Moroccan Spiced Chicken with Couscous

Hello everyone– This recipe started with a cookbook from the library shelves and a big bundle of cilantro.  I picked up Half Baked Harvest from the new book shelves at the library.  It’s beautiful.  I started to bookmark things I’d like to make and it’s pretty much every recipe!

And then my dear buddy Janet showed up at my door with a huge bouquet of cilantro from her garden and this recipe from the book came to mind.

It’s spicy and so flavorful.  Easy–since Larry is the one who cooks it on the grill!  And the couscous is moist and crunchy and a little sweet from the apricots.  I think you’d really like it…


1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. powdered ginger
2 tab. cilantro, chopped fine
1 tsp. smoked paprika
2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. chili powder
2 tab. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon

14 oz. can chicken broth
1 cup couscous
2 tab. olive oil
1/2 cup dried apricots, chopped to bits
1/2 cup whole almonds, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped fine
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

cilantro sprigs
lemon slices

In a zip loc bag, combine the garlic, ginger, 2 tab. chopped cilantro, smoked paprika, cumin, chili powder, sugar, salt, pepper, olive oil, lemon zest and juice.  Squish the bag until all the ingredients are thoroughly combined.

Cut the chicken to skewer size pieces and add to the bag.  Zip it and squish the bag until the chicken is all coated.  Let the chicken marinate in the spices at least an hour up to 10 hours.

Thread the chicken onto 2 or 3 skewers.

Just before you grill the chicken, make the couscous.  Bring the chicken broth to a boil in a sauce pan.  Remove from the heat and add the couscous.  Let it sit for 5 minutes.  Fluff the couscous with a fork and stir in the oil, apricots, almonds and 1/4 cup cilantro.  Cover to keep warm while you grill the chicken.

Grill the chicken 10 to 12 minutes until the outside is charred and the chicken is cooked through.

On a pretty platter spread the couscous and top with the chicken skewers.  Garnish with cilantro pirgs and lemon slices.

Apricot Almond Upside Down Cake


Hello there– Last week at Ani’s house, we slumped onto the couch after dinner and turned on “The Great British Bake Off.”  All those British accents made their cakes seem so much more fancy!  And the first challenge was to bake an upside down cake.  One of my favorites!

— It made me want to head to kitchen and whip one up.  So when I did get back home to our own kitchen a week later, that’s just what I did–  Made it for the the Monday friends who come in every week.  It’s such a simple cake.  Just put it together, bake it and you’re done.  No frosting or fuss involved.  And here it is…


2  14 oz. cans of apricots*
1/2 cup whole toasted almonds, cut in half
1/4 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup brown sugar

1  1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1  1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 cup milk
1/3 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 tsp. amaretto (or vanilla)



You start with the topping.  First spray a 9 or 10″ round baking dish** with cooking spray.  Then coat it with the melted butter, tipping the pan to cover all the bottom surface with the butter.  Sprinkle the brown sugar evenly over the butter.  Distribute the almonds over all of that.    Strain  the canned apricots to get rid of all the juice from the can.  Then arrange the apricots cut side down over the almonds and set the baking dish aside for a bit.

To make the cake, stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl.  Then mix in the milk, oil, egg and amaretto (or vanilla).  Stir just until it’s all blended and then pour it evenly over the apricots etc. in the baking dish.

Pop it into a 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes, until it is cooked through so that a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Then there is one little tricky part.  Take the serving plate you are using to serve the cake and set it upside down over the hot cake.  Tip the whole thing over– upside down!  The cake may fall down onto the plate, but usually I have to take a knife and lift up the baking dish just slightly and the cake detaches from the pan and falls to the serving plate.

It’s delicious eaten warm.  Or save it for desert with a big scoop of ice cream or whipped cream.  Bon appetit!

* You can use fresh apricots (about 10), halved and seeded, but this time of year all I have is canned and they work just fine.
** I used a glass tart pan.




