Category Archives: poultry

Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken

One of the best kitchen investments I have ever made is the slow cooker that I bought this year. Allow me for a moment to sing its praises… For a mere $11, a lovely 4-quart slow cooker was shipped to my door (a slick deal indeed!) Since that day, I have been salivating over all the delicious things I can make effortlessly in a slow cooker, all without turning on a stove or stepping outside my dorm room. It is the best appliance ever for a busy student like me, as well as for anyone out there who would love to have hot, homemade food without spending time cooking. You rarely have to check on the dish either, since slow cookers keep the liquids from evaporating, so food does not dry up and burn. The longer you cook meat in a slow cooker, the more tender it gets, until eventually it just falls right off the bone. In fact, I always have to prevent myself from constantly opening the lid to check up on the wonderful stuff stewing in my slow cooker, since opening it releases heat and slows down the cooking process. But… when my slow cooker sits in the same dorm room that I live in… it is impossible not to gravitate towards the delicious smells that fill my room! Also, since slow cookers are, by definition, cookers that cook slowly with low heat, I often like to take advantage of the nighttime, to cook in my slow cooker while I am sleeping! (Genius, if I do say so myself). With so many recipes calling for a cook time of 6-8 hours, it is ridiculously easy to throw the ingredients into the slow cooker before bed, and wake up to a pot of food that I can eat for lunch and dinner that day, all without spending time cooking over a stove. Yes, I am absolutely in love with my slow cooker.

slow cooker thai peanut chicken

In fact, my love for my slow cooker grew ever more when I discovered the blog “A Year of Slow Cooking“, by Stephanie O’Dea. She challenged herself to cook with a slow cooker for 365 days, and the recipes that she blogged about propelled her overnight into a slow cooker superstar. She now has two slow cooker recipe books published, and is essentially an internet celebrity. These recipes opened my eyes to just how much I could do with a slow cooker, and offered me tons of mouth-watering ideas as I was getting acquainted with my slow cooker. One of the first recipes I made with my slow cooker was this Thai peanut chicken that I adapted from Stephanie. My chicken was falling off the bone, and melt-in-your-mouth. The peanut sauce was balanced between the creamy taste of peanut butter and the savory flavor of soy sauce and hoisin sauce, and was awesome with rice. I am definitely addicted to the sauce! Such a yummy, hearty chicken dish that required so little effort… now that’s what I’m talkin’ about :)

slow cooker thai peanut chicken



Slow Cooker Thai Peanut Chicken (makes 4-6 servings, uses a 4-quart slow cooker)

Recipe adapted from A Year of Slow Cooking

Ingredients:

  • 4-6 chicken thighs (may also use drumsticks, or mix and match!)
  • 1 bell pepper (red or green), sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2  medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 3 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • (optional) freshly chopped scallions for garnish

Directions:

1. Stir together lime juice, peanut butter, soy sauce, chicken broth, hoisin sauce, and curry powder. The peanut butter doesn’t have to be completely well-dissolved, but do your best. Set sauce aside. Prepare vegetables.

prepared ingredients and sauce

2. Place sliced garlic at bottom of 4-quart slow cooker. Place chicken thighs on top, spreading them out to cover the bottom of the cooker. Add potatoes next, and finally the peppers and the onions. Pour prepared sauce into slow cooker.

slow cooker loaded up and ready to cook

3. Cover and cook on low for 4 hours, then increase heat to high for 2 hours. (Or you may cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 4 hours). Stir contents once or twice after initial 4 hours, but refrain from opening lid to check on the dish!

don't open the lid!

4. Adjust sauce for taste at the end as needed. If you would like a thicker sauce (which I always like), you may remove the chicken and boil the sauce on high with the lid off, or add a cornstarch slurry and allow to boil on high with the lid on until thickened. Serve over rice, top with freshly chopped scallions and enjoy! Mmmm!

a second batch that I made with red peppers

slow cooker thai peanut chicken


Chicken Tikka Masala for the Beginner

When I want to indulge, the creamy curries and smoldering spiciness of Indian food never fail to satisfy me. But making it for yourself at home, now that’s a whole different story. I never seem to have the right ingredients, and the recipes always seem more complicated than I want to deal with. Well, I’m making it my goal to start making my own Indian food, because it really shouldn’t be that daunting to make something I love so much. So I started with one of my all-time Indian food favorites – chicken tikka masala. Okay before I get any farther, can I please just say that one of my biggest pet peeves in the food realm is hearing people call it chicken “tikki” masala. That is not the name of this dish!!! This isn’t a tropical bar on a Pacific Island… okay, now that’s out of my system, we can carry on lol.

