Wednesday, October 5, 2011

More Fake-out Take-out

Last winter, in an effort to cut back on our food budget, we ate out less. That meant no take-out either. At first, it was hard. But with a bit of research and effort, we are now at a place where we prefer to make our versions of our favorite take-out dishes rather than actually order them out.

We started with pizza and calzones. So good, and great family fun, too! Our son loved to get in on the action, helping to spread the sauce on the dough, sprinkle the cheese all over, and even find the perfect spot for that slice of pepperoni.

Once we had Italian take-out nailed down, I decided to try my hand at chinese. My first attempt was Lighter Sesame Noodles. Once I perfected that dish, I was ready to take on another one. I tend to order various chicken dishes from Chinese restaurants, so I decided to try my hand at sweet and sour chicken. The recipe I found looked nothing like take-out sweet and sour chicken. But it was from Cooking Light, and they had yet to steer me wrong, so I decided to give it a try.

Boy, am I glad I did!

Take-out sweet and sour chicken is no more my house! This recipe is so tasty, that whenever I'm craving Chinese, this is the dish I make. I serve it over boxed fried rice. If you're feeling ambitious you can make fried rice from scratch. Plain white or brown rice would work fine, too. Also, I highly recommend sprinkling the chopped cashews on top. Peanuts will work well in a pinch, but there's something about the cashews that's just really delicious, and the dish truly benefits from the texture and crunch from the nuts.

Sweet and Sour Chicken
Recipe from Cooking Light
Yield: 4 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon bottled minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon bottled ground fresh ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 3/4 cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 1 (15.25-ounce) can pineapple chunks in juice, undrained
  • 1/3 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup dry-roasted chopped cashews

  1. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add garlic, ginger, red pepper, and chicken to pan; saut&aecute; 5 minutes or until chicken is done. Remove chicken mixture from pan; set aside.
  2. Add onion, celery, and bell pepper to pan, and saut&aecute; 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain pineapple, reserving 1/2 cup juice. Add 1 cup pineapple chunks to pan; cook 30 seconds. Reserve remaining pineapple for another use. Combine the reserved 1/2 cup juice, soy sauce, sherry, cornstarch, and sugar in a bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.
  3. Return chicken mixture to pan. Stir in juice mixture; bring to boil. Cook 1 minute. Sprinkle with cashews.

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