Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Chicken Tikki Masala

Years ago, Jim and I use to eat in Indian restaurants quite a bit.  There are not many of note around here so it's been years since we've been.  I use to make Tikki Masala every once in a while, but, again, it's been years since I've made it.

If you're wanting to venture into Indian cooking, this is probably the easiest recipe I ever made.  It's a creamy tomato sauce and this one includes peas.  I served it over rice (traditional) and with that grilled cauliflower (see 9-26-14 post).  Since there were just the two of us, I cut the recipe in half and there was still some leftover.


2 Tbsp vegetable oil
6 tsp minced garlic
one 1 1/2" piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 jalapeno, seeded and minced
1 shallot, minced
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 cans (14.5 oz) fire-roasted tomatoes
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1" cubes
1 bag (10 oz) frozen peas, thawed
3 cups cooked basmati or jasmine rice

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium-high heat.  Add the garlic, ginger, jalapeno, and shallot and cook, stirring often, 3 minutes.  Stir in the spices and cook 30 seconds.  Stir in the tomatoes, scraping up any browned bits.

Transfers the sauce to a blender and puree.  Return sauce to the pan, stir in the cream, season with S&P and bring to a boil.  Add the chicken, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer until cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Stir in the peas, simmer 5 minutes.

Divide the rice among bowls and top with the chicken and sauce.

Recipe Source:  EveryDay with Rachel Ray magazine, October 2014, p. 94

Monday, September 29, 2014

Oven-Baked Chimichangas

I ran across this recipe some time ago and just got around to making it.  It's a wonderful alternative to the traditional deep-fried Mexican fare.  It makes great use of leftover cooked chicken and rice.  Serve it with that wonderful Cilantro-Lime Rice (see "Easy Homemade Burrito Bowls," 8-7-14 post) or Joy of Cooking's Spanish Rice (5-12-13 post) and some refried or black beans.

I cut this recipe down to serve just the two of use.  Adjust it to how many you are serving.


1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 (16 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked brown or white rice
2-3 cups diced cooked chicken
1-2 tsp minced canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce (use lesser amount for less heat, greater amount for a bigger kick)
1 cup shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese (or a combo, or Mexican blend cheese)
1/2 cup finely chopped cilantro
6 large burrito-sized flour tortillas

Place a rimmed baking sheet i the oven and heat the oven to 450F.  While the oven is heating, in a large skillet, heat 2 Tbsp of the oil over medium heat until the oil is simmering.  Cook the onion until it is just softened, about 3 minutes.  Stir in the beans, rice, chicken, and cilantro.  Season with S&P to taste.

Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with a damp paper towel.  Microwave the tortillas until they are warm and pliable, about 1 minute (I was able to bypass this step as my tortillas were already pliable). 

Top each warm tortilla with some of the chicken mixture, leaving about a 2" border around the edges of the tortilla.  Fold in the side and roll up the tortilla tightly.  Brush the wrapped tortillas with the remaining oil and arrange them seam side down on the hot baking sheet that has been preheating in the oven.  Bake until the chimis are golden brown and crsip, about 8-10 minutes.  Turn broiler on last 1-2 minutes for a more golden crust.  Serve with guacamole, sour cream, and salsa if desired.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Black Bean Chili with Butternut Squash and Swiss Chard

This was, hands down, last year's most delicious Rookie of the Year (Soup Category)!  I have been itching to make this, but I had to wait until it was officially autumn.  And it is every bit as delicious as I remember.  This will be a staple in my fridge until spring.

It is a vegan recipe (if going with the vegetable stock) and if you are looking for a Meatless Monday meal, you can't go wrong here.  I do step outside of the vegan box, however, because I really like sour cream with this.  Cheese would be good, too.  And tortilla or chip chips.

Unfortunately, I can't attest to its freezability.  Leftovers have never lasted long enough to try.


2 Tbsp EVOO
2 1/2 cups chopped onion
3 tsp minced garlic
2 1/2 cups 1/2" pieces peeled, diced butternut squash (from a 1 1/2 lb squash)
3 Tbsp chili powder (I added about 1 tsp of chipotle chili powder to add a dash of heat)
1 Tbsp cumin
3 (15 oz) can black beans, rinsed, drained
2 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 (14.5 oz) can diced tomatoes (I use petite diced tomatoes)
3 cups packed coarsely chopped Swiss chard or kale leaves (remove spines before chopping) SEE NOTE

Heat oil in heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add onions and garlic and saute until tender and golden, about 9 minutes.  Add squash stir 2 minutes.  Stir in chili powder and cumin.  Stir in beans, broth, and tomatoes with juices (if using kale, add at this point); bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until squash is tender, about 15 mintues.

