Tikka Meatballs

This recipe is one that I have used several times without posting (oops).  We both love Indian food, but to really get that fantastic flavor with the meat, it needs to be stewed with spices, or marinated, and we usually don’t plan well enough for that.  That’s where the meatball can be a meal saver.  Just dump in some spices, mix it up, and bake, and in less than an hour, you have wonderfully seasoned meat ready for the curry of your choice.  I have made these with turkey, chicken and with a lamb and beef mixture, and they’re all wonderful.  In the images shown, I was making turkey meatballs for a tikka masala.


  • 2 lb ground meat (turkey, chicken, lamb or beef)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup curry paste*
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs (as needed for texture)
  • Juice of 1 lime (when using poultry)

*The specific curry pastes used will depend on what meat your making, and what the final destination curry will be.  For poultry, I like tandoori pastes:


We picked up both of these at the local Indian market, but the larger Kroger’s in our area also will carry some of the Patak’s products.  For red meat, I use a mixture of mild curry paste and a rogan josh paste, and omit the lime.


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients in a large bowl by hand, until well mixed, and the meat sticks to itself, rather than the sides of the bowl.

Portion into walnut sized balls, and place on greased sheet tray.


Bake for 30 minutes, flipping the meatballs over around the 20 minute mark. Remove from oven, and try not to eat them all before they can get into the tikka masala.


At this point, you can either toss them into your sauce, serve with grilled onion and pepper and naan for a lazy tikka or tandoori meal, or bag and freeze them for future curries.img_5405

Recently, we’ve been using recipes from The Curry Guy, and have been thoroughly pleased with the results (as can be seen in the tikka masala above).  The curry sauce base he recommends is a little time consuming initially, but absolutely worth making and freezing if you plan on making Indian at home regularly. Once you have the sauce base, assembling the curry is no more difficult than opening a jar of pre-made sauce and dumping that in the saucepan. I grabbed the e-book on Kindle, and it’s now our go-to curry cookbook.  It’s a particularly useful resource for folks like us, who have only really been exposed to restaurant style Indian, which is different than the regional Indian recipes and cookbooks we’ve tried.

Serve with rice, naan, chapati, or just a fork and a straw (we won’t judge).


Mushrooms on Toast

Several years ago, Chris and I would trawl youtube for the British episodes of Kitchen Nightmares (this was before the American version existed).  One of the restaurants featured was a cute little vegetarian cafe in Paris that had some major issues (obviously), but what really stuck out to us was the gorgeous mushrooms on toast that Gordon Ramsay (or his helper chef, I can’t remember at the moment) made.  It had huge, beautiful mushrooms on a generous piece of toasted brioche.  It looked like mushroomy joy on a plate. Since then, every once in a while we’ll remember that mushrooms on toast exist, and make some.   Because this was for dinner, I cooked a couple of eggs over medium (because runny yolk makes everything better), and added a little bit of Swiss cheese to the toasts.

Mushrooms on toast.

Mushrooms on toast. So much mushroom.

Ingredients (serves 2)

1 lb mushrooms, sliced (a mixture is good-we used some oyster, cremini and button mushrooms)

1 tbsp butter

2 shallots, diced

1 clove of garlic (or roasted garlic paste, if you have it)

1/2 cup white wine

1 tbsp chopped fresh herbs (I used thyme and chives, but parsley would be a nice addition as well)

1-2 tbsp heavy cream

4 slices of french bread, no more than 1″ thick (if you’re using a baguette, you’ll want 6 slices of bread)

2-3 slices of Swiss cheese (or gouda) (optional)

3-4 eggs, cooked as desired (optional)

Salt and pepper, to taste


Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium high heat and when it starts to brown, add your shallots. Sauté for a couple of minutes until those start to brown, then add your garlic and herbs.  Sauté another 30 seconds or so and dump in your mushrooms.  I recommend adding some salt at this point, and sauté until the mushrooms start to brown slightly and soften, another couple of minutes.  Add your white wine, stir, then lower the heat and cover for another 5-10 minutes.  When the mushrooms are cooked through, remove the lid and add your cream.  Bring back to a gentle simmer to reduce the sauce.  Adjust your seasoning, and if you want to, refresh your herbs.

For the toast, I recommend preparing them in the oven with the broiler. I lightly brushed one side with butter, toasted it, then flipped the bread over and put just enough Swiss cheese to cover the toast.  I put it back under the broiler until melted.

To serve, put the toasts on the plate, dump half of the mushroom mixture over it, then top with your eggs (if desired).  It makes a ridiculously quick and filling weeknight meal, and can be scaled very easily if you’re serving more people. It is also very flexible on the liquid used.  If you don’t have a bottle of white wine open, you could use your favorite stock (especially with a tablespoon or so of brandy).

Chili con carne (lazy weekday version)

This is something I intended to post a couple of weeks ago, but just didn’t get around to it (oops!).  As the title of the post implies, this is another fast evening meal that will give you a big bang for your buck.  We used it to top stacked enchiladas, and then topped that with an over medium egg, but you can go nuts. Put it in burritos, make tacos, put it on salad, ice a cake with it…ok, maybe the options aren’t endless, but you get the idea.

Hard to see, but it's under the egg!

Hard to see, but it’s under the egg!

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 lb ground beef (I used 90% lean-you’ll add some oil to it, but it will be easier to control the fat)

1 large white onion, finely minced

1 tsp garlic paste

2 tbsp canola (or more, as needed)

3 tbsp flour

1 can (10 oz or so) enchilada sauce

2 tbsp chili powder

1/2 tsp cumin powder

2 tbsp tomato paste

1 tbsp oregano

1 tsp thyme

Salt, pepper to taste


Brown beef in cast iron skillet over medium heat. If using lower fat beef, add some canola, then sauté onions.  Once onions are cooked, add more oil if needed, and make a roux with the flour.  Once the flour has toasted, add the enchilada sauce and about a can’s worth of water.  Add the garlic paste and additional seasonings and stir to combine.  Let it come up to a simmer, and add the tomato paste.  Stir to combine and adjust seasoning.  Use as desired.  The leftovers keep fantastically, if you have any.

Poblano peppers with shrimp and cheese

As the next addition to our continuing repertoire of Mexican dishes, I would like to present poblanos with shrimp and cheese. This is another one of those quick weeknight meals that gives you fantastic bang for your buck (both in terms of time and money).  It can be scaled easily, and is a great lower carb options for anyone who would like some Mexican without a zillion tortillas.

Poblano with shrimp, avocado and rice

A (slightly overfilled) poblano with shrimp, avocado and rice


Ingredients (makes 4 peppers)

4 poblano peppers, grilled, peeled and seeded

1 lb shrimp, raw, peeled and de-veined

1/2 jumbo onion, chopped

1 tbsp butter

1/2 cup crema

2/3 cup shredded cheese (we use the queso quesedilla from Kroger)

1 lime

Salt, pepper, garlic powder


Grill your poblanos, then place them in a plastic bag to steam.  Peel off the skins, and pull out the seeds and any light or white seed membrane that remains, but leave the stem intact if possible.  Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat. Saute onion until translucent and starting to turn slightly golden, and add the shrimp.  Continue to cook, several minutes until shrimp are almost done (when they are nearly entirely opaque). While the shrimp are cooking, add some salt and pepper, and 1/2 tsp garlic powder, or more to taste (oregano could be nice here too).  Add the juice of half to one lime (depending on how juicy your lime is), and stir in the crema and cheese.  Let cheese melt, and it should pull together into a lovely thick sauce within a few minutes.  Fill your poblanos with the shrimp mixture, and serve immediately.  This is really nice with rice and avocado (as you can see in the image).  If you’re nervous about pepper heat, by the times the poblanos are grilled and seeded, there is very little spicy zip is left, but it certainly could be made with a more mild type of pepper.  I would just recommend you try it once with poblano first.  It’s really hard to beat that smokey pepper flavor poblanos can get.




Rajas con crema (poblano in cream sauce)

This is a fantastic side dish that we first encountered at a really great local Mexican buffet. It’s not hot, even though it’s mostly peppers.  It doesn’t take much time, but it can be broken down into multiple steps and the peppers prepped in advance if it makes your evening a little easier.


5-6 poblano peppers

1 small or medium white or yellow onion, sliced

1/2 cup crema (more on this later)

1/2 cup milk

1/2 cup shredded white cheese (whatever Mexican style white cheese you have, or mozzarella or monterey jack)

Garlic powder, salt and pepper



Turn on your grill as hot as it will go. Grill off your poblano peppers until the skin is black and blistered (as seen below).

Grilled poblano

Mmmm… toasty

Once they’re done, either dump them in a zip-top bag, or a bowl with cling-wrap over the top.



While those steam for a few minutes, go ahead and put a skillet over medium heat.  Melt the butter and start sautéing your onions.

We need smell-o-vision.

We need smell-o-vision.

While those are breaking down, I would recommend grabbing some food-safe disposable gloves.  If you don’t have contacts, feel free to use your bare hands, but consider this a friendly warning.  Peel the skin off the poblanos (which should be much easier, because of the steaming action of the bag or wrap).  Seed the peppers until you have a nice pile of pepper flesh.



If you have a little skin that won’t come off of them, don’t stress about it.  You just want as much of it gone as is reasonably possible.  Slice those peppers into strips, then toss them in with the onions.

Mixing it up!

Mixing it up!

Let these sauté together for a few minutes until all of the veggies are soft, then add the milk, crema and cheese.  Now, a note on that crema-you could use standard sour cream. I imagine you could, at least.  I’ve never tried it, and that is because we have this.

OMG. Nom.

OMG. Nom.

This is from the nearby Mexican grocer, and is unbelievably tasty.  It is less solid than traditional American sour cream, more the consistency of a standard yogurt. It’s a little saltier than sour cream, and so great for this sauce.  We can find the green topped jar at our local Kroger, so see if you can find it, it’s really worth it!

