Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chicken Couscous

I've been pondering about my job a lot lately.  Being a full time mom is HARD, y'all!  I quit my job at the beginning of the year to stay home full time. Derek and I decided that with his travel schedule, it would be easier on everyone if I was home with the kids.  And really, it has made a HUGE difference in our lives.  Our stress level is much lower (I attribute it to the house always being clean - a clean house just makes you feel at peace!).  Plus I love that I can be there for the kids in ways I couldn't before.  I love volunteering at Zach's school and being able to be at every class party! I love those days when he comes home to a fresh batch of cookies (how June Cleaver of me, right?), and I love being able to provide healthier food for both him and Alice (because I have time to cook it!!).  I once told Derek that before I quit my job, I felt like I was doing two jobs at about 50%.  Now, I feel like I'm doing one job at 110%.  It's such a good feeling to be able to support my family in this way.

(warning - I am about to spout off things that every stay-at-home mom says)

But it's true what they say - it's the hardest job in the world.  My job is literally 24-7.  I mean, I do get a break...when I sleep. But even then, I wake up in the middle of the night and start making lists in my head of chores to do, errands to run, upcoming events. It really never ends.  Also, imagine if at the end of your work day, your boss came in and deleted every file that you worked on that day. That's what it feels like when you spend the day cleaning the house and within 20 minutes of everybody being home it's all destroyed.

All this to say that it's really easy to get burned out.  Moms really do need a break every now and then. So dads, take note. Every now and then, hand your wife a glass of wine and insist that she take a break. The other day, I was in a mood! I had had a particularly rough day, the house was a mess, the kids were being loud....and my husband put me in a time out. He handed me a big glass of red wine and sent me to my room.  I sat, listened to music, browsed Facebook. It was JUST what I needed.

And it's part of the reason I love the dish I'm sharing with you today!  I'll admit, I've made this dish a few times, but it's really become my husband's speciality.  When it's on the menu, it's assumed that he will be cooking that night.  And it's SO GOOD!! We literally have it once a week and we never get tired of it!

I think my favorite part about this meal is the pearl couscous.  Also called Israeli couscous, it's a plumper, chewier version of the couscous most people are accustomed to.

If I could find whole wheat pearl couscous, I would be all over that! But since there is no such thing at our neighborhood grocery store, we use this tri-color couscous:

This dish combines pearl couscous, chicken, chickpeas, and tomatoes with a plethora of spices like cinnamon, cumin, curry, and red cayenne pepper. 

We like to add a bit of chili paste as well to make it spicy! It's perfect for a cold winter night, but we love it in the summer, too!

Start by cutting your chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Salt and pepper well.

Cook the chicken in about 2 tbl oil until no longer pink.  Be sure not to over cook it as it will simmer once everything is added back together.  Remove the chicken and set aside, leaving the liquid in the pan. 

Add to this liquid your chopped onions and spices and cook just until they begin to turn translucent. 

Add to the onions 3/4 cup of chicken broth and the juice from the canned tomatoes (this usually comes to a total of 1 1/4 cup of liquid, which is what the cooking instructions for the couscous call for). Bring to a boil and add the couscous, chickpeas and tomatoes.

Cover and simmer for 8-10 minutes according to the couscous cooking instructions.

Once the couscous is tender, add the chicken back in (as well as a bit of cilantro). 

Let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow all the flavors to mingle.  If you like it hot, you can also add in some chili paste or Siracha at this point. YUM!

This dish is full of strong, Mediterranean flavors. The chicken is tender and the couscous is chewy. I love everything about it! 

And who can forget the chef extraordinaire??

Give this meal a try...soon! I promise you won't regret it!

What's your favorite way to relax after a particularly trying day?

Chicken Couscous (adapted from The South Beach Diet Quick and Easy Cookbook)
  • 1 lb chicken breasts cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp curry
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/4 tsp red cayenne pepper
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth + approx. 1/2 cup juice from canned tomatoes
  • 1 can tomatoes
  • 1 can chickpeas, rinse and drained
  • 1 cup pearl couscous
  • cilantro
  • chili paste (optional)

1.  Cook the chicken in approx. 2 tablespoons oil until no longer pink.  Remove from pan leaving any liquid.

2.  Add chopped onion to pan as well as the cinnamon, curry, cumin, and red pepper.  Cook until onions are just turning translucent.

3.  Add the chicken broth and juice from tomatoes and bring to a boil.

4.  Add the couscous, chickpeas, and tomatoes. Cover and simmer 8-10 minutes according to couscous cooking instructions.

5.  Once the couscous is fully cooked add chicken back in as well as a bit of cilantro and chili paste if desired.  Simmer for 5-10 minutes.

6. Serve hot with additional cilantro for a garnish.