General Tso’s Chicken


This is hands down Hubs’ favorite Chinese take-out dish. Whenever we order from the place down the street, this is what he gets. Having had so much success with the orange chicken recipe, I thought it would be easy to find a recipe for General Tso’s.

Luckily, Joelen had a fantastic looking recipe on her blog. It was another Cook’s Illustrated recipe, so I basically made the orange chicken recipe, but with a different sauce. The chicken cooked a lot faster than I thought it would, and had a wonderful crispy texture. One thing about deep frying – if you cook food in oil at the right temperature for the right amount of time, it absorbs very little of the cooking oil. This is why I love deep frying at home. I can control both these factors to get perfectly crunchy food without too much fat.


adapted from What’s Cooking Chicago
originally from Cook’s Illustrated

General Tso’s Chicken

General Tso’s Chicken

Ingredients

Sauce!
½ c hoisin sauce
¼ c white vinegar
3 Tbs soy sauce
3 Tbs cornstarch
1 ½ c water
1 Tbs vegetable oil
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 Tbs fresh ginger, minced
½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Chicken
1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
3 large egg whites
1 ½ c cornstarch
½ c all purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
Vegetable oil for frying
Garnish
2 green onions, green parts thinly sliced
Sesame seeds

Instructions

  1. To make the sauce, whisk together the hoisin sauce, white vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, and water in a bowl. Set aside. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the hoisin mixture. Stir until the sauce is dark brown and has thickened. Remove from heat and cover.
  2. Cut chicken into 1-inch chunks. Whisk the egg whites in a shallow dish until foamy. Combine cornstarch, flour, and baking soda in a separate shallow dish. Toss half the chicken into the foamy egg whites until well coated, and then dredge the chicken in the cornstarch mixture, making all sides are coated. Transfer chicken to a plate and repeat with remaining chicken.
  3. Heat oil in a fryer (or Dutch oven, or a large wok) until it registers 325ºF. Fry the chicken in batches until golden brown, about 3 minutes, turning pieces over halfway through cooking. Transfer cooked chicken to a paper towel-lined baking sheet to drain.
  4. Re-warm the sauce over medium heat until bubbling. Add the chicken pieces and toss to coat. Garnish with sliced green onions and sesame seeds.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/04/general-tsos-chicken/

 

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Chicken Florentine


Since my dad’s passing, I’ve been wondering what I can do to help my mom. She lives a few hours away, but with our crazy work schedules, it is hard for us to go visit.


One thing about my mom is that she hates to cook. Always has. She had been doing all the cooking for herself and my dad, without much joy. I’ve been worried about how much cooking she’ll do now that it’s just her. I have horrible visions of canned soup and frozen dinners every night. So, I decided to start freezing meals for her. I’ve been setting aside a dinner-sized portion of meals that I have made. We are planning on meeting up once a month or so to deliver the meals.

This chicken florentine is right up my mom’s alley. She loves chicken, vegetables, and anything remotely Italian. Two bags of spinach may sound like a lot, but it’s amazing how much it shrinks down. The lemon added brightness and the cheese added richness to the sauce.


Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Light and Healthy, 2010

Chicken Florentine

Chicken Florentine

Ingredients

2 Tbs canola oil
12 oz (2 bags) spinach leaves
1 ½ lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
Salt and pepper
½ small white onion, finely chopped
2 garlic, minced
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
2 c chicken broth
1 c milk
1 tsp fresh lemon zest
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
¼ c grated Parmesan cheese

Instructions

  1. Position an oven rack 5 inches from the top coils; Heat the broiler.
  2. Heat 1 Tbs oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the spinach and cook, stirring frequently, until wilted. Transfer spinach to a colander and press with a large spoon or a spatula to remove excess liquid. Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Heat the remaining 1 Tbs of oil in the skillet. Lay the breasts in the skillet and brown on both sides. Transfer the skillet to a plate and loosely cover with foil.
  3. Add the onion and garlic to the skillet and cook until softened, about 3 minutes. Stir in the flour. Slowly whisk in the broth, scraping up the browned bits. Reduce heat to medium-low, and add the milk. Return the chicken breasts and any accumulated juices to the pan. Cook until the thickest part of the breasts reach 160 degrees, flipping the breasts halfway through. Transfer the chicken to a plate and tent loosely with foil.
  4. Bring the sauce to a simmer and cook until thickened and reduced to about 1 ¼ c, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and whisk in the lemon zest and lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cut the chicken breasts crosswise into thick slices. Arrange in a broiler-safe casserole dish. Scatter the spinach over the chicken in an even layer. Pour the sauce over the spinach. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top and broil until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Watch carefully so cheese doesn’t burn. Serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/03/chicken-florentine/

 

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Buffalo Wings

 

Another reason to love our new wok – it works as a deep fryer. It came with an extra-long thermometer just for that purpose.


