Sunday, January 27, 2013

Butter Chicken a.k.a. Murg Makhani

I love my husband.  I do.  I'm teaching a class on Indian Food, and he says to me, "what do you know about the food?"  Well I threatened him with lentils, and he said what are those, and I told him it's a small legume, similar to beans.  Oh no!  This is a man who can't have any beans in his chili, it'll kill him to have red beans and rice, and a good black bean soup - not on your life!

I said I love my husband right, so......I had all of the ingredients for butter chicken.  Though when he saw the mise en place (the ingredients) he had a heart attack, well literally, not figuratively.  A whole stick of butter?  Yes, and then I showed him the cream, heavy cream, full fat. 

I like to use fresh tomato when possible, but you can see by my dinner plate that it's still winter in Michigan, and I opted to use diced tomatoes in a can.

So here goes:

Butter chicken

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 tablespoon (or more) garam masala
1 cup water (if using fresh tomato)
1 can diced tomatoes in their own juices (or you can use fresh tomatoes, or crushed, depending on how much work you want to do.  You'll have to skin the fresh tomatoes, use about 8 - 10 medium)
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon caynne
salt to taste
2 teaspoons brown sugar
6 tablespoons chilled butter
1 cup heavy whipping cream
fresh grated nutmeg
Sliced toasted almonds for garnish.

Heat the oil in a heavy large saute pan over medium heat.  Sear chicken 3 minutes per side, adding the garam masala once you turn it over.  Add a bit of water and cook until tender.  about 6 - 8 minutes.  Remove from the pan.

Add the diced tomatoes, tomato paste and heat - add the remaining spices plus the sugar and bring to a boil.  Simmer for a few minutes then whisk in the chilled butter.  Add the chicken back to the mixture and reduce the heat.  Stir in the cream and reduce by half to thicken.

Sprinkle with a generous amount of freshly grated nutmeg.

Transfer to a serving dish and garnish with almonds.

We served the sauce over basmati rice!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Hot Chocolate on a Stick with Marshmallows

Hot Chocolate on a Stick and Home Made Marshmallows


It’s really cold outside in Michigan today.  We’ve been blessed with unusually warm weather, but today 19 degrees, wind chill factor makes it below zero outside.

So…..Hot Chocolate on a stick with home made Marshmallows (for my good friend Sue)!

I make this the other day for a demonstration at one of my favorite Hardware Stores, Rylees Ace Hardware in Grand Rapids, Mi (just a little plug for ya!) They have the best house wares department that you have ever seen.  My husband, who is my favorite engineer, said “how are they hot?”  I told him you dunk them in hot milk!  I love the man, but really……

We used the “bagged” marshmallows here, but I’ve included my recipe for homemade marshmallows – easy to do, and so much better!  Try it and let me know!




Hot Chocolate on a stick!


1 pound semi sweet chocolate (16 ounces)

1 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

Large Marshmallows

Wooden coffee stirrer or bamboo sticks

Cellophane gift bags


Butter an 8x8 baking dish and lay a sheet of parchment paper on the buttered surface. (You can use pan spray if you like)  Melt chocolate, butter and condensed milk over a double boiler, - simmering water – until the chocolate is completely melted, stir the mixture frequently.


Pour the melted chocolate mixture into the baking dish, and use a spatula to scrape the bowl clean.  Level the fudge with an offset spatula and place in the refrigerator until the fudge sets, about an hour.  Cut into squares..


Pierce a coffee stirrer/bamboo stick, or other decorative “stick that is heat proof” through a marshmallow and then halfway through a piece of fudge.  Place in a cellophane bag.  Using a hole punch, punch a hole through the top and insert a gift tag.  Write the following instructions


To use:

Heat up a mug of milk and dunk the fudge and marshmallow into the milk until the fudge has completely dissolved

You can use anytime of milk that you want, or go a little bit decadent with half and half or whipping cream! 


For Special Occasions I say go big or go home!




2 ½ tablespoons unflavored gelatin

1 ½ cups granulated sugar

1 cup light corn syrup

¼ teaspoon salt

2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract

Cornstarch for dusting



Combine gelatin and ½ cup cold water in the bowl of an electric mixer with whisk attachment.  Let it stand 30 minutes


Combine granulated sugar, corn syrup salt and ½ cup of water in a small heavy saucepan; place over low heat and stir until sugar has dissolved.  Wash down sides of pan with a wet pastry brush to dissolve sugar crystals.


