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.

Anton Ego GIF - Anton Ego Ratatouille GIFs

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 Comfort Food, Date Night, Dinner, Family Friendly, Lunch, Make Ahead, Pork, Sandwiches, Slow Cooker, Summer, Vacation Food

Key West State of Mind -Cuban Sandwiches

I have a confession to make.  Some days I just want to run away and be a starving artist in some place beautiful and inspiring.

This feeling usually hits me about mid-week when I’m bogged down with work and life and Friday is just out of reach.  I especially feel this way when it’s the middle of May and dreary and chilly (less than 60 degrees, in May, in the South, what?! Remind me that I was complaining about this when it’s sweltering in August).

On days like today I dream of warm places, filled with culture, interesting people, and of course great food.

Five years ago we visited Key West for the wedding of some very dear friends and absolutely fell in love with the laid back atmosphere.  I often dream of warm, lazy days sitting on the porch, drinking, rum, and reading Hemingway with my pet cat.

Speaking of Hemingway, I’ve become slightly (okay maybe not so slightly) obsessed with him and his time in Key West since we visited there.  After visiting his home and his stomping grounds I am completely fascinated with that time and way of island life.

My husband and I often talk about the day when we win the lottery and run away to Key West.  We have a dream of opening a restaurant, cocktail lounge, and cigar bar combo that has just the right amount of class but still that not a care in the world vibe that would be the place that discerning “tourists” and locals would call home (or home away from home).  This all means a lot of rum, international flavors, and all things Cuban of course.

A girl can dream, right?!

So when I’m missing Key West, I make myself a good Cuban Sandwich, shake up a classic daiquiri, and get lost in the world of The Old Man and the Sea.  Maybe one day we’ll call that world home. 🙂

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Cuban Sandwiches
(makes 4-6 sandwiches)

 

Mojo Pork:
1-2 pound pork roast or boneless pork ribs
Juice of one orange
Juice of one lemon
Juice of one lime
½ cup chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 Tablespoon dried Mexican oregano
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 small onion, chopped
Salt & pepper

 

Cuban rolls
½ pound deli ham
Mojo Pork
Swiss cheese
Yellow mustard
Bread & butter pickles (I prefer homemade but your favorite store bought is great too!)
Butter

 

For the pork: Put all of the ingredients for the pork in the bowl of a slow-cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours. Shred the pork for sandwiches. (Any leftover pork you have is great served over rice, with black beans, and some fried plantains!)

 

To assemble sandwiches:

Butter the outside of the Cuban rolls. Spread mustard on each half. Top one half with swiss cheese, a couple slices of ham, a good amount of pork (not too much or everything will fall out when you press it), and pickles. Top with the other half of the roll.

Press sandwiches on a panini press (or in a cast iron skillet topped with another heavy skillet) for 3-4 minutes until toasty and the cheese is melty.

 

Source: Ruth’s Table

 

Posted in Asian flare, Beef, Cinco de Mayo, Comfort Food, Date Night, Dinner, Fusion, Mexican, Pantry Staples, Slow Cooker, Summer, Tacos

Taco Tuesday – Korean BBQ Tacos

My boss recently asked me what my favorite thing is to cook.  I’m always at a loss on how to answer that.  The answer could change every week, every day even!  It’s really hard to pinpoint just one thing that’s my favorite.  I just love to cook!  Period. 🙂

When I get asked that question I almost always respond with:

What time of year is it?  Is it spring and asparagus is in season?  If so, then simple roasted asparagus or spring pasta with asparagus, peas, and herbed breadcrumbs.  

Is it summer and perfect grilling weather? Then a juicy cheeseburger with a big slice of heirloom tomato.  

Is it cold and rainy so all I want is soup?  Well then that could be butternut squash soup, posole, or chili.  

Are we talking Asian food?  Stirfry, Pad Thai, potstickers, I could go on and on.  Give me everything Asian.

