Chicken Tikka Masala

Thomas persuaded me to eat at an Indian restaurant a couple of years ago, and I am so glad that he did.  I had a lot of misconceptions about it but have found that I really like most of it.  Some would say that Chicken Tikka Masala isn't authentic Indian food, but I don't care because it tastes amazing!  If you have been thinking of trying something Indian, this would be a great place to start!
Check out your local Indian grocery store to find garlic paste, ginger paste, red chili powder and garam masala.  You may be able to find these at the regular grocery store but you will pay much less at the Indian store.

Chicken Tikka Masala:
click here for printable version

2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken cut into bite-sized pieces
1 cup plain yogurt
3/4 teaspoon red chili powder
1 tablespoon garlic paste
2 tablespoons ginger paste
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon garam masala
5 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon ginger paste
2 tablespoons garlic paste
1/2 large onion, diced
15 ounce can tomato sauce
1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
2 1/4 teaspoons coriander
2 tablespoons garam masala
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter
1 cup heavy cream

Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and add the chicken.  Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Skewer the chicken, and lay over a foil-lined pan.
Bake chicken for 22 minutes.  While the chicken is baking, heat the oil in a large skillet.  Add the ginger and garlic paste to the skillet and cook for 2 minutes.  
Add the onions and cook until soft, about 5 minutes, over medium heat.
Add the tomato sauce, spices and butter, cook for 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, remove the chicken from the oven and take off skewers.
Add the heavy cream to the sauce and stir until combined.
Add the chicken and salt and let simmer on low for about 10 minutes.
Serve over basmati rice, garnish with parsley, if desired.

Mirliton & Shrimp Casserole

Posted by: David Hubbell

Our family comes from Louisiana, specifically the River Parishes.  These three parishes are included among the designated 22 in a region known as Acadiana, AKA Cajun Country. One of the many benefits our ancestors had living in this area was the melding of the foods typically associated with the Cajuns as well as the foods that were popular down river in New Orleans (normally associated with the Creoles).   Although we didn’t live in this region, we were blessed to be exposed to many of the Cajun/Creole dishes while growing up about a decade before the Cajun food craze hit in the 1980s.  Despite this, as a child, we weren’t always appreciative of some of the vegetable dishes associated with this type of cuisine. One in particular that comes to mind is the mirliton (pronounced MEL-lee-tawn ) which to those outside of south Louisiana is known as a chayote squash.  These squash grow on a vine, which can produce as many as 50-100 between late September and November. As such, they have traditionally been incorporated into Thanksgiving and Christmas dishes such as the one I discuss below: Mirliton & Shrimp Casserole.

It should be noted that the mirliton vine was a common fixture to many New Orleans backyards in decades past, but has diminished in popularity recently and further met its demise by the salty waters brought in by Hurricane Katrina. Despite being able to find chayote squash in a number of supermarkets, many of these are grown in areas such as Costa Rica and are a smaller variety than those traditionally grown in south Louisiana.

Mirliton & Shrimp Casserole:
click here for printable version
adapted from Chef John Folse and the other from our distant cousins on the La Vacherie Forum.

8 Louisiana mirlitons (or 11 smaller chayote squash)
4 tbsps crab boil (liquid)
1 cup onion, diced fine
½ cup red or green bell pepper, diced fine
½ cup celery, diced fine
1/4 cup butter

1 1/2 cup green onions, sliced
2 lbs shrimp, peeled & deveined (
cut or chopped into small pieces reserving 6-9 whole)
4 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup parsley, diced fine
1 cup Italian breadcrumb
salt & black pepper & garlic powder & Cajun seasoning to taste
1/4 cup butter

Fill a large pot with water and add 1 tbsp salt and 4 tbsps of liquid crab boil. Boil mirlitons until tender, approximately 40 minutes.  Test by sticking a sharp knife into it. If it goes in easily as when testing a potato then they are ready. Do not overcook. 

2.) Drain and cool. Peel and cut in half removing the seed. It should be noted that they are somewhat sticky or gluey, so don’t be alarmed.

3.) Cube the pulp. Place in colander to drain some more.

4.) In a heavy skillet or pot, sauté garlic, bell pepper, celery, onions, green onions, and parsley in ¼ cup melted butter over medium heat. Approximately 3-5 minutes or until wilted.
5.) Add shrimp (excluding the whole ones) and sauté until pink, approximately 5-7 minutes.
6.) At this point you can either, chop the mirliton fine and mix with the contents of the pot or add the mirliton, mix with vegetables and shrimp then coarsely chop all of the mixture in a food processer.
7.) Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and Cajun seasoning to taste (I start with ¼ tsp each then adjust to taste).

8.) Add Italian bread crumbs. (NOTE: If the mixture is dry once it is all mixed, you can add a little water or chicken broth a little at a time until it is just a just pasty.)
9.) Pour everything into a 9”x13” casserole dish, which has been greased with the other ¼ cup butter (NOTE: not all may be required).
10.) Sprinkle with additional bread crumbs.
11.) Sauté reserved shrimp in a tablespoon of the butter until pink. Arrange shrimp on top of the casserole and bake for 20-25 minutes at 350 degrees F or until browned and bubbly. Remove from the oven and let rest for 10 minutes before eating.

You can make this ahead of time and freeze before baking. 
Take it out the day before you need it and let it thaw in the refrigerator and bake right before serving. Serves 10-12 or 4 hungry Cajuns (just kidding).
* - This recipe is a combination of 2 others, one from Chef John Folse and the other from our distant cousins on the La Vacherie Forum.


Let me introduce you to our most recent guest blogger, David!

How lucky are we that our families are full of foodies?!  David is my brother-in-law and he and his wife also love to cook.  From an early age he became interested in his German-Acadian ancestry and the customs of his family that settled along the Mississippi River between Baton Rouge and New Orleans . Always a fan of good food, David has been cooking and grilling for over 15 years, but with the birth of his children and nieces and nephews he has become passionate and determined to learn and pass on many of the traditional River Parish Cajun/Creole recipes and cooking techniques. In addition to cooking the traditional foods, David is also an avid backyard vegetable gardener who has also been experimenting with many of the heirloom varieties of vegetables found in south Louisiana.  
Check out David's recipe on Friday!


Am I the only one who never thought about how buttermints are made?  It has never crossed my mind that these little candies could be made at home.  I found a recipe this year and made them for Christmas, but I think they could be offered for any occasion.

click here for printable version
adapted from Land O' Lakes

1/2 cup butter, softened
5 1/4 cups powdered sugar
3 tablespoons half & half or heavy whipping cream
1 teaspoon peppermint extract
green food coloring (or any color you choose!)

Put the butter in a large bowl.  Beat on low speed, with an electric mixer, until creamy.  Add the sugar, half and half and peppermint.  Continue beating until the mixture forms a soft dough (about 2-5 minutes.)

Add the food coloring and beat until dough is light green.
Wrap dough in plastic wrap.  Lightly sprinkle powdered sugar on counter and, using about a 1/4 cup of dough, roll into a rope.  Add more sugar when necessary.
Cut into 1 inch pieces.  Place pieces on a waxed paper-lined baking sheet.

Repeat with remaining dough.  Let mints stand uncovered at room temperature until dry (6-8 hours.)  

To store, layer mints between sheets of waxed paper in airtight container.  Refrigerate up to 1 month, or freeze up to 2 months.