Friday, January 24, 2014

DIY: The Best Dinner In The History Of The World

There’s this dinner that I make.

I make it when I need an ego boost.  When I’m tired of fighting over what’s for dinner.  When I’m awfully low, when I’m feeling cold, I will feel a glow just thinking of it.

Wait a minute.

Anyway, my husband and I have somehow raised picky eaters.  Not picky in terms of will only eat tater tots and chicken strips picky.  I’m talking food critic picky.  I’m not sure how two garbage eaters, people who have such low standards of food quality that we once ate an entire gas station pizza off the bed in a roadside motel, could have produced children with such high-level palates.

Take last night, for instance.  I made a potato dish that took an hour and a half from start to finish.  And this was just the side dish.  The aroma was mouth-watering, the taste delectable and perfect.  The kids eyeballed it, inquired about the ingredients, and tasted it delicately as if deciphering whether I used sea salt or table.  My son declared “This has wine in it,” and pushed it away, and my daughter picked at hers, finally stating, “I’m not a fan of the flavors in this.”

Lest you think that I am a hack in the kitchen, I most decidedly am not.  I win rave reviews for most of the food I prepare – from others, just not my children.

So you see why I might need a go-to meal, one that I can depend on to catapult me into the stratosphere, or at least earn the title of Best Cook in their eyes.

It’s not hotdogs, nor tacos, nor McDonald’s.  It contains more fresh vegetables than most any other meal I create, with the exception of Big Salad With Croutons.  It contains lean meat, a light sauce, and despite all the chopping is relatively quick to get on the table.

It’s called – get ready for it: The Best Chicken Stir-Fry in the History of The World.

I know what you’re thinking: what is this exotic-sounding dish?  It sounds complex. Well, it’s not.  Listen up, special friend: even you can do this.

So grab your shopping list, because here it comes.

The Best Chicken Stir-Fry in the History of The World

Ingredients:

1 T. vegetable oil. You can use any type of oil here.  I use veg, because it says veg.  But once I used olive, and no one was the wiser.  Except for me, who is always the wiser.

Half a head of green cabbage, chopped.  You know what I do with the other half?  Well, sometimes I make coleslaw, which my children love.  Kids aren’t supposed to like coleslaw, I know.  We’ve already established that my kids are weird.  When I’m super mad at them I just throw the other half of cabbage in the trash and say, “Watch this, brats!  No coleslaw for you!!”  No, ha ha, I don’t do that.  I take it out back and feed it to the wild rabbits.

This monster ate a whole half a cabbage that I refused to feed to my kids.

1 small zucchini, sliced, and slices cut in half.  Those are some pretty specific cutting instructions, eh?  Yes, they are.  You want to hit this out of the park or don’t you?  Cut it like I said.

1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized chunks, or sliced, whichever you prefer.  RBP is one of my favorite vegetables.  Don’t know why I said that, or why you’d care.  Just thought I’d throw it out there.  Send me red bell peppers.

1 carrot, sliced.  Be a man and use a real carrot, not the baby kind.  Do you know what baby carrots are?  They are adult carrots that were subject to a kind of crushing water torture to strip them of their size and skin to appear small.  You can go for the babies, but I don’t.  I don’t like not knowing what was in the water that tortured my carrots into submission.  FYI:  buying baby carrots is like saying that carrot abuse is okay.  It’s a social issue.

1 medium onion, cut into chunks, or sliced.  I hate cutting onions.  They really do make me cry.  The best part of cutting onions is that my kids stare into my face to see if I am crying.  One day my daughter asked me if onions make me cry for real, as if there’s a chemical in them that triggers sadness.  Because I always jump at the chance to educate my children in the ways of the world, I seized this teachable moment and said yes, darling, they do.

You may have noticed that this picture does not include all the ingredients in the recipe.
It's because I didn't actually make this meal for this post.*
That's right.  It's how I roll.
Use your imagination for the ingredients that are missing.
Better yet, why don't you stop being so perfect all the time.

2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, cut into 1-inch chunks.  Alternately, use about 2 ½ cups of shredded cooked chicken.  A rotisserie chicken works well here.  Seriously.  It’s just chicken.  You shouldn’t really make it complicated.

We’re almost done.  It sounds like a lot, but don’t wimp out now.

½-1 c. bottled stir-fry sauce.  BA-BAM!  It’s a shortcut.  I don’t know what’s in stir-fry sauce.  I don’t want to know.  It’s in the International section of my grocery store, along with things like rice and beans.  Because we live in the rural Northeast, where things like rice and beans are International but things like pickled pigs’ feet are right in there with the regular canned meats.  I don’t pretend to know the secrets of the universe.

½-1 t. ground ginger.  This is the money ingredient.  I’m not sure what that means.

