Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Asian Orange Chicken

I found this keeper recipe on Allrecipes and as my grandmother would say, "I'll tell you what, this as some good!" If you like Orange Chicken at your local Chinese restaurant, chances are you'll really like this too. This recipe is so adaptable and flexible that most changes will work perfectly. Add vegetables (such as peppers and onions, though broccoli would have been a terrific addition), increase the heat by adding dried chili peppers instead of dried red pepper flakes), substitute pineapple juice for some of the water (I've used chicken broth in the past). Add chopsticks and enjoy!

Asian Orange Chicken


1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup rice vinegar (I used white wine vinegar)
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
1/2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger root (I used powdered ginger)
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons chopped green onion
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

3 tablespoons cornstarch
2 tablespoons water

Vegetables, if desired, such as pepper, onions, broccoli, baby corn


2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, , cut into bite-sized pieces

1 cup all-purpose flour (I used cornstarch)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons olive oil

Combine the first nine sauce ingredients into a medium-sized sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Let it gently boil for a couple of minutes and then remove from heat. Allow to cool 10 to 15 minutes.

Once the sauce has cooled, pour 1 cup (reserving remainder of marinade in separate container) over cut up chicken and allow to marinate for at least two hours. Turn chicken a couple of times while it's marinating.

In a separate bowl (or plastic, resealable bag), combine the flour, salt and pepper. Drain marinade from chicken and discard. Dredge or shake the chicken pieces in flour mixture.

In a hot pan, add the oil oil and stir fry the chicken until browned and cooked through. Remove cooked chicken to a plate and keep warm. Wipe out pan, add a little more oil and quickly stir fry any vegetables that you are using.

Add back the chicken to the vegetables and pour in reserved sauce. Make a slurry of the cornstarch and water and add to the mixture. If sauce is too thin for your tastes, make a little more slurry; if it's too thick, add a little more water. Allow to gently simmer a couple of minutes, stirring, to ensure that the cornstarch has reached its full thickening potential and that it's cooked.

Either serve Asian Orange Chicken on the side, or serve over rice. This is good either way. One cup of sauce is not a lot, you may want to increase the sauce ingredients (still using only 1 cup for the marinade).

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

German Pancake

Wow, this was a surprise hit at my breakfast table recently. It is soooo bad for you but it tastes soooo good! This is called a pancake, but in texture, it's more like a cream puff with bacon. I served this with a generous amount of syrup and both Sweetie-Pi and I were well satisfied. This kind of breakfast reminds me of long wooden tables and benches filled with guests and family members who are filled with anticipatory delight. I can almost hear the echoes of their laughter and conversations...

Look how nicely the baked batter rises up the side of the baking dish, just cuddling up all that eggy goodness and wonderful bacon (and gulp! bacon FAT!) . I think it would take a month of oatmeal to clean your arteries of all the fat and cholesterol in just a single serving of this.

Nevertheless, we liked this so much I am going to make this again. However, I think I'm going to lightly cook the bacon beforehand to try and reduce the amount of fat. Also, the bacon did not cook as crisp as I would have liked, and I think a little precooking would help to solve that. Turkey bacon might be a good substitute here, but if I had it, I'd have to hide it so Ole Sweetie-Pi wouldn't know what I was up to. He thinks he does not like turkey bacon. While I definitely think the bacon fat really add to the flavor of this, I just don't believe we need all the fat from six slices of bacon in order for this to be delicious.

German Pancake
(Adapted from Marcia Adams' Heirloom Recipes)

4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 cup milk, at room temperature, divided
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
6 strips of bacon or turkey bacon
Maple syrup or fruit topping of choice

Preheat your oven to 375F. Grease and set aside an 8-inch square baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs thoroughly, add 1/2 cup of the milk and the vanilla. Beat in the flour and salt and then, lastly, the remaining 1/2 cup of milk.

Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish and place the bacon on top of the batter.

Bake for 45 to 60 minutes or until the top is golden brown and puffy. Cut into serving pieces and serve immediately with your favorite syrup or fruit topping.

