Saturday, December 31, 2011

Pioneer Woman's Apple Dumplings to Die For

The Yank here.
Yes.
This is big type because these apple dumplings are so worth it.
First, I do believe the recipe was from stolen goods when Ree Drummond FOOLED her sweet, sainted mother into leaving her recipe folders behind.

I LOVE HER EVEN MORE KNOWING SHE DID THAT. BECAUSE SMART WOMEN DO WHAT IT TAKES TO GET THE RECIPE.
'SALL I'M SAYIN'.

Ree's recipe uses Granny Smiths. I used Crispins. Either works well. What you want is a firm, tartish apple with great baking texture that doesn't go completely to mush. Note the name is not Applesauce Dumplings.

No.

Okay, here's the link to Ree's site:
(and yes, she's cooler, but we try not to think about that. Too often. Missy does. But she's a worrier.)


This is a fifteen minute recipe and most of that is making the crescent roll triangles behave.
IT IS SO WORTH IT AS TO BE UNIMAGINABLE.

And I'm nice enough to share it with you here. Because it's New Year's Eve and I'm making these for Bethy's party this afternoon. (Daughter #2)

I will show you Ruthy-step-by-step as I make them, but Ree has a better camera.
And an amazing ranch.
And really cute kids.
But I have more grandchildren, so I win.

;)

Pics of Ruthy making Ree's recipe... Because my family now thinks I'm the greatest. I'm okay with that. Note I did a DOUBLE BATCH...
Twice the love.




Basic ingredients... Nice pic, right?  ;)


Apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1/8ths...

Crescent roll dough wrapping unsuspecting apple...


Wrapped apple slices snuggling together, unaware...


I had to take a picture of this because I think this is the FIRST tube of crescent rolls I've ever opened that didn't tear in the middle.
Isn't it a thing of beauty????


Butter, sugar, vanilla sauce... Ruthy note: These ratios of butter to sugar and vanilla are very similar to the old fashioned "butter balls" we used to make when I was young. You didn't melt the butter, just softened it and then worked a 3/1 or 3/2 ratio of sugar to butter with a teaspoon of vanilla for every 1/2 cup of butter. Then you'd roll this into "balls" and chill. The balls were then thrust into hot bread pudding when it came out of the oven.
Just a little historical Ruthy fun!



 Ruthy's Secret stash... Yes, this pan  holds a double batch MINUS TWO...

So guess who gets those two when she comes home later from her daughter's cute lil ol' New Year's Party???

Yup. Me. While I play in Seekerville with my Skrvl buds.


Two views of pan full of apply-pastry-buttery-goodness


Ruthy's coming home treat.
And I don't know why my font just reverted but this is the first time I've gang-loaded pics into the blog on Google Chrome and IT WORKED!!!!
My Firefox wasn't happy with Google anymore...
But the new Firefox didn't like my HP4500 printer.


I love my printer, therefore Firefox had to go in favor of Google Chrome which is VERY HAPPY with me.


And I with him. It. Her. Them.


Whatever.

Friday, December 30, 2011

White Chocolate Almond Baklava Fudge!

SHH... Secret photo is now embedded in this blog!  Here is the Alaskan Landscape Cake...










This is a recipe I tweaked from a basic white chocolate fudge recipe when I was writing "Small-Town Hearts", the story of two competing candy stores.

And they're delightfully well-matched owners, LOL!

Anyway, this is a wonderful treat, easy to make and the Baklava mix is something I keep on hand in the freezer. I make my own by adding equal parts of the nuts (a 1-to-1 ratio) and then adding in 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon of cinnamon and 1/2 teaspoon of nutmeg to the the mix per cup of nuts. So if I make up 4 cups of nuts, I add 1  1/3 cups sugar, 4 teaspoons of cinnamon and 2 teaspoons of nutmeg. I keep it in a plastic jar (a leftover Raisinets container from Sam's Club, LOL!) and just scoop out what I need.

White Chocolate Almond Baklava Fudge

 Ingredients
  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 4 cups confectioners' sugar
  • 3 teaspoons almond extract
  • 16 ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 1 cup chopped roasted almonds
  • ½ cup Baklava mix (chopped almonds, walnuts, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg)
Directions
1.     Grease an 8x8 inch baking dish, line with double wax paper, top side buttered. Set aside.
2.     In a medium bowl, beat soft cream cheese, sugar, and almond until smooth.
3.     In the top of a double boiler over lightly simmering water, heat white chocolate, stirring until melted and smooth.
4.     Fold melted white chocolate, almonds and baklava mix into cream cheese mixture. Spread into prepared baking dish. Chill for 1 hour, then cut into 1 inch squares.

Seriously, how much easier can you get than this? And the blend of nuttiness to almond "white chocolate" is wonderful.

And of course I love anything to do with Baklava, in any way, shape or form!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Donna Alward's Shenandoah Apple Cake!

Note to all: Ruthy is married to Dave whose favorite old movie is: "Shenandoah" so Ruthy is pretty darn sure this recipe was just meant for the Yankee-Belle Cafe!  Because that's how Ruthy thinks.

Recipe Time!

I like to cook. Incidentally, so do my girls, and when we ended up with a huge amount of cooking apples, we went searching for recipes.

I found one in a homemade cookbook my sister gave me one Christmas - some of her fave recipes as well as all the ones from my Mom's notebook recipe book. It's
Shenandoah Apple Cake and we tweaked it just a little for our preferences. The girls made this on their own and it was SOOOOO good. Since apple season is just about over, I wanted to share it with you. It's perfect for cool fall days.

You can make it without the sauce if you like - it's still plenty moist and is really good with ice cream.

1 cup cooking oil
2 cups sugar
3 eggs
1 ¼ tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
3 cups diced apples
1 cup chopped nuts
½ tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg

Beat oil, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a bowl at medium speed (about 3 min). Sift together in a separate bowl – flour, salt, soda, spices. Gradually add dry ingredients to the wet, beating well after each additions. Stir in apples, then nuts. Pour into a greased and floured 13x9 pan, bake at 350 for 1 hour or until done (mine took between 50 and 55 minutes).

For topping combine ½ cup butter, 1 cup brown sugar (packed) and ¼ cup milk in a saucepan. Cook over med heat, stirring constantly, until it boils. Boil 3 minutes, pour on cake at once and let cool.

You can eat it once it's cool, but truthfully it's better on the second day after the sauce has soaked in....mmmmm!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Belgian Waffles

Missy, here. I'm still wimping out on you. Hard to type with bandaged finger. :) So I'm sharing a recipe for Belgian waffles. Santa brought our family a new waffle maker, so we had waffles Christmas for dinner! :)

I just bought a small, low-priced waffle maker, but it did a pretty good job. I used one of the recipes in the manual. You can find it by clicking here. Just blend everything but the egg whites. Then fold them in.

Yummy!

Are you a waffle person or a pancake person?

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Attack of the Toddlers, Part One.

Shepherds need to be properly attired in towels. One-year-old shepherds  especially!

Beth and I decided to do a Nativity picture of my little friends as a Christmas gift for moms and dads...

Did you ever try to coordinate five babies?

This is why quintuplets are NOT the norm.




This is before cropping.... Note that the shepherds are not exactly engaged as one would expect in the wonder before them. Also note that Brooke is holding a REAL baby... That's Xavier. And Nolan is a totally cool Joseph, lovin' on that mama and baby. Not exactly how we 'envision' Joseph in our more artistic manger scenes, right?

Oy.


Mary is obviously losing interest in her new role... Joseph is umm... picking his nose.  And the shepherd looks stoned.

This is not going well. And the other two shepherds????

They BOOKED OUT OF THERE WHEN THE CAT CAME ONTO THE PORCH.

Oh ye of little faith!!!!

Get back here you shepherds!

Sigh.

So we went to Plan B.

Separate shots. Angels... (you haven't seen them yet, three 16-18 month old girls, and that was another exercise in go-with-what-you-got seat-of-your-pants photo ops.)

Shepherds, watching their flocks.....


And a cropped Mary, Joseph and baby where all is calm. All is bright.

Instead of one big nativity scene like we did three years ago:


We did three separate shots and put them into a large frame that accommodates three 5 x 7" photos...

I will not tell you how many days it took to do this right, but let it be said the project was filled with love.

And starry-eyed angels.

;)

Monday, December 26, 2011

Recovering

Missy, here. And from the title of my post, you may be thinking of recovering from too much food. Or from all the holiday hoopla. But no, I'm talking about recovering from a kitchen injury! While shopping, I bought myself a new knife. It's an amazing knife. But I about sliced the tip of my finger off with it--after warning my husband about being careful! :)

Here's the knife, made for slicing vegetables. I got it at Walmart. It's much bigger than this photo. :)

Anyway, it's difficult to type. So I'm leaving a link to the fabulous sausage-and-kale soup I was making when I cut myself. My son came and finished it for me. My husband and all the kids loved the soup. If I can get my middle child to eat vegetables, then I've really accomplished something!

