Kid Tested,Toddler Approved: Chickpea and Tomato Stew

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

When I say that Baby Girl loves this dish, I  mean she loves this dish. And what's not to love? It's hearty and healthy, and so incredibly flavorful..

This dish's conception came about by a merging of two ethnic dishes that I love, but working with ingredients I had in my house. I love the spicy Indian chana masala -- a heavily spiced chickpea dish -- and it's milder but equally hearty cousin, the Greek chickpea soup called Revithea that I grew up eating especially during Lent. I sort of combined the ideas of both dishes working with what I had on hand and ended up with this very hearty and flavorful stew made simply with onions, garlic, chickpeas, tomatoes, then drizzled with olive oil and topped with salty feta cheese. You can serve it as a side dish or a cup of it on its own with some crusty bread. The flavors are as bold as the colors, and it's one of those easy throw-together meals for busy weeknights that stay great as leftovers into the next day. Enjoy it.

Chickpea and Tomato Stew
2 Tbsp olive oil plus more for finishing
1 large onion, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 (12 oz) cans chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed in cold water
1 (24 oz) can diced tomatoes with juices (recommend: san marzano)
1 cup vegetable or chicken broth (or water)
1 tsp dried oregano
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the olive oil in a pot. Add the onion and season lightly with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low heat until well softened, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook another minute. Add the drained chickpeas and stir to combine, then add the tomatoes together with juices, broth and oregano and stir to combine. Bring, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat to simmer and cover, then cook for another 30 minutes. Beans will be tender and the sauce will develop into a thicker gravy consistency.

Taste and adjust with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, ladle into bowls and drizzle some more olive oil right on top. Serve with crusty bread and crumbled feta cheese if desired.

Parmageddon Day 5: Swiss Chard and Tomato Soup

Friday, April 12, 2013

As we close our series on Parmesan Cheese, I wanted to highlight a fabulous cooking technique a lot of people don't know about sadly, but something that everyone should be using: the butt of the cheese.

You know when you get the wedge of the imported parmesan and you end up towards the tough end and then throw it out? DON'T!!! Toss it in a soup or broth to infuse it with parmesan flavor! It adds a wonderful background of parmesan goodness to any soup, especially if it's tomato-based. Here's an example using a very simple soup of tomato and chard, the parmesan cheese at both the beginning and end to bring the entire dish full circle.

This soup came together from inspiration drawn on my weekly farm delivery. Swiss chard, kale, and mustard greens grow like weeds here in western Washington. I mean literally, you are surrounded by the stuff at any market and are certain to find at least one bunch in your farmer's box. I was getting sick of the same sautéed chard dish and decided to make something hearty and super flavorful. I took a turn from the classic Italian ribolata and keeping the flavors simple but bold, this satisfying and healthy soup was born in less than 40 minutes. The kids loved it as well, and being full of vitamins and minerals I felt amazing being able to serve it to them.

Swiss chard has a milder and sweeter taste than kale or collard greens (more bitter) so it gave a very pleasant overall taste to the soup. The tomatoes added acidity and great color, and the classic onion/carrot/celery base of soup gave great foundation. I kept the herbs very minimal here, using only thyme so as not to overpower the sweetness of the chard. To finish off for the perfect bite, I add lots and lots of freshly grated parmesan cheese right on top of the hot soup. And for added texture, some crunchy croutons that soaked up the broth just beautifully.

This soup is super low fat and healthy, filling without being heavy, and leaves you guiltless and satisfied. For the kids I added some cooked ditalini pasta to their bowls; you can add alphabet or star pasta as well for a fun dining experience. And don't forget the crusty bread to slop up that delicious broth! Enjoy!

Swiss Chard and Tomato Soup with Parmesan Cheese
1/2 large white onion, chopped
1 large carrot, peeled and chopped
1 celery stalk, trimmed and chopped
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 bunch swiss chard, tough ends removed and leaves roughly chopped
1 (24 oz) can whole or chopped tomatoes (recommend San Marzano)
4 cups vegetable or chicken broth (recommend Swanson brand)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
1 parmesan rind and freshly grated parmesan cheese (for serving)
crunchy croutons (for serving; optional)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the onion, carrot, and celery and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook on medium heat until softened, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. If the vegetables begin to burn, lower the heat and continue to cook. Add the garlic and chard and cook another minute, stirring to combine. Add the tomatoes -- if using whole then gently break them up with a wooden spoon as you mix them in. Add the broth, thyme leaves, and parmesan end and stir well to combine. Bring to a boil then cover with lid, reduce heat to medium-low and continue to cook for 30 minutes for flavors to develop and for chard to become very tender.

