4.20.2010

Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry

When cooking a boring weeknight meal, it is always nice if you can cook something that makes you happy. This is one of those meals for me. As always, it is incredibly simple, but something about all the beautiful colors makes me smile. And it doesn't hurt to know that the finished product is so delicious!
It always helps to start with a colorful cast of characters like this.
I happened to have some broccollini left in my refrigerator from late last week that I didn't use, and I added to that some red bell pepper, carrots, squash and onions. This is a good recipe to make when you have some leftover uncooked veggies in your refrigerator that you need to use. You can use anything that you like--some other good choices are broccoli, snow peas, zucchini and asparagus.

The first thing to do is chop all of your
vegetables. I usually try to get all of mine approximately the same size.
The amounts in the recipe are approximations. Have fun with this and add more or take away anything you want!

Go ahead and get a pot of rice going--white or brown, whatever you prefer. I usually make two cups of uncooked rice.



Next, I cut up one boneless chicken breast into bite sized pieces. If you prefer to have a vegetarian meal, of course you may leave this out. Or, you could substitute another kind of meat.

Now you have all of your prep work done and you are ready to fire up your wok!

Now don't worry--if you don't have a wok, you can do this in a saute pan. It just might get a little messy, so be careful. Heat up 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil on high until good and hot. Then put all your veggies into the oil.

Beautiful, huh? Stir all this then add 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce and cook until done, approximately 5 minutes. It's important to keep stirring during this cooking process because it is done over high heat. When done, I transfer them to a medium bowl. Next, I add one tablespoon vegetable oil and cook the chicken the same way.
You're probably wondering why I don't just cook it all together. I have found that I am able to control the amount of "doneness" more if I cook them separately. Sometimes the veggies get overcooked if I cook them with the chicken. Add one tablespoon soy sauce and a little freshly ground pepper on the chicken; cook until done (approximately five to seven minutes). Then I add the chicken to the bowl of veggies.

Next, I put the rice in the hot wok with one tablespoon oil and add three tablespoons of soy sauce. Stir it until thoroughly mixed and heated through (especially if the rice is cool). You can add one to two tablespoons butter at this point if you would like. A little butter always makes it taste better, right?

Now it's time to put it all together. Pour the vegetables and chicken back into the wok with the rice and stir it all together. Continue to stir for a minute or two until you are sure everything is very hot. Also, taste and add anything you think it needs--salt, pepper, additional soy sauce. Sometimes I add a little ground red pepper--my husband really likes it when I do that! Maybe 1/4 teaspoon or so.



Now, who wouldn't be excited to eat this in the middle of a hectic week?


Delicious and healthy, and a little out of the ordinary from the way you might usually serve chicken and vegetables. Have fun with it, and smile!
Chicken & Veggie Stir Fry
1 medium yellow squash
2 medium carrots
1/2 package broccollini
1/2 red bell pepper
1 medium onion
1 boneless chicken breast
5 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
6 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce, divided
2 cups uncooked rice
3 1/2 cups water
salt
pepper
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (or more if desired)

Chop all the vegetables and the chicken breast into bite sized pieces. Heat 2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil in a wok over high heat. Add the chopped vegetables and 2 tablespoons soy sauce; stir and cook until tender, approximately 5 minutes. Transfer the vegetables to a medium bowl and set aside. Add another tablespoon of oil and the chicken to the wok. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper to taste. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and stir until done, approximately five to eight minutes. Transfer the chicken to the bowl with the vegetables. Add another tablespoon of oil to the wok along with the rice and 3 tablespoons soy sauce. Stir well until heated through. Pour the chicken and vegetables into the wok on top of the rice and stir to combine. Add ground red pepper. Stir well.

4.13.2010

Sweet and Sour Chicken


One of my favorite times of entertaining is having friends over for a comfortable, not formal, dinner. For such times I like to serve something a little nicer than I would serve to my family on a normal weeknight, but something that is still simple. Part of the enjoyment would be taken away if I prepared a meal that would stress me out too much. This recipe is one of those that is delicious but is a little different than something I would normally do.