Anyway, chicken tikka masala (or any kind of tikka masala) is what I consider a combination of all things I like about Indian food. Somewhat spicy, with a savory tartness and a creaminess that complements any protein you add to it and rounds out the main dish with a satisfying bloom of flavor on your tongue. It is the perfect accompaniment to a plate of delicious saffron-laced basmati rice. Now, I know, tikka masala isn’t traditional Indian food any more than one could consider General Tso’s chicken traditional Chinese food. Somewhere along the way I heard that tikka masala was invented in England where a chef threw together a dish using tomato paste and spices and cream, in order to please a Western customer who came in desiring something different from what was offered on the Indian restaurant menu. Whatever, I still love it! The problem with making tikka masala in the comfort of your own home is that most true-to-the-flavor recipes require quite a bit of prep work, often including many spices and ingredients that are not common in households, and also tacking on some long overnight marinating business. So I went in search of a simple but still (mostly) faithfully tasty recipe that I could make for an easy dinner, especially having not made any Indian food by myself before. The only tricky ingredient here is the garam masala powder, which you should be able to find at any decent sized supermarket along with the other spice bottles, but please don’t skimp on it because it is the key ingredient in this dish and the taste will be very different without it!

Chicken tikka masala

Chicken tikka masala


Chicken Tikka Masala for the Beginner (serves 4)

Adapted from Serious Eats

Ingredients:

  • 4 boneless chicken thighs, cut into ½-inch cubes
  • 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup scallions, finely chopped
  • ½ lime
  • 3 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp Madras curry powder
  • 2 tsp garam masala powder
  • 1 cup plain yogurt plus 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp tomato paste

Directions:

1. Combine the ginger, garlic, scallions, 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, the juice of half a lime, a tablespoon of yogurt, salt, and pepper. Stir, add chicken to bowl, and set aside to marinate (may let sit for 1-2 hours if time permits).

2. While the meat is marinating, heat the remaining oil in a heavy, large skillet over low heat. Add the onion, cook gently for 10-15 minutes until falling apart and caramelized (be patient!)

3. Add the garam masala and stir well to combine. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to combine the flavors. Season with a good pinch of salt, then scrape into a bowl and reserve.

4. Increase the heat to medium-high and add the chicken pieces. Cook, turning occasionally, until chicken is still barely pink.

5. Return the onion mixture to the skillet, and add the flour then yogurt. Stir in the tomato paste, Madras curry powder and simmer for 5 minutes.

6. Check for seasoning, adding sugar, salt or lime juice as needed. Serve over white rice.

(P.S. If you want your tikka masala to be more red like the restaurant version, you should use chili powder per the original recipe. I had to make some substitutions here because I didn’t have any chili powder on hand at the time. Also, feel free to substitute for your choice of protein to suit your needs – tofu, paneer, and fish are popular choices.)

Tony and I at the comedy club

Tony and I at the comedy club

Mmm so hearty and flavorful. I made this dish with my boyfriend on a night before we had to leave for a comedy show, so we were somewhat pressed for time and I was impressed with how easily everything came together and how delicious and satisfying it was. We paired it with a side of mixed vegetables (carrots, onions, and cabbage) cooked in a Madras curry sauce, which was a nice mild flavor to switch to when I wanted a break from the spicy flavor of the tikka masala (although don’t worry, I am pretty wimpy when it comes to spiciness, and this dish definitely qualifies as “mild”… add more spices as desired!) The spices just warm you up from the inside out, perfect for this chilly weather in the middle of November. Keep an eye out for the next Indian recipe to come, a mouth-watering and rich-tasting cashew chicken curry with cilantro pesto!


Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings

There is no better comfort food for me than homecooked Chinese food. Period. I grew up in a family that ate a fusion of Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine – two very different styles of Chinese food that together offered just the right amount of variety in my home. The sweet and savory red-braised style of cooking popular in Shanghainese cuisine is easily balanced by the light and fresh food Canton is so well-known for. It’s been a while since I’ve posted about Chinese food, so to help ease the current stress of having to study for my national medical licensing exam coming up in 2 weeks, it’s time to share with you one of my favorites.

