Chicken with Balsamic Tarragon Mushroom Sauce

Hello everyone,

Typically, one may associate mushroom sauce with adjectives such as creamy, high-calorie and delicious.

Personally, I love mushroom sauce. But when you make it with all that butter and cream, you can’t help but feel your arteries scream at you, regardless of how pleased your stomach may be.

So instead of avoiding my beloved mushroom sauce in the best interest of my heart and waistline, I instead opt for a much healthier and lower-calorie mushroom sauce recipe.

This recipe uses much lighter ingredients to create the sauce, with chicken broth as the liquid and only a ¼ of sour cream added right at the end (which you can even substitute with the healthier  greek yogurt.)

This specific recipe uses balsamic and tarragon to flavour the sauce, but you can really remove or substitute anything to change the flavour of the sauce – mustard, sun dried tomatoes, thyme to name a few ideas!

Try this recipe and enjoy a delicious mushroom sauce without all the guilt!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:
Chicken with Balsamic Tarragon Mushroom sauce

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Chicken With Balsamic Tarragon Mushroom Sauce
Serves 4-5

1 tbsp oil
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
½ cup onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
16-20 mushrooms, sliced
1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp dried terragon
1 tsp dried thyme
¼ cup white wine
¾ cup chicken or vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 / 4 cup sour cream or greek yogurt
Fresh parsley for garnish

Cooked brown rice for serving

DIRECTIONS:
1. Cut chicken  thighs into bite sized pieces (about 3 pieces per thigh) Season with salt and pepper.
2. In a large pan, sauté chicken thighs in oil until lightly browned. Remove.
3. Add onions cook until softened. Add garlic, cook for a minute.
4. Add mushrooms, cook until tender, mixing occasionally.
5. Stir in balsamic vinegar, tarragon and thyme.
6. Add salt, pepper, white wine and broth. Add chicken and mix well.  Bring to a boil.
7. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.
8. Mix cornstarch in just enough water to dissolve, about ¼ cup. Add to pan. Mix well and cook uncovered until sauce thickens.
9. Turn off heat. Mix in sour cream/yogurt.
Serve on a bed of brown rice and garnish with fresh parsley.

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Peach Cobbler

Hello everyone,

It’s finally those two magical weeks of the year when peaches are actually in season! I got about 16 big perfect peaches on sale, and made an attempt to eat as many as I could as they ripened. However, I am only one person and couldn’t accomplish this task, so I decided to make a peach dessert.

When I was in Austin, Texas at the Salt Lick restaurant years ago, I remember trying both their blackberry and peach cobblers, and both were great! So when my mom said she was going to make a peach cobbler with her extra peaches, I thought I would give it a try as well as this solved my too-many-peaches problem. She sent me the Salt Lick peach cobbler recipe that she found online, and after a few tweaks (including reducing the sugar,) I gave it a shot too!

COBBLER VS. CRISP

My mom has been making rhubarb crisp for years. As a result, I was very familiar with the concept of a crisp but not so much a cobbler. After some internet research and actually making a cobbler, this is my verdict:

 A crisp (or crumble) is baked fruit topped with a sugar and oatmeal mixture that turns (you guessed it) crispy. A cobbler is fruit baked with a biscuit/cakey batter.

When making a cobbler, you typically top the fruit with the batter. This recipe is different, as you put the fruit on top of the batter instead! I like it this way, and think it looks very pretty with the peaches sitting on top of the batter.

This recipe is super quick and would be great dessert for any BBQ.

