Chicken Paprikash

This is my second time to make this dish, and I have modified the original recipe (from Clean Eating) quite a lot. I am not sure what Chicken Paprikash is supposed to taste like, but I do like whatever it is that I created. =)

3-4 red potatoes (1 lb)
1 can tomato sauce
1/2 sweet onion, thinly sliced
1 chicken breast, trimmed and cut into chunks
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 Tlbs paprika
1 tsp sugar*
1 cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
fresh ground black pepper

Heat the oven to 425. Slice the potatoes into 8 wedges. Place them on a cookie sheet that has been covered with a sheet of tin foil** and sprayed thoroughly with olive oil. Bake the potato wedges for 12 minutes, then spray the top side with olive oil, flip each wedge over and bake another 12-13 minutes. Meanwhile, saute the garlic and onion over medium heat for 5 minutes or so, then add the tomato sauce, chicken, paprika, and sugar. Turn the heat down to medium low and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until chicken is cooked thoroughly and the sauce is thickened slightly. Take the pan off the heat, then stir in the yogurt and add black pepper to taste. Serve over the potatoes.

* the recipe called for sweet paprika, which I couldn't find. When I made it the first time I used plain paprika and it just wasn't right. I looked online and found that you can simulate sweet paprika by adding a little sugar so that's what I did here. If you have sweet paprika, leave out the sugar.

** the recipe said to use parchment paper, but I don't have any of that, so I used tin foil instead. If you use tinfoil, it is really important to oil it really well, because the potatoes stick to the tinfoil.

I made several important changes to this recipe; the original recipe called for sun-dried tomatoes soaked in hot water, there was 1/4 cup of water in the tomato mixture, and the potatoes were supposed to bake for 40 minutes. I have tried several recipes with sun-dried tomatoes and simply do not like them, although it might be where I get them from, and had to add over of a cup of water to the tomato mixture to get something that vaguely resembled sauce. I used a can of tomato soup, but I think that a can or 1.5 cups of chopped tomatoes would also work well, especially if you let it simmer for 30 minutes or so. In addition, at least in my oven, 40 minutes burned the potatoes to a black crisp, so I shortened it to 25 minutes and they turned out perfectly.

Rating 4.5/5
Why? This is a really good recipe and I definitely licked the bowl clean.


Three Cheese Stuffed "Shells"

Today it was supposed to snow, but didn't, but it will be Snowmageddon tomorrow, or something...anyway, it's cold and what was on the menu for tonight didn't sound appetizing, so I made something more cheesy. I had to modify several things, but the original recipe is from Clean Eating. Sorry for the crappy picture.

Sauce Ingredients:
3 cups chopped tomatoes
12 oz roasted red bell peppers, roughly chopped
1/2 tsp dried rosemary
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp dried red pepper flakes
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup packed whole parsley, roughly chopped

Shell Ingredients:
2 cups of corn, divided
9 whole wheat lasagna noodles*
1.5 cups low-fat ricotta cheese
4 oz goat cheese**
2 Tlbs chopped fresh parsley
1 large egg
fresh ground black pepper
1/2 cup grated mozzarella

Mix all the sauce ingredients except the parsley in a saucepan over medium heat and bring it to a simmer. Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes, then toss it into the food processor and puree it. Spoon one cup or so into the bottom of a 9x9 pan, then set the rest aside. Meanwhile, boil the noodles until al dente, then set them aside as well. Mix 1.5 cups of corn, the ricotta cheese, goat cheese, parsley, egg, and black pepper in a bowl. Lay out a noodle, and spoon about 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on it. Roll it up, then put it in the pan. Repeat until you have 9 rolled packets. Spoon the rest of the sauce over the top, then the rest of the corn, and top with the mozzarella. Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Let it sit for 10 minutes or so before serving.

*This is supposed to be stuffed shells, but whole wheat shells are impossible to find, even here in Seattle. The only place I could find them was on amazon.

**I accidentally got peppadew, having never had goat cheese before. I figured it would go well with this recipe so I didn't really worry about it.

The original recipe called for mint in the cheese filling, which was just weird, and I didn't feel like buying it just for this recipe, so I skipped it. Other than that I followed the recipe pretty closely, except for replacing the shells with lasagna noodles and the plain goat cheese with peppadew. Also, I finally figured out where the roasted peppers are in the store (with the condiments??), so I can use them in other recipes that call for them. They gave a different taste to the sauce, that's for sure.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? This has the cheesy comfort-food taste that I crave sometimes when it's cold outside, but with a definitely spicy twist that is a little unexpected. I wish that I could find the shells though.