Stir in chard; simmer until leaves are tender, about 4 minutes.  Season to taste with S&P.

NOTE:  I can't find Swiss chard here, so I use kale.  Since I haven't cooked with chard, I don't know just how long it takes.  But the kale takes much longer than 4 mintues.  So I add the kale along with the beans and tomatoes for a longer cooking time.

Recipe Source: Adapted from

Friday, September 26, 2014

Battered and Grilled Whole Cauliflower

I've held onto this recipe for several months because, quite frankly, I was a bit afraid of trying.  The word "battered" threw me for a loop, guess I was thinking of something fried.  I wasn't sure if the "batter" would adhere to the cauliflower, but it did and it's quite easy.  The recipe calls for almond flour which I had never used and really didn't want to buy an entire package, so I picked up 1/2 cup in the bulk section of Earthfare.  It's a very fine flour, gluten-free (for those of you avoiding gluten, you would know much better its properties than I know).  Don't try substituting all-purpose flour....I think it would come out gummy and maybe have a pasty flavor.

It's a really simple recipe but you must, must, must use smoked paprika.  WOW!  What a great flavor!  It wouldn't be the same if you substituted regular sweet paprika.

The recipe gives directions on using a gas or charcoal grill of which we have neither.  We have the standing George Foreman grill and so I started the cauliflower on medium (#3) for 45 minutes.  When I checked it, it was still quite firm so I turned the heat to high (#5) and let it cooked covered for another 30 hour.  Perfect.

I served this with Chicken Tikka Masala (recipe to come) and Papadum bread for a perfect dinner.  So glad there are leftovers.


1 large head cauliflower
1/2 cup almond flour
1 egg
1 Tbsp whole-grain Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp water
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Splash hot sauce

Heat a grill to medium-high then prepare it for indirect cooking.  On a charcoal grill, bank the lit coals to one side.  On a gas grill, turn off the burners on one half of the grill.  Coat a large sheet of foil with cooking spray.

Use a paring knife to trim away any leaves and protruding stem from the bottom of the cauliflower.  Be careful not to cut into the head; you want it to remain intact.

In a shallow bowl large enough to fit the overturned head of cauliflower, whisk together the almond flour, egg, mustard, water, lemon juice, smoked paprika, S&P, and hot sauce.  Overturn the cauliflower into the bowl, turning and moving it to coat it as completely as possible with the mixture.

Set the head of cauliflower right side up on the prepared foil.  Spoon any of the almond flour mixture remaining in the bowl over the cauliflower, making sure it is evenly coated.  Set the cauliflower (on the foil) on the cooler side of the grill.  Cover the grill and cook for 1 hour, or until lightly browned outside and tender inside (you can check by inserting a paring knife at the center).

Let the cauliflower cook for 5 minutes, then slice wedges as you would a pie.

Recipe Source:  Chattanooga Times Free Press (AP), 7-9-14, Food Section

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Creamy Chicken and Quinoa Cordon Bleu Casserole

This is a wonderful (and again, easy) dish that so reminds me of those tasty little Cheesy Ham and Broccoli Quinoa Bites (see 3-23-13 post) and a great place to use the homemade condensed cream of chicken soup (see 9-18-14 post).  It's a great one-dish meal or add a simple green side salad and a good crusty bread.  There will be a bit of residual cooking of the quinoa, so don't let it completely thicken in the oven.  I cut the recipe in half since there are just two of us (and made in an 8x8" dish).  Makes great leftovers for lunch the next day.


2 2/3 cups (double batch) homemade condensed cream of chicken soup (see 9-18-14 post), the equivalent of two 10.75 oz cans cream of chicken soup
1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well and drained
1-2 cups cooked, diced chicken
1 cup chopped deli ham (or leftover ham of any sort)
1/2 cup shredded Swiss cheese
1/2 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
2 cups broccoli browns, chopped into bite-size pieces if needed
1/4 cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 375F.  Lightly grease a 9x13" pan with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, stir together the homemade condensed cream of chicken soup, broth, S&P, quinoa, chicken, ham, Swiss and Monterey Jack cheeses.

