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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