Tuesday, December 30, 2008

GENERAL TSAO'S CHICKEN (WW version)

We love Chinese food in our house, and it's really not all that hard to prepare, if you have the right ingredients on hand. General Tsao's is one of our favorites, but the normal way is deep fried chicken in a spicy sauce. In this WW version, the chicken is sauteed and bypasses a lot of the fat calories in the normal version. If you're used to the fried version, please don't think this one is inferior. The flavor is tremendous! I have to admit though, I fix fried rice with mine. We all love it. I'm adding the recipe for the fried rice, at the end of this post.

GENERAL TSAO'S CHICKEN (WW version) 6 pts

3/4 cup(s) canned chicken broth, reduced-sodium
1 1/2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp peanut oil
2 medium scallion(s), chopped
2 medium garlic clove(s), minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes, or 1 dried chili pepper, minced (add more if you like it extra spicy)
1 pound(s) uncooked boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 cup(s) cooked white rice, kept hot

Instructions

  • In a medium bowl, whisk together broth, cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar and ginger; set aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic and pepper and cook 2 minutes. Add chicken and cook until browned all over, about 5 minutes.
  • Add reserved sauce and simmer until sauce thickens and chicken is cooked through, about 3 minutes.
  • Serve chicken and sauce over rice. Yields about 1 cup of chicken and sauce and 1/2 cup of rice (white) per serving.
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FRIED RICE
  • 1 - 2 green onions, as desired
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper to taste
  • 4 tablespoons oil for stir-frying, or as needed
  • 4 cups cold cooked rice
  • 1 - 2 tablespoons light soy sauce or oyster sauce, as desired (I use Soy sauce)
Wash and finely chop the green onion. Lightly beat the eggs with the salt and pepper.
Heat a wok or frying pan and add 2 tablespoons oil. When the oil is hot, add the eggs. Cook, stirring, until they are lightly scrambled but not too dry. Remove the eggs and clean out the pan. (I use a non-stick skillet to fix mine in).

Add 2 tablespoons oil. Add the rice. Stir-fry for a few minutes, using chopsticks or a wooden spoon to break it apart. Stir in the soy sauce or oyster sauce as desired.

When the rice is heated through, add the scrambled egg back into the pan. Mix thoroughly. Stir in the green onion. Serve hot.

Monday, December 29, 2008

TABLESCAPES - Burgundy & Gold

Here is a pretty "Burgundy & Gold" table. My sweet daughters bought me this whole outfit one year for Christmas. Including the gold rimmed plates and the gold flatware. The gold chargers were purchased later, on a clearance rack.
For the centerpiece, Sarah used a clear cake stand, with a rim, and placed a pillar candle in the middle, some gold ornaments and then a strand of gold beads. She took a strand of gold ribbon that she found in a drawer and laid that on the table around the candles. Your centerpiece can be made up of most anything you have sitting around your home.

Here is a better close up of the centerpiece. I had to giggle when my daughter in law said she was bringing place cards for the table. She had Toddler church this morning, and this was the craft that the little ones made. haha She is such a nut!

If you notice, one of the places on the end, doesn't have a charger or goblet. This was my grandson's first time to sit at the "big" table. Little sister has moved on to big people food and has commandeered the high chair for family meals! Little D didn't mind though. I think he loved the idea of sitting with the grown ups.

This is why there was no goblet at his place! haha He loves his special "Cars" cup from his Grpa and Grma Rader in NY.

Here's Katie in the high chair. She just finished a plate of turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and a roll. I think the Tryptophan is hitting her early! haha

DEEP FRIED MUSHROOMS

We love mushrooms! Every once in a while we get a hankering for a batch of crispy deep fried mushrooms. My Honey made these the other night and boy, were they ever good! You just can't go wrong using Drakes coating mix. It is wonderful on chicken, mushrooms, onion rings, etc... The only "problem" is, everyone wants to stand around the kitchen, eating the mushrooms, as soon as they come out of the fryer. It just doesn't work to make these to "go with the meal!" You'd be better off to consider them as an appetizer. haha

DEEP FRIED MUSHROOMS

1 lb. First Choice, fresh, white mushrooms
3/4 c. Drakes coating mix
3/4 c. water
Cooking oil for deep frying

Wash mushrooms and dry thoroughly on towel. Cut stem ends even with bottom of mushroom. Stir coating mix and water together until smooth.

