23 July 2008

Yummy Chicken Stir Fry

One of my favorite things to make is chicken stir fry. Its nothing special, but tastes super yummy! You can make it with a chicken bullion base or a soy sauce base...I prefer the chicken base then putting a little soy sauce on the finished product. I generally make white or brown rice with my stir fry, but I forgot the buy some at the store and I didn't want to waste any of my basmati rice...so I did what any other domestically challenged person would do, I used Rice-A-Roni Fried Rice flavor and added 1 egg to it.

Stir Fry Ingredients
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast cut into small pieces
1-2 chicken bullion cubes
1/2 lb pea pods
1/2 lb bean sprouts
2-3 baby bok choy
1 tbsp flour
dash of salt and pepper (to taste)

In a large skillet (or better yet, a wok), cook the chicken (with some salt and pepper) until it is thoroughly cooked (I'm paranoid so I cook it until it starts to brown). Add about a cup of water and the pea pods. Cover and let the steam cook the pods for a couple minutes. Next, add the bean sprouts and replace the cover. Cook for another minute. Add a touch more water and the bullion cubes then mix the flour with some water and use it as a thickening agent and thicken the chicken stock. The final step is adding the bok choy. Mix everything up and serve with rice.

11 July 2008

I've Been Tagged!!!

The rules:
Each player answers the questions about themselves. At the end of the post, the player then tags 5 people and posts their names, then goes to their blogs and leaves them a comment, letting them know they’ve been tagged and asking them to read your blog. Let the person who tagged you know when you’ve posted your answer.

What was I doing ten years ago?
Working a dead end job that I hated!

What are five (non-work) things on my to-do list for today?
1. Wash the towels
2. Clean the bathroom
3. Put laundry away
4. Dust the house
5. Make dinner (nothing special, chicken on the grill, rice and mixed veggies)

Five snacks I enjoy:
1. Fruit Naturals Grapefruit Cups
2. Snikers
3. Cheese cubes
4. Cookies
5. Pineapple

Things I would do if I were a billionaire:
1. Pay off debt
2. Have a kick butt house built on 200 acres of land
3. Travel the world for a year
4. Take my family on a dream vacation for at least 2 weeks
5. Go on a shopping spree (clothes, furniture, car...)

Places I’ve lived:
1. Waterford, MI
2. Hazel Park, MI
3. Southfield, MI

Jobs I’ve had:
1. Fast food manager
2. Administrative Assistant
3. Business Coordinator
4. Controller

I will be tagging:
1. Shelly - http://lovestonom.blogspot.com/
2. Steph - http://lokiskitchen.blogspot.com/
3. Lindsay - http://lovedeliciousness.blogspot.com/
4. Amy - http://amyvan317.blogspot.com/
5. Tori - http://hyperpinkmini.com/ (sorry, I know you were tagged already...but... :-) )

Taco Bake (Yummm)

I love Lindsay (Iheartkeith on theknot...love deliciousness on blogspot) for this recipe! I have made it twice now and it tastes better each time. I swear it gave me my "O" face (lol). I used regular taco seasoning the first time, but this time I used Ortega Jalapeno and Onion and it was fabulous!!! The left overs are just as amazing! This dish makes me happy!

1 lb. ground round (or turkey or chicken)
1 package taco seasoning
15 oz. can tomato sauce
8 oz. seashell pasta
8 oz package cream cheese (softened in microwave)
1/2 c. sour cream
8 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese (I like mild cheddar)

Brown ground beef, drain. Add taco seasoning and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, cook pasta according to directions. Drain.

Mix softened cream cheese and sour cream in separate bowl.

Spray bottom of 9 x 13 pan with Pam. Put pasta in bottom of pan. Spread cream cheese mixture over pasta. (This is kind of hard to do. Just dollop spoonfuls of the mixture about an inch apart and spread the best you can.) Spoon ground beef mixture over this. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top.

Bake @350 for 30 minutes. Cool about 15 - 20 minutes before serving.

10 July 2008

Delicious Fruit Salad

I made this fantastic fruit "salad" and fruit dip for my best friend, Jennifer's, Mehendi party on July 2. I purchased the bowl that the salad and dip is in from Bed, Bath and Beyond and it was the best $29 I spent. The bowl I think really made the salad look so much nicer than if it were in just a regular glass, metal or Tupperware bowl.

Fruit Salad Ingredients
(any portion of)
Grapes (red and green)
Fresh Mango

Chop all the melons up, slice the kiwi and strawberries, mix it all together and PRESTO you have fruit salad!

