Friday, November 28, 2014

General Tso's Chicken

Happy Day-After Thanksgiving!

Did you all have a great holiday? Eat lots of turkey? Watch lots of football? Spend a lot of time with family? Our family accomplished all of the above. There was a ton of food. No one went away from our dinner hungry, I'm 100% certain of that. 

The hubby and I have more family time on tap today, and in fact, another dinner tonight. Thanksgiving food is some of my favorite, so no complaints here! It's one of the only times every year I get to eat stuffing. I almost could be satisfied on Thanksgiving just having a giant bowl of mashed potatoes, stuffing, and gravy. Almost. Because there's always turkey, rolls, spaghetti salad, and pies galore to eat. Not to mention deviled eggs, stuffed mushrooms, and chips with dip. Yes, Thanksgiving is grand. 

With all that said, you might be tired of the "extravaganza" that food bloggers turn Thanksgiving into. If so, this recipe is for you!

When I saw this recipe over at Rasa Malaysia, I knew I had to try it. It'd been awhile since I'd made Chinese food, I was needing a fix. Plus, that picture she took! It makes the dish look drool-worthy. I had to have it. 

And have it, we did. This recipe is a winner, times a million! The chicken is perfectly crunchy and delicious when coated with such a savory, glazed sauce. I had to make a couple of substitutions due to availability of ingredients (I really did run all over town looking for dried chiles!), but everything worked out really well. Because I couldn't find dried chiles, I substituted red chile paste, and I don't think the dish was lacking in any heat from doing that. My rice wine is a combination of rice vinegar and dry white wine. You would think sake wouldn't be such a speciality item. 

I take that back. Here's what happened with the sake, and pretty much anytime I need to buy alcohol. The hubby and I live in a dry county. Say what?? It's not 1920! I bet a lot of you thought those didn't even exist anymore, I know I didn't before I came back here to visit for the first time. Luckily, Portsmouth, OH is wet and we are a 15 minute drive from there. But what if I don't feel like going into Portsmouth and I need some sort of alcohol? All of the other shopping centers near me don't sell any kind of alcohol. I'm serious! You can't even find red wine vinegar (yes, apparently an alcohol item!) at some of these stores. Another rule you have to deal with? You can't buy any hard alcohol or wine on Sundays, and I'm not just talking about the liquor store. I almost threw a hissy fit one Sunday three years ago when a cashier wouldn't let me buy cooking sherry. So, with conditions like these, I guess it shouldn't surprise me that no around here carries sake and that I was unable to find any after a complete tour of my surrounding counties. 

Have no fear, a combination of rice vinegar and white wine worked fabulously!

Well, I've talked to you all too much today already. I have to get off my duff, and go have breakfast with family. I hope everyone had a fantastic Thanksgiving, and has relaxing weekend. Most of you probably will, unless you're out Black Friday shopping right now. If so, good luck and may the odds be ever in your favor :)

Happy Friday!

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp dry white wine
1 tbsp rice vinegar
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup canola oil

3 tbsp soy sauce
2 1/2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tbsp dry white wine
1 1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp hoisin sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp canola oil
1-2 tbsp red chile paste
3 slices of fresh ginger, minced
2 garlic cloves
1 bunch scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

hot cooked rice


1. Make the chicken- In a small bowl, combine soy sauce through rice vinegar. Whisk to mix. Add chicken to bowl. Allow to marinate for 15 minutes. Heat oil over medium-high heat. Remove chicken from marinade, and completely coat with cornstarch. Fry chicken in hot oil until browned and crispy. Remove from oil with a slotted spoon, and place on paper towel covered plate to drain. Set aside. 
2. Make the sauce- Combine soy sauce through cornstarch in a small bowl. Whisk to throughly combine. Heat oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. When hot, add chile paste. Sauté for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add ginger, garlic, and scallions, and sauté for another minute. Add the soy sauce mixture to the skillet, and cook until thick (about 2-3 minutes). Add chicken to pan, and toss to coat.
3. Place hot rice in a bowl, and top with chicken mixture. Serve immediately!

Recipe adapted from Rasa Malaysia.

