These days, my household tries to eat less carb-heavy things on a regular basis, and I’ve taken to making lettuce wraps regularly. One of the first google search results will give you a copycat of the P.F. Chang’s recipe, so that was my jumping off point. Frankly, that is where I’ve eaten most of the lettuce wrap dishes in my life. Not vouching for the authenticity of it here, going there kind of drives me nuts sometimes (okay, every time). I also halved all the sauces from original recipe for a full one pound portion of pork. You’ll want to adjust it to your taste, other people probably like more sweet, oozy sauce than me.
From there, I added things I actually wanted to eat..
My “roommate” sent me this recipe in an email, a pretty direct hint to try making it. Recipe from A Girl DeFloured
Total Time: 15 minutes
4 stalks of celery, scrubbed and ends trimmed (chop and reserve leaves)
2 tsp butter
Pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup of chicken stock
Cut celery into 1-inch slices on the diagonal.
Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add celery, along with salt and pepper and cook until it starts to become tender.
Add broth, reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for ~5 minutes. Uncover and cook for about 5 minutes longer, allowing the broth to reduce and caramelize a bit.
Taste for seasoning and serve immediately, garnished with reserved chopped leaves.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 2 of 5 stars Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
Turned out pretty tasty but I think I’d still rather have it with a protein like chicken, and maybe peanut butter. Cooked up fast, though! Lesson learned: I tried another portion of celery with chicken sausage, plus apple. The apple was definitely a mistake. The sausage was…never meant to be made with sage. Blegh.
I was inspired by a documentary and couldn’t shake my need to visit the General. Fairly quick, kinda tasty, really fried, and sweet. Je suis Tso.
1 pound of chicken (I prefer thighs)
Some mayonnaise for coating chicken*
Dry Coating (inspired/copied from Serious Eats):
½ cup of flour
½ cup of corn starch
½ teaspoon of baking powder
some salt/pepper to taste (I personally prefer it on the salty side)
1 bottle of general or orange chicken sauce
Orange zest to taste (less is better)
Lots of high heat safe oil
Cut your chicken into small little pieces and coat in mayonnaise. *Mayonnaise was my egg bath substitute due to my lack of eggs in the fridge and worked well. Good thing because I don’t support abortion.
Combine the dry coating ingredients in a separate bowl.
Place coated chicken in dry bath and toss like a deflated football.
Fill a pot with oil, you don’t need as much as you think and heat to 350 degrees. Add chicken and cook for 5 minutes. Try to maintain oil temperature at 350 degrees (ie you need to increase heat after you add the chicken).
Remove chicken and place in a pan.
Add General sauce and toss at mediumish heat and add orange zest to taste.
I’m too poor to have a wok, but my non-stick pan worked OK. I went easy on the sauce, but add as much as you like.
Heat until your desired caramelization.
And there you have it.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars. Likelihood of Repeat: 100% (still have most of the bottle left and chicken is cheap) Lesson Learned: Don’t listen to spouse when she insists on adding more and more orange zest.
So first I must say I first had this from my sis Y_________. It was so good when she made it twice for me. So I had to ask her for the recipe because I needed a good main dish for a dinner/date I was making. Need something good to impress lol. The Parmesan Crusted Chicken was the main. Then Oven-Roasted Asparagus and just a normal salad on the side and Riesling for drinks.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves –if from frozen, try and cut thinner so the chicken is not too thick to cook in 30 minutes (shouldn’t be more than two finger-widths thick).
4 tsp. Italian seasoned dry bread crumbs (or regular bread crumbs + dry herbs), or however much you need to cover one side of chicken
optional: a little salt & pepper
Combine mayo and cheese. Spread on chicken, then sprinkle with bread crumbs, salt & pepper. Bake at 425 degrees (F), 20-35 minutes or until thoroughly cooked, usually 30 minutes, at least. Safe temp for chicken to be cooked to is 160F.
For reheating: bake at 425 degrees for about 5-8 minutes until you know it’s heated through, then broil on high for 1 minute to obtain slightly crispy exterior.
Can also freeze raw and bake 20-27 minutes plus broil.
