Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries

Curried Chicken and Dried Cherries - over head viewHave you ever heard of the Curry Tree? It is a tropical to sub-tropical tree in the rue family, which also includes the citrus. The tree is native to India and Sri Lanka.

Curry Leaf Tree

curry leaves in a skillet with olive oil

Curry Leaves In A Skillet With Olive Oil

The leaves of the curry tree are used in many Indian dishes. The “sweet neem leaves” are often used in curries, as they (the leaves) are highly valued as a seasoning in southern and west-coast Indian cooking, as well as Sri Lankan cooking .

The leaves when used in curry dishes are add with the chopped onion in the first stage of the preparation of the curry dish.

potted curry leaf tree

Image Credit: Garden Amateur

The tree can be home-raised as a potted plant as it is easily grown in warmer areas of the world, or in containers where the climate is not supportive outdoors. In this image is a potted Curry tree in the yard of an Australian gardener.

Our featured dish is  – Curried Chicken With Dried Cherries – and here is what you will need, and no you will not need to hunt down some curry leaves. Unless you have a tree and want to add some leaves to the dish we are featuring.

3/4 pound skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks 

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon avocado oil

1 small red or purple onion, thinly sliced

2 ribs celery, sliced

1/2 cup fresh water or chicken broth

1/3 cup chopped dried cherries

1 1/2 teaspoons curry powder

1/2 to 1 teaspoon Himalayan Salt (optional)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/3 cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons flour

cooking chicken meatIn a large ceramic coated skillet or cast iron skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of avocado oil over medium-high heat. Add the chicken and cook, stir occasionally until meat is oblique colored and just cooked through, about 5 minutes. Transfer the chicken to a plate, and set aside.

cooking onions and celeryTo the same pan add the 1 teaspoon of avocado oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sliced celery and cook, stirring for 3 minutes.

adding curry and dried cherriesNext add the cherries and 1/2 cup water and bring to a light boil. Next stir in the curry powder, salt and pepper.

Next, pour in the cream and mix in. You can also use coconut milk, which is used in traditional Indian dishes. When making this dish, we didn’t have any coconut milk, but we did have some heavy cream.

adding in chicken meat to curry mixNext add the cooked chicken along with any juices and mix in.

Curried Chicken and Dried CherriesServe over rice, couscous or eat as is.

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Thank the Greeks for Cheesecake

Greece and we’re talking Ancient Greece where the world’s greatest, most amazing, unsurpassed dessert was first created. What is it you say with despair? It’s Cheesecake of course. The story starts on the isle of Samos about the seventh or eighth centuries B.C.E. It was there that the great inventors of dessert…OK I don’t really know if they are the inventors, but I get excited when it comes to dessert. So on the isle of Samos is were they  began pounding cheese into a thick paste, using honey as a sweetener and setting it into a crust of wheat. The age old question is though, is it truly a cake?

Will let me tell you about the first time I made a cheesecake. The recipe called for three tablespoons of flour. I thought only three tablespoons? And why not, most cakes call for 1 1/2 cups or more of flour. But the three tablespoons were added. My first cheesecakeWhen I make my second cheesecake, I opted to leave out the flour to see what happens. To my surprise, nothing. It bake up just fine like the first one. So off to Google to see why only a small amount of flour is added. I learned the never ending battle, that is if cheesecake is truly a cake. Flour was not in the original cake and if you have no flour, it cannot be called a cake.

So if it is not a cake than what is it? Some say a Tort. Which many torts are just made with cheese. Then there is custard, much like your French Crème Burlee or your Spanish Flan. The two which are made just like a cheesecake. How so? The principle ingredients being: milk and eggs. Of course sugar is added for sweetness. They also use a water bath, necessary to bake them. I have decided I’m not going to get involved in the dispute. Many things including food have a name that has nothing to do with what they are or look like.

Here is a modern day improved upon cheesecake, since the Greek’s first made one. Here is what you will need for the crust and the filling.

ingredients for crust

Also you will need 1/3 cup of flax seed. Place the seed in a food processor and pules on crush until you have a fine flour texture. Next add the almonds and process more and than add the oats. Make sure the grains and almonds are a flour texture. Once you have done this, in a medium bowl, spoon in 1 1/3 cup of the almond flour and add the melted butter and incorporate well. Line four 4 1/2 inch spring form pans with parchment paper.

cheesecake crust

Next place 1/4 cup of almond paste mix into each spring form pan and press out paste to reach the sides of the pan.

parchment line pans with crust

Place the pans in a heated 350 degree oven and bake for 7 minutes. When done remove and let cool. Meanwhile start to prepare the filling. Here is what you will need:

cheesecake ingredients

You will also need 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt. Here is how you incorporate the ingredients by step. Make sure your eggs and cream cheese are room temperature. Be careful not to over process the ingredients so no air is left in the cheesecake, with too much air incorporated into the filling, cracks are likely to develop while the cake is baking.

cheesecake order of ingredients

Note: after step four refer to recipe at the end of this post under STIR-IN IDEAS if you wish to stir in other ingredients. Now pour 1 cup of filling into each spring form pan. Now we need to make a cheesecake water bath.  A cheesecake bath is a fail-safe way to stop your dessert from cracking, it also keeps the oven moisture very high and allows the heat to be gentle on the cake, allowing it to cook more slowly and evenly. The water evaporates before it gets as hot as the oven, cooling the edges of the cake so it bakes at the same rate as the center. Using a roasting pan fill it half way with hot water and place it on the bottom rack of you’re your heated oven. Place spring form pans filled with cheesecake on top rack just over the bath water. Bake for 45 minutes or 60 minutes if you are baking a 7 inch or larger cheesecake.

pouring filling into pans

But today we are using our Nuwave oven. The hot water is poured into the pan. The racked is place over the water and the cheesecakes are placed onto the rack.

pouring hot water for cheesecake bath   placing prepared cheesecake on rack

In the Nu-Wave oven we only have to bake the cheesecake for 20 minutes. Half the time and thank thinking minds for modern inventions.

When the cakes are done allow 15 minuets to cool. Than place in the refrigerator for no less than 3 hours. Then with a knife loosen edges and remove from spring form pans. Top cheesecake with fruit or eat plain. Here blueberry jam was used to to finish the cake.

mini cheeseckes with blueberry on top

You can also make it a Almond Brickle-butter Cheesecake. Before baking add 1 cup crushed heath bars to mix. After cooling add some fresh whipped cream to top and sprinkle with crushed heath bar.

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At first it can be a choir to make cheesecake. But with practice it will become second nature. Things to remember: cheesecake relies on the proteins in the eggs to give it structure. The proteins coagulate as the temperature approaches 170 degrees. If it over bakes, the cheesecake becomes dry. Never bake cheesecake over 350 degrees. It is recommended using light colored pans to cook and bake with. Cheesecake is one of the exceptions, a dark pan uniformly absorbs heat.

Thanks for reading Splendid Recipes and More. Before you go I would like to recommend a website for your viewing, the name of the site is: Is it Really a Cake? . You won’t waist your time going there.

Mix N Match Mini Cheesecakes

Crust

1 cup almonds, slices, processed ¼ cup sugar

¾ cup walnut pieces, processed 8 tbsp. butter, melted

1/3 cup flax seed, processed

Heat oven to 350°F

In a small bowl mix crumbs, sugar and butter; press 1/4 cup crumb mixture onto bottom of each of 4 mini (4 ½ inch) spring form pans. Bake for 7 minutes.

Cake

2 8 oz. Cream Cheese, softened

1 tsp. vanilla extract

½ cup sugar 1 tsp. lemon zest

3 eggs

1 cup Greek yogurt

With a food processor; cream the sugar and cream cheese. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing after each addition just until blended. Next add vanilla, lemon zest and yogurt and mix again. Pour 1 cup of the batter into each spring form pans. Bake 40 to 45 minutes or until centers are just set. Run knife around rims of pans to loosen cakes; cool before removing rims of pans. Refrigerate 4 hours or overnight.

 

STIR-IN IDEAS: Divide batter amongst 4 small bowls first; than mix 1 cup portion your chose of the following into each bowl.

1. Apple Pie Cheesecake; Stir in 1/8 tsp. ground cinnamon; pour over crust. Bake as directed. Top cheesecake with combined ½ cup warmed apple pie filling and ½ tsp. brown sugar.

