Butternut Squash Soup

I LOVE this soup! All of my friends can attest to this. I make it every chance I get. We had it at our pumpkin carving party and at our early Thanksgiving celebration last night. I also make it for lunch every chance I get. I’ll make a big batch and just keep it in the fridge right in the dutch oven. That way I have a delicious lunch waiting for me every day! I think you get the point!

Stew and I went to Monza last weekend, our favorite restaurant downtown. The special that night was pumpkin soup. I HAD to get it to see how it compared to mine. I actually liked mine better!!! It was definitely tasty and had a great apple onion compote on top with some toasted almonds. But there is just something so addictive about this butternut squash soup!

It all started when I was home for lunch a few months back and the good old PB&J just wasn’t gonna cut it. I had all of the ingredients I needed to make this soup, so I gave it a whirl! I was so proud of the finished product! The thing that makes this different than all the other pumpkin or squash soups I’ve had is that it’s sweeter! It has a great balance of spice from the pepper and sweet from the maple syrup. Roasting the squash adds so much more flavor too! In my opinion, roasting the squash is the secret weapon. You can switch up the toppers to shake it up too. I topped this batch with a little toast with goat cheese, cranberry relish, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. SO GOOD!

You have to make it. It would be a perfect little appetizer for Thanksgiving or really any occasion! I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed!


Butternut
 Squash 
Soupserves 6

3 cups roasted butternut squash (1 large or 2 medium)*

olive oil

1/2 onion diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 celery stalk, diced

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp 2% milk (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

*For the squash-Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel the squash (I use a potato peeler) and cut the ends off. Cut in half where the squash begins to round. Cut the round half in two lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (just as you would a pumpkin). Cut the squash into about 1 inch cubes. Spread the cubes out onto two sheet pans. Pour 3 tbsp olive oil on each pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper on each pan. Mix thoroughly with your hands so that the squash is evenly coated. Place in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Use a spatula to move the squash around halfway through the cooking. Once they are fork tender, they’re ready!

Heat large dutch oven to medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 more minutes. Add in the butternut squash, chicken stock, and cinnamon. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes. Working in batches depending on the size of your blender, transfer mixture to your blender and mix until smooth (you can add more stock for a thinner consistency). Make sure to hold lid securely in place with a dish towel over it. Transfer the blended mixture back to the pot over low heat. Add in the maple syrup, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Just heat until warm enough to serve. I topped this batch with a little toast with goat cheese, cranberry relish, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Maple Glazed Salmon

Let me start by saying I’m not a huge salmon fan. In fact, it’s my least favorite fish… until now that is! In an effort to add more fish to my diet, I put salmon on the menu for the week, even though I wasn’t thrilled about it. Holy moly this salmon is good! The main reason I didn’t love it is that I’ve had it when it seemed to be undercooked. So instead of cooking it on the stove or the oven, I broiled it! That was the secret weapon. Broiling it made the glaze sweet and caramelized on top. YUM. Stew and I took our first hesitant bite and both looked at each other in amazement and said, “WOW this is really good!”
Not only is it delicious, but it couldn’t be easier to make! I literally put all of the ingredients into a ziplock bag, mixed it up, and popped the salmon in there. I let it sit in the fridge for a couple hours and BAM… delicious salmon ready to broil! I paired it with a simple quinoa and some Haricot Vert (french green beans) on the side. This was one of the best meals we’ve had in a while. It will definitely be a “go-to” from now on! Hope you enjoy!

Maple Glazed
SalmonI
Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 4-4 oz pieces raw salmon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/4 c maple syrup
  • 1 T sesame oil
  • 2 T rice vinegar
  • 2 T soy sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/8 t crushed red pepper
Directions
  1. Combine all ingredients, except for the salmon, into a gallon sized ziplock bag. Mush all ingredients together with your hands.
  2. Add salmon to the  ziplock bag, then refrigerate and marinate for at least an hour (I marinated it for 4 hours).
  3. Preheat the broiler in your oven. Line the bottom of your broiler pan or a baking sheet with aluminum foil, and spray with cooking spray.
  4. Place salmon skin side down onto the foil. Pour some of the excess marinade over the salmon, sprinkle with a little bit of salt and pepper, then place directly under the broiler. Cook for 10-12 minutes, depending on the salmon’s thickness, until opaque and flakes easily with a fork.
  5. Remove and serve immediately.