Taste the soup and adjust seasonings to taste.

To serve, ladle some soup into a bowl. Top with a generous amount of parmesan cheese and a couple of croutons if you like. Serve piping hot with some crusty bread.

Make Ahead Tips:

This soup can be completely made ahead of time and refrigerated until ready to use. It reheats beautifully, so it's perfect to make a day or two ahead of time if you plan on having a busy week ahead.

Parmageddon Day 4: White Bean and Arugula Pizza with Truffle and Parmesan

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Day 4 brings is to using parmesan as a topping. Of course there is the grated variety, but one of the many amazing things about parmesan in particular is the ability to also shave it. Larger chunks of thinly shaved salty bites are perfect for topping on salads and bruschetta in particular. Here I did a wonderful recipe inspired by a favorite flatbread I have at Salish Lodge up here near our house. Delicious freshly baked pizza dough provides a perfect base for creamy truffle-infused white bean puree. On top, mounds of fresh lightly dressed arugula adds spice and lots and lots of shaved parmesan cheese for a perfect finish right on top makes this a favorite recipe you'll do over and over again. Using store-bought pizza dough and canned white beans makes this dish come together in just minutes. Enjoy. 

White Bean and Arugula Pizza with Truffle and Parmesan
1 store-bought pizza dough
1 (12 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed in cold water
2-3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
extra virgin olive oil 
1/4 tsp truffle oil 
1 bunch arugula (or about 3 cups worth), rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
juice of 1/2 lemon
wedge of parmesan cheese

Take the dough and leave on counter to come to room temperature, about 15 minutes. This will make it easier to roll out (and less likely to tear). Preheat oven to 425 degrees. 

First make the bean puree. Add the drained beans, garlic, some salt and pepper to taste to the bowl of a food processor. Process the ingredients until they become well chopped. Then removing the feeder tube at the top, turn the processor on and begin drizzling olive oil. You want the consistency to be a good thick paste, but easy enough to spread. I use around 3-4 tablespoons of olive oil.  Taste the mixture and adjust seasonings to taste, add the truffle oil and process another 10 seconds to mix it in. Taste and do another final adjustment of seasonings to taste, and set aside. 

Now prepare the pizza. I like to make 4 individual sized pizzas from one store-bought ball of dough. I find it easier to eat this way, but you can go ahead and make one very large pizza if you like, or two larger, 4 smaller, 6 appetizer portion, etc. Cut the dough into desired amounts of pizza, then roll out each piece to 1/4" thickness. You can use a rolling pin for a more uniform look or simply using your hands and fingers, gently stretch the dough out starting from the center and working your way outward until you get the thickness you like. By hand makes it look more rustic. 

Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper, then gently transfer the rolled dough disks onto the paper, spacing out about an inch between dough. Brush the tops with olive oil and bake in oven until golden brown on top, around 10-15 minutes. Turn the pans once during cooking.

As the pizza stands to cool, quickly toss the arugula. Place the arugula in a large bowl and season with salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle the lemon juice on top and drizzle with enough olive oil to just moisten the leaves. Gently toss the arugula until well coated. Set aside.

To assemble, take a cooked pizza dough and spread a generous portion of the bean puree right on top. Make sure to get close enough to the edges, as the puree will act as a "glue" to help keep the arugula on top. Add the arugula in a generous mound, then shave the parmesan cheese directly on top. A simple vegetable grater or cheese grater work great for this. Serve immediately.

Parmageddon Day 3: The Chicken Parm Meatball

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

 Parmesan cheese is more than just a topping at the end. Oh no, it can also add immense flavor when combined within mixtures. A fabulous example is with the simple meatball.

Be it beef or chicken (or even turkey), parmesan cheese goes with most anything. Adding a generous amount to the meat mixture of a meatball will give a delightful salty bite to the meatball, as well as an unexpected cheesy goodness. I chose here to pair parmesan with chicken -- personally my favorite combination -- and the moist cheesy goodness didn't even make it into the sauce; we ate them all up plain they were so good!

You can make these ahead of time (even the day before) and keep them covered in the fridge until ready to bake. You can also fry them, but I think baking them is a little healthier and frankly tastes better. Serve them plain or add them to your favorite marinara sauce with more parmesan cheese on top! Enjoy!

