Sunday, September 29, 2013

Experiment #42: Curry Chicken

A lost recipe from July 31st, 2012:

I have been feeling like having some curry chicken recently and so I went onto my family's website and checked out my Aunt's recipe for her curry chicken.  She has made it on several family gatherings and it is delicious!

One thing of note is that my family, i.e. my mom, aunt's and grandmother swear by this particular brand of curry powder.  Sun Brand Madras Curry powder.  It is the best curry powder they say so, I was happy to purchase some and have that on hand to make this curry chicken.

Photo of the Curry Powder tin:

I modified my Aunt's recipe a bit when I made it and did more measuring, since measurements are not written into her recipe.

She uses red and green bell peppers, and I am not especially fond of green bell peppers so I used orange and yellow this time, although I've made this curry recipe with red and yellow.  Any combination of red, yellow, and orange is fine.  My Aunt uses chicken base, and I replaced it with chicken broth.  She adds potatoes, and I omitted them.  She also uses chicken wings in her recipe, but my husband is not too fond of those so I used boneless skinless chicken thighs.   I mixed up the method of cooking a bit so that everything cooks in one pan.  Less mess, less time and hopefully still delicious.

Chicken Curry adapted from my Aunt's recipe.  I'm not sure where she got the recipe from.
vegetable oil (I use sunflower or peanut oil)
1 Yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced fine
2 tbsp. Sun Brand Madras Curry powder
1 1/2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken thighs, cut into rough 1 inch cube like pieces (bite sized pieces)
2 Bell peppers, diced (I used orange and yellow this time, but red bell peppers are nice as well.)
2 cups chicken broth
1 teaspoon cornstarch
Kosher Salt, to taste

In a pan or wok, heat vegetable oil over medium heat.  Add diced onion, and garlic and sauté until softened.  Add curry powder and mix with onions and garlic until the curry powder is fragrant.

Add cubed chicken and sauté until the chicken is browned on all sides.  Add diced bell peppers and chicken broth.  Cover and simmer curry until chicken is cooked through.

In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 2 teaspoons cold water.  Add cornstarch mixture to curry and cook until the liquid boils and thickens to desired consistency.

Serve over hot cooked rice!

The results:
The curry chicken turned out very good.  I would definitely make this again and again.  The family loved it.

Lost recipes

You might have noticed that I am missing some experiments.  Well, I am backlogged on recipes and I do have the recipes with my notes.  They are just not typed up in a readable fashion. I will get to writing them soon. I promise. :)

Experiment #50: Pumpkin Muffins

When the weather turns from summer to fall and there is a slight crisp chill to the air, I think of 2 things: pumpkins and apples.  Seasonal pumpkin baking for me usually consists of pumpkin bread and pumpkin pie, but today I felt like making pumpkin muffins.

Last year, I picked up a copy of Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking Magazine 2012.  It is filled with delightful photos and appetizing recipes for almost everything you could possibly want for your Fall Baking.  Apparently it was exactly like Fall Baking 2011 so if you have that then you would have the same recipes.

Last year, I made the Pumpkin Bars with modifications.  My notes from last year indicated a replacement of half the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour, a reduction of the sugar to 6 tablespoons, replacing half of the oil with applesauce and an addition of water.

From what I remember when I made these pumpkin bars last year was that I added too much water to the batter, and the pumpkin bars were very tall, because I didn't have the 15X10X1-inch baking pan they called for in the recipe.  I just had a 11X13X2 inch baking pan.

So, I reduced the water and I didn't have the baking pan issue since I decided to make muffins today.

Pumpkin Muffins adapted from Pumpkin Bars from Better Homes and Gardens Fall Baking 2012
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white whole wheat flour
6 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
4 eggs
1 15-ounce can pumpkin (plain, not seasoned or sweetened)
1/2 cup sunflower oil
1/2 cup applesauce
2 tablespoons water

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Place cupcake liners in a standard 12-cup muffin pan.  (This recipe makes 19 muffins, so if you have 2 muffin tins you can place 7 more liners in the second muffin pan.)

In a large bowl, stir together the flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon and cloves.

In a smaller bowl, combine eggs, pumpkin, oil, applesauce and water.

Pour wet ingredients (pumpkin, etc.) into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Remove to a cooling rack and enjoy.

These muffins are delicious warm or at room temperature.

The Results:
The muffins came out perfect!  Lightly spiced and perfectly pumpkin!

I would definitely make these again! I might try a variation on this recipe later, with additions of chopped pecans or dried cranberries.

Update: This recipe makes 48 mini muffins if you prefer. Check the muffins around 15 minutes. 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Experiment #49: Maple Pecan Muffins

I was looking for some new breakfast foods to feed the family and I found what looked to be a quick muffin recipe from Nigella Lawson's Feast.

