Monday, May 20, 2013

Summer Couscous with Oranges and Olives

Have you ever tasted something new at a party, fell tastebuds over heels, and spent the rest of the evening casually-on-purpose circling back to it and hoping the entire time that no one notices the shameful amount you've consumed? This is what happened when I met Castelvetrano olives. I was and still am fascinated by the strikingly bright green color and unexpected sweet, buttery flavor. How have I lived so long without them in my life?

Last weekend I bought some of my very own. As I delightfully nibbled my cache, I wondered if these could possibly get any better and what kind of recipes might be floating out in cyberspace. A couscous recipe piqued my interest. Olives and oranges living together? Mass hysteria! But something about it spoke to me.

This recipe was an instant hit with my book club yesterday, and it's posted today by popular demand. It is healthy and super easy to prepare - a one-bowl wonder with no cooking or baking whatsoever. I'll be sure to circle back to this one many times.

Summer Couscous with Oranges and Olives
Modified a bit from

3 cups dry couscous
1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, thawed
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
orange zest from one orange
lemon zest from one lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
4 cups boiling water (microwaved for several minutes works)
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped  (~ 1 cup)
3-5 shallots, chopped (~ 1 cup)
~ 35 Castelvetrano olives, pitted and halved
3 navel oranges, halved and sectioned
juice from 1/2 lemon

Whisk orange juice concentrate, olive oil, mustard, orange and lemon zests, and salt in a large bowl. Add couscous and combine thoroughly.  Continue stirring while slowly adding boiling water.  Cover with plastic wrap and let sit for five minutes.

Fluff the cousous with a fork, then add parsley, olives, orange segments (and any juice from the fresh oranges), shallots, and lemon juice.

Refrigerate or let stand at room temperature for two hours to let flavors mellow before serving. My taste preference is to serve at room temp; however, today's refrigerated leftovers were pretty good, too.

Serves 10. Nutrition info/serving:  298 calories, 51 g carbs, 7 g fat, 8 g protein, 419 mg sodium, 10 g sugar.


Friday, May 3, 2013

Just Right Energy Bites

~Survey says...!~
This is about the quickest, best sweet-tooth satisfying, one-bite bang for your buck! And with summer knocking on our doors, these no-bake cookies are a must. We almost always have all the ingredients on hand, so I whip these up fairly often. I recently shared these with three of my favorite girls - Susan, Angelina and Katryna - with two thumbs up all around. That's SIX thumbs up, people!  Whoa.

Just Right Energy Bites
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1/2 cup ground flax seed (flax meal)
1/2 cup fiber cereal (I use Fiber One)
1/2 cup chopped nuts (I use Trader Joe's Sesame Honey Almonds)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk together the peanut butter, honey and vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients to the bowl and kind of mix them together atop the peanut butter mixture. Then dredge the peanut butter mixture from the bottom and thoroughly combine all ingredients.

Use a tablespoon to shape into balls or domes like mine.  I have a round tablespoon that use, pressing it against the side of the bowl to form a tight dome.  Then I scoop it out and place the little dome on a plate.  Keep refrigerated; we think they are too soft otherwise.
These probably keep for longer than a week in the refrigerator, but I can't say for sure.  They never last that long here.  And at 74 calories each, why would they?

Makes 36 cookies.


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