Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Sweet and sour chicken

I love making Asian inspired dishes at home.   Of course, nothing is as quick and easy as pulling up to your local Chinese restaurant, but I'm so hesitant after watching them pour spoonful after spoonful of sugar into a recent General Tso's chicken order.  But this is really fast, really delicious, and way better for you than pretty much anything at your local Chinese takeout!

So when I saw that Stephanie had an Asian inspired recipe on her blog, my ears (figuratively) perked!  And, Stephanie didn't disappoint.  This was delicious with just the right blend of sweet and tang.  It definitely takes some planning to make this a weeknight meal, though; I'm always hesitant when I see an hour's worth of baking time, but it can be done!  All your prep could be done the night before so all you have to do is pop into the oven when you get home from work.

Sweet and Sour Chicken  Source:  Stephanie Cooks

3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

¾ cup sugar
4 tablespoons ketchup
½ cup vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt

Preheat the oven to 325.
1- Cut boneless chicken breasts into chunks. Season with salt and pepper. 
2- Dip chicken in cornstarch and then in egg. Fry in a little oil until brown but not cooked through. 
3- Place in a single layer in a baking dish. Mix sauce ingredients together and pour over chicken.
4- Bake for one hour at 325 degrees, uncovered. Turn chicken every 15 minutes.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Chocolate Surprise Cookies

When you look at these cookies, you probably think they're rich and chocolately and delicious.  You'd be correct.  However, what you can't tell is that there's a gooey marshmallow inside AND the cookie base has an infusion of peanut butter.  That's right--chocolate, peanut butter, AND a gooey marshmallow inside.  I won't tell you that they are addictive.

I found this recipe in the December/January 2013 issue of Cook's Country magazine.  If you're an online subscriber, you can see their recipe here.  Their version makes a LOT, about 5 dozen cookies, so it's perfect for a cookie exchange.  But it's long and sort of complicated, and I don't really know if I'm interested in typing it all out!

Which makes it really nice that Martha Stewart has a similar recipe on her website here.  Martha's version makes 2 dozen, which might be more manageable for those who, like us, were having some fun on a random January snowday.  The ingredients are nearly the same, though the version I made adds 1/2c creamy peanut butter during the sugar/butter creaming process (so you'd probably want a bit less for the smaller proportions in Martha's recipe).

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Orange chicken salad with cranberries

I recently participated in a Clean Eating challenge with some friends on Facebook.  For one week, we tried to eat only "clean" foods, which don't involve anything processed, no added sugar, etc.  Naturally, I turned to Pinterest and sought some clean eating recipes.

This one comes from The Gracious Pantry, a blog which is focused on Clean Eating recipes.  It was great, and my 6 year old asked for it in his lunchbox the next day.  My husband made the meal, and was kind of mad that I didn't just BUY OJ but rather bought a bunch of "the least juicy navel oranges ever grown."  I think, perhaps, the purchase of a citrus reamer may be in order.  I also planned to use the spring mix in the fridge, but my husband found the package had gone bad, so instead used spinach, which was a great and delicious choice!

If you've never tried it, you need to check out how to make shredded chicken in the crockpot.  It's so easy, and I use this method every time I have defrosted then forgotten to use chicken breasts; I cook them up and then freeze the shredded chicken.  Here's just one great way we've used shredded chicken lately. The crockpot method I use most frequently is here.

This salad was delicious and a nice burst of springtime flavor on the exceptionally cold days and nights we've been having here.  The citrus flavors reminded me how long and yet soon our trip to sunny Florida in April is from now!  Next time I make this, I will add some sliced almonds for crunch and a little more flavor!

Orange chicken salad with cranberries, slightly adapted from The Gracious Pantry

Salad Ingredients:

  • 4 handfuls fresh spinach
  • 1 handful shredded chicken
  • 3 clementines, peeled and segmented
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, fruit juice sweetened

Dressing Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil (or any light flavored oil)
  • 1 smidgeon garlic powder (if you don’t have a smidgeon measuring spoon, just a pinch with your fingers will do)
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional if orange juice is not very sweet)
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix the salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Pour some dressing over your salad and serve.  (Keep separate from salad if serving in a lunchbox)

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