Stout Decadence

bon appetit chocolate stout cake st. patricks day dessert recipes ideas

Since my Lime-Pistachio Tart last year was such an ordeal, I decided I wanted to make a different dessert for St. Patty’s Day dinner this year.  I still wanted the same decadence since the main meal is so simple and decided to go the chocolate route.  Bon Appetit Magazine published a recipe for a Chocolate Stout Cake in 2002 that has gotten rave reader reviews on epicurious.com (one of my go-to websites for culinary inspiration), so this one was a no-brainer.  I adapted the recipe to use a bundt pan, and instead of their icing, I used Martha Stewart’s recipe for Chocolate Ganache Glaze.  Serve each slice with a dollop of  french vanilla ice cream and some Bailey’s infused coffee and you’ve got a fabulous ending to a great meal!

Ingredients:

Cake

  • 1 cup stout (such as Guinness)
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cups unsweetened cocoa powder (preferably Dutch-process)
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2/3 cup sour cream

Glaze

  • 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
  • 2/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon light corn syrup

bon appetit chocolate stout cake st. patricks day dessert recipes ideas

Directions:

Cake

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter a bundt pan.
  2. Bring stout and butter to simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium heat. Add cocoa powder and whisk until mixture is smooth. Cool slightly.
  3. Whisk flour, sugar, baking soda, and salt in large bowl to blend.
  4. Using electric mixer, beat eggs and sour cream in another large bowl to blend.
  5. Add stout-chocolate mixture to egg mixture and beat just to combine.
  6. Add flour mixture in 3 parts and beat on slow speed until just incorporated after each addition.
  7. Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. Bake until tester inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 40 minutes. Transfer cake to rack; cool 10 minutes. Turn cake out onto rack and cool completely.

Glaze

  1. Place chocolate in a medium-size heatproof bowl. Bring cream and corn syrup just to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium-high heat; pour mixture over chocolate. Let stand, without stirring, until chocolate begins to melt.
  2. Using a flexible spatula, gently stir chocolate and cream until totally combined; begin near the center of the bowl and gradually work your way toward the edge, pulling in as much chocolate as possible, until the mixture is smooth and glossy. (If any chocolate pieces remain, strain mixture through a fine sieve and discard solids.) If not using immediately, glaze can be refrigerated up to 5 days in an airtight container. Reheat gently before using.
  3. Pour glaze into a container with a spout (like a Pyrex liquid measuring cup) and generously drizzle over cake.

This recipe creates a moist and dense cake with an incredibly rich and chocolatey glaze.  It will be my go-to recipe for chocolate cakes in the future, St. Patty’s Day or not!


Everyone Loves an Irish Chocolate Cupcake

dark chocolate cupcake recipe bailey's irish cream cheese frosting like sprinkles st. partick's day ideas

I always make some kind of treat for my staff members around the various holidays of the year. This St. Patty’s Day, I was inspired by the Sprinkles Irish Chocolate seasonal cupcake and decided to try to create something similar at home.  I found a recipe for delectable, rich dark chocolate cupcakes from Cooks Illustrated and topped the cupcake with a basic cream cheese frosting, infused with Bailey’s Irish Cream.

I’ve had difficulty in the past with getting my cream cheese frostings to be stiff enough to be pretty for cupcakes – while they always taste delicious, they never look fabulous by the time they get to their recipients!  So, I did some research for tips on how to keep my frosting nice and presentable – and boy was I happy with what I found!

Ingredients:

Cupcakes:

(makes 12 cupcakes; per the original recipe, do not double…make two separate batches if you need more)

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
  • 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (I used Lindt 70% cacao)
  • 1/2 cup (1 1/2 oz) Dutch-processed cocoa
  • 3/4 cup (3 3/4 oz) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/4 oz) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon table salt
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) sour cream

Frosting:

(makes 2 cups)

  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cold
  • 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 1/4 cups powdered sugar, sifted (measure, then sift into bowl)
  • 2.5 tsp Bailey’s Irish Cream, to taste

dark chocolate cupcake recipe bailey's irish cream cheese frosting like sprinkles st. partick's day ideas

Directions:

