His and Hers Dinner

Post gong sleep is nothing shy of GLORIOUS!  Although I had an alarm set this morning, I  reset it and snoozed an incredible 10 straight hours.  I considered calling my trainer to cancel in order to stay in bed, but when I realized I had to get out of bed to make the call, it seemed pointless.

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As I walked out the door, the sky started spitting huge globs of snow.  It looked like someone was splatter painting across our front yard.  The snow stopped by the  time I got to the gym, where I got on a serious sweat with some heavy weights.  After the gym, I did a Costco and grocery store run.  I packed a few post workout snacks to fuel  my shopping.  This dark chocolate almond/honey roasted peanut mix tasted like a peanut butter cup!

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The BOY did  most of the cooking last week, so I decided to get involved with some new recipes this week.  When I got back from the grocery store, I changed right into my PJ’s for the rest of the day.  Man, I LOVE Mondays!

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For dinner tonight. I decided to make pulled chicken with cider.  I was pleasantly surprised to find StrongBow at Mariano’s.  I discovered this cider 13 years ago when my friends and I did a mini mester in London.  Being young and inexperienced with quality beer, we hated the warm Guinness so spent most of our time drinking StrongBow and Snake Bites.

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Ahh!  The memories!  So of course, I chose StrongBow to make dinner and drank some with my lunch : )

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The BOY has been asking for Crabby Mac for a few weeks now, typically on week nights when I work late.  So I told him that since I had the time, I would make him a super creamy Mac and Cheese for dinner.

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My chicken turned out wonderful and I ate it atop a salad.

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With plenty of leftovers for lunch this week.

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Check out our his and hers dinners : )

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Meal Planning 12/07/14

Monday: Crabby Classic Mac and Cheese (for him) and Apple Cider Pulled Chicken (for her)

Tuesday: Honey Sesame Chicken (make ahead crockpot version)

Wednesday: Salmon and Veggies

Thursday: BBQ Pork and Veggies

 

Slow Cooker Apple Cider Pulled Chicken

From Cupcakes and Kale Chips

Ingredients

  • 1 apple, peeled and sliced
  • 1 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 t salt
  • 1 t pepper
  • 1 t paprika
  • 2 t dry mustard
  • one 12 oz bottle hard cider

Directions

Place the onion and apple slices on the bottom of your slow cooker.  Lay the chicken breasts on top of the apples and onions, and sprinkle on the salt, pepper, paprika, and mustard. Pour the hard cider over the top.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and shreds easily.   Remove the chicken from the slow cooker, shred with two forks, and return to the slow cooker.  Using tongs, toss together the chicken, apples, onions and cooking liquid until evenly distributed.

Use to make sandwiches, top salads, or top potatoes.  Anything is possible!

‘This is {Mmm} Delicious!’

Now that finals are over and graduation behind us, the BOY has been coming to the grocery store with me.  For the most part, I like this.  He picks out meats to grill for dinner on my late work nights and it’s nice to have the company.  On the contrary, I always spend more money when he tags along and he has lots of opinions about food (in general).  Last week at the store, he decided he wanted Crabby Mac for dinner.  I explained that that wasn’t going to happen with last week’s crazy work schedule, so when we were back at the grocery store yesterday, I suggested mac n cheese for dinner tonight.

 

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Despite being a holiday, this morning began earlier than my usual Monday.  After an active weekend (10 Miler recap to come…I’m just waiting on some pics from my running buddy), I scheduled a 7am workout with my trainer.  I couldn’t keep my regularly scheduled appointment because I had an intense lower body massage to work on some hamstring adhesions.

 

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My trainer didn’t take it easy on me, but I did ask if we could focus on my chest, arms, and back instead of my legs.  My legs got their own work up during the massage when I just about jumped off the table as she found my hot spot (left ITB) and then another one (right proximal hamstring).  I was sore, but the adhesion felt looser, so it was worth it when I emerged back into the sun light for a Starbucks Green Tea Latte.

 

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We spent lunch with friends who smoked some incredible ribs.  When the BOY and I arrived home at 4:30pm, I was ready to crash on the couch with some TV and email.  Which is exactly what I did for 2 hours before getting started on dinner.  I found this recipe online and decided to try it because it looked simple and quick.

 

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I adapted it slightly to add in crab meat.  The BOY was excited to dig into this cheesy dinner and somewhere in between bites, he looked over at me and said ‘Mmm…This is…Mmm…Delicious…Mmm!’  Count this recipe as ‘BOY APPROVED’!