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Momma’s Chicken and Dumplings

I absolutely LOVE chicken and dumplings. I feel like it’s one of those warm-you-heart-and-soul meals. At least it always felt that way to me growing up. Now, I know it’s not quite cold enough, and I might be jumping the gun here, but I couldn’t help myself! I had some leftover chicken and I thought this was a great way to use it! My trick for shredding chicken, as I’ve probably told you too many times, is to pop the chicken breasts in a crock pot with water almost covering them. Put some salt, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns in there. Cook them on low for 3 hours and they should be SO tender and ready to shred. Then I use what I need and save the rest for another meal. It’s a good way to make your chicken go a long way. It also mixes up your meals so you don’t have to have leftovers! That technique makes this meal REALLY quick and easy to pull together on a week night!

Time for the soup! I pull out my already shredded chicken and cut up my veggies so I’m ready to go!

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken broth, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add in chicken and peas. In a separate bowl, heat 1 cup chicken stock and slowly whisk in 1/4 cup flour. Pour the flour and broth mixture into the soup (if lumpy, use a sieve to strain the mixture as you pour it in). Bring soup up to a boil and reduce to simmer about 10 minutes, or until broth is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling batter according to package instructions. Here is my warning… I know you’re thinking “Bisquick!?” But honestly, I’ve tried all the homemade buttermilk dumpling recipes and they come out terrible! They taste like sticky gummy wads of dough. The Bisquick is the ONLY thing that has cooked up light and fluffy on the soup. Trust me!

Remove bay leaves. Gently drop spoonfuls of dough onto the soup about 1 inch apart. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the biscuits comes out clean. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

Momma’s Chicken and Dumplings

Serves 4

1/2 onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/4 tsp thyme

salt

pepper

2 bay leaves

4 cups chicken broth (1 cup reserved)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1- 7.75 oz package Bisquick buttermilk biscuit mix.

For the soup:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken broth, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add in chicken and peas. In a separate bowl, heat 1 cup chicken stock and slowly whisk in 1/4 cup flour (use a sieve to pour mixture into the soup if it is lumpy). Bring soup up to a boil and reduce to simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes, or until broth is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare dumplings according to package instructions.

Remove bay leaves. Gently drop spoonfuls of dough onto the soup about 1 inch apart. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the biscuits comes out clean. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

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Chicken Kale and Tomato Tacos

My husband was just teasing me about how I put kale in everything! I just feel like it’s such an underused green, and it’s SO good for you! It really absorbs any flavor you pack in there. When I was in my first trimester, I was on this kale kick (because we got so much dang kale in our CSA). I made it with some chicken broth, lemon juice, and hot sauce… it was so good! I was eating a head of kale a day for a while there!

Now, my husband will eat it, but not quite as much as I would. So I was trying to figure out how to turn kale into a substantial meal. Put it into tacos with some chicken…voila! It couldn’t be easier to make! Everything goes into one pot! If you don’t have leftover chicken, you could easily get a rotisserie chicken or grill up some chicken breasts and cut them up. I actually had leftover lemon chicken this particular night, but the citrus worked great! It’s a delicious low-fat meal that’s packed with protein, fiber, and tons of vitamins! It would even be good, if you had leftovers, to toss it with some whole wheat pasta! That was my lunch the next day. Enjoy!

Chicken Kale and Tomato Tacos

Serves 4

8 corn tortillas

1 cup leftover chicken, shredded or cut into pieces

1 cup pinto beans, drained and  rinsed

4 leaves of kale, roughly chopped

1 small shallot, diced

1 teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon smoked paprika

1 teaspoon chili powder, or to taste

a pinch of salt

a pinch of pepper

1/2 cup chopped tomatoes

1 lime, sliced into wedges

Prep your veggies by dicing the shallot, chopping tomatoes, and cutting the kale; set all aside. That way they’re ready to drop into the pot!

In a dutch oven or large pot on medium-high heat, saute the shallot with oil for about 3 minutes. Add leftover chicken, beans, and kale. Season with cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, salt and pepper and cook until the kale wilts down, about 5 minutes. Toss in the tomatoes at the last second just to heat everything together. Heat another pan on medium-high heat and warm the tortillas for 30 seconds on each side. You can even warm them in the microwave for a few seconds with a damp paper towel on top. To serve, top the tortillas with the chicken and kale mixture. Top with a squirt of lime.
 


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Black Bean and Corn Summer Chili

As you may know, I’m pregnant! I’m not having any cravings, but usually by this time during the summer, I’m ready for comfort foods! I’ve been wanting things like chili, stews, pumpkin spice things, cinnamon etc. So I’m working on getting the comfort food taste but keeping that light and fresh summer feel. That brought me to this recipe! It’s hearty and comforting, yet light and summery! I even used the leftovers for a quesadilla and in scrambled eggs! You literally put everything into one pot, so it couldn’t be easier! Enjoy.

Black Bean and Chili Summer ChiliServes 4

Ingredients

◦   Salt/pepper

◦   olive oil

◦   1/2 onion, diced

◦   1 green bell pepper, diced

◦   1 clove garlic, minced

◦   1 28oz can whole stewed tomatoes (break them up into smaller pieces using your hands or potato masher)

◦   1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

◦   1 teaspoon chili powder

◦   1 teaspoon cumin

◦   2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

◦   1 avocado, diced

◦   ½ a lime juiced

◦   cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add green pepper and cook 2 more minutes. Add tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add corn and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, gently toss diced avocado and lime juice. Serve chili topped with avocado and cheese (For vegan version, use vegan cheese or leave it out).

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Sesame Ginger Quinoa Spring Rolls

In my never-ending quest to find fun, healthy, and delicious meals, I came across this gem. I adore quinoa but get bored with the “pile of quinoa on the side of my plate” deal. When I read this I thought, “hmmm this can’t be good, but I’ll try it anyway.” It turns out, I was more than wrong! These rolls are so delicious! I made some changes (of course) and turned it into my own. My husband and I ate it for supper the other night and his exact words were, “I could eat quinoa like this five nights a week”… SCORE! Hopefully our little man on the way will be as easily tricked into eating healthy foods… I digress.

There are definitely a few ingredients you may not have on hand like the rice paper, chili garlic sauce , and Mae Ploy Sweet Chili dipping sauce. But they’re not expensive and literally last for months in the fridge. I use them in stir-frys and sushi a ton. You can actually get them at World Market and I’m sure Whole Foods (although they might be twice the price). They’re just good to have on hand.

So, it is a bit time consuming but worth it, especially if you have a helper who cleans up after you. I actually made the quinoa in advance, so all I had to do was mix it up when I was ready to rock and roll (literally).

Start with mixing all of the ingredients into a bowl, then mix in the dressing.

Lay out a clean dish towel so you can blot your hands if you need to between rolls. Then, fill a large dish with sides (I used a pyrex pan) with hot tap water. Let one rice paper soak at a time until it gets soft. This just takes a few seconds. Then place the paper onto your cutting board and fill with about 1/3 cup of the mixture. Fold both sides over and then, starting at one end, tightly roll it up.

Once you roll them, slice them on a diagonal and arrange them on a plate. Serve with the dipping sauce. These could definitely be served as an appetizer, but we ate the whole plate for supper. Once you taste them you won’t blame us!