So quick! Get some peaches while you can and enjoy this summer dessert!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here for the printable Word version of recipe:
Peach Cobbler

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Peach Cobbler
Inspired by Salt Lick

Serves 6-8

INGREDIENTS:

½ cup butter, melted

Batter:

1 cup flour
2/3 cups sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2/3 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla

Peaches:

4 large peaches, thinly sliced
2/3 cups sugar
½ tsp cinnamon
Pinch of nutmeg

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Cover 9×13 inch baking pan with melted butter
  3. Make peach mixture. Combine peaches, 2/3 cups sugar and spices.
  4. In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, 2/3 cups sugar, baking powder, and salt. Mix well. In a separate bowl, beat egg with a fork and mix with milk and vanilla. Mix wet ingredients with dry.
  5. Pour batter on top of butter in baking pan. Try to spread the batter as evenly as possible.
  6. Scoop peaches evenly over batter. DO NOT MIX!!
  7. Bake for 35-45 minutes until batter comes to top and is golden brown.
  8. Serve with vanilla ice cream or whipping cream.

 

Brown Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms and Thyme

 

Hello Everyone,

In the height of the summer, John and I are taking advantage of the nice weather with lots of grilling and BBQing. In predictable gender defined roles, John takes care of the grilling and I handle the sides.

For my sides, I usually alternate between something potato, bean or rice related, depending on the style of meal and the meat John is making.

The other day, we decided to grill some chicken thighs with peppers from our garden as well as asparagus and corn.I fell back to my trusty brown rice pilaf recipe.

I have been making this rice pilaf for ages, and as a lighter and healthy dish, it is my go-to side for most chicken and fish entrees. Unless we’re doing some sort of curry or stir fry, I never make just plain rice, and usually opt for this easy rice dish.

Mushrooms, onion/leek, garlic and thyme are key ingredients, and feel free to add some spinach for colour if you have some on hand. Personally, I love the nuttier taste of brown rice, and will sometimes even substitute a little wild rice as well.

I really hope you try out this recipe as it is one of my staples. Jazz up any meat entrée any time of year with this little gem.

Bon appetit,

Julie

For the printable Word version of this recipe, click here:
Brown Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms and Thyme

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Brown Rice Pilaf with Mushrooms and Thyme

Serves 4-6

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup brown rice – try substituting ¼ brown for ¼ wild rice
1 leek or small onion, thinly sliced
8 mushrooms, halved and thinly sliced
1 tbsp cooking oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp dried thyme, or 1 tbsp fresh thyme, minced
1 handful fresh spinach or frozen – optional
1 cup vegetable broth
1 ½ cups water
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1 tbsp butter – optional
Fresh parsley for garnish – optional

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oil in a medium-large pot on medium heat.
  2. Cook onions/leek until softened, 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add mushrooms, cook for 2-3 minutes, mixing periodically
  4. Add garlic, thyme and spinach, cook for 1 minute.
  5. Add rice, cook for a minute while stirring.
  6. Add water, broth, salt and pepper.
  7. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.
  8. When rice is done, add the optional tbsp of butter and mix well. Garnish with fresh parsley.

20170730_195829

Gnocchi and Italian Sausage Skillet

Hello everyone!

My apologies for the lack of recipes lately. I have been busy doing some camping, enjoying the wonderful summer sun, sipping cocktails, and neglecting my internet duties.

So here’s a quick skillet recipe for you. I threw this together one evening because I had some gnocchi burning a hole in my cupboard.

This meal is a great quick skillet dish that is super easy and super tasty (not just regular tasty!)

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here to view printable Word version of recipe:
Gnocchi and Italian Sausage Skillet

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Gnocchi and Italian Sausage Skillet

INGREDIENTS:

3 Italian Sausages, sliced
1 onion, sliced
2 cups mushrooms, sliced thick
4 cloves garlic, chopped
½ sundried tomatoes, sliced
1 red pepper, diced
½ zucchini diced
1 tbsp basil
Salt and pepper to taste

1 pkg gnocchi

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat the largest frying pan you own
  2. Add sausage and onion, cook until sausage starts to brown.
  3. In the meantime, heat a second pan. Use to fry gnocchi in butter and oil until they are golden.
  4. Add mushrooms to sausage and onion and cook until mushrooms start to brown.
  5. Add sundried tomatoes and garlic, saute for a few minutes.
  6. Add red peppers, basil, salt and pepper. Saute for a few minutes.
  7. Add zucchini and cook. At this point, if you would like to speed things up and soften the vegetables, add 2 tbsp of water, cover and steam until vegetables are soft.
  8. Once everything is cooked to your liking, add gnocchi and mix well. Turn off heat and serve.