Click here to see the recipe for Sausage and kale soup. (By the way, I skipped the step of putting part of the soup in the blender.)

from Marthastewart.com

Hope you had a great Christmas!!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Merry Christmas from Us to You!

Merry Christmas from Missy and Ruthy!


We wish you an abundance of gooey desserts, perfectly-made coffee/tea/cocoa and the joy of time spent with loved ones.


Have a blessed Christmas!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

YIKES!

Okay,  no keyboard on my laptop... And I thought it would only take me five minutes to put up my Yankee Belle Sponge Candy post, but all the pics are downstairs.

So.

To make this easy:

1 cup sugar
1 cup corn syrup
1 Tablespoon vinegar
1 Tablespoon baking soda

Mix sugar, corn syrup and vinegar in 4 quart saucepan. Heat over medium high heat, stirring, until mixture forms brittle threads when dripped from a spoon...  Temp rises very quickly as the candy gets close to being done, so this is where I always burn a batch or two.

Once you have the candy to the right thread-dripping-and breaking temp, remove from heat, stir in 1 Tablespoon of baking soda QUICKLY (mixture will foam wonderfully, very scientific) and pour into a buttered cake pan or cookie sheet with sides. Let cool. Break or stab vigorously with knife (not even close to kidding!) to break into smaller, odd-sized pieces. (there was a great pic of this...oops)

Then coat with gently melted chocolate, milk or dark.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Shopping Fatigue


Missy, here. Shopping and decorating fatigue has set in. I waited until last minute and am worn out. I did most of my shopping yesterday and came home at 10:30 last night to my peaceful, welcoming front door. (Actually, I passed it by and drove into the garage, then entered from the back. But we'll pretend my front door greeted me.) :)

I came in and had to hide all the gifts. Then I had to put away office supplies I bought while out. THEN, I finally got to crash on the couch, propping my feet up on the coffee table. And...you guessed it. I realized I was hungry.

Of course I was. Shopping can really make you work up an appetite. :)

I started out thinking healthy. I'd made kale chips on Monday, and they were gone. I wasn't in the mood for fruit. Or oatmeal. Or even Kashi cereal (all my regular snacks). No way was I going to bake anything. The kids were making popcorn, which smelled good. But no, that didn't appeal to me...

I seriously considered cheese and crackers. Or cream cheese with pepper jelly and crackers. Or instead of pepper jelly, I have this wonderful new sauce I bought at a Pampered Chef party--Blackberry Balsamic. Just pour it over a block of cream cheese and serve with crackers. Excellent!

Then it hit me what I wanted. A RUTHY SALAD! The salad she shared with us a while back. I had one the other day for lunch. Here's my version:

Romaine lettuce
Spinach
Shredded cabbage
Broccoli slaw
Shredded carrots
Cubed cheddar cheese
Chopped ham (lunch meat)
Sunflower seeds
Ranch dressing

I buy the first 5 ingredients already prepared. I'll chop the ham and cheese. I may add cucumbers if I feel like expending the energy to peel and chop. :)

And just think, I resisted the carbs. I resisted the cream cheese. I'm proud of myself! (But we won't talk about the Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte I had while out shopping!!)  :)

What's your favorite snack when you're worn out from shopping and holiday prep and are just too tired to make anything? If you do indulge in the cream cheese or carbs, feel free to admit it. We won't judge you around the cafe. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

"Forty-six Cents"... A bell-ringing story...

It was a cold, windy December night.
I was bell-ringing for the Salvation Army outside a mall in upstate New York.
It was the week before Christmas, and people were hurrying.
But smiling.
And nodding.
And dropping change in my bucket.
And "quiet money", too.

Beth and Mandy took turns being with me because it was bitter.
Temps were in the teens.
Wind chill? Straight out of the west, the direction I was facing. The temperature considering that?
Much lower.

A car pulled up, an older SUV with signs of wear. A driver emerged, came around the side, and opened the door for two elderly folks, a man and a woman.
They were not dressed for the weather. I hurried over and opened the door for them to get inside, and ached for the length of time it took them to walk, supporting one another, into the mall.
"Thank you," the woman signed.
The man, hunched and thin, struggled to turn his bent head to smile at me. He dipped his chin lower in acknowledgement.
"You're welcome," I signed back, one of two signs I know. The other is "Feed me. Now."
(Not really, but I need a little comic relief before I tell you the rest.)

