Surprising Dinner hit!

Sometimes I just really want Chinese food. However, since we live so far into the boonies, it can be a hassle to drive into town just for my craving.

So that leaves me with the option of cooking it at home, which really never seems to work out.

However, a few nights ago, I decided to try one last time. This recipe wasn’t listed as a Chinese-style dish, but rather, as “Hawaiian.” I told hubby he had no choice, I’m cooking it, I’m trying it, and if it sucks, he can have frozen pizza (just like every other time my Chinese efforts have failed, haha). He unwittingly went along, and even chose his preferred pizza in preparation.

You’re really going to have to forgive the horrible photos in this post. You see, I didn’t have high hopes, so I didn’t prepare for a photo shoot. By the time I realized that not only was this meal edible but there weren’t going to be any leftovers, I had to rush the camera out.  The lighting was awful by then, but the meal was fantastic! 

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The recipe is super simple, but I still modified it in a few ways, drawing inspiration from another recipe. The original recipe, Hawaiian Hula Chicken comes from creme de la crumb. Aren’t her photos beautiful? Within her recipe, she calls for sauteing the chicken with the peppers. However, since I wanted that restaurant feel to my chicken, I decided to fry it. I used Fake Ginger’s breading recipe from her Bang Bang Shrimp post.

It is a super easy breading recipe, and it turned out fantastic! Even the hubs was impressed with the chicken.

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The original recipe calls for those crunchy Asian noodles, but sometimes I find those bland. Instead, I found some Salad Pizzazz  Asian Cashew Medley. It’s a mix of sesame teriyaki cashews and Asian noodles. Please note that I bought these on my own, I was not reimbursed or asked to review them. I love them. Joe didn’t. I was eating them out of the bag, and could see myself putting them in my yogurt… maybe even creating a cookie around them… now if Salad Pizzazz wanted to give me a bag, I wouldn’t say no. Haha.

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The sauce is a sweet/spicy combination, and the addition of Sriracha gives it a super cool, hipster feel. Sriracha is like the really cool kid in class that everyone adores and wants to lick.

Maybe I’m the only (weirdo) person who wanted to lick the cool kid…

Sriracha.

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Hawaiian Hula Chicken
adapted from creme de la crumb and Fake Ginger

Ingredients

  • 3-4 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes (I only needed one large breast, use what you need for your family)
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon Cavender’s All Purpose Greek Seasoning
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • oil for frying
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon garlic
  • 20 ounce can pineapple chunks (I used pineapple in real juice – drain the juice into a bowl and set aside for later)
  • 1 cup rice, cooked according to package directions
Hawaiian Sauce
  • 12 ounces pineapple juice – reserved from the can pineapple chunks
  • ¼ teaspoon ginger
  • 1 tablespoon Sriracha
  • 4 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  •  2 tablespoons soy sauce (next time I will substitute Worcestershire sauce)
  • 1/2 cup ketchup
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ cup cold water + 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • optional: Salad Pizzazz Asian Cashew Medley

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and milk. Set aside.
  2. In another small bowl, combine flour, bread crumbs and seasoning.
  3. Using one hand, dip the chicken chunks into the flour, then into the egg mixture; using the other hand, place the chicken from the egg back into the flour. Place breaded chicken on plate. Repeat with all of the pieces of chicken and then refrigerate for 20 minutes. Fake Ginger says refrigeration helps the breading stay in place (it must work because my breading was magnifique!).
  4. While the chicken is chilling like a homie, start cooking the rice.
  5. Now we’re showing off our multitasking skills.
  6. In a sauce pan over medium-high heat, combine the pineapple juice, ginger, Sriracha, garlic, brown sugar, soy sauce, ketchup and vinegar. Whisk like a beast and allow to come to a boil.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the cold water and cornstarch. Whisk vigorously until the cornstarch is completely dissolved.
  8. Once the corn starch is dissolved, and the sauce is boiling, pour the water/cornstarch mixture into the sauce and stir. Gently stir until thickened and sticks to a spoon. Taste test. Adjust heat/sweetness as necessary for personal taste (at this point, I added a tiny more brown sugar and 1/2 teaspoon Sriracha). Once thickened, remove from heat.
  9. Pull chicken out of refrigerator and heat oil in a large skillet.
  10. Once oil is hot, fry chicken 3-5 minutes on each side, or until cooked through.
  11. While chicken is frying, lightly saute bell peppers in another, smaller frying pan. Once the peppers begin to sweat, add the garlic and saute for another 2-3 minutes. After that amount of time, toss in the pineapple chunks and saute until they are heated through, roughly another 1-2 minutes.
  12. Assemble the meal – scoop rice into bowl, top with bell peppers and chicken, then drizzle with desired amount of sauce, top with Salad Pizzazz Asian Cashew Medley.

I can’t tell you how pleased I am with this recipe. It really was a sleeper hit in my house, and I am planning on making it again. To be honest, I was disappointed that there weren’t any leftovers, because I would love a bowl right now!

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Even the preschooler liked this. He started out with a bowl of rice and chicken nuggets, but then he climbed over into my lap and started noshing like a monster on my bowl, telling me his dinner was now mine. Haha.

It’s the little moments like that which create a happy heart.

Have you ever grudgingly tried a recipe only to be pleasantly surprised by the results?

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White Chocolate Sprinkle cookies

It’s so close to Valentine’s day, and everyone is excitedly creating/brewing up some special Valentine goodies. I love seeing all of the pink and red goodies, the heart-shaped sweets, and the adorable love quotes and swirly decorations. Seriously, it makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

You know what else makes me warm and fuzzy? Bacon.

You know what else makes me warm and fuzzy? Bacon.

But, I’m not contributing to that.

It’s not that I’m being anti-Valentine’s day or anything.

Haha. Snarky hearts. Love it.

Haha. Snarky hearts. Love it.

It’s just that I have this awesomely big jar of Rainbow Sprinkles.

They’re beautiful.

And I must use them.

So while everyone else in the blogosphere is busy creating adorable Valentine’s day-unicorn-fart-glitter-hearts-and-bows treats, I whipped up a batch of White Chocolate Chip Sprinkle Cookies.

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With a cake mix, because that’s the easiest recipe ever.

Seriously. If you’ve never made a batch of cake mix cookies, you’re missing out. It takes literally a minimum of 3 ingredients.

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I am, however, going to give an honest pity me moment – the only thing I don’t care about this recipe is just how greasy the dough can get. I’m thinking about subbing the oil with Coconut oil. Maybe that would help me feel better about the recipe, haha. Either that, or stick with the pudding cookie recipe.

But I keep coming back to the cake mix cookies, because they are so incredibly easy.

*sigh* First World Problems, right?

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White Chocolate Sprinkle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 box cake mix (I used Pillsbury Funfetti cake mix)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil
  • 1/2 cup White Chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup Rainbow sprinkles (even though I used the Funfetti mix, I added extra sprinkles. Because, sprinkles.)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a mixing bowl, combine cake mix, eggs and oil. Beat until thoroughly combined.
  3. Using a spatula, fold in the White Chocolate chips and sprinkles.
  4. The batter will be really greasy, and you may need to press the chips into it.
  5. Place dough into the refrigerator and chill for at least 30 minutes. (You don’t really have to do this step, so if you want, skip it. I just prefer to do this with my cookies. Personal preference, is all).
  6. Using a cookie scoop, drop the dough by rounded spoonfuls onto prepared baking sheet and gently flatten. (Don’t smoosh them, just lightly press them down, they won’t spread and flatten on their own for whatever reason. My first batch looked all gooberish…).
  7. Bake in the preheated oven (derp) for 10-12 minutes, depending on your oven. These were perfect in my oven at 10 minutes.

 

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I had to set aside some of these cookies so that I could actually have some left to give away for V-Day. Ethan got a pretty cool set of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Valentine cards, and we’re going to give our favorite little ladies some cookies and a TMNT card.

The trick is to keep the preschooler out of the cookies.

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I do, however, find his enjoyment to be the ultimate compliment, so no complaining here! Trust me, if he doesn’t like something, preschooler E will definitely let you know.

The sad thing is that I am already thinking about my next batch of cookies. I have some cranberries, almonds, and more white chocolate chips in the cabinet. I also have Reese’s baking bits… oh, decisions, decisions!!

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Have you tried cake mix cookies, yet? This is, I believe, my second time sharing my versions with you. Check out my post about my Easy White Chocolate Red Velvet Cookies. Those are kinda Valentiney…

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Coconut Caramel Banana Bread

I picked up 3 pounds of bananas from Sam’s Club the other week. They were lovely, bright, and so irresistible.

I knew, at first sight, that I needed to make a banana bread out of them.

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So I set off in search of a great recipe, because, let’s face it, I’m not a bread maker, haha.

I found two recipes that I really liked. So I just combined them into one that felt better, then added some extras.

The first recipe that I really liked comes from Lovely Little Kitchen, and it involved the use of greek yogurt! I couldn’t resist, especially since I have a container of Vanilla Greek Yogurt that I can’t stay out of.

The second recipe that inspired me is from Rasa Malaysia, and is such a lovely, easy to follow recipe.

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I cobbled the two of these recipes together, because I liked the simplicity of Rasa Malaysia’s recipe, but I adored the idea of using Greek yogurt as suggested by Lovely Little Kitchen.

I then added coconut and caramel (did you expect anything less from me?!).

The result was an amazingly soft, gooey, caramelly, banana bread that even the hubs couldn’t resist! Seriously, he and Ethan couldn’t get enough of it!

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One of the recipes calls for softened butter, and one calls for melted butter. I chose to use softened butter since I was adding the yogurt; I was afraid the melted butter would possibly created a runnier batter/massively gooey bread. I could’ve offset that by adding more flour, but I was already going with 1 1/2 cups, and not being a bread maven, I went with my instincts here. (*bad Honey!*)

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Coconut Caramel Banana Bread

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 3 mashed bananas (about 1 – 1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
  • 4 tablespoons yogurt (I used Dannon Light & Fit Vanilla Greek Yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup sweetened flake coconut
  • 1/2 cup Caramel baking bits

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350° and prepare a loaf pan by either spraying it with cooking spray or oiling/flouring it.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cornstarch, whisk with a fork to lightly mix them together.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer, cream the butter and sugars. Add the eggs and beat until combined. Mix in the  vanilla, banana, and yogurt, then beat thoroughly.
  4. At this point, you want to slowly mix the ingredients, love on them some, it’s ok.
  5. With a spatula, slowly fold in the flour mixture with the wet mixture. It will have a lumpy texture, which is perfect. It also tastes amazing.
  6. Fold in the 1/2 cup coconut and caramel bits. Make sure to slowly but thoroughly mix the caramel into the batter (or you will end up with clumps of caramel, like my bread!).
  7. Pour mixture into prepared loaf pan. If desired, top dough with additional shredded coconut and caramel bits.
  8. Bake for approximately 60 minutes. My bread was a tad over-done on the edges, so I would definitely check it at the 50 minute mark. It is done with a toothpick/cake pin inserted in the center comes out clean.
  9. Let the bread cool completely in the loaf pan before attempting to pull it out.

I absolutely enjoyed this bread, and would make it again. And again.

I love the versatility and classic feel of baking a banana bread, and I really like how adding the yogurt gives the recipe an updated and modern approach.

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This recipe, with the addition of the coconut and caramel, definitely makes for a more dessert style bread, but damn, it was amazing with some cream cheese and a cup of coffee!

Do you have a classic banana bread recipe?

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