Apricot Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

IMG_3902Hello there cookie eating friends (that should include about everyone!)–  I know. I know.  It’s traditional to put raisins in oatmeal cookies.  But any recipe that calls for raisins, automatically gets currants substituted in, as far as I’m concerned.  Currents are good (raisins just too darn smooshy).  But dried apricots, even better.

And I happens that I have piles of dried apricots because I mentioned in class that I like them a lot and my little 3rd graders brought me bags of bags of those things for teacher appreciation day!!  I’m all stocked up!  So anyway, all that to say, I think you’d love this crispy, tender, apricot-y little cookies.

1 cup butter (2 sticks)*
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cup flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 cup rolled oats
1 cup flaky cereal**
1 cup walnuts, chopped
1 cup dried apricots, diced to small bits
2 cups dark chocolate chips***

IMG_3895With an electric mixer beat together the butter, brown sugar, white sugar and the eggs.  Then mix in the flour, salt, baking powder and oats.  Finally beat in the cereal, walnuts, apricots and chocolate chips.

Drop blobs of cookie dough with a spoon onto a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray.  Leave about 1 1/2″ between cookies because they do spread!  Bake them up at 35- degrees for about 12 minutes until the a browned and crispy around the edges.  Eat at least one hot from the oven.  You know that’s when they are best!

*If the butter is coming straight from the fridge, microwave to 7 or 8 seconds to soften it just a bit.
**Any flaky cereal works– like corn flakes or raisin bran or even granola.  No cheerios or sugar smacks!!!
***I like the Hershey’s dark chocolate chips because they are nice a rich and oversized to make the cookies prettier.


Coconut Apricot Muffins


Good morning all!  Who wouldn’t want to start the day with these tender muffins, full of fruit and sweet coconut?

I don’t know about you, but I have this “magic” list of ingredients that always catch my eye when I’m looking at recipes–  chocolate (of course), almonds, pumpkin, olives, apricots.  Oh yes, apricots–especially now when they are rosy and ripe. So these apricot-y muffins hit the spot with my morning mug of tea.  Hope you like them…

6 apricots
1 egg
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup oil
1 1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup coconut, plus a bit more to sprinkle on top

Remove the seeds and cut the apricots into small bits.  Stir together the egg, milk and oil.  Then mix in the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Finally, fold in the apricots and 1/2 cup coconut.  Spoon the batter into muffin papers and sprinkle a pinch of coconut onto the top of each muffin.  Bake them at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until they are firm to the touch and coconut just starts to brown on top.  Make 12 to 15 muffins.


Apricot Coffee Cake

IMG_0927Hey there–  I’m not a coffee drinker.  I keep thinking I should learn to love it so I can ditch my diet coke habit. I’ve tried, but failed to make the switch.  I do love coffee ice cream.  And am definitely a fan of all kinds of coffee cake (even farther afield from real coffee).  So leaving coffee behind, here’s a lovely tender coffee cake, good with whatever you choose to drink with it…

5 tab. canola oil
3/4 cup sugar
2 eggs
2/3 cup buttermilk*
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. amaretto** (optional, of course)
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 14 oz. cans of apricots (or ten fresh apricots if it’s summer!)
1 cup sliced almonds
powdered sugar

IMG_0939Drain the apricots and cut them into small chunks.  In a large mixing bowl, mix together the oil, sugar, eggs. buttermilk, vanilla and amaretto.  Then stir in the flour, baking powder and salt.  Finally, carefully fold in the bits of apricot.  Sprinkle on the sliced almonds and throw it into at 350 degree oven for 35 to 40 minutes until it’s browned around the edges and firm to the touch.  Let it cool a bit to serve and dust it with powdered sugar sifted though a sieve.

*I just use regular milk mixed with 2 tab. of cider vinegar–let it sit a couple minutes to thicken.
**I love a big bottle amaretto.  It lasts forever and is so much less expensive than those little bottles of almond flavoring extract.

