Orange Moroccan Couscous: Secret Recipe Club

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A little break from holiday food for this month’s Improv Challenge.  Because we all need to fuel ourselves while we prep those turkeys and shop for everyone’s gifts.

We have all gotten those life lessons from our moms, the ones that we have heard multiple times and replied to with “Yesssss mommmmm” with a groan. One of my mom’s personal favorite stories has the moral not to judge how clothes on the hanger look before trying them on. “Just try the dress on. It could look completely different on!”. I have heard a tale of an ugly bridesmaid dress on the hanger that magically transformed into a gorgeous gown in the dressing room many times.

My life lesson for you all is that you shouldn’t judge a dish before you eat it. Recently I had a surplus of oranges in my fridge that needed to be eaten. I enjoyed eating them plain as a snack, but it was getting a little old. Luckily this month’s Improv Challenge was to make a dish using oranges and cardamon.  I saw this dish while procrastinating doing my work and thought “Okay, I guess I will make this just to use up some oranges”. I wasn’t very excited, but I was oh so wrong.

I loved this dish and have eaten it at least five times in the past two weeks. I am considering buying a another huge bag of oranges just to be able to make this more. This is just the right combination of warm spices, juicy oranges, sweet currants, and yummy chickpeas. This is a great side dish for pork chops or chicken, or it is great as a main dish if you just eat a big bowl of it.

So, this is for you mom: don’t judge how a recipe looks until you’ve tried the dish. You’ll never know what it tastes like until you eat it.

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ORANGE MOROCCAN COUSCOUS
Adapted from A Farm Girl Dabbles

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon saffron
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 red onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup golden raisins
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups chickpeas
1 1/2 teaspoons orange zest
1 1/2 cups dried couscous
4 clementines, torn into slices
Fresh mint, optional
Toasted almonds, for topping

DIRECTIONS

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Stir together cumin, cloves, cardamon, cinnamon, and saffron. Toast in pan until fragrant 1-3 minutes (be careful not to burn). Add oil, onion, and garlic. Cook until tender, about 3-5 minutes.

Stir in raisins, salt, chickpeas, and orange zest. Stir in couscous and 1 1/2 cups water. Cover pan with lid and let cook until water is absorbed. Fluff with a fork. Mix in clementine slices, almonds, and mint.

Serves 3-4.

Thanks to Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker for hosting!  Make sure to check out what everyone else made this month!

Orange Cream Pie

I love fall desserts.  Hearty cheesecakes, cinnamon apple crisps, and pies as far as the eyes can see is my dream of autumn.

One fall flavor I don’t love: pumpkin.  I wish I did love pumpkin.  Everywhere I see recipe after recipe featuring pumpkin that I have to pass up.  Pumpkin muffins, pie, cake, cheesecake, ice cream, cupcakes, frappacinos…everyone always raves about them, and I feel like I am missing out.

This year I plan to try pumpkin again to see if maybe I was wrong all these years and unconsciously love the orange gourd.  But until then, I still want an orange dessert for October & Halloween.  Enter oranges.  I made this dessert for half-Christmas as my first attempt at any type of pie.  I was very apprehensive making the cream part of the pie, and as I was cooking I was certain that just a few ingredients were not going to come together and thicken.  But lo and behold, they did, and it was wonderful!

This pie tastes light and fresh.  The orange flavor isn’t in your face but subtle and delectable.  The graham cracker crust is perhaps my favorite part- it’s sweet and buttery and crumbles in your mouth.  With a hint of cinnamon, it really is fall-ish.

Happy Halloween everyone!

ORANGE CREAM PIE
Slightly Adapted from Joy the Baker

INGREDIENTS

For the Graham Cracker Crust:
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 tablespoons butter, melted
For the Orange Custard:
3 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, sifted
1 cup granulated sugar
1-2 tablespoons orange zest
1/2 cup fresh orange juice
3 egg yolks
1 cup milk
1/4 cup butter

1 cup sour cream

DIRECTIONS
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
Preheat oven to 350°F.

In a large bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, sugar, cinnamon, and melted butter.  Stir until combined.  Press evenly into a 9 inch pie plate.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Cool completely.

For the Orange Custard:
In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine cornstarch, sugar, orange zest, orange juice, egg yolks, and milk. Whisking constantly, cook until thickened.

Remove from heat and whisk in butter until incorporated.  Cool for 15 minutes.  Fold in sour cream.  Pour mixture into cooled graham cracker crust.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill in refrigerator for at least 3 hours.

Serve with whipped cream.

Orange Cranberry Cookies

What- you don’t have a constant supply of frozen cranberries in your freezer or fridge?

Morale of this recipe: you should.

I love cranberries all year round, but there is something very reminiscent of this time of year when the seasons begin to change.  The summer produce of corn and berries start to be replaced with hearty vegetables like squash and pumpkins and winter fruit like plums and apples.  And of course cranberries, one of the season’s best offerings.

These cookies are a nice, autumn variation.  They are sweet and tart.  I have made these with both cranberries and craisins.  Both types are good, but the one with the craisins is sweeter like a typical cookies and the one with cranberries…well tastes more like cranberries. Also I think some white chocolate chips would make these cookies extremely decadent.  Or add some nuts.  No wrong choices here.

ORANGE CRANBERRY COOKIES
Slightly Adapted from All Recipes
INGREDIENTS

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 teaspoons orange zest
2 1/2 teaspoons fresh orange juice
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups chopped cranberries/dried cranberries

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375°F.

In a large bowl, ream butter, sugar, and brown sugar together.  Add egg and combine until incorporated.  Mix in orange zest and orange juice.  Add flour, baking soda, and salt.  Stir until just incorporated.  Fold in cranberries. Drop by the tablespoonfuls onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.

Bake 13-16 minutes until edges begin to brown.  Cool for 3 minutes on cookie sheet then transfer to wire rack to finish cooling.

Makes 48 cookies.  Visit the recipe source if you’re interested in adding a glaze.