Sesame Ginger Quinoa Spring Rolls-serves 4

Adapted from Fit Pregnancy

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 1 cup chicken stock (or vegetable)
  • 3∕4  cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2  cups arugula
  • 1  large carrot, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
  • 1  green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1⁄4  cup olive oil
  • 2  tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2  tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1  garlic clove, minced
  • 1  tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2  teaspoons sesame oil
  • Juice of 1⁄2 lime
  • 1  teaspoon chili garlic sauce
  • 20  rice paper wrappers
  • Mae Ploy Sweet Chili dipping sauce

1. In a medium saucepan bring water, stock, salt, and pepper to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat and simmer covered until liquid has absorbed, about 20 minutes.

3. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork and combine in a large bowl with arugula, carrot and green pepper. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, lime juice and chili garlic sauce; stir into quinoa mixture.

4. Fill a shallow pan large enough to set the rice papers in with hot water and soak one rice paper until softened, about 15 seconds. Remove and place 1 ⁄3 cup of the quinoa filling down the center of the paper. Fold the sides over the mixture, then start to tightly roll one of the remaining sides over the top. Slice on the diagonal and continue with remaining papers and quinoa filling.

5. In a small bowl, pour Mae Ploy Sweet Chili dipping sauce.

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Chicken Bok Choy Stir-Fry

I am constantly testing new recipes for stir-fry. It’s one of those dishes that uses so many veggies and has endless variations. This week in my CSA bag, I got two lovely heads of bok choy. I figured a stir-fry was perfect for this. I really love the CSA produce. You can’t buy produce that fresh in the store. So I wanted to make a simple stir-fry that really let the bok choy shine. I just used chicken, bok choy, and red pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Heat a wok on medium heat. Saute garlic and ginger for about a minute. At this point, bring a large pot of water to boil so it’s ready for the soba noodles. Add the chicken to the wok and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the bok choy along with half the sauce. Cook about 5 minutes until the bok choy starts wilting down. In the meantime, boil soba noodles for 3 minutes. While the noodles cook, add the chicken, pepper, and remaining sauce to the wok. Once noodles are done, use your tongs to lift the noodles out of the water and place directly into the wok. Stir all the ingredients together and cook for about 2 more minutes so the flavors combine. Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

Chicken Bok Choy Stir-Fry

serves 4

Sauce:

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 Tbsp honey

1 Tbsp apricot marmalade

2 Tbsp sesame oil (divided)

1 tsp chili garlic sauce

Stir-Fry:

1 clove garlic, minced

1 inch piece ginger, skin removed and minced

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1 large head bok choy (or 2 small)

1 red bell pepper, large dice

1 bundle buckwheat soba noodles

Toasted sesame seeds

In a small bowl, whisk together ingredients for the sauce and set aside. Heat a wok on medium heat. Saute garlic and ginger for about a minute. At this point, bring a large pot of water to boil so it’s ready for the soba noodles. Add the chicken to the wok and cook until no longer pink in the middle, about 7 minutes. Remove the chicken from the pan and add the bok choy along with half the sauce. Cook about 5 minutes until the bok choy starts wilting down. In the meantime, boil soba noodles for 3 minutes. While the noodles cook, add the chicken, pepper, and remaining sauce to the wok. Once noodles are done, use your tongs to lift the noodles out of the water and place directly into the wok. Stir all the ingredients together and cook for about 2 more minutes so the flavors combine. Serve topped with toasted sesame seeds. Enjoy!

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Turkey Meatballs

Spaghetti and meatballs is probably the most comforting meal for me. Growing up with my Italian family, I had it (and still do) all the time. My dad and I would laugh because whenever we go to my (very Italian) aunt and uncle’s house, we gorge ourselves with fresh homemade pasta, bread, and cheese! It’s just so good that I can’t stop! I got to a point where I still wanted to eat spaghetti and meatballs but didn’t want to feel like I ate a ton of bricks every time! So I converted to either the smart taste pasta or rice pasta, which my tummy really appreciates!

