Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Indian butter chicken

Last winter I picked up a jar of butter Chicken sauce at the ethnic market.  It was OK, but the flavor was intriguing enough that I knew I wanted to try making it from scratch.  There are numerous recipes out there for butter chicken.... some quite elaborate and time consuming.  Several recipes mentioned using a bit of lemon or lime juice as well as chilies or chili powder. I liked the rather simple recipe of Life Ambrosia so adapted her recipe with the addition of lemon and diced chilies. I also liked that the recipe used chicken thighs rather than breast meat as money has been tight lately.  The family liked it so will certainly be making this again.  

Indian Butter Chicken
Serves 4     

For the marinade
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced 
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/4 pound skinless boneless chicken thighs, diced  (debone them yourself as its less expensive!!)

For the Sauce 
5 tablespoons butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 (15 ounce can) tomato sauce
1/4 cup lowfat plain yogurt  ( i used a plain Greek yogurt as I had it on hand)
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons diced green chilies (optional... I just wanted a bit more spice)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder (optional)

To make the marinade, combine the garam masala, salt, ginger, garlic, oil and lemon juice and pour over the diced chicken. Cover and refrigerate for about two hours, turning at least once.  I find it easiest to just put everything into a plastic bag and give it a few squishes to coat everything. 

In a large skillet over medium heat, pour the chicken and marinade into the pan and cook chicken until browned. Cook chicken until browned.  Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
Using the same pan,  melt butter over medium heat and add onions and chilies; cook until the onions become soft and translucent. Add the chicken and remaining ingredients to the pan; simmer for thirty minutes.
Serve over rice.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Fresh Strawberry Pie

I was craving something fresh and fruity when I saw that this month's "Have the Cake" challenge was strawberries. I really want to make it down to the U-pick farm and get some fresh strawberries but they aren't ready yet, so I used store bought strawberries. You know how it is when you buy fruit at the store, the fruit can either be good or blah. I hate when that happens! Luck was on my side and the berries were just fabulous!
The directions call for using mostly whole strawberries and while it worked out, I think next time I will quarter them.  This is another one of those recipes that I had stockpiled prior to my blogging days.  I have no idea where the recipe came from.  I printed this recipe out in early 2000!

Fresh Strawberry Pie
1 (9-inch) baked pie crust
3 pints strawberries, stems removed and hulled  
3/4 cup sugar (recipe called for one cup but my berries were pretty sweet)
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt

Take 2 pints of your prepared strawberries and arrange the berries, stem side down, on your prebaked pie crust; set aside.

In a medium size sauce pan mash the remaining one pint of strawberries; to this add the sugar, water, cornstarch and salt.  Stir over medium heat and allow the mixture to come to a boil; after it is at a boil cook for one minute more.  Remove the pan from the stove and allow the strawberry mash mixture to cool before pouring over the berries in the pie crust.
Refrigerate for three hours to allow the pie to "set".  Serve with fresh whipped cream.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Almost Olive Garden Breadsticks

 The other day I made a soup and wanted to serve some sort of bread with it.  I know my family loves the Olive Garden Breadsticks so I tried my hand at a copy cat recipe.  The family liked them... a lot... I'll still have to just take their word on it as bread and I  can't exist together these days.  The recipe made twelve humongous bread sticks.  Next time I will make sixteen instead of the twelve to make them a bit smaller.  The recipe also called for 1/4 a cup of butter and I found that to be a bit much and had about two tablespoons left over.  I've had this recipe in my arsenal for several years now and it was prior to my blogging years.  Therefore, I do not have the source of this recipe.  I know that there are many copycat recipes out there and I would give credit where credit is due.  But for now, just go make yourself a batch of these and enjoy!
Almost Olive Garden Breadsticks
recipe source unknown

1 1/2 cups warm water
1 package or 2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon salt

for topping:
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon salt

I use my Kitchen Aid for making all my bread dough so the directions allow for that use.  Adapt as you please for your favorite method.  
In a mixing bowl, bring the water, yeast, sugar and salt together and gently stir to just combine.  Allow the mixture to become nice and foamy; add the melted 2 tablespoons of butter.  On low speed, start adding the flour until the dough begins to start pulling away from the bowl... I didn't need the last 1/4 cup of flour so just see for yourself if the dough needs it.  Using the dough hook attachment, kneed the dough for about five minutes until the dough becomes smooth.
Lightly grease another large bowl and add the dough, turning once to coat all sides with a bit of the grease, and let rise until doubled, about 45-60 minutes.
Punch dough down and knead just ever so slightly so that you can cut the dough into 12 to 16 pieces depending on your preference.  Roll pieces into about 10 inch lengths and transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet.  Cover and let rise for a second time, about 30 minutes.  
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Make the topping mixture by combining the melted butter with the garlic and salt.  Bake the dough for six minutes, remove from oven and glaze the breadsticks with the butter/garlic mixture.  Return breadsticks to the oven and bake for another six to ten minutes (breadsticks should become lightly golden) and remove from oven; glaze the breadsticks with the garlic/butter mixture a second time.  These are best served warm.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup

 Since soups fall under the category of " foods I'm able to eat," I made this for dinner the other night.  I'm still having a difficult time swallowing and ended up sticking my serving into the blender.... nummy.... pureed soup.  Seriously folks, this is getting old.
But at least there was flavor to be had and it met with rave reviews.  Even my grandsweetie had two bowls!  The original recipe is from an old Light and Tasty magazine and can be found here  I doubled the recipe and added a few other things.  This is definitely a keeper recipe that will certainly be on my soup rotations this fall. My husband, bless his heart, is becoming more brave with foods every year.  But since I love this guy so much.... so very much... I accommodate him by giving the tomatoes a quick whirl in the blender.  My broth turned out to be quite red because of that.  If you leave the tomatoes whole the broth will be clear.

Rustic Italian Tortellini Soup


3 Italian turkey sausage links (4 ounces each), casings removed
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 cans (14-1/2 ounces each)  chicken broth
1-3/4 cups water
1 can (14-1/2 ounces)diced tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained
1 can (16 ounces)  cannellini beans, drained and rinshed
1 package (9 ounces) refrigerated cheese tortellini
1 package (6 ounces) fresh baby spinach, coarsely chopped (I chopped mine more fine)
 3/4 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Shredded Parmesan cheese, optional

In a dutch oven or large soup pan, crumble and brown the sausage until it is no longer pink.  Remove the sausage from the pan and let the grease drain off onto a paper towel.  Safe just a slight remainder of the grease, in the pot, and drain off the excess; add the onion, carrots, garlic, basil, pepper and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are soft and onions are translucent.  Stir in the broth, water and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Add the tortellini and cook for about eight minutes or until the noodles become tender.  Reduce the heat and add the spinach; cook until the spinach is wilted, about 3 more minutes.  Serve with fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired.
 Yield: 6 servings (2 quarts).

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

adventures in all things food: Flax seed bread

I'm so sorry.... This was supposed to have been posted yesterday and it never went up. I feel awful... No blog deserves to feel orphaned. Please forgive me!
For this months Secret Recipe Club assignment I had the privilege of having Adventures in All Things food. She has an excellent blog and mad cake decorating skills. There were so many things I wanted to try but I ended up choosing the Flax seed bread. While my picture does not do it justice, my hubby and mom said it was good. I'm still not able to eat breads so I have to take their word on it. She made it in her bread machine and I used my Kitchen-aid. I also added a bit of wheat germ to the bread, just because I had some and like to throw it in baked goods.

Flax seed honey wheat bread

1 1/2 c. Water, room temp.
3 Tbsp. Olive Oil (or Canola for milder flavor)
1/4 c. Honey
2 1/3c. Bread flour
1 2/3 c. Whole wheat flour
1/3 c. nonfat Dry Milk powder
3 Tbsp. Flax Seed
2 tablespoons wheat germ
1 1/4 Tbsp. Vital Wheat Gluten
1 1/2 tsp. Salt
2 1/4 tsp. SAF yeast

In a mixing bowl, combine the water, yeast and wheat gluten.  Once it starts getting all foamy, add the oil, honey, salt, dry milk powder; mix together to combine.  Gradually add the wheat germ, flax seed and flours.  Using the dough hook, mix on medium speed for about seven minutes.  Allow bread dough to rise until doubled, about an hour, punch down and knead for about thirty second then put into a greased bread pan.  Allow bread to rise for about thirty minutes.  Bake at 425 degrees for about 40-45 minutes.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Chocolate Cottage Cheese Cookies

While recovering from the surgery, I used some of the time to go through all my old cookbooks.  I have three cookbooks from our church.... we ladies do like to cook!  It is fun to see how cooking styles have changed over the years.  One recipe I came across was for Cottage Cheese Cookies and I thought it would be a great one to try out for the Walden house.  I thought there was too much sugar in the recipe and so I cut the sugar down and I added in cocoa powder.  The result was a a nice cake like cookies (reminded me of snackwells... remember those?) and it was not overly sweet.  I think if I was going to make them for kids I would keep the sugar at the normal amount and not reduce.  Pushing the cottage cheese through a strainer first would also eliminate the little chunks of cottage cheese I had in them.  Personally, I didn't mind the cottage cheese pieces, but it may look like chunks of baking powder or soda in it to some people.  Overall, we thought it was a keeper recipe.

