Chicken Tikka Masala

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I can’t even remember the first time I made this dish.  In fact, I think I’ve only eaten it in a restaurant once.  Sometimes trying a dish from an unfamiliar cuisine can be intimidating, but this dish is so simple!  Plus, it’s so much fun to try a new dish, even if you’ve never eaten the dish before.

I’ve seriously made this recipe more times than I can count in the last month, gradually tweaking it until I love it!  It’s so good! My husband isn’t the biggest fan, so I’ve been making this whole recipe at the beginning of the week and then eating throughout the week for an easy lunch.  The flavors get even better towards the end of the week.  If you do this, make sure to keep the rice separate so that it doesn’t get mushy.  Also, it gives me an excuse to have naan in the house which is so good lightly toasted and with a bit of butter!  I’m drooling over here.

The key to success with this dish is to marinate the chicken the day before.  The yogurt helps to tenderize this chicken and all the spices have time to get cozy.  This dish itself is really cozy too, and it’s the perfect thing for a chilly day like today.

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Chicken Tikka Masala

1.5 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 cup whole milk greek yogurt

1 Tbsp granulated garlic

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp turmeric

2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp coriander

2 tsp cumin

1 Tbsp kosher salt

1 tsp ground cardamom

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 small yellow onion, julienned

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/2 Tbsp red pepper flakes

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup milk

cilantro

Begin by cutting the chicken into 1 inch cubes.  In a small bowl, combine all of the spices.  Place half of the spices into a large bowl along with the yogurt and the chicken pieces.  Toss to coat and marinate for at least 6 hours or up to 24.

Heat the oil over medium high heat in a medium saucepan.  Add the onions and cook until soft and slightly caramelized.  Add the chicken with all of the marinade.  Once the chicken and yogurt start to cook, add in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, milk, cream, and pepper flakes.  Lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep an eye on it, and if you see it getting too thick, you can add some stock to thin it a bit.  The sauce should be pinkish-orange and about the consistency of a thin tomato sauce.  My recipe is a little less red than other recipes, but I love the flavor of the increased turmeric spices that I’m okay with the slightly different color.

I love serving this dish with basmati rice, a bit of chopped cilantro or green onions, and some warm naan bread.  You can find naan in most groceries deli sections.  They even make mini ones now!  They are seriously so cute, I’m dying.

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I recently made this for our bookclub, more about that coming soon!  Since my sister is a vegetarian, we just substituted the chicken with cauliflower.  The preparation is a bit different since you don’t need to marinate the cauliflower.  Begin the cooking process the same way as the recipe above, but just leave out the yogurt and add all the spices to the sauce.  Essentially you will just be making the sauce and simmering the cauliflower in it to cook it through.  You can make it a fully veggie dish too, just use cauliflower rice instead of basmati.

Yum!

Chipotle & Butternut Squash Risotto

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Photography by Allyson Regan

It seems as though fall can’t quite make up it’s mind quite yet here in Michigan.  We had a delightfully chilly week last week, and this week is like the muggiest heat all summer!  But nevertheless, butternut squash persists, and has hit the grocery stores.  This is one of my all time favorite new recipes!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

If you know me well, you know that second only to pasta, risotto is one of my very favorite meals to make.  I fall in love with the process every single time.  The attention to detail, taking the time to toast the rice, the constant stirring, the careful eye watching for the perfect moment to serve, it’s glorious!  When I was about to turn 21, I was the most excited to be able to finally buy wine to make a proper risotto.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Chipotle & Butternut Squash Risotto

1 large butternut squash

1 small can of chipotle peppers, in adobo

olive oil

1 cup arborio rice

3 cups of stock, I prefer chicken

2 tbsp butter

1 small yellow onion, small diced

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 cup good white wine

Goat cheese, optional

salt and pepper

Begin by preheating your oven to 350 degrees.  Peel and cut the squash into a small dice.  Puree the chipotle peppers with the sauce in the can until smooth.  Toss the squash with 2 tbsp (less if you don’t like a lot of spice) and a drizzle of olive oil.  Bake for about 20 minutes, or until soft.  Once cooled, puree 2/3 of the squash.

To start the risotto, begin by melting the butter in a heavy bottomed pot.  Slowly caramelize the onion and garlic, over medium low heat.  Raise the heat to medium, and add the rice, tossing it to cover well with the butter.  Cook until the rice begins to take on color and smell toasted.  Deglaze the pan with the white wine, taking care to scrap the delicious brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  This kicks off the stirring marathon.  Stir evenly, and once the wine has been absorbed, add in 1/3 cup of warmed stock.  Continue to repeat stirring and adding the stock.  The ratio of 1 cup of arborio rice to 3 cups of stock is tried and true in my kitchen, however, if you end up stirring unevenly or cooking on too high of a temperature, you may need more stock.  When you are about to add the last bit of stock, add in the squash puree from earlier.  Once the stock has been absorbed, add in the goat cheese.  If you are holding this warm for a bit, add in another 2 tbsp of butter which will help the risotto to keep from globbing together.  Yes, in addition to making risotto, we are also making up words.  Finally, taste and season to your liking.  Top each bowl with the roasted squash and more cheese.  Enjoy!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Just a note, you probably won’t use that whole can of chipotle peppers, but save them in your fridge.  I love to add this puree to my chili to deepen the flavor, or you can toss mushrooms with this puree, oil, and brown sugar and roast to create a very umami-esque taste.