Chicken Parm Meatballs
2 lbs ground chicken thigh meat*
6 cloves garlic, minced (preferably ran through a garlic press)
1 tsp fresh oregano leaves, finely chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 slice white bread (sandwich bread is fine), ripped into small pieces and combined with 1/4 cup milk
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

Take the meat and place in a large mixing bowl. Make sure it's at room temperature -- makes it easier to mix. Add the garlic, herbs, salt and pepper to taste (I usually do 1 tsp each celtic salt and pepper), the moistened bread together with the milk (all of it together), the egg and cheese. Then gently mix with a spatula or your hands, folding the ingredients in rather than a hurried mix around. Mix until just comes together and ingredients are evenly distributed (it should take you less than a minute honestly) and set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil for easy clean up.

Form balls from the mixture -- I usually do a heaping dinner spoon's worth (about 3 measuring Tbsp worth) -- and set balls on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Place in oven and bake until cooked through, about 15 minutes. Remember, this is chicken so you have to make sure it's cooked all the way through if you're planning to serve them plain; if you're placing them in sauce then they'll finish cooking in the sauce.

Remove from oven and serve. If doing sauce, heat your favorite marinara in a pot until hot. Gently drop the balls into the sauce and turn off heat; let stand 15 minutes before serving. Top with more parmesan cheese if desired.

Make Ahead Tip:
You can make the meatball mixture the day before; cover and refrigerate. Form into balls when you're ready to bake.

*You can use ground chicken breast, but the little extra fat in the chicken thigh meat helps to keep them moist while cooking.

Parmageddon Day 2: Parmesan Truffle Mashed Potatoes

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Day 2 of Parmageddon brings me to another perfect pairing for parmesan: parmesan and truffles...

Two flavors that go together just perfectly are the sharpness of a good parmesan cheese and the earthy velvety flavor of truffles. With mashed potatoes being a staple in most american households, why class it out with this classic and elegant combination? This recipe is easy enough to make a week night side dish more special, and elegant enough to serve as a partner to filet mignon for a fancier pairing. The key here are the type of potatoes, good european butter, heavy cream, good freshly grated parmesan cheese, and of course the truffle oil. I like using the truffle oil as opposed to the shaved truffle for two main reasons here: (1) it's far more affordable and (2) the oil gives the mashed potatoes added richness and velvety texture. Make these today!

Parmesan Truffle Mashed Potatoes
1 lb yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into cubes
1/3 cup good european butter
heavy cream (about 2-3 Tbsp, depending on preference of texture)
1/2 cup freshly grated good imported parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp truffle oil

Place the potatoes in a large pot and cover with cold water. Add a good amount of salt -- about 1 tablespoon's worth -- and bring potatoes to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-high and continue to cook the potatoes on a high simmer/low boil until they are fork-tender (meaning, they can be easily pierced through with a fork).

Drain the potatoes very well, then return to the pot. Place the potatoes under low heat and stir for a couple of minutes; this will help get rid of any leftover moisture that could make the mashed potatoes soggy. Turn off heat and add butter and using a masher or fork, combine the butter into the potatoes while simultaneously mashing them. Taste and adjust with salt to taste. Add the parmesan cheese and mix to combine. Add the cream and truffle oil, then switching to a wooden spoon, begin to vigorously beat the potatoes by hand for 2-3 minutes. This air will help give the potatoes nice body. Add as little or as much cream as you like to achieve thicker or thinner potatoes (less cream will give you thicker; more cream will give you thinner). Taste and adjust seasonings to taste.

Serve immediately.

Parmageddon Day 1: Parmesan with Balsamic and Salami

Monday, April 8, 2013

A couple of weeks ago my local Whole Foods ran a special on Parmesan cheese called Parmageddon. Basically all of the parmesan cheese was on massive discount and people (including myself) were stocking up like a war was coming and we planned to be fully sustained by aged cheese. Which, like I totally would be, by the way.
So now I'm facing literally a drawer full of parmesan cheese and thought "What a great chance this is to blog a whole series on the various uses of parm!" So here we are. 

