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!

Grilled Peach Bruschetta

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Well folks, nows the time to soak up the last flavors of summertime.  Before you know it, kids will be back in school, leaves will be falling, produce will be dwindling at the markets, and peach season will be replaced by apples.  So, while your grill is still out, and those peaches are waiting to be used, try out this recipe!

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Grilled Peach Bruschetta

1 crusty baguette

6 peaches, halved

1 small yellow onion

1 pint cherry tomatoes, red or yellow

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for brushing

5 leaves fresh basil

salt and pepper

Preheat your grill to medium high heat, aim for 350-400 degrees.  Brush the peach halves with olive oil.  Thinly slice the baguette with a serrated knife.  Dice the yellow onion and sweat in a small pan.  Cook until they start to caramelize.  Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and mince the garlic.  Thinly slice the basil.  Combine the tomatoes, garlic, onions, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, basil, and a pinch of salt and pepper.  Grill the peaches carefully, starting with the cut side down.  Grill the baguette on both sides until crisp.  The peaches are ready when they start to get softer and juicy.  Removing the skins is optional, then dice the peaches so they are similar in size to the tomatoes.  Add the peaches to the rest of the mixture and combine well.  Taste and adjust the salt and pepper if needed.  Spoon over the baguette slices.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Now, if you have an inordinate amount of peaches, you can avoid the tomatoes all together and go full peach.  I also love to use blueberry balsamic vinegar from the Olive Cart.  It just adds a nice fruity flavor that compliments the peaches.  This dish is a great appetizer to kick off an end of summer get-together.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Enjoy!

Bloody Mary Bar DIY

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Photography by Allyson Regan

I’m at a stage in my life where brunch is the best way to kickstart my weekends.  And I hope I never grow out of this stage.  Come on, lunch food combined with breakfast food?  Mimosas?  Bloody Mary bars?  Not to mention the whole sleeping in and then most likely napping after the delicious meal.

One of my favorite things is to host brunch at my house.  It’s so simple and makes brunch that much better because its less expensive, you can have exactly what you want, and you can wear yoga pants.  Win, win, win.

Whenever I host brunch, I love to set up a bloody mary bar.  It’s super simple and your guests will love it!  It’s easy to customize to you and your guests tastes, but I’m going to outline just a few must haves and some creative ingredients.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

First things first, you’ll need vodka.  Well, you don’t need vodka, this is your bloody bar, so there are no rules/judgements here.  But I would recommend vodka.  My go-to vodka is Titos, I just think it has a really basic but smooth flavor that makes it ideal for bloody marys.  But I also like Svedka vodka and New Amsterdam.  And most of the other kinds.  Okay all the other kinds.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

Next is the tomato component.  You can definitely make your own mix, or just put out really good tomato juice.  For ease on my wallet and space on the bar, I usually just put out a couple kinds of mix instead.  My favorite mix is McClure’s bloody mary mix.  They make delicious pickles, so it’s no surprise that their mix is delicious as well.  Other mix ins that I include are several kinds of hot sauce (Frank’s, Tabasco, etc.), steak sauce (A1 or we brought back this delicious sauce from our recent trip to Costa Rica called Lizano and it’s like a spicy steak sauce), and if your crowd is really adventurous you can put out beef stock (to make the classic Bloody Bull) or beet juice for an extra healthy effect.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

The best part of any bloody mary is assembling your own stirrer.  My brother-in-law likes to use this skewer as an appetizer which isn’t the worst idea he’s ever had.  I found these thin skewers in different sizes at Meijer, but I’ve also seen them at Target.  Meats and cheeses always go over well, and celery sticks are classic.  I just cubed up some local Michigan cheese, and I got delicious ‘meat sticks’ from our local butcher called Sobie Meats.  You can use salamis or sausages as well.  To add something healthy, I added dill sprigs, fresh cucumbers, mini bell peppers, jalapeños, and olives.  Some other crowd favorites are candied bacon, regular bacon, mini cheeseburgers, etc.  But I don’t have time for that.

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Photography by Allyson Regan

For the ease of your guests, you can use large ice cubes and place them into glasses just before your guests arrive.  This way you don’t have to man-handle their ice cubes when they are itching for a drink in their hands.  All that’s left is to enjoy!

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If you haven’t realized it yet, Allyson Regan is an amazing photographer.