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.

Baked Truffle Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

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Mmmmm mashed potatoes, how I heart thee. You are so rich and creamy and just utterly delicious.

My magic touch to mashed potatoes is a half teaspoon of truffle oil. In my opinion, almost everything tastes better with truffle oil. There is something about its delicate flavor that can turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. I think it has gourmet powers.

At about $15 a bottle, truffle oil is pretty pricey, but just a few drops will go a long way. No worries though if you don’t have truffle oil. The mashed potatoes recipe below is still fantastic without it.

The recipe is essentially a combination of recipes from some of my favorite Food Network stars, Ina Garten and Giada de Laurentiis, with some healthy substitutions so I don’t feel so guilty after multiple helpings. Great texture with the perfect amount of creaminess and cheesiness, this recipe is a Savory Sisters must try.

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 pound red potatoes

1/2 cup milk (I used skim but you can use whatever you have on hand)

2 1/2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup light sour cream

3/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

2 tablespoons plain dried bread crumbs

salt & pepper to taste

1/2 teaspoon truffle oil (optional)


Place potatoes in pot. Cover with cold water and a teaspoon of salt. Bring to a boil. Simmer covered for about 25 to 35 minutes or until tender. Drain.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

In small saucepan heat milk with butter until hot and combined.

In a bowl, mix potatoes for a  few seconds with a mixer using the paddle attachment to break them up (or simply use a potatoes masher). Slowly add the milk butter mixture, mixing on the lowest speed. Fold in sour cream, 1/2 cup parmesan cheese, salt & pepper to taste. Add truffle oil if desired.

Place mashed pototoes in baking dish. Mix together remaining parmesan and bread crumbs. Sprinkle cheese bread crumb mixture on top of potatoes. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. At last minute put underneath broiler for browning on top.

NOTE: If entertaining, you can make the mashed potatoes ahead of time but just wait to bake them until guests arrive.





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?