Chicken Stir Fry

As stated in my last post, this week I am going to be focusing on East Asian cuisine. I started this week by making a chicken stir fry. I looked at recipes, and ultimately made up my own recipe.

My recipe is as follows:

2 carrots

1/2 cup of broccoli

1/2 cup of peppers (yellow/orange/red/green, your choice)

1/3 cup of cucumber

4 oz of chicken (rough estimate)

1/3 cup of onions

Ginger

pepper

1/2 tablespoon soy sauce (less if that’s what you prefer)

 

I started by cutting up all my vegetables. I sliced my carrots, cucumber, onion and cut up my broccoli and peppers. Then I sliced my chicken into thin, but not too thin slices. I first added the carrots, broccoli, and onions to the work, because they take the longest to cook. This is my first time using a wok, and wow it’s really amazing, but more on that later. Then I added the chicken. Next was the cucmber and peppers. And finally the ginger. I let it cook until the chicken looked thoroughly cooked, constantly stirring. Lastly I added the pepper and soy sauce, but I used less than 1/2 tablespoon because I didn’t want it to be too salty.

Cooking

Cooking

 

Attempting to flip

Attempting to flip

 

The dish came out great! I completely made this dish on my own and it turned out awesome! I cooked up a bit of brown rice and placed my stir fry on top of it in a bowl. I still have to work on my flipping skills. While I really enjoyed using this stir fry pan, it was a bit too heavy to flip.

 

 

 

 

 

Grades:

Health: A. The chicken is a great source of protein and it is full of veggies. The only thing to watch out for is the salt, but just don’t use too much soy sauce

Taste: B+. It’s a bit bland. Next time I add more spices to make it a bit more lively.

Price: A-. Surprisingly, the vegetables were not too expensive, but unfortunately most of them are not in season, so I could not buy them at the farmer’s market. Still, I can make multiple servings and with the amount of vegetables I purchased, I can probably make at least 6 portions.

Overall: A. This is a great dish, and can have as many or a few vegetables as you like. Try it out for yourself and maybe try it with some different sauces!

Finished dish. Stir fry over rice

Finished dish. Stir fry over rice

 

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Week 4: General Tso’s Chicken (and Other East Asian Dishes!)

Today I started off my week by seeing The Search for General Tso’s at the Tribeca Film Festival. I am very interested in making East Asian foods, so that is what I am going to be focusing on this week.

I’ve honestly only had General Tso’s chicken once or twice in my life. I prefer to have authentic Chinese food in Chinatown, but if I go out for Americanized Chinese food, I usually get sesame chicken. While I went into this movie thinking it was just going to be about how General Tso’s is made, I was pleasantly surprised to get a nice history and cultural information about it.

One line in the film was about how General Tso’s is like gaining an “invitation into the world.” I really have never thought about food in this way, but it really is true. Food can tell so much about a culture, including the agriculture, nutrition and values. After seeing this movie, I feel like I have a newfound interest in the culture and background of food. It was so interesting to “walk” through the various Chinese dishes, such as Chop Suey, and see how they evolved into what we see as General Tso’s today.

While General Tso’s is now considered American-Chinese food, it was created by a Chinese man in China. Although the dish has changed dramatically since then, it is interesting to notice how the dish has evolved, and even more interesting to examine what kinds of dishes are popular in the United States (mostly consisting of sugar, salt and fat).

I really enjoyed this movie and I think it was a great way to start my week. This week I will indeed by concocting my own General Tso’s chicken as well as a homemade stir fry and some simple sushi. I may also try to recreate an East Asian dessert! I have never made any of these dishes before, and I am very excited to be trying them out. I hope they will taste as well as I imagine they will!

Macaroons

I basically figured out this recipe on my own after looking at many different recipes for inspiration. I wanted to make macaroons with the least amount of ingredients as possible and cut down on the sugar.

Ultimately I used this recipe:

2/3 cup of sugar

5 Egg whites

6-8 oz of shredded coconut

1/2 tsp almond extract

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

That’s it! Pretty simple!

I started by combining the egg whites, sugar and coconut, stirring periodically until the coconut was completely covered. Then I put the coconut into the bowl added the almond extract and vanilla extract. I stirred the coconut together and then put the bowl into the fridge. It is important to put it into the fridge so it’s easier to work with when making the macaroons.

I came back a couple of hours later and preheated the oven to 325 degrees. Then I prepared the baking sheet with parchment paper. Then I put small balls of the mixture onto a baking sheet and baked them for about 25 minutes. My recipe yielded 24 macaroons.

I am very happy with how they came out. They were my most successful dish this week and tasted delicious. Next time I would probably use even less sugar. When they were warm, they were divine.

Grades:

Health: B. Compared to regular, store bought macaroons these are healthier. But still, they are a dessert and contain a lot of sugar.

Taste: A. Not much to say except I absolutely love these. I tried them side-by-side with store bought macaroons. The difference is huge!

Price: A. So much cheaper than buying store bought ones. The bag of shredded coconut I purchased was 2 dollars. The other ingredients are pretty inexpensive as well.

Overal: A-. I not only would make these again, but I definitely will!

Matzo Ball Soup

In order to prepare for Passover week, I decided I would start by making matzo ball soup. I found a great recipe online that I tweeked a bit for my liking.

The recipe from Skinny Kitchen:

¼ cup club soda

1 tablespoon canola oil

2 large eggs, I used Eggland’s Best eggs

⅔ cup matzo meal

1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

I only used this recipe for the matzo balls and used my own recipe for the soup. I like a simple soup, so I just used chicken broth, carrots, celery, and pepper.

Matzo ball mixture

Matzo ball mixture

I started making the matzo balls by combining club soda, oil and eggs. I used a little bit more club soda than stated in the recipe and used organic sunflower oil instead of canola oil. I used some fresh pasture eggs from the farmer’s market. Then I added the matzo meal, dill, salt and pepper. I went heavier on the dill because matzo balls tend to be a bit bland.

I kept the mix in the fridge for a couple of hours while I went out. When I returned, I immediately began to boil a large pot of water. I waited for a rolling boil and then added the balls. Because I was making my own soup, I cooked the balls in a slightly different manner than in the recipe I was originally following. I read through a few of my mom’s Jewish cookbooks and found out that it is best to cook them for 20 minutes covered. So I

Cooking matzo balls

Cooking matzo balls

went ahead and cooked them on low heat for about 20 minutes.

While I was cooking the matzo balls, I heated up my own soup in another pot. I also cut up some carrots and celery and added salt. I let it boil and then poured it into two bowls. One for my mother and one for me. I added two to three matzo balls to each bowl and started to eat. The matzo balls were pretty good. I would make this recipe again, but next time I would cook the matzo balls for at least half an hour. They seemed dense and I don’t know if that is because of the cooking time or not enough club soda. Still, I am happy with the way these came out.

Yum!

Yum!

Grades:

Heath: A-. Pretty good. Soup has vegetables and is filling, but doesn’t have many calories. The only problem is the extreme amounts of salt in the broth. Next time I may try a lower sodium broth.

Taste: A-. Good, but I wish the matzo balls were just a bit more fluffy.

Cost: A. All of the ingredients, in both the matzo balls and the broth, are very inexpensive.

Overall: A-.  I would definitely make this again.

Week 3

This week is going to be a little different. I am going to be focusing on more of a variety of dishes. Because this week is passover, I am going to try to make some of my favorite Passover foods. I am interested in matzo balls and a kugel. I have found some recipes already that I think are possibilities. This recipe for  matzo balls seems great, and I liked that the author wrote that the matzo balls were “light and fluffy.” In my opinion, that is the most important part of matzo balls, and I want to make sure if I am making a recipe of matzo balls they will also be light and fluffy.

I am also interested in making the classic macaroons. I have been looking at many different recipes, and have found many that are not only healthy, but some only use 2 or 3 ingredients!

Lastly, I have been having a bit of a chocolate craving, and therefore found a recipe for a flourless chocolate cake that looks interesting.

Now that I have my recipes ready, I am off to the farmers’ market and store again.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Sandwiches

Oops, I forgot to post this after the oatmeal cookie disaster. It was in my drafts! Anyway…

After my oatmeal cookie disaster, I wanted to make something that I could share with my classmates. I decided to try something a bit easier and looked up recipes for healthy cookies. Healthy and cookies generally don’t go together, but I did find some recipes. Many of them used complicated ingredients as substitutes, but I did find one recipe that intrigued me. This recipe was for chocolate chip cookies. It only used 1 cup of sugar total, 1 cup of flour total, and used

Chocolate chip cookies

Chocolate chip cookies

egg whites instead of whole eggs. I began by combining the baking soda, flour, and salt. I used two kinds of flour: whole wheat pastry flour and all purpose flour. From my past experience, whole wheat pastry flour is pretty heavy and dense, so to offset it, I used all purpose flour as well. Then I added sugar, butter, applesauce, an egg white, and vanilla. I just mixed those ingredients together and I got a thick, cookie-like batter. I was so happy after my previous cookie disaster!

I put tablespoon sized balls onto my greased cookie sheet. I let them bake for about 8 minutes and I could tell they were done because of the wonderful smell that was permeating from my oven!

Filling

Filling

To make these into a “sandwich,” I found a recipe for Oreo-like filling. Oreo filling has shortening in it, and I didn’t have that in my house, so I had to use an alternative. I simply used butter, confectioners sugar and a bit of vanilla. It came out well and I was able to make these chocolate chip cookies into sandwiches.

Cookie sandwiches

Cookie sandwiches

 

I handed these out in school and I had a couple comments. For starters, everyone said they were delicious, but I really wanted to hear about how I could improve them. A couple of my friends noted they were too sweet. I think this is because of the filling, which had the majority of the sugar content. Next time I will definitely use less sugar. Another comment I had was that the cookies should be a bit flatter. I completely agree, and next time I may use a different recipe for the cookie. I was going for a whoopie-pie type sandwich, but I could not find a healthy recipe, so I used this one instead. Thanks to all my friends who gave me feedback!

Grades:

Health: B-. What can I say, they’re cookies. Still, they are healthier than alternative cookies.

Taste: A. Great, but as noted they were a bit sweet.

Cost: A-. I had all of these ingredients in my home already, but some of them such as whole wheat pastry flour can be a bit costly.

Overall: B+. They’re cookies, so how healthy can I really make them? I think this is a great dessert to make if you want to try to eat healthier, but still want something sweet!