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Gluten Free Orange Chicken – The Real Deal!

My son loves loves loves orange chicken!  Did I say love?  Yup, loves and always asks for it.  He will eat it here and there.  He will eat it anywhere and from anywhere.  Where can most people have access to orange chicken?  Panda Express.  The fast food chain of Chinese food for the non-Chinese!!  As a Chinese gal myself, eating at Panda Express is the worse sin I could ever commit.  It’s like a guy from Italy getting pizza at Pizza Hut or from Mexico buying tacos at Taco Bell or from the south buying fried chicken at KFC! You get the picture?  Can’t do it, won’t do it… my chef dad would never speak to me again! So, I must make my own orange chicken to appease my son and my entire family and also, put my mind at ease knowing I’m feeding my family organic, antibiotic free chicken with fresh ingredients and sauce made from real foods – no chemicals, no dyes, no additives. Oh yes, I made it one step better and also made it gluten-free.

I use a mix of thigh meat and breast meat because the darker meat fries a little crispier.  This is not a heavy batter that creates a thick skin.  It’s light, crispy and flavorful.  I have to use at least 3 pounds of chicken because there is just never enough orange chicken in my family

 

Gluten Free Orange Chicken - The Real Deal!
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Light, crisp, flavorful orange chicken.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Gluten Free Orange Chicken - The Real Deal!
Print Recipe
Light, crisp, flavorful orange chicken.
Servings
6
Servings
6
Ingredients
Chicken
Fresh Orange Sauce
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Cut chicken into bite size pieces. I cut them about 1 1/2 inches. Make sure your chicken is somewhat dry and that the pieces aren't wet.
  2. Place chicken in large bowl or ziploc bag and massage sea salt into the pieces.
  3. Mix potato and corn starch together and then add to chicken to coat pieces thoroughly. You can also use 1 cup of cornstarch if you don't have potato starch handy. Add more starch if the chicken isn't fully coated.
  4. Heat coconut oil on medium-high in wok or heavy pan until temperature reaches 350 degrees.
  5. Start putting 10-15 pieces in the oil at a time. Fry for about 5 minutes if the chicken is submerged in oil.
  6. Strain and place on paper towel to absorb excess oil. Fry all pieces until coating has a nice crispiness to it.
  7. For the sauce, place of the sauce ingredients into sauce pan and whisk it together.
  8. Place saucepan on stove and turn on to medium high. Keep mixing until the sauce thickens and bubbles.
  9. Once the sauce bubbles, place all your fried chicken pieces into the sauce pan to quickly coat.
  10. Put your chicken on a serving plate and you're ready to eat!
  11. Orange chicken goes great on fluffy white rice and sautéed garlic spinach!
Recipe Notes

I use a combination of potato and corn starch, but you can use all of one or the other, depending on what you have handy.  Also tapioca starch is a good substitute as well.

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Hainan Garlic Ginger Chicken Rice

My ethnic background is Chinese.  My mom was born in Nanjing and raised in Taipei, Taiwan.  My dad is ethnically Chinese but was born and raised in Da Nang, Vietnam. I grew up the majority of my life in Seattle, Washington and my only connection to my parents’ culture is through the food.  Taiwanese, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indo-Chinese..you name it, I loved eating it.  One of my favorite dishes that my father introduced me to is Hainan chicken rice.  It’s from his father’s hometown of Hainan, China.  This dish is what Hainan is famous for and there usually are 1 or 2 restaurants in every chinatown that specializes and serves only this dish.  It’s so flavorful and delicious!  It’s a family favorite and I love making it for friends.

This is a dish full of garlic and ginger and savory chicken flavor and you can easily replace the chicken broth for vegetable broth to make it vegan.  This side dish pairs well with my Perfect Salmon and definitely any chicken dish.  Heck, this dish is so good on its own and with anything you want to accompany it with!

Enjoy!  Chi Fan!!!

