Chinese Five Spice Stir Fry

Stir fry is fast and easy, healthy, and almost always delicious. This recipe in particular is easy peasy.
Chinese Five Spice has hints of anise and other cinnamon-like flavors, and makes for an interestingly dynamic flavor when mixed with the basic onion/garlic seasonings.

Chinese Five Spice Stir Fry[Stir fry with a twist – Chinese Five Spice has hints of anise and other unexpected seasonings]

 You’ll need:

– 1 lb chicken breast
– 2 Tbsp sesame oil
– 3 Tbsp soy sauce
– 1 tsp garlic powder
– 1 tsp onion powder
– 1 tsp ginger powder
– 2 tsp Chinese five spice powder
– salt & pepper to taste

Dice chicken into small pieces. Put in large Ziploc bag. Add all seasoning listed above and shake. Let sit for 30 minutes.

– 2 Tbsp light olive oil
– 1 yellow onion, diced
– 6 cremini mushrooms, sliced
– green onion, chopped
– 1/2 cup peanuts
– 3 Tbsp soy sauce
– 1/4 cup water

Heat oil in large skillet. Add marinated chicken and cook until 1/2 done. Add all vegetables, peanuts, soy sauce, and water. Stir until blended. Cook until veggies are soft and chicken is done (but not over done).

Top with sesame seeds.

Enjoy!

Lemongrass Chicken

I’ve made this a few times now, the first time I thought it was an accidental “oh wow this is SO good!”, so I tried it again, and it was still “SO good”. We frequent a local Thai restaurant that serves traditional home-made meals, and this recipe rivals their version. I’ll be making it again and again, and even for guests. Enjoy!

photo 1
Adapted from Food & Wine‘s recipe.

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, fat trimmed, meat cut into 1/4-inch pieces (the smaller, the more flavorful)
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 Tbsp curry powder
  • Soy sauce
  • 3 plump stalks of lemongrass, tender white inner bulb only, minced
  • 1 medium red onion, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp fresh ginger
  • 1/4 cup Chinese cooking wine, sake or water
  • 1/2 cup Vietnamese Stir-fry Sauce, recipe to follow
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon oyster sauce
  • 4 large scallions, cut into 1/2-inch lengths
  • 6 button mushrooms
  1. In a medium bowl, toss the chicken pieces with 2 tablespoons of the canola oil, curry powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of kosher salt and 3/4 teaspoon of pepper and a dab of soy sauce.
  2. In a large wok, heat 2 tablespoons of the canola oil until small puffs of smoke begin to appear. Add half of the chicken and cook until white (small amounts of pink are okay).
  3. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil in the skillet. Add the lemongrass, onion and garlic and ginger and cook over high heat, stirring, until fragrant, 2 minutes. Add the wine, another dab of soy sauce, Vietnamese Stir-fry Sauce, oyster sauce, scallions, ; bring to a boil.  Serve by garnishing with uncooked lemongrass pieces and green onion.

Vietnamese Stir-fry Sauce

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade
  • 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon Asian fish sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

In a small saucepan, bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and cool.

Best Ever Carrot Cake

I am a HUGE carrot cake fan – so I don’t tread lightly when I say “best ever”. Secret ingredient? Crushed pineapple!

Unlike most recipes where I toy with proportions/ingredients to make them even better, nothing was adjusted in this recipe from Philodeau (except, I did omit the raisins).

You will need:

2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp cinnamon
3/4 tsp salt
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cups brown sugar
3/4 cups vegetable oil
2 1/4 cups carrot (grated)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup pineapple, crushed & drained
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
1/2 cup coconut (shredded)

Directions:

Head oven to 350F.

Filter & mix all dry ingredients in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, combine fruit & nuts. To the fruit mixture, add remaining wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.
Add dry ingredients to wet, 1/3 at a time.
Pour batter into greased 9×13 baking pan.
Bake for ~45 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean. Cool before frosting.

BEST EVER Cream Cheese Frosting

1, 8 oz package of cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup powdered suga

Place softened cream cheese in bowl and mix with an electric mixer until smooth and not stiff. Add the softened butter and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar, 1/4 at a time. Spread evenly over cooled cake, and refrigerate until ready to eat.

Enjoy! (Pictures to come)

Butter Chicken

I LOVE Indian food! The unusual combination of spices, innumerable hours of simmering, and yogurt/cream blends. The best part is that restaurants always deliver what seems to be authentic cuisine! I’ve tried to make homemade Indian food before, but nothing has compared to this “quicker” version from RockRecipes.com.

Butter chicken[MMM – my favorite! Better butter chicken – because it’s homemade!]

3 tbsp butter
3tbsp peanut oil
6 cloves minced garlic
1 large white onion diced
 
In a large pot, over medium heat, saute the onions and garlic in the butter and oil until softened. Increase the heat to medium high and add:
 
8 large boneless skinless chicken thighs cut into bite sized pieces
3 tsp garam masala
 
Cook completely through but do not overcook. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
 
Add to the pan:
 
6 large ripe tomatoes, diced (or diced canned tomatoes)
Saute the tomatoes until they break down and form a chunky sauce. Add the sauteed tomatoes to a large blender or food processor along with:

4 seeded green chiles chopped (if green chiles are not available, substitute crushed red chile paste or cayenne pepper to taste)
1/2 cup plain, unsweetened yogurt
4 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp chili powder
2 tbsp lemon juice
4 tbsp finely grated fresh ginger
1 clove minced garlic
1/4 cup melted butter

Puree all ingredients together and simmer together until reduced by about 1/4. (If your sauce gets too thick or is too thick coming out of the blender you can add a little tomato juice or plain tomato sauce to thin it.)
 
