Monday, July 30, 2012

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken

Mmmm, butter chicken.

I originally found this recipe on Next time I'll let it slow cook longer, or may be cut up the pieces of chicken smaller (bite-sized should work well). The chicken wasn't too flavorful inside, but once I broke it apart with some naan and let the delicious sauce work its way in, dinner was gooood :)

Slow Cooker Indian Butter Chicken
adapted from
1.5 lbs chicken tenderloins, cut into bite sized pieces
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
One medium diced onion
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tsp curry powder
2 tsp tandoori masala
One tsp garam masala spice mix
One Tbsp curry paste
6 ounces pureed tomatoes 
15 green cardamom pods
13.5 oz  coconut milk
7 oz yogurt
Salt to taste
Cilantro (optional)

1. Combine the butter and vegetable oil together in a large frying pan or wok and heat until the butter has melted. 
2. Add the chicken, onion, and garlic, and cook on medium heat for around ten to twelve minutes, stirring constantly.
3. Add the curry powder, curry paste, tandoori masala, garam masala, and tomatoes and stir to combine.
Pour the mixture into the slow cooker.

4. Lightly crack the cardamom pods with the back of a knife or a light pinch between the fingers. To make their removal easier, you can add them into the slow cooker in a cheesecloth bundle. 
5. Add coconut milk, yogurt, and salt to taste, along with the cardamom pods. 
6. Cook on the low setting for 5-6 hours. Remove cardamom pods and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Delicious served with naan and yogurt! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Quick & Easy Tornado In A Jar

I needed a quick activity to distract the girls after a fight broke out over princesses and castles (as most fights do), so I pulled up a DIY tornado in a jar from Pinterest. My original link didn't open up, so I googled it and found this recipe for it - we made our tornado pink, as all things should be:

Tornado In A Jar (from

1 Glass Jar
1 tsp dish soap
1 tsp vinegar
butter knife
food coloring (optional)

Fill jar 3/4 with water. Add dish soap and then vinegar. Add food coloring. Stir rapidly with butter knife, and then pull out - your tornado should appear!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Chicken Seekh Kebabs

I've finally resigned myself to the fact that my entire family prefers Pakistani/Indian cooking over all else. Resigned, because ever since I got interested in cooking, that's the one cuisine I never really bothered with - I always watched my mom cook, and she never followed recipes (I NEED a recipe), and part of me also believed (believes) that I'll always compare my dishes to hers and find mine lacking! My husband has always wanted me to try Pakistani dishes, but I've always resisted, until recently - maybe it's because of Pinterest, but I know feel ready to conquer all things! I had actually found this recipe about a year ago, and tucked it away for future use. Huge. Hit. I made it last Wednesday, and my husband asked if I could make a double batch asap! My 2-year-old loved it too, so I'm sold. My picky preschooler ended up eating naan and yogurt, surprise surprise . . .

All in all, with a food processor on hand, this was a fairly easy dish to put together. The kebabs turned out very tender and flavorful!:

Chicken Seekh Kebabs
Adapted from

1 lb ground chicken
2 small onions
4 cloves of garlic
small piece of ginger (or 1 tsp minced ginger)
1/2 bunch of cilantro
1 large egg
1/2 c breadcrumbs
1/8 tsp cinnamon powder
1/4 tsp each of garam masala
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp cardamon powder 
1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
1/2 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp cumin powder 
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
 1/2 tsp lime juice
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional, depending on your spice level)
1 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil (I use Smart Balance)

1. Put onions garlic, ginger and cilantro in food processor, process until well minced. Add chicken and process again until the entire mixture is pasty. 
2. Add breadcrumbs, spices, and eggs and mix well. Put in refrigerator for at least 30 mins. 
3. Using metal skewers, form the kebabs around the skewers. They'll be soft, so won't necessarily keep their form unless you're holding them. Slide them off and put in a long dish. 
4. Heat vegetable oil in a grill pan, and fry up the kebabs in batches. Takes about 15 mins for each pan of kebabs. 