Also nom.

Also nom.

Ok, now that your dairy is in, stir it in and season to taste.  I like a little bit of garlic powder, a good grind of pepper and salt to taste.



This may not look like much, but it is surprisingly tasty.  You get a great, slightly smoky poblano flavor that pairs really nicely with the moderately sweet onion and mildly salty sauce. If you’re pressed for time, you can grill of the peppers and peel, seed, and slice them in advance.  I bet you could even freeze batches of the peppers already sliced and ready to add to the onions, and make this a really fast, simple side dish.  Another note: this makes enough for two people with a ton of leftovers.  Save those leftovers, and the next morning, toss them into some scrambled eggs with a little bit of additional cheese. Serve with warm corn tortillas.

Nabeyaki Udon

In continuing with an effort to actually post some of our recent recipe additions, here’s a recipe for nabeyaki udon.   We originally found this recipe at Just One Cookbook, which is a fantastic blog of Japanese recipes. I’m going to present our version of the recipe here, with modifications we’ve had to make based on what we can get our hands on.  While you can find some of these ingredients in a well-stocked megamart, I would recommend you try out an Asian market, if you have one in your area.  We’re lucky enough to live close to our favorite Asian grocer, and we’ve made that a part of our shopping routine.

A note on the mushrooms: we can find fresh shiitake, but if you can’t then dried is great.  We just prefer the texture of the fresh, so we opt for that.  The shimeji mushrooms are small clusters of mushrooms that look kind of like enoki (they are really cute-you can see them on the top of the soup). If you can’t find them, standard buttons would work, but you do lose quite a bit of complexity and woodsiness (which is a word).

Also, this is supposed to be cooked in individual serving bowls, but we don’t have anything quite suitable, so I just make it in our enameled cast iron dutch oven.  The ending presentation isn’t quite as pretty as the nicely composed individual bowls, but needs must, and it’s still darned tasty.

Nabeyaki udon

Ingredients (serves 2-3)

  • 1 chicken thigh, diced
  • 4 fresh shiitake mushrooms
  • 4 baby bok choy, blanched
  • 1 small carrot
  • 1 package kamaboko fish cake (that’s the pink and white stuff in the picture)
  • 2 sticks imitation crab
  • 1/2 pack shimeji mushrooms, bottom 1/2″ trimmed
  • 3 scallions
  • 2 packages udon (we use the vac-packed shelf stable variety)
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups dashi (3 cups water + 1 generous tsp hondashi granules)
  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce



Prepare dashi according to package instructions and put over medium heat in a large, heavy cooking vessel.  Add the mirin and soy.   Dice the chicken into 1/2 inch cubes, and add it to the pot, along with the sliced shiitake, and sliced carrot.  Bring to a bare simmer, and let the chicken get fully cooked.  Once the chicken is cooked, add the roughly chopped bok choy and scallions, along with the noodles. The udon will take a few minutes to relax and separate.  Once it has, go ahead and add a few 1/4″ slices of the kamaboko per person and set that on top of the soup, along with the imitation crab and shimeji.  Crack the eggs into the soup, then cover and allow to simmer gently until the eggs are cooked to your liking.  Dish soup into bowls and serve.

Traditionally, this is served with tempura shrimp, but if you don’t want to go to the trouble of frying something, it’s still delicious and easy without it.  This also scales wonderfully.  I made this for a kenjutsu group of 4, and the only modification to method was to cook the noodles in their own pot of broth, then combine everything in the bowls.


Under Pressure: Beef Stew

For Christmas, Chris’ parents got me an 8 quart pressure cooker. Aside from breaking the handle off promptly after opening it, we hadn’t messed with it until yesterday. In light of the snowpocalypse predicted for Wichita, I decided to make a batch of stew after getting home from school. It worked quite well, despite something of a learning curve. We used a standard beef burgundy recipe, although omitting the bacon (I forgot to buy some at the store). The stew cooked under pressure for abut 45 minutes, although in the future, we’ll lower that by about 10-15 minutes, but the beef was very tender. It’s definitely a faster way to get that slow cooked taste without spending 4 hours on it.

1 1/2 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup flour
2 lbs roast, cut into 1″ cubes
1 medium onion
2 garlic cloves
2 carrots
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup red wine
2-3 cups beef broth
8 oz button mushrooms
2 baking potatoes, diced
1/2 cup peas
Herbes de Provence
Salt and Pepper

Toss beef in flour seasoned with some of the herbs, salt and pepper. Saute in pressure cooker until browned. Add onion, saute until limp. Add garlic, tomato paste and carrot. Saute a minute, then deglaze with wine. Add onion and beef broth and lid. Bring up to pressure, and let it cook 30 minutes. Release pressure, and add diced potatoes (may want additional salt at this point). Taste and adjust seasoning. Cover and bring back up to pressure for 5 minutes. Release pressure, and stir in peas. Let cook a couple of minutes uncovered, re-season, and serve with crusty bread.