Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Chicken Biryani

I love Indian food.  I love the spices, I love the all-you-can-eat buffets and I love that many of their dishes are vegetarian.  Give me an Indian lunch buffet and I will eat until I'm sick.

I decided to try this recipe based on it getting such high reviews.  And now I see why.  Abe LOVED it and declared it as good as something from a restaurant.  It was super easy to  make, so it will be added to the regular menu.

I know the recipe calls for boneless thighs, but I couldn't find those, so I substituted boneless breasts instead.  If you wanted to make this vegetarian, I'm sure cubed potatoes, chick peas or even fried extra-firm tofu would be lovely in this sauce.

Don't substitute ground cinnamon for the cinnamon stick- you'll regret it.  Buy some and then save the rest for holiday toddies.

I'm thinking you could omit the saffron, if you don't want to buy it.  It does add a nice flavor to the rice, however.

I got this from


Chicken Biryani
Serves 6 (well, who are we kidding.... serves 3-4)

3  cups  water
2  teaspoons  salt, divided
1/4  teaspoon  saffron threads, crushed
1 1/2  cups  uncooked basmati rice
1  (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1  pound  skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
1  tablespoon  vegetable oil
1  cup  chopped onion
2  teaspoons  curry powder
1  teaspoon  minced peeled fresh ginger
1/2  teaspoon  ground cardamom
1/8  teaspoon  ground red pepper
2  garlic cloves, minced
2  serrano chiles, seeded and minced
1  cup  plain whole-milk yogurt
1/2  cup  golden raisins
1/2  cup  chopped dry-roasted cashews
1/4  cup  fresh cilantro

1. Bring water, 1 teaspoon salt, and saffron to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add rice and cinnamon stick to pan. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Discard cinnamon stick.

2. Sprinkle chicken with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove chicken from pan; cover and keep warm.

3. Add onion and 1/2 teaspoon salt to pan. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally.

4. Add curry and the next 5 ingredients (curry through serrano chiles); cook 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Add yogurt, stirring with a whisk; cook 3 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring constantly. Add chicken and raisins; cook 4 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Add rice; stir well to combine. Sprinkle evenly with cashews and cilantro.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Poblano, Mango and Black Bean Quesadillas

I was looking for a way to use up the leftover poblano peppers from the kebob recipe.  This one called my name because it has a lot of the things I like- black beans, avocado and mangoes.  Plus, you can't really mess up a quesadilla.

I got this from (along with the photo) and made a few tweaks.  If you don't like a spicier dish, skip the hot sauce and replace it with a tiny bit of cumin.


Poblano, Mango and Black Bean Quesadillas
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people)

1  teaspoon  olive oil
1 1/2  cups sliced onion
1/2  teaspoon  dried oregano
1/4  teaspoon  salt
1/8  teaspoon  black pepper
1-2  poblano chile, seeded and chopped
1  (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1  cup  jarred sliced peeled mango (if using one in heavy syrup, rinse)
1/3  cup  cubed peeled avocado
Handful of cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
1-2 shakes of hot sauce
4  (8-inch) flour tortillas
Cooking spray
1/2  cup  (2 ounces) shredded sharp cheddar cheese

1. Preheat broiler.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion, oregano, salt, pepper, and poblano, and sauté 5 minutes or until onion is tender. Add beans; cook 1 minute or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat; stir in mango, avocado, cilantro and hot sauce.  Squirt lime juice over mixture.

3. Place flour tortillas on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Arrange about 3/4 cup bean mixture on half of each tortilla, leaving a 1/2-inch border. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons cheddar cheese over bean mixture, and fold tortilla in half. Lightly coat tortillas with cooking spray. Broil 3 minutes or until cheddar cheese melts.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Marinara Sauce

I wanted to use up what we have in the freezer and needed a way to serve up frozen ravioli.  This recipe was basic, but very yummy (and easy!).

I got the base from, but tweaked it a bit.

If you like a chunky sauce, use chopped tomatoes and don't over use the processor.  If you like it smoother, I'd use crushed tomatoes and run the whole thing through the processor at the end after you cook the onions into it.

If you don't like a slight kick, omit the red pepper flakes.

Don't have a bottle of white wine around?  We aren't wine drinkers, so I keep cooking wine in the pantry.  Keeps forever and works perfectly.  


Basic Marinara Sauce
Serves 8

2 (14.5 ounce) cans diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
4 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley (or 1 Tablespoon dried parsley)
3 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
Large pinch of sugar

Pinch of red pepper flakes
6 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup white wine

1. In a food processor place Italian tomatoes, tomato paste, chopped parsley, minced garlic, red pepper flakes, sugar, oregano, salt, and pepper. Blend until smooth.
2. In a large skillet over medium heat saute the finely chopped onion in olive oil for 2 minutes. Add the blended tomato sauce and white wine.
3. Simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Chicken Fajita Kebabs

We got a new grill this summer and I was determined to try grilling.  The grill has always scared me a bit... I'm afraid I will blow up.  Then again, I'm also scared to put air in my tires for the same reason.  Maybe I need to relax a bit.....

I got a little booklet titled "50 Kebabs" from my Food Network magazine and decided this was the perfect way to get over my fear.   How bad could a kebab go?

It was a hit!  Easy and quick.  Nothing better for summer.  I'm excited to try the 49 other recipes this summer.

I served it with rice and steamed broccoli.


Chicken Fajita Kebabs

Puree 1/2 cup olive oil, a handful of cilantro, 2 seeded jalapenos, 2 garlic cloves and salt; add cubed chicken breast and marinate.  Skewer with onion and poblano pepper pieces.  Grill, basting with lime juice.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Black Bean and Corn Salad

I needed to get rid of some corn on the cob from this weekend's barbecue.  This recipe was great and is definitely going to be added to the rotation.   It will be the perfect side for any summer dish.  Plus, it's healthy!  Ok, maybe don't tell the kids that part......

I didn't have bell pepper or cilantro, so I can only imagine this recipe is mouthwatering with them.

I got this recipe from


Black Bean and Corn Salad
Serves 4-6


1 small clove garlic
Pinch salt, plus 2 teaspoons
Juice 1 1/2 limes (about 3 tablespoons)
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil


1 cup fresh corn kernels (from about 2 ears)
1 orange bell pepper, diced
1/2 small red onion, finely chopped (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small hass avocado, halved, seeded and diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro, leaves and stems

Make the dressing: Smash the garlic clove, sprinkle with a pinch of the salt, and, with the flat side of a large knife, mash and smear the mixture to a coarse paste. Whisk the garlic paste, lime juice, salt and chili powder together in a bowl. Gradually whisk in the olive oil, starting with a few drops and then adding the rest in a steady stream.

For the salad: Cook the corn, bell pepper, and onions in the olive oil until beginning to brown over medium-high heat in a skillet. Toss in the black beans and cook until warm. Add the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Remove from the heat and gently fold in the tomatoes, avocado, and cilantro. Serve.