Surviving Pi Day with: Orange Chicken


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It’s Pi Day, and I guess the thing to do is celebrate the day by eating pie (If you don’t know what Pi Day is, read about it here: http://www.piday.org).

In my opinion, it’s a genius, loosely related excuse to gorge on all things pie. My coworkers decided to make an event of it by having a pie potluck at lunch…with a total of 35 sweet and savory pies to share. Strawberry-blueberry thyme pie, chocolate peanut butter pie, lemon mascarpone pie, sweet potato bacon pie, cheese and spinach pie, smore pie…and just about every other pie you could dream up. Amazing, right?

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BEFORE

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AFTER

Well…no. I’m on day 17 of my dessert-free Lent, and I have “bad reactions” to dairy, so I forced myself to celebrate at a safe distance with my veggie curry and spinach. So far I’m surviving OK, enduring just a few difficult times resisting a fudgy brownie cake at a wedding, and a homemade coconut cream pie that my little sister begged me to eat. But, I prevailed!

I’ve refocused my sugar-craving energy on real food, fueling my body with what it needs to run better, and finding inspiration to try new recipes.

I decided to try a new recipe that recently caught my eye—Paleo orange chicken. Except it’s not Paleo, because I used soy sauce, rice vinegar and rice wine. (If you really want to make the recipe Paleo you can go to: http://www.health-bent.com/poultry/paleo-orange-chicken.)

This meal took me less than 30 minutes to make, and it was full of flavor! I served it with sautéed snow peas, mushrooms and zucchini, and a side of brown rice. I barely missed dessert at all.  Well, OK, some ripe mango and juicy pineapple slices also did the trick. 😉

Seventeen more days to go!

Healthified Orange Chicken

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Serves two.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T ginger, minced

4 T soy sauce

2 T mirin wine

2 T rice vinegar

1 tsp. orange zest

juice of two large oranges

1-2 tsp. spicy chile sauce or Sriracha, or modify to your taste

sliced green onions, optional

1 T sesame oil

pepper, to taste

 In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in sesame oil until browned on all sides. Scrape up browned bits on the bottom of pan.

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Turn down heat to medium and add garlic and ginger. Mix with the chicken quickly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn to the bottom of the pan.

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Add soy sauce, mirin wine and rice vinegar. Gently stir and let cook for a minute or two. Add orange juice and chile sauce, and simmer until the sauce thickens. This recipe doesn’t really make extra sauce, so if you like to have sauce to spoon over your rice, you can easily double the sauce recipe. When the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat, and add orange zest and green onions. Top with fresh-cracked pepper, if desired.

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Yeees…

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Yeeeeeeeess…almost there..

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Mmmmm.

 

Orange Chicken Recipe

Serves two.

Ingredients:

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into bite-sized chunks

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 T ginger, minced

4 T soy sauce

2 T mirin wine

2 T rice vinegar

1 tsp. orange zest

juice of two large oranges

1-2 tsp. spicy chile sauce or Sriracha, or modify to your taste

sliced green onions, optional

1 T sesame oil

pepper, to taste

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, cook chicken in sesame oil until browned on all sides. Scrape up browned bits on the bottom of pan. Turn down heat to medium and add garlic and ginger. Mix with the chicken quickly so the garlic and ginger don’t burn to the bottom of the pan. Add soy sauce, mirin wine and rice vinegar. Gently stir and let cook for a minute or two. Add orange juice and chile sauce, and simmer until the sauce thickens. This recipe doesn’t really make extra sauce, so if you like to have sauce to spoon over your rice, you can easily double the sauce recipe. When the sauce is thick and the chicken is cooked through, turn off the heat, and add orange zest and green onions. Top with fresh-cracked pepper, if desired.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Detoxing from Vacation Food Crimes with Chicken Lettuce Wraps


 

My boyfriend and I recently celebrated our five-year anniversary. Five years seems like quite a long time so we decided to plan something exciting to celebrate. A friend of mine suggested we take a mini road trip down to Jacksonville, a cute little town in Southern Oregon. She mentioned wine tasting, a steam shower and champagne brunch so that was enough to convince us. We packed up our bags, arranged a kitty-sitter and headed south.

