Menu Plan

Menu Plan | thepajamachef.com

Week of July 27

Monday: pasta leftovers… we went to Maggiano’s on Saturday. getting a free dish to take home is so fun!
Tuesday: free dinner at Pollo Tropical! they’re opening a new location nearby & we were invited to try ’em out the first night. fun!
Wednesday: chicken & kale caesar wraps
Thursday: chicken tacos
Friday: baseball game!
Saturday: grilling out
Sunday: pizza… it’s been on the menu for a few weeks & we haven’t made it yet! oops.

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous #bookclubcookbookCC

Fragrant, rich chicken and chickpea curry incorporates great flavors to make an amazing dish! Serve it over spiced couscous for a special treat. 

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous | thepajamachef.com #thebookclubcookbookCC

Happy Friday! I joined a new blogging group… the Book Club Cookbook Cooking Crew. And guess what! YOU can join us. Camilla of Culinary Adventures with Camilla organized a group of bloggers to read through some great books and make some great recipes inspired by them. We are using The Book Club Cookbook as our guide and inspiration… you can read more about the club on her blog, but here’s the gist. Each month, one blogger serves as hostess to choose a book and a recipe from the cookbook. From there, we can make the chosen recipes OR draw inspiration from the selected book to create a recipe. Camilla is our July hostess and she chose Jhumpa Lahir’s Interpreter of Maladies for our book of the month, and invited us to make curry and lassis with her. At the end of the month, you can win a copy of the cookbook so you can follow along! Go to Camilla’s blog to enter now! :)

On with the recipe though! Have you ever heard of Jhumpa Lahir’s Interpreter of Maladies? I had not, and was surprised when I picked up a copy at my local library. It’s actually a collection of short stories centering on the themes of family, home, marriage, belonging, and more. Many take place in America, but I thought some of the most interesting stories were set in India. You don’t think about adaptations to new life in your own country… this book is just lovely! The first and last stories were my favorites, but they are all good. Have you read this book before? If not, you should pick it up! I highly recommend it.

Food is an integral part to all of the stories, and nearly each one mentioned curry! An Indian classic for sure, with as many variations as there are people. One of the recipes Camilla chose for us to make this month was a hard boiled egg curry. It sounds SO interesting. But Ben hates hard boiled eggs with a passion, so that’s a no go for us [and I don’t think I could eat a whole batch alone]. Instead, chicken curry it is!

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous | thepajamachef.com #thebookclubcookbookCC

This is one of my very favorite curry recipes, and actually is the one that made me love Indian food! Ben and I have made this recipe a handful time over the past few years… it is absolutely delightful each time! Every bite is rich and flavorful, and your kitchen will smell absolutely wonderful while you’re cooking. Ginger! Garlic! Garam masala! Mmm, mmm, mmm. The tomato and coconut based curry sauce is fabulous over the chicken and chickpeas and plump, juicy raisins… and the flavors are magnified since it’s not just served over regular ‘ole rice, but instead over a spiced couscous that is just bursting with more raisins and rich spices. Yes, it’s a lengthy recipe with quite a few ingredients… BUT it is oh-so-good. A great dish for company, a great dish to make on a relaxing night at home. It’s just as fantastic as anything you could get at a restaurant, but easy to make at home with accessible ingredients too. Make it this weekend! :) Enjoy!

Indian Spiced Peas | thepajamachef.com

And oh! If you’re looking for an easy side dish to serve with this, try these easy Indian-spiced peas. No real recipe… just mix together a teaspoon or two of coconut oil, a 10 ounce bag of frozen peas, and a teaspoon each of curry powder and garam masala in a skillet. Cook over low heat until hot, then mix in a about a 1/4 cup of coconut flakes. Ahhhmazing! Next time I might toast the coconut to make it even better. Yum!

one year ago: Ginger Ice Cream
two years ago: Mom’s Potato Salad

three years ago: Mediterranean Feta Dip
four years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies
five years ago: Big Thumbs Up Bite Size Soft Pretzels –> yes! my blog is FIVE! :)

Indian-Style Chicken Curry with Chickpeas and Raisins over Spiced Couscous

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 60 minutes
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from Jenna’s Everything Blog – go to either post for great step by step photos if that’s your thing!

Ingredients:

for curry

  • 2 tablespoons curry powder [I used a sweet curry powder]
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 4 tablespoons canola oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 serrano chili, minced – remove seeds to reduce heat… or not, your call
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 1/4 cups chicken broth
  • 1 – 15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts [I’ve also used chicken thighs]
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

for couscous

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 teaspoon garam masala
  • 3 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Harvest Grains Blend [I forget what size it is…about 18 or 20 ounces I think] — can also substitute 1 pound Israeli couscous plus a couple tablespoons quinoa and orzo — or an equivalent amount of rice [I’ve made it all three ways!!]

Directions:

Set a small skillet over medium heat. Pour in curry powder and garam masala, then stir constantly for about 1-2 minutes to toast spices, until fragrant. Remove from heat and transfer to a bowl.

In a Dutch oven or other large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over medium high heat. When hot, add onions and season with salt. Stirring occasionally, cook for about 15 minutes until onions are browned and caramelized. If you have you more time, cook the onions on medium-low heat for a longer amount of time to caramelize them more. But either way works!

After onions are cooked to your liking, add garlic, ginger, and chili pepper. Stir and cook for about a minute, then add in toasted spices and tomato paste. Pour in the chicken broth and crushed tomatoes, stirring to mix everything up. Add chickpeas, chicken, and raisins. Make sure the chicken is submerged as much as possible. Bring to a simmer, then cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until chicken is just about done.

Meanwhile, prepare couscous while chicken is cooking.

In a saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook for about 5-6 minutes, until soft. Stir in garam masala, cooking for about 30 seconds until fragrant. Add chicken broth, butter, and raisins. Stir and bring to a boil. Add couscous [or other grain], bring to a boil again, and cook for about 10-15 minutes until fully cooked. Liquid should be absorbed but exact time depends on what grains you use. Season to taste with salt or additional garam masala then set aside to serve with curry.

When chicken is fully cooked, remove to cutting board and chop it up into bite-sized pieces. If the chicken isn’t fully cooked, it will finish cooking in the sauce.

Return chicken to pot, then stir in coconut milk and peas [if using]. Cook for about 5 minutes, then add in half of the cilantro.

Serve curry over couscous, with additional cilantro on top. Enjoy!

SRC: Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad

This orzo pasta salad is filled with all of my favorite flavors… dijon mustard, balsamic vinegar, tomatoes, basil, and garlic. Simple and sophisticated, this dish can fill all your summer party needs!

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | thepajamachef.com | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

Ben and I moved to a new house this spring. Though we’re still in Nashville, we are on the other side of town, and as such, have had to get used to new everything. New grocery stores, new commutes, new running paths(!!!), new neighbors… and a new farmer’s market. Our local market is only a couple years old, and as such, is still pretty small. BUT size does not equal quality. Quality > quantity, ya know? Last weekend at the market, I couldn’t resist ALL the lovely tomatoes that have started to pop up. They’re juicy and sweet and oh-s0-pretty. And what better dish to celebrate summer tomatoes than a pasta salad?

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | thepajamachef.com | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

This orzo and tomato pasta salad comes together, as its name implies, with a fantastic dijon-balsamic dressing. It’s funny, I found this recipe on Heather’s blog, Join Us, Pull Up a Chair. She’s my Secret Recipe Club assignment for the month of July… and her family didn’t care for the salad very much due to the tanginess of the dressing. But I made it anyway. HA! I read the recipe before the blog post so that explains it. And the dressing was tangy, for sure. I adjusted the proportions a little but the balsamic and dijon flavors are pretty prominent and strong. If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add some honey. Ben and I thought it was perfect, a great pairing with the sweet tomatoes and fresh basil. MMM!

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad | thepajamachef.com | #summer #tomatoes #salad #secretrecipeclub #healthy

One of the reasons I love participating in the SRC is getting to check out the blogs of other foodies. There’s always SO many good recipes to choose from. Heather started her blog several years ago as way to organize all her recipes because they were taking over her office. I can relate to that! Some of the other recipes I found on her blog that I can’t wait to try include snickerdoodle biscotti, Kung Pao chickpeas, cranberry hootiecreeks [what an awesome name for a cookie!], and cranberry vanilla shortbread cookies. If any of those recipes sound up your alley, be sure to check out Heather’s blog! I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do. And don’t forget to make this dijon balsamic orzo salad, stat! Enjoy!

one year ago: Spicy Peanut Noodles with Kale and Edamame
two years ago: Ginger Banana Waffles
three years ago: Minty Asian Slaw
four years ago: Lemon Crinkle Cookies

Dijon Balsamic Orzo Salad

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Time: 30 minutes
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slightly adapted from Join Us, Pull Up a Chair

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces orzo pasta [another small shape would work too]
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, quartered
  • 1 – 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced [if you really like garlic… if not, use 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder]
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, cut into a chiffonade

Directions:

Cook orzo according to package directions. While orzo is cooking, toss tomatoes and chickpeas together in a medium bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, vinegar, mustard, oregano, and garlic. When pasta is cooked, drain and then place in bowl with the tomatoes. Stir together, then pour dressing and toss to coat. Season with pepper to taste, then stir in basil or use as a garnish.

