Pesto Couscous Salad

Hmmmmm….what to do, what to do…

I had some leftover veggies in my refrigerator that were on the verge of getting soft and mushy, so I had to use them.  I thought and thought about what to do with them.  Well, I didn’t think that long.  Like I said, my little vegetables didn’t have much time!  Something had to be done!

I thought of a pasta dish.  I thought of a vegetable side dish.  I even thought about being brave and making something with chicken again.  That would mean touching raw chicken again!  I didn’t think too long about that one.  Finally, I thought about how if it were summer I could make all kinds of fun warm-weather salads. 

Well, it’s not summer, but I think today is going to be partly sunny and maybe around 50°, so that counts for something, right? I decided to throw my desperate little babies in a salad complete with couscous and a pesto sauce that isn’t exactly a pesto sauce.  Don’t worry, you’ll see.  It will all make sense in the end.

That is my couscous in my measuring cup with the broken handle.  I guess they just don’t make things like they used to.  I could probably just go out and buy a new set, but it’s more fun to fuddle around with this one…unless it slips out of my hand, spilling couscous everywhere.  That may have happened.  Just sayin’.

Who doesn’t love red peppers?  Is there anything sweeter?  (We all know the answer to that, but please, just roll with me.)

Ok, guys, don’t worry.  I’m just trying to to give you a purpose before you rot in my crisper drawer!

There’s our pesto “sauce”.  Fresh out of the processor is fresh basil, garlic, chicken boullion, and couscous.  Fun!

Don’t feel that you have to stick to the recipe with this one.  You can basically add in anything you have lying around.  I went with cannellini beans, zucchini, red peppers, and green onion. 

And, ummmm, speaking of the ingredient list….Okay, it’s time.  I’m going to let you guys in on a little secret.  I hate onions.  Like, seriously despise them.  I hate yellow onions, green onions, purple onions, chopped onions, sauteed onions….well, you get the point.  All of those people out there that say crazy things like, “They are chopped small and get cooked up!  You can’t even taste them!” (my mother), I’m onto you.  I know when there are onions in something.  I can’t be fooled. 

I know they give so much flavor to dishes and people love them.  I just can’t.  I don’t like things that make me cry.  I just can’t trust a vegetable that makes me cry.  Call me crazy. 

And, just a silly side note – Give me an onion ring?  I will devour it in 2 seconds. 

ANYWAY…back to matter at hand – this fabulous salad!

 

Serving bowl with handles?  Yes, please!!!  🙂

Pesto Couscous Salad

Pesto sauce:

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup bouillon (1 cube or 1 tsp per cup water)

1 bunch fresh basil (1 cup of leaves)

1 cup cooked couscous

Bring the garlic and bouillon to a boil and simmer abour 5 minutes to mellow the garlic.  Put the basil leaves in a food processor, pour in the bouillon and garlic, and blend until smooth.  Blend in the cooked couscous, pulsing until mixed. 

Salad:

1 can cannellni beans (or other white bean)

2 small zucchini, halved length-wise and cut into slices

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 bunch green onions, sliced

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, or to taste. 

Combine the salad ingredients with the “pesto” and chill.  If salad seems a little dry when serving, you can moisten it with a small amount of fat-free Italian salad dressing. 

I finished up my healthy salad with a very mature snack…

That’s what happens when you have to wait in the check-out line too long.

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Painter's Block

Good morning everyone! 

On my mind this morning is my bedroom.  Not because I want to still be sleeping (well, maybe I would like to be) but mainly because I need to get it painted and I just can’t decide on a color!  I thought I had it all figured out – dark blue.  Then, I changed to lavender.  Well, not pastel lavender, but dark lavender.  Does that make sense?  Probably not.  It’s so hard to describe, in words, how you picture a color. 

I don’t know why I am having such a hard time picking the colors for my upstairs.  Downstairs?  Cake walk!  Kitchen, dark gray.  Dining room, red.  Living room, orange.  Yeah, my house sounds crazy, but I promise it doesn’t look like Rainbow Brite’s Rainbow Land.  Each room has its own personality…or at least I tell myself that.  Upstairs just isn’t working with me.  It’s not shouting out ideas like the downstairs did. 

So, for the bedroom…the rooms upstairs aren’t very big, so I know a lot of people would say to stay away from dark color, but I am just not a white/pastel kinda gal….

   

I’m thinking one of these colors, or a variation of them. 

Any comments, suggestions, ideas???  What colors are the rooms in your house?  What is your style when it comes to decorating?

Well, back to work dreaming about having the bedroom painted.   Have an amazing day, everyone!  😉

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Balsamic Red Pepper Chicken

I had a request for baked chicken. 

That’s fine.  Everyone loves chicken.  I like it too.  When it’s cooked. 

The thought of raw chicken gives me the heebie-jeebies!!!  I feel like I need to have a continuous stream of anti-bacterial soap flowing over me while I prepare it.  I am in my late-twenties (YIKES!) and I can honestly say I had never made anything with raw chicken until last summer.  Really. 

I made mashed potatoes for the first time when I was 27.  I know.  YIKES again. 

Anyway, I feel like I am growing up now.  Breaking out of my shell.  I made the chicken.  It was delicious.

