Slow Cooker Tikka Masala

My slow cookers are, by far, the hardest working appliances in my kitchen.

Well, aside from the wine opener, that is …..

Seriously though, my love for these amazing gadgets is well documented and very well known. Sabrina has stopped me on several occasions from purchasing yet another crock pot/slow cooker, because each time we are in a store I always come across a “new and improved” version of a model I already own. These versions usually have a totally cool upgrade, like an LED timer or something nifty like that.

And I get caught up in the moment, because I am so technologically hip, you know….

stop laughing Dad.

Anyway, with school starting this week, and J’s erratic work schedule, I will be relying on these babies more than ever.

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Suffice to say, this version of Tikka Masala will become my go-to recipe from now on. The only change I will make next time will be to add more chicken, as the sauce/meat ratio was a bit off for my liking.

Slow Cooker Tikka Masala – adapted from dinners, dishes and desserts

  • 3 lbs. boneless chicken thighs
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbs. fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 (29 oz) can tomato puree
  • 1½ cups plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 tbs. Garam Masala
  • 1 tbs. cumin
  • ½ tbs. paprika
  • ¾ tsp cinnamon
  • ¾ tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Chopped cilantro

In the medium bowl mix together onion, garlic, ginger, tomato puree, yogurt, olive oil, Garam Masala, cumin, paprika, cinnamon, pepper, and cayenne. Once well combined and smooth, add chicken and toss to coat.

Pour into the slow cooker, and add bay leaves. Cover and cook for 6 hours on low, or 3 hours on high.

Garnish with cilantro, and serve with flatbread or rice.

Cheesy Grits

Update: Thanks to my eagle eyed proofreader (aka Dad), I have corrected the grammatical errors and have hopefully fixed the YouTube link…..

I will tell you, right off the bat, that grits are NOT something I was familiar with until I moved to Texas. Previously, whenever I heard the term grits, I would think of the old TV show “Alice”…. and yes I’m dating myself here, as that show aired from 1976 to 1985…

Which was last week, right?

riiiight…..

Anyway, one of the waitresses, Flo – she was the one with the beehive hairdo – her favorite expression, while snapping her chewing gum, was “Kiss my grits!”

And while kissing grits does not sound very appealing, eating them certainly is. I realized, after a few bites, that they are strikingly similar to polenta, just in a much more coarse texture. And made all that much better with the addition of cheese.

Because isn’t everything better with cheese?

Cheesy Grits – adapted very liberally from serious eats

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 2 cups water, plus more as necessary
  • 1 cup coarse ground grits
  • 4 tbs. unsalted butter
  • 4 ounces cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated
  • Freshly ground black pepper

Bring milk and water to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Stir in grits and reduce heat to a bare simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until grits are thick and creamy, about 25 minutes. When done, turn off the heat, stir in 4 tablespoons butter and the cheddar and Parmesan cheeses. Season with pepper, and thin with water if the grits have become too thick.

 

Heirloom Bakery Coffee Cake

Coffee cake. On a Sunday morning. With coffee, no less…

And to quote Ina Garten, “How bad could that be?” It wasn’t bad at all, because if the truth be told, it was delicious! This is one of those recipes that I will make again and again, as the cake was tender, the splotches of chocolate/cinnamon were heavenly, and I enjoyed it so much that I am seriously looking forward to a piece tomorrow morning, with my coffee (no pun intended), before I take the posse to school. You know Sabrina will be a senior this year, right?

Starting her last year of high school. Last year. Of high school. Did I mention it’s her last year?

Oh lord.…..

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Heirloom Bakery Coffee Cake – adapted from L.A. Times

Topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

3 tbs. all purpose flour

1 tbs. cocoa powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter, melted and cooled

In a large bowl, stir all the ingredients together. Set aside.

Cake:
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 cup sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Prep a 9-inch square pan by butter and flouring and/or line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and baking soda. Set aside.
Using a mixer with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until fully incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla, and blend together. Fold the dry ingredients into the batter.
Spoon half the batter into the 9-inch square baking pan and smooth out with an offset spatula. Top with half the topping. Add the remaining batter and smooth out. Finally, top with the remaining topping.
Bake until golden and a toothpick comes out clean, about 40-50 minutes.

Buttermilk Drop Biscuits

Good morning and Happy Saturday!

Before I head off to the ranch to check progress on the fence installation, I thought I would post my new favorite biscuit recipe.

And yes, they were scooped and dropped, not rolled.

Sounds like a fire drill....

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Buttermilk Drop Biscuits – adapted from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (I used White Lily Flour)
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp baking soda
  • pinch salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 8 tablespoons butter, melted and slightly cooled

Heat oven to 475 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients. In a 2-cup liquid measure, stir together the chilled buttermilk and melted butter until the butter forms small clumps. Stir the buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture with a rubber spatula just until the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture slightly pulls away from the edges of the bowl.

