Sweet and Sour Chicken

sweet and sour (1 of 1)

Sweet and tangy. I’m pretty sure this type of chicken is what keeps food courts across the country in business, because it’s what the taste buds are made for. But I avoid these like the plague at the food court because even just eating a sample makes me feel like I just ate something greasy and unnatural and I should avoid eating in general for the next day to make up for it.

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This chicken, on the other hand, is full of goodness covered in a mix of sugar and vinegar, among other things, so it turns into sweet and sour goodness coming out of YOUR OWN OVEN. Sweet and sour chicken is, to me, something that sounds hard to make…but it’s so easy! So eat chicken and be merry. The end.

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Baked Sweet and Sour Chicken

From Mel’s Kitchen Cafe // Makes 4-6 servings
Chicken:
3-4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 2 pounds)
Salt and pepper
1 cup cornstarch
2 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola, vegetable or coconut oil
Sauce:
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar (depending on how sweet you want the sauce)
4 tablespoons ketchup
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.
2. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Place the cornstarch in a gallon-sized ziploc bag. Put the chicken into the bag with the cornstarch and seal, tossing to coat the chicken.
3. Whisk the eggs together in a shallow pie plate. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat until very hot and rippling. Dip the cornstarch-coated chicken pieces in the egg and place them carefully in a single layer in the hot skillet.
4. Cook for 20-30 seconds on each side until the crust is golden but the chicken is not all the way cooked through (this is where it’s really important to have a hot skillet/oil). Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in a 9X13-inch baking dish and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
5. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a medium bowl and pour over the chicken. Bake for one hour, turning the chicken once or twice while cooking to coat evenly with sauce. Serve over hot, steamed rice.
P.S. Props to my twin Annie for actually making this while I dashed home from the library.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

I’m back from a year and a half in Japan, yet I bring to you cashew chicken lettuce wraps.  Not exactly the most Japanese dish.  But, I snagged the recipe from a site I love, and I guess it makes sense that coming back to home would mean coming back to old habits and beloved cooking blogs.  But don’t worry, the Japanese recipes will be coming sooner or later!  But for now: cashews and chicken.

The lettuce is crisp, the tomatoes fresh, and the cashews bring in a nice, deep flavor.  Then add the chicken, soy sauce, syrup, onions, carrots, and garlic and it’s… gone in five minutes.  But the good news is that it takes not much longer than that to prepare.

Cashew Chicken Lettuce Wraps

from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe/makes 4 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 cup finely diced yellow or white onion
  • 1 cup finely diced (or shredded) carrots
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely minced or pressed through a garlic press
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs, cut into small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoon pure maple syrup *I substituted honey in for syrup
  • 1/2 cup chopped raw cashews (lightly toasted, if desired)
  • Bibb or green leaf lettuce leaves for wrapping
  • Chopped cucumbers and tomatoes for serving
  1. In a large 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion and carrots. Add the garlic, salt and pepper and cook for 2-3 minutes, until the vegetables start to soften.
  2. Season the chicken pieces lightly with salt and pepper and add to the skillet with the onions and carrots. Cook, stirring often, until the chicken pieces are cooked through, 4-5 minutes.
  3. Stir in the soy sauce and maple syrup and cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, letting the soy sauce and maple syrup bubble and simmer.
  4. Stir in the cashews, cooking until they are just heated through. Season to taste with additional salt and pepper, if needed.
  5. Serve in lettuce leaves topped with tomatoes and cucumbers