Sunday, October 26, 2008

Honey Walnut Shrimp

A few years ago, back when we actually had the time and money to go out to dinner, Erich ordered Honey Walnut Shrimp at our favorite Chinese place. It was SO good, deep fried shrimp with a light crispy coating and toasted walnuts drizzled in a creamy, sweet sauce. I made a mental note that I needed to learn how to make it, and... I just got around to that last week. It came out really well, the saltiness of the shrimp and mild onion flavor from the green onions contrast nicely with the sweetness of the sauce and walnuts. This is a great recipe to make if you have kids who like seafood.... and mine do. I doubled this recipe and there was NOTHING left.

1 Tbs butter
1/2 cup walnuts
1 tsp brown sugar
pinch of salt

Melt the butter over medium heat in a small saute pan. Add the walnuts and saute for 1 minute. Sprinkle brown sugar and salt over nuts and stir to coat. Continue cooking 1 more minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and set aside.

2/3 cup rice flour (if you can't find rice flour, cornstarch will work)
3 eggs, beaten
salt and pepper to taste
1 lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 Tbs honey
2 Tbs sweetened condensed milk
1 Tbs rice vinegar
3 green onions, chopped
oil for frying

Heat 2 inches of oil in a heavy skillet or electric skillet to 350ºF. Mix beaten egg, rice flour and salt and pepper in a medium mixing bowl. Toss shrimp in batter mixture and deep fry a few pieces at a time until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Drain on paper towels.

Mix together mayonnaise, honey, condensed milk and rice vinegar.

To serve, place shrimp on a plate, sprinkle with walnuts and drizzle with the sauce. Top with green onions to taste.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Chicken Chow Mein

With the economy being what it is, prices being so high on everything and only having one income due to a crummy job market, I've been trying to stretch our food budget a little more than usual. Part of that has been going back to old standby recipes, and part of it has been finding recipes that use items I always have on hand. If the recipe makes enough for 6 people to eat for 2 meals... even better!

This one came about while I was browsing for chicken recipes. I knew I had only 4 breast halves in the freezer, meaning that in order to stretch that for 6 people, it would have to be a casserole or stir fry. I came across a recipe for Chicken Chow Mein. Now, I don't know about you, but this was a dish my mother made in the 70's... and granted, as a kid I liked it, but the majority of it came from a can. The last time I had tried the version from a can, it wasn't quite what I remembered. But I was willing to give it another shot... on my terms. This began my search for a REAL recipe for Chow Mein. I found quite a few, took my favorite parts of each one and came up with this. Not only did it stretch those 4 chicken breast halves to feed all 6 of us, it also made enough for leftovers for Monday... BONUS! I also had most of the ingredients on hand already, the only purchase I made for this was the bamboo shoots, beans sprouts and cabbage... which cost all of $2.40.

4 large chicken breast halves (about 2 lbs), cut in bite size pieces
3 Tbs canola or vegetable oil
salt and pepper to taste
2 ribs of celery, sliced
1 med onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
12 oz package sliced mushrooms
2 handfuls fresh bean sprouts
1/2 small head of cabbage, sliced
1 cup chicken stock or broth
7 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs oyster sauce
1/2 cup rice wine
3 Tbs honey (I prefer honey, but you can use sugar)
1/4 cup water
3 Tbs cornstarch
6 green onions, white and green parts chopped
cooked rice
crispy chow mein noodles

Heat oil in large frying pan over med-high heat. Season chicken to taste with salt and pepper, then brown in hot oil. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and set aside.

Add celery and onions to the pan, and saute 2 minutes, stirring often. Add garlic, ginger, mushrooms, bean sprouts and cabbage. Continue cooking 2 more minutes or until vegetables just start to cook down.

Mix together chicken stock, soy sauce, oyster sauce, rice wine and honey in a medium mixing bowl. In a small bowl, whisk together water and cornstarch until smooth, then add to the broth mixture, mixing well. Add sauce mixture to the pan, stirring almost constantly until sauce begins to thicken.

Return chicken to the pan, add green onions and heat through. Serve over rice and top with chow mein noodles.