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 Breakfast, Brunch, Christmas, Classic, Comfort Food, Cooking for one, Cooking for Two, Dinner, Family Friendly, Healthy, Holiday, Homemade, Leftovers, Lunch, One Pot Meals, Pantry Staples, Potatoes, Quick cooking, Turkey, Veggies, Winter

You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grinch!

Merry Christmas readers!

I don’t know about you but I’m pooped!  Every year I tell myself that I’m going to simplify the holidays but then somehow one party turns into three, the number of presents to wrap keeps growing, I’ll bake just one more batch of cookies, the holidays in non-profit world keep getting busier (not that I’m complaining about all the people we’re helping!), traveling gets more hectic.  And then all of a sudden it’s over and I realize I didn’t stop and remember the reason I feel compelled to do all that to start with.

I’m challenging myself over the next couple days before Christmas to slow down, enjoy time with family, remember to take a little “me” time and don’t forget to breathe.  One way I’ll do that is to relax and enjoy some of the little traditions we do this week.

One of my absolute favorite things to do during the holidays is curl up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa (and homemade marshmallows), a fuzzy blanket, and my husband and watch classic Christmas movies and cartoons.  Each time I settle down to watch Charlie Brown, White Christmas or Claymation Christmas I feel a calm settle on me.  I get super sappy and nostalgic when I watch those things.  I remember the childlike wonder and amazement of the Christmas season and at least for a few minutes all is right in the world.

My very favorite Christmas cartoon is How the Grinch Stole Christmas.  Not only do I love everything Dr. Seuss, I love the reminder that Christmas isn’t about things and being busy, it’s about the quality time we spend with family and friends celebrating the season.

He puzzled and puzzled till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. Maybe Christmas, he thought… doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps… means a little bit more!

Let’s all take our queue from Mr. Grinch and Whoville and remember…

Welcome, Christmas, bring your cheer. Cheer to all Whos far and near. Christmas Day is in our grasp, so long as we have hands to clasp. Christmas Day will always be just as long as we have we. Welcome Christmas while we stand, heart to heart, and hand in hand.


Hash is a great way to use up leftover meat and veggies that are hanging in the fridge around the holidays.  I love to make hash and every time I do I can’t help but think of the Grinch slinking through Cindy Lou’s house stealing everything including the Who hash!

This hash combines sweet potatoes, brussel sprouts and homemade turkey chorizo for a filling breakfast fit for a Christmas morning full of opening presents!!

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 Then he slunk to the ice box. He took the Whos’ feast, he took the Who pudding, he took the roast beast. He cleaned out that ice box as quick as a flash. Why, the Grinch even took their last can of Who hash.

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The Grinch’s Who Hash

Olive oil
Garlic
1 cup red onion, diced
1 large red bell pepper, diced
1 poblano pepper, diced
2 cups sweet potato, pre-cooked (this is a great way to use leftover roasted potatoes)
2 cups brussel sprouts, sliced thin
Homemade chorizo (recipe below)
Fried eggs
To finish: salsa, cilantro, cotija cheese (all optional)

Turkey Chorizo
1 lb. ground turkey breast
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
1 teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
¼ teaspoon cracked black pepper
Splash of apple cider vinegar

To make chorizo: Mix all spices and apple cider vinegar together to make a paste.  Mix it with the turkey until thoroughly combined.

Heat a large cast iron skillet over medium high heat. When hot, add a big glug of olive oil and let heat. Add chorizo and cook 4-5 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from pan.

Heat a little more olive oil in the hot pan. Add garlic and cook until fragrant (about 30 seconds). Add onion, bell pepper and poblanos and cook until slightly charred around the edges. Add sweet potatoes and brussel sprouts and cook another 5 minutes or so until all the veggies are cooked through and a little crispy around the edges. Add the chorizo back to the pan and season with salt and pepper.

To serve: top the hash with two eggs any way you like them. I prefer over easy with all their yolky goodness. Top with a little of your favorite salsa, cilantro and a sprinkling of cotija cheese. Yum!

Source: Ruth’s Table

You’re a rotter, Mr. Grinch / You’re the king of sinful sots / Your heart’s a dead tomato splotched with moldy purple spots / Mr. Gri-inch! / You’re a three-decker sauerkraut and toadstool sandwich with arsenic sauce!

I bet if the Grinch started his day with this hash he wouldn’t have been so Grinchy!  🙂

What’s your favorite Dr. Seuss book?

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 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