Monday, October 25, 2010

Orange Chicken

Orange Chicken

Posted on October 19, 2010 by Annie

If you’re looking for a healthy meal, keep on looking. But if you want to see one of my very favorite dinners, look no further. Since this is essentially fried chicken in a sticky, sweet sauce over a bed of refined carbs, I only make this a couple of times a year. But I enjoy it immensely every.single.time. (I also guard the leftovers fiercely.) Actually, I had only every tried orange chicken making this version at home. This is supposed to be a knock-off version of a popular take-out meal. When I finally got around to trying the “original”, I was sorely disappointed. It doesn’t even compare. So if you happen to like that take-out dish, then I think you will really enjoy this. I particularly love how the cayenne pepper provides slight spicy counterbalance to the sweetness. Can’t wait for the next six months to pass so I can justify eating this again

Orange Chicken

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For the marinade and sauce:

¾ cup low-sodium chicken broth

¾ cup freshly squeezed orange juice

1½ tsp. finely grated orange zest

6 tbsp. white vinegar

¼ cup soy sauce

½ cup brown sugar (dark or light)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

1½ lbs. boneless chicken thighs or breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces

1 tbsp. plus 2 tsp. cornstarch

2 tbsp. cold water

8 thin strips orange peel (optional)

For the coating and frying:

3 large egg whites

1 cup cornstarch

½ tsp. baking soda

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

3 cups peanut or canola oil (I like a combination)


To make the marinade and sauce, combine the chicken broth, orange juice, orange zest, vinegar, soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger and cayenne pepper in a large saucepan; whisk to blend well. Measure out ¾ cup of the mixture and transfer it to a large zipper lock plastic bag. Add the chicken pieces to the bag, pressing out the excess air and sealing well. Refrigerate and let marinate 30-60 minutes, but no longer. Place the saucepan with the remaining mixture on the stove and heat over medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and water until smooth. Add the mixture to the saucepan with the sauce. Continue simmering until the sauce is thick and translucent, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the strips of orange peel, if using.

To prepare the coating, place the egg whites in a pie plate and whisk until frothy. In a second pie plate combine the cornstarch, baking soda and cayenne pepper; whisk to blend. Drain the chicken of the marinade in a colander or large strainer; pat dry with paper towels. Place half of the chicken pieces in the egg whites and turn to coat. Transfer the pieces to the cornstarch mixture and coat thoroughly, shaking off the excess. Transfer to a plate and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

To fry the chicken, heat the oil in a 11- or 12-inch round Dutch oven or straight-sided sauté pan until the oil reaches 350˚ F. Carefully place half of the chicken pieces in the oil and fry until golden brown, about 5 minutes, turning the pieces halfway through cooking. Remove from the oil with a skimmer or slotted spoon and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return the oil to 350˚ F and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.

Reheat the sauce if necessary and toss with the cooked chicken pieces. Serve over rice, if desired.

Grasshopper Pie

Grasshopper Pie

(8 servings)


2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (I used Oreos, about 20)

5 T butter, melted


1 quart mint chocolate chip ice cream

1 quart chocolate ice cream


1 c whipping cream

2 T powdered sugar

1 t vanilla

10 Andes Mints

(directions borrowed from My Kitchen Cafe)

Combine the crushed cookie crumbs and the butter together in a medium bowl until the cookie crumbs are well-moistened and the mixture looks and feels like wet sand. Press the crumbs into a 9- or 10-inch springform pan and refrigerate or freeze until set (about 30 minutes).

While the crust is in the refrigerator, take out the mint chocolate chip ice cream and let it sit at room temperature for 15-ish minutes to soften up a bit. Scoop the softened ice cream into a medium bowl (you can use the same one as the cookie crumbs, if you like!) and stir the ice cream until it is smooth. You don’t want it overly melted here – just try to stir it all up so it is easy spreadable but is still cold and icy. Spread the ice cream over the cookie crust in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until firm, at least an hour.