Time passes. Beth went inside to get me coffee. The restaurant actually sent out hot chocolate. Free. 
So nice...

It was growing late. Colder. Windier. Snowier.
The elderly couple came back through the door, one tiny bag slung on the woman's arm.
There was no driver. 
No car. 
No one was waiting for them, and I couldn't talk to them because I don't sign. Beth was a sign language major in college, but she was inside.

The man clung to the woman's arm. She held on tight to him, the bag and her small purse. They wore nothing but windbreakers, thin and unlined. No warm scarves. No heavy jacket to protect them. I stood there, trying to tell them to go back inside, that I'd come get them when their driver came.

Of course they didn't understand me and I 'bout near cried.

Beth came out just then. She signed to them and the woman smiled, understanding, but then said they better wait.

The car pulled up a few moments later. By now, this old couple had to be frozen. Literally. But as the woman tried to head toward the car, the old man pulled his arm free and walked toward me.

The woman waited, a sweet smile on her utterly cold face.

The man came up to me. He tugged off the glove he wore, then went searching in his pockets for long moments, hunting up money. Bit by bit the hand withdrew coins.
A quarter. A dime. A nickel. Another nickel. A penny.

Forty-six cents.

He reached for me. His gaze rested on his own hand in explanation.

His hand was deformed with arthritis. Gnarled. Twisted. Turned. Virtually unusable. His hunched shoulders and bent neck were probably due to the same condition. My heart ached that this gentle, loving, bent man could no longer do the little things most of us take for granted. Like pulling change from a pocket.

His gaze trained on mine. I could see he was afraid the money would drop into the snow and be lost so he wanted me to put it into the kettle.

"I understand," I said. Beth signed the words for me. 
"Merry Christmas and thank you."

He smiled.
Oh, that smile.
It was like God himself smiled at me through that bent, aged face. Cold. Wind-burnt. Poor.

Like the widow who shared from her lack, this man's sacrifice came from his need.

That was years ago, but I never face a problem, a predicament, a moment when I don't see the love and devotion of that couple to each other. To God. To others. And that gnarled hand groping for forty-six cents.

And that's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Potluck Monday with Guest Angie Breidenbach!

I'm pleased to welcome friend and fellow blogger Angie Breidenbach today! She and I had a discussion on another blog about goals and perspective (after NaNoWriMo). I thought it could apply to food as well! So here's Angie...




Sometimes we get so wrapped up in the perfection of some goal like weight loss. If we can't do it right, we don't want to tackle the challenge. But I've learned I'm much closer to my goals by just trying. It's encouraging to look back and see how far I've come. Weight loss seems like a never-ending battle too. But once we've set smaller goals, we see that the whole picture is much less of a fearful situation.

Small steps take us in the right direction so we can turn around and see how far we've come. That's how we build confidence. Building confidence on small steps takes the fear out of the "BIG" goal. The closer we get to our goal, the less we fear it. Instead of saying the entire weight loss goal, just set a small series of goals. It's easier to lose 5 pounds than 50 pounds. Once you lose the first 5, you'll see it's manageable and can be done again.

It's the same for a larger New Year's resolution. Break it down into weekly steps and put it in your daily schedule. Each month you can see how 4 steps moved you closer to the giant annual goal. It's like walking a block and turning around to see how far you've walked. Do it a few more times and soon you've walked a mile!

Here's a simple recipe that looks complicated. Very small steps pull together a lovely little treat that's both healthy and perfect for your weight loss goals.
Enjoy small bites, with lots of flavor, that look like you spent all day in the kitchen.
 :-)
Angie




Blooming Chicken Savories
These are fun and elegant, perfect for a tea party or to impress family and yet so simple to make with very few ingredients.
Serves 12 (2 each)
1 Pkg phyllo dough
Butter pan spray
1 pound cooked chicken, diced
1 cup frozen peas
2 Cups chicken gravy
1 Cup sliced mushrooms
2 Tbs. butter

  Spray each layer of phyllo dough with butter pan spray or brush with melted butter and a pastry brush. Do quickly as the dough dries out fast. When finished, cut into 12 squares. Separate each square into half of the layers. Spray 2 muffin tins with butter pan spray going out over the edges on the tin.  Spin each square of dough so several layers are cross-wise forming a “T” pattern. Gently tuck dough squares into each muffin shape.

