Looking on a the positive side of things, I will have to say that one of the best things in the past month has been able to see a lot of my mom and brother – 2 of the most special people in this world. I know my mom thinks she’s imposing, but I seriously love it when they are here. It basically makes it feel like a vacation, because usually when we are all together – it is a vacation. Of course having “house guests” also makes me like a grown up, which is really just like “playing house”- with a slightly more sophisticated (and dangerous) fisher price set. Because I really wanted to impress them with my domestic skills, I carefully planned a few things to make when they came. One of them was an old favorite, stuffed green pepper soup, and the other was this Chicken Tikka Masala. I’m pretty sure they will be coming back again soon :-).
My mom, who claims to not really like curry, couldn’t stop raving about how deep the flavors are in this dish, and my brother stated that it was the best chicken tikka masala he had ever had (even better than some posh Asheville Indian restaurant he loves). I purposely waited a while to post this, because I wanted to see how the leftovers would be after freezing them for a while – and I can now safely say that they are still delicious. I froze the chicken, then thawed it and reheated it, adding just a little bit more milk and John and I still loved it! I would recommend making the whole batch, even if you don’t think you’ll be able to finish it all, because the frozen leftovers really are convenient.
Please don’t be intimidated by the seemingly long ingredient list, it is actually a really simple dinner and there is very little prep work. I chose to brown the meat first because it tends to add a depth of flavor, but if you don’t want to dirty another pan feel free to simply put all the ingredients in the crockpot without pre-browning. I was also really excited to finally use the Garam Masala I had bought way back when from Penzey’s. If you don’t have a Penzey’s nearby, I noticed when I was home at Christmas that even local grocery stores carry this spice. Having never used it before, I was a little worried about using a full 3 tablespoons of it. But never fear – it’s not nearly as strong as you might think and the dish was seasoned perfectly. My last pre-recipe suggestion would be to adjust the cream in this recipe for your liking. The original called for 1 1/2 cups of heavy (whipping) cream. That seemed like an awful lot, so I dialed it down and added some more greek yogurt at the end. Feel free to play with it a bit to get it the creaminess you would like.
Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala
For the Chicken:
- 9 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Coriander
- 1 Tablespoon Ground Cumin
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Jalapeno Pepper, Stem Removed, Pepper Pierced Several Times With a fork
For the Sauce:
- 3 Tablespoons Butter
- 1 whole Large Onion, Peeled And Diced
- 6 cloves Garlic, Peeled And Minced
- 1 Tablespoon Kosher Salt
- 3 Tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 piece Fresh Ginger, About 2-3 Inches, Peeled And Grated
- 4 cups canned Crushed Tomatoes
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/4 to 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (depending on preference)
- 1 cup greek yogurt
- White Rice
- Chopped Fresh Cilantro
1) Cut the boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1- 1 1/2 inch pieces. Sprinkle the coriander, cumin and salt over the chicken. Stir in yogurt to evenly coat the chicken. Cover and let sit 10 minutes or refrigerate for several hours.
2) Melt 1 tablespoon the butter in a large saute pan over medium heat. Raise the heat to medium high and brown about 1/2 of the chicken. . Transfer browned chicken to the slow cooker as it is finished. Then repeat with 1 more tablespoon of butter and remaining chicken. Throw the pierced jalapeno in on top of the chicken.
3) To make the sauce return pan to medium and 3 T. of butter over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, salt and stir. Cook until onions begin to brown, stirring frequently.
4) Add the 3 T. of garam masala and ginger and cook until fragrant (30 seconds), then raise heat to high and add crushed tomatoes and sugar. Scrap the bottom of the pan as you stir and bring to a boil. Then pour over chicken in slow cooker.
5) Cook chicken on low for 5 hours.
6) Mix heavy cream and greek yogurt into mixture, adding cream until you get your desired color. Heat for 1o minutes more.
7) Serve over rice and top with a generous amount of cilantro (it really adds a lot)
Pretty much every type of salad that I like is some variant of spinach, fruit, good cheese and nuts. For as long as I can remember my Mom has been making a spinach salad with pears, blue cheese and salted pecans, and for a Mom who loves decorating the table but isn’t so big on the actual food – this salad was quite a delectable creation. I have made that salad countless times, and it’s still my go to, but in the interest of changing it up ever so slightly, I decided to try this recipe, and guess what, I loved it! In fact it holds the title as the first salad a certain “salad hater” has ever eaten, and liked (no…it’s not John but another picky husband who doesn’t like vegetables :-)).
I think what I really liked about this is that it includes an easy, throw together recipe for a really good dressing. So much of the time I go to the trouble of toasting nuts, chopping fruit, buying spinach, and then covering it all with some bottled dressing because making homemade just seemed like too much work. This dressing is super easy, and really complements the flavors of the salad well. Also, I think I like this salad because I love an excuse to eat my new favorite apples, ‘Honeycrisp”. (Which, ironically recently had a sign aat the grocery store that said “Everyone’s New Favorite” – good to know I’m not alone). But if you can’t find Honeycrisp, I think Fiji or Granny Smith would work equally well.
