Panda Express Orange Chicken

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

One of my go-to meals on the craziest of the crazy nights is the orange chicken from the freezer section of Trader Joes.   It takes just 10 minutes to whip together and my kids gobble it up like it's candy.    It was with this in mind when I found this knock-off recipe for Panda Express' Orange Chicken in a church cookbook, that it was one of the first ones I bookmarked to try.  The box of frozen popcorn chicken was a bit of pain to find, so the second time I made it I just used regular cooked and diced boneless skinless chicken breasts instead.   The kids devoured both versions no problem and were asking within the week when I would make it again.   This one's definitely staying on the keeper list!

this version was made with the frozen popcorn chicken as listed in the recipe

Click here for printable recipe. 
The ingredients:

2 packages (12-oz. each) frozen, precooked popcorn chicken (or cooked and diced chicken breasts)
2 Tbs. cornstarch
1 tsp. minced ginger root
1-2 cloves minced garlic
1/4 cup chopped green onions
2 Tbs. rice wine (I omitted this)
3/4 cup water
1-1/2 tsp. sesame oil
3 Tbs. soy sauce
3/4 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup white vinegar
zest and juice of one orange
crushed red pepper, to taste
hot cooked rice

Put desired amount of chicken on baking sheet and cook according to package directions. Meanwhile combine above ingredients in a saucepan. I blended my sauce ingredients together in a blender before heating to make the sauce nice and smooth. Mix and stir until heated through. Toss warm chicken with sauce and serve over warm rice. Makes 6 servings.
 This version was made with the boneless skinless chicken breasts.  I did not think it turned out as pretty as 
with the popcorn chicken, but the kids sure didn't complain about the taste!


Confetti Cornbread

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Life is getting busy around here, but I was excited to post this fun new cornbread recipe I found.  We loved all the flavor and bright colors and thought it would go perfectly with a Mexican themed Christmas Eve dinner. 

 Click here for printable recipe

Confetti Cornbread
from Mom

The ingredients:
1 cup flour
1 cup cornmeal
3 Tbsp. sugar
1-1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
1 cup finely diced mixed peppers (I used 3/4 cup diced peppers and 1/4 cup sundried tomatoes)

Preheat the oven to 400° and grease an 8 or 9 inch square pan. Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk the milk, butter, and egg together. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry and gently stir until the batter is evenly moistened. Add the peppers and stir to combine.

Bake for about 25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the cornbread comes out dry. Cool 15 minutes before serving. Enjoy!



Thursday, December 17, 2009

I found this awesome recipe for snickerdoodles on! They're easy to make and yummy to eat! Be warned that they're addicting :)

Click here for printable recipe.

From AnnaLisa

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
1-1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
2-3/4 cups flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar (for rolling)
2 teaspoons cinnamon (for rolling)

-Preheat oven to 400° F.
-Cream together butter, shortening, 1-1/2 cups sugar, the eggs, and vanilla.
-Blend in the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt. Shape dough by rounded spoonfuls into balls.
-Mix the 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Roll balls of dough in mixture.
-Place two inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 7-10 minutes or until set, but not too hard.


Cornmeal Lime Glazed Cookies

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I found this recipe in an old family cookbook when I was really hungry and couldn't stop thinking about the interesting combination of ingredients in these.  Cornmeal, limes, oranges---it just made my mouth water just thinking about it.  When I actually got around to making them though I wasn't quite so starved and I was pretty nervous making them wondering if we would end up liking them. 

The further into the process I got, the more nervous I got.  Thankfully, though the experiment was a success.  They were a stand-out cookie with its delicious citrus flavor and slight shortbready texture.  I really enjoyed the texture that the cornmeal gave to these and I am definitely adding this into my holiday cookie repertoire! 

This picture may not make them look glamorous, but they tasted like a million bucks!  Next time I may blend the citrus zest with the other glaze ingredients  in a food  processor to get a smoother looking topping.

Click here for printable recipe

The ingredients:

1 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1 large egg
4 tsp. freshly grated lime zest
2 Tbs. freshly squeezed lime juice (about 6-8 medium sized limes total, including the glaze)
2 tsp. freshly grated orange zest (2 medium oranges)
1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup yellow cornmeal, plus more for coating glass

3-1/4 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
2-1/2 tsp. freshly grated lime zest

For cookies:  In large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.  Add eggs; beat until just blended. Mix in lime & orange zests, lime juice, and almond extract until well-blended.  Add flour and corn meal and beat until just blended. 

Transfer dough to a piece of plastic wrap.  Shape the dough into a dish; wrap and chill until firm, about 1 hour. 

Preheat oven to 350°.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  Fill a small bowl with cornmeal.  Using a 1-1/4-inch ice cream scoop, form balls from chilled dough.  Place balls on prepared sheets, space about 3-inches apart.

Dip bottom of a medium drinking glass first into a bowl of water then into a bowl of cornmeal.