I was especially excited by this, because one of the reasons I didn’t like deep frying was because the whole house would smell for days after. Now that we can deep fry outdoors, the smelly house becomes a non-issue. We had some friends over one day and tested out our wok-as-deep-fryer on a large batch of wings.


I don’t usually eat wings. They are messy, and a lot of work for such little meat. But every so often, I get a hankering for them. After making them homemade, I am a huge fan. They weren’t overly greasy like at restaurants. They were crunchy, the meat was tender, and were perfectly spiced. They were the perfect thing to share with friends.

Original recipe

Buffalo Wings

Buffalo Wings

Ingredients

Wings
3 lbs chicken wings, drums and flats separated, wing tip removed
½ c all purpose flour
½ tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder
½ tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
Oil for frying
Sauce
¼ c ( ½ a stick)
1 jar buffalo sauce
1 tsp Tabasco sauce (optional)
Other
Celery sticks
Blue cheese dressing

Instructions

  1. Separate wing sections, if necessary. In a shallow dish, combine flour, paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, and salt. Dredge wings in flour mixture, and shake excess off.
  2. Pour enough oil into a fryer (or dutch oven or wok) so it is 3 inches deep. Heat to 350˚F. While oil is heating up, place butter in a small saucepan. Heat over low until melted. Stir in buffalo sauce and Tabasco sauce. Let simmer for another 5 minutes, and keep warm.
  3. Fry wings in batches until golden brown, about 5-6 minutes. Do not over-crowd the fryer. Remove with a slotted spoon and place in a large bowl.
  4. Pour some buffalo sauce in with the wings and toss until coated. Repeat with remaining batches of wings.
  5. Serve with celery and dressing.
http://kokocooks.com/2011/01/buffalo-wings/

 

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Chicken Potpie

 

Hubs and I just finished a hectic week. We performed Gustav Mahler’s Symphony No. 2, arguably one of the greatest works in the repertoire. It’s a very theatrical piece – chorus of over 200, vocal soloists, and a slew of off-stage brass and percussion. It’s subtitle is, “The Resurrection,” and we were all thoroughly uplifted by the performance.


We had rehearsals every night leading up to the concert. Knowing we wouldn’t have time to cook dinner, I made these chicken potpies in advance. Hubs is trying to reduce his carb intake, so I left out potatoes. The extra veggies more than made up for the lack of potatoes. And the individual pies upped the pastry/filling ratio, which was just fine with me!


Original recipe

Chicken Potpie

Chicken Potpie

Ingredients

2 c. low sodium chicken stock
1 c whole milk
2 Tbs butter
2 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and Pepper
1 c frozen peas
1 c frozen corn kernels
2 c cooked chicken, cut into small chunks
¼ c plus 1 Tbs all-purpose flour
Fresh thyme leaves
Single crust pastry dough
1 egg

Instructions

  1. Pour the chicken stock and milk into a saucepan. Simmer over medium-low heat. Cover and keep warm.
  2. Melt butter in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions, carrots, celery, and garlic and sauté until vegetables are soft. Season with salt and pepper. Add the peas and corn and cook another 2 minutes. Stir in the chicken.
  3. Sprinkle the flour over the chicken mixture and stir until combined. Pour in the chicken stock mixture and keep stirring until the flour has dissolved. Place the mixture into a 2 quart casserole or individual casseroles. Sprinkle thyme leaves over the top. Roll out pastry dough and cover the casserole dish(es). Crimp to seal the edges.
  4. Beat the egg with a little bit of water in a small bowl. Brush the egg wash over the pastry dough. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Garnish with some thyme sprigs. Let cool for 15 minutes before serving.

