Indian spiced chicken and veggies

Whenever it's chilly, windy, rainy, or the weekend, I crave Indian food. I'm basically always craving Indian food. There was a place by my old apartment in Baltimore with the best buffet on the weekends. For under $15, I could fill up on as much chicken tikka masala, vegetable pakora, tandoori chicken, garlic naan, vegetable biryani, kheer, and Nepali tea as humanly possible. It was a dream.

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When we moved to Virginia, we had a  Staunton Dinner Club that would drive 45 mins to get Indian food. For a small town in the mountains that isn't really close to anything, Staunton has some surprisingly great chefs and frickin delicious food.  

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After the move to North Carolina, I started making some diet changes. There was no Kenny’s, so my fried chicken intake decreased significantly (if you ever drive on 81 between Staunton and Roanoke, stop at Kenny’s in Lexington, you won’t regret it). I stopped frequenting Indian restaurants because we couldn’t find one we liked as much.

Making our favorites at home was the next best thing, but what to do about the rice? As much as I love cooking, rice has always been a challenge to me. It’s always to sticky or steamed, and I may have caused a few microwave fires via ‘microwaveable’ rice in my day. Something has to soak up all that yummy sauce. No ancient grain seemed to do the trick and, I'm sorry, but cauliflower rice is flavorless and stupid. But regular cauliflower? That can be crisped and roasted and spiced to perfection. 

So I went with a roasted cauliflower as a base and then started experimenting with other veggies. I’m not a fan of potatoes, and chickpeas aren't my favorite. But golden raisins are amazing! I finally settled on carrots, cauliflower, peas, onions, and golden raisins, but feel free to substitute any of those with your preferred vegetables! 

So customize as you like & enjoy some paleo-friendly butter chicken!  

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ingredients 

  • 1 bunch small carrots, with tops

  • 1 head cauliflower

  • 1 can peas

  • 1 onion

  • 1 cup rehydrated golden raisins (to rehydrate, let sit in a cup/bowl of hot water for 30 min)

  • 1 lemon, sliced into rounds

  • 2 tablespoons Garam masala

  • 6 chicken thighs

  • any type of Indian sauce - i've included my easy, customizable recipe below, but I also like Maya Kaimal sauces

01.  preheat at oven to 400, remove tops (set aside for later & peel carrots, cut cauliflower into florets, & chop up a handful of carrot greens

02. toss carrots (and any other veggies that take a while to cook) with oil and salt and roast for 10 minutes.

03. if making your own sauce, go ahead and make it now - my recipe is below. If using canned sauce, add it to a  large heavy pot and bring to a simmer. In a separate pan, sear chicken on both sides.  

04. add crisped up chicken to the sauce, bring to a steady simmer, lower heat, and cover. 

05. add the other veggies, lemon, and at least 1 teaspoon of garam masala to the carrots. stir and return to the oven. 

06. Once the veggies are soft, remove from the oven. Add any extra seasoning you want. Serve chicken on top of veggies with extra sauce. Enjoy.

...sauce recipe below

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spicy sauce

  • 1 tbsp grass fed butter, ghee, or oil

  • 1 large onion, diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated

  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

  • 2 tablespoons garam masala

  • 1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

  • 1 can coconut milk

optional spices:  

  • ground turmeric

  • ground coriander

  • ground cumin

  • paprika

  • extra garam masala

01. Heat butter/ghee/oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat.

02. Add onion, tomato paste, garlic, and ginger and cook, stirring often, until tomato paste has darkened and onion is soft, about 5 minutes.

03. Add garam masala and stir to let flavors deepen, about 4 minutes.

04. Add tomatoes with juices, crushing them with your hands as you add them or using an immersion blender. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, stirring often and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pot.

05. Add coconut milk and let simmer, stirring occasionally. Taste sauce during this time and add optional spices to taste. This is where you can customize the sauce to your personal preference and make it as spicy as you like. In total, let the sauce simmer for 30-40 minutes.

06. Freeze whatever sauce you don't immediately use. 

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Happy cooking! 

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Local Lamb Burger

I'm currently on the plane back to Baltimore, feeling like a Jetson because I can text people using iMessage while soaring through the sky. I also got two free drink coupons, which may also have a little something to do with my mood. Did you know that you can't use an iPad as a table because it will think a plastic cup of wine is your finger and start freaking out?

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No Clean-Up Dinner

My biggest problem with cooking has always been what a mess I make. I love the modern family episode where Cam makes a mess in the kitchen, promises to clean it up later, and then leaves so Mitchell will clean it for him. This is exactly what I would do at home. Sadly, just like Mitchell, my family learned my trick and stopped cleaning up after me. This left me with a few options..