  1. Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position; heat oven to 350 degrees. Line standard-sized muffin pan (1/2 cup capacity) with baking-cup liners.
  2. Combine butter, chocolate and cocoa in medium heatproof bowl. Set bowl over saucepan containing barely simmering water; heat mixture until butter and chocolate are melted and whisk until smooth and fully combined. Set aside to cool until just warm to touch.
  3. Whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder in small bowl to combine
  4. Whisk eggs in second medium bowl to combine; add sugar, vanilla and salt and whisk until fully incorporated. Add cooled chocolate mixture and whisk until combined. Sift about one-third of flour mixture over chocolate mixture and whisk until combined; whisk in sour cream until combined; then sift in remaining flour mixture and whisk batter until it is homogenous and thick.
  5. Divide batter evenly among muffin pan cups. Bake until toothpick inserted into center of cupcakes comes out clean, 18-20 minutes.
  6. Cool cupcakes in muffin pan on wire rack until cool enough to handle, about 15 minutes. Carefully lift each cupcake from muffin pan and set on wire rack. Cool to room temperature before icing, about 30 minutes.
  7. Have the cream cheese cold and the butter at room temperature. In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, butter, and vanilla until blended. Add sugar one-third at a time and beat just until smooth and the desired consistency. If frosting is too stiff, beat for few seconds longer. Do not overbeat. If desired, stir in additional flavoring to taste.
  8. To finish, use a piping bag to frost cupcakes. Garnish each with a candy shamrock.

Tips: While the simple green fondant shamrocks of Sprinkles are super cute (below), I couldn’t find any and certainly didn’t want to make my own on a weeknight.  So, I picked up Wilton Candy Shamrocks at Michael’s (on a 40% off sale, of course!) for just over $1.

sprinkles irish chocolate cupcake


A Feast Fit for an Irishman

St. Patrick’s Day is one of the easiest and least expensive holidays to entertain for.  You could pull a Martha and brine your own corned beef, or you can take advantage of the grocery store sales and make your life a lot easier, but equally delicious! Here is a past menu we’ve served for our guests:

corned beef with cabbage, potatoes and carrots

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas

  • package of corned beef from you local grocer
  • 1.5 heads of cabbage, each head cut into 6 wedges
  • large package of baby carrots (for ease!)
  • 1 lb red potatoes, scrubbed and halved

Cook corned beef according to package instructions, adding vegetables toward the end of braising, cooking until tender.

homemade irish soda bread

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas irish soda bread

A bit of effort, but this bread really makes the meal! (for a detailed tutorial, please click here):

  • 1 1/3 cups whole milk
  • 1/3 cup apple-cider vinegar
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface and dusting
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran
  • 1/4 cup caraway seeds
  • 1 cup (5 ounces) raisins
  • Salted butter, preferably Irish, for serving
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment. Mix milk and vinegar in a small bowl, and let stand until thickened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Whisk together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda in a large bowl. Cut in unsalted butter with a pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add bran, caraway seeds, and raisins; stir to distribute.
  3. Pour milk mixture into flour mixture; stir until dough just holds together but is still sticky. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Pat and press the dough gently into a round, dome-shaped loaf, about 7 inches in diameter. Transfer to prepared sheet.
  4. Lightly dust top of loaf with flour. With a sharp knife, cut an X into the top, 3/4 inch deep. Bake, rotating halfway through, until loaf is golden brown and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 1 hour, 10 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack. Soda bread is best eaten the day it is made; serve with salted butter.

tossed butter lettuce and watercress salad with mustard viniagrette

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas salad

(adapted from Martha Stewart):

  • 8 oz fresh green beans, trimmed and blanched
  • pint of cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 bunch (6 ounces) watercress
  • 2 packages of butter lettuce
  • 3 tablespoons white-wine vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons whole-grain mustard
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot
  • 3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Freshly ground pepper

Whisk together vinegar, mustard, shallot, salt, and sugar in a bowl. Add oil, whisking until emulsified. Season with pepper.  Toss with salad and serve.

green beer and black and tans

st. patrick's day party menu entertaining ideas green beerst. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas

Easiest party drinks ever!  Use your favorite American brew (I think we used Bud Light) and add food coloring for the green beer.  For the Black and Tans,  fill a glass halfway with Bass Ale, then add Guinness by pouring it slowly over an upside-down tablespoon placed over the glass, being careful not to mix the layers.