Chocolate Cottage Cheese Cookies
Mountain viewcookbook;  Adey Altmeyer
Made june 4

2 cups margarine
2 cups sugar
1 ½ cups brown sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups cottage cheese
5 ½ cups flour
2 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoons salt
1 cup cocoa
1 cup chopped nuts

Cream together, margarine, sugars, vanilla, eggs and cottage cheese.  Mix together, flour baking powder, soda, salt and cocoa.  Add to creamed mixture; add nuts and blend.  Mix well and chill for several hours.  Roll walnut size balls in powdered sugar.  Bake at 350° on greased cookie sheet for 12 to 15 minutes.  Keep dough in fridge between sheets to keep chilled
Yields 7 dozen cake cookies
Notes Reduced brown sugar to 1 cup and granulated sugar to 1 ¾ cup

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sausage Quiche

Finally I can introduce soft foods into my diet.... Yeah!!  I made a quiche for dinner last night that was out of this world delicious.  At first I thought it was just my taste buds giving a standing ovation for decent flavor, but then the rest of the family gave it two thumbs up as well.  
Quiches only seem intimidating but are really quite easy to make.  I just think of it as an omelet in a pie shell. I didn't follow any recipe, just threw some items in with the eggs and put it all in the pie shell.  Since I made this for dinner I used pork sausage....an entire pound.  Not exactly the healthiest but it gave it more substance for the men.
I've been growing spinach and lettuce, along with other things, and was able to use the fresh items.  I was absolutely tickled to find this spinach leaf....How cute is that!

Sausage Quiche
1 pound pork sausage, cooked and drained of grease
1/2 onion, dice fine  (I used a sweet onion)
1 cup fresh spinach chopped
2 leaves of fresh basil, chopped
1 teaspoon salt
freshly ground black pepper
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups fat free half and half
1/2 cup cheddar cheese cheese  (I used a cheddar jack mix)
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
9-inch pie shell, unbaked   (I always make my own pie crust)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium frying pan, combine the onion and pork sausage; cook until browned.  Drain the sausage over a paper towel to get rid of some of the grease.
While the sausage is browning, make the pie crust. We like to use this pie crust from my blog.
In a medium bowl, add the eggs and half and half; whisk well.  Add the spinach, basil, salt, pepper, cheeses and sausage; mix to combine.  Pour into pie shell.
Bake in oven for 35-40 minutes, or until the center is set (not jiggly any longer) or knife inserted in center comes out clean.  Serve while still warm.
serves 6 to 8 people, depending on how big you slice the pieces.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Korean Pork and Slaw

One good thing.... well, two since one of them is having the problem resolved... is that I've been able to get my recipes organized and a meal plan completed for the month.  Since I'm going to continue on with the  WW plan it will allow me to know how many points I have set aside for dinner, therefor making it easier for me to plan out lunch and breakfast.  An added bonus is that it will also keep me on budget :-)

While these chops were good... it was agreed upon that for our tastes it wasn't "great."  So, you may ask, Why am I blogging about them?  Well, because this is a Lets Try blog and some things will be successful and others not so much.  I also believe that not everyone may not have the same taste as us and they may find these to delicious.  Which side will you be on? You won't know unless you give them a try.  
Korean Pork and Slaw
adapted from eatingwell.com

4 servings, 1 pork chop & 1 1/2 cups slaw each | 4 points per serving

3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon canola oil, divided  (I used olive oil)
3 small cloves garlic, minced, divided
4 teaspoons chili powder, divided
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon fish sauce or reduced-sodium soy sauce  (I used soy)
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 teaspoon lime juice  (We thought it needed more of a tang so made this addition)
6 cups thinly sliced napa cabbage   (I only had red cabbage on hand so used that)
4 radishes, cut into matchsticks
4 scallions, thinly sliced into 2-inch lengths
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 bone-in pork chops, 1/2-3/4 inch thick (about 2 pounds), trimmed  (I used boneless, leaner and what I had on hand)

Preheat grill to medium.
Whisk together the vinegar, 2 tablespoons of oil, 1 minced garlic clove, 2 teaspoons chili powder, sugar, soy, cayenne pepper, radishes, lime juice and scallions; toss to coat. Set aside
Take the remaining garlic and 2 teaspoons of chili powder, salt, 1 teaspoon of oil, and make a paste.  I just threw it all in my small Cuisinart.  Divide paste in half; rub each side of the chops with half of the rub.
Grill the pork chops, turning once, until cooked through, it was about 4 minutes per side on our grill. 
Make the slaw: Chop, or slice your cabbage and toss with the dressing.  Serve with pork.  We found that it produced the best flavor when it was a bit with both pork and slaw.
Per serving : 304 Calories; 17 g Fat;  8 g Carbohydrates; 29 g Protein; 3 g Fiber;

