I didn’t let it cool but I am going for taste and not presentation. The bread is so moist and the chunks of banana are warm gooey goodness. A slice of this bread and a cup of coffee…I’m in heaven. Thank you mom for the recipe!

Easy Black Bean & Corn Salad

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Black Bean & Corn Salsa

Light, healthy and full of protein, this salad takes just minutes to put together and makes a great side dish for a bbq or cookout. I’ve also put it on tacos, fajitas, quesadillas, crab cakes and even bruschetta (toast some french bread with olive oil then put goat cheese and the salad on top = deliciousness).  The salad can be made the day before and transports well.

Ingredients:

1 can, 14 ounces, black beans, rinsed and drained

1 can corn, rinsed and drained  (can use frozen or roasted corn)

1 small red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro

1 lime, juiced

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, toss, chill in fridge then serve.

How easy is that?

Bringing Sushi to Your Kitchen

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Who ever said you need to go to an expensive Japanese restaurant for sushi?  As long as you can find some fresh fish it’s super easy to bring those same flavors to your kitchen.  Here is my recipe for a deconstructed tuna-avocado roll…

Tada!

1. First marinate fresh sushi-grade tuna for an hour in…

1 tsp of grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup of orange juice

3 tbsp of soy sauce

1/3 cup sweet chili sauce

2.  Remove tuna from marinade and coat both sides with sesame seeds

3.  Heat canola or vegetable oil in a saute pan and cook the tuna for about 2 minutes on one side and a minute on the other

4.  Slice tuna at about 1 cm wide slices and serve with avocado, white rice (I use Jasmine since it’s easier to find than sushi rice) and sliced ginger.  Drizzle with any soy-based sauce such as teriyaki or gyoza dipping sauce.

Deconstructed Sushi

Guilt-Free Creamy Cheesy Mushroom Rigatoni Bake

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I have a love-hate relationship with creamy cheesy pasta sauces. They are absolutely delicious but I hate the guilt that comes with eating thousands of calories and tons of fat is a single pasta dish. Therefore, I was ecstatic when I came across the low calorie/low fat creamy cheesy Mushroom Rigatoni Bake recipe from Cooking Lite. The dish is packed with flavor with a thick asiago sherry thyme sauce that is rich yet guilt-free. I often make this dish for guests as it can be made ahead of time and I can clean up the kitchen while it is baking in the oven. Therefore, when my guests arrive I can simply sit back, relax with a glass of wine and enjoy their company.

I’ve adjusted the Cooking Lite recipe slightly, using a little more cheese and sherry than called for (because you can never have too much cheese and wine) but I also use skim milk instead of 2%. The Cooking Lite recipe also calls for a variety of mushrooms but I just use baby bella. So the next time you are craving creamy cheesy deliciousness without the guilt try out my revised Cooking Lite Mushroom Rigatoni Bake recipe below:

Mushroom Rigatoni Bake (Serves 4)

Mushroom Rigatoni Bake

Ingredients:

8 ounces rigatoni

1 tablespoon butter

1/4 cup sliced shallots

1 package sliced baby bella mushrooms (or any mushroom of your preference)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/4 cup dry sherry

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 cups skim milk (or whatever you have on hand)

1 to 2 cups (depends how dangerous you feel that day) grated Asiago cheese, divided

Preheat oven to 375. Cook pasta al dente, drain well, set aside.

Melt butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallots, saute 3 min or until slightly carmelized. Add mushrooms, thyme, salt, pepper, and garlic. Saute 8 minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Add sherry, cook 1 minute, stirring frequently, remove from heat.

Place flour in a dutch oven or small sauce pot (whatever you have on hand) over medium-high heat. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly with a whisk. Bring to a boil, cook 1 min or until slightly thick. Remove from heat, add half of the cheese, stirring until melted.

Mix pasta, mushroom mixture and cheese sauce together. Spoon pasta mixture into a greased 8-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle evenly with remainder of cheese. Bake at 375 for 30 min or until cheese melts and begins to brown. Garnish with thyme sprigs if desired.




Finnish Pancake Family Recipe

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Finnish Pancake

In the market for a new breakfast dish? This past weekend the Savory Sisters made Finnish pancake for breakfast for friends and since then have received many requests for the recipe. A cross between an omelet and a pancake and served warm with maple syrup, a Finnish pancake is a moist dish with the perfect amount of sweetness and heartiness.

Us Savory Sisters first discovered the deliciousness of Finnish pancakes when we were little girls at the Big E, which is basically a state fair except it covers all of New England. Ever since then our family has been baking Finnish pancakes for breakfast or brunch whenever we can. It is very easy to make and most likely you already have all the ingredients in your kitchen. So the next time you can’t decide whether you want eggs or pancakes or you simply want to try something new that is amazingly delicious for breakfast/brunch, check out our Finnish pancake family recipe below:

Finnish Pancake (serves 4)

Ingredients:

4 eggs
2 tbsp. sugar
2 cups milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 stick butter
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup flour

Preheat oven to 450. Mix all ingredients together except the butter. Melt butter in a 13×9 inch pan in the oven. Once melted pour mixture on top. Bake for about 30 min or until lightly golden brown. Serve immediately with maple syrup.