Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala

Can we talk about chicken thighs for a minute? I know I'm late to the party but holy moly are they good. Tender, juicy, flavorful, almost impossible to overcook. And cheap as all get-out. I had a serious craving for Chicken Tikka Masala recently and realized I'd never gotten around to trying my friend Melissa's version. This is now my go-to recipe.


It's not that different from the previous version I used to make in terms of ingredients and flavor. The big differences are the use of chicken thighs and the cooking method. Melissa's recipe has you marinating the chicken and then baking it. My old version had you grilling the chicken. Baking is so much easier and clean up is a snap.

This was outstanding. Utterly fantastic. We all gobbled it up, using some delicious buttered naan to soak up the sauce.

Chicken Tikka Masala
As seen on Alosha's Kitchen

1 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
2 teaspoons cumin
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs cut into large cubes

1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 jalapeno chile, minced
2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon salt
1 8 oz. can tomato sauce
1/2 cup half and half
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh chopped cilantro

In a large food storage bag, combine yogurt, lemon juice, grated ginger, 2 teaspoons cumin, cinnamon, cayenne and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the chicken, toss to combine, seal the bag and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat the oven to 350. Spread the chicken out on a foil-lined baking sheet and cook for 25 minutes.

While the chicken is cooking, melt the butter in a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and jalapeno and stir for 1 minute. Stir in the ground coriander, 1 teaspoon cumin, paprika, garam masala and 1 teaspoon salt. Add the tomato sauce, half and half and water and stir to combine. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until the sauce thickens, about 10 minutes.

Add the cooked chicken with all the accumulated juices (don't omit that!) to the sauce and let simmer for another 10 minutes. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve over basmati or jasmine rice with naan for soaking up the sauce.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Fried Mozzarella Sticks

Baby Girl loves cheese sticks. She eats them as a snack almost every day after school. Or rather, she used to. One week I noticed the package in the fridge was still mostly full so I checked the expiration date. It was that weekend. Since the Super Bowl was coming up I figured I'd turn them into Fried Mozzarella Sticks and went searching for a recipe.


The key to any mozzarella stick recipe is to freeze the cheese sticks before you bake or fry them. I'm not sure why the recipe I used doesn't say to do that but it's an absolute MUST. The cheese will melt if it's anywhere close to room temperature. Heck, even mine frozen started to melt and ooze as they fried. So do not, under any circumstances, forget that step.

These were delicious, full of melty, gooey cheese. I only made 8 since it was just the three of us. SP and I each had three and Baby Girl devoured two. I'll definitely be making these again the next time we have cheese sticks that need to be used up.

Fried Mozzarella Sticks
Modified from Add a Pinch

24 mozzarella sticks
1 cup buttermilk
1 egg
1 cup flour
3 cups panko
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
vegetable oil
pizza or marinara sauce, for dipping

The day before you plan to make these, place however many cheese sticks you want to eat into the freeze. Freeze them overnight. Do not skip this step!

The next day, prepare three separate bowls for dredging your mozzarella sticks. Whisk the buttermilk and the egg in one bowl. Put the flour in the second bowl. In the third bowl, combine the panko and the Italian seasoning.

Dip each cheese stick into the buttermilk, then into the flour, then back into the buttermilk and finally into the panko. Set aside on a sheet pan until all the cheese sticks have been coated.

Pour about 1 inch of oil into a 12-inch non-stick skillet. Heat over medium heat until the oil starts to shimmer. Add a few cheese sticks at a time, being careful not to crowd the pan. Use tongs to remove them as they turn golden brown.

Place on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Serve warm with pizza or marinara sauce for dipping.
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Friday, February 20, 2015

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup {Panera knockoff}

I'm not much of a soup person, but when Stephanie posted this recipe for Creamy Tomato Basil Soup {Panera knockoff} I was intrigued. I enjoy a good bowl of tomato soup with grilled cheese every now and then and the recipe seemed really simple and straightforward.


As luck would have it, I had this on the menu the night the temps dipped to -30 degrees. As anyone in the northeast (heck, even the southeast has been seeing record low temps lately) can attest, it's C-O-L-D out there. This soup was hearty and delicious, perfect for a frigid night.

We only had one complaint and that was with the chunks of tomato. We wanted a rich, creamy soup and the chunks of tomato just didn't fit. I modified the recipe below to puree the diced tomatoes before adding them to the pot. You could also puree the soup once it's done cooking, using a blender or an immersion blender.