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Chocolate Sponge Cake

 Having to depend on people for driving and even walking has been a bit of a bummer. During the week I was able to increase my activity but still couldn't go out and do things on my own.  Makes for some very dull days around the house.  I miss my grandsweetie something fierce!  I can't do any lifting for four weeks, thus my mom is watching her at my daughter's home.  On Thursday I was able to get a lift to Bible study so at least I had that, but upon returning home I was left with everyone being out of the house and the sky gray and dreary.... seemed to me like a good day for chocolate, eh!!!!  Ok, so I can't eat it, but I can smell it and bake with it.  Baking is one of the things that truly does lift my spirits.  Listening to loud music and singing along is another thing..... but trust me, you do not want to actually hear me!

My husband grew up with a delicious sponge cake his mother made for him.  When I saw a recipe for a chocolate sponge cake I had one of those "Well, DUH!" moments.  I mean, why didn't I think of that?  Genius... pure genius.

Chocolate Sponge Cake with Chocolate Icing
adapted from bon appetit

1/4 cup Hershey's dark chocolate cocoa powder
1/4 cup cake flour
4 large eggs, room temperature - separate the yolks and whites from two of the eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup plus 6 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Chocolate Icing:
1/2 cup heavy cream
2/3 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 2, 8-inch round cake pans with parchment paper.  Lightly spray the bottom and sides (yes I do mean to spray the paper!) with cooking spray and dust with a bit of cocoa powder.  

Sift together the cake flour and cocoa powder, two times; set aside.  

In a large bowl, combine two of the whole eggs and two egg yolks, salt, 1/2 cup sugar and extracts; mix until it becomes thick and pale in color (about three minutes on medium speed).
In a second bowl, combine the two egg whites with one teaspoon sugar.   Whip egg whites to soft peaks then gradually add the remaining 5 teaspoons on sugar.  You aren't looking for stiff peaks, but for the egg whites to become thick and glossy.

Take half the egg white mixture and gently fold into the egg yolks.  Next, add half the flour/cocoa powder by sifting it, again, over the cake mix.  Repeat with the remaining egg whites and flour/cocoa powder mixtures.
This made just shy of four cups of cake batter.  I divided the batter between the two pans and baked for 15 minutes.  I almost over cooked it.... It went from being gooey in the center at 14 minutes to pulling from the sides at fifteen!  
Remove from oven and let cool 10 minutes before removing from pans.  

In a microwave safe bowl, heat the heavy cream  to just the point of boiling.  Remove from the microwave and add the chocolate chips and stir gently just to coat with the cream.  Cover with plastic wrap and let the heat of the cream melt the chocolate chips. It generally takes me close to five minutes for the mixture to smoothly blend.  9 out of 10 times this method works.  If the chocolate mixture isn't fully melted and smooth you may have to put it back in the microwave for a few more seconds.  Put a bit of the icing between the layers than pour the remaining over the top layer allowing it to just drip around the sides... it gives the cake some character :-)

Friday, June 1, 2012

Butternut Squash Soup

 I love soup.  Soups are generally on the healthy side, lower in calorie and can be quite filling; what's not to love about that???  One of my favorite soups to make is Butternut Squash.  While I have a favorite recipe for it (YIKES! Can't believe I never blogged about it!!!) I am always up for trying something new.  This recipe included potatoes, along with several other vegetables.  unfortunately it is something I had printed out ages ago and don't remember where it is from.  It is very good and I highly recommend it.  Go on... you know you want to!

Butternut Squash Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 onion, chopped
1 medium carrot , chopped
2 medium russet potatoes, cubed
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded and roasted
32 ounces chicken stock
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 400°F. Halve the squash lengthwise. Using a spoon, scoop out and discard seeds. Drizzle with a bit of olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes.  Once cool it is easy to scoop out the squash!

Melt the butter in a large sauce pot, add the celery, onion, carrots and potato; cook until lightly browned (took me about 7 minutes).  Add the stock and bring to a boil; cover and reduce to a simmer cooking for about 30 minutes, or vegetables are tender.  Add the squash and mix.  (For the record, you can do this without roasting the squash.  Peel the squash and cut into cubes; add along with all the other vegetables)

Transfer the soup to a blender and blend until smooth.