Spread the mixture evenly in the prepared pan.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the casserole from the oven, uncovered, and give it a good stir.  Return to the oven and bake uncovered for about 12-14 more minutes (I used a NuWave, cooked for 30 minutes and then for 20 minutes on 1" rack).

While the casserole bakes, steam the broccoli in the microwave or on the stovetop until bright green and just barely crisp-tender.   Stir the broccoli into the casserole, sprinkle the Parmesan cheese on top and bake another 10 minutes until the quinoa is plump and tender and the edges are golden and bubbling.

Remove the casserole from the oven and let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.  This is really important as it will help the casserole to firm up and also make sure the quinoa is completely tender.  Serve warm, don't wait too terribly long to serve it as it gets less creamy the longer it sits.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Salsa Fuego Chile con Queso

OK, so since we are firmly entrenched into the fall season (one day, but, hey, I won't step back) and on our (or my) way to soup heaven, we must also think about that second beauty of autumn:  football and appetizers!  Now we're a pretty quiet household here, not much into entertaining.  I do miss the crowds, though, especially during football season (Go Sooners!!!)  But I can enjoy the pleasures of tailgating right here at home.

Gots to love them chicken wings and cheese dip!  I gotta say, I've tried the healthier versions of cheese dip but come on!  We're talking beer and football and let's face it: it's time to indulge after all of those frou-frou summer salads.  And when it comes to cheese dip, you must, absolutely must, use that American icon:  processed American cheese (aka Velveeta {although I do acquiesce and use the 2% version}).

This is the definitive Chile con Queso.  It comes from a Southern Living Cookbook "Off the Eaten Path: Second Helpings" which travels the dives of the South to find those glorious found-only-in-the-South culinary indulgences (it reads like a novel and adds sweet side trips like Route 66 for your driving enjoyment).  This recipe calls from the hometown of my sweetheart, Fort Worth, TX, from a restaurant called Salsa Fuego.  Seriously good queso here.  Get those blenders and margaritas going.  You're set.

SALSA FUEGO CHILE con QUESO (makes 3 cups)

1 large poblano pepper
1 (16 oz) pasteurized prepared cheese product, cubed
1/4 cup chopped ripe tomato
1 Tbso chopped onion
1/4 tsp cayenne, optional (I didn't used)
S&P to taste, optional (I omitted)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup chopped roasted Hatch chiles or 1 (4 oz) can chopped green chiles, undrained
1/4 dry white wine
Tortilla chips

Broil poblano pepper on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet 5" from heat 10 minutes on each side or until pepper looks blistered.   Place pepper in a zip-top bag; seal and let let stand 10 minutes to loosen skin.  Peel pepper; remove and discard seeds.  Dice pepper to 1/4 cup measurement.

Combine cheese and 2/3 cup water (don't try substituting milk or it will come apart) in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, and cook, stirring constantly,  5 minutes or until cheese melts and mixture is smooth.

Saute tomato, onion, cayenne and S&P (if using) in hot oil in a large skillet over high heat, 1-2 minutes.  Stir in green chiles and diced poblano pepper; cook 2 minutes or just long enough to warm through.  Add wine, and cook 1 minute.  Stir tomato mixture into cheese mixture.  Serve with tortilla chips.

Recipe Source:  Southern Living's "Off the Beaten Path: Second Helpings,"  by Morgan Murphy p. 32

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mango-Lime Lassi

I've been holding onto this recipe since March and kept forgetting about it.  I was looking for a smoothie variation that I hadn't tried this morning and remembered this. 

It's called a "lassi" which is a traditional yogurt-based drink from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan.  They're generally on the savory side but can be made sweet by substituting fruit and/or sugar for spices like cumin.  

I'm posting the recipe as was published, but I ended up tweaking it a bit to my liking.  Not being a big yogurt-eater, the yogurt flavor was a bit too much for me so I used about 25% less.  I also added extra mango for more mango flavor and a bit extra lime juice. 

MANGO-LIME LASSI (2 servings)

2 cups frozen mango chunks
1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
1/2 cup milk
3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tbsp agave syrup
2 thin lime slices for garnish

In blender, puree mango, yogurt, milk, lime juice, and agave until smooth.  Pour into glasses and garnish with lime slices.