Sunday, October 5, 2008

Homestyle Take-Out

I ended up making pizza on Friday night and General Tso's Chicken on Saturday. Why not just order out, you ask? I'll tell you why. It was healthy, easy, inexpensive, and guess what? They liked it! They really liked it!

DD had asked if we could go out to dinner on Friday. But in the interest of saving money (and because I knew everyone was kind of tired), I said, "Want to make pizza at home instead?" She was interested, so we made a very quick Whole Wheat Pizza Dough in the food processor (no kneading!) and we were halfway there. While she watched TV, I cooked some bacon (oven method... it's the BEST!) and emptied out the fridge in search of toppings. Wow. We had pizza sauce, barbecue sauce, lots of cheeses, cooked sliced chicken, roasted red peppers and turkey 'roni. I was too tired to caramelize some onions; maybe next time. After the dough rose, I divided it in half. One pizza for DD and I to split, another for the hubby (Teenage Son was not home).

Topping and baking was a snap, and we enjoyed really great pizza before 7 pm. DD pointed out it took 2 hours from start to finish, but an hour and 20 minutes was rising time, so I don't think that counts. As a testimonial to its' goodness, hubby ate the remaining slices for breakfast the next day. Mmmm.

Last night, I tried a recipe from this month's Everyday Food: "Lighter General Tso's Chicken." I modified the vegetables a bit to please the crowd. DD was my sous chef again, helping to stir up the chicken coating (cornstarch and egg whites) as well as the sauce, getting out ingredients, measuring and keeping me entertained with an endless stream of chatter.

Hubby was out, so it was just me and the kids eating. The verdict: Two of us liked the dinner; the third loved it. She's the one who likes bland food. I thought it was just OK. Next time, I will add something either salty, spicy or sweet to up the flavor a bit. But that won't stop me from eating the leftovers for lunch. Mmmm.

Editing on 2/20/09 to add, this was DELICOUS when I made it again last night. I really loved it this time, and so did all the kids who were here for dinner. YUM.

Lighter General Tso's Chicken
adapted from Everyday Food, Oct. 2008

1/4 cup cornstarch, divided
1 cup snow peas or sugar snap peas, washed, ends and strings removed
1 carrot, peeled and sliced
4 cloves garlic, sliced thin
2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
2 large egg whites
salt and pepper
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch pieces (or chicken tenderloins, cut into 1" pieces)
2 tablespoons canola oil

In a large bowl, stir together 1 T. cornstarch and 1/2 cup cold water until smooth. Add snow peas, carrot, garlic, ginger, sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes. Toss to combine and set aside.

In another bowl, whisk together egg whites and remaining 3 T. cornstarch. Add 1/4 t. salt and 1/4 t. pepper. Add sliced chicken; toss to coat.

Heat 1 T. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Lift half of the chicken from the egg white mixture, shaking off excess. Add to skillet. Cook, turning occasionally, until golden, about 6 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining oil and chicken, and set all chicken aside (reserve skillet).

Add snow pea mixture to skillet. Cover and cook until vegetables are tender and sauce has thickened, about 3 minutes. Add chicken and any juices back into skillet. Toss to coat and heat through. Serve over rice. Serves 4.

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