Chicken Tikka Masala

When I first moved to Seattle, the extent of my knowledge regarding Indian food consisted of the fact that I knew they ate curry. And I had never actually HAD curry, I only knew that it was a food and was from India. Then some friends suggested we go to a nearby Indian restaurant before the Open House at school, and I have been hooked ever since. My favorite dish there is tikka masala, also called butter chicken. As you can imagine, it is somewhat less than healthy, in the way that eating a stick of butter is "somewhat" less healthy than eating a carrot. In Clean Eating a few months ago, they had a recipe for Tikka Masala so I thought I would give it a shot on a day I had off from school, since the recipe said it needed 4 hours of preparation. Then I took a closer look at the recipe, and realized that while I had torn out the ingredients, I had neglected to tear out the directions (face --> palm). So this is cobbled together with ingredients from Clean Eating and directions from allrecipes.com.

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt
1 tsp ginger*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1.5 tsp coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper
2 chicken breasts, cut into chunks

1.5 tsp safflower oil
1/2 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp ginger*
4.5 tsp garam masala**
1.5 tsp chili powder
1 can tomato sauce
1 cup low-fat sour cream

*I used ginger powder because I didn't have any fresh ginger. If you use fresh ginger, use 4x as much as dried
**garam masala is a mixture of Indian spices. I had to go to Uwajimaya to find some. You can make your own by mixing together spices like coriander, cumin, pepper, ginger, cardamom, etc. Here is one recipe, and here is another one.

Mix together the first set of ingredients and let it marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. I put mine in a plastic bag and let it sit for about 2 hours. Then saute*** the chicken over medium to medium-high heat, and when it's done set it aside. To make the sauce, heat the oil and saute the garlic for a couple of minutes, then add the onions and saute them until translucent. At this point, turn the heat down to low, add the tomato sauce, spices, and sour cream and let it simmer, stirring frequently, for about 45 minutes. I added the chicken back in about half way through, just for kicks. Serve over rice and garnish with cilantro.

***"tikka" is a Hindi word for chunks of meat cooked on a skewer. I was feeling quite lazy (my grill is hard to clean and is stored in a rather inaccessible place) so I sauted the meat in a pan instead. I actually think it would taste a little better if it had been grilled.

My thoughts....I liked this. It was a little spicier than I am used to, so in the recipe above I left out part of the cayenne pepper for next time. It also was not as buttery as what I get at Naan N Curry, but that's ok, since there's no butter in this. In a traditional tikka masala, there is butter and heavy cream in the sauce and I would have replaced those anyway. Also, in the Clean Eating recipe, it called for sour cream, where I would have normally used Greek yogurt. I had some trouble with the yogurt curdling when I was baking at Christmas so I decided to follow their recipe, but next time I think I would use the yogurt instead.

Rating: 4/5
Why? It is not as smooth and silky as what I am used to and the spices are different. It is still pretty good and worth playing with.


Poppyseed Salad Dressing

This year I have been taking a salad to school for lunch each day. I really like this but have been on the hunt for a decent salad dressing to go with it. I have looked and looked and in the course of this hunt have realized that nearly every salad dressing on the market, including organic versions, have a lot of preservatives in them. So I set out to make my own. The original recipe is from allrecipes.com.

1/3 cup (or less) sugar
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
4.5 tsp grated red onion
3 tsp ground mustard
1 tsp poppy seeds
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup evoo

Mix all the ingredients together in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Shake it well, then put it in the refrigerator at least overnight.

This was really good. I did cut down the sugar by over half a cup (no, really, it was a ridiculous amount of sugar). This is nice and tart because of the apple cider but creamy at the same time. I just take it to school and leave it in the fridge and it lasts over a week.

Rating: 4.5/5
Why? There is a lot of oil in this...but it still is pretty good.


Mustard Cole Slaw

I hate cabbage with an all-consuming passion, but I actually really liked this recipe. This was made to accompany the fish sticks from the other night.

1/4 of a head of cabbage
1 large carrot, peeled and grated
1 medium granny smith apple, peeled
1.5 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 tsp ground mustard
1 Tlbs oil

Slice the cabbage into thin strips, then core and slice the granny smith apple into matchsticks. Toss the cabbage, carrot, and apple together. Whisk the vinegar, ground mustard and oil together in a small bowl, then toss it with the cabbage mixture. I do this by putting it all in a bowl with a tight-fitting lid, then shaking the bowl upside down until it is thoroughly coated. Put the slaw in the fridge for at least thirty minutes before serving.

