New Favorite

Chicken Tikka Masala…Trader Joe’s Style

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.

Recipe adapted from thekitchn.com

Book Club · New Favorite

Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken

Our book club met at my home for our March review oDo Not Say We Have Nothing by Madeleine Thien. I must admit I did not care for the book and did not finish it. Others had the same difficulty, finding it complex and hard to follow, especially in the beginning. However, for those that finished the book, they thoroughly enjoyed it finding the Chinese Cultural Revolution to be similar to world experiences today.

Our potluck cuisine was Asian and my Asian recipe file is devoid of recipes.  I found this wonderful Slow Cooker Cashew Chicken recipe online and will definitely make it again and again.  Very flavorful and wonderful with rice and stir fry vegetables.

SLOW COOKER CASHEW CHICKEN

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch pieces
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
4 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 cup cashews

  • Combine cornstarch and pepper in resealable food storage bag. Add chicken and shake to coat with cornstarch.
  • Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Brown chicken about 2 minutes on each side. Place chicken in slow cooker. (Frankly, next time I make it I will skip this step)
  • Combine soy sauce, vinegar, ketchup, sweet chili sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, pepper flakes, and cashews in small bowl; pour over chicken. (Optional: If you like the cashews to be softer, you can add them during the cooking process.  If you like more crunch, add them right before serving.)
  • Cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours.
  • Service over rice. Optional: Garnish with chopped scallions.
  • Makes 4-6 servings.

Recipe slightly adapated from therecipecritic.com

Gluten Free · New Favorite

Crock Pot Chicken Cream Cheese Chile

Crock pot meals are the best…easy with so many options.  I love the Salsa chicken recipe that daughter, Megan, shared with me a while ago.  This recipe sounded very similar but with the addition of cream cheese.  YUM!

I used almost 2 pounds of chicken strips vs. the 2 chicken breasts called for.  It was delicious but in the future I would use about 1 pound of chicken for this recipe. Great over rice, in a burrito, over a baked potato…or invent your own combination!

CROCK POT CHICKEN CREAM CHEESE CHILE

2 chicken breasts, still frozen
1 can Rotel tomatoes
1 can corn kernels, do not drain
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 small can mild green chiles
1 pkg. Ranch dressing mix
1 T cumin
1 t chili powder
1 t onion powder
1 8-oz pkg. cream cheese

  • Put the chicken in the crock pot.
  • Top with the tomatoes, corn, the drained and rinsed beans, ranch dressing, cumin, onion and chile powders.
  • Stir to combine, then top with the cream cheese.
  • Cook on low for 6-8 hours, stirring one or twice to blend in the cheese.
  • Shred the chicken into large pieces and serve over rice. Can also serve in tortillas or taco shells.
Family · Family Favorites

Chicken Divine…a family fav!

Chicken Divine is a recipe I discovered in the ’90s.  I wish I could recall where the recipe originated but it had the elements that my young children liked: chicken, rice, broccoli and, of course, CHEESE!  I made, they liked, repeat.

To this day, it is still a favorite and the aroma of the baking chicken with rosemary is wonderful. I sincerely hope your family enjoys as much as ours does!

CHICKEN DIVINE

3 whole chicken breasts
rosemary to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 sliced onion
1 pound fresh or frozen broccoli
3/4 cup raw rice, cooked

CHEESE SAUCE:
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated, sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Sprinkle chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool. Skin, bone and slice.
  • Prepare the rice.
  • Cook broccoli in water with salt and onion. Drain.
  • Layer chicken, then broccoli, then rice in buttered casserole.
  • Prepare the cheese sauce:   Melt butter, add flour and stir until smooth. Cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheeses and seasonings. (I have often made 1 1/2 recipes of the sauce to put on top to make it even more moist.)
  • Pour cheese sauce over entire dish. Add more grated Parmesan on top if desired.
  • Bake uncovered for 30 minutes or until bubbly.

 

 

 

Family Favorites

Chicken Divine

Chicken Divine starts by roasting chicken breasts with savory rosemary making your mouth water, anticipating the great final dish to come.  This dish takes a while but you could easily bake the chicken breasts ahead of time.

I do not recall where I found this recipe but it’s been a family favorite for the past 20 years.  Pair Chicken Divine with a green salad, crusty bread and a nice glass of white wine.  Dinner is served!

CHICKEN DIVINE

3 whole chicken breasts
rosemary to taste
salt and pepper to taste
1 sliced onion
1 pound fresh or frozen broccoli
3/4 cup raw rice, cooked

CHEESE SAUCE:

1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup grated, sharp Cheddar Cheese
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

SAUCE:

  • Melt butter, add flour and stir until smooth. Cook 2 minutes. Gradually add milk, stirring constantly until thickened. Add cheeses and seasonings.

CASSEROLE:

  • Sprinkle chicken with rosemary, salt and pepper. Bake chicken at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool. Skin, bone and slice.
  • Cook broccoli in water with salt and onion. Drain.
  • Layer chicken, then broccoli, then rice in buttered casserole.
  • Pour cheese sauce over entire dish. Add more grated Parmesan on top if desired.

  • Bake uncovered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes or until bubbly.
Nicaragua

Hiking and a Picnic … Kicking back in Nicaragua

Our tummies were full from breakfast and we were off to another local coffee farm, followed by a wonderful picnic lunch at a local river.

Our ‘back of the pickup’ excursion to the picnic location

Our local transportation was either by foot or in the back of a pickup. I love the open air experience, reminding me of riding in the back of my Dad’s 1958 Chevy Pickup around the Iowa farm.

The final leg of our picnic excursion was by foot, across a pasture and down to the local river for swimming, bird-watching, and howler monkey scouting. The weather was sunny and gorgeous. Local cattle watched the gringos pass through their green pastures with a curious eye.

The final hike down to the river bed was shaded by a canopy of beautiful trees, bubbling waters and water falls.

River bed in Nicaragua
Waterfall at local Nicaragua river

We put down our packs, marveling at the tremendous work it took for our hosts and staff to coordinate and transport all of the fixings for our gourmet lunch by the river. While our lunch was being prepared, some of our group enjoyed soaking in the river while other settled in on the rock of choice enjoying the splendor of our surroundings.

After relaxing for a bit, lunch was served.  (I am yearning a ‘do over’ as I write this.) The grilled kabobs, rice, cabbage salad, Pico de Gallo, homemade tortillas, and juice were delicious. Everything tastes better when enjoyed in the outdoors!

kabobs, cabbage salad, tortillas and rice at our river picnic
Fresh Pico de Gallo

Again, our tummies were full and….what’s that noise. Howler monkeys! This was our first experience hearing and seeing them. My dinky point and shoot camera was up to the challenge to capture a silhouette of these funny creatures.

A rain storm was moving in and we got moving, too! A quick hike back to the truck for our ride back to Finca Esperanza Verde. Free time awaited us…what to do? Hike, siesta, read? Decisions, decisions!