Garam Masala Crusted Chicken with Saag Aloo

photo (1)

When I think of Indian food I think color, flavor and comfort. I introduced my <then> picky husband to Indian food when we first got married and he can’t get enough! We now have curry at least three times a month. Indian food has complex flavors but the dishes are usually so easy to execute – just my kind of cooking! I am a sucker for a good whole roasted chicken so when I found this recipe on Food & Wine, I just had to try it. Of course, I switched it up a bit (I can’t help but do that to every recipe!) The original recipe calls for some kind of fig jus which I didn’t fancy, and that would have made it a much more expensive dish. I added a few steps/ingredients as well.

Obviously one can’t just have chicken for dinner (although this chicken is so delicious I’m starting to doubt that fact), so I wanted to come up with a simple side- one that I already had all the ingredients for. Saag Aloo is a DELICIOUS Indian side dish that could really go with anything. The smells floating through my house yesterday….sorry that I can’t share them with you on the internet! Maybe one day…!

One thing I ABSOLUTELY LOVED about this meal was that I only actually purchased ONE THING – the chicken. Everything else are staples in my kitchen (onion, garlic, spices, spinach etc). You just can’t beat delicious, easy and cheap!

I’m going to list these two dishes separately, because you really don’t have to have the two together.

Garam Masala Crusted Chicken  A yummy, roasted chicken that is bursting with flavor, tenderness and juiciness. 

Garam Masala

1 whole chicken (mine was about 4 1/2 lbs, and even though we’re on a budget we don’t scrimp on chicken – make sure it’s good quality!)

3 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup garam masala (I buy my spice mixes from the farmer’s markets here in the summer. You could try getting them online also, or click here for a simple recipe to make your own – I don’t know if it’s any good but worth a try!)

Salt, Pepper

1 tsp chili powder

1/2 an onion, in big chunks

5 whole cloves garlic, peeled

– Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl mix the oil, garam masala, chili powder and some salt & pepper. In a roasting pan, massage the oil/spice mixture over the top of the chicken, making sure to cover the skin completely. This makes the skin beautifully crispy and flavorful. Stuff the chicken with the chunks of onion and the cloves of garlic. I really think that this step makes a big difference in the juiciness of the chicken, and while the flavor is not particularly garlicky or oniony – it adds a little something. 

Roast the chicken at 45o degrees for 15 minutes, then lower the temperature to 350 degrees and roast for another hour or so until the chicken is cooked. If the skin’s not crispy yet, increase the temperature back up to 45o and roast until crispy. Take it out and let rest for a good 10-15 minutes, then carve it up!

Saag Aloo (Indian Spinach & Potatoes)  The perfect healthy side (you could even use sweet potatoes or cauliflower as my Paleo-eating friend Mande suggested)

Saag Aloo

6 or so potatoes, peeled and quartered

Olive oil

1/2 an onion, sliced into thin, long slices

Fresh garlic, chopped (I used 2 or 3 cloves)

Salt, Pepper

About 3 tbsp Curry powder

About 2 tsp Chili powder

About 1 tsp Ground Coriander seeds

About 1 tsp cumin

About 1 tbsp tomato paste

A little water, if needed

3 or 4 big handfuls fresh spinach

– Boil the potatoes in a pot of water until cooked. Meanwhile, sautee the onion and garlic in olive oil until soft. Add all your spices (I really eyeballed these and tasted as I went along), the tomato paste, salt & pepper, and a splash or two of water if necessary. The idea is to create a thick(ish) paste of spices around the onions/garlic but if it’s sticking to the bottom of the pan or it just looks too thick, go ahead and add a tiny bit of water to loosen everything up. Add your potatoes, and cover them with the onion/garlic/spice mixture for a few minutes. 

Put a lid on your skillet, and throw it in the oven (I did this part while my chicken was resting, see end of recipe above) to roast for about 10 minutes. After 10 minutes take the skillet back out (be super careful – don’t forget that the handle will be red hot!), throw some ripped up spinach in there, wilt it gently – and you’re done! Serve and enjoy!

Advertisements
Garam Masala Crusted Chicken with Saag Aloo

CrockPot Chicken Parmesan Soup

This is a healthy, warm, comforting dish packed with flavor! Both Chris and I loved this, and loved how it made our house smell throughout the day! The recipe originally came from Foxes Love Lemons, and I made a few modifications…

ChickenParmesan

1/2 lb boneless chicken breasts (I threw mine in frozen and they turned out beautifully)

28oz can crushed tomatoes in Italian seasoning (or you can add your own Italian seasoning if you’d prefer)

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

4 cloves fresh garlic, minced (I just crushed mine with a knife and finely chopped it)

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 white onion, chopped

1/2 cup fresh parmesan cheese, grated

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (to your taste, it can be more or less than that or you can leave it out altogether!)

salt and pepper to taste

1 small bay leaf

4-6 oz penne pasta, cooked

fresh spinach

a squeeze of lemon juice

more grated parmesan cheese to serve

 

– In your CrockPot put the chicken, tomatoes, bell pepper, garlic, chicken broth, onion, 1/2 cup parmesan, red pepper flakes, salt and pepper and the bay leaf. Stir and cook on low for about 7 hours. 

About 15 minutes before serving, take out the chicken and roughly shred it. Chris likes big chunks of meat so I really didn’t have to do a lot of shredding! Then discard the bay leaf, adjust your seasonings, throw in the spinach (I roughly tore mine up), pasta, and stir. 

For most of my CrockPot recipes, I like to add a very small squeeze of lemon juice at the end to brighten up the flavors since they’ve been brewing for so long. This doesn’t make the dish taste like lemon, but it makes all the difference in the world in making it taste fresh and healthy! Serve with some more grated parmesan on top and enjoy!

 

CrockPot Chicken Parmesan Soup

Baby Led Weaning – Some Easy Introductory Snacks

Here are two snack items that we’ve been giving to Eleni recently, that I absolutely love. They actually taste so good that we munch on them together while I’m cooking dinner or cleaning the house!

Plums Little Yums Organic Teething Wafers – I usually break these in half length-ways (because more often than not after a few little nibbles they end up on the floor anyway)  and they come in two flavors: Pumpkin & Banana, and Spinach, Apple & Kale. These are made with organic rice flour, buckwheat and real fruits/veggies (see image below for full ingredients list and nutritional info) and they dissolve really quickly in babies’ mouths.

Gerber Lil’ Crunchies Organic White Cheddar Puffs – I just bought these a few days ago when I saw them at the grocery store. I actually love the flavor of these things, and they seem to dissolve very easily. Eleni also loves these, although the first time she tried to swallow one after chewing on it for a while, she gagged up a storm and scared the life out of me! Apparently though gagging is quite normal with BLW as the babies learn to chew and swallow and get used to something other than liquid going down their throats!

Baby Led Weaning – Some Easy Introductory Snacks

Baby Led Weaning – Our Journey So Far

When Eleni was about 5 months old, we decided to try a little bit of baby oatmeal cereal mixed in with breast milk. She wasn’t super keen. We weren’t discouraged, didn’t put pressure on her, and were definitely content with her only eating breast milk (to be honest we still are.) Our motto with Eleni’s eating is “If it’s before age one, it’s just for fun!” This has helped to keep the pressure off, and made our food journey with her less stressful and more playful.

Since the oatmeal cereal we’ve been playing around with different purees and mashed up foods but the child simply won’t be spoon-fed! She does not want it. She will clamp her mouth shut and you cannot open it! Again, we have not made this a stressful thing for us or her – I want her to enjoy food as much as I do. At this age of her life when she really doesn’t need fruit and veggie purees, I’m not going to force it.

One thing I was surprised by however was how much she absolutely loves chewing on raw baby carrots (under very close supervision of course). Not only does it feel amazing on her gums, she seems to really like the taste. I really think that she loves the independence of being able to feed herself too. This weekend as I was watching her chew away on a little carrot and then occasionally pick up one of her wafers to gnaw on I was reminded of something I had seen during my research when I was pregnant – Baby Led Weaning. (SIDE NOTE: ‘Weaning’ has a different meaning/connotation in America than it does in other parts of the world. When I talk about ‘weaning’ I am not referring to taking Eleni off of breast milk and encouraging her onto foods completely. I am talking about simply ‘adding complementary foods’ to what she’s already consuming)

EleniEggs

The general concept is to allow the baby to feed herself right from the start of the weaning process. It encourages them to develop healthy portion control habits, a healthy appetite for most foods, but also the ability to distinguish between their likes and dislikes. With pureed foods babies learn to swallow first, and then they learn how to chew later on. With Baby Led Weaning (BLW from now on) babies learn to chew and then swallow – helping them to eat safely and causing less of a disruption later on when inevitably you have to introduce your child to ‘real’ food. Very often at this stage, when breast milk (or formula, if that’s what you’re using) is still the number one source of nutrition the baby will just chew on her food and learn about textures and tastes, not even swallowing anything until she’s ready – which could take a little while! This is the stage that Eleni is in. We’re introducing the idea of feeding herself (which she loves) and she’s learning how to use her gums and her two little teeth, even though she is not really swallowing any of it. By starting her on this journey now, it really doesn’t matter whether she swallows her food or not because her main (and at the moment, her only) source of nutrition is from my milk. So the pressure is off, there is no stress or coercing her trying to get her to eat – we’re just having fun!

EleniNaan

What about choking???!!! This was really my husband’s number one concern when I approached him with this idea. And he was totally right to be worried about that – we need to constantly be checking and rechecking to make sure we’re doing the right thing for our baby! So I did a little more research, and what I found makes a world of sense. I’ve already talked about the process of babies learning to chew first and then swallow with BLW, and as with anything in life – use your common sense! It is so important to make sure that the food you’re giving your baby is not something she is likely to choke on easily and that when you give food to your baby you don’t just walk away – you need to watch her at all times because accidents do happen. Many reliable websites that I’ve looked at insist that babies are actually less likely to choke with the BLW approach because they have control over what they’re putting in their mouths and how far back it goes. As long as your baby is sitting upright while eating and is monitored closely, the risk of choking is very minimal.

So far Eleni has had hard boiled eggs (I don’t really want to get into the whole ‘allergy’ thing right now), a crust of Naan bread and a strawberry, on top of chewing on baby carrots and some organic spinach/kale/apple wafers. I am excited to keep introducing her to new foods, and to watch her love of food develop over the years. If you’re interested in taking this approach with your baby, feel free to comment on this post – I would love to answer any questions that I can and provide support!

1975002_10151931599306080_1711135152_n

Some helpful links that I found:Baby Led WeaningNourished Kitchen, Momtastic’s Wholesome Baby Food, Baby Center 

Baby Led Weaning – Our Journey So Far

Sunday Evening Thoughts

The word of the Lord stands forever. God’s word is perfect, pure, true and everlasting. His promises are sure, reliable, steadfast and durable. Everything that He speaks comes to pass. Everything that He says has life, eternally. His word is alive. His word is guidance, comfort, assurance, and truth in a world of uncertainty, pain, confusion and deception. For all my disobedience, His word assures me of the grace I have found. For all my fears, His word assures me of the safety and protection that surrounds me. For all my loneliness, His word assures me of the everlasting presence of the Holy Spirit – the only company actually worth having. God is my shepherd, and His word stands forever.

Sunday Evening Thoughts