Fruit Dip
8-16 oz Cream Cheese, room temperature
1 large container of Marshmallow Fluff

Using your stand mixer (or hand mixer if you don't have a KitchenAid), beat the cream cheese on medium until it is smooth (lumps = bad). With your mixer on low, start adding in the marshmallow fluff to the point where your mixture starts to form somewhat solid peaks. You can add food coloring (I used red in the picture) to make your desired color or just leave it white...it tastes fantastic no matter what!

The fruit dip also makes an excellent cake frosting (white cake with fruit dip frosting makes me drool thinking about it)


New Kitchen Coming Soon!

Last night Rob and I talked about the projects that are left to do with our house. We made a list of what needs to be done and took a bunch of measurements. We are getting new carpet throughout our house and after that we are going to start our kitchen remodel!!! The remodel will start "hopefully" at the end of the summer! We are going today to order all of our cabinetry and purchase the items needed to make our pretty tile counter top and back splash and all the other miscellaneous supplies. We are taking advantage of the Lowes or Home Depot 10% off for opening a credit card...we figure we may as well get everything and use the 10% at one time! Yay for saving a little bit of money!!!

We are doing white cabinets with a tanish floor and the tiles for the counter are all tanish colors and we will be accenting with some "special" tiles to make the kitchen look prettier!!!

Check back in the next couple months for remodel updates!!!

09 July 2008

Basmati Rice

Basmati rice is an Indian rice that is quite different from regular long grain rice like Minute Rice or other rices along those lines. Its a longer rice that requires either being rinsed or soaked in clean water. The rice above is what I have found in the local grocery store and is very good. Its about $5 for this 1lb bag.

Tandoori Chicken

Tandoori chicken is a-mazing and rather simple to make (don't let the ingredients list deterr you from this delicious, flavorful dish). Rob and I opted to chunk the chicken breast and place the chicken on skewers rather than do whole breasts which would need to be cut anyway (it was easier this way, I strongly recommend it). Tandoor Chicken is best served with Basmati rice (or veggie rice, see below) and Naan...steamed curried vegetables would be very tasty too...but I haven't tried making those yet!

Note: All the Indian food I have had, and what I have made, is served "warm" not "hot"

1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts (I prefer boneless)
1/2 C plain yogurt
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic
1 inch piece fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp red chili powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cardamom

Run garlic through a press, or finely mince. Grate ginger. Mix together yogurt, oil, lemon juice, garlic, ginger, and spices.

Make diagonal slashes in the chicken meat to allow marinade to penetrate better. Pour yogurt mixture over chicken parts.

Marinate for 4 hours at room temperature, or overnight in the refrigerator, turning occasionally. If the chicken is placed in the refrigerator, bring it to room temperature before cooking (approximately 1 hour). I recommend overnight to get full flavor!

Preheat broiler.

Brush grill or shallow baking pan with a little oil to keep chicken from sticking. Arrange chicken on the pan.

Broil chicken 2-3 inches away from the heat until cooked through, approximately 25 minutes, turning halfway through.

Naan (Indian Flat Bread)

Naan is a simple and delicious flat bread that is the most common bread in India. It is wonderful to use with rices, curries and my favorite, Tandoori Chicken. The recipe looks like it is very difficult, but it is really quite simple. In all, it took about a half hour to make (minus the time for proofing). I have a feeling this bread is going to become a staple in my house!!! Delicious!!! The picture above shows the raw Naan ready to be cooked and the second picture is the cooked Naan...I used a fry pan and cooked stove top.

Note: You can add spices to this bread if you are feeling daring. I have had it with cumin seeds, onion seeds, blackened sesame seeds and so on. I think it is best without spice and brushed with Ghee.

2/3 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon white sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup ghee
2 tablespoons plain yogurt
2 teaspoons kalonji (onion seed) - opotional

Whisk the warm water with the yeast and sugar until the yeast is dissolved. Cover and let stand in a warm place for 10 minutes.

Sift flour and salt three times into a large bowl add the yeast mixture, half of the ghee and all the yogurt. Mix into a soft dough then knead on a floured surface for about 5 minutes or until dough is smooth and elastic. Place the dough in a large greased bowl, cover and let stand in a warm place for 1 1/2 hours or until the dough is doubled in size .

Punch down dough then knead for 5 minutes. Divide dough into 6 pieces. Roll each piece out into 8 inch round naans.

