Chicken 65 Recipe

A really long time ago, my parents and I used to go to this South Indian restaurant called Pavani.  It’s since shut down, but I fell in love with a dish called “Ginger Chicken”.  It’s an appetizer that goes well with an ice cold beer.  It was SO good, and I thought I’d never have it again.  Then a place called Biryani Pot opened up in Houston and they had a dish called Chicken 65 that was the same exact thing.  This is a popular South Indian dish that I’m sure you’ll love!

The name is unique and I tracked down the real story behind it.  There was a military canteen in the South of India that served this dish.  The whole menu was in Tamil so the military men who didn’t know the language would order by the number on the menu.  This particular dish was #65, and so it became Chicken 65.

My version of it tastes exactly like the one at the restaurant.  You can imagine my excitement when I took the first bite of this.  It’s such an easy recipe too!

Here’s what you need:Ingredients

Fried Chicken

2 lbs. chicken thigh meat, cubed or in strips.

1 egg

2 Tbsp Corn starch

Salt and pepper to taste

Sauce:

1 medium onion chopped

4 cloves of garlic chopped

2 small green chilies chopped

1/2 cup fresh curry leaves

2 tbsp garlic ginger paste (equal amounts of each, blended to a paste)

1/2 tbsp cumin/coriander powder

1/2 tbsp turmeric

1/2 tbsp red chili powder

2 tbsp Chili Garlic Sauce (Sriracha – in the jar where you can see the seeds)

optional 1/4 tsp red food coloring.

So first you want to prepare the chicken.  I use thigh meat because it’s always juicier and more flavorful.  Beat the egg and pour it over the chicken.  Sprinkle it with the corn starch and salt and pepper.  Mix it until it’s all coated.

Chicken 65

Fry the chicken.  I chose to shallow fry it, but you can deep fry it as well.  Whatever your preference.  Once all the chicken is fully cooked, set it aside.

Chicken 65

Now you want to make the sauce.  Heat up a couple of tablespoons of vegetable oil and add in the onion.  Stir in the chopped garlic, green chilies, and curry leaves.  Mix around until the onions have softened and browned.

Chicken 65

Add in the turmeric, red chili powder, and cumin coriander.  Mix well.  Then add in the chili garlic sauce and the garlic ginger paste.  Mix around.  At this point you could add in the red food coloring.  I choose not to.

Chicken 65

Now the sauce is done so add back the chicken and mix until it’s coated well.  If your sauce is too liquidy just cook it down until it’s dry.  Unless you prefer it like that.

Chicken 65

You could top with some cilantro.  I would keep some yogurt nearby, it’s a hot dish!  But SO SO good.

Chicken 65

Let me know how yours turns out!

Jalapeno Popper Grilled Cheese

This is seriously, the best grilled cheese I’ve ever made.  And I make a pretty good grilled cheese.  I made two at first, and as we sit down to eat Jayesh takes a bite, pauses and smiles at me.  As he finishes his sandwich he whispers to me, “Are you going to make more?”  That is a success!  Of course I made more!

 

This sandwich is packed with flavor and so easy to make.  

Here’s what you need:

Bread

Jalapenos

Cooked bacon (skip this to make it vegetarian!)

Cream Cheese

Shredded mozzarella

Pepper

Garlic Powder

Emeril’s Original Essence Seasoning

 

First set your oven to broil and put your jalapenos on a baking sheet and roast them.  Flip them and keep an eye on them.  You want them nicely charred on every side.  They should be cooked through as well.  Once they are done immediately put them in a ziplock bag.  They’ll be easier to peel.  I always skip this step, I don’t really mind the skins.  Most of it will flake away when you chop them up.  So once you’re done with that, chop them up.  Remove the seeds if you like, but we leave them in because we love the heat!

Next mix your cream cheese and shredded cheese together.  Just eyeball it.  You want the consistency spreadable but pretty full of shredded cheese so it will melt throughout the sandwich.  I sprinkled in garlic powder, pepper, and Emeril’s original essence.  Again I just eyeballed this, tasting it along the way until it was flavorful.

Spread the cream cheese mixture on the bread (every slice), top with chopped grilled jalapenos, and put a couple of slices of bacon on top.  

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Heat up your pan with some butter.  Once it’s hot enough, put your sandwich on and grill it until it’s nice and toasted on both sides and the cheese is melted.

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Careful it’s HOT, but SO SO good!

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Enjoy!

Homemade Easy Mac

During my pregnancy, I always strived to eat healthy and drink plenty of water.  It was so important to introduce healthy foods to my growing baby.  I didn’t have any HFCS and tried to stick to fresh foods and stay away from preservatives.

Now that my baby is a big boy, teaching him to eat healthy is priority number one.  We don’t give him excessive sugar.  For his first birthday he got cornbread instead of a cake smash.  We got some heat for not giving him cake for his birthday, but that tradition isn’t really for the child is it?  From the parent’s perspective it’s a cute picture ‘aw look at my baby all covered in icing!  Watch how he rips apart that cake!’  But from the child’s perspective…they are tearing into something very addictive that has drug-like effects on the body.  They have a sugar high and go nuts and then have a pretty severe crash.  It can make them sick or feel icky.  Prolonged high sugar intake leads to an impaired immune system.  So tell me, why would I do that to my child?!

So sugary treats and sodas have no place in my kid’s diet.  Instead I make him fresh home cooked meals that help his growing mind and body.  I’m going to share one easy recipe with you.

Macaroni and Cheese is famous and an American favorite.  I grew up on it and there would be weeks straight where that was all I wanted.  Now as a parent of a child with food allergies I read labels very carefully.  While reading labels and hunting for allergens I also came to realize just how awful some of these favorite foods are.  Mac and Cheese has a ton of “stuff” in it that isn’t good for you.  Why does this food need so many chemicals!  And we all know cheese isn’t neon!

So I decided to make an Easy Mac and Cheese, but sans the preservatives and things I can’t pronounce.

You will need:

 

1/3 C noodles (I used elbow pasta)

1/2 C water

1/4 C milk

Shredded Cheese

Put pasta and water in a cup and microwave 2 minutes at a time until pasta is ‘al dente’.  I went ahead and added the milk because it reduces the boiling point and the pasta cooks faster.  Mine was done in about 5 minutes.  Just make sure you watch it because the mixture will boil over pretty quickly.  Also be sure not to scald the milk.

Easy Mac

Once the pasta is cooked, add in the milk and cheese or if you did it my way, add in the cheese.  I just put a small fist full of shredded cheese.

Easy Mac

Mix and enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Easy Mac

Authentic Indian Curry

My husband and I, on many occasions, have shaken our heads at the “curry” powder they sell at stores. Curry isn’t something that is premixed in a bottle. The beauty of “curry” is that it is customized. It becomes a family legacy. You learn the way your mom makes her curry and try to replicate it and 9 times out of 10 it’s different. That’s because it becomes YOUR curry. Then over the years you perfect your curry, learning from errors to create the perfect curry that your kids come home from college for. And the cycle repeats.

My family was mostly vegetarian, we ate chicken on occasion and by occasion I mean it had to be Christmas, or someone important was coming over. When I got to college, I ate a bit more meat and diversified a little, but I hadn’t really gotten into seafood or anything besides chicken and beef. Still it was American style and mostly bland. I ran home to my mom’s food almost every weekend.

When I met Jayesh, I realized just how much I hadn’t experienced food and it’s complexities. He introduced me to flavors that blew my mind. We both really enjoy eating and cooking, most of all cooking together. Together we have perfected our curry and much like a relationship, it took time, it took work, but we got it right.

On our first date Jayesh cooked for me his famous steak and I was thrilled that his steak recipe would be in my life forever. Sounds silly doesn’t it? Probably because you haven’t tried it. Together we explored the Indian spices, we experimented and tried different things, we had many victories in the kitchen. It’s a delicious love story…we fell in love over curry.

Here is how I make a basic authentic Indian curry. You can add any meat to this and it will alter the flavor slightly with the flavor of the meat. But these are the steps you use before you make any curry dish.

There are no measurements because that’s not how Indians do it. It’s always ‘a little of this’ or ‘a palm full of that’ or better yet ‘just wait for the color to change’. It’s fun.

Here what you will need:

Fresh Ingredients:

Onion – this will make up the bulk of the gravy so do as little or lot as you want.

Tomato – I usually use a can of Hot Rotel, but fresh tomatoes are just fine.

Jalapeno – how hot do you want it? I usually use one whole one, but if you don’t want it too spicy use a half.

Ginger – Use equal amounts as garlic

Garlic – I like a lot of garlic, it tastes good, smells good, and it’s great for you. So probably 3-4 big cloves.

“Curry leaves” aka sweet neem leaves aka ‘limbdo’- one full “branch”. About 20 leaves, 10 if they’re really aromatic. These are optional.

Tomato Paste – for thickness and a bit of tart flavor

Dry Ingredients:

Cumin-Coriander powder

Red Chili Powder

Turmeric

Salt – to taste

Peppercorns – 6-7 for a nice kick

Dried Red Chili – one or two depending on how much heat you want.

Mustard seeds – black ones just a couple of pinches.

Cumin Seeds aka ‘jeeru’ – 4-5 pinches

Cinnamon stick – one broken up

Before I get into this recipe, I made this to slow cook chicken. So it’s concentrated curry. I’ll let you know through out the recipe what changes I made. If you’re slow cooking meat like beef, lamb, goat, chicken, do what I did so that there is enough flavor to get into the meat and enough flavor after the meat releases water. Here we go!

Start prepping by chopping up all the fresh ingredients. I like to make things easier so I use a vidalia chopper but you could course chop the onions in a food processor. They just need to be diced up. I use my magic bullet and make a paste out of the ginger, garlic, and jalapeno. If you’re using fresh tomatoes you can throw those into that ginger garlic paste as well. I like the tomato chunks from the rotel so I just pour the can in to the pan, liquid and all.

Heat up some oil and add in cumin seeds, peppercorn, mustard seeds, cinnamon, dried red chilis, and curry leaves. Add the curry leaves after the other ingredients are mostly fried up. The leaves fry faster and will start to burn.

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The mustard seeds will start to pop so be careful. Once that’s happening add in the onions. Stir the onions frequently, and cook until they are translucent.

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Once the onions are translucent, add in the ginger garlic jalapeno paste and stir. Let it cook for just a minute or two.

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Add in the tomatoes if you’re using canned tomatoes.

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Stir and cook for just a minute or two. Then start to add in your dry spices. The trifecta goes in first. I do about equal amounts of red, yellow, and brown. With perhaps a little less of the yellow because it can add too much bitter. The idea is to round out the flavor so you don’t taste too much of anything. I added heaping spoons to this. HEAPING.

Cumin Coriander Powder

Cumin Coriander Powder

Turmeric Powder

Turmeric Powder

Red Chili Powder

Red Chili Powder

I did about two-ish spoons. The color should turn a golden rust color. Add in some salt to taste. At this point you can add Garam Masala if you want and also ground pepper adds a nice heat. The thing with adding flavors…you want to build. I build layers of heat. So I season the oil, sauté jalapeno, add chili powder, and that creates a different kind of spicy than if you just add chili powder at the end. Its tasty and tolerable.

At this point you might notice the curry looks a bit dry.

I add in Swanson’s chicken broth. You could use vegetable broth if you’re vegetarian. It’s better than water which will completely dilute your flavor. I use the low sodium broth so it doesn’t throw off my salt proportions. If you’re slow cooking with this, you want to add a bit more salt than necessary. As you’re tasting it, if it seems like something is missing or it seems kind of bland, try adding a bit of salt. It really opens up the other flavors. Something else I do is add sugar to round out the flavor. It shouldn’t taste sweet though, just enhance.

After broth add in about a tablespoon or so of tomato paste. This will thicken up the gravy and add a tangy flavor. Don’t add too much. Just little by little until the consistency is right. This is the consistency you need if you’re slow cooking:

 

If you’re planning to finish up on the stove go ahead and add the meat in and watch the consistency. The meat will release water so in the end if it’s too watery just simmer until the water cooks off.

The longer you simmer curry the better the flavors get. So if you’re using seafood that cooks pretty fast, let your curry simmer for a while before adding in fish or shrimp.

If you’re using a tough meat like lamb or goat, use a pressure cooker or slow cooker to get the meat tender. I do this with chicken sometimes, but mostly we do chicken on the stovetop.

If you want the meat to be tasty, do not cook it before you add it to the curry.

I didn’t get a picture of the end result, but I used about 3-ish pounds of boneless skinless thigh and it was AMAZING.

Like I said at the start, curry is customized for you. So you can follow my recipe and make modifications. Maybe you don’t like it too spicy, maybe you don’t like the mustardy heat. Just change up the proportions and make your own. Let me know if you have questions!

Easy Peasy Apple Cake!

Not really sure why this post took me a million years to post.  Perhaps my time management skills have taken a vacation as of late.  This is the easiest recipe in my book.  Seriously, you could pay your kid to make it.  So easy.

