Saturday, March 28, 2009

Mughlai Chicken

If you are a fan of Indian and Central Asian cuisine, you will enjoy this recipe. While it seems difficult, it really isn't at all. I have mentioned before that using spices can add so much flavor to mundane foods. This is a perfect example. Don't let the long list of ingredients scare you away from trying this recipe. The aroma that filled the kitchen while preparing this dish was heavenly!

We have a local market called Sprouts, there I can buy a teaspoon or a cup or more of the spices I need. The photos of the spice "bags" are what I purchased there. By buying in small quantities the spices stay fresh longer.

1 cube = 1" ginger
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2- 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (if you like it hotter...add to your liking)
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1/4 cup water
In a food processor blend the first 5 ingredients well.
Add the almonds and water and make a paste. Set this aside for later use.

3-4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, fat trimmed off and cut in half.
1 Tablespoon Cardamom pods, slightly squeezed to open for flavor.
1-2 cinnamon sticks
3 bay leaves
5-6 whole cloves
1/4 cup canola oil
2 onions very finely chopped (they will almost dissolve in the sauce)
1 cup low fat Greek yogurt (be sure to use Greek yogurt as it is thick, I use it instead of sour cream in many recipes)
3/4 cup chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream or half and half
1/2 cup raisins
2 teaspoons garam masala
1 tablespoon splenda
1 teaspoon salt

In a large skillet or dutch oven add 1/4 cup vegetable oil. (I used canola oil) and heat on medium high. Brown the chicken thighs on both sides to seal in the juices, you will not fully cook them at this point. Remove from pan and keep on a dish.

Add the spices to the skillet/dutch oven, with the onions and cook until the onions are soft
and browned, stir this often to prevent burning. Now add the paste from the food processor and stir well. Add the yogurt a little at a time blending well after each addition to prevent lumping. Stir in the chicken broth, cream and the raisins.

Return the chicken thighs to the skillet/dutch oven, sprinkle with the garam masala, splenda, and salt. Cover and cook on a medium-low heat for 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked completely through.

I served this with brown rice, and Mediterranean salad.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Cauliflower Cheese (Faux Mac n' Cheese)

This is a comfort food that is requested often, even by the children in the family!

Ingredients: 1 Large head cauliflower or equal amount of fresh florets.
1/2 Cup Half and Half
1/4 Cup 1 % milk
2 oz low fat cream cheese (or full fat if you desire)
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
2 1/2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon black pepper (no salt is needed!)

Cook the cauliflower by steaming in bag or on the stovetop until slightly tender. Do not over cook or it will not keep the shape and get soggy.
Drain on paper towels, then place in a 8 x 8 baking dish or casserole.

In a saucepan, bring the half and half, milk to a simmer, stir in the cream cheese and mustard until smooth. Stir in 2 cups of the shredded sharp cheese, pepper and garlic powder and whisk until everything melts together.

Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and gently toss to combine evenly.

Top with 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the top is slightly browned. It reheats well for leftovers!

You can spice this up by adding a well drained can of diced green chilies to this casserole!