 

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I still have some emails to respond to and research to do before tomorrow, but I’m going to enjoy just a little more down time first.

Hope you had a nice long weekend!  What did you do?

 

 

How did you spend your Memorial Day Monday?

 

 

Meal Planning 5/26/14

Monday: Easy Baked Mac N Cheese

 

Tuesday: Pork Chops and Mushrooms

 

Wednesday: ??? (I’m going to aerial yoga with my mom…will figure out dinner later)

 

Thursday: Baked Potato Bar (it was a huge success last week!)

 

 

Classic Baked Mac N Cheese

From Southern Living October 2009

 

Ingredients

2 cups milk

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 (10-oz.) block extra sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 (16-oz.) package elbow macaroni, cooked

1 package of imitation crab meat (optional if you want crabby mac)

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 400°. Microwave milk at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes. Melt butter in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium-low heat; whisk in flour until smooth. Cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute.

Gradually whisk in warm milk, and cook, whisking constantly, 5 minutes or until thickened.

Whisk in salt, black pepper, 1 cup shredded cheese, until smooth; stir in pasta and crab meat (if desired). Spoon pasta mixture into a lightly greased 2-qt. baking dish; top with remaining cheese. Bake at 400° for 20 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

My Crockpot is my Sous Chef

Well, actually it is my chef!  And Sunday it worked over time to make dinner and then lunch for the week.  Yes that’s two recipes in one day and I know it sounds extreme, but it made my life this week REALLY easy!

 

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This recipe is another Pinterest find, and one we were all drooling over Sunday morning.

 

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It originally called for red meat, but I subbed in turkey meat and left out the mozzarella.

 

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I even used whole wheat noodles, and the BOY couldn’t tell the difference.

 

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Unfortunately, none of my pictures even do this recipe an ounce of justice because it is definitely something you should make this week!  And by you…I mean your ‘sous chef’.

 

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One warning though…you will have to do a little work because the recipe calls for cooked noodles.  I was surprised to see this last minute, but was easily able to whip up a box of pasta to add to the pot.  And, if you are short on time, you can cook everything on high for 3-4 hours.  This recipe makes tons, so there is more than enough for lunch and even some to share with friends.  Enjoy!!

 

What crockpot recipe have you pinned and not yet made?

 

 

Turkey Crockpot Ravioli Casserole

Adapted from Becoming Betty

 

Ingredients

1- 1 1/2 lbs lean turkey meat (I used 93/7)

1 onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, minced

1 (15 oz) can tomato sauce

1 can stewed tomatoes

1 tsp oregano

1 tsp Italian seasoning (I used basil)

salt/pepper to taste

12 oz fresh spinach

12 oz (I box) whole wheat bow tie pasta, cooked

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

Mozzarella cheese (optional)

 

Directions

Brown ground turkey with onion and garlic. Put in crockpot and add sauce, tomatoes and seasonings.

Cook for 6-7 hours on low or 3-4 hours on high. Add spinach, pasta, and parmesan cheese during the last 30 minutes of cooking and turn crockpot to high.

If using, add the last 1/2 cup of mozzarella to melt on the top.

Serve immediately or store in fridge in airtight container.

Dinner Party

So the BOY and I didn’t actually host a dinner party (although that sounds like fun!), but we did have our close friends over for dinner tonight.  We love hosting our friends, especially in the summer time when we fire up the grill!  When the weather is too cold for grilling, I struggle with what to make for dinner.   Since my crockpot has been so helpful this winter, I thought maybe it should be in charge of Saturday night dinner.

 

The Menu

Crockpot Pulled Pork

Coleslaw

Mac n’ Cheese

Green Beans

Dessert Bars

 

The first challenge of dinner was finding pork shoulder or butt for the pulled pork.  Thankfully, the BOY is a meat consumer and knew exactly where to go.  A few minutes away, we found a little country store that sold a variety of meats. 

 

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The pork was precooked so we had to adjust our cooking time/plan a bit.

 

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There are so many pulled pork recipes that it is tough to know where to begin.  I ended up going with a variation of the Tex-Mex Pulled Pork from The Big book of Slow Cooker Recipes.

 

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I made a few changes to the sauce and because the pork was smoked and precooked, it added even more flavor!  The toughest part of making dinner (besides waiting to see if our pork turned out) was trying to get a picture while the BOY quickly filled his plate.