This was pretty good. Like I said earlier, I don't actually like cabbage, so it is always nice to discover a recipe that makes it palatable. The bite of it went perfectly with the fish sticks, too. The original recipe also called for radishes, but I really don't like those so I left them out. Other than that I followed the recipe exactly as printed. I also think this could easily be made into a main dish by adding shrimp.

Rating: 5/5
Why? Easy to make and nice and crunchy.


Tartar Sauce

I love fish sticks, but I feel they need tartar sauce. But I hate mayonnaise, so I never have any in the house, and I don't like pre-made tartar sauce. But while I was waiting for the fish sticks to cook the other night, I whipped up this super easy tartar-esque sauce that tastes quite delicious.

1/3 cup plain, nonfat Greek yogurt
1/2 tsp dried dill
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Whip the ingredients together with a small whisk, then put on the side when you serve your fish.

The original inspiration for this came from Clean Eating, but their process involved cottage cheese, lemon juice, capers and minced celery, none of which I had on hand, so I substituted. I like mine better, actually, and it didn't involve digging the food processer out of the depths of the cupboard (stupid small apartment kitchen). The picture isn't great, but it tasted really pretty awesome. Nice and dilly.

Rating: 5/5
Why? Because it's super easy and strongly flavored. I made this in about 90 seconds.


Fish Sticks

Don't worry, I haven't completely fallen off the Clean Eating wagon. This is a recipe from Clean Eating that I changed up a bit to make it less pre-chewed and more awesome, and it worked pretty well. The whole meal was new for me so I will post the other two recipes over the next couple of days.

1 fillet of cod
3/4 cup whole wheat crumbs
1 egg
evoo spray

Spray a large non-stick skillet with evoo, and then heat it over medium heat. Cut the cod into strips 4" long or so and about an inch wide. Crack the egg into a small bowl and whisk for a minute or two. Put some of the bread crumbs on a plate. Dip one of the cod strips into the egg, then roll in crumbs. Continue doing this until the cod strips are coated, then drop them into the skillet. Cover the skillet, and cook for 2-3 minutes. Gently turn the strips over, then recover for another 2-3 minutes. Continue to do this until all sides are browned.

This was pretty good! I love fish, but don't eat it often because I always forget to stop at the store on the way home and I don't love frozen fish. The original recipe said to mince the fish, mix in bread crumbs, then form into fish sticks before dipping and frying, but I prefer the texture of actual fish that hasn't been premangled, so I skipped that step. The original recipe also said to use tilapia, but I really dislike farmed fish, so I used wild-caught cod instead. Also, as you can see from the picture, I didn't do so well at the frying, but that will improve with time.

Rating - 4.5/5
Why? I really like how easy this is. It took maybe 10 minutes from start to finish, but it is a little picky about the heat and time in the pan so it requires close attention to what you are doing.


Sauteed Chicken and Tomato Linguine

I think basil might be my favorite flavor. I generally put 3-4 times as much as the recipe calls for and just love it. I originally saw this recipe on pinterest (or internet crack, as I like to call it), and followed the original pretty closely. I think I might try smashing the tomatoes next time, but other than that it was pretty good as-is.

3 ounces whole wheat linguine
1 chicken breast, cubed
dried oregano
dried basil
1.5 cups grape tomatoes, halved*
3 cloves of garlic, roughly chopped
10-15 leaves of basil, chopped
grated parmesan

Cook the linguine, then set it aside. Meanwhile, season the chicken with the oregano, basil, and pepper, then saute it in a pan on medium high heat. When it is done, set it aside, then saute the garlic over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, then turn the heat to medium low, add the tomatoes and saute for 3-4 minutes more. When they are done, turn off the burner, add the chicken, fresh basil, and linguine, and toss it together. Top with grated parmesan and serve.

I really liked this. It is (of course) strongly flavored with basil, and I really like the simplicity of the sauceless linguine. In the original recipe, she added a little bit of salt, and I did too, but I think I will leave it off next time (which is why it isn't listed above). In addition, she used spaghetti, which I didn't have, but I like linguine better anyway, so that's ok. Also, she cut the tomatoes in half, and I think I might try smashing them next time, there's something about the texture that I like.

Rating 4.5/5
Why? It's easy to make but I wish there was a way to avoid cooking everything separately.