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This winter I have actually been trying some new recipes….and then not photographing them because I just want to eat them immediately.  It almost happened with this chicken vindaloo dish, but I managed to quickly grab the camera and tell Brad to snap a few pictures before we sat down to eat it.

I was in the mood to make something Indian, or Indian inspired, after some friends and I were driving around Cambridge, and ended up driving past Christina’s Spices in Inman Square.  I had never been to the actual spice shop, just the ice cream shop next door, and kind of wanted an excuse to go there.  I’d been trying to get to Penzey’s in Arlington practically forever, but a) actually knew where Christina’s is, and b) it’s kind of easier to go to Cambridge than Arlington from where I live.  And after reading reviews online I knew that they would most likely have the slightly obscure spices that I needed (black mustard seed?  who knew such a thing existed!).  And I was right.  Well, except for the black mustard seed, which they didn’t have, but I used brown and I have no idea what the difference would have been.

This delicious and hearty dish was a bit labor intensive, as Brad had to grind many a spice using a mortar and pestle (from Ikea, so the quality is so-so).  Had I owned a spice grinder that portion of the evening would have taken much less time.  But maybe would have been less authentic.  The sauce is hearty, spicy (but not TOO spicy) and just plain delicious.  So delicious in fact, that I am making this dish again this weekend in celebration of Brad and my father’s birthdays.  Brad turns 30 next week (and we’re going to New York to celebrate, I can’t wait to get out of Boston for a bit!), and my father’s birthday was last weekend.  My mother will make this cake, and now that I am in an ice cream phase, I am trying to figure out what ice cream to make with it.  I’m thinking either vanilla or perhaps a vanilla earl grey lavender ice cream.  We’ll see what happens.

It’s a great dish for entertaining though, as you can make it ahead and just keep it bubbling away on the stove.  Serve over some basmati rice with some naan, and you’ve got a great meal.

 

Chicken Vindaloo

Source: India Snacks

2 teaspoon cumin seeds, whole
1 teaspoon peppercorns, black
1 teaspoon cardamom seeds
1 cinnamon (3 in stick)
1 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds, whole
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, whole
5 tablespoon white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon brown sugar, light
10 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 large yellow onions, peeled and cut into; half-rings
6 tablespoon water
1 ginger, fresh (1-inch cube), peeled; and coarsely chopped
10 garlic cloves, peeled and coarsely; chopped (or less)
1 tablespoon coriander seeds, ground
1/2 teaspoon turmeric, ground
2 lb chicken breast (boneless), cut into; bite-sized pieces
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 lb new potatoes, peeled and quartered

Grind cumin seeds, black pepper, cardamom seeds, cinnamon, black mustard seeds and fenugreek seeds together in a spice grinder. In a small bowl, combine ground spices, vinegar, salt, cayenne pepper and brown sugar. Set aside.

Heat oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Fry onions, stirring frequently, until they are a rich, dark brown. Remove onions with a slotted spoon and put them in a blender. Turn off the heat, but do not discard the oil. Add about 3 T water (or more if necessary) to the onions and blend until you have a smooth paste. Add this onion paste to the spices in the bowl. This mixture is the vindaloo paste.

Put the ginger and garlic in a blender. Add about 3 T water and blend until you have a smooth paste.

Heat the remaining oil in the saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the ginger, garlic paste. Stir until the paste browns slightly. Add the coriander and turmeric. Stir a few seconds. Add the chicken, a little at a time, and brown lightly.

Add the vindaloo paste, tomato sauce and potatoes to the chicken in the saucepan. Stir and bring to a slight boil. Cover the saucepan, reduce heat to low and simmer for about an hour, or until potatoes are tender. Serve over rice.

I hope you all are enjoying your summer!  I know I am!  We have had some fantastic weather here in Boston this summer, so I have been out and about, and spending less time in the kitchen.  Brad and I also are completely spoiled by having a grill right out our front door, so I would say we grill anywhere from 3-5 nights a week.  It’s fantastic, if you ask me.

One thing that I have been playing around with a lot this summer is finding good summer salads.  We eat dinner with our neighbors quite a bit (we live in a fantastic loft community and have made some great friends here), and one night they brought over this salad from Whole Foods that I decided to try to recreate.  It was super simple, but full of great summer flavors, like cucumbers (my favorite!), olives (again a favorite), cubed feta, tomatoes, and onions.  And it was all in Italian dressing, so you can’t get much easier than that.  Not only is it easy, but it’s a huge hit, and also makes a big batch, with lots for leftovers.

