10 Minute Lunch #6: Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowls

Eeeek! It’s been a long time since I’ve shared a 10 Minute Lunch, eh? Whoops. I’ve been eating a lot of leftovers for lunch on days I work from home, or have been snacking my way through the day, which is not a good idea because then I’m hungry for dinner at 3 pm. Ahem. #seniorcitizeninthemaking

Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowl | The Pajama Chef

But not anymore! I’m bound and determined to let this month be the month I get my lunch act together and actually eat a real meal for lunch everyday–not just on days that I’m on campus at work. Starting with this little number! :) It’s totally simple, flavorful, and fast–perfect for the days that you have to deal with crazy computer drama with no time to cook. As I said yesterday, my MacBook has been acting up–not charging, randomly shutting off, resetting the date, etc.  So now it’s back at the shop for the second time in a week, and thanks to my dramatic Facebook post, I had not one, but three offers of a loaner laptop until mine can be fixed or replaced. I have some generous friends, what can I say? :)

But laptop woes [and lunch breaks spent writing blog posts] aside, these couscous bowls are incredible! Quinoa is so popular and rice is so common that couscous [at least in my house] becomes the forgotten grain. You can bet I won’t forget it anymore! It is super fast to prepare and is so light and filling. Once you mix up the couscous, veggies, and chicken, just add a fresh Italian dressing to your bowl for instant flavor–minus the work of measuring and dicing herbs. Perfect! I can totally see so many variations–instead of chicken, beans! Instead of frozen veggies, a chopped tomato! Instead of Italian dressing, Caesar! I could keep going, but I gotta get back to w-o-r-k. What would you add? Enjoy!

Italian Chicken & Veggie Couscous Bowls
click to print

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup couscous
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3 mini sweet peppers, finely diced [or ~ 1 cup diced bell peppers]
  • ~ 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • ~ 1 cup frozen vegetables
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • garlic powder [could substitute 1 clove minced garlic]
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • large handful arugula, chopped [other light salad greens like spinach would also work]
  • Italian dressing–we are obsessed with this recipe from Macaroni and Cheesecake

Directions:

In a small pot, bring water and butter to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in couscous, and cover. Let sit for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the chicken and vegetables.

Heat olive oil in a small saute pan on the stove over medium-high heat. Add peppers, chicken, and frozen vegetables, then season with pepper and garlic to taste. Saute for a minute, then cover and let cook for 2-3 minutes to heat everything up.

Next, add green onions to the chicken and vegetable mixture.

To serve, divide the couscous between two bowls, then top each with half of the chicken and vegetable mixture. Stir in green onions and arugula, then top with a drizzle of Italian dressing to taste. Enjoy!

Time: 10 minutes.

Yield: 2 delicious lunches!

Notes: To take this lunch to go, I’d recommend keeping the green onions and arugula separate and stirring them in immediately before eating and after heating it up. The dressing would be fine mixed in already, though!

Winner + Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken with Israeli Couscous

What a winner of a chicken dinner! This has been one of my most favorite chicken creations as of late.

I first saw the recipe that is the amazingness of Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken on Eat Live Run and then saw Iowa Girl Eats make it, and I knew I had to try it. With the rave reviews floating around the internet, I knew I wouldn’t be steered wrong. It took me a couple months to get around to trying it, but now I am hooked… hooked I say! I’m in love with the easy prep, the tangy lemon melding with the molasses-y brown sugar which caramelizes all over each piece of juicy chicken. Amazing! Served atop tender Israeli Couscous, this is one winner of a chicken dinner. I can’t wait to make it again.

Speaking of winners, I am happy to announce the winner of the $35 gift certificate to CSN stores!

I used Random.org to select the winner….

Congratulations! I wish I could give all of you a prize, but you’ll just have to keep reading because I’m sure there will be more fun giveaways in the future. :) But as for now… enjoy this winner of a chicken dinner!

Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken [from Eat Live Run and Iowa Girl Eats]

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound chicken tenders [original called for chicken breasts, pounded thin]
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar [I used dark brown sugar…but either would be fine.]
  • 2 cups cooked Israeli couscous

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Stir together flour and paprika in a shallow dish. Pat chicken tenders dry with a paper towel, then place in flour mixture and toss to coat.

In a large skillet, heat a little oil over medium high heat. When hot, brown each piece of chicken on both sides, then remove and place in a large baking dish.

Pour the lemon juice into the hot skillet and stir to get up all those leftover chicken bits. Pour juice on the chicken, then top with brown sugar and lemon zest. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.

Serve with Israeli couscous cooked in chicken broth if you like. :)

Click here for the printable version: Lemon Brown Sugar Chicken

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Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad

couscous saladSo, last Monday, January 10th, I began training for my second marathon. I’m running the Cleveland Marathon on May 15th [eeeek!]. I ran my first marathon, the Cincinnati Flying Pig, in May 2008 with a time of 4:07:27. While it was a great experience, I definitely have room for improvement. Over winter break, I worked hard on putting together a training schedule that would work with my schedule and provide me with challenging workouts so that I can run my best in May. I also made a few nutritional goals to help power me through to a great race.

  1. Cut out soda during my training week. My training schedule has me working out Monday-Saturday. I love Diet Coke and though I am not a huge soda drinker [usually I will drink a can 4-5 times/week], I know it’s not good for me. It’s easy for me to replace water with soda and to ensure that I drink enough water everyday, I decided to cut out soda during the week. After my long run on Saturdays [and on Sundays] I can drink some soda–provided I get enough water first! I used to do this during cross country and track seasons in high school and college and found it helpful.
  2. Eat protein at lunch. It can be really easy for me to just eat a lot of carbs for lunch [pasta or a bagel, anyone?] or to just eat a lot of side dishes. Consequently, I have resolved to make one special lunch entree each week that contains protein. So far, I have enjoyed new varieties of tuna and egg salad that I hope to post soon!
  3. Eat more veggies. I love eating fruit and I like eating veggies. But it’s easy for me to eat a lot of fruit because it’s sweet–I’ll even eat it as dessert sometimes. Veggies though? Not so much. You can only eat so many raw carrots. So I’ve decided to make our Mondays meatless! Yes, I know I’m jumping on the meatless Monday bandwagon pretty late, but eating a meatless meal one day per week is a) not that hard; b) forcing me to be a bit more creative; and c) pretty tasty. Here’s the latest!

bowl of couscousThis Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad is a great main dish for a lighter weeknight meal or a quick side dish that is nice enough for company. I love how bright and flavorful it turned out. The dressing definitely makes the salad go from bland to a-m-azing! Although I used broccoli and a pepper/onion mix, any vegetables could really be used, so pick and choose amongst your favorites. Tofu is a suggested addition to this salad and really does make it very filling; even my meat-lover of a husband agreed with that! Enjoy!

Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad [a Pajama Chef original]

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup whole wheat coucous
  • 2 cups broccoli, chopped
  • 10 ounces frozen chopped peppers and onions [or fresh–all the peppers at the store looked blah so I used frozen]
  • 1 pound tofu, optional
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame seeds
  • 1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes

Directions:

If desired, begin by cooking the tofu. I like using Emily’s method at the Daily Garnish. Then, steam the broccoli and peppers/onion mix over medium heat for about 3-5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Finally, prepare couscous according to package directions [usually combine 2 cups of water and  1 cup of couscous; bring it all to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes or until water absorbs]. Place all ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine.

Meanwhile, prepare the dressing. Stir together olive oil, honey, and balsamic vinegar in a small bowl. Add the garlic, sesame, and chili flakes and whisk until emulsified.

Pour dressing into couscous and veggies in a slow steady stream, and then toss once more until dressing is fully incorporated. Serve warm.

Click here for the printable version: Balsamic-Honey Couscous Salad

Question of the Day: What goals are you shooting for this year?