Coke, Curry, and Quinoa!! Another Funky Flavor For Your Tastebuds!

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Hello again! Here is a Thai inspired dish this time!

This past Saturday was shopping day. We are a shop-once-a-month family, so this is actually a BIG deal because I do one massive bout of shopping in one day (usually). With a month’s worth of groceries I have to store, it tends to become a game of stuff or pitch, which is exactly what happened. The inspiration for this particular meal started with 3/4 empty box of quinoa–another drawback to shopping in bulk, giant boxes full of unlabeled individual packs that don’t have the directions on them, forcing you to keep that cumbersome giant box–that I was tired of kicking around, hahaha!

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So I had my side down, but what about the main dish? Well, I grabbed a chicken breast and went to work!

(If you did not read the Sugar & Spice Over Rice, then allow me to reiterate that all of my measurements are approximations, and that I am far from professional! I specialize in making cheap taste good!)

Ingredients:

1 large chicken breast cut into chunks

Thai Peanut Quinoa and Grain Blend

1 can of cola (I used Coca-Cola)

1 tablespoon of oil

Frozen Stir Fry Veggies

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Sauce/Coating:

2 tablespoons of curry powder (can be very strong!)

1 tablespoon of ground ginger

1 tablespoon cornstarch

Dash of the Tobasco Salt

Salt and Freshly Ground Lemon Pepper to taste

3 tablespoons crushed Wasabi Soy almonds (I used a sandwich bag and the flat end of a meat tenderizer mallet)

Splash of coke (later)

(I also randomly put about a teaspoon of peanut butter in the sauce at one point–to be elaborated upon later)

Directions:

1. Dice your chicken and put it in a bowl. Cover with some of the cola to help tenderize it (have you seen what coke does to the paint on your car?) Mix the dry ingredients to make your coating for the chicken.

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2. Dredge the chicken pieces in the curry almond mixture.

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3. Put the oil in the skillet and allow to heat, then toss in your chicken one piece at a time (otherwise they might stick together because of the cornstarch).

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4. Brown the chicken and then add your frozen veggies!

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5. Continue cooking until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and the veggies are at your desired level of ‘done’–if you like your veggies a little crisp, then this method should work just fine. If you prefer a soft veg, I would suggest starting them in a separate pan, and adding them to the chicken once they are both done.

In my experience, the cornstarch really got rather thick, so at one point I added a splash of coke to just thin it out!

Also, while preparing the quinoa, I had the tiniest bit of peanut butter left in the jar, so, on impulse, I added it to the chicken. I don’t really think it affected the flavor much, but this was delicious, so I don’t want to leave it out just in case it was what MADE the sauce! “No sauce? But the sauce makes the dish…” (The Count, Waxwork, 1988

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6. Dish up!! The quinoa I used came with peanuts as a garnish, so to follow suite, I used some of the Wasabi Soy (spicy!) almonds on my chicken!

DSCN1760 7. Enjoy!!

Sugar and Spice Chicken over Rice!!

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So yesterday evening, I got a wild hair and decided to combine two different recipes to make my own. Referencing the “Sweet, Sticky and Spicy Chicken” from allrecipes.com and a Thai Sweet Chili Dipping Sauce I found on buzzfeed.com, I created my own sweet and spicy Asian inspired chicken. I couldn’t really decide on a name, so I was asking my buds what I should call it, and I have to mention my BFF’s idea: “Dr. Cock Sauce Chicken.” I know, I know, what a weird name! It’s super hilarious though, because one of the ingredients is Dr. Pepper—hence the Dr.—another ingredient is Sriracha chili sauce—affectionately known as Cock Sauce in our neck of the woods, both for the fact that it has a rooster on the bottle, and for the double entendre, haha. So sorry if it offends! I was also considering “Everything but the Kitchen Sink Chicken”—which will be completely understandable when you look at the ingredients, hahaha!
Okay, let me tell you right away that I am horrible at following exact measurements in recipes, which is probably why I am not a strong baker! So every recipe I include on this blog will have approximate values. If you are a stickler for proper measurements, then my recipes are not for you! Otherwise, if you just like throwing random stuff together to see what you get, come to me and I can probably tell you if the concoction works! Also, my meals can be rather time consuming. I am not a professional, I have just been in charge of the meals in my household for a long time. I still make mistakes, and I know I am not always doing the right things the right way—I would fail all of those Food Network challenges with time limits and technique evaluations—but I love to experiment, and my family indulges me!

