Thursday, March 22, 2012

EASY-PEASY RECIPE: Honey-Soy Chicken

Secret recipes are a big pet peeve of mine. I hate when someone tells you a recipe, and you try to recreate it, and it so obvious that they've conveniently "forgotten" a key ingredient. It's like they're thinking, "If they know how to make my oatmeal cookies, what reason will they have to invite me to parties?!"

I have no secrets in the kitchen. Which is why I was a little peeved when I pulled this recipe from my Pinterest board today and noticed something was....a little off. Looks delicious, right? But what are the red things? The recipe doesn't call for anything red. What are you trying to do to me?!

As it turns out, I didn't have enough soy sauce so I had to tweak it a bit anyway.

Secret recipe for the veggies: Bag of Steamfresh Asian Medley.

You'll need:

  • 1 lb. of boneless chicken strips
  • 2 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 1/2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • three shakes of cilantro flakes

Stir everything but the chicken in a bowl, then mix in the chicken. Funny story, I went to throw the chicken wrapper away and when I came back, I couldn't find my fork anywhere. It was gone. Gone! My husband always complains because I use, like, 42 pieces of silverware to make a single meal, but it's because I'm always misplacing the stuff I'm working with. As you can see from this photo, the fork was nowhere to be found.

Yeah. So anyway, stir it all around, let it hang out in the marinade for a few minutes, and then cook over low heat in a skillet.

I know, that picture really isn't helpful in any way. I'm pretty sure you already know how to put chicken in a skillet. I wasn't worried that you might stack all the chicken into a giant chicken-tower in the middle, or anything like that. It's just that once I get into picture-taking mode, I can't be stopped.

You'll notice there's no cilantro in the skillet. That's because I forgot it. So, it's up to you whether you add it to the marinade, or add it to the skillet. That's not a secret -- that's just good old-fashioned forgetfulness. (Wait, where did I put my fork?)

P.S. Bringing this dish to the linky party at Countertop Confections. What's a linky party? Beats me. But darned if I'm not going to show up!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

EASY-PEASY RECIPE: Tagine-Style Chickpeas with Couscous

Lately I've been recycling a few of my favorite recipes, which is a nice, euphemistic way of saying I've been stuck in a recipe rut. So when my husband forwarded me a tagine recipe from his boss, I was like, "Awesome!"

Okay, not really. I was like, "What the hell is a tagine? It calls for dates...what are dates?" Dates are one of those things I'd heard of but never knew exactly what they were. But armed with information from a few helpful readers, I set off on an epic quest to find dates.

Except it was 75 degrees that day, so when I failed to find them at the closest grocery store, I abandoned my quest (a.k.a. a trip to Whole Foods) and went to the park with the boys instead. So I decided to use raisins* as a substitute for now. (I think figs would make a bangin' substitute, too.)

I modified the original recipe to an unrecognizable degree because it was way complicated -- a lot of steps, a lot of stove-vigilance, a lot of unfamiliar ingredients. So this is my super-simple version.

You'll need:
  • one box of plain couscous
  • 15 oz. can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cans of chickpeas
  • 1 cup raisins, dates, figs, or dried apricots
  • 1 tsp. ground cilantro
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 1/8 cup water

Saute everything but the tomatoes and water in a little bit of olive oil, until the chickpeas start to look a little more cooked. Then add the tomatoes and water, and simmer for 5-10 minutes.

In a separate pot, cook the couscous according to the package instructions. I use instant couscous because it takes 10 minutes max, and I sprinkled a little salt and pepper in the water while it was setting.

Scoop it on and enjoy!

* Even though I hate raisins. Seriously, can someone explain their appeal? It takes nine years to chew them and even longer to wash the sticky residue off your hands. They're like a natural alternative to industrial-strength wood glue. Still, I took one for the team.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How to Fake Your Way to Being a Facebook Foodie Mom

I literally just spent 10 minutes giggling at this magical little section of Nickelodeon's nickmom site. It almost -- almost -- makes me forgive them for bringing Max & Ruby into our household.

My personal fave was the most recent post, the Foodie Mom. Quick -- go read it and come back.

...riiiiight!? I think everyone has one or two or five of them in our social circle. And, um, I'm definitely NOT that mom in my circle.

Look! I made pastries!

My friend Brianne is one of those moms. Hopefully she's not offended by me putting her on shout. After all, her foodie-ness made her an excellent college roommate to have -- we were probably the only people on campus using our liter of Smirnoff to make penne alla vodka. Nowadays she runs her own little corner of the blogosphere called Cupcakes and Kale Chips, where she shares recipes like "parmesan balsamic-caramelized onion smashed potatoes." (I didn't make that up.) Most of her meals have, like, seven unique side dishes. Meanwhile, I pat myself on the back if I don't screw up beef stew. (Side dish?! I don't know, heat up one of those Steamfresh bags. What do I look like, a diner?)

As a result, her Facebook updates are usually along the lines of, "Just made the boys a filet mignon with a red wine reduction and a side of braised onto the honey-glazed pecan tartlets!" (I'm talking out of my ass here, so apologies if those aren't real food terms.) I usually read these posts while my kids are eating Goldfish crackers out of a Tupperware bowl. Look, I try to feed my kids healthy food as often as possible, but sometimes it's 12:15 and they're melting down and only McCain smiley-face fries will placate them.

So I figured I'd come up with a helpful little guide for making your Facebook food posts sound more impressive than they are. With a little bit of clever wording, you too can be a Facebook foodie!

  1. Skip the brand names. Cheerios become "toasted oats," Eggos become "buttermilk waffles," and Pizza Rolls become "mini-strombolis." 
  2. List ingredients. Add oomph by rattling off the (pronounceable) ingredients from the label. Today we'll be having pasta with tomato puree, cheddar, and paprika extract...or, y'know, Spaghetti-O's.
  3. Don't forget the details. Here's where it all comes together. Did you serve PBJ and potato chips? Or did you serve roasted peanut spread with grape jam on whole-grain bread with a side of thin-sliced potatoes fried in soybean oil?
See how easy?