White or brown rice, cooked separately.  Cook as much as you and your hog family eats.  Ours, while only containing four people, is a huge hog family.  My daughter and I can destroy 3 or 4 cups of white rice because we have extreme starch and carbohydrate syndrome.  It's totally a thing.

Not nearly enough rice for us.  Or me.

OPTIONAL:  Any combination of the following: water chestnuts, bean sprouts, baby corns, or any traditional add-in that you find in International.  I’m not crazy about bamboo shoots, but I imagine they would be delicious here also if they float your particular boat. 

Toppings: You can get some chow mein noodles to sprinkle over the top after cooking.   Sometimes we use them, and sometimes I eat the entire can of chow mein noodles as a bedtime snack.  Or chop up some (unsalted) peanuts or cashews to top it JEEZ do I have to mention everything that goes with this dish?

OK – let’s cook this shizz.

Instructions:

1. First, get a wok or your largest pan or skillet.  If you haven’t figured it out by now, there are a lot of ingredients here.  You have to cook them all together.  Get your big pan.  We have a wok, which has two uses: 1) this stir fry 2) holding Halloween candy on trick or treat night.  Guess what we will NEVER have for dinner on Halloween?  OMG you’re a genius.

Do you see it?  It's the one on the left.  BOOM.  Multi-tasking mother of kitchen equipment.

2. Heat the oil in your pan or wok.  Add half of all the veggies (including any optional International ingredients).  Stir-fry for a few minutes until veggies are crisp-tender but not mushy, unless you like mushy then you are a weirdo.  When you’ve finished cooking those, remove them from the pan and add the other half and cook them the same way.  You may have to use more oil.  I always do.  Maybe you overdid it your first go-round and don’t need more.  That’s okay too.  I can’t help it if you’ve got a heavy hand with the oil bottle.  I’d rather you have a heavy hand with the wine bottle when you’re pouring me a glass, but let’s talk about that later, shall we?  Remove the second batch of veggies from the wok.

Oh, you are a peach.
Just leave the bottle, please.

3. Add chicken to the wok.  Stir-fry it until it is cooked through – that means no pink, unless you like salmonella.  When I use already-cooked chicken, I still heat it in the wok because I'm wild like that.  I usually just push it around the wok a little until it becomes hot.  When chicken is cooked, push it away from the center of the wok and add the stir-fry sauce and ginger.  Stir it until it bubbles, and then dump the veggies back into the wok and mix it all together until heated through.

4. Serve it over hot cooked rice, and sprinkle with the crunchy toppings.  My kids always insist on soy sauce or they just add more stir-fry sauce to their servings because they are insane about the sauce.

Enjoy this meal as your go-to on nights when nothing is going your way, or when everyone wants Chinese takeout but you’ve blown the food budget on new underwear and bras.  You’ll eat this for days because it is a ton of food. You’ll also eat it for days because it is delicious.

*I realize that not actually making this dish to go along with the post is a recipe post no-no.  However, I would like to defend my position by saying that I write extremely detailed recipes and you probably don’t need pictures anyway.  Plus, this dish, although The Best, kind of looks like garbage when it is all finished.  Bon Appetit!

*******

This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt 2: Share a recipe that everyone in your family loves.

32 comments:

  1. I have one very important word to share with you here: MUSHROOMS!!!!!

    That is all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That IS a good word - thank you!! My fungi-loving children would approve, too. I told you they are weird.

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  2. I'm Chinese so I like anything stir fry.
    What? #StereotypingSelf
    I like your recipes. Not least because there's "weirdo" in there. Heh.

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    1. Thanks Alison!

      I don't think it's bad to stereotype about food at all. I like spaghetti and I'm American. What?

      Delete
  3. This DOES sound amazing!

    (And I'm dying at your kids' commentary and the motel/gas station pizza!)

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    1. Thank, Galit! My kids - they don't even try to be food snobs. My son rolls the food around in his mouth to figure out all the tastes he likes/doesn't like. There is much sniffing and licking at the table. Our table manners lessons go way beyond "elbows off."

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  4. And now I want stir fry. (Although my little food critics are not fans of it - they prefer everything separate.)
    We are also enjoy the extra sauce on our not-mixed-together, separately stir fried rice and accompaniments.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Our daughter is a separate-foods eater, too, but she loves this dish (and any Chinese food, for that matter). I've even served this to my children's picky friends and even my ultra-picky nephew, who ate it without fanfare.

      Delete
  5. My husband says I'm a culinary pig, because I can't even distinguish 1% from 2% milk...
    Your recipe sounds great and I think I will make my husband cook it (because obviously someone who's a culinary pig can't cook. (Winning))

    ReplyDelete
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    1. I often regret my choice to be the cook in the family. I love to cook, but loathe the question: What's for dinner? There's usually something that warrants a discussion. I know I'm not alone in this.

