Over the past 18 months, Phil and I have been balancing the workload of our full-time careers with the launch of For the Love of Toffee, leaving limited time to make home cooked meals at night. As I’m sure many of you can relate, there were never enough hours in a day to get everything done. And just like that, our life as we’ve known it has come to a screeching halt. We are now living in a swirl of uncertainty, having far more questions than answers and trying to power through this pandemic. Despite this, there’s a little sparkling light that’s coming through…the reminder of the things that truly matter in life. While we are all adjusting to the new normal, home life has brought me back to the simple pleasures that had escaped me for some time now.
I love having the chance to cook dinner every night for my family. It brings me so much joy to do it and then see my family enjoying the food. My creative juices have been flowing lately and I’m always thinking about the next thing I want to cook or bake! And on top of that, I even have time to get the kitchen back in order too!! That’s a double plus!
For those of you looking for some different meal ideas, I thought I would start sharing some of mine with you in this blog.
As a disclaimer, I will tell you that I really don’t use exact measurements when I cook, unless it’s needed for something like rice. But I will do my best to give you a general idea. Unlike baking, you have leeway to add your own creative flair without jeopardizing the finished product!
Last night I had pulled out some thinly sliced chicken breasts (scallopini) that had been thawing out in the refrigerator. I realized that there were only about 1.5 lbs. of chicken which would not yield enough for the family if I cooked it as a stand-alone protein. I also saw 1 smaller head of broccoli left in my refrigerator and immediately thought of doing a Thai Inspired Stir Fry with Chicken and Broccoli. After grabbing several other ingredients out of my pantry, here’s what I came up with:
Thai Inspired Chicken and Broccoli Stir Fry:
Yields 8-10 servings (Depending on who you’re serving)!
Time: From start to finish, including prep, should take you about an hour
Approx. 1.5 lbs. of chicken (using more, or less chicken is fine), diced or cut into thin strips
Approx. 1 head of steamed broccoli (again, using more, or less would work just as well)
3 cups long grain white rice (like basmati)
2 cans unsweetened coconut milk (approx. 13.6 oz)
2 cups water
1.5 cups white wine
3 shallots finely chopped (you can also use a small onion instead-I prefer Vidalia or Spanish onions)
Approx. 5-6 TBLS Olive Oil
Soy Sauce (Figure about a cup, but you can adjust as you like)
Worcestershire Sauce (A few shakes)
Ground Ginger (a few shakes)
Chili paste to taste (You have some options here: (I had bought a fresh chili paste in the produce section, but you can buy a Thai Chili paste in the International Section OR use some type of Chili Sauce like Siracha. You can even use a hot sauce. If you want a little sweet spicy, pick up a Thai chili sauce)
Kosher Salt and course ground black pepper to taste
Cook the chicken: Place the chicken in a small bowl and season with salt and pepper. TIP: Sprinkle the salt and pepper on top and then mix it all throughout with your hands
Heat approx. 1-2 TBLS olive oil in a small skillet on medium high heat (1-2 swirls around the pan). Add the seasoned chicken and sauté until it’s cooked through (about 5 minutes). Transfer to a dish and set aside.
Sauté the broccoli: Using the same pan, heat about ½ TBLS oil on medium heat. Add the steamed broccoli and sauté for about 1-2 minutes until the edges start to brown slightly. Turn heat off and set aside.
Cook the Rice: Heat 2-3 TBLS olive oil in a large 12 in skillet on medium heat. (2- 3 swirls around the pan). Sauté the shallots (or onion) for about two minutes until they are soft and starting to slightly turn color on the edges (be careful not to burn them). Then add the rice and stir it into the shallots. Sautee the rice for about 5 minutes or until the rice starts to brown a little bit. This will bring out a toasty, nutty flavor. While browning the rice, add some salt and pepper.
TIP: To gain better control when seasoning with salt, I recommend keeping a small bowl of salt on your counter to use when cooking. Take a pinch of salt between your fingers and sprinkle over the pan. This should be approximately 1/4 tsp of salt. For the black pepper, if you have a pepper mill, turn it 3 or 4 times. Otherwise do the same as the salt.
Once the rice starts to brown, add the white wine and cook it until the wine completely evaporates (Should be about 2 minutes). Once the wine is evaporated, add the coconut milk and water. Add another pinch of salt and pepper and turn the heat to high, bringing the liquid to a full boil (Uncovered).
Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to low, put a lid on the pan and set your timer for exactly 15 minutes.
After timer is up, rice should be done. Turn the heat up slightly to medium low. Add the chicken and broccoli to the rice mixture. Mix it all in until fully incorporated. Add soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, ginger and chili paste* and use a wooden spoon or spatula to thoroughly mix all the ingredients together over the heat.