Here’s what you need:

A couple of apples sliced into thinnish slices.  Enough to cover the bottom of a 9×13 pan.

stick of butter

box of ready made cake mix like Pilsbury, Duncan Hines, or Betty Crocker – vanilla type flavors work best or anything that goes well with apples.

Lay out the apples in the pan

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Cover with dry cake mix

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Pour melted butter over the top

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Bake for 35-40 minutes at 350 degrees

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You won’t believe how incredible this tastes!  It’s great with a scoop of ice cream!  A little tip, check on it while it’s baking, if you see any dry spots just add a little water to that spot.  The moisture from the apples should come through most of it, but sometimes you get a few dry spots.

Let me know what you think!

Come holiday time you can mix together angel food cake mix and apple pie filling from the can, bake for 30 minutes or so at 350 degrees or until the top is brown.

Touchdown Poppers

It is football season here in the US and that means appetizers and game food galore!  We don’t really keep up with sports in our home, but we still enjoy game food every now and then.  I remember once upon a time I used to sit and watch the game, but these days family time is just too precious.  Reason # 293847923847384 that I love my husband – he agrees!  I know this is a rare quality!  He puts me and our son first and any free moment he gets, he’s with us.  So football obsession doesn’t exist in our home, thank God.

On with the recipe!
This is a twist on jalepeno poppers.  Although I LOVE a good jalepeno poppers and I’m pretty sure I make the best ones, sometimes its tedious.  Cleaning out the peppers, mixing the cream cheese, stuffing them, breading them, etc.  I thought..hmm..why not stuff them in bread?!  This is like a jalepeno pepper and a kolache had a baby.  DELICIOUS!

What you need:

BACON!!! (cooked)

Crescent rolls

Cream Cheese

Jalapeno

First things first you have to POP open that can of rolls and unroll the dough.  Place it on a greased cookie sheet.

Put a little bit of cream cheese in the center of each triangle and then top with bacon and jalapeno.  We got a really strong batch from the farmer’s market so I only put two slivers in.

Next roll up the rolls and make sure to seal around the cheese so it doesn’t ooze out.  You could add in some mozzarella if you want it more cheesy.

See how innocent they look?

Cook it like normal, until it’s golden brown.  I think it’s at 350 degrees.
I pulled them out and brushed the top with butter and garlic powder and put them back in to make them more golden.

Be careful when you bite in, the inside is even hotter than the outside!  The cheese will scald your tongue!!

You could easily make this vegetarian, but since the bacon does so much for the flavor perhaps add something to the cream cheese.  I bet it would be good with a little salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Emeril essence.  Or whatever your heart desires!

Enjoy!  And stay tuned for the Easy Peasy Apple Cake!

Steak Snobs

This Labor Day weekend we did a whole lot of nothing.  We were all in need of some rest and so that’s exactly what we did.  Even my son who promptly gets up at 7:30 each day decided to sleep in and give us a break.  The other thing we love to do is eat and boy, did we eat!  This was our meal to kick off the weekend:

That’s steak, shrimp, and asparagus you see there.  The steak recipe you’ll have to pry from my cold dead fingers because it’s a family secret and by family secret I mean only my husband and I know it.  My son won’t even get to know it until he fully understands the meaning of keeping secrets.  All I can say is, it’s AMAZING and you’ll have to just patiently wait for an invite to enjoy this steak.  Yea we’re a little snobby about our steak.  We never go anywhere to eat steak because we’re usually displeased.  We frown upon those that only season with salt and pepper…what the heck?!  (Do you see the salt and pepper sitting in time out in the picture?)  There’s a smorgasbord of wonderful spices and you settled on salt and pepper?!  Step out of the bland food bubble and go on a spicy adventure! 

I suppose I can tell you how I made the asparagus….olive oil, garlic salt, pepper.  Nothing fancy, but the garlic salt really goes well with the flavor of the asparagus.  That’s not just salt and pepper…there’s a third thing there.

The shrimp…salt, pepper, turmeric, cumin-coriander, red chili powder, and Slap Ya Mama Cajun seasoning.  Sometimes I throw in cumin seeds, but I didn’t this time.  You could do these on the grill or in the oven or stove top.

Wash it all down with an ice cold beer!!

How do you guys prepare your steaks?  Is it fair for me to ask since I won’t tell you how I make mine? 🙂

More recipes coming this week:

Jalapeno Popper Crecents

Easy Peasy Apple Cake