Parmesan cheese is an aged cow's milk cheese originating from the Parma and Lombardi regions in Italy. The cheese is said to have been made for a while prior to the middle ages in Italy, but it gained popularly during that time. The cheese itself is made from only grass-fed cow's milk. During the cheese-making process, the resulting whey from making parmesan is taken and fed to pigs in the Parma region to produce the famed Prosciutto di Parma -- a natural companion to parmesan cheese on a traditional antipasto dish. After the cheese is curdled it's placed into stainless steel forms to produce the classic parmesan wheel shape, then aged for minimum two years. Parmesan is prized for its nutty and sharp flavor. The texture is hard and crumbly, getting more crumbly as it's aged longer, making it perfect for grating or chiseling.
Parmesan has been around for a very long time. Many medieval Italian recipes call for simple uses for parmesan, including a basic pasta tossed in butter or olive oil and then served with lots of grated parmesan. Equally often found are recipes of dumplings or pasta (think tortellini) served in a seasoned broth and topped with mounds of grated parmesan cheese. Modern times and cross-cultural ideas see parmesan cheese being used in a variety of ways, from infusing broths or serving as crusts and crackers. One undeniable truth is the simplicity and perfection of a good parmesan cheese has staying power over the years and will most certainly continue to do so.
This week's series will find five ways to use parmesan cheese, from simple serving to incorporating it into the dish in various ways. To begin day 1 I suggest serving it the way it has been served for hundreds of years throughout Italy: by itself, with some good cured meat, and a drizzle of good balsamic vinegar. 

If you like salty and savory snacks then you must try this. Nutty and savory parmesan cheese pairs perfectly with a dry, heavily spiced meat like salami. There are various kinds of salami to choose from -- I love the calabrian soppressata made with wine and decidedly spiced on the spicy side personally, but use what you love. To balance out the savory and salt going on the brilliant Italians serve a small drizzle of sweet balsamic vinegar right on top of the cheese. The resulting ménage a trois is simple perfection. Just add a glass (or two) of your favorite wine and you have a most wonderful snack or appetizer to enjoy for the ages.

Parmesan with Balsamic and Salami
1 wedge good quality imported parmesan cheese
1 dry cured salami -- recommend soppressata in the style of calabri
good imported balsamic vinegar

Using a cheese chisel or sturdy knife, begin chiseling out chunks of the parmesan cheese. Don't bother cutting it into nice uniform squares; parmesan is too aged to get that kind of cut. Rather go for rustic chunks here, all different sizes and shapes.

Conversely, slice the salami into thin beautiful rounds. Remember to take the casing off if your salami comes with it (most good quality dry salamis will).

I like serving this grouped -- cheese on one side in a pile and salami in another. Take the balsamic vinegar and give a small drizzle right on top of the cheese.

No need for salt and pepper, as both the cheese and salami are heavily spiced on both. And no need for olive oil or anything as the salami has its own fat. Simply serve at room temperature as is. A good Italian crusty bread on the side is optional but certainly not even needed.

Greek Style Shrimp Scampi

Thursday, April 4, 2013

I'm sick of working with shrimp but it's easy for me to throw together, especially for dinner during the week nights. So, I took a turn from my favorite Shrimp Scampi and decided to play around with some different flavors. I didn't veer off course too much, but just enough to make an updated version with even more flavor and wow factor.

In place of the traditional white wine I reached for my always chilled bottle of ouzo in the freezer. Frankly, I hate drinking ouzo. But love cooking with it. It leaves the most incredible sweet and fragrant flavor especially in sauces. It's a highly underutilized ingredient in the American kitchen and I am to change that, starting with this recipe. Simple butter and olive oil begin with marinated garlic and lemon shrimp in a super hot pan. The ouzo is added then set afire. The ignition of the liquor helps to caramelize the dish in a wonderfully subtle manner. Plus if you have guests it'll give them a show as well.   For garnish, some simple bright chopped parsley. Serve it immediately with lots of crusty bread or a side of pilaf rice for that incredible sauce.

Greek Style Shrimp Scampi
2 lb peeled and deveined shrimp
1/4 cup olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
juice of 1 lemon
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup ouzo
good quality olive oil for serving
feta cheese for serving (optional)

Wash and pat dry the shrimp, then place in a mixing bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic and season with salt and pepper to taste. You can do this step up to a few hours to night before.

When ready to cook, heat a large sauté pan over medium heat. Add the shrimp and marinade right into the pan all at once and spread out. Cook for two minutes, stir, then add the ouzo. Taking the pan off the heat, ignite it with a torch and let the alcohol burn off. Be careful of the open flame, and do not do this directly under a ceiling sprinkler because it will trigger the fire alarm! Conversely, you can add the alcohol off the heat and then carefully return the pan back to the heat and cook the shrimp, avoiding the igniting altogether.

