Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sesame Chicken


I'm sure I've said it before but Chinese Food, or more appropriately American Chinese food is something that we love in my family so we eat a LOT of it.  Is it healthy? Probably not since a lot of it is fried, but it sure is GOOD.  Recently my husband found a recipe for Sesame Chicken (he's on a new recipe every night kick if you remember from the Pan-Roasted Salmon post), he's been dying to try it, but car problems be willing, we weren't able to get to the store to buy the few missing ingredients that we didn't have on hand, (sherry wine and Chinese 5 spice).  So I found out that my grocery store does not have regular sherry wine, and as I've stated before I HATE using cooking wine, its LOADED in sodium (salt); but in this case I have to give in because a trip to another store was just out of the question.  I also found that the Asian and spice sections did not have Chinese 5 spice, luckily though I did find a recipe so that I can make my own at home! (recipe precedes this post).
So now that we (sort-of) have all the ingredients we made this Sesame Chicken for dinner tonight and I must say it is YUMMY!  We served it over Jasmine Rice.

Sesame Chicken

Ingredients
Sauce
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/3 cup chicken broth
1-2 tablespoon sesame oil, to taste
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 tablespoon brown sugar
1 dash red chili pepper flakes
2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup water

Chicken
4 chicken breasts, cut into 1 inch cubes
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon sherry wine
1/2 teaspoon Chinese five spice powder, optional
2 drops sesame oil
cornstarch, to coat chicken
Vegetable oil or Peanut oil, for frying
Sesame Seed, to garnish
Sliced Green Onion, optional, to garnish

Directions:
  1. Combine chicken ingredients except cornstarch and let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge. The last few minutes of marinating the chicken measure oil to have at least 1-2 inches of oil in your pan or use a deep fryer.  Preheat your preferred choice of oil to 350*f. Peanut is best because it has a higher smoke point, but for allergy reasons vegetable oil is acceptable.  Also preheat your oven to 170-200*f.
  2. After the chicken has marinated, remove chicken from marinade and coat in cornstarch.
    Gently place coated chicken into hot oil on the stove or deep fryer until cooked thru, 2-4 minutes, generally.
  3. Remove from pan and keep warm in oven while making the sauce.
  4. Combine all sauce ingredients EXCEPT cornstarch and water in a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. 
  5. Mix cornstarch with water in a cup until dissolved- then slowly add to the sauce mixture on the stove and heat until thickened, generally to the consistency of gravy. 
  6. Remove cooked chicken from oven (where it has been staying warm) and coat in sauce, then serve, generally over rice. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onion.

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Homemade Chinese 5 Spice


Ever had a bite of American Chinese Food only to think "this is good, but its missing something," but never could quite put your finger on just what that "something" was? Chances are it was Chinese 5 spice. If you're like me, you can't always run off to the Asian market whenever you realize you're out of an ingredient, sometimes it turns out alright, other times not so much.  Well this is one of those times that you can make it at home, saving money, gas and ensuring your food will taste just as yummy.

Chinese 5 Spice

Ingredients:
1 teaspoon ground cassia or  cinnamon
1 teaspoon crushed anise seed
1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
1/4 teaspoon ground Szechuan pepper (black or white pepper or ground ginger would work also)
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon cumin

Directions
  1. If your ingredients, such as whole star anise, grind up in food processor, bullet or in a mortar and pestle.
  2. Once all ingredients are ground up, mix spices well.  They can be stored in an air tight container for up to 6 months

An alternate recipe that I found had these amounts

3 pieces whole star anise
20 cloves
3″ long piece of Vietnamese cinnamon (or other Cassia bark)
1 Tbs Szechuan pepper (husks only, the black seeds are gritty)
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp white peppercorns


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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Pan-Roasted Salmon


My Husband has been on this "new recipe" kick, apparently he wants us to try a new recipe almost every night.  Which can be no easy task when you're bogged down with dentists appointments, snow, flooding, college classes, school closures and sick kids all week long, and yes all in one week.  I'm sure you envy the life I live ;)   Luckily He found this one that looks mighty tasty even for someone who's lacking a few taste-buds due to illness.
Our salmon cooked a LOT faster than the recipe called for, but was still extremely delicious. While it may be mildly unsightly to have that black char on there (I used a cast iron skillet), in both mine and my Husbands opinion, it was definitely the best part of the fish.

