Sunday, March 18, 2012

A Weekend in the Northeast.

It was a great weekend in the Northeast- ya know, because we live in the Northeast now ... (Still weird).
The weather was glorious and we had lots of fun to-do's.

Friday I started whipping up a new concoction ... Indian food!! I hadn't seen any Indian restaurants, and once I realized I couldn't have it my cravings started just ravishing. Thankfully, Danny and Emily (Aaron's co-worker and his wife who are some of our new good friends here) are Indian-food-loving folk too, so they came to try some of my new creations. One of my very besties in AR, Lisa, introduced me to Indian food many, many moons ago and every couple months we would go to our fav Indian restaurant, Star of India, in Little Rock. Lisa even cooks it often and she practically held my hand from afar while I started this new adventure on Friday (when cooking begins at one in the afternoon and you don't eat until 7:30pm, it's an adventure).

The first thing I made was Chicken Tikki Masala, also known as butter chicken. I couldn't find a bunch of the ingredients, and I had some random things on hand- so here is how I made it- it's kind of compressed from several other recipes into a crock-pot recipe so that it would be stewing away all day while I was busy trying out other new things.
Here's what I ended up doing ...

Chicken Tikki Masala, or Butter Chicken
4-6 boneless chicken thighs cut into bite-sized pieces
1 onion diced
3 cloves garlic minced
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp oil
**Stir fry chicken, onion and garlic in frying pan on medium heat until the chicken has some color and the onion is translucent. Then pour entire contents of pan into crock pot. Then add:
1 jar of Patak's "Butter Chicken" Simmer Sauce
1 tsp garam masala
1 can coconut milk
1 cup plain yogurt
1 5.5 fl oz can of tomato paste
Salt to taste
Mix gently and cook in a slow cooker on high heat 4-6 hours or low heat 6-8 hours.


Next I made one of Lisa's recipe's that was soooo yummy!

Coconut Shrimp Curry
Sauce base:
1T. good quality curry powder
1 T. garam masala
1 tsp coriander
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 can coconut milk ( 14 oz.)
1 can chopped tomatoes (14 oz.)
1 can tomato sauce (14 oz.)
1 chopped onion
1 serrano pepper, finely chopped
bell pepper, finely chopped
3-4 cloves minced garlic
2 tbsp grated ginger (or the ginger paste)
butter/ghee or coconut oil
1 # peeled, deveined shrimp

Heat butter/ghee in a heavy skillet. Saute onions, bell pepper, garlic and ginger until soft and slightly caramelized. Add spices, cook until fragrant. Add coconut milk, chopped tomatoes and tomato sauce, stir and bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and cook through in simmering sauce (around 10-15 minutes). Top with chopped cilantro and mint leaves.

Both are served traditionally over rice. I put a little oil and butter in a skillet and toasted my spices of black peppercorn, garam masala, cinnamon, and a pinch of cayenne. When those started getting fragrant I added my rice and water, plus a bag of frozen peas, and then just covered with a lid for the cooking time on my package.

I also made Saag Paneer which is kind like a creamed spinach dish that is my favorite thing at Star of India.
Here is another recipe Lisa gave me...

Saag Paneer
1 # paneer, cubed (SO, my grocery store didn't have Paneer cheese so I had to make my own, which was way easy. I just watched a YouTube video and presto! Homeade Paneer Cheese!
2 T. butter/ghee
2 T. coconut oil (or just use butter and olive oil)
1 pound fresh spinach
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
crushed ginger paste in a jar
1-3 small green chiles, seeded and chopped
1 T. mild, medium, or hot curry powder
1 tsp. cumin
1 T. garam masala
1 tsp. turmeric
1/2 cup of heavy cream
salt, to taste
1/2 cup chopped cilantro, optional

1. Heat half the butter and oil over medium heat in a large nonstick pan. Add paneer, frying until each square in browned on two or more sides, 12 to 15 minutes. Turn the paneer and shake pan occasionally. Remove from pan, set aside.
2. Wipe out pan. Heat remaining butter and oil. Add onion, ginger, garlic, and chiles. Fry over medium heat until onions are soft but not browned, about 5 minutes.
3. Add curry and cumin, stirring until fragrant, about 1 minute.
4. Add spinach to pan, stirring until well blended. Transfer spinach mixture to food processor or blender and add enough yogurt to render the mixture creamy. If you prefer a coarser mixture, reserve 1/3 of the spinach before processing.
5. Return to pan, adding reserved unmixed spinach, if using. Add warm water, if needed, to thin.
6. Stir in paneer, heating gently until paneer softens somewhat.
7. Top with cilantro, if desired.

I got stuff to make the Naan Bread and Mango Lassi's for dessert, but I ran out of time ... Next time maybe!

My Homeade cheese .... Who am I?!?!

Cooking away ...

This plate is just CRYING OUT for some Naan Bread! Still sad I didn't have time to make it. If you want to take a walk on the wild side and try something new, I highly recommend these recipes!

Saturday morning we went on a family outing to Farmland Animal Park in Chemung, NY. We had originally planned to go to Vestal, NY to the zoo, but it doesn't open until April here. Usually there is still 3 feet of snow on the ground apparently!
Farmland wasn't technically open yet either, plus they'd had a lot of flooding and were still cleaning up the farm, but there were still lots of animals to look at and the kids loved it. Of course I took a ridiculous amount of pictures, as usual. I have GOT to pull out my real camera- but iPhone pics are so convenient!

And what farm day would be complete without a new farm animal ... Dalton begs to go the Tractor Supply store to look at the Schleich animals every. single. day. So between Farmland and Tractor Supply I think he had a great day!

That afternoon we went and got a grill and some outside fun things to grill out with friends and enjoy the weather. While Aaron and Avery were out he got Avery a new b-ball ensemble ... I died laughing when she came back in this:

She's the cutest thing I've ever seen ... Black tennies and all. ;)

We sat outside, grilled lots of yumminess and then the men watched basketball and the kids played hard. It was such a fun Saturday.

While I was inside cutting up some veggies I had my country music blaring, my windows open, I could hear the kids running and playing out back with Aaron and I just had this moment of thinking, "I'm happy here." It TOTALLY surprised me, because I've kinda seen it as just surviving here until we can go home ... But, I know it's God's GRACE and the peace He promises in Phillipians 4:4 "Then the
Peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus." It's so beyond my simple understanding, but His infinite grace is sufficient for me. Hallelujah.

This morning we visited the home Church; Aaron had to go work for a little while this morning/afternoon since he's been sick with a TERRIBLE sinus infection the last few days. Our friends invited us to their home and so I took the kids and we had a great morning. It was good discussion, fellowship, and I felt like it was just an all together great morning. Afterward we ate lunch and let the kids play outside and came home for naps. I think Aaron is going to go shoot pigeons or shoot something this afternoon with some guys and I'm kinda tuckered out, so I'm guessing we'll lay low and have leftovers for dinner. And that's sounds pretty perfect to me!

Hope everyone had a great weekend!

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