Szechuan Chicken and Snap Peas

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Szechuan Chicken and Snap Peas
courtesy of the book Good Fast Eats from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp chili garlic sauce
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 lb ground chicken (or turkey)
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 oz. snap peas
  • 1 medium sweet onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 (8-oz.) can sliced water chestnuts, drained
  • cooked white rice, for serving

Method

In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, sesame oil, hoisin, honey, and chili garlic sauce, Set aside.

Heat oil in large wok or nonstick skillet over medium-high. Add ground chicken, cook until browned and no pink remains, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks, about 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Add in snap peas, onion, garlic, and ginger. Sauté for 3 minutes. Pour in the rice wine vinegar; when it is mostly evaporated, give the soy sauce mixture a stir and add it to the pan, along with the water chestnuts. Sauté for another 3-4 more minute. Taste and adjust seasoning, if necessary.

Serve over cooked white rice.

NOTES

Gotta admit – I knew this one would be good, but I did not expect it would become one of my new favorite stir fry dishes. SO GOOD! For all its simplicity, it is just packed with flavor – and, bonus, it comes together lightning quick. Going to blast this one on repeat on my weekly menu for a while!

Sweet and Sour Chicken

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Sweet and Sour Chicken
courtesy of Good Fast Eats from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch, divided
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp ketchup
  • 1-1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 (8-oz.) can pineapple chunks, drained, juice reserved
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 small sweet onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • cooked white rice, for serving

Method

In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 tablespoon of the cornstarch and water, until combined. Whisk in the rice wine vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, soy sauce, and reserved pineapple juice.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high. Toss the chicken with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon cornstarch, and season with salt and pepper. Add to the skillet and cook without stirring for 2-3 minutes. Mix and continue to sauté for another 6-7 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate and set aside.

Add red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and onion to the skillet. Cook for 3 minutes until vegetables soften and get a bit charred. Season with salt and pepper. Pour in the sweet and sour mixture, along with the pineapple chunks. Cook for another 1-2 minutes to warm through and allow sauce to thicken. Add chicken back to skillet and stir to combine.

Serve over cooked white rice.

NOTES

I cannot remember how many years it’s been since I had takeout sweet and sour – mostly because it was usually so greasy and goopy that it no longer had any appeal.

But THIS one. This is way, way better – light and fresh, easy, delicious. Big thanks to Belly Full for making me remember why I loved this dish in the first place.

Spicy Beef Taquitos

img_2513img_4519Spicy Beef Taquitos

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 large jalapeno, stemmed and seeded ,very finely diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon New Mexico chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ancho chile powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup chunky salsa
  • 2 tablespoons sour cream
  • 4 ounces roasted hatch chiles, finely chopped (or sub 4-oz can diced green chiles)
  • 3 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
  • 10 small flour tortillas
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Method

Heat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with foil and then lightly mist it with cooking spray and set aside. Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add beef and cook, breaking into very small chunks with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink. Add jalapeno, onion, and garlic to the pan and cook until jalapeno and onion are tender, about 2-3 minutes. Add spices, salsa, sour cream, and hatch chiles. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and add the shredded cheese. Stir to combine.

Warm the tortillas in the microwave for 20-30 seconds until they are warm and pliable. Distribute filling, roll, place on baking sheet. Spray the tops of the taquitos lightly with cooking spray. Place the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes until tortillas are dark golden and crispy.

NOTES

I made these two weeks in a row and am probably going for a third. Steve says I need to put them on the weekly menu from now to infinity. Seriously, they are that good. Contemplating trying them with pulled pork or shredded chicken next.

