Friday, December 19, 2014

Nothing says "Merry Christmas!" like . . .

Pictures by Christmas trees
Chats with Santa Clause
Kids in Santa hats
Little Wise People
Playing with the nativity
Advent Calendars
Looking at Christmas lights
Christmas colored food 
This kale salad might not be typical christmas fare but it's a good change from the artificially colored red and green food and the plethora of sweets.  I've been making it all fall and realized it's a great and colorful addition to a holiday menu.

Pomegranate & Apple Kale Salad

Fill a large bowl with chopped kale (tough stems removed).  Pour a little olive oil over it and use your bare hands to massage the kale for a few minutes or until all of the leaves are moistened.  Let it set for 10-30 minutes.  Drizzle a light vinaigrette over the kale (I use a blush wine vinaigrette but anything that's light and slightly sweet works well).  Add chopped apples (I like tart Granny Smith), pomegranate seeds, and chopped walnuts.  Toss.  Sprinkle with goat cheese or bleu cheese before serving.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Your Potluck Friend

One of the things I love about the holiday season is going to parties and potlucks and seeing old friends.  If you need a dessert to feed a large crowd or bring to a potluck, the Bundt cake is your friend!  I used to be scared of them because of this disaster but since I found the Baking Pam spray (with flour), I have been a big fan.  It's great for people (like Big) who don't love a ton of frosting and you can slice it thin or thick, depending on how many people you want to serve.  It's also an easy item to have people serve themselves at a potluck.

For your holiday parties, consider the recipe pictured above - a buttermilk cake with butternut squash grated into the batter (don't be weirded out - it's awesome) which I served with pumpkin ice cream.

Another great one is the "All in One Holiday Bundt" with ginger, pumpkin, apple and cranberries.

Or, try out the Gingerbread Pumpkin Guinness Bundt cake.   Gingerbread . . . pumpkin . . . beer . . . not a typical combination but an altogether yummy cake.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Slow Cooker Beef Ragout with Polenta

We've had some rain and cooler weather and I can't quite get over how dark it is by 5pm!  It's time to use your slow cooker, that's for sure.  Although this is similar to dishes I've made in the past, it's a little different take on it - super simple ingredients and a tasty result.  I'm making it again this week because we're going to have soccer playoffs in the evening!

Slow Cooker Beef Ragout with Polenta (6 servings)

1 lb lean ground beef
1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with Italian seasonings
3 medium carrots, sliced 1/2 in. thick
2 medium onions, cut into thin slices
1 lg red bell pepper, cut into 1 in. pieces
1/2 cup beef broth
salt and pepper to taste
6 cloves of garlic, minced
1 (16oz) tube refrigerated polenta
Parmesan cheese
6 T prepared pesto (optional)

In a large skillet, brown the ground beef and drain the fat.  Transfer to a slow cooker and stir in the tomatoes, carrots, onions, bell pepper, beef broth, salt and pepper, and garlic.

Cook for 6 hours on low or 3 hours on high (give or take depending on your slow cooker).

Slice the polenta into 1/2 inch thick pieces.  Place on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and broil for 5-7 minutes or until lightly browned.  Flip over, sprinkle with parmesan cheese, and broil another 4-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the polenta is lightly browned.

Place the polenta on a plate, top with ragout, and about 1 tablespoon of the pesto.  Sprinkle with more parmesan cheese.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Not What It Looks Like

Look what I did yesterday while baby girl was napping!!

No, it's not what it looks like . . . not Christmas gifts.  I have picked up a couple of stocking stuffers for the girls but other than that, I haven't done any Christmas shopping yet.  What I wrapped up was, in fact, all of our Christmas books:

Every year I buy a new book (or two or three) and after Christmas, I put them away with our decorations.  This year, I'm going to let the girls open one package a day in December until they open the fifteen books and we can rediscover the stories we haven't read in a year.  I was trying to think of something fun to do as we count down to Christmas and this seemed like something fun that doesn't cost anything and that will help us to slow down, enjoy some time together, and focus on the true meaning of Christmas.

I don't know about you, but time seems to fly by over here and just for fun, I like to look through our photos and think about what we were doing a year ago.  Here's a quick comparison between our girls in November 2013 to our girls today.



Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Grilled Cheese Gamechanger

Big the Turkey
I know this is the week where we have big cooking ambitions and obligations . . . turkeys, pies, side dishes, creative uses for leftovers, but I am here to give you a simple idea for Wednesday night's dinner before the big feast or Friday's lunch the day after when you have hungry kids and don't feel like making a mess of your kitchen.  It's . . . . Grilled Cheese!  All of my kids like it, it has some protein and it has some staying power to ward off the inevitable request for snacks that always comes about 30 minutes after meals in my house.

I burn grilled cheese all the time.  And set off the smoke alarms.  I've tried lower heat, my big griddle . . . I don't know what my problem is.  But, thanks to Pinterest, I have a new solution that makes this crazy easy.  If you've all discovered this ages ago, sorry (and why didn't you tell me sooner??).

Here's the gamechanger:  You're going to make your grilled cheese in the oven and you're going to make 4-6 at once.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and spray it - I use olive oil spray, you can use another non-stick cooking spray, or you could butter it.

Lay one layer of bread and top with the cheese of your choice.  Slices are fine and shredded cheese is fine - whatever you have. If you want other fillings, or any other spread on the bread, that's ok too (my husband likes dijon mustard on the bread, basil and a couple kinds of cheese).

Top with another piece of bread.  Spray the tops of the bread with more olive oil (or butter them or something).  Lay another piece of foil on the top of the sandwiches and then set another baking sheet on top.  The heavier the baking sheet, the better.  You're basically making a panini press out of them.

Stick it in the oven for 10-15 minutes.  Peeking is ok and flipping is not necessary. You want them nice and brown without burning.    Mine turned out perfectly!!  Brown, crispy on the edges, melty in the middle - yum!  It's not a turkey, but it's a legit way to feed the hungry masses.  And it goes good with leftover pecan pie or apple pie!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

PIlgrim Hats

All right, while there's still ONE WEEK before Thanksgiving, here is an easy Thanksgiving treat.  It involves no baking (which I was mildly disappointed in, since I love to bake) but some assembly.  Buy cookies that have fudge on one (or both) side (I used Keebler Fudge Stripes), some miniature Reese's peanut butter cups, and orange icing.  Place the cookie fudge side up, put a peanut butter cup upside down, and use orange icing to adhere the peanut butter cup to the fudge cookie.  Draw a little square buckle on the hat . . . and there you have it! Even me, craft-challenged Mama with a shaky hand and poor fine motor skills (note the not straight icing) managed to pull this one off for a party tomorrow.

I thank God for this day
For the sun in the sky
For my home on the ground
That keeps me warm and dry
For the love that we share
'Cause God listens to my prayers
And that's why we say thanks every day
For a grateful heart is a happy heart
I'm glad for what I have, 
(that's an easy place to start)
for my mom and my dad, 
I'm so very very glad
And that's why we say thanks every day!
--Veggie Tales

Happy Thanksgiving!

Monday, November 17, 2014

Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken

This hands down the best dinner I've made in awhile.  The ingredients look pretty ordinary and you probably have most of them on hand (I have a mustard problem . . . I counted 5 different kinds in my refrigerator) but the end result is extraordinary.  I told my husband that I was going to make it again this week - I'd better watch out before I make my family sick of it.

The sauce is delicious so consider serving the chicken with something to soak up the sauce - we had couscous but rice, potatoes, or bread would work well too!

A few recipe notes:  The original recipe called for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs.  I used 6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs.  The original recipe says that if you use boneless, skinless chicken breasts, to skip the searing step and just put it in the oven and reduce the cooking time to 15-20 minutes.  If you did it this way, you could just use a regular baking dish and wouldn't need an oven proof skillet.  If you don't have an oven proof skillet and want to do the searing and baking steps, you could also use a Dutch Oven.

Honey Mustard Glazed Chicken (4 servings)
original recipe

3 T Dijon mustard
4 T Whole grain mustard (divided)
2 T olive oil (divided)
3 T honey
salt and pepper
2 T chicken stock (or more if needed)
3 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1.5 lbs chicken pieces (see note above)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a small bowl, combine the dijon mustard, 3 tablespoons of the whole grain mustard, and the honey.  Whisk until smooth.  Set aside.

Combine the remaining tablespoon of the whole grain mustard with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil.  Add some salt and pepper to make a rub.  Using a brush or your fingers, work the rub into both sides of the chicken pieces.

Heat the other tablespoon of olive oil in an ovenproof skillet.  Sear the chicken on each side until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side.  Add the honey mustard mixture to the skillet (drizzle over the chicken pieces) and sprinkle the whole thing with the rosemary.