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Pumpkin Milkshake for 1

Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

While we are on the cusp of one of my most favorite holidays, I've got a simple, easy, and proportional treat. It's the perfect dessert for 1 person, and best of all, you can use any leftover pumpkin puree you have remaining from making pumpkin pies. I had about 3/4 cup of leftover pumpkin puree, and it ended up being the perfect amount for this milkshake. There's really nothing to this recipe, only 4 ingredients. Pumpkin puree, vanilla ice cream, a tiny amount of pumpkin pie ice, and because I'm a kid at heart, some chocolate sprinkles. 

In fact, because I was just making this for me, I didn't even bother to unearth the blender. I used my smoothie cup and my immersion blender. Perfect for a small amount of liquid and what felt like less cleaning. 

It occurred to me, as I'm sitting here typing, that I could have a blog specifically dedicated to desserts for one. Honestly, most of the desserts I make are desserts for one. The hubby and I aren't exactly dessert people, and I'm almost always more or less focused on what I'm making for dinner. But, later in the evening, I usually am rooting around the kitchen, looking for something sweet. I end up making cookies in mugs in the microwave, mini-cakes to inhale, or something cold and frosty, like milkshakes. In the case of this milkshake, my eyes passed over that container containing a smidge of leftover pumpkin. That was all she wrote. 

Can I tell you how much I'm loving pumpkin this fall? Well, it's a lot. A lot, a lot, a lot. Y'all are going to have to put up with pumpkin recipes well into December. I made Turkey Pumpkin Chili the other night, and it was so good. When I think of pumpkin, I always think of pumpkin pie. Or pumpkin spice lattes. Or this milkshake. Whatever the case, when I think pumpkin, I think of that spicy, sweet flavor. But that's only because we all love to add sugar to pumpkin. My chili had 2 cups of pumpkin puree in it, and let me tell you, it tasted nothing like pumpkin spice! :)

Trust me, when it comes to chili, that's a good thing!

As I mentioned at the beginning of my post, it's the day before Thanksgiving! I, unfortunately, have to pick up a few things at the grocery store. Argh. Not looking forward to that. After I brave the crowds, with their turkey-hazed, wild-eyed craziness, you can bet I'm not leaving the house. I have a Pecan Pie to bake today and Deviled Eggs to make. I've actually never made Deviled Eggs before, so something new for me. I'm a tad nervous about the Pecan Pie, pies are so temperamental. I did pick up a clear pie pan, so there's no chance I'm going to an under-baked crust :) Now all I have to worry about it is making sure the filling is not "soupy". It is supposed to be somewhat overcast today. Which makes me a little nervous of that old wives tale saying you should never bake Pecan Pie on an overcast day. Cross your fingers for me!

I hope everyone has fantastic, safe, and family-filled holiday tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving Eve!

Ingredients (makes 1 milkshake):

3/4 cup pumpkin puree
2 small scoops vanilla ice cream
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
optional: chocolate sprinkles


1. Combine pumpkin, ice cream, and pumpkin pie spice in a blender. Blend until smooth. Pour into a glass and top with chocolate sprinkles, if using. Serve immediately!

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Farfalle with Portobellos and Kale

We've all made it to the week of Thanksgiving! You know, that week where we're all constantly daydreaming about turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie... or maybe you're even prepping already. Whatever the case, this is the one week above all others where you probably don't want to spend a lot of time in the kitchen. Or maybe you don't want to eat heavy this week. Either way, this incredibly simple pasta dish is super fast and also fairly light. It's chock-full of yummy portobello mushrooms and kale. A light dusting of parmesan is all you need to top this dish off. Serve alongside a side salad, and you have a tasty, light dinner. Or serve it alongside your favorite protein for a heartier meal.

You all might already know I'm obsessed with pasta salad. I call it pasta salad, but you might as well call it what it is- cold pasta. This dish is no different. I've been eating the leftovers cold, straight from the fridge. And I'm partial to it! There's something about the texture of cold pasta that draws me in. Like Walkers to the sound of gunfire... 

