Thursday, November 10, 2011

sugar and spice and everything tasty.

what happened to me? i thought i was doing so well. a post ever 3 or 4 days... then all of a sudden, it's been two weeks! it's seriously like a part of me was missing. 

i thought about it every day. seriously i did. i would think to myself "what can i blog about today? ...ahhh nothing. no one wants to read about how i made a bowl of cereal, reheated leftovers and had chicken grilled on my george foreman smothered in bottled barbeque sauce."

so today, i changed that. chinese slaw salad, soy and chili chicken tenders, and honey roasted sweet potatoes. finally, some good eats around here.

to start, this salad is a staple around the schultz household. if i were to call my mom right now, she could probably tell me every ingredient and it's exact measurement for the whole thing, dressing included.

it is so simple and tangy-good, i would totally make the full 6-serving recipe for myself and just eat my way through it in about 3 days.

let's be realistic, it would take about 36 hours.

next item on the menu was chicken. i was cooking for both my roommate and me and she has recently been on a sweet chili sauce kick. we used the exact same stuff at the restaurant i worked at over the summer so when i first saw the bottle, i stopped what i was doing, blinked a few times, and then shook my head with somewhat resentful memories drifting through my head. on nights that i worked at the saute/pizza section of the line, when someone yelled out for a "sweet and spicy pizza" it was a buzzkill. 

go the freezer.
take out the pizza crust.
go to the reach in cooler.
take out the sauce.
grab a spatula.
grab the cheese.
put on a pizza screen.
put in the oven.
set a timer.

if you think that sounds kind of exciting, you weren't reading it in the monotonous tone that i was writing it in. so try again.

however, there is another reason i feel resentment toward that pizza and hence the sweet chili sauce we used to make the pizza. ok here's the deal. there were 3 kinds of pizzas on our menu: regular (canned pizza sauce), sweet and spicy (bottled sweet chili sauce), and spinach and artichoke (homemade spinach and artichoke dip spread onto the crust). and for the first 3 months i was working there, i had never tried the spinach and artichoke pizza. we never had someone accidentally punch it in or mess one up or anything blissful such as that. and just the way the computer printed the tickets, the person reading them would sometimes confuse "swt n" (all we saw of sweet and spicy) with "spin" (all we saw of spinach and articoke). they would call out sweet and spicy and someone would make it, only to realize after it came out of the oven that the ticket actually said spinach and artichoke.

but it was never the other way around.

i bet we made at least 7 sweet and spicy pizzas that were actually supposed to be something else, but never once was it the spinach and artichoke.

hence my resentment for that sweet chili sauce. it tastes great, but the bitterness it surfaces will not soon be forgotten.

back to what i was originally talking about before that ridiculously unnecessary rant.
sorry, but hey, i never said you had to read this. :)

so yes, my roommate suggested we use it and since we were planning on the chinese slaw salad, i thought it would work out wonderfully. but being the foodie i am who always wants to try to make something better when someone has clearly already spent hours perfecting it, i added a few other things to make the sauce into a sauce... just a better one.

i started sauteing the chicken in a little olive oil, then tossed in some soy sauce. after i flipped the chicken once, i added the sweet chili sauce and a little ground ginger.

wah la! a sauce made into a better sauce.

while all this was going on, i also had sweet potatoes roasting in the oven. those suckers always take so dang long so i chopped them pretty small and tossed them in a little sweetly-spiced honey mixture. i threw them in the oven looooong before i even knew what i was doing with my chicken. so if you think i always plan these meals out earlier in the day or something, i'm blushing with your flattery. most times i walk into my kitchen with an empty stomach, walk around opening doors for about 5 minutes, crank on the oven, take out some pans and just kinda go.

but sometimes i do know what i'm making for dinner before i've even had lunch.
those are the days that normally end up on here.

ok enough rambling, time for some end products!

obviously the salad was great. the cabbage and carrot slaw mix is super crisp and crunchy and then that acidic dressing just cuts right through to hit your palate at the right time. and who can forget the toasted ramen noodles? helloooo. awesomely awesome and maybe just a little hint of awesome. oh and they're delicious right out of the pan. i'm kinda shocked some actually made it to the salad this time around...

the sauce that i created ended up really tangy with the soy sauce and the sweet chili, and the ginger just gave it that awesome kick in the background that i love so much. it also thickened up a lot and turned into more of a glaze... i think i speak for both my roommate and i when i say that my strange decision to try to make one sauce into a better sauce definitely worked out in the end.

mmm. honey roasted sweet potatoes. so soft and sweet and slightly savory and silky smooth it makes my mouth water thinking about the leftovers i have tupper-ware'd up in the fridge. and the combo of the spices they're tossed in make them into a perfect alliteration of adjectives... apparently. ;)

Chinese Slaw Salad
1 bag cole slaw
3 tablespoons butter or margarine
2 packages chicken flavored ramen noodles
¼ cup slivered or sliced almonds
2 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 scallions, chopped (optional)
½ cup sugar
¾ cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup vinegar
2 packages ramen flavoring
Brown the almonds, crushed up ramen noodles and sesame seeds in the butter until golden brown and delicious. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain some of the excess butter. Toss with the cole slaw mix. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small bowl and whisk to thoroughly combine. Toss dressing over the salad or drizzle over each individual salad to prevent soggy leftovers. Serve cold or room temperature. Serves 6.

Soy and Chili Chicken Tenders
2 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless, cut into strips
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 tbsp. lite soy sauce
¼ cup sweet chili sauce
1 tsp. ground ginger
Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large non-stick skillet. Add the chicken tenders and cook for 3 minutes, or until they are starting to brown on one side. Flip them over and add soy sauce, sweet chili sauce, and ground ginger. Stir to combine. Continue cooking until chicken in thoroughly cooked and sauce has started to thicken. Serve warm. Serves 2.

Honey Roasted Sweet Potatoes
2 large sweet potatoes
¼ cup olive oil
¼ cup honey
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. allspice
¼ tsp. nutmeg
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Peel and dice sweet potatoes into small to medium cubes. In a medium sized bowl, combine all other ingredients. Whisk to combine. Add sweet potatoes and toss until they are evenly coated with the honey mixture. Spread onto a baking sheet or shallow baking pan into a single even layer. Bake for 10 minutes and then stir in order to prevent some of the cubes from drying out. Depending on the size of your cubes, continue baking until the sweet potatoes are soft to the touch. Serve warm. Serves 2.

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