Trying to impress I decided to prep some of the ingredients before I headed over to her place to make the food. Also she is a bit of a health food person so I decided to use light hellman’s mayo and just let her know it was a white sauce. Also I was able to pick the chicken from Whole Foods, some free range chicken from the meats section.
Being the person I am I happen to forget the dry bread crumbs. So I decided to improvise and use her Italian seasoning and rosemary. Lots of rosemary, ’cause I just love that spice and just bit of sea salt and pepper.
She had a gas oven and it only took 15 mins to cook. It was not raw but cooked enough and just juicy and good.
Preheat an oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C).
Place the asparagus into a mixing bowl, and drizzle with the olive oil. Toss to coat the spears, then sprinkle with Parmesan cheese, garlic, salt, and pepper. Arrange the asparagus onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Bake in the preheated oven until just tender, 12 to 15 minutes depending on thickness. Sprinkle with lemon juice just before serving.
I did not do much making the asparagus. This was her side. We were able to just put it in when the chicken was still cooking because it was the same temp.
The salad -nothing really to it. I kind of just picked random ingredients and put them in the salad. Also I just put the walnuts on the stove top and put them on top of the salad. The balsamic was a good choice, surprisingly. I don’t really know much about salads but we both liked it.
Overall this meal was great. It did impress. So MISSION ACCOMPLISHED lol. Also forgot we had a Riesling for drinks. This is something that I would repeat for sure. Easy, fast and good. Would maybe pick another random side to mix it up though. Keep in mind the chicken says to use 4 breasts. It was too much for 2 people but leftovers for lunch, so, not that bad.
Wish I took more pictures but didn’t want to seem to be that person yet.
Another time for me to cook to impress. Instead of going out to brunch we decided to make food instead. I was able to find a there Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes that just sounded great to make. For sides we decided to have some cut oranges, bacon and orange mango juice.
Whole Wheat, Oatmeal, and Banana Pancakes
1 cup uncooked rolled oats
1 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup brown sugar 2 tablespoons dry milk powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 banana, mashed
Place the rolled oats into the jar of a blender and blend until the texture resembles coarse flour. Whisk together the blended oats, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, brown sugar, dry milk powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.
Whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil, and vanilla. Stir in the mashed banana. Pour the egg mixture into the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Let the batter stand for 5 minutes.
Heat a lightly oiled griddle over medium-high heat. Drop batter by large spoonfuls onto the griddle, and cook until bubbles form and the edges are dry, about 2 minutes. Flip, and cook until browned on the other side. Repeat with remaining batter.
First off when we walked over to Wedge, my phone died and I had to go off memory what we needed. I had to alter the recipe a bit. I didn’t add the dry milk powder and switch the whole wheat flour with just all-purpose flour. Also we added 2 ripe bananas instead of just one. Made it so much better.
After getting the batter prepared I do wish I read the other comments because we could have just mixed everything in the blender instead of using so many bowls that needed to be cleaned. Also this makes a ton of pancakes. We only made 4 pancakes and half the batter was still left.
What I do love about the recipe is that you mash the bananas in the mix and you can taste gooey banana parts in some bites of the pancakes. Also used real maple syrup. Makes it just so much better
Bacon was just fried and dried to crisp and we just cut up oranges.
Again this meal did impress yet again. MISSON SUCCESS!!
I would like to do these pancakes again but in a blender. I bet it would be a lot faster and easier. Also maybe with eggs and bacon and fruit. Good stuff.
That’s it for now. Thanks, Alex! Stay tuned for another recipe from another J_____ brother, coming soon!
P.S. This parmesan-crusted chicken recipe was originally from my friend good Jennifer from grad school, who got it off a *gasp* Hellman’s Mayo jar. Thanks, Jennifer!
P.P.S. Bonus points to Alex for cooking the other dish at the same time due to same temp requirements.
What to do when your homegrown celery threatens to grow into a small, unchewable forest? Chop it all down, make celery chicken, (and take the rest to work). This is a combination I started around 2006 on one of those days when there wasn’t much left in the fridge and I thought, “what goes good with celery?” oh, peanut butter, of course..
