Chicken Tikka Masala

My favorite Indian dish of all time is Chicken Tikka Masala. At least I think it is my favorite. After I had it for the first time, there are very few other dishes that I’ve tried! We just returned from a trip abroad and I tried tikka masala in every  city we visited. Now that we are back, I’ve been craving it. This week, Joe challenged me to make my own chicken tikka masala. For this challenge, I was allowed to do some research. I’ve included the resources I consulted at the end of this post and you’ll see that I pulled bits and pieces from different recipes.

I started with a marinade for the chicken. It included 3 tablespoons greek yogurt, 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of grated fresh ginger, a teaspoon of paprika, and a teaspoon of curry.

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I let the chicken breasts marinate in this mixture in the refrigerator for a couple of hours.


I returned to my real job, doing communication research, for a few hours while the chicken marinated. Cooking is not my real job, so I have to multitask. When I returned I chopped the following list of vegetables. And this was a rough chop. I knew I planned to blend them so didn’t feel the need to waste time with finely chopping them or making them look pretty.

1 green pepper

1 large tomato

2 jalapeno peppers

1 yellow onion

I sauteed this with a stick of butter until tender.


I started the chicken on the George Foreman grill to get a good sear.


Next, I added the following ingredients to the veggies:

one can tomato sauce

3 teaspoons curry (I would have added more but ran out!)

3/4 teaspoon of ginger

1.5 teaspoon of garlic powder

1.5 teaspoon onion powder

1.5 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon black pepper

2 teaspoons of cayenne pepper


When the chicken was done, I let it rest for a bit. I added about a cup of heavy cream and used an immersion blender to blend the spicy veggie mixture. I added the chicken to the tikka masala, let is simmer for a while to absorb flavors, and it was all done….almost.


I still wanted a little more heat in my dish. Now, I know that sriracha is not traditionally used in Indian cooking, but it was the best option I had. I added about a teaspoon of sriracha. I like sriracha in other dishes too, like my sriracha roasted lamb shanks. The dish turned out really yummy. My first bite still tasted like it wasn’t hot enough, but the heat quickly kicked in as I continued eating. And this recipe gave me plenty to freeze and enjoy at another time! The only thing missing was naan. I’ll have to try this recipe for naan next time.


My recipe was inspired by the following variations:


Food Network Recipe

Bon Appetite

I also got a few tips from my friend Jenny, who helped me the first time I every tried making tikka masala. =)

Because I’m trying to think of vegetarian and paleo options for many of my favorite meals, my recommendation would be to leave the chicken out to make it vegetarian. All of the taste seems to be  in the sauce anyways.Or you can check out my Indian inspired vegetarian recipe for kohlrabi curry.

You could also put the mixture over cauliflower rice instead of basmati to make it paleo.

Another interesting variation of the traditional tikka masala comes from a version I had in Cardif, Wales where the chef added pineapple to the dish. It was a great mix of hot and sweet and added a little more texture (and nutrition?) to the dish.


Texas Caviar Chicken and Refried Beans

Hello friends, family, and followers!

Sorry for the long delay in posts. I’ve been out of the country…then out of state…and then just out of my kitchen. I’m so ready to get back to my own kitchen and eating (and cooking) like I normally do though! I’m not quite there yet, but decided while visiting my parents that I would cook dinner for them. It is hard to cook in a kitchen that isn’t your own!

I made a Mexican inspired dish with my own play off of Texas caviar. If you aren’t familiar with Texas caviar, you can find the traditional recipe here.

First, I roasted two ears of corn, one red pepper, and one green pepper using the broiler in the oven. While that broiled, I prepared several other pieces of the meal.

I made a homemade taco seasoning instead of using the store bought seasoning packets. I left out the salt to make it a little healthier. I sprinkled about half of this over the chicken breasts and then put them into the oven to bake.

I chopped two tomatoes and 1/2 of an onion into 2 tablespoons and started to sautee them. As the peppers finished roasting, I chopped them into the mixture. Last, I shaved the roasted corn into the mixture and added the second half of the taco seasoning.

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While the mixture cooked on low and the chicken continued to bake, I began heating refried beans. To help with the texture, I added 1 tablespoon of sour cream and 1/4 cup of cheddar cheese. As this mixed into the beans, they became so much creamier and tastier!

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The last step was just to boil rice as the foundation for the plate. I plated it and added a dollop of sour cream and a touch of shredded cheddar. I kept it to a minimum to keep the dish a bit healthier.

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I liked the simple, fresh, and tasty dish. Looking forward to having leftovers for my lunch today. I’ll be getting back to my normal food challenges and posts next week.

Lemon Chicken and Vegetable Soup

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been trying to slowly use all of the goodies in our freezer. One of the containers I came across today was leftover chicken. I had tried to make a whole chicken in the crockpot a few months ago. I put the whole chicken into the crockpot, added sliced lemons, and crushed garlic and let it simmer all day. It was so tasty and juicy. It actually fell off of the bones and we had to eat it shredded even though that wasn’t the plan at that time. I froze the leftovers thinking that I would eventually make chicken and dumplings. However, with our attempt to eat a more paleo diet, dumplings weren’t really an option anymore. However, I think this would make an amazing chicken and dumpling base! With dumplings off the table for us, I had to think of something else.

