Spicy Chili Chicken

Honestly, no matter how hard I try to eat healthy food, there comes a time (more often than I would like) when I just crave the comfort of something spicy, yummy, finger-licking, lip smacking good, yet come with a not so healthy label. One of those dishes is chili chicken.

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I am sure there are as many variations of the dish as there are cooks and kitchens. So, this recipe is of course an original concocted in my kitchen, and enjoyed my many.

(Disclaimer: I did not intend to really post this recipe, so I did not take too many pictures! Talking about pictures, I need to “grow” some patience to fiddle with the settings on my Galaxy or use an actual camera! One of these days! Anyway, the taste and flavor profile of the dish convinced me to take couple of quick pictures to actually post this recipe!)

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This dish, unlike some other recipes you might have seen online is very straightforward. Ingredients are just chicken, few basic spices, lots of cayenne powder, a splash of apple cider vinegar and a coating of Thai sweet soy sauce. That’s it guys! So, you ask me what makes this slip from the relatively healthy domain into the not so healthy one…well, it’s kind of the liberal use of oil and cornstarch. You could definitely cut down on the oil and cornstarch or completely eliminate the latter, but the texture will be a bit different. So, I suggest you try the recipe as is the first time and tweak for the subsequent tries – because I know you will want to make it again!

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Spicy Chili Chicken

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients:
8 chicken thighs, bone in (you can use boneless as well)
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 tablespoons ground cayenne (or to taste)
1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
6 cloves of garlic, minced or grated finely
4-6 Thai chili peppers or other spicy pepper like jalapeno, sliced lengthwise
1 sprig of curry leaves (if available)
3 tablespoons canola or other light flavored oil
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1 – 2 tablespoons sweet Thai soy sauce

Preparation:
1. Remove skin of the chicken, and cut into 4 or 5 pieces. Place in a large bowl.
2. Add all spices, through garlic to the chicken and mix thoroughly to coat. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
3. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. To this, add the chili and curry leaves, if using. Toss in oil for few seconds.
4. Add the chicken, mix well, cover and cook under high heat for 15 minutes, turning the chicken pieces occasionally.
5. Sprinkle the cornstarch. Mix well to coat.
6. Cover the pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes, turning occasionally. By now, the chicken pieces will be cooked all the way through and there will not be any liquid remaining. If there is some liquid remaining, remove lid, reduce heat and continue to cook till the all liquid evaporates.
7. Add the soy sauce and toss well. Cook for another 2 minutes.

The chicken can be served as an appetizer (a welcome change from chicken wings) or with steamed rice or noodles and veggies for a complete meal. And, oh, the chicken tastes great cold too.

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Spicy and Tangy Tofu Stir Fry

Hello friends!

I failed yet again at my promise to self to keep up with the blog. Too many roadblocks along the way, but I will at least try to post a new recipe whenever I can.

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So, couple of weeks ago, I tried this truly delicious bean curd stir fry with plenty of veggies coated in a delectable sweet-spicy-tangy sauce. That dish used fried bean curds that were kind of squishy and strangely airy. While I enjoyed every bite, I did feel a little overwhelmed with the amount of sliced onions in it. As I was silently chewing every bite, I tried to make a mental note, no, no, more like a package of memory filled with the taste, smell and texture of each bite. Why you ask? Well, I do that quite often, at least as often as I try a bite of a new dish somewhere that I would like to recreate with my own little twist.

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Today would have been the perfect day to succumb to the comfort of eating that dish for lunch. Alas, we were hit with the biggest snowstorm of the season and the family was home-bound. Even though I had already prepared meals ready to be warmed for lunch, something in me kept nudging me to open the refrigerator and take out the ingredients to whip up some spicy and tangy tofu stir fry.

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Little bit of this, little bit of that and before I knew it, a super satisfying, flavor-rich tofu dish was born!

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Spicy and Tangy Tofu Stir Fry

  • Servings: 4-6
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Ingredients
1 Pkg extra-firm tofu
3 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon Thai red curry paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
3 tablespoons finely chopped garlic, divided
3 green onions, green part finely sliced and divided
¼ cup oil
4 oz sliced white or baby bella mushrooms
3 cups broccoli florets
½ cup sliced red onion
Few dried red chillis
Sauce:
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon Sriracha sauce
1 tablespoon cornstarch

Preparation:
1. Cut tofu into bite size pieces. Toss with cornstarch.
2. Mix the curry paste, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar and garlic. Coat tofu cubes in the sauce and set aside for 10 minutes.
3. While tofu is marinating, prepare the vegetables.
4. Mix the ingredients for the sauce and set aside.
5. Heat a large wok or frying pan over medium high heat and add oil.
6. Fry the tofu cubes till golden brown and let drain on paper towel.
7. When all the tofu is fried, drain excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon in the pan.
8. Saute the reserved garlic, red chilli and onion.
9. Add the mushrooms and broccoli and flash cook for another 3 minutes or so.
10. Toss in the fried tofu pieces and top with the reserved sauce.
11. Stir and continue to cook till the sauce thickens and coats the vegetables and tofu.
Serve the stir fry with steamed rice or over cooked rice noodles.