Pan-Roasted Salmon

Ingredients
2  6-oz Salmon Fillets, skinned, pin bones removed
1 -1/2 tsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Brown Sugar
1 tsp Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
1/8 tsp ground mustard
pinch cinnamon

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*f.
  2. Combine brown sugar, salt and spices for the salmon in a small bowl. Rub spice mixture on the top side (non-skin) of the salmon fillets.
  3. Sear fillets, rub-side down, in oil in a large oven-proof non-stick skillet over high heat. When the fish releases easily and rub side is browned, about 2 minutes, flip fillets and transfer pan to the oven.
  4. Roast fillets until they flake easily with a fork, about 5-6 minutes.

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Thursday, January 19, 2012

Glazed Pork Chops

My husband told me the other day that he wanted to try a new recipe for pork chops.  So while digging through the 30 million different options on Pinterest I found these.  They looked delicious and promised to be ready after only 10 min on the stove and 5 min in the oven.  The recipe sounded simple enough that I could quickly whip them up even on a night where I was loaded down with homework, so I pinned it and waited for tonight.  While reading the recipe I quickly realized my pork chops were HUGE compared to hers so I doubled the glaze recipe, so glad I did, it made it so there was enough rendered juices to not only pour over the finished product but to dip bread into as well.  Because my chops were so much bigger, the cooking time was of course longer, but I really didnt mind the wait as it was more than worth it.

Glazed Pork Chops

Ingredients
4 thick cut pork chops
1/4 cup Brown Sugar
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil

Directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 350*f. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a bowl combine the brown sugar and spices (salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika and garlic powder or whatever spice blend you like).
  2. Remove the pork chops from their package and rub the brown sugar/spice mix all over both sides. Use all of the spice mix. 
  3. Heat 2 Tbsp of olive oil in a skillet over medium/high heat. When the oil is nice and hot (it will look wavy in the pan), add the pork chops. Cook the chops for about 5 minutes on each side or until they are nicely browned. 
  4. If you are using an oven safe skillet, place the skillet in the oven for an additional 5 minutes to make sure they are cooked through. If your skillet is not oven safe (most plastic handled skillets and teflon are not safe in the oven), transfer the chops to a baking sheet lined with foil then place in the oven. 
  5. Remove the chops from the oven and drag each side around in the thick glaze that has formed around the chops in the pan prior to serving. 

Spice rub on, and just in the pan












Browned












just out of oven



















Finished with pan sauces

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Monday, January 16, 2012

Basics: Baked Sweet Potatoes


There comes a time, when we all have to sit down and figure out "how does one do that?"  My time came last fall when I was sitting down at Outback eating the most delicious sweet potato I had ever had.  It was so tender it would melt in my mouth, it mashed with barely the movement of my fork.  It was heaven in my mouth.
Growing up my mom had always just poked holes in her potatoes and threw them into the microwave until they were cooked through, which bless her heart, did not lend to a fluffy baked potato, in fact, sometimes they were down right dry.  With my husband learning from his parents, he would also poke holes in them, but instead of stopping there he would wrap them in parchment paper and add a tablespoon of water before tossing them into the microwave.  These would lend to a much more moist potato but not really a fluffy one either.
I guess what I'm saying is, that I never knew that a potato could be so deliciously fluffy, and other restaurants had upheld that belief giving me potatoes that ranged from ones that should never be served to anyone to ones that were similar to what I had been making at home.
When my waitress came back I asked her how did they manage to make such tasty potatoes, she looked at me and simply said "we wrap them in foil and cook them until they're done, and then add honey butter, brown sugar and cinnamon to them." In other words, she knew just as much as me; or did she? 
The next day I went home and tightly wrapped up two of my sweet potatoes in tinfoil and put them in a 400* oven on a jelly roll pan for 30 minutes and checked them by applying soft pressure to the potato under the foil.  I kept checking them every 5 minutes until they felt soft... the first one was done at around 40 minutes, the other was slightly larger and took about 65 minutes, though both were deliciously soft and fluffable with a fork. I put in a large tablespoon and a half of brown sugar topped with a tablespoon of honey butter and a sprinkle of cinnamon on top.  I was once again in love, and better yet, I found a way to make the best baked potatoes, sweet or other wise, to boot.

