A Few of my Favorite Things

The cupcakes will have to wait as I don’t know if I’ll even be topping them tonight (they are in the oven right now).  So, tomorrow, writing about my absolute favorite cupcakes.  I intended to make some of them tiny to take to a wine tasting I’m attending tomorrow night with my mom but I’ll have to bring full-sized instead – the liners I bought for the mini muffin pan were stand-alone liners and just a little too big for the tin, and I wasn’t going to bake anything in there unlined since something I tried yesterday (failure apple muffins) ended up with little silvery bits stuck to the edges of the muffins.  I think that particular piece of fail was due to the liner being cheap and painted (wtf WHY) and possibly also the muffins being overly sticky.  Urg, they were disappointing.

ANYWAY

This is a dish I really love to make in the fall and early winter, because it’s POMEGRANATE SEASON!  I love pomegranates for many reasons – their theological amd historical significance, their gorgeous red hue and their roundness and heft, their bizarre and oddly poetic resemblance to the human heart, and, of course, their juicy, tangy-sweet kernels.  Not to mention the pomegranate is one of the offical “fad superfoods” due to its high level of antioxidants (I think it bumped blueberries off, though the goji berry is number one at the time…it’s like a yearly thing, it seems).

This recipe is one I found online a while ago when trying to find a tasty use for pomegranates besides savoring the plain seeds victoriously after the lengthy fight to get them out.  Or…was it while I was searching for couscous recipes?  I don’t remember, but it doesn’t matter since I love both!

You're meant to mix it in the pan first but I'm excitable.

Yummy!

As a vegetarian, I love dishes that are relatively quick and easy, filling and packed with nutrients, and this fits that description nicely.  Besides the antioxidants from the pomegranates, there’s a healthy dose of fiber and protein in a serving of this, along with a little vitamin C, some B vitamins, iron…lots of phenomenal stuff.

The only change I could see someone else doing to it (and something I might experiment with next time I make it) would be to add something to make it a little spicy.  I haven’t really explored tons of spices or anything yet, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what I like and what goes with what.  If someone else were to make this and make any changes, I’d love to hear the results!

Yummy Minted Pomegranate Couscous

1 1/2 cups water

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp cinnamon

pinch salt

1 cup uncooked couscous

1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint

2 Tbsp roughly chopped unsalted pistachios

1/4 cup pomegranate seeds

2 tsp lemon zest

optional: about 10 oz. (2/3 standard can) canned chickpeas, rinsed & drained

Boil water in a covered medium saucepan.  When it’s at a rolling boil, add cinnamon, oil and salt.  Stir in the couscous, cover and remove from heat.  Let it stand for 5-10 minutes or until the water is fully absorbed.  Transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.  Add the other ingredients and mix well.  Serve hot.

This makes about 4 big bowlfuls, but would be a good side for some kind of maybe Greek- or Middle Eastern-style chicken, which is on my to-figure-out-how-to-make list.  Whenever I reheat it (which works fine) I always add a little extra cinnamon and some lemon juice before eating.

I can almost smell it...

I can almost smell it...

I absolutely recommend adding the chickpeas.  They’re the tastiest little member of the bean family, and so cute!

Everything seems to go really well together in this dish – the lemon sets up a nice background for the pomegranate to pop against, and the pistachios make the chickpeas more satisfying by way of texture: a nice slight crunch to round out their creamy nuttiness.  A nice colorful antidote to the gray cold months ahead!

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