Rhubarb Blueberry Sauce

Hello everyone.

I love rhubarb. Not on it’s own of course, no one can handle that bitterness. But when it’s doused in sugar, it’s delightful!

I also appreciate that rhubarb is one of the first things to pop out of the ground come spring. My nana gave John and I a ruby red rhubarb plant from her garden. We transplanted it a couple of years ago, and this year it has finally taken off and is ripe for harvest. I planted our rhubarb plant right in the middle of my flower bed in the front yard. My understanding is that the ruby red variety doesn’t get as big as some of the other rhubarb plants, so I am hoping it doesn’t take over my garden.

So last week, I harvested my plant for the first time and made one of our favourites, a blueberry rhubarb compote.

This sauce is great. We primarily use it for breakfast or dessert. It goes great on pancakes or waffles in the morning, and on ice cream or yogurt in the evening, if you want something sweet that’s a little lighter. The sauce is easy to make in the morning and freezes well if you have any leftover. John and I will also freeze pre-chopped rhubarb and use it throughout the year for this sauce.

This is a great way to use some of your bountiful rhubarb crop!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here for printable Word version of recipe:
Rhubarb Blueberry Sauce

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Blueberry Rhubarb Sauce
Serves 4

Serve on waffles, pancakes, yogurt, ice cream or whatever you want

INGREDIENTS

1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen)
1 cup chopped rhubarb (fresh or frozen)
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp water (if you are using fresh fruit)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place all ingredients in small/medium pot, turn heat to high.
  2. Bring ingredients to a boil. Reduce heat to medium high. Allow to cook down for 5-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Turn heat off and sauce will thicken.

Crunchy Japanese Ramen Noodle Coleslaw


Hello everyone,

As spring heats up we’re all feeling the urge to get out and fire up the grill. And what better to accompany whatever you may be throwing on said grill then coleslaw!

Ok, ok. I know coleslaw may seem anticlimactic for my first nice weather BBQ post of the year. But I kid you not, this recipe kicks some serious behind. I have found myself shovelling piles of this slaw onto my empty plate after I have finished all the grilled meat and sides, no exaggeration, going back for a third or even fourth helping. Somehow, a coleslaw binge doesn’t leave me feeling entirely guilty…

The key to this easy recipe are the noodles! Get yourself a pack of those inexpensive Japanese ramen noodles – crumble the noodles right into the salad before serving, and use the flavour pack in the dressing. Just genius!

Wishing you nice weather, stiff cocktails and tasty coleslaw to kick off BBQ season!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here for printable Word version of recipe:
Coleslaw – Japanese Noodle

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Crunchy Japanese Noodle Coleslaw

INGREDIENTS:

1 small cabbage, finely shredded
6 green onions, chopped
½ cup slivered almonds
½ cup sunflower seeds

1 pkg. Mr. Noodles/Ichiban Noodles – your favourite ramen brand

Dressing:
1/4 cup olive oil
¼ cup white vinegar

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Add shredded cabbage and green onion into serving bowl.
  2. Make dressing: add ramen seasoning package into oil and vinegar.
  3. Right before serving, break noodles into bite-sized pieces, add noodles, seeds and nuts to salad. Add dressing and toss well.

Duchess Bake Shop Pie Class Part 2: Sour Cream Cherry Pie

Hello everyone,

As mentioned in my last post, my friend Micheline and I were fortunate enough to take a pie making class through Edmonton’s beloved Duchess Bakery.