Creamy Tomato Basil Soup {Panera knockoff}
Slightly modified from Stephanie Cooks

1 14oz can diced tomatoes
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
1 tablespoon crushed garlic
2 cups chicken broth
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream
15-20 basil leaves, minced

Place the diced tomatoes and their juice in a food processor and pulse to coarsely chop. Add the processed tomatoes, crushed tomatoes, garlic and chicken broth to a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, stirring often.

Reduce the heat to low and stir in the sugar and butter. Continue stirring until the butter is completely melted and well combined.

Very slowly pour in the heavy cream while stirring constantly. You need to do this slowly to get the thick, creamy texture.

Stir in the basil and let simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
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Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce for Vegetables

We all love pierogies but it had been ages since I'd served them for dinner. I always serve them with bacon and caramelized onions, with a big dollop of sour cream. And I always serve steamed broccoli on the side. This time I wanted to do something a little different with the broccoli. Enter this Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce for Vegetables.

Easy cheese sauce

This is the same sauce you'd make for mac and cheese. It's an easy sauce to make and was really good with the steamed broccoli. I thought the original recipe was a bit thick, so I've halved the butter and flour in the recipe below.

Easy Cheddar Cheese Sauce for Vegetables
As seen on Iowa Girl Eats

1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoons flour
salt and pepper
1 cup milk
1-1/2 cups freshly shredded cheddar cheese

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Add flour and whisk for one minute.

Slowly whisk in milk then season with salt and pepper and switch to a wooden spoon. Stir and cook until thickened, about 4-5 minutes.

Turn off heat and add cheese. Stir until melted and smooth. Taste then season with additional salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately.
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Friday, January 30, 2015

Cheater Korean Beef

This is one of those recipes that makes you wonder how something with so few ingredients (and pantry staples at that) can come together into something downright magical.

Cheater Korean beef

Amy's post about this Cheater Korean Beef recipe made it sound like one of the best things she's ever made so, of course, I was intrigued. I trust her judgement when it comes to food, and after a quick glance at the ingredient list I figured it would make a quick and easy weeknight meal.

What I wasn't expecting was for it to be so delicious I was fighting my 5-year-old for a second helping. And wishing my husband had other dinner plans that night. Seriously, this is so utterly amazing, there are no words. And it's ridiculously easy. So easy that said 5-year-old could probably cook it herself. You know, if she was allowed to use the stove.

Make this one soon. You won't be sorry.

Cheater Korean Beef
As seen on Very Culinary
Serves 2 (so double it or make a side dish if you want leftovers)

1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 pound lean ground beef
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1/4 - 1 teaspoon chili garlic sauce (adjust to your spice preference)
salt and pepper
3 scallions, chopped
toasted sesame seeds

Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Brown the beef until cooked through, about 3 minutes. Toss in the garlic and cook for another minute. Drain off all the fat*.

Stir in the brown sugar, soy sauce, ginger, and chili garlic sauce. Season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 1-2 more minutes to blend the flavors. Toss in the scallions.

Serve over hot rice and sprinkle with a few sesame seeds.

*Quick tip: An easy way to drain off the fat is to use paper towels. Turn off the heat, then move all the beef to one side of the skillet. Tilt the pan the other way so all the oil runs to the other side, away from the beef. Use balled up paper towels to soak up the excess oil. Leave a little oil in the pan (you want some moisture). Then simply throw the paper towels in the trash.
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Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Florentine Lasagna Roll-ups

I haven't made a lasagna roll-up in years. I don't know why; they're so easy to make and more fun than regular lasagna because everyone gets their own roll or two. As soon as Kylee posted these Florentine Lasagna Roll-ups on her blog I knew I had to make them.

Chicken florentine lasagna roll ups

I prepped the roll-ups on a Sunday and popped it in the fridge for later in the week. The night we had them for dinner I just had to preheat the oven, make the salad while the roll-ups cooked and dinner was served. I love easy meals like that.

Prepped chicken florentine lasagna roll ups for dinner this week. I'm going to be so excited later this week when all I have to do is pop this in the oven to bake.

The only change I made was adding ricotta cheese to the filling. I had some to use up and ricotta is synonymous with lasagna, in my opinion. But feel free to leave it out since there's enough going on with that delectable Alfredo sauce.