Flatten balls with the bottom of glass until dough is about 1/4-inch thick.

Bake cookies until crisp and light-golden brown around the edges, 14-16 minutes. 

Transfer baking sheets to a wire rack on top of a piece of parchment paper.  Pour the lime glaze over the cooled cookies, allowing the excess to drip off the edges.  Let glaze set.  Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.  Makes 24 cookies. 

For glaze:  Sift powdered sugar into a medium bowl.  Add lime juice; stir until smooth.  Stir in lime zest.  (Next time I make these I will blend the glaze ingredients together in a food processor to get a smoother texture.)  Use glaze immediately. 



Crazy Craisin Cookies

Monday, December 14, 2009

I am always on the hunt for fun new cookie recipes to try, especially for the holidays. This recipe from my friend caught my eye immediately with the fun combination of white chocolate, Craisins, and toffee bits.   They were simple and easy to whip together and I loved the way it all came together.  It is the toffee that really gave it the unique crunch and flavor.   I found my Heath toffee bits in a bag with chocolate chips (see ingredient picture below), but if they're not available in your area you can just buy a 3-4 Heath candy bars and crunch them up for the same effect. 

Click here for printable recipe.  

The ingredients:

1 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1-1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. baking soda
2 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup Craisins
1 cup white chocolate chips
1-1/2 cups toffee bits (I found mine already chopped in a bag with the chocolate chips)

1. omit regular flour and substitute 1 cup gluten free flour, 1/2 cup almond flour, 1 Tbs. coconut flour
2.  Ensure that the oats are gluten free 
Cream butter and sugars together. Add egg and vanilla and mix well. Then add the flour, baking soda, and oats and mix until just combined.

Stir in the Craisins, white chocolate chips, and toffee bits until just combined. Roll into balls and place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350° for 7-8 minutes.



Christmas Cookies: Chocolate Dipped Macaroons

Sunday, December 13, 2009

I love this time of year when it's perfectly acceptable to bake goodies every day of the week and no one even thinks twice about it.  Goodies to eat, goodies to share with friends, goodies for parties, and goodies as gifts--it's all good!  I made these delightful cookies for a luncheon last Christmas and was asked several times for the recipe.  Covered in chocolate and with all that good  coconut flavor this recipe from Epicurious is the perfect creative cookie to share!

Click here for printable recipe

The ingredients:

1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp. salt
2 tsp. finely grated orange peel
3 large eggs
24 ounces sweetened flaked coconut (about 6 cups firmly packed)
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

Position rack in center of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 3 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment. Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until smooth. Add sugar and salt; beat until blended. Beat in orange peel, then eggs, 1 at a time. Mix in coconut. Drop batter onto sheets by tablespoonfuls, spacing 1 1/2 inches apart.

Bake macaroons, 1 sheet at a time, until golden on bottom and browned in spots, 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overbake. Cool completely on sheets.

Using fork, drizzle chocolate over macaroons. ( I also dipped the bottoms into the chocolate, which seemed to be a big hit at the luncheon). Chill on sheets until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.



Maple Oatmeal Bread

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

 There's not much I like better than a hearty, whole-grain slice of bread straight from the oven.  Add some soft melty butter and honey over the top and you may as well give me the rest of the loaf.  :)

This autumn inspired loaf filled our home with a maple aroma that had my mouth watering long before it was finished baking.  You'll want to make sure you add the flour and oats slowly until you get to the right consistency.  The first time I made it it was a tad too dry, but I've adjusted the recipe accordingly, so you  can go ahead as directed for a perfectly scrumptious loaf of Maple Oatmeal Bread.  Yum!

The ingredients:

 Click here for printable recipe

1-1/4 cup warm water (105-115°)
2 tsp. yeast
1 egg (room temperature)

2 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
1 tsp. salt
1/2 cup real maple syrup (at room temperature)
1-1/2 tsp. maple extract
1-1/2 to 2 cups bread flour
1-1/2 to 2 cups whole wheat flour
1-1/2 to 2 cups old fashioned oats

Combine water and yeast and allow to set for 5 minutes. Then add the egg, butter, maple syrup, salt, and maple extract. Mix well. Then add the bread flour, whole wheat flour, and oats one cup at a time. (I added a cup of bread flour, then mixed well. Then a cup of whole wheat flour and mixed well. Then a cup of oats and mixed well.) Add the remaining flour slowly just until you have a soft dough that pulls away from the side of the mixer. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and towel and allow to rise until doubled in volume (about 90 minutes). Knead until smooth and shape into 8x3-inch log and place in buttered loaf pan. Allow to rise for about 45 minutes or until dough is slightly over the tops of the pan. Bake at 375° until deep golden brown (20-25 minutes). Cool for about 15 minutes before removing from the pan. Serve warm with butter and honey or allow to cool completely and slice into sandwich slices.



