Chicken Fried Rice

Fried rice really is one of those simply delicious dishes, isn’t it? I don’t make it very often, but it is so easy to do and so tasty!! This “better than takeout” chicken fried rice comes from The Recipe Critic and it did not fail me at all.

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It calls for just a few ingredients that aren’t expensive and are easy to find, which is always a bonus. I used minimal peas in this, because my husband is not a fan, but I used tons of fresh green onion from my garden!

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This is a quick meal to throw together, so it is pretty good for any night of the week. It can be even faster if the chicken is already cooked. I have also been told that it is best to use day-old rice for fried rice dishes, so the bulk of this could be made in advance, which definitely saves time as well. Enjoy!

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Chicken Fried Rice

serves about 6

Ingredients:
-1lb chicken, about 2-3 chicken breasts, cooked and shredded/cubed
-3cu cooked rice
-2tbsp sesame oil
-1 small white onion, chopped
-1cu frozen peas and carrots, thawed
-2-3tbsp soy sauce (more or less to taste)
-2 eggs, lightly beaten
-2tbsp chopped green onions
Directions:
-Cook and shred the chicken (you can cook the chicken in this sauce also by The Recipe Critic, which I did, and it was fabulous!).
-Preheat a large skillet or wok to medium heat, then pour sesame oil in the bottom. Add white onion and peas and carrots and fry until tender.
-Slide everything to the side of the wok, and pour the beaten eggs onto the open space. Scramble the eggs with a spatula, and one cooked, add everything back together.
-Add the rice and chicken to the veggie and egg mixture, then pour the soy sauce on top. Stir fry everything together, then add the chopped green onion on top.

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Orange Chicken

Well…here I am. It’s only been, what, a month? Two months? I’ve been off in jam-land (check out my site here if you are interested in some nail swag!), as well as just dealing with the overwhelmingness of life, that my blog has slid to the back burner (no pun intended).

In any case, I will focus on the fact that I am here, not on how long I’ve been gone! BTW I went to two weddings last weekend and ate some pretty delicious food. The first one included paella, chicken skewers with an amazing red pepper sauce, and a delightful arugula salad, and the second one was catered by the Olive Garden! However, moving right along to this orange chicken from A Year of Slow Cooking…I made this several weeks ago when my good friend Kim came over for dinner. I totally adjusted the recipe though. First of all, I didn’t use my slow cooker. That was my main adjustment. I did it on the stove instead and it worked beautifully! Also – the orange taste was so strong in this dish, much moreso than previous times, when I’ve used actual oranges. I don’t drink orange juice, much less from concentrate, so it didn’t occur to me that the concentrated orange juice would really amp up the flavour here, but it did.

This was also the evening that I decided I needed a rice cooker, stat. Brown rice is pretty much all I buy, and pretty much IMPOSSIBLE for me to cook on the stove. I have followed the directions exactly, I have adapted them every which way…and nothing helps. After making up a batch of pure nastiness, I scoured my cupboards for some orzo.

Note: I’ve adjusted the following recipe due to my changes, but feel free to check out the original blog for the slow cooker version!

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Orange Chicken

serves 3-4

Ingredients
-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
-1/4-1/2cu flour
-olive oil
-6oz (1/2 can) frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed (no pulp)
-3tbsp brown sugar
-1tsp balsamic vinegar
-3tbsp ketchup

Directions
-Dredge the chicken pieces with the flour, and shake off the excess.
-Heat olive oil in a large skillet on the stove and brown the chicken on all sides.
-In between checking on the chicken, combine the orange juice concentrate, brown sugar, balsamic vinegar, and ketchup and taste for flavour.
-Pour the sauce mixture over the chicken and let it all heat through.
-Serve with rice…or in my case…orzo.

Orange Beef and Barley Pilaf (Weight Watchers)

I realize, once again, that it has been SOOOOO long since I have posted on this blog! This time, I have the busy-ness of life, as well as starting my own business to thank! I fell in love with Jamberry Nail Wraps so much that I decided to start selling them – check out my site for Never the Same Jams here. Nails and cooking – my two therapies. Bonus: I don’t have to worry about chipping polish when I’m peeling garlic or onions. 😉

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Several weeks ago (maybe months?) I made this delicious WW-inspired orange beef and barley pilaf from food.com! It was pretty simple and tasty. The pilaf, I must admit, was my favourite part. I don’t use barley very often (aka ever), but I had some left over from a beef and barley stew I made awhile back, and it is a nice change-up from rice, pasta, and quinoa.

I wish I could remember more about this dish, but I didn’t really change or edit much, though I might have added in more spices or sauces to amp up the flavour (I’ve found that some WW recipes unnecessarily skimp on flavour). Enjoy!