These meatballs take me back to my childhood. My favorite smell in the world is that of garlic and onion simmering on the stove for the beginning steps of my mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce. You know exactly what I mean right?! I was lucky enough to have a mom who made EVERYTHING homemade. But even if you don’t do the homemade thing, there are a few things that are definitely worth the extra time. Spaghetti sauce and meatballs are two of those things. Anyway, I digress.

My mom used to make these meatballs with half turkey and half beef. I just use all turkey. They are SO moist that you have to be careful not to break them. These have all the flavor of homemade meatballs, yet so much less fat! The herbs and cheese really make these what they are. I even eat them without sauce as a snack! When my husband and I make a batch of these, we take them out of the oven and eat them right off a plate, as is. I know you’ll love them too!

Turkey Meatballs

2 pieces whole wheat bread

ice water

2 eggs

3 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 lb ground turkey

1/2 cup to 1 cup Bread crumbs

Olive Oil

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, soak bread in ice water. In the meantime, combine eggs, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley and parmesan in a large bowl. Whisk together until combined. Remove the bread from the ice water and squeeze out excess water. Add the bread to the egg mixture. Use a fork to mix and break up the crust pieces. Add the ground turkey and mix with your hands until the ingredients are incorporated into the meat. Avoid over mixing. If the mixture is too wet and doesn’t hold its shape, add breadcrumbs a 1/4 cup at a time. Heat an oven safe nonstick saucepan to medium high heat. Drizzle about 2 Tbsp oil into the pan. Then, use your hands to form meatballs, about 2 Tbsp each. Place meatballs into the saucepan and brown on all sides. Be careful when turning the meatballs as they’re very delicate. Once meatballs are browned on all sides, about 10 minutes total, place the pan into the oven to finish baking, about 7 minutes depending on the size.

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Vegetable Pad Thai

This is a delicious Pad Thai dish. It’s simple and SO quick to make. The step that takes the longest is soaking the noodles for 30 minutes. But other than that, it all comes together in a few minutes. It’s been so warm here, so I wanted something really light for supper. This was the winner! Thai food is one of those genres that I want to perfect. It’s the one food that’s usually not as good as when you buy it at a restaurant. But this one IS! I don’t like fish sauce, but you can definitely add that if you like it. A light refreshing summer supper! It hit the spot.

Vegetable Pad Thai-serves 4

8 oz dried flat rice noodles

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 scallions, white and light green parts sliced

1 garlic clove minced

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro

1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts

  • Soak noodles according to the package instructions. Drain. In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add eggs and cook, scraping the skillet with a rubber spatula, until eggs are cooked through. Transfer egg mixture to a plate. **If you want to add protein, like chicken or shrimp, add it in now and saute before adding the noodles.
  • Add noodles and soy sauce mixture; cook, tossing constantly with tongs, until the noodles are soft and coated with the sauce (about 1 minute). Add the egg mixture and toss with the sauce.
  • Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with herbs and peanuts.

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Chicken Couscous

I’ve been working on recipes that can make chicken more exciting to eat. I want to get the protein, but sometimes it can be so bland! This recipe is very unique. It has that warming element from the cinnamon and cumin and the spicy aftertaste of the cayenne pepper. It almost tastes like something I would make in the Fall…. except it’s 80 degrees out. But it was still good!

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute on medium heat until chicken is browned on all sides. Those brown bits will all come up when you deglaze the pan (add the chicken stock) and they will add so much flavor!Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Add scallions, zucchini, and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Mix the cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper and saute with the vegetables for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, and craisins; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the couscous to the liquid, cover and turn off heat. Let rest 5 minutes; fluff couscous with a fork. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, garnished with almonds and parsley.

Chicken Couscousserves 4

Adapted from Fitness Magazine 

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup craisins

3/4 cup whole wheat couscous

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Warm the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Add scallions, zucchini, and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Mix the cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper and saute with the vegetables for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, and craisins; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the couscous to the liquid, cover and turn off heat. Let rest 5 minutes; fluff couscous with a fork. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, garnished with almonds and parsley.

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