Turmeric Braised Chicken

This week has been cold, rainy, and gray. With the vibrant colors, crisp air, and rustling leaves of autumn, it’s sometimes easy to forget this season is a prelude to winter.

For me, one of the advantages of chilly and rain-induced bad hair days is that it’s great weather for comfort food.

This brightly favored, braised chicken dish is perfect for damp fall days. It’s hearty with a hint of spice and fills you with warmth.

Serve with lots of naan to soak up the rich, flavorful broth and you’ll almost wish for more days like this!

Turmeric Braised Chicken

Turmeric Braised Chicken

Ingredients
1 chicken, 3-4lbs, cut into pieces (you can also use chicken thighs for this recipe)
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp garam masala
½ tsp cayenne pepper powder, optional (I like a little heat!)
1 cup chicken stock
Salt and pepper
Warm naan, optional

Prepare
Heat olive oil in a heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Liberally season the chicken on all sides with salt and pepper. When the oil has heated, add the chicken pieces to brown, turning once. Cook for about 4 minutes on each side. Avoid crowding the skillet, which can lead to steaming instead of browning. Cook chicken in batches if you need. Once the chicken has browned, remove from skillet and place in a baking dish.

Add garlic to the same skillet you cooked the chicken and cook for about 5 minutes. Then deglaze the pan with chicken stock, taking care to scrape up the yummy brown bits from the bottom. Add the turmeric, garam masala, and cayenne pepper powder (if using) and bring to a boil. Lower heat and cook the chicken stock for about 5 more minutes or until slightly reduced.

Pour the spiced stock over the chicken pieces and place in oven. Bake for about 20-25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and juices run clear. Alternatively, you can use a meat thermometer to ensure chicken is cooked to 165 °F.

Serve with warmed naan or a bowl of rice.

Autumn Has Arrived

No doubt about it. It’s officially the season of pumpkin spice and I couldn’t be happier. Today I took some time to reorganize my closet, (read exchange my sandals and sun dresses with boots and chunky sweaters) which inspired the post below.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, just a start for some cozy fall outfits. I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

 

Autumn Essentials

Caramel Apples

Caramel Apples

It’s officially fall and, though the days are getting shorter, I’m loving the crisp mornings and cooler temperatures. It wasn’t always the case, but Autumn has become my favorite season as I’ve gotten older. There are many reasons I love this time of year: the changing leaves, pumpkin spice rooibos tea, rich, slow-cooked meals, boots, cozy sweaters and scarves, roasted butternut squash soup, and the anticipation of winter and the holiday season, just to name a few.

Most of all, I love fall because it reminds me of home and growing up in Indiana. One of my family’s favorite fall activities is apple picking. Each fall we would take many trips north to the apple orchards in Michigan. My mom would always pack lunch and we would picnic at the orchard and then pick apples and drink cider to our hearts’ content. Some of my favorite memories are from these trips.

To kick off the fall season (and indulge my nostalgia), we took a day trip out west and visited the Stribling Orchard and some nearby wineries.

Apple Orchard

Once we arrived, I quickly realized visiting an apple orchard on the first weekend of fall is not the most original idea. The place was packed and I could see why. The orchard is located near the Blue Ridge Mountains and has beautiful views. There are picnic tables throughout the grounds and an on-site bakery that sells apple donuts, turnovers, cakes and pies (and yes, I did wait in the ridiculously long line for an apple danish, and it was worth it). We spent the afternoon roaming the orchard, taking in the views, and tasting and picking many different types of apples. We picked quite a few, so you may see a common theme in the coming posts…

Apple Orchard.

Caramel Apples

Since there are so many variations of caramel apples with an endless list of toppings, this isn’t as much a recipe as it is guidelines. Below is the list of ingredients I used, but other than the apples and caramel, the rest of the ingredients are really up to you!

Ingredients

Apples (I used Jonathans. Granny Smith, Jonagold, and Pink Ladys work well too.)
Cookie sticks or popsicle sticks
Caramel candies (or if you’re feeling ambitious, homemade caramel)
Dark Chocolate
Milk chocolate
White chocolate
Salted peanuts, crushed
Graham crackers, crushed
Marshmallows

Caramel Apple Ingredients

To begin, I washed and dried my apples thoroughly and then removed the stem from each one. Then I inserted the cookie sticks into the center about 3/4 of the way down. The sticks I used have blunt ends, so I cut one end on an angle to create a sharp point so they could easily pierce the apple.

I set up a double-boiler using a small sauce pan with one inch of water topped with a medium glass mixing bowl. Be careful not to let the bottom of your bowl touch the water, this can cause the chocolate to scorch. Depending on the size of the sauce pan, you may need a larger bowl.

Once the water came to a boil, I turned the heat down and placed the milk chocolate in the bowl to melt. I repeated this in separate bowls for the dark and white chocolate and the caramel.

For my first caramel apple, I went the traditional route: Caramel Apple with Salted Peanuts.

Caramel Apple with Salted Peanuts

To start, I dipped the apple in the melted caramel and scraped the bottom off with a spoon so the excess caramel didn’t pool around the bottom when it sets. I immediately rolled it in the crushed salted peanuts and then placed it on a tray with parchment paper. I put this in the fridge to set for about 15 minutes.

You can stop here, but since I had all the other toppings, I wanted to make my apple a little prettier (and tastier). Once the caramel was set, I carefully drizzled some white chocolate on the top and made some zig zag drizzles down the side of the apple. You can do this using a pastry bag, a zip lock bag with a corner snipped off, or a squeeze bottle.

Dark & White Chocolate Caramel Apple

Black & White Caramel Apple

I started this apple by dipping it in the melted caramel and then letting it set in the fridge for about 15-20 minutes. Next, I dipped it in the dark chocolate and let it cool in the fridge again. Once the dark chocolate layer had set, I piped melted white chocolate onto the apple, starting from the top and creating thin lines with the stream of chocolate. I found the easiest way was to hold the apple in one hand and slowly turn it while drizzling the white chocolate with the other hand. This helped to ensure all of the sides were evenly covered.

Ombre Caramel Apple

Ombre Caramel Apple

This apple was destined to become a s’mores caramel apple, but I managed to thoroughly burn the marshmallows while melting them for the first layer so now it’s an ombre caramel apple. To start, I dipped it in white chocolate and let that set in the fridge. Next was the milk chocolate layer and more time to set. Last, I dipped it in the dark chocolate and then rolled it in crushed graham crackers. For the final touch, I used a fork to create a pretty textured finish on the thicker layers of chocolate.

Before serving, I chilled the apples for about 20-30 minutes so all the layers and toppings had time to set.

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry

I’ve been working on eating a little healthier these days.  Nothing crazy, just more clean, whole foods and less ingredients I can’t pronounce. (Sounds like a good filter for grocery shopping, no? Only buying items with ingredients that I know. Maybe I’ll try it one day I’m feeling extra disciplined and can talk myself into detouring the bakery section).

Anyway, here’s today’s recipe: Basil Shrimp Stir Fry. This dish is very simple. The key is to have all the ingredients prepped because the actual cooking goes pretty quickly.

To start, I chopped some of my favorite vegetables into pieces that were roughly the same size so everything cooked at the same rate. I used red bell pepper, cremini mushrooms, haricots verts, carrots, broccoli, and one jalapeño.

Stir Fry Veggies

After all the chopping and prep, the veggies looked so good that I seriously considered abandoning my stir fry plans and just making a simple vinaigrette and calling it a salad. Maybe next time.

Stir Fry Veggies.

Once I decided to continue with the stir fry, I heated some olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat and added two cloves of chopped garlic, one tablespoon of basil chiffonade, and one pound of peeled and deveined shrimp. I sautéed the shrimp for about 2 minutes until they became opaque and then removed them from the pan and set aside.

In the same pan, I added a little more olive oil and increased the heat to high. When the oil was almost smoking, I added the bell pepper, carrots, and haricots verts. I cooked these for about 45 seconds and then pushed everything to the edges of the pan. Then, I added the broccoli, mushrooms, and the jalapeño and cooked for another minute or so.

I seasoned with salt and pepper and then added the shrimp back in. I cooked until everything was heated through, about a minute more and then plated the stir fry.

Basil Shrimp Stir Fry.

Tandoori Salmon and Purple Beans

Tandoori Salmon

I know you’re probably thinking, “Those beans aren’t purple, what kind of a food blogger would trick her readers like that?” I confess that it is a trick, but not one of mine. You see, the beans in the picture above started life as purple and then had a little costume change. Let me explain…

I saw these colorful beans at the farmers’ market last week and I couldn’t resist the purple ones. Mostly because of the vibrant hue, but also because I’ve read that purple vegetables have lots of antioxidants and I’m sure I can use more of those to balance all the non-purple food I eat.

Purple Beans

Anyway, I wanted to make tandoori salmon (yogurt-and-spice-marinated salmon) for dinner and mentally added these as the perfect side.

Fast forward to Saturday night’s dinner prep and, much to my dismay, the beautiful purple color changed as soon as they hit the hot water and my special beans turned into plain old green beans.