Sorry, the hubby and I've been binging on "The Walking Dead". What can I say? :) 

If you do have leftovers after making this dish, my advice is to try it cold. You might like it. You might even love it.

As for serving it the first time, it is a hot dish. The kale and mushrooms are braised in a yummy butter-garlic-white wine sauce before combining everything with fresh cooked pasta. I used farfalle, but as I was making this, it occurred to me that this dish would also probably be a hit with orecchiette.  I think you could even sub in a curly pasta like rotini if you were so inclined. I just so happen to love those little bowties.

Without taking too much from a future "pie" post, I did manage to complete my pumpkin pie yesterday. My second batch of dough rolled out with only a few minor problems. Problems I have since researched and I think I can correct before I make my Pecan Pie for Thanksgiving. As I mentioned yesterday, I have plenty of "don't!"s to share with everyone. Soon!

Yesterday, the hubby and I attended our niece's very first cheerleading competition. Her team ended up getting 1st place in their division which means they get to move on to the state competition! She's only 6, which I think is pretty darn cool. If she keeps up with this, she's going to be very, very good by the time she reaches high school. The whole experience took me back to high school dance team. I only wish I'd started dancing when I was 6. I didn't start dancing until I made the dance team my sophomore year of high school. I can't imagine how much better I would have been if I'd started early. So I'm proud of her! I really hope she sticks with it, I realized yesterday I kind of miss going to these competitions. 

Well, I have a busy day on tap, sooooo.... Adios!

Have a great Monday everyone!

Ingredients (makes 4 generous portions):

8 ounces dried farfalle pasta
3 tbsp unsalted butter
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup dry white wine
1 1/2 cups portobello mushrooms, chopped (you could sub another type of mushroom!)
4 cups kale, chopped
1 tsp fresh thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp fresh cracked pepper
garnish: shredded parmesan cheese


1. Prepare pasta- cook pasta according to directions. Reserve 1/2 cup of pasta water. Drain pasta, and set aside. 
2. Heat butter in a large skillet over medium heat. When warm, add garlic. Sauté 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until garlic has begun to toast. Add wine to the pan. Allow wine to reduce to about half (2-3 minutes). 
3. Add mushrooms and spinach to the pan. Sauté until vegetables have begun to soften, about 5-6 minutes. Add pasta, thyme, salt, and pepper to the pan. Toss to combine. If pasta is too thick or seems too dry, add as much of reserved pasta water as desired. 
4. Divide pasta into bowls, and top with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately. 

Recipe adapted from
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Lately: November 2014

Happy Sunday from two warm and cuddly Chihuahuas! This is truly how these guys like to enjoy the weekends. Curled up in their favorite spots. Happy as little furry clams :)

I thought I would squeeze in a little weekend post here. I've been overflowing with food ideas lately, and haven't been thinking much about the in-between. But I do have a life outside that wonderful kitchen of mine. I read books in between batches of cookies. Scatter bird seed while concoctions are chilling. Or roasting. Or cooling. I run to get my creative juices flowing. I kind of wish there was an invention to dictate what goes on in my brain while I'm running, because I write some of my best stuff as my feet pound the pavement. A new techie idea perhaps? C'mon, doesn't anyone from Apple read my blog? Hehe. 

Anyhoo, it's been a great weekend thus far. The hubby actually had a 3 day weekend of Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We don't get these traditional weekends very often! We took full advantage last night by getting together with one of our couple friends. We watched the first half of the Oregon game (Go Ducks!) and sipped margaritas before heading out for Mexican food. There may have been a tad too much tequila last night, but eh, life is short. I'm currently hard at work on pie crust, my first batch yesterday having been a dud. Rest assured, by the time this pie is completed, I'll have lots of "don't's"! I made a new batch of dough that chilled overnight, so I'm soldiering forward today. Fingers crossed. 

I hope everyone is having a relaxing weekend so far. I've got a few pictures to share of what we've been up to lately-

Haloti curled up in the hubby's sweatshirt. If you leave clothing on the furniture, the Chihuahuas will find it. 

The affair continues. It's been going on for almost 4 years now. We are venturing into common-law marriage territory at this point. 