 

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Even a good picture can’t convey how unbelievably juicy and flavorful the pulled pork turned out!  You’ll definitely have to dig out your crockpot and try it for yourself.  We made sandwiches with toasted Hawaiian bread and coleslaw.  Because the quantity is so big, this would be perfect for a casual dinner party, and we sent our friends home with leftovers.  Our friend’s brought a delicious appetizer of crab dip on a tortilla topped with avocado…it was so yummy that I will have to find you the recipe.  For sides, we had streamed green beans and baked Mac n’ Cheese.

 

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The eating happened way too quickly to get more pictures of anything other than licked clean plates (certainly not literally).  We retreated back to the family room for the 15th basketball game of the night (there were some serious nail biters) and dessert.

 

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Wait until you see what I made for dessert!!!  I made two awesome new dessert recipes coming your way later today!

 

What do you like to serve at dinner parties?

 

Crockpot Pulled Pork

Adapted from The Big Book of Slow Cooker Recipes

 

Ingredients

3 pounds pork shoulder or butt

1 sweet onion, diced

8 ounces (or half a 15 ounce can) tomato sauce

1 1/2 – 2 cups BBQ sauce (I used Sweet Baby Rays)

1 4.5 ounce can of diced green chile peppers

1 tbsp chili powder

2 heaping tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dried oregano

 

Directions

Coat a large crockpot with cooking spray.  In crockpot mix together tomato sauce, bbq sauce, onion, green chile peppers, chili powder, cumin, and oregano.

Place pork in slow cooker and spread sauce to coat pork.

Cook on low, according to crockpot directions, 8-10 hours.

About 1 hour before done, shred pork with two forks and stir well into sauce.  Cook remaining hour on low.

 

Note: The recipe above is written for uncooked pork.  Since our pork was cooked, we cooked it on low 10 hours for 6 hours.  We had to cheat and check often to decide when to shred.  You know your crockpot, so choose the settings that you think will work best!

 

 

Mac n’ Cheese

From the Weight Watchers Pure Comfort Cookbook

Ingredients

1/2 pound whole wheat macaroni, about 2 cups

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups fat free milk

2 cups shredded fat free cheddar cheese (I used light cheese with 2% milk)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes, drained (ie Rotel)

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray baking dish with nonstick spray. 

2. Cook macaroni according to directions, omitting salt if desired.

3. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Increase the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the cheeses melt, about 1 minute.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the macaroni and tomatoes without their juice. Pour mixture into the baking dish. Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter in small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are evenly coated, about 1 minute. Sprinkle over the dish and bake until bubbly and the top is golden, about 25-30 minutes.

Crabby Mac

Hey guys! Thanks so much for all of the suggestions and ideas about meal planning!  I wasn’t even sure if I was going to publish that post and I am super happy that I did.

 

Over an amazing meal last weekend which included potatoes au gratin, the BOY and I began discussing Mac n Cheese.  Specifically how much we love the baked version.  Is there anyone who doesn’t?  My mom makes a mean Mac n Cheese and it comes from this Weight Watchers cookbook.

 

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My Mom has made it numerous times, so I figured it was time that I gave it a try.  What makes this dish so amazing is that it doesn’t skimp on the real ingredients (including butter).  I haven’t been eating much dairy at all lately, but for special occasions and things that won’t work without it (ie ice cream and mac n cheese), I can make an exception!

 

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You just have to eat them in moderation, which is REAL tough with this dish.  Consider yourself warned!!!  The BOY and I picked up the ingredients this weekend (as part of our kinda sorta starting to meal plan outing) along with some crab (extra protein) to add in.

 

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I have never eaten crab mac n cheese, but I do love lobster mac and one time I ate crawfish mac, and growing up I used to throw tuna in my mac, so why not???

 

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The recipe calls for elbow noodles, but we went with shells.  There is just something about extra layers of cheese hiding inside these tiny noodles that just screams delicious!  And don’t be shy with the whole wheat kind…you don’t even notice the difference.

 

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I stirred in the crab with the noodles before throwing everything into the oven.  I was a little nervous when I saw how watery the mixture looked, but I held out hope…

 

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After 30 minutes in the oven, dinner was ready, and it looked and smelled incredible!

 

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There’s not much more to say about this than YUM-ME!

 

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Best mac n cheese EVER!

