Chicken Tikka Masala is made easy using Trader Joe’s delicious Masala sauce. The first time I made it, I followed the recipe below. The second time I made the recipe, I used strips of red, yellow and green pepper, carrots and chopped onions. Both were delicious and easy, peasy. We were so excited when a Trader Joe’s was built fairly close to my house. There are always new products to try and enjoy!
During the pandemic, I went to Trader Joe’s only a couple of times. Hat’s off to Trader Joe’s and how they managed shopper entry, masks, and cleanliness. By far, the best job of any grocery store I ventured into.
CHICKEN TIKKA MASALA…TRADER JOE’S STYLE
1 (15-ounce) jar Trader Joe’s Masala Simmer Sauce
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds total), cut into bite-sized pieces
1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, drained
1 cup frozen pearl onions
1 cup sliced baby carrots
Coarsely chopped fresh cilantro (optional)
Cooked rice, for serving (optional)
Pour half of the sauce into the bottom of a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Nestle the chicken into the sauce in a single layer. Pour the drained tomatoes evenly over the chicken.
Add onions and carrots
Pour the remaining sauce on top.
Cover and cook until the chicken is cooked through. (I cooked for 4 hours)
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve over rice, if desired.
Hungarian Goulash is different from the Midwest Goulash I grew up with. The Midwest version was always elbow macaroni, hamburger, tomatoes and sometimes, cheese. I experienced the traditional version in a Hungarian restaurant in Denver and again in Eastern Europe. Goulash (Gulyasleves) is one of the national dishes of Hungary. It reminds me of our traditional Beef Stew, although not as thick as stew and uses different spices.
This recipe is an adapted version of the recipe from a tour guide, Food Tour Budapest. We had a marvelous tour of wonderful restaurants, meandering the streets of Budapest experiencing traditional food and drink in historic and unique restaurants. How I wish I could travel again and experience such a tour. Some day… In the meantime, I can recreate the food memories in my own kitchen.
2 tablespoons lard or cooking oil (I used Olive Oil)
2 medium onions, finely chopped
1-2 tablespoons Hungarian sweet paprika; add a bit of spicy paprika if desired
1 pound cubed beef stew meat or pork shoulder
1 teaspoon salt
1-2 teaspoons caraway seed
4 cups water (I added a bit more as the goulash cooked)
1 whole red pepper, chopped
1 whole tomato, peeled and chopped (or a can of tomatoes)
2 potatoes, peeled and cubed
2 carrots, halved and sliced
1/2 cup chopped celery
Optional: small bits of pasta
Add the lard or oil to the stew pot.
Add onions to the hot lard or oil. Cook the onions until they are glossy and saucy.
Remove from the fire and add the paprika. Mix with the onion. Add a bit of water, to prevent from burning.
Add the meat cubes and put back on the fire. Sprinkle with salt and caraway seed. Add more or less, depending on your tastes
Add the chopped carrots and celery.
Once the meat has a bit of color, add water, chopped pepper and tomatoes. Lower heat to simmer and cover. Stir occasionally to prevent burning.
After one and a half or two hours, check the meat. Add the chopped potatoes and cook through, about 20 minutes.
Add the pasta pieced (optional) when the potatoes are almost done.
Taste the broth and adjust seasoning as desired.
Serve with bread (white or rye). Optional: add freshly ground paprika or spicy green pepper.
Cold winter nights mean hearty soups in my kitchen. Broccoli Cheddar Soup is always a favorite when dining out but I’ve rarely made it. This is a great recipe that has become a family favorite.
BROCCOLI CHEDDAR SOUP
1 tablespoon + 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
1 small/medium sweet yellow onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, peeled and minced finely
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken stock
2 cups fat-free half-and-half (I used regular half-and-half)
3 cups broccoli florets, diced into bite-size pieces
2 large carrots, trimmed, peeled, and finely chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, or to taste
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika or regular paprika, optional and to taste
1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, optional and to taste
pinch cayenne pepper, optional and to taste
8 ounces grated extra-sharp cheddar cheese, with a small amount reserved for garnishing bowls
In a small saucepan, add 1 tablespoon butter, the diced onion, and sauté over medium heat until the onion is translucent and barely browned, about 4 minutes. Stir intermittently.
Add the garlic and cook about 30 seconds, stirring constantly so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat and set pan aside.
In a large heavy-bottom pot, add 4 tablespoons butter, flour, and cook over medium heat for about 3 to 5 minutes, whisking constantly, until flour is thickened. You are making a roux and it’s very important the mixture is thick or soup will never thicken properly later.
Slowly add the vegetable stock, whisking constantly.
Slowly add the half-and-half, whisking constantly.
Allow mixture to simmer over low heat for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
While mixture is simmering, chop the broccoli and carrots. After simmering 15 to 20 minutes, add the broccoli, carrots, and the onion and garlic you previously set aside.