If the dressing is too tangy for your taste, add more extra virgin olive oil, or add some honey.

Salad tastes great warm, at room temperature, or cold. Also, it doubles easily! Add other veggies or some cheese if desired.

Click below for more recipes from this month’s edition of the Secret Recipe Club!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

A luscious, creamy baked pasta with crisp bacon, succulent fresh corn, a pop of sweet blueberries, and a crunchy topping made out of a surprise ingredient. Intrigued now?

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comAt my house, you can’t go wrong with baked pasta. Ben and I can eat an embarrassingly large portion of baked pasta at a single meal. Then after it’s wrapped up for the fridge, we are constantly opening it up and using a fork [or our fingers, sorry Mom] for another bite. There’s just something about baked pasta. From looking at the title of this recipe, Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta, you’ve probably surmised that there’s at least something a little unusual with this pasta dish. Bacon and ricotta… pretty standard fare for Italian food. Blueberries? Now that’s a little odd, but it’s summer so sometimes berries creep into weird places. But then you look at that photo and you’re like, wait… is that oats? On pasta? Ummm, what’s going on? Well, that my friends, is granola. Granola?!?! Well, yes. That’s what my husband said too. Ha!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comI developed this recipe as my entry in the Golden Girl Granola Blogger Recipe Challenge. When I first received the package of Bluesberry Granola I planned to use it in a breakfast dish, such as french toast or breakfast quesadillas, or the like. But it’s a contest, and I figured everyone would do that. So I did something different! And guess what? It worked!

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta | an easy, cheesy baked pasta with a surprise topping! Find the recipe on thepajamachef.comThe sweetness of the blueberry, almond, and coconut granola [which is SO delicious, btw] is cut by the salty bacon, creamy ricotta, and the freshly grated Parmesan cheese mixed into the topping. I also mixed in some fresh sweet corn since I can’t get enough of that in the summertime, and a handful of herbs from my garden. Perfection on a plate! This isn’t your average pasta dish… it’s even better! Hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

one year ago: Coffee Blondies
two years ago: Pineapple Cream Pie
three years ago: Grandma’s Blueberry Muffins
four years ago: Linda’s Caramel Ritz Bits Crackers

Baked Bacon-Blueberry Ricotta Pasta

  • Servings: 6
  • Time: 40 minutes
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Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces pasta* [I used Trottole, a curly, thick, corkscrew shape but any small pasta would do]
  • *1 cup reserved pasta water
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • 15 ounces part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup corn [frozen or fresh]
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, minced
  • a small handful of fresh basil, minced
  • a small handful of fresh lemon thyme
  • white pepper
  • sea salt
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 cup Bluesberry Granola – from Golden Girl Granola
  • 5-6 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 10 inch round casserole dish with cooking spray and set aside.

Bring a large pot of water to boil and cook pasta to al dente according to package directions.

Meanwhile, cook bacon until crisp, then drain on a paper towel. Chop when cool.

Then, stir together ricotta cheese, corn, blueberries, rosemary, basil, and lemon thyme until combined. [If you don’t have these herbs, substitute about 1/4 cup fresh herbs of choice, or ~1 teaspoon dried herbs.] Season with white pepper and sea salt, then taste and adjust seasonings as necessary. Then add egg and bacon and stir again.

When pasta is finished cooking, reserve 1 cup pasta water, then drain pasta. Fold pasta into ricotta mixture, adding reserved pasta water in 1/4 cup increments until sauce evenly coats pasta. Spoon pasta into prepared casserole dish.

In a small bowl, gently crush granola with the back of a wooden spoon until just broken down. Mix in Parmesan cheese, then sprinkle mixture over pasta. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until heated through. Serve immediately.

Disclosure: Golden Girl Granola sent me one bag of granola of my choice for the purposes of participation in this recipe challenge. I received no further compensation and was not asked or paid to publish positive comments. Please check them out on Facebook and Twitter. You can also find their products in various stores on the east coast. Thank you for the chance to try your granola!