Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Chicken Pad See Ew

I love, love, love Asian cooking. It's not all I do, but the flavors just make me happy. Luckily, they mostly make my husband happy too. A few months ago I ran across a recipe in Cooks Illustrated for Stir Fried Noodles. I have adapted it a little to suit my taste, but it's REALLY good. Every time there are leftovers, they rarely make it past 24 hours.

Once I do the prep and there throughout the day, it is a quick and easy dinner.

One of the ways they determined to make the chicken tender was to put it in a baking soda solution.  It changes the pH.  That change makes it cook quickly but stay tender....really tender.

This is what my finished yumminess looks like.

Chile vinegar - this is added to preference in each bowl after serving
1/3 cup rice vinegar (I use seasoned because I love the hint of sweetness against the spicy)
1 teaspoon sriracha
Mix together in a small container and let the flavors blend.

Prep for stir fry
2 lb chicken breast (sliced thinly)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup water
Mix together.  After at least 15 minutes, drain, rinse, pat dry with paper towel

1/2 cup oyster sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 teaspoons molasses
2 teaspoons fish sauce
Mix together in a small bowl.

Other ingredients
3 eggs (lightly scrambled)
3 cloves of garlic minced (I use a garlic press)
1 lb broccoli cut into small florettes
1/4 cup oil (I use olive oil for pretty much everything)
8 ounces large rice noodles

The how-to
After all the prep work is done.

Heat 6 cups of water to boiling ( I do mine in the microwave for 4 minutes).  Add rice noodles and let soak (needs to be for about 10 minutes (which is about how long the rest of the dish takes).

Heat a nonstick pan over high heat.  Add 2 teaspoons of oil and garlic.  Cook until garlic is golden...but not burnt.

Add 2 teaspoons of oil, 4 tablespoons of sauce, and drained/dried chicken.  Toss in sauce/oil mixture and then DO NOT STIR.  After 2 minutes, stir pan and flip pieces over.

After 2 more minutes, push chicken to one side of pan.  Add 2 more teaspoons of oil on empty side..  Pour lightly beaten eggs into oil.  Scramble eggs  Just as they are getting firm, mix in with cooked chicken.

Empty pan into large bowl.

Add 2 more teaspoons of oil to the now-empty pan.  Add 4 tablespoons of sauce and broccoli.  Toss both together and cover pan for 4 minutes.  Uncover pan and toss broccoli again.  Cook for 2-3 more minutes.

While cooking, drain the rice noodles.

Add to large bowl with chicken/egg mixture.

Add 2 more teaspoons of oil and 4 tablespoons of sauce to again-empty pan. Add in 1/2 the rice noodles.  Toss together and cook (without stirring) for 2-3 minutes. Add to large bowl.  Repeat with remaining oil, sauce and noodles.

Toss all ingredients in large bowl together and serve.  Top with vinegar mixture to taste.

Seriously my favorite meal.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Budget Asian Cooking

Every couple of months, I head to an Asian grocery store in South Philly....the kind where I am the tallest person in my big height of 5'2"...and I stock up.

Here is what I always get.....

  • big jar of sambal oelek
  • big bottle of sriracha 
  • a couple large bottles of rice vinegar
  • a large bottle of good soy
  • a large jar oyster sauce
  • a jar of hoisin sauce
  • several packages of rice noodles
  • a couple packages of cellophane noodles
  • some fresh thin noodles...I toss them immediately in the freezer
  • won-ton wrappers....also go right in the freezer
  • egg roll wrappers....same with the freezer
  • fresh ginger...when I get home, I peel it, and freeze it...then just grate it while still frozen
  • fresh lemongrass...stick it in a glass of water and lasts for months...even starts to root
  • bottle of fish sauce (yeah, it sounds gross and doesn't taste great when you try it plain....but in stuff....WOW)

I also pick up any spices that I'm out of....and anything I've been interested in trying or have seen in a recipe.

While all this stuff would normally cost me about $85 in a regular grocery store, taking the time to drive the 20 minutes there and back....this ends up costing me about $35 and the quality is MUCH better.

Crazy savings, right????  You have to be comfortable reading/guessing at labels in another language....and with sights and smells that aren't in your "norm."  Once you get over that, it's so fun to find new things.

