Monday, January 20, 2014

Spicy Orange Chicken & Vegetables

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I know!!

Who needs takeout right?  Surely not us!  This was dinner the other night; "Spicy Orange Chicken & Vegetables".  Absolutely out of this world delicious, so not joking!  Plus, we have leftovers to boot, score!!

I decided about a little over a year ago that I will be making my "own" Asian dishes at home after the last take out experience.  I don't know about you guys, but I hate, I mean I HATE slimy chicken.  I honestly do, it like gags me, seriously!  That is one of the reasons I will not use anything but boneless, skinless chicken breasts in the crockpot.  You know how funny and slimy the chicken skin becomes in the crockpot right?  I know!  HATE IT!!  The same thing about actual chicken, if it is slimy, "forget about it"!  
So the last time we ordered, yup, you got it.  My chicken was so slimy I couldn't eat it, I threw the whole thing out.  Vowing NEVER TO ORDER AGAIN!!  *insert dramatic sigh*  

This spicy chicken is so easy to throw together, you will ask yourself why you even bothered ordering take out before.  It's bursting with spicy and sweet orange flavor and the veggies are just as fresh as fresh can be. Heck, you just prepped them, hello! Common ingredients found in your pantry, fridge and freezer leads to an amazingly delicious dinner.  Don't let the list of ingredients intimidate you my friends, so very, very simple.  Read the instructions below and you will see how easily this comes together!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Yield: 6 servings

3 medium boneless/skinless chicken breasts, cut into small strips
4 large celery, washed/cleaned and cut into diagonal chunks
6 green onions, diced (or 1 medium onion sliced)

1lb (16oz) mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 large peppers, sliced
1 large orange, zested and juiced
1/3 cup apricot marmalade
1 tsp minced garlic, or 2 garlic cloves
2 tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp Canola oil
3 tbsp soy sauce (I used low sodium)
1-1/2 tbsp Asian Five Spice Powder
Pinch of dried ginger
2 tsp red pepper flakes (or less if you prefer)
2 tsp Kosher salt
1-1/2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp sesame seeds, dry roasted *optional*

-Wash and pat dry your chicken, slice into small slices.  Add your sliced chicken to a large plate and sprinkle with the Five Spice Powder along with 1 tsp of Kosher salt, set aside.

-Zest your orange and then juice it, set aside.

-Using a large skillet, add 1 tsp sesame oil along with your canola oil.  Let heat, and add your chicken.  Sprinkle with your red pepper flakes and cook thru about 6-8 minutes, till nicely browned.  Take off heat and remove onto paper lined plate.

-Using the same skillet, (why dirty another pan I ask), add the other tsp of sesame oil and let heat.  Add in your minced garlic and onion. Let cook for about 1 minute.  Add in your veggies, let cook for another minute or so.  Sprinkle with the dried ginger and remaining tsp of salt.  Cook for another 30 seconds.

-Let's add in that amazing apricot jam, zest of the orange and the soy sauce.  Let veggies simmer for approximately 2-3 minutes.

-As the veggies are simmering, to the reserved orange juice, add in your cornstarch and mix to dissolve.

-Add the orange juice to the veggies along with the cooked chicken slices.  Let the veggies and chicken introduce themselves to each other.  Allow the chicken to warm up and turn off the heat.  Taste for seasonings.  Does it need more salt?  More orange, heat?  Every kitchen is different, so adjust to suit your taste.

-Serve with your favorite side, which for us is simple white rice, don't forget the sesame seeds!

Watch closely as your family digs in... yes, best feeling in the world!

Till next time!!

Dishin with Didi

Monday, January 6, 2014

Poor Man's Version of Beef Stroganoff; - Weeknight Budget Friendly Dinner

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So I was planning on making this dinner tonight anyway, and lo and behold the boyfriend was here when I got home.  He is such a sweetheart, all I want to do is pinch his cheeks, no I'm serious!! Aha, here is the Greek in me.  When did I become my mother I ask?  I know??

So back to the recipe.  I have been making this for a very long time, and even though there are a million versions of this on the web, this is my version that I wanted to share with you since my family absolutely loves it.
I don't know if it's the combination of cheese ravioli with sauce, or the fact that the entire family loves stroganoff.  However, they do, and being as frugal and time limited due to working as I am... I aim to please!!  The most important thing in the world to me is always sharing a dish with family and friends that I know they will enjoy...

