Posted in Chicken, Comfort Food, Curry, Date Night, Dinner, Indian, One Pot Meals

The Holy Grail – Chicken Tikka Masala

I found it!  My Holy Grail!

I have been on the quest to find the perfect Chicken Tikka Masala recipe that lives up to my favorite Indian restaurants but it has alluded me.  I’ve made some good tikka but every time has just been slightly underwhelming and I haven’t been able to put my finger on why.  After many sleepless nights and lots of trial and error I finally figured it out!!

It was one of those everything stops, slow motion moments of clarity where all the pieces fall into place and you are transported to the perfect moment.

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Now that I’ve totally hyped it up, I hope you’ll give it a try and love it as much as I do!  Mine is a little spicier than you would normally get out at a restaurant but I encourage you to try it anyway.  You can eliminate the Madras curry powder and increase your garam masala for a milder dish.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

1 ½ lb. chicken breast, diced into 2-inch pieces
2 cups Greek yogurt
1 Tablespoon Garam Masala
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder (optional, increase garam masala if not using)
Salt & pepper

2 Tablespoons ghee
1 small onion, sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
4 Tablespoons garam masala
1 teaspoon fenugreek
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon Madras curry powder (optional)
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 cup chicken stock
Salt & pepper
1 15 oz. can coconut milk
Cilantro

Place chicken, yogurt and spices (through salt & pepper) in a large glass bowl and let marinate 1 hour or up to overnight.

Preheat the broiler. Place chicken on a broiler pan and cook for 10-12 minutes or until starting to turn brown and bubbly. Remove from oven and set aside.

In a large, oven safe pan with a lid, melt the ghee over medium heat. Add sliced onions and let cook for 5 minutes or until starting to turn translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, tomato paste and spices (through curry powder) and stir until combined. Turn heat to low, cover and let cook until caramelized, about 10 minutes (be sure to stir occasionally and keep an eye on it so the spices don’t burn). You can add a splash of chicken stock if the mixture starts to dry out. Put the mixture in a blender and puree until smooth.

Add onion puree back to pot with chicken, tomato sauce and chicken stock. Season with salt and pepper. Stir until combined. Cover.

Put the chicken in a 325° oven and bake for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally, or until sauce has reduced and thickened and chicken is very tender. Remove pan from oven and return to stovetop. Stir in coconut milk and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes.

Serve over rice and with naan bread. Enjoy!

Source: Ruth’s Table

Posted in Baked, Casserole, Chicken, Classic, Comfort Food, Dinner, Family Friendly, Leftovers, Make Ahead, Mushrooms, One Pot Meals, Pantry Staples, Potluck, Winter

Comfort Food – Chicken Elegant

Some days just call for comfort food.  Especially cold, rainy Sundays that start at 5:30am with a busted water heater that leaked down through the floor into the neighbors apartment.  That’s not the way you make friends!!

Don’t mind me.  I’ll just be over here with this pan of deliciousness and a fork.

This was one of the very first recipes I remember making entirely by myself as a kid.  It’s super simple to put together, especially if you have leftover chicken just hanging out in the fridge.  The only thing you have to be careful about is taking the hot pan in and out of the oven.  This recipe has been a part of our regular repertoire for years!  It’s simple, inexpensive, and quick to get to the table.  It’s great recipe to make with your kids or let them take the reigns while you sit back and relax!

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It’s not really a looker but it is so tasty!

Chicken Elegant

3 chicken breasts, cooked and diced
1 8 oz. container sour cream
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 10 oz. can of mushrooms
¼ cup butter, melted
1 cup chicken broth
1 8 oz. package of herb stuffing

Preheat oven to 350°.

Mix chicken, sour cream, cream of chicken soup, mushrooms, butter, and chicken broth together with herb stuffing. Bake in a 9×13 pan for 45 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.

Source: Randy Travis’ Favorite Recipes, 1989.

You’ll notice my source is a cookbook written by Randy Travis.  I was a huge fan of his when I was little (who am I kidding I still love me some Randy) and picked up this gem at his museum in Nashville back in the 90s.  My mom recently uncovered it in a box of my stuff I’d left at their house after college.  It’s a great little piece of nostalgia for me and there are actually some great, simple recipes in there that I had completely forgotten about but will probably find their way back into the rotation.

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Tomorrow is Monday, I need all the comfort I can get right now, ha!  And I have leftovers for lunch!

