Vedica’s Mom’s Butter Chicken

 

Any kid that grew up going to Indian restaurants knows that “butter chicken” is a staple of childhood.  I remember every time we went out for Indian food the number one thing we’d order was butter chicken, rice, and naan.  The chicken would be tender and drenched in a velvety sweet but savory tomato-ey sauce.  It was luscious and luxurious and we’d always look forward to it since our Mom was vegetarian and didn’t cook meat at home.

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Fast forward 20 years and I myself became vegetarian.  So when someone recently asked me if I had a recipe for Butter Chicken I was all like “whaaaaa?”  What kind of Indian am I that doesn’t know how to make Butter Chicken??!!

So what does a smart, attractive, resourceful mom (like all of YOU!) do? She asks around.  We find that motherhood is so much about getting advice and suggestions from other moms.  It’s a brethren of people that are always willing to help one another.  So I tapped my crew and my good friend, also a Millennial First Gen Indian American mom had a recipe that was passed on to her from her own Mom.  So here it is!

 

Vedica’s Mom’s Butter Chicken

Ingredients

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite sized pieces

1 large yellow onion, diced

2 teaspoon chopped ginger

3 teaspoon minced garlic

28 oz can of diced tomatoes

3 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 cardamom pod (optional)

2 whole cloves

2 teaspoon cumin seeds

¼ teaspoon turmeric

1 1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground garam masala

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 handful fresh cilantro, leaves and stemmed chopped

½ cup whole milk

 

Method: (Note, steps in RED are steps a kid can and should do!)

  1. Melt butter in a pot on medium heat. Add cumin, cardamom, and cloves and wait until they sizzle.  Add ginger, garlic, and onion and cook until onions are softened and light brown, about five minutes.
  2. Add turmeric, salt, pepper, garam masala and ground coriander. Cook onions with spices on high heat for 3 minutes.  Take pan off heat and add can of tomatoes.  Add handful of cilantro and milk. 
  3. Return pan to medium heat and cook for 20 minutes stirring occasionally, covered. Mash tomatoes until tomatoes are fully incorporated into sauce during the 20 minutes.  At the end of 20 minutes, there should be some pools of butter floating on top of the sauce.
  4. Add chicken and cook on medium heat, covered until chicken is cooked through, about 10 minutes.
  5. Serve with Paratha or Basmati Rice.

 

Optional –  you can add diced potatoes, ¾ cup of organic peas, and chopped spinach before you add the chicken to add some more vegetables to the dish if you want as well.

 

Chicken Doesn’t Come From A Box??

At Little Global Chefs, we have always held the belief that “if they make it, they will eat it.”  They being your kids.  We’ve talked about the importance of getting your little ones involved in the kitchen with you as soon as you can and we’ve provided loads of recipes that are proven winners!  Yo, it’s a total myth that kids hate broccoli!  We’ve also talked about the importance of bringing your howling kiddo with your to the grocery store to help pick out some produce.  What?  You’ve never seen a crying kid before?  All the elements from start to finish, right?

Well, it occurred to us the other day that there was an important aspect that we haven’t touched upon yet.  And that aspect is “where does this come from?”  We’re talking about FOOD, not babies!  (By the way, if you have any tips on the birds and bees convo, please comment below!)

About a year ago, our kids became increasingly more and more curious about where food comes from.  “Where do strawberries grow?  What about these crackers?  How do we get milk?  What about butter?”  When these questions started to pop up during meal time, I was THRILLED!  I was oozing with delight at their curiosity and their desire to know where their food really comes from.  They quickly began to realize that the strawberries that were carefully washed, quartered and lovingly placed into their bowls didn’t simply come from a plastic box from the store.  There was a lot more happening!

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I’ll be honest, things got a little … or a lot, more interesting when we got to talking about meats – fish, ham, chicken, steak, etc.  Now, we don’t eat a ton of meat at home as we are moving more and more to a plant-based diet.  But when we do, we always talk about where the said meat came from.  Lucky for me, my kids are really into the details!  But this also means I have to do some explaining on how the chicken we eat gets to our plates.  Look, I don’t go into every SINGLE detail, but I do make sure that I cover the important parts while ensuring it’s all age appropriate.

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But at the end of the day, what I’m saying is that our kids get it.  They are aware of sacrifices that have to be made in order for us to eat the foods that are delicious and healthy for our family.