This recipe is so easy and simple, and did I mention delicious?  Well it is, trust me!!  It's family and budget friendly and they will like love you and do the dishes for you and put away the leftovers if there were any...
See, I'm talking total love here!!

Ready for the recipe?  Here we go;

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cook time:  15 minutes
Yield:  6 servings

1lb (16 Oz) ground beef
2 cans (10 -3/4oz  or  305g) Cream of Mushroom soup (I used fat free)
1 package (12 Oz) frozen green peas

Using the same can that the mushroom soup came in, add the milk (I used 2% percent)
1-1/2 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp dried Marjoram
1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 large pkg (16oz) frozen cheese ravioli (or two small packages)

-In a medium saucepan, place water to boil for ravioli.

-In a large saute pan with cover, add your ground beef and saute till nicely brown.  Drain fat if needed.  I used a 93/7% so I didn't need to drain. 

-Add in all your dried seasonings and incorporate.

-Now add in your mushroom soup along with the milk and stir.  Let simmer for approximately 5-7 minutes.  Add your frozen peas, stir, and turn off the heat, cover and set aside.  The frozen peas do not need much time to cook and warm thru, trust me!!

-The water for the ravioli should be ready.  Place the ravioli into the boiling water and boil according to your manufacturer's instructions.  

-When the ravioli's are done, using a slotted spoon, add the ravioli's directly into the meat mixture and toss till all the ravioli's are covered with the sauce.  

-Serve immediately and enjoy!

Go ahead and dig in...

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Random thoughts for the new year...

This is not my "usual post" of recipes, but bear with me my friends. Tonight for me was mind boggling and eye opening, and I really wanted to share with you!

Tonight coming home from work in the middle of a blizzard I took notice of so many acts of kindness in a less than a half an hour period it literally blew my mind!

In today's society, where all we hear are the negatives, how people are hurting other people - physically, financially, spiritually and finally emotionally...
Well, I have to be honest with you, I was a little jaded, okay, okay, a lot jaded!

Tonight, when I left work and was walking to the parking lot dreading the shoveling off my car, low and behold there was the plow guy.  He was plowing out the parking lot.  When he saw that I was starting up my car and got out my long scraper because I drive an SUV and I'm all but 5'3, he literally got out of his car, came up to me and said; "ma'am I'll do that for you, get in my truck, it's warm"! I took him up on his offer to scrape off my car, but I sat in my car while he was scraping and getting the snow off.  I then came out when he was done and tried to offer him money.  His response; "Happy New Year" as he refused the money.  I thanked him profusely as he made sure I got out of the parking lot okay.

About 4-5 miles out I had to merge onto the highway, I was dreading it, the roads were horrible!  As I was coming down to merge, the car that was in the slow lane, slowed up enough in this horrid weather to allow me to merge, safely! I blessed the driver!

A few more miles out, I came to a major intersection and there on the side of the road, where the wind was blowing so hard that I knew it had to be sub zero temperatures, was a man holding a sign; "will work for food".  Two cars ahead of me, the passenger window of a car rolled down and money was handed to the man along with what looked like a fast food bag.  The man took the money and food and crossed the intersection as fast as he could.  Tears literally sprang into my eyes!

Where I am going with this you ask?  Well, I have to be honest with you.  I am so jaded by everyday catastrophic, horrific events that I was shocked.  Literally shocked I say by "simple acts of kindness" and respect that I personally encountered tonight.  Respect and acts of pure love towards one another!  We hear and see so much bad and hatred on an everyday basis it is so hard to be just you, well it is for me that is.  To not have your guard up all the time, to constantly be on the defensive.  

So that being said, no, it's not a resolution.  Resolutions are something I don't do.  I figure if you want to do something you don't have to wait until January 1st to do it, just do it!
My "life changing" moment today was that we don't have to be challenged to do something nice, or pay forward a random act of kindness.  All we have to do is open our eyes and observe, literally look around our neighborhood, stay silent and observe!
Tonight I witnessed 3 wonderful acts of kindness that I know no one challenged them to do.  They did it from the kindness of their hearts. I know I do random acts as well, not because I'm challenged either, but just because I feel the need, or it touches my heart.
So my friends my life changing moment tonight has convinced me that there is more GOOD PEOPLE out there in this beautiful world of ours than there is bad.  I believe, no, I KNOW that, that is more respect and compassion than I have ever noticed.  Moving forward, I vow to keep my eyes peeled and my ears open for those acts, as well as participate as much as I can, because quite frankly... these are the acts that touch my heart, and that's how I want to roll!!

Till next time!

Dishin with Didi