Using a greased ¼-cup measure, scoop out mounds of the dough and drop them onto the prepared baking sheet, spacing about 1 ½ inches apart. Bake the biscuits until the tops are golden brown and crisp, 12 to 14 minutes. Remove from the oven, brush with additional melted butter. Serve warm.

Our favorite Meatloaf

Meatloaf seems to incite very strong feelings within my family.

And by that statement, I mean they either love it (Dad, J and Alexander), thoroughly dislike it (Mom), or are completely neutral about it (Sabrina and I).

Because when meatloaf is good, it’s really, really good. And when it’s bad, it’s….. inedible. And believe me, I’ve made my share of inedible meatloaves.

Let’s not talk about it those versions …..

However, after much trial and error, I think I’ve finally nailed it. And even though I don’t have a picture, suffice to say this is the recipe I will keep coming back to again and again.

Our Favorite Meatloaf – adapted from Ina Garten

3 tbs olive oil
3 cups chopped yellow onions
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3 tbs. Worcestershire sauce
1/3 cup milk
2 tbs. ketchup
2 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1/2 cup plain dry bread crumbs
2 large eggs, beaten
1/2 cup ketchup
5-6 slices thick cut bacon

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Heat the olive oil in a medium saute pan. Add the onions, thyme, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the onions are translucent but not brown. Off the heat, add the Worcestershire sauce, milk, and ketchup. Allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, combine the ground chuck, onion mixture, bread crumbs, and eggs, and mix lightly with a fork. Don’t mash or the meat loaf will be dense. Shape the mixture into a rectangular loaf on a sheet pan covered with foil. Spread the ketchup evenly on top, and lay the bacon slices on top of the ketchup. Bake for 45 minutes, until the internal temperature is 160 degrees F and the meat loaf is cooked through.

Oreo Cream Cake

Sometimes, in an effort to make things simpler, they must first become more convoluted.

Confused? Yeah, I was too at first....

However, after a brief consultation with my trusted consultants (aka Mom and Dad) , I realized that the housing plan I have concocted is, in fact, solid. It seemed overwhelming at first when I thought of all that I had to accomplish, and like a whole lotta extra work… until I broke it down into manageable steps, that is. After all, as my father put it so succinctly, we (meaning J & I) are “up against the wall” with the builder for the ranch. Things aren’t progressing as we had hoped (read: not progressing at all) and it has become quite evident that nothing is going to happen for awhile.

That was a long-winded way of saying we are going to be stuck in the rental home for a lot longer than we thought. 

But, as we’re oh-so-fond of saying, everything happens for a reason, you just don’t always know the reason at the time.

Which begs the question, why is there a random goat living at the ranch? What purpose does he serve? What is his reason for being there?

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Aside from glaring at me with his velociraptor-like eyes….. It’s creepy, I tell you.

On to a nicer subject, thankyouverymuch…..

Making this delicious Oreo-based dessert might seem overwhelming due to the number of steps involved, but I assure you taking the extra time to prepare the homemade chocolate pudding, and using real whipped cream instead of Cool Whip is well worth it.

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And it’s not hard to guess who I had in mind when I made it…

Oreo Cream Cake – adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

Crust
1 (15.35-ounce) package Oreo Cookies, plus a few more for garnish
½ cup butter, melted and slightly cooled

Cheesecake Layer
8 ounces cream cheese
1 cup powdered sugar
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Chocolate Pudding:
1 recipe homemade chocolate pudding, prepared and chilled

Topping:
1 cup heavy cream, whipped

Place the Oreo cookies in the bowl of a food processor, and process until fine crumbs form.  Pour into a bowl, add the melted butter and stir to combine. Transfer the mixture to a 9×13-inch pan and press into an even layer on the bottom of the pan. Refrigerate while the cheesecake layer is prepared.

In a mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and gradually add the powdered sugar until it is all incorporated. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds. Using a rubber spatula, gently fold in the whipped cream. Using an offset spatula, spread the mixture in an even layer over the crust.

Use an offset spatula to spread the chocolate pudding in an even layer over the cream cheese mixture.

Spread the whipped cream over the pudding layer, and sprinkle with additional Oreo crumbs. Cover and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving.

 

Santorini Sunrise

Baby, it’s hot out there…. 100 degrees, 87% humidity, and a chance of thunderstorms later.

It’s marvelous….

However, (because you know I always look at the bright side of things) I am simply loving this weather. I’m sure there are many people that would beg to differ, but coming from the arid, dusty and dehydrating atmosphere of the desert, all this moisture is working wonders for my skin.

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My hair? Not so much…

That’s what hats were invented for.

Santorini Sunrise – adapted from Saveur

4 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
2 tsp. honey
2 oz. pink grapefruit-infused vodka
3 oz. freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
1 oz. Campari

In a highball glass, muddle the mint and honey. Fill with ice; add vodka, juice, and Campari and stir. Garnish with additional mint leaves.