Cashew Chicken

My brother Kyle has had an interest in cooking longer than I have! When we were younger he watched Food Network and tried their recipes. (He was such a fan of Emeril Lagasse that in one of his missionary packages, my mom sent him an Emeril apron that said "BAM!" on the front!) My brother is a great cook, so when he shares a recipe with me I know it's going to be good. My family raved about this meal when Kyle made it for them, so I was excited when he called me with the recipe!

This was delicious and came together in a snap! Since everything cooks very quickly, I made sure to have all the ingredients prepped and ready before cooking began. Savory and slightly spicy, with a nice crunch from the cashews, this asian style chicken is a restaurant-worthy dish. Thanks Kyle!

Cashew Chicken

4 chicken breast halves, diced
3 tbsp soy sauce, divided
1 tbsp cooking sherry
1 tbsp corn starch
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp white vinegar
¼ cup oil
1 tsp red pepper flakes
3 green onions, sliced diagonally
2 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 tsp of jarred minced garlic)
¼-½ cup cashews, unsalted
toasted sesame seeds
hot cooked rice

In a medium bowl, combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce with the cooking sherry. Cut chicken into bite-sized cubes, about 1/2 inch, and place chicken pieces in soy sauce/sherry mixture. Let it sit while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a small bowl, whisk remaining 2 tablespoons soy sauce, corn starch, sugar, and vinegar until well combined. Set aside. Slice the green onions, and measure out the red pepper flakes and minced garlic.

Heat oil in a wok over high heat. (Make sure it is very very hot. I didn't have mine hot enough and my chicken didn't turn out brown and crispy on the outside like it should have. Hot hot hot!) Add red pepper flakes and stir for 10 seconds. Add chicken all at once - it will sizzle and spatter quite a bit in the hot oil - stir quickly to brown all sides of chicken. Cook for 2 minutes until chicken is browned on all sides. Remove chicken from wok. Add sliced green onions and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are slightly cooked (about 1 minute). Return chicken to wok. Slowly pour in reserved corn starch sauce, stir to coat. Continue cooking on high, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and sauce thickens. Remove from heat, stir in cashews. Serve over hot cooked rice with toasted sesame seeds on top.

Post-edit: This is what it is SUPPOSED to look like, when you cook at the right temperature.


Tomato Basil Bisque

I have been into soups lately. (Recently I made this soup served in these bread bowls and then forgot to take a picture. But it was delicious. Consider yourself informed.) I have always loved creamy tomato basil soup, and this recipe jumped out at me when I was looking for a soup to go with some tomato and feta tartlets friend Alexa was making. We loved loved loved this soup. It has a secret ingredient: pureed butternut squash. There is just a hint of the squash taste in the soup, and it is delicious. Warm and yummy and absolutely perfect for the colder months. It was quick and easy too, once the squash was cooked it came together in a snap.

Tomato Basil Bisque

1 medium butternut squash (for about 1 1/2 cups cooked squash)
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup finely diced onion
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 can (14.5 ounces) Italian-style stewed tomatoes
1 cup chicken stock or broth
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 cup heavy cream or half-and-half {I used half-and-half}

Prepare the butternut squash by preheating the oven to 350 degrees. Cut the squash in half, lengthwise, so you have two long pieces. Scoop out the seeds and pulp from each half. Place both sides cut-side down in a 9X13-inch pan. Add enough water to come about 1/4-inch up the sides of the squash. Cover with foil and bake for about an hour. Test with a fork to make sure the squash is very tender when pierced with the fork in several places. If the flesh doesn’t easily give to the pressure of the fork, continue cooking in ten minute increments, and testing again, until the squash is tender. Remove the pan from the oven and transfer the squash to a large cutting board or plate. Let it cool about 15 minutes before scooping out the flesh. If preparing the day before, scoop out the flesh and place in a tupperware. Let cool completely. Cover and refrigerate until using it in the soup. If using the squash immediately, scoop the squash into the blender.

While the squash is cooking, in a medium saucepan, melt the butter and saute the onion until soft and translucent. Add the minced garlic and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Scoop the onion/garlic mixture into the blender with the squash.

Add the canned tomatoes (undrained) to the blender. Process until the mixture is smooth. Pour the blended mixture back into the saucepan and add the chicken broth, salt, sugar, basil and cream (or half-and-half). Stir to combine well. Heat over medium-low heat until the soup is warm (but don’t let it boil or simmer to avoid the cream curdling). Serve immediately.

Serves 4-6.

Recipe from My Kitchen Cafe.


Chicken Pot Pie

I have been cooking lately, but keep forgetting to take pictures. And you know I can't post a recipe without a picture. But while I don't have a picture of the finished product, this chicken pot pie was too delicious and easy not to post about. It also turned out looking beautiful, with a nice golden crust on top. I felt like I was making something healthy with all the vegetables included in this dish, and it turned out beautifully with minimal effort thanks to the use of frozen puff pastry for the crust. I didn't even use a pie tin or individual ramekins (like I have room for those in my NYC kitchen! Fahgetaboutit!), I just halved it and made it in an 8x8 baking dish. It was warm and filling, a perfect fall or winter meal.

Chicken Pot Pie

For the filling:
3 chicken breasts (or 5-6 halves, I use frozen from Costco), cooked and diced
3 Tbs butter
1 small onion, diced
2-3 red potatoes, diced (about 1 1/2 cup)
4 large carrots, peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 stalks celery, chopped
1 8 oz package sliced mushrooms
1 small to medium zucchini, sliced

For the sauce:
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup all-purpose flour
2 ½ cups chicken broth
½ cup heavy cream (I just used milk, less fat)
Dash of hot sauce
Dash of Worcestershire
Salt and pepper

2 sheets frozen puff pastry
1 egg white, lightly beaten

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a 9x13 pan. Set out frozen puff pastry on counter to thaw.

To make the filling, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and potato to the pan, and sauté for about 5 minutes. Mix in the garlic, celery, zucchini and mushrooms, and cook for about 15 minutes more, until the potatoes are tender. Once the vegetables are finished cooking, turn off the heat and mix in the chicken. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add the flour and whisk until smooth (it will be sort of a paste). Whisk in the chicken broth and cook over medium heat until it thickens to the consistency of a cream soup. Mix in the cream, the hot sauce, the Worcestershire and season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the cream sauce over the chicken and veggie mixture and stir to combine well.

Pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Lay puff pastry sheets over filling, and brush with beaten egg white. (This ensures a nice golden shiny crust.) Place pan on a rimmed baking sheet in case it bubbles over while baking. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown.

Recipe adapted from Annie's Eats.