Friday, November 21, 2014

Autumn Couscous Salad


8 ounces Israeli or Pearl couscous, about 1 ½ cups
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 shallot, diced, about 2 tablespoons
1 fennel bulb, diced, about 1 cup
2 ½ cups butternut squash, peeled, seeded and diced
3 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
¾ cup dried cranberries
½ cup dried currants
1 ½ cups apple juice, reserving ¼ cup of the cooked juice
¼ cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
1 tablespoon parsley, chopped


1. Bring water to boil in a medium size saucepan, add couscous and bring back to a boil then lower to medium and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes. Drain in a colander, but do not rinse. Set aside in a mixing bowl to cool.
2. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add the shallot and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Add diced fennel and cook for another 5 minutes or until fennel softens. Add butternut squash, sage, cranberries, currants and apple juice and cook for 15 minutes or until butternut squash has softened and almost all of the apple juice has cooked down. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer the mixture to the bowl with the couscous, reserving about ¼ cup of the apple juice for the vinaigrette.
3. In a small bowl, mix the reserved apple juice, olive oil, red wine vinegar and more salt and pepper to taste. Add to the couscous with the parsley and stir. Let couscous sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes for flavors to meld before serving. Add more sage if desired.

I made this for a party at work and it received a lot of compliments.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Kiva Loan to Alvin in the Philippines

From the Kiva website: "Julieta, 42, is from Dingalan, Aurora (Philippines). She is married and blessed with one son, Alvin. Even with only one child, Julieta and her husband find it difficult to support him financially because they are low-income. Julieta wants to borrow a PHP 200,000 education loan from Kiva lenders to pay for her son's tuition fees. Alvin is earning a B.S. in electrical engineering. Alvin wants to finish college in order to achieve personal success and help his parents out of poverty."

Italian White Beans with Kale

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion chopped
1 shallot chopped
8 cloves of garlic sliced
1 bunch of kale chopped, discard ribs
8 to 10 sprigs of fresh thyme, stripped of leaves. Discard stems.
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon sea salt
½ cup water
2 15oz cans of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
fresh ground black pepper to taste
½ teaspoon umeboshi plum vinegar (optional)

In a large covered pot, sauté onion, garlic, and shallot in oil until transparent. Turn heat to medium, and add water, salt, kale, bay, and thyme leaves. Cook covered until greens are soft, stirring occasionally. Turn down heat, add beans and pepper and cook another few minutes. Remove bay leaves and add umeboshi vinegar before serving.

I made this on Saturday and it was super quick and delicious. I didn't have fresh thyme so used dried and also didn't add the vinegar at the end.
I made this again Thanksgiving weekend.
This time I used two bunches of lacinato kale and fresh thyme which I didn't have the last time. This is one of my favorite dishes, very simple to make with lots of flavor.

Pearl Riding Shotgun

A very serious Pearl on her way to the dog park.

Pearl at the Dog Park

My favorite dog Pearl stayed with me this weekend so I decided to take her to the Danny Jackson Dog Park. We went Saturday and Sunday morning and it pretty much exhausted her for the rest of the day. We tried the little dog section but she was more of a big dog type so we switched to the big dog section. There is a whole flock of wild parrots who live there. I wasn't able to get a picture of them because it was rainy but I looked it up and they are actually Monk parakeets. There are several flocks of them in the Houston area.

Monday, November 3, 2014


I'm dog sitting an adorable Shiba Inu this week. He was a little nervous after his mom dropped him off Saturday morning but by the afternoon seemed happy. We go on lots of walks because our weather is so nice right now and he sleeps curled up next to me at night.