Chicken Tikka Masala

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It’s funny how quickly a new dish can become a go-to.

Easy Chicken Tikka Masala | Finding Time for Cooking

Indian food has been a challenge for a long time…in restaurants, even when it’s mild it’s usually too spicy for me.  But I’ve also had several recipes I was dying to try.  The intense combination of spices, held together with creamy sauces, is just too much to resist.

chicken-tikka-masala-bowl-2

I finally pulled myself together over winter break and gave this a try.  Part of that was just making sure I had all the spices I needed.  And I was shocked at how easy this dish was to make, how satisfying, and how great the leftovers were.  So I made it a few days later.  And the week after that.

It’s now in my regular rotation, because the lunch leftovers are unbeatable.  Pair it with some of my delish and easy homemade naan, and you’ve got an exotic and yet comforting winner.  Don’t be scared by the ingredient list, because you make the paste once and it will last you through several batches. [Read more…]

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Thanksgiving Streusel Pie “Two-Fer”: Pear-Apple Pie & Bing Cherry Pie

I love pie. Pie is the best. But for a holiday where pie plays a major role, I don’t really love Thanksgiving pies.

sunset

Thanksgiving’s a big deal in my family. We always come home. We get together not only all day on Thanksgiving, but pretty much every other day that weekend. We play football. We play cards. There are glorious sunsets. There is SO much food. This year I think we actually set a record.

Bing Cherry Pie with Streusel done

Every year I make a fruit pie or two, because pumpkin, German chocolate, and chocolate chip pie are just not for me (though I love me some pecan from time to time). There’s usually a pear-apple, pear-banana, or some similar combination. This year I was really at a loss for what else to make, and then my mom found a frozen bag of dark cherries.

Bing Cherry Pie with Streusel

After looking up a number of recipes on Pinterest, I had to basically make up the recipe and hope it would work (I had visions of it just being this giant pool of juice, the soggiest pie ever). It was actually super simple and so easy to throw together. The cherry pie ended up being my favorite, and I had it for lunch, dinner, breakfast the next morning, and the tiny sliver that was left the next morning as well. This pie is my everything. I have no idea why, but it’s amazing.

Pear-Apple Pie with Streusel

The pear-apple is a recipe I made up years ago and make all the time. I love the texture and sweetness that the pears add, and almond extract, ginger, and cardamom pair (ha, pear) particularly nicely with pears. It’s an oldie but goodie. And both pies barely have any added sugar, so you don’t have to feel an iota of guilt for having a big slice for breakfast as well. [Read more…]

Spiced Pear Jam

It’s no secret that I love both pears and jam. Weirdly, though, I’ve never had pear jam and I’ve been jonesin’ to try some.

Pear Honey Jam

I’d bookmarked a bunch of different pear jam recipes, but when I went through them all nothing really jumped out as the right one. I didn’t have a vanilla bean, I didn’t want to caramelize them ahead of time, etc. So I decided to wing it and combine different elements with some common sense to make amazing, delicious pear jam.

Pear Honey Jam in Mason Jars

The first thing I had to figure out was whether I had to use pectin. I’ve avoided that in my jam making so far, but in doing research I found out that pear is a low-pectin fruit (apples have tons) so I probably needed to use it. Luckily, it was way simpler than I expected. I also picked a great combination of spices—cinnamon, ginger, cardamom (great with pears), and almond extract. I used a combination of honey and brown sugar, but only a total of a cup for the entire batch. A lot of recipes called for SO much more sugar, but I don’t see why it would need it.

Pear Honey Jam with Bartlett Pears

Jam is a great Sunday afternoon activity, because you can put a batch on and still be getting other things done while it cooks. You need to monitor occasionally, but it’s not a high-maintenance task. And once you make a batch, it’ll last you for a long time—I usually make a big batch and eat on it for 3-4 months (my go-to lunch is homemade peanut butter & jelly on whole grain bread).

pear honey jam pears molasses cookie

After I filled all my jars, I had a few spoonfuls leftover, and had an amazing brainwave. I piled the jam on top of my freshly-baked molasses cookies. REVELATION. Seriously, the spices all went together so well, the textures were amazing, and the crunch of both the pears and the sugar on the cookies was like the embodiment of fall.

I told my mom about it and she goes, “That’s totally unnecessary, molasses cookies are great on their own*.” Me: “SO not the point. It’s so good!”

* True, they are amazing. [Read more…]

Healthy Cardamom-Almond Peach Crisp

When I realized last weekend that the lovely farm stand peaches I’d bought needed to be used up sooner rather than later, I started thinking through my options and what I had on-hand. As I’ve mentioned before, my peach crisp is one of my go-to recipes, a lightly sweet, super summery dessert that checks all my major boxes. Healthy? Check. Perfect mix of spices? Check. Fiber & fruit? Check.

peach cardamom crisp peaches

But I wanted to do something a little special, tweak my same-old recipe and try something different. And that’s when I landed on cardamom. The more I use it, the more I think that cardamom is a criminally underutilized spice in our cuisine. It’s most often found in Indian recipes (which I haven’t tried yet) and chai tea, but it’s also great combined with certain sweeter flavors—particularly pears, peaches, and chocolate. It’s fairly expensive (similar to saffron and vanilla), but a little goes a long way and so you can buy it once and have it on-hand for a long time.

peach cardamom crisp finished closeup2

So I added some cardamom to the crisp to give it a kick, as well as some almond extract which pairs wonderfully with both peaches and cardamom. Result? Delish!

peach cardamom crisp peaches chopped closeup

I can’t wait to experiment with cardamom more, particularly with chocolate, as it’s so unusual—kind of like a mix between pumpkin pie spices and pepper. [Read more…]

Whole Wheat Gingerbread Pancakes

Pancakes are a beautiful thing. Breakfast or dinner, buttermilk, whole wheat, flavored, ricotta—they’re always delicious, filling, and somehow comforting.

whole wheat gingerbread pancakes finished

whole wheat gingerbread pancakes finished closeup

They’re also very forgiving. Many recipes (particularly ones that use baking ingredients) can be finicky, needing exact measurements and careful combining to yield a good result. But not pancakes. I roughly measure ingredients when making pancakes, but never get worried about being precise. The batter feels too thick? Add a little more buttermilk. Feel like a little flavor? Add a big spoonful of apple butter or some lemon zest and juice. The variations are endless, and a batch can be thrown together in five minutes. [Read more…]

Giving crockpots a chance (Crockpot Teriyaki Chicken)

I’m not a huge fan of crockpots. Don’t get me wrong, they’re great for chili, potato soup, and rotel queso dip, but for actual dinner entrees I’ve never understood the appeal. But my dinner diet of prepared ravioli and sauteed kale needed a little shake-up.

The key was finding a good crockpot recipe to test that sounded good and didn’t utilize ingredients like cream-based can soups and cream cheese—those just aren’t things I like to put in my body when I can avoid it. Since I love Asian food, this recipe was intriguing and didn’t call for all sorts of crazy ingredients.

[Read more…]

Best Cookie Ever (Soft, Melt-In-Your-Mouth Molasses Cookies)

In college, I was known as the Cookie Fairy. Seriously. I would go on these baking rampages, making two or three batches of cookies and then packaging them up and randomly leaving them in people’s mailboxes (so as to not gain 800 pounds myself). See, I’ve always loved baking but had really only tried simple recipes like my mom’s cookies or the occasional 9×13 cake, so I made those A LOT. Now I’ve branched out a lot, and somehow just never get around to cookie-making anymore, which is sad. Because I’m going to let you in on a secret—these might be the best cookies ever.

The best soft molasses cookies...family secret recipe

[Read more…]

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