      Delete
  6. I want my children to be food critics. Or at least children who eat what I make for dinner instead of pouting that it's not Mac & Cheese again.

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    1. Ha ha - ours are similar, except I get more questions along the lines of: "Any chunks of tomatoes in here?" "Is there wine in it?" "Have we eaten this before?" and "Where's the meat?"

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  7. That does sound good (of course, so does the gas station pizza!!).
    I like your directions and recipe - and think that I could totally handle it.
    It does crack me up that you have little foodies!!! If I ever cook with wine or beer I have to make sure my oldest (15) doesn't see it because he would not eat it!! I'm all for his decision to never drink (more for me!) but it cracks me up that he doesn't like me to cook with it!

    ReplyDelete
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    1. What is up with these kids not eating anything that has booze in it? I explain to them that the alcohol cooks away, but they still don't care. My son will walk through the door from school and say "Are you cooking with wine AGAIN?" What a prude.

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  8. I love your sense of humor. Also I want you to come cook dinner for me sometime. I'll provide the wine. We'll drink a toast after Cuppie is born. Also also, it made me kind of laugh that your kids are such food critics. Mine are, sigh, just the picky type you described first. But I'm working on 'em!

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    1. I would love to make dinner for you, Sarah! I might ask you to help, but that's half the fun of it. Plus if we drink wine we won't care what it looks like. My kids - not sure what happened there. May Cupcake be your easy eater. :)

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  9. When I read the title and saw the candy picture, I didn't think there was actually going to be a recipe in this post...

    Your kids are weirdos, and so are mine (but for entirely different food reasons). My husband is the weirdest, though. I've never added ginger to stir fry but now really feel like I have to.

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    1. Ha ha Greta! I guess it kind of does seems that I am promoting candy as the best dinner. Which is actually a true statement. :) Add the ginger! You'll love it!

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  10. I desperately need a new recipe that's a winner to spice up my rotation of losers. Gonna try it.

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    1. When you make it, I hope you get rave reviews from your family! Or at least less gagging.

      Delete
  11. I want to sit in a corner of your house with a big grin just waiting for the comic gold to spill out of your mouth. I won't even need to be fed!

    PS. Thanks for joining my Q&A so I don't look like a COMPLETE loser. :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're in the kitchen when I'm cooking, there will be so much giggling that nothing would get done and we'd have to order takeout.

      You're welcome about the Q&A. Though I didn't have any questions to ask. Not right now, anyway.

      Delete
  12. Nice! I only make food that looks like garbage. I never did understand proper presentation. And I write a recipe post once every full moon when something inexplicable comes over me.

    Love the humor! You're a natural. Glad I came here from Jennie's blog.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Hillary, and welcome! I love writing recipe posts, although coming up with pictures is a challenge if you don't actually make the recipe.

      Pshaw to proper food presentation. We all know that food eventually looks terrible when it gets around to being eaten. Why try to make it look pretty? Hmmm I think now I know why my kids are so suspicious of my cooking.

      Delete
  13. The best dishes ALWAYS look like garbage in real life. Although, I'm kind impartial to the wok of Halloween candy for dinner. Can we just do that?

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    1. Well, that's funny, because on Halloween we often do only eat candy for dinner. And sometimes the random Sunday. Oh lookie here. Today's Sunday!

      Delete
  14. This looks good. I'm totally going to make it.

    And this is how recipe posts should be written. A little humour, a little description, a lack of "perfect" photos of the finished product. I can live up to that!

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    1. You should totally make it. You won't be disappointed. Thanks for the kind words. If I couldn't have fun in the kitchen, nobody would eat anything home-cooked around here.

      Although most of the time, they're okay with that.

      Delete
  15. You are hilarious, lady! Love this post. I love stir-fries too and of course deep fried.
    Yum :D

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    1. Thanks, Maureen! I love everything deep fried, too. I went to Puerto Rico a few years ago and everything there was fried. I was in heaven.

      Delete
  16. Your recipes are so delicious (in *every* sense of the word - like FUNNY-delicious in case you didn't get what I meant) I almost want to cook them.

    Almost.

    p.s. I hate to cook. In case you didn't get what I meant.
    p.s.s. Not that I think you aren't smart enough to get what I meant. You're just probably busy cutting zucchini.

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    1. Thanks, Julie!

      I got what you were throwing out there, no offense taken at all. And it's okay. The world needs eaters just as much as it needs cookers.

      Unless you don't like to eat either, then I'm suspicious and will probably show up at your house with a wok full of chow just to test my theory that you might be an alien.

      I don't know what I'm saying. Look away. xoxo

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