Cranberry Apricot Pecan Bark

IMG_8292Hi all– Here’s a pretty last minute Christmas treat.  You melt the white chocolate and throw on the fruit and nuts!  Sound easy?  It should be, but last night I melted my favorite trusty rusty old mixing bowl overheating the chocolate (so sad) and when I ran out into the night to get more white chocolate my grocer was all out!  Ugh. But I persevered and it was worth it– think you’ll love this yummy bark!

16 oz. good white chocolate (2 2/3 cups chopped)
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried apricots, cut to bits

IMG_8289Pull out a piece of parchment paper and draw a 8″x10″ rectangle with a pencil.  Flip the paper over onto a cookie sheet so that you can still see the lines but they won’t touch the chocolate.

Put 12 oz. (2 cups) of the chocolate into a glass bowl.  Microwave it 30 seconds and stir.  Do that twice more and the chocolate should be melted and smooth. Then stir in the other 2/3 cup of chocolate immediately until it is melted.  Quickly spread the melted white chocolate on the parchment and spread to cover the area of the rectangle.  Then sprinkle on the cranberries, apricots and pecans and press them down into the warm chocolate.  (It’s important to work quickly, so that the chocolate doesn’t cool and get hard before the toppings stick in).  Let is all sit a couple hours to harden completely and and then cut into polite little bits to pass around to everyone.    Pretty and so delicious!

Apricot, Cranberry Cornbread Muffins

Hi all– I was happy to run across stacks and stacks of those 1 pound bags of cranberries at the market last week.  I’ve been waiting for those things.   So it lovely to stir them into some breakfast muffins when Ani came home for the weekend.  Just add butter and honey as they come out of the oven– fruity and a bit crunchy around the edges.  Delish.

1 1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 tsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. salt
1 egg
3 tab. canola oil
1 cup milk
1/3 cup dried apricots, chopped fine
1/3 cup fresh cranberries chopped fine

Stir together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder and salt.  Then mix in the egg, oil and milk.  Finish up, mixing in the apricots and cranberries.  Spoon the batter into 12 muffin tins lined with cupcake liners.  Sprinkle with just a light sanding of sugar over the muffins and then pop them in the oven at 375 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes until just a little brown around the edges.

Apricot Pistachio Chicken

Hello there–  Well, I saw an interesting recipe in a magazine for lamb with apricots and pistachios.  I thought, “That might be good with chicken,” so I tore out the page and then promptly misplaced it!  Ugh.  After looking high and low, I gave up and collected a few variations online and then set out to make my own version.   I liked the pretty color and it did taste lovely at dinner last night.  So here is what we finally set on the table…

2 boneless chicken breasts
salt & freshly ground pepper
2 tab. olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped fine
1 14 oz. can apricots (or fresh if you have them!)
1/4 cup salted, roasted pistachios
1/2 cup chicken broth*
1 tab. cornstarch

Cut the chicken breasts lengthwise to make four flat filets.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper.  Heat the oil in a large pan and brown the chicken on both sides, about 5 minutes total.  Remove and chicken and cook the onion until it starts to brown.  Open the apricots and save the juice.  Take half the apricots and mince them finely.  Cut the other half into happy little chunks.

When the onions are cooked, throw in the minced apricots, chicken broth and the apricot juice and set the chicken back into the pan.  Simmer the chicken and sauce on low for about 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

When the chicken is done cooking, remove it to a serving platter with rice or couscous and turn to heat up to high under the sauce in the pan.  Shake the cornstarch and about a half cup of water together in a closed container and stir it slowly into the sauce until it thickens nicely.  Then stir in the remaining apricot chunks and the pistachios and pour the sauce over the chicken and serve it up!

*I don’t usually have just a half cup chicken broth on hand, so I dropped 1/4 of a Knorr chicken bullion cube into 1/2 cup boiling water and it worked just fine.