Menu Plan Monday

Because you can......Because it saves money....Because it saves your sanity!!!!!  Visit for more idea

Roasted cauliflower soup  and grilled cheese
Chicken gyros...yes AGAIN....they are damn good  
Bang bang shrimp with rice (made some changes to this recipe...added in 1/4 cup honey to the mix and cut the mayo about 1/3 cup)
Saturday – dinner at old co-worker's of husbands AND  party at close couple-friends (what can I say...we are social piranhas)
Hot onion dip with chips and bbq meatball 
Hot onion dip - cup of thinly sliced onion, cup of mayo, cup of parmesan....cook at 400 for 20 minutes
BBQ meatballs - frozen mini meatballs (I prefer Trader Joe's), 1 bottle of BBQ sauce (rinse out with 1/4 cup of water and add in)....put in slow cooker for 3 hrs on high; 6 hrs on low.
Sunday – pizza at friend's house (we are bringing pizza fixings)
Make your own pizza – chicken, meatballs, olives, red onion, scallion, mushrooms, red sauce, bbq sauce, etc.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Make-Your-Own-Pizza Night

Tonight I had my best-friend-of-26-years' 3 children over.  Including my little guy, the 4 kids ranged in age from 7 to 13 years.

I love having them here!!! The oldest (a boy) is developing a love for cooking and he and I have been doing some cook stuff together lately.  Tonight for a fun snack, I taught him how to make eggrolls and we did some cheesesteak eggrolls.  I figured they would be a hit...and they were....even with the semi-vegetarian-I-don't-like-beef 9-year-old girl.

Before that though, I went to my favorite meal that makes EVERYONE happy.....make-your-own-pizza night!  I make the dough at least two hours before I need it...but, this particular dough can be kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks...and used straight from the fridge!!!!

For toppings, I pull together some whatever's in my fridge.  Tonight the options were...mozzarella cheese, cheddar cheese, gorgonzola cheese, parmesan cheese (canned), olive oil, red sauce, bbq sauce, pepperoni, olives, scallions, red onions, chicken (left-over from the other night), and mini meatballs (from Trader Joe's). Sometimes I have left-over buffalo chicken, or use Trader Joe's frozen chicken strips, or pulled pork, or bbq chicken etc. You get the idea.

Our kitchen is small, so I call people in two at a time to create their masterpiece. Everyone is happy, everyone has fun, everyone eats!!!!  I have also done this for entertaining families.

The super simple dough is below.  This recipe made enough for 6 personal pizzas, with enough left over for a loaf of fresh-made come sometime later this week.

Tracey's Pizza/Bread Dough

  • 2-3/4 cups lukewarm water (about 105 degrees)
  • 3 tablespoons of honey
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon yeast (2 packets)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoon of salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 6-1/2 cups flour
In a large bowl, dissolve the honey and the yeast in the water.  Wait 5 minutes.  Add salt and olive oil.  Stir.  Then add in flour.  You may have to work in the last bit of flour with your hands.  There is no need to kneed the dough, just use your hands to get that last bit incorporated.  Cover loosely with a plate, plastic wrap, or tea towel. Let it rest on the counter for at least 2 hours.

It will look something like this.

If using immediately, tear off a handful and shape into whatever type of pizza you would like.  We usually do oval/oblong because I can get more on the cookie sheet that way. Use more flour as needed as you're shaping.  The dough is very sticky if it hasn't been refrigerated, but that doesn't affect the final taste or texture.

If using much later in the day...or even later in the week, punch down and put into a large container with a lid and place in the refrigerator.  When ready to use, remove the portion you need and shape.  Can be baked immediately.  No additional rise time is needed.  

This lasts 2 weeks in the refrigerator.

When baking, bake at 425-F for 10-15 minutes....or until desired color.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Menu Plan Monday

I used to join in at Menu Plan Monday at a few years ago.  I have been menu planning for about 10 years now.  I find that when I plan out my menu, I am less tempted to eat out....and waste money.  I also feel much less stress throughout the day.  So, to that end, here's my first Menu Plan Monday.  Some of them reference Cooking Light recipes that are not yet available online.  Every time I get a new CL in the mailbox, it feels like Christmas and I cannot wait to go through and try new ones.  I do love to cook....but some of these are really, really simple....but yummy.

Crockpot roast chicken with gravy, rice, and honey roasted carrots (Kathy’s slow cooker chicken)

Grilled cheese with Thai butternut soup (CL March 2013 page 24)


Coconut chicken soup (use left over chicken)

Shrimp linguini with ricotta, fennel and spinach (CL March 2013 page 26)

Saturday – Friend's 3 kids over for sleepover; 1 REALLY enjoys cooking
Cheesesteak eggrolls
Homemade pizzas – top your own (red onions, scallions, pepperoni, mini meatballs, left over chicken, olives, bbq sauce, hot sauce, pizza sauce, sriracha, mozzarella, gorgonzola, cheddar)

Mushroom frittata (CL Feb 2013)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day on the Cheap

This year, with our major efforts to simplify, my sweet husband and I decided to not buy gifts.  We don't need more "stuff" in the house or our lives.

I still wanted to do something to show him how much I care about him and value our life together.

So, I did a little research and came up with a meaningful, no-clutter gift.  I dug through our spare change around the house and found pennies with the years we were born, the year we met, the years the boys were born, the year we got engaged, and the year we got married.

I headed down to the basement work area and drilled a hole in the top of each one.  Then dug in the the junk drawer for a spare key ring and strung them on in order.

And now my sweet husband has an addition to his key ring.

He loves it.  No extra clutter. Cost me $0.07 and 45 minutes of time.  And my husband has a sweet token of our life.

Tonight for Valentine's dinner, I asked him to pick his favorite meal.  We are having chicken gyros that I found at The Girl Who Ate Everything.  They are fantastic and the preparation time is SO simple.

Woeful Wednesday???? - Not here!!!!

Some days, I think I have officially crossed the line into insanity.  Today was one of those days.

Typically on Wednesdays I host a stitch 'n bitch at my house.  LOVE the time with the girls.  The talk flows freely.  The advice overboils. The camaraderie is never-ending.

Today I had a 4-lb pork roast that needed to be dealt with or it would go the way of all bad pork roasts.  So, I got up early and made Brazilian Feijoda.  I'd never heard of it before I saw it in a Cooking Light. It's a crazy concoction of pork roast, ham hock (I had one left over from Christmas in the freezer), beef short ribs and black beans.  As I'm a HUGE slow cooker fan, and a HUGE Cooking Light fan, when I read it, it hit many nails on their heads.  You can check out the recipe here.

After I got it all assembled, I enjoyed several hours of stitching AND bitching.  When the last person left, the insanity ensued.

I worked on decluttering my magazine stash.  Historically I have had a hard time getting rid of things.  I think it's just the way I am hard-wired.  But last week, I started into the stash o'zines.  Last week I got rid of about 25.  I tear out what I want to save, put it in a binder, and recycle the magazine.  Today, I was a woman on a mission.  I went through another 20.

I also made 28 hand-made Valentine's for my little guy.

I purged the old shows from the TIVO.

I made homemade bread.

I started homemade yogurt (to be completed tomorrow).


See....truly lost my mind and crossed over.

Monday, February 11, 2013


Today I managed to find new homes for about 70% of the items I have been purging over the last 2 weeks.  I took some of the cookbooks to my MOMs club meeting and of the 15 that I had left, there are only 2 that will be donated shortly to GoodWill.

Later, one of my friends from MOMs came over and took half the games and half the puzzles for her daughter.  She couldn’t have been more thrilled with the new-to-her stuff…and I couldn’t have been more thrilled for it to leave my house. 

Last night, the little guy and I went through his toy cubbies.  We reorganized it.  Gave everything a place.  Went over the “system.”  Put items that didn’t belong in the cubbies away elsewhere.  All in all, it took us about 30 minutes.  We threw out 1 bag of junk parts and pieces (I know….bad for the environment).  And we have a large bag of items that he has outgrown or just doesn’t want to play with.  He was so sweet.  He started apologizing for not wanting something… and I cut that right off.  Told him that I only want him to have things he WANTS…and I want him to be able to SEE them…not dig for them.  Toy pickup tonight was a BREEZE!!!!!  And he seems to appreciate the concept of everything having a place.  Bonus!!!!

I kind of wish I had some weight measurement of what has left our house in the last 2 weeks.  But, at this point, it covered at least half of a 6-person dining room table with the stuff piled about 2-feet high.  I cannot describe the feeling of relief and freedom I have at what’s going.

And, while the friend was visiting, I chatted and mixed up more bread dough that is currently being stored in the fridge for when the loaf I made last night runs out.  It will supposedly keep 2 weeks in the fridge!  Now I just have to stop myself from eating it.  Homemade bread is evilly good.  Evilly.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Homemade bread

In starting on my journey to take my family to a new place of peace and enjoyment, one of the places I have looked to is Weekend Homesteader.  Weekend Homesteader January

While I do not want/need to test my soil because I am planning on putting in a raised-garden bed, I have decided that I would LOVE to be making more homemade bread.....IF I can find one that my 7 year-old will eat on a regular basis.

I am no stranger to making homemade bread.  I have done it with the traditional kneading method.  I have done the Artisan Bread in 5-minutes-a-day method.  I found some Peasant Bread on Pintrest. All have had success.  But none would I consider making my little-est's day-to-day sandwich bread from.  He LOVES them all warmed with butter, but in his mind (because I have warped him) sandwiches go on Strohman's Family Whole Grain bread.

Today, I decided to combine the Artisan Bread above with the dough rolling technique from The Simple Dollar's idea.

I have not yet tried it on the boy....BUT, the texture of the bread was very similar to the store-bought bread the boy loves.  And, my sweet husband and I both loved it heated lightly with some butter.  YUM.

Tomorrow will tell if it's "good enough" for a 7-year-old's sandwich. ;)