Harvest Apple Salad with Buttered Almonds
For the dressing:
- ¼ cup finely minced sweet onion
- 3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 3 tbsp. white wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp. sesame seeds
- Pinch of paprika
- 2 tbsp. sugar
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
For the almonds:
- 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
- ¾ cup sliced or slivered almonds
- 2 tbsp. sugar
For the salad:
6-8 cups baby spinach leaves, washed and dried
2 medium apples, cored and thinly sliced
4-6 oz gorgonzola cheese, crumbled
To make the vinaigrette, whisk all ingredients except olive oil in a measuring cup. Then slowly add the olive oil whisking vigorously to combine.
To make the buttered almonds, melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook, stirring occasionally until toasted and lightly browned. Stir in the sugar and cook just until melted and well incorporated. Set aside to cool.
Place spinach in a large salad bowl or on individual salad plates. Top with apple slices, gorgonzola, and the buttered almonds. Drizzle with the dressing and serve immediately. Leftovers are good for up to a day, as fresh spinach does not wilt as quickly as other types of lettuce.
Ah. Real Food. This is what January was meant to be. Not including the peanut M&Ms (which I mistakenly bought a XXL bag of because I was hungry at Costco….never a good thing) the food around here has most definitely taken a turn for the more wholesome. I can’t really promise that this will last long, but while I’m craving healthy food, I might as well take advantage. There is nothing quite like a warm, hearty, filling and yet healthy stew to warm up with on chilly January evening. Or considering the 40-50 degree days we have been having I should probably say, “On a abnormally warm, almost balmy January evening in Ohio”, but it just doesn’t have the same ring. Global warming is seriously ruining seasonal eating.
No matter what the weather, I could probably eat this stew. Well I might be lying slightly. I wouldn’t eat it in the summer. That would be like some kind of sin- hot stew in the summer? But anytime September through April would be fine if you are lucky enough to live in a place like tropical Toledo. (Can you sense my bitterness at winter – and this is even after I got an automatic car starter for Christmas!). But in all seriousness, the first time I made this stew was back in Louisiana, where the humidity never drops below 100% – and it was still good. It’s the kind of stew that feels well balanced because you get vegetables, grain, and protein all in one place. I really love the addition of barley because it makes this stew seem extra hearty and yet also somewhat gourmet.
One caution is that the barley continues to absorb water after cooking. When you go to get leftovers the next day you may find that all the liquid is gone and the barley has doubled in size – but never fear – just add a bit more water, and reheat. If you are trying to make this in advance, or if you’d like to freeze it, I would probably make it without the barley, and then just add the barley when reheating it.
Beef and Barley Stew
- Cooking spray
- 2 pounds beef stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
- 2 teaspoons canola oil
- 2 ½ cups chopped leaks (about 3 leeks including green stems)
- 2 ½ cups sliced carrot
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 cups water
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 bay leaves
- 2 – 14 oz cans beef broth
- 1 cup uncooked medium pearled barley
1. Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add half of beef; cook 5 minutes, browning on all sides. Remove from pan. Repeat procedure with remaining beef.
2. Heat oil in pan over medium-high heat. Add leek, carrot, and garlic; sauté 4 minutes or until lightly browned. Return beef to pan. Add all ingredients EXCEPT barley and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, or longer if desired. Add barley; cook 30 minutes or until beef and barley are tender. Discard bay leaves.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Well it’s time for new years resolutions. I wish I could say that I’m going to post all healthy recipes this coming year, and that it’s going to make you super skinny. I have learned from too many new years resolutions that I like eating twizzlers, baking cookies, and scooping ice cream far too much to swear it off for the year. I will however try to just generally post a larger variety of foods on this blog. If you have any requests, please let me know and I will do my best to post what you’d like to make!
This particular recipe comes to you from our New Years Eve celebration. It got some rave reviews from the whole family. It also makes great leftovers (in fact this picture was taken 3 days later). While it’s not quite as easy as the French Apricot Chicken, it is another one of the crock-pot meals that you just add the ingredients and walk away. As indicated below it serves 6-8 people, but for New Years I doubled the recipe and added an hour to the cooking time (total of 9 hours) and it turned out great. What I really liked about this recipe is that it’s not at all dry like some shredded pork can be. It is saucy, and I’m pretty sure just the marinade over rice would taste good on it’s own. It also goes great served with a big salad with mandarin oranges and sesame ginger dressing. So if your sick of eating cookies (which I EVEN AM!), this is a hearty, delicious and protein filled alternative for ringing in the New Year.
Slow Cooker Pork Char Siu
- 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 4 tablespoons honey
- 2 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grated peeled fresh ginger
- 1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
- 1/2 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder
- 2 pounds boneless Boston butt pork roast, trimmed*
- 1/2 cup fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
*Ask your butcher to cut off as much fat as possible to save you some time.
Combine first 8 ingredients (soy sauce through five spice powder) in a bowl and whisk. Place pork roast in a plastic bag and cover with marinade. Refrigerate for 2 hours flipping occasionally. *I left it at room temperature for 45 minutes to save time, and because my pork roast was large and very cold.
Place contents of bag in a crock pot and add 1/2 cup fat free chicken broth. Cook on low for 8 hours. Shred pork and serve with remaining sauce in crockpot. Serve shredded pork and sauce over rice.
Adapted from Cooking Light
Wishing you and your families a wonderful new year!
The models are doing the exact same thing in both pictures- writing 2012. You just need to make sure your flash is turned off and you have a long shutter speed to capture all the movement in one frame. I’m pretty sure we’ve found a new new years tradition! Hope you all had a wonderful new years eve!