I consulted my good friend Google and found that purple beans are just green beans in disguise. The purple pigment is stored only in the outer layer of the beans and changes to green once heat is applied. Disappointing, yes, but still tasty.

Now, on to the recipe for the Tandoori Salmon.

Tandoori Salmon (Yogurt-and-Spice-Marinated Salmon), Recipe adapted from Saveur

Ingredients

2 salmon filets (I used the ones with the skin-on)
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1  small piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 Tbs canola oil
1 Tbs red chili powder
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1 tsp cardamom seeds, toasted
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garam masala
1 cup plain yogurt
Salt and pepper, to taste

Prepare

Place yogurt in a medium bowl. Add all spices, ginger, garlic and oil to yogurt. Mix to combine and season with salt. Pour mixture over salmon filets and use a rubber spatula or your hands to gently massage into flesh. Cover and refrigerate at least one hour and up to four hours.

Heat oven to 350 °F. Uncover salmon and remove any excess marinade. Bake until fish is cooked through, skin is opaque, and flakes easily or until internal temperature reads 145 °F. For my filets, this took about 35-40 minutes.

You can also make a raita to serve alongside the salmon. Raita is a Pakistani and Indian sauce or dip that has yogurt as a base and includes various spices, herbs, and finely chopped vegetables. There are many variations of raita that can include different spices like cumin, garam masala, and cayenne and many types of vegetables like cucumbers, red onion, and tomatoes.

A very simple raita recipe to use with this dish includes plain yogurt, garam masala, chopped cucumbers, chopped cilantro, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Mix all ingredients in a small bowl and serve along with salmon.

 

Tandoori Salmon.

Summer Herbs

Summer Herbs

A friend of mine has a large herb and vegetable garden on his property and was generous enough to share some of his harvest with me.

He brought me about 10 bunches of different herbs including Thai basil, mint, chives, oregano, thyme, sage, lemon basil, dill, bay laurel, and parsley. Needless to say, my kitchen smells amazing.

I know I won’t be able to use all of these herbs within a week or 10 days so I need to store them properly. I can always dry them, but I wanted to find other ways to store them for future use.

So, what to do with all of these beautiful herbs?

Summer Herbs.

I perused my favorite site for some (p)inspiration and listed some my top picks below. I can’t wait to try some of these recipes!

 Herb Salts

Fragrant Dried Herb Salts by Spoon With Me

Variety of Herb Salts

Credit: Spoon With Me
































Hand-chopped Garlic Herb Salt by Saveur

Herb Salt

Credit: Nicole Franzen

Compound Herb Butter

Compound Butters by Saffron Lane

Compound Herb Butter

Credit: Saffron Lane

Fresh Herb Butter by Lavender Fields Farms

Fresh Herb Butter

Credit: Lavender Fields Farm

Herb Infused Olive Oil

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil by Miss Buttercup

Rosemary Infused Olive Oil

Credit: Miss Buttercup

Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil

Preserve Fresh Herbs in Olive Oil by The Kitchn

Freeze Herbs in Olive Oil

Credit: The Kitchn

Herb Ice

Herb Ice by Not Without Salt

Herb Ice

Credit: Not Without Salt

Caprese Salad with Heirloom Tomatoes

Caprese Salad w Heirloom Tomatoes

I went to the farmers market this weekend and brought home a pretty good haul. Some of my favorites from the lot are the heirloom tomatoes I used in this salad.

Since we are in the midst of the brief heirloom tomato season, it was impossible to pass by any farmer’s stand without seeing crates of these imperfect fruits in a variety of colors.

Heirloom Tomatoes

I don’t consider myself any kind of a connoisseur, but I have eaten many tomatoes in my time and have found heirlooms to have more flavor and taste more tomato-y than the romas or the grape tomatoes you can get from the grocery store year around.

There is lots of information online that says heirlooms are better, like this HuffPost Taste article, and lots of information that says hybrids (the more common tomatoes like romas and grape) are just as good, like this USA Today article.

No matter where you stand on the hybrid vs. heirloom debate, I will say that heirlooms have more interesting names like, Mr. Stripey, the Japanese Black Trifele, and Mortgage Lifter.

Anyway, since heirloom tomatoes have a very short shelf life, I decided a simple caprese salad would be the best way to use these.

This isn’t a traditional caprese salad because I added some romaine to the base before slicing the heirlooms and mozzarella on top. But it is just as good! I finished it up with a chiffonade of basil, a sprinkle of salt, and a little drizzle of olive oil.

Caprese Salad w Heirloom Tomatoes.