When we go on our somewhat annual trip to Charleston later this summer (I know I’m asking for it, going in August), I hope to hit up their fantastic farmer’s market and make lots of salads to have with dinner.  No one wants to spend their entire beach vacation cooking (unless that is what you really like to do on vacation) in the kitchen.

As usual I know I have dropped off the face of the earth, but I have been busy with my new job, playing tons of tennis around the Metrowest area, and just trying to relax and do as much as I can before I start school in the fall.  I also happen to have a new toy, just in time for my birthday…

In a completely out of left field move, Brad surprised me with an Addams Family pinball machine for my birthday, which happened to be last week.  Now let me just say that we don’t do surprises at all, so this one was HUGE.  Not only have I a) wanted a pinball machine for AGES, and b) wanted this particular one for at least 5 years, but c) I am impossible to surprise, since I am the eternal planning queen.  So I was completely surprised when two weekends ago I was told to “make myself decent” because something or someone was coming to our house.  When the truck pulled up I was NOT expecting what was inside.

All I have to say is that I love it, it’s all I ever wanted, and I currently have our all time high score of something like 132 million points.  Which was no small feat.  I’m afraid we might end up with a collection someday…which isn’t really a bad thing, when you think about it.

I am hoping to not disappear so much in the coming weeks, but can’t promise anything (big work event in a few), but I do have another summer salad (watermelon and feta!) and some amazing s’mores cupcakes coming soon(ish).

Cucumber, Tomato, Feta and Olive Salad

2-3 cucumbers, skin on and sliced however you prefer
1 good size jar of pitted kalamata olives, rinsed
1 yellow onion, sliced thin
2-3 tomatoes, sliced however you prefer
1 package of feta that isn’t crumbled, cut into 1 in. cubes
1 whole bottle of your favorite Italian dressing (mine happens to be Newman’s family recipe)

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients.  Let sit for a few hours before serving.  You can drain the dressing for serving, or just use a slotted spoon (which is what I happen to do).  Enjoy!

I’m back!  And I have exciting news!  After a really long, sometimes heartbreaking, job search, I have finally found a new job.  I have been employed the entire time, which I am very thankful for, but after 5 years at my current job it is time to move on.  I’m really excited about the new opportunity, and I start at the beginning of June.  I’m taking a bit of time between jobs where I hope to paint some of my condo, and maybe start quilting again.  We’ll see.

Anyway, on to food.  Even though I have been pretty busy lately, it doesn’t mean that I have not been making fabulous new things.  In fact, I have quite a few recipes to share in the coming weeks.  This one is an instant favorite, and some friends of mine gave me the recipe.  It comes from Hannaford (as in the supermarket), and they have magazines with tons of delicious recipes in it.  He knew Brad and I like to grill (and we share our grill), and it had tons of burgers and grilled pizza (my new favorite way to make pizza).  We decided to try this one, and invite our friends over to see how it came out!

We all agreed it was really delicious, and it actually looked the same as the picture in the magazine.  It also happened to be during our boil water order, so grilling seemed an easy way to be able to cook without having to wash too many dishes with water that has been boiled.  In case you didn’t hear, the greater Boston area had to boil water for a few days because a pipe broke and we were being supplied with reserve water.  Not so fun, especially on the hottest weekend of the year thus far.

These burgers are super easy, and super delicious.  They are also enough for a meal on their own, you don’t really need any sides.  The magazine also had a recipe for blue cheese dressing, but I was lazy and used bottled stuff.  And it definitely didn’t disappoint.  I will be definitely making these all summer long.

Buffalo Chicken Burgers

Source: Hannaford

1 1/2 lbs. ground chicken (I used 2, and made 5 burgers)
5 Tb. Hot sauce (Frank’s!)
1/4 tsp. old bay seasoning
1/2 tsp. paprika
pinch cayenne pepper
4 whole wheat bulkie rolls, split
4 leaves lettuce
Chunky blue cheese dressing

Preheat grill to medium high.

In a large bowl, combine chicken, 1/4 cup of the hot sauce, old bay, paprika, and cayenne pepper.  Mix until evenly blended.  Form into 4 or 5 patties.

Place burgers on grill and cook undisturbed for 6-7 minutes until well-marked.  Flip burgers and cook for another 5-6 minutes until cooked through.  Brush the tops of the burgers with the remaining hot sauce.

