I’ve been cooking out of my comfort zone this past week.  Not exactly sure why, but all I know is that I’ve been wanting to try new things, and make some things from scratch, things that most people would just pick up at the store.  Actually, I think I do know why.  I want to bake.  It’s the time of year that I usually stock up on canned pumpkin and make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins or cookies or other sweet treats.  But last winter I gained almost 10 pounds doing that, because I have no willpower to stay away from what I bake.  So this year, not so much baking.

My cooking streak started Saturday morning when I made “Dutch Babies” or “Baby Germans” (the name depends on where you go out to breakfast).  I LOVE these, especially if I need something a little more protein based for breakfast.  I woke up an hour earlier than I needed to that morning and got the batter mixed up, the pans hot, melted the butter, stuck them in the oven, and voila- we had a fancier-than-normal breakfast.

Saturday night I wanted to make some hot wings, Buffalo New York style.  Which means they are deep fried and crispy, not saucy and gooey.  Yep, got the Presto Deep Fry machine out and cooked 30 wings, some battered zucchini (yuk), and to appease the kids I dropped some pillsbury biscuits into the fryer when I was done- coated them with sugar- just like a the Chinese buffet!  (Overcooked the wings, so that wasn’t as successful as I thought- but Jim and the kids loved the sugar ‘donuts’.)

Sunday morning I made The Original Pancake House “Apple pancake”.  Heavenly.  I made a double batch and the kids loved them.  Success!

Sunday evening I pulled out all the tricks in my book and decided to make grilled steaks topped with scallops, portobello mushrooms and bearnaise sauce, with a side of garlic mashed red potatoes.  YUM.  Sauce didn’t combine quite like it should, but tasted just fine and dinner was absolutely heavenly.  A lot of work, but sure worth it! I had to go to the store to buy White Wine Vinegar, Dry White Wine for cooking, and a shallot, oh and Turmeric- didn’t have any of those ingredients in my kitchen!

Monday is soccer- can’t make much on those nights.  But Tuesday night- I had the evening free and clear, so I was ready to tackle something big, something new.  I had defrosted a container of previously cooked turkey- mostly dark meat and smaller scraps on Sunday, and as of Monday I had NO idea what I was going to make with it.  I’m tired of creamy casseroles and pasta dishes, I wanted something completely different.

Months ago I made some Curry Chicken, following a recipe from a Facebook friend and it was a decent hit in our family, so I figured I’d just make that.  But it didn’t sit right with me for some reason.  This same Facebook friend also suggested I try making Chicken Jalfrezi sometime, which I still hadn’t done, so I looked over the recipe and figured maybe I’d give that one a shot.  Just to be safe, I asked her if she thought it would work out OK with my leftover turkey.  That’s when she suggested I Google “Tasty Kitchen Butter Chicken”.  So I did.  And came across this recipe—– from one of my most favorite bloggers—- the Pioneer Woman!  And she says that her husband loves it….so it HAS to be good!  I definitely wanted to give it a go.

The only ingredient I didn’t have on hand was “cardamom” which I read you can semi-duplicate by mixing equal parts of ginger and cinnamon.  So that’s what I did.  The recipe was fairly simple, not terribly hands-on or labor intensive.  A bit time consuming from the simmering aspect, but it was easy enough.

I didn’t have any basmati rice, but I had jasmine rice and figured it should work just as well.  I also read that it’s perfect with Naan bread.  I have no idea what Naan bread is, but I found a recipe online and decided I would make that, too.  (One of the drawbacks of my job- I can’t run to the store- or stop at the store on my way home from work if I’m missing an ingredient.  Which, by the way, a big Thank You to Kelli for her 2 small cans of Tomato Sauce).  The bread was good, but I don’t know if it tastes like it should.  Next time I’ll plan ahead and buy it from the store. Who knows.  It wasn’t difficult, it’s just that I’m not a fan of kneading and working with rising dough.  =o)  Even with my dough hook on the Kitchen-Aid mixer!

Back to the Butter Chicken.  Trevor had a friend spending the night, and another classmate had come by to play, so I invited them both to stay for dinner, explaining we were having Indian food and that it was something we had never eaten before.  They smelled it and decided it was worth a try.

It ended up being very very good.  Definitely a new favorite in our house.

BUTTER CHICKEN 

Ingredients:

4 pieces Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts (cut Into Bite Sized Pieces. I used previously cooked turkey pieces.)
5 cloves Garlic, Minced
1 teaspoon Salt
½ teaspoons Black Pepper
½ teaspoons Cayenne Pepper
¼ teaspoons Ground Coriander
¼ teaspoons Cumin
¼ teaspoons Cardamom
1 whole Lime, Juiced
1 whole Onion, Diced
¼ cups Butter
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Tomato Sauce
1 can (14.5 Oz. Can) Petite Diced Tomatoes
1 pint Whipping Cream (I used half-and-half)
1 bunch Chopped Cilantro, to taste

Instructions:

Combine first 9 ingredients and marinate overnight.

Saute the onion in the butter until soft. Add marinated chicken and cook about 10 minutes.  (Since my turkey meat was already cooked, I only cooked for about 5 minutes).  Add the tomato sauce and diced tomatoes. Cook for 30 minutes over medium-low heat with the lid on.  If the mixture is too watery, simmer with the lid off for several minutes.

Just before serving, add the whipping cream and cilantro.

Serve over Basmati Rice (or White Rice or whatever….)

Oh-  Did you know that Coriander is actually ground seeds from the Cilantro plant?  And don’t forget- if you don’t have Cardamom you can semi-duplicate by mixing equal parts of ginger and cinnamon.