Monday, September 30, 2013

Bang Bang Chicken

Wow.  This dinner is packed with flavor.  Yum, yum, yum!

My dinner presentation is usually lacking, but this bowl looked awesome.

And it tasted as great as it looked.

I'm not sure how to even describe these flavors.  Asian-fusion?  Maybe.  It's a knock-off of Cheesecake Factory's Bang-Bang Chicken & Shrimp.  I think it's actually a pretty good copycat, but regardless, it's amazing.

Julienne the carrots and zucchini - this is the only part of the recipe that takes a bit of time.  It's worth it though.  The veggies will cook quickly and more evenly this way.  You could definitely substitute some pre-packaged shredded carrots for the julienned carrots to save some time.

As with everything in my life, it's all about the sauce.  The sauce, people.  Mmmm.... It's fabulous.  It's worth making this dish just for the sauce.

For the coconut milk, I used lite from Trader Joe's.  It's the cheapest price I've found anywhere and I don't think the flavor is compromised by lite...probably because there's still plenty of fat even in the lite coconut milk.

To serve, ladle the chicken/sauce/veggie mixture into a wide-bottom bowl and then scoop the rice on top.

Garnish it and dig in.

Bang Bang Chicken
Adapted from Lauren's Latest

2 T olive oil
3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, chopped into bite-sized pieces
1 medium zucchini, julienned
1 1/2 cups julienned carrots
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 T grated fresh ginger
3 T flour
1 cup chicken stock
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 can coconut milk (I used lite)
2 T creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup sugar
1 T curry powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 cup cream
3/4 cup frozen petite peas
shredded coconut, peanuts, green onions, red pepper flakes and black sesame seeds, for garnish
hot cooked rice, for serving

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the chicken chunks and saute on one side for about 2 minutes, until they easily release from the pan when you turn them.

Add the zucchini, carrots, onion, garlic and ginger.  Saute for about 5 minutes, until the veggies begin to soften.  Sprinkle in the flour and stir well.

Add the chicken stock, salt, pepper, coconut milk, peanut butter, sugar, curry and turmeric.  Stir to combine and bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Cook for about 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the veggies are soft.

Remove from the heat, stir in the cream and peas, and serve over hot cooked rice.  Garnish with coconut, peanuts, green onions, red pepper flakes and black sesame seeds.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Chocolate Chip Granola Bars

In an effort to keep it real here in Pithy's Kitchen, I need to tell you that I've not been very inspired lately.

At all.

We've eaten things from the freezer. Lately, a lot.

And sometimes I'll try to make leftovers seem really fun.  I'll pull everything out of the refrigerator and say something like: "You get to choose your own dinner tonight!"

My kids think it's fun.  My husband sees right through my scheme.  Fortunately, he is sweet.

I've been preoccupied.  With, um...things like...kindergarten.  Yes, that must be the reason that I can't think of anything fun to cook.

But!  Pinterest prevails.  Yet again.

These granola bars?  Top-notch.  Really.

It's taking me forever to write this post because I keep getting up to cut myself another one.

I'm just going to finish this post now so I can go finish the pan.


Chocolate Chip Granola Bars
Adapted from Once Upon a Chef

6 T butter
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups quick-cook oats (not old-fashioned or instant oats; use the 1-minute quick cook kind)
2 cups Rice Krispies
1/4 cup wheat germ
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Melt the butter, honey, dark brown sugar and salt together in a small saucepan.  Bring to a low simmer and cook for about a minute.  Remove from heat and add vanilla.

In a large bowl, combine the oats, rice krispy cereal and wheat germ.  Pour the syrup over the mixture and stir to combine.

Press into a 9x13 dish lined with parchment paper.  Sprinkle the chocolate chips evenly on top and press lightly so they will stick to the top of the granola bar.  Chill in the refrigerator for about an hour or cool on the counter for a couple of hours before slicing.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers

I made these peppers last week...

and I'm pushing them to the front of my "post queue" because I'm making them again.  ASAP.

I absolutely loved these.  Partly because peppers are plentiful right now, and I'm trying to come up with new ways to use them.

Enchilada stuffed peppers?  Perfect.  Not my original idea, but I took it and ran with it.

So good, people.  So good.

I whipped up a little pico de gallo to put on top, but it's not necessary.  They were awesome on their own.

Next time I might try tomatillo dad just brought me some fresh tomatillos from his garden.  I think that would be perfect on top.

And my kids?  Loved them too.

My kids don't love everything I make.  But I do make them try everything I make.  And sometimes they surprise me.

Like kale chips?  Baby Bear loved them.  Big Sis loved them.  Little Sis?  Wouldn't touch them.

You win some, you lose some.  These stuffed peppers are a definite win.

Enchilada Stuffed Peppers
Adapted from How Sweet It Is

4 large bell peppers (I used a combo of red/yellow/orange) or 6 medium peppers
1/2 cup uncooked rice
1 cup water
1/2 onion, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1/2 cup black beans (from can, drained and rinsed)
2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cooked and chopped fine
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt
4 oz. can green chiles
1/4 cup sour cream
2 10 oz. cans red enchilada sauce
1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese (Monterey Jack or cheddar would be good too)

Use a knife to cut around the stem of the pepper.  Remove as little of the top of pepper as possible.  Remove the ribs and seeds from inside.  Place the peppers in an 8x8 baking dish.

Cook the rice and onion in the water for 20-25 minutes, until the rice is tender.  Mix the rice and onions with the cilantro, black beans, chicken, cumin, salt, garlic powder, green chiles and sour cream.  Fill the peppers with the mixture.  Pour one can of enchilada sauce over the top of the peppers, dividing the can as equally as possible between the peppers.  Pour the other can of sauce into the dish for the peppers to cook in.  Top each pepper with cheese.

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes to an hour.  The peppers will soften on top first, but cook the peppers until they are soft on the bottom as well.  Serve hot.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Butterscotch Toffee Chip Cookies

I have very few pictures of these cookies!  They were consumed too fast to get many pictures.

But they were absolutely delicious.

I started with my great-grandmother's oatmeal cookies as the base...

and then I added butterscotch chips and toffee chips.

Anything would be good with these two characters.

And there's two things you want to do...

refrigerate the dough for a few hours (it will keep the cookies from spreading as they cook)

and slightly under-bake the cookies.  Take them out of the oven while they still look a little under-done.

They will set up as they cool.

The interesting thing is that no one even knew these were oatmeal cookies!  I guess the copious amounts of toffee and butterscotch disguised the oats?

Anyway, they were really good.  Remember that whatever your needs, cookies are always a good idea.

Butterscotch Toffee Cookies
Adapted from Grandmama's Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup canola oil
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 tsp vanilla
2 eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
3 cups quick-cook oats
11 oz. package butterscotch chips
8 oz. Heath toffee bits (not the milk chocolate ones - just the plain toffee chips)

Use a mixer to beat together the oil, sugars and vanilla.  Add the eggs and combine.  Add the salt, baking soda and flour.  Mix a couple of times to begin incorporating.   Add the remaining ingredients and mix until just combined.  Do not overmix!

Use a medium cookie scoop to place cookie mounds on a baking sheet.  Refrigerate for at least 3 hours before baking.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 8-9 minutes.  Remove the cookies from the oven while they look a little underdone.  They will set up as they cool.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Roasted Summer Veggies

We're in full swing of kindergarten-schedule adjustment 'round here.  Thankfully it's only half-day!  I don't think I would survive a whole day.  First grade is going to be a rude awakening.

And when I say "we're adjusting," I mean "we."  Literally.  All of us.  Well, except for Baby Bear.  He's adaptable.  He goes with the flow.  He rides along and blows bubbles and giggles at his sisters.  It's the life, I tell you.

Speaking of Baby Bear, he just turned one!  A whole year.  I ate chocolate cake in celebration.  And Baby Bear?  Well, he now gets to eat peanut butter.  Do I even need to tell you how much he loves it.

And he's supposed to drink whole milk.  He says no thanks.  About ten times a day.  Hmmm.  He's still nursing, which is probably partly why he won't drink a cup of cow's milk.  He swats it away every time I pull it out of the fridge.

I'm receiving suggestions if you have any.  My girls didn't love milk when they turned one, but this boy has taken it to another level.

And so on a completely unrelated note, I roasted veggies for dinner the other night.  We all enjoyed it.  Baby Bear popped the little chopped up veggies like I pop M&M's.

It was great.  Will be making these again soon.  I used to make them all the time.  Until I forgot about them.  And then I remembered!  Memory is a great thing.

And roasting food is a great thing.  Great texture, concentrated flavor, put it in the oven and let it magically turn into something wonderful to eat.

Roasted Summer Veggies
Inspired by In the Bluegrass and Beyond

2 zucchini, quartered then diced into small pieces
1 eggplant, peeled and diced into small pieces
1 onion, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
Couscous, prepared, and shredded cheddar, for serving (optional)

On a large sheet tray, toss the chopped veggies with the olive oil, salt and pepper.  Roast in a 400 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes until soft and starting to brown.  Serve on top of couscous and sprinkle with shredded cheddar, if desired.  Also delicious by themselves!