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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Kung Pao Chicken


This is an original recipe.  It took me a long time of trying, but I finally got it right, and now I am hooked on this dish.  I figured out how to do it without chopping loads of ginger and garlic - which to me was the most annoying part of the prepping for a stir fry - and it doesn't taste like it's missing anything.  I also know that I could easily throw in any other vegetables I want to use and exchange the chicken for another protein.  This recipe is a streamlined, healthy, and delicious stir fry with all the signature ingredients of Kung Pao Chicken - carrots, celery, onion, water chestnuts, peanuts, a bit of heat, and...um...chicken.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Kung Pao Chicken
serves 4

Marinade for chicken:
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. corn starch
1/2 tsp. rice (wine) vinegar

Sauce:
1/4 cup hoisen
2 Tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup of water

2 Tbsp peanut oil, divided
1 lb chicken breast, diced small
4 dried sichuan peppers, broken up, with seeds
2/3 cup carrots, diced small
2/3 cup celery, diced small
1 small or 1/2 large yellow onion, diced
1 small can of water chestnuts, diced
2 scallions, thinly sliced (optional)
1/4 cup dry roasted unsalted peanuts


Marinade the chicken in the baking soda for 20 minutes.  Then rinse well and dry completely.  Add the rice vinegar and cornstarch to the chicken, combine well, and let sit for another 15 minutes.  While the chicken is marinating, whisk together all the ingredients for your sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Once your chicken is ready, heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken and cook, stirring occasionally, until no longer pink.  Remove from the wok and set aside.  Heat the remaining tablespoon of peanut oil.  Add the peppers and simmer until fragrant.  Add the carrot, celery, and onion and cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots are no longer hard, about 10 minutes.  Add the water chestnuts and combine.  Then incorporate the cooked chicken.  Add the sauce and mix everything together.  Lastly, add the scallions (if using) and the peanuts.  Serve with your favorite rice.





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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Raspberry Chia Jam


I am not a vegan - I eat absolutely everything (except radishes...I hate radishes.)  I am, however, at the risk of making my husbands eyes roll, a foodie.  So I am willing to try almost anything if it has visual appeal and uses amazing ingredients.  It is because of this (and a fellow food lover/vegan friend) that I have recently fallen very much in love with the Oh She Glows Cookbook.  (I am linking to her web site where she uses the following jam recipe to make jam filled oat bars...I will definitely be trying that one day.)  Just yesterday, I made three of the recipes - all delicious - but this jam is nothing less than stunning.  If the pictures haven't won you over, let me continue to try.  The jam was so easy to make that words can't do it justice, and it is waaaaaay more delicious than any jam you'll ever get at the store.  I hate the fact that jarred jams have so much sugar in them - and some of those sugars are as unnatural as it gets.  Well this jam is too easy, too healthy, and too delicious to eat any other type of jam ever again.

Raspberry Chia Jam
recipe from Oh She Glows

makes 1/2 cup
1-1/2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries (I used fresh)
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1 Tbsp chia seeds
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

In a medium saucepan, heat the raspberries and maple syrup over medium-high heat.  Once the mixture comes to a simmer, lower the heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Then mash up the fruit with a fork or spoon, mix in the chia seeds, and cook for another 15 minutes or so, stirring frequently, until it is a good consistency.  It will firm up more as it cools.  Lastly, stir in the vanilla.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.


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Sunday, September 7, 2014

Classic Apple Crisp




It's the first weekend after the first week of school.  I survived.  The students survived.  We all survived.  Only 40 or so more weeks to go until summer.  Not that I'm counting or anything.  Luckily the start of school also means the start of some pretty amazing fall activities...most of which revolve around food...and also the cooler weather.  How I wish fall weather was all year long.

So for our first fall activity, of course we went off apple picking - its one of the best things about fall.  (It also usually leads to a pretty amazing and lengthy baking spree.)  The apple cider doughnuts at Parlee Farms are crazy good, and their apple crisp is even better.  However, I told Jim that instead of us buying the apple crisp there, I would just make some of my own with some of our apple loot.  I began to regret that halfway into apple peeling.  Some delicious Parlee Farm apple crisp would have been way easier.  So now I know.  Yet this did come out delicious (and pretty.)  It was worth the work.  The filling may have been a little bit too lemony for me...I would take down the lemon juice to 1 tablespoon.  The crumb topping was perfection.  If anything, I don't think I'm used to anything this sweet anymore, but I can still recognize a delicious - even if a bit indulgent - dessert.

Apple Crisp
recipe from Ina Garten

For the filling:
5 pounds McIntosh or Macoun apples (I used a mix of Gala and Macs)
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed orange juice
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt

For the topping:
1 1/2 cups flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup oatmeal
1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Peel, core, and slice the apples.  In a large bowl (I had to use two bowls), mix the apple slices with the rest of the filling ingredients.  Pour the mixture into a buttered baking dish.  In the bowl of a standing mixer, mix all of the topping ingredients until crumbly and the butter pieces are pea-size.  Pour the crumb topping over the apples.  Place your baking dish on a aluminum foil lined baking sheet and bake in the oven for 1 hour, until the apple filling is bubbly and the crumb topping is golden.  I highly recommend serving this with vanilla ice cream.




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