Bake at 350º for 12-15 minutes. Remove from oven. While phyllo blooms bake, sauté mushrooms in butter. Microwave the frozen peas for 2-3 minutes with a tablespoon of water. Add cut up chicken and cooked peas to the mushrooms. Add pre-made chicken gravy. Heat through. Fill blooms with 2-3 tablespoons of gravy/chicken mix and serve.

 
Insider Tip: For moister blooms, brush each layer of pastry with melted butter instead of pan spray.
Tip 2: Phyllo dough is easily found in the freezer section of your grocer’s.



Angela Breidenbach, Speaker/Author
http://www.AngelaBreidenbach.com website
A Healing Heart, Abingdon Press, April 2013

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Simply Saturday Paninis!

We bought a panini grill.
I can deduct it from my taxes because I'm actually doing research for "His Mistletoe Family" due out in December of 2012...

I LOVE THIS THING.

This is what it looks like:

I got it for 24.99 on Black Friday. One of the few things I bought.
It's big.
It wipes clean.
It makes amazingly good melty-melty sandwiches and the cheese gloms everything together, just like it should.

I am happy.

Here was our first panini experiment:



Sauteed chicken breast sprinkled with Montreal chicken seasoning
Roasted red peppers
Yellow banana peppers
Ranch dressing
Swiss cheese for me, cheddar for Beth
Sun-dried tomatoes.

Oh. Yum.

I let the chicken saute while I cleaned up the kitchen after the least-un's left.
And then we built the sandwiches.
We buttered the bread just like you do for grilled cheese.
Then I sliced up the chicken into strips so the cheese could 'glue' it back together...

This pic has nothing to do with Paninis and everything to do with why child safety locks are NOT foolproof. Obviously these toddlers are not KIX fans...Unless they are crunching them beneath their feet. Starring in this episode are (from left front) Mary Ruth, Megan Sherri, MacKenzie Marie, Logan Allen and Brody William...)
Heated Mr. Panini Press
Slid in sandwich
Closed press....

And five minutes later had the most delicious sandwich ever created in the history of most of the world.
I don't want to get carried away in my enthusiasm. You understand. I am the queen of subtle.

A-stinkin'-mazing.
And easy.
And it wipes clean.
This could be a dream machine.
I am not kidding.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Guest Carrie Turansky with her 7-Layer Salad!

Missy, here. I'm on author Carrie Turansky's mailing list. She sends the best newsletters! The recent one even included a recipe that I thought would be perfect for the blog. It's so colorful and festive! So I emailed and asked her to share. So, here's Carrie...






SEVEN LAYER SALAD
Our family loves this recipe, and we usually serve it every Thanksgiving and Christmas. It's great because you can make it 1 or 2 days ahead. We do a different design on top each time we serve this salad. This design was created to honor Ben and Galan's engagement last Christmas.
Layer in a clear glass bowl:
1/2 head Romaine lettuce or spinach, sliced
1 small wedge of red cabbage, sliced
1/4 head green or red leaf lettuce, sliced
1 small red onion, sliced
1 can sliced water chestnuts
4 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 pkg. frozen petite green peas, rinsed and defrosted
Make dressing with one cup light mayo, 1/2 cup non-fat Greek yogurt, a dash of lemon juice, a dash of curry powder and a small packet of Truvia. Spread this carefully over the salad to seal. Decorate with red, yellow and green peppers. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until time to serve. Enjoy!


The photo below is my daughter Melissa Morrison adding the design to the top to the last one we made on Thanksgiving. The B and G initials and wedding bells were to honor Ben and Galan and their wedding. 



This one features the flag of Southern Sudan where Melissa and Peter were working. 



We've had hot rods, American flags, flowers, and all kinds of designs that connect to a family member or event of the year.

Missy again. Carrie, thanks so much for sharing your beautiful salad with us! To check out Carrie's latest book, click here.





Carrie Turansky is the award-winning author of eight novels and novellas. She has been a finalist for the Inspirational Readers Choice Award and The ACFW Genesis, and the winner of the ACFW Carol Award and Crystal Globe Carrie writes contemporary and historical romance for Barbour and Love Inspired. Her latest releases are Christmas Mail-Order Brides, Seeking His Love, and Surrendered Hearts. She lives in central New Jersey with her husband, Scott, who is a pastor, author, speaker and counselor. They have five young adult children. Carrie leads women’s ministry at her church, and when she is not writing she enjoys gardening, reading, flower arranging, and cooking for friends and Family. Her website is: www.carrieturansky.com.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Homemade Bolognese!