Growing up, one of my mom’s most-anticipated dishes in the house was sweet and sour chicken wings, which we fondly call “tang cu ji chi bang” (糖醋鸡翅膀). I always knew when she was making it, because the smell of the vinegar, soy, and sugar would permeate the house and make me sooo hungry. I can tell you for certain that on any given day, I could have eaten an entire meal with just rice and those chicken wings, oh my god, that’s comfort food right there. This post isn’t about my mom’s recipe, because I have yet to make it myself. I’m planning to get the recipe from my grandfather (my dad’s father) when I go back to China this winter – he is the master of this dish, hands down. Why specify that it’s my dad father? Well the funny thing is, my mom did not know how to cook at all when she married my dad. That was more of a rarity back then, but incidentally my dad happened to be a great cook. Perfect pairing right? Well over time, my dad taught my mom everything she knows about Chinese cooking, and when I was growing up she did all the cooking in the house. So of course, the real roots of the recipe lies with my dad’s father, my grandfather. Eventually, I’ll get to share that recipe with you :)

Now to get to the actual point of this post! My boyfriend and I were having a night of cooking together during one of my recent visits to California, and we decided to go for a Chinese food theme, making family-style comfort food. Of course, chicken wings were at the top of my list! We didn’t have vinegar, so I decided instead to make a red-braised (hong shao) style of chicken wings (红烧鸡翅膀) with some shortcuts, since I didn’t have all the traditional ingredients for a red braise on hand either. This recipe uses only the wingette itself and not the drumettes or wingtips as I find those distracting to eat. Did you know that the part of a chicken wing that has the 2 parallel bones is called a wingette?  I didn’t until just recently haha. Anyway, the ingredient list is simple, the preparation is straightforward, and the result is a plate of savory, tender chicken wings that you can really just eat with a bowl of rice and feel satisfied with…

Honey soy sauce glazed chicken wings



Honey Soy Sauce Glazed Chicken Wings (serves 4-8)

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs. chicken wings (wingettes only) – approx 24 pieces
  • 1 medium onion, sliced into strips
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 1 tsp rice wine
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch
  • several good dashes of black pepper
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • vegetable oil as needed for pan-frying

Directions:

1. Mix together the light and dark soy sauce, the oyster sauce, rice wine, cornstarch, and black pepper in a large bowl, stirring to dissolve the cornstarch. Rinse off your wings and add them to the marinade, giving them a good toss to coat everything. Let wings marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes, mixing occasionally.

2. Saute sliced onions and garlic in a pan over medium heat with 1/2 tbsp of vegetable oil, until they are soft. Remove from pan and set aside.

3. When wings are done marinating, add enough oil to just barely cover the bottom of your skillet and allow to heat up. Gently lay out enough chicken wings to cover the skillet (I was able to fit about 8-10 each time), and be careful because they will inevitably cause the oil to splatter while they pan-fry. Flip them after a few minutes, and pan-fry the other side, until both sides are nicely golden. Set the batch aside and continue to pan-fry the rest of your wings.

4. When all the wings have been pan-fried, add them all back into the skillet along with the onions and garlic. Pour in any leftover marinade that you might have. Cover pan and allow to cook for an additional 10 minutes, until the juices run clear when you pierce the wing meat.

5. Turn down the heat and drizzle honey on top of the wings, tossing well to coat evenly. Taste and adjust sweetness as necessary. Serve with rice and enjoy!

Honey soy sauce glazed chicken wings

The other recipes we made from that night will be forthcoming in future posts… but as a teaser, they include a soup, a pork belly dish, and a vegetable dish :)


Tuesday, May 8th

11:30AM Molecular Biology Lecture
I tried to eat some leftovers from my sha cha chicken on salad from last week, but the salad had already wilted and was turning shades of brown and orange that I totally didn't trust. So I basically picked off the tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and chicken (about 2 oz). Also had a Promax mini-bar because I was really hungry from the non-salad.