Ingredients (Approximate):
1 lb of chicken (I used one very large chicken breast) cut into chunks
1 can of Cherry Dr. Pepper (any cola or Dr. Pepper-ish soda)
1 cup of Soy Sauce
1-2 tablespoons of butter/margarine
½-1 ½ tablespoons of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of honey
½ cup of brown sugar
1 tablespoon Cornstarch
¼ cup Cold Water (for cornstarch)
Sriracha
Chili Paste
Diced Roasted Garlic (or fresh, or dried)
3-4 Mini Sweet Peppers, different colors, diced
½ white, red, yellow, or sweet onion (I used yellow), diced
1 can of sliced mushrooms
1 can of whole water chestnuts
Garlic Salt
Pepper (I used fresh ground peppercorn medley)
Ground Ginger (could also use freshly minced ginger root)
Rice
Frozen Eggrolls

Step 1: Create a marinade for your chicken using the soda and some soy sauce—just enough to cover the pieces. Soak for as long as you can. (I cut my chicken first, and it was still a little frozen. So while I started on the other stuff, my chicken was marinating and defrosting).

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Step 2: Melt the butter on low in a large-ish sauce pan. Add the onions, peppers, and garlic. “Sweat” these ingredients for about two minutes, stirring frequently. (Thank you Bobby Flay for that description! Basically, from what I understand, sweating onions and peppers and the like, simply means sautéing them in butter, on low heat. This kind of causes the flavors to “sweat out” into the butter—thus intensifying and concentrating the flavors).

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Step 3: Drain the mushrooms and add them to the melty butter goodness. I added the garlic salt at this point, because mushrooms need some added flavor! Cook for another couple of minutes to really infuse the mushrooms.

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Step 4: Using a colander, strain the peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and onions—capturing the infused butter in a separate bowl. Set the veggies aside and poor the butter back into the pan. Add the coconut oil. Once it is hot enough (it will pop a little, so be careful), add your chicken pieces. Try not to get very much of the marinade into the pan—we don’t want to mess with the butter too much. Add the pepper and ginger.

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Step 5: Once the chicken has been browned (cooked mostly), add the brown sugar and the chili paste, then drain the water chestnuts and quarter them into the chicken. Make sure that the sugar has melted completely before moving on to step 6.

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Step 6: Hopefully you kept your bowl from the butter straining, because we are using it again. I recently had an escapade with a new recipe, and I completely overcooked the chicken! Ruined the otherwise delightful meal. So this time, I poured my chicken (on top of the veggies) through the colander again. Set them aside, and pour the buttery sugar sauce back into the pan.
Step 7: To try and optimize my flavors, I made a little reduction sauce. Taking the buttery sugar sauce, I added cherry Dr. Pepper and the Sriracha (very spicy, so add the amount you desire). On the medium side of Med-Hi setting, bring to a boil and let the sauce go for about 5-10 minutes. Stir frequently. Add the honey, and then some soy sauce (I used about 3 tablespoons for this part). The reason why I wait to add the soy sauce is because it is already supremely salty, and I don’t want it to be reduced very much. While it is still bubbly, mix your cornstarch with cold water. Gently pour into the sauce mix and stir briskly using a whisk. Let it heat for just a little, while continuing to stir. You should be able to feel it thickening up. Add more cornstarch if you want the sauce thicker, more soda or soy sauce if you got it too thick.
During this time, I made my rice (I cannot make rice to save my life, so we use Minute rice. If you want the good stuff, then start it probably around step 4) and, after pre-warming them in the microwave, popped my eggrolls into the oven to crisp the outside at 400°F.
Step 8: Once you have achieved your desired thickness, add the meat and veggies to it, and simmer on low.

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Step 9: Once everything is all warmed up, done, and at your desired crispness, it is time to plate. Start with the rice, making a little divot for the saucy chicken (like mashed potatoes!), pour the saucy chicken over the rice, and dip your eggroll into the sauce too!!

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Thanks! Hope you like it!