Easy Tikka Masala

This is one of the easiest tikka masala recipes I've made. And who doesn't like tikka masala? You can make it vegetarian by replacing chicken with tofu.

4 chicken breasts
1 package extra firm tofu

1 cup plain yogurt
2 Tbsp lemon juice (juice from 1 small lemon)
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp red pepper
2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground ginger

1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeno, minced
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Garam Masala
1/2 tsp salt
1 14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 15 oz. can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1-2 cups cream

1. Combine yogurt, lemon juice, cumin, red pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, salt, and ground ginger in a dish or large ziploc bag for the marinade.
2. Cut the chicken or tofu into 1-inch cubes and toss in marinade to coat. Place in fridge 1-2 hours.
3. Prepare the sauce: melt the butter over medium heat. Add garlic and jalapeno and cook for 1 minute. Add coriander, cumin, paprika, garam masala, and salt, stir to combine.
4. Add tomato sauce and chickpeas, simmer for 15 minutes.
5. Cook chicken or tofu in skillet until done. Add to the sauce then stir in cream according to desired spiciness: 1 cup for hot-medium, 2 cups for medium-mild.

Serve over basmati or jasmine rice and naan, garnish with fresh cilantro.


Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread

As we know too well, all pumpkin chocolate chip breads are not created equal. The first key in this recipe is part whole wheat flour Great Harvest style. The second key, while not Great Harvest style, is applesauce, which keeps it from being too greasy.

1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour
2 cups white sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups canned pumpkin (or cooked and pureed)
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup applesauce
4 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
2/3 cup water
1 1 /2 cups chocolate chips (the darker the better in my opinion)

1. Preheat oven to 350°F degrees and grease three 8x4 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl whisk flours, sugars, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt together then stir in chocolate chips; set aside.
3. In a medium bowl whisk together pumpkin, oil, applesauce, eggs, vanilla and water.
4. Using a big wooden spoon, stir wet ingredients into dry ingredients until combined. Do not overmix.
5. Divide batter between prepared pans and bake for 55-65 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
6. Cool for 25 minutes in pans before turning out onto wire racks.


Apple cranberry bread

Fall bread great for rainy days.

1 cup flour
3/4 cup flax flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon 
3/4 tsp cloves
1/4 cup heavy cream (or softened butter)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup dried cranberries

1. Grease one bread loaf pan.  Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2. Combine flours, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves.
3. Whip heavy cream to whipped cream consistency, then add brown sugar til fluffy.  Mix in egg, then applesauce.
4. Add dry ingredients to applesauce mixture.  Mix in cranberries.
5. Place in bread pan and bake for 70 minutes.
6. Let cool for five minutes, then take out of pan and cool on rack.  Enjoy.


Slow-Cooker Chicken Curry

This is a delicious crowd pleaser that takes very little effort.  Perfecto!  Add carrots, potatoes, or your favorite veggie to change it up. Serve with jasmine or basmati rice.  Serves 8. 
Photo and recipe from Martha Stewart here. 

3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed
2 medium onions, halved and thinly sliced
8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
16 thin slices peeled fresh ginger (about 1 ounce)
2 tablespoons curry powder, preferably Madras
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Coarse salt
2 packages frozen green peas (10 ounces each)
2 cups unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup toasted cashews (optional, for serving)
1/4 cup cilantro leaves (optional, for serving)

1. In a 5-quart slow cooker, toss chicken, onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, coriander, and cumin to coat. Season with 2 teaspoons salt. Cover, cook on high setting until chicken is fork-tender, about 4 hours (do not uncover while cooking).

2. Stir in coconut milk and peas; cover, cook until peas are heated through, about 20 minutes.

3. Transfer chicken to a large bowl; shred with fork. Return to pot; toss with sauce.

4. To serve, garnish with 1/2 cup toasted cashews and 1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves, if desired.


Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

I love this soup! So simple and so flavorful. It's worth using red lentils. Recipe from The New York Times.

3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground chili powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro.

1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup then add it back to pot. Soup should be somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Yield: 4 servings