Missy, here. And I have a fantastic recipe to share. Homey and rich and perfect for a cold day. (Of course, we won't talk about the fact it's going to be 70 degrees today!)

The way this meal started is that I got a deal at the grocery store. :) Ground pork for $1.69 a pound. I grabbed up several packages and then realized I'd never used ground pork before. I had to find a recipe!

The original recipe that I settled on is from the Martha Stewart website. (Click here to see the original.) You'll see as I go that I changed a few things, mainly because I didn't have exactly what I needed. So let's cook!

Pork Bolognese

Ingredients (from MarthaStewart.com)

  • 3 slices bacon, finely chopped 
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 2 pounds ground pork
  • 1/4 cup tomato paste
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 1/4 cups whole milk
  • 1 can (28 ounces) tomato sauce
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Cooked penne rigate, for serving
  • Grated Parmesan, for serving


In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, cook bacon over medium heat until fat is released, 5 minutes. [I used pre-cooked bacon that I had on hand, so I just heated through and added a bit of olive oil]




Add onion, carrot, and celery [my family would go on strike if I used celery, so I left out]; cook until soft, 6 minutes. Raise heat to medium-high; add pork and cook, breaking up meat with a wooden spoon, until browned, 7 minutes.



Add tomato paste; cook until pork is coated, 4 minutes.

Add wine (I didn't have white so used red, which turned out delicious); cook until reduced by three-fourths. 

Add 1 cup milk (I didn't have whole milk so mixed skim with half & half); cook until reduced by half. Add tomato sauce, broth, bay leaf, thyme (I used dried), 2 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 1 hour. Stir in 1/4 cup milk.

[I didn't have an hour. So I cut back to 1-1/2 cups chicken broth and cooked a half hour. It was a little thin but was very tasty anyway.]




Serve sauce over pasta (I used linguine), topped with cheese.

For fun, I have a set of pasta dishes that I bought at the grocery store years ago.



I hope you enjoy!!



Do y'all eat as much pasta as we do around here?



Missy

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cashew Chicken Asian Stir Fry

Whoa.
This sounds complicated.

NOT.

Ruthy doesn't have time for complications, and she sure as shootin' isn't about to waste valuable writing/editing/schmoozing time cooking, but this...

Oh.... THIS....

Is worth the twenty minutes it takes, and most of that doesn't have to be hardly, barely monitored.

Start with this:

I get the ginormous bag at Sam's Club and that has two packets of sauce inside....

Saute a large, cut-up chicken breast or small steak in a splash of olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic and ginger (if desired) to taste. I just sprinkle all liberally. It's about the only liberal thing this conservative Yank does.


Add packet of sauce that comes with veggie mix. The sauce is thick so I add some water and soy sauce, thinning it until it's a little more like thin gravy consistency. Then I toss in some sesame seeds


I like to add an extra can of sliced water chestnuts because we love the little buggers.

I make rice on the side while the chicken or steak is braising. I use Basmati rice (we've talked about that before) because it doesn't get mushy or sticky, each grain maintains its integrity and I admire integrity, even in rice.
Maybe especially in rice.
Anyway: 

4 cups boiling water
1 Tablespoon Olive oil
2 teaspoons salt

Bring the water, oil and salt to boil together, stir in 2 cups of Basmati rice. Bring to boil again, reduce heat and simmer until all water is absorbed, about 20 minutes.

I like my cast aluminum Dutch Oven for rice, but that's because I'm a little over-the top. Kind of. Slightly. Any good saucepan will do.



I steam the veggies in the microwave until heated and just cooked. Soggy veggies don't make good stir-fry. Just pour out the amount of veggies you need from the handy-dandy freezer bag... into a bowl... and microwave them until warmed through.

I fold the veggies into the saucy-chicken-sesame seed mix. And this is what it looks like when done.
HOW STINKIN' GORGEOUS IS THAT????
And delish. No kidding.

I like cashew chicken so I keep a big can of Planters broken cashews on hand for munching and cooking.

The crunch makes me happy. I'm so much nicer when I'm happy.  ;)

Truly, this is great done with steak or chicken. It would probably be wonderful with shrimp, too, but I haven't tried it. 

Serve over the rice, totally a "fork" meal. And one pan...

One rice pan.

And a bowl.

Now that's my kind of cookin'!