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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 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.

This recipe comes to us by way of The Pioneer Woman Cooks, but is technically done by her friend, Pastor Ryan.  I’ve made Indian food maybe once before, and that dish came from a newspaper cooking section, and was not nearly as delicious as this one.  I don’t think I have ever had Chicken Tikka Masala before, but I knew it looked delicious and since it had so many interesting Indian spices in it, it had to be good, right?

And delicious it definitely was.  There were so many different flavors due to spices, and it was spicy as well, and the chicken was moist and delicious.  I believe the fact that the chicken was so moist has to do with the fact that you broil it, but cover it in plain yogurt first.  The first time I made this was for my sister in law and her husband, and they couldn’t get enough of it.  The first time I ate it, my stomach was mad at me for 2 days.  But that didn’t stop me from getting back on the horse and making it again, that’s how good it was.  And the second time, my stomach was fine, thank you very much.

Now that I think about it, I never even had Indian food until a few years ago, when my sister in law and husband took us to one of their favorite places, Bukhara in JP, Mass.  They took us there a few times, and I could never get over the perfect rice, the chunks of chicken in their spicy yet complex sauces, and the naan.  Oh, the naan.  Had I paid attention once, I would have known that my sister in law wasn’t drinking, as they told us she was pregnant with our adorable nephew about a month later.  Now I know the signs, should they decide to have another baby.  I’m on to their sneaky ways.

Make a big batch of this, serve it with some amazingly delicious Trader Joe’s naan, and you will be set for days.

Chicken Tikka Masala

3-4 Chicken Breasts
1/2 cup Plain Yogurt
6 Tb. Butter
1 1/2 cups Heavy Cream
28 oz. crushed or diced tomatoes (I used two 15 oz. cans of fire roasted diced and that worked well)
1 large onion
4 cloves of garlic
1×2 inch chunk of fresh ginger
3 tb. garam masala (I had to do a bit of searching for this, but found it at Whole Foods)
ground coriander
kosher salt
1 tb. sugar
2 cups basmati rice
1 tb. ground tumeric
frozen peas

Season the chicken breasts with kosher salt, cumin, and ground coriander.  Coat the chicken breasts with the plain yogurt.  Set the chicken on a metal cooling rack on top of a baking sheet (covered in tin foil, this is very important, I forgot to do so, and paid dearly when doing dishes).  Place about 10-12 inches under broiler and broil for about 5-7 minutes each side, until slightly blackened.  Remove from oven.

Dice the onion and heat up 2 tb. of butter in a large skillet.  Cook the onions until they are slightly browned.  Next add in onions and ginger and cook for a few more minutes.

Add in salt, 3 tb. garam masala spice, and diced tomatoes.  Continue cooking and stirring, scraping up all the browned bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add 1 tb. of sugar, and let simmer for about 5 minutes.

To your rice cooker (or you can make it on the stove as well) add your rice, 4 tb. butter, 1 tsp. salt, 1 tb. ground tumeric, and 4 cups water.  Once the rice is done, stir in frozen peas.  The heat of the rice will thaw the peas right out.

Once the sauce has simmered for a bit, stir in the heavy cream.  Chop up your chicken breasts into good sized chunks, and add them to the sauce.   Serve the chicken mixture over rice, with some naan on the side.

Are you looking for a most delicious meal, that is easy to make and won’t break the bank?  Then have I got one for you!  Chicken linguine (even the name is basic and to the point) is something my mom only started making within the last 10-ish years.  The first time she made it, my husband had come to visit me at my parents house, even before we were actually dating.  So it’s no wonder he stayed around and decided to marry me 🙂

The original recipe she has makes enough for a small army, and uses 2 pounds of pasta.  So that first time she made it, we had a TON.  And my husband happens to be of the didn’t-really-get-home-cooked-food-as-a-child-and-will-eat-just-about-anything variety.  And so he did.  And so he still does.

