The Best General Tso’s Chicken Recipe–Baked, Not Fried!

Just look at this photo!!!

YUM!

A healthy version of General Tso’s Chicken.

Ingredients:

4 Skinless, Boneless Chicken Thighs, cut into bite-sizes pieces
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup chicken stock, preferably homemade
1/2 cup brown sugar
4 tablespoons soy sauce
4 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
2 teaspoons paprika
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil baking dish. I used a 10 X 12.
  2. Place chicken in large bowl and mix with cornstarch.
  3. In separate bowl, whisk together chicken stock, brown sugar, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, paprika, garlic, ginger and red pepper flakes.
  4. Pour over chicken and marinate for 30-60 minutes.
  5. Pour this mixture into baking dish.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes. Stir, and bake for another 20 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and sauce has thickened.
  7. Garnish with sesame seeds and sliced green onions–if desired.

 

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Lemon Potato Salad with Mint

This is so simple to prepare and it is simply delicious!

Quoting food writer and cookbook author–and staff reporter for the New York Times Food section, Melissa Clark:

“This light and refreshing potato salad is the antithesis of the usual, creamy, mayonnaise-based recipes. The mint and scallion add a bright, herbal flavor while the sprinkle of chile lends a kick. Make this the morning you plan to serve it and let it marinate at room temperature all day long. Or refrigerate for longer storage but be sure to bring it to room temperature before serving. Other herbs like cilantro, parsley, tarragon and sage can be substituted for the mint; adjust the quantity to taste.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds small waxy white or yellow potatoes, roughly about the same size (I used the Dynamic Duo from The Little Potato Company.)
  • Juice of 1 lemon, more for serving
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, more as needed
  • ½ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced scallions, white and light green parts, more for serving
  • ¼ cup torn mint leaves, more for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon Turkish pepper, more for serving (I used red pepper flakes.)

Preparation

  1. Place whole unpeeled potatoes in a large pot with enough salted water to cover by 1 inch. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and cook until potatoes are just tender, 15 to 25 minutes depending upon size. Drain and cut potatoes into 1 1/2-inch chunks as soon as you can handle them. (I have always cut the potatoes before boiling.)
  2. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice, salt and olive oil.
  3. Transfer hot potatoes to a large bowl and toss with dressing, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper. Let cool to room temperature, or refrigerate until ready to use. Just before serving, top with additional lemon juice, scallions, mint and Turkish pepper.

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Roasted Chickpea, Carrot and Cauliflower Salad

This is based on a recipe from Better Homes and Gardens.

I made it last week following their recipe (stove-top) and I made it for an Easter dinner and I roasted the ingredients.

I prefer the roasted version.

Ingredients:

3 tablespoons olive oil
2 15 ounce cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed, and blotted dry
3 large carrots, peeled and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup orange juice
chopped fresh mint

Directions

Preheat over to 450. Combine 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon olive oil with chickpeas. Roast chickpeas for 30-40 minutes until nicely toasted. Keep you eye on these so they do not burn. Removed and set aside. Combine carrots and cauliflower with olive oil and salt and roast for about 30 minutes. Remove from oven. In a large frying pan (I used a wok) heat stock and orange juice with the smoked paprika and cumin. Reduce slightly and then add the chickpeas, carrots, and cauliflower and heat through for about 5-10 minutes. Top with mint. Serve hot or at room temperature.

 

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Spinach and Ricotta Meatloaf

I have made hundreds of meatloaves over the years, each probably a little different than the previous one. Last night’s was exceptional. Spinach and Ricotta Meatloaf.

I didn’t follow a recipe for this. Honest. I made it up as I went along. And as I said, I have made hundreds of meatloaves over the years. Read about one here and here

But to the best of my memory, I combined:

1 1/4 pound ground meat
1 beaten egg
1 cup of milk soaked homemade rye bread pieces
1 cup store-bought bread crumbs
1/2 + cup ricotta
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder
2+ cups chopped baby spinach
1 carrot grated
1 stalk celery diced
2 tablespoons chopped parsley

I put sliced tomatoes on top instead of ketchup because why not 🙂

I baked at 350 for about an hour. Served with mashed potatoes and mushroom gravy. And roasted broccolini.

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Roasted Eggplant, Lentil, Orzo Stew

A few days ago, I arrived home from the grocery store with 5 or 6 bags of groceries, mostly vegetables for our “Soup Every Day Project.” I shop twice every week and I know most of the cashiers by name and they know my name. Some even know our dog’s name, Freddy, as I have given them his business card. Yes. He has a business card because he is a very good boy and cute as a button.

