Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Spicy Chinese Chicken & Orange Peel Chicken

Here it is. The (very) long awaited Spicy Chinese Chicken and Orange Peel Chicken recipes and how-to's!

Please forgive the lack of pictures. I learned the hard way that it is not ideal to take blog pictures at the same time you are cooking for company (at least not for me). I was busy trying to get everything else ready, that I kept forgetting about my friend, Camera.

So here are all of the culprits. Ninety-five percent of them are pantry staples. Another three percent are the kind that you can buy then have forever. Case in point: I've made these recipes more times than I can count, and just had to buy my second bottle of rice vinegar.
Oh, and I didn't take a picture of the chicken. I buy the Tyson bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts at Sam's (unless Dillon's has the fresh stuff on sale) and probably go through it in two weeks flat. It's so versatile and easy! Remember the frozen marinated chicken?

I love chicken. That's all there is to it.

Heat oil in a saucepan. Chop the onions and garlic. Oh garlic, my trusty, never-fail friend. Add onions and garlic to oil and saute for just a bit. Don't let the garlic burn. I don't think I've ever burned garlic, but I can't imagine it would smell wonderful.

Why my burner is blue, I have no clue. I'm guessing Camera thought it was helping out with "red eye reduction"? Oh well, it's a pretty picture at the least.

Next add the pineapple juice, chili sauce, rice vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce.

Whisk together a few tablespoons of corn starch and 3 or 4 tablespoons of water to make a paste. Add this to the sauce. Corn starch acts as a thickening agent. And the thicker the sauce, the more it sticks to the chicken. Mmm.

Just look at that sauce thickening away.

Bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer. The recipe says 3-5 minutes. But it simmers for as long as I need it to while I'm doing other things, like getting the chicken cooked. Don't be afraid you'll mess it up. Just keep the heat low to med-low and give it a friendly stir every once in a while. It won't hate you.

I have NO pictures of me cooking the chicken, but here's the low-down:
For four people (two of them, hungry men), I used 5... or 6... chicken breasts (that's what I get for waiting two weeks to blog about this). Chop in bite size pieces and toss them in a Ziploc bag with about 1/4 cup of corn starch. For this much chicken, I used two Ziploc bags so there would be plenty of room for them to do their dance while I tossed. The chicken dance. Ah. Ha. Ha.

Heat a wok or pan with enough canola (or vegetable) oil to cover about 1/3 to 1/2 of the chicken piece. You don't want your chicken swimming in oil, but if you don't have enough, the oil will spit angrily at you.*

When chicken is cooked, drain on a paper plate covered with a few paper towels. I'm all for easy clean up. When chicken has drained, add to the sauce, and voi-la!

This is a picture of both kinds of chicken. I usually serve with brown rice (a favorite at our house), but jasmine rice is what I had, so it worked. I don't even bother to make any other side dishes. When it comes to this chicken, meat and rice is all we care about :)

Now, the Spicy Chicken is my husband's favorite (and the kind I make most of the time), but Orange Peel Chicken is MY favorite. It's pretty much the same concept, so I'll just jot down the recipe for you down below... On a side note, for the orange rinds, I just had clementine cuties, and it worked just perfect.

Oh yummy-licious.

The Specs:

Spicy Chinese Chicken
- serves 2 -

2 t. oil (vegetable or canola)
2 T. chopped garlic (3-4 cloves)
3 T. chopped green onions (about 3 onions)
1 c. pineapple juice
2 T. chili sauce (found in the Asian section of any grocery store)
2 T. rice vinegar
4 t. sugar
1 t. soy sauce

2T water & 1T. cornstarch for thickening sauce

1 c. oil
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/3 c. cornstarch

Make sauce by heating 2t. oil in medium saucepan. Saute the garlic and onions for a few seconds, not allowing ingredients to burn, then quickly add the pineapple juice, chili sauce, vinegar, sugar, and soy sauce.

Dissolve cornstarch and water mixture and add to the saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil and continue to simmer on medium heat for 3-5 minutes or until thick and syrupy.

Heat 1 c. oil in wok or pan. Chop chicken into bite-size pieces. In a bowl or Ziploc bag, toss chicken with cornstarch until dusted.*

Saute coated chicken until light brown. Remove chicken to a rack or paper towels to drain for a moment. Add chicken to sauce and serve immediately with rice on the side.

Orange Peel Chicken
- serves 3 to 4 -

1 T. oil
2 T. minced garlic
4 green onions, sliced
1 c. tomato sauce
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. sugar
2 T. chili sauce
1 T. soy sauce
peel from 1/4 of an orange, julienned into 1/8in. wide strips)
1/2 c. oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 c. cornstarch
Prepare sauce by heating 1 T. oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add minced garlic and sliced green onions. Add tomato sauce and water quickly before the garlic burns. Add sugar, chili sauce, soy sauce, and orange strips; bring to boil. Simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until sauce thickens, then turn to low.
Heat 1 c. oil in wok or pan. Chop chicken into bite-size pieces. In a bowl or Ziploc bag, toss chicken with cornstarch until dusted.*
Saute coated chicken until light brown. Remove chicken to a rack or paper towels to drain for a moment. Add chicken to sauce and serve immediately with rice on the side.
*To make this dish a little more heart-friendly, (and half the time I don't feel like cleaning up grease spatters), I'll chop my chicken, then saute it with a little olive oil and garlic powder. It doesn't have the same "crunch" as the fried, but when you put it with the sauce, you'll hardly miss the crunch. And your arteries will thank you.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010


"I love deadlines... I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by" -Douglas Adams

I'm hoping you don't remember, but if you do, I need to live up to it.

In my last post I said that the Spicy Chinese Chicken recipe would be added by the end of the week.

I'm pretty sure that was almost two weeks ago.

So I've decided that instead of putting deadlines/dates on my blogs, I need to write non-committal words like "soon" or "in the near future". The reader can interpret as they please, and I'm off the hook as far as deadlines.

SO... New recipe coming soon :)

Monday, April 12, 2010

Hawaiian Bread & Garlic Herb Bread

Here it is ladies and gentlemen.

My all-time favorite bread in the world.

Sweet Hawaiian Bread.

So delicious.

So versatile.

Make it into rolls for miniature deliciousness.

Oh my.

I start by getting frozen orange juice. I make the juice, then freeze what I don't use in 1 cup portions. I also do this with pineapple juice because my Spicy Chinese Chicken (recipe coming this week!) uses pineapple juice. AND you can use it for Hawaiian bread too.

On to the fun stuff... The cast of characters:
  • 1 c. orange juice (or pineapple)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 c. milk
  • 4 T. soft butter
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 t. salt
  • 1/3 c. sugar
  • 1/2 c. potato flakes
  • 4 c. bread flour (check it while it's kneading, if appears too gooey, add more 1/2 c. at a time)
  • 1 1/2 t. yeast

Can I just say how much I love recipe cards that are used and imperfect? There's just something about a tattered recipe that says "I'm delicious. And generations before you agreed". Granted, I wrote out this recipe (taken from my mom), but maybe my great great grandchildren will be able to enjoy it.

Add the ingredients in order listed into your bread machine pan. Yes, I use a bread machine for the mixing, kneading, and first rise. Please don't tell my great grandmother. She'd roll over in her grave.

Set your bread machine for the dough cycle. I don't like the crust that the bread machine makes if I let it finish baking (really hard and crunchy), so I take it out and bake it myself. Unless I'm desperate for carbs and won't be around to take it out.

On a side note, if your dough looks like this...

... put it back in the machine, add more flour and mix. I attempted to just knead some more flour in, but it needed a lot more flour. Oops. Recipe noted and changed.

Ahh, much better. You can either roll in a log-form, or two round loaves, or 16 rolls.
I recently discovered a great use for my oven's warming drawer. I loved my oven when I picked it out, but didn't give much thought to the warming drawer (and actually thought, "darn, now I have to store my cookie sheets somewhere else").

But me-o-MY. This thing is great for rising bread! I spray the loaf with non-stick cooking spray, then cover it with saran wrap. Into the warming drawer it goes for about 20-30 minutes (until loaf has doubled in size).

After bread has risen, bake at 350 for about 30-40 minutes. This picture was taken at about 20 minutes. At this point, please resist the urge to take it out that minute and start chowing. It smells just like I imagine Heaven does. And I actually like dough, so under-cooked bread doesn't bother me. But for the sake of other people in the house, leave it in until it's done.

When it's finally done baking, take a few tablespoons of butter and spread it over the top.

My mouth is watering just typing about it.

In my humble opinion the absolute best part of fresh bread are the ends. When we were younger, we would fight for the ends. Slather it in butter, let the butter and bread become one, and enjoy every fantastical bite.

I won't post the step-by-step for Garlic Herb bread, because it's basically the same thing. I use this bread for my pizza crust, bread sticks, dinner rolls, sandwich bread, and "I want to eat two weeks worth of carbs right now" bread.

  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • 2 T. margarine (softened)
  • 2 large cloves garlic (I love the jars of roasted garlic)
  • 2 T. sugar
  • 2 t. salt
  • 1 T. Italian seasoning
  • 3 c. bread flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour
  • 1 3/4 t. yeast

Easter 2010

We had such a great Easter! Started with an amazing, Spirit-filled church service. We went to the early Breakthru service at 9:15 and I didn't want to leave, so we stayed for the 10:45 one also :)

Wait a sec... It didn't start then.

Lemme back up.

My side of the family decided to celebrate on Saturday since it's kind of a headache to get a time scheduled with 4 kid's calendars, 3 sets of in-laws, 2 kiddos with nap- times, and a partridge in a pear tree

A few weeks before Easter, I saw an aDORable 4-layer colorful cake on my friend's blogs, and thought I'd try it out. Even though, if you'll remember with me, the last layer cake I made. It not only was a bit on the Pisa side, I didn't even spell "Birthday" correct. Yep, that's right. I forgot the ever-important "H". But it didn't have to leave the house, since it was for Chris, and he got a kick out of it.

I digress.

Here are a few work-in-progress pictures. Not as many as I would have liked, but it was late, and my pregnant feet were begging to be elevated in bed.

I used box cake mix (2 for a 4-layer), and food coloring gels. My aunt who makes delicious wedding cakes (she made ours) uses a box mix, then right out of the oven, wraps in saran wrap and freezes the layers, which holds in the moisture. And the frozen layers were a bit easier to shave and carve.
The frosting was a "wedding cake" frosting I found on It was incredibly healthy with 1 cup shortening and 1 cup butter and 8 cups of powdered sugar. And by healthy, I mean heart-attack. But I very much dislike whipped frostings, so bring on the buttercream! (and the bypass)
I was pretty pleased with the way the colors turned out :) Everyone said it was great. Baby Shields wasn't interested in sweets that day, but I did try some later, and thought it wasn't too shabby ;)

Alright, so after cake was an Easter egg hunt. My mom practiced with Ellie (who is 20 months) the week before so she knew what to do, and Ava is a pro (at the ripe age of almost 4)

This would be Ellie saying "open, open"... Every time she got an egg she wanted to open it :) Mom was smart and put only one or two M&Ms or jelly beans in each egg ;)

Sunday after Breakthru, we went to Chris' aunt's house (the Shields' side) for brisket and chicken noodles. We were able to spend time with his aunt, uncle, and cousins from Oklahoma, which was great :) Then later that day (after a nap at home), we spent some time with his mom's side of the fam.

I love to think that next Easter we'll have a 6 month old baby! :)

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Recipes Coming Soon!

I was so excited to be posting a recipe today!

I had my camera ready and everything.

Then I realized that I didn't have all of my ingredients. And I want to post the "true" recipe (then let you know what I do when I don't have all of the ingredients). But all is okay, because I'm making this again next Thursday for my brother and sister-in-law. So be excited. Be very excited. Spicy Chinese Chicken how-to will soon be posted.

Then I thought, "well to satisfy a blog urge (and a carb urge), I'll make some Hawaiian bread and post that!"...

I start to get all of the ingredients out and place them nicely together for a "before" group shot.

Aaaand, someone doesn't know what it means to keep up on groceries. I'm out of eggs. What kind of God-fearin', cookie-bakin', sunnofagun runs out of eggs?

Apparently I do.


Be very excited for TWO exciting and delicious (but mainly delicious) recipes coming your way soon. Very soon.

I'll leave you with a picture of my niece, Ellie. Because I don't have the heart to make you read all of that and leave you with nothing. That just wouldn't be nice.

So here's my little gymnast family member. I've been told she sleeps like this all of the time. And she can already do the splits. I just die every time I see this.