Sweet and Sour Chicken

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I have made this twice in two weeks! My picky daughter loves this dinner and can't get enough of the peppers and pineapple :) This is a fairly guilt-free take-out fake-out meal when you consider that Chinese restaurants bread and then deep fry their chicken, this is stir fried instead. Thanks for reading, enjoy! :)

Chinese Sweet and Sour Chicken – adapted from Steamy Kitchen via The Shiksa

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp salt, divided
  • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 can (8 to 10 oz) pineapple chunks in juice (reserve the juice)
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 cup white vinegar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1-2 pinches cayenne pepper (or more to taste– spicy!)
  • 2 tbsp high heat cooking oil, divded (ex. grapeseed, peanut oil)
  • 1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch chunks

Directions – 

    In a bowl, whisk together the egg white, cornstarch, and 1/4 tsp of the salt. Add the chicken pieces and stir to coat evenly. Let sit for 15 minutes at room temperature or up to overnight in the refrigerator.

    Meanwhile, whisk together 1/4 cup of the reserved pineapple juice, ginger, vinegar, ketchup, brown sugar, remaining 1/4 tsp of salt, and 1-2 pinches cayenne pepper (or more to taste–optional).

    Set a wok or large saute pan over high heat. When a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates, pour in 1 tbsp of the oil and swirl to coat. Add the red and yellow bell pepper chunks and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the wok onto a plate. Wipe the wok or pan dry.

    Return the wok to the stove on high heat. When a bead of water instantly sizzles and evaporates, pour in the remaining 1 tbsp of oil and swirl to coat (be sure to fully coat the pan so the meat won’t stick). Add the chicken to the pan, spreading it out in one layer.

    Let the chicken fry, untouched, for 1 minute, until the bottoms are browned. Flip and fry the other side the same for 1 minute. The chicken will still be pinkish in the middle.

    Add the cooked bell peppers, pineapple chunks, and pineapple juice mixture to the pan. Let simmer for about 2 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove from heat. Let the chicken rest for a few minutes till the sauce thickens. Serve over Jasmine rice.

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Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps

lettucewrap
It was one of those days…I had no clue what I felt like making for dinner, and I was unmotivated ( lazy) to go grocery shopping. I wanted something quick and easy that required only what I had on hand. Thankfully, this PW recipe met all those requirements. I thought the flavor was really good and I will make this again! Thanks for reading, enjoy :)

Thai Chicken Lettuce Wraps – adapted from The Pioneer Woman

*I only had one lime that gave me 2 TBSP of juice, so I used half for the marinade and half for the sauce*

  • 2 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (breast Halves)
  • OPTION 1 MARINADE/SAUCE
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Pure Sesame Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
  • Juice Of 2 Limes
  • 1 Tablespoon Minced Fresh Ginger
  • 2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon Cornstarch
  • 2 Tablespoons Honey (or Brown Sugar)
  • Peanut Or Canola Oil For Frying

For the Peanut Sauce

  • 1/2 cup Peanut Butter (crunch/chunky Is Good!)
  • 3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
  • 3 Tablespoons Honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon Hot Chili Oil
  • 1 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
  • Juice Of 2 Limes
  • Water, As Needed For Thinning
  • Romain lettuce leaves
  • 1 whole carrot, julienned
  • 1/2 cucumber, seeded and julienned

Directions -

In a bowl, mix together the rice wine vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, hot chili oil, lime juice, ginger, and brown sugar if using. Whisk it together, then pour off half the liquid into a separate bowl.

Dice the chicken into bite-sized pieces and put them into the bowl you used to make the marinade. Throw in the squeezed lime halves and set this aside to marinate for a bit.

Into the small bowl with the other half of the marinade, whisk in the cornstarch and honey. Set aside.

In a heavy skillet over high heat, pour in a small amount of oil. When it’s hot, add the chicken pieces in a single layer. Let it sit on one side, undisturbed, for about a minute, then stir the chicken around and cook it until it’s totally done, about 3 to 4 minutes.

Reduce the heat to low, then pour in the sauce that you mixed in a separate bowl. Stir it around; the sauce will immediately start to thicken. Cook over low heat for 1 minute, then remove from heat and allow to cool.

Peanut Sauce: To make the peanut sauce, combine all the peanut sauce ingredients, adding water until it gets to a nice drizzle-able consistency. Taste and add more of what it needs: spice, sweetness, etc. Set aside.

Lay our lettuce leaves, add chicken, carrots and cucumber then top with peanut sauce.

