Tuesday, July 13, 2010

DIY Chinese Food: Super-Amazing, Incredible, Healthy Stir Fry... and Fried Rice!

A few nights ago, I mixed and matched a few different stir fry recipes to create this recipe for chicken stir fry. It was AMAZING! I served it with one of McPreachy's favorites: bacon and egg fried rice! YUM!

Hope you enjoy this healthy (well... except for the bacon) and delish meal!

Chicken and Cashew Stir Fry:

  • 3-4 chicken breasts, cut into strips

  • 16 oz veggies of your choice ( I used snap peas, red pepper, onions, shredded carrots and mushrooms. For an even easier meal, just buy a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies!)

  • 3/4 cup whole cashews (or almonds if you prefer)

  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped

  • 1 T. cornstarch

  • 1 T. brown sugar

  • 1/2 tsp. ground ginger

  • 1/2 c soy sauce (I used low-sodium from TJ's)

  • 1/3 c. pineapple juice (I'm sure you could use OJ in a pinch)

Directions:

  1. Heat a few tablespoons of canola or peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add chicken and cashews and stir-fry for 4 minutes, until chicken is browned all over.

  2. Add your veggies and garlic to the pan. Cover the pan and cook for another 5 minutes or so. Don't worry if the pan seems crowded; the veggies will cook down. (Note: the above picture was taken before this step. The veggies will be more cooked down than this when you are finished.)

  3. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch, brown sugar, ginger, soy sauce and pineapple juice. Add this mixture to the wok and cook 2-3 minutes, until thickened.

  4. Serve over rice or stir the whole thing into cooked buckwheat/soba noodles for homemade Pick Up Stix-style Chow Mein! Enjoy!

Like I said, I served this delightful dish o' the Asian persuasion with my favorite bacon-egg fried rice. I'll tell you how to make it, but I'll warn you that this isn't really a recipe, more of a method. I just kinda sprinkle and dump until it tastes right. So if you are the type of person who needs exact measurements, do not keep reading. You will be frustrated.

Bacon-Egg Fried Rice:


  1. Cook one cup of rice they way you normally would. Set aside.

  2. In a wok or large skillet, cook 6 slices of chopped bacon until brown and crispy. Drain and set aside.

  3. Add a few tablespoons of canola oil to the same pan. Over medium-high heat, cook one yellow onion and 4 cloves of chopped garlic until soft.

  4. Add two beaten eggs and scramble until cooked.

  5. Add your rice and stir everything together.

  6. Start seasoning. I usually add a healthy shake of ground ginger, several generous shakes of soy sauce, salt and pepper. Just keep adding and adjusting until you get the fla-vah you desire.

  7. Once your seasoning is good, just pat the rice down and let it sit for a few minutes to get a little color. Careful not to burn it.

  8. Stir in your bacon and serve! Enjoy!

Well done, Grasshopper. You are now wise in the way of Asian cuisine.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Cookbook o' the Month: Deceptively Delicious

Hi, my name is Casey and I'm a cookbook addict.

I have a gajillion cookbooks, and just recently, I realized that I rarely use any of them because there are so many darn recipes to choose from.

So I've decided to chose one new cookbook each month and cook my way through it, trying those recipes I had marked but never gotten around to trying.

This book o' the month for July is Deceptively Delicious by Jessica Seinfeld.




You know... THAT book that teaches you how to sneak veggies into your kids' food.

I've been using a few recipes from this book for a while, the pumpkin oatmeal and the banana bread... but there are lots of recipes I haven't gotten around to trying yet.
I kicked off this cookbook hootenanny by making Jessica's "Aloha Chicken Kebabs," which feature sweet potato, coconut and pineapple under their crunchy exterior.

The result was pretty tasty. I'd give it a 8 out of 10. The good news is: the kids ate it! So I got plenty of veggies and fruit into them just by feeding them chicken nuggets!

I think they would be even better with a little sweet-n-sour dipping sauce on the side. I will definitely make them again. They are going in the arsenal.

Other recipes I plan on trying:
  • French Toast with Pumpkin, Squash or Sweet Potato

  • Applesauce Muffins with Carrot

  • Pancakes with Sweet Potato

  • Coffee Cake with Butternut Squash

  • Fruit Punch with Raspberries, Pineapple and Carrot

  • Yellow Cake with Pumpkin

  • Frozen Yogurt Pops

  • Sloppy Joe's with Sweet Potato and Carrot

  • Tortilla "Cigars" (like Taquitos) with Yellow Squash and Carrot

  • Brownies with Carrot and Spinach (everyone says they are amazing, so I've just gotta try it!)

Well, I better get cooking!

I'll be sure to report back with my findings!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Death by Bennett: An Epidemic

Just came across this video a few days ago, and I died a thousand deaths while watching it.

When my son is so precious it nearly kills me, I like to call it "Death by Bennett." This video is a prime example.

video

How did my boy possibly grow up so fast before my very eyes?

I love him so much, it hurts. He just can't grow up any more. I will not allow it.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rainy Day Activity: Painting with Cars!



Okay, so first of all... WHAT IS UP with all this dreary, Edgar Allen Poe weather we've been having the past couple of weeks?