Basics: Baked Sweet Potatoes

Ingredients:
1 Med size Sweet Potato
1 -1/2 Tbsp Brown sugar
1 Tbsp Honey Butter (recipe here)
sprinkle cinnamon

tinfoil for wrapping

Directions
  1. Preheat oven to 400*f
  2. Wash your sweet potato to remove any remaining dirt or foreign debris
  3. Wrap potato in tinfoil, I prefer the "pouch" method where the ends roll up and the top rolls down, makes for easy opening later and reduces risk of juices spilling around the oven
  4. Place on a cookie sheet in the center of oven and cook for 30 min. After cooking for 30 min, check the potatoes by giving them a gentle "squeeze", I use an ove-glove but one could use a pot holder if they dont have one, at any rate, be careful not to burn yourself!
  5. If potato does not "smoosh" with gentle pressure cook for another 5-10 minutes and then check again.  Potatoes this way may take longer, but they are definitely worth the wait!
  6. Once potato is cooked through, remove from oven and carefully unroll the top, make sure not to burn yourself on the escaping steam.
  7. Slice open the top of the potato so that you have an area to add toppings.  In this area put your brown sugar, then on top of that add your butter, then finally top with a sprinkle of cinnamon. 
  8. Serve immediately.


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Sunday, January 15, 2012

Orange Chicken


My husbands favorite Chinese dish is Orange Chicken, everywhere we go he always orders the orange chicken to see if its as good or better than the last.  A few days ago he was browsing on my Pinterest and found a recipe for Orange Chicken in the recipes section, naturally he just HAD to try it.  So as I'm typing this up we have Orange Chicken marinating in the fridge and an over excited husband in the living room.
The recipe seems easy enough, so hopefully it turns out great, because my old work won't give me the recipe to their Orange Chicken and I never thought to copy it before I quit. *shrugs*

Orange Chicken
Recipe from Pink Parsley

Ingredients
For Sauce and Marinate:

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth
¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest
6 Tbs. white vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
½ cup brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Tbs. fresh ginger, grated
¼-½ tsp. cayenne pepper

1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Tbs. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch
2 Tbs. cold water
8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For Coating and Frying:

3 large egg whites
1 cup cornstarch
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
3 cups peanut or canola oil

Directions:
To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan and whisk to blend well.

 Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag.  Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well.  Refrigerate 30-60 minutes, but no longer (the acid from the orange juice and vinegar will make the chicken mushy if it's left too long).

Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat.  Bring to a simmer.  In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth.  Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce.  Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.

To make the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate or shallow bowl and whisk until frothy.  In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper.  Whisk to blend.  Drain the chicken from  the marinade in a large strainer and pat dry with paper towels.  Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat.  Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess.  Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or large sauce pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F.  Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 4-5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking.  Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined baking sheet.  Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

When all the chicken has been fried, reheat the sauce if necessary, and toss with the chicken in a large bowl.  Serve over rice.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New name, new look, new year

There arent very many of my posts where there's not a recipe or at least post pictures of food, but this is going to be one of them.
I've had the name "you want me to eat THAT?!" for quite a while now, and I felt it didn't really fit the blog anymore.  Im not the person afraid of (most) fish that I was a few years ago when I started this blog.  The fish that I was afraid to eat, is now a family favorite, and so it was beyond time to change.
As for the look I figured that the site was becoming sort of stale after having the same look for a year now, and having a similar look before that.  While I love love love my friend for creating the purple design for me, I think this one fits where Im at now.
I hope that everyone's year is treating them well so far, and continues to do so.

