Monday, June 23, 2008

Lemon Parsley Chicken with Baked Couscous

I picked up Donna Hay's Off the Shelf cookbook a few months ago and I haven't had much of a chance to explore it. I've been up to my neck in baby...which has been absolutely wonderful. We've been busy enjoying Grace and all of her firsts...first trip to the grocery store, first bath, first outing to church, first time to get pooped on - you know all the wonderful things that we've been waiting for since last August.
So, with company gone and the house to myself I was more than happy to get both kids to bed at the same time today and have an hour or two (don't ask me how I got so lucky!) to relax today. My first mission was to find a recipe that would help me use up a few chicken breasts I had in the refrigerator. This lemon parsley chicken recipe looked right up my alley. Just a few standard ingredients and less than 10 minutes to prep made this recipe get my vote. I loved the idea of baking the couscous since I normally do it on the stove top. I've also been wanting to try out the whole wheat version that has been hanging out in the pantry.
I actually packed this up into individual containers and toted it to the garden for dinner. We've gotten a little behind on the weeding so we're going to meet my husband there on his way home from work a few nights this week. Bringing dinner will allow us to make good use of the daylight hours we have left.
I loved how the couscous turned out in the oven. The chicken was pretty good, moist and cooked just right, but I think I'll change up the herbs next time. I really like rosemary and I think I might add some zucchini and onions underneath the chicken breasts or as a side dish in the future. Overall I liked the concept and will be using this technique again. I'll have to post an update when I find my favorite version.

Lemon Parsley Chicken with Baked Couscous
adapted from Off the Shelf by Donna Hay

3 chicken breasts
2 cups couscous
2 1/2 cups chicken broth
1 Tablespoon garlic, chopped
1 lemon
2 Tablespoons parsley, chopped
2 Tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in heated skillet for 2 minutes per side. Add garlic and saute for an additional minute. Remove from heat. In a medium baking dish, place couscous with chicken broth, olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.
Place chicken breasts on top of couscous mixture. Sprinkle with parsley and zest the lemon over dish. Place in oven for 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
We served with additional lemon wedges. Donna Hay's version has capers and olives mixed in with the chicken and couscous, but my husband isn't a big olive fan so we did without.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Foccacia Panini

Nothing could be easier than making sandwiches. We have our fair share of sandwiches around here, but I love to dress up our plain ham and cheese and make it something special. Sometimes we grill them, add special sauces, or extra veggies. Today, however, I went to the grocery store and picked up a loaf of foccacia bread to go with our sandwich fixings. I didn't think much of it, I just figured it would make our dinner a little more interesting. So, when my husband bit into his panini-that took just minutes to prepare-and went on and on about how much he liked it, I was surprised. After I sat down and gave it a try I was pleased with myself and my bread selection as well. These were truly tasty sandwiches. These were out of the ordinary and quite delicious.
These ham and provolone sandwiches were good. The bread had crisped up nicely in the panini press and they had a good bite to them. I also liked the fact that I could buy one round of foccacia, make one big sandwich, and share it between us. I'm pretty sure we're going to be having these often. They will definitely be replacing the regular old sandwiches and would be a great option for serving to lunch guests. I can't wait to play with other meat and cheese combinations.

Foccacia Panini
1 loaf foccacia, sliced
deli meats and cheeses of your choice
olive oil
Drizzle a little olive oil on the insides of the bread. Assemble the sandwich to your liking. Drizzle a tiny bit of olive oil on the outside of the bread. Place in a preheated panini press until browned and crisp. (If you do not have a panini press, you could use a griddle, grill pan, or saute pan and either place a heavy cast iron pan on top of the sandwich or use a tin-foil wrapped brick on top of the sandwich to press it down.)

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