My beautiful new FoodSaver! It arrived last week and I am so thankful! I literally squealed with joy when the UPS guy left it at my house. Thank you Mom and Dad! There was no hesitation- Out went the old FoodSaver, and in its place went the new. Immediately after getting the new machine set up, I sat down to write my totally overdue big-box store grocery list. 

Ah, the fruits of my labor. I picked up loads of chicken, ciabatta rolls, and bacon in bulk to freeze at aforementioned big-box store. And what did I do as soon as I got home? Vacuumed-sealed it into 2-person portions. I cannot say it enough, I LOVE that machine. I cannot live without it. Love it. 

So, I've been using FoodSavers for 8 years now. I do have a common-law marriage with my FoodSaver! :)

I think this poor little dude flew into either the side of the house, or the living room window. I heard a soft thud, but not the hard thud that usually kills these kids. I went outside and looked on the ground, and didn't find anything. However, when I went to empty my compost buckets, I found him sitting on our large composters. And he didn't move. He did let me pick him up, though. I was having the hubby set up a nesting box on the front porch for him to recover in when he decided he'd rested enough, and he took off. 

I'm just glad he ended up being ok :)

The snow everyone was so worried about getting around our parts. Can you even see this dusting? Not especially. 

Contrary to popular belief, not everything I cook winds up on the blog. Sometimes the recipes are too awful. Sometimes, the recipes are too good, like this Garlic, Lemon, and Fresh Herb Stuffed Chicken.  This bird never made it onto the blog because the hubby and I devoured it. I mean, we really scarfed this one down. All before I took an after photograph. Oh well. A similar recipe may make it onto the blog someday. That is, if I can keep my hands off of it long enough. 

Cheese enchiladas that never made it on the blog. I'm still playing with my chile gravy recipe, and I don't get to play very often. The gravy on these ended up being too heavy, too thick, and too salty. The hubby is not the biggest enchilada lover, so I only get a shot at this one every couple of months. I hope I perfect this recipe in 2015, though. That will be one of my New Year's resolutions.

Asian Roasted Asparagus. What can I say? Also scarfed down without many pictures.

Broccoli and Chard Garlic Spaghetti. This recipe may still make it onto the blog, however I wasn't 100% satisfied with the pictures. It was delicious, don't get me wrong. It might take a repeat making with new pictures for me to publish it, though.

The hubby and I's favorite tequila we brought back from Mexico. I love this stuff! We broke it open last night for Oregon's last home game of the season. It must have been a good luck charm, because the Duck's pulled out the win! The hubby and I were happy campers. We were told by an employee at duty-free in the Cancun Airport that they only sell this tequila in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. He tried to talk us into buying a more expensive tequila that they only sell in Mexico, but we quickly informed him we didn't live anywhere near any big city and this was the bottle we wanted. I highly recommend trying this tequila if you ever see it anywhere. It makes the BEST margaritas.

Cue to the internet razing. Nickelback snuck a brand-new album out on Monday with absolutely no publicity. I had no idea they were even working on a new album. Some fan I am, right? Anyway, once I discovered their new album, I snapped it up. I've been listening to it on repeat. For days. Multiple times a day. I love running to this album. Most of the album has a really funky beat running though it and combined with Chad's voice, well, I've been tearing down miles. Well maybe not tearing them down, I did take a month off running. And lost a ton during that month. I really don't care that everyone hates Nickelback, I'm definitely not a person who follows the crowd anymore. That's one thing I love about getting older- the sheer inability to really care what other people think of your Nickelback addiction :) #iamunashamed

Here's my lazy morning. Finishing off one of my library books while loving my morning coffee. And pretty soon, I'll be rolling out my 2nd batch of pie crust dough. Oh man, oh man, I hope it's not crumbly!