Oh so good!

Monday, July 20, 2009

The Pause That Refreshes

Posted by Picasa

For a long time I have admired your blogs with the collages. After four days of fussing, I finally figured out how to do it on Picassa. I feel like one of the big kids now! I couldn't wait to show off for you!

Do you remember that old commercial where the tag line was "the pause that refreshes?" Was it for Coke? Or Pepsi? Maybe it was Mountain Dew? I don't remember anymore but I do remember the catchy line.

Cherry Lemon Cooler
(From Getting By on A Dime and The Northwest Cherry Board)

3 cups water
1 cup sugar
1 cup fresh sweet cherries, halved and pitted
1 cup fresh lemon juice, refrigerated
Crushed ice
1 bottle (1 liter) club soda or seltzer
Fresh sweet cherries with stems, for garnish (and just plain good eating!)
4 long stems fresh mint-optional (for garnish)

Combine water and sugar in small saucepan; add halved cherries. Bring mixture to boil; reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.

Strain syrup into container with tight fitting lid; discard cherries. Refrigerate syrup until cold.

Fill a tall 12 to 16-ounce glass with ice. Pour 1/4 cup lemon juice and 1/3 cup syrup over ice and top with club soda. Garnish with cherries and mint. Makes 4 servings.

Tip: Leftover syrup may be stored, refrigerated, up to one week.

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving: 140 Cal., 0 g pro., 0 g fat, 37 g carb., 0 mg chol., 1 g fiber, 28 mg sodium

Vietnamese Coffee

8 cups chilled coffee (leftover coffee is perfect for this!)
1 can sweetened condensed milk

Combine both ingredients in a pitcher. Find a long handled spoon; stir until well combined. Make sure and click the spoon against the sides of your glass picture. It's music. Get yourself a tall frosted glass. Toss in some ice cubes, pour chilled coffee over ice, hear ice crackle.

Summer is too short. Kick back and enjoy!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Onion Pie

I saw a 10 pound bag of Vadalia onions on sale and, of course, I just had to have them. I love the sweeter, milder onion flavor of the Vadalia. One of my favorite ways to use these onions is in this simple, quiche-like pie. This old standby is terrific when money is short and payday isn't until the end of the week. A simple salad goes wonderfully with this for a meatless meal, and goes just as well as a side with a delicious steak when the purse strings aren't drawn quite so tight.

Many recipes for onion pie call for a pastry crust, but this one is a little different as it uses crushed saltines and butter, a time saver and certainly very do-able for those who may be timid about preparing a pastry crust.

This pie is at its best served warm from the oven on the day it is made.

Onion Pie

1 cup finely crushed saltines (about 28 crackers)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter or margarine, melted

2 cups thinly sliced onion, separated into rings (about 2 medium)
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3/4 cup milk
2 eggs beaten
1/4 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese (or your choice, a mix of cheese is delicious)
3/4 teaspoon salt **
dash ground black pepper
dash paprika

Mix cracker crumbs with the 1/4 cup melted butter. Press into the bottom and up the sides of an 8-inch pie plate.

In a saute pan, melt the 2 tablespoons of butter and add the onions. Cook the onions until translucent but not browned. Pour onions into the prepared crust. Combine the milk, egg, salt and pepper and pour over the onions. Sprinkle with the cheese and paprika.

Bake at 350F about 30 minutes or until a sharp knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean.

Garnish with additional cooked onions and parsley if desired. Serves 4 to 6.

**I have found, depending on the saltiness of the cheese(s) you are using that 3/4 teaspoon salt is too much. I just toss in a pinch of salt and have found that to be quite satisfactory.

I've used any number of different cheeses with this, Swiss, mozzarella, Monterey Jack, sharp cheddar, Mexican cheese blend. All have been very good!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Glorious Morning Muffins

The "Glorious Morning" muffin is by far my favorite breakfast muffin. It's carrot cake with an attitude. It's a wake-up-and-throw-your-arms-open-to-the-rising-sun muffin. The "Glorious Morning" muffin is moist, packed full of goodness and flavor, is sweet and toothsome; it is in a class of its own.

