A Food Story & Tikka Masala Kabobs over Coconut Jasmine Rice

Early dinner = napping hubby + quiet kids.

This is not always the case, but it is today.

 So- I will enjoy the quiet time, sit here with basketball on in the background, a beer in my hand and write all about this yummy meal I just made.

Mommy time. Foodie time. 

It’s funny how much I love to cook actually…I never made a single meal before my husband and I moved into our first apartment together. In fact, the only meal I could muster up the confidence to make back then was Chinese pie…Sheppards pie. Hamburg, corn and mashed potatoes. How bad could it be? I thought…

My next thought- how the f*#% do you make mashed potatoes!!!??!

I lifelined a friend at the restaurant I worked at, at the time. 

Yes- I worked at a restaurant, I could afford my own apartment and I still didn’t have the slightest clue how to make mashed potatoes. 

Ironically, my dad was a great cook when I was growing up. I’m pretty sure my current cooking prowess happened completely through osmosis, because back then I was hardly interested in learning how to cook at all.

Anyway, my friend Suzy laughed and laughed when I called her at the restaurant to ask how to make mashed potatoes. I mean. I would laugh too! But being the good person she is, she eventually cleared her throat and politely walked me through the mashing of the potatoes. Wash, cut, boil, drain, butter, milk, season, mash. 

Duh….. I knew that!!! 

But for some reason I was so caught up in the fact that I didn’t “know how to cook” that my brain let out a huge fart and all common sense flew out with it. 

After all that, I was successful in the mashing of the potatoes and the entire Sheppards pie. At that point I decided I was a culinary master. 

Heh heh.. NOT!!

Back then, my idea of making an appetizer was to slice up a kielbasa, microwave the slices on a paper towel and decorate them with little dots of yellow mustard. 

Ghetto superstar. 

But as the years went on I got better. 

When our oldest was born, James and I sat alone in the hospital with our beautiful baby Gwenivere after all the visitors had finally gone home. We were ready to relax and clicked on MTV to watch the good old show “Wild n’ Out”.

As we watched, a nurse came in to check vitals as they always do. She took one look at the tv and had the nerve to say “you know… your baby is absorbing all that awful nonsense you are listening to right now!! You shouldn’t be watching that with her!”

I was mortified. James was pissed off. I mean-looking back it…how ridiculous?!

I should have requested a new nurse on the spot but I was a new mom and during the months to come her words stuck with me. 

After we had gone home from the hospital and had settled for a couple weeks, it was time for James to go back to work. 

My mom would come visit on her lunch breaks from time to time, but for the most part I kept to myself during the day. It’s what I wanted. 

We had kids very young and I was still learning how to deal with myself, never mind other people. 

So during the quiet hours of the day when I finally got Gwen to sleep on my chest, I would turn on the tv. 

It was then that I would hear the nurse’s voice scolding me for watching MTV. 

Hahaha! Makes me laugh just writing that! But it was true. 

Because of this- this is the point in my life when I discovered the Food Network.

Not my parents Food Network…the Emril years, as I like to call them- but a different era. Giada, Ina, Rachel’s 30 Minute Meals. IRON CHEF!!!

For hours and hours I would snuggle with baby Gwen and study the Food Network. 

People kept telling me- “you look so tired! Nap when the baby naps!” But I was hooked. So much so, that when I went back to working nights at the restaurant after James would get home from work, I spent my entire first pay check on food. 

I had copied down so many recipes from Everyday Italian. We couldn’t afford it at the time but all I wanted to do was make Giada de Laurentiis’ Orecchiette with Mini Chicken Meatballs and Mashed Potatoes with Parmesan. Or as my friend Bill would call it, mashed potatoes with grate parm fresh. 

I know, I know- again with the mashed potatoes… what can I say. I’m true to my roots. 

Anyway. I worked so hard on this meal. It didn’t come out perfect, but the process of cooking this, step by step from my notes (Yes. Notes. Pinterest wasn’t a thing back then. In fact, I believe I still had MySpace) was SO therapeutic. I felt like I was doing something meaningful. Something that at the end of a long day- consisting of only spit up, laundry, messy diapers and tears of hormones and fear of failing as a mother and girlfriend- THIS would comfort me. Something that I made. Just me, no one else, and I had succeeded at it.