Add the salt, pepper, optional paprika, optional dry mustard powder, and optional cayenne. Stir to combine.
Allow soup to simmer over low heat for about 20 to 25 minutes, or until it has reduced and thickened some. Whisk intermittently to re-incorporate the ‘skin’ that inevitably forms, this is normal.
Optional: I used a Braun hand blender to blend the vegetables into a creamier consistency.
While soup simmers, grate the cheese. After simmering about 20 to 25 minutes, add most of the cheese, reserving a small amount for garnishing bowls. Stir in the cheese until melted and incorporated fully, less than 1 minute.
Transfer soup to bowls, garnish with reserved cheese, and serve immediately. Soup will keep airtight for 5 to 7 days in the fridge. Reheat gently in the microwave.
Roasted Vegetables are my absolute favorite yet I didn’t discover this technique until a few years ago. My carrot harvest this year was the best I’ve ever had, despite Joe’s (my 12 year old Golden Retriever) attempts to steal the carrots out of the basket.
I found this wonderful recipe which did not call for apples, but in later versions I added the apples and loved the added sweet/tart bites.
SWEET POTATOES & CARROTS WITH APPLE CIDER THYME
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium-large carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1-2 apples, peeled and chopped in large pieces
1 small red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
3 whole garlic cloves
1/4 cup apple cider
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Place cut sweet potatoes, carrots, red onion and garlic cloves on a baking sheet and spread them in a single layer.
In a small bowl, whisk together apple cider, olive oil, thyme, salt and pepper. Drizzle mixture all over vegetables and toss to coat evenly.
Roast for 35-45 minutes, until vegetables are caramelized to your liking. Serve immediately.
Can you tell I’m in the mood for spring? My past two recipes have been all about it! This Spring Garden Vegetable Soup has also been in my ‘must make’ stack. I like the versatility of this recipe, easily adapting to Vegan or Vegetarian (using vegetable stock and omitting the cream and chicken) and it is Gluten-Free.
This soup is light and, oh, so healthy. Daughter Sarah served a small bowl to 10-month old grandson, Evan, and he really liked it! I served the soup with the not-so-healthy baked Red Lobster Biscuits (which Evan DEVOURED) but a hearty whole-grain bread would be wonderful paired with this soup.
SPRING GARDEN VEGETABLE SOUP with ASPARAGUS, ARTICHOKES, PEAS & SPINACH
6 cups stock (chicken or vegetable)
4-6 cups water (to reach desired thickness)
1 tablespoon butter
1 leek, cut into half circles
2 ribs celery, trimmed and cut into half-inch thick pieces on the diagonal
3 carrots, trimmed and cut into half-inch thick pieces on the diagonal
1 15-ounce can artichoke bottoms, tough bits sliced off and discarded, remaining parts cut into lengths
16 ounces frozen artichoke hearts (from Trader Joe’s)
8 ounces asparagus, woody ends snapped off, skin pared off if tough, spears cut into one-inch lengths, tips set aside
8 ounces frozen peas
8 ounces frozen spinach
Generous salt & pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
Cream to taste (1/4-1/2 cup)
Optional: 2-3 cups chopped chicken
In a large pot, melt the butter. Add the leek, stir to coat with butter and let cook until just soft.
Add the celery and carrots to the pot, stirring to coat with butter and cooking until soft.
Add the artichoke bottoms, artichoke hearts and asparagus lengths (leave the tips aside).
Add the stock and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat to maintain a slow simmer until all the vegetables are cooked through. (Optional: Add cooked chicken at this point).
Stir in the asparagus tips, peas and spinach and let cook through. Add water to reach desired thickness.
Taste, then season with salt and pepper. Stir in cream to taste. Best if left to rest for 24 hours before serving.
My Mother occasionally made this salad, often with fresh ingredients from her garden. The last time I made this recipe was 15+ years ago for a Christmas party. This week I resurrected the recipe and tried it out in several ways. Each combination was wonderful.
1) Side dish to barbecue ANYTHING
2) Pairs very well with fish and would be GREAT on fish tacos
3) On a sandwich (daughter Sarah’s fiancé, Kyle, put it on a turkey, cheese, and ham salad combo sandwich). Sounds incredibly weird, but delicious!
Besides being delicious, this salad keeps in the refrigerator for several days. In fact it just keeps getting better and better.
REFRIGERATOR CROCK SALAD
1 head green cabbage
2 green sweet bell peppers
2 red or orange sweet bell peppers
2 teaspoons celery seed
2 cups white cider vinegar
2.5 cups sugar
Shred cabbage, peppers, carrots, onions in a large bowl. Soak in salt water for 2 hours. Drain well.
In a separate bowl, combine the vinegar and the sugar. Pour over shredded ingredients and refrigerate. Let sit for a minimum of 3-4 hours before serving.