During our class, we made apple pie, banana cream pie, butter tarts, pie dough and my favourite – sour cream cherry pie. It was a very productive few hours!

One of our instructors, Sharileen, is the genius responsible for this wonderful pie recipe. Like many Albertans, she grew up with a sour cherry tree in her yard. She wanted to find something to do with the sour cherries and came up with this recipe, changing the lives of Edmontonians for the better.

The sour cherry pie filling is a shockingly simple 4 ingredients: Sour cherries, sour cream, flour and sugar.

One thing that was kind of fun about this pie was that we did a lattice top. It looks pretty complicated but is very easy. Roll out your dough approx. the size and shape of a pie top and cut into strips (a pizza cutter works nicely.) Simply place each strip on top of the pie to create the lattice as you like, no need to weave them together all fancy-like, just keep it simple!

Before baking the pie, be sure to brush the crust with an egg-white/cream mixture, and sprinkle with white sugar. The egg whites will make the pie crust shine and the cream will help it brown nicely.

As for the sour cherries, they are definitely seasonal. If you have access to a sour cherry tree, then you are in the money! If not, Edmontonians can go to Duchess Provisions (the branch of the bakery that sells baking tools and products) and purchase the cherries frozen. They sell them in exact portions to make this pie.

PIE TIPS FROM THE CLASS (pay attention, these tips are gold!!)

  • To get the dough on the pan, fold rolled dough in half before sliding the pan underneath.
  • Once dough is placed on pan, use a kitchen scissors to cut hanging dough around the perimeter of the pie pan, leaving about 1 inch overhang.
  • When sealing the edges of the pie, fold excess overhung dough underneath itself so it just comes over the edge of the pie pan.
  • Before baking, brush pie with an egg white – cream mixture, and sprinkle with white sugar. THIS IS KEY!

If you are interested in Giselle’s dough recipe for you pie, click here.

This pie is insanely good. Like pure insanity.

Micheline and I had a blast at our pie making class, and learned so many tricks that we are excited to employ in all of our future pie making endeavours! If you are interested in taking a baking class through Duchess Provisions, here is a link to their website: https://duchessprovisions.com/

Special thanks to Giselle and Sharileen for hosting such a fun class and sharing all their great pie-making knowledge with us. In a round crust covered cherry filled world, these women are gods!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Other post in this series:

Duchess Bake Shop Pie Class Part 1: Pie Dough

Click here for printable PDF version of recipe:
Sharileen’s Sour Cream Cherry Pie

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Sharileen’s Sour Cream Cherry Pie
Courtesy of Duchess Bake Shop

EQUIPMENT:

9 inch pie plate

INGREDIENTS:

1 Batch Easy Mixer Pie Dough
440g (3 and ½ cups) fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries
175g (3/4 cup + 2 tbsp) sugar
40g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
122g (1/2 cup) sour cream

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat your oven to 375 F

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the cherries, sugar, and flour. Add the sour cream and stir until all ingredients are combined. If your cherries are really juicy and look a bit watery, stir in another 2 tsp flour.
  2. Roll the pie dough and shape the shell. Fill the pie with the filling (level, not heaping) and then cover the pie with a lattice top and finish with egg wash (egg whites and cream)
  3. Bake for 70-75 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the filling is bubbling and thickened. Allow the pie to cool completely before serving.

STORAGE:

This pie will keep at room temperature for up to 3 days.

 

Duchess Bake Shop Pie Class Part 1: Pie Dough

Hello everyone,

In Edmonton, we have a very chique and popular bakery called Duchess Bake Shop. BuzzFeed named Duchess as one of the top 23 bakeries around the world you need to visit (and we all know how BuzzFeed is THE WORD when it comes to everything!)

Additionally, our super-hip selfie Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ate there once.

Anyways, the bakery is just incredible. During a visit, you will find it packed with patrons, usually lining up to buy their amazing macarons. However, my favourite thing that they make is the pie.

