Category: Leftovers

Typically I’d agree with my friend’s assessment of homemade Chinese food: “Homemade is never as good as the restaurant!” Typically. But recently I made this Orange Chicken and I think it really IS as good as the restaurant version!

Orange ChickenI’m a sauce girl. It has to be good, and there has to be plenty! No skimping on the sauce – I want to drench my rice or pasta in it! Well, this sauce is near perfect. It’s got great flavor, and with this recipe, there’s plenty of it. The recipe only calls for 2 chicken breasts but there was enough sauce for 3 good-sized chicken breasts or 4 small ones.

The original recipe includes a recipe for fried rice. I’m lazy and I really wanted pasta that evening so I made orzo instead. Honestly, I liked the orzo better than rice, but I have never really a big rice fan.

The recipe, the way it’s written, is delicious but takes some time and the frying makes a mess! I consolidated some steps when I made it, and next time I’ll make an even  more streamlined version. I liked the heat of the dish, but if you don’t tolerate spiciness it can be toned down, so don’t let this recipe scare you off! See the tips below for a simpler recipe and for a milder version.

Streamlined Version

I followed the recipe and fried my chicken. I won’t lie. It was good, but it made a mess! I know the restaurant version is fried but if you’re pressed for time or you don’t eat fried food, you could skip the breading and frying part. Sautee your chicken in a little oil, use 3-4 cups of a rotisserie chicken, 3-4 breasts of baked or broiled chicken, or even leftover turkey. It’ll be faster and healthier!

Less Spicy Version

I never seem to get the heat of cayenne correct and this was no exception. I had no idea what the peppers are that were called for in the recipe, so I substituted 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne pepper. I would have used crushed red pepper flakes but I didn’t have any in my pantry. I used fresh ginger which I grated directly into the pan – without measuring – so it’s hard to say how much of the kick came from the cayenne and how much came from the ginger. Maybe I should have measured. Nah!  😉   It had a pretty good bite to it. Not unbearable, but it would have been too spicy for someone who doesn’t like spicy food. Anyway, if you don’t like ginger, don’t have fresh ginger, or don’t want all the bite, you can substitute ground ginger. It still provides flavor, but it doesn’t have the bite of fresh ginger root.

Orange Chicken

Adapted from Tasty Kitchen

Stuff you need:

3 whole boneless, skinless chicken breasts or alternate as suggested in the Streamlined Version notes above
¼ cup cornstarch [if you are frying the chicken]
Salt and pepper
1 cup fresh orange juice [I used a good bottled orange juice.]
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons lime juice
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
2 Tablespoons rice wine vinegar
3 strips orange zest – 1″ wide by 2″ tall OR 1 Tablespoon grated orange peel
½ cups lightly packed brown sugar
½ teaspoons fresh minced or grated ginger (optional)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons light soy sauce
4 whole dried red chilies, broken in half OR 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
2 Tablespoons cornstarch, for the slurry
2 Tablespoons water, for the slurry
Cooked rice or noodles

Now what?

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat about an inch of vegetable or canola oil to about 375F.
In a large zip top bag, combine the cornstarch, salt and pepper. Add the chicken chunks and seal the bag. Toss to coat completely.
Add the coated chicken to the hot oil in two or three batches. Cook until lightly golden and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 F. Transfer the cooked chicken to a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Hold the chicken in the oven or microwave, covered.
Drain the oil from the pan but don’t wash it.
In the same saucepan over medium heat, combine the water, orange juice, lime juice, lemon juice, vinegar, orange zest, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, and dry chilies. Stir to combine and stir the bottom of the pan to dredge up the leftover chicken bits.
Bring mixtsure to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low and let the sauce reduce by 1/3. [This step is VERY important. If you don’t let the ginger and garlic cook, you will have very raw flavors, not the mellowed-out flavor that the simmering brings about.]
In a small bowl, prepare the slurry by combining the cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour the mixture into the sauce and whisk until the sauce thickens. If it doesn’t thicken up, make more slurry and add it a bit at a time until the sauce is thick.
Add the chicken and heat through. Remove from heat and serve over rice or noodles.

I love macaroni and cheese, but had never made a good one from scratch. I know there are lots of recipes online, and several of them claim to be “the best” ever. I’m sure I’d enjoy trying some of them, but maybe another time. I love the classic macaroni and cheese and wanted a “tried and true” recipe.Classic Macaroni & Cheese

We were talking about food at work and somehow the subject landed on macaroni and cheese. My friend Stephanie said her Grandmother McNeil in Topeka makes great mac & cheese, and she offered to share the recipe. Well I jumped on that offer and I’m glad I did!

This is the classic macaroni and cheese. No foo-foo here. No bacon, peas, pickles, truffles or other creative ingredients. Just a basic white sauce, elbow macaroni, and lots of delicious, gooey, sharp cheddar cheese.

Bottom line: this is exactly what I was looking for!

I served this with a nice ham when all the kids and grandkids were home Thanksgiving weekend. I made a double-batch to make sure there was enough, and was very happy to find I had leftovers! Note: If you’re re-heating your leftovers, you might want to add a little milk before you heat it up so it’s still creamy.

A huge Thank You to Stephanie and Grandmother McNeil for sharing this recipe! It’s delicious and will be one of my favorites for years to come.

Grandmother McNeil’s Classic Macaroni & Cheese

Stuff you need:

2 cups uncooked macaroni (I used the classic elbow macaroni)

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 cups milk

2 cups grated sharp cheddar cheese

Now what?

Cook macaroni according to directions.

Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once melted, add flour, salt and pepper. Stir until the consistency is smooth.

Slowly pour the milk in while stirring. Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture thickens, stirring frequently.

Once the milk mixture is thick enough (to your liking), add the shredded cheese and stir until fully melted.

Add the drained macaroni to the pan and stir until nicely coated.

Pour mac & cheese into greased casserole dish.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 30+ minutes until golden brown. Can take up to 45 minutes if you like it really brown on top.

I got this recipe from my friend, Stacy. It’s not the typical white chicken chili that I’ve had before, but it’s really good. And its super-simple. You put everything in the crockpot and turn it on. That’s it!

Making a double batch!

I made a double batch so I could have some for myself and sent the rest with The Pretty One. If you make a double batch, make sure you have a large crock pot – mine’s a 5-Qt. and you can see how full it was.You can start with frozen or fresh chicken. If you don’t like corn (you know who you are, NM!), you can leave it out. If you do that, I suggest adding more beans – probably navy beans or white kidney beans. Rinse and drain them, and add about 1/2 a can of water to replace the corn liquid.

While I found the chili to be nicely seasoned, if you like a hotter chili use the hot Rotel instead of mild, or add some chopped fresh jalapenos to the mix. Click for recipe.

Don’t worry about putting the cream cheese in with everything else – it’ll be fine. However, if you’re going to leave this to cook much more than 8 hours, you might want to wait and stir it in right before serving.

Load up the crock pot before you leave for work, and when you get home, dinner’s ready. Simple, right?

My Christmas Day Honey Oatmeal Bread was delicious! After I sent a loaf home with The Pretty One I was left with half a loaf. I rarely eat sandwiches but wasn’t going to waste all that goodness. So what to do with my leftovers? If you’re lucky enough to have any, I’ve got a couple of ideas you might enjoy.

I’ve always loved French Toast and I thought the slightly sweet, dense bread would make a delicious breakfast. I like incorporating Wheat Germ in my French Toast or pancakes for the added health benefits, as well as the nutty flavor. When it’s sprinkled on, as opposed to mixed in, it toasts up nicely during the cooking process. So for the French Toast, I mixed up my eggs and cinnamon, dipped my bread, sprinkled some wheat germ on it, then put it on a hot griddle. (Click for recipe.)

Honey Oatmeal Wheat Germ French Toast hides under peanut butter & fresh fruit.

When it was perfectly toasted, I spread it with peanut butter, my favorite French Toast topping. I like how the saltiness of the peanut butter complements the sweetness of the cinnamon. Most of the time I eat pb&j on my French Toast, but having just purchased a variety of fresh fruit, I was excited to use that. I made a layered delight of French Toast, peanut butter, sliced banana, fresh strawberries, pomegranate seeds, and chia seeds (oops – not in the photo!). Was it good? Oh, yeah! Will I make it again? Definitely!!

Ha! Should have taken a picture before I ate half the croutons!

 After making French Toast I still had part of a loaf left. I like big, fat croutons on my salads, but those are hard to come by in the stores. Besides, homemade is better, right? I cut the bread into chunks, tossed it with a little oil, sprinkled on some sea salt, and popped them into the oven. Oh, the smell! I couldn’t wait to put those on my spinach salad!

The combination of the sweet bread and light sprinkling of sea salt was delicious! In fact, I liked it so much I kept eating the croutons straight out of the pan. Looks like I need to make some more bread so I can have more croutons! Maybe I’ll try some rye bread next.