Add the chicken back to the pot and simmer slowly for 10 -15 minutes. Finish the dish by adding
 
2 tbsp honey ( more or less to taste)
1/2 cup cream
 
Simmer for an additional minute or two before serving over rice or with naan.

Cantinetta Bellevue

Almost 4 year-old Italian pasta house on Main Street Old Bellevue, Cantinetta wowed GB.

photo 2[We sat outside, and did some people watching. New gas heaters kept the chill-prone (me) warm.]

The local-vibe & small menu make the restaurant seem landmark, especially with local ingredients & handmade pasta. Being our first time, we ordered a salad to share & 2 entrees. GB ordered the Vermicelli (braised veal, pea vines, cipollini, pickled chili), and I the bolognese (of course!).

photo 1[Tuscan kale salad (strawberries, roasted oats, honey vinaigrette) in a mini wood bowl]

The portions were tiny (and thus pricey for the size!). However, the food was fresh and GB LOVED the vermicelli pasta. I’d recommend for special occasions, or if you’re not famished.

 

Sheer Genius Organic Produce Boxes

Pacific Coast Harvest is a a local distributor of fresh organic produce, seasonal fruits & veggies. Thanks to LivingSocial, I snagged a box for a great price. Of course, the goodness lead to a few weeks of ordering post-deal. I’ve never seen fruit so colorful and fresh, and it’s delivered to your door in a crafty crate + for only $34/box, it’s a steal of a deal for organic produce delivery. I highly recommend – but only if you’re a voracious veggie-eater (organic produce unfortunately doesn’t last forever…).

Pacific Coast Harvest Box of Delight

Oh my beets! Potatoes, chard, parsley, oranges, watermelon, kiwi.

Cashew Chicken

One of my all-time favorite go-to Chinese take out dishes, this recipe is as good as it gets.

Cashew Chicken

You will need:

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced to stir fry pieces
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • Bushel of green onions, chopped – white part kept
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • ~1 tsp Garlic powder
  • Small tin of roasted cashews, halves and pieces (~ 1 ½ cups)
  • 2 carrots, sliced thinly (or bag of pre-sliced thin carrots)
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 5 button mushrooms, halved, then sliced
  • 2 cups snow peas, tips removed
  • 5 baby bok choy, leaves only
  • 3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons catsup
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar

 

In a Ziploc bag, toss the chicken with the cornstarch, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, salt & pepper until the chicken is coated; set aside.

In a wok, heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the chicken, tossing often, until browned and cooked, about 10 minutes. Season chopped onions & white parts of the green onions with garlic powder; add to wok. Cook for 4 minutes. Add ½ of the cashews.

Add the remaining chopped vegetables; cook covered for 4 minutes. Add the pre-mixed sauce: catsup, hoisin sauce, sugar, chicken broth, and a few tablespoons of water; cook, covered for another 5 minutes, scraping the bottom of the wok often. Add remaining cashews

Remove from heat and stir in the remaining green onion tops. Serve with white rice.

The Scoop on Tarts

BOWs-_hCEAAMsZL

 

In short, we don’t get along.

Tarts like trickery.

Keys:

– Keeping the crust thin, especially for recipes that call for an egg (many do). Next time I’ll be opting for a more graham-cracker like crust (egg-less).
– Keeping the filling sweet, tart, and full. This tart has a bit of gelatin to help, it however only increased the “tartness” of the lemon juice added. Next tart, less lemon, more creme.
– Keeping the fruit…the same. Can’t do much there! (In fact, even second-picked fruits do fine, i.e. the bitter, the beat-up).

The bottom-line: tarts are not to be trifled with. Keep them simple: thin, sweeter than tart (personal preference), and fresh (no frozen berries).

 

Perfect chicken tenders every time

The blog, “The Kitchn.com” is a god-send in many ways, especially in that they do not overlook the simple details that can make all the difference in a meal.

Exhibit A: how to make tender chicken breast every time.

This post is so I don’t lose these tips! 🙂

Curried Vegetable Soup

This soup is absolutely delicious! Think, tomato bisque soup with a twist. Healthy, hearty, and great leftovers.

Courtesy of thekitchn

Adjusted from thekitchn recipe:

You will need:

1 teaspoon olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 all-purpose potatoes, diced
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon curry powder, plus 1 tsp
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon of dried ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 large box of vegetable broth (Swanson’s, for example)
2 (16-ounce) cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 green bell pepper, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 medium head of cauliflower, cut into small pieces
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes with their juices plus 1 can of tomato paste
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
6-ounces baby spinach
1/2 cup coconut milk

Heat oil in a skillet over medium heat. Sauté the onion with a dash of salt until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the potatoes and another dash of salt, and sauté until just translucent around the edges.

Stir in the curry, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and chili and cook until fragrant (mix spices beforehand), about 30 seconds. Pour in 1/4 cup of broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to deglaze. Pour this onion-potato mixture into the bowl of your slow cooker.

To the slow-cooker, add the rest of the broth, chickpeas, bell pepper, cauliflower, tomatoes with their juices, the pepper, and the final dash of salt. Stir to combine. The liquid should come half-way up the sides of the bowl; add more broth as necessary. Cover and cook for 4+ hours on HIGH.

Stir in the spinach and coconut milk. Cover with lid for 1 minute to allow the spinach to wilt. Taste and adjust as needed.

Enjoy!