couscous salad with blue cheese and dried cranberries & the naptime chef cookbook giveaway

I’ve been a fan of Kelsey Banfield’s blog for quite a while. What sold me on her recipes was how approachable and accessible they are. The fact that she makes the prep and cook time fit into a busy family’s schedule is really icing on the cake. And, what sold me on Kelsey herself is that she’s a warm and beautiful person. The only downside to Kelsey is that she lives so far away from me.

Kelsey’s new book,The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life, has just hit the market. When her publisher, Running Press, offered to send me copy to review, I jumped at the chance. Not only do I have an unhealthy addiction to new cookbooks, but I adore Kelsey, and her book has been on my must-acquire list since I first learned she would be writing it.

The first recipe I tested was the recipe for herbs de provence popovers. I’ve never made popovers before, and I loved that the recipe didn’t require me to go out and buy a special pan to make them in.

Popovers are a beautiful thing, really. The billowy tops almost beg to have a finger poked in them, but I resisted. The popovers were loaded with herbs de provence, and the savory aroma that filled the house as they baked was intoxicating.

For lunch one day, I tried the recipe for couscous salad with blue cheese and dried cranberries. I’m trying to take my lunch to work more often, and these are the kinds of salads I look for. Couscous is simple to prepare, and with the addition of a light vinaigrette and the sweet and salty add-ins of pecans, blue cheese, and dried cranberries, this is one beautiful salad. It can be made ahead, perfect for that dreaded Sunday night weekday-lunch-prep-time.

The Naptime Chef is an empowering cookbook for parents, especially new parents who are struggling to find a way to eat well while working around a little one’s schedule. In fact, this is a great book to give to a new mom or dad – it would make a wonderful baby shower gift.  It’s not comprehensive, but it’s not meant to be. Kelsey’s book is just meant to show you that eating well while raising children can be done.

*    *    *    *    *    *

the giveaway

Running Press was gracious enough to allow me to give a copy of Kelsey’s book to one of my readers, so here’s your chance to get the book in your own warm little hands.

to enter:

It’s very simple to enter — no hoops to jump through. And, while I would love it if you followed me on twitter and liked my Facebook page, it is by no means a requirement.

Since the theme of this book is all about fitting wonderful meals into a busy family life, all you have to do is leave me a comment on this post with the answer to this question:

What is your favorite weeknight meal to serve your family, and how do you fit it in your schedule?

the fine print:

I’ll close comments on Thursday, March 15 at 5pm EST, and I’ll randomly select a winner from the comments. Please, only one comment per person, and you must live in the US or Canada to win the giveaway.

Don’t want to wait for the giveaway to end? Buy The Naptime Chef right now.

*   *   *   UPDATE!   *   *   *

Time’s up and the winner of this wonderful cookbook goes to…

Congratulations, Flavia! I’m sure you’ll enjoy Kelsey’s book as much as I’m enjoying it. I love the dinner suggestion, too. It sounds like exactly what I’d love to eat right this very minute, in fact.

Yield: 4 servings.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Couscous Salad with Blue Cheese and Dried Cranberries

Kelsey notes that this salad tastes better if made at least a couple of hours in advance, to allow the flavors to meld. Chill it in the refrigerator before serving.


1-1/2 cups (10 ounces) uncooked plain couscous
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
Zest and juice of 1 medium lemon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (4 ounces) dried cranberries
1 cup (4 ounces) crumbled blue cheese
1/2 cup chopped scallions (about 3), white and light green parts only
3/4 cup (3 ounces) pecans, coarsely chopped


Prepare couscous according to package directions, making sure to fluff it with a fork when it's cooked.

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon zest, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.

Pour the prepared couscous into a large mixing bowl. Add the cranberries, blue cheese, scallions, and pecans and pour the dressing evenly over the top. Mix everything together lightly with a fork so the ingredients are lightly coated with the dressing and the mixture stays fluffy.

Taste the salad for seasoning, and add another pinch or two of salt if necessary.

Reprinted with permission from Kelsey Banfield's The Naptime Chef: Fitting Great Food into Family Life.

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45 Responses to “couscous salad with blue cheese and dried cranberries & the naptime chef cookbook giveaway”

  1. 1
    Vaishali — March 8, 2012 @ 10:16 am

    My go to weeknight meal is lentils and rice. Very quick and easy to cook after 8-hr long work day..:)

  2. 2
    jen @ one curly fry — March 8, 2012 @ 10:41 am

    That Couscous salad looks amazing!!! I need to make this ASAP! That’s so much for sharing!

  3. 3
    Zsofi — March 8, 2012 @ 10:52 am

    I’ve become best friends with my slow cooker in the past few months. Why didn’t I think of it before? One of our favorite meals is a lentil, zucchini, and beef stew that cooks all day in the crockpot and fills the house with an amazing aroma by the time we get home!

  4. 4
    randjm — March 8, 2012 @ 10:59 am

    I don’t think I have a favorite, since I have this annoying need to try new recipes all the time! But a standard backfall I love is definitely quesadillas. And how do I fit it in? Mealplan, mealplan, mealplan.

  5. 5
    amy marantino — March 8, 2012 @ 12:14 pm

    spaghetti with meatballs. i make the sauce and meatballs ahead of time and keep it in the freezer.

  6. 6
    Robyn — March 8, 2012 @ 12:33 pm

    Does re-heating leftovers count?

  7. 7
    martina — March 8, 2012 @ 12:38 pm

    we do a lot of spruced up grilled cheese {fave is gruyere, fig jam, & prosciutto} and homemade soups {williams & sonoma roasted tomato is to die for and keeps well}. it feels fancy but it’s SO easy….even after 12 hour shifts and 30 hour calls 😉 our picky eater loves to “dip dip” and will actually eat pretty much everything on her plate!

  8. 8
    Mb — March 8, 2012 @ 1:00 pm

    roasted veggies and quinoa!

  9. 9
    DessertForTwo — March 8, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

    Lately, my favorite meal is a ‘one-pan-bake.’ I’ll brush chicken breasts with mayonaisse, sprinkle on breadcrumbs & parmesan cheese, and then place them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Then, on the other half of the baking sheet, I’ll add some broccoli, cauliflower or carrots tossed with olive oil & herbs. It all roasts together! One pan, easy clean-up! Love it 🙂

  10. 10
    TK — March 8, 2012 @ 3:23 pm

    I love making a simple pasta with tomato sauce and meatballs along with some garlic bread.

  11. 11
    Kristin — March 8, 2012 @ 3:52 pm

    Tacos! Make a little guacamole and some pico and you’ve got the best dinner in town!

  12. 12
    jenna — March 8, 2012 @ 5:21 pm

    Grilled salmon , roasted carrots (with honey & cumin) and a microwave rissoto.

  13. 13
    tina — March 8, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

    I don’t often make the same thing twice, but I usually have the makings for chicken tacos on hand, so that in a pinch that’s what we can eat.

  14. 14
    Jenny — March 8, 2012 @ 6:44 pm

    I try to keep variety in our menus … but if I’m limited on time – a quick pizza, panini or pasta dish is my go to. I follow you on Facebook and Twitter 🙂

  15. 15
    Beth S — March 8, 2012 @ 7:00 pm

    I loved the chicken, broccoli and ziti at a local restaurant (but no broccoli for me, LOL) and decided to try and make it at home. Now that I’ve been making it a while, I can whip it up pretty quickly. My 3 boys love it and consider it a real treat, too.

  16. 16
    Elizabeth — March 8, 2012 @ 8:53 pm

    Our go-to weeknight dinner is pan-fried tilapia and pecan rice, because we always have the ingredients on hand!

