Monday, December 29, 2014

Chinese Take Out Night

It's nice to take a break from turkey leftovers and eat something different, like Chinese food.  Once again, Pioneer Woman has inspired me this past Saturday in her show.  She made these two dishes, Orange Chicken and Chow Mein and now it's my turn :)

Orange Chicken
Vegetable or Peanut Oil for frying
5 boneless Chicken thighs, cut into bite size pieces
4 whole Egg whites
2 tbsps. Cornstarch
1/2 cups Orange Juice
1 tbsp. Soy Sauce
1 tbsp. packed Brown Sugar (white sugar or honey will work too)
1 tbsp. Rice Vinegar (or regular distilled vinegar)
1/4 tsp. Sesame Seed oil
Dash of Salt
Dash of Crushed Red Pepper flakes, more to taste
1 clove Garlic,, minced
2 tsps. fresh Ginger, minced

Zest of 1 Orange
1 tsp. Cornstarch (additional)
1/4 cups water
2 Green Onions, sliced

In a large bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and egg whites until frothy, about 1 minute.

Add the chicken to the mixture and allow to sit for 5 to 10 minutes.

For the sauce:
In the meantime, put the orange juice, soy sauce in a non-stick skillet.

Add the brown sugar

Add the rice vinegar and sesame oil

add the crushed red pepper

add the garlic and the ginger

Finally, add the orange zest.  Combine together and heat until bubbling and starting to thicken, about 3-4 minutes.

In a small bowl whisk together the 1/4 cup water and 1 tsp. cornstarch.  Stir into sauce and allow to simmer about 1-2 minutes until sauce has thickened.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Heat about 2 inches of the oil in a heavy bottomed pot until  a deep fry thermometer inserted in the oil registers 350 degrees F.

In batches, carefully drop a few pieces of chicken into the oil (drop them in one by one to keep them from sticking to each other) and move around, 2-3 minutes or until a light golden brown.

All the pieces to drain on a paper towel lined plate.  Per the Pioneer Woman, she returns the chicken to the hot oil in the pan for fry for another minute.  This is supposed to solidify the coating and make more crunchy.  I didn't do it, I just couldn't.

Once all the chicken pieces are done, toss them into the sauce.

Make sure each piece covered completely in the sauce.  Set aside and keep warm.

8 oz. Chinese noodles
1 tbsp. Peanut oil
1 Carrot, julienned
1 head napa cabbage, sliced thin
1/2 Onion, sliced
1/4 cup low sodium Soy Sauce
1 tsp. Sesame Seed oil
Sliced Green onions for topping

 Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noodles according to package directions

Drain and run under cold water to remove the starchiness then set aside

Heat a wok or a skillet over medium high heat and add the peanut oil.  Add the carrots and onion.  Stir fry for 2-3 minutes

Stir for another 2 minutes.  (Sorry for this fuzzy picture - the steam made it difficult for my camera to focus)  See how much the cabbage shrinks down?

Add the soy sauce and broth

add the Sesame Seed oil.  Stir it all together

Toss in the noodles

 Combine completely

Top with Green onions

 Serve with Orange Chicken and there you have it, homemade Chinese Take Out food.  Thanks Pioneer Woman!!

You might need to make more just in case your neighbors accidentally mistake your house for a Chinese restaurant.  The aromas coming from the kitchen are out of this world!!


Until next time,

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Blessings

Christmas blessings to you and yours this season and throughout the new year!

Until next time,

Monday, December 22, 2014

Two Pies in a Day

Actually, it took five hours in the kitchen to make these two pies.  A Cherry pie and and Mincemeat Pie.  I don't consider myself a pro at making pies, especially the kind with two crusts.  Took a lot longer than I thought but just in time to relax with a cup of hot tea and a college football bowl game on TV.

I used Pioneer Women's "Perfect Pie Crust"  x 2 = a total of FOUR pie crusts.  Making homemade from scratch pie crusts will definitely win you lots of points!!  So worth it!!


Once I made the pie crusts.  I used two for the following:
Fold in edges after trimming

Follow simple directions on the Mincemeat jar, pour the mixture into the pie crust.  Set aside.

Roll out the second pie crust.

Use a sharp pointy knife to cut out design for top crust.

Gingerly wrap the crust around a well floured roller

Gingerly unroll the crust over the Mincemeat mixture making sure it's centered

Trim off the edges and tuck underneath

Use a spoon to seal the edges

With a milk and egg wash, brush over the pie.  Bake pie at  425F degrees for 40 minutes or until golden brown

Set aside to cool before refrigeration.

While the Mincemeat Pie was baking, I started on the Tart Cherry Pie

TART CHERRY PIE by Love & Olive Oil
Prepare pie crust using the bottom crust first then according to the Pioneer Woman's directions. Set aside.

  • 6 cups (2 pounds) frozen tart cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 large egg mixed with 1 tbsp. milk
  • Turbinado or raw sugar, for sprinkling (optional)
Using the second set of pie crusts, prep the bottom crust in pie pan, place in refrigerator to chill.
Toss frozen cherries with 1/2 white sugar

Place cherries in a mesh strainer set over bowl to catch juices.  Let sit, stirring occasionally to redistribute the juices, for about 1 hour or until cherries are mostly thawed and 1/4-1/2 cup of liquid has drained out the bottom.

 Place drained cherries is medium pot.  Add lemon juice.  

Whisk the reserved cherry juice, other 1/2 cup of sugar and cornstarch.  Mix until there are no clumps

On medium high heat, pour cherry juices into cherry mixture.  Stir constantly with a silicone spatula making sure to scrape up sides and bottom of pot.  Bring to a boil until mixture thickens.  Remove from heat and add Almond extract.

Pour cherry mixture into chilled pie crust and return to refrigerator to chill again.

While the cherry mixture is chilling, roll out the top crust.  Using a pizza cutter, cut into 1/2 inch wide slices.

Remove chilled cherry mixture from refrigerator.  Wet edges with milk/egg wash.

This is how I started to weave the lattice top crust.  Don't know for sure if I'm doing it right.

Very difficult for me to try to explain how it's done so perhaps you can understand Lindsay's instructions "Love and Olive Oil" .

 Wet the lattice top crust with the milk/egg mixture and sprinkle with Turbinado sugar.  Bake in 400F degree oven for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

Whew!  I'm so glad these are done.  This lattice pie crust was quite the challenge.  I loved making them but did not realize I would be on my feet for almost five hours straight.  I realize I need to work on presentation so practice makes perfect.  I have never made Mincemeat pie from scratch, has anyone reading this?  I was so glad I still had enough frozen cherries leftover from this past Summer.  These are real Michigan cherries, freshly picked by a friend named Carol and her kids.  Thanks Carol!!

Hubby was very sad I didn't let him dig into either one of these because I'm saving them for our Christmas Eve dinner.  I like making my pies and cookies ahead of time.  The day before Christmas Eve I will work on a Cheeseball, prep two vegetable dishes and as well as prep Tom Turkey.

Here's to more good baking and good cooking for those of you who have the honor this holiday.  Merry Christmas to all!!  Until next time,