Hummus

hummus

This was really easy to make and I enjoyed eating it with lots of raw carrots. Now if I can only get my kids to try it, that would be great! Thanks for reading, enjoy :)

Hummus – adapted from The Kitchn

  • 1 15-oz can of chickpeas, drained
  • 1/2 of a fresh lemon, juiced
  • 1 small clove of garlic, minced finely
  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. tahini
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon finely ground black pepper

Tools

A food processor or blender

Directions -

Combine all ingredients. Blend until smooth. If it is a little dry, just add a little more lemon juice or olive oil, a teaspoon at a time, until you have the desired consistency. Add more salt and pepper if you like. Scrape out the hummus in a serving bowl and sprinkle the sumac on top. Serve with raw veggies, or spread on some pita bread.

Baked Zucchini Fries and Ranch Dressing

This recipe is floating around Pintrest lately. I knew I would have to follow my sister’s lead and serve these alongside hamburgers. These were really tasty and a healthier alternative to fries, and if you haven’t made homemade ranch before, you really should!  It’s fresh, creamy, flavorful, and what makes it even better is that it’s cheap to make and full of ingredients that you can pronounce. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

P.S. I reheated the leftover “fries” in the oven at 350 degrees for about 8 minutes, and they were just as crispy! :)

Baked Zucchini Fries – adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 1/4 cup AP flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (*I forgot to add this, but it would have been a nice addition*)
  • 1 lb zucchini, cut into 4-5-inch sticks

Directions -

  1. Preheat oven to 425 and place a cooling rack in your baking sheet.
  2. Place flour in a large zipper bag.
  3. Whisk eggs with 2 Tbsp water and place in a shallow dish.
  4. Place Panko, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish and mix to combine.
  5. Place zucchini in the bag with the flour and shake until well coated. Dip the zucchini into the egg and then into the panko, turning to coat well.
  6. Place breaded zucchini on the baking sheet.
  7. Bake 18-20 minutes, until golden brown.

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing – adapted from Confections of a Foodie Bride

  • 3/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 3/4 cup Greek yogurt or sour cream
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried chives
  • 1/2 tsp dried dill
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp white pepper

Directions -

  1. Place all ingredients with 1/4 cup of buttermilk in a blender.
  2. Blend for 10 seconds. Check consistency and blend in additional buttermilk if desired. Less buttermilk for dipping, more for dressing.
  3. Store in an air-tight jar in the fridge for a week or more.

Grilled Chicken and Pear Salad

Strange combination for this family, but I decided to try it. Grilled fruit is always a good idea, and I’m hoping these pears don’t disappoint! I recently started ordering produce from a local co-op and it’s been a great motivator to try new recipes. I never buy pears, and honestly wasn’t a huge fan – chalk it up to never eating them as a kid. I’m also hoping that the simplicity of the rest of the dish doesn’t equal lack of flavor…we will soon see.

Verdict: All the components of this salad work together really well. They were all leery of the pear, but tried it anyway. I’m pleased with how it turned out, and most of my family (minus the pickiest eater), enjoyed this. Up next, the cheddar biscuits we ate with this salad! :) Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Grilled Chicken and Pear Salad – adapted from Plan to Eat

  • 1 pound chicken breasts, boneless/skinless
  • olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • pepper
  • onion powder
  • garlic powder
  • 2 pears, cored and sliced
  • 6 cups mixed greens with baby spinach
  • Goat cheese, optional

Vinaigrette

  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ¼ teaspoon honey
  • ¼ cup grape seed or olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper

Directions -

1. Prepare the vinaigrette and place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.

2. Butterfly each chicken breast or pound to an even thickness. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, onion powder, and garlic powder.

3. Grill chicken and pears until chicken juices run clear and pears and soft, warm, and slightly charred.

4. Remove chicken and pears from grill and slice chicken into strips.

5. Plate greens, top with chicken and pears, sprinkle with goat cheese, and drizzle with vinaigrette

Garlic Green Beans

Quick Post: These were so good, (so was the entire meal – roast chicken and garlic rice pilaf linkage). This is such an easy, amazingly flavorful meal and definitely company worthy (not to mention cheap!) It hits all the right buttons! Thanks for reading, enjoy :)

Garlic Green Beans – adapted from A Sweet Pea Chef

  • 1 lb. fresh green beans, stems removed
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter (**next time, I’ll use 1 TBSP**)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp. ground black pepper

Directions:

Steam green beans until slightly tender, about 6-8 minutes.

Melt butter over medium heat in a large skillet. Add garlic and cook 1-2 minutes. Transfer steamed green beans to the melted butter and garlic. Toss to coat green beans evenly and continue to saute for approximately 5 minutes over medium heat.