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Orange Beef and Barley Pilaf

serves 2-4

Ingredients:
For the beef
-3 scallions, sliced
-2 garlic cloves, minced
-1tbsp peeled fresh ginger, minced
-1tbps grated orange zest
-1lb boneless sirloin steak, trimmed and cut into matchstick-thin strips
-10oz fresh sugar snap or snow peas and baby carrots
-2tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
-2tbsp orange juice
-1tsp cornstarch
-1tbsp cold water
For the barley
-1cu broth
-2⁄3cu quick-cooking barley
-2cu sliced mushrooms
-1tbsp low sodium soy sauce

Directions:
For the beef
-Spray a large nonstick wok or skillet with nonstick spray and set over high heat. When a drop of water sizzles on it, add the scallions, garlic, ginger, and orange zest. Stir-fry until the scallions soften, about 1 minute.
-Add the beef and stir-fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Then add the sugar snap peas and baby carrots, and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and orange juice, then bring to a simmer and cook for about 20 seconds.
-Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch and water in a small bowl until smooth. Add the cornstarch mixture to the wok and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened, 30 seconds (at this point, I felt this was a little unnecessary, as it wasn’t overly thick to begin with, but use your best judgment).
For the barley
-Bring broth to a boil in a saucepan, then add quick-cooking barley. Simmer, covered, for about 12 minutes (my barley was not quick-cooking, so I had to adjust my cooking time).
-Spray a skillet with nonstick spray and set over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook until tender (you can do this without mushrooms – I just used whole ones, for my husband, but I picked them off my dish). Add the barley and soy sauce. Then serve.

Crispy Beef

Yesterday, my good friend Alysha and I had a cookie baking extravaganza! It was so fun to get together and just bake cookies…for 3.5 hours straight! Normally, if I bake cookies, it’s just basic stuff, but we really went all out yesterday. Pretty soon I’ll have the full cookie baking blog post up, but until then, you can enjoy one of the pictures below, of her kitchen.
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In the meantime, I felt like posting a somewhat “lighter” recipe (since I’ve been posting really heavy dishes lately), but this amazingly delicious crispy beef from Table for Two also calls for quite a bit of oil, so it’s not healthier really, but it is lighter than the mac’n’cheese type recipes of late.
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Cookie baking extravaganza

In any case, it was so delicious! Freezing the beef prior to cooking was such an interesting tip (and maybe commonplace, but I’d never done it before!). I think it really helped the crispiness. Usually when I make and bread beef, chicken, or anything else, the breading slips off, or it’s not the desired crispiness, and so forth – but not this! This was so flavourful, crispy, and just plain wonderful. It was great to pair with brown rice and green beans. Yummm.

One side note: the original recipe calls to essentially deep fry the beef. I did not feel comfortable using quite that much oil, so I pan-seared mine, partially covered in oil, instead of full deep frying. I still used about one cup of oil, maybe a bit more – but far, far from the 4 cups that the original recipe calls for.
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Crispy Beef

serves 4

Ingredients:
-1.5lbs stir fry steak or sirloin steak, cut into thin slices
-3tbsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
-6tbsp cornstarch
-1 medium-sized navel orange
-3tbsp molasses (I didn’t have any, so I just used dark brown sugar)
-1tbsp rice vinegar
-1.5tsp sesame oil
-1 jalapeño, de-seeded and thinly sliced
-3 garlic cloves, minced
-1tsp freshly grated ginger (or substitute 1/2tsp ground ginger)
-1/2tsp red pepper flakes
-2 scallions, chopped (for garnish)
-4 cups or 1 quart of canola oil, for frying (I used about 1-2cu, since I didn’t fully deep fry my beef)

Directions:
-In a large bowl, toss beef strips with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, then sprinkle cornstarch on top and toss to coat evenly. Place coated beef on a wire rack on top of a baking sheet and place into freezer for 45 minutes (I just used a plate since I don’t have a wire rack). **You’ll need to do this because the freezer will dry out the surface moisture of the beef, thus helping with the crispiness of the beef.
-In the meantime, peel the outer zest of the orange into long strips, and then continue slicing, to make thinner strips. Then juice the orange as best you can, to get at least 1/4 of a cup of juice.
-Place the orange zest strips, orange juice, the remaining 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, molasses, rice vinegar, sesame oil, jalapeño slices, garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a medium bowl and whisk it to combine.
-When ready, heat up canola oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot, such as a dutch-oven, to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (uh…I didn’t check the temp, I just guesstimated). Set up a large plate lined with two layers of paper towels, to have ready when the beef is done.
-Once the pot is hot enough, add the beef to it. Depending on how much you have and the size of your pan, you may need to do this in batches.
-Fry the beef until done, and they are golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon or spatula, and let them rest (and drain) on the paper towel-lined plates.
-In a large skillet over medium high heat, add the soy sauce mixture with the orange zest strips to the pan. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cook for about 3 minutes. Remove it from heat, then toss the beef strips in to coat evenly.

Chinese Orange Chicken

Thank goodness it is almost the weekend!!  Can I get an “amen” on that??  Seriously. 😉

For your Friday afternoon viewing pleasure, I have a super simple orange chicken recipe by Damn Delicious.  I have been cooking a TON of stuff from that blog lately – it is so fresh, simple, minimal, and easy!  Oh, and not to mention…delicious.