2. S’Mores Cheesecake: Stir in 3 Tbsp. chopped Milk Chocolate; pour over crust. Top with ¼ cup Mini Marshmallows and 1 Tbsp. broken Graham Crackers.

3. Chocolate Chunk Mini Cheesecake: Stir in ¼ cup Milk Chocolate chips.

4. New York Mini Cheesecake: Stir in ¼ cup Sour Cream and 1 Tbsp. flour.

5. Cookies and Cream Cheesecake: Stir in ¼ cup chopped Sandwich.

6. Chocolate Royale Mini Cheesecake: Stir in 2 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted.

7. Peanut Butter Mini Cheesecake: Stir in 2 Tbsp. peanut butter and 1 Tbsp. milk.

8. Mocha Mini Cheesecake: Mix 1 tsp. Instant Coffee granules with 2 tsp. hot water. Stir into batter along with 2 oz. Semi-Sweet Baking Chocolate, melted.

9. Fruit Mini Cheesecake: Bake basic mini cheesecake as directed. Just before serving, top with 1/3 cup favorite pie filling or fruit Jam.

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How to Eat Organic on a Budget

A lot of people tell me they love the idea of organic food and would start eating it in a heartbeat but their budgets simply don’t eating organic on a budget allow it. It’s true that organic food can cost considerably more than conventionally grown food…absolutely. The one glimmer of hope is that there has been a downward pricing trend as organic foods became more popular. Still, the prices aren’t low enough for many people, so how can you eat organic when you’re on a budget?

Here are a few ideas you can start with.

Start with one thing at a time. Going organic doesn’t mean you have to go all or none. Take small steps to where you want to go. I also recommend downloading the EWG (Environmental Working Group) Dirty Dozen list that shows you the produce that is most likely to be grown with the most pesticides, so either avoid those or purchase them organically. The list includes items like apples, bell peppers, peaches, potatoes, blueberries, spinach, celery, strawberries and more. They also keep a list of produce that is least likely be grown with as much pesticide, so you may not have to rush into organic versions of those.

You can get the list or download a mobile app here.

Dirty Dozen App

Buy from farmers markets. There are many organic options at farmer’s markets and they are often more affordable than organic fare found at regular supermarkets. You can search Google for “[your town] farmer’s market” or use the Local Harvest website to find markets in your area.

Cut out expensive, processed foods. While processed foods may seem like a great deal because they save time and they appear to be inexpensive, they often don’t provide a lot in the way of portion size or nutritional value and can really eat up a food budget if you rely on them. Try reducing the amount of processed foods you buy and eat more nutrient dense whole foods. It’s good for the budget and good for your health.

Stock up when things go on sale and then can, dry or freeze it. It’s the same money-saving concept that people have been using for years and you can apply it to organic foods as well. Invest in a food dehydrator, canning equipment and freezer-ready containers, so you can store organic foods for later eating.

Make it a goal to eat a fully local and/or organic meal each week. It’s an idea borrowed from TheDailyGreen.com and it’s a good one. If you just try for one meal, you’ll be making a difference without a lot of cost. Plus, leftovers and extra ingredients can be stretched out to additional meals.

Eat more vegetarian meals. I know it’s scary for some meat lovers, me included, but eating more meatless meals gives you so much more money in the food budget. Or if you’re not ready to do vegetarian, consider using smaller portions of meat in your meals. Try things like stir fries and similar meals where meat is simply an accompaniment, rather than the main focus of the meal.

Pick Your OwnPick your own. Don’t be afraid of a little manual labor. Using “you pick” opportunities allows you save a lot of money and stock up for canning, drying and freezing. You can pick a variety of fruits and vegetables. You can look for you picks in your area by visiting PickYourOwn.org, but do confirm they are organic growers first.

Every little bit helps and the better you get at picking the right foods, the more affordable it can be. And remember, the long term health benefits of eating more naturally will likely save you plenty in health costs in the long run.

Just one thing before you head out and stock up on everything…we should talk about what organic really means and we’ll do that in my next post.

Next post click here: Is It Really Organic and What Does That Mean Anyway?

What Other’s are Saying about Going Organic

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