Ancho Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous

I’m all about keeping things simple in the kitchen, my life is already complicated enough! On busy week nights, a one-dish dinner can really lessen mealtime stress — especially a quick-to-clean-up recipe that is made with seasonal ingredients in 20 minutes or less. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

Everyone in my family loves seafood; it’s often hard to decide what variety to cook! However, my recipe for Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous keeps everyone happy with a trio of gulf shrimp, sea scallops and haddock fish.  Ancho chili powder (from the milder poblano pepper), bourbon and real maple syrup get  friendly together for a smoky sweet flavor that is “kid-approved” spicy without being a tongue torcher. Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.

After blackening the seafood in my Swiss Diamond Fry Pan (more about that practical luxury in a second),  seasonal vegetables such as butternut squash and Brussels sprouts get a quick searing and then finish alongside the whole grain pearl couscous as it cooks with  Better Than Bouillon® Seasoned Vegetable Base.   Better Than Bouillon

I’ve been a fan of Better Than Bouillon® blendable bases for years and use them in so many recipes ranging from soups, sauces, pasta and anywhere you would use a stock. Available in a range of flavors made from real ingredients including beef, chicken, vegetable and more, each jar of “flavor magic” as I like to say, punches up the flavor intensity so quickly and conveniently. I just stir a teaspoon into a quart of water to use as a traditional stock or use as much or as little as my creation of the day dictates.  I love that I can just make what I need, no wasteful half-full cans of broth sitting around to spoil. Pouring Better than Bouillon in Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

So back to the fry pan! While I mentioned I like things simple, I don’t like to skimp on quality. I always use the freshest, most beautiful produce and best cuts of meat and seafood selections that I can afford – eating well is my deserved splurge in life! I would not risk ruining my perishable investments in anything less than high-end cookware that delivers results. Even though nicer pots and pans may cost a touch more, it keeps from burning or otherwise ruining my food and having to routinely replace cheap pots and pans that can’t keep up with my tasks.  Chef quality cookware from Swiss Diamond suits my tastes and makes it easy to create my kitchen masterpieces with confidence.Putting lid on Swiss Diamond Fry Pan

The 11” Non-stick Fry Pan with Lid  I used to make my skillet dinner has been called the “Rolls Royce of Non-stick Fry Pans” by the Wall Street Journal!  When I blackened the seafood and cooked couscous in it, I was sure that there was going to be some elbow grease involved in getting off the crispy bits and goo – but no, it just swipes clean with a dish towel or brush.  So, how does this magic happen? The pots and pans are made with cast aluminum and treated (three times!) in a proprietary non-sticking coating that includes REAL diamond particles. I learned that diamonds “are a chef’s best friend” because they are durable, non-stick and are excellent conductors of heat!  I also loved how this fry pan has an ergonomic handle that that is cool-to-the touch but can go in the oven up to 500F degrees and comes with clear view lid with an adjustable vent to keep steam in or out! Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous.

So, I hope you find 30 minutes tonight to make my delicious, autumn-inspired Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous. Creative, convenient and easy to clean up!

How do you #MakeMealsBetter ? Please share your favorite one dish dinner or time-saving meal prep tip in the comments. XOXO – Jennifer

Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous is a one dish, 20 minute dinner that is perfect for fall weeknights.
Ancho Blackened Seafood Skillet with Bourbon Maple Veggie Couscous
Print Recipe
This autumn-inspired seafood recipe features shrimp, fish and scallops plus loads of seasonal vegetables and whole grain couscous to create a balanced meal that all cooks in the same skillet -- finished in 20 minutes!
Servings
4 servings
Servings
4 servings
Instructions
  1. In small bowl, mix together salt, pepper, cumin and Ancho powder.
  2. Pat seafood dry and rub spice mix on all sides of seafood liberally.
  3. Heat grapeseed oil in 11” skillet to medium-high. Add seafood and sear for 2 to 3 minutes on each side until blackened and cooked through. Remove seafood from pan with spatula for use later in recipe.
  4. Add butternut squash and Brussels sprouts to same pan over medium-high and good until beginning to brown and caramelize, but slightly “undercooked,” about 4 minutes.
  5. Add bourbon to skillet and cook for 30 seconds, stirring to deglaze pan. Add syrup and stir for 30 seconds.
  6. Add dry couscous to skillet. Stir vegetable base into hot water and pour into skillet. Stir gently to combine all ingredients. Reduce heat to medium-low, add lid with vent closed, and simmer for approximately 5 to 8 minutes or until water absorbed and couscous tender.
  7. Turn off heat. Arrange seafood on top of this mixture and replace lid to “warm” for 1 minute.
  8. Garnish with sliced green onions.
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Turk’y Cutlets with Fall Festival Couscous #OMGardein Holiday

If your life is similar to mine, that November and December datebook is packed full of year-end deadlines, holiday planning, seemingly never-ending shopping and all sorts of soirees, celebrations and family festivities. Oh, and don’t forget squeezing in running and working out so that you can charge into the New Year fabulously fit. All this whirlwind of activity can wreak havoc on healthy dinner plans, but I have a nutritious, quick and easy dinner idea planned with plant-based proteins from Gardein.

Turk'y Cutlets with Fall Festival Couscous

My recipe for Gardein Turk’y Cutlet with Fall Festival Couscous is perfect for a quick weeknight meal but also gorgeous enough for any holiday company that may be dropping by. Full disclosure — I definitely eat beef, chicken, fish  . . . . and, lots of plant-based proteins too – I love variety and all the foods! However, I have a non meat-eating family member visiting every Thanksgiving and Christmas, so I’m always on the lookout for vegetarian recipes that he and the entire family will enjoy. Dinners featuring a Gardein Turk’y Cutlet are proven winners with me, my kids and my company – they cook up in just 15 minutes, have a delicious crunchy exterior texture and offer 22 grams of protein. Serve these versatile cutlets on top of my fall-inspired nut and fruit Fall Festival Couscous and you have a vibrant vegetarian meal with a comforting vibe!

Gardeom Turkey Cutlets on Fall Festival Couscous

Fall Festival CouscousSweet Potato, Cranberry and Pistachio Couscous

The beauty of couscous is that it cooks in less time than the quick and easy Turk’y Cutlets, so you don’t have to worry about delaying dinner while you wait for brown rice, quinoa or another grain to finish up.  I suggest the larger “pearl” couscous, also known as “Israeli” couscous – it can be found near the  whole wheat.  Other nutritious ingredients in this colorful side dish include dried cranberries, shelled pistachios and diced sweet potatoes.Mini Crabless Cakes from Gardein

Gardein Turk’y Cutlets aren’t the only product you’ll love. The company sells over 20 different varieties of plant-based proteins made with non-GMO soy and wheat, ancient grains and veggies – the taste and texture is excellent!  Hungry holiday guests always seem to require appetizers to distract them from the delicious smells of the main course coming from the oven. Gardein has many quick-to-cook and simple-to-serve protein options that make an excellent starter for your gathering. For example, the Gardein Mini Crabless Cakes can be served with an easy dip such as honey mustard sauce, a tomato-based cocktail sauce, ranch style dip or mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha  — I’m serving them up at my next party sprinkled with feta and pomegranate arils with a berry vinaigrette for dipping.

 

gardienLook for these products in the freezer aisle to use in my recipe for Turk’y Cutlets with Fall Festival Couscous and test out your own creativity with the succulent, seafood-inspired Gardein Mini Crabless Cakes  — and you can also visit the Gardein Holiday Recipe Page for lots of quick and easy recipes with a festive flair and a money-saving  coupon download.

