Cashew Chicken

The goal of this blog is not to just provide another great recipe to try. The purpose is to inspire creative and healthy cooking and eating. All of our recipes feature a lot of fruit and vegetables. This one doesn’t. There is one bell pepper and two green onions. When portioned out to serving size this doesn’t offer even one full serving of vegetables. You may be asking why it is even here. So let me tell you.

This is one of my very favorite dinner menu items is Asian Salad and this recipe pairs perfectly with it. I don’t eat a lot of Cashew Chicken. Maybe half cup with a quarter cup of rice on the side of my huge plate of Asian Salad. This came to be when my growing boys (I have a lot of them if you didn’t already know) brought to my attention they view salad as a starter. In all honestly my husband had told me this several times over the years, but I just thought he was being strange. So making sides like this started to happen on Asian Salad night and I have grown to really enjoy this recipe. Even more I enjoy gathering at the table and enjoying time and great food with the children. Enjoy!

Notes: If you want to bulk up the vegetables in this recipe I have enjoyed reducing the amount of chicken and replacing it with 2 cups broccoli and 1 cup zucchini. Looking for a delicious salad to go with this? Try Asian Shrimp Salad here.

cashew-chickenIngredient List:

  • 1/2 cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
  • 1 Tablespoon Rice Vinegar
  • 1 Tablespoon Packed Brown Sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons Oyster Sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil
  • 3 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 6 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs, Cut Into Small Cubes
  • Kosher Salt To Taste
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic
  • 1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Ginger
  • 1 whole Bell Pepper, Chopped – I like red but green is more commonly used
  • 1/4 cup Chicken Broth
  • 2 Tablespoons Cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup Drained Canned Water Chestnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 1 cup Unsalted Cashews (using unsalted is important)
  • 2 whole Green Onions, Thinly Sliced
  • Cooked Rice Or Noodles, For Serving (optional)

How To:

  1. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, oyster sauce, and sesame oil. The first five ingredients. Set aside.
  2. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over high heat. Add the chicken evenly spread in the pan. Let cook for a few minutes to give the chicken a chance to brown. When the chicken has turned golden, stir it around so that it can brown on all sides. Throw in the garlic and ginger and stir to combine. Stir in the bell pepper and let it cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. While the pan is still hot, pour in the broth. Stir it around, scraping the bottom of the pan to loosen all the flavorful bits. Turn the heat to medium-low and pour in the sauce mixture, then mix the cornstarch with 1/4 cup water to make a slurry and pour it in. Stir the sauce for 1 to 2 minutes to thicken, then add the water chestnuts and cashews and stir to coat everything with the sauce, adding a splash of water if the sauce is too thick.
  4. Finally, sprinkle on the green onions. Serve with cooked rice or noodles.

 

Posted in Broccoli, Chicken, Garlic, Ginger Root, Onion, Peppers, Zucchini & Summer Squash | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Mexican Spaghetti Squash

My husband grew up in a small town in Idaho. Home style cooking at his house included, you guessed it, potatoes. His family purchased cases from the local packing company where his mother was working for several years. It also included a lot of Mexican food. His family ate fried tacos every week and enjoyed other Mexican dishes like tamales and enchiladas. As we have blended our menu with dishes we grew up eating and a lot of new varieties of food we still try to include Mexican inspired dishes nearly every week. I love to prepare foods that are built around great in season produce like the recipe below made with Spaghetti Squash.

Notes: I don’t microwave squash normally, but I know people who do and it sure would shorten the cooking time on this recipe. A large squash halved takes about ten minutes in the microwave on high compared with 40-60 minutes in the oven. I also love to serve this with the recipe from a long time customer called Texas Rice. I mix in black beans to make it rice and beans. I have seen similar recipes call for corn, but I haven’t tried it. 🙂

mexican-spaghetti-squash-casseroleMexican Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

·         One 3 pound spaghetti squash, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds scraped with a spoon

·         1 packet taco seasoning (or home made equivalent)

·         One 14.5 oz can fire roasted tomato, drained

·         ⅔ cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained

·         1 cup shredded Mexican blend cheese)

·         A few fresh jalapeño slices (optional)

·         ¼ cup fresh cilantro leaves, chopped (optional)

·         Salt and pepper to taste

·         For the simple avocado dip:

·         1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped

·         1 large avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

·         2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Instructions

1.     Preheat oven to 375ºF.

2.     Place the cut side down (skin facing up) in a baking dish. Bake for about 40 minutes until you can shred with a fork.

3.     Shred with a fork and place in a large bowl.

4.     Add taco seasoning and gently toss.

5.     Add fire roasted tomatoes and black beans and gently toss.

6.     Brush a 1.5 quart casserole dish with a little olive oil (you can also use cooking spray).

7.     Pour the spaghetti squash mixture into the casserole dish and spread evenly.

8.     Sprinkle cheese and add a few slices of fresh jalapeño on top and bake for 20-25 minutes, or until cheese has melted.

9.     Meanwhile, make the simple avocado dip by mashing the ingredients together with a fork until mostly smooth.

10.  Take spaghetti squash casserole out of the oven and top with avocado dip and cilantro. Serve immediately.

Posted in Avocado, Beans, Garlic, Herb, Winter Squash | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Squash Made Easy

Have you ever known something and so you assume everyone knows it? I had one of those moments after talking with a friend recently. She was lamenting how long and difficult big winter squash is to prepare when you are in a hurry on busy weeknight evenings. I hear that! You come home and you are in a hurry to get dinner on the table. You love the idea of serving fresh in season winter squash, but it can be a hassle.

First, out comes the cutting board and the giant knife. Then as the squash is rolling away you half it. Next the seeds need scraped out. Some recipes call for peeling. Then finally it’s time to bake the squash and a big one can take another hour. That’s all fine and I do prepare squashes this way, but let’s save that for the weekend. On weeknights I am all for things that make real food ready quickly.

I’m here to share in case you didn’t already know there is an easier way. In fact you could just come home and have the squash ready to puree in soup, bake in a casserole or sprinkle with cinnamon and butter and get to eating. Put away your giant knife, breathe deep and try this on your busy week night. Well, you need to start in the morning. Read on to find out how to make Winter Squash easy.

winter-squash-in-crockSlow Cooker Winter Squash

  1. 1.   Pierce the squash several times with a knife or a fork. We don’t need squash explosions, right?   2. Place your squash in the slow cooker. Add 1 1/2 cups water to cook on low for 6 hours or 3 cups to cook on high for about 4 hours. Cooking time and amount of water varies depending on the size and variety of winter squash.     3. Carefully remove the warm squash and allow to cool until you are able to handle. Cut the squash lengthwise. It should be very easy to cut. Scrape out seed and serve.

 

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Healthier (and tastier) than Takeout: Moo Goo Guy Pan

Happy New Year!

moo-goo-gai-panTakeout Chinese was something we did at least once a month before moving back to Boise. Since moving back we haven’t really found that diamond in the rough that serves healthy, delicious Chinese made with really fresh ingredients. If you know of one do tell. We have had better luck with Thai. The great thing about not finding this kind of food is that it has doubled my determination to learn to prepare really good Chinese food.

Over the years I have had lessons with people from all over the world sharing their best family recipes. One of the most healthy and simple recipe I have enjoyed regularly is this Moo Goo Guy Pan Recipe. It takes about 20 minutes to make and is full of fresh vegetables. We serve with rice, salad or spring rolls and if the kids get their way some kind of orange or mandarin chicken.

The literal translation for moo goo gai pan is button mushrooms, chicken, slices. Pretty spot on uh? A simple name for a simple stir fry. Enjoy!

Ingredients

·         1 tbsp peanut or canola oil

·         ½ pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, sliced into thin bite size piece

·         2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

·         1 cup button mushrooms, sliced in half

·         1 cup snow peas

·         ½ cup canned bamboo shoots (optional)

·         ¼ cup canned water chestnuts (optional)

·         1 tbsp cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp water

·         ground white pepper

·         For the sauce:

·         2 tbsp soy sauce

·         1 tsp rice vinegar

·         1 tsp cornstarch

·         ½ cup chicken stock (or better than bullion with water)

·         ½ tsp sugar

·         1 tsp sesame oil

·         ½ teaspoon freshly grated ginger root (optional)

Notes: I like to add 1/2 cup celery and 1/2 cup matchstick carrots, but this is not original to how I learned to make the dish.

Instructions

1.     In a pan over medium high heat, add peanut oil, garlic and chicken and cook for 5 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. Transfer chicken on a plate and set aside.

2.     In the same pan add mushrooms and snow peas and cook on medium high heat for 5 minutes.

3.     Add bamboo shoots, chestnuts and chicken and cook for 2 minutes.

4.     Add ingredients for the sauce and stir. Add cornstarch and water mix and stir until sauce thickens.

5.     Turn the heat off, season with ground white pepper and serve immediately.

 

Posted in Carrot, Celery, Chicken, Garlic, Ginger Root, Mushrooms, Peas | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment