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 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 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.