 


Gardeom Turkey Cutlets on Fall Festival Couscous
Turk'y Cutlets with Fall Festival Couscous
Print Recipe
This quick and easy meal featuring Gardein plant-based protein brings the special flavor of the fall holidays to every night weeknight dinners.
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Gardeom Turkey Cutlets on Fall Festival Couscous
Turk'y Cutlets with Fall Festival Couscous
Print Recipe
This quick and easy meal featuring Gardein plant-based protein brings the special flavor of the fall holidays to every night weeknight dinners.
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Servings Prep Time
2 servings 5 minutes
Cook Time
15 minutes
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400 F degrees and cook Turk’y Cutlets for 15 mintues, flipping once. While cutlets are cooking, prepare couscous (below):
  2. Add olive oil to 1 quart pot and bring to medium heat. Add sweet potatoes and par cook for 3 minutes, stirring continuously.
  3. Add parsley, onion, pepper, couscous and vegetable broth to sweet potatoes and stir until combined.
  4. Bring mixture to a boil and turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand, while still covered, for another 5 minutes.
  5. Stir in cranberries and pistachios.
  6. To serve, make a mound with ½ the couscous mixture and top with 2 Gardein Turk’y Cutlets. Drizzle with warmed gravy packet, if desired.
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One-Pot Balsamic Chicken and Couscous + #Giveaway LitehouseFoods

One Pot Creamy Balsamic Chicken with Couscous - TheFitFork.com

Do you ever look around after preparing a meal and feel like you’ve dirtied up EVERY pot, pan and bowl in your collection? No one ever seems to honor the “I cooked so you clean” rule on those nights when I create a bit too much chaos in the kitchen!  But, wait until you see this delicious recipe I created for the Litehouse Foods blog —  One-Pot Cream Balsamic Chicken and Couscous!  It’s truly a busy-night blessing, only ONE dish and a couple utensils to clean up . . . and did I mention tasty?

This one-pot recipe is a well-balanced, nutritious meal inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, so pour yourself a glass of red wine if you must!  Featuring colorful red tomatoes (I love the little Cherubs) and yellow peppers, everyone’s favorite chicken breasts, whole wheat couscous, creamy balsamic sauce and a finishing crunch or garlicky croutons, I seriously doubt you’ll have any leftovers to scrape out of that one single pot!!

One Pot Balsamic Chicken and Couscous - TheFitFork.com

Please head over to Living Lighthouse to grab this recipe for One-Pot Creamy Balsamic Chicken and Couscous!

So, what’s for dessert? I love having “dressed up” fruit for dessert like my Salted Honey and Ginger Broiled Grapefruit or Watermelon with Fruit Salsa. But if you’re looking for a quick and healthy dessert that won’t dirty up any dishes in the making, how about just sticking some dark chocolate chips into raspberries and eating right out of the carton!

Chocolate Chip Stuffed Raspberries - TheFitFork.com

Win Litehouse Foods Coupons - TheFitFork.comTo encourage you to make some of these yummy recipes, I’m giving away five (5) coupons for Litehouse Food’s Products (they expire on 12/31/15).  Litehouse Foods makes all sorts of fresh products like traditional salad dressings and vinaigrettes; Greek yogurt based dressings and dips; caramels and sweet dips, freeze-dried herbs; artisanal cheeses and more. You can find most of these products in the refrigerated section of your market’s fresh produce section and gourmet cheese area. Two of the coupons are specifically designated for the Artisan Reserve Cheeses including gorgonzola, blue cheese and feta.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fruit & Nut Holiday Couscous Mix – DIY Gift for Foodies

Fruit & Nut Couscous Mix - TheFitFork.comI am here to rescue you from last-minute gifting stress and solve holiday side dish dilemmas – both at the SAME time! You can thank me later. In my opinion, there’s nothing more tasteful than a healthy gourmet gift, and my recipe for Fruit & Nut Holiday Couscous Mix will delight all the fit foodies on your list. This homemade gift looks like a lot of time and effort went into it, artistically arranged with jewel-toned layers of cranberries and pistachios between pearled whole wheat couscous. In reality, it’s super simple to make (like a kiddy sand art project) and, for my craft-challenged self, more time and effort went into tying the bows and making gift tags!

