Saturday, December 16, 2017

Simple Indian Butter Chicken

My family and I love Indian Butter Chicken.  This summer, in the US, we went to two Indian restaurants, and both times, my kids all ate Butter Chicken.  I have three recipes on this blog for it already, but I spotted this new one and it looked simple and good, so I gave it a try.  It was delicious!!  And a little easier than some other recipes.  I tried a tip from the blog The Kitchen Paper (where this recipe  comes from) and browned my naan on the open flame of my stove, after cooking in a skillet.  It was good, and an improvement on just using a skillet- but, if you can, grill the naan on an outdoor grill; it's so, so good.

Indian Butter Chicken
adapted from The Kitchen Paper

6 tablespoons butter, divided
2 lbs chicken breasts, cut into 1″ chunks
1 yellow onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 Tbsp garam masala
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger (or ginger paste)
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
pinch cayenne pepper- or more to taste
one 15 oz. can tomato sauce or puree (puree for a thicker sauce)
2 cups cream (can try using coconut milk)
salt & pepper
cilantro, for garnish
naan bread & rice for serving

1.  Using 2 Tbsp of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat, brown the pieces of the chicken so each side is browned. They do not need to be fully cooked all the way through. Work in batches, and set aside on a plate when you’re done.

2.  Melt another 2 Tbsp of butter in the pan over medium heat. Add the onion, and cook until beginning to soften — about three minutes. Add the garlic, garam masala, ginger, chili powder, cumin, and cayenne. Stir to combine, and cook for about 45 seconds before adding the tomato sauce.

3.  Bring the mixture to a simmer and let cook for five minutes before adding the cream. Bring the mixture back to a simmer, add the browned chicken, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes. Keep the heat low here — not a rolling boil, or the cream might separate. 

4.  Stir in the remaining 2 Tbsp of butter, and season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve garnished with cilantro, alongside rice and naan.
*This dish would be gluten-free when served without Naan bread.
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Candy Cane Shortbread Bars

I loved these bars.  They're very similar in taste to these cute little Peppermint Meltaways, but making anything in bar form is just so much easier and faster.  The original recipe called for melted white chocolate to be put on top of the frosting, but I thought that was just overkill.  And I love white chocolate.  I left it off, and these bars were wonderful without it.  I found crushed candy canes in a bag this year, and I'm so excited, because that's the worst part of making a recipe like this.  The candy cane bits don't look as vibrant as ones you crush yourself, but I'm ok with it.

Candy Cane Shortbread Bars
adapted from Taste of Home
Makes one 9x13 pan

1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg yolk
1-1/2 teaspoons peppermint extract
2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted
2 tablespoons 2% milk
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract

3/4 cup crushed candy canes (or a bit less)

1.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 13x9-in. baking pan.  

2.  In a large bowl, cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg yolk and extract. Gradually beat in flour. Press evenly into prepared pan. Bake 15-19 minutes or until edges are brown. Cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

3.  In a bowl, combine buttercream ingredients; beat until smooth. Spread over shortbread. Sprinkle with crushed candy canes; let stand until set (press candy canes lightly into frosting with your hand or the back of a big serving spoon). Cut into bars. 
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Sunday, December 10, 2017

Butternut Squash Fettucini Alfredo

This was so good!! I really enjoyed it, and so did the whole fam.  I might not have mentioned (to the kids) that it had squash in it until they were done eating, lol, but nobody seemed fazed at all and they want me to make it again.  First, you roast the squash, giving it a delicious flavor.  Here, one can buy pre-cut/peeled butternut squash all fall and winter.  I love it!  It's always labeled "zucca", which is a generic term for pumpkin or squash.  But at a cooking class the teacher told us this is usually butternut squash. 

Butternut Squash Fettuccine Alfredo
adapted from the Kitchn

3 cups (1-inch) cubed butternut squash (about 1 1/4 pounds)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving
Pinch ground nutmeg
1 pound dry fettuccine
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley

1.  Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F.

2.  Toss the cubed squash with the garlic and olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet and spread into an even layer. Roast until tender and caramelized, about 30 minutes. (Check on it- it may need more or less time.)

3.  Remove the squash from the oven and let cool for 10 minutes. Transfer to a blender or food processor. Add the cream, broth, cheese, and nutmeg, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper as needed; set aside

4.  Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the fettuccine and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes or according to package instructions. Reserve 1/2 cup of the pasta water, then drain the pasta. Return the pasta to the pot.

5.  Add the Alfredo sauce and toss with the pasta. If needed, add some of the reserved pasta water, tablespoon by tablespoon, to loosen the pasta and evenly coat it with the sauce. Sprinkle with the parsley and more Parmesan and serve immediately.
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Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Pistachio Hot Chocolate

There's a wonderful product here called Pistachio Paste.  It's like Nutella, but made with pistachios (and no cocoa, obviously). It's sweet, smooth, and has a wonderful pistachio flavor.  I thought it'd be a good idea to incorporate it into some white hot chocolate.  I used this recipe for Italian Hot Chocolate as a base.

Pistachio Hot Chocolate
adapted from here
Two servings

4 oz. real white chocolate, shaved or chopped fine
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
3-4 Tablespoons pistachio paste
whipped cream, optional
chopped pistachios, optional

1. Place shaved chocolate in a small saucepan over low heat and add 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract. Use a wooden spoon to stir chocolate as it begins to melt. Slowly add remaining milk and continuing stirring until completely smooth.

