Recipe: Chicken Stir Fry

Stir fry is one of my favorite things to make for dinner for a number of reasons.

  1. I love being able to get dinner on the table in a relatively short amount of time.
  2. I like using whatever I have in the fridge for the vegetables.
  3. I love using broccoli slaw for the vegetable when I don’t have anything “bigger” on hand.
  4. I’ve learned to make a fairly consistent sauce with wine that my whole family enjoys.

Tonight’s dinner was no exception. I started with chicken tenders, slicing them into bite-sized chunks and saute’ing them in a pan sprayed with Pam until browned. I then removed them from the pan, added a little bit of olive oil, and popped in the vegetables. Tonight’s assortment included broccoli slaw and fresh green beans. Once these were cooked to crisp-tender, I added my sauce.

The sauce for dinner tonight was a standard for me, albeit unique from most conventional stir-fry sauces. REMEMBER: I USE THE FORCE WHEN I COOK! Using a 1-cup Pyrex measuring cup, I poured in about 1/4″ of hoisin sauce, a small amount of oyster sauce (seriously using The Force on this sauce), a large amount of an oaked Chardonnay (maybe 3/4-cup?), an inch of pre-crushed garlic from a tube, an inch of lemongrass (again, from a tube), a spoonful of flour and a smaller spoonful of homemade pesto. I had mixed this together earlier so the flour wasn’t glumpy and stirred it occasionally until it was time to add to the saute’ pan.

Once I added the sauce to the veggies in the pan, I dropped the chicken back into the pan and popped a package of Uncle Ben’s Microwave Brown Rice into the microwave. 90 seconds later, the sauce was thickened and the brown rice was done… dinner was served!

There are tons of ways to make this recipe your own, but this is one of my favorites. I’ve substituted shrimp, pork, or beef for the chicken. I’ve used Vidal Blanc, Chardonel, or even a Sauvignon Blanc if that’s what I had on hand. I absolutely love the tubes of garlic, ginger, lemongrass, basil, or Italian herbs that I can find at my local market, so usually add a variety of flavors from those handy items. There’s enough salt in the ingredients already that I typically won’t add more, but I have been known to add paprika or some lemon thyme if I want a different taste to come through. It all depends on my mood as I’m cooking.

Dinner in a flash… it can certainly be done, but it does take some thought and a little planning. I’m just grateful that my family enjoys most of my experiments. It’s not a 15 minute dinner, but it doesn’t take that much longer to go from fridge to table.

Try this with your family and see where The Force might lead… a totally unique dinner might be just around the corner!


Recipe: Ali’s Rock Star Tilapia

This recipe uses white wine… I typically use a Vidal Blanc or some sort of off-dry white wine.  James River Cellars makes a Chardonel that I love to pair with Tilapia.  Chardonel is a hybrid grape (made from Chardonnay and Seyval Blanc) that was created at Cornell University in 1953.  You could probably use a Chenin Blanc or a favorite Chardonnay instead?

Start with tilapia fillets – I use as many as I need to feed whomever is going to be there for dinner.  Top the fillets with salt, pepper, and paprika.  You can even use Old Bay…. use whatever spice makes your family happy.  Crush Ritz crackers over each fillet – it really only takes two crackers per fillet, but feel free to use more if you want more of a topping.  Next, thumb some of the wine over the fillet – you’re going for a ‘wetting’ of the fillets, not a drowning, so don’t go crazy.

I now have two options.  Option one is to pop the fillets into the microwave and cook on high for 7-8 minutes, or until the fillets are cooked.  Option two is to top the fillets with small broccoli florets, cover with a damp paper towel and cook on high for 10-12 minutes.  Make sure the fillets are cooked before serving.

I like to serve this with microwaveable brown rice (90 seconds to done)… that way, you’ve just finished making a three-course meal in under 15 minutes and you look like a Rock Star!  (Hence the name, Rock Star Tilapia)

I know there are those out there who are cringing at the thought of cooking fish in the microwave, but honestly, I’m lousy at making fish any other way.  Baking, broiling, grilling are all just beyond me… but I can be a Rock Star with my microwave!