Duchess Bake Shop recently opened up a new portion of the business dedicated to baking classes, Duchess Provisions. You can take all different types of baking classes including how to make their delectable macarons, but my friend Micheline and I managed to score two spots in their pie making class!

We were very excited to learn the secret to Duchess’ fabulous pies. And the class did not disappoint.

The class was taught by owner Giselle and her long-time employee Sherilynn. Giselle talked about how her co-owner Jake is this incredible pasty chef, but when she first met him he didn’t know how to make a pie. The home-trained Giselle is the pie expert. The two of them put their skills together to create the most popular bakery In town.

Pies are just my cup of tea. They are rustic, less fussy and more forgiving then a lot of other types of baking. Although you can definitely take some steps to make your pies top notch, they are pretty hard to screw up.

We started out by making a classic apple pie (pictured.) We used the hard and less sweet Granny Smith apples, which Micheline peeled and I sliced. We let the apples sit and get juicy, but not too runny. Micheline rolled out our pre-made dough. A nice trick they showed us was to fold the rolled out dough in half before sliding the pie plate under it and spreading it across the plate. It made this whole task much easier.

After adding the filling and making the top, we brushed the surface with an egg-white and cream mixture, then sprinkled with white sugar. The egg whites help make the pie crust nice and shiny while the cream helps it to brown. It’s amazing how nicely it works!

They put our apple pies in their impressive row of ovens and as the class moved on, we were treated to the aroma of half a dozen apple pies baking at once.

The dough was pre-made for us when we did our pies to speed up the class, however we made some fresh dough to take home. This will be today’s recipe.

Now I typically just use Tenderflake for my pie crusts, so I was curious to see how Duchess makes their crust. I was amazed that their recipe was even easier then Tenderflake.

Giselle explained to us that pie crust is really fat, flour and water. The most important part is to select the fat. She said you can use animal fat, like that of chicken, which will make the crust flavourful, but far too greasy. She said you can use butter, which has a lot of flavour but makes the crust a little heavier. Shortening gives you a very light and flakey crust, but offers no flavour. She said her preferred method is to use ½ butter ½ shortening.

We made our crust and each took a little bit home. I still have mine in my freezer, as pie crust freezes just great.

DUCHESS DOUGH TIPS:

  • Make in advance and freeze if you have to.
  • You can make it in a stand mixer with the proper attachment, or use a pastry cutter and knead by hand.
  • If you are doing it by hand, cut your butter into very small pieces as this will make the whole thing much easier.

OTHER PIE TIPS FROM THE CLASS (pay attention, these tips are gold!!)

  • To get the dough on the pan, fold rolled dough in half before sliding the pan underneath
  • Once dough is placed in pan, use a kitchen knife to cut dough around the perimeter of the pie pan, leaving about 1 inch overhand.
  • When sealing the pie, fold excess dough underneath so it just comes over the edge of the pie pan.
  • Before baking, brush pie with an egg white – cream mixture, and sprinkle with white sugar.

Our pie class was so fun and interesting. Stay tuned for my next post where I will share my favourite Duchess pie recipe with you – sour cherry cream pie.
Thanks to Giselle for allowing me to share her recipe with you!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here to view other posts in this series:
Duchess Bake Shop Pie Class Part 2: Sour Cream Cherry Pie

Click here to view PDF Duchess Pie Dough Recipe:
Duchess Pie Dough

Good news! Giselle has released a Duchess Bake Shop cookbook feature some of the best recipes from the bakery. Click here for more information.

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Duchess Bake Shop
Easy Mixer Pie Dough

Makes 3 x 9 – inch pie shells
or 1 covered or lattice-top pie plus extra pie shell.

