About straightarrowlife

Atheist, critical thinker, passionate cook, junglist, runner, writer, scientist, hardcore Whovian.

Kung Pao Ground Chicken

IMG_3203IMG_3200Kung Pao Ground Chicken

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1-1/4 pounds ground chicken
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 large zucchini, finely diced
  • 10 arbol chiles, heads cut off, left whole
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts, sliced in 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon grated (or minced) fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon grated (or minced) fresh garlic
  • 4 ounces dry roasted peanuts
  • Cooked jasmine rice, for serving
  • Crushed chile flakes (optional), for serving

Method

Combine the black soy sauce, Shaoxing wine, rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, sesame oil, and cornstarch in a small bowl and whisk together. Set aside.

Heat the oil in a wok (or large deep skillet) over high heat. Add the ground chicken, season with the salt and pepper, then stir fry, breaking it apart with a wooden spoon as it browns, for about 4 minutes, until mostly cooked through. Add the red bell pepper and zucchini and continue to stir fry for another 2 minutes, until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the chiles, scallions, ginger, garlic, and peanuts to the pan. Stir for about 30 seconds, then add the stir fry sauce. Bring to a boil and stir continuously until the sauce has thickened.

Serve over white or brown jasmine rice with additional chile flakes, if desired.

NOTES

I’m a little bit in love with this dish. It is essentially my Kung Pao Chicken recipe, but with ground meat, different vegetables, and an easier and more streamlined cooking process – which makes me want to replace my original with this one for the foreseeable future!

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Ancho Chorizo Chili

IMG_3197IMG_3644
Ancho Chorizo Chili
slightly adapted from Simply Scratch

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 pound ground chorizo (I use my homemade version)
  • 1 (28 ounce) can crushed fire roasted tomatoes (or regular crushed tomatoes)
  • 1 (15 ounce) can tomato puree
  • 1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons ground ancho chili powder or more to taste
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup of stock or water

Suggested sides/toppings: sliced avocado, pico de gallo, cilantro, green onions, sour cream, cheddar or jack cheese, hot sauce, cornbread, tortilla chips, corn chips

Method

Heat a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Once hot, add in a tablespoon of olive oil along with the onion and a pinch of kosher salt. Saute for about 4 minutes or until the onion is just tender. Add the garlic and stir until fragrant, about 30 seconds.

Add in the lean ground beef and chorizo. Use your wooden spatula to break up the meat into small crumbles and cook, stirring occasionally until no longer pink. Drain off all the fat in the bottom of the pan.

Add the crushed tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, ancho chili powder, salt, cumin, Mexican oregano, sugar, and stock. Stir and bring to a gentle bubble, then reduce to low and simmer for 35-40 minutes.

Serve with desired sides/toppings and enjoy!

NOTES

OH MAN. This was amazing. I am not usually a big fan of chili (I know, sacrilege!), but for some reason when I randomly stumbled across Laurie’s post, the words “ancho” and “chorizo” took hold in my brain and wouldn’t leave. Maybe because I’ve been so into my recently tweaked homemade chorizo and I’ve been looking for new ways to use it. Whatever it was, I had to make this immediately – and I did not regret it. I admit being hesitant about adding in a full three tablespoons of ancho chile powder, but I’m glad I trusted her judgment and went for it. CRAZY good.

This made a solid six portions for us. I gave two to a friend and then ate my two servings as shown above. Steve had his first with just Fritos and pico and his second with Fritos and… hot dogs! I say that with a bit of a laugh only because we normally don’t think of chili with beans as being good hot dog chili, but we were both pretty blown away by how well it worked. Not a big hot dog fan myself, but for those of you who love them, I highly recommend.

Chorizo-Stuffed Hatch Chiles

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Chorizo-Stuffed Hatch Chiles
with a nod to Once A Month Meals

Ingredients

  • 10 large fresh hatch chiles (hot or mild)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 lb Mexican-style chorizo (I use my homemade version)
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2/3 cup frozen corn kernels
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 4 oz roasted hatch chiles, diced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon New Mexican chile powder
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded cheddar cheese, divided

Method

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. To prepare the chiles (pro tip: WEAR GLOVES), cut the heads off, then slice on one side, down the middle, devein, and seed.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium high. Add the chorizo and saute until browned and cooked through, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and garlic and saute for another 3 minutes, until just soft.

Reduce heat to medium low. Add the black beans, corn, tomatoes, diced hatch chiles, cumin, oregano, chile powder, and salt; stir to combine and simmer for a few minutes, until heated through.

Remove from heat and pour into a medium mixing bowl. Add 1/2 cup cheese and stir into the chorizo mixture until melted.

Spoon one-tenth of the mixture into each of the chiles, taking care not to rip the chiles all the way open.

Bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes or until the chiles are soft. Remove pan from oven, top with the remaining 1/2 cup cheese, then put the pan back in the oven for another few minutes until the cheese is melted. Serve.

NOTES

This is the third year in a row I have made these with in-season hatch chiles and I figured it was about time to get a recipe down. This is a spectacular and impressive (yet simple!) meal, and a great way to highlight the best of the season. I love serving mine with hatch chile cornbread on the side, but refried beans or a pile of Spanish rice would also do quite nicely.