Goodbye Raw Chicken, Helllllooo Baked Beauties!!!

What could make baked chicken better?  Veggies, of course!!!   The colors are amazing!

This chicken was some of the juciest chicken that I have ever eaten.  That says a lot…because I think every piece of meat is dry.  Gravy is my best friend.  This chicken?  Goodbye, gravy…your service is not needed.

Balsamic Red Pepper Chicken

3/4 teaspoon salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon fennel seeds, crushed

1/2 teaspoon black pepper, divided

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon dried oregano

4 (6 oz.) boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

2 cups thinly sliced red bell pepper

1 cup thinly sliced yellow bell pepper

1 cup thinly sliced zucchini (about 1 medium)

1/2 cup  thinly sliced green onions

1 1/2 teaspoons fresh rosemary, chopped

1 cup fat-free, reduced-sodium chicken broth

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 450°. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, garlic powder, and oregano. Brush chicken with 1 1/2 teaspoons oil; sprinkle spice rub over chicken. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons oil to pan. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes or until browned. Turn chicken over; cook 1 minute. Arrange chicken in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until done.

Heat remaining olive oil over medium-high heat. Add bell peppers, zucchini, green onions, and rosemary; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in broth, scraping pan to loosen browned bits. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high. Stir in vinegar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve bell pepper mixture over chicken.

There!  I did it!  I feel like an adult!  Maybe I’ll even try those mashed potatoes again…

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It's Tight Pants Tuesday…

I mean, if someone is going to spend their hard-earned money and bring these into work, we wouldn’t want them to go to waste!  😛

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My Guy

On December 23, 2009, we brought this little guy home…..

He was such a good little boy…he liked to hang out with his mom and sleep…

That face just gets me every time…

Now, don’t get me wrong.  We have experienced our fair share of shredded toilet paper, scattered garbage, ripped carpets, and CHEWED BASEBOARDS…but…

He might just be the best thing ever.

Anyone out there have any funny pet stories to share? (Example: CHEWED BASEBOARDS!?!?)

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Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

I told you.  We love bananas in this house.

And, those chocolate chips fell on my head.

I figured I would make a healthy cookie for all of you.  It’s healthy because there is fruit in it, right?  Oh, and oats!  See?  Healthy.  Just ignore the sugar.

The three little pigs could have used my brown sugar to build their brick house.  Seriously.  How does this happen?  If it happens to you, just soften it by putting it in a microwavable bowl and cover it with damp paper towels and nuke it in 30 second intervals until it is soft.  Done!

Honestly, though, these cookies are a light version so feel free to eat more than one at a time!

Banana-Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Cooking Light

1/2 cup mashed ripe banana (about 1 medium)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/4 butter, softened

1/4 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 large egg

1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour (I used half all-purpose and half wheat)

2 cups old-fashioned oats

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Combine first 5 ingredients in a large bowl.  Beat with a mixer on medium speed until smooth.  Add egg, beat well. 

Combine flour, oats, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Add flour mixture to banana mixture in bowl; beat with the mixer on medium speed until well blended.  Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop batter by heaping tablespoonfuls onto baking sheets coated in cooking spray.  Bake at 350° for 18 minutes or until golden.  Cool on pans for 2 minutes.  Remove and cool completely on wire racks.

These are full of texture and taste just like muffin tops.  The good kind of muffin tops.  And, they are actually low in fat…so they won’t have any effect on the other kind of muffin top.

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I Heart Weekends

Happy Sunday, All! 

This weekend has been a pretty routine weekend…nothing too exciting going on. 

I started off my Saturday at Jazzercise.  I taught the 9AM class. 

That is my buddy, Jill, finishing up the 7:45 class. 

After Jazzercise, I met my bf for lunch…we often have quick 30-minute lunch/dinner dates while he is at work so we can squeeze in some time together.  Our lunch was cut short because he got called out to investigate a missing stop sign.  Yeah, I guess sometimes police work isn’t so exciting…

After lunch, I went grocery shopping.  Why I thought grocery shopping on a Saturday afternoon would be a good idea, I have no idea.  I should have just turned around when I saw there were no parking spaces!  Anyway, I braved the store and came out alive, even after dropping a 4-pack of yogurt that splattered all over the floor.  A lady next to me whispered to her friend, “Look. That girl just dropped that yogurt and it’s everywhere.”  Um, thanks.  Pretty sure we don’t need the play-by-play!

I picked up the staples (pasta, fruit, veggies, milk, etc…) along with some requests from the police officer…

He likes to keep some frozen processed food on hand for those times I’m not around forcing him to eat something healthy!  (Those are probably his favorite times.)

Saturday evening was spent out with our BFFs.

This morning I woke up and headed right to the kitchen for a smoothie.

Frozen strawberries, blackberries, half of a banana, kale, honey-vanilla Greek yogurt, and OJ.  Yummo!!!

I ate the other half of my banana.  We are pretty much obsessed with bananas in this house.  It’s kinda crazy. 

 

Well, we shall see what the afternoon brings.  As I was putting away my groceries yesterday, a bag of chocolate chips fell on my head.  I took that as a sign that they wanted to be made into something delicious.   Stay tuned!!!

Enjoy your Sunday!!! 🙂

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