Place in the oven and roast until cooked through, about 25-30 minutes for bone-in, skin-on thighs.  If you're using boneless skinless chicken pieces, chop it into smaller pieces and stir the sauce to coat it all before serving it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Amaretti Cookies

I love almond flavored baked goods and if a pastry has almond paste, even better.  The bakery in Claremont makes some of the best almond croissants that I've ever had and I seriously have to avoid that place or else I'd eat way too much.  I've been intrigued by this Amaretti cookie recipe since it a) only has 3 ingredients, b) is basically almond paste, and c) is gluten free and dairy free.  I finally tried them out this past weekend.  Middle, my helper, was quite disappointed that there wasn't more to measure and mix but we finished this project pretty quickly and the results were great.  The almond flavor is strong as you would expect an amaretti cookie to be, but I filled some with raspberry jam (homemade by my friend Ellen) to create sandwich cookies and that helped balance the flavor a bit.  

My husband observed that these are a lot like macarons - chewy yet light - and he didn't love them as much as me but he still ate his fair share!  I'm imagining all kinds of other fillings . . . nutella, chocolate ganache, fig jam . . . these are definitely going into the rotation of gluten free Christmas cookies!  

A couple of baking notes:  the cookies spread a lot so make sure you use small dollops and leave space between them.  As always, check your almond paste to ensure it's gluten free if you need to avoid wheat.

Amaretti Cookies (4-6 dozen)
from Smitten Kitchen

1 (7oz) tube almond paste
1 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 egg whites, room temperature

Preheat oven to 300 degrees and line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat mats.

Pulse almond paste, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer until broken up and mixed.  Add egg whites and mix at medium high speed until smooth.  Place dollops of batter (approximately 1 T) on cookie sheets, leaving plenty of space between them.

Bake, rotating pans halfway through) until puffed and golden brown, about 14-17 minutes.  Let cookies cool almost completely on the pan.  Once they've cooled off, they're easier to remove from the parchment paper.  Transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for a day or two.  On Smitten Kitchen, it says they can be frozen for up to a month.

If desired, use your choice of filling and make sandwich cookies.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Bruschetta Chicken Bake

Before I move on to today's recipe (for which I have no photo), here are my kiddos dressed for Halloween this year:

I can't believe it's almost a week into November.  This time of year flies by for me with all of our fall activities and a busy work schedule.  I have been pretty proud of my ability to still put a hot meal on the table on weeknights after work and soccer and other stuff but it's involved some shortcuts, like this recipe where a box of Stove Top stuffing features prominently.  I love stuffing and I haven't had Stove Top in years but it was delicious - perfect fall comfort food.

This was a crowd pleaser - my kids picked off the stuffing (how weird are they??  They also don't like potatoes which I don't get) but ate the cheesy chicken underneath.  My oven tends to cook fast (not hot, just quicker than most recipes), so next time I'd reduce the time and possibly lower the temperature to 350 or 375.

Bruschetta Chicken Bake (6 servings)
Recipe adapted from Kraft

1 (14oz) can diced tomatoes with Italian spices, undrained
1 (6oz) package Stove Top Stuffing (for chicken)
1/2 cup water
2 cloves garlic, minced
1.5 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into small pieces
1 tsp. dried basil
1 cup shredded Mozzarella cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan
1/2 T fresh thyme

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  Mix together the tomatoes, stuffing mix, water, and garlic just until stuffing mix is moistened.

Spray a  9x13 or 3 quart baking dish with cooking spray or olive oil.  Spread the chicken in the bottom of the dish.  Top with basil and cheese.  Spread the stuffing over the top.  Sprinkle with Parmesan & thyme.

Bake for 30 minutes (uncovered) or until chicken is done.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pumpkins - 2015 edition

For the first time in 5 years, I made the pumpkin bundt cake.  Both of the layers were spice cake and I used a vanilla whipped cream frosting (colored orange) to frost it.  This time, instead of using fruit roll up for the face, I used a black, sparkly gel frosting.  The frosting and face sort of dripped / sagged from the weight of it all but it turned out pretty good.  The girls loved the idea and "helped" me with the assembly.  Here are the full instructions if you want to try it for Halloween!

If you want to make another pumpkin dessert, there are SO many on the blog, but this is probably my favorite:  Pumpkin Crumb Cake.  Okay, one more (hard to choose!)  Pumpkin "Tiramisu."