Cook until shrimp all turned bright orange. Top with crumbled feta cheese if desired and a drizzle of good olive oil and serve immediately.

Princess Pony Party: Happy 6th Birthday!

Whew! Part of why I haven't been blogging lately is Little Girl's 6th birthday this month! What seemed like an endless amount of celebrating finally climaxed earlier today in the big party. This year's theme was Princess and Ponies with lots and lots of pink.

This year instead of having the party at my house, we had it at a farm in the area that specializes in princess and pony parties. Kathy and her family are truly a special breed -- not only do they invite you into their own home to play with their horses and ponies, as well as their other animals including cats and dogs and even the most adorable softest bunny in the history of bunnies, but all of the proceeds of the party goes to feeding and caring for their horses whom they rescue. You can literally feel the love when you step foot on their beautiful farm, and their loves of horses and animals is infectious to adults and kids alike.

 Of course the big draw of the whole day was the ponies themselves! Adorable sweet ponies and horses were so kind to let the kids ride them and care for them. First, the kids get an instruction on how to properly treat and care for the ponies. It was amazing to watch them pet and comb the ponies' hair, to really get to know them and love them. Then each kid took turns riding of course. The girls of course were decked out in their finest princess gown and party attire, while the boys enjoyed riding with country flare!

In terms of the rest of the party, I tried to personalize wherever I could. For simple and delicious confections, I took oreo cookies and dipped them in pink candy melts. Then using pearl candies wrote out "C" for Princess Cati!

Tip: Cupcake liners are more than for muffins and cupcakes! Try colorful combinations to house candies, cookies, and various confections for your next party!

 After about an hour of riding and playing outside the party moved indoors into the party room. A large buffet table was adorned with food and drink for guests to help themselves. I wanted to go for a "country chic" theme here, so everything was a down-home country comfort served with princess glam.

I made the banner using simple gingham scrapbooking paper that I cut out into circles, then added hot pink glittered letters. I hung each letter with a simple satin pink bow, then clipped them to a ruffled pink ribbon by using miniature white clothespins. I loved the combination of fancy glitter with the casualness of the clothespins. The banner in total cost me about $10 to do myself.

Part of the "chic" came from the cake. I wanted something tall, pink, and classically princess. We settled on a two-tier chocolate-chocolate cake complete with fondant tiara from Morfey's Cakes in Seattle's Queen Ann.

The cake presented beautifully, added great height to the table, and tasted great! A huge thank you to Dan and the team for creating a perfect princess cake. It was moist and chocolaty and delicious, and the princess and guests loved it!

Additional confections included the oreos, strawberry-lemonade mini cupcakes, raspberry marshmallow pops, and homemade candied apples. The cupcakes were courtesy of PinkBella Cupcakes in Redmond Town Center, and the perfect toppers from Adore by Nat. Nat nailed the princess and ponies theme just perfectly with the carefully sculpted toppers. They were a huge hit, and some of the kids were taking them home as favors!! You can contact her via the link above or her Facebook page for your next party crafty needs! 


I wanted the food to also be reminiscent of the country fair but more upscale. Instead of fried oreos I opted to make a prettier version befitting a princess.  I simply dipped them in pink candy melts and then drizzled with raspberry candy melts or decorated with the pearl candies. Serving them in pink polka dotted cupcake liners made them fun and irresistible. This is a super easy and fun treat.

The marshmallow pop has been a huge hit for our parties, so when planning the menu for this one Little Girl insisted we include them once again. This time I opted for raspberry flavored candy melts and we went with pastel nonpareil candies on the top.

To make them country chic I simply ran a pretty ribbon around a mini wash bin, stuck a green floral foam square in the bottom and filled the top with hay then stuck the pops in. Not only did the foam keep the pops very securely in the container, the presentation was adorable and well received.

Working with the site that provided the background decorations and tablecloths, I added my spread and served it "buffet style" for guests to help themselves. A banner and some hot pink fan decorations focused the eye to the food table.

Now the food!!!

Again, going for country fair type food I chose to do pulled pork with homemade bbq sauce. Due to weather and a very sick husband with the flu (i.e., The Smoke Master was out of commission), I cooked the pork in the oven, braising it in onions and apple juice with my traditional rub. Fluffy slider buns and a simple but delicious cole slaw (recipe to follow) made a great slider. You can find the recipe for authentic and amazing bbq pulled pork and homemade bbq sauce in The Enchanted Spoon: The Cookbook! Check the link at the top of the page to order your copy or download your ebook today!