Soy-Ginger-Lime Chicken with Cilantro-Lime-Ginger Rice

Quick Post: The title is a mouthful! The combination of these two recipes was a hit at my house and it’s healthy, fresh and easy to make. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
Soy-Ginger-Lime Marinade – adapted from Simply Scratch
  •  2 – 3 cloves of Garlic, smashed and peeled
  • 1 large Shallot, peeled and quartered
  • 1 Lime, juiced
  • 3/4 inch of Ginger, peeled, and roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon Honey
  • salt and pepper to taste
Directions:
Combine all ingredients (using a stick blender makes quick work of this). Pour the mixture over the chicken and marinade for at least 4 hours. Preheat grill to medium heat and cook for 6 to 8 minutes per side or until done.
Cilantro, Lime and Ginger Rice -
  • 1 cup uncooked long-grain white rice
  • 1 inch of ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • the zest and juice of one lime
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • kosher salt to taste
  • 4 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro

Directions:

In a a saucepan combine rice, ginger slices, salt and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook on low 15-20 minutes, until rice is tender. Remove from heat. Stir in cilantro and lime zest. Serve warm.

100% Whole Wheat Nut & Seed Bread

Quick Post: This is probably the healthiest bread I have ever made and it tastes  great. I am so glad too, because my last attempt at 100% whole wheat bread wasn’t that good. It baked up dense and the flavor was more bitter, and for those reasons, I decided not to blog about it. This one is so good and next time I will have to double the recipe. White whole wheat is what I always have on hand, and I find that the flavor is milder and less bitter than red wheat flour. You don’t need the KAF bread improver and vital wheat gluten worked as a good substitution. I chose to sweeten mine with honey and my oil of choice was coconut. I love using coconut oil whenever possible in anything that is baked at 350 degrees or less. Thanks for reading, enjoy!
100% Whole Wheat Nut & Seed Bread – adapted from King Arthur Flour
  • 1 1/3 cups (10 5/8 ounces) lukewarm water
  • 3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) coconut oil
  • 5 tablespoons (3 3/4 ounces) honey, molasses or maple syrup
  • 4 cups (16 ounces) King Arthur Premium Whole Wheat Flour or 100% White Whole Wheat flour
  • 1 tablespoon King Arthur Whole-Grain Bread Improver, optional (*I used vital wheat gluten)
  • 1/4 cup (1 1/4 ounces) sunflower seeds, chopped*
  • 1/4 cup (1 ounce) walnuts, chopped*
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons instant yeast

*A quick whirl in the food processor does the job nicely.

To prepare the dough: Combine all of the ingredients, and mix them till you have a shaggy dough. Let the dough rest, covered, for 20 minutes, then knead till fairly smooth. Allow the dough to rise, covered, for about 2 hours, or until it’s puffy and nearly doubled in bulk.

Gently deflate the dough, shape it into a log, and place it in a lightly greased 8 1/2″ x 4 1/2″ bread pan. Cover the pan with lightly greased plastic wrap (or a clear shower cap), and allow it to rise for about 2 hours, till it’s crowned about 1″ to 2″ over the rim of the pan.

Bake the bread in a preheated 350°F oven for 40 to 45 minutes, tenting it lightly with aluminum foil for the final 20 minutes of baking. Yield: 1 loaf.

Doctored-Up Black Beans

Quick Post: I wanted a healthy side for these steak tacos. They’re simple, quick and tasty; not to mention healthy. Even my picky husband who doesn’t like black beans ate some and my son really enjoyed them.  I ate the leftovers served over baked brown rice and topped with a dollop of avocado dressing and some crumbled feta. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Black Beans -

  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed really well
  • 2 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 6 mini bell peppers, diced (or one large pepper)
  • 1 small jalapeno, seeded and diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • kosher salt and pepper to taste
  • lime juice
  • cilantro leaves
Directions:
1. In a medium sauce pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the chopped onion, bell pepper, and garlic and saute until softened. Add the drained and rinsed beans to the pot and smash some with your spoon. Season with cumin, salt and pepper and pour about 1/2 a cup of water over all to thin out the beans slightly. Cook for about 5 to 7 minutes and add your cilantro leaves – taste for seasoning. Serve with a lime wedge and feta (or cojita) cheese. Enjoy!

Strawberry, Banana and Coconut Milk Smoothie

Quick Post: Yum! I tried this new-to-me non dairy milk for the first time last week in this smoothie. When I’m craving something sweet, this is what I make. The coconut milk makes this almost like an ice cream shake, but healthy – even better! It’s rich and creamy without all the guilt :) Whenever I make smoothies I use frozen bananas – it makes all the difference in the thickness. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Strawberry, Banana and Coconut Milk Smoothie -

  • 1/2 frozen banana
  • 5 frozen strawberries
  • 1/2 unsweetened coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup vanilla bean Greek yogurt
Directions -
1. Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Enjoy!