Clip on a candy thermometer; raise heat to high.  Cook syrup without stirring until it reaches 244 degrees (firm ball stage).  Immediately remove pan from heat.


With mixer on low speed, slowly and carefully pour syrup into the softened gelatin.  Increase speed to high; beat until mixture is very thick and white and has almost tripled in volume, about 15 minutes.  Add vanilla; beat to incorporate.


Spray an 8 x 12 inch pan with cooking oil, and then generously dust with corn starch.  Pour marshmallow mixture into pan.  YOU HAVE VERY LITTLE TIME TO DO THIS.  IT’S LIKE MAKING MARSHMALLOW TREATS!  REALLY STICKY.


Dust with cornstarch; let stand overnight uncovered to dry out.


Dip a pizza cutter in corn starch and cut.  Dip in corn starch with each cutting as to prevent sticking.


Sunday, January 13, 2013

Mac N Cheese

Lobster Mac & Cheese


When my daughter was about 8 years old, her Grandpa took her (and all of us!) to the Butler in Saugatuck, MI.  She was told she could order anything.  The special was lobster tails, and she saw “the blue box mac and cheese for kids” on the kids menu.  Well needless to say, the chef came out and wondered who had ordered the lobster tails and the blue box of mac and cheese.  Well that’s my Jenni!


2 tablespoons vegetable oil

kosher salt

1 pound cavatappi

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup all purpose flour

4 cups grated Gruyere Cheese

2 cups grated white cheddar

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

½ teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 ½ pounds cooked lobster meat (1/2 inch diced)

1 ½ cups fresh white bread crumbs, about 5 slices, crust removed


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees


Add the oil to a large pot of salted , boiling water then add the pasta, and give it a good swirl so the noodles don’t stick.  Cook to al dente according to the package directions.  Drain well.


Meanwhile, heat the milk in a  saucepan but don’t allow it to boil.  In the large pot melt 6 tablespoons of the butter and add the flour to make a roux.  While whisking add the hot milk and cook for 1 to 20 minutes, until thickened and smooth.  Off the heat and the cheese, 1 tablespoon salt, pepper and nutmet.  Stir until the cheese melts.  Stir in the cooked pasta and lobster and pour into a prepared gratin dishes or one large casserole.


Melt the remaining tablespoons of butter, combine with the bread crumbs and sprinkle on top.  Bake (in the gratins) for 30 – 35 minutes, in the casserole 40 – 45 minutes, until the sauce is bubbly and the pasta is browned on top. 

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Hot Chocolate at Rylees Ace Hardware

January 19th, 2013 I will be at Rylees Ace Hardware Store!  From 10 am to 11 am, demonstrating the fine art of Hot Chocolate!  I can't wait!  We'll be having Mexican Hot chocolate, white hot chocolate and Hot Chocolate on a stick.

Rylees is at 1234 Michigan Ave, Grand Rapids, MI 49519

I'ts a free demonstration - so come on out and visit!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sugar Rubbed Salmon w/ Spinach Salad & Pineapple/Papaya Salsa

I love Salmon!  And it's healthy for me!   This is one of my favorite recipes.  It can be done using salmon filets, whole salmon sides, grilled outside, baked in the oven, pan seared.  The Sugar Rub works great on chicken, pork, steaks, etc.  I generally make up a triple batch and keep it around the house to use.  I hope you enjoy this one. 

Sugar Rubbed Salmon w/ Spinach Salad & Pineapple/Papaya Salsa

Yield 4 Servings

 Dry Sugar Rub


2 Tablespoons sugar

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon black pepper

½ tablespoon ground cumin

½ tablespoon paprika

½ Tablespoon Salt

¼ teaspoon dry mustard

Dash of cinnamon


4 Salmon Filets – 4 to 6 oz each – skin removed

Extra Virgin Olive Oil as needed



4 cups Baby Spinach

2 tablespoons Champagne Vinegar

4 tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper to taste



1cup diced Cucumber

1 cup diced Pineapple

1 cup diced papaya

¼ cup diced red onion

2 Tablespoons Honey

3 Tablespoons Orange Juice

Mix the ingredients for the dry sugar rub.  Pat dry the Salmon filets and sprinkle generously with the rub.


Heat a sauté pan over medium to high heat.  Drizzle with approximately 1 tablespoon of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Place the Salmon steaks presentation side down.


