Saturday, November 12, 2011

Orange Chicken and Veg Stir Fry

My kids love Panda Express.  Who doesn't?  So I try to make stir-fry's as much as I can be a pain with all of the ingredients, but once you buy them all you'll have everything to make plenty of Asian dishes.
So we had Orange Chicken tonight...but not deep friend and coated with all that gooey (too sweet for me) sauce.  I made my own sauce and it was pretty darn good.

Here's my recipe:

6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
salt (to taste)

First cut up the chicken into 1 inch cubes. Lightly dust with cornstarch and toss with salt.
Set aside.

Veggies:  (feel free to interchange with your favorites)
1 bunch green onions, chopped
1-2 C sliced mushrooms
2 peppers (one red, one yellow)

2 C water
1/2 C fresh orange juice
1 T fresh lemon juice
Grated rind from 1 orange
Grated ginger (or ground) taste
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1/3 C rice vinegar
2 T low sodium soy sauce
1/2 C brown sugar
1/4 C cornstarch

Mix all sauce ingredients in a bowl with a whisk.  Heat in a saucepan to boiling, then lower heat and simmer until reduced and thickened.

Heat wok or large frying pan on high heat.  Add peanut or canola oil. Sear chicken all over to form light crust, cook almost all the way.  Take out chicken, drain on paper towels.  Add veggies to wok, cook on high heat, constantly stirring for 3-5 minutes. Add chicken, stir fry for another minute or so.  Add thickened sauce (might not need it all) and toss all together with chicken and veggies.
Top with extra chopped green onions and red pepper flakes, if desired.
We love to eat with sticky white rice and chopsticks.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Easiest Homemade Bread

I attempted to bake some bread today.  I think I succeeded.  I put some ingredients in a bowl, mixed it up, baked it, and I had two loaves of homemade bread.  It was good. It wasn't great.
I need to practice.

Here's my recipe:
5 to 5 1/2 C bread flour
1 1/2 T fast-acting yeast
4 T sugar
1 1/2 t fine sea salt
1/4 C canola oil
1/2 C milk
2 C hot tap water
Extra flour for kneading.

Mix flour (start with 5 cups), yeast, sugar and salt in mixer.  Add oil, milk and water.  Mix on low for 5 minutes or until it starts to form a ball.  (If yours is still very sticky, add a little more flour here. I didn't do this until later, and I think that was my mistake.) I tried to take out and knead at this point, but it was still too sticky, and I couldn't get it to stay together.  I added 2 tablespoons or so of flour and put it back in the mixer, I let it go for another 5 minutes.  This tightened it up and I was able to knead much better on my board.  Knead for just a few minutes, then cut dough into two parts.  I formed two round loaves.
Spray cookie sheet with spray, then place loaves on it.
Cover with dry towel and place in warm spot to rise, about 45 minutes-1 hour.

Slice an "X" with tip of sharp knife on each loaf.  Bake in a preheated 350 oven for 30-40 minutes.  Check bread at 30 min. Should be golden brown on top, and hollow sound when tapped.
I had to bake mine a little longer, it wasn't quite done inside.

It tasted good, like homemade bread should.  But it was a little underdone in one small section...and I believe my mistake was adding the extra flour after it had been in the mixer and taken out, and then back in again.
I've been reading online, next time I will use cornmeal or sugar on my board instead of extra flour. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

My Sister - the Other Cook in the Family!

If you talk to our mom, she will say the cooking "gene" skipped a generation in our family. Her father was a chef and my sister and I both enjoying cooking and trying new recipes, but my mom doesn't get the fascination.  She loves to eat what we cook though....let's leave it at that!
Anyway, our family gets together all the time....and most of the time we are eating!  Recently we grilled some chicken and veggie kabobs brushed with a glaze my sister made.  We also had corn on the cob and some potato salad a friend of mine made (wish I could take credit for that!).
But the stars of the show this night was the salad and dessert.

My sister bought all the ingredients for the salad: Romaine lettuce, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil and a baguette that she made croutons out of.  I made a quick dressing of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  This was completely awesome.  A different take on a bread salad I make, without the lettuce.

Then sis made an amazing dessert....a plum and peach pie, her version of a Cooking Light recipe.  It was very good, made with spices such as nutmeg and all spice.  Of course we had this warm with vanilla ice cream. : )

I plan on posting more recipes and menus we make together.  This could become a sister cooking blog before we know it!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Nigella's Crustless Pizza

It must be a record! Tried something new again tonight....a recipe I adapted from Nigella Lawson's latest cookbook, Nigella Kitchen. She called it "Crustless Pizza" but my family and I thought it was more of a cross between a deep dish pizza and a quiche. This may sound a little odd...but it is very good! And very simple to make also...especially when you don't know what to do for dinner.
All you really need is egg, flour, milk, a little salt and some cheese. From there, you can add more of your fave veggies, meats, etc...or you can leave it as is! I added pepperoni to mine, along with some extra Parmesan cheese.

Here's my adapted recipe:

2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 C flour
1 3/4 C milk (I used fat free, could sub with any you have)
Salt to taste
1 1/2 C grated cheddar cheese (or any kind you want!)
1/4 C grated Parmesan, plus extra to grate on top
Chopped veggies and/or fresh herbs
Sliced pepperoni/ham/salami...your favorite or what you have on hand!

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

Mix eggs, flour, milk and salt until smooth. Stir in 1 C cheddar cheese and the 1/4 C Parmesan (and add'l veggies or herbs, if using). Pour into a greased 9 inch ovenproof pie dish. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes (check that it's cooked through), then top with rest of cheese (both kinds) and pepperoni. Cook another 3 to 4 minutes or so, until top cheese is melted and it's a little brown.

Let cool for a few minutes, then cut into wedges like a pie.

We devoured this! It was barely enough for the four of us (Hubby and I, Ty and Zoey) so if you have more people, double and make two!
Served this with a simple romaine salad, with tomatoes, avocado and croutons. E.V. olive oil and red wine vinegar dressing.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Flank Steak on the Grill

So this was a new one for me. Can't believe I haven't tried Flank Steak before...but we don't eat a lot of meat, and when we do it's always tri-tip! But I've made the vow to try one new thing a week, so this week it's Flank Steak! My husband says, "It doesn't sound very good, Flank?"...he's always saying stuff like that, but I just ignored him. Ha! But we all really liked it...not sure if I loved it like I do the tri-tip, but it was nice to mix things up.
I made up a nice spice rub of:
1 tsp. Cumin,
1 tsp. each garlic and onion powders
Salt and fresh cracked black pepper
1 tsp. coriander (or more if you love it like me!)
Ground red pepper (to taste...depending on how spicy you want it)
Put this all over the 1.5 lb steak, both sides.
Medium-high grill to start, then after seared meat, turned it down to med then low.
It only took about 10-12 min to cook, turning over a couple times. This was to about medium, still a little pink inside.
Let this rest for about 5 min., then sliced it ACROSS the grain. This is very important, as it could be tough if you don't slice it this way.
Served this with green beans I roasted in the oven with evoo, salt and pepper, then finished with a little lime juice. Also made a box of Jiffy Corn Muffins...but I like to doctor these up, and I added honey, some regular flour, extra baking powder and a little more milk.
All in all, a very nice meal eaten outside on the patio with the family!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

My "Faux" Margarita/Cocktail for the Summer

Now I just love margaritas. Especially ones made with silver tequila and Grand Marnier. But it gets expensive and heavy on the I have to come up with my own! I do a classic "skinny girl" margarita with just tequila, lime juice and a little stevia/agave mix to sweeten it up. On the rocks in a glass rimmed with Kosher salt...heaven!
But I wanted to come up with other cocktails I'm playing around one day in the kitchen and came up with this:
1 ounce tequila
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce water
Hansen's Diet Tangarine-Lime Soda (as much or a little as you want!)

I mixed the tequila, lime juice and water over ice in my highball glass, then added the soda to fill. Delicious! And almost calorie free!
It's nice and refreshing...really good on a hot day!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Organic All the Way?

So I've always been a proponent of organic milk and produce...but am I ready to take the next step? How far do I go in making the household more organic? It's a big task, and it's not cheap...but the more we all express an interest in wanting organic products and foods for our homes, the more they will become available to us, and the lower the prices will become. In the meantime, what I will do is continue to buy organic milk (and as many dairy products as I can afford), and organic produce as much as possible. Especially for strawberries (all berries, really), lettuce, spinach, potatoes, apples etc. I might hold back on bananas, pumpkins, etc for now. If you can't eat the packaging, then my feeling is I can wait to buy organic on those.

Look for sales...and Costco even has some organic products now.
Trader Joe's is also your friend!

I also will be growing some of my own veggies this year as well. This is a great, easy way to be eco-friendly, and ensure that your produce is organic. No need to use pesticides, just hose or pick off the bad visitors (aphids, tomato hornworms) in your garden, and leave the good ones! (ex. praying mantis, ladybugs, bees)

Things I want to be doing soon: Composting on a large scale, having an even bigger veggie garden and going all-organic!