To assemble, place a lettuce leaf on the bottom of each roll, top with a burger, and put blue cheese dressing on top, and top with the other half of the roll.  Serve immediately, with additional hot sauce on the side.

This is another soup recipe I found over at for the love of cooking, and Pam really knows her stuff.  I had bookmarked this one ages ago but was hesitant to make it because a) I didn’t have any fresh corn, and wouldn’t for months, and b) Brad is really not a corn fan.  I will eat corn at least once a week during the summer, but he won’t really touch the stuff unless he has to.  I do try to sneak it into certain things, but I knew corn chowder might be a tough sell.

(As you can see, I was playing with features on Picasa in the above photo)  Anyway, we both really loved this recipe, and I even made it with frozen corn, so I can only imagine how much better it will be with fresh corn.  The bacon flavor really plays through, and it’s not too heavy, even though there is half and half in it.  The potatoes add a nice heartiness, and all in all I really loved it.  I will definitely be making it again and again.  It’s also perfect with a few slices of crusty, homemade bread.  Not to mention it makes really fabulous leftovers, and Brad even told me I didn’t give him enough for lunch the next day.  In my defense, I was trying to stretch it so we could each have lunch for two days in a row.

As you might have noticed, I’m a huge fan of soups, especially easy, delicious (and cheap!) ones.  I know we’re getting into spring, and no one really wants a hearty soup anymore, but here in New England it will be 70 one day and 50 the next.  Even though it’s really nice here, I managed to score a ham bone from Easter dinner, and I will be making pea soup (and sharing the recipe, of course) this weekend.  Hey, it’s supposed to go down to the 50’s this weekend, so what better food to make?

Corn Chowder with Potatoes and Bacon

Source: for the love of cooking

3-5 slices bacon (I had thick cut pepper bacon, and it was delicious)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
4 cups fresh corn kernels (about 7 ears) I actually used 4 cups thawed frozen corn, and it was delicious
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
3 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup 1% reduced-fat milk
1 cup half-and-half
16 oz fingerling potatoes, diced (our grocery store didn’t have fingerlings, so I used baby yellow potatoes)
Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper, to taste

Cook bacon in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove bacon from pan; crumble. Add onion to drippings in pan; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Add corn, chopped thyme, and garlic to pan; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, milk, half-and-half, and potatoes; bring to a simmer. Cover and cook 20-30 minutes or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.

Using an immersion blender, blend about 3/4 of soup in pot.  You can also use a regular blender and blend about 2 cups of the soup and stir back into pot.  Stir in salt and black pepper; sprinkle with crumbled bacon. Enjoy.

I know the above picture isn’t the best photo I’ve ever shared, nor does it necessarily look like the most delicious soup ever.  It’s black bean soup, and that stuff is hard to photograph, even with my food photo lights.  Especially when you throw a piece of bread into the mix, the camera can’t even deal with the light and dark.

So let’s talk about the soup.  It’s made with one of my favorites, black beans, AND it is made in the crock pot, not to mention it’s cheap and easy.  The cooking time can vary, as each crock pot is different, and this recipe uses dry beans instead of canned.  Which was a first for me, as you might remember that I am all over canned beans.

It’s also vegetarian, which is another big step for me.  The soup has quite a bit of a kick, because you throw in some canned chipotles, which are also new for me.  All in all it’s a good soup, and I highly recommend it.

Black Bean Soup

Source: smitten kitchen

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium-size red onions, chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium-size green bell pepper, chopped
4 garlic cloves, minced
4 teaspoons ground cumin
1 16-ounce package dried black beans
1 tablespoon chopped chipotle chiles from a can (I used closer to 2)
7 cups hot water
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and both bell peppers and sauté until beginning to brown, about eight minutes. Add garlic and cumin; stir one minute. Transfer mixture to 6-quart slow cooker. Add beans and chipotles, then 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high until beans are very tender, which could be 3-6 hours, depending on your crock pot.

Transfer two cups bean mixture to blender; puree until smooth. Return puree to remaining soup in slow cooker.  If you have an immersion blender, you can just stick it in the crock pot and puree some of the soup.  Stir in lime juice, salt, and pepper. Adjust seasonings to taste; we found we needed more salt. Ladle soup into bowls. Spoon dollop of toasted cumin seed cream (below) over each bowl and serve.

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