Kids Prepare General Tso’s Chicken for Chinese New Year

General Tso's from the Caylor-Browns

General Tso’s from the Caylor-Browns

Ammon & Carter are From the Year of the Rat (2008), so we made them Rat Masks for some Chinese New Year “ownership”

Ammon & Carter are "Rats"!

Ammon & Carter are “Rats”!

Ammon & Carter flank the Ingredients

Ammon & Carter flank the Ingredients

Chicken 2 ½ lbs. of skinless uncooked chicken strips Chicken Coating (before frying) ½ tsp. Salt ¼ tsp. Black Pepper 2 Egg Whites 3 Tbs. Cornstarch Sauce ½ cup cold water 1 Tbs. cornstarch ½ cup Brown sugar ¼ tsp. Ground ginger ¼ tsp. Crushed red pepper 1 Tbs. Hoisin sauce 2 Tbs. Soy sauce 3 Tbs. Ketchup

Step 1: Marinating the Chicken Thoroughly rinse then marinate the uncooked chicken breast strips with approximately ¼ cup soy sauce in a gallon freezer bag. Place the freezer bag in a refrigerator crisper. I know marinating often only takes minutes, but I choose to marinate for at least 12-18 hours ahead of time.

Step 2: Baking the Chicken Set the oven 350° 1-2 hours before mealtime. Place the marinated chicken breast in a baking dish. I keep the marinate on for added flavor as well as adding water so as to submerge the chicken (keep it moist, if you will). Cover with the dish’s lid or aluminum foil. Bake for 1 hour.

Step 3: Making the Sauce while the chicken bakes In a bowl, mix the cornstarch with COLD water (remember corn starch CLUMPS in warm water). Wisk thoroughly. Add the brown sugar, Hoisin sauce, ketchup, soy sauce, ground ginger, and crushed pepper. Set aside. *If you choose and are blessed with lots of skillets, you may want to pour this sauce in another skillet while the chicken cubes brown. I tried it only one time (seen below), and I didn’t like the clutter on the range eyes.

Ammon Stirs the General Tso sauce

Ammon Stirs the General Tso sauce

Carter takes his turn with General Tso sauce

Carter takes his turn with General Tso sauce

Step 4: Making the chicken coating before frying the baked chicken Take out the baked chicken and allow it to cool (strips cool QUCKLY). While it is cooling heat your favorite wok or skillet (ours is cast iron….woo hoo! I love cooking with cast iron!) on a low-medium heat with 2 Tbs. of oil. Cut the chicken into cubes. In a bowl, mix the Corn Starch, Salt, Pepper, & Egg whites. Transfer the liquid into a Gallon plastic zipper bag. Place the cubed chicken in the bag as well then shake, shake, shake (Ammon & Carter love it… we often sing “Shake your chicken” to the tune of “Shake your Booty”). Turn the skillet up to medium high and pour in the chicken turning occasionally to allow the batter to brown. No need to check chicken temperature, it was baked through in the oven. When the cubes are browned, turn the heat down to simmer/heat. Add your sauce over the cubes. For approximately 10 minutes, stir occasionally making sure the cubes are covered with the sauce.

Step 5: Putting it all Together Pour the liquid over your Chicken cubes, and Guess what? General Tso’s Chicken is done. Serve over steamed broccoli and whole-grain rice of which both I can share another preparation recipe another day.

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Valentine Cookies in Less than an Hour

Valentine Cookies

My Carter & Ammon (just 6 years old!) made these Delicious & Quick Valentine Cookie from scratch!

Sugar cookies

INGREDIENTS:

1 Cup butter, softened

1 Cup granulated white sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg

2 teaspoons baking powder

3 cups all purpose flour

Stirring the Mix

Heart Cookie Cutters

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In the bowl of your mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth.

Beat in extracts and in large bowl. Continue reading

Grinch Kabobs: Healthy, Holiday Snack in Minutes!

Carter & Ammon's Grinch Kabobs

Carter & Ammon’s Grinch Kabobs

I am always looking for looking for a healthy, fun snack for Carter and Ammon. Right at the turn of our Thanksgiving season to Christmas my cousin, Wanda Wimpy Miller, shared a Facebook post about Grinch Kabobs. I loved it immediately.

Here are the Ingredients

From Bottom to Top: Green Grape, Banana coin, Raspberry or Strawberry, Mini-Marshmallow

From Bottom to Top: Green Grape, Banana coin, Raspberry or Strawberry, Mini-Marshmallow toothpick not pictured

I made sure everything was prepared for the kabobbing!

I made sure everything was prepared for the kabobbing!

Seedless green grapes can be found just about anywhere, and Carter and Ammon have loved them ever since they can remember.

Carter proudly displays a kabob

Carter proudly displays a kabob

Bananas frequent our kitchen countertops too. I was glad the strawberries I found were too large for what I thought to be for the Grinch’s red part of the Santa hat. Right beside them was a basket of raspberries which seemed more the appropriate size. We don’t have raspberries in our house much. My children welcomed the taste-change for what was to be “raspberry burst of flavor” (as Ammon called it).

