Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Make Your Own Take Out: Sweet & Sour Chicken

Tonight's dinner was a spin on make your own take out of sweet & sour chicken.  It tasted pretty darn good so I thought I would share the recipe with you.  If you're looking for a good sweet & sour chicken recipe, like really good (you know the kind where you know what parts of the chicken were used) look no further.

This recipe has it.  This tasted better than some nice Chinese restaurants I've been too, most buffets I've frequented (some pregnant and some not), and certainly better than anything you are going to find in the frozen food isle at the grocery store.

I do want to warn you, don't confuse good food with fast food!  Making your own take out takes more effort than calling for delivery.  This recipe took me about an hour to get on the table, but it was worth it.

I used Mel's recipe for sweet and sour chicken as a guide, check her version out if you want to use the original.  Here's my take:

Sweet & Sour Chicken
Takes about 1 hour to make
Serves 4-6 people

1.5 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and pepper
3/4 cup cornstarch
3 large eggs, beaten
1/4 cup canola oil

1.5 cups granulated sugar
8 tablespoons ketchup
1 cup apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons garlic powder

1.5 lbs of veggies (I used about 1 lb of broccoli and 1/2 lb of snow peas)
1/2 of a cored pineapple, sliced into bite sized pieces

4 cups water
2 cups Jasmine Rice


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil is heating, cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Place the cornstarch, salt, and pepper in a gallon-sized plastic bag. Put the cut up chicken into the bag with the cornstarch, seal it good and tight and shake the heck out of it. Beat the eggs with a little water on a shallow plate or bowl. Dip the chicken into the egg wash and place it in the pan of hot oil. Cook for 2 minutes on each side (till golden brown). Place in a single layer in a baking dish.  Don't over crowd your pan, you'll need to cook the chicken in batches.  Once all chicken is fried, place the sheet in the oven.

Mix the sauce ingredients in a bowl and pour half the sauce on the chicken that is cooking in the oven.  Pour the other half of the sauce in a saucepan and simmer on low to thicken.  Let the chicken cook for about 30-45 minutes while you prepare the rest of the meal.  Toss occasionally so the sauce coats all the chicken.

Cook the rice according to the package directions.  Jasmine rice usually takes 15-20 minutes to cook.

Sauté the mix-ins on medium heat with a little olive oil.  Once the rice is done, toss the now cooked chicken into the veggie mix.

Your done!  Assemble, plate, and enjoy!

Top your rice with the chicken & veggie mix and pour (to your liking) more sweet and sour sauce on top of your finished dish.

If you have a picky eater in the house like I do, plate their's before mixing the chicken into the veggies (this seemed to appease my little one).

This dish was really quite good.  Next time I might serve it up with some yummy crab Rangoon...you know, to keep the theme going.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

The Little Things

With under one week to go before I hit my 2nd child's due date (Feb 21st to be exact), I'm finding myself with a lot of free time, free time I was not expecting to have because I really thought I would be holding my little peanut by now.  While I'm feeling pretty good, strenuous physical work is out of the question.

I'm trying to fill my time and keep myself busy so I don't get too anxious (I'm only half succeeding), the waiting is really the worse part.  You know a baby is coming and as the date gets closer and closer it becomes more and more inevitable that they will finally arrive but there is not a whole lot you can do to make it go faster or control when OR WHERE it will happen.  All I keep thinking is:  PLEASE don't let my water break at work!

I've been staying busy by cooking, cleaning, and hanging out with my son and hubby.  This week included Valentine's day and so a little crafting was involved too.  Check out these cute Valentine's that my son handed out at Day Care.  I didn't want the kids getting more candy, so.....I gave them a weapon instead (oops).  If you want to do this, check out the template at Stitchcraftcreations.  Huge time saver!  You can buy the glow sticks at the Dollar Store in a pack of 5.  This whole project took 1 hour of our time and $4 to complete.  Perfect.

Talk about perfect:  here is my Valentine's day date and I out for dinner!  Daddy was at a meeting so this little guy treated mommy to his favorite restaurant (mommy paid).  No reservations needed.

This weekend I finished making some burp clothes for our stubborn little guy that has yet to arrive.  While I kept all of my 1st son's baby stuff and plan to reuse all of it, I hated his burp clothes from day one.  All the ones you get in the store are just not right.  They are too small, too thin, and too expensive.  The nice ones on etsy are too pricey so I took matters into my own hands this time around.

