Stir-Fry MASTER!

I’ve been called this a time or two. Sure, I’m the one who called myself that first…but then it caught on with the masses! And by the masses, I mean Jon. And by Jon I mean the man who loves me. He’s under contract to say things like that. Okay, maybe not under contract but…you get the gist.

ON TO THE STIR-FRY! I’m not going to do my usual “Here’s what you’ll need” list because you’re going to need the same ingredients multiple times, and it’s just easier to tell you what to do while you’re doin’ it instead of telling you how much of what to take out of those ingredients. Does that makes sense? Okay good.

First, to make the sauce, get a small bowl and mix together 1 tsp corn starch, 2 Tbs soy sauce, 1 Tbs oyster sauce, 1 Tbs dry sherry, 1 tsp sugar, ¼ cup chicken broth, and ¼ tsp red pepper flakes. Give it a good stir and set it aside.

In a large bowl whisk together 1 Tbs cornstarch, 1 Tbs flour and 2 Tbs sesame oil and set that aside too.
Mince up 1 Tbs of fresh ginger and 1 Tbs of fresh garlic, put it in a small bowl, and pour in 1 Tbs vegetable oil…set that aside too (all of this “setting aside” will make things easier later).

Take 2 chicken breasts and stick ‘em in the freezer for half an hour. You want them to be just slightly frozen, because you’re going to slice these suckers up really thinly. Once you sliced the chicken breasts into thin pieces, toss them in a bowl with 1 Tbs soy sauce and 1 Tbs dry sherry. Let that marinade for at least 10 minutes or up to an hour.

Chop up 2 bell peppers (the color of your choice, I prefer red), ½ an onion, and 1 pint of mushrooms. Now you’re ready to get cooking!

Place your wok (or whatever pan your using…but seriously, buy a wok because it’s awesome) over high heat with 2 Tbs of vegetable oil. Once your pan is screaming hot, pour your chicken into the large bowl that has the cornstarch/flour/sesame oil mixture. Give it a good toss until it’s well coated, and put half of your chicken in the hot pan in a fairly even layer. DON’T TOUCH IT! Let it fry for about a minute. Once the minute is up, give it a good stir (notice the yummy brown bits. Mmm, brown bits) and let it cook for another minute. Transfer first batch of cooked chicken to a plate, and do the same thing with the second batch of chicken. Cover your chicken with a piece of foil and toss all your veggies in the hot wok (add more oil if you think it needs it) and cook them for about a minute. Clear a little spot in the middle of your wok, and pour in the oil/ginger/garlic mixture. Let it sit for about 45 seconds before stirring it together with all of your veggies. Add chicken back to the pan and let everything mingle together for 30 seconds. Lastly, give your sauce one last stir, and pour it over your stir fry. Let it heat through, thicken up, and then remove it from the heat.

You’re done! Throw some scallions over the top, serve it over rice and enjoy!

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Chocolate Peppermint Pretzel Sticks

Last night I had the itch to make something sweet and festive. At first I wanted to make sugar cookies, but that meant I would have had to make a few different colors of frosting…and lets face it, that’s way too much work. Then I remembered that my friend Lauren pinned a recipe on Pinterest for chocolate covered pretzel sticks with bits of candy cane on them. Game on pretzel sticks. Game. On.

What you’ll need:

1 24oz bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 bag of pretzel rods
About 4 candy canes
Sprinkles (optional)
Parchment paper

Cover 2-3 cookie sheets with a piece of parchment paper. Put your candy canes (or in my case little candy cane bites) in a ziplock bag and smash them into little bits.

In a double boiler, melt the chocolate chips over medium-high heat. Once melted reduce heat to low just to keep the chocolate from hardening. Grab yourself a pretzel rod and, using a spatula, cover all of but about an inch of the pretzel in chocolate. While the chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the chocolate pretzel with your desired topping.

Set each pretzel on parchment covered cookie sheets and allow to harden for about an hour. Once the chocolate is set, carefully lift pretzels from parchment paper and store in an air tight container or freezer bag.

These would make a great holiday gift for your friends and they’re way easier to make than a bunch of cookies. I’m giving them away to friends and family! Happy holidays everyone!

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Pumpkin Swirled Chocolate Brownies

Remember me? I’m back. With brownies.

I love baking, but it always makes such a huge mess. Check it out!

And this is not showing the chocolate shavings that melted on my clean floor. Stupid chocolate shavings…

Lets get right to it! Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pumpkin batter:
1 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/3 cup canned pumpkin puree (make sure it’s not the “pumpkin pie mix” stuff)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1 Tbs all purpose flour

For the brownie batter:
5 1/2 oz semisweet baking chocolate, finely chopped
1 1/4 sticks unsalted butter, cut into pieces
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/3 cups flour

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 13×9 baking dish with nonstick spray and set aside. In a small bowl, using an electric mixer, mix together the cream cheese and butter. Beat in the sugar and egg until well incorporated. Next, add the pumpkin puree, vanilla, and spices and cream together until smooth. Fold in the flour and set this mix aside.

Grab a large pot and fill with about 3 inches of water. Put over high heat and bring to a boil. While that’s heating up grab a small heat-resistant bowl and toss in the chocolate and butter pieces. When water comes to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and place bowl over the simmering water and melt together the butter and chocolate. Stir occasionally until melted. Set aside.