The recipe came from my mother-in-law--I asked her where she got the recipe and she thinks she clipped it from a newspaper or magazine a few years ago. It is delicious served with rice, just be sure to put some of the sauce on the rice--yummy! I served it Easter weekend on Saturday night when my entire family was in town, and everyone loved it. I also did a simple salad with strawberries, bacon and pecans and grilled asparagus. Fantastic!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

8 boneless chicken breasts, pounded to be about 1/2" thick
1/2 cup all purpose flour
salt and pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
20 oz. can sliced pineapple
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons cornstarch
3/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 chicken bouillon cube

Salt and pepper chicken, then coat chicken lightly with flour. Brown chicken in oil over medium heat. Place in baking dish. Drain the pineapple. Put syrup in 2 cup measuring cup. Add water to make 1 1/4 cup; pour in medium saucepan. Add sugar, cornstarch, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and bouillon; whisk together over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Let boil two minutes, continuing to stir. Pour over chicken. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then add one pineapple slice to the top of each chicken breast. Bake an additional 30 minutes.
Serve with lots of white rice; sauce is good over rice. Sometimes I double the sauce recipe to make sure we have plenty!

Hope you have friends over soon--let me know if you enjoy it!

4.02.2010

Easter!

I don't know about you, but Easter is one of my favorite times of the year. Dreary winter is gone; in its place comes beautiful days and signs of new life all around us. And on top of all that, we are able to celebrate one of the most important days in the life of a Christian. I am truly thankful to God for what Easter means in my life.
Another thing that I am thankful for is that all of my children will be home for the weekend. We have some fun things planned--eating Mexican together on Friday night after everyone arrives, having a picnic Saturday for lunch, taking all the dogs (6 total) to the local dog park, cooking together Saturday afternoon for a yummy dinner that night, and last but not least going to church together to worship our risen Savior on Sunday. Then, we will come home and have lunch together. The menu will include: standing rib roast, new potatoes with ranch dressing and bacon (thanks to my friend Melia for sharing the recipe!), broccoli casserole, green beans, sauteed corn with red peppers, frozen fruit salad, rolls, and dessert. I plan to share several of these recipes in the coming days.
As you can see, much of our time is spent around the table together. I would think that is the case for your family as well. I had fun today putting together centerpieces for my dining room table where we will eat that big Easter Sunday lunch. For Valentine's Day I did something similar for a luncheon that I had and I thought it was cute, so I decided to go with the same idea only with an Easter theme.
I purchased 5" diameter round cylinder vases at Michael's (I think they were about $2-3 each). Then I found some round 3" vases the exact same height at WalMart for $1 each. My table seats 8, so I use three of these down the center. I placed the smaller vase inside the larger one (I put a piece of double stick tape on the bottom to make sure it stayed in place). For Valentine's Day I filled the space between the two vases with "red hot" candies, then filled the inner vase with red tulips. They were adorable.
For Easter, I bought bags of multi-colored jelly beans and poured a layer into the space approximately 2" high. Then I placed Peeps yellow bunnies in the remaining space.
After filling the entire space with Peeps, I carefully filled the inner vase with water (with a little flower food added). I purchased an assortment of flowers from my local wholesale florist (gerber daisies, iris, freesia, button mums, and tulips) and had fun filling the containers with them. Now, I am not a very good flower arranger, but that is not terribly important with a project like this. One of the most important things is to not leave the stems too long.
Here is the finished project......
And here are all three of them on my table.
I got this idea here.
My mom used to get a kick out of me when I was young because I always wanted to make the table pretty even when it wasn't a special occasion. I still enjoy doing that! It makes me happy to welcome my children home and to celebrate a special day together.
I hope you have a special day with your loved ones!