I was hooked. To this day cooking is my thing. I may not be the best home cook in the world. I’m decent at best. I do come up with pretty delicious recipes and learning new ones is by far my most favorite hobby. 

My kitchen is my happy place. 

So even though my kids are “big” now, when they leave for an afternoon with James and I’m left to my own devices, you best believe that I’m cooking up something good!!

Today that was Cream Cheese and Chive Wontons with Tikka Masala Kabobs over Coconut Jasmine Rice.

Tikka Masala Kabobs over Coconut Jasmine Rice|

Serves 4

Prep time-15 minutes

Cook time-30 minutes 

  • 1.5 lbs chicken breast tenders
  • 8 skewers
  • 1 c tikka Masala simmer sauce
  • Salt and pepper

For the rice:

  • 1 c jasmine rice
  • 1.5 c water
  • 1/2 c Coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley 

Avocado and lime to garnish (optional)

If using wooden or bamboo skewers, soak them in water for a few minutes before preheating your oven to 375. This way they won’t flame up in the oven!

Start by slicing your chicken into small bite size pieces. Skewer them and place them onto a parchment paper lined baking dish.

Season with salt and pepper.

Next take half of the tikka Masala sauce and brush both sides of your Kabobs. 

Bake at 375 for 30 min.

Meanwhile, bring your water and coconut milk to a boil. Add your rice, stir and reduce the heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until the rice is creamy and fluffy. Depending on which brand of rice you buy, you may need to add a bit more liquid along the way. 

When the rice is done. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley, lime, and soy sauce. 

Turn the rice onto a serving platter and place your Kabobs and garnishes on top. 

Heat the remaining tikka Masala sauce and drizzle over the top of the dish. 

A squeeze of fresh lime juice over the top of this dish is the perfect way to highlight all of the tikka Masala flavor. It has a hint of spices but is NOT spicy. 

The four of us devoured this meal!! And ALL of the Cream Cheese wontons I made with it! But I’ll save that recipe for another day!

Soft and Chewy CocoChip Cookies

  Sometimes on the homestead you run out of everyday snacks and treats. Our goal has become not running out to the market everytime we crave a sweet or savory store bought treat.
Instead we look in the pantry and make something up! Making do with what we have.

In most cases, this turns out to be way better than any kind of artificial indulgence. 

Today was no exception. I’ve been fighting an awful cold and the weather has been -15 with wind chills down to -34!

Needless to say, we’ve been staying in as much as possible. 

I’ve been baking breads and making daily trips to the freezer, eating up the pork and venison that we are so lucky to have on weeks like this.

Last night I realized we didn’t have many sweets in the house and so upon waking up this morning I went straight to the pantry. 

Among the usual suspects, I came across some leftover coconut flakes from the coconut shrimp I fried up last week. 

I added them to my typical chocolate chip cookie recipe and oh my goodness did they turn out well!!

The coconut gives the cookie an unexpected texture that’s reminiscent of the Samoa cookies we try and only by once a year. 

Give this recipe a try! They are soft, chewy and oh so delicious! 

Soft and Chewy CocoChip Cookies|

30 min, makes 2 dozen

  • 1 stick of butter, slightly melted
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/4 c brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 c chocolate chips
  • 1/2 c sweetened coconut flakes

Pre heat your oven to 350

In a stand mixer, combine the butter and sugars until smooth and creamy.

Add the egg and vanilla and mix till combined. 

Next add the flour, baking soda and salt. 

Once the dough has come together, add in the chocolate chips and the coconut.

Very lightly spray two cookie sheets with non stick cooking spray. 

Evenly space your dough using tablespoons of cookie dough on the sheet pans. 

I do 3 rows of 4 on each pan.

Bake for 9-11 mins.

I like to take mine out at 9 minutes and get them on a cooling tray immediately. This is how they stay soft and chewy!

  
Once cooled, but not cold, place in an air tight container or on a plate and covered with plastic wrap while they’re still sightly warm. 

Enjoy with milk and try not to eat the entire plate! They are soooooo yummy!