This project could not be easier.  You can use any fabric you like.  I scored some cheap chenille fabric on clearance at Joann's so I bought the entire remaining bolt.  For the other side, I found some coordinating fleece fabric at both Joann's and on Etsy.  You cut both the chenille and fleece to 10" by 18", pin them together with finished sides facing in,  and sew, leave an opening of approximately 3" wide so you can turn the fabric right side out.  Flip right side out and finish with a top stitch all the way around the outside (closing that hole you left open to turn the fabric). That's it.  DONE! Super easy!  The hardest part is picking out the fabric (and in my case doing it quickly because the hubby was impatiently waiting to be picked up from the pool).  If you are looking for a more thorough tutorial than what I listed above, check out Danamadeit  for good directions.

It is funny how the little things like burp clothes can make a new momma (or in my case an expectant momma) so happy!  I can't wait to start using these on my little one rather than just look at them sitting all nice and pretty by the changing pad.

Speaking of changing pad and the little things.  These two are still hanging out.  The pad's cover is going to have to get washed before my little peanut even arrives thanks to these two hairy monsters.  They sure are going to be heartbroken when they find out this is not a cat bed!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Nursing Shawl

Do a quick search on google for "nursing covers" and your going to get {in my opinion} these dorky looking covers that do nothing but let everybody know exactly what you are doing; nursing a baby. 

Photo Credit: from craftsy.com
No offense, but I thought the whole point of a nursing cover was to conceal what you are doing. Let's face it, when you are wearing a cover that has loud child-like fabric on it, everyone is going to know you are nursing a little one under there.  Now, it isn't the end of the world that everyone knows your nursing (after all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure it out) but I wanted something that was a little less obvious and would at least take a double glance to figure out.

photo credit: Misocraftyknits.com

With my first child, I just used baby blankets.  They work perfectly fine, there really isn't anything wrong with them, except the occasional slippage, otherwise they are cheap and easy.  
Photo credit: thecoterieblog.com

But thanks to pinterest, once I saw this modern nursing shawl on Coterie, I just knew I had to make one for myself..... because I just don't have enough going on right now. Insert large sigh here.  The shawl is simple, effective, and cheap.  Check. Check. Check. Bring it on.
Ignore the stalking cat

Ignore the stalking dog

If you can get past the dorky model (my cat and dog never did), you'll see a cute shawl that only took 20 minutes to create and $12.99 worth of fabric.  Totally worth the little time and effort it took to make! 

If you are thinking about making one yourself, DO IT!  It is super easy, just follow the directions on thecoterieblog.com site.  It was literally one sewing line.  It could not be easier.  The best part, it isn't dorky (just the person wearing it is but I can't fix that).  

Sunday, February 10, 2013

All Baby All the Time

It is all baby all the time here in this household.  I wish it wasn't but when you're 38+ weeks pregnant it is really hard to concentrate on much else.  I've been busy.  Busy with anything and everything that will help me keep my mind from wondering when labor will start.

A couple of weekends ago, my friend K came over and helped me make some freezer meals.  A huge THANK YOU for the helping hand.  I now have the following frozen in my freezer: banana muffins (from America's test kitchen), whole wheat raspberry scones, Spring Shepard's pie, lasagna (my mom's recipe), and sloppy J's.

I also got the following done in the last couple of weeks: mac & cheese, Cilantro lime chicken, and Mexican stuff chicken shells.  And if my energy holds up, I'm still going to get to these this weekend:  No bake Energy Balls.  Oh I also cooked some chili this weekend and I hope to get some in the freezer before the hubby eats it all but I'm not sure that will happen.

So you can see, I'm not lying, I've been keeping myself busy.  Busy in between napping :)

My sister came last weekend and cleaned my house.  A HUGE thanks for that!  It is so nice to come home to a clean house.  If this baby doesn't come soon, she is going to have to come back....it is impossible to keep this house clean with two (soon to be three) stinky boys!  I hung all my hubby's clothes this weekend (happy early V-day honey!), that was about 3 weeks worth of clothes.

The pack-n-play is all set up and waiting (like everyone else) for our little one to arrive.  This is still my favorite spot in the house.  Look at that cute couple in those photos, it has now been 15 years (8 of them married).

Someone has to come over and break it to our cats that these are not new cat beds.  I just can't do it!  They are just so darn cute and comfortable.  I'm sure once there is a crying little one in these items they'll settle somewhere else (although if Mies wants to help with the Butt Paste, I won't argue).

Talk about cute and comfortable.  Look at this soon to be big brother.  He's been "reading" us stories lately. He can't actually read many words yet but we're having fun listening to the stories he makes up to the pages.  He took a big brother class this past weekend where he learned all about the new baby.  He seems excited, I hope that excitement lasts!

I have some sewing projects that I have completed and I hope to get posted here before our newest little one arrives.  If not, I'll have a post baby update with the projects!  See you soon!