Thai Chicken Pasta

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Over the course of cooking for my family I feel like I've got a pretty good eye for determining at a glance whether or not we would like a recipe, before even making it.  Of course, sometimes things don't turn out quite the way you expect, but for us  there are certain ingredients that guarantee almost a sure-fire success.  Peanut butter, cilantro, or pasta  are some of those winning combinations for us and this recipe from the latest Taste of Home magazine has all three.   Not surprisingly it was a hit for everyone.  Even my four-year-old picky girl loved it and came back for seconds! 

Click here for printable recipe.

The ingredients:

12 oz. uncooked whole wheat spaghetti noodles (or fettuccine)
2 cups salsa
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup orange juice
2 Tbs. honey
4 tsp. soy sauce
4 cups chicken breast, cubed and cooked
1/4 cup chopped peanuts
1/4 cup minced fresh cilantro

Directions:  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Meanwhile in large sauce pot, combine the salsa, peanut butter, orange juice, honey, and soy sauce.

Heat until sauce thickens and add chicken;
heat through.  Drain pasta.  Serve with chicken mixture.  Garnish with peanuts and cilantro. Makes 8 servings.   Enjoy!

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Turkey Tacos

Monday, December 7, 2009

Even though we didn't prepare a Thanksgiving feast this year, we still cooked a turkey because we couldn't miss out on our favorite leftover: Turkey Tacos!! By now, your turkeys may already be gone, but just in case anyone is cooking a turkey for Christmas, I thought I'd get this recipe up so you can enjoy the leftovers too!

Click here for printable recipe. 

Turkey Tacos
by Trisha

The Ingredients:

Cooking Oil (vegetable or olive oil is up to you)
Leftover turkey, shredded (a mix, but mostly dark meat for flavor)
3 medium potatoes, diced
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
*salt & pepper  (SEE NOTE BELOW)

*cumin  (SEE NOTE BELOW)

*poultry seasoning (SEE NOTE BELOW)
sharp cheddar cheese
taco shells (home fried or store bought)

*NOTE:  If you're not confident adding these spices to taste, you can just use a store-bought taco seasoning packet instead. 

I use my Cuisinart to quickly shred the leftover turkey. Remember that the dark meat is the best for flavor because it has the most fat in it.

Begin by frying the potatoes and onion in oil at medium high heat.

When browned and almost cooked through (about 15 minutes), add seasonings to taste. 

*NOTE FROM LARA:  I like to add 3/4 cup water and a taco seasoning packet at this point.  I found the water made it nice and moist while the potatoes finished cooking. 

Add the turkey to the browned potato and onion mixture and fry the turkey (close up photo gives a visual of how browned I like it) until the potatoes are cooked through.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Remove taco meat from heat, scoop into taco shells, and top with cheese.

Place a single plate of tacos or a large bar pan of tacos into the oven to melt cheese and brown taco shells. It only takes a few minutes, so keep an eye on it.

Serve it up and enjoy your leftovers!! (can be served as seen or add lettuce and tomato or salsa).


Roasted Cauliflower

I'm normally not a big cauliflower fan, but roasted up like this--  I can't get enough.  Even my veggie wary husband will eat this up without complaint, if that says anything.  
Click here for printable recipe. 
Roasted Cauliflower
by Mom

The ingredients:
5 to 6 cups cauliflower florets, cut into bite-sized pieces (the smaller the better)
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbs. sliced garlic
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 Tbs. freshly grated Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, mix olive oil, garlic, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.  Add cauliflower and stir well. Pour cauliflower mixture evenly over large baking sheet and bake at 500° (that's not a misprint) for 10-15 minutes (or until light golden brown), stirring occasionally.  Serve warm with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.  Enjoy!


Grandma's Saltine English Toffee Recipe

Friday, December 4, 2009

Salty and favorite combination !  The saltines add just the right balance of crispy lightness to the richness of the toffee and chocolate.  This toffee recipe from my mother-in-law (Grandma Sandy to the kids) is truly much so that my friend calls it "Christmas crack" and I usually end up making several batches each holiday season.  If you haven't tried this's the time!  

Click here for printable recipe

The ingredients:

1 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 Tbs. light Karo syrup
1/4 cup water
saltine crackers
1 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup sliced almonds (optional)

To prepare: Arrange saltines salty side up on cookie sheet. Have the chocolate chips measured and nearby. Have a glass with cold water right next to the stove, ready to test the stage of the candy.

Combine the butter, syrup, sugar, and water and stir constantly on medium heat until boiling. Boil until it reaches the hard crack stage (when dropped into the cold water it will crack and break easily) and the mixture will be brown (no longer golden). It took about 15-20 minutes for me to reach this point. NOT READY YET!!!


When you've reached the hard crack stage--pour and spread quickly covering the saltines. Immediately pour the chocolate chips over the hot mixture and spread them covering the toffee (they will melt themselves when they touch the hot toffee). Spread the sliced almonds over the top, pushing them down slightly with the back of the spoon. Allow to cool and set. Break apart into bite size pieces.


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About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

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