Whole Wheat Couscous with Red Pepper and Cucumber

I made this little side dish to go along with Hunter’s dolmas. Not going to lie, this was my first time to try whole wheat couscous and it was a little bland. I would suggest heavily salting your water when boiling to help the grain absorb some flavor. The couscous was actually more flavorful the next day after melding with the other flavors in the fridge.

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You’ll need:
1 cup whole wheat couscous
Cucumber
Red pepper
Garlic
Salt
Olive oil
Feta

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Do a rough chop of some garlic. Then you will cook the couscous according to the package directions. Usually 1 part couscous to 2 parts water. In a pot combine 2 cups water, 1 cup couscous, the chopped garlic, olive oil and a couple tablespoons of kosher salt.

Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.

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When it’s done, it will look like this.

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Chop up the cucumber and red pepper into bite size pieces. Remove the ribs and seeds from the red pepper.

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Add crumbled feta.

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Stir in the couscous and it’s ready to serve! It went great with the dolmas and sweet potato hummus . Top it with a little cilantro yogurt for an extra kick.

Enjoy!

Coal Vines in Austin

My mom came into Austin for the evening and we decided to go to Coal Vines on 2nd street. I have been to the Coal Vines in Dallas but never had to the chance to try the new Austin location. It was a chilly, rainy night and warm pizza and wine was just what I was craving. I had high expectations since I like the original Coal Vines in Dallas.

Great atmosphere. Dark and cozy with the sounds of Frank Sinatra and other favorites playing in the background. On Wednesday night, the restaurant was that perfect amount of crowded, enough people to fill the place but we were able to snag a table right when we walked in.

I am huge red wine lover, cabernets especially. Lately though I have been going with Malbecs. That night we both chose the Dinseno Malbec after sampling the 14 Hands Cabernet. It was a great accompaniment.

My mom and I spilt everything, my favorite thing to do while eating! We split this salad which is the creamy gorgonzola balsamic vinegar with pears and candied walnuts. My mom is allergic to spinach so they were able to put this with Romaine lettuce instead of the traditional spinach. It was delightful… how could it not be with sweet pears and candied walnuts.

Right before the pizza came out, the server brought the fresh parmesan, dried oregano and red pepper. It’s funny how such simple things make meals so enjoyable.

We got the Special White Pizza, which is different from the regular white pizza. We added sausage and mushrooms. It was delicious and the crust was perfect! Crispy and chewy all at the same time, you know what I am talking about it. This is the small pizza and my mom and I were only able to finish half of it. The decadent cheese made this pizza on the heavier side but it was worth every bite!

Time to dig in! I can say that I enjoyed this Coal Vines as much as the original. The staff were super polite and I will be back soon! My mom loved it too and said she will definitely be visiting their Southlake location soon too!

Check out more at: Coal Vines Austin

Bite Size Caprese Salads

I made these for yet another girls night dinner. Seem to be going to a lot of potlucks lately, so I will be writing about all my foods that are good for sharing. These were a great compliment to all the cheeses, breads and meatballs that everyone brought.

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You’ll need:
Fresh mozzarella ( I used mozzarella balls)
Red pepper
Fresh garlic
Spinach or Basil leaves
Balsamic vinegar
Cracked black pepper
Kosher Salt
Toothpicks

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A few days before, I added some cracked red pepper and minced garlic to the container of fresh mozzarella and let it soak. I wanted to get some extra flavors in the cheese.

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I used fresh spinach leaves because my basil that I was planning on using went bad 🙁 so at the last minute I used some dried Italian seasoning in place of the fresh basil.

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Half the mozzarella balls.

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Place the halved mozzarella and halved tomatoes in the leaf of your choice. This makes a little boat when you insert the the toothpick horizontally. I also made some vertically by putting the tomato on the bottom, flat side down, then stacking the leaf and topping with mozzarella.

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Voila!

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Aren’t they pretty?

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Now, time to season!

Drizzle with balsamic vinegar then fresh cracked black pepper, Italian seasoning if you want and sprinkle with kosher salt.

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Yumo!

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Now, the conundrum was how to transport these little morsels… Cupcake pan with lid. BOOM! Problem solved!!

Enjoy!!