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Monday, January 30, 2012


Make Your Own Take Out.
I stole that acronym from Rachel Ray, but I love it. I wish I used the idea more, but sometimes eating out is cheap therapy. You know those days when you're about ready to strangle something, or someone....

I had 3 of those days last week, and today is the day I do the budgeting. Can we say "death bed repentance?" So here's a solution for me, and you, to curb the need to go out. Why go out when you can whip up something healthier, less expensive and still great tasting? Unless of course you have one of those days....

Here's one of my favorites from Rachel Ray Lettuce Wraps. I use ground chicken, but you can use cutlets too. I also substitute out my veggies. We don't like water chestnuts, but I can sneak in edamame and green or red peppers and no one complains.

Another recipe we love is based on Panda Express' restaurant recipe for Orange Chicken. I love it because the ingredients are stuff you have on hand, and I can control the sugar content. **NOTE: I usually don't fry my chicken for this recipe. I cook it in a skillet with a little garlic, onion and olive oil, then pour the sauce over it and simmer about 5 minutes. But, if you want real, authentic, the fried version follows.

1 pound chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
1 egg white
1 tsp salt
1 tsp sugar
Mix all this together and set aside

1 c. water
1/2 c ketchup
1/2 c sugar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 Tbsp. PLUS 1 tsp. cornstarch
2 tsp. sesame oil
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tbsp. grated orange zest
juice of same orange you zested
2 tbsp. green onion, chopped
red pepper flakes, optional

Veg. oil for frying
1 c. cornstarch to batter chicken

1. Once the chicken is coated in the egg white, etc. place in Ziploc with the 1 c. of cornstarch and coat chicken by shaking bag.
2. In bowl combine water, ketchup, soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. cornstarch, juice from zested orange and sea same oil. Mix well.
3. Put a sauce pan over high heat; when pan is hot add 2 Tbsp. veg oil, onions and orange zest. Cook about 20 seconds, careful not to burn zest.
4. Pour the sauce into the sauce pan, cook over medium heat, stirring frequently. Cook sauce until thick, about 12-15 minutes.
5. Preheat veg oil for frying. Put coated chicken into hot oil and cook until golden brown. About 3 minutes. Remove chicken with slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
6- When all chicken is cooked, add chicken to sauce and serve.

Although I don't eat here a lot, I love the soups at Cafe Zupas. Click on my highlight to get their recipes on their blog. Nice huh?

You can't forget about the 100 versions of Cafe Rio Pork and Rice dishes. Find one of the versions I like here.

My other favorite is the Pecan Chicken salad from TGIF. Find it here.

None of these recipes are hard. I have made every one of them. They are all under 30 minutes to make and they are delicious.

Here's to trimming the fat in the menu and the budget.

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