  17. 17
    Barbara — March 9, 2012 @ 10:07 am

    That Couscous salad looks amazing, thanks for sharing! My go to weeknight meal is Spaghetti al pomodoro. Very quick and easy to cook after 8-hr long work day..:)

  18. 18
    Christy Rose — March 9, 2012 @ 11:35 am

    Taco Tuesdays! Super easy and always a crowd pleaser!

  19. 19
    Meg S — March 9, 2012 @ 12:36 pm

    My go to meal is spaghetti. I need something else though! Not sure how much more of it I can eat…

  20. 20
    Melissa — March 10, 2012 @ 4:23 am

    My old standby weeknight meal is chicken sausage (there are so many great and healthy varieties available now), quinoa, and a green salad. It is so quick to pull this together, and we always love it.

  21. 21
    Jennifer — March 10, 2012 @ 5:48 pm

    Anything using rotisierre chicken..sandwiches, fajitas, salad, sandwich….then throw the carcass in a crockpot with veggies and make a soup for the next day!

  22. 22
    Karen Lynch — March 10, 2012 @ 6:33 pm

    My favorite weeknight meal is soups or stews. I use the crockpot. It means getting up a little earlier to get the crockpot going but having dinner ready in the evening is such a relief to the hectic evening of getting family sorted for the evening.

  23. 23
    Flavia — March 10, 2012 @ 6:54 pm

    Although I don’t have children, my days can get busy, but despite the busy days, during the week {and on most weekends}, I always cook a homemade meal. One of my favorite weeknight meals to make for me and my husband is “Pasta al Forno”, which is baked rigatoni bathed in a lush béchamel sauce with diced ham and sautéed zucchini added. It’s topped with a light dusting a Parmigiano cheese before going into the oven for about 30 minutes to heat through completely. I love this dish because I can make it in advance up to the assembly and then refrigerate it. When I’m ready to get dinner on the table, I take the pasta out of the refrigerator and let it stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes to take the chill off. I then pop it in the oven and dinner is served within 30 minutes. I like to serve this with a simple green salad on the side.

  24. 24
    Michelle Christensen — March 10, 2012 @ 7:21 pm

    My go to weeknight meal is usually spaghetti or some kind of casserole. They’re so fast and easy I don’t need to do much to fit them into my schedule.

  25. 25
    Lane Gulotta — March 10, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

    We make homemade tomato sauce, pizza dough and other things in large batches to freeze. During the week we can defrost and decide what to make in less than 20 minutes. Our go to meal is usually homemade pasta and tomato sauce with basil.

  26. 26
    Michelle Murphy — March 11, 2012 @ 12:25 am

    My favorite weeknight meal is an AWESOME turkey chili from Gina, at It’s quick to prepare, delicious, and HEALTHY!

  27. 27
    Jamie — March 11, 2012 @ 8:02 pm

    My favorite weeknight meal would have to be a soup, stew or any dish made in the crockpot. It is a huge timesaving to come home from work and already have the majority of dinner made.

  28. 28
    Jonnie (JB) — March 12, 2012 @ 12:26 am

    My favorite weeknight meal is lasagna because my whole family loves it and the leftovers are awesome. I fit it in my preparing the cheese and veggies ahead of time and using no-boil noodles.

  29. Pingback: The Naptime Chef Virtual Book Tour | The Naptime Chef

  30. 29
    SANDY — March 12, 2012 @ 8:38 am

    spaghetti- or brains as my kids call it

  31. 30
    Miranda — March 12, 2012 @ 10:23 am

    I like to make spaghetti with meat sauce in the morning. It tastes better later in the day.

  32. 31
    Di — March 12, 2012 @ 1:07 pm

    Week-night fare has to be quick and light. Working in New York and commuting everyday precludes complex prep of any kind. Since we do not have children and my husband’s firefighter schedule often leaves me home alone, hors deurves has become my go-to M-Th. nights when I’m by myself. I love prepared pesto….I enjoy it on top of paper thin italian bread slices drizzled with olive oil, lightly toasted and topped with fresh mozzarella and sliced tomatoes or red roasted peppers. A glass of chianti on the side and I’m a happy camper. Another favorite is a mini pita pocket, lightly toasted and stuffed with hummus, greens, a slice of tomato and a splash of vinegarette.

  33. 32
    Scorpio Woman — March 12, 2012 @ 2:53 pm

    My favorite weeknight meal is sloppy joes. I do the meat mixture on Sunday and then just reheat in the microwave and heat the breads. So easy. And everybody’s happy!

  34. 33
    Mikala R. — March 13, 2012 @ 10:49 am

    My favorite weeknight meal is omelets. They are quick and can be customized to each person’s tastes!

  35. 34
    Angie — March 13, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    My favorite, easy weeknight meal is tacos – whatever I have around, chicken, light ground beef or black beans with roasted veggies, on Ricardo and Maria tortillas (this part is sacred and completely necessary). Normally during the summer I have fresh avocado and tomato, otherwise just a dollop of sour cream. Super easy and always delicious.

  36. 35
    Jillian Camwell — March 13, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

    I love making quiche for a busy weeknight meal…a quick one! And both my boys (2 & 4 years) eat it! We get in our protein & veggies, I can use whatever I have on-hand (fresh or freezer), and the best part is the timing! It takes 10 minutes of prep time, which I do about 10 minutes before my youngest is up from his nap at 4pm. I pop it in the oven at 4pm, get Baby Boy up, play with both boys, and it’s ready by the time Daddy is home at 5pm. I serve it with a simple salad, fresh fruit and crusty bread. Our favorite quiche is definitely spinach, onions, and mushrooms. With a pre-made piecrust, it’s a snap!

  37. 36
    Kristin — March 13, 2012 @ 7:02 pm

    My favorite thing to serve is a white bean soup, with french bread and cheese melted on top. It’s sooo good. And sadly, because I’m currently unemployed, I have plenty of time to make it! Not sure how I’ll continue was I get a job… Maybe massive cooking days on the weekend?

  38. 37
    Emily — March 13, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

    Lasagna! I make a large batch of healthy lasagna with tons of spinach, ground turkey, and whole wheat noodles and freeze it in 2 pans….that way I have two meals I can thaw it out and stick it in the oven for a quick dinner if needed.

  39. 38
    Patti — March 13, 2012 @ 11:39 pm

    I am a busy working mom of 2, a 7 yr old who will eat anything and a 3 yr old who won’t eat anything I make. I have 30 min from the time I get home til the meltdowns begin and they cry for snacks. I usually make some kind of grilled or baked chicken, a veggtable and starch. But my favorite is when I crank up the slow cooker in the morining and make Salsa chicken. 4 frozen bonless skinless breasts with 1/2 c of salsa on low for 8 hours. Perfect for tacos, and quesidillas.

  40. 39
    Kimberly P. — March 13, 2012 @ 11:44 pm

    My go to recipe for busy days is Pepperoncini beef sandwiches and the only way it’s possible is by utilizing my slow cooker! I couldn’t get my without it!

  41. 40
    barbi — March 14, 2012 @ 12:23 am

    spaghetti, so easy and quick to make. I always have the ingredients on hand.

  42. 41
    Krisla — March 15, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

    I made pulled pork the other day for my family. It’s super easy since you put everything in a slow cooker and leave it for a few hours.

  43. 42
    Lyndsey @ Sit. Stay. Cook. — March 15, 2012 @ 2:43 pm

    I love to pan-sear salmon, then serve it over rice with a quick sauce and sauteed vegetables. Trader Joe’s frozen Jasmine rice helps out huge on weeknights – takes 3 minutes in the microwave instead of 40 in a rice cooker.

  44. 43
    Anna — March 15, 2012 @ 4:00 pm

    I try to make something nice like a butternut squash pasta sauce with basil – my family loves it. And on a weekend I love to cook and my kids helps me.

  45. 44
    marla — March 17, 2012 @ 11:41 am

    LOVE this book + this recipe for couscous 🙂

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