Notes

I've received a lot of questions about freezing and reheating the pot pies. Once the pot pies have been filled and covered with the pastry dough, cover with foil and freeze. To reheat: thaw ahead of time and bake, uncovered, according to the directions below.

http://kokocooks.com/2010/09/chicken-potpie/

 

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Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts

 

 
The recipe creators at ATK are geniuses! They figured out how to make a naked chicken breast taste like it has a crispy layer of skin. Hubs was fooled. He didn’t realize the chicken was skinless until I told him. The secret was the combination of cornmeal and cornstarch. We served the chicken with a vegetable tart.

If you are a regular to my blog, you may have noticed that quite a few of the recipes lately come from the Light and Healthy issue. We have tried many dishes from this magazine, and have loved most of them. There are still a few more we want to taste.
 
adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
Light and Healthy
 

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts

Pan-Roasted Chicken Breasts

Ingredients

Chicken
1/2 c cornmeal
1 Tbs cornstarch
4 bone-in, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and Pepper
2 Tbs canola oil
Sauce
1 tsp canola oil
3 Tbs finely minced onion
1 tsp all purpose flour
3/4 c low sodium chicken broth
1 Tbs fresh lemon juice
1 Tbs fresh parsley, chopped
1 Tbs fresh chives, minced
1 Tbs unsalted butter, chilled
Salt and Pepper

Instructions

  1. For the chicken: Adjust oven rack to the lowest position. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Combine the cornmeal and cornstarch in a shallow dish. Pat the chicken breasts dry and season with salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in the cornmeal mixture, coating well.
  3. Heat the oil in a large, oven-safe skillet or dutch oven over medium high heat. Carefully place the chicken in the skillet, meaty side down. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 5 minutes. Flip the chicken and continue to cook until light brown on the other side.
  4. Transfer the skillet to the oven. Bake until the thickest part of the chicken registers 160-165 degrees on a meat thermometer, about 15 minutes. Remove skillet from the oven, and transfer chicken to a platter. Tent loosely with foil.
  5. For the sauce: Heat the oil in a small saucepan over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and cook until softened. Stir in the flour and cook for 30 seconds. Whisk in the broth, bring to a simmer, and cook until thickened and reduced to 1/2 cup. Remove from heat, and stir in the lemon juice, parsley, chives, butter, and any accumulated juices from the chicken on the platter. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the sauce over the chicken and serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2010/07/pan-roasted-chicken-breasts/

 

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Enchiladas Verdes

 

wipes cobwebs off of computer screen….

Has it really been over a month since my last entry??? Slaps wrist. Bad food blogger!

Work kind of kicked my butt towards the end of the school year. The higher-ups decided to change lots of things around on us, and we scrambled around furiously to accommodate. Plus, a constantly teething baby left me exhausted at night. Anyway, I have just under two months of summer break, and have lots of fun stuff planned.


Today was Father’s Day, and hubs celebrated his first. He requested enchiladas, and since we had already tried a red sauce, I decided to go with a recipe using a green sauce. Luckily, Rick Bayless had just the thing. I loved how the sauce turned a vibrant green. The poblano chiles I used were unusually strong – the sauce had more than a little kick, and my hand burned after handling the roasted chiles. A dousing in vinegar, followed by a soapy wash, then a dousing in alchohol followed by another soapy wash took the burn away.

The enchiladas were totally worth the burning hand.


Adapted from a Rick Bayless recipe
As seen on rickbayless.com

Enchiladas Verdes

Enchiladas Verdes

Ingredients

1.25 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 fresh poblano chiles
1.5 cup (lightly packed) roughly chopped spinach leaves
2 cups milk
2 cups chicken broth
5 tablespoons butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 cup flour
Salt
12 corn tortillas
A little vegetable oil for brushing or spraying
About 1 cup shredded Monterey jack cheese
Chopped cilantro