Celery Chicken Sautee
Prep time: 5 min
Total time: ~Less than 30 minutes
3 shoots celery, chopped in small pieces for saute
2 boneless chicken breast (or chicken thigh, whatever you like), chopped for saute
4 Tbs peanut butter (extra crunchy pref.)
hot boiling water
5 dashes soy sauce
1 dash sesame oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
optional: toasted sesame seeds
optional: 1 tsp chili pepper flakes or 1/2 tsp chili powder
optional, but recommended if you have peanut butter without salt and sugar additives: 1 Tbs honey (or to taste)
optional to try: toast cashews and add.
Put chicken in a bowl with soy sauce, a little sesame oil, and garlic, mix around, let marinate for at least 10 minutes.
Heat saute pan on medium heat with a little olive oil until hot.
Saute chicken mixture (optional: and chili pepper flakes) until chicken looks half done, about 4 minutes. Meanwhile, Prepare the peanut butter sauce:
Dollop peanut butter in a cup with hot water per amount of chicken and celery, mix until it’s a relatively smooth sludge. Try to use as little water as possible, just enough to melt the mix.
In the pan, add celery (optional: and sesame seeds), pour peanut butter sauce on top and add a little extra soy sauce to taste/color, (optional: add honey) then cook until desired singed-ness in 5-8 minutes (do not cover), scraping sticky parts occasionally.
Add more soy sauce to taste if needed.
Serve atop brown rice.
Optional: add toasted cashews at end.
Today’s Recipe Rating:
Novelty Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars.
I may have been making variations for 10 years, but it should be new to you.. Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
So convenient as a fallback dish if you find old celery in your fridge, peanut butter in your pantry, and maybe have some frozen chicken hiding in the back of your freezer. Lesson Learned: It’s much easier to cut more even, thinner slices of chicken if you do so while it’s still partially defrosted. The thing that really makes this dish is just enough browning of the chicken, and then caramelizing of sugars in the peanut butter mixture as you saute (to get crunchy sweet stuff in the mix).
As a child growing up in the Midwest with home-cooked Chinese food for dinner, microwave dinners were some kind of marvelous space food I’d get to eat on special occasions (see: babysitter). Among those dinners, the best option often seemed to be the chicken pot pie, which could be easily popped in the toaster oven for a satisfying belly-sticking meal in a tin pan. Years later I picked up a recipe magazine based purely on the delectable-looking chicken pot pie on the front. I think it was a Reader’s Digest. Anyway, it seemed like such a novel and miraculous opportunity to learn to make pot pie, it has found an honored place in my recipe Dropbox files, usually only brought out to make something even better out of Thanksgiving turkey leftovers.
Fast forward to Labor Day weekend, and some old friends are in town and have made a special request for chicken pot pie. When good friends you haven’t seen in a years ask for pot pie, then you make pot pie.
Good thing I ended up with three great sous chefs to keep things rolling that Sunday..
Chicken Pot Pie
Based originally on ..a Reader’s Digest recipe
Serves 4 Prep time: 50 min Total time: ~.5 hrs prep + 1.5 hr + chilling (approx. 35 min chilling 2x)
4 Tbs unsalted butter
1 medium onion, cut into medium dice
2-3 large carrots, cut into medium dice
1/2 c all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface (whole wheat flour works fine too)
coarse salt & pepper
4 c low-sodium chicken broth (or veggie stock)
3 c cooked chicken, cut into 1-inch pieces (1 lb total)
1 c frozen peas
1.5 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves (or .75 tsp dried thyme)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg yolk
Optional: garlic powder, random italian seasonings
1. In a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium. Add onion and carrot and cook until onion softens, about 6 minutes. Add flour and 1/2 tsp salt; cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden, has a slightly nutty aroma, and is the texture of cooked oatmeal, about 5 minutes.
2. Whisking constantly, add broth. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently, until mixture thickens, about 8 minutes. Reduce to a simmer and cook 10 minutes. Stir in chicken, peas and thyme; season with salt and pepper (optional: garlic powder and italian seasoning). Divide mixture among four 12-ounce baking dishes; refrigerate until room temperature, about 20 minutes. Try to fill the dishes as full as possible to help support the dough on time so it gets a chance to rise. In the case of this last time I made pot pie, the baking dishes with filling were put in a cooler with ice and transported for the ~30 minutes to a friend’s house before continuing to the next step.