Of course I have to make my usual adjustments.  I replaced half of the all purpose flour with white whole wheat flour for more fiber.  I thought 4 teaspoons of baking powder looked like way too much baking powder, so I cut it in half.  I looked at other recipes and 2 teaspoons seemed to be a more reasonable amount of baking powder.  I reduced the maple syrup in half.  I also replaced half the oil with applesauce.  Don't ask me why this works, but it does!  In other recipes that I replaced some of the all purpose flour with whole wheat flour. I have found the batter is often too dense when I do this substitution and I figured out that an addition of water really helps the batter become more manageable, so I added water to the recipe.

Maple Pecan Muffins adapted from Nigella Lawson's Feast
1 cup whole pecans
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup wheat germ
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch of kosher salt
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup sunflower oil
1/4 cup applesauce
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/4 cup water

Preheat oven to 400F.  Fill a 12-cup muffin tray with paper liners.

Roughly chop pecans and reserve 1/4 cup for topping.

Mix together the remaining pecans with the flours, salt, wheat germ, and baking powder.

In another bowl, whisk together milk, maple syrup, oil, applesauce, egg, vanilla, and water.

Pour the liquids into the dry mixture and gently fold to mix.  The batter can have some lumps.   Do not overmix, because these muffins can get tough. Spoon the batter into muffin cups.

Chop the reserved pecans more finely and top the batter.

Bake for 20 minutes or until a tester comes out clean.  I would check around 16 minutes and see how they are looking.  The nuts will turn golden, but the muffins will be somewhat pale.  Remove muffins to a cooling rack.

The results: 
These muffins were amazing!  Easy and delicious.  My little one went crazy for them and shoved a quarter of a muffin in his mouth.  Impressive for a 15 month old! He ate it up and so did my husband and I.  I would definitely make these again.

I did think that maybe I should have done the original topping which was mixing in a tablespoon of brown sugar with the finely chopped pecans and topping the muffin.  The muffins were barely sweet.  It might have been nice to have a bit more sweetness.

Link to the book:
Nigella Lawson's Feast

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Experiment #48: Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins

Recently my challenge has been to make breakfast in the wee hours of the morning for my little one.  He's been waking up at 6am pretty consistently.  Sigh...

Anyway, it has been difficult in my groggy state to make a good breakfast for my 15 month old, so I have been searching high and low, internet and my cookbooks for an easy recipe for breakfast.

I stumbled upon this Real Simple Recipe for Whole Grain Blueberry Muffins.  I really appreciate that when it says whole grain, the recipe really is whole grain and not partially whole grain.

I read the reviews and some people said that they did not process the oatmeal, so I didn't in an attempt to make this recipe easier and I chopped the pecans by hand and not in a food processor.

Of course, I still had my adjustments.  I reduced the sugar.  I used nonfat plain yogurt (the original recipe calls for lowfat), because that is what I had on hand.  I replaced the butter with oil to reduce the saturated fat in the recipe.

Unfortunately, I didn't have enough blueberries for the recipe, but I went ahead and made this recipe.  The recipe has 2 cups of fresh blueberries or 8 oz. of frozen blueberries and I didn't have any backup blueberries in my freezer.  I figured out too late... the morning of baking.  Ahh...

I did measure the dry ingredients in a bowl and left it on the counter covered and mixed the wet ingredients in a liquid measuring cup and placed it in the refrigerator the night before and then mixed the rest in the morning.

Whole grain blueberry muffins adapted from a Real Simple Recipe
1 1/4 cups whole wheat flour, spooned and leveled
1 cup old fashioned rolled oats
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/4 cup pecans, chopped
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain nonfat yogurt
3 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups fresh blueberries (the original recipe)

Preheat the oven to 375 F.  Line a standar 12-cup muffin tin with paper liners.  In a bowl, mix together the flour, oats, flaxseed meal, pecans, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

In large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, oil, orange zest, orange juice, egg, and vanilla.  Add the flour mixture and mix just until incorporated (do not overmix.) Fold in the blueberries.

Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.  Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 20 to 25 minutes.

The muffins were pretty good, but the best bites of them were the bites with blueberries.  They really add needed moisture in the muffins.

I found the muffin batter to be very very dense and the muffins neither spread or rose at all.  They pretty much looked the same as they went into the oven.

These muffins have potential and were delicious for a whole grain muffin with very little fat, but I felt there needs to be more tweaking to my recipe.

The oatmeal was dry in the muffins, because I didn't process them, and so next time I would place them in the milk and have it sit for 15 minutes so they are hydrated in the final muffin.  I learned this from a blueberry muffin recipe I made off the New York Times Web site.

I think I might have reduced the sugar too much and I would add a bit more next time.

I will definitely revisit this experiment in the future.

As a side note, the recipe says that the muffins will keep at room temperature for 3 days or in the freezer for 1 month.  Warm in the microwave for 1 to 2 minutes.

Link to the original recipe on Real Simple web-site: