Friday, January 20, 2012
Progress, Pinewood Derby and a Product Review
Doesn't everyone wear sunglasses to shovel snow at night?
Today brings another baby step in our adoption process! Our wonderful case worker stayed up into the wee hours last night registering us (and our fellow Dillon families) with CARA, the government agency that facilitates adoptions. Thanks to her, we have an official case number with CARA, and are in their system.
Then CARA will be selecting 100 families from outside India to be matched with various orphanages. We don't know if we will be part of that 100, but we are praying that we will! Needless to say, we are thrilled to have heard news twice in January, after such a long dry spell in 2011!
Meanwhile, family life is humming along. My brother Matt helped Nathan create his Pinewood Derby car, which is the fourth year he's loaned his expertise and woodworking equipment. We had a blast on race day, and took Matt out to lunch (another fun part of the tradition).
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And in honor of the cold weather (it was -6 here last night!), I decided to post a good, warm recipe -- and my first-ever product review. The Indian recipes I've experimented with have all been "from scratch" so far. In the interest of branching out -- and for convenience on busy evenings -- I decided to try a pre-made Indian sauce.
I tried the Taj Ethnic Gourmet brand Punjab Saag Spinach Sauce. ("saag" means spinach). One of my favorite dishes is Chana Saag, chickpeas with spinach in a creamy, tomatoe-y sauce, and that's why I chose this particular sauce from their line. It cost $4.25 at the natural food store where I found it, and I found it online for $3.99.
You can add tofu, chicken, shrimp, or cheese, but I mixed it up a little and used chicken and chickpeas. I've been wanting to eat more vegetarian meals, but the rest of my family are meat lovers, so this was my compromise. When I first opened the jar, the tomato aroma was a little overwhelming, and reminded me a little of Chef Boyardee products from my childhood. (Those are not fond memories.) I decided to start cooking the chicken and chickpeas to see if it improved as it cooked -- and happily, it did.
But I still decided to enhance it with a little garam masala and black pepper, and I added some milk to make it creamier. For color, I added some frozen peas as well, and the results were terrific! (Aaron is reading over my shoulder, and says I should say it was "astounding.") Everyone liked it, which is no small feat for a family of five. The only thing they requested was more chicken next time.
If you'd like to try my doctored-up version, here is the recipe:
One 16 oz. jar Taj Ethnic Gourmet Punjab Saag Spinach Sauce
6 oz. water
3 chicken breasts*
One 15 oz. can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3/4 cup frozen green peas
1/4 cup milk or plain yogurt
1/2 tsp. garam masala
black pepper to taste
Mix sauce and water in large skillet. Add chicken, garam masala and pepper and cover; cook on medium heat, turning chicken every ten minutes or so to cook evenly. After 30 min., add chickpeas and green peas. Cook another 15 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked and peas are hot. Use two forks to shred chicken in the pan, and stir in milk or yogurt. Serve over jasmine or basmati rice.
*You can also use frozen chicken breasts -- just increase the cooking time. Chicken should shred easily if it's done; if it's difficult to shred, simmer it longer.