I hope you all are having a lovely weekend! Ciao!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Creamy Chicken, White Bean, and Green Chile Soup

Today, I'm sharing one of my most favorite of soups with you guys. This recipe has been hanging around my kitchen for years. Since right around Day 1 of my food obsession. I've told y'all the story before- how I became super unhealthy in college, gaining 70 lbs from the day I graduated high school. Eating, and eating, and eating until I reached my rock bottom. Either go up another size in clothes or change my life. I chose to change my life and "Cooking Light" was where I started. In the beginning, I created a username at and began to save recipes under my username. I would spend hours trolling the website, looking for new recipes to add to my bucket list. This soup just happened to be one of the first recipes I tried in the those days. 

You can find this recipe on Cooking Light's website under the name "Witches Brew Chicken Soup". However, since it's long past Halloween, I decided to call this soup what it is rather than stick to the themed name. Besides, this soup is good all winter, not just in the fall. It's creamy. Flavorful. Delicious. And customizable with your choice of toppings!

One of my favorite parts about this soup is that it's made creamy by mashing a can of beans and mixing it with a little bit of milk and flour. You know, rather than thickening with a larger volume of flour, and then adding heavy cream. This soup is so creamy, you'd never know it was made that way by a healthy trick. 

I suggest serving the soup with a nice crusty bread. You'll want to sop up every last drop of this soup. 

Choosing this soup to feature today actually brought about a really fantastic blogging idea for me. There are so many wonderful recipes I've got hidden in my Cooking Light archives. I think it would be fun to dig out some of my most favorite recipes I haven't made in years and feature them on the blog. Of course, I think this may be a project of the new year. We'll see. I've got Pumpkin and Pecan pies to make this week, Pumpkin Brownie Bread and Cinnamon and Toffee Chip Cookies in the pipeline, and then... dun, dun, dun... It'll be time to feature Christmas Cookies. I held off pretty long on choosing this years cookie menu, mainly because I get so darn excited I want to start at that moment. And cookies get stale, so they aren't anything you can make early. So I waited, and waited. Until yesterday. Temptation took over, and I was on Pinterest like white on rice. It only took about 10 minutes before I'd picked out what I was going to make this year. Above all else, I make Snickerdoodles every year. They are tradition, and everyone looks forward to them. I'll also be repeating my Christmas Crunch Popcorn. Mainly because the hubby's family is addicted to it. The rest of my lineup will be as follows: Cake Batter Christmas Cookies, Peppermint Truffles, Peanut Butter Cup Bark, and Homemade Turtles. 

And there I go. All excited again. And there's still a couple of weeks before I get to start! Argh, the humanity!

Ok, I'm going to try to get excited to bake my pies. I'm making my first-ever pumpkin pie! I freshly roasted another pumpkin yesterday, and I have big plans. Big, BIG plans. Pumpkin Pie, Turkey Pumpkin Chili, and as I mentioned before, Pumpkin Brownie Bread. 

Yep. Excited again :)

You know what I'll be doing this weekend. I hope everyone else has a fantastic and safe weekend!

Ingredients (serves 6-7):

4 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
4 cups chicken broth
1 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp ground red pepper
2 (16 oz) cans great northern beans, rinsed and drained (divided)
1 (4.5 oz) can diced green chiles
2 tbsp flour
1/2 cup almond milk
2 cups cooked chicken, chopped or shredded (I used leftover meat from a chicken I roasted)
1/4 cup cilantro
toppings: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, sliced green onions (optional)


1. Add bacon to a large stockpot while cold. Place over medium high heat. Sauté bacon until crispy. Remove from pan with slotted spoon and place on paper towels to drain. Set aside, reserving the bacon grease. You only need about a tbsp, so you may want to discard some grease if you have more. 
2. Add onion and carrot to the bacon grease. Sauté for 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add garlic to pan, sauté for 30 seconds.
3. Add chicken broth, cumin, and ground red pepper to the pot. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1 can of beans and green chiles.
4. In a small bowl, mash remaining can of beans. In a separate small bowl, whisk together the flour and milk. Add milk mixture to the mashed beans. Stir to combine. Slowly, and stirring the soup continuously, add bean/milk mixture to the soup. Cook about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soup thickens. Add chicken and cilantro, and heat until chicken is hot (about 2-3 minutes).
5. Ladle soup into bowls and top with desired toppings, including reserved crumbled bacon. 

Recipe adapted from Cooking Light.
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