 

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I can’t tell you how amazing our dinner was… you’ll just have to make it and try for yourself!

 

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Leftover Alert:

The BOY actually heated up leftovers for dinner tonight and is still raving about it! He has added this to the top of the make again list.  For a BOY who’s not into leftovers, that’s saying something!

 

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 Do you like Mac n Cheese?

What is your favorite M & C recipe?

 

 

Crabby Mac (and Cheese)

Based on a recipe from the Weight Watchers Pure Comfort Cookbook

 

Ingredients

1/2 pound whole wheat macaroni, about 2 cups

3 Tbsp unsalted butter

1 small onion, chopped

2 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 cups fat free milk

2 cups shredded fat free cheddar cheese (I used light cheese with 2% milk)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 freshly ground black pepper

1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes in their juice (I left this out since the BOY doesn’t like tomatoes but my Mom uses Rotel)

1 8 oz package of imitation crab meat, broken into small pieces

1/4 cup plain dried bread crumbs

 

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray 8 (1 cup) baking dishes with nonstick spray; place on baking sheet.  I used one big dish since I don’t have little ones, but little ones might be better for portion control!

2. Cook macaroni according to directions, omitting salt if desired.

3. Melt 2 Tbsp butter in a large sauce pan over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, about 1 minute. Gradually whisk in the milk. Increase the heat and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, 3-4 minutes. Whisk in the cheddar cheese, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Cook, whisking occasionally, until the cheeses melt, about 1 minute.

4. Remove the saucepan from the heat. Stir in the macaroni, crab meat, and tomatoes with their juice. Divide the mixture among the baking dishes (or pour into one dish). Melt the remaining 1 Tbsp butter in small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add bread crumbs and cook, stirring constantly, until they are evenly coated, about 1 minute. Sprinkle over the dishes and bake until bubbly and the tops are golden, about 25-30 minutes.

Pasta for Dinner

You know what this means…

 

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Tomorrow is race day!

 

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Rewind to Thursday…I was able to get in another run in my new shoes before work.

 

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They are super comfortable, and I am excited to take them out for the 10 miler tomorrow.  I am just hoping that it doesn’t rain!

 

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After my run, I packed up the Chocolate Covered Cake Batter Popcorn to bring to work.  It was WAY TOO addicting to keep around the house!  One thing that I learned is that you have to wait for everything to cool before packaging or you will end up with soggy popcorn.  It still tastes great, but you lose that popcorn crunch!

 

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The popcorn was delicious, but I needed something healthier to fuel my race tomorrow.

I was craving my typical pre-race pasta with olive oil.  I picked up some veggies at Costco on my way home from work, and the BOY threw them on the grill with some shrimp.

 

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He used our new Herbs de Provence olive oil on the veggies which was fantastic!

 

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I tossed in some grilled shrimp…

 

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And whole wheat pasta

 

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I drizzled on a little olive oil and a sprinkle of aged parmesan cheese.

 

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Dinner was incredible!  Even the BOY was raving about how good it was (he had the same thing, but with regular pasta).  He did such an amazing job seasoning the veggies and the Herbs de Provence is our new favorite olive oil.  If pasta always tasted this good, I would make it more often!

 

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Now that I am loaded up with carbs, I am off to bed early.  The race starts at 7AM, so we will be up before the sun!

Wish me luck!  Not that I need it…tomorrow’s race is ALL ABOUT FUN!

 

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Dinner for Two

Every Monday as the BOY heads off to school, he asks me what I’m going to do with my day off.  Typically the answer is ‘Monday Things’ which means a workout, trip to the grocery store (or two), laundry, and in today’s case, finally organizing the pantry.  He also knows that Mondays involve some quality time in the kitchen which usually results in a homemade dinner for him.  I tend to save some of the more time consuming recipes for Monday when I have the time to shop in the morning and then prepare dinner while I catch up on trashy TV (ie today I got to watch Kim and Kris’s relationship dissolve) and fold laundry.  Tonight’s menu…lasagna and tagine.  An odd combination, I know.  While I don’t make a habit of cooking two separate dinners, I knew that the BOY really wanted a lasagna, and I have never liked lasagna.  Instead, I went with another recipe that I found in Vegetarian Times that looked good and would provide plenty of leftovers for the week.  They began very similar…oil, onions, and garlic, but went two very different directions.

