Weekday dinner inspiration: Kung Pao Chicken and more

Mon | Meatless meal

Those 32-ounce cartons of creamy soup open the kitchen door to endless possibilities. Use a corn soup to make Veggie Chowder. To that carton, add an equal amount of vegetable stock and then chopped zucchini and red pepper plus a few shakes of dried Italian herbs. Let simmer until zucchini is tender then add a can of diced tomatoes. You can play endlessly with the herb and veggie combinations. Serve with grated Parmesan cheese and crusty rolls.

Tues | Wow! Pao!

Kung Pao Chicken (recipe below) is a restaurant dish that's easily duplicated at home. The recipe calls for oyster sauce, which you can use again in meat marinades, rice dishes or even as a condiment for sauteed vegetables. Serve the spicy chicken dish with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Wed | Rotisserie chicken

Carve the bird and serve it with Broccoli, Bacon and Raisin Salad. To make the salad, mix cooked broccoli florets with cooked, crumbled bacon and golden raisins. Make a dressing of ½ cup mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar. (This should be enough dressing for a pound or more of broccoli.) Dress mixture and toss with toasted chopped nuts if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

Thurs | Heat with your hands

Seafood Taquitos can be the centerpiece of a finger food meal. In a bowl, combine canned shrimp or crab with sour cream, shredded cheese and a bit of chili powder and ground cumin. Roll the mixture into small corn tortillas, secure with a toothpick and fry in vegetable oil until golden. Drain on paper towels. Serve salsa and guacamole for dunking. Alongside, jicama, melon and watermelon slices.

Fri | Skewer power

Kiss the workweek goodbye with Grilled Beef, Pepper and Onion Skewers. Marinate chunks of sirloin in a sesame-ginger marinade (Newman's Own has a yummy one) for a few hours or even overnight. (Save some marinade to brush on vegetables; don't use what has come in contact with raw meat.) Thread meat with pieces of green or red pepper and onion chunks. Brush with marinade and grill over medium-high heat for about 10 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway. Serve with couscous.

Janet K. Keeler can be reached at jkeeler@tampay.com or (727) 893-8586.

>>EASY

Kung Pao Chicken

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

3 tablespoons oyster sauce

2 teaspoons hot sauce

2 teaspoons corn starch

3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided

1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

½ cup dry-roasted peanuts

1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and cut into ½-inch pieces

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

Whisk broth, oyster sauce, hot sauce and cornstarch together in medium bowl; set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add chicken and peanuts and cook until chicken is lightly browned, about 4 minutes. Transfer chicken and peanuts to plate.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in now-empty skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Add bell pepper and cook until lightly browned, about 3 minutes. Stir in garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in broth mixture and bring to boil. Add chicken, peanuts and any accumulated juice from plate and simmer until sauce has thickened and chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.

Serve with brown rice and steamed broccoli.

Serves 4.

Source: Cook's Country magazine

Weekday dinner inspiration: Kung Pao Chicken and more 07/17/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 17, 2012 5:30am]

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