Ammon's 1st Grinch Kabob

Ammon’s 1st Grinch Kabob

I was very proud that Carter and Ammon asked if they could eat marshmallows without grabbing and snatching for them. I instructed, “When you finish all your kabobs, you may have the remainder of your marshmallows.” They followed their instructions without complaint.

Carter and Ammon were literally "transfixed" to their task. They loved it!

Carter and Ammon were literally “transfixed” to their task. They loved it!

Well, I didn’t have camera to capture us all “devouring” the Grinch Kabobs. Nana, Daddy S, Ammon, Carter, and I had them eaten in about 10 minutes. It was kinda like, “Mmmm, that was good. I like that ‘raspberry burst’ that blends with it all! I need to eat another one!”: GONE! I hope you and yours will feel the same way when you make some.

We are making more for a Caylor-Brown Holiday gathering but we need to quadruple the number!
Merry Christmas to All!

Quick, Fun, & Delicious Christmas Pretzels to Make with the Family in Minutes

Yep, Guided by their Daddy H, Ammon & Carter make homemade holiday pretzels!

Yep, Guided by their Daddy H, Ammon &
Carter make homemade holiday pretzels!
Pretzel Prep Time (including Baking) = 30 minutes
Decorating with Vanilla Candy Coating & Color Stripes = 30 minutes
Yield = 2 dozen (24) 3 inch Pretzels

(Simple ingredients for a Scrumptious Treat…oh, yes, we we’ve been studying German and Spanish as well)
Pretzel Ingredients

Turn your oven on to 425° F

Pretzel Ingredients
Packet of yeast
1 ½ cups of warm water
Pinch of sugar
Pinch of salt
3 cups of All Purpose Flour

Vanilla Coating = Log House Candiquik

Red & Green stripes = Wilton Candy Melts

To make the Pretzels alone, you probably already had the necessary ingredients in your cupboard/kitchen cabinets. During the Holiday Season, it was quite easy to find the vanilla Candiquik as well as the Wilton Candy Melts. All I had to do was make a quick trip to Walmart. It had everything we needed.

As you stir the mixture (no electric mixer necessary) keep adding All Purpose Flour, ¾ to 1 more cup to make the dough bouncy and not sticky.

No Mixer = Easy-Peasy!

No Mixer = Easy-Peasy!

Keep a squeaky-clean, flour-dusted surface while kneading the dough.Poke the dough with your finger. If it bounds back, it is ready to make a pretzel ribbon.

If the dough bounces back, you're ready for pretzel ribbons. Kneading is fun!

If the dough bounces back, you’re ready for pretzel ribbons. Kneading is fun!

Depending on the size you want your pretzels to be, pinch off dough so as to roll out a ribbon. It took several trial & error pinches of dough balls to figure out what made our length of ribbon. We had it down in less than 5 minutes. Anywhere from 12-18 inches inches (once again, depending on the size you want your pretzels.

A clean surface helps roll out the ribbons smoothly

A clean surface helps roll out the ribbons smoothly

Shape your pretzels into a circle then twist the ends together.
Egg Bath: Beat an egg, pour it into a shallow bowl or pie dish, give the shaped pretzel a nice bath (both sides) and sprinkle with salt. Some people these days keep Sea Salt in their kitchens, or if you all are like us, use simple table salt. This egg bath with salt is a DEFINITE in this household for regular pretzels. If you want to keep your Christmas pretzels “sweet” you may want to skip this process; HOWEVER, if your taste-buds love that “sweet-salty” combination, by all means, SALT AWAY!

Dust your baking pan/pans lightly with flour for baking. Place your pretzels in the pan and bake at 425° for 10 minutes. After 10 minutes, turn the oven to broil for 5 minutes (maybe less….watching closely ) to help the tops become brown. Take the pretzels out of the oven and find a good place for them to cool down.

Dipping the Pretzels into Log House's Vanilla Candiquik

Dipping the Pretzels into Log House’s Vanilla Candiquik

After the pretzels have cooled for approximately 15 minutes, start reading your directions on how to melt your Candiquik. If you are adventuresome, use a double boiler. If you are more like us, follow the microwave instructions. Use a sturdy toothpick to turn your pretzels. After they are coated, place them on either butcher paper or wax paper. The coating will be hard in about 5 minutes.

With Daddy H's syringe creation, making green stripes on the Pretzels

With Daddy H’s syringe creation, making green stripes on the Pretzels

Finishing up with some red strips from Wilton's Candy Melts

Finishing up with some red strips from Wilton’s Candy Melts

Follow the directions (back of the packaging) for melting the Candy Melts. I used the large syringes (our collection from years of dispensing liquid, toddler medications) for making thin stripes of red & green on the pretzels. The melted Melts liquid is too thick to suck up in the syringes, so I took a plastic baggie, scooped the warm, melted Melts into it, dotted a whole in one corner and pinched in the liquid through the open stopper end. It flows WONDERFULLY as long as it is dispensed QUICKLY. If you do not have syringes, drizzle with a spoon or perhaps a honey dipper.

Once again, making and baking these pretzels only takes 30 minutes. The decorating takes another 30 minutes. So, 1 hour of fun, family baking and a treasured time for Christmas togetherness.