It's July! I want to be outside sipping an iced coffee while my kids run through the sprinklers... NOT wiping runny noses, eating soup and baking bread in my sweat pants!

Okay, end of rant.

Since Mother Nature has thrown us such a curve ball this week, my kids have been getting pretty stir crazy. So yesterday morning we decided to make our own messy fun.

Here's what we did:
I taped butcher paper to the kitchen table and set out some finger paint on a paper plate. I had Bennett pick out a few of his hot wheels...


Then I let him have at it, dipping the cars in the paint and then driving them all over the paper.
He loved it!
Then afterwards, I let Bennett give his cars a "bath" in the kitchen sink to get all the paint off.
...with lots of bubbles, of course. This is a fun activity in and of itself: fill the sink up with soapy water and let 'em go to town.

Oh to be a child and take such delight in such simple things.
And remember... it's the spontaneous, crazy, silly, messy activities that your kids will remember years from now. I still remember the time when my sweet Mom let my friends and I go CRAZY with confetti for one of my birthday parties. It was so fun. I know it took her HOURS to clean it up... but it's a memory I will have forever.

If you are mess-phobic, just keep telling yourself: It's just a mess. It can be cleaned up. The memories I am making are worth it.


Throw caution to the wind and have some fun!

Blogspiration: Batch Cooking

I was really inspired by this post on batch cooking over at Simple Bites.
So far I've tried the pesto recipe and the fruit crisp topping, which both turned out great!

Here are my fruit-crisp-topping jars, ready to freeze.


To make things easier, I just went ahead and labeled the jar tops with the baking instructions so I didn't have to look it up every time.


I also made an apple crisp with the topping right away. You know me, I can't wait.

Here it is:

To prepare it, I took 6 granny smith apples (peeled, cored and sliced) and threw 'em in a 13x9 pan with a handful of brown sugar, a squeezer of lemon juice (half a lemon), a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of grated nutmeg.

Then I plopped my fruit crisp topping on top and baked it for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. Easy!

Friday, July 2, 2010

I Did It My Way: Macaroons


DISCLAIMER: If you don't like coconut, you cannot be my friend anymore.
END OF DISCLAIMER

Today I will be sharing one of my favorite go-to cookie recipes: Coconut-Almond Macaroons!
They are delicious beyond belief, only require a few ingredients and are so easy to make.

Let's create a little piece of Aloha, shall we?

Coconut Almond Macaroons
adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe

1/3 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut (NOT shredded! This is of monumental importance.)
1/4 cup blanched, slivered almonds
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Directions

  1. Coarsely grind the almonds in a blender or food processor. Don't go too hog-wild, though. You want a few good chunks of almond in there.
  2. Transfer to a bowl, and add the remaining ingredients. Stir well to combine.
  3. Divide the mixture into 8 equal portions, and roll into balls.
  4. Place the cookies on a baking sheet lined with a nonstick baking mat (silpat) or parchment paper. NOTE: Normally, I say whatever! (insert valley-girl voice here) to these kinds of instructions, but in this case you really do need to do it. This can be a sticky cookie!
  5. Bake macaroons until golden-brown on tops and edges, about 10-12 minutes. You want these suckers to be chewy, so don't overdo it!
  6. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes.
  7. Devour.

ANOTHER NOTE: I usually double or triple the batch, because, come on... 8 cookies? What is this, Nazi Germany? Who makes just 8 cookies?

A FINAL NOTE: The picture at the top of the post is Martha's, not mine. Sorry... my cookies aren't around long enough to pose for pictures. Mine look the same, just with worse lighting.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Faux-Sew Project: Hand Towel Beach Bags

We recently went on a wonderful vacay with McPreachy's family, the Mc-In-laws! We stayed at a beach house near Santa Barbara, and it really was heavenly.

I decided I wanted to make something fun for Bennett, Mallory and their cousins for the trip. I made these Hand Towel beach bags, and they turned out sew cute.

Get it?

Anyway, I call this a "Faux-Sew" Project because you do not need to possess any sewing skills whatsoever to make it. I am qualified to make this claim because:

a. I have no sewing skills whatsoever.

b. I made 4 of these bags quite successfully.

c. I snuck ten pounds worth of snacks into Toy Story 3 using one of said bags, and it didn't fall apart.

Here's Mallory's bag:


Here's Faith's bag (and Mallory's feet):



And here are the boys' bags. Aren't they darling?



Here are instructions on how to make them.


Supply List:

  • The towels and washcloths I used were from Target.

  • "Rope" for the handles was from Joanne's.
  • .
  • Embroidery thread and buttons were from Michael's.

I also prepared a few fun activities for the kids to do at the beach house. They turned out really cute. Here they are:

  1. We made this Watermelon Jello and it was SO cute, SO easy and SOOOOO delicious! Seriously, if you want a showstopper, make it!



  2. We also made these cute Octopus Crafts. The kids had fun gluing on the beads and google eyes.

  3. I also really wanted to make this "Sand-Cast Bass" craft, but we just didn't have time... I'm still planning on doing it sometime this summer... so if you're in the neighborhood, come on over and make a Bass with us!

Which reminds me...

"I caught you a delicious bass."

Name that movie.