In a large heat-resistant bowl, combine the eggs with the sugar, vanilla and salt. Place over the same simmering water and, using an electric mixer, beat until the mixture is lukewarm. Remove from heat and continue mixing at medium-high speed for about 5 minutes, or until mixture is thick and fluffy. Grab a spatula and fold in the chocolate mixture. Sift the flour into this mixture and fold that in, too.

Pour the chocolate mixture into the prepared baking dish, and smooth the top with a spatula. Pour the pumpkin mixture over the top of the chocolate mixture and, using the back of a butter knife, swirl the pumpkin batter into the chocolate mixture. Don’t over-do it or the swirl pattern will be lost. Bake for about 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

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Rhubarb…chicken?

I don’t think I’ve ever cooked with rhubarb. It’s kind of one of those things where you think to yourself, “Well, I should have used it by now…I’m pretty sure I’ve used it.” But, no, I’m almost 100% sure I’ve never cooked with it. Kind of like how I THINK I’ve been to Lake Chelan, I THINK I’ve seen Reservoir Dogs, I THINK I’ve done a cartwheel before. However, those are all products of wishful thinking. I’ve never done any of those things. It just seems like I should have done them by now.

You would think my first encounter with rhubarb would be of the sweet variety. To be honest, I thought that was the only variety there was. But then I found this recipe, and it had a ton of great reviews. So, Jon and I headed to the grocery store to get the few things we didn’t already have to make this recipe. When we got to the produce section I said to Jon, “Will you grab a pound of rhubarb?” While I was looking for an orange that looked up to par, I glanced over to Jon who was for some reason weighing out a rutabaga. Apparently he had never cooked with rhubarb before either…

Here’s what you’ll need:
8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 3 pounds)
Kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium shallots, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh ginger
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/2 cup dry sherry
1 cup low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup honey
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (from about 1 medium)
1 pound rhubarb stalks, medium dice

Preheat your oven to 375 F.
Rinse off your chicken thighs and pat them dry with a few paper towels. Season them generously with salt and pepper.
Put a large heavy bottomed pot over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once shimmering add half of the chicken thighs, skin down. Leave them alone for about 5 minutes so that the skin gets nice and crispy. Flip ‘em over and brown on the other side.

Once nicely browned, transfer to a clean plate and set aside. Do the same thing with the other half of the chicken.

Reduce the heat to medium and discard half of the oil in the pan. Throw in the shallots, ginger and cardamom, season with salt and pepper, and sautee for about 2 minutes.

Add the cooking sherry and scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen up those tasty little brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Reduce the liquid by half, cooking for about 5 minutes. Pour in the chicken stock, honey and orange juice and give it a good stir.

(Hint: spray your measuring cup with some cooking spray before measuring honey. It’ll make it easier to pour out.) Transfer chicken back to the pot, skin side up, and bring liquid up to a boil.

Pop the whole thing in the oven, uncovered, and cook for 35 minutes. After the first 35 minutes, remove pot from oven and scatter the rhubarb chunks around the chicken. Cook for an additional 15 minutes.

This was a crowd pleaser, for sure. And by “crowd” I, of course, mean “Jon and I”. I’m pretty sure we still have left overs in the fridge, and I made this last week. We ate the chicken with brown rice and sauteed kale.

I poured the sauce from the chicken over everything on my plate. It was really easy to make and it was kind of exciting to try rhubarb in such an interesting way.

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Summa, Summa, Summa Time!

I can go outside without a jacket, without closed toed shoes, and in need of some glasses that block the harsh rays of the sun! Which means spring is here, and summer is almost here and my skin is that much closer to no longer being the color of a “flesh” colored crayon (last night Jon and I were comparing our face colors in the mirror and literally laughing at how pale I am).

Summer also means I am now taking applications for summer tunes to listen to loudly in my car. This one already made the cut! DISCLAIMER: There’s a boobie in the beginning of the video. “Don’t let it scare you” as Luke said when he sent me this video to watch. C’mon, it’s just a little boobie.

Things I like about this video: girls licking inanimate objects and a Casio keyboard
Things I don’t like about this video: It ends.

UPDATE!: I also just saw this. All I can say is I love a good music video cameo….or twelve.

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Strep Makes Me Unproductive

I’ve had strep throat since Sunday. Don’t worry, you can’t catch it. I’ve been on antibiotics since Monday aka OVER 48 hours AKA I’m no longer contagious. Although, don’t sit on my couch. I hung out on that thing for 3 days straight sneezing, snotting, and fevering all over it. It’s clearly a breeding ground for strep.

Anyway, I have a video to share. It’s our friend Simon who, for some reason, goes by Boomrad Washington on Facebook. Probably because he knows he’ll be famous soon and he needs to hide from his fans or else it will be pure Facebook pandemonium. Why will he be famous? Because he’s an amazing guitar player and an equally amazing singer. His voice is very original I think.

Enjoy!

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Luke’s Random Emails!

Welcome to another edition of “Luke’s Random Emails!” I really liked this next video. I want this guy to be the god father of my future children. Seriously.
Good job Luke at finding this one.

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