26 March 2012

Secret Recipe Club: Homemade Fajita Seasoning

I used to love making those layered sand thingys!
It's Secret Recipe Club time! Believe it or not, I have four dishes ready to go on the blog, but have failed in the writing-it-up stage. I seem to have writer's block. Or at least, that's what I'm calling my I'm-too-busy-obsessing-over-house-hunting-to-focus-on-anything-else brain. :) But alas, Secret Recipe Club beckoned and I temporarily came out of my house obsession to make some scrumptious food!

Secret Recipe Club comes around once a month on my blog, but you can check out Secret Recipe Club creations 4 Mondays a month! Are you a blogger interested in joining in the fun? Sign up here!

I have to admit I was quite intimidated when I saw the blog I was assigned: Anne Jisca's Healthy Pursuits! This woman is pretty amazing. She grinds her own flours and her normal kitchen stock is incredible. One day I'll be like her! I drooled over Anne's breads (spelt biscuits, Hearty Harvest Bread, Rye Bread, Spelt Bread), and came thisclose to making her granola bars. I'll definitely have to try out her recipe when I finally decide I'm ready to make granola bars!

So what did I go for? A recipe where I had everything in the pantry! Woot! I love it when that happens! I was also able to tie it into a Double Take with Tabitha. I love multi-tasking recipes! Almost as much as I love spice rubs! So yes, I picked a spice rub-ish. We'll call this one a spice mix :)

All Shook Up!

Homemade Fajita Seasoning

2 Tbsp chili powder
1 Tbsp salt
1 Tbsp paprika
1 Tbsp sugar
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp cayenne
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Combine ingredients in an air-tight container. Two heaping tablespoons is equivalent to one packet.

I modified my fajita seasoning because I was using the crock pot and cooking the chicken directly in chicken broth, so I did not need chicken bouillon. Also, I left out the cornstarch because I wasn't sure how it would hold up in the crock pot. If someone else knows, do let me in on your secrets!

In the future, I would stick to Anne's use of the fajita seasoning rather than going for shredded chicken in the crock pot. Check out her original post for the recipe and directions! Also, I think the mix would make an excellent rub on grilled chicken for tacos. The fajita seasoning has a nice balance of flavors. If you like heat on your fajitas, feel free to double the cayenne and/or red pepper flakes.

The-fajita-seasoning-is-a-hit: 2 votes!

Pulled Chicken Tacos with Queso Blanco, Tomatoes, Lettuce, and Salsa

25 March 2012

Double Take: Crock Pot Saag Paneer

Saag Paneer
Welcome to the fourth week of the month! (-ish. I know, I'm late with my post again. Oh wait, I'm an entire month late! Erm, so yeah, welcome to the fourth week of the month!) That's Crock Pot week in Double Take world! This week we bring you one of my favorite Indian dishes: Palak Paneer (spinach with cheese). One of my coworkers in Germany was from the Kashmir region of India, and she filled me in on the difference between saag paneer and palak paneer. In Kashmir, saag refers to the greens of kohlrabi whereas palak refers to spinach. That really surprised me. I'd always thought they were both spinach. You learn something new every day!

This particular version of palak paneer taught me that I definitely have a favorite style of palak paneer. Some palak paneer dishes are creamy whereas others are all spinach. Guess which one I like. Of course, the creamy one. So. I won't be making this recipe again, but I'm really glad I tried it. I also took the opportunity to teach you how to make paneer. Yum. It's always better than buying it from the store! At least the stores I've shopped at. Have you purchased awesome premade paneer before? If so, let me know where to find it!

I used a Crock Pot liner to help reduce the mess.
Don't use the liner if you plan to use an immersion blender. 

Saag Paneer: Curried Spinach with Fresh Cheese
adapted from The Indian Slow Cooker by Anupy Singla

Homemade Cheese!
2 pounds fresh spinach, washed well (avoid using baby spinach)
2 large yellow or red onions, roughly chopped
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes (if no sugar added tomatoes, add 1 tablespoon sugar)
1 (4-inch) piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
20 cloves (one whole head) garlic, peeled
3-4 serrano peppers, ribs and seeds removed
4 tablespoons ground cumin
1 heaping tablespoon red chili powder
1 heaping tablespoon garam masala (an Indian spice blend available at most grocery stores, or any speciality market)
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
Pan-fried cubed paneer from ½ gallon of milk, recipe to follow
2 heaping tablespoons fenugreek leaves (kasoori methi)
Salt to taste, up to 1 tablespoon


  1. Place 1/2 the washed spinach into the bowl of a 5 quart slow-cooker. You don't need to dry the spinach, or even remove the stems. They get blended in the end. Top with the rest of the ingredients EXCEPT FOR SALT: onions, tomatoes, ginger, peeled garlic, chilies, and spices. Put the rest of the spinach on top. The bowl will be brimming with spinach. Squish it down and put the cover on. It will cook down quickly.
  2. Cook on high for 3 hours (or low for 4-5). Stir once or twice if you're around to get any spinach sticking on the sides from drying out too badly.
  3. Blend until smooth with an immersion blender, or transfer to a blender and puree. Make sure the curry is smooth and well blended. Return the puree to the slow-cooker.
  4. Taste the curry and add salt to taste if needed. Continue to cook on low for another 2 hours. The dish might look done, but the extra cooking allows the flavors to fully develop.
  5. After cooking, add about 12 ounces of cubed fresh or fried paneer to the curry. Add the fenugreek leaves. Turn the slow cooker off, then replace the lid and let sit for about 10 minutes to gently heat the cheese.
  6. Serve with rice, roti, or naan. (Preferably naan, if you're me)
  7. The recipe yields about 10 cups so you will have leftovers for lunch the next day.

Your Crock Pot will be very very full.

Not my favorite way to make saag paneer. I have a recipe (unfortunately I haven't shared it with you yet) that uses one pan and frozen spinach. It takes 30 minutes. I'll be keeping that one on hand and might possibly lose this one. Without a stick blender, this recipes makes a complete mess out of your kitchen. No fun.

However, if you eat the leftovers for breakfast with a glass of V8, you've already had 4 servings of veggies in one meal! Power breakfast!

Oh, I did find garam masala at my local grocery store, but you can find it cheaper at World Market :)

I'll-stick-with-my-other-recipe: 1 vote!

Cheese and spinach with basmati rice.

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