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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Chicken Tikka Masala

I really, really like Indian food.  A lot.

So I learned that chicken tikka masala was actually invented in London.  That's the story, anyway.  At any rate, they serve it at Indian restaurants, and it's tasty.  I was pleasantly surprised to find out that although there were a couple steps to making it, it was really easy!


Scrappy and pita.

Chicken Tikka Masala
from Cook's Illustrated Magazine 10/2007

Chicken Tikka
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/2 tsp. ground coriander (I left this out since I didn't have any)
1/4 tsp. cayenne
1 tsp. salt
2 lbs. boneless skinless chicken breasts (I used tenders)
1 c. plain yogurt (I used Fage Greek)
2 tbsp. olive or veg oil
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp. fresh ginger

Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne, and salt.  Sprinkle over chicken (both sides), lightly pressing onto meat.  Cover and let sit for 30-60 minutes (I left mine on the counter, don't tell the food police).  For yogurt sauce, combine yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger.  Stir to combine.  I left that to sit on the counter, too.

Masala Sauce
3 tbsp. veg oil (I used half olive oil and half ghee, because I could)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, finely chopped (remove ribs & seeds if you don't want it too spicy)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. garam masala (essential, people)
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 c. heavy cream
1/4 c. chopped fresh cilantro

For the sauce:  Saute onion in oil about 8-10 minutes, until lightly browned.  Add garlic, ginger, chile, paste, garam masala.  Saute a minute or two until your kitchen smells like heaven.  Add tomatoes, sugar, and salt.  Cover and simmer on medium-low for about 15 minutes.  Stir in cream and bring back to simmer.  Turn it off and cover to keep warm.

Uncover your wrapped chicken.  Turn on the broiler.  You need to line a pan with foil and set a rack inside.  I am sure you could get away with crumpling the foil and then opening it if you didn't have a rack.  Point is, you want air circulating underneath.  I used a cookie sheet and cookie rack.  Coat chicken in yogurt mixture.  Be generous.  It should go on pretty thick.  Broil it in the broiler, turning, and letting it char a little, until done, 10-15 minutes.  Let it rest a couple minutes, then cut into 1" pieces and toss into the masala sauce.  You're not cooking the chicken in the sauce.  Top the whole thing with the chopped cilantro and wow your family.

I served mine with pita that I wrapped in foil and warmed in the oven while the chicken cooked.

The Flour Children LOVED this.  (Hooray!)

Silly.  She made her's into a sandwich.

Goofy.  He made his into a taco.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Butternut Squash Bisque

Butternut bisque, get in my belly!

More snow.  That means more soup!  Well, it does here, anyway.

I was reading my email this morning, and stumbled upon this recipe from Saving Dinner.  If you've never heard of this site, I'm a little sad for you.  There's a book, too, that your library might have.  She sends an email every weekday, and once or twice a week a recipe is included.  Here's her thing:  she wants us to be eating healthy foods that are easy to cook.  Holla!  (Can I say "holla"?  I did.)

This is her recipe, with slight alteration.  I added 1/2 tsp. more curry powder and had to use full-fat evaporated milk since it's all I had.

I have been collecting butternut squash, it seems.  So I poked some holes in about 4 of them (with a steak knife) and put them on a pan in the oven at 350 for about an hour, maybe an hour and a half.  I lost track; I was doing other stuff.  That's what's nice about roasting squash.  You can leave them.  It's not exact science.  I only used about 1 1/2 c. of squash for this recipe; the rest I think I will bake into a tasty pie.

Mmmm onions & apples.

Butternut Bisque
from Saving

1 medium butternut squash, cooked (I mashed mine, but cubes would be fine.)
3/4 c. chopped onion
1 clove garlic, minced
1 apple, cored and diced (I used a gala.)
2 tsp. butter (yes, only 2 tsp!)
2 tbsp wheat flour
1 tsp. curry
1 tsp. nutmeg
4 c. low-sodium veggie broth (I used College Inn brand.)
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1/2 c. evaporated milk (She suggests the fat-free version.)
1/2 tsp. sage

In soup pot, melt butter and add onion, garlic, and apple.  Saute until onion is translucent. Add flour, curry, and nutmeg and cook until apple is tender.  Saving Dinner says at this point, you should blend these ingredients with your squash and 1 c. broth, then return to the pan.  Instead, I added the squash and all of the broth, and then blended it with the immersion blender.  Pick your method.  Add tomato paste, milk, and sage.  Bring to a boil over medium heat, and then simmer a few minutes.  Then eat!

If you have to use regular milk, instead of evaporated milk, don't boil it.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Week in Review -- Sea snakes and Chinese writing

I have been so hit-or-miss with my weekly wrap ups.  But you're okay with that, right?

This week we studied medieval Asia.  We learned about the Sui dynasty uniting China, and the Tang dynasty. The Flour Children took a stab at some Chinese writing.  We also discussed Japan and Korea, and their relationship with China during the medieval period.

Practicing Chinese character drawing.

We had a great week of science!  We read about ocean-dwelling dinosaurs.  There were 4 main types, and the kids drew pictures of them at the end of the unit.  We also talked about sea reptiles, specifically sea snakes and sea turtles.  The Flour Children made some turtles and snakes out of Model Magic.

Scrappy is making a sea turtle out of Crayola's Model Magic
 (which I cannot say enough good things about).

Goofy with his sea turtle and sea snake.  Note the flattened tail on the snake.
That's a good way to tell a sea snake from a land snake that just happens to be taking a swim.

Prolific as ever.  Funny's sea turtles and sea snakes.

Funny wants you to know that sea snakes are mostly venomous.
But you're probably safe, as you don't normally find them near North America.

This is an experiment we did to determine why it can be difficult to find good fish (such as the now-extinct ichthyiosaur) fossils.  We had 2 cups; 1 had a shell in it representing a clam, and the other a Cheerio, representing the dead fish.  (The Cheerio works because fish and Cheerios are mostly air.)  We put a little water in the cups, and then mixed up some mud and poured it over top.  The kids discovered that the "clam" still was at the bottom of its cup, but the "fish" floated!  So it would be more susceptible to scavengers and the currents, and therefore, less likely to become fossilized.
Scrappy mixes up some mud for our science experiment.

Funny covers our ichthyosaur (aka the Cheerio) with mud.

Goofy drawing a picture of the 4 sea dinosaurs we studied.

Goofy dug out our formerly abandoned dino dig kit.
He says he's going to be a paleontologist when he grows up.

There were a few inches of snow this week, so the kids played outside everyday. I even went out one day and played tag with them, and made a snow angel.  But only for a little bit.  It was coooold.

Goofy climbs a giant snowy pile of rocks and logs.

We also studied a bit about Vincent Van Gogh and I have plans for the kids to take a stab at painting their own picture full of dots, dashes and swirls.  We were at Red Robin one night and Funny actually noticed "Starry Night" hanging on the wall and could identify it!  She then told her dad she didn't think it was a good idea for a man to send someone an ear.  She's so right.

We had a field trip this week.  It was our first trip in many weeks.  We went to the Carnegie Natural History Museum.  I was so excited (I am a geek, yes) because they had a mosasaur skeleton and we could identify it!  Long neck, body like a turtle, swimming dinosaur=mosasaur.  I love it when things stick!  We also toured the bird section and that was great fun.  We studied birds last year, and it was great to see so many of the species we had discussed, as well as the different types of eggs and nests.

Be careful, Silly!

Some nice dinosaur fossils.

That's a mosasaur!

Goofy is STILL digging for bones.

Fancy plumage.

Some raptors.  These are kestrels.

Books read:  Vincent Van Gogh: Sunflowers and Swirly Stars (Smart About Art)Long Is a Dragon: Chinese Writing for ChildrenMisty of ChincoteagueArabian Nights

Foods cooked:  carrot cake cupcakes, cream cheese icing

Friday, January 7, 2011

Weeks in Review -- Christmas school

I am afraid to go out on a limb (is it a limb?) and say we are straight up unschooling.  Mostly because it isn't quite true.  But we definitely have been doing a lot of unschooling in December, and it has been wonderful.  The best thing is that I am not consumed with guilt, lamenting my failure to teach and their failure to learn.  We have done a lot of things in December, and life is pretty educational, when you think about it.

Silly learns about physics when she is turned into a giant yo-yo.

Funny races Hub.

Funny climbs a wall.

The Flour Children dress themselves like presents.

Christmas countdown.  I wrote a Bible verse on each one.

See?  A Bible verse a day.

Scrappy and Funny help put up the tree.  You don't see me doing it.
What subject is this, you may wonder?  Patience.

Even Silly helps.

Christmas ornaments made by the Flour Children.

We baked a lot of cookies.

K uses this for math and reading.
Hub caught Silly teaching herself to read with this the other day.

Silly does a look and find, with counting.

Learning about the winter solstice.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Books I Read on my Christmas Vacation

Since my blog is ADD (covering homeschooling, cooking, etc.) I figure why not add more about the books I'm reading?  It's my blog and I can do what I want.

Easy by Emma Gold
I really hated the unnamed main character in this book for a good 150 pages.  In the end, I didn't abhor this book, but it was close.

How Santa Got His Job by Stephen Krensky
A very cute story about Santa's prior job experience (mail carrier, baker, etc.), which prepared him for becoming Santa Claus.

Rescue Bunnies by Doreen Cronin
I really love Click, Clack, Moo.  In fact, I would say it is one of my favorite children's books of all time.  This was just okay for me.

13 Words by Lemony Snicket
Excellent.  I love vocabulary.  I love Lemony Snicket (who also loves vocabulary).  A great book with wonderful art.

Snow is My Favorite and My Best by Lauren Child
I adore Charlie and Lola.  They have a great brother-sister relationship that is missing from a lot of books & shows (since it's also been made into a cartoon).  I especially like the cut paper illustrations.

The Magician's Nephew by CS Lewis
We listened to the audio version of this, from Focus on the Family radio theatre.  It's a pretty close adaptation, and it totally counts as being read, for me.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by CS Lewis
Audio.  Excellent.

The Horse and His Boy by CS Lewis
Audio.  I don't think I even really heard of this story until we got this set of CDs, but I really liked it.  It had a nice, tidy, happy ending.

I also started Cheap and The Burning Wire, but didn't finish them yet.