I had a bit of a proud moment the other day when our family was visiting a farm.  Our kids were standing behind a fence watching a bunch of chickens peck at some feed, when my daughter turned to me and said – “Mom, those nuggets you make for us – those come from them, right?”  Yes, little M, they do.  And we are so thankful.

 

Rainbow In a Jar

“Schooooool’s out for SUMMER!”  And we’ve got 100 days of fun and sun ahead of us.  WOO HOO!!!  So what will you do with the littles (beside try and keep your sanity in check)?

Well, don’t you worry!  Aside from the tons of recipes we have here for you – which are so fun and delish to do with the kids – we’ve mixed it up by adding some fun, artsy, craftsty projects.

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First up!  Rainbow In A Jar.  We made these once while we on vacation.  The place we went to had a Kids Club and of course, upon seeing these bright, happy rainbow jars, the kids wanted to do the craft.  Well, $18 and 5 minutes later, the jars were done and approximately 2 minutes later, the kids had shaken up their jars and mixed up all the colors.  Um, I kind of felt like I, the parent, got ripped off!  The sand was already colored for the kids and all they had to do was pour the sand into these tiny bottles and… done.  That’s it??  Listen, if I’m gonna pay 18 bucks for my kids to do a craft, it better take longer than 5 minutes.  Just sayin’.

So we took the same idea but I decided to stretch out the craft by making the kids color the sand – which actually, we used sugar, because who has white sand on hand??  Anyhow, this craft is a ton of fun and we promise it will take longer than 5 minutes and it won’t cost anywhere near 18 bucks!!

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HAVE FUN!!

Rainbow In a Jar

Ingredients (makes 2 jars):

2 pounds of sugar (or white sand, if you have it)

2 jars with lids (we used 2, 16 ounce Ball canning jars)

various colors of food coloring

paper plates

Method: (Note, steps in RED are steps a kid can and should do!)

  1. On a paper plate, pour a small amount of  sugar and add a few drops of food coloring.
  2. Fully mix the food coloring into the sugar with a spoon until you reach your desired color and pour into the jar.
  3. Continue to add layers of the colored sugar until you have a pretty rainbow or pattern!
  4. When you reach the top, add some more sugar and really pack it down super tight until the sugar is level with the lip of the jar.  Really pack it in there so when everything settles, the colors won’t move so much.

Meal Planning is the Answer!

Behind Little Global Chefs, we are two moms who have survived the tears over uneaten vegetables, the shoved plates back in our faces, and the undignified pleading to eat beans or fish. We have survived, conquered and have lived to let you in on our tips and recipes. But we know that sometimes it’s nice to hear from an expert, a PRO. Someone who went to school to basically whip kids’ palates into ship shape.

We heard you loud and clear and we are here to deliver! You guys LOVED our articles from our resident Pediatric Nutritionist. So we invited Nicole Silber back to guest post on our column. She’s a registered dietitian and board certified specialist in pediatric nutrition (read: EXPERT) here to help us put our well-intended words into action.

Meal Planning. We all say we’re going to do it to eat healthier, save time and money! But who has time to save time and money? Sounds ridiculous, right? But really, most of us don’t do it, though we know we should. We come home after a long day and the kids are about to have a Grade A conniption fit. Must. Get. Food. On. The Table. Quick! Check the fridge! There’s nada but half a sad tomato. So we open the freezer and then BAM! There are those “trusty-but-junk-filled-but-my-kid-will-eat-them” nuggets. It’s easy. We know it, we know it well.  But nuggets are not the answer!

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Here, Nicole shares with us that a little planning makes a world of difference. We know you might not have the time, so she’s actually done the planning FOR us this week, complete with a shopping list to convert us all into meal planners! So no more excuses. Your future of meal planning starts today!

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Working with so many families, I can say that most parents have the best intentions when it comes to providing their family with nutritious choices and meals. I preach the values of varied, balanced dinners that include lean protein with lots of colorful veggies, and a moderate serving of a complex carbohydrate, ie whole grains, starchy vegetables and legumes. What I find is that most moms and dads want to follow these guidelines; they walk out of my office feeling motivated to accomplish this ambitious task.

What ends up happening is that life gets in the way.

In reality, schedules are tight, work is exhausting, the house is a mess. There isn’t a minute of clear headspace to spare to figure out how to get that nutritious meal on the table. That’s when delivery or microwavable dinners come in.

