Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Sesame Chicken and Snow Peas

Here is a great recipe for a weeknight dinner that fits my trifecta requirements: fast, easy, delicious. 

In fact, this is probably faster than making a trip to the neighborhood take out place; and it's a lot better for you. It's so fast that you need to get the rice cooking before you start the stir fry. And it's versatile - the original recipe called for broccoli but I changed it up to snow peas and we loved it. It would be great with broccoli, or bok choy, or any good stir fry vegetable. You could add onions, mushrooms, peppers - whatever you have languishing in the fridge.

The chicken and veggies get coated with a delicious semi-homemade sauce (you do need hoisin sauce from a jar). Don't overcook the veggies - you want a nice crunchy contrast to the chicken.

So get creative with your veggies choices, or don't, but add this to your dinner plans soon and receive the hearty compliments with humility. Ha!

Sesame Chicken and Snow Peas

1 Tbsp. olive oil
Tbsp. sesame oil
1 1/4 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast, diced into bite-sized pieces
1 1/2 tsp. cornstarch
1 1/2 tsp. cold water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 Tbsp. honey
Tbsp. hoisin sauce
2 Tbsp. chili garlic sauce, or to taste
2 tsp. ground ginger
5 cups broccoli florets/snow peas/snap peas/bok choy
1 Tbsp. sesame seeds

Heat the olive and sesame oils in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until chicken is nearly cooked through.

Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl, and stir to dissolve; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, combine the brown sugar, soy sauce, honey, hoisin sauce, chili garlic sauce, and ginger; stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Allow mixture to bubble gently for 1 minute. After the mixture is boiling, add the cornstarch slurry, whisk to combine, and allow the sauce to boil and thicken for 2 to 3 minutes; whisking nearly constantly.

Push the chicken to one side of the skillet, add the vegetables to the other side, evenly pour the sauce over the chicken and vegetables, and gently stir to combine and coat evenly.

Cover the skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until vegetables are as crisp-tender as desired.

Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Recipe Source: Adapted from Averie Cooks

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Italian Love Cake

It's already February 8 and this is the first new recipe of 2023. Better late than never, I guess. And what could be better then a perfect recipe for Valentine's Day!?! I actually made this cake for a birthday, but since it's called LOVE cake and all, I thought it might inspire some of you to make a special dessert next week. 

Truth is, this is a special dessert no matter when you make it. It's super rich and chocolatey, and sort of cheesecakey (but note that my kids who don't "like" cheesecake ate this up without complaint, and with great praise!). The ricotta layer is really less like cheesecake and more like a creamy, solid base for the chocolate to rest on. (!) 

This cake is one of those fun ones that reverses layers in the oven. You make the chocolate layer first and pour it in the pan (don't bake yet!) then add the ricotta layer on top. The ricotta is heavier, so it sinks to the bottom while it bakes.

The cake is topped with a light and creamy pudding/cool whip frosting which is a great complement to the rich cake. This makes enough cake for a crowd, but the leftovers also keep really well in the fridge -- in fact, you'll want to plan ahead a bit as the cake is best after it has set in the fridge at least overnight before you serve it.

So get ready to show your love through this delicious cake - next week or some other random day. There's never a bad day to show love, or to eat cake.

Italian Love Cake
1 package chocolate or devil's food cake mix, plus ingredients to make cake 
2 pounds ricotta cheese
4 eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 (3.9 oz) package instant chocolate pudding
1 cup milk
16 oz. whipped topping, like Cool Whip, thawed

In a mixing bowl, combine the cake mix and the ingredients to make the cake as directed on the box (usually 3 eggs, oil and water). Stir well until the mix and ingredients are fully incorporated. Spread the batter into a greased 9x13 cake pan.

In another large bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the ricotta, eggs, and sugar together until creamy. Add the vanilla and mix well. Carefully pour the ricotta mixture over the chocolate cake mixture in the pan.

Bake at 350 for one hour.

Remove from the oven and place the cake pan on a wire rack to cool completely. Once it's cooled, you can frost, or you can refrigerate. The cake is best if it sits for at least a day before serving.

For the frosting, combine the pudding and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until thick and smooth. Carefully fold in the
 whipped topping. Spread on top of the cake, and refrigerate until serving. 

Recipe Source: The Seasoned Mom
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