Anyway, Susan saw that I had bought an eggplant and she said “Bruce, what do you plan on cooking with the eggplant?” I answered, “I thought I might make eggplant parm or moussaka.” And she said, “I just found this interesting recipe for eggplant. What not take a look at it.” And I did and I said, “Susan, that sounds delicious.” And it was delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1 ½ pounds eggplant (2 small or 1 large, skin on, or peeled, if desired), chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • ¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon coriander seeds, crushed
  • Kosher salt and black pepper
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 cup dried lentils (green, black or brown)
  • 5 cups chicken or vegetable stock, or water
  • ½ cup orzo or other small pasta, such as ditalini, stelline or macaroni
  • Zest and juice from 1 lemon, plus 4 lemon wedges for garnish
  • ¼ cup shaved ricotta salata or crumbled feta

Preparation

  1. Heat the oven to 425 degrees. In a large bowl, toss the eggplant with 1/4 cup olive oil and crushed coriander seeds until coated; season with salt and pepper. Arrange in an even layer on a large rimmed baking sheet and roast until eggplant is tender and golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes, giving the baking sheet a shake halfway through roasting to toss the eggplant pieces for even cooking.
  2. In a large skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil over medium. Add the carrot, onion and celery. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the garlic and tomato paste and cook, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste begins to darken on the bottom of the pan, about 5 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils until coated. Pour in stock or water and bring to a boil over high heat. Lower to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the type and age of lentils you use.
  5. Stir in the orzo and cook until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in the lemon zest and juice.
  6. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the roasted eggplant pieces and large shavings of ricotta salata, and serve with lemon wedges for squeezing.

Dried-Fruit Fruitcake

I am not joking. Oh, I know, people always joke about The Fruitcake. I have made this every Christmas for the past three years and it is absolutely delicious! Trust me. You’ll love its sweet taste!

Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs with Buttermilk-Mustard Sauce

We have been cooking with chicken thighs here quite often.

A few days ago, I made Braised Chicken Thighs with Dates and Apricots—so delicious.

And last night (pictured here), I made Oven-Fried Chicken Thighs with Buttermilk-Mustard Sauce.

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 4 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/4 cup dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • 4 (6-ounce) chicken thighs, skinned
Directions
Step 1

Preheat oven to 425°.

Step 2

Combine the first 6 ingredients in a small microwave-safe bowl. Spoon 3 tablespoons buttermilk mixture into a shallow bowl; reserve remaining mixture.

Step 3

Combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese in a small bowl. Dip chicken in 3 tablespoons buttermilk mixture; dredge in breadcrumb mixture. Chill 15 minutes. Lightly coat a baking sheet (or oven-proof chef’s pan) with cooking spray, and place in oven for 5 minutes.

Step 4

Place the chicken on baking sheet. Bake at 425° for 24 minutes or until a meat thermometer registers 180°, turning chicken after 12 minutes. Microwave reserved buttermilk mixture at high for 20 seconds or until warm. Drizzle the sauce over chicken. Note: I baked with for 30 minutes, turning at 15.

Next time, I might use Panko instead of bread crumbs and old style grain mustard.

Anyway, it was delicious. Served with lentils, roasted Brussels Sprouts and walnuts, homemade cranberry sauce.

Based on a recipe from Cooking Light.

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

This is so delicious. And so easy to prepare.

Recipe is from “Food & Wine Magazine, Quick From Scratch One-Dish Meals Cookbook;” a great cookbook. I am positive I made four meals from the book in the past 10 days!!!

Quoting from the book:

“Spaghettini is a good stand-in for Asian noodles, but if you can find rice noodles, by all means use them here. Serve the soup in deep bowls with chopsticks or forks as well as spoons and then drink the soup in the Asian manner. Or, use a spoon only and eat everything together, break the pasta into small pieces before cooking.”

Ingredients

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespooon sesame oil
1 onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 inch ginger (peeled and cut into thin slices)
2 dashes cayenne pepper (add more to taste)
⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or more)
1 1/2 quart chicken broth (I used my homemade stock)
1 14 ounce can crushed tomatoes, with juices
1¼ pounds chicken thighs, cut into 1 inch or smaller cubes (boneless, skinless)
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped (plus extra for garnish) (optional)
½ pounds udon noodles (can substitute spaghetti, gluten-free or egg-free thin noodles)
salt (to taste)
3-5 cups baby bok choy (I used 5.)

1/4 cup lime juice (from 2 limes)

Directions

 

In a large soup pot, heat both oils at medium heat. Add onion, celery, garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper, and red pepper flakes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the broth, crushed tomatoes, chicken, and fish sauce, cilantro. Bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add noodles and cook for an additional 4 minutes, or for the cooking time recommended on the package of noodles you are using. Add salt to taste. Add bok choy and lime juice and cook another 1-2 minutes until soft. Serve with chopped cilantro, lime wedge (optional)

Oh—and I served it with homemade Wheat, Pecan, Sunflower Seed, Dried Cranberry Bread.

Pasta with Tuna, Capers, and Green Olives

A few nights ago Susan and I had dinner guests. Candy and her daughter, Remy. Candy and I went to the same elementary school, junior high school and church when we were growing up in Teaneck, New Jersey (This was a long time ago.) So I feel very blessed she and her daughter took time to visit with us.

Earlier in the week, Susan and I talked about what to cook and we thought this might be perfect. I had asked Candy if there was anything she didn’t like and she said “boudin.” But the thought crossed my mind “tuna, caper, green olives!” Need I say, they loved it.