This chicken does require some marinade time…I marinated it overnight, but the minimum marinade time is at least 30 minutes. 
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Chinese Orange Chicken

serves 4

Ingredients:
For the chicken
-1lb boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch chunks
-1cu and 2tbsp cornstarch, divided
-2 large eggs, beaten
-1cu vegetable oil
-1/2tsp sesame seeds
-1 green onion, thinly sliced
For the marinade
-1cu chicken broth
-1/2cu freshly squeezed orange juice
-1/2cu sugar
-1/3cu distilled white vinegar
-1/4cu soy sauce
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1tbsp orange zest
-1tsp Sriracha sauce, or more, to taste
-1/4tsp ground ginger
-1/4tsp white pepper

Directions:
-To make the marinade, whisk together chicken broth, orange juice, sugar, vinegar, soy sauce, garlic, orange zest, Sriracha, ginger and white pepper in a large bowl.
-In a gallon size Ziploc bag or large bowl, combine chicken and 2/3 cup of the marinade; marinate for at least 30 minutes (overnight, if you can!), turning the bag occasionally. Cover and refrigerate the rest of the marinade.
-Once you’re ready to cook, drain the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade.
-Heat remaining marinade in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir in 2 tablespoons cornstarch combined with 2 tablespoons water. Cook, stirring frequently, until thickened about 1-2 minutes, then keep warm.
-Dip the chicken into the eggs, then dredge in remaining 1 cup cornstarch, pressing to coat.
-Heat vegetable oil in a large saucepan or wok. Add chicken and fry until golden brown and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes. If you’re working in batches, transfer chicken to a paper towel-lined plate, to soak up the excess oil.
-Serve chicken immediately, tossed or drizzled with the marinade, garnished with sesame seeds and green onion, if desired.

Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

Sometimes you just want something yummy and easy…but not too easy.  This barbecue chicken sandwiches in the slow cooker recipe by Eat at Home is just that!  It requires just a touch of prep time the morning of (or night before), but then you walk into your home after a hard day at work and dinner is ready (minus a few minutes for bun-toasting).  If you really are looking for something yummy and super easy, then you can just as easily throw chicken with just some barbecue sauce (Sweet Baby Ray’s, anyone?) in the slow cooker.  But this recipe does add a little something extra, with the extra spices, onion, etc….just a little more “oomph” as they say.

Also – it is a great way to use up some of the liquid smoke I bought awhile back for other recipes, that I’ve hardly touched since!  Also, if you are worried, liquid smoke is only $2 a bottle, depending on where you go.  I’ve still only used it a few times and I’m honestly not sure what it adds, but it must add something!

Side note: the original recipe calls for 3lbs of chicken (which serves 10-12 people). I only used two chicken breasts, which serves 2-4, depending on appetites, and I adjusted the other ingredients accordingly. Feel free to click between my blog and the original blog, to get the ingredients right for the amount you have!
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Slow Cooker Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches

serves 2-4 

Ingredients:
-2 chicken breasts
-1/2 onion, diced
-1cu of any combo of ketchup or any kind of barbecue sauce
-4oz taco sauce (original blogger notes: not salsa!)
-1tbsp brown sugar
-1/2tbsp dry mustard
-1tbsp vinegar (I think I used red wine vinegar – but you can use whatever you have)
-1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
-3/4tsp oregano
-3/4tsp garlic powder
-1tsp liquid smoke

Directions:
-Toss all the ingredients into the slow cooker. Stirring is not necessary, but I did.
-Cook on high for 5-6 hours or low for 7-8.
-Shred the meat and stir it until well-combined. Serve on buns – or even in pitas, tortillas, or if you’re light on carbs, over a salad!

PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef (Copycat)

A quick and easy recipe is a great thing to have – if you’re short on time, short on energy, or even if you have tons of time! 😉  This PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef copycat recipe from Damn Delicious is exactly that!  I have found Damn Delicious to be one of my newest cooking blog addictions – the recipes are typically pretty simple with minimal ingredients.
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Moving right along – there is not really much to say about it, as it’s pretty straight foward!  I have to admit, though, that while I loooooove PF Chang’s, I have not been there in years, so I am not sure if it’s a true copycat.  Also, I added some green beans for a vegetable.

Enjoy!
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PF Chang’s Mongolian Beef (Copycat)

serves 4

Ingredients:
For the steak-1lb flank steak, thinly sliced across the grain
-1/4cu cornstarch
-1/2cu vegetable oil (I used as little as possible)
-2 green onions, thinly sliced
For the sauce
-1/2cu soy sauce
-1/2cu brown sugar, packed (I only used 1/4cu, though the original recipe did call for 1/2cu)
-3 cloves garlic, minced
-2tsp grated fresh ginger
-2tsp vegetable oil

Directions:
-In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, 2 teaspoons vegetable oil and 1/2 cup water.
-Heat the mixture in a medium saucepan until slightly thickened, about 5-10 minutes; set aside.
-In a large bowl, combine flank steak and cornstarch.
-Heat 1/2 cup vegetable oil in a large saucepan. Add beef and fry until browned and cooked through, about 1-2 minutes.
-Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and discard excess oil.
-Add beef and soy sauce mixture to the saucepan over medium heat and cook until sauce thickens, about 2-3 minutes. Stir in green onions.
-Serve immediately.