Honey Sesame Chicken

I am surrounded by delicious, authentic Chinese food and I have lots of local favorites. There is a cabbage dish at a local restaurant that I could literally eat every single day for the rest of my life. I’ve also come to appreciate and love a level of spicy unlike anything I’ve ever had in the US (seriously, not the kind of spicy that makes you sweat, the kind that literally makes your mouth go numb). And there is a green bean dish that I order at every single restaurant that has it. But sometimes….

Well… sometimes I crave American Chinese food. That’s right. I live in China and I crave Chinese food – from America. Food that is sticky and sweet and salty (kind of like the Jack Daniels Glaze). Sad, I know.

I was having one of those cravings a few weeks ago, so I went on the hunt for a recipe. I came across this Honey Sesame Chicken and I knew it would be a winner. This chicken had all of the flavors I was looking for. The recipe originally called for using a crockpot – but I don’t have one here in China, so I just used my dutch oven and cooked it in the oven. It was still very easy and mostly hands off! I’ll include both methods so you can choose!

 

 

Copycat Jack Daniels Glaze

One thing you might not know about me is that I am a dip and sauce fanatic. I’m the girl that bugs the waiter/waitress for extra sauces – pretty much every single time I go out to eat. Extra side of salsa, a side of ranch, extra buffalo sauce, extra Yum Yum sauce…. You get the picture. Especially if there are fries and/or a wrap/sandwich of some sort. I think I might even embarrass Jesse a little bit because I’ve been known to ask for 3 or more sauces at one time.  It’s a problem, that’s for sure.

There is a popular chain restaurant that has a featured menu that is all about Jack Daniels Glaze. It’s sweet, salty, sticky, and delicious. We don’t go to that restaurant very often, but when we do, you can bet we’ll order the Sesame Jack Chicken Strips as an appetizer. And chances are good that I will also ask for an extra side of the sauce, just so I can dip my fries in it later.

When I came across this copycat on Kate’s blog during a previous recipe swap I was super excited. Of course that time around the Enchilada Casserole won the blog spot, but I didn’t forget about this glaze. When I was assigned Kate’s blog again for this swap, it was fate.

In the interest of full disclosure, I have to come clean and tell you that the sauce I made would technically have to be Johnnie Walker Glaze, since the only whiskey we have on hand at the moment is a bottle of black label. It’s technically different because it’s a Scotch whiskey and not a Tennessee Whiskey, but it worked. And guess what, this sauce is pretty spot! The only other change I made was to use only soy sauce instead of soy and teriyaki because… well, because I can’t read most of the labels at the grocery store (Chinese characters) so I’m not sure if my store had teriyaki sauce!


 

 

Soft Garlic Knots

Brace yourself for incoming carbs!! Seriously, I was planning out my posts for the next few weeks and I realized I had 4 (maybe even 5!) bread recipes in the queue. Do I have a problem with carbs? Very good possibility!

This particular bread/roll recipe is one that’s been a regular in my kitchen for probably 3 or 4 years now. I even had it posted on my old blog. The only reason it didn’t make the “Top 30(1)” import cut was because I hated the photo and I make them often enough that I knew I would eventually get a photo I was happier with. The time has finally come and I think you’re going to love these rolls just as much as I do!

 

 

Summer Vegetable Casserole

I have been holding out on you. I’ve been making this side dish for almost a year now and I am just now getting around to posting it. The good news is that this is pretty much the perfect time of year to share/make this recipe.

Back when we lived in Ohio, we would have a nice little vegetable garden every summer. By July I was always trying to come up with new ways to use the vegetables that seemed to be taking over every inch of our kitchen. Luckily, I have learned over the years that vegetables are so, so much more than things you just steam and serve along side dinner. Sometimes, even when they are the side dish, they’re the star of the meal.

That’s pretty much how I feel about this casserole, it’s always the star of our dinner. But don’t get caught up on the title, “casserole” fits because the ingredients are bound together and baked with a little sprinkling of cheese. There are no cans of soup or cups of cream in this casserole. There is however a little bit of a surprise ingredient – cottage cheese. Don’t let that scare you. Mixed in with the rice and vegetables it just acts like a binder. Also feel free to play with the vegetables a little bit. I think the zucchini, corn, and tomatoes are a must, but sometimes (like this time) I throw in bell peppers or eggplant.

Summer Vegetable Casserole

Ingredients
2 eggs
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp fresh black pepper
2 tsp Dijon mustard*
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup cottage cheese
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided
2 cup cooked rice (I used short grain brown rice)
1/2 medium red onion, diced
1 cup cherry tomatoes, sliced
1 cup zucchini (1 small zucchini), roughly cut into matchsticks or diced
1 ear of corn, cut from the cob or 1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 medium bell pepper, diced
4 large leaves of fresh basil, chiffonaded

*Sometimes, for an extra kick,  I use 1 tsp Dijon mustard and 1 tsp whole grain mustard. Just depends on my mood!

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a casserole dish or pie pan with nonstick spray. Set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, pepper, mustard, garlic, cottage cheese, and 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Add the rice, onion, tomatoes, zucchini, corn, and bell pepper, stir to coat evenly.

Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish or pie pan, use a spatula to evenly distribute in dish. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of Parmesan cheese. Cover tightly with foil and bake for 20 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 30-40 minutes, or until the cheese starts to turn golden brown.

Allow to coil for 15 minutes. Garnish with fresh cut basil and serve.

Very slightly adapted from eat love drink