Sunday, March 6, 2011

Naan for you!

I didn't really feel like cooking much this weekend.  In fact, I was thrilled to end up with spontaneous dinner plans Friday and lunch plans Saturday because I just didn't feel like cooking.  But eating?  Always want to do that.  And Thursday I made the mistake of not eating enough to support what I wanted to be a 10 mile run on Friday.  Fail.  From now on I will be stuffing my face on Thursdays.  And Saturdays, because I do longer runs on Sunday too.  Hence I felt like eating a pound of guacamole on Saturday was necessary - although mine is better.  Next time.

Despite not really wanting to cook, I couldn't disappoint my coworkers and not show up with cookies on Monday morning.  I didn't really have anything in particular in my cookie queue so I decided to tackle plain old chocolate chip cookies for once and for all, since I have failed at them so many times before.  It turns out that the Perfect Recipe, along with patience, and fresh baking soda, made all the difference in the world.  However, it was VERY difficult to make the dough Saturday morning and have to wait until Sunday to bake them.  So I cheated and baked 2 on Saturday evening to test and they were well worth the wait.  All around SUCCESS.  They were good fresh out of the oven.  They were good a few hours later.  And they were good even a few more hours later.  Woohoo!!! I can make chocolate chip cookies!!!  Look!  They aren't flat.  They aren't big mounds of dough that didn't spread.  They are PERFECT!

My only other weekend project was to make chicken tikka masala, using some spice blends and a recipe I bought last week at the spice store (already posted the link to their website).  Since I love, love, LOVE Indian food - and chicken tikka masala is so good I often want to go swimming in the gravy - I had to try to make it.  Even though I do kind of consider the spice mix "cheating" in my terms of culinary challenges.  But it caught my eye and I've been wanting to make an Indian meal so here goes.

But before the chicken can't have an Indian meal without naan.  I love naan.  Its especially useful for sopping up the last bits of masala gravy in the bowl so that I don't have to stick my face in and lick it clean (at the restaurant this is frowned upon but at home I have no qualms).  I looked at it at both Fresh & Easy and Trader Joes and was horrified at the nutrition facts.  Which really makes me wonder how horrible the HUGE buttery garlicky stuff is when I order it at the restaurant (and eat 2 pieces)...I don't even want to know.  Anyway, I figured making it would be SLIGHTLY healthier and definitely fresher than store bought, plus I needed at least one challenge for the meal.  Super easy but did require slight kneading, which I don't enjoy.  I especially don't enjoy it when I have a nasty burn on one hand (cooking mishap in my volunteer class) and can only do it with one hand!  But I survived.  Here's some action shots:

Rolling it out (after letting the dough rise)...

On the iron skillet (this is actually my "Skookie" or "Cookie Monster" skillet) that bubbled up quite nicely:

The finished product:

Mmm.  Naan.

The tikka masala was also very easy to make - I served it with brown rice because that's what I have and I didn't care that much about it being entirely authentic since it's just me & Rebecca and the leftovers will be lunch this week.  And, I like brown rice (even if it is the cause of the aforementioned nasty burn).  Oh and note to self - next time use a bigger pan for the chicken.  One with a lid, too.  Oops. :)  The flavor was decent but definitely not as good as my favorite restaurant; the sauce was runnier so I added some cornstarch to thicken it up.  It also needed more salt.  I'm not going to bother posting the recipe because it's entirely dependent on having the spice blend I bought.  But basically it was...chicken, the tikka masala spice blend, veggies (frozen...normally I would say ew but they were fine in here), lemon juice, salt, another spice blend, yogurt and half & half (I used whole milk + heavy cream).  Simmer...enjoy.  Here's the finished's missing cilantro but was still very edible.

The only other thing I made this weekend was caramel corn.  What a great idea.  It started off as...let's make popcorn!  Then the HUGE bowls of popcorn Rebecca & I were eating got boring so we decided to turn the leftovers into caramel corn.  You can't really see the caramel goodness in this picture but we certainly enjoyed it.

And now yet another 3 day weekend is gone.  Back to the grind, which means either cereal or veggie burgers or something equally quick during the week.  Next weekend will definitely have to include some pre-St. Patty's Day treats!  I'm looking forward to finding ways to put Guinness and Bailey's into as many things as possible...

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