INGREDIENTS:

640 g (4 cups) all purpose flour
226 g (1 cup) cold unsalted butter, in ½ inch cubes
200 g (1 cup) cold vegetable shortening, in ½ inch cubes
1 tsp salt
242 g (1 cup) ice water

EQUIPMENT:

  • You will need a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment
  • Alternatively, use a pastry cutter to do by hand

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Place the flour, butter, shortening, and salt into a stand mixer bowl. Mix on low speed until the fats are in small chunks and the mixture looks a bit dry. This should only take 10-15 seconds. If you overmix you run the risk of turning your mixture into a dough, and then you’ll have a difficult time incorporating all the water in the next step.
  2. Add the ice water all at once and mix on medium speed until the dough just comes together. Some small lumps of fat should remain in the dough.
  3. Shape the dough into three balls. Wrap each ball in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minute, making sure the dough is fully chilled before rolling out. At this point the dough can be frozen. Let it thaw completely before using it , but when you roll it out, be sure it’s still cold.

STORAGE:

Pie dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two days, or in the freezer for up to six months.

Freezer Friendly Meals

Hello everyone,

I apologize for the lack of recipes lately. John and I have been renovating our house over the last couple of months and my kitchen situation has not been conducive to cooking. I have a stove that is sometimes plugged in, a refrigerator that migrates around the floor, a sink in the basement, several cardboard boxes of kitchen utensils in a spare bedroom, and construction supplies all over. However, thanks to the magic of the microwave,  re-heating is a different story!

As a result, I have been borrowing my mom’s kitchen to do some batch cooking. Typically, I will emerge with a crock-pot meal and several containers full of something to freeze.

So for today’s edition, I thought I would go through my archives and share some of my favourite batch cooking/freezer friendly recipes that I have posted in the past.

Here are my 5 favourite freezable posts:

  1. Italian Sausage and Tortellini Soup
  2. Vegetarian Chili
  3. Mexican Chorizo Sausage and Black Bean Soup
  4. Chana Masala (Chickpea Curry)
  5. Lesco – Hungarian Pepper Stew

The good news, is that thanks to the hard work of my husband, my kitchen should be up and running very soon. Once I get organized and hit my cooking groove again, stay tuned for some new recipes!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Moroccan Style Ground Turkey with Chickpeas

Hello everyone,

I gotta say I love the flavours of Moroccan cooking. Cumin, cinnamon and turmeric are such a nice combination.

I had some ground turkey and wanted to make some sort of quick and healthy skillet dish. With a little googling for ideas combined with what I had in the fridge and pantry, this is the dish I came up with.

I figure if a dish can satisfy all three criteria of quick, healthy and delicious, then you’re doing okay in life. I must say, this skillet dish does indeed satisfy all three of those criteria!

So satisfy your hunger without feeling guilty!

Bon appetit,

Julie

Click here for printable Word version of recipe:
moroccan-style-ground-turkey-with-chickpeas

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Moroccan Style Ground Turkey with Chickpeas
Serves 4-5

INGREDIENTS:

1 cup couscous

1 lb ground turkey
1 large onion. Sliced
4 carrots, sliced
1 small orange fleshed sweet potato, peeled and cubed
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp coriander
½ tsp turmeric
¾ tsp cinnamon
Red pepper flakes to taste
2 cups chicken broth
½ cup raisins
3 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp lemon zest
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
Salt and pepper to taste
Cilantro to garnish

DIRECTIONS

  1. In large skillet, heat oil. Season turkey with salt and pepper. Brown turkey until cooked. Set aside turkey.
  2. Cook onions for about 2 minutes. Add garlic, carrots and sweet potatoes and cook for 3-5 minutes, until they start to soften.
  3. Add chickpeas and stir.
  4. Add spices (cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, red pepper flakes) and stir for about 30 seconds.
  5. Add turkey and stir. Add chicken broth, raisins, tomato paste, lemon zest, salt and pepper to taste. Mix well.
  6. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 5 minutes.
  7. Garnish with cilantro and serve on couscous.

Couscous:

Boil 1.5 cups water. With ¼ tsp salt, pour over couscous. Cover and let sit for about 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.