Lots of love,
Marvel <3

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Blueberry Compote


With how many pancakes that my family eats, I'm honestly surprised that I haven't posted this recipe before. I LOVE blueberry compote, more than any other fruit or berry compote I LOVE blueberry compote.  Which is probably why my children rarely ever see maple syrup, besides the fact that the "good stuff" is $20+ a container.  No joke here's a pic from my shopping yesterday "real syrup is expensive!" If I could, I'd probably eat the compote straight I love it that much.  So here's a recipe that I've kind of thrown together over the years.


Blueberry Compote

Ingredients
18oz  blueberries
1/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cornstarch (optional)
2 tbsp water (optional)

Directions
  1. Wash your blueberries, removing any stems or bad berries.  Pour into a medium sauce pan along with sugar and lemon juice.  in a small container mix together cornstarch and water. 
  2. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally
  3. After roughly 5 min add in cornstarch/water mixture, this will cause the mixture to thicken and become opaque, this is an optional step. Cook for roughly 5 more minutes or until mixture becomes syrupy.  Dont heat for longer or berries will begin to loose their shape and become mushy.  If you skipped the cornstarch step, you still will cook for roughly 10 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and keep warm. 
  5. Generously use to top pancakes, waffles, ice cream and more.
Step 2

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Malted Waffles

My mom likes taking me to this little hole in the wall restaurant that serves great breakfast, well they must because that's ALL they serve, and you wont hear me complain a bit!  The best thing on their menu though is a Belgian waffle "heavy on the malt" covered in either a blueberry or strawberry compote and topped with a dollop of whipped cream.  I about die every time I go there from sheer excitement and anticipation.  When I saw malt at my local grocery store I about freaked out, with the addition of a new waffle iron for Christmas from my mother in law (who knows me? come on!)  I'm beyond excited to announce that this will be tonight's Brinner (that's breakfast at dinner for those of you who dont know). 

While watching food network's Drive in's Diner's and Dives (or Triple D for short), my husband noticed one breakfast place that separated their eggs and beat the whites until they form glossy peaks, creating an extremely light, and FLUFFY... pancake, but when that pancake is as thick as a waffle, you've got something there.  Since then he has never allowed anyone in the house to make pancakes (or waffles) without that process and while it is an extra step, its well worth the effort.  So, needless to say, this recipe is going to have you separate your eggs.

Malted Waffles

Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup malted-milk powder
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large egg yolk
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
1 tablespoon canola oil (can use melted and cooled butter if preferred)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 large large egg whites
2 tablespoons sugar

Directions
  1. Pre-heat your waffle iron
  2. Separate your eggs, and set them aside, make sure to not get ANY yolk into your whites or you have to re-start.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk flour, malt, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In a medium bowl, mix together the egg yolk, buttermilk and oil.  Whisk wet mixture into your dry mixture until just moistened.
  4. In a small bowl beat egg whites until soft peaks form. Gradually add sugar and continue beating until mixture forms glossy peaks, not dry peaks. If you make dry peaks, start over.
  5. Gently whisk one quarter of the egg white mixture into the batter, then carefully fold the remaining egg whites into the batter.  Be careful as you don't want to over mix the batter and lose the light fluffy texture of the egg whites.
  6. Lightly coat your waffle iron with non-stick cooking spray. Ladle batter onto your waffle iron and cook to preferred crispiness.
  7. Top with syrup and butter or fruit compote and whip cream. Enjoy