SERVES: 4

When it comes to making quick, delicious pasta sauces, Italians hold canned tuna in high regard. We complement it with Provençal herbs and orange zest. If you’re a lemon-zest fan, try that instead of the orange.

Ingredients
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage (I used 1/2)
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary (I used 1/2)
  • 3/4 teaspoon grated orange zest (from 1/2 orange)
  • 1 tablespoon drained chopped capers
  • 1/4 cup chopped green olives
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
  • 2 6-ounce cans tuna packed in olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon wine vinegar
  • 3/4 pound linguine or tagliatelle
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
Directions
  1. In a medium frying pan, heat the oil over moderately low heat. Add the garlic, sage, and rosemary and stir until the garlic just starts to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the orange zest, capers, olives, salt, pepper, and the tuna with its oil. Remove from the heat; stir in the vinegar.
  2. In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the pasta until just done (follow package directions) Drain the pasta and toss with the tuna sauce and parsley.

NOTE

Tuna Packed in Oil

Here we use tuna packed in olive oil, and we count on that oil as part of the sauce. If your tuna doesn’t have at least one-and-a-half tablespoons of oil per can, add a little more olive oil to make up the difference. Of course, you can use tuna packed in vegetable oil, too, but avoid water-packed tuna at all costs. The flavor, and most of the nutrients for that matter, leach out into the water.

A robust French rosé from the southern Rhône appellation of Tavel will serve these Mediterranean ingredients well. Earthy and full of roasted raspberry flavor, Tavels are among the most full-bodied of rosés. If you’d rather stick to the Italian theme, look for the wonderful Sicilian rosé from Regaleali.
The first time I made this recipe I used Linguine:

~Food & Wine

Curried Cauliflower with Dahl

I don’t often cook with cauliflower. It’s not that I don’t want to, I like eating cauliflower, but cauliflower seems to turn brown if you don’t use it the day you buy it.

However,  here are two cauliflower meals I have made and both were delicious:

Roasted Cauliflower with Pomegranate, Mint and Tahini

Seared Scallops with Cauliflower, Capers and Raisins

And I have often substituted it for broccoli in pasta dishes.

A few  days ago I saw orange and purple-colored cauliflowers at the grocery store and I actually had a hard time choosing between the two colors. But, the orange cauliflower called out to me as a big ball of sunshine in the produce aisle. When I got home, Susan said “You bought cauliflower! I love cauliflower. What are you going to make?”

Quoting from the book (beautiful and informative book):  Produce, A Fruit and Vegetable Lover’s Guide:

“Cauliflower is hardly the most glamorous of vegetables but, like its siblings, the cabbages, it has been enjoyed through the ages. The ancient Romans doted on it, and then it fell victim to the barbarian scourge, disappearing for centuries. The Renaissance brought a reflowering of many things, the cabbage flower but one. And if we needed evidence that it finally arrived, a bit of culinary flattery would do it—and eighteenth -century French chef created a dish, probably a puree, that would forever link cauliflower with Louis XV’s Madame du Barry.

“Mark Twain called it ‘nothing but cabbage with a college education’ and he was reasonably accurate. Cauliflower is simply a cabbage that has been trained to produce firm bunches of flowers, and some modern varieties have even been educated to shelter the curd (the technical name) from sunlight by wrapping leaves around it. Less precocious varieties have been tied to effect the necessary blanching that produces a pale, delicately flavored result.”

Okay. Enough history and science. There will be no quiz. Let’s get on with the recipe!

This is really a recipe of curried vegetables from a great cookbook, Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups red lentils or yellow split peas (I used red lentils.)
4 or 5 cups water (I used my homemade chicken stock.)
1 onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
1 fresh green chile, minced (I used a jalapeno, seeded, from my garden.)
3 tablespoons vegetable oil or ghee (clarified butter)
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 4 cups)
1 tablespoon mild curry powder (I used 2 tablespoons.)
1 teaspoon ground cumin (I used a heaping teaspoon!)
2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 cups water
1 head cauliflower (about 4 cups florets)
2 green or red bell peppers, chopped (about 2 cups)
10 ounces fresh spinach
2-3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Salt to taste

Directions:

Rinse the lentils or split peas. Lentils cook faster and absorb less water than split peas, so use 4 cups of water for lentils, 5 cups of water for split peas. In a covered saucepan, bring the water and lentils or peas to a boil. reduce heat, uncover, and simmer for about 30 minutes, until tender.
In a large soup pot, saute the onion and chile in the oil for several minutes. Add the sweet potatoes, curry powder, cumin, and ginger and continue to saute for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring often. Pour in the 2 cups of water. Cut the cauliflower into florets and add to the pot. Add the bell peppers, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes.
While the vegetables simmer, rinse, stem, and coarsely chop the spinach. Pour the lentils or peas and their cooking liquid into a blender or food processor, and puree for 2 to 3 minutes to make a smooth dahl. (I didn’t do this as the lentils were very much broken down.) When the cauliflower is tender, stir in the spinach, the dahl and the lemon juice. Simmer just until the spinach has wilted. Add salt to taste, and serve immediately.

4 to 6 servings