Wow, you guys. It has been 9 months since I last posted. Life, and my job, got a bit crazy there for a while. Well, I’m back! And I’m going to do my best to stay on top of this.

So, to kick my little blog into the new year, I bring you a delicious, easy, and unusual dish: spiced couscous and chicken, from the Food Network magazine. I won a subscription to the magazine in a giveaway offered on Beantown Baker’s blog a few months ago. I’m so thrilled I won because the magazine is awesome. I’ve made some dynamite recipes out of the four issues I’ve received so far, and I have a bunch of others on my to do list.

I’ve made this dish twice, and my husband and I love it. It’s easy to put together and it has a wonderful spiciness from the cinnamon and nutmeg. The dish seems to have an Moroccan-influenced flavor, which is very different from our usual fare and a great way to add some variety to our diet. We use Tabasco on this since I’ve never managed to find harissa in the grocery store, and I love that each person adds hot sauce to their own plate according to their tastes. I like mine fairly spicy, but I make liberal use of the Greek yogurt to cool things down again.

The first time I made this, I used Israeli couscous since that’s all I had, even though the recipe called for the regular kind. I made it again with regular couscous, but I decided I like the Israeli kind better.  The original recipe uses only 1 cup of the water, so a lot of that tasty cinnamon and ginger stays in the pot, but my way cooks the pasta in all of the water, so none of the tasty spicy goodness gets wasted. That alteration is reflected in the recipe below. (If you want to use regular couscous, the original recipe is available on the Food Network website.)

The photos depict regular couscous, however, because I guess I didn’t take pictures the first time I made this.

Spiced Couscous and Chicken

Adapted from Food Network Magazine, October 2010

3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon ground ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 medium carrots, peeled and thinly sliced

1 1/3 cups Israeli couscous

2 cups shredded rotisserie chicken

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, separated

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1/4 cup golden raisins

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, roughly chopped

1/2 cup chopped cilantro, plus more for topping

Greek yogurt and harissa, Tabasco, or other hot sauce, for topping

1. In a large sauce pan, sauté the couscous with 1 tablespoon of butter until lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Add 1 3/4 cups boiling water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, ginger, 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, until water is absorbed and couscous is tender, about 12 minutes. In the last 4 minutes of the cooking time, quickly stir in the carrots and replace cover.

2. While the couscous is cooking, melt the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet over medium-high. Add raisins, almonds, scallions, and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon. Cook, stirring, until the almonds are lightly toasted and the raisins are puffed up and it all smells irresistibly fragrant, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the chopped cilantro.

3. In a large bowl, mix together couscous, shredded chicken, and almond mixture. Serve topped with a dollop of yogurt, a sprinkling of cilantro and a shake or two of hot sauce, if desired.

Serves four.