2.5 Optional step: get to your friend’s house and realize you forgot the puff pastry, half the group heads to the store to buy some more. :p
3. Preheat oven to 375 F. On a lightly floured work surface, roll pastry to an 1/8 inch thickness. Cut into 4 equal squares, 1 inch larger than dishes; with the tip of a sharp knife, cut vents into pastry. In a small bowl, lightly beat egg yolk with 1 tsp water; top potpies with pastry and brush with egg wash.
4. Refrigerate 15 minutes.
5. Bake until pastry is deep golden and juices are bubbling, about 35-45 minutes. It can be useful to put a wide dish underneath to catch any accidental overflow.
6. When serving, be sure to warn people the pot pie is very hot.
7. Take a food coma nap.
Today’s Trial Recipe Rating: Novelty Rating: 1.5 of 5 stars.
As mentioned, I usually only make this about once a year after Thanksgiving, so on that note, it’s a bit novel. Likelihood of Repeat: 100%
It’s quite a bit of work, which is partly why I use pre-made puff pastry instead of dough from scratch. However, all that care and attention only makes it more worth eating.
Lesson Learned: You will never have leftovers from this, unless you keep the filling separate from the dough and don’t bake it. Also, you can make whatever design you want when cutting slits in the top of the dough. Exercising the patience for full refrigeration time is pretty key to making sure the crust doesn’t get soggy and collapse, and having moderately shallow baking dishes gives you a good crust-to-filling ratio. Don’t be afraid to use more vegetables.
A variant to try later: putting crust underneath the filling too, per my friend S____________’s requests. Comment here if you’ve done this!
Last week also saw my spouse and I visiting my parents. I was raised on a relatively mellow-tasting, healthy diet, similar to what I helped my mama make below. Lots of steamed stuff, and delicious tofu.
The next night, I made dinner in honor of my father’s birthday. Fell a little short on supplies cooking away from my kitchen, but I made do.
I preheated the good ‘ole toaster oven to 400 and oiled up the pan. I rinsed and dried the chicken, brushed it with the butter and oil mix, and sprinkled a generous amount of marjoram, rosemary, salt and pepper. Then I baked it for around 40 minutes, dripped a little honey on top on impulse, took it out around 10 minutes later.
Charred Green Beans
Originally from a Seattle Times 2008 article (their link was dead so I removed it), modified for what I had on hand, and to keep the garlic in the roast.
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons chili powder (this is the substitute shown above for not having chili oil)
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 large or 4 small garlic cloves
1 pound green beans
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Coarse kosher or sea salt
1. Combine vegetable, chili and sesame oils in a microwave-safe container. With the flat of a chef’s knife, smash the garlic cloves; remove and discard peel and add garlic to oil. Cover with a paper towel and microwave on full power for 30 seconds. Let sit while you prepare the beans.
2. Top and tail green beans, rinse them thoroughly and then whirl in a salad spinner to remove excess moisture. Pat dry with paper towels or a clean dish towel.
3. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread beans out in one layer in two rimmed baking sheets. Drizzle oil over beans and toss beans until all are coated with oil.
4. Roast beans 15 to 20 minutes, depending on size, stirring and rotating pans halfway through. Beans should be browned in spots and beginning to shrivel. Remove from oven and drain on paper towels.
5. While beans are roasting, toast sesame seeds in a skillet over low heat, shaking pan and stirring frequently until fragrant; then remove from heat.
6. Sprinkle hot beans with sesame seeds and coarse salt to taste. Serve immediately, or store in fridge then serve at room temperature.
This week’s trial recipe rating:
Novelty Rating: 3 of 5 stars
The chicken was palatable, and I was happy it turned out okay, but was not remarkable. I’ve been making those green beans since 2008, they are in the regular meal rotation, so the only novelty is how tasty they are. Likelihood of Repeat: 20%
Likely not to repeat the same ad hoc chicken, likely to repeat the green beans, but they weren’t the trial factor here.