Follow the same step above with the chocolate ice cream and spread it on top of the mint chocolate chip ice cream (make sure the mint ice cream is thoroughly frozen so the layers don’t mix). Once the chocolate ice cream has been spread evenly, again cover with plastic wrap and freeze for 1-2 hours or longer depending on your freezer (or tightly covered up to a three days). My pie held up much better after sitting in the freezer over night. I will plan to do it that way next time.

When you are ready to serve the pie, whip the heavy cream into stiff peaks with the powdered sugar and vanilla. To make the Andes mint curls hold the mint nestled in a paper towel with one long thin edge exposed above the top of the paper towel. Take a vegetable peeler and gently shave off curls from the long, thin edge. Repeat this process until you have the desired amount of curls to garnish with (I shaved the curls early in the day and kept them on a plate in the freezer until I was ready to use them). You can microwave the mint for 4-5 seconds on power 20 if you want. This is supposed to make the shaving easier but I was fine without doing that.

Unmold the grasshopper pie from the springform pan and pile the whipped cream on top of the ice cream. Spread in large dollops over the top of the pie. Sprinkle with the curls. Cut the pie into slices and serve immediately. If you are planning to have leftovers, serve the whipped cream on each piece separately instead of the whole pie, as the whipped cream doesn’t fare as well being frozen on top of the pie for a long period of time.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole

I came across this recipe at A Southern Grace and just knew I had to try it. I am a big lover of comfort food and this definitely fits into that category. I also love how quick it is and that it is all ingredients that I have on hand. I modified it slightly from the original recipe.

Creamy Chicken Noodle Casserole

2 chicken breasts

6 ounces egg noodles

1 can cream of mushroom soup

1 can cream of chicken soup

1 cup sour cream

salt, pepper and paprika to taste

1 1/2 cups cracker crumbs (I used club crackers, Ritz would be good too)

1/2 cup butter

Preheat oven to 350. Cook chicken and shred it. Cook noodles. Mix chicken and noodles together. In a separate bowl mix soups and sour cream together. Season with salt, pepper and paprika. Gently stir together the cream soup mixture with the chicken mixture. Put this into a 9x13 pan. Melt the butter and mix it with the cracker crumbs. Spread this on top of the casserole. Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and golden brown.


Monday, October 11, 2010


Manicotti has to be one of my favorite pasta dishes ever! And this one is the best homemade one I have ever had. I have made a couple and hated them so I decided that I would just give up and I did for a while, until I came across this recipe. I decided to give it ONE more try, and boy I am glad I did! This recipe is so yummy! It is adapted from My Kitchen Cafe.


(6-8 servings)

Tomato Sauce

1-28 oz can diced tomatoes, in juice (I like petite diced)

1-28 oz can crushed tomatoes

2 T extra-virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/4-1/2 t red pepper flakes

1/2 t salt

2 t dried basil or 1 t fresh, chopped

Cheese Filling and Pasta

3 cups ricotta cheese (I used low-fat)

2 cups grated Parmesan cheese

2 cups shredded mozzarella

2 eggs, beaten

3/4 t salt

1/2 t pepper

2 T chopped fresh parsley (I like flat leaf/Italian)

2 t chopped fresh basil

16 lasagna noodles, large shells or manicotti shells

Preheat oven to 375.

In a large saucepan heat oil. Add garlic and pepper flakes until fragrant but not brown. Stir in tomatoes, basil and 1/2 t salt and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, combine ricotta, 1 cup Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, eggs, salt , pepper and herbs. Set aside.

Cook the noodles according to box directions. I loved using lasagna noodles, they were easy to use and gave a cute ruffle to the edge of the manicotti.

Spread 1 1/2 cups of sauce on the bottom of a 9x13 pan. Fill noodles. If using lasagna noodles, lay them on a clean dish towel with the short side facing you. Spread 1/4 cup of the cheese mixture on the bottom 3/4 of the noodle, leaving the top 1/4 exposed. Roll the noodle starting with the edge closest to you. Place into the pan. Repeat with the remaining noodles. Put 8 filled noodles in each row creating 2 rows in your pan. Pour the rest of the sauce evenly over the top of the noodles, making sure the noodles are covered.

