Monday, September 19, 2011

Homemade Chinese night featuring General Tso's Chicken!

WOW! That's all I can say about this recipe! Easy to make and everyone raved about it! This is certainly a restaurant quality recipe. I tweaked the recipe a bit and added a few touches that others who reviewed it suggested and it was fantastic. My recipe was adapted from this one:



Units: US | Metric


  1. 1
    In a large bowl, thoroughly blend the 1/2 cup of cornstarch and the eggs; add the chicken and toss to coat.
  2. 2
    If the mixture is too thick, add some vegetable oil to separate the pieces.
  3. 3
    In a small bowl, prepare the sauce mixture by combining the 2 tsp cornstarch with the wine, vinegar, sugar and soy sauce.
  4. 4
    First-Stage Frying: Heat 1-2 inches of peanut oil in a wok to medium-high heat (350-400).
  5. 5
    Fry the chicken in small batches, just long enough to cook the chicken through.
  6. 6
    Remove the chicken to absorbent paper and allow to stand (this step can be performed well in advance, along with the sauce mixture, with both refrigerated).
  7. 7
    Second-Stage Frying: Leave a tablespoon or two of the oil in the wok.
  8. 8
    Add the pepper pods to the oil and stir-fry briefly, awakening the aroma but not burning them.
  9. 9
    Return the chicken to the wok and stir-fry until the pieces are crispy brown.
  10. 10
    The General's Favorite Sauce: Add the sauce-mixture to the wok, tossing over the heat until the sauce caramelizes into a glaze (1-2 minutes).
  11. 11
    Serve immediately.
  12. 12
    Serves 4, along with steamed broccoli and rice.

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I had way more chicken than the recipe called for and had planned to double the amount of sauce but ended up quadrupling it. I likely had 3-4 pounds of chicken so it ended up being the amount the original recipe called for as far as the sauce goes. It was fine but for a pound of chicken I would double it next time. I added about a tablespoon of sesame oil, fresh grated ginger, crushed garlic (of course) and some crushed red pepper to the sauce. I also sauteed broccoli with the red peppers and topped it off with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. It was the best General Tso's chicken recipe I've ever tried and everyone who tried it, kids, hubby and some of the ladies from the 'hood absolutely raved about it!!

I dried some red peppers that I grew in our backyard first

This is by far the best batter I've ever used. Just whipped up eggs and cornstarch.

Fry up the chicken in small batches in peanut oil. I had too much chicken in the pan here...

I sauteed broccoli with the red peppers. I wish I had crushed a few of the peppers because there was very little heat to the dish. The more red peppers you crush the spicier the dish.

Top it off with chopped green onions and sesame seed and enjoy!

Served it over brown jasmine rice and YUM!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

My first stab at real Indian cooking!

So I've been in a "food rut" of late. It gets hard after awhile trying to please everyone while at the same time trying to figure out something creative that a 14 year old and an 11 year old will eat as well as a husband who is not that adventurous when it comes to ethnic cuisine. No one around here has been big fans of Indian food (which I am) but I thought to myself..."Tandoori Chicken is pretty tame - maybe I should give that a go". So I did. My sister and brother in law make all sorts of interesting meals and I decided it's time that the Hokes branch out a bit. I used a nice Greek yogurt and despite having two pretty decent looking recipes for Tandoori chicken, my brother in law convinced me to use a ready made Tandoori paste. It was pretty good actually but next time I'm going to try it from scratch. I will say though that for the Mom trying to run kids to football and other activities and doesn't need to spend inordinate amounts of time in the kitchen, this is the way to go. Mix the Tandoori paste with a nice full Greek yogurt, cover the skinless chicken pieces with the marinade and marinade it over night. When you take it out it will look like this:

the recipe said to press out the excess marinade but I am always one of the concept "more is better". In this case I was wrong. Too much remaining marinade on the chicken makes it gloppy and it doesn't roast as well so shake off the excess! Place the chicken on a rack for roasting, spray or brush with some olive oil and roast in a 450 degree over for about 30 minutes, turning it once.

After turning it you can toss some onions on top to roast with it. The chicken will come out like this!

Don't forget the Indian Raita Yogurt sauce - very easy to make with your extra greek yogurt and some cucumber, cumin and cilantro or mint - whichever you prefer. I served this all with a nice brown Jasmine rice.

Et Voila! Fabulous and healthy meal! The entire - and I mean ENTIRE family gave it 2 thumbs up! What will be the next interesting dish to add something different to the menu...? I'm all ears and open to suggestions!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

New Seasons and Old Traditions

So we are at the official end of summer. Summer really ends for us at the beginning of August when Tommy reports in for August football camp and 2 a day practices. School starts here next Tuesday, day after Labor Day and I am ready to get back to a semblance of normal life around here...whatever that is. We had our first game of the season Friday night under the lights versus Youngstown State. We had a blast tailgating and my sister and nephew attended their first ever Spartan game!

My friend Heidi, my sister Kathy, Jen, Heidi's daughter Maddie and Drew

Jen tailgates!

The fabulous Spartan Marching Band!

After the Friday night game we stayed up until almost 2 am (that's LATE for us oldies) and gabbed for awhile and watched some other great college football games. And because it was a Friday night game Tommy was gifted with a RARE day off on Saturday which NEVER happens during football season. So we decided to give my father Hank Putnam's infamous Pit Steak dinner a try again with a few fun neighbors over.

I forgot to take a photo of the roaring fire but the key is to start a big fire around 2 hours before you're ready to dress it with the cherry wood. Then we used scrap cherry wood from Harden Furniture factory in McConnellsville, NY (my hometown) courtesy of Greg Harden, an old friend. We loaded this scrap cherry hardwood up in the Land Rover and brought it home with us for this very purpose.

Burn the cherry down to red hot coals, generously salt a thick piece of Top Round (London Broil) with course sea salt and lay it directly on the red hot cherry coals

Crack open a PBR and let it cook!

We like to cook it rare to medium rare then pull it off and the coals just flick right off the meat! It sears in a delicious flavor! Slice the steak on the diagonal and put in a shallow pan with melted butter. Serve it on a kaiser roll or just as is! It is delicious!! I am happy to report that after a few failed attempts my husband has perfected Dad's Pit Steak and the Meat fork has officially been passed to him from the heavens! What a great and fun way to honor and remember my father. He would be so happy to see us continue the tradition.

Now we just need to figure out how to get a regular supply of Harden cherry...