Friday, April 15, 2011

Grilled Chicken with Tamarind Chutney and Basmati Rice

The husband and I recently enjoyed a tasty meal at a local Indian restaurant. One of our favorite appetizers, yes there were more than one, was ragda patties with tamarind chutney and chickpeas. Of course I had to make an attempt to replicate the taste at home.

I found this recipe online and made a few tweaks to it. The original recipe calls for a lot of sugar and we found it to be a bit too sweet so I'll be cutting it back next time I make this and I reflected that cut in my recipe below. Enjoy!

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 cup of basmati rice
1 3/4 cups of water

Tamarind Chutney
3/4 cup of white sugar
3 tbsp tamarind paste
2 cups of water
1 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp cumin seeds or ground cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garlic powder

Chicken Marinade
1/2 white vinegar
2 tbsp garlic powder
2 tbsp onion powder

*A word about tamarind paste: You can find it at most Asian food markets. If you can't find the paste, you can purchase a block of tamarind and make your own paste. That's what I did for this recipe.

To make the paste you need to soak the block of tamarind in an equal part of water. In this case I soaked 14 oz. of tamarind in 14 oz. of warm water for fifteen to twenty minutes. Once the tamarind is soft you squeeze the block with your hand until it forms a liquidy paste. You then need to strain the paste to remove the pods and seeds. The remaining liquid is your tamarind paste.


Mix marinade ingredients together in a glass dish. Add chicken breasts and set aside for 30 minutes. Pre-heat grill to medium high heat.

In a medium saucepan soak rice in water for 20 minutes.

In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garam masala, coriander, cumin, cayenne pepper and garlic powder. Toast for 2 minutes to release flavors. Add water, tamarind paste and sugar, stir until sugar dissolves. Bring mixture to a boil over high heat then reduce to medium heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Sauce will reduce and thicken, if not thick enough for your preference you can make a cornstarch slurry and add to the sauce.

While tamarind sauce is boiling, bring rice to a rapid boil then cover and let simmer for 15 minutes. Add chicken breasts to hot grill and cook thoroughly, discard marinade. Once chicken is cooked, slice into 1 inch chunks.

To plate, pile rice in middle of plate. Nestle chicken pieces into rice bed and top with tamarind sauce.

(A delicious warm piece of naan would make a generate utensil to eat this.)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Sausage, Red Pepper and Broccoli Pasta

While perusing one of my favorite cooking blogs, Mary Ellen's Cooking Creations, I came across this gem. It's a great way to get a good serving of vegetables, something my husband and I fail at a lot. The vegetables were incredibly crisp and brightened up the flavor of the dish.

3/4 lb dry pasta
4-5 medium Italian sausages (your choice hot or sweet)
2 medium or 1 large head of broccoli, chopped
1 large red pepper, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
2 cups light cream
1 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 cup of white sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1-2 tbsp flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. In a frying pan, cook sausages until brown on all sides. Set aside, slice once cool to handle. Once water has begun to boil, add peppers and broccoli. Cook for 30 seconds and then remove from water. Rinse vegetables to cool. Cook pasta in water until al dente. Drain, do not rinse.

While pasta is cooking, heat oil and butter in a large skillet. Add garlic, cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Add flour, cook until just golden brown. Add cream, let reduce slight. Remove from heat and add cheeses, whisk until melted.

Mix sauce, pepper, broccoli, pasta and sausage in a large bowl until thoroughly incorporated. Place in an oven safe casserole dish. Bake for 20 minutes or until golden brown and bubbly.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Italian Chicken Panini with Parmesan Fries

I'm not quite sure how I came up with this idea but it works!

1 loaf of ciabatta bread
2 chicken breasts, sliced into 4 cutlets
8 slices of provolone cheese
1 roasted red pepper, sliced
1/4 cup of Italian dressing
3 tbsp of light mayo
1/2 packet of Good Seasonings Italian dressing mix
2 cups of spring mix, spinach or arugula
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 package of frozen french fries
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese

Marinate the chicken breasts in dressing for at least 30 minutes. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cook chicken in dressing marinade for 35-40 minutes. (Alternatively, you can grill the chicken.) Place fries on a cookie sheet and place on rack below chicken in oven and cook for the same length of time.

While chicken and fries are cooking, mix mayo and dressing mix together. Set aside.

Optional step: If you want to roast your own red pepper, it's very easy. Turn your gas burner on medium high heat and place pepper directly on the burner grate. Cook each side for 1 1/2 - 2 minutes. The pepper will hiss and make noise, fear not. Remove the pepper, let it cool and slice.

In the last 5 minutes that the fries are cooking, sprinkle Parmesan cheese evenly over fries. Once fries and chicken are finished cooking remove from oven. Slice bread lengthwise and then into four sections. Separate the bread, you should have 8 pieces of bread. Spread each slice with mayo. Place chicken cutlets on 4 pieces of bread; top each cutler with 2 slices of Provolone cheese. Top remaining slices of bread with spring mix and peppers. Top each chicken half with a spring mix/pepper half.

