Butternut squash couscous & Radio!

Every once in a while, you come across a week where everything somehow happens at the same time. Between a zillion rehearsals, 5 concerts, and a radio segment, I've hardly had the time to catch my breath. I've seen the boyfriend for about 30 mins each day, I've run out of clean clothes, and I've been eating like crap... But here's the thing, I would not trade it for anything else. Yes - It has been an incredibly challenging week. And I am ready to sleep for about 20 hours straight. But as a really awesome person once told me, "it'll make the muscles bigger". Today started a lot earlier than I'm used to. I've been preparing for a recital with a couple colleagues from the symphony. We were given the opportunity to promote this recital by Houston's classical radio station, Classical 91.7FM. I wanted to feel warmed up enough for the live performance segment, as well as alert enough for the interview portion. So yeah, not much sleep. Nonetheless, the radio segment went smoothly and we were out of there before lunchtime.

20131018-154700.jpg Here's what I learned from today's radio adventure: 1. It is totally possible that you will have a brain fart when asked a question on the spot. It's also possible that you will involuntarily say, "uhhhhh... I got nothin!" (smooth) But that's all ok. Because luckily, your host is incredibly understanding & generous. He will simply pause, then repeat the question. And by that time, your brain will be working at turbo speed, and you'll have formulated some semblance of an answer! 2. Always always always bring one person who is a natural storyteller. Radio gold. 3. I have the voice of a newborn baby. 4. Bring a sweater!!

After the radio segment, I found myself with a few hours off before the next thing! So I decided that I was going to cook myself something delicious & comforting. I should probably mention that this week has been so much more bearable because of the weather. It is finally starting to feel like FALL in Houston! I have been wearing boots, sweaters, and scarves all week! Makes me insanely happy :)

What else makes me happy? Butternut squash! It is one of my faaaaaavorite veggies, so I thought I would feature it in a rich and comforting couscous! PS- about 2 weeks ago, I discovered that I really like Israeli couscous - but had no idea what to do with it. So, I asked blogger extraordinaire, Molly Yeh for some help. She suggested this deliciousness, which I devoured. Then I just began to play around with it.

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Ingredients: 1 butternut squash (peeled & cubed) 3 slices thick cut bacon (sliced into small 1/2 inch slivers) 1 cup Israeli couscous 1 2/3 cup chicken stock 3-4 cups chopped brussels sprouts 1 shallot minced (approx 2 tbsp) 1/2 lemon 1/3 cup fresh chopped parsley 1/3-1/2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Using a large mixing bowl, coat the butternut squash with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Mix in a good pinch of salt & pepper. Pour into oven-safe pan, and cook for 25-30 mins until tender. Remove from heat and allow to cool.

Heat a saucepan over medium heat. Cook bacon until done and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, remove cooked bacon and set aside (keeping the fat in the pan). Couscous into pan. Toast couscous in bacon fat until slightly browned (4-6mins). Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat slightly and allow the couscous to fully cook, stirring occasionally. Fluff with a spoon, remove from heat and set aside.

Heat a non-stick pan over medium heat. Pour a little olive oil (or bacon fat!) into pan. Shallots into pan. Cook for 5-7 minutes, until they start to brown. Brussels sprouts into pan. Cook until tender. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine the couscous, bacon, butternut squash, brussels sprouts, shallots and remaining olive oil in a large mixing bowl. Add in a generous pinch of salt & pepper, a squeeze of lemon, and the chopped parsley. Mix until everything is evenly distributed. You can enjoy this as a side dish, or devour a bowl of it on its own (like I just did) :)

I leave you with this gem my mom sent me last night. Because what says HAPPY FALL more than this picture??

 

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Miran