Easy Basil Fried Rice

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I love food! I guess that’s quite obvious by now! But seriously, I do enjoy a variety of cuisine – sambols and rotis from my homeland, Sri Lanka, pasta dishes characteristic of Italy, slow rendered duck breast and macarons from France, tacos and fajitas from south of the border, curries and rice dishes from India, Pakistan, China, Thailand….And the list goes on!

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Each cuisine is unique and unparalleled with incredible flavor combinations, textures, colors and taste! I have a bit of a special fondness for Thai dishes – perhaps it’s the coconut milk and ample use of green chili. So, I had this craving for a yummy Thai fried rice, but without having to go for takeout.

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I was pretty sure I had the basic ingredients handy – basil, fish sauce, palm sugar, rice, eggs and a medley of vegetables. A quick look through the refrigerator and pantry confirmed my hunch! So, after perusing through a few recipes for inspiration, I decided to use my own pseudo blend of Thai seasonings! I figured even it didn’t taste Thai at all, it will still be pretty darn good. And good it was! In fact, it was probably better than good. My family loved it and both my kids (one who hates fish sauce and the other who has a pretty discerning taste for fried rice) actually verbally acknowledged that the rice was good. That, in my books, is a pretty big win!

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This rice is especially good, made with a day old rice kept in the refrigerator. If you are like me and have a freshly cooked batch, just spread 2 cups of the cooked rice on a plate and chill till you prepare the ingredients. It worked fine. I think day-old rice just helps to keep the kernels separate – like in restaurants.

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Easy Basil Fried Rice

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
2 cups cooked rice, preferably a day old kept overnight in the refrigerator
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cups of chopped vegetables of your choice (I used carrots, onions, savoy cabbage and celery)
2 eggs
1/4 cup roughly chopped basil leaves

Seasoning:
1 tablespoon fish sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon minced ginger
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons ketchup (I used tomato sauce)
1 tablespoon sugar (I used palm sugar)
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
Sprinkling of crushed red peppers, optional

Preparation
1. In a small bowl, combine all the seasoning ingredients. Set aside.
2. Heat a large saute pan or wok over high heat. Add the oil and saute the vegetables for 3-5 minutes.
3. Add the rice and seasoning mix. Toss to mix thoroughly. Spread the rice and vegetables across the pan to allow them “fry” a bit more” – another 3 minutes or so.
4. Push the rice and vegetables to the edge of the pan, creating a well in the center for the eggs.
5. Lightly beat the eggs and pour in the center of the pan. Let set and scramble. Mix the egg with the rice and vegetables.
6. Remove from heat and serve with meat or vegetable stir fry and/or an Asian cucumber salad.

Cajun Style Rice with Chicken Sausage

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I am one of those people who loves to use up leftovers fast. If I don’t plan to use them in the next day or two, I promptly freeze them up for the following week or so. Both options come in handy when I am looking for a quick meal idea.

And that’s exactly how this recipe was born! I had cooked brown rice in the refrigerator and also some leftover coconut milk. I also had a package of lean apple chicken sausage. I used to prepare more dishes with sausages but have cut down to using occasional chicken or turkey sausages. They are very handy to use in pasta or rice dishes and I usually have a package on hand.

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This recipe utilizes the basic trinity – bell peppers, onions and celery along with kidney beans. It was a snap to put together and tasted so delicious that I will certainly make it again for a planned meal as well.

Cajun Style Rice with Chicken Sausage

  • Servings: 4
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Ingredients
1 1/2 cups of cooked brown rice
1 can of kidney beans (or other bean of your choice)
1 pkg chicken sausage
1/2 cup chopped green peppers
1/2 cup chopped red peppers
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/4 cup chopped red onions
1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
1/2 cup tomato sauce
3 tablespoons unsweetened coconut milk
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
1/2 avocado, sliced thin

Preparation
1. Slice the sausages into bite size pieces.
2. Heat the oil in a skillet and sauté all the chopped vegetables, including garlic.
3. Add the sausages and sauté for few minutes.
4. Add tomato sauce and thyme and simmer for 3-5 minutes.
5. Mix in the beans and rice.
6. Season to taste with salt. Be careful as tomato sauce and the sausage already add good amount of salt.
7. When the rice and beans and heated through with rest of the ingredients, gently stir in the coconut mil.
8. Serve immediately wit sliced avocado.