Lime-Pistachio Tart

st. patrick's day menu entertaining ideas lime cheesecake dessert

While this is a gorgeous dessert, I am not posting the recipe because it was a true pain in the arse to make.  For starters, you have to start making the components 2-3 days prior to serving it and heaven help you if you’ve never made homemade lime curd!  Do yourself a favor, if you want to try this recipe, don’t make the curd yourself.  Stop by your nearest Harry and David store and purchase a couple of their premade jars.  You a.) won’t smell like egg yolk after 3 days in the kitchen and b.) will feel a lot better about eating your creation not knowing what goes into making curd!  That said, this is a quite delicious and decadent dessert and a fabulous ending to a simple meal.


Bake Your Heart Out

Necco Conversation Heart candies cookie valentine's day craft recipeNecco’s tiny pastel hearts with sayings of love on them serve as the perfect inspiration for a  holiday baking craft.  Last year, Martha’s team created these cute, techy cookie versions and more recently, I saw these in the winter Williams-Sonoma catalog, in a chocolate form.   What a festive, thoughtful and creative way to express your thanks and love to those around you this Valentine’s Day!  For the cookies below, I prefer to use a super easy lemon shortbread cookie with a basic, yet modified, royal icing recipe.  Letters are then piped on with store-bought red fondant icing to keep things simple.  These are definitely a labor of love, especially if you are mixing different colors of icing, but well worth the effort!

Shopping list:

  • flour
  • butter
  • sugar
  • salt
  • 2-3 lemons
  • powdered sugar
  • parchment paper
  • meringue powder
  • red fondant icing pen
  • food coloring (gel paste is best, but the liquid version works, too, and is cheaper)
  • heart-shaped cookie cutter

* The last 4 items on your list can be purchased from Michael’s, or other craft stores, with a baking section.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

For the shortbread cookie (adapted from Sunset Magazine):

Makes ~ 2 dozen 3″ cookies

Ingredients:

  • 2  cups  flour
  • 1  cup  cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1/2  cup  granulated sugar
  • 1/4  teaspoon  salt
  • zest from one lemon

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Put flour, butter, granulated sugar, salt and lemon zest in the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on low speed until blended, then increase to medium and mix until dough is no longer crumbly and just comes together.

2. Form dough into a disk; chill 30 minutes.

3. On a lightly floured work surface, roll dough 1/4 in. thick. Cut dough into hearts with a heart-shaped cookie cutter. Arrange cookies on baking sheets and chill 15 minutes.

4. Bake until light golden brown, 15 minutes.  Allow to cool completely before icing.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

For the icing (adapted from Martha Stewart):

Makes 2 1/3 cups

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
  • scant 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder.

2. Mixing on low speed, mix in lemon juice until desired thickness is achieved. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add some water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

3. First outline, then flood your cookies.  Allow to dry completely prior to using your fondant pen for writing.

conversation heart cookie valentines day baking craft recipe

Bring them to your office on a tray for all to enjoy or wrap them in pairs in cellophane bags and tie off with red ribbon for a more personal touch.


Lovely Lemons

lemon botanical print

No Easter brunch would be complete without a luscious, lemon dessert.  There is something about the tart citrus fruit that calls to your taste buds and leaves you yearning.  Here, I’ve scoured the internet and made some adaptations to a couple of recipes for lemon lovers and made crisp and absolutely delicious Lavender and Lemon Shortbread Cookies and light and creamy Lemon Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting, topped with candied ginger.  Two recipes that will, without a doubt, satisfy that lemon craving.  Enjoy!

Lavender and Lemon Shortbread Cookies

for the Shortbread

  • 1 c butter
  • 1/2 c confectioner’s sugar
  • Lemon zest grated from 2 lemons
  • 2 c flour
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t baking powder
Lemon and Lavender Shortbread Cookie Recipe

Cream the butter and sugar together. Stir in the lemon zest and the dry ingredients. Mold dough into 2 flat discs with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.  Roll out dough on lightly floured surface and use cookie cutter to shape cookies.  Bake cookies at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes – in my oven, I found 20 minutes was plenty of time.   Allow to cool completely before icing.