Instructions

  1. Place chicken in a medium pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil, and simmer until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from heat, shred with a fork, and set aside.
  2. Roast the poblanos on a baking sheet 4 inches below a very hot broiler, turning regularly, until the skins have blistered and blackened on all side, about 10 minutes under the broiler. Place in a bowl and cover with a kitchen towel for 10 minutes. Peel off the blackened skin, tear open and pull out the seed pod and stem (wear gloves). Quickly rinse to remove any stray seeds or bits of skin. Roughly chop and put in a blender. Add the spinach.
  3. In a medium saucepan, combine the milk and broth, set over medium-low heat to warm.
  4. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook for a minute to release its aroma, then add the flour and stir the mixture for a minute. Raise the heat to medium-high. Pour in the warm broth mixture and whisk constantly until the sauce boils. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  5. Pour half the hot sauce into the blender with the chiles and spinach. Secure the lid, remove the center part, and cover loosely with a cloth. Blend until smooth. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan with the remaining sauce. Taste and season with salt, usually about 2 teaspoons.
  6. Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Smear about 1/4 cup of the sauce over the bottom of each of four to six 9-inch individual ovenproof baking/serving dishes or smear about 1 cup of the sauce over the bottom of a 13x9-inch baking dish. Stir 1 cup of the sauce into the chicken.
  7. Lay half of the tortillas out on a baking sheet and lightly brush or spray both sides of the tortillas with oil; top each tortilla with another one and brush or spray those with oil. Bake just to warm through and soften, about 3 minutes. Stack the tortillas and cover with a towel to keep warm.
  8. Working quickly, roll a portion of the chicken up in each tortilla, then line them all up in the baking dish(es). Douse evenly with the remaining sauce and sprinkle with the cheese.
  9. Bake until the enchiladas are hot through (the cheese will have begun to brown), about 20 minutes. Garnish with the cilantro and serve.
http://kokocooks.com/2010/06/enchiladas-verdes/

 

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Chicken Enchiladas

 

Hubs has a fantastic recipe for enchiladas. It’s something he comes up with off the top of his head. The only drawback is that he uses canned sauce.

 
This particular enchilada recipe has been making the rounds on food blogs that I visit. The bloggers all refer to the version found on Josie’s blog, Pink Parsley. I love that the sauce is homemade. I had never even thought to make the sauce from scratch. What a difference it makes! We devoured these within a day.


Adapted from a recipe on Pink Parsley
Originally from America’s Test Kitchen

Chicken Enchiladas

Chicken Enchiladas

Ingredients

1 medium onion, chopped fine
1 jalepeno, seeded and chopped
1 Tbs canola canola oil
3 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 poblano chile, roasted and skin removed, chopped (I happened to have one already roasted; otherwise I probably wouldn't go through the effort of adding it)
3 Tbs chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
3 tsp sugar
15 oz can tomato sauce
1 c water
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 c corn
8 oz. cheddar jack cheese, shredded (2 c)
½ c minced fresh cilantro, divided
12 (6-inch) soft corn tortillas
Cooking spray
Salt and ground black pepper

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
  2. Combine onion, jalepeno, ½ tsp salt, and oil in a large saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until vegetables have softened, 6-8 minutes. Stir in the garlic, poblano chile, chili powder, cumin, and sugar. Cook until fragrant, less than 30 seconds. Stir in the tomato sauce, water, and chopped tomato. Bring to a simmer. Cook until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.
  3. Nestle the chicken into the sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until chicken is cooked through, about 12-20 minutes. The thickest part should read 160 degrees. Set aside to cool.
  4. Pour sauce through a colander to strain, pressing to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Transfer the onion/pepper mixture to a large bowl and reserve. Season the sauce with additional salt and pepper to taste. Shred the chicken into bite sized pieces. Add to the onion mixture, and add ¼c of the sauce, corn, 1 c of cheese, and half the cilantro. Toss to combine.
  5. Spray a 13x9 inch baking dish with nonstick spray. Stack the tortillas on a plate and cover with plastic wrap. Microwave on high until the tortillas are warm and pliable, about 40-50 seconds. Spoon 1/3c of the chicken mixture evenly down the center of a tortilla. Tightly roll and lay seam-side down in the baking dish. Lightly spray the tops of the enchiladas with nonstick spray. Place in the oven, uncovered, for about 7 minutes, until the tortillas start to brown slightly.
  6. Reduce heat to 400 degrees. Remove enchiladas and pour sauce evenly on top. Top with the remaining cheese. Cover dish with foil, and bake an additional 20 minutes. Remove foil and bake another 5 minutes, until cheese browns. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with remaining cilantro.
http://kokocooks.com/2010/05/chicken-enchiladas/

 

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Chicken Marsala

I had a bunch of marsala wine left over after making this. What better way to use it up than chicken marsala? I chose a recipe that used the most marsala I could find. Somehow, it did not yield much sauce. Most of it was absorbed by the mushrooms, which gave them a fantastic marsala flavor. In hindsight, I would probaby make 1 1/2 of the sauce.
 