Last year, I did a retrospective with photos of the kids with pumpkins in years past.  Here is the 2015 update:  last weekend, we carved pumpkins with our church group.  

Middle was super excited that she was allowed to use carving tools all by herself.

Big sketched her ideas before choosing what to carve on her pumpkin:

When the kids were tired of carving, the parents could be found still diligently working on pumpkins:

Some of the final Jack-O-Lanterns

Not Leftovers . . . a new meal!

Last week I made one of my favorite crock pot recipes here on the blog - the Green Enchilada Chicken Soup.  I made the full recipe even though I know my kids aren't the biggest soup eaters (Big only likes Chicken Noodle and Middle only likes Green Soup) because the leftovers are awesome.  This time, instead of thinning down the thick leftover soup, I warmed it and served it over hot biscuits.  My mom used to make creamed chicken over biscuits and it was so good.  This is a green enchilada twist on that idea.  It made the leftovers into a "new meal" and one I will make again.  

Green Enchilada Chicken Soup (I left out the corn this time)

A good biscuit recipe (or use a tube of Pillsbury ones)

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken

Soup is one of those dishes where a few simple ingredients are transformed by combining them
together.  This recipe looks super simple (and it is) but it was nourishing and delicious.  We are
thankfully healthy but this would be the perfect dish if you're coming down with a cold or feeling
under the weather.  I love the queso fresco and avocado on top of the hot soup.  You can reduce the
jalapeño if you want - I only used a little more than half of one yesterday but it wasn't very spicy and
I wished I had put in the whole thing.  You could cook the chicken in the broth with the onion, garlic,
and jalapeño but I used chopped up rotisserie chicken to make it faster . . . dinner on the table within
a half hour of getting home from soccer practice - not an easy task these days!

Mexican Lime Soup with Chicken (2 servings)
(adapted from Williams Sonoma)

3 or 4 limes
2-3 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 jalapeño chili, seeded and chopped
4 cups low-sodium chicken broth  
1 1/2 tsp.  oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 Haas avocado, pitted, peeled and diced
2 oz. queso fresco or mild feta cheese, crumbled

Cut 1 lime into 4 to 6 wedges; set aside for serving. Juice as many of the remaining limes as needed to measure 1/4 cup.

Heat some olive oil in a pan.  Add the onion to the pan and sauté until translucent, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and chili and sauté until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the broth, lime juice and oregano, and chopped chicken. Bring the heat up, but not to a full boil, and then adjust the heat so it barely simmers. Simmer for 15 minutes.  Taste and adjust the seasonings with salt and pepper.

Put the avocado, cheese and lime wedges in separate small bowls. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately. Pass the avocado, cheese and lime wedges alongside.  

Yields 2 large servings (or 4 first course servings)

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies

It still doesn't feel much like fall in So Cal (yes, we do have seasons . . . just not so much this year!) but I made some yummy pumpkin cookies a week ago.  We devoured them - I still love the Joy of Cooking version (here on the blog) but these oatmeal ones were pretty yummy too.  We like chocolate chips in our pumpkin cookies and I usually do the mini ones because they're less messy in little hands.  But, I think dried cranberries or raisins would be good in this recipe too.

Pumpkin Oatmeal Cookies (made 3.5 dozen)
adapted from All Recipes

3/4 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup rolled oats
1.5 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup mini chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  In a bowl, combine the flour, oats, baking soda, baking powder and spices.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, cream the butter and then add the sugar, beating until fluffy.  Lower the speed on your mixer and add the pumpkin puree and egg.  Slowly incorporate the dry ingredients, stirring until just combined.  Stir in the chocolate chips.  Drop tablespoons of batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 9-11 minutes or until the edges are lightly browned.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Full Swing

School and our fall schedules are in full swing:

Baby girl has been very patient driving her sisters to and from school and their activities

When she's at home with Mama, we play dress up and blocks.

We made another trip to the beach to enjoy this extremely hot September weather.

Big sister is loving soccer - the gear, the practice, the games and her teammates.

I have to admit that getting dinner on the table on nights when we have soccer practice or have been out all day doing stuff is challenging.  I tried the demo at Trader Joe's the other day and came across an awesome cheater version of enchiladas that was an instant hit with my kids.  That doesn't happen too often!  You use frozen taquitos (without defrosting) and bake them with enchilada sauce and cheese.  We had carrot sticks and Mexican rice with it and it was dinner in about 20-25 minutes.  Middle liked helping me pour the sauce, sprinkle the cheese, and place the olives.  Trader Joe's has black bean taquitos, chicken, and beef - something for everyone!

