Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Do you guys get as excited as I do to try new recipes?  I can read a cookbook like a novel, drinking in details, picturing how the flavors will meld together and hoping when I make the dish it’ll be better than I imagined.  Each week I shift through cookbooks, and notebooks full of recipes waiting for something to jump out at me and say “This is the week!  It’s my turn!”.  These tacos shouted loud and did not disappoint.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, October 2012.

Substitutions made, noted below.

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

Kung Pao Chicken Tacos

6 skinless, boneless chicken thighs – cut into bit sized pieces
3 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce, divided
1/4 c plus 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, divided
1/4 tsp kosher salt
2 tblsp canola oil, divided
1 1/2 tblsp honey – I used agave syrup
1 tblsp dark sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sambal oelek (ground fresh chile paste)
1 large garlic clove, minced
3 tblsp coarsley chopped dry-roasted peanuts
3/4 c diagonally sliced celery
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas – I used flour tortillas
1/3 c sliced green onions
1/2 medium red bell pepper, thinly sliced
4 lime wedges

Place chicken in a large zip-top plastic bag.  Add 1 tblsp soy sauce to bag; seal.  Marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes.  Remove chicken from bag; discard marinade.  Place 1/4 c cornstarch in a shallow dish.  Sprinkle the chicken evenly with salt.  Add chicken to cornstarch in dish and toss chicken to thoroughly coat.  Shake off excess cornstarch.

Heat a large skillet over med-high heat.  Add 1 tblsp canola oil to pan; swirl to coat.  Add half of coated chicken; saute for 6 minutes or until done, turning to brown.  Remove chicken from pan using a slotted spoon; drain on paper towels.  Repeat the procedure with remaining oil and chicken.

Combine remaining 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch, remaining 2 tblsp soy sauce, honey and next 3 ingredients (through sambal oelek) in a microwave-safe bowl, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Microwave at HIGH for 1 1/2 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring twice.  Stir in garlic.  Combine soy sauce mixture, chicken, peanuts, and celery; toss to coat chicken.

Toast tortillas under broiler or on a griddle until lightly blistered, turning frequently.  Place 2 tortillas on each of 4 plates; divide chicken mixture evenly among tortillas.  Top each taco with green onions and bell pepper strips; serve with lime wedges.

cartoon-strawberry-9Oh man was this a killer meal.  We all loved these tacos and the boys are ready for me to make them again.  I just have to remember the 30 minute marinade ahead of time so we’re not eating a super late dinner. 😉

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Stir-Fried Shrimp w/ Spicy Orange Sauce

I’ve been on a quest to set a grocery budget and live (or die) by it.  Make a weekly menu and buy only to that menu each week.  So  far, so good.

This recipe is from Cooking Light, August 2007.

No substitutions were made.

spicy orange shrimp 2

Stir-Fried Shrimp with Spicy Orange Sauce

1.5 lbs peeled and deveined large shrimp
1 tblsp cornstarch
1/4 c fresh orange juice
2 tblsp low-sodium soy sauce
2 tblsp honey
1 tblsp rice wine vinegar
1 tblsp chile paste with garlic
2 tblsp canola oil
1 tblsp minced peeled fresh ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 c chopped green onions

spicy orange shrimp 3

Place shrimp in a medium bowl.  Sprinkle with cornstarch; toss well to coat.  Set aside.

Combine juice, soy sauce, honey, vinegar and chile paste, stirring with a whisk; set aside.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over med-high heat.  Add minced ginger and garlic to pan; stir-fry for 15 seconds or until fragrant.  Add shrimp mixture; stir-fry for 3 minutes.  Add juice mixture and onions; cook 2 minutes or until sauce thickens and shrimp are done, stirring frequently.  Serve immediately.  Yield: 4 servings.

spicy orange shrimp 4

cartoon-strawberry-9There was a suggestion to serve this over udon noodles or rice.  I had vermicelli in the pantry, so I used that instead, and added in some green beans.  I expected this to be more on the spicy side (hence the name..).  There was a good heat, but not an overwhelming spicy heat.  If you have some shrimp on hand and are able to find the chile paste, this is a great dinner!