jar of cranberry pistachio couscous mix for giftsYou can use a new mason jar, recycled glass jar or any container of your choosing – get creative! Also, I’ve made the same mix and swapped out other types of dried fruit and nuts for the cranberries and pistachios with excellent results. Consider combinations such as Apricot & Almond, Apple & Pecan or Date & Almond – the possibilities are nearly limitless!
Gift Tag for Fruit & Nut Holiday Couscous MixHere is a gift tag you can print out on sticker paper and place right on the jar – or use with card stock, write your personal sentiments on the back, and then tie around the neck of bottle with ribbon.

 

 

 

Cranberry Pistachio CousCous - TheFitFork.com

While you’re busy making batches of these jar food gifts to give friends, family and neighbors, don’t forget about stocking your own pantry. The Cranberry & Pistachio Couscous makes a fast and festive side dish that pairs beautifully with beef, chicken, pork and more and can be completed from pot to plate in just 5 minutes. I’m serious!

Fruit & Nut Holiday Couscous Mix Recipe

Supplies needed: 3 approximate 12-ounce jelly or mason jars, ribbon, gift tags.

  • 1 tablespoon dried mint*
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley*
  • 2 tablespoons dried onion flakes*
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes that have be smashed into powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups of whole wheat pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • 1 1/2 cups regular pearl (Israeli) couscous
  • • 1 cup raw shelled pistachios (can sub any nut)
  • • 1 cup dried cranberries (can sub any dried fruit)
  1. In small bowl, mix together mint, parsley, dried onion, crushed vegetable bullion and pepper.
  2. Pour approximately 2 tablespoons of spice mix into the bottom of clean, dry jar. Repeat for total of 3 jars.
  3. Layer ingredients in a manner that pleases you until ½-inch from top. The approximate measurements I used for my layers were 1/3 cup for each couscous layer and 3 tablespoons for each fruit and/or nut layer.
  4. Screw lid tightly on and decorate with ribbon.
  5. Makes 3 gift jars that serve 2 – 3 people each.
  6. Cooking directions on gift tag (above).

*Litehouse Food’s line of Instantly Fresh Herbs work very well in this recipe and actually they’re having a Pinterest Sweepstakes where you can win the entire line of Instantly Fresh products plus a $250 Amazon gift card (but hurry because winner will be drawn on 12/23/2014).

micheles granola

Also, I want to share with you a delicious granola that I was recently sent to sample – Michele’s Granola! I tried the Cherry Chocolate and Pumpkin Spice flavors and they were both oh-so yummy (better than cookies!) that I can’t wait to munch on every other variety of this handmade, small-batch granola. Michele’s Granola is made with 100% organic whole grain oats (most other ingredients are organic too) and everything is also GMO-free, preservative-free, dairy-free, wheat-free and peanut-free.

micheles granola logoYou can find Michele’s Granola at natural food retailers (Whole Foods in Austin), grocery stores or online at MichelesGranola.com. Use promo code FRESH10 to get 10% off your online order.

 

 

 

Do you make any homemade food gifts for the holidays? Please share your ideas!

 

 

Farm to Fork Facts & Beef Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers Recipe

This weekend, I spent another educational day with the Texas Beef Council learning about how my favorite protein source – beef — makes it from “farm to fork.” With beef industry experts on-board our charter bus classroom, a small herd of beef-eating athletes slash curious consumers rolled through the Central Texas countryside on a mission to gain a deeper understanding of the cattle industry . . . . and, ultimately, those steaks on our dinner plates. Over the day, we toured a working ranch, visited a feed lot and then hoofed it around a ginormous meat department at a super-sized HEB.

SAMSUNG

If you’ve read my blog before, you know I’m a big fan of beef. After avoiding it for the first half of my life, I suddenly found myself craving it during my first pregnancy. Of course, my body had finally taken the reigns from my brain, telling it I needed the added protein, iron, B vitamins, zinc and several other vital nutrients in which I was missing the mark. That was 17 years ago and today I’m still craving beef as a way to refuel my body after hard running and strength-training workouts.