2. Add in sugar, cornstarch, sea salt, and pistachio paste, and stir until everything is dissolved and combined. Use a whisk to keep it smooth. As it heats up, it will start to thicken. It needs to thicken enough to coat the back of a metal spoon. You can bring to a low simmer if needed.  It's supposed to be thick and smooth.

3. Pour into 2 mugs (top with whipped cream and pistachios if desired) and serve immediately.

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Thursday, November 30, 2017

Beef Stroganoff Soup (Crockpot)

I LOVED this soup!  I made it twice in two weeks.  It was so, so good.  Such a rich and hearty flavor. I love regular beef Stroganoff, but I like this just as much.  Maybe even more, just because its seems so much simpler.  It uses both worcestershire and fish sauce for deep flavor.  Don't be scared of the fish sauce; it just adds a great saltiness, plus something more (called umani), like worcestershire sauce does.  (They both contain anchovies.) You can make this in the crockpot or just the stovetop.  I did the crockpot version.

Beef Stroganoff Soup (Crockpot)
adapted from Closet Cooking

1 tablespoon oil
salt and pepper to taste
1+ pound stewing beef (such as chuck), cut into 1 inch cubes
1 large onion, diced or sliced
1 pound mushrooms, quartered or sliced (optional- I didn't use)
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dry thyme
2 teaspoons paprika
2 tablespoons flour
6-8 cups beef broth (use 8c for a thinner, less noodle-y soup)
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons dried dill
6-8 oz. egg noodles
1/3 cup sour cream, or more to taste
salt and pepper to taste

1.  Heat the oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, season the beef with salt and pepper to taste, add to the pan and cook until lightly browned on all sides, about 5-8 minutes per side, and then transfer to a large slow cooker.

2.  Add the onions and mushrooms (if using) to the pan and cook until the mushrooms have released their liquids, the liquids have cooked off and the mushroom start to caramelize and turn light golden brown, about 10-15 minutes.

3.  Add the garlic, thyme, and paprika, sprinkle on the flour and cook until fragrant, about a minute. Add one cup of the broth and deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits from the bottom of the pan into the sauce with a wooden spoon. Transfer everything to slow cooker.  

4.  To the slow cooker, add the rest of the broth, the mustard, worcestershire sauce, fish sauce, and dill and cook on low for 6-10 hours or on high for 3-5 hours.

5.  Turn your slow cooker to High (if not already), and add the egg noodles. Cover.  Simmer until the noodles are cooked, about 10 minutes, before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste, removing from the heat and mixing in the sour cream. (Check to see if noodles are done before mixing in the sour cream.  Some slow cookers may take longer or shorter than 10 min).  
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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Small Batch Granola

This is a great recipe from Joy the Baker.  I actually doubled the recipe, lol, so it wasn't small-batch for me.  But granola lasts forever if stored correctly.  I'm the only one who eats it in my house, but it still lasted until I finished it.  I like how this recipe uses coconut oil and cinnamon.  One can use either whole or sliced almonds in this.

Small Batch Granola
adapted from Joy the Baker
easily doubled

1 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
2 tablespoons lightly packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
2 1/2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup raw whole or sliced almonds
1/3 cup unsweetened flaked coconut

1.  Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a small rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  In a medium bowl, toss together oats, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

3.  In a small bowl, whisk together maple syrup, coconut oil, and vanilla extract. Add the wet ingredients all at once to the dry ingredients and toss until all of the oat mixture is coated in moisture.
Spread in an even layer on the prepared baking pan and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, toss in the almonds, and bake for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss in the coconut flakes and bake for 10 minutes until everything is golden brown.

4.  Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely before storing or serving.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup

I made this a few weeks ago and the whole family really liked it.  Then I was looking through my blog and realized I've made really similar soups at least three times.  Lol!!  Here, here, and here. Oh well- I must really like this flavor combination.  I'm posting this anyway- it has baby kale in it, so it's different enough.  :) And, the first time I've ever used kale! It was good in this soup. I did cut down on the quantities of some ingredients in this recipe- I don't think it would have fit in my very large crockpot if I hadn't.  My changes reflected below. 
Slow Cooker Tortellini Soup
adapted from Dash of Sanity

2, 28-ounce cans crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth (1 quart)
1 yellow onion, finely chopped
1 pound sweet or spicy Italian sausage
1 tablespoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon salt, more or less to taste
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper, optional
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 cup baby kale, roughly chopped
1 cup heavy cream or half-n-half
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
1 9 ounce package Cheese Tortellini (I used ricotta & spinach)

1.  In a large pan add sausage, onion and garlic. Brown and crumble the sausage and veggies over medium-high heat until the sausage is completely cooked through, about 8-10 minutes.  Once sausage is cooked remove from heat and drain excess grease.

2.  In a 6 qt. slow cooker add chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, cooked sausage and all of the seasonings.  Add lid onto slow cooker and cook on high for 2-3 hours or love 4-5.

3.  Add heavy cream, shredded parmesan cheese and tortellini and cook for another 20 minutes. Then add chopped kale and cook another 10 minutes. Serve and garnish with more cheese if desired.  
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