Hainan Garlic Ginger Chicken Rice
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Servings
8
Servings
8
Hainan Garlic Ginger Chicken Rice
Print Recipe
Servings
8
Servings
8
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Soak rice in water and put aside while you prepare your ginger and garlic. Let it soak for at least 10 minutes.
  2. To easily remove the skin off ginger, use the edge of a spoon and scrape. The spoon makes it easy to scrape around the curves and bumps of the ginger root and minimize waste.
  3. Mince your ginger and garlic.
  4. Rinse rice until water runs clear. Usually this take 3 rinse and drains.
  5. Add coconut oil to a large pot on medium high heat and then add all your minced garlic and ginger. Stir for 30 seconds until you smell the aromatics of the garlic and ginger.
  6. Add drained rice in pan and stir constantly with the garlic and ginger for 1 minute. Add sesame oil and salt and stir a minute more.
  7. If you have a rice cooker, add all the ingredients from the pan as well as the chicken broth into the cooker and turn it on. It will be done when the cooker notifies you.
  8. If you don't, just add the chicken broth directly into the pot and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, turn down the stove to low and put a lid on the pot. Let it cook for about 17 minutes.
  9. When the rice is done, use a wooden spatula or spoon and fluff up the rice by gently scooping and stirring. Your Hainan Rice is ready to serve!
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Perfect Salmon

My husband invited his friend and friend’s family over for dinner one night.  I didn’t know him well at that time and asked Stephen (my hubs) what they like or don’t like.  Of course, husbands are the best communicators who tell you everything in complete detail….HA!  He said, “He loves everything.”  So I figured, ok, I’ll do salmon.  It’s light and perfect for the hot weather we were having.

Lo and behold, they all arrive and the guy hates salmon!  Barely likes fish, and couldn’t stand salmon because it was too “fishy” to him.  I was bummed and hoped he could at least eat the salad I made to accompany the fish.  Well, he was courteous enough to try a bite after seeing his son and girlfriend devour theirs.  He then had another bite and another and then asked for a second helping!  I love the idea my cooking can convert the nay sayers!  These kind of accomplishments are great badges of honor for me.  My girlfriend made my salmon recipe and converted her twin 9 year old boys!  (pat, pat – myself on the shoulder)

I always believe that kids and adults may not like a certain food because they haven’t eaten that food cooked correctly.  Who’d like fish if it were dry or smelly?  Who’d like broccoli if it was overcooked and tasteless or undercooked and chewy?  Who’d like liver if it was mealy? Yep, I’ve even converted people who didn’t like liver!   Ask my kids! Anyways, back to salmon!  When it comes to any food, it’s important that it’s fresh and when it comes to seafood, it’s even more important to me that it’s wild.

Hope you try this recipe if you are a fan of salmon or not.   There’s onions in it and please try that if you’re a fan or not as well… you may become my bragging rights if I turned you. hehehe!

Perfect Salmon
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Please buy wild salmon verses farmed. So much farmed fish have been heavily contaminated and are genetically modified. To get the best flavor and nutrition for your body, it's always best to spend a little more for wild.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Perfect Salmon
Print Recipe
Please buy wild salmon verses farmed. So much farmed fish have been heavily contaminated and are genetically modified. To get the best flavor and nutrition for your body, it's always best to spend a little more for wild.
Servings
4
Servings
4
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Take a sheet of foil the length of your salmon fillet and place it under your salmon.
  3. Cut lemon in half and squeeze one half all over salmon. Slice the other half into thin round slices.
  4. Take the 2 tsp of sea salt and sprinkle over salmon.
  5. Mix 1 tbsp of dry dill or 3 tbsp of fresh dill (4-5 sprigs chopped) with mayonnaise. Spread mayonnaise over salmon.
  6. Cut onion in half and slice both halves thinly into half circle slice. Lay them over the dill mayonnaise.
  7. Grind fresh pepper and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the the onions.
  8. Layer slice lemon rounds on top of the onions.
  9. If your foil is big enough like mine, take both sides and fold to a close and fold close the ends. Or, take another sheet and place it on top and fold at the sides and ends.
  10. Bake for 20 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it sit for another 5 minutes.
  11. Transfer to a platter and you are ready to serve.
Recipe Notes

I use my Just Mayo for my salmon.  It's pure simple ingredients that is vegan, gmo-free.