Jacksonville is about a 5 hour drive from Portland, Oregon and just 20 miles from Ashland and the award-winning Oregon Shakespeare Festival. It was the first town in America to be named a National Historic Landmark, founded in 1851 following a discovery of gold deposits. Naturally, the town has an “old west” feel, with a corner saloon and a gun shop. Adorable! But I must say I’ve never been anywhere quite like it. Jacksonville is an outdoor, wine, food, music and art lover’s paradise. It is home of the Britt Festival, a summer outdoor music and performing arts festival, where you can bring your own picnic, beer and wine! Countless vineyards and wineries are just minutes from town, with several tasting rooms just steps from our hotel.

Wine tasting at Red Lily Vineyards, just 10 minutes from downtown Jacksonville.

We were lucky enough to stay in one of the 8 rooms at the Jacksonville Inn. We stayed in the Patrick J. Ryan room, the only one equipped with a steam shower. I had no idea what a steam shower was before I came to the inn, and let me tell you, the experience changed me. Imagine…a steam room…in a shower. You can shower…and steam! At the same time! In the mornings I enjoyed runs with views of vineyards and farmland, then came back to the inn for a refreshing steam shower. In the evenings after a long day of hiking, eating and wine tasting, I would unwind and prepare for sleep with another steam shower.

This was my view on my morning runs! Then afterwards…I drank wine at this vineyard!

Mr. Steam is his name! My best friend.

Each morning until 10 a.m. the inn provided freshly baked biscotti, hot coffee, and tea, so after my morning runs we spent the remainder of the mornings before breakfast laying in bed, reading magazines and watching cable TV while enjoying our coffee and biscotti.

Every morning should start this way.

A delicious made-to-order breakfast was included daily in our stay, with options like belgian waffles, breakfast skillets, omelets, blueberry pancakes, croissant french toast and more. On Sundays the inn serves a special brunch menu with free flowing champagne, assorted pastries and fruit.

Smoked Salmon Frittata

Smoked Salmon Benedict

Denver Omelet

Me getting excited for assorted breakfast pastries!

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I love when my toilet paper rolls are made into roses.

View from the summit of Lower Table Rock in Central Point, just 15 minutes from Jacksonville.

Just a 15-minute drive from Jacksonville is Table Rocks in Central Point where we burned off our breakfasts on a one hour round-trip hike up Lower Table Rock to a breath-taking view of the Rogue Valley. Then following the hike…I piled the calories back on with this mondo slice of chocolate mousse cake at the Jacksonville Inn…which I ate by myself and thoroughly enjoyed.

The rest of our trip was enjoyed this way…with lots of good, local wine, delicious food (Including the best burger of my life) and relaxation. Needless to say…I am now on a ‘diet’ after all the food crimes I committed…detoxing with healthy food to undo all the damage of vacation…starting with Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ingredients

1 pound chicken, diced (I used boneless thighs, but you could also use chicken breast)

3/4 cup celery

1 small onion, diced

2-3 large cloves garlic, minced

1 cup diced bell pepper

1 cup diced mushrooms

1 cup diced water chestnuts

3/4  cup chopped green onions

2 to 3 T light soy sauce

2 to 3 T oyster sauce

2 to 3 T hoisin sauce

2 to 3 T rice vinegar

2 to 3 T sambal oelek or chili sauce (optional)

3/4 cup dried black fungus (optional-can be found in Asian grocers. Soak for about 5 minutes in boiled water.)

1 head red leaf, romaine or bibb lettuce

1 large spaghetti squash, roasted (optional but highly recommended)

Instructions 

Chop up vegetables. If using spaghetti squash, poke holes in squash using a sharp knife. Roast in a 350 degree oven for 30-40 minutes. Cut in half lengthwise, and remove seeds. Scrape out the flesh using a fork; it should come out fairly effortlessly. If it’s too hard to scrape out put back in the oven for a few more minutes. The squash will look like spaghetti noodles! Set aside squash for serving.

Dice chicken into small, bite sized pieces. The smaller the pieces, the easier it will be to wrap and eat out of the lettuce leaves.

Heat about 1 T of oil in a skillet over high heat. Add chicken and cook until browned. Add onion and garlic and saute for a minute or two. Add the remaining vegetables (except spaghetti squash) and cook 2 to 3 minutes. Don’t overcook the vegetables or the lettuce wraps won’t have that nice “crunch.”

Add soy sauce, rice vinegar, oyster sauce, hoisin sauce, chili sauce. You can modify the sauce amounts to your taste…If you like it saucier, add more of each ingredient. Pluck off whole lettuce leaves from the head, wash thoroughly and shake off excess water. Pat down with paper towels if necessary. Add chicken mixture to lettuce leaves, top with spaghetti squash, wrap up and eat!

 

Enjoy!