In addition I served carrots and apples -- horses' favorite foods, strawberries, and cornbread muffins as requested by the birthday girl. Drinks included juice boxes and pink lemonade along with water bottles.

 For favors I gave out princess tiaras for the girls and cowboy hats for the boys that the kids were welcome to use during the party. To take home each got a goodie bag of horse and princess-themed items. I used simple brown lunch bags and doilies for the casual country look, then added the tags and ribbon I made to look like a prize ribbon one would find at the fair. A simple clothes pin added a cute and casual look.

Finally, each kid got to take home their very own candy apple! Surprisingly easy to make, these apples take very little effort and time to put together. Placing them in a plastic goodie bag and tying with a cute ribbon and tag not only presents well, but keep things from getting too messy at the party or in the car!

Week Night Yum Yum: Thyme and Orange Roasted Turkey Breast with Cranberry Orange Cous Cous with Toasted Hazelnuts

I love turkey. I love turkey so much, I don't see why we have to eat turkey only in fall or for Thanksgiving. I think turkey should be eaten year-round, and especially as spring transitions from cold rainy days to warmer sunny ones, roasted turkey is perfect to fill that need for comfort on those rainy days. Roasting a big turkey can take a while, and admittedly it's not ideal for a week night meal. So, use turkey breast! Enough to feed a family, you can roast turkey breast faster without sacrificing the flavor of a traditional large bird.

For this recipe I wanted to hit the note of winter-meets-spring so I incorporated flavors from both seasons. Using beautiful large shallots and sweet and fragrant oranges hits the winter note perfectly, while adding both flavor and color to the entire dish. To usher in spring I went simply with my favorite spring herb -- thyme -- which plays beautifully with both the sweet piquant flavor of the shallot and aromatic orange. A simple seasoning of good kosher salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper together with garlic round out the savory note for the dish. A quick roast in the oven and this moist and tender turkey was perfect for a comforting meal on a busy week night. And the resulting juices made the most insanely good gravy!

I served the dish with Israel cous cous I mixed with more traditional winter flavors of rosemary, cranberry, orange and garlic. Then for texture, some roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts for a perfect crunch.

The entire dish came together quite quickly considering, and the flavor pay off was huge. You'll make this recipe again and again. And it's perfect for next Thanksgiving too. Enjoy!

Thyme and Orange Roasted Turkey Breast
1 bone-in turkey breast
salt and freshly ground black pepper
8 large shallots, peeled
extra virgin olive oil
1 navel orange, cut into quarters
about 8 sprigs fresh thyme
1 clove garlic
1/4 cup chicken stock
1 tsp corn starch mixed with 1 tsp cold water

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Season the turkey on all sides with salt and pepper then place in an oven proof casserole dish or roasting pan. Take the shallots and orange quarters and toss them in a little bit of olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Garnish the turkey breast with the shallots and oranges around the pan, then drizzle the top of the breast with a little olive oil. Place in oven and roast for about 1 hour 10 minutes, or until turkey is nice and golden brown and cooked through. You'll want to start turning the shallots and oranges around about halfway through cooking so they don't burn, and use the juices that accumulate to help baste the top of the breast.

Remove the turkey and let rest on a carving platter. Remove the shallots and orange and arrange on platter (if serving). Strain the juices and transfer to a small saucepan. Add the garlic clove, chicken stock, and bring to a boil. Let cook while the turkey rests, about 10 minutes. Add the cornstarch slurry at the end to thicken to taste (the more you add the thicker it'll be). This is your gravy.

Cut the breast against the grain in thicker slices and arrange on the platter with the shallots and orange. Drizzle the gravy over the turkey slices if desired (or serve separately).

Cous Cous with Cranberry, Orange, Hazelnuts
3 1/4 cups water
3/4 cup Israeli cous cous
kosher salt and black pepper
extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp orange zest
1 clove garlic, finely minced
1 tsp fresh rosemary leaves, finely chopped
1 scallion, finely chopped
2 Tbsp dried cranberries
1/8 cup toasted hazelnuts

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add a pinch of salt, then add the cous cous all at once. Cover with lid and cook for about 15 minutes, or until tender. Drain the cous cous and place in a mixing bowl. While the cous is still warm, add the orange zest, garlic, rosemary, scallion, and cranberries. Drizzle some olive oil to moisten ingredients (about a teaspoon is enough) and season with salt and pepper to taste. Toss to combine. Add the hazelnuts and mix in. Serve.