Heat a cast iron skillet or flat top grill on medium high heat. Brush with tablespoon of olive oil. Add sandwiches to pan. Press down with a bacon press or a brick wrapped in aluminum foil. Toast sandwich until golden brown; repeat on other side.

Serve each sandwich warm with fries.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Kielbasa with Beer and Onions

This is one of those meals that you didn't know you were craving until you take the first bite, then you don't know how you haven't been eating this for the last week.

This meal also reminds me of a great story of my Nana. She was in active labor with my uncle, her fifth child, and just had to finish her sauerkraut, kielbasa and quart of beer. (Yuengling of course; and it was 1960...women still drank and smoked while pregnant.) I'm not a big fan of sauerkraut so I substitute onions for it and incorporated the beer in a pregnancy friendly way. Enjoy!

Oh and if you're wondering what a Yuengling's a local lager. It's the oldest brewery in America and based right in Pottsville, PA. My grandparents lived in the town and my Nana actually went to grade school across the street for the brewery. I'm pretty particular about my beer and Yuengling is one of my favorites.

6 kielbasa links
3 small yellow onions, sliced
1 tbsp butter
1 Yuengling or another lager if you're not privy to this delicious beer
6 potato rolls

In a large, deep pan add the butter, kielbasa and onions. Once the kielbasa and onions are brown add the beer. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down so the beer simmers. Simmer the beer until it becomes thick to an almost syrup like consistency; about 20-30 minutes.

Just before serving kielbasa lightly toast the rolls. Place each link on a roll and equally divide the onions and sauce amongst the 6 rolls. I add a slice of American cheese to my sandwich and topped it with yellow mustard. Out of this world!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Eggplant Pizza

My husband and I loved this pizza. It was simple but incredibly flavorful and delicious.

pizza dough
1 - 4 oz can of tomato paste
2 cups shredded whole milk mozzarella
4 oz goat cheese, crumbled
1/2 an eggplant, sliced thin
2 tbsp dried oregano
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp olive oil; more for frying
flour for dredging
water to thin the tomato paste


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Stretch pizza dough and place on pizza pan or cookie sheet. Set aside to rest.

Heat 1/8 inch of olive oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Dredge eggplant pieces in flour, shake off excess. Fry in batches in hot oil until just golden brown. Drain and set aside.

Mix tomato paste, 2 tbsp olive oil, onion powder, garlic powder and oregano. Add water until you achieve the desired consistency for your sauce. (I like mine super thin.)

Spread tomato sauce on pizza dough. Top with 1 cup of mozzarella. Add eggplant pieces. Top with remaining mozzarella and goat cheese crumbles.

Bake for 12-15 or until crust is golden brown and cheese is browned and bubbling.

Fontina Mac and Cheese

This is another delicious recipe from Annie's Eats. Normally I adjust the recipe as I go but I didn't really see a need to with this one. The only thing I did change was the shape of the pasta I used. (I used bow ties instead of shells. Really any textured pasta shape will work.)

1 lb. small or medium pasta shells
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, divided
1 cup heavy cream
8 oz. Fontina cheese, shredded
Pinch of grated nutmeg
1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
¼ cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese


Preheat the oven to 400˚ F. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook the pasta according to the package directions just until 1-2 minutes shy of al dente.

Meanwhile, dice 4 tablespoons of the butter and place in a large mixing bowl. Warm the cream in a small saucepan or the microwave. Cover to keep warm.

Once the pasta is cooked, add to the bowl with the butter and toss to coat well. Stir in the warm cream and the Fontina until the cheese starts to melt. Mix in salt to taste, and add the nutmeg.

Pour the mixture into a buttered 2-quart casserole dish. In a small bowl, melt the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter. Mix in the panko breadcrumbs and shredded Parmesan. Toss with a fork to coat evenly with the butter. Sprinkle the bread crumb mixture evenly over the pasta in the baking dish.

Bake until the sauce is bubbling and the topping turns golden brown, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Southwest Quesadilla

I was inspired to make these when I came across a recipe for Southwest Egg Rolls at Annie's Eats. They were delicious and I made a quick spicy ranch dipping sauce for them. (It's just hot sauce and ranch dressing.)


1 pound of cooked shredded chicken (I cooked the chicken in my Crock Pot during the day and seasoned it with garlic powder, onion powder and cumin. You can easily use leftover roast or grilled chicken.)
1 - 8 oz can of whole kernell corn, drained
1 - 10 oz chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 - 15 oz can of black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cups of Colby Jack shredded cheese
4 tbsp garlic powder
4 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp cumin
vegetable cooking spray


Mix chicken, corn, spinach, and beans in a large bowl. Season with garlic and onion powders and cumin.

To assemble quesadillas, heat a griddle pan and spray lightly with vegetable cooking spray. Place a tortilla on the griddle. Sprinkle 1/8 cup of cheese on half of the tortilla. Spoon 1/4 cup of chicken mixture on top of cheese. Sprinkle an additional 1/8 cup of cheese on top of the chicken mixture. Fold tortilla over on itself. Press firm with a spatula. Cook for 1 minute and flip cooking other side for an additional 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Cut quesadilla into fourths and serve hot.