Which to me was strange, as my mom was always in the kitchen when I was growing up.  It might not have always been the most healthy of foods, but man, do I make a MEAN mac and cheese, all because of my mom.  So naturally I am always in the kitchen, making something from scratch.  The only food I like to order in is chinese food and Indian food (mainly because when you cook curry, your house smells like it for days).

But you didn’t come hear to read about all that, you came for the recipe.  This is something you can very easily whip up midweek, and have leftovers for days.

Chicken Linguine

1 pound of linguine (I use whole wheat, or whole grain)
1 pound of chicken breast (I like the thin sliced stuff), cut up into manageable pieces
olive oil
2 cloves garlic, diced
red pepper flakes (as much or as little as you like)
juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup (or more or less, depends on how much sauce you want) low sodium chicken broth
handful chopped parsley
handful grated parmesan cheese (I didn’t have any, and used pecorino romano)

Start out by boiling the water for your pasta, as that always takes the longest for me.  Cook your pasta according to the instructions on the box.

Cut up your chicken, and set aside.  In a large skillet heat up enough olive oil to cover bottom of pan.  Add in garlic and sautee until tender, this should take a few minutes.  Add in salt (about a tsp. or so) and red pepper flakes (again, this depends on how hot or mild you like your food, I do about a tsp. or so), and cook for a minute.

Add in chicken and cook through.  Once chicken is pretty much cooked through, add in lemon juice, and quickly bring to a simmer.  Next add in chicken broth, and bring to a simmer again, yet let it simmer for 5-10 minutes.

Once pasta is cooked, either add the chicken mixture to the pasta, or vice versa, depending on how large your pot is.  Sprinkle in parsley and cheese, and mix together.  If you like lots of cheese, keep adding it in (I happen to add a ton of cheese, because I happen to love it).  And that’s it!  Simple, and dinner’s ready!

This is one of those easy, hearty soups that warms you from the inside out.  It’s perfect to make on a cold wintery day (much like we have been experiencing lately), but I’ll still make it in warmer weather just because it’s so easy, and it’s just that good.

I got the recipe from my now former boss, and I believe it originates with Rachael Ray.  You can certainly make it without chicken to get a vegetarian version (just use veggie stock instead), and you can add to or take out whatever you want.  It makes for a great spicy tomato soup, or you can load it up with beans, corn, and chicken like I do for a hearty meal.  Paired with some homemade bread, this is a meal you can’t go wrong with.

Chicken Tortilla Soup

olive oil
small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, diced
red pepper flakes (use to your liking)
1 28 oz. can whole peeled tomatoes
1 carton (or 4 cups) low sodium chicken broth (or veggie)
1 tsp. cumin
juice of 1-2 limes (depending on how much juice they yield)
8 corn tortillas, cut into strips (I have used flour when there were no corn in the store, and that worked well enough)
1 rotisserie chicken, shredded off the bone (found in the prepared foods section)
2 cans of beans of your choice (I use black and usually dark red kidney)
small container of frozen corn
shredded mexican blend cheese
sour cream (if you’re into that, I am not)

In a medium to large soup pot, heat olive oil (just enough to cover the bottom).  When oil is heated, add in onion and garlic, and cook until softened, about 10 minutes.  Add in salt and red pepper flakes, and let cook for 2 minutes.

Add in canned, whole tomatoes.

Add chicken stock, and let come to a simmer.  Simmer, uncovered, for about 15-20 minutes.

Add in cumin, lime juice, and tortilla strips.  Let simmer for about 3 minutes more.

Using an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth.  If you don’t have one (you should get one, it will change your life), you can blend the soup in batches using a regular blender (just be careful since it will be super hot).

At this point I start adding in all my goodies, chicken, frozen corn, and beans (that have been rinsed).  I bring everything back to a simmer, so that everything is heated through.

I like to serve the soup with some shredded Mexican cheese on top, and if you like you can also serve with sour cream and cilantro.


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