Peanut Butter M&M Cookies

IMG_1998Peanut Butter M&M Cookies
(makes 3 dozen small cookies)
courtesy of Sally’s Baking Addiction

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick or 115g) salted butter, softened to room temperature*
  • 1/2 cup (100g) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup (185g) creamy peanut butter
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 and 1/4 cups (160g) all purpose flour
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (300g) M&Ms
  • Coarse salt for topping, if desired

Method

In a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer or stand mixer with paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together on medium speed. Mix in the peanut butter, egg, and vanilla (in that order). Slowly mix in the baking soda and flour. Do not overmix. Fold in the M&Ms with a wooden spoon. Chill the dough for at least 30 minutes (I left mine overnight).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drop chilled dough by tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet or silicone baking mat. I pressed a few M&Ms on top of the dough balls. Press the balls down (only slightly) since they won’t spread much while baking. Bake for 8-9 minutes (SEE NOTES). Cookies will be soft and may appear undone. They will firm up as they cool.

Transfer to wire rack, sprinkle with coarse salt (if using), and allow to cool completely. Enjoy!

NOTES

Best. Cookies. Ever. No exaggeration. And super easy to boot. I highly recommend the salt – it adds that perfect balance to the sweet and the nutty. This is definitely one for my back pocket for family gatherings and birthdays.

Note about the cooking time: Sally says they only take 8 to 9 minutes – and they may, if I use my plain cookie sheet. But with my silicone baking mat, they took closer to 14. Watch the first batch closely and adjust from there.

Lasagna Hamburger Helper

IMG_0989IMG_1004Lasagna Hamburger Helper
slightly adapted from Jo Cooks

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/2 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28-oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 8 oz. dry mafalda pasta (SEE NOTES)
  • 3 cups chicken broth
  • 1 cup (4 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley

Method

In a large, deep skillet, brown the ground beef over medium-high heat until it is well browned and no longer pink. Drain off any excess fat, if needed.

Add the chopped onion and minced garlic to the skillet and stir. Season with salt, basil, oregano, and crushed red pepper, and cook until the onion gets soft and translucent, about 3 minutes.

Add the crushed tomatoes, pasta, and chicken broth and stir everything together. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through; most of the sauce should be absorbed.

Stir in the cheese and cook for another 30 seconds to a minute until the cheese melts. Garnish with parsley and serve immediately.

NOTES

So freaking good. This was the last of Steve’s helper meal nostalgia tour. At this point, I think I have made every recipe from when we were kids, plus a couple extra. List below.

If you can’t find mafalda pasta nearby (I CANNOT), then buy two boxes of Lasagna Hamburger Helper and just use the noodles from that! That was a brilliant “duh” suggestion from Steve when I couldn’t figure out how I was going to buy the right kind of pasta. Two helper boxes end up being cheaper than buying the specialty noodles online, so it’s a win. Alternatively, you can use any kind of shaped pasta like penne, fusilli, rotini, etc.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes:

Skillet Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie

IMG_3141
IMG_3135Skillet Biscuit Chicken Pot Pie
with nods to Delish and Apple of My Eye

Ingredients

  • 1 large Russet potato, peeled and cubed
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into half moons
  • 1 large celery stalk, sliced into half moons
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 4 tablespoons butter
  • 1 medium sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced or grated
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 lb shredded cooked chicken (see notes)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 16-oz. can refrigerated biscuits

Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Place the potato, carrots, and celery in a large pot. Fill with water to cover and bring to a soft boil, cooking for 10 minutes or until you can pierce through the potatoes with a fork easily. Drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a cast iron or other large deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook 3-4 minutes until the onion is soft. Whisk in the flour and let cook for a minute. Add in the milk and chicken broth, whisking so no lumps remain. Reduce heat to medium low. Season the mixture with salt, pepper, and thyme, and let thicken for 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the cooked vegetables, chicken, peas, and corn to the skillet and stir to coat evenly. Remove from heat

While the vegetables and sauce are cooking, put the biscuits on a parchment paper lined baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes to cook the bottom. Remove and top the chicken pot pie mixture with the half-cooked biscuits and cook for a further 6-8 minutes or until the biscuit tops are deep golden brown.

Serve hot!

NOTES

This was fantastic. A simple way to have pot pie without fussing over actual crusts.

Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper

IMG_0654Philly Cheesesteak Hamburger Helper
adapted from Dinner Then Dessert

Ingredients

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 8 ounces brown mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 4 cups beef or chicken broth
  • 8 ounces elbow macaroni
  • 4 ounces provolone cheese slices, chopped (or 4 ounces shredded)
  • 2 tablespoons minced parsley, for garnish

Method

Add the ground beef to a large deep skillet over medium high heat. Cook until a brown crust appears before breaking the beef apart. Saute until no longer pink.

Add the onions, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Cook for 4-5 minutes, stirring periodically, until the vegetables are soft and the mushrooms have released their liquid.

Add the broth, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, salt, and black pepper to the pan and stir to combine. Bring to a boil over medium heat, then add macaroni. Cover with a tight fitting lid and cook for 5-7 minutes or until noodles are just barely al dente (do not overcook), stirring once to make sure nothing is sticking. Remove cover, reduce heat to medium low and let simmer for another 5 minutes to thicken before serving. Turn off the heat, add in the provolone cheese and stir until melted and well combined. Garnish with minced parsley. Serve.

IMG_0656

NOTES

Just adding to my Helper meal repertoire! I never thought I would have so many homemade versions of the boxed meals Steve and I subsisted on throughout our early life, but here we are. This one might actually be my favorite. Creamy, savory, and the glorious taste of philly cheesesteak in a simple one-pot. Will make again and again.

Other Homemade Helper Recipes: