Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken


Easy slow cooker Sesame Chicken is a perfect Asian meal to make when you don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen.  I simply threw in all the ingredients into my slow cooker and set it for a few hours to cook while I relaxed.  The only work done outside of the slow cooker is when you take out some of the sauce and thicken it with some cornstarch in a pan on the stove.   Then once the meal is cooked, you are ready to sit down and dive into a flavorful and delicious meal.

I love using my slow cooker, especially on weekends. I get all the ingredients in the slow cooker and then I walk out of the kitchen and spend some quality time with my family instead of being stuck in the kitchen.  

My kids and husband really enjoyed this sweet, spicy and tender chicken stir fry over a bed of rice.  Each piece of chicken was so full of all the Asian flavors we love.  So next time you want a stir fry... put away that wok and pull out the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

2 1/2 pounds of boneless chicken (breast or thigh meat)
1/3 cup soy sauce (adjust as desired for taste)
1-2 Tbs sambal oelek
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs grated fresh garlic
2 Tbs hoisin sauce
1-2 Tbs brown sugar (adjust as desired to taste)
1 heaping Tbs cornstarch
2 Tbs water
1/4 cup sesame seeds
green onions/scallions as desired
Cut chicken into large bite size pieces.  Place in slow cooker and add the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, sambal oelek, brown sugar, ginger and garlic.  

Cook on high for 3 hours.
Once the chicken is cooked there will be a lot of liquid in the cooker that comes from the chicken. Use a ladle to remove as much sauce from the slow cooker and place it in a pan and heat on high heat.  Mix cornstarch and water to make a slurry and add to heating sauce to thicken it.  Taste sauce and adjust soy sauce for salt or brown sugar if you prefer a sweeter sauce. 

Then add sesame seeds and stir into sauce.  Place thickened sesame sauce back into slow cooker.  Stir with chicken and cook for 30-40 minutes.  Serve over rice with sliced green onions.

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Shrimp and Vegetable Biryani


This Shrimp and Vegetable biryani is a must make dish in my house.  I love to entertain with it because it's so aromatic and  full of bold exotic flavors.  The dish definitely feeds a crowd easily and leaves everyone happy. 

I made this biryani for our Easter Sunday lunch.  My family and I have become a little obsessed with making different kinds of biryani lately and once you get the method down, it's really quite easy to make at home.  

I almost prefer it to making 3-5 different curries as we usually do when I make a typical rice and curry meal.  I only used two pots and a casserole dish so that's much easier for me at clean up time as well.   

When I started cooking the biryani for lunch the aroma filled the kitchen and made it smell fabulous.  My son ran into the kitchen and took a big deep breath.  He was so excited because he loves biryani and could not wait to dig into it. I have to agree... you start to enjoy the meal before it's even made because it is so aromatic and your sense of smell is telling you something good is about to come out of the kitchen.   This biryani made our holiday fun and festive.  We even got to eat eggs with it so it made it perfect for Easter. 

Shrimp and Vegetable Biryani
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer

The Rice:
3 cups uncooked basmati rice (rinsed)
2 dry bay leaves
3-4 cardamom pods
3-4 cloves
2-3 star anise
1 stick (2 inches) cinnamon stick
1 Tbs chicken bullion powder
5 cups cold water

The Biryani Curry:
1 stick margarine
2 medium onions finely chopped
12-20 curry leaves
2-3 pandan leaves

1 piece lemongrass 2-3 jalapeno peppers sliced
2-3 stalks celery sliced
3-4 cups white cabbage sliced 
2 Tbs grated fresh ginger
1 Tbs grated fresh garlic
1 1/2 cups sliced sweet pepper or 2 red/yellow bell peppers
2 cups sliced green onions/scallions
1 cups sliced or julienned carrots 
2 medium zucchini cut in half and sliced
red chili flakes (to taste) 1 tsp turmeric powder
1 (28oz) can diced tomatoes  
1 package Biryani powder
salt and black pepper to taste (if needed)
1/2 up to 1 cup water 
1 Tbs chicken bullion powder-Knorr (if desired)
2 pounds clean (shelled and deveined)
1 cup buttermilk


The  Shrimp 
Step 1: Clean and devein shrimp. Keep shrimp cool until needed. 

Note: frozen shrimp can be defrosted in cold water if needed.   Cleaned shrimp is recommended for easier eating.

Cooking the Biryani Rice: 
Step 2: Rinse rice well in cold water until water runs clear from any starch and rice residue.   Then add the cinnamon stick, cloves, bay leaves, cardamom pods, star anise, chicken bullion powder and water.  Bring to a boil on high heat and then lower to simmer. Stir occasionally so rice does not stick to bottom of pot.   Cook until water is absorbed and rice is not fully cooked.  Remove off heat and set aside until later. 

Tip:  Once the rice has cooled down, I recommend you remove as much of the seeds, pods, sticks and leaves from the rice before layering it into the biryani pan.

Shrimp and Vegetable Biryani Curry:
In a large pan, heat the margarine with chopped white onion, curry leaves, pandan leaves and lemongrass on medium high heat.  Season onions with a little salt. Then when onions start to soften, add sliced cabbage, jalapeno peppers and celery. Again season with a little salt and saute for 3-5 minutes.

Next add the garlic and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.  Then add the red chili flakes, black pepper and turmeric powder. 

Next add the scallions, zucchini, carrots and sweet peppers. Season new vegetables with a little salt and cook for 2 minutes.  Then add the box of biryani mix and the canned tomatoes. Stir well.

Add the water and simmer on medium low.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  Add more chicken bullion powder here for more salt and flavor if needed. Then add the cleaned shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. You only want to partially cook the shrimp at this point because it will finish cooking in the oven.

 Finally turn off the stove and add the buttermilk.  Gently stir to combine well.  Set the curry aside until assembly of the biryani. 

Assembling the Biryani :
In a large casserole dish, add a layer of biryani curry with some of the gravy.  Then layer almost 2/3 of the parboiled rice over the curry.  Repeat with more curry mixture and gravy. 

 Then add another layer of rice (keep about 2 cups of cooked rice for the top layer.  Repeat with more curry.  I kept a few pieces of shrimp to put on the very top layer.  

Tip: the "gravy" in the curry is there to make sure the rice cooks through in the oven and does not dry out.  Make sure you put gravy around the edges of the casserole pan so the the rice on the edge can cook through and does not dry out.  

Note: If you have a little extra curry, that can be warmed and served at the table if desired. 

Finish off with the final layer of rice then top with biryani powder.  The biryani powder is optional only for aesthetics purposes and not necessary for the dish.  Cover the casserole dish in foil and place in a 375 degree oven and bake for 35-40 minutes.  Take out of the oven and gently mix a little to distribute the layers.  Serve biryani hot with cucumber raita or any green salad, boiled eggs, papadoms etc.. Enjoy.   

Note:  Remember when you eat curry or biryani, the cardamom pods, cloves, curry leaves, pandan leaves are meant to be removed as you eat.  They are only there to enhance the flavors of the dish and are not meant to be eaten.  Eating them does no harm, but the flavors are very strong and not pleasant on their own. 


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups

Homemade Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups are a delicious and fun treat that you can make at home with your kids.  My kids are home this week for Spring Break so I had to come up with some fun experiments for us to do in the kitchen together.  They were amazed that we made these fruit roll ups at home and it was so easy.  

My two kids love the store bought fruit roll ups and I have bought them many times as a treat to put in their lunch boxes.  So when I saw that you could make fruit rolls up at home in your own oven, I knew that I had to try making it with the kids.  

Strawberries are becoming abundant in our grocery stores and I got a good deal on several pounds of fresh berries.  I kept some aside just for this project and kept my fingers crossed that it would work.  Well, it worked like a charm!  I had two happy and amazed kids.  They said the homemade fruit rolls up were so much more delicious than the store bought variety.  **High Five** for Mom!

Strawberry Fruit Roll Ups

2lbs fresh ripe strawberries hulled and washed
juice of 1 lemon
1/3 cup of white granulated sugar

Supplies needed:
parchment paper 
baking sheet 17x12

Wash and hull strawberries.  Place in a blender and blend until smooth.   Pour blended strawberry puree into a pot with sugar and lemon juice then bring to a boil. 
Note:  I used a large nonstick saute pan to boil the puree.  I like this type of pan because it keeps the puree from overflowing out of the pan. 

