Saturday, September 3, 2011

Chicken and Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry

This recipe comes together so super fast, it makes it the perfect weeknight meal.  But the incredible flavors, easily knock it up to "Better Then Take-Out" quality.  When you are craving food from your favorite Chinese restaurant, make this instead.  It is very inexpensive, using up ingredients that you will already have in your fridge.  I called this a Summer Vegetable stir-fry, but honestly you can use whatever veggies you have on hand.  This is the perfect meal when you really need to clear out the crisper drawer!  A little of this, a handful of that- Be Creative!  

I borrowed the marinade from Aarti Seqeira.  She uses it for her Banh-mi Wraps, but I thought it would work out nice here, and goodness gracious I was right!  Yum!  If you aren't familiar with Chinese Five Spice or Garam Masala, don't be nervous.  You can find them both in either the spice aisle or International Food aisle of your local grocery store.  These are very traditional spices used in Chinese and Indian cuisine, that include cinnamon, fennel, ginger, cloves, star anise, pepper, cumin, coriander and cardamom.  I love how she blends of the two of them together- wow is this a flavorful stir-fry.  But not at all overpowering, I promise.  The sauce thickens up, thanks to the cornstarch, and adds a nice silkiness to the dish making it wonderful over a bed of rice.  

Both of my boys LOVED this and one is 4 years old and the other is 9 months!  Owen, my 9 month old, has been really into table food.  One of his favorites is brown rice.  Since we were having it with our meal, I gave him a little with some of the sauce to see if he would like it.  He not only liked it, he loved it, opening his mouth like a little birdie asking for more.  So more I gave him, but with some of the vegetables this time and he liked that even better then the first spoonful!  He just couldn't stop gobbling it up!  It just goes to show that you really need to not be afraid of giving kids different flavors then they are used to.  More times then not they will really love it.  You can always stir a little bit of apricot preserves to the children's serving if they like things with a little sweetness to them.  It blends nicely.

Chicken and Summer Vegetable Stir-Fry
1 pound chicken, cut into bite-size chunks
1/2 cup broccoli floretts
1 yellow summer squash, cut into 4ths or 6ths depending on size of squash
1 medium sized sweet onion, cut in half and then into wedges
1 cup mushrooms, sliced
1 bell pepper, cut into bite sized chunks
4 scallions cut into 1" pieces
1/2 cup peas (frozen work quite nicely)
*feel free to substitute any of the vegetables with whatever you have on hand. You honestly can't go wrong with a stir-fry!

For the Chicken Marinade: 
1/4 cup soy sauce 
2 tablespoons fish sauce
2 teaspoons sugar (splenda works great here)
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1 teaspoon garam masala
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small shallot, minced (about 3 tablespoons)

For the Sauce: 
1 cup chicken broth
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons cornstarch

Place the cut up chicken into a gallon-sized resealable bag. Add all of the marinade ingredints and seal bag tightly. Throughly massage bag to evenly distribute the marinade all over the chicken. Set aside on the counter top while you are chopping your veggies and making your sauce.

Once veggies are all chopped, using tongs, transfer your chicken to a wok or large skillet. Sautee over medium-high heat for about 4-5 minutes until lightly browned. Add the veggies, except for the peas and scallions, and continue to sautee until they begin to soften, about 4-5 more minutes.

In a small bowl, combine broth, soy sauce and cornstarch. Add to chicken and vegetable mixture and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium/medium-low, add in the peas and scallions and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or until sauce thickens.  Serve over rice or hot rice noodles and enjoy!

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