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Vanishing Spinach Arty Dip

They don’t call it lazy summers for nothing.  With kids out of school and the days hot and BBQs galore, blogging every other day has been a little tough.  Lazy, lazy, lazy.  You feelin’ me?  I feel lazy but definitely don’t like to show it.  Ok, so I may be late to some shindigs, but I like it to look like it’s because I was working so hard in the kitchen bringing something yummy to the party.  Half of which is true.  It’s something yummy and I made it in the kitchen, but working hard does not need to be in the equation to make it good.

My spinach artichoke dip is so easy, quick and comes all together in one pot!  Yes, ONE pot!  I call it vanishing because as soon as it hits the table, it gets eaten up quite quickly.  I made this for Annielaurie’s party last week.  She is a dear friend who lived in LA and moved to Colorado and was back visiting, 4 kids in tow and one in the belly!  Strongest, coolest woman I know.  Anyways, I put down my Arty dip and went inside to help my daughter change into her swimsuit.  I came out and the bowl was empty!  Not kidding! Literally gone and licked clean!  You will be popular if you bring this dip and you may be invited to every BBQ because of it…not for your company – just for your dip.  Hope you guys enjoy this one and know that it is definitely not so nice (on your waistline) …it’s a naughty one – full fat but hey, gluten free!  hehehe…

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Vanishing Spinach Arty Dip
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As you can see from above, I love my Trader Joe's! Buy a few bags of frozen spinach and frozen artichokes and you can make this dip anytime. See notes below to see my favorite plant-based mayo.
Servings
12
Servings
12
Vanishing Spinach Arty Dip
Print Recipe
As you can see from above, I love my Trader Joe's! Buy a few bags of frozen spinach and frozen artichokes and you can make this dip anytime. See notes below to see my favorite plant-based mayo.
Servings
12
Servings
12
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Bring 3/4 full pot of water to a boil.
  2. Empty bag of frozen artichokes and bag of frozen spinach into boiling water.
  3. Once water gets back up to boiling point, let it cook for 5 more minutes.
  4. Remove from stove and use lid to drain all the water out.
  5. Add mayo, parmesan, cream cheese and salt (optional pepper flakes). Stir with wooden spoon with a little pressure to break apart the artichokes. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  6. Pour into your favorite dip bowl or a bread bowl. (I made my artichoke bowl with the guidance of my talented ceramist friend Gabrielle)
  7. Serve with tortilla chips, bread pieces or your favorite dipper!
Recipe Notes

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This is my all time favorite mayonnaise!  It's plant-based, GMO free, eggless sustainable mayonnaise and it's also delicious.  I feel better giving my family this mayonnaise and it tastes just like real homemade mayo.  I like to share the staples with you because we are always searching for the healthiest and tastiest versions of food if you can't make it at home.

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As Good As It Gets Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup

My first few weeks of blogging, I get an email from my dear friend, Debra.  She and her lovely daughter Kyla, love eating Panera’s Broccoli Cheddar Soup but feel so guilty after eating it because it’s filled with cream, butter and tons of cheese.  She wanted to know if I can create a healthier version for them that they can enjoy anytime minus the guilt, fat and calories.

This sparked a ‘light bulb’ moment for me.  How many people go through a diet overhaul due to lifestyle changes, allergies, health problems and/or weight?  How great would it be to have healthier versions of the ‘no-no list’ and make it ‘yes’ again?  Hence, the birth of my Naughty to Nice Challenge!  Each month I will take a recipe that you send me and turn it from something sinfully naughty to something deliciously nice!

So my first challenge:

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

I thought to myself, hmm, I could keep it simple and just replace some of the ingredients to lower the fat content and call it a day.  No!  That’s no challenge for me!  If I’m going to go there, I’m going to go all vegan and healthy!  My vegan and health conscious friends need more options and would love to have a creamy, faux cheesy soup recipe to add to their menu.

So, I started testing things out in my kitchen for the right flavors and consistency.  My results?  Something pretty darn good!  Is it like the real thing?  That’s up for debate.  My kids loved it.  My cheese-loving-husband loved it but said you can’t replace the taste of real cheese. Me?  I say, it’s as good as it gets!

 

As Good As It Gets Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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As Good As It Gets Vegan Broccoli Cheddar Soup
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Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Use a large soup pot and sauté on high heat onions, cubed butternut squash and onions in 1/8 cup of coconut oil until onions are translucent.
  2. Add 2 cups of vegetable broth, turn down heat to medium low and cook it down until the butternut squash and potatoes are soft. About 20 minutes.
  3. Pour the ingredients from the soup pot into a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Be careful blending hot soup. Set aside.
  4. Use the remainder of the coconut oil and sauté the broccoli and carrots for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle sea salt and sauté for 5 more minutes.
  5. Add both cans of coconut cream and light coconut cream, remainder of vegetable broth, and the pureed onion/squash/potato mixture.
  6. Stir well and let it cook for another 20 minutes until broccoli softens and breaks apart.
  7. Add nutritional yeast and nutmeg. Stir well. Add more salt if needed and add pepper to your liking.
  8. Your vegan broccoli soup is ready to serve!
Recipe Notes

What is nutritional yeast?  I'm glad you ask! 

Nutritional yeast is jam-packed with essential vitamins and minerals. In fact, it’s one of the best non-animal sources of folic acid and vitamin B-12.  The yellow color of the flakes is a result of their large amount of vitamin B – ½ tbsp. fulfills your entire daily vitamin B needs. In addition to B-12, nutritional yeast is high in 15 different minerals and 18 amino acids. Talk about a super food!

The yeast itself is grown on beets and dehydrated, so don’t let the word “yeast” scare you away. Since it is plant derived and dried out, it’s free of the harmful candida that can wreck havoc on your digestive system. Think of it as the kind of yeast your body will love!

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Best Ever Hummus

IMG_1286

Years ago, I was at this greek restaurant that had the most amazing hummus ever.  I kept haggling the owner for the recipe and he said jokingly that he’d have to kill me if he told me. However, I did manage to squeeze one secret from him which was to add a little water to the mix. That’s all I needed!  This hummus is light, fluffy, flavorful and perfect for dipping.  It is my go-to and most requested dish to bring to potlucks, BBQs and picnics.

 

Best Ever Hummus
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I love serving this with a variety of veggies like bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and whatever else is in season. Also great with tortilla chips and/or warm flatbread.
Best Ever Hummus
Print Recipe
I love serving this with a variety of veggies like bell peppers, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and whatever else is in season. Also great with tortilla chips and/or warm flatbread.
Ingredients
Servings:
Instructions
  1. Place all your ingredients in a blender or food processor. I prefer a blender because it whips more air into the hummus which makes it lighter.
  2. Blend until smooth. Taste and add more salt if needed.
  3. Pour in serving bowl and sprinkle with smoked paprika and drizzle with more extra virgin olive oil. Get fancy and sprinkle pine nuts on them!
  4. When I serve this at home, I use half and store the other half in a recycled wide mouthed glass jar. It makes it easy to transport or give away as a gift.
Recipe Notes

* I also like to use Himalayan sea salt because of the high mineral content.  Himalayan salt has over 26 minerals that feed the body.  However, if you do use it, add 1/2 tsp more as it tends to not be as salty as standard sea salts.

 To tahini or not to tahini?  It's a personal preference.  I do it either way, but tahini is not always available when I'm making this and it is really delicious with or without it.

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