When my mother came up with the name of her first cookbook the term "All-American" only seemed fit. After all, she was 1st generation Chinese married to an American, Irish, Norwegian man living in Nebraska where traditional Chinese ingredients were not made readily available. It isn't until now that I truly understand the meaning of the All-American... (read more)

Archive for December, 2008




Sweet and Sour Chicken

This is an American favorite! Sweet and Sour Chicken also happens to be my very favorite dish growing up. I often request it in advance when headed home for the holidays. You may also substitute the chicken with pork.

1 pound boneless and skinless chicken breasts
1/2 green bell pepper
1/2 small yellow onion
1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 2 tablespoons water
3 cups canola or vegetable oil for deep-frying
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick wok or a frying pan)

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup flour
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon salt

1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup water
1/4 cup ketchup
1/4 cup white vinegar
1 can of pineapple chunks (8 oz., including juice)

Cut chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Cut green bell pepper into 1 inch squares and onion into 1 inch chunks. In a large bowl, mix the batter ingredients together until smooth. Add chicken cubes to batter, coating each piece well and set aside. In a small bowl, mix the sauce ingredients together and set aside. In another small bowl, dissolve 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and set aside.

To Cook:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat 3 cups of oil in a wok or deep fryer. When the oil is hot, drop in one piece of chicken at a time. Deep-fry about 1/3 of chicken cubes at one time until light brown. Transfer onto a cookie sheet and keep hot in the oven for up to 15 minutes. The chicken will continue cooking and become crisp. Be cautious not to over bake, otherwise the chicken will become too tough.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a non-stick wok over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add green peppers and onions. Stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the sauce mixture and bring to a boil. Add the dissolved cornstarch. Cook and stir until the sauce has thickened and becomes clear. Remove the chicken cubes from the oven and add to the sauce and vegetables. Stir and mix well. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes




Spicy Green Beans

Szechuan-style green beans are my favorite Chinese veggie side dish. It was only recently however that I realized that those healthy green beans are deep-fried before stir-fried in restaurants. No wonder they tasted so good!?! Here’s a spicy and delicious alternative we now make at home minus the frying oil.

1 pound fresh green beans
4 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick wok or a fry pan)
1 teaspoon dried crushed red chili peppers
1/3 cup water
1 tablespoon Hoisin sauce*
1 teapsoon white vinegar
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt

Wash and break off the stringy tips of the green beans and discard. Break each green bean in half. Crush, peel and finely chop the garlic.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a non-stick wok or a large frying pan over medium heat. When the oil is hot, brown garlic and red chili peppers for a few seconds. Add green beans. Cook and stir for 1 minute. Add water, hoisin sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and salt. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook until all the liquid is nearly absorbed and the green beans are tender, approx. 14 to 15 minutes. Stir occasionally. Serve hot.

Makes 4 to 6 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 17 minutes

*Hoisin sauce is a sweet brown sauce made from soybeans.  Sold in jars or bottles at the Asian section of most supermarkets.  After opening, it can be stored for several months in the refrigerator.




Happy Holidays & Candied Pecans!

Happy Holidays! I am addressing my holidays cards now and thought I would share Austin’s first visit with Santa! He was super…

And here’s another one of Lucy’s easy recipes that may come in handy. Candied Pecans are wonderful snack served alone or with ice cream and yogurt. In Chinese restaurants, the pecans are deep-fried. Baked pecans however, are just as tasty.

1 pound package planter’s pecan halves (16 oz.)
4 cups water
1 cup sugar

To Cook

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In a medium size pot, bring pecan halves and water to a full boil over medium-high heat. Boil uncovered for 5 minutes. Remove the pecan halves from the stove and drain through a colander. In a bowl, toss the hot pecan halves with sugar. Line tin foil on a large cookie sheet. Place the sugar coated pecan halves evenly and flat on the cookie sheet. Bake for 30 minutes. Use a wooden spoon to stir the pecans twice after baking for 15 minutes. This is to prevent the pecans from sticking to the tinfoil while baking. After baking for 30 minutes, the pecans will turn slightly darker and the sugar will dry, sticking to the pecans. Remove the pecans from the oven, stir and let the pecans cool for at least one hour. When the pecans are cooled to room temperature and they will become crispy. Store pecans in an air tight jar. Pecans can be kept for many weeks.

Boiling time: 5 minutes
Baking time: 30 minutes




Baked Stuffed Mushrooms

The holidays are upon us and it has been such a busy time (hence the lack of posts)! Our traditional family Christmas Eve dinner planning is in full swing by Grandma Lucy and we wanted to share a light and healthy hors d’oeuvre that your family may also enjoy.

1 pound fresh mushrooms, (1.5 to 2 inch diameter / about 20 pieces)
½ pound small or medium size raw shrimp
1/2 can sliced water chestnuts (2.5 oz. drained & approx. ¼ cup after finely chopped)
1 oz. fresh cilantro (approx. ¼ cup after finely chopped)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon rice wine or cooking sherry wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pure sesame oil
Canola oil or Pam cooking spray

Wash mushrooms thoroughly and carefully remove the stems. Finely chop the stems. Peel and devein the shrimp, rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Use a heavy knife to finely chop the shrimp. Finely chop the water chestnuts. Wash and trim the cilantro, finely chop.  In a bowl, combine the chopped shrimp with the mushroom stems, water chestnuts, cilantro, cornstarch, rice wine, salt and sesame oil. Mix together thoroughly. Fill each mushroom cap with 1 tablespoon of the shrimp mixture. Pack tightly so that top of filling is rounded like a miniature cupcake. You should be able to use up all the mixture.

To Cook:
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange stuffed mushrooms into a 9×12 baking dish. (There will be some liquid from the mushrooms while baking.)
Spray a little cooking spray on top of the stuffed mushrooms. Bake the stuffed mushrooms uncovered for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove the baked mushrooms onto a serving plate and serve it warm.

Makes about 20 mushroom caps
Preparation time: 20 to 25 minutes
Cooking time: 18 to 20 minutes




Chinese Slow Cooked Short Ribs

An American dish with a Chinese twist! I just love slow cooking and how the meat falls off the bone. This dish is even better when served with boiled rice.

8 pieces of beef chuck short ribs (about 3-1/2 pounds)
1 oz. fresh ginger root
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil (for cooking in a non-stick pot)
¼ cup rice wine or cooking sherry wine
5 tablespoons soy sauce (Kikkoman brand)
1 tablespoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper
2-½ cups water

Rinse ribs and pat dry with paper towels. Trim excess fat from ribs. Peel and slice the ginger root into thin pieces.

To Cook:
Heat oil in a heavy pot over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, brown the ginger root for a few seconds. Add ribs and brown the sides for approximately 5 minutes. Add wine, soy sauce, brown sugar, black pepper and water to the ribs. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 3 to 3.5 hours and stir every 30 minutes. After 3+ hours of slow cooking, the beef will be tender with approximately 1 to 1.5 cups of juice remaining. Spoon the ribs onto a serving dish. Remove excess fat by skimming the top of the juice. Pour juice over the ribs. Serve hot.

Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 3 to 3.5 hours

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