Mexican food?  Enchiladas, every kind imaginable.  

All American food?  Definitely a recipe from my childhood, either meatloaf or my Pappa’s pork chops.

Well, what about desserts?  Lemony (my preferenc)?  Chocolatey?  Cookies?  Pies?  

Do I have all day to work on a meal?  Definitely something “fancier” like roasted chicken or beef bourguignon.

Or am I just getting in the door after sitting in traffic for an hour and want something super quick?  Greek Chicken and Couscous it is.

Am I cooking for family?  Friends?  Just me and my husband?  Just me?  What day of the week is it?!

Well, if it’s Tuesday that could very well mean tacos at my house.  Taco Tuesday has definitely become a thing for me lately and I’ll put it in writing that they are probably my favorite thing to cook.  Today.  Or until someone asks me that again.

I’ve been experimenting quite a bit lately and have finally perfected what has become one of my favorite fusion recipes.  I am a HUGE Asian food fan and my hubby is a big Mexican food fan so I smashed it all together (and took some cues from one of our go-to date night places) and voila, Korean BBQ Tacos.

This Taco Tuesday inspiration is just in time for Cinco de Mayo.  Why not change things up and try something new?!  AND it’s a perfect Slow-Cooker Sunday meal too.  It’s perfect to prep ahead of time to make Taco Tuesday super easy after a long, hard day at work!

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Korean BBQ Tacos

2 lb. beef roast
Hoisin, heaping tablespoon

Korean BBQ Sauce:
1/2 cup hoisin
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 Tablespoon ginger, grated
1 Tablespoon lemongrass, grated
3 cloves garlic
2 Tablespoons honey
Sesame oil
Rice wine vinegar, just a splash
Liquid smoke, just a few drops

To serve:
Flour tortillas
Shredded cabbage
Pickled vegetables
Cilantro
Siracha mayo
Limes

Mix all bbq sauce ingredients together. Put beef roast in the bowl of a slow-cooker. Pour sauce over beef. Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Shred the beef and cook in batches until just a little crispy around the edges. Add a heaping tablespoon of hoisin to make it saucy.

To serve, warm tortillas, top with beef, shredded cabbage, pickled vegetables, cilantro and siracha mayo.

Source: Ruth’s Table

 

 

Posted in Cheese, Comfort Food, Date Night, Dinner, Indulgence, Italian, Mushrooms, One Pot Meals, Pasta, Quick cooking, Veggies

Happy Birthday to Me – Asparagus and Mushroom Carbonara

It’s my birthday so I can eat whatever I want, right?!  Duh.  Of course I can.  Calories don’t count on your birthday.

Today has been an awesome day filled with amazing friends.  From my staff who decorated my office with balloons and streamers, to my co-workers who conspired with them to schedule an important meeting (scheduling it a week ago so I wasn’t suspicious!) only to surprise me with cake, to all the texts,  phone calls, emails, Facebook messages, and topped off with a quiet, cozy night at home with my hubby this girl is feeling super loved!

Some people may think I’m weird for making my own birthday dinner but you know me, I love to cook!  AND I got to stay in my yoga pants, bonus!!

So what did I choose as this year’s birthday dinner?  One of my absolute favorite pasta dishes of course, carbonara.  With the addition of in season asparagus and my favorite go-to ingredient, mushrooms, it was the perfect, creamy, comforting meal to celebrate!
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Asparagus and Mushroom Carbonara

1 shallot, sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
½ lb. asparagus, sliced into bite-sized pieces
8 oz. mixed mushrooms
12 oz. spaghetti
Kosher salt
2 oz. proscuitto, finely chopped (about ¼ cup)
½ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
⅓ cup grated Pecorino plus more
2 large egg yolks, beaten to blend
2 Tbsp. olive oil, divided

Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large skillet over high heat. Working in batches, add shallots, garlic, asparagus, and mushrooms and cook, tossing occasionally, until charred in spots and crisp-tender, about 5 minutes; transfer to a plate and set aside. Wipe out skillet.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally, until al dente (about 7 minutes). Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta cooking liquid.

