Dinner Menu: Stir Fry Orange Chicken and Broccoli

It’s snowing here – well, raining at the moment, but snow by the evening. Never mind my garden is planted with tomatoes, three kinds of peppers, tomatillos, and zucchini, all raised in the house nursery over the past few months. Sigh.

It’s Colorado and we are always prepared for snow, so I’ve got everything ready to be covered and protected as the weather turns. Just not how I expected to spend the latter part of my week.

Cold weather puts me in the mood for some spicy favorites. This is from 2017:


orange-chicken-dinner

I’m not big on deep frying anything, but I love orange chicken so I wanted to find a way to make it so it was still crisp without all the oil and breading. I found the perfect ingredient to produce that result: potato starch. I’ve been using it for a while now and it makes the most perfect Oven Baked Chicken – I’ve been substituting it for the bread crumbs, combining it with crushed rice chex – I’ll post an updated recipe on that technique this week.

I thought it might have the same effect on pan frying chicken pieces. It did. Crispy, light and flavorful. Of course top anything with enough orange sauce and I’m there.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pan-Fried Orange Chicken
  2. Rice or Rice Noodles
  3. Steamed Broccoli

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Dinner Menu: Baked Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato-Basil Sauce

This is an elegant dinner that looks like it took you all day to prepare.  From start to finish I cooked the asparagus and gnocchi in 1/2 hour.  The strawberry bread takes an hour to cook, but it’s a breeze to put together.  So if you feel the need for something special, but still easy, this one could be for you.

On the board tonight:

  1. Baked Ricotta Gnocchi
  2. Broiled Asparagus
  3. Loaf of good crusty bread
  4. Strawberry Bread

Years ago, Christmas Eve is spent eating good food at friends’ Mark and Larissa’s house. Mark’s mom is from Italy and Larissa’s mom is from Japan, and luckily for me, the subject always turns to food from both countries. This year we talked about ravioli, gnocchi and fish in salt domes. I have to confess I’m not a fan of gnocchi. Should be good, right? – potato goodness, covered in sauce. What’s not to love? It just isn’t a favorite of mine. Maybe because I’ve never had it fresh I am missing out. But after we discussed how to make it fresh, well, I don’t think I’d be making it anytime soon. Then I saw a recipe for Ricotta Gnocchi and it sounded good and best of all, easy.  So I’d thought I’d try it. This is what I came up with and it quickly became a favorite of my guests.

Baked Ricotta Gnocchi in Fire Roasted Tomato and Basil Sauce

Sauce:

  • 28 oz fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp crushed garlic
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tsp dried oregano (or 1 tbsp fresh chopped)

Add ingredients in saucepan, bring to a low boil, reduce to low and let simmer while preparing gnocchi. Continue reading

Grinders: Meatballs and Sauce Revisited

When I was back visiting my dad, I made him a few meals, including meatballs in sauce. I left him the fixin’s for meatball subs (called grinders when I was a kid).

I didn’t realize how much making meatballs and subs was wrapped up in memories of my mom, until I re-read my original post. From 2013:

Meatball Subs1

A few weeks back I made meatball grinders – subs to most people – and was talking to my mom about them, because after all I used her recipe. She told me that one of her favorite things to do is to buy ground beef when it’s on sale and make and freeze a whole bunch of meatballs. Then they are available to make all kinds of good stuff, like meatball soup and various meatball sandwiches.

Until that moment, I hadn’t given meatballs much thought. I mean they’re good, but beyond the occasional grinder, I didn’t really use them.  But now when I make them, I make extra so add to soups, sauces and subs.

I’ll post a basic meatball recipe below and include the grinder/sub recipe. They are just as good with pasta.  At the bottom of this post is a link to vegetarian meatballs if you’d like to go meatless.

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Happy Easter! How About Some Coconut Lemon Cake?

Easter and spring just call out for this cake:

I can’t seem to make this without using every bowl and utensil in the kitchen. But it’s worth it.

Here’s the original recipe.

I made a few changes.

For the cake, I substituted coconut oil for both the oil and butter. When I originally made the cake, I didn’t keep coconut oil in the house, now it’s a staple. This upped the coconut flavor in the cake itself.

For the lemon curd, I flipped the water/lemon juice amounts. Using 1 cup of lemon juice and only 1/2 cup water. This upped the tartness substantially, so be prepared!

For the layers – this time I cut down from 4 to 3, using pie pans for the cake pans. This made for a much sturdier cake without losing any of the flavor – especially with the super tart curd.

Nom-nom. I really could have eaten the entire cake myself.

Instant Pot Corned Beef

I wasn’t going to make corned beef this year – I’m a so-so fan of it.  I really have to be in the mood. But I found a great deal on a premium corned beef, so I impulsively purchased it.

I decided to up my game a bit and use my mom’s version, where she used to finish it in the oven with a nice glaze. It was definitely worth the effort.

I decided I would also make it an instant pot version – which is very similar to my stovetop pressure cooker recipe. Continue reading

Instant Pot: Perfect Pot Roast

Sunday Pot Roast

Revisiting this recipe because it’s been ridiculously cold this week and I’ve about had it with ducks being inside and puppies crazed because they aren’t getting enough outdoor time. So this and French Bread are all that’s holding me together.

From 2020:

In my quest to update some of my older recipes for Instant Pot style cooking, here is one of my favorites. I love being able to set this up and an hour and a half later have a perfectly cooked pot roast – tender and flavorful – along with all the sides.

Sunday Pot Roast On A Weeknight 

  • 4 lbs Pot Roast (chuck roast)
  • ¼  cup good whiskey (or red wine)
  • ¼ cup beef broth or water (more if needed)
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • 2 bay leaves (remove before serving)
  • ½ tsp salt & pepper
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 6 medium potatoes, quartered
  • 1 lb bag baby carrots

slow-cooker or Instant Pot Continue reading

Dinner Menu: Buffalo Chicken Bites and Garlic Mashed Potatoes

For the Super Bowl this year, we kept it simple: pizza, super nachos and ice cream. I toyed with making wings, but in the end, it seemed like too much work after a very long week.

But I found myself craving Buffalo chicken all week, so finally I cubed up a large chicken breast and made this super simple, yet flavorful dinner.

I served over shredded lettuce with ranch dressing, along with Instant Pot Garlic Mashed Potatoes, and of course, carrot and celery sticks.

Skillet Buffalo Chicken Bites

  • 1 lb boneless chicken breast, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • extra light olive oil
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1/4 tsp of each:
    • salt & pepper
    • garlic powder
    • cayenne pepper
    • adobo seasoning
  • buffalo wing sauce
  • bleu cheese or ranch dressing

skillet Continue reading

French Butter Cookies

I recently had to get a Costco membership – long, boring story – but it’s already paying off.  When I came home from Paris four years ago, my suitcase contained 10 packages of St. Michel Butter Cookies (Galettes). I was besotted.  Super buttery, flakey, not terribly sweet with just a touch of salt. Costco sells them by the very large tin.

I’ve been trying to recreate them ever since, but it’s difficult from memory. Now I have a tin of them, I stand a better chance. These come very, very close. Continue reading