Cover the manicotti with foil. Bake for about 40 minutes until the sauce is bubbling. Remove foil and top with the other 1 cup of Parmesan cheese. Cook uncovered for 6-7 minutes until the cheese is bubbly. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes before serving. The manicotti can be prepared up until the baking step then covered with parchment paper and then foil and stored in the fridge for 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw before cooking. To bake, remove parchment, replace foil and increase the cooking time to 1 hour to 1 1/4 hours.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Peanut Butter Cookies (shelly)

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla

cream above ingredients

1 and 1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp soda
1/4 tsp salt

sift and add to cream mixture

Bake at 350-375 for 9 min

Fudge Crinkles (cath)

1 package Betty Crocker Double Choc. Swirl Cake Mix
1/2 cup veg oil
2 eggs
powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 325.  Mix cake mix, coconut, oil, eggs.  Roll into a ball and cover it with powder sugar.  Bake 15 min.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

How to make Bagels (

Forming and Baking Bagels

Step-by-step instructions for boiling, topping, and baking perfect bagels.

With a little practice, you can make bagels that rival those in New York's best bagel shops.

1. To make bagels, a stand mixer is highly recommended. The best bagels are made with high-gluten flour or bread flour, so the dough is very stiff. It also requires a long mixing time to develop properly. We used the Bagels II recipe.

Bagels II

2. Once the dough has risen once, divide it into 12 equal pieces and form them into dough rounds. Cover the rounds with a damp cloth and allow them to rest for 5 to 10 minutes for easier shaping. Meanwhile, bring 3 to 4 quarts of water to boil in a large stockpot, preheat your oven to 500 degrees F (260 degrees C) and lightly oil two baking sheets.

3. Lightly coat your hands with vegetable oil and gently press a dough round down with the palm of your hand. Find the center of the round and push a finger through to make a hole.

4. Swing the bagel around your finger to widen the hole. Be gentle; the goal is to widen the hole without ripping the walls of the bagel. The walls should be approximately 1-inch thick and the hole 2 inches wide. Don't worry if the hole seems too large: it will close up quite a bit as the bagel boils and bakes. After each bagel is shaped, place it back underneath the moist towel.

5. Why boil? Boiling gelatinizes the starch in the outer layer of dough, giving the bagels their characteristic chewy crust. Some bakers add malt syrup (available at health food stores and specialty grocers) to the water to sweeten it, enhancing the bagel's flavor. We used fresh boiling water with no added flavoring. Carefully drop the bagels, two or three at a time--depending upon the size of your pot--into the boiling water. Don't crowd the bagels in the pot; this will cause the water to cool down and the bagels to stick together.

6. Boil the bagels until they have expanded in size and underside appears cooked (1 to 2 minutes); turn them with a slotted spoon or spatula. Let them boil for another minute or two, until both sides are evenly cooked.

7. Remove each bagel from the boiling water; the bagels will have puffed up and the centers will be nearly closed. They will be off-white in color and have some blisters just below the surface. Drop each bagel into a bowl of cold water to cool.

8. If you wish to top your bagels, arrange toppings--poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated onion--on plates. Remove bagels from the cold water bath and dip the top and sides in the seeds. Arrange the seeded bagels on the oiled baking sheet.

9. With strongly flavored toppings, such as Kosher salt, garlic, caraway, or fennel seeds, sprinkle on the toppings rather than dipping the bagels to coat completely.

10. Bake the bagels in preheated oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes. After 10 minutes, check the bagels and loosen them from the baking sheet if they are sticking. Once they are done, place them on a rack to cool.

11. You don't need to get up at 4 am, like the bagel bakers do. The shaped rings of raw dough can be frozen and kept for up to three weeks. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, bringing to room temperature before boiling. Bake as directed.

Boiled Bagels

Bread Machine Bagels