Friday, March 15, 2013

Easy Take-out for Game Night

I love playing hostess. Anytime I can cook or bake for family and friends is a great day. For me though, hostess usually means putting out munchies when a few of our friends come over. My boyfriend, roommate, and I still live in an apartment so we don't have many grand events going on where we need to prepare a fancy dinner. But when my man had his friends over for a Lord of the Rings: War of the North marathon, I jumped at the opportunity to make them dinner. Being guys, of course they accepted ;] saves the day again! I found this FANTASTIC blog that has amazingly simple and delicious recipes. I found this recipe for Take-Out Fake-Out: Sweet and Sour Chicken, and because it looked so easy, I actually made it a couple of nights later. You know how it is with stumble and pinterest; you save things that you think you'll use later, but they just pile up in your "I'll do this someday" file. I would highly recommend looking through this blog though. There is a huge variety of recipes.

The sweet and sour chicken was fabulous! I couldn't believe how much it tasted like take-out from our fave Chinese restaurant. There were a few things about the dish that I wanted to experiment with, and with game day/night upon us I had the perfect opportunity. I'd look at the original recipe linked above before trying mine to see how you like it. I changed the time the chicken bakes in the oven, how much sauce it bakes with, and thickening the sauce in a separate pan.

Here's my variation:

*6-8 chicken tenders cut into cubes--I only buy tenders because they are an easier portion to work with for a quick solo meal
*salt and pepper
*2 eggs, beaten
*vegetable or canola oil

Put the chicken cubes in a large ziplock bag and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Then add enough cornstarch to coat the chicken. I'd say start with a 1/2 cup and add as needed. I use a ziplock bag because I hate dealing with raw chicken, so you could do the previous steps by hand. Take the chicken cubes out of the bag and place on a plate, and chill in the fridge for about 20 min.

Tasty :P

This is about a third of the chicken I used. I decided later in the process that I wanted to do a post about it haha! When the 20 minutes of chicken chilling are almost up, start heating a skillet with enough oil to coat the bottom.

Next you need to coat the chicken cubes in egg. Work in batches of 6-8 cubes, make sure they're evenly coated, then pop them in the skillet. Oh, you should also preheat your oven to 325 degrees.

After about 2 minutes, flip each chicken cube over to cook for another 2-3 minutes. The pieces should be browned, but not cooked all the way through. There isn't a great way to test this, and you're going to be cooking them again in the oven, so I just go until the egg coating is browned. When each batch is done, put the cubes on a foil lined baking sheet.

If you're cooking solo you'll have to do this next step after all of the chicken is done frying. If you have a lovely assistant at the ready, they can help you with it while you are frying! I asked my man to help the first time, and he had the look he always gets when I ask him to help me bake or cook: terror. This is so easy though, he had no trouble. For the sweet and sour sauce just whisk these ingredients together in a bowl:

*3/4 cup sugar
*1/4 cup ketchup
*1/2 cup white distilled vinegar
*1 tblsp. soy sauce
*1 tsp. garlic salt.

Once the sauce is made, take about half of it and pour it over the chicken in the baking sheet. Make sure all of the pieces are coated and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, take the chicken out of the oven and stir. Put chicken back in for another 15 minutes. Meanwhile, take the remaining sauce, put it in a small saucepan, and heat it over medium heat. While it's warming up, mix a teaspoon of cornstarch and a teaspoon of water to make a slurry. Add it to the warm sauce and whisk. This will thicken the sauce. Keep whisking over a low boil until the sauce thickens up. It doesn't take that long, and you don't want it to get too thick. Just think of the consistency of your favorite Chinese take-out :] Once it's reached the desired thickness, remove the sauce from the heat.

When the chicken is done, all you have to do is add the remaining sauce, stir, and enjoy! I made some fried rice to go with the chicken as well. There's a link on the blog I mentioned above for another simple and tasty recipe.

The meal was definitely a success. This was enough to feed five hungry 20-somethings, but I'm sure we could've eaten more. The guys played games for 9 hours that day!! One video game for 9 hours! Now I'm definitely a video game lover, but that's a little too much time on my hiney.

OH! I kind of forgot something. I may not be able to post for awhile because, you know, I'll be going to Italy in like, 3 days. That's something I forgot to mention in my recap post. My aunt is taking my sister and I to Italy for a 10 day tour. I'm bringing my computer, but I don't know how much I'll be able to use it, having never been out of the country and all. BUT, I will have lots to share when I get back. Hope you all enjoyed today's post! Try some take-out fake-out for yourself sometime!

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