Most folks refer to this muffin as Morning Glory, and indeed that's what I always called it until one wintry morning, it was renamed, "Glorious Morning."

When I had to go into the office everyday, I would take the commuter bus. Each work morning, a line of us would start queuing up for the bus at 5:57 a.m., shivering, sleepy, sometimes cold to the bone. The parking lot was unlit, dark woods were behind us, and we were left standing in the starlit dark, listening for the hum of the bus's tires as the bus exited the interstate. As we stood there, stomping our feet, clapping our hands against the cold, and breathing warm breath into our cupped hands, we all shared a common misery and friendships developed.

One of my fellow commuters, Kevin C., is a dear human being; the planet is made a better place because he is here. He is a loving and devoted family man, he volunteers at his church, is involved in the public school. He is funny and kind. Kevin and I both love food, so the first time I made these for my office mates, I also brought in a couple extra to share with him. They were still warm from that morning's baking and Kevin opened the little bag, took a deep whiff, and declared, "These are Glorious Morning muffins!" And that's what I've called them ever since. Well named, Kevin!

These muffins take a little work and you will mess up a couple of dishes in the process. To me, the work is worth the effort to have a Glorious Morning. There are a number of variations around the web as well as one in my Best of New England cookbook, but the one I use is found at Earthbound Food Organic.

Glorious Morning Muffins
(aka Morning Glory Muffins)

1 1/4 cups sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
3/4 cup raisins (I use dried currants)
1 large apple, peeled and grated
1 cup (8 ounces) crushed pineapple, drained
2 cups carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Position a rack in the lower third of the oven and preheat to 350F. Prepare muffin tins by either using paper muffin cups in each cup or generously spraying with a baking spray. Set aside.
In a large bowl, sift or whisk together the sugar, flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Add the coconut, raisins, apple, pineapple, carrots, and nuts'; stir to combine, breaking up any "clumps" or grated carrot or apple.
In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs with the oil and vanilla. Pour into the bowl with the dry ingredients and blend well. Batter will be heavy and thick.
Using a one-half cup measuring cup or spoon, equally divide the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling each to the brim. (I fill mine only 3/4 full as I don't like the muffins spilling out over the tops of the muffin cups and possibly burning to the pan.)
Bake for 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean. Cool muffins in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a rack to finish cooling.
Some folks may want to frost these with cream cheese frosting, but personally I think that gilds the lily and is too much. These muffins are perfect on their own.
Wishing you a Glorious Morning!

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sauce Pan Brownies

I saw these fudgey-cakey brownies at Gulf Coast Gram's blog and I could not resist them. Just look at their moist chocolaty goodness and they tasted every bit as chocolaty and moist as they look. Plus this has two sticks of butter. How could they be bad?

Sauce Pan Brownies

2 sticks butter
4 1-ounce squares Baker's unsweetened chocolate
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 eggs
1 cup chopped pecans (toasted)

Generously grease a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, set aside. Preheat oven to 350F.

Melt butter and chocolate together in a sauce pan over medium low heat, stirring occasionally to ensure that the chocolate doesn't scorch.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder. Add melted butter-chocolate mixture and stir well. Add eggs one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition.

Spread in prepared pan. Bake for 30 minutes. Let cool. Cut into squares.

Once these cooled enough to cut, Ole Sweetie-Pi was there with a huge bowl, a container of chocolate ice cream, and chocolate syrup. I didn't see him again after that (he was hiding from the moochimals, as he calls them, begging cats!) and when it was safe to come out, he later reported that these were the best brownies ever and that this recipe is a keeper.

I ate my brownies, unadorned, undisturbed, while sitting in my little kitchen. Of all the delicious and delightful brownie recipes that are out there, this is the one that I'm calling mine.

Thanks to Anj at Gulf Coast Gram for sharing this!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Apricot Glazed Chicken

This has to be one of the very first recipes I learned how to cook. Back in the day, I made this with chicken wings (and I still think this is better with wings), but Ole Sweetie-Pi doesn't like meat on the bone, so I used boneless, skinless chicken breast here. It's quick, easy, inexpensive, made with pantry items I typically have on hand, and delicious. It's good for a workday meal as the preparation work can be done in the morning and then the chicken marinates in the sweet, tangy apricot sauce, waiting for you to bake it in the oven. I'd even hazard a guess to say it would be pretty tasty on the grill if you occasionally basted it with the marinade.

Apricot Glazed Chicken

6 skinless, boneless chicken breasts halves
1 package dried onion soup mix (like Lipton's)
1 bottle Russian salad dressing (like Wishbone or Kraft)
1 medium jar apricot preserves

Place chicken in a foiled lined (for easier clean up because the sauce will caramelize) 9" x 13" baking dish.

In a medium bowl, combine the dried onion soup mix, the entire bottle of Russian salad dressing and the apricot preserves; mix well to combine. Pour over chicken. Allow chicken to marinate for at least an hour in the fridge (giving the onion soup time to hydrate and the sauce to ripen) or all day if you're preparing it in the morning for that evening's dinner.

Bake in a preheated 350F oven for an hour or until chicken is done.

If I were doing chicken wings, I'd spread the wings out on a cookie sheet and bake and at the end might run it under the broiler to give it some added color and crispness.

The recipe is pretty flexible; you can add more dried onion soup, you can add a little garlic powder. I've even seen recipes where you can swap out the Russian dressing for Catalina (also good!).

Thursday, July 2, 2009

P. F. Chang's Mongolian Beef

I love the P. F. Chang's in Boston. I went there, in my first limousine(!), with a group of co-workers for a Christmas gathering and then we went to a play in the theater district that's nearby. I don't remember a lot about the play, but I do remember I loved the food. After having dined there it was difficult to enjoy Chinese food any place else; their food is just that good.

I was fortunate enough to find this fabulous recipe for Mongolian Beef on Meemo's Kitchen. Have you visited Pattie's blog there? She has a ton of super secret and copycat restaurant recipes: Olive Garden, Outback, Red Lobster, Hard Rock Cafe, just to name a few. I spent a looong time there perusing all those delicious recipes and she has a ton I want to try!

I didn't have the Mongolian Beef on my only trip to P. F. Chang's so I can't swear to its authenticity, but I can swear that Ole Sweetie-Pi devoured his dinner when I served him this.
If you like the flavor of teriyaki beef, I think you'd enjoy this as well. For us, this is an absolutely keeper recipe!

P. F. Chang's® Mongolian Beef


2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
1 pound flank steak (to make slicing easier, put the beef in the freezer for 30-45 minutes to freeze slightly)
1/4 cup cornstarch
4-6 large green onions

For the sauce:

Heat 2 teaspoons of vegetable oil in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Add ginger and garlic to the pan. Quickly add the soy sauce and water before the garlic scorches. If your oil is too hot, this may splatter, so be careful. Dissolve the brown sugar in the sauce, then bring the heat up to medium heat and allow the sauce to boil for 2-3 minutes or until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat.

Slice the slightly frozen flank steak against the grain into 1/4-inch thick slices. Tilt the blade of your knife at about a forty five degree angle to the top of the steak so that you get wider cuts.

Coat the steak pieces with a very thin coating of the cornstarch on both sides of each piece of beef. Let the beef sit for about 10 minutes so that the cornstarch sticks.

Heat one cup of oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat until it's hot, but not smoking. Add the beef to the oil and sauté for two minutes, or until the beef just begins to darken on the edges. Stir the meat so that it cooks evenly. After a couple minutes, use a large slotted spoon or a spider to take the meat out and onto paper towels.

Pour the oil out of the wok or skillet. Put the pan back over the heat, add the meat back into the wok or skillet and simmer for one minute. Add the sauce, cook for one minute while stirring. Add the green onions. Cook for one more minute, then remove the beef and onions with tongs or a slotted spoon to a serving plate. Leave the excess sauce behind in the pan.

Servings: 2