Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tasty Tuesday- Easy Orange Chicken

Every once in a while, I look at the clock and realize it's 8pm and I still have not made dinner.  If I were single, this would be no big deal.  However, I am married with little children that need to go to bed at a decent hour, so I am left running around the kitchen looking for something quick to cook for dinner.  If you're like me, you find yourself going through the dinner search cycle of opening the fridge, closing the fridge, opening the pantry, closing the pantry, opening the cupboard, closing the cupboard....then repeating those same steps at least 5 more times complaining how there is absolutely nothing quick to make that isn't cereal or pb&j.  Well, let me introduce you to the easiest orange chicken in the world.  I have to thank my lovely mom for letting me in on how to make this. You literally need 3 simple ingredients on hand, and you can easily make a yummy dinner in just ten minutes.

What you will need:

  • Rice (I love brown rice.  I buy the 10 minute boil-in-bag kind or the even quicker one minute microwave bowls.)
  • Pre-cooked Popcorn Chicken
  • Panda Express Orange Sauce
  • *Optional- stir fry veggies
  • *Optional- fortune cookies

Start by making the rice.  I like the 10 minute boil-in-bag rice when I am making this for my family, and I use the Minute microwave ready rice when I am making this for myself for lunch.  I was worried the microwave rice would taste funny when I first bought it, but it's actually really yummy.  I always have a couple on hand, because they are great to make fast when you only get a 5 minute break to eat something for lunch as a mom.  They are also nice when you are cooking for yourself and don't want to make a ton of rice.

While the rice is boiling or microwaving, you will want to warm the chicken.  It is already pre-cooked, so you can microwave it on a plate or bake it on a cookie sheet in the oven if you like your chicken a bit crispy on the outside.  I cook it both ways, just depending on how much time I have.  They are both good.  I usually use one handful of popcorn chicken for every person I am cooking for.

When the chicken is done, pour on the Panda Express sauce.  You can pour as little or as much as you want depending on how much sauce you like.  I recommend starting with a little and then adding more if you want rather than adding too much and having to take some off (trust me from experience).  Next, cover and have your energetic 2-year old go to town shaking the chicken like crazy.  (You can do it yourself too, but it's not nearly as fun.)

When you are done, you should have chicken that is evenly coated with sauce.  If the chicken looks dry or looks like it needs more sauce, add more and shake again.  Put your cooked rice into a bowl and dump the orange chicken on top.  Just like that, you have a delish bowl of orange chicken.  Add some stir fry veggies or whatever veggies you have on hand to bump the health level up a notch.  I like fresh green beans or frozen peas.

And if you really want to go above and beyond, make fried rice instead of plain rice and add a fortune cookie for a fun "dessert".  I usually have a box of fortune cookies in the pantry that I use when we have orange chicken night, but I think it would be fun to make my own cookies with my own messages for my kids when they get older.  HERE is a good recipe for how to make your own fortune cookies if that's something that sounds fun to you.

I love this meal for two main reasons: 1. It is super fast and easy to make. 2. You can make it for one person just as easily as ten people. I should also mention I got the Panda Express sauce at the grocery store, but I think they also sell it in their restaurant.  I have only ever tried the orange one, but there are other kinds that look really good.  If you try another kind, let me know how you like it so I can check it out.

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