But, that’s enough about me. I want to share some new-to-me, interesting things I learned about beef this weekend, facts I think you should know too. The final beef tidbit in my list is a yummy appetizer recipe that the awesome folks with the Texas Beef Council fed with us as a prelude to dinner.

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A Few Farm to Fork Facts: Most I Never Knew – Did You?

  1. The average ranch in Texas is just something like 46 heads of cattle; this really busted my “big business” view of the cattle raising industry. We visited the approximate 2,000 herd Breitschopft Ranch in Gonzalez and this, aside from just a handful of mega-ranches in the state, is as “big business” as it gets – yet it was a surprisingly down-home, salt-of-the-earth, family-oriented operation with an owner who works his butt off 365 days a year to produce a quality product for consumers.
  2. When you buy “Certified Angus Beef” in the grocery store or order it from a restaurant menu you are ordering a “brand” of beef, not specifically a “grade” of beef.  The grades of beef given by USDA inspectors are prime, choice, select and a few lesser-quality grades. According to the Certified Angus Beef website, this brand only puts its name on prime and choice grades – but this makes it no better or worse than equivalent piece of beef with the same grade. Another interesting fact about the admittedly yummy brand; the Angus designation only requires the animal’s hide to be at least 51 percent black. Really.
  3. The yellow-orange tint in the rendered fat from grass-finished beef (meaning the cow never went to a feed lot before slaughter) comes from the fat-soluble beta-carotene in the ingested grass.  I asked this question after being curious about the different-colored drippings in my grill pan after experimenting with a ground grass-fed beef product.
  4. Changes in cattle breeding and fat-trimming methods have resulted in increased availability of leaner beef. I’ve mentioned a million times before that there are 29 cuts of lean beef.  But, I didn’t realize that a whopping two-thirds (67%) of beef sold at retail (including popular cuts like sirloin tenderloin and t-bone) meet governmental guidelines for “lean.” How can you NOT have beef for dinner!
  5. A cow’s stomach (a four-compartment vessel collectively called a rumen) is a very complicated thing. To put it simply, the animal co-exists with billions of microbes in the stomach – bacteria, fungi and protists – that break down grass, hay and other food products into nutrients a cow is actually able to digest. I haven’t done justice to the science behind the rumen, especially considering there are people with advanced college degrees on the topic!
  6. The beef supply in the US is very, very, extremely safe and highly regulated by the thousands of USDA inspectors every step of the way. The chances of being affected by one of the media sensationalized “beef issues” is like “being struck by lightning AND winning the powerball lottery on the same day” according to a PhD beef expert I know to be very knowledgeable on the subject. By the way, Facts About Beef is a great resource for gathering more information on any beef concerns you might encounter.
  7. My last tidbit is about cooking with ground beef. Ground beef is very convenient, cost-efficient and gives you so many ways to be creative! Plus, I forgot to mention ground beef can be super delicious as evidenced by this easy appetizer from the Texas Beef Council.

jennifer fisher - thefitfork.com - beef stuffed bell peppers

Beef & Couscous Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 15 baby sweet bell peppers (approx. 2.5” to 3” long)
  • 2/3 cup spicy 100% vegetable juice
  • ½ cup frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
  • ¼ cup whole wheat couscous
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ cup reduced fat shredded Pepper Jack Cheese

Heat oven to 400F degrees. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise; remove seeds and membranes, but not stems. Place peppers, cut sides up, onto two rimmed baking sheets.

Combine ground beef, vegetable juice, spinach, couscous, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper in large bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Spoon beef mixture evenly into peppers; sprinkle tops evenly with cheese.

Bake, uncovered, for 25 – 30 minutes or until instant-read thermometer inserted into center of pepper registers 160F degrees and peppers begin to brown.

Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.