Posted in Asian flare, Baked, Baking, Cheese, Chicken, Comfort Food, Cooking for Two, Curry, Date Night, Dinner, Family Friendly, Pantry Staples, Pizza, Quick cooking, Restuarant Knock-off, Summer

It’s Not Delivery – Curry Chicken Pizza

Ugh, Monday.  And tax day.  That’s should be against the law or something.  That’s a lot of “ugh” to handle at the beginning of the week!  And I don’t know about y’all but taxes were brutal this year!  Oh the joys of self-employment. 🙂

Making it through this day, or any rough day, calls for pizza.  Pizza is comfort.  Pizza is joy.  Pizza is one of my favorite ways to mash up some of my favorite flavors and create something new and exciting.

I can’t take all the credit for this one though.  We recently went to a pub/sports bar in Clarksville and got super excited about a curry chicken pizza on the menu.  We ordered it with high expectations and ended up pretty disappointed.  It was good but not as good as I knew it could be.  No worries though, I decided to take to the kitchen and put my own stamp on it.  Success on the first try!!

This pizza comes together quickly thanks to a prepared pizza crust.  It is also very budget friendly for me (I need that after tax day!) because all the ingredients for the sauce are some of my pantry staples.  Pizza is very forgiving so take a look at what you have in the cupboard, think about your favorite dishes, and get creative!

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Curry Chicken Pizza

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded
1 cup caramelized onions*
1 small red bell pepper, diced
Mozzarella cheese
1 prepared pizza crust (or homemade if you have the time)
1 5oz. can tomato sauce
Splash of chicken stock (I always have a box of stock open in the fridge, water also works fine)
2 Tablespoons red curry paste
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
Pinch of sugar
Salt & Pepper
Cilantro

Preheat a pizza stone or cookie sheet in a 400° oven.

In a small saucepan, combine tomato sauce and next 6 ingredients (through S&P). Bring to a simmer and cook until sauce is fragrant.

To assemble pizza, spread sauce in a thin layer over prepared dough (use as much or as little as you like, depending on how saucy you like it), add shredded chicken, onions, bell pepper and top with shredded cheese. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until desired browned bubbliness.

Garnish with cilantro, slice and devour!

*For the caramelized onions, slice one small onion thin.  In a pan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter and olive oil over medium heat.  Add onions and saute until fragrant.  Reduce heat to low, add salt & pepper and cook until brown and caramelized, about 20 minutes.

Source: Ruth’s Table

Posted in Chicken, Cooking for Two, Dinner, Family Friendly, Grilling, Healthy, Marinade, Pantry Staples, Quick cooking, Summer, Veggies

Pantry Staples – Greek Marinade

Spring has finally sprung!  The sun is shining.  The birds are singing. My eyes itch and I’m sneezing my head off.  Darn it, I’m still going to enjoy the beautiful weather!

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Now that the weather is nice I start craving all kinds of spring/summer foods.  I want to be grilling, eating veggies, and making all kinds of fresh salads.  BUT I don’t want to spend a lot of time in a hot kitchen.  Give me quick and easy and I’m a happy camper!

My biggest tip for putting together a quick and easy dinner is to make sure you keep your pantry stocked with a variety of things to throw together a meal quickly and with very little effort.  One of my favorite, go-to pantry marinades is my Greek Marinade.  I use it on chicken, shrimp, veggies, fish.  It is so versatile and easy to put together!  Pair some chicken with a quick side dish of veggie couscous and you’re set.

For marinades I almost never actually measure ingredients.  Once you’ve done it a time or two you’ll get it just the way you like it.  My rule of thumb for a marinade is pretty simple: 2 parts oil, 1 part acid, salt & pepper, herbs and spices of your choice.  The best method though is just to taste it.  You know what you like. Trust your instincts!

Greek Marinade

Olive oil
White balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar
Zest and juice of one lemon
Salt & pepper
Greek seasoning blend (the brand I use has onion, garlic, oregano, mint)

Put all the ingredients in a mason jar and shake it up. Marinate your choice of protein or veggies for about 15 minutes.

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Other variations:

Asian-olive oil, a dash of sesame oil, orange juice, rice wine vinegar, Sambal Olek (instead of pepper), soy sauce (instead of salt), garlic, ginger, honey

Southwest-olive oil, lime juice, red wine vinegar, salt & pepper, cumin, chili powder, garlic, cilantro, splash of tequila

Greek Grilled Chicken and Veggie Couscous is one of our regular rotation meals.  It’s super simple, comes together in about 25 minutes, and is light and healthy.  You can have dinner on the table with very little fuss, very few dirty dishes, and can be back to enjoying the warm weather and extra hours of sunshine in no time!

Greek Grilled Chicken and Veggie Couscous

For chicken:
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast
Greek marinade

For couscous:
1 box couscous, cooked according to package directions
Olive oil
1 medium red onion, diced
2 medium zucchini, cut into rounds
Grape tomatoes, halved if they’re really big
Garlic
Salt & pepper

For sauce:
1 cup greek yogurt or mayonnaise
1 cup feta cheese
Juice of a lemon
Parsley, chopped
Salt & pepper

Preheat oven to 350.

