Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Orange Balsamic Glazed Chicken

Yesterday, I was seriously craving Orange Chicken. Which is sort of weird, because I am not normally a huge fan of Chinese food. My husband loves it, and when I'm not around to cook he will usually have Pearl River delivered so he can get his Chinese fix. But yesterday, I felt like Orange Chicken and I felt like making it from scratch.

In my usual fashion, I was daydreaming about dinner while at work and did a search for Orange Chicken. I found several recipes and then decided to make a sort of Frankenstein recipe.  I basically took a Rachael Ray recipe and made a couple of changes based on other ones and a couple of the reviewers ssuggestions.

This one is from 30 Minute Meals, so it is a quick and easy weeknight dinner. I think Scott was really impressed / intrigued that I was attempting to make it from scratch. (Or from "scraps" as he used to say when he was little).

Here is what you'll need to make 3 servings (or 4 light servings)

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 boneless skinless chicken breast
2 boneless skinless thighs
Salt and pepper
1 tsp poultry seasoning
3 tbsp all purpose flour, divided

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped (or about 1/2 tsp dried)
1 tbsp butter
1/3 cup orange marmalade
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chicken stock
2 tbsp honey
a Squeeze of lemon juice
2 scallions, whites and greens, finely chopped


In a large pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high to high heat. Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Then coat with 2 tbsp of flour and shake off the excess.
When the oil is hot and ripples, add the chicken and brown for 5 minutes, then turn and sprinkle with rosemary. Cook until the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more. Set aside on a plate.

In a 2 cup measuring cup, stir together the marmalade, vinegar and stock. Put the butter into the wok to melt, then sprinkle the last tbsp of flour to make a roux. Once it bubbles a bit, add the stock mixture. Whisk for 2 to 3 minutes or until the sauce has thickened and becomes a thin glaze. Stir in the honey and lemon juice and whick until blended.

Garnish with green onion. Serve with brown or white rice and a green veggie like zucchini or broccoli. Rachael ray says to top it with Arugula, which I am sure would be good, too.

I would advise that this be eaten up the night you make it. The leftovers weren't as good, in my opinion... but if you like re-heated chinese food, then I'm sure this will be perfect for you.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Skinny Sesame Peanut Noodles

Here is another delicious recipe from Cook Yourself Thin, my go-to low calorie cookbook. These Asian inspired noodles are cool and refreshing with layers of flavor from some peanut butter, fresh ginger and sesame oil. It also has a great balance of textures: you get the silkiness of the dressing and soft noodles plus a kicky crunch from the peppers, apple and jicama.

I debated reporting about this recipe on the blog. These noodles were super tasty and received rave reviews from my friends who ate it, but it was a little time consuming and I felt like it dirtied a LOT of dishes. Another gripe I had was the fact that you just need a little bit of each ingredient. You end up with a half used jicama, part of an apple, half a head of cabbage, half of a bell pepper. You get the idea, but I like recipes that use up the whole ingredient. This would be even worse if you were to half the recipe. Next time I will just use up the pepper, apple and jicama making it a little more bulky with produce instead of mainly noodles.

This is a great summer meal... even though it's October, it's still feeling like summer here in California.

The recipe:

8 oz whole wheat spaghetti (or Soba noodles if you want to go gluten free and nix the soy sauce)

for the dressing:
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/4 c. low soduim soy sauce
1/4 c. natural peanut butter
2 tbsp grated ginger
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
the juice of 1 lime
1/2 c. hot water

1/2 bag of store-bought coleslaw mix (or just 2 cups shredded cabbage)
1/2 c. red bell pepper, sliced thinly
1/2 c. cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. apple, sliced thinly
1/2 c. jicama, sliced or cubed
1/2 a lime, squeezed
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted
2 scallions, sliced

dry roasted peanuts
more cilantro
Sriracha if desired

Boil the pasta according to the package instructions. Drain and run under cold water. Set aside.

For the dressing, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk until blended. Add to the drained and cooled pasta and toss.

Toss in all remaining ingredients and squeeze the lime juice over the top. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve cold. Garnish with peanuts and more cilantro if desired.I had some "5 Alarm" spicy peanuts which were perfect here. I also added a little Sriracha to give it more of a kick.

Serves 6 with 308 calories per serving.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Easy Peasy Baby Blankets

If you ever need a superquick baby shower gift, or simply want to make something handmade that will be well used and well loved, make a couple of these blankets.

You need 2 yards of coordinating fabric, 1 in each print. I like to use flannel or fleece so they are nice and soft against baby's skin.

Press the fabric and then pin them together right sides facing each other. Sew with 1/4 inch seam allowance on all 4 sides, leaving a 6 inch gap on the last side. Turn right side out through the gap you left, then turn the open edges in (you can press the fold in to help it to stay) and then top stitch to close with a coordinating thread, continuing the stitch all the way around. Done and done.

I like to use a zigzag stitch to make it a little more visually interesting. This top stitch also helps the layers to not shift around when washed.

These blankets are great for swaddling since they are so big but not too bulky, and they can be used as baby grows..

They can be rolled up and thrown in a diaper bag as a just-in-case-it-gets-cold blanket, spread out on the grass as a play mat and maybe even turn out to be the famed balankey that the child still favors when they are an adult five or six years old.

Easy Peasy, right?

These are all examples of blankets I've made in the past few months- the monkeys were for my cousin Annette and her baby boy, Alex. The orange medallions with the tan backing was for my sister-in-law, Paige and her baby girl, Hadley. The birdies with the yellow backing were for my friend Karen and her baby girl who is due on 11/11/11.