Meanwhile, heat remaining 1 Tbsp. oil in same skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto and cook, stirring often, until slightly crisp, about 4 minutes. Add pepper and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Immediately add ½ cup pasta cooking liquid to keep pepper from burning; reduce heat to low and gradually add butter, swirling skillet and adding more pasta cooking liquid as needed, until a thick, glossy sauce forms. (Taste as you go and switch to hot water once sauce is adequately seasoned.)

Add pasta to skillet and toss to coat. Add Pecorino; toss to combine. Remove from heat; mix in egg yolks. Add reserved veggies; toss, adding pasta cooking liquid (or hot water) as needed to thin sauce.

Serve pasta topped with more Pecorino.

Adapted from a recipe by Philip Krajek, Rolf & Daughters, Nashville – Bon Appétit Magazine, September 2013

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 Comfort Food, Cooking for Two, Date Night, Dinner, Healthy, Mushrooms, Quick cooking, Vegetarian, Veggies

Meatless Monday – Farro Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

I decided several years ago that I was going to give up meat for a month. I was doing it as a part of a fast with my church that asked us to give something up to refocus. I decided on meat and to focus on regaining control over my health. I’ve always been a lover of vegetables and meat is often an afterthought when I’m just cooking for myself so I thought it would be a breeze. There was only one problem. The first week of our fast included Memorial Day! How on earth did I miss that?! It also happened to be a weekend we were in Ohio celebrating my sister-in-law graduating so we were hosting a cookout! Seriously, I’m not sure how I made it but by the grace of God I did.

During that time I learned a lot of new techniques and recipes and how to adapt them so that my meat loving hubby would enjoy them too. Over the years I’ve tried to make it a habit of making the majority of our meal vegetables while keeping our meat consumption reasonable. I even thrown in the occasional meatless meal that is still packed with protein. With the increased availability of a lot cool grains and exotic veggies that makes things super easy!

One of my favorite things to make, especially when I’m going meatless, is risotto. A lot of people think risotto is difficult to make but really you can have dinner on the table in about 30 minutes start-to-finish. The only thing risotto requires is a little patience. It isn’t a meal you can just pop on the stove and walk away from. The repetitve stirring is very therapeutic after a long day though, trust me. 🙂

I have recently discovered a love for farro. It has a nutty flavor and a chewy texture which make it a great option for meatless meals. It’s a great source of fiber and protein so it will fill you up and you won’t even miss the meat! Throw in meaty mushrooms and you’re all set!
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Farro Risotto with Balsamic Mushrooms

1 shallot, minced
1 garlic clove, minced
1 cup farro
1/2 cup dry white wine (a big glug)
2 cups vegetable stock
1 cup water
Bay leaf
Mixed mushrooms (I get a package that includes cremini, oyster, and shitake)
Thyme
Parsley, chopped
2 tablespoons butter
Splash of balsamic vinegar
Olive oil
Asiago cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat vegetable stock, water and bay leaf until just below a simmer.

Heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat. Add one tablespoon olive oil. Saute shallots and garlic for about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add farro and toast about 30 seconds. Add wine and stir until absorbed. Reduce heat to medium and add one ladle of stock. Stir off and on until liquid is absorbed, add another ladle of stock. Keep repeating until farro is tender and creamy. This will take 23-25 minutes. I always set a timer and taste for texture starting at about 20 minutes.

Finish with thyme leaves, parsley, one tablespoon butter, salt & fresh cracked pepper, and grated Asiago.

For the mushrooms, heat olive oil in a pan over medium high heat (I use a cast iron pan so they get nice and brown). Lower heat to medium. Add butter, sprig of thyme, and mushrooms. Leave them alone for a minute so they start getting brown and a little crispy. Cook 2-3 minutes. Add balsamic vinegar and cook another 30 seconds until balsamic is a little syrupy. Season with salt & pepper. Remove thyme sprig.

