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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