2:15PM Cambridge Grill in MIT Student Center
1/2 of a tuna melt, fries not eaten. Wow, the tuna melt at the Cambridge grill is actually quite amazing! I thought it was funny at first that it was a light shade of orange, and didn't pay too much attention until I realized that the taste was very similar to crab cake (OH YUM). There was paprika, carrots, onions, celery, and some sort of leafy herb mixed in with the tuna, which gave it a slight kick and a very nice savory taste that masked the strong tuna flavor well enough to make me think it was crab. The bread was also toasted to a nice crunch that went perfectly with the smooth tuna salad and the slice of cheddar cheese on top. Simply delicious :)

My boyfriend had eaten lunch already, but he was having a sweet tooth attack, so he went over to the Dunkin Donuts inside our student center to browse while I was ordering my tuna melt. Next thing you know he comes over with a sheepish grin on his face and shows me his Dunkin Donuts baggie, with contained a buttermilk glaze stick and a berry berry donut. Apparently he bought the berry berry donut for me to try because everything I see it I mention how good it looks (plus it's a new flavor). Haha I think he also got it so that he wouldn't be the only one guilty of indulging in donuts. I ate 1/4 of the berry berry donut, which was a strawberry jelly-filled donut topped with strawberry frosting and chunks of white chocolate. It was really pretty, but also really sweet, and I dislike jelly filled donuts. But the topping looked so yummy it was almost worth it hehe.

6:30PM Baker Dining
Rest of my tuna melt sandwich with half a bowl of turkey vegetable soup from Baker dining. The soup was the perfect complement to the tuna melt, since the soup was brothy as opposed to creamy and not very salty either. There were shredded pieces of roasted turkey in the soup, along with carrots, celery, peas, and a little bit of rice. I'm saving the rest of the soup for another meal.


Monday, May 7th

1:00PM Goosebeary's Food Truck
Cambodian seafood, again. This stuff is good! I got one for my boyfriend also to convince him that it's good, but he thought it wasn't salty enough for his taste. He liked the fried fish in it though, which is actually my least favorite part of it lol. He also picked up some random mini-danishes from his lab and shared them with me. There were three different fillings: almond, banana, and chocolate. Not sure which one I liked best, it would probably be a tossup between almond and chocolate.

6:15PM MIT Faculty Club – Biology Senior Dinner
Glass of white wine (Chardonnay) while chatting with friends and professors.

Dinner started at 6:30pm, and it was a buffet style serving (this dinner was not as fancy as the one I had at this place last week with my boyfriend's class). Here is my plate of food, including some Caesar salad, a roll, some green beans, a few mushroom stuffed ravioli with mushroom cream sauce (the striped things), and a small piece of grilled chicken teriyaki. By far my favorite entree item was the ravioli, which were flavorful and moist, without being weighed down by lots of cream sauce or too much ravioli dough. The chicken was far too dry. The rest of the sides were okay, though the roll was a bit too dense.

Afterwards we enjoyed dessert and coffee while an acapella group performed for us. I had half a cup of coffee mixed with half a cup of milk and 2 Splendas (I really don't like coffee, so I dilute it a lot to make it bearable haha), and a slice of lemon custard tart. The tart was okay, but I think they overdid the lemon custard, which came off too sour at first but then too sweet at the end of a bite, which also effectively made my coffee taste bitter the whole time haha.

Not terribly satisfied with our desserts, my friends and I decided to share another dessert  (we were getting really full now but still wanted to taste the other offerings). We ended up trying the "Carribean mango colada cake", which was actually really good! At first I thought it was baked alaska, because the top was a creamy merigue and the middle was a cold layer that I thought was ice cream. Turns out it was just still half frozen haha. The bottom of the cake was a soft sponge, and the middle was a layer of mango mousse that was infused with pineapple flavor, then topped with a light meringue flavored with coconut, then a thin layer of some sort of tropical fruit glaze. It was pretty refreshing for a dessert, and if it wasn't for the fact that we were all getting really full I'm sure we would have eaten more of it. Sorry the picture looks a bit gross, the cake was falling apart because we cut it funny. Just trust me that it was yummy :)

After the dinner me friends and I took home the flower centerpiece from the tables, because everyone else was doing it and they were awfully pretty! I had a bit of trouble trying to carry mine home but it sure is a nice addition to the room. Mmm I love pretty flowers.


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