Lemon and Lavender Shortbread Cookie Recipe

for the Icing

  • 1 c confectioner’s sugar
  • 3 tsp chopped fresh lavender (Original recipe used dried culinary lavender, I used fresh because I love the organic look of the purple flowers)
  • 2 tsp lemon zest
  • 1-2 TB lemon juice

Whisk all ingredients together, starting with one tablespoon of lemon juice and adding more as needed to create a smooth, pourable icing.   Pipe outline on cookies with white royal icing and allow to dry, about 5 minutes.  (I only made a fourth of the royal icing recipe for these cookies – you don’t need much) Flood the cooled shortbread cookies with lavender icing and allow to dry.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Makes 12 cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), soft
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 tsp lemon zest (Original recipe did not include this – I added for extra lemon flavor)

Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.
In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Beat in egg. Add vanilla, lemon zest and lemon extracts into the buttermilk and pour half into the sugar mixture. Mix in half of the flour mixture, followed by the remaining buttermilk and the rest of the flour. Stir only until just combined. Divide evenly into the prepared cups.

Bake at 350F for 18-23 minutes, or until a toothpick tester comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack before frosting.

Lemon Buttermilk Cupcakes with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting

  • 1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1  cup confectioners’ sugar (Original recipe had 1 1/2 c – I cut it down by 1/2 c)
  • zest of 1 lemon, grated
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

With an electric mixer on medium, beat the cream cheese until softened. Slowly add the sugar, zest, and juice and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes.  Pipe onto cupcakes and top with candied ginger pieces.


Sweet Greens

Baking makes me very happy, if only because I get to use my fabulous Kitchen Aid mixer. Around the different holidays of the year, I like to bake cookies and cupcakes for my family, friends and staff at work. What a great way to show your appreciation without spending a bunch of money!

shamrock pot

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day this year, I made Martha Stewart ‘s Perfect Sugar Cookies with Royal Icing and tried out the recipe for Vanilla, Vanilla cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream frosting from Billy’s Bakery in New York. Needless to say, they were a hit!

The cupcake recipe was found at a great little blog, 52 cupcakes. I have to agree with the cupcake queen, these are fabulous! I made the cupcakes in gold foil baking cups and decorated them with little shamrock picks I found at Michael’s and green sprinkles. Delicious AND adorable!

billy's bakery vanilla cupcakes


Billy’s Vanilla, Vanilla Cupcakes

Makes about 30 cupcakes
1 3/4 cups cake flour, not self-rising
1 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes
4 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 325°. Line cupcake pans with paper liners; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine flours, sugar, baking powder, and salt; mix on low speed until combined. Add butter, mixing until just coated with flour.

2. In a large glass measuring cup, whisk together eggs, milk, and vanilla. With mixer on medium speed, add wet ingredients in 3 parts, scraping down sides of bowl before each addition; beat until ingredients are incorporated but do not overbeat.

3. Divide batter evenly among liners, filling about two-thirds full. Bake, rotating pan halfway through, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, 17 to 20 minutes.

4. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat process with remaining batter. Once cupcakes have cooled, use a small offset spatula to frost tops of each cupcake. Decorate with sprinkles, if desired. Serve at room temperature.

Billy’s Vanilla Buttercream

vanilla cupcake recipe

Makes enough for 30 cupcakes

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 6 to 8 cups confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until smooth and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes. With mixer on low speed, add 6 cups sugar, milk, and vanilla; mix until light and fluffy. If necessary, gradually add remaining 2 cups sugar to reach desired consistency.

Martha Stewart’s Perfect Sugar Cookies

sugar cookie recipe

Makes 2 dozen

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons brandy, or milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking powder in a medium bowl. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar; add dry ingredients, and mix until incorporated. With mixer running, add egg, brandy (or milk), and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
  2. Transfer dough to a work surface. Shape into 2 discs, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper; set aside.
  4. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Cut into desired shapes, and transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving an inch in between. Leftover dough can be rolled and cut once more. Bake until lightly golden, about 10 minutes; do not allow to brown. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
  5. Decorate with Royal Icing, optional.

Martha Stewart’s Royal Icing

Makes 2 1/3 cups

  • 1 box confectioners’ sugar (1 pound)
  • 5 tablespoons meringue powder
sugar cookie favor
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar and meringue powder. Mixing on low speed, add a scant 1/2 cup water. For a thinner consistency, usually used for flooding, add more water. A thicker consistency is generally used for outlining and adding details. Mix until icing holds a ribbonlike trail on the surface of the mixture for 5 seconds when you raise the paddle.

Remarks: As for Martha’s cookies, I still need to master my flooding technique. Otherwise, people seem to like the flavor of the cookie (even though royal icing pretty much tastes like powdered sugar).  I’ve made them with brandy and with milk.  It seemed to me that the ones with brandy were easier to roll out and less sticky.

To finish, place two cookies in decorative clear bags. I wrote “You’re my Lucky Charm” on the bags – a neat treat for staff to show your appreciation.


Chocolate Chip Cookies, two ways

Kitchen Aid stand mixer

When I registered for my Kitchen Aid stand mixer, I never thought I would get so much joy out of a single kitchen appliance. Not only is my lemongrass Kitchen Aid a pretty addition to the countertop, it is an amazing piece of machinery. I’ll bake simply to use my mixer, much to my husband’s delight.

It’s been raining lately and what better excuse for warming the house with baking smells than a drizzly day?

I found and slightly modified a recipe from Tyler Florence for Chocolate Chip Cookies. One version is a seductively sinful dark chocolate and tart cherry version, another is a delicious milk chocolate, coconut and walnut version. Try dividing the batter in half like I did to make two different kinds! I dare you to eat just one at a time!

Ingredients:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • version 1: 1/2 bag bittersweet chocolate chips, 5 oz. dried tart cherries, 1/3 c walnut pieces
  • version 2: 1/2 bag semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, 1/4 c shredded coconut, 1/3 c walnut pieces

milk chocolate, coconut and walnut CCCs
milk chocolate, coconut and walnut CCCs
dark chocolate & tart cherry CCCs
dark chocolate & tart cherry CCCs

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer; cream together on medium speed until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Beat in the vanilla and eggs. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and continue to mix until a smooth batter forms. Turn off the mixer and fold in your choice of goodies.

To form the cookies, scoop cookie dough into your hands and roll it around into an 1 1/2 inch diameter ball; place them about 3-inches apart onto the prepared cookie sheets; you should get about 9 cookies on each pan. Press down the tops of the dough slightly and bake until the cookies are light brown, 12 minutes for chewy cookies, or about 15 minutes for crispy cookies.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough/cookie sheets.


Cashew Chicken

cooking light magazine

I’ve always been a big fan of Cooking Light Magazine. For the most part, the recipes are quite tasty and are a great way to cut calories and fat without losing flavor.

One of my all-time favorite Cooking Light recipes is Cashew Chicken. I’ve often found stir fry recipes bland but this is a perfect balance between salty and sweet, and has a delicious crunch. This is a meal we make at least once a month, not only for the taste, but midweek simplicity.

chopsticks cashew chicken crate and barrel bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 c chicken stock
  • 3 TB oyster sauce
  • 1.5 TB cornstarch
  • 1.5 TB honey
  • 1 TB soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • oil for pan
  • 1 c chopped green onion
  • 1 yellow onion, cut into 8 wedges
  • 1 c red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 c carrot, sliced
  • 1 c mushrooms
  • 1 c sugar snap peas
  • 1 lb chicken breast, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 c pineapple chunks
  • 1/3 c cashews
  • crushed red pepper for heat
  • brown rice

Directions:

  • Combine the first seven ingredients (through salt) in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in wok. Add 1/2 c green onions and onion wedges and cook until browned. Add chicken to onion mixture and stir fry until no longer translucent, about 5 – 10 minutes, depending on the temperature of your wok.
  • Add carrots, stir fry 2-3 minutes. Add mushrooms, snap peas and bell pepper, stir fry for another 2-3 minutes.
  • Add sauce to wok with pineapple, cashews and crushed red pepper. Bring to a boil, then simmer until thick.
  • Stir in remaining green onions and serve over brown rice. Enjoy!

As with all recipes, tweaking is allowed. I am not strict in terms of the proportions of “stuff” – just don’t mess with the sauce! I usually cook for two, so I’ll often use a bit less of everything with the same amount of sauce.

Stir fry veggies should have a nice crunch, so make sure not to cook them too long. They are perfect when they are beautifully bright and colorful.

Shopping tips: Shop your local farmer’s market for fresh and inexpensive produce. Also, buy chicken breast in bulk when on sale – I usually wait and stock up when it hits $1.99/lb here in Southern California. You can freeze the breasts individually for quick weekday meals.