As our Utah weather continues with it's usual schizophrenic tendencies, the choices I've made on "what's for dinner" have become a little more frustrating.
I plan soup. I make soup. The weather turns to blaring sunshine and all the snow melts.
I plan something on the grill. I fire up the grill. The weather turns into a full on blizzard of the apocalypse.
I plan something warm and hearty. I plop something cozy in the oven. The weather is practically springtime within seconds.
Utah is on to me. I swear it is.
Fortunately, there are some dinnertime favorites that seem to fit whatever is happening outside my window - blaring hot or freezing cold. Tacos and spaghetti are usually our norm, but recently we've settled on this dreamy plate of sesame goodness. I saw this recipe over on a darling friends blog, and knew right away it had to go on the menu. I wasn't really prepared for what we were about to discover through her genius:
THE CHICKEN WAS OFF THE HOOK.
No. Really. You know that special crust the chinese food places get on their meat? It's not quite a breading, but it's not quite a thick sauce either. It's a signature texture that is to die for, and I've never exactly been able to recreate it at home. And it's not like I suck at breading things, either. I'm a pro! (big-headed from my husband's praise of my fried chicken). The secret to the signature chicken texture? Dunk the chicken pieces in cornstarch, THEN the egg. Usually it's the other way around - no this time! THE BEST.
Instead of doing the usual ham-fried-rice combo, I tried using brown rice, and skipped the ham altogether. It was the bomb. Nuts, really. It filled us up quickly, and tasted like it had a little something more than the usual fluffy white rice.
I couldn't have cared less about what weather was happening outside my window when I made this - so naturally, it could fit your menu through rain or shine. Winter or summer. Spring or Fall. This one's a winner.
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Honey Sesame Baked Chicken
makes 6 servings
4 chicken breasts, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 C cornstarch
salt and pepper
1/4 C vegetable oil
3/4 C honey
3/4 C light soy sauce
1/2 C ketchup
1/2 C light brown sugar
1/2 C rice wine vinegar
1 t sesame oil
1 t minced garlic
1 T cornstarch
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat oil in a large pan over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Grease a 9x13 baking dish.
2. coat the chicken: Prepare 2 separate bowls: 1) cornstarch 2) beaten eggs with about 1 T water. Working in batches of maybe 5 chicken pieces at a time (and using one hand for wet ingredients, one hand for dry) coat chicken in cornstarch, then in eggs (sounds backwards, but I promise it's right). Place in heated oil, and repeat with remaining chicken (depending on how much room your pan has). Cook until browned. Place cooked chicken in baking dish.
3. make the sauce: In a medium sized mixing bowl, mix together the honey, soy sauce, ketchup, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, minced garlic, and 1 T cornstarch. Pour right over the chicken (sauce will thicken in the oven) and bake for 45 minutes. Stir every 15 minutes or so to coat the chicken in the sauce a little better.
recipe adapted from: the recipe critic "Honey Sesame Baked Chicken". Alyssa rocks my socks.
Easy Fried Brown Rice
makes 6 servings
3 C cooked brown rice, cooled (preferably as a leftover)
2 T sesame oil
1 small/medium white onion, chopped
1 C frozen peas and carrots, thawed
3-4 T soy sauce
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 T chopped green onions
1. Preheat a wok or large skillet to medium heat. Add sesame oil to the pan, and add white onion. When onions are barely translucent (about 1 minute), add peas and carrots and cook until tender.
2. Create a space in the middle of the pan by pushing the veggies to the outsides. Add eggs and scramble using a spatula. Once your eggs are scrambled, stir them in with the surrounding veggies. Add rice and stir. Pour soy sauce over rice and veggies and heat through. Toss in green onions, and serve immediately.
recipe inspired by: the recipe critic "Easy Fried Rice"