Put the chicken in the marinade while you’re gathering your other ingredients, about 15 minutes. Preheat a grill pan over medium high heat. Once the pan is hot, add the chicken and grill 2 minutes per side until you have some nice grill marks. Pop in the oven for about 10 minutes to finish cooking. Remove chicken when done and let rest a minute before serving.

While chicken is in the oven, preheat a large saute pan over medium high heat. Add olive oil and onion, saute until translucent. Add the zucchini and cook for a minute or two until it starts to brown a little. Add garlic and saute about 30 seconds until fragrant. Turn heat down to medium and add tomatoes and cook, stirring for another minute or until they start to pop and release a little liquid. Add the couscous, salt and pepper and toss together.

For the sauce, mix all ingredients together and serve with chicken and couscous.

To serve: top the vegetable couscous with a chicken breast (sliced to make the presentation pretty) and a tablespoon of the sauce. Garnish with a little chopped parsley and lemon zest if you want.

Source: Ruth’s Table

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Posted in Cajun, Chicken, Comfort Food, Dinner, Make Ahead, Mardi Gras, One Pot Meals, Shrimp, Slow Cooker, Winter

Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Y’all, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this is the best crock-pot recipe I have ever created.  Whoa!

Maybe it was so delicious because it’s 20 degrees and snowy outside.  Or maybe it’s because I love cajun food.  Or maybe it’s because I love coming home to dinner already done so I can stuff my face.  If I’m being honest it’s all those reasons!

If you take a look back you’ll remember that I absolutely love things like etouffe, beignets, and bananas foster. I love to spend time in the kitchen creating authentic meals but there just isn’t time to do that on a week night. That’s where the crock-pot comes in! I have to say I’m impressed with the depth of flavor that’s achieved in this slow-cooked version of another one of my favorites.

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Chicken, Andouille, and Shrimp Jambalaya

1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 large onion, chopped
2 green bell peppers, diced
1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes
1 15 oz. can tomato sauce
1 5 oz. can tomato paste
1 cup chicken stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 bay leaves
2 Tablespoons creole seasoning (I use Zatarain’s)
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, depending on how spicy you like it
20 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 lb. andouille sausage, sliced and seared in a skillet and drained
To serve: white rice, parsley, hot sauce

In the bowl of a crock-pot, layer onions, bell peppers and chicken breast. Add diced tomatoes and next 7 ingredients (through cayenne) and cook on low 8 hours.

After 8 hours, remove lid and find and remove the bay leaves. Shred the chicken. Add shrimp and andouille and cook on high, uncovered for about 25 minutes (I did this while the rice was cooking). Serve over rice with a sprinkle of parsley and a few dashes of hot sauce if you choose.

Source: Ruth’s Table

Posted in Autumn, Chicken, Curry, Kale, One Pot Meals, Potatoes, Slow Cooker

Slow-Cooker Sunday – Chicken, Potato, and Kale Curry

Some weekends are just so busy that my husband and I only connect as one or the other of us is running out the door.  We had one like that a few weeks ago when he was working shows and I had an event and the only time were were actually going to be in the same room was for lunch on Sunday.

Then came the dilemma.

Do we have time to go somewhere for brunch?  Probably not.  There will be an hour wait.  All I’ll want to do is eat french toast and drink mimosas and will never make it to work on time (not to mention that delicious food coma that will hit right as I have to be “on”).  Do we just throw together a quick sandwich at home?  Sure.  That’s fine, but kinda boring.  When this is the one time we get to hang out and spend time together for the weekend it would be nice to actually feel like our meal is special.

Good thing I have a slow-cooker and know how to use it. 🙂

Indian food is a great idea when it comes to a slow-cooker.  A lot of Indian dishes require quite a bit of stove time and get better the longer they’re allowed to simmer so it makes total sense.  You know I love to spend time in the kitchen creating delicious dishes but even I can get impatient.

My Chicken, Potato and Kale Curry is the perfect dish to throw in the slow-cooker the night before and enjoy for lunch on Sunday.

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Slow-Cooker Chicken, Potato and Kale Curry

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 small onion, diced

3 garlic cloves

3 Tablespoons tomato paste

1 Tablespoon Garam Masala

1 teaspoon curry powder

1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated

1 teaspoon coriander

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (optional, depending on how hot you like it)

2 cups low-sodium chicken stock

1 small can tomato sauce

Salt & Pepper

1/2 pound yukon gold potatoes, diced

1 small bunch kale

Splash of half & half

To serve: cilantro, chopped cashews, rice, naan

  1. Put chicken, onion, and next 10 ingredients in the bowl of a slow-cooker.  Cook on low for 8 hours.
  2. Add the kale and half & half.  Season with salt & pepper and let cook another 20 minutes.
  3. Serve over rice, top with cilantro and cashews.

Source: Ruth’s Table

Posted in Autumn, Butternut Squash, Cheese, Chicken, Comfort Food, Leftovers, Macaroni and Cheese, One Pot Meals, Veggies

Weeknight Warrior – Chicken, Broccoli, and Tomato Mac

Let’s face it, all of us are CRAZY busy these days.  The thought of coming home to fix a dinner after sitting in rush hour traffic forever, or picking the kids up from school and driving them three different places for soccer, ballet, or whatever the latest phase is absolutely sends us into a panic attack.  Oh, and we want it to be something healthy and affordable.  Oh and did I mention that there will be loads of dishes to clean up after?  Yeah, I can see how that would be the last thing anyone would want to do.

I often get asked how I find the time to make all the meals I make (and post on Facebook and Instagram, I’ve become “that” person).  BUT anyone can do it.  Really.  Not kidding.  All it takes is a little time and planning.  Okay, okay, I know don’t shoot me!  Time is what we don’t have!  I get it.  I really do.  But trust me when I say scheduling in just a couple hours in your week will make things a lot easier.  Your health, your family, and your bank account will thank me.  🙂

Here’s what I do:

Friday evening – 30 minutes = I plan my menu for the next week, including breakfast, lunch, and dinners and make my grocery list. 

  • My husband works a lot of evenings so he always lets me know what nights to plan on his being there.  I think about things for dinner that will leave him leftovers that he can take with him or warm up quickly to eat before he goes or I can pack to take for lunch.
  • We do a lot of homemade frozen burritos, frittatas, and smoothies for on-the-go healthy breakfasts.
  • Soup or casseroles are great options.  Just throw together a quick salad and you’ve got a full meal.
  • I keep a notebook of each week’s menu plans so that way if I get stuck one week it’s easy to refer back to the things we’ve liked along the way.  If it’s a new recipe I always make a note of the source and if we liked it, what changes I would make, etc.
  • I double check my pantry items to make sure I don’t need to replace those.  This helps make meals quick and easy to throw together.
  • Try to think of ingredients that you can use for multiple meals in the week.  For instance, I buy the family-pack of chicken breasts and use two in a casserole on Sunday, then I grill the rest, will have a couple with some quick roasted veggies and rice one night and then use the rest in salads for my lunch.  Easy as that.

Saturday morning – 1 hour = grocery shopping.

  • I can’t express enough how important it is to have a plan and a list.  I am one of those people who has my list organized like my grocery store is organized.  I can get in and out in less than an hour (driving to and from included) and I don’t have the urge to splurge on a lot of things I don’t need.

Sunday afternoon – 1 to 2 hours = prep for the week.

  • I make a pot of soup, casserole, crock-pot meal, etc. on Sunday and usually that’s what we have for dinner that night.  Leftovers are then packed in individual containers for a quick brown bag lunch.
  • Prep our on-the-go breakfasts and pop in the freezer.
  • If I’m making anything to go with lunches (i.e. broccoli salad, pasta salad, etc.) I make it and pop it in the fridge.
  • Clean any fruits and veggies you want for snacks.

I know that might look daunting but once you get in the habit of doing it it becomes even easier.

Ok, I couldn’t have you read all that and not give you a delicious, healthy, quick weeknight recipe.  This is one that is in our regular rotation.  You’re in and out of the kitchen in about 30 minutes, there’s only one pot to clean AND you sneak in an extra serving of veggies that the kids won’t even notice.  I say that’s a winner all around!!

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Weeknight Chicken, Broccoli, and Tomato Mac

2 center-cut bacon slices, chopped

2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups unsalted chicken stock

1 cup 1% low-fat milk

1 (10-ounce) package frozen butternut squash puree, thawed

10 ounce uncooked large elbow macaroni

3 cups chopped broccoli florets

1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced in half

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

5 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded and divided (about 1 1/4 cups)


  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add bacon; cook 4 minutes or until crisp, stirring occasionally. Remove bacon from pan.
  2. Add the diced chicken breast and cook until no longer pink.  Add garlic sauté 30 seconds.
  3. Add stock, milk, and squash to pan; bring to a boil, stirring occasionally.
  4. Add pasta; cover, ­reduce heat, and ­simmer 5 minutes, ­stirring occasionally. Stir in broccoli and tomatoes; cover and cook 3 minutes or until pasta is done and sauce is thickened.
  5. Stir in salt, pepper, and 4 ounces cheese. Sprinkle bacon and remaining cheese on top. Cover; let stand 1 minute.
  6.  Dish up, serve with a salad and ENJOY!

Source: Adapted from Cooking Light Magazine, September 2015.