1. Stop cooking. This was so not going to happen, I love to cook and I love to eat.

2. Stop being messy. I like to say that I'm not a messy person, but don't believe me. I a messy and I probably always will be.

3. Hire a maid or butler to clean for me. I'm still looking at this option. Is anyone out there willing to clean my kitchen? I can pay you with gratitude and leftovers.

None of these options are panning out, so I decided to try cooking things that offered a minimal chance of mess. Cooking in parchment was the perfect solution! I could prepare, cook, and eat out of one package. Finally I found my perfect meal, healthy, easy and no mess. I'll be making this a lot.

Ingredients (serves one) 1 fillet of fish, preferably cod or halibut Salt Butter Asparagus Vinegar or white wine (or both) Bay leaves Parchment paper

Preparation -clean fish, place on a sheet of parchment paper and sprinkle with salt

-cut asparagus (however much you like) into 2" long pieces and place around the fish

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-pour a tablespoon of your acid over the fish and asparagus. I chose to do a teaspoon of rosemary vinegar and a teaspoon of Conundrum white wine blend (amazing wine)

-place one or two, depending on your taste, bay leaf(leaves) on top of the fish

-fold your parchment paper into a half moon shape. Fold and crease the edges as many times as you need to keep the pocket closed (probably not more than 2 or 3 times)

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-cook for 15-20 minutes at 425

-remove from the oven, open the pouch, and enjoy!

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No-fail Pizza dough!

I love pizza, but I haven't really had the chance to make it from scratch very often. Something about throwing food in the air and all the flour needed to roll out the dough frightens my mom. I think her aversion to it comes from the time my youngest brother threw full, open GoGurts into a ceiling fan in a newly painted room. But now that we are older, I finally got to make homemade pizza with my brothers! This base recipe is great on its own, but with a few changes it can make an awesome breakfast, dinner, or desert pizza!

Base recipe:

  • 2 c. flour

  • 1 t. salt

  • 2 t. baking powder

  • 2/3 c. water

  • 1/4 c. vegetable oil

Preparation

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl, add water. Next knead the mixture on a floured surface until it is easy to roll out onto a pizza pan. brush outer edges with vegetable oil. Cook at 425 for 3-5 minutes. Remove from oven and put whatever toppings you please. Return to the oven for 15 minutes. Remove, let cool, and enjoy!

Creamy Pumpkin Penne

Creamy Pumpkin Penne- Happiness Homemade

It looks like Fall is finally here to stay, it may have missed Halloween but its in time for my school's Novemberfest (tailgating, music, and football, oh my!). My favorite thing about Halloween used to be Trick-or-Treating. But as I grew up, I stopped stuffing my face with Halloween candy and started snacking on pumpkin seeds from the Jack-o-Laterns that lit our front porch. I started to realize that while I  love candy (and I do love candy, I'm snacking on PEZ from a halloween themed dispenser right as I type), pumpkins really are the best thing about Halloween, and when the pie is cooked right, pumpkins are the best part of Thanksgiving too! But why are we letting these holidays be so selfish, they should share the pumpkin love! I love stocking up of canned pumpkin and cooking with it all throughout the season.  This year, my first pumpkin-filled night of the season consisted of Organic Canned Pumpkin and Hocus Pocus with my roomates; resulting in a creamy pumpkin pasta dish -- so good, it could distract the Sanderson sisters from their hunt for children. Topped with crispy sage leaves and toasted pecans, this savory dish is impossible to resist! Say 'Hello!' to Fall, and get in the spirit with Creamy Pumpkin Penne with Crispy Sage!

Recipe adapted from Chloe Coscarelli

INGREDIENTS -1 pound penne pasta -4 tablespoon pumpkin seed oil, divided (vegetable oil can be subsituted) -1 onion, chopped -4 cloves garlic, chopped -1 (14-15 oz) can organic pumpkinP -2 tbsp tomato paste -2 cups non-dairy milk (regular milk can be used) -1 tsp nutmeg -1 tbsp maple syrup -3 tsp salt -1 tsp pepper -8-10 fresh sage leaves, divided -3/4 cup toasted pecans

Preparation

Creamy Pumpkin Penne- Happiness Homemade
Creamy Pumpkin Penne- Happiness Homemade

Add the pecans and some of the sage leaves to the blender. Blend on low to break up the major chunks

Creamy Pumpkin Penne- Happiness Homemade
Creamy Pumpkin Penne- Happiness Homemade
Creamy Pumpkin Penne- Happiness Homemade

Pumpkin flavored kissed,

Megan