Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Chicken and Bok Choy

Meal planning - do you do it?

Meal planning takes so much stress out of the week mostly because I shop once and I know what we are having every day. I'm not scrambling to think of things at the last minute and running to the store daily. I make healthier decisions. And finally, I save money because I plan around what is on sale that week and I reuse ingredients so nothing is wasted - like that big bag of peppers I get at the produce market is used on Monday for one dish and Thursday for another.

When I'm planning I also think about what is going on every day and find that I often need quick and easy meals. Stir fried meats and veggies always make it on my list - so much prep can be done ahead of time and the cooking time is usually only as long as it takes the rice to cook (unless you use the Trader Joe's frozen brown rice - ready in just 3 minutes!).

This Chicken and Bok Choy fits many of my requirements - healthy, full of flavor, well rounded, and of course, quick and easy.

Chicken and Bok Choy
Adapted from: NY Times
  • 2 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar 
  • 1.5 T sesame oil
  • 2 tsp light brown sugar
  • 2 large boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch strips
  • 2 Tbsp finely chopped ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 head bok choy, washed, trimmed (discard about 1 inch of the very green tops and 1-2 inches of the white bottoms) and thinly sliced
  • 1 sm onion, thinly sliced       
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 c low sodium chicken broth
  • Cooked rice, for serving
  • In a medium bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, and sugar. Pour half the mixture over the chicken, along with half the ginger and half the garlic. Let stand 20 minutes.
  • Heat a large, 12-inch skillet over high heat until extremely hot, about 5 minutes. Add 1 Tbsp vegetable oil and the chicken. Cook, stirring constantly, until meat is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a plate.
  • Add the remaining oil to the skillet.
  • Add the bok choy and cook 1 minute.
  • Stir in the onions, ginger, garlic and chili flakes; cook, tossing frequently until bok choy and onions are tender, about 1 minute.
  • Stir in the marinade and chicken broth and let simmer 1 minute.
  • Return chicken to skillet and combine with ginger, garlic, and vegetables. Serve immediately, over rice.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Best Chewy Cafe-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies

Snow days and baking - they just go together.
Last week we had what I hope will be our last snow storm of the year. It was a good one, too, with about 10 inches of light and fluffy snow. We played outside for a bit and when we came in, we got to work baking.
I have made chocolate chip cookies in the past and have had success with some recipes and have had major failures. So before we went out to play, I searched for a really good chewy cookie recipe. I found one and after reading all of the amazing reviews I had to try it. My 4 year old had SO much fun making these - she did all of the measuring and formed the cookies.
Now, my husband is VERY honest giving his feedback on things I make. He always does it in a constructive way, like saying that the dish could use more heat, more salt, more texture, etc. So when I popped one of these cookies in his mouth as he was going by the back door with the snowblower and he immediately raised his eyebrows in a "wow" way, I knew they were good. Later he said they were the best cookies I ever made. I agree! We ate a few right out of the oven and they were crispy on the outside and super gooey and chewy in the middle. Even better, once they cooled they stayed that way. This will definitely be my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Chewy Café-Style Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 2 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ sticks (6 oz) butter, melted and cooled
  • 1 cup light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups dark chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet chocolate chips which the author recommends for better melting)
My notes in italics
  • In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, cornstarch, and salt. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, beat together the cooled melted butter and the sugars with a hand mixer (I used my Kitchen Aid on speed 2) for about one minute. Then, add in the eggs and vanilla extract. Beat until just combined.
  • Slowly add in the dry ingredients and mix briefly, just until there are no flour clumps left. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  • Cover and refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes to an hour.
  • Remove the dough from the refrigerator and preheat the oven to 325 degrees, making sure you have the racks in the middle of the oven.
  • Scoop ¼ cup of cookie dough at a time and roll into balls (I made mine just a bit smaller - they were still really big cookies!!!). Then, tear the balls in half by pulling gently on both sides. Smush the two halves together again, but this time have the lumpy, torn sides face upward. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, making sure the cookies have plenty of space to spread.
  • Bake for about 12 minutes, rotating half-way through, or until the cookies have spread out and the edges are golden, but the center of the cookie still looks soft and just slightly under-cooked. Let cool on the baking sheets until the cookies are firm enough to remove. Note from author: Every oven is different, so I recommend starting with just one or two cookies on the tray to see what baking time works best for you! I baked the cookies for 13 minutes and they were perfect.
  • Repeat with remaining batches, until all cookies are baked.