Florentine Lasagna Roll-ups
Slightly modified from Kylee Cooks

Alfredo sauce:
1 stick butter
2 large garlic cloves, minced
2oz cream cheese
2 cups half and half
salt and pepper, to taste
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

12 lasagna noodles

2 cups cooked and shredded chicken
1 1/2 cups baby spinach, chopped finely
1 cup ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella, or cheese of your choice

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and cook for about 1 minute. Add the cream cheese and whisk until smooth. Whisk in the half and half. Season with salt, pepper and Italian seasoning. Bring to a simmer (don’t boil!) and whisk frequently until the sauce thickens, about 15 minutes. Add the Parmesan and whisk until melted and blended. Set aside,

Cook the lasagna noodles according to package directions. Drain and rinse the noodles with cold water. Lay them out to dry on clean kitchen towels. This will make them easier to work with.

While the noodles are cooking, combine the chicken, spinach, ricotta, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and 1 cup mozzarella cheese in a large bowl.

Spread about half a cup of the Alfredo sauce in a 9x13" baking dish. Working with one noodle at a time, place some filling onto each noodle, then roll it up. Place each roll seam side down into your baking dish. Top with the remaining Alfredo sauce and 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese. (If making in advance, stop here, cover the dish with foil or plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to bake).

Bake at 350 degrees, for about 30 minutes until the casserole is heated through and cheese is bubbling.
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Monday, January 12, 2015

Best of 2014: My Favorites

On Friday I brought you your 14 favorite recipes from 2014. Today I'm sharing my favorites from the year. Looking back through my posts, I realized I made quite a few awesome recipes. A few of these we eat time and time again while others are ones I need to remember to remake in 2015.

And this is where I struggle. There are only so many meals in a day. I want to remake all of these again and again, but there are literally hundreds of other recipes I want to try. Oh, the trial and tribulations of a food blogger.


14. Breakfast Risotto - I love risotto and I love runny eggs. Put the two together and you've got one heck of a dish. The poached egg is key - you want that gooey yolk to mix with the risotto, almost like a sauce. So amazing.

13. Chicken Stew with Biscuits - This was a surprise winner for me. I'm not usually a fan of chicken pot pie, which is pretty much what this is. But there's just something wonderful and comforting about this dish. The biscuits on top just make it even better. I love that everyone gets their own biscuit.

12. Skillet Chicken Saltimbocca Spaghetti - I love one pot meals and this one is incredible. Salty, tangy and easy to make.

11. Collard Greens - I tried this recipe a year ago and it was a huge flop due to an excess of salt. I scaled way back on the salt this time and they were pure perfection, with just a hint of spicy goodness.

10. Oven Fried Chicken - To go with those delectable collard greens, we had this killer oven fried chicken. Not to toot my own horn, but this was some of the best fried chicken I've ever had. Moist and flavorful, with a crackly crust.


9. "The Gobbler" - This sandwich is the perfect way to use up Thanksgiving leftovers. I can't wait for my mom to make another roast chicken with all the trimmings so I can make this again.

BBQ chicken sandwiches

8. Grilled BBQ Chicken Sandwiches with Brown Sugar Grilled Onions - These are some incredibly flavorful sandwiches. Don't be put off by the word "grilled" - you can make these year-round on an indoor grill pan or even just a regular skillet.

roasted salsa

7. Baja Fresh Grilled Salsa - We made this salsa for a get together with our friends and inhaled it. I love how easy it was to make, too.

Mozzarella stuffed meatballs

6. Mozzarella Stuffed Meatballs - These are my new favorite meatballs. So simple to make and I love the addition of the melty cheese inside. My new favorite way to eat them is just with some sauce and extra mozzarella, with some crusty buttered bread to mop it all up.

Hawaiian chicken and coconut rice

5. Grilled Hawaiian Chicken with Coconut Rice - I wish Baby Girl could eat coconut because this rice was outstanding. Definitely the highlight of the meal, although the chicken was also delicious.

Chicken piccata risotto

4. Chicken Piccata Risotto with Crispy Capers - Again with the salty, briny capers. What can I say, I have a thing for those little buds of goodness.


3. Pasta with Chicken Meatballs - Another fantastic meatball recipe, only lighter because they're made with chicken instead of beef. These were like little pillows of softness that melted in our mouths.


2. 3 Cheese Rosemary and Pepperoni Pizza - We make a lot of pizza and this one is, hands down, our all-time favorite. No contest. The fresh rosemary is key and you can't go wrong with three different cheeses.


1. Chicken Chorizo Patty Melts - I made 3lbs of fresh chorizo early in 2014 and had no idea what to make with it. SP did some searching online and found these patty melts. And the rest, as they say, is history. We fell hard for the wonderful flavors. When I found the last bag of chorizo in the freezer I actually shed a tear, knowing we wouldn't be able to enjoy another round of patty melts. I plan to make another batch of chorizo in the spring just so we can eat these again and again.
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