Saturday, November 24, 2012

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

I absolutely LOVE Chinese food. If given a choice of cuisine, it's usually one of my top picks. Maybe from growing up in Seattle? I don't know. I haven't played around with cooking too much of it on my own (even though a few years ago I did invest in a pretty heavy duty Chinese cookbook). I was excited when I saw this recipe in October's Cooking Light because Kung Pao Chicken is one of our favorite Chinese take-out dishes. Since it has a little kick to it I decided to make it for a date night dinner for the husband and me since my kiddos don't like spicy.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos
Source: Cooking Light magazine, October 2012

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces
3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 cup plus 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, divided
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons canola oil, divided
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tablespoons coarsely chopped dry-roasted peanuts
3/4 cup diagonally sliced celery (about 2 stalks)
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 lime wedges

1. Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag. Add 1 tablespoon soy sauce to bag; seal. Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade. Place 1/4 cup cornstarch in a shallow dish. Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt. Add chicken to cornstarch in dish, and toss chicken to thoroughly coat. Shake off excess cornstarch.

2. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add half of coated chicken; sauté for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown. Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels. Repeat the procedure with remaining 1 tablespoon canola oil and coated chicken.

3. Combine remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch, remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, honey, and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth. Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice. Stir in garlic. Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.

4. Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently. Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas. Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips; serve with lime wedges.


I used chicken breasts instead of thighs because it's what I had on hand. That was my only change, though. We LOVED the taste of the chicken, but we did not like it in the tortillas. I had even bought fresh corn tortillas from a nearby Hispanic market, and we just didn't like it in the tortillas. The actual Kung Pao Chicken was FANTASTIC. There were no leftovers--we devoured every single bite, it was that good. This is definitely something I'll be making again, but I'll skip the tortillas in the future!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Coconut Chicken Satay

My baby boy turns four tomorrow. I just cannot believe it. I say it every year, but I really just can't believe it. I've been running around like a madwoman for the past few weeks getting stuff ready for his party that we had yesterday. I don't know how I always end up busy lately. My brother and his girlfriend are in town for the weekend, and they went on a hike this morning, the husband took Boy #1 out for some quality daddy time, so it's just Boy #2 and me hanging out while he plays with his loot of toys from his friends yesterday. So I thought it was a perfect time to work on my blog.

I know I'm so far behind (hey, but at least I won't go a whole month without posting!), so I will work my way backwards I guess. Mostly because the most recent new recipe I tried was awesome and worthy of sharing.

Boy #2's preschool teacher emailed me recently that she'd stumbled across my blog and wanted to let me know about a website she loves, 100 Days of Real Food. I had seen it before, but I had forgotten about it and certainly didn't have it in my food blog rotation that I usually check when I'm looking for new ideas. So I decided to see what all I could find on there. Turns out there was a ton, and I think after Thanksgiving we are going to start with the 10 day challenge and see how it goes. Shouldn't be too hard because we already don't eat many processed foods, but I'm excited for the challenge to see what more we can give up. This was one of the meals I chose from it for last week's meal plan.

Coconut Chicken Satay
Source: 100 Days of Real Food website

1 lb chicken breasts, preferably locally and/or organically raised
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup unsweetened whole coconut milk
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon fresh-squeezed lime juice
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
3 cloves garlic
1/2 fresh jalapeno, seeds & stem removed (use the other half to make some overnight refried beans…yum!)
1/8 teaspoon chili powder
1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut, lightly toasted (note: coconut can burn quickly and needs to be stirred/checked frequently while toasting…we do ours in the toaster oven for no more than 2 or 3 minutes)
Also need: skewers and foil lined baking sheet

Preheat the oven broiler on high. Soak skewers in water if you don’t want them to cook/burn in the oven.

Cut the chicken breasts into strips and thread them onto about a dozen skewers. Place the prepared skewers on a foil-lined baking sheet and set aside.

In a food processor or blender puree the peanut butter, coconut milk, lime juice, vinegar, honey, garlic, jalapeno, and chili powder together. Remove 1/4 cup of the peanut mixture and drizzle/brush it over the raw chicken skewers.

Place chicken under the broiler to cook. After 4 – 5 minutes take the baking sheet out, turn the skewers over, drizzle another 1/4 cup peanut sauce on top, and cook for 4 or 5 more minutes or until cooked all the way through.

Once the chicken is done take it out, drizzle on the remaining peanut sauce (or serve it as extra dipping sauce on the side), and sprinkle the toasted coconut on top. Serve warm and enjoy!


We had this on a Wednesday night, which is when we lead a Bible study group for our church. I ended up getting a late start on it, so I didn't get to eat with my family because I had to go pick up our babysitter. The husband texted me that it was fantastic and they all loved it. I ate it when I got home, and it was super tasty! It was really easy to do and came together fast, which was great. I think my boys enjoyed the novelty of eating dinner off a stick. I skipped the jalapeno in the sauce because my kids don't like spicy, and I thought it still had good flavor without that. I did add a little extra chili powder to compensate for the missing jalapeno. I ended up having another skewer as a snack the next day. This is definitely going into my meal rotation since it was a hit with all of us!

Oh, I should note that I had an awful time finding unsweetened coconut. I finally found it at Fry's, which is a Kroger grocery store for those of you out of state, but it was tucked behind a display for something else. Sheesh. Hopefully you don't have such an awful time getting ahold of some!