Serve risotto topped with mushrooms and lots of shaved asiago.

Serves 2.

Source: Ruth’s Table

This is a perfect “fancy” dish to impress a date. I can’t wait to make this for my hubby on our next date night in!

Posted in Appetizers, Autumn, Comfort Food, Date Night, Fall, Healthy, Holiday, Nuts, One Pot Meals, Party Worthy, Potatoes, Soup, Supper Club, Vegetarian, Winter

Soup’s On!

How many times do you catch yourself saying “we should really get together more often” or “let’s do this again real soon” when you’re hanging out with friends?  How many times do you actually follow through?  We all have good intentions but “life” gets in the way and we go months before making plans.  When we finally do we have such a great time and then make the same promises all over again.

IMG_0895Well, I’m VERY thankful for friends who take the initiative, make a date, invite us all and stick to it.  We should all be more like that!!

Our friend Nick is exactly this kind of person.  We have been talking for month’s about getting together and cooking for each other and hanging out and we’ve just kept putting it off.  Finally, a couple weeks ago Nick just picked a date, invited us over and told us to bring soup.  The monthly Foodie Pow Wow was born.

My contribution to this culinary endeavor was one of my favorite go-to soups.  You really can’t go wrong with rich, silky butternut squash in the winter time.

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Roasted Butternut Squash Soup with Spiced Granola

    • 1 (2 1/2 pound) butternut squash
    • Cooking spray
    • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion
    • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
    • 4 cups vegetable stock
    • 2 cups water
    • 2 cups peeled, diced sweet potato
    • 2 teaspoons fresh sage
    • 3/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 1 tablespoon honey

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut squash in half lengthwise, spoon out seeds.  Place squash flesh side down on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil and coated with cooking spray.  Bake for 30 minutes or until the squash is tender.  Remove from oven and let cool.  Remove peel and mash the pulp.

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onion, saute for 2-3 minutes or until starting to brown around the edges.  Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds until fragrant.  Add the squash, vegetable stock and the next six ingredients (through bay leaves) and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat and let simmer for 45 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.  Remove bay leaves.

Place one-third of vegetable mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Repeat procedure twice with remaining squash mixture. Return pureed mixture to pan; cook over medium heat 3 minutes or until thoroughly heated.  Stir in honey.  Top individual servings with spiced granola.

Spiced Granola

  • 1/2 cup rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • Pinch of salt
  • Cracked black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 teaspoon fresh sage, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

In a small bowl, mix oats, walnuts, garam masala, salt and pepper.  Spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake for 10-15 minutes or until fragrant, stirring once.  Remove from oven and add honey, cranberries and sage.  Let cool.

Source: Soup adapted from Cooking Light http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/roasted-butternut-soup-with-goat-cheese-toasts-10000001932617/, Granola by Ruth’s Table

Our other delicious creations…

Red Beans & Rice
Red Beans & Rice
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Steak and Black Bean Chili with Cornbread Waffles
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
Cornbread Waffles (yummy!)
My favorite jams!http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
My favorite jams!  Goes great with cheese!
http://www.bathtubginonline.com/
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake (recipe for another day!)
Balsamic Strawberries and pound cake
(recipe for another day!)

“Do you have a kinder, more adaptable friend in the food world than soup? Who soothes you when you are ill? Who refuses to leave you when you are impoverished and stretches its resources to give a hearty sustenance and cheer? Who warms you in the winter and cools you in the summer? Yet who also is capable of doing honor to your richest table and impressing your most demanding guests? Soup does its loyal best, no matter what undignified conditions are imposed upon it. You don’t catch steak hanging around when you’re poor and sick, do you?” – Judith Martin (Miss Manners)

Stay tuned for scenes from our next Foodie Pow Wow…