Cover an oven tray with foil and grease the foil. Brush the naan with a little of the remaining ghee and sprinkle with some of the kalonji. Cook naan one at a time under a very hot grill for about 2 minutes on each side or until puffed and just browned.

Biryani (Vegetable Rice)

This dish is amazingly aromatic! The spices that are used are simply delicious...my entire house smelled of Indian food last night and it was so yummy! I suppose you can change the vegetables used if you are not a big fan of tomatoes, peas and carrots...but the onion is a must have in this dish. If you don't like spicy food, then this dish is not for you (although, I do believe you can control the heat by skipping red or black pepper). I skipped the potato in my rice because I forgot to buy one at the market.

Note: The recipe calls for a spice mix (which is homemade) called Garam Masala. To make this spice mix you take whole uncooked spices, brown them stove top and grind them. I found a Curry spice at a local market that has everything Garam Masala has for a lot cheaper than buying whole spices and easier than cooking and grinding them myself (yeah, I'm lazy like that). Here is a picture of the Curry spice I used:

2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
1 onion, cut into 1/2-inch dice (red or yellow onion)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
1 tablespoon garlic
1 tomato, diced
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup peas
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced potato
1 cube chicken bouillon
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red chile pepper
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
4 cups water
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed and drained

Melt ghee in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir Garam Masala; cook until the spices are fragrant, and the cumin seeds begin to pop, about 3 minutes.

Stir in garlic, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a simmer, and cook until the water has evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in peas, carrot, and potato. Season with chicken bouillon, salt, red chile, black pepper, and turmeric. Stir well, then cover, and cook for 3 minutes.

Pour in 4 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, stir in basmati rice, reduce heat to medium, recover, and simmer for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to low and continue to cook until the rice has softened, 10 to 15 minutes more.

Kheer (Indian Rice Pudding)

I got this recipe off AllRecipes and changed it up just a little. When I had this dessert (which was homemade by Indian ladies) it included Vermicelli and cashews rather than Basmati rice. It was absolutely fantastic. Because cardamom pods are very hard to find (and somewhat expensive) I purchased already ground cardamom (which mixed in milk tastes an awful lot like Chai). I used 1/4 tsp of ground cardamom. This dessert is very rich and is fantastic served with a sweet corn bread on the side.

Note: I like kheer to be a little on the liquid side rather than a true "rice pudding". You can adjust the thickness of kheer by adding or taking away milk. So, if you like a thicker kheer then add less milk or a runnier kheer, add more milk. Get it?

1/2 cup uncooked Basmati Rice
2 quarts milk
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 pods cardamom
2 teaspoons rose water
1/4 cup Raw Cashews

Place the rice in a small bowl and cover with water. Soak for one hour.

Drain the rice and place it in a large, heavy saucepan with the milk over low heat. Cook, covered 50 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender. Stir in sugar and cardamom and cook 20 minutes more. Remove from the heat and stir in the rose water. Serve topped with cashews.

08 July 2008


So, ever since my best friends wedding I have been on an Indian food kick. I was spoiled the week of her wedding with endless homemade Indian cuisine that was so fantastically delicious I thought I'd try my hand in it. What I didn't know is that traditional Indian cuisine calls for Ghee about 90% of the time. Ghee is a refined butter and very easy to make. I decided to search on how to make it since the cheapest I could find it online was about $20 after shipping. The directions are very simple. (The pictures above show Ghee in its final clarified state and the second picture is of the milk products curdled at the bottom of the pan).

1 lb Unsalted "real" butter (not margarine)

In a heavy saucepan, put the 1 lb of butter in the pan on medium heat. Allow the butter to melt down and come to a rolling boil. Let the butter boil for about 15 minutes. It will smell sort of like popcorn (no kidding). The milk fats will curdle at the bottom of the saucepan and the oil on top of the curdles is what's left, and that is called Ghee. The Ghee should be a clear gold color, once the Ghee reaches the clear gold color you will want to remove it from the heat and let it sit until it is room temperature. Once it is cooled you have to strain it into a clean glass jar. I used a couple of old pantyhose to strain it (cheese cloth or a super fine sieve will work if you have either, if not, use pantyhose). Avoid any water getting into the glass jar as it will cause harmful bacteria to form and ruin your Ghee.

Ghee has many beneficial elements to it. It is refined to the point where all the fats that are bad for you are boiled out leaving you with an oil. The Ghee aids in digestion and offers other benefits that you can't get from using olive oil or actual butter. It can also be used as massage oil (I don't think I'll be using it for that, but good to know).