I decided to make a lemon chicken and vegetable soup. First, I chopped one green pepper, 1/4 of an onion, 1 jalapeno, and 3 carrots and sauteed them in chipotle olive oil (for more about specialty flavored olive oils, see my post here).


When the carrots were tender, I added the shredded chicken. The chicken had been frozen in the broth from cooking, but it wasn’t enough to make it soupy. I also added 4 cups of water.


I let the soup simmer for about 40 minutes. I added a tablespoon of chipotle chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon of thyme, and a teaspoon of black pepper.


The final product was very good! The natural broth (I usually buy broth at the store) was amazing. At first, I worried the lemon would be weird in a soup, but it was a nice touch. And what a healthy dish!


Chicken and Broccoli Casserole

I did not have an official challenge tonight. But, as the end of the week nears, I usually have a few things in my refrigerator that I need to finish. This week, I took some of those leftover items and turned it into a simple, low carb, and relatively healthy casserole.

First, I sauteed one pound of chicken breast, a minced clove of garlic, half an onion, and 6 or 7 white mushrooms in olive oil. I added black pepper, cumin, and coriander (about a half teaspoon of each).


While the chicken was cooking, I chopped one bunch of broccoli. Broccoli has never been a favorite vegetable of mine, but if you chop it finely enough, you can barely taste it.


I stirred the ingredients together with one cup of cheddar cheese.


I looked for other options as the casserole topping, but most of them were things that either didn’t sound that healthy or that I didn’t have at home. So, I used another cup of cheddar cheese to top the casserole.


I baked it at 350 for 30 minutes. I was pleased with the dish!


Back to Cooking…Finally!

The past month has been a little hectic! I’ve been in the process of moving, so I’ve been transitioning in a lot of areas of my life…including the kitchen! Unfortunately, I was kitchenless for that time period, which also means that I was blog postless. Blog postless? Apparently, I don’t just cook, I make up words too…

Now, I have a kitchen, but I don’t have all of my supplies unpacked and put away. To squelch my cooking cravings I just worked with what I had to make something quick and easy.

First, I sauteed thinly sliced chicken breasts until slightly browned.


I shredded the chicken and added a can of black beans, 5 tablespoons of salsa, 1.5 tablespoons of lime juice, 1/4 cup chopped onion, 1 teaspoon of cumin, and 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder for a little kick. I let this simmer for about 15 minutes.


While the mixture simmered, I cut the top out of two large bell peppers.


I stuffed each pepper with the chicken mixture and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese.


I baked it for about 20 minutes wrapped in foil and another 5 minutes uncovered.


I liked that the filling was protein filled and tasty. It didn’t include carb loaded fillers like rice or bread crumbs. The addition of the lime juice prevented it for getting too dried out while baking. When I make these again I would like to make my own salsa using my recipe from a previous post called Mexican Monday.


I’m looking forward to getting back to my normal challenges next week!

Party Food Mashup

As I was brainstorming quick but yummy appetizers to make for New Year’s Eve, I thought about two of our favorites.

We love the grape jelly meatballs in the crockpot (as do most of our party guests). We also love buffalo chicken dip.

Although I love these party foods, I wanted to try to get creative. I made Buffalo Chicken Meatballs. I started with these ingredients.


I mixed it all together and made a few ingredient adjustments to get it to the right texture for making meatballs. The approximate ingredient amounts were:

1 lb of ground chicken

1 egg

1/2 packet of ranch dressing

1 tablespoon of garlic powder

1/2 container of blue cheese crumbles

1 and 1/2 cups of bread crumbs

1/2 onion

5 tablespoons of buffalo sauce

I mixed it by hand and shaped the meatballs. I dropped them onto a foil coated in non-stick spray.


I baked it at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, turning them about half way through.


I taste tested them, but there wasn’t quite enough zip to them for my taste. To make up for this I topped each with a little more wing sauce and baked for about 2 more minutes. This made it perfect!


The Gina Special

I haven’t had a real food challenge all week thanks to the busy end of the semester craziness. But that is ok. I’ve had plenty of fun making up meals like my paleo crab cakes and asparagus soup and gonig out to eat at places like Doodles.

When I went into the office today, I had a special package hagning on my office door from my sweet friend Gina. She brought me two beautiful butternut squash from her garden. I was immediately inspired and came home to whip something up for the crockpot (and it isn’t even crockpot Wednesday!).

First, I poured coconut milk and red curry paste into the crockpot (leftover from curried chicken and cabbage). I added pickled ginger (leftover from homemade sushi). Finally I added ginger and curry powders.


Cut the butternut squash and the chicken into bite sized pieces.


Add the squash and chicken to the crockpot, stir to coat well, and cook on low for 4-6 hours.


You can serve this over rice, eat it as is, or serve it with a salad. We went with the salad to keep our meal consistent with the Paleo diet. I also liked that the spinach added a little color to the plate. Thanks to Gina for making the Gina special possible!


Looking for another butternut squash recipe? Check out this cream of butternut squash soup.