Cook the Salmon steaks for approximately 3 minutes, checking to see if caramelized.  Turnover and turn the heat down to medium.  Finish cooking filets for approximately 4 – 5 minutes or until doneness that you like.  Remove from pan and set aside.


For the Spinach Salad


Place spinach in a bowl and sprinkle with the champagne vinegar and oil.  Sprinkle a bit of salt and pepper.  Mix.  Set aside


For the Salsa:


Mix all of the ingredients and set aside.


To Plate:


Place a salmon filet in the center of the plate.  Top with a generous handful of spinach and top with the Salsa


Serve and enjoy


Dry Sugar Rub can be used on pork, steaks, chicken, etc.


Salsa can be made 1 day in advance – Dry sugar rub will keep for 3 – 4 weeks in a tight container


Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year New You Foods

Have some fun with these recipes!  I did them (oh so last year 2012) for a Superbowl Presentation for WZZM 13 Get Fit segment and for Spectrum Health's Healthy Cooking Classes!  They were fun and easy ways to have a healthy New Year. 


Honey Hummus


2 cans (15 ounces) garbanzo beans drained

½ cup honey

Juice of one lemon

2 tablespoons cilantro shopped

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garlic finally chopped

Salt to taste

Dash of Cayenne Pepper


Puree ingredients, chill to blend flavors and serve at room temperature.




Serve with pita bread and raw vegetables and as a spread for sandwiches.




1 – 6.5 oz jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

3 roma tomatoes, chopped

2 tablespoons chopped red onion

¼ cup chopped black olives

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste


Mix all ingredients in a bowl.  Place approximately 1 tablespoon of salsa into each wonton shell.  This is also excellent with tortilla chips.





2 teaspoons olive oil

1 small red onion diced

2 jalapenos, chopped

1 tablespoon chopped garlic

2 red bell peppers, roasted, peeled, seeded and diced

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro

1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1teaspoon kosher salt

1 ½ cups cooked black beans, drained


Heat olive oil over high heat.  Add onion, jalapeño, and garlic, cook 1 – 2 minutes until soft, add red bell peppers and vinegar, bring to boil.  Reduce heat and add cilantro, parsley, cumin and salt.  Transfer to medium bowl, add beans and toss well to mix.





Can be prepared in 45 minutes or less



2 plum tomatoes

2 firm-ripe avocados

2 tablespoons minced red onion

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 teaspoon minced garlic

Quarter tomatoes, discarding seeds, and chop. Halve and pit avocados. Scoop

Avocado flesh into a bowl and mash - Stir in tomatoes, remaining ingredients,

salt and pepper to taste.


Makes about 2 cups





Spring Rolls

1 package rice spring rolls

Shredded Carrots – 12 oz package

1 head Nappa cabbage - shredded

1 Zucchini  - julienne

Rice Wine Vinegar – 2 – 3 tablespoons

Soy Sauce – 2 – 3 tablespoons v (additional for dipping if desired)

1 tablespoon honey


Mix the vegetables together and toss in the vinegar, soy sauce and honey.  Set aside to marinate for approximately 15 minutes.


Prepare the Spring rolls according to package directions.  Work with one at a time.  Soak the paper in warm water until it is “loose”

Lay out on your work surface.  Place a small amount of vegetables in the center of the paper, and roll and fold like burritos.



Yield approximately 10 spring rolls.


Roasted Chickpeas



1 (12 ounce) can chickpeas (garbanzo
beans), drained
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt (optional)
garlic salt (optional)
cayenne pepper (optional)


Preheat oven to 450 degrees F (230 degrees C).
Blot chickpeas with a paper towel to dry them. In a bowl, toss chickpeas with olive oil, and season to taste with salt, garlic salt, and cayenne pepper, if using. Spread on a baking sheet, and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until browned and crunchy. Watch carefully the last few minutes to avoid burning



Kale Chips

Serves 6

Kale is a good luck food, it’s the color of money, and is associated with wealth and economic prosperity


1 bunch(es) (10-ounce) kale, rinsed and dried well

Nonstick cooking spray

1/2 teaspoon(s) kosher salt



  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. From kale, remove and discard thick stems, and tear leaves into large pieces. Spread leaves in single layer on 2 large cookie sheets. Spray leaves with nonstick cooking spray to coat lightly; sprinkle with salt. Bake kale 12 to 15 minutes or just until kale chips are crisp but not browned. Cool on cookie sheets on wire racks.