Boil on high for 20 minutes or until puree has thickened and reduced by half.  You must stir constantly the entire time it is on the stove.  Place parchment paper on a 17x12 baking tray and pour puree on to sheet in one even layer.  Make sure to get to the edges. 

Note:  Too thin of a layer will cause the roll up to be "crispy"

Bake in a 200 degree oven for 3 hours.  After 3 hours the fruit roll up will be slightly tacky, but "leathery" looking. 

Allow fruit roll up to cool for 20 minutes.  Next take a pair of scissors and cut around the four edges of the parchment paper to give you a even rectangle to cut out the fruit roll up strips.  

Then cut strips about 1 inch to 11/2 inch from the longer side of the rectangle. Roll each strip up.   Allow to cool to room temperature, then pull apart from the parchment paper and enjoy. 


Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Meatlovers Stuffed Shells Pasta


This Meatlovers Stuffed Shells Pasta is full of lean ground beef, Italian sausage and pepperoni for that meat lover in your life. The shells are stuffed with a ricotta cheese and spinach filling that compliments the sauce deliciously. 

This is one of my family's favorite meals.  It's always requested when we celebrate any special occasion like a birthday or holiday.  I made this for our Christmas Eve dinner and then again recently to celebrate my husband's birthday.    This time around I really made it "Meatlover" friendly by adding three types of meat into the sauce. 

I really love making stuffed shells.  It only takes 5 minutes to stuff the shells and my kids get to help stuff them so it's a good family cooking activity as well.  

This dish was not only for the men in my life; my daughter was right there with my husband and son diving into this "manly" dish!  So, if you have a hungry crowd to feed, think "Meatlovers"!

Meatlovers Stuffed Shells Pasta
Recipe by Ramona from Kitchen Simmer


Meat Sauce:
1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 pound Italian sausage
8oz pepperoni slices chopped
1 large onion chopped
Salt and pepper (to taste)

3 tsp granulated garlic (divided)
2 tsp dried oregano
1-2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste
2 tsp dried basil
1-2 tsp brown sugar (to taste)
1 jar favorite pasta sauce (45oz bottle)

1 cup reserved pasta  

Spinach Ricotta Stuffing:
8oz frozen spinach (defrosted & wrung dry)
32 oz tub of Ricotta cheese (regular or low fat)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

1 tsp onion powder
salt and pepper (to taste)
1/8 of a teaspoon freshly grated Nutmeg

1lb box of large size pasta shells
 8oz of shredded mozzarella cheese

Step 1:  Boil pasta shells in well salted water until 80% cooked.  Reserve 1 cup pasta water.  Drain pasta shells and allow to cool so they can be stuffed.  Separate any shells that have doubled inside one another.  
Step 2:  Brown beef and sausage in a large pot. Season with salt and black pepper and 1 tsp garlic powder.  Then add the chopped pepperoni and onion and brown for 2 minutes.   

Next add the jar pasta sauce and season with 2 tsp garlic powder, dried basil, oregano, chili flakes and brown sugar.  Use the reserved pasta water to rinse out jar of sauce then place sauce on a low simmer and cover with a lid to cook for 20 minutes.  

Step 3:  Defrost frozen spinach and wring dry in a clean kitchen towel.  Season with salt, black pepper, onion powder and nutmeg.  Then add the ricotta cheese and Parmesan cheese.   

Note: You can defrost spinach in microwave.
Step 4: Place a layer of  sauce on the bottom of a casserole dish.  Then stuff each pasta shell with 2-3 large spoonfuls of spinach ricotta filling and lay on top of sauce.  

Once all shells have been stuffed, place remaining sauce on top of all the shells.  If there is extra sauce, leave it to serve at the table for those that like extra sauce.

Step 5:  Finally add the shredded mozzarella cheese.  Cover casserole with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Then remove foil and bake for another 15-20 minutes uncovered.  Serve hot.  Enjoy.  

Copyright: All recipes, content, and images (unless otherwise stated) are the sole property of Kitchen Simmer formerly known as Curry and Comfort. Please do not use without prior written consent. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited.