Chinese Honey Chicken

I made this for the first time along with my fried rice and it’s one I will make again!  When I first read the recipe I thought it was going to be very involved, but turned out so easy. Next time I’m making a double batch!

1 ½ lbs or more  boneless chicken breasts – cut or sliced in pieces.

In a large bowl combine the following ingredients for the batter.  Let it sit in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes before adding your chicken:

  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¼ cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg and 1 egg white
  • I also added some crushed hot peppers for some heat – this is optional

Heat some vegetable oil in a deep pan or wok to about 350 degrees.  Fry the chicken pieces and drain on a paper towel.  Set aside while you make your sauce.

Sauce:

  • 1 ½ tablespoons oil
  • 2 teaspoon ginger – minced (I used dried ginger but I think my chicken would have had more flavor with fresh)
  • 3 tablespoons garlic – minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • ½ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 teaspoon water)
  • Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Heat oil in your pan or wok. Add garlic and ginger and stir for 30 seconds. Add salt, honey, vinegar, and water. Mix well. Combine 1 teaspoon of water with 1 teaspoon of cornstarch. Add to the sauce and Simmer for about 2 minutes.

Toss chicken in the sauce and sprinkle with sesame seeds. (There’s no sesame seeds on mine because I didn’t have any, next time I will)….. Enjoy!

Appetizer’s Anyone?

I made 2 appetizers this year for Thanksgiving day and I think they were pretty much winners!  A few things I might do a little different, but then again when I cook I am always adding and tweaking my recipes.

This first appetizer is very easy and pretty fast:  Fried avocado’s

  1. I first slice avocados into slices.  Salt, pepper and garlic powder both sides and a little cayenne powder if you want a little kick.  I didn’t do this the first time I made them but next time I will for added flavor.
  2. In one bowl I whisked 2 eggs and a little lemon juice
  3. In a second bowl I mixed Panko Bread Crumbs with salt, pepper and cumin
  4. Dip each avocado in the Panko, then egg mixture and back to the Panko.  Fry in heated oil until brown. Sprinkle salt and pepper over them while still hot.  Drain on a paper towel.

I served this with a mixture of mayonnaise and finely chopped cilantro for dipping.  Next time I think I’ll substitute the mayo with sour cream and add a little hot sauce.  Also Salsa would be good to dip them in!

My second appetizer was Crab Stuffed Mushrooms:

 First remove the mushroom steams and the insides until you have a little bowl.  Reserve the stems for the stuffing.  I made 16 mushrooms here.  I had enough stuffing for a lot more but ran out of mushrooms, so buy extra just in case.  Place in a baking dish and set aside.

Stuffing:

  • 2 tablespoons of butter and olive oil
  • 1/2 red onion finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • Mushroom stems finely chopped
  • Parsley and Thyme (you can use fresh italian parsley and fresh thyme or dried)
  • about a cup of chopped crab meat (this really depends on how much you love crab)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (Make this Gluten free and make your own out of gluten-free bread)
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese

In a pan melt your butter and oil, add the onions, garlic, mushroom stems and parsley and Thyme. Saute until onions are cooked.  Add the crab and bread crumbs.  Mix well.

Fill your mushrooms heaping tall.  Grate parmesan cheese on top.  I poured a little water in the bottom of the baking dish to keep mushrooms moist. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Option:  Add chopped bacon in your stuffing or sprinkle on top with the cheese before baking.  I haven’t tried this but what doesn’t taste good with bacon!  Enjoy!

Cauliflower and Brussels Sprout Gratin

If you’re a Food Network watcher like I am, then I’m sure you watch the Barefoot Contessa – aka Ina Garten.  She is one of my favorite chefs.  She turns the simplest ingredients into easy wonderful dishes!

I made her Cauliflower and Brussel Sprout gratin and of course changed it up a bit to make it my own.  This is a perfect side dish that goes with anything!  It’s not too late for Thanksgiving….. it would go great with Turkey!  Thank you Ina..this recipe is a keeper!

  • 3/4 head of cauliflower, cut into large florets
  • 3/4 lb of brussels sprouts, trimmed, and quartered lengthwise through the core
  • 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 cups warm milk  (I heated mine up in the microwave for about 40 seconds)
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • a pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup for topping
  • 1/4 cup Panko bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Cook the cauliflower in a large pot of boiling saltwater for 5 to 6 minutes, until tender but still firm. Drain. Throw the cooked cauliflower into a bowl of ice water to stop them from cooking any further.  Bring the pot back up to a boil and put in the quartered brussels sprouts and cook for 3-4 minutes.  After the brussels sprouts are done, throw them in the bowl with the cauliflower.  When completely cool, drain and set aside.

For the sauce: Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Add the flour, stirring constantly with a whisk for a few minutes. Pour the warm milk into the butter-flour mixture and stir until it comes to a boil. Turn heat down and add the parmesan cheese and whisk until thicken. Take off the heat and add 1 teaspoon of salt, the pepper and nutmeg.

Pour 1/3 of the sauce on the bottom of an 8 x 11 baking dish. Place the drained cauliflower and brussels sprouts on top and then spread the rest of the sauce evenly on top. Combine the Panko bread crumbs with parmesan cheese and sprinkle evenly on top . Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the gratin. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the top is browned.

Enjoy !

Goldfish Crackers

I bet you never thought you could make these yummy little crackers.  Not only are they easy but I bet you have all the ingredients already at home.

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
  • 8 ounces grated cheese (I used sharp, but you can use medium or mild)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons of water

In a food processor, pulse your flour, salt and pepper, add your cubed butter and pulse until the mixture looks like coarse meal.   Start adding your grated cheese a little at a time until it looks like coarse meal again.

Start adding your water 1 tablespoon at a time while pulsing, until the dough forms into a ball.

I then wrapped the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate.  1 hour or 2 is probably fine but I left mine in over night.

Roll small portions of the dough at a time in between two pieces of wax paper, keeping the extra refrigerated.   Roll to about 1/8 inch thick.  If your dough is too thick your fish won’t be as crispy.  If it’s too thin, they won’t puff up as much.  I made my own fish cutter using a tin can.  You can also just cut in squares using a pastry cutter and they will look more like cheez-it crackers.  I have some mini christmas cookie cutters, so for the holidays I’ll have christmas shaped crackers.

Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 to 15 minutes.  Depending on your oven, start checking them after about 10 minutes.  While still warm after taking them out I sprinkled a little salt over them. Let cool and store in a sealed container.  Enjoy!

 

Crock Pot Chicken

Wow…nothing could be easier.  This was my first attempt at cooking a whole chicken in a crock pot.  I put it in this morning at 9:00 am and at 5:00 pm it was ready.  In fact it all fell off the bone and was so tender and juicy.  There was loads of juice that made tons of gravy!  Perfect for a cold night after a busy day!

First combine spices in a bowl for the rub.

  • 3 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper

Clean your chicken and remove giblets and neck.  Rub spice mixture all over the chicken.  At this point you can seal it in a bag and let marinate over night.  But if you don’t have the time you can skip this. Dice up 1/2 onion and put at the bottom of the crock pot.  Place spiced chicken on top of onions.  There is no need to add any liquid.  As your chicken slow cooks you will be amazed on how much juice you will end up with.

Slow cook on low for about 8 hrs.  You can use a thermometer to check to see if your chicken is done.  It should read 180 deg.  Or even simpler, wiggle a leg and if it’s loose, it’s done!

Serve with your choice of vegetables and mashed potatoes.  Enjoy!

Hearty Beef Stew

It’s getting colder out and the holidays are just around the corner.  That means for me a nice hot bowl of homemade stew in a rich savory brown gravy.  This will guarantee to warm you up inside and out.  Although it takes almost all day to cook, it’s so worth it.  The smell alone throughout your house will make you instantly hungry!

The type of meat is most important. Please do not waste your time buying the already cut up stew meat.  I buy the chuck pot roast.  Cooking it for about 4 hours not only brings out the flavor but will make it so tender it falls apart in your bowl.

You’ll want to cut your pot roast in chunks.  Remember to leave on some of the fat.  This is where all the flavor is at!!!

Many people don’t realize this or are afraid to ask, but most grocery stores have butchers that will help in any way from cutting your meat up, deboning a chicken or even helping you decide what to make for dinner.  It’s free service to you so take advantage of it!

For one big pot of stew this feeds about  3 to 4 people:

  • 3 lbs of pot roast cut up in chunks
  • 1 large onion – cut up
  • 2 to 3 garlic cloves – minced
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 cups beef broth
  • 2 celery stalks – chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • salt and pepper to taste.
  • 2 to 3 diced carrots
  • 4 to 5 potatoes – peeled and cubed

Pour a little olive oil in a big pot and heat up.  Add meat and onions.

Saute until meat is brown and onions are cooked.  Stir in garlic.  Do not drain the fat!

Add about 1/3 cup of flour directly on the meat and stir until meat is well coated and very little liquid is left.

Add the beef broth, celery, bay leaves, Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper.  Cover and let simmer for at least 4 hours.

Add carrots and potatoes, (add about a cup of water for more gravy) cover and simmer until vegetables are tender.  Don’t forget to pick out the bay leaves before serving.

Enjoy!

Banana Apple Bread

What better way to use up old bananas then to make banana bread.  I also had some apple filling left over from another recipe and added that to the batter for a great combination.  There wasn’t a ton of apple flavor but it sure made for a moist bread!

I know most people know this but for those who don’t, I put my black bananas in the freezer until I’m ready to bake with them.  I also decided instead of your standard loaf pan, I would use a bundt pan…just to be different.  The only problem was I added a sugar and cinnamon crumble on top before baking and forgot the top was actually going to be the bottom….but you know what…it still was great, the added flavor was just on the bottom instead of the top.  I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again!

  • 4 very ripe banana’s
  • 1 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter – softened
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 deg. grease loaf or bundt pan. In a large bowl mash your bananas with the sugar. beat in your eggs and vanilla.  Mix in your flour, baking soda and salt until well blended.  Stir in your chopped apple filling.  You can also add nuts if you want.

I then mixed 1 tablespoon soft butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1 tblsp flour and 2 tsp. cinnamon.  Mix well and crumble on top of your bread.

Bake for about an hour. Enjoy!

Easy Sliders

I turned an easy hamburger night into something extra special by making bite size sliders (this way you have room for more than one).

The bun is the most important part.  First you don’t want it to fall apart when you bite into it.  I found that toasting it will help it stay together better..  You also don’t want a heavy bun, you want to taste the inside more than the outside.  I bought some Jalapeno cheddar rolls that were the perfect size and texture.

Try not to go with your typical mayonnaise, mustard and ketchup.  I like using mashed avocados and ranch dressing. Try cream cheese, barbecue sauce,  salsa or even a fried egg!   The right combinations will make a perfect burger!

There’s also a technique in building your burger.  Never start with your lettuce and then tomatoes then pickles, they will slide off as soon as you take a bite.  Always end with your lettuce.  A good burger isn’t always what you put on it …it’s how you build it!

The slider pictured here starts off with a toasted jalapeno cheddar roll cut in half.  Mashed Avocado on one side of the bun and ranch dressing on the other.  I grilled a plain beef patty and melted pepper jack cheese on it. Top that with tomato, pickles, red onion, bacon and lettuce.

Now you have something so easy but so good! Enjoy

Orange Chicken

If you’re a lover of Orange Chicken, you will love this!  I recently saw a recipe on pinterest but was a little skeptical on the recipe.  After reading the comments I searched the internet and came up with this.  So glad I used orange zest instead of orange juice concentrate.

Thoroughly mix 1 egg white, 1 tsp. salt and 1 tsp sugar. Add cut up chicken pieces (about a pound) and let marinate while you cook the orange sauce.

Combine in a bowl:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/8 cup rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons seasame oil
  • hot pepper flakes

Set your sauce mixture aside.  In a pan heat up a couple of tablespoons of oil.  When oil is hot add 1 tablespoon of orange zest and a tablespoon of chopped green onions. Only cook this for about 30 seconds, you don’t want to burn the orange zest.  Add your sauce mixture stirring frequently until thick.  About 15 minutes.  Keep this on low while you fry your chicken.

Heat oil in another pan.  Dredge your marinated chicken in cornstarch. (tip: shake chicken and cornstarch in a zip loc bag for easy clean up) Fry until golden brown and drain on a paper towel.

Mix with your thicken sauce and serve immediately.  Goes great on white rice or fried rice on the side.  Enjoy!

Stuffed Chicken Thighs

So you have chicken thighs thawed out for dinner but not sure what to do with them?  Summer is over so barbecuing is out.  It’s dinner time and everyone is hungry.  Why not make a quick stuffing and bake them in the oven.  I gave it a try and this is what I came up with.  Even though I used thighs instead of breasts knowing it would be moister and have more flavor, I made a quick gravy from the drippings after it was cooked.  The end results with a side of sauted red potatoes and some green beans, YUMMY!

In a small fry pan cook about 2 to 3 slices of bacon until crisp and crumble.  Remove from pan and cook in the bacon grease until soft the following:

  • 1 chopped celery
  • 1/2 chopped onion

Remove the pan from the heat and add 3 tablespoons of chicken broth, 1/4 tsp. poultry seasoning, 1 cup of italian style bread crumbs, small handful of grated parmesan cheese and pepper.  Stir until throughly mixed.

Pound your chicken thighs thin and spoon in about 2 tablespoons of the mixture.  Roll them up and secure with toothpicks.  Place stuffed thighs in a greased casserole dish.  Brush the top with melted butter and sprinkle with garlic salt.

Bake at 450 degrees for 5 minutes and then turn your oven down to 350 degrees and finish baking for about 45 minutes or until chicken is done.  Remove the chicken to a serving dish (don’t forget to remove the toothpicks).  I place the casserole dish with the drippings directly on my stove and add a little flour to make a roux and then chicken broth and whisk until smooth.  Pour over your chicken and serve.  Makes about 6 to 8 thighs.  Enjoy!