Monday, July 20, 2015

Chicken Tikka Masala

Chicken Tikka Masala



1 to 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut in thin strips
1 large onion, diced

2 Tablespoons butter or ghee
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece whole ginger, peeled and grated
1 to 2 tablespoons garam masala 
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon curry powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 can (4 oz.) tomato paste
1/3 cup labne (can substitute 1/2 cup whole milk Greek yogurt)

2 tablespoons milk
1 Tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped 
Cooked rice, to serve 


  1. Stir together garam masala, salt, curry paste, and paprika in a small bowl. Place flour in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken pieces with 2 teaspoons of the spice mixture and roll them in the flour. (Reserve the remaining spice mix).
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Cook the chicken until browned, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate.
  3. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon butter in the pan over medium-low heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and cook, stirring frequently until they start to brown and become soft. Add the remaining spice mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add the tomato paste and tomatoes back to the pan. Bring to a simmer, until the onion and chicken are tender, another 3 to 5 minutes.
    Labne is a thick and creamy cheese with the sourness of yogurt, yummy!
  4. Reduce the heat to low/medium and stir in the labne. Add the chicken and any accumulated juices to the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook over medium-low heat until the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Somali Restaurant Rice Redux

If you've followed my previous blog, Livin' In Layla Land, you know that in addition to being into fitness, I'm also really into languages and cultures.
I learned Somali from my co-workers and friends when I lived in Minneapolis, and a nice side benefit is that I got to eat a lot of Somali food!

The first time I celebrated Ramadan with my dearest Somali friends, their sister Ismahan taught me how to make Somali rice. Now, there are a number of different recipes, the most traditional uses liquid from cooking goat soup bones to flavor the meat, but some less traditional options use chicken broth or even bullion.

If you go to a Somali restaurant, you'll probably also notice that some of the grains are orange. Traditionally, saffron was used to give the rice this color, but sadly most places today use orange food coloring.

The best recipe for restaurant-style rice is from the Somali Recipes blog, and it even comes with a video. Now, for my own variation, I've played around with the amount of oil and feel that you can definitely reduce it quite a bit without significantly affecting the taste.

The key to good flavor, in my opinion, is to saute onion in the oil before adding the other spices and raisins, and to use enough cilantro and garlic. I prefer an MSG-free bullion so my recipe uses Better Than Bullion instead of Maggi. Here's a funny post about the overuse of Maggi in the Middle East.

Without further ado, here's the recipe:
2 Cups of Rice, washed and drained (don't skip this step)
1 Onion, diced
4 Cups of Water (set on to boil)
2 Cloves of Garlic, crushed
2 Tablespoons of Cilantro (crushed, I always keep some pre-crushed in the freezer)
3 Cardamom Pods (crush with a mortar and pestle)
1 Teaspoon of Cumin Powder
1 Teaspoon of Salt
1/4 Cup of Oil
1/4 Cup of Raisins
1 Teaspoon Better Than Bullion
1 Teaspoon of saffron or ¼ tsp. turmeric

1. Set the water on to boil.
2. While waiting for the water to boil, smash the garlic, cilantro and cardamom seeds.
3. In a pan on high, heat the oil and saute the onion.
4. Add the chicken cube, salt, cumin, cilantro, garlic, cardamom seeds and raisins. Cook until the raisins puff up.
5. Add the drained rice and stir well for 2 minutes.
6. Add the boiling water and give it a quick stir making sure all the rice is in the water and none is stuck to the side of the pan.
7. Cook on medium/high until most of the water is gone.
8. Transfer the rice to a crockpot and put it on warm with the lid on (Many people use the oven on 275 instead, but I think the crockpot is easier for serving purposes).
9. Sprinkle the saffron or turmeric on top of the rice, do not stir.

Wait at least 10 minutes to serve so the rice finishes steaming in the crock pot.
This is an excellent dish to bring to a potluck or family gathering!
It’s amazing served with Chicken or Beef Suqaar or even your favorite curry.

Thanks to my other white Somali sister at Somali Recipes for the inspiration!

As a final step, use your Beachbody Portion Containers to measure your rice for best effect!  It should count as 1 yellow and 1 orange.

Coconut Flour Zucchini Coffee Cake


·         3/4 cup coconut flour (I buy mine at Costco)
·         1/2 tsp. baking soda
·         1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
·         1/2 tsp. salt
·         1 Tbsp. cinnamon
·         1/2 tsp. nutmeg
·         4 eggs
·         1/4 cup sugar or Truvia baking blend
·         1 1/2 cup finely shredded zucchini
·         1 ripe banana, mashed
·         1 Tbsp. oil
·         1/2 cup walnuts (Optional)

Optional Topping Ingredients:
·         1 Tbsp. butter
·         2 Tbsp. brown sugar
·         1 Tbsp flour of choice
·         1 Tbsp almond flour (I buy mine at Trader Joe's)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Grease a pyrex dish or baking pan. (I would recommend 8in round, 8x8 square, or 11x7). If you use a 9/13 you will need to reduce the baking time for a thinner cake.
  3. Shred your zucchini finely and squeeze to remove excess water. 
  4. Mix dry ingredients except Truvia together in a large bowl.
  5. All the eggs, Truvia, and other liquid ingredients to the zucchini in another bowl and mix well. ,
  6.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet, then add the apple cider vinegar, and stir until the batter is smooth, but don’t overmix.
  7. Stir in the nuts, if using.
  8. Make the topping by softening the butter slightly, then mix in the brown sugar and flours until mixture forms small clumps. If topping is too sticky, add more flour until the right consistency is formed. If it is too dry, add a few drops of milk.
  9. Pour batter into your greased loaf pan, sprinkle topping on, and bake for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick or knife inserted into the center comes out clean.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Coconut-chia pancakes

1/4 cup coconut flour
1 tbsp chia seeds
1/8 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup milk of your choice
2 tbsp butter
3 eggs
1-2 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp vanilla or almond extract
Serve with maple syrup to taste

1. Mix coconut flour, chia, and baking soda together in a small bowl, set aside.

2. Thoroughly mix the eggs, melted butter, and honey together.

3. Add the coconut milk and vanilla extract.

4. Add in the dry ingredients. Mix them, but be sure not to overmix or your pancakes will be tough.
    The consistency should be similar to regular pancakes, but will not look bubbly.

5. Prepare your griddle or skillet just as you would with regular pancakes.

6. This batter doesn’t form bubbles on the top, so carefully check the underside of the pancakes
    before flipping them. They are also a little bit more brittle than your typical pancakes.