Dip mushrooms in batter and fry in 400 degree oil for about 5 minutes or until golden brown. Oil should be deep enough for mushrooms to float freely. Drain on paper towels. We don't dip ours in anything, they are good just like they are.

Friday, December 19, 2008

RASPBERRY SHORTBREAD DREAMS

This little shortbread cookie has become a real family favorite over the last few years. My friend Chris passed this one on to me and we all love her for it! It's a super simple recipe. Very few ingredients. And if you don't like raspberry, then you can use your own favorite jam in place of it. See here I've used some homemade peach jam as well. The peach is really yummy too!

RASPBERRY SHORTBREAD DREAMS

1 cup butter (NO SUBSTITUTES), softened
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups flour
1/3 to 1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam

Glaze
1 cup confectioners' sugar
2 to 3 teaspoons water
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Cream butter and sugar. Beat in extract. Gradually add flour until dough forms a ball. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour or until easy to handle.

Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart on ungreased baking sheets. Using the end of a wooden spoon handle, make an indentation in the center. Fill with jam. Bake at 350°F for 14-18 minutes or until edges are lightly browned. Remove to wire racks to cool. Spoon additional jam into cookies if desired.

Combine glaze ingredients; drizzle over cookies.

Yield: about 3 1/2 dozen.

*NOTE* I use my finger to make the indentation, but a spoon works too. Also, if you are using Pampered chef bakeware, you may want to shorten the baking time. You don't want these cookies to brown, necessarily. Just a light tan on the bottom. They will finish cooking on the stone when you take them out of the oven.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

PUPPY CHOW

Now here's a classic that's been around for a very long time. It's super easy, and what a fun little treat to bag up in cute little snowman bags and stick in your Christmas goody boxes! I usually have to make 2 batches of this when I mix it up - one for home and one for giving! It disappears fast - especially when the gang's all here!

PUPPY CHOW

9 cups Corn Chex®, Rice Chex®, Wheat Chex® or Chocolate Chex® cereal (or combination)
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
½ cup peanut butter
1/4 cup butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ½ cups powdered sugar

Directions
1. Into large bowl, measure cereal; set aside.
2. In 1-quart microwaveable bowl, microwave chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter uncovered on High 1 minute; stir. Microwave about 30 seconds longer or until mixture can be stirred smooth. Stir in vanilla. Pour mixture over cereal, stirring until evenly coated. Pour into 2-gallon resealable food-storage plastic bag.
3. Add powdered sugar. Seal bag; shake until well coated. Spread on waxed paper to cool. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

TURTLES

This has GOT to be one of the easiest Christmas treats I have ever made in my life! It literally took just minutes to make an entire sheet pan full! And they go great in the Christmas goody boxes!

CHEWY TURTLES

A bag of Mini Pretzels
A bag of Rolos (chocolate candy) UNWRAPPED
A bag of WHOLE pecans ( or cashews, walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350.
Spread the pretzels out on a baking sheet.
Put one Rolo on top of each pretzel.

Put into oven for 5 minutes, take them out of the oven. Don't walk away from your oven. The rolos only take 4 or 5 minutes to soften. The rolos won't look melted, they will retain their shape. Now push a nice, big, crunchy pecan down on top of the Rolo`s.
It should be nice and soft and gooey at this point.

Eat immediately or cool and serve. Makes a fun gift to give to someone!

CHOCOLATE COVERED PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS

Thank you all for allowing me a bit of a posting break. Seems like since Thanksgiving, we have been going non-stop. But recipes and pics are starting to back up in my files, so I wanted to pop on tonight and post a few new ones for you.
This one is SUPER easy and a real favorite during the holidays. The best part is, you don't have any mixing to do and you don't have to fire up your oven either! These are nice for those goody baskets at Christmastime.

CHOCOLATE COVERED PEANUT BUTTER CRACKERS

1 (12 oz.) box round Ritz crackers
Jif Peanut butter
1 lb. white chocolate
3 tbsp. shaved paraffin

Make peanut butter crackers as you usually would, using a decent amount between 2 Ritz crackers. Press the crackers together until peanut butter comes to the edges of the crackers. This gives a nicer look once they are coated. Here they are all piled up, waiting on their chocolate bath!
Place white chocolate and paraffin in top of double boiler. Heat over boiling water until ingredients melt and mixture is smooth. Turn heat down as low as possible.Drop each cracker in the chocolate. Using a fork, turn cracker over to coat other side. Lift cracker and drain excess chocolate. Place on waxed paper to cool. Store in canister. Yield: 4 dozen