Trader Joe's "Enchiladas" (serves 4)

1 container of frozen taquitos from Trader Joe's 
1 bottle of Enchilada sauce
1-2 cups shredded cheese
1/2 can of sliced olives

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and spray an 8x8 pan with cooking spray (or olive oil spray).  Put taquitos in a single row in the pan.  Pour enchilada sauce over the top.  Sprinkle with shredded cheese and top with sliced olives.

Bake for 15 minutes or until bubbly and melty.  The taquitos will soften up in the baking.  

Friday, September 26, 2014

Indian Dinner

My sister Paula had a little time between her wedding/honeymoon and starting her new job (with a Ph.D. - my little sis is amazing!) and was doing some cooking that intrigued me.  I'm excited to try all this out - especially homemade naan . . . that sounds incredible!  I asked her to share her recipes with us as a guest blogger:

I recently was looking for books to read on vacation and just as I turn to this blog for cooking ideas, I turned to Rebecca’s “Shelfari” page for book suggestions.  As a result, I just finished reading “Secret Daughter” by  Shilpi Somaya Gowda.  Part of the book takes place in India and one of the characters mentions that any 12 year-old  Indian girl can make Saag Paneer without a recipe.  I figured if a 12 year old can do it without a recipe I certainly could do so with a recipe.  (Note: this logic has gotten me in trouble before, like the time I came home from school and announced that I was going to make a buche de noel/Yule log because if Julia Child can do it, I can do it, but that’s a whole other blog post).  I then thought of how my friend Ashlee made Naan the first time I met her (good first impression) and I recollected a recipe for “Tandoorish” chicken in a cookbook I received from Rebecca several Christmases ago. Thus, I set out on an adventure creating my first Indian meal. 

The process was a bit time consuming but pretty easy and the fruit of my labor was super tasty.  I was most proud of the fact that I made my own cheese! You can buy paneer at an Asian grocery store but making it will make you feel like a rock star so I recommend giving it a try.  

Paneer (Indian Cheese)

8 cups whole milk
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice, plus more as needed

Line a large colander with a large double layer of cheesecloth, and set it in your sink. In a large wide pot, bring the milk to a gentle boil over medium heat, stirring frequently to avoid burning the bottom.  This will take a little while so be patient.

Add the lemon juice and turn the heat down to low. Stirring gently, you should almost immediately see the curds (white milk solids) and whey (the greenish liquid) separate. (if milk doesn’t separate juice some more lemons an add another tablespoon or two.  Boost the heat gain and the milk should separate.)
Stir in a motion that gathers the curds together rather than breaks them up.

Remove the pot from the heat and carefully pour the contents into the cheesecloth-lined colander.  Gently rinse with cool water to get rid of the lemon flavor.  

Grab the ends of the cheesecloth and twist the ball of cheese to squeeze out the excess whey.  Tie the cheesecloth to your kitchen faucet and allow the cheese to drain for about 5 minutes.  

Twisting the ball to compact the cheese into a block, place it on a plate with the twisted part of the cheesecloth on the side and set another plate on top. Weigh the second plate down with cans of beans or a heavy pot.  Move to the refrigerator and let it sit about 20 minutes.

Saag Paneer (serves 4)

1 tsp turmeric
½ tsp cayenne
Kosher salt
3 tbsp plus 1½ tbsp vegetable oil
12 oz paneer, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 (16 oz) package frozen chopped spinach
1 (1-inch) thumb ginger, peeled and minced (about 1 tbsp)
4 cloves garlic minced
1 lg green Serrano chile, finely chopped (seeds removed if you don’t like it spicy)
½ tsp garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
½ cup plain yogurt, stirred until smooth

In a large bowl, whisk together the turmeric, cayenne, 1tsp salt, and 3 tbsp oil. Gently drop in the cubes of paneer and gently toss, taking care not to break the cubes. Let the cubes marinate while you get the rest of your ingredients together and prepped.

Thaw the spinach in the microwave, 5 minutes on high, then puree in a food processor until smooth, alternatively you can chop it up very finely with your knife (I skipped the food processor step, it’s a matter of texture). 

Place a large nonstick skillet over medium heat, and add paneer as the pan warms.  In a couple of minutes give the pan a toss; each piece of paneer should be browned on one side. Fry another minute or so, and then remove the paneer from the pan onto a plate.

Add the remaining 1 ½ tbsp oil to the pan. Add onions, ginger, garlic, and chile. Saute the mixture until it is evenly toffee colored, which should take about 15 minutes (this is the foundation of the dish, don’t rush this step). If you feel like the mixture is drying out and burning, add a couple tbsps of water.

Add the garam masala, coriander, and cumin. If you haven’t already, sprinkle a little water to keep the spices from burning.  Cook, stirring often for 3-5 minutes.

Add the spinach and stir well, incorporating the spiced onion mixture into the spinach. Add a little salt and ½ cup of water, stir, and cook about 5 minutes with the lid off.

Turn off the heat and add yogurt a little at a time to keep it from curdling. Once the yogurt is well mixed into the spinach, add the paneer. Turn the heat back on, cover, and cook until everything is warmed through, about 5 minutes. Serve with naan!

Naan (6 pieces) *I will double this next time I make it

1 tsp active dry yeast
2 tsps sugar
2 cups all purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tsp fine sea salt
1/8  tsp baking powder
3 tbsps plain yogurt
2 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
Melted butter for finished naan
Coarse sea salt for sprinkling

Note: you can make GF naan by substituting 2 ¼ c of gf all purpose flour mix for the regular flour plus 1 ¼ tsps of xanthum gum. When it is time to roll it out try pressing the dough with fingertips rather than rolling

In a large glass, dissolve the dry yeast and 1 tsp sugar with ¾ cup warm water (about 100 degrees F). Let it sit on your counter until its frothy, about 10 minutes (I accidently put all my sugar in at this step but it turned out fine).

Meanwhile, mix the flour, salt, remaining 1tsp of sugar and baking powder into a large deep bowl.

Once the yeast is frothy, add the yogurt and the olive oil into the glass, and stir to combine.  Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix the ingredients together with a fork. When the dough is about to come together, use your hands to mix until it transforms into a soft, slightly sticky and pliable dough.  As soon as it comes together, stop kneading. Cover the dough with plastic wrap or a damp tea towel and let it sit in a warm draft-free place for 2-4 hours.

When you are ready to roll, make sure you have two bowls, one with extra flour and one with water. The dough should be extremely soft and sticky.  Separate the dough into 6 equal portions and lightly roll each one in the bowl of extra flour to keep them from sticking to each other.

Shape the naan, using a rolling pin roll each piece of dough into a tear drop shape, narrower at the top than at the bottom.  It should be 8-9 inches long, 4 inches wide at its widest pint and ¼ inch thick.  

Once you’ve formed the general shape you can also pick it up by one and wiggle it to stretch it out a little.  Repeat with rest of the dough.  Warm a large cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s nearly smoking.  Make sure you have a lid large enough to fit the skillet and have a bowl of melted butter ready.

Dampen your hands in the bowl of water and pick up one of your naans. Flip-flopping it from one hand to the other to lightly dampen it.  Gently lay it in the skillet. The dough should start to bubble. After about 1 minute, flip the naan. It should be blistered and somewhat blackened.  Cover the skillet with the lid and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute more.

Remove the naan from the skillet, brush with a bit of butter and sprinkle with a little coars sea salt. Place the naan in a tea towel-lined dish. Repeat with the rest of the naan and serve.

Tandoor(ish) Chicken (serves 4)
“The food you want to eat” by Ted Allen

The marinade smelled so delicious I wanted to eat it straight out of the blender…super easy and delicious chicken dish I will definitely make again. 

½ medium onion, quartered
3 medium garlic cloves
2 inch piece of fresh ginger peeled
Juice of ½ lemon (about 1 tbsp)
½ cup plain yogurt
½ tsp ground cumin
¼ tsp ground turmeric
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper
pinch of ground cardamom

1½ to 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut crosswise 1½ to 2 inches thick
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 lemon or line cut into wedges for serving

Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a blender and puree (I used my new nutribullet, it worked great!). Pour out into a glass baking dish. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Add the flour and stir to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.

Preheat charcoal or gas grill. Just before you’re ready to cook the chicken add the oil to the chicken mixture and stir. Lightly oil the grate with folded paper towels drizzled with oil.  Heat up grate for a few minutes until it has reached medium high heat (when you can hold your hand 5 inches above the grate for about 3 seconds) and place the chicken on the grill. Cook until browned on both sides, 8 to 10 minutes total. Serve with lemon or lime wedges.