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 šŸ™‚ 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! šŸ™‚

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.

Brined, Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter

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Yum! This was worth the effort and my neighbors, aka The Guinea Pigs, loved it too. It is way better than your average roast chicken and perfect for company. I prepared two, four pound chickens for dinner and we all enjoyed the white meat. It was the most succulent and tender meat I have ever had – likeĀ buttah! šŸ˜‰ I’m going to use the dark meat for chicken noodle soup once I make the chicken stock with the bones. If there is any meat left, then M can have it for hisĀ fave chicken salad sandwich. I will make this again for my family when I’m feeling extra generous…or I just want really amazing roast chicken. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Brined andĀ Roasted Chicken with Herb Butter – heavily adapted from Ad Hoc at Home via Jun-Blog

Brine:

  • 20Ā cups water, divided
  • 3/4Ā cup Kosher salt
  • 5 TBSP sugar
  • 1 bunch thyme
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 6 cloves garlic, halved at equator
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 2 TBSP peppercorns
  • 2 whole chickens

Herb Butter:

  • 2Ā sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature (freeze the leftover herbĀ butter)
  • 1 TBSP fresh, chopped rosemary
  • 1 TBSP fresh, chopped thyme
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper

*special equipment –

brining bag, or a two gallonĀ Ziploc bag, kitchen string, probe thermometer, roasting pan or half sheet pan

Directions –

Add all the brine ingredients andĀ half the water to a large pot. Bring to boil, and stir to dissolve salt, then remove from heat and chill completely. Once brine is cold, add the remaining water and chicken then refrigerate for 12 hours or overnight.

Meanwhile, prepare the herb butter – in a small bowl, mix together the softened butter and fresh herbs. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Next, remove the chicken from the brine, rinse and pat dry. If you have time, let chickens dry uncovered in the refrigerator for a few hours. Truss chickens and coat generously with the herb butter, (I only used a few tablespoons per chicken). Add salt andĀ pepper to taste and place in roasting pan, insert probe thermometer into the thickest part of one of the breasts. Roast the chicken until the thermometer reads 160-165 degrees, (about 70-75 minutes with my convection roast setting).

Once the desired temperature is reached, loosely cover with foil and let rest for 15-20 minutes. Carve, serve and enjoy!

Panera Mac and Cheese

This is so rich and creamy! The kids loved the mild flavor of the cheeses and already mentioned wanting to eat the leftovers. Hopefully my picky husband will appreciate it – he’s hard to please when it comes to new macaroni and cheese recipes. His absolute favorite is this one, and no other recipe I have tried can hold a candle to it in his opinion!

His verdict: 7 out of 10! I’ll take it – besides, he ate two bowls and happily brought some to work the next day. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Paneraā€™s Stove Top Mac and Cheese – adapted from Annie’s Eats via Panera Bread

  • 16 oz shell pasta
  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, heavy cream, or half-and-half
  • 4 oz white American cheese, chopped or torn into pieces
  • 8 oz extra sharp white Vermont cheddar, shredded
  • 2 tsp ā€“ 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (adjust according to your tastes)
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce (like Frankā€™s)
Directions:
1. In a large stockpot, cook pasta according to package directions.Ā  Drain well.
2. While the pasta cooks, melt the butter in a 4-quart sauce pan over medium heat.Ā  When the butter has melted and has started to bubble, whisk in the flour; cook for 1 1/2 minutes whisking constantly.Ā  Gradually whisk in the milk until no lumps remain.Ā  Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook milk mixture, whisking frequently, until it thickens and bubbles, about 8 minutes.
3. Remove sauce pan from the heat and by the handful, stir in the cheeses allowing all of the cheese to melt into the sauce before adding more.Ā  Stir in the mustard, salt, and hot sauce.Ā  Return the sauce pan to the heat and stir in the pasta.Ā  Be sure to stir up the sauce from the bottom of the sauce pan and thoroughly coat all of the pasta with sauce.Ā  Cook for 1-2 minutes over medium-low heat until heated through.Ā  Serve hot in bowls with spoons.