Adapted from an Emeril Lagasse recipe
As seen on foodnetwork.com

Chicken Marsala

Chicken Marsala

Ingredients

½ c flour
1 Tbs creole seasoning
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasets, cut in halves and pounded thin
1 Tbs olive oil
3 Tbs butter
3 c sliced mushrooms
1 c Marsala wine
1 c chicken stock

Instructions

  1. In a shallow bowl or plate combine the flour and creole seasoning and stir to combine thoroughly. Quickly dredge the chicken breast halves in the seasoned flour mixture, shaking to remove any excess flour.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until very hot but not smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook the chicken breasts until golden brown on both sides, about 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate and set aside. Add 1 tablespoon of the remaining butter to the pan and add the mushrooms. Cook, stirring frequently, until mushrooms are golden brown around the edges and have given off their liquid. Add the Marsala wine and bring to a boil, scraping to remove any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. When the wine has reduced by half, add the chicken stock and cook for 3 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
  3. Lower the heat to medium and return the chicken breasts to the pan and continue to cook until they are cooked through and the sauce has thickened, about 5 to 6 minutes. Swirl in the remaining 1 tablespoon of butter, add salt and pepper to taste.
http://kokocooks.com/2010/03/chicken-marsala/

 

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Orange Chicken

Along with baking lots of tasty sweets, hubs has been on a roll with Cooks Illustrated recipes. Anything he wants to make, he looks it up on their website for a recipe. I don’t like to be too dependent on one source for recipes, but they dotaste good.Since we don’t have a deep fryer, we used the dutch oven with a candy thermometer attached to the side. The oil took a really long time to heat up, so I cranked up the burner, which then made the temperature sky rocket to over 400 degrees. As a frying novice, I wasn’t sure how important it was to have the oil at the correct temperature. I had horrible visions of burning the chicken, splattering oil everywhere, and trying to put out a grease fire in the kitchen. Luckily, none of those things happened.

I have never been a fan of deep frying at home, although after tasting this dish, I may be a convert. The chicken was light, perfectly cooked, and didn’t taste at all greasy. The sauce was pungent with orange and chili, and not too sweet. Hubs had a slightly glazed look as he ate, as if in a euphoric food stupor. Guess we may branch out in our deep frying ventures.


Orange Chicken
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
May 2005

1 1/2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1 1/2 inch chunks
3/4 c low sodium chicken broth
3/4 c orange juice
1 1/2 tsp grated orange zest, plus 8 2-inch strips of peel
6 Tbs white vinegar
1/4 c soy sauce
1/2 c packed dark brown sugar
3 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbs plus 2 tsp corn starch
2 Tbs cold water
4 small whole dried red chiles, or 1 tsp dried chili flakes (optional)

3 large egg whites
1 c cornstarch
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp baking soda
3 c peanut oil

Place chicken in a 1 gallon resealable bag. Combine broth, orange juice, zest, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, garlic, ginger, and cayenne in a large saucepan. Whisk until sugar is fully dissolved. Measure out 3/4 c of the mixture and pour into the bag with the chicken. Press out as much air as possible and seal bag. Chill for 30-60 minutes, but no longer.

Bring remaining mixture to a boil over high heat. In a small bowl, stir together cornstarch and cold water. Whisk cornstarch mixture into sauce. Simmer sauce, stirring occasionally, until thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Stir in orange peel and chiles. Set aside.

Place egg whites in a shallow dish. Using a fork, beat until frothy. In a second dish, mix the cornstarch, cayenne, and baking soda until combined. Drain chicken in a colander; pat dry. Place half of chicken in the egg whites, coating completely. Transfer pieces to cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly. Place dredged chicken pieces on a wire rack set over baking sheet; repeat with remaining chicken.

Heat oil in a dutch oven or a straight sided saute pan over high heat until the oil registers 350 degrees. Carefully place chicken in oil. Fry in 2 batches until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning pieces halfway through cooking. Transfer chicken to a large plate lined with paper towels. Let oil return to 350 degrees between batches.

Reheat sauce over medium heat until simmering, about 2 minutes. Add chicken and gently toss to coat. Serve immediately.

 

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