Sunday, April 29, 2012

Teriyaki Chicken with Noodles

When the hubby and I moved to my small hometown, we knew there would be a few trade-offs. At the top of the list are the hubby’s sisters, whom we don’t see as often as we’d like.
A distant second is running errands when the stores aren’t busy. It’s more difficult now to shop at 9:30 on a Wednesday night so I can actually look at the color of a lipstick before I buy it.
Lastly, we miss Chinese food delivery.

We didn’t do delivery frequently, but it was reassuring to know that it was always there. Spring-cleaning and you’re too tired to cook? Chinese! Surprise houseguests and you just got home from work? Chinese! Baby’s been screaming from a roseola-induced fever and you haven’t slept in four nights and it’s Thanksgiving Day? Chinese!
The hubby and I still need a regular Chinese food fix, so we make our own. This dish is healthy and quick, and you can easily change it up by using pork or beef instead of chicken, or adding different (or more) vegetables.

If you don't have sake or mirin, white wine or chicken broth are both acceptable substitutes, If you add about ¼ teaspoon of sugar or so to make up for the mirin’s sweetness.
A mushy noodle does not a happy Alyssa make, so in stir-fries, I use sturdier Chinese egg noodles, udon noodles, or soba noodles. In a pinch, you can use linguine or even ramen noodles.

Teriyaki Chicken and Noodles
Serves 3-4
1 clove garlic, minced
1½ teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
¼ cup mirin
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut in thin slices

Dash of salt
2 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
2 teaspoons sugar
½ teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 onion, cut in thin wedges
4 scallions, cut in 1” pieces
14 ounces fresh noodles, cooked according to package directions (about 9 ounces dried noodles)
Toasted sesame seeds, for serving

1. Combine garlic, ginger, soy sauce, sake and mirin in a bowl. Add chicken and toss until coated, and sprinkle with salt. Refrigerate 30 minutes.

2. Add 1 tablespoon canola oil and ½ teaspoon sesame oil to a wok. Heat over medium-high to high heat. Drain chicken (reserving marinade) and add to pan, stir-frying until chicken is golden and cooked through.

Remove from pan.

3. Meanwhile, add reserved marinade to a small saucepan. Add sugar and crushed red pepper flakes. Boil 2 minutes and then reduce heat. Simmer until sauce is slightly syrupy. Remove from heat.

(Bringing the sauce to a boil is essential to kill off any bacteria from the chicken. For the love of Pete, do not skip this step.)
4. Add remaining oil to the wok and add onion. Stir-fry 3-4 minutes, or until softened.

5. Return chicken to the wok. Add scallions and drained noodles, tossing well to combine. Add sauce and cook 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds before serving.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Candy Bar Sundaes

While baseball season makes some people long for hot dogs, peanuts, and cracker jacks, I crave ice cream. When we were growing up, my family visiting Dairy Queen on every summer shopping trip, just so that we could order sundaes in little plastic baseball caps. My sister and I had a complete collection, but of course, our prized hats were our little Detroit Tigers hat sundae cups.
I decided to kick off baseball season with some homemade ice cream, which is easier than it looks and totally addictive. (After eating some of this, my mom said that storebought ice cream doesn't even taste good anymore.)
I used chopped Heath bars in my ice cream, and topped my sundaes with chocolate syrup and homemade salted caramel syrup. I thought they were perfect; the hubby asked for Butterfingers next time. The ice cream is versatile enough for virtually any candy, I think.
And I apologize for the poorer-than-usual photos. My camera equipment seems to change daily, and some practical joker keeps switching them from automatic to manual focus. Ha!
Candy Bar Sundaes
Makes 8 sundaes

4 large egg yolks3/4 cup sugar
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup chopped candy bars, frozen
Caramel syrup, recipe follows
Chocolate syrup, for serving
1. Beat the egg yolks in a small bowl.

I like to call this photo Beaten Eggs in Bowl.

2. Heat the sugar and 1 cup cream in a saucepan over medium heat until cream starts to bubble.

I call this one Cream That Looked Like It Was Bubbling Through the Manual Focus While I Was Wearing My Reading Glasses, But in Hindsight, Is Not. Unlike most folks', my hindsight is not 20/20.

3. Pour a little hot cream in the egg yolks and beat quickly. This keeps the eggs from scrambling when you add them to the cream. (If you fear you got some scrambling, anyway, just pour the mixture through a sieve before you chill it.)

4. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream, cooking and stirring constantly until the mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon. 

5. Pour the mixture into a bowl and chill for about 20 minutes, and then stir in the remaining cream and the milk and vanilla.

6. Add the mixture to an ice cream maker, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Stir in the chopped candy bars and freeze until ice cream is of desired consistency. Serve with caramel sauce and chocolate syrup.

Salted Caramel Syrup
Makes 1 small jar
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons light corn syrup
3/4 cup heavy cream
3 1/2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon crushed sea salt or kosher salt

1. In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, combine the sugar and water over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves.

2. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, without stirring. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5-6 minutes.

3. Carefully whisk in the cream. Return mixture to a bubble and stir constantly about 5 minutes.

4. Remove from heat and stir in the butter and salt. Transfer the caramel to a jar and cool.

5. Store in a jar in the refrigerator up to 2 weeks, and reheat before serving.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookies

Ham is a staple at any and all of our family's gatherings for Easter. I have 101 uses for leftover ham, but Easter candy is trickier. I could just hang onto it, especially if I clear out the leftover Halloween candy. Or I could put it to good use so that I’m not still sprinkling cupcakes and ice cream with pastel-colored eggs come September.
Luckily, Easter has my favorite candy of any holiday (and I celebrate many a candy holiday). Cadbury Mini Eggs are one of my ultimate weaknesses, and they’re showcased wonderfully in these cookies.
Chopping the eggs is an arduous process. You could also put them in a bag and smash them, although you might lose some of the pretty shells. You could also substitute M&Ms, chocolate chips or any other similar candy that you have on hand.
Now, does anyone have any good recipes for a bunch of half-eaten chocolate bunnies?

Cadbury Mini Egg Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen

½ cup butter-flavored shortening
½ cup butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
2½ cups flour
1 10-ounce bag Cadbury Mini Eggs
½ cup milk chocolate chips
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Chop Mini Eggs in halves or thirds, or bang on them in a resealable bag until they’re crumbled.

I feel strongly about preserving the integrity of my Mini Eggs, so I’m a chopper. Although I have to eat every third egg just to keep up my strength.
3. Cream together the shortening, butter and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla, and combine.
4. Stir in baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cocoa powder, and then stir in flour. Gently fold in candies and chocolate chips.

5. Drop heaping teaspoonfuls of dough onto cookie sheets and gently shape the cookies.

Bake 8-10 minutes and cool on cooling racks.