Meal planning works. It takes just a few minutes on the weekend, but it ends up guaranteeing more nutritious meals while saving time and money by re-using ingredients to create entirely new meals throughout the week.

Here is an example of how you can organize and re-use a few simple ingredients to plan a week’s worth of varied, balanced meals that your little sous chefs can help prepare and the whole family can enjoy. Each meal takes 30 minutes or less to prepare.

Shopping List (Quantities estimated for family of four)
Lean Proteins
• Whole rotisserie chicken, 2
• Salmon filets, ~2-2.5 lbs
• Ground turkey~2-2.5 lbs
• Eggs, 1 dozen

Complex Carbohydrates
• Black beans, 1 lb dried or 2 16-oz cans
• Brown rice, 1 lb bag
• Whole-wheat tortillas, 1 package
• Sweet potatoes ~8 medium

Assorted Non-Starchy Veggies: green beans, carrots, mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, broccoli, onions
Assorted Flavorings: fresh lemons, jalapeno pepper, fresh ginger root, fresh garlic cloves, sour cream, soy sauce, olive oil, marinara sauce, honey, cumin, salt, black pepper

Meals
– Sunday: Rotisserie chicken served over brown rice and roasted carrots

– Monday: Chicken chili made with shredded leftover rotisserie chicken, black beans, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cumin. Add jalapenos peppers for a kick!

– Tuesday: Baked salmon with lemon honey glaze served with oven roasted broccoli and baked sweet potato fries

– Wednesday: Brown rice and veggie stir-fry made with broccoli, onions, carrots, red bell pepper, mushrooms sautéed in a soy sauce and ginger topped with fried or scrambled eggs

– Thursday: Salmon tacos made with leftover baked salmon and topped with guacamole, chopped tomato salad and sour cream

– Friday: Grilled bun-less turkey burgers served with a southwestern bean salad prepared with leftover beans, onions, red peppers and avocado

– Saturday: Baked turkey meatballs prepared with marinara sauce and served with mashed sweet potato and sautéed green beans

 

Photo Credit: mealprepster.com

BBQ Turkey Dumplings

We think our love of the indispensable wonton has been well documented, as you can see here, here and here.  Well, we are not even close to being through with wontons!!  In our opinion, these little squares of dough are a culinary thing of genius!!

Today we have an easy and delicious recipe you will love.  It’s loaded with flavor, protein and veggies.  Plus, it’s a fun meal you can eat with your hands … and we know how much kids (and grown ups!) love eating with their hands.

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So, give these BBQ Turkey Dumplings a try — and round out the meal with a side of fruit and veggies.  And for those of us that like some heat, try mixing equal part of mayo and sriracha for an amazing and easy dip!

 

BBQ Turkey Dumplings

Ingredients:

1 pound ground turkey (try 94/6 for best flavor)

1 medium carrot shredded

1 small zucchini shredded and drained

1 cup of your favorite BBQ sauce

48 wonton wrappers

2 tablespoons vegetable oil for pan frying the ground turkey

Method: (Note, steps in RED are steps a kid can and should do!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
  2. In a large frying pan, heat the vegetable oil, brown the ground turkey and add in the shredded carrot, zucchini and BBQ sauce.  Stir until fully incorporated.
  3. On a large plate, lay out your wonton wrappers and using a teaspoon, scoop out the turkey mixture into the center of each wonton — making sure you do not overfill.
  4. Add some water to a small dish.  Dip your finger in the water and wet one edge of the wonton.  Fold the wonton over and seal.  Repeat with the remaining wontons and turkey mixture.
  5. On a parchment lined baking sheet, lay out the sealed turkey dumplings – spacing each dumpling by about an inch.  You may need to batch bake them.
  6. Bake for about 15 minutes, flipping the dumplings over half way through.
  7. Allow to cool and serve!

 

 

My (and Thomas Keller’s) Favorite Simple Roast Chicken Recipe

The ready-made, ready to eat rotisserie chickens you find at the grocery store can be a god-send, especially on those days where you don’t have the energy (or frankly, the desire) to prepare anything.  It’s quick, versatile and most everyone in the family is satisfied eating roasted chicken, right?  Take it out of the plastic packaging, cut it up and done and done!!