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S'more hot cocoa


So I LOVE S'mores, and I LOVE hot cocoa, but today I found myself craving S'mores hot cocoa.  I looked around my house and found that while I was out of my dark hot cocoa mix, my husband did have some pre-made stuff handy. (He found out Coldstone makes hot cocoa and had to try it).  So I quickly threw together a cup of hot cocoa, toasted some yummy marshmallows and added a gram cracker to it, which my husband used to dunk in his hot cocoa and spoon out toasted marshmallows from his drink.  He currently is asking me for seconds, I think this one may just end up a family hit. ^.^

S'more Hot Cocoa

Ingredients
1 packet cocoa mix (or your homemade mix)
milk or water according to your cocoa mix recipe
1 handful of mini marshmallows
1-2 gram cracker squares

Directions:
  1. make hot cocoa according to mix directions
  2. pour mini marshmallows on top 
  3. toast marshmallows with a food torch (or one of those butane filled flexible lighters, they use the same fuel oddly enough)
  4. garnish with gram cracker

Garnishing option: dampen rim of cup with water and dip into gram cracker crumbs


Make hot cocoa


pour mini marshmallows on top
Toast marshmallows with torch
Top with graham crackers and enjoy

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Basics: Honey Butter

Most people leave honey butter to the "experts" and only eat it when they go to restaurants or buy it pre-made at the grocery store for 4 times the price of butter.  But why? When its so easy to make yourself.

Basics: Honey Butter

Ingredients:
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1/4 cup honey

Directions:
In a container mix butter and honey together until smooth.
Store covered in your refrigerator like you would butter.

If you want the "fluffy" butter similar to what you get at the restaurant, put it in your blender and whip it to incorporate some air.

Happy eating!


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Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken

Rich, flavorful honey mustard chicken with carrots and potatoes.

This recipe, which I got from SparkPeople 
(a health/fitness site, that might I add WORKS!) 
It promises to have succulent chicken with tender delicious vegetables all for only 356.7 calories/serving total for your dinner. With 401 reviews and an average rating of 4.3/5, I'm sure this recipe is not going to disappoint. I am tweaking their recipe slightly from what they suggest due to an overwhelming consensus in the reviews that the veggies needed more time.  So don't you worry I am adjusting the recipe to fit their suggestions.
The picture looks so delicious I cant wait until dinner time to try it out!

Honey Mustard Roasted Chicken

Ingredients

1 lb. potatoes, cut into wedges
2 lbs. chicken, rinsed
6 medium carrots, sliced
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1-1/2 Tablespoons honey
3 Tablespoons mustard
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 heads garlic, peeled
salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. 
  2. In a shallow pan, toss potatoes and carrots with oil, salt and pepper.  
  3. Nestle peeled garlic cloves amongst the vegetables and scatter the rosemary on top, bake uncovered for 15 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the oven and carefully arrange the chicken among the vegetables and bake uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
    Meanwhile, stir the mustard and honey together. 
  5. Remove from the oven once more and carefully remove chicken and spread the honey-mustard mixture over the chicken.
  6. Stir vegetables in the pan, return coated chicken to the pan, and place pan back into the oven. Cover and bake 10-20 minutes, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.
Makes 4 servings.

If two heads of garlic sounds like a bit much (which for me it does), some people have suggested only using one head or 4 very large cloves of garlic instead.
 
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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Super Easy Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce


Tonight we made Sweet and Spicy Asian wings (pre-made), so we decided to make with it a dipping sauce, unfortunately our hunger took over and we ate it all before we could get a picture of it. This recipe is made with a product thats already pre-made that you "dress up" for the occasion.  While we ate this on already spicy wings, this would also go well on real or imitation crab, which is actually why I have some of the pre-made stuff on hand to begin with; I LOVE the sauce on imitation crab, only way you can get me to eat imitation crab actually.

 Super Easy Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce
1 Tablespoon Honey (I used blackberry, but clover/regular works well too)
1 Tablespoon Orange Juice

Directions

  1. Mix ingredients together and serve.

How easy is that?

Note: I like Aroma Chef, Thai Sweet Chili Sauce, but Frank's Red Hot makes a  good Sweet Chili Sauce as well