On Warm Bellies on a Snow Day (Chicken Tikka Masala Recipe)

My kids are picky.
I mean seriously picky.
A lot has to do with sensory processing issues, and the rest from sheer stubbornness I think.   I really don’t understand it at all because as a kid I lived to try new foods.  My brother and I would beg for octopus or artichokes.  Things that I really didn’t know other kids didn’t want too.
One thing my picky kids do like is Indian Food.   (Go figure.)  I guess the vegetables are sometimes so well hidden or changed with spices that they forget they are there?
Anyway, we have had a long weekend compounded with a snow day and we were all bored of the same old food, so I decided to make Chicken Tikka Masala for lunch yesterday.
FYI, after a bit of research I realized that Indian Butter Chicken and Chicken Tikka Masala are actually the same thing, just in Butter Chicken the meat is usually left over and cut into cubes!  

I came up with this recipe.  I made it a bit on the un-spicy side because I wanted the younger three to enjoy it.  (Also left out onions which most recipes have.) I love Penzey’s spices and order most of my spices from them online.  Their Tandoori Spice worked really well in this dish because it had much of what I wanted and nothing extra: coriander, cumin, sweet paprika, garlic, ginger, cardomom, and saffron.  *FOR A VEGETARIAN OPTION YOU COULD USE ROASTED POTATOES, SQUASH, OR CAULIFLOWER INSTEAD OF THE CHICKEN.

bottle of Penzey's Tandoori Seasoning
*And no I’m not sponsored by Penzey’s, but would love to be! 🙂
                  This is what I call “Chicken Quickka Tikka Masala.”
Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala

My version of Chicken Tikka Masala and/or Indian Butter Chicken.

  • 3 lbs boneless chicken cut into cubes (I like thigh meat but breast is good too!)


  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I like Fage Greek Yogurt)
  • Sea Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 clove garlic (chopped and pressed)
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Penzey's Tandoori Seasoning


  • 2 Tablespoons oil
  • 4 Tablespoons Penzey's Tandoori Seasoning ((more or less to taste))
  • 2 teaspoons Paprika (good quality)
  • 4 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 16 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream ((Can substitute with coconut cream))
  • Kosher Sea Salt
  • Pepper


  • fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Plain yogurt
  1. Put cut meat into marinade and let sit overnight in refrigerator or at least while you cook the sauce and make the naan.

To make the sauce:

  1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium heat and add the spices.

  2. Cook a minute or two until fragrant, then add 1 cup of water and tomato paste, stirring until well blended.

  3. Add chopped tomatoes and about a cup more water.

  4. Take off the heat and carefully puree in the blender.

  5. Put back in saucepan and simmer while meat cooks.

  6. When meat is almost done add cream, butter, and salt & pepper to sauce and stir and simmer until time to add the meat. (See meat instructions below.)


  1. In a hot cast iron skillet with 2 Tablespoons of oil cook marinated meat over medium high heat.

  2. Stir frequently and cook until meat is thoroughly cooked.

  3. Place cooked meat in finished sauce and garnish with fresh cilantro and a dollop of yogurt.

  4. Serve with basmati rice and fresh naan!

It was really easy and turned out great!  And best of all… EVERYONE ate it! *I don’t have a “go to” naan recipe yet.  I just googled “naan” and made one.  I’ll try and get a good one and post it later!

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo with White Rice on the Food Network

I made this recipe last night with some okra and peppers from my mom’s garden.
*The recipe doesn’t call for okra, but I like it and had it. Also I am allergic to celery and left
that out.   The sausage I used was a turkey andouille.  I short-cutted and used a rotisserie chicken to save a bit of time. Was delicious!
Sorry, no picture…

Chicken and Smoked Sausage Gumbo with White Rice on the Food Network

My first attempt at gumbo and not the last!

Homemade Marinara

Some good friends of mine have a tomato farm and raise phenomenal heirloom tomatoes.  
They were cleaning out their hothouses and gave me some of the spoils…
I peeled and seeded the tomatoes last night and made some homemade marinara sauce.

To peel tomatoes:
  1. Bring a big pot of water to a boil
  2. Have a bowl of ice water handy.
  3. Drop tomatoes in boiling water for about 10 seconds, then plunge in the ice water. 
  4. Take core out with paring knife and then slip off skins.  
  5. Slice tomatoes in half and squeeze out seeds (or just slide them out with your finger, I don’t mind some seeds.

For Sauce:

  1. Slice a few onions very thin.  (I used two onions for the amount of tomatoes I had, maybe 15 lbs?)
  2. Sautee onions and garlic (I used 5 cloves) in olive oil until translucent. 
  3. Add chopped fresh basil, oregano, pepper, bayleaf (whatever spices you will use.)
  4. Chop tomatoes in blender or food processor and add to pot.  I save some and chop them to add texture. 
  5. Cook and add red wine, salt, pepper to taste.

*Mine was still runny after cooking last night so I think I’ll let it cook down more today and then taste again for spices.
Will be good on some homemade pasta!

Ready for Rigatoni?

Emily Making Rigatoni with Our New Pasta Machine!

Raw Rigatoni!

Ready for Sauce! 
Homemade Pasta
This is supposed to make 6 servings, but I tripled it for my family and ended up with leftovers.  
I could have doubled it and we’d have been fine. 

1 lb. (16 oz) of flour
4 eggs
Put flour in bowl and make a well.
Add eggs to well and with a fork mix and stir as much as possible.  
Using hands mix and knead dough until smooth and pliable.  Dough should NOT be sticky.  If it is too dry add a bit of water.  If it’s too wet add more flour.  Again, you don’t want it sticky or it will be a pain to work with (especially if you are using a pasta machine.)  I’d gotten this one at Williams & Sonoma today with a gift certificate I’d gotten awhile back.  It was down to $20 from $80 and makes 
Rigatoni, 2 sizes of macaroni, Fusilli, and Bucatini (hollow spaghetti type pasta!) 
It worked great.  I have a normal pasta maker I use mainly for making fondant bows for wedding cakes, that we also use for fettucinni and making pasta for ravioli or lasagna.

Sopa de Limón

This is my quickie version of Sopa de Limón, a yummy chicken soup from the Yucatan peninsula.  We had some in Cobá, Mexico while watching Mexico play in the World Cup a few years ago.   An awesome family memory and a feel-good kind of soup for what ails ya…

Us in Cobá
Sopa de Limón
  1. Saute half an onion (chopped) and some garlic cloves til transparent.  Throw in some chicken (any parts or amount you want,) salt, pepper and I like a packet of Sazón by Goya to add flavor.   Add water to cover chicken by about 2 inches.  Add 1 lime that has been cut in two.  Boil until chicken is cooked.   *I had leftover broth and chicken from when I made the enchiladas which I froze and brought out for this purpose. 
  2. Let cool til you can chop or shred the chicken.  Put chicken back in broth and add more water and a few bouillon cubes if you need more broth (I like Knorr vegetable cubes but they are becoming increasingly harder to find here.)  I also added some chopped cilantro.   Add whatever else you want to now.  (I put in some cooked brown rice that I had leftover in the fridge and some chopped zucchini.)   Let simmer until you are ready to eat. 
  3. On serving I like to put things in little ramekins to add as people like. A bowl of halved or quartered limes, chopped cilantro, black beans, pico de gallo…

I served it with some homemade quick bread I made using my pizza recipe (1 1/2 times the recipe) plus added a bit more yeast and some fresh oregano.