One-Pot Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta

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One-Pot Creamy Tuscan Chicken Pasta
slightly adapted from Belly Full

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1-1/4 lb boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 8 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, stems removed, caps sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 3 cups chicken broth or stock
  • 8 ounces thin spaghetti, broken in half
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes with herbs, julienne cut, in oil, drained
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest (or sub 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cracked red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 cup (2 oz) shredded mozzarella
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz) grated Parmesan
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley

Method

Heat oil over medium-high in a very large skillet with a lid. Season chicken generously with salt and pepper, then add to the pan and saute until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Add mushrooms and garlic to the pan and cook for about 3 minutes, until the mushrooms have softened. Raise heat to high; add in white wine and allow to reduce by half. Pour in broth; bring to a boil.

Stir in the pasta, cover, and cook for about 9 minutes, until the pasta is tender and most of the liquid has absorbed.

Uncover and mix in chicken, sun dried tomatoes, and lemon zest. Season with the red pepper flakes and a few grinds of salt and black pepper, to taste. Add in cream and warm through. Stir in the mozzarella, Parmesan, and parsley.

Serve immediately.

NOTES

This was AMAZING. Pictures do not do it justice. Nothing I could say about it could do it justice. All I will say is that of the 29 recipes I have posted so far this year, this might top the list as my new favorite of 2016. Go. Make. This.

Sloppy Joes

IMG_0491.JPGSloppy Joes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 small sweet onion, diced
  • 1 small green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 1 tablespoon pickle juice
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Method

In a medium skillet over medium heat, brown the ground beef (breaking it into small bits as it cooks), onion, bell pepper until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in the salt, pepper, cayenne, ketchup, mustard, pickle juice, brown sugar, and water; mix thoroughly. Reduce heat, and simmer for 15 minutes until most of the liquid has disappeared. Serve warm on buns with chips and pickles on the side.

NOTES

Perfect weeknight meal: simple, family pleasing, quick. One of Steve’s all-time old-fashioned favorites. I’m not reinventing the wheel here, obviously, but I am quite pleased to have tweaked this into something that better suits our tastes – i.e., less sweet, more zing than typical recipes. And I love my addition of pickle juice – mixing it in with ketchup and mustard to make it like the “Braum’s sauce” we so enjoy on our burgers or for dipping fries. It really gives it something special.

Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

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Albondigas (Mexican Meatballs)

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1/2 lb bulk Mexican chorizo (I use my homemade version)
  • 1 cup bread crumbs (preferably fresh)
  • 1 egg
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated or minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, minced (plus 1/4 cup minced, for garnish)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Mexican
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Method

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Combine all of the meatball ingredients in a bowl and mix well. Pinch off about 1.5 tablespoons of filling and roll it into a ball about 1 inch in diameter. Repeat until you have made about 30 meatballs. Place the meatballs on a baking sheet lined with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until cooked through and sizzling.

Remove from oven. Serve over Spanish rice.

NOTES

Pretty much every time Steve and I ate my Albondigas Soup, one or both of us would say “you know, at some point, we should just have these meatballs by themselves over Spanish rice.” Obvkious yet brilliant. So I finally did it and oh man, what an awesome little meal. Proud of this one.

Spanish Rice

img_3461Spanish Rice

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1-1/2 cups uncooked long-grain rice
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3 cups water or chicken broth
  • 1 (8 oz.) can tomato sauce

Method

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium low heat. Add the rice and saute until golden brown. Add the onion, garlic, and seasonings and continue to saute for a couple more minutes. Add the water/broth and the tomato sauce. Stir and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until rice is cooked.

Remove from heat and let stand for 15 minutes, still covered, then fluff rice with a fork. Serve.

NOTES

For some reason, since moving back to Texas in 2011, I have had major Spanish rice problems. I made it fine for years in California but could not get it to work here. Most of the time, it came out undercooked and on the rare occasions when I didn’t, it was a big pan of soft mush.

But recently, through a lot of trial and error, weighing my ingredients, deleting another ingredient, and paying close attention to the browning process, I finally – FINALLY – have a Spanish rice recipe that works consistently again. I seriously cannot express how happy this makes me. A years-long kitchen fail and I conquered it. Yeah baby.