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The first time that I made lasagna, I went looking for a high quality recipe to WOW the BOY and show off my culinary talents. While living in the south, I learned that they KNOW how to do comfort food, so Southern Living was the obvious place to look for your classic lasagna recipe.

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The recipe calls on simple ingredients to make a complex Italian style meal.  The only negative is that it takes a little bit of time (over an hour) between making the meat sauce and baking the lasagna.

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The results are worth the wait, and if you don’t believe me, you can trust the BOY who was raving about his dinner tonight and agreed that this definitely makes the list of his favorites.

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Because he is the only one who eats the lasagna, I make half the recipe and use a smaller dish.  This helps cut down the time which is a bonus.  My other option is that I randomly give out lasagna to my family and friends, but I didn’t have any plans this week, so I opted for the half recipe, which works out great.

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Classic Lasagna

Southern Living, May 2006

Cook time: 2 hours, Makes 8-10 servings

 

Ingredients

  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 (14.5-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano diced tomatoes
  • 2 (6-oz.) cans tomato paste
  • 1 (8-oz.) can basil, garlic, and oregano tomato sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper, divided
  • 12 lasagna noodles, uncooked
  • 8 cups boiling water
  • 1 (16-oz.) container ricotta cheese
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 (6-oz.) packages part-skim mozzarella cheese slices
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

1. Sauté onion in 1 Tbsp. hot oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat 5 minutes or until tender. Add garlic, and sauté 1 minute. Add beef, and cook, stirring occasionally, 10 minutes or until beef crumbles and is no longer pink. Drain beef mixture, and return to skillet. Stir in diced tomatoes, next 4 ingredients, 1 tsp. salt, and 1/2 tsp. pepper; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes. Remove and discard bay leaf; set meat sauce aside.

2. Place lasagna noodles in a 13- x- 9-inch pan. Carefully pour 8 cups boiling water and remaining 1 Tbsp. olive oil over noodles. Let stand 15 minutes.

3. Stir together ricotta cheese, eggs, Parmesan cheese, remaining 1/4 tsp. salt, and remaining 1/4 tsp. pepper until blended.

4. Spoon half of the meat sauce mixture in a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish. Shake excess water from noodles, and arrange 6 noodles over meat sauce; top with half of ricotta mixture and 1 package mozzarella cheese slices. Repeat layers once.

5. Bake, covered, at 350° for 55 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 to 15 more minutes or until bubbly. Let lasagna stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish, if desired.

 

 

I’m sure the BOY was getting a little tired of the meatless meals and was thrilled to have a tummy full of meat and cheese when he sat down to do his homework tonight.  For my dinner, I made a tagine that I had cut out from December’s Veg Times.

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This recipe has fewer ingredients and is much sweeter than other tagine’s that I have made. I followed the directions, but after adding the lemon juice and dates, I let the stew simmer on low heat for ~45 minutes (while the lasagna finished up).  This made my chickpeas softer and really allowed the flavors to blend.  If you are looking to decrease the sweetness, then add fewer dates.  One online reader suggested adding kale, which I will definitely do next time.

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I served my dinner over whole grain couscous with some green veggies on the side.

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This recipe comes together easily in one pot, and it was much more filling than I expected it to be. Use it as your main dish or a side with pork chops.  It will make great leftovers throughout the week.

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Chickpea and Date Tagine

Vegetarian Times, December 2011

Serves 8

 

Ingredient List

  • 1 Tbs. olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (2 cups)
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced (4 tsp.)
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 15-oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas or 2 15-oz. cans chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup whole-wheat couscous
  • 1 cup pitted dates, halved
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro

Directions

1. Heat oil in saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, and cook 10 minutes, or until starting to brown, stirring often. Stir in garlic, cumin, coriander, ginger, and cinnamon, and sauté 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, chickpeas, and 1/4 cup water; simmer 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, toast couscous in small saucepan over medium heat 5 minutes, or until fragrant. Add 13/4 cups water, and bring to a boil. Remove from heat, cover, and let stand 5 minutes.
3. Stir dates and lemon juice into tagine, and season with salt and pepper, if desired. Serve over couscous, sprinkled with cilantro.

Nutritional Information

Per serving (1 cup stew and 1/2 cup couscous): Calories: 400, Protein: 15g, Total fat: 5g, Saturated fat: <1g, Carbs: 81g, Cholesterol: mg, Sodium: 378mg, Fiber: 15g, Sugars: 29g