Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year and Trying New Things

Happy New Year!

We had our fun early last night with rounds of Beanboozled and lots of laughter on a chilly evening.  My daughter's friend spent the night, and in true pre-teen fashion they huddled away together upstairs, laughter spilling from her room for hours.  My younger one stayed downstairs with us, an uncontainable ball of energy zooming around the house as he anticipated the coming of the new year.  Though I'd already made an early dinner, as the night wore on I decided to order a pizza for the kids and as it arrived we'd just bundled up and headed outside so they could (briefly) frolic in a short-lived flurry of snow.
The young pizza guy took in the joyful, frenetic scene and just laughed as I met him at his car.

It's about the little moments, though, right?

If there's anything that will make you feel old it's comparing and contrasting the New Year's Eves of your younger days with the New Year's Eves of your mid-thirties!

Not long ago I was cleaning out my closet and found a slinky little top I'd worn one memorable New Year's Eve many (many) years ago.  I stared at it- somewhat nostalgic, somewhat horrified- and finally tossed it in the Goodwill pile.  35 year-old me definitely has no business wearing that top out in public, but- wow- cheers to 20-ish year old me!

This year, as midnight approached, the girls were still giggling and happy inside their little bubble of youth, completely uninterested in those outside of it.  The younger one fought a hard battle to stay awake but was fading quickly- eventually I convinced him that it was ok to fall asleep, contingent upon the promise that I would wake him up for the countdown.  My husband decided that he needed to go to sleep, since he had an early morning at work.  Which left me on my own to watch TV for a bit and fall asleep next to my dozing son- thankfully I'd already told his sister to wake me up for the countdown should I not make it on my own.
The girls had their sparkling cider toast as the clock struck 12- I decided to forgo my prosecco and haul the little guy to bed.

Maybe next year I'll finally have that glamorous NYE on the town to which I keep saying "next year"?
Or maybe not.  There's something pretty wonderful about pj's, fun food, and witnessing the excitement of children.

I always try to cook something fun on New Year's Eve.  Last year it my sushi feast, but this year I went for Indian.
I love the flavors of Indian food, though I'm far from knowledgable when it comes down to it.  I've been trying to broaden my horizons and I decided that this year I'd make it the focus of my New Year's Eve meal.

I didn't want to make anything that would feel too odd to my family.  If I brought spicy flavors and unfamiliar textures to the table my odds of getting my foot in the culinary door would have been fairly slim.

I decided to go with chicken tikka masala, aloo phujia (a potato dish), beef samosas (fried little triangles of goodness stuffed with beef, potato, peas, and lots of flavor), raita (a delicious creamy condiment), and naan.  Everyone loves naan.  I figured a menu that basic with ingredients- if not flavors- they were used to would be safest if I wanted them to eat what I made.

I fully expected to get some upturned noses from my husband and daughter when dinner was ready.
Nope- they raved about all of it.
All of it.
My daughter refused to try the raita, but other than that they both filled their plates and were back for seconds before I was done taking pictures!

My son was a bit of a holdout, but I was under no delusions that he would try any of it anyway with his picky eating habits.  He seemed to enjoy his grilled cheese anyway.  :-)

I was so excited to find a meal that the three of us who ate it all enjoyed, and it definitely opened up new meal planning possibilities for me the future.  Definitely a fun way to ring in the New Year!

1 (.25 oz) pkg active dry yeast
1 C warm water
1/4 C white sugar (I think I might cut this in half next time)
3 Tbsp milk
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
4 1/2 C bread flour
2 tsp minced garlic (optional)
1/4 C butter, melted

1. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water.  Let stand about 10 minutes, until frothy.  Stir in sugar, milk, egg, salt, baking soda, and enough flour to form a soft dough.  Knead for 6-8 minutes on a lightly floured surface, or until smooth.  Place dough in a well-oiled bowl, cover with a  damp cloth, and set aside to rise.  Let it rise 1 hour, until the dough has doubled in volume.

2. Punch down dough, and knead in garlic if using.  Pinch off small sections of dough about the size of golf balls.  Roll into balls and place on tray.  Cover with a  towel, and allow to rise until doubled in size, about 30 minutes.

3. Preheat a grill pan to high heat.  Lightly oil grill. Roll out dough into very thin circles.  Place dough in grill pan and cover with lid.  Cook until puffy and lightly browned.  Brush uncooked side with butter and turn over; cook until lightly browned.  Remove naan from grill pan and continue process for remainder of dough balls.

14 oz plain Greek yogurt
1 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp ground cumin
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl; mix well.

1 C plain yogurt
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp ground black pepper
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger
1 tsp salt, or to taste
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cubed
4 long skewers
1 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 jalapeno pepper, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp salt
8 oz. tomato sauce
1 C heavy cream
1/4 C chopped fresh cilantro

1. In a large bow, combine yogurt, lemon juice, 2 tsp cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, black pepper, ginger,and salt. Stir in chicken, cover, and refrigerate for at least one hour.

2. Preheat a grill for high heat.  Lightly oil the grill grate. Thread chicken onto skewers, and discard marinade. Grill until juices run clear, about 5 minutes on each side.

3. Melt butter in a large heavy skillet over medium heat. Saute garlic and jalapeno for 1 minute. Season with 2 teaspoons cumin, paprika, and 3 teaspoons salt. Stir in tomato sauce and cream. Simmer on low heat until sauce thickens, about 20 minutes. Add grilled chicken, and simmer for 10 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter, and garnish with fresh cilantro.

1 onion, chopped
1/4 C vegetable oil
1 lb potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cayenne powder
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1/4 tsp ground cumin
2 tomatoes, chopped

1. Lightly brown onion in oil in a medium skillet.

2. Add potatoes, salt, cayenne, turmeric, and cumin to skillet.  Cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add tomatoes, cover pan, and cook until potatoes are soft, about 10 minutes.

2 large potatoes, peeled
1 C frozen peas, thawed
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1 bay leaf, crushed
2 large onions, finely chopped
1 lb ground beef
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1 Tbsp minced fresh ginger root
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro
2 Tbsp chopped green chile peppers
1 qt oil for frying
16 oz pkg phyllo dough

1. Bring a medium-sized saucepan of lightly salted water to a boil.  Stir in potatoes and peas.  Cook until potatoes are tender but still firm, about 15 minutes.  Drain, mash together and set aside.

2. In a large saucepan over high heat, heat the oil.  Brown cumin seeds and bay leaf.  Mix in onions and ground beef.  Cook until beef is evenly brown and onions are soft, about 5 minutes.  Mix in garlic and fresh ginger.  Season with black pepper, salt, cumin, coriander, turmeric, chili powder, cinnamon, and cardamom.  Stir in the mashed potato mixture.  Remove from heat and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until cool.

3. Heat oil in a large, heavy saucepan over high heat.

4. Mix cilantro and green chile peppers into the potato and beef mixture.  Place approximately 1 Tbsp of mixture onto each phyllo sheet.  Fold sheets into triangles, pressing edges together with moistened fingers.

5. In small batches, fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Drain on paper towels and serve warm.

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