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But there are times, where you want to elevate your roast chicken dinner nights.  Now, if buying a roast chicken at the store is at a “1” for effort, then making it from scratch is at a “3,” but the impact on satisfaction is about 1,000 fold.  You guys, picking up what I’m throwing down?  This homemade roasted chicken is one that I would serve for a special occasion or for dinner guests … it’s that good.  And really, that simple.  No special ingredients – just the bird, salt and pepper.

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I’ve made a few tiny edits to the recipe – simplifying it a bit, but I still can’t take full credit here – the kudos go to my buddy Thomas Keller.  But he’s so busy with things like Per Se, The French Laundry, Bouchon, blah blah blah…  That I’ll step up and just take the credit.  That’s what friends do 😉

Our Favorite Simple Roast Chicken Recipe (“our” being Thomas and me 🙂 )

Ingredients:

1, 2-3 pound organic, farm-rasied chicken

Kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper

Method: (Note, steps in RED are steps a kid can and should do!)

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees and remove whole chicken from packaging.
  2. Clean the chicken (taking great care to clean up after yourself here) and thoroughly dry the bird with paper towels.  Really, really dry it because this is what will help give you a super crisp skin that you can’t get from a store bought rotisserie chicken.
  3. Salt and pepper the chicken to taste (using about 1 tablespoon or so of Kosher salt), making sure you season the chicken on the outside as well as in the cavity.  (*Now, in the Thomas Keller version, he trusses the chicken which I have done in the past, but over time, I have skipped this step and the chicken turns out amazing still).
  4. Place the thoroughly dried and seasoned chicken on an oven-proof sauté pan or roasting pan, making sure you get a roasting pan that isn’t too big – you want one that will kind of hug the chicken.
  5. Put the chicken in the oven and leave it alone for 45-60 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken.  I don’t baste it or butter it while it’s cooking because this creates steam and steam will won’t give you a super crisp skin.
  6. Remove the chicken and carve – or do what we do – just eat right off the cutting board with some great crusty bread.

Kimchi is COOL!

Hey yo!  Have you guys heard that kimchi is the new Tabasco?  The new salsa…  the new go-to condiment!  Yeah, we’re basically saying it’s going to take over everything you eat.  I grew up with the stuff so naturally, I’m biased.

But guys, kimchi is COOL!  And it’s worth the incredible garlic breath you will wear as a badge of coolness throughout the day.

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I have this memory, as a kid, sitting at the dinner table with my family.  We were having spaghetti one night and here I am casually twirling some noodles around my fork, when in the corner of my eye, I spot my dad top his fork of spaghetti with a healthy heaping for kimchi.  I remember thinking – “EW!!!  OMG, that is SO gross!!”  Um, how wrong I was!  Kimchi and spaghetti??  Um, YES!!  But what did I know?  I was just a kid.

So check it out.  This kimchi can be made in about 30 minutes.  This is like” I-gotta-have-kimchi-like-right-now” kimchi, because traditional kimchi takes muuuuuch longer to come together and ferment.  But in a pinch, this is delish!  Try it and top it on everything you would normally top with spice!

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*Tip ~ for those of you with kids who would like to dabble in some kimchi, you can try and wash off some of the heat in a little dish of water.

Quick Kimchi

Ingredients:

2 pounds savoy cabbage ~ this is about 1/2 a large head of cabbage (traditionally you use napa cabbage, which might be harder to find in grocery stores)

1/4 cup kosher salt

1/4 cup hot pepper flakes

1/4 cup fish sauce

1 tablespoon sugar

10 cloves of garlic, minced

3 stalks of green onion, julienned

1 large carrot, julienned

Method: (Note, steps in RED are steps a kid can and should do!)

  1. Slice up the cabbage into thin 2 inch strips and thoroughly wash (you can use a salad spinner here – kids love it!)
  2. Place the cabbage in a large mixing bowl and add enough cold water to cover the cabbage, then mix in the kosher salt and set aside for about 10 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, add the hot pepper flakes, fish sauce, sugar, minced garlic, green onion and carrot and thoroughly mix using a spoon (you can also use food service type of gloves if you have them – just take great care not to get the pepper flakes on your hands so you don’t accidentally rub your eyes).
  4. Rinse the salted cabbage a few times under cold water and then drain all the water.
  5. Thoroughly mix the red pepper mixture with the cabbage and then place the kimchi in an airtight container.  It’s ready to eat!