I served these with mint chutney, naan, and yogurt. 

**These spices can be found in most grocery stores. The original recipe calls for 3/4 tsp amchoor (dry mango) powder, for which I subbed the lime juice, and 1/2 tsp black salt/kala namak. I've made the recipe with those original ingredients, and it's delicious either way! When using the black salt, I leave out the regular salt. 

Friday, July 20, 2012

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

These are GOOD! Easy, perfectly cooked, crisp, delicious. I have another parmesan potatoes recipe I'd been using, but bits of it always burned - not with this one! We've had this twice in the past week, and both times they roasted perfectly! This is another recipe I originally found on Pinterest, and the original post is at

Parmesan Roasted Potatoes

4 medium potatoes scrubbed and diced*
3 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tsp paprika
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

2. In a large ziploc bag, combine all ingredients except the potatoes. Shake to mix, then add in the diced potatoes, and shake, shake, shake until they're well coated.

3. Empty and arrange potatoes in a single layer on a greased baking sheet.

4. Bake for 30-40 minutes, stirring once in the middle. Serve warm.

*I use small golden potatoes, like Dutch gold or small Yukon potatoes, and cut them in quarters, or smaller - they cook up fantastic!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Dinosaur Day! Preschool Learning Activities

We're usually drowning in princesses, so it's a wonderful thing that my 4-year-old has been increasingly interested in dinosaurs. Still, she resisted Dino Day as soon as she heard about it, until I promised a jam-packed day o' fun:

It was easier to find dinosaur-related preschool activities on-line than it had been for our Doc McStuffins Day, so I printed off several types of learning printables. There are a ton of sites that pop up when you search for dinosaur preschool pack, but here are a few I looked at (I pick and choose which pages to download based on my 4-year-old's individual interests, and what she needs to work on):

Lani completed those while I prepped for our other activities. My original plan had been a fossil dig in the backyard - I bought a bunch of plastic dinosaurs (I think skeletons would be a little creepy for my little one), but, in the midst of a particularly sweltering hot Florida summer day, couldn't bring myself to try to find enough dirt patches in our yard to dig up and bury them in. In the end, I made a makeshift sandbox from a under-the-bed storage box and a pack of sand I had ordered in anticipation of the real sandbox we may eventually get. The dinos got thrown into the box of sand, and that box was one big hit! They spent a substantial amount of time sifting through the box, squishing their toes in it, trying to pour out the sand, etc., etc. We followed it up with some non-themed time in the sprinkler to wash off all that sand! I had also frozen some dinos in blocks of ice overnight, along with a few other toys, and let them play with "excavating" them from the ice. That got old fast, since my two are not particularly patient!  

Next up was a dinosaur snack that I had gotten the idea for from Pinterest. I think the pinner had named it "Pteradactyl Park", but there was only a photo uploaded, no link for me to give out. Using that as inspiration, I used a piece of styrofoam, covered it with plastic wrap (to keep the "sand" still edible), and laid crushed graham cracker crumbs along the bottom. I then planted wooden skewers of fruit into the styrofoam, and decorated the whole thing with some of the excavated dinosaurs. The girls LOVED it, and ate the fruit faster than I've ever seen them eat fruit before!

Our final activity was a playdough volcano. I told Lani about some of the theories of dinosaur extinction, including an Ice Age and volcanos, but she was waaaay more interested in seeing how the volcano was goin to play out. We didn't have nearly as much playdough as we needed to make the whole volcano (this took place before I discovered how ridiculously easy it is to make large batches of playdough at home), but this was by far the biggest hit of a pretty popular day! This is the site from which I got the instructions:

Their volcano is *much* prettier than mine, but I'm pretty sure it didn't matter . . . anything that can keep a 4-year-old entertained for over an hour is gold on a tray!
All in all, this day was a huge success. I've tried to have some other themed learning in the meantime, but I've found that when I stretch activities/themes out over a week, the end result isn't as exciting. I think one jam-packed day (maybe two) a week, is best. The rest of the days are filled with splash pads, beach days, and everything else that summer should be about!